THE MISCHIEFS OF Self-Ignorance, AND THE BENEFITS OF Self-Acquaintance, Opened in Divers Sermons at Dunstan's-West: And Published in answer to the Accusations of some, and the Desires of others.

By Richard Baxter.

For if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself: But let every man prove his own work; and then shall he have re­joycing in himself alone, and not in another▪ For every man shall bear his own burden.

[...], Printed by R. White for F. Tyton, at the three daggers in Fleet-street, 1662. [...].

To the right Honourable Anne Countess of Balcarres, &c.


THough it be usual in Dedi­cations to proclaim the honour of inscribed names, and though the proclaiming of yours be a work that none are like to be offended at that know you, they esteeming you the honour of your [...]x and nation; yet that you may see I intend [...]ot to displease you by any unsafe or unsa­ [...]oury applause, I shall presume here to lay [...] double dishonour upon you: The one by [...]refixing your name to these lean and hasty [...]ermons: The other by laying part of the [...]ame upon your self, and telling the world [...]at the fault is partly yours that they are [...]blished; Not only yours I confess: For [Page] had it not been for some such auditors as Christ had, Luk. 20.20. and Mark 12.13. and for the frequent reports of such as are mentioned Psal. 35.11. I had not written down all that I delivered, and so had been uncapable of so easily answering your de­sires. But it was you that was not content to hear them, but have invited them to recite their message more publikely: as if that were like to be valued, and effectual upon common hearts, which through your strength of charity and holy appetite, is so with yours. My own thoughts went in the middle way; neither thinking as those that accused these Sermons of injurious tendencie, against — I know not whom, or what. (that have been so long in contention, that they dream they are still contending, and fan­cie every word they hear, from those that their uncharitableness calleth adversaries, to signifie some hostile terrible thing; as the scalded head doth fear cold water:) nor yet did I thinke them worthy to be tendered by such a publication to the world: But valuing your judgement, and knowing that the subject is of great necessity, though the manner of handling be dull and dry, I hope it may be profitable to some; and I find nothing in it to be hurtful unto any, an [...] [Page] therefore submit, and leave you both to bear the blame, and take the thanks, if any be re­turned.

I perceive you value the subjects which you have found in the practice of your soul to be most useful: As they that know God would fain have all others to know him; so those that know themselves, do love the Glass, and would have others to make use of it: I wonder not if your experience of the bene­fits of self-acquaintance, provoke you to desire to have more partakers in so profi­table and so sweet a [...]knowledge. Had you not known your self, you had never known your Saiviour, your God, your way and [...]our end, as you have done: you had never [...]een so well acquainted with the symptomes [...]nd cure of the diseases of the Soul; the [...]ature and exercise of grace, the way [...]f mortification, and the comfortable [...]upports, refreshments and fore-tasts of [...]eavenly believers: you had never so clearly [...]en the vanity of all the pomp and fulness [...]f the world, nor so easily and resolutely de­ [...]ised its flatteries and baits, nor so quietly [...]rn variety of afflictions; nor imitated [...]oses, Heb. 11.25, 26. nor received the [...] Character, Psal. 15. He that is a stranger [...] himself, his sin, his misery, his necessi­ty, [Page] &c. is a stranger to God, and to all that might denominate him wise or happy. To have taken the true measure of our capaci­ties, abilities, infirmities, and necessities, and thereupon to perceive what is really BEST FOR ƲS, and most agreeable to our case, is the first part of true practical saving knnowledge. Did the distracted mindless world consider, what work they have at home for their most serious thoughts and care and diligence, and of what unspeakable concernment and necessity it is, and that men carry within them the matter of their final doom, and the beginning of endless Joy or sorrows, they would be called home from their busie-idleness, their laborious-loss of precious time, and unprofitable vagaries, and would be studying their hearts, while they are doting about a multitude of impertinencies, and would be pleasing God while they are purvey­ing for the flesh; and they would see that it more concerneth them to know the day of their salvation, and now to lay up a-treasure in Heaven, that they may die in faith, and live in everlasting Joy and Glory, than i [...] the crowd and noise of the ambitious, cove­tous, voluptuous Sensualists, to run after a feather, till time is past, and mercy gone, and endless woe hath unexpectedly surprized [Page] them. Yet do these dead men think they live, because they laugh, and talke, and ride, and goe, and dwell among gnats and flies in the sun shine, and not with worms and dust in darkness: They think they are awake, because they dream that they are busie; and that they are doing the works of men, be­cause they make a pudder and a noise for finer cloaths, and larger room, and sweeter morsels, and lower congees and submissions than their poorer undeceived neighbours have: They think they are sailing to feli­city, because they are tossed up and down: And if they can play the Jacks among the fishes, or the wolves or foxes in the flocks of Christ, or if they can attain to the honour of a Pestilence, to be able to do a great deal of [...]urt, they are proud of it, and look as high [...]s if they saw neither the Grave nor Hell, [...]or knew how quickly they must be taken down, and laid so low, that [the Righte­ous shall see it, and fear, and laugh at [...]hem, saying, Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength, but trusted in [...]he abundance of his riches, and strength­ [...]ed himself in his wickedness▪ Psal. 52. [...], 7. [Behold, these are the ungodly that [...]rosper in the world, and increase in rich­ [...]s; surely they are set in slippery places, [Page] and cast down to destruction and brought to desolation as in a moment; and utterly consumed with terrors; As a dream when one awaketh, so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image, Psal. 73. Though while they lived they blessed themselves, and were praised by m [...]n; yet when they die they carry nothing away; their glory shall not descend after them; like sheep they are laid in the grave: death shall feed on them, and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; Man in honour abideth not; he is like the beasts that perish; This their way is their folly; yet their posteri­ty approve their sayings, Psal. 49. As the proverb is, At last the wolfs skin is brought to the market, and the Foxes to the Furrier. They shall find that God is not afraid to lay the hand of Justice on the stoutest of them, and will be as bold with silk [...]n shining gallants, as with the poorest worms; and will spit in the face of that mans glory, who durst spit in the face of the Glory of his Redeemer; and will trample upon the interest which is set up against the interest of Christ. The jovial world do now think that self-study is too Melancholy a thing: and they choose to be distracted [Page] for fear of being melancholy: and will be Mad in Solomons sense, that they may be wise and happy in their own: Eccles. 2.2. The heart of fools is in the house of mirth, and the heart of the wise in the house of mourning, Eccles. 7.4. and yet there is most Joy in the Hearts of the wise, and least solid peace in the hearts of fools: They know that conscience hath so much against them, that they dare not hear its accu­sations and its sentence: They dare not look into [...]he hideous dungeon of their hearts: nor per­ [...]se the accounts of their bankrupt souls, nor [...]ead the history of their impious unprofitable [...]ives, lest they should be tormented before [...]e time: They dare not live like seri­ [...]us men, l [...]st they should lose thereby the [...]lights of bruits. O sinful men! against [...]hat light, both natural and supernatural, [...] they offend! They see how all things haste [...]way; The names of their predecessors are [...]ft as a warning to them; every corps [...]at is carried to the grave, being dead, yet [...]eaketh: and every bone that is thence [...]st up, doth rise as a witness against their [...]xury and lust: and yet they will have [...]eir wills and pleasure while they may, [...]atever it cost them: and they will set [...]eir houses on fire that they might have one [Page] merry blaze, and warm them once before they die.

O Madam, how happy are you (if one on earth may be called happy,) that have looked home so often and so seriously, that now you can dwell at home in peace, and need not, as the ungodly, be a terror to your self, nor run away from your self, nor seek a place to hide you from your self: when impious vagrants have so abused their Consci­ences, that they dare not converse with them, nor meet them alone or in the dark! what a mercy is it, that in the great Reconciler you are reconciled to your Conscience, and that it doth not find you out as an enemy, but is a messenger of peace and of good tidings to you! That you need not the smiles of great ones to refresh you, nor pompous entertain­ments, complements, plays or sports to re­create you and drive away your sorrows; but that you can find more blessed and de­lectable company and employment at home; That you can daily retire into your self, and there peruse a richer treasure, than bodily eyes on earth can see; and there be taken up with a far more contenting satisfactory employment, and a more fruitful and plea­sant converse and recreation, than any creature in Court or Countrey can afford: [Page] That your Joy is laid up where the hand [...]f violence cannot touch it; and that they [...]hat can deprive you of estate, and liberty, and [...]fe, yet cannot take your comfort from you. That when fleshly unthrifts love not home, [...]ecause all is spent, and they can expect no [...]etter entertainment there than want, con­ [...]sion, chiding and distress, you can with­ [...]aw from a coufused troublesome world, in­ [...] a well-furnished and adorned soul, reple­ [...]shed with the precious fruits of the Spirit, [...]d beautified with the image of your Lord!

Madam, what sweet and noble employ­ [...]ent have you there, in comparison of that [...]hich worldlings are troubled with abroad! [...]here you may read the sentence of your [...]stification, as foregoing and foreshewing [...] publike final sentence of your Judge: [...]ere you can converse with God himself, [...] in his vindictive Justice, but as he is [...]ve: For the love that dwelleth so plen­ [...]fully in you, doth prove that God dwel­ [...]h in you, and you in him, 1 Joh. 4.7, [...] 16. There you may converse with Christ [...]ur head, that dwelleth in you by faith, [...]hes. 3.17. and with the Holy Ghost who [...]elleth in you, and hath communion with [...], by the beams of his illuminating, san­ [...]fying, Confirming and comforting grace: [Page] There, as in his Temple you are speaking o [...] his Glory, (1 Cor. 3.16, 17. & 6.19 with Psal. 29.9) and rejoycing in his holy praise, and remembring what he hath don [...] for your soul: There you can peruse th [...] Records of his Mercy, and think with gra [...]titude and delight, how he did first illumi [...]nate you, and draw and engage your hear [...] unto himself: what advantage he got upo [...] you, and what iniquity he prevented by th [...] mercies of your education, and how he secretly took acquaintance with you in your youth▪ How he delivered you from worldly fleshly snares; how he caused you to savour th [...] things of the Spirit: how he planted you i [...] a sound well ordered Church, where h [...] quickened and conducted you by a lively faithful Ministery, and watered his gifts by their constant powerful preaching of his word where Discipline was for a defence, an [...] where your heart was warmed with th [...] communion of the Saints, and where you learned to worship God in spirit and in truth; and where you were taught so effectually by God to discern between the precious and th [...] vile, and to love those that are born of God whom the world knoweth not, that no subtil [...]ties or calumnies of the Serpent can unteach it you, or ever be able to separate you from [Page] [...]at love. You may read in these sacred [...]cords of your Heart, how the Angel of [...] Covenant hath hitherto conducted you, [...]rough this wilderness towards the land of [...]omise; how he hath been a cloud to you in [...] day, and a pillar of fire by night; how [...] Lord did number you with the people that [...] his flock, his portion, and the lot of his in­ [...]itance: and led you about in a desert land, [...]tructed you, and kept you as the apple of [...] eye. (Deut. 32.9.10.) His Manna [...]th compassed your tent: his doctrine hath [...]pped as the rain, and his words distilled as [...] dew; as the small rain upon the tender [...], and as the showres upon the grass, (v. 2.) [...] his beloved you have dwelt in safety by [...]; and the Lord hath covered you all [...] day long, (c. 33.12.) when storms have [...], he hath been your refuge; and when [...] compassed you on every side, he hath [...] you as in his pavilion, and his Angels [...]ve pitcht their tents about you, and born [...] up: you have been fortified in troubles, [...] enabled comfortably to undergoe them: [...] war and in peace; in your native country [...] in forreign lands; among your friends [...] among your enemies; in Court and Coun­ [...]; in prosperity and adversity, you have [...]nd that there is none like the God of [Page] Israel, who rideth upon the heaven i [...] your help, and his excellency on the skie▪ The Eternal God hath been your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arm [...] (Deut. 34.26, 27.) You may remembe [...] the mercies of your younger years, of you [...] maried state, and of your widdow-hood your comforts in your truly Noble Lord though troubled and interrupted by his death yet increased by the consideration of his fe [...]licity with Christ; your comfort in you [...] hopeful issue, though abated by the injur [...] of Romish theft, which stole one of the Rose [...] of your Garden, that they might boast of th [...] sweetness when they called it their own: ( [...] may well say, stole it, when all the chea [...] was performed by unknown persons in th [...] dark; and no importunity by you or [...] could procure me one dispute or conference i [...] her hearing, with any of the seducers, be [...]fore her person was stoln away.) Though comforts conveyed by creatures must hav [...] their pricks, yet your experience hath partly taught you (and more will do) that by all th [...] mixtures of sower and bitter ingredients your Father doth temper you the most whole [...]some composition; He chasteneth you fo [...] your profit, that you may be partaker o [...] his Holiness (Heb. 12.10.) and the leas [...] [Page] degree of Holiness cannot be purchased at too dear a rate. His rod and staffe have com­forted you: and whatever are the begin­nings, the End will be, the quiet fruit of Righteousness, when you have been ex­ercised therein: And though man be muta­ble, and friends, and flesh, and heart have failed you, yet God is still the strength of [...]our heart, and your portion for ever, Psal. [...]3.26. O the variety of learning that is [...]ontained in the secret writings of a sanctified heart! The variety of subjects for the most [...]ruitful and delightful thoughts, which you [...]ay find recorded in the inwards of your [...]oul! How pleasant is it there to find the [...]haracters of the special Love of God, the [...]eaments of his Image, the transcript of [...] Law, the harmony of his gifts and graces, [...]e witness, the seal and the earnest of his [...]pirit, and the foretasts and beginnings of [...]ternal Life! As Thankfulness abhors [...]livion, and is a Recording grace, and keep­ [...]h Histories and Catalogues of Mercies; so [...] it a Reward unto it self; and by these Re­ [...]rds it furnisheth the soul with matter for [...]he sweetest employments and delights; Is it [...] pleasant to you there to Read, how God [...]th confuted the objections of distrust? how [...] he hath condescended to your weakness, [Page] and pardoned you when you could not easily forgive your self? how oft he hath enter­tained you in secret with his Love? and vi­sited you with his consolations? How neer him sometimes you have got in fervent prayer, and serious meditation? And when for a season he hath hid his face, how soon and seasonably he returned? How oft he hath found you weeping, and hath wiped away your tears? and calmed and quieted your troubled soul? How he hath resolved your doubts, and expelled your fears; and heard your prayers? How comfortably he hath called you His Child; and given you leave, and commanded you to call him Father; when Christ hath brought you with boldness into his presence! How sweet should it be to your remembrance, to think how the Love of Christ hath sometime exalted you above these sublunary things! How the Spirit hath taken you up to Heaven, and shewed to your faith the Glory of the New Hierusalem, the blessed company of those Holy spirits that attend the Throne of the Majesty of God, and the shining face of your glorified Head! By what seasonable and happy Messengers he hath sent you the Cluster of Grapes as the first fruits of the land of promise! and commanded you oft to Take and [Page] Eate the Bread of Life? How oft he hath reached to your thirsty soul the fruit of the Vine, and turned it sacramentally into his blood, and bid you drink it in remembrance of him, till he come and feast you with his fullest Love, and satisfie you with the plea­sure and presence of his Glory.

But the volumes of mercy written in your heart, are too great to be by me tran­scribed. I can easily appeal to you that are acquainted with it, whether such Heart-employment be not more pleasant and more profitable, than any of the entertainments that flashy wit, or gaudy gallantry, or mer­riments, luxurit, or preferments can afford? Is it not better converse with Christ at home, than with such as are described, Psa. 12. abroad? To dwell with all that blessed retinue, Gal. 5.22, 23. than with Pride, Vainglory, Envy, Dissimulation, Hypocrisie, Falshood, time-wasting, soul-destroying plea­sures, to say nothing of the filthiness which Christian years abhor the mention of, and which God himself in time will judge, Eph. 5.3, 4, 5, 6. Heb. 13.4. and the rest re­cited, Gal. 5.19, 20, 21. If ungodly per­sons do find it more unpleasant to converse at home, no wonder, when there is nothing but darkness and defilement; and when they have [Page] put God from them, and entertained Satan, so that their hearts are like to haunted houses, where terrible cries and apparitions do make it a place of fear to the inhabitants. But if their souls had such blessed inhabitants as yours; could they meet there with a recon­ciled God, a Father, a Saviour and a sancti­fier; had they souls that kept a correspon­dency with Heaven, it would not seem so sad and terrible a life, to dwell at home, and withdraw from that noise of vanity abroad, which are but the drums and trumpets of the devil, to encourage his deluded followers, and drown the cries of miserable souls. Your dearest friends and chiefest treasure, are not abroad in Court or Country; but above you, and within you; where then should your delightful converse be, but where your friends and treasure are? Matth. 6.21. Phil. 3.20. Col. 3.1, 2, 3, 4. When then is almost nothing to be found in the conver­sation of the world, but discord and distracti­on, and confusion, and clamours, and malice, and treachery, is it not better to retire into such a heart, where notwithstanding infirmi­ties and some doubts and fears; there is or­der, and concord, and harmony, and such Peace, as the world can neither give nor take away? O blessed be the hand of Love, that [Page] blotted out the names of Honour, and Riches, and Pleasures, and carnal interest, and accommodations, from your heart; and inscribed his own in Characters never to be obliterate! That turned out Ʋsurpers, and so prepared and furnished your heart, as to make and judge it such, as no one is worthy of it but himself. O what a Court have you chosen for your abode? How high and Glorious! how pure and holy! unchangeable and safe! How ambitiously do you avoid ambition? How great are you in the lowli­ness of your mind? How high in your Humility? Will no lower a place than Heaven content you to converse in? (For Heart-converse and Heaven-converse are as much one, as beholding both the Glass and Face:) Will no lower correspondents satis­fie you than the Host of Heaven? Cannot the company of imperfect mortals serve your [...]urn? Nay, can you be satisfied with none below the Lord himself? Well, Madam, if you will needs have it so, it shall be so: What you judge BEST FOR YOƲ, shall be yours: what you had rather be, [...]ou are: and where you had rather dwell, [...]ou shall: and seeing you have understood [...]hat One thing is necessary, and have [...]hosen the Good part, it shall not be [Page] taken from you, Luke 10.41, 42. Having first sought the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, you shall have such Ad­dionalls as will do you good, Matth. 6.33. Rom. 8.28. Psal. 84.11. You have learned to know while God is yours, how little of the Creature you need, and how little ad­dition it maketh to your happiness (You are Wise enough if you live to God; and honourable enough if you are a member of Christ; and rich enough if you are an heir of heaven; and beautiful enough if you have the image of God: and yet having made your choice of these, how liberally hath God cast in as overplus, the inferior kind; which you find in losing them? As if he had said t [...] you, as to Solomon, 2 Chron. 1.11. [Be­cause this was in thine heart, and thou ha [...] not asked riches, wealth or honour, no [...] the life of thine enemies, neither yet ha [...] asked long life; but hast asked Wisdo [...] and knowledge for thy self— Wisdo [...] and Kowledge is granted to thee; and will give thee Riches, and wealth, and ho [...]nour—]; as if God would convin [...] even flesh itself that none are like the ser [...]vants of the Lord: And when the envio [...] one hath said, that You serve not God so nought, though he hath been permitted [...] [Page] put forth his hand, and touch you in your dearest friends and relations; your peace, your habitation and estate, yet hath he so re­strained him, and supported you, as may easily convince you that the Worst of Christ is better than the Best of the World, or Sin.

I have purposely been long in opening the felicity of Heart-converse, as a matter of your own experience, both for the exciting of you to a life of Thankfulness to God, and that this undigested Treatise which you have drawn out into the light, may come to your hands with some supply, in that part of the Application which doth most concern you: And because your Name may draw the eyes of many others to read this Preface, I shall add here a few Directions to those that would be well acquainted with themselves, and would comfortably converse at home.

Direct. 1. Let him not overvalue or mind the deceitful world, that would have fruitful converse with God & with himself: Trust not such a cheater, as hath robbed so many thousands before us; especially when God and common experience do call out to us to take heed: The study of Riches, and rising, and reputation, and pleasures agreeth not with this study of God, and of our hearts: And though the world will not take acquain­tance [Page] with us, if we come not in their fashi­on, nor see us, if we stand not on the higher ground; yet it is much better to be unknown to others, than to our selves: Though they that live upon the trade, do thinke there is no fishing like the Sea, yet those that take it but on the by, will rather choose the smaller waters, where though the fish be less, yet few are drowned, and made a prey to the fish that they would have catched. A retirement therefore must be made, from the inordinate pursuit of worldly things, and the charms of honours, riches, and de­lights: And if some present loss do seem to follow, it is indeed no loss, which tendeth un­to gain. He will catch no fish that will not lose his flie. Me thinks they that sincerely pray [Load us not into temptation,] should not desire to have bolts and barrs between God and them, and to dwell where salvation is hardliest attained! Desire not to be planted in any such place, (though it seem a Paradise,) where God is most unknown, and used as a stranger, and where Saints are wonders, and examples of serious piety are most rare, and where a Heavenly Conversa­tion is known but by reports, and reported of according to the malice of the Serpent, and represented but as fancie, hypocrisie or [Page] faction: where sin most prospereth, and is in least disgrace; and where it is a greater shame to be a Saint than to be a swine; a serious Christian, than a seared stupified sensualist: Bless you from that place where the weeds of vice are so rank, as that no good plant can prosper neer them: where gain is Godliness; and impiety is necessary to acceptable observance; and a tender Conscience, and the fear of God, are chara­cters of one too surly and unplyable to be countenanced by men; where the tongue that nature formed to be the Index of the mind, is made the chiefest instrument to hide it; and men are so conscious of their own incre­dibility, that no one doth believe or trust another: where no words are Heart-deep, but those that are spoken Against Christs cause and interest, or for their own; where a vile person is honoured, and those contemned that fear the Lord: Bless you from the place where truth is intollerable, and un­truth cloaked with its name: where holi­ness is lookt at as an Owle or enemie, and yet hypocrisie must steal its honour from it: where he is a Saint that is less wicked than infamous transgressors; and where Dives life is blameless temperance; and where Pride, Idleness, Fulness of bread, and filthy fornication and lasciviousness, are [Page] the infirmities of Pious and excellent per­sons: where great sins are small ones, and small ones are none; and where the greatest must have no reproof, and the Physicion is ta­ken for the greatest enemy: where chaffe is va­lued at the price of wheat, and yet the famine is of choice: where persons and things are measured by Interest; and duty to God derided as fully, when ever it crosseth the wisdom of the world, and hated as some hurtful thing when it crosseth fleshly men in their desires: And where Dives Brethren are unwarned; and none are more secure and frolick, than those that to morrow may be in Hell; and as at the Gladiators sports, none complain less than those that speed worst, quia caesi silent, spectatores vociferantur. Old Travellers are usually most addicted to end their days in solitude; Learn to contemn the world at cheaper rates than they; Neither hope, nor wish to live an Alexander, and die a Socrates; A Crowd or concourse, though of the greatest, where is the greatest tumult of affairs, and confluence of temptations, is not the safest place to die in: and I have most mind to live where I would die. Where men are Barbari moribus, etsi non natione; Chri­stians in Name, and infidels in Conversa­tion: the sweetness of their Christian names [Page] will not preserve them or you from the dan­ger of their unchristian lives: It was not the whole of Lots deliverance to be saved from the flames of Sodom, but it was much of it to be freed from their malitious rage, and filthy grievous conversations: The best medicine against the Plague, is to keep far enough from the place that hath it. The Proverb saith, He shall have fleas that will lye with the dogs. Desire not that condition, where all seem friends, but none are friends indeed; but they that seem to be your servants, are by flattery serving themselves upon you: Where few persons or things are truly represented; but men are judged of by the descriptions of their enemies, and the Lambs have the skins and names of Wolves: and the best are odious when bold calumniators load them with odious accusations. In a word, desire not the place, where the more men seek, the less they find, and the more they find, the less they have: and the more they have, the less they do en­joy: Where the more are their provisions the less are their supplies: the more their wealth, the more their want: the more thier pleasure, the less their Peace: the greater their Mirth, the less their Joy: the greater their confi­dence, the less their safety: Where the great Mistake about their Happiness, their Best, [Page] their End, doth make their lives a constant error, and death a dolefull disappointment: He must needs lie crooked that hath so short a bed.

Direct. 2. Keep all clean and sound with­in; that there may be little of loathsome­ness to disaffect you, or terror to frighten you from your selves; It is a frightfull thing to be much conversing with a guilty soul, and hearing the accusations of a consci­ence not cleansed by the blood of Christ: And it is an unpleasant thing to be searching in our wounds, and reading the history of a life of folly; especially of wilful sin, and of un­grateful neglect of offered grace. Make not such work for your self, if you love it not. We make our beds ill, and then we are aweary of them, because they are so hard: Our Comforts are more in our own hands then in any others: The best friend or Pastor can­not do so much to promote them, nor the great­est enemy so much to destroy them as our selves. If we will surfet, and make our selves sick, we must endure it. If Wasps and Vipers be our guests, no wonder if we dwell not quietly at home; and if we sit not at ease, when we carry thorns about us. Folly and Concu­piscence breed our misery: It is the smoak of our own corruptions that troubleth our eyes, [Page] and the scent & smart of our ulcerated minds that most annoyeth us. We cannot waste our Peace, and have it. Turk and Pope, and all the terrible names on earth, are not so terri­ble deservedly to a sinner as his own: The nearest evil is the most hurtful evil: If a scolding Wife be such a continual dropping, and troublesome companion, as Solomon tells us, what then is a distempered, troubled mind, and a chiding conscience? It is pitty that man should be his own afflicter, but so it is: And, as the proverb is, he hath great need of a fool, that will play the fool himself; so I may say, He hath great need of a tormenter, that will be a tormenter to himself. Folly, and lust, and rashness, and passion are sorry keepers of our [...]eace: Darkness and filth do make a dunge­ [...]n, and not a delightful habitation of our [...]earts: God would take pleasure in them, if [...]e kept them clean; and would walk with [...]s in those gardens, if we kept them drest: But if we will defile his Temple, and make [...] unpleasing unto him, he will make it un­ [...]leasing unto us. Terror and trouble are [...]he shadow of sin, that follow it, though the [...]un shine never so brightly. If we carry [...]re in our cloaths, we shall smell it at the [...]ast. Keep close to God: obey his will: [...]ake sure of your Reconciliation and Adop­tion: [Page] keep clear your Evidences: and grieve not the holy Spirit which sealeth you, and must comfort you: And then it will do you good to look into your heart, and there you shall find the most delightful company; and the Spi­rit that you have there entertained, will there entertain you with his joyes.

But if disorder have prevailed and made your Hearts a place of trouble, yet fly not from it, and refuse not to converse with it: For though it be not at the present a work of pleasure, it is a work of Necessity, and may tend to pleasure in the end: Conversing wise­ly and faithfully with a disordered troubled heart, is the way to make it a well ordered and quiet heart.

Direct. 3. In judging of your present state and actions, let one eye be al­wayes on the end: This will both quick­en you to be serious in the duty, and di­rect you in all particular cases to judge aright. As the approach of death doth convince almost all men of the necessity of studying themselves, and calleth them to it from all other studies; so the considerate fore­sight of it, would do the like in better time▪ And it is the End that communicateth th [...] Good or Evil to all things in the way: an [...] therefore as they have relation to the End[Page] they must be judged of. When you peruse your actions, consider them as done by one that is entring into Eternity, and as those that must all be opened in a clearer light. If we separate our actions in our considerations from their ends, they are not of the same sig­nification, but taken to be other things then indeed they are. If the Oaths, the Lies, the Slanders, the Sensuality and filthiness of im­pure-sinners, had not relation to the loss of Heaven, and to the pains of Hell, they were not matters of that exceeding moment as now they are: And if the Holiness, Obedience and Watchfulness of believers, had no relation to the escaping of Hell fire, and the attainment of eternal life, they would be of lower value then they are. The more clearly men dis­cern that God is present, that judgement is at hand, that they are near to Heaven or Hell, where millions have already received their reward, the more seriously will they study, and the better will they know themselves.

Direct. 4. Though you must endeavour to judge your self truly as you are, yet rather encline to think meanly, then highly of your self, and be rather too suspitious, then too presumptuous. My reasons for this direction are, Because mans nature is gene­rally disposed to self-exalting; and pride, and [Page] self-love are sins so common and so strong, as that it is a thing of wondrous difficulty to overcome them, so far as to judge our selves impartially, and to err as little in our own cause, as if it were anothers: and be­cause self-exalting hath far more dangerous effects, then self-abasing, supposing them to exceed their bounds. Prudent humility i [...] a quieting grace, and avoideth many storms and tempests, which trouble and shake the peace of others. It maketh men thankfull for that little as undeserved, which others repine at as short of their expectations: It telleth the sufferer that God doth afflict him much less then he deserveth: and causeth him to say, I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him (Micah 7.9.) It teacheth us a cautelous suspition of our own understandings, and a just sub­mission to those that are wiser than our­selves: When Pride keepeth out Wisdom, by keeping out the knowledge of our ignorance. And as Pliny tells us of some Nations, where they are grey-headed in their Infancy, and black-headed when they are old; So Pride maketh many wise so soon, that they never come to be truly wise: They think in youth that they have more than the wisdom of age, and therefore in age they have less then what be­seemed [Page] them in youth. Every hard report or usage is ready to break a proud mans heart: when contempt doth little disquiet the hum­ [...]le, because they judge so meanly of them­ [...]elves. The proud are frequently disturbed, [...]ecause they climb into the seats of others: when humility sits quietly, and no one bids it [...]ise, because it knoweth and keepeth its own [...]lace. Therefore it is that true contrition [...]aving once told us of our folly to the Heart, [...]oth make us walk more circumspectly while [...]e live: And that no man is better re­ [...]olved then he that was once in doubt, and [...]hat no man standeth faster, than he that hath [...]ad a fall: and no man is more safe, then he [...]hat hath had most assaults. If you love your [...]afety, desire not either to be, or to seem too [...]igh. Be little in your own eyes, and be con­ [...]ent to be so in the eyes of others. As for worldly Greatness, affect neither the thing, [...]or the reputation of it: Look up if you [...]lease, to the tops of Steeples, Masts and Mountains: but stand below if you would [...]e safe. Though the Chimney be the highest [...]art of the house; it is not the cleanest or [...]he sweetest part: it is scorcht more with [...]he fire, and suffocated with the smoke than [...]ther parts. And for spiritual endowments, [...]esire them, and improve them: but desire not [Page] inordinately the reputation of them: It sel [...]dom increaseth a mans Humility, to be re­puted Humble: And though Humility he [...] you to bear applause, yet the remnants of pri [...] are ready to take fire, and other sins to get ad [...]vantage by it.

Direct. 5. Improve your self-acquain [...]tance to a due apprehension of what is mo [...] suitable, most profitable, and necessary fo [...] you, and what is most hurtfull, unsuitabl [...] and unnecessary. He that hath taken a ju [...] measure of himself, is the better able [...] judge of all things else. How suitable wi [...] Christ and grace appear, and how unsuitabl [...] will worldly pomp appear, to one that trul [...] knows himself? How suitable will serio [...] fervent worship appear, and how unsuitab [...] the ludicrous shews of Hypocrites? And [...] pair of eyes will be valued above many pa [...] of spectacles: and one pair of legs before [...] pair of crutches, by one that is not a stra [...]ger to himself. He that takes grass and pr [...]vender to be his best and most delightful fo [...] hath sure forgotten that he is a man, an [...] taketh himself to be but a beast, or else [...] would not choose the food of a beast, nor us [...] himself as a beast. If a man knew arig [...] the capacity and tendency of the Reasonab [...] nature, and the evil of sin, and the necessit [...] [Page] and distress of an unrenewed soul, what sweet, what longing thoughts would he have of God, and all that tendeth to the pleasing and en­ [...]oying of him? How little would he think himself concerned in the trivial matters of [...]onour or dishonour, riches or poverty, favour [...]r displeasure, further than as they help or [...]inder him in the things that are of more [...]egard? Know your self, and you will know what to Love, and what to hate; what to [...]hoose, and what to refuse; what to hold, and what to lose; what to esteem, and what to [...]ight; what to fear, and when to be couragious [...]nd secure: the curing the dotage thus, would [...]ure the night walks of the dreaming, va­ [...]ant world: And they that find that mu­ [...]ck cureth not the Stone or Gowt, would know [...]hat mirth▪ and gallantry, and vain-glory, [...]re no preservatives from Hell, nor suffici­ [...]t cure for a guilty soul: And that if an [...]king head must have a better remedy than [...] golden Crown, and a deaseased body, a [...]ore suitable cure than a silken suit, a di­ [...]ased soul doth call for more.

Direct. 6. Value not your self by muta­ [...]e Accidents, but by the essence and sub­ [...]nce of Christianity. A mans life con­ [...]teth not in the abundance which he pos­ [...]sseth, Luke 12.15. Paul knew better what [Page] he said, when he accounted all but loss and dung for the knowledge and fruition of Je­sus Christ (Phil. 3.7, 8.) then they that dote on it as their felicity: And is a man to be valued, applauded, and magnified for his dung, or for his personal endowments? Is that your perfume, that stinketh in the no­strils of men of sounder senses? Judge not of the person by his apparel, when the fool­ishest and the worst may wear the same: The Master and inhabitants honour the house more than the house doth the Master and inhabitants. All the wit and learn­ing in the world, with all the Riches, Ho­nour and applause, yea and all the civility and winning deportment, will not make a Christian of an Infidel or Atheist, nor a hap­py of a miserable man; As nothing will make a man honourable indeed, that hath not the use of Reason, which differenceth m [...] from bruits; so nothing will make or pro [...] him holy or happy or safe, that hath not the Holy Image of God, which must difference his children from his enemies: If he be un­sanctified, and be not a new creature, and have not the spirit of Christ within him▪ he is an Atheist, or Infidel, or an ungodly wretch, let him be never so rich, or great▪ or honourable. And as a harlot is never beau­tifull [Page] in the eyes of the wise and chaste, so a wicked man is never happy in the eyes of any but his phrenetick society.

Direct. 7. Think not that a few seldom hasty thoughts will bring and keep you in [...]cquaintance with your self. It must be diligent observation, and serious consideration [...]hat must accomplish this. Many a man walketh where he doth not dwell. A transi­ [...]nt salute is not a sign of intimate familiari­ [...]y. It is enough sometime to step into your [...]eighbours house for a charitable visit; but [...]ou must dwell in your own; Be more busie and [...]ensorious at home then the proud and the ma­ [...]icious are abroad: and be as seldom and tender [...] censuring others as such Hypocrites are in [...]ensuring themselves. Put on your spectacles [...] home, when you are reading over the Re­ [...]ister of your consciences; but wear them [...]t as you walk the streets; but take up [...]ith so much knowledge of ordinary passen­ [...]ers as you can have without them. Think [...]t that you are unconcerned in the danger or [...]fety of your neighbour, but remember that [...]u are more concerned in your own. Its [...]ere most reasonable to say, that charity [...]gins at home, when self-neglect will dis­ [...]ble you to help another. And if sometimes [...]ur falls or frailty do find you matter for [Page] purging, griping, troublesome thoughts, and interrupt your sweeter, comfortable medita­tions, refuse not the trouble when you have made it necessary: Its many a sad and seri­ous thought that the Ministers of Christ have for the cure and safety of their flocks: and should not the people have as serious thoughts for themselves? None foul their hands (saith the Proverb) about their own work▪ They that bring in the filth, should not re­fuse to sweep it out. We must not cast all the foul and troublesome work upon our Nurses, as long as we can help our selves. Your Reason, your Wisdom, care and diligence▪ are more your Own than any ones else; an [...] therefore should be more used for your self then for any. And if after much thought­fulness, and labour, you find your heart to b [...] no whit better, yet Labour and Believe. [...] is not the last blow of the axe alone, that cut [...] down the Tree, though it fall not till th [...] last: The growth of Grace, as of plant [...] and fruits, and flowers, is not perceived [...] immediate inspection. There is much go [...] obtained when we discern it not: And no [...]thing is more certain, than that honest dil [...]gence is never lost in the things of God an [...] our salvation. It is worth all our labour, [...] we grow no better, to keep our spark fro [...] [Page] going out, and to see that we grow no worse: And the preventing of Evil, is here an ex­cellent Good. Many a thousand eat and drink, that never hope to grow any fatter or stronger than they are: It is not nothing to be sustain­ed for our daily work and to have our oyl renewed daily as it wasteth. The mill gets by going, saith the Proverb, though it stir not from the place. O keep the Heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life, Prov. 4.23. Actions receive their spe­cification and quality from the Heart. Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, Prov. 18.21. but the tongue is in the power of the Heart.

Direct. 8. Let not your self-knowledge be meerly speculative, or affective, but also Practical. Be not contented that you know what you are, and what you have [...]one, nor that your Heart is much Affected with it: but let all tend to Action, to mend what is amiss, and to maintain, improve [...]nd increase what is good: and let the next [...]uestion be, What am I now to do? or What must I be for time to come? It is a lamentable [...]istake of many that tire themselves with [...]riving to make deep affecting impressions on [...]heir hearts, and when they have got much [...]rrow, or much joy, they think they have done [Page] [...] [Page] [...] [Page] the greatest matter, and there they stop: But Affections are the spring that must move to Action; and if you proceed not to your Duty, Affection is much lost; And if with smaller Affection or passion you can stedfastly and resolutely cleave to God, and do your Duty, you have the principal thing, and are accep­ted: Not that outward Actions are accepted without the Heart; but that there is most of the Heart, where there is most of the Esti­mation and Will, though less of Passion: and there is most of Will, where there is most Endeavour: and inward Action is the first part of Obedience: And without these, no speculations will avail: However you find your Heart, be up and doing in the use of means, to make it better, and wait on God for further grace.

Direct. 9. Manage your self-acquaintance prudently, cautelously, and with the help of your skilfull friend or Pastor. Think not that it is a work that you need no Helper in. If you mistake in your Accounts, and put down a wrong summ, and call your self confidently what you are not, or deny Gods graces, when ever through Melancholy or distemper you cannot find them, and pass false conclusions against Gods mercies and your self, this were to turn a duty into a sin and snare.

[Page]And you must do it seasonably: Melan­choly persons are most uncapable of it, who do nothing but pore upon themselves to little purpose: such must do more of other Duty, but lay by much of this till they are more capable, and make much use of the Judge­ment of their Guides: And weaker Heads must take but a due proportion of time for self searching Meditations, lest they contract that troublesome disease: Duties must be used with profitable variety, and all done un­der good advice. But young persons, and those that are yet unconverted, have need to fall upon it without delay; and to follow it till they have made sure their calling and election, 2 Pet. 1.10. O what a dreadfull thing it is, for a man to come rawly and newly to the stu­dy of his soul, as a thing that he is unac­quainted with, when sickness is upon him, and death at hand, and he is ready to pass into ano­ther world! To be then newly to ask, What am I? and What have I done? and Whither am I going? and What will become of me for ever? is a most fearfull state of folly.

Direct. 10, Terminate not your know­ledge ultimately in your self: but pass up unto God in Christ, and to the blessed pri­viledges of the Saints, and the joyfull state of Endless Glory, and there let your medita­tions [Page] be most frequent and most sweet: But of this elsewhere.

Madam, I have added these Directions not principally for you that have learnt the Art, but for your hopefull Sons and Daughters, who must be taught these things betimes, and for your friends who will be invited hi­ther for your sake. They that know you not, will think I have taken too much liberty, and spoken too much both of you, and to you; But I appeal from such: They that know not how easily you can pardon any one, except your self, will aggravate the weaknesses which your charity will cover. I was purposely the longer because the Treatise is defective; And if one Kingdom do not hold us, and I should see your face no more on earth, yet till we meet in the Glorious Everlasting Kingdom, we shall have frequent converse by such means as these, notwithstanding our corporal distance: And as I am assured of a room in your fre­quent prayers, so I hope I shall remain,

Your faithfull Servant, and Remembrancer at the Throne of Grace, Richard Baxter.
August 25. 1661.



SInce the writing of this Epistle, finding you under the afflicting hand of God, thought meet to remember you of what [...]ou know, that God thus traineth up his [...]hildren for their Rest: whom he Loveth, [...]e chasteneth, and scourgeth every son [...]hom he receiveth: If we endure chasten­ [...]g, God dealeth with us as with children: [...]nd if we be without chastisement whereof [...] are partakers, then we are bastards and [...]ot sons, Heb. 12.6, 7, 8. The same flesh [...]at would be pleased, will grudge when it [...] displeased: and that which is our entice­ [...]g enemy in prosperity, will be our [...]sturbing enemy in adversity: As fleshly [...]inds misjudge of the law and service of [...]od, and cannot be subject because of the [...]mity against him, Rom. 8.7. so do they [...]sjudge of his chastisements: And so far [...] they participate of this disease, the best [...]ll be repining, and tempted to unworthy [...]oughts of God. Even innocent nature [...]oth to suffer; Christ himself saith, If it [Page] be thy will, let this cup pass from me: An [...] nature so far as it is corrupted, is yet muc [...] more averse, because the Flesh is more in [...]ordinately desirous of its ease, and passio [...] more turbulent when it is denyed, and th [...] soul hath less apprehension and relish [...] that Love of God, which is the cause an [...] End, and should sweeten all to a Recon [...]ciled well-composed mind: and it is als [...] less satisfied in the will of God, and it is le [...] subject to it: and patience is defective b [...]cause of the weakness of the Graces th [...] should support us. Besides which also, tenderness of spirit, and overmuch sensib [...]lity, fears and trouble, are ordinary effec [...] of the weak and tender nature of ma [...] especially of the more weak and tend [...] sex: And when all these concur (t [...] averseness of the most innocent nature, t [...] remnants of sin, and the special tenderne [...] of your nature and sex,) your burde [...] and tryal is much the greater, and yo [...] grief must needs be much the mo [...] But, I beseech you, remember, that yo [...] have not to do with an Enemy, but a F [...]ther that knoweth what he doth, a [...] meaneth you no hurt, but that which is t [...] fittest means to your good, and to yo [...] scaping greater hurt; that loveth you [...] [Page] less in the greatest of your pain and dan­ger, than in the greatest of your prosperity and peace: that you have a Head in Hea­ven that was partaker with us of flesh and blood, that he might deliver us from our bondage which we are in through the fear of death, who was made perfect by suf­fering; and is not ashamed to call us Bre­ [...]hren; being in all things made like unto us, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, [...]o make reconciliation for our sins: who [...]n that he himself hath suffered being tem­pted, is able to succour them that are [...]empted, Heb. 2.10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18. We have not an High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmi­ties, but was in all points tempted or tryed [...]s we are, but without sin: He that him­self in the days of his flesh, did offer up prayers and supplications, with strong cry­ [...]ng and tears to him that was able to save him from death, (Heb. 5.7.) will not be angry if his servants complain and cry [...]o him in their suffering: He that cryed [...]ut, My God, My God, why hast thou for­ [...]aken me! will pitty his poor distressed [...]embers, and not forsake them, when they [...]hink themselves forsaken; And if they [Page] go beyond their bounds in their complain­ings, he will not therefore disregard their moans; But he that honoured the patience of Job, though he so passionately curse [...] the day of his birth, will love the faith an [...] patience of his people, notwithstanding the mixtures of unbelief and impatience▪ He is ready with his gracious excuse▪ Matth. 26.41. The spirit is willing, bu [...] the flesh is weak; And he considereth that our strength and flesh is not of stone or brass, Job 6.12. He will therefore re­vive the spirit of the contrite, and wi [...] not contend for ever, nor be alwaies wroth lest the spirit should faile before him, and the souls which he hath made, Isai. 57.15, 16. And though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grie­vous: yet the end is that he may make u [...] partakers of his Holiness; and afterwar [...] it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righte­ousness to them that are exercised thereby, Heb. 12.10, 11. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is try­ed he shall receive the Crown of Life, which God hath promised to them that love him, Jam. 1.12. Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest O Lord, and teach­est him out of thy Law, that thou mayest [Page] give him rest from the days of adversity un­ [...]ill the pit be digged for the wicked; For the [...]ord will not Cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance, Psal. 94.12, 13, 14.

Madam, if nothing in all the world be more certain, that that there is a God, who [...]s true and just, and delighteth in his people when they are lowest in the world: If no­ [...]hing be more sure than that there is a Heaven for persevering penitent believers: [...]hen are our Arguments for the comfort of Gods afflicted ones, no fancies, but [...]etcht as from the highest excellencies, so [...]rom the surest realities that ever were presented to the understanding of a man: And though the best of Saints have been [...]ut to wrestle with the temptations that [...]rise from the adversity of Believers, and [...]he prosperity of the wicked; yet this is still [...]he result of all their perplexing thoughts; Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart: Though sometime their feet are almost gone, and their paths do well nigh slip, and they are ready to say, We have cleansed our hearts in vain, and washed our hands in innocency; for all the day are we plagued, and chastened every morning; yet they soon learn in the [Page] sanctuary of God, that the wicked are set in slippery places, and cast down into de­struction, and brought to desolation as in a moment, and utterly consumed with ter­rors; as a dream when one awaketh, so the Lord when he awaketh, will despise their image, Psal. 73. But marke the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the End of that man is peace, Psal. 37.37. Because sentence against an evil work is not exe­cuted speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil: But though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged: yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him, Eccles. 8.11, 12. If not here, yet certain­ly at last all shall say, Verily there is a Re­ward for the righteous, Psal. 58.11. Rest therefore in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: Commit your way to him: Trust in him, and he shall bring it to pass: For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever, Psal. 9.18. How happy are you that God doth thus save you from the temptations of prosperity, which you see befool and undo so many before your eyes! and that you are not left in the number of [Page] [...]hose, that are men of the world, which [...]ave their portion in this life! Psal. 17.14. [...]nd are given up to their own hearts lusts, [...]o walk in their own counsels, Psal. 81.12. [...]nd must hear at last, Remember that thou [...]n thy life time receivedst thy good things] [...]ut that here you have your evils, and [...]hall be comforted when the now-prospe­ [...]ous wicked are tormented, Luke 16.25. [...]f heaven be enough to make you a felicity, [...]nd Eternity be long enough for your frui­ [...]on of it, then never think hardly of God [...]or any of his chastisements: Lazarus re­ [...]enteth not there that he was poor: nor Job [...]hat he was covered with sores, nor David [...]hat he washed his couch with tears, and [...]hat his sore ran and ceased not: The long­ [...]st of our sorrows will there be reviewed [...]s short in respect of our endless joys; [...]nd the sharpest of our pains as nothing [...]o those pleasures: Madam, experience [...]s well as faith assureth me, that it is good [...]r us that we are afflicted; And though [...]r the sake of others, I shall earnestly [...]eseech the Lord, that he will not unseaso­ [...]ably remove such as you from this un­ [...]orthy generation; yet I doubt not but [...]our removal, and sufferings in the way, [...]ill advantage you for your Everlasting [Page] Rest. And for my self, I desire, that my lo [...] may still fall with those that follow Christ through tribulation, bearing the cross, and crucified to the world, and waiting for his appearance, desiring to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord; & not with those that are fed as beasts for the slaughter, and prosper a while in their iniquity, till sudden destruction come upon them, and at last their sins do find them out; when the wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God, Psal. 9.17. Numb. 32.23. 1 Thes. 5.3. Phil. 3.19. And that these words of life may be engraven upon my heart, [Psal. 63.3. Thy loving kindness is better than life] Psal. 73.26. [My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever,] Rom. 8.28. [All things work together for good to them that love God] Joh. 14.19. Because I live, ye shall live also.] Col. 3.3, 4. Our life is hid with Christ in God: When Christ who is our Life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in Glory:] and that I may be fit for the Title of the Beloved Apostle, Rev. 1.9. (though as a servant to you and the Church of God,)

Your Brother and Companion in tribulation, and in the Kingdom and Patience of Jesus Christ. Rich. Baxter.
Nov. 1. 1661.

To my dearly beloved the In­habitants of the Burrough and Parish of Kederminster in Worcester­shire.

AS I never desired any greater prefer­ment in this world, than to have continued in the work of my Ministry among you, so I once thought my days would have been ended in that desired station: But we are unmeet to tell God how he shall dispose of us; or to fore­know what changes he intends to make. Though you are low in the world, and have not the Riches which cause mens estimation with the most, I see no probability that we should have been separated till death, could I but have obtained leave to preach for nothing.

But being forbidden to preach the Go­spel in that Diocess, I must thankfully take the liberty which shall anywhere else be vouchsafed me: And while I may enjoy it, I take it not for my duty to be over queru­lous, though the wound that is made by [Page] my separation from you be very deep. And though to strangers it will seem pro­bable that such severity had never been exercised against me, but for some heynous crime, yet to you that have known me, I shall need to say but little in my defence. The great crime which is openly charged on me, and for which I am thought unworthy to preach the Gospel, (even where there is no other to preach) is a matter that you are unacquainted with, and therefore, as you have heard me publikely accused of it, I am bound to render you such an ac­count as is necessary to your just informa­tion and satisfaction.

It pleased the Kings Majesty, (in the prosecution of his most Christian resolu­tion, of uniting his differing subjects by the way of mutual approaches and abate­ments) to grant a Commission to twelve Bishops and nine assistants on the one side, and to one Bishop and eleven other Divines and nine assistants on the other side, to treat about such alterations of the Liturgie, as are necessary to the satisfying of tender consciences, and to the restoring of unity and peace. My experiences in a for­mer Treaty (for Reconciliation in matter of Discipline) made me intreat those to [Page] whom the nomination on the one side was committed, to excuse me from the service which I knew would prove troublesome to my self, and ungrateful to others; but I could not prevail. (But the Work it self, I very much approved, as to be done by fitter and more acceptable persons.) Be­ing commanded by the Kings Commission, I took it to be my duty to be faithful, and to plead for such Alterations as I knew were necessary to the assigned ends; thinking it to be treachery to his Majesty that entrusted us, and to the Church and cause for which we were entrusted, if under pretence of making such Alterations as were necessary to the two forementioned ends, I should have silently yielded to have [No Alterations] or [next to none.] In the conclusion (when the chief work was done by writing) a Committee of each part, was appointed to manage a Disputation in presence (by writing also.) Therein those of the other part formed an Argument, whose Major proposition was to this sense (for I have no copy) [Whatsoever book enjoyneth nothing but what is of it self lawful, and by lawful authority, enjoyneth nothing that is sinful:] We denyed this proposition; and at last gave divers Reasons [Page] of our denyal; among which one was that [It may be unlawful by Accident, and therefore sinful] You now know my crime; It is my concurring with learned, reverend Brethren, to give this Reason of our denyal of a proposition: Yet they are not forbidden to preach for it, (and I hope shall not be;) but only I. You have publikely heard, from a mouth that should speak nothing but the words of Charity, Truth, and Soberness, (especially there) that this was [a desperate shift that men at the last extremity are forced to] and inferring [that then neither God nor man can enjoyn without sin.] In City and Country this soundeth forth to my re­proach. I should take it for an act of clemency to have been smitten pro­fessedly for nothing, and that it might not have been thought necessary to afflict me by a defamation, that so I might seem justly afflicted by a prohibition to preach the Gospel. But indeed is there in these words of ours so great a crime? Though we doubted not but they knew that our Assertion made not Every evil accident, to be such as made an Imposition unlawful, yet we exprest this by word to them at that time, for fear of being misreported: [Page] and I told it to the Right Reverend Bishop when he forbad me to preach, and gave this as a reason: And I must confess I am still guilty of so much weakness, as to be confi­dent that some things not evil of themselves, may have Accidents so evil, as may make it a sin to him that shall command them. Is this opinion inconsistent with all Go­vernment? Yea I must confess my self guilty of so much greater weakness, as that I thought I should never have found a man on earth, that had the ordinary rea­son of a man, that had made question of it; yea I shall say more then that which hath offended, viz. that whenever the command­ing or forbidding of a thing indifferent is like to occasion more hurt than good, and this may be foreseen, the commanding or forbid­ding it is a sin. But yet this is not the Assertion that I am chargeable with, but that [some Accidents there may be that may make the Imposition sin­ful;] If I may ask it without accusing others, how would my crime have been denominated if I had said the contrary? Should I not have been judged unmeet to live in any Governed society? It is not unlawful of it self to command out a Navy to Sea: But if it were foreseen that [Page] they would fall into the enemies hands, or were like to perish by any accident, and the necessity of sending them were small, or none, it were a sin to send them. It is not of it self unlawful to sell poyson, or to give a knife to another, or to bid ano­ther do it: but if it were foreseen that they will be used to poyson or kill the buy­er, it is unlawful; and I think the Law would make him believe it that were guilty▪ It is not of it self unlawful to light a candle or set fire on a straw; But if it may be foreknown, that by anothers negligence or wilfulness, it is like to set fire on the City, or to give fire to a train and store of Gunpowder, that is under the Parliament house, when the King and Parliament are there: I crave the Bishops pardon, for be­lieving that it were sinfull to do it, or command it: Yea or not to hinder it (in any such case,) when Qui non vetat pec­care cum potest, jubet. Yea though going to Gods publike worship be of it self so far from being a sin, as that it is a duty, yet I think it is a sin to command it to all in time of a raging pestilence, or when they should be defending the City against the assault of an enemy. It may rather be then a duty to prohibite it. I think Paul spake [Page] not any thing inconsistent with the Go­vernment of God or man, when he bid both the Rulers and people of the Church, not to destroy him with their meat for whom Christ dyed: and when he saith that he hath not his Power to destruction, but to Edification. Yea there are Evil Accidents of a thing not evil of it self, that are caused by the Commander: and it is my opinion that they may prove his commad unlawful.

But what need I use any other Instances then that which was the matter of our dispute? Suppose it never so lawful of it self to kneel in the Reception of the Sacra­ment, if it be imposed by a penalty that is incomparably beyond the proportion of the offence, that penalty is an Accident of the command, and maketh it by accident sinful in the Commander: If a Prince should have Subjects so weak as that all of them thought it a sin against the example of Christ, and the Canons of the general Councils, and many hundred years practice of the Church to kneel in the act of Recei­ving on the Lords days, if he should make a Law that all should be put to death that would not kneel, when he foreknew that their consciences would command them all, or most of them, to die rather than [Page] obey, would any man deny this command to be unlawful by this accident? Whether the penalty of ejecting Ministers that dare not put away all that kneel, and of casting out all the people that scruple it, from the Church, be too great for such a circum­stance, (and so in the rest,) and whether this, with the lamentable state of many congre­gations, and the divisions that will follow, being all foreseen, do prove the Impositions unlawful which were then in question, is a case that I had then a clearer call to speak to, then I have now. Only I may say that the ejection of the servants of Christ from the Communion of his Church, and of his faithful Ministers from their sacred work, when too many Congre­gations have none but insufficient or scandalous teachers, or no preaching Ministers at all, will appear a matter of very great moment, in the day of our Accounts, and such as should not be done upon any but a Necessary cause, where the benefit is greater then this hurt (and all the rest) amounts to.

