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

Full text of "Select practical writings of Robert Traill"



! I I I nil 

I iiiili! ; iiii 


J I' 

i ii;:'iiii.|.'.! 


1 !n|l! 

.! Ill ': 


i i'l 

! I 

i:i I 

I III' i I;! 

!■ ^M. 


/, 2.//. // 




Section >>) \ \ \ 



* JAN 24 1911 












Traill and his Writings, v 

Six Sermons from Galatians II. 21, ... 13 

Sermon on " By what means Ministers may best win 

Souls, 117 

Vindication of the Protestant Doctrine concerning 
Justification, and of its Preachers and Profes- 
sors, from the unjust charge op Antinomianism, 139 

Sermon on Hebrews XII. 29, 198 

Sermon on Isaiah LXIII. 16, 215 

Three Sermons on Matthew VII. 13, 14, . . . 237 

Sermon on Ephesians III. 8, 280 

Sermon on Philippians II. 12, 13, ... . 293 
Sermon on 1 Corinthians II. 10, ... . 307 

Two Sermons on Hebrews VI. 4, 5, 6. . . . 327 



THE family of the Traills is one of considerable 
antiquity, and was at an early period possessed 
of the estate of Blebo, in Fifeshire. The first histo- 
rical notice we find of them is in Keith's Catalogue 
of Scottish Bishops, wherein it is stated, that Walter 
Traill, who was raised to the metropolitan see of St 
Andrew's by King Robert III. about the year 1385, 
was a son of the Laird of Blebo. Andrew Traill, 
the great-grandfather of the writer of these Sermons, 
was a younger brother of the then proprietor : he 
embraced the profession of arms, and served with 
distinction as a colonel in the wars of the Nether- 
lands against Spain, and afterwards under the young 
King of Navarre, better known as Henry IV. of 

Robert Traill, the grandson of the preceding, 
and father of the subject of our memoir, is well 
known in the history of those who, during the 17th 
century, were suff'erers for the truth in Scotland. He 
was minister of Elie in Fife, and afterwards of the 
Greyfriars' Church in Edinburgh, — a situation that 
connected him with the public events, and involved 
him in the disastrous calamities, of that stirring pe- 
riod. After witnessing the miseries inflicted by the 
Marquis of Montrose upon his country, he was one 


of the ministers who attended that noble to the scaf- 
fold. On the invasion of Cromwell, and the approach 
of the English army to Edinburgh, he took refuge in 
the Castle, with those who refused to submit to the 
victorious general, and in the siege that followed he was 
severely wounded. At the Restoration, and when the 
whole land was maddened with a blind fit of loyalty, 
his deepest thought was for the safety of the Church 
of Scotland ; and with other nine ministers, he drew 
up a declaration to the king, in which, after congra- 
tulating his Majesty's return, and professing their 
loyalty and submissiveness, they ventured modestly 
to remind him of his promises and engagements in 
behalf of the national church when he was crowned at 
Scoon. But for this, Traill was imprisoned with his 
brethren, in the Castle, for the space of seven months. 
Even when liberated, he was narrowly watched by 
the prelates ; and having ventured to expound the 
scriptures to a few friends in the house where he 
dwelt, he was accused of holding a conventicle, and 
summoned before the Council. His sentence was 
banishment for life ; and in 1663, when more than 
sixty years old, he was obliged to bid a mournful 
farewell to his home and family, and retire to Hol- 
land. Such is but a brief outline of his labours and 
sufferings. It does not appear that he published any 
work ; but his two letters written to his wife and 
children during his exile, and which have been re- 
peatedly printed, have been always deservedly ad- 
mired by the Christian public for their apostolic 
simplicity, their tenderness and piety. 

Robert Traill, his son, and the subject of this brief 
notice, was born at Elie, in May 1642. After he had 
passed through the usual preparatory studies, he ^^ as 


sent to the College of Edinburgh, where he distin- 
guished himself in the several classes, and was much 
commended by the professors for his industry and ac- 
quirements. As he had devoted his life to the work of 
the ministry, he applied himself for several sessions to 
the study of theology ; and his heartiness to the cause 
of the church of his fathers, which he ever after- 
wards so nobly defended, was shewn by his fearless 
attendance upon Mr James Guthrie of Stirling to 
the scaffold. But his own personal troubles soon 
followed. His father's banishment had so straitened 
the circumstances of the family, that they were often 
without a home ; and in 1666, in consequence of some 
copies of the Apologetic Relation, a work which the 
prelates hated, and the Privy Council had condemned 
to the flames, having been found in their dwelling, 
he was obliged, with his mother and brother, to hurry 
into concealment. The oppressions of the prelatists 
produced their natural results : a portion of the peo- 
ple prematurely rose in arms, and after great suf- 
fering, were routed at Pentland Hills by the king's 
forces. Robert Traill, it was asserted, had been in 
arms with the insurgents ; and in consequence of this 
report, whether true or unfounded, he was obliged 
to fly to Holland to his father in 1667. In this shel- 
ter of persecuted Presbyterianism, he continued his 
studies in theology, and assisted Nethenus, Professor 
of Divinity at Utrecht, in publishing Rutherford's 
Examination of Arminianism. But his stay in Hol- 
land could not have been long, for we find him in 
London preaching in April 22. 1669, upon the Thurs- 
day previous to the administration of the Lord's 
Supper. It is probable, that in the earlier part of 
the same year he had come to London, and been 


ordained to the work of the ministry by the Pres- 
byterian clergymen in the metropolis. From the 
notices in his manuscript sermons it also appears, 
that after preaching some time in London without 
any settled charge, he was permanently stationed at 
Cranbrook, a small town in Kent. 

In the year 1677, Traill was in Edinburgh, pro- 
bably upon a temporary visit to his native country and 
friends; and, as he was a faithful workman in his sacred 
calling, both in season and out of season, he privately 
preached in the Scottish capital, notwithstanding the 
very stringent laws in force against such religious 
meetings. He was soon apprehended and arraigned 
before the Privy Council, as a holder of house-con- 
venticles. He acknowledged this part of the charge. 
He was asked, if he had also preached at iield-con- 
ven tides, but this question he very properly refused 
to answer. It would have been to confess a capital 
offence, and pronounce his own death-sentence. He 
was ordered by the judges to purge himself by oath 
of having either preached or attended at such meet- 
ings, but with this he also refused to comply. All 
that he would acknowledge amounted to this, that 
he had received Presbyterian ordination in London, 
and that he had conversed with Mr John Welch on 
the English border. Upon these slender grounds he 
was sentenced to imprisonment in the Bass ; and in 
this loathsome dungeon he found Frazer of Brea, 
Alexander Peden, and other distinguished captives, 
who were suffering in the same good cause for which 
he was sent thither. His confinement, however, 
lasted only three months, at the end of which he was 
released by an order from Government. On being 
liberated he returned to his little flock at Cranbrook., 


and, after some time, removed to London, where he 
officiated to the close of his life as pastor of a Pres- 
byterian congregation. After outliving the persecu- 
tion of the Stuarts, and witnessing their downfal 
and the establishment of the Hanoverian dynasty on 
the British throne, he died in May 1716, at the age 
of seventy-four. 

Considering the long life of this eminent divine, 
and his talents as a writer, both in doctrinal and 
practical divinity, it is to be regretted that his pub- 
lished works are comparatively so few. Indeed, it 
would appear from the evidences of his MSS., that 
his ministerial labours were so highly appreciated, 
and the demands upon them so incessant, that he had 
little leisure for authorship. Even his admirable 
series of discourses on the Throne of Grace, had to 
be transcribed from the copies of two short-hand 
writers of his congregation, his own consisting only 
of a few notes and texts, which he had amplified ex- 
temporaneously in the pulpit. Such, too, was his 
modesty, that his first publication did not appear 
until he had attained the mature age of forty ; and 
even then, as he quaintly informs us, it was " ex- 
torted" from him ; and the second did not follow till 
after ten long years, while both productions comprise 
but a few pages. The works which he published 
during his lifetime were a sermon, How Ministers 
may best win souls ; a Letter on Antinomianism ; thir- 
teen discourses on the Throne of Grace, from Heb. 
iv. 16 ; and sixteen sermons on the prayer of our Sa- 
viour in John xvii. 24. These were so favourably 
received, and so useful, that, after his death, the fol- 
lowing works were published from his manuscripts : 
Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of our Faith, in 


twenty- one sermons on Hebrews x. 23 ; another series, 
consisting of eleven sermons, on 1 Peter i. 1-4 ; and 
six sermons on Galatians ii. 21. 

Of the value of Traill's writings it would now be 
superfluous to speak ; that has been equally confirmed 
by his cotemporaries, and by each succeeding gene- 
ration. It is also worthy of remark, that this high 
estimation has not been confined to any particular 
church or party, strong though his Presbyterian prin- 
ciples were, and unflinchingly though they were 
avowed and advocated. All Christians have united 
here in acknowledging the presence of Christian ex- 
cellence. They have recognised the vigour of his in- 
tellect, the conclusiveness of his reasoning, the clear- 
ness of his ideas, and the pure, simple, and nervous 
style in which they are embodied ; and, better still, — 
they have appreciated the zeal, the sincerity, and fer- 
vent piety with which his writings are pervaded. 

It was the original design of the Committee of 
the Cheap Publication Society, that this volume 
should wholly consist of selections from Traill's ser- 
mons already published. But in consequence of a 
suggestion in the memoirs which have been written 
of him, that many of his writings, still unpublished, 
might be in the possession of his descendants, an ap- 
plication on the subject was made to them ; and the 
promptitude and kindness with which it was met and 
answered, cannot be too gratefully felt or warmly 
acknowledged. The time-honoured MSS. of their 
distinguished ancestor, — those heir-looms so highly 
prized by a family, and often so selfishly withheld, 
or so grudgingly given to the world, — were imme- 
diately forwarded, and frankly placed at the discre- 
tion of the Committee. In this way they have to 


acknowledge avolume from theRev.David Trail, D.D. 
Panbride, containing a copy in writing of Traill's 
Letter to his Children ; a volume of sermons in MS. 
from Robert Trail, Esq., Montrose, and also some 
valuable biographical notices of the author, of which 
we have availed ourselves in this brief sketch ; and 
another volume from William Trail, Esq., Bally- 
lough, Ireland. From these a rich selection, not of 
entire sermons, but of subjects and paragraphs, could 
have been made, which would have formed a valu- 
able appendix to our publication. But a fourth vo- 
lume, in the possession of Anthony Trail, Esq., "W.S., 
Edinburgh, and which he placed in the kindest man- 
ner at our disposal, has enabled us to give, not mere 
extracts, but entire and finished sermons. This MS. 
collection, to which we at present refer, contains the 
first sermons which Traill preached in London, and 
which he wrote at length, and with great care, in- 
tending probably to continue this practice, until the 
frequent demands upon his increasing usefulness and 
popularity, and his facility as an extemporaneous 
speaker, soon obliged him to satisfy himself with 
copious notes and illustrations. From this valuable 
source have been extracted the sermon on Hebrews 
xii. 29 ; that on Isaiah Ixiii. 16 ; the three sermons 
on Matthew vii. 13, 14 ; the sermon on Ephesians 
iii. 8 ; that on Philippians ii. 12, 13 ; on Corinthians 
ii. 10 ; and two sermons on Hebrews vi. 4, 5, 6, — in 
all, ten discourses, constituting nearly the half (and, 
we trust, not the least acceptable part) of the pre- 
sent work, and which are now for the first time 
given to the world. 

While we thus express our gratitude to those by 
whom our publication has been so signally benefited, 


we earnestly appeal to others to follow such a gene- 
rous example. Sure we are, that all the rich, and as 
yet unpublished relics of the Reforming and Cove- 
nanting periods, are not exclusively buried in the cata- 
combs of college libraries, or imprisoned in the cabi- 
nets of antiquarianism ; but that much that is valu- 
able, and calculated to benefit and bless the world, in 
the form of MSS. written by the illustrious of for- 
mer days, is still in the possession of many, and the 
publication of which might throw light and lustre 
upon the history of our national church, and the in- 
dividual piety of former days. And we make this 
appeal to their kindness the more fearlessly, that our 
Society exists for no selfish, or merely party purposes. 
Alas ! the question is not now about any particular 
dogma : it is Presbyterianism, nay it is Protestantism 
itself which is about to be summoned to the life-and- 
death struggle, and all who love the truth must unite, 
and defend it at whatever sacrifice. And how can 
those serpent-superstitions of former ages that have 
crept into the light of day, and swollen into such por- 
tentous bulk, be more fitly encountered, than by the 
same weapons, and by the very men under whose 
giant tread they writhed, and were all but extermi- 
nated ? We trust that we do not look to the sepul- 
chres of our fathers in vain ; and that, though dead, 
they shall thus yet speak, and animate with a trum- 
pet-voice the hearts of their children, who may be 
about to inherit their conflict, as they have inherited 
their names. 





" I do not frustrate the grace of God : for if righteousness come by 
the law, then Christ is dead in vain." — Gal. ii. 21. 

THE scope of the apostle Paul in this epistle, is to 
reprove the church that he writes to, for a great 
and sudden apostacy from that faith of the gospel that 
they were planted in. The apostle Paul himself was 
one of the main planters amongst them ; and quickly 
after his removal from them false brethren crept in 
amongst them, and perverted them from the simpli- 
city that was in Christ : their great error lay here, in 
mixing the works of the law with the righteousness 
of Christ, in the grand point of the justification of 
a sinner before God. Throughout this epistle the 
apostle argues strongly against this error : they had 
not renounced the doctrine of Christ ; they did not 
deny justification by faith in him ; but they thought 


that the works of the law were to be added to their 
faith in Christ, in order to their justification. 

I shall only take notice briefly of a few of his argu- 
ments against this error, as they lie in the context, 
to lead you to the words that I have read, and 
mean to speak to. 

The former part of the chapter is historical, tell- 
ing them what he had done, and what had befallen 
him some years ago ; how he was entertained and re- 
ceived by the great servants of Christ at Jerusalem, 
Peter, James, and John, that seemed to be pillars, 
and were indeed so : see the first ten verses. The 
next thing that he breaks forth into, in point of argu- 
ing with them, is upon the account of Peter's dissimu- 
lation, and Paul's reproof of him. The point seemed 
to be very small : Peter had made use of his Christian 
liberty in free converse with the believing Gentiles ; 
but when some of the brethren of the Jews came from 
Jerusalem, he withdrew himself, and separated from 
them, fearing them of the circumcision; fearing 
that they would take it ill : a weak kind of fear it 
was, and upon this small thing the apostle set him- 
self against him with great zeal. " I withstood him," 
saith he, "to the face, because he was to be blamed," 
(ver. 11). By this withdrawing the use of his Christian 
liberty, he hardened the Jews, and he weakened the 
hands of the weaker Jewish converts, that thought 
the wall of partition between the Jews and Gentiles 
was not yet taken away. 

1st, His first argument against mingling the works 
of the law with faith in justification, is taken from 
the practice of the believing Jews. What way did 
they take to be justified ? " We who are Jews by 
nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that 


a man is not justified by the works of the law, but 
by the faith of Jesus Christ ; even we have believed 
in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the 
faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law ; 
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justi- 
fied," (ver. 15, 16). 

2dly, His next argument is taken from the bad effect 
and sad consequence of seeking righteousness by the 
law, (ver. 17), which, because it is something dark, 
I would explain it a little in a few words : " But if, 
while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves 
are also found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister 
of sin \ God forbid." " If so be we that have sought 
righteousness in Jesus Christ, if we have yet any 
dealings with the law in point of righteousness, we 
are found sinners still ; and if a justified man be 
found a sinner, why then Jesus Christ, instead of de- 
livering us from the bondage of the law, is found a 
minister of sin." 

Zdly, His third argument is yet strongest of all, 
and some way the darkest, (ver. 20), " For I through 
the law am dead unto the law, that I might live un- 
to God." As if he should have said, " For my part, all 
the use that I got of the law, the more I was acquainted 
with it, it slew me the more, and I died the more to 
it, that I might live to God ; all that the law can do 
to me in point of justification, is only to condemn me, 
and it can do no more." And whensoever the law 
enters into a man's conscience it always doth this ; 
".When the commandment came, sin revived, and I 
died : the commandment slew me," (Rom. vii. 9, 11). 

4:ihly, His next argument is taken from the nature 
of the new life that he led, (ver. 20), " I am cruci- 
fied with Christ, nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but 


Christ liveth in me : and the life which I now live in 
the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who 
loved me, and gave himself for me." Words of ex- 
traordinary form, but of more extraordinary matter : 
words that one would think seem to be some way 
cross to one another : but yet they set forth glo- 
riously that gracious life that through Christ Jesus 
is imparted to justified believers. " Christ died for 
me, and I am crucified with Christ ; and yet I live, 
but it is Christ that lives in me, and Christ lives in 
me only by faith." 

My text contains two arguments more, drawn from 
a common natural head of arguing against error, by 
the absurdities that necessarily flow from it ; and they 
are two the greatest that can be, " Frustrating the 
grace of God," — and " making the death of Christ 
to be in vain." And greater sins are not to be com- 
mitted by men : the greater sin, the unpardonable 
sin, is expressed in words very like to this, (Heb. 
X. 29) : " Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, 
shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under 
foot the Son of God ; and hath counted the blood of 
the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy 
thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace ?" 
And how near to one another are frustrating the grace 
of God, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace, and 
making Christ's death to be in vain, and counting 
the blood of the covenant an unholy thing ! 

There are two words to be explained before we go 
any further : Is^, What is the grace of God ? 2dly, 
What is it to frustrate the grace of God ? 

First, What is the grace of God ? The grace of 
God hath two common noted acceptations in the 


1. It is taken and used in the scripture for the doc- 
trine of the grace of God, and so it is frequently used ; 
the gospel itself is called the grace of God, (Tit. 
ii. 11) : " The grace of God that bringeth salva- 
tion hath appeared unto all men :" that is, the gos- 
pel ; for it is the teaching grace of God that is there 
spoken of, called by the apostle " the gospel of his 
grace." And this grace of God may be received in 
vain. Many may have this grace of God and go 
to hell. Pray that ye receive not the grace of God 
in vain. 

2. By the grace of God in the word is understood 
the blessing itself ; and this is never frustrated : that 
grace that called Paul, that grace that wrought 
mightily with him, that was not given him in vain : 
" The grace that was bestowed was not in vain, for I 
laboured more abundantly than they all ; yet not I, 
but the grace of God that was with me." The gospel 
of the grace of God is frequently frustrated, but the 
grace itself is never so. 

Secondly, What is it to frustrate this grace of God? 
The word that I remember in the original is used, 
(Markvii. 9) : "Ye makevoid(or reject) the command- 
ments of God." It is the same word with that in my 
text : to frustrate the grace of God, is to defeat it of 
its end, to miss the end of it. Luke vii. 30, it is said 
the Pharisees and Lawyers frustrated the grace of 
God against themselves; or, as we read it there, 
" they rejected the counsel of God against them- 
selves." The true grace of God itself can never be 
frustrated; it always reaches its end, for it is almighty: 
but the doctrine of the grace of God is many times 
rejected ; and the apostle here in the text speaks of 
it as a sin that they are guilty of that speak of right- 


1 8 SERMON I. 

eousness by the works of the law. There is one thing 
that I would observe in general from the scope of the 
apostle, viz. that in the great matter of justification 
the apostle argues from his own experience : the true 
way to get sound light in the main point of the justi- 
fication of a sinner before God, is to study it in thy 
own personal concern ; if it be bandied about by men 
as a notion only, as a point of truth, discoursing 
wantonly about it, it is all one in God's sight whether 
men be sound or unsound about it; they are unsound 
in heart how sound soever they are in head about it. 
The great way to know the right mind of God about 
the justification of a poor sinner, is for all to try it 
with respect to themselves. Would the apostle say, 
" I know how I am justified, and all the world shall 
never persuade me to join the righteousness of the 
law with the righteousness of Christ." 

There are four points of doctrine that I would 
raise, and observe from the first part of these words : 

1. That the grace of God shines gloriously in the 
justifying of a sinner through the righteousness of 

2. It is a horrible sin to frustrate the grace of 

3. All that seek righteousness by the law do frus- 
trate the grace of God in the gospel. 

4. That no sound believer can be guilty of this 

I would speak to the first of these at this time : 
That the grace of God shines gloriously in the jus- 
tifying of a sinner by the righteousness of Christ 
alone. When the apostle speaks of it, how fre- 
quently is this term " grace" added ? " Being justi- 
fied freely by his grace, through the redemption that 


is in Christ Jesus,'' (Rom. iii. 24). " That being 
justified by his grace, we might be made heirs accord- 
ing to the hope of eternal life." 

There are four things to be explained here, that 
will make our way plain to the proof of this point. 
What is justification 1 Who is it that doth justify ? 
Who are justified 1 And upon what account 1 

1st, What is justification ? We read much of it in 
our Bible, and the doctrine of it is reckoned one of 
the fundamental points of the true Christian religion, 
and so indeed it is. This grand doctrine, the foun- 
tain of our peace, and comfort, and salvation, was 
wonderfully darkened in the Popish kingdom ; and 
the first light of the reformation, that God was 
pleased to break up in our forefathers' days, was 
mainly about this great doctrine. Justification is 
not barely the pardon of sin ; it is indeed always in- 
separable from it ; the pardon of sin is a fruit of it, 
or a part of it. Justification is God's acquitting a 
man, and freeing him from all attainder ; it is God's 
taking ofi" the attainder that the broken law of God 
lays upon every sinner. " Who is he that shall con- 
demn ? It is God that justifies," (Rom. viii. 33). 
Justification and condemnation are opposites ; every 
one is under condemnation that is not justified, and 
every justified man is freed from condemnation. 
Justification is not sanctification ; it is an old Popish 
error, sown in the hearts of a great many Protest- 
ants, to think that justification and sanctification are 
the same. Justification and sanctification are as far 
diff'erent as these two : — There is a man condemned 
for high treason against the king by the judge, and 
the same man is sick of a mortal disease ; and if he 
dies not by the hands of the hangman to-day, he 


may die of his disease to-morrow : it is the work of 
the physician to cure the disease, but it is an act of 
mercy from the king that must save him from the 
attainder. Justification is the acquitting and repeal- 
ing the law-sentence of condemnation ; sanctification 
is the healing of the disease of sin, that will be our 
bane except Christ be our physician. 

Justification and sanctification are always insepa- 
rable, but they are wonderfully distinct. Justification 
is an act of God's free grace ; sanctification is a work 
of God's Spirit : sanctification is a work wrought 
within us; justification is something done about us, 
and therefore justification is everywhere spoken of 
in the word in the terms of a court act. 

2dly, Who is he that justifies 1 I answer, God 
only : " Who shall lay any thing to the charge of 
God's elect \ It is God that justifies," (Rom. viii. 33). 
Who shall condemn \ He only can justify that 
gives the law : he only can justify that condemns for 
sin : he only can justify that is wronged by sin, (Mark 
ii. 7). The Pharisees blasphemed, it was in their 
darkness ; but yet the truth that they spake was 
good, though the application of it was quite naught : 
" Why doth this man speak blasphemies 1 who can 
forgive sin, but God only ?" In the case of the man 
sick of the palsy, whose sins Christ first forgave be- 
fore he healed him of the palsy — so that tlie forgive- 
ness of his sins was his justification, and the healing 
of his disease was as if it were the type of his sancti- 
fication — their application was wrong, in that they 
did not know that Christ was God, and that he had 
power on earth to forgive sins : but the truth itself 
was sound — " none can forgive sins but God only." 

Justification is an act of the judge ; it is only the 


judge and lawgiver that can pronounce it : and 
" there is but one lawgiver," saith James, " that 
can both save and destroy," (chap. iv. 12). None 
properly offended by sin but God, and nothing vio- 
lated by sin so immediately as the law of God. 

Sdly, Who is justified ? Every one is not justified. 
What sort of a man is he that is justified ? Justifi- 
cation is the acquitting of a man from all attainder, 
and it is God's doing alone ; but what sort of a man 
is it that is justified ? Is it a holy man ? a man newly 
come from heaven \ Is it a new sort of a creature, 
rarely made and framed ? No : it is a sinner : it is 
an ungodly man : " God justifies the ungodly." 

The man is not made godly before he is justified, 
nor is he left ungodly after he is justified ; he is not 
made godly a moment before he is justified, but he 
is justified from his ungodliness by the sentence of 
justification : when he is dead in sins and trespasses, 
quickening comes, and life comes, (Eph. ii. 1). 

4^/iZi/, Upon what account is all this done ? And 
this is the hardest of all. You have heard that jus- 
tification is the freeing of a man from all charge, 
and that it is done by God alone, and given to a man 
before he can do any thing of good — for no man can 
do any thing that is good till he be sanctified, and 
no man is sanctified till he is justified ; but the 
grand question is, "How can God justly do this?" 
saith the apostle, (Rom. iii. 26). " That he might 
be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in 
Jesus." How can God be just, and yet justify an 
ungodly man ? " To justify the wicked, and to con- 
demn the righteous, are both an abomination in the 
sight of God," when practised by man, Prov. xvii. 15. 
How then can God justify the ungodly ? The grand 


account of this is, God justifies the ungodly for the 
sake of nothing in himself, but solely upon the ac- 
count of this righteousness of Christ, that the apostle 
is here arguing upon : " Being justified freely by his 
grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus 
Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation 
through faith in his blood," (Rom. iii. 24, 25). 
When God justifies a man, the righteousness of 
Christ is reckoned to him, and God deals with him 
as a man in Christ ; and therefore his transgressions 
are covered, and the man is made the righteousness 
of God in Christ, because Christ is made of God 
unto him righteousness, (1 Cor. i. 30), " Of him are 
ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us 
righteousness." Where is the poor man's righteous- 
ness that is justified '? It is in Christ Jesus. For, 
(2 Cor. V. 21), " He hath made him to be sin for us 
who knew no sin, that we might be made the right- 
eousness of God in him." And to be made the right- 
eousness of God, is nothing else but to be made 
righteous before God in and through Jesus Christ. 

These things considered, the proof of this point is 
very easy — That the grace of God shines gloriously 
in the way of justifying a sinner by the righteousness 
of Jesus Christ : I shall therefore add but a few 
things more in the proof of it. 

First, In this way all is of God, and nothing of 
the creature's procuring, and therefore it is of grace. 
Grace always shines most brightly where man ap- 
pears least ; every thing that tends to advance the 
power and efficacy of man's working, always hinders 
the shining forth of the glory of the grace of God ; 
but ui this way of justifying us through the right- 
eousness of Christ, grace shines forth most gloriously, 


because it is all of God : we do nothing in it. To 
instance in a few things here, 

1. The finding out of this righteousness by which 
we are justified is of God alone. If the question had 
been put to all the angels in heaven, and to many 
worlds of men, if this one question had been put, How 
can a just and holy God justify a sinner ? no created 
understanding could ever have been able to find out 
how it could be done ; it was the infinite wisdom of 
God alone that found out this way. He will send 
his own Son to be a sinless man, that shall sustain 
the persons, and bear the sins, and take away the 
sins of all that shall be justified. The native sense 
of all mankind is this : when we know any thing of 
God, we know that it stands with his nature to con- 
demn sin, and hate the sinner ; but how it can stand 
with his justice to acquit a sinner, it is God only 
that could find out that. 

2. As the finding out of the way of our justifica- 
tion is of God alone, so the working out of it is 
Christ's alone. There was no creature of God's 
counsel in finding out the way, so there was no crea- 
ture Christ's helper in making the way. All the 
great work of fulfilling the righteousness of the law 
was done by Christ alone ; none could offer to help 
in the great work of bearing the weight of his Fa- 
ther's wrath, and bearing the burden of the justice of 
God, for the sins of his church. Our Lord was the 
alone bearer of this ; he alone brought in everlast- 
ing righteousness, and " put away sin by the sacri- 
fice of himself," (Heb. ix. 26). 

3. The applying of this righteousness is only of 
God also. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring 
it close unto the sinner by faith ; and here we have 


as little to do as in the former. There was none of 
God's everlasting counsel in the finding out this way, 
nor had Christ any helper in the work of redemp- 
tion ; and we help the Spirit of God as little in his 
work of applying this : for till the grace of God pre- 
vails upon the heart, there is a constant struggling 
against it. There are many poor sinners that have 
struggled with the Spirit of God seeking to save 
them, more than many believers have ever strove 
with Satan seeking to destroy them. All unbe- 
lievers are led more tamely to hell by the devil, than 
believers are led quietly to heaven by the Spirit of 

4. The securing all this by the everlasting cove- 
nant is of God only. We seal God's covenant by our 
faith for the benefit of it ; but it is Christ's great seal 
that is its security, even the seal of his own blood : 
" This is my blood of the new testament, which is 
shed for many, for the remission of sins," (Matt. xxvi. 
28). And so much for this first thing : The grace 
of God shines gloriously in the way of justifying a 
sinner by the righteousness of Christ ; because it is 
altogether of God, the sinner hath no hand in it. 

Secondly i This will further appear, if we consider 
what vile creatures the receivers of it are ; they have 
nothing to procure it, nothing to deserve it, but a 
great deal to deserve the contrary. In that, Rom. v., 
they have three names : Ver. 6, we are called " un- 
godly," — " In due time Christ died for the ungodly." 
Ver. 8, we are called " sinners," — " Whilst we were 
yet sinners, Christ died for us." Ver. 10, we are 
called " enemies," — " When we were enemies, we 
were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." 
Here are three names : Ungodly ! Sinners ! Enemies ! 


the highest words whereby ill-deserving can be well 
expressed ; and it is the usual way of the Spirit of God 
to lay open the worst in a poor sinner, when God is 
about to give the best ; and all they that receive it 
receive this grace under these names. " God be 
merciful to me a sinner," saith the poor publican ; 
and " this man," saith our Lord, " went down to his 
house justified," (Luke xviii. 13, 14). "Jesus Christ 
came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am 
chief," saith Paul, (1 Tim. i. 15). 

And not only is it so that they are undeserving 
and unworthy, but they are also very proud and vain, 
and have a great opinion of themselves ; and must 
it not be great grace then to justify such men ? 
" Thou say est, I am rich, and increased with goods, 
and have need of nothing," saith our Lord to the 
church of Laodicea ; " and knowest not that thou art 
wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and 
naked :" even when Christ is courting them to buy 
of him his gold and white raiment, (Rev. iii. 17, 18). 

Thirdly, The grace of God in justifying a sinner 
through the righteousness of Christ appears to be 
very glorious, even in the very naming of it : it is 
the grace of God ; it must be great grace, for it is 
the grace of God ; it is the grace of a holy God ; ;it 
is the grace of a just God ; it is the grace of a power- 
ful God ; it is the grace of that God that can do 
every thing : every name that exalts the glory of 
God, doth also raise the value of thi's grace : it is the 
grace of God towards vile sinners, and that makes it 
great indeed. Let us consider this grace of God a 

This grace of God is dear to God, and therefore 
it is the more grace. The grace of God in justifying 


US is dear to God ; it cost the Father dear to part 
with his own Son ; it cost the Son dear to part with 
his own life to bring in this righteousness ; and, if I 
may so say, it cost the Holy Ghost dear to work the 
faith of this righteousness in the heart of a poor 
sinner. When we consider how all things else that 
God did were easily done but this. When the world 
was to be made, no more is to be done but " Let 
it be ;" but when the world was to be redeemed, 
" Let it be" will not do ; a body must be prepared 
for the Son, and that body must be sacrificed for sin, 
and be slain, and sustain the wrath of God, and the 
curse of the law ; and all this to bring in an everlast- 
ing righteousness. 

Again, this grace that was so dear to God comes 
to us good cheap, we give nothing for it : the Lord 
will take nothing for it, we have nothing to give : 
the apostle doth not think it enough to say, " being 
justified by his grace ;" but he adds, " being justified 
FREELY by his grace," (Rom. iii. 24). " Whosoever 
will, let him take of the water of life FREELY," (Rev. 
xxii. 17). Taking implies some freedom in it, but 
taking freely is a redoubling of the expression. This 
grace of God that is so dear to God, comes good 
cheap to us, it cost us nothing. 

Again, this grace of God is everlasting; it is 
the eternal raiment of all believers, even of them 
that are in heaven. Saith the apostle, Rom. v. 21, 
" Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal 
life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Observe, neither 
grace, nor righteousness, nor eternal life, nor Jesus 
our Lord, cease in heaven ; they are all there to- 
gether; Christ as the author of eternal life, and 
worker of righteousness ; and the believer as the pos- 


sessor of eternal life, and the enjoyer of this life ; and 
grace as the high spring of all : grace is in heaven ; 
the reign of grace is only in heaven. That of Rev. 
xix. 8. is by most understood to relate to the other 
world ; and it is said there, that " unto the Lamb's 
wife it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean 
and white;" and that fine linen is the righteousness 
of Christ, in which the saints stand everlastingly ac- 
cepted before God. " Behold I and the children that 
thou hast given me !" saith our Lord, (Heb. ii. 13), 
and their glory in heaven is to behold the glory that 
he had with the Father, as their head, before the 
world began, (John xvii. 24). 

Again, it is grace, because it is very abundant : 
it is an usual thing in the Old Testament to call great 
things by the name of God, as the trees of God, the 
city of God, the river of God; now this grace of God 
is so called because it is great, exceedingly abundant : 
saith the apostle Paul concerning it, " The grace of 
our Lord Jesus was exceeding abundant towards me," 
(1 Tim. i. 14). Did ever any of you know how many 
sins you had 1 Yet you must have a great deal more 
grace, or you can never be saved ; there must be more 
grace than sin, or you cannot be saved, (Rom. v. 20): 
" The law entered that sin might abound ; but where 
sin abounded, grace did much more abound." I do 
not say, no man can be saved unless he hath more in- 
herent grace than he hath inherent corruption in 
him ; but, unless there be a greater abundance of the 
grace of God for covering of sin, than there is of sin 
to be covered, no man can be saved : the apostle 
adds a much more abundance to it. One would think 
there was enough of sin and guilt in the disobedience 
of the first Adam ; and so there was ; but, saith the 


apostle, tlie matter is far greater here :' *^ And not as 
it was by one that sinned, so is the gift ; for the judg- 
ment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift 
is of many offences unto justification : for if by one 
man's offence death reigned by one, much more they 
which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift 
of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Christ 
Jesus," (ver. 16, 17, of that 5th chapter of the Ro- 
mans). There is abundance of grace, and of the gift 
of righteousness through Jesus Christ, needful to save 
any sinner. When the Lord makes this matter to 
balance in the eyes of his people, and there are great 
discoveries made to them of the aggravations and of 
the multitude of their sins; this is a common wicked 
thought arising in their awakened consciences. Can 
God forgive? Can God pass by so many and so 
great transgressions ? It is a sinful thought ; the plain 
meaning of it is, " Is there more grace in God than 
there is sin and guilt with me?" We were all un- 
done if it was not so ; if Christ's righteousness was 
not more able to justify than the first Adam's sin 
was to condemn, no man could be saved. The grace 
of God shines in this way of the justification of a 
sinner by the righteousness of Christ, in that there 
is an abundance of it imparted to all them that par- 
take of it. 

Application. — You have heard that the grace of 
God shines gloriously in the justification of a sinner 
by the righteousness of Christ: in all your dealings, 
then, with God, mind grace mainly : they that never 
had an errand to God for the blessing of justification, 
they may possibly be saved ; but they are not yet in 
the way to salvation that were never yet concerned 


about this question, How shall a man be acquitted 
before God ? or that never treated with God about 
justification. In all your dealings with God still re- 
member grace : when you come for justification, plead 
for it as grace : when you receive it, receive it as 
grace : and when you praise for it, praise for it as 
grace ; and thus will you behave as the people of 
God have done. "When you plead for it, plead for 
it as grace ; bring nothing with you in your hand, 
offer nothing to God for your justification ; it is a 
free gift : if God be pleased to give it, in his great 
bounty, you shall be saved. You have no reason to 
quarrel if God doth not give it : you have no reason 
to fear but God will give it. Though you do not de- 
serve it, yet he hath promised it. As there is a 
fulness of righteousness in Christ to procure grace, so 
there is a fulness of grace in the tender of the gospel ; 
and you are to believe that Christ is willing to make 
all this over to sinners. 

When you receive justification, receive it as grace : 
sometimes we beg it as an alms, and sometimes in the 
gospel the Lord offers it as a gift, and we are to re- 
ceive it as such. If the Lord tenders you the gift of 
righteousness through Jesus Christ, do not say you 
cannot receive it ; do not say you are not meet for 
it. The question is. Are you in need of it ? Are 
you not guilty 1 and is not a pardon suitable for 
the guilty ? Receive it as a grace. The true rea- 
son why so many neglect right dealing with God 
for justification, and slight God's dealing with them 
about receiving it, is because their hearts stand at a 
distance from, and they have a sort of a quarrel 
with mere grace. As it is certain that nothing but 
grace can save the sinner, so it is as certain there is 


nothing more unpleasing to the sinner than grace ; 
than that good, which when received he must al- 
ways own the bounty of the Giver, and never to eter- 
nity be able to say, " My own hand hath made me 
rich :" Christ will bring none to heaven that are in 
that mind. He that will not be rich in Christ, must 
be poor and condemned still in the first Adam. 
" Know ye not," saith the apostle, " the grace of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet he 
became poor, that we through his poverty might be 
made rich," (2 Cor. viii. 9). The riches of a believer 
stands in the poverty of Christ ; and every true be- 
liever counts Christ's poverty his riches. 


" I do not frustrate tlie grace of God : for if righteousness come by 
the law, then Christ is dead in vain." — Gal. ii. 24. 

I TOLD you the last day (what you may learn by 
your own reading), that the scope of the apostle in 
this epistle is, to teach and defend the doctrine of the 
justification of a sinner by the righteousness of Christ, 
apprehended by faith alone. In the text the apostle 
hath two arguments for this truth, against the con- 
trary error, with which the Galatians were plagued ; 
and both arguments are taken from the absurdities 
that follow upon the contrary doctrine. 

1st, That seeking righteousness by the works of the 
law, doth frustrate and make void the grace of God. 

2dly, That it makes Christ's death to be in vain : 
and there is nothing revealed by the Lord, in his 
word, more sacred, and more awful than these two — 


the grace of God, and the death of Christ ; and there- 
fore it must needs be a great wickedness to enervate, 
and overthrow both these. From the first part of 
these words I observed four things, and have already- 
spoken to the first of them, and would speak to the 
next at this time. 

1st, The grace of God shines gloriously in the jus- 
tifying of a sinner through Christ's righteousness 
alone. All the revelations that are made of this 
great way of God's justifying a sinner, are all made 
with a high deference to the grace of God, as the 
original thereof. 

2dli/, I am now to speak to this point — That frus- 
trating the grace of God is a great and horrible sin : 
the apostle here brings it in as such, and denies his 
concern in it ; " I do not frustrate the grace of God." 
The scope of his discourse leads me to this head : 
" If I seek righteousness by the works of the law, I 
should frustrate the grace of God ; but I do not seek 
righteousness that way, therefore I do not frustrate 
the grace of God." Frustrating the grace of God is 
a great and horrible sin : there are two things I 
would speak to upon this head — to shew you how this 
sin is committed — and then, wherein its greatness doth 
appear ; for there are many that commit this sin, and 
when they have done, think nothing of it. 

1st, How is this sin committed that the apostle 
here vindicates himself from ? " I do not frustrate 
the grace of God." This sin is committed two 
ways : 1st, By not receiving the grace of God when 
it is tendered. 2dly, By seeking other ways and 
shifts for righteousness than the grace of God. 

First, Frustrating the grace of God is, not re- 
ceiving it ; the grace of God is frustrated when it is 


not received : the right entertaining of it is by re- 
ceiving it. The apostle exhorts the Corinthians, 
" We then, as workers together with him, beseech 
you also, that you receive not the grace of God in 
vain," (2 Cor. vi. 1). I have told you in what sense 
the grace of God might be received in vain, and in 
what sense it could not. The doctrine of the grace 
of God, the offer of the grace of God, may be re- 
ceived in vain, and rejected, as many times it is ; 
but the grace of God itself cannot be received in 
vain, for it always worketh its effect wheresoever it 
lights. The grace of God is an irresistible principle 
of salvation ; never man had one mite of the grace 
of God, but he was saved by it. Christ Jesus hath 
two quivers, if I may so say : there is a common 
quiver, out of which he draws some arrows, and 
shoots them at sinners, and they can fence against 
these well enough, and never be hurt by them ; but 
then he hath other arrows, that are marked with his 
love, and sent by his power, and there is no guarding 
i against them. As there are arrows of destruction, 
so there are arrows of salvation : " Let thine arrows 
be sharp in the heart of the king's enemies," is the 
prayer. Psalm xlv. My work then is to shew how it 
is that the grace of God is not received. 

1st, The grace of God tendered in the gospel, and 
the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, is not received 
when it is not minded. There is little hope of that 
man's salvation that doth not think of salvation, 
or when the matter is neglected. " How shall we 
escape," saith the apostle, " if we neglect so great sal- 
vation ?" (Heb. ii. 3). The true sense of the original 
word lies mainly in this, not so much in a stated 
formal enmity to it, but only in a careless indiffe- 


rency about it : the grace of God is not received when 
it is not minded. Therefore, would you know when 
you profit by the gospel, know it this way : if what 
you hear from the word doth not occasion many 
thoughts in your hearts, you get no good at alL If 
the matter of salvation do not become the matter of 
your serious meditation, you receive the grace of God 
in vain. God may say concerning such men, " They 
will not so much as think of my proposals to them." 

2dly, People do not receive the grace of God when 
they do not see their need of it, when they do not 
see their absolute need of it. As long as a man 
hath this dream — and every natural man falls into 
such a dream — as long as a man thinks in his vain 
mind that any thing else but the sovereign grace of t 
God can save him, this man will never receive the 
grace of God. It is impossible that a man can re- 
ceive it till he see that nothing else will do his busi- 
ness. Woe be to them that think any thing but 
grace can save them : they are in a forlorn state in- 
deed ! * 

3dly, They that do not believe that the grace of 
God alone can save them, they do not receive it nei- 
ther ; for as the grace of God is sent to men as that 
which they do simply stand in need of, and as that 
which nothing can supply the want of, so it is sent 
as a sovereign remedy, that whatsoever ails the poor 
creature it will do it for them. So much for this 
first thing : They that do not receive the grace of 
God, are guilty of this great sin of frustrating the 
grace of God. 

Secondly, This sin is also committed by men's 
taking other methods and shifts to obtain the favour 
of God than this grace alone ; they frustrate the 



grace of God. I would speak a little to this under 
two heads : 1st, I would shew you the cause of it. 
2dly, I would shew the effects that proceed from those 

I. Of the cause of it. The world is full of it : 
this heresy, if I may so say, runs through the whole 
earth ; no man is qui-te free from it but only the 
sound believer. A man may be orthodox in his judg- 
ment, and subscribe to the orthodox doctrine, and 
Protestant truth ; butWery natural man is a heretic 
(in this matter : he hath secretly something else in 
his eye to recommend him to God, and to make his 
state safe before God, besides the righteousness of 
Christ. Now the cause of this universal hankering 
after ways of people's own devising to do their busi- 
ness with God, without this grace of God through 
Christ, is what I would speak a little to. 

It flows from nature : now nature is so strong a 
spring, that nothing but the mighty grace of God 
can turn it, it is so strong a principle. I would shew 
this in a little. 

1st, The grace of God in saving sinners by Christ 
Jesus is above nature in its best state ; it is above 
sinless nature. If you could suppose such a thing as 
this, that there was a man as holy as the first Adam 
was ; if God should create another man as holy as 
the first Adam was, and bring to this man the doc- 
trine of the righteousness of Christ, and of the grace 
of God in him, it would be above his nature. It is 
above sinless nature ; it is that which Adam did not 
know, neither was he bound to know it, for it was 
not revealed to him ; nor did he need to know it, for 
there was another way provided for his standing, that 
he might have kept. 


2dly, This way is not only above sinless nature, but 
it is quite contrary to corrupt nature. If it be above 
sinless nature, it must needs be far above corrupt 
nature ; but not only is it so, but it is also cross and 
contrary to it. There are in this corrupt nature four 
things that are its strength, and from that strength 
comes this enmity to this way of salvation. 

1. There is in this corrupt nature dismal darkness 
and ignorance, expressed by the apostle in the ab- 
stract, (Eph. V. 8). "For ye were sometimes dark- 
ness, but now are ye light in the Lord." Not only 
are they dark and blind, but they are darkness and 
blindness. Now in this darkness, as to this matter, 
I will name two or three things : 1st, There is igno- 
rance of the righteousness and holiness of God, (Rom. 
X. 3). 2dly, There is ignorance of the holy law of 
God, (Rom. vii. 10). 3dly, There is utter ignorance 
of God's righteousness in Christ Jesus. A little to 
each of these : 

1st, In every natural man there is an ignorance of 
the righteousness and holiness of God. I know that 
in man's nature there is a knowledge that there is a 
God, and that this God is a righteous and a just 
God. The greatest heathens, by the mere light of 
nature, have arrived at some competent knowledge 
of this ; but the exactness of this righteousness of God 
never did any natural men know. They do not know 
the unspottedness of His righteousness, nor how un- 
sufFerable to him the least impurity is. Would any 
bold sinners venture to present to God their rotten- 
ness and vileness, if they knew God's righteousness ? 
The righteousness of God is such an awful thing, that 
no natural man can understand it, but he must be 
presently confounded. 


2dly, Every natural man is ignorant of the strict- 
ness of the law of God ; the severity of God's lavr in 
forbidding every sin, and in condemning every sinner, 
without any respect to any sin, or to any man that 
commits it. The law of God is an impartial rule of 
righteousness, that condemns every transgression ; 
and it cannot do otherwise : it is the glory of the law 
so to do ; its strictness makes it judge all sin ; and its 
righteousness makes it condemn all sinners ; and 
therefore, when this righteousness of God's law is 
once discovered, it presently breaks all the confidence 
of a natural man. " I was alive without the law 
once," saith the apostle Paul, Kom. vii. 9, " but 
when the commandment came, sin revived, and I 
died." How could the apostle Paul be said to be 
without the law ? I believe that the apostle Paul, 
even in his natural state, was better acquainted with 
the law, and the Old Testament, than any man in 
London now is ; for the Jews, even to this day, teach 
their children vfith great carefulness : now the apostle 
Paul was one of the best Jews in all that country. 
How then could this man be said to be without the 
law ] He had the law in his mind, and in his me- 
mory, and in his hands, and was exceeding zealous 
for it — " I was," saith he, " touching the righteous- 
ness which is in the law, blameless," '(Phil. iii. 6). 
Aye, but the man only thought so, when he did not 
know the law of God ; but when the commandment 
came, it made another manner of discovery. It con- 
demned those things in him that he never thought 
to be sin before, and it made other things in him to 
be exceeding sinful. All natural men are under 
utter darkness about this ; and therefore it is no 


wonder that tliey betake themselves to other ways 
than the grace of God in Christ. 

3dly, All natural men are ignorant of the right- 
eousness of God in Christ. 

2. In every natural man there is pride. Every 
natural man is a proud man ; proud towards God. 
That which goes under the name of pride amongst men 
is greatly mistaken. Pride towards man is a base 
thing ; but it is pride towards God that I am speak- 
ing of. The poor sinner thinks that he is not quite 
so bare and empty, but that he hath something of 
his own wherein he may stand accepted before God. 
Every natural man doth think so. It fares with a 
natural man as it doth with some poor men that are 
born of great families, whose fathers left them, as 
we use to say, a high birth, but a poor purse. Now 
this proud gentleman chooses a great deal rather to 
wear his own thread-bare coat, than another man's 
livery. Just so it is with sinners : their father Adam 
was a great lord, — lord of this world, heir of right- 
eousness, rich in stock — enough to have made all his 
posterity rich before God ; but he broke and failed, 
and turned us all beggars into the world. But there 
comes another person, God's own^ Son, and he offers 
to clothe the poor beggar ; but the poor proud man 
had rather go to hell in the rags that his father 
Adam left him, than go to heaven in the robe that 
Christ offers him, dyed in his own blood. 

3. In every natural man there is awful trifling 
about the great concerns of salvation. The truth is, 
people are not thoroughly awakened, nor in good 
earnest about tlie matters of salvation. It lies not 
near their heart as a weighty question, " What shall 
I do to be saved r' These thoughts do not press 


them, " I am a poor man tliat must shortly die, and 
this crazy carcass of mine will shortly moulder into 
the dust of the grave ; but my soul must live for 
ever in, and enter upon an eternal state, as soon as 
the last breath of my body expires ; and what shall 
become of me then ?" The greatest part of the world 
trifle about this great question, " What shall I do to 
be saved, to be secure to eternity ?" What a shame- 
ful thing is it to think of this ! I have often told 
them that I have spoken to, — and it is to be told till 
it be mended, — that it were a happy thing if people 
would but spend half that time, nay a quarter of that 
time, in secret thoughts about salvation, that they 
spend in hearing the word of salvation ; and it is a 
hard matter if people cannot be prevailed with about 
this. I can well assure you, that all the solid soul- 
thriving of the hearers of the gospel is not so much 
in what they hear, in the preaching of the word, as 
in what they digest in their secret thoughts and 
meditations about it. Now, is it any wonder that 
people take to any courses about their salvation, 
when they thus trifle about it ? For if the end be 
not precious in a man's eyes, you can never expect 
to have him thoughtful about the means. 

4. In all natural men there is unbelief of God's 
word. It is a hard question to resolve. What was 
the first sin ? Any child can tell you, that the first 
sin of mankind was eating the forbidden fruit : it is 
true, the first sin was ripe in that action ; but what 
was the first wandering thought from God ? Whe- 
ther it was the man's discontent with the state that 
he was made in ; or aspiring after a higher state than 
that in which he was made ; or a jealousy of God ; 
or unbelief of the word of God : that unbelief was in 


it is most certain. The serpent began his tempta- 
tion this way, " Yea, hath God said ye shall not eat 
of every tree in the garden ? Hath God said you shall 
surely die ? Ye shall not surely die," (Gen. iii. 1, 4). 
The scope of liis temptation was this, to bring in sin 
and ruin upon the world, by making sinless Adam to 
doubt of the truth of God's threatening ; and he 
well knew that if once the awful faith of the truth 
of God's threatening was weakened in their minds, 
that they would soon make bold on the sin. God's 
threatening was as a kind of fence against the sin : 
" In the day that thou eatest, thou shalt surely die." 
" Assure thyself of death if ever thou meddle with the 
forbidden fruit." Satan knew that death was ter- 
rible to man, and that he would not easily rush up- 
on it ; " aye, but," saith he, '' God hath not said 
ye shall surely die, but you shall live, and be as 
gods, if you transgress." Sirs, the devil brought 
in the first sin and ruin upon mankind, by the unbe- 
lief of God's word of threatening. And he brings in 
the eternal ruin of men under the gospel by unbelief 
of God's word of promise : every natural man hath 
an evil heart of unbelief in him, as the apostle warns 
all to take heed of, (Heb. iii. 12), " Take heed, bre- 
thren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of un- 
belief in departing from the living God." This mat- 
ter of unbelief is many ways spoken of in the word : 
the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, and his right- 
eousness, stands all in the word of God. If you ask 
the last question concerning a man's faith, you must 
resolve it into the word of God : there are, indeed, 
many questions that go before it, but this must be 
the last. If you ask. How may a sinner be saved ? 
The answer is, By the righteousness of Christ. If 


you ask again, Who is this Jesus Christ, whose 
righteousness Y>^ill be the salvation of all them that 
have it ? He is the great Son of God, that took our 
sins on hiin. Well, but how shall this righteousness 
be mine 1 By faith alone : if I lay hold of it, and 
venture my soul on it, it is mine 1 Aye, but the last 
question is. How do you know that it shall be so ? 
God hath said it in his word. Acts x. 43, " To him 
give all the prophets witness, that, through his name, 
whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission 
of sins." Now, every natural man having unbelief in 
him, God's word hath no weight on him. We find 
they proclaim their unbelief in every thing. When 
God commands, they proclaim their unbelief in dis- 
obeying ; when God corrects them, they proclaim 
their unbelief in rushing again upon the same courses 
that God punishes them for ; when God threatens 
and warns the sinner of his danger in such a sin, the 
man proclaims his unbelief by staying still in it : and 
what are all these but acts of gross unbelief ? Wlien 
God commands, the man thinks that God means not 
as he speaks : when God threatens, the unbeliever 
thinks God will not do as he threatens : when God 
promises, saith the same unbelief, " Though God 
speaks fair, he will not be as good as his word." 

Now, is it any wonder that every natural man 
takes another way of salvation besides the righteous- 
ness of Christ, when every natural man hath these 
four woful things in him 1 And, indeed, none can 
do otherwise till these four things are overthrown in 
him — till the darkness is removed by the illumina- 
tion of the Spirit of God — and the pride be brought 
down by humbling grace — and the security of the 
conscience be brought down by awakening grace — 


and till the power of unbelief be broke by the Spi- 
rit's working- faith. So much for the causes of this. 

II. I am now to shew what the effects are that 
flow from these causes ; or, what flows from this 
woful natural aversion in all men from the i>Tace of 
God, and from their inclinations to frustrate it. 

Is^, Hence it comes to pass that the world is filled 
with fancies and devices of men to please God. 

This runs through the whole earth : the religion 
(if I may call it by that name) of the Pagans, the re- 
ligion of the Turks and the Mahometans, and of 
the Papists, however they may differ in a great many 
points of doctrine, and particular circumstances of 
worsliip, yet they all agree in this; all these reli- 
gions, and all religions in the world, except the true, 
are filled with many devices of men to render them- 
selves acceptable to God. The Lord brings them in 
(Micah vi. 6), making this inquiry, " 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 ?" Pray take notice here : one of the 
grossest idolatries that ever was in the world, and 
the most abominable act of it, is this, when parents, 
to pacify God for their sins, have offered their chil- 
dren in sacrifice to their idols : this hath been fre- 
quently practised in the world, and, it may be, is 
at this day in some parts of the world. Whence 
can this be, that there should be so strange a vio- 
lation of one of the strongest bonds of nature ? It is 
not to be supposed that these people did so because 


they did not love their children : no doubt but they 
loved them as well as you do yours ; but only, here 
lay the matter : they were under a strong conviction 
of sin, and under strong desires to please God ; and 
they were ignorant of the true sacrifice, and there- 
fore they offer to God what they think best, and 
what they love best ; and that they hope God will 
ax^cept most kindly from them. Sirs, you think 
there are many fopperies in Popery, fit only to be 
laughed at, and so indeed there are : their whipping 
themselves about that time of the year they call Lent ; 
and great persons do this, kings, and queens, and 
lords, and great men. One would think it strange 
that so many great people should play the fool so : 
the true reason of it lies here, — they have a con- 
science of sin, and they know they are sinners, and 
they do not know the true way of peace with God 
through the righteousness of Christ, and they are 
taught these foolish ways, and therefore they pursue 
them. And truly, if the light of the gospel should 
be darkened yet much more in England, I cannot 
tell how many silly professors amongst us might be 
drawn even into this foppery. It is natural for all 
men ignorant of the righteousness of God in Christ, 
to devise ways of their own to render themselves ac- 
ceptable in the sight of God. 

2dly, The next efi'ect of this woful aversion from 
the grace of God, in justifying us by the righteous- 
ness of Christ, is in men's going to the law, and the 
works of it. I do but name this, because I shall 
speak more largely to it by itself, under the third 
and next doctrine. 

Zdly^ I would speak something to the sad efi'ects 
of this, that are found even in them whom God 


saves. This aversion from the grace of God is so 
natural, that it puts forth itself strongly in them 
that the Lord is at work savingly upon ; and I will 
name a few things about this, that some here can 
witness to, and I am sure that many more can wit- 
ness to them than are here. 

1. Hence it comes to pass that, in many who are 
saved in the issue, there is a long sorrowful trouble 
of mind that they live under, and all the world shall 
not persuade them what the true cause of it is. They 
are full of sorrow and complainings ; no other lan- 
guage to be heard to God or man, but many sorrow- 
ful complaints ; their corruptions are strong, their 
souls dead and dark, their consciences disquieted. 
And what is the true reason of all this ? They are 
yet averse from giving glory to the sovereign grace 
of God in saving them by Chri^. Many sorrowful 
hours many of the elect of God have gone through 
in the strength of this corruption, and they have 
never seen it till a long while after. It is a shame 
and reproach to professors, and a dishonour to our 
Lord Jesus Christ, that so many in whom the root 
of the matter is, have their hearts sinking within 
them when relief is so plainly provided for them. 
The true reason is, because they are averse, and not 
willing, nor inclined to be indebted solely to grace, 
and to have all their supplies singly from it. 

2. From hence it also comes to pass, that there 
are so many outbreakings of sin, or at least the 
working of it in the hearts of many that the Lord 
hath a mind to save, and doth work savingly upon. 
How many poor creatures are there that know this ? 
That from the time that the Lord first began to deal 
with them, and made them serious about salvation, 


their corruptions have grown more strong, and Satan 
more formidable and vexing ; and, it may be, they 
are left of God to commit some gross sin, that they 
were never guilty of before. Whence comes this 1 
It is not only from the strength of temptation, nor 
is corruption grown stronger ; but here lies the rea- 
son : Now God hath begun to awaken them, and 
they are not yet disposed kindly to yield themselves 
up unto the entire conduct of grace ; not willing to 
give the grace of God its proper employment : but 
this is the way people generally take whensoever 
they are awakened, and made serious about salva- 
tion ; then they fall to work, and set about duty — 
they pray, and hear, and read, and repent, and labour 
to reform their conversation, and in the mean time 
they are utterly unacquainted with employing Christ; 
and, therefore, the Lord in his righteous judgment 
leaves them to themselves, and lets them see that 
they must stand upon another bottom, or they will 
surely totter and fall ; that they must be quite weaned 
from themselves, and all things made new in Christ, 
or nothing will be done rightly. 

3. And thus some, as they live sorrowfully all their 
days, so they also die sadly : they have been leaning 
on their own righteousness as far as they could all 
their life long ; sometimes hanging upon one twig, 
and sometimes upon another ; and one breaks, and 
the other breaks, and here they get a fall, and there 
they get a fall ; but at last, if the Lord hath mercy 
upon them, they are made to see the vanity of all 
these shifts, and then they betake themselves in ear- 
nest to that which is without them, to a righteous- 
ness that they have no hand in, that is wrought out 
by Christ alone, and given by pure grace. So much 


for this first head, How this sin of frustrating the 
grace of God is committed. 

2dly, I am now to shew the sinfulness, and the 
greatness, of this sin of frustrating the grace of God. 
The apostle is here vindicating himself from it : "I 
do not," saith he, " frustrate the grace of God." 
Now, there are two things especially that aggravate 
all sins, and the more of them there be in any sin, 
the more sinfulness is there in that sin. 1st, The 
direct tendency of any sin to damnation. 2dly, The 
direct enmity that there is in any sin to the grace of 
God ; and wheresoever there is a sin that is espe- 
cially framed both these ways, that sin must needs 
be a great one. 

1. This sin of frustrating the grace of God is 
directly against man's salvation, and tends directly 
to damnation. All sin against the law tends to 
damnation by its desert ; every sin deserves hell. 
Every sin against the law of God works out wrath 
by deserving ; but sin against the gospel works out 
wrath by special activity, by its apt acting ; and 
there is a great difference between these two : a man 
that commits a sin against the law, he commits a 
sin that deserves death ; but he that sins against the 
grace of the gospel, in that very sin he works out 
his own death. Other sins expose a man to the 
wrath of God as a judge, but this sin is like self- 
murder, the man executes the law upon himself. 
Every man by nature is under a sentence of condem- 
nation ; but rejecting the grace of God leaves and 
binds a man under that condemnation : there is no 
other remedy for it, but only the grace of God 
through Christ ; therefore rejecting that, is rejecting 
the only remedy. 


2. This sin is directly against the glory of God. 
There is a great deal of the glory of God concenied 
in his grace. This grace of God tendered to us 
through Jesus Christ, is God's great plot and contri- 
vance for his own glory ; and frustrating of it is all 
that man can do to frustrate God, and to disappoint 
him in his main design. Blessed be God, no crea- 
ture can do this ; but woe be to them that do all 
they can against it. The Pharisees " rejected the 
counsel of God against themselves," (Luke vii. 30). 
Sirs, God would never have suffered the first Adam 
to have fallen, unless he had had a greater contri- 
vance for his own glory in raising him up again. 
God would never have suffered the dishonour that 
sin's entrance brought upon him in the world, unless 
he had designed the bringing about of greater glory 
to himself by the manifestation of his grace. There- 
fore, " where sin hath abounded, grace hath much 
more abounded ;" and that brings a great deal more 
honour to God than sin brings dishonour. The 
grace of God is the very bowels and the heart of 
God ; and to frustrate this, is to kick against the 
very bowels of God. The grace of God is all through 
Jesus Christ ; it flows through him, and therefore 
all reflections upon the grace of God reflect upon 
him. The grace of God is tendered to men by the 
Holy Ghost ; and, therefore, refusing and frustrating 
the grace of God is rejecting of the Holy Ghost. In 
a word, this grace of God is the great scope of the 
whole Bible ; and to frustrate the grace of God, is 
to make the whole Bible in vain, both Old and New 
Testament too. The Holy Scriptures are able to 
make us wise unto salvation, but it is through faith 
that is in Christ Jesus, (2 Tim. iii. 15). 


Application. — There are only two words that I 
would speak to for the improving of this doctrine. 
Is frustrating the grace of God such a horrible sin ] 
Then, 1st, Do you all beware of it. 2dly, Receive 
this grace of God ; for there is no other way to avoid 
the frustrating of the grace of God, but only by re- 
ceiving it. 

1st, I would have you all beware of this sin of 
frustrating the grace of God ; but, more especially, 
I would direct a warning of fear against this sin 
UTito several sorts of persons. 

1. Unto moral, civil, well-natured people, good 
livers, as we use to call them. Through the mercy 
of God, some are born of a better nature, as we call 
it, than others ; of a sweet easy temper ; and it is a 
great mercy to have a well-tempered mind, by a na- 
tural constitution, as well as it is to have a well- 
framed body. Now, when this virtuous natural tem- 
per hath the advantage of a godly education, these 
sort of people come quickly to look very well ; and, 
therefore, they ought to take great heed. You civil, 
well-natured people, do you have a great care of 
frustrating the grace of God, for it is a sin that you 
are especially tempted to. There are some people so 
ill-natured, and of so bad a temper, that they need, 
as we use to say, a great deal of the grace of God to 
save them. And are there any that do not need 
the grace of God "? The Lord save any of you from 
thinking so ! He is in a woful case indeed that 
thinks he doth not need the grace of God. Moral, 
civil people are in great danger of this sin : they 
think they have a good stock of their own to set up 
with, and therefore they do not borrow of Christ. 

2. People that have taken upon them the pro- 


fession of religion, had need to take heed of this sin 
of frustrating the grace of God. They have taken 
upon them a profession, it may be they know not 
how, nor wherefore ; but it is come upon them. If 
you be clothed with the garment of profession, have 
great care of this sin. There are many that profess 
the grace of God, that yet are strangers to the thing 
itself, and they are in a very dangerous case. 

3. They that boast of outward privileges should 
have a care of this sin of frustrating the grace of 
God : they were baptized when they were children, 
and have heard the word, and attended upon ordi- 
nances, and tliey begin to think themselves fair be- 
fore God for the hope of eternal life. They are 
blameless in their walk and conversation. Let such 
people, in an especial manner, take heed of this sin. 
I can assure you that a blameless conversation hath 
been a great temptation to a great many to under- 
value the grace of God, and the righteousness of 
Jesus Christ. These sort of people were never sick 
at heart. 

4. Awakened souls ; they whose consciences are 
awakened, have great need to take heed of this sin 
of frustrating the grace of God. The Lord some- 
times makes both light and fire too to dart in upon 
the consciences of poor sinners, and they begin to see 
and feel what they never saw nor felt before ; and 
when it is thus with them, sometimes, they think 
things are a great deal better with them than they 
were before ; and, sometimes, they think it is a great 
deal worse with them ; and they that in their awak- 
enino^ think it to be a o-reat deal worse with them 
than it was before, are in a more hopeful state than 
they that think it is better with them ; for it is not 


a thorough awakening, if the person thinks that 
awakening to be enough. Such people should take 
heed of this sin, lest they frustrate the grace of God, 
for there are two things that tliey are especially en- 
dangered by. 

