Nos quoque floruimus sed flos fuit ille caducus:
Flammaque de stipula nostra brevisque fuit.
Ov.

VERA EFFIGIES RICHARDI BAXTERI MIN: IES CH: IN OP ET PATA FIDEI SPEI ET CHARITATIS. An. 1670. AETAT SUAE 55o

Farewell vaine World as thou hast been to me
Dust and a Shadow: those I leave with thee:
The vnseen Vitall Substance I committ,
The Leaves & Fruit are dropt for soyle and Seed,
Heaven's heirs to generate: to heale and feed:
Them also thou wilt flatter and molest,
But shalt not keep from Everlasting Rest.
THE LIFE OF FAITH

THE Life of Faith. In Three PARTS. The First is a Sermon on Heb. 11.1. formerly preached before His Majesty, and published by his Command; with another added for the fuller Application. The Second is Instructions for confirming Be­lievers in the Christian Faith. The Third is Directions how to live by Faith; or how to exercise it upon all occasions.

By RICHARD BAXTER.

2 Cor. 5.7.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Cor. 4.16, 17, 18.

For which cause we faint not: but though our outward man parish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day: For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Heb. 12.27.

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the King: for he endured, as seeing him that is invisible.

LONDON, Printed by R. W. for Nevill Simmons, at the three Crowns over against Holbern Conduit. 1670.

To the Worshipfull, my much honour­ed Friend Richard Hampden of Hampden, Esquire; and the Lady Laetitia his Wife, Grace and Peace be multiplied.

SIR,

YOur Names stand here in the front of this Treatise, on a double account: First, that (the custom of Writers ha­ving given me such an ad­vantage) I may tell the pre­sent and future Ages, how much I love and honour your Piety, Sobriety, Integrity and Mo­deration, in an Age when such Vertues grow into contempt, or into lifeless Images and Names: And how much I am my self your debter, [Page] for the manifold expressions of your love; and that in an Age when [...] the superio [...] [...]culties is ou [...] of f [...]shion; and towards such as I, is grown [...] crime Sincerity and [...] are things that shall be honourable, when Hypocrisie and Malice have done their worst: But they are most con­spicuous and refulgent in times of [...]rity; and when the shame of their contraries se [...] them off.

Secondly, To signifie my Love and Gratitude by the best [...] which I can make; which is, by tendering to you and to your family, the surest Directions, for the most noble manly life on earth, in order to a blessed life in Heaven. Though you have proceeded well; you [...] need of help: so great a [...] for skilfull counsel, and [...] and industrious, and unwea [...] [...] And your hopeful children may [...] to learn this excellen [...] Life from these Directions, for the love of your prefixed Names. And how happy will they b [...], if they converse with God, [...] are wallowing in the [...] of [...] When the dead hea [...]ted sinner thinketh not [Page] of [...] be dragg'd out of [...] pa [...]pered corrup­tible flesh, to divinie [...], and [...]with the beginnings of endless [...], to the world where they might have found everlasting rest; what joy will then be the portion of mortified and patient Believers, whos [...] Treas [...]s, and Hearts, and Conver­sati [...] in He [...]ven, are now the foretaste of their possession, as the Spirit of Christ which causeth this, i [...] the se [...] of God, and the pledge and earnest of their inheritance. If a [...] pleasing life in a dark, distracted, [...] world, were better than a life with God and Angels, methinks yet they that know they cannot have what they [...], should make sue of what they may ha [...] ▪ And they that cannot keep what they [...], should learn to [...] what [...] may keep. Wonderfull stupidity! [...]h [...]t they [...] dead bodies [...] grave, is as common a work, [...] children into the world, and that this [Page] life is but the road to another, and that all men are posting on to their [...], should think no more considerately whi­ther so many thousand souls do go, that daily shoot the gulf of death▪ and return no more to the world which one they called their home! That men will have no house or home, but the ship which carryeth them so swiftly to eternity! and spend their time in furnishing a dwelling on such a tempestuous Sea, where winds and tide are hasting them to the shore! and even to the end are contriving to live where they are daily dying! and care for no [...]bitation but on horse-back! That almost all men die much wiser than they lived; and yet the certain foreknowledge of death will not serve to make them more seasonably and more safely wi [...]e! Wonderful! that it should be possible for a man awake, to believe that he must shortly be gone from earth, and enter into an unchangeable end­less life, and yet not bend the thoughts of his soul, and the labours of his life, to se­cure his true and [...] Adam hath given sin the [...] grace, and madness the priority to wisdom; [Page] and our wisdom, health and safety, must now come after, by the way of recovery and cure. The first born of lapsed man was a malignant persecuting Cain. The first born of believing Abraham, was a perse­cutor of him that was born after the Spirit, 1 John 3.12. Gal. 4.29. And the first born of this Isaac himself, was a profane Esau, that for one morsel sold his birth-right, Heb. 12.16. And naturally we are all the off-spring of this profaneness, and have not acquaintance enough with God, and with healthful holi­ness, and with the everlasting heavenly Glory, to make us cordially preferr it before a for­bidden cup, or morsel, or a game at foole­ry, or a filthy lust; or before the wind of a gilded fools acclamation and applause; or the cap and counterfeit subjection of the multitude: But the —fortunae, non tua turba (ut Ov.) & quos sportula fecit amici (ut Juv.) who will serve mens lusts, and be their servants, and humble attendants to damnation, are regarded more than the God, the Saviour, the Sanctifier, to whom these perfidious rebels were once devoted. That you and yours may live that more wise and delightful life, which consisteth [Page] in the daily sight of Heaven, by a Living Faith, which worketh by Love, in constant Obe­dience, is the principal end of this publick appellation: That what is here written for the use of all, may be first and special­ly useful to you and yours, whom I am so much bound to love and honour; even to your safe and comfortable life and death, and to your future joy and glory; which is the great desire of

Your obliged Servant, RICH. BAXTER.

THE PREFACE.

Reader,

1. IF it offend thee, that the Parts of this Treatise are so unlike, understand 1. That they are for various uses: The first Part to make men willing, by awa­kening perswasions; and the rest, to direct them in the exercises of Faith, who are first made willing. 2. That I write not to win thy praise of an artificial comely Structure; but to help souls to Holiness and Heaven; and to these ends I labour to suit the means. 3. That the first Sermon was published long ago; and [Page] the Bookseller desiring me to give him some ad­ditions to it, I thought meet first to make up the exciting part in the same style, and then to add a Directory for the practice of judicious Believers.

2. And if it offend thee that the second Part containeth but such matter as I have already published, in my Reasons of the Christian Re­ligion, understand 1. That I perceived that that Treatise was neglected by the more unlearned sort of Christians, as not descending enough to their capa­cities; and that it would be useful to the confir­mation of their Faith, to draw forth some of the most obvious Arguments, in as plain a manner, and as briefly as I could, that length nor obscu­rity might not deprive them of the benefit, who are too slothfull, or too dull, to make use of more copious and accurate discourse. 2. And I knew not how to write a Treatise of the Uses of Faith, which should wholly leave out the Confirmations of Faith, without much reluctancy of my Reason.

3. And again, I say, I can bear the dispraise of Repetition, if I may but further mens Faith and Salvation.

3. And if it offend thee that I am so dull in all the Directive part, I cannot well do both works at once, awaken the Affections, and accu­rately [Page] direct the mind for practice▪ Or at least if I had spoken all those Directions in a copious applica­tory Sermon style, it would have swelled the Book to a very tedious costly volume: And Affection must not too much interpose, when the Judgment is about its proper work. And being done in the be­ginning, it may be the better spared afterward.

4. If it offend you that I open the Life of Faith in somewhat an unusual manner, I answer for my self, that if it be Methodical, true and apt for use, I do that which I intend: And on a subject so frequently and fully handled, it were but an injury to the Church, to say but the same which is said already: Mr. John Ball, Mr. Ezekiel Culverwell, and Mr. Samuel Ward in a narrower room have done exceeding well upon this subject. If you have nothing more than they have said, read their Books only, and let this alone.

5. If it offend you that the Directions are many of them difficult, and the style requireth a slow conside­rate Reader, I answer, the nature of the subject re­quireth it; and without voluminous tediousness, it cannot be avoided. Blame therefore your unprepared ignorant minds; and while you are yet dull of hear­ing, and so make things hard to be uttered to your understanding, because you have still need of Milk, and cannot digest strong meat: but must again [Page] be taught the principles of the oracles of God, (Heb. 5.11, 12, 13, 14.) think not to g [...]t knowledge without hard study, and patient learning, by hearing nothing but what you know already, or can understand by one hasty reading over; lest you discover a con­junction of slothfulness with an ignorant and unhumbled mind: Or at least, if you must learn at so cheap a rate, or else stick still in your Milk and your Beginnings, be not offended if others out­go you, and think knowledge worthy of much greater diligence; and if leaving the principles we go on towards perfection, as long as we take them along with us, and make them the life of all that followeth, while we seem to leave them: And this we will do, if God permit, Heb. 6.1, 3.

R. B.

The Contents of the first Part.

The SERMON.
  • WHat Faith is, page 2. The Text opened, p. 4. The grounds of the certa [...]nty of Faith briefly intimated, p. 5, &c.
  • Why God will have us live by Faith, and not by sight, p. 1 [...], &c.
  • Use 1. To inform us what a Christian or Believer is; described, p. 15
  • Use 2. The Reason why Believers are more serious in matters of Religion, than unbelievers are.
  • Use 3. Of Examination, p. 29
  • The misery of unbelievers, p. 30
  • Marks of a true Faith, p. 32
  • Use 4. Exhortation to the serious exercise of Faith, p. 37
  • Some assisting suppositions, p. 38
  • How those will live who thus believe; opened in certain Que­stions, p 4 [...]
  • Motives to live by a foreseeing Faith on things not seen, p. 45
  • The Conclusion; 1. Exhorting to live by Faith: 2. And to pro­mote this life in others, p. 46.
The Additions.
  • Cap. 1. The conviction and reproof of Hypocrites, Who live contrary to the Faith which they profess, 48
  • Cap. 2. A general Exhortation to live as Believers, 56
  • Cap. 3. An exhortation to the particular duties of Believers. 63
The Contents of the Second Part.
  • Chap. 1. The Believers Directory must shew him, I. How to strengthen Faith: 2. How to use it,
  • [Page]And I. For the first, the order of the presupposed Natural Verities, is briefly mentioned, 8 [...]
  • Chap. 2. The true Method of enquiry into the supernatural evi­dences of Faith, and the Rules therein to be observed, 87
  • Chap. 3. The proper Evidence of Faith. The SPIRIT and the Image of God himself, 97
  • Chap. 4. The Image of Gods Wisdom on the Christian Religion: It's wonderful Method opened, in thirty instances. Six more instances, 99
  • Chap. 5. The Image of Gods Goodness and Holiness on the Chri­stian Religion: in thirty instances, 108
  • Chap. 6. The Image of Gods Power upon the Christian Religion; in twenty instances, 115
  • Chap. 7. The means of making known all this to us infallibly. How the first witnesses knew it. How the next Age and Churches knew it. How we know it. Twenty special historical Tradi­tions of Christianity, and matters of fact. What the Spirits Witness to Christianity is, 125
  • Chap. 8. Twelve further Directions to confirm our Faith, 136
  • Chap. 9. Twenty General Directions how to use Faith, or to live by it, when it i [...] confirmed. What Christian Faith is: Errours about it, 148
The Contents of the third Part.
  • Chap. 1. How to live by Faith on God, 168
  • Chap. 2. How to live by Faith on Jesus Christ, 188
  • Abuses of the Doctrine of Redemption. The extent of it. Of Christs Office: His Merits and Sacrifice: Example, &c.
  • Chap. 3. How to live by Faith on the Holy Ghost. Of the Trinity. Several doubts resolved about believing in the Holy Ghost. Of giving the Spirit: His operations: Whether Love to God, or Faith in Christ go first; exactly answered. (And consequently whether Faith or Repentance be first.) Of the Spirit in Christ and the Apostles: Of sufficient Grace. How Faith procureth the Spirit. Whether desires of grace be grace, 20 [...]
  • Chap. 4. How to live by faith as to Gods Command [...]. The admi­rable [Page] goodness of Gods Laws. Whether the Promise and [...]eward be the end of Obedience, or Obedience the end of the [...] Reward. Of Scripture examples, 232
  • Chap. 5. How to live by faith on Gods Promises. What will of God it is, according to which they must ask who will receive. Of a particular faith in prayer. Is the same degree of grace condi­tionally promised to all? Directions for understanding the Pro­mises. The true nature of faith or trust in Gods Promises, open­ed at large. Affiance is in the understanding, will and vital power. Whether Faith be Obedience, or how related to it. Ten acts of the understanding essential to the Christian Faith in the Promises. Several acts of the will essential to Faith. And in the vital power, whether all true Faith have a subjective cer­tainty of the truth of the Word. Choice, and venturing or for­saking all, is the sign of real trust. Promises collected for the help of Faith. 1. Of Pardon, 2. Of Salvation, 3. Of Reconci­liation and Adoption, 4. Of pardon of new sins after conversion. 5. Of Sanctification: 6. Promises to them that desire and seek. 7. To Prayer. 8. To groans that want expression. 9. Promises of all that we want, and that is good for us. 10. To the use of Gods Word and Sacraments. 11. To the humble, meek and lowly. 12. To the peaceable. 13. To the diligent. 14. To the patient. 15. To Obedience. 16. To the Love of God. 17. To them that love the godly, and are merciful in good works. 18. To the poor, 19. To the oppressed. 20. To the persecuted. 21. In dangers. 22. Against temptations. 23. To them that overcome and per­severe. 24. In sickness, and at death. 25. Of Resurrection, final Justification and Glory. 26. For children of the godly. 27. To the Church, 241
  • Chap. 6. How to exercise faith on God [...] Threatnings and Judge­ments. How far belief of the threatnings in good, necessary, and a saving faith. How saving faith is a personal application. How to perceive true faith, 297
  • Chap. 7. How to live by faith for Pardon and Justification. In how many respects and waies Christ justifieth us. Of the impu­tation of Christs Righteousness. Twelve reasons to help our be­lief of pardon. How far sin should make us doubt of our Justifi­cation, 308
  • Chap. 8. 58 Dangerous Errours detected, which hinder the [Page] [...] faith about [...] and the contrary truth [...] [...]sserted [...]321
  • Chap. 9. How to live by faith in the exercise of other graces and duties: And 1. Of the doctrinal Directions. What Sanctifi­cation is. How God loveth the unsanctified▪ How [...] loveth [...] in Christ. Of Preaching meer Morality, [...]61
  • Chap. 10. The practical Directions, to promote Love to God and Holiness, 367
  • Chap. 11. Of the order and harmony of graces and duties, which must be taken all together. Of the parts that make up the new Creature. 1. The intellectual order; or a method, or scheme of the heads of Divinity. 2. The order of Intention and Affection. 3. The order of practice. Of the various degrees of means to mans ultimate end. Of the grace necessary to concur with these various means. The circular motion by divine communication to our Receiving Graces, and so by our Returning Graces, unto God again. The frame of the present means of grace, and of our returning duties. Rules about the order of Christian pra­ctice (which shew that, and how the best is to be preferred, and which is best) in fifty three Propositions. How mans Laws bind conscience (and many other cases) resolved. A lamentation for the great want of order, and method, and harmony in the un­derstandings, wills and lives of Christians. Many instances of mens partiality as to truths, graces, duties, sins, &c. Twenty Rea­sons why few Christians are compleat and entire, but [...]ame and partial in their Religion. Ten Consectaries. Whether all graces be equal in habit. Religion not so perfect in us as in the Scri­ptures; which therefore are the Rule to us, &c. 373
  • Chap. 12. How to use faith against particular sins, 417
  • Chap. 13. What sins the best are most in danger of, and should most carefully avoid. And wherein the infirmities of the upright dif­fer from mortal sins. 421
  • Chap. 14. How to live by faith in prosperity. The way by which faith doth save us from the world. General Directions against the danger of prosperity. Twenty marks of worldliness. The pretences of worldly minds. The greatness of the sin. The ill ef­fects, 428
  • Chap. 15. How to be poor in spirit. And 1. How to escape the Pride of prosperous men. The cleaks of Pride. The signs of Pride and [Page] [...], 446
  • Chap. 16. How to escape the [...], by faith. The mischiefe of serving the appetite. [...] 465
  • Chap. 17. How faith must conquer sloth and idleness. Who are guilty of this sin Cases resolved. The evil of idleness. The re­medies, 474
  • Chap. 18. Ʋnmercifulness to the poor, to be conquered by faith. The remedies, 491
  • Chap. 19. How to live by faith in adversity, 493
  • Chap. 20. How to live by faith in trouble of conscience, and doubts of our salvation. The difference between true and false repen­tance. How to apply the universal grace to our comfort. The danger of casting our part on Christ; and of ascribing all me­lancholy disturbances and thoughts to the spirit. Of the trying the spiri [...]: and of the witness of the Spirit, 503
  • Chap. 21. How to live by faith in the publick Woshipping of God, Overvalue not your own manner of Worship, and overvilifie not other mens. Of communion with others, 519
  • Chap. 22. How to pray in faith, 527
  • Chap. 23. How to live by faith towards children and other Re­lations, 530
  • Chap. 24. How by faith to order our affections to publick Societies, and to the unconverted world, 535
  • Chap. 25. How to live by faith in the love of one another, and to mortifie self-love. It is our own interest and gain, to love our neighbours as our selves. Objections wherein it consisteth. What is the sincerity of it. Consectaries. Loving others as your selves is a duty even as to the degree, 539
  • Chap. 26. How by faith to be followers of the Saints, and to look with profit to their examples and their end, and to hold com­munion with the heavenly Society. Reasons of the duty. The nature of it. Negatively, what it is not; and Affirmatively, what it is. Wherein they must be imitated, 556
  • Chap. 27. How to receive the sentence of death, and how to die by Faith, 589
  • Chap. 28. How by faith to look aright to the coming of Jesus Christ in Glory, 594

Reader, The first and great Errour of the Printer, i [...], that he hath not distinguished the three distinct Parts of the Trea­tise. Therefore you must write Page 1. PART 1. and Pag. 81. PART 2. Chap. 1. and Pag. 168. PART 3. Chap. 1.

IN the Preface, Page 3. l. 16. put If you would have. p. 8. l. 8. put out have p. 31. l. 31. put out out p. 40. l. 22. for that r. the p. 51. l. 37. for yo [...]r r. their p. 54. l. 13. for believe r. desire p. 66. l. 31. for against r. at p. 67. l. 32. for tam r. q [...]am p. 68. l. 8. for murmurr r. mo [...]rn l. 27. after better put countrey p. 69. l. 17. r. nemo p. 70 l. 16. r. ventosam p. 75. l. 24. r. made them p. 77. l. 12. r. literate p. 87. l. 3. for offered read observed p. 93. l 25. for cannot r. can p. 96. l. 12. for Nations r. [...]otions l. 21. r. conduceth p. 99. l. 9. r. which [...]t p. 101. l. 38. for Goodness r. Good will p. 130. l. 13. r. inconsiderateness p. 134. l. 10. r. Victor [...]t [...]censis p. 155. l. 37. for never r. neerer p. 163. l. 6. put out are p. 166. l. 2. for worketh r. marketh l. 24. r. aime at l. 29. r. taketh p. 196. r. 7. for meditate r. med [...]at [...] p. 206. l. 1. r. causally l. 4. for his r. this p 217. (false Printed for 209) l. 38. blot out or p. 224. l. 6. for was r. were p. 232. l. 19. [...]. Antoninus p. 241. l. 31. r. commutative p. 244. l. 38. put out of p. 249. l. 5. for rather r. alwa [...]es p. 250. l. 9. blot out O and r. of objective gra [...]e l. 30. for promiseth r. promiseth [...]ot p. 253. l. 12. for confirmeth r. confineth l. 20. for less of [...]. loss of p. 254. l. 29. r. non-amission p. [...]32. l. 33. r. which most p. 346. l. 14. [...]. faults p. 359. l. 18. for him r. himself p. 366. l. 29. for that r. the p. [...]71. l. 12. for there r. then p. 382. l. 28. for as r. or p. 384. l. 3. put a comma after efficient and Dirigent p. 405. l. 36. r. Christians p. 406. l. 37. for end r. and p. 411. l. 16. r. th [...]nes p. 413. l. 20. for it r. is p. 414. l. 2. put out or and l. 34. for in it r. in us (else it is blasphemy against the Scripture) p. 430. l. 23. put out may p. 435. l. 25. r. Cyn [...]cal p. 441. l. 5. put out not p. 485. l. [...]5. for themselves r. himself p. 505. l. 27. r. Assent p. 540. l. 21. put out and p. 582. l. 11. r. friends.

[Page 1]THE Life of Faith.

HEBREWS 11.1.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

THough the wicked are distinguished in­to Hypocrites and Ʋnbelievers, yet Hy­pocrites themselves are Ʋnbelievers too. They have no faith which they can ju­stifie, by its prevailing efficacy and works: and therefore have no faith by which they can be justified. Because their discovery is needful to their recovery, and all our salvation depends on the sincerity of our faith. I have chosen this text, which is a description of faith, that the opening of it may help us for the opening of our hearts, and resolving the great question, on which our endless life de­pends.

To be a Christian, and to be a Believer in Christ, are words in Scripture of the same signification. If you have not faith, you are not Christians. This faith hath various offices and [Page 2] objects. By it we are justified, sanctified and saved. We are justified, not by believing that we are justified, but by believing that we may be justified. Not by receiving justification imme­diately, but by receiving Christ for our justification: not by meer accepting the pardon in it self, but by first receiving him that procureth and bestoweth it, on his terms: Not by meer accept­ing health, but by receiving the Physician and his remedies, for health.

Faith is the practical Believing in God as promising, and Christ as procuring justification and salvation. Or, the practical belief and acceptance of life, as procured by Christ, and promised by God in the Gospel.

The everlasting fruition of God in Heaven, is the ultimate object. No man believeth in Christ as Christ, that believeth not in him for eternal life. As faith looks at Christ as the ne­cessary means, and at the divine benignity as the fountain, and at his veracity as the foundation or formal object, and at the promise, as the true signification of his will; so doth it ultimate­ly look at our salvation, (begun on earth, and perfected in Heaven) as the end, for which it looketh at the rest.

No wonder therefore if the holy Ghost here speaking of the Dignity and Power of faith, do principally insist on that part of its description, which is taken from this final object.

As Christ himself in his Humiliation was rejected by the Gentiles, and a stumbling stone to the Jews, despised and not esteemed, Isa. 53.2, 3. having made himself of no reputation, Phil. 2 7. So faith in Christ as incarnate and crucified, is de­spised and counted foolishness by the world. But as Christ in his glory, and the glory of believers, shall force them to an aweful admiration; so faith it self as exercised on that glory, is more glorious in the eyes of all. Believers are never so re­verenced by the world, as when they converse in Heaven, and the Spirit of Glory resteth on them, 1 Pet. 4.14.

How faith by beholding this glorious end, doth move all the faculties of the soul, and subdue the inclinations and in­terests of the flesh, and make the greatest sufferings tollerable, is the work of the holy Ghost in this Chapter to demonstrate, which beginning with the description, proceeds to the proof by a cloud of witnesses. There are two sorts of persons (and [Page 3] imployments) in the world, for whom there are two con­trary ends hereafter. One sort subject their reason to their sensual or carnal interest. The other subject their senses to their reason, cleared, conducted and elevated by faith. Things present or possessed, are the riches of the sensual, and the byas of their hearts and lives: Things absent but hoped for, are the riches of Believers, which actuate their chief en­deavours.

This is the sense of the text which I have read to you; which setting things hoped for, in opposition to things present, and things unseen, to those that sense doth apprehend, assureth us that faith (which fixeth on the first) doth give to its ob­ject a subsistence, presence and evidence, that is, it seeth that which supplieth the want of presence and visibility. The [...], is that which quoad effectum is equal to a present subsistence. And the [...], the evidence is somewhat which quoad effectum is equal to visibility. As if he had said, [Though the glory pro­mised to Believers, and expected by them, be yet to come, and on­ly hoped for, and be yet unseen and only believed, yet is the sound believer as truly affected with it, and acted by its attractive force, as if it were present and before his eyes] as a man is by an inheritance, or estate in reversion, or out of sight, if well secured, and not only by that which is present to his view. The Syriack Interpreter instead of a Translation, gives us a true exposition of the words, viz. [Faith is a certainty of those things that are in hope, as if they did already actually exist, and the revelation of those things that are not seen.

Or you may take the sense in this Proposition, which I am next to open further, and apply, viz. [That the nature and use of faith is to be as it were instead of presence, possession and sight: or to make the things that will be, as if they were already in existence; and the things unseen which God revealeth, as if our bodily eyes beheld them.

1. Not that faith doth really change its object. 2. Nor doth it give the same degree of apprehensions and affections, as the sight of present things would do. But 1. Things invisible are the objects of our faith.

2. And Faith is effectual instead of sight to all these uses: 1. The apprehension is as infallible, because of the objective [Page 4] certainty, (though not so satisfactory to our imperfect souls) as if the things themselves were seen. 2. The will is determin­ed by it in its necessary consent and choice. 3. The affections are moved in the necessary d [...]gree. 4. It ruleth in our lives, and bringeth us through duty, and suffering, for the sake of the happiness which we believe.

3. This Faith is a grounded wise and justifiable act: an in­fallible knowl [...]dge; and often called so in Scripture, John 6.69. 1 Cor. 15.58. Rom. 8.28, &c. And the constitutive and ef­ficient causes will justifie the Name.

We know and are infallibly sure, of the truth of God, which we believe: As it's said, John 6.69. [We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.] 2 Cor. 5.1. [We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dis­solved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the H [...]avens.] Rom. 8.28. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.] 1 Cor. 15.58. You know that your labour is n [...]t in vain in the Lord] Joh. 9.29. [We kn [...]w God spake to Moses, &c.] 31. [We know God hear­eth not sinners.] John 3.2. We know thou art a Teacher come from God.] So 1 John 3.5, 15. & 1 Pet. 3.17. and many other Scriptures tell you, that Believing God, is a certain in­fallible sort of knowledge.

I shall in justification of the work of Faith, acquaint you briefly with 1. That in the Nature of it: 2. And that in the causing of it, which advanceth it, to be an infallible knowledge.

1. The Believer knows (as sure as he knows there is a God) that God is true, and his Word is true, it being impossible for God to lie, H [...]b. 6.18. God that cannot lie hath promised, Titus 1.2.

2. He knows that the holy Scripture is the Word of God; by his Image which it beareth, and the many evidences of Divinity which it containeth, and the many Miracles (cer­tainly proved) which Christ, and his Spirit in his servants, wrought to confirm the truth. 3. And therefore he knoweth assuredly the conclusion, that all this Word of God is true.

And for the surer effecting of this knowledge, God doth not only set before us the ascertaining Evidence of his own [Page 5] veracity, and the Scriptures Divinity; but moreover, 1. He giveth us to believe, Phil. 1.29. 2 Pet. 1.3. For it is not of our selves, but is the gift of God, Ephes. 2.8. Faith is one of the fruits of the Spirit, Gal. 5.22. By the drawing of the Father, we come to the Son. And he that hath knowledge given from Heaven, will certainly know: and he that hath Faith given him from Heaven, will certainly believe. The heavenly Light will dissipate our darkness, and infallibly illuminate. Whilest God sets before us the glass of the Gospel in which the things invisible are revealed, and also gives us eye sight to behold them, Believers must needs be a heavenly people, as walking in that light which proceedeth from, and leadeth to the celestial ever­lasting Light.

2. And that Faith may be so powerful as to serve instead of sight and presence, Believers have the Spirit of Christ within them, to excite and actuate it, and help them against all tempta­tions to unbelief, and to work in them all other graces that concur to promote the works of Faith; and to mortifie those sins that hinder our believing, and are contrary to a heavenly life: So that as the exercise of our sight, and taste, and hearing, and feeling, is caused by our natural life; so the exercise of Faith and Hope, and Love, upon things unseen, is caused by the holy Spirit, which is the principle of our new life, 1 Cor. 2.12. We have received the Spirit, that we might know the things that are given us of God.] This Spirit of God acquaint­eth us with God, with his veracity and his Word, Heb. 10.30. We know him that hath said, I will never fail thee, nor forsake thee.] This Spirit of Christ acquainteth us with Christ, and with his grace and will. 1 Cor. 2.10, 11, 12. This heavenly Spirit acquainteth us with Heaven, so that [We know that when Christ appeareth, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is, 1 Joh. 3.2. And we know that he was manifested to take away sin,] 1 Joh. 3.5. And will perfect his work, and present us spotless to his Father, Eph. 5.26, 27. This heavenly Spirit pos­sesseth the Saints with such heavenly dispositions and desires, as much facilitate the work of Faith. It bringeth us to a heavenly conversation; and maketh us live as fellow-citizens of the Saints, and in the houshold of God, Phil. 3.20. Eph. 2.19. It is within us a Spirit of supplication, breathing heaven-ward, with sighs and [Page 6] groans which cannot be expressed; and as God knoweth the meaning of the Spirit, so the Spirit knows the mind of God, Rom. 8.37. 1 Cor. 2.11.

3. And the work of Faith is much promoted by the spiri­tual experiences of Believers. When they find a considerable part of the holy Scriptures verified on themselves, it much con­firmeth their Faith as to the whole. They are really possessed of that heavenly disposition, called, The Divine Nature, and have felt the power of the Word upon their hearts, renewing them to the Image of God, mortifying their most dear and strong corruptions, shewing them a greater beauty and desi­rableness in the Objects of Faith, than is to be found in sen­sible things: They have found many of the Promises made good upon themselves, in the answers of prayers, and in great deliverances, which strongly perswadeth them to believe the rest that are yet to be accomplished. And experience is a very powerful and satisfying way of conviction. He that feeleth, as it were, the first fruits, the earnest, and the beginnings of Hea­ven already in his soul, will more easily and assuredly believe that there is a Heaven hereafter. [We know that the Son of God i [...] come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ: This is the true God and eternal life,] 1 Joh. 5.20. [He that believeth on the Son hath the witness in himself, Vers. 10.] There is so great a likeness of the holy and heavenly nature in the Saints, to the heavenly life that God hath promi­sed, that makes it the more easily believed.

4. And it exceedingly helpeth our Belief of the life that's yet unseen, to find that Nature affordeth us undeniable Argu­ments to prove a future Happiness and Misery, Reward and Punishment, in the general; yea and in special, that the Love and Fruition of God is this Reward; and that the effects of his displeasure are this Punishment: Nothing more clear and certain than that there is a God, (He must be a fool indeed that dare deny it, Psal. 14.1.) as also that this God is the Creatour of the rational nature, and hath the absolute right of Soveraign Government: and therefore that the rational Creature oweth him the most full and absolute obedience, and deserveth pu­nishment if he disobey. And it's most clear that infinite good­ness [Page 7] should be loved above all finite imperfect created good: And it's clear that the rational nature is so formed, that with­out the hopes and fears of another life, the world neither is, nor ever was, nor (by ordinary visible means) can be well governed; (supposing God to work on man according to his nature.) And it is most certain that it consisteth not with infinite wisdom, power and goodness, to be put to rule the world in all ages, by fraud and falshood. And it is certain that Heathens do for the most part through the world, by the light of nature, acknowledge a life of joy, or misery to come: And the most hardened Atheists, or Infidels must confess, that [for ought they know there may be such a life:] it being impossible they should know or prove the contrary. And it is most cer­tain that the meer probability or possibility of a Heaven and Hell, (being matters of such unspeakable concernment) should in reason command our utmost diligence to the hazard or loss of the transitory vanities below: and consequently that a holy diligent preparation for another life, is naturally the duty of the reasonable creature. And it's a sure that God hath not made our nature in vain; nor set us on a life of vain imploy­ments, nor made it our business in the world to seek after that which can never be attained.

These things, and much more, do shew that nature afford­eth us so full a testimony of the life to come that's yet invisible, that it exceedingly helpeth us in believing the supernatural revelation of it, which is more full.

5. And though we have not seen the objects of our faith, yet those that have given us their infallible testimony by infal­lible means, have seen what they testified. Though [no man hath seen God at any time, yet the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared him, Joh 1.18. [Verily, verily, (saith our Lord) we speak that we know, and testifie that we have seen] Joh. 3.11. Vers. 31, 32. [He that cometh from Heaven is above all, and what he hath seen and heard that he testifieth.] Christ that hath told us saw the things that we have not seen: and you will believe honest men that speak to you of what they were eye-witnesses of. And the Disciples saw the person, the transfiguration, and the miracles of Christ. Insomuch that John thus beginneth his Epistle, 1 Cor. 1.1, 2, 3. [Page 8] [That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life, (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew it to you, that eternal life which was with the Father, and was ma­nifested unto us:) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.] So Paul, 1 Cor. 9.1. Am I not an Apostle? have have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord, 1 Cor. 15.5.6, 7. [He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto this present] Heb. 2.3, 4. This [great salvation at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the holy Ghost, according to his own will.] 2 Pet. 1.16, 17. [For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye­witnesses of his Majesty: For he received from God the Father ho­nour and glory, when there came such a voice to him, from the ex­cellent glory: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: And this voice which came from Heaven, we heard when we were with him in the holy Mount.] And therefore when the Apostles were commanded by their persecutors, not to speak at all, or teach in the name of Jesus, they answered, [We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.] Acts 4.18, 20. So that much of the obj [...]cts of our faith to us invi­sible, have yet been s [...]en by those that have instrumentally re­vealed them; and the glory of Heaven it self is seen by many millions of souls, that are now possessing it. And the tradi­tion of the Testimony of the Apostles unto us, is more full and satisfactory, than the tradition of any Laws of the Land, or History of the most unquestionable affairs that have been done among the people of the earth: (as I have manifested elsewhere.) So that faith hath the infallible Testimony of God, and of them that have seen, and therefore is to us instead of sight.

6. Lastly, Even the enemy of faith himself doth against his will confirm our faith by the violence and rage of malice, that he stirreth up in the ungodly against the life of faith and holi­ness; [Page 9] and by the importunity of his oppositions and tempta­tions, discovering that it is not for nothing that he is so mali­ciously solicitous, industrious, and violent.

And thus you see how much faith hath, that should fully satisfie a rational man, instead of presence, possession and [...]ight

If any shall here say, [But why would not God let us have a sight of Heaven or Hell, when he could not but know that it would more generally and certainly have prevailed for the conver­sion and salvation of the world: Doth he envy us the most [...]ff [...]ctua [...] means?]

I answer; 1. Who art thou O man that disputest against God? shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? M [...]st God come down to the bar of man, to render an account of the reason of his works? Why do ye not also ask him a reason of the nature, situation, magni­tude, order, influences, &c. of all the Stars, and Superiour Orbs, and call him to an account for all his works? when yet there are so many things in your own bodies, of which you little understand the reason. Is it not intollerable impudency, for such worms as we, so low, so dark, to question the eternal God, concerning the reason of his Laws and dispensations? Do we not shamefully forget our ignorance, and our distance?

2. But if you must have a reason, let this suffice you: It is fit that the Government of God be suited to the nature of the reasonable subject. And Reason is made to apprehend more than we see, and by reaching beyond sense, to carry us to seek things higher and better than sense can reach. If you would have a man understand no more than he sees, you would almost equalize a wise man and a fool, and make a man too like a beast. Even in worldly matters, you will venture upon the greatest cost and pains for the things that you see not, nor ever saw. He that hath a journey to go to a place that he never saw, will not think that a sufficient reason to stay at home. The Mer­chant will sail 1000 miles to a Land, and for a Commodity, that he never saw. Must the Husbandman see the Harvest before he plow his Land, and sow his seed? Must the sick man feel, that he hath health before he use the means to get it? Must the Souldier see that he hath the victory before he fight? You would take such conceits in worldly matters to be the sym­ptoms [Page 10] of distraction: And will you cherish them where they are most pernicious? Hath God made man for any end, or for none? If none, he is made in vain: If for any, no reason can expect that he should see his end, before he use the means, and see his home before he begin to travel towards it. When chil­dren first go to School, they do not see or enjoy the learning and wisdom which by time and labour they must attain. You will provide for the children which you are like to have be­fore you see them. To look that sight which is our fruition it self, should go before a holy life, is to expect the end before we will use the necessary means. You see here in the govern­ment of the world, that it is things unseen that are the instru­ments of rule, and motives of obedience. Shall no man be restrained from felony or murders, but he that seeth the As­sizes or the Gallows? It is enough that he foreseeth them, as being made known by the Laws.

It would be no discrimination of the good and bad, the wise and foolish, if the reward and punishment must be seen? what thief so mad as to steal at the Gallows, or before the Judge? The basest habits would be restrained from acting, if the re­ward and punishment were in fight. The most beastly drun­kard would not be drunk; the filthy fornicator would forbear his lust; the malicious enemy of godliness would forbear their calumnies and persecutions, if Heaven and Hell were open to their sight. No man will play the adulterer in the face of the Assembly: The chast and unchast seem there alike: And so they would do if they saw the face of the most dreadful God. No thanks to any of you all to be godly if Heaven were to be presently seen? or to forbear your sin, if you saw Hell fire, God will have a meeter way of tryal: You shall believe his promises, if ever you will have the benefit, and believe his threatnings, if ever you will escape the threatned evil.

CHAP. 2. Some Uses.

Ʋse 1. THis being the nature and use of Faith, to appre­hend things absent as if they were present, and things unseen, as if they were visible before our eyes; you may hence understand the nature of Christianity, and what it is to be a true Believer. Verily, it is another matter than the dreaming, self-deceiving world imagineth. Hypocrites think that they are Christians indeed, because they have entertained a super­ficial opinion, that there is a Christ, an immortality of souls, a Resurrection, a Heaven and a Hell; though their lives bear witness, that this is not a living, and effectual faith; but it is their sensitive faculties and interest that are predominant, and are the byas of their hearts. Alas, a little observation may tell them, that notwithstanding their most confident pretentions to Christianity, they are utterly unacquainted with the Chri­stian life. Would they live as they do, in worldly cares, and pampering of the flesh, and neglect of God and the life to come, if they saw the things which they say they do believe? Could they be sensual, ungodly and secure, if they had a faith that serv'd instead of sight?

Would you know who it is that is the Christian indeed? 1. He is one that liveth (in some measure) as if he saw the Lord: Believing in that God that dwelleth in the inaccessible light, that cannot be seen by mortal eyes, he liveth as before his face. He speaks, he prayes, he thinks, he deals with men, as if he saw the Lord stand by. No wonder therefore if he do it with reverence and holy fear. No wonder if he make lighter of the smiles or frowns of mortal man, than others do that see none higher; and if he observe not the lustre of world­ly dignity, or fl [...]shly beauty, wisdom or vain-glory, before the transcendent incomprehensible light, to which the Sun it self is darkness. When he awaketh he is still with God, Psal. 134.8. He sets the Lord alwaies before him, because he is at his right hand, he is not moved, Psal. 16.8. And therefore the life of Believers is oft called, a walking with God, and a walking [Page 12] bef [...]re God, as Gen. 5.22, 24. & 6.9. & 17.1. in the case of Henoch, Noah, and Abraham. All the day doth he wait on God, Psal. 25▪5. Imagine your selves what manner of person he must be that sees the Lord; and conclude that such (in his measure) is the true believer. For by faith he seeth him that is invisible (to the eye of sense) and therefore can forsake the glory and pleasures of the world, and feareth not the wrath of Princes, as it's said of Moses, Heb. 11.27.

2. The Believer is one that liveth on a Christ whom he ne­ver saw, and trusteth in him, adhereth to him, acknowledgeth his benefits, loveth him, and r [...]joyceth in him, as if he had seen him with his eyes. This is the faith which Peter calls more precious than perishing gold; that maketh us love him whom we have not seen, and in whom th [...]ugh now we see him not, yet believing we rejoyce, with unspeakable and glorious joy, 1 Pet. 1.8. Christ dwelleth in h [...]s heart by faith; not only by his Spirit; but objectively; as our dearest absent friend, doth dwell in our estimation and affection, Ephes. 3.17. O that the mi­serable Infidels of the world, had the eyes, the hearts, the ex­periences of the true believer! Then they that with Thomas tell those that have seen him, [Except I may see and feel, I will not believe] will be forced to cry out, [My Lord and my God,] Joh. 20.25, &c.

3. A Believer is one that judgeth of the man by his invisible inside, and not by outward appearances with a fleshly worldly judgement. He seeth by faith a greater ugliness in sin, than in any the most deformed monster. When the unbeliever saith, what harm is it to please my flesh, in ease, or pride, or meat and drink, or lustful wantonness? the believer takes it as the question of a fool, that should ask [what harm is it to take a dram of Mercury or Arsenick?] He seeth the vicious evil, and foreseeth the consequent penal evil, by the eye of faith. And therefore it is that he pittieth the ungodly, when they pitty not themselves, and speaks to them oft with a tender heart in compassion of their misery, and perhaps weeps over them (as Paul, Phil. 3.18, 19.) when he cannot prevail; when they weep not for themselves, but hate his love, and scorn his pitty, and bid him keep his lamentations for himself; because they see not what he sees.

[Page 13]He seet [...] also the inward beauty of the Saints, (as it shineth forth in the holiness of their lives) and through all their sordid poverty and contempt, beholdeth the image of God upon them. For he judgeth not of sin or holiness as they now appear to the d [...]stracted world; but as they will be judged of at the day which he foreseeth; when sin will be the shame, and holiness the honoured and d [...]sired state.

He can see Christ in his poor despised members, and love God in those that are made as the scorn and off-scou [...]ing of all things, by the malignant unbelieving world. He admireth the excellency and happiness of those, that are made the laughing-stock of the ungodly: and accounteth the Saints the most ex­cellent on earth, Psal. 16.2. and had rather be one of their communion in raggs, than sit with Princes that are naked within, and void of the true and durable glory. He judgeth of men as he perceiveth them to have more or less of Christ. The worth of a man is not obvious to the sense. You see his stature, complexion and his cloths; but as you see not his learning or skill in any Art whatsoever, so you see not his grace and heavenly mind. As the soul it self, so the sinful deformity, and the holy beauty of it, are to us invisible, and perceived on­ly by their fruits, and by the eye of faith, which seeth things as God reveals them. And therefore in the eyes of a true Be­liever, a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth those that fear the Lord, Psal. 15.4.

4. A true Believer doth seek a happiness which he never saw, and that with greater estimation and resolution, than he seeks the most excellent things that he hath seen. In all his prayers, his labours, and his sufferings, it is an unseen Glory that he seeks: he seeth not the Glory of God, nor the glori­fied Redeemer, nor the world of Angels, and perfected spi­rits of the just: but he knoweth by faith, that such a God, such a Glory, such a world as this there is, as certain as if his eyes had seen it. And therefore he provides, he lives, he hopes, he waits, for this unseen state of spiritual bliss, con­temning all the wealth and glory, that sight can reach in com­parison thereof. He believeth what he shall see; and therefore strives that he may see it. It's something above the Sun, and all that mortal eyes can see, which is the end, the hope, the [Page 14] portion of a believer, without which all is nothing to him; and for which he trades and travels here, as worldlings do for worldly things, Matth. 6.20, 21. Col. 3.1. Phil. 3.20.

5. A true Believer doth all his life prepare for a day that is yet to come, and for an account of all the passages of his life, though he hath no [...]hing but the Word of God, to assure him of it. And therefore he lives as one that is hasting to the presence of his Judge; and he contriveth his affairs, and dis­poseth of his worldly riches, as one that looks to hear of it again, and as one that remembreth the Judge is at the door, James 5.9. He rather asketh, [what life, what words, what actions, what way of using my estate and interest, will be sweetest to me in the review, and will be best at last when I must accordingly receive my doom?] than [what is most pleasant to my flesh? and what will ingratiate me most with men? and what will accommodate me best at present? and set me highest in the world?] And therefore it is, that he pittieth the ungodly even in the height of their prosperity; and is so earnest (though it offend them) to procure their re­covery, as knowing that how secure soever they are now, they must give an account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead, 1 Pet. 4.5. and that then the case will be altered with the presumptuous world.

6. Lastly, A true believer is careful to prevent a threatned misery which he never felt; and is awakened by holy fear to flye from the wrath to come, and is industrious to escape that place of torment which he never saw, as if he had seen it with his eyes. When he heareth but the sound of the trumpet, he takes warning that he may save his soul, Ezek. 33.4. The evils that are here felt and seen, are not so dreadful to him, as those that he never saw or felt. He is not so careful and resolute, to avoid the ruine of his estate or name, or to avoid the plague, or sword, or famine, or the scorching flames, or death, or tor­ments, as he is to avoid the endless torments, which are threatned by the righteous God. It is a greater misery in his esteem, to be really undone for ever, than seemingly only for a time, and to be cast off by God, than by all the world; and to lie in Hell, than to suffer any temporal calamity. And therefore he fears it more, and doth more to avoid it; and is [Page 15] more cast down by the fears of Gods displeasure, than by the feelings of these present sufferings. As Noah did for his pre­servation from the threatned deluge, so doth the true Believer for his preservation from everlasting wrath, Heb. 11.7. [By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an Ark, to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteous­ness, which is by faith.] God first giveth warning of the flood: Noah believeth it: not with a lifeless, but a working faith: that first moved in him a self-preserving fear: This fear moveth Noah to obey the Lord in the use of means, and to prepare the Ark; and all this was, to save himself and his house from a flood, that was as yet unseen, and of which in na­ture there was no appearance. Thus doth God warn the sin­ful world, of the day of judgement, and the fire that is un­quenchable; and true believers take his warning; and believing that which they cannot see, by fear they are moved to flye to Christ, and use his means to scape the threatned calamity. By this they become the heirs of that Righteousness which is by faith, and condemn the unbelieving careless world, that take not the warning, and use not the remedy.

By this time you may see that the Life of Faith is quite another thing, than the lifeless opinion of multitudes that call themselves believers. To say [I believe there is a God, a Christ, a Heaven, a Hell,] is as easie as it is common. But the faith of the ungodly is but an uneffectual dream. To dream that you are fighting, wins no victories: To dream that you are eat­ing, gets no strength. To dream that you are running, rid [...] no ground: To dream that you are plowing, or sowing, or reaping, procureth but a fruitless harvest. And to dream that you are Princes, may consist with beggery. If you do any more than dream of Heaven and Hell, how is it that you stir not, and make it not appear by the diligence of your lives, and the fervour of your duties, and the seriousness of your endeavours, that such wonderful unexpressible over­powering things, are indeed the matters of your belief? As you love your souls, take heed lest you take an image of faith to be the thing it self. Faith sets on work the powers of the soul, for the obtaining of that joy, and the escaping of that [Page 16] misery which you believe. But the image of faith in self-de­ceivers, neither warms nor works: it conquereth no difficul­ties; it stirs not up to faithful duty. It's blind, and therefore seeth not God; and how then should he be feared and loved? I [...] seeth not Hell, and therefore the senseless soul goes on as fearlesly and merrily to the unquenchable fire, as if he were in the safest way. This image of faith annihilateth the most potent objects, as to any due impression on the soul. God is as no God, and Heaven as no H [...]aven, to these imaginary Christians. If a Prince be in the room, an image reverenceth him not: If musick and feasting be there, an image finds no pleasure in them. If fire and sword be there, an image fears them not. You may perceive by the senseless neglectful car­riage of ungodly men, that they see not by faith the God that they should love and fear; the Heaven that they should seek and wait for; or the Hell that they should with all possible care avoid. He is indeed the true Believer that (allowing the difference of degrees) doth pray as if he saw the Lord; and speak and live as alwaies in his presence; and redeem his time as if he were to die to morrow, or as one that seeth death ap­proach, and ready to lay hands upon him; that begs and cries to God in prayer, as one that foreseeth the day of judgement; and the endless joy or misery that followeth: that bestirreth him for everlasting life, as one that seeth Heaven and Hell, by the eye of faith. Faith is a serious apprehension, and causeth a serious conversation: for it is instead of sight and presence.

From all this you may easily and certainly infer, 1. That true faith is a Jewel, rare and precious: and not so common as nominal careless Christians think. What say they, Are we not all believers? will you make Infidels of all that are not Saints? are none Christians, but those that live so strictly? Answer, I know they are not Infidels by profession: but what they are indeed, and what God will take them for, you may soon perceive, by comparing the description of faith, with the inscription legible on their lives. It's common to say, I do believe: but is it common to find men, pray and live as those that do believe indeed? It is both in works of charity and of piety, that a living faith will shew it self. I will not therefore contend about the name: If you are ungodly, unjust, or [Page 17] uncharitable, and yet will call your selves Believers, you may keep the name, and see whether it will save you. Have you forgotten how this case is determined by the holy Ghost him­self, James 2.14, &c. What doth it profit my Brethren, if a man say, he hath faith, and hath not works? Can faith save him? Faith if it hath not works is dead, being alone. Thou believest that there is one God: thou dost well: the Devils also believe and tremble. If such a belief be it, that thou gloriest in, it's not denyed thee! But wilt thou know, oh vain man, that faith without works is dead? &c. Is there life where there is no motion? Had you that Faith that is instead of sight, it would make you more solicitous for the things unseen, than you are for the visible trifles of this world.

2. And hence you may observe, that most true Believers are weak in Faith. Alas, how far do we all fall short of the love, and zeal, and care, and diligence, which we should have if we had but once beheld the things which we do believe? Alas, how dead are our affections? how flat are our duties? how cold, and how slow are our endeavours? how unpro­fitable are our lives, in comparison of what one hours sight of Heaven and Hell would make them be? O what a comfort­able converse would it be, if I might but joyn in prayer, praise, and holy conference one day or hour, with a person that had seen the Lord, and been in Heaven, and born a part in the Angelical Praises! Were our Congregations composed of such persons, what manner of worship would they perform to God? How unlike would their heavenly ravishing expres­sions be to these our sleepy heartless duties? Were Heaven open to the view of all this Congregation while I am speaking to you, or when we are speaking in prayer and praise to God, imagine your selves what a change it would make upon the best of us in our services! What apprehensions, what affe­ctions, what resolutions it would raise! and what a posture it would cast us all into! And do we not all profess to believe these things, as revealed from Heaven by the infallible God? Do we not say, that such a Divine Revelation is as sure as if the things were in themselves laid open to our sight? Why then are we no more affected with them? Why are we no more transported by them? Why do they no more command [Page 18] our souls, and stir up our faculties to the most vigorous and lively exercise? and call them off from things that are not to us considerable, nor fit to have one glance of the eye of our observation, nor a regardful thought, nor the least affection, unless as they subserve these greater things? When you observe how much, in your selves and others, the frame of your souls in holy duty, and the tenour of your lives to­wards God and man, do differ from what they would be, if you had seen the things that you believe, let it mind you of the great imperfection of faith, and humble us all in the sense of our imb [...]cility. For though I know that the most perfect Faith, is not apt to raise such high affections in degree, as shall be raised by the beatifical vision in the glorified, and as present intuition now would raise, if we could attain it; yet seeing Faith hath as sure an Object and Revelation as sight it self, though the manner of apprehension be less affecting, it should do much more with us than it doth, and bring us nearer to such affections and resolutions, as sight would cause.

Ʋse 2. If Faith be given us to make things to come as if they were at hand, and things unseen as if we saw them, you may see from hence, 1. The reason of that holy seriousness of Believers, which the ungodly want. 2. And the reason why the ungodly want it. 3. And why they wonder at, and distaste and deride this serious diligence of the Saints.

1. Would you make it any matter of wonder, for men to be more careful of their souls, more fervent in their requests to God, more fearful of offending him, and more laborious in all holy preparation for eternal life, than the holiest and pre­cisest person that you know in all the world, if so be that Hea­ven and Hell were seen to them? Would you not rather won­der at the dulness and coldness, and negligence of the best, and that they are not far more holy and diligent than they are, if you and they did see these things? Why then do you not cease your wondering at their diligence? Do you not know that they are men, that have seen the Lord, whom they daily serve? and seen the glory which they daily seek? and seen the place of torments which they fly from? By Faith in the glass of Divine Revelations they have seen them.

[Page 19]2. And the reason why the careless world are not as dili­gent, and holy as Believers, is because they have not this eye of Faith, and never saw those powerful objects, that Be­lievers see. Had you their eyes, you would have their hearts and lives. O that the Lord would but illuminate you, and give you such a sight of the things unseen, as every true Be­liever hath! What a happy change would it make upon you? Then instead of your deriding or opposing it, we should have your company in the holy path: You would then be such your selves, as you now deride. If you saw what they see, you would do as they do. When the heavenly light had ap­peared unto Saul, he ceaseth persecuting, and enquires what Christ would have him to do, that he might be such a one as he had persecuted: And when the scales fell from his eyes, he falls to prayer, and gets among the Believers whom he had persecuted, and laboureth and suffereth more than they.

3. But till this light appear to your darkned souls, you can­not see the reasons of a holy heavenly life: and therefore you will think it hypocrisie, or pride, or fancy, and imagination, or the foolishness of crackt [...]brain'd self-conceited men. If you see a man do reverence to a Prince, and the Prince himself were invisible to you, would you not take him for a mad man; and say that he cringed to the stools or chairs, or bowed to a post, or complemented with his shadow? If you saw a mans action in eating and drinking, and see not the meat and drink it self, would you not think him mad? If you heard men laugh, and hear not so much as the voice of him that gives the jeast, would you not imagine them to be brain-sick? If you see men dance, and hear not the musick; if you see a Labourer threshing, or reaping, or mowing, and see no corn or grass before him; if you see a Souldier fight­ing for his life, and see no enemy that he spends his stroaks upon, will you not take all these for men distracted? Why this is the case between you and the true Believers. You see them reverently worship God, but you see not the Majesty which they worship, as they do: You see them as busie for the saving of their souls, as if an hundred lives lay on it; but you see not the Hell from which they fly, nor the Heaven they seek: and therefore you marvel why they make so [Page 20] much ado about the matters of their salvation; and why they cannot do as others, and make as light of Christ and Heaven, as they that desire to be excused, and think they have more needful things to mind. But did you see with the eyes of a true Believer, and were the amazing things that God hath revealed to us, but open to your sight, how quickly would you be satisfied, and sooner mock at the diligence of a drowning man, that is striving for his life, or at the labour of the City, when they are busily quenching the flames, in their habitations, than mock at them that are striving for the ever­lasting life, and praying and labouring against the ever-burning flames?

How soon would you turn your admiration, against the stupidity of the careless world, and wonder more that ever men that hear the Scriptures, and see with their eyes the works of God, can make so light of matters of such unspeak­able eternal consequence? Did you but see Heaven and Hell, it would amaze you to think that ever many, yea so many, and so seeming wise, should wilfully run into everlasting fire, and sell their souls at so low a rate, as if it were as easie to be in Hell as in an Ale-house, and Heaven were no better than a beastly lust? O then with what astonishment would you think! [Is this the fire that sinners do so little fear? Is this the glory that is so neglected?] You would then see that the madness of the ungodly is the wonder.

Ʋse 3. By this time I should think that some of your own Consciences have prevented me, in the Ʋse of Examination, which I am next to call you to. I hope while I have been holding you the glass, you have not turned away your faces, nor shut your eyes: But that you have been judging your selves by the light which hath been set up before you. Have not some of your consciences said by this time [If this be the nature and use of Faith, to make things unseen, as if we saw them, what a desolate case then is my soul in? how void of Faith? how full of Infidelity? how far from the truth and power of Christianity? How dangerously have I long de­ceived my self in calling my self a true Christian, and pretend­ing to be a true Believer? When I never knew the life of Faith but took a dead opinion, bred only by education, and [Page 21] the custom of the Countrey instead of it; little did I think that I had been an Infidel at the heart, while I so confidently laid claim to the name of a Believer! Alas, how far have I been from living, as one that seeth the things that he profes­seth to Believe?] If some of your consciences be not thus con­vinced, and perceive not yet your want of faith, I fear it is be­cause they are seared, or asleep.

But if yet conscience have not begun to plead this cause against you, let me begin to plead it with your consciences: Are you Believers? Do you live the life of Faith, or not? Do you live upon things that are unseen, or upon the present vi­sible baits of sensuality? That you may not turn away your ears, or hear me with a sluggish sensless mind, let me tell you first, how nearly it concerneth you, to get this Question soundly answered; and then, that you may not be deceived, let me help you toward the true resolution.

1. And for the first, you may perceive by what is said, that saving Faith is not so common, as those that know not the nature of it, do imagine. [All men have not faith,] 2 Thes. 3.2. O what abundance do deceive themselves with Names, and shews, and a dead Opinion, and customary Religion ▪ and take these for the life of faith!

2. Till you have this faith, you have no special interest in Christ. It is only Believers that are united to him, and are his living Members: and it is by faith that he dwelleth in our hearts, and that we live in him, Ephes. 3.17. Gal. 2.20. In vain do you boast of Christ, if you are not true Believers. You have no part or portion in him: None of his special Benefits are yours, till you have this living working Faith.

3. You are still in the state of enmity to God, and unrecon­ciled to him, while you are unbelievers. For you can have no peace with God ▪ nor a [...]ess unto his favour, but by Christ, Rom. 5.1, 2, 3, 4. Ephes. 2.14, 15, 17. And therefore you must come by faith to Christ, before you can come by Christ unto the Father, as those that have a special interest in his love.

4. Till you have this Faith, you are under the guilt and load of all your sins, and under the curse and condemnation of the Law; For there is no Justification or forgiveness, but by Faith, Act. 26.18. Rom. 4, & 5, &c.

[Page 22]5. Till you have this sound Belief of things unseen, you will be carnal minded, and have a carnal end to all your actions, which will make those to be evil, that materially are good, and those to be fleshly that materially are holy: Without Faith it is impossible to please God, Rom. 8.5, 8, 9. Prov. 28.9. Heb. 11.6.

6. Lastly, Till you have this living Faith, you have no right to Heaven, nor could be saved if you die this hour. [Who­ever believeth shall not perish but have everlasting life: He that believeth on him, is not condemned: but he that believeth not, i [...] condemned already: He that believeth on the Son, hath everlast­ing life: and he that b [...]lieveth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abid [...]th on him, Joh. 3.16, 18, 36.

You see, if you love your selves, it concerneth you, to try whether you are true Believers: Unless you take it for an in­different thing, whether you live for ever in Heaven or Hell; it's best for you to put the question close to your consciences betimes. Have you that Faith that serves instead of sight? Do you carry within you the evidence of things unseen, and the substance of the things which you say you hope for? Did you know in what manner this question must be put and deter­mined at judgement, and how all your comfort will then de­pend upon the answer, and how near that day is, when you must all be sentenced to Heaven or Hell, as you are found to be Believers or Ʋnbelievers, it would make you hearken to my counsel, and presently try whether you have a saving Faith.

2. But lest you be deceived in your trial, and lest you mi­stake me as if I tryed the weak by the measure of the strong, and laid all your comfort upon such strong affections, and high degrees, as fight it self would work within you, I shall briefly tell you, how you may know whether you have any faith that's true and saving, though in the least degree. Though none of us are affected to that height as we should be, if we had the sight of all that we do believe, yet all that have any saving belief of invisible things, will have these four signs of faith within them.

1. A sound belief of things unseen, will cause a practical esti­mation of them, and that above all earthly things. A glimpse of [Page 23] the heavenly glory as in a glass, will cause the soul deliberate­ly to say, [This is the chief desirable felicity; this is the Crown, the Pearl, the Treasure; nothing but this can serve my turn. It will debase the greatest pleasures, or riches, or honours of the world in your esteem. How contemptible will they seem, while you see God stand by, and Heaven as it were set open to your view; you'l see there's little cause to envy the prosperous servants of the world; you will pitty them, as miserable in their mirth, and bound in the fetters of their folly and concupiscence; and as strangers to all solid joy and honour. You will be moved with some compassion to them in their misery, when they are braving it among men, and do­mineering for a little while; and you will think, alas poor man! Is this all thy glory! Hast thou no better wealth, no higher honour, no sweeter pleasures than these husks? With such a practical judgement as you value gold above dirt, and jewels above common stones; you will value Heaven above all the riches and pleasures of this world, if you have indeed a living saving faith, Phil. 3.7, 8, 9.

2. A sound belief of the things unseen will habitually in­cline your wills to embrace them, with consent and complacence, and resolution, above and against those worldly things, that would be set above them, and preferred before them. If you are true believers, you have made your choice, you have fix [...] your hopes, you have taken up your resolutions, that God must be your por­tion, or you can have none that's worth the having: that Christ must be your Saviour, or you cannot be saved: and therefore you are at a point with all things else: they may be your Helps, but not your Happiness: you are resolved on what Rock to build, and where to cast anchor, and at what port and prize your life shall aim. You are resolved what to seek and trust to God or none: Heaven or nothing: Christ or none; is the voice of your rooted, stable resolutions. Though you are full of fears sometimes whether you shall be accepted, and have a part in Christ, or no? and whether ever you shall attain the Glory which you aim at; yet you are off all other hopes; having seen an end of all perfections, and read vanity and vexation written upon all creatures, even on the most flattering state on earth, and are unchangeably re­solved [Page 24] not to change your Master, and your hopes, and your holy course, for any other life or hopes. Whatever come of it you are resolved that here you will venture all: Knowing that you have no other game to play, at which you are not sure to lose, and that you can lay out your love, and care, and labour on nothing else that will answer your expectations; nor make any other bargain whatsoever▪ but what you are sure to be utterly undone by, Psal. 73.25. & 4.6, 7. Mat. 6.20, 21. & 13.45, 46. Luke 18.33.

3. A sound belief of things invisible, will be so far an effectual spring of a holy life, as that you will [seek first the Kingdom of God, and its Righteousness,] Mat. 6.33. and not in your Resolutions only, but in your Practices, the bent of your lives will be for God, and your invisible felicity. It is not possible that you should see by faith, the wonders of the world to come, and yet prefer this world before it. A dead opinionative belief, may stand with a worldly fleshly life; but a working faith will make you stir, and make the things of God your business: and the labour and industry of your lives will shew whether you soundly believe the things unseen.

4. If you savingly believe the invisible things, you will pur­chase them at any rate, and hold them faster than your worldly accommodations; and will suffer the loss of all things visible, rather than you will cast away your hopes of the glory which you never saw. A humane faith and bare opinion, will not hold fast when trial comes. For such men take Heaven but for a reserve, because they must leave earth against their wills, and are loth to go to Hell: but they are resolved to hold the world as long as they can, because their faith apprehendeth no such satisfying certainty of the things unseen, as will encou­rage them to let go all that they see, and have in sensible pos­session. But the weakest faith that's true and saving, doth ha­bitually dispose the soul, to let go all the hopes and happiness of this world, when they are inconsistent with our spiritual hopes and happiness, Luke 14.33.

And now I have gone before you with the light, and shew­ed you what a Believer is, will you presently consider how [...] your hearts and lives agree to this description? To know [Whether you live by faith or not] is consequentially to know▪ [Page 25] whether God or the world be your portion and felicity; and so whether you are the heirs of Heaven or Hell. And is not this a question that you are most nearly concerned in? O there­fore for your souls sakes, and as ever you love your everlast­ing peace, Examine your selves, whether you are in the faith or not? Know you not that Christ is in you (by faith) except you be reprobates? 2 Cor. 13.5. will you hearken now as long to your consciences, as you have done to me? As you have heard me telling you, what is the nature of a living, saving faith will you hearken to your consciences, while they impartially tell you, whether you have this life of faith, or not? It may be known if you are willing, and diligent, and impartial: I [...] you search on purpose as men that would know whether they are alive or dead, and whether they shall live or die for ever: and not as men that would be flattered and deceived, and are re­solved to think well of their state, be it true or false.

Let conscience tell you: What eyes do you see by, for the conduct of the chief imployment of your lives? Is it by the eye of sense, or faith? I take it for granted that it's by the eye of Reason. But is it by Reason corrupted and by [...]ssed by sense, or is it by Reason elevated by faith? What Countrey is it that your hearts converse in? Is it in Heaven or Earth? What company is it that you solace your selves with? Is it with Angels and Saints? Do you walk with them in the Spi­rit, and joyn your eccho's to their triumphant praises, and say, Amen, when by faith you hear them ascribing honour, and praise, and glory to the ancient of daies, the Omnipo­tent Jehovah, that is, and that was, and is to come? Do you fetch your Joyes from Heaven or Earth? from things un­seen or seen? things future or present? things hoped for, or things possessed? What Garden yieldeth you your sweetest flowers? Whence is the food, that your hopes and comforts live upon? Whence are the spirits and cordials that revive you; when a frowning world doth cast you into a fainting fit, or swoun? Where is it that you repose your souls for Rest, when sin or sufferings have made you weary? Deal truly, Is it in Heaven or Earth? Which world do you take for your pilgrimage, and which for your home? I do not ask you, where you are, but where you dwell? not where are your persons, but where [Page 26] are your hearts? In a word, Are you in good earnest, when you say, you believe a Heaven and Hell? And do you think, and speak, and pray, and live, as those that do indeed believe it? Do you spend your time, and chuse your condition of life, and dispose of your affairs, and answer temptations to world­ly things, as those that are serious in their belief? Speak out; do you live the life of faith upon things unseen? or the life of sense on things that you behold? Deal truly; for your endless [...]oy or sorrow doth much depend on it. The life of faith is the certain passage to the life of glory. The fleshly life on things here seen, is the certain way to endless misery. If you live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye by the spirit, do mortifie the deeds of the body, ye shall live, Rom. 8.13. Be not d [...]ceived: God is not mocked [...] for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap: For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap everlasting life, Gal. 6.7, 8. If you would know where you must live for ever, know how, and for what, and upon what it is, that you live here.

Ʋse 4. Having enquired whether you are Believers, I am next to ask you, what you will be for the time to come? will you live upon things seen or unseen? While you arro­gate the name and honour of being Christians, will you be­think you what Christianity is? and will you be indeed what you say you are, and would be thought to be? Oh that you would give credit to the Word of God that the God of Hea­ven might be but heartily believed by you! And that you would but take his Word to be as sure as sense? and what he hath told you is or will be, to be as certain as if you saw it with your eyes? Oh what manner of persons would you then be? how carefully and fruitfully would you speak and live? How impossible were it then that you should be careless and prophane? And here that I may by seriousness bring you to be serious, in so serious a business, I shall first put a few suppo­sitions to you, about the invisible objects of faith; and then I shall put some applicatory questions to you, concerning your own resolutions and practice thereupon.

1. Suppose you saw the Lord in glory continually before you; When you are hearing, praying, talking, j [...]sting, eating, [Page 27] drinking, and when you are tempted to any wilful sin: Sup­pose you saw the Lord stand over you, as verily as you see a man! (As you might do if your eyes could see him: for it's most certain that he is still present with you) suppose you saw but such a glimpse of his back parts as Moses did, Exod. 34. when God put him into a cleft of the Rock, and covered him while he passed by (Chap. 33.23.) when the face of Moses shined with the sight, that he was fain to vail it from the people, Exod. 34.33, 34, 35. Or if you had seen but what the Prophet saw, Isa. 6.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. when he be­held the Lord upon a Throne, high and lifted up, &c. and heard the Seraphim cry, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. When he said, Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips! for mine eyes haue seen the King the Lord of Hosts. Or if you had seen but what Job saw, Job 42.5, 6. when he said, [I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor my self and repent in dust and ashes.] What course would you take, what manner of persons would you be after such a sight as this? If you had seen but Christ app [...]ring in his glory, as the Dis­ciples on the holy Mount, Matth. 17. or as Paul saw him at his conversion, when he was smitten to the earth, Acts 9. or as John saw him, Rev. 1.13. where he saith [He was cloathed with a garment down to the foo [...], and girt with a golden girdle; his head and his hairs were white like Wooll or [...], and his eyes were as a flame of fire, and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace, and his voice as the sound of many waters; and he had in his right hand seven Stars, and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged Sword, and his countenance was as the Sun shineth in his strength: and when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead; and he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, fear not, I am the first and the last; I am [...]e that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen, and have the keyes of hell and death.] What do you think you should be and do, if you had seen but such a sight as this? Would you be godly or ungodly after it? As sure as you live, and see one another, God alwaies seeth you: He seeth your secret filthiness, and deceit, and malice, which you think [Page 28] is hid; he seeth you in the dark: the locking of your doors, the d [...]a [...]ing of your curtains, the setting of the Sun, or the putting out of the Candle, doth hide nothing from him that is Omniscient, Psal. 94.8, 9. [Ʋnderstand oh ye brutish among the people! and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall be not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?] The lust and filthiness, and covetousness, and envy, and vanity of your very thoughts are as open to his view as the Sun at noon. And therefore you may well sup­pose him present that cannot be absent; and you may suppose you saw him that still seeth you, and whom you must see. Oh what a change, a glympse of the glory of his Majesty, would make in this Assembly! Oh what amazements, what passio­nate workings of soul would it excite! Were it but an Angel that did thus appear to you, what manner of hearers would you be? how serious? how affectionate? how sensible? And yet are you Believers, and have none of this? when faith makes unseen things to be as seen? If thou have faith indeed, thou seest him that is invisible: thou speakest to him: thou hearest him in his Word: thou seest him in his Works: thou walkest with him: he is the life of thy comforts, thy converse and thy life.

2. Suppose you had seen the matters revealed in the Gospel to your faith, as to what is past and done already? If you had seen the deluge and the Ark, and preservation of one righteous family: the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from Heaven; and the saving of Lot whose righte [...] soul was grieved at their sins, and hunted after as a prey to their ungodly rage, because he would have hindered them from transgressing? Suppose you had seen the opening of the Red Sea, the passage of the Israelites, the drowning of Pharaoh and his Aegyptians; the Manna and the Q [...]ails that fell from Heaven, the flaming Mount, with the terrible Thunder, when God delivered the Law to Moses! what manner of people would you have been? what lives would you have led, after such sights, as all or any one of these? Suppose you had seen Christ in his state of Incar­nation, in his examples of lowliness, meekness, contempt of all the glory and vanities of this world, and had heard him speak his heavenly Doctrine with power and authority, as never man spake. Suppose you had seen him heal the blind, [Page 29] the lame, the sick, and raise the dead; and seen him after all this made the scorn of sinners, buffeted, spit upon, when they had crowned him with thorns, and arrayed him gorgeously in scorn; and then nailed between malefactors on a Cross, and pierced, and die a shameful death, and this for such as you and I. Suppose you had seen the Sun darkned without any ecclipse, the Vail of the Temple rent, the Earth tremble; the Angels terrifying the Keepers, and Christ rise again! Suppose you had been among the Disciples when he appeared in the midst of them, and with Thomas, had put your fingers into his wounded side: and had seen him walking on the waters, and at last seen him ascending up to Heaven. Suppose you had seen when the Holy Ghost came down on the Disciples in the similitude of cloven tongues, and had heard them speak in the various languages of the Nations, and seen the variety of Miracl [...]s, by which they convinced the unbelieving world: What persons would you have been? what lives would you have led, if you had been eye-witnesses of all these things? And do you not profess to believe all this? and that these things are as certain truths, as if you had seen them? why then doth not your belief affect you, or command you more? why doth it not do what sight would do, in some good mea­sure, if it were but a lively saving faith indeed that serveth instead of sense? Yea I must tell you, Faith must do more with you, in this case, than the sight of Christ alone, could do, or the sight of his Miracles did on most. For many that saw him, and saw his works, & heard his Word, yet perished in their unbelief.

3. Suppose you saw the everlasting Glory which Christ hath purchased and prepared for his Saints: That you had been once with Paul, rapt up into the third Heavens, and seen the things that are unutterable: would you not after that have rather lived like Paul, and undergone his sufferings and con­tempt, than to have lived like the brain-sick brutish world? If you had seen what Stephen saw before his death, Acts 7.55, 56. the Glory of God, and Christ standing at his right hand; If you had seen the thousands and millions of holy glorious spi­rits, that are continually attending the Majesty of the Lord; If you had seen the glorified spirits of the just, that were once in flesh, despised by the blind ungodly world, while they [Page 30] waited on God in faith, and holiness, and hope, for that bles­sed Crown which now they were: If you had felt one mo­ment of their joyes; if you had seen them shine as the Sun in glory, and made like unto the Angels of God; if you had heard them sing the song of the Lamb, and the joyful Halle­lujahs, and praise to their eternal King: what would you be, and what would you resolve on after such a sight as this? If the rich man Luke 16. had seen Lazarus in Abrahams bosom in the midst of his bravery, and honour, and feasting, and other sensual delights, as afterwards he saw it when he was tormented in the flames of Hell, do you think such a sight would not have cooled his mirth and jollity, and helpt him to understand the nature and value of his earthly felicity; and have proved a more effectual argument than a despised Preachers words? at least to have brought him to a freer ex­ercise of his Reason, in a sober consideration of his state and waies? Had you seen one hour what Abraham, David, Paul, and all the Saints now see, while sin and flesh doth keep us here in the dark, what work do you think your selves it would make upon your hearts and lives?

4 Suppose you saw the face of Death, and that you were now lying under the power of some mortal sickness, Physi­cians having forsaken you, and said, There is no hope: Your friends weeping over you, and preparing your winding sheet and coffin, digging your graves, and casting up the skulls, and bones, and earth, that must again be cast in to be your covering and company: Suppose you saw a Messenger from God to tell you that you must die to morrow; or heard but what one of your predecessors heard, Luke 12.20. Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee: then whose shall these things be that thou hast provided?] How would such a Mes­sage work with you? would it leave you as you are? If you heard a voice from God this night in your chamber in the dark, telling you, that this i [...] the last night that you shall live on earth, and before to morrow your souls must be in another world, and come before the dreadful God: what would be the effect of such a Message? And do you not verily believe that all this will very shortly be? Nay, do you not know without believing, that you must die, and leave your worldly glory? [Page 31] and that all your pleasures and contents on earth, will be as if they had never been, (and much worse!) O wonderful! that a change so sure, so great, so near, should no more affect you, and no more be fore-thought on, and no more prepared for! and that you be not awakened by so full and certain a fore-knowledge, to be in good sadness for eternal life, as you seem to be when death is at hand!