Having given you (to whom I owe it) this account of the cause for which I am forbidden the exercise of my ministry in that Countrey, I now direct these Sermons to [Page] [...]our hands, that seeing I cannot teach you [...]s I would, I may teach you as I can. And [...] I much longer enjoy such liberty as this, [...] will be much above my expectation.

My dearly beloved, stand fast in the [...]ord; And fear ye not the reproach of men, [...]ither be afraid of their revilings: For [...]e moth shall eate them up like a garment, [...]nd the worm shall eate them like wool: but [...]e righteousness of the Lord shall be for ever, [...] his salvation from generation to genera­ [...]on, Isa. 51.7, 8. If I have taught you [...] doctrine of error or impiety, of [...]sobedience to your Governors in lawful [...]ings, of schism or uncharitableness, [...]learn them all, and renounce them with [...]nitent detestation: But if otherwise, [...]eseech you mark them which cause [...]visions and offences, contrary to the doctrine [...]hich you have learned, and avoid them: [...] they are such as serve not our Lord [...]sus Christ, but their own b [...]lly; and by [...] words and fair speeches deceive the [...]rts of the simple, Rom. 16.17. If any all speak against Truth or Godliness, member what you have received; and [...] little any adversary could say, that [...]er made such assaults upon you, while I [...] with you: and that it is easie for any [Page] man to talk confidently when no man must contradict him. I denyed no man liberty upon equal terms, to have said his worst against any doctrine that ever [...] taught you. And how they succeeded, I need not tell you: your own stabi­lity tells the world. As you have maintained true Catholicism, and never followed any sect, so I beseech you still maintain the ancient faith, the Love of every member of Christ, and commo [...] charity to all, your Loyalty to your King your peace with all men: And let no [...] draw you from Catholick Unity to [...] faction, though the declaiming again [...] Faction and Schism should be the devi [...] by which they would accomplish it. A [...] as the world is nothing, and God is all, [...] all that are sincere believers; so let [...] worldly interest seem regardable to yo [...] when it stands in any opposition to Christ but account all loss and dung for him, [...] 3.8. And if you shall hear that I yet suf [...] more than I have done, let it not be yo [...] discouragement or grief; For I doubt [...] but it will be my crown and joy: I [...] found no small consolation, that I [...] not suffered, for sinful, or for small and in [...]ferent things: And if my pleading agai [...] [Page] [...] ejection of the Ministers of Christ, [...]nd the excommunicating of his member, [...]r a ceremony, and the divisions of his [...]hurch, and the destruction of Charity [...]all be the cause of my suffering (be it ever so great,) it shall as much rejoyce [...]e to be a suffering witness for CHARI­ [...]Y and UNITY, as if I were a Mar­ [...]r for the Faith. I participate with Paul [...] an expectation and hope, that Christ shall [...] magnified in my body whether by life or [...]ath: and as to live will be Christ, so to [...] will be gain; Only let your conversation [...] as it becometh the Gospel of Christ; that [...]hether I ever see you more, or be absent [...]till the joyful day) I may hear of your [...]fairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with [...] mind striving together for the faith of [...]he Gospel; and in nothing terrified by your [...]dversaries, which is to them an evident [...]ken of perdition, but to you of salvation, [...]nd that of God, if to you it shall be given [...] the behalf of Christ, not only to [...]lieve on him, but also to suffer for his [...]ke, Phil. 1.20, 21, 27, 28, 29. But let [...] injury from inferiors provoke [...]ou to dishonour the Governors that God himself hath set over you. Be meek [...]nd patient; the Lord is at hand; Honour [Page] all men; Love the Brotherhood: Fear God▪ Honour the King: For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put [...] silence the ignorance of foolish men, 1 Pet▪ 2.15, 17. It is soon enough for you an [...] me, to be justified at the bar of Christ (by himself that hath undertaken it) against all the Calumnies of malicious men. Til [...] then let it seem no greater a matter the [...] indeed it is, to be slandered, vilified or abused by the world. Keep close to hi [...] that never faileth you, and maintain you [...] integrity, that he may maintain the joy that none can take from you. Farewel [...] dear brethren, who are my glory and joy the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ his coming (1 Thes. 2.18, 19.)

Your faithful, though unwo [...]thy Pastor, Rich. Baxte [...]
Nov. 11. 1661.

The Contents.

  • THE Text opened, p. 1
  • Self-knowledge what; and of how many sorts, p. 4
  • How far it is shame to be Ig­norant of our selves, p. 7
  • The Mischiefs of Self-igno­rance, 1. It cherisheth Atheism, p. 11
  • [...]. Causeth Ignorance of the Life to come, p. 15
  • [...]. And of the Evil of sin, p. 17
  • [...]. It keepeth the soul from true Humiliation, p. 18
  • [...]. It makes Christ undervalued, p. 19
  • [...]. It makes a Holy Conversation vilified, p. 20
  • [...]. It makes men cheated by the world, p. 22
  • [...]. It causeth Pride, p. 24
  • [Page] 9. It makes men run into Temptations, p. 2 [...]
  • 10. It makes Temptations prevalent, p. 2 [...]
  • 11. It makes men quarrell with Gods [...] and Ministers, p. [...]
  • 12. It destroyeth Charity, p. 3 [...]
  • 13. It is the cause of Church-division [...] p. 3 [...]
  • 14. It makes men troublers of the State, p. 3 [...]
  • 15. It causeth Errors, p. 4 [...]
  • 16. It makes men unjust, p. 4 [...]
  • 17. It makes men unthankfull, ibid
  • 18. It is an enemy to true peace and joy p. 4 [...]
  • 19. It makes men repine at Gods providen [...] p. [...]
  • 20. It makes men lose their Time, and ne [...]lect preparation for death, p. 4 [...]
  • Self-ignorance detected and reproved, p. 4 [...]
  • Discovered by some Effects: 1. By mens [...] humbledness, p. 5 [...]
  • 2. By the abounding of Hypocrisie, p. 6 [...]
  • 3. By the love of flattery, and impatience [...] plain reproof, p. 6 [...]
  • 4. By mens partiality, p. 6 [...]
  • 5. When every man would be a Rule to other [...] p. 7 [...]
  • [Page] 6. By the great change that approaching death, or other awaking Providences make, p. 75
  • [...]. By mens quarrelling with others in their sufferings, and overlooking the great cause in themselves, p. 82
  • The discovery prosecuted, p. 87
  • [...]. If you know not your selves, you cannot Repent, p. 93
  • [...]. Nor be duely sensible of your misery, ibid.
  • [...]. Nor indeed be Christians, p. 97
  • [...]. You will not know what to do with your selves, p. 108
  • [...]. You will not know how to apply the Word, p. 116
  • [...]. Nor how to Confess or Pray, p. 118
  • [...]. Nor how to give thanks, p. 125
  • [...]. Nor how to receive the Lords Supper, p. 129
  • [...]. All your studies will be irrational, pre­posterous and impertinent, p. 130
  • [...]0. You will be much unusefull to others, p. 140
  • [...]1. You cannot well proceed to know extrin­sick things, p. 143
  • [Page] 12. How many and necessary things have yo [...] to know about your selves, p. 148
  • Exhortation, p. 15 [...]
  • Caution against excessive studying of ou [...] selves, p. 15 [...]
  • Who need this Caution, p. 15 [...]
  • Information: Why the sincere can discours [...] so fully and savourily about Heart-affairs▪ p. 16 [...]
  • And why they are so full in prayer, and other [...] so empty, p. 17 [...]
  • The Excuses of the prayerless answered p. 17 [...]
  • Why the upright are so prone to self-accusin [...] p. 1 [...]
Motives to the Ungodly.
  • 1. If you know not your selves, you kn [...] not whether you must dwell in Heaven [...] Hell, p. 1 [...]
  • 2. All shall shortly know themselve [...] p. 1 [...]
  • How usefull a Companion Conscience is converse with, p. 19 [...]
  • 3. Its Satans chief design to keep you [...] ignorant, p. 20 [...]
  • Yet some can go on in known mise [...] p. 2 [...]
  • [Page]A threefold Despair, p. 218
  • In what cases the sincere may go in sin against knowledge, p. 220
  • But ordinarily self-knowledge would do much p. 122
  • Information: Why faithfull Ministers search so deep, and speak so hardly of unrenewed souls, p. 235
  • Questions to the unsanctified, p. 257
  • What Christianity is, and who sincere in the Covenant, p. 267
  • Who certainly unregenerate, p. 266
Exhortation to the Regenerate.
  • To know 1. Their Sin, 2. Their Graces. 1. For want of Self-knowledge: 1. You confess not sin as you ought to God or man, p. 276
  • [...]. You pray not against it, or for grace as you ought, p. 277
  • [...]. You are negligent in your watch, p. 281
  • Seek not help, ibid.
  • Lie in unobserved sins, ibid.
  • In General, When sin is most unobserved, p. 289
  • Particularly; 1. The Self-ignorant little think while they are Orthodox, what errors they may fall into, p. 292
  • Or in adversity, what sins prosperity [Page] may draw forth, p. 294
  • 3. Or how soon the Resolutions of afflicti­on may decay, and come to nothing, p. 298
  • 4. Or when the heart is warm and heaven­ly, how quickly it may cool and fall to earth, p. 303
  • (True Marks of Grace, p. 304)
  • 5. And in prosperity they little think what sins Adversity may detect or occasion, p. 316.
  • 6. Or what Pride may appear in those th [...] are humble, p. 319.
  • 7, Some of the greatest sins of Christians [...] little observed and lamented: As 1, [...] remnants of Infidelity, p. 32 [...]
  • 2. The great imperfection of Love to God, p. 323
  • 3. And want of Love to one another, p. 324
  • 8. The insinuations of selfishness in all that w [...] do, p. 32 [...]
  • 9. The eruption of passions that seemed mor [...]tified, p. 34 [...]
  • 10. Affections mixed with carnality, which seemed purely spiritual. p. 33 [...]
  • Caution against overmuch suspicion or ac [...]cusation of our selves, p. 33 [...]
  • 2. Sin surpriseth more dangerously: 3. An [...] [Page] the Remedy is neglected, through self-igno­rance, p. 337
  • 2. What Hinders Believers from knowing their Graces. 1. The sense of the Con­traries, p. 338
  • 2. The smalness of Grace. p. 341
  • 3. Not judging by sure Marks: the Es­sentials of Holiness: what they are, p. 343
  • What Marks uncertain, p. 345
  • What sin consistent with true grace, p. 347
  • 4. Overlooking what we have, by looking at what we ought to be, p 349
  • 5. Judging upon disadvantage: 1. Surpriz­ing our selves unpreparedly. 2. Judging in passion, of Fear or Grief. 3. When helps are absent. 4. When our Bodies are melancholy, or otherwise unfit, p. 350
  • 6. Refusing the former Judgement of our sin­cerity, if we have not a continued sight of grace, p. 353
  • 7. The variety and confusion of the souls operations, ibid.
Motives to labour to know our Sancti­fication.
  • 1. It is a most excellent sort of knowledge, p. 354.
  • [Page] 2. It is a most delightfull felicitating knowledge, p. 355
  • 3. It might sweeten every place and state, p. 357
  • 4. It would much help our Belief of Scrip­ture, p. 357
  • 5. And our Trusting on God in all straits, p. 359
  • 6. And our chearfull progress in Religion, p. 361
  • 7. It may keep you from the terrors of the doubting, p. 362
  • 8 And sweeten all your other mercies, p. 363
  • 9. And debilitate temptations to sensua [...] pleasures, p. 36 [...]
  • 10. And sweeten all the service of God, p. 36 [...]
  • 11. And kindle Love to God, p. 372
  • 12. Its necessary to a life of Thankfulness, p. 377
  • 13. You will not else live to the Glory of the Gospel, p. 383
  • 14. It will make all sufferings easie, p. 385
    • As 1. Scornes, p. 38 [...]
    • 2. Opposition, 3. Slanders, p. 38 [...]
    • 4. Imprisonment and banishment, p. 39 [...]
    • 5. Personal and family crosses, p 39 [...]
    • 6. Death, p. 39 [...]
  • The Hinderances of Self-acquaintance [...]
  • [Page] 1. External, 1. Ministers unskilfulness and unfaithfulness, p. 402
  • Direct. 1. Live under a skilfull faithfull Pastor, p. 411
  • In what cases to use their personal helps, p. 418
  • Objections against Ministers personal helps, answered, p. 419
  • Quest. How far a doubting person may rest in the judgement of a Minister about the state of his soul, p. 429
  • The Direction applyed to both sorts, p. 435
  • Hind. 2. Prosperity and flattery.
  • Direct. 2. Desire not much Prosperity, and detest flatterers. p. 457
  • Hind. 3. Conversing only with bad men, p. 461
  • Direct. 3. Converse with Heavenly Exem­plary Christians. p. 466
  • 2. Internal Hinderances; 1. Pride, p. 470
  • Direct. 1. Come to Christ as little Children. p, 473
  • Hind. 2. An unreasonable love of present ease, p. 475
  • Direct. 2, Look to the time to come, and be not too tender of present trouble, p. 477
  • Hind. 3. Self-love blindeth, p. 481
  • Direct. 3. Bring your minds to a just im­partiality, p. 483
  • [Page] Hind. 4. Nst observing the heart in tryal, but taking it only at the best, p. 488
  • Caution: When and how to judge our selves. p. 490
  • Direct. 4. Judge of your Habitual state by your actions, p· 494


PAge 228: l. 29. for gain r. game: p. 229. l. 29. for having r. have: p. 147 l. 17. r. relevetur: l. 22. r. sanabat: p. 236. l. 2. r. Impenitent sinner! p. 247. l. 5. for juggling r. jingling: p. 288. l. 25. r. it is: p. 29 [...]. l. 20. r. preservative: p. 334. l. 24 for more r. meer: p 340 l. 25. r. if it were: p. 341. l. 2. for as r. is, l. 6. dele that, p. 349. l. 4 for after r. ofter, p. 351. l. 8. r. all that, p 353. l. 10. for over r. our, p. 307. l. 17. for bodily r. boldly, p. 375. l. 17. r. hath set you, p. 383. l. 2 [...]. r. is it to, p. 381. l. 28. r. fitteth, p. 387. l. 8. r. prosperity, p. 407 l. 26. for natives r. Na [...]ions, p. 411. l. 3. r. wh [...] it is, p. 428. l. 6. dele in, p. 434. l. 9. r. its, l. 13. r. he is not, p. 448. l. 21. r. put him, p. 452. l. 14. r. of one, p. 46 [...]. for are r. hear [...], and for hear r. are p. 476. l. 19. r. incon­siderate, p. 485. l. 1. corrigentis.

THE Mischief of Self-ignorance, AND Benefit of Self-acquaintance.

2 COR. 13.5.

Know ye not your own selves —?]

THE Corinthians being much abused by false-teachers, to the corrupting of their faith and manners, and the questi­oning of the Apostles Mini­stery, he acquainted them in my Text with an obvious re­medy for both these maladies; and lets [...]hem know, that their miscarriages call [...]hem to question themselves, rather then [...]o question his authority or gifts, and that [Page 2] if they find Christ in themselves, they must acknowledge him in his ministry.

He therefore first most importunately urgeth them to the mediate duty of Self-examination: [Examine your selves, Whe­ther you be in the faith: Prove your own selves:] Self-examination is but the Means of Self-knowledge. This therefore he next urgeth, and that first in General; and this by way of Interrogation, [Know ye not your own selves?] and then more particularly he tells them, what it is of themselves, that it most concerneth them to know, [How that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be Repro­bates.] As if he should say, [Alas, poor souls; you have more cause to question your selves then me: Go too therefore, examine and prove your selves. It is a shame for a man to be ignorant of himself. Know ye not your own selves? Either Christ is in you, by faith, and by his Spirit, or he is not. If he be not, you are yet but Reprobates, that is, disapproved of God, and at present in a forsaken, or condemned state your selves; (which is a conclusion that you will be loath to admit, but more concerneth you:) If Christ be in you, it was by the means of my ministry; and therefore that ministry hath been powerfull and effectual to you; and [Page 3] you are my witnesses; the seal of my mi­nistry is upon your own souls; Christ within you, bears me witness, and therefore of all men, you have least cause to question or quarrel with my ministry.]

This Paraphrase opening all that may seem difficult in the Text, I shall immedi­ately offer you a double Observation, which the words afford us; first, as considered in themselves, and then as respecting the infe­rence for which they are premised by the Apostle.

The first is, that [All men should know themselves: or, It is a shame for a man to be unacquainted with himself.]

The second is, that [Not knowing our selves is the cause of other errors: or, The knowledge of our selves, would much con­ [...]uce to the Cure of many other errors.]

In handling this, I shall shew you, 1. What [...] is to know our selves. 2. How far it is, [...]r is not, a shame to be ignorant of our [...]elves. 3. What evils follow this Ignorance [...]f our selves, and what benefits self-know­ [...]dge would procure. 4. How we should [...]prove this doctrine by Application and [...]actice. Of the first but briefly.

I. SElf-knowledge is thus distinguished according to the object. 1. There is a Physical self knowledge: when a man knows what he is as a man; What his soul is, and what his body, and what the compound cal­led man. The Doctrine of Mans Nature, or this part of Physicks, is so necessary to all, that it is first laid down even in the Holy Scriptures, in Gen. ch. 1, 2, 3. before his Du­ty is expressed. And it is presupposed in all the moral passages of the word, and in all the preaching of the gospel; The Subject is presupposed to the Adjuncts. The Subjects of Gods Kingdom belong to the Consti­tution; and therefore to be known before the Legislation, and Judgement, which are the parts of the Administration. Morality alway presupposeth nature. The Species is in order before the separable Accidents. Most ridiculously therefore doth Ignorance plead for it self against Knowledge, in them that cry down this part of Physicks, as Hu­mane Learning, unnecessary to the Discipl [...] of Christ. What excellent holy Meditati­ons of Humane nature do you find oft in [...] and in Davids Psalms, Ps. 139. concluding [...] [Page 5] the praise of the incomprehensible Creator, ver. 14. [I will praise thee, for I am fear­fully and wonderfully made: Marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.]

2. There is a Moral Self-knowledge, very necessary. And this is, The knowing of our selves in Relation to Gods Law, or to his Judgement. The former is the knowledge of our selves in respect of our Duty: the second, in respect of the Reward or Punish­ment. And both of them have respect to the Law of Nature, and Works, or to the Remedying Law of Grace.

The Ethical knowledge of our selves, or that which respecteth the Precept and our Duty, is twofold: The first is, as we have performed that Duty; The second, as we have violated the Law by non-performance or transgression: The first is, the know­ledge of our selves as Good; the second as Evil. And both are either the knowledge of our Habits (good or evil) or of our Acts; How we are Morally, Inclined, di­sposed, or habituated; or what, and how we have Done; We must know the Good estate of our Nature that we were created in; the Bad estate of sinfull nature that we are fallen into; the actual sin committed [Page 6] against the Law of nature; and what sin we have committed against the Law of Grace: and whether we have obeyed the call of the Gospel of salvation, or not. So that as mans state considered Ethically, is three­fold, Institutus, Destitutus, & Restitutus: Infirmatus, Deformatus, & Reformatus; the state of Upright nature; the State of Sin, Original and Actual; and the state of Grace; we must know what we are in re­spect to every one of these.

And as to the Judicial knowledge of our selves, that is, as we stand related to the Pro­mises, and Threatnings, the Judgement, the Reward, and Punishment; we must know first, what is due to us according to the Law of Nature, and then what is due to us according to the tenour of the Law of Grace. By the Law of Nature or of Works, Death is the Due of fallen mankind; but no man by it can lay claim to Heaven. All men are under its curse or condemnation, till pardoned by Christ; but no man can be Justified by it. By the Promise of the Go­spel, all true Believers renewed and sancti­fied by the Spirit of Christ, are Justified, and made the sons of God, and heirs of ever­lasting glory. To know whether we are yet delivered from the condemnation of the [Page 7] Law; and whether our sins are pardoned or not; and whether we are the children of God, and have any part in the Heavenly Glory; is much of the self-knowledge that is here intended in the Text, and that which most nearly concerneth the solid comfort of our souls.

II. BUt is all self-ignorance a shame, or dangerous? Answ. 1. It is no other shame then what is common to humane frailty, to be ignorant of much of the my­stery of our Natural Generation Constituti­on, Integrall parts, and Temperament. There is not a nerve, or artery ▪ or vein, nor the bredth of a hand from head to foot, but hath something unknown to the most excel­lent Philosopher on Earth. This little world called Man, is a compound of won­ders. Both Soul and Body have afforded matter of endless controversie, and volumi­nous Disputations, to the most Learned men; which will not admit of a full decision, till we are past this state of darkness and mortality.

2. There are many Controversies about the nature, derivation and punishment of Ori­ginal sin, which a humble and diligent [Page 8] Christian may possibly be ignorant of.

3. The degrees of Habitual sin, conside­dered simply, or proportionably and respe­ctively to each other, may be much un­known to many that are willing and dili­gent to know: And so may divers actual sins; such as we know not to be sin, through our imperfect understanding of the Law; and such as through frailty in a crowd of actions, escape our particular observation. And the sinfulness or Aggravations of eve­ry sin are but imperfectly known and ob­served by the best.

4. The Nature and beauty of the Image of God, as first planted on created man, and since Restored to man Redeemed: the man­ner of the Spirits acccess, operation, testi­mony and inhabitation; are all but imper­fectly known by the wisest of Believers.

The frame or admirable composure or contexture of the New-man in each of the renewed faculties; the connexion, order, beauty and special use of each particular grace, are observed but imperfectly by the best.

5. The very uprightness and sincerity of our own hearts, in Faith, Hope, Love, Re­pentance and Obedience, is usually unknown to Incipients, or young beginners in Religi­on; [Page 9] and to the weaker sort of Christians, how old soever in profession, and to me­lancholy persons, who can have no thoughts of themselves but sad and fearfull, tending to despair; and to lapsed and declining Christians; and also to many an upright soul, from whom in some cases of special tryal, God seems to hide his pleased face. And though these infirmities are their shame, yet are they not the Characters or Prog­nosticks of their misery, and everlasting shame.

6. The same persons must needs be unac­quainted with their Justification, Reconci­liation, Adoption, and Title to everlasting blessedness, as long as they are uncertain of theie sincerity. Yea, though they upright­ly examine themselves, and desire help of their Guides, and watch and pore conti­nually upon their hearts and wayes, and daily beg of God to acquaint them with their spiritual condition; they may yet be so far unacquainted with it, as to pass an unrigh­teous judgement on themselves, and con­demn themselves when God hath justified them.

But 1. To be totally ignorant of the ex­cellency and capacity of your immortal souls; 2. To be void of an effectual know­ledge [Page 10] of your sin and misery, and need of the Remedy; 3. To think you have saving grace, when you have none; that you are regenerate by the Spirit, when you are only sacramentally regenerate by Baptism; that you are the members of Christ, when it is no such matter; that you are Justified, Adopted, and the Heirs of Heaven, when it is not so; all this is dolefull and damnable unacquain­tedness with yourselues.

To be unacquainted with a state of Life, when you are in such a state, is sad and troublesome, and casts you upon many and great inconveniences. But to be unacquain­ted with a state of Death, when you are in it, doth fasten your chains, and hinder your recovery. To be willing and diligent to know your state, and yet be unable to at­tain to assurance and satisfaction, is ordi­nary with many true Believers: But to be ignorant of it, because you have no grace to find, and because you mind not the matters of your souls, or think it not worth your diligent consideration or enquiry, this is the case of the miserable despisers of salvati­on.

III. THE Commodities and Incommo­dities to be mentioned, are so many and great, that many hours would not serve to open them as they deserve.

1. Atheism is cherished by self-ignorance. The knowledge of our selves as men doth notably conduce to our knowledge of God. Here God is known but darkly, and as in a glass, 1 Cor. 13.12. and by his Image; and not as face to face. And, except his In­carnate and his written word, what Glass re­vealeth him so clearly as the soul of man? We bear a double Image of our Maker: His Natural Image in the nature of our facuities; and his Moral Image in their Holy qualifications, in the nature of grace, and frame of the new man. By knowing our selves it is easie to know, that there is a God; and it much assisteth us to know, what he is, not only in his Attributes and Relations, but even in the Trinity it self. He may easily know that there is a Primitive Being and Life, that knoweth he hath himself a De­rived Being and Life. He must know that there is a Creator, that knoweth he is a creature. He that findeth a capacious In­tellect, a Will, and Power in the creature, and [Page 12] that is conscious of any Wisdom, and Good­ness in himself, may well know that forma­liter or eminenter all these are infinite in the first cause that must thus have in it self whatsoever it doth communicate. He that knoweth that he made not, and preserveth not himself, may well know that he is not his Own, but his that made him and pre­serveth him, who must needs be his Absolute Proprietary and Lord. He that knoweth that he is an Intellectual free agent, and therefore to act Morally, and therefore to be moved by Moral means, and that he is a sociable creature, a member of the Ʋniverse, living among men, may well be sure, that he is made to be a subject, and Governed by Laws, and by morall means to be directed and moved to his End: and therefore that none but his Absolute Lord, the Infinite Wisdom, Goodness, and Power, can be his Absolute and Highest Soveraign. He that is convinced that he is, he lives, he hopeth and enjoyeth all thats good, from a Superior Bounty, may be sure that God is his Prin­cipal Benefactor. And to be [The First and Infinite Being, Intellect, Will, and Power, Wisdom, Goodness, and Cause of all things; the Absolute Owner, the most Righteous Go­vernor, and the most Bounteous Be­nefactor,] [Page 13] this is to be [GOD.] This being the Description of him that is so cal­led: such a Description as is fetcht from his Created Image [Man,] and expressed in the terms that himself hath chosen, and used in his word, as knowing that if he will be understood by man, he must use the Notions and Expressions of man: And though these are spoken but Analogically of God, yet are there no fitter conceptions of him that the soul of man in flesh is ca­pable of. So that the Atheist carrieth about him that Impress and Evidence of the Deity, which may convince him, or con­demn him for his Foolishness and Impiety. He is a Fool indeed, that saith in his Heart, There is no God (Psal. 14.1.) when that Heart it self in its Being, and Life, and Motion is his Witness: and Soul and Body with all their faculties, are nothing but the Effects of this Almighty Cause: And when they prove that there is a God, even by questioning or denying it; being unable without him so much as to deny him, that is, to think, or speak, or be. As if a fool should write a Volume to prove that there is no Ink or Paper in the world; when it is Ink and Paper by which he writes.

[Page 14]And whether there be no representati­on of the Trinity in Ʋnity in the Nature of man, let them judge that have well con­sidered, how in One Body there are the Na­tural, Vital and Animal parts, and spirits: And in One Life or Soul, there are the Vege­tative, Sensitive and Rational faculties; And in One Rational Soul as such, there are an Intellect, Will, and Executive power, Mo­rally perfected by Wisdom, Goodness and Promptitude to well doing. As in one Sun there is Light and Heat, and Moving force. So that man is both the Beholder and the Glass; the Reader and the Book: He is the Index of the Godhead to himself: Yea, partly of the Trinity in Ʋnity: Of which saith August. de Trinit. lib. 1. [Nec periculosius alicubi er­ratur, nec laboriosius aliquid quari­tur▪ nec fructuosius invenitur, quam Trinitas. We need not say, Who shall go up into Heaven: saith Seneca him­self by the light of nature, Prope Deus est; tecum est: Intus est; sacer intra nos Spi­ritus; sed & bonorum malorum (que) nostrorum observator & custos: Hic prout à nobis tra­ctatur, ita nos tractat ipse: Bonus vir sine Deo nemo est.] God is nigh us; with us; within us; A holy spirit resideth within us; [Page 15] [...]he observer of our evil and good, and our [...]eserver: He useth us as he is used by us: [...]o good man is without God.] saith August. [...] Deus est in seipso sicut α & ω: in mundo [...]cut rector & author: in Angelis sicut sapor [...] decor: in Ecclesia sicut paterfamilias in [...]omo: in animo sicut sponsus in thalamo: [...] justis sicut adjutor & protector: in reprobis, [...]cut pavor & horror.] God is in himself as [...]he Alpha and Omega; in the world as its [...]overnor and Author: in Angels as their [...]weetness and comeliness: in the Church as [...]he master of the family in his house: in the [...]ul, as the Bridegroom in his bed-chamber: [...] the righteous, as their helper and prote­ [...]or, &c.] And as all declareth him, so all [...]hould praise him: Hunc ita (que) mens diligat, [...]ngua canat, manus scribat at (que) in his san­ [...]tis studiis fidelis animus se exerceat. Aug.] Let the mind be exercised in loving him, [...]he tongue in singing him, the hand in wri­ [...]ing him; let these holy studies be the be­ [...]evers work.]

2. He that knoweth himself, may certain­ [...] know, that there is another life of Happi­ [...]ess or Misery for man to live, when this [...] ended. For he must needs know that his [...]oul is capable of a spiritual and glorious [...]elicity with God, and of immaterial objects [Page 16] and that time is as nothing to it, and tran­sitory creatures afford it no satisfaction or Rest: and that the Hopes and Fears of the Life to come, are the Divine engines by which the Moral Government of the world is carryed on; and that the very nature of man is such, as that without such Appre­hensions, Hopes and Fears, he could not in a connaturall way be Governed, and brought unto the End to which his Nature is enclined and adapted; But the world would be as a Wilderness, and men as bruits. And he may well know that God made not such faculties in vain, nor suited them to an end which cannot be attained, nor to a work which would prove but their trouble and deceit: He may be sure that a meer probability or possibility of an everlasting Life, should engage a reasonable creature in all possible diligence in Piety & Righteous­ness & Charity to attaine it: And so Religion and holy endeavours, are become the duty of man as man; there being few such Infidels or Atheists to be found on earth, as dare say, They are sure there's no other life for man. And doubtless whatsoever is by Nature and Reason made mans Duty, is not delusory and vain: Nor is it Reasonable to think that Falshood, frustration and deceit, are the [Page 17] ordinary way by which mankind is Governed by the most wise and Holy God. So that the end of man may be clearly gathered from his Nature: forasmuch as God doth Certainly suit his workes unto their proper use and ends. It is therefore the ignorance of our selves that makes men question the Immor­tality of soules: And I may adde, it is the Ignorance of the nature of Conscience, and of all Morality, and of the reason of Iustice among men, that makes men doubt of the discriminating Iustice of the Lord, which is hereafter to be mani­fested.

3. Did men know themselves, they would better know the evill and odious­ness of sin. As poverty and sickness are better known by feeling then by hearesay: so also is sin. To hear a discourse or read [...] Booke of the Nature, Prognosticks and Cure of the plague, consump [...]ion, or dro­ [...]sie, doth little affect us, while we seem [...]o be sound and safe our selves: But when we find the maladie in our flesh, [...]nd perceive the danger, we have then [...]nother manner of knowledge of it. Did [...]ou but see and feele sin as it is in your [...]earts and lives, as oft as you read and [...]eare of it in the Law of God, I dare say [Page 18] sin would not seeme a jesting matter, not would those be censured as too precise, that are carefull to avoid it, any more then they that are carefull to avoid infectious diseases, or crimes against the Lawes of man, that hazzard their temporall felicity or lives.

4. Its want of self-aquaintance that keepes the soule from kindly Humilia­tion: That men are insensible of their Spirituall calamityes, and lie under a load of unpardoned sin and Gods displeasure, and never feele it, nor loath themselves for all the abominations of their hearts and lives, nor make complaint to God or man with any seriousness and sense. How many hearts would be filled with whol­some griefe and care, that now are care­less and almost past feeling? and how many eyes would stream forth teares that now are dry, if men were but truly ac­quainted with themselves? It is self-know­ledge that causeth the solid peace and joy of a Believer: as conscious of that Grace that warranteth his peace and joy. But it is self-deceit and ignorance that quieteth the presumptuous, that walke as carelesly, and sleep as quietly, and blesse themselves from Hell as confidently [Page 19] when it is ready to devoure them, as if the bitterness of death were past, and hypocrisy would never be discover­red.

5. It is unacquaintednes with themselves that makes Christ so undervalued by the un­humbled world: that his Name is reverenced but his office and Saving grace are disregar­ded. Men could not set so light by the Phy­sicion, that felt their sicknes, and under­stood their danger. Were you sensible that you are under the wrath of God, and shall shortly and certainly be in Hell, if a Christ received by a hearty working, purifying faith, do not deliver you, I dare say, you would have more serious, savory thoughts of Christ, more yearnings after him, more fervent prayers for his healing grace, and sweet remembrance of his love and merits, example, doctrine and inestimable benefits, then lifeless hypocrites ever were acquain­ted with.

Imagine with what desires and expectati­ons the diseased, blind and lame cryed after him for healing to their bodies, when he was on earth. And would you not more highly value him, more importunately solicite him for your soules, if you knew your selves?

[Page 20]6. It is unacquaintednes with themselves that makes men think so unworthily of a Holy Heavenly Conversation; and that pos­sesseth them with foolish prejudice against the holy Care and diligence of believers: did men but value their immortall souls, as Rea­son itself requireth them to do, is it possi­ble they should venture them so easily upon everlasting misery, and account it unne­cessary strictnes in them that dare not be as desperately venturous as they, but fly from sin, and fear the threatnings of the Lord? Did men but consideratly understand the worth and concernment of their souls, is it possible they should hazard them for a thing of nought, and set them at saile for the favor of superiors, or the transitory pleasures and honours of the world? Could they thinke the greatest care and la­bour of so short a life to be too much for the securing of their salvation? Could they think so many studious carefull dayes, and so much toil to be but meet and necessary for their bodyes; and yet think all too much that's done, for their immortall souls? Did men but practically know that they are the Subjects of the God of Heaven, they durst not think the diligent obeying him to be a needless thing, when they like that [Page 21] Child or servant best, that is most willing and diligent in their Service. Alas were men but acquainted with their weakness, and sinfull failings when they have done their best, and how much short the hoylest Per­sons do come of what they are obliged to by the Lawes and mercies of the Lord, they durst not make a scorn of diligence, nor hate or blame men for endeavouring to be better, that are sure at best they shall be too bad. When the worst of men, that are themselves the greatest neglecters of God and their salvation, shall cry out against a Holy life and making so much a do for Heaven, (as if a man that lyeth in bed should cry out against working too much or going too fast) this shewes mens strangeness to themselves. Did the careless world but know themselves, and see where they stand, and whats before them, and how much lyeth on this inch of time; did they but know the nature and employ­ment of a soul, and why their Creator did place them for a little while in flesh, and whither they must goe when time is ended, you should then see them in that serious frame themselves which formerly they dislikt in others: and they would then confess that if any thing in the [Page 22] world deserved seriousness and diligence, it is the pleasing of God, and the saving of our souls.

7. It is for want of acquaintance with themselves, that men are so deceived by the vanityes of the world: that they are drowned in the love of pleasures and sensuall delights: that they are so greedy for Riches, and so desirous to be higher then those about them, and to wast their dayes in the pursuit of that which will not help them in the houre of their extremity. Did the voluptuous sensualist know aright that he is a Man, he would not take up with the pleasures and felicity of a bruit; nor enslave his Reason to the violence of his Appetite. He would know that there are higher pleasures which beseem a Man: even those that consist in the well being and integrity of the soule, in peace of Con­science, in the favour of God, and Communion with him in the Spirit, and in a holy life, and in the fore-thoughts and Hopes of endless Glory.

Did the Covetous worldling know him­self, he would know that it must be ano­ther kind of Riches, that must satisfie his soul, and that he hath wants of another nature to be supplied; and that it more [Page 23] concernneth him to lay up a treasure in Heaven, and think where he must dwell for ever, then to accommodate his per­ishing flesh, and make provision with so much a doe, for a life that posteth away while he is providing for it: he would rather make him friends with the Mammon of unrighteousness, and lay up a foundation for the time to come, and labour for the food that never perisheth, then to make such a stir for that which will serve him so little a while: that so he might hear, [Well done thou Good and faithfull servant, &c.] ra­ther then [Thou foole this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be which thou hast pro­vided.]

Self-knowledge would teach Ambitious men, to prefer the calmest safest station, before the highest; and to seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, and to please him most carefully that hath the Keyes of Heaven and Hell: and to be con­tent with food and rayment in the way, while they are Ambitious of a higher Glory. It would tell them, that, so dark and fraile a creature should be more soli­citous to Obey then to have Dominion; and that large Possessions are not the most [Page 24] congruous or desireable Passage, to a nar­row grave; and that it is the highest dignity to be an heire of Heaven. Would men but spend some houres time, in the study of themselves and seriously consider what it is to be a Man, a sinner, a Passenger to an endless life, an expectant of so great a change, and withall to be a profest Be­liever, what a turne would it make in the cares, and the desires, and conversations of the most?

O amatores mundi (inquit Angust.) cu­jus rei gratia militatis? — Ibi quid nisi fragile plenum periculis? et per qu [...]t pericula pervenitur ad majus periculum? per­cant haec omnia, et dimittamus haec vana et inania, conferamus nos ad solam inquisitio­nem eorum quae finem non habeant.] i. e. What strive you for, O worldings? Whats here but a brittle glass full of dangers? and by how many dangers must you come to greater dangers? Away with these vanities and toyes, and let us set our selves to seek the things that have no end]

8. It is for want of self-acquaintance that any man is Proud. Did men consider­ately know what they are, how quickly would it bring them low? Would cor­ruptible [Page 25] flesh that must shortly turne to loathsome rottenness, be stout and Lordly and look so high and set forth it self in gawdy ornaments, if men did not forget themselves? Alas, the way forgets the end: the outward bravery forgets the dirt and filth within: the stage forgetteth the undressing roome. Did Rulers behave themselves as those that are sub­jects to the Lord of all, and have the greatest need to feare his judgment, and prepare for their account: did Great ones live as men that know that Rich and poore are equall with the Lord, who re­spects not persons; and that they must Speedily be levelled with the lowest, and their dust be mixed with the Common earth; what an alteration would it make in their deportment and affaires? and what a mer­cy would it prove to their inferiours and themselves? If men that swell with pride of parts, and overvalue their knowledge, wit or elocution, did know how little in­deed they know, and how much they are ignorant of, it would much abate their pride and confidence. The more men know indeed, the more they know to humble them. It is the Novices that being lifted up with Pride do fall into the Condemna­tion [Page 26] of the Devill. 1 Tim. 3.6. They would loath themselves if they knew them­selves.

9. It is self-ignorance that makes men rush upon Temptations, and choose them, when they customarily pray against them. Did you Know what tinder or gunpowder lodgeth in your natures, you would guard your eyes and eares and appetites and be afraid of the least spark: you would not be indifferent as to your company nor chuse a life of danger to your souls, for the pleasing of your flesh; to live among the snares of honour or beauty and bra­very, or sensuall delights: you would not willfully draw so neare the brinke of Hell, nor be nibbling at the bait, nor looking on the forbidden fruit, nor dally­ing with allurements, nor hearkening to the Deceiver, or to his messengers. It is ignorance of the weakness and badness of your hearts, that maketh you so con­fident of your selves, as to think that you can heare any thing, and see any thing, and approach the snare, and treat with the Deceiver, without any dan­ger, self-acquaintance would cause more feare and self-suspicions.

If you should scape well a while in your [Page 27] self-chosen dangers, you may catch that at last that may prove your wo.

Nemo sese tuto periculis offerre tam crebro potest.
Quem saepe transit casus, aliquando invenit.

Temptation puts you on a combate with the powers of earth, and flesh and Hell! And is toyl and danger your delight? Nun­quam periculum sine periculo vincitur] saith Seneca: Danger is never overcome without danger; Its necessary valour to charge through all, which you are in: But its temerarious foolhardiness to seek for dan­ger, and invite such enemies when we are so weak: Saith Augustin; Nemo sibi pro­ponat & dicat, habere volo quod vincam: hoc est, dicere, vivere desidero & volo sub ru­ina.] Goliah's [give me man to fight with,] is a prognostick of no good success. Rather foresee all your dangers to avoid them. Understand where each tem­ptation lieth, that you may go another way, if possible. Castitas periclitatur in deliciis; humilitas in divitiis; pietas in negotiis; ve­ritas in multiloqiuo; charitas in hoc mundo.] saith Bern. [Chastity is endangered in de­lights: [Page 28] humility in riches; piety in businesses; truth in too much talk; and charity in this world.] Alas did we but think what tempta­tions did with a Noah, a Lot, a David, a So­lomon, a Peter; we would be afraid of the ene­my & weapon that such worthies have been so wounded by, and of the quicksands where they have so dangerously fallen. When Satan durst assault the Lord himself; What hope will he have of such as we? When we consider the millions that are blinded, and hardened and damned by temptations, are we in our wits if we will cast our selves into them? [Praeceps est, qui transire con­tendit, ubi conspexerit alios cecidisse: Et vehementer infraenis est, cui non incutitur timor alio pereunte. Aug.

10. Self-acquaintance would confute Tem­ptations, and easily resolve the case when you are tempted. Did you considerately know the preciousness of your souls, and your own concernments, and where your true felicity lieth, you would abhor allure­ments, and encounter them with that ar­gument of Christ, Mark. 8.36, 37. What shall it profit a man, if he win the world and lose his soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?] The fear of man would be conquered by a greater fear; as [Page 29] [...]he Lord commandeth, Luke 12.4, 5. [And I say unto you, my friends; Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do: But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear him which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell: Yea, I say un­to you: Fear him.]

11. It is unacquaintedness with themselves, that makes men quarrell with the word of God, rejecting it when it suits not with their deceived reason, and to be offended with his faithfull Ministers, when they cross them in their opinions or ways, or deal with them with that serious plainness, as the weight of the Case, and their necessity doth require. Alas, Sirs, if you were ac­quainted with your selves, you would know that the holy Rule is strait, and the crook­edness is in your conceits and misapprehensi­ons; and that your frail understandings should rather be suspected then the word of God; and that your work is to learn and obey the Law, and not to censure it, James 4.11. And that quarrelling with the holy word which you should obey, will not excuse but aggravate your sin; nor save you from the condemnation, but fasten it and make [Page 30] it greater. You would know that it is more wisdom to stoop, then to contend with God: and that it is not your Physitions, nor the medicine that you should fall out with, nor desire to be delivered from, but the disease.

12. Self-acquaintance would teach men to be Charitable to others, and cure the common censoriousness, and envy, and ma­lice of the world. Hath thy neighbour some mistakes about the disputable points of doctrine, or doubtfull modes of Dis­cipline or Worship? Is he for the opini­on, or form, or Policy, or Ceremo­ny, which thou dislikest? or is he against them when thou approvest them? or afraid to use them, when thou think­est them laudable? If thou know thy self, thou darest not break charity or peace for this. Thou darest not censure or de­spise him: But wilt remember the frailty of thy own understanding, which is not infallible in matters of this rank; and in many things is certainly mistaken, and needs for­bearance as well as he. Thou wouldst be afraid of inviting God or man to condemn thy self, by thy condemning others; and wouldst think with thy self, [Page 31] [...] every error of no more importance in [...]rsons that hold the Essentials of Religion, [...]d conscionably practise what they know, [...]ust go for Heresie, or make men Sectaries, [...] cut them off from the favour of God, or [...]e Communion of the Church, or the pro­ [...]ction of the Magistrate, and subject them [...]o damnation, to misery, to censures and re­ [...]roach: alas, what then must become of so [...]ail a wretch as I? of so dark a mind, [...]f so blameable a heart and life? that am [...]ke to be mistaken in matters as great, [...]here I least suspect it? It is ignorance of [...]hemselves, that makes men so easily think [...]ll of their brethren, and entertain all hard [...]r mis-reports of them, and look at them so [...]trangely, or speak of them so contemp­ [...]uously and bitterly, and use them so un­compassionately, because they are not in [...]ll things of their opinion and way. They consider not their own infirmities, and that they teach men how to use themselves. The falls of brethren would not be over-aggra­vated, nor be the matter of insulting or contempt, but of compassion, if men knew themselves. This is implyed in the charge of the Holy Ghost, Gal. 6.1, 2. [Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit [Page 32] of meekness, considering thy self lest thou al­so be tempted: Bear ye one anothers bur­dens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ.] The Pharisee that seeth not the beam of mortal formality and hypocrisie in his own eye, is most censorious against the motes of tolerable particular errors in his brothers eye. None more uncharitable against the real or supposed errors or slips of serious Believers, then Hypocrites that have no saving serious faith and knowledge, but place their Religion in Opinion and out­side shews, and wholly err from the path of Life.

13. It is ignorance of themselves that makes men Divide the Church of Christ, and pertinaciously keep open its bleeding wounds, and hinder Concord, and disturb its peace. How far would self-acquaintance go to the Cure of all our discords and divi­sions? Is it possible that the Pope should take upon him the Government of the Anti­podes, even of all the world, (and that as to Spiritual Government, which requireth more personal attendance, then secular,) if he knew himself, and consequently his na­tural incapacity, and the terror of his ac­count for such an Usurped charge? Self-acquaintance would depose their Inquisitions, [Page 33] and quench their flames; and make them know what spirit they are of, that inclineth not to save mens lives, but to destroy them, Luke 9.55, 56. Did they know themselves, the Papists durst not multiply new Articles of faith, and ceremonies and depart from the ancient simplicity of the Gospel, and turn the Creed or Scripture into all the Vo­lumes of their Councils, and say, All these decrees or determinations of the Church are necessary to salvation; and so make the way of life more difficult, if not impossible (had they indeed the Keyes) by multiply­ing of their supposed Necessaries. Did they but know themselves aright, it were impossible they should dare to pass the sen­tence of damnation on the far greatest part of the Christian world, because they are not subject to their pretended Vice-Christ. Durst one of the most leprous corrupted sort of Christians in the world unchurch all the rest that will not be as bad as they, & condemn all other Christians as Heroticks for Schismaticks, either for their adhering to the truth or for errors and faults, far smaller then their own? Did they know themselves and their own corruptions, they durst not thus condemn themselves, by so presumptuous and blind a condemnation of [Page 34] the best and greatest part of the Church of Christ, which is dearest to him, as purchased by his blood. If either the Protestants or the Greeks, or the Armenians, Georgians, Syri­ans, Aegyptians, or Aethiopian Churches, be in as bad and dangerous a case as these Ʋsurping Censurers tell the world they are, what then will become of the tyrannous, superstitious, polluted, blood-thirsty Church of Rome?

What is it but Self-ignorance that per­verteth the unsetled among us, and sends them over to the Romane tents? No man could rationally become a Papist, if he knew himself. Let me prove this to you in these four Instances.

1. If he had but the knowledge of his Natural senses, he could not take them to be all deceived (and the senses of all other as well as his) about their proper object; and believe the Priests that Bread is no Bread, or Wine no Wine, when all mens senses te­stifie the contrary.

2. Some of them turn Papists because they see some differences among other Christians, and hear them call one another by names of contumely and reproach▪ and therefore they think that such can [...] no true Churches of Christ: But if th [...] [Page 35] knew themselves, they would be acquainted with more culpable errors in themselves, then those for which many others are re­proached; and see how irrational a thing it is to change their Religion upon the scol­ding words or slanders of another; or which is worse, upon their own uncharitable censures.

3. Some turn to the Papists as appre­hending their Ceremonious kind of Religion, to be an easier way to Heaven then ours: But if they knew themselves, they would know that it is a more solid and spi­ritual sort of food that their nature doth require, and a more searching Physick that must cure their diseases; and that shells and chaff will not feed, but choak and starve their souls.

4. All that turn Papists must believe, that they were unjustified and out of the Catholick Church before, and consequently void of [...]he Love of God, and special grace: For they receive it as one of the Romish Articles, that out of their Church there is no salva­ [...]ion. But if these persons were indeed be­ [...]ore ungodly, if they knew themselves, they would find that there is a greater matter [...]ecessary, then believing in the Pope, and [...]urning to that faction; even to turn to God [Page 34] [...] [Page 35] [...] [Page 36] by faith in Christ, without which no opini­ons or profession can save them. But if they had the Love of God before, then they were Justified and in the Church before; and therefore Protestants are of the true Church, and it is not confined to the Roman subjects. So that if they knew this, they could not turn Papists without a palpable contradi­ction.

The Papists fugitives tell us, we are us true Ministers, nor our Ministery effectual and blest of God. What need we more then imitate Paul, when his Ministery was accused, and call them to the Knowledge of themselves [Examine your selves, whe­ther ye be in the faith? Prove your selves: Know ye not your own selves: how that Je­sus Christ is in you except ye be Reprobates?] If they were ungodly and void of the Love of God, while they were under our Ministry, no wonder if they turn Papists: For its just with God that those that receive [...] the Love of the truth that they may be sa­ved, be given over to strong delusions to be­lieve a lye,] 2 Thes. 2.10, 11. But if they received themselves the Love of God in our Churches by our Ministry, they sha [...] be our witnesses against themselves.

And it is others as well as Papists th [...] [Page 37] would be kept from Church divisions, if they did but know themselves. Church Gover­nours would be afraid of laying things un­necessary as stumbling-blocks before the weak and of laying the Ʋnity and Peace of the Church upon them; and casting out of the Vineyard of the Lord, and out of their Communion all such as are not in such unne­cessary or little things, of their opinion or way. The words of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, Rom. 14.15. so plainly and ful­ly deciding this matter, would not have stood so long in the Bible, as non-dicta or utterly insignificant, in the eyes of so many Rulers of the Churches, if they had known themselves, as having need of their Bre­threns charity and forbearance. [Him that is weak in the faith receive you; but not to doubtfull disputations: For one believeth that he may eat all things; another that is weak eateth herbs: Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not, (much less de­stroy him or excommunicate him) and let not him which eateth not, judge him that eateth: For God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another mans servant? to his own Master he standeth or falleth; yea he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one [Page 38] day above another; another esteemeth every day alike: let every man be fully perswaded in his own mind.— ver. 13. [Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather that no man put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall in his brothers way. — ver. 17. For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18. For he that in these things serveth Christ, is ac­ceptable to God and approved of men.] Chap. 15.1. [We then that are strong ought to bear with the infirmities of the weak, and not to please our selves] v. 7. [Wherefore re­ceive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.] Self-acquaintance would help men to understand these pre­cepts; and be patient with the weak when we our selves have so much weakness; and not to vex or reject our brethren for little or unnecessary things, lest Christ reject or grieve us that have greater faults.

Self-acquaintance also would do much to heal the dividing humour of the people: and instead of separating from all that are not of their mind, they would think themselves more unworthy of the Communion of the Church, then the Church of theirs.

Self-acquaintance makes men tender and [Page 39] compassionate, and cureth a censorious contemptuous mind. It also silenceth pas­sionate contentious disputes, and makes men suspicious of their own understandings, and therefore forbiddeth them intempe­rately to condemn dissenters. It also teach­eth men to submit to the faithfull directions and Conduct of their Pastors; and not to vilifie, forsake and disobey them, as if they were above them in understanding, and fit­ter to be Guides themselves; so that in all these respects, it is Ignorance of themselves that makes men troublers of the Church, and the Knowledge of themselves would much remedy it.

14. And it is Ignorance of themselves also that makes men troublers of the State. A man that doth not know himself, is unfit for all society; If he be a Ruler he will forget the Common-good, and instead of Clemency and Justice will violently exercise an impe­ [...]ious Will. If he be a subject, he will be Censuring the actions of his Rulers, when distance and disacquaintance makes him an [...]ncompetent Judge. He will think himself [...]itter to Rule then they, and whatever they [...]o, he imagineth that he could do it better. And hence come suspitions, and murmur­rings [Page 40] against them, and Corah's censures, [Ye take too much upon you: Are not all the people holy?] Were men acquainted with themselves, their weaknesses, their con­cernments and their duties, they would ra­ther enquire whether they obey well, then whether their Superiours Rule well; and would think the lowest place to be most suitable to them; and would quiet themselves in the discharge of their own duty, making supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanks­giving for all men; for Kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.] 1 Tim. 2.1, 2, 3. It would quiet all the seditions, and tumults of the world, if men were well acquainted with themselves.

I confess, seditions seem to rise from a too great knowledge and regard of our selves, and of our own commodity. Ali­quid commune tuum facere, est seditionis & discordiae principium; To appropriate com­mon benefits to our selves, is the spring of discord and sedition. But here as in other things self-seeking cometh from self-igno­rance, and tendeth to self-deceit and disap­ [...]ointment. [Page 41] The End of contendings answer [...]ot the promises, that selfishness and passion [...]ake men in the beginnings.

Si aeterna semper odia mortales agant
Ne caeptus unquam cedat exanimis furor.
[...]ed arma faelix teneat, infaelix pereat.
Nihil relinquent bella—

And then,

—En quo discordia cives
Perduxit miseros, en queis consevimus agros.

15. Self-acquaintance would end abun­dance of Controversies, and very much help [...]en to discern the truth. In the Contro­versie of Freewill or humane power; to know our selves as we are Men, would be to know that we have the Natural Power and Freedom consisting in the self-determi­ning faculty and principle. To know our selves as sinfull, would certifie us how much we want of the Morall Power which con­sisteth in Right inclinations, and the Moral Liberty from vitious dispositions and ha­bits. Would time permit, I might shew it in the instances of Original Corruption, of the Nature of Grace, of Merit, of the Cause of sin, and many other controversies, how much error is promoted by the Igno­rance of our selves.

[Page 42]16. Self-acquaintance maketh men both Just and Mercifull. One cannot be so much as a Good Neighbour without it; not yet a faithfull friend. It will teach you to put up injuries, and to forgive; as re­membring that you are like to be injurious to others, and certainly are daily so to God; and that it is no great fault thats done against such poor unworthy persons as our selves (if it had no higher a respect then as to us.) It is such only that [with all lowliness, and meekness, and long-suffering forbear one another in love] Ephes. 4.2. & [Recompense to no man evil for evil] Rom. 12.17. & [be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good] ver. 21. He that is drawn to passion and revenge, is overcome, when he seems to overcome by that Revenge. It teacheth us to forgive, to know that much is forgiven us by Christ, or at least, what need we have of such forgiveness. Eph. 4.31, 32. [Let all bitterness and wrath and an­ger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one an­other, even as God for Christs sake, hath for­given you.] O that this lesson were well learnt.

17. Self-acquaintance will teach us the right estimate of all our Mercyes: When we [Page 43] [...]ow how unworthy we are of the least; [...]d what it is we principally need; it will [...]ach us Thanskfulness for all; and teach [...] which of our mercies to prefer. Men [...]ow not themselves, and their own ne­ [...]ssities; and therefore they slight their [...]iefest mercies, accounting them burdens; [...]d are unthankfull for the rest.