1. By the force of this conviction they set about 
duty, and that pretty warmly ; and these are lovely 
things in the eyes of poor creatures that never knew 
before what praying and reading the word of God 
were ; but when once their consciences come to be 
awakened, they begin to get alone, and cry to the 
Lord. Now, when the soul is in this case, it had 
need take great heed of this sin of frustrating the 
grace of God. How many poor awakened sinners 
are there that have made a pillow to sleep to hell 
upon with their own duties and performances, as if 
it were by the righteousness of the law ! And thus 
they do not submit to the righteousness of God in 
Christ, nor do they attain to the rest that remains 
for the people of God, (Rom. x. 3, Heb. iv. 9). 

2. If they do not sit down upon their duties, 
then, on the other hand, they are apt to be quite 
discouraged, and to give up all for lost. An awak- 
ened conscience, if it be thoroughly awakened, is 
upon the point of despair ; and the point of despair 
is the point of ruin, or the point of salvation, as God 
pleases to issue it. It is the turning point. When 
the poor sinner's conscience is awakened to see its 
lost and undone condition, in that case he is just 
on the point of winning or losing for evermore. If 
the man hearkens to God, and gives glory to his 
grace, by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, 
the bargain is made for evermore ; but if the poor 



sinner turns aside, and stops in any thing sliort of 
this, then either the disease grows greater, or else a 
hardness comes in the room of it, that is worse than 
the disease itself. That is the first exhortation : — 
Have a great care of this sin of frustrating the grace 
of God. And, to that end, 

2dly, Give the grace of God a hearty welcome. 
There is no other way to prevent the sin of frustrat- 
ing the grace of God, but by receiving and welcom- 
ing it. Welcome the grace of God for your work, 
but not for the devil's work. All God's work, that 
which God craves of you ; all that you may give to 
the grace of God to do for you ; all the work that 
you have to do with God, that you may give to the 
grace of God to do for you ; only do not set the 
grace of God to do the devil's work ; that is sinning, 
turning the grace of God into wantonness. The 
grace of God will do every thing for us but the 
devil's work. And, if I may so say, he hath a great 
deal of the spirit of the devil in him, that will give 
so precious a thing as the grace of God to do the 
devil's work. Aye, but how shallwe receive the grace 
of God 1 I answer, three ways. 1st, Doubt not your 
need of it. 2dly, Do not delay your accepting it. 
3dly, Do not question your title to it. 

1. Doubt not your need of it. If the Lord hath 
a mind to save you, I know very well there will be 
no great need of this caution. Every sinner that 
God saves effectually, is a person that not only thinks 
he is needy of the grace of God, but he thinks he is 
more needy of it than any body else in the world ; 
that if there was any such man in the world that 
could be saved without grace, he was the farthest 
from such a one ; that if there was any man in the 


world that needed more grace than ordinary, he was 
the man. 

2. Do not delay your accepting of grace when- 
soever it is revealed to you. Whensoever you have 
the offer of the grace of God, whensoever you are 
about the means of grace, labour to get this grace 
itself, " Therefore the Holy Ghost saith, To-day if 
you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." 
(Heb. iii. 7). You may not hear his voice to-mor- 
row ; hardness of heart grows mightily by delays. 

3. Do not question your title to it. I mean 
this, — Make no doubt but that it is as lawful and 
as allowable in God's sight for you to lay hold on the 
saving grace of God, as ever it was for any sinner in 
the world. I do not mean that graceless people 
should presently think that they have a title to the 
grace of God ; for no man hath a title to it till he 
receives it. Eut this I say, the offer of the grace of 
God, in the gospel, gives fair warning and liberty 
for every one to embrace it. " He that will, let him 
come, and take of the water of life freely," (Rev. 
xxii. 17). And that which is thus freely offered, 
and freely given, should be thankfully welcomed, and 
thankfully received, when it is enjoyed. 


" I do not frustrate the grace of God : for if righteousness come by 
the law, then Christ is dead in vain." — Gal. ii. 21. 

When I first entered on these words, I told you 
what the scope of the apostle was in this epistle : he is 
here bringing forth arguments against that error 


that the Galatian churches were plagued with ; and 
arguments for that truth of the gospel that he had 
planted amongst them, and taught them. The truth 
was this, That the righteousness of asinner for justifi- 
cation was only in Christ. The error of the Galatians 
lay in this, That something of the righteousness of the 
law was to be mixed therewith. My text contains 
two arguments against this error, drawn from a com- 
mon natural head of arguing against error, by the 
absurdities that necessarily flow from it. Now there 
are two grand absurdities that flow from this doctrine 
of the law in point of justification, 1st, That it frus- 
trates the grace of God ; 2dly, That it makes Christ's 
death to be in vain : and two more abominable 
things cannot be well tliought of; and people have 
great need to fear, and to take heed of any doctrine 
that hath any tendency to either of them. The first 
of these the apostle expresses in his own person : " I 
do not frustrate the grace of God." And here he 
speaks like a believer, and not like a minister nor an 
apostle ; so he discourses from ver. 16, speaking of 
himself and the rest of the godly, like ordinary be- 
lievers, that betook themselves to this way of relief 
by Christ's righteousness alone. I proposed four ob- 
servations to speak to. 

1st, That the grace of God shines gloriously in the 
justifying of a sinner through the righteousness of 
Christ : and this I have spoke to. 

2dlif, That frustrating the grace of God is a great 
and horrible sin ; for so it is expressed by the apostle, 
" I do not frustrate the grace of God." As if he 
should have said, " Blessed be God, I am not in that 
road ; I am not one that frustrates the grace of God ; 
I am saved by it." How the grace of God is frus- 


trated, and how great the sin is, I spoke to the last 
day. The revelation of the grace of God, and the 
tender of it, and the urging of it, may be frustrated, 
and is, by many : but the grace itself, in its powerful 
conveyance by the Holy Ghost on the hearts of men, 
always reaches its end. The grace of God is irre- 
sistible in its closest powerful application : this I also 
spoke to ; and would only add a word or two further 
about the greatness of this sin of seeking righteousness 
by the law, and thereby frustrating the grace of God. 

1. This is a sin that but few in the world can 
commit. The greatest part of them that go to hell 
cannot commit this sin ; they never frustrated the 
grace of God. Indeed all that are finally guilty of 
it go to hell ; but all that go to hell are not guilty 
of this sin. The greatest part of the vrorld never 
frustrated the grace of God, for they never heard of 
it ; and, therefore, our Lord pronounces a woe against 
Capernaum, against Chorazin and Bethsaida, and tells 
them that they were in a worse case than Sodom 
and Gomorrah, than Tyre and Sidon, (Matt. xi. 21), 
because the grace of God was never offered them 
as it was to the others. Sirs, let me tell you, the 
worst quarters in hell are for those persons that are 
nearest to Christ, and yet not in him by faith : of all 
sinners such drop deepest into the pit. 

2. The devils are not guilty of this sin. There 
is not a devil in hell, nor out of it, that is so guilty 
of this sin of frustrating the grace of God, as thou- 
sands of professors in London are. The devils are 
haters of the grace of God ; but the grace of God 
was never tendered to them : they only hate the grace 
of God as it is tendered to men, and envy it ; but the 
grace of God was never offered to the devils. The 


way of preserving the holy angels, and the v»'ay of 
justice to the damned spirits, proclaim greatly the 
wonderful privilege that we have in the gospel. The 
holy nngels are kept, and they received grace, for the 
election of grace fell on them : they are called the 
elect angels. When that great apostasy was in the 
upper house, all the reprobate angels fell of their own 
accord, and all the elect angels stood : and that elec- 
tion of grace towards angels ran through Jesus 
Christ, who was to be their preserving head. There 
is something that looks like this in the word of God. 

But recovering grace to angels was never given ; 
the angels that stood had preserving grace given 
them, to keep them in their first station ; but the 
angels that fell had no recovering grace given them. 
" Christ took not on him," saith the apostle, " the 
nature of angels, but was born of the seed of Abra- 
ham." And thence it came to pass, that the devils 
themselves are not guilty of this sin of frustrating 
the grace of God. Surely then people had need to 
take great heed that they be not guilty of a worse 
sin than that which the devils can commit. There 
is no creature that hath frustrated the grace of God, 
but that creature that hath the offer of the grace of 

3. Frustrating the grace of God is a sin that none 
that are in hell are guilty of. All that are finally 
guilty of it on earth are sent to hell, but none that 
are in hell are guilty of it ; for when once that last 
sentence is executed upon them, the door of grace 
and mercy is for ever shut upon them. So that it is 
the gospel-sinner only who can frustrate the grace 
of God, who is guilty of that sin ; and that but a 
small part of the world are guilty of it ; that the 


devils in bell are not guilty of it, that all the damned 
in hell are not guilty of it, though they rage, and roar, 
and blaspheme ; and all sorts of wickedness we may 
well conclude to be in their miserable state : but 
frustrating the grace of God is a sin not to be found 
in hell, because grace enters not there. So much 
shall serve for this second point of doctrine, That it 
is a horrible sin to frustrate the grace of God. I 
come now to speak to the next doctrine. 

^dly, To seek righteousness by the works of the 
law, is to frustrate the grace of God : for this is the 
scope of the apostle's argument. It is to shew that 
there is no righteousness to be had by the law ; and 
tliis is one argument that he proves it by, " I do 
not," saith he, " frustrate the grace of God." It is, 
as if he should have said, " If I sought righteousness 
by the works of the law, I should frustrate the grace 
of God ; but I do not seek righteousness by the law, 
for I am dead to the law, and therefore I do not 
frustrate the grace of God." There are two things 
under this doctrine that I would speak to — 1st, What 
is it to seek righteousness by the law X 2dly, How 
doth it appear that seeking righteousness by the 
works of the law is frustrating the grace of God \ 
For they that are guilty of this sin of seeking right- 
eousness by the works of the law, they are very loath 
to take in this, that they frustrate the grace of God : 
they wnll say, that they give all respect to the grace 
of God ; even the self-righteous Pharisee could own 
the grace of God, (Luke xviii. 11), " God, I thank 
thee that I am not as other men ;" " I thank God, 
that I am so good as I am ;" when he was a poor, 
vain, self- conceited man all the while. 

1. What is it to seek righteousness by the works 


of the law 1 By law here I mean the holy spotless 
law of God. The law of man hath nothing to do in 
the point of righteousness before God. This seeking 
of righteousness by the law is righteousness in God's 
sight ; the apostle states the matter so. No man is 
justified by the law in the sight of God. That a man 
is justified by the law in the sight of men, nobody 
can deny. We should be very careful to justify our- 
selves in the sight of men by the law, and our con- 
formity to it ; but this righteousness here spoken of 
is righteousness in the sight of God, and righteous- 
ness by the law of God ; and it stands in three 

1st, Righteousness by the law is that which obtains 
a man's acceptance with God. That is righteousness 
by the law that procures a man's acceptance with 
God ; upon the account of which he stands before 
God as a righteous man, and is dealt with accord- 
ingly. Now, he that seeks righteousness by the law 
in this sense, is one who dreams, that by doing and 
obeying what the law requires, he may work out that 
for which he may stand righteous and accepted in 
God's sight. And that is one way this sin is com- 

2dly, In this righteousness before God by the works 
of the law, there is an expectation of impunity for all 
that is past in transgressing the law. And we find 
that this must necessarily be the righteousness of a 
holy man, who stands in a state of acceptance with 
God ; but the righteousness of a man who hath been 
once a sinner must be by having that which may bring 
him into a state of impunity and safety of all the 
transgressions that he hath been guilty of before. 
Now, men are guilty of seeking righteousness by the 


works of the law this second way, when they do, or 
think to do, that for which God will forgive all their 
transgressions, and forget all that they have done : 
and of this the Pharisee made no question : though 
he was a sinner, yet he comes and prays, and expects 
acceptation in God's sight, and the forgiveness of 
his sins, upon the account of the good that he had 

3dly, In this righteousness by the works of the law 
there is a title to eternal life. He that, by what he 
doth, expects to have a right conferred upon him to 
eternal life, is a man that seeks righteousness by the 
law : *' Good Master, what good thing shall I do that 
I may have eternal life V said the poor young le- 
galist, (Matt. xix. 16). I would fain have eternal life, 
and would fain have a right to it : Master, tell me 
what good thing shall I do to get it. These are the 
three ways by which men seek righteousness by the 
law : — To do that whereby a man may obtain accept- 
ance before God : To do that for which he may ob- 
tain pardon and impunity from God : To do that 
for which he may have a right conferred on him to 
eternal life. But, you will say, this is so gross Popery, 
that there is no Protestant guilty of it. Alas ! alas ! 
every natural man is guilty of it ; and it is only the 
almighty power of the Spirit of God that can erase 
it out of their hearts. I will offer you some plain 
proofs of this. 

1. How many are there, when their hearts are 
examined, must own that their eyes are altogether 
on the precepts of the law, and not a thought on the 
promises of the gospel 1 How many poor creatures 
are there that begin to be thoughtful about their 
salvation, insomuch that they make people that are 

58 SERMON iir. 

about them, v/ho are ignorant and charitable, think 
that they are hopeful Christians. But try these 
people this way, and you will find that all the exer- 
cise of their religion is about the precepts of the law, 
and they have no exercise at all about the promises 
of the gospel. He that minds only the precepts, is 
only a doer ; and he that minds not the promise, he 
is no believer : for the precept is the rule of practice ; 
but it is the promise that is the foundation of faith. 
Now, how can that man be reckoned a believer, that 
hath no heart-exercise about the promises 1 

2. A great many people are mightily taken up 
about their own works, and but very little about 
Christ's. Our righteousness doth not stand in our 
own works ; but stands in Christ's works, what Christ 
did, and suffered for us in his life, and death, and 
resurrection ; therein stands our righteousness. Now, 
how many poor creatures are there that reckon it a 
great matter, and glory mightily in their own do- 
ings : if they pray, and hear, and read, and can but 
make any sort of reformation in their conversation, 
how big do these things appear in their eyes ! But 
Christ's life and death, and all his great performances 
for our salvation, are mean and low, and of small 
esteem with them. And do not these sort of people 
seek righteousness by the law ? Aye surely. 

3. They look for eternal life, but they look for 
it as a reward of works, and not as an inheritance 
given by gift and grace ; and all servants and slaves 
must do so, and all natural men are slaves, they are 
children of the bondwoman, (Gal. iv. 31); they work 
for fear of punishment, and in hopes of the crown : 
they work for wages ; the wages they love, and would 
have, but the work they hate. Whereas the be- 


liever acts just the contrary ; lie loves tlie work, and 
he expects the wages as the gift of grace from the 
blessed Father he serves. The apostle makes a great 
distinction between these two ; " Wherefore thou art 
no more a servant, but a son, and if a son, then an 
heir of God through Christ, (Gal. iv. 7). Every man 
that is for righteousness by the works of the law is a 
servant ; he looks upon God as his master, and the 
law as his master's will, and he sets about obeying 
with all his might. Now, is not this a good servant 1 
Yes. But all such servants go to hell : you must be 
children, for none but children are saved. And, in- 
deed, there are none true servants to him, but they 
that are children : they are but slaves, and are cast 
out, that do not serve with their love, and expect the 
inheritance only as a gift of grace. So much for that 
first thing, What it is to seek righteousness by the 
works of the law. 

2. I am now to shew you, that seeking righteous- 
ness by the works of the law, is to frustrate the grace 
of God : and I would shew it — first in point of doc- 
trine — and then in point of practice. 

1st, As to point of doctrine. In the matter of 
righteousness before God, the law and the gospel 
are perfectly opposite, and they are only so in this 
point. The law and the gospel agree sweetly together 
in all things else ; but in this point of the righteous- 
ness of a man before God, the law and the gospel are 
quite opposite one to another. The gospel comes to 
bring in another salvation than the law thought of; 
and the law destroys the salvation of the gospel. 
The law and gospel, in point of righteousness before 
God, are exactly opposite ; " And if by grace, then 
it is no more by works, otherwise grace is no more 


grace ; but if it be of works, then it is no more of 
grace, for otherwise works were no more works," 
(Rom. xi. 6). Grace and works, in the point of 
righteousness before God, are perfectly opposite ; 
" You are saved by grace," saith the apostle, " not 
of works, lest any man should boast," (Eph. ii. 8, 9). 
2dly, Let us bring this matter into practice, and 
you will find that all men express this in their frame ; 
both the self-righteous man, and he that is not so. 
Not only is it asserted in point of doctrine, that works 
and grace are thus inconsistent, but we always find 
it, even in the spirit and temper, both of the one and 
of the other. 

1. He that seeks righteousness by the law, is a 
man that never saw his need of grace : and you may 
be well assured that that man will frustrate the grace 
of God, who never saw his utter need of it. He was 
never so far emptied, but he expects and imagines that 
he shall be able to work out a righteousness for himself, 
and so is not brought under any conviction of his 
utter need of the grace of God ; whereas he that is 
for the grace of God in Christ alone, is a man that 
hath a great need of the grace of God, and sees him- 
self undone without it. 

2. This self-righteous man sees no glory in the 
grace of God shining through the righteousness of 
Christ; there is no excellency in it to him. Every 
natural man is in this mind ; he sees a great deal of 
glory in his own doings : in a beautiful conversation, 
in brave gifts, and in a shining walk before men ; he 
sees a great deal of beauty and glory here. Every 
natural man thinks there is a great deal of glory in his 
own performances. The self-righteous Pharisee came 
boasting in his own performances ; " God, I thank 


thee that T am not as other men are, extortioners, un- 
just, adulterers, or even as this publican : I fast twice a 
week, and I give tithes of all that I possess," (Luke 
xviii. 11, 12). These were great things in the man's 
esteem, and so they are in the eyes of every natural 
man. But for that righteousness that is lodged in 
Christ, that is wrought out by a man without him, 
by one that came down from heaven, and is gone up 
thither again ; that hath all this righteousness seated 
in him, and gives it forth to us by mere grace ; no 
natural man thinks any thing of this. But the be- 
liever is a man that hath an high esteem of the 
righteousness of Christ. How doth the apostle Paul 
speak of this 1 "I count all things but dung, that I 
may win Christ ; and be found in him, not having on 
mine own righteousness," (Phil. iii. 8, 9). 

3. Every natural man is averse from the grace of 
God, and therefore he must needs frustrate the grace 
of God. He is averse from it : but every believer is 
just of another mind. Sirs, if all men's hearts were 
known to us, as they are to God, here is one thing 
that would determine every man's state. What way 
do you best like to go to heaven in ? "I would fain 
be very holy," saith the poor man, " that I may be very 
happy when I die.'* Saith the believer, " I would 
fain be clothed with Christ's righteousness, and get 
eternal life as the gift of his grace ; and I know that 
by being in Christ I shall be sanctified." But no be- 
liever seeks sanctification as his righteousness, and 
title to glory : it is a preparation for glory, and the 
way that leads to glory, to all them that are saved 
according to that blessed method, " Whom he jus- 
tified, them he also glorified," (Rom. viii. 30) ; and 
by glorification there, both sanctification and eternal 


life are well understood by most. — So much for the 
third doctrine, That seeking righteousness by the 
works of the law frustrates the grace of God. 

I would now speak a few words to the fourth doc- 
trine, and then make some application of both together. 

Doctrine 4. No true believer in Jesus Christ can 
frustrate the grace of God. The apostle is here 
speaking of it in the account that he is giving of the 
grace of God working in him : " I through the law," 
saith he, '*' am dead to the law, that I might live to 
God ;" and " I live by Christ, and by faith in him, 
and, therefore, I do not frustrate the grace of God." 
He is not speaking of the great attainment that 
some few Christians arrive at ; but he is speaking of 
that which is common to the state of all Christians : 
'■' I do not frustrate the grace of God." Before I come 
to the proof of this, I would lay down a few cautions, 
to prevent mistakes. 

1st, It must be allowed that a great many who 
have been made Christians have been long enemies 
to the grace of God ; and there is not a greater in- 
stance of this than the good man that speaks in my 
text, the apostle Paul. He was a great heart-enemy 
to Jesus Christ ; and he was an enemy to Christ, if 
I may so say, with a good conscience, according to 
the real light that the poor man's blinded conscience 
had : " I verily thought with myself that I ought to 
do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of 
Nazareth," (Acts xxvi. 9). " I never heard a name 
that I hated so much as the name of this Jesus of 
Nazareth; and I hated it from the heart, and my con- 
science prompted me to it." When our Lord met 
him by the way, " Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou 
me V little did the poor man think Christ died for 


him, and should be a blessed fountain of life to him. 
A believer may be a great enemy to the grace of God, 
before the grace of God makes him a believer. 

2dlyi It may not be denied but that a true be- 
liever may take in doctrines contrary to the grace of 
Christ in their tendency, though he perceive it not. 
I should be loath to think that all these Galatians, 
that are here so sharply reproved by the apostle 
Paul, were rotten-hearted people; there might be 
many sincere people amongst them, imposed upon 
by the cunning of them that lay in wait to deceive. 
There may be, through darkness, perplexed heads in 
many honest hearts, about several points concerning 
the grace of God. It is not for us to measure any 
body's state according to the principles that they pro- 
fess, unless they be very bad. 

Zdly, It is not to be denied but that in a fit of 
temptation, even a true believer may abuse the grace 
of God ; he may turn it into wantonness, and may 
grow light and vain, because of his mistaking the 
nature of the grace of God. Several have done so, 
and God knows how to tame them that do so ; and 
the severest fatherly rebukes of the law are upon 
them that wax wanton because of his kindness. These 
things being premised, I would briefly shew how it is 
that a good man cannot frustrate the grace of God. 

1. Because good men are all grace's captives. 
Every believer, as a believer, and when he is made a 
believer, is made a captive of the grace of God. How 
are men saved, think you \ We cannot see which 
way they are saved; the word goeth forth, and 
people hear it ; but we do not know who gets good, 
and when they get good by it. I will tell you when 
men are saved ; when the grace of God comes and 


lays hold of them, and claps hold of a poor sinner — 
" This man shall be my captive, and I will save him." 
All believers are captives to the grace of God, and, 
therefore, they cannot frustrate the grace of God ; 
they are all subdued by this grace, and made " will- 
ing in the day of his power." (Psalm ex. 3). 

2. No believer can frustrate the grace of God, be- 
cause he is dead to the law, as the apostle's word is 
in the context, (Gal. ii. 19). And there are two 
things needful to make a man dead to the law ; — to 
know the law, and to know himself : and whosoever 
knows both these, is a man dead to the law. He 
that knows the purity, and the spotlessness of the 
law of God, and he that knows his own heart, and its 
vileness, this man will natively draw this conclusion, 
" Surely this law can never do me any good. I can 
never fulfil it, and it can never save me ; if there be 
not another way of salvation than by the law, I am 
gone for evermore." " I through the law am dead 
to the law," saith the apostle ; " I need no more, to 
make me despair of life by the law, than to see the 
law : it commands what I cannot do, it threatens 
what T cannot avoid nor bear ; and therefore, I am 
dead to the law, that I might live to God ;" — " my 
life must come in another way than by the law." 

So much shall serve for the opening of these truths. 
It would now follow to make some Application ; 
which I shall do in two things, respecting all the doc- 
trines that I have raised from this former part of 
the verse. By these doctrines here delivered by the 
apostle, you are called to try the spirits, to try the 
doctrines you hear, and you are called to try your 
own state ; for every doctrine that is contrary to the 


grace of God is a doctrine that Christians should 
hate. And your eternal state is to be determined 
by these things — What are your heart-thoughts of 
the law of God ? What are your heart-thoughts of 
the righteousness of Christ 1 And -what are your 
heart-thoughts of the grace of God 1 And every 
one that knows truly what his inward sense of these 
things is, may soon come to some conclusion concern- 
ing his spiritual state : but I shall speak more fully 
to these things the next opportunity. 


" I do not frustrate the grace of God ; for if righteousness come by 
the law, then is Christ dead in vain." — Gal. ii. 21. 

From this first argument of the apostle for the 
justifying of a sinner through the righteousness of 
Christ, and not by the righteousness of the law, I 
have raised, and opened, and spoke something to 
four doctrines : — 

1st, That the grace of God shines gloriously in 
the justifying of a sinner through the righteousness 
of Christ. 

2dli/, That it is a dreadful sin to frustrate the 
grace of God. 

Sdli/, That all who seek righteousness by the law, 
thev do frustrate the Gfrace of God. 

4:ilily, That no true sound believer can be guilty 
of this sin. Frustrating the grace of God is a sin 
that no believer can commit. 

I would now come to make some application of 



these, which I mean to prosecute from these two 
heads : — 

I. To warn you to take heed and to try the spi- 
rits, as the apostle exhorts (1 John iv. 1), according 
to this doctrine. 

II. Try your own state according to your heart- 
thoughts of this matter. 

I. You are to try the spirits — you are to try the 
doctrines that you hear. When the greatest mea- 
sure of the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the 
churches, and when extraordinary officers were raised 
up amongst them, and in a time when some of the 
apostles were living, by one of them was this exhor- 
tation given, " Beloved, believe not every spirit, but 
try the spirits whether they are of God," (1 John 
iv. 1). And it is very observable, that the scope of 
that text that the apostle there lays down, leads us 
plainly to the doctrine that I am upon, " Believe not 
every spirit, for there are many false spirits, and an- 
tichrists, that are gone out into the world." But 
you will say, How shall we know them 1 Saith the 
apostle, '• Every spirit that confesseth not that 
Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God : every 
spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the 
flesh, is of God" (ver. 3). Now, by a very usualphra.se 
that was well understood then, and it is not hard to 
be known now, by " spirit," doctrine is meant. Every 
doctrine that tends not this way is not of God. Aye, 
but, you will say. Where are there any that say 
Christ is not come in the flesh, save the Jewsl The 
apostle seems to make this a grand mark of anti- 
christ. Now, in antichrist's kingdom (and that is a 
fitter name for them than that of the Church, for 


with the church they have nothing to do) it is every 
where asserted that Christ is come in the flesh ; for 
they have made a great part of their religion to con- 
sist in carnal, wicked representations of Jesus Christ ; 
they have made a goddess of his mother, and they 
have made a puppet-show of his life and death, by 
their ridiculous representations. Aye, but the main 
thing that Christ came into the flesh for, that is forgot- 
ten by them ; and of this the apostle speaks (ver. 10), 
" He hath sent his Son to be the propitiation for our 
sins." Christ's business in this world was to be 
made a sacrifice for sin ; and they that do not hold 
him forth as a sacrifice for sin, do, in eff'ect, say he 
is not come in the flesh. Now, concerning these 
doctrines that I would warn you against, I would 
branch them forth into a few heads. 

1. There are doctrines darkening the grace of God, 
and the righteousness of Christ, that you should be- 
ware of. The gospel is called by the apostle, " the 
gospel of the grace of God," twice in one discourse to 
the church at Ephesus (iii. 2, 7) ; and the "word of 
his grace," (Acts xx. 32). What judgment then 
should Christians make of such men's spirits, that are 
called ministers, and will be called so, and yet you may 
hear them preach from one end of the year to another, 
and never hear a word of the grace of God, or the 
righteousness of Christ ? If they be sound in the faith, 
it is well ; but the very concealing of these things 
is a great sin, and a great snare to people ; the very 
name of the gospel is the gospel of the grace of God: 
it is miscalled by the name of the gospel, if the grace 
of God runs not through every vein of it. 

2. There are doctrines perplexing the grace of God ; 
they make it dark, and they make it intricate : they 


perplex the doctrine with methods, and they perplex 
people's consciences with their doctrine. There is no 
church canon in all the world that is much worth 
regarding, but that which we have in Acts xv. ; for 
•those that were called by the name of General Coun- 
cils, for the first three hundred years after Christ, 
have many weaknesses and follies in them. ; and they 
began to savour of a begun degeneracy, though in 
the main points of the truths of the gospel they re- 
mained sound. In Acts xv. 1, certain men that came 
down from Judea had taken up this conceit, and 
" taught the brethren, that except they were circum- 
cised after the law of Moses, they could not be saved." 
Observe where they laid the stress of this thing, " ex- 
cept ye be circumcised after the law of Moses, ye 
cannot be saved." You know very well, that the 
apostle Paul looked upon circumcision as a very in- 
different thing : sometimes, in his travels, he ordered 
some to be circumcised, but at other times he would 
not ; he looked upon it as a matter of indifference, 
for the avoiding of scandals, and so the apostle reck- 
oned it no great matter : " Circumcision is nothing, 
and uncircumcision is nothing." Aye, but when once 
it came to be broached into a doctrine, and a ne- 
cessity laid upon it, " Except ye be circumcised after 
the law of Moses, ye cannot be saved," — let us see 
what this awful reverend assembly at Jerusalem say 
to it ; the apostles, and elders, and brethren, a blessed 
company they were, a blessed church, worth all the 
churches in England, without any reflection : " For- 
asmuch as we have heard that certain which went out 
from us have troubled you with words, subverting 
your souls, saying you nmst be circumcised, and keep 
the law ; to whom we gave no such commandment," 


(Ver. 24) : they trouble you, and they pervert your 
soul. Sirs, There are four questions, that must 
always be preserved plain ; plainly delivered, and 
plainly known by all good men : — 1st, What is that 
righteousness in which a sinner can stand safe before 
God ? The plain answer to it is, That it is the right- 
eousness of Christ only. 2dly, How come we by this 
righteousness? The gospel answer is, By grace alone; 
it is given us as a free gift, we do not buy it. 3dly, 
How are we possessed of this righteousness 1 By faith 
alone ; there is no putting on this raiment but by faith 
alone. 4thly, What warrant hath a man to believe 
on Jesus Christ ? The plain gospel answer is. Only 
the promise of the gospel. And here are two things 
I would caution you sbout, and the most part of 
people's mistakes lie about them. 1st, The law is 
no gospel but as it leads to Christ; the law not 
leading to Christ is against the gospel, and the gos- 
pel against the law ; but the law leading to Christ 
serves the gospel, and the gospel serves the law by 
fulfilling it. 2dly, The doctrine of holiness, as it 
flows from Christ, is gospel ; but the doctrine of 
holiness, without Christ, is no gospel. To make 
this plain : Whosoever they be that teach people to 
be holy, and tell them how they may be holy, and 
urge them very hard that they must be very holy, 
for this end, that when they are holy they may be- 
lieve on Jesus Christ ; these people pervert and per- 
plex the gospel : but if people be persuaded of the 
necessity of holiness for salvation, and that they 
must believe on Jesus Christ that they may be holy, 
this is gospel. That is the second thing : Have a 
care of those doctrines that perplex and confound the 
truths of the gospel. 


3. There are mixing doctrines : they that would 
mix something with tlie grace of God. The grace 
of God they will not disown, the righteousness of 
Christ they will not deny ; but they will put some- 
thing in with them in the matter of justification. 
Take heed of this matter ; it is a shame that this 
should be talked on as a matter of controversy ; it is 
a point that every one's conscience should be fully 
satisfied in, as they expect salvation from the hand of 
God. Indeed, good men may jar and jangle about 
terms that neither of them well understand ; but 
when the matter comes to a particular person's own 
case, there should be a full satisfaction in this point 
— that the righteousness of Christ for our justifica- 
tion must stand pure and unmixed. It is a corrupt 
thing to mix any of the works of the law with the 
grace of God ; and herein lay the error of the Gala- 
tians: the grace of God, and the righteousness of 
Christ, they liked very well ; but they would join the 
law of Moses therewith. Let the law of Moses keep 
its own place, and be the rule of our sanctification ; 
but in our justification, it hath no room at all. God 
never gave it any room there, and all they are fools 
that do : it never served any man that way. 

4. There are blaspheming doctrines, opposing 
and blaspheming the grace of God ; and the land is 
full of them. You may have heard of a sort of 
people, the Socinians, and they are gross enemies to 
the grace of God. These strike at the very root of 
the grace of God, and the righteousness of Christ. 
If Christ be not the true God, how can he save a sin- 
ner ? It is impossible that the righteousness of a crea- 
ture can atone for the unrighteousness of a creature. 
It is the Godhead of Christ that adds that infiiiite 


virtue to his sacrifice that we are saved by. So 
much for this first exhortation, " Try the spirits." 

II. I would exhort you to try your own state by 
this doctrine, " I do not frustrate the grace of God ;" 
and as this hath been handled, it calls you to try 
yourselves about three things ; — 1st, What are your 
real thoughts of God's law ? 2dly, What are your 
real thoughts of Christ's righteousness ? odly. What 
are your real thoughts of the grace of God ? A little 
to each of these. 

First, What are your real thoughts of God's law % 
— And although you may think this a remote-like 
mark, yet it is not so remote but it comes near to 
the point : judgment will be made of a man's state 
before God, according to his real thoughts of the law 
of God. Good men have always great and high 
thoughts of God's law, and they have low thoughts 
of themselves : " I esteem all thy precepts concern- 
ing every thing to be right, and I hate every false 
way," (Psalm cxix. 128). "The law is holy ; the com- 
mandment is holy, just, and good : the law is spi- 
ritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin, (Rom. vii. 
12, 14). But you will say, " Does not every body 
think so of the law of Godi" I answer, No. No 
natural man hath a good thought of the law of God. 
Every corrupt, unrenewed man hath one of these 
three thoughts concerning the law of God : — ■ 

1. The natural man thinks the law of God easy 
to be kept. It is a graceless proverb that some peo- 
ple have in their mouths sometimes, and it flows 
from the corruption of their hearts, " That it is an 
easier thing to please God than it is to please man." 
Indeed, if they would take God's way, it is an easy 


tiling to get his favour ; but, according to the sense 
that it is commonly spoken in, it is a wicked saying 
and flows from this wicked meaning, — that the natu- 
ral man thinks the law of God easy to be kept, and 
thereupon the Scribes and Pharisees (and so do all 
that seek righteousness by the law), they expound 
the law of God so largely that one would think any 
body might keep it. Therefore, when our Lord hath 
a mind to break down this fortress of self- righteous- 
ness, he explains the law of God in its true strictness. 
The Pharisees' doctrine was, that nobody broke the 
sixth commandment but he that murdered a man ; 
that no man broke the seventh commandment, but 
he that committed adultery with his neighbour's 
wife ; that nobody broke the ninth but he that fore- 
swore himself: and, indeed, if this had been all the 
interpretation of the law of God, that part of it that 
concerns our duty towards man had been no hard 
thing. Blessed be God, a great many good people, 
and bad people too, have not been guilty of these gross 
transgressions ; but when the spiritual meaning of 
the law comes to be considered, who is innocent ? " I 
had not known lust," saith the apostle, " unless the 
law had said. Thou shalt not covet," (Rom. vii. 7). 
" The commandment came to me in another sense, 
with that brightness that soon convinced me of sin." 
This is the first thought that people have of the law 
of God, — that it is easy to be kept. 

2. When they are beat from this, and they find 
the law of God to be so strict a rule that it reaches 
to the word, and thoughts, and heart, to the least 
motion either from within or without, then they begin 
to hope that the threatening will not be fulfilled : if 
God gives so severe a law, that reaches to all, even 


to the least sins, then they hope God will not punish 
every sin with the curse of the law. The Lord, by 
Moses, warns the people of this, " And it come to 
pass, when he hears the words of this curse, that he 
shall bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have 
peace, though I walk in the imagination of my own 
heart, to add drunkenness to thirst," (Deut. xxix. 19). 
The secure man is very unwilling to take up the 
holiness and the strictness of the law of God as 
forbidding every sin ; but he is far more unwilling 
to believe that God means to execute the threatened 
vengeance for these sins. And what sorry pleas have 
they? " God is merciful." Aye, so he is, but not 
to them that despise his law. God is not merciful 
to any law-breaker ; but God is merciful in providing 
a law-keeper to save us ; but he hath no mercy for 
the law-breaker. If a man expects life by the law, 
he must die by it. " Aye. but Christ hath died for 
sinners ;" and so he hath ; but Christ was sent to 
fulfil the law, and not to take it away. Christ came 
not to make the law of God less strict in command- 
ing than it was, nor less severe in threatening ; but 
Christ came to take both upon his own back, and 
all that believe in him shall be saved from both. 
Christ took not away the law, but fulfilled it ; and it 
is the reckoning of that fulfilling of the law by Christ 
to us, that is our salvation ; and thus " the righteous- 
ness of the law is fulfilled in us." The righteousness 
of the law was fulfilled by Christ, and this is reckoned 
to a believer ; and so the righteousness of the law of 
God is fulfilled in him ; fulfilled by Christ, and so 
fulfilled in the believer in him. 

But now suppose the light of the word drives a 
man from both these vain imaginations, and he sees 


the law to be so holy that no man can escape its 
threatenings ; when the natural man is thus beat 
from these two, then, 

3. He rises up in rebellion against the law, and 
blasphemes the law of God. Sirs, there are a great 
many poor creatures that complain grievously that 
many blasphemous thoughts follow them : I do be- 
lieve that next unto the advantage that Satan may 
have over some bad-tempered minds, and ill-disposed 
bodies, I am apt to believe that the main root of all 
these blasphemies, is this point of doctrine that I am 
upon. When the poor creature was secure, he 
thought he could easily fulfil the law of God, or avoid 
the curse of it ; but when he comes to see both these 
to be in vain, then, unless grace subdues the man's 
heart, it naturally rises in rebellion against the law 
of God. " Why did God give such a strict law, that 
nobody can keep, but every one must be destroyed by 
it?" These very thoughts arose in Paul's mind: 
"Was then that which was good made death to me ? 
God forbid," (Rom. vii. 13). The apostle Paul never 
knew himself to be a sinner till the law came ; and 
the more close the law came, it slew him the more, 
and quickened sin in him more. Now, how can any 
one think well of that law that slays the sinner, and 
enlivens the sin? "God forbid," saith the apostle, 
" that I should say this was the end for which the law 
was made ; but this was a blessed end in Christ's 
hand :" " By the commandment, sin appeared to be 
exceeding sinful," that Paul might see his exceeding 
need of a Saviour. And there are two things that 
raise these rebellious thoughts against the law of 

1. When clear light about the law shines upon 


the man's conscience, then all the Babel-building of 
their own works are thrown unto the ground : their 
praying, reading, hearing, holiness, it is all thrown to 
the ground by the law of God ; — the law condemns 
them utterly in point of righteousness. The law in- 
deed commands them in point of practice, and it 
commends them as things pleasing to God ; but in 
point of righteousness before God, the law condemns 
them utterly ; the only language of the law is this, 
"Do all, and live; fail in the least, and die:" — and 
thus the man sees all his own righteousness is gone. 
And how unwilling are people to yield to this ? 
What a great matter is it for a man to be able to do 
so ? When a poor awakened sinner, that never knew 
the grace of God, or the righteousness of Christ, 
when he hath by the force of good education, or the 
power of the word, been brought under some convic- 
tion of sin and duty, he then sets about praying, and 
reading, and hearing, and reforming, and, it may be, 
hath been doing something at this for several years ; 
but in the mean time was an utter stranger to Jesus 
Christ. Now what a great matter is it for a man to 
forego all this, as if it had no worth in it? But why 
should not a man be willing to part w^itli it ? "I 
count it all but dross and dung," saith the apostle, 
" that I may win Christ," (Phil. iii. 8). This blas- 
phemous frame is expressed in Ezek. xxxiii. 10, and 
it hath reference to the point that I am upon : 
"Therefore, thou Son of man, speak unto the 
house of Israel, Thus ye speak, saying. If our trans- 
gressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away 
in them, how should we live?" The meaning is this: 
" The Lord is here, by his severe prophet, plaguing 
us with reproofs from the word of God for our sins, 


and the execution of God's threatenings are upon us 
in his judgments; now if we be sinners, and God 
deals thus severely with us, what shall come on usT' 
Saith the Lord, (ver. 11), " There is a way of escape, 
' Turn and live ;' but have a care you do not trust to 
your own righteousness : for if you do, you are gone 
for good and all." Ver. 13, " When I say to the 
righteous, he shall surely live, if he trust to his own 
righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteous- 
ness shall not be remembered ; but for his iniquity 
that he hath committed he shall die for it." 

2. When the sinner once finds that he is forced 
to forego all that he hath got already, he then also 
sees that there are no hopes for the time to come ; that 
he hath no hopes at all of a righteousness by the law; 
and this the poor sinner reckons like the putting him 
into hell : he is as sorry to part with the rotten props 
of his own righteousness, as if the taking it away was 
the casting him into hell ; when it is the only way to 
save him from it. No man can be a believer on 
Jesus Christ, but he that despairs of righteousness by 
his own doings. This is the first thing I would have 
you examine yourselves about. What are your secret 
thoughts of the law of God 1 There is no righteous- 
ness can come by it ; and that is the excellency of 
the law ; it is none of the law's fault, but its glory, 
that no righteousness can come by it : it is a rule of 
righteousness, but it is no means to confer righteous- 
ness upon a sinner. The law can give eternal life to 
a sinless man ; but it can give no life to a sinner : 
" If there had been a law that could have given life, 
verily," saith the apostle, " righteousness should have 
been by the law," (Gal. iii. 21) ; righteousness should 
certainly have come that way. 


Idly, Try what your thoughts are of the right- 
eousness of Christ. By the righteousness of Christ, 
I do not mean his divine excellency, as he is the Son 
of God, equal with the Father ; nor the excellency 
of the man Christ Jesus, on whom the Spirit was 
poured forth without measure : but I mean, that 
righteousness that this God-man wrought out for us, 
as our Redeemer, for our justification, by his life and 
death ; this is called the righteousness of God, (Rom. 
X. 3). And every one may know his state towards 
God by his thoughts of this : — every despiser of it is 
a stranger to God, and every spiritual admirer of it 
is a man acquainted with God. 

1. The believer hath high and esteeming thoughts 
of it, as an only righteousness, and as a very glorious 
one. Let us compare a little what righteousness 
there is, has been, or can be. The first right- 
eousness lasted but a little while ; that of the first 
Adam and Eve ; it may be, it was not a day old ; 
however, it was a very short one. Now, there is no 
comparison between Christ's righteousness and this : 
it is true that this comes the nearest to it ; and the 
apostle Paul takes notice of this parallel, (Kom. v.) 
The first Adam stood in the room of all his poste- 
rity, and they all stood in him, and with him as long 
as he stood ; and this was a pretty glorious obe- 
dience that the first man performed, and if he had 
continued in it the time of his trial, it was to 
have been reckoned for the benefit of all his pos- 
terity ; but it was but the righteousness of a man ; it 
was but the righteousness of a creature ; it was a 
righteousness that would have continued happiness, 
but it could bring no happiness to them that had 
once lost it. If such a thing could have been ima- 


ginable, that the first Adam had stood, and one of 
his posterity had fallen, the first original righteous- 
ness would never have been able to have obtained 
pardon for that sinning offspring of Adam. But the 
righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ is that which 
brings in a pardon, and a title to eternal life, to 
them that had forfeited all. There islinother right- 
eousness, a little one, hardly worth that name, that 
is performed by believers, in obedience to the holy 
law of God ; but this comes no way near to it. If we 
may speak of the righteousness of the law, that is in 
hell. There are some poor creatures that do not 
imagine what hell is ; they think it is the place 
that in all God's creation may be best spared ; but 
let me tell you, hell is as useful a place as any : — it 
is there where the righteousness of the law is pro- 
claimed ; every lash that is there given by the justice 
of God to the damned, proclaims aloud the right- 
eousness and the holiness of the law. But I hope 
none will make any comparison between that right- 
eousness that the law squeezes from the damned by 
their punishment, and that righteousness that the 
law found in Christ when it bruised him for our ini- 
quities. Every believer hath high thoughts of this 
righteousness of Christ. 

2. And not only so, but every believer hath ventur- 
ing thoughts on this righteousness of Christ : the 
man not only thinks highly of it, but he builds upon 
it, and betakes himself to it. The righteousness of 
Christ is like a curious ark or ship, whereby all that 
are embarked in it, shall be safely landed in heaven. 
Now it signifies nothing for a poor man to stand 
upon the shore, and to commend the ship, and say it 
is a brave vessel ; he must get into it ; if ever he 


hath a mind to escape the destruction of the world, 
he must get into the ark, Christ. The apostle hath 
an elegant similitude, " By faith Noah being warned 
of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, 
prepared an ark, to the saving of his house : by 
which he condemned the world, and became heir of 
the righteousftess which is by faith," (Heb. xi. 7). 
Pray observe, the state of Noah and every man's state 
by nature are alike. God tells Noah, " An hundred 
and twentyyears hence I will drown this whole world ; 
and not a man, nor beast, nor fowl of heaven shall 
escape." Sirs, it is not so long, by one half almost, 
to that time when we shall all be in eternity! An 
hundred and twenty years was but a small time to 
them, who lived seven or eight hundred years. We 
are just in the same case : warning is given us by the 
course of nature, and by the word, that in a few 
years more we may be all turned out of this world ; 
and our dying is of equal importance, as to our eter- 
nal state, with Christ's coming : what difference is 
there if thou shouldst die this week, or if Christ 
should come to judge the world this week ? Thy 
eternal state is equally concerned in both. Now, 
God tells Noah, " I have provided an ark for thee : 
I will drown the whole world ; but I will provide an 
ark for thee." But after the man had builded it, he 
must get into it, or he could not be saved by it. 
Now, here comes in the tidings of the gospel ; we 
are not bid to prepare an ark, but we are told that 
God hath already prepared an ark, his own Son, who 
was hewed and framed by the justice of God, that he 
might be made a fit lodging for poor sinners. Now, 
the work of all them that would be saved, is to get 
into Jesus Christ, and to betake themselves to this 


rigliteousness, and when they have done so, to rest 
quietly there. But yet this righteousness of Christ, 
as much as it is, and should be, spoken of in the 
preaching of the word, yet multitudes of professors 
never once thought of it ; they often think we must 
be holy, and that Turks understand as well as you ; 
but pray, how do you think to come by your holi- 
ness? Without righteousness'? Never man shall 
be holy without the reckoning of Christ's righteous- 
ness to him ; without which you can never partake 
of Christ's Spirit to sanctify you. This seeking, and 
studying, and framing a holiness, without employing 
Christ, doth these two things : — it dishonours Christ 
utterly ; — and it renders holiness altogether impos- 
sible. It is utterly impossible there should be a 
spark of true holiness in that heart that is a stranger 
to faith in Christ Jesus. Morality and Pagan civility 
there may be ; but true gospel holiness is a blessed 
consequence of faith in Jesus Christ. 

3dly, Try your state by your thoughts of the grace 
of God ; what your thoughts of God's holy law are, 
and what your thoughts of your own righteousness 
are : — and then what your thoughts of the grace of 
God are. And wheresoever the grace of God is, 
there will be right thoughts of it framed in the 
heart ; and they will be many, and serious, and very 
deep, and reverent ; for the matter is very great. 
What greater thing can a man be exercised about 
than the grace of God towards great sinners? Oh, 
what a weighty subject is this for meditation ! and 
this I dare say, that he that hath but few and mean 
thoughts about the grace of God, never had one dram 
of the grace of God in himself : for all the grace 
that is in believers is but as a little drop from this 


great fountain ; and wherever it is really communi- 
cated, the fountain from which it flows will be 
greatly admired. There are a few things concerning 
these thoughts that I would speak a little to. 

1. See that your thoughts of the law, and of the 
grace of God, and of the righteousness of Christ, be 
such as are squared with the word of God: — we 
must think of these things as God hath spoken of 
them in his word : and not frame thoughts to our- 
selves, from our own imagination. What saith the 
word of God concerning the law, and the righteous- 
ness of Christ, and the grace of God appearing 
therein 1 

2. Let your thoughts of these things be such as you 
have when you are nearest to God. Pray take heed 
to this : all that are Christians, understand a little 
of this, what it is to be nearer to God one time than 
another. If you are true Christians yoa will know 
what this means ; if you are not, this direction be- 
longs not to you. There are some times when be- 
lievers are nearer to God than at other times ; and 
always, when a man is nearest to God, his thoughts 
of the things of God are best : — He would be a happy 
Christian that could always retain the same senti- 
ments and sense of the things of God that he some 
times hath. When a person is near to God, and he 
hath lifted up upon him the light of his counte- 
nance ; when the glory of God appears before the eyes 
of a man, what doth the man then think of the holy 
law of God, of the righteousness of Christ, and of 
the grace of God? Oh, there is nothing else that 
makes any considerable appearance in the eyes of 
a man at that time ! I am very well persuaded that 
the most confident pleaders of the cause of self-right- 


eousness, the men that plead most for being justified 
by the righteousness of the law, if God would but 
speak to them, and bring them near to himself, they 
would lay their hands upon their mouths and speali 
no more. " Behold I am vile," saith Job, " what 
shall I answer thee ? I will lay my hand upon my 
mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer ; 
yea, twice, but I will proceed no further. I have 
heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now 
mine eye seeth thee, therefore I abhor myself, and 
repent in dust and ashes," (Job xl. 4, 5, andxlii. 5, 6). 
— Labour I say to retain the same impressions of 
these great things of God that you had when you 
were nearest to God. 

3. Labour to have such thoughts of the law of 
God, and the righteousness of Christ, and the grace 
of God, as you find exercised souls have. Labour to 
entertain the same thoughts of these things, as you 
find the generality of exercised souls have. What a 
learned scholar saith of these things, is not so much 
to the purpose ; for they may mistake in many things : 
but what is the current, general sense of all them on 
whose consciences God ever wrought ; in whose con- 
sciences there is any light. "What is the general 
sense that they all have of these things ? Labour for 
that. Was there ever any Christian under the hand 
of the Spirit of God, that had any difference in this 
point ? Never one in this world : they all forsake 
the law, and despair of life by it : they all commend 
the righteousness of Christ, and betake themselves to 
it : they all admire the grace of God, and venture 
their all upon it. Whatsoever difference there may 
be about this or the other ordinance, or in other 
lesser things, yet as to those things, in which the 


very nature and heart of the new creature lies, there 
is no scruple at all about them. 

4. Labour for such thoughts of these things as 
you know you must have, and will have when you 
come to die. Labour for such thoughts of the law of 
God, and of the righteousness of Christ, and of the 
grace of God, as you will have when you come to die. 
Dying thoughts are commonly the truest. When a 
man is launching into eternity ; when the man hath, 
as it were, put one foot off from the shore of time, 
and is leaving this world — what a poor mean thing 
is this little cottage of self-righteousness 1 It is as 
nothing in the man's eyes ; but that great palace of 
the righteousness of Christ, and the great tenor of 
free grace, in bestowing it on the unworthy — what a 
glorious thing doth it appear to be ? Dying people 
do not use to brag of their lives and their great at- 
tainments : " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," saith 
dying Stephen, (Acts vii. 59), " I am waiting for one 
good turn more from Christ. Now, I am dying. 
Lord, take my soul." " Although my house be not 
so with God," saith dying David, " yet he hath made 
with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all 
things, and sure : this is all my salvation, and all my 
desire," (2 Sam. xxiii. 5). 

5. Labour to have such thoughts of these things 
as all men will have, both good and bad, both on the 
right hand and on the left hand of the Judge, at that 
great day. The world will once be all of a mind, 
that is questionless: in the main things all believers 
are of one mind now ; and in the main things all un- 
believers are in one mind ; and unbelievers reckon 
Christ crucified weakness and foolishness ; and all 
believers reckon him the wisdom and the power of 


God : but when the last day comes, they will be all 
of one mind exactly, both good and bad ; they on the 
right hand, and they on the left hand too. If this 
question were to go round to all the miserable assem- 
bly at the Judge's left hand. What think you of the 
law of God 1 — " Oh ! it is a holy, powerful, dreadful 
law," would they say; "we lie under it for ever- 
more, and feel the lashes of it." What think you of 
the righteousness of Christ ? " It is a safe garment, 
happy they that are clothed with it ; we have refused 
it, and therefore we are destroyed." The despised 
grace of God is there precious to them. We use to 
say, " Truth is the daughter of time :" if I may re- 
flect upon the words, " Truth is the daughter of 
eternity;" and this day of eternity will bring forth 
truth to all men, as to these three points : — The 
Holiness of the law of God — The Virtue of the right- 
eousness of Christ — and. The Dominion of the grace 
of God. These are points that all the damned in 
hell, and all the glorified in heaven, will eternally 
have the same sentiments of; but with wonderful 
difference as to their share therein. The damned 
hear nothing but the curse of the law : but it is the 
happiness of the glorified in being delivered from it : 
" That as sin hath reigned unto death, so grace 
reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by 
Jesus Christ our Lord," (Rom. v. 21). The words just 
going before are, (ver. 20), " Where sin abounded, 
grace did much more abound." There are two great 
things that have filled this world : — there were but 
two men in it that are worth talking of — the first 
Adam and the second ; and if you know these well, 
it is no great matter what you are ignorant of. The 
first Adam is the law ; the second Adam is the gos- 


pel : to the former belongs hell, and to the hitter 
heaven. Now, these two great men brought in two 
great things : — the first man brought in that woful 
thing we call sin; and the second man brought in 
that brave thing we call grace : and both these are 
great principles. Sin reigns, and all that it reigns over 
it destroys; it reigns unto death : and grace reigns, 
and all it reigns over it saves ; " Grace reigns unto 
eternal life, through righteousness, by Jesus Christ 
our Lord." 


** If rigliteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," — 
Gal. ii. 21. 

'• I DO not frustrate the grace of God; for if right- 
eousness come by the law, then is Christ dead in 
vain." You have heard of the connection of this 
verse with the preceding part of the chapter ; and 
of its relation to the scope of the apostle, and to that 
point of gospel doctrine that he is there proving ; 
and that is, " That a man is not justified by the law, 
but by Christ, or by faith in him. And this verse 
contains two arguments, the first of which I have 
already spoken to, and finished. In the former part 
of the words, " I do not frustrate the grace of God," 
would the apostle say, " If I seek righteousness by 
the works of the law, I should frustrate the grace of 
God ;" and from this I have spoken at some length 
to four points of doctrine. 

1st, The grace of God shines gloriously in justify- 
ing a sinner by faith in Jesus Christ. 


2dly, That it is a horrible sin to frustrate the 
grace of God. 

Mly, That all who seek to be justified by the law, 
do frustrate the grace of God. 

A:thly, This is a sin that no godly man, no sound 
believer, can be guilty of ; and this I observed from 
the apostle's saying, " I do not frustrate the grace of 
God." And this was spoken by him as he was a be- 
liever, and not as an extraordinary officer of the 

I am now to enter upon the apostle's second argu- 
ment, in the latter part of the words, " For if right- 
eousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in 
vain." You may see, by the different character, 
that the word " come" is there added by our trans- 
lators, to make the sense more smooth. According to 
the running of the word in the original, it is, " If 
righteousness by the hiw, the Christ is dead in 
vain." — If it be by the law, if it come by the law, 
then Christ is dead in vain. There are implied and 
contained in these words two negatives, and two 
positives; and I would speak a little to each. The 
two negatives are these : — 

I. That the righteousness that justifies a sinner 
comes not by the law. 

II. That Christ died not in vain. 

The two positives that are contained in the words 
are these : — 

I. That if righteousness came by the law, then 
Christ died in vain. 

II. That it is a horrible sin to make Christ's death 
to be in vain. And how a sinner can be guilty of it, 
you shall hear. 


I. The first negative in the text is, That right- 
eousness comes not by the law ; and this is implied, 
when the apostle speaks of it, as a principle from 
whence so absurd a conclusion would follow : it is 
plainly intimated that righteousness comes not by 
the law, because the apostle saith, if it did do so, 
" Christ was dead in vain." 

I would speak a little to this — that the righteous- 
ness of a sinner for justification before God, comes 
not by the law. There is nothing that a man doth 
according to the law, there is nothing that a man 
sufi'ers according to the law, that can be his right- 
eousness before God ; and there is something of both 
these attempted by men, but both in vain. This I 
would prove, that no sinner can have righteousness 
by the law. 

1. The law discovers sin, and that is the apostle's 
argument : " Therefore by the deeds of the law shall 
no flesh be justified in his sight ; for by the law 
is the knowledge of sin ;" (Rom. iii. 20). There is no 
sin in the law ; but the knowledge of sin by the law, 
is the knowledge of a contrary by its contrary. The 
law is perfectly holy ; but this strict rule discovers 
the crookedness that is in man's heart. By the 
law is the knowledge of sin," (Gal. iii. 11). But that 
no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it 
is evident, for " the just shall live by faith." It was 
evident to Paul, and it is evident to believers, but it 
can never be evident to an unbeliever, that no man 
is justified by the law, or by the works of it. 

2. No man can be justified by the law, because 
the law condemns every sin, and every sinner for 
every sin. The law of God is so strict, that it con- 
demns every sin. Now, that which condemns, cannot 


justify : for these two are contrary, "As many as 
are of the works of the law, are under the curse," 
(Gal. iii. 10). The apostle Paul was a bold divine ; he 
spoke the truth of God boldly, and cared not what 
men thought of it. Had the apostle said, " As 
many as break the law, are under the curse," we 
would have thought that pretty tolerable ; but 
saith he, " As many as are of the works of the law, 
are under the curse." Why so? Because their 
works are not perfect ; for it is written, saith the 
apostle, " Cursed is every one that continueth not in 
all things which are written in the book of the law 
to do them." The law curseth every one that cannot 
fulfil it ; if a man could fulfil the whole law of God, 
and transgress but in one point, yet that one sin 
would be condemned by the law, and the sinner for it. 

8. No man can be justified by the works of the 
law, because every man is a sinner : " What things 
soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under 
the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and that 
all the world may become guilty before God : there- 
fore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justi- 
fied in the sight of God ; for by the law is the 
knowledge of sin," (Rom. iii. 19, 20). The question 
that the apostle is there upon, is on this point, that 
is so great a point in the Christian religion, How 
shall a sinner be justified before God ? It is not how 
a holy man may be justified ; — it is not how a man 
that never sinned may be justified ; but it is. How 
shall a sinner be justified ? a man that is flesh be 
justified ? Now, saith the apostle, there is no flesh jus- 
tified in the sight of God. 

4. The law knows no mercy. Mercy and grace 
belong to another court than the law : " The law 


came by Moses ; but grace and truth came by Jesus 
Christ," (John i. 17). Condemnation for sin belongs 
to the law, but justification from sin belongs to the 
gospel. The law hath nothing to do with the one, 
and the gospel hath nothing to do with the other. 
The law hath nothing to do to condemn them that 
the gospel absolves. But you will say, " Is not this 
a great fault in the law, that it cannot justify a 
man ?" The apostle speaks some way like this in 
Heb. vii. 18, 19 ; though I do believe that the apostle 
there rather means the Old Testament dispensa- 
tion, than this law, in its more general compre- 
hensive sense, that I am now speaking of : " For 
there is verily a disannulling of the commandment 
going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness 
thereof; for the law made nothing perfect, but the 
bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we 
draw nigh to God." This is a common thought aris- 
ing in the hearts of men, '•' Is it not a fault in the 
law, that it cannot justify a man ? Is it not a fault 
that the law can send men to hell, but not bring 
them to heaven T' I answer. No : It is the excellency 
of the law ; not its fault, but its glory ; for let us con- 
sider a little what the law doth about righteousness. 
1st, The law discovers andreveals aperfect righteous- 
ness ; there is no surer, no better rule of righteous- 
ness in this world, than the holy law of God : there- 
fore, when our Lord is dealing with a poor carnal 
legalist, a puffed-up young man, that came to him, 
in great haste, with irreat zeal, runninjr to him like 

to " ' to 

a man that would be in heaven before any body 
else, " Good master, what good thing shall I do to 
inherit eternal life V^ Saith our Lord, " You know, 
no man can come to heaven, but he that is perfectly 


righteous ; now the only rule of perfect righteousness 
is the law of God ; and seeing thou art in the vein 
for doing," " keep the commandments." The poor 
man, not knowing his own heart, nor the breadth of 
God's law, replies, " All these things have I kept 
from my youth up." Saith our Lord, " I will prove 
thee a breaker of the law, and a gross one too ;" 
" Go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the 
poor ; and follow me, and thou slialt have treasures 
in heaven." Not that a title to eternal life comes 
to any man by giving his estate to the poor ; but our 
Lord hereby discovers the rottenness of the poor self- 
justiciary's heart, that the man quickly, before all 
the company, discovered that his estate was more 
valuable to him than eternal life. Our Lord would 
have him give an evident proof, that his heart was 
disengaged from the world, and then follow him, 
and he should be saved ; but he went away sorrow- 
ful, for he had great possessions, (Matt. xix. 16), 
There is a perfect rule of righteousness in the law of 
God, for the most perfect creature that ever was : 
for sinless Adam in his state of innocency. " The 
law of God is perfect :" so it is often called in the 
word of God. 

2d, This righteousness that the law of God dis- 
covers, it also commands by its authority ; all manner 
of righteousness is commanded by the law of God. 

3d, All sin is threatened by the law of God ; yea, 
the want of this righteousness which it commands, is 
threatened by the law. 

4th, By the law, the promise of eternal life is made 
to the righteous ; for the law of God, completely 
considered, hath the promise of eternal life to all the 
obeyers of it ; but never man shall reach it, because 


the righteousness of the law is impracticable ; it re- 
quires that righteousness that no man can perform ; 
and, therefore, what it promises no man can attain 
to. This the apostle calls the impossibility of the 
law : so it is in the original ; we read it, " What the 
law could not do, in that it was weak through the 
flesh," (Rom viii. 3). The true reason why the law 
cannot give life, is because of t\iG flesh of them that 
are under it ; no man can fulfil the righteousness of 
the law, and therefore no man can attain to life by 
the law. So much for the first negative implied 
here, That no righteousness can come by the works 
of the law. 

II. The other negative is this. That Christ died 
not in vain. Now, this word, in vain, respects two 
things : — 1st, That is said to be done in vain which 
is needless. 2dly, That is said to be in vain, that 
is unprofitably done. Now, neither of these can be 
said of the death of Christ : there was great need of 
his dying, and great good came by his dying, and 
therefore he died not in vain. 

Is^, There was great need of Christ's dying, and 
that upon manifold respects ; I will name a few. 

1. In regard of the decree of God, there was a neces- 
sity of his dying ; and this our Lord had in his eye, 
when he was come just upon the borders of dying : 
*' Now is my soul troubled. What shall I say ? Father, 
save me from this hour : but for this cause came I 
unto this hour ;" (John xii. 27), — wh<h*e our Lord 
hath respect to the necessity of his dying, upon the 
account of the divine appointment. 

2. It was necessary upon the account of the covenant 
between the Father and the Son : Christ promised 


to die, and, therefore, he must be as good as his 
word : — " A body thou hast prepared me ; then said 
I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written 
of me, to do thy will) O God." And what was that 
will of God ? Dying was his will, and the blessed 
consequences of it. (Heb. x. 5, 7). 

3. It was needful upon the account of the scriptures; 
and this our Lord insists on frequently. The scrip- 
tures of the Old Testament foretold Christ's death : 
there were many predictions and prophecies of it ; 
many types and shadows of it ; therefore our Lord 
tells his disciples : " These are the words that I 
spake unto you, whilst I was yet with you, that all 
things must be fulfilled which are written in the law 
of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, con- 
cerning me," (Luke xxiv, 44). And again, (ver. 46), 
*' Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to 
suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day." 
There was a necessity of it for the fulfilling of the 
scriptures, and, therefore, our Lord rebuked Peter, 
when he ofi'ered to make a defence for his master : 
" How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus 
it must be ?" (Matt. xxvi. 54). "Put up thy sword, 
man, this is no place for that work : the scriptures 
are fulfilling." 

4. There was a necessity of Christ's death, for the 
salvation of his people. Their justification and their 
salvation were only brought about by the death of 
Jesus Christ. 

2dly, And that leads me to the second head — 
Christ's death was not in vain : for there was great 
fruit and profit by it. 

1. It brought in an everlasting righteousness, 
which should stand accepted before God : this is 


what our Lord wrought out by his death, foretold 
by the prophet Daniel, " To bring in everlasting 
righteousness, " (chap. ix. 24). 