5. Suppose you saw the great and dreadful day of Judge­ment, as it i [...] described by Christ himself in Matth. 25. [When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy Angels with him, and shall sit upon his glorious Throne, and all Nations shall be gathered before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as a Shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats, and shall set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left.] v. 31, 32, 33. and shall sentence the righteous to eternal life, and the rest into everlasting punishment. If you did now behold the glory and terrour of that great appearance, how the Saints will be magnified, and rejoyce, and be justified against all the accusations of Satan, and calumnies of wicked men; and how the ungodly then would fain deny the words and deeds that now they glory in; and what horrour and confusion will then overwhelm those wretched souls, that now out-face the Messengers of the Lord? Had you seen them trembling before the Lord, that now are braving it out in the pride and arro­gancy of their hearts: Had you heard how then they will change their tune, and wish they had never known their sins: and wish they had lived in greater holiness than those whom they derided for it: What would you say, and do, and be, af­ter such an amazing fight as this? Would you sport it out in sin as you have done? Would you take no better care for your salvation? If you had seen those sayings out of the holy Ghost fulfilled. Jude 14, 15.2 Thes. 1.7, 8, 9. [When the Lord Je­sus shall be revealed from Heaven with his mighty Angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be pu­nished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.] What mind do you think you should be of? What course would you take, if you had but seen this dreadful day? Could you go on to think, and [Page 32] speak, and live as sensually, stupidly and negligently as now you do? 2 Pet. 3.10, 11, 12. [The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the bravens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent beat; the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up: Is it possible soundly to believe such a day, so sure, so near, and no more re­gard it, nor make ready for it, than the carel [...]ss and ungodly do?

6. Suppose at that day you had heard the Devil accusing you of all the sins that you have committed; and set them out in the most odious aggravations, and call for justice against you to your Judge: If you heard him pleading all those sins against you that now he daily tempts you to commit, and now maketh you believe are harmless, or small inconsiderable things: If you heard him saying, At such a time this sinner refused grace, neglected Christ, despised Heaven, and preferred Earth: at such a time he derided godliness, and made a mock of the ho­ly Word and Counsels of the Lord: at such a time he pro­phaned the name of God, he coveted his neighbours wealth; he cherished thoughts of envy or of lust; he was drunk, or gluttonous, or committed fornication, and he was never tho­rowly converted by renewing grace, and therefore he is an heir of H [...]ll, and belongs to me: I ruled him, and I must have him.] What would you think of a life of sin, if once you had heard such accusations as these? How would you deal by the next temptation, if you had heard what use the tempter will hereafter make of all your sins?

7. What if you had seen the damned in their misery, and heard them cry out of the folly of their [...]mpenitent careless lives; and wishing as Dives, Luke 16. that their friends on earth might have one sent from the dead, to warn them that they come not to that place of torment (I speak to men that say they are be­lievers) what would you do upon such a fight? If you had heard them there torment themselves in the remembrance of the time they lost, the mercy they neglected, the grace resist­ed, and wish it were all to do again, and that they might once more be tried with another life. If you saw how the world is altered with those, that once were as proud and confident as others, what do you think such a sight would do with you? [Page 33] And why then doth the believing of it do no more, when the [...]h [...]ng is certain?

8. Once more; suppose that in your temptations you saw the tempter appearing to you, and pleading with you as he doth by his inward suggestions, or by the mouths of his in­struments. If you saw him, and heard him h [...]ssing you on to sin, perswading you to gluttony, drunkenness, or unclean­ [...]ess? If the Devil appeared to you, and led you to the place of lust, and offered you the harlot, or the cup of excess and urged you to swear, or curse, or ra [...]l, or scorn at a holy life; would not the sight of the Angler ma [...] his g [...]me, and [...] your cou­rage, and spoil your sport, and turn your stom [...]chs? would you be drunk, or filthy, if you saw him stand by you? Think on it the next t [...]me you are tempted. Stout men have been apaled by such a sight. And do you not believe that it's he in­deed that tempteth you? As sure as if your eyes beh [...]ld h [...]m, [...]t's he that prompteth men to [...]er at god [...]iness, and puts your wanton ribbald speeches, and oaths, and curses into yo [...]r mouths: He is the Tutor of the enemies of grace, that teach­eth them doc [...]è del [...]rare, ingeniosè insanire, ingeniously to quar­rel with the way of life, and learnedly to confute the arguments that would have saved them; and subtilly to dispute them­selves out of the hands of mercy, and gallantly to scorn to stoop to Christ, till there be no remedy; and with plausible eloquence to commend the plague and sickness of their souls; and irrefrag [...]bly maintain it, that the way to Hell will lead to Heaven; and to justifie the sins that will condemn them; and honourably and triumphantly to overcome their friends, and to serve the Devil in mood and fig [...]re, and valiantly to cast themselves into Hell, in despite of all the laws and reproofs of God or man that would have hindered them. It being most certain that this is the D [...]vils work, and you durst not do it if he moved you to it with open face, how dare you do it when faith would assure you, that it's as veri [...]y he, as if you saw him?

More distinctly, answ [...]r these following Questions, upon the foregoing suppositions.

Q [...]est. 1. If you saw but what you say you do believe, would you not be convinced that the most pleasant gainful sin, is worse [Page 34] than madness? and would you not spit at the very name of it, and openly cry out of your open folly, and beg for prayers, and love reprovers, and resolve to turn without delay?

Quest. 2. What would you think of the most serious holy life, if you had seen the things that you say you do believe? would you ever again reproach it as preciseness? or count it more ado than needs? and think your time were better spent in play­ing, than in praying; in drinking▪ and sports, and filthy lusts, than in the holy services of the Lord? would you think then that one day in seven, were too much for the work for which you live; and that an hour on this holy day were enough to be spent in instructing you for eternity? Or would you not be­lieve that he is the blessed man, whose delight is in the Law of God, and meditateth in it day and night? Could you plead for sensuality or ungodly negligence, or open your mouths against the most serious holiness of life, if Heaven and Hell stood open to your view?

Quest. 3. If you saw but what you say you do believe, would you ever again be offended with the Ministers of Christ, for the plainest reproofs, and closest exhortations, and strictest pre­cepts and discipline, that now are disrelished so much? Or ra­ther, would you not desire them to help you presently to try your states, and to search you to the quick, and to be more so­licitous to save you than to please you? The patient that will take no bitter medicine in time, when he sees he must die, would then take any thing. When you see the things that now you hear of, then you would do any thing: O then might you have these daies again, Sermons would not be too plain or long: In season and out of season would then be allowed of. Then you would understand what moved Ministers to be so importu­nate with you for conversion; and whether trifling or serious preaching was the best.

Quest. 4. Had you seen the things that you say you do be­lieve, what effect would Sermons have upon you, after such a sight [...]s this? O what a change it would make upon our preaching, and your hearing, if we saw the things that we speak and hear of? How fervently should we importune you in the name of Christ? How attentively would you hear, and carefully consi­der and obey? we should then have no such sleepy preaching [Page 35] and hearing, as now we have. Could I but shew to all this Congregation, while I am preaching, the invisible world of which we preach, and did you hear with Heaven and Hell in your eye sight, how confident should I be (though not of the saving change of all) that I should this hour teach you to plead for sin, and against a holy life no more? and send you home another people than you came hither. I durst then ask the worst that heareth me, [Dare you now be drunk, or glut­tonous, or worldly? dare you be voluptuous, proud, or forni­cators any more? Dare you go home, and make a jest at piety, and neglect your souls as you have done?] And why then should not the believed truth prevail, if indeed you did believe it, when the thing is as sure, as if you saw it?

Quest. 5. If you had seen what you say you do believe, would you hunt as eagerly for wealth, or honour, and regard the thoughts or words of men, as you did before? Though it's only the Believer that truly honoureth his Rulers, (for none else honour them for God, but use them for themselves;) yet wonder not if he fear not much the face of man, and be no ad­mirer of worldly greatness▪ when he seeth what they will be, as well as what they are. Would not usurpers have been less fear­ed, if all could have foreseen their fall? Even common reason can foresee, that shortly you will all be dust: Methinks I foresee your ghastly paleness, your loathsome blackness, and your ha­bitation in the dark: And who can much envy, or desire the advancements that have such an end? One sight of God would blast all the glory of the world, that's now the b [...]t for mans perdition.

Quest. 6. Would temptations be as powerful, as now they are, if you did but see the things you bear of? Could all the beauty or pleasures in the world, entice you to filthiness or sensuality, if you saw God over you, and judgement before you, and saw what damned souls now suffer, and what believers now enjoy? Could you be perswaded by any company or recreation, to waste your precious time in vain, with such things in your eye? I am confident you would abhor the motion; and enter­tertain temptations to the most honoured, gainful, pleasant sin, as now you would do a motion to cut your own throats, or leap into a coal-pit, or thrust your head into a burning-oven. [Page 36] Why then doth not faith thus shame temptations, if indeed you do believe these things? Will you say, [It is your weakness, you cannot [...]hus [...]] or that [it is your nature to be lustful, revengeful, sensual, and you cannot overcome it.] But if you had a sight of Hea­ven and Hell, you could then resist: you cannot now, b [...]cause you will not: But did you see that which would make you willing ▪ your power would appear. The sight of a Judge or Gallows can restrain m [...]n: The sight of a person whom you reverence, can restrain the exercise of your disgraceful sins; much more would the sight of Heaven and Hell. If you were but dying, you would shake the head at him that would then tempt you to the committing of your former sins. And is not a lively foreseeing faith as effectual?

Quest. 7. Had you seen what you say you do believe, you would not so much stick a [...] sufferings, nor make so great a matter of it, to be reproached, slandered, imprisoned, or con­demned by man, when God and your salvation command your patience. A sight of Hell would make you think it worse than madness, to run thither to escape the wrath of man, or any sufferings on earth, Rom. 8.18.

Quest. 8. And O how such a sight would advance the Re­deemer, and his Grace, and Promises, and Word, and Ordi­nances, in your esteem! It would quicken your desires, and make you fly to Christ for life, as a drowning man to that which may support him. How sweetly then would you relish the name, the word, the waies of Christ, which now seem dry and common things!

Q [...]est. 9. Could you live as merrily, and sleep as quietly in a negligent uncertainty of your salvation, if you had seen these things, as now you do? Could you live at hearts ease, while you know not where you shall be to morrow, or must live for ever? Oh no: Were Heaven and Hell but seen before you, your Consciences would be more busie in putting such questions [Am I regenerate, sanctified, reconciled, justified, or not?] Then any the most zealous Minister is now.

Quest. 10. I will put to you but one Qu [...]stion more. If we saw God, and Heaven, and Hell before us, do you think it would not effectually reconcile our differences, and heal our unbrother­ly exasper [...]tions and divisions? would it not hold the hands [Page 37] that itch to be using violence, against those that are not in all things of their minds! what abundance of vain controversies would it reconcile! As the coming in of the Master doth part the fray among the School-boyes; so the sight of God would fr [...]ghten us from contentions, or uncharitable violence. This would teach us how to preach and pray better than a storm at Sea can do; which yet doth it better than some in prosperity w [...]ll learn: Did we see what we preach of, it would drive us out of our man pleasing▪ self-seeking, sleepy strain, as the cudgel drives the beggar from his canting, and the breaking loose of the Bear did teach the affected cripple to find his legs, and c [...]st away his c [...]utch [...]s. I would desire no better outward help to end our controversies about indifferent modes of wor­ship, than a sight of the things of which we speak: This would excite such a serious [...]rame of soul, as would not suffer Religion to evaporate into formality, nor dwindle into affe­ctation, complement and ceremony: nor should we dare to beat our fellow-servants, and thrust them out of the vineyard, and say, you shall not preach, or pray, or live, but upon these or those unnecessary terms: But the sense of our own frailty, and fear of a severe disquisition of our failings, would make us compassionate to others, and content that necessaries be the matter of our unity, unnecessaries of our liberty, and both of charity.

If sight in all these ten particulars would do so much, should not faith do much, if you verily believe the things you see not?

Alas, corrupted reason is asleep, (with men that seem wise in other things) till it be awakt by faith or sight. And sleeping reason is as unserviceable as folly. I [...] doth no work: it avoids no danger. A Doctor that's asleep, can defend the truth no better than a waking child. But reason will be reason, and con­science will be conscience, when the dust is blown out of mens eyes, and sight and feeling have awakened, and so recovered their understandings; or Faith more seasonably and happily awaked them.

AND O that now we might all consent to addict our [...]selves to the Life of Faith: And

[Page 38]1. That we live not too much on visibles. 2. That we live on the things invisible.

1. One would think that worldliness is a disease that car­ryeth with it a cure for it self; and that the rational nature should be loth to love at so dear a rate, and to labour for so poor a recompence. It is pitty that Gehezi's leprosie, and Ju­das's death, should no more prevent a succession of Gehezi's and Judas's in all generations. Our Lord went before us most eminently in a contempt of earth: His Kingdom was not of this world. No men are more unlike him than the worldlings. I know necessity is the pretence: But it is the dropsie of Cove­tousness that causeth the thirst which they call N [...]c [...]ssity: And therefore the cure is non addere opi [...]us, sed imminuere cupidita­tem: The disease must not be fed but healed. Sa [...]s est divitia­rum non amplius velle. It hath lately been a controversie, whe­ther this be not the golden age? that it is aetas ferrea we have felt; our demonstrations are undeniable: that it is aetas aura­ta, we have sufficient proof: and while gold is the god that rules the most, we will not deny it to be aetas aurea, in the Poets sense,

Aurea nunc vere sunt secula: plurimus auro
Vaenit honos: auro conciliatur amor.

This prevalency of things seen, against thing unseen, is the Idolatry of the world; the subversion of nature; the perversion of our faculties and actions; making the soul a drudge to flesh, and God to be used as a servant to the world. It destroyeth Pie­ty, Justice and Charity: It turneth JƲS by perversion into VIS; or by reversion into SƲI. No wonder then if it be the ruine of societies, when ‘Gens sine justitiâ, sine remige navis in undâ.’ It can possess even Demosthenes with a Squinancy, if there be but an Harpalus to bring him the infection. It can make a Judi­cature to be as Plutarch called that of Rome, [ [...]] impiorum regionem;] contrary to Cicero's description of Sul­pitius, who was [magis justitiae quam juris consultus, & ad [Page 39] facilitatem aequitatemque omnia contulit; nec maluit litium actio­nes constituere, quam controversias tollere.] In a word, if you live by sense and not by Faith, on things present, and not on things unseen, you go backward; you stand on your heads ▪ and turn your heels against Heaven; you cause the beast to ride the man; and by turning all things upside down, will turn your selves into confusion.

2. Consider that it is the unseen things that are only Great and Necessary, that are worthy of a man, and answer the ex­cellency of our nature, and the ends of our lives, and all our mercies. All other things are inconsiderable toyes, except as they are dignified by their relation to these. Whether a man step into eternity from a Palace or a Prison, a Lordship or a Lazarus state, is little to be regarded. All men in the world, whose designs and business take up with any thing short of Heaven, are in the main of one condition, and are but in se­veral degrees and forms in the School of folly. If the intendment of your lives fall short of God, it matters not much what it is you seek, as to any great difference. If lesser children play for pins, and bigger boyes for points and pence, and aged children for lands and money, for titles of honour, and command, What difference is there between these, in point of wisdom and felicity? but that the little ones have more innocent de­lights, and at a cheaper rate, than the aged have, without the vexatious cares and dangers that attend more grave and se­rious dotage. As Holiness to the Lord is written upon all that is faithfully referred to his Will and Glory; so Vanity and Sin, is written upon all that is but made provision for the flesh, and hath no higher end than Self. To go to Hell with greater stir, and attendance, and repute, with greater pomp and pleasure than the poor, is a poor consolation, a pitiful felicity!

3. Faith is the wisdom of the soul: and unbelief and sensuali­ty are its blindness, folly and brutishness. How short is the know­ledge of the wisest unbelievers? They know not much of what is past; (and less they would know, if Historians were not of more credit with them, than the Word of God:) But alas, how little do they know of what is to come? sense tells them where they are, and what they are now doing: but it tells them not where they shall be to morrow. But Faith can tell a true [Page 40] Believer, what will be when this world is ended, and where he shall live to all eternity, and what he shall be d [...]ing, what thoughts he shall be thinking, what affections shall be the temper and employment of his soul: what he shall see, and feel, and enjoy; and with what company he shall converse for ever. If the pretenders to Astrological prediction, could but foretel the changes of mens lives, and the time and manner of their deaths, what resort would be to them? and how wise would they be esteemed? but what is all this to the infallible predictions of the All-knowing God, that hath given us a prospect into another world, and shewed us what will be for ever, more certainly than you know what a day may bring forth.

So necessary is fore-knowledge in the common affairs of men, that without it the actions of the world would be but mad tu­multuary confusion: What would you think of that mans un­derstanding, or how would you value the imployments of his life, that lookt no further in all his actions, than the present hour, and saw no more than the things in hand? What would you call him that so spends the day, as one that know­eth not there will be any night: and so past the night, as one that looked not for that day? that knew not in the Spring there would be an Harvest, or in the Summer, that there would be any Winter: or in Youth, that there would be Age or Death? The silly brutes that have no fore-knowledge, are furnished with an instinct that supplieth the want of it, and also have the help of mans fore-knowledge, or else their kind would be soon extinct. The Bees labour in Summer, as if they foresaw the Winters need. And can that man be wise, that foreseeth not his everlasting state? Indeed he that knoweth not what is to come, hath no true knowledge of what is present: For the worth and use of present things, is only in their re­spect to things eternal: And there is no means, where there is no end. What wisdom then remains in Unbelievers, when all their lives [...] mis-imployed, because they know not the end of life? and when all their actions are utterly debased, by the baseness of [...] brutish ends, to which they serve and are referred. [...] is truly wise or honourable, that is done for small and [...] things. To draw a curious picture of a [Page 41] shadow, or elegantly write the history of a dream, may be an ingenuous kind of foolery; but the end will not allow it the name of Wisdom: And such are all the actions of the world (though called Heroick, Valiant and Honourable) that aim at transitory trifles, and tend not to the everlasting end. A bird can neatly build her nest, but is not therefore counted Wise. How contrary is the judgement of the world to Christs? When the same description that he giveth of a fool, is it that world­lings give of a wise and happy man, Luke 12.20, 21. [One that layeth up riches for himself, and is not rich towards God.] Will you perswade us that the man is wise, that can climb a little higher than his neighbours, that he may have the greater fall? That is attended in his way to Hell with greater pomp and state than others? That can sin more Syllogistically and Rhetorically than the vulgar; and more prudently and grave­ly run into damnation; and can learnedly defend his madness, and prove that he is safe at the brink of Hell? Would you per­swade us that he is wise, that contradicts the God and Rule of Wisdom, and that parts with Heaven for a few merry hours, and hath not wit to save his soul? When they see the end, and are arrived at eternity, let them boast of their Wisdom, as they find cause: We will take them then for more competent Judges. Let the Eternal God be the portion of my soul; let Heaven be my inheritance and hope; let Christ be my Head, and the pro­mise, my security, let Faith be my Wisdom, and Love be my ve­ry heart and will, and patient persevering Obedience be my life▪ and then I can spare the wisdom of the world, because I can spare the trifles that it seeks, and all that they are like to get by it.

What abundance of complaints and calamity would foresight prevent? Had the events of this one year been (conditionally) foreseen, the actions of thousands would have b [...]en otherwise ordered, and much sin and shame have been prevented. What a change would it make on the judgements of the world? how many words would be otherwise spoken? and how many deeds would be otherwise done? and how many hours would be otherwise spent, if the change that will be made by Judge­ment and Execution, were well foreseen? And why is it not foreseen, when it is foreshewn? When the omniscient God, that will certainly perform his Word, hath so plainly [Page 42] revealed it, and so frequently and loudly warns you of it? Is he wise, that after all these warnings will lie down in everlasting woe, and say, [I little thought of such a day: I did not believe I should ever have seen so great a change?]

Would the servants of Christ be used as they are, if the ma­licious world foresaw the day, when Christ shall come with ten thousands of his Saints, to execute Judgement on all that are un­godly? Jude 14, 15. When he shall come to be glorified in his Saints, and admired in all them that do believe, 2 Thes. 1.10. When the Sa [...]nts shall judge the world, 1 Cor. 6.2, 3. and when the ungodly seeing them on Christs right-hand, must hear their sentence on this account [Verily I say unto you, in as m [...]ch as you did it (or, did it not) to one of the least of these (my Brethren) you did it unto me.] Matth. 25. Yet a few daies, and all this will be done before your eyes: but the unbelieving world will not foresee it.

Would malignant Cain have slain his brother, if he had foreseen the punishment, which he calleth afterward intolle­rable, Gen. 4.13. Would the world have despised the preach­ing of Noah, if they had believed the deluge? Would Sodom have been Sodom, if they had foreseen that an Hell from Hea­ven would have consumed them? Would Achan have medled with his prey, if he had foreseen the stones that were his Exe­cutioners and his Tomb? Would Gehezi have obeyed his co­vetous desire, if he had foreseen the leprosie? Or Judas have betrayed Christ, if he had foreseen the hanging himself in his despair? It is fore-seeing Faith that saves those that are saved; and blind unbelief that causeth mens perdition.

Yea present things as well as future, are unknown to foolish Unbelievers. Do they know who seeth them in their sin? and what many thousands are suffering for the like, while they see no danger? Whatever their tongues say, the hearts and lives of fools deny that there is a God that seeth them, and will be their Judge, Psalm 14.1. You see then that you must live by Faith, or perish by folly.

4. Consider that things visible are so transitory, and of so short continuance, that they do but deserve the name of things; being nothings, and less than nothing, and lighter than vanity it self, compared to the necessary eternal Being, whose name [Page 43] is IAM. There is but a few daies difference between a Prince and no Prince; a Lord and no Lord; a man and no man; a world and no world. And if this be all, let the time that is past inform you how small a difference this is. Rational foresight may teach a Xerxes to weep over his numerous Ar­my, as knowing how soon they were all to be dead men. Can you forget that death is ready to undress you? and tell you, that your sport and mirth is done? and that now you have had all that the world can do, for those that serve it, and take it for their part? How quickly can a feaver, or the choice of an hundred Messengers of death, be [...]eave you of all that earth afforded you, and turn your sweetest pleasures into gall, and turn a Lord into a lump of clay? It is but as a wink, an inch of time, till you must quit the stage; and speak, and breath, and see the face of man no more. If you foresee this, O live as men that do foresee it. I never heard of any that stole his winding-sheet, or fought for a Coffi [...], or went to Law for his grave. And if you did but see (as wise men should) how near your Honours and Wealth, and Pleasures do stand unto Eterni­ty, as well as your Winding sheets, your Coffins, and your Graves, you would then value, and desire, and seek them re­gularly and moderately, as you do these. Oh what a fading flower is your strength? How soon will all your gallantry shrink into the shell? Si vestra sunt tollite [...]a vobiscum. Bern. Bu [...] yet this is not the great part of the change. The termi­nus ad quem doth make it greater: It is great, for persons of renown and honour, to change their Palaces for graves, and turn to noisom rottenness and dirt: and their Power and Command into silent impotency, unable to rebuke the poorest worm, that sawcily feedeth on their hearts or faces. But if you are Believers, you can look further, and foresee much more. The largest and most capacious heart alive, is unable fully to conceive what a change the stroak of death will make.

For the holy soul so suddenly to pass from prayer to Angelical praise, from sorrow unto boundless joyes: from the slanders, and contempt, and violence of men, to the bosom of eternal Love; from the clamours of a tumultuous world, to the universal harmony and perfect uninterrupted Love and Peace; O what a blessed change is this; which believing now, we shall shortly feel.

[Page 44]For an unholy unrenewed soul, that yesterday was drowned in flesh, and laught at threatnings, and scorned reproofs, to be suddenly sna [...]cht into another world; and see the Heaven that he hath lost, and feel the Hell which he would not believe: to fall into the gulf of bottomless eternity, and at once to find, that Joy and Hope are both departed; that horrour and grief must be his company, and Desperation hath lockt up the door: O what an amazing change is this! If you think me troublesom for mentioning such ungrateful things, what a trouble wil it be to feel them? May it teach you to prevent that greater trouble, you may well bear this. Find but a medicine against death, or any security for your continuance here, or any prevention of the Change, and I have done: But that which unavoidably must be seen, should be foreseen.

But the unseen world is not thus mutable; Eternal life is be­gun in the Believer. The Church is built on Christ the Reck; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Fix here, and you shall never be removed.

4. Hence followeth another difference: The mutable crea­ture doth impart a disgraceful mutability to the soul that chuseth it. It disappointeth and deceiveth: And therefore the ungod­ly are of one mind to day, and another to morrow! In health they are all for pleasure, and commodity, and honour: and at death they cry out on it as deceitful Vanity: In health they cannot abide this strictness, this meditating, and seeking, and preparing for the life to come; but at death or judgement, they will all be of another mind! Then O that they had been so wise as to know their time: and O that they h [...]d lived as ho­lily as the best! They are now the bold opposers and re­proachers of an holy life: But then they would be glad it had been their own: They would eat their words, and will be down in the mouth, and stand to never a word they say, when sight, and sense, and judgement, shall convince them.

But things unchangeable do fix the soul. P [...]e [...]y is no matter for Repentance. Doth the Believer speak against sin and sin­ners: and for an holy, sober, righteous life? He will do so to the last: Death and Judgement shall not change his mind in this, but much confirm it. And therefore he perse­veres through sufferings, to death, Rom. 8.35, 36, 37. [For this [Page 45] cause we faint not: but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory: While we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen: For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal, 2 Cor. 4.16, 17.

6. Lastly, let this move you to live by a foreseeing Faith, that it is of necessity to your salvation. Believing Heaven, must prepare you for it, before you can enjoy it. Believing Hell, is necess [...]ry to prevent it. Mark 16.16. John 3.18, 36. [The just shall live by Faith; but if any man draw back (or, be lifted up) the Lord will have no pleasure in him. Heb. 10.38. H [...]b. 2.4. Take heed that there be not in any of you an evil heart of unbe­lief, to depart from the living God. Heb. 3.12. And be not of them that draw back to perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. Heb. 10.39. It is God that saith [They shall all be damned that believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness] 2 Thes. 2.10, 11, 12.

May I now in the conclusion more particularly exhort you, 1. That you will live upon things foreseen. 2. That you will promote this life of faith in others, according to your several capacities.

Princes and Nobles live not alwaies: You are not the Rulers of the unmoveable Kingdom; but of a boat that is in an hasty stream, or a ship under sail, that will speed both Pilot and Passengers to the shore. Dixi, estis Dii: at moriemini ut homines. It was not the least or worst of Kings, that said, [I am a stranger vpon earth] Psal. 119.19. Vermis sum, non ho­mo: I am a worm, and no man, Psal. 32.6. You are the grea­ter worms, and we the little ones: but we must all say with Job, ch. 17.13, 14. [The grave is our house, and we must make our beds in darkness: Corruption is our Father, and the Worm our Mother and our Sister.] The inexorable Leveller is ready at your backs, to convince you by unresistible argument, that dust you are, and to dust you shall return. Heaven should be as desirable, and Hell as terrible to you as to others. No man will [Page 44] [...] [Page 45] [...] [Page 44] [...] [Page 45] [...] [Page 46] fear you after death: much less will Christ be afraid to judge you. Luke 19.27. As the Kingdoms and glory of the world were contemned by him in the hour of his temptation; so are they inconsiderable to procure his approbation. Trust not there­fore to uncertain riches. Value them but as they will prove at last. As you stand on higher ground than others, it is meet that you should see further. The greater are your advantages, the wiser and better you should be: and therefore should better perceive the difference between things temporal and eternal. It is alwaies dark where these glow-worms shine, and a rotten post doth seem a fire.

Your difficulties also should excite you; You must go as through a Needles eye to Heaven. To live as in Heaven, in a crowd of business, and stream of temptations, from the con­fluence of all worldly things, is so hard, that few such come to Heaven. Withdraw your selves therefore to the frequent serious fore-thoughts of eternity, and live by faith.

Had time allowed it, I should have come down to some particular instances: As, 1. Let the things unseen be still at hand, to answer every temptation, and shame and repel each motion to sin.

2. Let them be still at hand, to quicken us to duty, when backwardness and coldness doth surprize us. What, shall we do any thing coldly for eternity?

3. Let it resolve you what company to delight in; and what society to be of; even those with whom you must dwell for ever: What side soever is uppermost on earth, you may fore­see which side shall reign for ever.

4. Let the things invisible be your daily solace, and the satisfaction of your souls. Are you slandered by men? Faith tells you, it is enough that Christ will justifie you. O happy day, when he will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and set all strait, which all the false histories, or slanderous tongues or pens in all the world made crooked. Are you frowned on or contemned by men? Is it not enough that you shall ever­lastingly be honoured by the Lord? Are you wronged, oppressed, or trodden on by pride or malice? Is not Heaven enough to make you reparation? and eternity long enough for your joyes? O pray for your malicious enemies, lest they suffer more than you can wish them.

[Page 47]2. Lastly, I should have become on the behalf of Christ, a petitioner to you for protection and encouragement to the heirs of the invisible world. For them that preach, and them that live this life of faith: not for the honours and riches of the world; but for leave and countenance to work in the Vine­yard, and peaceably travel through the world as strangers, and live in the Communion of Saints, as they believe. But, though it be for the beloved of the Lord, the apple of his eye, the people that are sure to prevail and raign with Christ for ever; whose prayers can do more for the greatest Princes, than you can do for them; whose joy is hastened by that which is intended for their sorrow, I shall now lay by any further suit on their behalf.

But for your selves, O use your seeing and fore-seeing facul­ties: Be often looking through the prospective of the pro­mise: and live not by sense on present things; but live as if you saw the glorious things which you say you do believe. That when worldly titles are insignificant words, and fleshly pleasures have an end, and Faith and Holiness will be the marks of honour; and unbelief and ungodliness the badge [...] of perpetual shame, and when you must give account of your Stewardship, and shall be no longer Stewards, you may then by brought by Faith unto Fruition, and see with joy the glo­rious things that you now believe. Write upon your Palaces and goods, that sentence, 2 Pet. 3.11. Seeing all these things shall be dissolved, What manner of persons ought ye [...]o be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for, and hasting to the coming of the day of God!

HEBREWS 11.1.

Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.

CHAP. I. For Conviction.

IN the opening of this Text, I have already shewed, that [it is the nature and use of Faith to be instead of presence and sight; or to make things absent future and unseen, to be to us, as to our Estimation, Resolution and Conversation, as if they were present, and before our eyes: Though not as to the degree, yet as to the sincerity of our acts.

In the handling of this Doctrine, I have already shewed, that this Faith is a grounded justifiable knowledge, and not a fancy, or uneffectual opinion; having for its object the infal­lible Revelation, and certain Truth of God; and not a falshood, nor a meer probability or verisimile. I have shewed how such a Faith will work; how far it should carry us, if its evidence were fully entertained and improved; and how far it doth carry all that have it sincerely in the least degree; and I have shewed some of the moving considerations, that should pre­vail with us to live upon the things unseen, as if they were open to our sight.

I think I may suddenly proceed here to the remaining part of the Application, without any recital of the explication or confirmation, the truth lying so naked in the Text it self.

The Life of Faith, and the Life of Sense, are the two waies [Page 49] that all the world do walk in, to the two extreamly different ends, which appear when death withdraws the veil. It is the ordination of God, that mens own estimation, choice and en­deavours, shall be the necessary preparative to their Fruition. Nemo nolens bonus aut beatus est. Men shall have no better than they value, and chuse, and seek: Where earthly things are highest in the esteem, and dearest to the mind of man, such persons have no higher, nor more durable a portion. Where the heavenly things are highest and dearest to the soul, and are practically preferred, they are the portion of that soul. Where the Treasure is, the heart will be, Matth. 6.21. The sanctify­ing spirit doth lead the spiritual man, by a spiritual Rule, in a spiritual way, to a spiritual, glorious, durable felicity. The sensual part, with the sensual inclination communicated to the corrupted mind and will, doth by carnal reasonings, and by carnal means, pursue and emb [...]ace a present, fading, carnal in­terest: and therefore it findeth and attaineth no more. The fl [...]sh lusteth against the Spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, Gal. 5.17. They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh▪ but they that are after the spirit, the things of the spirit▪ To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace: Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be: So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God. If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his. If we live after the flesh, we shall die: but if by the spirit we mortifie the deeds of the body, we shall live. Rom. 8. to v. 14. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap everlasting life, Gal. 6.7, 8. As a man is, so he loveth and desireth; as he desireth, he seeketh; and as he seeketh, he findeth and possesseth. If you know which world, what riches a man prefers, intends, and liveth for, you may know which world is his inheritance, and whither he is going as to his perpetual abode.

Reason enableth a man to know and seek more than he seeth: And Faith informeth and advanceth Reason, to know, that by the means of supernatural Revelation, that by no other means [Page 50] is fully known. To seek and hope for no better than we know, and to know no more than is objectively revealed, (while we hinder not the revelation) is the blameless imper­fection of a creature, that hath limited faculties and capacities. To know what's Best, and yet to chuse, and seek an inferiour inconsistent Good; and to refuse and neglect the Best, when it is discerned; is the course of such as have but a superficial opi­nion of the good refused, or a knowledge not wakened to speak so loudly as may be effectual for choice; and whose sensuality mastereth their wills and reason, and leads them backward: And those that know not, because they would not know; or hear not, because they would not hear, are under that same dominion of the fl [...]sh, which is an enemy to all knowledge, that is an enemy to its delights and interest. To profess to know good, and yet refuse it; and to profess to know evil, and yet to chuse it, and this predominantly, and in the main, is the description of a self-condemning Hypocrite: And if malignity and opposition of the Truth professed, be added to the Hypocrisie, it comes up to that Pharisaical blindness and obdurateness, which prepareth men for the remediless sin.

Consider then but of the profession of many of the people of this Land, and compare their practice with it, and judge what compassion the condition of many doth bespeak. If you will believe them, they profess that they verily believe in the invisible God; in a Christ unseen to them; in the Holy Spirit, gathering a holy Church to Christ, and imploying them in a communion of Saints: that they believe a judgement to come, upon the glorious coming of the Lord; and an everlasting life of joy or torment thereupon. All this is in their Creed: they would take him for a damnable Heretick that denyeth it; and perhaps would consent that he be burnt at a stake: So that you would think these men should live, as if Heaven and Hell were open to their sight. But O what an Hypocritical Gene­ration are the ungodly! how their lives do give their tongues the lye! (Remember that I apply this to no better men.) It is a wonder that such men can believe themselves, when they say they do indeed believe the Gospel: And shews what a mon­ster the blind deceitful heart of an impenitent sinner is: In good sadness can they think that they truly believe that God is [Page 51] God, and yet so wilfully disobey him? that Heaven is Heaven, and yet prefer the world before it? that Hell is Hell, and yet will venture upon it for a lust, or a thing of nought? What! believe that there is at hand a life of endless joy! and no more mind it! but hate them that set their hearts upon it! Do they believe, that except a man be converted and new born, he shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? as Christ hath told them, Matth. 18.3. John 3.3, 5. and yet never trouble their minds about it, to try whether they are converted and new born, or not? Do they believe God, that no man shall see him without holiness? Heb. 12.14. and yet dare they be unholy? and perhaps deride it? Do they believe that Christ will come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punish­ed with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, 2 Thes. 2.8, 9. and yet dare they disobey the Gospel! Do they take God for their abso­lute Lord and Governour, while they will not so much as meditate on his Laws, but care more what a mortal man saith, or what their flesh and carnal reason saith, than what he saith to them in his holy Word? Do they take Christ for their Saviour, and yet would not be saved by him from their sins, but had rather keep them? Do they take the Holy Ghost for their Sanctifier, while they will not have a sanctified heart or life, and love it not in those that have it? Do they take Heaven for their endless home and happiness? while they neither mind nor seek it, in comparison of the world? And do they take the world for vanity and vexation, while they mind and seek it more than Heaven? Do they believe the communion of Saints, while they fly from it, and perhaps de­test and persecute it? Is light and darkness more contrary than their words and deeds? And is not HYPOCRISIE as visible in their practice, as Christianity in their profession? It is the complexion of their Religion. HYPOCRITE is legibly written in the forehead of it. They proclaim their shame to all that they converse with. When they have said, they believe the life to come, they tell men by your ungodly worldly lives, that they are dissemblers. When their tongue hath loudly said, that they are Christians, their tongue and [Page 52] hand more loudly say, that they are Hypocrites. And when they profess their Faith but now and then, in a lifeless outside piece of worship, they profess their Hypocrisie all the day long: in their impious neglect of God and their salvation; in their carnal speeches; in their worldly lives, and in their enmity to the practice of the same Religion which they profess. Their Hypocrisie is a web, so thin, and so transparent, that it leaves their nakedness open to their shame. They have not Profession enough to make a considerable cover for their unbelief. They hide but their tongues: the rest even, heart and all, is bare.

O the stupendious power of self love! the wonderful blind­ness and stupidity of the ungodly! the dreadfulness of the judgement of God in thus d [...]serting the w [...]lful resisters of his grace! That ever men (in other things of seeming wisdom) should be such strangers to themselves, and so deceived by themselves, as to think they love the thing they hate! and to think that their hearts are set upon Heaven, when they nei­ther love it, nor the way that leadeth to it; but are principal­ly bent another way: that when they ar [...] strangers or enemies to a holy life, they can yet make themselves believe, that they are holy; and that they seek that first, which they never seek; and make that the drift and business of their lives, which was never the serious business of an hour! O Hypocrites! ask any impartial man of reason, that sees your lives, and hears your prayers, whether you pray, and live, like men that believe that Heaven or Hell must be their reward! Ask your families, whether they perceive by your constant prayer, and diligent endeavours, and holy conversations, that your hearts are set on a life to come! It was a cutting answer of a late Apostate, to one that told him of the unreasonableness of Infidels that denyed the life to come; saith he, There's none in the world so unreasonable as you Christians, that believe that there is an endless life of joy or misery to come, and do no more to obtain the one, and escape the other. Did I believe such a life as this, I would think all too little that I could do or suffer, to make it sure. Who sees the certainty, greatness, and eternity of the Crown of Life, in the resolvedness, fervency, and constancy of your holy labour! You take up with the picture of Sermons and Prayers, [Page 53] and with the name of Christianity and holy obedience: A little more Religion you will admit, than a Parrot may learn, or a Poppet may exercise. Compare your care, and labour, and cost, for Heaven, and for this world. That you believe the flattering deceitful world, we see by your daily solicitousness about it: You seek it; you strive for it; you fall out with all that stand in your way; you are at it daily, and have never done: But who can see, that you seriously believe another world? you talk idly, and wantonly, and proudly by the hours; but you talk of Heaven and holiness but by the mi­nutes: You do not turn the glass when you go to your unne­cessary recreations, or your vain discourse; or at least, you can stay when the glass is run: But in hearing the most ne­cessary truths of God, or in praying for everlasting life, the hour seems long to you; and the tedious Preacher is your weariness and molestation. You do not feast and play by the glass; but if we do not preach and pray by it exactly, but exceed our hour, though in speaking of, and for eternity, we are your burden, and put your languid patience to it, as if we were doing you some intollerable wrong.

In worldly matters, you are weary of giving, but seldom of receiving: you grudge at the asker, but seldom at the giver. But if the gift be spiritual and heavenly, you are a weary to hear talk of it, and expostulate the case with him that of­fereth it: and he must shew by what authority he would do you good! If by serious holy conference he would fur­ther your preparations for the life to come, or help you to make sure of life eternal, he is examined what power he hath to meddle with you, and promote your salvation: And per­haps he is snapp [...]shly told, he is a busie, sawcy fellow, and you bid him meddle with his own matters, and let you speed as you can, and keep his compassion and charity for himself; you give him no thanks for his undesired help. The most laborious faithful servant you like best, that will do you the most work, with greatest skill, and care, and diligence: But the most laborious faithful instructer and watchman for your souls, you most ungratefully vilifie, as if he were more busie and precise than needs, and were upon some unprofitable work; and you love a superficial hypocritical Ministry, that [Page 54] teacheth you but to complement with Heaven, and leads you such a dance of comical, outside, hypocritical worship, as is agreeable to your own hypocrisie: And thus when you are mocking God, you think you worship him, and merit Hea­ven by the abuse. Should a M [...]nister or other friend be but half as earnest with you, for the life of your immortal souls, as you are your selves for your estates, or friends, or lives in any danger, you would take them for Fanaticks, and perhaps do by them as his carnal friends did once by Christ, Mark 3.21. that went out to lay hold on him, and said, He is be­side himself.] For trifles you account it wisdom to be serious: but for everlasting things, you account it folly, or to be more busie and solici [...]ous than needs. You can believe an act of pardon and indempnity from man; when as you are little so­licitous about a pardon from God, to whose Justice you have forfeited your souls: and if a man be but earnest in begging his pardon, and praying to be saved from everlasting misery, you scorn him, because he does it without book, and say, he whines, or speaks through the nose; forgetting that we shall have you one of these daies, as earnest in vain, as they are that shall prevail for their salvation; and that the terrible approach of death and judgement, shall teach you also to pray without book, and cry, Lord, Lord, open to us, when the door is shut, and it's all too late, Mat. 25.11.

O Sirs, had you but a lively, serious foreseeing faith; that openeth Heaven and Hell as to your sight, what a cure would it work of this Hypocrisie!

1. Such a sight would quicken you from your sloth, and put more life into your thoughts, and words, and all that you attempt for God.

2. Such a sight would soon abate your pride, and humble you before the Lord, and make you see how short you are of what you should be.

3. Such a sight would dull the edge of your covetous desires, and shew you that you have greater things to mind, and another kind of world than this to seek.

4. Such a sight would make you esteem the temptations of mens reports, but as the shaking of a leaf, and their allurements and threats as impertinent speeches, that would cast a feather [Page 55] or a fly into the ballance against a mountain, or against the world.

5. Such a sight would allay the itch of lust, and quench the drunkards insatiable thirst, and turn your gulosity into mo­deration and abstinence; and acquaint you with a higher sort of pleasures, that are durable, and worthy of a man.

6. Such a sight would cure your desire of pastime, and shew you that you have no time to spare, when all is done that necessity and everlasting things require.

7. Such a sight would change your relish of Gods Ordi­nances, and esteem of Ministers, and teach you to love and savour that which is spiritual and serious, rather than hypo­critical strains and shews: It would teach you better how to judge of Sermons and of Prayers, than unexperienced minds will ever do.

8. Such a sight would cure your malignity against the waies, and diligent servants of the Lord; and instead of op­posing them, it would make you glad to be among them, and fast, and pray, and watch, and rejoyce with them, and better to understand what it is to believe the communion of Saints.

In a word, did you but see what God reveals, and Saints believe, and must be seen, I would scarce thank you to be all as serious and solicitous for your souls, as the holiest man alive; and presently to repent and lament the folly of your negligence and delaies, and to live as men that know no other work to mind, in comparison of that which extendeth to eternity. I would scarce thank the proudest of you all, to lie down in the dust, and in sackcloth and ashes, with tears and cryes, to beg the pardon of those sins, which before you felt no weight in. Nor the most sensual wretch, that now sticks so close to his ambition, covetousness and lust, that he saith, he cannot leave them, to spit them out as loathsome bit­terness, and be ashamed of them as fruitless things. You would then say to the most godly, that now seem too precise, [O why do you not make more haste, and lay hold on Heaven with greater violence! why do you pray with no more fer­vency, and bear witness against the sins of the world with no more undaunted courage and resolution; and why do you [Page 56] not more freely lay out your time, and strength, and wealth, and all that you have on the work of God? Is Heaven worth no more ado than this? Can you do no more for an endless life, and the escaping of the wrath to come? Shall worldlings over-do you?] These would be your thoughts on such a sight.

CHAP. II. Ʋse of Exhortation.

WHat now remains but that you come into the light and beg of God, as the Prophet for his servant, 2 King 6.17. to open your eyes, that you may see the things that would do so much [That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of revelation, in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the Saints, Ephes. 1.17, 18.] O set those things continually before your eyes, that must for­ever be before them! Look seriously into the infallible word; and whatsoever that fore-tells, believe it as if it were come to pass. The unbelief of Gods threatnings, and penal Laws, is the perdition of souls, as well as the unbelief of Promises. God giveth not false fire, when he dischargeth the Canons of his terrible comminations: If you fall not down, you shall find that the lightening is attended with the thunder, and execu­tion will be done before you are aware. If there were any doubt of the things unseen, yet you know it is past all doubt, that there's nothing else that's durable and worthy of your estima­tion and regard: You must be Knights and Gentlemen but a little while: speak but a few words more, and you'l have spoke your last. When you have slept a few nights more, you must sleep till the Resurrection awake you (as to the flesh.) Then where are your pleasant habitations and contents? your honours and attendance? Is a day that is spent, or a life that is [...]xtinct, any thing, or nothing? Is there any sweetness in a feast that was eaten, or drink that was drunk, or time that [Page 57] was spent in sports and mirth, a year ago? Certainly a known vanity should not be preferred before a probable endless joy: But when we have certainty as well as excellency and eter­nity, to set against certain, transitory vanity, what room is left for further deliberation? whether we should prefer the Sun before a squib, or a flash of lightening that suddenly leaves us in the dark, one would think should be an easie question to resolve.

(Up then, and work while it is day: and let us run and strive with all our might. Heaven is at hand as sure as if you saw it. You are certain you can be no losers by the choice. You part with nothing, for all things: you escape the tearing of your heart, by submitting to the scratching of a bryer: You that will bear the opening of a vein, for the cure of a Feaver, and will not forbear a necessary Journey for the bark­ing of a Dog, or the blowing of the wind: O leap not into Hell to scape the stinking breath of a scorner! Part not with God, with Conscience, and with Heaven, to save your purses or your flesh. Chuse not a merry way to misery, before a prudent sober preparation for a perfect everlasting joy. You would not prefer a merry cup before a Kingdom. You would let go a l [...]sser delight or commodity for a greater here: Thus a greater sin can forbid the exercise of a less: And shall not endless joy weigh down a brutish lust or pleasure?

If you love pleasure, take that which is true, and full, and durable. For all that he calleth you to Repentance and Mortifi­cation, and necessary strictness, there is none that's more for your pleasure and delight than God: or else he would not of­fer you the rivers of pleasure that are at his right hand; nor himself to be your perpetual delight. If you come into a room where are variety of pictures, and one is gravely reading or meditating; and another with a cup or harlot in his hand, is profusely laughing, with a gaping grining mouth; would you take the latter or the former to be the picture of a wise and happy man? Do you approve of the state of those in Heaven? and do you like the way that brought them thither? If not, why speak you of them so honourably? and why would you keep holy-daies in remembrance of them? If you do; ex­amine the sacred records, and see whether the Apostles and [Page 58] others that are now honoured as glorified Saints, did live as you do, or rather as those that you think are too precise? Did they spend the day in feasting and sports, and idle talk? Did they swagger it out in pride and wealth, & hate their brethren that were not in all things of their conceits? Did they come to Heaven by a worldly, formal, hypocritical, ceremonious Religion? or by faith, and love, and self-denial, and unwea­ried labouring for their own and other mens salvation, while they became the wonder and the scorn of the ungodly, and as the off-scouring and refuse of the world? Do you like holi­ness, when it is for from you? in a dead man, that never troubled you with his presence or reproofs, or in a Saint in Heaven, that comes not near you? Why then do you not like it for your selves? If it be good, the nearer the better. Your own health, and your own wealth, do comfort you more than another mans: And so would your own holiness, if you had it. If you would speed as they that are now beholding the face of God, believe, and live, and wait, as they did. And as the righteous God did not forget their work and labour of love for his Name; so he will remember you with the same re­ward, if you shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end; and be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the Promises, Heb. 6.10, 11, 12.

O did you but see what they now enjoy, and what they see, and what they are, and what they do; you would never sure scorn or persecute a Saint more? If you believe, you see, though not as they, with open face. If you believe not, yet it is not your unbelief, that shall make Gods Word of none effect, Rom. 3.3. God will be God if you be Atheists. Christ will be Christ if you be Infidels. Heaven will be Heaven if you by despising it go to Hell. Judgement sleepeth not when you sleep: I'ts coming as fast when you laugh at it, or question it, as if your eyes were open to foresee it. If you would not believe that you must die, do you think that this would delay your death one year or hour? If ten or twenty years time more be allotted you, it passeth as swiftly, and death and judgement come as surely, if you spend it in voluptuousness, and unbelief, as if you watcht and waited for your change.

[Page 59]We preach not to you Ifs and-Ands: It is not, perhaps there is a Heaven and Hell: But as sure as you are here, and must anon go hence, you must as shortly quit this world, and take up your abode in the world that's now to us invisible. And no tongue can express how sensible you will then be of the things that you will not now be made sensible of. O then with what a dreadful view will you look before you and be­hind you! Behind you, upon Time, and say, It is gone, and ne­ver will return: and hear conscience ask you, How you spent it, and what you did with it? Before you upon Etern [...]ty, and say, It is come; and to the ungodly will be an Eternity of woe. What a peal will conscience then ring in the unbelievers ears? [Now the day is come that I was forewarned of! the day and change which I would not believe! whither must I now go! what must I now do! what shall I say before the Lord for all the sin that I have wilfully committed! for all the time of mercy which I lost! How shall I answer my contempt of Christ! my neglect of means, and enmity to a holy serious life! What a distracted wretch was I, to condemn and dislike them that spent their lives, in preparation for this day! when now I would give a thousand worlds, to be but one of the meanest of them! O that the Church doors, and the door of grace, were open to me now, as once they were, when I refused to enter. Many a time did I hear of this day, and would not be­lieve, or soberly consider of it. Many a time was I intreated to prepare: and I thought an hypocritical trifling shew, would have been taken for a sufficient prep [...]tion! Now who must be my companions! How long must I dwell with woe and horrour! God by his Ministers was wont to call to me, How long, O scorner, wilt thou delight in scorning? How long wilt thou go on impenitently in thy folly? And now I must cry out, How long! How long must I feel the wrath of the Almighty! the unquenchable fire! the immortal worm! Alas, for ever! When shall I receive one moments ease? when shall I see one glimpse of hope? O never, never, never! Now I perceive what Satan meant in his temptations! what [...]in intended! what God meant in the threatnings of his Law! what grace was good for! what Christ was sent for! and what was the design and meaning of the Gospel! and how I should have [Page 60] valued the offers and promises of life! Now I understand what Ministers meant to be so importunate with me for my conversion; and what was the cause that they would even have kneeled to me, to have procured my return to God in time. Now I understand that holiness was not a needless thing; that Christ and Grace deserved better entertainment than contempt; that precious time was worth more than to be wasted idly; that an immortal soul, and life eternal should have been more regarded, and not cast away for so short, so base a fleshly pleasure. Now all these things are plain and open to my understanding: But alas, it's now too late! I know that now to my woe and torment, which I might have known in time to my recovery and joy.

For the Lords sake, and for your souls sake, open your eyes, and foresee the things that are even at hand, and pre­vent these fruitless lamentations. Judge but as you will all shortly judge, and live but as you will wish that you had lived, and I desire no more. Be serious as if you saw the things that you say you do believe.

I know this serious discourse of another life, is usually un­grateful, to men that are conscious of their strangeness to it, and taking up their portion here, are loth to be tormented be­fore the time. This is not the smoothing pleasing way. But remember that we have flesh as well as you, which longs not to be accounted troublesome or precise: which loves not to displease or be displeased: And had we no higher light and life, we should [...]a [...]k as men that saw and felt no more than fight and flesh can reach: But when we are preaching and dy­ing, and you are hearing and dying, and we believe and know, that you are n [...]w going to see the things we speak of, and death will straightway draw aside the veil, and shew you the great amazing sight, it's time for us to speak, and you to hear, with all our hearts. It's time for us to be serious, when we are so near the place where all are serious. There are none that are in jest in Heaven or Hell: pardon us therefore if we jest not at the door, and in the way to such a serious state. All that see and feel are serious: and therefore all that truly believe, must be so too. Were your eyes all opened this hour to see what we believe, we appeal to your own consciences, whether [Page 61] it would not make you more serious than we.

Marvel not if you see Believers make another matter of their salvation, than those that have hired their understand­ings in service to their sense; and think the world is no bigger or better than their globe or map; and reacheth no further than they can kenn [...]. As long as we see you serious about Lands and Lordships, and titles and honours, the rattles and tarrying Irons of the cheating world, you must give us leave (whether you will or no) to be serious about the life eternal. They that scramble so eagerly for the bonds of worldly riches, and devour so greedily the dr [...]ffe of sensual delights, methinks should blush (if such animals had the blushing property) to blame or deride us for being a little (alas, too little) earnest in the matters of God and our salvation. Can you not pardon us if we love God a little more than you love your lusts; and if we run as fast for the Crown of Life, as you run after a feather or a fly? or if we breath as hard after Christ in holy desires, as you do in blowing the bubble of vain-glory? If a thousand pound a year in passage to a grave, and the chains of darkness, be worth your labour; give us leave to belie [...] that mercy in order to everlasting mercy, grace in order to glory, and glory as the end of grace, is worth our labour, and infinitely more.

Your end is narrow, though your way be broad: and our end is broad, though our way be narrow. You build as Miners in Cole-pits do, by digging downwards into the dark; and yet you are laborious: Though we begin on earth, we build towards Heaven, where an attractive loadstone draws up the workmen and the work; and shall we loiter under so great encouragements? Have you considered that Faith is the be­holding grace? the evidence of things not seen? and yet have you the hearts to blame Believers, for doing all that they can do, in a case of such unspeakable everlasting consequence. If we are Believers, Heaven and Hell are as i [...] were open to our sight? And would you wish us to trifle in the sight of Heaven? or to leap into Hell, when we see it as before us? what name can express the inhumane cruelty of such a wish o [...] motion? or the unchristian folly of those that will obey you?

[Page 62]O give us leave to be serious for a Kingdom which by Faith we see! Blame us for this, and blame us that we are not be­side our selves. Pardon us that we are awake, when the thunder of Jehovah's voice doth call to us, denouncing ever­lasting wrath to all that are sensual and ungodly. Were we asleep, as you are, we would lie still and take no heed what God or man said to us.

Pardon us that we are Christians, and believe these things, seeing you profess the same your selves. Disclaim not the pra­ctice till you dare disclaim the profession. If we were Infidels, we would do as the ungodly world: we would pursue our present pleasures and commodity, and say, that things above us are nothing to us; and would take Religion to be the Troubler of the world: But till we are Infidels or Atheists at the heart, we cannot do so.

Forgive us that we are men; if you take it to be pardonable. Were we bruits, we would eat, and drink, and play, and never trouble our selves or others, with the care of our salvation, or the fears of any death but one; or with resisting sensual in­clinations, and meditating on the life to come; but would take our ease and pleasure while we may.

At least forgive us that we are not blocks or stones; that we have life and feeling. Were we insensate clods, we would not see the light of Heaven, nor hear the roaring of the Lion, nor fear the threats of God himself: we would not complain, or sigh, or groan, because we feel not.

If therefore we may have leave to be awake; and to be in our wi [...]s, to be Christians; to be men; to be creatures that have life and sense, forgive us that we believe the living God; that we cannot laugh at Heaven and Hell, nor jest at the threatned wrath of the Almighty. If these things must make us the object of the worlds reproach and malice, let me rather be a reproached man, than an honoured beast; and a hated Chri­stian, than a beloved Infidel; and rather let me live in the midst of malice and contempt, than pass through honour un­to shame, through mirth to misery, and a sensless, to a feeling death. Hate us when we are in Heaven, and see who will be the sufferer by it. If ever we should begin to nod and relapse towards your hypocritical formality, and sensless indifferency, [Page 63] our lively sight of the world invisible, by a serious faith, would presently awake us, and force us confidently to conclude, AƲT SANCTƲS AƲT BRƲTƲS: There is practically and predominantly no Mean. He'l prove a BRƲIT that is not a SAINT.

CHAP. III.

HAving done with this general conviction and exhorta­tion to unbelieving Hypocrites, I proceed to acquaint Believers with their Duty, in several particulars.

1. Worship God as Believers; serve him with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire, Heb. 12.28, 29. A seeing faith, if well excited, would kindle love, desire, fear, and all praying graces. No man prayes well, that doth not well know what he prayes for. When it comes to seeing, all men can cry loud, and pray when praying will do no good. They will not then speak sleepily, or by rote, Fides intuendo, amorem recipit, amorem sus [...]tat: Cor flagrans amore desideria, gemitus, orationes spirat. Faith is the burning-glass which beholding God, receiveth the beams of his communicated love, and inflameth the heart with love to him again; which mounteth up by groans and prayers, till it reach its original, and love for ever rest in love.

2. Desire and use the creature as Believers. Interpret all things as they receive their meaning, from the things unseen: understand them in no other sense. It's only God and the life to come that can tell you what's good or bad for you in the world. And therefore the ungodly that cannot go to Heaven for coun­sel, are carryed about by meer deceits. Take heed what you love: and take heed of that you love. God is very jealous of our love: He sheds abroad his own love in our hearts, that our hearts may be fruitful in love to him, which is his chief delight. By love he commandeth love; that we may suitably move toward him, and center in him. He communicateth so much for the procuring of a little, that we should endeavour to give him all that little, and shed none of it inordi­nately upon the creature by the way. Nothing is great, or [Page 64] greatly to be admired, while the great God is in sight. And it is unsuitable for little things, to have great affections; and for low matters to have a high esteem. It is the corruption and folly of the mind, and the delusion of the affections to exalt a Shrub above a Cedar, and magnifie a Mole-hill above a Mountain; to embrace a shadow or spectrum of felicity, which vanisheth into Nothing, when you bring in the light. The creature is nihil & nullipotens: Nothing should have no interest in us, and be able to do Nothing with us (as to the motions that are under the dominion of the will.) God is All and Al­mighty: And he that is All, should have All, and command All: And the Omnipotent should do All things with us, by his Interest in Morals; as he will do by his force in Naturals. I deny not but we may love a friend: One soul in two bodies will have one mind, and will, and love. But as it is not the bo­dy of my friend, that I love or converse with principally, but the soul; (and therefore should have no mind of the case, the corps, the empty nest, if the bird were flown) so is it not the person, but Christ in him, or that of God which appeareth on him, that must be the principal object of our love. The man is mutable, and must be loved, as Plato did commend his friend to Dionysius: Haec tibi scribo de homine, viz. animante naturâ mutabili: and therefore must be loved with a reserve. But God is unchangeable, and must be absolutely and unchange­ably loved. That life is best that's likest Heaven: There God will be All; and yet even there, it will be no dishonour or displeasure to the Deity, that the glorified humanity of Christ, and the New Jerusalem, and our holy society, are loved more dearly than we can love any creature here on earth: So here, God taketh not that affection as stoln from him, that's given to his servants for his sake, but accepts it as sent to him by them. Let the creature have it, so God have it finally in and by the creature; and then it is not so properly the crea­ture that hath it, as God. If you chuse, and love your friends for God, you will use them for God: not flattering them, or desiring to be flattered by them; but to kindle in each other the holy flame which will aspire and mount, and know no bounds, till it reach the boundless element of love. You will not value them as friends, qui omnia dicta & facta vestra [Page 65] laudant, sed qui errata & delicta amice reprehendunt: Not them that call you good; but them that would make you bet­ter. And you will let them know, as Phocian did Antipater, that they can never use you, & amici [...] & adulatoribus; as friends and flatterers; that differ as a wife and a harlot.

It's hard to love the imperfect creature, without mistakes, and inordinacy in our love: And therefore usually where we love most, we sin most; and our sin finds us out; and then we suffer most: and too much affection is the forerunner of much affliction; which will be much prevented, if Faith might be the guide of Love, and Humane Love might be made Divine; and all to be referred to the things unseen, and animated by them. Love where you can never love too much; where you are sure to have no disappointments; where there is no unkindness to ecclipse or interrupt; where the only errour is, that God hath not all; and the only grief, that we love no more.

Especially in the midst of your entising pleasures, or en­tising employments and profits in the world, foresee the end; do all in Faith, which telleth you, [The time is short; it re­maineth therefore, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoyce, as though they rejoyced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as through they used it not (or not abusing it:) for the fashion of this world passeth away, 1 Cor. 7.29, 30.

3. Imploy your time as becomes Believers. Faith only can acquaint you, what an unconceivable weight doth lye upon this inch of hasty time. As you behave your selves for a few daies, it must go with you in joy or misery for ever: You have your appointed time, for your appointed work. God hath turned the glass upon you; much of it is run out alrea­dy. No price can call back one hour that you have lost. No power or policy can retard its course; Sic fugiunt fraeno non remorante dies. When it comes to the last sand, and time is gone, you'l know the worth of it: You'l then confess it should have seemed more precious in your eyes, than to have been cast away upon things of nought. O precious time! more worth than all the riches of the world! How highly is [Page 66] it valued by all at last? And how basely is it esteemed new by the most? Now it is no more worth with them, than to be sold for unnecessary sports, and ease, and wasted in idleness and vain delights: But then; when it's gone, and all's too late, how loud would they cry, if cryes could call back Time again! O then what a mercy would it seem, if God would try them once again! and trust them but with another life, or with Hezekiah's fifteen years! or but with fifteen daies, or hours, upon such terms of grace, as they held that life which they abused! It amazeth me to observe the lamentable stupidity of the world, how hard they beg for time when they think it is near an end! and how carelesly they let it slide away, when they have strength and faculties to improve it! They are grievously afraid lest death deprive them of it; and yet they are not afraid to deprive themselves of the use and fruit of it, and to cast it away as contemptuously, as if it were an useless thing. I seldom come near a dying man, but I hear him complain of the loss of Time, and wish it were to spend again, that it might be better valued and used. And yet the living will not be warned. O value Time, as wise men, while you have it; and not as miserable fools, when it is gone! If our Lord said, I must do the work of him that sent me while it is day; for the night cometh when no man can work, Joh. 9.4. What need then have such as we to be doing, and make much of time? O let not company, mirth or business, make you forget the work of Time! Can you play, or loiter away your hours, with Eternity in your eye? Get the Sun to stand still, and Time to make a truce with you, and to waste no more of the oyl of life, before you lose another hour.

O what heads, what hearts have all those men, that stand­ing against the verge of an endless world, can think they have any time to spare! Hath God given you too much? If not, why do you lose it? If he hath, why are you loth that he should shorten it? You would not throw away your gold, as contemptuously as you do your time; when an hours time is more valuable than gold. Frown on that company that would rob you of half an hours time. Tell them you have something else to do, than to feast, or play, or talk away your time unnecessarily. O tell them you were not made for [Page 67] nothing. You are in a race, and must not stand still: You are in a fight, and must not cease. Your work is great; much of it is undone. Your enemies are not idle: Death will not stop: the Judge is coming, and still beholds you: and Heaven or Hell are ready to receive our ending life, and tell us how we spent our time: And can you find time to spare? You are not made as Weather-cocks, to stand up on high for men to look at, and by turning about with every wind, to shew them which way it standeth. Turn not your lives into that curse, Levit. 26.20. [You shall spend your strength in vain.] Believe it, Time must be reviewed. The day is near, when every man of you had rather find it in your accounts, [so many hours spent in self-examination, and holy meditation; so many in reading the Word of God; so many spent in fervent prayer; and so many in doing good to others] than [so many spent in need­less sports and pleasures; so many in idleness and vain dis­courses; and so many in the less necessary matters of the world.] Ask those that tempt you to mis-spend your time, whether at death and Judgement they had rather themselves have a life of holy diligence to review, or a life consumed in vanity, and transitory delights.

You will not suffer impertinencies to interrupt your coun­sels, and serious business in the world: You'l tell intruders, that you are busie, and cannot have while to attend them. And are you going into Heaven or Hell, and have but a few daies time of preparation (God knows [...]) and yet can you have while to pass this precious [...] vain? O what would you not give ere long for one of the hours that you now mis-spend? When the oath is performed, Rev. 10.6. [That Time shall be no longer.] Wonderful! that men can find Time for any thing, save that for which they had their time! Non tam bene vivant, sed quamdiu confiderant (inquit Seneca) cum omnibus p [...]ssit contingere ut bene vivant; ut diu nulli.] To live well is both possible and necessary, and yet is disregarded: To live long, is neither possible, nor necessary; and yet is sought by almost all. Incipiunt vivere cum definendum est: immo qui­dam ante desierunt vivere, quam inciperent. Sen. It's unsea­sonable we should begin to live, when we should make an end: but it's most unhappy to have made an end, before they do [Page 68] begin: Pulchrum est (inquit idem) consummare vitam ante mor­tem; & expectare secure reliquam temporis partem.] Do the great work, and then you may comfortably spend the rest in waiting for the conclusion. Yet you have time, and leave, and helps: you may read, and meditate, and pray, if you will: but shortly Time will be no more. O let not Satan insult over your carkasses and tormented souls, and say, [Now it is too late! Now murmure and repent as long as you will! Now pray, and cry, and spare no [...]!] O use that Faith which beholdeth the invisible world, and maketh future things as present, and then delay and loiter if you can: Then waste your hours in idleness or vanity if you dare! either light or fire shall awake you.

4. Suffer as Believers. Fear not the wrath of man; but in­dure as seeing him that is invisible, Heb. 11.27. shew plainly, that you seek a better Country, vers. 14, 16. Read often, Heb. 11, and 12 chapters, Behold the Kingdom prepared and se­cured for you by Christ, and then you will be indifferent which way the wind of humane favour or applause shall fit; or what weather Lunatick influences and aspects shall produce. Such a Faith will make you with Abraham, to turn your back on all, and engage in Pilgrimage for an inheritance after to be received; though he knew not whither he went, (with a distinct particular knowledge) Heb. 11.8. As strangers and travellers, you will not be troubled to leave towns and fields, buildings and [...]alth, and walks behind you, as knowing that you were [...] [...]ass by them, desiring and seeking a better, that is, an heavenly: And you shall lose nothing by this pas­sing by all in the world: For God will not be ashamed to be called your God; and he hath prepared for you a City, Heb. 11.13, 16. Seriously respect the recompence of reward, and it will make you chuse rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches, than the treasures of the world, v. 25, 26. Stephen's sight would cause Stephen's patience. Hold on as Christians; the end is near: Let us run with patience the race that is set before us; looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith; who for the Joy that was set before him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand [Page 69] of the Throne of God: Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied, and faint in your minds, Heb. 12.2, 3.

You may well endure the buffeting, and scorn, if you fore­see the honour. You may well endure the Crown of Thorns, if you foresee the Crown of Glory: You may endure to be forsaken of all, if you see him that will never fail you, nor for­sake you: This foretaste of the Rivers of pleasure with the Lord, will drown the taste of the Vinegar and Gall. Whine not like worldlings that have lost their portion, when you are stript as bare as Job. If you are true Believers, you have All still, for God is All: You have lost Nothing; for Faith hath made the world as Nothing to you: And will you whine and vex your self for Nothing? Can you call it Nothing so frequently and easily in your prayers, and ordinary speech; and do you now recall this; or tell us by your serious grief, that you speak but in hypocrisie and jeast. [Frangitur nemo molestiâ adversorum, qui non capitur delectatione prosperorum. August. Had there been less Idolatrous Love, there would have been less tormenting grief and care. Our life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that we possess. He is not happy that hath them, but he that neither needeth nor desireth them. [Cum in his quae homines eripiunt, optant, custodiunt, nihil inveneris, non dico quod malis, sed quod velis. Sen.] Superfluity doth but burden and break down: The Corn that's too rank lodgeth; and the branches break that are overladen with fruit. [Omnia quae superfluunt nocent: segetem nimia sternit ub [...]tas: rami onere franguntur ad maturitatem non pervenit faecunditas: Idem quo­que animis evenit, quos immoderata prosperitas rumpit; quia non tantum in aliorum injuriam, sed etiam in suam utuntur. Sen.] It's pleasure, and not pain, that is the worlds most deadly sting: It hath never so much hurt us, as when it hath flatter­ed us into delights or hopes. [Et fera & piscis spe aliqua ob­lectante decipitur. Sen.] Hope is the bait; prosperity and plea­sure the net, that souls are ordinarily ensnared by. Men lose not their souls for poverty, but for riches; nor for dishonour, but for honour; nor for sorrow, but for delight.

[Luxuriant animi rebus plerumque secundis.]

[Page 70]The luxuriances of prosperity, bring us so frequently un­der the pruning hook. The surfeits and summer fruits of fulness and carnal contentments and delights, do put us to the trouble of our sicknesses and our Physick. [How hardly shall rich men enter into Heaven?] saith he that well knew who should enter. Saith A [...]gustine [Difficile, immo impossibile est, ut praesentibus & futuris quis fruatur bonis; ut hic ventrem, & ibi mentem implea [...]: ut à deliciu ad delicias transeat; & in utroque seculo primus s [...]t▪ ut in terrâ & in coelo appareat glo­riosus?] The hope is, that [with God such humane impossibi­lities are possible] But it's more terrible, than desirable to be put upon so great a difficulty. Sweet dishes will have wasp [...] and flies; but most of them are drowned in their delights. Saith Boetius of Prosperity and Adversity; I [...]a fallit, haec instruit: illa mendacium specie bonorum mentes fruentium ligat: haec cogi­tatione fragilis faelicitatis absolvit: Itaque illam videas ventrosam fluentem, suique semper ignaram: hanc sobriam, succinctamque ac ipsius adversitatis exercitatione prudentem. A full meal seems best in the eating; but a light meal is better the next day. More thank God in Heaven for adversity, than for prosperity: And more in Hell cry out of the fruit of prosperity, than of adver­sity. Many did never look towards Heaven, till affliction cast them on their backs, so that they could look no other way. [It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes] saith David, Psal. 119.71. [Before I was afflicted, I went astray.] v. 67. [In very faithfulness thou hast afflicted me] v. 75. One sight of Heaven by faith will force you to reckon that the sufferings of this present time are unwor­thy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us] Rom. 8.18. To suffer for Christ and righteousness sake, is but to turn an unavoidable fruitless pain, into that which being voluntary, is the more easie, and hath a great reward in Hea­ven, Matth. 5.11, 12. And to part with that for a Crown of Life, which else we must part with for nothing. Worldly friends, and wealth, and honour, are summer fruit, that will quickly fall. Hungry fowl know where it's harvest [At simul intonuit fugiunt: Those that must dwell with you in Heaven, are your sure and stedfast friends [Caetera fortunae, &c.] Those that are now highest, and least acquainted with the tongue [Page 71] of malice, the unfaithfulness of friends, or rage of enemies, shall shortly say,

[Atque haec exempli [...] quondam collecta priorum:
Nunc mihi sunt propriis, cognita vera malis.]

There is but the difference of an Est and an Erit, between their mirth and endless sorrows: Their honour, and their endless shame; nor between our sorrow and our endless joy. Their final honour is to be embalmed, and their dust to be covered with a sumptuous monument, and their names ex­tolled by the mouths of men, that little know how poor a comfort all this is to the miserable soul. In the height of their honour you may foresee the Chyrurgion opening their bowels, and shewing the receptacles of the treasure of the Epicure, and what remains of the price that he received for his betrayed soul. He cuts out the heart with a [Hae sedes livoris erant: jam pascua vermis] you next tread on his in­terred corps, that's honoured but with a [Hic jacet] [Here lyeth the body of such a one] And if he have the honour to be magnified by fame or history, it's a fool-trap to ensnare the living, but easeth not the soul in Hell. And shall we envy men such a happiness as this? what if they be able to command mens lives, and to hurt those that they hate for a little while? Is this a matter of honour or of delight? A Pestilence is more honourable, if destroying be an honour. The Devil is more powerful (if God permit him) to do men hurt, than the greatest Tyrant in the world: And yet I hope you envy not his happiness, nor are ambitious to partake of it. If Witches were not kin to Devils, they would never sell their souls for a power to do hurt: And how little do tyrannical world­lings consider, that under a mask of Government and Honour, they do the same?

Let the world then rejoyce while we lament and weep: Our sorrow shall be speedily turned into joy; and our joy shall no man [...]hen take from us, Joh. 16.20, 22. Envy not a dying man [...]he happiness of a feather-bed, or a merry dream. You think [...]t hard in them to deny you the liberties and comforts of this [...]fe, though you look for Heaven: And will you be more [Page 72] cruel than the ungodly? Will you envy the trifling commo­dities or delights of earth, to those that are like to have no more, but to lye in Hell when the sport is ended? It is un­reasonable impatience that cannot endure to see them in silks and gallantry a few daies, that must be so extreamly miserable for ever. Your crums, and leavings, and overplus is their All. And will you grudge them this much? In this you are unlike your heavenly Father, that doth good to the just and unjust: would you change cases with them? would you change the fruit of your adversity, for the fruit of their prospe­rity.

Affliction maketh you somewhat more calm, and wise, and sober, and cautelous, and considerate, and preventeth as well as cureth sin. Prosperity makes them (through their abuse) inconsiderate, rash, insensible, foolish, proud, unperswadable. And the turning away of the simple slayeth them, and the pros­perity of fools destroyeth them, Prov. 1.32. It's long since La­zarus's sores were healed, and his wants relieved; and long since Dives feast was ended. O let me rather be afflicted, than rejected; and be a door-keeper in the house of God, than dwell in the tents of wickedness: and rather be under the rod, than turned out of doors. Look with a serious Faith upon Eternity, and then make a great matter of enjoyments or suf­ferings here if you can. Great joyes and sorrows forbid men to complain of the biting of a Flea. Thunder-claps drown a whispering voice.