18. Self-acquaintance is necessary to the [...] Peace and Comfort of the soul. Securi­ [...] and stupidity may quiet the ungodly for a [...]hile, and Self-flattery may deceive [...]e Hypocrite into a dream of Heaven. [...]ut he that will have a durable Joy, [...]ust find some matter of Joy within [...]im, as the effects and evidence of the Love of [...]od, and the prognosticks of his endless love: [...]o know what Christ hath suffered, and [...]one, and merited, and promised, is to [...]now the General and principal ground of [...]ur Rejoycing; But something is wanting to [...]ake it Peace and Joy to us, till we find the [...]ruits of his Spirit within us, without which [...]o man can be his, Rom. 8.9. Gal. 5.16, [...]7, 22, 24, 25. [If a man think himself [...] be something when he is nothing, he de­ [...]eiveth himself; But let every man prove [...]is own work, and then shall he have rejoycing [...] himself alone, and not in another.]

[Page 44]Gal. 6, 3, 4. The seal and witness and be­ginnings of Life, must be within you, if you will know that you are the Heirs of Life▪

19. Self-ignorance causeth men [...] misinterpret and repine at the providence o [...] God, and to be froward under his mo [...] righteous judgements: Because men know not what they have deserved, or what they are, and what is good for them; therefore they know not the reason and intent of pro­vidence: and therefore they quarrell with their Maker, and murmur as if he did them wrong. When self acquintance would teach them to justifie God in all his deal­ings, and resolve the blame of all into themselves. The Nature of man doth tea [...] all the world, when any hurt is do [...] to Societyes or persons, to enquire by whose Will as well as by whose hands, it was perpetrated; and to resolve [...] the Crimes that are committed in the world unto the Will of man, and there to leave the guilt and blame, and not to excuse the Malefactors upon any pretense of the concurse, or predetermination of the first o [...] any superior cause: And to justifie the Judge and executioner that takes away mens lives, or their estates; as long [...] themselves are proved to deserve it. And [Page 45] [...]rely the Knowledge of the Nature and [...]ravity of man, should teach us to [...]ale as equally with God, and finally [...]solve all guilt and blame into the Free [...]nd Vitiated Will of man. Humbling self- [...]owledge maketh us say with Job. ch. 40.4. Behold, I am vile, what Shall I answer [...]ee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth:] [...]nd when God is glorifying himself on [...]ur relations or our selves by his judge­ [...]ents, it teacheth us with Araon to hold [...]ur Peace, Lev. 10.3. and to say with [...]li, [It is the Lord; let him do what [...]emeth him good] 1 Sam. 3.18. And [...]ith David, 2. Sam. 15.25. [If I shall [...]nd favour in the eyes of the Lord he will [...]ring me againe, and show me it, and his [...]abitation: But if he thus say, I have no [...]elight in thee; behold here am I, let him [...]o to me as seemeth good to him.] And as [...]he afflicted Church Mic. 7.9. [I will [...]eare the indignation of the Lord, because I [...]ave sinned against him.] Even a Pharaoh when affliction hath taught him a little to know himself will say [The Lord is Righ­ [...]eous, and I and my people are wicked] Exod. 9.27. when Rehoboam and his Princes are humbled, they say [The Lord is Righteous] 2. Chron. 12.6. see Ezr. 9.15.

[Page 46]20. Lastly, it is for want of the Kno [...]ledge of ourselves, that precious Time [...] so much lost, and hastening Death no [...] prepared for. Did we carry still about us th [...] sensible Knowledge of our Necessity, our Mortality and the unconceiva [...] change that's made by Death, we should then live as men that are continually waiting for the coming of their Lord; and as if we still beheld our graves. For wee carry about us, that sin and frailty, such corruptible flesh, as may tell us of Death as plainly as a Grave or Skeleton. So great so unspeakably necessary a work as the serious diligent preparatio [...] for our end, could not be so sottishly neglected by the ungodly, did they throughly and feelingly know what it is to be a Mortall man, and what to have an immortall soule, what it is to be a sinner, and what to pass into an endless life of Joy or Misery.

And thus I have shewed you some of the fruits, both of the Knowledge and Ig­norance of our selves: even in our Natural and Morall and Politicall capacityes; (though it be the second that is directly intended in the Text,) which may help you in the Application.


ANd now I may suppose that the best of you all, the most Honourable, the [...]ost Learned, the most Religious (of them [...] dare affirm it) will acknowlidge, that I want not sufficient Reason to urge you, with the Question in my Text [Know yee [...]ot your owne selves?] Judge by the fore­mentioned effects, whether self-acquaint­ [...]nce, even in the most weighty and ne­ [...]estary respects, be common among pro­ [...]essed Christians. Doth he duely know [...]imself as he is a man, that doubteth of a Deity whose Image is his very essence, [...] though not the Morall Image that must [...]e produced by renewing Grace)? Or he [...]hat doubteth of a particular Providence, [...]f which he hath daily and hourly expe­ [...]ience? Or he that doubteth of the Immor­ [...]ality of his soul, or of the Life to come, which is the end of his Creation and en­ [...]owments, and is legibly engraven on the Nature and faculties of his soul? Do they Morally know themselves, that make a [...]est of sin; and make it their delight? that [...]ear it as the lightest burden, and are not [Page 48] so much humbled by all the distempers an [...] miseryes of their soules, as they would [...] by a leprosie, an imprisonment or disgra [...] that have as cold unthankfull thoughts of Christ and of his grace and benefits as [...] sicke stomack of a feast? That complemen [...] with him at the doore; but will not be perswaded to let him in; unless he wil [...] come upon their termes, and will dwe [...] with their unmortifyed sin, and be a ser­vant to their flesh, and leave them their worldly prosperity and delights, and sa [...] them for these complements and leaving of the flesh, when sin and the world [...] cast them off?

Do those men truly know themselves that think they need not the Spirit of Chris [...] for Regeneration, conversion and sanctifica­tion, nor need not a diligent Holy life, nor to be halfe so carefull and serious for their salvation, as they are for a shadow of hap [...]piness in the world? That would withou [...] entreaty bestir themselves, if their hou [...] were on fire, or they were drowning [...] the water, or were assaulted by a thi [...] or enemy; and yet think he is too trouble­some and Precise that intreateth them [...] bestir themselves for Heaven, and [...] quit themselves like men for their Salva [...]on, [Page 49] and to look about them and spare no pains, for the escaping everlasting misery; when this is the time; the only time, when all this must be done, or they are utterly undone for ever.

Do they know themselves, and what they want, and what indeed would do them good, that itch after sensuall beasti­all delights, and glut their flesh, and please their appetites and lusts, and wast their time in needless Sports and long for ho­nour and greatness in the world, and study for preferment more then for Sal­vation, and think they can never stand too high nor have too much; As if it were so desireable to fall from the highest pinacle, or to dye forsaken by that, for which they [...]orsook the Lord.

Do our feathred, powdered, gawdy gal­ [...]ants, or our frizled, spotted, wanton dames, [...]nderstand what it is that they are so proud [...]f, or do so carefully trim up and a­ [...]orn? Do they know what flesh is, as [...]hey would do, if they saw the comlyest [...]f their companions, when hee hath layn [...] month or twelvemonth in the grave; Do [...]hey know what sin is, as a sight of Hell [...]ould make them know, or the true Be­ [...]efe of such a state? If they did, they would [Page 50] think that another garb, doth better be­seem such miserable sinners; and that per­sons in their case have something els to mind and do, then toyishly to spruce up themselves, like handsome pictures for men to look upon; and something els to spend their hours in, then dalliance and com­plements and unnecessary ornaments; and that the amiable and honourable beau­ty, and comliness, and worth consisteth in the Holy Image of God, the wis­dom and Heavenly endowments of the soul, and in a Heavenly, charitable, righte­ous conversation, and good works; and not in a curious dress or gawdy attire, which a foole may wear as well as a wise man, and a carkass as well as a living man, and a Dives that must lie in Hell, when a Lazarus may lie in sores and rags.

Do they know themselves, that fear no snares, but chuse the life of greatest temptations and danger to their souls; because it is highest or hath most provi­sion for the flesh? and that think they can keep in their candle in the greate [...] storms, and in any company maintain their innocency? And yet cannot understand so much of the will of God▪ [Page 51] nor of their own Interest and necessity and danger, as to resist a temptation when it comes, though it offer them but the most inconsiderable trifle, or the most sordid and unmanly lust.

Do they know themselves, that are prying into unrevealed things, and will be wise, in matters of Theology above what is written? that dare set their shallow brains, and dark unfurnished understand­ings, against the infallible word of God; and question the truth of it, because it fuiteth not with their lame and carnall ap­prehensions; or because they cannot recon­cile what seemeth to them to be contradiction: nor answer the objection of every bold and ignorant infidell: In a word, when God must not be God unless he please them, nor his word be true unless it be all with­in the reach of them, that never imployed the time and study to understand it, as they do to understand the Books that teach them Languages, Arts, and Scien­ces, and treat of lower things. And when Scripture truth must be called in question, as oft as an ignorant eye shall read it, or an unlearned graceless person misunder­stand it: when Offenders that should be­wail and reform their own transgressions [Page 52] of the Law shall turn their accusations against the Law and call it too precise or strict, and believe and practise no more then stands with their obedience to the Law of sin, and will quarrell with God, when they should humbly learn, and carefully obey him: and despise a life of holy obedience in stead of practising it; and in effect behave themselves as if they were fitter to Rule themselves and the world, then God is; and as if it were not God but they, that should give the Law and be the Judge; and God were the Subject, and man were God. Do you think that sinfull creeping worms, that stand so near the Grave and Hell do know themselves, when they think or speak or live at such rates, and according to such unreasonable arrogancie? Do they know themselves, that reproach their brethren for humane frailties, and difference of opinion in modes and cir­cumstances, and errors smaller then their own? And that by calling all men Hereticks, Sectaries, or Shismaticks that differ from them, do tempt men to turn Infidells or Papists, and to take us all for such as we account each other? And that instead of Receiving the weak in faith whom God re­ceiveth, will rather cast out the faithfull­est Laborers, and cut off Christs living [Page 53] members from his Church, then forbear the imposing of unnecessary things? I dare say, were it not for unacquaintedness with our brethren and our selves, we should put those in our bosomes as the beloved of the Lord, that now we load with censures and titles of reproach: and the restoring of our charity would be the restoring of our Ʋnity. If blind men would make Lawes for the banishment of all that can­not read the smallest characters, you would say, they had forgot themselves. Nay when men turne Papists or Separatists and fly from our Churches, to shun those that perhaps are better then themselves, and to get far enough from the smaller faults of others, while they carry with them far greater of their own: when people are apter to accuse the Church then themselves, and say the Church is unworthy of their Communion rather then that they are unworthy the communion of the the Church, and think no room in the house of God is clean and good enough for them, while they overlook their owne uncleanness; when men endure an hundred Calumnies to be spo­ken of their brethren, better then a plain reprehension to themselves; as if their [Page 54] persons only would render their actions justifyable, and the reprover culpable; Judge whether these men are well acquaint­ed with themselves.

What should we go further in the search; when in all ages and countries of the world the Unmercifullness of the Rich, the Murmuring of the poor, the hard usage by Superiors, the disobedience of inferi­ors, the commotions of the state, the wars and rebellions that disquiet the world, the cruelty covered with pretenses of Religion, the unthankfullness for Mer­cyes, the murmuring under afflictions, too openly declare that most men have little knowledge of themselves, To conclude, when we see that none are more self-accusing and complaining then the most sincere, and none more self-justifying and confident then the ungodly careless souls, that none walk more heavily then many of the heirs of life, and none are mer­rier then many that must lie in Hell for ever: that all that a Minister can say, will not convince many upright ones of their integrity, nor any skill or industry or in­terest suffice to convince most wicked men that they are wicked; nor if our lives lay on it, we cannot make them see the [Page 55] necessity of Conversion, nor know their misery till feeling tell them it is now too late: when so many walke sadly and la­mentingly to Heaven; and so many goe fearlesly and Presumptuously to Hell, and will not believe it till they are there; by all this judge, what work self-ignorance maketh in the world.

[...] is many a mans Motto, that is a stranger to himself. As the house may be dark within that hath the sign of the sun hanging at the door. Multi humilitatis umbram, pauci veritatem sectan­tur, saith Hieron. A blind man may com­mend the sun, and dispute of Light. A man may discourse of a country that he know­eth not. Its easy to say, Men should know themselves and out of the Book or brain to speak of the matters of the Heart: But indeed to know ourselves as men, as sinners, as Christians, is a Work of greater difficul­ty, and such as few are well acquainted with: Shall I go a little further in the discovery of it?

1. Whence is it that most are so unhum­bled; so great and good in their own esteem; so strange to true contrition and self-abhor­rence; but that they are voluntary strang­ers to themselves? To loath themselves for [Page 56] sin, to be little in their own eyes, to come to Christ as little children, is the case of all that know themselves aright, Ezek. 20.43. & 6.9. Math. 18.3, 4. 1. Sam. 15.17. And Christ made himself of no reputation, but took upon him the form of a servant, and set us pattern of the most wonderfull humi­liation that ever was performed, to con­vince us of the necessity of it, that have sin to humble us, when he had none. Phil. 2.6, 7, 8, 9. Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly, Matthew 11.28. And one would think, it were a les­son easily learnt by such as we that carry about us within and without, so much sensible matter of humiliation. Saith Au­gustin de Verb. Dei. [Discite à me, non mundum fabricare, non cuncta visibilia & in­visibilia creare, non miracula facere, et mor­tuos suscitare, sed quoniam mitis sum, & hu­milis corde] Had Christ bid us learn of him to make a world, to raise the dead, and work miracles, the lesson had been strange: but to be Meek and lowly is so suitable to our low condition, that if we knew ourselves we could not be other­wise.

To be holy without Humility, is to be a man without the essentialls of Nature, or [Page 57] [...]o build without a Foundation [Quisine hu­ [...]ilitate Virtutes congregat, quasi in ventum [...]iverem portat] saith Greg. in Psal. 3. [...]oenit: It is but carrying dust into the wind, to [...]ink to gather commendable qualities without [...]umility. It is the contrite heart that is the ha­ [...]tation and delight of God on earth; the [...]cceptable sacrifice; Isa. 57.15. & 66.2. Psal. [...]1.17. Tanto quis vilior Deo, quanto pre­ [...]osior sibi: Tanto preciosior Deo, quanto [...]opter eum vilior est sibi] saith Greg. Mor. [...] that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and [...] that exalteth himself shall be brought [...]. We must not overvalue our selves, [...] we would have God esteem us, we must be [...] and loathed either in his eyes or our [...]. [Solet esse specificum electorum, saith [...]reg. Mor. quod de se semper sentiunt infra [...]àm sunt, It is specificall to the Elect to [...]ink meanlyer of themselves then they are▪ [...]cta facere, & inutiles se reputare, as Ber­ [...]rd speaks. But I urge you not to err in [...]ur humility, nor humilitatis causâ men­ [...]i, as August. It were low enough, if we [...]ere as low, in our own esteem, as we are deed: which self-acquaintance must pro­ [...]re. Quanto quis minus se videt, tanto [...]nus sibi displicet; saith Greg. Et quanto [...]joris gratiae lumen percipit, tanto magis [Page 58] reprehensiblem se esse cognoscit] He is lea [...] displeased with himself, that least knoweth himself: and he that hath the greatest ligh [...] of grace, perceiveth most in himself to be re­prehended. Illumination is the first part of Conversion, and of the new creature: An [...] self-discovery is not the least part of Ilumina­tion. There can be no Salvation without it, be­cause no humiliation ▪ saith Bernard in Canti [...] ▪ [scio neminem absque sui cognitione salvari, [...] qua nimirum mater salutis humilitas orit [...], & timor Domini.]

But how rare this is, let experience de­termine: To have a poor habitation, [...] poore attire, and perhaps of choice (though that's not usuall) is much more comm [...] then a humble soul, [sed tumet animus, [...] squallore habitus, ut Hier.] & multo [...] deformior est superbia, quae latet sub [...] busdam signis humilitatis, inquit Idem, It [...] the most ill favoured Pride, that stea [...] some rags of humility to hide its sham [...] And saith Hierom truly [Plus est ani [...] de posuisse quam cultum: difficilius arrog [...]tia quam auro caremus, autgemmis, Its easy [...] to change our clothing then our mind, [...] to put off a gawdy habit then our self fl [...]tering tumifyed hearts. Many a one [...] live quietly without gold rings and jewel [...] [Page 59] [...]r sumptuous houses and attendance, that [...]annot live quietly without the esteem and [...]pplause of men, nor endure to be accounted [...]s indeed he is. Saith Ambrose, Qui pauper­ [...]ate contentus est, non est contentus injuria. — Et qui potest administrationes contem­ [...]ere, dolet sibi aliquem honorificentia esse prae­ [...]tum.]

O therefore as you would escape Divine [...]ontempt and the most desperate precipitati­ [...]n, know your selves. For that which cast [...]ngells out of Heaven, will keep you out, if [...] prevail. As Hugo acutely saith, Superbia in [...]aelo nata est, sed immemor qua via inde [...]ecidit, illuc postea redire non potuit] Pride [...]as bred in Heaven (no otherwise then as [...]eath, in Life,) but can never hit the way [...]hither again, from whence it fell. Open [...]he windows of our breast to the Gospell- [...]ght, to the Laws conviction, to the [...]ght of reason, and then be unhumbled if [...]ou can. [Quare enim superbit cinis & tre­ [...]a? saith Origen: oblitus quid erit, & quam [...]agili vasculo contineatur, & quibus ster­ [...]ribus immersus sit, & qualia semper pur­ [...]menta de sua carne projiciat] Nature is [...], but sin and wrath are the matter [...]f our great humiliation, that have made [...] miserably lower.

[Page 60]2. The abounding of Hypocrisie show­eth how little men are acquainted with themselves. I speak not here of that gross Hypocrisie which is allwayes known to him that hath it, but of that close Hypo­crisie, which is A professing to be what we are not, or to believe what we believe not, or to have what we have not, or to do what we do not. What Article of the faith do not most among us confidently profess? What Petition of the Lords prayer will they not put up? Which of the Commandements will they not profess their obedience to? While the stream of their conversation testifieth, that in their hearts there is none of the Belief, the Desire, or the Obedience in sincerity which they profess▪ Did they know themselves, they would be ashamed of the vanity of their profession, and of the miserable want of the things professed; and that God who is so nigh their mouths is so far from their hearts. If you heard an illiterate man profess, that he understandeth all the Languages and Sciences, or a beggar boasting of his wealth, or a parrot taught to say that he is a Man; would you take any of these to be the words of one that knows himself? Quid est vita Hypocrita (inquit Gregor.) [Page 61] [...]isi quaedam visio phantasmatis, quae hic [...]stendit in imagine, quod non habet in veri­ [...]ate? Sure they are in the dark that spend [...]heir days in dreaming visions: But they have [...]heir eyes so much on the beholders, that [...]hey have no leisure to peruse themselves: They are so carefull to be esteemed good, [...]hat they are careless of being what they seem. Quo magis exterius hominibus place­ [...]nt, eo se interius aspicere neg [...]unt, to­ [...]osque se in verbis prximorum [...], & [...]anctos se esse astimant, quia [...] haberi [...] hominibus pensant, ut Gregor. Mor.

Especially if they practise not the vitio [...] [...]nclinations of their hearts, they think [...]hey have not the vice they practise [...] [...]nd that the Root is dead because it's winter [...] when it is the absence of temptations and [...]ccasions, and not of vitious habits, o [...] [...]nclinations, that smooths their lives with seeming innocencie, and keeps [...]heir sins from breaking forth to their own [...]r others observation. Multorum, quae im­ [...]ecillia sunt, latent vitia, saith Seneca; in­ [...]rumenta illis explicandae nequitiae desunt. [...]ic tuto serpens pestifer tractatur, dum riget [...]rigore; non desunt tamen illi venena, sed [...]rpent: ita multorum crudelitas, luxuria [Page 62] & ambitio] The feeble vices of many [...] there are wanting instruments of drawing forth their wickedness. So a poysonous serpen [...] may be safely handled, while he is [...] with cold, and yet it is not because he hath no venome, but because its stupifyed: so [...] it with the cruelty, luxurie and ambiti [...] of many.] The knowledge of your selves is the bringing in of light into your soul [...], which will awaken you from the hypo­crites [...], and make such appariti [...] [...]nish. Come near this fire, and the paine of hypocrisie will melt away▪

3. The common impatience of plain re­proof, and the love of flattery, shews us ho [...] much self-ignorance doth abound. Mo [...] men love those that have the highest estim [...]tion of them, be it true or false. They [...] seldom offended with any for overvaluing them. They desire not much to be account­ed Well when they are Sick, nor Rich when they are Poor, but to be accounted wise though they are foolish, and godly whe [...] they are ungodly, and honest & faithfull whe [...] they are deceitfull and corrupt, this is a cou [...] ­tesie that you must not deny them▪ they take it for their due: They'l never [...] you Hereticks for such Errors as these▪ And why is it, but because they err them­ [...]lves, [Page 63] about themselves, and therefore [...]ould have others do so too.

Nimis perverse seipsum amat, qui & [...]lios vult errare, ut error suus lateat: [...]ith August. He too perversly loveth him­ [...]lf, that would have others err to hide his [...]ror. A wise man loveth himself so well, [...]hat he would not be flattered into Hell, [...]or die as Sisera or Sampson, by good [...]ords, as the harbingers of his wo. He [...]veth his Health so well, that he thinks [...]ot the sweetness or colour of the fruit, motive sufficient to encourage him to a [...]rfeit. He loveth ingenuous Penitence so [...]ell, that he cannot love the flatterers voice, [...]hat contradicteth it. Faithfull reprovers [...]re the messengers of Christ, that call us to [...]epentance, that is, to Life: Ʋnfaithfull [...]atterers are the messengers of the Devil, [...]o keep us from Repentance, and harden us [...] impenitency, unto Death: If we know [...]ur selves, we shall know that when we [...]re over-loved and over-praised as being [...]ore learned, wise, or holy then we are, it [...] not we that are loved and praised; for [...]e are not such as that Love or praise [...]pposeth us to be. Saith August. [Vos [...]ui me multum diligitis, si talem me asseri­ [...], ut nunquam me in scriptis meis errasse [Page 64] dicatis, frustra laboratis; non bonam [...] sam suscepistis: facile in eo, me ipso jud [...] superamini. Quoniam non mihi placet, [...] à charissimis talis esse existimor, qualis [...] sum. Profecto non me, sed pro me ali [...] sub meo nomine diligunt; si non quod sum, [...] quod non sum diligunt.] It pleased him [...] to be accounted unerring in his writing [...] and to be taken by his friends to be [...] he was not; which is not to love him, [...] another under his name. He that knowe [...] himself, perceiveth how much of the Com­mendation is his due, and how much he [...] lay just claim to: and knoweth it is a dis­honour to own the honour that is not his [...] He loves not to be belyed by a praiser, a [...] more then by a dispraiser; lest Truth a [...] He be both abused. Vices, like Worms, a [...] bred and crawl in the inward parts, [...] seen, unfelt of him, that carrieth them abo [...] him: And therefore by the sweet meats [...] flattery and sensuality they are ignorant [...] fed: But its bitter medicines that [...] kill them: which those only will endure that know they have them, and what they are. [Lenocinantur dulcia delictis: a [...]st [...] vero & fortia virtutibus sunt amica.] [...] speak bitterly, saith the impatient sinner [...] the plain reprover, but such are sweet [...] [Page 65] excellent men that medle not with the sore. But its bitter things that are wholsom to your souls; that befriend your vertues; and kill the worms of your corruption, which sweet things cherish, saith Hierom in Eccles. [Si cujus sermo non pungit, sed [...]blectationem facit audientibus, ille sermo [...]on est sapiens, Sermons not piercing, but [...]leasing, are not wise. But, alas, men fol­ [...]ow the Appetite of their vices, not only [...]n chusing their meat, and drink and [...]ompany and recreations, but also in the [...]hoice of the Church that they will hold [...]ommunion with, and the Preachers, that [...]hey will hear: and they will have the [...]weet, and that which their corruption lov­ [...]th, come on't what will. [Libenter enim [...]uod delectat, audimus, & offendit omne, quod [...]lumus,] saith Hierom: Nay, Pride hath [...]ot so great dominion that flattery goeth [...]r due civility; and he is accounted Cy­ [...]ical or morose that useth it not. To call [...]en as they are (even when we have a call [...] do it) or to tell them of their faults [...]ith necessary freedom, though with the [...]reatest love and caution and deprecation [...] offence, is a thing that most, especially [...]reat ones, cannot digest: A man is sup­ [...]osed to rail, that speaketh without flatte­ry; [Page 66] and to reproach them that would save them from their sins. Saith Hiero [...] [Adeo regnat vitium adulationis, quod [...] est gravissimum, quia humilitatis ac bene­vol [...]ntiae loco ducitur, ita fit ut qui adula [...] nescit, aut invidus, aut superbus reputet [...]] that is, [the vice of flattery now so reigneth and which is worst, goeth under the name of humility and good will, that he that knoweth not how to flatter, is reputed envious [...] proud.] Indeed some men have the wit to hate a feigned Hypocritical flatterer, and also modestly to take on them to disown the ex­cessive commendations of a friend: But these mistaken friendly flatterers do seldo [...] displease men at the heart. [Quanqu [...] respondeamus nos indignos, & calidus [...] or a perfundat, tamen ad laudem suam [...] ­ma intrinsecus laetatur, Hieron.] We [...] say we are unworthy, and modestly blush; be within, the heart is glad at its own commenda­tion.] Saith Seneca [Cito nobis place [...], si invenimus, qui nos bonos viros dica [...], qui prudentes, qui sanctos: Non suum modica laudatione contenti; quicquid in [...] adulatio sine pudore congessit, tanquam de [...] ­tum prendimus: optimos nos esse & sanctis­simos affirmantibus assentimur, cum scia [...] saepe illos mentiri:] that is, [We soon please [Page 67] our selves to meet with those that call us good men, wise and holy: And we are not content with a little praise: Whatever flat­tery heapeth on us without shame, we lay hold on it as due; we assent to them that say we are the best and most holy, when we oft times know our selves that they lie.] All this is for want of the true knowledge of themselves. When God hath acquainted a sinner ef­fectually with himself, he quickly calleth himself by other names, then flatterers do: With Paul he saith, [We our selves were sometime foolish, disobedient, serving divers lusts and pleasures, Tit. 3.3.] And Act. 26.11. that he was mad against the Saints in per­secuting them. He then speaks so much against himself, that if tender Ministers and experienced friends, did not think better of him then he of himself, and perswade him to more confortable thoughts, he would be ready to despair, and think him­self unworthy to live upon the earth.

4. Judge also how well men know them­selves, when you have observed, what dif­ferent apprehensions they have, of their own faults and of other mens: and of those that are suitable to their dispositions, interests or examples, and those that are against them. They seem to judge of the actions by the [Page 68] persons, and not of the persons by the acti­ons. Though he be himself a sensualist, a worldling, drowned in Ambition and Pride, whose heart is turned away from God, and utterly strange to the mysterie of Regene­ration and a heavenly life, yet all this is scarce discerned by him, and is little trou­blesome, and less odious then the failings of another, whose heart and life is devot­ed unto God. The different opinions, or modes and circumstances of worship, in another that truly feareth God, is matter of their severer censures and reproach, then their own omissions, and aversness and enmity to holiness, and the dominion of their deadly sins. It seems to them more intolerable for another to pray without a Book, then for themselves to pray without any serious belief, or love, or holy desire, without any feeling of their sins, or mise­ry or wants; that is, to pray with the lips without a heart; to pray to God without God, even without the knowledge or love of God, and to pray without prayers. It seemed to the Hypocritical Pharisees, a greater crime in Christ and his Disciples, to violate their Traditions, in not washing before they eat, to break the Ceremonious rest of their Sabbath by healing the dis­eased, [Page 69] or plucking ears of corn, then in themselves to hate and persecute the true believers and worshippers of God, and to kill the Lord of life himself. They censured the Samaritans for not worship­ping at Jerusalem: but censured not them­selves for not worshipping God, that is a Spirit, in Spirit and in Truth. Which makes me remember the course of their suc­cessors, the Ceremonious Papists; that condemn others for Hereticks, and fry them in the flames, for not believing that Bread is no Bread, and Wine is no Wine, and that Bread is to be adored as God; and that the souls of dead men know the hearts of all that pray to them in the world at once; and that the Pope is the Vice-Christ, and Soveraign of all the Christians in the world; and for reading the Scriptures and praying in a known tongue, when they forbid it; and for not observing a world of Ceremonies; when all this enmity to Reason, Piety, Charity, Humanity, all their Religious Tyranny, Hypocrisie, and Cruelty, do seem but holy zeal and laudable in themselves. To lie, dissemble, forswear, depose and murder Princes, is a smaller matter to them when the Pope dispenseth with it, and when it [Page 68] [...] [Page 69] [...] [Page 70] tends to the advantage of their faction, which they call the Church, then to eat flesh on Friday or in Lent, to neglect the Mass, or Images, or Crossing, &c.

And it makes me remember Bishop Halls Description of An Hypocrite [He turneth all gnats into Camells, and cares not to undo the world for a circumstance. Flesh on Friday is more abominable to him, then his neighbours bed: He abhors more not to un­cover at the name of Jesus, then to swear by name of God, &c.] It seems, that Prelats were guilty of this in Bernards dayes, who saith, [Praelati nostri calicem linquunt, & Camelum deglutiunt: dum majora permit­tentes, minora discutiunt. Optimi rerum aestimatores, qui magnum in minimis, & par­vam aut nullam in maximis adhibent dili­gentiam.] i. e. [Our Prelats strain at a gnat, and swallow a Camel, while permit­ting greater matters, they discuss (or sift) the less: Excellent estimators of things in­deed, that in the smallest matters imploy great diligence; but in the greatest, little or none at all.] And the cause of all this parti­ality is, that Men are unacquainted with themselves. They love and cherish the same corruptions in themselves, which they should hate and reprehend in others. And [Page 71] saith Hierom [Quomodo potest praeses Ec­clesiae auferre malum de medio ejus, qui in delictum simile corruerit? aut qua liberta­te corripere peccantem potest, cum tacitus ip­se sibi respondeat, eadem se admisisse quae corripit:] i. e. [How can a Prelat of the Church, reform the evil that is in it, that rusheth into the like offence? Or with what freedom, can he rebuke a sinner, when his conscience secretly tells him, that he hath him­self committed the same faults which he re­proveth?]

Would men but first be acquainted with themselves, and pass an impartial judge­ment on the affections and actions that are nearest them, and that most concern them, they would be more competent, and more compassionate Judges of their brethren, that are now so hardly used by them. Its excel­lent advice that Austin gives us, Quum ali­quem reprehendere nos necessitas coegerit, cogitemus, utrum tale sit vitium, quod nun­quam habuimus; & tunc cogitemus nos ho­mines esse, & habere potuisse, vel quod ta­le habuimus & jam non habemus; & tunc memoria tangat communis fragilitatis, ut illam correctionem non odium sed misericor­dia praecedat: Sin autem invenerimus nos in eodem vitio esse, non objurgemus, sed inge­miscamus, [Page 72] & ad aequaliter deponendum in­vitemus.] i. e. [When necessity constraineth us to reprove any one, let us think whether it be such a vice as we never had our selves: and then let us think that we are men▪ and might have had it: Or if we once had such but have not now, then let the remem­brance of common frailty touch us, that com­passion and not hatred may lead the way to our reproof: But if we find that we have the same vice our selves, let us not chide, but groan, and move (or desire) that we may both equally lay it by.]

5. It shews how little men know them­selves, when they must needs be the Rule to all other men, as far as they are able to com­mand it; and that in the matters that mens salvation dependeth on, and in the smallest, tender, disputable points; and even in those things where themselves are most unfit to judge. In every controverted point of do­ctrine, (though such as others have much better studied then themselves) he that hath strength to suppress all those that differ from him, must ordinarily be the umpire; so is it even in the modes and circumstan­ces of Worship. Perhaps Christ may have the honour to be called the King of the Church, and the Scripture have the honour [Page 73] to be called his Laws: but indeed it is they [...]hat would be the Lords themselves; and [...] is their Wills and Words that must be the [...]aws; and this under pretence of sub­ [...]erving Christ, and interpreting his Laws; [...]hen they have talkt the utmost for Coun­ [...]ils, Fathers, Church, Tradition, it is [...]hemselves that indeed must be all these; [...]or nothing but their own conceits and Wills must go for the sense of Decrees, or Canons, Fathers or Tradition. Even they [...]hat hate the power and serious practice of Religion, would fain be the Rule of Reli­ [...]ion to all others: And they that never [...]new what it was to worship God in Spi­ [...]it and truth, with delight and love and [...]uitableness of soul, would needs be the Rule of Worship to all others, even in [...]he smallest Circumstances and Ceremonies. And they would be the Governors of the Church, or the Determiners of its mode of Government, that never would be [...]rought under the Government of Christ [...]hemselves. If it please them better to spend [...]he Lords day in Plays or Sports, or com­ [...]lement or idleness, then in learning the will of God in his word, or worshipping [...]im, and begging his mercy and salvation. [...]nd seriously preparing for an endless [Page 74] life, they would have all others do the like. If their full souls loathe the honey comb, and they are aweary of being instructed above a [...] hour, or twice a day; they would have all others forced to their measure, that they may seem as diligent as others, when others are compelled to be as negligent as they. Like a queasie-stomackt Lady, that ca [...] eat but one sllender meal a day, and there­fore would have all her servants and te­nants eat no more, or if they do, accuseth them of excess. If the Emperor of Con­stantinople make a Law, that no subject shall be suffered in his dominions, that will not be conformable to him in time, and quality and measure, for meats and drink, and sleep, and speech, and exercise; it would be an honourable misery, and uni­form calamity and ruine to his subjects. Alas, did men but know themselves, th [...] weakness of their understandings, the sinful byas that personal interest and carnal incli­nations have set upon their wills, they would be less arrogant and more compassi­onate, and not think by making themselves as Gods, to reduce the unavoidable diversi­ties that will be found among mankind, [...] a Unity in Conformity to their minds and wills, and that in the matters of God and of [Page 75] [...]lvation; where every mans conscience [...] is wise and faithful, will be tenacious of [...] interest (of God and of his Soul) [...]ch he cannot sacrifice to the will of any. [...] be so just as not to mistake and misre­ [...]t me in all this; as if I pleaded for li­ [...]tinism or disorder, or spoke against [...]vernment Civil or Ecclesiastical; when [...] only private Ambition, uncharitable­ [...]s, and cruelty; and Papall usurpations [...] the Church and consciences of men, [...] I am speaking of; which men, I am [...], will have other thoughts of, when [...] hath made them know themselves, then [...] have while passion hindreth them [...] knowing what spirit they are of: They [...] then see, that the weak in faith should [...]ve been received; and that Catholick [...]ity is only to be founded in the Uni­ [...]rsal Head, and End, and Rule.

6. The dreadfull change thats made upon [...] minds, when misery or approaching death [...]akes them, doth shew how little they [...] themselves before. If they have [...]ken the true estimate of themselves in [...]eir prosperity, how come they to be so [...]ch changed in adversity? Why do they [...]gin then to cry out of their sins, and of [...] folly of their worldliness and sensua­lity; [Page 76] and of the vanity of the hono [...] and pleasures of this life? Why do th [...] then begin to wish, with gripes of cons [...]ence, that they had better spent their pr [...]cious time, and minded more the matte [...] of eternity, and taken the course as th [...] did whom they once derided, as mak [...] more ado then needs? Why do they th [...] tremble under the apprehensions of th [...] unreadiness to die, and to appear before [...] dreadfull God, when formerly such though did little trouble them? Now there is [...] such sense of their sin or danger up [...] their hearts. Who is it now that ever he [...] such lamentations and self-accusations fr [...] them, as then its likely will be heard? [...] same man that then will wish with Bal [...]am, that he might die the death of the rig [...]teous, and that his latter end might be as [...] will now despise and grieve the righteo [...] ▪ The same man that then will passionate wish that he had spent his days in [...] preparations for his change, and lived [...] strictly as the best about him, is now [...] much of another mind, that he percei [...] no need of all this diligence; but thi [...] it is humorous or timerous superstition, [...] at least that he may do well enough [...] out it. The same man that will th [...] [Page 77] [...] [Mercy, Mercy, O Mercy Lord, to a [...]arting soul, thats loaden with sin, and [...]mbleth under the fear of thy judgement,] [...] now perhaps an enemy to serious earnest [...]ayer, and hates the families and persons [...]at most use it; or at least is prayerless, [...] cold and dull himself in his desires, and [...] shut up all with a few careless custo­ [...]ry words, and feel no pinching necessity [...] awaken him, importunately to cry and [...]ve with God. Doth not all this shew [...] men are befooled by prosperity, and [...] acquainted with themselves, till danger or [...]amity call them to the bar, and force [...]em better to know themselves?

Your mutability proveth your ignorance [...]d mistakes. If indeed your case be now [...] good as your present confidence or se­ [...]rity do import, lament it not in your [...]versity: fear it not when Death is cal­ [...]g you to the bar of the impartial Judge! [...] not out then of your ungodliness and [...]suality: of your trifling hypocrisie, [...]ur sleight contemptuous thoughts of [...]od, and of your casting away your Hopes [...] Heaven, by wilfull negligence and de­ [...]es! If you are sure that you are now in [...]e right, and diligent serious believers in [...]e wrong, then stand to it before the Lord: [Page 76] [...] [Page 77] [...] [Page] [...] [Page 76] [...] [Page 77] [...] [Page 78] set a good face on your cause if it be good Be not down in the mouth when it is tri [...] God will do you no wong: If your [...] be good, he will surely justifie you, [...] will not mar it: Wish not to dye the dea [...] of the Righteous: say not to them, G [...] us of your oyl, for our lamps are gone ou [...] ▪ Mat. 25.8. If all their Care, and Love [...] Labour, in seeking first the Kingdom of G [...] and its Righteousness, be a needless thing wish not for it in your extremity, but [...] it needless then. If fervent prayer may b [...] spared now, while prayer may be heard, [...] a few lifeless words that you have learn [...] by rote may serve the turn, then call [...] on God when answering is past, seek him not when he will not be found, Prov. 1 [...] 27, 28. When your fear cometh as desolati­on, and your destruction as a whirlwind [...] when distress and anguish come upon you.] Cry not [Lord, Lord open unto us] whe [...] the door is shut. Matth. 25.10, 11. [...] them not [foolish] then that slept, b [...] them that watcht, if Christ was mistaken▪ and you are in the right, Matth. 25.2, & Prov. 1.22.

O Sirs, stand but at the bed-side of one of these ungodly careless men, and hea [...] what he saith of his former life, of his ap­ [...]roaching [Page 79] change, of a Holy or a carnal [...]ourse, whether a Heavenly or Worldly life [...] better, (unless God have left him to that [...]eplorate stupidity, which an hours time will put an end to) Hearken then whether [...]e think that God or the world, Heaven or [...]arth, Soul or body be more worthy of [...]ans chiefest care and diligence; and then [...]udge whether such men did know themselves [...]n their health and pride, when all this talk would have been derided by them as too pre­ [...]ise, and such a life accounted over-strict and [...]eedless, as then they are approving and wish­ [...]ng they had lived: When that Minister or [...]riend should have once been taken for [...]ensorious, abusive, self-conceited and un­sufferable, that would have talkt of them [...]n that language as when Death approach­eth, they talk of themselves; or would have spoke as plainly, and hardly of them, as they will then do of themselves. Doth [...]ot this mutability shew how few men now have a true knowledge of themselves?

What is the Repentance of the living, and the Desperation of the damned, but a declaration that the persons Repenting and Despairing, were unacquainted with them­selves before? Indeed the erroneous Despair of men while Grace is offered them, comes [Page 80] from Ignorance of the Mercy of God, and willingness of Christ to receive all that ar [...] willing to return: But yet the sense of sin and misery, that occasioneth this errone­ous Despair, doth shew that men were be­fore erroneous in their presumption and self-esteem. Saith Bernard in Cant. [Ʋtraq [...] Cognitio, Dei scilicet & tui, tibi necessari [...] est ad salutem, quia sicut ex notitia tui ve­nit in te timor Dei, atque ex Dei notitia iti­dem amor; sic è contra, de ignorantia [...] superbia, ac de Dei ignorantia venit despera­tio] that is, [Both the knowledge of God and of thy self is necessary to salvation▪ because as from the Knowledge of thy self, the Fear of God cometh into thee, and Love from the knowledge of God: so on the contrary from the Ignorance of thy self cometh pride, and from the Ignorance of God comes De­speration.] Quid est sapientia (inquit Se­neca?) Semper idem Velle, & idem Nolle [...] At non potest idem semper placere nisi re­ctum] Wisdom appeareth in alwayes Willing▪ and alwayes Nilling the same thing: but its only Right and Good that can alwayes please.

Poor men that must confess their sin and misery at last, would shew a more seasonable acquaintance with themselves, if they would do it now, and say with the Prodigal, [I [Page 81] will go to my Father and say to him, Father I have sinned against Heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.] In time this Knowledge, & confession may be saving. Even a Seneca could say, without the Scripture [Initium est salutis, notitia peccati; Nam qui peccare se nescit, corrigi non vult. Ideo quantum potes, teipsum argue. Inquire in te: accusatoris primū partibus fun­gere; deinde judicis; novissime deprecatoris.] i. e. [The knowledge of sin, is the beginning of recovery (or health:) For he that knows not that he sinneth, will not be corrected. Reprehend thy self therefore as much as thou canst. Inquire into thy self: First play the part of an Accuser, then of a Judge: and lastly of one that asketh pardon.]

It is not because men are Innocent or Safe, that we now hear so little confession or complaint: but because they are sinfull and miserable in so great a measure, as not to Know or Feel it: [Quare vitia [...]ua nemo confitetur (inquit Seneca?) Quia [...]tiam nunc in illis est. Somnium narra­ [...]e, vigilantis est; & vitia sua confiteri, [...]anitatis judicium est.] i. e. [Why doth no [...]an confess his vices? Because he is yet in [...]hem. To tell his dreams is the part of a [...]an that is awake: and to confess his faults, [Page 82] is a sign of health.] If you call a Poor man Rich, or a deformed person beautifull, or a vile ungodly person vertuous, or an ignorant Barbarian learned, will not the hearers think, you do not know them? And how should they think better of your knowledge of your selves, if any of you that are yet in the flesh, will say you are spiritual? and those that hate the Holiness, and Justice, and Government of God, will say they love him? or those that are in a state of Enmi­ty to God, and are as near to Hell, as the Execution is to the Sentence of the Law, will perswade themselves and others, that they are the Members of Christ, the chil­dren of God, and the heirs of Heaven? and take it ill of any that would question it, though only to perswade them to make it sure, and to take heed what they trust to, when endless Joy or Misery must be the issue?

7. Doth it not manifest how little men know themselves, when in every suffering that befals them, they overlook the Cause of all within them, and fall upon others, or quar­rel with every thing that standeth in their way. Their contempt of God doth cast them into some affliction, and they quarrel with the Instruments, and medle not with the mortall cause at home. Their [Page 83] sin finds them out, and testifieth against them; and they are angry with the [...]od, and repine at Providence, as if God himself were more to be suspected of the Cause then they. Yea, it is become with many a se­rious doubt, Whether God doth not Necessi­tate them to sin; and, Whether they omit not duty meerly because he will not give them power to perform it; and, Whether their sin be any other then a Relation unavoid­ably resulting from a Foundation laid by the hand of God himself. Do men know themselves, that will sooner suspect and blame the most Righteous, Holy God, then their own unrighteous carnal hearts? Man drinketh up iniquity like water; but there is no unrighteousnes with God. Saith Innocent, [Conceptus est homo in foetore luxuria, quód (que) deterius est, in labe peccati; natus ad laborem, timorem, dolorem, &c. Agit prava, quibus offendit Deum; offendit proximum; offendit se­ipsum; agit turpia, quibus polluit famam, pol­luit personam, polluit conscientiam: Agit vana, quibus negligit sana; negligit utilia; negligit necessaria.] Man is conceiv­ed in the filth or stink of luxury (or lust,) and which is worse, in the stain of sin: born to labour, fear, and pain, &c. He doth that which is evil, to the offence of God; his neigh­bour [Page 84] and himself: He doth that which is filthy, to the polluting of his fame, his person and his Conscience: He doth that which is vain, neglecting what is sound and profita­ble, and necessary.] And is not such a frail and sinfull wight, more likely to be the cause of sin then God? and to be culpable in all the ill that doth befall us?

And it shews that men little know them­selves, when all their complaints are poured out more fluently on others then themselves. Like sick stomacks that find fault with eve­ry dish, when the fault is within them: Or like pained, weak, or froward children; that quarrel with every thing that touch­eth them, when the cause is in themselves. If they want Peace, Content or Rest, they lay the blame on this place or that, this or that person, or estate: They think if they had their mind in this or that, they should be well: And therefore they are still contriving for somewhat, whch they want; and studying changes or longing after this or that; which they imagine would work the Cure: When, alas poor souls, the [...], the sickness, the want is in themselves. It is a wiser mind, a better, more holy, heavenly Will, thats wanting to them; without which nothing in the world will solidly [Page 85] content and comfort them. Seneca can teach them this much by the light of Nature [Non longa peregrinatione, nec locorum varietatibus, tristitiam mentis gravi­tatém (que) discuties: animum debes mutare, non coelum: licèt vastum trajeceris mare, sequuntur te, quocun (que) perveneris, vitia. Quid miraris tibi peregrinationes non pro­desse, cum te circumferas? Premit te eadem causa quae expulit. Quid terrarum juvare novitas potest? Quid cognitio urbium aut lo­corum? In irritum cedit ista jactantia. Onus animi deponendum est, non antè tibi ullus placebit locus. Vadis huc & illuc, ut excu­tias incidens pondus, quod ipsa jactatione incommodius fit: sicut in navi onera immota minùs urgent, inaequaliter convoluta citiùs eam partem, in quam incumbunt, demergunt. Quic­quid facis, contra te facis: & motu ipso noces tibi: aegrum enim concutis. At cum istud exemeris malum omnis mutatio loci ju­cundus fiet. In ultimas expellaris terras li­cèt, in quolibet Barbariae angulo colloceris, hospitalis tibi illa qualiscun (que) sedes erit. Magis Quis veneris, quam Quò, interest.] that is, [It is not by long travels, or by change of places, that you can discuss the sadness and heaviness of the mind. Its the Mind, and not the Climate that you should [Page 86] change: though you pass the vastest sea, your vices will follow you whithersoever you go. Why marvellest thou that travels avail thee not, when thou carriest about thy self? The same cause that drove thee away, doth follow thee. What can the novelty of coun­treys avail? Or the knowledge of Cities and places? This tossing up and down is vain; Its the load of thy mind, that must be laid down: Till that be done, no place will please thee: Thou goest up and down to shake off a burden thats fastened on thee; which even by thy motion doth become more troublesome. As in a ship the setled weight is least troublesome, when things unequally thrown together, do sink the part in which they lye. What thou dost, thou dost it against thy self; and hurtest thy self by the very motion; For thou shakest a sick person: But when once thou hast taken out of thy self the evil, every change of place will be pleasant. Though thou be expelled into the remotest lands; or placed in any corner of Barbary, it will be however to thee a seat of hospitality; It more concerneth thee to know Who (or What) thou art thy self that comest thither, then Whither it is that thou comest.]

Did you know your selves in all your griefs, its there that you would suspect and find your malady, and there that you would most solicitously seek the cure.

BY this time, if you are willing, you may see, where lyeth the disease and misery of the world and also what must be the cure. Man hath lost himself, by seeking himself: He hath lost himself in the losse of God. He de­parted from God, that he might enjoy him­self: and so is estranged from God and him­self. He left the Sun, and retired into darkness, that he might behold himself, and not the Light; and now beholdeth neither himself nor the light: For he can not behold himself but by the Light. As if the Body should forsake the Soul and say, I will no longer serve another, but will be my own: what would such a sel­fish separation procure but the converting of a Body into a loathsome Carkass, and a senseless clod? Thus hath the Soul dejected it selfe, by turning to it self, and seperat­ing from God: without whom it hath nei­ther Life, nor Light nor Joy. By desir­ing a selfish kind of Knowledge of Good and evill, withdrawing from its just depen­dance upon God, it hath involved it self in Care and misery, and lost the quieting delighting Knowledge which it had in God. And now poor man is lost in er­ror: [Page 88] He is stragled so farre from home, that he knoweth not where he is, nor which way to returne, till Christ in mercy seeke and save him, Math. 18.11. Luk. 19.10.

Yet could we but get men to know that they do not know themselves, there were the great­er hope of their recovery. But this is contra­ry to the nature of their distemper. An eye that is blinded by a suffusion or Cataract, seeth not the thing that blindeth it: It is the same Light that must shew them themselves, and their ignorance of them­selves: Their self-ignorance is part of the self-evill which they have to know. Those troubled souls that complain that they know not themselves, doe shew that they begin at least to know themselves. But a Pharisee will say [Are we blind also?] Joh. 9.40. They are too blind to know that they are blind. The Gospell shall be rejected, the Apostles persecuted, Christ himself abused and put to death, the Nation rui­ned, themselves and their posterity undone by the Blindness of these Hypocrites, be­fore they will perceive that they are Blind, and that they know not God or themselves. Alas the long calamityes of the Church, the distempers and confusions in the state, [Page 89] the lamentable divisions and dissensions among believers, have told the world, how little most men know themselves; and yet they themselves will not perceive it. They tell it aloud to all about them, by their self-conceitedness and cruelty, uncha­ritable censures, reproaches and impositi­ons, that they know not themselves, and yet you cannot make them know it. Their afflicted brethren feel it to their smart; the suffering grieved Churches feel it; thousands groan under it, that never wronged them: and yet you cannot make them feel it.

Did they well know themselves to be Men, so many would not use themselves like beasts; and care so little for their most noble part. Did they know themselves aright to be but Men, so many would not set up themselves as Gods: They would not arrogate a Divine authority in the matters of God, and the Consciences of others, as the Roman Prelats do: Nor would they desire so much that the obser­vation, reverence, admiration, love and applause of all should be turned upon them; nor be so impatient when they seem to be neglected; nor make so great a matter of their wrongs, as if it were some Deity that were injured.

[Page 90]O what a change it would make in the world, if men were brought to the know­ledge of themselves? How many would weep, that now laugh, and live in mirth and pleasure? How many would lament their sin and misery, that now are Phari­saically confident of their integrity? How many would seek to faithfull Ministers for advice, and enquire what they should do to be saved, that now deride them, and scorn their counsell, and cannot bear their plain reproof or come not near them? How many would ask directions for the cure of their unbelief, and pride and sensuality, that now take little notice of any such sins within them? How many would cry day and night for mercy, and beg importunatly for the life of their immortall souls, that now take up with a few words of course instead of serious fervent prayer? Doe but once know your selves aright, know what you are, and what you have done, and what you want, and what's your danger; and then be pray­erless and careless if you can: Then sit still and trifle out your time, and make a jeast of holy diligence, and put God off with lifeless words and complements if you can. Men could not thinke so lightly [Page 91] [...]nd contemptuously of Christ, so unwor­ [...]hily and falsly of a holy life, so delight­fully of sin, so carelesly of Duty, so fearlesly of Hell, so senslesly and atheistically of God, and so disregardfully of Heaven, [...]s now they do, if they did but throughly know themselves.

ANd now, Sirs, me thinks, your con­sciences should begin to stir, and your thoughts should be turned inwards upon your selves, and you should serious­ly consider, what measure of acquaintance you have at home, and what you have done to procure and maintain such ac­quaintance. Hath Conscience no Ʋse to make of this Doctrine, and of all that hath been said upon it? Doth it not reprove you for your self neglect, and your wander­ings of mind, and your aliene, unnecessary fruitless Cogitations? Had you been but as strange to your familiar friend, and as regardless of his acquaintance, correspon­dencie and affaires, as too many of you have been of your Own, you may imagine how he would have taken it, and what Use he would have made of it: some such Use it beseemeth you to make of estrang­edness [Page 92] to your selves. Would not he ask, [What is the matter that my friend so sel­dom looketh at me? and no more mind­eth me or my affaires? What have I done to him? How have I deserved this? What more beloved company or employment hath he got?] You have this and much more to plead against your great Neglect and Ignorance of your selves.

In order to your conviction and refor­mation, I shall first shew you some of those Reasons, that should move you to Know your selves, and consequently should humble you for neglecting it: and then I shall shew you, what are the Hinderances that keep men from self-acquaintance, and give you some Directions necessary to at­taine it.

In generall consider, it is by the Light of knowledge that all the affairs of your souls must be directed: And therefore while you know not your selves, you are in the dark, and unfit to manage your own affairs. your Principall error about your selves will have influence into all the transactions of your lives, you will neglect the greatest duties, and abuse and corrupt those which you think you do performe. [Page 93] While you know not yourselves, you know not what you do, nor what you have to do, and therefore can do nothing well. For in­stance.

1. When you should Repent of sin, you know it not as in yourselves, and therefore cannot savingly Repent of it. If you know in generall, that you are sinners, or know your gross and crying sins, which Consci­ence cannot overlook, yet the sins which you know not because you will not know them, may condemne you. How can you Repent of your Pride, Hypocrisie, Self-love, Self-seeking, your Want of love and feare, and trust in God, or any such sins which you never did observe? Or if you perceive some sins, yet if you perceive not that they reign and are predominant, and that you are in a state of sin, how can you Repent of that estate which you perceive not? Or if you have but a sleight and superficiall sight of your sinfull state and your particular sins, you can have but a superficiall false Repentance.

