THE PENITENT SINNERS EN­TERTAINE­MENT.

Set foorth by Mr. IOHN HILL, Student in Diuinitie, and now Preacher of Gods Word at Dublin in IRELAND.

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AT LONDON Printed by IOHN BEALE, for IONAS MAN. 1614.

TO THE VVOR­shipfull and vertuous Gen­tlewomen Mis. TEMPERANCE CREW, wife to Mr. Thomas Crew, and Mis. Mary Blinco, wife to Mr. Iohn Blinco, I. H. desireth all grace and peace vnfainedly to bee mul­tiplied: &c.

GOdly, and christian gen­tlewomen, whom I loue in the truth,2. Ioh. 1. I hope I may speake of you as did that worthy Apostle of the elect la­dy, who by the fruits of her piety and godlines, manifested her electi­on: so you by the loue you beare tow­ards God, his ordinances, and ser­uants, doe declare euidently,1. Ioh. 3.14 your [Page] translation from death to life, and by your vertuous and holie liues, you demonstrate freedome from sin, which are of euerlasting life. I haue made bolde (Christian Gentlewo­men) to patronize this small worke vnder your fauours, in token of thankefulnes, for your many fauours I haue receiued from you; not doubt­ing but small things of this nature, will bee much respected, and wil­lingly receiued; both in respect of your owne priuate gaine, as also the profit & benefit, which the whole Church of God may reap & gather frō it. Now if you, or the rest of the body of Christ shall receiue any bene­fit by it, for the furthering of that [Page] worke of repentanee, and sanctifica­tion of life, giue God the glory and praise.

And so J humbly take my leaue, commending you to the prouidence of God, and the word of his grace,Act. 20.32. which is able to build further, and to giue you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Yours in all christian duties to commaund IOHN HILL.

THE PENITENT SINNERS EN­TERTAINE­MENT.

LVKE 15.20, 21, 22, &c.

So he arose and came to his Father, and when he was yet a great way off, his Father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his necke, &c.

IN all this parable of a god­ly and religious father, and a stubborne and impious sonne, is prefigured and set downe, the vnspeakeable loue and compassion of God our heauen­ly father to all his children in Iesus Christ, which haue beene rebellious and disobe­dient before their calling.

In these words are set down two things, viz.

  • First the duties of a penitent sinner,
  • Secondly the promotion that the penitent person comes vnto.

In the dueties of the penitent person, there are two things to be considered.

First, a perswasion of mercy, & sure con­fidence of obteining compassion, if he did returne, implied in the word (Father) as if he should haue said; truth it is O Father, as my life & works haue beene toward thee, I doe not deserue to be thy son (as in the words following may appeare) but yet neuer the lesse, I am perswaded, that though I haue failed of my duty towards thee, yet thou wilt not faile of thy loue to me: & although there be no desert of mer­cy in me, yet I know there is cōpassion for seeking for with thee: and this is the first ground the penitent person laies, to ob­taine mercie.

Secondly, the penitent person con­fesseth his sinne, whereby he had offen­ded his father, for there must be a confessi­on, that as the childe is to be well per­swaded of the loue of his father, so hee must be ill perswaded of himselfe, in res­pect [Page 3] of his sinne, and therefore he saith, I haue sinned against heauen and before thee: that is, against the God of heauen, and against thee my naturall father, and so I haue broken both the tables of the commandements.

And he confesseth also, he was not worthie to be called a sonne to so godly a father, or to receiue mercie that was so full of impietie, making himselfe vile and base in his owne eyes, that he might be highly esteemed in his Fathers eies: which is the first part.

Now for the second part of this text, which is the promotion the penitent sin­ner shall be exalted vnto; set downe in the 22. & 23. verses, rendering a reason wher­fore the father did thus promote him.

The promotion set downe is this; the father seeing his riotous and vnthriftie sonne returne home, with a broken and humble heart, and with a resolution to become a new man, and rather desiring his fathers loue then his goods, he pre­sently offers himselfe to his childe, & be­fore he could aske for his needs, he com­maunds his seruants to bring forth such [Page 4] things as his penitent sonne wanted, and to giue it before he did craue it, for the father seeing his sonne so well clothed with humilitie and with godly remorse for his former life within, he wil not re­iect him, though he came poore and rag­ged outward, but cals for the best robe to couer him.

The comparison is taken from a King and a princelike childe, whose manner was to weare robes, and before the sonne could aske for apparrell which he stoode in neede of, the father giues him a robe to put on: for seeing he had made himselfe base in his owne eyes, he would cloath him royally that hee might seeme pre­cious in his fathers eyes.

And put a ring on his hand: that is, hee would not only giue him things for nece­ssity, but also to adorne & beautifie him, & as the Apostle saith, vpon our vncomely parts he will put more comelinesse on.

And shooes on his feete] And whereas he came barefooted to his father, he com­maunds shooes to be put on his feete, to keepe and preserue them from thornes and stones that might annoy & hurt thē.

And bring the fatte calfe &c] And whereas he came with a languishing sto­macke for want of meate (for before he had beene feeding amongst swine) now he will refresh him with a tender calfe; with pleasant and comfortable meate.

And let vs eat & be merie.] Here is cause of mirth & reioycing on both sides; First on the fathers side, that had lost an vnto­wardly sonne, and now had found an o­bedient sonne, that went from him dead in his sinnes, and returned quickned vn­to the life of grace, that departed impeni­tent, and returned humbled; in all which there was cause of mirth, and this cause the father renders himselfe to his eldest sonne; for my sonne was dead and is now aliue, he was lost, but is now found, &c. Secondly there was cause of reioycing in the sonne, because he went from his father a dead man, and now he comes to his fa­ther a liuing man: he went from him stub­borne, proude, disobedient, he returnes meeke, penitent, and obedient; in truth he departed from him a childe of Belia [...] and returnes to him the childe of God; in all which, there was great cause of ioy [Page 6] on both sides. And so much for the somme and order of these words.

The drift of the parable is, that if a godly father had a stubborne and vngod­ly sonne that had departed from him; and spent his portion amongst ryotous and lewd companions, yet if the father should see his sonne come home in that manner as is before alleadged, hee would re­ceiue him againe, nay he ought (in truth) to entertaine him into his fauour againe with ioy, passing by all his stubborne and disobedient behauiours, remitting all his faults, and receiue him as his childe againe, notwithstanding all his offences.

Applica­tion.Then the application of this Parable is, that if the people of God haue beene A­postates, reuolters, rebels, and disobedi­ent vnto God, yet if they would from a plaine and an honest heart, returne to God by true and sound repentance, con­fessing their sinnes with godly sorrow, & iudging themselues not worthy of mercy; then wil the Lord, command his ministers [...] put on the rich robe of Christ his righteousnesse; and they shall be adorned with the graces and gifts of his spirit, and [Page 7] shod with the gospell of peace, and giue them the flesh and blood of his sonne, and the comfort and ioy of the spirit, and shal haue communion with God in Christ Iesus, and this will God bestow vpon e­uery penitent sinner. For if a naturall pa­rent can shew so much mercie to so vn­gracious and impious a childe when hee humbles himselfe vnto him, that hath but a drop of mercie, in compari­son of the Ocean and Sea of mercie which is in God, how much more will God shew mercie vnto such penitent and humble sinners, that with sence and fee­ling of their sinnes and wants can come to God for mercie? And so much for the explication and application of the words.

And the sonne said vnto him father, &c.] that is, the penitent childe said vnto his naturall father. But before we come to gather any doctrine from the very words of the text; there ariseth a doctrine frō the dependance of the words, in the 17 and 18 verses; for when he came to himselfe and was his owne man, and was awake­ned out of his spirituall frenzie, then he considered what he might doe; and be­gins [Page 8] with this resolution; I will goe to my father and say, &c.] he begins to loath that course of life, and now doth put that in practise, which before he did but pur­pose; and put that in deede, which before he had but thought in minde. From hence ariseth naturally this doctrine.

Doctrine. That where there is true repentance, there is not onely good purposes in the heart,That reso­lution in heart and action in life must goe toge­ther. but also good endeauors and acti­ons in the life, not onely thinke and say well, but also practise and doe well. This we may see verie fitly proued vnto vs, in the examples of Ruth and Orpah, both of them purposed a like, for both protested to companie with Naomie to her owne countrie, to serue the God of heauen; but Orpah hearing the reasons against that her purpose, returned backe to serue their idols:Ruth. 1. but Ruth hauing beene grounded by true repentance, to the loue of true re­ligion held on her resolution, although her Mother in law did bring her sisters ex­ample as an argument to perswade her to returne also, but she replies against her Mothers speeches, saying, intreate mee not to returne, for whether thou goest I [Page 9] will goe, and where thou dwellest I will dwell, thy people shall bee my people, and thy God my God. And what made Ruth so good of her word in this respect, be­cause she was come to her selfe, and true repentance, which made her thus purpose and performe.

The like we see in Paul when he came to repentance, he resolued to leaue his blasphemie and persecuting of the Saints of God, and so did: he was as good in acti­on, as he was in purpose and affection. This doctrine being so; may also be far­ther confirmed by reasons drawne from the holy scriptures of God.