O what unbelief our impatiency and disquietness in suffer­ings do discover! Is this living by faith? and conversing in another world? and taking God for All, and the world for Nothing? What! make such a do of p [...]verty, imprisonment, injuries, disgrace, with Heaven and Hell before our eyes? The Lord vouchsafe me that condition, in which I shall be nearest to himself, and have most communion with Heaven; be it what it will be for the things of earth. These are the desires to which I'le stand.

To thank God for the fruit of past afflictions, as the most ne­cessary mercies of our lives (as some of us have daily cause) and at the same time to be impatient under present afflictions, or in­ordinately afraid of those to come, is an irrational as well as un­believing incongruity.

[Page 73]Are we derided, slandered, abused by the ungodly? If we repine that we have enemies and must fight; we repine that we are Christs souldires, and that is, that we are Christians. [Quomodo potest imperator militum suorum virtutem probare, nisi habuerit hostem] saith Lactantius. Enemies of God do not use to fight professedly against himself, but against his souldiers [Non qui contra ipsum Deum pugnent, sed contra milites ejus inquit idem] If the remnants of goodness had not been a derision among the Heathens themselves, in the more sober sort, a Heathen would not have said, [Nondum faelix es, si non te turba deriferit: si beatus vis esse, cogita hoc primum contemnere, & ab aliis contemni. Sen.] Thou art not yet happy, if the rabble de­ride thee not: If thou wilt be blessed, learn first to contemn this, and to be contemned of others.] No body will deride or perse­cute us in Heaven.

5. Improve your talents and opportunities in your callings as Believers; especially you that are Governours. God is the origi­nal and end of Government. The highest are but his ministers, Rom. 13.6. This world is but the way unto another. Things seen are for things unseen: And Government is to order them to that end: Especially by terrifying evil doers, and by pro­moting holiness in the earth. The Moral as well as the Na­tural motion of inferiour agents, must proceed from the in­fluence of the superiour. The spring and the end of every action truly good, are out of fight. Where these are not discerned, or are ignorantly or maliciously opposed, the action is vitiated, and tendeth to confusion and ruine. God is the end of all holy actions; and carnal self is the end of sin. If God and self are infinitely distinct; you may easily see that the actions ma­terial [...]y the same, that are intended to such distant ends, must needs be very distant. Nothing but saving Faith and Holiness can conquer selfishness in the lowest of the people. But where the flesh hath more plentiful provision, and self is accommo­dated with the fullest contents of honour and pleasure that the world affords, how difficult a work then is self-denyal! And the reign of the flesh is contrary to the reign of Christ. Where the flesh and visible things bear sway, the enemy of Christ bears sway. The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to his Law, nor can be, Rom. 8.7. And how [Page 74] Christs enemies will receive his Laws, and use his Messengers, and regard his waies and servants, the most of the world have experience to their cost. The interest of the flesh, being con­trary to Christs interest, the competition maintaineth a con­tinual conflict. The Word of God doth seem to be against them: The faithful Ministers that would save them from their sins, do seem to wrong them, and deal too boldly with them. Were it an Elijah, he would be called, The troubler of Israel; and met with an [Hast thou found me O mine enemy] No mea­sure of prudence, knowledge, piety, innocency, meekness or self-denyal, will serve to appease the wrath and displeasure of this carnal enmity. If it would, the Apostles had escaped it: or at least it would not have fallen so furiously upon Christ h [...]mself. Nay, these are the oyl that increase the flame. And Satan hath still the bellows in his hand: He knoweth that if he can corrupt or win the Commander, he can rout the Army, and ruine them with the greatest ease. It hath been Satans grand design, since the Christian name was known on earth, to advance the selfish interest of men against the interest of Christ; and to entangle the Rulers of the world in some cause, that Christ, and his Word, and Servants cannot favour, and so to make them believe that there is a necessity on them to watch against, and subdue the interest of Christ. As if it were necessary that the shore be brought to the boat, and not the boat to the shore: And that the Physician be brought to the Patients mind, or else destroyed or used as his enemy. I am afraid to speak out the terrible words of God in Scripture, that are against such persons, lest you should misunderstand me, and think I misapply them. But Christ feareth no man, and hath not spoken his Word in vain; and his Messengers must be faithful; for he will bear them out; and preventive cautions are easier and safer than reprehensive corrasives. I will but refer you to the texts, that you may peruse them, Matth. 21.44. Matth. 18.3.6. Matth. 25.40, 45. Luke 18.7. Psal. 2. Luke 19.27. Acts 9.4, 5. 1 Thess. 2.15, 16. Read them with fear as the Words of God. Blessed are those Rulers and Na­tions of the Earth, that perceive and escape this pernicious snare of the grand deceiver; that with all his subtilty and indu­stry, endeavoureth to breed quarrels, and sow dissentions be­tween them and the universal King.

[Page 75]The more God giveth to the carnal and unwise, the more they think themselves engaged against him; because by his commands he seems to take it from them again, by crossing the flesh, which would use it only to fulfil its lusts. Like a Dog that fawneth on you till he have his bone; and then snarleth at you, lest you take it from him; and will fly in your face if you offer to meddle with it. Men readily confess that they have their wealth from God; because it cannot be denyed, and because they would use the name of God, as a cover to hide their covetousness, and unlawful waies of getting: But if you judge by their usage of it, and their returns to God; you would think that they believed, that they had nothing at all from God, but some injuries; and that all their benefits and good were from themselves. The Turkish and Tarta­rian Emperour will say, that all his grandeur and power is from God; that by making it most Divine, he may procure the more reverence and obedience to himself: But when he hath said so for his own interest, he useth the same power against God and his interest; to the banishing of his Word and holy Worship, and the forbidding the preaching of the Gospel of salvation; and to the cherishing of tyranny, pride and lust: As if God had armed them against himself, and made his Officers to be his enemies; and gave them power that they might powerfully hinder mens salvation, and made great, to be great oppressors.

As a believing Pastor is a Priest that standeth between God and the people, to mediate under the great Mediatour; to re­ceive from God his Word and Ordinances, and deliver them to the flocks; and to offer up supplications in their names to God: So believing Governours of civil Societies or Families, receive from God a power to rule the subjects for their good, and they use it to make the subjects good, that God may be pleased and honoured by all! And the obedience which they require, is such as may be given to God in them. They take power from God to use it for God, and are so much more ex­cellent than the greatest of ambitious carnal Princes, as the pleasing and honouring of God, is a more excellent design and work, than the gratifying of fleshly lust, and the advancement of a lump of clay. The Kingdoms of the world would all be [Page 76] used as the Kingdoms of the Lord, if the everlasting Kingdom were well believed. The families of men would be sanctified as Churches unto God, if the eternal house not made with hands, were truly taken for their home, and their trade were to lay up a treasure in Heaven. In Cities and Countries Bre­thren would dwell in holy peace, and all concur in honour­ing God, if once they were made fellow Citizens with the Saints, and their Burgeship and conversation were in Heaven, Ephes. 2.19. Phil. 3.20, 21.

6. Resist Temptations as Believers. If you live by Faith, then fight against the world and flesh by Faith. Faith must be your helmet, and the Word of Faith must be your shield, Eph. 6.16. And your victory it self must be by Faith, 1 Joh. 5.4. If Satan tell the flesh of the preferment, riches, or the pleasures of lust, answer him with a believing foresight of Gods Judgement, and the life to come. Never look on the baits of sin alone, but still look at once on God and on Eternity: As a just Judge will hear both parties speak, or see their evidences before he will determine: So tell the Tempter, that as you have heard what fleshly allurements can say, you will see also what the Word of God saith, and take a view of Heaven and Hell, and then you will answer him.

7. Rejoyce as Believers. Can Faith set open the windows of the soul, and no light of heavenly pleasures enter? Can it peruse the Map of the Land of Promise, or see and taste the bunch of Grapes, without any sweetness to the soul? That is the truest Belief of Heaven, which maketh men likest those that are in Heaven: And what is their character, work and portion, but the Joyes of Heavenly Light and Love! Can we believe that we shall live in Heaven for ever? Can we believe that very shortly we shall be there? and not rejoyce in such believing? I know we commonly say, that the uncertainty of our proper title, is the cause of all our want of joy: But if that were all, if that were the first and greatest cause, and our belief of the promise it self were lively; we should at least set our hearts on Heaven as the most delightful and desirable state: and Love would work by more eager desires, and diligent seek­ings, till it had reacht assurance, and cast out the hinderances of our joy. How much would a meer Philosopher rejoyce, if [Page 77] he could find out natural evidence, of so much as we know by Faith? You may perceive what their content in finding it, would be, by their exc [...]eding pains in seeking. The unwea­ried studies by day and night, which many of them used, with the contempt of the riches and greatness of the world, do tell us how glad they would have been, to have seen but half so far as we may. If they could but discover more clearly and certainly, the principles, and elements, and forms of Beings; the nature of spirits; the causes of motion; the nature and cause of light and heat; the order, course and harmony of the universal systeme of the world; what joyful acclamations would this produce, in the literal studious sort of men! what joy then should it be to us, to know by Faith the God that made us; the Creation of the world, the Laws and Promises of our Creatour, the Mysteries of Redemption and Regenera­tion; the frame of the new Creature, the entertainment of the spirits of the just with Christ, the Judgement which all the world must undergo, the work and company which we shall have hereafter, and the endless joyes which all the san­ctified shall possess in the sight and Love of God for ever? How blessed an invention would it be, if all the world could be brought again to the use of one universal language? Or if all the Churches could be perfectly reconciled, how joyful would the Author of so great a work be? should we not then rejoyce who foresee by Faith, a far more perfect union and consent, than ever must be expected here on earth.

Alas, the ordinary lowness of our Comforts doth tell us, that our Faith is very small! I say not so much [The sorrows of a doubting heart] as the little joy which we have in the fore-thoughts of Heaven, when our title seemeth not much doubt­ful to us: For those sorrows shew, that such esteem it a joyful place, and would rejoyce if their title were but cleared: But when we have neither the sorrow or solicitousness of the af­flicted soul, nor yet the joy which is any whit suitable to the belief of such everlasting joyes, we may know what to judge of such an uneffectual belief; at best, it is very low and feeble. It is a joy unspeakable, and full of glory, which unseen things should cause in a Believer, 1 Pet. 1.6, 7, 8. Because it is an ex­ceeding eternal weight of glory, which he believeth, 2 Cor. [...] 17, 18.

[Page 78]8. Finally, Learn to Die also as Believers. The life of Faith must bring you to the very entrance into glory: where one doth end, the other begins. As our dark life in the womb by nutriment from the Mother, continueth till our passage into the open world. You would die in the womb, if Faith should cease, before it bring you to full intuition and fruition, Heb. 11.22. By faith Joseph when he died made mention of the departing of the children of Israel. Josephs faith did not die before him, Heb. 11.3. These all died in faith, confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and declaring that they sought a better Country. They that live by faith, must die in faith; yea and die by faith too. Faith must fetch in their dying comforts. And O how full, and how near a treasure hath it to go to? To die to this world, is to be born into another. Beggars are best when they are abroad. The travail of the ungodly is better to them than their home. But the Believers home is so much better than his travail, that he hath little cause to be afraid of coming to his Journeys end; but should rather every step cry out, O when shall I be at home with Christ! Is it Earth or Heaven that you have prayed for, and laboured for, and waited, and suffered for till now? And doth he indeed pray, and labour, and suffer for Heaven, who would not come thither?

It is Faith which overcometh the world and the flesh, which must also overcome the fears of death; and can look with boldness into the loathsome grave, and can triumph over both as victorious through Christ. It is Faith which can say, [Go forth O my soul; depart in peace: Thy course is finished: Thy warfare is accomplished: The day of triumph is now at hand: Thy patience hath no longer work: Go forth with joy: The morning of thy endless joyes is near; and the night of fears and darkness at an end. Thy terrible dreams are ending in eternal pleasures: The glorious light will banish all thy dreadful specters, and resolve all those doubts which were bred and cherished in the dark: They whose employment is their weariness and toil, do take the night of darkness and cessation for their rest: But this is thy weariness: Defect of action is thy toil; and thy most grie­vous labour is to do too little work▪ And thy uncessant [Page 79] Vision, Love and Praise, will be thy uncessant ease and plea­sure; and thy endless work, will be thy endless rest! De­part, O my soul, with peace and gladness! Thou leavest not a world, where Wisdom and Piety, Justice and Sobrie­ty, Love, and Peace, and Order, do prevail; but a world of ignorance and folly; of bruitish sensuality and rage; of impiety and malignant enmity to good; a world of inju­stice and oppression; and of confusion and distracting strifes! Thou goest not to a world of darkness, and of wrath; but of Light and Love! From hellish malice, to perfect amity; from Bedlam rage, to perfect wisdom; from mad confusion, to perfect order; to sweetest unity and peace; even to the spirits of the just made perfect, and to the celestial glorious City of God! Thou goest not from Heaven to Earth, from holiness to sin, from the sight of God, into an infernal dun­geon; but from Earth to Heaven; from sin and imper­fection unto perfect holiness; and from palpable darkness, into the vital splendour of the face of God! Thou goest not amongst enemies, but to dearest friends; nor amongst meer strangers, but to many whom thou hast known by sight, and to more whom thou hast known by faith, and must know by the sweetest communion for ever. Thou goest not to unsatisfied Justice, nor to a condemning unre­conciled God; but to Love it self; to infinite Goodness; the fountain of all created and communicated good; to the Maker, Redeemer and Sanctifier of souls; to him who pre­pared Heaven for thee, and now hath prepared thee for Heaven! Go forth then in triumph, and not with terrour, O my soul! The prize is won: Possess the things which thou hast so long prayed for, and sought! Make haste and enter into thy Masters joy! Go view the glory which thou hast so long heard of; and take thy place in the heavenly Chore; and bear thy part in their celestial melody! Sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of God! And receive that which Christ in his Covenant did promise to give thee at the last. Go boldly to that blessed God, with whom thou hast so powerful a Mediatour; and to the Throne of whose grace, thou hast had so oft and sweet access. If Heaven be thy fear or sorrow, what can [Page 80] be thy joy? and where wilt thou have refuge, if thou fly from God? If perfect endless pleasures be thy terrour, where then dost thou expect content! If grace have taught thee long ago, to prefer the heavenly and durable felicity; refuse it not now when thou art so near the port! if it have taught thee long ago, to be as a stranger in this Sodom, and to renounce this sinful world and flesh; linger not now as unwilling to depart; repent not of thy choice, when all that the world can do for thee is past, repent not of thy warfare, when thou hast got the victory; nor of thy voy­age, when thou art past the storms and waves, and ready to land at the haven of felicity.

Thus Faith may sing our Nunc dimittis, when the flesh is lothest to be dissolved.

But we must live by faith, if we would thus die by faith. Such a death doth not use to be the period of a fleshly worldly life; nor of a careless, dull and negligent life. Nature, which brought us into the world, without our forecast or care, will turn us out of the world without it: But it will not give us a joyful passage, nor bring us to a better world without it. It costeth worldlings no small care to die in an honourable or plentiful estate, (that they may fall from an higher place than others, and may have something to make death more grie­vous and unwelcome to them, and may have a greater ac­count to make at Judgement; and that their passage to Hea­ven may be as a Camels through a Needle.) And may a be­lieving joyful death be expected, without the preparations of exercise and experience in a believing life? Nature is so much afraid of dying, and an incorporated soul is so incarcerated in sense, and so hardly riseth to serious and satisfying apprehen­sions of the unseen world, that even true Believers, do find it a work of no small difficulty, to desire to depart, and be with Christ, and to die in the joyful hopes of faith. A little abatement of the terrours of death, a little supporting hope and peace, is all that the greater part of them attain, instead of the fervent desires, and triumphant joyes, which the lively belief of endless glory should produce. O therefore make it the work of your lives! of all your lives! your greatest work; your constant work, to live by faith; that the faith which hath [Page 81] first conquered all the rest of your enemies, may be able also to overcome the last; and may do your last work well, when it hath done the rest.

CHAP. I. Directions how to live by Faith: And first how to strengthen Faith: And secondly, the natural Truths presupposed to be con­sidered.

THe Directions which I shall give you, as helps to live by Faith, are of two ranks. 1. Such as tend to the strengthening of your Faith. 2. Such as tell you how to use it.

The first is the greatest part of our task: for no man can use that faith which he hath not; nor can use more of it than he hath. And the commonest reason why we use but little, is because we have but little to use.

But on this subject (supposing it most weighty) I have written many Treatises already (The second part of the Saints Rest: The Unreasonableness of Infidelity: And last of all, The Reasons of the Christian Religion: Besides others which handle it on the by.) And somewhat is said in the beginning of this discourse. But yet because in so great a matter I am more afraid of doing too little than too much; I will here give you an Index of some of the chief Helps, to be close to­gether before you for your memories, to be the constant fuel of your Faith.

In the work of Faith, it is first needful that you get all the prerequisite Helps of Natural Light, and be well acquainted with their Order and Evidence, and their Ʋsefulness to befriend the supernatural revelations: For it is supposed that we are men before we are Christians: We were created before we were redeemed: And we must know that there is a God, be­fore we can know that we have offended him, or that we need a Saviour to reconcile us to him: And we must know that we [Page 82] have reasonable souls, before we can know that sin hath cor­rupted them, or that grace must sanctifie them: And we must know, that whatso [...]ver God saith is true, before we can be­lieve that the Scripture is true, as being his revelation. Faith is an act of Reason; and Believing is a kind of knowing; even a knowing by the testim [...]ny of him whom we believe; because we have sufficient reason to believe him.

2. And next we must be well acquainted with the evidence of supernatural Truth, which presupposeth the foresaid Natu­ral Verities. I shall set both b [...]fore you briefly in their order.

1. Think well [...]f the nature of your souls, of their faculties or p [...]wers, their excellency, and their proper use: And then you will find, that you are not meer brutes, who know not their Creat [...]ur, nor live no [...] by a Law, nor think not of another world; nor [...]ar any [...]fferings after death: But that you have reas [...]n, free-will, and executive power to kn [...]w your Maker, and to live by [...]ule, a [...]d to hope for a Reward in another life, and to fear a p [...]n [...]shme [...]t hereafter. And that as no wise Artificer maketh any thing in vain; so God is m [...]ch less to be thought to hav [...] given you such souls and faculties in vain.

2. Co [...]sid [...]r next how all the world declareth to you, that there is a G [...]d, wh [...] is infinite [...]y p [...]werful, wise and good. And tha [...] it is not possible that all things which we see should have no cause, or that the derived Power, and Wisdom, and Goodnes [...] of the creature, should not proceed from that which is more excellent in the first and total cause: Or that God should give more than he had to give.

3. Consider nex [...], in wh [...]t Relation such a creature must needs stand to such a Creatour: If he made us of N [...]hing [...] is not p [...]ssible, but that he must be [...] Owner, and w [...] a [...]d all things absolutely his Own: And if he be our Maker and Owner, and be infinitely powerful, wise and good; and we be Reasonable-free-agents, made to be guided by Laws or Moral Means unto our end; it is not possible but that we should stand related to him, as subjects to their rightful Governour. And if he be our Creatour, Owner and Ruler, and also infinite­ly Good, and the grand Benefactor of the world: and if the [Page 83] nature of our souls be, to Love Good as Good; it cannot be pos­sible, that he should not be our End, who is our Creatour; and that we should not be related to him as to the Chiefest Good, both originally as our Benefactor, and finally as our End.

4. And then it is easie for you next to see, what duty you owe to that God to whom you are thus related. That if you are absolutely his Own, you should willingly be at his absolute dispose: And i [...] he b [...] your Soveraign Ruler, you should labour most diligently to know his Laws, and absolutely to obey them. And if he be infinitely Good, and your Benefactor and your End, you are absolutely bound to Love him most devotedly, and to place your own felicity in his Love. All this is so evidently the duty of man to God by nature, that nothing but madness can deny it. And this is it which we call Sanctification, or Holiness to the Lord. And our cohabitation and relation to men, will tell us, that Justice and Charity are our duty as to them. And when a man is fully satisfied that Holiness, Ju­stice and Charity, are our duty, he hath a great advantage for his progress towards the Christian Faith.

To which let me add, that as to our selves also, it is un­deniably our duty to take more care for our souls, than for our bodies, and to rule our senses and passions by our Reason, and to subject our lower faculties to the higher, and so to use all sensible and present things, as conduceth to the publick good, and to the advancement of our nobler part, and to our greatest benefit, though it cross our sensual appetites.

All this being unquestionably our natural duty, we see that man was made to live in Holiness, Justice, Charity, Temperance, and rational regularity in the world.

5. When you have gone thus far, consider next how far men are generally from the performance of this duty: And how backward humane nature is to it, even while they cannot deny it to be their duty: And you will soon perceive that God who made it their duty, did never put in them this enmity thereto: nor ever made them without some aptitude to perform it. And if any would infer that their indisposedn [...]ss proveth it to be none of their duty, the nature of man will fully confute him; and the conscience and confession of all the sober part of the world. What wretch so blind (if he believe a Deity) who [Page 84] will not confess that he should love God with all his heart, and that Justice, Charity and Sobriety are his duty; and that his sense should be ruled by his reason, &c? The evidence be­fore given is not to be denyed. And therefore something is marr'd in nature. Some enemy hath seduced man. And some deplorable change hath befallen him.

6. Yea, if you had no great backwardness to this duty your self, consider what it must cost you faithfully to perform it, in such a malignant world as we now live in? what envy and wrath, what malice and persecution, what opposition and discouragements on every side we must expect? Univer­sal experience is too full a proof of this. (Besides what it costeth our restrained flesh)

7. Proceed then to think further, that certainly God hath never appointed us so much duty, without convenient Motives to perform it. It cannot be that he should make us more noble than the brutes, to be more miserable: Or that he should make Holiness our duty, that it might be our loss, or our cala­mity. If there were no other life but this, and men had no hopes of future happiness, nor any fears of punishment, what a Hell would this world be? Heart-wickedness would be but little feared; nor heart-duty regarded: Secret sin against Princes, States, and all degrees, would be boldly committed, and go unpunished (for the most part.) The sins of Princes, and of all that have power to defeat the Law, would have little or no restraint: Every mans interest would oblige him, rather to offend God, who so seldom punisheth here, than to offend a Prince, or any man in power, who seldom lets offences against himself go unrevenged: And so man, more than God, would be the Ruler of the world, that is, our God.

Nay actually the hopes and fears of another life, among most Hea [...]hens, Infidels and Hereticks, is the principle of Divine Government, by which God keepeth up most of the order and virtue which is in the world.

Yea, think what you should be and do your self; as to ene­mies, and as to secret faults, and as to sensual vices, if you thought there were no life but this: And is it possible that the infinitely powerful, wise and good Creatour, can be put to govern all mankind, by meer deceit, and a course of lyes? as if he wanted better means?

[Page 85]By how much the better any man is, by so much the more regardful is he of the life to come, and the hopes and fears of another life, are so much the more prevalent with him: And is it possible that God should make men good, to make them the most deceived, and most miserable? Hath he commanded all these cares to be our needless torments, which brutes, and fools, and sottish sinners do all scape? Is the greatest obe­dience to God, become a sign of the greatest folly, or the way to the greatest loss or disappointment?

We are all sure that this life is short and vain: No Infidel can say that he is sure that there is no other life for us: And if this be so, reason commandeth us to prefer the p [...]ssibilities of such a life to come, before the certain vanities of this life: So that even the Infidels uncertainty will unavoidably infer, that the preferring of the world to come is our duty: And if it be our duty, then the thing in it self is true: For God will not make it all mens duties in the frame of their nature, to seek an Ʋtopia, and pursue a shadow; and to spend their daies and chiefest cares for that which is not; Godliness is not such a dreaming night-walk.

Conscience will not suffer dying men to believe that they have more cause to repent of their Godliness, than of their sin, and of their seeking Heaven, than of wallowing in their lusts.

Nay then, these h [...]avenly desires would be themselves our sins, as being the following of a lye, the aspiring after a state which is above us, and the abuse and loss of our faculties and time: And sensuality would be liker to be our virtue, as being natural to us, and a seeking of our most real felicity.

The common conscience of mankind doth justifie the wis­dom and virtue of a temperate, holy, heavenly person; and acknowledgeth that our heavenly desires are of God: And doth God give men both natural faculties, which shall never come to the perfection which is their End? and also gracious desires, which shall but deceive us, and never be satisfied? If God had made us for the enjoyments of brutes, he would have given us but the knowledge and desires of brutes.

Every King and mortal Judge can punish faults against Man with death: And hath God no greater or further punish­ment, [Page 86] for sins as committed against himself? And are his re­wards no greater than a mans?

These, and many more such Evidences may assure you, that there is another life of Rewards and punishments; and that this life is not our final state, but only a [...]ime of prepa­ration thereunto. Settle this deeply and fixedly in your minds.

8. And look up to the heavenly Regions, and think, Is this world so replenished with inhabitants, both Sea, and Land, and Air it self? And can I dream that the vast and glorious Orbs and Regions, are all uninhabited? O [...] that they have not more numerous and glorious possessors, than this small opacous spot of earth.

And then think, that those higher creatures are intellectual spirits: (This is many waies apparent) and also of the com­munion which they have with man: And when we find also an intellectual nature in our selves, why should we not be­lieve, that our likeness of nature, doth infer our likeness in our future duration and abode.

9. And mark well but the inward and outward temptations, which solicite all the world to sin; and what notable Evidences there be in many of them, of an invisible power; and you will easily believe that man hath a soul to save or lose, which is of longer duration than the body.

10. Lastly, If yet there be any doubt, consider but of the sensible Evidences of Apparitions, Witchcraft and Possessions, and it cannot chuse but much confirm you: Though much be feigned in histories of such things, yet the world hath abundant evidence of that which was certainly unfeign­ed. See the Devil of Mascon, Mr. Mompessons story lately act­ed and published: Remigius, Bodins, Danaeus, &c. of Witches, Lavater de Spectris; and what I have written elsewhere.

CHAP. II. The true Method of enquiry into the supernatural Evidences of Faith, and Rules therein to be offered.

WHen you have thus seen what evidence there is of GOD, and his Government, and of a life of reward and punishment hereafter, and of the natural obligations which lie on man to a holy, just, and sober life; and of the de­praved state of the world, which goeth so contrary to such undoubted duty; and how certain all this is even by natural revelation; proceed next to consider what supernatural reve­lation God hath added, both to confirm you in the same Truths, and to make known such other, as were necessary for mankind to know. Where I must first direct you in the true Method of Enquiry, and then set before you the things themselves, which you are to know.

1. Think not that every unprepared mind is immediately ca­pable of the Truth (either this, or any other, except the first principles which are nota per se, or are next to sense.) All truth requireth a capacity, and due preparation of the reci­pient: The plainest principles of any Art or Science, are not understood by novices at the first fight or hearing. And there­fore it were vain to imagine that things of the greatest di­stance in history, or profundity in doctrine, can be compre­hended at the first attempt, by a disused and unfurnished un­derstanding. There must be at least, as much time, and study, and help supposed and used, to the full discerning of the evi­dences of faith, as are allowed to the attainment of common Sciences. Though grace, in less time, may give men so much light as is necessary to salvation; yet he that will be able to defend the Truth, and answer Objections, and attain establishing satisfaction in his own mind, must (ordinarily) have proportionable helps, and time, and studyes; unless he look to be taught by miracles.

2. Remember that it is a practical and heavenly doctrine [Page 88] which you are to learn: It is the Art of loving God, and be­ing happy in his love. And therefore a worldly, sensual, vicious soul, must needs be under very great disadvantage for the re­ceiving of such a kind of Truths. Do not therefore impute that to the doubtfulness of the Doctrine, which is but the effect of the enmity and incapacity of your minds: How can he pre­sently rellish the spiritual and heavenly doctrine of the Gospel, who is drowned in the love and care of contrary things? Such men receive not the things of the Spirit: They seem to them both foolishness and undesirable.

3. Think not that the history of things done so long ago, and so far off, should have no more obscurities, nor be liable to any more Objections, than of that which was done in the time and Country where you live. Nor yet that things done in the pre­sence of others, and words spoken in their hearing only, should be known to you otherwise than by historical evidence, (unless every Revelation to others, must have a new Revelation to bring it to each individual person in the world.) And think not that he who is a stranger to all other helps of Church-history, should be as well able to understand the Scripture-history, as those that have those other helps.

4. Think not that the narrativt of things done in a Country and Age so remote, and to us unknown, should not have many difficulties, arising from our ignorance of the persons, places, manners, customs, and many circumstances, which if we had known, would easily have resolved all such doubts▪

5. Think not that a Book which was written so long ago, in so remote a Country, in a language which few do fully understand, and which may since then have several changes, as to phrases, and proverbial and occasional speeches, should have no more difficulties in it, than a Book that were written at home, in the present Ages in our Country language, and the most usual dialect. To say nothing of our own language, what changes are made in all other tongues, since the times that the Gospel was recorded? Many proverbial speeches and phrases may be now disused and unknown, which were then most easie to be understood. And the transcribing and preserving of the Copies, require us to allow for some defects of humane skill and industry therein.

[Page 89]6. Ʋnderstand the different sorts of Evidence, which are re­quisite to the different matters in the holy Scriptures. The mat­ters of fact require historical evidence (which yet is made in­fallible by additional miracles.) The miracles which were wrought to confirm our history, are brought to our know­ledge only by other history. The Doctrines which are evident in nature, have further evidence of supernatural revelation, only to help us whose natural fight is much obscured. But it is the supernatural Doctrines, Precepts and Promises, which of themselves require supernatural revelation, to make them credible to man.

7. Mistake not the true Ʋse and End of the holy Scriptures.

1. Think not that the Gospel as written was the first Con­stitutive or Governing Law of Christ, for the Christian Churches. The Churches were constituted, and the Orders, and Offices, and Government of it settled, and exercised very many years together, before any part of the New Testament was written to them; much more before the writing of the whole. The Apostles had long before taught them what was commanded them by Christ; and had settled them in the order appointed by the Holy Ghost: And therefore you are not to look for the first determination of such doctrines or orders in the Scripture as made thereby; but only for the Records of what was done and established before: For the Apostles being to leave the world, did know the slipperiness of the memory of man, and the danger of changing and corrupting the Chri­stian Doctrine and Orders, if there were not left a sure record of it: And therefore they did that for the sake of posterity.

2. You must not think that all is essential to the Christian Re­ligion, which is contained in the holy Scriptures: Nor that they are only the adequate form or record of that which is strictly and primarily called our Religion, or Christianity. For there are divers particular Books of the New Testament, which contain much more than is essential to Christianity: And many appurtenances, and histories, and genealogies, and cir­cumstances are there recorded, which are indeed subservient helps to our Religion; but are not strictly our Religion it self.

8. As the use of the Scripture must thus be judged of [Page 90] according to the purpose of the holy Spirit; so the Perfection of the Scripture must be judged of, in relation to its intended use. It was not written to be a systeme of Physicks, nor Ora­tory; nor to decide grammatical Controversies about words; but to record in apt expressions the things which God would have men to know, in order to their faith, their duty, and their happiness. And in this respect it is a perfect word. But you must not imagine that it is so far the word of God himself, as if God had shewed in it his fullest skill, and made it as perfect in every respect, both phrase and order, as God could do. And if you meet in it with several words, which you think are less grammatical, logical, or rhetorical, than many other men could speak, and which really savour of some humane imperfection, remember that this is not at all dero­gatory to Christianity; but rather tendeth to the strengthen­ing of our faith: For the Scriptures are perfect to their in­tended use: And God did purposely chuse men of imperfect Oratory, to be his Apostles, that his Kingdom might not be in word, but in power; and that our faith might not be built upon the wisdom and oratory of man, but on the supernatural operations of the Almighty God: As David's sling and stone must kill Goliah: So unlearned men, that cannot out-wit the world to deceive them, shall by the Spirit and Miracles con­vince them. Looking for that in the Scripture, which God never intended it for, doth tempt the unskilful into un­belief.

9. Therefore you must be sure to distinguish the Christian Religion, which is the vital part or kernel of the Scriptures, from all the rest: And to get well planted in your mind, the summ of that Religion it self. And that is briefly contained in the two Sacraments, and more largely in the Creed, the Lords Prayer, and the Decalogue, the summaryes of our Belief, Desire and Practice. And then wonder no more that the other parts of Scripture, have some things of less moment, than that a man hath fingers, nails and hair, as well as a stomach, heart and head.

10. Distinguish therefore between the Method of the Chri­stian Religion, and the Method of the particular Books of Scri­ptures. The Books were written on several occasions, and in [Page 91] several Methods; and though that method of them all, be perfect, in order to their proper end; yet is it not necessary that there be in the Method no humane imperfection, or that one or all of them, be written in that method which is usually most logical, and best. But the frame of Religion contained in those Books, is composed in the most perfect method in the world. And those systemes of Theology which endeavour to open this method to you, do not feign it, or make it of them­selves; but only attempt the explication of what they find in the holy Scriptures, Synthetically or Analytically: (Though indeed all attempts have yet fallen short of any full explication of this divine and perfect harmony.)

11. Therefore the true Order of settling your faith, is not first to require a proof that all the Scriptures is the Word of God; but first to prove the marrow of them, which is properly called the Christian Religion, and then to proceed to strengthen your par­ticular belief of the rest. The contrary opinion, which hath obtained with many in this Age, hath greatly hindered the faith of the unskilful: And it came from a preposterous care of the honour of the Scriptures, through an excessive oppo­sition to the Papists who undervalue them. For hence it comes to pass, that every seeming contradiction, or inconsisten­cy in any Book of Scripture, in Chronology or any other respect, is thought to be a sufficient cause, to make the whole cause of Christianity as difficult as that particular text is: And so all those Readers, who meet with great or inseparable difficulties, in their daily reading of the Scriptures, are there­by exposed to equal temptations, to damning infidelity it self: So that if the Tempter draw any man to doubt of the standing still of the Sun in the time of Joshua; of the life of Jonas in the belly of the Whale; or any other such passage in any one Book of the Scriptures, he must equally doubt of all his Religion.

But this was not the ancient method of faith: It was many years after Christs resurrection, before any one Book of the New Testament was written; and almost an Age before it was finished: And all that time the Christian Churches had the same Faith and Religion as we have now; and the same foundation of it: That is, the Gospel preached to them by the [Page 92] Apostles: But what they delivered to them by word of mouth, is now delivered to us in their writings, with all the appurtenances and circumstances, which every Christian did not then hear of. And there were many Articles of the Christian Faith, which the Old Testament did not at all make known: (As that this Jesus is the Christ; that he was born of the Virgin Mary, and is actually crucified, risen and ascended, &c.) And the method of the Apostles was, to teach the people, the summ of Christianity (as Paul doth, 1 Cor. 15.3, 4, &c. and Peter, Act. 2.) and to bring them to the belief of that, and then baptize them, before they wrote any thing to them, or taught them the rest which is now in the holy Scriptures; They were first to Disciple the Nations and baptize them, and then to teach them to observe all things whatever Christ commanded: And the main bulk of the Scriptures is made up of this last, and of the main subservient histories and helps.

And accordingly it was the custom of all the Primitive Churches, and ancient Doctors, to teach the people first the Creed and summ of Christianity, and to make them Christians before they taught them so much as to know what Books the Canonical Scriptures did contain: For they had the summ of Christianity it self delivered down collaterally by the two hands of tradition. 1. By the continuation of Baptism, and publick Church-professions, was delivered the Creed or Co­venant by it self: And 2. By the holy Scriptures, where it was delivered with all the rest; and from whence every novice was not put to gather it of himself; but had it collected to his hand by the Churches.

And you may see in the writings of all the ancient defenders of Christianity (Justin, Athenagoras, Talianus, Clemens Alex­andrinus, Arnobius, Theoph. Antioch. Lactantius, Tertullian, [...]usebius, Augustine, &c.) that they used the method which I now direct you to.

And if you consider it well, you will find that the miracles of Christ himself, and all those of his Apostles after him, were wrought for the confirmation of Christianity it self im­mediately, and mostly before the particular Epistles or Books were written; and therefore were only remotely and conse­quentially for the confirmation of those Books as such: as [Page 93] they proved that the Writers of them were guided by the infallible Spirit, in all the proper work of their office; of which the writing of the Scriptures was a part.

1. Therefore settle your belief of Christianity it self; that is, of so much as Baptism containeth, or importeth: This is more easily proved, than the truth of every word in the Scriptures; because there are controversies about the Canon, and the various readings, and such like: And this is the natu­ral method, which Christ and his Spirit have directed us to, and the Apostles and the ancient Churches used. And when this is first soundly proved to you, then you cannot justly take any textual difficulties, to be sufficient cause of raising difficulties to your faith in the essentials: But you may quiet­ly go on in the strength of faith, to clear up all those diffi­culties by degrees.

I know you will meet with some who think very highly of their own mistakes, and whose unskilfulness in these things is joyned with an equal measure of self conceitedness, who will tell you that this method smells of an undervaluing of the Scripture: But I would advise you not to depart from the way of Christ, and his Apostles and Churches, nor to cast your selves upon causeless hinderances, in so high a matter as Saving Faith is, upon the reverence of the words of any per­verted factious wrangler, nor to escape the fangs of censorious ignorance. We cannot better justifie the holy Scriptures in the true Method, than they can in their false one: And can better build up, when we have laid the right foundation, than they can who begin in the middle, and omit the foundation, and call the superstructure by that name.

2. Suspect not all Church-history or Tradition, in an ex­treme opposition to the Papists, who cry up a private un­proved Tradition of their own. They tell us of Apostolical Traditions, which their own faction only are the keep [...]rs of; and of which no true historical evidence is produced: And this they call the Tradition of the Church: But we have another sort of Tradition, which must not be neglected or rejected, unless we will deny humanity, and reject Christia­nity. Our Traditio tradens, or active Tradition, is primarily nothing but the certain history or usage of the universal [Page 94] Christian Church; as Baptism, the Lords day, the Ministry, the Church Assemblies, and the daily Church exercises; which are certain proofs what Religion was then received by them. And 2. The Scriptures themselves. Our Traditio tradita is nothing else but these two conjunctly: 1. The Christian Re­ligion, even the Faith then professed, and the Worship and Obedience then exercised. 2. The Books themselves, of the holy Scriptures, which contain all this, with much more. But we are so far from thinking that Apostolical Oral Tra­dition, is a supplement to the Scriptures, as being larger than them, that we believe the Scriptures to be much larger than such Tradition; and that we have no certainty by any other than Scriptural Tradition, of any more than the common matters of Christianity, which all the Churches are agreed in. But he that will not believe the most universal practice and history of the Church or world in a matter of fact, must in reason much less believe his eye-sight.

13. When you have soundly proved your foundation, take not every difficult objection which you cannot answer, to be a sufficient cause of doubting: For if the fundamentals be proved truths, you may trust to that proof, and be sure that there are waies of solving the seeming inconsistent points, though you are not yet acquainted with them. There are few Truths so clear, which a sophister may not clog with difficulties: And there is scarce any man that hath so comprehensive a knowledge of the most certain Truths, as to be able to answer all that can be said against it.

14. Come not to this study in a melancholy or distracted frame of mind: For in such a case you are (ordinarily) incapable of so great a work, as the tryal of the grounds of Faith: And therefore must live upon the ground-work before laid, and wait for a fitter time to clear it.

15. When new doubts arise, mark whether they proceed not from the advantage which the tempter findeth in your minds, rather than from the difficulty of the thing it self: And whether you have not formerly had good satisfaction against the same doubts which now perplex you: If so, suffer not every dis­composure of your minds, to become a means of unbelief: And suffer not Satan to command you to dispute your faith [Page 95] at his pleasure: For if he may chuse the time, he may chuse the success. Many a man hath cast up a large account well, or written a learned Treatise or Position well, who cannot clear up all objected difficulties on a sudden, nor without Books tell you all that he before wrote; especially if he be half drunk or sleepy, or in the midst of other thoughts o [...] business.

15. When you are once perswaded of the truth of Chri­stianity, and the holy Scriptures, think not that you need not study it any more, because you do already confidently believe it: For if your faith be not built on such cogent evidence as will warrant the conclusion (whether it be at the present sound or not) you know not what change assaults may make upon you (as we have known them do on some ancient eminent Pro­fessors of the strictest Godliness, who have turned from Christ, and the belief of immortality.)

Take heed how you understand the common saying of the Schools, that Faith differeth from Knowledge, in that it hath not Evidence: It hath not evidence of sense indeed; nor the immediate evidence of things invisible, as in themselves; but as they are the conclusions which follow the principles which are in themselves more evident. It is evident that God is true; and we can prove by good evidence, that the Christian Verity is his Revelation: And therefore it is evident (though not immediately in it self) that the matter of that word or reve­lation is true. And as Mr. Rich. Hooker truly saith [No man indeed believeth beyond the degree of evidence of truth which appeareth to him, how confidently soever they may talk.] I remember that our excellent Ʋsher answered me to this case, as out of Ariminensis, that [faith hath evidence of Credibility, and science hath evidence of Certainty.] But un­doubtedly an evidence of Divine Revelation, is evidence of Certainty. And all evidence of Divine Credibility, is evidence of Certainty; though of humane faith and credibility, the case be otherwise.

16. Yea, think not that you have done the settling of your faith, when once you have found out the soundest evidences, and are able to answer all Objections: For you must grow still in the fuller discerning and digesting the same evidences which you have [Page 96] discerned: For you may hold them so loosely, that they may be easily wrested from you: And you may see them with so clear and full a knowledge, as shall stablish your mind against all ordinary causes of mutation. It is one kind (or degree rather) of knowledge of the same things, which the Pupil, and another which the Doctor hath. I am sure the knowledge which I have now of the evidences of the Christian Verity, is much different from what I had thirty years ago, when per­haps I could say neer as much as now; and used the same Arguments.

17. Consider well the great contentions of Philosophers; and the great uncertainty of most of those Nations, to which the In­fidels would reduce our faith, or which they would make the test by which to try it. They judge Christianity uncertain, because it agreeth not with their uncertainties, or certain errours.

18. Enslave not your Reason to the objects of sense: While we are in the body, our souls are so imprisoned in flesh, and have so much to do with worldly things, that most men by averse­ness and disuse, can hardly at all employ their minds about any higher things than sensitive; nor go any further than sense conduceth them. He that will not use his soul to con­template things invisible, will be as unfit for believing, as a Lady is to travel a thousand miles on foot, who never went out of her doors, but in a Sedan or Coach.

19. Where your want of learning, or exercise or light, doth cause any difficulties which you cannot overcome, go to the more wise and experienced Believers, and Pastors of the Church, to be your helpers: For it is their office to be both the preservers and expounders of the sacred Doctrine, and to be the helpers of the peoples faith. The Priests lips should preserve knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts, Mal. 2.7.

20. Lastly, Faithfully practise with Love and alacrity what you do believe, lest God in justice leave you to disbelieve that which you would not love and practise.

So much to direct you in the method of your endeavours, for the getting and strengthening of faith.

CHAP. III. The Evidences of Faith.

THese things in the Order of your enquiry being presup­posed, proceed to the consideration of the Evidences them­selves, which fully prove the Christian Verity: And here (omitting the preparatory considerations recited at large in my [Reasons of the Christian Religion] I shall only set before you the grand Evidence it self, with a brief recital of some of those means, which bring it down to our notice in these times.

The great infallible witness of CHRIST, is the SPIRIT of GOD, or the Holy Ghost: Or that divine operation of the Holy Spirit, which infallibly proveth the attestation of God himself, as interesting him in it, as the prin­cipal cause.

As we know the Coin of a Prince by his image and super­scription, and know his acts by his publick proper Seal: And as we know that God is the Creatour of the world, by the Seal of his likeness which is upon it: Or as we know the Father of a child, when he is so like him, as no other could be­get: So know we Christ and Christianity to be of God, by his unimitable image or impression.

The Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God, are the essentiali­ties which we call the Nature of God: These in their proper form, and transcendent perfection, are incommunicable: But when they produce an effect on the creature, which for the resemblance may analogically be called by the same names; the names are logically communicable, though the thing it self (which is the Divine Essence or Perfections) be still incommuni­cable: But when they only produce effects more heterogeneal or equivocal, then we call those effects only the footsteps or demonstrations of their cause. So GOD, whose Power, Wis­dom and Goodness in it self is incommunicable, hath produced intellectual natures, which are so like him, that their likeness is called his Image; and analogically (yet equivocally) the created faculties of their Power, Intellect and Will; are called [Page 98] by such names, as we are fain (for want of other words) to apply to God (the things signified being transcendently and unexpressibly in God, but the words first used of, and applied to the creature.) But the same God hath so demonstrated his Power, and Wisdom, and Goodness in the Creation of the ma­terial or corporeal parts of the world, that they are the [...]e­stigia and infallible proofs of his causation and perfections, (being such as no other cause without him can produce) but, yet not so properly called his Image, as to his Wisdom and Goodness, but only of his Power. But no wise man who seeth this world, can doubt whether a God of perfect Power, Wis­dom and Goodness, was the maker of it. Even so the person and doctrine of Christ, or the Christian Religion objectively considered, hath so much of the Image, and so much of the demonstrative impressions of the Nature of God, as may fully assure us that he himself is the approving cause.

And as the Sun hath a double Light, Lux & Lumen, its essential Light in it self, and its emitted beams, or communi­cated Light; so the Spirit and Image of God, by which Christ and Christianity are demonstrated, are partly that which is essential, constitutive, and inherent, and partly that which is sent and communicated from him to others.

In the person of Christ, there is the most excellent Image of God. 1. Wonderful Power, by which he wrought miracles, and commanded Sea and Land, Men and Devils, and raised the dead, and raised himself; and is now the glorious Lord of all things. 2. Wonderful Wisdom, by which he formed his Laws, and Kingdom, and by which he knew the hearts of men, and prophecied of things to come. 3. Most wonderful Love and Goodness, by which he healed all diseases, and by which he saved miserable souls, and procured our happiness at so dear a rate.

But as the essential Light of the Sun, is too glorious to be well observed by us; but the emitted Light is it which doth affect our eyes, and is the immediate object of our sight; at least that we can best endure and use; so the Essential Perfe­ctions of Jesus Christ, are not so immediately and ordinarily fit for our observation and use, as the lesser communicated beams, which he sent forth. And these are either such as were the [Page 99] immediate effects of the Spirit in Christ himself, or his perso­nal operations, or else the effects of his Spirit in others: And that is either such as went before him, or such as were present with him, or such as followed after him: Even as the emitted Light of the Sun, is either that which is next to its Essence; or that which streameth further to other creatures: And this last is either that which it sendeth to us before its own ap­pearing or rising, or that which accompanieth its appearing, or that which leaveth behind it as it setteth or passeth away; so must we distinguish in the present case.

But all this is but One Light, and One Spirit.

So then, I should in order speak 1. Of that Spirit in the words and works of Christ himself, which constituteth the Chri­stian Religion. 2. That Spirit in the Prophets and Fathers be­fore Christ, which was the antecedent light. 3. That Spirit in Christs followers, which was the concomitant and subse­quent Light or witness: And 1. In those next his abode on earth: And 2. Of those that are more remote.

CHAP. IV. The Image of Gods Wisdom.

1. AND first, observe the three parts of Gods Image, or impress upon the Christian Religion in it self as con­taining the whole work of mans Redemption, as it is found in the works and doctrine of Christ.

1. The WISDOM of it appeareth in these particular ob­servations (which yet shew it to us but very defectively, for want of the clearness, and the integrality, and the order of our knowledge: For to see but here and there a parcel of one entire frame or work, and to see those few parcels as dislocated, and not in their proper places and order; and all this but with a dark imperfect sight, is far from that full and open view of the manifold Wisdom of God in Christ, which Angels and su­periour intellects have.)

1. Mark how wisely God hath ordered it, that the three Essentialitie [...] in the Divine Nature, Power, Intellection and Will, [Page 100] Omnipotency, Wisdom and Goodness, and the three persons in the Trinity, the Father, the Word and the Spirit; and the three Causalities of God, as the Efficient, Directive and final Cause, (of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things) should have three most eminent specimina or impressions in the world, or three most conspicuous works to declare and glori­fie them; viz. Nature, Grace and Glory. And that God should accordingly stand related to man in three answerable Rela­tions, viz. as our Creatour, our Redeemer, and our Perfecter (by Holiness initially, and Glory finally.)

2. How wisely it is ordered, that seeing Mans Love to God is both his greatest duty ▪ and his perfection and felicity, there should be some standing em [...]nent means for the attraction and excitation of our Love: And this should be the most eminent manifestation of the Love of God to us; and withall, of his own most perfect Holiness and Goodness: And that as we have as much need of the sense of his Goodness as of his Power, (Loving him being our chief work) that there should be as observable a demonstration of his Goodness extant, as the world is of his Power.

3. Especially when man had fallen by sin from the Love of God, to the Love of his carnal self, and of the creature; and when he was fallen under vindictive Justice, and was conscious of the displeasure of his Maker, and had made himself an heir of Hell: And when mans nature can so hardly love one that in Justice standeth engaged or resolved to damn him, forsake him, and hate him: How wisely is it ordered that he that would recover him to his Love, should first declare his Love to the offender in the fullest sort, and should reconcile himself unto him, and shew his readiness to forgive him, and to save him, yea to be his felicity and his chiefest good: That so the Remedy may be answerable to the disease, and to the duty.

4. How wisely is it thus contrived, that the frame and course of mans obedience, should be appointed to consist in Love and Gratitude, and to run out in such praise and chearful duty as is animated throughout by Love, that so sweet a spring may bring forth answerable streams: That so the Goodness of our Master may appear in the sweetness of our work; and we may not serve the God of Love and Glory, like slaves, with a grudging [Page 101] weary mind; but like children with delight and quietness: And our work and way may be to us a foretaste of our reward and end.

5. And yet how meet was it, that while we live in such a dark material world, in a body of corruptible flesh, among enemies and snares, our duty should have somewhat of cau­tion and vigilancy, and therefore of fear and godly sorrow to teach us to rellish grace the more: And that our condition should have in it much of necessity and trouble, to drive us homeward to God, who is our rest. And how aptly doth the very permission of sin it self, subserve this end?

6. How wisely is it thus contrived, that Glory at last should be better rellished, and that man who hath the Joy should give God the Glory; and be bound to this by a double obliga­tion.

7. How aptly is this remedying design, and all the work of mans Redemption, and all the Precepts of the Gospel, built upon, or planted into the Law of natural perfection: Faith being but the means to recover Love; and Grace being to Nature, but as Medicine is to the Body; and being to Glo­ry, as Medicine is to Health: So that as a man that was never taught to speak, or to go, or to do any work, or to know any science, or trade, or business, which must be known acquisitively, is a miserable man, as wanting all that which should help him to use his natural powers to their proper ends; so it is much more with him that hath Nature without Grace, which must heal it, and use it to its proper ends.

8. So that it appeareth, that as the Love of Perfection is fitly called the Law of Nature, because it is agreeable to man in his Natural state of Innocency; so the Law of Grace may be now called, the Law of depraved Nature, because it is as suit­able to lapsed man. And when our pravity is undeniable, how credible should it be, that we have such a Law?

9. And there is nothing in the Gospel, either unsuitable to the first Law of Nature, or contradictory to it, or yet of any alien nature; but only that which hath the most excellent ap­titude to subserve it: Giving the Glory to God in the highest, by restoring Peace unto the Earth, and Goodness towards men.

[Page 102]10. And when the Divine Monarchy is apt in the order of Government, to communicate some Image of it self to the Creature, as well as the Divine Perfections have communicated their Image to the Creatures in their Natures or Beings, how wisely it is ordered, that mankind should have one universal Vicarious Head or Monarch? There is great reason to believe that there is Monarchy among Angels: And in the world it most apparently excelleth all other forms of Government, in order to Ʋnity, and Strength, and Glory: and if it be apter than some others to degenerate into oppressing Tyranny, that is only caused by the great corruption of humane Nature: and therefore if we have a Head who hath no such corruption, there is no place for that objection. And as it is not credible that God would make no communication of this Image of his Dominions in the world; so it is certain, that besides the Lord Jesus, the world hath no other Universal Head (what­ever the Pope may pretend, to be an Ʋniversal Vicarious Mo­narch, under the Ʋniversal Vicarious Monarch.) Kingdoms have their Monarchs subordinate to Christ; but the world hath none but Christ alone.

11. And how meet was it that he who was the Monarch or Deputy of God, should be also the Mediatour! and that a pol­luted sinner dwelling in clay, should not come immediately to God, but by a Reconciler, who is worthy to prevail.

12. And when we had lost the knowledge of God, and of the world to come, and of the way thereto; yea and of our selves too, and our own immortality of soul; how meet was it that a sure Revelation should settle us; that we might know what to seek, and whither to return, and by what way! seeing Light must be the guide of our Love and Power. And who could so infallibly and satisfactorily do this, as a Teacher sent from God, of perfectest knowledge and veracity.

13. And when God intended the free forgiveness of our sins, how meet was it that he who would be the Mediatour of our pardon, should yield to those terms, which are consistent with the ends of Government, and expose not the wisdom, and veracity, and justice, and the Laws of God to the worlds contempt: If no mark of odiousness should be put upon sin, nor any demonstration of Justice been made, the Devil would [Page 103] have triumphed, and said, Did not I say truer than God? when he told you of dying, and I told you that you should not die? And if the grand penalty had been remitted to the world, for four thousand years together successively, without any suffi­cient demonstration of Gods Justice undertaken, why should any sinner have feared Hell to the worlds end? If you say, that Repentance alone might be sufficient, I answer, 1. That is no vindication of the Justice and Truth of the Law-maker. 2. Who should bring a sinner to Repentance, whose heart is corrupted with the love of sin? 3. It would hinder Repen­tance, if men knew that God can forgive all the world upon bare Repentance, without any reparation of the breaches made by sin, in the order of the world. For if he that threatneth future misery or death for sin, can absolutely dispense with that commination, they may think that he may do so as easily by his threatning of death to the impenitent.

If you say, that Threatnings in a Law, are not false, when they are not fulfilled, because they speak not de event [...], but de debito poenae; I answer, they speak directly only de debito; but withall, he that maketh a Law doth thereby say, This shall be the Rule of your lives, and of my ordinary Judgement. And therefore consequently they speak of an ordinary event also: And they are the Rule of Just Judgement, and therefore Ju­stice must not be contemned by their contempt.

Or if any shall think, that all this proveth not a demonstra­tion of Justice on the Redeemer to be absolutely necessary, but that God could have pardoned the penitent without it; it is nevertheless manifest, that this was a very wise and con­gruous way: As he that cannot prove that God could not have illuminated, and moved, and quickened the inferiour sensitives without the Sun, may yet prove that the Sun is a noble creature, in whose operations Gods Wisdom, and Power, and Goodness do appear.

14. And how agreeable is this doctrine of the Sacrifice of Christ, to the common doctrine of Sacrificing, which hath been received throughout almost all the world! And who can imagine any other original of that practice, so early and so universally obtaining, than either divine revelation, or some­what even in nature, which beareth witness to the necessity [Page 104] of a demonstration of Gods Justice and displeasure against sin?

15. How wisely is it determined of God, that he who undertakes all [...]is, should be Man, and yet more than Man, even God? That the Monarch of Mankind, and the Media­tour, and the Teacher of Man, and the Sacrifice for sin, should not be only of another kind; but that he be one that is fit to be familiar with man, and to be interested naturally in his concerns; and one that is by nature and nearness capable of these undertakings and relations? And yet that he be so high and near the Father, as may put a sufficient value on his works, and make him most meet to mediate for us?

16. How wisely is it ordered, that with a perfect doctrine, we should have the pattern of a perfect life, as knowing how agreeable the way of imitation is to our natures and ne­cessities?

17. And as a pattern of all other vertue is still before us; so how fit was it, especially that we should have a lively ex­ample, to teach us to contemn this deceitful world, and to set little comparatively, by reputation, wealth, preheminence, grandeur, pleasures, yea and life it self, which are the things which all that perish prefer before God and immortality?

18. And how needful is it that they that must be over­taken with renewed faults, should have a daily remedy and refuge, and a plaister for their wounds; and a more accept­able name than their own to plead with God for pardon?

19. How meet was it that our Saviour should rise from the dead (and consequently that he should die) to shew us, that his Sacrifice was accepted, and that there is indeed another life for man; and that death and the grave shall not still de­tain us?

20. And how meet was it that our Saviour should ascend into Heaven, and therein our natures be glorified with God; that he might have all power to finish the work of mans salva­tion, and his possession might be a pledge of our future pos­session?

21. Most wisely also is it ordered of God, that man might not be left under the Covenant of Works, or of entire nature, which after it was broken, could never justifie him, and which [Page 105] was now unsuitable to his lapsed state, and that God should make a New Covenant with him as his Redeemer, as he made the first as his Creatour: and that an Act of general pardon and oblivion, might secure us of forgiveness and everlasting life: And that as we had a Rule to live by for preventing sin and misery, we might have a Rule for our duty in order to our recovery.

22. And what more convenient conditions could this Covenant have had, than [a believing and thankful Acceptance of the mercy, and a penitent and obedient following of our Re­deemer unto everlasting life?]

23. And how convenient is it; that when our King is to depart from earth, and keep his residence in the Court of Heaven, he should appoint his Officers to manage the humane part of his remaining work on earth? And that some should do the extraordinary work, in laying the foundation, and leaving a certain Rule and Order to the rest, and that the rest should proceed to build hereupon; and that the wisest and the best of men, should be the Teachers and Guides of the rest unto the end.

24. And how necessary was it that our Sun in glory should continually send down his beams and influence on the earth? even the Spirit of the Father to be his constant Agent here be­low; and to plead his cause, and do his work on the hearts of men? and that the Apostles, who were to found the Church, should have that Spirit, in so conspicuous a degree, and for such various works of Wonder and Power, as might suffice to confirm their testimony to the world: And that all others as well as they to the end, should have the Spirit for those works of Love and Renovation, which are necessary to their own obedience and salvation.

25. How wisely it is ordered, that he who is our King, is Lord of all, and able to defend his Church, and to repress his proudest enemies.

26. And also that he should be our final Judge, who was our Saviour and Law-giver, and made and sealed that Covenant of Grace by which we must be judged: That Judgement may not be over dreadful, but rather desirable to his faithful ser­vants, who shall openly be justified by him before all.

[Page 106]27. How wisely hath God ordered it, that when death is naturally so terrible to man, we should have a Saviour that went that way before us, and was once dead, but now liveth, and is where we must be, and hath the keyes of death and Heaven; that we may boldly go forth as to his presence, and to the innumerable perfected spirits of the just, and may com­mend our souls to the hands of our Redeemer, and our Head.

28. As also that this should be plainly revealed; and that the Scriptures are written in a method and manner fit for all, even for the meanest, and that Ministers be commanded to open it, and apply it, by translation, exposition, and earnest exhortation; that the remedy may be suited to the nature and extent of the disease: And yet that there be some depths, to keep presumptuous daring wits at a distance, and to humble them, and to exercise our diligence.

29. As also that the life of faith and holiness should have much opposition in the world, that its glory and excellency might the more appear, partly by the presence of its con­traries, and partly by its exercise and victories in its tryals; and that the godly may have use for patience, and fortitude, and every grace; and may be kept the easilier from loving the world, and taught the more to desire the presence of their Lord.

30. Lastly, And how wisely is it ordered, that God in Heaven, from whom all cometh, should be the end of all his graces and our duties? and that himself alone should be our home and happiness; and that as we are made by him, and for him, so we should live with him, to his praise, and in his love for ever: And that there as we shall have both glorified souls and bodies; so both might have a suitable glory; and that our glorified Redeemer might there be in part the Media­tour of our fruition, as here he was the Mediatour of acquisition.

I have recited hastily a few of the parts of this wondrous frame, to shew you, that if you saw them all, and that in the [...]r true order and method, you might not think strange that [Now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places is made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, Ephes. 2.11. which was the first part of Gods Image upon the Chri­stian Religion, which I was to shew you.

But besides all this, the WISDOM of God is expressed in [Page 107] the holy Scriptures thes [...] several waies: 1. In the Revelation of things past, which could not be known by any mortal man: As the Creation of the world, and what was therein done, before man himself was made: Which experience it self doth help us to believe, because we see exceeding great probabi­lities that the world was not eternal, nor of any longer du­ration than the Scriptures mention: in that no place on earth hath any true monument of ancienter original; and in that humane Sciences and Arts are yet so imperfect, and such im­portant additions are made but of late.

2. In the Revelation of things distant, out of the reach of mans discovery. So Scripture, History, and Prophecy do fre­quently speak of preparations and actions of Princes and people afar of.

3. In the Revelation of the secrets of mens hearts: As Elisha told Gebe [...]i what he did at a distance: Christ told Nathaniel what he said, and where: So frequently Christ told the Jews, and his Disciples, what they thought, and shewed that he knew the heart of man: To which we may add, the searching power of the Word of God, which doth so notably rip up the secrets of mens corruptions, and may shew all mens hearts unto themselves.

4. In the Revelation of contingent things to come, which is most frequent in the Prophecies and Promises of the Scripture: not only in the Old Testament, as Daniel, &c. but also in the Gospel. When Christ foretelleth his death and resurrection, and the usage and successes of his Apostles, and promiseth them the miraculous gifts of the Spirit; and foretold Peters thrice denying him; and foretold the grievous destr [...]ction of Jerusalem, with other such like clear predictions.

5. But nothing of all these predictions doth shine so clearly to our selves, as those great Promises of Christ, which are fulfilled to our selves, in all generations. Even the Promises and Prophetical descriptions of the great work of Conversion, Regeneration or Sanctification upon mens souls, which is wrought in all Ages, just according to the delineations of it in the world: All the humblings, the repentings, the desires, the faith, the joyes, the prayers, and the answers of them, which were foretold, and was found in the first Believers, are [Page 108] performed and given to all true Christians to this day.

To which may be added, all the Prophecies of the extent of the Church; of the conversion of the Kingdoms of the world to Christ; and of the oppositions of the ungodly fort thereto; and of the persecutions of the followers of Christ, which are all fulfilled.

6. The WISDOM of God also is clearly manifested in the concatenation or harmony of all these Revelations: Not only that there is no real contradiction between them, but that they all conjunctly compose one entire frame: As the age of man goeth on from infancy to maturity, and nature fitteth her endowments and provisions accordingly to each degree; so hath the Church proceeded from its infancy, and so have the Revelations of God been suited to its several times: Christ who was promised to Adam, and the Fathers before Moses, for the first two thousand years, and signified by their Sacri­fices; was more fully revealed for the next two thousand years, by Moses first in a typical Gospel (the adumbration of the grace to come) and then by the Prophets, (especially Isaiah, Micah, Daniel and Malachi) in plainer predictions. And then came John Baptist the fore-runner, and Christ the Messiah, and the Spirit upon the Apostles, and finished the Revelation: So that it may appear to be all one frame, con­trived and indicted by one Spirit. And the effects of it have been according to these degrees of the Revelation.

And the end of the world (whether at the end of the last two thousand years, or when else God pleaseth) will shortly shew the unbelieving themselves, that the period shall ful­fill what is yet unfulfilled to the least jot and tittle.

CHAP. V. The Image of Gods Goodness.

II. THE second part of Gods Image on our Religion, is that of his matchless GOODNESS. The whole systeme of it is, the harmonious expression of GODS HO­LINESS and LOVE. The particulars I must but name, lest I be too long.

[Page 109]1. The Author of it, Jesus Christ, was perfectly Good him­self; being God and man; sinless in nature, and in life; living, and dying, and rising to do good; and making it his office and his work, even in Heaven, to do mankind the greatest good.

2. The Matter of the Christian Religion, is GOD him­self the infinite Good. The use of it is, to teach men to know God, and to bring us to him. To which end it maketh a fuller discovery of his blessed nature, attributes and works, than is any where else to be found in this world.

3. The utmost End of it is the highest imaginable; the pleasing and glorifying of God: For he that is the Beginning of all, must needs be the End of all.

4. It leadeth man to the highest state of felicity for himself (which is an End conjunct in subordination to the highest.) There can be no greater happiness imaginable, than the Chri­stian Religion directeth us to attain.

5. It placeth our happiness so certainly and clearly in that which is happiness indeed, that it directeth mans intentions, and desires, and leaveth them no longer to the old variety of opinions about the chiefest good: Nature perfected, and working by its perfectest acts upon the most perfect object, and receiving the most full communications from him, and this for ever, must needs be the most perfect felicity of man. To have all our faculties fully perfect, and to live for ever in the perfect light and love of God, and to be accordingly be­loved of him; this is the end of Christianity.

6. To this end, the whole design of the Christian Religion is to make man good, and to cure him of all evil, and to pre­pare him justly for that blessed state.

7. To that end the great work of Jesus Christ is, to send down the sanctifying Spirit of God, to make men new creatures, and to regenerate them to the Nature of God himself, and to a heavenly mind and life: That they may not only have pre­cepts which are good, but the power of God to make them good, and a heavenly principle to fit them for Heaven.

8. To that end, the principal means is, the fullest revela­tion of the love of God to man, that ever was made, and more than is any where else revealed. All the design of Christianity [Page 110] is but to shew God to man, in the fullest prospect of his Good­ness and unmeasurable Love, that so he may appear more ami­able to us; and may be more beloved by us; that Loving Good­ness may make us good, and make us happy.

9. To encourage us to Love and Goodness, God doth in the Gospel give us the pardon of all our sins, as soon as ever we turn to him by Faith and Repentance: Though we have deserved Hell, he declareth that he will forgive us that desert. If we had come to Hell before we had been redeemed, I think we should have taken that Religion to be good indeed, which would have brought us the tydings of forgiveness, and shewed us so ready a way to escape.

10. And this mercy is given by an Ʋniversal Covenant, of­fered to all, without exception: And the Conditions are so reasonable, that no one can have any just pretence against them. It is but to accept the mercy offered with a believing thankfull mind, as a condemned man would do a pardon. And what can be more suitable to our miserable state?

11. And to bring us to all this, and make us holy, Christ hath given us a most holy word and doctrine: perfectly holy in its precepts, and in its prohibitions, and all the subservient histories and narratives: And he hath added the perfect pat­tern of his holy life, that our Rule and Example might agree.

12. So good is this word, that it calleth us to the highest degree of Goodness, and maketh Perfection it self our duty; that our duty and happiness may agree; and we may not have li­berty to be bad and miserable; but may be every way bound to our own felicity: And yet so good is this Covenant of Grace, that it taketh not advantage of our infirmities to ruine us, but noteth them to humble us, in order to our cure: And i [...] accepteth sincerity, though it command perfection. And Christ looketh not at our failings, as a severe Judge, but as a Phy­sician, and a tender Father.

13. So good is our Religion, that the great thing which it requireth of us, is to prefer the greatest good, before the lesser, and not to be like children who take it for their riches to fill their pin-box; or like foolish Merchants, who had rather trade for truth, th [...]n for gold. The great busines [...] of Christian precept [...] is, to make us know that we are capable of better things than [Page 111] meat, and drink, and lust, and sports, and wealth, and worldly honours; that the Love of God, and the felicity of the soul, in Grace and Glory, may be preferred before the pleasure of a Swine. And is not that good, which calleth us up to the greatest good, and will not allow us to be such enemies to our selves, as to take up with the lesser?

14. Yea, when we have most, it still engageth us to seek more: And will not allow us to take up with a low degree of grace, or with a little measure of the greatest good: But to shew that God would have us to be still better, and to have more, it is made our duty still to ask more, and still to press higher, and labour to be better. Asking in prayer is made our daily work; and Gods giving, and our receiving may be our daily blessedness.

15. The mercies here provided for us, extend both to soul and body: For though we may not prefer the less before the greater; yet we shall have it in its place: If we seek first the Kingdom of God, and its righteousness, and labour first for the food which never perisheth, all other things shall be added to us: We shall have then to do us good, but not to do us hurt. For godliness is profitable to all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come, 1 Tim. 4.7, 8. & 6.6.

16. And the future perfect Goodness, may invite us to pre­sent imperfect Goodness, the Promises of the Gospel do second the Precepts, with the strongest motives in the world: so that everlasting blessedness and joy, is made the reward of tempo­ral sincerity, in faith, love, and obedience. And if Heaven it self be not a reward sufficient to invite men to be good, there is none sufficient.

17. Yea the penalties and severities of the Christian Religion, do shew the Goodness of it. When God doth therefore threaten Hell to save men from it, and to draw them up to the obe­dience of the Gospel: Threatned evil of punishment, is but to keep them from the evil of sin, and to make men better: And he that will testifie his hatred of sinful evil to the highest, doth shew himself the greatest enemy of it, and the greatest lover of good; and he that setteth the sharpest hedge before us, and the terrible warnings to keep us from damnation, [Page 112] doth shew himself most willing to save us.

18. So good is Christianity, that it turneth all our afflictions unto good: It assureth us that they are sent as needful medi­cine, however merited by our sin: And it directeth us how to bear them easily, and to make them sweet, and safe, and pro­fitable, and to turn them to our increase of holiness, and to the furtherance of our greatest good, Heb. 1, to 13. Rom. 8.18. 2 Cor. 4.16, 17, 18.

19. It also stablisheth a perpetual office, even the sacred Ministry, for the fuller and surer communication of all this good forementioned. In which observe these particulars, which shew the greatness of this benefit. 1. The persons called to it, must (by Christs appointment) be the wisest and best of men that can be had. 2. The number of them is to be suited to the number of the people, so that none may be without the benefit. 3. Their work is, to declare all this foremention­ed Goodness and Love of God to man, and to offer them all this grace and mercy; and to teach them to be holy and happy, and to set before them the everlasting joyes. 4. The manner of their doing it must be with humility, as the servants of all; with tender love, as Fathers of the flock; with wis­dom and skill, lest their work be frustrate; with the greatest importunity, even compelling them to come in, as men that are loth to take any denyal; and with patient enduring all oppositions, as those that had rather suffer any thing, than the peoples souls shall be unhealed, and be damned; and they must conrinue to the end, as those that will never give up a soul as desperate and lost, while there is any hope: And all this must be seconded with their own example of holiness, temperance and love, Acts 20. 2 Tim. 2.24, 25. Matth. 22.8, 9.

20. So good is our Religion, that nothing but doing good is the work in which it doth employ us. Besides all the good of piety and self-preservation, it requireth us to live in love to others, and to do all the good in the world that we are able, Ephes. 2.10. Mat. 5.16. & 6.1, 2, &c. Titus 2.14. Gal. 6.7, 8, 9. Good works must be our study and our life: Our work and our delight: Even our enemies we must love and do good to, Mat. 5.44. Rom. 12.19, 20, 21. And sure that do­ctrine is good, which is purposely to employ men in doing good to all.

[Page 113]21. So good is Christianity, that it favoureth not any one sin, but is the greatest condemner of them all. It is all for knowledge against hurtful ignorance; it is all for humility against all pride; for self-denyal against all injurious selfishness; for spi­rituality, and the dominion of true Reason, against sensuality and the dominion of the flesh; for heavenliness against a worldly mind; for sincerity and simplicity against all hypocrisie and deceit; for love against malice; for unity and peace against divisions and contentions; for justice and lenity in superiours, and obedience and patience in inferiours; for faithfulness in all relations: Its precepts extend to secret as well as open pra­ctices; to the desires and thoughts, as well as to the words and deeds: It alloweth not a thought, or word, or action, which is ungodly, intemperate, rebellious, injurious, unchaste, or co­vetous or uncharitable, Mat. 5.

22. All the troublesome part of our Religion, is but our warfare against evil; against sin, and the temptations which would make us sinful: And it must needs be good, if all the conflicting part of it be only against evil, Gal. 5.17, 21, 23. Rom. 6. & 7. & 8.1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13.

23. It teacheth us the only way to live in the greatest and most constant joy. If we attain not this, it is because we fol­low not its precepts. If endless joy foreseen, and all the foresaid mercies in the way, are not matter for continual de­light, there is no greater to be thought on. Rejoycing alwaies in the Lord, even in our sharpest persecutions, is a great part of Religious duty, Phil. 3.1, & 4.4. Psal. 33.1. Zech. 10.7. Mat. 5.11, 12. Deut. 12.12, 18.

24. It overcometh both the danger and the fear of death; and that must be good, which conquereth so great an evil; and maketh the day of the ungodly's fears, and utter misery, to be the day of our desire and felicity, Rom. 6.23. 1 Cor. 15.55. Col. 3.1, 4. Phil. 3.21.

25. It obligeth all the Rulers of the world to use all their power to do good; against all sin within their reach; and to make their subjects happy both in body and in soul, Rom. 13.3, 4, 5, 6.

26. It appointeth Churches to be Societies of Saints, that ho­liness and goodness combined may be strong and honourable, [Page 114] 1 Cor. 1.1. & 2.1. 1. Heb. 3.13. 1 Thes. 5.12, 13. That ho­ly Assemblies employed in the holy love and praises of God, might be a representation of the heavenly Jerusalem, Col. 2.5.

27. It doth make the Love and Ʋnion of all the Saints to be so strict, that the mercies and joyes of every member, might extend to all: All the corporal and spiritual blessings of all the Christians, (yea and persons) in the world, are mine as to my comfort, as long as I can love them as my self: If it would please me to be rich, or honourable, or learned my self, it must please me also to have them so, whom I love as my self. And when millions have so much matter for my joy, how joyfully should I then live! And though I am obliged also to sorrow with them, it is with such a sorrow only, as shall not hinder any seasonable joy, 1 Cor. 12.