2. There was not only a righteousness brought 
in, but by Christ's death there was a purchase made ; 
a purchase of grace and glory for his people. The 
death of our Lord Jesus Christ purchased great 
things for us, even all things that we enjoy. It did 
not indeed purchase the covenant of grace ; for the 
covenant of grace sent Christ ; but yet it purchased 
all the blessings of the covenant ; for the grand con- 
dition of that covenant was, that Christ must buy 
all the good things contained in it by the price of 
his own blood. 

3. Christ died not in vain, for his blood con- 
firmed and sealed the charter : " This is my blood 
of the new testament, which is shed for many for 
the remission of sins, drink ye all of it," (Matt. xxvi. 
27, 28). Christ's death confirmed the covenant, and 
made it a testament, (Heb. ix. 15, 20). 

4. Christ's death was not in vain, but for great 
profit : for thereby a way to heaven was made plain 
to believers, a patent way to heaven. How blessedly 
doth the apostle speak of this, " Having therefore, 
brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the 
blood of Jesus : by a new and living way which he 
hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to 
say, his flesh," (E[eb. x. 19, 20). The meaning is, 
his flesh rent; the consecrating of the way, was by 
rending the flesh of Jesus Christ. The righteousness 
that justifies us — the blessings that make us happy 
— the covenant that secures them — and the way to 
heaven, are all by the death of Jesus Christ : — and 
they are strangers to all these things, who do not 

94 sf:rmon v. 

know that their way to them lies through this vail 
of the slain Son of God. So much for the two ne- 

Secondly, I am now to speak to the two positives 
in the words. 

1. That if righteousness come by the law, then is 
Christ dead in vain. I have told you that righteous- 
ness comes not by the law, and that Christ did not 
die in vain. Now, the apostle joins them together, 
and shews what a strange aspect they have one upon 
another. " If righteousness come by the law, then 
Christ is dead in vain." This is an inference that 
will necessarily follow, If righteousness comes by the 
law, then Christ died in vain, to work out righteous- 
ness ; — if righteousness comes by the law, Christ's 
death was in vain in the main end of it, viz., to work 
out righteousness. My friends, I would have you 
consider this with yourselves, and this one thought 
may serve to rectify many mistakes : — Our Lord 
Jesus Christ did not die to make hard things easy, 
to make a hard way to heaven easy ; but Christ died 
to make impossible things certain. He did not die 
to make it more easy to get to heaven than it was 
before ; but he died to make certain n way to heaven, 
that was impossible before. " What the law could 
not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God 
sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, 
and for sin condemned sin in the flesh," (Rom. 
viii. 3). And again, " If there had been a law that 
could have given righteousness, verily righteousness 
had been by the law ;" (Gal. iii. 21). But because 
there was no law that could give righteousness to 
man, therefore Christ came to bring about that 


which was altogether impossible. How unworthily 
do they think of Jesus Christ, and the grand con- 
cern of his death, that look upon it only as purchas- 
ing a new law, whereby men might come to heaven 
on easier terms than they could by the old ! Christ 
came to purchase a new way to heaven : a way that 
none could make but he : a way without which none 
could ever have come to heaven : — and really (though 
I acknowledge that about things nnrevealed, and 
about the secret things of God, men should be sober) 
that notion of the possibility of the salvation of the 
heathen, that never heard of Jesus Christ, is con- 
demned in this text. If a Pagan that never heard 
of Christ, may be saved, then is Christ dead in vain. 
If the end that Christ died for, can be reached any 
other way, then certainly Christ died in vain. If 
the righteousness that Christ died for, could have 
been attained any other way ; if the fulfilling of the 
law that Christ underwent, in order to this righteous- 
ness ; if these could have been done any other way, 
Christ died in vain. But these things are not so. 

2. The second positive is, That making Christ's 
death to be in vain, is a horrible sin. The apostle is 
here arguing from absurdities; and he argues from two 
of the greatest that can enter into the minds of men. 
" If you seek righteousness by the law, you frustrate 
the grace of God, and what a wretched creature is 
that ! If you seek righteousness by the law, you 
make Christ's death in vain ; and can you do any- 
thing worse, than to kick against the grace of God, 
and to make the death of Christ in vain V These 
sins are very great. But you will say. Can any man 
make Christ's death in vain ? No. No man, nor 
any devil neither, nor all the devils together, can 


frustrate the virtue of Christ's death ; it is above the 
reach of hell and earth. The devil, and the -wicked 
world, thought to make Christ's life in vain, by put- 
ting him to death ; to put an end to his doctrine, 
and life, and disciples, by killing him; and to put an 
end to all, by keeping him in the grave: but to make 
Christ's death in vain is utterly impossible ; it is so 
certain, so reverend a transaction of divine Provi- 
dence, contrived in so much wisdom, that its end 
must necessarily be reached. But, though no man 
can make Christ's death to be in vain really — yet, 

1st, A man may make it in vain to himself ; he 
may reduce himself into the same case as if Christ 
had never died. " Behold, I Paul, say unto you, 
that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you 
nothing," (Gal. v. 2). A strange word ! " Christ 
shall profit you nothing !" Was the apostle Paul a 
man that preached an unprofitable Christ ? No ; 
but you render him vain, if you seek righteousness 
by the law. (Ver. 4), "Christ is become of no eflfect 
to you ; whosoever is justified by the law, is fallen 
from grace." A justified man by the law, there never 
was in this world ; but the apostle speaks of it here 
as supposing the best ; supposing they had got all 
that they could have devised, for their justification 
by the law, supposing that they had obeyed the law 
more perfectly than any sinner ever had done, saith 
the apostle, " This is all the benefit you would reap 
by it, Christ's righteousness would be of no eff'ect to 
you." A man makes Christ's death to be in vain to 
himself, when he doth not lay hold of its power and 
virtue by faith. 

2d, A man makes Christ's death to be in vain, by 
doing all that he can to make it so; though he doth 


not do so in fact. "And you \nll find this the rule of 
God's dealing ; he measures men's wickedness, and 
judges of their actions, by the native design of them, 
though they never reach it. In all acts of dis- 
honouring God, and rebellion against him, God deals 
with men according to their sinful intentions in these 
sins, though they fall far short of taking effect. A 
sinner, by his self-righteousness, cannot make Christ's 
death to be in vain ; but he doth all that he can to 
make it so : and this is what the apostle means here 
when he saith, " If righteousness come by the law, 
then Christ is dead in vain." " You do all that you 
can to make Christ's death in vain." 

I should now come to speak something of the 
greatness of this sin, of making Christ's death in 
vain; of entertaining any principles or practices that 
have a tendency that way. But I cannot enter upon 
this now. 


" If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." — 
Gal. II. 21. 

" I DO not frustrate the grace of God, for if right- 
eousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in 
vain." The most sacred things revealed to us in the 
word of God are these two — the grace of God, and 
the death of Christ ; and they are joined close toge- 
ther. They are two things that all who have a mind 
to be saved must constantly have in their eye — the 
grace of God, and the death of Christ; and yet there 
are not a few that despise both — that frustrate the 



one, and make the other in vain; and this charge the 
apostle lays upon an error that he is reproving the 
Galatian churches for, and that was, their seeking 
righteousness by the law, and the works of it. I 
have spoken unto these words, as containing two 
strong arguments against seeking of righteousness by 
the works of the law. 

1st, That thereby the grace of God is frustrated. 

2dly, That thereby Christ's death is made to be in 
vain; as far as the wickedness of man can do the one 
or the other. 

Upon this second argument I was the last time, 
and spoke something to four notes that I drew from 
it ; two of them negatives, and two of them posi- 

1st, That there is no righteousness, for the justify- 
ing a sinner, that can come by the law. Never man 
got to heaven by the law: never a man got tolieaven 
by his own good doings. All go to hell for their 
own evil doings; but no man, since sin came into the 
world, ever went to heaven by his own good doings. 
That I proved. 

2dly, The other negative contained here is. That 
Christ hath not died in vain : for the apostle doth 
certainly imply that he did not die in vain, when he 
aggravates the sin of seeking righteousness by the 
law, as inferrmg so horrible an absurdity ; for he is 
pointing forth the heinousness of this sin in very 
dreadful colours, on purpose to make it hated. 

The two positive truths contained here are these: — 

1. If there was any righteousness that could come 
by the law, Christ's death would be in vain. Christ 
had died in vain, if any man could have stood ac- 
cepted before God without the virtue of his death. 


The virtue of Christ's death was of efficacy for the 
rendering men accepted before God, even before he 
came into the world. The fathers, that died before 
Christ came, were saved by the same faith that be- 
lievers on Christ were saved by, after he came. So 
saith the apostle, " But we believe, that through the 
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved, even 
as they," (Acts xv. 11) ; comparing the Old Testa- 
ment and the New Testament dispensation together. 

2. The second positive was this, That making 
Christ's death to be in vain was a great and horrible 
sin. I told you it was impossible to make it vain 
really, or to hinder any of its excellent fruits. As 
no man could hinder the solid causes of it, so no man 
can hinder the strong fruit of it : the fruit of the 
death of Christ is quite out of the reach of men or 
devils. When our Lord was in his humbled state, 
the devil could, upon permission, carry his body up 
to the pinnacle of the temple; but he had no power 
to hurt him. When he was in this world, one wicked 
disciple betrayed him, and the rest cowardly forsook 
him ; his enemies prevailed against him in the hour 
and power of darkness, and took away his life ; but 
for the fruit and virtue of his death, that is lodged 
higher than man can reach : yet men may make 
Christ's death to be in vain, 

Is^, To themselves. A poor creature that hath 
not faith in Christ, gets no more good of him than if 
Christ had never died, or if Christ's death had been 
in vain ; than if he had never died, or had died to 
no purpose. 

2dhj, God will always reckon with men according 
to their design in sinning. AH sin is a breaking of 
God's law ; but yet God's law will not be broken, but 


will break all the breakers of it. Sin is counted and 
charged as a dishonouring of God ; and yet the 
Lord's honour is advanced in the ruin of the sinner. 

I proceed now to shew you the dreadiulness of 
this sin, of doing any thing that hath a tendency to 
the making Christ's death to be in vain. I would, 
1st, aggravate this sin in its just measures ; and, 
2dly, come to the application, and shew how com- 
mon a sin this is. It is a great sin to make Christ's 
death in vain, in the way wherein it is practicable, 
and in that sense that the apostle here means. 

1st, Let us consider God. Whensoever we are to 
take the just measure of any sin, we are to take it 
with respect to God. This is the grand aggravation 
of all sin, that it is against God. When David is 
confessing, with deep remorse, his vile sins of adultery 
and murder, which were sins against his neighbour, 
" Against thee, thee only, have I sinned," saith he, 
" and done this evil in thy sight," (Psalm li. 4). Now, 
let us consider what this sin doth with respect to God : 
and here we must take up some account of God, ac- 
cording to the gospel revelation of him ; for as Jesus 
Christ is not revealed by the law, so neither is the 
sin of rendering his death to be in vain, aggravated 
by the law as it is by the discoveries made of God in 
the gospel. It is a sin against God the Father, and 
against God the Son, and against God the Holy Ghost. 

To make this sin appear in its greatness, first 
it is against God the Father wofully. The greatest 
contrivance that ever the infinitely wise God had, 
for the glory of his name, was the working out of 
eternal redemption, by the death of his own Son, for 
a company of lost sinners. This is the chief of the 
ways of God : all things revealed of him, and of his 


counsel, and of liis purpose, and of liis actions, are 
all but low in regard of this ; all others are subser- 
vient to this act of Divine Providence : this is the 
chief of the ways of God. Let us see what treasures 
of his glory are concerned therein. 

1. There is infinite wisdom in contriving a way 
that the understanding of angels and men could not 
find out, and when it is revealed it cannot be fully 
known. It is said concerning the angels, that they 
*' desire to pry into those things :" into those things 
that the Spirit reveals, " concerning the sufi'erings of 
Christ, and the glory that should follow," (1 Pet. i. 
11, 12). Now, if the glorified angels in heaven be 
students of Jesus Christ, and of the glory of his suf- 
ferings, and of the glory that was the fruit thereof, 
how much more should men do so ! There is a " ma- 
nifold wisdom of God" that shines therein, and is 
perceived by and made known to them, " To the in- 
tent that now unto the principalities and powers in 
heavenly places, might be made known, by the church, 
the manifold wisdom of God, according to his eter- 
nal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our 
Lord;" (Eph.iii.lO). Now, wh ere the wisdom of God 
is so much concerned, judge you what a provocation 
it must needs be, when foolish man does all that may 
be to defeat this wisdom. " Christ as crucified," is 
called " the wisdom of God and power of God ;" but 
unto poor ignorant man he is foolishness and weak- 
ness, (1 Cor. i. 23, 24). 

2. In this way of saving us by the death of Christ, 
there is the great grace and mercy of God that he 
would magnify. Now, what a great sin must it be 
to count all tliis in vain 1 " God so loved the world, 
that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever 


believeth on him should not perish, but should have 
everlasting life,'* (John iii. 16). " God commendeth 
his love to us, in that whilst -sve were yet sinners, 
Christ died for us," (Rom. v. 8). And shall this 
love be so far despised, as that a man shall endea- 
vour to make it be in vain ? 

3. This is a contrivance, also, for the magnifying 
the holy law of God. The Lord is so zealous for 
his law, that he will part with it for no man's sake. 
He will not abate an ace of the rigour of his law for 
the saving of the world ; but he hath found out a 
way to give the law all its due, and yet to give the 
poor sinner all that he needs. This is marvellous : 
the law gets all the righteousness it demands, and 
the sinner gets all the justification he needs : the law 
shall be honoured, and justice shall be satisfied, and 
the sinner shall be saved, and not destroyed : " God 
is just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus 
Christ," (Rom. iii. 26). 

2dly, This sin is also aggravated, as it is against 
God the Son. Let us consider what Christ's death 
was : it was the greatest concernment of a divine 
person. It was a great deal better to say, all the 
martyrs died in vain : it were a far less sin to say, 
as the ungodly world doth, " That they threw away 
their lives, with their folly and preciseness, when 
they might have saved them with a word, or a bow, 
or a cringe, to the idols of the nations." It were a 
great sin to say so. You know how the apostle ag- 
gravates this as a great absurdity, as to the doctrine 
of the resurrection : " Then they also that are fallen 
asleep in Christ are perished," (1 Cor. xv. 18). .But 
that was a small matter, in regard of making Christ's 
death to be in vain, which was a special concern of a 


divine person. The blood slied was the " blood of 
God," (Acts XX. 28). And can God's blood be shed 
in vain 1 It was the lowest step, and the crowning 
act of Christ's sufferings : all that went before would 
not serve. The low estate he was born in, and the 
manifold afflictions he lived in ; his being seized on 
in the night with soldiers, and lanterns, as a thief ; 
his being bound, his being scourged, his being nailed 
to the cross in torment — this will not do neither. 
The crowning and saving act of our Lord Jesus Christ 
was his dying. It was also the grand pledge of our 
Lord's love, the great discovery, the great proof of 
his love to his people. " He loved his church, and 
gave himself for it," (Eph. v. 25). " He loved us, and 
washed us from our sins in his own blood," (Rev. i. 5). 
" Greater love hath no man than this, that a man 
lay down his life for his friend," that is, " A greater 
testimony of love than this can no man give, than to 
part with his life for them that he loves," (John xv. 
13). Now, judge you what a great sin it must needs 
be for a man to lay an imputation of vanity, and un- 
profitableness, on this great pledge of the love of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, to say he died in vain ? 

Sdly, This sin of charging Christ's death to be in 
vain, is a sin against the Holy Ghost ; it is sinning 
against the Holy Ghost. We find concerning the 
Holy Ghost, that he framed that body that our Lord 
lived in, and died in ; he was conceived of the Holy 
Ghost, (Matt. i. 20). Next, Christ was anointed by 
the Spirit without measure, which was our Lord's 
text at Nazareth : " The Spirit of the Lord is upon 
me, because he hath anointed me to preach the 
f'ospel to the poor," (Luke iv. 18) : " The Spirit of 
the Lord is upon me." The Holy Ghost did assist 


him, and witness to liim, in his death and at his re- 
surrection. And therefore, when Stephen was preach- 
ing Christ to Christ's murderers, he aggravates their 
sin by this, " Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in 
heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost : 
as your fathers did, so do ye." Especially, this sin 
is greatest when the Holy Ghost is convicting men, 
by the law, of their vileness ; and convincing men, 
by the gospel, of the relief that is offered by Christ 
Jesus ; and a great many struggle against the Spirit 
of God in both these cases. It is a long while before 
the sinner yields to the conviction of the Spirit, tliat 
all things are naught within, and that there is no- 
thing right in them ; and it is as long, many times, 
before they yield to the Holy Ghost, in venturing 
their souls on Christ as a sufficient Saviour. — And 
thus you see how this sin is aggravated, as being 
against God the Father, God the Son, and God the 
Holy Ghost. But to come a little lower. 

This sin of making Christ's death to be in vain, 
is a dreadful sin against others also. It is a sin 
against sinners, and against believers also. It is 
so far a sin against others, that every unbeliever, 
every stubborn refuser of life and salvation by Christ's 
death, doth, in a manner, teach all others to run on 
in the same way of destruction that he takes : — He 
that saitli Christ died in vain, doth in a manner cut 
the throats of the whole world ; for all that are 
saved, must be saved by the virtue of his death. It 
is also a great sin against believers. The apostle 
aggravates this in the case of scandal; and the 
scandal that the apostle there speaks of, was in the 
un-tender use of Christian liberty. You sin against 
Christ, and then you also " cause your weak brother 


to perish, for whom Christ died," (1 Cor. viii. 11, 
12). The word perish there, might well have 
been rendered in another English word that is less 
offensive : " Through thy knowledge shall the weak 
brother perish," or rather, ' stumble and fall,' for 
whom Christ died, for when you sin so against the 
brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin 
against Christ." Now, the thing that I drive at is 
this ; if the apostle thus aggravates the un-tender use 
of Christian liberty, without a due regard to the 
weakness of other Christians, that may be overthrown 
and hurt thereby, how much more must this sin be 
aggravated, of endeavouring to make Christ's death 
to be in vain 1 For, 

1. This strikes at the foundation of the Chris- 
tian's faith ; for if a man hath any faith at all, it 
must be built on Christ's death ; that you will make 
no question of: that faith which is not built on a 
dying Christ, is but a perilous dream : God awaken 
all from it that are in it ! When the apostle is 
placing the foundation of his confidence, in that song 
of triumph, (Rom. viii. 33, 34), the very first word of 
it is, " Who shall lay any thing to the charge of 
God's elect % it is Christ that died." 

2. This sin strikes against the foundation of all 
the Christian's peace and comfort. Not only is the 
believer's state secured by his faith in Jesus Christ ; 
but his quiet, and the calm of his conscience, are 
maintained also the same way. If the virtue of the 
death of Christ be taken away, all the joy of believers 
goes with it ; for it stands only in this. The death 
of Christ is of eternal virtue and value, and, there- 
fore, the believer's joy springs up perpetually. 

3. This sin strikes against all the praises of the 


saints on earth, and of the glorified in heaven. To 
make Christ's death in vain, would drown all the 
music both of heaven and earth. No believer here 
could give any praise ; and there would be no praises 
there. The song of Moses and the Lamb rises from 
this — the Lamb was slain ; " Worthy is the Lamb, 
that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wis- 
dom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and bless- 
ing," (Rev. V. 12). They sing that praise eternally, 
because they eternally feel the virtue of his blood. 

Application. — I come now to make some im- 
provement of this point. If it be so dreadful a sin 
to make the death of Christ to be in vain, how fear- 
ful a thing is it, that yet this sin is so common ? I 
know multitudes think themselves as free from it, as 
the Galatians, to whom Paul wrote, thought them- 
selves free from the error he charges them with : 
but men's imaginations are no proof of their inno- 
cency. It is here charged upon them that they were 
guilty of it ; otherwise they would not thus have been 
charged, by the Holy Ghost, with the sin of making 
Christ's death to be in vain, as much as man can do, 
and as to themselves. I will instance in a few things, 
as proofs of this : 

1st, To begin with that instance in the text, of 
" seekinsr riirhteousness" bv the law : — Whosever 
they be that seek righteousness by the law, these 
men make Christ's death to be in vain. If they do 
so, " Christ is become of no effect to them ; Christ 
profits them nothing," (Gal. v. 2, 4). " But who are 
these," say you, " that seek righteousness by the 
lawl" I might answer this question with another, 
Who doth not ? Every body doth, in one measure or 


another. Seeking righteousness by the law, is when 
a poor sinner thinks he can be able, some time or 
another, to do that which God will be gracious to 
him for : whether it be a work of the law, or a work 
of the gospel, it is all one for that ; when a man 
thinks to do that for which God will accept him as a 
righteous man, and account him no more a sinner — 
this is one that makes Christ's death to be in vain : 
for if it were possible that any man could be righteous 
before God, by any thing that he could do, saith the 
apostle, " Christ is dead in vain." 

2dly, All apostates from the Christian profession 
are chargeable with this sin of making Christ's death 
to be in vain ; and there are not a few of them in 
the age we live in. They are so dreadfully painted 
forth in the word of God, that, if I may so say, their 
very picture hath scared many an honest heart ; 
many honest-hearted believers have been scared 
dreadfully with seeing the picture of these apos- 
tates. It is said, " They crucify to themselves the 
Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame ;" 
(Heb. vi. 6). " Of how much sorer punishment, 
suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath 
trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted 
the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanc- 
tified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to 
the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. x. 29). These per- 
sons once made a profession that there was virtue 
in the blood of Christ ; but now they are come to re- 
nounce it. I am truly afraid of this thing ; it hath 
often come in my mind : we have a generation 
amongst us, that are plagues come from hell; men 
called Deists, which is nothing else but a new court 
word for an Atheist : and they that are called 


Socinlans, wliicli is only a more civil word for a 
Turk ; people who do not believe that Jesus Christ 
is the Son of God, but only a good man that died at 
Jerusalem. They believe not that Christ died for 
any other ends than to testify the truth of his doc- 
trine, and to set us an example to suffer patiently for 
the truth. My thoughts are not only about the 
horror of this heresy, that all should tremble at 
but my real jealously is, that there are amongst them 
not a few that have sinned the sin against the Holy 
Ghost ; that have come up to blaspheming the 
Spirit of God, and the blood of the everlasting 
Covenant, shed by the Son of God. The Spirit of 
God hath written their doom, and let the saints 
wait in fear and patience, till God execute it : for 
execute it he will, were their quality ever so high, 
their number ever so great, their wisdom and power 
ever so strong. They are combined against the Son 
of God, and he will be avenged upon them ; and let 
the faith and prayer of the saints hasten it, 

Sdli/, All that seek not righteousness, and eternal 
life, through Jesus Christ, and his death, they are 
guilty of this sin, of thinking, and counting that 
Christ died in vain. All that do not seek eternal 
life by Christ, are guilty of this sin. And how many 
such poor creatures are there, that for as often as 
they have read the Bible, and for as often as they 
have heard the gospel preached, yet to this day they 
never saw any need of the death of Christ for 
themselves ? They run away with a notion, that it 
was needful the Son of God should come into the 
world, and die for men; but they were never con- 
vinced of this, that it was simply needful for thee, and 
for thy salvation ; that unless the Son of God had 


come, and laid down liis life for iliee, thou couldst 
not be saved. Every man must be convinced of his 
personal need of Christ's death, that ever expects to 
get any good thereby. 

4,thly, A great many poor creatures never saw any 
glory in the death of Christ. I do acknowledge that 
the cross of Christ was the greatest and thickest vail 
upon his glory, when he was forsaken by his fol- 
lowers ; when he was insulted over by his enemies ; 
when heaven and earth forsook him, and hell was 
enlarged against him. What was more low than the 
man Christ when he died 1 Yet, notwithstanding, to 
a believer, the great beaming forth of the glory of 
God shined in the face of Christ crucified. Herein 
shined the manifold wisdom and grace of God. Every 
lash, in a manner, that the Father laid upon the Son, 
proclaimed aloud the love of the Father, that put 
him to that sufiering, and the love of the Son that 
underwent it. The poor Jews were but sorry be- 
lievers (John xi. 36) : when they saw Christ weeping 
at Lazarus's grave (although 1 believe Christ wept 
not so much for Lazarus, as in contemplation of the 
common calamity of mankind, and it may be, this 
was the first grave that ever Christ was so near to in 
his life), " Behold," say they, " how he loved him !" 
Surely, then, Christ's cross should far more teach us 
to cry out, " Behold, how he loved his people !" than 
Lazarus's grave, and Christ's weeping over it, did the 
Jews, to say, " Behold, how he loved him !" Christ's 
dying for his people proclaimed his love to them in- 
deed ; but yet a great many see no glory in all this. 

bthlii, Many poor people have no business with 
Christ, about the virtue of his death ; they have no 
employment for him about that thing, to have the 


virtue of the death of Christ applied to them for 
their salvation. This is that the apostle was so 
mighty earnest for, but they have no thought, no 
understanding of it : " That I may know him, and 
the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of 
his sufferings, being made conformable to his death.'* 
What was this conformity to the death of Christ that 
Paul was here labouring for ? Was it only wishing 
that he was a dead man ? No, no ; he would have, 
and find the virtue of Christ's death quickening him : 
raising him up, and saving him more and more. 

I will tell you, there are some things about the 
grave of Christ that should make every believer's 
heart to be much about it, and to n;ake us visit it 
daily by faith. 

1. There the law is buried, there the old hus- 
band is laid that we can never be well till we are 
divorced from. The apostle tells us several thingg 
concerning this " Blotting out the handwriting of 
ordinances, that was against us, which was contrary 
to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his 
cross," (Col. ii. 14, 15). There were few eyes so good 
as to be able to see the condemnation of the law nailed 
to the cross of Jesus Christ ; to see sin condemned by 
him, as the word is (Rom. viii. 3), " He condemned 
sin in his flesh," being made a sacrifice for it. There- 
fore, when the apostle is, in the 7th chapter of the 
Romans, speaking of the difference between the law 
and the gospel — between a natural state and a be- 
liever's — he resembles it plainly to this, to the state 
of a woman that hath two husbands. The first hus- 
band was the law, and a dreadful one it was ; no 
fruit was brought forth by that marriage but that 
which was unto death. Now, she must be sure that 


this husband be dead before she can be lawfully mar- 
ried to Jesus Christ. " If whilst her husband liveth 
she be married to another man, she shall be called 
an adulteress : but if her husband be dead, she is free 
from the law ; and so she is no adulteress, although 
she be married to another man." (Ver. 3). 

2. In the grave of Christ, by faith, believers are 
to see that their sin is buried. Saith the apostle, " He 
hath put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," (Heb. 
ix. 26). " He put away sin :" he hath so far put it 
away, that it shall never rise up in judgment against 
any that the virtue of Christ's death is applied to : 
thereupon the apostle grounds his triumph on this, 
" It is Christ that died," therefore the believer can- 
not be condemned, (Rom. viii. 34). 

3. In Christ's death there is a charter sealed by 
his blood. And how should believers be exercised in 
looking to Christ's death on this account 1 There are 
many seals to God's covenant : seals on God's part, 
and seals on our part. God puts to the seal of his 
word, and of his oath, and of the sacraments, and of 
manifold repeated promises ; and believers they put 
to their seal of faith. " He that hath received his 
testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true ;" 
(John iii.33). But thebest and greatest seal is Christ's 
death, confirming the covenant. " The covenant was 
confirmed before of God in Christ," saith the apostle, 
(Gal. iii. 17). 

Lastly, To bring the charge of this sin yet more 
close, even believers themselves are not innocent of 
it : not only all that seek righteousness by the law — 
not only all apostates from the faith of the gospel — 
not only they that seek not righteousness and life by 
the virtue of Christ's death — but even believers 


tliemselves, are guilty of this sin. There is some- 
thing in tlieir frame that saith, " Christ hath died in 

1. There is conscience of sin arises many times 
in believers. The apostle, speaking of the Old Tes- 
tament administration, finds fault with it as defec- 
tive upon this account. That it did not make him 
that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the con- 
science. " They could not make the comers there- 
unto perfect, for then would not they have ceased to 
be offered; because that the worshippers, once purged, 
should have had no more conscience of sins ;" (Heb. 
ix. 9 and x. 1, 2). Pray observe the scope of the 
apostle in both these chapters : he is there telling us 
what shadows the Jews had of that grand sacrifice 
that was to be offered by the true High Priest, Jesus 
Christ, in their daily, and weekly, and monthly sacri- 
fices ; but the greatest of all was in that grand sacri- 
fice of atonement that was offered up once a-year. 
*' Now," saith the apostle, " all these sacrifices do 
not make the comer thereunto perfect as to his con- 
science ;" that is, " they did not deface all conscience 
of sin in the Israelite, but there was a secret fear 
still that their sin was yet in remembrance before 
God." And what is the argument with which the 
apostle proves that these sacrifices did not make the 
comers thereunto perfect % Saith the apostle, " It is 
proved by this. Because they were so often repeated." 
The daily sacrifice was repeated every day, and the 
weekly sacrifice every Sabbath day, and the monthly 
sacrifice every new moon, and the yearly sacrifice 
once a year, upon the seventh month. " Now," saith 
the apostle, *' If these things could have made the 
comers thereunto perfect, they would not thus have 


needed to have been repeated." And from this ar- 
gument he concludes the insufficiency of the legal 
sacrifices to quiet the conscience, and he also proves 
the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice to quiet the con- 
science by its oneness. " But this man," saith he, 
" after he had ofi'ered one sacrifice for sin, for ever 
sat down on the right hand of God," (ver. 12) ; and 
again, " By one off'ering, he hath for ever perfected 
them that are sanctified," (ver. 14). The case lies 
plainly here : Every true believer, that hath acted 
faith on Jesus Christ distinctly, and hath lodged his 
eternal salvation, and his everlasting acceptance with 
God, on the virtue of Christ's sacrifice, this man 
chargeth Christ's death with being in vain, if con- 
science rise again, and he hearken to it. I know sin 
will he, and conscience will check for sin ; but re- 
member this, Christ died not in vain : the virtue of 
Christ's death remains still ; it made that peace that 
no future transgressions shall be able to weaken or 

2. In the case of sanctification. Saith the poor 
believer, " The work of holiness and sanctification 
goes on slowly :" and truly so it doth ; and we should 
see it, and bewail it greatly. Well, what then ? 
Hath Christ died in vain ? Christ's dying is sanctifi. 
cation : " For their sakes I sanctify myself," saith 
our Lord, "that they also might be sanctified through 
the truth," (John xvii. 19). " He gave himself for us, 
that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify 
unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,'- 
(Titus ii. 14). It were a great blessing if believers 
had but skill to draw, by faith, sanctifying virtue 
from the death of Jesus Christ. This is what the 
apostle is upon, Kom. vi. throughout. "How shall 



we that are dead to sin, live any long-er therein V 
But how are believers dead to sin 1 Have they not 
sin living in them ? " We are dead to sin in Christ," 
saith the apostle ; " he died for sin, and he hath 
dominion over sin, and we reckon ourselves dead to 
sin, but alive to God, through Jesus Christ," (ver. 11). 
3. There is weakness of faith in believers, as to 
the glory to come. Not only are there many qualms 
of conscience, and many defects in their holiness, but 
when believers think of the glory to come, and the 
great prize of their high calling, and see it great, 
and high, and far above them, the more they see of 
the glory of it, the more they see they are unworthy 
of it. " May such a vile wretch as I expect this 
great reward of eternal life?" Yes, for Christ 
bought it ; he hath not died in vain. It will be best 
known at that day what Christ died for, and for 
whom : when all the kings that he hath bought, and 
all the crowns that he hath purchased for them, and 
all the kingdoms shall be seen, it will then be known 
Christ died not in vain. Every shaking of faith, as 
to any blessing that Christ's death purchased for his 
people, every shaking of that faith, hath this woful 
charge to be given in against it, that Christ then 
hath died in vain. Indeed, if the crown of life was 
to be enjoyed as a reward of thy works, it were a 
vain thing to expect it : if it were to come in as a 
reward for our performances, it were a dream to ex- 
pect it : but, since it is the gift of God, through Je- 
sus Christ our Lord — since Christ hath bought it — 
every believer should expect it : " As great as it is, 
as unworthy as I am ; yet, notwithstanding, the con- 
fidence of faith should be maintained." Therefore, 
now, for the consolation of believers, labour by faith 


to drink in these two tilings, — That righteousness 
comes not by the law, and that Christ hath not died 
in vain ; and what strong consolation will they yield ! 
1. Righteousness comes not by the law; and there 
is great comfort in this. Righteousness comes not 
by the law, to any man out of Christ ; and there is 
no condemnation comes by the law, to any man in 
Christ. If so be that men will give glory to God, 
and renounce their own righteousness, and all their 
expectations of relief that way, and betake them- 
selves to God's device of salvation by Jesus Christ, 
and believe on him, as they can expect no good 
by the law, so they should fear no hurt by it ; for, 
as sin hath made it impossible that the law of God 
should justify us, so the grace of God in Christ hath 
made it impossible that the law should condemn a 
believer in him. Therefore, saith the apostle, 
*• There is now no condemnation to them that are in 
Christ Jesus." Why so 1 " The law of the Spirit of 
life, in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law 
of sin and death : for what the law could not do, in 
that it was weak through the flesh, that God hath 
done by Jesus Christ, that so the righteousness of the 
law might be fulfilled in us," (Rom. viii. 1, 2, 3, 4). 
2. Feed also upon this by faith. That Christ died 
not in vain. There is nothing you can want, no- 
thing that you can pray for, nothing that you can 
ask for in time, nor enjoy to eternity, but it is con- 
tained in this, " Christ died not in vain :" for Christ 
died to all those blessed purposes that are needful 
to make them happy for ever that are sharers therein. 
Whensoever you come to have any dealings in ear- 
nest with God about salvation, and your justification, 
and eternal life, always remember these two things,— 


The grace of God, and Christ's death. The law hath 
nothing to do in this case ; it cannot help you whilst 
you are under it, but condemn you : and if you be 
believers, the law cannot hurt you, for you shall be 
absolved ; for this is a righteousness without the law, 
'• But witnessed to by the law and the prophets," 
(Acts X. 43). 




" Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy doctrine : continue in them : 
for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself, and them that 
hear thee." — 1 Timothy iv. 16. 

THE words are a substantial part of the good 
counsel and direction the apostle giveth unto 
Timothy, and in him, unto all the ministers of the 

In them are two things : 

1. A threefold duty laid on gospel-ministers, " Take 
heed unto thyself, and unto thy doctrine ; continue 
in them." 

2. A double advantage consequent upon the dis- 
charge of this duty : " For in doing this, thou shalt 
both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 

First, Minister's duty is in three things here. 

1st, " Take heed unto thyself." Thou art set in 
a high office, in a dangerous place ; take good and 
narrow heed: look well to thyself, thy heart and way. 

2d, " Take heed unto thy doctrine." Though thou 
be ever so well gifted, and approved both of God and 
men ; though thou be an extraordinary officer, (as 
Timothy was) ; yet take heed unto thy doctrine. 
These two we pass at present ; because we shall re- 
sume them at greater length, when we take their 
help to the resolving of this question. 


3d, " Continue in them." This hath relation, it 
appears, unto ver. 12 and 15, as well as unto the 
preceding part of this verse. I shall dismiss this 
part of the verse with these : 

1. Continue in thy work. Thou who art a minis- 
ter, it is a work for thy lifetime ; and not to be taken 
up and laid down again, according as it may best suit 
a man's carnal inclinations, and outward conveniences. 
The apostles that laboured with their hands, have, 
by that example, set the conscience of a minister 
at liberty, to provide for the necessities of this 
life by other employments, when he cannot live of 
the gospel ; yet certainly no man that is called of 
God to this work, can with a safe conscience abandon 
it wholly. Paul, for example, rather than necessity, 
both preached, and wrought in a handicraft. As 
preaching doth not make working unlawful, so nei- 
ther should any other business of a minister make 
preaching to cease. 

2. Continue in endeavours after greater fitness for 
thy work. No attainments in fitness and qualifica- 
tions for this work, can free a man of the obligation 
that lies on him to increase and grow therein more 
and more. It is not enough that a man study and 
be painful ere he enter into the ministry, but he must 
labour still to be more fit for his great work. 

3. Continue in thy vigour, and painfulness, and 
diligence. Young ministers, that are sound and sin- 
cere before God, are usually warm and diligent in 
the first years of their ministry ; and many do decline 
afterwards, and become more cold and remiss. This 
exhortation is a check thereunto, " Continue in 

Secondly, The second thing in the word, is, the 


double advantage proposed to encourage ministers to 
this hard duty. 

1st, " Thou shalt save thyself." Thy own salva- 
tion shall be promoted and secured thereby. 

How becoming is it for a minister to mind his own 
salvation ! and to mind it so heartily, as to be ani- 
mated from the hopes of it unto the greater diligence 
in his ministry ! 

But how doth faithfulness in the ministry of the 
gospel further the minister's salvation ? 

1. Faithfulness in a man's generation- work, is of 
great use and advantage to salvation. " Well done 
good and faithful servant," from the Lord's own 
mouth, is a great security ; and diligence and faith- 
fulness in improving the talents we are entrusted with, 
through grace, procure that testimony. 

2. Thou shalt save thyself from the guilt of other 
men's sins and ruin, if thou be faithful in the minis- 
try : (Ezek. xxxiii. 9.) " Thou hast delivered (or 
saved) thy soul," saith the Lord to the prophet in 
the case of unsuccessful faithfulness. So Paul (Acts 
xviii. 6), " I am clean, your blood be upon your own 
heads :" and (Acts xx. 26, 27), " I take you to record 
this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men : 
for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the 
counsel of God." Every minister pledgeth his soul 
to God, that he shall be a faithful servant ; and he 
that is such, may freely take up his stake, whatever 
his success on others be. 

3. Faithfulness and painfulness in the ministry of 
the gospel, promotes a man's own salvation, in so far 
as the work of Christianity is woven in with the right 
discharge of the office of the ministry. Many minis- 
ters can say, that if they had not been ministers, they 


had in all appearance lost their souls. The subject 
of the minister's work, is the same with that of a 
Christian's ; and above all men should he be careful 
of his heart and intentions, that all be pure and spi- 
ritual. No man, in any work he is called to, is un- 
der so strict a necessity of dependence on the influence 
and assistance of the Holy Ghost, both for gifts and 
grace. And are not all these great helps unto our 
own salvation 1 

2d, The second advantage is, " Thou shalt save 
them that hearthee." There islittle hope of that man's 
being useful to save others, that minds not his own sal- 
vation ; and therefore the apostle puts them in this 
order, " thyself," and then, " them that hear thee." 

This description of the people, " them that hear 
thee," saith. That the principal work of a minister is 
preaching ; and the principal benefit people have by 
them, is to hear the Lord's word from them ; though 
there be a seeing (that is, of their holy conversation) 
that is also useful, (Phil. iv. 9). But the apostle knew 
no such ministers as were only to be seen in worldly 
pomp and grandeur, and seldom or never heard 

" Thou shalt save them :" The great end of both 
preaching and hearing, is salvation ; and if salvation 
were more designed by preachers and hearers, it 
would be more frequently the effect of the action. 

" Thou shalt save them." Thou shalt, by the 
Lord's blessing on thy ministry, be successful in con- 
verting sinners, and in building up of saints in holi- 
ness and faith unto salvation. Not that ministers 
are of themselves able by all their endeavours to carry 
on this great end ; they are only God's tools and in- 
struments, (I Cor. iii. 6, 7). Concerning this, 


1. We find, that the Lord hath appointed this 
gfreat ordinance of the gospel-ministry for this end, 
the saving of men, (Eph. iv. 11, 12, 13). It is 
through their word that men believe, (Johnxvii. 20). 
And divine appointment of the means, declares both 
it to be useful, and the end to be hopeful. 

2. He hath also given many promises of his pre- 
sence, blessing, and success, to follow and attend them 
whom he sends on this great errand. Christ's first 
calling of the apostles had this promise in it, " I will 
make you fishers of men :" which not only declared 
what that employment was he called them unto, but 
it assured them of success in it. At his leaving of 
them, he promised " to be with them unto the end 
of the world ;" (Matt, xxviii. 20) . And this promise 
is as good to us as it was to them. 

3. He hath also revealed much of his mind about 
minister's duty, in order to this end of saving men. 
This also makes the end more hopeful. 

4. We find, that the Lord doth qualify and fit 
them whom he makes successful. He makes men 
" able ministers of the New Testament," the word of 
life, (2 Cor. iii. 5, 6). And still, according to the 
success the Lord hath a mind to bless a man with, 
gifts, and qualifications, and assistance, are propor- 
tionably given. The apostles, that had the greatest 
harvest to gather in, were made the strongest la- 
bourers ; and, though in a far inferior degree, the 
same method is observed by the Lord in dealing with 
and by ordinary ministers. It is true, that always 
the most able and learned ministers are not most 
successful ; yet, generally, the most skilful labourers 
are most blessed. Neither are the most learned and 


able men for parts most fit and skilful in dealing with 
souls at all times. 

Now, having opened the words, we shall return to 
the question to be resolved, " By what means may- 
ministers best win souls T' In speaking to which, 
I shall, 

1st, Shew what this text saith unto this purpose. 
And then, 

2d, Give some further account thereof from other 
scriptures. And, 

3d, Apply it both to ministers and people. 

I. What this text speaks about this matter. 
It looks two ways upon this question. 1. It gives a 
direct answer unto it, and point sforth duty. 2. It 
gives an encouraging promise of the good effect and 
fruit of the discharge of the duty. I shall carry on 
both together. 

First, " Take heed unto thyself." Wouldst thou 
be a saved and successful minister ? " Take heed unto 
thyself." Such warnings imply always a case of dif- 
ficulty and danger wherein he is that gets them. 

Take heed unto thyself in these things : 

1. Take heed that thou be a sound and sincere be- 
liever. The importance of sincere godliness in a 
minister, is written in the deep wounds that the 
Church of Christ hath received by the hands of un- 
godly ministers. It hath been made a question, 
Whether an ungodly man can be a minister ? but it 
is none, that such men are in a most desperate con- 
dition : " Depart from me ; not because you ran un- 
sent, or preached error instead of truth, or preached 
poorly and meanly, (all great sins in themselves) ; but 
because you work iniquity" (Matt. vii. 22, 23) ; the 


usual expression of entire ungodliness. "What use 
the Lord may make of the gifts (for great gifts he 
gives to the worst of men) of ungodly men, even in 
the ministry of the gospel, is one of his deep paths. 
But no man can reasonably imagine, that a walker 
in the way to hell can be a fit and useful guide to 
them that mind to go to heaven. If a man would have 
peace in his conscience, and success in his work of 
the ministry, let him take good heed to this, that he 
be a sound Christian. There is a special difficulty 
for a minister to know his grace. Gifts and grace 
have deceived many with their likeness ; although 
the difference be great, both in itself, and to an en- 
lightened eye. 

2. Take heed to thyself, that thou be a called and 
sent minister. This is of great importance as to suc- 
cess. He that can say, " Lord, thou hast sent me ;" 
may boldly add, " Lord, go with me, and bless me." 
It is good when a man is serious in this inquiry. It 
is to be feared that many run, and never ask this 
question : so is it seen in their speed and success. " I 
sent them not, therefore they shall not profit this 
people at all" (Jer. xxiii. 32), is a standing rule to this 

These things, if found, may serve to satisfy a mi- 
nister's conscience, that Jesus Christ hath sent him. 

1st, If the heart be filled with a single desire after 
the great end of the ministry, the glory of God in 
the salvation of men. Every work that God calls a 
man to, he makes the end of it amiable. This desire 
sometimes attends men's first conversion. Paul was 
called to be a saint and an apostle at once, (Acts ix.) ; 
and so have many been called to be saints and minis- 
ters together. If it be not so, yet this is found with 


him that Christ calls, that when he is most spiritual 
and serious, when his heart is most under the impres- 
sions of holiness, and he is nearest to God in com- 
munion with him ; then are such desires after the 
serving of Jesus Christ in the ministry most powerful. 
And the sincerity of his desire is also to be examined : 
and when it is found, it adds greatly to a man's 
peace ; when his heart bears him witness, that it is 
neither riches, nor honour, nor ease, nor the applause 
of men, that he seeks after, but singly Christ's ho- 
nour in the saving of men. 

2d, It helps to clear a man's call, that there hath 
been a conscientious diligence in all the means of at- 
taining fitness for this great work. That love to the 
end that doth not direct and determine unto the use 
of the appointed means, may justly be suspected as 
irregular, and not flowing from the Holy Ghost. 
Even extraordinary ojSicers seem not to have been 
above the use of ordinary means, (2 Tim. iv. 13) ; old 
dying Paul sends for his books and papers. 

3d, A competent fitness for the work of the mi- 
nistry, is another proof of a man's call to it. The 
Lord calls no man to a work for which he doth not 
qualify. Though a sincere humble man (as all mi- 
nisters should be) may and should think little of any 
measure he hath, whether compared with the greater 
measures of others, or considered with regard unto 
the weight and worth of the work ; yet there must 
be some confidence as to his competency, for clearing 
a man's call, (2 Cor. iii. 5, 6). What this compe- 
tency is, is not easy at all times to determine. Sin- 
gular necessities of the church may extend or intend 
this matter of competent fitness. But in general 
there must be, 1. A competent knowledge of gospel- 


mysteries. 2. A competent ability of utterance to 
the edifying of others. This is " aptness to teach," re- 
quired of the apostle in 1 Tim. iii. 2, and Titus 
i. 9, that a minister be " able, by sound doctrine, to 
exhort and to convince gainsayers." 

4th, The savour of a man's ministry on the hearts 
and consciences of others, both ministers and people, 
helps much to clear a man's call. So that indeed 
ordinarily a man can never be so well confirmed in 
the faith of his being called of God, until he make 
some essay in this work. Deacons must first be 
proved, (1 Tim. iii. 10) ; much more ministers. A 
single testimony given by ministers and Christians, 
that the word dispensed by the man is savoury, and 
hath efi'ect on the conscience, is a great confirmation ; 
especially, if sound conversion of some follow his la- 
bours. That is indeed a seal of his ministry, (2 Cor. 
iii. 3, and 1 Cor. ix. 2). 

3. Take heed unto thyself, that thou be a lively 
thriving Christian. See that all thy religion run 
not in the channel of thy employment. It is found 
by experience, that as it fares with a minister in the 
frame of his heart, and thriving of the work of God 
in his soul, so doth it fare with his ministry both in 
its vigour and efi'ects. A carnal frame, a dead heart, 
and a loose walk, make cold and unprofitable preach- 
ing. And how common is it for ministers to neglect 
their own vineyard 1 When we read the word, we 
read it as ministers, to know what we should teach, 
rather than what we should learn as Christians. Un- 
less there be great heed taken, it will be found, that 
our ministry, and labour therein, may eat out the life 
of our Christianity. Not that there is any discord 
betwixt them ; but rather a friendly harmony, when 


each hath its place and respect. The honest believer 
meditates, that he may excite his grace ; and minis- 
ters too often meditate only to increase their gifts. 
When we preach, the sincere hearer drinks in the 
■word ; and it may be we seldom mix faith with it, to 
grow thereby. Oh, how hard is it to be a minister and 
a Christian in some of these acts ! We are still con- 
versant about the things of God ; it is our study all 
the week long. This is our great advantage. But 
take heed to thyself, lest ordinary meddling with di- 
vine things bring on an ordinary and indifferent im- 
pression of them ; and then their fruit to thee, and 
thy benefit by them, is almost gone, and hardly re- 

4. Take heed unto thyself in reference to all the 
trials and temptations thou mayest meet with. Be 
on your guard, " watch in all things, (2 Tim. iv. 5). 
No men are shot at more by Satan than ministers, 
and he triumphs not more over the foils of any than 
theirs. And Christ is liberal in his warnings of dan- 
gers, and in his promises of help in them. 

Secondly, The second word in the text to this 
purpose of directing ministers how to be useful to 
others, is " Take heed unto thy doctrine." Art thou 
a minister % Thou must be a preacher. An unpreach- 
ing minister is a sort of contradiction. Yea, every 
sort of preaching is not enough ; thou must take heed 
unto thy doctrine what it is. 

Here is a warrant for studying what we are to 
teach, and what we have taught people. But the 
great matter is to take heed, or study aright. Stu- 
dents commonly need little direction about ordinary 
study. But concerning the doctrine, I shall entreat 
to take heed unto it in these things : — 


1. Take heed unto thy doctrine, that it be a divine 
truth : " Let a man speak as the oracles of God," 
(1 Pet. iv. 11). And therefore it is needful that mi- 
nisters be well acquainted with the holy scriptures. 
It is a bad token of the temper of that man that re- 
lishes any book more than thewordof God. Theworld 
is full of books written on pretence and design to ex- 
plain the scriptures ; and men's studies are full of 
them. There is also a blessing in them, and good 
use to be made of them ; but also a bad use is made 
of them. Many ministers have found, that they have 
preached better, and to more profit to the people, 
when they got their sermon by meditation on the 
word, and prayer, than by turning over many au- 
thors. From this neglect of the word also come a 
great many doctrines, that are learned by man, and 
borrowed from philosophy ; which though they may 
have some truth in them, yet since it is divine truth 
that a minister should bring forth to the people, he 
should not rest on such low things. 

2. Take heed unto thy doctrine, that it be plain, 
and suited to the capacity of the hearers. Learned 
preaching (as it is called) is a vanity, pleasing prin- 
cipally to such as neither design nor desire edifica- 
tion. True godly learning consists in preaching 
plainly, and therein is no small difiiculty. Two 
things would help to plain preaching. 1. Clearness 
of knowledge. The alleged depth of our doctrine 
often proceeds from our own darkness. 2. Humility 
and self-denial. We must not seek ourselves, nor 
the applause of men, but God's glory and men's sal- 
vation. It is found that the holiest ministers preach 
most plainly, and the plainest preachers are most 


3. Take heed unto thy doctrine, that it be grave, 
and solid, and weighty ; " sound speech that cannot 
be condemned," (Tit. ii. 8). Deep and weighty im- 
pressions of the things of God upon a man's own 
heart would greatly advance this. A minister's spi- 
rit is known in the gravity or lightness of his doc- 

II. But now we come to the second thing pro- 
posed, to give some answer to this question from 
other things in the word. 

And I shall, 1. Shew some things that must be 
laid to heart about the end, the saving of souls ; and 
then, 2. Shall give some advice about the means. 

1. About the end, the winning of souls. This is 
to bring them to God. It is not to win them to 
us, or to engage them into a party, or to the espou- 
sal of some opinions and practices, supposing them 
to be never so right, and consonant to the word of 
God. But the winning of them is, to bring them 
out of nature into a state of grace, that they may be 
fitted for, and in due time admitted into everlasting 

Concerning which great end, these few things 
should be laid deeply to heart by all that would 
serve the Lord in being instrumental in preaching it. 

1st, The exceeding height and excellency of this 
end is to be laid to heart. It is a wonder of conde- 
scendence, that the Lord will make use of men in 
promoting it. To be workers together with God in 
so great a business is no small honour. The great 
value of men's souls, the greatness of the misery they 
are delivered from, and of the happiness they are 
advanced to, with the manifold glory of God shining 


in all, makes the work of saving men great and ex- 
cellent. Preaching- the gospel, and suffering for it, 
are services that angels are not employed in. Mean 
and low thoughts of the great end of the ministry, 
as they are dissonant from truth, are also great 
hindrances of due endeavours after the attaining 
the end. 

2dly, The great difficulty of saving souls must be 
laid to heart. The difficulty is undoubted. To at- 
tempt it, is to offer violence to men's corrupt natures, 
and a storming of hell itself, whose captives all sin- 
ners are. Unless this difficulty be laid to heart, mi- 
nisters will be confident of their own strength, and 
so miscarry, and be unfruitful. Whoever prospers 
in winning souls, is first convinced that it is the arm 
of Jehovah only can do the work. 

3dly, The duty of winning souls must be laid to 
heart by ministers. That is their principal work, 
and they are under many commands to endeavour it. 
It is a fault to look on fruit only as a reward of en- 
deavours ; so it is indeed, and a gracious one : but it 
should be so minded as the end we would strive for, 
(Col. i. 28, 29) ; which, when attained, is still to his 
praise ; yet most commonly when it is missing, it is to 
our reproach and danger, when it is (as, alas ! it is 
often) through our default. 

4thly, The great advantage there is to the labourer 
by his success, is to be pondered. Great is the gain 
by one soul. " He that winneth souls," is happy as 
well as " wise," (Prov. xi. 30, Dan. xii. 3). Won 
souls are a minister's " crown," and " glory," and 
" joy," (Phil. iv. 1, 1 Thess. ii. 20). How far is this 
account above all others that a man can o:ive of his 
ministry ? These things fixed upon the heart would 



enliven us in all endeavours to attain this excellent 

2. For advice about the means, I shall add these 
few, besides what hath been said. 

1st, Let ministers, if they would win vsouls, procure 
and retain amongst the people a persuasion of their 
being sent of God ; that they are " Christ's minis- 
ters," (1 Cor. iv. 1). It is not confident asserting of 
it, nor justifying the lawfulness of our ecclesiastical 
calling, though there be some use of these things at 
some times : but it is ability, painfulness, faithful- 
ness, humility, and self-denial, and, in a word, con- 
formity to our Lord Jesus in his ministry, that will 
constrain people to say and think that we are sent 
of God. Nicodemus comes with this impression of 
Christ, " A teacher come from God," (John iii. 2). 
It is certain that these thoughts in people further 
the reception of the gospel : " Ye received me as an 
angel of God, even as Christ Jesus," (Gal. iv. 14). 

2dly, Let ministers, if they would win souls, pur- 
chase and maintain the people's love to their persons. 
And this is best done by loving of them, and dealing 
lovingly and patiently with them. There should be 
no striving with them, especially about worldly things; 
yea, " meekness to them that oppose themselves," 
(2 Tim. ii. 24, 25, 26). It is of great advantage to 
have their love. How carefully doth Paul sue for it 
in several epistles, and condescend to entreat and 
make apologies, when indeed he had not wronged 
them, but they only did imagine he had wronged 
them ! (2 Cor. xi.) 

3dly, It would further the winning of souls to deal 
particularly and personally with them, — not always 
nor altogether in public (Col. i. 28, Acts xx. 20, 21). 


Great fruit hatli constantly followed the conscien- 
tious discharge of this duty. The setting of it up in 
Geneva did produce incredible fruits of piety, as Cal- 
vin reports, -when the ministers, and some of the 
elders, went from house to house, and dealt particu- 
larly with the people's consciences. And we are not 
without many instances of the fruit of this mean in 
our own time, and in these nations. Blessed be the 
Lord for the labourers, and their success. 

4thly, Ministers must pray much if they would be 
successful. The apostles spent their time this way, 
(Acts vi. 3). Yea, our Lord Jesus preached all day, 
and continued all night alone in prayer to God. 
Ministers should be much in prayer. They use to 
reckon how many hours they spend in reading and 
study ; it were far better both with ourselves and the 
church of God, if more time were spent in prayer. 
Luther's spending three hours daily in secret prayer. 
Bradford's studying on his knees, and other instances 
of men in our time, are talked of rather than imi- 
tated. Ministers should pray much for themselves, 
for they have corruptions like other men, and have 
temptations that none but ministers are assaulted 
with. They should pray for their message. How 
sweet and easy is it for a minister (and likely it is to 
be the more profitable to the people) to bring forth 
that scripture as food to the souls of his people, that 
he hath got opened to his own heart by the power of 
the Holy Ghost, in the exercise of faith and love to 
prayer ! A minister should pray for a blessing on the 
word ; and he should be much in seeking God, par- 
ticularly for the people. It may be this may be the 
reason why some ministers of meaner gifts and parts 
are more successful than some that are far above 


them in abilities ; not because they preach better, so 
much as because they pray more. Many good ser- 
mons are lost for lack of much prayer in study. 

But because the ministry of the word is the main 
instrument for winning souls, I shall therefore add 
somewhat more particularly concerning this, and 
that both as to the matter and manner of preaching. 

1. For the subject-matter of gospel-preaching, it 
is determined by the apostle expressly to be " Christ 
crucified," (1 Cor. ii. 2). Two things ministers have 
to do about him in preaching him to them that are 
without. 1. To set him forth to people (Gal. iii. 1) ; 
to paint him in his love, excellency, and ability to 
save. 2. To offer him unto them freely, fully, with- 
out any limitation as to sinners, or their sinful state. 
And then Christ's laws or will to be published to 
them that receive him, and are his, for the rule of 
their walk ; and his promises, for the measure and 
foundation of all their hopes and expectations ; and 
his grace and fulness, for their supply in every case, 
till they be brought to heaven. This was the sim- 
plicity of the gospel that remained but a little while 
in the Christian church ; for ceremonies amongst the 
Jews, and sinful mixtures of vain philosophy amongst 
the Gentiles (Col. ii.), did by degrees so corrupt the 
gospel, that the mystery of iniquity ripened in the 
production of antichrist. It was a sad observation 
of the fourth century, that it became a matter of 
learning and ingenuity to be a Christian. The mean- 
ing was, — that too much weight was laid on notions 
and matters of opinion, and less regard had unto the 
soundness of the heart and holiness of the life. In the 
beginning of the reformation from Popery, the wor- 
thies whom God raised up in several countries did 


excellently in retrieving the simplicity of the gospel 
from the Popish mixtures. But that good work 
took a stand quickly, and is on the declining greatly. 
How little of Jesus Christ is there in some pulpits I 
It is seen as to success, that whatever the law doth 
in alarming sinners, it is still the gospel-voice that 
is the key that opens the heart to Jesus Christ. 
Would ministers win souls 1 Let them have more of 
Jesus Christ in their dealing with men, and less of 
other things that never profit them that are exer- 
cised therein. 

2. As for the manner of successful preaching, I 
shall give it in a negative and positive, from these 
two places : 1 Cor. i. 17, and ii. 1-4. 

Fwsf, What this negative disowns is our inquiry. 
The words are full : '• For Christ sent me not to 
baptize, but to preach the gospel : not with wisdom 
of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of 
none effect." Again, " I came not to you with ex- 
cellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you 
the testimony of God." Again, " And my speech, 
and my preaching, was not with enticing words of 
man's wisdom." These are the words of the Holy 
Ghost concerning a way of preaching that is unpro- 
fitable, — a way that it seems was in use and respect 
with the Corinthians ; and honest Paul was despised 
by them, for his simple and plain way, different from 
theirs. I shall only instance in things that this scrip- 
tural negative doth check and reprove in the way 
of preaching. 

1. The establishing and advancing of divine truth 
upon the foundation of human reason, as if there 
were some weakness and insufficiency in those me- 
thods and arguments of working on men's consciences 


that the Holy Ghost prescribes. The great founda- 
tion of all a minister hath to say is, " Thus saith the 
Lord ;" and a grave declaring of the testimony of 
God in this matter is ministers' duty (1 Cor. ii. 1), 
and will have more authority on men's consciences 
than many human reasons. There is a rational 
preaching (as it is called), wherein men do not satisfy 
themselves to make use of reason as a tool and in- 
strument (and then its use is excellent), but will es- 
tablish it as a judge and dictator in all divine mat- 
ters and truth, and so in effect turn all their preach- 
ing into little better things than the lectures of the 
philosophers of old, save that the poor Pagans were 
more sincere in their morals, and serious in deliver- 
ing their opinions. 

Let a minister, therefore, still think with himself, 
that a plain scripture-testimony is his main argu- 
ment, and accordingly let him use it. When he 
teacheth philosophy, and when he teacheth men the 
will of God about salvation, he is in distinct pro- 
vinces, and his management of his work therein 
should be very different. 

2. It is to preach with " excellency of speech," and 
" words of man's wisdom," when men think to reach 
the gospel end on sinners by force of even spiritual 
reason and persuasion. This corrupt thought riseth 
in some, from an imagination that moral suasion is 
all that is needful for converting a sinner ; and in 
some this thought rises on a better account: the 
light of the glory of God in the gospel shines so 
brightly in upon their own hearts, that they fall into 
this conceit, that no man can stand before that light 
which they can hold forth : Melancthon's mistake at 
first, till experience made him wiser. Hast thou a 


clear knowledge of gospel-mysteries, and the word of 
exhortation is with thee also, so that thou art quali- 
fied to urge, beseech, and plead warmly with sinners 
on Christ's behalf? Take heed of this snare, lest 
thou think that thy wisdom and gifts can promote 
and carry on the gospel-design on men. 

3. This also is checked in the apostle's words, the 
setting forth the beauty of the gospel by human art. 
The truth of the gospel shines best in its bare pro- 
posal, and its beauty in its simple and naked disco- 
very. We may observe from the church-history, 
that still as soundness of doctrine, and the power of 
godliness, decayed in the church, the vanity of an 
affected way of speaking and of writing of divine 
things came in. Quotations from the Fathers, Latin, 
and languages, are pitiful ornaments unto preaching, 
if a man design conversion and soul-edification. And 
yet more despicable are all playing on words, jing- 
lings, and cadences (which things are in all the rules 
of true eloquence justly exploded) ; and yet some men 
reckon much on them. But would any man think 
his friend in earnest with him, that would accost him 
in any affair with such sort of language and gesture ? 
Secondly, The positive is " in demonstration of 
the Spirit, and of power," (1 Cor. ii. 5). 

1. Paul preached so as gave a demonstration 
that the Holy Ghost was in him, sanctifying him. 
This is a plain and blessed thing. Happy is the 
minister that manageth his work so, that if the 
hearers get not a demonstration of great parts and 
learning, yet they have a demonstration of the sanc- 
tifying Spirit of God in the minister. 

2. Paul preached so as gave a demonstration that 
the Spirit of God was with him, assisting and help- 


ing him in his work ; even when he was amongst 
them " in much weakness, fear, and trembling," (ver. 
3). Happy is the minister that can preach this way. 
He must be a depender upon assistance from the 
Holy Ghost. 

3. Paul preached so as a demonstration of the 
power of the Holy Ghost was given to the hearts of 
the hearers. The Spirit of God so wrought on them 
by his power in and by Paul's preaching, " Commend- 
ing ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight 
of God ;" (2 Cor. iv. 2). This is the principal thing 
to be aimed at, and it is the proper source of all 
profitable preaching. 

III. To conclude : You that are ministers, suffer 
a word of exhortation. 

Men, brethren, and fathers, you are called to an 
high and holy calling. Your work is full of danger, 
full of duty, and full of mercy. You are called to 
the winning of souls ; an employment near a-kin unto 
our Lord's work, the saving of souls ; and the nearer 
your spirits be in conformity to his holy temper and 
frame, the fitter you are for, and the more fruitful 
you shall be in your work. None of you are igno- 
rant of the begun departure of our glory, and the 
daily advance of its departure, and the sad appear- 
ances of the Lord's being about to leave us utterly. 
Should not these signs of the times rouse up ministers 
unto irreater seriousness ? What can be the reason 
of this sad observation. That when formerly a few 
lights raised up in the nation, did shine so as to 
scatter and dispel the darkness of Popery in a little 
time ; yet now when there are more, and more 
learned men amon£>'st us, the darkness comes on 


apace ? Is it not because tliey \7ere men " filled 
with the Holy Ghost, and with power;" and many 
of us are only filled with light and knowledge, and 
inefficacious notions of God's truth ? Doth not al- 
ways the spirit of the ministers propagate itself 
amongst the people 1 A lively ministry, and lively 
Christians. Therefore be serious at heart ; believe, 
and so speak; feel, and so speak ; and as you teach, 
so do ; and then people will feel what you say, and 
obey the word of God. 

And, lastly, for people : It is not unfit that you 
should hear of minister's work, and duty, and diffi- 
culties. You see that all is of your concernment. 
" All things are for your sakes," as the apostle saith 
in another case. 

Then only I entreat you, 

1. Pity us. We are not angels, but men of like 
passions with yourselves. Be fuller of charity than 
of censure. We have all that you have to do about 
the saving of our own souls : and a great work be- 
sides about the saving of yours. We have all your 
difficulties as Christians ; and some that you are not 
acquainted with, that are only ministers' tempta- 
tions and trials. 