2. If you know not yourselves, you can­not be duely sensible of your misery. Could it be expected that the Pharisees should lament, that they were of their Father the Devill, as long as they boasted that they [Page 94] were the Children of God? Joh. 8.41, 44. Will they lament that they are under the wrath of God, the curse of the Law, and the bondage of the Devill, that know not of any such misery that they are in, but hope they are the heirs of heaven? What think you is the reason, that when Scripture telleth us that few shall be saved, and none at all but those that are new creatures, and have the Spirit of Christ, that yet there is not one of many that is sensible that the case is theirs? Though Scripture perem­ptorily concludeth, that They that are in the flesh cannot please God, and that To be car­nally minded is death, Rom, 8.6, 7, 8. and that Without holyness none shall see God, Heb. 12.14 and that all They shall be dam­ned that believe not the truth but have plea­sure in unrighteousness, 2 Thes. 2.12. and that Christ will come in flaming fire, take­ing vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospell of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorifyed in his saints and admired in all them that do believe. 2 Thes. 1.7, 8, 9, 10. And would not a man think that such words as these should waken the [Page 95] guilty soul that doth believe them? and make us all to look about us? I confess it is no wonder, if a flat Atheist or Infidel should sleight them and deride them! But is it not a wonder if they stir not those, that profess to believe the word of God, and are the men of whom these Scriptures speak. And yet among a thousand that are thus condemned already; (I say, by the word, that is the Rule of Judgement even condem­ned already; For so God saith, Joh. 3.18.) how few shall you see that with penitent tears lament their misery? How few shall you hear, with true remorse, complain of their spiritual distress, and cry out as those that were pricked at the heart, Act. 2.37. Men and Brethren, what shall we do? In all this Congregation, how few hearts are affected with so miserable a case? Do you see by the tears, or hear by the complaints of those about you, that they know what it is, to be unpardoned sinners, under the wrath of the most holy God! And what is the matter that there is no more such la­mentation? Is it because there are few or none so miserable? Alas! no. The Scri­pture, and their worldly, fleshly, and un­godly lives, assure us of the contrary. But it is because men are strangers to themselves. [Page 90] [...] [Page 91] [...] [Page 92] [...] [Page 93] [...] [Page 94] [...] [Page 95] [...] [Page 96] They little think that its themselves, that [...] the terrible threatnings of God do men. Most of them little believe or consider, what Scripture saith; But fewer consider what Conscience hath to say within, when once it is awakened, and the curtain is drawn back, and the light appeareth. The first Proposition inferreth not the conclusi­on; And the Assumption they overlook. Did all that read and hear the Scriptures know themselves, I'le tell you how they would hear and read it. When the Scripture saith, [To be carnally minded is death: and if ye live after the flesh ye shall dye,] Rom. 8.8, 13. the guilty hearer would say [I am carnally minded: and I live after the fleshe therefore I must Turn or Die.] When the Scripture saith [Where your treasure is, there will your hearts be also] Mat. 6.21. The guilty conscience would assume [My heart is not in Heaven, therefore my treasure is not there.] When Scripture saith [Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, Matth. 18.3. and Except a man be regenerate and born again, he cannot en­ter into the Kingdom of God, John 3.3, 5. and [If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold [Page 97] all things are become new, 2 Cor. 5.17. and [If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his, Rom. 8.9.] The guilty hearer would assume [I was never thus converted, regenerate, born again▪ and made a new creature: I have not the Spirit of Christ: therefore I am none of his, and cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, till this change be wrought upon me.] When the Scripture saith [Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge, Heb. 13.4.] The guilty hearer would say, [How then shall I be able to stand before him?]

Yea, did but Hearers know themselves, they would perceive their danger from remoter principles, that mention the dealing of God with others. When they hear of the judge­ment of God upon the ungodly, & the ene­mies of the Church, they would say [Except I Repent, I shall likewise perish] Luke 13.3, 5. When they hear that [Judgement must begin at the house of God] They would infer [What then shall be the end of them that obey not the Gospel of God?] And when they hear that [The Righteous are scarcely saved] They would think [Where then shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?] 1 Pet. 4.17, 18.

3. If you know not your selves, you can­not be Christians: you cannot have a pra­ctical [Page 98] belief in Christ: For he is offered to you in the Gospel, as the remedy for your Misery; as the ransome for your enthralled souls; as the propitiation for your sin, and your peace-maker with the Father; without whose merit, satisfaction, righteousness, and intercession, your guilty souls can have no hope. And can you savingly value him in these respects, if you know not that sin and misery, that guilt and thraldom, in which your need of Christ consisteth? Christ is esteemed by you according to the judge­ment you pass upon your selves.

They that say they are sinners, from a gene­ral brain-knowledge, will accordingly say Christ is their Saviour and their hope, with a superficial Belief, and will honour him with their lips with all the titles belonging to the Redeemer of the world: But they that feel that they are deadly sick of sin [...] the very heart, and are lost for ever if he do not save them, will feel what the name of a Saviour signifieth, and will look to him as the Israelites to the brazen Serpent, and cast themselves at his feet, for the [...] of grace, and will yield up themselves [...] be saved by him, in his way. An uneffectual knowledge of your selves, may make you be­lieve in a Redeemer, as all the City do of a [Page 99] Learned able Physicion, that will speak well of his skill, and resolve to use him when ne­cessity constraineth them, but at present they find no such necessity. But an effectu­al sight and sense of your condition, will bring you to Christ, as a man in a Dropsie or Consumption comes to the Physicion, that feels be must have help or die. Saith Ber­nard, [Filium Dei non reputat Jesum, qui ipsius non terretur comminationibus, &c.] You will not take the Son of God for a Saviour, if you be not affrighted by his threatnings] And if you perceive not that you are lost, you will not heartily thank him that came to seek and save you. [Non consolantur Christi lahcrymae cachinnantes [...], non consolantur panni ejus ambulantes in stolis; non consolantur stabulum & praesepe amantes primas Cathedras in Synagogis.] saith Bernard [Christs tears do not comfort them that laugh: his rags do not comfort them that (love to) walk in robes: his stable and manger comfort not them that love the highest seats in the Synagogues.] Can you seek to Christ to take you up, till you find that you have fallen and hurt you? Will you seek to him to fetch you from the gates of hell, that find not that you are there?

But to the self-condemning soul that know­eth [Page 100] it self, how wellcome would a Saviour be? How ready is such a soul for Christ? Thou that judgest thy self art the person that must come to Christ to Justifie thee. Now thou art ready to be healed by him, when thou findest that thou art sick, and dead: Hast thou received the sentence of death in thy self? Come to him now and thou shalt have life, John 5.40. 1 John 5.11. Art thou weary and heavy laden? Come to him for rest: Come and fear not; for he bids thee come, Matthew 11.27, 28. Dost thou know that thou hast sinned against Heaven and before God, and art not worthy to be called a Son? Do but cast thy self then at his feet, and tell him so, and ask forgiveness, and try whether he will not welcome and embrace thee, pardon and entertain thee, cloth thee and feast thee, and rejoyce over thee as one that was lost, and is found; was dead, and is alive, Luke 15. For he came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19 10. While thou saidst, I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing, and knewest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked; thou wouldst not buy the tryed Gold that thou mightest be rich, nor his whiterayment that thou mightest be cloath­ed, [Page 101] that the shame of thy nakedness might not appear; nor Christs eye salve that thou mightest see, Rev. 3.17, 18. But now thou art poor in Spirit, and findest that thou art nothing, and hast nothing, and of thy self canst do nothing that is acceptably good. John 15.5. and that of thy self thou art insufficient to think any thing that is good, 2 Cor. 3.5. now thou art readier for the help of Christ, and a patient fit for the tender healing hand of the Physicion. Whilst thou saidst, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adul­terers, nor as this Publican, thou wast further from Christ and Justification, then now thou standest as afar off, and darest scare look up to heaven, but smitest on thy breast and saist, Lord be mercifull to me a sinner, Luke 18.11, 12, 13, 14. Not that extorti­oners, unjust, adulterers, or any that are ungodly, are justified or can be saved, while they are such: Nor that a smiting on the breast, with a [Lord be mercifull to me a sinner] will serve their turn while they con­tinue in their wicked lives: But when thou art brought to accuse and condemn thy self, thou art prepared for his grace that must renew and justifie thee. None sped better with Christ, then the woman that confest her self a dog, and begged but for [Page 102] the childrens crums: And the Centurion that sent friends to Christ to mediate for him, and as being unworthy to come him­self, and unworthy that Christ should enter under his roof: For of the first Christ said [O woman, great is thy faith: be it un­to thee even as thou wilt] Mat. 15.27, 28. And of the second he saith with admirati­on [I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel, Luke 7.6, 7, 8.9.] Though thou art ready to deny the title of a child, and to number thy self with the dogs, yet go to him and beg his crums of mercy. Though thou think that Christ will not come to such a one as thou, and though thou beg prayers of others, as thinking he will not hear thy own, thou little thinkest how this self-abasement and self-denyal prepareth thee for his tenderest mercies, and his esteem. When thou art contrite (as the dust that's trodden underfeet) and poor, and tremblest at the Word, then will he look at thee with compassion and respect, Isa. 66.2. [For thus saith the high and lofty one that in­habiteth eternity, whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place: with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to re­vive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite ones: For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be alwayes [Page 103] wroth; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made, Isa. 57.15. When thou art using the self-condemning words of Paul, Rom. 7.14. to 25. [I am carnal, sold under sin: what I would, that do I not; and what I hate, that do I. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwel­leth no good thing — I find a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. — A Law in my members warring against the Law of my mind, and bringing me into capti­vity to the Law of sin —] when thou criest out with him [O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me, from the body of this death;] thou art then fitter to look to thy Redeemer, and use the following words [I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.] When thou didst exalt thy self, thou wast obnoxious to the stormes of Ju­stice, which was engaged to bring thee low: But now thou humblest thy self, thou liest in the way of Mercy, that is engaged to exalt thee, Luke 14.11. & 18.14. Mercy looketh downard, and can quickly [...]pie a sin­ner in the dust; but cannot leave him there, nor deny him compassion and relief. Art thou cast out as helpless, wounded by thy sin, and neglected by all others that pass by? Thou art the fittest object for the skill [Page 104] and mercy of him that washeth sinners in his blood, and tenderly bindeth up their wounds, and undertakes the perfecting of the cure, though yet thou must bear the Surgeons hand, till his time of perfect cure be come, Luke 10.33, 34, 35. Now thou perceivest the greatness of thy sin and mise­ry, thou art fit to study the greatness of his mercy: & with all Saints (to strive) to compre­hend, what is the breadth, & length, & depth, & height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, Ephes. 3.18, 19. Now thou hast smitten upon the thigh, and said, What have I done? Jerem. 31.19. & 8.6. thou art fitter to look unto him that was wounded and smitten for thy transgressions, and to consider what he hath done, and suffe­red: how he hath born thy grief and car­ried thy sorrows, and was bruised for thy iniquities; the chastisment of our peace was laid upon him, and we are healed by his stripes▪ All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of [...] all, Isa. 53.4, 5, 6, &c. Art thou in doubt whether there be any forgiveness for thy sins? and whether there be any place for Repentance? Remember that Christ is ex­alted by Gods right hand to be a Prince and a [Page 105] Saviour, to give Repentnace unto Israel and forgivness of sins Act. 5.31. And that he himself hath spoken it, that [All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,] except the Blasphemy against the Spirit. Math. 12.32. And this Forgiveness of sins thou art bound to believe as an Ar­ticle of thy Creed: that it is purchased by Christ, and freely offered in the Gospell. Mercy did but wait all this while, till thou wast brought to understand the want and worth of it, that it might be thine. When a Peter that denyeth Christ with oaths and cursing, goeth out and weep­eth, he speedily finds mercy from him without, that he but now denyed within. When so bloody a persecuter as Paul find­eth mercy, upon his prostration and con­fession; and when so great an offender as Manasseh is forgiven upon his penitence, in bonds; when all his witchcraft, Idolatry and crueltyes are pardoned, upon a repent­ance that might seeme to have been forced by a grievous scourge; what sinner that perceives his sin and misery, can question his entertainment if he come to Christ. Come to him sinner, with thy load and burden; Come to him with all thy acknowledged unworthyness: and try whether he will [Page 106] refuse thee. He hath professed that [ [...] that cometh to him, he will in no wise [...] out] Joh. 6.37. He refused not his very murderers, when they were pricked at the heart and enquired after a remedie, Act. 2.37. And will he refuse thee? Hath our Physicion poured out his blood to make a medicine for distracted sinners? and now is he un­willing to work the cure? [Fusus est sa [...] ­guis medici, & factum est medicament [...] frenetici] saith Augustine. O siner! [...] thou art brought to know thy self, know Christ also, and the cure is done. Let thy thoughts of the Remedie be deeper and larger and longer then all thy thoughts of thy Mi­sery? It is thy sin and shame if it be not [...] Why wilt thou have twenty thoughts of sin and misery, for one that thou hast of Christ and mercy? when mercy is so large and great and wonderfull as to triumph over misery: and Grace aboundeth much more where sin hath abounded, Rom, 5.20. [Inspice vulnera pendentis, sanguinem m [...]ri­entis; pretium redimentes; cicatrices re [...] ­gentis. Caput habet inclinatum ad oscular dum; cor apertum ad diligendum; brac [...]id extensa ad amplexandum, totum cor [...] expositum ad redimendum] saith Augusti [...] [Behold the wounds of Christ as he is hang­ [...]g; [Page 107] the blood of him dying, the price of him [...]deeming, the scars of him rising. His Head [...] bowed to Kiss thee: his heart open to love [...]ee; his arms open to embrace thee; [...]is whole body exposed to redeem thee.]

[Homo factus est hominis Factor; ut sugeret [...]bera regens sydera; ut esuriret Panis; ut [...]eret Fons; dormiret Lux; ab itinere via [...]tigaretur; falsis testibus Veritas occul­ [...]retur; Index viv [...]rum & mortu [...]rum à ju­ [...]ce mortali judicaretur; ab injustis justi­ [...]a damnaretur; flagellis disciplina caedore­ [...]ur; spinis botr [...]s coronaretur; in ligno [...]undamentum suspenderetur; virtus infir­ [...]aretur; salus vulneraretur; vita [...]oreretur] saith Aug. that is, [The Maker [...]f man was made man; that he might suck [...]e breasts that rules the starrs; that Bread [...]ight hunger; the Spring (or fountain) might [...]hirst; the Light might steep; the Way [...]ight be weary in his journey; that the Truth might be hidden by false witnesses: That the Judge of quick and dead might be [...]udged by amortal judge: Iustice might be condemned by the unjust; Discipline might [...] scourged▪ the Cluster of grapes might be [...]rowned with thorns; the Foundation might be hanged on a tree; that Strength [...]ight be weakned; that Health might be [Page 108] wounded; and that Life it self might dy [...]. This is the wonderfull mystery of Love which will entertain the soul that come to Christ, and which thou must study [...] know when thou knowest thy self. But [...] then all these will be riddles, to thee, o [...] little relished: and Christ will seem to thy neglecting heart to have dyed and done [...] this in vain:

And hence it is, that as proud, ungodly sensuall men, were never sound Believers, so they oft-times fall from that opinionative common faith which they had, and of all me [...] do most easily turn Apostates: It being just with God that they should be so far forsaken as to vilifye the remedie, that would not know their sin & misery, but love it and pertinaciously hold it as their felicity.

4. If you Know not your selves, you will not know what to do with your selves, nor to what end and for what work you are to live. This makes the Holy work neglected, and most men live to little purpose, wasting their daies in matters that them selves will call impertinent when they come to die: as if they were good for nothing else. Whereas if they knew them selves, they would know that they are made and fitted for more noble workes. O man, if thou [Page 109] [...]ere acquainted well with thy faculties [...]d frame, thou wouldest perceive the [...]ame of God thy Maker, to be so deeply [...]graven in thy nature, even in all thy parts [...]nd powers, as should Convince thee that [...]ou wast made for him; that all thou art and [...] thou hast, is nothing worth, but for his [...]rvice: As all the parts and motions of [...] clock or watch, are but to tell the hour [...] the day. Thou wouldst know then the [...]eaning of Sanctification and Holiness: [...]hat it signifyeth but the Giving God his [...]wn; and is the first part of Justice; with­ [...]ut which, no rendering men their due can [...]ove thee Just: Thou wouldst then know [...]e unreasonableness and injustice of ungod­ [...]ness and all sin: And that to serve thy [...]eshly lusts and pleasures with those noble [...]culties that were purposely formed to [...]ove and serve the Eternall God, is more [...]bsurd and villainous, then to employ the [...]ighest officers of the King, in the sweep­ [...]ng of your chimneyes, or the serving of [...]our swine. Remember it, unreasonable, [...]cutish man, the next time thou art going to thy lusts and sensuall de­ [...]ghts. It is no wiser a course thou [...]akest: It is no more honorable or [...]ust: but as much worse, as God [Page 110] is to be preferred to a King; and as thy [...] is worse then the serving of thy swi [...]e, O man, didst thou but know thy self and see what employment thy facultyes are made, thou wouldst lift up thy head, and seriously think, who holds the reins? who keepe [...] thy breath yet in thy nostrills, and con­tinueth thee in life? And where it is that thou must shortly fix thy unchangeable abode; And what is now to be done in pre­paration for such a day? Os homini subli­me dedit, &c. Thou wouldst know that thou hadst not that Reason, and that will and executive power, to rowl in the earth, and be but a cunning kind of beast, that hath wit to play the fool, and can ingeniously live below understanding; and do that with argument which other bruits can do without it: Thou wouldst know that thy higher fa­culties were not made to serve the lower [...] thy Reason to serve thy sensuall delight ▪ the horse was not made to ride the man, nor the master to follow and attend the d [...]g. O man! hadst thou not lost the Know­ledge of thy self, thou wouldst be so far from wondering at a Holy life, that thou wouldst look upon an unholy person as a monster, and wouldst hear the derider [...] and opposers of a holy life, as thou wouldst [Page 111] hear him that were deriding a man because he is not a swine, or were reproaching men of honor and learning, because they live not as an Ass.

I confess, my soul is too apt to lose its lively sense of all these things: But when ever it is awake, I am forc't to say, in these kind of meditations, [If I had not a God to know and think on, to Love and honor, to seek and serve, what had I to do with my understanding, will and all my powers? What should I do with life and time? What use should I make of Gods provisions? What could I find to do in the world, that is worthy of a man? Were it not as good lie still, and sleep out my daies and professedly do nothing, as to go dreaming with a seem­ing seriousness, and wander about the world as in my sleep, and do nothing with such a troublesome stir, as sensuall worldly persons do? Could not I heave plaid the beast with­out a Reasonable free-working soul? Let them turn from God, and neglect the conduct of the Redeemer, and disregard the holy approaches and breathings and workings of the soul towards its beloved Center and felicity, that know not what an immortal soul is, or know how els to im­ploy their facultyes, with satisfaction or [Page 112] conttent unto themselves. I profess here [...] in his presence that is the Father of spirits▪ and before Angels and men, I do not, [...] know not what els to do with my soul that's worth the doing, but what is sub­servient to its proper object, its end and everlasting Rest. If the Holy service of God and the preparation for Heaven, and making after Christ and happiness, be forbidden me, I have no more to do in the world, that will satisfie my Reason, or satisfie my affections, or that as a man or a Christian I can own. And its as good not live, as to be deprived of the uses and the ends of Life. Though my Love and Desires are infinitely below the Eternal Goodness, and Glory, which they should pro­secute and embrace, yet do my little tasts, and dull desires, and cold affections consent unfeignedly to say, Let me have God or nothing: Let me know him and his will, and what will please him, and how I may enjoy him: or O that I had never had an un­derstanding to know any thing! Let me re­member him; or O that I had never had a memory! Let me Love him and be belo [...]ed of him; on O that I had never had such a thing as Love within me! Let me hear his teach­ings, or have no ears: Let me serve him [Page 113] with my riches, or let me have none: and with any interest and honour, or let me be despised] Its Nothing that he gives not Being to: And its Ʋseless that is not for his Glory and his will. If God have nothing to do with me, I have nothing to do with my self, nor the world hath nothing to do with me.

Let dark and dreaming, doating sinners declare their shame, and speak evill of what they never knew, and neglect the Good they never saw; let them that know not themselves or God, refuse to give up themselves to God, and think a life of sen­suality more suitable to them. But Lord lift thou up the light of thy countenance on me. Psal. 4. and let me no longer be a man, nor have Reason or any of thy ta­lents in my trust, then I shall be Thine, and live to Thee. I say as Bernard [Dig­ [...]s plane est morte, qui tibi Christe rec u­sat vivere; & qui tibi non sapit, desipit; & qui curat esse nisi propter te, pro ni hilo [...] & nihil est. Propter teipsum Deus fecisti [...]ia; & qui esse vult sibi, & non tibi, [...]sse incipit inter omnia.] [Worthy is that [...], O Christ, to die, that refuseth to live [...] thee: and he that is not wise to thee, is [...] a foole; and he that careth to Be un­less [Page 114] it be for thee, is good for nothing, and is nothing. For thy self O God hast thou made all things; and he that would Be to himself and not thee, among all things begineth to be Nothing.]

5. If you know not your selves, you know not how to apply the word of God, which you read or heare; you know not how to use either promises or threatnings, to the benefit of your soules: Nay you will misap­ply them to you hurt. If you are unregene­rate and know it not, you will put by all the calls of God, that invite you to come in and be converted, and think that they belong to grosser sinners, but not to you. All the descriptions of the unsanctified and their misery, will little affect you; and all Gods threatnings to such will little move you; for you will think they ar [...] not meant of you; you will be Pharisaically blessing your selves when you should b [...] pricked at the heart and laid in Contritio [...] at the feet of Christ: you will be thank [...]ing God that you are not such as indee [...] you are; you will be making application [...] the threatnings to others, and pittying [...] when you should lament your selves [...] will be thundering when you should [...] trembling; and speaking that evill of [...] [Page 115] that is your owne; and convincing others of that which you had need to be convin­ced of; and wakening others by talking in your sleepe; and calling other men hypo­crites, proud, self-conceited, ignorant and other such names that are indeed your owne; you will read or heare your owne con­demnation, and not be moved at it, as not knowing your owne description when you heare it, but thinking that this thunder­bolt is levelled at another sort of men. All the words of Peace and Comfort, you will think are meant of such as you. When you read of Pardon, Reconciliation, Adop­tion, and right to everlasting Life, you will imagine that all these are yours. And thus you will be dreaming-rich and safe, when you are poore and miserable, and in the greatest perill. And is it not pitty that the celestiall undeceving Light should be abused to so dangerous selfdeceit? and that Truth itself should be made the fur­therance of so great an error? And that the eyesalve should more put out your eyes [...] Is it not sad to consider that you should now be emboldened to presumption, by that very word which (unless you be conver­ [...]ed) will judge you to damnation? And that self-deceit should be increased, by the [Page 116] glass of verity that should undeceive you?

How can you know what promise or threatning doth belong to you, while you know not what state your souls are in: Can you tell what Physick to take, till your disease be known? or choose your plaister till you know your sore?]

6. If you know not yourselves, you know not how to confess or pray. This makes men Confess their sins so seldome and with so little remorse to God and man; you hide them because they are hidden from yourselves; and therefore God will open them to your shame: whereas if they were opened to you, they would be opened by you, and covered by God. Saith Augustine [Non operui, sed aperui ut ope­rires; Non caelavi, ut tegeres: Nam quando homo detegit, Deus tegit. Cum homo caelat, Deus nudat: Cum homo agnoscit, Deus igno­scit] [I did not cover, but open that thou maist cover: I concealed not, that thou mightst hide. For when man discloseth, God covereth: When man hideth, God maketh bare: when man confesseth, God forgiveth.] For want of self-acquintance it is that men hypocritically confess to God in a way of custome, the sins which they will deny or excuse to man; and will tell God formally [Page 117] of much, which they cannot endure to be told of seriously by a reprover: or if they confess it generally with a seeming humi­lity to others, they cannot beare that another should faithfully charge it upon them, in order to their true humiliation and amendment [Indicia verae confessionis sunt, si ut unusquisque se peccatorem dicit, id de se dicenti alteri non contradicat. Nam non peccator sed justus videri appetit, cum peccatorem se quisque nullo arguente confi­tetur; superbia quippe vitium est, ut quod de se fateri quis sua sponte dignatur, hoc sibi dici ab aliis dedignetur] saith Bernard. [It is the signe of true Confession if, as every one saith he is a sinner, he contradict not another that saith it of him. For he de­sireth not to seeme a sinner, but Righteous, when one confesseth himself a sinner when none reproveth him. It is the vice of Pride for a man to disdaine to have that spoken to him of others, which he stuck not to confess of his ow [...] accord concerning himself.]

A [...] for prayer, it is mens ignorance of [...] that makes prayer so little in [...]: Hunger best teacheth men to beg. [...] would be ofter on your knees, if you [...]ere ofter in your hearts. Prayer would not [...]eem needless, if you knew your needs. Know [Page 118] your selves and be prayerless if you can▪ When the Prodigal was convinced, he pre­sently purposeth to Confess and Pray. When Paul was converted, Ananias hath this evi­dence of it from God [Behold he prayeth] Act. 9.11. Indeed the inward part of prayer, is the motion of a returning soul to God: saith Hugo [Oratio est piae mentis & humilis ad Deum conversio, fide, spe, & charitate sub­nixa.] Prayer is the turning of a pious hum­ble soul to God, leaning upon faith, hope and love.] It is [Oranti subsidium, Deo sacri­ficium, daemonibus flagellum] The relief of the Petitioner, the sacrifice of God, the scourge of Devils.]

And self-knowledge would teach men how to pray. Your own hearts would be the best Prayer-books to you, if you were skil­full in reading them. Did you see what sin is, and in what Relation you stand to God, to Heaven and Hell, it would drive you above your beads and lifeless words of course, and make you know that [...] pray to God for pardon and salvation [...] not a work for a sleepy soul: saith [...], [Ille Deo veram Orationem exhibet [...] metipsum cognoscit, quia pulvis sit; [...] videt, qui nihil sibi virtutis tribuit, [...] He offereth the truest prayer to God, [...] [Page 119] knoweth himself, that humbly seeth he is but dust, and ascribeth not vertue to himself, &c.] Nothing quencheth prayer more, then to be mistaken or mindless about our selves. When we go from home, this fire goes out; But when we return, and search our hearts, and see the sins, the wants, the weaknesses that are there, and perceive the danger that is before us, and withall the glorious hopes that are offered us, here's fuell and bellows to enflame the soul, and cure it of its drow­siness and dumbness. Help any sinner to a clearer light to see into his heart and life, and to a livelyer sense of his own condition, and I warrant you he will be more disposed to fervent prayer, and will better understand the meaning of those words, Luke 18.1. [That men ought alwayes to pray and not to faint.] and 1 Thes. 5.17. Pray without ceasing.] You may hear some impious persons now disputing against frequent and fervent prayer, and saying, What need all this ado? But if you were able to open these mens eyes, and shew them what is within them and before them, you would quickly answer all their arguments, and convince them better then words can do, and put an end to the dispute. You would set all the prayerless families in Town and [Page 120] Country, Gentlemens and poor mens, on fervent calling upon God, if you could but help them to such a sight of their sin and danger, as shortly the stoutest of them must have. Why do they pray, and call for prayers, when they come to die, but that they begin a little better to know themselves? They see then that youth and health and honour are not the things, nor make them not so happy, as befooling prosperity once perswaded them. Did they believe and consider what God saith of them, and not what flattery and self-love say, it would open the mouths of them that are most speechless. But those that are born deaf, are alwayes dumb. How can they speak that language with desire to God, which they never learn't by faith from God or by knowledge of themselves?

And self-knowledge would teach men what to ask. They would feel most need of spiritual mercies, and beg hardest for them; and for outward things, they would ask but for their daily bread; and not be foolishly importunate with God for that which they know not to be suitable or good for them. [Fideliter supplicans Deo pro necessitatibus hujus vitae, & miserecorditer auditur, & miserecorditer non auditur. [Page 121] Quid enim infirmo sit utilius magis novit medicus quam agrotus] saith Prosper. Its mercy to be denyed sometimes when we pray for outward things: Our Physition, and not we must choose our Physick, and prescribe our diet.

And if men knew themselves, it would teach them on what terms to expect the hearing of their prayers. Neither to be ac­cepted for their merits, nor yet to be accep­ted without that faith, and Repentance, and desire, that seriousness, humility, and sin­cerity of heart, which the very nature of Prayer to God doth contain or presuppose. He that nameth the name of Christ, must de­part from iniquity, 2 Tim. 2.19. and must wash himself and make him clean, and put away the evil of his doings from before the eyes of God, and cease to do evil, and learn to do well; Isa. 1.16, 17. As knowing that though a Simon Magus must Repent and Pray, Acts 8.22. and the wicked in forsak­ing his way, and thoughts, and returning to the Lord, must seek him while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near] Isa. 55.6, 7. and the prayers of a humbled Publican are heard, when he sets his pray­er against his sins; Yet if he would cherish his sin by prayer, and flatter himself into a [Page 122] presumption and security in a wicked life▪ because he useth to ask God forgiveness; i [...] he thus regard iniquity in his heart, God will not hear his prayers, Psal. 66.18. and we know that such impenitent sinners God hear­eth not, John 9.31. And thus the prayers of the wicked as wicked, (which are not a withdrawing from his wickedness▪ but a bolster of his security, and as a craving of protection and leave to sin) are but an abo­mination to the Lord, Prov. 17.8. & 28 9. Ferrum prius extrahendum, The bullet, the thorn must be first got out, before any me­dicine can heal their wounds. Saith Augu­stine [Plus Deo placet latratus canum, mugitus boum, grunnitus porcorum, quan cantus clericorum luxuriantium] [The barking of dogs, the lowing of beasts, the grunting of swine, doth please God better then the singing of luxuriant Clergy men.] Did men know themselves, and who they have to do with in their prayers, they would not go from Cards, and Dice, and glutto­ny, and fornication, and railing, lying or reviling at the servants of the Lord, to a few hypocritical words of prayer, to salve all till the next time, and wipe their mouth [...], as if one sin had procured the forgiveness of another. Nor would they shut up a day [Page 123] [...]f worldliness, ambition, sensuality or [...]rofaneness, with a few heartless words of confession and supplication; or with the words of penitence while their hearts are im­penitent, as if when they have abused God by sin, they would make him amends or reconcile him by their mockery. Nor would they think to be accepted by Praying for that which they would not have; for holi­ness when they hate it, and for deliverance from the sins which they would not be de­livered from; and would not have their prayers granted.

7. If you know not your selves, it will unfit you for Thanksgiving: Your greatest Mercies will be least esteemed: And the lesser will be misesteemed: And while you are unthankfull for what you have, you will be absurdly thanking God for that which in­deed you have not.

What inestimable Mercies are daily trod­den under feet by sinners, that know not their worth, because they know not their own necessities! They have Time to Repent, and make preparation for an endless life: But they know not the worth of it, but unthank­fully neglect it, and cast it away on the ba­sest vanities: As if worldly cares, or wicked company, or fleshly lusts, or Cards or Dice [Page 124] or revellings, or idleness, were exercises in which they might better improve it, then the works of Holiness, Justice and Mercy, which God hath made the business of their lives. Or as if the profits, and pleasures and vain glory of this world, did better deserve it, then their Creator, and their own souls, and the Heavenly inheritance. But if their eyes were opened to see where they stand, and what they are, and what are their dangers and necessities, how thank­full would they be for one year, one mo­neth, one day, one hour to Repent and cry to God for Mercy! and how sensibly would they perceive that a hundred years time is not too long, to spend in serious prepara­tion for eternity?

They have now the faithfull Ministers of Christ, inviting them in his name to come to him and receive the riches of his grace, and beseeching them in his stead to be reconciled unto God, (Mat. 22. 2 Cor. 5.19, 20.) But they stop their ears, and harden their hearts, and stiffen their necks, and love not to be disturbed in their sins, but are angry with those that are sollicitous for their salvation, and revile them as too precise and strict, that tell them of the One thing needfull, and perswade them to [Page 125] choose the better part, and tell them where their sin will leave them. They take them for their friends that will encourage them in the way that God condemneth, and be merry with them in the way to endless sorrow, and flatter them into security and impenitency till the time of grace be past; but they hate them as their enemies that faithfully reprove them, and tell them of their folly, and call them to a safer bet­ter way. Alas, Sirs, there would not be so many Nations, Congregations, and Souls now left in darkness and misery by their own doing, having driven away the Mercy of the Gospel, and thrust their faithfull Teachers from them, if they knew them­selves. Men would not triumph in their own calamity, when they have expelled their faithfull Teachers, (the dust of whose feet, the sweat of their brows, the tears of their eyes, and the fervent prayers and groans of their hearts must witness against them,) if they knew themselves. They would not be like a mad man that glorieth that he hath beaten away his Physition and his friends, and is left to himself, if they knew themselves. When they have the ear­nest Calls of the Word without, and con­victions and urgings of the Spirit of God, [Page 126] and their Consciences within, they would not wilfully go on, and cast these mercies at their heels, if they knew themselves.

They have leave to joyn in the Com­munion of Saints, and to enjoy the benefit of holy Society in prayer, and conference, and mutual love and spiritual assistance, and in the publick worship of God: but they pass these by, as having more of trouble and burden, then of mercy, because they lit­tle know themselves.

And their inferior Mercies of Health, and Wealth, and food, and rayment, and friends, and accommodations, they misesteem and misuse: and value them but as provisi­on for the flesh, and the satisfaction of their sensual and inordinate desires, and not as their necessary provision for their duty in the way to Heaven! And therefore they are most thankfull for their greatest snares: For that honour and abundance which are stronger temptations, then they can over­come: For those fleshly contentments and delights, which are the enemies of grace, and the prison of their noblest faculties, and the undoing of their souls. If they could for shame speak out, they would thank God more for a whore, or a succes­full gain, or the favour of their earthen [Page 127] gods, or for preferment, or commodity, lands or houses, then ever they did for all the offers of Christ and grace, and all the invitations to a holy life. For there is much more joy and pleasure in their hearts for the former then the latter.

And Self-ignorance will also corrupt your Thanksgiving, and turn it into sin and folly. Is it not shame and pitty to hear an un­pardoned enemy of Holiness, and of God, to thank God that he is Justified and Re­conciled to God, and Adopted to be his child, and made a member of Jesus Christ? And to hear a carnal unregenerate person give thanks for his Regeneration and Sanctificati­on by the Holy Ghost? As it is to hear a leper give thanks for perfect health, or a fool or mad man thank God for making him wiser then his neighbours. Is it not pitty to hear a miserable soul thank God for the Grace which he never had▪ and one that is near eternal misery to thank God for making him an heir of Glory! O how many have thankt God Pharisai­tally for the pardon of their sins, that must for ever suffer for those sins! How many have thanked him for giving them the assu­red hopes of Glory, that must be thrust out into endless misery! As I having known [Page 128] many, that by their friends and by the [...]selves have been flattered into consi [...] hopes of life, when they were ready [...] die, have thankt God that the were [...] well, and the worst was past; which in [...] eyes of judicious standers by, was not [...] least aggravation of their sad and deplo [...]ble state. Methinks it is one of the sad [...]dest spectacles in the world to hear a [...] thanking God for the assurance of salva [...]on, that is in a state of condemnation, and like to be in Hell for ever! These absur­dities could not corrupt your highest du [...]ties, and turn them into sin, if you knew your selves.

A man that knoweth his own necessiti [...] and unworthiness, is thankfull for a little to God and man. Mercy is as no mercy, when there is no sense of need or misery. [Sa­pienti notum est quanti res quae (que) taxanda sit] saith Seneca. Therefore God useth to hum­ble them so low in the work of conversion, whom he meaneth ever after to imploy [...] the magnifying of his grace. And then that which is folly and hypocrisie from a Pharisee, will be an acceptable sacrifice from a hum­bled gratefull soul; and he that by Grace is differenced from other men, may (mo­destly) thank God that he is not as other [Page 129] men. For had he nothing more to thank God for, then the ungodly world, he would be rejected and perish with the world: And if he have more then the world, and yet be no more thankfull then the world, he would be guilty of greater unthankfulness then the world. [Non est superbia elati, sed confes­sio non ingrati: & habere te cognosce, & nihil ex te habere; ut nec superbus sis, nec ingratus: Dic Deo tuo, quoniam sanctus sum quia sanctificasti me: quia accepi, nonquae habui; quia tu dedisti, non quae ego merui] saith Augustine, [This is not the Pride of one lift up, but the acknowledgement of one thats not unthankfull: Know that thou hast, and know that thou hast nothing of thy self; that thou maist neither be proud, nor yet unthankfull. Say to thy God, I am holy, fer thou hast sanctified me: for I have recei­ved what I had not; and thou hast given me what I deserved not.] The Thanksgiving of a faithfull soul, is so far from being di­spleasing to God as a Pharisaical ostentation, that it is a great and excellent duty, and a most sweet and acceptable sacrifice, Psal. 50.14.23. Offer unto God thaenksgiving — He that offereth praise, Glorifieth me.]

8. And as to the Lords Supper, what work they are there like to make that are un­acquainted [Page 130] with themselvelves, you may conjecture from the nature of the work, and the command of self-examination and self-judging. Though some may be wellcomed by Christ, that have faith and love, though they doubt of their sincerity, and know not themselves to be children of God; yet none can be welcome that know not themselves to be sinners condemned by the Law, and needing a Saviour to Reconcile and Justifie them. Who will be there humbled at the feet of Grace, and thankfull for a Redeemer, and hunger and thirst for Sacramental benefits, that knoweth not his own unworthiness and necessities? O what inestimable mercy would appear in a Sacrament to us, in the offers of Christ and saving grace, and com­munion with God and with his Saints, if our appetites were but quickned by the knowledge of our selves?

9. And I beseech you consider, whether all your studies, and learning and employments, be not irrational, preposterous and imperti­nent, while you study not first to know your selves? You are nearest to your selves, and therefore should be best acquainted with your selves. What should you more ob­serve then the case of your own souls! and what should you know better then [Page 131] whats within you, and what you carry still about you, and that which me thinks, you should alwayes feel? even the bent of your own estimations and affections; the sick­nesses of your souls; your guilt, your wants and greatest necessities. All your Learning is but the concomitant of your dotage till you know your selves. Your wisest studies are but the workings of a distracted mind, while you study not your selves, and the things of everlasting consequence. The wise man was but derided by the standers by, that fell over head into a ditch, whilst he was busily taking the height of a Star. To study whether it be the Sun or Earth that moveth, and not consider what moti­on is predominant in thy soul and life, is a pittifull preposterous study: To think more what stars are in the firmament, then what Grace is in thy heart; and what planet reigneth, then what disposition reign­eth in thy self; and whether the Spirit or flesh have the dominion, is but to be lear­nedly besides thy self.

— Illum ego jure
Despiciam, qui scit quanto sublimior Atlas
[Page 132]Omnibus in Lybia sit montibus; hic tamen idem
Ignoret quantum ferrata distet ab arca.

Is it not a laborious madness to travail into far Countreys, and compass Sea and land, to satisfie a curiosity; and to be at so much cost and pains to know the scitu­ation, government, and manners, of the Cities and Countreys of the world, and in the mean time to be utterly strange at home, and never bestow one day or hour in a serious survey of heart and life! To carry about a dark, unknown, neglected soul, while they are travelling to know remot­est things that less concern them? Me thinks it is a pittifull thing, to hear men ingeniously discoursing of the quality, laws and customs of other Nations, and of the affairs of Princes, and Common-wealths, and of the riches and commodities of Sea and land, and to be mute when they should express their acquaintance with themselves, either in confession and prayer to God, or in any humble, experimental conference with men. To trade abroad, and utterly neglect the trade of godliness at home. To keep correspondency with persons of all degrees, and to have no correspondence with them­selves. [Page 133] To keep their shop-books and accounts with diligence, and never regard the Book of Conscience, nor keep account of that for which they must ere long be accountable to God. Its a pittifull thing to see men turn over voluminous histories, to know what hath been done from the beginning of the world, and regard no more the history of their own lives, nor once look back with penitent remorse upon their ungodly care­less Conversations, nor say, What have we done? To see men have well-furnish't Li­braries, and read over a multitude of Books, and never read the state and records of their souls!

Quid juvat immensos scire at (que) evolvere casus,
Si facienda fugis; si fugienda facis?

It maketh you but objects of wonder and compassion, to read Laws and Records, and understand all Cases, and never en­deavor to understand the Case of your im­mortal souls! To counsell others for their temporal estates, and never understand your own spiritual state! To study the mysteries of Nature, and search into all the works of God, except your selves, [Page 134] and that which your happiness or misery doth depend on! To study the nature, and causes and signs of bodily diseases, and their several remedies, and never study the disea­ses of your own souls, nor the preci­ous remedy which Mercy hath provided you. To cure the sicknesses of other mens bodies; and never feel a stony, proud or sensual heart, nor use any care and indu­stry for the cure! To know the matters of all Arts and sciences, to be able to dis­course of them all to the admiration of the hearers, is but an aggravation of thy lamentable folly, if thou be all this while a stranger to thy self, and that because thou art mindless of thy souls condition. You would but laugh at such a Learned fool that knew not how to dress himself, or eat or drink or go, and yet could talk of the profoundest speculations in Metaphysicks or other sciences. It is more necessary to know your selves, your sin, your duty, your hopes, your dangers, then to know how to eat, or drink, or cloath your selves. Alas, it is a pittifull kind of knowledge, that will not keep you out of Hell; and a fool­ish wisdom that teacheth you not to save your souls. Per veram scientiam itur ad disciplinam; per disciplin [...]m ad bonitatem; per [Page 135] bonitatem ad beattiudinem, saith Hugo. Till you know your selves, the rest of your knowledge is but a confused dream: When you know the thing, you know not the end, and use and worth of it. Self-knowledge will direct you in all your studies, and still imploy you on that which is necessary, and will do you good, when others are studying but unprofitable impertinent things; and indeed are but [proud, knowing nothing (when they seem to excell in knowledge) but d [...]ting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, that take gain for godliness,] 1 Tim. 6.4, 5. Self-knowledge will help you in all your stu­dies, to know, Quo ordine, quo studio, quo fine unumquod (que) scire oporteat. Quo ordine; ut illud prius, quod maturius movet ad sa­lutem: Quo studio; ut illud ardentius, quod vehementius ad amorem: Quo fine; ut non ad inanem gloriam & ostentationem, sed ad tuam & aliorum salutem] saith Ber­nard. You will know in what order, with what study, and to what end every thing should be known: In what order, that that may go first, that most promoteth our salva­tion: with what study or desire; that we [Page 136] may know that most ardently, which most ve­hemently provoketh Love: To what end; that it be not for vain glory and ostentation, but for your own and other mens salvation.]

And as it is our selves and our own af­fairs that are nearest to us, and therefore first in order to be known; so it is our selves that we have a special charge of, and that we are most obliged to study and to know, and it is our own condition and soul-affairs that most concern us. Though Sun and Moon, and earth, be not little things in themselves; yet the knowledge of them is a small in­considerable matter to thee in com­parison of the knowledge of thy self. The words even of Seneca are so pun­gent on this subject, that I shall recite some of them to shame those professed Christi­ans that are so much short of a heathen. [Quid ad virtutem viam sternit syllaba­rum enarratio, verborum diligentia, & fa­bularum memoria, & versuum lex & modi­ficatio? Quid ex his metum demit, cupidi­tatem fraenat?] What furtherance to vertue is the enarration of syllables, the diligence of words, the remembring of fables, and the law and modification of Verses? What of these taketh away fear, and bridleth con­cupiscence? Metiri me Geometer docet [Page 137] latifundia: potius doceat quomodo metiar quantum homini satis sit: Docet quomodo nihil perdam ex finibus meis: at ego discere volo quomodo totum hilaris amittam. Scis rotunda metiri: si artifex es, metire hominis animum; dic quam magnus, dic quam pusillus sit. Scis quae recta sit linea: quid tibi prodest si quid in vita rectum sit ignoras?] The Geometrian teacheth me to measure spa­cious grounds: let him rather teach me to measure how much is sufficient for a man: He teacheth me how I may lose nothing of my possessions: But that which I would learn is, how I may lose all with a cheerfull mind. Thou canst measure rounds; if thou be an artist, measure the mind of man; tell me how great it is, or how little or low. Thou knowest a strait line: and what the better art thou if thou know not what is right or strait in thy own life?] Hoc scire quid proderit, ut solicitus sim, quum Satur­nus & Mars è contrario stabunt? — Illa liberalium artium consectatio molestos, intempestivos, verbosos, sibi placentes facit, & ideo non discentes necessaria, quia super-vacua didicerunt] [What good will it do me, that I should be solicitous to know when Saturn and Mars will stand in oppositi­on?—This diligent study of the liberal [Page 138] arts, doth make men troublesome, unseaso­nable, wordy, self-pleasing, and such as there­fore learn not things necessary, because they have learned things superfluous.]

When our nearer greater works are done, then those that are more distant will be seasonable, and usefull, and excellent in their proper places. When men understand the state and affairs of their souls, and have made sure of their everlasting happiness, they may then seasonably and wisely ma­nage Political and Oeconomical affairs, and prudently order and prosecute their tem­poral concernments: when they first seek the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, subordinate things may be seasonably con­sidered. But for a man to be taken up about matters of Law, or Trade, or Plea­sure, when he mindeth not the matters of his salvation; and to study languages, Arts and Sciences, when he studieth not how to escape damnation, is not to be Learned, but to dote; nor to be honourably or prudently employed, but to walk as a noctambulo, a man in a dream, and live besides the Rea­son of a man, as well as below the faith of a Christian: These seemingly wise and honourable worldlings, that labour not to know what state and relation they stand [Page 139] in towards God, and his Judgement, do live in a more pernicious distraction then he that is disputing in mood and figure while his house is burning over his head, or he that is learning to fiddle or dance, when he is assaulted by an enemy, or to be tryed for his life.

Even works of charity seem but absurd preposterous acts, in those that are not charitable to themselves. To be carefull to feed or cloath the bodies of the poor, and senseless of the nakedness & misery of your own souls, is an irrational distracted course of Mercy: As if a man should be diligent to cure another of a boyl, while he minds not the plague or leprosie upon himself: or should be busie to pull a thorn out of ano­thers finger, and senseless of a st [...]b thats gi­ven himself in the bowels or at the heart. To Love your self, and not your neighbour, is selfish, unsociable and uncharitable. To Love neither your neighbour nor your self, is inhumane: To Love your neighbour and not your self is preposterous, irrational, and scarcely possible. But to Love first your self (next God,) and then to Love your neigh­bour as your self, is regular, orderly, Christi­an Charity.

10. Consider also, that the Ignorance of [Page 140] your selves, doth much unfit you to be usefull unto others. If you are Magistrates, you will never be soundly faithfull against the sin of others, till you have felt how hurtfull it is to your selves. If you are Ministers, you will scarce ever be good at heart-search­ing work, till you have searcht your own: Nor will you know the deceitfulness of sin, and the turnings and windings of the crooked Serpent, till you have observed them in your selves: Nor will you have due compassion on the ignorant, impenitent, ungodly, unconverted, or on the tempted, weak, disconsolate souls, till you have learned rightly to be affected with sin and misery in your selves. If men see a Magi­strate punish offenders, or hear a Mini­ster reprove them, that is as bad or worse himself, they will but deride the Justice of the one, and reproofs of the other, as the acts or words of blind partiality and hy­pocrisie; and accoast you with a Medice cura teipsum, Physitian heal thy self: with a Loripidem rectus derideat, Aethiopem ab­bus, &c.—and a Primus jussa subi, &c. and a Qui alterum incusat probri, ipsum se intueri oportet] First sweep before your own door. Its ridiculous for the blind to reproach the pur-blind: Qua in aliis re­prehendis, [Page 141] in teipso maximè reprehende. Re­prehend that more in thy self, which thou reprehendest in another. The eye of the soul is not like the eye of the body, that can see other things, but not it self. There are two evils that Christ noteth in the reproofs of such as are unacquainted with theselves, in Math. 7.3, 4. Hypocrisie and Ʋnfitness to reprove. [Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brothers eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the moat out of thine eye, and behold, a beam is in thy own eye? Thou Hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the moat out of thy brothers eye.] Thy own vices do corrupt thy judgement, and cause thee to excuse the like in others, and to accuse the virtue that in others is the condemner of thy vice, and to repre­sent all as odious that is done by those that by their piety and reproofs are become odious to thy guilty and malicious soul. Dost thou hate a holy heavenly life, and art void of the love of God, and of his servants? Hast thou a carnal, dead, uncon­verted heart? art thou a presumptuous, careless, worldly wretch? Hast thou these [Page 142] beams in thy own eye? and art thou fit to quarrel with others that are better then thy self, about a Ceremony or a Holy day, or a circumstance of Church-Government or Worship, or a doubtfull controverted opinion? and to be pulling these motes out of thy Brothers eye? (Yea, rather wouldst pull out his eyes, to get out the mote:) First get an illuminated mind; and a renewed san­ctified heart; be acquainted with the Love of God, and of his Image; and cast out the beam of infidelity, ungodliness, world­liness, sensuality, malice and hypocrisie, from thine own eye; and then come and play the Oculist with thy brother, and help to cure him of his lesser involuntary errors and infirmities. Till then the beam of thy sensuality and impiety will make thee a ve­ry incompetent Judge, of the mote of a different opinion in thy brother. Every word that thou speakest in condemnation of thy brother, for his opinion or infirmity, is a dou­ble condemnation of thy self for thy ungodly, fleshly life. And if thou wilt needs have judgement to begin at the house of God, for the failings of his sincere and faithfull ser­vants, it may remember thee to thy terror what the end of them shall be that obey not the Gospel of God: And if you will con­demn [Page 143] the righteous for their lamented weaknesses, where think you the ungodly and the sinner shall appear? 1 Pet. 4.17, 18.

11. If you begin not at your selves, you can make no progress to a just and edifying knowledge of extrinsick things. Mans self is the Alphabet or Primer of his learning. Non pervenitur ad summa nisi per inferiora. You cannot come to the top of the stairs, [...]f you begin not at the bottom. Frustra cor­ [...]dis oculum erigit ad videndum Deum, qui [...]ondum idoneus est ad videndum scipsum: Prius enim est ut cognoscas invisibilia spiritus tui, quàm possis esse idoneus [...] cognoscendum invisibilia Dei; & si non potes te cognoscere, non praesumas appre­ [...]endere ea quae sunt supra te (inquit. Hug. de Anim.) i. e. [In vain doth he lift up his heart to see God, that is yet unfit to see himself. For thou must first know the invisible things of thy own spirit, be­fore thou canst be fit to know the invisible things of God. And if thou canst not know thy self, presume not to know the things that are above thy self.] You cannot see the face which it representeth, if you will not look upon the glass which represen­teth it. God is not visible, but appeareth to [Page 144] us in his creatures; and especially in [...] selves. And if we know not our selves, w [...] cannot know God in our selves. [Praecipu [...] & principale est speculum ad videndum De­um animus rationalis intuens scipsum (in [...] Hug.) The principal glass for the beholdin [...] of God, is the Resonable soul beholding it self

And you will make but an unhappy pro­gress in your study of the Works of God ▪ if you begin not with your selves. Yo [...] can know but little of the Works of Nature ▪ till you know your own nature: And you can know as little of the Works of Grace ▪ till self-acquaintance help you to know th [...] nature and danger of those diseases that Grace must cure. The unhappy error [...] presumptuous students, about their ow [...] hearts, misleadeth and perverteth them in the whole course of their studies; that by all, they do but profit in misapplied noti­ons and self-deceit. Its a lamentable fight to see a man turning over Fathers and Councils, and diligently studying words and notions, that is himself in the gall of bit­terness and bond of iniquity, and never knew it, nor studieth the cure. And its a pit­tifull thing to see such in a Pulpit, teaching the people to know the mysteries of salva­tion, [Page 145] that know not, nor ever laboured to know, what sins are predominant in their own hearts and lives; or Whether they stand before God in a justified or a con­demned state! To hear a poor unsanctified man, as boldly treating of the mysteries of sanctification, as if he had felt them in him­self: and a man that is condemned already, and stayeth but a while till the stroke of death, for final execution, to treat as calm­ly of judgement and damnation, as if he were out of danger; and exhorting others to escape the misery which he is in him­self, and never dreameth of it! This shew­eth how sad a thing it is for men to he ignorant of themselves. To see men run out into damnable and dangerous errors on each hand, some into the proud self-conceitedness of the Phanaticks, Enthusi­asts and Libertines, and some into contempt and scorn of holiness, and every one con­fident even to rage in his own distracti­ons; this doth but shew us, whither men will go, that are unacquainted with themselves.

This also maketh us so troubled with our auditors, that when they would learn the truth that should convert and save them, are carping and quarrelling with us, and [Page 146] hear us as the Pharisees and Herodians heard Christ, to catch him in his words, Mark. 12.13. As if a dying man in a consumption, imagining that he is well▪ should go to the Physicion to make a jeast of him, or seek to ruine him for telling him that he is sick. And how frowardly do they reject the wisest counsel, and cast the medicine with unthankfull indignation into the face of the Physicion? And they must tell us themselves what medicine must be given them, what doctrine, and what administrations they must have. But self-acquaintance would teach them to under­stand that of Augustine [Novit medicus quid salutiferum, quidve contrarium petat aegrotus. Aegroti estis, nolite ergo dictare quae vobis medicamnia velit opponere.]

Yea, they that will not be directed or heal­ed by us, will blame us if others be not heal­ed, and hit the Minister in the teeth with the errors and faults of his unteachable hearers. Though we do our best in season and out of season, and they cannot tell us what we have neglected on our part that was like to do the cure (though I confess we are too often negligent:) and though we succeed to the conversion of many others; yet must we be reproached with the disobedience of the [Page 147] impenitent! as if it were not grief enough to us, to have our labours frustrate, and see them obstinate in their sin and misery, but we must also be blamed or derided for our calamity!

Fecerit & postquam quicquid jubet ipsa me­dendi
Norma, nisi valeat subito (que) revixerit aeger,
Murmurat insipiens vulgus, linguaq, lo­quaci,
Et loquitur de te convitia, talia jactans,
Hen mihi, quam stultum est medicorum cre­dere nugis!

As if they knew not the power of the disease; and what a wonder of mercy it is that any and so many are recovered.

Non est in medico semper reveletur ut aeger;
Interdum docta plus valet arte malum.

None would die if Physicions could cure all: And none would perish if Ministers could save all. Rhetor non semper persua­debit, nec medicus semper sanabat, saith the Philosopher. They cast away the me­dicine, and then blame the Physicion. Cru­delem vel infalicem medicum intemeperans [Page 148] eger facit. An intemperate unruly patient maketh the Physition seem cruel or unsuc­cesfull.

12. Lastly consider but how many, how great and necessary things concerning your selves you have to know, and it will shew you how needfull it is to make this the first of your studies. To know what you are as men; with what faculties you are en­dowed, and to what use; for what end you live; in what Relation you stand to God and to your fellow creatures; what duties you owe; what sin is in your hearts; and what hath been by commission and omission in your lives; what humiliation, contrition and repentance you have for that sin; Whether you have truly entertained an offered Christ; and are renewed and san­ctified by his spirit; and unreservedly de­voted to God, and resolved to be entire­ly his: Whether you Love him above all, and your neighbours as your selves; Whe­ther you are Justified and have forgiveness of all your sins; Whether you can bear afflictions from the hand, or for the sake of Christ, even to the forsaking of all the world for the hopes of the heavenly ever­lasting treasure; how you perform the dai­ly works of your relations and callings; [Page 149] Whether you are ready to die, and are safe from the danger of damnation. O did you but know how it concerneth you to get all these questions well resolved, you would find more matter for your studies in your selves, then in many volumes. You would then perceive that the matters of your own hearts and lives, are not so light­ly and carelesly to be past over, as they or­dinarily be by drowsie sinners: To consi­der but Quid, Quis, Qualis sis; Quid in natura, Quis in persona, Qualis in vita (ut Bern.) would find you no small labour. And it would redound (saith another) in utilitatem sui, charitatem proximi, con­temptum mundi, amorem Dei: to our own profit, charity to our neighbour, the contempt of the world, and the love of God.