28. In these societies, every member is bound to contribute his help to the benefit of each other; so that I have as many obliged to do me good, as there be Christians in the world; at least, according to their several opportunities and capaci­ties; by prayer and such distant means, if they can do no more. And the Religion which giveth every man so great an interest, in the good of all others, and engageth all men to do good to one another is evidently good it self, 1 Cor. 12. Ephes. 4.15, 16.

29. And all this good is not destroyed, but advantaged and aggravated accidentally by our sin: So that where sin abound­ed, there grace did superabound, Rom. 5.15, 16, 17, 18, 19. Grace hath taken occasion by sin to be Grace indeed, and to be the greater manifestation of the goodness of God, and the greater obligation for gratitude to the sinner.

30. Lastly, All this Goodness is beautified by harmony; it is all placed in a perfect order. One mercy doth not keep us from another; nor one grace oppose another: nor one duty exclude another. As it is the great declaration of Mercy and Justice wonderfully conspiring in God; (Mercy so used as to magnifie Justice; Justice so used as to magnifie Mercy, and not only so as to consist) so also it worketh answerably on us: It setteth not Love against filial fear, not joy against necessary sorrow, nor faith against repentance, nor praise and thanksgiving [Page 115] against penitent confession of sin, nor true repentance against the profitable use of the creatures, nor the care of our souls against the peace and quiet of our minds, nor care for our families, against contentedness and trusting God, nor our la­bour against our necessary rest, nor self-denyal against the due care of our own welfare, nor patience against due sensibility, and lawful passion, nor mercy to men against true justice, nor publick and private good against each, nor doth it set the duty of the Soveraign and the Subject, the Master and the Servant, the Pastor and the Flock, nor yet their interest, in any contrariety; but all parts of Religion know their place; and every duty (even those which seem most opposite) are helpful to each other; and all interests are co-ordinate; and all doth contribute to the good of the whole, and of every part, Ephes. 4.2, 3, 15, 16.

And now peruse all this together (but let it have more of your thoughts by far, than it hath had of my words) and then determine indifferently, whether the Christian Religion bear not the lively Image and superscription of GOD the prime essential GOOD.

But all this will be more manifest, when we have consider­ed how POWER hath in the execution, brought all this into effect.

CHAP. VI. The Image of Gods Power.

III. THE third part of Gods Image and superscription on the Christian Religion, is his POWER: And as mans own corruption lyeth more in the want of Wisdom and Good­ness, than of Power; therefore he is less capable of discerning God, in the impressions of his Wisdom and Goodness, than of his Power: seeing therefore he is here most capable of con­viction, and acknowledging the hand of God, I shall open this also in the several parts, in some degree.

1. In the history of the Creation, the Omnipotency of God is abundantly set forth; which is proved true, both by the [Page 116] agreeableness of the history to the effects, and by much subse­quent evidence of the Writers Veracity.

2. The same may be said of Gods drowning the old world, and the preserving of Noah and his family in the Ark.

3. And of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from Heaven.

4. The many miracles done by Moses upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and in the opening of the Red Sea, and in the feeding of the Israelites in the wilderness, and keeping their cloths from wearing for forty years; and the pillar which went before them as a fire by night, and a cloud by day, for so long time; and the darkness, and thunder, and trembling of the Mount at the giving of the Law; with the rest of the Miracles then done, not in a corner, or before a few, but be­fore all the people; who were perswaded to receive and obey the Law, by the reason of these motives which their eyes had seen: And if all this had been false; if no plagues had been shewed on Egypt; if no Red Sea had opened; if no Pillar had gone before them; if no such terrible sights and sounds at Mount Sinai had prepared them for the Law; such reasons would have been so unfit to have perswaded them to obe­dience, that they would rather with any reasonable creatures, have procured scorn.

And to shew posterity, that the history of all this was not forged, or to be suspected; 1. They had the Law it self then delivered in two Tables of stone to be still seen. 2. They had a pot of Manna still preserved. 3. They had the miracle-working Rod of Moses and Aaron kept likewise as a monu­ment. 4. They had an Ark of purpose to keep these in, and that in the most inviolable place of worship. 5. They had the braz [...]n Serpent (till Hezekiah broke it) still to be seen. 6. They had the song of their deliverance at the Red Sea for their con­tinued use. 7. They had set feasts to keep the chief of all these things in remembrance. They had the feast of unleavened bread, which all Israel was to observe for seven daies, to keep the remembrance of their passing out of Egypt in so great haste, that they could not stay to knead up, and make their bread, but took it as in meal or unready dough. They had the feast of the Passeover, when every family was to eat of the Paschal [Page 117] Lamb, and the door posts to be sprinkled with the blood, to keep in remembrance the night when the Egyptians first born were destroyed, and the Israelites all preserved. And if these had been instituted at that time, upon a pretended occasion which they knew to be untrue, they would rather have de­rided than observed them. If they had been afterwards insti­tuted in another generation which knew not the story, the beginning would have been known, and the fiction of the name and institution of Moses would have been apparent to all; and the institution would not have been found in the same Law, which was given by Moses: And it could not have been so expresly said, that the Israelites did all observe these feasts and solemnities from the very time of their deliverance, but in those times when the forgery began, all would have known it to be false. 8. And they had many other words and ceremonies among them, and even in Gods Publick Worship, which were all used to keep up the memory of these things. 9. And they had an office of Priesthood constantly among them, which saw to the execution and preservation of all these. 10. And they had a form of civil Policy then established, and and the Rulers were to preserve the memory of these things, and the practice of this Law, and to learn it themselves, and govern by it: so that the very form of the Common-wealth, and the order of it, was a commemoration hereof: And the Parents were to teach and tell their children all these things, and to expound all these Solemnities, Laws and Ceremonies to them: so that the frame of Church, and State, and Fami­lies, was a preservative hereof.

5. But, to pass by all the rest in the Old Testament, the In­carnation of Christ was such a work of Omnipotent Love, as ca [...]not by us be comprehended. That God should be united to humanity in person! that humanity should thus be ad­vanced into union with the Deity! and Man be set above the Angels! that a Virgin should conceive! that men from the East should be led thither to worship an Infant by the conduct of a Star (which Caesarius thinketh was one of those Angels or Spirits which are called a flame of fire, Psal. 104.4.) That Angels from Heaven should declare his nativity to the Shep­herds, and celebrate it with their praises: that John Baptist [Page 118] should be so called to be his forerunner, and Elizabeth, Zacha­ry, Simeon, and Anna, should so prophesie of him: That the Spirit should be seen descending on him at his Baptism, and the voice be heard from Heaven, which owned him: that he should fast forty daies and nights; and that he should be trans­figured before his three Disciples on the Mount, and Moses and Elias seen with him in that glory; and the voice from Heaven again bear witness to him: These, and many such like were the attestations of Divine Omnipotency to the truth of Christ.

6. To these may be next joyned, the whole course of mi­racles performed by Christ, in healing the sick, and raising the dead; and in many other miraculous acts, which are most of the substance of the Gospel-history, and which I have recited together in my Reasons of the Christian Religion; see Heb. 2.2, 3, 4.

7. And to these may be added, the Power which was given over all the creatures, to Christ our Mediatour. All power in Heaven and Earth was given him, Joh. 17.2. & 13.3. Mat. 28.19. Rom. 14.9. Ephes. 1.22, 23. He was made Head over all things to the Church, and all principalities and powers were put under him! And this was not barely assert­ed by him, but demonstrated. He shewed his power over the Devils in casting them out: and his power over Angels by their attendance: and his power of life and death, by rais­ing the dead: and his power over all diseases, by healing them: and his power over the winds and waters, by ap­peasing them: and his power over our food and natures, by turning water into wine, and by feeding many thousands mi­raculously: yea and his power over them into whose hands he was resolved to yield himself, by restraining them till his hour was come, and by making them all fall to the ground at his name: and his power over Sun, and Heaven, and Earth, by the darkening of the Sun, and the trembling of the Earth, and the rending of the Rocks, and of the Vail of the Temple, Mat. 27.45, 51. And his power over the dead, by the rising of the bodies of many, Mat. 27.52. And his power over the Saints in Heaven, by the attendance of Moses and Elias: and his power to forgive sins, by taking away the penal maladies; [Page 119] and his power to change hearts, and save souls, by causing his Disciples to leave all and follow him at a word; and Za­cheus to receive him, and believe; and the thief on the cross to be converted, and to enter that day into Paradise.

8. And his own Resurrection is an undoubted attestation of Divine Omnipotency. If God gave him such a victory over death, and raised him to life when men had killed him, and rolled a stone upon his Sepulchre, and sealed and guarded it, there needeth no further evidence of the Power of God impressing and attesting the Christian Religion, than that which ascertaineth to us the truth of Christs Resurrection. For he was declared to be the Son of God by POWER, by resur­rection from the dead, Rom. 1.4.

9. And his bodily appearance to his congregated Disciples when the doors were shut; his miracle at their fishing, his walking on the Sea, his vanishing out of their sight, Luke 24. when he had discoursed with the two Disciples, his opening their hearts to understand his Word, &c. do all shew this part of Gods Image on our Religion, even his Power.

10. And so doth his bodily ascending into Heaven before the face of his Disciples, Acts 1.

11. But especially the sending down the Holy Ghost upon his Disciples according as he promised: To cause them that were before so low in knowledge, to be suddenly inspired with languages, and with the full understanding of his own will, and with unanimity and concord herein; this made his Disciples the living monuments and effects of his own Omni­potency, Acts 2.

12. And accordingly all the miracles which they did by this power, recorded partly in the Acts of the Apostles, (or rather, the Acts of Paul, by Luke who was his companion;) which you may there read (and no doubt but other Apostles in their measures did the like as Paul, though they are not re­corded; for they had all the same Promise and Spirit.) This is another impression of POWER.

13. Whereto must be added the great and wonderful gifts of communicating the same Spirit (or doing that upon which God would give it) to those converted Believers on whom they laid their hands (which Simon Magus would fain have [Page 120] bought with money, Acts 8.) To enable them to speak with tongues, to heal diseases, to prophesie, &c. as they themselves had done, which is a great attestation of Omnipotency.

14. And the lamentable destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, foretold by Christ, was an attestation of Gods POWER in the revenge or punishment of their unbelief, and putting Christ to death.

15. And so was the great fortitude and constancy of Be­lievers, who underwent all persecutions so joyfully as they did for the sake of Christ; which was the effect of the corro­borating Power of the Almighty.

16. And so was the Power which the Apostles had to exe­cute present judgements upon the enemies of the Gospel, (as Elimas and Simon Magus) and on the abusers of Religion (as Ananias and Saphyra) and on many whom they excommu­nicated and delivered up to Satan.

17. The same evidence is found in Christs Legislation, as an universal Soveraign making Laws for heart and life, for all the world: Taking down the Laws of the Jewish Polity and Ceremonies, which God by Moses had for a time set up: Com­manding his Ministers to proclaim his Laws to all the world, and Princes and people to obey them: And by these Laws, conferring on Believers no less than forgiveness and salvation, and binding over the impenitent to everlasting punish­ment.

18. But the great and continued impress of Gods Power, is that which together with his Wisdom and Love, is made and shewed in the conve [...]sion of mens souls to God by Christ. You may here first consider the numbers which were suddenly converted by the preaching of the Apostles at the first. And in how little time there were Churches planted abroad the world: And then, how the Roman Empire was brought in, and subdued to Christ, and Crowns and Scepters resigned to him; and all this according to his own prediction, that when he was lifted up, he would draw all men to him; and accord­ing to the predictions of his Prophets. But that which I would especially open, is, the POWER which is manifested in the work of the Spirit on the souls of men, both then and to this day.

[Page 121]Hitherto what I have mentioned belonging to the Scripture it self; it is to be taken as part of our Religion objectively con­sidered: But that which followeth is the effect of that, even our Religion subjectively considered: To observe how God maketh men Believers, and by believing sanctifieth their hearts and lives, is a great motive to further our own believing. Con­sider the work, 1. As it is in it self, 2. As it is opposed by all its enemies, and you may see that it is the work of God.

1. As the Goodness, so also the Greatness of it, is Gods own Image. It is the raising up of our stupid faculties to be lively and active to those holy uses, to which they were become as dead by sin. To cause in an unlearned person, a firmer and more distinct belief of the unseen world, than the most learn­ed Philosophers can attain to by all their natural contempla­tions: To bring up a soul to place its happiness on things so high, and far from sense! To cause him who naturally is im­prisoned in selfishness, to deny himself, and devote himself en­tirely to God; to love him, to trust him, and to live to him! To raise an earthly mind to Heaven, that our busi­ness and hope may be daily there! To overcome our pride, and sensuality, and bring our senses in subjection unto reason, and to keep a holy government in our thoughts, and over our passions, words and deeds; And to live in continual preparation for death, as the only time of our true felicity: And to suffer any loss or pain for the safe accom­plishment of this! All this is the work of the POWER of God.

2. Which will the more appear when we consider, what is done against it within us and without us! what privative and positive averseness we have to it, till God do send down that Life, and Light, and Love into our souls, which is indeed his Image! How violently our fleshly sense and appetite, strive against the restraints of God, and would hurry us contrary to the motions of grace! How importunately Satan joyneth with his suggestions! What baits the world doth still set be­fore us, to divert us, and pervert us! And how many instru­ments of its flattery, or its cruelty, are still at work, to stop us, or to turn us back! to invite our affections down to [Page 122] Earth, and ensnare them to some deluding vainty, or to di­stract us in our heavenly design, and to a [...]right or discourage us from the holy way.

And if we think this an easie work, because it is also rea­sonable, do but observe how hardly it goeth on, till the POWER of God by grace accomplish it! what a deal of pains may the best and wisest Parents take with a graceless child, and all in vain! what labours the worthiest Ministers lose on graceless people! and how blind, and dead, and sense­less a thing, the graceless heart is, to any thing that is holy, even when reason it self cannot gainsay it! And God is pleased oft-times to weary out Parents, and Masters, and Ministers, with such unteachable and stony hearts, to make them know what naturally they are themselves, to bring them to the more lively acknowledgement of the POWER which is ne­cessary to renew and save a soul. But having spoken at large of this in the formentioned Treatise, I shall take up with these brief intimations.

19. And the preservation of that Grace in the soul which is once given us, is also an effect of the POWER of God. Our strength is in the Lord, and in the power of his might, Eph. 6.10. It is our Lord himself, who is the Lord of life, and whose Priesthood was made after the power of an endless life, Heb. 7.16. who giveth us the Spirit of Power and of Love, and of a sound mind, 2 Tim. 1.7. (or of received wisdom, for [...] is sound understanding received by instruction: And this text expresseth the three parts of Gods Image in the new Creature, [...]. And as Power is given us with Love and Wisdom; so Power with Love and Wisdom do give it us; and Power also must pre­serve it, 1 Pet. 1.5. We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, 2 Tim. 1.8. According to the power of God who hath saved us. The Gospel is the Power of God (that is, the instrument of his Power) to our salvation. Rom. 1.16. So 1 Cor. 1.18, To us that are saved it is the power of God; because Christ whom it revealeth, is the power and wisdom of God, v. 24. And thus our faith standeth in the power of God, 1 Cor. 2.5. 2 Cor. 6.7. And the Kingdom of God in us doth consist in power, 1 Cor. 4.20. The mind of man is very [Page 123] mutable; and he that is possessed once with the desires of things spiritual and eternal, would quickly lose those desires, and turn to present things again, (which are still before him, while higher things are beyond our sense) if the Power and Activity of the divine life, did not preserve the spark which is kindled in us. Though the doctrine of Perseverance be con­troverted in the Christian Church, yet experience assureth us of that which all parties are agreed in: Some hold that all true Christians persevere; and some hold that all confirmed Christians persevere (that is, those who come to a strong de­gree of grace) but those that think otherwise do yet all grant, that if any fall away, it is comparatively but a very few, of those who are sincere. When none would persevere if Omni­potency did not preserve them.

20. Lastly, The POWER of God also doth consequently own the Christian Religion, by the Preservation of the Church, in this malicious and opposing world (as well as by the pre­servation of grace in the soul) which will be the more appa­rent if you observe, 1. That the number of true Christians is still very small in comparison of the wicked. 2. That all wicked men are naturally (by the corruption of nature) their enemies; because the precepts and practice of Christianity are utterly against their carnal minds and interests. 3. That the doctrine and practice of Christianity is still galling them, and exciting and sublimating this enmity into rage: And God doth by persecutions ordinarily tell us to our smart, that all this is true. 4. That all carnal men are exceeding hardly moved from their own way. 5. That the Government of the Earth is commonly in their hand, because of their numbers, and their wealth. For it is commonly the rich that rule; and the rich are usually bad; so that the godly Christians are in their power. 6. That all the Hypocrites that are among our selves, have the same sinful nature and enmity against holiness, and are usually as bitter against the power and practice of their own profession, as open Infidels are. 7. That Christianity is not a fruit of nature; Non nati sed facti sumus Christiani, said Tertullian. And therefore if Gods Power preserved not Re­ligion, the degenerating of the Christians children from their Parents mind and way, would hasten its extinction in the [Page 124] world. 8. And as it is a Religion which must be taught us; so it requireth or consisteth in so much wisdom, and willingness, and fortitude of mind, that few are naturally apt to receive it▪ because folly, and badness, and feebleness of mind are so common in the world. And as we see that Learning will never be common but in the possession of a very few, because a na­tural ingenuity is necessary thereto, which few are born with; so would it be with Christianity, if Divine Power maintained it not. 9. And it is a Religion which requireth much time and contemplation, in the learning and in the practising of it: whereas the world are taken up with so much business for the body, and are so slothful to those exercises of the mind, which bring them no present sensible commodity, that this also would quickly wear it out. 10. And then the terms of it being so contrary to all mens fleshly interest and sense, in self-denyal, and forsaking all for Christ; and in mortifying the most beloved sins, and the world putting us to it so ordi­narily by persecution; this also would deter the most, and wea­ry out the rest, if the Power of God did not uphold them. That which is done by exceeding industry, against the inclina­tions and interest of nature, will have no considerable number of practisers. As we see in horses and dogs which are ca­pable with great labour, of being taught extraordinary things in the semblance of reason: And yet because it must cost so much labour, there is but one in a Country that is brought to it. But (though the truly religious are but few in com­parison of the wicked, yet) godly persons are not so few as they would be, if it were the work of industry alone. God maketh it as a new nature to them; and (which is very much to be observed) the main change is oft-times wrought in an hour, and that after all exhortations, and the labours of Parents and Teachers have failed, and left the sinner as seem­ingly hopeless.

And thus I have shewed you 1. That our Religion objective­ly taken, is the Image of Gods WISDOM, GOODNESS and POWER, and thereby fully proved to be from GOD. 2. And that our Religion subjectively taken, is answerably the Spirit or impress of POWER, and of LOVE, and of SOƲND ƲN­DERSTANDING, and is in us a constant seal and witness to the truth of Christ.

CHAP. VII. The means of making known all this infallibly to us.

I Suppose the evidence of divine attestation is so clear in this Image of God on the Christian Religion, which I have been opening, that few can doubt of it, who are satisfied of the historical truth of the facts; and therefore this is next to be considered, How the certain knowledge of all these things cometh down to us?

The first question is, whether this Doctrine and Religion in­deed be the impress of Gods WISDOM, and his GOODNESS and POWER, supposing the truth of the historical part? This is it which I think that few reasonable persons wil deny: For the doctrine is legible, and sheweth it self.

But the next question is it, which I am now to resolve, How we shall know that this Doctrine was indeed delivered by Christ and his Apostles, and these things done by them, which the Scriptures mention?

And here the first question shall be, How the Apostles, and all other the first witnesses, knew it themselves? For it is by every reasonable man to be supposed, that they who were present, and we who are 1668 years distance, could not re­ceive the knowledge of the matters of fact, in the very same manner. It is certain that their knowledge was by their pre­sent sense and reason: They saw Christ and his miracles: They heard his words: They saw him risen from the dead: They discoursed with him, and eat and drunk with him: They saw him ascending up bodily to Heaven. They need no other Revelation to tell them what they saw, and heard, and felt.

If you had asked them then, H [...]w know you that all these things were said and done? they would have answered you, Because we saw and heard them. But we were not then pre­sent: we did not see, and hear, what they did: Nor did we see or hear them, who were the eye-witnesses. And therefore as their senses told it them; so the natural way for our know­ledge, must be by derivation from their sense to ours: For when [Page 126] they themselves received it in a way so natural, (though not without the help of Gods Spirit, in the remembring, record­ing and attesting it) we that can less pretend to inspiration, or immediate revelation, have small reason to think that we must know the same facts, by either of those supernatural waies. Nor can our knowledge of a history, carryed down through so many ages, be so clearly satisfactory to our selves, as sight and hearing was to them. And yet we have a certainty, not only infallible; but so far satisfactory, as is sufficient to warrant all our faith, and duty, and sufferings for the reward which Christ hath set before us.

Let us next then enquire, How did the first Churches know that the Apostles and other Preachers of the Gospel did not de­ceive them in the matter of fact? I answer, They had their de­grees of assurance or knowledge in this part of their belief. 1. They had the most credible humane testimony of men that were not like to deceive them. But this was not infallible.

2. They had in their testimony the evidence of a natural certainty: It being naturally impossible, that so many persons should agree together to deceive the world, in such matters of fact, at so dear a rate, in the very place and age when the things were pretended to be done and said, when any one might have presently evinced the falshood, if they had been lyars, about the twice feeding of many thousands miraculously, and the raising of the dead, and many other publick miracles, and the darkness at his death, and the rending of the Rocks and Vail of the Temple, and the Earth-quake, and the coming down of the Holy Ghost upon themselves; with many the like they would have been detected and confuted to their confusion: And we should have read what Apologies they made against such detections and confutations! And some of them (at least at their death) would have been forced by conscience, to confess the plot.

3. But to leave no room for doubting, God gave those first Churches, the addition of his own supernatural attestation, by the same threefold impress of his Image before described: 1. In the holy Wisdom and Light which was in their doctrine. 2. In the holy Love, and Piety, and Purity, which was conspicuous in their doctrine, and in their lives. 3. And in the evidences [Page 127] of divine Power, in the many gifts, and wonders and miracles which they wrought and manifested. And these things seem a fuller testimony than the miracles of Christ himself. For Christs miracles were the deeds of one alone; and his resur­rection was witnessed but by twelve chosen witnesses, and about five hundred other persons; and he conversed with them but forty daies, and that by times: But the miracles of the Disciples were wrought by many, and before many thousands, at several times, and in many Countreys, and for many and many years together; and in the sight and hearing of many of the Churches: So that these first Churches had sight and hearing, to assure them of the divine miraculous at­testation of the truth of their testimony, who told them of the doctrines, miracles, and resurrection of Christ: And all this from Christs solemn promise and gift, John. 14.12. Verily, ve­rily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do, shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father.

But if it be demanded, How did the next Christians of the second age, receive all this from the first Churches, who re­ceived it from the Apostles? I answer, by the same evidence, and with some advantages. For 1. They had the credible hu­mane testimony of all their Pastors, Neighbours, Parents, who told them but what they saw and heard. 2. They had a greater evidence of natural infallible certainty: For 1. The doctrine was now delivered to them in the records of the sa­cred Scriptures, and so less liable to the misreports of the ig­norant, forgetful or erroneous. 2. The reporters were now more numerous, and the miracles reported more numerous al­so. 3. They were persons now dispersed over much of the world, and could not possibly agree together to deceive. 4. The deceit would now have been yet more easily detected and abhorred.

3. But besides this, they had also the supernatural testimony of God: For the Apostles converts received the same spirit as they had themselves: And though the miracles of other per­sons were not so numerous as those of the Apostles; yet the persons were many thousands more that wrought them: All this is asserted in the Scripture it self; as Gal. 3.3, 4. [Page 128] 1 Cor. 14. & 12. and many places: And he that should have told them falsly that they themselves had the spirit of extra­ordinary gifts and miracles, would hardly have been believed by them. And all this also the following Ages have them­selves asserted unto us.

The question then which remaineth is, How we receive all this infallibly from the subsequent Ages or Churches to this day? The answer to which is, still by the same way, with yet greater advantages in some respects, though less in others. As 1. We have the humane testimony of all our ancestors, and of many of our enemies. 2. We have greater evidence of natural cer­tainty, that they could not possibly meet or plot together to deceive us. 3. We have still the supernatural divine attestation (though rarely of miracles, yet) of those more necessary and noble operations of the Spirit, in the sanctification of all true Believers; which Spirit accompanieth and worketh by the doctrine which from our ancestors we have received.

More distinctly observe all these conjunct means of our full reception of our Religion.

1. The very Being of the Christians and Churches, is a te­stimony to us that they believed and received this Religion. For what maketh them Christians and Churches but the re­ceiving of it?

2. The ordinance of Baptism, is a notable tradition of it. For all that ever were made Christians, have been baptized: And Baptism is nothing but the solemn initiation of persons into this Religion, by a vowed consent to it, as summarily there expressed in the Christian Covenant. And this was used to be openly done.

3. The use of the Creed, which at Baptism and other sa­cred seasons, was alwaies wont to be professed, (together with the Lords Prayer, and the Decalogue; the summaries of our faith, desire and practice) is another notable tradition; by which this Religion hath been sent down to following Ages: For though perhaps all the terms of the Creed were not so early as some think, thus constantly used; yet all the sense and substance of it was.

4. The holy Scriptures or Records of this Religion, con­taining integrally all the doctrine, and all the necessary matter [Page 129] of fact, is the most compleat way of tradition: And it will appear to you in what further shall be said, that we have in­fallible proof, that these Scriptures are the same, which the first Churches did receive; what ever inconsiderable errours may be crept into any Copies, by the unavoidable oversight of the Scribes.

5. The constant use of the sacred Assemblies, hath been ano­ther means of sure tradition: For we have infallible proof of the successive continuation of such Assemblies; and that their use was still, the solemn profession of the Christian Faith, and worshipping God according to it.

6. And the constant use of Reading the Scriptures in those Assemblies, is another full historical tradition: For that which is constantly and publickly read, as the doctrine of their Re­ligion, cannot be changed, without the notice of all the Church, and without an impossible combination of all the Churches in the world.

7. And it secureth the tradition that one set day hath been kept for this publick exercise of Religion, from the very first; even the Lords day (besides all occasional times) The day it self being appointed to celebrate the memorial of Christs Resurrection, is a most currant history of it; as the feast of unleavened bread, and the Passeover was of the Israelites de­liverance from Egypt. And the exercises still performed on that day, do make the tradition more compleat.

And because some few Sabbatarians among our selves do keep the old Sabbath only, and call still for Scrip [...]ure proof for the institution of the Lords day; let me briefly tell them, that which is enough to evince their errour. 1. That the Apostles were Officers immediately commissioned by Christ, to disciple the Nations, and to teach them all that Christ com­manded, and so to settle Orders in the Church, Mat. 28.19, 20, 21. Acts 15. &c.

2. That Christ promised and gave them his Spirit infallibly to guide them in the performance of this commission (though not to make them perfectly impeccable) John 16.13.

3. That de facto the Apostles appointed the use of the Lords day for the Church Assemblies: This being all that is left to be proved, and this being matter of fact, which [Page 130] requireth no other kind of proof but history, part of the hi­story of it is in the Scripture, and the rest in the history of all following Ages. In the Scripture it self it is evident, that the Churches and the Apostles used this day accordingly: And it hath most infallible history (impossible to be false) that the Churches have used it ever to this day, as that which they found practised in their times by their appointment: And this is not a bare narrative, but an uninterrupted matter of publick fact and practice: So universal, that I remember not in all my reading, that ever one enemy questioned it, or ever one Christian, or Heretick denyed, or once scrupled it. So that they who tell us that all this is yet but humane testimony, do shew their egregious inconsiderations, that know not that such humane testimony or history in a matter of publick con­stant fact, may be most certain, and all that the nature of the case will allow a sober person to require. And they might as well reject the Canon of the Scriptures, because humane testi­mony is it which in point of fact doth certifie us, that these are the very unaltered Canonical Books, which were deliver­ed at first to the Churches: Yea they may reject all the store of historical tradition of Christianity it self, which I am here reciting to the shame of their understandings.

And consider also, that the Lords day was settled, and con­stantly used in solemn worship by the Churches, many and many years before any part of the New Testament was writ­ten; and above threescore years before it was finished. And when the Churches had so many years been in publick posses­sion of it, who would require that the Scriptures should af­ter all, make a Law to institute that which was instituted so long ago.

If you say, that it might have declared the institution, I answer, so it hath, as I have shewed; there needing no other declaration, but 1. Christs commission to the Apostles to order the Church, and declare his commands. 2. And his promise of infallible guidance therein. 3. And the history of the Churches order and practice, to shew de facto, what they did: And that history need not be written in Scripture for the Churches that then were; no more than we need a reve­lation from Heaven to tell us thas the Lords day is kept in [Page 131] England: And sure the next Age needed no supernatural te­stimony of it: and therefore neither do we: But yet it is occasionally oft intimated or expressed in the Scripture, though on the by, as that which was no further necessary.

So that I may well conclude, that we have better historical evidence that the Lords day was actually observed by the Churches, for their publick worship and profession of the Christian Faith, than we have that ever there was such a man as William the Conquerour in England, yea or King James; much more than that there was a Caesar or Cicero.

8. Moreover, the very Office of the Pastors of the Church, and their continuance from the beginning to this day, is a great part of the certain tradition of this Religion. For it is most certain, that the Churches were constituted, and the Assem­blies held, and the worship performed with them, and by their conduct, and not without: And it is certain by infallible hi­story, that their office hath been still the same, even to teach men this Christian Religion, and to guide them in the pra­ctice of it, and to read the same Scriptures as the word of truth, and to explain it to the people. And therefore as the Judicatures and Offices of the Judges is a certain proof that there have been those Laws by which they judge (especially if they had been also the weekly publick Readers and Ex­pounders of them) and so much more is it in our case.

9. And the constant use of the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, hath according to his appointment, been an infallible tradition of his Covenant, and a means to keep him in remembrance in the Churches. For when all the Churches in the world have made this Sacramental Commemoration, and renewed covenanting with Christ as dead and risen, to be their constant publick practice here, is a tradition of that faith and Covenant which cannot be counterfeit or false.

10. To this we may add, the constant use of Discipline in these Churches: it having been their constant law and pra­ctice, to enquire into the faith and lives of the members, and to censure or cast out those that impenitently violated their Religion: which sheweth, that de facto that Faith and Reli­gion was then received; and is a means of delivering it down to us. Under which we may mention 1. Their Synods [Page 132] and Officers. 2. And their Canons by which this Discipline was exercised.

11. Another tradition hath been the published confessions of their Faith and R [...]l [...]g [...]on in those Apologies, which persecutions and calumnies have caused them to write.

12. And another is, all those published Confutations of the many heresies, which in every age have risen up; and all the controversies which the Churches have had with them, and among themselves.

13. And another is, all the Treatises, Sermons, and other instructing writings of the Pastors of those times.

14 And another way of tradition hath been by the testi­mony and sufferings of Confessors and Martyrs, who have en­dured either torments or death, in the defence and owning of this Religion: In all which waies of tradition, the doctrine and the matter were joyntly attested by them. For the Resur­rection of Christ (which is part of the matter of fact) was one of the Articles of their Creed, which they suffered for: And all of them received the holy Scriptures, which declare the Apostles miracles; and they received their faith, as deli­vered by those Apostles, with the confirmation of those mi­racles: So that when they professed to believe the doctrine, they especially professed to believe the history of the life and death of Christ, and of his Apostles: And the Religion which they suffered for, and daily professed, contained both: And the historical Books called the Gospels, were the chief part of the Scripture which they called, The Word of God, and the Records of the Christian Religion.

15. To this I may add, that all the ordinary prayers and praises of the Churches, did continue the recital of much of this history, and of the Apostles names and acts, and were composed much in Scripture phrase, which preserved the memory, and professed the belief of all those things.

16. And the festivals or other dayes, which were kept in ho­nourable commemoration of those Apostles and Martyrs, was another way of keeping these things in memory: Whe­ther it were well done or not, is not my present enquiry (on­ly I may say, I cannot accuse it of any sin, till it come to over-doing, and ascribing too much to them.) But certainly [Page 133] it was a way of transmitting the memory of those things to posterity.

17. Another hath been by the constant commemoration of the great works of Christ, by the dayes or seasons of the year, which were annually observed: How far here also the Church did well▪ or ill, I now meddle not: But doubtless the ob­serving of anniversary solemnities for their commemoration, was a way of preserving the memory of the acts themselves to posterity. How long the day of Christs Nativity hath been celebrated, I know not: Reading what Selden hath said on one side; and on the other finding no currant Author men­tion it (that I have read) before Nazianzene: and finding by Chrysostome, that the Churches of the East, till his time had differed from the Western Churches, as far as the sixth of January is from the 25 of December. But that is of less mo­ment, because Christs birth is a thing unquestioned in it self. But we find that the time of his fasting forty daies, the time of his Passion, and of his Resurrection, and the giving of the Holy Ghost, were long before kept in memory, by some kind of observation by fa [...]ts or festivals: And though there was a controversie about the due season of the successive ob­servation of Easter, yet that signified no uncertainty of the first day, or the season of the year. And though at first it was but few daies that were kept in fasting at that season, yet they were enough to commemorate both the forty daies fasting, and the death of Christ.

18. And the histories of the Heathens and enemies of the Church, do also declare how long Christianity continued, and what they were, and what they suffered who were called Chri­stians; such as Plinies, Celsus, Porphyry, Plotinus, Lucian, Su [...] ­tonius, and others.

19. And the constant instruction of Children by their Pa­rents, which is Family-tradition, hath been a very great means also of this commemoration. For it cannot be (though some be negligent) but that multitudes in all times would teach their children, what the Christian Religion was, as to its do­ctrine and its history. And the practice of catechizing, and teaching children the Creed, the Lords Prayer, and the Deca­logue, and the Scriptures, the more secured this tradition in families.

[Page 134]20. Lastly, A succession of the same Spirit, which was in the Apostles, and of much of the same works, which were done by them, was such a way of assuring us of the truth of their doctrine and history, as a succession of posterity tel­eth us, that our progenitors were men. The same spirit of Wisdom and Goodness in a great degree continued after them to this day. And all wrought by their doctrine: and very credible history assureth us, that many miracles also were done, in many ages after them; though not so many as by them: Eusebius, Cyprian, Augustine, Victor, Ʋlicensis, Sulpitius, Severus, and many others, shew us so much as may make the belief of the Apostles the more easie.

And indeed, the Image of Gods WISDOM, GOODNESS and POWER on the souls of all true Christians in the world, successively to this day, considered in it self, and in its agreement with the same Image in the holy Scriptures, which do imprint it, and in its agreement or sameness as found in all Ages, Na­tions and Persons, is such a standing perpetual evidence that the Christian Religion is Divine, that (being still at hand) it should be exceeding satisfactory to a considerate Believer, against all doubts and temptations to unbelief. And were it not lest, I should instead of an Index, give you too large a re­cital of what I have more fully written in my foresaid Trea­tise, I would here stay yet to shew you how impossible it is that this Spirit of Holiness, which we feel in us, and see by the effects in others, even in every true Believer, should be caused by a word of falshood, which he abhorreth, and as the Just Ruler of the world, would be obliged to dis­own.

I shall only here desire you by the way to note that when I have all this while shewed you that the SPIRIT is the great witness of the truth of Christianity, that it is, this spirit of Wisdom, Goodness and Power, in the Prophets, in Christ, in the Apostles, and in all Christians, expressed in the doctrine, and the practices aforesaid, which I mean; as being principally the Evidences, or objective witness of Jesus Christ; and secondarily, being in all true Believers, their teacher, or illuminater and sanctifier, efficiently to cause them to perceive the aforesaid objective Evidences in its cogent undeniable [Page 135] power. And thus the Holy Ghost is the promised Agent or Advocate of Christ; to do his work in his bodily absence in the world: And that in this sense it is, that we Believe in the HOLY GHOST, and are baptized into his Name; and not only as he is the third person in the Eternal Tri­nity.

And therefore it is to be lamented exceedingly, 1. That any Orthodox Teachers should recite over many of these parts of the witness of the SPIRIT, and when they have done, tell us, that yet all these are not sufficient to convince us without the testimony of the Spirit: As if all this were none of the testimony of the Spirit; and as if they would perswade us and our enemies, that the testimony which must satisfie us, is only some inward impress of this Propo­sition on the mind, by way of inspiration, [The Scriptures are the Word of God, and true.] Overlooking the great witness of the Spirit, which is his special work, and which our Bap­tism relateth to, and feigning some extraordinary new thing as the only testimony.

And it is to be lamented, that Papists, and quarrelling Se­ctaries should take this occasion to reproach us as Infidels, that have no true grounded faith in Christ; as telling us that we resolve it all into a private inward pretended witness of the Spirit: And then they ask us, who can know that witness but our selves? and how can we preach the Gospel to others, if the only cogent argument of faith be incommunicable, or such as we cannot prove? Though both the Believing soul and the Church be the Kingdom of the Prince of Light, yet O what wrong hath the Prince of Darkness done, by the mixtures of darkness in them both!

So much for the first Direction for the strengthening of Faith, which is, by discerning the Evidences of Truth in our Re­ligion.

CHAP. VIII. The rest of the Directions for strengthening our Faith.

I Shall be more brief in the rest of the Directions, for the increase of Faith: and they are these.

Direct. 2. Compare the Christian Religion with all other in the world: And seeing it is certain that some way or other God hath revealed, to guide man in his duty, unto his end, and it is no other; you will see that it must needs be this.

1. The way of the Heathenish Idolaters cannot be it: The principles and the effects of their Religion, may easily satisfie you of this. The only true God would not command Ido­latry, nor befriend such ignorance, errour and wickedness as doth constitute their Religion, and are produced by it, as its genuine fruits.

2. The way of Judaism cannot be it: For it doth but lead us up to Christianity, and bear witness to Christ, and of it self, is evidently insufficient; its multitude of ceremonies being but the pictures and alphabet of that truth which Jesus Christ hath brought to light, and which hath evidence, which to us is more convincing, than that of the Jewish Law,

3. The Mahometane delusion is so gross, that it seemeth vain to say any more against it, than it saith it self; unless it be to those who are bred up in such darkness, as to hear of nothing else, and never to see the Sun which shineth on the Christian world; and withall are under the terrour of the sword, which is the strongest reason of that barbarous Sect.

4. And to think that the Atheisme of Infidels is the way, (who hold only the five Articles of the Ʋnity of God, the duty of obedience, the immortality of the soul, the life of retri­butior, and the necessity of Repentance) is but to go against the light. For 1. It is a denyal of that abundant evidence of the truth of the Christian Faith, which cannot by any sound rea­son be confuted. 2. It is evidently too narrow for mans ne­cessities, and leaveth our misery without a sufficient remedy. 3. Its inclusions and exclusions are contradictory: It asserteth [Page 137] the necessity of Obedience and Repentance, and yet excludeth the necessary means (the revealed Light, and Love, and Power) by which both Obedience and Repentance must be had. It excludeth Christ and his Spirit, and yet requireth that which none but Christ and his Spirit can effect. 4. It proposeth a way as the only Religion, which few ever went from the beginning (as to the exclusions.) As if that were Gods only way to Heaven, which scarce any visible societies of men, can be proved to have practised to this day.

Which of all these Religions have the most wise, and holy, and heavenly, and mortified, and righteous, and sober per­sons to profess it: and the greatest numbers of such? If you will judge of the medicine by the effects, and take him for the best Physician, who doth the greatest cures upon the souls, you will soon conclude that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh to the Father but by him, John 14.6.

Direct. 3. Think how impossible it is that any but God should be the Author of the Christian Religion.

1. No good man could be guilty of so horrid a crime as to forge a volume of delusions, and put Gods Name to it; to cheat the world so blasphemously and hypocritically, and to draw them into a life of trouble to promote it. Much less could so great a number of good men do this, as the success of such a cheat (were it possible) would require. There is no man that can believe it to be a deceit, but must needs believe, as we do of Mahomet, that the Author was one of the worst men that ever lived in the world.

2. No bad man could lay so excellent a design, and frame a Doctrine and Law so holy, so self denying, so merciful, so just, so spiritual, so heavenly, and so concordant in it self▪ nor carry on so high and divine an undertaking for so divine and excellent an end: No bad man could so universally condemn all badness, and prescribe such powerful remedies against it, and so effectually cure and conquer it in so considerable a part of the world.

3. If it be below any good man, to be guilty of such a [Page 138] forgery as aforesaid, we can much less suspect that any good Angel could be guilty of it.

4. And if no bad man could do so much good, we can much less imagine that any Devil or bad spirit could be the author of it. The Devil who is the worst in evil, could never so much contradict his nature, and overthrow his own Kingdom, and say so much evil of himself, and do so much against him­self, and do so much for the sanctifying and saving of the world: He that doth so much to draw men to sin and mise­ry, would never do so much to destroy their sin. And we plainly feel within our selves, that the spirit or party which draweth us to sin, doth resist the Spirit which draweth us to believe and obey the Gospel; and that these two maintain a war within us.

5. And if you should say, that the good which is in Chri­stianity, is caused by God, and the evil of it by the Father of sin, I answer, either it is true or false: If it be true, it is so good, that the Devil can never possibly be a contributor to it: Nay, it cannot then be suspected justly of any evil. But if it be false, it is then so bad, that God cannot be any otherwise the Author of it, than as he is the Author of any common natural Verity which it may take in and abuse; or as his general con­course extendeth to the whole Creation. But it is somewhat in Christianity, which it hath more than other Religions have, which must make it more pure, and more powerful and suc­cessful, than any other Religions have been. Therefore it must be more than common natural truths: even the con­texture of those natural truths, with the supernatural reve­lations of it, and the addition of a spirit of power, and light, and love, to procure the success. And God cannot be the Au­thor of any such contexture, or additions, if it be false.

6. If it be said, that men that had some good, and some bad in them, did contrive it (such as those Fanaticks, or Enthu­siasts, who have pious notions and words, with pride and self-exalting minds) I answer, The good is so great which is found in Christianity, that it is not possible that a bad man ▪ much less an extreamly bad man, could be the Author of it▪ And the wickedness of the plot would be so great if it were false, that it is not possible that any but an extreamly bad man [Page 139] could be guilty of it: Much less that a multitude should be sound at once so extreamly good as to promote it, even with their greatest labour and suffering, and also so extreamly bad as to joyn together in the plot to cheat the world, in a matter of such high importance. Such exceeding good and evil, cannot consist in any one person, much less in so many as must do such a thing. And if such a heated brain sick person as Hacket, Nailer, David, George, or John of Leyden, should cry up them­selves upon prophetical and pious pretences, their madness hath still appeared, in the mixture of their impious doctrines and practices: And if any would and could be so wicked, God never would or did assist them, by an age of numerous open miracles, nor lend them his Omnipotency to deceive the world; but left them to the shame of their proud attempts, and made their folly known to all.

Direct. 4. Study all the Evidences of the Christian Verity, till their sense, and weight, and order, be throughly digested, understood and remembred by you; and be as plain and familiar to you, as the lesson which you have most thoroughly learned.

It is not once or twice reading, or hearing, or thinking on such a great and difficult matter, that will make it your own, for the stablishing of your faith. He that will un­derstand the art of a Sea-man, a Souldier, a Musician, a Phy­sician, &c. so as to practise it; must study it hard, and under­stand it clearly, and comprehensively, and have all the whole frame of it printed on his mind; and not only here and there a scrap. Faith is a practical knowledge: We must have the heart and life directed and commanded by it: We must live by it, both in the intention of our end, and in the choice and use of all the means: Whilest the Gospel, and the Reasons of our Religion, are strange to people, like a lesson but half learn­ed, who can expect that they should be settled against all temptations which assault their faith, and able to confute the tempter? We lay together the proofs of our Religion, and you read them twice or thrice, and then think that if after that you have any doubting, the fault is in the want of evidence, and not in your want of understanding: But the life of faith [Page 140] must cost you more labour than so; study it till you clearly understand it, and remember the whole method of the evi­dence together, and have it all as at your fingers ends, and then you may have a confirmed faith to live by.

Direct. 5. When you know what are the sorest temptations to unbelief, get all those special arguments and provisions into your minds, which are necessary against those particular temptations. And do not strengthen your own temptations by your imprudent entertaining them.

Here are th [...]ee things which I would especially advise you to [...]gainst temptations to unbelief. 1. Enter not into the debate of so great a business when you are uncapable of it: Especially 1. When your minds are taken up with worldly business, or other thoughts have carryed them away, let not Satan then surprize you, and say, Come now and question thy Religion: You could not resolve a question in Philosophy, nor cast up any long account, on such a sudden, with an unprepared mind. When the Evidences of your faith are out of mind, stay till you can have leisure to set your selves to the business, with that studiousness, and those helps, which so great a matter doth require. 2. When sickness or melancholy doth weaken your understandings, you are then unfit for such a work. You would not in such a case dispute for your lives with a cunning sophister upon any difficult question whatsoever: And will you in such a case dispute with the Devil, when your salvation may lye upon it?

2. When your faith is once settled, suffer not the Devil to call you to dispute it over again at his command. Do it not when his suggestions urge you at his pleasure; but when God maketh it your duty, and at his pleasure: Else your very disputing with Satan, will be some degree of yielding to him, and gra­tifying him. And he will one time or other take you at the advantage, and assault you when you are without your arms.

3 Mark what it is that Atheists and Infidels most object against Christianity; but especially mark what it is which Satan maketh most use of, against your selves, to shake your [Page 141] faith: And there let your studies be principally bent; that you may have particular armour to defend you against particular assaults: And get such light by communication with wiser and more experienced men, as may furnish you for that use; that no objection may be-made against your faith, which you are not alwaies ready to answer. This is the true sense of 1 Pet. 3.15. Sanctifie the Lord God in your hearts, and be rea­dy alwaies to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Direct. 6. Mark well those works of God in the world, which are the plain fulfilling of his Word.

God doth not make such notable difference by his Judge­ments, as shall prevent the great discoveries at the last, and make his Assize and final Judgement to be unnecessary, by do­ing the same work before the time. But yet his Providences do own, and bear witness to his Word: and he leaveth not the world without some present sensible testimonies of his soveraign government, to convince them, and restrain them.

1. Mark how the state of the sinful world agreeth to Gods description of it, and how maliciously Godliness is every where opposed by them, and how notably God still casteth shame upon sinners; so that even in their prosperity and rage they are pittied and contemned in the eyes of all that are wise and sober, and in the next generation their names do rot, Psal. 15.3, 4. Prov. 10.7. And it is wonderful to observe, that sin in the general and abstract, is still spoken of by all as an odious thing, even by them that will be damned rather than they will leave it: And that Vertue and Godliness, Cha­rity and Justice are still praised in the world, even by them that abhor and persecute it.

2. And it is very observable, how most of the great changes of the world are made? By how small, contemptible and unthought of mean [...]? Especially where the interest of the Gospel is most concerned! The instance of the Reformation in Luther's time, and many others nearer to our daies, would shew us much of the conjunction of Gods works with his Word, if they were particularly and wisely opened.

[Page 142]3. The many prodigies, or extraordinary events, which have fallen out at several times, would be found to be of use this way, if wisely considered. A great number have fallen out among us of late years, of real certainty, and of a con­siderable usefulness: But the crafty enemy (who useth most to wrong Christ and his Cause, by his most passionate, inju­dicious followers) prevailed with some over-forward Minister of this strein, to publish them in many volumes, with the mixture of so many falshoods, and mistaken circumstances, as turned them to the advantage of the Devil and ungodliness, and made the very mention of Prodigies to become a scorn.

4. The strange deliverances of many of Gods servants in the greatest dangers, by the most unlikely means, is a great encouragement to faith: And there are a great number of Christians that have experience of such: The very manner of our preservations is often such as forceth us to say, It is the hand of God.

5. The notable answer, and grant of prayers, (of which many Christians have convincing experience) is also a great confirmation to our faith, (of which I have before spoken.)

6. The three sensible evidences formerly mentioned, com­pared with the Scriptures, may much perswade us of its truth: I mean 1. Apparitions; 2. Witches; 3. Satanical possessions or diseases, which plainly declare the operation of Satan in them; of all which I could give you manifold and proved in­stances. These, and many other instances of Gods providence, are great means to help us to believe his Word (though we must not with Fanatical persons, put first our own interpreta­tion upon Gods works, and then expound his Word by them; but use his works as the fulfilling of his Word, and expound his Providences by his Precepts, and his Promises and Threats.

Direct. 7. Mark well Gods inward works of Government upon the soul; and you shall find it very agreeable to the Gospel.

There is a very great evidence of a certain Kingdom of God [Page 143] within us: And as he is himself a Spirit, so it is with the Spi­rit that he doth most apparently converse, in the work of his moral Government in the world. 1. There you shall find a Law of duty, or an inward conviction of much of that obe­dience which you owe to God. 2. There you shall find an in­ward mover, striving with you to draw you to perform this duty. 3. There you shall find the inward suggestions of an enemy, labouring to draw you away from this duty, and to make a godly life seem grievous to you; and also to draw you to all the sins which Christ forbiddeth. 4. There you shall find an inward conviction, that God is your Judge, and that he will call you to account for your wilful violations of the Laws of Christ.

5. There you shall find an inward sentence past upon you, according as you do good or evil.

6. And there you may find the sorest Judgements of God inflicted, which any short of Hell endure. You may there find how God for sin doth first afflict the soul that is not quite forsaken, with troubles and affrightments, and some of the feeling of his displeasure. And where that is long despised, and men sin on still, he useth to with hold his gracious mo­tions, and leave the sinner dull and senseless, so that he can sin with sinful remorse, having no heart or life to any thing that is spiritually good: And if yet the sinner think not of his condition, to repent, he is usually so far forsaken as to be given up to the power of his most bruitish lust; and to glo­ry impudently in his shame, and to hate and persecute the ser­vants of Christ, who would recover him; till he hath filled up the measure of his sin, and wrath be come upon him to the uttermost, Ephes. 4.18, 19. 1 Thes. 2.15, 16. being abo­minable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate, Titus 1.15, 16. Besides the lesser penal withdrawings of the Spirit, which Gods own servants find in themselves, after some sins or neglects of grace.

7. And there also you may find the Rewards of Love and faithful duty; by many tastes of Gods acceptance, and many comforts of his Spirit, and by his owning the soul, and giving out larger assistance of his Spirit, and peace of conscience, and entertainment in prayer, and all approaches of the soul to [Page 144] God, and sweeter forecasts of life eternal. In a word, if we did but note Gods dreadful Judgements on the souls of the ungodly in this age, as well as we have noted our plagues and flames; and if Gods servants kept as exact observations of their inward rewards and punishments, and that in parti­culars, as suited to their particular sins and duties; you will see that Christ is King indeed, and that there is a real Govern­ment according to his Gospel, kept up in the consciences or souls of men (though not so observable as the rewards and punishments at the last day.)

Direct. 8. Dwell not too much on sensual objects, and let them not come too near your hearts.

Three things I here perswade you carefully to avoid: 1. That you keep your hearts at a meet distance from all things in this world; that they grow not too sweet to you, nor too great in your esteem: 2. That you gratifie not sense it self too much; and live not in the pleasing of your taste or lust: 3. That you suffer not your imaginations to run out greedily after things sensitive, nor make them the too frequent objects of your thoughts.

You may ask perhaps, what is all this to our faith? why, the life of faith is exercised upon things that are not seen: And if you live upon the things that are seen, and imprison your soul in the fetters of your concupiscence, and fill your fancies with things of another nature, how can you be ac­quainted with the life of faith? Can a bird flye that hath a stone tyed to her foot? Can you have a mind full of lust, and of God at once? Or can that mind that is used to these inor­dinate sensualities, be fit to rellish the things that are spiritual? And can it be a lover of earth, and fleshly pleasures, and also a Believer and lover of Heaven?

Direct. 9. Ʋse your selves much to think and speak of Hea­ven, and the invisible things of Faith?

Speaking of Heaven is needful both to express your thoughts, and to actuate and preserve them. And the often thoughts of [Page 145] Heaven, will make the mind familiar there: And familiarity will assist and encourage faith: For it will much acquaint us with those reasons and inducements of faith, which a few strange and distant thoughts will never reach to. As he that converseth much with a learned, wise, or godly man, will ea­silier believe that he is learned, wise, or godly, than he that is a stranger to him, and only now and then seeth him afar off: So he that thinketh so frequently of God and Heaven, till his mind hath contracted a humble acquaintance and familiarity, must needs believe the truth of all that excellency which be­fore he doubted of. For doubting is the effect of ignorance: And he that knoweth most here, believeth best. Falshood and evil cannot bear the light; but the more you think of them, and know them, the more they are detected and ashamed: But truth and goodness love the light; and the better you are acquainted with them, the more will your belief and love be increased.

Direct. 10. Live not in the guilt of wilful sin: For that will many waies hinder your belief.

1. It will breed fear and horrour in your minds, and make you wish that it were not true, that there is a day of Judge­ment, and a Hell for the ungodly, and such a God, such a Christ, and such a life to come, as the Gospel doth describe: And when you take it for your interest to be an unbeliever, you will hearken with desire to all that the Devil and Infidels can say: And you will the more easily make your selves be­lieve that the Gospel is not true, by how much the more you desire that it should not be true. 2. And you will forfeit the grace which should help you to believe; both by your wilfull sin, and by your unwillingness to believe: For who can expect that Christ should give his grace to them, who wilfully de­spise him, and abuse it: Or that he should make men believe, who had rather not believe? Indeed he may possibly do both these, but these are not the way, nor is it a thing which we can expect. 3. And this guilt, and fear, and unwillingness to­gether, will all keep down your thoughts from Heaven; so that seldom thinking of it, will increase your unbelief: and [Page 146] they will make you unfit to see the evidences of truth in the Gospel, when you do think of them, or hear them: For he that would not k [...]w cannot learn. Ob [...]y therefore according to the knowledge which you have, if ever you would have more, and would not be given up to the blindness of Infi­delity.

Direct. 11. Trust not only to your understandings, and think not that study is all which is necessary to faith: But remember that faith is the gift of God, and therefore pray as well as study.

Prov. 3.5. Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not to thy own understanding. It is a precept as necessary in this point as in any. In all things God abhorreth the proud, and looketh at them afar off, as with disowning and disdain: But in no case more, than when a blind ungodly sinner shall so overvalue his own understanding, as to think that if there be evidence of truth in the mystery of faith, he is able pre­sently to discern it, before or without any heavenly illumina­tion, to cure his dark distempered mind. Remember that as the Sun is seen only by his own light; so is God our Creatour and Redeemer. Faith is the gift of God, as well as Repen­tance, Ephes. 2.8. 2 Tim. 2.25, 26. Apply your selves there­fore to God by earnest prayer for it. As he, Mark 9.24. Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief. And as the Dis­ciples, Luke 17.5. Increase our faith. A humble soul that waiteth on God in fervent prayer, and yet neglecteth not to study and search for truth, is much liker to become a con­firmed Believer, than ungodly Students, who trust and seek no further than to their Books, and their perverted minds. For as God will be sought to for his grace; so those that draw near him, do draw near unto the Light; and there­fore are like as children of Light to be delivered from the power of darkness: For in his light we shall see the light that must acquaint us with him.

[Page 147]Direct. 12. Lastly, What measure of Light soever God vouch­safeth you, labour to turn it all into Love; and make it your serious care and business to know God, that you may love him, and to love God so far as you know him.

For he that desireth satisfaction in his doubts, to no better end, than to please his mind by knowing, and to free it from the disquiet of uncertainty, hath an end so low in all his stu­dies, that he cannot expect that God and his grace should be called down, to serve such a low and base design. That faith which is not employed in beholding the love of God in the face of Christ, on purpose to increase and exercise our love, is not indeed the true Christian Faith, but a dead opinion. And he that hath never so weak a faith, and useth it to this end, to know Gods amiableness, and to love him, doth take the most certain way for the confirmation of his faith. For Love is the closest adherence of the soul to God, and therefore will set it in the clearest light, and will teach it by the sweet convincing way of experience and spiritual taste. Believing alone is like the knowledge of our meat by seeing it: And Love is as the knowledge of our meat by eating and digesting it. And he that hath tasted that it is sweet, hath a stronger kind of perswasion that it is sweet, than he that only seeth it; and will much more tenaciously hold his apprehension: It is more possible to dispute him out of his belief, who only seeth, than him that also tasteth and concocteth. A Parent and child will not so ea­sily believe any false reports of one another, as strangers or ene­mies will; because Love is a powerful resister of such hard conceits. And though this be delusory and blinding partiali­ty, where Love is guided by mistake; yet when a sound under­standing leadeth it, and Love hath chosen the truest object, it is the naturally perfective motion of the soul.

And Love keepeth us under the fullest influences of Gods Love; and therefore in the reception of that grace which will increase our faith: For Love is that act which the ancient Doctors were wont to call, the principle of merit, or first me­ritorious act of the soul; and which we call, the principle of rewardable acts. God beginneth and loveth us first, partly with a Love of complacency, only as his creatures, and also as [Page 148] in esse cognito, he foreseeth how amiable his grace will make us; and partly with a Love of benevolence, intending to give us that grace which shall make us really the objects of his further Love: And having received this grace, it causeth us to love God: And when we love God, we are really the ob­jects of his complacential Love; and when we perceive this, it still increaseth our Love: And thus the mutual Love of God and Man, is the true perpetual motion, which hath an everlasting cause, and therefore must have an everlasting duration. And so the faith which hath once kindled Love, even sincere Love to God in Christ, hath taken rooting in the heart, and lyeth deeper than the head, and will hold fast, and increase as Love increaseth.

And this is the true reason of the stedfastness and happiness of many weak unlearned Christians, who have not the di­stinct conceptions and reasonings of learned men; and yet be­cause their Faith is turned into Love, their Love doth help to confirm their Faith: And as they love more heartily; so they believe more stedfastly, and perseveringly, than many who can say more for their faith. And so much for the strengthening of your faith.

CHAP. IX. General Directions for exercising the Life of Faith.

HAving told you how Faith must be confirmed, I am next to tell you how it must be used. And in this I shall be­gin with some General Directions, and then proceed to such particular cases, in which we have the greatest use for Faith.

Direct. 1. Remember the necessity of Faith in all the business of your hearts and lives, that nothing can be done well without it. There is no sin to be conquered, no grace to be exercised, no worship to be performed, nor no acts of mercy, or justice, or worldly business, to be well done without it, in any manner acceptable to God. Without Faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11.6. You may as well go about your bodily work with­out your eye-sight, as about your spiritual work without Faith.

[Page 149]Direct. 2. Make it therefore your care and work to get Faith, and to use it; and think not that God must reveal his mind to you, as in visions, while you idly neglect your proper work. Be­lieving is the first part of your trade of life; and the practice of it must be your constant business. It is not living ordinarily by sense, and looking when God will cast in the light of Faith extraordinarily, which is indeed the life of Faith: Nor is it seeming to stir up Faith in a Prayer or Sermon, and looking no more after it all the day: This is but to give God a saluta­tion, and not to dwell and walk with him: And to give Hea­ven a complemental visit sometimes, but not to have your conversation there, 2 Cor. 5.7, 8.

Direct. 3. Be not too seldom in solitary meditation. Though it be a duty which melancholy persons are disabled to per­form, in any set, and long, and orderly manner; yet it is so needful to those who are able, that the greatest works of Faith are to be managed by it. How should things unseen be apprehended so as to affect our hearts, without any serious ex­ercise of our thoughts? How should we search into mysteries of the Gospel, or converse with God, or walk in Heaven, or fetch either joyes or motives thence, without any retired stu­dious contemplation? If you cannot meditate or think, you cannot believe. Meditation abstracteth the mind from vani­ty, and lifteth it up above the world, and setteth it about the work of Faith; which by a mindless, thoughtless, or worldly soul, can never be performed, 2 Cor. 4.16, 17, 18. Phil. 3.20. Mat. 6.21. Col. 3.1, 3.

Direct. 4. Let the Image of the Life of Christ, and his Mar­tyrs, and holiest servants, be deeply printed on your minds. That you may know what the way is which you have to go, and what patterns they be which you have to imitate; think how much they were above things sensitive, and how light they set by all the pleasures, wealth and glory of this world. Therefore the Holy Ghost doth set before us that cloud of witnesses, and catalogue of Martyrs, in Heb. 11. that example may help us, and we may see with how good company we go, in the life of Faith, Paul had well studied the example of Christ, when he took pleasure in infirmities, and gloryed only in the Cross, to be base and afflicted in this world, for the [Page 150] hopes of endless glory, 2 Cor. 11.30. & 12.5 9, 10. And when he could say, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffer­ed the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ — that I may know him, and the power of his re­surrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made con­formable to his death, Phil. 3.8, 9, 10. No man will well mi­litate in the life of Faith, but he that followeth the Captain of his salvation, Heb. 2.10. who for the bringing of many Sons to glory (even those whom he is not ashamed to call his Brethren) was made perfect, (as to perfection of action or performance) by suffering: thereby to shew us, how little the best of these visible and sensible corporeal things, are to be valued in com­parison of the things invisible: and therefore as the General and the souldiers make up one army, and militate in one mi­litia; so he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one, Heb. 2.10, 11, 12. Though that which is called the life of Faith in us, deserved a higher title in Christ, and his faith in his Father, and ours, do much differ, and he had not many of the objects, acts and uses of Faith, as we have who are sinners; yet in this we must follow him as our great example, in valuing things invisible, and vilifying things vi­sible in comparison of them. And therefore Paul saith [I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the Faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me, Gal. 2.20.

Direct. 5. Remember therefore that God and Heaven, the unseen things are the final object of true Faith: and that the final object is the noblest; and that the principal use of Faith, is to carry up the whole heart and life from things visible and temporal, to things invisible and eternal; and not only to comfort us in the assurance of our own forgiveness and salvation.

It is an exceeding common and dangerous deceit, to over­look both this principal object and principal use of the Chri­stian Faith. 1. Many think of no other object of it, but the death and righteousness of Christ, and the pardon of sin, and the promise of that pardon: And God and Heaven they look at as the objects of some other common kind of Faith. 2. And [Page 151] they think of little other use of it, than to comfort them against the guilt of sin, with the assurance of their Justification. But the great and principal work of Faith is, that which is about its final object; to carry up the soul to God and Heaven, where the world, and things sensible, are the terminus à quo, and God, and things invisible, the terminus ad quem: And thus it is put in contradistinction to living by fight, in 2 Cor. 5.6, 7. And thus mortification is made one part of this great effect, in Rom. 6. throughout, and many other places: and thus it is that Heb. 11. doth set before us those numerous examples of a life of Faith, as it was expressed in valuing things unseen, upon the belief of the Word of God, and the vilifying of things seen which stand against them. And thus Christ tryed the Rich man, Luke 18.22. whether he would be his Disciple, by calling him to sell all, and give to the po [...]r, for the hopes of a treasure in Heaven. And thus Christ maketh bearing the Cross, and denying our selves, and forsaking all for him, to be necessary in all that are his Disciples. And thus Paul describeth the life of Faith, 2 Cor. 4.17, 18. by the contempt of the world, and suffering afflictions for the hopes of Heaven: [For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.] Our Faith is our victory over the world, even in the very nature of it, and not only in the remote effect; for its aspect and believing ap­proaches to God and the things unseen, and a proportionable recess from the things which are seen, is one and the same mo­tion of the soul, denominated variously from its various re­spects to the terminus ad quem, and à quo.

Direct. 6. Remember, that as God to be believed in, is the principal and final object of Faith; so the kindling of love to God in the soul, is the principal use and effect of Faith: And to live by Faith, is but to love (obey and suffer) by Faith. Faith work­ing by Love, is the description of our Christianity, Gal. 5.6. As Christ is the Way to the Father, Joh. 14.6. and came into the world to recover Apostate man to God, to love him, and be beloved by him; so the true use of Faith in Jesus Christ, is [Page 152] to be as it were the bellows to kindle love; or the burning-glass as it were of the soul, to receive the beams of the Love of God, as they shine upon us in Jesus Christ, and thereby to en­flame our hearts in love to God again. Therefore if you would live by Faith indeed, begin here, and first receive the deepest apprehensions of that Love of the Father; Who so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever be­lieveth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life: And by these apprehensi [...]ns, stir up your hearts to the Love of God; and make this very endeavour the work and business of your lives.

Oh that mistaken Christians would be rectified in this point! how much would it tend to their holiness and their peace? You think of almost nothing of the life of Faith; but how to believe that you have a special interest in Christ, and shall be saved by him: But you have first another work to do: You must first believe that common Love and Grace before mentioned, John 3.16. 2 Cor. 5.19, 20.14, 15. 1 Tim. 2.6. Heb. 2.9. And you must believe your own interest in this; that is, that God hath by Christ, made to all, and therefore unto you, an act of oblivion, and free deed of gift, that you shall have Christ, and pardon, and eternal life, if you will believingly accept the gift, and will not finally reject it. And the belief of this, even of this common Love and Grace, must first perswade your hearts accordingly to accept the offer, (and then you have a special interest) and withall, at the same time, must kindle in your souls a thankful love to the Lord and fountain of this grace: and if you were so ingenuous as to begin here, and first use your Faith upon the foresaid common gift of Christ, for the kindling of love to God within you, and would account this the work which Faith hath every day to do; you would then find that in the very exciting and exercise of this holy Love, your assurance of your own special interest in Christ, would be sooner and more comfortably brought about, than by searching to find either evidence of pardon before you find your love to God; or to find your love to God, before you have laboured to get and exercise it.

I tell you, they are dangerous deceivers of your souls, that shall contradict this obvious truth; that the true method and [Page 153] motive of mans first special love to God, must not be by be­lieving first Gods special love to us; but by believing his more common love and mercy in the general act and offer of grace before mentioned. For he that believeth Gods special love to him, and his special interest in Christ, before he hath any spe­cial love to God, doth sinfully presume, and not believe. For if by Gods special love, you mean his love of complacency to you, as a living member of Christ; to believe this before you love God truly, is to believe a dangerous lie: and if you mean on­ly, Gods love of benevolence, by which he decreeth to make you the objects of his foresaid complacency, and to sanctifie and save you; to believe this before you truly love God, is to believe that which is utterly unknown to you, and may be false for ought you know, but is not at all revealed by God, and therefore is not the object of Faith.

Therefore if you cannot have true assurance or perswasion of your special interest in Christ, and of your justification, be­fore you have a special love to God, then this special love must be kindled (I say not by a common Faith, but) by a true Faith in the General Love and Promise mentioned before.

Nay, you must not only have first this special love; but also must have so much knowledge, that indeed you have it, as you will have knowledge of your special interest in Christ, and the love of God: for no act of Faith will truly evidence special grace, which is not immediately and intimately accompanied with true love to God our Father and Redeemer, and the ultimate object of our Faith: Nor can you any further per­ceive or prove, the sincerity of your Faith it self, than you discern in or with it, the Love here mentioned. For Faith is not only an act of the Intellect, but of the Will also: And there is no volition or consent to this or any offered good, which hath not in it the true nature of Love: and the intention of the end, being in order of nature, before our choice or use of means; the intending of God as our end, cannot come behind that act of Faith, which is about Christ as the chosen means or way to God.

Therefore make this your great and principal use of your Faith, to receive all the expressions of Gods Love in Christ, and thereby to kindle in you a love to God; that first the [Page 154] special true belief of Gods more common love and grace, may kindle in you a special love, and then the sense of this may assure you of your special interest in Christ; and then the assurance of that special interest, may increase your love to a much higher degree: And thus live by Faith in the work of Love.

Direct. 7. That you may understand what that Faith is which you must live by, take in all the parts (at least that are essential to it) in your description; and take not some parcels of it for the Christian Faith; nor think no [...] that it must needs be several sorts of Faith, if it have several objects; and hearken not to that dull Phi­losophical subtilty, which would perswade you that Faith is but some single physical act of the soul.

1. If you know not what Faith is, it must needs be a great hinderance to you, in the seeking of it, the trying it, and the using it. For though one may use his natural faculties, which work by natural inclination and necessity, without knowing what they are; yet it is not so where the choice of the rational appetite is necessary; for it must be guided by the reasoning faculty. And though unlearned persons may have and use Repentance, Faith, and other graces, who cannot define them; yet they do truly (though not perfectly) know the thing it self, though they know not the terms of a just definition: and all defect of knowing the true nature of Faith, will be some hinderance to us in using it.

2. It is a moral subject which we are speaking of; and terms are to be understood according to the nature of the sub­ject: therefore Faith is to be taken for a moral act, which comprehendeth many physical acts: Such as is the act of be­lieving in, or taking such a man for my Physician, or my Ma­ster, or my Tutor, or my King. Even our Philosophers them­selves know not what doth individuate a physical act of the soul ▪ (Nay, they are not agreed whether its acts should be called physical properly, or not.) Nay, they cannot tell what doth individuate an act of sense; whether when my eye doth at once see many words and letters of my Book, every word or letter doth make as many individual acts, by being so many objects? And if so, whether the parts of every letter also do not constitute an individual act; and where we shall here [Page 155] stop. And must all these trifles be considered in our Faith? As­senting to the truths is not one Faith (unless when separated from the rest) and consenting to the good, another act: Nor is it one Faith to believe the promise, and another to believe the pardon of sin, and another to believe salvation, and another to believe in God, and another to believe in Jesus Christ; nor one to believe in Christ as our Ransom, and another as our Intercessor, and another as our Teacher, and another as our King, and another to believe in the Holy Ghost, &c. I deny not but some one of these may be separated from the rest, and being so separated may be called Faith; but not the Christian Faith, but only a material parcel of it, which is like the limb of a man, or of a tree, which cut off from the rest, is dead, and ceaseth when separated to be a part, any otherwise than Lo­gical (a part of the description.)

The Faith which hath the promise of salvation, and which you must live by, hath 1. God for the Principal Revealer, and his Veracity for its formal object. 2. It hath Christ, and An­gels, and Prophets, and Apostles, for the sub-revealers. 3. It hath the Holy Ghost by the divine attesting operations before described, to be the seal and the confirmer. 4. It hath the same Holy Ghost for the internal exciter of it. 5. It hath all truths of known divine revelation, and all good of known divine donation by his Covenant, to be the material general object. 6. It hath the Covenant of Grace, and the holy Scriptures, (and formerly the voice of Christ and his Apostles) or any such sign of the mind of God, for the instrumental efficient cause of the object in esse cognito: And also the instrumental efficient of the act. 7. It hath the pure Deity, God himself, as he is to be known and loved, inceptively here, and perfectly in Heaven, for the final and most necessary material object. 8. It hath the Lord Jesus Christ, entirely in all essential to him, as God and Man, and as our Redeemer or Saviour, as our Ransome, In­tercessor, Teacher and Ruler, for the most necessary, mediate, material object. 9. It hath the gifts of Pardon, Justification, the Spirit of Sanctification or Love, and all the necessary gifts of the Covenant, for the material, never-final objects. And all this is essential to the Christian Faith, even to that Fath which hath the promise of pardon and salvation: And no one [Page 156] of these must be totally left out in the definition of it, if you would not be deceived. It is Heresie, and not the Christian Faith, if it exclude any one essential part: And if it include it not, it is Infidelity: And indeed there is such a connexion of the objects, that there is no part (in truth) where there is not the whole. And it is impiety if any one part of the offered good that is necessary, be refused. It is no true Faith, if it be not a true composition of all these.

Direct. 8. There is no nearer way to know what true Faith is, than truly to understand what your Baptismal Covenanting did contain.

In Scripture phrase, to be a Disciple, a Believer, and a Chri­stian, is all one, Acts 11.26. Acts 5.14. 1 Tim. 4.12. Matth. 10.42. & 27.57. Luke 14.26, 27, 33. Acts 21.16. Joh. 9.28. And to be a Believer, and to have Belief or Faith, is all one: and therefore to be a Christian, and to have Faith, is all one. Christianity signifieth either our first entrance into the Christian State, or our progress in it. (As Marriage signifieth either Ma­trimony, or the Conjugal State continued in.) In the latter sense Christianity signifieth more than Faith; for more than Faith is necessary to a Christian. But in the former sense, as Christianity signifieth but our becoming Christians, by our covenanting with God; so to have Faith, or to be a Believer, and internally to become a Christian in Scripture sense, is all one; and the outward covenanting is but the profession of Faith or Christianity: Not that the word Faith is never taken in a narrower sense, or that Christianity, as it is our heart-covenant or consent, containeth nothing but Faith, as Faith is so taken in the narrowest sense: But when Faith is taken (as ordina­rily in Scripture) for that which is made the condition of Justification and Salvation, and opposed to Heathenism, Infi­delity, Judaism, or the works of the Law, it is commonly taken in this larger sense.

Faith is well enough described to them, that understand what is implyed, by the usual shorter description; as, that it is a believing acceptance of Christ, and relying on him as our Sa­viour, or for salvation: Or, a belief of pardon, and the heavenly Glory as procured by the Redemption wrought by Christ, and given by God in the Covenant of Grace: But the reason is, [Page 157] because all the rest is connoted, and so to be understood by us, as if it were exprest in words: But the true and full definition of it is this.

