THE LAVV OVT LAVVED OR, The Charter of the Gospell shewing the priviledge and pre­rogative of the Saints by vertue of the Covenant.

Wherein these foure points of doctrine are properly observed, Plainely proved, both by Scripture, and reason: and pithily applyed. VIZ: Doctrine

  • 1 That he that is in the state of grace lyeth in no knowne sinne, no sinne hath dominion over him.
  • 2 That sinne though it doth not raigne in the Saints, yet it doth remaine and dwell in them.
  • 3 That the way to overcome sinne, is to get assurance of the Love, and grace, and favour of God, whereby it is forgiven them.
  • 4 That whosoever is under the Law, sinne hath dominion over him.

By that late faithfull and worthy Minister of Iesus Christ. IOHN PRESTON. Doctor in divinity, Chaplaine in ordinary to his Majestie, Master of Emmanuel Colledge in Cambridge, and sometimes preacher of Lincolnes Inne.

Let not sinne therefore raigne in your mortall bodies, that you should obey the lusts thereof,

Rom. 6.12.

EDINBVRGH Printed by Iohn Wreittoun. 1631.

Romans. 6.14.

For sinne shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.

THese words are brought in thus, the Apostle exhortes them not to sinne, but to give their members as instruments unto righteousnes, and to move them to this, he tels them that sin was not their Lord now as it was heeretofore, and that it shall have no more dominion over them, and therefore he bids them strive a­gainst it: and then he adds a reason of this, because they were not un­der the law, but under grace, now Christ hath changed their hearts. for while a man is under the Law, sinne hath dominion over him, it tels him what to doe, but gives him no power to doe it, but you have the grace of sanctification to change your hearts, and enable you to e­very good word and worke, so that you delight in the Law, after the inner man, albeit you see another law in your members roaring against the Law in your minde, and bringing you into captivity to the law of sin, which is your members, as it is said, in the 7. chapter, and the 23. verse.

Whence wee may learne?

That hee that is in the state of grace, lyeth in no knowne sinne,Doct. no sinne hath dominion over him.

Now sinne is said to have no Dominion over a man, three manner of wayes, viz. in regard

Q It hath no right to rule over him, it is no more our Lord, but is as a servant that hath no dominion, but is said to offer violence to us, as if the King of Spaine should rule over us, he hath no dominion over us.

Secondly, In regard its not obeyed, for there it hath dominion, as a Prince may have right to a kingdome, yet he be not obeyed, he hath no dominion.

Thirdly in regard though it strive against us, yet it never gets the victory, for though it assault us, yet if it get not the victory it hath no


[Page]But, besides these scriptures there bee other reasons to prove that the regenerat man cannot lye in any knowne sinne,

Reas.First, because hee that lyes in any knowne sinne: hath another for his Lord and God, and so is an Idolater, and so cannot bee regenerate, for hee yeeldeth to the same still, if it commands, hee obeyeth, God com­manding him, hee neglecteth it, and therefore maketh it his God.

Reas,Secondly because he lyeth in any knowne sinne, will be unconstant in the serving of God, now God rejecteth such an one, for though the temptation to that sinne, being removed hee serve God, yet that sinne setting upon him, hee forsakes Gods service, and obeyeth it, and when soever occasion is offered, he turneth to obey it, now such unconstancy God hateth, as among men a flower though it more beautyfull then a pearle, yet it is not regarded so much because it is fading, and a shippe may saile safe a great while, but yet falling upon a rocke maketh ship­wracke of faith and good conscience, and such a one cannot bee in the state of grace.

Reas,Thirdly. because hee that lyeth in any knowne sinne, will if hee had like strong temptations commit all the sinnes in the world, as bee a man inclined to covetousnes or uncleannes, he would commit any o­ther if hee were as much inclined to any other, now such an one can­not bee in the state of grace.

Fourthly because if a man have a good heart, no sin can grow there, because it is out of its proper place, and therefore cannot prosper as plants that grow in India if they bee sett heere wither, so every sinne in a good heart is out of its proper place, and wil not grow but wither every day more and more, but he that findeth sinne growing in his heart, his heart is not regenerat.