2. Help us in our work. If you can do any thing, 
help us in the work of winning souls. What can v/e 
do, say you ? Oh ! a great deal. Be but won to 
Christ, and we are made. Make haste to heaven, 
that you and we may meet joyfully before the throne 
of God and the Lamb. 

3. Pray for us. How often and how earnestly 
doth Paul beg the prayers of the churches ! And if 
he did so, m.uch more should we beg them, and you 


grant them ; for our necessities and weaknesses are 
greater than his. *' Finally, brethren, pray for us, 
that the word of the Lord may have free course, and 
be glorified, even as it is with you : and that we may 
be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men ; for 
all men have not faith." (2 Thess. iii. 1, 2). 






YOUR earnest desire of information about some 
difference amongst Nonconformists in London, 
■whereof you hear so much by flying reports, and pro- 
fess you know so little of the truth thereof, is the 
cause of this writing. 

You know, that not many months ago there was 
fair-like appearance of unity betwixt the two most 
considerable parties on that side ; and their differ- 
ences having been rather in practice than principle, 
about church-order and communion, seemed easily 
reconcileable, where a spirit of love, and of a sound 
mind, was at work. But how short was the calm ! 
For quickly arose a greater storm from another 
quarter; and a quarrel began upon higher points, 
even on no less than the doctrine of the grace of God 
in Jesus Christ, and the justification of a sinner by 
faith alone. Some think, that the re-printing of Dr 
Crisp's book gave the first rise to it. But we must 
look farther back for its true spring. It is well 
known, but little considered, what a great progress 
Arminianism had made in this nation before the be- 
ginning of the civil war. And surely it hath lost 


little since it ended. What can be the reason why the 
very parliaments in the reign of James I. and Charles 
I. were so alarmed with Arminianism, as maybe read 
in history, and is remembered by old men ; and that 
now for a long time there hath been no talk, no fear 
of it ; as if Arminianism were dead and buried, and 
no man knows where its grave is 1 Is not the true 
reason to be found in its universal prevailing in the 
nation ? 

But that which conccrneth our case, is, that the 
middle way betwixt the Arminians and the Orthodox, 
had been espoused, and strenuously defended and 
promoted by some Nonconformists, of great note for 
piety and parts ; and usually such men that are for 
middle ways in points of doctrine, have a greater 
kindness for that extreme they go half-way to, than 
for that which they go half-way from. And the 
notions thereof were imbibed by a great many stu- 
dents, who laboured (through the iniquity of the 
times) under the great disadvantage of the want of 
grave and sound divines, to direct and assist their 
studies at universities ; and therefore contented them- 
selves with studying such English authors as had 
gone in a path untrod, both by our predecessors, and 
by the Protestant universities abroad. 

These notions have been preached, and wrote 
against, by several divines amongst themselves ; and 
the different opinions have been, till of late, managed 
with some moderation ; to which our being all borne 
down by persecution, did somewhat contribute. 

It is a sad, but true observation, that no conten- 
tions are more easily kindled, more fiercely pursued, 
and more hardly composed, than those of divines; 
sometimes from their zeal for truth, and sometimes 


from worse principles, that may act in them, as well 
as in other men. 

The subject of the controversy is, about the justi- 
fying grace of God in Jesus Christ. Owned it is by 
both ; and both fear it be abused : either by turning 
it into wantonness, — hence the noise of Antinomian- 
ism ; or by corrupting it with the mixture of works, — 
hence the fears, on the other side, of Armanianism. 
Both parties disown the name cast upon them. The 
one will not be called Arminians : and the other hate 
both name and thing of Antinomianism truly so 
called. Both sometimes say the same thing, and 
profess their assent to the doctrinal articles of the 
Church of England, to the Confession of Faith and 
Catechisms composed at Westminster, and to the 
Harmony of the Confessions of all the reformed 
churches, in these doctrines of grace. And, if both 
be candid in this profession, it is very strange that 
there should be any controversy amongst them. 

Let us therefore, first, take a view of the parties, 
and then of their principles. As to the party sus- 
pected of Antinomianism and Libertinism in this 
city, it is plain, that the churches wherein they are 
concerned, are more strict and exact in trying of 
them that offer themselves unto their communion, 
as to their faith and holiness, before their admitting 
them ; in the engagements laid on them to a gospel- 
walking at their admission, and in their inspec- 
tion over them afterwards. As to their conver- 
sations, they are generally of the more regular and 
exact frame ; and the fruits of holiness in their lives, 
to the praise of God, and honour of the gospel, can- 
not with modesty be denied. Is it not unaccountable, 
to charge a people with licentiousness, when the 


chargers cannot deny, and some cannot well bear the 
strictness of their walk ? It is commonly said, that 
it is only their principles, and the tendency of them 
to loose walking, that they blame. But, waving that 
at present, it seems not fair to charge a people with 
licentious doctrines, when the professors thereof are 
approved of for their godliness; and when they 
do sincerely profess, that their godliness began with, 
and is promoted by the faith of their principles. 
Let it not be mistaken, if I here make a comparison 
betwixt Papists and Protestants. The latter did 
always profess the doctrine of justification by faith 
alone. This was blasphemy in the Papist's ears. 
They still did, and do cry out against it, as a licen- 
tious doctrine, and destructive of good works. Many 
sufficient answers have been given unto this unjust 
charge. But to my purpose : The wonder was, that 
the Papists were not convinced by the splendid holi- 
ness of the old believers, and by the visible truth of 
their holy practice ; and their professing, that as long 
as they lived in the blindness and darkness of popery, 
they were profane ; and that as soon as God revealed 
the gospel to them, and had wrought in them the 
faith thereof, they were sanctified, and led other lives. 
So witnessed the noble Lord Cobham, who suffered 
in King Henry V.'s time, above an hundred years be- 
fore Luther. His words at his examination before 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, and his clergy, were 
these : " As for that virtuous man, Wickliff, (for 
with his doctrine he was charged), whose judgment 
ye so highly disdain ; I shall say of my part, both 
before God and man, that before I knew that despised 
doctrine of his, I never abstained from sin ; but since 
I learned therein to fear my Lord God, it hath other- 


wise, I trust, been with me. So much grace could I 
never find in all your glorious instructions." (Fox's 
Book of Martyrs, vol. i. p. 640, col. 2. edit. 1664). 
And since I am on that excellent book, I entreat you 
to read Mr Patrick Hamilton's little treatise, to 
which Frith doth preface, and Fox doth add some 
explication (vol. ii. p. 181-192), where ye will find 
the old plain Protestant truth about law and gospel, 
delivered without any school-terms. To this, add, 
in your reading, in the same volume (p. 497-509. 
" Heresies and errors falsely charged on Tindal's writ- 
ings"), where we will see the old faith of the saints in 
its simplicity, and the old craft and cunning of the 
Anti-christian party, in slandering the truth. I must, 
for my part, confess, that these plain declarations of 
gospel-truth have a quite other favour with me, than 
the dry insipid accounts thereof given by pretenders 
to human wisdom. 

But passing these things, let us look to principles, 
and that with respect to their native and regular in- 
fluence on sanctification. And I am willing that that 
should determine the matter, next to the consonancy 
of the principles themselves to the word of God. It 
can be no doctrine of God, that is not according to 
godliness. Some think, that if good works, and 
holiness, and repentance, be allowed no room in jus- 
tification, that there is no room left for them in the 
world, and in the practice of believers. So hard 
seems it to be to some, to keep in their eye the cer- 
tain fixed bounds betwixt justification and sanctifica- 
tion. There is no diff'erence betwixt a justified and a 
sanctified man ; for he is always the same person 
that partakes of these privileges. But justification 


and sanctification differ greatly, in many respects ; as 
is commonly known. But to come a little closer : 

The party here suspected of Antinomianism, do 
confidently protest, before God, angels, and men. 
That they espouse no new doctrine about the grace 
of God and justification, and the other coincident 
points, but what the reformers at home and abroad 
did teach, and all the Protestant churches do own. 
And that in sum is : " That a law-condemned sin- 
ner is freely justified by God's grace, through the 
redemption that is in Jesus Christ ; that he is justi- 
fied only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to 
him by God of his free grace, and received by faith 
alone as an instrument ; which faith is the gift of the 
same grace." For guarding against licentiousness, 
they constantly teach, out of God's word, " That 
without holiness no man can see God : That all that 
believe truly on Jesus Christ, as they are justified by 
the sprinkling of his blood, so are they sanctified by 
the effusion of his Spirit : that all that boast of their 
faith in Christ, and yet live after their own lusts, and 
the course of this world, have no true faith at all : 
but do, in their profession, and contradicting prac- 
tice, blaspheme the name of God, and the doctrine 
of his grace ; and continuing so, shall perish with a 
double destruction, beyond that of the openly pro- 
fane, that make no profession." And when they find 
any such in their communion, which is exceeding 
rarely, they cast them out as dead branches. They 
teach, " That as the daily study of sanctification is a 
necessary exercise to all that are in Christ ; so the 
rule of their direction therein, is the holy spotless 
law of God in Christ's hand : That the Holy Ghost 


is the beginner and advancer of this work, and faith 
in Jesus Christ the great mean thereof : That no 
man can be holy till he be in Christ, and united to 
him by faith ; and that no man is truly in Christ, 
but he is thereby sanctified. They preach the law, 
to condemn all flesh out of Christ, and to shew there- 
by to people the necessity of betaking themselves to 
him for salvation." See the savoury words of blessed 
Tindal, called the apostle of England, in his letter to 
John Frith, written Jan. 1533, (Book of Martyrs, 
vol. ii. p. 308). " Expound the law truly, and open 
the veil of Moses, to condemn all flesh, and prove all 
men sinners, and all deeds under the law, before 
mercy have taken away the condemnation thereof, 
to be sin, and damnable ; and then as a faithful mi- 
nister, set abroach the mercy of our Lord Jesus, and 
let the wounded consciences drink of the water of 
him. And then shall your preaching be with power, 
and not as the hypocrites. And the Spirit of God 
shall work with you ; and all consciences shall bear 
record unto you, and feel that it is so. And all doc- 
trine that casteth a mist on these two, to shadow and 
hide them, I mean the law of God, and mercy of 
Christ, that resist you with all your power." And 
so do we. 

What is there in all this to be offended with 1 Is 
not this enough to vindicate our doctrine from any 
tendency to licentiousness 1 I am afraid that there 
are some things wherein we differ more than they 
think fit yet to express. And I shall guess at them. 

1. The first is about the imputed righteousness of 
Christ. This righteousness of Christ, in his active 
and passive obedience, hath been asserted by Protes- 
tant divines, to be not only the procuring and meri- 



torious cause of our justification ; for this tlie Papists 
own ; but the matter ; as the imputation of it is the 
form of our justification : though I think that our 
logical terms are not so adapted for such divine mys- 
teries. But whatever propriety or impropriety be in 
such school terms, the common Protestant doctrine 
hath been, that a convinced sinner seeking justifica- 
tion, must have nothing in his eye but this righteous- 
ness of Christ, as God proposeth nothing else to him ; 
and that God in justifying a sinner, accepts him in 
this righteousness only, when he imputes it to him. 

Now, about the imputed righteousness of Christ 
some say, " That it belongs only to the person of 
Christ : he was under the law, and bound to keep it 
for himself ; that he might be a fit Mediator, with- 
out spot or blemish. That it is a qualification in the 
Mediator, rather than a benefit acquired by him, to 
be communicated to his people." For they will not 
allow " this personal righteousness of Christ to be 
imputed to us any otherwise than in the merit of it, 
as purchasing for us a more easy law of grace ; in 
the observation whereof they place all our justifying 
righteousness:" understanding hereby " our own 
personal inherent holiness, and nothing else." They 
hold, " That Christ died to merit this of the Father, 
to-wit that we might be justified upon easier terms 
under the gospel, than those of the law of innocency. 
Instead of justification by perfect obedience, we are 
now to be justified by our own evangelical righteous- 
ness, made up of faith, repentance, and sincere obe- 
dience." And if we hold not wi^h them in this, they 
tell the world we are enemies to evangelical holiness, 
slighting the practice of all good works, and allowing 
our hearers to live as they list. Thus they slander 


the preachers of free grace, because we do not place 
justification in our own inherent holiness ; but in 
Christ's perfect righteousness, imputed to us upon 
our believing in him. Which faith, we teach, puri- 
fies the heart, and always inclines to holiness of life. 
Neither do we hold any faith to be true and saving, 
that doth not shew itself by good works; without 
which no man iSj or can be justified, either in his 
own conscience, or before men. But it doth not 
hence follow that we cannot be justified in the sight 
of God by faith only, as the apostle Paul asserts the 
latter, and the apostle James the former, in a good 

2. There appears to be some difi*erence, or misun- 
derstanding of one another, about the true notion 
and nature of justifying faith. Divines commonly 
distinguish betwixt the direct act of faith, and the 
reflex act. The direct act is properly justifying and 
saving faith ; by which a lost sinner comes to Christ, 
and relies upon him for salvation. The reflex act is 
the looking back of the soul upon a former act of 
faith. A rational creature can reflect upon his own 
acts, whether they be acts of reason, faith, or unbelief. 

A direct act of saving faith, is that by which a lost 
sinner goes out of himself to Christ for help, relying 
upon him only for salvation. A reflex act ariseth 
from the sense that faith gives of its own inward act, 
upon a serious review. The truth and sincerity of 
which is further cleared up to the conscience, by the 
genuine fruits of an unfeigned faith, appearing to all 
men in our good lives, and holy conversation. But 
for as plain as these things be, yet we find we are fre- 
quently mistaken by others : and we wonder at the 
mistake ; for we dare not ascribe to some learned and 


good men, the principles of ignorance, or wilfulness, 
from whence mistakes in plain cases usually proceed. 
When we do press sinners to come to Christ by a 
direct act of faith, consisting in an humble reliance 
upon Him for mercy and pardon ; they will under- 
stand us, whether we will or not, of a reflex act of 
faith, by which a man knows and believes, that his 
sins are pardoned, and that Christ is his : when they 
might easily know that we mean no such thing. Mr 
Walter Marshall, in his excellent book, lately pub- 
lished, hath largely opened this, and the true con- 
troversy of this day, though it be eight or nine years 
since he died. 

3. We seem to differ about the interest, and room, 
and place, that faith hath in justification. That we 
are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, is so plainly a 
New Testament truth, that no man pretending never 
so barely to the Christian name, denies it. The 
Papists own it; and the Socinians, and Arminians, 
and all, own it. But how different are their senses of 
it ! And indeed you cannot more speedily and cer- 
tainly judge of the spirit of a man, than by his real 
inward sense of this phrase, (if you could reach it), 
A sinner is justified by faith in Jesus Christ. Some 
say, That faith in Jesus Christ justifies as it is a work, 
by the rh credere ; as if it came in the room of per- 
fect obedience, required by the law. Some, that 
faith justifies, as it is informed and animated by cha- 
rity. So the Papists, who plainly confound justifica- 
tion and sanctification. Some say that faith justifies, 
as it is a fulfilling of the condition of the new cove- 
nant, " If thou believest, thou shalt be saved." Nay, 
they will not hold there; but they will have this 
faith to justify, as it hath a principle and fitness in it 


to dispose to sincere obedience. The plain old Pro- 
testant doctrine is, That the place of faith in justifi- 
cation is only that of a hand or instrument, receiving 
the righteousness of Christ, for which only we are 
justified. So that though great scholars do often 
confound themselves and others, in their disputations 
about faith's justifying a sinner ; every poor plain be- 
liever hath the marrow of this mystery feeding his 
heart ; and he can readily tell you, That to be jus- 
tified by faith, is to be justified by Christ's righteous- 
ness, apprehended by faith. 

4. We seem to misunderstand one another about 
the two Adams, and especially the latter. (See Horn. 
V. 12. to the end.) In that excellent scripture a com- 
parison is instituted, which if we did duly understand, 
and agree in, we should not readily difi'er in the main 
things of the gospel. The apostle there tell us, that 
the first Adam stood in the room of all his natural 
posterity. He had their stock in his hand. While he 
stood they stood in him ; when he fell, they fell with 
him. By his fall he derived sin and death to all them 
that spring from him by natural generation. This is 
the sad side. But he tells us in opposition thereto, and 
in comparing therewith, that Christ, the second man, 
is the new head of the redeemed world. He stands in 
their room : his obedience is theirs ; and he communi- 
cates to his spiritual ofi'spring, the just contrary to 
what the first sinful Adam doth to his natural ofi*- 
spring ; righteousness instead of guilt and sin, life in- 
stead of death, justification instead of condemnation, 
and eternal life instead of hell deserved. So thatlthink 
the 3d, 4th, and 5th chapters of the epistle to the 
Romans, for the mystery of justification ; and the 
6th, 7th, and 8th, for the mystery of sanctification 


deserve our deep study. But what say others about 
Christ's being the second Adam "? We find them un- 
willing to speak of it ; and when they do, it is quite 
alien from the scope of the apoStle in that chapter. 
Thus to us they seem to say, " That God as a rector, 
ruler, governor, hath resolved to save men by Jesus 
Christ : That the rule of this government is the 
gospel, as a new law of grace : That Jesus Christ is 
set at the head of this rectoral government : That 
in that state he sits in glory, ready and able, out of 
his purchase and merits, to give justification and 
eternal life to all that can bring good evidence of 
their having complied with the terms and conditions 
of the law of grace." Thus they antedate the last 
day, and hold forth Christ as a Judge, rather than a 
Saviour. Luther was wont to warn people of this 
distinction frequently, in his comment on the epistle 
to the Galatians. And no other headship to Christ 
do we find some willing to admit, but what belongs 
to his kingly ofiice. As for his suretiship, and being 
the second Adam, and a public person, some treat it 
with contempt. I have heard that Dr Thomas 
Goodwin was in his youth an Arminian, or at least 
inclining that way ; but was by the Lord's grace 
brought off", by Dr Sibbs clearing up to him this 
same point, of Christ's being the head and represen- 
tative of all his people. Now, though we maintain 
stedfastly this headship of Jesus Christ, yet we say 
not, that there is an actual partaking of his fulness 
of grace, till we be in him by faith ; though this 
faith is also given us on Christ's behalf, (Phil. i. 29), 
and we believe through grace, (Acts xviii. 27). And 
we know no grace, we can call nothing grace, we care 
for no grace, but what comes from this head, the Sa. 


viour of the body. But so much shall serve to point 
fortli the main things of difference and mistakes. 

Is it not a little provoking that some are so cap- 
tious that no minister can preach in the hearing of 
some, " of the freedom of God's grace ; of the impu- 
tation of Christ's righteousness ; of sole and single 
believing on him for righteousness and eternal life ; 
of the impossibility of a natural man's doing any 
good work before he be in Christ ; of the impossibi- 
lity of the mixing of man's righteousness and works 
with Christ's righteousness in the business of justifi- 
cation, and several other points," but he is imme- 
diately called or suspected to be an Antinomian ^ If 
we say that faith in Jesus Christ is neither work, nor 
condition, nor qualification, in justification, but is a 
mere instrument, receiving (as an empty hand re- 
ceiveth the freely given alms) the righteousness of 
Christ ; and that, in its very act, it is a renouncing 
of all things but the gift of grace : the fire is kin- 
dled. So that it is come to that, as Mr Christopher 
Fowler said, " that he that will not be Antichris- 
tian must be called an Antinomian." Is there a 
minister in London who did not preach, some twenty, 
some thirty years ago, according to their standing, 
that same doctrine now by some called Antinomian ? 
Let not Dr Crisp's book be looked upon as the stand- 
ard of our doctrine. There are many good things 
in it, and also many expressions in it that we gene- 
rally dislike. It is true that Mr Burgess and Mr 
Rutherford wrote against Antinomianism, and against 
some that were both Antinomians and Arminians. 
And it is no less true that they wrote against the 
Arminians, and did hate the new scheme of divinity, 
so much now contended for, and to which we owe all 


our present contentions. I am persuaded, that if 
these godly and sound divines "were on the present 
stage, they would be as ready to draw their pens 
against two books lately printed against Dr Crisp, as 
ever they were ready to write against the doctor's 
book. Truth is to be defended by truth ; but error 
is often and unhappily opposed by error under truth's 

But what shall we do in this case ? What shall we 
do for peace with our brethren ? Shall we lie still 
under their undeserved reproaches, and, for keeping 
the peace, silently suffer others to beat us unjustly ? 
If it were our own personal concern, we should bear 
it : if it were only their charging us with ignorance, 
weakness, and being unstudied divines (as they have 
used liberally to call all that have not learned, and 
dare not believe their new divinity), we might easily 
pass it by, or put it up. But when we see the pure 
gospel of Christ corrupted, and an Arminian gospel 
new vampt, and obtruded on people, to the certain 
peril of the souls of such as believe it, and our minis- 
try reflected upon, which should be dearer to us than 
our lives, can we be silent 1 As we have a charge 
from the Lord, to deliver to our people what we have 
received from him, so, as he calls and enables, we 
are not to give place by subjection, not for an hour, 
to such as creep in, not only to spy out, but to de- 
stroy, not so much the gospel-liberty as the gospel- 
salvation we have in Christ Jesus, and to bring us 
back under the yoke of legal bondage. And indeed 
the case in that epistle to the Galatians and ours has 
a great affinity. 

Is it desired that we should forbear to make a free 
offer of God's grace in Christ to the worst of sinners ? 


This cannot be granted by us, for this is the gospel 
" faithful saying, and -worthy of all acceptation" (and 
therefore worthy of all our preaching of it), " that 
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and 
the chief of them," (1 Tim. i. 15). This was the 
apostolic practice, according to their Lord's com- 
mand (Mark xvi. 15, 16 ; Luke xxiv. 47). They be- 
gan at Jerusalem, where the Lord of life was wick- 
edly slain by them ; and yet life in and through his 
blood was offered to, and accepted and obtained by, 
many of them. Every believer's experience witness- 
eth to this, that every one that believes on Jesus 
Christ acts that faith as the chief of sinners. Every 
man that seeth himself rightly thinks so of himself, 
and therein thinks not amiss. God only knoweth 
who is truly the greatest sinner, and every humbled 
sinner will think that he is the man. 

Shall we tell men, that unless they be holy, they 
must not believe on Jesus Christ? that they must 
not venture on Christ for salvation till they be qua- 
lified and fit to be received and welcomed by him ? 
This were to forbear preaching the gospel at all, or 
to forbid all men to believe on Christ. For never 
was any sinner qualified for Christ. He is well qua- 
lified for us (1 Cor. i. 30) ; but a sinner out of Christ 
hath no qualification for Christ but sin and misery. 
Whence should we have any better, but in and from 
Christ 1 Nay, suppose an impossibility, that a man 
were qualified for Christ, I boldly assert that such a 
man would not, nor could ever believe on Christ, — for 
faith is a lost, helpless, condemned sinner's casting 
himself on Christ for salvation, and the qualified 
man is no such person. 

Shall we warn people that they should not believe 


on Christ too soon 'i It is impossible that they should 
do it too soon. Can a man obey the great gospel- 
command too soon ? (1 John iii. 23), or do the great 
work of God too soon"? (John vi. 28, 29). A man 
may too soon think that he is in Christ, and that is 
when it is not so indeed ; and this we frequently 
teach. But this is but an idle dream, and not faith. 
A man may too soon fancy that he hath faith ; but 
I hope he cannot act faith too soon. If any should 
say, a man may be holy too soon, how would that 
saying be reflected upon 1 And yet it is certain that 
though no man can be too soon holy (because he 
cannot too soon believe on Christ, which is the only 
spring of true holiness), yet he may, and many do, 
set about the study of that he counts holiness too 
soon ; that is, before " the tree be changed," (Matt, 
xii. 33, 34, 35) ; before he have " the new heart," 
(Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27), and the " Spirit of God dwell- 
ing in him," which is only got by faith in Christ 
(Gal. iii. 14) ; and therefore all this man's studying 
of holiness is not only vain labour, but acting of sin. 
And if this study, and these endeavours, be managed 
as commonly they are, to obtain justification before 
God, they are the more wicked works still. And 
because this j)oint is needful to be known, I would 
give you some testimonies for it. Doctrine of the 
Church of England, in her thirty-nine articles, Art. 
13, — '-Works done before the grace of Christ, and the 
inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, foras- 
much as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ ; nei- 
ther do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as 
the school-authors say) deserve grace of congruity. 
Yea, rather, for that they are not done as God hath 
willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not 


but they have the nature of sin." So Confession of 
Faith, chap. 16, art. 7. Calvin. Instit. lib. 3, cap. 15, 
sect. 6, — " They (saith he, speaking of the Popish 
schoolmen) have found out I know not what moral 
good works, whereby men are made acceptable to 
God before they are ingrafted into Christ. As if the 
scripture lied when it said, ' They are all in death 
who have not the Son,' (1 John v. 12). If they be 
in death, how can they beget matter of life ? As if 
it were of no force, ' Whatsoever is not of faith is 
sin ;' as if ' evil trees could bring forth good fruit.' " 
Read the rest of that section. On the contrary, the 
Council of Trent, sess. 6, canon 7, say boldly, " Who- 
soever shall say that all works done before justifica- 
tion, howsoever they be done, are truly sin, and de- 
serve the hatred of God, let him be anathema." And 
to give you one more bellowing of the beast, wounded 
by the light of the gospel, see the same Council, sess. 
6, canon 11, " Si quis dixerit, Gratiam qua justifica- 
mur, esse tanium favorem Dei, anathema sit.'''' This 
is fearful blasphemy, saith Dr Downham, bishop of 
Londonderry, in his orthodox book of justification, 
lib. 3, cap. 1, where he saith, " That the Hebrew 
words which in the Old Testament signify ' the grace 
of God,' do always signify ' favour,' and never * grace 
inherent.' And above fifty testimonies may be 
brought from the New Testament, to prove that by 
* God's grace' his ' favour is still meant." But what 
was good Church of England doctrine at and after 
the Reformation, cannot now go down with some 
Arminianizing nonconformists. 

If, then, nothing will satisfy our quarrelling bre- 
thren but either silence as to the main points of the 
gospel which we believe, and live by the faith of, and 


look to be saved in, — which we have for many years 
preached, with some seals of the Holy Ghost in con- 
verting sinners unto God, and in building them up in 
holiness and comfort, by the faith and power of them, 
— which also we vowed to the Lord to preach to all 
that will hear us, as long as we live, in the day when 
we gave up ourselves to serve God with our spirit in 
the gospel of his Son : if either this silence, or the 
swallowing down of Arminian schemes of the gospel, 
contrary to the New Testament, and unknown to the 
reformed churches in their greatest purity, be the 
only terms of peace with our brethren, we must then 
maintain our peace with God and our own con- 
sciences, in the defence of plain gospel truth, and our 
harmony with the reformed churches, and in the 
comfort of these bear their enmity. And though it 
be usual with them to vilify and contemn such as 
differ from them, for their fewness, weakness, and 
want of learning, yet they might know that the most 
learned and godly in the Christian world have main- 
tained and defended the same doctrine we stand for 
for some ages. The grace of God will never want, 
for it can and will furnish defenders of it. England 
hath been blessed with a Bradwardine, an Archbishop 
of Canterbury, against the Pelagians ; a Twiss and 
Ames against the Arminians. And though they that 
contend with us would separate their cause altoge- 
ther from that of these two pests of the Church of 
Christ, I mean Pelagius and Arminius, yet judicious 
observers cannot but already perceive a coincidency, 
and do fear more, when either the force of argument 
shall drive them out of their lurking-holes, or when 
they shall think fit to discover their secret senti- 
ments, which yet we but guess at. Then, as we shall 


know better what they would be at, so it is very like 
that they will then find enemies in many whom they 
have seduced by their craft, and do yet seem to be 
in their camp ; and will meet with opposers, both at 
home and abroad, that they think not of. 

Our doctrine of the justification of a sinner by 
the free grace of God in Jesus Christ, however it be 
misrepresented and reflected upon, is yet undeniably 
recommended by four things. 

1. It is a doctrine savoury and precious unto all 
serious godly persons. Dr Ames's observation holds 
good as to all the Arminian divinity, that it is contra 
communein sensum fidelium ; "against the common 
sense of believers." And though this be an argu- 
ment of little weight with them that value more the 
judgment of the scribes, and the wise, and disputers 
of this world, (1 Cor. i. 18, 19, 20, 21), than of all 
the godly ; yet the Spirit of God by John gives us 
this same argument, " They are of the world ; there- 
fore speak they of the world, and the world heareth 
them. We are of God : he that knoweth God heareth 
us ; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby 
know we the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error ;" 
(1 John iv. 5, 6). How evident is it that several who, 
by education, or an unsound ministry, having had their 
natural enmity against the grace of God strength- 
ened, when the Lord by his Spirit hath broke in upon 
their hearts, and hath raised a serious soul-exercise 
about their salvation ; their turning to God in Christ, 
and their turning from Arminianism, hath begun toge- 
ther % And some of the greatest champions for the 
grace of God have been persons thus dealt with, as 
we might instance. And as it is thus with men at 
their conversion, so is it found afterward that still 


as it is well with them in their inner man, so doth 
the doctrine of grace still appear more precious and 
savoury. On the other part, all the ungodly and 
unrenewed have a dislike and disrelish of this doc- 
trine, and are all for the doctrine of doing, and love 
to hear it ; and, in their sorry exercise, are still for 
doing their own business in salvation ; though they 
be nothing, and can do nothing, but sin, and destroy 

2. It is that doctrine only by which a convinced 
sinner can be dealt with effectually. When a man is 
awakened, and brought to that, that all must be 
brought to, or to worse : " What shall I do to be 
saved r' we have the apostolic answer to it, "Be- 
lieve on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be 
saved, and thy house;" (Actsxvi.30, 31). Thisanswer 
is so old, that with many it seems out of date. But it 
is still, and will ever be, fresh, and new, and savoury, 
and the only resolution of this grand case of con- 
science, as long as conscience and the world lasts. No 
wit or art of man will ever find a crack or flaw in it, 
or devise another or a better answer ; nor can any 
but this alone heal rightly the wound of an awakened 
conscience. Let us set this man to seek resolution 
in this case of some masters in our Israel. Accord- 
ing to their principles, they must say to him, " Re- 
pent, and mourn for your known sins, and leave them 
and loathe them, and God will have mercy on you." 
" Alas ! (saith the poor man) my heart is hard, and 
I cannot repent aright ; yea, I find my heart more 
hard and vile than when I was secure in sin." If 
you speak to this man of qualifications for Christ, he 
knows nothing of them ; if of sincere obedience, his 
answer is native and ready, " Obedience is the work 


of a living man, and sincerity is only in a renewed 
soul." Sincere obedience is therefore as impossible 
to a dead unrenewed sinner as perfect obedience is. 
Why should not the right answer be given, "Believe 
on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved V 
Tell him what Christ is, what he hath done and suf- 
fered to obtain eternal redemption for sinners, and 
that according to the will of God and his Father. 
Give him a plain downright narrative of the gospel- 
salvation wrought out by the Son of God ; tell him 
the history and mystery of the gospel plainly. It 
may be the Holy Ghost will work faith thereby, as 
he did in those first-fruits of the Gentiles, (Acts x. 
44). If he ask what warrant he hath to believe on 
Jesus Christ ? tell him that he hath utter indispen- 
sable necessity for it, for without believing on him he 
must perish eternally ; that he hath God's gracious 
offer of Christ and all his redemption, with a promise 
that upon accepting the offer by faith, Christ and 
salvation with him is his ; that he hath God's ex- 
press commandment to believe on Christ's name 
(I John iii. 23) ; and that he should make conscience 
of obeying it as well as any command in the moral 
law. Tell him of Christ's ability and good-will to 
save ; that no man was ever rejected by him that 
cast himself upon him ; that desperate cases are the 
glorious triumphs of his art of saving. Tell him 
that there is no midst between faith and unbelief; 
that there is no excuse for neglecting the one, and 
continuing in the other ; that believing on the Lord 
Jesus for salvation is more pleasing to God than all 
obedience to his law ; and that unbelief is the most 
provoking to God, and the most damning to man, of 
all sins. Against the greatness of his sins, the curse 


of the law, and the severity of God as Judge, there 
is no relief to be held forth to him but the free and 
boundless grace of God in the merit of Christ's satis- 
faction by the sacrifice of himself. If he should say, 
What is it to believe on Jesus Christ ? As to this, I 
find no such question in the word, but that all did some 
way understand the notion of it : the Jews that did not 
believe on him (John vi. 28, 29, 30) ; the chief priests 
and Pharisees (John vii. 48) ; the blind man (John ix. 
35). When Christ asked him, " Believest thou on 
the Son of God ?" he answered, " Who is he, Lord, 
that I may believe on him V Immediately, when 
Christ had told him (ver. 37), he saith not. What is it 
to believe on him 1 but, " Lord, I believe," and wor- 
shipped him ; and so both professed and acted faith 
in him. So the father of the lunatic (Mark ix. 23, 
24) ; and the eunuch (Acts viii. 37). They all, both 
Christ's enemies and his disciples, knew that faith in 
him was a believing that the man Jesus of Nazareth 
was the Son of God, the Messiah, and Saviour of the 
world, so as to receive and look for salvation in his 
name (Acts iv. 12). This was the common report 
published by Christ and his apostles and disciples, 
and known by all that heard it. If he yet ask. What 
he is to believe ? you tell him that he is not called to 
believe that he is in Christ, and that his sins are par- 
doned, and he a justified man, but that he is to be- 
lieve God's record concerning Christ ; and " this re- 
cord is, that God giveth (that is, off'ereth) to us eter- 
nal life in his Son Jesus Christ," (1 John v. 10, 11, 
12) ; and that all that with the heart believe this 
report, and rest their souls on these glad tidings, 
shall be saved, (Rom. x. 9, 10, 11). And thus he is 
to " believe, that he may be justified," (Gal. ii. 16). 


If he still say that this believing is hard, this is a 
good doubt, but easily resolved. It bespeaks a man 
deeply humbled. Any body may see his own impo- 
tence to obey the law of God fully ; but few find the 
difficulty of believing. For his resolution, ask him, 
what it is he finds makes believing difficult to him 1 
Is it unwillingness to be justified and saved 1 Is it 
unwillingness to be so saved by Jesus Christ, to the 
praise of God's grace in him, and to the voiding of 
all boasting in himself ? This he will surely deny. Is 
it a distrust of the truth of the gospel-record 1 This 
he dare not own. Is it a doubt of Christ's ability or 
good-will to save ? This is to contradict the testimony 
of God in the gospel. Is it because he doubts of an 
interest in Christ and his redemption ? You tell him 
that believing on Christ makes up the interest in him. 
If he say that he cannot believe on Jesus Christ, be- 
cause of the difficulty of the acting this faith, and 
that a divine power is needful to draw it forth, which 
he finds not ; you tell him, that believing in Jesus 
Christ is no work ; but a resting on Jesus Christ ; and 
that this pretence is as unreasonable as that if a 
man wearied with a journey, and who is not able to 
go one step further, should argue, " I am so tired 
that I am not able to lie down," when indeed he can 
neither stand nor go. The poor wearied sinner can 
never believe on Jesus Christ till he finds he can do 
nothing for himself, and in his first believing doth 
always apply himself to Christ for salvation, as a man 
hopeless and helpless in himself. And by such rea- 
sonings with him from the gospel, the Lord will (as 
he hath often done) convey faith, and joy, and peace, 
by believing. 

3. This doctrine of free justification by faith alone, 



hath this advantage, That it suits all men's spirits 
and frame in their serious approaches to God in wor- 
ship. Men may think and talk boldly of inherent 
righteousness, and of its worth and value ; of good 
works, and frames, and dispositions : but when men 
present themselves before the Lord, and have any 
discoveries of his glory, all things in themselves will 
disappear, and be looked upon as nothing. Zophar, 
though the hottest speaker of Job's friends, did yet 
speak rightly to him, "For thou hast said. My doctrine 
is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes. But, Oh that 
God would speak!" (Job xi. 4, 5). And so Job 
found it, when God displayed his glory to him, and 
that only in the works of creation and providence, 
(chap, xxxviii. xxxix) : He then changed his note, 
(Job xl. 4, 5, and xlii. 2-6). So was it with Isaiah, 
(chap vi. 5), till pardoning grace was imparted to him. 
No man can stand before this holy Lord God, with 
any peace and comfort, unless he have God himself 
to stay upon. His grace and mercy in Jesus Christ, 
can only preserve a man from being consumed ; and 
the faith of it from being confounded. Hence we see 
the difference betwixt men's frame in their disputes 
and doctrine about these points, and their own sense 
and pleadings with God in prayer. 

4. This doctrine of justification by faith without 
any mixtures of man, (however, and by what names 
and titles soever they be dignified or distinguished), 
hath this undoubted advantage. That it is that which 
all not judicially hardened and blinded do, or would 
or must betake'ihenisielves unto, when dying. How 
loath would men be to plead that cause on a death- 
bed, which they so stoutly stand up for with tongue 
and pen, when at ease, and that evil day far away ? 


They seem to be jealous, lest God's grace and Christ's 
righteousness have too much room, and men's "works 
too little, in the business of justification. But was 
there ever a sensible dying person exercised with this 
jealousy as to himself? Even bloody Stephen Gar- 
diner, when a-dying, could answer Dr Day, Bishop of 
Chicheste'r, who offered comfort to him by this doc- 
trine, " What, my Lord, will you open that gap now 1 
Then, farewell altogether. To me, and such other in 
my case, you may speakit; but open this window to the 
people, then farewell altogether;" (Book of Martyrs, 
vol. iii. p. 450). In which words, he bewrayed a con- 
viction of the fitness of the doctrine to dying persons, 
and his knowledge that it tended to the destroying 
the kingdom of Antichrist. As Fox, in the same 
Book of Martyrs, (vol. ii. p. 46), gives this as the rea- 
son of Luther's success against Popery, above all former 
attempts of preceding witnesses. " But (saith he) 
Luther gave the stroke, and plucked down the foun- 
dation, and all by opening one vein, long hid before, 
wherein lieth the touchstone of all truth and doctrine, 
as the only principal origin of our salvation ; which 
is, our free justification, by faith only, in Christ the 
Son of God." Consider how it is with the most holy 
and eminent saints when dying. Did ye ever see or 
hear any boasting of their works and performances ? 
They may, and do own, to the praise of his grace, 
what they have been made to be, what they have 
been helped to do or suffer for Christ's sake. But 
when they draw near to the awful tribunal, what else 
is in their eye and heart, but only free grace, ransom- 
ing blood, and a well-ordered covenant in Christ the 
Surety ? They cannot bear to hear any make men- 


tion to tliem of their holiness, their own grace and 
attainments. In a word, the doctrine of conditions, 
qualifications, and rectoral government, and the dis- 
tribution of rewards and punishments, according to 
the new law of grace, will make but an uneasy bed 
to a dying man's conscience ; and will leave him in a 
very bad condition at present, and in dread of worse, 
when he is feeling, in his last agonies, that the wages 
of sin is death, if he cannot by faith add, " But the 
gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our 
Lord," (Rom. vi. 23). He is a wise and happy man 
that anchors his soul on that rock, at which he can 
ride out the storm of death. Why should men con- 
tend for that in their life, that they know they must 
renounce at their death 1 or neglect that truth now, 
that they must betake themselves unto then ? Why 
should a man build a house, which he must leave in 
a storm, or be buried in its ruins ? Many architects 
have attempted to make a sure house of their own 
righteousness : but it is without a foundation ; and 
must fall, or be thrown down sorrowfully by the 
foolish builder ; which is the better way. It is a 
great test of the truth of the doctrine about the way 
of salvation, when it is generally approved of by sen- 
sible dying men. And what the universal sense of 
all such in this case is, as to the righteousness of 
Christ, and their own, is obvious to any man. He 
was an ingenuous Balaamite, who being himself a 
Papist, said to a Protestant, " Our religion is best to 
live in, and yours best to die in." 

But notwithstanding of these great advantages 
(and they are but a few of many) that this doctrine is 
attended with, there are not a few disadvantages it 


labours under ; which though they are rather to its 
commendation than reproach, yet they do hinder its 
welcome and reception. As, 

1. This doctrine is a spiritual mystery, and lieth 
not level to a natural understanding, (1 Cor. ii. 10, 
14). Working for life, a man naturally understands ; 
but believing for life, he understands not. To mend 
the old man, he knows; but to put on the new man 
by faith, is a riddle to him. The study of holiness, 
and to endeavour to square his life according to God's 
law, he knows a little of, though he can never do it ; 
but to draw sanctification from Christ by faith, and 
to walk holily, in and through the force of the Spirit 
of Christ in the heart by faith, is mere canting to 
him. A new life he understands a little ; but nothing 
of a new birth and regeneration. He never saw him- 
self stark dead. Nay, not only it is unknown to the 
natural man, but he is by his natural state an enemy 
to it. He neither doth, nor can know it, nor approve 
of it, (1 Cor. ii. 14). " Wisdom (that is, Christ's way 
of saving men revealed in the gospel) is justified of 
all her children," and of them only, (Matt. xi. 19, 
Luke vii. 29, 30, 35). This enmity in men to the 
wisdom of God, is the cause not only of this contempt 
of its ministry, but is a temptation to many ministers 
to patch up and frame a gospel that is more suited to, 
and taking with, and more easily understood by such 
men, than the true gospel of Christ is. This Paul 
complains of in others, and vindicates himself from, 
(1 Cor. i. 17, and ii. 2). He warns others against it, 
(Col. ii. 8 ; 2 Cor. xi. 3, 4 ; Gal. i. 6, 7, 8, 9). And 
it is certain, that doing for life is more suited to cor- 
rupt nature, than believing is. 

2. Our opposers in this doctrine have the manv for 


them, and against us ; as they of old boasted (John 
vii. 48). This they have no ground to glory in, 
though they do ; nor we to be ashamed of the truth, 
because we cannot vie in numbers with them. With 
our opposers are all these sorts, (and they make a 
great number) ; though I do not say or think, that 
all our opposers are to be ranked in any of these lists; 
for some, both godly and learned, may mistake us, 
and the truth, in this matter. 1. They have all the 
ignorant people, that know nothing either of law or 
gospel. They serve God, (they say, but most falsely) ; 
and hope that God will be merciful to them, and save 
them. To all such, both the clear explication of 
God's law, and the mysteries of the gospel, are strange 
things. Yet sincere obedience they love to hear of ; 
for all of them think there is some sincerity in their 
hearts, and that they can do somewhat. But of faith 
in Christ they have no knowledge ; except by faith 
you understand a dream of being saved by Jesus 
Christ, though they know nothing of him, or of his 
way of saving men, nor of the way of being saved by 
him. 2. All formalists are on their side ; people 
that place their religion in trifles, because they are 
strangers to the substance thereof. 3. All proud se- 
cure sinners are against us, that go about with the 
Jews, " to establish their own righteousness," (Rom. 
X. 3). The secure are whole, and see no need of the 
physician ; the proud have physic at home, and de- 
spise that that came down from heaven. 4. All the 
zealous devout people in a natural religion, are utter 
enemies to the gospel. By a natural religion, I mean 
that that is the product of the remnants of God's 
image in fallen man, a little improved by the light 
of God's word. All such cannot endure to hear, that 


God's law must be perfectly fulfilled in every tittle of 
it, or no man can be saved by doing ; that they must 
all perish for ever, that have not the righteousness 
of a man that never sinned, who is also God over all 
blessed for ever, to shelter and cover them from a 
holy God's anger, and to render them accepted of 
him : that his righteousness is put on by the grace of 
God, and a man must betake himself to it, and receive 
it as a naked blushing sinner : that no man can do 
any thing that is good, till gospel-grace renew him, 
and make him first a good man. This they will never 
receive, but do still think that a man may grow good 
by doing good. 

3. Natural reason is very fertile in its objections 
and cavils against the doctrine of the grace of God ; 
and especially when this corrupt reason is polished by 
learning and strong natural parts. When there are 
many to broach such doctrine, and many so disposed 
to receive it, is it any wonder that the gospel-truth 
makes little progress in the world ? Nay, were it not 
for the divine power that supports it, and the pro- 
mises of its preservation, its enemies are so many and 
strong, and true friends so few and feeble, we might 
fear its perishing from the earth. But we know it is 
impossible. And if the Lord have a design of mercy 
to these nations, and hath a vein of his election to 
dig up amongst us, we make no doubt, but the glory 
of Christ, as a crucified Saviour, shall yet be displayed 
in the midst of us, to the joy of all that love his sal- 
vation, and to the shame of others, (Isa. Ixvi. 5). 

4. I might add the great declension of some of the 
reformed churches from the purity and simplicity of 
that doctrine they were first planted in. The new 
methodists about the grace of God, had too great an 


increase in the French churches. And, which was very 
strange, this declension advanced amongst them, at the 
same time, when Jansenism was spreading amongst 
many of the church of Rome : so that a man might 
have seen Papists growing better in their doctrine, and 
Protestants growing worse. (See Mr Gale's Idea of 
Jansenism, with Dr Owen's preface.) What there is 
of this amongst us in England, I leave the reader to 
Mr Jenkin's Celeusma, and to the Naked Truth, part 
4. And if there be any warping toward Arminian 
doctrine by some on our side, in order to ingratiate 
themselves with that church that hath the secular 
advantages to dispense, and to make way for some 
accommodation with them, I had rather wait in 
fear till a further discovery of it, than offer to guess 

5. Lastly, It is no small disadvantage this doc- 
trine lies under from the spirit of the day we live in. 
A light, frothy, trifling temper, prevails generally ; 
doctrines of the greatest weight are talked of and 
treated about, with a vain unconcerned frame of spi- 
rit ; as if men contended rather about opinions and 
school-points, than about the oracles of God, and 
matters of faith. But if men's hearts were seen by 
themselves ; if sin were felt ; if men's consciences were 
enlivened ; if God's holy law were known in its exact- 
ness and severity, and the glory and majesty of the 
lawgiver shining before men's eyes ; if men were liv- 
ing as leaving time, and launching forth into eter- 
nity, the gospel-salvation by Jesus Christ would be 
more regarded. 

Object. 1. Is there not a great decay amongst pro- 
fessors in real practical godliness? Are we like the old 
Protestants, or the old Puritans % I answer, That 


the decay and degeneracy is great, and heavily to be 
bewailed. But what is the cause? and what will be 
its cure ? Is it because the doctrine of morality, and 
virtue, and good works, is not enough preached 1 This 
cannot be : for there hath been for many years a pub- 
lic ministry in the nation, that make these their con- 
stant themes. Yet the land is become as Sodom for 
all lewdness ; and the tree of profaneness is so grown, 
that the sword of the magistrate hath not yet been 
able to lop off any of its branches. Is it because 
men have too much faith in Christ 1 or too little ? or 
none at all? Would not faith in Christ increase 
holiness ? did it not always so ? and will it not still 
do it ? Was not the holiness of the first Protestants 
eminent and shining ? and yet they generally put as- 
surance in the definition of their faith. We cannot 
say that gospel-holiness hath prospered much by the 
correction or mitigation of that harsh-like definition. 
The certain spring of this prevailing wickedness in 
the land, is people's ignorance and unbelief of the 
gospel of Christ ; and that grows by many prophets 
that speak lies to them in the name of the Lord. 

Object. 2. But do not some abuse the grace of the 
gospel, and turn it into wantonness ? Answer. Yes ; 
some do, ever did, and still will do so. But it is only 
the ill-understood and not believed doctrine of grace 
that they abuse. The grace itself no man can abuse ; 
for its power prevents its abuse. Let us see how 
Paul, that blessed herald of this grace, (as he was 
an eminent instance of it,) dealeth with this objec- 
tion, (Rom. vi. 1). What doth he to prevent this 
abuse ? Is it by extenuating what he had said, chap. 
V. 20, that " grace abounds much more, where sin 
had abounded?" Is it by mincing grace smaller, 


tliiit men may not choke upon it, or surfeit by it ] Is 
it by mixing something of the law with it, to make 
it more wholesome 1 No : but only by plain assert- 
ing the power and influence of this grace, wherever 
it really is ; as at length in that chapter. This grace 
is all treasured up in Christ Jesus, offered to all men 
in the gospel, poured forth by our Lord in the work- 
ing of faith ; and drunk in by the elect in the exer- 
cise of faith, and becomes in them a living spring, 
which will and must break out and spring up in all 
holy conversation. He exhorts them to drink in 
more and more of this grace by faith. And as for 
such as pretend to grace, and live ungodly, the Spirit 
of God declares they are void of grace, which is al- 
ways fruitful in good works, (2 Peter ii. and Jude's 
epistle). The apostle orders the churches to cast such 
out (1 Cor. v., 2 Tim. iii. 5), and to declare to them 
as Peter did to a professor, that " they have no part 
nor portion in this matter, for their heart is not right 
in the sight of God," (Acts viii. 20, 21), though the 
doctrine be right, that they hypocritically profess. 

But if our brethren will not forbear their charge 
of Antinomianism, we entreat them that they will 
give it in justly. As, 1. On them that say that the 
sanction of the holy law of God is repealed, so that 
no man is now under it, either to be condemned for 
breaking it or to be saved by keeping it, which to us 
is rank Antinomianism and Arminianism both, yea, 
that it doth not now require perfect holiness. But 
indeed what can it require ? for it is no law if its 
sanction be repealed. 2. On them let the charge lie 
that are ungodly under the name of Christianity. 
And both they and we know where to find such true 
Antinomians in great abundance, who yet are ne- 


ver called by that name. And is it not somewhat 
strange, that men who have so much zeal against an 
Antinomian principle, have so much kindness for 
true Antinomians in practice ? 3. Let him be called 
by this ugly name that judgeth not the holy law and 
word of God written in the Old and New Testament 
to be a perfect rule of life to all believers, and saith 
not that all such should study conformity thereunto, 
(Rom. xii. 2.) 4. That encourageth himself in sin, 
and hardeneth himself in impenitence by the doctrine 
of the gospel. No man that knows and believes the 
gospel can do so. What some hypocrites may do is 
nothing to us who disown all such persons and prac- 
tices, and own no principle that can really encourage 
the one or influence the other. 5. That thinketh 
holiness is not necessary to all that would be saved. 
We maintain, not only that it is necessary to, but 
that it is a great part of salvation. 6. Whoever 
thinks that when a believer comes short in obeying 
God's law, he sins not, and that he ought not to 
mourn because of it as provoking to God and hurtful 
to the new creation in him, and that he needs not 
renew the exercise of faith and repentance for repeated 
washing and pardoning. Lastly, That say that a sin- 
ner is actually justified before he be united to Christ 
by faith. It is strange that such as are charged 
with this, of all men, do most press on sinners to be- 
lieve on Jesus Christ, and urge the damnation threat- 
ened in the gospel upon all unbelievers. That there 
is a decreed justification from eternity, particular and 
fixed as to all the elect, and a virtual perfect justi- 
fication of all the redeemed in and by the death and 
resurrection of Jesus Christ (Isaiah liii. 11, Rom. iv. 


25, Heb. ix. 26, 28, and x. 14V is not yet called in 
question by any amongst us ; and more is not craved 
but that a sinner, for his actual justification, must 
lay hold on and plead this redemption in Christ's 
blood by faith. 

But, on the other hand, we glory in any name of 
reproach (as the honourable reproach of Christ) that 
is cast upon us for asserting the absolute boundless 
freedom of the grace of God, which excludes all 
merit, and everything like it ; the absoluteness of the 
covenant of grace, (for the covenant of redemption 
was plainly and strictly a conditional one, and the 
noblest of all conditions was in it. The Son of God's 
taking on him man's nature, and offering it in sacri- 
fice, was the strict condition of all the glory and re- 
ward promised to Christ and his seed, Isaiah liii. 10, 
11), wherein all things are freely promised, and that 
faith that is required for sealing a man's interest in 
the covenant is promised in it, and wrought by the 
grace of it (Eph. ii. 8). That faith at first is wrought 
by, and acts upon a full and absolute offer of Christ, 
and of all his fulness ; an offer that hath no condition 
in it, but that native one to all offers, acceptance : 
and in the very act of this acceptance, the accepter 
doth expressly disclaim all things in himself, but sin- 
fulness and misery. That faith in Jesus Christ doth 
justify (although by the way it is to be noted, that it is 
never written in the word, that faith justifieth ac- 
tively, but always passively, that a man is justified 
by faith, and that God justifieth men by and through 
faith : yet admitting the phrase) only as a mere in- 
strument receiving that imputed righteousness of 
Christ for which we are justified ; and that this faith, 


in the office of justification, is neither condition nor 
qualification, nor our gospel-righteousness, but in its 
very act a renouncing of all such pretences. 

We proclaim the market of grace to be free, (Isa. 
Iv. 1, 2, 3). It is Christ's last ofi'er and lowest, (Rev. 
xxii. 17). If there be any price or money spoke of, 
it is no price, no money. And where such are the 
terms and conditions, if we be forced to call them so, 
we must say, that they look liker a renouncing, than 
a boasting of any qualifications or conditions. Surely 
the terms of the gospel-bargain are, God's free giving, 
and our free taking and receiving. 

We are not ashamed of teaching the inefFectualness 
of the law, and all the works of it, to give life ; either 
that of justification, or of regeneration and sanctifica- 
tion, or of eternal life : That the law of God can only 
damn all sinners ; that it only rebukes, and thereby 
irritates and increases sin ; and can never subdue it 
till gospel-grace come with power upon the heart ; 
and then when the law is written in the heart, it is 
copied out in the life. 

That we call men to believe on the Lord Jesus 
Christ, in that case the first Adam brought them to, 
and left them in ; in that case that the law finds and 
leaves them in, guilty, filthy, condemned : out of 
which case they can only be delivered by Christ, and 
by believing on him. 

That we tell sinners, that Jesus Christ will surely 
welcome all that come to him ; and, as he will not 
cast them out for their sinfulness in their nature and 
by-past life, so neither for their misery, in the want 
of such qualifications and graces that he only can give. 

That we do hold forth the propitiation in Christ's 
blood, as the only tiling to be in the eye of a man 


that would believe on Christ unto justification of life ; 
and that by this faith alone a sinner is justified, and 
God is justified in doing so. 

That God "justifieth the ungodly," (Rom. iv. 5), 
neither by making him godly before he justify him, 
nor leaving him ungodly after he hath justified him ; 
but that the same grace that justifies him, doth im- 
mediately sanctify him. 

If for such doctrine we be called Antinomians, we 
are bold to say, that there is some ignorance of, or 
prejudice at the known Protestant doctrine, in the 
hearts of the reproachers. 

That there are some things we complain of. As, 

1. That they load their brethren so grievously 
with unjust calumnies, either directly or by conse- 
quence, as when they preach up holiness, and the ne- 
cessity of it, as if it were their proper doctrine, and 
disowned by us, when they cannot but know in their 
consciences that there is no difference betwixt them 
and us about the nature and necessity of holiness, but 
only about its spring and place in salvation. We 
derive it from Jesus Christ and faith in him, and 
know assuredly that it can spring from nothing else. 
We place it betwixt justification and glory, and that 
is its scripture-place, and no where else can it be 
found or stand, let them try it as much and as long 
as they will. 

2. That they seem very zealous against Antino- 
mianism, and forget the other extreme of Arminian- 
ism, which is far more common, as dangerous, and 
far more natural to all men. For though there have 
been, and may be this day, some true Antinomians, 
either through ignorance, or weakness, reeling to that 
extreme, or by the heat of contention with, and hatred 


of Armmianism, (as it is certain some veiy good and 
learned men have inclined to Arminianism, through 
their hatred of Antinomianism, and have declared 
so much) ; and some may, and do corrupt the doctrine 
of the gospel, through the unrenewedness of their 
hearts, yet how destructive soever this abuse may be 
to the souls of the seduced, such an appearance of 
Antinomianism is but a meteor or comet that vrill 
soon blaze out, and its folly will be quickly hissed off 
the stage. But the principles of Arminianism are the 
natural dictates of a carnal mind, which is enmity 
both to the law of God and to the gospel of Christ ; 
and, next to the dead sea of Popery (into which also 
this stream runs), have, since Pelagius to this day, 
been the greatest plague of the church of Christ, and 
it is like will be till his second coming. 

3. We do also justly complain, that, in their oppos- 
ing of true Antinomian errors, and particularly the 
alleged tenets of Dr Crisp, they hint that there is a 
party of ministers and professors that defend them ; 
whereas we can defy them to name one minister, in 
London at least, that doth so. 

4. That expressions capable of a good sense are 
strenuously perverted, contrary to the scope of the 
writer or speaker. But this and such like are the 
usual methods of unfair contenders. Were the like 
methods taken on the other side, how many Popish, 
Arminian, yea and Socinian expressions, might be 
published ? If any gospel-truth be preached or pub- 
lished, that reflects on the idol of self-righteousness, 
and justification thereby, it is soon quarrelled with. 
But reproaches cast on the free grace of God, and 
the imputed righteousness of Christ are with them, 
if not approved, yet but venial, well-meant mistakes. 


Let men's stated principles be known, and their ex- 
pressions explained accordingly, or mistakes and con- 
tentions will be endless. 

5. We do also complain, that love to peace hath 
made many grave and sound divines forbear to utter 
their minds freely in public on these points : whereby 
the adverse party is emboldened ; and such ministers as 
dare not purchase peace by silence, when so great 
truths are undermined, are exposed as a mark. But 
we do not question but these worthy brethren, 
when they shall see the points of controversy accu- 
rately stated (as they may shortly), will openly appear 
on truth's side, as we know their hearts are for it. 

Lastly i We complain, that the scheme of the gos- 
pel contended for by our opposers, is clouded, vailed, 
and darkened by school terms ; new, uncouth, and un- 
scriptural phrases ; whereby as they think to guard 
themselves against opposition, so they do increase the 
jealousies of their brethren, and keep their principles 
from the knowledge of ordinary people, who are as 
much concerned in those points as any scholar or 

This controversy looks like a very bad omen. 
We thought we might have healed our old breaches, 
in smaller things ; and, behold, a new one is threat- 
ened in the greatest matters. We did hope, that the 
good old Protestant doctrine had been rooted and ri- 
veted in the hearts of all the ministers on our side ; 
but now we find the contrary, and that the sour leaven 
of Arminianism works strongly. Their advocates do 
not yet own the name ; but the younger sort are more 
bold and free : and with them no books or authors 
are in esteem and use, but such as are for the new 
rational method of divinity. (Rational is a fitter 


commendation of a philosopher, than of a divine : 
and yet it is somewhat better applied to a divine, 
than to divinity ; for true divinity hath a higher and 
nobler original than man's reason, even divine revela- 
tion ; and it can never be rightly learned by them that 
have no higher principle in them than reason, even 
the teaching of the Holy Ghost.) But for Luther, 
Calvin, Zanchy, Twisse, Ames, Perkins, and divines 
of their spirit and stamp, they are generally neglected 
and despised. 

We were in hope, that after the Lord had so sig- 
nally appeared for his truth and people, in preserv- 
ing both, under the rage of that Antichristian spirit 
of persecution and apostasy to gross Popery, that 
wrought so mightily under the two last reigns, and 
when he had given us the long-desired mercy of 
a legal establishment of our gospel-liberty in this, 
that all hearts and hands should have been unani- 
mously employed in the advancing of the work of 
Christ. But we find, that as we have for a long time 
lost, in a great measure, the power, we are now in no 
small danger of losing also the purity of the gospel. 
And without them what signifies liberty ! 

It is undoubted that the devil designs the obstruct- 
ing of the course of the gospel ; and in this he hath 
often had the service of the tongues and pens of good 
men, as well as of bad. Yet we are not without hope, 
that the Lord, in his wisdom and mercy, will defeat 
him ; and that these contentions may yet have good 
fruit and a good issue. 

For furthering of this good end, let me request a 
few things of my brethren. 

1. Let us not receive reports suddenly of one an- 
other. In times of contention, many false reports 



are raised, and rashly believed. This is both the fniit 
and the fuel of contention. For all the noise of An- 
tinomianism, I must declare, that I do not know (and 
I have both opportunity and inclination to inquire) 
any one Antinomian minister or Christian in London, 
who is really such as their reproachers paint them 
out, or such as Luther and Calvin wrote against. 

2. Let us make Christ crucified our great study, 
as Christians ; and the preaching of him our main 
work, as ministers. Paul determined to know no- 
thing else, (1 Cor. ii. 2). But many manage the mi- 
nistry, as if they had taken up a contrary determi- 
nation, even to know any thing, save Jesus Christ, 
and him crucified. We are amazed to see so many 
ashamed of the cross of Christ, and to behave as if 
they accounted the tidings of salvation by the slain 
Son af God, an old antiquated story, and unfit to be 
daily preached. And what comes in the room there- 
of, is not unknown, nor is it worth the mentioning. 
For all things that come in Christ's room, and justle 
him out, either of hearts or pulpits, are alike abo- 
minable to a Christian. How many sermons may a 
man hear, and read when printed, yea, and books 
written, about the way to heaven, wherein is hardly 
the name of Jesus Christ ! And if he be named, it 
is the name of Christ as a Judge and Lawgiver, rather 
than that of a Saviour. And as little room hath 
Christ in many men's prayers ; except it be in the con- 
clusion. When we cannot avoid the observing of those 
sad things, let it be a sharp spur to us, to preach Christ 
more, to pray more in his name, and to live more t^ 
his praise. Let us not be deceived with that pretence, 
That Christ may be preached, when he is not named. 
The preaching of the gospel is the naming of Christ, 


and so called, (Rom. xv. 20). And Paul ^vas to " bear 
Christ's name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the 
children of Israel," (Acts ix. 15). 

3. Let us study hard, and pray much, to know the 
truth, and to cleave unto it. It is an old observa- 
tion, Ante Pelagium securius loquebantur patres : 
" Before Pelagius even the fathers spoke more care- 
lessly;" meaning well, and fearing no mistakes in 
their hearers. Now, it is not so ; the more careful 
should we be in our doctrine. Let us search our own 
consciences, and see how we ourselves are justified be- 
fore God. So Paul argued, Gal. ii. 15, 16. And let 
us bring forth that doctrine to our people, that we 
find in our Bibles, and have felt the power of upon our 
own hearts. 

4. Let us not run into extremes, upon the right or 
left hand, through the heat of contention ; but care- 
fully keep the good old way of the Protestant doctrine, 
wherein so many thousands of saints and martyrs of 
Jesus have lived holily, and died happily, who never 
heard of our new schemes and notions. 

And, for this end, let us take and cleave to the test 
of the Assembly's Confession of Faith and Catechisms. 
More we own not ourselves, more we crave not of our 
brethren ; and because we deal fairly and openly, I 
shall set it down verbatim. (Conf. chap. xi. Of Jus- 
tification). Art.l. " Those whom God eff"ectually call- 
eth, he also freely jnstifieth : not by infusing right- 
eousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and 
by accounting and accepting their persons as right- 
eous : not for any thing wrought in them, or done by 
them, but for Christ's sake alone : not by imputing 
faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evange- 
lical obedience, to them as their righteousness ; but 


by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ 
unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his 
righteousness by faith ; which faith they have not of 
themselves, it is the gift of God." 

Art. 2. " Faith, thus receiving and resting on 
Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument 
of justification ; yet is it not alone in the person 
justified, but is ever accompanied with all other 
saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by 

Art. 3. " Christ, by his obedience and faith, did 
fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus jus- 
tified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfac- 
tion to his Father's justice in their behalf. Yet, in 
as much as he was given by the Father for them, and 
his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, 
and both freely, not for any thing in them, their jus- 
tification is only of free grace ; that both the exact 
justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in 
the justification of sinners." 

Art. 4. " God did, from all eternity, decree to jus- 
tify all the elect ; and Christ did, in the fulness of 
time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justi- 
fication : nevertheless they are not justified, until the 
Holy Spirit doth in due time actually apply Christ 
unto them." 

Art. 5. " God doth continue to forgive the sins of 
those that are justified. And although they can never 
fall from the state of justification; yet they may, by 
their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure, and 
not have the light of his countenance restored unto 
them, until they humble themselves, confess their 
sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repent- 


Art. 6. " The justification of believers under the 
Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the 
same with the justification of believers under the New 
Testament." This is the whole chapter exactly. 