The Christian Faith which is required at Baptism, and then professed, and hath the promise of Justification and Glorification, is a true Belief of the Gospel, and an acceptance of, and consent unto the Covenant of Grace: Particularly, a believing that God is our Creatour, our Owner, our Ruler, and our Chief Good; and that Jesus Christ is God and man, our Saviour, our Ransoms, our Teacher, and our King; and that the Holy Ghost is the Sanctifier of the Church of Christ: And it is an understanding, serious con­sent, that this God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, be my God and reconciled Father in Christ, my Saviour, and my Sanctifier; to justifie me, sanctifie me, and glorifie me, in the perfect knowledge of God, and mutual complacence in Heaven; which belief and consent wrought in me by the Word and Spirit of Christ, is ground­ed upon the Veracity of God as the chief Revealer, and upon his Love and Mercy as the Donor; and upon Christ and his Apostles as the Messengers of God; and upon the Gospel, and specially the Co­venant of Grace, as the instrumental Revelation and Donation it self: And upon the many signal operations of the Holy Ghost, as the divine infallible attestation of their truth.

Learn this definition, and understand it throughly, and it may prove a more solid useful knowledge (to have the true nature of Faith or Christianity thus methodically printed on your minds) than to read over a thousand volumes in a rambling and confused way of knowledge.

If any quarrel at this definition, because the foundation is not first set down, I only tell him that no Logicians do judge of the Logical order of words by the meer priority and poste­riority of place. And if any think that here is more than every true Christian doth understand and remember, I answer, that here is no more than every true Christian hath a true knowledge of; though perhaps every one have not a know­ledge so methodical, explicite and distinct, as to define Faith thus, or to think so distinctly and clearly of it, as others do, or to be able by words to express to another, what he hath a real conception of in himself. There is first in the mind of man a conception of the Object or Matter (by those words or [Page 158] means which introduce it) and next that verbum mentis, or inward word, which is a distincter conception of the matter in the mould of such notions as may be exprest; and next the verbum oris, the word of mouth expresseth it. Now many have the conception of the matter, long before they have the verbum mentis, or logical notions of it: And many have the verbum mentis, who by a hesitant tongue are hindered from oral expressions; and in both, there are divers degrees of di­stinctness and clearness.

Direct. 9. Turn not plain Gospel Doctrine into the Philo­sophical fooleries of wrangling and ill-moulded wits; nor feign to your selves any new notions, or offices of Faith, or any new terms as necessary, which are not in the holy Scriptures.

I do not say, use no terms which are not in the Scriptures: for the Scriptures were not written in English: Nor do I per­swade you to use no other notions than the Scriptures use; but only that you use them not as necessary, and lay not too great a stress upon them. I confess new Heresies may give occasion for new words (as the Bishops in the first Councel of Nice thought:) And yet as Hilary vehemently enveigheth against making new Creeds on such pretences, and wisheth no such practice had been known (not excepting theirs at Nice) because it taught the Hereticks and contenders to imi­tate them: and they that made the third Creed, might have the like arguments for it as those that made the second; and he knew not when there would be any end; so I could wish that there had been no new notions in the Doctrine of Faith, so much as used; for the same reasons: And especially be­cause that while the first inventers do but use them, the next Age which followeth them, will hold them necessary, and lay the Churches communion and peace upon them.

For instance, I think the word [satisfaction] as used by the Orthodox, is of a very sound sense in our Controversies against the Socinians: And yet I will never account it neces­sary, as long as it is not in the Scriptures, and as long as the words [Sacrifice, Ransome, Price, Propitiation, Attonement, &c.] which the Scripture useth, are full as good.

So I think that [imputing Christs Righteousness to us] is a phrase which the Orthodox use in a very sound sense: And [Page 159] yet as long as it is not used by the Spirit of God in the Scri­ptures; and there are other phrases enough, which as well, or better, express the true sense, I will never hold it neces­sary.

So also the notions and phrases of [Faith being the instru­ment of our Justification] and [Faith justifieth only obj [...]ctively] and [that Faith justifieth only as it receiveth Christs blood, or Christs Righteousness, or Christ as a Priest] [that Faith is only one physical act: that it is only in the understanding; or only in the will; that its only Justifying act is Recumbency, or resting on Christ for Justification; that it is not an action, but a passion, that all acts of Faith save one, and that one as an act, are the works which Paul excludeth from our Justification; and that to expect Justification, by believing in Christ for Sanctification, or Glorifica­tion, or by believing in him as our Teacher, or King, or Justifying Judge, or by Repenting, or Loving God, or Christ, as our Re­deemer, or by confessing our sins, and praying for Pardon and Ju­stification, &c. is to exp [...]ct Justification by Works, and so to fall from Grace or true Justification; that he that will escape this per­nicious expectance of Justification by Works, must know what that one act of Faith is by which only we are justified, and must ex­pect Justification by it only relatively (that is, not by it at all, but by Christ, say some) or as an Instrument (say others) &c.

Many of these Assertions are pernicious errours; most of them false; and the best of them are the unnec [...]ssary inventions of mens dark, yet busie wits, who condemn their own Doctrine by their practice, and their practice by their Doctrine; whilst they cry up the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and cry down other mens additions, and yet so largely add them­selves.

Direct. 10. Take heed lest parties and contendings tempt you to lay so much upon the right notion or doctrines of Faith, as to take up with these alone as true Christianity; and to take a dead Opi­nion, instead of the life of Faith.

This dogmatical Christianity cheateth many thousands into Hell, who would scarce be led so quietly thither, if they knew that they are indeed no Christians. It is ordinary, by the advantages of education, and converse, and teachers, and [Page 160] books, and studies, and the custome of the times, and the countenance of Christian Rulers, and for reputation, and worldly advantage, &c. to fall into right opinions about Christ, and Faith, and Godliness, and Heaven; and tenacious­ly to defend these in disputings; and perhaps to make a trade of preaching of it: And what is all this to the saving of the soul, if there be no more? And yet the case of many Learned Orthodox men, is greatly to be pittied, who make that a means to cheat and undo themselves, which should be the on­ly wisdom and way to life; and know but little more of Christianity, than to hold, and defend, and teach sound Do­ctrine, and to practise it so far as the interest of the flesh will give them leave; I had almost said, so far as the flesh it self will command them to do well, and sin it self forbiddeth sin; that it may not disgrace them in the world, nor bring some hurt or punishment upon them.

Direct. 11. Set not any other Graces against Faith; as rais­ing a jealousie left the honouring of one, be a diminution of the ho­nour of the other: But labour to see the necessary and harmo­nious consent of all, and how all contribute to the common end.

Though other graces are not Faith, and have not the office proper to Faith; yet every one is conjunct in the work of our salvation, and in our pleasing and glorifying God: Some of them being the concomitants of Faith, and some of them its end, to which it is a means: Yea, oft-times the words [Faith and Repentance] are used as signifying much of the same works, the latter named from the respect to the term from which, and the former from the respect to part of the term to which the soul is moving: And Faith is oft taken as containing somewhat of Love and Desire in it; and he that will without any prejudice and partiality study Paul where he opposeth Faith and Works, as to our Justification, shall find by his almost constant naming [the Works of the Law] or by the context and analysis, that indeed his chief meaning is to prove, that we are justified by the Christian Religion, and must be s [...]ved by it, and not by the Jewish ▪ which the adversaries of Christianity then pleaded for, and trusted to.

Direct. 12. Set not the helps of Faith as if they were against [Page 161] Faith; but understand their several places and offices, and use them accordingly.

Do not like those ignorant self-conceited Hereticks, who cry out, [It is by Believing, and not by Repenting, or Reading, or Hearing Sermons, or by Praying, or by forbearing sin, or by doing good, that we are justified; and therefore it is by Faith on­ly that we are saved; the same which is sufficient for our Ju­stification, being sufficient for our salvation; seeing the Justified cannot be condemned; and Justification and Salvation are both equally ascribed to Faith without the works of the Law by the Apostle.] For we are justified only by such a Faith, as is caused by Gods Word, and maintained and actuated by Hearing, Read­ing, Meditation, Prayer and Sacraments; and as is accompa­nied by Repentance, and worketh by Love, and is indeed the beholding of those invisible and glorious motives, which may incite our Love, and set us on good works, and obedience to our Redeemer. And he that by negligence omitteth, or by errour excludeth any one of these, in the Life of Faith, will find that he hath erred against his own interest, peace and comfort, if not against his own salvation. And that he might as wisely have disputed that it is his eyes only that must see his way, and therefore he may travel without his legs.

Direct. 13. Take heed left a misconceit of the certainty of some common Philosophical Opinions, should make you stagger in those Articles of Faith which seem to contradict them.

Not that indeed any truths can be contrary one to another: For that which is true in Philosophy, is contrary to no one truth in Theology: But Philosophers have deceived them­selves and the world, with a multitude of uncertainties and falsities; and by straining them to subtil niceties, and locking them up in uncouth terms, have kept the common people from trying them, and understanding them; and thereby have made it their own prerogative explicitely to erre, and the peoples duty not to contradict them; but to admire that errour as profound parts of learning, which they cannot understand. And then their conclusions oft go for principles which must not be gainsayed, when they are perhaps either false, or non­sense. And then when they meet with any thing in Scripture, which crosseth their opinions, the reputation of humane [Page 162] folly maketh them despise the wisdom of God. I have given you elsewhere some instances about the immortality of the soul: They know not what Generation is; they do not know it: nor what are the true principles and elements of mixt bodies; nor what is the true d [...]fference between immaterial and material substances; with an hundred such like: And yet some expect, that we should sacrifice the most certain useful truths, to their false or uncertain useless suppositions, which is the true reason why Paul saith, Col. 2.8, 9, 10. Beware lest any man spoil you through Philosophy, and vain deceit (not true Philosophy, which is the true knowledge of the works of God, but the vain models which every Sect of them cryed up) after the tradition of men (that is, the opinions of the Masters of their Sects) after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and ye are compleat in him. See Act. 17.18. It is Christ who is the kernel and summary of the Christian Philosophy; who is therefore called The Wisdom of God, 1 Cor. 1.24, 30. both because he is the heavenly Teacher of true Wisdom, and be­cause that true Wisdom consisteth in knowing him. And in­deed even in those times, the several Sects of Philosophers ac­counted much of each others principles to be erroneous; and the Philosophers of these times, begin to vilifie them all; and withall to confess that they have yet little of certainty to substitute in the room of the demolished Idols; but they are about their experiments, to try if any thing in time may be found out.

Direct. 14. Especially take heed lest you be cheated into Infi­delity, by the Dominicans Metaphysical Doctrine, of the necessity of Gods Physical predetermining promotion as the first total cause, to the being of every action natural and free, not only in genere actionis, but also as respectively and comparatively exercised on this object rather than on that.

I add this only for the learned, who are as much in danger of Infidelity as others; and will use it to the greater injury of the truth. I will meddle now with no other reasons of my advice, but what the subject in hand requireth. If God can, and do thus premove and predetermine the mind, will and tongue of every lyar in the world to every lye (or material [Page 163] falshood) which ever they did conceive or speak, there will be no certainty of the Gospel, nor of any Divine Revelation at all: Seeing all such certainty is resolved into Gods Veracity: that God cannot lye. And God speaketh not to us, by any but a created voice: and if he can thus predetermine others to those words which are a lye, rather than to the contra­ry which are true, there would be no certainty, but he may do so by Prophets and Apostles: and let them tell you what they will of the greater certainty of Inspirations and Miracles, than of Predeterminations, it will be found upon tryal, that no man can prove, or make it so much as probable, that any inspiration hath more of a Divine Causation, than such a pre­moving predetermination as aforesaid doth amount to; much less so much more, as will prove that one is more certain than the other.

This Doctrine therefore which undeniably (whatever may be wrangled) taketh down Christianity, and all belief of God or man, is not to be believed meerly upon such a Philosophical conceit, that every Action is a Being, and therefore must in all its circumstances be caused by God. As if God were not able to make a faculty, which can determine its own comparative act to this rather than to that, by his sustentation, and univer­sal precausation and concourse, without the said predeter­mining premotion: When as an Action as such is but a modus entis; and the comparative exercise of it, on this rather than on that, is but a modus vel circumstantia modi. And they leave no work, for gracious determination, because that natural de­termination doth all the same thing (equally to duty and sin) without it.

Direct. 15. Consider well how much all humane converse is maintained by the necessary belief of one another, and what the world would be without it; and how much you expect your selves to be believed: And then think how much more belief is due to God.

Though sin hath made the world so bad, that we may say, that all men are lyars, that is, deceitful vanity, and little to be trusted; yet the honesty of those that are more vertuous, doth help so far to keep up the honour of veracity, and the shamefulness of lying, that throughout the world, a lye is in [Page 164] disgrace, and truth in speech and dealing is well spoken of. And the remnants of natural honesty in the worst, do so far second the true honesty of the best, that no man is so well spoken of commonly in the world, as a man of truth and trustiness, whose Word is his Law and Master, and never speaketh de­ceitfully to any: Nor no man is so commonly ill spoken of as a knave, as he that will lye, and is not to be trusted: In so much, that even those debauched Ruffians, who live as if they said in their hearts, There is no God, will yet venture their lives in revenge against him that shall give them the lye. Per­haps you will say, that this is not from any vertue, or natu­ral Law, or honesty, but from common interest, there being nothing more the interest of mankind, than that men be trusty to each other. To which I answer, that you oppose things which are conjunct: It is both: For all Gods natural Laws are for the interest of mankind, and that which is truly most for our good, is made most our duty; and that which is most our duty, is most for our good. And that which is so much for the interest of mankind, must needs be good: If it were not for credibility and trustiness in men, there were no living in families; but Masters and Servants, Parents and Children, Husbands and Wives, would live together as enemies: And neigbours would be as so many thieves to one another: There could be no Society or Common-wealth, when Prince and people could put no trust in one another: Nay, thieves them­selves, that are not to be trusted by any others, do yet strengthen themselves by confederacies, and oaths of secrecy, and gather into troops and armies, and there put trust in one another. And can we think that GOD is not much more to be trusted, and is not a greater hater of a lye? and is not the fountain of all fidelity? and hath not a greater care of the in­terest of his creatures? Surely he that thinketh that God is a lyar, and not to be trusted, will think no better of any mor­tal man or Angel (and therefore trusteth no one, and is very censorious) and would be thought no better of himself, and therefore would have none believe or trust him: For who would be better than his God?

Direct. 16. Consider also that Veracity in God is his nature or essence; and cannot be denyed without denying him to be God.

[Page 165]For it is nothing but his three Essentialities, or Principles, Power, Wisdom and Goodness, as they are expressed in his Word or Revelations, as congruous to his mind, and to the matter expressed. He that neither wanteth knowledge (to know what to say and do) nor Goodness (to love truth, and hate all evil) nor Power to do what he please, and to make good his word, cannot possibly lye; because every lye is for want of one, or more of these, Heb. 6.18. Titus 1.12. And there as it is said, that he cannot lye, and that it is impossible; so it is called, a denying of himself, if he could be unfaithfull, 2 Tim. 2.13. If we believe not, yet be abideth faithful, and cannot deny himself.

Direct. 17. Exercise Faith much in those proper works, in which self and sense are most denyed and overcome.

Bodily motions and labours which we are not used to, are done both unskilfully, and with pain. If Faith be not much exercised in its warfare, and victorious acts, you will neither know its strength, nor find it to be strong, when you come to use it. It is not the easie and common acts of Faith, which will serve turn, to try and strengthen it. As the life of sense is the adversary which Faith must conquer; so use it much in such conflicts and conquests, if you would find it strong and use­full: Use it in such acts of mortification and self-denyal, as will plainly shew, that it over ruleth sense: Use it in patience and rejoycing in such sufferings, and in contentment in so low and cross a state, where you are sure that sight and sense do not contribute to your peace and joy: Use it not only in giving some little of your superfluities, but in giving your whole two mites, even all your substance, and selling all and giving to the poor, when indeed God maketh it your duty: At least in forsaking all for his sake in a day of tryal. Faith never doth work so like it self, so clearly, so powerfully, and so com­fortably, as in these self-denying and overcoming acts, when it doth not work alone, without the help of sense to comfort us; but also against sense, which would discourage us, Luke 18.22, 23. & 14.26, 33. 2 Cor. 5.7.

Direct. 18. Keep a constant observation of Gods converse with your hearts, and workings on them.

For as I said before, there are within us such demonstrations [Page 164] [...] [Page 165] [...] [Page 166] of a Kingdom of God, in precepts, mercies, rewards and pu­nishments, that he which well worketh them, will have much help in the maintaining and exercising his belief, of the ever­lasting Kingdom: Especially the godly, who have that Spirit there working, which is indeed the very seal, and pledge, and earnest of life eternal, 2 Cor. 1.22. & 5.5. Ephes. 1.13, 14. Gal. 4.5, 6. Rom. 8.16, 17. There is so much of God and Heaven in a true Believers heart, that (as we see the Moon and Stars when we look down into the water, so) we may see much of God and Heaven within us, if the heart it self be throughly studied.

And I must add; that Experiences here must be carefully recorded: and when God fulfilleth promises to us, it must not be forgotten.

Direct. 19. Converse much with them that live by Faith, and fetch their motives and comforts from the things unseen.

Converse hath a transforming power. To converse with them that live all by sense, and shew no other desires, or joyes, or sorrows, but what are fetched from fleshly sensible things, is a great means to draw us downwards with them. And to converse with them who converse in Heaven; and speak of nothing else so comfortably or so seriously; who shew us that Heaven is the place they travel to, and the state that all their life doth aim; and who make little of all the wants or plenty, pains or pleasures of the flesh; this much conduceth to make us heavenly. As men are apt to learn and use the language, the motives, and the employments of the Country and people where they live; so he that is most familiar with such as live by Faith, upon things unseen, and take Gods promise for full security, hath a very great help to learn and live that life himself, Heb. 10.24, 25. 1 Thes. 4.17, 18. Phil. 3.20, 21.

Direct. 20. Forget not the nearness of the things unseen, and think not of a long continuance in this world; but live in con­tinual expectation of your change.

Distant things, be they never so great, do hardly move us: As in bodily motion, the mover must be contiguous: And as our senses are not fit to apprehend beyond a certain distance; so our minds also are finite, and have their bounds and mea­sure: [Page 167] And sin hath made them much narrower, foolish and [...]-sighted than they would have been. A certainty of dy­ing [...] last, should do much with us: But yet he that looketh to live long on earth, will the more hardly live by Faith in Heaven; when he that daily waiteth for his change, will have easily the more serious and effectual thoughts of the world in which he must live next, and of all the preparations neces­sary thereunto; and will the more easily despise the things on earth, which are the employment and felicity of the sensual, Col. 3.1, 2, 3. Phil. 1.20, 21, 22, 23. 1 Cor. 15.31. As we see it in constant experience in men, when they see that they must presently die indeed, how light then set they by the world? how little are they moved with the talk of honour, with the voice of mirth, with the sight of meat, or drink, or beauty, or any thing which before they had not power to deny? and how seriously they will then talk of sin and grace, of God and Heaven, which before they could not be awakened to regard? If therefore you would live by faith indeed, set your selves as at the entrance of that world which faith foreseeth, and live as men that know they may die to morrow, and certainly must be gone ere long. Dream not of I know not how many years more on earth, which God never promised you; unl [...]ss you make it your business to vanquish faith by setting its ob­jects at a greater distance than God hath set them. Learn Christs warning to one and all, To watch, and to be alwaies ready, Mark 13.33, 35, 37. 1 Pet. 4▪ 7. Mat. 24.44. Luke 12.40. He that thinketh he hath yet time enough, and day-light before him, will be the apter to loiter in his work or Journey: When every man will make haste when the Sun is setting, if he have much to do, or far to go. Delaies which are the great preventers of Repentance, and undoers of the world, do take their greatest advantage from this unground­ed expectation of long life. When they hear the Physician say, He is a dead man, and there is no hope, then they would fain begin to live, and then how religious and reformed would they be? whereas if this foolish errour did not hinder them, they might be of the same mind all their lives, and might have then done their work, and waited with desire for the Crown; and said with Paul, For I am now ready to be offered, and the [Page 168] time of my departure is at hand: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord the Righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me on­ly, but to them also that love his appearing, 2 Tim. 4.6, 7, 8.

And so much for the General Directions to be observed by them that will live by Faith: I only add, that as the well do­ing of all our particular duties, dependeth most on the com­mon health and soundness of the soul, in its state of grace; so our living by Faith in all the particular cases after instanced, doth depend more upon these General Directions, than on the particular ones which are next to be adjoyned.

CHAP. I. An Enumeration of the Particular Cases in which especially Faith must be used. 1. How to live by Faith on GOD.

THE General Directions before given must be practised in all the Particular Cases following, or in order to them: But besides them, it is needful to have some special Directions for each Case. And the particular Cases which I shall instance in are these: 1. How to exercise Faith on GOD himself: 2. Upon Jesus Christ: 3. Upon the Holy Ghost: 4. About the Scripture Precepts and Examples: 5. About the Scri­pture Promises: 6. About the Threatnings: 7. About Par­don of sin, and Justification: 8. About Sanctification, and the exercises of other Graces; 9. Against inward vices and temp­tations to actual sin: 10. In case of Prosperity: 11. In Adver­sity and particular Afflictions: 12. In Gods Worship, pub­lick and private: 13. For Spiritual Peace and Joy: 14. For the World, and the Church of God: 15. For our Relations: 16. In loving others as our selves: 17. About Heaven, and following the Saints: 18. How to die in Faith: 19. About the coming of Christ to Judgement.

[Page 169] GOD is both the object of our knowledge, as he is revealed in Nature, and of our Faith, as he is revealed in the holy Scriptures. He is the first and last object of our Faith. It is life eternal to know him the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Ye believe in God, believe also in me; was Christs order in commanding and causing Faith, Joh. 14.1. Seeing therefore this is the principal part of Faith (to know God, and live upon him, and to him) I shall give you many (though brief) Directions in it.

Direct. 1. Behold the glorious and full demonstrations of the Being of the Deity, in the whole frame of nature, and especially in your selves.

The great argument from the Effect to the Cause, is un­answerable. All the caused and derived Beings in the world, must needs have a first Being for their cause: All Action, In­tellection and Volition; all Power, Wisdom and Goodness, which is caused by another, doth prove that the cause can have no less than the total effect hath. To see the world, and to know what a man is, and yet to deny that there is a God, is to be mad. He that will not know that which all the world doth more plainly preach, than words can possibly express, and will not know the sense of his own Being and faculties, doth declare himself uncapable of teaching, Psal. 14.1. & 49.12, 20. Isa. 1.2, 3. It is the greatest shame that mans under­standing is capable of, to be ignorant of God, 1 Cor. 15.34. and the greatest shame to any Nation, Hos. 4.1. & 6.6. As it is the highest advancement of the mind, to know him, and therefore the summ of all our duty, Prov. 2.5. Hos. 6.6· 2 Chron. 30.21, 22. Isa. 11.9. 2 Pet. 2.20. Rom. 1.20, 28. Joh. 17.3.

Direct. 2. Therefore take not the Being and Perfections of God, for superstructures and conclusions, which may be tryed, and made bow to the interest of other points; but as the greatest, clearest, surest truths, next to the knowledge of our own Being and Intellection: And that which all other (at least, not the pro­per objects of sense) must be tryed and reduced to.

When there is no right method or order of knowledge, there is no true and solid knowledge. It is distraction, and not know­ing, [Page 170] to begin at the top, and to lay the foundation last, and reduce things certain to things uncertain. And it is no wiselier done of Atheists, who argue from their apprehensions of other things, against the Beings or Perfections of God. As when they say, [There is much evil in the world permitted by God; and there is death, and many tormenting pains befall even the in­nocent bruits; and there are wars and confusions, and ignorance and wickedness, have dominion in the earth: Therefore God is not perfectly good; nor perfectly wise, and just, and powerful in his government of the world.] The errour in the method of arguing here, helpeth to continue their blindness. That God is perfectly good, is prius cognitum: Nothing is more certain than that he, who is the cause of all the derived goodness in the whole Universe, must have as much or more than all himself: Seeing therefore that Heaven and Earth, and all things, bear so evident a witness to this truth, this is the foundation, and first to be laid, and never more questioned, nor any argument brought against it. For all that possibly can be said against it; must be à minus notis, from that which is more obscure. See­ing then that it is most certain by sense, that calamities and evils are in the world; and no less certain that there is a God, who is most perfectly good; it must needs follow that these two are perfectly consistent; and that some other cause of evil must be found out, than any imperfection in the chief good. But as to the Being of things, and Order in the world, it followeth not that They must be as g [...]od and perfect as their Maker and Governour is himself: nor one part as good and perfect in it self as any other. Because it was not the Crea­tours purpose when he made the world, to make another God, that should be equal with himself (for two Infinite Be­ings and Perfections, is a contradiction.) But it was his will to imprint such measures of his own likeness and excellencies upon the creatures, and with such variety, as his wisdom saw fittest; the reasons of which are beyond our search: The Di­vine Agency, as it is in him the Agent, is perfect: But the effect hath those measures of goodness which he was freely pleased to communicate.

And as I have given you this instance, to shew the folly of trying the certain foundation by the less certain notions or [Page 171] accidents in the world; so you must abhor the same errour in all other instances: Some wit may consist with the que­stioning of many plain conclusions: But he is a fool indeed, who saith, There is no God, or doubteth of his essential pro­perties, Psal. 14.1, 2. Rom. 1.19, 20, 21.

Direct 3. Remember that all our knowledge of God, while we are in the body here, is but enigmatical, and as in a glass; and that all words which man can speak of God (at least except Being and Substance) are but terms bel [...]w him, borrowed from his Image on the Creatures, and not s [...]gnifying the same thing for­mal [...]y in God, which they signifie in us.

If you think otherwise, you will make an Idol in your conception, instead of God: And you will debase him, and bring him down to the condition of the creature. And yet it doth not follow that we know nothing of him, or that all such expressions of God are vain, or false, or must be difused: For then we must not think or talk of God at all. But we must speak of him according to the highest notions, which we can borrow from the nobl [...]st parts of his Image; confessing still, that they are but borrowed: And these must be used till we come nearer, and see as face to face; and when that which is perfect is come, then that which is imperfect shall be done away, 1 Cor. 13.10, 11, 12. And yet it is (in com­parison of darker revelations) as with open face that we behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord; and it is a sight that can change us into the same Image, as from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord, 2 Cor. 3.18.

D [...]rect. 4. Abhor the furious ignorance, which brandeth every one with the names of heresie or blasphemy, who differ from them in the use of some unnecessary metaphor of God, when their diffe­rent phrases tend not indeed to his dishonour, and perhaps may have the same signification with their own.

When we are all forced to confess, that all our tearms of God are improper or metaphorical, and yet m [...]n will run those metaphors into numerous branches, and carry them unto greater impropriety, and then rail at all as blasphemers that question them; this practice is (though too common) a hei­nous sin in them, as it hath direful effects upon the Church. Should I recite the sad histories of this iniquity, and shew what [Page 172] it hath done between the Greek and Latine Churches, and be­tween those called Orthodox and Catholick, and many through the world that have been numbered with Hereticks; it would be too large a subject for our sorrow and complaints.

Direct. 5. Abhor presumptu [...]us curiosities in enquiring into the secret things of God; much more in pretending to know them; and most of all in reviling and contending against others upon those pretences.

It is sad to observe abundance of seemingly learned men, who are posed in the smallest creature which they study, yet talking as confidently of the unsearchable things of God; yea and raving as furiously and voluminously against all that con­tradict them, as if they had dwelt in the inaccessible light, and knew all the order of the acts of God, much better than they know themselves, and the motions of their own minds; or better than they can anatomize a worm or a beast. They that will not presume to say, that they know the secrets of their Prince, or the heart of any of their neighbours; yea they that perceive the difficulty of knowing the state of a mans own soul, because our hearts are a maze and labyrinth, and o [...]r thoughts so various and confused, can yet give you so exact a Scheme of all Gods conceptions, that it shall be no less than heresie to question the order of any part of it. They can tell you what Idea's are in the mind of God, and in what order they lye; and how those Idea's are the same unchanged about things that are changed; about things past, and present, and to come; and what futurition was from Eternity, as in the Idea of Gods mind; they can tell me in what order he knoweth things, and by what means; and whe­ther future contingents are known to him in their causes, or in his decree, or in their coexistence in eternity: They can tell what Decrees he hath about Negatives; as that such a man shall not have Faith given him; that millions of things possible shall not be, that you shall not be a plant, or a beast, nor any other man, nor called by any other name, &c. And how all Gods Decrees are indeed but One, and yet not only unconceivably numerous, but the order of them as to priority and posteriority, is to be exactly defined and defended, though to the detriment of charity and peace: As to sin, they can [Page 173] tell you, whether he have a real positive Decree, de re eveni­ente, or only de eventu rei, or only de propriâ permissione even­tus, i. e. de non impediendo, i. e. de non agendo; whether non agere need and have a positive act of Volition or Nolition an­tecedent; Though they know not when they hear the sound of the wind, either whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; yet know they all the methods of the Spirit: They know how God as the first-mover, predetermineth the motions of all Agents, natural and free, and whether his influence be up­on the essence, or faculty, or act immediately; and what that influx is. In a word, how voluminously do they darken coun­sel by words without knowledge? As if they had never read Gods large expostulation with Job (42 &c.) Deut. 29 29. The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed, unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this Law. Even an Angel could say to Manoah, Judg. 13.18. Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret? No man hath seen God at any time, (saving) the only begotten Son, who is in the bosome of the Father; he hath declared him, Joh. 1.18. And what he hath de­clared we may know: But how much more do these men pretend to know, than ever Christ declared? But who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his Counsellor? Rom. 11.34.

Etiam vera de Deo loqui periculosum: Even things that are true should be spoken of God, not only with reverence, but with great caution: And a wise man will rather admire and adore, than boldly speak what he is not certain is true and congruous.

Direct. 6. Let all your knowledge of God be practical; yea more practical than any other knowledge; and let not your thoughts once use Gods Name in vain.

If it be a sin to use idle or unprofitable words, and especial­ly to take Gods Name in vain; it cannot be faultless to have idle unprofitable thoughts of God: for the thoughts are the operations of the mind it self. There is no thought or know­ledge which ever cometh into our minds, which 1. Hath so great work to do; and 2. Is so fit and powerfull to do it, as the knowledge and thoughts which we have of God. The [Page 174] v [...]ry renovation of the soul to his Image, and transforming it into the Divine Nature, must be wrought hereby: The thoughts of his Wisdom, must silence all our contradicting fol­ly, and bring our souls to an absolute submission and subjection to his Laws: The knowledge of his Goodness, must cause all true saving Goodness in us, by poss [...]ssing us with the highest love to God. The knowledge of his Power, must cause both our confidence, and our fear: And the impress of Gods Attributes must be his Image on our souls. It is a common (and true) observation of Divines, that in Scripture, words of God which express his Knowledge, do imply his will and affections: (As his knowing the way of the righteous, Psal. 2.6. is his ap­proving and loving it, &c.) And it is as true, that words of our knowledge of God, should all imply affection towards him. It is a grievous aggravation of ungodliness, to be a learned ung [...]dly man: To profess to know God, and deny him in works, being abominable and disobedient, and reprobate to every good work (though as orthodox and ready in good words as others.) Titus 1.16.

A thought of God should be able to do any thing upon the soul. It should partake of the Omnipotency and perfection of the blessed Object. No creature should be able to stand before him, when our minds entertain any serious thoughts of him, and converse with him. A thought of God should annihilat [...] all the grandure and honours of the world to us; and all the pleasures and treasures of the flesh; and all the power of temptations: what fervency in prayer? what earnestness of desire? what confidence of faith? what hatred of sin? what ardent love? what transporting joy? what constant patience should one serious thought of God, possess the believing holy soul with?

If the thing known become as much one with the under­standing, as Plotinus and other Platonists thought, or if man were so far partaker of a kind of deification, as Gibieuf and other Oratorians, and [...]enedictus de Benedictis, Barbanson, and other Fanatick Fryers think, surely the knowledge of God should raise us more above our sensitive desires and passions, and make us a more excellent sort of persons, and it should make us more like those blessed spirits, who know him more [Page 175] than we on earth; and it should be the beginning of our eternal life, John 17.3.

Direct. 7. By Faith deliver up your selves to GOD, as your Creator, and your Owner, and live to him as those that perceive they are absolutely his own.

The word [GOD] doth signifie both Gods essence, and his three great Relations unto man, and we take him not for our God, if we take him not as in these Divine Relations. There­fore God would have Faith to be expressed at our entrance into his Church, by Baptism; because a believing soul, doth deliver up it self to God: The first and greatest work of Faith, is to enter us sincerely into the holy Covenant: In which this is the first part, that we take God for our Owner, and resign up our selves to him, without either express or implicit reserve, as those that are absolutely his own. And though these words are by any hypocrite quickly spoken, yet when the thing is really done, the very heart of sin is broken: For as the Apostle saith, He that is dead is freed from sin, Rom. 6.7. Because a dead man hath no faculties to do evil: So we may say, He that is resigned to God as his absolute Owner, is freed from sin; be­cause he that is not his own, hath nothing which is his own; and therefore hath nothing to alienate from his Owner. We are not our Own, we are bought with a price (which is the second title of Gods propriety in us) and therefore must glo­rifie God in body and spirit as being his, 1 Cor. 6.20.

And from this Relation faith will fetch abundant consola­tion, seeing they that by consent, and not only by constraint, are absolutely his, shall undoubtedly be loved, and cared for as his Own, and used and provided for as his own: He will not neglect his own, and those of his family, who will take us to be worse than Infidels, if we do so, 1 Tim. 5.8.

Direct. 8. By Faith deliver up your selves to God, as your So­veraign Ruler, with an absolute Resolution to learn, and love, and obey his Laws.

Though I have often and more largely spoken of these du­ties in other Treatises, I must not here totally omit them, where I speak of that Faith in God, which essentially consist­eth in them. It is a narrow, and foolish, and pernicious con­ceit of Faith, which thinketh it hath no object but promises [Page 176] and pardon; and that it hath nothing to do with God as our Soveraign Governour: And it is too large a description of faith, which maketh actual and formal obedience to be a part of it: As Marriage is not conjugal fidelity and duty, but it is a Cove­nant which obligeth to it; and as the Oath of Allegiance is not a formal obedience to the Laws, but it is a covenanting to obey them; and as the hiring or covenant of a servant, is not do­ing service, but it is an entring into an obligation and state of service: So Faith and our first Christianity, is not strictly for­mal obedience to him that we believe in, as such: But it is an entring of our selves by covenant into an obligation and state of future obedience. Faith hath Gods precepts for its objects as truly as his promises: But his own Relation as our King or Ruler is its primary object, before his precepts, Hos. 13.10. Psal. 2.6. & 5.2. & 10.16. & 24.7, 8, 10. & 47.6, 7. & 89.18. & 149.2. Rev. 15.3. 1 Timoth. 1.17. Luke 19.27.

Direct. 9. By Faith acknowledge GOD as your total Be­nefactor, from him you have, and must have all that's worth the having: And accordingly live in a dependance on him.

Faith taketh every good thing as a stream from this inex­hausted spring, and as a token of love, from this unmeasurable Love. It knoweth a difference in the means and way of con­veyance; but no difference as to the fountain; for all that we receive is equally from the same original; though not sent to us by the same hand. Faith should not take or look at any good abstractedly, as separated from God; but ever see the streams as continued up to the fountain; and the fruit as pro­ceeding from the tree and roots: Remember still that he doth illuminate you by the Sun; and he doth nourish you by your food (for you live not by bread only, but by his Word and blessing;) and it is he that doth teach you by his Ministers, and protect you by his Magistrates, and comfort you by your friends: You have that from one, which another cannot give you; but you have nothing from any creature whatsoever; which is not totally from God: For though he honour crea­tures to be his Messengers or Instruments, the benefit is equal­ly from him, when he useth an Instrument, and when he useth none. From him we have our Being, and our Comforts, and [Page 177] all the means and hopes of our well-being; and therefore our dependance must be absolutely on him: The blessings of this life, and of that to come; all things which appertain to life and godliness, are the gifts of his incomprehensible benignity. For it is natural to him, who is infinitely good, to do good, when he doth work ad extra; though when to communi­cate, and in what various degrees is free to him, 1 Tim. 4.8. M [...]t. 6.33. 2 Pet. 1.3. Psal. 145.14, 15. & 146.7. & 18.50. 1 Tim. 6.17. James 1.5. & 4.6. Jer. 5.24, 25.

Direct. 10. By Faith set your eye and heart most fixedly and devotedly on GOD, as your ultimate end (which is your felicity, and much more.)

He taketh not God for God indeed, who taketh him not as his ultimate end: Nay, he debaseth God, who placing his felicity in any thing else, doth cleave to God but as the means to such a felicity. But to make God our felicity is lawful and necessary; but not to dream that this is the highest respect that we must have to God, to be our felicity. To love him, and to be beloved by him; to please him, and to be pleased in him, is our ultimate end; which though it be complex, and contain our own felicity, yet doth it, as infinitely superemi­nent, contain the complacency of God, and God as the ob­ject of our Love, considered in his own infinite perfections: For he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and of him, and through him, and to him are all things, Rom. 11.36. It is the highest and noblest work of faith, to make our own Original to be our End, and to set our love entirely upon God; and to see that we our selves are but worms and vanity; capable of no higher honour, than to be means to please and glorifie God; and must not take down God so, as to love him only for our selves. And he only who thus denyeth him­self for God, doth rightly improve self-love, and seek the only exaltation and felicity, by carrying up himself to God, and adhering to the eternal good, 1 Cor. 10.31. Luke 14.33. Mat. 16.25. Mark 8.35.

Direct. 11. Distinguish these Relations of God, but divide them not; much less set them in any opposition to each other; and remember that the effects of them all are marvelously and harmo­niously mixt; but undivided.

[Page 178]The effects of Gods Power, are alwaies the effects also of his Wisdom and his Goodness: And the effects of his Wisdom, are alwaies the effects of his Goodness and his Power: And the effects of his Goodness, are alwaies the effects of his Power and his Wisdom. The effects of his Dominion on his rational sub­jects, are alwaies the effects also of his Government and Love: And the effects of his Government, are alwaies the effects al­so of his Dominion and Love: And the effects of his Love as Benefactor [...] ▪ are alwaies the effects of his Dominion and Government. Though some one Principle, and some one Re­lation, may more eminently appear in one work as others do in the other works. Disposal is the effect of Propriety; but it is alwaies a Regular and L [...]ving disposal of the subjects of his Government. L [...]gislation and Judgement are the effects of his Kingdom: Bu [...] Dominion and Love have a hand in both, till Rebellion turn men from subjection: Glorification is the highest effect of Love: But it is given [...]so by our Owner, as by one that may do as he list with his own and by our Gover­nour by the way of a Reward, Mat. 20.15. 2 Tim. 4.7, 8. Mat. 25. throughout.

Direct. 12. Especially let Faith unvail to you the face of the Goodness of God; and see that your thoughts of it be neither false nor low; but equal to your thoughts of his Power and Ʋnder­standing.

1. As our loss by sin, is more in the point of Goodness, than of Power or Knowledge (The Devils having much of the two last, who have but little or nothing of the first) so it is the Goodness of God which must be more studied by a Believer, than his Power or his Wisdom, because the impress of it is more necessary to us in our lapsed state.

2. They have false thoughts of Gods Goodness, who make it to consist only or chiefly, in a communicative inclination ad extra, which we call Benignity: For he was as Good from Eter­nity, before he made any creature, as he is since: And his Goodness considered as essential in himself, and as his own per­fection, is infinitely higher than the consideration of it, as ter­minated on any Creature. Man is denominated good from his adaptation to the will of God, and not God chiefly from his adaptation to the commodity or will of man. And they [Page 179] do therefore debase God, and deifie his creature, who make the creature the ultimate end of GOD and it self; and not God the ultimate end of the creature. And they might as well make the creature the Beginning also of it self and God: (And yet this sottish notion taketh much with many half-witted Novelists in this Age, who account themselves the men of ingenuity.)

And they have also false thoughts of the Goodness of God, who think that there is nothing of communicative Benignity in it at all. For all the good which God doth, he doth it from the Goodness of his Nature: Thou art good, and doest good, Psal. 119.68. And his doing good is usually expressed by the phrase of being good to them: The Lord is good to all, Psal. 145.9. Psal. 25 8 & 86.5.

Object. But if communicative Benignity be natural to God as his Essential Goodness is, then he must do good per modum na­turae, & ad ultimum potentiae; and then the world was from Eternity, and as good as God could make it.

Answ. 1. Those Christian Divines who do hold that the Ʋniverse was from Eternity, and that it is as good as God can make it; do not yet hold that it was its own original, but an eternal emanation from God, and therefore that God who is the beginning of it, is the ultimate end, and eternally and vo­luntarily, though naturally and necessarily produced it for himself, even for the pleasure of his will: And therefore that Gods Essential Goodness as it is in it self, is much higher than the same as terminated in, or productive of the Universe. And that no mixt bodies which do oriri & interire, are gene­rated and corrupted, were from eternity; and consequently, that this present systeme called the world, which is within our sight, was not from eternity: But that as spring and fall doth revive the plants, and end their transitory life; so it hath been with these particular systemes; the simpler and nobler parts of the Universe continuing the same. And they held that the world is next to infinitely good; and as good as it is possible to be without being God; and that for God to produce ano­ther God, or an infinite good, is a contradiction: And that all the baser, and pained, and miserable parts of the world, are best respectively to the perfection of the whole, though not best [Page 180] in and to themselves; (As every nuck and pin in a watch is necessary as well as the chief parts.) And that all things set together, it is best that all things be as they are, and will be: But of this the infinite Wisdom, who seeth not only some little parts, but the whole Universe at one perfect view, is the fittest Judge.

2. But the generality of Divines do hold the contrary, and say, that it is natural to God to be the Alsufficient pregnant good; not only able to communicate goodness, but inclined to it, as far as his perfection doth require; but not inclined to communicate in a way of natural constant necessity, as the Sun shineth, but in a way of liberty, when, and in what degrees he pleaseth; which pleasure is guided by his infinite Ʋnderstanding, which no mortal man can comprehend; and therefore must not ask any further reason of the first reason and will; but stop here, and be satisfied to find that it is indeed Gods Will and Reason, which causeth all things when and what they are, and not otherwise. And that God hath not made the Universe as good in it self, as by his absolute Power he could have made it: But that it is best to be as it is and will be, be­cause it is most suitable to his perfect Will and Wisdom. And this answer seemeth most agreeable to Gods Word.

And as you must see that your thoughts of Gods Goodness be not false; so also that they be not diminutive and low. As no knowledge is more useful and necessary to us; so nothing is more wonderfully revealed by God, than is his amiable Goodness: For this end he sent his Son into flesh, to declare his Love to the forelorn world, and to call them to behold it, and admire it, John 1 8, 9, 10. & 3.16. 1 John 3.1. Rev. 21.3. And as Christ is the chief glass of the Fathers Love, on this side Heaven; so it is the chief part of the office of Faith, to see Gods Love and Goodness in the face of Christ: Let him not reveal his Love in vain, at so dear a rate, and in a way of such wonderful condescension: Think of his Goodness, as equal to his greatness: And as you see his greatness in the frame of the world; so his goodness in the wonderful work of mans Re­demption and Salvation: Let Faith beholding God in Christ, and daily thus gazing on his goodness, or rather tasting it, and feasting on it, be the very summ of all your Religion and [Page 181] your lives. This is indeed to live by Faith, when it worketh by that Love, which is our holiness and life.

Direct. 13. Let not Faith overlook the Books of the Creation, and the wonderful demonstrations of Gods Attributes there­in.

Even such revelations of Gods goodness and fidelity as are made in Nature, or the works of Creation, are sometimes in Scriptures made the objects of faith. At least we who by the belief of the Scriptures, do know how the worlds were made, Heb. 11.2, 3. must believingly study this glorious work of our great Creator. All those admirations and praises of God as appearing in his works, which David useth, were not without the use of faith. Thus faith can use the world as a sanctified thing, and as a glass to see the glory of God in, while sensual sinners use it against God to their own perdi­tion, and make it an enemy to God and them; so contrary is the life of Faith and of Sense. He hath not the heart of a man within him, who is not stricken with admiration of the Power, and Wisdom and Goodness of the incomprehensible Creator, when he seriously looketh to the Sun and Stars, to Sea and Land, to the course of all things, and to the won­derful variety and natures of the particular creatures. And he hath not the heart of a Believer in him, who doth not think [O what a God is it whom I am bound to serve, and who hath taken me into his Covenant as his child! How happy are they who have such a God, engaged to be their God and Happiness? And how miserable are they who make such a God their revenging Judge and enemy? Shall I ever again wilfully or carelesly sin against a God of so great Majesty? If the Sun were an intellectual Deity, and still looked on me, should I presumptuously offend him? Shall I ever distrust the power of him that made such a world? Shall I fear a worm, a mortal man, above this great and terrible Creator? Shall I ever again resist or disobey the word and wisdom of him, who made and ruleth such a world? Doth he govern the whole world, and should not I be governed by him? Hath he Good­ness enough to communicate as he hath done to Sun and Stars to Heaven and Earth, to Angels and Men, and every wight? and hath he not Goodness enough to draw, and engage, and [Page 182] continually delight, this dull and narrow heart of mine? Doth the return of his Sun, turn the darksome night into the lightsome day, and bring forth the creatures to their food and labour; doth its approach revive the torpid earth, and turn the congealed winter into the pleasant spring, and cover the earth with her fragrant many-coloured Robes, and renew the life and joy of the terrestrial inhabitants; and shall I find no­thing in the God who made and still continueth the world, to be the life, and strength, and pleasure of my soul? Psal. 66.1. &c. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye Lands: sing forth the honour of his Name; make his praise glorious: say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works? — Come and see the works of God: He is terrible in his doing towards the children of men. —He ruleth by his power for ever: his eyes behold the Na­tions: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. O bless our God ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard! who holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved, Psal. 86.8, 9, 10. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord, neither are there any works like unto thy works. All Nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord, and shall glorifie thy Name: For thou art great, and dost wonderous things: thou art God alone, Psal. 92.5, 6. O Lord how great are thy works! thy thoughts are very deep, a bruitish man knoweth not, neither doth a fool understand this.

Faith doth not separate it self from natural knowledge, nor neglect Gods Works, while it studyeth his Word; but saith Psal. 143.5. I meditate on all thy Works: I muse on the work of thy hands. Psal. 104.24. O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches; so is the great and wide Sea, &c.

Nay, it is greatly to be noted, that as Redemption is to re­pair the Creation, and the Redeemer came to recover the soul of man to his Creator, and Christ is the way to the Father; so on the Lords day our commemoration of Redemption includeth and is subservient to our commemoration of the Creation, and the work of the ancient Sabbath is not shut out, but taken in with the proper work of the Lords day: and as Faith in Christ is a mediate grace to cause in us the Love of God; so the Word of the Redeemer doth not call off our thoughts from the [Page 183] Works of the great Creator, but call them back to that employ­ment, and fit us for it by reconciling us to God.

Therefore it is as suitable to the Gospel Church at least, as it was to the Jewish, to make Gods works the matter of our Sabbath praises, and to say, as Psal. 145.4, 5, 10. One gene­ration shall praise thy works to another; and shall declare thy mighty acts: I will speak of the glorious honour of thy Majesty, and of thy wonderous works: And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts, and I will declare thy greatness —All thy works shall praise thee O Lord, and thy Saints shall bless thee, Psal. 26.6, 7. I will wash my hands in innocency, and so will I compass thine Altar O Lord, that I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wonderous works, Psal. 9.12. I will praise thee O Lord with my whole heart, I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.

Direct. 14. Let Faith also observe God in his daily Provi­dences; and equally honour him for the ordinary and the extra­ordinary passages thereof.

The upholding of the world is a continual causing of it; and differeth from creation, as the continued shining of a Candle doth from the first lighting of it. If therefore the Creation do wonderfully declare the Power, and Wisdom, and Goodness of God; so also doth the conservation. And note that Gods ordinary works are as great demonstrations of him in all his perfections, as his extraordinary: Is it not as great a de­claration of the Power of God, that he cause the Sun to shine, and to keep its wonderous course from age to age, as if he did such a thing but for a day or hour? and as if he caused it to stand still a day? And is it not as great a demonstration of his knowledge also, and of his goodness? Surely we should take it for as great an act of Love, to have plenty, and health, and joy continued to us as long as we desired it, as for an hour. Let not then that duration and ordinariness of Gods manife­stations to us, which is their aggravation, be lookt upon as if it were their extenuation: But let us admire God in the Sun and Stars, in Sea and Land, as if this were the first time that ever we had seen them.

And yet let the extraordinarniess of his works have its effects also: Their use is to stir up the drowsie mind of man, to see [Page 184] God in that which is unusual, who is grown customary and lifeless in observing him in things usual. Pharaoh and his Ma­gicians will acknowledge God, in those unusual works, which they are no way able to imitate themselves, and say, This is the finger of God, Exod. 8.19. And therefore miracles are never to be made light of, but the finger of God to be acknow­ledged in them, whoever be the instrument or occasion, Luke 11.20.

There are frequently also some notable, though not mi­raculous Providences, in the changes of the world, and in the disposal of all events, and particularly of our selves, in which a Believer should still see God; yea see him as the total cause, and take the instruments to be next to nothing; and not gaze all at men as unbelievers do: but say, This is the Lords doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes, Psal. 118.23. Sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvelous things, Psal. 98.1. Marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well, Psal. 139.14.

Direct. 15. But let the chief study of Faith for the know­ledge of God, be of the face of Jesus Christ, and the most won­derful mystery of his Incarnation, and our Redemption.

For God is no where else so fully manifested to man, in that Goodness, Love, and Mercy, which it most concerneth us to know; and the knowledge of which will be most healing and sanctifying to the soul: But of this I must speak more in the chapter next following.

Direct. 16. Let Faith make use of every mercy, not only to acknowledge God therein, but to have a pleasant taste and rellish of his Love.

For thus it is that they are all sanctified to Believers, and this is the holy use of mercies: Remember that as in order to Ʋnderstanding, your eyes and ears are but the passages or inlets to your minds; and if sights and sounds went no further than the senses, you would be no better, if not worse than beasts: So also in order to Affection, the taste and sense of sweetness, or any other pleasure, is to pass by the sense unto the heart; and what should it do there, but affect the heart with the Love and Goodness of the giver. A beast tasteth as much of the sensitive sweetness of his food and ease as you do: [Page 185] But it is the Believer who heartily saith, How good is the Au­thor and end of all this mercy? whence is it that this cometh? and whether d [...]th it tend? I love the Lord because he hath heard the voice of my supplication, Psal. 116.1. O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, Psal. 145.15, 16. The eyes of all things wait on thee: thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thy hand, and satisfiest the desires of every living thing. He leaveth not himself without wit­ness in that he doth good, and giveth us Rain from Heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness, Acts 14.17. The near conjunction of soul and body, and the near relation of God and his mercies, do tell us plainly, that every pleasure which toucheth the sense, should touch the heart, and reach unto the soul it self; and that as the creature is fitted to the sense, and God is suitable to the soul; so the creature should be but Gods servant to knock and cause us to open the door to himself, and the way of his communication and accession to the heart. Therefore so great a judgement is threatned against the Israelites in their prosperity, if they did not serve God with j [...]yfulness and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things, Deut. 28.47. And therefore the daies in which men were to rejoyce in God, with the greatest love and thankfulness, were appointed to be daies of feasting, that the pleasure of the bodily senses might promote the spiritual pleasure and gratitude of the mind. 2 Chron. 19.21. & 29.30. Neh. 8.17. & 12.27. Esth. 9 17, 18, 19. Numb. 10.10.

Direct. 17. Let Faith feel Gods displeasure in every cha­stisement and judgement.

For we must be equally careful that we despise them not, and that we faint not under them, Heb. 12.5. They that pre­tend that it is the work of faith to see nothing in any affliction but the love and benefit, do but set one act of faith against another: For the same word which telleth us, that it shall turn to a true believers good, doth tell us that it is of it self a natural evil, and that as the good is from Gods Love, so the evil is from our sins, and his displeasure; and that he would give us the good without the evil, if man were without sin. He therefore that believeth not that it is a castigatory punish­ment for sin, is an unbeliever, as well as he that believeth not [Page 186] the promise of the benefit, Rom. 5.12, 14, 16, 17, 18. 1 Cor. 11.30, 32. Jer. 5.25. Micah 1.5. Amos 3.2.

Yea this opinion directly frustrateth the first end and use of all chastisements which is to further mens Repentance for the evil of sin, by the sense of the evil of punishment, and the no­tice of Gods displeasure manifested thereby: And next to make us warnings to others, that they incur not the same correction and displeasure as we have done. For he that saith, there is no penalty or evil in the suffering, nor no displeasure of God exprest thereby, doth contradict all this. But as it is a great benefit which we are to reap by our corrections, even the furtherance of our Repentance and amendment; so it is a great work of faith, to perceive the bitterness of sin, and the displeasure of God in these corrections: of which more anon.

Direct. 18. Faith must hear the voice of God in all his Word, and in all the counsel which by any one he shall send us.

When sense taketh notice of nothing but a book, or of none but a man, faith must perceive the mind and message of God. Not only in Preachers, 2 Cor. 5.19, 20. 1 Thes. 2.13. Titus 2.5. Heb. 13.7. but also in the mouth of wicked enemies, when it is indeed the will of God which they reveal. And so David heard the curse of Shimei, speaking to him the rebukes of God, for his sin in the matter of Ʋ [...]iah, 2 Sam. 16.10, 11. And Paul rejoyced that Christ was preached by men of envy and strife, who did it to add affliction to his bonds, Phil. 1.18. Moses perceived the will of God in the counsel of Jethro, even in as great a matter as the governing and judging of the people, Exod. 18.19. The counsel of the ancients which Re­hoboam forsook, was the counsel of God which be rejected, 1 King. 12.8. David blessed God for the counsel of a woman, Abigail. Whoever be the Messenger, a Believer should be ac­quainted with the voice of God, and know the true signifi­cations of his will. The true sheep of Christ do know his voice, and follow him, because they are acquainted with his Word; and though the Preacher be himself of a sinful life, he can di­stinguish betwixt God and the Preacher; and will not say, it is not the Word of God, because it cometh from a wicked mouth. For he hath read, Psal. 50.16. where God saith to [Page 187] the wicked, What hast thou to do to take my Covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest instruction, and hast cast my words behind thee: But he never read [to the godly, saith God, Why didst thou hear a wicked Preacher?] He hath read, The Scribes and Pharisees fit in Moses chair, hear them, but do not as they do. But he never read [Hear none that live not accord­ing to their doctrine.] An unbeliever will not know Christs Word, if a Judas be the Preacher of it: but a Believer can read the commission of Judas, or at least can understand whose counsel he delivereth: and though he would be loth to chuse a Judas, or to prefer him before a holy man; yet if workers of iniquity do preach in Christs Name, he leaveth it to Christ to say at Judgement, I know you not, Mat. 7.21, 22. Acts 1.17, 24.

Direct. 19. Faith must not look at God now and then, and leave the soul in ordinary forgetfulness of him: but remember that he is alwaies present, and must make us rather forget them that are talking to us, or conversing with us, than to forget the Lord.

Nothing is more the work of Faith, than to see him who is invisible, Heb. 11.27. And to live as one that still remember­eth, that God standeth by: To think as one that knoweth that our thoughts are alwaies in his sight, and to speak and do as one that forgetteth not, that he is the constant and most re­verend witness of all. To hear, and pray, and live, and labour as if we saw the God who employeth us, and will reward us, Matth. 6.4, 6. Isa. 59.18. Rev. 20.12. Matth. 16.27. Rom. 2.6.

Direct. 20. Faith must lay the heart of man, to rest in the Will of God, and to make it our chief delight to please him, and quietly to trust him whatever cometh to pass: And to make no­thing of all that would rise up against him, or entice us from him, or would be to us as in his stead.

Faith seeth that it is the pleasing of the will of God, which is all our work, and all our reward: And that we should be fully pleased in the pleasing of him: And that there is no other rest for the soul to be thought on, but the will of God: And it must content the soul in him alone, 2 Thes. 1.11. Col. 3.20. 1 Cor. 7.32. 1 Thes. 4.1. 2 Tim. 2.4. Heb. 11.6. Mat. 3.17. [Page 188] & 17.5. Heb. 13.16. Psal. 16.5. & 73.26. & 119.57. & 142.5.

As God is often called Jealous, especially over the heart of man; so faith must make us jealous of our selves, and very watchful against every creature, which w [...]uld become any part of the felicity or ultimate object of our souls. God is so great to a believing soul, that ease, and honour, and wealth, and pleasure, and all men, high and low must be as dead and nothing to us, when they speak against him, or would be loved, or feared, or trusted, or obeyed before him, or above him: It is as natural to a true life of Faith on God, to make no­thing of the incroaching creature, as for our beholding the Sun, to make nothing of a Candle. And thus is faith our victory over the world, 1 John 5.4. Jer. 17.5. Isa. 2.22. 1 Cor. 15.28. Ephes. 4.6. Col. 3.11.

CHAP. II. Directions how to live by Faith on Jesus Christ.

SO much is said already towards this in opening the grounds of Faith, as will excuse me from being prolix in the rest: And the following parts of the Life of Faith, are still supposed as subordinate to these two which go be­fore.

Direct. 1. Keep still the true Reasons of Christs Incarnation and Mediation upon your mind (as they are before expressed) else Christ will not be known by you as Christ. Therefore the Scriptures are much in declaring the reasons of Christs coming into the world, as to be a sacrifice for sin, to declare Gods love and mercy to sinners; to seek and to save that which was lost; to destroy the works of the Devil, &c. 1 Tim. 1.15. 1 John 3.8. Heb. 2.14. Luke 19.10. Rom. 5.10. 1 John 3.1. Gal. 4.4, 6, &c. Let this name or description of Christ be engraven as in capital Letters upon your minds. THE ETERNAL WISDOM OF GOD INCARNATE TO RE­VEAL AND COMMƲNICATE HIS WILL, HIS LOVE, HIS SPIRIT TO SINFƲL MISERABLE MAN.

[Page 189]Direct. 2. See therefore that you joyn no conceit of Christ, which dishonoureth God, and is contrary to this character, and to Gods design.

Many by mistaking the doctrine of Christs Intercession, do think of God the Father, as one that is all wrath and justice, and unwilling of himself to be reconciled unto man: and of the second person in the Trinity, as more gracious and mer­c [...]ful, whose mediation abateth the wrath of the Father, and with much ado maketh him willing to have mercy on us. Whereas it is the Love of God, which is the original of our Redemption, and it was Gods loving the world, which pro­voked him to give his Son to be their Redeemer, John 3.16. Rom. 8.32. And God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing to them their trespasses, 2 Cor. 5.19. And therefore we still read of Christs reconciling man to God, and not the phrase of his reconciling God to man: Not but that both are truly wrought by Christs mediation; (For the Scripture frequently speaketh of Gods hating the workers of iniquity, and of his vindictive Justice, and of that propitiating and attonement, which signifieth the same thing:) But the reason is, because the enmity began on mans part, and not on Gods, by mans forsaking God, and turning his love from him to the creature, and not by Gods forsaking man; and the change of mans state and heart towards God, by true reconciliation, will make him again capable of peace with God; and as soon as man is made an object fit for the complacency of God, it cannot be but that God will again take complacency in him; so that the real change must be only on man; and then that relative or denominative change which must be on God, will thence immediately result.

Some also there be who gather from Christs death, that God desired the sufferings of Christ as pleasing to him in it self; as if he made a bargain with Christ to sell so much mercy to man, for so much blood and pains of Christ; and as if he so delight­ed in the blood of the innocent, that he would the willinglyer do good to us, if he might first forsake and crucifie Christ. But this is to contradict Christs business in the world, as if he who came from Heaven to declare Gods Love, had come to de­clare him to delight in doing hurt; and as if he who came [Page 190] to demonstrate Gods Justice, had come to shew, that he had rather punish the innocent, than the guilty: But the case is quite otherwise: God doth not delight in mans sufferings as such; no not of the guilty, much less of the innocent: He desired not Christs suffering for it self: But as it was a con­venient means, to demonstrate his Justice, and his Holiness, and to vindicate the honour of his Government and Law, and to be a warning to sinners, not to sin presumptuously; and yet to declare to them the greatness of his Love.

And some are ready to gather from Christs propitiation, that God is now more reconcileable to sin, and so they blaspheme him as if he were unholy: As if he made a smaller matter of our mis-doings, since he is satisfied for them by a Mediator. And they are ready to gather, that God can now take com­placency in man, though he have no inherent holiness at all, because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to him. And some take Gods imputation of Christs righteousness to us, to be a reputing us to be the persons, who our selves fulfilled the Law in or by Christ; so that his very Attributes of Wisdom, and Love, and Holiness, and Justice, and Mercy, &c. which Christ came purposely to declare, are by some denyed, blasphemed or abused, on pretence of extolling Christ and our Redem­ption; as if we might sin that grace may abound, Rom. 6.1, 2. But if while we seek to be justified by Christ, we our selves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the Minister of sin? God forbid, Gal. 2.17.

Direct. 3. Distinguish between the common and the special benefits of mans Redemption by Christ; and see how the latter do suppose the former; and set not these parts against each other, which God in wisdom hath joyned together.

To pass by all other the great and notable common benefit, is the conditional Covenant of grace; or the conditional pardon of sin, and gift of eternal life to all without exception, John 3.16. Mark 16.15, 16. Rom. 10.9. Mat. 6.14, 15. Mat. 22.7, 8, 9. And this general conditional promise must be first preached; and the preaching of this is the universal o [...] common call and offer of grace: And it must be first believed, as is before said. But the actual belief of it, according to its true in­tent and meaning, doth prove our actual personal title to all [Page 191] the benefits which were before given but conditionally, John 3.16. 1 John 5.10, 11, 12. 2 Cor. 5.19, 20 21.

Direct. 4. Accordingly judge how far Redemption is common or special, by the common and special benefits procured.

For no man can deny but it is so far common, as the benefits are common: that is, so far as to procure and give to sinners a common conditional pardon as aforesaid (as Dr. Twisse very of­ten taketh notice.) And no man can affirm, that it is common to all, so far as absolutely or eventually to give them actual par­don and salvation, unless they dream that all are saved. But that some eventually and infallibly are saved, all confess: And we had rather think that Christ and the good pleasure of God, is the chief differencing cause, than we our selves.

Direct. 5. Set not the several parts of the Office of Christ against each other; nor either depress or forget any one part, while you magnifie and meditate only on the other,

It is most ordinary to reduce all the Office of Christ, to the Prophetical, Priestly, and Kingly part. (For it is more proper to call them three parts of one Office, than three Offices:) But it is hard to reduce his Incarnation, or his infant-humilia­tion, and his whole course of obedience, and fulfilling the Law to any one, or all of these, totally. Though in some re­spect, as it is his example, it is teaching, and as it is part of his humiliation, it may be called a part of his sacrifice; yet as it is meritorious, obedience and perfection, it belongeth indeed to our High-Priest, but not formally to his Priesthood: No nor yet as he himself is the sacrifice for sin: For it is not an act of Priesthood to be himself a sacrifice. But yet I think the com­mon destribution intimateth to us that sense which contain­eth the truth which we enquire after: For the word Priest­hood is applyed to Christ in a peculiar notion, so as it is never applyed to any other; and therefore is taken more compre­hensively, as including all that good which he doth for us (as good) by the way of Mediation with the Father, and all his acts of Mediation with God; as the Prophetical and Kingly parts, contain his other acts toward men. But yet a more plain and accurate destribution should be made; in which it should be manifested also to what heads his many other as­sumed titles of Relation are to be reduced: But this is not a work for this place.

[Page 192]But that which now I advise you to avoid, i [...] the errour of them who look so much at Christs Mediation with God, that they scarce observe his work with man: And the errour of them who look so much at his work on man, that they over­look his Mediation with God: And theirs that so observe h [...]s sacrifice, as to make light of his continual intercession: or that observing both, make light of his doctrine and example: Or that observe these so much as to make light of his sacrifice and in­tercession: Or that extol his doctrine and example, and over­look his giving of the Spirit to all his living members: Or that cannot magnifie any one of these, without depressing or extenuating some other. If Christs Kingdom be not divided, Mat. 12.25. sure Christ himself is not divided, nor his works, 1 Cor. 1.13.

Direct 6. Still distinguish between Christs work of Re­demption, which he hath already wrought on earth, to constitute him our Mediatory Head, and that which he was further to do for us in that Relation; that you may ground your faith on the first as a foundation laid by him, and may seek after the second as that which requireth somewhat from your selves to your own participation.

The first part is commonly called the Impetration, the second the Application (or rather, the Communication) As God did first do himself the work of Creation, and thence result his Relations of our Owner, our Ruler, and our Chief Good (or our Love, or End, or Benefactor;) so Christ first doth the works which make him our Redeemer towards God; and then he is also our Owner, our Ruler, and our communicative Bene­factor, hereupon. And this seemeth intimated by those phrases, Heb. 5.8. & 2.9, 10. where he is said to learn obe­dience by the things which he suffered, that is, as a subj [...]ct ex­ercised obedience, and so learnt to know by experience what obeying is. And that (the Captain of our salvation was made perfect by sufferings, and for suffering death was crowned with glory) because his sufferings did constitute him a perfect Cap­tain or Redeemer in performance; though before he was per­fect in ability. As he that undertaketh to redeem some Turkish gally-slaves by conquering their Navy, is made a perfect Redeemer, or Conquerour, when he hath taken the [Page 193] fleet, though yet the prisoners are in his power, to release them on such terms at seem best to him. And as a man is a perfect Chirurgeon, when (besides his skill) he is furnished with all his instruments or salves (how costly soever) though yet the cure is not done: Or as he that hath ransomed prisoners is a perfect Ransomer, when he hath paid the price, though yet they are not delivered, nor have any actual right them­selves to claim deliverance by. I here mention this, because the building upon that foundation, which is supposed to be alrea­dy laid and finished, and the seeking of the further salvation which yet we have no possession of, nor perhaps any title to, are works so very different, that he that doth not discern the difference, cannot exercise the Christian faith: Because it is to be necessarily exercised by two such different acts, or dif­ferent waies of acting and applying our selves to our Re­deemer.

Direct. 7. Still think of Christs nearness both to the Father and to us; and so of our NEARNESS to God in and by him.

Our distance is the lamentable fruit of our Apostacy; which inferreth, our fears, and estrangedness, and backwardness to draw near to God: It causeth our ignorance of him, and our false conceits of his will and works: it greatly hindereth both love and confidence: whereas the apprehension of our nearness to God will do much to cure all these evils. As it is the mise­ry of the proud, that God looketh on them as afar off, that is, with strangeness, and abhorrence, and disdain, Psal. 138.6. And accordingly they shall be far off from the blessed ones hereafter, Luke 16.23. So it is the happiness of Believers to be nigh to God, in Jesus Christ, who condescended to be nigh to us; which is our preparation to be yet nearer to him for ever, Psal. 148.14. & 34.18. & 145.18. Ephes. 2.13. It giveth the soul more familiar thoughts of God, who seemed before to be at an inaccessible distance; which is part of the boldness of access and confidence mentioned, Ephes. 3.12. & 2.18. Rom. 5.2. Heb. 10.19. We may come boldly to the Throne of grace, Heb. 4.16. And it greatly helpeth us in the work of Love, to think how near God is come to us in Christ, and how near he hath taken the humane nature unto [Page 194] him. When a sinner looketh at God only as in himself, and as he is estranged from the guilty, he is amazed and confound­ed, as if God were quite out of the reach of our love; but when he thinketh how he hath voluntarily come down into our flesh, that he might be man, and be familiar with man, and what a wonderful marriage the Divine Nature hath made with the humane, this wonderfully reconcileth the heart to God, and maketh the thoughts of him more sweet and ac­ceptable. If the life of faith be a dwelling in God, and God in us, and a walking with God, 1 Joh. 3.24. & 4.12, 15, 16. Ephes. 3.17. Gen. 17.1. & 24.40. & 5.22. & 6.9. Heb. 11.5. Then must we perceive our nearness to God: The just apprehension of this nearness in Christs Incarnation and Rela­tion to us, is the chief means to bring us to the nearness of love and heavenly conversation, Col. 3.1, 3, 4.

Direct. 8. Make Christ therefore the Mediation for all your practical thoughts of God.

The thoughts of God will be strange to us through our distance, and terrible through our guilt, if we look not upon him through the prospective of Christs humanity and cross. God out of Christ is a consuming fire to guilty souls. As our acceptance must be through the Beloved, in whom he is well pleased; so our thoughts must be encouraged with the sense of that acceptance; and every thought must be led up to God, and emboldened by the Mediatour, Mat. 3.17. & 17.5. & 12.18. Ephes. 1.6. Heb. 2.9, 10, 12, 13, 17.

Direct. 9. Never come to God in prayer, or any other act of worship, but by the Mediation of the Son; and put all your prayers as into his hand, that he may present them to the Father.

There is no hoping for any thing from God to sinners, but by Christ: and therefore there is no speaking to God but by him: not only in his Name, but also by his Mediation: And this is the exercise of his Priesthood for us, by his heavenly in­tercession, so much spoken of by the Holy Ghost in the Epistle to the Hebrews: Seeing we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the Heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession: Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need, Heb. 4.14, 16.

[Page 195]Direct. 10. Hear every word of Scripture Precept; and Mini­sterial Exhortation (consonant to the Scripture) as sent to us by Christ, and from the Father by him, as the appointed Teacher of the Church.

Hear Christ in his Gospel and his Ministers, and hear God the Father in the Son. Take heed of giving only a slight and ver­bal acknowledgement of the voice of Christ, whilest you re­ally are more taken with the Preachers voice, as if he had a greater share in the Sermon, than Christ hath. The voice in the holy Mount, which Peter witnesseth that he heard, 2 Pet. 1.17. was, This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him, Mat. 17.5. And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people, Acts 3.23. When ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the Word of men, but as it is in truth the Word of God, which worketh effe­ctually in you that believe, 1 Thes. 2.13. The Sheep will follow him, for they know his voice: a stranger they will not follow, John 10.4, 5.

Direct. 11. Take every mercy from God as from the hand of Christ; both as procured by his Cross, and as delivered by his Mediatory Administration.

It is still supposed that the giving of the Son himself by the Father to this office, is excepted as presupposed. But all sub­sequent particular mercies, are both procured for us, and given to us, by the Mediator. Yet is it nevertheless from God the Father, nor doth it evertheless, but the more fully signifie his love. But the state of sinners alloweth them no other way of communication from God, for their benefit and happiness, but by one who is more near and capable to God, who from him may convey all blessings unto them. Blessed be the God and Fa­ther of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spi­ritual blessings in things heavenly in Christ, Ephes. 1.3. He that spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Rom. 8.32. Through the knowledge of him, the Divine Power giveth us all things that pertain to life and godliness, 2 Pet. 1.3. God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son, 1 John 5.10, 11. All things are delivered into his hand, Joh. 13.3. & 17.2. [Page 196] Therefore receive every particular mercy for soul and body, as from the blood, and from the present mediation of Christ, that you may rightly understand it, and have it as sanctified and sweetned by Christ.

Direct. 12. Let Faith take occasion by every sin, to renew your sense of the want of Christ, and to bring you to him, to me­ditate and grant you a renewed pardon.

Therefore entertain not their mistake, who tell men that all sin, past, present, and to come, is fully pardoned at once (whether it be before you were born in Gods decree, or Christs satisfaction, or at the time of your conversion) nor theirs who teach that Christ pardoneth only sins before con­version, but as for all that are committed afterward, he doth prevent the need of pardon, by preventing all guilt and ob­ligation to punishment (except meer temporal chastisement.) The preparation which Christ hath made for our pardon, is in it self sufficient, yea and effectual as to that end which he would have it attain before our believing: But our actual pardon is no such end: Nor can sin be forgiven before it be com­mitted; because it is no sin. Christ never intended to justifie or sanctifie us perfectly at the first (whatsoever many say to the contrary, because they understand not what they say) but to carry on both proportionably and by degrees, that we may have daily use for his daily mediation, and may daily pray, Forgive us our trespasses. There is no guilt on them that are in Christ, so far as they walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit; nor no proper condemnation by sentence or execution at all; because their pardon is renewed by Christ, as they renew their sins of infirmity: but not because he preventeth their need of any further pardon.

Therefore as God made advantage of the sins of the world, for the honouring of his grace in Christ, that grace might abound where sin abounded, Rom. 5.12, 16, 17. So do you make advantage of your renewed sins, for a renewed use of faith in Christ; and let it drive you to him with renewed de­sires and expectations of pardon by his intercession: That Satan may be a loser, and Christ may have more honour by every sin that we commit. Not that we should sin that grace may abound; but that we may make use of abounding grace [Page 197] when we have sinned. It is the true nature and use of Faith and Repentance to draw good out of sin it self, or to make the remembrance of it to be a means of our hatred and morti­fication of it, and of our love and gratitude to our Redeemer: Not that sin it self doth (formally or efficiently) ever do any good: But sin objectively is turned into good: For so sin is no sin; because to remember sin is not sin. When David saith, Psal. 51.3. that his sin was ever before him, he meaneth not only involuntarily to his grief, but voluntarily as a medita­tion useful to his future duty, and to stir him up to all that which afterward he promiseth.

Direct. 13. In all the weaknesses and languishings of the new creature, let Faith look up to Christ for strength.

For God hath put our life into his hand, and he is our root, and hath promised that we shall live because he liveth, John 14.19. Do not think only of using Christ, as you do a friend when you have need of him; or as I do my pen, to write, and lay it down when I have done: But as the branches use the Vine, and as the members use the Head, which they live by; and from which when they are separated, they die and wither, John 15.1, 2, 3, &c. Ephes. 1.22. & 5.27, 30. & 4.4, 5, 12, 15, 16. Christ must even dwell in our hearts by Faith, Ephes. 3.17. that is, 1. Faith must be the means of Christs dwelling in us by his Spirit; and 2. Faith must so ha­bituate the heart to a dependance upon Christ, and to an im­provement of him that objectively he must dwell in our hearts, as our friend doth whom we most dearly love; as that which we cannot chuse but alwaies think on.