First, because whosoeuer comes to true repentance, will haue stronger rea­sons Reason 1 to doe well then to doe ill, and bet­ter arguments for godlinesse, then he can for sinne and wickednesse; as here we see this prodigall childe had; and so the Church in Hosea, Hos. 2.7. when the Lord met with them by his iudgements and stop­ped the way, of inioying their outward blessings in that abundance which they had before time enioyed, and all because they did attribute their plentie to their [Page 10] idols, but in their penurie and want they haue better reasons; and say, I will goe and returne to my first husband (that is to Christ) for at that time I was better then now: as also in the fourteenth chap­ter, when they come to repentance for their idolatrie,Hos. 14.4. they say; neither will we say any more to the worke of our hands, ye are our gods, for in thee the father­lesse finde mercie; as if they should haue said, we will not be so ignorant and sot­tish any longer, to thinke that an Idoll or carued peece of wood can pittie vs or shew vs any compassion, for they are but our creatures, and therefore it argues that they should rather kneele and bow to vs, then we to them; thus we see their iudgements are better informed when they came to repentance, then they were before, for repentance is a change of the minde, as it signifies.

Secondly, looke what reasons men haue to purpose well, the same reasons they haue to hold out well; the same ar­guments which worke good affections in ones heart, will also hold out to bring foorth good actions in the life, as heere [Page 11] the prodigall childe.

Thirdly, where true repentance is, there will be also godly sorrow (for it causeth repentance,2. Cor. 7.10. as the Apostle saith) and where godly sorrow begins, these effects will follow. First, a holy care to leaue e­uill, and to practise that which is good. Secondly, a clearing of ones selfe from ones sin. Thirdly, it will worke an indig­nation and a holy anger against ones sin. Fourthly, a godly feare to commit sin the time euer after. Fifthly, a desire to serue God more, & to haue a greater measure of grace to please him better. Sixthly, a godly zeale of gods glorie, and after the spirituall meanes of ones saluation. And Lastly, a holy reuenge vpon ones owne selfe, for the sinnes whereby wee haue dishonoured God: and these are the effects of true repentance. And to this effect doth the Apostle Iames speake, Cleanse your handes ye sinners, Iam. 9.8. and purge your hearts yee double minded But they might obiect; How shall we come to this purging and clensing of both inside and outside? He answers them in these words following; suffer afflictions, and sorrow [Page 12] yee and weepe, let your laughter be tur­ned into mourning, & your ioy into hea­uinesse; as if he should haue said, if you wil purge your heart from sin, and part the sin from the soule, you must come to godly sorrow for your sins: for the nature of sin is such, that it is like a little childe, it will tarrie longest there where it is most made of, so if we will loue and make much of sinne we shall haue his company, but if we will labour to afflict our soules for our sinnes and sorrow for it, we shall quick­ly be rid of it.

Ʋse 1 Sith it is so, that they that haue truely repented, will not onely haue good pur­poses and motions, but also good en­deauours and good actions, It serues, first for reproofe of such persons as would haue Gods children to thinke that they haue repented, because they purpose to leaue their sinnes: they will say, they haue a purpose to forsake their couetousnesse, to leaue their swearing, Sabboth breaking, their drunkennesse and such like sinnes, and will proceede no further: but aske them wherefore you would haue vs conceaue so well of you [Page 13] that you haue repented? because we pur­pose well; It is true, good motions are to bee respected, but if they doe not bring forth good actions, they are no better then quaulmes and passions that may be in verie wicked men and hypo­crites: for if there be good desires in the heart, there will follow certainely good endeauours and actions in the whole man. Saul in a passion would con­fesse to Dauid, O my sonne Dauid, thou art more righteous then I; and why did he presently fall to persecute Dauid a­gaine? was it not because the spirit of God neuer conuinced his conscience of the sinne, and he neuer came to godly sorrow for the same, and therefore these were but passions, which died before they brought forth good actions? Iu­das also could come to this, I haue sinned in betraying innocent blood: so farre he went well: but hee could not come to repentance to craue pardon, for had he repented hee might haue beene par­doned, and if he could haue beleeued he should haue beene saued, but doing neither, he was damned. Such passions and [Page 14] quaulmes had they, which in all the hast, would goe and build vpon Christ: they did not consider beforehand what char­ges it would amount vnto, and whether they were able to vndertake so great a building,Luk. 14.28.29. and therefore hauing begunne, they could not proceede, but left off and were not able to finish it; So manie haue sudden flashings and passions come into their mindes, to doe good things, but not considering the danger nor charges that one must be at, if they purpose to build vpon Christ, they let their sute fall, and their purposes are quickly extinct and quenched before they come foorth to action. But these passions the Prophet Hosea compares to the morning dewe.Hos. 6.9. O Ephraim what shall I doe vnto thee, O Iu­dah how shall I intreate thee? for your good­nesse is like the morning cloude, and as the Morning dewe it goeth away: that is, as soone as the sunne ariseth and shewes forth his beames of light, it lickes vp the dewe vpon the grasse; so soone passeth your goodnesse, and it is of no continu­ance. Of such a nature are all these passi­ons and sudden quaulmes that many may [Page 15] haue, and yet be verie sinnefull and wick­ed: manie haue these flashings when they come to the Sacrament, and will haue these purposes to leaue their couetous­nesse, their swearing, Sabboth breaking, and all their knowne and notorious sinnes; and they will also purpose to pray more, frequent the exercises of religion more, and they will amend many disor­ders which are amisse (if it might be all remedied with thoughts and purposes) but after the Sacrament they are as pro­phane and sinnefull as euer they were be­fore, and are neuer a whit the better in practise and conuersation. Oh before they goe to the Sacrament they will pur­pose to make satisfaction to such whom they haue wronged, and to liue as friends with them which in times past they haue much grieued; but let the Sacrament be past, there is no more hearing of satis­faction, nor acknowledgement of iniu­ries and wrongs offered; yet we shall haue these vnconstant men perswade themselues they haue repented, & would haue others so to thinke and reckon of them: but such must know that they haue [Page 16] not yet repented, till these motions and purposes conceiued, bring forth good actions in life to be practised.

Secondly, it serues for instruction, that seeing true repentance stands in re­soluing 2 and doing, therefore if euer we will haue anie sound comfort to our soules and consciences, whensoeuer the spirit of God hath put into our hearts good motions and good affections, let vs follow them hard to bring them to perfection, and then wee shall be bles­sed in the worke (as the Apostle Iames speaketh:) let vs labour to doe that which Barnabas exhorts the faithfull brethren at Antiochia; That with purpose of heart, they should continue in the Lord. So let vs with all purpose of heart resolue to leaue our sinnes, and to practise holy and good dueties: let vs be like vnto this pro­digall childe, which did purpose and practise, and so we shall haue a good testi­monie to our hearts that wee haue re­pented.

Oh but, I can no sooner haue a good motion come into my heart, but Satan is readie to steale it out, and mine owne [Page 17] corruption to extinguish it, before I can bring it forth to action? but labour to put in practize these rules which by Gods grace may helpe thee, to cherish good motions & further them, that they come out to practise in thy life and conuersa­tion.

First, if wee would haue our good de­sires 1 to come to good deedes, wee must labour to come to sound and thorough sorrow of heart for sinnes past; and let vs pluck the roots of sinne vp by the wee­ding hooke of godly sorrow, and then wee shall bring forth good actions; and therefore the Apostle Iames in the place before alleadged, exhorts his hearers to purge their hearts by godly sorrow, for it will breake the cords of sinne, and kill it by degrees. And to the intent that wee may sorrow for sinne, let vs bee frequent in meditating of what sinne would haue done to vs, namely haue killed vs, (for the wages of sinne is death) and exposed vs to the euerlasting wrath of God. Also consider, that our sins killed Iesus Christ the Lord of life, they were the murtherers and betrayers of this iust one. And what­soeuer [Page 18] woe or miserie hath or can befall vs in this present life, is the effect of these our sinnes. Thus seriously pondering of these things, it will procure godly sor­row for sinne, which godly sorrow will produce good actions from good mo­tions.

2 Secondly, wee must bring good rea­sons and arguments against our corrupti­ons, and Satans temptations, for if wee fall out with the diuell, and wee haue not better arguments to stand for good du­ties, then hee hath against them, wee shall not bee able to hould out. For if Saul could haue had good arguments and rea­sons when he pursued and fought against Dauid, if hee could haue considered, suer­ly in fighting against Dauid, I fight against my best friend, and my faithfullest subiect, yea in so doing I shall fight against God, and mine owne saluation &c. then hee would neuer haue followed him with such a deadly malice. Iob that faithfull ser­uant of God, hee had good reasons to keepe him from sinne, as appeareth, I haue made a couenant with mine eies, Iob 31.1, 2, 3. why should I thinke on a maide, and what portion should [Page 19] I haue of God from aboue, and what inheri­tance from the almighty from on high? is there not destruction to the wicked, and strange punishmēt to the workers of iniquity? Why doth Iob bee so diligent in watch­ing ouer his senses lest hee should offend? His reason is, if hee should not haue re­gard to them, hee knew that the Lord would not regard him: and if hee should haue let loose his eies to behold wanton­nes, hee knew hee should quickly loose the fauour of God, and letting his eies take their liberty, hee should suddenly haue tasted some miserie: for hee knew there were strange punishments for the workers of iniquity. Oh but who takes notice of ones thoughts and lookes? I may let my eies to take their liberty, and no man can perceiue it; nay, but Iob makes answere, Doth not God behold my waies and tell all my steppes? And although man cannot take notice of my lustfull heart and eies, yet the allseeing God doth behold it, and considers my steppes. Which made him not so much as wrong his poorest seruant hee kept: for saith he, If I did contemne the iudgment of my ser­uant, [Page 20] and of my maide, when they did con­tend with me, 13.19 ver. what then shall I doe when God standeth vp? and when hee shall visite me what shal I answer? And the reason why Iob durst not bee froward with his ser­uants; because saith hee, Hee that made mee in the wombe, hath hee not made him? As if hee should haue said, it may bee my seruant may bee as dearely beloued of God as I my selfe, and hee may bee an heire of Heauen as well as I; at least wise, I know wee are both his workemanship; and therefore I dare not vexe and iniure him. The whole chapter doth run vpon such arguments and reasons.