Reas,Fiftly because he must hate the word of God and godly men, for when a man is ready to commit sinne, the word is at him to disswade him, godly men disswade him, and therefore now if hee doe it and they still rebuke him, hee commeth to account the word a reproach and hee hates it and good men likewise, Thus Iohn is Herods friend a great while, till he tels him of his beloved s [...], and then off goes head, so they hate God and wish that there were none, because hee resolveth to sinne, and God reproves him, and so hee cannot bee in a good estate:

Reas,Sixtly and lastly, because all his actions will have an evill tincture from that his sin, it so weyeth all he doth, so that nothing is currant in Gods sight. As if a man were set to get honour, though he did not di­rectly fall into that sinne, yet he squareth all his actions that way, he [Page] affecteth such persons that may further that his intent, so that sinne lea­veneth every action of his, and whensoever any act of religion oppos­eth him, he then forsaketh all, as if a man have a project to get a har­vest that is not yet come, all that hee doth is for that end, he ploweth, soweth, and the like, so it is with a man that hath a sinne and resolves to follow it, he by-useth all his actions by that, therefore God abhorres him: and all that he doth.

First this is to try us,Vse. every man may know if he bee in the state of grace or no, if he lyes in the least knowne sinne that is, he is but coun­terfeit, if though he be admonished and told, that God will not have him to doe such a thing, yet he doth it: its a signe hee is not in a good estate, as if a man knew, and were perswaded, he ought not to abound in idle speeches, and yet will, it is a signe he is not in the state of grace, so when he is cōmanded he ought to pray and yet doth it not, or doth it only for shew, its a signe he is in a bad estate, for if hee knew its a sinne to be idle, and it comes into his minde that he should not, and is perswaded of it, and yet will; its a signe his estate is not good, so as for immoderat gaming, if one be told he should not, yet will vse it, all ca­riage is naught, certainely hee is bad, so for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, when a man shall spend all his time, and find all his thoughts bent that way for any one of them, cer­taine it is his heart is not gracious, for then these thoughts would not abound in him, but thoughts of growing in grace, but if his morning thoughts be for satisfying of the flesh and the lusts thereof, or his se­crets plots, he may justly feare its a reigning sinne, for when all his projects and thoughts, are upon one thing, as to bee in fine apparell, its certaine sinne reigneth in him, and so he is in the state of damnati­on, as a scholer that wholly aimes at vaine glory, and how to get ho­nour and credit, that sin reigneth in him.

But there were many which seemed religious men which had these infirmities in them in the scriptures.Obs,

True, and many therefore not truely regenerated,Ans, but seeming only so, now many youths make a faire show, under the meanes, when fal­ing into temptations fall away, but if they be not cōmanded or thinke of it, great faults may stand with true grace, but if they be admonished by their conscience or others, and told they must not doe it, then their estate is not good, for true grace cannot stand with these failings.

Now the signes whereby wee may know, whether wee live in known sinnes or not, are these,


[Page]Paul speaketh of the heathen, that they had a conscience that did accuse excuse them, but when a man doth not commit sin, being enlightned by a spirituall conscience, which is when a man hath a love to the con­trary grace, and is caried with a certaine desire to doe it (as men eate) though there were no reward, and hate the sin and will not commit it, but a man may have a restraint from a naturall conscience, yet it may have dominion over him, because it is as a barking dog, that keeps the theefe robbing.

When a man

  • First doth not purpose to commit the sin.
  • Secondly hath reluctancy in the committing of it.
  • Thirdly grieveth afterwards, and riseth with a better resolution not to doe it.

But if this proceeded from a naturall conscience it is nothing, but [...] proceed from a spirituall conscience and hatred of sinne, this is a good signe.

Nintly, when after striving we have the victory, for we shal have the victory if we strive aright, this taks way their excuse, that say its their infirmities, but if they lye not in sin, they wil have the victory over it, els thou art not a King, for a King is victorious, yet a King may have rebels, yea he may be wounded yet he keeps his power. So the saints may have many infirmities, yea they may have sound failes, yet in the end they have the victory. God shall tread Satan under their feete wherefore the Godly mans heart though he faileth sometimes is like a troubled fountaine, which though it be muddy, yet because their is a spring of grace in his heart, it worketh it selfe pure againe, and works out all the mud, therefore content not your selves with dislike of sinne but leave not till you have got the victory.

Tenthly, Observe whether thou delightest in those, commit the same sins, if you doe you ly in sin whatsoever you pretend, they doe not on­ly these things,Rom 1 last, but have pleasure in those doe them which is a signe of a desperate heart, for a man may be drawne to sinne by passion, yet his heart may be upright, but when he alloweth, and loveth it another, then there is no passion to lead him, but its a signe his heart is bent to it, for its a signe of grace, when you love those excell in grace, its a signe your hearts are good, so on the contrary its a signe of a corrupt and rotten heart, when wee rejoice in iniquity, as for example, suppose a man have a lust of uncleannes, yet disliketh it on another, and liketh these that excell in the contrary vertue, and grace, its a signe he is in a good estate, and this is true, because in another a man hath no passion [Page] to leade him away.