Remember therefore that we live in Christ, and that the life which we now live is by the faith of the Son of God, who hath loved us, and given himself for us, Gal. 2.20. And his grace is sufficient for us, and his strength most manifested in our weakness, 2 Cor. 12.9. And that when Satan desireth to sift us, he prayeth for us that our faith may not fail, Luke 22.32. And that our life is hid with Christ in God, even with Christ who is our life, Col. 3.3, 4. That he is the Head, in whom all the members live, by the communication of his appointed liga­ments and joynts, Ephes. 4.14, 15, 16. Therefore when any grace is weak, go to your Head for life and strength. If faith [Page 198] be weak, pray, Lord increase our faith, Luke 17.5. If you are ignorant, pray him to open your understandings, Luk. 24.45. If your hearts grow cold, go to him by faith, till he shed abroad the love of God upon your hearts, Rom. 5.3, 4. For o [...] his fulness it is that we must receive grace for grace, J [...]hn 1.16.

Direct. 14. Let the [...]hief and most diligent work of your faith in Christ be, to inflame your hearts with love to God, as his Good­ness and Love is revealed to us in Christ.

Faith kindling Love, and working by it, is the whole summ of Christianity, of which before.

Direct. 15. Let Faith keep the example of Christ continually before your eyes▪ especially in those parts of it, which he intended for the contradicting and healing of our greatest sins.

Above all others, these things seem purposely and special­ly chosen in the life of Christ, for the condemning and curing of our sins; and therefore are principally to be observed by faith.

1. His wonderful Love to God, to his Elect, and to his ene­mies: expressed in so strange an undertaking, and in his suf­ferings, and in his abundant grace, which must teach us, what fervours of love to God and man, to friends and enemies must dwell and have dominion in us, 1 John 4.10. Rev. 1.5. Rom. 5.8, 10. John 13.34, 35. & 15.13. 1 John 3.14.23.17. & 4.7, 8, 20, 21.

2. His full obedience to his Fathers will, upon the dearest rates or terms: To teach us that no labour or cost should seem too great to us in our obeying the will of God; nor any thing seem to us of so much value, as to be a price great enough to hire us to commit any wilful sin, Rom. 5.19. Heb. 5 8. Phil. 2 8. 1 Sam. 15.22. 2 Cor. 10.5, 6. Heb. 5 9. John 14.15. & 15.10. 1 John 2.3. & 3.22. & 5.2, 3. Rev. 22.14.

3. His wonderful contempt of all the Riches, and Greatness of the world, and all the pleasures of the flesh, and all the honour which is of man, which he shewed in his taking the form of a servant, and making himself of no reputation, and living a mean inferiour life: He came not to be served (or ministred to) but to serve: Not to live in state with abundance of attendants; with provisions for every turn and use, which pride, curiosity, [Page 199] or carnal imagination, taketh for a conveniency, or a decency, no nor a necessity: But he came to be as a servant unto others; not as despising his liberty, but as exercising his voluntary hu­mility and love: He that was Lord of all for our sakes, became poor to make us rich: He lived in lowliness and meekness: He submitted to the greatest scorn of sinners; and even to the false accusations and imputations of most odious sin in it self, Phil. 2.6, 7, 8, 9. Heb. 12.1, 2, 3. Matth. 26.55, 60, 61, 63, 66. & 27, 28, 29, 30, 31. Matth. 11.29, 30. & 20.28. 2 Cor. 8.9. which was to teach us to see the vanity of the wealth and ho­nours of the world, and to despise the Idol of the ungodly, and to lay that under our feet, which is nearest to their heart; and to be able without impatiency, to be scorned, spit upon, buffeted and abused; to be poor, and of no reputation among men; and though not to enslave our selves to any (but if we can be free to use it rather, 1 Cor. 7.21.) yet to be the loving and voluntary servants of as many as we can to do them good; and not to desire to have a great retinue, and to be such vo­luntary burdens to the world, as to be served by many, while we serve none; as if we (who are taught by Christ and Na­ture, that it is more honourable to give than to receive, and to be helpful unto many, than to need the help of many) would declare our impotency to be so great, that (when every poor man can serve himself and others) we are (and had rather be) so indigent, as not to live and help our selves, without the help of many servants: yea scarce to undress and dress our selves, or to do any thing which another can do for us, Only such persons are willing to eat, and drink, and sleep for themselves, and to play, and laugh, and to sin for themselves; but as to any thing that's good and usefull, without their present sensitive delight, they are not only unserviceable to the world, but would live like the lame or dead, that must be moved and carryed about by others. Among Christs servants, he that is the chief, must be the chief in service, even as a servant unto all, Luke 22.26. Matth. 23.11. And all by love must serve one another, Gal. 5.13.

4. His submission unto death, and conquest of the natural love of life, for a greater good, even the pleasing of God, and the Crown of Glory, and the good of many in their salvation: To [Page 200] teach us that not only the pleasures of life, but life it self must be willingly laid down, when any of these three ends require it, Matth. 20.28. John 10 11. & 15.13. 1 John 3.16. Joh. 10.17. Acts 20.24. Matth. 10.39. & 16.25. Mark 14.26. Phil. 2.30. 1 John 3.16. Rev. 12.11.

Direct. 16. Let Faith behold Christ in his relation to his uni­versal Church, and not unto your selves alone.

1. Because else you overlook his most honourable relation: It is more his glory to be the Churches Head and Saviour, than yours, Ephes. 5.23. & 1.21, 22. And 2. You else overlook his chief design and work; which is for the perfecting and saving of his body, Ephes. 1.23. Col. 1.24.18. And 3. Else you overlook the chief part of your own duty, and of your conformity to Christ, which is in loving and edifying the body, Ephes. 4.12, 16, Whereas if you see Christ as the undivided and impartial Head of all Saints, you will see also all Saints as dear to him, and as united in him; and you will have commu­nion by faith with them in him; and you will love them all, and pray for all, and desire a part in the prayers of all (instead of carping at their different indifferent manner, and forms, and words of prayer, and running away from them, to shew that you disown them.) And you will have a tender care of the unity, and honour, and prosperity of the Church, and regard the welfare of particular Brethren as your own, 1 Cor. 12. through­out, John 13.14, 34. & 15.12, 17. Rom. 13.8. stooping to the lowest service to one another, if it were the washing of the feet; and in honour preferring one another, Rom. 12.10. Not judging nor despising, nor persecuting, but receiving and forbear­ing one another, Rom. 14. throughout, & 15.1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8. Gal. 5.13. & 6.1, 2, 3. Ephes. 4.2, 32. Col. 3.13. Edifying, ex­horting, and seeking the saving of one other, 1 Thes. 5.11. & 4.9, 18. Heb. 3.13. & 10.24. Not speaking evil one of another, James 4.11. Much less biting and devouring one another, Gal. 5.15. But having compassion one of another, as those that are members one of another, 1 Pet. 3.8. Rom. 12.5.

Direct. 17. Make all your opposition to the temptations of Satan, the world and the flesh, by the exercise of Faith in Christ.

From him you must have your weapons, skill and strength. [Page 201] It is the great work of Faith, to militate under him, as the Captain of our salvation; and by vertue of his precepts, ex­ample and Spirit to overcome as he hath overcome. Of which more anon.

Direct. 18. Death also must be entertained and conquered by Faith in Christ.

We must see it as already conquered by him, and entertain it as the passage to him: This also will be after spoken to.

Direct. 19. Faith must believe in Christ as our Judge, to give us our final Justification, and sentence us to endless life, Rom. 14.9, 10. John 5.22, 24, 25.

Direct. 20. Lastly, Faith must see Christ as preparing us a place in Heaven, and possessing it for us, and ready to receive us to himself. But all this I only name, because it will fall in in the last Chapters.

CHAP. III. Directions to live by Faith on the Holy Ghost.

THis is not the least part of the life of Faith. If the Spirit give us Faith it self, then Faith hath certainly its proper work to do towards that Spirit which giveth it: And if the Spirit be the worker of all other grace, and Faith be the means on our part, then Faith hath somewhat to do with the Holy Ghost herein. The best way that I can take in helping you to believe aright in the Holy Ghost, will be by opening the true sense of this great Article of our Faith to you, that by under­standing the matter aright, you may know what you are here both to do, and to expect.

Direct. 1. The name of the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God, is used in Scripture for the third person in the Trinity as constitu­tive, and as the third perfective principle of operation; and most usually as operating ad extra, by communication. And therefore many Fathers, and ancient Divines and Schoolmen, say. That the Holy Ghost, the third person and principle is THE LOVE OF GOD; which as it is Gods Love of himself, is a constitutive [Page 202] person or principle in the Trinity; but as it is pregnant and pro­ductive, it is the third principle of operation ad extra; and so that it is taken usually, for the pregnant, operative Love of God.

And thus they suppose that the Divine POWER, INTEL­LECT and WILL (or Wisdom and Love) are the three con­stitutive persons in themselves, and the three principles of opera­tion ad extra. To this purpose writeth Origen, Ambrose and Richardus the Schoolman; but plainlier and fullier Damascene and Bernard, and Edmundus Cantuariensis, and Potho Prumensis cited by me in my Reasons of the Christian Religion, page 372, 373, 374. Augustine only putteth Memory for Power, by which yet Campanella thinketh he meant Power, (Metaphys. par. 2. l. 6. c. 12. art. 4. pag. 88.) what Caesarius and many other say de triplici lumine, I pass by: The Lux Radii & Lumen, are thought a fit similitude by many. But the Motion, Light and Heat, is a plain impression of the Trinity on that noble ele­ment of fire. That holy man Ephraem Syrus in his Testament useth the phrase (in his adjuration of his Disciples, and the protestation of his own stedfastness in the doctrine of the Tri­nity against all Heresies) [By that three-named fire of the most holy Trinity] (or Divine Majesty as another Copy hath it) [And by that infinite and sole, one Power of God; and by those three sub­sistences of the intelligible (or intellectual) fire.] And as it is a most great and certain truth, that this sacred Trinity of Di­vine Principles, have made their impress communicatively up­on the frame of nature, and most evidently on the noblest parts, which are in excellency nearest their Creatour; so it is evident that in the creatures LOVE is the pregnant communicative principle: So is Natural Love in Generation and friendly Love in benefiting others; and spiritual Love, in propagating know­ledge and grace, for the winning of souls.

What I said of the Scripture use of the word is found in 1 John 5.5, 6, 7, 8. Heb. 9.14. 1 Cor. 12.2, 3, 4. Rom. 1.4. John 1.32, 33. & 3.5, 34. & 6.63. Gen. 1.2. Job 33.4. 2 Cor. 3.17, 18. Luke 4.18. Micah 3.8. Isa. 11.2. & 61.1.

Direct. 2. The more excellent measure of the Spirit given by Christ after his ascension to the Gospel Church, is to be distinguish­ed from that which was before communicated; and this Spirit [Page 203] of Christ is it which our Christian Faith hath special respect to.

Without the Spirit of God, as the perfective principle, nature would not have been nature, Gen. 1.2. All things would not have been good, and very good, but by the communication of goodness: And without somewhat of that Spirit, there would be no Moral Goodness in any of mankind: And without some special operations of that Spirit, the godly before Christs com­ing in the flesh, would not have been godly, nor in any present capacity of glory: Therefore there was some gift of the Spi­rit before.

But yet there was an eminent gift of the Spirit proper to the Gospel times, which the former ages did not know; which is so much above the former gift, that it is sufficient to prove the Verity of Christ.

For 1. There was use for the speciall attestation of the Father by way of Power, by Miracles, and his Resurrection to own his Son. 2. The Wisdom and Word of God incarnate, must needs bring a special measure of Wisdom to his Disciples; and therefore give a greater measure of the Spirit for illumina­tion. 3. The design of Redemption being the revelation of the Love of God, and the recovery of our Love to him, there must needs be a special measure of the Spirit of Love shed abroad upon our hearts. And in all these three respects, the Spirit was accordingly communicated.

Quest. Was it not the Spirit of Christ which was in the Prophets, and in all the godly before Christs coming?

Answ. The Spirit of Christ is either that measure of the Spirit, which was given after the first Covenant of Grace, as it differeth from the state of man in innocency, and from the state of man in his Apostacy and condemnation: And thus it was the Spirit of Christ which was then given, so far as it was the Covenant and Grace of Christ, by which men were then saved. But there was a fuller Covenant to be made after his coming, and a fuller measure of Grace to be given, and a full attestation of God for the establishment and promulgation of this Covenant: And accordingly a fuller and special gift of the Spirit. And this is called The Spirit of Christ, in the pe­culiar Gospel sense.

Quest. How is it said, Joh. 7.37. that the Holy Ghost was [Page 202] [...] [Page 203] [...] [Page 202] [...] [Page 203] [...] [Page 204] not yet given, because Christ was not yet glorified?

Answ. It is meant of this special measure of the Spirit, which was to be Christs special witness and agent in the world. They had before that measure of true grace, which was necessary to the salvation of Believers, before the Incarna­tion and Resurrection of Christ, (which was the Spirit of Christ, as the Light before Sun-rising is the Light of the Sun;) and if they died in that case, they would have been saved: But they had not the signal Spirit of the Gospel, settled and resident with them, but only some little taste of it for casting out De­vils, and for Cures, at that time when Christ sent them by a special mission to preach, and gave them a sudden special gift, Luke 9.1. & 10.17.

Quest. How is it said of those baptized Believers, Acts 19. that they had not heard that there was a Holy Ghost?

Answ. It is meant of this eminent Gospel gift of the Holy Ghost, as he is the great Witness and Agent of Christ; and not of all the graces of the Holy Ghost?

Quest. Was it before necessary to have an explicite belief in the Holy Ghost as the third person in the blessed Trinity, and as the third principle of the divine operations, and were the faithful then in Covenant with him?

Answ. Distinguish between the Person and the Name: No Name is necessary to salvation; else none could be saved but men of one language: To believe in the Holy Ghost under that Name, was not necessary to salvation (nor yet is) for he that speaketh and heareth of him in Greek, or Latine, or Sclavonian, &c. may be saved, though he never learnt the English tongue: But to believe in the Energetical, or opera­tive, or communicative Love of God, was alwaies necessary to salvation, considered in the thing, and not only in the Name: As it was to believe in his Power and his Wisdom: And to be­lieve which is the first, and which the second, and which the third, is not yet of absolute necessity to salvation; while they are coequal and coessential; and it was necessary to the Jews to believe, that this Love of God did operate, and was com­municated to the faithful, not upon the terms of innocency, ac­cording to the first Covenant; but to sinners that deserved death, and upon terms of mercy, through the Covenant of [Page 205] Grace, which was made with lapsed man in order to his re­covery, through a Redeemer.

Direct. 3. All that is efficiently necessary to our salvation, in or of God, is not objectively necessary to be known. And such a measure of the knowledge of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is necessary to save us, as is necessary objectively to sanctifie us under the efficiency of the said Spirit: And all the rest is not of such ne­cessity. And therefore as under the Gospel, the Spirit is Christs great Witness, as well as Agent in the world, it is more neces­sary now to believe distinctly in the Holy Ghost in that relation, than it was before Christs coming in the flesh.

There is a great deal of the Divine Perfection, which causeth our salvation, unknown to us: As the Sun will shine upon us, and the wind will blow, and the rain will fall, and the earth will bear fruits, whether we know it or not; so our knowledge of it, is not at all necessary to any Divine Effi­ciency as such: The Spirit by which we are regenerate, is like the wind that bloweth, whose sound we hear, but know not whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth (no nor what it is) John 3.6, 7, 8, 9. But all those things which are necessary to work objectively and morally on the soul, do work in esse cognito; and the knowledge of them is as necessary as the ope­ration is. It was of absolute necessity to the salvation of all, be­fore Christs coming, and among the Gentiles as well as the Jews, that the Spirit should sanctifie them to God, by possessing them with a predominant Love of him in his Goodness; and that this Spirit proceed from the Son or Wisdom of God: But it was not so necessary to them as it is now to us, to have a distinct knowledge of the personality and operations of the Spirit, and of the Son. And though now it is certain that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man cometh to the Father, but by the Son, Joh. 14.6. Yet that knowledge of him, which is necessary to them that hear the Gospel, is not all necessary to them that never hear it; though the same efficiency on his part be necessary: And so it is about the knowledge of the Holy Ghost▪ without which Christ cannot be sufficiently now known, and rightly believed in.

Direct. 4. The presence or operation of the Spirit of God is [Page 206] casually the spiritual Life of man, in his holiness: As there is no natural Being but by influence from his Being; so no Life but by communication from his Life, and no Light but from his Light, and no Love or Goodness, but from his Spirit of Love.

It is therefore a vain conceit of them, that think man in innocency had not the Spirit of God: They that say, his na­tural rectitude was instead of the Spirit, do but say, and unsay: for his natural rectitude was the effect of the influx or com­munication of Gods Spirit: And he could have no moral rectitude without it; as there can be no effect without the chief cause: The nature of Love and Holiness cannot subsist, but in dependance on the Love and Holiness of God: And those Papists who talk of mans state first in pure naturals, and an af­ter donation of the Spirit, must mean by pure naturals, man in his meer essentials, not really, but notionally by abstraction di­stinguished, from the same man at the same instant as a Saint; or else they speak unsoundly: For God made man in moral dispositive goodness at the first; and the same Love or Spirit, which did first make him so, was necessary after to continue him so. It was never his nature to be a prime good, or to be good independently without the influence of the prime good, Isa. 44.3. Ezek. 36.27. Job 26.13. Psal. 51.10, 12. & 143.10. Prov. 20.27. Mal. 2.15. John 3.5, 6. & 6.63. & 7.39. Rom. 8.1, 5, 6▪ 9, 13, 16. 1 Cor. 6.11. & 2.11, 12. & 6.17. & 12.11, 13. & 15.45. 2 Cor. 3.3, 17. Ephes. 2.18, 22. & 3.16. & 5.9. Col. 1.8. Jude 19.

Direct. 5. The Spirit of God, and the Holiness of the soul may be lost, without the destruction of our essence, or species of humane nature▪ and may be restored without making us specifically other things.

That influence of the Spirit which giveth us the faculty of a Rational Appetite or Will, inclined to good as good, cannot cease, but our humanity or Being would cease: But that in­fluence of the Spirit, which causeth our adherence to God by Love, may cease, without the cessation of our Beings; as our health may be lost, while our life continueth, Psal. 51.10. 1 Thes. 5.19.

Direct. 6. The greatest mercy in this world, is the gift of the Spirit, and the greatest misery is to be deprived of the Spirit; [Page 207] and both these are done to man by God, as a Governour, by way of reward and punishment oft-times: Therefore the greatest re­ward to be observed in this world, is the increase of the Spirit up­on us, and the greatest punishment in this world is the denying or with-holding of the Spirit.

It is therefore a great part of a Christians wisdom and work, to observe the accesses and assistances of the Spirit, and its withdrawings; and to take more notice to God in his thankfulness of the gift of the Spirit, than of all other bene­fits in this world: And to lament more the retiring or with­holding of Gods Spirit, than all the calamities in the world: And to fear this more as a punishment of his sin: Lest God should say as Psal. 81.11, 12. But my people would not hearken to my voice, Israel would none of me: so I gave them up to their own hearts lusts, to walk in their own counsels: And we must obey God through the motive of this promise and reward, Prov. 1.23. Turn you at my reproof; behold, I will powre out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words to you, Joh. 7.39 He spake this of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive, Luke 11.13. God will give his holy Spirit to them that ask it. And we have great cause when we have sinned, to pray with David, Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and stablish me with thy free Spirit, Psal. 51.10, 11, 12. And as the sin to be feared is the grieving of the holy Spirit, Ephes 4.30. so the judgement to be feared, is accordingly the withdrawing of it, Isaiah 63.10, 11. But they rebelled and vexed his holy Spirit; therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and fought against them. Then he remembred the daies of old, Moses and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up—Where is he that put his holy Spirit within them? The great thing to be dreaded, is, lest [those that were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost—should fall away, and be no more renewed by repen­tance—Heb. 6.4 6.

Direct. 7. Therefore executive pardon or justification cannot possibly be any perfecter than sanctification is: Because no sin is fur­ther [Page 208] forgiven, or the person justified executively, than the punish­ment is taken off: and the privation of the Spirit, being the great punishment, the giving of it, is the great executive remission in this life.

But of this more in the Chapter of Justification follow­ing.

Direct. 8. The three great operations in m [...]n, which each of the three persons in the Trinity eminently perform, are, Natura, Medicina, salus; the first by the Creator, the second by the Re­deemer, the third by the Sanctifier.

Commonly it is called Nature, Grace and Glory: But ei­ther the terms [Grace and Glory] must be plainlier expound­ed, or that distribution is not sound: If by Grace be meant all the extrinsick medicinal preparations made by Christ; and if by [Glory] be meant only the Holiness of the soul, the sense is good: But in common use those words are otherwise un­derstood. Sanctification is usually ascribed to the Holy Ghost: but Glorification in Heaven, is the perfective effect of all the three persons in our state of perfect union with God, Rom. 15.16. Titus 3.5, 6. But yet in the work of Sanctification it self, the Trinity undividedly concur: And so in the sanctifying and raising the Church, the Apostle distinctly calleth the act of the Father, by the name of Operation; and the work of the Son by the name of Administration, and the part of the Holy Ghost by the name of Gifts, 1 Cor. 12.4, 5, 6. And in respect to these sanctifying Operations of God, ad extra, the same Apostle distributeth them thus, 2 Cor. 13.14. The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all: Where by God, seemeth to be meant all the persons in the Trinity in their perfection; but especially the Father as the Fountain of Love, and as expressing Love by the Son and the Spirit; and by the Grace of Christ, is meant all that gracious provision he hath made for mans sal­vation, and the Relative application of it, by his intercession, together with his mission of the holy Spirit. And by the Com­munion of the Spirit is meant that actual communication of Life, Light and Love to the soul it self, which is eminently ascribed to the Spirit.

Direct. 9. The Spirit it self is given to true Believers, and not only grace from the Spirit.

[Page 217]Not that the Essence of God, or the person of the Holy Ghost, is capable of being contained in any place, or removing to or from a place, by local motion: But 1. The Holy Ghost is given to us Relatively, as our Covenanting Sanctifier in the Baptismal Covenant: We have a Covenant-right to him, that is, to his operations. 2. And the Spirit it self is present as the immediate Operator; not so immediate as to be without Means, but so immediately as to be no distant Agent, but by proximate attingency, not only ratione virtutis, but also ratione suppositi, performeth his operations: If you say, so he is present every where; I answer, but he is not a present Operator every where alike. We are called the Temples of the Holy Ghost, both because he buildeth us up for so holy a use, and because he also dwelleth in us, 1 Cor. 6.19.

Direct. 10. By the sanctification commonly ascribed to the Holy Ghost, is meant that recovery of the soul to God, from whom it is fallen, which consisteth in our primitive Holiness, or devoted­ness to God, but summarily in the Love of God, as God.

Direct. 11. And Faith in Christ is oft placed as before it, not as if the Spirit were no cause of Faith, nor as if Faith were no part of our saving special grace; nor as if any had saving Faith before they had Love to God; but because as Christ is the Media­tour and way to the Father; so Faith in him is but a mediate grace to bring us up to the Love of God, which is the final per­fective grace: And because, though they are inseparably compli­cate, yet some acts of Faith go before our special Love to God in or­der of nature, though some others follow after it, or go with it.

It is a question which seemeth very difficult to many, whe­ther Love to God, or Faith in Christ must go first (whether in time or order of nature.) For if we say that Faith in Christ must go first, then it seemeth that we take not Faith or Christ as a Means to bring us to God as our End; for our End is Deus amatus, God as beloved; and to make God our End, and to love him, are inseparable. We first love the good which appeareth to us, and then we chuse and use the Means to attain it; and in so doing we make that our End which we did love; so that it is the first loved for it self, and then made our End. Now if Christ be not used as a Means to God, or as our Ʋltimate End, then he is not believed in, or used as Christ, and therefore it is [Page 218] no true Faith: And that which hath not the true End, is not the true act or grace in question, nor can that be any special grace at all, which hath not God for his Vltimate End: On both which accounts, it can be no true Faith: The intentio finis, being before the choice or use of means, though the asse­cution be after.

And yet on the other side, if God be loved as our End, be­fore we believe in Christ as the means, then we are sanctified before we believe. And then faith in Christ is not the Means of our first special Love to God. And the consequents on both parts are intollerable; and how are they to be avoided?

Consider here 1. You must distinguish betwixt the assent­ing or knowing act of faith, and the consenting or chusing act of it in the will. 2. And between Christ as he is a Means of Gods chusing and using, and as he is a means of our chusing and using. And so I answer the case in these Proposi­tions.

1. The knowledge of a Deity is supposed before the know­ledge of Christ as a Mediator: For no man can believe that he is a Teacher sent of God, nor a Mediator between us and God, nor a Sacrifice to appease Gods wrath, who doth not believe first that there is a God.

2. In this belief or knowledge of God, is contained the knowledge of his Essential Power, Wisdom and Goodness; and that he is our Creator and Governour, and that we have broken his Laws, and that we are obnoxious to his Justice, and deserve punishment for our sins. All this is to be known before we believe in Christ as the Mediatour.

3. Yet where Christianity is the Religion of the Country, it is Christ himself by his Word and Ministers, who teacheth us these things concerning God; But it is not Christ as a Means chosen or used by us, to bring us to the Love of God; (for no man can chuse or use a Means for an End not yet known or in­tended:) but it is Christ as a Means chosen and used by God, to bring home sinners to himself: (even as his dying for us on the Cross was.)

4. The soul that knoweth all this concerning God, cannot yet love him savingly, both because he wanteth the Spirit to effect it, and because a holy sin-hating God, engaged in Justice [Page 219] to damn the sinner, is not such an object, as a guilty soul can love: but it must be a loving and reconciled God that is willing to forgive.

5. When Christ by his Word and Ministers hath taught a sinner both what God is in himself, and what he is to us, and what we have deserved, and what our case is; and then hath taught him, what he himself is as to his person and his of­fice, and what he hath done to reconcile us to God, and how far God is reconciled hereupon, and what a common conditional pardoning Covenant, he hath made and offereth to all, and what he will be and do to those that do come in, the belief of all this serio [...]sly (by the assenting act of the understanding) is the first part of saving Faith, going in nature before both the Love of God, and the consenting act of the Will to the Re­deemer. (And yet perhaps the same acts of faith in an un­effectual superficial measure, may go long before this in many.)

6. In this assent our belief in God, and in the Mediatour, are conjunct in time and nature; they being Relatives here as the objects of our faith. It is not possible to believe in Christ as the Mediatour, who hath propitiated God to us, before we be­lieve that God is propitiated by the Mediatour; nor vice versâ: Indeed there is a difference in order of dignity and desirable­ness; God as propitiated being represented to us as the End, and the Propitiator, but as the Means: But as to the order of our apprehension or believing, there can be no difference at all, no more than in the order of knowing the Father and the Son, the Husband and Wife, the King and subjects: These Relatives are simul naturá & tempore.

7. This assenting act of Faith, by which at once we believe Christ to be the Propitiator, and God to be propitiated by him, is not the belief that my sins are actually pardoned, and my soul actually reconciled and justified; but it includeth the belief of the history of Christs satisfaction, and of the common con­ditional Covenant of Promise and Offer from God, viz. that God is so far reconciled by the Mediatour, as that he will for­give, and justifie, and glorifie all that Repent and Believe, that is, that return to God by faith in Christ; and offereth this mercy to all, and intreateth them to accept it, and will [Page 220] condemn none of them but those that finally reject i [...]. [...] things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the Ministry of reconciliation, to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto hims [...]lf, not imputing their trespasses to them; and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation: Now then we are Embassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christs stead, be ye reconciled unto God, 2 Cor. 5.18, 19, 20. So that it is at once the belief of the Father as reconciled, and the Son as the Reconcil [...]r, and that according to the tenour of the common conditional Covenant, which is the first assenting part of saving Faith.

8. This same Covenant which revealeth God as thus far reconciled by Christ, doth offer him to be further actualy and fully reconciled, and to justifie and glorifie us, that is, to forgive, accept, and love us perfectly for ever. And it offereth us Christ to be our actual Head and Mediatour, to procure and give us all this mercy, by communicating the benefits which he hath purchased according to his Covenant-terms: so that as before the Father and the Son were revealed to our assent to­gether; so here they are offered to the Will together.

9. In this offer, God is offered as the End, and Christ as Mediatour is offered as the Means; therefore the act of the Will to God, which is here required, is simple Love of compla­cency (with subjection, which is a consent to obey) but the act of the Will to Christ, is called choice or consent, though there be in it Amor Medii, the Love of that Means for its aptitude as to the end.

10. This Love of God as the End and Consent to Christ as the Means, being not acts of the Intellect, but of the Will, can­not be the first acts of Faith, but do presuppose the first assent­ing acts.

11. But the assenting act of Faith, doth cause these acts of the Will to God and the Mediatour. Because we believe the Truth and Goodness, we Consent and Love.

12. Both these acts of the Will are caused by assent at one time, without the least distance.

13. But here is a difference in order of Nature, because we will God as the End, and for himself; and therefore first in [Page 221] the natural order of intention; and we will Christ as the Means for that End, and therefore but secondarily. Though in the Intellects apprehension and assent ▪ there be no such difference; because in the Truth, which is the Ʋnderstandings object, there is no d [...]fference, but only in the Goodness which is the Wills object: And as Goodness it self is apprehended by the Ʋnder­standing, ut verè bonum, there is only an objective d [...]fference of dignity.)

14. Therefore as the Gospel revelation cometh to us in a way of offer, promise and covenant, so our Faith must act in a way of Acceptance & Covenanting with God and the Redeemer and Sanctifier. And the Sacrament of Baptism is the so­lemnizing of this Covenant on both parts. And till our hearts do consent to the Baptismal Covenant of Grace, we are not Be­lievers in a saving sense.

15. There is no distance of time between the Assent of Faith, and the first true degree of Love and Consent: (Though an un­sound Assent may go long before; yet sound Assent doth imme­diately produce Love and Consent;) and though a clear and full resolved degree of consent may be some time afterward: And therefore the soul may not at the first degree so well under­stand it self, as to be ready for an open covenanting)

16. This being the true order of the work of Faith and Love, the case now lyeth plain before those that can observe things distinctly, and take not up with confused knowledge. (And no other are fit to meddle with such cases) viz that the knowing or assenting acts of faith in God as reconciled (so far) and in Christ as the reconciler, so far as to give out the offer or Co­venant of Grace, are both at once, and both go before the acts of the will, as the cause before the immediate effect; and that this assent first in order of nature (but at once in time) causeth the will to love God as our End, and to consent to, and chuse Christ in heart-covenant as the means, and so in our covenant we give up our selves to both: And that this Repentance and Love to God, which are both one work called conversion, of turning from the creature to God, the one as denominated from the terminus à quo, viz. (Repentance) the other from the ter­minus ad quem (viz. Love) are twisted at once with true saving Faith. And that Christ as the means used by God is our [Page 222] first Teacher, and bringeth us to assent: And then that as­sent bringeth us to take God for our End, and Christ for the Means of our actual Justification and Glory; so that Christ is not by Faith chosen and used by us under the notion of a M [...]dia­tour or Means to our first act of love and consent; but is a Means to that of the Fathers chusing only; but is in that first consent chosen by us for the standing means of our Justification and Glo­ry, and of all our following exercise and increase of love to God, and our sanctification; so that it is only the assenting act of faith, and not the electing act, which is the efficient cause of o [...] very first act of Love to God, and of our first degree of sanctifica­tion; and thus it is that Faith is called the seed and mother grace: But it is not that saving Faith which is our Christiani­ty, and the condition of Justification and of Glory, till it come up to a covenant-consent of heart, and take in the foresaid acts of Repentance and Love to God as our God and ultimate end.

The observation of many written mistakes about the order of the work of grace, and the ill and contentious consequents that have followed them, hath made me think that this true and accurate decision of this case, is not unuseful or unne­cessary.

Direct. 12. The Holy Ghost so far concurred with the eternal Word, in our Redemption, that he was the perfecting Operator, in the Conception, the Holiness, the Miracles, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Of his Conception it is said, Mat. 1.20. For that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And vers. 18. She was found with child of the Holy Ghost. And of his holy perfection, as it is said, Luke 2.52. that he increased in wisdom, and sta­ture, and favour with God and men, (meaning those positive perfections of his humane nature (which were to grow up with nature it self, and not the supply of any culpable or pri­vative defects) so when he was baptized, the Holy Ghost de­scended in a bodily shape like a Dove upon him, Luke 3.22. And Luke 4.1. it is said, Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, &c. Isa. 11.2. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; the Spi­rit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge, and the fear of the Lord, and shall make him quick of understanding in the fear of the Lord, &c. Joh. 3.34. [Page 223] For God giveth not the Spirit by measure to him, Acts 1.2. After that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments to the Apostles whom he had chosen, Rom. 1.4. And was declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness (that is, the Holy Spirit) by the resurrection from the dead, Mat. 12.28. If I cast out Devils by the Spirit of God, &c. Luke 4.18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because he hath anoint­ed me to preach the Gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal, &c. Isa. 61.1.

In all this you see how great the work of the Holy Spirit was upon Christ himself, to fit his humane nature for the work of our redemption, and actuate him in it; though it was the Word only which was made flesh, and dwelt among us, John 1.3.

Direct. 13. Christ was thus filled with the Spirit, to be the Head or quickening Spirit to his body: and accordingly to fit each member for its peculiar office: And therefore the Spirit now given is called the Spirit of Christ, as communicated by him.

Rom. 8.9. If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of hi [...], Joh. 7.37. This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe should receive, viz. it is the water of life, which Christ will give them. 1 Cor. 15.45. The last Adam was made a quick­ening Spirit, Gal. 4.6. God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, whereby we cry Abba Father, Phil. 1.19. Through the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. See also Ephes. 1.22, 23. & 3.17, 18, 19. & 2.18, 22. & 4.3, 12, 16. 1 Cor. 12, &c.

Direct. 14. The greatest extraordinary measure of the Spirit, was given by him to his Apostles, and the Primitive Christians, to be the seal of his own truth and power, and to fit them to found the first Churches, and to convince unbelievers, and to deliver his will on record in the Scriptures, infallibly to the Church for future times.

It would be tedious to cite the proofs of this, they are so numerous; take but a few, Matth. 28.20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you (that's the commission) Mark 16.17. And these signs shall follow them that believe, &c. Joh. 20.22. Receive ye the Holy Ghost, &c. 14.26. But the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things [Page 224] to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you, Joh. 16.13. When the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all Truth, &c. Heb. 2.4. God also bearing them witness, both with signs, and w [...]nders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.

Direct. 15. And as such gifts of the Spirit was given to the Apostles as their [...]ffice required; so th [...]se sanctifying graces, or that spiritual Life, Light and Love, are given by it to all true Chri­stians, which their calling and salvation doth require.

John 3.5, 6. Except a man be born of Water, and of the Spi­rit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. That which is born of the fl [...]sh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit, Heb. 12.14. Without holiness none shall see God, Rom. 8.8, 9, 10, 14. They that are in the flesh cannot please God: But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. See also v. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 7, &c. Titus 3.5, 6, 7. He saved us by the washing of Regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life. But the testimonies of th [...]s truth are more numerous than I may recite.

Direct. 16. By all this it appeareth that the Holy Ghost is both Christs great witness objectively in the world, by which it is that he is owned of God, and proved to be true; and also his Advocate or great Agent in the Church, both to indite the Scriptures, and to sanctifie souls.

So that no man can be a Christian indeed, without these three: 1. The objective witness of the Spirit to the truth of Christ. 2. The Gospel taught by the Spirit in the Apostles. 3. And the quickening, illuminating and sanctifying work of the Spirit upon their souls.

Direct. 17. It is therefore in these respects that we are baptiz [...]d into the Name of the Holy Ghost, as well as of the Father and the Son, it being his work to make us thus both Believers and Saints; and his perfective work of our real Sanctification, being as necessa­ry to us as our Redemption or Creation, Matth. 28.19, 2 [...]. Heb. 6.1, 2, 4, 5, 6.

Direct. 18. Therefore as every Christian must look upon himself, [Page 225] as being in special Covenant with the Holy Ghost, so be must un­derstand distinctly what are the benefits, and what are the condi­tions, and what are the duties of that part of his Covenant.

The special Benefits are the Life, Light and Love before men­tioned, by the quickening illumination and sanctification of the Spirit; not as in the first Act or Seed; for so they are presup­posed in that Faith and Repentance which is the Condition. But as in the following acts and habits, and increase of both, unto perfection, Acts 2.38. Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; for the promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call. See Acts 26.18. Ephes. 1.18, 19. Titus 3.5, 6, 7.

The special condition on our parts, is our consent to the whole Covenant of Grace▪ viz. To give up our selves to God as our Re­conciled God and Father in Christ, and to Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and to the holy Spirit as to his Agent, and our San­ctifier. There needeth no other proof of this, than actual Baptism as celebrated in the Church from Christs daies till now. And the institution of it, Mat. 28.19. with 1 John 5.7, 8, 9. & 1 Pet. 3.21. with John 3.5.

The special Duties afterward to be performed, have their rewards as aforesaid, and the neglect of them their penalties; and therefore have the nature of a Condition as of those parti­cular rewards or benefits.

Direct. 19. The Duties which our Covenant with the Holy Ghost doth bind us to, are 1. Faithfully to endeavour by the power and help which he giveth us, to continue our consent to all the fore­said Covenant: And 2. To obey his further motions, for the work of Obedience and Love: 3. And to use Christs appointed means with which his Spirit worketh: And 4. To forbear those wilful sins which grieve the Spirit.

John 15.4. Abide in me, and I in you. v. 7. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. v. 9. Continue in my love, Col. 1.23. If ye continue in the Faith, &c. Jude 21. Keep your selves in the Love of God. Heb. 10.25, 26. Not forsaking the assembling of your selves together, &c. For if we sin wilfully, &c. of how much [Page 226] sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who hath done de­spight to the Spi [...]it of grace, v. 29. Heb. 6.4, 5, 6. Ephes. 4 3 [...]. Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, 1 Thes. 5.19. Quench not the Spirit.

Direct. 20. By this it is plain, that the Spirit worketh not on man as a dead thing, which hath no principle of activity in it self; nor as on a naturally necessitated Agent, which hath no self-determining faculty of will; but as on a living free self-determin­ing Agent, which hath duty of its own to perform for the attaining of the end desired.

Those therefore that upon the pretence of the Spirits doing all, and our doing nothing without him, will lye idle, and not do their parts with him, and say that they wait for the motions of the Spirit, and that our endeavours will not further the end, do abuse the Spirit, and contradict themselves; seeing the Spirits work is to stir us up to endeavour, which when we refuse to do, we disobey and strive against the Spirit.

Direct. 21. Though sometimes the Spirit work so efficaciously, as certainly to cause the volition, or other effect which it moveth to; yet sometimes it so moveth, as procureth not the effect, when yet it gave man all the power and help which was necessary to the effect; because that man failed of that endeavour of his own, which should have concurred to the effect, and which he was able without more help to have performed.

That there is such effectual grace, Acts 9. and many Scri­ptures with our great experience tell us. That there is such meer necessary uneffectual grace possible, and sometime in being, (which some call sufficient grace) is undeniable in the case of Adam; who sinned not for want of necessary grace, without which he could not do otherwise. And to deny this, blotteth out all Christianity and Religion at one dash.

By all which it appeareth, that the work of the Spirit is such on mans will, as that sometimes the effect is suspended on our concurrence; so that though the Spirit be the total cause of its own proper effect, and of the act of man, in its own place and kind of action; yet not simply a total cause of mans act or volition; but mans concurrence may be further re­quired to it, and may fail.

Direct. 22. Satan transformeth himself oft into an Angel of [Page 227] Light, to deceive men by pretending to be the Spirit of God: There­fore the spirits must be tryed, and not every spirit trusted, 2 Cor. 11.14, 15. Mat. 24.4, 5, 11, 24. 1 John 3.7. Ephes. 4.14. Revel. 10.3 8. 2 Thes. 3.2. 1 John 4.1, 3, 6.

Direct. 23. The way of trying the spirits, is to try all their uncertain suggestions, by the Rule of the certain Truths already revealed in Nature, and in the holy Scriptures: And to try them by the Scriptures, is but to try the spirits, by the Spirit: the doubtfull spirit, by the undoubted Spirit, which indited and sealed the Scriptures more fully, than can be expected in any after reve­lation, 1 Thes. 1.21. Isa. 8.16, 20. 2 Pet. 1.19. John 5.39. Acts 17.11. The Spirit of God is never contrary to it self: Therefore nothing can be from that Spirit, which is contrary to the Scriptures which the Spirit indited.

Direct. 24. When you would have an increase of the Spirit, go to Christ for it, by renewed acts of that same Faith, by which at first you obtained the Spirit, Gal. 3.3, 4. Gal. 4.6.

Faith in Christ doth two waies help us to the Spirit: 1. As it is that Condition upon which he hath promised it, to whom it belongeth to give us the Spirit. 2. As it is that act of the soul which is fitted in the nature of it, to the work of the Spirit: That is, as it is the serious contemplation of the in­finite Goodness and Love of God, most brightly shining to us in the face of the Redeemer: and as it is a serious contempla­tion of that heavenly glory procured by Christ, which is the fullest expression of the Love of God: and so is fittest to kindle that Love to God in the soul, which is the work of the Spirit. These are joyned, Rom. 5.1, 2, 5, 6. Being justified by Faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ▪ By whom also we have access by Faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoyce in hope of the Glory of God —The Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us. For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly—God commended his Love to us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us—So Ephes. 3.17, 18, 19. Let Christ dwell in your hearts by Faith, and it would help you to be rooted and grounded in Love, and to com­prehend with all Saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the Love of Christ which passeth [Page 228] knowledge, and so to be filled with the fulness of God. If Faith be the way to see Gods Love, and Faith be the way thereby to raise our Love to God, then Faith in Christ must needs be the continual instrument of the Spirit, or that means which we must still use for the increase of the Spirit.

Direct. 25. The works of the Spirit, next to the excitation of Life, Light and Love, do consist in the subduing of the lusts of the flesh, and of the power of all the objects of sense which serve it. Therefore be sure that you faithfully serve the Spirit in this morti­fying work, and that you take not part with the flesh against it.

A grat part of our duty towards the Holy Ghost, doth con­sist in this joyning with him, and obeying him in his strivings against the flesh: And therefore it is that so many and earnest exhortations are used with us, to live after the Spirit, and not after the flesh; and to mortifie the lusts of the flesh, and the deeds of it by the Spirit; especially in Rom. 8.1. to the 16. and in Gal. 5. throughout. & Rom. 6. & 7. & Col. 3. Ephes. 5.

Direct. 26. Take not every striving for a victory, n [...]r every desire of grace, to be true grace it self; unless grace be desired as it is the lovely Image of God, and pleasing to him, and be desired before all earthly things; and unless you not only strive against, but conquer the predominant love of every sin.

There are many uneffectual desires and strivings which con­sist with the dominion of sin. Many a fornicator, and glutton, and drunkard, hath earnest wishes that he could leave his sin, when he thinketh of the shame and punishment; and hath a great deal of striving against it before he yieldeth: But yet he liveth in it still, because his love to it is the predominant part in him, Rom. 6.2. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Christ, were baptized into his death— We are buryed with him by Baptism — Knowing this, that our old man is cru­cified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin: For he that is dead, is freed from sin. —V. 12. Let not sin reign therefore in your mor­tal bodies, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. — V. 13. Neither yield your members servants of unrighteousness unto sin— For sin shall not have dominion over you—Know ye [Page 229] not that to whom you yield your selves servants to obey, his ser­vants ye are to whom ye obey? whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness, Rom. 8.13. If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortifie the deeds of the body, ye shall live. See Gal. 5.16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. They that are Christs, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts. V. 24. and 2 Tim. 2.19. The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth who are his. And let every one that nameth the Name of Christ, depart from iniquity.

Object. But it is said, Gal. 5.17. The flesh lusteth against the Spirit—so that ye cannot do the things which ye would.

Answ. That is, every true Christian would fain be perfect in Holiness and Obedience, but cannot, because of the lustings of the flesh: But it doth not say or mean, that any true Chri­stian would live without wilful gross, or reigning sin, and can­not; that he would live without murder, adultery, theft, or any sin which is more loved than hated, but cannot. We cannot do all that we would; but it doth not follow that we can do nothing which we would, or cannot sincerely obey the Gospel.

Object. Paul saith, Rom. 7.15, 18. To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not: and what I would, that I do not.

Answ. The same answer will serve. To will perfect Obedi­ence to all Gods Laws, was present with Paul; but not to do it. He would be free from every infirmity, but could not: (And therefore could not be justified by the Law of Works.) But he never saith, that he would obey sincerely, and could not; or that he would live without heinous sin, and could not. In­deed in his flesh he saith, there dwelleth no good thing; but that denyeth not his spiritual power (who so often proposeth himself as an example to be imitated by those that he wrote to.) Thousands are deceived about their state, by taking every un­ [...]ffectual desire and wish, and every striving before they sin, to be a mark of saving grace: misunderstanding Mr. Perkins, and some others with him, who make a desire of grace, to be the grace it self, and a combat [...] against the flesh, to be a sign of the renovation by the Spirit; whereas they mean only, such a [Page 230] desire of grace as grace for the Love of God, as is more powerful than any contrary desires; and such a combating as conquereth gross (or mortal) sin, and striveth against infirmities. And of this, this saying is very true.

Direct. 27. Strive with your hearts when the Spirit is strive­ing with you: and take the season of its sp [...]cial help; and make one gale of grace advantageous to another.

This is a great point of Christian wisdom: The help of the Spirit is not at our command: take it while you have it. Use wind and tide before they cease. God will not be a servant to our slothfulness and negligence. As he that will not come to the Church at the hour when the Minister of Christ is there, but say, I will come another time, will have none of his teaching there; so he that will not take the Spirits time, but say, I am not now at leisure, may be left without its help, and taught by sad experience to know, that it is fitter for man to wait on God, than for God to wait on man. More may be done and got at one hour, than at another, when we have no such help and motions.

Direct. 28. Be much in the contemplation of the heavenly Glo­ry; for there are the highest objects, and the greatest demonstrations of Gods Love and Goodness; and therefore in such thoughts we are most likely to meet with the Spirit with whose nature and design they are so agreeable.

We fall in with the heavenly Spirit in his own way, when we set our selves to be most heavenly. Heavenly thoughts are the work which he would set you on; and the Love of God is the thing which he works you to thereby: And nothing will so powerfully inflame the soul with the Love of God, as to think that we shall live in his Love and Glory for ever more. Set your selves therefore to this work, and it will be a sign that the Spirit sets you on it; and you may be sure that he will not be behind with you, in a work which both he and you must do. To this sense the Apostle bids us, pray in the Holy Ghost, Jude 20. Because though prayer must be from the Spirit, which is not in our power; yet when we set our selves to pray, it is both a sign that the Spirit exciteth, and a certain proof that he will not be behind with us, but will af­ford us his assistance.

[Page 231]Direct. 29. Conve [...]se with those who have most of the Spirit, as far as you can attain it.

And that is not those that are most for revelations or visions, or that pretend to extraordinary illuminations, or that set the Spirit against the Word; or that boast most of the Spirit, in contempt of others: But those who are most humble, most holy, and most heavenly; who love God most, and hate sin most. Converse with such as have most of the Spirit (of love and heavenliness) is the way to make you more spiritual; as converse with learned men is the way to learning: For the Spirit giveth his graces in the use of suitable means, as well as he doth his common gifts, Jude 20, 21. Heb. 10.24, 25. & 3.13. Ephes. 4.12, 15, 16.

Direct. 30. Lastly, The right ordering of the body it self is a help to our spirituality. A clean and a chearful body is a fitter instrument for the Spirit to make use of, than one that is op­prest with crudities, or dejected with heavy melancholy. Therefore especially avoid two extreams: 1. The satis­fying the lusts of the flesh, and clogging the body with excess of meat or drink, or corrupting the fantasie with foolish pleasures: 2. And the addicting your selves to di­stracting melancholy, or to any disconsolate or discontented thoughts.

And from hence you may both take notice of the sense of all that fasting and abstinence which God commandeth us, and of the true measure of it, viz. as it either fitteth or unfitteth the body for our duty, and for our ready obedience to the Spirit of God. 1 Cor. 9.27. I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away. Rom. 13.12, 13, 14. Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunk [...]nness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, for lust. Pampering the body, and addicting our selves to the pleasing of it, turneth a man from spirituality into bruitish­ness; and savouring or minding the things of the fl [...]sh, de­stroyeth both the relish and minding of the things of the Spirit, Rom. 8.5, 6, 7, 8. And a sowre discontented melancholy tem­per, [Page 232] is contrary to that alacrity requisite in Gods service; and to those which the Comforter is to work in us.

So much for living by Faith on the Holy Ghost.

CHAP. IV. Directions how to exercise Faith upon Gods Commandments, for Duty.

IT being presupposed that your Faith is settled about the truth of the Scriptures in general (by the means here be­fore and elsewhere more at large described) you are next to learn how to exercise the Life of Faith about the Precepts of God in particular; and herein take these helps.

Direct. 1. Observe well how suitable Gods Commands are to reason, and humanity, and natural revelation it self; and so how Nature and Scripture do fully agree, in all the precepts for primitive holiness.

This is the cause why Divines have thought it so useful to read Heathen Moralists themselves, that in a Cicero, a Plutarch, a Seneca, an Antonius, an Epictetus, &c. they might see what testimony nature it self yieldeth, against all ungodliness and un­righteousness of men. See Rom. 19, 20, &c. But of this I have been larger in my Reasons of the Christian Religion.

Direct. 2. Observe well how suitable all Gods Commandments are to your own good, and how necessary to your own feli­city.

All that God commandeth you, is, 1. To be active, and use the faculties of your souls, in opposition to Idleness: 2. To use them rightly, and on the highest objects, and not to debase them by preferring vanity and sordid things, nor to pervert them by ill doing. And are not both these suitable to your natural perfection, and necessary to your good?

1. If there were one Law made, that men should lie or stand still all the day, with their eyes shut, and their ears stopped, and their mouths closed, and that they should not stir, nor see, nor hear, nor taste; and another Law that man should use [Page 233] their eyes, and ears, and limbs, &c. which of these were more suitable to humanity, and more easie for a [...]ound man to obey (though the first might best suit with the lame, and blind, and sick) and why should not the goodness of Gods Law be dis­cerned, which requireth men to use the higher faculties, the Reason, and Elective, and Executive Powers, which God hath given them? If men should make a Law, that no one should use his Reason to get Learning, or for his Trade or business in the world, you would think that it were an institution of a Kingdom of Bedlams, or a herd of beasts: And should not you then be required to use your Reason faithfully and dili­gently in greater things?

2. And if one Law were made, that every man that tra­veleth shall stumble and wallow in the dirt, and wander up and down out of his way; and that every man that eateth and drinketh, should feed on dirt, and ditch-water, or poyson, &c. And another Law, that all men should keep their right way, and live soberly, and feed healthfully; which of these would fit a wise man best, and be easiest to obey? or if one Law were made, that all Scholars shall learn nothing but lies and errours; and another, that they shall learn nothing but truth and wisdom, which of them would be more easie and suitable to humanity? (Though the first might be more pleasing to some fools.) Why then should not the goodness of Gods Laws be confessed, who doth but forbid men learning the most pernicious errours, and wandering in the maze of folly, and wallowing in the dirt of sensuality, and feeding on the dung and poyson of sin? Is the love of a harlot, or of glut­tony, drunkennenss▪ rioting, or gaming, more suitable to hu­manity, than the Love of God, and Heaven, and Holiness, of Wis­dom, Temperance, and doing good? To a Swine or a Bedlam it may be more suitable; but not to one that liveth like a man. What did God ever forbid you, that was not hurtful to you? And what did he ever command you, which was not for your benefit? either for your present delight, or for your future happiness; for the healing of your diseases, or the pre­venting them?

And if Reason can discern the goodness of Gods Laws to us, Faith can acknowledge it with more advantage. For we can [Page 234] see by Faith, the goodness of their Author, and the goodness of the reward and end, more fully than by reason only: And a Be­liever hath found by sad experience, how bad and bitter the waies of sin are; and by sweet experience, how good and pleasant the waies of God are. He hath found that it is the way to peace, and hope, and joy, to deny his lusts, and obey his Maker and Redeemer: And it is the way to terrour and a troubled soul, and a broken heart, to sin and to gratifie his sen­suality, Prov. 3.17. All her waies are pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Psal. 119.165. Great peace have they which love thy Law, and nothing can offend them. Psal. 37 37. Mark the upright man, and behold the just, for the end of that man is peace. Rom. 14.17. Righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, are the Kingdom of God. Grace, Mercy and Peace are Gods entertainment of the faithful soul, Titus 1.4. 1 Tim. 1.2. & 2 Tim. 1.2. 1 Cor. 1.3, &c. But there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God, Isa. 57.21. & 48.22. For the way of peace they have not known. They have made them [...] paths; whosoever goeth therein, shall not know peace, Isa. 54.8.

Direct. 3. Mark well how those Commands of God, which seem not necessary for your selves, are plainly necessary for the good of others, and for the publick welfare, which God must provide for as well as yours.

He is not your God only, but the God of all the world. And the welfare of many, especially of Kingdoms and Societies, is more to be regarded than the welfare (much more than the humouring or pleasing) of any one. You may think that if you had leave to be fornicators, and adulterers, to be riotous, and examples of evil, to be covetous, and to deceive, and steal, and lye, that it would do you no harm: But suppose it were so, yet a little wit may serve to shew you, how pernicious it would be to others, and to societies. And Faith can tell a true Believer, what is like to be the end: And that sin is a reproach to any people, Prov. 14.34.

You may think perhaps that if you were excused from ma­ny duties of Charity and Justice, in Ministry, Magistracy, or a more private state, it would be no harm to your selves. But suppose it were so, must not others be regarded? If God should regard but one, why should it fall to your lot rather than [Page 235] to anothers? And why should any others be bound to use Ju­stice or Charity to you any more than you to them? There is no member of the body politick or ecclesiastick, which will not receive more good to it self, by the Laws of Communion, if truly practised, than it can do to others. For you are but one who are bound to be charitable and do good to others, and that but according to your own ability: But it may be hundreds or thousands who may be all bound to do good to you. You have the vital influences, and assistances of all the parts: you have the prayers of all the Christians in the world.

Suppose that the Laws were made to secure your selves of your estate and lives; but to leave the estates and lives of your children to the will of any one that hath a will to wrong them; would you be content with such kind of Laws as these? And why should not others good be secured, as well as your posterities? 1 Cor. 12.12, 14, 20, &c. Rom. 12.4 5 & 16.2. 1 Cor. 10.17, 33. Ephes. 4.3, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16.

Di [...]ect. 4. The chief work of Faith is to make the obedience of Gods Commands to be sweet and pleasant to us, by seeing still that intrinsecal goodness, and the extrinsecal motives, and the eter­nal rewards, which may cause the soul to imbrace them with the dearest love.

They are much mistaken, who know no use for Faith but to comfort them, and save them from Hell; the great work of Faith is to bring up the soul to Obedience, Thankfulness and Love. Therefore i [...] hath to do with the Precepts, as well as with the Promises; and with the Promises to sweeten the Pre­cepts to us. Believers are not called to the obedience of slaves; nor to be acted only by the fear of pain; but to the obedience of redeemed ones and Sons; that Faith may cause them to obey in Love; and the essential act of Love is complacency: Therefore it is the work of Faith, to cause us to obey God with pleasure and delight. Forced motives endure not long: They are accompanied with unwillingness and weariness, which at last will sit down, when the fears do by distance, delay or dulness, abate. Love is our Nature; but Fear is only a ser­vant to watch for us while we do the work of Love. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the Sons of God (and there­fore [Page 236] will obey as Sons.) For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the Spirit of Adop­tion▪ whereby we cry Abba Father, Rom. 8.14, 15. Christ suf­f [...]red death to overcome the Devil that had the power of death, and to deliver us from the fears of it, which was the bondage of our lives, Heb. 2.14, 15. That we might serve God without f [...]ar, in holiness and righteousness, all the daies of our lives, Luke 1.74. There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast­eth out fear, because fear hath torment, 1 John 4.18. The meaning is, not only that the Love of God casteth out the fear of men, and persecution; but also that it maketh the fear of tormenting punishment, to become unnecessary to drive us to obedience, so far as the Love of God and of obedience doth prevail: He that loveth more to feast, than to fare hardly, to be rich, than to be poor, (and so to be obedient and holy, than to be unholy) need not (so far) any fear of punishment to drive him to it. Even as the Love of the world, as adverse to the Love of God, is overcome by Faith, 1 John 2.15. and yet the Love of the world as Gods creature, and as representing him, and sanctified to his service, is but subordinate to the Love of the Father; so also Fear as adverse to Love, or as disjunct from it, is cast out by it: But as it subserveth it in watching against the enemies of Love, and is truly filial, it is a fruit of Faith, and the beginning of wisdom.

Employ Faith therefore day by day, in looking into the Love of God in Christ, and the Kingdom of Glory, the reward of obedience, and the beauties of holiness, and the merciful con­ditions of filial obedience (when we have a pardon of our infirmities, and are accepted in Christ) that so we may feel that Christs yoak is easie, and his burden light, and his Command­ments are not grievous, Mat. 11.28, 29. 1 John 5.3. And when Faith hath taught you to hunger and thirst after righte­ousness, and to delight to do the will of God, Love which is the end of Faith will satisfie you, Mat. 5.6. Psal. 40.8.

Direct. 5. Take special notice how suitable a holy Law is to the nature of a most holy God; and how much he is honoured in that demonstration of his holiness; and how odious a thing it would be to wish, that the most holy one would have made for us an unholy Law.

[Page 237]Would you draw the picture of your friend like an Ape or a Monkey, or a Monster? Or would you have the King pictured like a fool? Or would you have his Laws written like the words of a Bedlam, or the Laws of Barbarians or Can­nibals? How much more intollerable were it to wish, that an unholy or unrighteous Law, should be the product and impress of the most great, most wise and holy God? This thought should make every Believer exceedingly in love with the Holiness of Gods Commands, because they are the Ap­pearance or Image of his Holiness, and necessary to his honour, as he is the Governour of the world, Rom. 7.6, 7, 12. When Paul confesseth that he could no more perfectly keep the Law without sin, than a fettered prisoner can walk at liberty (for that is the sense of the text) yet doth he give the Law this honour, that it is holy, just and good, and therefore he loveth it, and fain would perfectly obey it, if he could. See Psal. 19.7, 12. &c. 119.72. & 37.31. & 1.2. Isa. 5.24, &c.

Direct. 6. Remember that both Promises, and Threatnings, and Gods Mercies, and his Judgements, are appointed means to bring us to obey the Precepts; and therefore obedience, which is their end, is highly to be esteemed.

It seemeth a great difficulty whether the Precept be for [...] Promise, or the Promise for the Precept; which is the End, and which is the Means; whether obedience be a means to attain the reward, or the reward be a means to procure obedience: And the answer is as pleasant to our consideration, viz. that as the works of the Trinity of persons, and of Gods Power, and Wis­dom, and Goodness ad extra are undivided; so are the effects of the one in Gods Laws, the effects also of the other; and they are harmoniously and inseparably conjunct: so that we must obey the Command, that we may attain the blessing of the Pro­mise, and be assured of it: And we must believe the Promise, and the Reward, that we may be moved to obey the Precept: And when all is done, we find that all comes to one; and in the end, the duty and the reward will be the same, when duty cometh to perfection: And that the reward which is promised is our perfection in that Holiness, and Love, and Conformity to the Will of God, in which God doth take that complacency which is our ultimate end.

[Page 238]But if you look at the matter of obedience rather than the form, it sometime consisteth in troublesome things, as suffer­ing persecution, &c. which is less desirable than the promised reward, which is but pleasing God, and obeying him, in a more desirable and grateful matter, even in perfect Love for ever: And therefore the more desirable must be considered to draw us to the less desirable; and that consideration of the re­ward, (and not the possessing of it) is the means to our obedience, not for the sake of the ungrateful matter, but of the form and end, Mat. 5.10, 11, 12, & 6.1, 4. & 10.41, 42. 1 Cor. 9.17, 18. 1 Tim. 5.18. Heb. 11.6. & 10.35. & 11.26. Col. 3.24.

Direct. 7. Remember how much Christ himself hath conde­scended, to be made a Means or Mediatour to procure our obedience to God.

And surely that must be an excellent end, which Christ himself became a means to! He came to save his people from their sins, Mat. 1.21. And to call sinners to repentance, Luke 5.32. Mat. 9.13. Is Christ the Minister of sin? God forbid, Gal. 2.17. For this end was he revealed, that he might destroy the works of the Devil, 1 John 3.8. And he died to redeem and purifie to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, Titus 2.14. Christ came as much to kill sin, as to pardon it: Judge therefore of the worth of obedience by the nobleness and dignity of the means.

Direct. 8. Remember still that the same Law which governeth us, must judge us: Let Faith see the sure and close connexion between obedience and judgement.

If Faith do but speak aloud to a sluggish soul [Thou must be judged by the same word which commandeth thee to watch and pray, and to walk in holiness with God] it will much awaken the soul to duty: And if Faith do but say aloud to a tempted sinner [The Judge is at the door, and thou must hear of this again, and review sin when it will have another countenance] it will do much to kill the force of the tempta­tion, Rom. 14.12. Phil. 4.17. Heb. 13.17. Mat. 12.36. 2 Pet. 3.11, 12.

Direct. 9. Be sure that your heart-subjection to God be fixed, that you may live under the sense of his Authority.

For as Gods Veracity is the formal object of all Faith; so [Page 239] Gods Authority is the formal object of all obedience. And there­fore the deep [...]enewed apprehensions of his Majesty, his Wis­dom, and absolute Authority, will make us perceive that all things and persons must give place to him, and he to none; and will be a constant spring within us, to move the will to a rea­dy obedience in particular cases, Mal. 1.6. Matth. 23.8, 10. Jer. 5.22.

Direct. 10. Keep in memory some plain texts of Scripture for every particular duty, and against every particular sin; which I would willingly here write down, but that the book swelleth too big, and it is so plentifully done already in most Cate­chisms, where they confirm all such commands with the texts of Scripture cited to that use: As you may see in the As­semblies Catechism, with the proofs, and more briefly in Mr. Tobias Ellis his English School, where a text or more for every Article of Faith, and every duty, is recited for the use of children. Gods Word which is the object and Rule of Faith, should be before [...] eye of Faith in this great work of causing our obedience.

Direct. 11. Vnderstand well the different nature and use of Scripture examples; how some of them have the nature of a di­vine Revelation and a Law; and others are only motives to obe­dience and others of them are evils to be avoided by us.

1. To Moses and the Apostles of Christ, a special Commission was granted, to one to settle the Tabernacle and its worship, and to the other, to settle the orders of the Gospel Church. Christ sent them to teach all things, whatsoever he commanded, Mat. 28.20. And he promised to be with them, and to send them the Spirit to lead them into all truth, and to bring all things to their remembrance. Accordingly they did obey this Commis­sion, and settled the Gospel Churches according to the will of Christ; and this many years before any of the New Testa­ment was written. Therefore these acts of theirs have the na­ture and use of a divine Revelation and a Law. For if they were fallible in this, Christ must break the foresaid Pro­mise.

2. But all the Acts of the Apostles which were either about indifferent things, or which were about forecommanded duties, and not in the execution of the foresaid Commission, for which [Page 240] they had the promise of infallibility, have no such force or in­terpretation. For 1. Their holy actions of obedience to for­mer Laws, are not properly Laws to us, but motives to obey Gods Laws: And this is the common use of all other good examples of the Saints in Scripture: Their examples are to be tryed by the Law, and followed as secondary copies or motives, and not as the Law it self, 1 Cor. 11.1. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Heb. 6.12. Be followers of them, who through faith and patience do inherit the promise. 1 Cor. 4.16. Phil. 3.17. 1 Thes. 1.6. & 2.16. & 3.7, 9. Heb. 13.7.

2. And the evil examples even of Apostles are to be avoided, as all other evil examples recorded in the Scriptures are; such as Peters denial of his Lord, and the Disciples all forsaking him, and Peters sinful separation and dissimulation, and Bar­nabas's with him, Gal. [...]. And the falling out of Paul and Bar­nabas, &c.

3. And the history of indifferent actions, or those which were the performance but of a temporary duty, are instructing to us, but not examples which we must imitate. It is no di­vine Faith which forgeth an object or rule to it self. What­soever example we will prove to be obligatory to us to imi­tate, we must either prove, 1. That it was an execution of Gods own commission, which had a promise of infallible guid­ance: Or 2, That it was done according to some former Law of God, which is common to them and us. (As the first must be the revealing of some duty extended to this age, as well as that.)

Direct. 12. Faith must make great use of Scripture examples, both for motive and comfort, when we find their case to be the same with ours.

We cannot conclude that we must imitate them in extra­ordinary circumstances; nor can we conclude that God will give every extraordinary mercy to us, which he gave to them (as that he will make all Kings as he did David, or all Apostles, or raise all as he did L [...]zarus now, &c.) nor that every Be­liever shall have the same outward things, or shall have just the same degrees of grace, &c. But we may conclude that we shall have all Gods promises fulfilled to us, as they had to them; and shall have all that is suitable to our condition. As [Page 241] David was pardoned upon repentance, so may others: I con­fessed, and thou forgavest: For this shall every one that is godly pray to thee— Psal. 32.5, 6. Hath God pardoned a Ma­nasseh, a Peter, a Paul, &c. upon repentance? so is he ready to do to us. Hath he helped the distressed? hath he heard and pittied, even the weak in faith? so we may hope he will do by us, Isa. 38.10, 11. Psal. 116.3. Acts 27.20. Jonah 2.4. We have the same God, the same Christ, the same Promise, if we have the same Faith, and pray with the same Spirit, Rom. 8.26. Heb. 4 15. Though we may not have just the same case, or the same manner of deliverance. Therefore it is a mercy that the Scripture is written historically: And there­fore we should remember such particular examples as suit our own case.

CHAP. V. Directions how to live by Faith upon Gods Promises.

THis part of the work of Faith is the more noble, because the eminent part of the Gospel is the Promises, or Covenant of Grace; and it is the more necessary, because our lapsed mi­serable state hath made the Promises so necessary to our use: The helps to be used herein are these:

Direct. 1. Consider that every Promise of God, is the expression of his immutable will and counsel.

It is a great dispute among the Schoolmen, whether God be properly obliged to us by his Promises: When the word [obli­gation] it self is but a metaphor, which must be cast away or explained, before the question can be answered: God cannot be bound as man is, who transferreth a propriety to another from himself: or maketh himself a proper debter in point of communicative Justice; or may be sued at Law, and made to perform against his will. But it is a higher obligation than all this which lyeth upon God. His Power, Wisdom and Goodness, which are himself, do constitute his Veracity: And his very Nature is immutable, and just; and therefore his Nature and Being, is the infallible cause of the fulfilling of his Promises: [Page 242] He freely made them; but he necessarily performeth them: And therefore the Apostle saith, that God that cannot lye hath promised eternal life, before the world began; which is either [promised according to his counsel which he had before the world began] or [from the beginning of the world] Titus 1.2. Or as the word also signifieth many ages ago. And Heb. 6.17, 18. Wherefore God willing more abundantly to shew to the heirs of Promise, the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lye, we might have a strong consolation, who have fl [...]d for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an Anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast—And therefore when the Apostle meaneth, that Christ will not be unfaithful to us, his phrase is, He cannot deny himself, 2 Tim. 2.13. As if his very Nature and Being consisted more in his truth and fidelity, than any mortal mans can do.

Direct. 2. Vnderstand the Nature and Reasons of Fidelity among men, viz. 1. To make them conformable to God: And 2. To maintain all Justice, Order and Virtue in the world. And when you have pondered these two, you will see that it is im­possible for God to be unfaithful: For 1. If it be a vice in the Copy, what would it be in the Original! Nay, would not falshood and perfidiousness become our perfection, to make us like God? 2. And if all the world would be like a company of enemies, Bedlams, bruits, or worse, if it were not for the remnants of fidelity, it is impossible that the Nature or Will of God, should be the pattern or original of so great evil.

Direct. 3. Consider what a foundation of his Promises God hath laid in Jesus Christ, and what a seal his blood and resurrection is unto them.

When it hath cost Christ so dear to procure them, certainly God will not break them. A Promise ratified in the blood of the Son of God, called the blood of the everlasting Covenant, Heb. 13.20. and by his rising from the dead, can never be broken. If the Law given by Moses, was firm, and a jot or tittle should not pass away till all were fulfilled, much more the word and testament of the Mediatour of a better Cove­nant, 2 Cor. 1.20. All the Promises in him are Yea and Amen; that is, they are asserted or made in him, and they are ratified, [Page 243] and shall be fulfilled in him. Heb. 8.6. He hath obtained a more excellent Ministry, by how much also he is the Mediatour of a bet­ter Covenant, which was established on better Promises. And those that are better, cannot be less sure. It is the sure mercies of David, that are given us, by a Promise which is sure to all the s [...]ed, Acts 13.34. Isa. 55.3. Rom. 4.16.

Direct. 4. Consider well that it is Gods own interest to fulfil his Promises; for he attaineth not that glory of his Love and Grace in the perfection of his people till it be done, which he designed in the making of them.

And certainly God will not fail himself and his own interest. The happiness will be ours, but it will be his everlasting plea­sure to see his creatures in their perfection. If he was so plea­sed after the Creation, to see them all good, that he appointed a Sabbath of Rest, to celebrate the commemoration of it; how much more will it please him to see all restored by Jesus Christ, and brought up to that perfection which Adam was but in the way to when he sinned and fell short of the Glory of God. He will not miss of his own design, nor lose the everlasting com­placency of his love.

Direct. 5. Consider how great stress God hath laid upon the be­lief of his Promises, and of how great use he hath made them in the world.

If the intimation of another world and reward which we find in Nature; and the Promise of it in Scriptures, were out of the world, or were not believed, and so men had nothing but temporal motives to rule their hearts and lives by, O what an odious thing would man be? and what a Hell would the world be? I have elsewhere shewed that the Government of the world is mainly steered by the hopes and fears of another life, and could not be otherwise, unless man be turned into far worse than a beast. And certainly those Promises cannot be false, which God hath laid so great a stress on, and the belief of which is of so great moment. For the wise, and holy, and powerful God, neither needeth a lye, nor can use it to so great a work.

Direct. 6. Take notice how agreeable Gods Promises are to the Nature both of God and man.

It is not only Gods Precepts that have a congruence to na­tural [Page 244] Reason, but his Promises also. It is agreeable to the Na­ture of Infinite Goodness to do good: And yet we see that he doth not do to all alike. He maketh not every creature an Angel, nor a man: How then shall we discern what he in­tendeth to do by his creatures, but by their several natures: The nature of every thing is fitted to its use. Seeing therefore God hath given man a nature capable of knowing, loving and enjoying him, we have reason to think he gave it not in vain. And we have reason to think that nature may be brought up to its own perfection; and that he never intended to imploy man all his daies on earth, in seeking an end which cannot be attained. And yet we see that some do unfit themselves for this end, by turning from it, and following vanity: and that God requireth every man as a free Agent, to use his guidance and help aright, for his own preparation to felicity. Therefore reason may tell us, that those who are so prepared by the nearest capacity, and have a love to God, and a heavenly mind, shall enjoy the Glory which they are fitted for. And it helpeth much our belief of Gods Promise, to find that Reason thus discerneth the equity of it: Yea to find that a Cicero, a Seneca, a Socrates, a Plato, &c. expected much the like feli­city to the just, which the Scripture promiseth.

Direct. 7. Be sure to understand Gods Promises aright, that you expect not that which he never promised, and take not pre­sumption to be Faith.

Many do make promises to themselves by misunderstand­ing, and look that God should fulfil them: and if any of them be not fulfilled, they are ready to suspect the truth of God. And thus men become false Prophets to themselves and others, and speak words in the Name of the Lord, which he hath ne­ver spoken, and incur much of the guilt, which God oft chargeth on false Prophets, and such as add to the Word of God. It is no small fault to father an untruth on God, and to call that his Promise which he never made.

Direct. 8. Think not that God promiseth you all that you desire or think you want, in bodily things.

It is not our own desires which he hath made the measure of his outward gifts; no nor of our own Opinion of our Necessity neither: else most men would have nothing but riches, and [Page 245] health, and love, and respect from men; and few would have any want, or pain, or suffering. But it is so much as is good 1. To the common ends of Government, and the Societies with which we live. 2. And to our souls, which God doth promise to his own. And his Wisdom, and not their partial conceits, shall be the Judge. Our Father knoweth what we need, and therefore we must cast our care on him, and take not too particular nor anxious thoughts for our selves, Mat. 6.24. to the end, 1 Pet. 5 7.

Direct. 9. Think not that God promiseth you all that you will ask; no not that which he commandeth you to ask; unless it agree with his promising will, as well as with his commanding will.