If you have but many & weighty businesses to think on in the world, you are so taken up with care, that you cannot turn away your thoughts. And yet do you find no work at home, where you have such a world of things to think on, and such as of all the matters in the world, do nearliest concern you?

Having shewed you so much Reason for this duty, let me now take leave to invite you all, to the serious study of your selves. It is a duty past all controversie agreed on by heathens as well as Christians, and urged by them in the generall, though many of the particulars to be knowne are beyond their light: It brutifyeth man to be ignorant of himself. Man that is in honour and understandeth not (himself especially) is as the beasts that perish. Psal. 49.20. saith Boetius, [Humana natura infra bestias re­digitur, si se nosse desierit: Nam caeteris animantibus sese ignorare natura est; homini­bus vitio venit] Its worse then beastly to be ignorant of our selves, it being a vice in us, which is nature in them.

Come home you wandering self-ne­glecting souls; Lose not your selves in a wilderness or tumult of impertinent, vaine, distracting things; your work is neerer you; The country that you should first survey and travaile, is within you; from which you must pass to that above you: when by losing your selves in this without you, you will find your selves before you are aware, in that below you. And then [Page 151] (as Gregory speakes) he that was stultus in culpa, a foole in sining, will be sapiens in poena, wise in suffering! you shall then have time enough to review your lives, and such constraining help to know your selves, as you cannot resist. O that you would know but a little of that now, that then you must elss know in that overwhelming evidence which will everlastingly confound you! And that you would now thinke of that for a timely cure, which els must be thought of endlesly in despair. Come home then, and see what work is there. Let the eyes of fooles be in the corners of the earth! Leave it to men besides themselves, to live as without themselves, and to be still from home, and waste that time in other busi­ness, that was given them to prepare for life eternall. [Laudabilior est animus, cui nota est infirmitas propria, quam qui ea non per­specta, mania mūdi, vias syderum, fundamenta terrarum, & fastigia caelorum scrutatur] inquit August. [The soule is more laudable that knowes its own infirmity, then he that without discerning this doth search after the compass of the world, the courses of the starres, the foundations of the earth, and the heights of the heavens.] Dost thou delight in the mysteryes of nature? consider well [Page 152] the mysteryes of thy own. Mirantur aliqui altiudines montium, ingentes fluctus mari [...], altissimos lapsus fluminum, & Oceani [...] ­bitum, & gyros syderum, & relinquunt seip­sos, nec mirantur]. saith Augustine [some men admeire the heights of mountaines, the huge waves of the sea, the great falls of the rivers, the compass of the Ocean and the circuit of the stars, and they passe by them themseves without admiration] The com­pendium of all that thou studyest without thee, is neer thee, even within thee, thy self being the epitome of the world. If either necessiry or duty, nature or grace, reason or faith, internall inducements, ex­ternal repulses, or eternall attractives and motives, might determine of the subject of your studies and contemplations, you would call home your lost distracted thoughts, and employ them more on your­selves and God.

But before I urge this duty further, I must prevent the misapplication of some troubled soules; I must confess it is a grievous thing for a guilty soul to judge it self, and see its own deformity and danger: And I observe many troubled humbled [Page 153] soules, especially where melancholy much prevailes, are exceeding prone to abuse this duty, by excess and by misdoing it: Though wandering minds must be called home, we must not run into the other extreame, and shut up our selves, and wholly dwell on the motions of our owne distempered hearts: Though stragling thoughts must be turned inward, and our hearts must be watched, and not neglected; yet must we not be alwayes poreing on our selves, and neglect the rest of our intellectual converse: To look too long on the running of a stream will make our eyes misjudge of what we after look on, as if all things had the same kind of motion: To look too long on the turning of a wheele, will make us vertiginous, as if all turnd round. And to pore too long on the disordered motions, the confused thoughts, the wants, the passions of our diseased minds, will but molest us, and cast us into greater disquiet and confusion. The words of Anselme no­tably express the streights that Christians are here put to [O nimis gravis angustia, si me inspicio, non tolero meipsum: si non inspicio, nescio meipsum: si me considero, terret me facies mea: si me non considero, fallit me damnaetio mea; si me video, horror [Page 154] est intolerabilis: si non video, mors est i [...]e [...] ­tabilis.] [O grievous streight! If I look [...] my self, I cannot endure my self: if I look not into my self I cannot know my self. If I consider my self, my own face affrighteth me: if I consider not my self, my damnation deceiveth me: If I see my self, the horror is intolerable▪ if I see not my self, death is unavoidable.]

In this streight we must be carefull to a­void both extreames; and nether neglect the study of our selves, nor yet exceed in put­ing on our selves. To be carelesly ignorant of our selves, is to undoe our selves for ever: To be too much about our selves, is to dis­quiet rather then to edyfie our selves; and to turne a great and necessary duty into a great unnecessary trouble.

Consider, 1. that we have many other mat­ters of great importance to study and know when we know our selves. We must chiefly study God himself; and all the Books of Scripture, Nature and Governing provi­dence which make him known. What abun­dance of great and excellent Truths, have we in all these to study. What time, what industrie is necessary to understand them? And should we lay out all this time about our own hearts and actions, which is but one part of our study. What sinful omis­ [...]ons [Page 155] should we be guilty of in the ne­ [...]ecting of all these! It is indeed but the [...]rying of our talent of understanding, [...] confine it to so narrow a compass as our [...]lves, and to omit the study of God, and [...]is word and workes, which are all with [...]elight and diligence to be studyed.

We have also Christ and his Gospell myste­ [...]ies and benefits to study. We have the [...]hurches case, its dangers, sufferings, and [...]eliverances to study: We have the state of [...]ur neghbours and brethren to consider of: The mercyes, and dangers, and sufferings both of [...]heir soules and bodyes: we have our enemies to thinke of with due compassion: and our duty to all these.

2. And as it is negligence and omission to be all at home, and pass by so great a part of duty; so is it a double frustration of our labour, and will make even this study of ourselves to be in vaine. 1. We cannot come by all our study to the true know­ledge of our selves, unless we also study other things besides our selves. For we are Related to God, as his creatures, as his Own, as his subjects and as his dependant children, as his Redeemed, and his sanctifyed ones, (or such as should be such) And if we know not God as Creatour, Redeemer [Page 156] and Sanctifyer; as our Owner, Ruler and [...]nefactor; and know not what his creation Redemption, sanctification, his Title Gover [...]ment and Benefits meane, it is not possi [...] that we should know our selves. Mutual [...]lations must be known together, or neither [...] be known.

2. And if we could know our selves, an [...] know no more, it were but to know No­thing, and lose that knowledge. For this [...] but the enterance into wisdome, and th [...] meanes and way to higher knowledge. Th [...] learning of our Alphabet or Primer is lost▪ if we learn no further; you are therefore [...] study and know your selves that you may advance to the knowledge of Christ and his grace, and be acquainted wich the Re­medie of all that you find amiss at home: and that by Christ you may be brought unto the Father, and know God as your happiness and rest; you are not your own ultimate ends, and therefore must goe further in your studyes then yourselves.

3. We shall never attaine to Rectitude or solid comfort and content, unless our studyes goe further then ourselves. For we are not the Rule to our selves, but crooked lines! and cannot know what is right and wrong, if we study not the Rule as well as [Page 157] [...]ur selves. And alas, we are diseased, mise­rable sinners. And to be alwayes looking on so sad a spectacle, can bring no peace or comfort to the mind. To be still look­ing on the sore, and hearing only the cry of conscience, will be but a foretaste of Hell. When we would be humbled and have mat­ter of lamentation, we must look homeward, where the troubling thorns and nettles of corruption grow. But if we would be com­forted and lift up, we must look higher, to Christ and to his promises, and to everla­sting life: our garden beareth no flowers or fruits that are so cordial.

This much I have spoke by way of Cau­tion, 1. That you may not think I am driving you into the extream of solitude, and confining or imprisoning you at home. 2. Because some scarce know how to avoid a fault, without running into another on the other side the way: nor how to under­stand the right use of a doctrine, but are turning it into an abuse, and building sin up­on the foundation of righteousness.

Two sorts of persons have great need of this caution, that they dwell not too much on themselves. One is poor Melancholy people that can think of almost nothing else: Their distemper disposeth them to be al­wayes [Page 158] poring on themselves, and fir [...] their thoughts on their sin and misery and searching into all their own miser [...] ages, and making them worse then inde [...] they are: You cannot call off their though [...] from continual self-condemning, and [...] on their own misdoings and unhappiness ▪ They have a God, a Christ, a heaven, a trea­sure of precious promises to meditate on [...] and they cannot hold their thoughts to these, (unless as they aggravate their sin and sorrows,) but live as if they had nothing to think on but themselves; and were made to be their own tormentors: day and night even when they should la­bour, and when they should sleep, they are busie in a fruitless vexation of themselves▪ These poor afflicted souls have need to be called from the excessive study of them­selves.

Another sort is, those Christians that are wholly taken up in enquiring whether they have saving grace or not; while they neglect that exercise of their grace, in do­ing all the good they can to others, and following on the way of faithfull duty, which might do more to their assurance, then solitary tryals.

The former sort by overdoing in this one [Page 159] [...]art of their work, disable themselves to [...]ll the rest. They tire and distract their [...]inds, and raise such fears as hinder their [...]nderstandings, and cast their thoughts [...]nto such confusion, that they quite lose [...]he command of them, and cannot gather [...]hem up for any holy work: Yea while [...]hey study nothing but themselves, they [...]se even the knowledge of themselves: [...]hey gaze so long upon their faults and [...]ants, till they can see nothing else; and [...]now no apprehenosins but dark and sad; [...]nd wilfully unlearn the language of thanks­ [...]iving and praise; and the burden of all [...]heir thoughts and speeches, is, Miserable [...]nd Ʋndone: as if there were for them [...]o mercy, no help, no hope, but they were ut­ [...]rly forsaken and cast off by God.

The other sort, do so exceed in the mea­sure of that self-love, which in it self is [...]ood, that they neglect the study of the Love of God; And are still thinking what [...]hey are and have been; when they should [...]onsider what they must be. They spend [...]o much time in trying their foundation, that [...]hey can make but little progress in the [...]uilding. They are lik Musicians that will [...]pend all the day in setting Instruments in [...]ne; Or like a Mower that spends most [Page 160] of his time in whetting. They are all [...] preparing their tools while they should [...] working! And putting on their [...] and preparing their weapons, when th [...] should be fighting: And enquiring which [...] the way, while they should be travelli [...] ▪ They leave undone too much of their [...] without doors while they confine themsel [...] to that within: And that within goes on [...] worse, because they neglect that with [...] doors, which should further it. When th [...] should instruct the ignorant, exhort [...] obstinate, confirm the weak, or co [...]fort the afflicted, they are complaining [...] their own ignorance, obstinacy, weakne [...] or affliction; and help not others bec [...] they feel such need of help themselves▪ As if they were like beggars, that had no [...]thing to give, but must live by asking and receiving: They understand not that its [...] of the mysteries of godliness, that teaching others doth inform themselves, and the Light which they bring in for others, will serve themselves to work by; and that repro­ving others doth correct themselves: and ex­horting others doth prevail with themselves ▪ and perswading the obstinate wills of others▪ doth tend to bend and resolve their [...] & that comforting others doth tend to [...] [Page 161] and raise themselves: Their own spirits may be a little revived, by the very smell of the Cordials they prepare for others. In this case, Giving is both Begging and Receiving. Doing good is not the least effectual kind of prayer: And that we may be so imployed, is not the smallest mercy. Many a one hath thus grown rich by giving: Many a one hath convinced himself by confuting his own objections from another: And many a one hath raised and comforted himself, by offe­ring comfort to others that have the same infirmities; and have banished their own [...]cessive doubts and fears, by frequent com­passionate answering the same in others whose sincerity they have less suspected then their own.

None thrive more then they that grow in the Sun shine of Gods blessing: And God blesseth those most that are most faithfull in his work: And the work of Love ▪ is the work of God. To do good, is to be most like him: And they that are most like him, do best please him. In subordination to Christ, in whom we are accepted, we must by his spirit be made thus acceptable in our selves: We must be amiable if we will be loved. And those that God loveth best, and is most pleas [...] with, are like to receive most p [...]en­ [...]ously from his Love. It is necessary [Page 162] therefore to our own safety, and holiness, and consolation, that we look much abroad at the necessities of others, and study our bre­thren, and the Church of God, as well as our selves: That we look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others, Phil. 2.4.

There may be somewhat of inordinate selfishness, even about our souls: And sin­full selfishness is alwayes a losing course. As he that will be a self-saver in point of estate, or honour, or life, taketh the ready way to lose them (Mat. 16.15.) so he that for the saving of his soul, will confine all his care and charity to his own soul, taketh not the way indeed to save it. We keep not our selves; We quicken not; We comfort not; We save not our selves; but only as agents under Christ, manuring the land, and sowing the seed, to which he alone can give the blessing: It is not therefore our inordinate self-studying that will do it: With all our care, without his blessing, we can­not add one cubit to the stature of our graces: Therefore it must needs be our safest course, to be as carefull and faithfull as we can in duty, and lay out most of our study to please him; and then if we come not to assurance of his love, or discern not his image and grace upon us, ye [...] we [Page 163] must trust him with our souls, and leave the rest to his Care and Goodness, that hath undertaken that none shall be losers by him, nor be ashamed or frustrate of their hopes, that wait upon him, and obey him: Let us commit the keeping of our souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithfull Creator, 1 Pet. 4.19. As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their Masters—so our eyes (in a way of duty) must wait upon the Lord our God, till he have mercy upon us, Psal. 123.1, 2. And though we grow weary of crying, and our throat be dryed, and our eyes fail while we wait for God, (Psal. 69.3.) yet our hope is only in him, and therefore we must continue to wait upon him, Psal. 39.7. And they that wait for him shall not be ashamed, Isa. 49.23.

It is not the pretended necessity of one work, that will excuse him that hath many as necessary to do: Especially when they are conjunct in nature and necessity, and must go together, to attain their end. Concerning God, as we may well say that we must Love and serve him only, and none but him, because we must Love nothing but for his sake, and as a means to him the End of all: and so while it is God in all things that we Love, we are more pro­perly [Page 164] said to Love God then the Creature by that act, because he is the Ultimate first intnded end, and principal object of that Love; And as the means, as a means, hath its essence in its relation to the End; so the Love of the means, as such, is accordingly specified: And so we may say of our study and Knowledge of God, that nothing but God is to be studied or known: because it is God in the creature that must be studi­ed: It is a defective Similitude (as all are) to say, [As it is the face that we behold the glass for:] For God is more in the crea­ture then the face in the glass. But though all the means be united in the End, yet are they various among themselves. And there­fore though we must study, know and Love nothing but God; yet must we study, know and Love many things besides our selves: The means that are many, must all be thought on. More strings must be touch­ed then one (how near soever) if we will have any Musick. More Letters must be learned than [I,] or we shall never learn to read.

All men will confess that to confine our charity to our selves, and to do good to no others, is unlike a Christian: To deny to feed and clothe our Brother in his need, [Page 165] is to deny it unto Christ: And it will be no excuse, if we were able, to say, I laid it out upon my self. And the objects of our charity must be the objects of our thoughts and care: And it will not suffice for our excuse, to say, [I was taken up at home; I had a miserable soul of my own to think on.]

And yet if these self-studying souls, that confine almost all their thoughts unto themselves, would but seek after God in themselves, and see his grace, and benefits, it were the better: But poor souls, in the darkness of temptation, they overlook their God; and most of their study of them­selves, is to see Satan and his workings in themselves: To find as much of his image as they can, in the deformities or infirmities of their souls; but the image of God they overlook, and hardly will acknowledge. And so, as noble objects raise the soul, and amiable objects kindle love, and comforta­ble objects fill it with delight; and God, who is all in One perfection, doth elevate and perfect it, and make it happy; so inferiour objects do depress it; and ugly loathsome objects fill it with distaste and loathing; and sad and mournfull objects turn it into grief; And therefore to be still looking on our miseries, and deformities, must needs turn [Page 166] calamity and wo into the temperament and complexion of the soul.

This much I thought needfull to be spo­ken here to prevent misunderstanding and misapplication: that while I am pressing you to study and know your selves, I may not encourage any in extreams, nor tempt them to make an ill use of so great and ne­cessary a doctrine: And indeed the obser­vation of the sad calamity of many poor drooping afflicted souls, that are still poreing excessively on their own hearts, commanded me not to overpass this caution. And yet when I have done it, I am afraid lest those in the contrary extream, will take encouragement to neglect themselves, by my reprehensions of those that are so unlike them.

And therefore I must add, to save them from deceit; 1. That it is but a very few that are faulty in overstudying themselves, in comparison of the many thousands that err on the other hand in the careless neg­lecting of themselves. 2. And that it is symptomatically and effectively far more dangerous, to study your selves too little, then too much. Though it be a fault here to exceed, yet it is for the most part a sign of an honest heart to be much at home, [Page 167] and a sign of an Hypocrite to be little at home and much abroad. Sincerity maketh men censurers of themselves. For it mak­eth them more impartial, and willing to know the truth of their condition: It cu­reth them of that folly that before made them think that presumption shall deliver them, and that they shall be Justified by believing promises of their own, though con­trary to the word of God; yea by believing the promises of the Devil, and calling this a Faith in Christ: They are awakened from that sleep in which they dreamed that wink­ing would save them from the stroke of Ju­stice, and that a strong conceit that they shall not be damned, will deliver them from damnation; and that they are safe from Hell if they can but believe that there is no Hell, or can but forget it, or escape the fears of it. These are the pernicious Conclusions of the ungodly, discerna­ble in their lives, and intimated in their presumptuous reasonings, though too gross to be openly and expresly owned: And therefore they are undisposed to any im­partial acquaintance with themselves.

But grace recovereth men from this di­straction; and makes them know that the Judgement of God will not follow the con­ceits [Page 168] of men; and that the knowledge of their disease is necessary to their cure; and the knowledge of their danger is necessary to the prevention; and that its the greatest madness to go on to Hell, for fear of know­ing that we are in the way; and to refuse to know it, for fear of being troubled at the news.

And an upright soul is so far fallen out with sin, that he taketh it seriously for his enemy; and therefore is willing to discover it in order to its destruction; and willing to search after it in order to a discovery.

And he hath in him some measure of the heavenly illumination, which maketh him a child of light, and disposeth him to love the light, and therefore cometh to it that his deeds may be made manifest, Joh. 3.21. Hypocrites are quick-sighted in discove­ring infirmities of others; but at home they shut the windows, and draw the curtains, that they may not be disturbed or frighte­ned in their sin; Thieves and sleepers choose not light: Darkness suits the works of darkness. It is a good sign when a man dare see his own face in the glass of Gods word; and when he dare hear his conscience speak. I have ever observed it in the most sincere-hearted Christians, that their eye is [Page 169] more upon their own hearts and lives, than [...]pon others: and I have still observed [...]he most unsound professors to be least cen­ [...]orious and regardfull of themselves, and [...]ardly drawn to converse at home, and to [...]ass an impartial judgement on themselves.

HEnce therefore you may be inform­ed of the reason of many other dif­ [...]erences between sincere Believers and the [...]ngodly. As 1. Why it is that the sincere [...]re so ready to discourse about matters of [...]he heart; and that they so much relish [...]ch discourse; and that they have so much [...] say when you come to such a subject. [...]t is because they know themselves in some [...]ood measure. They have studied, and [...]re acquainted with the Heart; And there­ [...]ore can talk the more sensibly of what is [...]ontained in a book which they have so [...]ften read, and are so conversant in. [...]alk with them about the matters [...]f the world, and perhaps you may [...]ind them more simple and ignorant then many of their neighbours; But when you [...]alk about the Corruptions of the heart, [...]nd the secret workings of them; the mat­ [...]er, and order, and government of the [Page 170] thoughts, and affections, and passions; [...] wants and weaknesses of believers; the n [...]ture and workings of inward temptation [...] the wayes of grace, and of the exercise [...] each grace; the motions and operatio [...] of the spirit upon the heart; the breathi [...] of Love and desire after God; the a [...]dresses of the soul to Christ by fait [...] and dependance on him, and receivi [...] from him; about these secret matters [...] the Heart, he is usually more able in d [...]course, then many learned men that are [...] sanctified.

And hence it is that upright self-obs [...]ving souls are so full in prayer, and [...] to pour out their hearts so enlargedly [...]fore the Lord, in confessing their sins, [...] petitioning for grace, and opening th [...] necessities, and thanking God for spirit [...] mercies! Some that are themselves acquai [...]ed with themselves, and the workings [...] grace, despise all this, and say, It is but [...] ability to speak of the things which they [...] most used to. I doubt not but meer ac [...]quired abilities and custom may advan [...] some hypocrites, to pray in the languag [...] of experienced Christians. And I doubt no [...] but natural impediments, and want of use, an [...] of right education, may cause many to [...] [Page 171] [...]onvenient expressions, that have true de­ [...]res. But the question is, from whence it [...]mes to pass, that so great a number of [...]hose that are most carefull and diligent [...]or their souls, are so full in holy conference [...]d prayer, when very few others that ex­ [...]ll them in learning and natural parts, [...]ave any such ability? And doubtless the [...]hief reason is, that the care and study of [...]hese Christians, hath been most about their [...]piritual estate; And that which they set [...]heir hearts upon, they use their tongues [...]pon: Generally it cannot be imagined, why they should use themselves to those [...]tudies and exercises which procure those [...]bilities, but that they highlyest esteem, [...]nd most seriously regard the matters that concern their salvation, which are the sub­ [...]ect. I doubt not but God bestoweth his gifts upon men in the use of means, and that it is partly use that maketh men able and ready in these services of God: But what reason can be given, why one part of men use themselves to such imployments, and another part are unable through dis­use, but that some do set their hearts upon it, and make it their business to know them­selves, their sins and wants and seek relief, when by the others all this is neglected. [Page 172] Some hypocrites may be moved by lower ends, both in this and in other duties of Religion; but that's no rule for our judge­ing of the intentions of the generality, or of any that are sincere. As a man that hath lived in the East or West Indies, is [...] to discourse of the places and people which he hath seen, and perhaps another by a Map or historie may say somewhat of the same subject, though less distinctly and sensibly; but others can say nothing of it: so a man of holy experience in the mysteries of sanctification, that is much conversant at home, and acquainted with his own heart, is able (if other helps con­cur) to speak what he feels, to God and man, and from his particular observa­tion and experience, to frame his prayers and spiritual conference; and an hypocri [...] from Reading and common observation, may do something affectedly that's like it: but careless self-neglecting worldlings are usually dumb about such matters, and hear you as they do men of another Coun­trey, that talk in a language which they do not understand, or at least cannot make them any answer in.

But if any of you will needs think more basely and maliciously, of the cause of ho­ly [Page 173] prayer and conference in believers, let us leave them for the present (to the Justifi­cation of him that gave them the spirit of supplication which you reproach,) and let us only enquire what is the Reason that men that can discourse as hansomely as others, about worldly matters, have no­thing to say (beyond a few cold affected words, which they have learnt by rote) either to God or man, about the matters of the soul, the methods of the spirit, the workings of a truly penitent heart, or the elevations of faith, and the pantings of desire after God. Why are you dumb when you should speak this language, and fre­quently and delightfully speak it? Is it be­cause your Reason is lower then those mens that do speak it, whom you despise? and that you are naturally near kin to ideots? No; you are wise enough to do evil: You can talk of your trades, your honours or employments, your acquaintance and corre­spondencies all the day long; You are more wordy about these little things, then the Preachers themselves that you count most [...]edious are about the greatest. You are [...]uch longer discoursing of your delusory [...]oyes, then the Lovers of God, whose souls [...]ong after him, are in those Prayers, which [Page 174] trouble you with their length: Many a time have I been forced to hear your dream­ing incoherent dotage: how copious you are in words that signifie no greater mat­ters then flesh pleasing, or fancifull honour [...] and accomodations; I had almost said, the [...] chaff, or straw or dirt. One may he [...] you from morning to night, from day to day, discoursing in variety of company, on various subjects, with freedom and plausible ingenuity; And when all is se [...] together, it is but a hodge podge of earth and flesh and windy vanity, a frothy puddle. A [...] the ridiculous Orator, Magno Conatu & hiatu nihil dicitis: You strein and gap [...] an hour or a day together to say nothing ▪ set all the words of a day together, and per­use them at night, and see what they are worth: There's little higher then visible materials, (that I say not, then the dunghil or your shadows,) then meat and drink, and play and complement, then hou­ses, or lands, or domineering affections o [...] actions, in many hours or days discourse. I think of you sometime, when I see how ingeniously and busily children do make up their babies of clouts, and how seriously they talk about them, and how every [...] and clout is matter of employment and dis­ [...]ourse, [Page 175] and how highly they value them, and [...]ow many dayes they can unweariedly [...]pend about them. Pardon my compari­ [...]on: If you repent not of your discourses [...]nd imployments more then they, and do not one day call your selves far worse fools then [...]hem, then let me be stigmatized with the most contumelious brand of folly.

It is not then your want of Natural fa­culties and parts that makes you mute in the matters of God and your salvation, when men of meaner naturals then you do speak of those things with the greatest free­dom and delight.

And sure it is not for want of an inge­ [...]nous education: As you would take it ill to be thought below them in natural endow­ments, so much more in those acquisitions and furniture of the mind, which comes by breeding and due culture of your Natu­rals. You would disdain in these to be com­pared with many poor rusticks and mecha­nicks, that are almost as fluent in speaking of the great things of immortality, as you are in talking of your transient occurrences, your sublunary felicities, and the provisions of your Appetites and your Skins. What then can be the cause of this dumb disease, but that you are unacquainted with your [Page 176] selves? and as you have not a New-birth, and a Divine Nature, and the Spirit of Christ, to be either the spring and princi­ple or the Matter of your discourse; so you have not the due knowledge of your sin and misery, which should teach you the lan­guage of serious Penitents, before you have the language of justified Believers.

If you say again, It is because we have not been used to this kind of speech. I an­swer, And whence is it that you have not been used to it? If you had know the Greatness and Goodness of the Lord, as sen­sibly as they, would not you have used to Pray to him and speak of him as well as they? If you had known and considered your sin, and wants, and miseries, or dangers, as well as they, would you not have been used to beg mercy, pardon and relief, and to complain of your distress as much as they? If you did as highly value the matters of Eternal consequence as they do, and laid them to heart as seriously as they, would not your minds and hearts have appeared in your speeches, and made you use your selves to prayer and holy conference as well as others?

If you say, that many have that within them which they are not able to express, or [Page 177] which they think not meet to open unto other, I answer.

1. As to Ability, its true of those that have the Impediments of some Natural disability, or excessive bashfulness, Melan­choly or the like disease; and of those that are so lately converted, that they have not had time to learne and use themselves to a holy language: But what's this to them that are of as good naturall parts and free elocution as other men, and suppose them­selves to have bin true Christians long?

2. And as to the point of Prudence which is pleaded for this silence, it is so much against Nature, and so much against the word of God, that there is no roome at all for this pretence, unless it be for in­feriors or such as want an opportunity to speak to their superiours, or to strangers; or unless it be only for some particular omissions when the thing would be unsea­sonable.

Nature hath made the tongue the index of the mind: especially to express the mat­ters of most urgency and concernment. Do you keep silent ordinarily the matters which you highliest esteem? which you oftenest think of? which you take your life and hap­piness to consist in? and which you are deep­lyest [Page 178] affected with, and prefere before all other matters of the world? What a shamefull pretence is it, for those that are dumb to Prayer and holy conference, for want of any due sense of their condition, or Love to God, which should open their lips, to take on them it is for want of tongues or because their Prudence directeth them to silence? When they hold not their tongues about those mat­ters, which they must confess are ten thou­sand fold less regardable; they can discourss unwearyedly about their wealth, their sport, their friend, their honour, because they Love them; And if a man should here tell them, that the Heart is not to be opened or exercised by the tongue, they would thinke he knew not the naturall use of Heart or Tongue: And yet while they pre­tend to love God above all, they have nei­ther skill nor will to make expression of it; you strike them dumb when you turne the streame of conference that way; and you may almost as well bid them speak in a strange language, as Pray to God from the sense of their necessities, and yet they say, their Hearts are good.

Let the word of God be judge whether a Holy experienced Heart should hide it­self and not appeare in Prayer and holy [Page 179] conference by the tongue. 1 Thess. 5.17. Pray continually: Luk. 18.1. Christ spake a parable to this end, that men ought all­wayes to pray and not waxe faint. Phil. 4.6. Be carefull for nothing: but in every thing by Prayer, and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And How they must Pray, you may ga­ther from 2 Chron. 6.29. In case of dearth, Pestilence, blasting, mildew, locusts, cater­pilers, enemies, sicknesses or sores, [Then what prayer or supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all the people, when every one shall know his own sore, and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house, then heare thou from Heaven, &c.] I am not speaking of the Prescribed Prayers of the Church, nor denying the lawfullness of such in private. But if you have no words but what you say by rote, and pray not from the knowledge of your own particular sore and griefe, it is because you are too much unacquainted with yourselves, and strangers to those Hearts where the greatest of your sores and griefes are lodged.

And whether Good Hearts should be opened in holy Conference, (as well as Prayer) you may easily determine from the com­mand of God▪ 1 Pet. 4.10.11. [As every [Page 180] man hath received the gift, so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God] If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. Eph 4.29. [Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers] Heb. 3.13. [exhort one another daily while it is called To day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfullnes of sin.] Psal. 37.30, 31. [The mouth of the Righteous speaketh wisdome, and his tongue talketh of judgment: The Law of his God is in his heart &c] Psal. 71.8. Let my mouth be filled with thy Praise and with thy honour all the day. Pro. 10.11. The mouth of a Righteous man is a Well of life] 21. The lips of the Righteous feed many] And Christ himself decideth it expresly, Math. 12.34.35. [Out of the abundance of the Heart the mouth speaketh: A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things;

For a man that hath no Heart to Prayer or Holy conference, but loathes them and is weary of them, and had rather talk of flesh­ly pleasures, to pretend that yet his Heart is Good, and that God will excuse him for not expressing it, and that it is his Prudence, and his freedome from Hypocrisie, that ma­keth [Page 181] his tongue to be so much unacquainted with the goodness of his Heart, this is but to play the Hypocrite to prove that he is no Hypocrite: and to cover his Ignorance in the matters of his Salvation, with the expression of his Ignorance of the very nature and use of Heart and Tongue, and to cast by the Lawes of God, and his owne duty, and cover this impiety with the name of Prudence. If Heart and Tongue be not used for God, what do you either with a Heart or Tongue?

The case is plaine, to men that can see that it is your strangness to your selves, that is the cause that you have little to say against yourselves, when you should confess your sins to God; and so little to say for your selves, when you should beg his grace; and so little to say of your selves, when you should open your hearts to those that can advise you: But that you see not that this is the Cause of your Dumbness, who see so little of your owne corruptions, is no wonder while you are so strange at home. Had you but so much knowledge of yourselves as to see that it is the strangeness to your selves that maketh you so prayerless and mute, and so much sense as to complaine of your darkness, and be willing to come into the light, it were a signe that light is com­ing [Page 182] in to you, and that you are in a hopefull way of cure. But when you neither know your­selves, nor know that you do not know yourselves, your Ignorance and Pride are like to cherish your Presumption and impiety, till the Light of grace, or the fire of Hell have taught you better to know your selves.

2. And here you may understand the reason why people fearing God are so apt to accuse and condemn themselves, to be too much cast downe; and why they that have cause of greatest joy, do somtimes walk more heavily then others. It is because they know more of their sinfulness, and take more notice of their inward corruptions and outward failings, then presumptuous sin­ners do of theirs. Because they know their faults and wants, they are cast down; But when they come farther to see their interest in Christ and grace, they will be raised up againe. Before they are converted, they u­sually presume, as being ignorant of their sin and misery: In the infancy of grace they know these, but yet languish for want of more knoledge of Christ and mercy. But he that knoweth fully both himself and Christ, both misery and mercy, is humbled and comforted, Cast downe and exalted. As a man that never saw the sea, is not afraid of [Page 183] it; and he that seeth it but a farre off, and thinks he shall never come neere it, is not much afraid of it: he that is drowned in it, is worse then afraid: and he that is tossed by the waves, and doubteth of ever coming safe to harbour, is the fearfull person: he that is tossed but hath good hopes of a safe arrivall, hath feares that are abated or overcome with hope: but he that is safe-landed is past his feares. The first is like him that never saw the misery of the ungodly: the Second is like him that seeth it in generall, but thinks it doth not belong to him: the third is like the damned that are past remedie: the fourth is like the humbled doubt­ing Christian, that seeth the danger, but doth too much question or forget the helpes; the fifth is like the Christian of a stronger faith, that sees the danger, but withall seeth his help and safety: the sixth is like the glorifyed saints, that are past the danger.

Though the doubting Christian know rot his sincerity, and therefore knoweth not himself so well as the strong believer doth, yet in that he knoweth his sinfullness and unworthyness, he knoweth himself better then the presump­tuous world.

These two Remarkes, with the forego­ing Caution, having interposed (some what out of place) I now returne to prosecute [Page 184] my Exhortation, that no matters may seem so sweet, so honourable, so great, or ne­cessary, as to pass with you for excuses for the neglecting of the most diligent and impartiall study of yourselves.

All persons to whom I can address this Ex­hortation, are either Godly or ungodly; in the state of sin, or in the state of Grace. And both of them have need to study themselves.

I. And to begin with the unrenewed carnall sort, it is they that have the great­est need, to be better acquainted with themselves. O that I knew how to make them sensible of it; If any thing will doe it, me thinkes it should be done by ac­quainting them how much their endless state is concerned in it. In order hereunto let me yet adde to all that is said already, these few considerations;

1. If you know not yourselves, you know not whether you are the children of God, or not: nor whether you must be for ever in Heaven or Hell; no nor whether you may not within this houre behold the angry face of God, which will frowne you into damnation. And is this a matter for a man of Reason to be quietly and contentedly [Page 185] ignorant of? It is a business of such un­speakable concernment, to know whether you must be everlastingly in Heaven or Hell, that no man can spare his cost or paines about it, without betraying and disgracing his understanding: you are sure you shall be here but a little while: Those Bodies you all know, will hold your souls but a little longer: As you know that you that are now together here attending, must pre­sently quit this roome and be gone; so you know that when you have staid a little longer, you must quit this world, and be gone into another. And I think there is not the proudest of you but would be taken downe, nor the most sluggish or dead-hearted but would be awakened, if you knew that you must goe to endless misery, and that your dying houre would be your enterance into Hell. And if you know not your selves, you know not but it may be so. And to know nothing to the contray, would be ter­rible to you if you well considered it, espe­cialy when you have so much cause to feare it. O Sirs, for a man to sit here sencelesly in these seats, that knows not but he may burne in Hell for ever, and knowes not because he is blind and careless; how un­suitable is it to the principle of self love and [Page 186] self preservation? and how much unbeseemi [...] the Rational Nature, to have no [...] or care, when you looke before you, unto the unquenchable fire and the utter darkness where, as the Heathen Poet speakes,

Nec mortis poenas mors altera finiet huju [...]
Horaque erit tantis ultima nulla malis.

If any of you thinke that all these mat­ters are to be put to the adventure, and cannot now be known, you are dangerously mistaken. As you may certainly know by Scripture and the Light of Nature, that there is a future Life of joy to the Godly▪ and of misery to the wicked, so may you know by a faithfull tryall of yourselves, to which of these at present you belong, and whether you are under the promise or the threatening; know yourselves, and you may know whether you are Justifyed o [...] Condemned allready, and whether you are the Heires of Heaven or Hell. Surely he that comforteth his servants with the Pro­mise of Glory to all that Believe and are new creatures, and sanctifyed by his spirit, did suppose that we may know whether we Be­lieve and are renewed and sanctifyed or not: Or els What comfort can it be to us? If blinded Infidels, have no meanes to quiet [Page 187] [...]hemselves but their unbeliefe, and a con­ [...]eit that there is no such Life of misery, [...]hey have the most pittifull O piate to ease [...]hem in the world: and may as well think [...]o become immortall, by a confident con­ [...]eit that they shall never die. If they befoole [...]hemselves with the ordinary Questions [where is Hell: and what kind of fire is it? &c] I answer them with Augustine [Melius [...]st dubitare de occultis, quam litigare de [...]certis: Illum quippe divitem in àrdore [...]oenarum, & illum pauperem in refrigerio gandiorum esse intelligendos non dubito: sed quomodo intelligenda illa flamma in inferno, ille sinus Abrahae, illa divitis lingua, ille digitus pauperis, illa sitis tormenti, illa stilla refrigerii, vix fortasse à mansuetè quaren­tibus, contentiose antem sectantibus nunquam invenitur] that is, [It is better to be in doubt about things that are hidden from us, then to quarrell about things that are uncertaine to us. I am past doubt that we must under­stand that that Rich man was in the heat of Paine, and the Poore man in a refreshing place of Joyes: But how to understand that flame in Hell, that bosome of Abraham, that tongue of the Rich man, that finger of the poore man, that thirst of torment, that drop for cooling or refreshment, perhaps will hardly [Page 188] be found by the most humble enquirers, but never by contentious strivers.

So that I may conclude that the greatness and dreadfullness of the case, should make every person that hath an eye to see, an eare to heare, and a Heart to understand, to Read and enquire and consider, and never rest till they know themselves, and understand where it is that they are going to take up their abode to everlasting.

2. Consider, that All men must shortly know themselves. Presumption will be but of short continuance. Be never so confident of being saved without Holynes, you will speedily be undeceived. If the Spirits illumi­nation do not convince and undeceive you, Death will undoubtedly do it at the furthest. Thousands and Millions know their sin and misery now when it is too late, that would not know it when the remedy was at hand; sinners, your soules are now in darkness: your Bodyes are your dungeon: But when Death brings you out into the open Light, you will see what we could never make you see. O how glad would a faithfull minister of Christ be, if by any information he could now give you halfe the Light that you shall then have, and now make you know at the Heart with the feeling of Repentance, that [Page 189] which you must else quickly know, even at the Heart with the feeling of despaire; sirs, I hope you think not that I speak meere fancies to you, or any think that is que­stionable and uncertaine: you can not say so without denying your selves to be Christians; no nor without contradicting the light of Nature, and debasing your soules below the Heathen who believe an immortality of soules in a different state of Joy or mtsery in the Life to come: And if you are once below Heathens, what are you better then Bruit beasts? Better in your naturall faculties and powers, as being not made Bruites by your Creatour: But worse as to the use of them, and the consequents to yourselves, because you are voluntary self-abusing Bruites. But to live here as a Bruit, will not make you die and be hereafter as a Bruit: To belive you shall die as a Beast, will not prevent the miserable life of an impenitent sinner. It will not make your soules to be Mortall, to believe they are mortall; no more then it will make a beast to be Immor­tall, if he could but think so. The coffin-maker and the grave-maker, if they never read a Book, can tell you that it is no controversie whether you must goe hence. And Faith and Reason can both assure you, [Page 190] that your soules lie not downe with your Bodies in the dust, nor are annihilated by the falling of your earthly tabernacle; no more then the spirits when the glass is bro­ken that held them, or then your Bodies are annihilated when you put off your clothes, or rise out of your beds: Or then the bird is annihilated that is got out of the shell: or the infant that is by nature cast out of the wombe: nor no more then the Angels that appeared to the Apostles or others, were annihilated when they disap­peared: Or (if I must speak more suitably to the ungodly) no more then the Devil that some time appeareth in a bodily shape is annihilated when that appearance vanisheth. As I suppose there is never a person in all this populous city that was here but seven-score years agoe; so I suppose there is none of you that are here to day, that expect to be here so long a time: They are gone before you into a world where there is no presumption or security: and you are go­ing after them and are almost there. As easily as you set here, I tell you all, you are going after them apace, and are al­most there:

O Sirs, that world is a world of Light. To the damned soules it is called Outer [Page 191] darkness, because they have none of the Light of Glory or of Comfort: But they shall have the Light of a self-accusing, self-tormenting Conscience that is gone out of the darknes of self-ignorance and self-deceit, and is fully cured of its slumber and insen­sibility.

Do you now take a civilized person for a Saint? you will not do so long.

Doth the Baptisme of water only goe with you now for the Regeneration of the Spirit? It will not be so long: you will shortly be undeceived.

Doth a ceremonious Pharisee thank God for the sincerity and Holynes which he never had? He will shortly be taught bet­ter to know the nature of Holyness and sincerity, and that God Justifyeth not all that Justifie themselves.

Doth a little formal heartless, Hypocriti­call devotion, now cover a sensuall, world­ly mind? The cover will be shortly taken off, and the nakednes and deformity of the Pharisee will appeare.

Doth the name of a christian, and the heartless use of outward ordinances, and that good esteeme of others, now goe for God­lyness and saving grace? The Autumne is at hand, when these leaves will all lie in [Page 192] the dirt, and will goe for fruit no longer.

Do you take it now for true Religion to be hot for lust, and pride, and gain, and cold for God and you Salvation? and to obey God so far as will stand with your out­ward prosperity, and as the flesh, or your other Masters will give leave? This is an Opinion that never accompanied any man beyond the grave.

Do you think to be saved by all that de­votion, which gives God but the leavings of the flesh and world, and by a Religion that gives him but the outer rooms (when plea­sure and gain are next your hearts) and that makes him but an underling to your Covetousness and Ambition? Think so if you can, when you are gone hence.

Cannot the Preacher now make the un­godly to know that they are ungodly, the un­sanctified to know they are but carnal, and the Pharisee to know that his Religion is Vain? Death can convince the awakened soul of all this in a moment.

You can choose whether you will believe us: but Death will so speak as to be believed. You must be Voluntary in knowing your misery now: but then you shall know it against your wills. You must open the [Page 193] windows, or must open your eyes, if you will see your selves by the Light which we bring to you: But Death irresistibly throws open all. To say in pride and ob­stinacy, [I will not believe it] will now serve turn to quiet your consciences, and make you seem as safe as any: But when God saith You shall feel it, your unbelief is uneffectual: It can then torment you, but it can no longer ease you. There's then no room for [I will not believe it.] God can without a word perswade you of that which you were resolved you would never be perswaded of.

This day while you all sit here in the body, you are every one affected according as you apprehend your state to be, whether it be indeed as you apprehend it, or not: But when Death hath opened you the door into eternity, you will be all affected with your conditions as they are indeed.

To day, you are here quiet because you think your souls are safe: and some are troubled that think they are in a state of misery: and its like that some on both sides are mistaken: and the quiet of one, and the disquiet of another, may arise for want of the knowledge of your selves: But [Page 194] Death will rectifie both these errors: and then if you are unsanctified, no false opi­nions, no unbelief, no confident conceits of your integreity, will abate your desperati­on, or give any ease to your tormented minds: Nor will there be any doubts, or fears or despairing self-afflicting thoughts to disquiet those that Christ hath justified, or a bate their Joyes.

O how many thousands will then think much otherwise of themselves then they now do! Death turns you out of the com­pany of flatterers; and calls you out of the world of error, where men laugh and cry in their sleep: and bringeth you among awakened souls, where all things are called by their proper names, and all men are taken by themselves to be as they are in­deed. Serious Religion is not there a derisi­on; nor Loving and seeking and serving God with all the heart and soul and might, is not there taken for unnecessary preciseness. Holiness is not there called humour or Hy­pocrisie: Nor is the Pharisaical Ceremoni­ous Hypocrite, taken for a man of the most prudent, safe and moderate Religion. God judgeth not as man, by outward appear­ances; but with righteous judgement: that [Page 195] which is highly esteemed among men, is abo­mination in the sight of God, Luke 16.15. And he will make you then to judge of your selves as he hath judged you. Though Wisdom now be Justified but of her children, it shall then be Justified by all: Not by a sanctifying, but a constrained involuntary tormenting light: And though now men can believe as well of themselves, as self-love and the quieting of their consciences doth require; yet then they will have lost this mastery over their own conceits.

O therefore beloved Hearers, seeing you are all going into an unresistibly convin­cing Light, and are almost in that world where all must fully know themselves: See­ing nothing is covered that shall not be re­vealed, nor hid that shall not be made known (Mat. 10.26.) and no unsanctified Hy­pocrite doth flatter himself into such high presumption, but a dying hour will take him down, and turn it all into endless de­speration, if true Conversion prevent it not; I beseech you be more conversant with Conscience, then you have been: Be ashamed that a wanton sot, that knoweth nothing better then flesh to adorn and to be carefull of, should bestow more hours in looking into the Glass, then you bestow to look into Gods [Page 196] Word and your own Hearts; yea more in a year, then you have thus bestowed in all your lives.

O that you knew what a profitable com­panion Conscience is for you to converse with. You would not then think your selves so solitary as to be destitute of com­pany and employment, while you have so much to do at home, and one in your bosome that you have so much business with.

And it is a necessary and inseparable com­panion: If the wise of your bosome should be a shrew, you must not therefore be a stranger to her, because of nearness, ne­cessity and business. If Conscience should give you some foul words, and chide you when you had rather be flattered; yet there is no running from it for more plea­sant company: Home is homely: Its there that you must dwell: Conscience is marri­ed to you: Please it on safe terms as well as you can: but do not think to overrun it: For it will follow you; or you must return to it home again, when you have gone yout furthest, and done you worst. You have taken Conscience for better and for worse. There is no expectation of a divorce: no not by Death: It will follow [Page 197] you to Eternity. And therefore O be not strange to Conscience, that will be your Comforter or Tormenter at the hour of death; that can do so much to make sickness and all suffering light or grievous; and to make death welcome or terrible to you: Fly not from conscience that must dwell with you for ever.

O foolish sinners! do you want com­pany and business to pass away your time? Are you fain to go to Cards or Dice to waste this treasure, which is more precious then your money? Do you go to an Ale-house, a Play-house, or other such Pest house to seek for company and pastime: (I say not, to Bedlam; for thats as much more honourable then your sinfull society, as the place that cureth or restraineth the mad, is better then that which makes them mad.) Do you forget what company and business you have at home. As you love your peace and happiness, instead of conversing with vain, lascivious, or ungodly persons, O spend that time in converse with your Con­sciences. You may there have a thousand times more profitable discourse. Be not of­fended to give Conscience a sober faithfull answer, if it ask you, What you have done with all your Time? and how you have [Page 198] lived in the world? and how you have obey­ed the calls of grace? and how you have entertained Christ into your hearts? and whether you have obeyed him or his enemy? and whether you have been led by the spi­rit or the flesh? and what forwardness the work of your salvation is in, for which you came into the world? and what assu­rance you have of your Justification and Salvation? and what readiness to die? Think it not presumption in Conscience thus to examine you: Though you have perhaps unthankfully disdained to be thus examined by your Pastors, your external Guides, whose office it is to help you, and watch for your souls; yet do not disdain to be accountable to your selves. Accountable you must be ere long to God: And that friend that would help you to make ready such accounts, on which so great a weight dependeth, me thinks should be welcomed with a thousand thanks. Ministers and Conscience should be acceptable to you, that come on so neces­sary a work.

The chidings of Conscience are more friendly language then the flattery of your ignorant or proud associates: and should be more gratefull to you then the laugh­ter of fools, which is like the crackling of [Page 199] thorns in the fire, (Eccles. 7.6.) Thy own home though it be a house of mourning, is better for thee then such a sinfull house of mirth. Hear but what Conscience hath to say to you. No one will speak with you, that hath words to speak, which nearlyer concern you. I beseech you, Sirs, be more frequent and familiar with Conscience then most men are. Think not the time lost, when you walk and talk with it alone. Confer with it about your endless state, and where you are like to be for ever; and what way you are in; and what thoughts you will have of your sins and duties, of the world and God, of yielding or overcoming at the last. Is there no sense in this discourse? Thou art dead and senseless if thou think so. Is idle talk and prating better? I hope you are not so distracted as to say so. If you have not blinded, deceived or bribed it, I tell you, Conscience hath other kind of discourse for you; more excellent and necessary things to talk of, then wantons, or worldlings, or pot-companions have. Its better be giving Conscience an account, what business thou hast had so often in such company; and how thou wouldst have lookt, if death had found thee there? then without leave from from God or Conscience, to go thither again.

[Page 200]The thriving way is neither to be still at home, nor still abroad; but to be at home when homework is to be done; and to be abroad only for doing and for getting good, in a way of diligent Christian trading; and to bring that home that is got abroad: but never to go abroad upon loytering, vain, ex­pensive occasions. When you have done with Conscience, converse with others that your business lieth with, and go abroad when its for your Masters work: but go not upon idle errands: converse not with prodigal Wasters of your time, and enemies to your souls.

One time or other Conscience will speak, and have a hearing: the sooner the better: Put it not off to a time so unseasonable as Death; I say not unseasonable for Con­science to speak in; but unseasonable for it to begin to speak in; and unseasonable for those terrible words that need a calmer time for answer; and unseasonable for so many things and so great, as self-be­trayers use to put off untill then, which need a longer time for due consideration and dispatch.

3. And I beseech you consider, with what amazing horror it must needs sur­prise you, to find ox a sudden and unexpe­ [...]edly [Page 201] when you die, that all is worse with [...]ou then you imagined or would believe? After a whole life of confident presumpti­ [...]n, to be suddenly convinced by so dread­ [...]ull an experience, of your so long and wilfull a mistake! To find in a moment, that you have flattered your souls, into so desperate a state of woe! To see and feel all the selfish cavils and reasonings confut­ed, in one hour, which the wisest and holiest men on earth, could never beat you from before! O Sirs, you know not now, what a day, what a conviction, that will be! You know not what it is for a guilty soul to to pass out of the Body, and find it self in the plague of an unsanctified state, and hated of the Holy God, that never would know it till it was too late. You know not what it is to be turned by Death into that world of spirits, where all self-deceit is detected by experience: and all must un­dergo a righteous judgement; where blind­ness and self-love can no more perswade the miserable that they are happy; the un­holy that they are sanctified; the fleshly minded men that they are spiritual; the lovers of the world, that they are the Lovers of God: Men cannot there believe what they list: nor take that for a truth which makes [Page 202] for their security, be it never so false▪ Men cannot there believe that they are ac­cepted of God, while they are in the bonds of their iniquity; or that their hearts are as good as the best, while their tongues and lives are opposite to goodness; or that they shall be saved as soon as the godly, though they be ungodly.

Its easie for a man to hear of waves, and gulfs and shipwrack that never saw the Sea; and without any fear to hear of battels, that never saw the face of an enemy: and without any trouble to hear of sickness and tormenting pains, and burning, and cutting off of limbs, that never felt or saw such things. Its easie for you here in these seats, in the midst of health and peace and quietness, to hear of a departing soul, and where it shall appear, and what it shall there see, and how great a discovery Death will make: But O Sirs, when this must be your case (as you know it must be, alas, how speedily!) these matters then will seem considerable: They will be new and strange to those that have heard of them an hundred times, because they never heard of them sensibly till now. One of those souls that have been here before you, and have past that way into eternity, have other thoughts [Page 203] of these things than you have! O how do [...]ey think now, of the fearless slumber [...]nd stupidity of those that they have [...]eft behind? What think they now of those [...]hat wilfully fly the light, and flatter them­ [...]elves in guilt and misery, and make light of all the Joyes and torments of the other world? Even as the damned Rich man in Luke 16. thought of his poor Brethren, [...]hat remained in prosperity and presum­ [...]ion upon earth, and little thought what [...]ompany he was in, what a sight he saw, and what he did endure!

Poor careless souls, you know not now what it is, for the ungodly to see that they are ungodly, by the unresistible light of another world: and for the unholy to feel in Hell that they are unholy, and to be [...]aught by flames and the wrath of the Al­mighty, what is the difference between the sanctified and the carnal, betwen an obe­dient and a rebellious life: While you sit here, you little know these things: You see them not: you feel them not: and the Lord grant you may never so know them by wofull experience: that you may scape such a knowledge, is the end of all that I am saying to you: But that will not [Page 204] be, but by another kind of knowledge, even the knowledge of Belief and serious Consideration.

For your souls sake therefore come into the Light, and try your selves, and hud­dle not over a work of such unspeakable consequence, as the searching of your hearts and judging of your spiritual state? O be glad to know what you are indeed! Put home the question, Am I sanctified or not? A [...] I in the Spirit or in the flesh? Be glad of any htlp for the sure resolution of such doubts. Take not up with sleight and venturous presumptions. It is your own case: your nearest and your greatest case: All lies upon it: Who should be so wil­ling of the plainest dealing, the speediest and the closest search as you? O be not surprized by an unexpected sight of an un­renewed miserable soul at death. It it be so, see it now, while seeing it may do good: If it be not so, a faithfull search can do you no harm, but comfort you by the dis­covery of your sincerity. Say not too late, I thought I had been born again of the Spirit, and had been in a state of grace? I thought I had been a child of God, and reconciled to him and Justified by faith! O what a heart-tearing word would it be [Page 205] [...]o you, when time is past, to say, I thought [...]t had been better with me!

4. Consider also, that It is one of Satans [...]rincipal designs for your damnation, to keep [...]ou ignorant of your selves. He knows if he can but make you believe, that you [...]ere Regenerate when you are not, you will never seek to be regenerate: And that if he can make you think that you are Godly, when you are ungodly, and have the spirit of Christ while you are servants to the flesh, he may defeat all the labours of your Tea­chers, and let them call on you to be Con­verted till their hearts ake, to no purpose, but leave you as you are: He knows how light you'l set by the Physicion, if he can but make you believe that you are well! and how little care you'l take for a pardon, if you think that you need it not, or have one already. In vain may we call on you till we are hoarse to Turn, and become New creatures, and give up your selves to Christ, if you think that you are good Christians, and are in the way to Heaven already.

And when you know before hand, that here lieth the principal game of the Decei­ver, and that it will be his chief contri­vance, [Page 206] to keep you unacquainted wi [...] your sin and danger, till you are [...] recovery, one would think there should [...] no need to bid you be diligent to know your selves.