Larger Catechism. — " Q. How doth faith justify a 
sinner in the sight of God ? Atis. Faith justifies a 
sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other 
graces which do always accompany it, or of good 
works, that are the fruits of it, — nor as if the grace 
of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for 
his justification, — but only as it is an instrument by 
which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his right- 

Let these weighty words be but heartily assented 
to in their plain and native sense, and we are one in 
this great point of justification. But can any consi- 
dering man think that the new scheme, of a real 
change, repentance, and sincere obedience, as neces- 
sary to be found in a person that may lawfully come 
to Christ for justification ; of faith's justifying, as it 
is the spring of sincere obedience ; of a man's being 
justified by, and upon his coming up to the terms of 
the new law of grace (a new word, but of an old and 
ill meaning) ; can any man think that this scheme 
and the sound words of the Reverend Assembly do 
agree % Surely, if such a scheme had been ofi'ered to 
that grave, learned, and orthodox synod, it would 
have had a more severe censure passed upon it than 
I am willing to name. 

Do not we find, in our particular dealings with 
souls, the same principles I am now opposing "? 

When we deal with the carnal, secure, careless 
sinners (and they are a vast multitude), and ask them 
a reason of that hope of heaven they pretend to, is 


not this their common answer : " I live inoffensively. 
I keep God*s law as well as I can ; and wherein 1 
fail, 1 repent, and beg God's mercy for Christ's sake. 
My heart is sincere, though my knowledge and at- 
tainments be short of others?" If we go on to in- 
quire further. What acquaintance they have with 
Jesus Christ 1 what application their souls have made 
to him 1 what workings of faith on him ? what use 
they have made of his righteousness for justification, 
and his Spirit for sanctification ? what they know of 
living by faith in Jesus Christ 1 we are barbarians to 
them. And in this sad state many thousands in Eng- 
land live, and die, and perish eternally. Yet so 
thick is the darkness of the age, that many of them 
live here and go hence with the reputation of good 
Christians, and some of them may have their funeral 
sermon and praises preached by an ignorant, flat- 
tering minister, though it may be the poor creatures 
never did, in the whole course of their life, nor at 
their death, employ Jesus Christ so much for an en- 
try to heaven, purchased by his blood, and only acces- 
sible by faith in him, as a poor Turk doth Mahomet, 
for a room in his beastly paradise. How common 
and fearful a thing is this in this land and city ! 

When we come to deal with a poor awakened sin- 
ner, who seeth his lost state, and that he is con- 
demned by the law of God, we find the same prin- 
ciples working in him ; for they are natural, and 
therefore universal in all men, and hardly rooted out 
of any. We find him sick and wounded ; we tell 
him where his help lies, in Jesus Christ ; what his 
proper work is, to apply to him by faith. What is 
his answer"? " Alas !" saith the man, " I have been 
and I am so vile a sinner, my heart is so bad, and so 


full of plagues and corruptions, that I cannot think 
of believing on Christ. But if I had but repentance, 
and some holiness in heart and life, and such and 
such gracious qualifications, I would then believe," — 
when indeed this his answer is as full of nonsense, 
ignorance, and pride as words can contain or express. 
They imply, 1. " If I were pretty well recovered, I 
would employ the Physician, Christ. 2. That there 
is some hope to work out these good things by my- 
self, without Christ. 3. And when I come to Christ 
with a price in my hand, I shall be welcome. 4. That 
I can come to Christ when I will." So ignorant are 
people naturally of faith in Jesus Christ ; and no 
words or warnings repeated, nor plainest instructions, 
can beat into men's heads and hearts that the first 
coming to Christ by faith, or believing on him, is 
not a believing we shall be saved by him, but a be- 
lieving on him, that we may be saved by him. And 
it is less to be wondered at that ignorant people do 
not, when so many learned men will not, understand 

When we deal with a proud, self-righteous hypo- 
crite, we find the same principles of eitmity against 
the grace of the gospel. A profane person is not so 
enraged at the rebukes of sin from the law, as these 
Pharisees are at the discovery of their ruin by unbe- 
lief. They cannot endure to have their idol of self- 
righteousness touched, neither by the spirituality of 
God's law, that condemns all men, and all their 
works, while out of Christ ; nor by the gospel, which 
reveals another righteousness than their own, by 
which they must be saved : but they will have God's 
ark of the covenant to stand as a captive in the 
temple of their Dagon of self-righteousness, until the 


vengeance of God's despised covenant overtlirow both 
the temple, and idol, and worshippers. 

There is not a minister that dealeth seriously with 
the souls of men, but he finds an Arminian scheme of 
justification in every unrenewed heart. And is it not 
sadly to be bewailed that divines should plead that 
same cause that we daily find the devil pleading in 
the hearts of all natural men ? and that instead of 
" casting down" (2 Cor. x. 4, 5), they should be mak- 
ing defences for such *' strongholds" as must either 
be levelled with the dust, or the rebel that holds 
them out must eternally perish 1 

It is no bad way of studying the gospel, and of at- 
taining more light into it, that may be used in deal- 
ing particularly with the consciences of all sorts of 
men, as we have occasion. More may be learned 
this way than out of many large books. And if mi- 
nisters would deal more with their own consciences, 
and the consciences of others, in and about these 
points that are most properly cases of conscience, we 
should find an increase of gospel-light, and a grow- 
ing fitness to preach aright, as Paul did : " By mani- 
festation of the truth, commending ourselves to every 
man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor. iv. 2). 

Let us keep up, in our hearts and doctrine, a re- 
verent regard of the holy law of God, and suffer not 
a reflecting, disparaging word or thought of it. The 
great salvation is contrived with a regard to it ; and 
the satisfaction given to the law by the obedience 
and death of Christ our surety, hath made it glorious 
and honourable, more than all the holiness of saints 
on earth, or of the glorified in heaven, and than all 
the torments of the damned in hell, though they do 
also magnify the law and make it honourable. But 


if men will teach that the law, and obedience unto 
it, whether perfect or sincere, is the righteousness we 
must be found in, and stand in, in our pleading for 
justification, they " neither understand what they 
say, nor whereof they affirm," (1 Tim. i. 7). They 
" become debtors to it," and " Christ profits them 
nothing," (Gal. ii. 21, and v. 2, 5). And we know 
what will become of that man that hath his debts to 
the law to pay, and hath no interest in the surety's 
payment. Yet many such offer their own silver, 
which, whatever coin of man be upon it, is repro- 
bate, and rejected both by law and gospel. 

Let us carefully keep the bounds clear betwixt the 
law and gospel, which, " whosoever doth, is a right 
perfect divine," saith blessed Luther, in his Com- 
mentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, — a book 
that hath more plain sound gospel than many vo- 
lumes of some other divines. Let us keep the law 
as far from the business of justification as we would 
keep condemnation, its contrary ; for the law and 
condemnation are inseparable, but by the interven- 
tion of Jesus Christ our surety (Gal. iii. 10-14). But 
in the practice of holiness, the fulfilled law given by 
Jesus Christ to believers as a rule is of great and 
good use to them, as hath been declared. 

Lastly, Be exact in your communion and church- 
administrations. If any walk otherwise than it be- 
cometh the gospel — if any abuse the doctrine of 
grace to licentiousness, draw the rod of discipline 
against them the more severely, that ye know so 
many wait for your halting, and are ready to speak 
evil of the ways and truths of God. 

The wisdom of God sometimes orders the different 
opinions of men about his truth, for the clearing and 


confirming of it, while each side watch the extremes 
that others may be in hazard of running into. And 
if controversy be fairly and meekly managed this 
way, we may differ, and plead our opinions, and both 
love and edify them we oppose, and may be loved 
and edified by them in their opposition. 

I know no fear possesseth our side but that of Ar- 
minianism. Let us be fairly secured from that, and 
as we ever hated true Antinomianism, so we are 
ready to oppose it with all our might. But having 
such grounds of jealousy as I have named (and it is 
well known that I have not named all), men will 
allow us to fear that this noise of Antinomianism is 
raised, and any advantage they have by the rashness 
and imprudence of some ignorant men is improved 
to a severe height by some, on purpose to shelter 
Arminianism in its growth, and to advance it fur- 
ther amongst us, which we pray and hope the Lord 
will prevent. 


Rob. Traill. 


This paper presented to thee, was in its first de- 
sign intended as a private letter to a particular bro- 
ther, as the title bears. How it comes to be pub- 
lished, I shall not trouble the world with an account 
of. I think that Dr Owen's excellent book of Jus- 
tification, and Mr Marshall's book of the Mystery 
of Sanctification by Faith in Jesus Christ, are such 
vindications and confirmations of the Protestant doc- 
trine against which I fear no efi'ectual opposition. 
Dr Owen's name is so savoury and famous, his sound- 


ness in the faith, and ability in learning for its de- 
fence, so justly reputed, that no sober man will at- 
tempt him. Mr Marshall was a holy retired person, 
and is only known to the most of us by his book 
published lately. The book is a deep, practical, 
well-jointed discourse, and requires a more than or- 
♦linary attention in the reading of it with profit ; and 
if it be singly used, I look upon it as one of the most 
useful books the world hath seen for many years. 
Its excellency is, that it leads the serious reader di- 
rectly to Jesus Christ, and cuts the sinews and over- 
turns the foundation of the new divinity, by the same 
argument of gospel-holiness by which many attempt 
to overturn the old ; and as it hath already the seal 
of high approbation by many judicious ministers and 
Christians that have read it, so I fear not but it will 
stand firm as a rock against all opposition, and will 
prove good seed, and food, and light, and life, to 
many hereafter. 

All my design in publishing this is, plainly and 
briefly to give some information to ordinary plain 
people, who either want time or judgment to peruse 
large and learned tractates about this point of justi- 
fication, wherein every one is equally concerned. 

The theme of justification hath suffered greatly by 
this, that many have employed their heads and pens 
who never had their hearts and consciences exercised 
about it ; and they must be frigid and dreaming spe- 
culations that all such are taken up with whose con- 
sciences are not enlivened with their personal con- 
cern in it. 

These things are undoubted : 1. That as it is a 
point of highest concern to every man, so it is to the 
whole doctrine of Christianity. All the great fun- 


damentals of Christian truth centre in this of justifi- 
cation. The Trinity of persons in the Godhead ; the 
incarnation of the only begotten of the Father ; the 
satisfaction paid to the law and justice of God, for 
the sins of the world, by his obedience and sacrifice 
of himself in that flesh he assumed ; and the divine 
authority of the scriptures, which reveal all this, are 
all straight lines of truth that centre in this doctrine 
of the justification of a sinner by the imputation and 
application of that satisfaction. No justification 
without a righteousness ; no righteousness can be but 
what answers fully and perfectly the holy law of God ; 
no such righteousness can be performed but by a di- 
vine person; no benefit can accrue to a sinner by 
it unless it be some way his, and applied to him ; no 
application can be made of this but by faith in Jesus 
Christ. And as the connection with, and depend- 
ence of this truth upon, the other great mysteries of 
divine truth is evident in the plain proposal of it, so 
the same hath been sadly manifest in this, that the 
forsaking of the doctrine of justification by faith in 
Christ's righteousness, hath been the first step of 
apostasy in many, who have not stopped till they 
revolted from Christianity itself. Hence so many 
Arminians, and their chief leaders too, turned Soci- 
nians. From denying justification by Christ's right- 
eousness, they proceeded to the denying of his satis- 
faction ; from the denial of his proper satisfaction, 
they went on to the denying of the divinity of his 
person ; and that man's charity is excessive that will 
allow to such blasphemers of the Son of God the 
name of Christians. Let not then the zeal of any so 
fundamental a point of truth as that is of the justifi- 
cation of a sinner by faith in Christ be charged with 


folly. It is good to be always zealously affected in a 
good thing, and this is the best of things. 

2. It is undoubted that there is a mystery in this 
matter of justification. As it is God's act, it is an act 
of free grace and deep wisdom. Herein justice and 
mercy kiss one another in saving the sinner. Here 
appears God-man with the righteousness of God, and 
this applied and imputed to sinful men. Here man's 
sin and misery are the field in which the riches of 
God's grace in Christ are displayed. Here the sin- 
ner is made righteous by the righteousness of an- 
other, and obtains justification through this right- 
eousness, though he pays and gives nothing for it. 
God declares him righteous, or justifies him freely ; 
and yet he is well paid for it by the redemption that 
is in Christ Jesus (Rom. iii. 24, 25, 26). It is an 
act of justice and mercy both when God justifies a 
believer on Jesus Christ. And must there not then 
be a great mystery in it ? Is not every believer daily 
admiring the depth of this way of God ? This mys- 
tery is usually rather darkened than illustrated by 
logical terms used in the handling of it. The only 
defence that good and learned men have for the use 
of them is (and it hath great weight), that the craft 
of adversaries doth constrain them to use such terms, 
to find them out or hedge them in. It is certain 
that this mystery is as plainly revealed in the word, 
as the Holy Ghost thought fit to do in teaching the 
heirs of this grace ; and it were well if men did con- 
tain themselves within these bounds. 

3. It is certain that this doctrine of justification 
proposed in the word, hath been very difi'erently un- 
derstood and expressed by men that profess that God's 
word is the only rule of their thoughts and words 


about the things of the Spirit of God. It hath been, 
and will be still a stone of stumbling, as our Lord 
Jesus Christ himself was, and is, (Rom. ix. 32, 33 ; 
1 Pet. ii. 7, 8). 

4. That whatever variety and differences there 
be in men's notions and opinions (and there is a great 
deal) about justification, they are all certainly re- 
ducible to two ; one of which is every man's opinion. 
And they are, that the justification of a sinner before 
God, is either on the account of a righteousness in 
and of ourselves, or on the account of a righteousness 
in another, even Jesus Christ, who is "Jehovah our 
righteousness." Law and gospel, faith and works, 
Christ's righteousness and our own, grace and debt, 
do equally divide all in this matter. Crafty men may 
endeavour to blend and mix these things together in 
justification, but it is a vain attempt. It is not only 
most expressly rejected in the gospel, which peremp- 
torily determines the contrariety, inconsistency, and 
incompatibility betwixt these two ; but the nature of 
the things in themselves, and the sense and con- 
science of every serious person, do witness to the 
same, that our own righteousness, and Christ's right- 
eousness, do comprehend all the pleas of men to jus- 
tification (one or other of them every man in the 
world stands upon) ; and that they are inconsistent 
with, and destructive one of another, in justification. 
If a man trusts to his own righteousness, he rejects 
Christ's ; if he trusts to Christ's righteousness, he re- 
jects his own. If he will not reject his own right- 
eousness, as too good to be renounced, if he will not 
venture on Christ's righteousness, as not sufficient 
alone to bear him out, and bring him safe off at God's 
bar, he is in both a convicted unbeliever. And if he 


endeavour to patch up a righteousness before God, 
made up of both, he is still under the law, and a des- 
piser of gospel-grace, (Gal. ii. 21). That righteous- 
ness that justifies a sinner, consists in aliquo indivi- 
sibili, and this every man finds when the case is his 
own, and he serious about it. 

5. These different sentiments about justification, 
have been at all times managed with a special acri- 
mony. They that are for the righteousness of God 
by faith in Jesus Christ, look upon it as the only 
foundation of all their hopes for eternity, and there- 
fore cannot but be zealous for it. And the contrary 
side are as hot for their own righteousness, the most 
admired and adored Diana of proud mankind, as if 
it were an image fallen down from Jupiter ; when it 
is indeed the idol that was cast out of heaven with 
the devil, and which he hath ever since been so dili- 
gent to set up before sinful men to be worshipped, 
that he might bring them into the same condemna- 
tion with himself, for, by true sin and false righteous- 
ness he hath " deceived the whole world," (Rev. 
xii. 9). 

6. As the Holy Ghost speaking in the scriptures, 
is the supreme and infallible judge and determiner of 
all truth, so where he doth particularly, and on pur- 
pose, deliver any truth, there we are specially to at- 
tend and learn. And though, in most points of 
truth, he usually teacheth us by a bare authoritative 
narration, yet, in some points, which his infinite wis- 
dom foresaw special opposition to, he doth not only 
declare, but debate and determine the truth. And 
the instances are two especially. One is about the 
divinity of Christ's person, and dignity of his priest- 
hood; reasoned, argued, and determined, in the 


epistle to the Hebrews. The other is about justifica- 
tion by faith, exactly handled in the epistles to the 
Romans and to the Galatians. In the former of 
these two, the doctrine of free justification is taught 
us most formally and accurately. And though we 
find no charge against that church in Paul's time, or 
in his epistle for their departing from the truth in 
this point ; yet the wisdom of the Holy Ghost is re- 
markable in this, that this doctrine should be so 
plainly asserted, and strongly proved, in an epistle to 
that church, the pretended successors whereof have 
apostatized from that faith, and proved the main as- 
sertors of that damnable error of justification by 
works. That to the Galatians is plainly written, to 
cure a begun, and obviate a full apostasy from the 
purity of the gospel, in the point of justification by 
faith, without the works of the law. And from 
these two epistles, if we be wise, we must learn the 
truth of this doctrine, and expound all other scrip- 
tures, in a harmony with what is there so setly de- 
termined, as in foro contradictorio. 

7. Lastly, It is not to be denied, or concealed, 
that on each side, some have run into extremes, 
which the generality do not own, but are usually 
loaded with. The Papists run high for justification 
by works, yet even some of them, in the Council of 
Trent, discoursed very favourably of justification by 
faith. The Arminians have qualified a little the 
grossness of the Popish doctrine in this article, and 
some since have essayed to qualify that of the Ar- 
minians, and to plead the same cause more finely. 
Again, some have run into the other extreme, as ap- 
peared in Germany a little after the Reformation, 
and some such there have been always, and in all 


places where the gospel hath sinned, and these were 
called Antinomians. Eut how unjustly this hateful 
name is charged upon the orthodox preachers and 
sincere believers of the Protestant doctrine of justifi- 
cation by faith only, who keep the gospel-niidst be- 
twixt these two rocks, is the design of this paper to 
<liscover. What we plead for, is in sum, that Jesus 
Christ our Saviour is "the fountain opened in the 
house of David for sin and for uncleanness," wherein 
only men can be washed in justification and sanctifi- 
cation, and that there" is no other fountain of man's 
devising, nor of God's declaring, for washing a sin- 
ner first, so as to make him fit and meet to come to 
this, to wash, and to be clean. 

As for inherent holiness, is it not sufficiently se- 
cured by the Spirit of Christ received by faith, the 
certain spring and cause of it : by the word of God, 
the plain and perfect rule of it, by the declared ne- 
cessity of it to all them that look to be saved, and to 
justify the sincerity of a man's faith, unless w^e bring 
it in to justification, and thereby make our own piti- 
ful holiness sit on the throne of judgment, with the 
precious blood of the Lamb of God 1 

Though I expect that a more able hand will un- 
dertake an examination of the new divinity ; yet, to 
fill up a little room, I would speak somewhat to their 
Achillean argument, that is so much boasted of, and 
so frequently insisted on by them, as their shield and 
spear. Their argument is this, that Christ's right- 
eousness is our legal righteousness, but our own is our 
evangelical righteousness ; that is, when a sinner is 
charged with sin against the holy law of God, he may 
oppose Christ's righteousness as his legal defence; 
but against the charge of the gospel, especially for 



unbelief, lie must produce his faith, as his defence or 
righteousness against that charge. 

With a great deference to such worthy divines as 
have looked on this as an argument of weight, I shall, 
in a few words, essay to manifest that this is either il 
saying the same in other odd words, that is com- 
monly taught by us, or a sophism, or a departing 
from the Protestant doctrine about justification. 

1. This argument concerns not at all the justifica- 
tion of a sinner before God. For this end, no more is 
needful, than to consider what this charge is, against 
whom it is given, and by whom. The charge is said 
to be given in by God, and a charge of unbelief, or 
disobeying the gospel. But against whom? Is it 
against a believer or unbeliever 1 and these two di- 
vide all mankind. If it be against a believer, it is a 
false charge, and can never be given in by the God 
of truth. For the believer is justified already by 
faith, and as to this charge he is innocent. And 
innocence is defence enough to a man falsely charged, 
before a righteous judge. Is this charge given in 
against an unbeliever "? Yie allow it is a righteous 
charge. Ay, but say they, " Will Christ's righteous- 
ness justify a man from this charge of gospel-unbe- 
lief?" The answer is plain. No, it will not, nor yet 
from any other charge whatsoever, either from law 
or gospel ; for he hath nothing to do with Christ's 
rip'hteousness while an unbeliever. What then doth 
this arguing reprove ? Is it, that no man's faith in 
Christ's righteousness can be justified in its sincerity 
before men, and in a man's own conscience, but in and 
by the fruits of a true lively faith ? In this they have 
no opposers that I know of. Or is it, that a man 
mny have Christ's righteousness for his legal right- 


eousness, and yet be a rebel to tlie gospel, and a stran- 
ger to true holiness ? Who ever affirmed it 1 Or is 
it, that this gospel-holiness is that which a man must 
not only have (for that we grant), but also may ven- 
ture to stand in, and to be found in before God, and 
to venture into judgment with God upon, in his claim 
to eternal life? Then we must oppose them that 
think so, as we know their own consciences will when 
in any lively exercise. These plain principles of gos- 
pel-truth, while they remain, (and remain they will 
on their own foundation, when we are all in our 
graves, and our foolish contentions are buried), do 
overthrow this pretended charge. 1. That Christ's 
righteousness is the only plea and answer of a sinner 
arraigned at God's bar for life and death. 2. This 
righteousness is imputed to no man but a believer. 
3. When it is imputed by grace, and applied by faith, 
it immediately and eternally becomes the man's 
righteousness, before God, angels, men, and devils, 
(Rom. viii. 33, 35, 38, 39). It is a righteousness that 
is never lost, never taken away, never ineffectual; 
answereth all charges, and is attended with all graces. 
2. I would ask, what is tliat righteousness that 
justifies a man from the sin of unbelief? We have 
rejected the imaginary charge, let us now consider 
the real sin. Unbelief is the greatest sin against both 
law and gospel ; more remotely against the law, 
which binds all men to believe God speaking, say 
what he will ; more directly against the gospel, which 
tells us what we should believe, and commands us to 
believe. Let us put this case, (and it is pity the case 
is so rare, when the sin is so common), that a poor 
soul is troubled about the greatness of the sin of un- 
belief, in " calling God a liar," (1 John, v. 10), ia 


tUstrustino- his faithful promise, in doubting Christ's 
ability and good will to save, in standing aloof so long 
from Jesus Christ ; as many of the elect are long in 
a state of unbelief till called ; and the best of believ- 
ers have unbelief in some measure in them, (Mark ix. 
24). Abraham's faith staggered sometimes, (Gen. xii. 
and xx). What shall we say to a conscience thus 
troubled 1 Will any man dare to tell him, that 
Christ's righteousness is his legal righteousness against 
the charge of sins against the law ; but for gospel- 
<3harges, he must answer them in his own name ? I 
know our hottest opposers would abhor such an an- 
swer ; and would freely tell such a man, that the 
blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin : and that 
his justification from his unbelief must be only in that 
righteousness which he so sinfully had rejected while 
in unbelief, and now lays hold on by faith. 

3. But some extend this argument yet more dan- 
gerously ; for they say, That not only men must have 
their faith for their righteousness against the charge 
of unbelief, but repentance against the charge of im- 
penitence, sincerity against that of hypocrisy, holi- 
Hness against that of unholiness, and perseverance as 
their gospel- righteousness, against the charge of apos- 
tasy. If they mean only, that these things are justi- 
iications and fruits of true faith, and of the sincerity of 
the grace of God in us; we do agree to the meaning; 
but highly dislike the expressions, as unscriptural and 
dangerous, tending to the dishonouring of the right- 
eousness of Christ, and to run men on the rocks of 
pride and self-righteousness, that natural corruption 
drives all men upon. But if they mean that, either 
jointly or separately, they are our righteousness be- 
fore God; or that, either separate from, or mixed with 


Christ's righteousness, they may be made our chiim 
and plea for salvation ; I must say, that it is danger- 
ous doctrine ; and its native tendency is, to turn 
Christ's imputed righteousness out of the church, t(» 
destroy all the solid peace of believers, and to exclude 
gospel-justification out of this world, and reserve it 
to another, and that with a horrible uncertainty of 
any particular man's partaking of it. But these bless- 
ed truths of God, and blessings of believers, stand on 
firmer foundations than heaven or earth, and will 
continue fixed against all the attempts of the gates of 
hell. Blessed be the rock, Christ, on which all is 
built ; blessed be the new covenant, " ordered in all 
things and sure ;" and " blessed is he that believeth : 
for there shall be a performance of those things whicii 
are told him from the Lord," (Luke, i. 45.) Amen. 

London, Sept. 1. 1691 





*' For our God is a consuming fire." — Heb. xii. 29. 

THE transgression of the wicked saith, within the 
heart of every man to whom God hath given 
spiritual understanding, that there is no fear of God 
before their eyes. The formal and fearless approaches 
unto the Lord in all his ordinances, which have 
now become so common among professors, ought 
to say to us, that they have but little of this fear. 
The beginning, yea, the whole of religion, consisting 
in a great measure in this holy fear, and being deno- 
minated from it frequently in scripture, it cannot 
but be a sad evidence of the decay of religion, when 
this fear is so evidently wanting or weak : and there- 
fore, to be exercised a little (if we would in the right 
manner) in the consideration of this matter, as it is 
at all times suitable to them to whom the vitals of 
religion are savoury, so, in a special manner it is per- 
tinent for those, who have the solemn ordinance en- 
suing* in their eye and aim. 

There are three false grounds upon which Satan 
and our ovv^n corrupt hearts are ready to plead against 

* We find in the margin of the original MS., that this sermon 
was preached April 22, 1GG9, on the Thursday before the adminis- 
tration of th.e Sacrament, ■ Wo learn also in the same note, that thia 
was the first discom-se which the author preached in London. 


lliis SO precious and necessary a grace, and the exercise 
of it. The first is more gross, yet such as carries 
away thousands to destruction ; that is — an appre- 
liension that God is all mercy and goodness. It is 
true his mercy and goodness are infinite ; and yet, so 
is his justice. We shall not stand to shew either the 
grounds and reasons of this woful mistake, or to dis- 
cover it largely ; it is enough that it is here removed, 
by the Holy Ghost declaring somewhat of the terri- 
ble majesty of God, in a figurative expression. The 
second is — some think that the New Testament dis- 
pensation doth not so require the fear and dread of 
God, as the Old Testament did, as it did also then more 
manifest his dreadfulness, both at the giving of the 
Law, and in his punishments, sometimes extraordi- 
nary, for the breaches of it ; but under the New 
Testament, he manifesteth his mercy, and calleth for 
love. The scope of the Apostle in bringing in this 
word, doth evidently obviate the mistake of this : for 
from the 18th verse to the end, he instituteth a com- 
parison, and stateth the diff'erences between the two 
dispensations ; and in the preceding verse, doth draw 
a conclusion, from all the love and mercy revealed in 
the gospel, which is the worship with fear ; and backs 
it vdth the argument in this our text. The third 
ground of mistake may be — granting the dreadfulness 
of God in himself, and in the New Testament dispen- 
sation also ; yet, that a saving interest in this God, as 
ours in Christ, doth remove all this dreadfulness, and 
calls for nothing but love, and delight, and familia- 
rity. This ground of mistake the Holy Ghost ob- 
viates, by declaring, that even "our God," our cove- 
nanted God, is a " consuming fire." 

This word then containeth a very weighty declara- 


tion of the dreadfulness of God, under the borrowed 
term of " a consuming- fire." It is the gracious con- 
descending way of the Holy Ghost, in scripture, to 
speak of God according to our capacities, and to ma- 
nifest him by such names and descriptions as may 
convey to our understandings some sense and know- 
ledge of him. By this word, then, we are to under- 
stand, that as tire, and a consuming fire, is a dreadful 
creature, so when the name of it is ascribed unto 
God, we are to take notice of his dreadful and terri- 
ble nature and majesty. 

The words then being plain, we shall not stand to 
start and raise questions and difficulties from them.. 
We have then these instructions from them : 

Obser. 1. The Lord Jehovah is a most dreadful and 
terrible God : Obs. 2. And that as He is so in him- 
self, so this attribute of his doth still continue, 
notwithstanding of a saving and covenant relation 
unto him. Both these are in the words themselves. 
Obs. 3. This truth hath a great influence, as a mo- 
tive and argument, upon our serving of him with 
reverence and godly fear. The connecting word " for' 
beareth this. 

As to the first, — The dreadfulness of God in himself 
— we may well say of this subject, as Jacob of that 
place, " How dreadful is it!" Much of the dread 
of it upon the heart, would enable us to speak and 
hear of it to better purpose than otherwise we do. 
Wo shall not prosecute it as a common-place, or 
multiply notions concerning it ; but would plainly and 
briefly make it clear from the word. And as the 
metaphor here doth evidently point out a relation to 
some object which, as fuel, is in hazard of being de- 
voured by this consuming fire, so, in speaking of this 

HEBREWS XII. 29. 201 

terribleness of God, we shall prosecute it as relating 
to us. Consider him then, 1st, As in himself; 2d, 
In his works ; 3d, In his ordinances. 

First, Although every thing in God, (if we may- 
use the phrase, nothing being in him which is not 
himself:) every attribute of God doth demonstrate 
this, we shall name but a few : 

1. Consider his incommunicable attributes, which 
paint forth somewhat of his nature and being — his 
infiniteness, absolute sovereignty, eternity, independen- 
cy, and inexpressible glory — and we, poor, finite, depen- 
dent beings, at the next door to nothing, lately brought 
out of nothing by his infinite power, and by the same 
every moment preserved from returning into it. This 
infinite distance betwixt him and us, will work dread 
in every considerate soul. It is a great wonder, that 
the whole frame of nature is not swallowed up by the 
glory of his majesty. Upon account of this, Abra- 
ham dreads to speak unto him : upon this account, 
the angels in a holy dread cover their faces ; and Job, 
upon a discovery of this, abhors himself in dust and 
ashes : from this it is, that no man can see God and 
live ; that is to say, a discovery of God in his majes- 
ty, is enough to confound a creature into nothing. 
" No man hath seen him at any time," saith he who 
is God — the Holy Ghost. This his glory is light 
inaccessible. " Whom no man hath seen, nor can 
see" — a strange word ! Light is that which manifest- 
eth every thing, and yet, it is a cover unto God from 
the eyes of all creatures. 

2. Consider the holiness of his nature. " Holy, 
holy, holy !" (Isa. vi. ; Eev. iv.) : " Thou only art 
holy," (Rev. xv. 4). And therefore we, by the un- 
holiness and vileness of our nature, our hearts, and 


lives, are upon tins account as stubble fully dry 
before liim. Is it not a wonder then that He, who 
is of purer eyes than that he can behold iniquity, 
doth not every moment consume us who drink up 
iniquity as water ? Kow can a sinner, then, not fear ? 

3. Consider this dreadful and holy One as sitting 
in judgment, and exercising his justice in making 
laws, and giving sentence against the breakers there- 
of. " His eyes behold the things that are equal : he 
sitteth in the throne, judging right." And here we 
are to be considered as breakers of his laws from the 
womb to the ffrave. Oh ! how dreadful is this attri- 
bute of God ! and how stupid must senseless hearts be ! 

4. And as this holy just One pronounceth right- 
eous sentences, so there cometh next to be considered 
his infinite truth in accomplishing, and his irresis- 
tible power in executing them. No creature can, 
either by subtlety or strength, escape His hand. 

Secondly, Consider the dreadfulness of this God 
in his works. The very sight of the glory of the 
heavens and earth — of the frame of nature, every 
way admirable — of 'his ordinary and extraordinary 
works — ought to stir in us a dread of this God : his 
ordering of all creatures, his accomplishing of all hi 3 
purposes, his maintaining of this All — his sovereirn 
distributing of blessedness and misery to men and 
angels, according to his wise decrees. Heaven and 
hell are dreadful things, and should awaken our 
hearts to greater fear. 

Thirdly, But to come nearer to our present work. 
How much of his dreadful glory is to be seen in his 
church, and ordinances in dispensing of them, and 
the blessing or curse of them. He is terrible out of 
his holy places, (Psalm Ixviii. 35 ; Gen. xxviii. 17). 

HEBREWS XII. 29. 203 

In his ordinances this consuming fire dra-^ivs near 
to us, and we to him, though Tvith offers of mercy 
jind salvation ; yet to abusers there is a certain fear- 
ful looking-for of judgment and fiei-y indignation, 
■which shall devour the adversaries. In prayer, we 
speak to him. Abraham., and Moses, and Jacob, — 
with what fear are they in this duty ! The prophets be- 
gin with this, " Thus saith the Lord," to strike secure 
hearts with some awe of their Master. Here we 
hear him speaking to us. Do we communicate ? — 
Damnation, judgment, and wrath are then to stir us 
up to a careful, heedful way of performing that duty. 

But it may be said that all this is true ; but we, 
who have a saving interest in this God, need not en- 
tertain such impressions. I answer, Happy indeed 
are they who upon good grounds can say so ! Such, 
indeed, ought not to fear to be ever actually destroyed 
by this consuming fire. But yet there is a fear called 
for from such, and this leads us to the second note. 

Obser. 2. Even God in covenant with his own is 
a dreadful God, (Deut. xxviii. 58). We find such in 
scripture entertain the most deep impressions of his 
terribleness ; and that is, 1st, Because only such do 
know him, and none can know him but they must 
fear him. It is a most native effect of a discovery 
of God, to have a holy dread and fear of him. " Men 
do therefore fear him," (Job xxxvii. 24). Surely 
the want of fear floweth from ignorance. 2d, The 
Lord, though in covenant with his people, is still the 
same God, and in him are all those things which 
move holy fear. It is true that his justice having 
received satisfaction from their Surety, shall never 
break out against them to destroy them ; and that, 
upon the account of their covenant-relation unto 


him, they may with comfort and delight travel 
through all the attributes of God, even such as are 
most terrifying. Yet, notwithstanding of all this. 
all those things are still in our covenanted God, 
which are the grounds of fear and reverence. 3d, 
And as He is still the same, so we are but very little 
changed, and there is but a little of that removed 
that lays us open to destruction from this consuming 
fire. It is true that there is a change in the state 
of believers in their justification and adoption, which 
is a begun change in their natures in sanctification ; 
yet still they are creatures — still there is much un- 
holiness in their hearts and lives, and all sin in itself 
is equally hateful to God, and contrary to his holy 
nature ; still they are under his holy law, and bound 
to obedience, though not as a covenant of life, yet 
as the rule of their life ; still they are in hazard 
of his anger (though not as an unappeased enemy, 
yet as an offended father), and of the fruits of it, 
upon their breaking of his laws. 4th, The expe- 
rience of the Lord's people who have felt somewhat 
of the wrath of God upon their own hearts for sin 
doth prove this, and calleth for fear. Not only at 
first conversion, when by a mighty hand He makes 
a conquest of them, the design whereof, though it 
be great mercy and salvation in his heart, yet his 
way of managing it towards many proclaim eth that 
anger in his face, and strokes in his hand ; but after 
conversion, many experiences have the saints of the 
dreadfulness of God. It was so eminently with 
David, (Psalm cii. and li. 5). The saints have some 
attributes of God to move fear and dread, which 
others have not : his goodness, love, pardoning and 
healing mercy, the manifestations of that love and 

HEBREWS XII. 29. 205 

mercy (Hos. iii. 5, Psalm cxxx. 4), — unto a consi- 
derate soul, how ready are these to stir up holy fear 
and dread ! 

The application and use of this doctrine the Holy 
Ghost here maketh, which is our third note. 

Obser. 3. The dreadfulness of God ought to enforce 
a reverent and holy fearful way of serving him. This 
is evidently the scope of the Holy Ghost, in bringing 
in this reason to back the former exhortation. So 
Psalm ii. 11, " Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice 
with trembling ;" and, in the next verse, it is backed 
Avith the same argument ; because there is burning 
wrath in him, gross sinners are in hazard of being 
destroyed; and this is said to be in the Son, the 

And in general, this sense of the dreadfulness of 
God, calleth for these three things in our way of serv- 
ing him. 

1. In all our approaches to him, and in all His 
approaches to us in his word or works, to have, and 
keep up upon the heart, a due deep sense of the in- 
finite distance that there is betwixt him and us ; and 
of his glory and majesty, and our vileness and no- 
thingness. We find frequently in Scripture, that the 
more near the Lord did draw to his people, even in 
gracious communications of himself, the more of this 
was upon their hearts. How did the Lord's conde- 
scension to Abraham humble him 1 How did his 
merciful proclaiming of his name to Moses humble 
him 1 So was it with David, (2 Sam. vii. 18). Have 
a care that you forget not yourself, when he admit- 
teth you to nearness to himself. 

2. A second general observation in our way of serv- 
ino- of him, which this dread should stir us up unto, 


is, always to approach unto him, and converse with 
him, in the Mediator. Without this, there is no 
possible escaping of being consumed in our approaches 
unto him. This is a blessed act of holy fear, and is 
of great concernment unto our safety. Not only in 
our first reconciliation with God we must have Christ 
with us, but we are to abide in him ; to put him on 
as our apparel, as our armour to defend from wrath ; 
and always to dwell in him, and to have him dwell- 
ing in us. 

3. In all your worship and walk, beware especially 
of sin. This is the very throwing of ourselves into 
this fire. It is sin which mainly makes us as fuel 
before this fire : it is upon the account of sin that 
ever the Lord did break out, to destroy and consume 

But before we come to the more particular appli- 
cation of those truths, we would obviate some objec- 
tions that may arise in the heart against them, the 
clearing whereof may give some light and under- 
standing in the matter in hand. 

First, It may be said, that this is legal doctrine, 
and inconsistent with that boldness in approaching 
unto God, which is allowed unto his own. To this I 

1. It cannot be denied but that such is the weak- 
ness and infirmity of the Lord's people, that it is 
hard for them to distinguish the boundaries betwixt 
some graces in their actings ; so that when the love 
and favour of God are borne in with power upon 
their hearts, to the filling of them with joy, it is no 
easy matter to keep up holy fear in exercise ; and 
when his holiness and majesty are manifested, it is 
hard not to find some abating of love and delight. 

HEBREWS XII. 29. 207 

But this floweth from our own infirmity and weak- 
ness, and not from any opposition betwixt these two 
graces. And the infirmity wliich is the cause of this, 
is twofold : First, The infirmity of grace, and the 
weakness of the new man even in the best ; and their 
having the old man in some vigour and power yet 
remaining. This, as it keepeth the best from such 
an intense and vigorous acting of any grace as is 
called for, so it disposeth them, to make different 
graces to clash one against the other. To instance it in 
the particular in hand — when the Lord by the breath- 
ing of his Spirit, and the manifestation of himself, 
doth draw out the soul to act the grace of holy fear 
and dread of God, unbelief, which in some measure 
remaineth with the best, is very ready to render that 
prejudicial to the acting of faith and love, by misap- 
plying of the discovery of his dreadfulness, unto the 
stirring up of a doubt of his love and favour unto 
such vile ones as we are. And on the other hand, 
when he draweth near to fence the soul with conso- 
lations, and the sense of his favour, it is ready to for- 
get itself, and the sense of his greatness — which 
greatness and majesty of his, though they be nothing 
abated by his gracious condescension to the soul, yet 
is the soul ready to esteem it so, because in a great 
measure even the best are ignorant of God. And 
therefore it is no wonder, since the best find such a 
difficulty in reconciling in their thoughts these attri- 
butes of God, which to our shallow understanding- 
seem different — as his justice and mercy, majesty and 
love — that it should also be very hard not to make 
these graces clash together which act upon these dif- 
ferent objects — the attributes of God. But, secondly. 


The infirmity and weakness of our very constitutions 
have some influence upon tliis ; for the graces of tlie 
Spirit being seated in our souls, and in the actings of 
them the powers and aff*ections of the soul being in- 
creased, it is no wonder, since our souls are not capa- 
ble of acting strongly with different affections, nor 
able to entertain an impression of fear and dread in 
an intense degree, which is not prejudicial unto that 
of love and joy, — that even upon this account, we are 
in hazard of making the actings of different graces 
prejudicial, and in a manner opposite unto one an- 
other. But we shall not stand on this. 

I answer, 2. That there is no such fear of God 
called for from the doctrine of his majesty rightly 
understood, as is any way legal, or opposite unto 
faith and love : for it is deep heart-reverence and 
holy awe that are called for, whicli, as we find in 
some measure in the kindly affections of children to 
their parents, is very well consistent with love, and 
trusting them with the care of all their movements. 
So also is it very well consistent in the Lord's people 
with faith in, and love unto him. And therefore, 
when we read of the fear and fearers of God in scrip- 
ture, we are not to take it, as holding forth that pas- 
sion of fear which is an apprehension of some ill com- 
ing ; but rather, this reverence and holy awe, which 
may be, where there is no fear of wrath as coming. 
And so, here, the serving of him acceptably, with re- 
verence and godly fear, upon the account of his be- 
ing a consuming fire, though the exhortation, as it 
concerns the visible church, ought not to be taken as 
exclusive of the fear of consuming by him ; (since 
m;iny in the church are enemies to God, and so, are 

HEBREWS XII. 29. 209 

commanded to fear that, as a mean to make them 
submit unto him:) yet, as it is an argument pressing 
the regenerate to reverent service of God, (which is 
the scope of the Holy Ghost here,) it imports no 
ground of such an unbelieving fear, in them who have 
fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before 

3. I answer — ^That though these things, reverence 
and love, be not inconsistent, yet are we at some 
times, and in some cases, called more to the exercise of 
the one than of the other : so that as a disconsolate 
soul is warranted to be more in the meditation of the 
mercy, and love, and condescension of God, that 
thereby the heart may be stirred up to act faith and 
love, for the removing of that distemper ; so, a se- 
cure and backslidden saint, is called in such a condi- 
tion, to the meditation of God's holiness, majesty, and 
hatred of sin, that thereby he may be stirred up un- 
to repentance, and returning to God. Not but that 
there is much need of the anointing which washeth 
all things, to instruct us in the way of duty here ; nor 
that the Lord doth not sometimes recover backslid- 
den souls, (as at first he occasionally converts some,) 
by a sovereign merciful leading by the bands of love. 
But we find this the Lord's ordinary way in scrip- 
ture of dealing with his people, of mixing threaten- 
ings with promises, and manifestations of his holiness 
and justice with those of his mercy ; and thus, to dis- 
tribute to every one their portion. And according 
to this is his ordinary method with his own, as their 
experience can testify. 

But that we may also answer an objection which 
may be in the heart, though not avowed — it may be 
said, That there are not now such proofs of the dread- 



fulness of God in his dispensations, as were formerly 
in the Old Testament, when many immediate judg- 
ments were poured out upon sinners. 

I answer, 1. Look by faith down to hell, and all 
such objections would for ever evanish. 2. The Old 
Testament dispensation of the gospel was administered 
more in external encouragements and punishments, 
and the New Testament in spiritual ones ; and as the 
one are more choice and merciful, so the other are 
more terrible. And if we shall compare the one witli 
the other, we shall find, that it is no less dreadful to 
approach unto God in the New Testament ordinances, 
than it was in those of the Old Testament. Look to 
the Popish church accursed, or the dreadful spiri- 
tual plagues that fall on thousands within the Re- 
formed churches, and we shall be forced to say, with 
the Bethshemites, " Who is able to stand before this 
holy Lord God r' 

But now, to draw some practical conclusions, for a 
more particular application of all this : 

1. We see what a doleful condition those are in, 
who are not in Christ, and have no saving interest in 
this dreadful God. His holy nature makes him hate 
them; his justice pronounceth sentence against them ; 
his truth and power execute it. Every moment's 
breath they draw is from his patience. They are 
as dry stubble before this consuming fire. Oh, if it 
were but believed, what work upon hearts would it 
raise ! 

2. And as it is thus with them, so we should learn 
to lament over the sins of the Church of God in these 
days ; and over our own hearts, wherein are such evi- 
dent tokens of the want of, or at best of the weakness, 
of this holy dread. I shall name onlysome plain proofs 

HEBREWS XII. 29. 211 

of it, wliich as tliey flow from the want of the due im- 
pression of his dreadfulness, so, wliere it is, they 
are in a great measure removed — which may both 
make this grace of fear more desirable, and the want 
of it more hateful. 

1. From this floweth, as a sad proof, the disorderly 
loose walk of the greatest number of professors. 
How many fools are there now who make a sport of 
sin ? And what is this, but to sport with a consum- 
ing fire ? Strict walking with God, keeping up a 
watch over the heart, ordering the tongue in sa- 
voury and edifying discourse, accurate, exact, and 
circumspect walking, are reduced into notions by the 
far greater part. And whence floweth all this, but 
from ignorance of Him with whom we have to do ? 
How rare is the power of religion, and the shining of 
it, in the conversations of Christians ! 

2. Consider the manner of worship of many, and 
examine your own. When many come to pray, they 
rush irreverently unto the work, and carry themselves 
so in it as if they were coming to present a compli- 
ment, or, at best, to discourse with a man like them- 
selves. How rare is it to feel the heart deeply 
pressed with the sense of that dreadful majesty to 
whom they make the address ! Come they to hear 
the word ? Many carry themselves as if their only 
errand were to get a proof of the parts and gifts of 
the speaker, or to get more brain-knowlcdgo, that they 
may be more qualified to talk of the matters of God. 
And oh ! how few who take heed how they hear, — ■ 
who come to get a message delivered to thorn from 
the living God, and who tremble at the word 1 And 
all this Cometh from the want of the due fear of 
God, who in that ordinance speaks to them. How 


do many approach unto God in the sealing* ordi- 
nance ? Holy fear of receiving unworthily, and the 
dreadful plagues that follow upon it ; preparation 
made conscience of, is not every one's exercise that 
sitteth down at that holy table. And this floweth 
from the want of the due impression of this, that it 
is one of the most solemn approaches that the Lord 
maketh to us, and that we make unto him. If the 
fear of taking his name in vain in that ordinance 
were upon the heart, there would be seen another 
sort of work in preparing for it than is commonly to 
be seen. 

3. And in as far as heart-exercise may be guessed 
at, by the manner of walking and of worshipping God, 
we may lament that in all appearance this is in a 
great measure gone, and all because of the want of 
the due fear of God. And in reference to this, I 
would only pose you with these questions, and let the 
conscience of every one answer them to the Lord, 
who speaketh to them from heaven. 1. What find you 
of a constant care of keeping up constant commu- 
nion with God, walking as in his sight, taking his 
law for your rule in all your ways 1 If this be gone, 
you are at a great loss : Herein lies a great part of 
the lively exercise of religion. Take you godliness 
to be no more than an outwardly blameless conver- 
sation and frequenting of the ordinances ? This is a 
gross mistake. 2. If you have convictions of your 
shortcoming, what do you with them 1 Do you quench 
or entertain them ? Surely the security and sleeping 
of many, even within the reach of this consuming 
fire, doth proclaim that there is little fear of him : 
fear would set us to our feet, and make us haste to 
escape. 3. Wherewith do you entertain your affec- 

HEBREWS XII. 29. 213 

tions throughout the day ? What is it that hath the 
flower of your thoughts in the morning, and the last 
at night ? Is it God 1 or somewhat which you would 
be ashamed to name to a man like yourself? How 
can the fear of God be in that man, we may say, as 
John of the love of God in another place. 

Use. — Since, then, it is so that the want of this 
due impression of the majesty of God is so evident, 
and bringeth forth such sad fruits, it is exceedingly 
of your concernment to endeavour to have this, as 
you tender the welfare of your souls, — as you would 
grow up in his way, and bring forth fruit to his 
praise. They must be at a sad pass who desire not 
this. And as you would have these deep impressions 
of the majesty of God, 

1. Strive for the knowledge of him. It is the 
ignorance of God that is the most universal cause of 
all the sin and misery in the world, and in the church. 
It is a hard matter to convince many of their igno- 
rance of God ; and why 1 Because they can answer 
some questions anent his nature, and the persons, and 
anent his attributes. And yet they demonstrate their 
ignorance by their want of fear in their walk and 
worship, for it is impossible to separate the know- 
ledge and fear of God. 

2. Remember that both are promised in the well- 
ordered covenant, and therefore it is your part to 
plead those gracious promises (Jer. xxxi. and xxxii. ; 
Ezek. xxxvi.), and patiently and believingly wait for 
the accomplishment of them. 

3. Converse much in the serious meditation of 
him, — a duty which of all is the most clear token of 
a lively serious Christian, \yhat wonder is it to see 


one fearless of God, who doth rush on in his course, 
as the horse doth into the battle ? But let a man set 
aside some time every day, or in the silent watches 
of the night, to muse and think again and again of 
God, and of what is revealed of him in his word and 
works, and let the heart be exercised therein, and 
you will find light and life flowing in upon your soul ; 
you will find the holy fear of that glorious One quick- 
ening your soul. 

4. Beware of every thing which hardeneth your 
heart against his fear ; not only all sin in the gene- 
ral; but those things in particular which you find in 
experience most to influence your hearts to stupidity. 
Every soul exercised in searching himself will know 
what is his own iniquity. 

And in all, and with all, be sensible of the work 
being above your own strength ; and that, though 
you be called to some views of duty, in reference to 
the obtaining of this fear of God, yet this is only to 
put you in God's way wherein he ordinarily meetetli 
his own. But you must be endued with power from 
on high : there must be an impress of his own hand 
upon your heart, to bring out this grace to exercise. 
Pant, therefore, for it, and wait on him, and he will 
manifest his glory unto you, and stir up this holy fear 
in you. 




" Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant 
of us, and Israel acknowledge us not : thou, Lord, art our Fa- 
ther, our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting." — Isa, Ixiii. IG. 

ISAIAH, by the spii-it of prophecy, foreseeing the 
wofiil captivity that was to come not many years 
after his death, is here anticipating the due exercise 
of the godly under it, and wrestling with God for the 
removal of his wrath, and returning of his merciful 
favour towards them. His prayer is most fervent 
(ver. 15), and in this is an argument made use of for 
pressing the same. The verse contains a confident 
asserting of God's special interest in that people, even 
in the view of a formidable-like objection ; for un- 
derstanding whereof, we are to canvass two senses put 
upon the words. One is, that this hints at the saints 
in heaven, — their ignorance of what is done below, 
and how it fareth with God's church. This is ordi- 
narily in this sense used for refuting the fond founda- 
tion of prayer to saints in heaven, from their alleged 
particular knowledge of the state of those on earth ; 
the falsehood of which doctrine, with that of its 
sandy foundation, may otherwise be solidly concluded, 
without the drawing of this scripture to a sense that 


doth not very natively agree with its scope and drift. 
The other sense, whieh we shall confirm, is this, — 
that the prophet here, in the name of the church, 
asserteth by faith a gracious interest in God, even 
when conscience convicteth of a sad unlikeness to 
their forefathers, to whom this relationship was first 
graciously granted, and in them to their seed. And 
that this, and not the other, is consonant to the 
place is evident, from the pertinency of this sense 
unto the scope, and the necessity of drawing the 
other to any convenient sense by some force ; for 
what sense can the latter part have commodiously as 
an objection against their faith, that they are not 
acknowledged by Israel ? But the conviction of un- 
likeness to their predecessors in their grace and act- 
ings for God, is a strong and forcible objection, which 
nothing but a strong faith well managed can over- 
come. This sense ao^reeth with the acknowledo^- 
ments of guilt made before and immediately after 
(ver. 17). 

Or we may take both as hinted, and containing 
this sense: 1. "Thou art our Father; though the 
worthies with whom thou enteredst first into cove- 
nant, and who were faithful therein, are now igno- 
rant and unmindful of us, yet the relation between 
thee and us stands ;" 2. " And though they, if they 
were alive and saw us, would disown us as their 
children, because of our great unlikeness to them." 
(See John viii. 39, 40.) And since the two words of 
" ignorance" and " not acknowledging of them" give 
some ground for this larger sense, we shall take it. 

In the verse there is, 1. A confident assertion of 
an interest in God as our Father, made by the pro- 
phet in his own name and in that of the people of 

ISAIAH LXIII. 16. 217 

God. 2. The objections in the said passage, whereof 
this assertion is owned, " Tliough our worthy fore- 
fathers be both ignorant of us, and if they knew us 
would disown us, for our unlikeness to them." 3. A 
returning to the former assertion of faith, with fur- 
ther enlargement and confirmation from this, — " Our 
Redeemer," and his " everlasting name." 

We shall briefly touch at something, from the 
general scope and connection of the words with the 
preceding and following. 

Observ. A special interest in God is a sufficient 
warrant for asking of him any suitable and needful 
blessing. If you ask the prophet's reason for his 
bold-like expostulation and prayers (ver. 15), his an- 
swer is here : " What wonder that children expect 
the sounding of their father's bowels toward them 
in distress r' (See Psalm xviii. 1, 2, 3, 6.) Christ's 
preface to the pattern of prayer hints this. 

We need not stand to shew what is a special in- 
terest in God, especially, being to speak of the nature 
of that particular expression of it which is here used. 
It is a covenant relation. But to prove and confirm 
you in the faith of this, is our first work. 

1. This special interest in God secures by promise 
and right all that is needful for his people ; nay, I 
may say, by begun possession ; for, 1st, He that hath 
an interest in God hath an interest in all blessings, 
for all are in him as the fountain, and all stream na- 
tively from him. He is all in all ; he alone makes 
up all wants, (Psalm Ixxiii. 26). 2d, This interest is 
yet further secured in all blessings, by the large pro- 
mises of that covenant whereof this interest in God 
is the main and fundamental article. 3d, And this 


is yet further secured by the infinite faithfulness and 
power of the Promiser. 

2. The Lord commands and allows this improve- 
ment of an interest in him, and commends it when 
done. He reveals himself in all his excellencies, that 
his people may live upon him, and giveth the pledge 
of his promises that they may live by them, and gain 
by trading on them. (See Jer. iii. 19.) 

Use. — 1. Then this interest is of exceeding value, 
since it is a relevant warrant for such pleadings. 
How would men value such an interest in a king as 
might warrant them to ask any thing within the com- 
pass of his limited power 1 If they that want it knew 
its value, they would not live without it ; and if they 
that have it knew it better, they would lead a better 
life, and a more comfortable. 

2. Labour to keep the faith of this clear, if you 
would be in a good case for prayer, and prevailing 
with God therein. I shall name now only this good 
lielp to keep the faith of an interest clear, and it is, 
a constant diligence in the study of walking suitably 
to an interest in him. Nay, suppose there were un- 
believing doubtings about our interest in him, yet 
this care of performing the duties lying on one wlio 
hath an interest, will be found a safe, ready, and 
speedy way for putting an end to such unbelieving 
debates. As, for instance, suppose thou question thy 
interest in God as thy Father, yet study to render 
liim that love, reverence, and obedience that a child 
oweth, and it will not be long a dispute with thee. 

Two things may be objected against this practice : 
one, against its lawfulness ; another,^ against the hope- 

ISAIAH LXIII. 16. 219 

fulness of its succeeding. And tliougli it may an- 
ticipate what is to be spoken on this purpose, yet it 
is not impertinent to the clearing up of this offered 
help, especially since we cannot reach the subject at 
this time. 

First, For its lawfulness. 1. Commands of God 
clear it up. Love, and fear, and all due obedience, 
are exacted lawfully and by divine authority of them 
that are not in a gracious relation to him. All that 
the godly ought to do by virtue of their gracious re- 
lation to God, the ungodly are under commands to 
<lo them also, though in the due order and method 
of divine prescription ; otherwise, want of an interest 
in God should be an excuse for the greatest part of 
the bold rebellions of sinners against God. 

2. Common relations to God exact, as due from 
men, the same dutiful behaviour towards God, which 
a more special interest hath a more effectual way of 
obliging the godly unto. And, therefore, we find the 
Lord pressing men to their duty from such common 
relations, and the godly making special use of such 
sometimes, when a more special interest hath been 
darkened, (Job x. 8, 9 ; Psalm cxix. 93) : sometimes 
in a holy delightful reckoning of all their relations 
to God ; for a wise believer looks on none of them as 
contemptible, (Psalm cxxxix. 14). 

Secondly, For its hopefulness of succeeding to the 
clearing up of a gracious interest in God, these things 
m.ake somewhat : 

1. That walking answerably unto a common rela- 
tion or an honest study thereof, can hardly be found 
in any who hath not a special interest in God. The 
Lord will have a fair quarrel even with them that 
have no other relation to him, but as he is their maker 


and maintainer, that they have not duly obeyed him, 
(Rom. i. 20, 21). 

2. Commonly the darkness of our knowledge of 
our special interest in God proceeds from the feeble- 
ness of our endeavours to answer the duties of such a 
relation, as the sad experience of many on the one 
hand dotli confirm it ; and, on the other, the experi- 
ences of the diligent hand testify, that it was the way 
to enrich them with assurance of their interest, as 
well as with the possession of other special blessings. 

In handling of the words, we shall first handle the 
objection that the prophet's faith triumphs over, in 
itself : and so, the order of our discourse shall be on 
these heads — 1. The deceased godly are unacquaint- 
ed with the state of the survivors. 2. The posterity 
of them whose privileges they enjoy, may be very un- 
like their predecessors. 3. Convictions of both may 
stand with a strong faith. 4. Assurance of a special 
interest in God may be attained by the people of God. 

Observ. 1. The godly deceased are ignorant of the 
state of the survivors. It is said of the wicked, that 
they know not the lot of their posterity, (Job xiv. 
21). Concerning the godly, the scripture speaks 
net expressly. But the truth of this may be con- 

1. From the silence of scripture about their know- 
ledge of afi'airs done below, which at least should limit 
the vanity of men in asserting the contrary as an ar- 
ticle of faith, especially, on so fond a foundation as 
that " glass of the Trinity" that the Papists talk of, 
wherein they behold such things, and for so idola- 
trous an end, as the giving them the worship due to 
God and Jesus Christ. 

2. It may be hinted and guessed at by their happy 

ISAIAH LXIII. 16. 221 

state, wherein they are settled. If the knowledge of 
the sins of others, especially of their relations and 
posterity, was so grievous to them when on earth, 
and encompassed with sin, how probable is it that 
this knowledge would be far more grievous to them, 
when perfectly sanctified 1 But if it be said, that 
sanctified and pure afi"ection would allay this grief, 
as it will in the day of judgment, when they see ven- 
geance executed on them ; the answer is, that the 
cases are not alike, since there is a diff*erence between 
sin, and acts of justice for it ; God's glory is in the 
one, and his dishonour in the other. 

3. This their ignorance may be concluded, from 
the probable incapacity they are at for knowing it. 
Their distance from, and want of converse with the 
inhabitants of the world, and the inability of the soal 
for attaining such knowledge without nearness and 
converse, may say more against it, than can be said 
for it ; for the alleging of any extraordinary mean 
of knowing, ought not to be produced without war- 
rant from the word, or sound reason deduced from 
thence. Hence it cannot be so denied of anoels, who 
are often about their Master's work on earth. 

4. This their ignorance of the state of survivors 
may be guessed at, by the impertinency and useless- 
ness of such a sort of knowledge. If it can be proved 
that such a knowledge is useless, there is good reason 
to deny it. Now, it cannot be useful to them, for 
their work and labour ceaseth, (Rev. xiv. 13) ; and 
so, interceding with God for the survivors, since it is 
evidently a labour, is not probably their exercise ; 
and unprofitable knowledge is not suited to their 
state. Yet to speak on such a dark subject with so- 
briety and moderation, without any peremptory de- 


termination, since the scripture's voice is not -pc- 
remptory therein, these things we offer to your 
thoughts : 

1. It is probable that what the saints knew when 
in life, of the state of the church and people of God, 
they remember in heaven, since it is unreasonable to 
think, that by the glorified state of the godly there 
is any impairment in their natural faculties, but ra- 
ther an increase. 

2. They know certainly, that they, and the rest of 
the people of God with them in heaven and on earth, 
are not yet full partakers of all the blessings that 
their Lord purchased for them ; and it is likely that 
they want not holy and happy desires of full faith, 
for the perfection thereof, both in themselves and 
others, and in vengeance on their enemies, (?ee 
Eev. vi. 9, 10) ; though it be not safe to build doc- 
trines peremptorily on such dark prophetic places, 
(see Rom. viii. 19, 22) ; albeit that also is a dark 

3. It is not improbable that the bright displaying 
of the glory of Christ's kingdom, in some eminent 
acts of mercy to his church, and judgment on his 
enemies, may be manifest to them, (See Rev. xviii. 
20, and xix. 1, 6, 8), and the way that this hastens 
the wished-for day of the Lord. But these are but 
conjectures, and as such I deliver them, leaving to 
every one a liberty to dissent according as they ap- 
prehend the foundation to be weak on which they 
are built. But the former grounds against any parti- 
cular knowledge of particular persons and states, have 
more solidity. 

XJsE. — 1. You that have relations whose special 
welfare you desire, labour noiv to know their state. 

ISAIAH LXIII. 16. 223 

and to be helpful to them ; for death will put you out 
of the reach of knowing how it is with them, or of 
helping them if you knew it. 

2. Then look upon your godly friends deceased as 
lost to you, as to any immediate usefulness; their 
example, and their precepts, and warnings, may still 
have force ; but as to them, you now stand on your 
own legs, and want the props of the help and com- 
forts of their sympathy. 

3. Then learn to lament the more the loss of podlv 
men. It is a gain to themselves, for they exchange 
earth for heaven ; a sort of gain to Jesus Christ (if 
we may so speak of him), who is our only gain in life 
and death, (Phil. i. 21), who gains a glorified holy 
member, for a sinful defiled one ; a gain to the 
church invisible, in that its number is the nearer be- 
ing filled up. But to the church militant, it is a loss, 
and a considerable one ; which should stir us up to 
turn our complaints into prayers, that God would fill 
up the want, by the converting of others, and increas- 
ing his grace on the survivors. 

Observ. 2. The posterity of them whose privileges 
they enjoy, may be so unlike their predecessors, as 
that they may deserve to be disowned by them : 
though Israel be the " prince with God," he might 
disown us, as being not Israel, though of Israel. (See 
Rom. ix. 6, 32, 33). 

In handling of this sad truth, the multitudes of in- 
stances of unlikeness will go far to prove it. And this 
we shall confirm, not so much from the unlikeness of 
Israel or Judah at this time that the prophet speaks 
of, but of our unlikeness to our predecessors whose 
privileges we enjoy. Amongst these predecessors of 
ours, we shall — 1. Name the worthies in the text 

224 ■ SERMON ON 

and the Old Testament saints ; for we Gentiles are 
their posterity, not by natural generation (and if so, 
it were a very small matter, if it go alone,) but by a 
gracious implantation. (See Rom. xi. 17, 22, 24, 
and Rom. iv. 11.) Abraham is called the Father of 
all believers, by the eminent room he had in the 
church, as a pattern of faith. 

2. The primitive Christians are our predecessors, 
■whose privileges we enjoy, and the same adminis- 
tration of the gospel that was first delivered unto 

3. Our predecessors are the generation of Christians 
in these lands, the fruits of whose blood, and suffer- 
ings, and venturous actings for the gospel, we now en- 
joy in some measure. 

And we shall compare ourselves with them for these 
ends : 

1. That there may be some mention unto the Lord's 
praise of his mighty acts, and effects of his grace on 
the generation foregoing. And it is a great part of 
our work to shew forth his praise this way. (See 
Psalms, clxv. 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12.) 

2. To preserve and send forth the savour of the 
name of the righteous, that it may be had in ever- 
lasting remembrance, (Heb. xi. 4). 

3. Because such comparisons are very humbling, 
as well as chastening and convincing. 

4. To stir up and encourage from this conviction 
unto more faithful and painful walking with God, 
since attainments of saints do hold forth what is at- 

To beffin then with the first sort — the Old Testa- 
ment saints — and to clear up how justly we may be 
disowned by them as their successors ; before we speak 

ISAIAH LXIII. 16. 225 

of our unlikeness to them as to duty, we must shew 
their unlikeness to us as to privileges — and this will 
aggravate the case to our disadvantage sadly. 

1. The revelation of the mind of God was far more 
sparing and dark to them, than to us, (Heb. i. 1, 2). 
Here a little, and there a little, did they receive there- 
of : but the water of the sanctuary, which to them 
was by showers, or a little river, is to us a sea of 
knowledge of God's will. 

2. Their ordinances were far more dark and carnal 
than ours, so that it is called *' the letter," (2 Cor. 
iii.), and ours that " of the Spirit." 