3 The third thing to make one constant, is, when the Lord hath put into our mindes good motions, that wee delay not, but presently and quickly put them in practise, and bring it forth into action, as the prodigall childe here did, for imme­diately as soone as this came into his minde, I will rise and goe to my Father, hee delaied not, but rose and came to his father. So the prophet Dauid did, finding himselfe out of the way,Psal. 119.60. hee saith, I made hast and delaied not to keepe thy commande­ments. [Page 21] Whiles the wound is greene, it is best to goe to the Surgeon: and wee haue an old prouerbe, It is good striking, whiles the iron is hot; so when God puts into our hearts good affections, let vs quickly put them in practise; whiles hee warmes vs with the word & Sacraments, let vs not delay but speedily put it in acti­on, and whiles hee speakes by afflictions, let vs resolue vppon a holy conuersation. Now many when they come to the word, and hearing of such duties which they ought to practise, as for prayer to be per­formed of euery one, at the lest both mor­ning and euening, the heart is presently affected with it, and resolue to practise it, but so soone as they are gone out of the Church, they defer the putting the duty in practise by and by, and so those motions die before they come forth into action: and all because they doe not speedily goe about the worke; for as fier without sup­plie of fuell will quickly bee extinguish­ed, euen so the delaying of putting these good resolutions and desires in practise, doe quickly goe out, and it leaues such a deadnes and hardnes of heart, and makes [Page 22] one more duller to euery good dutie: wherefore whiles the heart is warme with any good motion, let vs spedily put it in practise.

4 Fourthly, to the end wee may haue all our purposes and desires come to actions and true endeauours, wee must take heed of bad company, for they will quickly quench the good motions of the spirit, that they may neuer come forth to acti­ons: for if this prodigall childe should vpon this determination haue gone and told his companions of this his resolutiō, they would haue quickly disswaded him from his purpose, but hee neuer goes to them to take their aduise, but of himselfe resolues and doeth. And this the Apos­tle Peter exhorts the new conuerts vnto, saying,Act. 2.40. Saue your selues from this froward generation, then they should bee sure to hold out, and not bee peruerted, nor our mindes altered & changed. And so much for the first doctrine.

So hee arose, and came to his father, and said to him, Father &c. In this confession which the prodigall childe doth make, [Page 23] hee begins with that which brought him home, euen the true consideration that he had a Father, and the perswasion of mer­cie, if hee did returne, was it as brought him home, and so to repentance. From hence ariseth plainely this doctrine.

That the perswasion of mercie is a spe­ciall Doct. 2 meanes to worke true repentance and sound reformation in vs, no better a motiue to driue vs to true repentance, then the perswasion of mercie from God: for if this prodigal childe should haue had this conceit to haue come into his braine, I will goe home, but my father will hit mee in the teeth of my sinne and former behauiour towards him, or that it may bee hee will whippe mee out of his doores, or commit mee to the house of correction, and such like, hee would neuer haue returned home, but rather haue en­ded his life amongst the swine, then to haue gone to such a cruell Father: but the perswasion of mercie driues him home. For proofe of this doctrine, the holy Ghost by the author to the Hebrues saith, For hee that cometh to God, must beleeue that God is, and that hee is a rewarder of [Page 24] them that seeke him: hee that will come to God and seeke him indeede, must bee perswaded to finde him in mercy, and that he will bestow his loue and fauour vpon him; for it is the perswasion of good suc­cesse that makes one goe to God: and therefore the Prophet saith,Psal. 130.4 That mercie is with thee that thou mightest bee feared. as if hee should haue said, I should neuer haue reuerenced thy name, but that there is hope of mercie and grace from thee. Therefore the diuels hauing no hope of mercie, they doe not, nor cannot feare the Lord. Wherefore let vs set downe this as a maine conclusion, that if wee cannot haue mercie from heauen, wee shall haue mercie from no place.

The Apostle Paul doth vrge the mer­cie of God,Rom. 12.1. to the Romans, as a forcible argument to serue God. I beseech you bretheren, by the mercies of God, that you giue vp your bodies a liuing sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your reaso­nable seruice of God; where the mercies of God are a speciall motiue to stirre them vp to serue God.

Also the prophet Zacharie saith, I will [Page 25] power vpon the howse of Dauid and the in­habitants of Ierusalem the spirit of grace and prayers, and they shall looke vpon mee, Zach. 12.12. whom they haue pierced, and they shall la­ment for him, as one mourneth for his onely sonne, whom &c. This will make one turne to Christ, when they see their sins so odious, as to bee the speciall instru­ments to wound and kill the Lord of life, and also when they doe consider that Christ gaue himselfe for them, this infi­nite loue and mercie, will mooue them to true repentance and godly sorrow.

It is not misery as can conuert one to God, and turne one from ones sinne; for then the diuels might haue bin conuerted before this time, for they are in anguish and perpetuall misery: and Iudas might haue repented, for hee was sensible of horrour enough in his conscience, but that rather did driue him from God, be­cause he could not apprehend the mercie and kindnesse of God.

The reasons to proue this doctrine are.

First, because till such time one haue this perswasion one shall neuer come to Reason 1 true confession, which is one part of [Page 26] sound repentance, and one will neuer confesse ones sinnes without hope of mercie.

2 Secondly, because it is vnpossible that one should pray aright, without one haue this perswasion of mercie, and there­fore Christ sets downe this, as the foun­dation of all true prayer, Our father which art in Heauen. For wee can neuer haue any comfort that our sinnes are pardoned till wee can boldly goe to him in assu­rance of mercie. And though wee haue failed of our duties towards him, yet hee will not faile of mercie to vs, because hee is our Father.

Sith this is so, that the perswasion of mercie is a speciall meanes to stirre vs vp to true and sound repentance, it serues for a double reproofe of two sorts of people.

Ʋse 1 First of those impious beasts and mon­sters of the world, that if one reproue them for their blasphemy, swearing, Sab­both-breaking, drunkennesse, filthines, and such like sinnes; they presently haue an answere for to cloake it, and extenuate it; oh but the Lord is mercifull: but to [Page 27] whom? to such as continue in this im­piety? no: but doest thou abuse the mercie and long suffering of God, that should leade thee to repentance, and so thereby doest harden thy heart in impe­nitency, and doest heape vp as a treasure vnto thy selfe, wrath against the day of wrath, that thus on earth adde drunkēnes to theft: these abuse the name of God, and it is more fearefull to abuse the Gos­pell, then the lawe. It were a sinne to breake the positiue lawe of a Prince, but more if hee stampe vnder his feete the priuy seale of the Prince, wherein his par­don is written, thus disgracing & mock­ing it, and yet hope for mercie of him. Wee would count it the part of a mad-man. Such are the dealings of all such presumptuous wretches, they breake the positiue lawes of the King of Heauen and earth, and continue in the breach of the first and second table of the commaun­dements; and not only so, but abuse the priuie signet of God, and hope for mercie notwithstanding their vngodlines: but such must know, that the Lord will not bee mercifull to such, but contrariwise, [Page 28] the wrath and seuerity of God. For if a Father should vse all the duties of kind­nes to his child, and yet hee would bee very rebellious to his Father still, and all because his Father is louing and kinde vnto him; such a childe would be quick­ly censured to bee a very vngracious and wicked child: how much more are such impious and in a high degree vngodly, which dayly displease God, blaspheme his name, prophane his Sabbaths, &c. and all because God is mercifull, and graci­ous? But these make a contrary vse of the loue of God, then the Prophet Zacha­ry exhorts the faithfull vnto, in the place before alleadged, that they should looke vpon him whom they had pierced, and lament, but the wicked wretches looke vpon him, and gnash their teeth at him, and blaspheme his name, and so are made impenitent.