5. And I beseech you consider also, th [...] Without this design there is no likelyhood th [...] Satan could undo you: If he keep you not Ignorant of your selves, he is never like to keep you in his power: You come out of his Kingdom when you come out of dark­ness. He knoweth that if once you did but see how near you stand to the brink of Hell, you would think it time to change your standing.

There is a double principle in Nature, that would do something towards your Re­pentance and recovery, if your eyes were opened to see where you are.

1. There is since the seduction and ruine of man, by Satans temptations, an Enmi­ty put into the whole Nature of man against the Whole Satanical Serpentine Nature: so that this Natural enmity would so much conduce to your deliverance, as that you would not be contented with your Relati­on, if you knew that you are the drudges of the Devil; nor would you be charmed [Page 207] [...]nto sin so easily, if you knew that it is he [...]deed that doth invite you; nor would [...]ou dance after his pipe; or take his bait, [...] you perceived indeed that it is his: no [...]nguage would be so taking with you, which you knew were uttered by his voice. [...] would do much to affright you from [...]is service, if you knew that it is he indeed [...]hat setteth you on work, and is gratify­ [...]d by it. He keepeth men in his bondage [...]y making them believe that they are free: [...]e perswadeth men to obey him, by per­ [...]wading them that it is God that they [...]bey: And he draweth them to Hell, by making them believe that they are follow­ [...]ng Christ to Heaven; or at least, that they [...]re following the inclination of their na­ [...]ure in a pardonable infirmity.

2. And the Natural principle of self-love [...]ould in order to self-preservation do much [...]o drive you from your sinfull state, if [...]ou did but know what a state it is. There [...] no man so far hateth himself as to be willing to be damned. You cannot choose [...]nhabitation in Hell: Such a place can ne­ver be desired. Sure he that cannot choose [...]ut fly from an enemy, or a bear that did pursue him, or fly from fire or water or [Page 208] pestilence when he perceives his danger, would fly from Hell, if he perceived his danger.

I beseech you all that are secure in an unsanctified state, do but look inwards, and help me in preaching this doctrine to you [...] hearts, and tell your selves, whether you do not think; that your state is good, and that you are the children of God as well as others; and that though you are sin­ners, yet your sins are pardoned by the blood of Christ, and that you shall be saved if you die in the state that you are in? And are not these thoughts the Reason why you venture to continue in your presen [...] state, and look not after so great a change as Scripture speaketh of as ne­cessary?

And I pray you deal plainly with your hearts, and tell me, you careless sinners, young or old, that sit here as quietly as i [...] all were well with you; If you did but know that you are at this hour unregene­rate, and that without Regeneration there i [...] is no Salvation; If you did but know that you are yet carnal and unholy, and tha [...] without Holiness none shall see God; If yo [...] did but know that you are yet in a stat [...] [Page 209] of Enmity to God while you call him Fa­ther, and of Enmity to Christ while you call him your Saviour, and of Enmity to the Holy Spirit while you call him your sanctifyer; If you did but know that your sins are unpardoned, and your souls unju­stified, and that you are condemned alrea­dy, and shall certainly be damned if you die as you are, could you live quietly in such a state? Could you sleep, and eat and drink quietly, and follow your trades, and let time run on, without repenting and retur­ing unto God, if you knew that you are past hope, if death surprize you in this condition? For the Lords sake Sirs, rouze up your selves a little, and be serious in a business that concerneth you more then ten thousand natural lives, and tell me, or rather tell your selves, If you did but know that while you sit here, you are un­renewed, and therefore under the curse of God, and in the bondage of the Devil, and are hasting towards perdition, and are gone for ever, if you be not sanctified and made new creatures before you die; could you then put off this Sermon with a sleepy care­less hearing, and go home and talk of com­mon matters, and no more mind it, as you have done by Sermons untill now? Could [Page 210] you forbear going alone and there bethink­ing your selves, O what a sinful, dreadfull condition are we in! What will become of us if we be not regenerate before we die! Had we no Ʋnderstandings? no Hearts? no life or sense? that we have lingered so long, and lived so carelesly in such a state? O where had we been now if we had died un­regenerate! How near have we been oft to Death? how many sicknesses might have put an end to life and hope? Had any of them cut off the slender thread that our lives have hanged on so long, and had we died before this day, we had been new in Hell without re­medy. Could any of you that knew this to be your case, forbear to betake your selves to God, and cry to him in the bitterness of your souls, [O Lord, what Rebells, what wretches have we been? We have sinned against Heaven and before thee, and are [...] more worthy to be called thy children! O how sin hath captivated our understandings, and conquered our very sense, and made us live like men that were dead as to the Love and service of God, and the work of our salvation, which we were created and redemn­ed for! O Lord have mercy upon these blind­ed senseless miserable souls! Have mercy upon these despisers and abusers of thy mer­cy! [Page 211] O save us or we perish! Save us from our sins, from Satan, from thy curse and wrath! Save, us or we are undone and lost for ever! Save us from the unquenchable fire, from the worm that never dieth! from the bottomless pit, the outer darkness, the horrid gulf of endless misery! O let the bow­els of thy compassion yearn over us; O save us for thy Mercy sake; Shut not out the cries of miserable sinners. Regenerate, re­new and sanctifie our hearts; O make us new creatures! O plant thine Image on our souls, and incline them towards thee, that they may be wholly thine; O make us such as thou commandest us to be; Away with our sins, and sinfull pleasures, and sinfull company! We have had too much, too much of them already! Let us now be thine, asso­ciated with them that Love and fear thee; imployed in the works of Holiness and obe­dience all our dayes! Lord, we are willing to let go our sins, and to be thy servants: or if we be not make us willing.]

What say you Sirs, if you knew that you were this hour in a state of condemnation, could you forbear making haste with such confessions▪ complaints and earnest sup­plications to God?

And could you forbear going present­ly [Page 212] to some faithfull Minister or godly friend, and telling him your case and dan­ger, and begging his advice, and prayers, and asking him, what a poor sinner must do to be recovered, pardoned and saved, that is so deep in sin and misery, and hath de­spised Christ and grace so long? Could you tell how to sleep quietly many nights more, before you had earnestly sought out for help, and made this change? How could you choose but presently betake your selves to the company, and converse, and examples of the godly that are within your reach! (For when ever a man is truly changed, his friendship, and company is changed, if he have opportunity.) And how could you choose but go and take your leave of your old companions, and with tears and sorrow tell them how foolishly and sinfully you have done, and what wrong you have done each others souls, and intreat them to re­pent and do so no more, or else you will renounce them, and fly from their com­pany as from a Pesthouse?

Can a man forbear thus to fly from Hell, if he saw that he is as near it as a condem­ned Traytor to the Gallows? He that will beg for bread, if he be hungry, and rather [...] by shame, then famish, would beg for grace, [Page 213] if he saw and felt how much he needeth it: (And seeing it, is the way to feel it) He that will seek for medicines when he is sick, and would do almost any thing to escape a temporal death, would he not seek out to Christ the remedy of his soul, if he knew and felt, that otherwise there is no recove­ry; and would he not do much against eternal death? Skin for skin, and all that a man hath, he will give for this life;] was a truth that the Devil knew and maketh use of in his temptations. And will a man then be regardless of his soul, that knows he hath an immortal soul? and of life eter­nal, that knows his danger of eternal death?

O Sirs, it is not possible, but the true knowledge of your state of sin and danger would do very much to save you from it. For [...] a wilfull-chosen state. All the De­vi [...] [...] Hell cannot bring you to it, and [...] you in it against your will. You [...] willing of the sin, though unwilling of [...] punishment: And if you truly knew [...] [...]unishment and your danger of it, you [...]uld be the more unwilling of the sin: for God hath affixed punishment to sin for this end, that they that else would love the Serpent, may hate it for the sting: W [...]ll you not say, He is a beast and not a man [Page 214] that will avoid no danger but what he seeth? Foreseeing is to a man, what seeing is to a beast: If he see it before his eyes, a beast will not easily be driven into a Cole-pit or a gulf: he will draw back and strive if you go about to kill him. And is he a man, or some monster that wants a name, that will go on to Hell, when he seeth it as it were before him? and that will continue in a state of sin, when he knows he must be damned in Hell for ever, if he so continue to the end? Indeed sin is the deformity and monstrosity of the soul. He is a monster of Blindness that seeth not the folly and peril of such a state, and that a state of Holiness is better ▪ He is a mon­ster of stupidity that finds himself in such a state, and doth not feel it, but m [...]th light of it; And he is monster [...] fulness that will not stir when he [...] himself in such a case, and seek for [...] and value the remedy, and use the [...] and forsake his sinfull course and [...], till further mercy take him up and [...] him home, and make him welcome [...] one that was lost but now is found, was [...] but is alive.

I do not doubt for all these expostula­tions, but some men may be such mon­sters, [Page 215] as thus to see that they are in a state of wrath and misery, and yet con­tinue in it.

As 1. Such as have but a glimmering in­sufficient sight of it, and a half-belief, while a greater belief and hope of the contrary, (that is, Presumption) is predominant at the heart: But these are rather to be called men ignorant of their misery then men that know it; and men that believe it not, then men that do believe it, as long as the Ig­norance and Presumption is the prevailing part.

2. Such as by the rage of appetite and passion are hurried into deadly sin, and so continue, when ever the tempter offereth them the [...], against their Conscience, and some ap [...]ehension of their misery. But [...] commonly a prevalent self- [...] within encouraging and [...] them in their sin, and telling [...] the reluctancies of their consci­ [...] [...] the spirits strivings against the [...] their fits of remorse are true [...]; and though they are sinners, they [...] they are pardoned, and shall be [...] so that these do not know themselves [...]

3. Such as by their deep engagements to [Page 216] the world, and love of its prosperity, and a custom in sinning, are so hardened, and cast into a slumber, that though they have a secret knowledge or suspicion that their case is miserable, yet they are not wakened to the due consideration and feeling of it: and therefore they go on as if they knew it not: But these have not their knowledge in exercise: It is but a candle in a dark lanthorn, that now and then give [...] them a convincing flash, when the right side happens to be towards them, or like light­ning that rather frightens and amazeth them then directeth them. And (as I said of the former) as to the act, their self-ig­norance is the predominant part, and there­fore they cannot be said inde [...] to know themselves. Now and then a [...]vinced apprehension, or a fear, is not [...] of their minds.

4. Such as being in youth or [...] do promise themselves long life, [...] others that foolishly put away [...] day [...] death, and think they have yet [...] before them; and therefore though [...] [...] convinced of their misery, and kn [...] [...]hey must be Converted or Condemned, [...] yet delay, and quiet themselves with purposes to Repent hereafter, when Death [...]ra [...]es [Page 217] neer and there is no other remedie, but they must leave their sins, or give up all their hopes of Heaven. Though these know somewhat of their present misery, it is but by such a flashy uneffectuall knowledge, as is afore described: and they know little of the wickedness of their hearts while they confess them wicked. Otherwise they could not imagine that Repentance is so easie a work to such as they, as that they can performe it when their hearts are further hardened, and that so easily and certainly as that their salvation may be ventured on it by delayes. Did they know themselves, they would know the backwardness of their hearts, and manifold difficulties should make them see the madness of delayes and of longer resisting and abusing the grace of the spirit that must convert them if ever they be saved.

5. Such as have light to shew them their misery, but live where they heare not the discovery of the Remedie, and are left without any knowledge of a Saviour. I deny not but such may go on in a state of misery though they know it, when they know no way out of it.

6. Such as Believe not the Remedie though they heare of it, but think that Christ is [Page 218] not to be believed in as the Saviour of the world.

7. Such as Believe that Christ is the Re­deemer, but believe not that he will have mercy upon them, as supposing their hearts are not qualifyed for his salvation, no [...] ever will be, because the day of grace i [...] past, and he hath concluded them under a sentence of reprobation; and therefore thinking that there is no hope and that their endeavours would be all in vaine, they cast off all endeavours, and give up them­selves to the pleasurs of the flesh, and say, It is as good be damned for some thing or for a greater mattter, as for a lesse.

So that there are three sorts of Despaire that are not equally dangerous 1. A Despaire of pardon and salvation arising from In­fidelity, as if the Gospell were not true, nor Christ a Saviour to be trusted, with our soules, if predominant, is damnable. 2. A Despaire of pardon and salvation▪ arising from a mis-understanding of the Promise, as if it pardoned not such sins as ours, and denyed mercy to those that have sinned so long as we; this is not dam­nable necessarily of it selfe, because it im­plyeth faith in Christ; and not Infidelity but misunderstanding hindereth the apply [...]g [Page 219] comforting act: And therefore this [...]ctuall personal despaire, is accompanyed [...]ith a General actual Hope and with a parti­ [...]ular personal, vertual Hope. 3. A Despaire [...] pardon and salvation, upon the misun­ [...]erstanding of ourselves, as thinking both [...]at we are gracless, and alwaies shall be so, [...]ecause of the blindness and hardness of our [...]earts: of this Despaire I say as of the for­ [...]er, it is joyned with faith and with General [...]nd Ʋirtual Hope: and therefore is not the Despaire that of its self condemneth. Many may [...] saved that are too much guitly of it.

But if either of these two later sorts [...]hall so far prevaile as to turne men off [...]om a Holy to a fleshly worldly interest and [...]fe, and make them say, [Wee will take [...]ur pleasure while we may, and will have [...]thing for our soules before we lose them] [...]nd do accordingly; this kind of Desperati­ [...] is damnable by the effects, because it [...]akes men off the meanes of life, and gi­ [...]eth them up to damning sinnes.

Thus I have shewed you of seven sorts of persons, that may know themselves, [...]heir sin and danger, with such an un­effectuall partiall knowledge a I have de­scribed, and yet continue in that sin and misery.

[Page 220]And in two cases even sound Believer many possibly go on to sin, when they [...] the sin: and not only see the danger of [...] but despairingly thinke it greater then it i [...] As 1. in case of common unavoidable fa [...]ings, infirmites, and low degrees of grace we are all imperfect: and yet we all kno [...] that it is our duty to be perfect (as perfect [...]on is opposed to sinfull, and not to inn [...]cent imperfection) And yet this knowled [...] maketh us not perfect. We know we [...] be more humbled, and more believing, an [...] more watchfull, and Love God more, an [...] feare and trust him more, and be mo [...] fruitfull, and diligent, and obedient an [...] zealous: and yet we are not What we [...] we should be in any of these. In these [...] all live in sin against knowledge: els [...] should be all as good as we know we oug [...] to be, which no man is. And if thro [...] temptation any of us should be ready [...] despaire because of any of these infirmity [...] because we cannot Repent, or Love God watch, or Pray, or Obey more perfectly or as we should, yet Grace ceaseth not [...] be Grace, though in the least degree, beca [...] we are ready to despair for want of [...] Nor will the sincerity of this spark, [...] graine of Mustard seed, be unsucces [...] [Page 221] [...] to our salvation, because we think so, and [...]ake ourselves to be unsincere, and our sancti­ [...]cation to be none; Nor yet because we [...]annot be as obedient and good as we [...]now we should be. For the Gospell saith [...]ot [He that knoweth he hath faith or sin­ [...]rity, shall be saved: and he that knoweth [...] not, shall be damned: or he that is lesse [...]ly or obedient then his conscence tells him he [...]hould be, shall be damned] But he that Be­ [...]ieveth and Repenteth, shall be saved, whether [...]e know it to be done in sincerity or no: [...]nd he that doth not, shall be damned, though [...]e never so confidently think he doth. So that in the Degrees of Holynes and obedi­ence, all Christians ordinarly sin against knowledge.

2. And besides what is ordinary, some extraordinarily in the time of a Powerfull temptation go further then ordinarily they do. And some under dull Flegmatick melancholy, or cholerick diseases or distem­pers of body, or under a diseased violent appetite, may transgress more against their knowledge, then otherwise they would do: when the spirits are flatted, the thoughts confused, the reason weakened, the passion strengthned, and the executive faculties undisposed, so that their actions [Page 222] are but imperfectly Humane or Morall (imperfectly capable of vertue or vice good or evill) it is no wonder here if poo [...] soules not only perceive their sin, but thin [...] it and the danger to be tenfold great [...] then they are, and yet go on again [...] their knowledge, and yet have [...] grace.

This much I have said both to stay yo [...] from misunderstanding what I said before concerning the Power of conviction [...] conversion (for few Auditoryes wa [...] hearers that will be still excepting, if Ca [...]tion stop not every hole) and also to [...] you to the fuller understanding of the [...]ter its self of which I treat. But excepti [...] [...]mat regulam in non exceptis, Exceptio [...] strengthen and not weaken any Rule [...] proposition, in the points not except [...] Still I say that out of these cases the [...] knowledge of a sinfull miserable state, [...] so great a helpe to bring us out of it, [...] its hardly imaginable how rationall me [...] can willfully continue in a state of su [...] exceeding danger, if they be but well ac [...]quainted that they are in it. I know a Har [...]ned heart hath an unreasonable obstin [...] opposition against the meanes of its [...] recovery: But yet men have some use [...] [Page 223] Reason and self preserving Love and care, [...]r they are not men (and if they be not [...], they cannot be sinfull men) And [...]hough little transient lightnings oft come [...]o nothing, but leave some men in grea­ [...]er darkness; yet could we but set up a [...]anding Light in all your consciences, could we fully convince and resolve the unrege­ [...]ate that they cannot be saved in the car­nall state and way that they are in, but must be sanctifyed or never saved, what hopes should we have that all the subtiltyes [...]nd snares of Satan, and all the pleasures and gaine of sin, and all the allurements of ungodly company could no longer hinder you from falling down at the feet of mercy, and begging forgiveness through the blood of Christ, and giving up yourselves in Covenant to the Lord, and speedily and resolutely betaking yourselves to an holy life! Could I but make you throughly known unto your selves, I should hope that all the unsanctified that hear me, would date their Conversion from this very day; and that you would not delay till the next morning, to bewail your sin and misery, and fly to Christ, lest you should die and be past hope this night.

And doth so much of our work and [Page 224] of your recovery lie upon this point and yet shall we not be able to ac [...] ­complish it? Might you be brough [...] into the way to Heaven, if we could b [...] perswade you that you are yet out of t [...] way, and will you be undone, because yo [...] will not suffer so small and reasonable part of the cure as this is? O God forbid O that we knew how to illuminate yo [...] minds so far as to make you find that yo [...] are lost! How ready would Christ be the [...] to find you, and to receive and welcome you upon your return! Here is the first diffi­culty, which if we could but overcome, [...] should hope to conquer all the rest. H [...] we but a wedge to cleave this knot, the rest would the more easily be done. Coul [...] we draw but this one pin of self-deceit ▪ the frame of Satans building were like to tumble down. O that any of you that know the nature of self-deceit, and know the accesses to the inwards of a sinner, and know the fallacious reasonings of the heart, could tell us but how we might un­deceive them! O that any of you that know the nature of humane understand­ing, with its several maladies and their cure, and know the power of saving truth, could tell us what key will undo this lock! [Page 125] what medicine will cure this disease, of wilfull, obstinate, self-deceiving? Think but on the case of our poor people, and of ours, and sure you cannot choose but pitty both them and us. We are all professors of the Christian faith, and all say we believe the word of God: This word assureth us that all men are fallen in Adam, and are by nature children of wrath, and increase in sin and misery, till super­natural grace recover them. It tells us that the Redeemer is become by office, the Physition or Saviour of souls, washing away their guilt by his blood, and renew­ing and cleansing their corrupted natures by his Spirit: It tell us that he will freely work the cure, for all that will take him for their Physicion, and will forgive and save them, that penitently fly to him, and value, and accept, and trust upon his grace: And that, except they be thus made new crea­tures, all the world cannot save them from everlasting wrath. This is the Doctrine that we all believe, or say we do believe: Thus doth it open the case of sinners. We come now, according to our office. and the trust reposed in us, and we tell our Hearers what the Scripture saith of man, and what it commandeth us to tell [Page 230] them: We tell them of their fall, their sin and misery; of the Redeemer, and the sure and free salvation, which they may have if they will but come to him. But, alas, we cannot make them believe that they are so sick as to have so much need of the Physicion: and that they are dead, and have need of a new creation, as to the inclinations of their hearts, and the end and bent and business of their lives. We are sent to tender them the mercy of Christ, but we cannot make them believe that they are miserable. We are sent to offer them the riches, and eye selve, and white rayment of the Gospel: but we cannot make them know that they are poor, and blind, and naked: We are sent to call them to Repent and Turn that they may be saved; and we cannot make them know that they are so far out of the way as to need a change of heart and life. Here they sit before us, and we look on them with pitty, and know not how to help them. We look on them and think, alas, poor souls, you little see what death will quickly make you see. You will then see that there is no salvation, by all the blood and merits of Christ for any but the sancti­fied; but O that we could now but make you understand it. We look on them with [Page 231] compassion, and think, Alas, poor souls, as easily and quietly as you sit here, a change is neer. It will be thus with you but a little while, and where will you be next? We know as sure as the word of God is true, that they must be converted and san­ctified, or be lost for ever: and we can­not make them believe, but that the work is done already. The Lord knoweth, and our consciences witness to our shame, that we be not half so sensible of their misery, nor so compassionate towards them as we ought to be: but yet sometimes our hearts melt over them, and fain we would save them from the wrath to come; and we should have great hopes of the success, if we could but make them know their danger: It melts our hearts to look on them and think that they are so near damnation, and never like to scape it, till they know it, till they know that their corruption is so great, that nothing but the quickning spirit can reco­ver them, and nothing less then to become new creatures will serve the turn: But if we would never so fain we cannot make them know it: O that we knew how to acquaint them with their case? O that we knew how to get within them, and to open the windows, that [Page 128] the light of Christ might shew them their condition! But when we have done all, we find it past our power. We know they will be past help in Hell, if they die before they are regenerate: And could we but get themselves to know it, we could not but hope that they would better look about them, and be saved: but we are not able: its more then we can do: We cannot get the grossest worldling, the basest sensualist, the filthiest letcher, the proudest child of the Spirit of pride, to know that he is in a state of condemnation, and must be sancti­fied or be damned: much less can we pro­cure the formal Pharisee, thus to know him­self. We can easily get them to confess that they are sinners, and deserve damnation, and cannot be saved without Christ: But this will not serve: The best Saint on earth must say as much as this comes to. There are converted and uncoverted sinners: sanctifyed and unsanctified sinners: Pardoned and un­pardoned sinners: Sinners that are mem­bers of Christ, and the children of God, and heirs of Heaven; and sinners that are not so, but contrary. They must know not only that they are sinners, but that they are yet unconverted, unsanctified, unpardoned sinners: not only that they cannot be sa­ved [Page 129] without Christ; but that yet they have no special interest in Christ: They will not Turn, while they think they are turned al­ready: They will not so value and seek for Conversion, and Remission, and Adoption, as to obtain them, while they think they have them all already. They will not come to Christ that they may have life, while they think they have part in Christ alrea­dy. Paul after his Conversion was a sin­ner, and had need of Christ: but Paul be­fore his Conversion was an unsanctified, un­justified sinner, and had no part in Christ: This is the state of sin and misery that you must come out of, or you are lost: And how can you be brought out of it, till you know that you are in it?

O therefore that we knew how to make you know it! How should we make poor sinners see that they are within a few steps of everlasting fire, that we might procure them to run away from it, and be saved! we cry so oft, and lose our labour, and leave so many in their security and self-de­ceits, that we are too discouraged, and remit our desires, and lose our compassi­on, and our selves alas grow dull and too insensible of their case, and preach too oft as coldly as if we could be content to let [Page 234] them perish. We are too apt to grow wea­ry of holding the light to men asleep, or that shut their eyes and will not see by it. When al [...] that we have said is not regard­ed, and we know not what more to say then hath been said so long in vain, this flats our spirits; this makes so many of us preach almost as carelesly as we are heard. Regardless sleepy hearers, make regardless sleepy Preachers. Frequent frustration abateth hope: And the fervour and dili­gence of prosecution ceaseth, as hope abateth. This is our fault: Your insensibility is no good excuse for ours: But its a fault not easily avoided.

And when we are stopt at the first door, and cannot conquer Satans out works, what hopes have we of going further? If all that we can say, will not convince you that you are yet unsanctified and unjustified, how shall we get you to the duties that belong to such, in order to the attainment of this desireable state?

ANd here I think it not unseasonable to inform you of the reason why the most able faithfull Ministers of Christ do search so deep, and speak so hardly of the case of unrenewed souls, as much displeas­eth many of their hearers, and makes them say, they are too severe and terrible preach­ers: The zealous Antinomian saith, they are Legalists; and the prophane Antimonian saith, they rail, and preach not mercy, but judgement only, and would drive men to de­spair, and make them mad. But will they tell God he is a Legalist for making the Law, even the Gospel Law as well as the Law of Nature, and commanding us to preach it to the world? Shall they escape the Sentence by reproaching the Law-maker? Will not God judge the world? and judge them by a Law? and will he not be just and beyond the reach of their reproach? O sinner, this is not the smallest part of thy terror, that it is the Gospel that speaks this terror to thee, and excludes thee from salvation un­less thou be made new: It is mercy it self that thus condemneth thee, and judgeth thee to endless misery. You are mistaken Sirs, when you say we preach not Mercy, and say [Page 232] we preach not the Gospel, but the Law: It is the Gospel that saith, Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven! and that if any man have not the spirit of Christ, the same is none of his, John 3.3, 5. Rom. 8.9. The same Gospel that saith, He that believeth shall be saved, saith also, that He that believeth not shall be damned, Mark 16.16. Will you tell Christ, the Saviour of the world, that he is not mer­cifull, because he talks to you of Damnati­on? Mercy it self when it tells you that There is no condemnation, doth limit this pardon to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,] Rom. 8.1. It is sanctifying Mercy that must save you, if ever you be saved, as well as Justifying Mercy. And will you refuse this Mercy, and by no entreaty yield to have it, and yet think to be saved by it? What saved by that Mercy which you will not have? And will you say, We preach not Mercy, because we tell you, that Mercy will not save you, if you continue to reject it? To be saved by Mercy without Sancti­fication, is to be saved and not saved: to be saved by Mercy without Mercy: Your words have no better sense then this: And are those afraid lest Preachers should make [Page 233] them mad by shewing them their need of mercy, that are no Wiser then to cast away their souls upon such senseless self-contra­dicting conceits as these?

I beseech you tell us whose words are they think you that say, Without holiness none shall see God! Heb. 12.14. and that He that is in Christ, is a new Creature, 2 Cor. 5.17. and such like passages which offend you; Are they ours, or are they Gods? Did we indite the Holy Scriptures, or did the Holy Ghost? Is it long of us, if there be any words there that cross your flesh, and that you call bitter? Can we help it, if God will save none but sanctified believers? If you have any thing to say against it, you must say it to him: We are sure that this is in his word: and we are sure he cannot lye: and therefore we are sure its true: We are sure that he may do with his own as he list, and that he oweth you nothing, and that he may give his pardon and salvation to whom, and upon what terms he please: And therefore we are sure he doth you no wrong. But if you think otherwise, reproach not us that are but messengers: but prepare your charge, and make it good against your maker, if you dare and can: you shall shortly come before him, and be put to it to justifie your selves: If [Page 238] If you can do it by recrimination, and can prevent your condemnation, by condem­ning the Law and the Judge, try your strength and do your worst.

Ah poor worms! dare you lift up the head, and move a tongue, against the Lord! Did Infinite Wisdom it self want Wisdom, to make a Law to rule the world? And did Infinite Goodness want Goodness to deal mer­cifully, and as was best, with man! And shall Justice it self be judged to be unjust? And that by you! By such silly, ignorant, naughty and unrighteous ones as you! As if you had the Wisdom and Goodness, which you think God wanted when he made his Laws!

And whereas you tell us of preaching ter­ribly to you, we cannot help it, if the true and righteous Threatnings of God be terri­ble to the guilty: It is because we know the Terrors of the Lord, that we preach them, to warn you to prevent them. And so did the Apostles before us, 2 Cor. 5.11. Either its true that the unquenchable fire will be the portion of impenitent, unbelieving, fleshly, worldly, unsanctified men, or it is not true: If it were not true, the word of God were not true: and then what should you do with any preaching at all, or any religi­on! [Page 239] But if you confess it to be true, do you think in reason, it should be silenced? or can we tell men of so terrible a thing as Hell, and tell them that it will certainly be their lot, unless they be new creatures, and not speak terribly to them! O Sirs, it is the wonder of my soul that it seemeth no more terrible, to all the ungodly that think they do believe it. Yea, and I would it did seem more terrible to the most, that it might affright you from your sin to God, and you might be saved. If you were running ignorantly into a Cole-pit, would you re­vile him that told you of it, and bid you stop if you love your life? Would you tell him that he speaks bitterly or terribly to you? It is not the Preacher that is the cause of your danger: he doth but tell you of it, that you may scape. If you are saved, you may thank him: but if you are lost, you may thank your selves. Its you that deal bitterly and terribly with your selves. Telling you of Hell, doth not make Hell: Warning you of it, is not caus­ing it: Nor is it God that is unmercifull, but you are foolishly cruel and unmercifull to your selves. Do not think to despise the patience and mercy of the Lord, and then think to escape by accusing him of being [Page 236] unmercifull, and by saying, Its terrible do­ctrine that we preach to you impenitent sin­ners; I confess to thee it is terrible, and more terrible then thy sensless heart imagi­neth, or is yet aware of: One day, if grace prevent it not, thou shalt find it ten thou­sand times more terrible then thou canst apprehend it now. When thou seest thy Judge with millions of his Angels coming to condemn thee, thou wilt then say his Laws are terrible indeed. Thou hast to do with a holy, jealous God, who is a consuming fire, Heb. 12.29. and can such a God be despised and not be terrible to thee? He is called, The Great, the Mighty and the Terrible God, Neh. 9.32. Deut. 7.21. With God is ter­rible Majesty, Job 37.22. He is terrible out of his holy place, Psal. 68.35. He is ter­rible to the greatest, even to the Kings of the earth, Psal. 76.12. Its time for you there­fore to tremble and submit, and think how unable you are to contend with him: and not revile his word or works because they are terrible, but fear him for them, and study them on purpose that you may fear and glorifie him: And as David, Psal. 66.3.5. [Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! Through the greatness of thy power shall thy enemies submit themselves [Page 237] unto thee — Come and see the works of the Lord! He is terrible in his doings to­ward the children of men:] Psal. 99.3. [Let them praise thy Great and terrible name, for it is Holy.] And will you reproach God or his word or works, or Ministers, with that which is the matter of his Praise? If it be terrible to hear of the wrath of God, how terrible will it be to feel it? Choose not a state of terror to your selves, and preaching will be less terrible to you. Yield to the san­ctifying work of Christ, and receive his spirit: and then that which is terrible to others, will be comfortable to you. What terror is it to the Regenerate (that knoweth himself to be such) to hear that none but the Regenerate shall be saved? What ter­ror is it to them that mind the things of the spirit, to hear of the misery of a fleshly mind, and that they that live after the flesh shall die? Rom. 8.8.13. The word of God is full of terror to the ungodly: But return with all your hearts to God, and then what word of God speaks terror to you? Truly Sirs, it is more in your power then ours, to make our preaching easie and less terrible to you! We cannot change our do­ctrine, but you may change your state and [Page 236] [...] [Page 237] [...] [Page 236] [...] [Page 237] [...] [Page 242] lives: We cannot preach another Gospel: but you may obey the Gospel which we preach. Obey it and it will be the most comfortable word to you in the world. We cannot make void the word of God: but you may avoid the stroke by penitent submission. Do you think it is fitter for us to change our Masters word, and falsifie the Laws of God Almighty; or for you to change your crooked courses, which are condemned by this word, and to let go the sin which the Law forbid­deth? Its you that must change, and not the Law. Its you that must be conformed to it, and not the Rule that must be crooke­ned to conform to you.

Say not as Ahab of Michaiah, of the Minister: [I hate him, for he prophesieth not Good of me, but Evil,] 1 Kings 22.8. For a Balaam could profess that if the King [would give him his housefull of sil­ver and gold, he could not go beyond the word of the Lord his God, to do less or more] Numb. 22.19. or [to do either good or bad of his own mind] as he after speaks, Chap. 24.13. What good would it do you for a Preacher to tell you a lye and say that you may be pardoned and saved in an im­penitent, unsanctified state? Do you think [Page 243] our saying so, would make it so? Will God falsifie his word to make good ours? Or would he not deal with us as perfidious mes­sengers that had betrayed our trust, and be­lyed him, and deceived yout souls? And would it save or ease an unregenerate man to have Christ condemn the Minister for deceiving him, and telling him that he may be saved in such a state?

Do but let go the odious sin that the word of God doth speak so ill of, and then it will speak no ill of you.

Alas Sirs, what would you have a poor Minister do, when Gods command doth cross your pleasure? and when he is sure to of­fend either God or you? Which should he venture to offend? If he help not the un­godly to know their misery, he offendeth God: If he do it, he offendeth them. If he tell you, that [All they shall be damned that believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.] Your hearts rise against him for talking of Damnation to you: And yet it is but the words of the Holy Ghost, 2 Thes. 2.12. which we are bound to preach! [If he tell you that If ye live af­ter the flesh, ye shall die.] you will be an­gry, (especially if he closely apply it to your selves.) And if he do not tell you so, [Page 240] God will be angry: For it is his express determination, Rom. 8.13. And whose an­ger think you should a wise man choose? or whose should he most resolutely avoid? The anger of the dreadfull God of Heaven, or yours? Your anger we can bear, if there be no remedy; but his anger is in­tolerable. When you have fretted, and fumed, and railed, and slandered us and ou [...] doctrine, we can Live yet; or if you ki [...] the Body, you can do no more: You do but send us before, to be witnesses against you, when you come to judgement. But who can Live, when God will pour out wrath upon him? Numb. 24.23. We may keep your slanders and indignation from our Hearts: but it is the Heart that the Heart-searching God contendeth with: And who can heal the Heart which he will break? You may reach the flesh; but he that is a Spirit, can afflict and wound the Spirit: And a woun­ded spirit (and wounded by him) who can bear? Prov. 18.14. Would you not your selves say he were worse then mad, that would rather abuse the Eternal God, then cross the misguided desires of such worms as you? that would displease God to please you, and sell his Love to purchase yours? Will you be instead of God to us when we [Page 245] have lost his favour? Will you save us from him, when he sendeth for our souls by death, or sentenceth us to Hell by judge­ment? Silly souls! how happy were you, could you save your selves! Will you be our Gods if we forsake our God? What you that are but skinfuls of corruption? that will shortly be choaked with your own filth and flegme, and by your friends be laid to rot in silent undiscerned darkness, lest the loath­some sight or smell of you should annoy them. Blame not God to use them as Ene­mies and Rebels, that will change him for such earthen Gods as you. We have One God, and but One, and he must be obeyed, whether you like or dislike it: There is one Law giver that is able to save and to destroy, Jam. 4.12. and he must be pleased, whether it please your carnal minds or not: If your wisdom now will take the chair, and judge the preaching of the Gospel to be foolishness, or the searching application of it to be too much harshness and severity, I am sure you shall come down ere long, and hear his sentence that will convince you, that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God, and the foolishness of God (as Blasphemy dare call it) is wiser then men, 1 Cor. 3.19. & 1.25. And God will be the final Judge, and his [Page 246] word shall stand when you have done your worst. The worst that the Serpent can do, is but to hiss a while and put forth the sting, and bruise our heel: but Gods day will be the brusing of his head, and Satan shall be bruised under feet, Rom. 16.20.

The Sun will shine, and the light there­of discover your deformities, whether you will or not. And if adulterers or thieves, that love the works of darkness, will do theit worst by force or flattery, they cannot make it cease its shining, though they may shut their eyes, or hide themselves in dark­ness from it light: Faithfull [...]eachers are the Lights of the world, Mat. 5.14. They are not lighted by the Holy Ghost, to be put under a bushell, but on a candlestick, that they may give light to all that are in the house, ver. 15. What would you do with Teachers but to Teach you? And what should they make known to you, if not your selves? Shall not the Physicion have leave to tell you of your diseases?

Verily Sirs, a sinner under the curse of the Law, unsanctified and unpardoned, is not in a state to be jeasted and dallied with, unless you can play in the flames of Hell? Its plain dealing that he needs. A quibbling [...]oyish, flashy Sermon is not the proper me­dicine [Page 247] for a lethargick miserable soul, nor fit to Break a stony Heart, nor to bind up a Heart thats kindly broken. Heaven and Hell should not be talkt of in a canting, juggling, or pedanick strain. A Seneca can tell you that its a Physicion that is skilfull, and not one thats eloquent, that we need. If he have also fine and neat expressions, we will not despise them; nor overmuch value them: urendum, secandum; Its a cure that we need; and the means are best, be they never so sharp, that will accomplish it. Se­rious reverent Gravity best suiteth with mat­ters of such incomprehensible concernment. You set not a School-b [...]y to make an Orati­on, to give an assaulted City an allarm, or to call men out to quench a common fire. You may play with words when the case will bear it: But as dropping of beads is too ludi­crous for one that is praying to be saved from the flames of Hell; so a sleepy, or a hi­strionical starched speech, is too light and unlikely a means to call back a sinner that is posting to perdition; and must be hum­bled and renewed by the spirit, or be for ever damned. This is your case, Sirs: And do you think the playing of a part upon a stage doth fit your case. O no! so great a business requireth all the serious [Page 248] earnestness in the speaker that he can use. I am sure you will think so ere long your selves; And you will then think well of the Preachers that faithfully acquainted you with your case: and (if they suc­ceed to your perdition) you will curse those that smoothed you up in your pre­sumption, and hid your danger, by false doctrine, or misapplication, or seeming to discover it, indeed did hide it, by an hypo­critical light, not serious mention of it. God can make use of clay and spittle to open the eyes of men born blind; and of Rams­horns to bring down the walls of Jericho: But usually he fitteth the means unto the end, and works on man agreeably to his Nature: And therefore if a blind understanding must be enlightned, you cannot expect that it should be done by Squibs and Glowworms, but by bringing into your souls the powerfull ce­lestial truth, which shall shew you the hidden corners of your hearts, and the hid­den mysteries of the Gospel, and the unseen things of the other world. If a hardened heart be to be broken, it is not stroaking, but striking that must do it. It is not the sounding Brass, the tinkling Cymbal, the car­nal mind puft up with superficial knowledge, that is the instrument fitted to the renew­ing [Page 249] of mens souls: But it is he that can acquaint you with what he himself hath been savingly acquainted: The heart is not mel­ted into Godly sorrow, nor raised to the life of Faith and Love, by the bubbles of a frothy wit, or by a game at words, or useless notions; but by the illuminating beams of Sacred Truth, and the attraction of Di­vine displayed Goodness communicated from a mind that by faith hath seen the Glory of God, and by experience found that he is Good, and that liveth in the Love of God: such a one is fitted to assist you first in the knowledge of your selves, and then in the knowledge of God in Christ.

Did you consider what is the office of the Ministry, you would soon know what Mini­sters do most faithfully perform their of­fice, and what kind of Teaching and over­sight you should desire: And then you would be reconciled to the Light: and would choose the Teacher (could you have your choice) that would do most to help you to know your selves, and know the Lord.

I beseech you judge of our work by our Commission, and judge of it by your own Ne­cessities. Have you more need to be ac­quainted with your sin and danger? or to [Page 250] be pleased wich a set of hansome words, which when they are said, do leave you as they found you; and leave no Light and Life and heavenly Love upon your hearts: that have no substance that you can feed upon in the review?

And what our Commission is you may find, in many places of the Scripture, Ezek. 3.18, 19, 20, 21. [When I say unto the Wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thy hand: Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul: — And [If thou warn the righteous man, that the righ­teous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall sure­ly live, because he is warned, also thou hast de­livered thy soul.]

And what if they distaste our doctrine? must we forbear? Verse 11. [Tell them, thus saith the Lord God, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.] So Ezek. 33.1. to 10.

You know what came of Jonah for re­fusing [Page 251] to deliver Gods threatenings against Nineve.

Christs stewards must give to each his portion. He himself threatneth damnation to the impenitent, the Hypocrites, and unbe­lievers, Luke 13.3.5. Mark 16.16. Mat. 24.51. Paul saith of himself [If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ, Gal. 1.10. Patience and meekness is commanded to the Ministers of Christ, even in the instructing of opposers; But to what end? but [that they may escape out of the snare of Devil, who are taken cap­tive by him at his will.] So that with all our meekness we must be so plain with you, as to make you know that you are Satans captives, taken alive by him in his snares, till God by giving you Repentance shall reco­ver you, 2 Tim. 2.25, 26.

The very effice of the Preachers sent by Christ was [to open mens eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may re­ceive remission of sins, and inheritance with the sanctified by faith in Christ,] Acts 26.18. which telleth you, that we must let men understand, that till they are converted and sanctified, they are blind, and in the dark, and in the power of Satan, far from God, [Page 252] unpardoned, and having no part in the in­heritance of Saints.

Christ tells the Pharisees, that they were of their Father the Devil, when they boasted that God was their Father, John 8.44. And how plainly he tels them of their hypocri­sie, and asketh them how they can escape the damnation af Hell, you may see in Mat. 23.

Paul thought it his duty to tell Elymas, Acts 13.10. that he was full of all sub­tilty and mischief, the child of the devil, and the enemy of all righteousness, a per­verter of the right wayes of the Lord. And Peter thought meet to tell Simon Magus, that he had neither part, nor lot in that mat­ter; that his heart was not right in the sight of God; that he was in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, Acts 8.21.23.

The charge of Paul to Timothy is plain and urgent, 2 Tim. 4.1, 2. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and his Kingdom, Preach the word, be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort.] And to Titus chap. 1.13. Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.

Judge now whether Minsters must deal plainly or deceitfully with you: and whe­ther [Page 253] it be the searching healing truth that they must bring you, or a smooth tale that hath no salt or savour in it: And would you have us break these Laws of God, for no­thing but to deceive you, and tell you a [...]ie, and make the ungodly believe that he is godly: or to hide the truth that is necessary to your salvation? Is the Knowledge of your selves so intolerable a thing to you?

Beloved Hearers, either it is true that you are yet unsanctified, or it is not: If it be not, it is none of our desire you should think so: We do all that we can to cure the mistakes of troubled Christians, that think themselves worse then indeed they are. But if it be true, tell me, Why would you not know it? I hope it is not because you would not be remembred of your wo, and so tormented before the time. I hope you think not that we delight to vex mens consciences with fear; or to see men live in grief and trouble, rather then in well grounded peace and joy. And if indeed you are yet unregenerate, that is not long of us that tell you of it, but of your selves that wilfully continue it: Do we make you un­godly by telling you of your ungodliness? Is it we that hinder the forgiveness of your sins, by letting you know that they are [Page 254] not forgiven? O no! We strive for you [...] conversion to this end that your sins may [...] forgiven you; and you hinder the forgi [...]ness of them by refusing to be be convette [...] When God forsaketh stubborn souls [...] resisting his grace, note how he expre [...]seth his severity against them, Mark 4.1 [...]That seeing they may see and not percei [...] and hearing they may hear and not under [...]stand, lest at any time they should be con­verted, and their sins should be forgiven them. You see here, that till they are converted mens sins are not forgiven them. And tha [...] whoever procureth the forgiveness of the [...] sins, must do it by procuring their Conver­sion: And that the hindring of their Con­version is the hindering of their forgiveness ▪ And that blindness of mind is the great hin­derance of conversion: when men do no [...] perceive the very things which they see (not knowing the reason and the sense and end of them, but the out-side only:) No [...] understand the things which they hear: And therefore undoubtedly the Teacher that brings you a Light into your minds, and first sheweth you your selves, and your unconverted and your unpardoned state, i [...] he that takes the way to your Conversion and forgiveness: As the fore-cited Text [Page 255] sheweth you, Acts 18.26. [I send thee to open their eyes, and to turn them from dark­ness to light (that they may first know themselves, and then know God in Jesus Christ) and from the power of Satan, (who ruled them as their Prince, and captivated them as their Jaylor) unto God (whom they had forsaken as a Guide and Governour, and were deprived of as their Protector, Portion and felicity;) that they may receive for­giveness of sins (which none receive but the converted) and an inheritance among them that are sanctified (for Glory is the inheri­tance of the Saints alone, Col. 1.12.) (and all this) through faith that is in me (by believing in me, and giving up themselves unto me, that by my Satisfaction, Merits, Teaching, Spirit, Intercession and Judge­ment, it may be accomplished.)

Truly Sirs, if we knew how to procure your conversion and forgiveness, without making you know that you are uncoverted & unpardoned, we would do it, & not trouble you needlesly with so sad a discovery. Let that man be accounted a butcher of souls, & not a Physicion for them, that delighteth to torment them. Let him be accounted unwor­thy to be a Preacher of the Gospel, that envi­eth you your peace and comfort. We would [Page 256] not have you think one jot worse of your condition then it is. Know but the very truth ▪ what case you are in; and we desire no more▪

And so far are we by this from drivin [...] you to Desperation, that it is your Despe­ration that we would prevent by it; which can no other way be prevented. When you are past Remedy, Desperation cannot be avoided: And this is necessary to your Remedy: There is a conditional Despair, and an Absolute Despair: The former is necessa­ry to prevent the latter, and to bring you to a state of Hope. A man that hath the toothache, may perhaps despair of be­ing eased without drawing the tooth; or a man that hath a gangrened foot may despair of life, unless it be cut off: that so by the cure, he may not be left to an Absolute despair of life. So you must despair of be­ing pardoned or saved without conversion, that you may be converted, and so have hope of your salvation, and be saved from final absolute despair. I hope you will not be of­fended with him, that would perswade you to Despair of living unless you will eat and drink. You have no more reason to be offended with him that would have you despair of being pardoned or saved without Christ, or without his sanctifying Spirit.

HAving said so much of the Necessity of Ministers endeavouring to make [...]nregenerate sinners know themselves, I shall next try what I can do towards it, with [...]hose that hear me, by proposing these few Questions to your consideration.

Quest. 1. Do you think that you were [...]ver unsanctified, and in a state of wrath and condemnation or not? If not, then you are not the off-spring of Adam: you are not then of humane race: For the Scrip­ture telleth you that [We are conceived in sin.] Psal. 51.5. And [That by one man sin en­tred into the world, and Death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned] and that by the offence of one, judge­ment came upon all men to condemnation; Rom 5.12.18. And that [All have sin­ned, and come short of the glory of God.] Rom. 3.23. [If we say that we have no sin, we deceive our selves, and the truth is not in us, 1 John 1.8.10. And the wages of sin is death, Rom. 6.23.

And I hope you will confess that you cannot be pardoned and saved without a Sa­viour; and therefore that as you need a Sa­viour, so you must have a special interest [Page 258] in him. It is as certain that Christ saveth not at all, as that he saveth any: For th [...] same word assureth us of the one, and [...] the other.

Quest. 2. But if you confess that once you were children of wrath, my next Que­stion is, Whether you know how and whe [...] you were delivered from so sad a state? or at least Whether it be done, or not? Perhap [...] you'le say, It was done in your Baptism ▪ which washeth away Original sin. But granting you that all that have a Promise of pardon before, have that promise sealed, and that pardon delivered them by Baptism, I ask you.

Quest. 3. Do you think that Baptism by water only will save, unless you be also bap­tized by the spirit? Christ telleth you the contrary with a vehement asseveration▪ John 3.5. Verily, verily, I say unto thee ex­cept a man be born of water and of the spirit▪ he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.] And Peter tels you that it is [not the put­ting away the filth of the flesh, but the an­swer of a good conscience towards God, 1 Pet. 2.21. If therefore you have not the spirit of Christ, for all your Baptism, you are none of his, Rom. 8.9. For that which is born of the flesh is (but) flesh, and you must be [Page 259] born of the spirit if you will be spiritual, John 3.6.

I shall further grant you, that many receive the spirit of Christ even in their infancy, and may be savingly as well as Sacramentally then Regenerate. And if this be your case you have very great cause to be thankfull for it. But I next enquire of you.

Quest. 4. Have you not lived an unholy carnal life since you came to the use of rea­son? Have you not since then delcared, that you did not live the life of faith, nor walk after the spirit but the flesh? If so, then it is certain that you have need of a Con­version from that ungodly state, what ever Baptism did for you: And therefore you are still to enquire whether you have been converred since you came to age.

And I must needs remember you, that your Infant Covenant made in Baptism, be­ing upon your parents faith and consent, and no [...] your own, will serve your turn no longer then your Infancy, unless when you come to the use of Reason, you renew and own that Covenant your selves, and have a per­sonal faith and Repentance of your own. And whatever you received in Baptism, this must be our next enquiry.

[Page 260]Quest. 5. Did you ever since you came to age upon sound Repentance, and renuncia­tion of the flesh, the world and the devil▪ give up your selves unfeignedly by faith to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; and shew by the performance of this holy Co [...]venant, that you were sincere in the making of it?

I confess it is a matter so hard to most, to assign the time and manner of their Con­version, that I think it no safe way of trial▪ And therefore I will issue all in this one Question.

Quest. 6. Have you the Necessary parts of the New Creature now? though perhaps you know not just when or how it was formed in you? The Question is, Whether you are now in a state of sanctification? and not, Whe­ther you can tell just when you did receive it? He that would know Whether he be a Man, must not do it by remembring when he was born, or how he was formed; but by discerning the Rational nature in himself at present. And though Grace be more observable to us in its enterance, then Nature (as finding, and entering into, [...] discerning subject, which Nature doth not:) Yet it beginneth so early with some, and so obscurely with others, and in others the [Page 261] preparations are so long or notable, that its hard to say when special grace came in. But you may well discern Whether it be there, or not? and that is the Question that must be resolved, if you would know your selves.

And, though I have been long in these exhortations to incline your Wils, I shall be short in giving you those Evidences of the Holy Life, which must be before your eyes while you are upon the trial.

In summ, If your very hearts do now un­feignedly consent to the Covenant which you made in Baptism, and your Lives express it to be a true Consent, I dare say you are re­generate, though you know not just when you first consented.

Come on then, and let us enquire what you say to the several parts of your Baptis­mal Covenant.

1. If you are sincere in the Covenant you have made with Christ. You do resolved­ly Consent, that God shall be your only God, as reconciled to you by Jesus Christ: Which is, 1. That you will take him for your Ow­ner or your Absolute Lord, and give up your selves to him as his Own.

2. That You will take him for your Su­pream Governour, and Consent to be subject [Page 262] to his Government and Laws; taking his Wisdom for your Guide, and his Will for the Rule of your Wills and Lives.

3. That you will take him for your chief­est Benefactor, from whom you receive and expect all your Happiness, and to whom you owe your selves and all, by way of Thankful­ness: And that you take his Love and favour for your Happiness it self, and prefer the Everlasting Enjoyment of his Glorious sight and Love in Heaven, before all the sensual pleasures of the world.

I would prove the necessity of all these by Scripture as we go, but that it is evident in it self; these three Relations being Es­sential to God as our God in Covenant. He is not our God, if not our Owner, Ruler and Benefactor. You profess all this, when you profess but to Love God, or take him for your God.

2. In the Covenant of Baptism you do profess to believe in Christ, and take him for your only Saviour: If you do this in since­rity, 1. You do unfeignedly Beleive the do­ctrine of his Gospel, and the Articles of the Christian faith, concerning his Person, his Offices, and his suffering and works. 2. You do take him unfeignedly for the only Redee­mer and Saviour of mankind, and Give up [Page 263] your selves to be saved by his Merits, Righ­teousness, Intercession, &c. as he hath promised in his word. 3. You trust upon him and his promises, for the attainment of your Reconciliation and Peace with God, your Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, and the Glory of the life to come. 4. You take him for your Lord and King, your Owner and Ruler by the right of Redemption; and your grand Benefactor, that hath obliged you to Love and Gratitude, by saving you from the wrath to come, and purchasing eternal Glory for you, by his most won­derfull condescension, life and suffe­rings.

3. In the Baptismal Covenant, you are engaged to the Holy Ghost. If you are sin­cere in this branch of your Covenant, 1. You discern your sins as odious and dangerous, as the corruption of your souls, and that which displeaseth the most Holy God. 2. You see an excellency in Holiness of Heart and Life, as the Image of God, the rectitude of man, and that which fits him for eter­nal blessedness, and maketh him amiable in the eyes of God. 3. You unfeignedly de­sire to be rid of your sin, how dear soever it hath been to you: and to be perfectly sanctifyed by the Holy Spirit, by his de­grees, [Page 164] in the use of the means which he hath appointed: and you consent that the Holy Ghost as your sanctifier do purifie you and kindle the Love of God in you, and bring it to perfection.

4. In Baptism you profess to renounce the world, the flesh, and the Devil: that is, as they stand for your Hearts against the Will and Love of God, and against the Hap­piness of the unseen world; and against your Faith in Christ your Saviour; and against the sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost. If therefore you are sincere in this part of your Covenant, you do upon deli­beration perceive all the pleasures, profits and honours of this world to be so vain and worthless, that you are Habitually re­solved, to prefer the Love and favour of God, and your salvation before them; and to be Ruled by Jesus Christ and his Spirit and word, rather then by the desires of the flesh, or the worlds allurements, or the will of man, or the suggestions of the devil: and to forsake all rather then forsake the Father, the Saviour, the Sanctifier to whom you are devoted, and the everlasting life which upon his promise you have taken for your Hope and Portion. This is the sense of Baptism, and all this in profession be­ing [Page 165] Essential to your Baptism, must be Essential to your Christianity: Your Pa­rents Profession of it was necessary to your infant title to the outward priviledges of the Church: Your own personal profession is necessary to your continuance of those priviledges, and your visible Christianity and communion with the adult: And the Truth of what you profess, is necessary to your reall Christianity before God, and to your title to salvation: And this is it that is to be now enquired after. You cannot hope to be admitted into Heaven, upon lower terms then the sincerity of that profession with entereth you into the Church: While we tell you of no higher matters necessary to your salvation, then the sincerity of that which is necessary to Baptism and Christianity, I hope you will not say we deal too strictly with you. En­quire now by a diligent tryal of your hearts, whether you truly consent to all these articles of your Baptismal Vow or Co­venant. If you do, you are Regenerate by the Spirit: If you do not, you have but the Sacrament of Regeneration: which aggra­vateth your guilt, as a violated profession and Covenant must needs do. And I do not think, that any man worthy to be dis­coursed [Page 266] with, will have the face to tell you that any man at the use of Reason, is by his Baptism, (or any thing else) in a state of Justification and Salvation, whose heart doth not sincerely consent to the Covenant of Bap­tism, and whose Life expresseth not that con­sent.

Hence therefore you may perceive that it is a thing unquestionable, that all these per­sons are yet unregenerate and in the bond of their iniquity.