3. The church made up of them, was a little in- 
closure of a few Jewish families at first — at best and 
greatest, but of one nation, and a few proselytes out 
of the heathen — whereas the church is now diff'used 
through many nations, and many benefits flow from its 
multitude. For all these their disadvantages in point 
of privilege, we are at more disadvantages in point of 
duty and attainments, and sadly unlike to them in 
these particulars. 

4. The scope of the historical part of the Bible, is 
not to give us any full account of the graces and ex- 
cellencies of the Old Testament saints, but only in oc- 
casional hints now and then (except in the book of 
Psalms) ; whereby we may charitably conclude, that 
there were many more excellent things found with 
them, than are recorded. But for ourselves, we may 
know all. 

5. In the deep providence of God, they were 
winked at in many things, which now, the express re- 
velation of God's will makes intolerable. This I 
name, for the obviating of the prejudice that is 
usually entertained, by reading of their failings, espe- 



cially in polygamy, and in marrying of near rela- 
tions. It may be almost said, that uncharitable un- 
dervaluing of them on the account of such weaknesses, 
proceeding mainly from the ignorance of God's mind 
in them, is a greater guilt in us, than their falling was 
to them. 

6. In general, the church was then a minor, and 
in bondage, (Galat. iv. 1, 2, 3). 

Our sad unlikeness to them, I shall branch it forth, 
first from the two in the text ; and then, from some 
others elsewhere famous in the word. 

Abraham. This is the father of the faithful, ho- 
noured with the name of " the friend of God ;" whose 
children we may be ashamed to reckon ourselves, for 
our unlikeness to him, 

1. In his faith and confidence in God's promise, 
(Rom. iv. 19, 20). His faith was seen in his obe- 
dience in going out of his own land, to a strange 
country ; in expecting posterity, when, by the course 
of nature, it was impossible ; in his universal obe- 
dience unto divine commands that crossed the pro- 
mise. But for us, we are commonly in this case ; 
1 . A promise, with a great prop from sense, is some 
stay to the soul, but none without it. 2. Hence is 
our obedience as narrow, as our faith is feeble. Let 
it not be said that he was sure the promise was 
made to him, whereas our doubting proceeds from 
our questioning our right to the promise; for this 
is but a delusion of Satan and of our own hearts, as 
is proved, first, In that general and unlimited pro- 
mises in the word, are as good as the most particular 
that can be desired ; and, secondly, The trial, when 
seriously managed, will produce a discovery, that it 
ia the truth of the promise that is the real question 

ISAIAH LXIII. 16. 227 

in the heart, whatever else for the fashion be pre- 
tended. And though serious searching may discover 
this to any, yet I add these confirmations of it; 
1. Probabilities of accomplishment satisfy the soul 
in its alleged faith, more than discoveries of our 
right to the promise, or of the faithfulness of the 
promise ; and when these are wanting, ofttimes no- 
thing can stay the heart. 2. There is ofttimes gross 
unbelief felt in resting on promises of outward pro- 
vision, when the right to them is not so much in 
question. What the causes of this treachery are, 
deserveth a more exact inquisition : but we shall not 
insist further on it at this time, than this — that the 
grounds of unbelief are here most visible, and the de- 
sires of the heart most fervent ; and therefore, it is 
the harder to be stayed. 3. That promises which 
have a general reference to the church, and Christ 
its head, and exaltation of his kingdom, are hardly 
satisfying to many, though they be most clear, (Psalm 
ex.), when outward appearances are wanting. Yea, in 
this, eminent saints have failed, as Baruch and Elijah, 
(Jerem. xlv, 1 Kings xix). 

2. We are unlike to Abraham our father, in his 
bold and reverent familiarity with God. He walked 
with him, and dealt with him, with a most sweet 
mixture of these true qualities : witness that brave 
pleading for Sodom, (Genes, xviii). But we are com- 
monly on the one or other extreme, of presumption 
or discouraging diffidence, and are commonly tossed 
from the one to the other in our exercises, and rarely 
preserve both in an equal mixture. Witness, 1. Our 
common strange way of approaching to him, either 
as a terrible adversary, or one so high above us, that 
there is no sort of familiarity allowable. Men often- 


times in the beginning of their prayers, use such pre- 
faces, as if their acquaintance with God "were just 
then a making. 2. The predominion of fear, of un- 
believing fear, when the heart is in any serious tem- 
per ; as of vanity and lightness at other times. 

Object. 1. But the Lord conversed with Abraham 
ofttimes in a visible shape, (as Gen. xviii.), and there- 
fore his boldness was better founded. Ans. 1. Do you 
think that that shape, and manner of appearance, did 
abate aught in that holy man of the reverent awe 
of God which was on his heart, in more special ap- 
proaches to him 1 2. We have God dwelling in our 
nature in Jesus Christ, whereof that was but a pre- 
lude — which warrants this familiarity in a high mea- 
sure of faith. (See Gal. iv. 1-6.) This makes a 
great change to our advantage, and gives great ground 
for familiarity. 

Object. 2. But is it not evident that God calls for 
fear and awe ; and his excellency and his holiness are 
enough to make us keep at a great distance ? Ans. 
Since it is so, he is so great and glorious, that unless he 
had prepared a way for coming to him, and obliged us 
by his command to take and use it, it had been pre- 
sumption to have approached with this familiarity. 
But there is little true reverence in making respect a 
plea for disobedience. Think you that God's dwell- 
ing in our nature in Christ — that the privilege of 
adoption to which we are brought by him — that the 
free spirit of children in our hearts, and the Lord's 
express commands to boldness and freedom, in im- 
proving of his usefulness for us engaged by promises 
— that these are not warrants sufficient to embolden 

Object. 3. But how shall we mix them ? l* Mix 

ISAIAH LXIII. 16. 229 

them often in your meditations and thoughts of God, 
and you will find such a mixed frame. 2. Give the 
predominant care to keep from that extreme to 
which, by nature, or temptation, or special weakness, 
you are most inclined. 3. Do what you can to main- 
tain such thoughts of God which you are helped 
unto, when admitted most into his fellowship — such 
thoughts as influence grace most, and render your 
pleadings most savoury to yourself, when in a spe- 
cially reflecting frame, and most acceptable to him. 
4. Study faith and tender walking. It is an evil con- 
science that makes men entertain strange thouo-hts 
of God oftentimes. 

The second instance is Israel : Jacob, that man of 
manifold afilictions and trials, forced to flee from his 
father's house, afflicted by his father-in-law, pursued 
by his brother, grieved about his children, and at 
length driven to Egypt with his family, and there 
dieth. The Lord's people from him are commonly 
called Israel. This holy man is eminent for his wres- 
tling with God. Gen. xxxii. 26 ; Hos. xii. 3, 4, where 
it seems he was so mighty in bodily and spiritual 
exercise combined. He hath his refuge unto God 
in a great strait ; and when opportunity is off'ered, 
he behaveth princely (as the word is) in it — not 
like unto our faint, cold, languid desires, scarcely 
worth the name of prayers, let alone of wrestlings. 1. 
We, if there be difficulty in the work, are ready to 
give over, and to wait for a better time. It is spe- 
cial valour to wrestle, which implies opposition. 2. 
A few cold wishes will serve the turn with us, but he 
could spend a night in wrestling. 3. Opposition from 
our own unbelieving hearts will discourage us; but 
such, from God himself, doth not put him off" his 


duty. 4. If we perforin tlie duty in any tolerable 
manner, we are satisfied ; but nothing but a blessing 
will satisfy him. Oh ! who is it that wrestles long, 
and gives not over, if it were a whole night, till he 
get the blessing ? 

I shall now add unto these two famous instances, 
some few things, wherein we are far inferior to the 
saints of old. 

1. In living as strangers and pilgrims, albeit the 
promises of the future life after death were more 
shadowy than they are unto us. (See Heb. xi. 9, 10, 
13.) This continued in Jacob (Genes, xlvii. 9), and 
even in David's time, when God's people were settled 
in Canaan (Psalm xxxix. 13, and cxix. 19 ; 1 Chron. 
xxix. 15). But we are as settled inhabitants, with 
fond hearts, purposes, hopes, and endeavours, laid out 
on worldly things. 

2. We are unlike them in zeal for God, and his 
glory, word, ordinances, sabbath, and worship. How 
bitter were their lamentations for the Lord's with- 
drawing ; how bold their testifyings against all courses 
of defection from God, often with great danger to 
themselves ! As for us, we are well satisfied with dis- 
honour done to God, if there be no real immediate 
hurt to ourselves : yea, if our own petty enjoyments 
be secured, there is little moan made for the calamity 
of others, and the uncertainty of the case of posterity. 

3. We are unlike to them in longing for the Mes- 
siah's coming. They longed, watched, and prayed for 
his first coming ; but we, little, for his second coming. 
Though that degenerate generation amongst whom he 
came did not know him, and handled him as a deceiver, 
yet many and fervent were the longings of their fa- 
thers for him. 

ISAIAH LXIII. 16. 231 

Our next predecessors are the primitive Christians, 
whose posterity we are yet unworthy to be reckoned, 
though we enjoy their privileges; yea, in that point, 
have aivantages above them. 

1. In the first age, immediately after Christ's as- 
cension, there was the great affliction of Christ's re- 
moval from them, the greatest trial that ever a poor 
company of believers were tried with, as may be 
guessed at, by Christ's using so many words of com- 
fort against it. Whereas it is long since he went 
away, and it is the nearer by so much to his second 

2. They had the Jewish temple and ceremonies yet 
standing, though dead, yet not decently buried ; which 
bred them no small temptations and trials amongst 
themselves and from enemies. (See Rom. xiv.) 

3. The New Testament dispensation of the gospel 
and the doctrines thereof, delivered to them by word 
of mouth from the apostles and evangelists, and all 
the proofs thereof drawn from the Old Testament, 
which needed a great portion of the Spirit in the 
dispensers, as it was afforded to them. Whereas we 
have their doctrine consigned to writing by them- 
selves, and that through the Spirit's direction. 

4. And then, and immediately after, there was the 
great scandal of the cross of Christ — a man lately 
put to death as a malefactor ! Whereas we have 
this confirmed to us by all the wonderful effects that, 
by the power of the Holy Ghost, this doctrine hath 
since had in the world. 

5. A most stubborn hatred against the very name 
of Christianity, rooted by the devilish idolatry of the 
world and the power of the Roman monarchy arrayed 
against them. Whereas now it is not so in any place, 


though the purity and reality of profession be yet 
persecuted, and it is likely will ever be in some mea- 

It is tnie they had advantages above us in other 
respects, which did help sufficiently to balance these 
disadvantages. But we are sadly unlike them, 

1. In their wonderful charitableness to their poor 
brethren, (Acts ii. 44, 45). Great were their expenses 
in supplying the apostles and others, in their great 
travels in advancing the gospel ; many strong proofs 
did they give that their hearts were detached from 
this world, and bound in love to the brethren. But 
for our charity, it is evident, that, take away the 
laws of a well-governed land for the provision of the 
poor, and the reputation of the profession which 
stands in giving somewhat on charitable occasions, 
if all were left to free-will offerings, charity would 
amount to a small sum. 

2. Their mutual love, and harmony, and union, 
which, considering all things, was a wonderful grace ; 
to-wit, the great extent the church was speedily en- 
larged into, the diversity and multitudes of nations 
and languages of professors, and the great line of 
separation which God himself had made, and for 
many ages continued between Jew and Gentile. But 
now, not only Christians of one nation, but of one 
congregation, do rarely live in love and peace. 

3. Their great, and cheerful, and patient sufferings, 
and their forgiving spirit. Persecutors themselves 
were sometimes wearied with them for the cheer- 
fulness of their sufferings : they were often in an ex- 
cess about it, and rushed upon death through the faith 
of the glory and reward of sufferings. But for us, a 
little fining is more heavily taken than death was by 


them ; and suffering even for a good cause, is com- 
monly reckoned no small calamity. 

4. Their great and constant pains in promoting 
the gospel, and spreading the name of Jesus through 
the world, which the Lord blessed with a wonderful 
success. But these advents are gone. Nations pro- 
fessing Christianity even in some purity, manage 
trade with the heathen and infidels, for advancing 
the interest of riches; but how little that of religion 
is minded, no man can be so blind as not to see it, 
and every tender heart ought to regret it as a sad 

Not to bring in the instances of the apostles, in one 
of whom — ^Paul — we may find enough to put us all to 
the blush ; whose pains, and prayers, and tears, and tra- 
vels, and work, and sufferings, in advancing the gospel 
as a minister, and honouring it as a Christian, are so 
high, that many may think them rather matter of ad- 
miration than of imitation, though he expressly, by the 
Holy Ghost, enjoins this last, (1 Cor. xi. 1) — prede- 
cessors are nearer to us — the worthies that lived be- 
fore us in this land, about the time of the Reforma- 
tion from Popery, who were also under great disad- 
vantages in respect of us, though they also have gone 
far beyond us. As, 1. The darkness they were in as 
to many points of doctrine, and especially about the 
worship and government of God's house, which the 
Lord hath since clearly revealed from the word. 
2. The smaller m.easure of the gifts of praying and 
preaching which were then dispensed, as it may be 
evident, in comparing what is on record of their la- 
bours, with what is common now. 3. The great and 
universal opposition of the church in those days, un- 
to the truths they professed, and to themselves, a 


preachers and professors thereof. The Popish doc- 
trines then were but a coming to the light, and the 
light but a growing for the discovery thereof. 4. The 
rareness of the scriptures themselves, which were kept 
from the people by unworthy bishops, and bloody 
laws. Yet under all these disadvantages, we are far 
outstripped by them, 

1. In their stedfast suffering for such truths as 
were neither so much cleared up as either they are 
now, or as such are which have been the trial of this 
generation, neither were always fundamental; yet 
they did adhere to them at all hazards, and many, 
to the loss of their lives in a cruel manner. 

2. In their great valuing of the smallest means of 
grace, even the bare reading of the word. Oh ! if 
there were such an edge on professors as was then, 
ministers would have other sort of congregations to 
preach unto. 

3. In their honest plainness and sincerity in walk- 
ing up to their light. They were not detainers of the 
truth of God in unrighteousness, as so many are, who 
are owners of knowing heads, and unholy hearts ; 
heads full of light, but hearts void of true spiritual 
life, and sense, and tenderness. Oh, how many apes 
are there, and imitators of these worthies in the 
land ! How many counterfeiting their outward car- 
riage, while crossing their doctrine ; and most pro- 
fessing their doctrine, while hating their practice. 

One great objection I must remove for the render- 
ing this sad comparison the more humbling and con- 
vincing, and for preparing our way for application ; 
and it is this. That all these predecessors of ours had 
singular helps and advantages above us, which make 
the case very different : As, 1. The Old Testament 

ISAIAH LXIII. 16. 235 

saints had extraordinary means of converse with 
God, whereof we are now deprived. 2. The New 
Testament saints had an extraordinary measure of 
the Spirit. 3. Our immediate predecessors had also 
a great measure of this, suited to their emergencies 
and work. I answer, as to the first, Extraordinary 
manifestations of God by visions, dreams, and oracles, 
are no such great advantages as we commonly think, 
who are deprived of them. 1. Ungodly men had 
them, so that they are not in themselves sanctifying 
things : Cain, Balaam, Saul, a number of the most 
ungodly had them. 2. They were not constant, but 
now and then. 3, Oftentimes they were attended 
with great terrors on the godly that met with them, 
and terrible fears of death ; and therefore, were no- 
thing comparable to that soft and calm voice of the 
Spirit speaking clearly in the word. 

2. As to that extraordinary measure of the Spirit 
that the New Testament saints had, a great part of 
it was for the increase of gifts, and giving other gifts 
of tongues and miracles useful in that age. But true 
holiness was still conveyed in the same way, and in- 
creased by the same means that now it is. And 
thereof further we find, that there were no small num- 
bers of hypocrites and apostates found amongst them, 
even in the best of those days which the church ever 

So that take all things together, and we shall find, 
1. That the advantages that Christians had of old, 
are balanced by others which we possess. 2. That 
the main grounds on which they walked, and by which 
they attained to such eminency, are the same that 
we have : God himself to study, and know, and con- 
verse with — the covenant of peace between him and 


them that emboldened them in all their addresses to 
him — means especially of prayer, whereby to obtain 
all blessings from him, according to his promises — a 
rule of his will for a rule of their walk, wherein we 
may say, by reason of the great light we enjoy, that 
we are not inferior unto any of the generations of the 
saints — the same grace to animate and strengthen — . 
and the same recompence of reward. 



MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 


" Enter ye in at the strait gate : for wide is the gate, and broad 
is the way, that leadeth to desti-uction, and many there be which go 
in thereat : because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which 
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." — Matt. vh. 13, 11. 

THE exhortation of my text is unto the main duty 
of Christianity and religion, to make sure of 
salvation ; wherein heaven and salvation are repre- 
sented to us as the end of a journey, and a palace to 
be entered into by a particular gate. The motives 
are enwrapped together, first, from the multitude 
that take the more easy way unto destruction ; se- 
condly, from the great difficulty there is in taking, 
finding, and keeping the way that leads to life; which 
is a cause, that both few seek it, and many take up 
with what is more easy. 

We need not to stand to speak of Christ's wisdom, 
in speaking of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven 
in parables. It was his constant custom, and a bless- 
ed pattern it is ; and happy are they that have, bv 
his Spirit, a gift of making the things of God plain, 


by such similitudes. It is a way that hath these 
advantages : 1. It makes things plain, when the simili- 
tudes are apt and pertinent, for it brings them down 
to people's senses by sensible and obvious things. 2. It 
hath a very native influence of taking with the fancy 
and affections, as hath been successfully practised 
by all the great orators and masters of persuasion. 
3. It sticks in the memory, even as the sight of 
a man's picture makes one remember him better 
than the description of his person, or an account 
of his name. 4. It promotes heavenly-mindedness. 
The many parables in scripture from sowing, and 
fishing, and planting, and building, and walking, and 
running, and fighting, may, and ought to bring 
spiritual subjects to our thoughts, when we see or 
hear of such things. Two faults in this matter 
are carefully to be avoided. 1. Light and trifling 
similitudes or resemblances, that may reflect on the 
gravity of divine matters. 2. Too hard and strait 
pressing of them. They serve only for illustrating, 
and not for proving, and are not to be pressed beyond 
their scope and drift. 

The other thing we shall speak of in general is this, 
that even Christ himself is much and often speaking in 
his ministry, of the rousing and awakening subjects in 
religion ; as the fewness of the saved, the difiiculty of 
salvation, and the hardness of the labour required 
about our soul's eternal welfare. And if Christ be 
much on this subject, then, his servants should take 
laws of him, and imitate his practice, and hear such 
doctrine gladly, especially since, 1. Nothing is more 
profitable, than to prevent a cheat in your eternal 
state; and this is its design; and this cheat is usually 
carried on by such a principle as this, that salvation is 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 239 

common and easy. 2. Nothing is more suitable, since 
these heart-plagues and accursed principles are sown 
in the heart of every man by natural corruption, and 
watered by the devil's temptations. And, 3. It is 
specially useful and seasonable in such a time of try- 
ing and stumbling, when we may see the shells of 
many a wrecked professor. 

And to enforce this subject on your thoughts, as a 
preparative to the hearing of it, consider some things 
in Christ's pressing it, which make it far more 

1. He came down from heaven, in the purest and 
strongest love to fallen sinners, and gave unquestion- 
able proofs of it. Surely, then, he would not lay un- 
necessary burdens on them. Many a burden that we 
could not bear, he bore on himself, and leaves none 
in the room thereof but what is simply needful, 
(Matt. xi. 28, 29, 30). 

2. He knew better than any, both the number of 
the saved, and the difficulty of salvation: he knew 
his own little flock, and all the hardships they were 
to endure, so that his testimony is yet more to be 

3. Never was any in his name more full and large 
in offers general and unlimited of a right to him, and 
in promises of salvation by him, (Matt. xi. 28, 29 ; 
John vii. 37, and v. 40). 

4. In his own ministry, he was generally sweet and 
alluring, according as is hinted in Matt. xi. 16, 20. 
He was not a severe John Baptist, but was a kind 
tender-hearted pastor. 

5. He knew men's hearts best. Ministers guess by 
their own experience and the word ; but he hath an 
immediate view of men's hearts, and therefore, his 


testimony, both concerning their duty, difficulty, and 
danger, is far more weighty. 

6. He was the clear discoverer, and mainly the 
author of the way to heaven. He had infinite mercy 
in preparing it, suitable wisdom to know it, and all 
authority to determine it, as the only way that all 
must take and follow. 

7. We may speak also of his own experience in 
this matter ; that though his case was singular, both 
as to his difficulties and assistance, yet even this is 
proposed to us, as a moving pattern for our imitation. 
(Heb. V. 7, and xii. 2, 3). If the heir of heaven, by 
birthright, did enter therein through much hardship, 
much more are we to lay our account with the like. 

Let us therefore, from these things, be stirred up 
to hear what our Lord teacheth us in this plain ex- 
hortation ; which for the more orderly handling of 
the matter, passing the order of the words, we shall 
reduce to these heads: 1. There are two different states 
that all mankind enter into after this life ; the one 
is called life, the other destruction. 2. There are 
two different ways that lead thither. 3. It fares with 
men as to their eternal state, according to the way 
in which they walk in this life. 4. The difference of 
the ways is the cause of the difference of the numbers 
that walk in them. And then, after the handling of 
these, we shall come closer unto the exhortation given 
by our Lord, with its grounds. 

Observ. 1. There are two different states of all 
mankind after this life, and no more. Many differ- 
ent states are there in this life as to our outward con- 
cernments of body, mind, or other interests ; but the 
greatest of all is that which is the true emblem of 
this — even the state of men's souls, in peace or en- 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 241 

mity -with God. This is commonly acknowledged, 
and the inference is plain in it, both in its predic- 
tions (Kom. ii. 5, 6, 7 ; 2 Thess. i. 8, 9), and in the 
account of the form of the judgment to come, (Matt. 
xxiv. 34, 41, 46). That there are but two is also 
evident, both from the scripture's silence of any 
others, and the peremptoriness of the grounds of 
men's being determined and sent to these, even as 
they are found in the first or second Adam. That 
they are different states, is commonly acknowledged, 
yea, the difi'erence is vast, and greater than being and 
not being. 

Use. — ^This plain truth calls more for application 
unto consciences, than any great pains in informing 
the mind about it. This calls for, 

1. Frequent and serious meditation of it. Men 
think often too much on any change in their condi- 
tion, if it be but probable, whether sad or joyful ; 
but this certain and great change hath little room 
in your thoughts. You sometimes want matter of 
meditation : here is that which may still be fresh — 
a great, certain, speedy, eternally-lasting change that 
is to pass upon you. Suppose a great prince is send- 
ing for you all, to carry you into a strange land, 
where some of you shall be miserable slaves, and 
others advanced to great state and dignity, — if I may 
thus allude to the proud king's commission. (See 
Isaiah xxxvi. 16, 17.) 

2. Undervaluing, and thinking little of your other 
present states. They are all but trifles in comparison 
of this. Present states are but small, future are un- 
certain. It is sadly strange, though very common, 
to see people living in this world as they were never 
to leave it, and minding a future state as if they will 


•242 SERMON I. ON 

never be in it — so common is it to see gross unbelief 
veiled with fair and full professions of belief. 

3. In thinking which of tlie two shall be yours. 
If there were many, or if the difference between the 
two were small, this meditation were the less needful : 
but now it is so necessary, that, indeed, it is insepa- 
rable from the real and serious belief of the truth. 
To lielp you in this, 

Observ. 2. There are two diiferent ways wherein 
all men walk toward this different state. We shall 
not urge any difference between the way and the 
gate, since the words are parabolical, and the inquiry 
seems neither sober nor profitable. One way leads 
not unto both, or either. The ways are as far differ- 
ent in their kinds as the states are in theirs ; yea, the 
difference is that of contrariety and opposition. Not 
to speak of the difference named in the text, reserv- 
ing it unto the particular notes, but of that which is 
proper and elsewhere in the word — ways are distin- 
guished mainly thus, 1. From that which the walker 
leaves; 2. That which he aims at and approaches 
to — as is known in familiar talking of such things. 
Now, these ways differ in both exceedingly. He that 
walks in the way to life, leaves sin, the world, and its 
vanities, and draws near unto God, pursues after ho- 
liness and communion with God; the other walks, 
by a leaving of God more and more, for, being bom 
with his back towards God, though he be often called 
on, he returns not, but goes on in pursuing after 
vanity and a happiness in somewhat besides God. 
(See Heb. x. 38, 39.) So that the ways differ exceed- 
ingly, not to speak of the different rule by which they 
v/alk, and other differences handled from Romans 
viii. 1, 4. 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 243 

Only take it in a few plain words — 1. The gfodly 
man's way is in a course of communion with God in 
Jesus Christ; the wicked's way is in estrangement 
from him : this they love and pursue, (1 John i. 3 ; 
Psalm Ixxiii. 25, and xvi. 7, 8). 2. The one, in a 
study of conformity to him in holiness ; the other, to 
a conformity unto the world in vanity, (Rom. xii. 2). 
3. The one, in a way of faith and trusting God ; the 
other, in unbelief, and resting all upon the force of 
sense and reason. Now, that these differ, is no ques- 
tion, and that there are no other ways wherein men 
walk, but in one of these, is evident. What may be 
said of infants, and such as are without the church, 
is another question, which belongs not to our purpose. 

Use. — But here comes the most needful question. 
Which of these ways do we walk in ? We cannot 
walk in both, no more than be in both states here- 
after. To enforce this, 

Observ. 3. It fares with men as to their endless 
state, according to the way they take and walk in 
now. This is already cleared in its grounds and 
proofs. (See Rom. ii. 5, 6, 7.) It is not more un- 
suitable unto God's goodness and faithfulness to send 
a holy believing soul into hell, than it is to his holi- 
ness, justice, and truth, to bring an unholy unbeliever 
to heaven. So that here, the gate is shut by dread- 
ful bars against the presumption of the unholy man, 
and is shut in mercy against the fears of a holy ten- 
der believer. You may then hence know what shall 
be your future state, if you can find out your present 

Observ. 4. There is a great difference betwixt the 
numbers of the walkers in these different ways. 
There is a. great train in the one, and but a few in 


the other, as is commonly testified in the word ; yet 
is this to be understood only comparatively, for even 
the godly, considered by themselves, make up a vast 
multitude. (See Rev. vii. 9.) And, that we may 
consider this first as a caution of the other, these 
things shew that they are a great number who enter 
into life : 

1. The price that was laid down was surely for 
some considerable purchase — that though there be 
still an infinite disproportion between the infinite 
price and the purchase, yet, surely, it was laid down 
for the remission of the sins of many. 

2. Of this sort have some been in all ages since 
righteous Abel ; since men began to " call upon the 
name of the Lord," (Gen. iv. 26), wherein Adam 
himself hath been priest and prophet, to this day 
have there been always some walking in the way to 

3. Consider what a great harvest was gathered in 
after that blessed heat and rain of the Holy Ghost 
on the apostles, so that even of the Jews (Acts xxi. 
20) there are many thousands, and many more of the 

4. Consider what a great cloud of witnesses for the 
truth, by sufi'erings, there has been in many ages and 
countries, even of sufi'erers unto death, of whom all 
charity commands to believe, that they entered into 
life, according to Christ's promise made to sufferers 
for his name's sake. 

5. Consider how largely the gospel hath been spread 
by the mercy of the Lord's blessing on his servants. 
See but of one man (Rom. xv. 19). Even in the 
apostles' days, the church was greatly spread; and 
more, thereafter, throughout all the Ronmn empire, 

iSIATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 245 

a great part of Asia and Africa. And this sheweth 
there were great numbers, in that days of the spread- 
ing of the light of the gospel, use to be times of its 
power ; and that the Lord still hath some to gather 
in, or ripen, where it is continued. 

And particularly as to the place of the world we 
live in, if we consider, 1. The long time the gospel 
hath been amongst us ; 2. The many rich gifts he 
hath bestowed on his servants ; 3. The rare acts of 
providence in preserving, as well as in bringing in 
the gospel amongst us ; 4. The multitude of profes- 
sors tolerably blameless ; 5. The many godly parents 
that have a godly posterity, as a witness from heaven 
against the men who say that children are out of 
God's covenant, and deny the duty of instructing 
them ; we may safely conclude, that there is a con- 
siderable number in the land that shall enter into 
life, as there are many already entered therein. 

Having thus cautioned this truth, we shall now 
confirm it in that only sense wherein it is true, and 
wherein here it is asserted : and it is observable, that 
it is commonly spoken by way of comparison, as here, 
either with them that perish, or of the sincere with 
hypocritical professors, (Matt, xxii, 14, and xx, 16). 
And though it be commonly acknowledged, yet be- 
cause it is not duly pondered, we shall lay forth the 
truth of it before you from these considerations. 

1. Consider what a vast multitude is deprived of 
the very means of the knowledge of the way to 
heaven. Alas ! the Bible is in but a few languages. 
Many millions of sinners have never heard Christ's 
name, and never had the messengers of peace pro- 
claiming salvation to them in his name. A subject 
of very sad meditation is this. Many worshipping 


sun, moon, and stars, and the devil himself in a yisible 
and deformed shape — their case is hopeless, and so 
hath it been for many generations, and likely so to 
be, till the Lord wonderfully appear for their deli- 
very from the snare of the devil. 

2. Consider what a great number of those that have 
any thing of the means of salvation, have them so 
mixed and corrupted, that there is little success, and 
little hope thereof. These corruptions are, 1. In 
doctrine ; where, as Paul speaks, they corrupt the 
simplicity of Christ's gospel by their human inven- 
tions ; as the Popish church, which has the Bible, 
but bound up from the people ; Ciirist as Mediator 
preached, but saints joined therein with him ; justifi- 
cation by faith, but by conjoined works ; hell and 
heaven taught, but purgatory added thereunto. 
Now, where such doctrines are taught, there is little 
hope of any sound conversion to be wrought thereby. 
2. Corruptions in worship, which when great, render 
it altogether unacceptable. Prayer is offered unto 
God, but through idols ; sacraments are lamentably 
corrupted, and mutilated, and clouted with men's 
foolish inventions; and that of the Lord's Supper 
turned into the most abominable and ridiculous ido- 
latry in the world — to worship a bit of bread, and im- 
mediately to eat it, a,nd yet, that, as the real substan- 
tial body of Jesus Christ. Now, what hope is there 
of any communion with God, or communication of 
grace from Christ, in such ways of worship^ Be- 
sides, their public prayers and service in an unknown 
tongue, and thus, the common people are deprived of 
the hearing of the word read, which in such a case, 
is more valuable than all their preaching. 3. Cor- 
ruptions in government and discipline, which in this 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 247 

case of the Papists are so great, that they render 
their salvation yet more hopeless : As, 1. The whole 
frame of that Babel stands upon the pretended infal- 
libility of their church, which is the very root of that 
wicked kingdom. And this being more carefully 
taught than any of the fundamentals of religion, and 
easily believed by a people nursed up in profaneness 
and ignorance, and in natural carelessness about their 
salvation, makes their case very dangerous. 2. Their 
wicked Hierarchy, or Satanarchy rather, is very dan- 
gerous to souls. By this, the priests rule over the 
consciences of the people, and bishops over the 
priests, and the Pope over the bishops — and thus 
he becomes indeed the son of perdition, yea the 
cause and father of the loss of many souls. 3. Their 
damnable devices of satisfaction for sins, and indul- 
gences for sins to come, and thus they make merchan- 
dise of souls, in a more gross manner than is to be 
found in any religion in tlie world. This hath these 
pernicious consequences : 1. It looseth the reins unto 
profaneness ; 2. And leads men into the natural sin 
of hypocrisy and feigned shows, of devised and im- 
posed duty, instead of true and real holiness ; 3. And 
leads away from Jesus Christ, and brings them to 
depend on self-justification. In a word, it is a reli- 
gion framed by Satan and wicked men, to answer a 
carnal heart's desires to the full, and is indeed a sor- 
cery, and a most prevailing one, (Rev. xviii. 23). 
And the judgment is : " If any man worship the 
beast and his image, and receive his mark in his fore- 
head, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine 
of the wrath of God which is poured out without 
mixture into the cup of his indignation ; and he shall 
be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence 


of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb," 
(Rev.xiv. 9, 10). 

3. Consider that where the truth is in some good 
measure purely delivered as to the matter, there are 
but a few that are ministers of the New Testament 
indeed, full of the Holy Ghost, and bearing their 
Master s image, and going at his call, and feeding in 
his name. And though conversion doth not necessa- 
rily follow on a minister's godliness, and his lawful 
call, yet commonly there is little success where there 
is such a carnal ministry, as that place (Jerem. xxiii. 
32) holds forth in some degree : " Behold, I am 
against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the 
Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err 
by their lies, and by their lightness ; yet 1 sent them 
not, nor commanded them : therefore they shall not 
profit this people at all, saith the Lord." This is a 
blessed appointment of Jesus Christ, and of absolute 
necessity to the well-being of the church, and of con- 
stant continuance therein, (Ephes. iv. 12, 13, 14), 
and it is highly to be esteemed. But there is no rea- 
son that the honour of the office should cover the 
faults of them that are clothed with it. Faults that 
cannot be hid, that are plagues in many ministers 
throughout the churches, are, 1. Undertaking the 
work, and setting themselves in the way of prepara- 
tion unto it, without any call from God, or spiritual 
sanctifying impression which might conclude a call. 
2. Studying of human learning for the increase of 
gifts, rather than studying true conformity to God in 
holiness, which is a great qualification. Hence is it 
seen, that the most learned, and men of greatest 
gifts, have least or no grace ; though sometimes it 
be otherwise, to testify, that learning and grace are 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 249 

not inconsistent. 3. The much mixture of man in 
the dispensing of the gospel, (1 Cor. i. 17, and ii. 4), 
so that preaching, by many is done as a proof of their 
parts and learning, rather than the pure and lowly 
mean -whereby Christ hath resolved to save believers. 
4. The little standing in God's counsel, and acting 
with a dependence on him, and the influences of the 
Holy Ghost, which is a cause of much sad work, 
(Jer. xxiii. 22). 

Now, all these faults in ministers have these pre- 
judices attending them as to the people: 1. Some 
from the evidence of these things have rejected the 
ministry, and spoken evil of it, — a great sin, though 
it is sad that they should have such a temptation ; 
and which is more pernicious to them, do join them- 
selves to such in whom greater faults are to be found. 
2. The Holy Ghost works not, or rarely, with their 
ministry, but in justice withdraws, when he is not em- 
ployed nor depended on more than he may and ought 
to be by any godly man in any employment of the 
mind. 3. And even these workings are not missed 
by people ; but as such ministers come in their own 
name, so the people hear them as such, and never 
inquire after more than what is man's therein ; and 
instead thereof, have their heads stuifed with notions, 
and knowledge sometimes increased, and affections 
tickled by some human devices and flashes of wit, — 
which things are mighty pleasing to a carnal heart, 
both to give and take, both by precept and example. 
4. And such carnal ministers usually lead the people, 
both by precept and example, into such a sort of 
practice of godliness as is found with themselves ; for 
ordinarily, except where the fear of God overawes, 
or where a man is gross in his walking, no man will 


deliver such a frame of practical godliness to others 
which is cross to his present attainments or resolu- 
tions at least. But of this more fully, when we 
speak of ourselves and our own case. 

4. Consider, besides all these things, and though 
all these were removed, how small a number of 
them that have the gospel purely preached, and by 
faithful ministers, do profess any thing ; I mean, do 
not so much as take on an honest-like name of 
Christians. Few will be found, if you search them 
out wisely ; and that will be by searching after their 
professed obedience to law and gospel. 1. By the 
consideration of the law, many sorts of hearers are 
visibly cast out. To begin with the third command- 
ment, all swearers and forswearers, that commonly 
and fearlessly take his dreadful name in vain, are 
out of the way of professors: all sabbath -breakers : 
all eminently unfaithful in their relationship, and in 
the duties thereof : bad husbands, wives, parents, chil- 
dren, masters, servants : all hearts misordered, and 
persons under the prevalent power of passion, malice, 
and envy : brawlers, chiders : all unclean beasts, that 
burn in their filthy lusts, though in the heart only : 
all thieves, extortioners, and such as get unjust gain : 
all noted liars, that make no conscience of their 
words, especially in backbiting and speaking evil of 
others : all covetous persons. 2. As to the gospel, 
they are not to be reckoned professors who give any 
visible token of contempt and despising of its minis- 
try, and turn away their ear from hearing the word : 
who are openly negligent in performing the duties 
which are required of them, as family and secret 
worship in prayer, and rending God's word : whose 
conversation is nowise influenced thereby as to any 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 251 

change, but who live just as if they were under heath- 

5. Consider how many professors who are not 
guilty of any of these gross evils, yet have a tainted 
profession. I mean, in such spots as observers may 
perceive as evidences of their unsoundness. Many 
such things there are. A temptation suitable to 
their corruptedness coming, is welcomed by many, as 
the thirty pieces by Judas : a trying time, when suf- 
fering for the profession cometh, and then are they 
burnt up by this sun. 

6. Consider how many untainted professions are 
unsound before God. When trials are not great, 
unsound professors may rub them out : when tempta- 
tions are not strong, common restraining grace may 
prevent their being cari'ied away who yet may be 
heart-workers of iniquity, and may be dust in God's 
balance, though all the world besides cannot see 
their lightness. This sad truth should not be im- 
proved into an uncharitable censoriousness of others, 
but to a jealousy over ourselves, and a belief of this 
grave truth, that few enter into life. 

And as I brought the caution of the truth home 
unto ourselves, so shall I also in this, and shew you 
on what considerations it is evident that there are 
few comparatively that shall be saved in this land, 
and who walk in the way to life. And in this I shall 
use such freedom as, I judge, becomes an ambassador 
of Jesus Christ. 

Consider, 1. How evidently the multitude walk in 
the way of profaneness, which leads to hell. He is 
a stranger to England that is ignorant of it. Now, 
how many thousands of such there are, would be 
found no easy work to reckon. Such all carry the 


brand-mark of tlie devil. This profaneness prevails 
generally in some places, and too mucli every where. 
London may be a scantling of this. 

2. Consider how many souls are poisoned and 
murdered by their teachers. Not to speak of the 
Papists, who in England are in a far more hopeless 
case as to salvation than if they were shut up in 
cloisters in Spain or Italy ; neither need I speak of 
the gross errors and damnable heresies that many 
are fed with unto destruction ; neither shall I name 
any party. But in general, whoever are fed with 
doctrines contrary to those foundations, and drink 
them in, must certainly perish : — 1. To the doctrine 
of the Trinity of persons in the unity of the God- 
head. 2. To the incarnation of the Son of God. 3. 
To the satisfaction paid to justice for sin. 4. To the 
justification of a sinner by a believing laying hold of 
this satisfaction. 5. To the authority of the written 
word, both in revealing truth to be believed, and pre- 
scribing duty for practice. But I would speak ra- 
ther of such teachers as have the greatest multitude 
committed to their charge, and the main allowance 
in the time for the discharge of their calling ; and I 
do it not out of reflection on them, nor out of par- 
tiality, but from a real compassion on the perishing 
multitude of this nation, and to stir you up unto the 
like sense, and to pray for the Lord's pitying them. 

And of them, without any breach of charity it 
may be said, 1. As to their persons ; 2. And then, 
their way of ministry. 

1. As to their persons, which is very considerable 
for misleading the hearers. 1. The generality of 
them know not God, nor his Son Jesus Christ, in any 
saving experimental way : they walk not with him, 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 253 

nor have his image on them. It is a greater matter 
to know God savingly, and to have real acquaintance 
with him, than is commonly thought. Their com- 
mon, carnal, and earthly mindedness, and walking 
after the flesh, doth sadly prove it. 

2d, They run unsent. How few have a real call 
from Jesus Christ, to dispense his word and gospel. 
Their way of entering by simony and unlawful means, 
and into the rooms of faithful believers ; their evi- 
dent caring for the fleece rather than the flock, doth 
sadly shew it. 

3d, They are generally insufficient and unable for 
the work they pretend to be about. The sufficiency 
of several is no cover for the lamentable insufficiency 
of the generality. 

4th, They are generally negligent in their calling. 
Though in these parts, on obvious accounts, there is 
some more diligence in preaching, yet there is little 
of this through the land. And as for the Noncon- 
formists their neglect of this, their case varieth, for 
the generality of their hearers are an uncertain com- 
pany, that scarcely look on those they hear as their 

2. As to their ministry, we may find, besides what 
is hinted, these things, which are very dangerous to 
souls. There are those errors commonly taught, — 1. 
That people are regenerated in baptism. 2. That 
such as are obedient unto the church are all good 
Christians, and accordingly are spoken of, in life and 
after death ; which is a marvellous hardening of the 
wicked. 3. Speaking evil of strictness, and precise- 
ness, and spirituality, when they do so of them that 
study the same, who are generally neither lovers of 
them nor beloved by them. Now, who can tell the 

254 SERMON I. ON" 

pernicious consequences of such doctrines, which, 
alas ! are to be read off the conversation of the gene- 
rality of their hearers ? 4. For worship, fopperies, 
and mocking of religious worship ; and mingling 
many human devices, and symbols, and badges of 
conformity with, or inclination to, the Mother of 
Harlots, especially in their prayers and sacraments. 
All which shew that it is no wonder that we con- 
clude the generality of England's inhabitants to be 
in the broad way to hell. 

Consider, 3. How many that have escaped these 
evils, and are some way clothed with a profession of 
the faith of purer doctrine and practice, of purer 
worship, are yet sadly unsound at heart. The evi- 
dences given in the general may be here particularly 
applied for confirmation of this truth as applied unto 
us. I shall add a few more. 

1. How many ignorant ones crowd in amongst pro- 
fessors, that are ever learning, and never come unto 
the knowledge of the truth. 2. How many perishing 
under secret lusts, as secret leaks in a fair-like vessel, 
which appear most in a storm. 3. How many carnal 
compilers with every wind of temptation, with every 
turn and change — men that count gain godliness, and 
hardly can be persuaded of the lawfulness of any 
course that may expose them unto suffering ; and re- 
solve still to save their stake, be the game played as 
it will. 

In short, the characters of godliness in the word, 
agree unto a very small number ; so that select and 
sum up from all, and you may see that the saved, in 
comparison of them that perish, are very few. 

Use. — Lay aside any deceitful principle about the 
multitude of the saved, and be no more confident 

MATTHEW VIT. 13, 14. 255 

upon the same ; but exercise jealousy the more, and 
search more. 

Observ. 5. The difference of the numbers of them 
that obtain these two states, is because of the differ- 
ence of the ways that lead thither. All that know of 
life and destruction, desire the better, and to escape 
the worse. But their hinderance is, the difference of 
the ways. The way to destruction is open, broad, 
and easy ; the other way to life is strait, difficult, and 
narrow. Of the particular properties of the two 
ways, we shall speak afterward, if the Lord will. 
Now only of this general : If the way to life were as 
sweet, and safe, and taking with flesh and blood, it 
would be filled with travellers : but it is not so, and 
as we shall hear, cannot be so. Let us then lay this 
to heart, that it is men's unwillingness to meet with 
labour and difficulties, that discourages many — it is 
their being bewitched with the present ease of a sin- 
ful path. Admire, then, the folly of mankind who are 
thus taken with the circumstances of the way when 
the issue and lodging-place are so far different. 


" Enter ye in at tlie strait gate : for -wide is the gate, and broad 
is the -way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go 
in thereat : Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, -which 
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."— Mat. vii. 13, 14, 

Eternal concernments are so weighty in them- 
selves and of so near importance to every man, that 
nothing can be a greater kindness, than to give real 
help and warning hereabouts. But through men's 

256 SERMON ir. ON 

unbelief, it is commonly little valued, and little im- 

Having already given you the general truths hinted 
in the words of my text, we shall now enter upon the 
particular handling of these words. And they afford 
to us these things, as the subject of our exercise : 

1. That the way to heaven is narrow and strait, 
and to hell broad. 

2. It is the Lord's will, that men should walk in 
the narrow way. 

Of the first of these — that the ways to heaven and 
hell are greatly different, not only in their issues, 
but in the paths themselves — in handling of this, we 
shall shew, 1. Why the one is called Life, the other 
Destruction : 2. Why the course that leads thither, 
is called a Way : 3. Shew the different properties of 
these two ways. 

Firsty Of the difierent ends : — ^Heaven is called life, 
not only from the common signifying of all happiness 
by the term Life, but because it is the thing pro- 
mised in the first covenant, (Gal. iii. 12), albeit now 
attainable only by the second and better covenant ; 
and because it is truly life, in comparing it with the 
present life of nature. 

1. Compare it with the life of nature ; this union 
of soul and body in a tolerable harmony. 1. This 
life, at best, is a moving towards death. Man is on 
a journey from one grave to another, from one womb 
to another, in our common mother the earth. Life 
now is but as a candle: while it is burning, it is wasting. 
There is no such thing in heaven. There, time is 
concluded ; eternity is the only period (and this con- 
cludes all periods) of its duration. 2. This life, 
even though it wanted this period, hath many mise- 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 257 

ries in it, that take away its deserving such a name ; 
such as, its sorrows, crosses, (Rev. xxi. 4, 6). 3. One 
generation thrusts another away. Life is now a flit- 
ting moveable : the fathers must give place to their 
children, and they to theirs. In heaven there is no 
such thing. 

2. Compare it with the life of grace, or that new 
life that the Lord by regeneration begets in his chil- 
dren. That life is but a life of preparation unto this 
in heaven, as the child in the womb is to his coming 
into the world. Its best is but an earnest of what 
is possessed fully afterwards. 

3. It wants not its own twinges, and faintings, and 
swooning fits ; many spiritual diseases there are in 
the regenerate, besides all their hard work Yet it 
is more deservedly called life, if compared with the 

The state of men in hell is called Destruction, the 
most terrible name of any evil : — not a destruction 
of their being, nor of their sense of a miserable being ; 
these are preserved : nor of any evil thing in them ; 
all of this sort remains. But it is called thus, 1. 
Because there is a perfect and full removing of every 
thing that is really comfortable unto them ; it reaches 
both soul and body. 2. Every evil thing is present 
— evil company, an evil place, an evil and miserable 
condition ; universal torments in soul and body of an 
eternal endurance, without ease. 

Ere we proceed, we shall apply this into your con- 

Believe both, firmly. Do you believe the sad state, 
as well as the joyful one 1 It is men's self-love 
that makes them more ready to believe the great 



tilings of good than evil, as deserved in spiritual 
matters ; -when yet, in other things, it is more ordi- 
nary to do the contrary. This great truth of the 
greatness of heaven's happiness is best believed, when 
these things have their due weight with the soul : 

1. The faithfulness of the promises. 2. The spring 
and end of it — that free grace may be glorified. 
3. The worth of Christ's purchase, and the price 
paid for it. 4. The aspiring nature of the new life, 
like an infant framed to live in a more open place. 
5. The greatness of the tastes and earnests of it got 
in this life. 

As to hell in its greatness of misery — when, 1. 
The faithfulness of the threatening and threatener ; 

2. The design of the threatener — the glory of his jus- 
tice ; 3. The deserving of sin, which the knowledge 
of the greatness of the party offended, and holiness of 
his law broken, do mightily shew ; 4. The first fruits 
of this, in horror of confusion, and rage against God, 
and his law, and holiness, in some of the wicked — 
when these things are duly pondered, then may men 
attain the faith of this. Believe them — for as they 
are the main principles of your religion, so are they 
of most eff*ectual influence upon men's hearts and 
lives, when the faith of them is once well digested. 
The true belief of these plain propositions commonly 
professed will produce a deep impression, a high es- 
teem, and due exercise about those things; which 
may serve as marks of your faith. 

1. Time, precious time, and especially, time under 
the gospel : — that is the only thing between us and 
our eternal lot ; precious for its use of preparation for 
it, and for divine long-sufi"ering acted on, and in 

MATTHEW VII. 31, 14. 259 

time. It should be redeemed by many, well im- 
proved by others ; and it may be holily wearied of 
by others, whose hope is lively. 

2. God's favour in Christ: — how should this be 
esteemed, prayed for, and praised for, and thankfully 
kept : this is our right to happiness. 

3. Holiness and sin : — how should men's affections 
change in reference to these, which are the ways to 
those great and different states. 

4. This life and all its concernments : — this faith 
would make us go up and down, as unconcerned how 
this world goeth ; like a man carried in a vessel over 
the seas, travelling to take up an abode for all his 
days, is not concerned in learning the art of sail- 
ing, which others that intend to live on and by it 
will do. 

I leave it with these few notes : 1. It is the great- 
est difficulty in religion, to believe firmly these things. 
2. The greatest advantage to a believer in his walk 
and exercise, is from the belief of them. 3. The 
greatest and most common cheat in religion, is about 
the pretended and alleged faith of them. 

The second thing to be handled is, the term of 
" the way," and " the gate," applied unto that course 
and exercise which the Lord hath appointed for 
going to heaven, and for those which men walk in to 

This way of expressing, not to urge it too strictly, 
holds out to us, 1. That these different practices of 
godliness or ungodliness (for so shall wc call them, 
until we determine them more particularly), have 
these different states as their end: they lead to them, 
as a way doth unto some place, from which it gets its 
name of such a way. So, ungodliness is the way to 


destruction, 1. By threatening from God. 2. De- 
sert in itself. 3. And it is a sort of earnest of it : 
There are begun degrees of destruction in the ungodly. 
Godliness is the way to life, 1. By promise ; 2. Fit- 
ness and meetness for it, (Col. i. 12). 3. It is also 
an earnest of glory. 

2. That there is labour and travel requisite iu 
walking in them. Whenever you hear of a -way, you 
hear of what implies travel. It is true, there is great 
difference in ways, and in the manner of travelling, as 
it is here ; but even the wicked want not their pains 
in the way. 

3. Travel in it must be progressive. He that walks 
in a way, and goes not forward, doth nothing. In 
the way to heaven, some are farther advanced than 
others, and at some times more than others. And so 
it is with them that walk in the broad way : sometimes 
they may be not far from the kingdom of God, and 
sometimes at hell's mouth. 

4. From the term " gate," we learn that there is 
an orderly and methodical entering on, or finishing 
of that way : but because we would not press para- 
bolic phrases too strictly, we pass it. And having 
formerly spoken of this also, we forbear the applica- 
tion of it. 

The third thing to be handled is, the properties of 
these two ways; the one called strait, and the gate 
narrow ; and the other the reverse. I shall handle 
these things distinctly, ere I add any application. 

I. That the gate to life, and the way to it, is strait 
and narrow. In handling of this, I would, first. Give 
you some things that confirm that so it is ; secondly. 
Shew wherein the straitness of it lieth. 

First, That the way to life is hard and strait, 1. It is 

I^IATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 261 

seen in the confessions and practices of multitudes 
that walk in the broad way : some never think on it; 
some are affrighted from it, when thinking there- 
upon. Upon this same account it is seen, that the 
way to life is narrow, 2. In that the truly godly find 
it very hard, and the longer, both the sweeter and 
the harder. They at first seem to attain something 
of sweetness in religion ; but afterwards, the work 
and the trials are better seen. 3. In the hypocrite's 
pain, which he finds in the external show of this 
strait way (Mai. iii. 14), though it be certain, that 
the hypocrite is not acquainted either with the sweet- 
est, or hardest part of religion. But besides the testi- 
mony of the word, the surest confirmation of this, 
and the clearest, will be by giving a particular ac- 
count of the straitness of this gate, and narrowness 
of this way to life. 

As the second thing wherein this stands, I shall 
give you a brief account of the way to life, and of 
the difficulty in each of them. And they all are but 
so many stages in this way, and passages that a be- 
liever must go through. 

1. The new birth, (John iii. 3, 6). A man is never 
in the way to heaven till this change pass over him. 
This is a change, 1. Of nature. Oh ! how hard is it 
for folks to put ofi" their nature ! They think they 
make excuse for any fault, when it is said to flow from 
their nature. This is a creation, (2 Cor. v. 17). 
2. It is a most perfect change of inclination and af- 
fections, that what was loved is hated now, and what 
hated is loved now : and people know what a pain 
there is in turning the inclination. 3. It is a change 
"wrought by another power than theirs, which renders 
it some way the harder, though the more sure and 


possible. Now, compare this new birth witli the na- 
tural birth, or with death, which is as the soul's birth 
into glory ; and the differences are very evident. 
Alas ! how many are there that stand at this gate, 
and by no means will pass it. What ! — change their 
natures and cast off all their beloveds 1 — they cannot 
hear of it. 

2. The strait gate of the covenant. Shall I call 
it strait, that is cast up so wide with a universal in- 
vitation 1 Yet I may venture to call it so. It is so 
strait, that no man with any of such baggage can 
enter it, or will be willing. 1. The proud unhumbled 
sinner cannot enter in here. He that comes not 
empty and lost in his own sight, cannot be admitted 
to make such a bargain with God for salvation. 
2. The resolved idolater that will not sell all for 
Christ in this bargain, and will not give up with all 
other lovers, to make a new covenant with Christ, 
cannot enter. (Matt. xiii. 44.) 

3. There is the new life, which is a part of this 
narrow way. This follows on the new birth, and is 
the soul's promise in the covenant, that he will lead 
a new life, (Rom. vi. 4). This new life is a great 
and rare thing. We shall not insist at large on it, 
but on a few properties of it. 

1. It is a life of faith, (Gal. ii. 20, Heb. x. 38). 
Formerly, the man lived by sense and reason : now, 
he doth by faith, looking on a promise as a good 
security ; and employing God, and acting faith on 
it, whenever he is in any strait. 

2. It is a life of sincerity and uprightness, or a sin- 
cere life. Hypocrisy and deceitful shows he striveth 
against, and in a great measure overcometh ; for 
there is now uprightness in the inward parts, and no 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 263 

corner of the heart that is reserved for any evil to 
lodge in, though it may be found there in too great 
abundance, (2 Cor. ii. 17). 

3. It is a life of holiness. The Holy Ghost is its 
author, the holy law of God the rule, and the holy 
Jesus the man's pattern and example. 

4. A growing life, and that all a man's days. This 
new life being duly cared for, attains growth as long 
as a man lives. 

This life is called '' new," because the man lived 
not this way before: and the rest of the world do 
not so, nor ever did, nor will do. It is different from 
the life of the world, in that it hath another food for 
its strengthening, and air for its breathing; another 
father, or another and more special way of begetting, 
another end it lives for and aims at, with other vital 

The third thing that shews the narrowness of the 
way to heaven, is the cross. This is laid in the way, 
and every man must resolve to take it up when he 
wins to it, and follow Christ. " Whosoever will 
come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his 
cross, and follow me," (Mark viii. 34). It is true, 
that every man meets with his crosses less or more ; 
but Christ deals very plainly with his people, in tell- 
ing them, 1. That their happiness is not to be ex- 
pected in this life, but in the seed and seal of it : 
he draws them to heaven by faith, to know what 
his love hath prepared for them, (1 Cor. xv. 19; Matt, 
xix. 28, 29). That they must lay their account in 
resolution with the greatest suffering, even of the loss 
of life, rather than to deny the least of his truth and 
words, (Matt. x. 38 ; Mark viii. 38). 3. And that 


all their life long, and every day, they may meet "with 
such things. 

The fourth thing that shews the narrowness of the 
way to heaven, is the work that is to be done by them 
that walk therein. As, 

1. The work of mortification, (Mark ix. 43, 45 ; 
Col. iii. 5,) and that especially to be extended unto 
the most beloved lust. How painful this is, many 
may know ; nay, many venture on hell, rather than 
thus to part with them. It stands also in some acts 
of faith, as, 1. That such a lust is forbidden of God, 
under pain of his displeasure. 2. In a striving reso- 
lution to gratify it in nothing. 3. In calling for 
help, both to mind and practice this resolution in our 

2. The work of self-denial. Whatever the lust be, 
as self-interest is very large, it must be denied, and 
the interest of God's glory and service must sway the 
soul in all things, (Mark viii. 34). ~ 

3. Tender and considerate watching. 

4. The work of running on in this way, and 
making daily progress, (1 Cor. ix. 24; Phil. iii. 10, 11). 

5. The work of fighting and wrestling with spi- 
ritual enemies, (Eph. vi. 10, 11) ; to watch, and learn 
skill to put on, and handle wisely our spiritual ar- 
mour with which the Lord has furnished us. 

The fifth and last thing which shews the strait- 
ness of the way to heaven, is the new trials that a 
Christian meets with, and none but he, and these 
from the Lord himself, for wise ends ; of which here- 
after, — as, 1. The swoonings and faintings of the 
soul through the Lord's withdrawing. (See Psalm 
xxiii. 3.) 2. The labour of wrestling with him, when 
his face is hid — a hard but ordinary trial. 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 265 

I may yet add further, the gate of death is a strait 
mid narrow gate, by which believers enter into life : 
— that after the trial of all these last, this remains, 
as the greatest difficulty ; not to speak of it in a na- 
tural sense, but only as it is a trial, wherein a miscar- 
rying is irretrievable : die amiss, and all is gone : — 
and also, as the soul is often in the least fitness for 
any work then. But the encouragements of faith in 
this are great and strong: Christ the conqueror is 
with his own in these trials. 

II. That the way to destruction is broad and easy, 
is seen, 

1. In that men are born with their faces and hearts 
towards this way; their inclinations lead them strongly 
to it : — there is no need of any change on them to fit 
them for it. 

2. They have multitudes of temptations suited to 
their sinful inclinations that, as a wind, drive them 
on in it. Many lusts are gratified by walking in this 
path, and many wise and noble after the flesh are 
treading in it. 

3. The Lord is often provoked, and may soon be, 
to take ofi" any restraints that stand in their way. 
(Psalm V. 10, 11). 

4. They ordinarily shift ofi" easily all crosses for 
Christ's sake, by complying with their carnal inclina- 

5. They walk at liberty from any inward spiritual 
bonds on their hearts and way. So it is called " a 
walking after the imagination of their own hearts," 
(Deut. xxix. 19); opposed expressly to a walking after 
the rule of the word. 

Caution. — Notwithstanding of all these things, 


yet there are circumstances of another nature, that 
shew their ways to be yet contrary to those : As, 

1. The way to life, on all these accounts, is easy, 
1. Because of the kindly delight that the new nature 
hath in all its difficulties and labour. 2. The lively 
hope of the glorious end of the way, (2 Cor. iv. 16, 17, 
18). 3. The gracious support and help of infinite 
strength. 4. The communications of joy and delight 
they feel in their works ; — a part of the encourage- 
ments allowed them in this life. 

As also, the way to destruction is strait, 1. In that 
all the walkers therein are in bonds and fetters to 
Satan, and their own lusts, (John viii. 34). 2. In that 
God often meets them with his warnings, and makes 
conscience fly in their faces, as the angel in Balaam's. 
3. They want not their own graceless cursed crosses, 
and ofttimes in as great a measure, as the truly godly 
do. 4. The fear of the issue is enough to embitter 
all for the present. 

Use. — Is the way to heaven narrow and strait ? — 
Then, how shameless is the graceless world, to re- 
proach the way of the godly as strict ! It is the most 
shameless slander that ever the world made. To call 
the godly ungodly is but a lie against them ; to re- 
proach the sincere as hypocrites, or the peaceable as 
seditious, — this is all little in regard of this, — to re- 
proach them for that which is their glory, and that 
even in scripture words ; to reproach them as puritans 
and precisians. Of the same nature is their commen- 
dation of men, as being men of latitude, and of a large 
walk in the matters of God. That we may insist a 
little more on this inference that is so clear and per- 
tinent, let us sift out the causes of this reproach. 

1. Carnal men naturally think all too little for this 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 267 

world, and any thing almost too much for the world 
to come. 

2. They generally conceive good hopes of them- 
selves, when walking according to this graceless prin- 

3. As they like not doctrines that cross these pre- 
cepts and practices of theirs, so, far worse, practices 
different from, and contrary to theirs ; for practice is 
a more living and abiding testimony than doctrine. 
Hence we see, that let professors profess what they 
will, if they agree in practice with the world, they 
are liked by it well enough. For instance — in a place 
given to scandalous misspending of time in tippling, if 
a professor invited to share with them, should simply 
say, he cannot in conscience come so near an appear- 
ance of evil ; this would vex the graceless company 
more, than if another should join with them, and even 
in their company speak of the strictness of the way 
to heaven. 

4. False doctrine, or false application of true doc- 
trine by ministers, hardens sinners mightily in their 
prejudice against strictness in God's ways : as also, 
the godly their placing too much of religion in little 
and small things, especially if of an indifferent nature 
in themselves. 

2. Then it is a good token of a right way, that it 
is narrow and strait ; and a shrewd suspicion of a 
false one, that it is broad — I mean, if it be represented 
as a way that leads to heaven : for the way of ga- 
thering churches of professors is quite different from 
this, and it is a woful mistake in people to confound 
them. There are three false ways that are broad : 
1. The way of intellect and morality — the Pharisee's 
way. (See Matt. vi. 19, 20.) 2. The way of external 


conformity to the letter of the law — an outward ser- 
vice. 3. The way of any church order under heaven, is 
but a broad way to heaven, let men make it never so 
strait; for as long as men only are judges of our way? 
there is a great latitude for hypocrisy, and much 
double dealing with God, if men's hearts be not 

Use 3. — Then, make a wise choice ; — it is laid 
before you, as even life and death, and their several 
ways. It is sad, that men should be at a stand what 
to choose ; but much more, that they should make 
a bad choice, even to choose death. 

I conclude with these few remarks: 1. The way 
and the end are inseparable ; therefore take both, 
or leave both. If you would have life, walk in the 
narrow way to it : if you will walk in the broad way, 
resolve to meet with destruction. 

2. The narrow way grows the longer the broader 
and easier, and the broad way the longer the nar- 
rower, till a man be in hell. It is joy to a godly man, 
that so much of his way is past : it is sore to the 
other, that it is so with him, and that there is so 
little remaining. 

3. Unless time be preferred to eternity, there is no 
comparison between the two. A time of trouble at 
worst — an eternity of ease, and joy, and life : a time 
of delight at best, and an eternity of destruction 
thereafter ; — is there any choice here with a reason- 
able man ? 

MATTHEW VII. 13. 14. 269 


" Enter ye in at the strait gate : for wide is the gate, and broad 
is the "way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go 
in thereat : Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that 
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." — Matt. vii. 13, 14. 

"We shall yet again enter on a further account 
of the hardness of the way to heaven, and of the 
broadness of the way to hell, both by further enlarg- 
ing on what was glanced at, and from new particulars : 
but the latter we shall bring in in the application. 

Besides what is said we shall now, 

1. Speak somewhat by way of caution, to prevent 

2. Some native doctrinal inferences from the whole 

3. Some lamentation and exhortation. 

I. For caution, take these things, — 1. For all these 
things that shew the way to life to be narrow, yet 
unto the godly man it is a most pleasant way. Oh ! 
with what delight doth he walk therein, with the 
heart lifted up in the ways of the Lord, as Jehoshaphat, 
(2 Chron. xvii. 6, Psalm i. 2, and cxix. 32, 59). It 
is a way of great breadth, though not for sin, yet for 
duty and delight, (Psalm cxix. 96). He makes haste 
and progress in it, (Psalm cxix. 60, Philip, iii. 13, 14). 
And on the contrary, the way of sin, and unto death, 
is dark and strait, and that because of the nature of 
the new exertion in the soul, (Rom. vii. 21, 22, 23). 
This makes many things sweet and easy that other- 


wise are hard. How much toil will a mother underofo 
about her own child? Why, all is natural to her. 
The strivings, and wrestlings, and fightings, are hard 
indeed unto the flesh ; but the new man likes them 
the better. See if it be not so with you in your toil 
in religion. Though there be something within that 
tires somewhat of work, there is somewhat within 
also that makes tiresome work sweet. The way of 
life is a pleasant way, because of the lively faith and 
hope of the prize, (Rom. viii. 18, 24, 25 ; 2 Cor. iv. 
16, 17, 18 ; Heb. x. 34). It is pleasant from the 
support and help of infinite strength, (2 Cor. xii. 8, 9, 
10 ; Isa. xl. 31). It is pleasant from the sweet en- 
joyments of fellowship with God they feel in the mean 
time. The simple and plain meaning of this truth 
is then in these : 1. That the way to heaven is full of 
great difficulties. 2. They are such as an unregenerate 
man cannot away with. 3. And such as a godly man, 
without courage and strength from heaven, would 
never wrestle through ; but with that strength, some- 
times finds them easy: — and again, it is for his ad- 
vantage to find them hard and strait. 