2 Secondly, it serues for reproofe of such whom God hath afflicted with many crosses, and they see in themselues many sinnes, and much corruption; and then vpon this they sit themselues downe, whyning and crying, and neuer set for­ward [Page 29] one foote to goe to God for mer­cie, and pardon of their sinnes, and a re­mouing of the Crosse. Thus they thinke there is lesse mercie in God, then is in mā: for if a godly parent, though his childe haue played the vnthrift, and rebellious childe, yet if hee would come home with sorrow and humilitie, and acknowledge his faults, he will presently receiue him and shew him mercie, and yet we cannot perswade our selues of the like successe with God. Thus wee make Gods of our selues, and make the mercifull God more cruell then man, which is most fearefull once to thinke. Can wee forgiue the faults and wrongs committed one to an other, that haue but a drop of mercie, in cōparison of that Ocean & Sea of mer­cie and pitty in God, and shall wee not bee fully assured wee shall haue pardon and forgiuenes of sinnes, if wee come to him by repentance? Let vs not dishonour God so highly, to make God lesse mer­cifull then mortall man: for man hath made no promise to remit the wrongs and iniuries offered to him; but God hath bound himselfe by couenant, yea by [Page 30] oath to pardon the sinnes and offences committed against him. Againe, man cannot forgiue all wrongs perfectly, but hee would haue some stirrings and moti­ons in his minde against the party: but if wee had all the sinnes of Cain, Saul, and Iudas, yet if wee could come to God with faith in his mercie, and godly sor­row, and repentance for our sinnes, hee would receiue vs to mercie, and giue vs a generall pardon of all our sinnes, and seale it with the blood of the euerlasting couenant. Wherefore let vs no longer looke vpon the greatnes of our sinnes, but vpon the mercie of God, which ex­ceeds our sinnes, nor on the greatnesse of our crosses, but vpon the infinitenesse of gods compassion, and kindnesse, and let vs resort to him in hope of mercie,

2 The second vse serues for instruction vnto euery one, that whatsoeuer our crosses bee, or how many soeuer our sins bee, or how great soeuer our offences be, yet let vs haue a resolution to goe to God, and wee shall finde mercie: for wee are in this case fit subiects for his mercy to worke vpon: for mercy pleaseth him, [Page 31] & he is greatly pleased to shew mercy to such. Let vs conclude before hand, that if we resolue to bee true vpright christians, thē we may boldly call God Father; & if wee can perswade our selues wee are his children, wee may beleeue wee shall finde mercie at his hands. Wherefore let vs confesse our sins, and leaue our sins, and wee shall finde mercie. For if a Iudge of an Assize should say to a felon or some malefactor in the Gaole, If you will con­fesse your theft or trespasse, and resolue to become an honest man, I will pardon your fault, and not onely so, but you shall bee made a Iustice of peace, or some great man; hee would vpon this promise bee moued quickly to confesse his felony, and forgoe his theft; now the Iudge of all the world offers vs this large promise of mercie, that if a sinner will truely, and from his heart confesse his sinnes and re­solue to leaue them, hee shall haue par­don, and not onely so, but hee shall bee made a King, and priest vnto God the Father, and this preferment wee shall come vnto, if wee come vnto God in a right manner.

Oh but how might I doe to come to bee perswaded of mercy, if I come to God?

1 First pray vnto God that hee would giue vs his holy spirit, which feales vnto our hearts this perswasion of mercy, as the Apostle saith,Gal. 4.6. Because wee are sonnes, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Sonne into our hearts, which cryeth, Abba Father. The spirit of Christ doth worke this as­surance, that God is our Father, and vp­pon this assurance, wee shall bee forced to cry Abba Father, and going to our best Father, wee may bee sure to finde mercie.

2 Secondly, wee must offer vp our soules and bodies, & desire in all things to serue him, & to keepe all his commandements, then we shall receiue mercy from God, as that holy man Nehemiah saith, O Lord I beseech thee, let thine eare hearken to the praiers of thy seruant, and to the prayers of thy seruants, that desire to feare thy name. So that if wee can but truely desire to repent, and desire to keepe all Gods commaundements, and desire to bewaile all our sinnes, and to striue against all cor­ruptions, [Page 33] and it is certaine wee shall ob­taine mercy at the hand of God. For if a christian parent commaund his childe to doe a thing, and if hee doe it willingly and cherefully, and though hee doe it not so perfectly as the parent himselfe, yet hee will take it in good parte, because his child endeuoured to performe it, as well as hee could: how much more will God our heauenly Father accept of the poore desires and endeauours of his children, when hee sees in them a willing desire to doe well? But if our de­sires bee good and true, then there is a vsing of all good meanes, and ordinan­ces to accomplish the thing desired, or else it is but a slouthfull desire, and it may not bee called truely a desire; else, but a lust: but if wee desire to repent, and to beleeue, and also vse all good meanes to repent and beleeue, and be humbled because we cannot repent and beleeue, as wee should, the Lord will haue mercy vpon such holy desires, and accept the will for the deede. And so much for the second doctrine.

And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran &c. In all these words is set downe the affection and loue of the father, vpon the resolution of his sonne; the sonne was but comming, but the father is run­ning: hee comes slowly for mercie, but the father is ready and forward to shew mercy: which shews the wonderfull rea­dinesse of God to shew mercy to a peni­tent sinner, that comes to God for mer­cy. From hence wee learne this doc­trine.

Doct. 3 That God is very ready to shew mercy vnto euery penitent sinner, that comes to him with a broken and humble heart.

That a penitent sinner can noe soo­ner looke for mercy from God, but hee is ready to shew mercy to them.

That God is more ready to shew mer­cy, then penitent sinners can bee to seeke for mercy. This wee see in a naturall father, to his penitent childe here; now a naturall parent, hath made no such pro­mise to shew mercy to his childe, but our heauenly Father hath made a pro­mise to euery penitent sinner to shew him [Page 35] mercy; againe, a naturall parent cannot shew mercy, and kindnesse to his childe, without great costs and labour, but our heauenly Father, hee can shew mer­cy without any trouble or charges, for it is his name to bee mercifull.

Now if this bee in a naturall parent, that he will shew mercy, though hee haue not promised, yea though it bee to his great cost, and paines; how much more will our heauenly Father shew mercy to his children, sith hee hath promised, and is both able and willing, with ease to doe it. If this bee in man, which hath but a droppe of mercy, in comparison of God, what may a penitent soule expect at the hands of God, who is infinite in mercy, and pitty, to his? This doctrine may ve­ry fitly bee proued, by the example of Gods dealing with Dauid: that when he had committed two greeuous sinnes of adultery, and murder, and had almost slept a twelue moneth in them, in so much that the Lord is faine to send a Herald of armes to him, to awaken him out of his spirituall sleepe, and to helpe him out of his sinnes, and to bring him to repen­tance, [Page 36] but the Prophet could no sooner remember his sinnes to him, but hee doth imediatly confesse his sinne, and hee no sooner acknowledge and confesse his sinnes,2. Sa. 12.13. but the Prophet Nathan by the mouth of the Lord doth pronounce his pardon: yea before hee did aske it, the Prophet tels him, the Lord hath put away thy sinne, & thou shalt not die. This also we may see proued, in that Psalme which is intituled Dauids learning, wherin the Pro­phet confesseth, when I held my tongue, my bones consumed, and when I roared all the day. That is, as long as I did dissem­ble, and seemed to cloake, and hide my faults, I was plagued and tormented, so that roared like an vnreasonable beast through paine: then I acknowledged my sinne vnto thee, neither hid I mine ini­quities, for I thought, I will confesse against my selfe, Psal. 32.45 my wickednesse vnto the Lord, and thou forgaue the punish­ment of my sinne. Thus wee see, hee could no sooner confesse, but hee had pardon, both from the guilt, and punish­ment of his sinne, and hee could no soo­ner seeke for mercy, but hee obtained [Page 37] mercy at Gods hands.

Also the Prophet Isay shewes the mcreie of God vnto true repentant sinners where hee saith,Isay 64.5. Thou diddest meete him that reioyced in thee, and did iustly, they remembred thee in thy waies: behold thou art angry, for wee haue sinned, yet in them is continuance, and wee shall be saued: where the Prophet speakes of the Lord, after the manner of men, that he is ready to meete them halfe way (as it were) that set themselues in truth, and vprightnesse, to confesse their sinnes, and meete him by repentance, hee will meete them swiftly, though they come but soft­ly, and though they come heauily, yet they shall depart ioyfully. And the same Prophet saith in the next chapter of the Lord, before they call, I will answere, Isay. 65.24 and whiles they speake, I will heare. This wee may see in the prodigall childe, that be­fore hee asked for foode, cloathes, and other things, which hee stood in neede of, his father bestowes it vpon him, and before hee could make an end of con­fession of his sinnes, hee falles vpon his neck, and embraceth, and receiueth him [Page 38] to fauour. Now there are reasons to proue that this doctrine is so.

Reason 1 Because it is both the name and nature of God, to bee mercifull and shew pitty, as the Prophet Micah affirmeth, hee re­tayneth not his wrath for euer, because mer­cy pleaseth him. When a man is come truely to confesse his sinnes with sorrow, then God must needes shew mercy to him, for mercy pleaseth him; A small in­treaty will perswade a man to doe that which hee delighteth in, and takes pleasure in the doing of it: euen so God is easily drawn to shew mercy to the penitent sinner, because hee delights in it, and is well pleased to shew mercy. Oh but how shall I know that I shall receiue mercy from him? why should wee call it in question, if wee bee penitent, for it stands vpon his trueth and couenant, to pardon the sinnes of the elect, and for the certainety thereof hee hath bound himselfe by an oath to fulfill it.

2 Secondly, because ouer and besides our owne prayers, (to obtaine his fauour and mercy) we haue the prayers of Christ our mediatour to helpe vs: and although [Page 39] the elder brother of this prodigall childe, did grudge and thinke much that his fa­ther should shew subh kindnes to his yonger brother, which had bin such an vnthrift; yet wee haue our elder brother Iesus Christ, to make continuall inter­cessiō vnto his Father for vs, & in our be­halfe. Now if a naturall father can shew such mercie to his childe, when the el­der brother speakes against him; how much more shall our heauenly Father shew mercy to vs, when as our elder bro­ther is willing and speakes for vs, and hee is as ready to pray for mercy for vs, as our Father can bee to giue mercy to vs.