1. All those that have not unfeignedly devoted themselves to God, as being not their own but his. His by the title of Creation, Psal. 100.3. [Know ye that the Lord he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we our selves, we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.] And His by the title of Re­demption: for we are bought with a price, 1 Cor. 7.23. And he that unfeignedly taketh God for his Owner, and Absolute Lord, will heartily give up himself un­to him; as Paul saith of the Corinthians, 2 Cor. 8.5. They first gave up their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God.]

And he that entirely giveth up himself to God, doth with himself surrender all that he hath in desire and resolution. As [Page 267] Christ with himself doth give us all things, Rom. 8.32. and addeth other things to them that seek first his Kingdom and its Righteousness, Matth. 6.33. so Christians with themselves do give up all they have to Christ.

And he that giveth up himself to God, will live to God: And he that taketh not himself to be his Own, will take nothing for his Own: but will study the interest of his Lord, and think he is best disposed of when he honoureth him most, and serveth him best, 1 Cor. 6.19.20. [Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price: there­fore glorifie God in your body, and in your spi­rit, which are Gods.

If any of you devote not your selves unfeignedly to God, and make it not your first enquiry, what God would have you be and do, but live to your selves, and yet think your selves in a state of Life, you are mistaken, and do not know your selves. What abundance might easily see their mi­serable condition in this discovery! Who say in effect [our lips are our own: Who is Lord over us? Psal. 12.4.] and rather hate and oppose the interest of God and Holiness in the world, then devote themselves to the promoting of it! Deut. 32.6. [Do ye [Page 268] thus requite the Lord, ye foolish people and un­wise? Is not he thy father that hath bought thee? Hath he not made thee, and established thee?]

2. All those are unregenerate and in a state of death, that are not sincerely subje­cted to the Governing will of God, but are Ruled by their carnal Interest and desires; and the word of a man that can gratifie or hurt them, can do more with them then the word of God: To shew them the com­mand of a man that they think, can undo them if they disobey, doth more prevail with them then to shew them the command of God that can condemn them unto end­less misery: They more fear men that can kill the body, then God that can destroy both soul and body in Hell fire. When the lust of the flesh, and the will of man, do bear more sway then the will of God, its cer­tain that such a soul is unregenerate, Rom. 6.3, 4, 6. Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were bap­tized into his death? therefore we are buried with him by Baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life — Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that hence­forth [Page 269] we should not serve sin,— v. 16. Know ye 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?

1 Pet. 4.4.1, 2. Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm your selves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sin: that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.]

3. All those are unregenerate, that depend not upon God as their chiefest Benefactor: and do not most carefully apply themselves to him, as knowing that in his favour is life, Psal. 30.5. and that his loving kind­ness is better then life,] Psal. 63.3. and that to his judgement we must finally stand or fall: but do ambitiously seek the favour of men, and call them their Benefactors, (Luke 22.25. Matth. 23.9.) whatever become of the favour of God. He is no child of God that preferreth not the Love of God before the Love of all the world. He is no heir of heaven, that preferreth not the fruition of God in Heaven, before all world­ly glory and felicity, Col. 4.1, 2, 3. If ye be risen with Christ, seek the things that are [Page 270] above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.] The Love of God is the summ of Holiness; the Heart of the new creature; the perfecting of it is the perfection and felicity of man.

4. They are certainly unregenerate that Believe not the Gospel, and take not Christ for their only Saviour, and his promises of Grace and Glory as purchased by his Sacrifice and Merits, for the Foundation of their hopes, on which they resolve to trust their souls for pardon and for peace with God, and endless Happiness, Acts 4.12. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other Name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.] 1 John 5.11, 12. This is the record 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.]

When our Happiness was in Adams hands, he lost it: It is now put into safer hands, and Jesus Christ the second Adam is become our Treasury. He is the Head of the Body, from whom each member hath quickning influence, Eph. 1.22. The life of Saints is in him, as the life of the tree is in the root, unseen, Col. 4.3, 4. Holiness is a [Page 271] Living unto God in Christ; Though we are dead with Christ, to the Law, and to the world, and to the flesh, we are alive to God. So Paul describeth our case in his own, Gal. 2.19, 20. I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God: 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,] Rom. 6.11. Likewise reckon ye also your selves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.] Christ is the Vine, and we are the branches: without him we can do nothing: If you abide not in him, and his words in you, you are cast forth as a branch, and withered, which men gather and cast into the fire, and they are burnt,] John 15.1, 5, 6, 7. In Baptism you are married unto Christ, as to the external solemniza­tion; and in spiritual Regeneration your Hearts do inwardly close with him, enter­tain him, and resign themselves unto him, by Faith and Love; and by a resolved Cove­nant become his own: And therefore Bap­tism and the Lords Supper are called Sacra­ments, because as Souldiers were wont by an Oath and listing their names, and other [Page 272] engaging Ceremonies to oblige themselve [...] to their Commanders, and their Vow wa [...] called A Sacrament: so do we engage ou [...] selves to Christ in the holy Vow or Covenan [...] entered in Baptism, and renewed in the Lords Supper.

5. That person is certainly unregenerate that never was convinced of a Necessity of Sanctification, or never perceived an ex­cellency and amiableness in Holiness of heart and life, and loved it in others and desired it himself: and never gave up him­self to the Holy Ghost, to be further san­ctified in the use of his appointed means; desiring to be perfect, and willing to press forward towards the mark, and to abound in grace. Much less is that person renewed by the Holy Ghost, that hateth Holiness, and had rather be without it, and would not walk in the fear and obedience of the Lord.

The Spirit of Holiness is that Life by which Christ quickneth all that are his members. He is no member of Christ that is without it: Rom. 8.9. According to his Mercy, he saveth us by the washing of Re­generation and renewing of the Holy Ghost, Tit. 3.5.

6. That person is unregenerate that is under the Dominion of his fleshly desires, and [Page 273] mindeth the things of the flesh above the things of the Spirit; and hath not morti­fied it so far, as not to live according to it. A carnal mind, and a carnal life, are oppo­site to Holiness, as Sickness is t [...] Health; and Darkness unto Light, Rom. 8.1. to 14. There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, that walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.—For 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. For 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 — For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if by the spirit ye mortifie the deeds of the body, ye shall live.] [Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are, Adultery, Fornicati­on, Ʋncleanness, Lasciviousness, Idolatry, Witchcraft, Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresies, Envyings, Murders, Drunkenness, revellings and such like; of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, [Page 274] Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Good­ness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance: against such there is no Law: And they that are Christs, have crucified the flesh, with the affections, and lusts, Galat. 5.18. to 25.

7. Lastly, that person is certainly unre­generate, that so far valueth and loveth this world, or any of the carnal accommodati­ons therein, as practically to prefer them before the Love of God, and the Hopes of Everlasting Glory: seeking it first, with highest estimation, and holding it fastest; so as that he will rather venture his soul upon the threatned wrath of God, then his body upon the wrath of man; and will be religious no further then may consist with his pro­sperity or safety in the world, and hath something that he cannot part with for Christ and heaven, because it is dearer to him then they: Let this man go never so far in Religion, as long as he goeth fur­ther for the world, and setteth it nearest to his heart, and holds it fastest, and will do most for it, and consequently loveth it better then Christ, he is no true Chri­stian, nor in a state of grace.

The Scriptures put this also out of doubt▪ as you may see, Mat. 10.37, 38. & Luke [Page 275] [...]4.26, 27, 33. He that loveth Father or Mother more then me, is not worthy of me, &c. Whosoever doth not bear his Cross and come after me, cannot be my Disciple. Who­ [...]ver he be of you that forsaketh not all that [...]e hath, he cannot be my Disciple. Know [...]e not that the friendship of the world, is [...]nmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God, [...]am. 4.4. No wonder then if the world must be renounced in our Baptism. [Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world: If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2.15.

You see by this time, what it is to be Rege­nerate, and to be a Christian indeed, by what is contained even in our Baptism: and con­sequently how you may Know your selves, whether you are sanctified, and the heirs of heaven, or not.

Again therefore I summon you to appear before your consciences: and if indeed these Evidences of regeneration are not in you, stop not the sentence, but confess your sinfull miserable state, and condemn your selves, and say no longer, I hope yet that my present condition may serve turn, and that God will forgive me though I should [Page 276] die without any further change: Thos [...] Hopes that you may be saved without re [...]generation, or that you are regenerate whe [...] you are not, are the pillars of Satans for [...]tress in your hearts, and keep you fro [...] the saving Hopes of the Regenerate, tha [...] that will never make you ashamed. Up [...]hold not that which Christ is engage [...] against: Down it must, either by Gra [...] or Judgement: and therefore abuse no [...] your souls by underpropping such an ill-grounded false deceitfull hope. You have now time to take it down so orderly and safely, as that it fall not on your heads and overwhelm you not for ever. But if you stay till death shall undermine it, the fal [...] will be great, and your ruine irreparable▪ If you are wise, therefore Know your selves in time.

II. I have done with that part of my special Exhortation which concern­ed the unregenerate: I am next to speak to those of you that by Grace are brought into a better state: and to tell you, that it very much concerneth you also, even the best of you to labour to be well acquainted with your selves: and that both in respect [Page 277] of 1. Your sins and wants, and 2. Your Graces and your duties.

I. Be acquainted with the root and rem­nant of your sins: with your particular inclinations and corrupt affections: with their quality, their degree and strength: with the weaknesses of every grace: with your disability to duty: and with the omissions or sinfull practises of your lives. Search diligently and deeply; frequently and accurately peruse your hearts and wayes, till you certainly and throughly know your selves.

And I beseech you let it not suffice you that you know your states, and have found your selves in the Love of God, in the faith of Christ, and possessed by his Spirit. Though this be a mercy worth many worlds, yet this is not all concerning your selves that you have to know. If yet you say that you have no sin, you deceive your selves. If yet you think you are past all danger, your danger is the greater for this mistake. As much as you have been humbled for sin: as much as you have loathed it, and your selves for it: as oft as you have confessed it, lamented it, and complained and prayed against it, yet it is alive: Though it be mor­tified, it is alive. It is said to be mortified [Page 276] as to the prevalency and reign, but the re­licts of it yet survive: were it perfectly dead, you were perfectly delivered from it, and might say you have no sin: but it is not yet so happy with you. It will find work for the blood and spirit of Christ, and for your selves, as long as you are in the flesh. And alas, too many that know themselves to be upright in the main, are yet so much unac­quainted with their hearts and lives as to the degrees of grace and sin, as that it much disadvantageth them in their Christian pro­gress. Go along with me in the carefull observation of these following Evils, that may befall even the regenerate by the rem­nants of self-ignorance.

1. The work of Mortification is very much hindered, because you know your selves no better: as may appear in all these fol­lowing discoveries.

1. You confess not sin to God or man so penitently and sensibly as you ought, because you know your selves no better. Did you see your inside with a fuller view, how deeply would you aggravate your sin? How heavily would you charge your selves? Re­pentance would be more intense and more effectual: and when you were more contrite, you would be more meet for the sense of [Page 277] pardon, and for Gods delight, Isa. 51.15. & 66.2. It would fill you more with god­ly shame and self-abhorrence, if you bet­ter knew your selves. It would make you more sensibly say with Paul, Rom. 7.23, 24. [I see another Law in my members warring against the Law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the Law of sin, which is in my members. O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!] And with David, Psal. 38.18. I will declare my iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin, & 40.12. They are more then the hairs of my head, & 32.5. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid: I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.] Repentance is the Death of sin: and the knowledge of our selves ▪ and the sight of our sins ▪ is the life of Repentance.

2. You pray not against sin, for grace and pardon so earnestly as you should, be­cause you know your selves no better. O that God would but open these too-close hearts unto us, and anatomize the relicts of the old man, and shew us all the recesses of our self-deceit, and the filth of worldli­ness, and carnal inclinations that lurk with­in us, and read us a Lecture upon every [Page 280] part; what prayers would it teach us to in­dite! That you be not proud of your holi­ness, let me tell you Christians, that a full dis­play of the corruptions that the best of you carry about you, would not only take down self-exalting thoughts, that you be not lift up above measure, but would teach you to pray with fervour and importunity, and waken you out of your sleepy indifferency, and make you cry, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me! If the sight of a Lazar or cripple or naked person move you to compassion, though they use no words: if the sight of a man that is gasping for want of your relief, will affect you: surely the sight of your own deformities, wants and dangers would affect you if you saw them as they are. How many a sin do you forget in your Confessions that should have a particular Repentance? and how many wants do you overlook in prayers, that should have particular petitions for a mer­cifull supply? And how many are lightly touched, and run over with words of course, that would be earnestly insisted on, if you did but better know your selves! O that God would persuade you better to study your hearts, and pray out of that Book when ever you draw nigh him: that you not might be so [Page 281] like the Hypocrites, that draw near to him with the lips, when their hearts are far from him. To my shame I must confess that my soul is too dry and barren in holy sup­plications to God, and too little affected with my confessed sins and wants: but I am forced to lay all in a very great mea­sure upon the imperfect acquaintance that I have at home; I cannot think I should want matter to pour out before the Lord in confession and petition, nor so much want fervour and earnestness with God, if my Heart and life lay open to my view, while I am upon my knees.

3. It is for want of a fuller knowledge of your selves that you are so negligent in your Christian watch, that you do no better guard your senses; that you make no stricter a Covenant with your eyes, your appetites, your tongues: that you no more examine what you think, affect and say: what pas­seth into your heart or out of it: that you call not your selves more frequently to account; but dayes run on, and duties are carelesly performed as of course, and no daily or weekly reckoning made to consci­ence of all. The knowledge of your weaknesses, and readiness to yield, and of your treacherous corruptions that comply [Page 280] with the enemy, would make you more sus­picious of your selves, and to walk more circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Eph. 5.15. and to look under your feet, and consider your wayes before you were too bold and venturous. It was the conscious­ness of their own infirmity, that should have moved the disciples to watch and pray, Mat. 26.41. [Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is wil­ling, but the flesh is weak.] And all have the same charge, because all have the same infirmity and danger, [What I say to you, I say unto all, Watch,] Mar. 13.37. Did we better know how many advantages our own corruptions give the Tempter, that charge of the Holy Ghost would awake us all to stand to our arms and look about us: 1 Cor. 16.13. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith: quit you like men, be strong:] And Ephes. 6.11, 12, 13, 14. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil: For we wrastle not againts flesh and blood, but against prin­cipalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, &c.] When men know not whose legs they stand upon they grow heedless of their way, and quickly slide.

[Page 291]The knowledge of our selves doth shew us all the advantages of the tempter: what he hath to work upon, and what in us to take his part, and consequently where he is likest to assault us: and so, puts us into so prepared a posture for defence, as very much hindereth his success. But so far as we do not know our selves, we are like blind men in sensing, that the adversary may hit in what part he please: we have so many hid­den enemies in our houses, as will quickly open the door to more. What sin may not Satan tempt a man into, that is not acquainted with the corruptions and frail­ties of his own heart?

4. It is for want of Self-acquaintance that we make not out for help against our sin to Ministers or other friends that could assist us: And that we use the confirming Ordinances with no more care and diligence. All the abilities and willingness of others, and all the helps of Gods appoin [...]ment, will be neglected, when we should imploy them against our sins; so far as self-igno­rance doth keep us from discerning the ne­cessity of them.

5. It is for want of a fuller knowledge of our selves, that many lie long in sins unob­served by themselves: and many are on the [Page 284] declining hand, and take no notice of it. And how little resistance or mortifying endeavours we are like to bestow upon unknown or unobserved sins, is easie to con­ceive. How many may we observe to have notable blemishes of Pride, ostentation, de­sire of preheminence and esteem, envy, malice, self-conceitedness, self-seeking, cen­soriousness, uncharitableness, and such like, that see no more of it in themselves, then is in more mortified men? How ordinarily do we hear the Pastors that watch over them, and their friends that are best ac­quainted with them, lamenting the miscar­riages, and the careless walking and de­clining of many that seem Religious, when they lament it not themselves, nor will not be convinced that they are sick of any such disease, any more then all other Christians are? Hence comes the stifness of too ma­ny [...] all that can be said to [...] them: and that they are [...] reproof, and think repro­vers [...] wrong: and its well if it abate not Christian love, and procure not some degree of hatred or displeasure. Like a man that is entring into a consumption, and takes it for an injury to be told so, till his languishing and decay convince him. [Page 285] Hence it is that we have all need to lament in general our unknown sins, and say with David [Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.] Psalm 19.12. Hence it is that we can seldom tell men of the most discernable faults, but they meet us with excuses, and justifie them­selves.

There are few of us I think, that observe our hearts at all, but find both upon any special illumination, and in the hour of dis­covering tryals, that there were many di­stempers in our hearts, and many miscar­riages in our lives, that we never took no­tice of before. The Heart hath such se­cret corners of uncleanness, such mysteries of iniquity, and depths of deceitfulness, that many fearing God, are strangely un­acquainted with themselves, as to the par­ticular motions and degrees of sin, till some notable providence, or gracious light assist them in the discovery. I think it not un­profitable here to give you some instances, of sin undiscerned by the servants of the Lord themselves that have it, till the light come in that makes them wonder at their former darkness.

In General first observe these two. 1. The secret Habits of sin, being discernable only [Page 284] by some acts, are many times unknown to us, because we are under no strong tempta [...]tion to commit those sins. And its a won­derfull hard thing for a man that hath little or no temptation, to know himself, and know what he should do, if he had the temptati­ons of other men. And O what sad dis­coveries are made in the hour of temptation ▪ What swarms of vice break out in some like vermin that lay hid in the cold of Win­ter, and crawle about when they feel th [...] Summers heat! What horrid corruption which we never observed in our selves be­fore, do shew themselves in the hour o [...] temptation! Who would have though [...] that Righteous Noah had in the Ark [...] such a heart, as would by carelesness [...] into the sin of drunkenness? or that right [...]ous Lot had carried from Sodom the seed [...] drunkenness and incest in him? or th [...] David, a man so eminent in holiness, and a man after Gods own heart, had [...] heart that had in it the seeds of Adultery and Murder? Little thought Peter, when he professed Christ, Mat. 16.16. that the [...] had been in him such carnality and unbe­lief, as would have so soon provoked Christ to say, Get thee behind me Satan, thou art an offense unto me: for thou [...] [Page 285] [...] not the things that be of God, but those that [...] of men, ver. 22.23. And little did he think [...]hen he so vehemently professed his resolu­ [...]on rather to die with Christ then deny him, [...]at there had been then in his heart the [...] that would bring forth this bitter [...]it, Mat. 26.74, 75. Who knows whats [...]rtually in a seed, that never saw the tree, [...] tasted of the fruit?

Especially when we have not only a [...]eedom from temptations, but also the most [...]werful means to keep under vitious habits, [...] hard to know how far they are mortified [...] the root. When men are among those [...]at countenance the contrary vertue, and [...]here the vice is in disgrace, and where [...]xamples of piety and temperance are still [...]efore their eyes: If they dwell in such [...]aces and company, where Authority and [...]riendship and Reason do all take part with [...], and cry down the evil, no wonder [...] the evil that is unmortified in mens hearts, [...]o not much break out to their own or [...]thers observations through all this op­ [...]osition. The instance of King Joash is fa­ [...]o [...]s for this: who did that which was [...]ight in the sight of the Lord, all the dayes [...]f [...]ehojada the Priest that instructed him, 2 Kings 12.2. but after his death, when the [Page 288] Princes of Juda flattered him with their obeysance, he left the house of God and ser­ved Idols, till wrath came upon the land ▪ and was so hardened in sin, as to murde [...] Zechariah the Prophet of God, and [...] of that Jehojada that had brought him out of obscurity, and set him upon the Throne [...] even because he spake in the name of the Lord against his sin; 2 Chron. 24.20, 21, 22.

Who would have thought that it had been in the heart of Solomon, a man so Wise, so Holy, and so Solemnly engaged to God, by his publick professions and works, to have committed the abominations men­tioned, 1 Kings 11.4.?

If you say, that all this proveth not that there was any seed or root: of such a sin in the Heart before: but only that the temptation did prevail to cause the acts first, and then such habits as those acts did tend to; I an­swer; 1. I grant that temptations do not only discover what is in the heart, but also make it worse when they prevail; and that is no full proof that a man had a pro­per habit of sin before, because by temptati­on he commits the act: For Adam sinned by temptation without an antecedent ha­bit. 2. But we know the nature of man to [Page 289] [...]e now corrupted; and that this corruption [...] virtually or seminally all sin, disposing [...]s to all; and that this disposition is strong [...]nough to be called a General Habit. When Grace in the sanctified is called [A Na­ [...]ure] 2 Pet. 1.4. there is the same reason [...]o call the sinfull inclination [a Nature] [...]oo; which can signifie nothing else then [...] strong and rooted inclination. Knowing therefore that the Heart is so corrupted, we may well say when the evil fruit appears, that there was the seed of it before. And the easie and frequent yielding to the tem­ptation, shews there was a friend to sin within. 3. But if it were not so, yet that our hearts should be so frail, so defectible, mutable, and easily drawn to sin, is a part of Self-knowledge necessary to our preser­vation, and not to be disregarded. 4. I am sure Christ himself tells us, that out of the heart proceed the sins of the life, Mat. 15.19. and that the evil things of evil men come out of the evil treasure of their hearts, Mat. 12.36. And when God permitted the fall of good King Hezekiah, the text saith [God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart, 2 Chron. 32.31. that is, that he might shew all that was in his heart, so that the weakness and the re­maining [Page 288] corruption of Hezekiahs hear [...] were shewn in the sin which he committed.

2. And as the sinful Inclinations are har [...] ly discerned, and long lie hid till so [...] Temptation draw them out; so the Act i [...] self is hardly discerned in any of its mali [...] nity, till it be done and past, and the so [...] is brought to a deliberate review. Fo [...] while a man is in the act of sin, either hi [...] understanding is so far deluded, as to think it no sin in its kind, or none to him that then committeth it, or that its better ven­ture on it then not, for the attaining of some seeming good, or the avoiding of some evil: or else the restraining act of the understanding is suspended, and withdrawn; and it descerneth not practically the per­nicious evil of the sin, and forbiddeth not the committing of it, or forbids it so re­misly and with so low a voice, as is drown­ed by the clamour of contradicting passion: so that the prohibition is not heard. And how can it be then expected, that when a man hath not wit enough in use, to see his sin so far as to forbear it, he should even then see it so far as rightly to judge of himself and it? and that when Reason is low, and sensuality prevaileth, we should [Page 289] then have the right use of Reason for self-discerning? When a storm of passion hath blown out the Light, and error hath ex­tinguished it, we are unlikely then to know our selves. When the sensual part is pleasing it self with its fobidden objects, that pleasure so corrupts the judgement, that men will easily believe that it is lawfull, or that it is not very bad: So that sin is usually least known and felt, when it is greatest and in exercise, and one would think should then be most perceptible. Like a phrensie or madness, or other deliration, that is least known when it is greatest and most in act, because its nature is destructive to the Reason that should know it: Like a spot in the eye, that is it self unseen, and hinde­reth the sight of all things else. Or as the deeper a mans sleep is, the less he knoweth that he is a sleep. Somnium narrare vigi­lantis est, saith Seneca. Its men awake that tell their dreams.

And thus you see that through self-igno­rance it comes to pass, that both secret Ha­bits, and the most open acts of sin are oft­times little known. A man that is drunk is in an unfit state to know what drun­kenness is: and so is a man that is in his passion: You will hardly bring him to [Page 292] repentance till it be allaid: And so is a man in the brutifying heat of lust: or in the child­ish use of such recreations as he doteth on [...] or in the ambitious pursuit of his deluding honours: And therefore abundance o [...] unknown sin, may remain in a soul that la­boureth not to be well acquainted with i [...] self.

And as I have shewed you this in Gene­ral, both of Habits and Acts of sin; let us consider of some Instances in particular, which will yet more discover the necessity of studying our selves.

1. Little do we think what odious and dan­gerous errors may befall a person that now is orthodox! What a slippery mutability the mind of man is lyable unto! How vari­ety of representations causeth variety of ap­prehensions: Like some pictures that seem one thing when you look on them on one side, and another thing when on another side; If you change your place; or change your light, they seem to change. Indeed Gods word hath nothing in it thus fitted to deceive: but our weakness hath that which disposeth us to mistakes: We are like an unlearned Judge, that thinks the cause is good which he first hears pleaded for, till he hear the confutation by the other party, and then [Page 293] he thinks the other hath the best cause, till perhaps he hear both so long, till he know not whose cause is the best: The person that now is a zealous lover of the Truth, (when it hath procured entertainment by the happy advantage of friends, acquain­tance, Ministers, Magistrates, or common consent being on its side) may possibly turn a zealous adversary to it, when it loseth those advantages: when a Minister shall change his mind, how many of the flock may he mislead?

When you marry or contract any inti­mate friendship with a person of unsound and dangerous principles, how easily are they received?

When the stream of the times and autho­rity shall change, and put the name of Truth on falshood, how many may be, car­ried down the stream?

How zealous have many been for a faith­full Ministry, that have turned their perse­cutors, or made it a great part of their Re­ligion to revile them, when once they have turned to some Sect that is possest by the malicious spirit! (especially the Papists and Quakers are famous for such language of re­proach: though the former excell the later much in the slandering part, and the later [Page 294] excell in the open bawling and incivility of speech.)

And O that we could stop here, and could not remember you how faithfully and ho­nestly some have seemed to love and obey the word of God, and to delight in the Com­munion of Saints, that by seducers have been brought to deny the divine authority of the Scriptures, and to turn their backs on all Gods publick Ordinances of Worship, and excommunicate themselves from the Society of the Saints, and vilifie or deny the works of the spirit in them! Little did these men once think themselves, whither they should fall, under the conceit of rising high­er: And little would they have belie­ved him that had told them, what a change they would make. Had these men known themselves in time, and known what Tinder and Gunpowder was in their hearts, they would have walkt more warily, and its like have scap't the snare: but they fell into it, because they feared it not. And they feared it not, because they knew not or observed not, how prone they were to be infected.

2. Little do many think in their adversi­ty, or low estate, what seeds are in their hearts, which Prosperity would turn into ve­ry [Page 295] odious, scandalous sins, unless their vi­gilancy, and a special preservation do pre­vent it. Many a man that in his shop, or at his plough, is censuring the great mis­carriages of his Superiors, doth little think how bad he might prove, if he were in the place of those he censureth. Many a poor man that freely talks against the Luxury, Pride and Cruelty of the Rich, doth little think how like them he should be, if he had their temptations and estates. How many persons that lived in good re­pute for humility, temperance and piety, have we seen turn proud, and sensual and ungodly, when they have been exalted! I would mention no mans case by way of insulting or reproach: but by way of compas­sion, and in order to their repentance that survive, I must say that this age hath given us such lamentable instances as should make all our hearts to ake and fear, when we consider the crimes and their ef­fects. Would the persons that once walk't with us in the wayes of Peace and Concord, and Obedience, have believed that man that should have fore-told them twenty years ago, how many should be puffed up and deluded by successes; and make them­selves believe by the ebullition of pride, [Page 296] that Victories authorised them to deny sub­jection to the higher powers, and by right or wrong to take down all that stood in their way, and to take the Government into their own hands, and to depose their right­full Governours? never once vouch­safing to ask themselves the question that Christ asked, Luke 12.14. [Man, who made me a Judge, or a divider over you?] as if authority had been nothing but strength, and he had the best right to Govern that could make the greatest force to compell obe­dience. Little were the seeds of all this evil, discerned in the heart, before prosperi­ty and success did cherish them and bring them to that which with grief we have long observed. They would have said as Hazael, Am I a dog that I should do this? if one had told them before, that when God hath charged every soul to be subject on pain of condemnation, and they had vowed fidelity, they should break all these bonds of commands and vows, and all because they were able to do it: When they would not justifie him that should do any mischief to themselves, and think it warrantable, be­cause he was able: when the Ministers of the Gospel, and their dearest friends bore witness against the sin, the heart could [Page 297] not by all this be brought to perceive its guilt; or that it was any sin to overturn, overturn, overturn, till they had overturned all, and left not themselves a bough to stand upon: And how hardly to this day, do the notable discoverings of God, and the plain­ness of his word, and the continued witness of his servants, prevail for kindly true Repentance! The unrighteous usage of Magistracy and Ministry, and the licentious indulgence of the open enemies and revilers of both, and of all the Ordinances and Churches of the Lord, do proclaim aloud to all that that fear God [The depths and deceits of the heart are wonderfull, and you little think what an hour of temptation may discover in you, or bring you to: oh therefore know your selves, and fear, and watch.]

3. A man that in adversity is touched with penitent and mortifying considerations, and strongly resolveth, how holily and dili­gently he will live hereafter, if he be re­covered or delivered from his suffering, doth ofttimes little think what a treache­rous heart he hath, and how little he may retain of all this sense of sin or duty, when he is delivered, and that he will be so much worse then he seemed or promised, as that [Page 298] he may have cause to wish he had been afflicted still. O how many sick-bed pro­mises are as pious as we can desire, that wither away and come to almost nothing, when health hath scattered the fears that caused them! How many with that great imprisoned Lord, do, as it were, write the story of Christ upon their prison walls, that forget him when they are set liberty! How many are tender-conscienced in a low estate, that when they are exalted, and con­verse with great ones, do think that they may wast their time in idleness and need­less, scandalous recreations, and be silent witnesses of the most odious sins from day to day; and pray God be mercifull to them when they go to the house of Rimmon: and dare scarcely own a down-right servant, or hated and reproached cause of God! O what a preservate would it be to us in pro­sperity, to know the corruption of our hearts, and forsee in adversity what we are in danger of! We should then be less ambitious to place our dwellings on the highest ground; and more fearfull of the storms that there must be expected. How few are there (to a wonder) that grow better by worldly greatness and prosperity? Yea how few that held their own, and grow [Page 299] not worse? And yet how few are there (to a greater wonder) that refuse, or that de­sire not this perilous station, rather then to stand safer on the lower ground! Verily, the lamentable fruits of prosperity, and the mutability of men that make great pro­fessions and promises in adversity, should make the best of us jealous of our hearts, and convince us that there is greater cor­ruption in them, then most are acquainted with, that are never put to such a trial. The height of prosperity shews what the man is indeed, as much as the depth of adversity.

Would one have thought that had read of Hezekiahs earnest prayer in his sickness, and the Miracle wrought to signifie his delive­rance (2 Kings 20.2, 3, 9.) and of his written song of praise, Isa. 38. that yet Hezekiahs heart should so deceive him, as to prove unthankful? You may see by his ex­pressions his high resolutions to spend his life in the praise of God, Isa. 38.19, 20. [The living, the living he shall praise thee, as I do this day: The Fathers to the children shall make known thy truth. The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord!] Would [Page 300] you think that a Holy man, thus rapt up in Gods praise, should yet miscarry, and be charged with ingratitude? And yet in 2 Chron. 32.25. it is said of him [But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him: for his heart was lift­ed up: therefore there was wrath upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem.] And God was fain to bring him to a review, and hum­ble him for being thus lifted up: as the next words shew, ver. 26. Notwithstanding He­zekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart.] O Sirs, what Christan that ever was in a deep affliction, and hath been re­covered by the tender hand of mercy, hath not found how false a thing the heart is, and how little to be trusted in its best reso­lutions, and most confident promises! Heze­kiah still remained a holy faithfull man: but yet thus failed in particulars and de­grees. Which of us can say, who have had the most affecting and engaging deliverances, that ever our hearts did fully answer the purposes and promises of our afflicted state▪ and that we had as constant sensible thanks­givings after, as our complaints and pray­ers were before. Not I; with grief I must say, Not I, though God hath tryed me ma­ny a time. Alas we are too like the de­ [...]itfull [Page 103] Israelites, Psal. 78.34. When he slew [...]em, then they sought him; and they return­ [...] and enquired early after God: and they [...]membred that God was their rock, and the [...] God their Redeemer. Nevertheless they did [...]tter him with their mouth, and they lyed [...]to him with their tongues: For their [...]art was not right with him, neither were [...]ey stedfast in his Covenant. Prosperity oft [...]ews more of the hypocrisie of the unsound, [...] the infirmity of the upright, then ap­ [...]ared in adversity. When we feel the [...] resolutions of our hearts to cast off [...] sin, to walk more thankfully and [...]uitfully and accurately with God then [...] have done, we can hardly believe that [...]er those hearts shoul lose so much of those [...]fections and resolutions as in a little time [...] find they do. Alas how quickly and [...] sensibly do we slide into our former in­ [...]nsibility, and into our dull and heavy [...]uitless course, when once the pain and [...]ar is gone! And then when the next [...]fliction comes, we are confounded and co­ [...]ered with shame, and have not the confi­ [...]ence with God in our prayers and cryes [...]s we had before, because we are consci­ous of our covenant-breaking and back­ [...]liding: and at last we grow so distrustfull [Page 302] of our hearts, that we know not [...] to believe any promises which [...] make, nor how to be confident [...] any Evidence of grace that is in the [...] and so we lose the comfort of our sincer [...] and are cast into a state of too much h [...]viness and unthankfull denyal of our de [...]est mercies: And all this comes from [...] foul unexpected relapses and coolings [...] declinings of the heart that comes not [...] to the promises we made to God in [...] distress.

But if Exaltation be added to Delivera [...] how often doth it make the Reason dru [...] so that the man seems not the same! If [...] see them drowned in Ambition or worl [...] cares or pleasures; if you see how bol [...] they can play with the sin that once th [...] would have trembled at; how powerf [...] fleshly arguments are with them; [...] strangely they now look at plainhea [...] zealous, heavenly Christians, whose [...] they once desired to be in; and how [...] they are ashamed or afraid, to appear [...] for an opposed cause of Christ, or ope [...]ly to justifie the persons that he justifieth▪ As if they had forgot that a day is comi [...] when they will be loth that Christ shou [...] be ashamed of them, and refuse to Justif [...] [Page 303] them, when the grand Accuser is pleading for their condemnation. I say, if you see these men in their prosperity, would you not ask with wonder, Are these the men that lately in distress, did seem so humble, penitent and sincere? that seemed so much above these vanities, that could speak with so much contempt of all the glory and pleasures of the world: and with so much pitty of those vertiginous men, that they now admire.

O what pillars have been shaken by pro­sperity? what promises broken? what sad eruptions of Pride and worldliness? What openings and sad discoveries of heart, doth this alluring charming tryal make! And why is it that men know not themselves when they are exalted, but because they did not sufficiently know themselves, when they were brought low, nor suspe­cted enough the purposes and promises of their hearts, in the day of their di­stress!

4. We would little think, when the Heart is warmed and raised even to Heaven, in ho­ly Ordinances, how cold it will grow again, and how low it will fall down? And when we have attained the clearest sight of our sincerity, we little think how quickly all such [Page 304] apprehensions may be lost: and the mis­judging soul, that reckons upon nothin [...] but what it sees, or feels at present, ma [...] be at as great a loss, as if it had never pe [...]ceived any fruits of the spirit, or lineamen [...] of the Image of God upon it self. Ho [...] confident upon good grounds is [...] an honest heart of its sincerity? How ce [...]tain that it desireth to be perfectly Holy ▪ 1. That it would be rid of the nearest deare [...] sin. 2. That it loves the Saints, 3. That [...] loves the light of the most searching Mini [...]stry. 4. And loveth the most practical sanct [...]fying truths. 5. And loves the Ministry [...] means that have the greatest and most power [...]full tendency to make themselves more [...] (all which are certain evidences of since [...]rity.) How clearly may the Heart percei [...] all these, and write them down; and [...] ere long have lost the sight and sense [...] them all, and find it self in darkness an [...] confusion, and perhaps be perswaded th [...] all is contrary with them! And when they read in their Diary, or Book of Heart ac [...]counts, that at such a day in examination they found such or such an Evidence, and such a one at another, and many at a third▪ yet now they may be questioning whether all this were not deceit, because it seem [...] [Page 305] [...]ontrary to their present sight and feeling! [...]or it is present light that the mind discern­ [...], by, and not by that which is past and [...], and of which we cannot so easily [...]dge by looking back. They find in their [...]ccounts, At such a time I had my soul [...]larged in ptayer; and at such a time I [...]as full of Joy, and at another time I had [...]rong assurance, and boldness with God, [...] confidence of his love in Christ, and [...]oubted not of the pardon of all my sins, [...] the Justification or acceptance of my [...]erson: But now, no Joy, no Assurance, no [...]oldness, or confidence, or sense of Love [...]nd pardon doth appear; but the soul [...]emeth dead and carnal and unrenewed: [...]s the same trees that in Summer are beau­ [...]fied with pleasant fruits and flowers, in Winter are deprived of their natural orna­ments, and seem as dead, when the life is [...]etired to the root. The soul that once [...]ould have defied the Accuser, if he had [...]old him that he did not Love the brethren, [...]or Love the sanctifying word and means, [...]or desire to be Holy, and to be free from Sin, is now as ready to believe the accu­sation, and will sooner believe the tempter, [...]hen the Minister that watcheth for them [...] one that must give account: Yea now [Page 306] it will turn the Accuser of it self, and [...] as Satan, and falsly charge it self with th [...] which Christ will acquit it of. (And [...] Christ be put to Justifie us against our selv [...] as well as against Satan?) The same wo [...] that a well composed believer hath in co [...]futing the calumnies of Satan, the sa [...] hath a Minister to do in confuting the fa [...] accusations of disturbed souls against the [...] selves. And how subtile! how obstina [...] and tenacious are they! as if they [...] learned some of the Accusers art; such [...] the uncharitable and malicious are, agai [...] their neighbours, in picking quarrels wi [...] all that they say or do, in putting the wo [...] construction upon all, in taking ever [...] thing in the most uncharitable sense, in a [...]gravating the evil, & extenuating the goo [...] in faining things against them that they [...] not guilty of, and denying or hiding all that commendable; just such are poor disquiete [...] souls against themselves: so unjust, and [...] censorious, as that if they dealt as ill [...] others, they would have the more cause fo [...] some of these accusations of themselves.

And there is not a soul so high in jo [...] and sweet assurance, but is lyable to fa [...] as low as this. And it makes our case to [...] much more grievous then otherwise it woul [...] [Page 307] be, because we know not our selves in the hour of our Consolations, and think not how apt we are to lose all our joy, and what seeds of doubts and fears and grief [...]re still within us, and what cause we have [...]o expect a change. And therefore when [...]o sad a change befalleth us, so contrary [...]o our expectations, it surprizeth us with [...]error, and casteth the poor soul almost [...]nto despair. Then cryeth the distressed [...]nner, [Did I ever think to see this [...]ay! Are my hopes and comforts come to [...]his! Did I think so long that I was a child [...]f God, and must I now perceive that he [...]isowneth me! Did I draw near him as [...] my Father, and place my hope in his [...]elief! and now must my mouth be stopt with [...]nbelief, and must I look at him afar off, [...]nd pass by the doors of mercy with despair! [...]s all my sweet familiarity with the godly, [...]nd all my comfortable hours under the pre­ [...]ious means of grace, new come to this?] O how the poor soul here calls it self [...] O vile apostate, miserable sinner! O that [...] had never lived to see this gloomy day! It [...]ad been better for me never to have known [...]he way of righteousness, then thus to have [...]lapsed; and have all the prayers that I [...]ave put up, and all the Sermons I have [Page 308] heard, and the books that I have read, [...] aggravate my sin and misery.] O how ma [...]ny a poor Christian in this dark mis-judge [...]ing case, is ready with Job, to curse the da [...] that he was born, and to say of it, Let it [...] darkness, let not God regard it from abo [...] neither let the light shine upon it: Let it [...] be joyned to the dayes of the year: let it [...] come into the number of the moneths:— [...]cause it shut not up the doors of the womb, [...] hid not sorrow from mine eyes. Why dy [...] I not from the womb? Why did I not give [...] the ghost when I came out of the belly? [...] did the knees prevent me, or why the [...] that I should suck? For now should I ha [...] lain still and been quiet — Wherefore is lig [...] given to him that is in misery and life [...] the bitter in soul: which long for death, [...] it cometh not —which rejoyce [...]ceedingly, and are glad when they [...] find the grave. Why is light given [...] man whose way is hid, and whom God ha [...] hedged in! Job 3. Such are the lamentatio [...] of distressed souls that lately were as in th [...] arms of Christ. Their lives are a burde [...] to them; their food is bitter to them▪ their health is a sickness to them: their l [...]berty is as a prison to them; their deare [...] relations are become as strangers; and [...] [Page 309] their comforts are turned into sorrows; and the world seems to them as a howling wil­derness; and themselves as desolate for­saken souls. They are still as upon the Cross, and will own no titles, but Vile, un­worthy, lost, undone, forlorn and desolate; As if they had learnt no words from Christ, but [My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!

And much of this comes from the Ig­norance of our selves in the time of Peace and Consolation. We are as David, Psal. 30.6, 7. that saith [In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved: Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: But thou hidedst thy face and I was troubled.] One frown of God, or withdrawing the light of his countenance from us, would quickly turn our day into night, and cover as with sack-cloth, and lay us in the dust.

Take warning therefore dear Christians, you that are yet in the Sun-shine of mercy, and were never at so sad a loss, nor put to groap in the darkness of mistake and ter­ror. No man is so well in health, but must reckon on it that he may be sick. When you feel nothing but peace and quietness of mind, expect a stormy night [Page 310] of fears, that may disquiet you: When you are feasting upon the sweet entertain­ments of your Fathers Love, consider that feasting is not like to be your ordinary dyet, but harder fare must be expected. Look on poor Christians in spiritual di­stress with compassion: hear their sad complaints, and the bills for Prayer which they here put up, and joyn in hearty prayer for them, and remember that this may prove your case. If you say, To what purpose should you know before hand, how subject you are to this falling sickness? I answer, Not to anticipate, or bring on your sorrows; but if it may be to prevent them: or if that may not be, at least to prevent the extremity and terror, and to be provided for such a storm. When you are now in health of body, and not disabled by melancholy or other corruptions of your fantasie, or passion, nor overwhelm­ed with the troubles of your mind, you have leisure calmly to understand the case of such mis-judging and distressed souls: and accordingly you may avoid the things that cause it: and you may be furnished with right principles, and with promises, and experiences, and recorded evidences of grace, and when comfort is withdrawn, [Page 311] you may by such provision understand, that God changeth not, nor breaks his Covenant, nor abates his Love, when your apprehensi­ons change: And that this is no sign of a forsaken soul: and that the ceasing of our feast, and withdrawing of the table is not a turning us out of the family. Expect some sicknesses, and you will the better know the use of the Physicion, and will lay up promises, and prepare your cordials: and this will prove an exceeding ease, when the hour of your tryal comes.

And what I have said of the loss of com­fort, may be said also of the diminished and interrupted operations of all grace. We little think in the vigor of our holy pro­gress, what falls and swonnings and lan­guishings we may find. When you have access with boldness in prayer unto God, and lively affections and words at will, and comfortable returns, remember that you may come to a sadder case; and that many a true Christian hath such withdrawings of the spirit of prayer, as makes them think they are possessed with a dumb devil, and question whether ever they prayed accep­tably at all, and cannot so much as observe the groanings of the spirit in them, Rom. 8.26.

[Page 312]When you are warm and vigorous in the work of God; and find delight in all the ordinances, remember that you are sub­ject to such sicknesses as may take away your appetite, and make you say, I have no mind to hear, or read or pray: me thinks I feel no sweetness in them! I was wont to go up with comfort to the house of God: I was glad when the Lords Day was come, or nigh: It did me good to see the faces of the Saints: O the meltings, the strivings, the lively workings of soul that I have had in their sweet communion! when they have preached and prayed as full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: But now I do but force my self to duty: I go to pray­er as against my will: I feel small relish in the word of life.] O how many Chri­stians that little thought of such a day, cry out that spiritual Death is upon them: that they are Dead to prayer, and dead to meditation, and dead to holy conference: and that once they thought they were dead to the world, and now they find they are dead to God. Understand before that you are lyable to this, and you may do much to prevent it: and if you should fall into a sickness and loss of appetite, you may be able to difference it from death.

[Page 313]When you are sweetly refreshed at the Table of the Lord, and have there received a sealed pardon as from Heaven into your bosoms, and have found delightfull enter­tainment with the Lord, remember that the day may come, when dulness and unbe­lief and fears may so prevail, as to make that an Ordinance of greatest terror to you, and you may sit there in trembling, lest you should eat and drink your own dam­nation: and you may go home in fears lest Satan have there taken possession of you, or lest it have sealed you up to wrath: or you may fly from that feast which is your due, and Christ invites you to, through fears lest it belong not to you, and should but harden you more in sin: For, alas, this sad and sinfull case, is too oft the case of true believers, that little fear­ed it in their spiritual prosperity. So that the very high expectations of such workings of soul, which they cannot oft or ordina­rily reach, and the frustrating of those expectations, doth so often turn the Table of the Lord into the bitterness of worm­wood, into distracting fears and troubles, that I cannot tell whether any other part of worship occasion so much distress to many that are upright at the heart, as this [Page 314] doth, which is appointed for their special consolation.

So when you are clear and vigorous in the Life of faith, and can abhor all temptati­ons to unbelief, and the beams of sacred Verity in the Scriptures have shewed you that it is the undoubted word of God, and you have quietly bottomed your soul on Christ, and built your hopes upon his promises, and can with a cheerfull con­tempt let go the world for the accom­plishment of your hopes; remember yet that there is a secret root of unbelief remaining in you, and that this odious sin is but imperfectly mortified in the best: and that its more then possible that you may see the day when the tempter will assault you with questionings of the word of God, and trouble you with the injecti­ons of blasphemous thoughts, and doubts, whether it be true or not! and that you that have thought of God, of Christ, of Heaven, of the Immortal state of souls, with joy, and satisfied confidence, may be in the dark about them, affrighted with ug­ly suggestions of the enemy, and may think of them all with troublesome distra­cting doubts, and be forced to cry with the Disciples, Luke 17.5. Lord increase [Page 315] our faith: And as he Mark 9.24. Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief. Yea worse then so: some upright souls have been so amazed and distracted by the Tempter, and their distempered hearts, as to think they do not believe at all, nor yet are able sincerely to say, Lord, help thou my unbelief.] When yet at that time, their Fears and their abstaining from iniquity shew, that they Believe the Threatnings, and therefore indeed believe the word. Now if we did but throughly know our selves, when faith is in its exercise and strength, and consider whither the secret seeds of remaining unbelief may bring us, being fore-warned, we should be fore-ar­med, and should fortifie our faith the bet­ter, and be provided against these sad assaults: And if the malignant spirit be suffered to storm this fortress of the soul, we should more manfully resist: and we should not be overwelmed with horror as soon as any hideous and blasphemous temptations do assault us; (when Christ himself was not exempted from the most blasphemous temptation, even the worship­ping of the Devil instead of God: though in him there was no sinfull disposition to entertain it, Mat. 4.9.10. John 14.30.)

[Page 316]O watch and pray, Christians, in your most prosperous and comfortable state! Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation: For you little think what is yet within you: and what advantage the deceiver hath, and how much of your own to take his part, and how low he may bring you both in point of Grace and Peace, though he cannot damn you.

I am troubled that I must tell you of so sad a case, that even the children of God may fall into, lest by troubling you with the opening of your danger, I should do any thing to bring you into it. But because self-ignorance and not being before hand acquainted with it, may do much more, I have timely shewed you the danger with the remedy.

5. Another instance of the darkness even of a Heart that in part is sanctified, is in the successes of the temptations of Adversity. When we want nothing, we think we value not the world, and we could bear the loss of all. But when poverty or danger comes, what trouble and unseemly whining is there, as if it were by a worldling that is deprived of his Idol, and all the portion that ever he must have. And by the shame­full moan and stir that we make for what [Page 317] we want, we shew more sinfull overvaluing of it, and love to it, then before we ob­served or would believe. O how confi­dently and piously have I heard some inveigh against the Love of the world, as if there had been no such thing in them; who yet have been so basely dejected, when they have been unexpectedly stript of their estates, as if they had been quite un­done!

How patiently do we think we could bear affliction, till we feel it! And how easily and piously can we exhort others unto patience, when we have no sense of what they suffer! But when our turn is come, alas, we seem to be other men. Suffering is now another thing; and Patience harder then we ima­gined. And how inclinable are we to heark­en to temptations, to use sinfull means to come out of our sufferings! Who would have thought that faithfull Abraham should have been so unbelieving as to equivocate in such a danger, and expose the chastity of his wife to hazzard, as we read in Gen. 12.12, 13, 19.? And that he should fall into the same sin, again on the same occa­sion, Gen. 20. to Abimelech, as before he had done with Pharaoh! And that Isaac should after him fall into the same sin, in [Page 318] the same place! Gen. 26.7. The Life o [...] Faith doth set us so much above the fear of man, and shew us the weakness and no [...]thingness of mortal worms, and the faith [...]fulness and al-sufficiency of God, that o [...] would think the frowns and threatnings [...] a man should signifie nothing to us, wh [...] God stands by, and giveth us such amp [...] promises and security for our confirm [...]tion and encouragement: And yet wh [...] base dejectedness, and sinfull compliance [...] are many brought to through the fear [...] man, that before the hour of this temp [...]tation, could talk as couragiously as any▪ This was the case of Peter, before mentio­ned: and of many a one that hath wounde [...] conscience, and wronged their profes­sion by too cowardly a disposition: which if it were fore-known, we might do more for our confirmation, and should betake our selves in time to Christ in the use of means for strength. Few turn their backs on Christ, or a good cause in time of tryal, that are jealous of themselves before hand, and afraid lest they should forsake him: Few fall that are afraid of falling: But the self-ignorant and self-confident are care­less of their way, and it is they that fall.

[Page 319]6. Another instance that I may give you, [...], in the unexpected appearances of Pride [...] those that yet are truly humble. Hu­ [...]ility speaks in their confessions, aggrava­ [...]ng their sin, and searching heart and life [...]r matter of self-accusation: They call [...]hemselves Less then the least of all Gods [...]ercies: They are ready with the woman of Canaan, Mat. 15.27. even to own the name [...]f dogs, and to confess themselves unworthy [...]f the childrens crums, and unworthy to [...]read upon the common earth, or to [...]reath in the air, or to live upon the pati­ [...]nce and provisions of God: They will [...]pend whole hours, and dayes of humilia­ [...]ion, in confessing their sin, and bewail­ [...]ng their weaknesses and want of grace, [...]nd lamenting their desert of misery: They [...]re oft cast down so much too low, that they dare not own the title of Gods chil­dren, nor any of his special grace, but take themselves for meer unsanctified hardened sinners: and all that can be said will not convince them that they have any saving interest in Christ: nor hinder them from pouring out unjust accusations against themselves. And all this is done by them in the uprightness of their hearts, and not dissemblingly. And yet would you think, [Page 320] that with all this Humility, there should be any pride? and that the same person should lift up themselves and resist the [...] helps to further Humiliation? Do the [...] think in their dejections, that it is in the [...] hearts so much to exalt themselves? I co [...]fess many of them are sensible of the Pride, even to the increase of their humili [...]ty: and as it is said of Hezekiah, do humb [...] themselves for the pride of their hearts, [...] that Gods wrath doth not come upon them 2 Chr. 32.26. But yet too few are so we [...] acquainted with the power and rootedness o [...] this sin at the heart, and the workings o [...] it in the hour of temptation, as they should be. Observe it but at such time [...] as these, and you will see that break forth▪ that before appeared not. 1. When [...] are undervalued and slighted, and meane [...] persons preferred before us, and when our words and judgements are made light of, and our parts thought to be poor and low ▪ when any blot of dishonour is cast upo [...] us, deserved or undeserved; when we are slandered or reproached, and used with despight: what a matter do we make of it, and how much then doth our Pride appear in our distaste and offence, and im­patience! so that the same person that can [Page 321] [...]our out words of blame and shame against himself, cannot bear half as much from [...]thers without displeasure and disquietness of mind. It would help us much to know [...]his by our selves in the time of our hu­mility, that we may be engaged to more watchfuless and resistance of our pride.

2. When we are reproved of any dis­gracefull sin, how hardly goes it down, and how many excuses have we? how seldom are we brought to downright penitent confessions? What secret distaste is apt to be rising in our hearts, against the re­prover! And how seldom hath he that hearty thanks which so great a benefit de­serves! And would any think in our hu­milations and large confessions unto God, that we were so proud! To know this by our selves, would make us more suspicious and ashamed to be guilty of it.

3. When any preferment or honour is to be given, or any work to be done that is a mark of dignity, how apt are we to think our selves as fit for it as any, and to be displeased, if the honour or employment do pass by us!

4. When we are admired, appladed, or excessively esteemed and loved, how apt are we to be too much pleased with it? [Page 322] which sheweth a proud desire to be some body in the world: and that there is much of this venom at the bottom in our hearts even when we lay our selves in the dust and walk in sackcloth, and pass the heavi [...]est judgement on our selves.

7. Another instance of our unacquain­tedness with our hearts, and the latent un­discerned corruption of them, is, our littl [...] discerning or bewailing those secret master sins, which lie at the root of all the rest, and are the life of the old man, and the cause of all the miscarriages of our lives▪ As 1. Ʋnbelief of the truth of the holy Scriptures, of the immortality of the soul, and the life of joy or misery hereafter, and the other Articles of the Christian faith: What abundance of Chri­stians are sensible of their unbelief as to the applying acts of faith that tend to their assurance of their own salvation, that are little sensible of any defect in the Assenting act, or of any secret root of un­belief about the truth of the Gospel re­velations: And yet, alas, it is this that weakeneth all our graces: It is this that feedeth all our wo! O happy men were we free from this! What prayers should we put up! What lives should we lead! how [Page 323] [...]atchfully should we walk! with what [...]ntempt should we look on the allure­ [...]ents of the world! with what dis­ [...]in should we think on fleshly lusts! [...]th what indignation should we meet the [...]mpter, and scorn his base unreasonable [...]otions, if we did but perfectly believe the [...]ry truth of the Gospel, and world to come! [...]ow carefull and earnest should we be, to [...]ake our calling and election sure! How [...]reat a matter should we make of sin, and [...]f helps and hinderances in the way to [...]eaven! How much should we prefer that [...]ate of life that furthereth our salvation, [...]efore that which strengtheneth our snares [...]y furthering our prosperity and plea­ [...]ure in the world, if we were not weak or [...]anting in our belief of the the certain [...]erity of these things? Did we better know [...]he badness of our hearts herein, it would engage us more in fortifying the vitals, and [...]ooking better to our foundation, and wind­ [...]ng up this spring of faith, which must give life to all right motions of the soul.