Second caution — Whatever breadth and wideness 
there is in the way to destruction, it is ofttimes on 
other accounts found strait. They find it bitter, and 
tire of it, (Hab. ii. 13). All the walkers therein, are 
bondslaves to sin and Satan, (John viii. 34, 44). 
God often meets them with warnings by his word and 
rod, as the angel did Balaam, and thereby conscience 
straitens them. Ahab, in the way to hell, met Elijah 
as an enemy, (1 Kings xxi. 20). Their fear of the 
issue embitters all for the present; and the vanity 
and cm|>tiness of all their idols to stay their hearts 
with solid satisfaction. The meaning of this then is 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 271 

— to corrupt nature the way to hell is easy, and that 
it is commonly felt so by the wicked. 

II. Draw some doctrinal inferences from the whole 

1. We see, then, that the Lord hath constituted a 
great difference betwixt the ways that lead men to 
their estates in another world, as to the gratifying of 
the flesh : the one strait to it, the other easy. We 
have said enough to confirm this ; the words are also 
clear for it. The reasons of this are, 1. Conformity 
to Christ the head, in the godly, who entered into 
glory by a strait way, as has been said. 2. It cannot 
otherwise be, supposing the Lord's design on his 
people to glorify himself, in the bearing them up, 
and in the exercise of grace. 3. Corruption being 
left in both — in the one wholly, in the other in part 
— makes it to be so as it is. 4. That the Lord may 
leave it to men's choice though he graciously deter- 
mine his own, by his hand, to choose life, whatever 
hardness be in the way. 

2. No man's testimony concerning the two ways 
can be of such service as a godly man's who hath 
walked in both — as none know so well without ex- 
perience what hell and heaven are, as the devils that 
have tasted of both ; and we see their malice bewray- 
eth it : — unless we except our Lord Jesus, who had a 
sort of experimental knowledge of both, as his readi- 
ness to save sheweth. And the witness of the godly 
is seen, 1. In that they all have turned out of that 
way, and never turn in again. 2. And they testify a 
vast difference between them, not only as to the 
issue, lut the way itself. And what means all their 
shame, and sorrow, and mourning for their walking 


in the broad way, but a testimony against the one, 
and for the other ? 

3. We see the true reason of the difference in the 
number of the saved and damned, is from the interest 
of the flesh, denied by a few, and indulged by the 
greater part : and we may wonder at the folly of men 
making so bad a choice of their way to eternity, as 
commonly they do. 

III. Lamentation and reproof. 

1. Over the godly who are questioning their way, 
because of the difficulty they find therein, whereas it 
ought rather to confirm them that they are in the 
right ; or who at any time look with envy on the 
ease of the foolish, (Psalm Ixxiii). 

2. Over the ungodly, who bless themselves that 
they never found any such hardship and straitening 
in godliness. It is strange but true, that the ungodly 
find these the most easy, that the godly find most 
hard ; as faith not only of divine truth, but of their 
interest in Christ — or that repentance is an easy thing 
with them — or the sincerity of their hearts : they 
think their hearts were always right : — or aboutprayer, 
and all religious duties. And this is because they 
know riot the true nature of all these great things. 

3. Over those who frame to themselves a religion 
free of all its difficulties. Men in professing to take 
the rule of the word for the rule of their religion, do 
often wrench and cut away all things that are hard 
therein in applying it. 

Lay aside that foolish and common opinion, that 
the way to heaven is easy. Oh, by all means beat it 
out of your minds ! I shall in pressing this exhorta- 
tion shew, 1. The commonness of the mistake. 2. 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 27^^ 

What are the causes of it. 3. What is its danger. 
4. How it may be removed. 

1. To shew the commonness of this opinion about 
the easiness of the way to heaven, it may serve to 
see men's confident hopes of getting safe thither, 
with their laziness in striving, or taking pains. This 
is unquestionable, that many of the most confident are 
most lazy. It is a common thing to see men of these 
sorts to be confident of heaven, 1. That never mor- 
tified one corruption, especially their darling one, 
nor ever endeavoured it. 2. Nor ever wrestled 
with God in prayer, as a hard work. 3. Nor ever 
watched over their hearts. 4. Nor ever deny them- 
selves. 5. Nor ever sanctify a day to the Lord in 
a spiritual manner. 6. Nor ever submit to a cross, 
that a little warping can prevent or shift. 

2. What are the causes of it. 1st, Men s own 
hearts are inclined to such a way, and so are easily 
prevailed with to think it is so. This inclination is 
strengthened by these : 1. A rooted ignorance of God 
in his greatness, holiness, and truth, — the root of all 
wickedness. 2. Ignorance of the nature of heaven 
and eternal life : he that knows the end and prize 
lost, is likliest to know what running and fighting are 
called for. 3. Ignorance of their enemies, their own 
hearts, and others : he that knows not his heart's 
corruption is not likely to take much pains to have 
it made better. 4. Undervaluing of eternal things, 
especially when compared with temporal. 

2d, Satan is busy in persuading to this, being cun- 
ning enough and well acquainted with his own inte- 
rests. If he could, he would keep all ignorant ; and 
if that cannot be, he strives to make them lazy, and 
lose their crown. 


3d, Mistakes of the practice of the godly. The un- 
godly see not the secret duties of the godly, nor their 
inward work in public duties, and therefore think 
them like tliemselves. 

4th, The ensnaring practice and principles of a care- 
less world about them. If they be like their neigh- 
bours and others, they think well of themselves. 

3. What is its danger. Its danger is great. This 
keeps them in the broad way, and great with peace 
of mind, and against all warnings and convictions. 
Hence is it sadly seen in experience that multitudes 
of professors keep it, and are most rarely awakened 
of any body else. 

4. How it is to be removed. 1. By the rule of 
the word. 2. The practice of the saints, as David 
and Paul (1 Cor. ix. 26, 27). 3. By an honest expe- 
riment. The last consideration is that of the text, 
which we shall now enter on. 

It is Christ's special will, and our special duty, to 
enter in, and keep on in the strait way that leads 
unto life. This is the scope of the words. If any 
scruple or doubt should remain about this, these 
things clear it : 1. It was Christ's special errand as a 
priest, to remove the otherwise immoveable impedi- 
ments lying in this way. 2. As a prophet, to teach 
the church the way. 3. As a king, to lead them in 
it, and help them on against all impediments that 
remain. 4. In his state of humiliation, he went be- 
fore us in this way as a pattern. 5. In that of ex- 
altation, he assureth us of the happy issue of striving; 
and in the room of his people, and as their head, 
hath taken possession of the kingdom. 6. The great 
principle that moved him, and the end he aimed at, 
was to have his Father's love, and wisdom, and grace, 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 275 

and his own, glorified in bringing sinners to heaven. 
As God, he accomplished the work by merit and 
strength ; as man, by suff'ering and example. So 
that it is abundantly clear that Christ envies not 
your walking in the way to life, but rather invites, 
commands, encourages, threatens, to stir you up to 
walk therein. 

That it is our special and main duty is also clear, 
not only on the former grounds, but, 1. Because this 
alone tends to the saving of the soul. 2. No duty 
whereby God can be actively glorified by us can be 
performed save in this way. But there is no difii- 
culty in this point, or necessity of clearing it. If it 
be the way, and the only way to heaven, then every 
one will judge it necessary to walk in it. 

Our work, then, mainly in opening up this exhor- 
tation, and preparing for its practice, stands, 1. In 
clearing what it is to enter in at the strait gate. 
2. In clearing the motives and arguments whereby 
Christ presseth it ; and then we shall also press it. 

1. "What is it to enter in at the strait gate ? It is, 
1st, To begin, and set forth well and rightly, in the 

practice of godliness. A good beginning is the one- 
half of the work. 

2d, It is to hold on and continue therein. Though 
the word " enter," at the first view, and in the para- 
bolic phrase, seems not to imply this, yet necessarily 
it is implied, in that heaven itself is the end ; and 
all the course that leads thither is spoken of as a 
gate and a way. Though our Lord's way of speak- 
ing may shew that the main difiiculty is in right 
beginning, and that they that begin, and enter in, 
never go out of it again. 

2. What are his arguments to press it ? They are, 


the wideness of the way to destruction, and the mul- 
titude of walkers therein, — which say to us these 
things : 

1. That the greatness and commonness of danger 
should be a sharp spur to duty. The Lord allows a 
lawful exercise of self-love ; and oh that it were more 
in exercise amongst you ! The report of destruction 
should make salvation more lovely, and all the means 
that lead unto it, even those that are hardest. 

2. The multitude of walkers in a way, of itself is 
no sound argument for its goodness, nor that it shall 
have a good end. Christ would not have his people 
to follow the multitude : they are to be a singular 
people as to their way of walking. 

The second argument is from the nature of the 
way that leads unto life, which saith, — 

1. Our Lord is very free and faithful in warning 
his people of all inconveniences they may meet with 
in the way ; which being duly pondered, may prevent 
many stumblings. 

2. The difficulty of the way to heaven makes many 
hold on in the way to hell. The wicked know the 
straitness of the way to heaven. I named this 
amongst the general truths. But now, how come 
they to know the way to be strait, since they never 
walked in it 1 They know it by what they hear in 
the word ; by what they see in the saints ; by what 
they feel in the form of religion ; by what their lusts 
teach them to fear there is in godliness ; — and this, 
compared with what they feel in the broad way, 
varies the case from what hath been already spoken 
of them. 

Now, to press this exhortation on you in the close 
of all this purpose, I would desire you to gather and 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 277 

compose your spirits, and reflect on what hatli been 
said, and proved, and cleared, 1. That there are 
two different states after this life abiding all men : 
there must you shortly be. 2. There are two diffe- 
rent ways that lead thither. 3. It fares with men 
according to the way they take. 4. There is a wide 
difference between the numbers of the walkers in the 
two ways. 5. And that, from the great difference 
in the ways. "We have also taken a closer view of 
the words, and shewn you, and proved, that the 
way to heaven is narrow, and to hell broad, by seve- 
ral illustrations, though many more might be ad- 
duced, and they that are named never insisted on. 
And lastly, that our Lord is willing you should walk 
in the way to life, and escape destruction ; and hath 
bound it on you by his command, as your duty ; and 
hath sent me to proclaim this his will, and to declare 
to you your duty. 

My question then is, Do you believe these things 
or not ] If you do not, propose your scruples : how 
easy a work it is to clear them ! And what use do 
you intend to make of them ^ Say not, you expect 
to hear that of me, for if you believed these divine 
truths, you would use them quickly. But I will tell 
you what use you do make of them, ere I tell you 
what you ought to make. " I make use of all," may 
one say, " for further informing of my understanding 
about these things;" and thus people learn still to 
know more and more, and mind to practise nothing. 
Some will make use of these things for rendering 
them more censorious and suspicious of others. It 
is far easier to instruct one how to see a mote in an- 
other's eye, than a beam in his own ; and he is far 
more inclined to the one than the other. 


The use you should make of all this, is to look upon 
your own way, and see wherein you find it strait and 
narrow. Oh, for the Lord's sake, try yourselves in 
this ! It is not past hope, even though all be amiss. 
Do you walk in a way so broad as to give room to 
any allowed sin, or willingly neglected duty ? Then 
you are not in Christ's strait way. Or is it so strait 
that you perceive you can make no progress therein 
with such a load 1 Then is it good. How came you 
into that way 1 Was it by Jesus Christ 1 And is it 
in him that you yet walk ? Or are you dreaming that 
there is no farther use of Christ in helping you to 
heaven, but in dying for you 1 Oh, sad mistake ! 
Must he not dwell in you by his Spirit, — lead, and 
guide, and protect you 1 Is your way so broad, that 
you can escape your enemies 1 Or so narrow, that 
you must go through them ? Have you the multitude 
walking with you, or are you much alone % The way 
of whole parishes travelling to heaven is not the 
king's highway. A believer, though he have com- 
pany, yet in a manner he is alone : he hath as much 
work as if there were none but himself. 

After reflecting on and examining of your way, if 
you find you are in the strait way that leads to life, 
then, I exhort you, be cheerful : go on in the strength 
of the Lord. Your way hath a good end, and you 
shall shortly feel it : your helper is strong. Be pain- 
ful and diligent ; strive on, wrestle, press through all ! 
Weary not of well-doing ; mind your work heartily ; 
your reward is sure. Bring forth your faith and pa- 
tience, and use them nobly, for great shall be your 
victory in the latter end of the day. 

As for you whose consciences may convince you 
that as yet you have not walked in this way, and 

MATTHEW VII. 13, 14. 279 

know within yourselves that you have a pretty easy 
work in godliness, know of a truth and certainty that 
this way will bring you to destruction, for God threat- 
ens it ! How terrible is it, for God inflicts it and 
lays it on ! Meditate a while on this. Will the Most 
High alter his word that hath gone out of his mouth 
in righteousness, for ease to your sinful flesh 1 Where 
hath he said that the lazy shall be crowned, or that 
a fighter against God, and a friend of sin and Satan, 
shall be rewarded with eternal life 1 Then, leave it 
betimes — even now : make a good choice. The ways 
and the ends are set before you. Consider how frail 
and uncertain your life is ; how uncertain the gos- 
pel's continuance with you is, and any power attend- 
ing it ; how the way will be to you the straiter, the 
longer that you delay entering in thereat. And if 
you have a mind to be saved, hearken to these ad- 
monitions. Put away your foolish opinions about 
those ways, and fill your understanding with the cer- 
tain truth of God in this matter. Lay aside your 
lazy practices, and take pains about your souls. Enter 
in at the strait gate, and walk on in the narrow way 
that leads unto life. And let these be your prac- 
tices : Enter in Jesus Christ, and have him dwelling 
in your hearts by faith, and abide in him, and walk 
in him. Lay aside every sin, especially your beset- 
ting sin. Take up every duty, and every thing that 
is in duty, — the inward spiritual part thereof. And 
thus you will find the way sweeter than you think 
for, and an abundant entrance shall be ministered 
unto you into the kingdom of God. 




" Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace 
given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable 
riches of Christ." — Ephes. hi. 8. 

IN these words, the blessed apostle repeateth the 
same thing he spoke in the preceding verse, of his 
call, and being constituted a minister of the mys- 
teries of the gospel, and that of free grace ; with the 
addition of a very humble designation he giveth to 
himself, — " less than the least of all saints ;" and a 
very high and deep expression of the great subject of 
his preaching, — the unsearchable riches of Christ. 
This last word of the text only we intend to insist 
on, as being most pertinent for us. And before we 
come to observe any thing, we would first a little 
clear the words. And, 

1. By " riches of Clirist," ye are not to understand 
that riches which consists in outward and worldly 
valuable things, though indeed Christ be the most 
sovereign owner of all the gold of the earth ; but we 
are mainly to understand that treasure and store- 
house which is in Him, of all divine perfections of 
grace and glory, of which more another time. It is 
a phrase that denotes the plenty of the riches, their 


excellency, and their suitableness to answer all neces- 

2. They are said to be " unsearchable," — not that 
it is unlawful to search into them, in as far as they 
are revealed ; or that by such searching, by the 
Lord's grace and Spirit, a man may not attain unto 
some sight and knowledge of them. Nay, this apostle 
doth in this chapter, verse 4, and in 2d Corinthians 
xi. 6, avow his knowledge in the mystery of Christ ; 
but only, that they are so many and great that no 
finite understanding can search them out unto per- 
fection ; as it is said of God, (Job. xi. 7, 8). And 
here, by the way, we have an argument for the divi- 
nity of Jesus Christ. If there be unsearchable riches 
of Christ, he must be something more than a crea- 

The riches of Christ are unsearchable ; or his ex- 
cellency, and the treasures of it in Jesus Christ, are 
unsearchable. For the opening and clearing of this 
precious truth, and making way for the manifold 
usefulness of it, we would take notice of these two 
things : 1. What the riches and excellencies of Christ 
are. 2. How they are unsearchable : what sort of 
searching into them is commanded, and what forbid- 

As to the first, — the riches and excellencies of 
Christ. This is one of the vastest subjects of all the 
truths of God, or rather, it containeth the whole 
truths of the gospel ; yea, all that is revealed in the 
word, of God and man, may be reduced to this. It 
is the main subject of the gospel ; the main of preach- 
ing is here ; the main of a Christian's meditation in 
this life is here. Yea, it is very likely that the main 
exercise of the glorified above is about this. It is, 


then, doubtless, an excellent theme to discourse upon, 
and there is much need of holy hearts and affections 
in speaking and hearing of it. 

We are, then, no further to speak or think of it 
than is revealed ; and indeed there is more revealed 
than saint or angel can duly speak or think of. And 
yet all that is revealed, is far from declaring plenti- 
fully the matter as it is. 

Consider, then, in the first place, the excellency 
and riches of His person. God the Son, equal in all 
divine perfections with the Father, (Heb. i. 3) ; the 
brightness of his glory, and the express character or 
image of his person. To discourse upon his excel- 
lency on this account, were to undertake to speak of 
all the glorious perfections and attributes of God 
which are revealed in the word, which is a vast sub- 
ject and dreadful. But because he is man also, we 
are to consider that nature in him. That holy sin- 
less flesh which he took upon him wants not its own 
excellencies. But especially the soul of Jesus Christ, 
that singular and rare creature, (for it was made, and 
doubtless with as transcendent excellencies as a crea- 
ture was capable of). Oh, what treasures of holiness 
and purity, of grace and glory, were there, and are 
there in it ! And his riches on this account is evi- 
dently useful, since it was requisite that the Mediator 
should be God-man. 

But to come a little lower, in the second place con- 
sider, that from this personal union of his human na- 
ture with his divine person, and his undertaking of 
the work of redemption in that manner, there was a 
pouring out of the Spirit without measure upon him, 
so that he became the fountain of all fulness of grace 
and glory. The fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him 


from all eternity, personally, in some sense, and that 
is in his person ; but now, upon this undertaking, it 
dwelt in him bodily, (Col. ii. ix, and i. 19). This 
pleased the Father, that in him shall all fulness dwell. 
A Mediator so qualified we stood in need of, as will 
be seen in the particulars of the management of this 

Thirdly, Consider his riches and excellency in the 
discharge of the office of Mediator, being thus so 
sufficiently qualified for it. And this taketh in all 
that he did and suff'ered ; all he did before he came 
in the fulness of time, and all that he now doth, and 
shall do to the last day. But only to touch a few 
particulars, consider, 

1. The freedom of his mercy in taking upon him 
this office of Mediator. Nothing constrained him : 
he was absolutely free. If his own love in a manner 
constrained him, the more lovely and excellent is he. 
What happiness wanted he 1 What can be added to 
him ? If all men had perished, he had lost nothing. 
But indeed, when he hath taken on him the work of 
saving his own, none of them can perish. Had he 
such a desire to have a company of sinful men and 
women to be with him for ever 1 Who can suffi- 
ciently admire it '? Our misery calls for this riches of 
grace and mercy. 

2. Consider his excellency of love, not only in tak- 
ing it on, but when such and such things were called 
for by the justice of God, from the Surety. This is 
more wonderful. If the redemption of all the elect 
had cost him but one petition or word to justice, it 
had been matchless love to have bestowed it. But 
when it was required that he should be a man, and 
such a man, — and lead such a life, and die such a 


death, — to be accused by the law, deserted of his 
Father and of all creatures, and to have Satan and 
the world let loose upon him, — oh, what love is here, 
and how great riches and excellency ! 

3. And as he refused not to undertake the em- 
ployment, because of foreseen dangers and difficulties, 
so when he undertook it he did not faint nor was 
discouraged because of them. He was born of a 
mean woman; he was persecuted from his cradle 
to his grave. All temptations, all trials from God, 
and men, and devils, were in his cup. And after se- 
veral years' living thus a man of sorrows (it was his 
name, sorrowful), and acquainted with the saddest 
griefs (these were his most constant companions), 
near his death, the entire cup of wrath, and the dregs 
of it, for the numberless sins of all the elect, was 
presented unto him ; and after some holy submissive 
strugglings of sinless human nature at the receiving 
of such a deluge of wrath, it was drunk up, and the 
full price paid upon the cross for these souls for whom 
from all eternity he had bargained with the Father. 
What riches and excellency of love are there in 
this ! (Rev. i. 5, 6.) He not only drank up the 
wrath which our sins deserved (which was indeed the 
cause of his death), but because there was a remain- 
ing spottedness in our souls, he took his own blood, 
and washed us in it. He not only drank that which 
was as poison to kill him, even the wrath due to our 
sins, but he took his heart's blood to wash away the 
stains that those sins had made in our souls. Our 
sinfulness and pollution call for his richness of mercy. 

4. As his love and courage were admirable in go- 
ing through these things, so his humility, meekness, 
and compassion come next to be considered. He was 


not only by line of the blood-royal, as the son of 
David according to the flesh, but especially, as God- 
man, he was the heir of all things. Yet his first 
cradle is a manger, and his entertainment in the 
world very coarse. When he came out to his public 
ministry, how poor and contemptible was his out- 
ward appearance to the world ! He declares himself 
that he was below the very foxes and birds, as to the 
constancy and settledness of his shelter. He came 
to save the world, and yet every man almost was 
against him, except a few despised ones. But he was 
not discouraged, though grieved with their ingrati- 
tude. He ate with sinners, and he laid his holy hand 
upon the leper's skin. He did not cry, nor lift up 
nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. Our 
stubbornness and rebellious carriage called forth this 

5. His riches of wisdom do eminently appear in 
the matter of redemption. The manifold wisdom 
of God doth appear here. It is one of the most glo- 
rious and deep contrivances ; it is the chief of the 
ways of God we may well say. Justice is fully 
satisfied, mercy notwithstanding eminently shines. 
Sinners are saved, and pardoned freely. The wisdom 
of it stands in his choosing so fit means for attaining 
the end ; the only fit ones ; and in ordering these 
means wisely, for reaching that end. His end is to 
reconcile God and man, and to bring man into the 
favour and friendship of God. God's justice stands 
in the way of bestowing favour upon man ; man's 
sinfulness separates betwixt God and him. Justice 
must be satisfied ; and both mean's guilt and debt, 
and the power of sin must be removed, ere the Lord 
accept of him. Blessed Jesus hath first justice to 


satisfy, whicli lie dotli, by laying down his own blood ; 
a most sufficient price. This, as a price, reconciles 
God to us, and in its efficacy washes the souls of 
his people ; and when applied by faith, renews them, 
and works in them love to God. And more particu- 
larly his wisdom appears, in applying himself unto 
us, and taking on him these offices and employments, 
in the discharge whereof, he fully maketh up all we 
stand in need of. Because we are enemies to God 
in our hearts, he subdues us as a king, and bringeth 
us into subjection, and removeth our natural rebellion. 
Because we are guilty of sin, he maketh atonement 
for us to justice, by the sacrifice of himself ; and that 
this sacrifice may have still its efficacy in our re- 
newed transgressions, he still maketh intercession for 
us. Because we are ignorant of God and his will, 
he revealeth these things unto us by his word and 
Spirit, that we may savingly know these things which 
belong to our peace and salvation. We have many 
enemies in our way to heaven : he subdueth these, 
taketh away their deadly sting, and defendeth from 
any mortal harm from their assaults. He giveth 
laws unto us as a king, how to carry ourselves in our 
duty ; he giveth as a prophet, discerning, to know 
and understand them ; enableth us to give obedience ; 
and when that fails, he obtaineth pardon for failings. 
What a manifold wisdom doth appear in all this, and 
what riches of wisdom ! 

6. The riches of his righteousness do appear in the 
matter of redemption. " I counsel thee," he says, 
" to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest 
be rich ; and white raiment, that thou mayest be 
clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not 
appear ; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that 


thou may est see," (Rev. iii. 18). This righteousness 
is -what Christ hath not only as a holy man or God, 
but that which he attained in our name by his per- 
fect obedience and satisfaction, which is imputed 
unto us. 

7. Consider the riches of his power and might. 
He is the arm of the Lord, — he on whom our help 
and strength are laid. 1. His overcoming and re- 
moving, as it were, justice out of the way of his peo- 
ple's happiness, proves this. 2. His subduing all of 
them, for all were once rebels and enemies to himself. 
3. In preserving his own interest in the hearts of his 
people, and in his church, against so much opposi- 
tion from so many enemies ; which speaketh much 
riches of strength and power. 4. In making his ene- 
mies tremble before him, by his presence in his 
church and ordinances ; making them to fear, as be- 
fore an army with banners. 

8. Consider the riches of his glory and majesty 
shining in all this great work. Not only as God, 
equal with the Father, is his glory infinite ; but even 
in the discharge of his mediatory work, his glory was 
and is conspicuous. " We beheld his glory, the glory 
as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace 
and truth," (John i. 14), and "He manifested forth 
his glory," (John ii. 11). All his miracles were glo- 
rious things, though blinded sinners could not behold 
him. His suffering was a most glorious business as 
ever was accomplished, albeit the outside of it, and 
what was discernible by carnal eyes, seemed to be 
quite contrary. So also there is great glory in the 
sufferings of his people ever since ; and all the glory 
is his, for it is for his cause and by the assistance of 
his Spirit they suffer. 1. It is for the gloiy of his 


person. 2. Of his works of preaching and miracles. 
3. Of his sufferings and death. 4. Of his resurrection. 
5. Of his ascension. 6. Of his guiding his church till 
the end. 7. Of his last coming to judgment. 

Now, a word, how it is they are unsearchable, and 
how far lawfully we may and ought to search. They 
are unsearchable, because infinite and incomprehen- 
sible by our shallow understandings. Angels do pry 
into them, and with a holy kind of curiosity desire to 
know more and more of the mysteries of the gospel ; 
but even their understanding, though far above ours, 
cannot comprehend them fully. We may search into 
them upon these conditions : 1. That we go not be- 
yond what is revealed in the word. Our natural 
curiosity is here carefully to be bounded and limited 
" to the law and to the testimony : if they speak not 
according to this word, it is because there is no light 
in them," (Isa. viii. 20). 2. That we in searching 
from the word, labour to have the Spirit to open 
these things unto us, and to sanctify our hearts to 
receive them suitably. An irreverent fearless search- 
ing into these things even from the word, may ruin 
• us as much as going beyond the word : for as we can- 
not be preserved from error in judgment, if we be 
not guided by the light of the word ; so, there are 
heart-errors we cannot escape, if we have not the 
Spirit with the word. 3. Our end in searching must 
be sincere ; not to satisfy our understandings, by at- 
taining to some apprehensions of these noble things, 
but to have the graces of the Spirit in our souls re- 
vived, and in life, love, reverence. 

For the uses of these truths, they are more than 
can be numbered easily. 

Use 1. I would recommend this duty to you, to 


be much in the meditation of the riches and excel- 
lency of Jesus Christ. It may be, some may think 
the time better spent in studying to know some pro- 
found notions and truths concerning other points of 
religion. This I am sure of, that the solid life of 
religion, and power of godliness, consist in these 
points that many giddy people may think common 
and easily known ; and that it is a sad token of a 
decayed backslidden soul, when such things are be- 
come unsavoury, and when they itch after other 
things more remote from heart-exercise in godliness. 
But to those who savour the things of God, I would 
recommend this study unto them, and that from these 
advantages : 

1. By this mean you shall attain unto more con- 
formity unto Jesus Christ in his glorious holiness. 
And is not this very desirable ? Conversing with him 
by faith and love would make it remarkable to ene- 
mies that you have been with Jesus, (Acts iv. 13). 
Beholding his glory worketh a glorious change into 
the same image in the beholder : " We all with open 
face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, 
are changed into the same image from glory to glory, 
even as by the Spirit of the Lord," (2 Cor. iii. 18). 

2. By this you shall attain unto fellowship with 
him, (1 John i. 1, 2, 3). And this is the very life 
of a believer, the health of his countenance. 

3. You shall hereby attain unto a quickening and 
reviving of all the graces of his Spirit in you. All 
graces act in him and his fulness, and there is not a 
more native way of getting these brought out into 
actings, than by serious meditation on this blessed 

4. And lastly, and consequentially from the former, 



you shall attain unto such sweet manifestations of 
these riches in him which no tongue can express, — 
which are best known by feeling. You will see his 
loveliness, and find manifestations of his love to you 
in particular. You shall know what that joy un- 
speakable and glorious (1 Pet. i. 8), that fulness of 
joy is (1 John i. 4) ; yea, to be filled with all the ful- 
ness of God, (Ephes. iii. 19). 

Use 2. It is this blessed One, and his riches and 
excellency, which we would recommend unto all that 
are yet strangers unto him. Riches are a great at- 
tractive : where are there any comparable to those 
in him ? If your hearts be capable of afi'ection to a 
lovely object, here is the fairest of the sons of men. 
If you desire happiness, come here and get it. Are 
you afraid of wrath and hell ? — come here to the 
shelter and high tower. 

Use 3. We would recommend them unto the 
Lord's own. Here is strong consolation, and good 
hope through grace. In these cases, doth the sense 
of sin in its guilt exercise you ? — see here riches of 
merit in him to satisfy justice on your account : act 
faith on him, and you are secure from all hazard. 
Is the strength of temptations your exercise, and the 
power of a body of death 1 — here are riches of heal- 
ing and sanctifying grace. Do you doubt of your 
interest in God, and of your title to heaven ? I an- 
S';7er from this, " Have you an interest in these riches 
or not ^" If you think you have not, then labour to 
have an interest in them, and you have it, if you ask 
it seriously. If you dare not deny a claim to Christ, 
and yet doubt of your salvation, you sin greatly ; for 
he will lose none of his own, and hath confirmed it 
by his word and oath. Are you exercised with the 


case of the Lord's public work, and of the interests 
of his glory and kingdom in the world 1 It is a noble 
exercise ; oh, if it were more common and ordinary! 
Yet, fear not ; he will deal prudently ; he shall be 
exalted and entitled, and made very high. He can- 
not faint nor be discouraged : he will accomplish his 
purposes, gather in his elect, and perform all his pro- 
mises to his people, and his threatenings against all 
his enemies. The greatest part of his work is already 
done : justice is satisfied, the price is paid and ac- 
cepted, and the captives shall go free. It is long 
since he said, " He comes quickly," and he will per- 
form it in due time ; and then shall we see more of 
the excellency and riches of Christ than we either 
could believe, or hear, or think of ; the wicked to 
their eternal sorrow, and the godly to their everlast- 
ing joy. 

Use 4. What a sad matter is it that such an ex- 
cellent one hath so little of our love and afi'ection ! 
All loveliness is in him, and all our love is called 
for ; and where it is elsewhere bestowed, it is but 
sinfully wasted upon vanity. As in all things he 
hath the pre-eminence in point of perfection in him- 
self, so ought he above all things to have the pre- 
eminence in the affections of our souls. There are 
three attractives of love among men — excellency and 
worth, near relationship, and obligations and favours; 
all of which are eminently in him. 

Use 5. Of instruction. Are there unsearchable 
riches in him, and in some sort unsearchable empti- 
ness and poverty in us 1 — here is a blessed match and 
meeting. Think not to live upon your own store 
and stock, but upon his. When you want any thing, 


come hither for supply, for here only it is to be had. 
Fear not that this treasure can be exhausted. It is 
a great sin to desire to live upon our own sufficiency. 
The poor in spirit are pronounced blessed, but only 
such as seek the unsearchable riches of Christ. 




" Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my 
presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your 
own salvation with fear and trembling ; for it is God which worketh 
in you both to will and to do of his goodpleasure." — Philip, ii. 
12, 13. 

THERE be two great evils in judgment and prac- 
tice, which in all ages of the Church have, upon 
the right and left hand, made many to pervert the 
straight ways of the Lord. One is, a pleading for 
and practising of a carnal liberty from gospel duties 
and commands, upon a woful mistake of the nature 
of gospel privileges, and of the dispensation of the 
grace of God therein. This is a turning of the grace 
of God into wantonness. Another extreme is, a 
turning of gospel commands into legal, and a plead- 
ing so for obedience thereunto ; self- ability (abstract 
from the influences of grace) to perform that obe- 
dience, and a proper merit resulting from that per- 
formance, that confidence in the flesh is proclaimed, 
and the grace of God made a cypher. What in- 
fluence the former hath had in the raising and main- 
taining of the heresies of the Antinomians, Familists, 
Quakers, &c., none but strangers in our Israel can 
be ignorant. And what influence the other extreme 


hath had in raising the Arminian, Popish, and Soci- 
nian heresies, all that are acquainted with the case 
of the church of God, both abroad and at home, do 
know but too sadly. Yea, how great an influence 
the darkness and confusion in the minds of many of 
the Lord's people concerning the due harmony of the 
sovereign influence of the grace of God, with the 
natural liberty of the will concurring ; the due ac- 
knowledgment of the necessity of that influence, and 
the obligation to the practice of duties, notwith- 
standing of the want of it, hath upon their spiritual 
condition, every one who hath an ear to hear, and a 
heart to understand, and grace to search his own 
heart, doth in some measure know. 

Therefore, though it be not so wholly suitable to 
the nature of this exercise, to prosecute debates with 
the adversaries of truth ; yet because of the advan- 
tage that those on either extreme do pretend to have 
hence for their error, and the real advantage which 
this place doth give to refute the one and the other, 
I shall therefore, ere I come to the practical improve- 
ment of them, glance a little at both. In which 
handling, I shall divide the text, give the literal 
meaning, clear it from their objections, point out the 
things here held out, with their influence on our 
practice in religion. 

These words come in among the gracious exhorta- 
tions which the Holy Ghost giveth by Paul's pen 
unto these believing Philippians. In the beginning 
of the twelfth verse, the apostle, having praised their 
former obedience, whereof he was a witness whilst 
among them, and expressed his charitable confidence 
of their continuance and increase in that obedience, 
even in his absence, as an insinuatory preface unto 

PHILIPPIANS II. 12, 13. 295 

what he was to say ; he then setteth down a most 
weighty exhortation, and backeth it with an encou- 
raging argument, in verse loth. In the exhortation 
are three things: 1. The act itself in the duty en- 
joined, " work out." 2. The subject-matter where- 
about this act is to be exercised, " your own salva- 
tion." 3. The qualification of this act about this sub- 
ject, " with fear and trembling." 

As to the first, there needs little to be said of it, 
it being so very clear. It is not simple working, but 
a diligence in working called for, and continuance in 
that diligence, until the perfect end of the work be 
attained. This is the force of the original word. 

The second — the subject-matter wherabout this act 
is to be exercised — " your own salvation." We shall 
not stand upon the various acceptations of this word 
in scripture, as sometimes signifying the means of sal- 
vation, (Heb. ii. 3 ; 1 Pet. i. ix) ; sometimes the sav- 
ing effect of those means upon the called (2 Tim. i. 
9) ; sometimes the accomplishment of this begun sal- 
vation in heaven. We take it not here as importing 
both beginning, progress, and perfection of salvation; 
for he is speaking to those in whom the work was 
already begun, as in chap. i. verse 6. But the evi- 
dence of the scope bindeth us to aver, that here the 
apostle presseth them to a diligent advancing, and 
a constant progress in the work and course of their 
salvation, the way of truth and holiness, wherein al- 
ready they were engaged. This salvation is called 
" their own," not that the doctrine of it was of their 
own devising and framing ; or that their walking up 
unto that doctrine by faith and obedience, was of 
their own strength (in that sense, salvation is only of 
the Lord, and Christ is the inventor of the doctrine. 


iind the author and finisher of the work of salvation); 
but that it was theirs by a gifted right and possession. 
They were the parties to whom the doctrine of salva- 
tion was imparted, in whom it was begun, and on 
whom it was to be accomplished. 

The third thing is, the qualification of this com- 
manded exercise, " with fear and trembling." This, 
enemies to the certainty and assurance of faith, and 
to the perseverance of the faithful, draw to their ad- 
vantage. In opposition to which mistake, I shall 
only give the meaning of this word, and confirm it 
from the analogy of faith, and the context, omitting 
what the deluded Quakers may allege hence for their 
energumenical shakings, as unworthy of any regard. 
All agree, that by fear and trembling one and the 
same thing is signified. This qualification of duty 
is several times used, sometimes in cases difi'erent from 
this, as in 1 Corinthians ii. 3; Ephesians, vi.5; some- 
times in cases that are as it were parallel with this, as 
Psalm ii. 11 ; Rom. xi. 20. All which do clear us in 
this, that it is only humility, sense of our own weak- 
ness and infirmity, which is here called for ; and if 
you will, include in it the filial fear of God ; which 
do no way plead for doubting and diffidence as to the 
issue, which is the thing their adversaries plead for. 
For the security of saints, and the certainty of their 
perseverance, is not founded upon any thing in them- 
selves, but upon the veracity of the promiser, the al- 
ways eff'ectual intercession of Christ, and the indwell- 
ing of the Spirit. So that a holy fear of falling 
because of sinful weakness, can no ways shake these 

But that we may further clear the nature of the 
fear called for, omitting many distinctions used by 

PHILIPPIANS II. 12, 13. 297 

divines in this case, we shall only name this : Fear is 
either of the issue — hell ; or of the means leading to 
it — sin ; both either absolute or conditional. Abso- 
lute fear of hell is despair ; diametrically opposite to 
faith, and forbidden by all these commands in scrip- 
ture, requiring faith and trusting in the Lord, as a 
part of our worship. Conditional fear of hell ; that 
is, " I fear hell, if I walk in the ways leading unto 
it," is a sanctified mean of God's appointment for 
escaping it, by eschewing of those ways that lead unto 
it. Absolute fear about the means ; that is, that I 
be given up wholly to a final neglect of the means of 
grace, and to a total revolting from God, in the prac- 
tice of sin without repentance, is all one with despair ; 
and is forbidden by the whole tenour of the covenant 
of grace. Conditional fear about the means, that 
is, "I fear, if I watch not, and do not lean unto 
Christ's strength, I may fall into sin," is also a sanc- 
tified mean for escaping of sin, and so of the fear of 
hell. And this is all one with Calvin's distinction 
upon this place. " There is a fear," saith he, " which 
begets carefulness in duty with humility (which is 
here required) ; and a fear which begets anxious 
doubting in whatever required." Hence it is observ- 
able in experience, and evident in spiritual reason, 
that the more there be in any, of this holy conditional 
fear, and the more fruitful it be in its native efi'ects 
of humility, diligence, self-denial, and trusting in 
their Lord's strength, the more clear is the man's as- 
surance of salvation. And this sense of the words, is 
much confirmed by the subsequent words. For what 
an absurd consequence would the adversaries make of 
it! " God works both to will and to do : therefore, 


do you your duty doubiingly, without any assurance 
of the end." 

This leads us to the second, wherein we have, 
1. The causal particle /or knitting these words, as an 
encouraging argument with the former. 2. Who it 
is that is the author of this encouragement ; — God. 
3. Wherein his help consisteth ; efficaciously work- 
ing both to will and to do : effijcaciously as the ori- 
ginal imports. 4. The fountain from whence this 
help flows — his free will, " good pleasure." Not that 
which simply denotes his sovereignty in doing or not 
doing as he pleaseth, (which would not so agree with 
the scope) ; but that kindly favour which he bears to 
his own in Jesus Christ, which though he manifest it 
sovereignly in some sort, yet is it always with a respect 
to their good. 

Concerning almost all of these, the enemies of 
truth do move debates. But not to be tedious in 
these matters, especially in an exercise of this nature, 
I shall only hint at some few things, which may clear 
the truth, and remove any objection the adversaries 
do propound against them. As, 1. That such com- 
mands as are here do not infer any thing but obliga- 
tion to duty ; and no ways any ability to perform 
them, or any merit in performance. 2. That the 
determining influence of the grace of God upon the 
will is consistent with its natural liberty. 3. How 
that the acknowledging of this influence doth take 
away any ground of being called co-workers with God 
in the business of our salvation, in the Popish and 
Arminian sense, and yet giveth no ground to the 
libertine extreme. 4. How that this assorting of the 
whole into grace is an argument to diligence. 

PHILIPPIANS II. 12, 13. 299 

First, That this command to " work out" doth not 
import self-ability to obey, nor any merit to result 
from obedience, is so clear from the connection of 
the argument with the command, that I would not 
so much as have started it, if the natural corruption 
of men's hearts were not so extravagant as it is, and 
that adversaries do make use of it, and the learned, 
in commenting upon the place, do remove it. 

1. The prime import of all commands to duty, is 
a revelation of God's will of obedience ; and as they 
hold forth what his will is about duty, so they infer 
an obligation to performance. 2. That the Lord 
being holy and just, requireth nothing but what is or 
was in the power of the person commanded to obey, 
either in his own person or in his representative. 3. 
That gospel commands, in their prime import, are of 
the same nature with legal ; and consequently, men 
are punished for disobedience of the one as well as of 
the other, because, legally considered, they were in 
their representatives endued with power to obey. 4. 
Yet gospel commands, as given by the Lord to his 
own covenanted people, are sanctified means for 
working and procuring of obedience. Not that they 
are a moral mean, to stir up the godly to exert any 
strength in themselves in performing acts of obedi- 
ence; but, 1. Because they discover the Lord's will, 
and their obligation to obedience thereto : 2d, Because 
from this accidentally is discovered their inability to 
yield obedience as in themselves, which produces 
self-denial. 3d, From this floweth, by the Lord's 
blessing, acts of faith upon the fulness and sufficiency 
of their Surety, wherein stands their stability and 
strength for all things, (Philip, iv. 13). Yea, we 
may say, that in all gospel commands, as tendered 


to those in Christ, there is included a promise of 
grace to obey ; and in this they are distinguished 
from legal commands. But the simple reading of 
these words, and the considering of the connection of 
the argument with the command, is enough to silence 
such cavillers, if the verdict of the Holy Ghost pro- 
nounced against their error were enough to silence 
them : the words that follow, containing the fullest 
expressions of the entire help of God's grace, which 
a godly man stands in need of, both for willing and 
doing ; and consequently, of the weakness of a rege- 
nerate man, as in himself considered. 

The second thing to be cleared is, How the deter- 
mining influence of the grace of God upon the will 
(here asserted) consisteth with its natural liberty. 
This is a depth wherein many learned heads and un- 
holy hearts have drowned ; and, indeed, it is a very 
great one. It shall suffice us to lay down the posi- 
tive truth, that there is no inconsistency betwixt the 
two ; which may thus be cleared ; 

1. All creatures being necessarily dependent, both 
in their being and operation, upon the First Cause, 
man's will being a creature, it cannot, either in sound 
reason or divinity, be asserted that it is independent 
from this general concourse or influence wherein 
stands the very being and working of every creature. 

2. This holy Creator and Preserver of all things 
having necessarily before him, as his end in creation 
and providence, his own glory, hath by his wise de- 
crees determined so the actings of all his creatures, 
as may best subserve his infinitely wise designs. So 
that man's will must again fall under a determina- 
tion because of such decrees. 

3. And as the will of man is thus necessarily liable 

PHILIPPIANS II. 12, 13. 301 

to a double determination, as it is a creature, so in 
its being made such a creature, a subordinated fa- 
culty, to be led and determined by the understanding, 
it again falleth under a restriction of that unlimited 
liberty pleaded for ; for being in itself a blind fa- 
culty (or a rational appetite, as some define it), it can- 
not move towards any thing but what the under- 
standing holdeth out as good, either true or appa- 
rent. Hence may be seen somewhat of the manner 
of the Lord's influence upon the will of man ; for it 
is evident that the illuminating influence of grace 
upon the understanding is perfective of its natural 
capacity of discerning, both in via contemplanda, 
which is the theoretical judgment, and in via agenda 
hie et nunc, which is the practical, both in its first 
and absolute judgment concerning things good or bad, 
and in its comparative judgment concerning things 
better or worse ; — from which determinations of the 
understanding, follows such a commanding of the will 
to choose or refuse, that it cannot but elicit the one 
of these acts, and that most freely. 

4. Hence it follows that the natural liberty of the 
will doth not consist in an absolute indiff'erency to 
act thus or otherwise, good or bad, but in the special 
towardness, cheerfulness, and liberty of its acting ; 
for the only necessity inconsistent with this, is that 
of force and coaction. And indeed, the assertinof of 
the will's liberty, as adversaries do, doth not only 
loose this proud faculty from its due dependence on 
the concurrence and decrees of its Maker, but lifteth 
it up unto a higher pitch of liberty than can lawfully 
be ascribed to God himself, who cannot will what is 
ill ; and to angels and glorified saints, who are gra- 
ciously determined to will only what is good. 


III. How that the ascribing of this unto God doth 
deny our being workers together with God, in the 
Popish sense, and yet is opposite unto the Libertine 

The Papists would so divide the work, that they 
may share the glory between God and man, — the 
Libertines would make a man a brute or a stone. 
Against the first, we say, that either it must be at 
the first of conversion, or in the progress of sanctifi- 
cation. At the first of conversion, the Lord's work 
is entirely enlivening; and man's influence on the 
effect is such as a dead man can ha.ve upon his own 
quickening, which in nature is evident can be none 
at all, (Ephes. ii. 1, 2), And though, in the infusion 
of the new life, there be indeed gracious habits in- 
fused, qualifying the man for gracious actings, yet 
these habits are not sufficient either to preserve 
themselves from total decay, or to determine their 
possessor unto the least gracious operation, without 
a present actuating influence from the fountain 
whence they first ran. For we do not maintain the 
activity, yea, nor immortality of grace, as flowing 
from its own positive nature, but rather its relative 
(so to speak) ; that is, it is no self-sufficient habit, 
but the continuance of its sufficiency, that flows from 
the continuance of its dependence on the first foun- 
tain ; which dependence the Lord, by the well-o'r- 
dered covenant, hath determined to be incorrupti- 
ble, — a grace, therefore, immortal. Therefore, in the 
bringing out of these gracious habits into gracious 
actings, the actual influence of actuating grace is ab- 
solutely needful : " Abide in me, and I in you. As 
the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide 
in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me," 

PHILIPPIANS II. 12, 13. 303 

(John XY. 4). " Without me (%wf' ? s/xou), or separate 
from me, and my influence, as the root, ye can do 
nothing," — which was spoken to branches already in 
the vine. Here the believer (as Calvin expresseth it 
in his Institutions), " passive agit,^^ or, as others, " ac- 
tus agit,'^ — being acted upon graciously, he acts gra- 
ciously. How evidently these clear principles exclude 
all boasting, is evident ; but we will not stand on this. 
But to guard against the other extreme : "We do 
not say that a godly man is wholly passive in gra- 
cious actings ; for, 1. He acts with these same natu- 
ral faculties in all gracious operations, wherein the 
gracious habits afe seated — as judgment and afl'ec- 
tions. 2. Neither are we wholly to deny, yet very 
warily to understand and admit it, that as other 
moral habits are strengthened by repeated acts, so, 
in the growth of sanctification, the habits of grace 
do acquire a greater positive strength than at first 
infusion ; and consequently, a man far advanced in 
holiness hath a greater disposition, easiness, and fa- 
cility (simply considered) in exerting gracious opera- 
tions, than another in whom the habits are not so 
much corroborate by exercise in the Lord's ways. 
Hence the scripture distinction of Christians into 
fathers, young men, and children. But though we 
are to keep at a distance from any thought of the 
best their being able to do any thing that is good, 
without actual influence of grace, yet is it consonant 
to spiritual reason and experience to say, that the in- 
fluences needful for actuating strong gracious habits 
unto gracious actions, are simply not so powerful and 
mighty (suflicient they must always be) as necessarily 
are in bringing forth decayed languid habits into act, 
(Psalm li. 10). 


The last thing is, How that this argument can 
have influence upon diligence in obedience. Carnal 
reason and its carnal patrons do plead, that this is 
the highway to render men secure and careless in 
duty. And it cannot indeed be denied, that it may 
have snch an effect, and often hath, on sensual men 
not having the Spirit. Not to stay upon a debate 
which, as to its practical use, may afterward be 
spoken to, we would only say, 1. That the apostle in 
our text is speaking to godly persons who were already 
diligent in their work — who, being partakers of the 
divine nature, were capable of being moved with gra- 
cious principles. 2. Evangelical arguments are all 
encouragements and promises, which as they are only 
the portion of the godly, so, such do find strong influ- 
ence accompanying such arguments, for the inspiring 
unto diligence. The adversaries plead only for legal 
arguments, and such as natural reason teach eth. 
Yea, what stronger argument can be used to a poor 
soul ready to faint because of the greatness of its 
work, than this, " Arise, and be doing ; for the Lord 
will work in you both to will and to do V 

But now, it is high time to come to the observa- 
tions contained in these words, omitting what may be 
observed from the connection, since there is such 
plenty of excellent matter in the words themselves. 

Observ. 1. The great improvement which the Holy 
Ghost calleth the saints to lay to heart, and the great 
duty which a faithful minister layeth upon his flock, 
is that of their own salvation. This design of the 
apostle in writing to his flock (such the Philippians 
were, see chap. iv. verse 1), and the scope of the 
Holy Ghost in recording it for the Church in all 
ages, doth make out the truth of this — a truth shin- 

PHILIPPIANS II. 12, 13. 305 

ing so in its own evidence, and confirmed by tlie 
scope of the whole book of God, that it were super- 
fluous to prove it. 

Use. Let it then be the subject of your most serious 
thoughts ; and these two considerations in particular, 
1. That it is salvation, a matter of highest concern- 
ment. 2. It is your own — a matter of your nearest 
concernment. The former claimeth evidently a su- 
periority above worldly interests. Oh ! how low are 
they in respect of salvation. It supposeth danger, 
and the greatest danger: none need salvation, but 
such as are lost. None can lay it to heart aright, 
but those who lay to heart their lost condition. 
*' What shall I do to be saved T' the question of every 
serious soul, importeth both. The latter — your in- 
terest in it — calls for a superiority in concernment 
beyond that of others simply considered. Every one 
should be careful of another's soul, but more of his 
own soul's salvation — such suitable concernment 
therein, as nature's light draweth a man to what 
most nearly relates to himself. And that is very 
great, and the greatest. 

Observ. 2. To be rightly exercised about this mat- 
ter, much labour and pains is called ; this is the strait 
gate ; and that even from such as have been exer- 
cised therein diligently, as the Philippians were. 
This is confirmed, 1. From its importance. It is the 
one thing needful, and therefore our singular endea- 
vours are called for in pursuing it. 2. From the 
great and mighty opposition that is made unto a man 
in this work, from many and strong enemies. Strong 
impediments in the way of an important design call 
for much diligence. Force is against us, and subtlety, 
and continuance in both by our enemies. 3. From 



the commonness of a mistake in this matter, that it 
is easy ; and from want of diligence therein. " Strive 
to enter in at the strait gate : for many, I say unto 
you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." 
(Luke xiii. 24). 

Use. What shall be said of those who have not 
yet begun to be exercised in this great matter? Is 
salvation an indifferent thing ? Is it attainable with- 
out pains? Whatever diligence hath been used by 
any in it, continuance and increase therein are called 
for. Trifling endeavours are reproveable here, as 
unsuitable to so great and important a business. 

Observ. 3. In diligence with this great work, much 
humility and sense of our own infirmity are called 
for, with fear and trembling. And the grounds of 
this are evident, if we consider ourselves, and compare 
ourselves with our enemies — our weakness, with the 
greatness of the work ; or if we reflect on our former 
experience in verification of this. And they are evi- 
dent, if comparing both, we look wisely to what is to 
come. Opposition of enemies constantly increaseth, 
and the violence of their assaults. 

Use. How unreasonable is confidence in ourselves 
in this great work ! How reproveable are proud un- 
dertakers in their own strength ! This calleth for a 
constant remembrance of all those humbling consi- 
derations, and self-denial in that remembrance. But 
lest it should degenerate, 

Observ. 4. Whatever ground of fear there be as 
from self, yet it is the great encouragement of the 
saints that the Lord is the helper in this work. The 
absolute sufficiency of this helper in this work, is evi- 
dent, from his infinite fulness and sufiiciency in him- 
self, which is a great depth. But it may be more 

PHILIPPIANS II. 12, 13. 307 

evident, by taking some parts of this sufficiency, and 
comparing it with the wants of the saints, and its per- 
fect suitableness will appear. Infinite power is for 
the supply of great weakness against strong enemies ; 
infinite wisdom, for the cure of folly in dealing with 
politic enemies ; infinite love, for putting forth such 
wisdom and power for their good. And unchange- 
able truth is engaged by promises and 6aths, that 
such power, wisdom, and love, shall never leave them. 

Use. How reproveable are they who do not set 
about this work because of discouragements ; and 
such as carry it on discouragedly ! 

Observ. 5. Entire help is given by this sufficient 
helper. It is not an empty title. " To will and to 
do" — this is actual help, and that, entirely suited to 
our necessity : for there are but two things necessary 
unto all actions, — will, and power of performance; 
and both are here. 

Use. Learn to acknowledge him, and wait for his 
help entirely. Both in willing and doing, set about 
nothing in this work in your own strength, and doubt 
not of his. 

Observ. 6. The fountain whence all this floweth is 
his free will and good pleasure. Of his will he begat 
us freely, (James i. 18) ; and freely he doth all. 

Use. Look not to any thing of desert in yourself. 
Bless him for his help vouchsafed. Be not peremp- 
tory, but wait patiently, when help seemeth to be 
delayed. His sovereignty is to be acknowledged. 

Observ. 7. The consideration of this entire help is 
a great argument to diligence. 

Use. Try what ye find of the force of this, and try 
yourselves by it. 





" But God hath revealed them tmto us by his Spirit, for the 
Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deepthingsof God." — 1 Cor. ii. 10. 

NEITHER do tlie faithful preachers of the gospel, 
nor its conscientious hearers, make any doubt 
of this matter of mourning, — that the frame of men's 
minds who are exercised about these things, is sadly 
unsuitable unto their greatness and importance. For 
convincing you of this, if not the curing of this dis- 
temper, we have made choice of this scripture. 

Two things are main causes of this distemper ; and 
the due faith of them would be the cure. 1. Men's 
not pondering with whom they have to do in the 
preaching of the word. Little do the careless hearers 
of the gospel dream that it is God the Holy Ghost 
that is dealing with them in the preached word. 2. 
Ignorance of, or not adverting unto the greatness and 
importance of the truths delivered unto them. Few 
think that they are the depths of God. 

We shall take a view of the preceding part of the 
chapter which is needful for understanding the apos- 
tle's scope, and so for getting and reaching his mind. 
We have an account of his way of behaving in his 
ministry amongst them; and that, we may branch 
out into these heads ; 


1. Tliat he came not with a vain flourish of worldly 
rhetoric and carnal wisdom (verse 1), because this, 
he hints, had been unsuitable unto the grave work 
he had to do amongst them — even the testimony of 
God : a testimony that had abundance of majesty and 
truth for its convoy, and had been but disparaged 
with carnal paintings of words. 

2. That his behaving thus was according to his 
settled resolution, (verse 2). He had laid down this 
brave resolution to preach Christ and him crucified 
amongst them, though there was no want of worldly 
wisdom amongst that people; which even many of 
them, after conversion, and who were ministers, did 
too much follow ; whom also he is probably reflect- 
ing on, as afterwards in chapter iv. verse 18, he doth 
it more expressly. 

3. We have a positive account of his humble be- 
haviour (verse 3), in words that may astonish us, that 
even a holy fear of miscarrying in so great a work, 
and a deep sense of his weakness, as of himself for 
this great work, was deeply lodged in the spirit of 
this eminent apostle; so that if we compare this with 
the wonderful assistance that he had, and large mea- 
sure of all gifts given him, it is a rare proof of grace 
and humility in him. 

4. We have a further account of his way of preach- 
ing, both in enlarging on the former negative, and 
in asserting the positive, wherein he states an oppo- 
sition between the two ; teaching, in the first place, 
that a faithful minister should hide man and human 
parts, and wisdom, as much as may be, in dispensing 
the gospel ; and in the second, that ordinarily there 
is most of the power and demonstration of the Spirit 
attending such ways of dispensing the gospel, wherein 


all carnal wisdom is most denied. That you may not 
mistake this, I shall clear up what is this evidence of 
the Spirit that attends preaching, and what there is 
of man contrary to it. 

The evidence and demonstration of the Spirit and 
of power, is the efficacy of the word on consciences, 
produced by the influences of the Holy Ghost : this 
efficacy is, by a displaying of the authority of God, 
and a forcible bearing in of the light of truth on the 
mind, and its power on the heart and conscience. 
" We have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, 
not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of 
God deceitfully ; but by manifestation of the truth, 
commending ourselves to every man's conscience in 
the sight of God," (2 Cor. iv. 2). In these times, 
we confess, that this evidence of the Spirit was some- 
times conveyed by the means of miracles : but these 
did only confirm the truth as God's, while the mak- 
ing it efi'ectual on the heart, was by another and 
nearer operation of the Spirit on men's hearts. And 
what is that which is opposite unto it 1 In general, 
it is when men think to do this, and work such an 
eff'ect on people's hearts, without the Spirit's help. 
As, first, When they propose with such clearness of 
forcible reason what they think is enough to persuade 
any rational man to yield his assent unto it, that they 
think no man can shut out the light. Secondly, 
When they use such forcible motives to persuade, 
that they think no man can resist them. Now, 
though this way be in itself very lawful, if scripture 
light and arguments be made use of, yet its fault is, 
when the Holy Ghost is not duly depended on, as the 
only bearer in of light and life upon the soul, and 
men give too much to the means in themselves. 


5. We have the end he aimed at in this way, — that 
their faith might not be seen to be wrought by, and 
to stand upon man's wisdom, but God's power, (verse 
5), intimating clearly, that the faith of the hearers is 
much according to the way of the preachers. A false 
unsound profession may be begotten by a carnally- 
wise way of handling the things of God, and so, they 
may be said rather to gain disciples, than the Lord's 
true believers, by such ministrations. 

And this leadeth us to the words which are brought 
in as an answer to another objection, — How came you 
then to know such a mystery 1 He answers, by reve- 
lation of the Spirit. In the words we have, 1. The 
way whereby the apostle and the godly come to the 
knowledge of the mystery hid from the world — God's 
revealing them by his Spirit. 2. The sufficiency of 
this way and mean proved — " for the Spirit searcheth 
all things, even the deep things of God." 

For the explaining of these things, there is great 
heed to be taken of the words. We must know what 
is meant by " GoD." It is specially here meant of 
the Father, who, as he is the " father of lights," so 
also in a special manner, of all the knowledge of him- 
self and his will that is to be found amongst men. 
*' Revealed," that is, hath taken off the hiding veil 
that was on them. " Unto us," to me, Paul, and 
Sosthenes, and other faithful servants of Jesus Christ. 
" By his Spirit," by the special efficacy of the Holy 
Ghost, whereby what we of ourselves could never 
come unto the knowledge of, by his working are 
clearly discerned. Next, as to the sufficiency of this 
mean — this revealer is the great searcher of all things; 
that is, he is well acquaint with all, even the depths 
of God, as a man is, with such things as he hath 


searclied out unto the bottom, and unto perfection : 
-which, by the -vvay, is a solid proof Lhat the Holy 
Ghost is God. 

Our main design in pitching upon this verse, was 
for the last words of it ; yet we shall speak somewhat 
also unto the other things in it, but more briefly, and 
for preparing our way unto the other principal thing. 

Observ. 1. All discovery of the saving truths of 
God flows from his gracious revelation thereof by his 

In handling of this we shall, first, Show what this 
revelation is ; secondly, Prove it by the insufficiency 
of any other mean to attain such a discovery. 

1. What is this revealing of divine truth by the 
Spirit ? We are, for understanding of this aright, to 
distinguish the several revelations that the Lord hath 
given to his church. And these are, 1. The revela- 
tion made unto the fathers and prophets of old, varied 
in circumstances, until Moses' time, by visions, and 
oracles, and tradition from father to son ; thereafter, 
by the lawgiver Moses; and thereafter unto the pro- 
phets — all which were but more clear breakings forth 
of the same divine truth, consonant to itself, and har- 
monious as to the matter, though with difl'erent cir- 
cumstances ; and this by the Spirit of Christ, (1 Pet. 
i. 11). 2. That rare and matchless revelation by the 
Lord himself, who had the Spirit without measure, 
(Heb. i. 1). Which albeit for the authority of the 
Messenger it was matchless, (so is he called in Mai. 
iii. 1), yet in that dispensation, there were for wise 
reasons many truths then kept back. 3. The reve- 
lation unto the Apostles, and by them to the Church ; 
who had the greatest measure of the Spirit of God 
attending them, that ever mere men had — according 


to the promise in John xiv. and xv., and its fulfil- 
ment in Acts ii. 4. The revelation that is made unto 
the church by the sealed and complete canon of the 
Holy Scriptures, the native product of the Holy 
Ghost, (2 Pet. i. 21 ; 2 Tim. iii. 16). This is the 
great revelation ; and by this, the Spirit revealeth 
now unto the church the deep things of God. And 
there needs no more but what the godly obtain — the 
same Spirit that did indite them by his penmen, — to 
make them plain and powerful on our hearts. 

In the second place, we shall prove the insufficien- 
cy of any other means to attain the knowledge of these 
things. And this is evident from, 1. The gross ig- 
norance of them that have had nature's light most 
refined; the Greeks and Romans before Christ's time. 
Not only supernatural truth was not reached by them, 
but any ordinary Christian may now discover how 
lame they were, even in pursuing after and attaining 
the knowledge of truths accessible by nature's light 
■ — as in their multitude of gods, and gross sins in 
practice. 2. The lamentable blindness of the world, 
and all nations everywhere that want this revelation 
altogether, or have it let out unto them by little, and 
unfaithfully, as in the Popish church. 3. The sad 
ignorance of them that have this revelation read by 
and to them, and explained and expounded daily unto 
them. Surely it saith, that men, by themselves, can 
never attain the knowled<re of these thinofs. 4. The 
main truths are evidently out of the reach of nature's 
light. There are many that nature's light revealeth, 
such as the being of God, the unity of the Godhead ; 
his power, wisdom, and spiritual nature, (Rom. i. 20; 
Acts xvii.) the immortality of the soul, a life of retri- 
bution and rewards — and that there is another world 


of spiritual inhabitants, as many apparitions have 
proved even to the heathen. But the Trinity of 
persons, the union of two natures in the Son of God, 
and the whole continuance of salvation, and several 
other things about the two covenants, are undiscover- 
able by nature's light. 

Use 1. — Be deeply thankful for this revelation. 
Alas for the sin of ingratitude and unthankfulness, 
and that, for this greatest mercy ! To move you to 
a deep thankfulness, consider, that this is the most 
gracious revelation that God ever gave to mankind. 
It is of the greatest things in themselves, and of 
things of the greatest usefulness even for eternal sal- 
vation. And consider, that it is a most full and 
clear revelation. Even they that had extraordinary 
ways of revelation, had but a little of that revealed, 
that is plentifully now revealed unto us all in the 
word. It is a most sure way of revelation, not ex- 
posed unto those doubts and mistakes in which even 
extraordinary ways did leave men. " We have also 
a more sure word of prophecy ; whereunto ye do 
well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth 
in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star 
arise in your hearts," (2 Pet. i. 19). It is everyway 
sufficient for the end designed, (2 Tim. iii. 15) : the 
Spirit's going along with it, makes it sufficient for 
saving knowledge. It is a revelation given unto a 
small part of the world — and what are you better 
than the Indians that dwell in the shadow of death ? 

Use 2. — Oh ! labour to make a good use of it. Im- 
provement is all and the main thing this matter calls 
for. It stands, 1. In opening your eyes, and lending 
your ears to what is revealed, and in studying it. The 
study of the word, as the great revelation of the 


Holy Ghost, is rarely practised. Sliall the Holy 
Ghost reveal, and men not open their eyes, and lend 
their ears ^ 2. In studying and taking heed thereunto, 
as his revelation. Many study and read the word, 
without this sanctifying qualification of all such en- 
deavours. It is just with the Lord, that when men 
in a careless and profane contempt slight this aid, he 
should give them up unto blindness and erring mis- 
takes. 3. In seeking humbly and fervently the help 
of the Holy Ghost in this search. Little profiting by 
it is to be hoped for without this. 4. And in all, 
driving at that end that the revelation is made for, 
to make you wise unto salvation ; and unto all the 
means that lead unto it, and fit and prepare you for 
it. Unsanctified aims in studying divine truth, have 
led many into woful error. 