Sith it is so, that God is more ready to offer mercy to penitent sinners, then they can bee to aske for mercy; The vses serue;

First for confutation of the Papists, Ʋse 1 that in their distresses and troubles, will not goe to this mercifull God, but vnto Saints and Angels for helpe; alack they take a wrong course to forsake this piti­full God, whose name is to shew mercy, and whose nature is to delight in mercy, [Page 40] and runne to a Saint; this is palpa­ble blindnesse, to forsake the creatour, and receiue the creature: it is as if one should forsake to fetch water from the Sea, where is enough, and runne to a channell that is dry; but if God will not shew mercy, who will? and if hee can­not, who can? shall wee finde more mercy from a Saint or Angell, then from the mercifull God, of whom the father­lesse findes mercie? This argues they know not Gods name, for then as the Prophet saith; They that know thy name, will trust in thee, for thou neuer failest them that seeke thee They are not perswaded of this name of God, for then they would not seeke to Saints or Angels, but vnto God, who neuer failes any that seeke to him in truth.

2 Secondly, this serues to shew a great deale of corruption in our sinfull hearts, and nature; for although wee goe not in our distresses and miseries, to Saints or Angels, yet wee seeke vnto such as ei­ther will not, or else cannot helpe vs, and so forsake him, where wee might alwaies speede and neuer faile, if wee seeke him [Page 41] with an honest heart, & indeede; for he would meete vs halfeway, if hee did but perceiue in vs but a true purpose to come to him. One godly teare of true repen­tance, with a faithtfull prayer vnto God, is able to doe vs more good, and to helpe vs out of our distresses, then all out­ward meanes of friends, money, goods, and such like things, in all this world can doe. But here is our distrust in God, that wee haue more hope that wee shall speed better of our neighbours, and friends in time of trouble, then of God: but this comes to passe, because wee doe not assure our hearts that hee loues vs in Christ Iesus,Ioh. 17.26. according vnto Christs prayer, that hee made for all the elect: for if wee did, wee would more depend vp­pon God, and lesse rely vpon men, more seeke to him for helpe, and lesse trust vp­on outward things.

Thirdly it serues for instruction, that 3 wee should euery one seeke vnto God, chiefely, in all our distresses and troubles, for to bee deliuered. If one will goe to one that is able, let vs goe to God, and if wee would seeke to one that is willing, [Page 42] let vs seeke vnto God, for there is neither will, nor power wanting in him, if wee come to him in truth. And if wee would haue mercy from God, let vs draw neere to him with penitent and broken hearts, washing our soules with godly sorrow for sinnes, and then the blood of Christ shall be as water to purge vs from all our sinnes and iniquities whatsoeuer.

Oh but my sinnes are so many, I dare not goe to him! but let not that hinder thee from goeing to him, for the more wee see our sinnes, and the greater bur­den wee feele them, the more bold wee may bee encouraged to goe to him for mercy: for onely such are the guests which Christ inuites, and cals, and vnto whom in truth hee was sent: and there­fore hee saith; Come vnto mee all that are heauy-laden, and I will ease you. Mathew 11.28.

4 Fourthly, sith God is ready to shew mercy to euery penitent sinner, when hee comes to him, and neuer casts his faults in his teeth. Let this serue for imitation, vnto euery one of Gods children, that would bee said to bee like God, let them [Page 43] bee easily intreated to bee reconciled, when matters of differences fall out, and let vs so pardon, and forget the wrongs and iniuries offered vs, that wee neuer vpbraide the parties in the teeth for the same. Oh let vs neuer burst out with these speeches, I wil forgiue him, but I wil neuer forget him, or I will neuer loue him againe, & such like speeches, but this is to be far vnlike God: oh but the offence that is offered mee, is such a great wrong, as no man could put it vp; but bee it that it is so grear, haue not you offered God greater wrongs? and yet hee hath pardoned you, and will not you forgiue him this one wrong that is done to you? in truth this argues that you haue not ta­sted of the loue of God in Christ, that can­not forgiue your brother so small a fault. But if you will be like God, (which all his children must resemble in truth, if they meane to come to heauen,) you must labour to remit great wrongs, and small wrongs, and all and euery one, and neuer vpbraide them in their teeth of it, but bury it in obliuion, and neuer re­member it: and so wee shall bee like to [Page 44] our heauenly Father. And let vs bee so farre from reuenging wrongs offered vs, that wee pray for them that hate vs, and blesse them that curse vs, ouercoming euill with goodnesse, as wee are com­maunded. And so much for this first doc­trine.

And the sonne said vnto him, Father, I haue sinned against Heauen. Here is the confession of this prodigall childe, to his worthy father: as if hee should haue said, truth it is, I haue sinned against the God of Heauen, in sinning against you my naturall parent, and whereas before I thought my selfe to good to bee your childe, or to remaine within your house, yet now I change my opinion, and thinke not my selfe worthy to bee sonne to so good a father, and that the worst place in your familie is to good for mee, so vn­toward a sonne. And so much is to bee vnderstood in the 21 verse. But in that hee confessed hee sinned against God, by disobeying of his father, wee learne this doctrine.

Doct. 4 That those which wrong men, doe [Page 45] sinne against God: In iniuring men on earth, wee sinne against the Lord in hea­uen. This is proued by the wise man, where hee saith; Hee that mocketh the poore reprocheth him that made him: Pro. 17.15. hee that derides the creature, doth mocke the creatour: and he that contemnes the worke, doth by consequence speake against the workeman.

Also the Apostle proues the same when he saith;Cor. 1.8.12 Now when yee sin against the bre­theren, & wound their weeke consciences? ye sinne against Christ, Where the holy Apo­stle sheweth, that those offences that are committed against the weake brethe­ren, doe redound to bee committed a­gainst Christ: when they offend the members, they sinne against the head.

And therefore Christ saith;Math. 18.6 Whosoeuer shall offend one of those littleones that be­leue in mee, it were better for him that a milstone were hanged about his necke, and that hee were drowned in the depth of the Sea. Thus wee see that if any offend the least christian, he doth offend Christ, and shall bee seuerely punished: and this Christ will doe, when hee will passe sen­tence [Page 46] of condemnation against the repro­bates, I was a hungred, and yee gaue mee no meate, I was thirsty, and yee gaue mee no drinke, I was a stranger, and yee tooke me not in to you, and so forth. Where for the omitting of good duties, to bee perfor­med to the members of Christ, Christ takes the omission of dutie, as done to himselfe, and so a sin done against God.

The reasons to proue this doctrine are.

Reason 1 First, because whensoeuer wee wrong men, we breake the commaundement of God, and so wee must needes sinne a­gainst God. Now hee commaundes a law of equity; that, that I would that men should vnto mee, doe I the same vn­to them, and hee bids vs doe good vnto all, &c. Now when wee breake any of the diuine lawes of God, wee trespasse against God, and this made Dauid to cry out;Psal. 51. I haue sinned against thee, against thee onely. But one might haue said, Da­uid, you haue wronged Ʋriah, in ta­king his wife away? It is true, but I haue broken Gods law, and so sinned a­gainst God, by killing Vriah.

Secondly in wronging men, wee sinne 2 against God, because euery man and wo­man carries the image of God, and so wronging the person of man, hee wrongs the image of God. And this Iob did consider well of, which did ter­rifie him from wronging his seruants, as appeares by his words, what then shall I doe when God standeth vp, and when hee shall visit mee, what shall I answere? hee that hath made mee in the wombe, hath hee not made him? hath not hee alone fash­ioned vs in the wombe?

Sith that God is offended, when man Ʋse 1 is wronged, it serues, first for instruction, that wee should take heede how wee doe wrong any man, or woman; and not to say, I care not for him, or her, for hee is but a base person, a man of no ac­compt, &c. Nay but take heede how you iniure and wrong him, bee hee ne­uer so base in your eies: hee may bee an heire of Heauen, and a true child of God, and at least hee carries the image of God, in some measure vppon him: and so you cannot safely wrong him, but you sinne against the God of Heauen: and [Page 48] besides you are forbidden to wrong any, bee they neuer so base and vile. But such persons as wrong these base ones, (as they terme them) dare not wrong a greater person: because, if they should, they might haue the law inflicted vppon them, and so thereby bee brought into danger, as to bee cast into prison, &c. But to hurt and trouble a poore christian, that they feare not to doe; but such must know, there is as great danger, to wrong the poorest christian, as in iniuring the greatest personage in the world: for the wrong done to the member, re­dounds to the head, and the hurt offered to the porest christian, is a sinne against Christ him selfe: and as the Prophet Za­charie saith;Zach. 2.8. Hee that toucheth you, tou­cheth the apple of his eye.