That promise of Christ, Ask and ye shall receive, &c. And whatsoever you ask the Father in my Name, according to his will, he will give it you, are often misunderstood: and there is some d [...]fficulty in understanding what Will of God is here meant: If it be his Decreeing Will, that is secret, and the promise giveth us no sure consolation: If it be meant of his Promising Will, what use is this general promise for, if we must have a particu­lar promise also for all that we can expect? If it be meant of his Commanding Will, the event notoriously gainsayeth it: For it is most certain, that since the Church hath long prayed for the conversion of the Infidel world, and the reforming of the corrupted Churches, &c. it is not yet done: And it is all Christians duty, to pray for Kings, and all in Authority; and to ask that wisdom and grace for them which God doth sel­dom give them. And all Parents who are bound to pray for grace for their children, do not speed according to their prayers.

Object. That is because that prayers for other men, suppose others to concur in the qualifying conditions as well as our selves: But the promise is meant only of whatsoever we ask for our selves as he commandeth, or for others who are prepared as he requireth. Answ. 1. If so, then the promise is not only made to our pray­ing as commanded. 2. It cannot be thought that our prayers for Infidels, who must have preparing grace before they can be prepared, should be thus suspended in their preparation of themselves. 3. It maybe a duty to pray for many things for our selves too, which yet we shall not particularly receive: [Page 246] As a Minister may pray for greater abilities for his work, &c.

Object. We pray not as commanded for any such things, if we pray not conditionally for them. Answ. But still the difficulty is, What is the condition to be inserted? whether it be, If God will? Or, If it be for our good? Or, If it be for the universal good of the world? If it were the last, then we might be sure of the sal­vation of all men, when we ask it; and the second cannot be the condition when we pray for others: and if it be the first, then it telleth us that the commanding Will of God is not it which is principally meant in the promise.

In this difficulty we must conclude, that the text respecteth Gods Will comprehensively in all these three forementioned respects; but primarily his promising Will in matters which fall under promise, and his decreeing Will in things which he hath thought meet to make no promise of: and then secondarily, his commanding Will to us; but this extendeth not only to prayer it self, but also to the manner of prayer, and to our conjunct and subsequent endeavours. And so this meeteth and closeth with the former Will of God: because we do not pray according to his commanding Will, unless we do it with due re­spect to his promising and decreeing Will. And so it is, as i [...] it were said [Of all those things which God hath promised or de­creed, whatsoever you ask in my Name, in a manner agreeable to his command and do s [...]cond your prayers with faithful endeavours; you shall obtain it; because neither his decrees or promises are nakedly, or meerly to give such a thing; but complicately to give it in this way of asking.]

And as to the Objections in the beginning, I answer, 1. Where only Gods decreeing Will is the measure of the mat­ter to be granted, the text intendeth not to us a particular as­surance of the thing; but the comfort that we and our prayers are accepted, and they shall be granted if it be not such a thing, as God in his wisdom and eternal counsel, hath secretly deter­mined not to do. As if you pray for the conversion of the Kingdom of China, of Japon, of Indostan, of Tartary, &c.

And 2. Where Gods Promise hath given us securi [...]y of the thing in particular; yet this general promise, and our prayer, are neither of them in vain. For 1. The general promise [Page 247] doth both confirm our Faith in general, which is a help to us in each particular case; and also it directeth us to Christ as the means, in whose name we are to ask all things of the Father; and assureth us, that it is for his sake that God doth fulfil those particular promises to us. 2. And prayer in his Name, is the condition, way or means of the fulfilling them.

It is a very common errour among many praying persons, to think that if they can but prove it their duty to ask such a thing, this promise telleth them, that they shall have it: But you see there is more necessary to the understanding of it than so.

Direct. 10. Think not that God prom [...]seth you all that you do believe that you shall receive, when you ask it; though it be with never so confident an expectation.

This is a more common errour than the former: Many think that if the thing be but lawful which they pray for, much more if it be their duty to pray for it, then a particular belief that they shall receive it, is the condition of the promise, and therefore that they shall certainly receive it. As if they pray for the recovery of one that is sick, or for the conversion of one that is unconverted, and can but be­lieve that it shall be done, they think God is then obliged by promise to do it, Mark 9.23. If thou canst believe, all things are possible. And 11.23, 24. Whosoever shall say to this Mountain, Be thou removed, &c. and shall not doubt in his heart, but believe, &c. Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire when ye pray▪ believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Answ. The reason of this was, because they had a special promise of the gift of miracles, as is exprest, Mark 16.17, 18. And even this text is such a particular promise: For the spirit of miracles was then given to confirm the Gospel, and gather the first Churches, and Faith was the condition of them: Or the Spirit, when ever he would work a miracle, would first work an extraordinary Faith to prepare for it. And yet if you examine well the particular texts, which speak of this subject, you shall find that as it was the doubt of the divine Authority of Christs testimony, and of his own real power ▪ which was the unbelief of those times; so it was the belief of his Authority and Power, which was the Faith required: and [Page 248] this is oftener expressed than the belief of the event; and when the belief of the event is extolled, it is because the belief of Christs Power is contained in it. [If thou canst believe, all things are possible, Ma [...]k 9.23. Not [all things shall come to pass] Mat. 9.28. The blind men came to him, and Jesus said, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, yea Lord▪ Then touched [...] their eyes, saying, according to your faith be it unto you. So the Centurions faith is described as a belief of Christs Power, Mat. 8.7, 8, 9, 10, So is it in many other instances.

So that this text is no exception from the general Rule; but the meaning of it is, Whatsoever promised thing you ask, not doubting, ye shall receive it: Or doubt not of my enabling power, and you shall receive whatever you ask, which I have promised you; and miracles themselves shall be done by you.

Object. But what if they had only doubted of Christs Will? Answ. If they had doubted of his will in cases where he ne­ver exprest his will, they could not indeed have been certain of the event (for that is contrary to the doubt.) But they could not have charged Christ with any breach of promise; and therefore could not themselves have been charged with any unbelief. (For it is no unbelief to doubt of that will which never was revealed.) But if they had doubted of his revealed will concerning the event, they had then charged him with falshood, and had sinned against him, as ill as those who deny his power.

And the large experience of this our age, confuteth this fore­said errour of a particular belief: For we have abundance of instances of good people who were thus mistaken, and have ventured thereupon to conclude with confidence, that such a sick person shall be healed, and such a thing shall come to pass; when over and over the event hath proved contrary, and brought such confidence into contempt, upon the failing of it.

Direct. 11. Think not that because some strong imagination bringeth some promis [...] to your minds, that therefore it belongeth unto you, unless upon tryal, the true meaning of it do extend to you.

Many and many an honest, ignorant, melancholy woman, [Page 249] hath told me what abundance of sudden comfort they have had, because such a text was brought to their minds, and such a promise was suddenly set upon their hearts; when as they mistook the very sense of the promise, and upon true enquiry, [...]t was nothing to their purpose. Yet it is best not rather to contradict those mistaken and ungrounded comforts of such persons: Because when they are godly, and have true right to [...]ounder comforts, but cannot see it; it is better that they sup­port themselves a while with such mistakes, than that they sink into despair. For though we may not offer them such mistakes, nor comfort them by a lie; yet we may permit that which we may not do (as God himself doth.) It is not at all times that we are bound to rectifie other mens mistakes, viz. not when it will do them more harm than good.

Many an occasion may bring a text to our remembrance which concerneth us not, without the Spirit of God. Our own imaginations may do much that way of themselves. Try there­fore what is the true sense of the text, before you build your conclusions on it.

But yet if indeed God bring to your minds any pertinent promise, I would not have you to neglect the comfort of it.

D [...]rect. 12. Think not that God hath promised to all Chri­stians the same degrees of grace; and therefore that you may ex­pect as much as any others have.

Object. But shall not all at last be perfect? and what can there be added to perfection?

Answ. The perfection of a creature is to be advanced to the highest degree, which his own specifical and individual na­ture are capable of: A beast may be perfect, and yet not be a man: and a man may be perfect, and yet not be an Angel. And Lazarus may be perfect, and yet not reach the degree of Abraham. For there is, no doubt, a gradual difference between the capacities of several individual souls, of the same species: As there is of several vessels of the same metal, though not by such difference of corporal extension. And there is no great probability that all the difference in the degrees of wit from the Ideot to Achitophel, is founded only in the bodily organs; and not at all in the souls. And it is certain, that there are [Page 248] [...] [Page 249] [...] [Page 250] various degrees of glory in Heaven, and yet that every one there is perfect.

But if this were not so, yet it is in this life only that we are now telling you, that all Christians have not a promise of the same degrees.

Object. But is not additional grace given by way of reward? And then have not all a promise of the same degree which the best attain, conditionally if they do as much as they for it?

Answ. O yes, objective; but not subjective; b [...]cause all have not the same natural capacity, nor are bound to the same de­gree of duty as to the condition it self. As perfection in H [...] ­ven is given by way of reward, and yet all shall not have the same degree of perfection; so is it as to the degrees of grace on earth. 2. All have not the same degrees of the first preventing grace given them; and therefore it is most certain that all will not use the same degree of industry for more: Some have but one talent, and some two, when some have five, and therefore gain ten talents in the improvement, Mat. 25.

All must strive for the highest measure: and all the sincere may at last expect their own perfection: But God breaketh no promise, if he give them not all as much as some have.

Direct. 13. Much less hath God promised the same degree of common gifts to all.

If you never attain to the same measure of acuteness, learn­ing, memory, utterance, do not think that God breaketh pro­mise with you: Nor do not call your presumption by the name of Faith, if you have such expectations. See 1 Cor. 12. throughout.

Direct. 14. God often promiseth the thing it self, when he pro­miseth the time of giving it: Therefore do not take it to be an act of Faith, to believe a set time, where God hath set no time at all.

Many are the troubles of the righteous, but God will deliver them out of all, Psal. 37. But he hath not set them just the time. Christ hath promised to come again and take us to him­self, Joh. 14.1, 2.3. But of that day and hour knoweth no man. God will give necessary comfort to his servants; but he best knoweth when it is necessary: and therefore they must not set him a time, and say, Let it be now, or thou breakest thy [Page 251] word. Patient wa [...]ting Gods own time, is as needful as be­lieving: Yea he that believeth, will not make haste, Isa. 28.16. Rom. 2 7. 2 Thes. 3.5. James 5.7, 8. Heb. 6.12. & 10.36. & 12.1. James 5.7. Revel. 13.10. & 14.12. 1 Thes. 1.3, 11.

Direct. 15. God often promiseth the thing, when he promiseth not either in what manner, or by what instrument he will do it.

He may deliver his Church, and may deliver particular per­sons out of trouble; and yet do it in a way, and by such means as they never dreamed of. Sometimes he foretelleth us his means, when it is we that in duty are to use them. And sometimes he keepeth them unknown to us, when they are only to be used by himself. In the Mount will the Lord be seen ▪ but yet Abraham thought not of the Ram in the Thicke [...]. The Israelites knew not that God would deliver them by the hand of Moses, Acts 7.25.

Direct. 16. Take not the promises proper to one time or age of the Church, as if they were common to all, or unto us.

There were many promises to the Israelites, which belong not to us, as well as many precepts: The increase of their seed, and the notable prosperity in the world which was pro­mised them, was partly because that the motive should be suit­ed to the ceremonial duties, and partly because the eternal things being not then so fully brought to light as now, they were the more to be moved with the present outward tokens of Gods Love. And so the gift of the Spirit of Miracles, and Infallibility, for writing and confirming Scriptures, was pro­mised to the first age, which is not promised to us.

Direct. 17. Take not any good mans observation in those times for an universal promise of God.

For instance, David saith, Psal. 73. I have been young, and now am old; yet did I never see the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread. But if he had lived in Gospel times, where God giveth greater heavenly blessings and comforts, and calleth men to higher degrees of patience and mortification, and contempt of the world, he might have seen many both of the righteous and their seed begging their bread, though not forsaken; yea Christ himself asking for water of a woman, John 4.

[Page 252]Direct. 18. Take heed of making promises to seem instead of precepts; as if you were to do that your selves, which God hath promised that he will do.

If God promise to deliver his Church, or to free any of his servants from trouble or persecution, you must have a precept to tell you what is your own duty, and what means you must use, before you m [...]st attempt your own deliverance. What God will do, is one thing; and what you must do, is another. This hath been the strange delusion of the people that call them­selves the Fifth-Monarchy men in our times; who believing that Christ will set up righteousness, and pull down Tyrants in the earth, have thought that therefore they must do it by arms; and so have been drawn into many rebellions, to the scandal of others, and their own ruine.

Direct. 19. Take heed of mistaking Prophecies for Promises; especially dark Prophecies not understood.

Many things are foretold by God in Prophecies, which are mens sins: Herod, and Pontius Pilate, and the people of the Jews, fulfilled Prophecies in the crucifying of Christ: and all the persecutors and muderers of the Saints, fulfil Christs Pro­phecies; and so do all that hate us, And say all manner of evil falsly against us for his sake, Mat. 5.11, 12. But the sin is never the less for that. It is prophesied that the ten Kings shall give up their Kingdoms to the beast; that in the last daies shall come scoffers walking after their own lusts; and in the last daies shall be perilous times, &c. These are not Promises, nor Precepts.

It hath lamentably disturbed the Church of Christ, when ignorant self-conceited Christians, who see not the difficulty, grow confident that they understand many Prophecies in Daniel, the Revelations, &c. and thereupon found their pre­sumption (miscalled faith) upon their own mistakes, and then form their prayers, their communion, their practice into such schism, and sedition, and uncharitable waies, as the interest of their opinions do require (as the Millenaries before men­tioned have done in this generation.)

Direct. 20. Think not that all Gods Promises are made to meer sincerity; and that every true Christian must be freed from all penal hurt, however they behave themselves.

For there are further helps of the Spirit, which are promised [Page 253] only to our diligence in attending the Spirit, and to the degrees of industry, and fervour, and fidelity in watching, praying, striving, and other use of means. And there are heavy cha­stisements which God threatneth to the godly, when they misbehave themselves: Especially the hiding of his face, and with-holding any measure of his Spirit. The Scripture is full of such threatnings and instances.

Direct. 21. Much less may you imagine that God hath made any Promise, that all the sins of true Believers shall work together for their good.

They misexpound Rom. 8.28. who so expound it (as I have elsewhere shewed.) For 1. The context confirmeth it to sufferings. 2. The qualification added [to them that love God] doth shew that the abatement of love to God, is none of the things meant that shall work our good. 3. And it shew­eth, that it is Love as Love, and therefore not the least that is consistent with neglect and sin, which is our full condition. 4. Experience telleth us, that too many true Christians may fall from some degrees of grace, and the Love of God, and die in a less degree than they once had▪ and that less of holiness doth not work for their good. 5. And it is not a thing suitable to all the rest of Gods method in the Scriptures, that he should assure all beforehand, that all their sins shall work for their good. That he should command obedience so strictly, and promise rewards so liberally, and threaten punishment so ter­ribly, and give such frightful examples as Solomons, Davids, and others are; and at the same time say, Whatever sin thou committest inwardly or outwardly by neglecting my Love, and Grace, and Spirit, by loving the world, by pleasing the flesh, as David did, &c. it shall all be turned to do thee more good than hurt. This is not a suitable means to men in our case, to keep them from sin, nor to cause their perseverance.

Direct. 22. Vnderstand well what Promises are universal to all B [...]lievers, and what are but particular and proper to some few.

There are many particular Promises in Scripture, made by name, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to Aaron, to David, to Solomon, to Hezekiah, to Christ, to Peter, to Paul, &c. which we cannot say are made to us. Therefore the Covenant of Grace, [Page 254] which is the Vniversal Promise, [...] especially be made the ground of our faith, and all other as they are branches and ap­purtenances of that, and have in the Scripture some true sig­nification, that they indeed extend to us. For if we should believe that every Promise made to any Saint of God (as Hannah, Sarah, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Mary, &c. do belong to us, we should abuse our selves and God. And yet to us they have their use.

Direct. 23. It is of very great importance, to understand what Promises are absolute, and which are suspended upon any condi­tion to be performed by us, and what each of those conditions it.

As the Promise to the Fathers that the Messiah should come, was absolute. God g [...]ve not a Saviour to the world, so as to suspend his coming on any thing to be done by man. The not drowning of the world, was an absolute Promise made to Noah: so was the calling of the Gentiles promised. But the Covenant of Promises sealed in Baptism, is conditional: and therefore both parties, God and man, are the Covenanters therein.

And in the Gospel the Promises of our first Justification and Adoption, and of our after pardon, and of our Justification at Judgement, and of our additional degrees of grace, and of our freedom from chastisements, have some difference in the con­ditions, though true Christianity be the main substance of them all. Meer Christianity, or true consent to the Covenant, is the condition of our first Justification. And the continuance of this, with actual sincere obedience, is the condition of non-omission, or of continuance of this state of J [...]stification: And the use of prayer and other means, is a condition of our further reception of more grace. And perseverance in true holiness with faith, is the condition of our final Justification and Glori­fication (of which more anon.)

Direct. 24. You can no further believe the fulfilling of any of these conditional Promises, than you know that you perform the condition.

It is presumption, and not faith, for an impenitent person to expect the benefit of those Promises, which belong to the penitent only: And so it is for him that forgiveth not others, [Page 255] to expect to be forgiven his particular sins: And so in all the rest of the Promises.

Direct. 25. But be sure that you ascribe no more to your selves, for performing any condition of a Promise, than God doth.

A condition as such is no cause at all of the performance of the Promise; either natural or moral: only the non-perfor­mance of the condition is a cause of the non-performance of the Promise: For the true nature of a condition as such, is only to suspend the ben [...]fit. Though naturally a condition may be me­ritorious among men; and for their own commodity (which God is not capable of) they ordinarily make only meritorious acts to be conditions: As God also doth only such acts as are pleasing to him, and suited to their proper ends. But this is nothing to a condition formally, which is but to suspend the benefit till it be done.

Direct. 26. When you find a Promise to be common or uni­versal, apply it as boldly as if your name were written in it: and also when you find that any particular Promise to a Saint is but a branch of that universal Promise to all Saints; or to all that are in the same case, and find that the case and reason of the Promise proveth the sense of it to belong to you as well as them.

If it be said, that whosoever believeth shall not perish, but have everlasting life, John 3.16. You may apply it as boldly as if it were said, If thou John, or Thomas be a Believer, thou shalt not perish, but have everlasting life. As I may apply the absolute Promise of the Resurrection to my self as boldly, as if my name were in it, because it is all that shall be raised (John 5.22, 24, 25.) 1 Cor. 15. So may I all the conditional promises of pardon and glory conditionally [if I repent and believe.] And you may absolutely thence conclude your certain interest in the benefit, so far as you are certain that you repent and be­lieve.

And when you read that Christ promiseth his twelve Apostles, to be with them, and to reward their labours, and to see that they shall be no losers by him, if they lose their lives, &c. You may believe that he will do so by you also. For though your work be not altogether the same with theirs; yet this is but a branch of the common Promise to all the faithful, who must all follow him on the same terms of self-denial, [Page 256] Luke 14.26, 27, 33. Mat. 10. Rom. 8.17, 18. And on this ground the promise to Joshua is applied, Heb. 15. I will never fail thee nor forsake thee, because it is but a branch of the C [...] ­venant common to all the faithful.

Direct. 27. Be sure that you lay the stress of all your hopes on the Promises of God, and venture all your happiness on them, and when God calleth to it, express this by forsaking all else for these hopes, that it may appear you really trust Gods word, without any secret hypocritical reserves.

This is the true life, and work, and tryal of faith: whether we build so much on the Promise of God, that we can take the thing promised for all our treasure, and the Word of God for our whole security.

As Faith is called a Trusting in God; so it is a practical kind of Trust; and the principal tryal of it, lyeth in forsaking all other happiness and hopes, in confidence of Gods promise through Jesus Christ.

To open the matter by a similitude: Suppose that Christ came again on earth as he did at his Incarnation, and should confirm his truth by the same miracles, and other means; and suppose he should then tell all the Country, I have a Kingdom at the Antipodes, where men never die, but live in perpetual prosperity; and those of you shall freely possess it, who will part with your own estates and Country, and go in a ship of my providing, and trust me for your Pilot to bring you thither, and trust me to give it you when you come there. My power to do all this, I have proved by my miracles, and my love and will, my offer proveth.] How now will you know whether a man believe Christ, and trust this promise or not? why, if he believe and trust him, he will go with him, and will leave all, and venture over the Seas whithersoever he conducteth him, and in that ship which he prepareth for him: But if he dare not venture, or will not leave his present Coun­try and possessions, it is a sign that he doth not trust him.

If you were going to Sea, and had several Ships and Pilots offered you, and you were afraid left one were unsafe, and the Pilot unskilful, and it were doubtful which were to be trufled; when after all deliberation you chuse one, and refuse the rest, and resolve to venture your life and goods in it, this is properly [Page 257] called trusting it. So trusting in God, and in Jesus Christ, is not a bare opinion of his fidelity, but a PRACTICAL TRƲST ▪ and that you may be sure to understand it clearly, I will once open the parts of it distinctly.

Divines commonly tell us that Faith is an Affiance or Trust in God: and some of them say that this is an act of the under­standing, and some, that it is an act of the will, and others say, that Faith consisteth in Assent alone, and that Trust or Affiance is as Hope, a fruit of Faith, and not Faith it self: And what Af­fiance it self is, is no small controversie (And so it is what Faith and Christianity is, even among the Teachers of Christians.)

The plain truth is this: as to the name of Faith, it sometime signifieth a meer Intellectual Assent, when the object requireth no more: And sometime it signifieth a practical Trust or Af­fiance, in the Truth or Trustiness of the undertaker or pro­miser, that is, in his Power, Wisdom and Goodness, or honesty, conjunct as expressed in his word; and that is, when the matter is practical, requiring such a trust. The former is oft called, The Christian Faith; because it is the belief of the truth of the Christian Principles; and is the leading part of Faith in the full sense. But it is the latter which is the Christian Faith, What true Christian Faith is? as it is taken, not secundum quid, but simply; not for a part ▪ but the whole; not for the opinion of men about Christ, but for Christianity it self, or that Faith which must be profest in Bap­tism, and which hath the promise of Justification and Salva­tion.

And this Trust or Affiance is placed respectively on all the objects mentioned in the beginning; on God as the first [...]ffi­cient foundation; and on God as the ultimate end; as the cer­tain full felicity, and final object of the soul: On Christ as the Mediatour, and as the secondary foundation, and the guide, and the finisher of our faith and salvation; the chief sub revealer and performer: On the Holy Ghost, as the third foundation; both revealing and attesting the doctrine by his g [...]ts: And on the Apostles and Prophets as his Instruments and Christs chief entrusted Messengers: And on the Promise or Covenant of Christ as his Instrumental Revelation it self: And on the Scriptures as the authentick Record of this Revelation and Promise. And the be­nefit for which all these are trusted, is, recovery to God, or Re­demption [Page 258] [...] [Page 259] [...] [Page 258] and Salvation, viz. pardon of sin, and Justification, Adoption, Sanctification and Glorification; and all things neces­sary hereunto.

This Trust is an act of all the three faculties: (for three understanding are) even of the whole man: Of the vital power, the understanding and the will: and is most properly called A pra­ctical Trust; such as trusting a Physician with your life and health; or a Tutor to teach you; or a Master to govern and reward you; or a Ship and Pilot (as aforesaid) to carry you safe through the dangers of the Sea: As in this similitude; Affiance as in the understanding ▪ is its Assent to the sufficiency and fidelity of the Pilot and Ship (or Physician) that I trust: Affiance in the will is the chusing of this Ship, Pilot, Physician to venture my life with, and refusing all others; which is called consent, when it followeth the motion and offer of him whom we trust. Affiance in the vital power of the soul, is the fortitude and venturing all upon this chosen Trustee: which is, the quieting (in some measure) disturbing fears, and the exitus or conatus, or first egress of the soul towards execu­tion.

And whereas the quarrelling pievish ignorance of this age, hath caused a great deal of bitter, reproachful, uncharitable con­tention on both sides, about the question, How far obedience belongeth to faith? whether as a part, or end, or fruit, or conse­quent? In all this it is easily discerned, that as all [...]giance or subjection differ from obedience, and hiring my self to a Master, differeth from obeying him; and taking a man for my Tutor, differeth from learning of him; and Marriage differeth from conjugal duty; and giving up my self to a Physician, differeth from taking his counsel and medicines; and taking a man for my Pilot, differeth from being conducted by him; so doth our first Faith or Christianity differ from actual obedience to the healing precepts of our Saviour. It is the covenant of obedience and consent to it, immediately entering us into the practice: It is the seed of obedience; or the soul, or life of it, which will im­mediately bring it forth, and act it. It is virtual, but not actual obedience to Christ; because it is but the first consent to his Kingly Relation to us; unless you will call it that Inception from whence all obedience followeth. But it may be actual [Page 259] (common) obedience to God, where he is believed in and ac­knowledged before Christ: And all following acts of Faith after the first, are both the root of all other obedience, and a part of it: as our continued Allegiance to the King is: And as the Heart, when it is the first formed Organ in nature, is no part of the man, but the Organ to make all the parts, because it is solitary; and there is yet no man, of whom it can be called a part; but when the man is formed, the heart is both his chief part ▪ and the Organ to actuate and maintain the rest.

Object. But Faith as Faith is not obedience.

Answ. Nor Learning as Learning is not obedience to your Tutor: Nor plowing as plowing is not obedience to your Ma­ster: Or to speak more aptly, the continuance of your consent, that this man be your Tutor as such, is not obedience to him; but it is materially part of your obedience to your Father who commandeth it; and your continued Allegiance or subjection as such, is not obedience to your King; but as primarily it was the foundation or heart of future obedience; so afterward it is also materially a part of your obedience, being commanded by him to whom you are now subject. And so it is in the case of Faith: and therefore true Faith and Obedience are as nearly conjoyned as Life and Motion; and the one is ever [...] in the other: Faith is for Obedience to Christs healing means, as trusting and taking a Physician, is for the using of his counsel: and Faith is for love and holy obedience to God, which is called our Sanctification, as trusting a Physician, is for health. Faith is implicite virtual obedience to a Saviour: and obedience to a Sa­viour, is explicite operating Faith or trust.

I. In the understanding, Faith in Gods Promises hath all these acts contained in it.

1. A belief that God is, and that he is perfectly powerful, wise and good.

2. A belief that he is our Maker, and so our Owner, our Ruler, and our chief Good (initially and finally) delighting to do good, and the perfect felicitating end and object of the soul.

3. A belief that God hath expressed the benignity of his nature, by a Covenant or Promise of life to man.

4. To believe that Jesus Christ, God and Man, is the Mediator [Page 260] of this Covenant, Heb. 8 6. & 9.15. & 1 [...].24. procuring it, and entrusted to administer or communicate the blessings of it, Heb. 5.9.

5. To believe that the Holy Ghost is the seal and witness of this Covenant.

6 To believe that this Covenant giveth pardon of sin, and Justification and Adoption, and further grace, to penitent Be­l [...]evers; and Glorification to those that persevere in true Faith, Love and O [...]edience to the end.

7. To believe that the Holy Scriptures or Word delivered by the A [...]ostles, is the sure Record of this Covenant, and of the history and doctrine on which it is grounded.

8. To believe that God is most perfectly regardful and faith­ful to fulfil this Covenant, and that he cannot lye or break it, Titus 1.2. Heb. 6.17, 18.

9. To believe that you in particular are included in this Co­venant, as well as others, it being universal as conditional to all if they will repent and believe, and no exception put in against you to exclude you, John 3.16. Mark 16.15, 16.

10. To believe or know that there is nothing else to be trusted to, as our felicity and end instead of God; nor as our way instead of the Mediator, and the foresaid means appoint­ed by him.

II. In the Will, Faith or Trust hath 1. A simple complacency in God as believed to be most perfectly good as fore-described.

2. It hath an actual intending and desiring of him as our end and whole felicity to be enjoyed in Heaven, Gal. 5.6, 7. Ephes. 3.17, 18, 19. Col. 3.1, 3, 4. 1 Cor. 13. Heb. 11. Mat. 6.20, 21.

3. It is the turning away from, and refusing all other seem­ing felicity or ends, and casting all our happiness and hopes upon God alone.

4. It is the chusing Jesus Christ as the only way and Me­diator to this end; with the refusing of all other, Job. 14.6. and trusting all that we are or hope for upon his Media­tion.

III. In the Vital Power, it is the casting away all inconsistent fears, and the inward resolved delivering up the soul to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in this Covenant, entering our [Page 261] selves into a resolved war with the Devil, the World, and the Flesh, which in the performance will resist us▪ And thus Faith or Trust is constituted and completed in the true Bap­tismal Covenant.

Direct. 28. In all this be sure that you observe the difference between the truth of Faith, and the high degrees.

The truth of it is most certainly discerned by (as consisting in) [THE ABSOLVTE CASTING or VENTVRING not part, but ALL YOVR HAPPINESS and HOPES VPON GOD and the MEDIATOR ONLY, and LETTING GO ALL WHICH IS INCONSISTENT WITH THIS CHOICE and TRVST. This is true and saving Faith and Trust.

Pardon me that I sometime use the word VENTVRING ALL, as if there were any uncertainty in the matter. I in­tend not by it to express the least uncertainty or fallibility in Gods Promise: For Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but one jot or tittle of his Word shall not pass, till all be fulfilled: But I shall here add,

1. True Faith or Trust may consist with uncertainty in the person who believeth; if he believe and trust Christ but so far, that he can cast away all his worldly treasures and hopes, even life it self upon that trust. Every one is not an Infidel, nor an Hypocrite, who must say▪ if he speak his heart [I am not cer­tain past all doubts, that the soul is immortal, or the Gospel true: but I am certain, that immortal happiness is most desirable, and endless misery most terrible▪ and that this world is vanity, and nothing in it worthy to be compared, with the hopes which Christ hath given us of a better life: And therefore upon just deliberation I am resolved to let go all my sinful pleasures, profits, and worldly reputation, and life it self, when it is inconsistent with those hopes: And to take Gods Love for my felicity and end, and to trust and venture absolutely all my happiness and hopes on the favour of God, the mediation of Christ, and the Promises which he hath given us in the Gospel.]

I know I shall meet with abundance of Teachers and people, that will shake the head at this doctrine as dangerous, and cry out of it as favouring unbelief, that any one should have true saving Faith, who doubteth, or is uncertain of the immortality [Page 262] of the soul, or the tr [...]th of the Gospel! But I see so much in hot-brained proud persons, to be pittied, and so much of their work in the Church to be with tears lamented, that I will not by speech or silence favour their brainsick, bold assertions, nor will I fear their phrenetick furious censures. If it be not a mark of a wise and good Minister of Christ, to be utterly igno­rant of the state of souls, both his own, and all the peoples, then I will not concur to the advancement of the reputation of such ignorance. It is enough to pardon the great injury which such do to the Church of God, without countenancing it. Though this one instance only now mind me of it, abundance more do second it, and tell us, that there are in the Churches through the world, abundance of Divines, who are first taught by a party which they most esteem, what is to be held and said as orthodox, and then make it their work, to contend for that orthodoxness which they were taught so to honour, even with the most unmanly and unchristian scorns and cen­sures; when as if they had not been dolefully ignorant both of the Scriptures, and themselves, and the souls of men, they would have known, that it is the fool that rageth and is con­fident, and that it was not their knowing more than others, but their knowing less, which made them so presumptuous; and that they are themselves as far from certainty as others, when they condemn themselves to defend their opinions: Even like our late Perfectionists, who all lived more imperfectly than others; but wrote and railed for sinless perfection, as soon as they did but take up the opinion. As if turning to that opi­nion had made them perfect. So men may pass the censure of hypocrisie and damnation upon themselves when they please, by damning all as hypocrites, whose faith is thus far imperfect; but they shall never make any wise man believe by it, that their own faith is ever the more certain or perfect.

As far as I can judge by acquaintance with persons most re­ligious, though there be many who are afraid to speak it out, yet the far greater number of the most faithful Christians, have but such a faith which I described, and their hearts say [I am not certain, or past all doubt, of the truth of our immortality, or of the Gospel; but I will venture all my hopes and happiness, though to the parting with life it self up [...]n it.]

[Page 263]And I will venture to say it, as the truth of Christ, that he that truly can do this, hath a sincere and saving faith; what­soever Opinionists may say against it. For Christ hath pro­mised, that he that loseth his life for his sake and the Gospels, shall have life everlasting, Mat. 10.37, 38, 39, 42. & 16.25. & 19.29. Luke 18.30. And he hath appointed no higher ex­pressions of faith, as necessary to salvation, than denying our selves, and taking up the Cross, and forsaking all that we have; or in one word, than Martyrdom; and this as proceeding from the Love of God, Luke 14.26, 27, 29, 33 Rom. 8.17, 18, 28, 29, 3O, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39.

And it is most evident that the sincere have been weak in faith, Luke 17.5. And the Apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith, Mark 9.24. Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief. Luke 7.9. I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel. The weak faith was the more common.

2. And as true Faith or Trust may consist with doubts and uncertainty in the subject; so may it with much anxiety, care, disquietment and sinful fear; which sheweth the imperfection of our Faith. Shall [...]e not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Mat. 16.8. O ye of little faith, why reason you among your selves, &c. Mat. 8. [...]6. Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Mat. 14.31. Peter had a faith that could venture his life on the waters to come to Christ, as confident of a miracle upon his command: But yet it was not without fear, v. 30. When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; which caused Christ to say [O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?]

And you cannot say that this is only a hinderance in the ap­plying act, and not in the direct and principal act of faith: For Luke 24.21. we find some Disciples at this pass [But we trust­ed that it had been he, who should have redeemed Israel.] And v. 25, 26. Christ saith to them O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken; ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his Glory? Luke 24.11. The words of them who told the Apostles, that Christ was risen, seemed but as tales to them, and they believed them not. And v. 41. While they believed not for joy, and wondered, &c.

3. Nay, a weak faith may have such a swouning fit, as to [Page 264] fail extraordinarily in an hour of temptation, so far as to deny Christ, or shrink from him in this fear: so did Peter, and not only he, but all the Disciples forsook him, and fled, Matth. 26 56.

But yet he that according to the habituated state of his soul, hath so much Faith, and Love, as will cause him to venture life and all, upon the trust which he hath to the promises of the Gospel, hath a true and saving fai [...]h.

And here I desire all doubting Christians, to lay by the common mistake in the trying of their faith or trust in Christ, and to go hereafter upon surer grounds. Many say, I cannot believe or trust Christ for salvation, for I am full of doubts, and fears, and troubles; and surely this is not trusting God. Ans. 1. The question is not, whether you trust him perfectly, so as to have no fears, no troubles, no doubts: but whether you trust him sincerely, so far as to venture all upon him in his way. If you can venture all on him, and let go all to follow him, your faith is true and saving.

This would abundantly comfort many fearful troubled Christians, if they did but understand it well: For many of them that thus fear, would as soon as any, forsake all for Christ, and let go all carnal pleasures, and worldly things, or any wilful sin whatsoever, rather than forsake him; and would not take to any other portion and felicity than God, nor any other way than Christ, and the Spirit of holiness, for all the temptations in the world: And yet they fear because they fear; and doubt more because they doubt. Doubting soul, let this resolve thee; suppose Christ and his way were like a Pilot with his Ship at Sea: Many more promise to con­vey thee safely, and many perswade thee not to venture, but stay at Land: But if thou hast so much trust as that thou wilt go, and put thy self, and all that thou hast into this Ship, and forsake all other, though thou go trembling all the way, and be afraid of every storm, and tempest, and gulf; yet thou hast true faith, though it be weak. If thy faith will but keep thee in the Ship with Christ, that thou neither turn back again to the flesh▪ and world; nor yet take another Ship and Pilot, (as Mahometanes, and those without the Church) undoubt­edly Christ will bring thee safe to Land, though thy fear and distrust be still thy sin.

[Page 265]For the hypocrites case is alwaies some of these: 1. Some of them will only trust God in some smaller matter, wherein their happiness consisteth not: As a man will trust one with some trifle which he doth not much regard, whom yet he thinks so ill of, that he cannot trust him in a matter of weight.

2. Some of them will trust God for the saving of their souls, and the life to come (or rather presume on him, while they call it trusting him) but they will not trust him with their bodies, their wealth, and honours, and fleshly pleasures, or their lives. These they are resolved to shift for, and secure themselves, as well as they can. For they know that for the world to come, they must be at Gods disposal, and they have no way of their own to shift out of his hands: whether there be such a life or no, they know not; but if there be, they will cast their souls upon Gods mercy, when they have kept the world as long as they can, and have had all that it can do for them. But they will not lose their present part, for such uncertain hopes as they ac­count them.

3. Some of them will trust him only in pretence and name, while it is the creature which they trust indeed. Because they have learned to say, that God is the disposer of all, and only to be trusted, and all creatures are but used by his will; therefore they think that when they trust the creature, it is but in subordination to God; though indeed they trust not God at all.

4. Some of them will trust God and the creature joyntly; and as they serve God and Mammon, and think to make sure of the prosperity of the body, and the salvation of the soul, without losing either of them; so they trust in both conjunct­ly, to make up their felicity. Some think when they read Christs words, Mark 10.24. How hard is it for them that trust in Riches, to enter into the Kingdom of God?] that they are safe enough if that be all the danger; for they do not trust in their riches, though they love them: He is a mad man they say, that will put his trust in them. And yet Christ intimateth it as the true reason why few that have riches can be saved, because there is few that have riches, who do not trust in them: You know that riches will not save your souls; you know that they will not save you from the gr [...]ve, you know that [Page 266] they will not cure your diseases, nor ease your pains: And therefore you do not trust to riches, either to keep you from sickness, or from dying, or from Hell: But yet you think that riches may help you to live in pleasure, and in reputation with the world, and in plenty of all things, and to have your will, as long as health and life will last; and this you take to be the chiefest happiness which a man can make sure of: And for this you trust them. The fool in Luke 12.19. who said, Soul, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry, thou hast enough laid up for many years, did not trust his riches to make him immor­tal, nor to save his soul: But he trusted in them, as a provision which might suffice for many years, that he might eat, drink, and be merry, and take his ease; and this he loved better, and preferred before any pleasures or happiness which he hoped for in another world. And thus it is that all worldly hypo­crites do trust in riches: Yea the poorest do trust in their little poor provisions in this world, as seeming to them surer, and therefore better than any which they can expect hereafter. This is the way of trusting in uncertain riches, (viz. to be their surest happiness) instead of trusting in the living God, 1 Tim. 6.17. & 4.10. Psal. 49.6. & 52.7.

But yet because the hypocrite knoweth, that he cannot live here alwaies, but must die, and his riches must be parted with at last, and heareth of a life of glory afterwards, he would fain have his part in that too, when he can keep the world no longer: And so he taketh both together for his part and hope, viz. as much bodily happiness as he can get in this world, and Heaven at last, when he must die: not knowing that God will be all our portion and felicity, or none; and that the world must be valued and used but for his sake, and in subordination to him and a better world.

5. Yet some hypocrites seem to go further (though they do not) for they will seem, even to themselves, to resign goods, and life, and all things absolutely to the will of God. But the reason is, because they are secretly perswaded in their hearts, that their resignation shall no whit deprive them of them; and that God will never the more take it from them; but that they may possess as much present corporal felicity, in a life of Religion, as if they lived in the dangerous case of the ungodly: [Page 267] or at least, that they may keep so much, as not to be undone or left to any great sufferings in the world; or at least, their lives may not be called for. For they live in a time, when few suf­fer for Christ; and therefore they see little cause to [...]e [...]r that they should be of that smaller number: and it is but being a little the more wise and cautelous, and they hope they may scape well enough. And if they had not this hope, they would never give up all to Christ. But like persons that will be libe­ral to their Physician, they will offer a great deal, when they think he will not take it; but if they thought he would take all that is offered, they would offer less. Or as if a sick person should hear that such a Physician will give him no very strong or loathsome Physick; and therefore when the Physician telleth him [I will be none of your Physician unless you will ab­solutely promise to take every thing which I shall give you.] He promiseth that he will do it; but it is only because he supposeth that he will give him nothing which is troublesome: And if he find his expectation crost, he breaketh his promise, and [...]aith, If I had known that he would have used me thus, I would never have promised it him. So hypocrites by promise give up them­selves absolutely to God, and to b [...] wholly at his will, without excepting life it self: But their hearts do secretly except it: For all this is because they doubt not but they may save their earthly prosperity and lives, and be Christians too: And if once Christ call them to suffer death for him, they shew then what was the meaning of their hearts.

To reassume the former similitude; If Christ on earth should offer to convey you to a Kingdom at the Antipodes, where men live for ever in glorious holiness, if you will but trust him, and go in his Ship, and take him for your Pilot: Here one saith, I do not believe him that there is such a place, and therefore I will not go (that is, the Infidel.) Another saith, I like my merry life at home, better than his glorious holiness (that's the open worldling and prophane.) Another saith, I will live in my own Country, and on my own estate, as long as I can, and when I find that I am dying▪ and can stay here no longer, that I may be sure to lose nothing by him, I will take his offer. Another saith, I will go with him, but I will turn back again, if I find any dangerous storms and gulfs in the passage. Another saith, I [Page 268] will take another Ship and Pilot along with me, lest he should fail me, that I may not be deceived. Another saith, I am told that the Seas are calm, and there is no danger in the pas­sage, and therefore I will absolutely trust him, and venture all; but when he meets with storms and hideous waves, he saith, This is not as I expected, and so he turneth back again. But another (the true Christian) saith, I will venture all, and wholly trust him: And so, though he is oft afraid in dangers, when he seeth the devouring gulfs, yet not so fearful as to turn back, but on he goeth, come on it what will; because he knoweth that the place which he goeth to is most desirable, and mortality will soon end his old prosperity; and he hath great reason to believe his Pilot to be trusty.

By all this you may see, how it cometh to pass that Christ who promiseth life to Believers, doth yet make self-denyal, and forsaking all that we have, even life it self, to be also necessary; and what relation self-denyal hath to faith, Luke 14.26, 3 [...]. Nearer by far than most consider. You may see here the reason why Christ tryed the rich man, Luke 18.22. with selling all, and following him in hope of a reward in Heaven: And why he bid his Diciples, Luke 12.33. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide your selves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the Heavens which faileth not—And why the first Chri­stians were made a pattern of entire Christianity, by selling all, and laying down at the Apostles feet; And Ananias and Sa­phira were the instances of Hypocrisie, who secretly and lying­ly kept back part: You see here how it comes to pass, that all true Christians must be heart-martyrs, or prepared to die for Christ and Heaven, rather than forsake him. You may plainly perceive that Faith it self is an Affiance or Trusting in God by Christ, even a Trusting in God in Heaven as our felicity, and in Christ as the Mediator and the Way; and that this Trust is a venturing all upon him, and a forsaking all for God, and his promises in Christ. And that it is one and the same Motion which from the terminus à quo is called Repentance and for­saking all; and from the terminus ad quem is called Trust and Love. They that are willing to see, may profit much by this observation; and they that are not may quarrel at it, and talk against that which their prejudice will not allow them to un­derstand.

[Page 269]And by all this you may see also wherein the strength of Faith consisteth: And that is 1. In so clear a sight of the evi­dences of truth as shall leave no considerable doubtings, Mat. 21.21. So Abraham staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, Rom. 4.

2. In so confirmed a Resolution to cleave to God and Christ alone, as leaveth no wavering, or looking back: that we may say groundedly with Peter, Though I die, I will not deny thee; which doubtless signified then some strength of faith: And as Paul, I am ready not only to be bound, but to die for the Name of the Lord Jesus, Acts 21.13.

3. In so strong a fortitude of soul, as to venture and give up our selves, our lives, and all our comforts and hopes into the hand of Christ, without any trouble or sinful fears, and to pass through all difficulties and tryals in the way, without any distrust or anxiety of mind. These be the characters of a strong and great degree of faith.

And you may note how Heb. 11. describeth Faith common­ly by this venturing and forsaking all upon the belief of God. As in Noah's case, verse 7. And in Abraham's leaving his Coun­trey, v. 8. And in his sacrificing Isaac, v. 17. And in Moses forsaking Pharaoh's Court, and chusing the reproach of Christ, rather than the pleasures of sin for a season, v. 24, 25, 26. And in the Israelites venturing into the Red Sea, v. 29. And in Rebab's hiding the spies, which must needs be her danger in her own Countrey. And in all those, who by faith subdued Kingdoms, wrought Righteousness, obtained Promises, stopped the mouths of Lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword; out of weakness were made strong —O▪ hers were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others had tryal of cruel mockings and scourg­ings; yea moreover of bonds and imprisonments; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in Sheep skins, and Goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy: They wandered in Desarts and Mountains, and in Deus, and Caves of the earth. And in Heb. 10.32, 33, &c. They endured a great fight of affliction; partly whilst they were made a gazing flock, [Page 270] both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly whilst they became companions of them that were so used — And took joyfully the spoiling of their goods; knowing in themselves that they had in Heaven a better and an enduring substance. And thus, the just do live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him, saith the Lord. See also Rom. 8.33, 36, 37 &c.

These are the Spirits descriptions of faith; but if you will rather take a whimsical ignorant mans description, who can only toss in his mouth the name of FREE GRACE, and knoweth not of what he speaketh, or what he affirmeth, or what that name signifieth, which he cheateth his own soul with, instead of true Free Grace it self, you must suffer the bitter fruits of your own delusion. For my part I shall say thus much more, to tell you why I say so much, to help you to a right understanding of the nature of true Christian Faith.

1. If you understand not truly what Faith is, you under­stand not what Religion it is that you profess: And so you call your selves Christians, and know not what it is. It seems those that said, Lord, we have eaten and drunken in thy pre­sence, and prophesied in thy Name, did think they had been true Believers, Matth. 7.21, 22.

2. To erre about the nature of true Faith, will engage you in abundance of other errours, which will necessarily arise from that; as it did them, against whom James disputeth, James 2.14, 15, &c. about Justification by Faith and by Works.

3. It will damnably delude your souls, about your own state, and draw you to think that you have saving Faith, be­cause you have that fancy which you thought was it. One comes boldly to Christ, Mat. 8.19. Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest: But when he heard [The Foxes have holes, and the Birds have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head] we hear no more of him. And another came with a [Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?] Luke 18.18. as if he would have been one of Christs Disciples, and have done any thing for Heaven. (And it's like that he would have been a Christian, if Free Grace had been as large, [Page 271] and as little grace, as some now imagine.) But when he heard [Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: Come, fol­low me] he was then very sorrowful, for he was very rich, Luke 18.21, 22, 23. Thousands cheat their souls with a conceit that they are Believers, because they believe that they shall be saved by Free Grace, without the faith and grace which Christ hath made necessary to salvation.

4. And this will take off all those needful thoughts and means, which should help you to the faith, which yet you have not.

5. And it will engage you in perverse disputes against that true faith which you understand not: And you will think, that you are contending for Free Grace, and for the Faith, when you are proud, knowing nothing, but sick or doting about questions, which engender no better birth than strifes, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings, &c. 1 Tim. 6.4, 5.

6. Lastly, You can scarce more dishonour the Christian Re­ligion, nor injure God and our Mediatour, or harden men in Infidelity, than by fathering your ill-shapen fictions on Christ, and calling them the Christian or Justifying Faith.

Direct. 29. Take not all doubts and fears of your salvation, to be the proper effects and signs of unbelief: Seeing that in many they arise from the misunderstanding of the meaning of Gods Promise, and in more, from the doubtfulness of their own quali­fications, rather than from any unbelief of the Promise, or distrust of Christ.

It is ordinary with ignorant Christians to say, that they cannot believe, because they doubt of their own sincerity and salvation: as thinking that it is the nature of true faith, to believe that they themselves are justified, and shall be saved; and that to doubt of this, is to doubt of the Promises, because they doubtingly apply it. Such distresses have false principles bought many to. But there are two other things besides the weakness of faith, which are usually the causes of all this. 1. Many mistake the meaning of Christs Covenant, and think that it hath no universality in it; and that he died only for the Elect, and promiseth pardon to none but the Elect (no not on the condition of believing.) And therefore thinking [Page 272] that they can have no assurance that they are Elect, they doubt of the conclusion.

And many of them think that the Promise extendeth not to such as they, because of some sin, or great unworthi­ness, which they are guilty of.

And others think that they have not that Faith and Repen­tance which are the condition of the promise of pardon and sal­vation: And in some of these the thing it self may be so ob­scure, as to be indeed the matter of rational doubtfulness. And in others of them, the cause may be either a mistake about the true nature and signs of Faith and Repentance; or else a timerous melancholy causeless suspition of themselves But which of all these soever be the cause, it is something different from proper unbelief or distrust of God. For he that mistaketh the extent of the Promise, and thinketh that it be­longeth not to such as he, would believe and trust it, if he un­derstood it, that it extends to him as well as others. And he that doubteth of his own Repentance and Faith, may yet be con­fident of the truth of Gods Promise to all true penitent Believers.

I mention this for the cure of two mischiefs: The first is that of the presumptuous Opinionist, who goeth to Hell pre­suming that he hath true saving faith, because he confidently believeth, that he himself is pardoned, and shall be saved. The second is that of the perplexed fearful Christian, who thinks that all his uncertainty of his own sincerity, and so of his salvation, is properly unbelief, and so concludeth that he cannot believe, and shall not be saved. Because he knoweth not that faith is such a belief and trust in Christ, as will bring us absolutely and unreservedly to venture our all upon him alone.

And yet I must tell all these persons, that all this while it is ten to one, but there is really a great deal of unbelief in them which they know not: and that their belief of the truth of the immortality of the soul, and the life to come, and of the Gospel it self, is not so strong and firm, as their never-doubting of it would intimate, or as some of their definitions of Faith, and their Book-opinions and Disputes import. And it had been well for some of them, that [Page 273] they had doubted more, that they might have believed, and been settled better.

Direct. 30. Think often of the excellencies of the life of faith, that the Motives may be still inducing you thereto.

As 1. It is but reasonable that God should be trusted; or else indeed we deny him to be God, Psal. 20 7.

2. What else shall we trust to? shall we deifie creatures, and say to a stock, Thou art my Father? Jer. 2.27. Lam. 1.19. Shall we distrust God, and trust a lyar and a worm?

3. Trying times will shortly come; and then woe to the soul that cannot trust in God! Then nothing else will serve our turns. Then cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and withdraweth his heart from the Lord, he shall be like the barren wilderness, &c. Then none that trusted in him shall be ashamed, Jer. 17.5, 6. Psal. 25.3, 4. Psal. 73.26, 27, 28.

4. Gods Alsufficiency leaveth no reason for the least distrust: There is the most absolute certainty that God cannot fail us, because his veracity is grounded on his essential perfe­ctions.

5. No witness could ever stand up against the life of faith, and say that he lost by trusting God, or that ever God deceived any.

6. The life of faith is a conquest of all that would distress the soul, and it is a life of constant peace and quietness: Yea it feasteth the soul upon the everlasting Joyes. Though the mountains be removed; though this world be turned upside down, and be dissolved; whether poverty or wealth, sickness or health, evil report or good, persecution or prosperity be­fall us; how little are we concerned in all this? and how little should they do to disturb the peace and comfort of that soul, who believeth that he shall live with God for ever. Ma­ny such considerations should make us more willing to live by faith upon Gods Promises, than to live by sense on transi­tory things.

Direct. 31. Renew your Covenant with Christ in his holy Sacrament, frequently, understandingly, and seriously.

For 1. when we renew our Covenant with Christ, then Christ reneweth his Covenant with us; and that with great [Page 274] advantage to our faith: 1. In an appointed Ordinance which he will bless. 2. By a special Minister appointed to seal and deliver it to us as in his Name. 3. By a solemn Sacramental Investiture.

2. And our own renewing our Covenant with him, is the renewed exercise of faith, which will tend to strengthen it, and to shew us that we are indeed Believers. And there is much in that Sacrament to help the strengthening of faith: There­fore the frequent and right using of it, is one of Gods ap­pointed means, to feed and maintain our spiritual life; which if we neglect, we wilfully starve our faith, 1 Cor. 11.26, 28, &c.

Direct. 32. Keep all your own promises to God and man▪

For 1. Lyars alwaies suspect others. 2. Guilt breedeth suspiciousness. 3. God in justice may leave you to your di­strust of him, when you will be perfidious your selves. You can never be confident in God, while you deal falsly with him or with others. The end of the Commandment is Charity out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned, 1 Tim. 1.5.

Direct. 33. Labour to improve your belief of every promise, for the increase of holiness and obedience: And to get more upon your souls that true Image of God in his Power, Wisdom and Goodness, which will make it easie to you to believe him.

1. The more the hypocrite seemeth to believe the promise, the more he boldly ventureth upon sin, and disobeyeth the precept; because it was but fear that restrained him; and his belief is but presumption abating fear. But the more a true Christian believeth, the more he flyeth from sin, and useth Gods means, and studieth more exact obedience; and having these promises, laboureth to cleanse himself from all filthiness of flesh and Spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, 2 Cor. 7.1. And receiving a Kingdom whih cannot be moved, me must serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, Heb. 12.28, 29.

2. The liker the soul is to God, the easier it will believe and trust him. As faith causeth holiness; so every part of holiness befriendeth faith. Now the three great impressions of the Trinity upon us are expressed distinctly by the Apostle, [Page 275] 2 Tim. 1.7. For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear, but of Power, of Love, and of a sound mind, [...]. Power, Love, and a sound mind or understand­ing, do answer Gods nature as the face in the glass doth answer our face, and therefore cannot chuse but trust him.

Direct. 34. Lay up in your memory particular pertinent and clear Promises, for every particular use of faith.

The number is not so much; but be sure that they be plain and well understood, that you may have no cause to doubt whether they mean any such thing indeed or not. Here some will expect that I should do this for them, and gather them such promises. Two things disswade me from doing it at large: 1. So many Books have done it already. 2. It will swell this Book too big: But take these few.

1. For forgiveness of all sins, and Justification to penitent Be­lievers.

Acts 5.31. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 13.38, 39. Be it known unto you, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses.

Acts 26.18. To open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified, by faith, that is in me.

1 John 1.9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Heb. 8.12. I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.

Acts 10.43. To him give all the Prophets witness, that through his Name, whoever believeth in him shall receive re­mission of sins.

Luke 24.47. That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his Name to all Nations.

2. Promises of Salvation from Hell, and possession of Heaven.

John 3.16. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not [Page 276] perish, but have everlasting life. v. 18. He that believeth on him is not condemned —v. 36. He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life, 1 John 5.11, 12. And this is the record that God hath given us, eternal life; and this is in his Son: He that hath the Son, hath life —

Acts 26.18. before cited, 1 Tim. 1.15. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Heb. 7.25. He is able to save to the utmost all that come to God by him.

Heb. 5.9. And being made perfect, he became the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.

Mark 16.16. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.

John 10.9. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.

John 10.27, 28. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I will give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish—

Rom. 5.9, 10. Being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him— Much more being re­conciled, we shall be saved by his life. See Luke 18 30. John 4.14. & 6.27, 40, 47. & 12.50. Rom. 6.22. Gal. 6.8. 1 Tim. 1.16.

3. Promises of Reconciliation, Adoption, and acceptance with God through Christ.

2 Cor. 5.18, 19, 20. God hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconcilia­tion; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are Ambassadours for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christs stead, be ye reconciled unto God: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Rom. 5.1, 2, 10. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith, into this grace wherein we stand, and re­joyce in hope of the glory of God —When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.

2 Cor. 6.16, 17, 18. I will dwell in them, and walk in [Page 277] them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people— I will receive you, and be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my Sons and Daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Rom. 8.1. There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

John 1.12. As many as received him, to them give he power to become the Sons of God; even to them that believe on his Name; which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the fl [...]sh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Acts 10.35. In every Nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him.

Ephes. 1 6 He hath made us accepted in the Beloved, Ephes. 2.14, 16. Col. 1.20.

John 16.27. The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and believed that I came out from God.

4. Promises of renewed Pardon of sins after conversion.

1 John 2.12. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.

Matth. 6.14. Forgive us our trespasses —For if we forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you—

James 5.15. If he have committed sins, they shall be for­given him.

Matth. 12.31. I say unto you, All manner of sin and blas­phemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit—

Psal. 103.3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities—

1 John 1.9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins—

5. Promises of the Spirit of Sanctification to Believers; and of divine assistances of grace.

Luke 11.13. How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.

John 7.37, 38, 39. If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink: He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water: This he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him shall re­ceive—

[Page 278] John 4.10, 14. If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is—thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living waters—

Ezek. 36.26, 27. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh: and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes—

Ezek. 11.19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you—

Acts 2.38, 39 Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Gal. 4.6. And because you are Sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father.

Prov. 1.23. Turn you at my reproof; behold I will pour out my Spirit unto you; I will make known my words unto you—

Rom. 8.26 Likewise the Spirit helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit it self maketh intecerssion for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered.

6. Promises of Gods giving his grace to all that truly desire and seek it.

Matth. 5 6. Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Isa. 55.1. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no mony: come ye, buy and eat, yea come, buy wine and milk without mony and without price—Hearken diligently to me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight it self in fatness. Encline your ear, and come unto me; hear and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—v. 6. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near—

Rev. 22.17. Let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

[Page 279]7. Promises of Gods giving us all that we pray for according to his promises and will.

Mat. 7.7, 8, 11. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: for every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened—If ye being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven, give good things to them that ask him?

Matth. 6.6. Pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

John 14.13, 14. & 15.16. & 16.23. John 15.7. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

1 John 5.14, 15. And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he hear­eth us. And if we know that he heareth us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we desired of him.

1 John 3.22. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his Commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in his sight.

Prov. 15.8, 29. The prayer of the upright is his delight— He heareth the prayer of the righteous.

1 Pet. 3.12. The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers —

8. That God will accept weak prayers and groans, which want expressions, if they be sincere.

Rom. 8.26, 27. The Spirit helpeth our infirmities—The Spirit it self maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered: And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what is the mind of the spirit.

Gal. 4.6. —Crying, Abba, Father.

Psal. 77.3. I remembred God, and was troubled, and my spirit was overwhelmed—

Psal. 38.9. Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groan­ing is not hid from thee.

Luke 18.14. God be merciful to me a sinner.

9. Promises of all things in general which we want, and which are truly for our good.

[Page 280] Psal. 84.11. For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he with­hold from them that walk uprightly.

Psal. 34.9, 10. O fear the Lord ye his Saints; for there is no want to them that fear him—They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

Rom. 8 28, 32 All things work together for good to them that love God— He that spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Matth. 6.33. Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righ­teousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

2 Pet. 1.3. According as his divine power hath given us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

1 Tim. 4.8. But godliness is profitable to all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

10 Promises of a bl [...]ssing on them that sincerely hear and read Gods Word, and use his Sacraments and other means.

Isa. 55.3. Encline your ear and come unto me; hear and your souls shall live.

Read the Eunuchs conversion, in Acts 8. who was reading the Scripture in his Chariot.

1 Pet. 2.1. Laying aside all malice, and all guile and hy­pocrisie, and envies, and evil speakings, as new born babes de­sire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

Rev. 1.3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this Prophecy, and keep those things that are writ­ten therein.

Psal. 1.1, 2. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly—But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in his Law doth he meditate day and night.

Matth. 7.24, 25. Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doth them, I will liken him to a wise man, that built his house upon a rock, &c.

Luke 8.21. Rather blessed are they that hear the Word of God and do it.

Luke 10.42. Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken from her.

[Page 281] Mark 4.23, 24. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear—And unto you that hear shall more be given—

Acts 11.14. Who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy houshold shall be saved.

1 Tim. 4.16. Take heed to thy self and unto the doctrine, and continue therein; for in doing this thou shalt both save thy self, and them that hear thee.

Psal. 89.15. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound! they shall walk O Lord in the light of thy counte­nance; in thy Name shall they rejoyce all the day—

Heb. 4.12. The Word of God is quick and powerful, &c.

1 Cor. 10.16. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

Matth. 18.20. For where two or three are gathered toge­ther in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.

Isa. 4.5. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her Assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defence.

11. Promises to the humble, meek and lowly.

Matth. 5.3, 4, 5. Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.

Matth. 11.28, 29. Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoak up­on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls: for my yoak is easie, and my burden is light.

Psal. 34.18. The Lord is nigh to them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Psal. 51.17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Isa. 57.15. For thus faith the high and lofty One that in­habiteth eternity, whose Name is holy, I dwell in height and holiness (or in the high and holy place) with him also that is of a contrite spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

[Page 282] Isa. 66.2. To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my Word.

Luke 4.18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, and to set at li­berty them that are bruised—

James 4.6. He giveth grace to the humble.

Matth. 18.4. Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matth. 23.12. He that shall humble himself shall be ex­alted.

James 4.10. Humble your selves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Prov. 3.34. He giveth grace to the lowly.

12. Promises to the peaceable and peace-makers.

Matth. 5.9. Blessed are the peace-makers; for they shall be called the children of God.

James 3.17, 18. The wisdom from above is first pure▪ then peaceable, gentle, easie to be intreated— And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, of them that make peace.

2 Cor. 13.11. Be perfect; be of good comfort; be of one mind; live in peace; and the God of Love and Peace shall be with you.

Prov. 12.20. To the councellours of peace is joy.

Rom. 15.33. & 16.20. Phil. 4.9. The God of peace shall be with you, &c. shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly— Grace and Peace are the blessing of Saints.

13. Promises to the diligent and laborious Christian.

Heb. 11.6. He that cometh to God, must believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Prov. 13.4. The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

1 Cor. 15.58. Be stedfast, unmoveable, alwaies abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your la­bour is not in vain in the Lord.

2 Pet. 1.10. Give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fail.

2 Pet. 1.5, 8. Giving all diligence, add to your faith, ver­tue, [Page 283] and to vertue knowledge, &c. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren, nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

2 Cor. 5.9. Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

Matth. 6.33. Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righ­teousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

1 Cor. 3.8. Every man shall receive his own reward, ac­cording to his own labour.

Matth. 11.12. The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. See Prov. 3.13, &c. & 4. to 14. & 6.20, &c. & 7.1, &c. & 8, & 9. throughout.

14. Promises to the patient waiting Christian.

Heb. 6.11, 12. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end, that ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

James 1.3, 4. Knowing that the trying of your faith work­eth patience; but let patience have its perfect work; that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Psal. 27.14. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.

Psal. 37.7, 9, 34. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him—Those that wait on the Lord shall inherit the earth. Wait on the Lord, and keep his way; and he shall exa [...] thee to inherit the Land.

Prov. 20 22. Wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.

Isa. 30.18. Blessed are all they that wait for him.

Isa. 40.31. They that wait on the [...] renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as Eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not be faint.

Isa. 49.23. They shall not be ashamed that wait for me.

Lam. 3.25. The Lord is good to them that wait for him; to the soul that seeketh him. 26. It is good that a man should both hope, and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.

Rom. 8.25. But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Gal. 5.5. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

[Page 284]2 Thes. 3.5. The Lord direct your hearts into the Love of God, and the patient waiting for Christ.

Rom. 2.7. To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honour and immortality, eternal life.

Heb. 10.36. Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye may inherit the promise.

15. Promises to sincere Obedience.

Rev. 22.14. Blessed are they that do his Command­ments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gate into the City.

John 3.22. Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his Commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. v. 24. He that keepeth his Command­ments, dwelleth in him, and he in him.

John 14.21. He that hath my Commandments, and keep­eth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest my self to him.

John 15.10. If ye keep my Commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Fathers Command­ments, and abide in his love.

1 Cor. 7.19. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the Commandments of God. See Psal. 112.1. & 119.6. Prov. 1.20, 21, 22, &c. Isa. 48.18. Psal. 19.8, 9▪ &c.

Heb. 5.9. He became the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.

Rev. 14.12. Here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the [...] of Jesus.

1 John 5.3. For this is the Love of God, that we keep his Commandments.

Eccles. 12.13, 14. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his Commandments; for this is the whole duty of man; for God shall bring every work un­to judgement, &c.

Matth. 5.8. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

James 2.24. You see then how that by works a man is ju­stified, and not by faith only.

[Page 285] Rom. 2.6, 7, 10. Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life—Glory, honour and peace to every man that worketh good—

Acts 10.35. In every Nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Rom. 6.16. Of obedience unto righteousness.

1 John 3.7. He that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

James 3.18. The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace.

Gal. 6.8. He that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit [...]ap life everlasting.

Rom. 8.13. If by the Spirit ye mortifie the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

16. Promises to them that love God.

Rom. 8.28. All things work together for good to them that love God.

1 Cor. 2.9. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entred into the heart of man, the things which God hath pre­pared for them that love him.

James 1.12. He shall receive the Crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.

James 2.5. Rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom, which God hath promised to them that love him.

John 14.21. He that loveth me, shall be loved of my Fa­ther, and I will love him, and will manifest my self to him.

Prov. 8.17. I love them that love me.

John 14.15. If ye love me, keep my Commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Com­forter, that he may abide with you for ever.

John 16.27. The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and believed—

17. Promises to them that love the godly, and that are mer­ciful, and do the works of love.

John 13.35. By this shall all men know, that ye are my Disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Gal. 5.6, 13, 22. In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which [Page 286] worketh by love— By love serve one another; for all the Law is fulfilled in one word; in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suf­fering, gentleness, goodness— Against such there is no Law.

Heb. 6.10. God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love.

1 John 3.14. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. 18. My little children, l [...]t us not love in word, nor tongue, but in deed and in truth: And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall as­sure our hearts before him.

1 John 4.7. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God— v. 16. God is Love, and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. v. 12. If we love one ano­ther, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

2 Cor. 9.7. God loveth a chearful giver. v. 6. He that soweth bountifully, shall reap bountifully—

Mat. 5.7. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Matth. 10.41, 42. He that receiveth a Prophet in the name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophets reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous mans reward. And whosoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones, a cup of cold wa­ter only in the name of a Disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

Matth. 25.34, 40, 46. Come ye blessed of my Father, in­herit the Kingdom—Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me—The righteous shall go into life eternal.

Heb. 13.16. But to do good, and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Phil. 4.17. I desire fruit which may abound to your ac­count.

2 Cor. 9.9. As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor; his righteousness remaineth for ever.

18. Promises to the poor and needy Christians.

Matth. 6.30, 32, 33. If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the Oven, [...] he [Page 287] not much more clothe [...] O ye of little faith? Your heaven­ly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Heb. 13.5. Let your conversations be without covetous­ness, and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never fail thee nor forsake thee.

James 2.5. Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom?

Psal. 34.10. They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

Psal. 23.1. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Psal. 4.19. My God shall supply all your need.

Phil. 4.11, 12, 13, I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; every where, and in all things I am instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound, and to suffer need.

Psal 9.18. The needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

19. Promises to the oppressed and wronged Christian.

Psal. 12.5, 6, 7. For the oppression of the poor, and for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord: I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him—Thou shalt keep them O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this ge­neration for ever.

Psal. 35.10. All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him; yea the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him.

Psal. 40.17. But I am poor and needy, yet the Lord think­eth on me; thou art my helper and deliverer.

Psal. 42.2, 4, 12, 13. He shall judge thy people with righ­teousness; and thy poor with judgement—He shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy; and shall break in pieces the oppressor. For he shall deliver the needy when he cryeth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy: He shall redeem their souls from [Page 288] deceit and violence, and precious [...]all their blood be in his sight.

Psal. 113.7. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill. See Isa. 25.3, 4, 5. & 14.30. Zech. 9.8. Isa. 51.13.

Eccles. 5.8. If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgement and justice in a Province, mar­vel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest, regardeth; and there be higher than they.

20. Promises to the persecuted who suffer for righteousness.

Matth. 5.10, 11, 12. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsly, for my sake. Re­joyce and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Hea­ven: for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you.

Matth. 10.28, 29, 30, 31, 32. Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul—Are not two Sparrows sold for a farthing, and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father: But the very hairs of your head are all numbered: Fear you not therefore; ye are of more value than many Sparrows. Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Hea­ven — v. 39. He that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it.

Matth. 19.29. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my Names sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

2 Thes. 1.4, 5, 6. Your patience and faith in all your perse­cutions and tribulations which ye suffer, is a manifest token of the righteous judgement of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompence tribu­lation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us—when Christ shall come to be glorified in his Saints, and admired in all them that believe—

Acts 9.4. Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Read Rom. 8.28. to the end, & Rev. 2. & 3d. & Heb. 11. & 12.

[Page 289]1 Cor. 10.13. There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

2 Tim. 2.9, 10, 11, 12. I suffer trouble as an evil doer unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound: I endure all things for the Elects sake—It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.

Rom. 8.17, 18. If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the suffer­ings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory ready to be revealed on us.

2 Cor. 4.17. For our light affliction which is but for a mo­ment, worketh for us a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory.

1 Pet. 3.14, 15. But if ye suffer for righteousness sake, hap­py are ye: and be not afraid of their terrour, neither be troubled. Read 1 Pet. 4.12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19. Rom. 5.1, 2, 3, 4.

1 Pet. 5.10. The God of all grace, who hath called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish strengthen, settle you—

21. Promises to the faithful in dangers, daily and ordinary, or extraordinary.

Psal. 34.7. The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him; and delivereth them. v. 17. The righte­ous cry, and the Lord heareth and delivereth them out of all their troubles. v. 19, 20, 22. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones, nor one of them is broken. The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants; and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Psal. 91.1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high, shall abide under the tabernacle of the Almighty. v. 2, 3. I will say to the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress▪ my God, in him will I trust—Surely he will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome Pestilence— v. 5. [Page 290] Thou shalt not be afraid for the terrour by night— v. 11, 12, For he shall give his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy waies. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone, Read the whole

Psal. 121.2, 3, 4, 5 6 7, 8. My help cometh from the Lord, which made Heaven and Earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; he that keepeth thee will not slumber—The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand: The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul. The Lo [...]d shall preserve thy going out, and coming in, from this time forth, and even for ever more.

Psal. 145.20. The Lord preserveth all them that love him —

Psal. 31.23 & 97.10. & 116.6. Prov. 2.8. Isa. 43.2. When thou passest thorow the waters I will be with thee—

1 Pet. 5.7. Casting all your care on him; for he careth for you.

22. Promises f [...]r help against Temptations, to believers.

1 Cor. 10.13. before cited, 2 Pet. 2.9. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations.

Compare Matth. 4. where Christ was tempted even to worship the Devil, &c. with Heb. 4.15. & 2.18. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, with­out sin—Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, in things God-ward for us— For in that he him­self hath suffered b [...]ing tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

James 1.2. My Brethren, count it all ioy when ye fall into divers temptations (that is, by sufferings for Christ.) v. 12. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tryed, he shall receive the Crown of life.

2 Cor. 12.9. My grace is sufficient for thee: My strength is made perfect in weakness.

Phil. 4.13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

1 Pet. 5.9. Whom resist, stedfast in the faith: with v. 10.

James 4.7. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Eph. 6.10, 11, &c.

[Page 291] Rom. 6.14. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace.

John 16.33. Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

1 John 5.4. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

23. Promises to them that overcome and persevere.

Rev. 2.7. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

V. 11. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

V. 17. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden Manna, and will give him a white stone, &c. V. 10. Be faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown of life.

V. 26, 28 He that overcometh and keepeth my words un­to the end, to him will I give power over the Nations, and he shall rule them with a Rod of Iron—Even as I received of my Father: and I will give him the morning star.

Rev. 3 5. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white rayment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his Angels. V. 12. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: And I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the City of my God, New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of Heaven from my God, and my new name.

V. 21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit down with me on my Throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with my Father on his Throne.

John 8.31. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my Disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Col. 1.22, 23. To present you holy and unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight; If ye continue in the faith, ground­ed and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel—

John 15.7. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

[Page 292] Matth. 10.22. He that endureth to the end shall be saved.

24. Promises to believers in sickness and at death.

1 Cor. 11.32. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Heb. 12.6, 7, 8, 11. For whom the Lord loveth, he chasten­eth, and scourgeth every Son whom he receiveth: If ye en­dure chastening, God dealeth with you as with Sons—Shall we not be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live—But he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness: No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grie­vous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.

James 5.14. Is any sick, let them send for the Elders of the Church—The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

John 11.3. He whom thou lovest is sick—

Psal. 41.1, 2, 3. Blessed is the man that considereth the poor: the Lord shall deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord shall preserve him and keep him alive—The Lord will strengthen him upon the b [...]d of languishing: Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.

2 Cor. 5.1, &c. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens. For in this we groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon, with our house which is from Heaven—For we that are in us taber­nacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallow­ed up of life. Now he that hath wrought this for the self same thing is God; who also hath given to us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are alwaies confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. (For we walk by faith, not by sight) we are confident I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Phil. 1.20, 21, 23, Now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For to me to [Page 293] live is Christ, and to die is gain—I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.

Luke 23.43. To day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.

Rev. 14.13. I heard a voice from Heaven, saying to me, write, Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord, from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.

Heb. 2.14. Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil; and deliver them who through fear of death, were all their life time subject to bondage.

Psal. 68.20. He that is our God, is the God of salvation, and to God the Lord belong the issues from death.

2 Tim. 1.10. Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel.

1 Cor. 15.54. O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the Law: but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

25. Promises to persevering Believers, of the Resurrection unto life, and of Justification in Judgement, and of Glorification.

1 Cor. 15. throughout. John 5.22, 24, 28, 29. He that hear­eth my Word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath ever­lasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life—The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves, shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.

John 14.19. Because I live, ye shall live also.

Col. 3.1, 3, 4. If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth: For ye are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

2 Thes. 1.10. He shall come to be glorified in his Saints, and admired in all them that believe.

[Page 294] Matth. 25 34, 46. Come ye blessed, &c. The righteous in­to life eternal.

John 12.26. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be. If my man serve me, him will my Father honour.