The next thing is, concerning the omniscience, and 
perfect knowledge of God the Holy Ghost; of which 
we shall not speak, save for clearing of the matter, 
*' for the Spirit." And that you may know, saith 
the apostle, how sufiicient this is, it is a revelation 
from him who is all-knowing; who " search eth all 
things," not for increase of knowledge, as a man 
searcheth out unknown things, but to shew the per- 
fection of his knowledge of them ; even as a man 
doth, of what hath cost him a most narrow and ex- 
act search. The Holy Ghost is fully and perfectly 
acquaint with all the great and deep things of God. 
Being one in essence, and all essential perfection, with 
the other two blessed persons, it cannot be other- 
wise. This serves to prove, that the Holy Ghost is 
God, and that the scriptures are a true, safe, and 
wise revelation of God's will unto men, since they 
come from one so well acquaint with all. But 

316 ser:mox on 

that wliicli we intend mainly to insist on is tlie 

The mysteries of the Christian religion are " the 
deep things of God." And that this is the meaning 
of the expression " deep things of God," is clear from 
the following words, " For what man knoweth the 
things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in 
liim ? even so, the things of God knoweth no man, 
but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not 
the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of 
God ; that we might know the things that are freely 
given to us of God. Which things also we speak, 
not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but 
which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual 
things with spiritual," (verses 11, 12, 13). Here he 
proves by a clear similitude, that the Holy Ghost 
only is fully acquaint with these ; that all the godly 
have this spirit revealing those things to them ; and 
that those things thus revealed, were the subject of 
liis preaching. And the following words, '• But the 
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of 
God : for they are foolishness unto him: neither can 
he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," 
(verse 14) prove, why they are called " deep things" — '• 
even because they are not obvious to a " natural man." 

In handling of this great and grave truth, we shall 
show, 1. What are these deep things of God. 2. Why 
they are thus called ; and, 3. Prove it in some parti- 
cular truths. 

1. What they are. Not to speak of any depths not 
revealed, for this were to darken counsel by words 
without knowledge, they are — scripture truths, such 
as we owe the knowledge of only to revelation, and 
which are no other ways attainable — gospel truths, 


or sucli as broke up mostly with the manifestation of 
Jesus Christ in the gospel — and such as have the 
closest reference unto God's glory and the salvation 
of man. This is from their end, the great end of 
God's manifestation of himself unto the -vvorld. 

2. Why are they called the deep things of God ? 
Because of their own great depth : they are profound 
deep things, because of their relation unto God, and 
that, as being the author of the revelation of such 
truths, and the author and framer of the truths in 
themselves, and their relation to him, as the main 
matter and subject of them. They are the deep 
things that God hath made and revealed, and mainly, 
are depths about God, and to him, as the great end, 
even his glory and praise. 

3. We shall prove it in particulars ; and this is a 
most large subject, yet, because of its great useful- 
ness, both for informing the ignorant in the sum of 
Christian doctrine, and convincing the careless of 
their depth, we shall enlarge on it, only premising, 
ing, that we have deep attention, deep humility, and 
deep reverence in hearing these things. We cannot 
speak of them all without an extraordinary length, 
and therefore we shall pitch only on the chief of the 
deep things of God, under these heads, 1. Such 
depths as are revealed about God himself. 2. Such 
as have an immediate relation unto man : for saving 
knowledge may be comprised under these two heads, 
the knowledge of God, and of ourselves. 

I. These depths that are about, and concerning 
God himself, are, 1. His nature and being. The 
light of nature can discover a little of the being of 
God, and of his nature ; but that full and deep ac- 
count thereof that the scriptures give, it by no means 


can reach. 2. His infinite incomprehensibleness. 
A created understanding can no more contain and 
compreliend his being, than a child's hand can span 
the heavens and earth, (Job. xi. 7, 8, 9). How great 
a length do men's understandings go in search of the 
creatures ! 3. His great and deep justice and judg- 
ments, (Psalm xxxvi. 6 ; Rom. xi. 33), especially ma^ 
nifested in punishing sin "with eternal vengeance. 
4, His all-seeing eye ; his perfect knowledge and om- 
nipresence. It is a sad thing, that our thoughts of 
God are so far from what they ought to be. 5. The 
depth of divine patience in delaying threatened and 
deserved judgments. 

2. The mystery of the Trinity is a great depth 
that many have drowned in, while they have not 
been humbly satisfied with the revelation of this in 
the word, but have off'ered to wade and fathom it by 
the force of their shallow understanding. One God in 
three persons is the greatest of all the depths of God; 
concerning which 1 have only to say, the light of na- 
ture could never discover it — and now that it is disco- 
vered, it is the main doctrine of all foundations of 
our religion, so that a denier of it, is by no means to 
be reckoned a Christian. And such monstrous apos- 
tates there are in the land, which should make us 
mourn and fear. And consider the dreadful conse- 
quents of denying this great truth. He that denieth 
the Son to be God, necessarily must deny his satis- 
faction to justice for sin, and the justification of a 
sinner, by a believing laying hold on this satisfaction ; 
and accordingly he denies it. He that denieth the 
Holy Ghost to be God, must deny, and always doth, 
the omnipotency and sovereignty of his grace in con- 
verting a sinner, and in perfecting of him. And these 


things are so close unto one another, that the deniers 
of the power of grace, are ofttimes left to the deny- 
mg of the divinity of the Holy Ghost, the worker 
thereof. Consider concerning this depth, that there 
is none that calls for more deep reverence and fear 
in thinking thereof: and you ought also to have a 
more exact fear of any blasphemies that are vented 
directly or indirectly against the same. Come not 
near the tabernacles of those wicked men that blas- 
pheme the God of heaven. It is astonishing to think 
what sort of professors they are that fear not at the 
sight and report of such blasphemies; I mean mainly 
the Quakers, the chief leaders of whom do expressly, 
and in print, blaspheme these doctrines, and there- 
fore the which society is to be abhorred, unless they 
disown such blasphemies. 

3. The third depth, is that of the incarnation of 
the Son of God. " The Word was made flesh, and 
dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as 
of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and 
truth," (John i. 14). Here are two natures in one 
person. " Without controversy great is the mystery 
of godliness ; God was manifest in the flesh, justified 
in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gen- 
tiles, believed on in the world, received up into 
glory," (1 Tim. iii. 16). This is the sum of the 
gospel. " What the law could not do, in that it 
was weak through the flesh, God sending his own 
Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, con- 
demned sin in the flesh : that the righteousness of the 
law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the 
flesh, but after the Spirit," (Rom. viii. 3, 4). That 
this is a great depth, and that no natural man can reach 
it by nature's light, is evident. But to take a careful 


view of it, consider, 1. The inequality of tlie natures 
united, and the strictness of the union — God and 
man in one person. Oh, wonderful ! the man's blood 
is called God's, (Acts xx. 28). The person God-man 
receiveth divine worship even when born. " And 
again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the 
world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship 
him," (Heb. i. 6). 2. The low depth of humiliation 
that God in this nature underwent, without any real 
abasement, (Philip, ii. 6, 7). All the creation is as- 
tonished at his sufferings. 3. The design of all this 
— the glory of grace in saving sinners, by striking up 
a new and brave way to heaven, so that that song 
only may for eternity be sung by its inhabitants, 
" Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our 
sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings 
and priests unto God and his Father ; to him be 
glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 
Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the 
seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed 
us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and 
tongue, and people, and nation ; and hast made us 
unto our God kings and priests : and we shall reign 
on the earth. Worthy is the Lamb that vras slain 
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, 
and honour, and glory, and blessing, (Rev. i. 5, 6, and 
V. 9, 10, 12). The praises of such sinners, and their 
souls were so dear to him, that he underwent so much 
to purchase them. 

4. The fourth deep is Predestination — that out of 
the same mass of fallen mankind, the Lord's sove- 
reignty pitched on some to be the objects of his mer- 
cy, and left the rest to perish for their sins. " For 
he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will 


have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I 
will have compassion. So then, it is not of him that 
willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that 
sheweth mercy," (Rom. ix. 15, 16). And this is a 
great depth, (Rom. xi. 33). Here also many stum- 
ble, by the pride of their hearts, and treacherous win- 
ning of Satan. That this is a great depth, none can 
question ; and all that search into it, find it so to be. 
For the understanding whereof, these things may 
help: 1. This is an act of God, as a sovereign Lord, 
and not as a judge. 2. He oweth nothing to any of 
his creatures, as they are his creatures, until he en- 
gage himself graciously by promise. 3. He oweth 
nothing to his sinful creatures, as sinful, but ven- 
geance, the desert of their sin. If then, in the sove- 
reignty of his love, he pitch on some, and leave others 
to their desert, who can quarrel ? The excellency of 
this depth is seen, in that he hath wisely contrived a 
way for executing this decree by his son Jesus Christ, 
and reaps glory both to his mercy and justice eter- 

5. The fifth depth of God is, his creating and mak- 
ing all things of nothing. Oh, what a stately frame 
hath he made ! That it is so, every one seeth ; that 
God made it, any man may by reason know. Stones 
and earth are not likely things to make themselves, 
(Psalm civ. 24). How marvellous are they all ! 
(Psalm cxi. 2, 3). The saints are frequently travel- 
ling in this deep, with wonder and adoration. This 
depth is the more seen, if we consider, 

1st, The freedom of this great work. He might 
have suffered all things to have lain eternally in the 
womb of their mother nothing ; he needed not any 
creation • yet gave he a being to such a huge number 



of creatures in the air, earth, and water, besides the 
celestial bodies and their inhabitants. 

2d, The wonderful wisdom that is therein in com- 
pacting the creation so wonderfully and orderly, in 
hanging the earth in the midst of the air, and the 
heavens round about and above it everywhere; in 
the orderly motion of the heavens ; in bounding the 
sea, and making it so useful unto man by fishes and 
trading — his breaking up so many veins of fountains 
and rivers for the inhabitants of the earth : — in the 
winds that purge the air, and help unto sailing ; in 
the course and motion of the sun for distinguishing 
the seasons of summer, winter, spring-time, and har- 
vest ; in broaching the clouds, that their waters may 
refresh the earth, and in such a manner to distil, as 
may benefit and not hurt. 

3d, The power that is seen therein. Oh, what a 
strong arm must it be, that settled the foundation of 
the earth, and gave the heavens such a whirling mo- 
tion at their first creation, that they never stand still, 
— in making so glorious a light as the sun, and so 
beautifully spangled a firmament — in making so great 
a sea, and limiting it so, that it overflows not the 
earth ! 

6. The sixth depth, is divine providence. This is, 
God's sustaining and governing the world that he 
hath so wisely made. Oh ! what a depth is here of 
wisdom and power. Who could guide this world, 
but the same arm that made it ? Let us launch out 
a little into this depth. There is the Lord's support- 
ing of all things that he hath made : this is like a 
continued creation, a keeping them out of nothing, 
which were lately brought forth thence, (Acts xvii.), 
and his wise providing of food for every thing living 


"These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest gWe 
them their meat in due season. The eyes of all \Yait 
upon thee ; and thou givest them their meat in due 
season," (Psalm civ. 27, and cxlv. 15). What a great 
house doth he keep ! But especially his deep acts of 
government are to be considered : he is the governor 
in the midst of the nations. Let us take notice of 
his providence toward the world, — 1. Sovereignly : 
he sheweth himself in shaking and changing nations 
as he pleases, and kings and kingdoms. " And all 
the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing : 
and he doeth according to his will in the army of 
heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth : and 
none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest 
thou ?" (Dan. iv. 35). He sits upon the floods ; they 
have their shaking fits, even as human bodies. 2. In 
that he is still accomplishing his pleasure, and carry- 
ing on his wise, just, and holy designs, whatever men 
intend ; yea, makes use of them that know him not, 
to accomplish his pleasure. But mainly do his depths 
of providence reach his church and people, 1. In mak- 
ing their enemies bring about their mercy. The 
murderers of Christ little knew what a blessing his 
church was to get by his death : Cyrus executes God's 
will, and fulfils prophecies that he little knoweth of, 
(Isa. xliv. 28, and xlv. 1-8). 2. In ripening them 
for mercy by strokes. They are humbled thereby, 
and fitted for receiving his deliverance. But because 
this leads us unto the other head of the depths of 
God, we shall therefore conclude with a word of ap- 
plication upon this branch of the subject. 

Are the truths concerning God such' depths ? Then 
away with pride, and any opinion of understanding, 
as of ourselves to reach them, and find them out. 


Much humility is called for in searching into them, 
and much reverence, and sense of the greatness of the 
matter. They are the depths of God, and this should 
make us fear. Then, labour to know God better ; 
there are many depths of God that yet ye little know. 
Only take along with you still the lamp of the woid 
— there must be no searching without this. And 
study God for the increase of grace, rather than of 
brain-knowledge. Search till you be brought to won- 
der and adore. Adore him, and invoke him in holy 
fear, in fervent love, with high praises, and with great 
trust and confidence. 

II. As for those depths of God which concern man, 
I shall first speak unto that which is already past — 
the covenant of works made with our first parents, 
(Gen. ii.), and the breach thereof (Gen. iii.), and the 
punishment following on it. "Which depth contains 
these things : 1. The I«ord's creating our first parents 
out of the earth indeed, as to their bodies, but their 
souls of a higher original, and placing them in a 
most happy condition ; and as to his friendship and 
favour, giving them dominion over the lower crea- 
tion, and endowing them with great excellencies of 
body and mind. 2. His free engaging with them in 
a covenant, by fulfilling the condition whereof, their 
happiness might have been perpetuated to them, 
and their posterity. 3. His leaving them to the free- 
dom of their own will, and not freeing them of temp- 
tations, though furnishing them with strength suffi- 
cient for standing out against them. 4. His speedy 
executing of tire threatened punishment upon their 
disobedience: wherein we see his curse upon them, 
his extruding them from paradise ; and that all their 


posterity are born rebels to God, by guilt, and their 
own natural inclinations to ratify it. 

That this is a great depth, is evident from these 
sad things that have followed on it : 1. That all are 
by nature enemies to God, and hateful to him. 2. 
That all the actual transgression that defiles the 
world, came in at this gap. 3. And all mankind that 
are in hell, came in hazard of it at first by this. 4. 
And that the Lord, though he hath provided a remedy, 
yet in the depth of his judgment he keeps up the 
knowledge of it from the greater part of mankind. 
5. From men's corruption of nature, the greater part 
of them that hear of the remedy, receive it not. 

2. The second depth concerning man, is the new 
covenant of grace by and in Jesus Christ, — a blessed 
depth ! — a blessed plank for shipwrecked mankind to 
escape death by. This depth the angels desire to 
dive into, (1 Pet. i. 12, Ephes. iii. 10). This depth 
hath in it all the other deep things of God, to wit, 
the nature and attributes of God which shine here 
wonderfully ; his wisdom, grace, justice, and mercy : 
— the mystery of the Trinity, — of the incarnation of 
the Son of God, — of predestination ; — of a new crea- 
tion, the greatest depth of divine providence. This 
is the great master axiom of divine wisdom, the 
brightest glass of his glory, casting the most glorious 

In this, consider 1. The parties covenanting, God 
the Father, and Son. It must be a stately bar- 
gain that they two make, full of majesty, wisdom, 
and truth. 2. The condition of this covenant — that 
the Son shall take on him our nature, and satisfy 
justice, and so save his people. 3. The fulfilling of 
these conditions in the Son's faithfulness to his Fa- 

326 SERMON ON I COR. II. 10. 

tlier, and the Father's faithfulness to the Son : the 
one discovers the depth of Christ's sufferings; the 
other, of his purchase. Here is Christ's hell and our 
heaven. 4. For whom all this is done, and all this 
contrivance made — for sinners — unworthy, vile crea- 
tures. 5. What is made the condition on their part 
for obtaining a right to all this — receiving Christ's 
offer of himself as a competent Saviour by faith — an 
easy way for making so great a purchase, or rather, 
for the appropriation of his purchase unto ourselves ! 
Thus have we given you a hint of the depths of 
God; and for these ends — that you may know and 
lay to heart how nearly God is concerned in gospel 
truth : that you may see how unfit you are for search- 
ing them unto perfection : that you may study them 
more and more, since they have such a relation to 
him : that in the search, you may employ the Spirit 
of God to enlighten and guide you. Proud and care- 
less searchers into the things of God, must necessarily 
stumble foully. Oh that people were wise and humble 
in these matters, and had the fear of God in their 
hearts ! 



HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 


" For it is impossible that those who were once enlightened, 
and liave tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of 
the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the 
powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew thera 
again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of 
God afresh, and put him to an open shame." — Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. 

BECAUSE the depth of the purposes in these 
words requires somewhat more than ordinary 
explication, and application also, I thought it fit to 
insist on them in this exercise also,* and not to sa- 
tisfy myself with our brief exposition. Many truths 
may be deduced from them, as we hinted in expound- 
ing ; but it is the scope we shall attend unto mainly, 
and that, as it is relating to us, rather than to such 
a kind of apostacy of which none of us can possibly 
be guilty. 

On all hands it is granted, that an account of the 
sin against the Holy Ghost, and its punishment, is 
here held forth unto us, as is most plain ; and that 
there is such a sin, which man through his corrup- 

* This and the following Sermon form the first part of a series in 
the original MS. consisting of four discourses, of which the last two 
are merely notes, and therefore unfit for publication. 


tions and Satan's temptations may arrive unto, as 
shall render his salvation desperate. It is called 
from Matthew xii. 31, 32, a " sin unto death," (1 
John V. 16), for the pardon whereof in another, we 
are not to pray. And here, and in Hebrews x. 29, it is 
spoken of as certainly damnable. All sin indeed is 
damnable in its nature; all sins may be damning in 
effect, without repentance and pardon; but this is 
always certainly damning. 

The handling of the purpose here to your edifica- 
tion, labours under singular disadvantages, as — the 
difficulty that there is in finding out the nature of 
this great sin. The Lord hath left it so dark in the 
word, that many of his servants have had their dif- 
ferent apprehensions about it, whereof I might give 
you a large list, though in these times, wherein light 
shineth more clearly about many other gospel truths, 
there is a greater agreement about it. It is — the 
deepest apostacy after the highest common opera- 
tions of the Spirit. It is some disadvantage also, 
that Satan is so ready to assault many of the godly, 
with temptations about this ; and where they prevail, 
they are the worst of all his darts. Yet have I ad- 
ventured to handle this subject on these accounts, 
1. To use it as a reason against security and arro- 
gancy in godliness, and as a preventive of the same 
deadly evil. 2. To encourage the truly godly, and 
arm them against Satan's temptations to this evil, or 
persuading them that they are guilty of it. 3. Be- 
cause it comes in very seasonably upon the preceding 
purpose of men's standing out against Christ ; which 
is so deep a subject, that it requires a strict and exact 
handling. And, 4. To prevent or remove the scandjil 
to the gospel by men's apostacy. 

HEBREWS VI. 4. 5. 6. 329 

Our method in our discourse is this — 1. To remove 
any mistakes that this portion of the word not riglitly 
understood may occasion. And the main end is this 
— that they that have saving and true grace, may fall 
away : — and therefore, we shall prove, how it is not of 
such, but merely of professors that the apostle speaks. 
And for clearing our path in this, we must compare 
these verses with verses 7 and 8, and especially 9, 10, 
11, and 12, where he is speaking certainly to the 
truly godly amongst them. And so we havethese com- 
parisons, 1. Here are "gifts" and "tastings," that 
is, faith working by love. 2. How few are the men 
called and counted amongst Christians, that are sen- 
sible souls fleeing for refuge to Christ. 3. Here are 
things glorious indeed, but not accompanying salva- 
tion ; but in some, going before it, in others, without 
it. 4. Here the apostle supposeth a possibility of 
falling away, of those who are persuaded to the con- 
trary. So that it is evident, that the danger hinted 
in these words concerns bare professors only, and not 
them that are true converts ; yea, it is remarkable, 
that in this same chapter, the apostle saith as much 
for the certainty of the faith and perseverance, and 
salvation of true believers, as any where in the word. 
" God willing more abundantly to shew unto the 
heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, con- 
firmed it by an oath : that by two immutable things, 
in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might 
have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to 
lay hold upon the hope set before us : whieii hope we 
have, as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, 
and which entereth into that within the veil.** 
(verses 17, 18, 19). 

Our next work shall be, to premise some truth 


from the words themselves, that may clear our way : 
1. That these attainments the apostle speaks of, are 
in themselves excellent things, and greatly to be 
valued ; being great tokens of a more special favour 
of God to them to whom they are given, than to 
them from whom they are withheld. 2. The having 
of them, as it is a mercy, so the truly godly have 
them all, and more. 3. The apostle doth not threaten 
any that have these things, save such as do not duly 
use them to an increase and obtaining of what is 
better still. 

Our discourse now shall be on these heads, 1. What 
great attainments a mere professor may have. 2. 
How deeply he may fall from them, and notwith- 
standing of them. 3. What is the danger of such an 

I. Such as shall be damned eternally may attain 
unto great things in religion. The truth of this is 
so plain, and so well known in the word (see Mat- 
thew vii. 21, and xiii. 20, 21), that we need not stand 
to prove it farther, than by confirming the particu- 
lars ; and we shall content ourselves with what is here. 
In handling this truth, we shall, 1. Show what these 
attainments are. 2. Why the Lord gives them to 
such characters. 3. What is wanting of that which 
would preserve them from apostacy. 

First, What these attainments are. We shall in- 
sist on the five steps which the apostle names here : 

1. He may be " enlightened" — natural darkness 
and blindness in the things of God are removed. 
This saith, that he may have the means — and the 
worst of men have had the best of these, as the Jews, 
who had Christ's ministry, and that of his apostles — 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 831 

and these means may have a good effect on him, in 
enlightening his mind in the knowledge of truth. 
And this effect that is here named, may extend so 
far, that he may have a literal knowledge of the 
word, and the truth thereof : of this there is no ques- 
tion. He may have a supernatural knowledge of 
many profound things in the word, by a special gift 
of knowledge or illumination, so that he may in this 
be above many of the truly godly, as to that sort of 
knowledge. It is likely that Judas knew more than 
the thief when he became penitent. And, indeed, 
there is nothing that a believer knoweth, but this 
apostate may know, though not in the same manner ; 
and thus, the righteous who are ignorant, may be far 
inferior to those who come short of heaven. The 
measure of his knowledge may be great ; even that 
of all things concerning God, his own heart, and the 
doctrines that are contained in the word. And the 
fruits of that illumination may be great. He may 
see such an excellency in Christ's church, as to join 
with it ; and such danger in gross sin, that he may 
leave it ; and attach such blamelessness to his walk, 
that no man can discern his rottenness. 

2. He may " taste of the heavenly gift" — he may 
have a sort of faith, whereby Christ, and his grace 
and mercy may be tasted by him. This is a mighty 
attainment, whereof we spoke in the explication : 
but that we may draw the line the more accurately, 
we must now further handle the nature of this faith 
whereby he tastes. We say, then, that he hath an 
historical faith believing the truth of gospel tidings : 
this is a little tasting of justifying faith, for it is like 
it. He may meditate and contemplate on this truth ; 
and this cannot be, without some savour of it and its 


goodness. And he may apply these things to him- 
self, as his portion, and far more must this be savoury 
to him. "He heareth the word, and anon with joy 
receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but 
dureth for a while :" for a while only he believeth. 

3. Such believers are " partakers" of the more spe- 
cial (not most special) workings " of the Holy Ghost." 
There may be alarming convictions ; but Felix, Ho- 
rod, and Judas, wanted not these: to be awakened 
with a fright of hell, is no token of a godly man. 
Or there may be debasing discoveries of self, so that 
they have not been ashamed to confess their sin, to 
God's glory and their own shame : even Judas had 
this. Or external reformation flowing from fear of 
wrath, and that sensibly working on the heart, as in 
the case of Ahab. There may be within them a se- 
cret restraint on corruption, by the hand of God, not 
only by his providence (Genes, xx.), but by motions 
on the heart. There may be a spirit of zeal for a 
good cause when it is afoot in a particular season, as 
that of the Jewish multitudes, when they cried " Ho- 
sannah !" They may have great gifts, such as that 
of prayer, whereby they are able to speak to God in 
pertinent petitions as to words, with good appearance 
of tender affections, and great fervency ; and also as 
of understanding the things of God, so of expressing 
them to the edihcation of others, in preaching and 
in conference. And they have some exercise of con- 
science in the discharge of these, not only as reflect- 
ing on the right season of doing, and of influence 
stirring them up to do them, but in looking on them 
when done ; yea, and in finding difference as to assist- 
ance therein at one time and another : even Saul knew 
and lamented when God had departed from him. 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 333 

4. And " taste the good word of God" — that is, 
they nnd its relish and sweetness. When they find 
it touching their condition, yea, when some of its dis- 
coveries of duty are made, they may relish them, as 
Herod, who heard John gladly, and did many things. 
Also, not only its suitableness, but its power may be 
felt, to the stirring up of delight and wonder, as in 
the case of many of Christ's hearers; and turning 
them to good resolutions and purposes. Its mysteries 
may delight them, (and what wonder?) so that the 
feet of its ministers maybe "beautiful upon the moun- 
tains" ; and its promises of pardon, and peace, and 
acceptance being thought to be theirs, may by them 
also be tasted and relished. 

5. They may taste of the " powers of the world to 
come." Besides what is said of this in the explica- 
tion, these may be added : he may fancy heaven and 
that blessedness to be his, and venture and lose much 
for them — he may in some good measure undervalue 
the earth in comparison of them. By the "powers of the 
world to come, "we may understand its virtues and pro- 
perties, both of which this man may taste. And of its 
virtues and effects — such as the making a man soli- 
citous and careful about knowing how to get it (Luke 
xviii. 18), and painfulness in the means of obtaining 
it. This is one of its powers also. There is also joy 
in the thought of its being his, and the endurance of 
suffering, rather than forfeit this right, though not 
much nor long ; and he may have a lower esteem of 
this world than he formerly had, and like Balaam, 
think little and joyfully of death, as a passage to hea- 
ven. And he may taste of its properties : its vast 
greatness may puzzle his understanding, and make 
him cry out, with David, " Oh, how great is thy good- 


ness, wliicli thou hast laid up for them that fear thee ; 
which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee 
before the sons of men !" (Psalm xxxi. 19). Its good- 
ness and excellency may draw forth his affection of 
love and delight, and its being to come, his expecta- 
tion and looking for it. — So much of the first thing, 
as to what great attainments a hypocrite may win to 
in godliness ; not that every one attains so much, but 
the Lord gives them to some. 

Second. Why doth the Lord grant so great things 
unto them that get no more \ — a deep question ! that 
might safely enough be answered with silence, or with 
the words of the householder, " May not I do what I 
will with mine own ?" Yet may we offer at some wise 
reasons of this depth of Providence. 

1. It is to declare His willingness to save, and to 
make it the more evident, that men's ruin is of them- 
selves : for in this case is all done, that can be done, 
in the way of means ; and more than is done to 
many, and more than he is bound to do for any. He 
brings them on a great way, to leave this on their 
consciences, and on the consciences of others, that he 
delights not in the death of sinners. 

2. The Lord doth this to make his grace the more 
conspicuous — his special saving grace ; conspicuous 
in its freedom, and in its power also. When two are 
carried an equal length in the preparation to a sav- 
ing interest in God, the one is taken, and the other 

3. That his own people may not stay, and sit down 
on any measure of attainments, but still may press 
on ; so is he pleased, for this end, to communicate so 
much of his common grace to them that may back- 
slide, that all may press forward for more. 

HEBREWS yi. 4, 5, 6. 335 

Third. But you may say, "Whatis wanting to saving 
grace in all these things ? — they seem to be greater 
attainments than many of the people of Godwin to." 
This leads to the question, " What is wanting of that 
which would preserve from apostacy?" I answer, 
Every thing here in the text hath somewhat want- 
ing : As, 

1. Their illumination : it wants still these : they 
never see themselves quite undone, and empty of all 
good, so as to loathe themselves, and be quite diffi- 
dent of themselves, and to go out of themselves. 
Always there is somewhat that the unsound sinks in- 
to, and hath a good opinion of. And they never saw 
Christ, as the only enriching treasure forthe man him- 
self. Fine notions of Christ's accomplishments they 
may have in the general ; but of his being all in all, 
and that he is suited fully to them, this they see not. 

2. As to their faith, it is called temporary, because 
it lasts not ; but this is not visible until defection ; 
therefore we must search it farther out. Whatever 
faith a man may have of divine truth, and whatever 
application may be made of Christ to himself, he 
wants these things of a sound faith: 1. He wants the 
bottom and ground-work of saving faith, and that is, 
denial of self and all self-sufficiency. The guilt of sin 
on his conscience may stir him up to employ Christ 
in some way ; but utter emptiness of all good in him- 
self, as well as of safety from himself, never can, nor 
doth move him. 2. And therefore he fails in the very 
act of faith, which is, a receiving of Christ wholly, 
and resting in him, as he is made of God to us 
wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and 
redemption, and offered to us, (1 Cor. i. 30). God 
hath exalted him to be a Prince and Saviour (Acts 


V. 31), and as such he is to be received. 3. And 
lastly, he is a stranger unto the life of faith, or abid- 
ing in Christ, and drawing virtue from him, (John 
XV. ; Gal. ii. 20). These are mysteries impracticable 
unto the man of highest common attainments. Now, 
all these three are knit together, and follow one on 
another. As to this, their shortcoming flows from 
this mistake ; — they imagine they need Christ as a 
Saviour, and a giver of grace, and then, when they 
have got that which they think to be grace, they look 
on it as somewhat sufficient of itself, with their care- 
ful improvement of it, to advance the work of their 
salvation. Whereas the true believer seeth as much 
necessity of taking up his abode in the city of refuge, 
as of fleeing to it ; and knows, that as his first new 
life flowed from his engrafting into Christ, the true 
stock, so his fruitfulness depends on the daily com- 
munication of his virtue. 

3. As to their partaking of the Holy Ghost, here 
is a vast diff'erence ; — they know nothing of the rege- 
nerating sanctifying virtue of the Holy Ghost, which 
is the main benefit sinners receive by him. They 
want still the change of the heart and nature ; they 
are still bad ground (verse 8), still " dogs," (2 Pet. 
li. 22). 

Object. But how shall I know, that there is such 
a change by the Holy Ghost on me, but by such 
things as you have ascribed to the common opera- 
tions ? — I answer, Better marks than any of these 
may every godly man find out of himself; As, 1. A 
single regard unto God's glory, which can never af- 
fect an unsanctified soul. To make it the man's chief 
aim, the attaining of it his chief joy ; His dishonour 
his chief sorrow, are no where to be found but in a 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 337 

sanctified soul. 2. And as to external reforma- 
tion, those indications that are in the sound man, are 
in the heart, and from thence in the life, while the 
other man is still in an evil condition ; and therefore, 
that reformation of the former, is more sound, and 
even, and universal. And it hath an aim also to- 
wards perfection ; perfect holiness is lovely, to a holy- 
sincere man. 3. As to gifts, the godly man, what- 
ever share he hath or wants of these, hath what is 
far better than they are, and never wants such a 
measure of them as is simply needful. In prayer, for 
instance, though it may be he talks not so much nor 
so well as to words, as one of greater gifts, yet he still 
talks better — for his heart is more at the work, his 
aim is more honest, his reflections more spiritual, and 
his attainments more gracious and sanctifying. 

4. Their tasting of the good word of God, what- 
ever it hath in it, it wants much that the sound man 
hath. They taste not all in the word of God, for some 
things in it they are strangers unto ; as, its enliven- 
ing power quickening them by it, and according to 
it, which David (Psalm cxix.) so often prays for. 
See also 1 Peter i. 23, where it is described as a liv- 
ing seed cast into their heart, raising them up unto 
a new life : this they know not. Its promises may 
quicken them to joy, but it never removes their na- 
tural death. Its feeding fructifying power also they 
know not of. They taste it only for trial, but do not 
feed on it. But a godly man finds this his bread, 
whereby his soul lives, and grows, and brings forth 
fruit unto God. It is the children's bread that chil- 
dren's nature only hath an appetite after. Some 
things of the word also they taste, that they do not 
relish and savour, as— its convincing power: when it 



comes close to them, and that daily, to make new dis- 
coveries of their distemper, this they have no relish 
of. David takes it as a commendation of the word, 
that it warns him, (Psalm xix. 11, 12). The unsound 
man can take its conviction now and then in good 
part ; but when it is full at the work of discovering 
sin, and comes close upon his practices, he cannot en- 
dure it. And the unspotted holiness and strictness 
of God's word, is no relishing thing to him, but he 
is ready inwardly to blame it, as being too strict ; 
whereas the godly man will, like Paul (Rom. vii. 
12), call the law good, even when he cannot fulfil it. 
5. Though he may taste of the powers of the 
world to come, he wants what a godly man may 
have. For he wants the experience of the due meet- 
ness for it that every godly man in some measure 
possesses. He is ready, that is, willing, but not 
meet and prepared to receive it ; and therefore yon 
will find, that he may pray for it, and not make ready 
for it. It hath no such power on him, as to induce 
him to prefer it, as a spiritual happiness, above all 
things in the world ; but still, there are some things 
he loves better — somewhat which he is more afraid 
of losing, than of this blessedness, as trials do disco- 
ver : the cares of the world, or the persecution of it, 
draws him away. And the spiritual and true earnest 
of it is still unknown to him ; and though it may, in 
some measure, be also unknown to a godly man, yet 
seeing the apostle speaks of such an attainment of 
the hypocrite, that the sincere themselves do not al- 
ways obtain, we may well lay this against that, as a 
proof of its wanting that which it seems to have. 
The earnest of glory is all one with that of the Spirit. 
*' In whom (Christ) also, after that ye believed, ye 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 339 

were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which 
is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption 
of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his 
glory." — " Who hath also sealed us, and given the 
earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." — Now he that 
hath wrought us for the self same thing is God, who 
also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." 
(Ephes. i. 13, 14 ; 2 Cor. i. 22, and v. 5). These ex- 
pressions may help us to guess at the thing. The 
earnest being of the nature with the principal sum, 
as well as a securing of it, and the Holy Ghost being 
its author, we may know that it must have these 
things to make it up, — some near degree of fellow- 
ship with God ; some sensible advance in conformity 
to him ; and a holy delight and satisfaction resulting 
therefrom. Something like this, but a counterfeit, 
may the ungodly hypocrite have ; but it is attained 
this way, — he looks on heaven as a state of excellent 
happiness, by his historical faith ; his false spirit tells 
him it is his; and his heart rejoices in the hopes of 
it, though he still remain a stranger unto holy, sanc- 
tifying fellowship with God. The unsound man, for 
all his tasting of its powers, is yet unacquainted with 
these virtues that the meanest of the godly par- 
take of; its main powers are not yet tasted. It 
takes not off his eye from sensible things, unto invi- 
sibles, (2 Cor. iv. 18). It puts not a bitterness into 
all his contentments, in comparison of it. A godly 
man is a stranger, and all his desirable mercies are 
but pilgrim's fare to him, that is often seasoned, and 
hath the bitter sauce of the remembrance where he 
is, and how far from home. It makes not all suffer- 
ings light, and tolerable, and small, in regard of it. 
(See Rom. viii. 18 ; 2 Cor. iv. 17) ; then joyful 


(Matt. V. 12 ; Heb. x. 34). An unsound man may 
suffer for heaven, but lie looks on this suffering- as a 
great disadvantage, and is sorry that the way is not 
more easy ; and therefore, when sufferings come to a 
height, he falls off. It makes the godly man count all 
the pains in labouring for it to be but small, and un- 
worthy of it ; but the unsound man thinks he may 
take pains enough, and possibly too much ; and 
therefore he becomes a censurer of them that go be- 
yond him in diligence, that they may make more ado 
than there is need. 

Use 1. — Since it is thus that bare professors, in 
whom the root of the matter is not found, may go so 
far, then this speaks terror unto those that are short 
of them ; and they are many : it says, '• If you come 
short of them that have not true grace, you must be 
far more behind than they." For the enforcing and 
clearing of this subject, know, that many of those who 
go to hell, are not by much so near heaven, as others 
who yet shall be there also : — many sail to hell by the 
coast of heaven, still expecting to land safely, till the 
storm come, and drown them in perdition ; — and that 
all these things in some measure all the godly have 
had, and many remarkably, ere the gracious change 
was felt or came on them. And therefore, though 
the having them will not prove you godly, yet the 
want of them will prove you to be ungodly. 

Now, a slender reflection might suffice for convic- 
tion, that many want what is here. As for illumi- 
nation — are there not many grossly ignorant, and 
who know not the letter of divine truth ; and many 
who have that, have no more 1 A hypocrite may 
have great discoveries of the things of God, as we have 
already said. For faith — there are many that give 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 341 

an ig-norant implicit assent unto divine truth, and the 
gospel, that never came unto a tasting of the sweet- 
ness of the gospel ; they have never felt any relish of 
a Saviour. For the partaking of the Holy Ghost- 
many have no knowledge that there is a Holy Ghost, 
by any experience of his workings in awakening and 
convincing them. As for the taste of the word — - 
many feel nothing in it of goodness and savour, nor 
of its pertinency to them, nor of its bitterness in re- 
proving them. And as little power hath the world 
to come on them. If they can get thither when they 
die, they care not for any of its virtues. How terri- 
ble should this be to you, who are short of the at- 
tainments of those that yet may be in the gall of bit- 
terness ! The security of the age we live in, and the 
arrogancy of professors, call aloud to ministers to 
proclaim to them their hazard. 

Use 2. — Be exhorted to take the warning in the 
scope of the apostle : go still forward in godliness, 
until you come the length that no hypocrite can at- 
tain ; and this will be a work for you all your life 
long. For though the sincere though weak believer 
be quite above the reach of a bare profession, yet 
every sincere man hath these things, that will make 
his endeavours in advancing constant : — He is hum- 
ble, and thinks little of his attainments, though never 
so great : — he is illuminated, and seetli both how 
small his attainments are, and how much is yet be- 
fore him : hence, holy fear, and jealousy of himself 
and his treacherous heart, and so is he the more dili- 
gent—and he hath a love to progress, both from his 
single regard to God's commandment, and the love 
which the new creature within him hath toward fur- 
ther holiness. 


If this fruit be reached in you, it is the design of 
the Holy Gliost in writing tliis, and mine in handling 
it : if not, I shall witness for God, that you were 
warned of the greatest danger that can befall you, and 
that you slighted it ; so that when it overtakes you, 
you may justify God, and condemn yourselves. Oh ! 
consider what a dreadful thought it will be in hell, 
to think, " A little more advancing would have re- 
moved me out of the way of this danger." Certainly 
none fall deeper into hell, than they that fall from 
the top of heaven's walls. He that hath given you 
what you have, is as ready to give you what you 
want, and more. A misery wilfully contracted must 
yours then be. 


" For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and 
have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the 
Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers 
of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again 
unto repentance ; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God 
afresh, and put him to an open shame." — Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. 

We have been speaking unto this truth, that mere 
professors may have great attainments. We shall 
now handle these — that professors of high attain- 
ments may fall away most sadly ; and that there is a 
fall that is irretrievable ; and what that is, shall be 
described further from the word. 

Professors of the highest attainments in common 
grace, may fall away dreadfully : the apostle's suppo- 
sition proves its possibility. The scripture gives us 
some instances. In the case of Saul, we find him, 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 34 3 

according to the times, gifted with a spirit for gOTern- 
ment, walking for a while in God's way, and then he 
suddenly falls. Judas, an apostle, Christ's hearer and 
domestic servant, of whom, though we read nothing 
particularly to his advantage, yet, doubtless, many 
good things were with him, and his fellow-disciples 
never suspect him ; and yet, at length he falls away. 
Herod may be reckoned amongst them, and Demas, 
and several apostates named in the word. Our own 
experience testifieth this, in that we have seen many, 
who when religion was in fashion and favour, did 
profess highly, pray often, reform many things, and 
walk blamelessly ; who could talk of convictions, 
and awakenings, and joys, on some experience; and 
of the force of the word, and benefit of ordinances ; 
yet many have turned profane, many corrupted in 
their principles — of whom, though it is like, the Lord 
hath his own whom he may still reclaim, yet, doubt- 
less, many have justified this truth from their experi- 
ence. For further confirmation of this, take and usem 
a good sense the world's wicked observation, "A young 
saint an old devil." Though it is likely the devil did 
teach men this, to frighten them from religion in 
their young days, which are the fittest season of set- 
ting about it, yet experience shows, that none are 
more wicked when of age, than such as have been 
under convictions unprofitable when young. The 
world's censure of professors, that they are worse in 
many things to deal with than other folks, though 
there be much of prejudice and partiality in it, yet 
some truth it has as to many. Observe also, that men 
when awakened by sickness or danger, and who sleep 
again, go on more seriously and boldly in sin. than 
ever they did ; and are farther out of the reach of a 


conviction, than any, or than themselves formerly 

We shall adduce further evidence from scripture 
to confirm this truth. 

1. The truly godly themselves who have saving 
grace, may fall back in a great measure — and much 
more they. The instances of such are various ; some 
by a sudden fit of temptation being drawn on unto 
great sin, and quickly recovering, as Peter ; some lying 
longer under its power, as David, whose decay seems 
to have been very great, and for many days. And 
the force of the reason is strong ; for common opera- 
tions are nowise so powerful to restrain corruption 
and prevent apostacy, as the truth of God's grace in 
the heart. 

2. Men under the highest of common operations 
may fall utterly away, because what they have, are 
not sufiicient preservatives and antidotes against de- 
fection. Thus, mere illumination cannot preserve ; 
because a man, as long as he is unrenewed, may walk 
contrary to his light, and even then too much. His 
tasting of faith cannot preserve; because though 
somewhat of Christ's sweetness be tasted by him, yet 
there is in Christ what he distastes, and thus he pre- 
pares his way to apostacy. His partaking of the 
Holy Ghost, ordinary or extraordinary, is no bar to 
hold out defection ; for it is no sanctifying participa- 
tion, and so, is no more than a certain qualification 
for some works naturally good. His tasting of the 
good word of God and the powers of the world to 
come are not sufficient neither; for they are but 
tastings, and not a feeding thereupon, which alone 
yields strength unto a man to keep him from fall- 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, G. 345 

In general, all tliese are such things as he hath, 
or such things as he tastes. Two things he hath, — 
illumination, and gifts of the Holy Ghost ; such may- 
be taken from him ; and even when they are present 
with him, they cannot preserve him from apostacy. 
The thino^s that he hath a taste of are excellent — 
faith, the word, and works : — but this is the want — 
that he hath a taste, and no more. And so this be- 
wrayeth either the unsoundness of his aim and in- 
tention, that he meddles only with Christ, and the 
word, and heaven, to get a taste and trial of them, 
and no more ; or the unsoundness of his temper, that 
he can endure no more but a taste of these things : 
and certainly it tells their unprofitableness to him. 
Christ is ordained to be lived on, and by faith (Gal. 
ii. 20), and only so far tasted in the beginning, as to 
encourage to follow on to know him, and to be built 
up on him (1 Pet. ii. 3, 4), to be dwelt in (John xv.), 
to have him dwelling in the heart (Ephes. iii. 17). 
The word is to be fed upon by beginners as milk 
(Heb. V. 12, 13 ; 1 Pet. ii. 1, 2). Children must 
live by tasting of the milk, as grown men on it as food 
proper for them. Man liveth not by bread, but by 
the word ; heaven is not to be tasted, but dwelt in 
(Philip, iii. 20). It is to be the mark a Christian 
shoots at. And therefore as to all these things that 
he tastes of, he wants the due virtue, and influence, 
and power. Yea, there is also the inconstancy of 
these things : he may lose the relish of them ; yea, 
the very tastings may be taken away, and so, any 
little effect that tasting might have, is also removed. 
And this may come to pass, partly by the corrupt 
temper of his heart ; partly, by the Lord's judgment 
taking away the opportunities of tasting from him, 


that hath no mind to feed on this fare. Again, this 
may betray his weakness, that it prevails not agahist 
the sinful savour of other things. This tasting then 
bewraying, as is said, the unsoundness of the heart ; 
and the short-livedness of these things, saith, that 
the benefit of them cannot be reaped by him, while 
he is such ; and what benefit is reaped, is not enough 
to preserve him from decaying. 

The third reason of this truth is, that such want 
the necessary and only sufficient preservatives against 
defection. As, 1. He wants the new nature : all 
he has amounts not to innovation and a new crea- 
ture ; and it is evident at the very reading of these 
words, unto any acquainted with the style and phrase 
of the Holy Ghost, that it is his design here to 
speak only of common attainments. Now, that 
the new nature is an excellent preservative against 
defection, is evident. This new nature, in a native 
way and principle which is the strongest and most 
lasting, produceth love to God from whom it had 
its being ; to his truth and word, the instrument 
of its being, and means of its nourishment and 
growth ; and also, it hath as native, a loathing of 
any departure from God and his way, though dark- 
ness and delusion in a particular may prevail. 

2. They want true faith, a special mean of prevent- 
ing apostacy (see Heb. iii. 12 ; and x. 38, 39), and 
that it is not with them, we showed already. That 
it is useful to prevent apostacy, is many ways demon- 
strable : 1. Because it is the mean on our part of 
our union with Jesus Christ, the fountain of our 
strength ; and so, the way to get communications of 
grace needful from him, is to exercise this grace on 
him. 2. It is the main shield we have to oppose to 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 347 

the temptations of Satan (Eplies. vi. 16), and of the 
world (1 John v. 4). So Moses found it, (Heb. xi. 

3. They want an interest in God's favour and 
friendship, and so, want that care, and kindness, and 
watching over them for good, that his people meet 
with. The waterings and refreshings, preventingmer- 
cies, surprisals of mercy, and wise turning-about of 
begun falling, to the advancing of future stedfastness, 
which the Lord gives to his people, and whereby he 
prevents utter apostacy, they are strangers to. 

4. The Holy Ghost's sanctifying abode in their 
hearts they want, which is the great preservative of 
the people of God. (SeelJohn ii. 27). They have 
a sort of qualifying abode for the material part of 
duty, but no more. 

These may serve for the clearing and confirming of 
the truth of this, that common grace is no preserva- 
tive against defection. In farther prosecution of this 
purpose concerning the possibility of the fall of men 
of highest attainments in common things, I shall, 

1. Distinguish the sorts of falling away and apostacy ; 

2. Show how they are carried on and advanced; 

3. Show what is their danger. 

1. What sorts of falling away professors are in 
danger of. The general distinction is — an apostacy 
may either be in principles or profession, or else in 
practice ; and tnat both of them may be damnable, 
we shall hear anon. An apostacy from the profession 
of Christian religion is threefold — through ignorance, 
when many that have not come to any sound under- 
standing of their profession, forsake it ; such were the 
carnal Jews (John vi. 66) — an apostacy from the pro- 
fession through infirmity and carnal fear, as Peter's 


"was ,* although it is dreadful, -when tlieir profession 
is cloaked and covered for a while for some base 
ends — and an apostaey from the profession through 
resolute wickedness ; and this may be sometimes 
with a check, and sometimes without it. The first 
of these belongs not to us. An apostaey in practice, 
is that decay and falling from the practice of those 
duties, that the profession retained obligeth unto ; 
and this is total or partial : partial, as in the case of 
the godly, who often fall into it ; total, as in that of 
hypocrites only, who may return just to the same state 
from which their common workings brought them, 
(2 Pet. ii. 19, 20). Only, I would have you to regard 
these things about this distinction of apostacies ; to 
wit, that where there is a great measure of any one, 
there is no want of a measure of the other — that if 
they were separable, apostaey from the profession is 
the worst, because most to God's dishonour, though 
the other also be dishonourable and destructive — 
that a great degree of either is damning — and they 
are so linked together, that in the full handling of one, 
we must speak of the other, for principles of profes- 
sion have an influence on practice, and bad practice 
has an influence to darken the judgment. 

2. The next thing promised to be handled is, How 
such apostacies are carried on. And this question is 
useful for convicting those who are under them ; for 
preparing us all against them, and Satan's devices 
and our own heart's treachery in the matter — and 
for instructing us both in repentance and reformation 
— for the method of sin's advancing, instructs in the 
method of reformation and repentance. 

As to the apostaey of ignorance it concerns not 
us, for wo speak of that of illuminated professors. 

HEBREWS VI. i, 5, 6. 349 

As to the other, though we have distinguished them, 
yet now, shall we offer to give a thread of the scope 
downward again, premising only these things, 1. That 
the depth of the sovereignty of Satan's cunning and 
the heart's treachery, renders it impossible to search 
out this mystery of iniquity unto the bottom. 2. As 
it is the design of the Spirit of God in his common 
operations, to draw men unto that pitch of attain- 
ment and happiness from which there is no falling, 
so is it Satan's, in tempting, to pull men into irre- 
coverable misery. 3. As men's wickedness often 
mars the success attainable by the improvement of 
the Holy Ghost's workings, so the Lord's goodness, 
sometimes special, sometimes common, stops the ca- 
reer into inevitable apostacies ; and therefore, often 
where saving grace is not, yet the depth of apostacy 
is prevented, sometimes by restraint on temptations, 
and sometimes by a restraint on the corruptions in 

Now, to offer some light upon these black stairs 
to the pit, we are to remember how far the man is 
gone upward as is said. 1. His first preparative to 
backsliding is standing still. He thinks he is so 
well advanced, that he is now shot-free : now he hath 
got what will save him ; and he looks down upon 
those below him, with a sort of loftiness and disdain. 
2. Then come heart-quarrels against further advance- 
ment. As the pride of his heart appears in the for- 
mer case, so does its unrenewedness and want of sancti- 
fication in this. Wanting the new nature that kindly 
inclines unto progress, he thinks that further pro- 
gress is needless, or may be troublesome and preju- 
dicial unto his carnal interests, the love whereof is 
not rooted out. 3. Satan and his heart do now pro- 


pose unto him his idol, some one corruption or other, 
that in the former advancing was, it may be, for a 
while put to the door: now is it presented, and enter- 
tained, it is likely, more secretly, but as warmly as 
ever. It hath the throne, although it gives not forth 
such open laws as formerly. 4. Then may his light 
and this reinstatement struggle awhile together, and 
with an issue of this sort — that either his light 
is displeasing, for its crossing him in his enjoyment, 
or that idol may now and then be a little discounte- 
nanced, though never hated, according to the clear- 
ness of his light and convictions, as they ebb or flow. 
5. While it is thus with him in this carnal warfare, 
possibly a trial may come, wherein resolvedly he must 
take part with his light or his sin ; for the former 
may be in his ordinary practice, the latter in his way 
wherein he must walk, and that with choice and 
deliberation. And here a hotter and sorer combat 
must be, and we suppose, without a powerful re- 
straint, he now makes a bad choice, and resolvedly 
crosseth his light, for satisfying of his carnal aim 
and scope. 6. When he is arrived at this, that he 
walks in a way that is not good, with a deliberate 
purpose, and hath left the way of God in profession 
or practice, then is it possible that he may arrive at 
a positive and avowed resolute dislike of that way 
and truth that formerly he walked in, and which 
was so prejudicial to his lusts. And the more there 
remains in hira of the light of that truth, then 
more hotly doth the fire of enmity in his heart break 
forth. This is a considerable step, and far down- 
ward, and near the pit. But this is not all. 7. He 
comes now to a hatred and dislike of Jesus Christ 
himself, whose truth he once knew and professed. 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 351 

He thinks him a hard master, now when he hath 
left him ; that his laws are more intolerable and 
grievous, and his promises unworthy, and insufficient 
to balance his designs of seeking happiness. 8. And 
then he comes to hate those pains and workings on 
his heart, whereby any savour on his heart at any 
time was wrought of this way, and his offered and 
once pretended guide. 9. And lastly. His enmity 
against the worker, the Holy Ghost, may break out, 
and that the more, that in all this backsliding of his, 
he hath met with the more warnings, stops, and ter- 
rors, in his course. 

Another way to guess at the method of such apos- 
tacies, shall be from the words themselves, wherein 
we have five steps of advancement, and so the apos- 
tacy must be from all ; and we must begin at the top 
of this ladder. 

1. His tasting the powers of the world to come is 
fallen from, it may be from carelessness, and the be- 
witching relish of other things, (see Matt. xiii. 22) ; 
and this chokes his further growth. Heaven, the 
end and scope of all godliness, grows an unsavoury 
thing with him, for he never had a spiritual savour 
of it ; and this little taste may be put away by his 
savourino;- the thino^s of the earth. 2. His savourinor 
of God's word decays also naturally, because of the 
former. He that hath lost his relish of heaven, what 
taste can God's good word have unto him ? 3. He 
then comes to lose his partakings of the Holy Ghost : 
gifts decay either through his carelessness, or justly 
are taken away. 4. His sort of faith decays with it : 
Christ becomes unsavoury also. He hath now no re- 
lish of a Saviour; the tidings of him are tasteless 
and disgusting. 5. And lastly, he falls from his light 


and knowledge also, either by struggling with it, and 
the Lord's withdrawing thereof, or by his wilfully 
putting it out — which is a sin possible for a man left 
of God, and given up to Satan to do. 

3. What is the danger of apostacy ? 1. This is one 
of its great dangers, that every declining is restless, 
and tends unto a growth. No man can stand still in 
this course, unless he is kept by restraining, or brought 
back by saving grace. 2. Because recoveries are very 
rare, even from apostacies that are not simply incur- 
able. There is so much provocation in them, that 
the Lord ordinarily recovers not so many plagues of 
heart ; and these so strongly are contracted, that 
rarely they are recovered from. 3. And because 
there is a step in apostacy that is incurable, that is 
the danger which the Spirit of God here propoundeth. 
And therefore here we shall both show its nature and 
its irrecoverableness, and how it is reasonable that it 
should be so. 

For its nature — there is considerable difficulty here; 
yet shall we endeavour to walk as warily as we can, 
to shun inconveniences on both hands. The word 
gives us no definition ; but it gives us the names of 
this sin. It is a " sin against the Holy Ghost," that 
is, against him in his workings, and as working is the 
object of this, if we may so speak, (Matt. xii. 31). He 
that speaks a word against the Son of Man, having 
no conviction of his godhead and office, it shall upon 
repentance be forgiven ; but not so this sin, which 
is against the Holy Ghost's workings : he hath " done 
despite unto the Spirit of grace," (Heb. x. 29). It 
is also a blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and re- 
lates to the case where the Pharisees, convinced in 
their consciences by the Holy Ghost of the appearance 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 353 

of God in Christ's mighty works, did yet call him a 
devil ; not that it stands simply in words, but only as 
the blaspheming words proceed from the heart, as in 
that instance they did. And it is an apostacy that 
is utter and total : " For if we sin wilfully after that 
we have received the knowledge of the truth, there re- 
maineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful 
looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which 
shall devour the adversaries," (Heb. x. 26, 27). And 
it is a " sin unto death" (1 John v. 16), and unpardon- 
able ; that is, such as never shall be forgiven. " All 
manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto 
men : but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall 
not be forgiven unto men," (Matt. xii. 31). There is 
no repentance for such as commit it, (Heb. vi. 6) ; 
nothing is left to them, but an expectation of ven- 

The scriptures as they name the sin, so they spe- 
cify the persons that commit it. They are professors ; 
it is not the sin of heathens : they have "trodden under 
foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the 
covenant wherewith thei/ were sanctified, an unholy 
thing, and have done despite unto the Spirit of 
grace," (Heb. x. 29). And they have knowledge, 
illumination, and other gifts, as this, and the other 
places we have cited do all prove. It is then a sin 
to be found in professors of the highest stamp. 

The scriptures tell us what the committers of this 
sin do. They blaspheme against their conscience and 
knowledge (Matt. xii. 31) ; they crucify Christ afresh, 
call him a deceiver, and approve of the Jews crucify- 
ing him. On that account they " put him to open 
shame ;" they openly renounce his name, and give the 
world to know that they have tried him, and find 



nothing in him worthy to be adhered unto. But 
Hebrews x. 29, is a further and clearer explication of 
this. They " tread under foot the Son of God ;" that 
is, openly and basely despise him — " count the blood of 
the covenant wherewith they were sanctified an un- 
holy," common "thing ;" that is, reckon Christ's blood 
sealing the covenant wherein once they were exter- 
nally, and so, federally holy, no more than common 
blood, nay, not so much — and " do despite unto the 
Spirit of grace ;" despitefully reject the Holy Ghost, 
who was at labour formerly with their hearts, to con- 
vert and sanctify them, and work grace in them. 

This much might satisfy, but we shall now briefly 
deduce some conclusions from the foregoing, without 
offering any peremptory definition from them. 

1. This sin, then, is against Christ as a Saviour, 
and in his office of Redeemer, and that, witnessed 
unto by the Holy Ghost in the sinner's conscience ; 
and so, it is called both a sin against Christ and the 
Holy Ghost in difi'erent respects, but the latter more 
properly; or both thus conjunctly — it is against 
Christ evidenced to the conscience by the Holy Ghost 
to be the Redeemer of the world ; or against the 
Holy Ghost witnessing this to the conscience. 2. 
This sin is an act of the highest contempt, and de- 
spite, and wilful rejecting ; and such it must be where 
the evidence is so pressing. 

How can this sin be committed ? As it is thus 
defined, many question its possibility, and that, be- 
cause of these circumstances : It is a sin above that 
of the devils, who are greater and older sinners than 
men : it is such an avowed rushing on eternal misery, 
when man's reason and self-love should struggle 
against it ; — and there is no temptation to it. In 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 355 

answer to these objections, we shall give some general 
reasons to obviate them, and prove the possibility of 
committing it ; explain scripture instances ; and give 
a more particular reply. In general, we give for 
answer, that the heart's wickedness is an unsearch- 
able depth, and our reason will soon be aground in 
searching it ; nor can it well be told what may be 
produced of such a creature as man is, when these 
things concur — total desertion on the part of God ; 
the being utterly left unto Satan's temptations ; and 
the irritating power of spiritual challenges and con- 
victions. As for the scripture instances, we need 
only allude here to that of the Pharisees, who knew 
that Christ was led by the Spirit of God, and yet 
they fell into this blasphemy. But to answer particu- 
larly, it is no absurdity to say that there are some 
aggravations in the sin of men, which are not in that 
of devils; as all gospel sins, which flow not so much 
entirely from sinful nature in itself considered, as 
from it when suitable circumstances draw it out. As 
for the rushing on eternal misery which it implies, it 
is a question, if they always know this, when they 
commit it : belike the Pharisees themselves knew not 
all their danger. In ordinary sins against knowledge, 
somewhat of this madness is found, and there is no 
wonder if it should be found in this. Their stupidity 
of conscience is come to that height, that it is no 
wonder they run on. As for the want of temptations 
to commit this crime ; if by a temptation you mean 
an offer of advantage, that should take with a reason- 
able man, it is true, there is none here as in other 
cases. But if we take temptation so largely, as to 
comprehend Satan's diligence in stirring up, the 
heart's inclination to yield, some fancied satisfaction 


to move, then, the sinner against the Holy Ghost 
sins not without a temptation. His fancied advan- 
tages may be many, as was the case with the Pharisees, 
and as it is with the worst of apostates at all times ; 
yet in such high acts of raging madness against God, 
man acts rather like a devil, than a reasonable crea- 

We are now to show the unpardonableness of this 
sin, and the reasonableness that it should be so. 
And though it might be enough to satisfy us that 
God saith it, yet we may consider its reasonableness, 
which will appear from a consideration of these points ; 
1. This is the highest affront unto the Son of God 
who hath undertaken our redemption. To neglect his 
salvation through carelessness, is damning (Heb. ii. 
3) ; to contend with Him and his offers in pursuit of 
our lusts, is yet worse ; to stand out against him to 
the last breath in the madness of rebellion, is terrible. 
But after some acquaintance and professed subjection, 
deliberately to pour out contempt on his sacrifice of 
atonement, and thus give the defiance to God, is in- 
tolerable. 2. This is the highest and utmost opposition 
unto such operations of the Holy Ghost, as may be 
saving, and that, after the clearest and most convincing 
evidences that can be given. 3. This is the highest 
ripeness of sin ; this is sin in its own proper colours; 
thus the man who commits it, is like the devil, or 
like one in hell. 4. It is the full ripeness of spiritual 
plagues that do highly indispose unto all returning. 
Hardness of heart is great and ripe, like the devil's; 
conscience is stupid, or filled with hopeless fear, and 
that indeed no pleasure to the man, and yet not hea- 
vily his burden. 

Because we cannot now enter on the further hand- 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 357 

ling and applying of this terrible purpose, I shall now 
only draw these inferences from what is said. 

1. Then there is no ground for Satan's disquieting 
of any with their having committed this sin, who 
are displeased with any thing they have done in op- 
position to Christ and his Spirit; who have any 
honest longings to be at peace with God in him ; 
who find any longings of love and liking towards 
him ; and who can entreat the Holy Ghost to work 
yet more within their hearts. 

2. We see then that there is great reason to beware 
of any thing that leads towards this dreadful sin, 
that it may be escaped ; such as long continuance 
under the offers of the gospel, without making up a 
hearty peace, and closing with Christ, which is our 
security against this sin ; and sins against knowledge 
and conscience, even against the law. These are sad 
preparatives, and lead on to this sin against the 
Holy Ghost. 

3. Walking in the way and course that is not good. 
This is more than the former, for this is deliberate 
and resolved ; whereas the violence of a temptation 
by a surprise may draw Peter and David into the 

4. Beware of the pardonable sins against the Holy 
Ghost, if you would escape that which is unpardon- 
able. These are four in scripture terms, which I 
shall only apply unto our present purpose : 

1st, Resisting the saving assaults of the Holy Ghost, 
(Acts vii. 51), a dreadful sin ! which yet all in some 
measure are guilty of, who yield not their hearts at 
the first calls of the gospel ; and indeed, the unpar^ 
donable sin itself, is a high degree of this. 

2d, Quenching of the Spirit (1 Thess. v. 19), which 


whatever be in it as it stands in that chapter, this is 
in it as to our purposes — when awakening, heart- 
warning, sin-consuming operations are quenched ; 
when men cast water thereupon, as if they were in 
hazard of being burnt up thereby. 

3. Grieving of the Holy Ghost (Ephes. iv. 30), 
which though it be a sin, as the former, that the 
godly may and often do fall into, yet we rather ap- 
ply it in this sense to the ungodly ; and thus it is, 
when the Spirit of God is at work, and is in some 
joyful hopeful temper of having gained somewhat on 
the heart, the man immediately provokes and proves 
all to be lost labour. 

4. Vexing of the Spirit of God, (Isa. Ixiii. 10). 
That is the sin of rebellion, and it hints, as it were, 
the Spirit of the Lord being put to irresolution and 
vexation how to guide and gain them, when one 
mean after another is used, and all in vain : " 
Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee 1 Judah, what 
shall I do unto thee ? for your goodness is as a morn- 
ing cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away," 
(Hos. vi. 4). Love is tried, and that prevails not ; 
terror, and that works not, (See Matt. xi. 16). 
None of his dealings please them ; but as it was with 
Israel, they find fault with every thing. 

We have thus been handling as dreadful truths as 
are to be found in the word — that men of unsound 
hearts may attain to great things in godliness, or in 
the appearances of it ; and that hypocrites of the 
highest attainments may fearfully fall. But it may 
be said, " This is the way to dishearten us in reli- 
gion to tell us such things." I answer. If God do 
not tell you them, do not believe us. Besides, there 
is not the least discouragement in all this, but rather 

HEBREWS VI. 4, 5, 6. 359 

matter of humility, and searching, and awakening, 
and therefore do we use it. Its design is not to dis- 
courage, and it is abused if this be felt. And what 
hazard, say you, are you in of apostacy like this in the 
text 1 You are in hazard of heart-declinings, which 
may be damning. You know not what temptations 
you may be exposed unto, of renouncing the truth of 
the gospel ; and the prevailing of such temptations 
may accomplish all the misery spoken of here. May 
apostates go far forward to heaven ? Then search 
yourselves, and see how far you go beyond them. 



iK''ih !' 

'I Mli^'iM 

lllll! i 


l;ii 111 





' i i