There is none would endure one to stirre or row a thorne, or any such like thing, in ones eie but one should feele it; for there is no place so tender about one as the apple of the eye; how much more sensible is God of the iniuries, and wrongs offered vnto his children, and cannot endure them, that thus touch [Page 49] him, in so tender a place, as to wrong his beloued ones, such shall bee sure to smart for it. And if the Lord would not haue Balaam to wrong his Asse, much lesse will hee suffer wicked men to wrong his children: but many care not what iniury they doe to others, so they can act it cunningly, and worke it subtilely, that they may not bee seene, or so that the lawes of the Realme will not take hold of them. As the wife many times, towards the husband, shee cares not what hard speeches shee giues him, because there is no humane lawes against her for it: but such wiues must know, that see­ing God is offended when their husbands are thus wronged by them, they shall not goe vnpunished, vnles they repent; for Gods law and precept is violated, that commaunds wines to bee obedient to their husbands in the Lord. So many times the husband, hee wrongs his wife in word, countenance, and somtime in their disordered passions in blowes, when in truth there is no cause offered him; but this argues there is but a little feare of God in him, that thus will wrong his [Page 50] owne flesh: such men little consider when they reuile their wiues, they reuile God himselfe, and when they thus wrong them they sinne against him, for they breake his commaundement, that chargeth euery husband to loue their wiues, as Christ loued his church, and to to dwel with them as men of knowledge, &c. But vnles such husbands come to true repentance for the iniurie thus offered to their wiues, God will surely plague and punish them, as a sinne done against his maiesty.

So many masters which deale cruelly towards their seruants, because they bee poore and meane, both in parentage and outward friends, they care not what wrong they doe vnto them, and how bad they vse them; but such masters must know that in wronging their poore ser­uants, they sinne against God, and how­soeuer their seruants bee base in their eies, yet they may be members of Christ, and heires of heauen, or at least, hee that made you in the womb, made him in the wombe also, and in wronging them, you wrong the image of God in them; but [Page 51] if they bee Gods seruants, as well as thine, and if they bee the children of the Almighty, then they touch the Apple of his eie: and better it were a milstone were hanged about your necke, and that you were cast into the depth of the Sea, then that you should offend one of these lit­tle ones. And if Christ will pronounce sentence of condemnation against such (at his second comming) which omit workes of mercie to his members, how much sorer punishment shall such haue, which wrong and hurt the members of Christ.

Secondly, sith God is offended, when 2 man is iniured, it serues to teach vs, if wee haue wronged any, either in word, or deede, whether it bee husband to his wife, or the wife towards the husband, the childe to the parent, seruant towards the master, or the superiour to the inferi­our; wee must not onely content our selues with confessing our fault, to the party thus wronged, but wee must also acknowledge it to God, whose laws wee haue violated and broken, as Dauid did, when hee had committed adultery with [Page 52] Bathsheba, and killed Ʋriah, against thee, thee only haue I sinned, and this Dauid would haue done, put case that Vriah should haue liued, hee would haue first gone to God, and haue confessed his fault, before hee would haue gone to Vriah, (though both are required.) Here­in many are very faulty, for they thinke, if they haue fallen out with their neigh­bours, and bee made friends againe, they haue done enough, and they suppose then they may lawfully come to the Sacra­ment, because they bee at peace with men, and haue gotten reconciliation with those which they haue offended: it is true, if you had only offended man, then it were sufficient if you had done no more, but sith there is two persons of­fended, the person of God, and the per­son of man; therefore there must bee reconciliation got of both, and the fault must bee acknowledged to God, as wel as to man, before we can come prepa­redly to the Sacrament. At for example, If a man rob another by the way side, and from him take his purse, and by this fact, hee breakes not only the lawes of the [Page 53] King, but also the lawes of God; it were not sufficient for the offender to ac­knowledge the fault to the party robbed, and pray him forgiue him, but hee must also get his pardon from the King, whose law hee hath broken, or else it may bee hee may die for his trespasse, notwith­standing the party robbed hath forgiuen him.

In like manner, when wee haue wron­ged man, wee must not only seeke to him for to haue the wrong remitted, but also to God, whose law wee haue bro­ken, that hee would forgiue it, and so wee must seeke for a pardon from God, as well as from men, or else we are lyable to haue his iudgments executed vpon vs.

The want of this duty, is the cause why those agreements that are so made vp, betwixt man and man, are so soone bro­ken, that within two or three daies (if occasion bee offered) their hatred is as great againe as euer it was, and that is because they bee at so little paines, and so small charges, to sue out these pardons, whereas if they bought them at a high­er [Page 54] rate, and went to Heauen for them, by sound repentance, confession, and godly sorrow, they would not bee so hasty to fall out with their neighbours againe.

And the neglect of this duty is the cause, that many times wee haue such checkes, and galles in our consciences, be­cause wee make vp these wrongs offered, so sleightly, wee goe to men whom wee haue wronged, but neuer to God, whom wee haue offended. Wherefore to auoide all inconueniences, which may follow vpon this wrong doing, let vs bee exhorted for the time to come, not only to goe to men, but a so to seek to God, for an acquittance: for hauing a pardon from the King, wee neede not feare the arrest of a petty constable, or any inferi­our officer belonging to him. And so much for the handling of this point.

And against thee:] that is, against thee my naturall parent, I confes I haue sinned. From hence wee learne.

Doct. 5 That it is not enough to confesse our sinnes vnto God, but wee must also con­fesse them to men, so far as wee haue of­fended [Page 55] them. That knowen wrongs done against men, must bee acknowledged and confessed to men.

This duty Christ doth exhort vnto,Math. 5.23 24. If thou bringest thy gift vnto the Altar, and there remembrest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leaue there thy offering, before the Altar, and goe thy way, first bee reconciled to thy brother, and then come, & offer thy gift.

Thus wee see, if any hath ought against vs, that wee haue done them any man­ner of wrong wee must first, and princi­pally, goe and seeke reconciliation, for it is fit, if wee haue set a howse on fire, we should seeke to quench it, and put case wee haue neglected it vntill wee come to the Sacrament, yet wee should then leaue our offering, and defer it, and returne to the party offended, and acknowledge the wrong, crauing pardon for it, for God is willing, and content that his owne ser­uice should wait and stay, till that duty bee performed, and then come, and offer thy gift.

Also in an other place,Luk 17.3.4 our sauiour ex­horts them to this duty, saying; If thy [Page 56] brother trespas against thee, rebuke him and if hee repent, forgiue him, and though hee sinne seauen times in a day, and seauen times in a day returne againe vnto thee, saying, it repenteth mee; thou shalt forgiue him.

There Christ would haue vs to be con­tent to forgiue wrongs, if the parties of­fending will returne, and confesse their faults, for if they performe their duty, to seek reconciliation, we must not fail of our mercy to giue them remission so far as lies in our power.

Reasons to proue this doctrine to bee true, are these. First, it is drawne frō equity, Reason 1 that he that vnlawfully hath made a woūd, should vse all lawfull meanes to heale the wound, and he that through passion sets the house on fire, should also with discre­tion labour to quench the fire. And hee that through folly hath wronged his bro­ther, must also by wisedome seeke to right him againe. And this the law that is imprinted in nature will teach, that what wee would that men should doe vnto vs, that wee should doe vnto them. If this were practised, wee should not so much fall out into distempers, passions, [Page 57] froward speeches, and vniust actions, a­gainst one another.

Secondly, if when wee haue wronged 2 men, we would acknowledge the wrong, to the party offended, it would bee the best way to pacifie their hearts, and to make them thinke well of vs, and to af­fect vs, notwithstanding the wrong done vnto them; and if wee would greiue our selues, because we haue greeued them, and offended them, it would bee a speciall meanes to make the party wron­ged, to send vp many a hearty praier vnto God, for the offendour, that hee would vouchsafe to forgiue him, as well as him selfe. And this benefit will confession of wrongs doe to the party; it will make our foe, to become our faithfull and lo­uing friend.

Thirdly, if wee did vse to confesse the 3 wrong, as soone as wee haue done a wrong, it would make vs beware and take heede of committing of wrongs a­gaine. For if the wife hauing wronged her husband, would seriously consider; what? I haue wronged my husband, and if I purpose to haue forgiuenes, I must [Page 58] not only confesse the iniury to God, but also to my husband. This would make the wife ashamed, and so by that meanes breake the necke of sinne, and it worke humility in ones soule, so that one should haue little lust to fall out, and to wrong one againe.

Now fith it is not enough to confesse and acknowledge the wrongs done to men, vnto God, but wee must confesse it to the parties offended.

It serues first for reproofe of such per­sons, that come to this point, that if they haue wronged any one, they will con­fesse it to God, and so thinke they haue done enough, but they must as well per­forme it to man, as well as to God; for the plaister ought to goe as far as the sore. Oh but what neede there bee any confession to men, when wee haue con­fessed it to God, for none can forgiue sinnes but God, but you must not only repent to God in Heauen, but also aske forgiuenesse of men on earth, or else the Lord will not forgiue it: for hipocrites may doe the one, as Iudas, Saul, &c. But those which are truly vpright, will per­forme [Page 59] them both; but such as neglect this duty to man, as well as performe it to God, argues they are in loue with their sinne, and loth to haue their nature hea­led, and their sinnes pardoned.

Secondly, it serues for instruction, that therefore wee should take heede, that we doe not wrong any one, for this will fol­low confession and acknowledgment of the fault, not only to God, but the par­ty offended, for vntill wee confesse the wrong to the party, and get reconciliati­on with him, wee must not looke God in the face, nor cannot haue entertaine­ment to any of Gods ordinances, as the word, Sacrament, prayer; for the Sacra­ment is a loue feast for the sheepe of Christ, and not for wrauling doggs.

Now if the husband haue giuen any angry and churlish speeches to his wife, whereby shee hath taken them to heart, and troubled her minde, let him confesse the fault to her before hee approch nere vnto God in any of his serui­ces.

So if the wife haue wronged the hus­band, the childe the parent, the seruant [Page 60] the master, or any one, one another, let them humble themselues who soeuer is guilty, and acknowledge the fault to the party offended, and so get reconciliati­on, or else wee cannot lift vp pure hands, without wrath, as the Apostle speakes.