John. 14.1, 2, 3. Let not your heart be troubled—In my Fathers house are many mansions— I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to my self, that where I am, there ye may be also.

John· 17.24. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold the glory which thou hast given me.

John 2.17. GO TO MY BRETHREN, and SAY ƲN­TO THEM, I ASCEND TO MY FATHER, and YOƲR FATHER, TO MY GOD, and TO YOƲR GOD.

1 Cor. 6.2, 3. Know ye not that the Saints shall judge the world? Know ye not that we shall judge Angels?

Acts 3.19. Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the time of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ—

Luke 14.14. Thou shalt be recompensed at the resur­rection of the just.

Let the Reader here take notice of that most important observa­tion of Dr. Hammond, that [...], the Resurrection, doth often signifie, in general [our living in the next world, or our next state of life] in the Scriptures; and not the last Resurrection on­ly, unless it be called, The Resurrection of the flesh, or of the body for distinction; or the context have before explained it other­wise. By which 1 Cor. 15. and Christs answer to the Sad­ducees, may be the better understood.

26. Promises to the godly for their children, supposing them to be faithful in dedicating them to God, and educating them in his holy waies.

Exod. 20. Commandment 2d. Shewing mercy to thousands in them that love me, and keep my Commandments.

Acts 2.39. For the promise is made to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, &c.

Psal. 37.26. His seed is blessed.

[Page 295]1 Cor. 7.14. Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy.

Matth. 23.37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft would I have gathered thy children together, even as a Hen gathereth hee chickens under her wings, and ye would not.

Rom. 11.11. Through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles, 16, 17, 18, &c. shew, that they were broken off by unbelief, and we are graffed in, and are holy as they were.

Matth. 28.19, 20. Go and Disciple all Nations, baptizing them, &c.

Rom. 4.16. That the promise might be sure to all the seed. And 9.8. The children of the Promise are counted for the seed.

Matth. 19.13, 14. Jesus said, suffer little children, and for­bid them not to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

27. Promises to the Church, of its increase, and preservation, and perfection.

Rev. 11.15. The Kingdoms of the world are become the Kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ.

Luke 1.33. He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his Kingdom there shall be no end.

Matth. 13.31, 33. The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of Mustard-seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which is indeed the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air lodge in the branches of it—The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was levened.

John 12.32. And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men un­to me.

Dan. 2.44. In the daies of these Kings, shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the Kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces, and consume all these Kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

Matth. 16.18. Upon this Rock will I build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

Ephes. 4.12, 16. For the perfecting of the Saints; for the [Page 296] work of the Ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man; unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that henceforth we may be no more children tossed to and fro, and carryed about with every wind of Doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lye in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, who is the head, Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joyned together and compacted, by that which every joynt supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body to the edifying of it self in Love.

Ephes. 5.25, 26, 27. Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctifie and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the Word; that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinckle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish. Read Rev. 21, & 22.

Matth. 28.20. Lo, I am with you to the end of the world.

Matth. 24.14. And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all Nations; and then shall the end come.

Matth. 21.44. Whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

The obscure Prophetick passages I pass by.

So much for living by Faith on the Promises of God.

CHAP. VI. How Faith must be exercised on Gods Threatnings and Judg­ments.

THE exercise of Faith upon Gods Threatnings and Judgments, must be guided by such rules and helps as these.

Direct. 1. Think not either that Christ hath no Threatning penal Laws, or that there are none which are made for the use of Believers.

If there were no penalties, or penal Laws, there were no distinguishing Government of the world. This Antinomian fan­cy destroyeth Religion. And if there be threats, or penal Laws, none can be expected to make so much use of them as true Believers. 1. Because he that most believeth them, must needs be most affected with them. 2. Because all things are for them, and for their benefit; and it is they that must be moved by them to the fear of God, and an escaping of the punish­ment.

And therefore they that object, that Believers are passed al­ready from death to life; and there is no condemnation to them; and they are already justified, and therefore have no use of threats or fears] do contrad [...]ct themselves: For it w [...]ll rather follow Therefore they and they only do and will faithfully use the threat­nings in godly fears.] For 1. Though they are justified, and passed from death to life, they have ever faith, in order of na­ture before their Justification; and he that believeth not Gods threatnings with fear, hath no true Faith. And 2. They have ever inherent Righteousness or Sanctification, with their Ju­stification: And this Faith is part of that holiness, and of the life of grace which they are passed into. For this is life eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, John 17.3. And he knoweth not God, who knoweth him not to be true. And this is part of our knowledge of Christ also, to know him as the infallible Author of our Faith, that is, of the Gospel, which saith not only, He that believeth and is baptiz'd, shall be saved; but also, He that believeth not shall be damned, Mark 16.16. And [Page 298] this is the record which God gave of his Son, which he that be­lieveth not, maketh him a lyar; that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son: He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son, hath not life, 1 John 5.12. Yea as he that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; so he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him, John 3.36. And therefore 3. The reason why there is no condemnation to us, is because believing, not part only, but all this Word of Christ, we fly from sin and wrath, and are in Christ Jesus, as giving up our selves to him, and walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit; being moved so to do both by the promises and threats of God. This is plain English, and plain and necessary truth, the greater is the pitty, that many honest, well-meaning Antinomians should fight against it, on an ignorant conceit of vindicating Free Grace: If the plain Word of God were not through partiality over-lookt by them, they might see enough to end the controversie in many and full expressions of Scripture. I will cite but three more, Matth. 10.28. and Luke 12.5. But fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell; or when he hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell; yea I say unto you, fear him. Doth Christ thus iterate that it is he that saith it, and saith it to his Disciples; and yet shall a Christian say, it must not be preached to Disciples as the Word of Christ to them?

H [...]b. 4.1. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Heb. 11.7. By Faith Noah being warned of God, of things not seen as yet (that is, of the deluge) moved with fear, prepared an Ark, to the saving of his house; by the which be condemned the world▪ and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Note here how much the belief of Gods threatnings doth to the constitution of that faith which is justifying and saving.

Direct. 2. Judge not of Gods threatnings by the evil which is threatned, but by the obedience to which the threatnings should drive us, and the evil from which they would preserve us, and the order of the world which they preserve, and the wisdom, and ho­liness, and justice of God; which they demonstrate.

When men think how dreadful a misery Hell is, they are [Page 299] ready to think hardly of God, both for his threatning and exe­cution; as if it were long of him, and not of themselves, that they are miserable. And as it is a very hard thing to think of the punishment it self with approbation; so is it also to think of the threatning, or Law which binds men over to it; or of the Judgement which will pass the sentence on them. But think of the true nature, use and benefits of these threats or pena [...] Laws, and true reason, and faith will not only be re­conciled to them; but see that they are to be loved and ho­noured, as well as feared. 1. They are of great use to drive us to obedience. And it is easier to see the amiableness of Gods commands, than of his threats: And obedience to these com­mands, is the holy rectitude, health and beauty of the soul. And therefore that which is a suitable and needful means, to promote obedience, is amiable and beneficial to us. Though Love must be the principle or chief spring of our obedience; yet he that knoweth not that Fear must drive, as Love must draw, and is necessary in its place to joyn with Love, or to do that which the weaknesses of Love leave undone, doth neither know what a man is, nor what Gods Word is, nor what his Government is, nor what either Magistracy, or any civil, or domestical Government is▪ and therefore should spend many years at School before he turneth a disputer.

2. They are of use to keep up order in the world; which could not be expected if it were not for Gods threatnings. If the world be so full of wickedness, rapine and oppressions, not­withstanding all the threatnings of Hell, what could we expect it should be, if there were none such, but even as the suburbs of Hell it self. When Princes, and Lords, and Rich men, and all those thieves and rebels that can but get strength enough to defend themselves, and all that can but hide their faults, would be under no restraints considerable, but would do all the evil that they have a mind to do: Men would be worse to one another, than Bears and Tygers.

3. Gods threatnings in their primary intention or use, are made to keep us from the punishment threatned. Punishment is naturally due to evil doers: And God declareth it, to give us warning, that we may take heed, avoid it and escape.

4. That which doth so clearly demonstrate the Holiness of [Page 300] God, in his righteous Government, his Wisdom and his Justice is certainly good and amiable in it self. But we must not expect that the same thing should be good and amiable to the wicked, who run themselves into it; which is good to the world, or to the just about them, or to the honour of God. Assizes, Prisons and Gallows are good to the Country, and to all the innocent, to preserve their peace, and to the honour of the King and his Government; but not to murderers, thieves or rebels, Isa. 26.7, 8, 9. Psal. 48.11. & 9.16. & 89.14. & 97.2. & 149.9. & 146.7. & 37.6, 28. Jude 6. & 15. Rev. 4.7. & 15.4. & 16.7. & 19.2. Eccles. 12.14.

Direct. 3. Judge of the severity of Gods threatnings, partly by the greatness of himself whom we offend, and partly by the neces­sity of them for the Government of the world.

1. Remember that sinning wilfully against the infinite Ma­jesty of Heaven, and refusing his healing mercy to the last, deserveth worse than any thing against a man can do, 1 Sam. 2.25.

2. And remember that even the threatning of Hell doth not serve turn with most of the world, to keep them from sinning and despising God: and therefore you cannot say that they are too great. For that plaister draweth not too strongly, which will not draw out the thorn. If Hell be not terrible enough to perswade you from sin, it is not too terrible to be threatned and executed: He that should say, Why will God make so terrible a Law? and withall should say, As terrible as it is I will venture on it, rather than leave my pleasures, and ra­ther than live a holy life; doth contradict himself, and telleth us, that the Law is not terrible enough to attain its chief and primary end, with such as he, that will not be moved by it, from the most sordid, base or bruitish pleasure.

Direct. 4. Remember how Christ himself, even when he came to deliver us from Gods Law, did yet come to verifie his threatning in the matter of it, and to be a sacrifice for sin, and publick de­monstration of Gods Justice.

For this end was Christ manifested, to destroy the works of the Devil, 1 John 3.5, 8. And the first and great work of the De­vil was, to represent God as a lyar, and to perswade Eve not to believe his threatnings, and to tell her, that though she [Page 301] sinned, she should not die. And though God so far dispensed with it, as to forgive man the greatest part of the penalty, it was by laying it on his Redeemer; and making him a sacri­fice to his Justice: that his Cross might openly confute the Tempter, and assure the world, that God is just, and that the wages of sin is death, Rom. 6.23. though eternal life be the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

And he that well considereth this, that the Son of God would rather stoop to sufferings and death, than the D [...]vils reproach of Gods threatnings should be made true, and than the Justice of God against sin should not be manifested, will sure never think, that this Justice is any dishonour to the Almighty.

Direct. 5. Let this be your use of the threatnings of God, to drive you from sin to more careful obedience, and to help you against the defects of love, and to set them against every temptation when you are assaulted by it.

When a tempting bait is set before you, set Hell against it, as well as Heaven; and say, Can I take this cup, this whore, this preferment, this gain of Judas, with Hell, for my part instead of Heaven? If men threaten death, imprisonment, or any other penalty; or if losses or reproaches be like by men to be made your reward, remember that God threatneth Hell, and ask whether this be not the most intollerable suffer­ing.

And if any Antinomian revile you for thus doing, and say [You should set only Free Grace before you, to keep you from sinning, and not hell and damnation] Tell him that it is Christ the Mediatour of Free Grace, which hath set Hell before you in the Scripture, and not you: And that you do but consider of that which Christ hath set there before you to be considered of. Ask them whether it be not God that prepared hell for the Devil and his Angels, and Christ himself that will adjudge all impenitent sinners to it, Matth. 25. And ask them why Christ doth so often talk of it in the Gospel, Matth. 13. of the worm that never dyeth, and the fire that never shall be quenched, Luke 19.27. Mark 16.16. John 3.36. 2 Thes. 1.8▪ 9. &c. And whether they know why Fear was given to man; and whe­ther Christ mistook in all such commands, Luke 12.4. Heb. 11.7. Heb. 4.1. And whether God hath made any part of his Laws in vain.

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[Page 302]If they say, that the Law was not made for a righteous man, 1 Tim. 1.9. Tell them that the words are expounded, Gal. 5.23. Against such there is no Law. The Law was not made to condemn and punish a righteous man; because he feared the threatning of it, and so fell not under the condemnation. If you speak of the Law of Christ, or any Law which supposeth the subject righteous: There is no Law can be pleaded against such to their damnation. That there is no Law against them is but as Rom. 8.1. There is no condemnation to them. And we grant also, that in that measure as mens souls are habituated with love to God, and duty, and hatred of sin, they need no Law to urge and threaten them; no more than a loving wife need to have a Law to forbid her murdernig her husband, or abusing him. But withall we know, that no man on earth is perfect in the degrees of Love; and therefore all need Laws and fear.

Use all Gods penal Laws to the ends that he appointed them, to quicken you in your obedience, and restrain you from yielding to temptations, and from sinning, and then your own benefit will reconcile you to the Wisdom, Holiness, and Justice of the Laws.

Direct. 6. Remember that all Christians have solemnly professed their own consent, to the threats and punishments of the Gospel.

Though God will punish sinners whether they consent or not; and though none consent to the execution upon themselves, when it comes to it; yet all that profess Christianity do pro­fess their consent to the condemning, as well as to the justify­ing part of Gods Word. For every Christian professeth his consent to be governed by Christ; and therefore he professeth his consent to be governed by Christs Laws: For if Christ be a King, he must have Laws: and if he govern us at all, he go­verneth us by Laws. And this is Christs Law; He that be­lieveth, and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned, Mark 16.16. He that professeth to be governed by Christ, professeth his consent to be governed by this very Law: and therefore he professeth his consent to be damned if he believe not. Christ told you that you must consent to both parts, or to neither: and will you grudge at the severity of that Law which you have professed your consent to? The curses of the Covenant (Deut. 29.21.) were to be repeated to the people [Page 303] of Israel; and they were expresly to say Amen to each of them. For life and death were set before them; blessings and cursings, Deut. 30.1, 19. and not life and blessings alone. And so the Gospel which we are to believe, containeth though principally and eminently the Promises; yet secondarily also the threatnings of Hell to impenitent unbelievers. And our consent doth speak our approbation.

Direct. 7. Observe that the belief of Christs threatnings of dam­nation to impenitent unbelievers, is a real part of the Christian saving Faith, and that when ever it is joyned with a true love and desire after holiness, it certainly proveth that the Promises also are believed, though the party think that he doth not believe them.

Note here 1. That I do not say, that all belief or fear of Gods threatnings is saving Faith. But 2. That all saving Faith containeth such a belief of the threatnings. 3. And that many times poor Christians, who believe and tremble at the threat­nings, do truly believe the Promises, and yet mistake, and ve­rily think that they do not believe them. 4. But their mi­stake may certainly be manifested, if their Faith do but work by a love and desire after holiness, and the fruition of God.

For 1. It is evident that the same Gospel which saith, He that believeth shall be saved; doth say, He that believeth not shall be damned. Therefore the same faith believeth both, 2. It is plain that the same formal object of faith, which is Gods Veracity, will bring a man to believe one as well as the other, if he equally know it to be a divine revelation: He that be­lieveth that All that God saith is true: and then believeth that God saith that All true Believers shall be saved; must needs be­lieve that this Promise is true. And he that understandeth that Christ saith, Ʋnbelievers shall be damned; cannot but find also that he saith, True Believers shall be saved. And if he believe the one, because it is the word of Christ; he doth sure believe the other, because it is the word of Christ. 3. Yea it is in ma­ny respects harder to believe Gods threatnings, than his pro­mises; partly because sinners are more unwilling that they should be true; and they have more enmity to the threatning, than to the promise; and partly because they commonly feign God to be such as they would have him be, Psal. 50. Thou [Page 304] thoughtest I was such a one as thy self, &c. And partly because Gods Goodness being known to be his very essence, and all men being apt to judge of Goodness, by the measure of their own interest, it is far more obvious and facil to mans under­standing, to conclude that some are saved, than that some are damned; and that the penitent believers are saved, than that the impenitent unbelievers are damned: We hear daily how ea­sily almost all men are brought to believe that God is merciful; and how hard it is to perswade them of his damning Justice and severity. Therefore he that can do the harder, is not un­like to do the easier.

And indeed it is meer ignorance of the true nature of faith, which maketh those whom I am now describing, to think that they do not believe Gods Promises, when they believe his Threatnings. They think that because they believe not that they themselves are pardoned, justified, and shall be saved, that therefore they believe not the promise of God: But this is not the reason; but it is because you find not the condition of the promise yet in your selves, and therefore think that you have no part in the benefits: But its one thing to doubt of your own sincerity, and another thing to doubt whether the promise of God be true. Suppose that the Law do pardon a fellon if he can read as a Clerk; and one that is a fellon be in doubt whether his reading will serve or not; this is not to deny belief to the pardoning act of the Law. Suppose one promise a yearly stipend to all that are of full one and twenty years of age, in the Town or Country: To doubt of my age, is not to doubt of the truth of the promise.

Object. But do not Protestant Divines conclude against the Papists, that saving Faith must be a particular application of Christ and the Promise to ourselves, and not only a general assent?

Answ. It is very true; and the closer that application is the better. But the application which all sound Divines (in this point) require as necessary in saving Faith, is neither an assu­rance, nor perswasion that your own sins are already pardoned, or that they ever will be: But it is 1. A belief that the Pro­mise of pardon to all believers, is so universal, as that it in­cludeth you as well as others, and promiseth and offereth you pardon, and life, if you will believe in Christ. 2. And it is a [Page 305] consent or willingness of heart that Christ be yours, and you be his, to the ends proposed in the Gospel. 3. And it is a practical Trust in his sufficiency, as chusing him for the only Mediatour, resolving to venture your souls, and all your hopes upon him: Though yet through your ignorance of your selves, you may think that you do not this thing in sincerity, which indeed you do, yea and much fear (through melancholy or temptation) that you never shall do it, and consequently never shall be saved.

He that doubteth of his own salvation, not because he doubteth of the truth of the Gospel; but because he doubteth of the sincerity of his own heart, may be mistaken in himself, but is not therefore an unbeliever (as is said before.)

If you would know whether you believe the Promises truly, answer me these particular questions: 1. Do you believe that God hath promised that all true Believers shall be saved? 2. Do you believe that if you are or shall be a true Believer, you shall be saved? 3. Do you chuse or desire God as your on­ly happiness and end, to be enjoyed in Heaven, and Christ as the only Mediatour to procure it; and his holy Spirit as his Agent in your souls, to sanctifie you fully to the Image of God? Are you truly willing that thus it should be? And if God be willing, will not you refuse it? 4. Do you turn away from all other waies of felicity, and chuse this alone, to venture all your hopes upon, and resolve to seek for none but this; and to venture all on God and Christ, though yet you are uncertain of your sincerity and salvation? why this makes up true saving faith.

5. And I would further ask you; Do you fear damnation, and Gods wrath, or not? If not, what troubleth you? and why complain you? If you do, tell me then whether you do believe Gods threatning, that he that believeth not shall be damned, or not? If you do not, what maketh you fear dam­nation? Do you fear it, and not believe that there is any such thing? If you do believe it, how can you chuse but be­lieve also, that every true Believer shall be saved? Is God true in his Threatnings, and not in his Promises? This must force you plainly to confess, that you do believe Gods Promises, but only doubt of your own sincerity, and consequently of your salvation; which is more a weakness in your hope, than in your [Page 306] faith, or rather chiefly in your acquaintance with your self.

Direct. 8. Yet still dwell most upon Gods Promises in the ex­ercise of love, desire and thankfulness; and use all your fear about the threatnings, but in a second place, to further and not to hinder the work of love.

Direct. 9. Let faith interpret all Gods Judgements, meerly by the light of the threatnings of his Word; and do not gather any conclusions from them, which the Word affordeth not, or alloweth not. Gods Judgements may be dangerously misunderstood.

CHAP. VII. How to exercise Faith about Pardon of sin and Justification.

THE practice of Faith about our Justification, is hinder­ed by so many unhappy controversies and heresies, that what to do with them here in our way, is not very easie to de­termine: Should I omit the mention of them, I leave most that I write for, either under that disease it self, or the danger of it, which may frustrate all the rest which I must say: For the errours hereabout are swarming in most quarters of the Land, and are like to come to the ca [...]s of most that are stu­dious of these matters: so that an antidote to most, and a vomit to the rest, is become a matter of necessity, to the success of all our practical Directions.

And yet many cannot endure to be troubled with difficulties, who are slothful; and must have nothing set before them that will cost them much study; and many peaceable Christians love not any thing that soundeth like controversie or strife (As others that are Sons of contention relish nothing else) But averseness must give place to necessity. If the Leprosie arise, the Priest must search it, and the Physician must do his best to cure it, notwithstanding their natural averseness to it. Though I may be as averse to write against errours, as the Reader is to read what I write, we must both blame that which causeth the necessity, but not therefore deny our necessary duty: But yet I will so far gratifie them that need no more, as to put the more practical Directions first, that [Page 307] they may pass by the heap of errours [...]ter, if their own judgements prevail not against their unwillingness.

Direct. 1. Ʋnderstand well what need you have of pardon of sin, and Justification, by reason of your guilt, and of Gods Law and Justice, and the everlasting punishment which is legally your due.

1. It must be a sensible, awakening, practical knowledge of our own great necessity, which must teach us to value Christ as a Saviour, and to come to him in that empty, sick and weary plight, as is necessary in those who will make use of him for their supply and cure, Matth. 9.12. & 11.28, 29. A superfi­cial speculative knowledge of our sin and misery, will prepare us but for a superficial opinionative faith in Christ, as the remedy. But a true sense of both, will teach us to think of him as a Saviour indeed.

2. Original sin, and actual, the wickedness both of the heart and life, even all our particular sins of omission and commis­sion, and all their circumstances and aggravations, are the first reason of our great necessity of pardon: And therefore it can­not but be a duty to lay them to heart as particularly as we can, to make that necessity, and Christs redemption the better understood, Acts 2.37. Acts 2 [...].8, 9, &c.

3. The wrath of God, and the miseries of this life, and the everlasting miseries of the damned in Hell, being the due ef­fects or punishment of sin, are the second cause of our necessity of pardon: And therefore these also must be thought on seri­ously, by him that will seriously believe in Christ.

4. The Law of God which we have broken, maketh this punishment our due, Rom. 3. & 5. & 7. And the Justice of God is engaged to secure his own honour, in the honour of his Law and Government.

Direct. 2. Ʋnderstand well what Christ is and doth, for the Justification of a sinner, and how (not one only) but all the parts of his office are exercised hereunto.

In the dignity of his person, and perfect original holiness of his natures, divine and humane, he is fitly qualified for his work of our Justification and Salvation.

His undertaking (which is but the Divine Decree) did from eternity lay the foundation of all, but did not actually justifie any.

[Page 308]His Promise, Gen. 3.15. and his new Relation to m [...] there­upon, did that to the Fathers in some degree, which his after-incarnation and performance, and his Relation thereupon, doth now to us.

His perfect Obedience to the Law; yea to that Law of Me­diation also peculiar to himself (which he performed neither as Priest, or Prophet, or King, but as a subject) was the me­ritorious cause of that Covenant and Grace which justifieth us, and so of our Justification. And that which is the meritorious cause here, is also usually called the material, as it is that matter or thing which meriteth our Justification; and so is called Our Righteousness it self.

As he was a sacrifice for sin, he answered the ends of the Law which we violated, and which condemned us, as well as if we had been all punished according to the sense of the Law: And therefore did thereby satisfie the Law-giver: and thereby also merited our pardon and Justification; so that his Obedience as such, and his Sacrifice (or whole hu­miliation) as satisfactory by answering the ends of the Law, are conjunctly the meritorious cause of our Justification.

His New Covenant (which in Baptism, is made mutual by our expressed consent) is a general gift or act of oblivion, or pardon, given freely to all mankind, on condition they will believe and consent to it, or accept it, so that it is Gods pardoning and adopting instrument: And all are pardoned by it condi­tionally; and every penitent Believer actually and really. And this Covenant or Gift is the effect of the foresaid merit of Christ, both founded and sealed by his blood.

As he merited this as a mediating subject and sacrifice, so as our High Priest he offered this sacrifice of himself to God.

And as our King, he being the Law-giver to the Church, did make this Covenant as his Law of grace, describing the terms of life and death: And being the Judge of the world, doth by his sentence justifie and condemn men, as believers or unbelievers, according to this Covenant: And also executeth his sentence accordingly (partly in this life, but fully in the life to come.)

As our Teacher, and the Prophet, or Angel of the Covenant, he doth declare it as the Fathers will, and promulgate and [Page 309] proclaim this Covenant and conditional Pardon and Justifica­tion to the world; and send out his Embassadours with it to beseech men in his Name to be reconciled to God, and to de­clare, yea and by sacramental investiture, to seal and deliver a Pardon and actual Justification to Believers when they consent.

And as our Mediating High Priest now in the Heavens, he presenteth our necessity, and his own righteousnesses and sa­crifice as his merit [...], for the continual communication of all this grace, by himself, as the Head of the Church, and Ad­ministrator of the Covenant.

So that Christ doth justifie us both as a subject meriting, as a sacrifice meriting, as a Priest offering that sacrifice; as a King actually making the Justifying Law, or enacting a general Pardon; as a King sententially and executively justifying; as a Prophet or Angel of the Covenant promulgating it; as King, and Prophet, and Priest, delivering a sealed Pardon by his Mes­sengers: And as the Priest, Head and Administrator commu­nicating this with the rest of his benefits. By which you may see in what respects Christ must be believed in to Justification, if Justifying Faith were (as it is not) only the receiving him as our Justifier: It would not be the receiving him as in one part of his office only.

Direct. 3. Ʋnderstand rightly how far it is that the righte­ousness of Christ himself is made ours, or imputed to us, and how far not.

There are most vehement controversies to this day, about the Imputation of Christs Righteousness; in which I know not well which of the extreams are in the greater errour, those that plead for it in the mistaken sense, or those that plead against it in the sober and right sense: But I make no doubt but they are both of them damnable, as plainly subverting the foundation of our faith: And yet I do not think that they will prove actually damning to the Authors, because I believe that they misunderstand their adversaries, and do not well un­derstand themselves, and that they digest not, and practise not what they plead for, but digest and practise that truth which they doctrinally subvert, not knowing the contrariety; which if they knew they would renounce the errour, and not the [Page 310] truth. And I think that many a one that thus contradicteth fundamentals, may be saved.

Some there be (besides the Antinomians) that hold that Christ did perfectly obey and satisfie (not in the natural, but) in the civil or legal person of each sinner that is elect (repre­senting and bearing as many distinct persons as are elect) so fully as that God doth repute every Elect person (or say others, every Believer) to be one that in Law sense, did perfectly obey and satisfie Justice himself; and so imputeth Christs Righteousness and satisfaction to us, as that which was reputatively or legally of our own performance, and so is ours, not only in its effects, but in it self.

Others seeing the pernicious consequences of this opinion, deny all imputed Righteousness of Christ to us, and write many reproachful volumes against it (as you may see in Thorndikes last works and Dr. Gell, and Parker against the Assembly, and abundance more.)

The truth is, Christ merited and satisfied for us in the person of a Mediator: But this Mediator was the Head and Root of all Believers, and the second Adam, the fountain of spiritual life; and the Surety of the New Covenant, Heb. 7.22. 1 Cor. 15.22, 45. and did all this in the nature of man, and for the sake and benefit of man; suffering, that we might not suffer dam­nation, but not obeying that we might not obey; but suffer­ing and obeying that our sinful imperfection of obedience might not be our ruine, and our perfect obedience might not be necessary to our own Justification or Salvation, but that God might for the sake and merit of this his perfect obedience and satisfaction, forgive all our sins, and adopt us for his Sons, and give us his holy Spirit, and glorifie us for ever; so that Christs Righteousness, both obediential and satisfactory, is ours in the effects of it in themselves, and ours relatively for those effects, so far as to be purposely given for us to that end; but not ours in it self simply, or as if we were reputed the legal performers our selves, or might be said in Law sense, or by divine estima­tion or imputation, to have our selves in and by Christ ful­filled the Law, and suffered for our not fulfilling it (which is a contradiction.)

As he that both by a price, and by some meritorious act, [Page 311] doth redeem a captive, or purchase pardon for a traitor, doth give the money and merit in it self to the Prince, and not to the Captive or Traitor himself. (He never saw it, nor ever had propriety in the thing it self;) But the deliverance is the Pri­s [...]ners, and not the Princes; and therefore it is given to the Prisoner, as to the effects, though not in it self; in that it was given for him.

And because Christ suffered what we should have suffered (as to the value) to save us from suffering, and our sins were the cause of our guilt of punishment, and so the remote cause of the sufferings of Christ (his own sponsion being the nearer cause) therefore it may be said truly that Christ did not only suffer for our benefit, but in our stead or place; and in a larger and less strict and proper sense, that he suffered in the person of a sinner, and as one to whom our sins were imputed; mean­ing no more but that he suffered as one that by his own con­sent undertook to suffer for the persons of sinners, and that as such an undertaker only he suffered; and that thus our sins were imputed to him (not in themselves, as if he were in Law sense the committer of them, or polluted by them, or by God esteemed so to have been, but) as to the effects, that is, his suf­fering; in that they were the occasion, and the remote or as­sumed cause of his sufferings; as his Righteousness is imputed to us, as the meritorious cause of our Pardon and Justification.

But he could not be said no not in so large a sense as this, to have obeyed in our stead (considering it as obedience or holi­ness, but only as merit) because he did it not that we might not obey, but that we might not suffer for disobeying.

More of this will follow in the next Chapter.

Direct. 4. Ʋnderstand well what guilt it is that Christ doth remit in our Justification; not the guilt of the fact, nor of the fault in it self, but the guilt of punishment; and of the fault only so far as it is the cause of wrath and punishment.

1. The guilt of fact, is in the reality or truth of this charge, that such a fact we did or omitted: so far it is but Physically considered, and would not come into legal consideration, were it not for the following relation of it.

2. The guilt of fault, reatus culpae, is the reality of this charge (or the foundation of it in us) that we are the com­mitters [Page 312] or omitters of such an action contrary to the Law: or that our act or omission was really a crime or fault.

3. The guilt of punishment, reatus poenae, vel ad poenam, is the foundation of this charge, that we are by that Law which must judge us, condemnable, or obliged to punishment (or it is our right) for the sins so committed.

Now Christ doth not by justifying us, or pardoning us, make us either to be such as really did not do the fact; or such as did not a culpable fact, no nor such as did not deserve damna­tion, or to whom it was not due by the first Law alone; but to be such who are not now at all condemnable for it, because the new Law which we must be judged by, doth absolve us, by forgiving us; not making the fault no fault, nor causing God to think that Christ committed it, and not we; or to esteem us to be such as never did commit it; but remitting the pu­nishment, and that dueness of punishment and obligation to it, which did before result from the fault and Law together; and so the fault it self is remitted as it is the foundation from whence that obligation to punishment resulteth, respectively, but not simply, nor as a fault in it self at all.

When I say the punishment and the dueness of it to us, is for­given, I mean not only the punishment of sense, but of loss al­so: nor only the outward part, which is executed by crea­tures, but especially the first and great penalty, of Gods own displeasure with the person, and the withdrawing of his Spirit and complacential love, and that which we may improperly call, his obligation in Justice to condemn the sinner. There was upon God, before Christs satisfaction and our title to him, that which we may so call a legal or relative obligation on God to punish us, because else he should have done contrary to the due ends of Government, and so contrary to the Wisdom and Justice of a Governour, which is not consistent with his perfection. But now the ends of Government are so answered and provided for, that there is no such obligation on God to punish us, but he may remit it without any dishonour at all; nay, with the honour of his Wisdom and Justice. We are now non condemnandi, not condemnable, though we are sinners. In Judgement we must confess the latter, and deny the former only.

[Page 313]Direct. 5. Ʋnderstand well what sins Christ justifieth men from, or forgiveth to them, and what not: All sins which consist with true faith and repentance (or true conversion to God in love, by faith in Christ) and all that went before: But he forgiveth no man in a state of impenitency and unbelief, nor any mans final impenitency and unbelief at all; nor any other sins, when those are final; except it be with the common conditional forgiveness before mentioned; or that absolute particular forgiveness of some present penalties, which saveth no man from damnation, Matth. 12.31. Acts 26.18, Rom. 8.1, 30. Acts 5.31. Acts 2.38, 39. Mark 16.16 John 3.16, 18, 36. 1 John 5.11, 12. Mark 4.1 [...]. Matth. 18.27, 32.

Direct. 6. Ʋnderstand well the true nature of that Faith and Repentance, which God hath made the condition of our Justifi­cation. This is sufficiently opened before; and the consula­tion of all the cavils against it, would be tedious and unsa­voury here.

Direct. 7. Ʋnderstand well the Covenant and Promise of Ju­stification; and measure your belief and expectations by that Promise.

Expect no other pardon, nor on any other conditions or terms than the Promise doth contain▪ For it is Gods pardon­ing act or instrument; and by it we must be justified or con­demned: And we know not but by it; whom God will justifie.

Direct. 8. Keep alwaies the assuring grounds of faith before your eyes, when you look after pardon, that your faith may be firm, and powerful, and quieting; especially consider the following grounds.

1. Gods gracious Nature proclaimed even to Moses, as abun­dant in mercy, and forgiving iniquitys, transgressions and sins (to these, and upon those terms that he promiseth forgiveness) though he will by no means clear the guilty (that is, will neither take the unrighteous to be righteous; nor forgive them, or acquire them in judgment, whom his Covenant did not first forgive.)

2. The merciful Nature and of our Redeemer, Heb. 2.17.

3. How deeply Christ harh engaged himself to shew mer­cy, when he assumed our nature, and did so much to­wards [Page 314] our salvation as he hath done, Heb. 8, & 9.

4. That it is his very office and undertaking, which there­fore he cannot possibly neglect, Luke 19.10. & 2.11. John 4.42. Acts 5.31. & 13.23.

5. That God the Father himself did give him to us, and appoint him to this saving office, John 3.16, 18. Acts 5.31. & 13.23. Yea God was in Christ reconciling the world unto him­self, not imputing to them their trespasses, 2 Cor. 5.18, 19. And God made him sin (that is, a sacrifice for sin) for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (that is, might be the publick instances of Gods merciful Justice, as Christ was of his penal Justice; and this by a righteousness given us by God himself, and purchased or merited for us by Christ, 2 Cor. 5.21. yea and be renewed in holiness and righ­teousness according to his Image.

6. That now it is become the very interest of God, and of Jesus Christ himself to justifie us; as ever he would not lose either the glory of his grace, or the obedience and suffering which he hath performed, Isa. 53.19. Rom. 5.12, 13, 18, 19, &c. Rom. 4. throughout.

7. Consider the nearness of the Person of Christ, both to the Father and to us, Heb. 1, & 2, & 3.

8. Think of the perfection of his sacrifice and merit, set out throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews.

9. Think of the word of Promise or Covenant, which he hath made, and sealed and sworn, Heb. 6.17, 18. Titus 1.2.

10. Think of the great seal of the Spirit, which is more than a Promise, even an earnest, which is a certain degree of possession, and is an executive pardon (as after shall be declared) Rom. 8.15, 16. Gal. 4.6.

11. Remember that Gods own Justice is now engaged for our Justification, in these two respects conjunct: 1. Because of the fulness of the merits and satisfaction of Christ: 2. And because of his Veracity which must fulfil his promise, and his governing or destributive Justice, which must judge men ac­cording to his own Law of Grace, and must give men that which he himself hath made their right, 2 Tim. 4.7, 8. 1 John 5.9, 10, 11, 12.

12. Lastly, Think of the many millions now in Heaven, [Page 315] of whom many were greater sinners than you; and no one of them (save Christ) came thither by the way of innocency and legal Justification: There are no Saints in Heaven that were not redeemed from the captivity of the Devil, and justi­fied by the way of pardoning grace, and were not once the heirs of death, John 3.3, 5. Rom. 3, & 4.

Upon these considerations trust your selves confidently on the grace of Christ, and take all your sins but as the advan­tages of his grace.

Direct. 9. Remember that there is somewhat on your own parts to be done, for the continuing, as well as for the beginning of your Justification; yea somewhat more than for the beginning; even the faithful keeping of your baptismal Covenant, in the essen­tials of it; and also that you have continual need of Christ, to continue your Justification.

Many take Justification to be one instantanious act of God, which is never afterwards to be done: And so it is, if we mean only the first making of him righteous who was unrighteous: (As the first making of the world, and not the continuance of it, is called Creation:) but this is but about the name: For the thing it self, no doubt but that Covenant which first justified us, doth continue to justifie us; and if the cause should cease, the effect would cease. And he that requireth no actual obe­dience, as the condition of our begun Justification, doth re­quire both the continuance of faith, and actual sincere obedience, as the condition of continuing, or not losing our Justification, (as Davenant, Bergius, Blank, &c. have well opened, and I have elsewhere proved at large.) As Matrimony giveth title to con­jugal priviledges to the wife; but conjugal fidelity and perfor­mance of the essentials of the contract is necessary to continue them. Therefore labour to keep up your faith, and to abide in Christ, and he in you, and to bring forth fruit, lest ye be branches withered, and for the fire, John 15.2, 3, 7, 8, 9, &c.

And upon the former misapprehension, the same persons do look upon all the faith which they exercise through their lives, after the first instantanious act, as no justifying faith at all (but only a faith of the same kind) but to what use they hardly know. Yea they look upon Christ himself, as if they [Page 316] had no more use for him, either as to continue their Justifica­tion, or to forgive their after-sins; when as our continued faith must be exercised all our lives on the same Christ, and trust on the same Covenant, for the continuation and perfe­ction of that which was begun at the time of our Regenera­tion, Col. 1.23. 1 John 2.24. Heb. 3.6.12, 13. Heb. 6.11, 12. & 10.22, 23.

Direct. 10. Ʋnderstand that every sin which you commit, hath need of a renewed pardon in Christ: and that he doth me prevent your necessity of such pardon. And therefore you will have constant need of Christ, and must daily come to God for pardon by him; not only for the pardon of temporal chastisements, but of ever­lasting punishments.

Of the sense of this, I shall say more anon: the proof of it is in the fore recited Promises; and in all those texts of Scripture which tell us that death is the wages of sin, and call us to ask pardon, and tell us on what terms it may be had.

Direct. 11. Yet do not think that every sin doth put you into a state of condemnation again, or nullifie your former Justification: For though the Law of nature is so far still in force, as to make punishment by it your natural due; yet the Covenant of Grace is a continually pardoning act, and according to its proper terms, doth dissolve the foresaid obligation, and presently remit the punish­ment: and as its moral action is not interrupted; no more is our justified state.

There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, &c. Rom. 8.1. John 3.16, 18. 1 John 5.11, 12. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righ­teous, and he is the Propitiation for our sins, 1 John 2.1, 2. If we confess our sins, be is faithful and just to forgive us our sisn and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If all need of pardon had been prevented by Christ, what use were there of his advoca­tion for our future forgiveness?

Direct. 12. Remember, that though unknown infirmities, and unavoidable ones, have an immediate pardon, because the Believer hath an habitual Faith and Repentance; yet great and known sins must have actual Repentance, before the pardon will be ple­nary or perfect; though the person is not in the mean time an un­regenerate nor unjustified person.

[Page 317]1. That great and known sins must have a particular re­pentance, appeareth, 1. In that it is utterly inconsistent with the sincerity of habitual Repentance, not to be actual, when sins are known, and come into our deliberate remembrance. 2. By all those texts which require such repentance, confession and forsaking, 1 John 2.1, 2. 1 John 1.9. Prov. 18.13. Psal. 32. & 51. 2 Cor. 7.11. Rev, 2.5, 16. Luke 13.3, 5. Jam. 5.14, 15. Luke 6.37. & 11.4. Repentance consisteth chiefly in for­saking sin; and if men forsake not such known wilful sins, they are wicked men, and therefore are not pardoned.

2. That unavoidable frailties, and meer infirmities, and un­known faults, are pardoned immediately to them that are tru­ly godly, and have a general and implicit Repentance, is plain, because else no man in the world could be saved; because eve­ry man hath such infirmities and unknown sins, 1 John 1.10.

3. Yet David himself is not put by his sin into a meer graceless state, and as a person that hath no former Justifica­tion; for he prayeth God not to take his Spirit from him, and he was not deprived of the true love to God, which is the character of Gods children: But he had incurred heinous guilt, and put himself in the way towards utter damnation, and caused a necessity of a more particular deep Repentance before he could be fully pardoned, than else he needed.

Before the world had a Saviour, we were all so far unpar­doned, that a satisfying Sacrifice was necessary to our Justifica­tion: But afterward, all men are so far pardoned, that only the Acceptance of what is purchased and freely (though con­ditionally) given, is necessary to it. Before men are con­verted, they are yet so far unpardoned, that (though no more Sacrifice be necessary, yet) a total conversion and renovation, by turning from a life of sin to God by Faith in Christ, is necessary to their actual justification, and forgiveness. When a man is turned from a life of sin to God, and liveth in the state of grace, all his following sins, which consist with the loving of God and holiness above the world and sinful pleasures, are so far forgiven immediately upon the committing, that they need neither another Sacrifice, nor another Regeneration, or Justification (quoad statum) but only an acting of that Faith [Page 318] and Repentance, which habitually he hath already. But the unknown errours and faults of such godly persons are par­doned even without that actual repentance: and infirmities, without forsaking of the sin overcomingly in practice. And so every one liveth and dyeth, in some degree of sinful defe­ctiveness and omission, of his love to God, and trust, and hope, and zeal, and desire, and love to men, and care of his duty, and watchfulness, and fervency in prayer, meditation, &c. And in some degree of sinful disorder in our ill governed thoughts, and words, and affections, or passions, and actions: we are never sinless till we die.

Direct. 13. Remember that you must neither think that every sin which is a cause of Repentance, is a sufficient reason for you to doubt of your present state of Justification; nor yet that no sin can be so great as to be a necessary cause of doubting.

If every sin should make us doubt of our Justification, then all men must alwaies doubt: And then it must be because no sin is consistent with sincerity, and the knowledge of sincerity; which is apparently false.

If no sin should cause our doubting, then there is no sin which is not consistent both with sincerity, and with the knowledge of it; which is as false, and much more dangerous to hold. 1. There are many sins that are utterly inconsistent with true godliness; otherwise the godly were ungodly, and as bad as others: And if you say that no godly man commit­eth these, it is true; and therefore it is true that he that com­mitteth them, is not a godly man, or justified. And how shall a man know his godliness, but by his life as the product of his inward graces? It is arguing from an uncertainty against a certainty, to say, I am justified and godly, and therefore my wilful sins of drunkenness, fornication, oppression, lying, ma­l [...]ce, &c. are consistent with Justification: and it is arguing from a certain truth, against a doubted falshood, to say, I live in ordinary, wilful, heinous sin; therefore I am not justified or sincere, Ephes. 5.5, 6. For this ye know, that no whore­monger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an Idolater, hath any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ, and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience, [Page 319] 1 Cor. 6 9, 10. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not in­herit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of them­selves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, &c.

Rom. 8.1, 13. There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die, &c. Gal. 5.20, 21, 22, 23, 24.

2. And there are many sins which consist with true grace, which will not consist with the assurance of its sincerity. And that 1. From the nature of the things; because the least de­gree of grace conjunct with, and clouded by the greatest de­gree of sin which may consist with it, is not discernable to to him that hath it: He that is so very near a state of death, and so very like to an unjustified person, can never be sure, in that case, that he is justified. 2. And also God in Wisdom and Justice will have it so; that sin may not be encouraged, nor presumption cherished, nor the comforts which are the re­ward of an obedient child, be cast away on an uncapable child in his stubborn disobedience, Psal. 51. & 32. & 77.

Therefore for a man that liveth in grost sin, to say that he is sure that he is justified, and therefore no sin shall make him question it; is but to believe the Antinomian Devil transform­ing himself into an Angel of Light, and his Ministers when they call themselves the Ministers of Righteousness; and to deny be­lief to the Spirit of Holiness and Truth. And if a true Be­liever should come very near such a state of death, common reason, and the due care of his own soul, obligeth him to be suspicious of himself, and to fear the worst, till he have made sure of better, Heb. 6. & 3.10. Heb. 4.1. & 12, 13, 14. 1 Cor. 10. John 15.2, 7, 8, &c.

Direct. 14. Let not the perswasion that you are justified, make you more secure and bold infinning, but more to hate it, as contrary to the ends of Justification, and to the love which freely justified you.

It is a great mark of difference between true assurance, and [Page 320] blind presumption, that the one maketh men hate sin more, and more carefully to avoid it; and the other causeth men to sin with less reluctancy, and remorse; because with less feat.

Direct. 15. When the abuse of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, and not by Works, doth pervert your minds and lives, remember that all confess, that we shall be judged according to our works (as the Covenant of Grace is the Law by which we shall be judged:) And to be judged, is to be justified or con­demned.

I need not recite all those Scriptures to you, that say, that we shall be judged, and shall receive according to what we have done in the body, whether it be good or evil: And this is all that we desire you to believe, and live accordingly.

Direct. 16. Remember still that Faith in Christ is but a means to raise us to the Love of God, and that perfect Holiness is higher and more excellent than the pardon of sin: And therefore desire faith, and use it, for the kindling of love, and pardon of sin, to endear you to God, and that you may do so no more: And do not sin, that you may have the more to be pardoned.

The end of the Commandment is Charity, out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. Rom. 6.1, 2. Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid: How shall they that are dead to sin, live any longer there­in? See Titus 3.5, 6, 7. Rom. 5.1, 4, 5, 6. Rom. 8.1, 4, 9, Gal. 4.6. & 5.24, 26. So much for those practical Directions, which are needfull for them that love not Con­troversie.

CHAP. VIII. The pernicious or dangerous Errours detected, which hinder the work of Faith about our Justification; and the contrary Truths asserted.

THere is so much dust and controversie raised here to blind the eyes of the weak, and to hinder the life of Faith; and so much poison served up under the name of Justification and Free Grace, that I should be unfaithful if I should not dis­cover it, either through fear of offending the guilty, or of wearying them that had rather venture upon deceit, than up­on controversie. And we are now so fortified against the Popish and Secinian extreams, and those whom I am now di­recting to live by Faith, are so settled against them, that I think it more necessary (having not leisure for both, and having done it heretofore in my Confession) to open at this time the method of false doctrine on the other extream, which for the most part is it which constituteth Antinomianism, though some of them are maintained by others.

And I will first name each errour; and then with it, the contrary truth.

Errour 1. Christs suffering was caused by the sins of none, as the assumed meritorious cause, or as they usually say, as imputed to him, or lying on him, save only of the Elect that shall be saved.

Contr. The sins of fallen mankind in general, except those re­jections of Grace, whose pardon is not offered in the conditional Covenant, did lye on Christ as the assumed cause of his suffer­ings.

See John 1.29. 2 Cor. 5.18, 19, 20. John 3.16, 17, 18, 19. Heb. 2.9. 1 Tim. 2.4, 5, 6. 1 John 2.2. 1 Tim. 4.10. 2 Pet. 2.2. See Paraeus in his Irenicon; & Twisse vind. & alibi passim, say­ing as much; and Amyrald, Davenant, Dallaeus, Testardu [...] Ʋsher, &c. proving it.

Errour 2. Christ did both perfectly obey, and also make satis­faction for sin by suffering, in the person of all the Elect in the sense of the Law, or Gods account; so that his Righteousness of obe­dience [Page 322] and perfect holiness, and his satisfaction, is so imputed to us, as the proprietaries, as if we our selves had done it, and suffered it: not by an after donation in the effects, but by this strict im­putation in it self.

Contr. The contrary Truth is at large opened before, and in my confession.

Christs satisfaction, and the merit of his whole obedience, is as effectual for our pardon, justification and salvation, as if Believers th [...]mselves had performed it; and it is imputed to them, in that it was done for their sakes, and suffered in their stead, and the fruits of it by a free Covenant or donation given them. But 1. God is not mistaken, to judge that we obeyed or suffered when we did not. 2. God is no lyar, to say, we did it, when he knoweth that we did it not. 3. If we were not the actors and sufferers, it is not possible that we should be made the natural subjects of the Accidents of anothers body, by any putation, estimation or mis-judging whatsoever; no nor by any donation neither. It is a contradiction, and there­fore an impossibility that the same individual Actions and Pas­sions, of which Christs humane nature was the agent and sub­ject so many hundred years ago, and have themselves now no existence, should in themselves, I say, in themselves, be made yours now, and you be the subject of the same accidents. 4. Therefore they can no otherwise be given to us, but 1. By a true estimation of the reasons why Christ underwent them, viz. for our sakes as aforesaid. 2. And by a donation of the effects or fruits of them, viz. pardoning, and justifying, and saving us by them (on the terms chosen by the Donor himself, and put into his Testament or Covenant) as certainly (but not in the same manner) as if we had done and suffered them our selves. 5. If Christ had suffered in our person reputatively in all respects, his sufferings would not have redeemed us: Be­cause we are finite worms, and our suffering for so short a time, would not have been accepted instead of Hell sufferings. But the person of the Mediator made them valuable. 6. God never made any such Covenant with us [that he will justifie us, and use us just as he would have done, if we had our selves perfectly obeyed and satisfied.] They that take on them to shew such a Promise, must see that no wise man examine it. [Page 323] 7. God hath both by his Covenant, and his Works, ever since confuted that opinion; and hath not dealt with us as he would have done, if we had been the reputed doers and suf­ferers of it all our selves. For he hath made conveyance of the Benefits, by a pardoning and justifying Law, or Promise; and he giveth us additional pardon of renewed sins as we act them, and he addeth threatnings in his Law or Covenant; and he in­flicteth penalties; yea some that are very grievous, even the with-holding of much of his Spirits help and grace; all which are inconsistent with that conceit; nor would he so have used us, if we had been perfectly innocent, and had fully satisfied for our sins our selves. 8. All men would have had present possession of Glory, if God had so reputed us the perfect meriters of it. For his Justice would no more have delayed our re­ward, than denyed it. 9. All that are saved would have equal degrees of holiness and happiness, as well as of righteousness, be­cause all would equally be reputed the perfect fulfillers of the Law. And as no penalty could ever be justly inflicted on them here; so no degree of glory could be denyed them here­after for their sin, or for want of perfect righteousness. 10. The opinion of this kind of imputation, is a most evident contra­diction in it self. For he that is imputatively a satisfier for all his own sin, is therein supposed to be a sinner: And he that is imputatively a perfect innocent fulfiller of the Law, is thereby supposed to need no satisfaction to Justice for his sin, as being imputatively no sinner. 11. By this all Christs sacrifice and satisfaction is made a work of needless supererrogation; yea unjust, or rather impossible. For if we perfectly obeyed in him, he could not suffer for our disobedience. 12. Hereby pardon of sin is utterly denyed: for he that is reputatively no sinner, hath no sin to pardon.

If they say that God did first impute the satisfaction for sin, then there was no room after for the imputation of perfect obedience. We cannot feign God to receive all the debt, or inflict all the penalty, and then to say, now I will esteem thee one that never didst deserve it.

If they say that he doth neither impute the obedience or the suffering to us simply, and to all effects, but in tantum ad hoc, or secundum quid only: so that we shall be pardoned for his [Page 324] suffering, and then judged worthy of Heaven for his obe­dience: this is but to come up towards the truth before you are aware, and to confess that neither of them is given us in it self, but in the effects, as being it self paid to God to pro­cure those effects.

But withall, the matter must be vindicated from their un­found inventions, and it must be said, that Christ dyed not only for our sins of commission, but of omission also; and that he that is pardoned both his sins of commission and omission, is free from the punishment both of sense and loss; yea and is reputed as one that never culpably omitted any duty; and consequently fell short of no reward by such omission: so that there remaineth no more necessity of Righteousness in order to a reward where the pardon is perfect, save only (N. B.) to procure us that degree of reward which must be superadded to what we forfeited by our sin; and which we never by any culpable omission deserved to be denyed. And thus much we do not deny that somewhat (even Adoption) which is more than meer Pardon and Justification must confer on us. But withall, as we hold not that the Sun must bring light, and somewhat else must first banish darkness; that one thing must cure death, and another cause life; that satisfaction must pro­cure the pardon of sins of omission and commission, as to the poenae damni & sensus, and make us esteemed and used as no sinners, and then imputed obedience must give us right to that reward, which the poenae damni, deprived us of; so (N. B.) we maintain that Christs sufferings have merited our eternal salvation, and our Justification and Adoption; and that his obedience hath merited our forgiveness of sin: And that both go together, the merit of the one and of the other, to procure all that we receive, and that the effects are not parcelled out as they have devised: Though yet we believe that Christs suf­ferings were paid to God, as for our sins, to satisfie Justice, and that in the Passive Obedience, it is first satisfactory, and then and therefore meritorious, and in the active it is meerly meri­torious.

13. And the maintainers of the contrary opinion, besides all the forementioned evils, could never agree how much of Christs Righteousness must be in their sense imputed: some [Page 325] holding only the passive; a second sort the active and passive; a third sort, the habitual, active and passive; a fourth sort, the divine, the habitual, the active and the passive.

But of all these things there is so much written against them, by Cargius, Ʋrsinus, Olevian, Piscator, Paraeus, Scultetus, Alstedius, Wendeline, Camero, Bradshaw, Gataker, and many more, that I need not to add any more for confutation.

Errour 3. That no one shall suffer whose sins lay on Christ, and were suffered for by him.

Contr. Many such shall suffer the sorer punishment, for sinning against the Lord that bought them, and treading under foot the blood of the Covenant, wherewith they were so far sanctified, as to be a people by their own Covenant separated to God, Heb. 10.25, 26. Heb. 6.4, 5, 6. 2 Pet. 2.2. Heb. 4.1. & 2.3. & 12.29.

Errour 4. That no godly man (say some (or Elect person, though ungodly (say others) is ever punished by God, because Christ suffered all their punishment himself.

Contr. Every godly man is chastened of God, and all chastise­ment is a fatherly correcting punishment: And many justified persons are punished to their final loss, by the denyal of forfeited degrees of grace, and consequently of glory, Heb. 12.7, 8, 9, 10. 1 Cor. 11.32. 1 Thes. 5.19. Ephes. 4.30. But sad experience is too full a proof. See my Confession.

Errour 5. That God were unjust if he laid any degree of punish­ment on those that Christ died for; or (say others) on the justi­fied; because he should punish one sin twice.

Contr. It is certain, that God punisheth the Justified in some degree (much more the Elect before conversion) and it is certain that God is not unjust. Therefore it is certain that the ground of this accusation is false; for it was not our deserved punishment it self, or the same which was due in the true sense of the Law which Christ endured: but it was the punishment of a volun­tary sponsor, which was the equivalens, and not the idem that was due; and did answer the ends of the Law, but not fulfill the meaning of the threatning; which threatned the sinner himself, and not another for him: seeing then it was a satis­faction, or sacrifice for sin, which God received for an attone­ment and propitiation, and not a solution or suffering of the sinner himself in the sense of the Law, the charge of injustice on God is groundless.

[Page 326]And no man can have more right to Christs sufferings or benefits, than he himself is willing to give: And it is not his own will (into whose hands all power and judgement is committed) that we should be subject to no punishment be­cause he suffered for us.

Errour 6. That the Elect are justified from eternity (say some) or from Christs death before they were born (say others) or before they believed (say others.)

Against this I have said enough in many Volumes hereto­fore.

Errour 7. That Faith justifieth only in the Court of our own Consciences, by making us to know that we were justified be­fore.

Against this also I have said enough elsewhere.

Errour 8. That sins to come, not yet committed, are pardoned in our first Justification.

Contr. Sins to come are no sins: and no sins have no actual pardon: but only the certain remedy is provided, which will par­don their sins as soon as they are capable.

Errour 9. Justification is not a making us just, but a sentence pronouncing us just.

Contr. Justification is a word of so many significations, that he that doth not first tell what he meaneth by it, will not be capable of giving or receiving satisfaction.

And here once for all, I must intreat the Reader that loveth not confusion and errour, to distinguish of these several sorts of Justification, as the chief which we are to note.

Justification is either publick by a Governour, or private by an equal or meer Discerner: Justification is by God, or by Man. Justification by God is either as he is Law-giver, and above Laws, or as he is Judge according to his Laws: In the first way God maketh us just; by his Act of Oblivion, or pardon­ing Law, or Covenant of Grace. In the second respect God doth two waies justifie and forgive: 1. As a determining Judge: 2. As the Executioner of his Judgement. In the former respect God doth two waies justifie us: 1. By esteem­ing us just. 2. By publick sentencing us just. As Executioner, he useth us as just, and as so judged.

I pass by here purposely all Christs Justification of us by way [Page 327] of apology or plea; and all Justification by witnesses and evi­dences, &c. and all the constitutive causes of our Righteousness, lest I hinder them whom I would help, by using more distin­ctions than they are willing to learn. But these few are necessary.

1. It is one thing for God to make us Righteous, by for­giving all our sins of commission and omission, for the sake of Christs satisfaction and obedience.

2. It is another thing for God to esteem us to be so Righ­teous when he hath first made us so.

3. It is another for God to sentence us Righteous as the Pub­lick Judge, by Jesus Christ.

4. And it is another thing for God to take off all penalties and evils, and to give us all the good which belong to the Righteous; and so to execute his own Laws and Sentence. And he that will not distinguish of these senses or sorts of Ju­stification, shall not dispute with me.

And while I am upon this, I will give the Reader these two remarks and counsels. 1. That he will not in disputing about Justification, with any sect, begin the dispute of the Thing, till he hath first determined and agreed of their sense of the Word. And that he will not confound the Controversies de nomine about the word, with those de re, about the matter. And that he will remember in citing texts of Scripture, that Beza, and many of our best Expositors, do grant to the Pa­pists (as I heard Bishop Ʋsher also do) that some texts of Scripture do take the word [Justifie] as they do, for Pardon and Sanctification conjunctly: As Titus 3.7. 1 Cor. 6.11. Rom. 8.30. three famous texts; of which see Le Blank at large in his Thes. de nom. Justific. If the controversie be only of the sense of a Text, handle it accordingly: If of the matter, turn it not to words.

2. Note this Observation, that Sanctification it self, or the giving us the Spirit, is a great act (though I say not the on­ly) of executive Justification. The with-holding of the Spi­rit is the greatest punishment inflicted in this life: and there­fore the giving of the Spirit is the removal or executive remit­ing of the greatest penalty: So that if pardon were only as Dr. Twisse thought, a non-punire, a not punishing, then this were the most proper, as well as plenary pardon in this life. But [Page 328] the truth is, that our Pardon and Justification in Right goeth first, which God effecteth by his Covenant-gift: And then God esteemeth us just or pardoned, when by pardon he hath made us just: and if there be any sentence, or any thing equivalent before the day of Judgement or death, he next sentenceth us Just; and lastly, he useth us as just, that is, as pardoned (all sins of omis­sion and commission) which is by taking off all punishment both of pain (or sense) and loss; of which part the giving of his Spirit, is the chief act on this side our Glorification.

Note therefore that thus far no Protestant can deny to the Papists, nor will do, that Sanctification and Justification are all one, that is, that God having pardoned us de jure, doth pardon us executively, by giving us his forfeited Spirit and Grace; and by all the communion which we have after with him, and the comfort which we have from him.

And further let it be well noted, that the nature of this executive Pardon or Justification (of which read Mr. Hotchkis at large) is far better known to us, than the nature of Gods sentential Pardon and Justification: and therefore there is less controversie about it. For what it is to forbear or take off a punishment, is easily understood: But though most Protestants say, that Justification is a sentence of God, they are not agreed what that sentence is. Some think (truly) that our first Ju­stification by Faith is but a virtual sentence of the Law of Grace, by which we must be judged. Others say that by a sentence is meant Gods secret mental estimation: Others say, that as Angels are his executioners; so it is before them (where joy is said to be for a sinners conversion) Luke 15. that doth declare and sentence us pardoned and just. Others think that there is no sentence but Gods notification of pardon to our con­sciences, or giving us the sense or knowledge of it. Others think that there is no sentence till death, or publick Judgment. Others say that God doth sentence us just, though we know not where, nor how. And Mr. Lawson noteth, that (as all confess that God hath no voice, but a created voice; and therefore useth not words as we; unless what Christ as man may do in that we know not; so) his sentence is nothing but his decla­ration that he esteemeth us pardoned and just in title, which is principally, if not only, by his execution, and taking off all [Page 329] penalties of sense and loss, and using us as pardoned in title: and so that the giving of his Spirit, is his very sentence of Ju­stification in this life, as it is his declaration as aforesaid.

And doubtless executive pardon is the most perfect and compleat, as being the end and perfection of all the rest. There­fore God maketh us just in title by. Covenant-pardon; and therefore he sentenceth us as just, that he may take off all penal­ty, and give us the felicity due to the righteous; and may use us as those that are made just.

There is much truth in most of the foresaid opinions inclu­sively, and much falshood in their several exclusions of all the rest (unless their quarrel be only de nomine, which of all these is fitliest called Justification. For 1. There is no doubt but our pardon, or constituted Justification in Covenant-title, is a virtual sentential Justification. 2. And there is no doubt but God doth esteem them just, that are first made just, and no other (b [...]cause he erreth not:) And that this estimation is sententia concepta, as distinct from sententia prolata. 3. And it is certain that those Angels that must execute his sentence, must first know it: And it is probable that the Joy [...], in the presence of the Angels of God, doth intimate that God useth ordinarily to notifie the conver [...]iod of a sinner to An­gels (whether the joy here be meant as Dr. Hammond and others think, Gods Joy signified to Angels, or rather the Angels Joy, by their presence being, in Choro Angelorum, or among them, that is, in them; or both.) 4. And it is granted that God doth usually give some notice of his pardon, at one time or other, more or less to a sinners conscience (though that is too late, too uncertain, too low, and too unequal, and too un­constant to be the great and famous Justification by Faith.) 5. And it is clear, that till death or Judgment, there is no such solemn plenary judicial sentence or declaration as there will be then. 6. And it is certain, that at death and judgment, Christ as Man, a creature, can speak or express himself, as the blessed creatures do to one another. 7 And its certain that God hath a way of expressing himself to creatures, which is beyond our present understandings: But we may conceive of it by the similitude of Light, which in the same instant reveal­eth millions of things to millions of persons respectively. [Page 330] (Though that is nothing to his present Justification of us by Faith, unless as he revealeth it to Angels.) 8. And it is cer­tain, that at the day of death and judgment, God will thus by an irresistible light, lay open every man to himself, and to the world, which may be called his sentence, differing from the execution; and that Christ in our nature will be our Judge, and may express that sentence as aforesaid. 9. And it is cer­tain, that Gods actual taking off punishment, and giving the blessing which sin had deprived us of, is a declaration of his mind, which may be called, an executive sentence, and might serve the turn if there were no more: And that in Scripture, the terms of [Gods judging the world] doth usually signifie Gods executive Government, rewarding and punishing: And that God doth begin such execution in this life: and that his giving the Spirit is thus his principal pardoning and justifying act; and yet that this is but part, and not the whole of our present executive pardon: and that glorification in this sense is the highest and noblest Justification or Pardon; when God giveth us all that sin had forfeited (But yet we deny not that Glorification is somewhat more than an executive pardon, so far as any more is then given us, than we did forfeit by our sins.)

I must desire the Reader not to forget all this explication of the nature of Justification, because it will be supposed to the understanding of all before and after.

Errour 10. That the justified or regenerate never incur any guilt or obligation to any punishment, but only temporal corrections; and therefore need no pardon at all of any sin, at least, since rege­neration, as to the everlasting punishment; because Christ dyed to prevent that guilt, and consequently the necessity of any such pardon.

Contr. This is before explained. Christ died to procure us that pardoning Covenant, which (on its own terms) will pardon every sin of the Justified when they are committed; but not to prevent the need of pardon. Otherwise Christ should not satisfie for any sins after regeneration, nor bear them in his sufferings at all: For his satisfaction is a bearing of a punishment, which in its dignity and usefulness is equivalent to our deserved, or (to be deserved) punishment. Now if we [Page 331] never do deserve it, Christ cannot bear that in our stead, which we never deserve: As the preventing of the sin or reatus culpae proveth that Christ never suffered for that sin prevented, be­cause it is terminus diminuens, and is no sin; so is it in pre­venting the desert of punishment. And as for Correction Christ doth inflict so much as is good for us; and therefore did not die to prevent it. But of this Controversie I have said more at large elsewhere.

Errour 11. That Justification by Faith is perfect at the first instant; though Sanctification be imperfect.

Contr. Against this Errour read Mr. George Hopkins book of salvation from sin; shewing how Justification and Sanctifi­cation are equally carryed on.

It is granted that at our first true faith, we are pardoned all the sins that ever we committed before, as to the eternal pu­nishment: And so we are converted from them all: But (as our Sanctification is imperfect, so) our Pardon is yet imper­fect in many respects: For 1. We are still liable to death, which is the wages of sin, though it be so far conquered as not to hinder our salvation: Henoch and Elias went to Heaven with­out it, Rom. 5 12, 14, 17, 21. Gen. 3.16, 17, 19. 1 Cor. 15.21, 26. 2. We are still liable to many penal chastisements in this life; which though they do us good by accident, are yet the fruits of sin, no father chastising a faultless child, but doing him good in another way. 3. There are many sins yet left uncured, which though as sins, they are our own only, yet as an evil not cured, are also penal: I am sure that the not-giving of more of his Spirit and Grace is penal. Therefore till our grace be perfect, we are not perfectly delivered from the pe­nal fruits of sin, and therefore not perfectly justified and par­doned. 4. That Pardon and Justification is not perfect, which hath so many conditions, and of such a nature for its continua­tion, as ours now hath: As to say, you shall lose your justified state, unless you fight and overcome, in mortification, suffer­ings, perseverance. &c. He that hath a title to an estate, which is held by such a tenure, and would be lost if he should fail in such conditions, hath not so perfect a title, as he that is past all such conditions. 5. That pardon which is only of sins past, while there are thousands more hereafter to be par­doned [Page 332] (or else we should yet perish) is not so perfect as that Pardon and Justification in the conclusion of our lives, when all sin that ever will be committed is forgiven absolutely. 6. The kind of our presen [...] Justification is imperfect; it being but in Covenant-title, and some part of execution; the full and pe [...]f [...]ct sentence and execution, being at the day of Judg­ment.

I leave them therefore to say [Christs Righteousness imputed to us is perfect; therefore we are as perfectly just and justified as Christ] who know not what Imputation here is; nor that Christs personal Righteousness is not given to us as proprie­tors, in it self, but in the effects; and who know not the dif­ference between believing and blaspheming, and making our selves as so many Christs to our selves; and that know not what need they have of Christ, or of Faith, or Prayer, or of any holy endeavour for any more Pardon, and Righteousness or Justification, than they have already: Or who thinke that David in his Adultery and Murder was as perfectly pardoned and justified as he will be in Heaven at last: And in a word, who know not the difference between Earth and Heaven.

Errour 12. That Christ justifieth us only as a Priest: Or (say others) only as obeying and satisfying.

Contr. Christ merited our Justification in his state of humilia­tion, as the Mediator subjected to the Law, and perfectly obeying it, and as a sacrifice for sin. But this is not justifying us. Christ offered that sacrifice as the High Priest of the Church or world: But this was not justifying us. Christ made us the New Co­venant as our King, and as the great Prophet of the Father or Angel of the Covenant, Mal. 3.1. And this Covenant giveth us our pardon and title to impunity, and to life eternal; And Christ as our King and Judge doth justifie us by a Judiciary Sentence, and also by the execution of that sentence: so that the relations most eminently appear in our Justification, are all excluded by the foresaid errour.

Errour 13. That we are justified only by the first act of Faith; and all our believing afterwards to the end of our lives, are no ju­stifying acts at all.

Contr. Indeed if the question be only about the Name of Justifying, if you will take it only for our first change into a [Page 333] state of righteousness by pardon, it is true. But the following act [...] of Faith are of the same use and need to the continuing of our Justification, or state of Righteousness, as the first act was for the beginning of it.

Errour 14. That the continuance of our Justification needeth no other conditions to be by us performed, than the continuance of that Faith on which it was begun.

Contr. Where that first Faith continueth, there our Justi­fication doth continue: But that Faith never continueth with­out sincere obedience to Christ; and that obedience is part of the condition of the continuance, or not losing our Justification (as is proved before, and at large elsewhere) The Faith which in Baptism we profess, and by which we have our first Justifica­tion or Covenant-right, is an accepting of Christ as our Sa­viour and Lord to be obeyed by us in the use of his saving re­medies; and we there vow and covenant future obedience. And as our marriage to Christ, or Covenant-making, is all the condition of our first right to him and his benefits, without any other good works or obedience; so our Marriage-fidelity, or Covenant keeping, is part of the condition of our continuance herein, or not losing it by a divorce, John 15. Col. 1.23. &c.

Errour 15. That Faith is no condition of our part in Christ, and our Justification, but only one of Gods gifts of the Covenant, given with Christ and Justification.

Errour 16. That the Covenant of Grace hath no conditions on our part, but only donatives on Gods part.

Errour 17 That if the Covenant had any conditions, it were not free. And that every condition is a meritorious cause, or at least some cause.

Contr. All these I have confuted at large elsewhere, and proved 1. That Faith is a proper condition of those benefits which God giveth us by the conditional Covenant of Grace; but not of all the benefits which he any other way giveth us. It was not the condition of his giving Christ to live and die for us; nor of his giving us the Gospel, or this Covenant it self; nor of his giving us Preachers, or of the first motions of his Spirit; nor was Faith the condition of the gift of Faith [...]elf; because all these are not given us in that way, by that Covenant, but absolutely, as God shall please.

[Page 334]2. That some Promises of God of the last mentioned gifts, have no condition: The promises of giving a Saviour to the world; and the promise of giving and continuing the Gospel in the world; and of converting many by it in the world, and of making them Believers, and giving them new hearts, and bringing them to salvation, &c. have no conditions. But these are promises made, some of them to Christ only, and some of them to fallen mankind, or the world in general, or pre­dictions what God will do by certain men unborn, unnamed, and not described, called the Elect. But all this giveth no title to Pardon, or Justification, or Salvation to any one person at all.

Remember therefore once for all, that the Covenant which I still mean, by the Covenant of Grace, is that which God of­fereth men in Baptism, by the acceptance whereof we become Christians.

3. That Gods gift of a Saviour, and New Covenant to the world, are so free as to be without any condition: But Gods gift of Christ with all his benefits of Justification, Adoption, &c. to individual persons, is so free as to be without and contrary to our desert; but not so free as to be without any condition: And that he that will say to God [Thy grace of pardon is not free if thou wilt not give it me, but on condition that I ac­cept it, yea or desire it, or ask it] shall prove a contemner of grace, and a reproacher of his Saviour, and not an exalter of free grace. There is no inconsistency for God to be the giver of grace to cause us to believe and accept of Christ, and yet to make a deed of gift of him to all on condition of that Faith and acceptance; no more than it is inconsistent to give Faith and Repentance, and to command them: of both which the ob­jecters themselves do not seem to doubt. For he maketh both his command, and his conditional form of Promise to be his chosen means (and most wisely chosen) of working in us the thing commanded.

4. That a condition as a condition is no cause at all, much less a meritorious cause: But only the non-performance of it suspendeth the donation of the Covenant, by the will of the Donor: Or r [...]her it is the Donors will that suspendeth it till the condition be done. And some conditions signifie no more [Page 335] than a term of time: and some (in the matter of them, and not in the form) are a not-demeriting, or not-abusing the Giver, or not-despising the gift: and some among men are meritorious. And with God every act that is chosen by him to be a condi­tion of his gift, is pleasing to him, for some special aptitude which it hath to that office. This is the full truth, and the plain truth about conditions.

Errour 18. There is no degree of pardon given to any that are not perfectly justified, and that shall not be saved: But the giving of the Spirit so far as to cause us to believe and repent, is s [...]me degree of executive pardon: Therefore we are justified before we believe.

Contr. There is a great degree of pardon given to the world, before conversion, which shall yet justifie and save none but Believers: Gods giving a Saviour to the world, and a New Covenant, and in that an universal conditional pardon; yea his giving them teaching, exhortations and offers of free grace; and his giving them life and time, and many mercies which the full execution of the Law would have deprived them of, is a very great degree of pardon. God pardoned to mankind much of the penalty which sin deserved, even presently after the first transgression, in the prom [...]se made to Adam, Gen. 3.15. Many texts of Scripture (which partial men for their opinions sake do pervert) do speak magnificently of a common pardon, which must be sued out, and made particular upon our believing. The world was before under so much impossibility of being saved by any thing that they could do, that they must have procured all to be done first which Christ hath done and suffered for them; which was utterly above their power. They that were actually obliged to bear the pains of death, both temporal, spiritual and eternal, are now so far redeemed, pardoned and delivered, that all the merit and satisfaction ne­cessary to actual forgiveness, is made for them by another, and no one of them all shall perish for want of a Sacrifice made and accepted for them; and an universal conditional pardon is en­acted, sealed, and recorded, and offered and urged on all to whom the Gospel cometh; and nothing but their obstinate, wilful refusal or neglect, can deprive them of it: And this is so great a degree of pardon, that it is called often by such ab­solute [Page 336] names, as if all were done; because all is done which concerneth God as Legislator or Covenant maker, to do, before our own Acceptance of it.

Suppose a Prince redeem all his captive subjects from the Turkish slavery, and one half of them so love their state of bondage, or some harlot or ill company there (yea if all of them do so, till half of them are perswaded from it) that they will not come away. It is no improper nor unusual language to say that he hath redeemed them, and given them a release, though they would not have it. That may be given to a man, which he never hath, because he refuseth to accept it; wh