Eleventhly, when a man shall commit a sinne, cleane to the contra­ry after perswasion, and long deliberation, that is taken from Ieroboam example Saul & Ahab, these cōmitted their sinnes but once or twise as Saul had a cōmandement from Samuel not to doe it, he had many dayes deliberation upon it, yet he did which lost him his soule. David committed greater sins, yet God counted them nothing, because he did not cast God away but Saul had cast off, so Ieroboam set up the calfe on deliberation and contrary to the perswasion of the prophet, therefore God cast him off. This was Balams sin who deliberated what he shuld doe, yet having a secret desire of reward, did curse Israel which made God cast him off, this was the sin of Francis Spira who was smitten for committing of a sin of deliberation.

Thirteenely and lastly, when a man shall make no conscience of smal particular sins, wherein his Iudgement is convicted that they are sins, its a signe sin hath dominion over him, this is plaine by scripture, he that is not faithfull in the greatest, he may doe it, yet not be faithfull. Againe by reason, if a small sin be a sin against God, then why make you conscience of the least, for God is offended with these as well as with the greatest, so if ye make conscience of the greatest of the dutyes of Gods worship, why doe you not also of the least duties?Luke 1 [...], for God is pleased with these, as well as with the other, some say they will be re­ligious, but they need not be so prease as some scrupulous men are, but let them examine themselves, if the least sins be sinnes, they must also make conscience of them, so if we must keep an houre of the Sabboth, there is the same reason of the rest of the howres, so for idle speeches, and fashioning of themselves to the world, so if wee seeke for prefer­ment or riches, it is contrary to the commandement of God, seeke not to be rich, for they drowne themselves in perdition and destruction, so wee must not keep company with evill and unsanctified men, examine how we practise this in all duties commanded, let us try our selves by abstaining from occasions, whether we refraine our selves from the temptations of objects, for our speech must be gracious, not by fits, but alwayes, so we must be diligent in our callings,1 Pet, 4. if out of con­science we doe this we are faithfull, otherwise we are not, for the same God which commanded not us to kil, commanded us not to commit a­dultery, if then thou committest adultery thou offendest God, so Mo­ses would not leave an hoofe behind him in Egypt, because God com­manded him so to doe, know you not that no unrighteous man shall inherit the Kingdome of God, so if we abstaine from foule sinnes,1 Cor, 9, [...] yet if [...] [Page] not presently judge them to bee hypocrites: Bee not many masters, sayeth S. Iames. that is censure him not, for hee standeth or falleth to his owne conscience.

Rom, 14, 4.3. This should teach us to bee watchfull, and not to thinke our la­bour is at an end when we are in the state of grace, for sinne still dwel­leth in us, and though wee have the victorie over sinne one day, it will fight against us the next daye, as in a garden the weedes will grow, because the rootes are not quite plucked up, and taken away, so sinne is in us, and therefore we must thinke it will fight against us and vexe us, and therefore I say, let us renue our strength.

Now for this we must doe these two things.

  • First weaken sinne.
  • Secondly pray to God to make us watchfull.

And so I have also done with the second doctrine, againe from the latter part of these words, or reason of the promise made unto them in in the former part of this verse, that sin shall not have dominion over them, because they are not under the Law, but under grace, I gather this conclusion, viz.

That the way to overcome sinne, is to get assurance of the love and grace of God,Doct, 3 and that it is forgiven them, the reason why the Apostle promises them sin shall not have dominion over them, is because they are not under the law but under grace, that is, they had assurance of Gods love, and that it is forgiven them, this is proved from that faith purifieth the heart, and you repent and believe the gospell.

Gal 3, 2Now the reasons heereof are these foure especially,

Q. Because it is the meanes to get the spirit, without which no sin is forgiven, which commeth by faith, for it is not receaved by the law, for so saith the apostle, receaved you the spirit by the works of the law or by the deeds of faith.Ans.

Secondly, the way to make us believe the promises, to make us be­lieve that we are transformed into a heavenly nature,Reas. for when we be­lieve the promises are true, that workes love in us, and love transfor­meth us into the divine nature, without which no sinne is overcome.

Reas,Thirdly because heereby we are able to resist the tentations which are either, for the injoying of good, or sleing of evill, so that these pro­mises propound more good, then sin can harme, sinne threatned the love of outward things, but the promises propound eternall life, which is better then all things else in the world.

[Page]Fourthly, because we doe delight in God,Vse. 1, for when we doe believe in God that our sinnes are forgiven us in Christ, then wee looke at God, as on a mercyfull Father, and then wee cease to delight in the world, & we begin to delight our selves in the Lord.