Ob.Oh but, hee whom I haue wronged is not in the country, how should I get re­conciliation with him? shall I not come to the Sacrament, and other seruices, till I haue confessed my fault to him, that I know not where hee is?

Sol.Yes thou maist come to the word, Sa­crament, prayer, and the rest, if thou canst finde in thy selfe a willing heart to aske forgiuenes, if hee were in the Country, as also if thou doest resolue within thine owne soule, that if euer the party offen­ded returnes againe into the Countrey, thou wilt performe this duty. Yf this bee in thee, thou mayest frequent Gods ordinances.

Ob.But what if the party offended will bee so stubborne, that he refuse to be reconci­led, and will not pardon mee, though I acknowledge the fault, and offer satis­faction for the hurt & wrong committed?

But doe thou the worke of the Lord,Sol. and let it not bee thy default, and then thou shalt finde mercy of God, for hee will not deale with vs according to the successe with the party, but according to the vprightnes of our heart, and in per­forming our duties, let vs doe the worke, and then the Lord will reward vs. And so much for this point.

I am not worthy to bee called thy sonne, &c. Here is the last duty of this repen­tant sinner: his humility, hee is well per­swaded of his father, but ill perswaded of himselfe. This doctrine wee learne from hence.

That true repentance makes one see his own vnworthines: the better repentance, Doct. 6 the more humility: they will esteeme of God to bee great, but themselues to bee base, as wee see this prodigall childe: be­fore, there was no place in the family good enough, and now there is no place in the house that is bad enough, hee is not worthy in his owne eies to bee sonne to such a godly father. This wee may see prooued out of the examples of [Page 62] all holy men, when they came to repen­tance, as Iacob; I am lesse then the lest of thy mercies.

Nehemiah, Ezra, Daniel, they were a­shamed, and confounded in their faces, and that shame and confusion of face be­longs to them.

Iob 39.37.And this wee may see in holy Iob, when the Lord had shewed him his power and wisedome, hee answeres the Lord, Behold I am vile, what shall I answere thee, I will lay my hand vpon my mouth, &c.

And in an other place, Iob speakes when hee came to repentance for all his passionate and distempered words in his afflictions;Iob 42.6. I abhor my selfe, and repent in dust and ashes. And beholding Gods purity, hee saw more euidently his owne impurity, and cause enough to humble and abhorre himselfe for his filthines, and no longer to stand out with God in his owne innocency.

And Paul that worthy Apostle, and seruant of God, when hee came to repen­tance, hee confessed, that hee was not worthy to bee called an Apostle, because he persecuted the Church of God.

In all which examples, we see these ho­ly men when they came to repentance, they were base and vile in their owne eies, and saw their owne vnworthines.

The reason to proue this doctrine is.

Because repentance opens our eies to see more perfectly Gods glorious purity, Reason 1 and ones owne vilenes and impiety, which will so reflect vpon vs, that it will make one low and base in ones own eies, as may bee seene in the Prophet,Isai 6.5. when hee cryed out, Woe is mee I am vndone be­cause I am a man of polluted lippes, and I dwell in the midst of people of polluted lippes. Where God appeares vnto the Prophet, and his maiesty being so perfect, that it reflects vpon him, whereby hee per­ceiues the more his owne vilenesse and pollution, yea euen in his best parte, as his lippes, which had deliuered the mes­sage of God very faithfully. So in truth when wee come to see the multitude of our sinnes, and the hainousenes thereof, wee shall bee made quickly low enough, and bee forced to cry out with the pro­digall childe, I am not worthy to bee cal­led thy sonne.

Sith it is so, that true repentance makes vs see our owne vnworthines;

Ʋse 1 It serues first for reproofe of such per­sons, which stand vpon theire owne wor­thines and goodnes, they will say, they hope they are in as good a case as the best of them all, that mourne and con­fesse, and keepe such a doe about repen­tance, & they stand vpon it, that they de­serue to be reckoned both with God and man, as well as the best of them that go to sermons, and they liue as wel as the best of them all, and such speeches they are full of. But these speeches argue that they haue not repented, but are as yet vnder the power of sinne, and in the ready way to damnation: for all these are but phari­saicall conceipts, for hee cryed out hee was not like other men, extortioners, vniust, adulterers, or euen as this publi­can, &c. but I doe this, and this: and thus boasting himselfe of his owne goodnes, he shewed himselfe a most cur­sed person; but the poore publican stood not vpon his owne worthines, but runnes vnto God for mercy, and hee is so asha­med that he could not look vp his eies to [Page 65] Heauen, but smote his breast, saying; O Lord bee mercifull vnto mee a sinner. I tell you this man departed to his house iusti­fied rather then the other. Thus wee see the estate of these boasters that stand vp­on theire owne goodnesse and worthi­nesse, whereas a poore sinner that feeles his sinne, doth wonder at the goodnesse of God, that should saue such a vile wretch as himselfe, so far is hee from boa­sting in himselfe, that he glorieth in God alone.

Secondly, it serues for consolation 2 vnto such which in truth can finde their sins out, and thereby can perceiue their owne vnworthines; they consider what they were before their calling, and what they are since: they see what originall sin hath brought vpon them; blindnes, dark­nes, deadnes, hardnes of heart, & in briefe a little diuell incarnate, which makes the pore sinners to cry out, that they are not worthy of the least of Gods mercies, they cry out, shame and confusion belongs to them, and with the Church, it is the Lords mercy, wee are not confounded &c. These may comfort themselues, for [Page 66] it is a good argument that they haue re­pented, and that they haue put on a great part of their wedding garment: for this is a great part of a christians worthines, to see his owne vnworthines, and it is cer­taine, if wee can bee base in our owne eies, wee shall bee precious in Gods eies, and those which see how vile sinne hath made them, shall bee made excellent in the righteousnes of Christ. These guests are the welcome guests vnto the Sacra­ment of the Lords supper, for these are inuited; Come vnto mee, all that are hea­uy laden, and I will ease you. And so much in breife for the handling of this doc­trine.

Then the father said vnto his seruants, bring forth the best &c. Now the father is so glad of the returne of his wandering childe, that hee presently receiues him to fauour, and hauing his fauours, hee hath all his wants supplied. From hence wee learne this doctrine.

Doct. 7 That when wee haue the fauour of God, wee shall haue euery thing wee stand in neede of. Nothing shall be wan­ting [Page 67] when wee haue Gods fauour.

Loue is bountifull, and liberall, cheif­ly in God. This Dauid knew to bee the fountaine of all good, when hee heard them cry out, Who will shew vs any good? but hee cries,Psal. 4, 6.7. Lord lift vp the light of thy countenance vpon vs. Thou hast giuen me more ioy of heart, then they haue had, when their wheate and wine did abound. Hee had more good by Gods fauour and countenance, then the worldlings could haue in their greatest plenty of outward things.

This made the Church in captiuity bee so earnest in this petition, that she repeats it thrice, noting thereby the excellency of it; Restore vs againe O God of hoasts, Psal. 80 and cause thy face to shine vpon vs and wee shall bee saued. So that if God would looke vpō them with a gracious counte­nāce, they should quickly haue a riddance of their miseries.

And this the Lord himselfe prescribes as a notable meanes to bring prosperity to soule, body, state, &c.2. Chron 7.14. If my people vp­on whom my name is called vpon, doe hum­ble themselues, pray, and seeke my face and [Page 68] turne from their wicked waies, then will I heare in Heauen, and bee mercifull to their sinne, and will heale their land. When they performe these duties, (as among the rest) to get and obtaine my fauour, then will I shew these mercies, I will heare as a mercifull and heauenly Father to deli­uer them from their troubles, and bring them such comforts as they stand in neede of.

Ʋse 1 Sith it is so, that Gods fauour will make supply of all such things as wee neede, it serues to teach vs, if wee would bee furnished throughly with all good things for our soules and bodies, for this life and a better, then let vs labour to get peace with God, and to seeke his fa­uour before all things, for it giues true interest to all things, and it will bring all needefull things. If a man haue the fa­uour but of an earthly Prince, what outward thing can hee want? If pore, hee can make him rich, if base, yet hee will make him honorable, if in debt, hee will discharge it. If this bee in a mortall man, to him that hee doth fauour, what may wee expect from the fauour of the [Page 69] King of Kings? In his fauour there must needs bee life, and prosperity. If the fa­uor but of an heathenish King could pro­mote Mordecai to such an outward ho­nour and dignity, from so base and de­iected estate, that hee must haue a royall robe and apparrell to bee cloathed with­all, a gallant steede and horse to bee mounted vpon, and a crowne of gold vpon his head, and no base personage to bring all these presents to Mordecai, but by the hand of one of the Kings most noble Princes; what shall wee haue, wee may conclude, that God doth fa­uour, when Mordecai shall haue so much, when an earthly King doth meane to honour. It is certaine the King of Heauen will bee far more liberall and bountifull to his fauourites, then an earthly Prince can possible bee, for hee will put vpon them the royall robe of Christs righteousnes, which is the best roabe, & they shal all be Conquerours o­uer all their spirituall enemies, and bee made Kings and priests.

And they shall haue all these spirituall graces and gifts, deliuered to them by [Page 70] the King of Heauens Ambassadours, the faithfull ministers of Christ, by the word, and Sacraments. And this shall hee haue, whom the King of Heauen will fauour indeede. And so much for this do­ctrine.