1. First, for direction to teach us the way how to heale a sinne,Vse, 1 and that it is to get assurance that is pardoned & forgiven, for legal ter­rours doe not heale a sin, but is faith that purifies the heart, and purify­ing pacifies it: as a Traytor will not come in, when he heares a procla­mation out for his death, but when he heares he shall [...]ive and be pardo­ned, this makes him to come in, so we when we only fixe our eyes u­pon the legal terrours, we shall not heale our sins, but when we belieue they are pardoned, this heales them.

But sorrow and a broken heart are required,Obiect. for sinners to be assured of their forgivennes.

This sorrow is not so much commanded,Ans; but it is that whereby God prepareth his servants hearts, to make them see what need they have of pardon and so they may aske pardon, but the sorrow commanded is that which followes beliefe, for the more I believe the promises, the more I shall grieve for displeasing him.Quest.

But what is the way to get assurance of the forgivennes of our sins may some say?

I answere that that bee

  • done which is to be done on our part.
  • believed which God hath promised

Q, The things to be done on our part, are these,

Confession plainely and truely wee must confesse them to God, and to man, when we our selves cannot overcome them,

Secondly, contrition) which is when a man is not stubborne, and re­sisteth Gods will, and will please himselfe, to get his heart broken,Hab, 6, 2, & he saith as saint Paul saith. Lord what wilt thou have me to doe? and then we are subject to his will, to him will I looke that is of a contrite heart.

Thirdly, desertion), or forsaking of sin, for he that forsaketh not his sins shall not prosper, which is when we having the like occasions,Pro, 2 [...] yet wil not give way to him, but follow our owne lusts.

Secondly, That that bee believed which God hath promised and that is, that as he hath said; hee will forgive our sins, upon such and such conditions, so we believe it, and to make us to doe this, these mo­tions may perswade us.motiv [...]

Q. Because hee is mercyfull, in whose mercy there are three things, [...] [Page] give our sins, that we may believe it.

But I have comitted the sinne oft.

AnsYet God will forgive thee, though thou hast oft committed whoore­dome, yet I will forgive thee, if thou turne unto mee saith the Lord, by the Prophet of the house of Israel. Ier. 3.

Hence then to make some use of it, as our use is, we may learne not to deceave our selves, [...]o think we are in the state of grace, when wee are not,Vse for if we did truly believe our sinnes are forgiven us, we wold be healed, but if we have the same lusts, and keep the same company, which we did when we were not changed, it is a meere delusion, what soever we say or thinke.

And thus much for the third point too, there yet remaines one more behind, wherewith wee will conclude the whole text, and that wee may draw from the contrary, to what the Apostle heere saith, and in­deed it is implyed, though not exprest. for if sin have no dominion o­ver them that are not under the law but under grace, then on the other side must it needs be as true. viz

That whosoever is vnder the law, sin hath dominion over him, that is, [...]oct, 4, he that refraineth sin only for feare of the law, and of judgemnets, sin hath dominion over him, this is the case of them that refraine sinning, only for feare and for the salvation of their soules, or for educations sake, which have beene brought up in good families, or such as repent upon some amazement, like the bulrushes which hang downe their heads onely while the showre lasts, and that,

First because all such as are not under grace, but under the law have not receaved the spirit,Reas, which commeth by hearing the gospel, and no creature can change one creature into another. as lead unto gold, or a Wolfe unto a Lamb, unles it be by Gods spirit.

Secondly, to such Gods service is burthensome, and violent motions last not long: they are weary in clamtering up an Hill, all naturall mo­tions are swifter at the last then at the first, but these are like the Is­raelites who after a tyme, would have returned into AEGYPT againe.

Now then to end all with the tyme, let us

[...]Q Bee exhorted not to abstaine from any sinne, for feare of punish­ment, but consider whether thou wouldest serve God for Gods sake although there were neither heaven nor hell; it must be our meat and drinke, which men would doe though there were no punishment for the omission of it, Blessed is hee that hungereth and thirsteth after righteousnes.

[Page]2. Hence we may learne not to deferre repentance till death, sick­nes, crosses, or age somes, then it may be you would not sin though with Balaam you had your housefull of gold and silver, for its not the abstinence from sin that God loveth, but the change of the heart. A­maziahs heart was not right though he walked in all the wayes of David, these are the men that have made a covenant with hell and death, but God will dissanull that covenant, or it wil be but equivocal, many have sworne in their sicknes never to commit sin againe which afterward, they have committed againe with greedines, many have dyed in the same repentance.

3. Labour to see your selves doing duties with as much love as you can, and with as little feare, because perfect love casteth out feare,Vs [...] & so beloved I have given you a briefe survey of the severall points con­tained in the portion of holy Scripture, wherefore if you know these things, happy are yee if ye doe them, wherefore that yee may doe them, let us call upon God for a blessing on what we have heard.



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