Then the father said vnto his seruants. In that the father when hee would giue any gift to his son, doth it by the hand of his seruants, wee learne this doctrine.

Doct. 8 That when God doth purpose to be­stow vpon any of his children, any sauing grace, or speciall gift, hee doth it not im­mediatly from his owne hands, but by the hands of his seruants the Ministers. The Ministers of God, are the conduit pipe to conuay graces and gifts to the children of God.

I cannot haue time to prosecute this point, because the time is past already, and therefore I will leaue it, and only touch a little of an other doctrine, and so wee will make an end for this time.

And the father said, bring forth the best robe, and put it vpon him, and put a ring on [Page 71] his finger, and shooes &c. In that, comming to his father, with repentance and humi­lity, the father giues him all things hee stood in neede of, comming ragged, hee hath the best robe put vppon him, and a ring vpon his hand for ornament, and shooes &c. From hence wee learne this doctrine.

That whosoeuer comes to God with an humble heart, and true repentance, Doct. 9 shall receiue at Gods hands whatsoeuer hee stands in neede of. That repentance will get any thing at Gods hand, not on­ly for necessity, but also something for delight.

This may bee proued by the words which Christ speakes to the Church of Laodicea, she boasted of her plenty, when as shee was full of penury: sheee thought shee had all things: when shee wanted all good things, yet Christ promiseth her if shee would come to him, hee would fur­nish her with all good things, and if shee would receiue his councell, he would decke her with the richest iewels, and therefore hee saith,Reu. 3.17.18. I councell thee to buy of mee gold tryed by the fier, that thou maist [Page 72] bee made rich, and white raiment that thou maist bee cloathed, and that thy filthy na­kednes may not apeare, & anoint thine eies with eie salue that thou maist see, &c.

Now in buying and selling, there must bee somwhat giuen and receiued. Now therefore shee must sell her sinnes, by re­pentance, and godly sorrow, and she must esteeme of the fauour of God, and graces of Christ in lieu thereof: and this being done shee shall receiue in steed of her pouerty, the riches, and graces of Christ, and his spirit; and in stead of her filthi­nesse, she shall haue the white rayment, and righteousnes of Christ, to couer her, and all her wickednes, and infirmities shall bee taken from her: and whereas shee was blinde, that shall bee remoued, and her eies shall bee opened, and her vnderstanding enlightened, by the spi­rit of wisedome & knowledge.

But what neede I goe from my text to proue this, that when wee come to true repentance, wee shall haue all good things bestowed vpon vs? For here the father commaunds the seruants to fetch out the best robe: now all the robes that [Page 73] are in Gods wardrobe, are all best robes. For the thiefe vpon the crosse that died with Christ, and repented and beleeued in him, had one of the best robes, as well as Abraham, Iacob, or any of the Patri­arkes; and they are all long robes, not scanting, but couering and hiding all our filthines with the Kingly robes, and shining garment of Christ. And hee will not content himselfe to giue him a robe, but hee will also put a ring vpon his hand, for ornament; so the Lord will decke and adorne euery true repentant sinner, with the comely graces and ver­tues of his spirit.

And whereas hee comes bare-footed, and surbated with trauell, he puts shooes vpon his feet. So the Lord, when one comes to him by true repentance, he will bestow vpon him the shooes of the pre­paration of the Gospell of peace, that he may bee able to walke through all rough and hard waies, yea the shadow of death, and shall not bee hurt.

And whereas hee came home with a languishing soule, for want of foode, the father calls for the fat calfe, and the best [Page 74] cheere hee had, he bestowes vpon him.

So the Lord bestowes vpon the peni­tent sinner, the best diet, and banquet. Many times, earthly fathers haue it not ready, wherewith they may entertaine their children, but God hath it alwaies in a readines, a feast of fat things, euen a feast of fined wines, and fat things full of marrow, of wines fined, and purified, euen the body and bloud of Christ, for God the Father makes the feast, Iesus Christ is the matter of the feast, and the Holy ghost the applier of it. Now in the Sacrament the worthy receiuers, receiue all these things, & all needfull things shal bee supplied vnto them thereby: for if the eating of one fruit which was forbidden vs, brought such an vniuersall misery vp­on all the posterity of Adam, how much more may we bee perswaded that the ea­ting of the bread, and the drinking of the wine in the Sacrament, which is com­maunded, will bring a more happy estate to the worthy receiuers, thē the other lost, for this meat will not only nourish vs, but cure vs also. The elder brother (which is to be vnderstood of the Iewes) hee was [Page 75] angry, and repined at the kind dealing of his father towards his yonger brother: but now our elder brother Christ Iesus, is well pleased with euery penitent sin­ner, which comes to his Father, and makes intercession for them. And if an earthly parent will thus loue a yonger sonne, which hath bin a lewd and rio­tous companion; how much more will our heauenly Father entertaine euery pe­nitent person, that comes to the Sacra­ment of the body and blood of Christ, with resolution to cleaue vnto God, they shall bee sure to haue supply of whatsoe­uer grace they stand in neede of.

So also the father reioyceth, and they are merry that his wandring sonne is re­turned home againe; and therefore the father makes a feast.

First God the Father maketh a feast for euery penitent sinner, and hee reioyceth to see a sinner to returne to him,Ier. 32 41. for hee delights to doe such good.

Also Christ himselfe reioyceth to see such as conuert vnto him, for it is meate and drinke for him to doe his Fathers will.

And the Angels in Heauen doe both desire and reioyce at the conuersion of a sinner, Luke 15.7.

And not onely so, but all the Saints & Church of God, that heare of the con­uersion of a sinner, and addition to the Church, will magnifie God, and reioyce vpon it.

Secondly, there will bee a feast of ioy to the party conuerted, when hee sees a wretched creature to come to the feast of God, that before was eating with swine, hee now comes to feast with God, the whole Trinity: before to feede vpon swinish meate, and now to eate no worse then the body and blood of Christ, by faith in the Sacrament, and to afford vs these benefits. First thereby to bee pur­ged from our sinnes, through the blood of Iesus Christ. And secondly, to receiue strength and increase of graces, as faith, repentance, loue, and other sauing gra­ces more. And not only spirituall gifts, but also temporall for body, state, name, and euery thing that is needefull for vs, in euery point according to the coue­nant which the Lord hath made in Eze­chiel [Page 77] 36.25. &c. And if wee can come to the Sacrament with true feeling and seeing the want of grace, and also being pained with carrying such a loade of sinne, wee may bee assured to bee dis­burdened of the one, and our want sup­plied in the other, and so wee shall bee made fit guests for the Lords supper. Ʋse 1

Sith it is so, that whoso euer doth come to God with true repentance, and resolution to cleaue fast vnto him, shall haue as much as hee stands in neede of, it serues for encouragement to poore pe­nitent sinners, that haue committed ma­ny and great sinnes, that they should come to God, and make their mone vn­to him, that hee would vouchsafe to par­done all their sinnes, and giue them such graces, whereby they may be assured of his fauour; for certainely if wee come with repentance, and resolue to become new men, and to sticke close vnto him, wee may expect to receiue at his hands euery thing which wee stand in neede of.

Others must bee intreated before they wil doe any thing, but God will giue be­fore wee aske, yea hee will meete a peni­tent [Page 78] sinner halfe way, if they will but looke towards him, hee will runne tow­ards them with mercy. Oh but I neuer looke to liue in credit againe, and to haue a merry day, my miseries are so many? indeede if you purpose to keepe your sinnes, you must bee sure to keepe your sorrowes; but if you will come to true repentance, and seeke vnto God, he can and will supplie all your wants, and whatsoeuer crosses and losses you haue sustained, hee is able to make vp your broken estate, heale your name, and set you in as great prosperity againe as euer you inioied; for he makes poore, & makes rich, and prosperity comes from him, and he giues to all, and hits none in the teeth. God hath in his wardrobe all kindes of apparrell ready made, if wee seeke vnto him.

And there is no soule so thirsty after the graces of God, but if wee come in hu­mility to him, he will giue thē the sweete graces of his spirit to quench them: wherefore let vs put out all carnall doubts, and worldly cares, and set our selues to performe our duties, and wee [Page 79] vndoubtedly be perswaded to finde his mercies. For hee that bids vs forgiue our bretheren seauenty times seauen times if they seeke vnto vs; much more will God forgiue vs all our sinnes what­soeuer, bee they neuer so many, nor neuer so great, if wee seeke vnto him, by true repentance, and acknowledg­ment of them with griefe and sor­row.

If hee would seeke Paul when hee was going to Damascus, to persecute the members of Christ, and shew him mer­cy; how much more will hee shew com­passion to such, which now haue desisted from persecuting of the Sains, and com­mitting of other sinnes, and labour to seeke God by true repentance, and a full resolution to serue him in truth.

And to conclude, if God would call for Adam, when hee ranne from from him to hide himselfe, and all to giue him the pardon of his sinne which hee vnhappily had committed; how much more will hee giue all things vnto them both temporall, and spiri­tuall, which with an honest heart seeke [Page 80] vnto him, by true repentance, and god­ly sorrow for their sinnes, for if hee bee so ready to shew mercie to such which neuer seeeke for it, hee will bee more ready to giue mercy to such, as in truth performe this doctrine. The time being past, let vs here make an end for this time.

FINIS.

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