2. How insensible are too many of the great imperfection of their love to God! What passionate complaints have we of their want of sorrow for their sin, and want of me­mory, [Page 324] and of ability to pray, &c. when their complaints for want of Love to God, and more affecting knowledge of him, are so col [...] and customary, as shews us they little ob­serve the greatness of this sinfull want▪ This is the very heart, and summ, and poy [...]son of all the sins of our soul and life. S [...] much as a man Loves God, so much he i [...] Holy: and so much he hath of the spiri [...] and image of Jesus Christ: and so much he hath of all saving graces: and so much he will abhor iniquity, and so much he wil [...] love the commands of God. As Love is the summ of the Law and Prophets, so should it be the summ of our care and study through all our lives to excercise and strengthen it.

3. How little are most Christians trou­bled for want of Love to men! (to Bre­thren, neighbours and enemies) how cold are their complaints for their defects in this, in comparison of other of their com­plaints! But is there not cause of as deep humiliation for this sin, as almost any other? It seems to me that want of Love is one of the most prevalent diseases among us, when I hear it so little seriously lamen­ted. I oft hear people say, O that we could hear more attentively and affectio­nately, [Page 325] and pray more fervently, and weep for sin more plenteously: But how seldom do I hear them say, O that we did love our Brethren more ardently, and our Neighbours and Enemies more heartily then we do, and set our selves to do them good! There is so little pains taken to bring the heart to the Love of others, and so few and cold re­quests put up for it, when yet the heart is backward to it, that makes me conclude that Charity is weaker in most of us then we observe. And indeed it appeareth so when it comes to tryal: to that tryal which Christ will judge it by at last, Mat. 25. When Love must be shewed by any self-denyal, or costly demonstration, by parting with our food and rayment, to supply the wants of others, and by hazarding our selves for them in their distress, then see how much we Love indeed! Good words cost little: so cheap an exercise of charity as is men­tioned, Jam. 2.15, 16. [Depart in peace, be warmed, and filled] is an insufficient evi­dence of the life of grace; and will do as little for the soul of the giver, as for the Body of the receiver. And how little ha­zardous or costly Love is found among us, either to enemies, neighbours, or to Saints! Did we better know our hearts, there would [Page 326] be more care and diligence used to bring them to effectual fervent Love, then to those duties that are of less importance; and we should learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, Mat. 9.13. & 12.7. which Christ sets the Pharisees twice to learn. More instances of great­est duties extenuated I might add, but I proceed.

8. Another instance of unobserved cor­ruption of the heart, is, The frequent and secret insinuations of selfishness in all that we do toward God or man: When we think we are serving God alone, and have cleansed our hearts from mixtures and deceit, before we are aware, self-interest, or self-esteem, or self conceit, or self-love, or self-will, or self-seeking do secretly creep in and marr the work. We think we are studying and preaching, and writing purely for God, and the common good, or the benefit of souls; and perhaps little observe how subtilly self­ishness insinuates, and makes a party, and byasseth us from the holy ends, and the simplicity and sincerity which we thought we had carefully maintained: so that we are studying and preaching, and writing for our selves, when we take no notice of it.

When we enter upon any office, or de­sire [Page 327] preferment, or riches, or honour in the world, we think we do it purely for God, to furnish us for his service, and little think how much of selfishness is in our de­sires.

When we are doing Justice, or shewing mercy, in giving alms, or exhorting the un­godly to repent, or doing any other work of Piety or Charity, we little think how much of selfishness is secretly latent in the bent and intention of the heart.

When we think we are defending the truth and cause of God, by disput­ing, writing, or by the sword; or when we think we are faithfully main­taining on one side order and obedience against confusion and turbulent disquiet spi­rits, or the Ʋnity of the Church against division; or on the other hand that we are sincerely opposing Pharisaicall corruptions and hypocrisie, and tyrannie, and persecu­tion, and are defending the purity of Di­vine worship, and the power and spirituali­ty of religion; in all these cases we little know how much of carnal self may be secretly unobserved in the work.

But above all others, Christ himself, and the Holy Ghost that searcheth the hidden things of the heart, hath warned one sort [Page 328] to be suspicious of their hearts; and that is, those that cannot bear the dissent and in­firmities of their brethren in tolerable things, and those that are calling for fire from heaven, and are all for force and cruelty in religion; for vexing, imprisoning, ba­nishing, burning, hanging, or otherwise doing as they would not be done by, pro­portionably in their own case. He tells his two Disciples, in such a case] Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, Luke 9.55. As if he should say, You think you purely seek my honour in the revenge of this contempt and opposition of unbelievers, and you think it would much redound to the propagation of the faith: and therefore you think that all this zeal is purely from my spirit: But you little know how much of [...] proud, a carnal, selfish spirit is in these de­sires! You would fain have me and your selves with me to be openly vindicated by fire from heaven, and be so owned by Go [...] that all men may admire you, and you may exercise a dominion in the world; and you stick not at the sufferings and ruine of these sinners, so you may attain your end: but [...] tell you this selfish cruel spirit, is unlike my spirit which inclineth to patience, for [...]bearance and compassion.

[Page 329]So Rom. 14.1, 2, &c. & 15.1, 2. Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye — who art thou that judgest another mans servant? Why dost thou judge thy brother, and why dost thou set at nought thy brother? We shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. — Every one of us shall give account of himself to God — We then that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please our selves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. So Gal. 6.1, 2. Bre­thren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thy self lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one anothers burden, and so fulfill the Law of Christ.]

So also men are fouly and frequently mistaken, when they are zealously contend­ing against their faithfull Pastors and their brethren, and vilifying others, and quench­ing love, and troubling the Church, upon pretence of greater knowledge or integrity in themselves: which is notably discovered and vehemently prest by the Apostle, James 3.1, &c. where you may see how greatly the judgement of the spirit of God con­cerning our hearts doth differ from mens judgement of themselves. They that [Page 330] had a masterly, contentious, envious zeal, did think they were of the wiser sort of Christians, and of the highest form in the School of Christ; when yet the Holy Ghost telleth them that their wisdom descended not from above, but was earthly, sensual and divelish, and that their envy and strife doth bring confusion, and every evil work: and that the wisdom from above is neither unholy nor contentious, but first pure, and then peaceable, gentle and easie to be entreated, Jam. 3.17.

You see then how oft and dangerously we are deceived, by unacquaintedness with our selves; and how selfish carnal princi­ples, ends and motives are oft mixed in the actions which we think are the most ex­cellent for wisdom, zeal, and piety that ever we did perform. O therefore what cause have we to study, and search, and watch such hearts, and not too boldly or carelesly to trust them!

And it is not only Hypocrites that are subject to these deceitfull sins, who have them in dominion, but true Believers that have a remnant of this carnal self­ish principle continually offering to in­sinuate and corrupt their most excellent works, and even all that they do.

[Page 331]9. The strong eruption of those passions that seemed to be quite mortified, doth shew that there is more evil lurking in the heart, then ordinarily doth appear. How calm­ly do we converse together? how mildly do we speak? till some provoking word or wrong do blow the coals, and then the dove appeareth to partake of a fiercer nature, and we can perceive that in the flame, which we perceived not in the spark. When a provocation can bring forth censorious, reviling, scornfull words, it shews what be­fore was latent in the heart.

10. We are very apt to think those affe­ctions to be purely spiritual, which in the issue appear to be mixed with carnality. Our very love to the Assemblies and ordinances of worship, and to Ministers, and other ser­vants of the Lord; to Books, and Know­ledge; are ordinarily mixt; and good and bad are strangely complicate, and twisted together in the same affections and works. And the Love that beginneth in the spirit, is apt to degenerate into carnal Love, and to have too much respect to Riches, or Ho­nour, or personage, or birth, or particular concernments of our own, and so it is cor­rupted, as Wine that turneth into Vinegar, before we are aware. And though still [Page 332] there be uprightness of heart, yet too much Hypocrisie is joyned with it, when it is little perceived or suspected.

And thus in ten Instances I have shewed you how much the servants of Christ them­selves may be mistaken or unacquainted with their hearts; and how the work of mortification is hindered by this covering of so many secret unobserved sins.

But I must here desire you to take heed of running into their extream, who here­upon conclude that their hearts being so dark and so deceitfull, are not at all to be understood; and therefore they are still so suspicious of the worst, as that they will not be perswaded of the grace that plain­ly worketh in them, and will condemn themselves for that which they are not guilty of, upon suspicion that they may be guilty and not know it: and think that all the sin that they forbear, is but for want of a Temptation; and that if they had the same Temptations, they should be as bad as any others.

I would intreat these persons to consi­der of these truths, for their better infor­mation. 1. Temptations do not only shew the evil that is in the heart, but breed much more, and turn a spark into a flame; as the [Page 333] [...]iking of the steel upon the flint doth by [...]e collision and tinder, make fire where was [...]ne. Adam was made a sinner by temp­tion.

2. There is no Christian so mortified, but [...]th such remnants of corruption and con­ [...]piscence as would quickly bring forth [...]ynous sins, if Temptations beyond strength [...]ere let loose upon him. What need you [...]re proof then the sad instances of [...]oah, Lot, David, Solomon and Peter? It [...]d not prove that any of these were [...]aceless hypocrites before, because they fell fouly by Temptations. And yet these [...]bjectors think they are graceless, because [...]me strong Temptation might make them [...]ll.

3. It is not Gods way of saving men, to [...]ve them so much inward Grace as no Temp­ [...]tion can overcome, but to preserve and [...]ing them safe to heaven, by moral sapi­ [...]tial conduct, together with internal [...]hanges of their hearts. And therefore he [...]epeth men from sin, by keeping them from Temptations that are too strong for them. [...]ll humane strength is limited. And there [...]e none on earth have such a measure of [...]race, but a Temptation may be imagined [...] strong as to overcome them. And if [Page 334] God should let Satan do his worst, the [...] must be extraordinary assistances to pr [...]serve us, or we should fall. Bless God he lead you not into Temptation, but deli [...] you from the Evil, by keeping you [...] enough from the snare. This is the [...] of preservation that we are taught to [...] and hope for.

4. And therefore it is our own duty [...] keep as far from Temptations as we ca [...] and if we have Grace to avoid the sin [...] avoiding the Temptation, we have such Gr [...] as God useth for the saving of his ow [...] Not that he hath saving grace that wo [...] live wickedly if he were but tempted to [...] by those ordinary tryals that humane [...]ture may expect: But the soul that p [...]ferreth God and Glory before the pleasures [...] sin for a season, if it so continue, shall [...] saved, though possibly there migh have [...] a Temptation so strong as would have co [...]quered the measure of grace that he ha [...] if it had not been fortified with new supplie [...] ▪ It is therefore more dotage in those th [...] could find in their hearts to put themselv [...] upon some Temptation, to try whether the [...] are sincere by the success. Avoid temptat [...]on, that you may avoid the sin and punis [...]ment. Make not your selves worse on pr [...]ence [Page 335] of discovering how bad you are. Put [...]ot Gunpowder or fuell to the sparks of [...]orruption that still remain in you, on [...]retence of trying whether they will burn. [...]ll men are defectible, and capable of every [...], and must be saved from it by that Grace [...]hich worketh on nature according to that [...]ature, and prevaileth with Reason by [...]eans agreeable to Reason. If we think [...]e are wicked, because we find that we [...]ave hearts that could be wicked, were they [...] alone, and because we are not removed [...] far from sin as to be uncapable of it, we [...]ay as well say Adam was wicked in his [...]nocency: much more David, Solomon and [...]eter before their falls. It is not he that [...]an sin that shall be punished: but he that [...]th sin, or would sin if he could, and had [...]ther have the sin for its Pleasure or Com­ [...]odity to the flesh, then be free from it, and [...] Holy, in order to salvation, and the fa­ [...]our and pleasing and enjoying of God in [...]ndless Glory.

5. Lastly, Let such persons try themselves by [...]heir conquest over the Temptations which [...]hey have, and not by imaginary conflicts with all that they think may possibly at any [...]ime assault them. You have still the same [...]esh to deal with, and the same world and [Page 336] devil that will not let you go to heaven with­out Temptation: If the Temptations which you have already, keep you not from pre [...]ferring the Love and fruition of God befor [...] the Pleasure of the Flesh; and a life of fait [...] and Holiness, before a life of infidelity an [...] impiety and sensuality, so that you ha [...] rather live the former then the latter, I a [...] sure then your Temptations have not kep [...] you from a state of grace. And you ma [...] be assured, that for the time to come, [...] you watch and pray, you may escape th [...] danger of temptation; and that God wil [...] increase your strength if he increase you [...] tryals: Be not secure, be you never so Holy ▪ Think not that you have nature that can­not sin, or cannot be tempted to a love [...] sin: But let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is moderate, or com­mon to man: but God is faithfull, who wil [...] not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation als [...] make a way to escape, that ye may be able t [...] bear it, 1 Cor. 10.13.

And thus I have shewed you how self-ig­norance hindereth the conquest and morti­fying of sin, even in the Godly, and now shall add some further motives.

[Page 337]2. Not knowing our selves, and the se­ [...]ret corruptions of our hearts, doth make sin surprize us the more dangerously, and break forth the more shamefully, and wound our consciences the more terribly. The unsuspected sin hath lest opposition, and when it breaks out doth like an unobserv­ed fire, go far before we are awakened to quench it. And it confoundeth us with shame, to find our selves so much worse then we imagined. It overwhelmeth the soul with despairing thoughts to find it self so bad, when it thought it had been better. It breedeth endless suspicions and fears, when we find our former opinions of our selves confuted, and that contrary to our expe­ctations we are surprized where we thought we had been safe: we are still ready to think what ever we discern that is good within us, that we may as well be mistaken now as we were before. And thus our present self-ig­norance when discovered, may hinder all the comforts of our lives.

3. Lastly, not knowing our selves, and our particular sins and wants, and weak­nesses, doth keep us from a particular ap­plication of the promises, and from seeking those particular Remedies from Christ, which our case requireth: and so our mer­cies [Page 338] lie by neglected, while we need them an [...] do not understand our need.

And thus I have shewed you why yo [...] should labour to know your sinfulness.

II. I am next to perswade Believers t [...] know their Graces and their hap [...]piness. Good is the object of voluntar [...] knowledge: but Evil of forced involuntar [...] knowledge, unless as the knowledge of ev [...] tendeth to some Good. Therefore methink you should be readyest to this part of th [...] study of your selves. And yet, alas, th [...] presumptuous are not more unwilling t [...] know their sin and misery, then some per [...]plexed Christians are backward to acknow­ledge their Grace and Happiness. How har [...] is it to convince them of the tender love of God towards them, and of the sincerity o [...] their Love to him? and to make them believe that they are dear to God when they loa [...] themselves! how hard is it to perswade the [...] that the Riches of Christ, the promises of the Gospel, and the Inheritance of the Saints, be­long to them! And the Reasons among other [...] are principally these.

1. The remnants of sin are so great, and so active and troublesome, as that the feeling of these contrary dispositions doth hinder [Page 339] [...]hem from observing the operations of [...]race. It is not easie to discern the sin­ [...]erity of Faith among so much unbelief, [...]r the sincerity of Love where there is so [...]uch aversness: or of Humility where [...]here is so much pride: or of Repentance [...]nd Mortification, where there is so much [...]oncupiscence and inclination to sin: Espe­ [...]ally when grace by its enmity to sin doth [...]ake the soul so suspicious and sensible of [...] ▪ as that the observation of it turns their [...]ind from the observation of the contrary [...]od that is in them. Health is not obser­ [...]ed in other parts, when the feeling of the [...]one, or but a tooth-ache takes us up. The [...]oughts are called all to the part affected; [...]nd sickness and wounds are felt more sen­ [...]bly then Health. The fears of misery by [...], are easilyer excited, and are more pas­ [...]onate, then Love and Hope, and all the af­ [...]ctions that are imployed in the prose­ [...]ution of good. And in the midst of Fears [...] is hard to feel the matter of our Joyes. [...]ear is a tyrant if it exceed, and will not [...]ermit us to believe or observe the cause [...]f Hope. Quod nimis metuunt miseri, hoc [...]cile credunt, & nunquam amoveri putant, [...]ith Seneca, What we too much fear, we too [...]sily believe, and hardly believe that it is [Page 340] gone, and the danger past. These fears are usefull to our preservation: but they too often pervert our judgements, and hinde [...] our due consolation. Qui insidias timet, i [...] nullas incidet: nec cito perit ruina, q [...] ruinam timet. Semper metuendo sapiens vi [...]tat malum, saith Seneca. He that feare [...] snares, doth not fall into them: Nor doth [...] quickly perish by ruine, that feareth ruine: [...] wise man escapeth evil by alwayes fearing it. And the Holy Ghost saith, Prov. 28.14. Hap­py is the man that feareth alwayes, but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.]

Moderate Fears then are given to Be­lievers for their necessary preservation ▪ that walking among enemies and snares, they may take heed and scape them. But when this passion doth exceed, it abuseth us▪ and drowns the voice of Reason: It mak­eth us believe that every temptation is a sin, and every sin is such as cannot stand with grace, and will hardly ever be pardoned by Christ. Every sin against knowledge and conscience, doth seem almost unpardonable: and if were deliberate after profession of re­ligion▪ it seems to be the sin against the Ho­ly Ghost. As children and other frightfull persons that fear the Devil by way of Ap­paritions, do think in the dark he is ready [Page 341] to lay hold on them, and they look when they see him: so the fearful Christian, as still thinking that thing he feareth is upon him, or coming upon him. The fear of an unrgenerate unpardoned state, doth make him think he is in it; and that the fear of the wrath of God doth make him think that he is under it; and the fear of dam­nation makes him imagine he shall be dam­ned. It is wonderfull hard in a frightfull state, or indeed in any passion that is strong, to have the free use of Judgement for the know­ing of our selves, and to discern any grace, or evidence or mercy, which is contrary to our fears; Especially when the Feeling of much corruption, doth turn our eyes from the observation of the good, and we are still taken up with the matter of our disease.

2. Another cause that we hardly know our Graces, is, because they are weak and small; and therefore in the midst of so much corruption are oft-times hardly dis­cerned from none. A little faith even as a grain of mustard seed, may save us: A lit­tle Love to God that is sincere, will be accepted; and weak Desires may be fulfil­led: But they are frequently undiscerned, or their sincerity questioned by those that have them; and therefore bring but little [Page 342] comfort. Peters Little faith did keep him from drowning, but not from doubting and fearing he should be drowned, nor from beginning to sink, Mat. 14.29, 30, 31. He walked on the water to go to Jesus; but when he saw the wind boisterous he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cryed saying, Lord save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, where­fore didst thou doubt!] So the Little faith of the Disciples kept them from perishing, but not from their fear of perishing, Mat. 8.24, 25, 26. When a great tempest arose, so that the ship was covered with waves, they cry, Lord save us, we perish: and he saith to them, Why are ye afraid, O ye of little faith? The little faith of the same Disci­ples entitled them to the Fatherly protection and provision of God: but it kept them not from sinfull cares and fears, about what they should eat or drink, or wherewith they should be cloathed, as is intimated in Mat. 6.25, 28, 30. Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or drink, or for your body what you shall put on — Why take ye thought for rayment? — If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not [Page 343] much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? So in Mat. 16.7, 8. The seed that Christ likeneth his kingdom to, Mat. 13.31. hath life while it is buried in the earth, and is visible while a little seed; but is not so observed as when it cometh to be as a tree. Though God despise not the day of little things, Zech. 4.10. and though he will not break the bruised reed, or quench the smoak­ing flax, Isa. 42.3. yet our selves or others cannot discern and value these obscure be­ginnings, as God doth. But because we cannot easily find a little faith and a little Love when we are looking for it, we take the non-ap­pearance for a non-existence, and call it none.

3. Sanctification is oft unknown to those that have it, because they do not try and judge themselves by sure infallible Marks, the Essentials of the new man; but by uncer­tain qualifications, that are mutable, and be­long but to the beauty and activity of the soul.

The Essence of Holiness as denominated from the object, is the Consent to the three Articles of the Covenant of Grace. 1. That we give up our selves to God as our God and Reconciled Father in Jesus Christ. 2. That we give up our selves to Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Saviour, to recover us, recon­cile us and bring us unto God. 3. That we [Page 344] give up our selves to the Holy Ghost as our Sanctifier, to guide and illuminate us, and perfect the Image of God upon us, and pre­pare us for Glory.

The Essence of Sanctification as deno­minated from its opposite objects, is nothing but our Renunciation and Rejection of the flesh, the World, and the Devil, of Pleasures, Profits and Honours, as they would be pre­ferred before God, and draw us to forsake him.

The Essence of Sanctification as denomi­nated from our Faculties which are the sub­ject of it, is nothing but this preferring of God, and Grace, and Glory above the said Pleasures, Profits and Honours. 1. By the Estimation of our Ʋnderstandings: 2. By the Resolved habituate Choice of our Wills. 3. And in the bent and drift of our Endea­vours in our Conversations. In these three Acts, as upon the first three objects, and against the other three objects, lyeth all that is Essential to Sanctification, and that we should judge of our sincerity, and title to salvation by, as I before shewed.

But besides these there are many desire­able qualities and gifts, which we may seek for, and be thankfull for; but are not Es­sential to our Sanctification. Such are [Page 345] 1. The knowledge of other Truths besides the Essentials of Faith and duty; and the sound­ness of judgement and freedom from error in these lesser points.

2. A strong memory to carry away the things that we read and hear.

3. A right order of our Thoughts, when we can keep them from Confusion, roving and distraction.

4. Freedom from too strong affections about the creatures, and from disturbing passions.

5. Lively Affections and feeling operations of the soul towards God, in holy duty: and tender meltingt of the heart for sin: which are very desireable, but depend so much on the temperature of the body, and outward accidents, and are but the vigor and [...]ot the Life and being of the new crea­ture, that we must not judge of our since­rity by them. Some Christians scarce know what any such lively feelings are: and some have them very seldom, and I think, no one, constantly: and therefore if our Peace, or Judgement of our selves, be laid on these, we shall be still wavering and unsetled, and tost up and down as the waves of the sea; Sometimes seeming to be almost in Heaven, and presently near the gates of Hell: When [Page 346] our state doth not change at all as these feelings and Affectionate motions of the soul do; but we are still in our safe Relation to God, while our first Essential graces do con­tinue; though our failings, dulness, weak­nesses and wants, must be matter of moderate filial humiliation to us.

6. The same must be said of all common Gifts, of utterance in conference or pray­er, and of quickness of understanding and such like.

7. Lastly, the same must be said also of all that rectitude of life, and those degrees of obedience that are above meer sincerity: in which one true Christian doth exceed ano­ther; and in which we should all desire to abound; but must not judge our selves to be unsanctified meerly because we are imper­fect; or to be unjustified sinners, meerly be­cause we are sinners.

In our judging of our selves by our Lives and Practices two extreams must be carefully avoided: On the left hand that of the Prophane, and of the Antinomians; The former cannot distinguish between sinners and sinners, sanctified and unsancti­fied, Justified and unjustified sinners; and when they have once conceited that they are in the favour of God, whatever they [Page 347] do, they say, we are but sinners, and so are the best. The latter teach men, that when once they are justified, they are not for any sins to doubt again of their Justified state, lest they should seem to make God change­able.

On the other hand must be avoided this extream of perplexed doubting Christians, that make all their sins, or too many of them, to be matter of doubting, which should be but matter of humiliation.

I know it is a very great difficulty that hath long perplexed the Doctors of the Church, to define what sins are consistent, and what inconsistent with a state of Holi­ness and Salvation, (which if any distinguish by the names of Mortal and Venial, taking the words in no other sense, I shall not quarrell with them.) At the present I shall say but this for the resolving of this great and weighty question.

1. It is not the bare Act of sin in it self considered, that must determine the case: but the Act compared with the Life of Grace, and with true Repentance. Whoever hath the Love of God and Life of Grace, is in a state of Salvation: And therefore what­ever sin consisteth with the fore-described Essentials of Sanctification, (viz. The Ha­bituall [Page 348] devotion of the soul to God, the Fa­ther, Son and Holy Ghost, and the Habitual renunciation of the Flesh, ehe World and De­vil) consisteth with a state of life. And true Repentance proveth the pardon of all sin: And therefore whatever sin consisteth with Habitual Repentance, (which is the Hatred of sin as sin,) and hath Actual Re­pentance when it is observed, and there is time of deliberation, consisteth with a state of Grace. Now in Habitual Conversion or Repentance, the Habitual Willingness to leave our sins, must be more then our sinfull Ha­bitual Willingness to keep it. Now you may by this, much discern as to particular acts, whether they are consistent with Ha­bitual hatred of sin. For some sins are so much in the power of the will, that he that hath an Habitual hatred of them, cannot frequently commit them; And some sins are also of so heynous a nature or degree, that he that Habitually hateth sin, cannot fre­quently commit them: nor at all, while his Hatred to them is in Act: And he that truly Repenteth of them, cannot frequently return to them: because that sheweth that Repentance was indeed either but Superfi­ [...]ial, or not Habitual. But some sins are not so great and heynous, and therefore do not [Page 349] [...]o much deterr the soul, and some are not so fully in the power of a sanctified will (as [...]assions, thoughts, &c.) and therefore may [...]fter be committed in consistency with Ha­ [...]itual Repentance or Hatred of sin. To ex­ [...]mine particulars, would be tedious and digressive.

2. And I must further answer, that our [...]afety, and consequently our Peace and [...]omfort lieth in flying as far from sin as we [...]an: And therefore he that will sin as much [...]s will consist with any sparks of Grace, shall [...]ury those sparks by his sin, and shall not know that he hath any Grace, nor have the comfort of it; as being in a condition unfit for Actual assurance and comfort till he be brought to Actual Repentance and amend­ment.

Thus I have shewed you, by what you must try your sanctification, if you will know [...]t: which I before proved to you from Scripture: and further may do, when the occasion will excuse me from the imputa­tion of disproportion and unseasonableness, [...]n repeating the proofs of all that we speak in Explication or Application of the prin­cipal point.

4. Another cause that many Christians are ignorant of their state of Grace, is their [Page 350] looking so much at what they should be, an [...] what others are that have a high degree [...] grace, and what is commanded as our duty that they observe not what they have already because it is short of what they ought [...] have. We are thus too much about o [...]ward mercies too. We mourn more [...] one friend that is dead, then we rejoyce [...] many that are alive: We are more trouble for one mercy taken from us, then comfort [...] in many that are left us. We observe [...] diseases and our sores more sensibly then [...] health. David for one Absalon is so afflicte [...] that he wished he had dyed for him ▪ though a rebell! when his comfort in So [...]lomon and his other children is laid aside▪ As all the humours flow to the pained place, so do our thoughts as was aforesaid, and so we overlook the matter of our com­fort.

5. And it very much hindereth the know [...]ledge of our Graces, that we search upon [...] great disadvantages as hinder a true disco­very. Among many others, I will instance but in two or three. 1. We surprize our souls with sudden questions, and look for a full and satisfactory answer, before we ca [...] well recollect our selves, and call up our evidences; and we expect to know the [Page 351] summ or product, before our consciences have had leisure deliberately to cast up their [...]ccounts. Yea when we have set to it, and [...]y diligent search with the best assistances, [...]ave discovered our sincerity, and recorded the judgement, if Conscience cannot present­ [...]y recall its proofs, and make it out upon every surprize, we unjustly question all [...] past, and will never rest in any judge­ment, but are still calling over all again, as [...]f the cause had never been tryed. And [...]hen the judgement passeth according to [...]ur present temper and disposition, when ma­ny of the Circumstances are forgotten, and many of the witnesses are out of the way, that last assisted us.

2. Perhaps we judge (as I said before) in the fit of a passion, of fear or grief, which [...]mperiously over-ruleth or disturbeth rea­son. And then no wonder if in our haste we say that all men that would comfort us are [...]yars. And if with David, Psal. 77.2, 3, 7, 8, 9. in the day of our trouble, our souls do even refuse to be comforted, and if we re­member God and are troubled more, and if our spirit be overwhelmed in us: when he holdeth our eyes waking, and we are so trou­bled that we cannot speak: and if we questi­on whether the Lord will cast off for ever, and [Page 352] will be favourable no more: whether [...] mercy be clean gone for ever, and his pro­mise fail for evermore? Whether he hath forgotten to be gracious, and hath shut up [...] tender mercies in displeasure? till a cal [...] deliver us from the mistake, and make [...] say, [This is our infirmity] We thin [...] that God doth cast off our souls, and hide [...]eth his face from us; when our soul is fu [...] of troubles, and our life draweth nigh [...] the grave; When we are afflicted and rea [...] to die from our youth up, and are distracted while we suffer the terrors of the Lord: [...] he complaineth Psalm 88.3.14, 15, 16▪ Passion judgeth according to its nature, an [...] not according to truth.

3. Or perhaps we judge, when ou [...] friends, our memory and other helps are [...] of the way, and we are destitute of [...] assistance.

4. Or when our Bodies are weak or distem­pered with Melancholy, which representet [...] all this in black and terrible colours to th [...] soul, and will hear no language but [for­saken, miserable, annd undone.] You may a [...] well take the judgement of a man ha [...] drunk, or half asleep, about the greate [...] matters of your lives, as to take the judge­ment of Conscience in such a state o [...] [Page 353] [...]isadvantage, about the condition of your [...]ouls.

6. Another hinderance to us is, that we [...]annot take comfort from the former sight of [...]race that we have had, unless we have a con­ [...]inued present sight. And so all our labour in [...]rying, and all our experiences, and all Gods former manifestations of himself to [...]he soul are lost, as to our present comfort, when over Grace is out of sight. Like fool­ [...]sh travailers that think they are out of [...]he way, and are ready to turn back, when ever any hill doth interpose, and hinder them from seeing the place they go to. As if it were no matter of comfort to us, to say, I did find the Evidences of Grace: I once recorded a judgement of my sincerity: But the former is still questioned rather then the later. When with David we should con­sider the dayes of old, the years of antient times, and call to remembrance our songs in the night, and commune with our hearts in such a diligent search, and remembrance of the mercies formerly received, Psal. 77.5, 6, 7.

7. Lastly, the operations of mans soul are naturally so various, and from corrup­tion are so confused and so dark, that we are oft-times in a maze and at a loss, when [Page 354] we are most desirous to judge aright: an [...] scarce know where in so great disorder [...] find any thing that we seek; and know [...] not when we find it: so that our hearts [...] almost as strange to themselves as to one a [...]ther; and sometime more confident of oth [...] mens sincerity then our own, where th [...] is no more matter for our confidence.

HAving thus shewed you the Causes [...] our Ignorance of our Sanctification I shall briefly tell you some Reasons th [...] should move you to seek to be acquainte [...] with it, where it is.

1. The knowledge of God is the most exce [...]lent knowledge: and therefore the best sor [...] of creature knowledge is, that which hath the most of God in it. And undoubtedly the [...] is more of God in Holiness which is his Image then in common things. Sins and [...] have nothing of God in them: They must be fathered on the Devil and your selves. An [...] therefore the knowledge of them is goo [...] but by Accident; because the knowledg [...] even of evil, hath a tendency to good. An [...] therefore it is commanded and made ou [...] duty, for the good which it tendeth to. It is the Divine nature, and Image within you [Page 355] which hath the most of God; and therefore [...]o know this, is the high and noble know­ [...]edge. To know Christ within us, is our [...]appiness on earth, in order to the know­ [...]edge of him in Glory face to face, which is [...]he happiness of heaven. To know God [...]hough darkly through a glass, and but in [...]art, (1 Cor. 13.12.) is far above all crea­ [...]ure knowledge. The knowledge of him [...]aiseth, quickneth, sanctifieth, enlargeth [...]nd advanceth all our faculties. It is life [...]ternal to know God in Christ, John 17.3. Therefore where God appeareth most, there [...]hould our understandings be most di­ [...]igently exercised in study and observa­ [...]ion.

2. It is a most delightfull felicitating knowledge, to know that Christ is in you. [...]f it be delightfull to the Rich to see their wealth, their houses, and lands and goods [...]nd money: and if it be delightfull to the Honourable to see their attendance, and hear their own commendations and ap­plause; how delightfull must it be to a true Believer to find Christ within him, and to know his title to eternal life? If the knowledge of full barns, and much goods laid up for many years, can make a sensual worlding say, Soul take thy ease, eat, drink [Page 356] and be merry, Luke 12.19, 20. Me think [...] the knowledge of our interest in Christ an [...] heaven, should make us say, [Thou hast [...] gladness in my heart, more then in the ti [...] that their corn and wine increased, (that [...] more then corn and wine could put in [...] theirs) Psal. 4.7. [Return unto thy Rest, [...] soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully wi [...] thee, Psal. 116.7.] If we say with Davi [...] [Blessed are they that dwell in thy house they will be still praysing thee,] Psal. 84. [...] much more may we say, [Blessed an [...] they in whom Christ dwelleth, and the Hol [...] Ghost hath made his Temple:] they should [...] still praising thee, [Blessed is the [...] whom thou choosest, and causest to appro [...] unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: [...] shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house even of thy holy Temple, Psal. 65.4. But this [...] upon supposition, that he be first Blessed by Christs approach to him, and dwelling in hi [...]

If you ask, How it is that Christ dwelle [...] in us; I answer, 1. Objectively, as he is ap [...]prehended by our Faith and Love: As th [...] things or persons that we think of, and Lov [...] and delight in, are said to dwell in our [...] or hearts. 2. By the Holy Ghost, who [...] a principle of new and heavenly Life, [...] given by Christ the Head unto his members [Page 357] and as the Agent of Christ doth illuminate, sanctifie and guide the soul. [He that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in him, and he in him: and hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the spirit which he hath given us, 1 Joh. 3.24. That of Eph. 3.17. may be taken in either, or both senses comprehen­sively, That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.]

3. Did you know that Christ is in you by his spirit, it might make every place and con­dition comfortable to you! If you are alone, it may rejoyce you to think what company dwelleth continually with you in your hearts. If you are wearied with evil company without, it may comfort you to think that you have better within; when your have communion with the Saints, it is your joy to think that you have nearer communion with the Lords of Saints. You may well say with David, Psal. 139.18. [when I awake I am still with thee.] Psal. 16.8. I have set the Lord alwayes before me: because he is at may right hand, I shall not be moved.

4. Did you know Christ within you, it would much help you in believing what is written of him in the Gospel. Though to the ungodly the mysteries of the Kingdom of God do seem incredible: yet when you [Page 358] have experience of the power of it on your souls, and find the Image of it on your hearts, and the same Christ within you con­forming you to what he commandeth in his word, this will work such a sutableness to the Gospel in your hearts, as will make the work of faith more easie. Saith the Apo­stle, 1 Joh. 4.14, 16. [We have seen & do testifie that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world (there's their out­ward experience) And we have known and believed the Love that God hath to us: God is Love; and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him: (There is their Faith confirmed by their inward evidence: N [...] wonder if they that have God dwelling [...] them by holy love, do believe the love [...] God hath to them.) This is the great advan­tage that the sanctified have in the work [...] faith above those that much excell them [...] disputing, and are furnished with more Ar­guments for the Christian verity; Christ hath his witness abiding in them. The fruits of the spirit bear witness to the incorruptible [...] the word of God that liveth and abideth for ever, 1 Pet. 1.23. The impress on the [...] heard witness to the seal that caused i [...] [...] it is not a weak & uneffectual Argument for the Truth of the Gospel that Believer [...] to [Page 359] fetch from within, when they plead the ef­fects of it on their souls. Labour to know the Truth of your sanctification, that you may be confirmed by it in the Truth of the word that sanctifieth you, Joh. 17.17. and may rejoice in him that hath chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth, 2 Thes. 2.13.

5. If you can come to the knowledge of Christ within you, it will be much the easier to you to trust upon him, and fly to him in all your particular necessities, and to make use of his Mediatorship with holy confi­dence. When others flie from Christ with trembling, and know not whether he will speak for them, or help them, or have any regard to them, but look at him with strange and doubtful thoughts, it will be otherwise with you that have assurance of his continual Love and presence. Near­ness breedeth familiarity, and overcometh strangness: Familiarity breedeth confi­dence, and boldness: when you find Christ so [...]er you, as to dwell within you, and so particular and abundant in his Love to you, as to have given you his spirit, and all his Graces, i [...] will breed a sweet delightful bold­ness ▪ and make you [...] to him as your help and refuge, in all your necessities. When [Page 360] you find the great promise fulfilled to your selves [I will put my Law in their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more] you will [have boldness to enter into the Holyest by the blood of Jesus; by the new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high Priest over the house of God, you may draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having your hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, (or the conscience of evil) as your bodies are washed (in baptism) with pure water] Heb. 10.16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. [In Christ we may have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him] Eph. 3.12. This intimate acquaintance with our great High Priest, that is passed into the Heavens, and yet abideth and reigneth in our hearts, will encourage us to hold fast our profession, and to 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. When by unfeigned Love, we [know that we are of the truth, and may assure our hearts before him, and our Heart condemneth us not, then we have confidence towards God; and what­ever we ask we receive of him, because we [Page 361] keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight, 1 Joh. 3.18, 19, 20, 21, 22.

6. When once you know that you have Christ within you, you may cheerfully pro­ceed in the way of Life; when doubting Christians that know not whether they are in the way or not, are still looking behind them, and spend their time in perplexed fears, lest they are out of the way, and go on with heaviness and trouble, as uncertain whether they may not lose their labour: and are still questioning their groundwork, when the building should go on. It is an unspeakable mercy, when a believing Soul is freed from these distracting hindering doubts, and may bodily and cheerfully hold on his way, and be walking or working, when other men are fearing and enquiring of the way; and may with patience and comfort wait for the reward, the [...]rown of life, when others are still questioning whe­ther they were ever regenerate, and whether their hopes have any ground. We may be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, when we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord, 1 Cor. 15.58. We may then gird up the l [...]ins of the mind, and in sobriety hope unto the end, [Page 362] for the grace that is to be brought us, at the Revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 1.13.

7. When you are assured that you have Christ within you, it may preserve you from those terrors of soul that affright the [...] that have no such assurance. O he th [...] knoweth what it is to think of the intole­rable wrath of God, and says, I fear I [...] the object of this wrath, and must bear th [...] intolerable lead everlastingly,] may know [...] what a mercy it is to be assured of our es­cape. He that knows what it is to think of Hell, and say, [I know not but those endless flames may be my portion,] will know what a mercy it is to be assured of deli­verance, and to be able to say, I know I am saved from the wrath to come, 1 Thes. 1.10. And that we are not of them th [...] draw back to perdition, but of them that be­lieve to [...]he saving of the soul, Heb. 10.39. And that God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who dyed for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him:] We may comfort our selves together and edifie one another, when we have this as­surance, 1 Thes. 5.9, 10, 11.

[Page 363]They that have felt the burden of a wounded spirit and know what it is to feel the terrors of the Lord, and to see Hell fire as it were before their eyes, and to be kept wak­ing by the dreadful apprehensions of their danger, & to be pursued daily by an accusing conscience, setting their sins in order before them, and bringing the threatnings of God to their remembrance, these persons will un­derstand that to be assured of a Christ within us, and consequently of a Christ that is preparing a place in glory for us, is a mercy that the mind of man is now unable to va­lue according to the ten thousandth part of its worth.

8. Were you assured that Christ himself is in you, it would sweeten all the mercies of your lives: It would assure you that they are all the pledges of his love: And love in all, would be the Kernel and the Life of all: your friends, your health, your wealth, your deliverances, would be steeped in the dearest Love of Christ, and have a spiritual sweetnss in them, when to the worldling they have but a carnal, unwholsome, lusci­ous sweetness; and to the doubting Christi­ans they will be turned into troubles, while they are questioning the Love and meaning of the giver, and whether they are sent for [Page 364] good to them, or to aggravate their condem­nation; and the Company of the Giver will advance your estimation of the gift. Mean things with the company of our dear­est friends are sweeter then abundance in their absence. To have money in your purses, and goods in your houses, and books in your studies, and friends in your near and sweet society, are all advanced to the higher value, when you know that you have also Christ in your hearts; and that all these are but the attendants of your Lord, and the fruits that drop from the tree of life, and the tokens of his Love, importing greater things to follow. Whereas in the crowd of all those mercies the foul would be un­comfortable, or worse, if it mist the pre­sence of its dearest friend: and in the midst of all would live but as in a wilderness, and go seeking after Christ with tears, as Mary at his Sepulchre, because they had taken away her Lord (as she thought) and she knew not where they had laid him, Joh. 20.13. All mercies would be bitter to us, if the presence of Christ do not put into them that spe­cial sweetness which is above the estimate of sense.

9. This assurance would do much to pre­serve you from the temptation of sensual de­lights. [Page 365] While you had within you the mat­ter of more excellent contentment, and when you find that these inferiour pleasures [...]re enemies to those which are your happi­ [...]ess and life, you would not be easily taken with the bait. The poorest brutish pleasures [...]re made much of by them that never were [...]cquainted with any better. But after the [...]weetness of assurance of the Love of God, [...]ow little relish is there to be found in the pleasures that are so valued by sensual unbe­ [...]ievers! Let them take them for me, saith [...]he believing soul; may I but still have the comforts of the presence of my Lord, how [...]ittle shall I miss them? how easily can I [...]pare them?] Silver will be cast by, if it [...]e set in competition, with Gold. The company of common acquaintance may be acceptable, till better and greater come: and then they must give place. Men that are taken up with the pleasing entertain­ment of Christ within them, can scarce af­ford any more then a transient salutation or observance to those earthly things that are the felicity of the carnal mind, and take up its desires, endeavours and delight; when the soul is tempted to turn from Christ, to those deceiving vanities that pro­mise him more content and pleasure, the [Page 366] comfortable thoughts of the love of [...] and his abode within us, and our [...] with him, do sensibly scatter and [...] such temptations. The presence of [...] the great Reconciler, doth reconcile [...] our selves, and make us willing to be [...] at home. He that is out of love with [...] company that he hath at home, is [...] drawn to go abroad: But who can [...] to be much abroad, that knoweth of [...] guest as Christ at home? We shall say Peter, Joh. 6.68, 69. [Lord, to whom [...] we goe? thou hast the words of eternal [...] and we believe and are sure thou ar [...] [...] Christ the son of the living God.] An [...] Matth. 7.4. when he saw him in a [...] his Glory [Master it is good for us to [...] here.] And if the riches of the world [...] offered to draw a soul from Christ, that [...] the knowledge of his special love and [...] sence, the tempter would have no [...] entertainment then Simon Magus had [...] Peter, Act. 8.20. Their money perish [...] them that think Christ and his graces [...] no better then money.

10. How easie and sweet would all [...] service be to you, if you were assured [...] Christ abideth in you? What delightful [...] [Page 367] [...] might you have in prayer, when you [...]now that Christ himself speaks for you! not [...] if the Father himself were unwilling to [...]o us good, but that he will do it in the [...] and for the sake and merits of his son: [...]hich is the meaning of Christ in those [...]ords which seem to deny his intercession, [...]oh. 16.26. [At that day ye shall ask in [...]y name; and I say not unto you, that I will [...]ay the Father for you: for the Father [...]imself loveth you, because ye have loved [...], &c.] I appeal to your own hearts, Christians, whether you would not be much [...]ore willing and ready to pray? and whe­ [...]her prayer would not be a swe [...]ter employ­ment to you, if you were sure of Christs [...]bode within you, and intercession for you, [...]nd consequently that all your prayers are graciously accepted of the Lord! you [...]ould not then desire the vain society of [...]mpty persons▪ nor seek for recreation in [...]heir insipid, frothy, insignificant discourse. The opening of your heart to your hea­ [...]enly Father, and pleading the merits of [...]rson, in your believing petitions for his [...]aving benefits, would be a more contenting [...]ind of pleasure to you.

Now sweet would meditation be to you, [...]f you could still think on Christ and all the [Page 368] riches of his kingdom as your own? coul [...] you look up to Heaven, and say wit [...] grounded confidence, It is mine, and th [...] I must abide and reign for ever! could yo [...] think of the heavenly host as those that [...] be your own companions, and of their [...] employment as that which must be your [...] for ever, it would make the ascent of yo [...] minds to be more frequent, and meditati [...] to be a more pleasant work: were you [...] assured of your special interest in God, [...] that all his attributes are by his Love an [...] Covenant engaged for your happiness, expe [...]rience would make you say, [In the mul [...]tude of my thoughts within me, thy comfo [...] do delight my soul, Psal. 44.19. [I [...] sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I [...] sing praise to my God while I have my being▪ My Meditation of him shall be sweet [...] will be glad in the Lord, Psal. 104.33, 3 [...] ▪ Could you say with full assurance that [...] are the children of the Promises, and [...] they are all your own, how sweet would [...] reading and meditation on the holy script [...] be to you! How dearly would you [...] the word! What a treasure would y [...] judge it! your delight would be then in [...] Law of the Lord; and you would medita [...] in it day and night, Psal. 1.2. To find [...] [Page 369] grounds of faith and hope, and riches of consolation in every page, and assuredly to say, All this is mine, would make you bet­ [...]er understand why David did indite all the 119. Psalm in high commendations of the word of God, and would make you join in his affectionate expressions, Psal. 119.97, 98, 99. O how I love thy Law! it is my Meditation all the day: Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser then mine enemies, for it is ever with me.

Sermons also would be much sweeter to [...]ou, when you could confidently take [...]ome the consolatory part, and use our mi­nistry as a help to your faith, and hope, and [...]oy; whereas your doubts and fears lest you are still unregenerate, will turn all that you [...]ear, or read, or meditate on, into food and fuel for themselves to work upon; and you will gather up all that tends to your disquietment, and say, It is your part; and cast away all that rendeth to your con­solation, and say, it belongeth not to you: and the most comforting passages of the word will be turned into your discomfort: and the promises will seem to you as none, while you imagine that they are none of yours; And the loss of your peace and com­fort will not be the worst: But this will in­crease [Page 370] your backwardness to duty [...] when your delight in the worship of God [...] gone, your inclination to it will abate, an [...] it will seem a burden to you, and be as [...] to the stomacks of the sick, that with th [...] carefullest preparation and much [...] can hardly be brought to get it down▪ [...] can bear but little and that which is suited [...] their diseased appetites.

The same I may say of the Sacrament [...] [...] the Lords supper. How sweet will i [...] [...] to you, if you are assured that the [...] Christ that is there represented as bro [...] and bleeding for your sins, doth dwell [...] in you by his spirit! What wellcome en [...]tainment would you expect and find, if y [...] knew that you brought the feast and [...] Master of the feast with you in your [...] and had there entirely entertained [...] with whom you expect communion in [...] sacrament! How boldly and comfort [...] would your hungry souls then feed [...] him! with what refreshing acts of [...] would you there take the sealed [...] and pardon of your sins! whereas [...] you come in fear [...] and doubting, and [...] take the body and blood of Christ in [...] Representations, with yo [...] hand and mo [...] while you know not whether you [...] [Page 371] [...] with the heart, and whether you have [...]y special interest in him, O what a damp [...] casteth on the soul! how it stifleth its [...]pes and joys, and turneth the Sacrament [...]hich is appointed for their comfort, into [...]eir greater trouble! It hath many a time [...]ieved me to observe that no ordinance [...]th cast many upright souls into greater [...]erplexities, and discouragements, and [...]stresses, then the Lords Supper; because [...]ey come to it with double reverence, and [...] the doubtings of their title, and questi­ [...]ning their preparedness, and by their fears of eating and drinking unworthily, their [...]uls are utterly discomposed with perplex­ [...]g passions, and turned from the pleasant [...]rcise of faith, and the delighful enter­ [...]ourse that they should have with God; and [...]ey are distempered and put out of relish [...] all the sweetness of the Gospel: And [...] they are frightened from the Sacra­ment by such sad experiences, and dare [...] thither no more, for fear of eating [...]udgement to themselves. And should [...]o [...] Christians labour to remove the cause of such miserable distracting fears, that so much wrong both Christ and them, and [...] recover their well-grounded peace and comfort!

[Page 372]11. Your Love to God, which is [...] Heart and Life of the new creature, [...] so much depend upon your knowledge of [...] love to you, as should make you much [...] desirous of such a knowledge. Love is [...] end of faith; and faith the way to [...] So much of Love as is in every duty, [...] much holiness is in it, and no more. I [...] is the sum of the commandments. [...] the fulfilling of the Law, Rom. 13▪ [...] Mat. 22.37. Mark. 12.33. Though God [...] us first, as purposing our good, [...] we loved him, 1 Joh. 4.9.10. And [...] therefore Love him, because he first [...] us, v. 19. Yet doth he Love us by comp [...]cency and acceptance, because we love [...] Father and the son: Joh. 16.27. [ [...] the Father himself loveth you, because [...] loved me, and have believed that I came [...] from God.] And what will more effect [...] kindle in you the fervent Love of Chr [...] then to know that he loveth you, and [...] in you? All this is exprest by [...] himself, in Joh 14.20.21, 22, 23. [At [...] day ye shall know that I am in my Faith▪ and you in me, and I in you: He that [...] my commandments and keepeth them, he [...] that loveth me; and he that loveth me, [...] be loved of my Father, and I will love [...] [Page 373] and will manifest my self unto him — If a man love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come un­to him, and make our abode with him.] 1 Cor. 8.3. If any man love God, the same is known of him.] with a knowledge of special Love and approbation. This is no disparagement to faith, whose nature and use is to work by Love, Gal. 5.6. What a man Loveth, such he is. The Love is the man. Our Love is judged by our Life, as the cause by the effect: but the Life is judged by the Love, as the fruits by the tree, the effects by the cause: [Mores au­ [...]em nostri non ex eo; quod quisque novit, sed ex eo quod diligit, dijudicari solentin [...] faci­ [...]t bonos vel malos mores, nisi boni vel mali amores.] saith Augustine; that is [Our man­ners are not used to be judged of according to that which every man knoweth, but according to that which he loveth: It is only good or evil love, that maketh good or evil manners.] If Plato could say (as Augustine citeth him, lib. 8. de Civit. Dei) Hoc est Philoso­phari, scilicet Deum amare: To be a Philo­sopher, is to Love God.] Much more should we say, Hoc est Christianum agere, this is the doctrine and the work of a Christian, even the Love of God. Indeed it is the work of [Page 374] the Redeemer, to recover the heart of man to God, and to bring us to Love him by representing him to us as the most amiable suitable object of our Love: And the per­fection of Love, is Heaven it self. [O ju­gum sancti amoris, (inq. Bernard.) quam dulciter capis, gloriose laqueas, suaviter premis, delectanter oneras, fortiter stringis, prudenter erudis!] that is [The yoak of holy Love, O how sweetly dost thou surprize? how gloriously dost thou inthrall? how ple­santly dost thou press? how delightfully dost thou load? how strongly dost thou bind? how prudently dost thou in­struct?] [O faelix amor ex quo oritur stre­nuitas morum, puritas affectionum, subtilitas intellectuum, desideriorum sanctitas, operum claritas, virtutum faecunditas, meritorum dignitas, praemiorum sublimitas] [O happy Love, from which ariseth the strength of manners, the purity of affections, the subtilty of intellects, the sanctity of desires, the ex­cellency of works, the fruitfulness of ver­tues, the dignity of deserts the sublimity of the reward!] I appeal to your own consciences Christians; would you not think it a fore­taste of Heaven upon earth, if you could but Love God as much as you desire? would any kind of life that you can imagine, be [Page 375] so desirable and delightful to you! Would any thing be more acceptable unto God! And on the contrary, a soul without the Love of God, is worse then a Corpse with­out a soul. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathama maranatha, 1 Cor. 16.22.

And do I need to tell you what a power­ful incentive it is to Love, to know that you are beloved? It will make Christ much more dear to you, to know how dear you are to him. What is said of affective Love in us, may partly be said of attractive Love in Christ. Eccles. 8.7. Many waters cannot quench Love, neither can the floods drown it: no riches can purchase what it can attract; when you find that he hath you as a seal upon his arm and heart, v. 6. and that you are dear to him as the apple of his eye; what holy flames will this kindle in your breast! If it be almost impossible with your equals upon earth not to Love them that Love you (which Christ telleth you that even Publicans will do, Matth. 5.46.) how much more should the Love of Christ con­strain us abundantly to Love him, when being infinitely above us, his Love descend­eth, that ours may ascend! His Love puts forth the hand from heaven, to fetch us up.

[Page 376]O Christians, you little know how Sa­tan wrongeth you, by drawing you to deny, or doubt of the special Love of God. How can you Love him that you apprehend to be your enemie, and to intend your ruine? Doubtless not so easily as if you know him to be your friend. In reason is there any likelier way to draw you to hate God, then to draw you to believe that he hateth you? Can your thoughts be pleasant of him? or your speeches of him sweet? or can you attend him, or draw near him with delight, while you think he hateth you, and hath decreed your damnation? you may fear him, as he is a terrible avenger; and you may confess his judgements to be just: but can you amicably embrace the consuming fire and love to dwell with the everlasting burnings!

O therefore as ever you would have the Love of God to animate, and sanctifie, and delight your souls, study the greatness of his Love to you, and labour with all possi­ble speed and diligence, to find that Christ by his spirit is within you. It is the whole work of sanctification that Satan would de­stroy or weaken by your doubts: And it is the whole work of sanctification that by Love would be promoted, if you knew [Page 377] your interest in the Love of Christ.

12. It is the knowledge of Christ, dwel­ling in you, and so of the special Love of God, that must acquaint you with a life of holy Thankfulness and prase. These highest and most acceptable duties, will be out of your reach if Satan can hide from you that mer­cy which must be the chiefest matter of your Thanksgiving. Will that soul be in tune for the high Praises of the Lord, that thinks he meaneth to use him as an enemy? Can you look for any cheerful thanksgiving from him that looks to lie in hell? will he not rather cry with David, Psal. 6.5. [In death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? Psal. 30.9. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?] shall the damned praise thee, or shall they give thee thanks that must be scorched with the flames of thine indignation? Can you expect that Joy should be in their hearts, or cheerfulness in their countenances, or praises in their mouths, that think they are Reprobated to the fire of Hell? Undoubt­edly Satan is not ignorant, that this is the way to deprive God of the Service which is most acceptable to him, and you of the plea­sures [Page 378] of so sweet a life. And therefore he that envyeth both, will do his worst to damp your spirits, and breed uncomfortable doubts and fears, and wrongful suspitions in your minds. Whereas the Knowledge of your interest in Christ, would be a con­tinual storehouse of thanksgiving and praise, and teach your hearts as well as your tongues, to say with David, [Bles­sed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. — Be glad in the Lord, and rejoyce ye Righte­ous, and shout for joy all ye that are up­right in heart.] Psal. 32.1, 2, 11. Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name: Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, Who healeth all thy diseases: Who redeemeth thy life from destruction, and crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies, Psal. 103.1, 2, 3, 4.] O Lord, my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me: O Lord thou hast brought up my soul from the grave; thou hast kept me alive that I should not go down to the pit; sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of [Page 379] his holiness: for his anger endureth but for a moment: in his favour is life, Psal. 30.2, 3, 4, 5. Thanksgiving would be the very pulse and breath of your assurance of Christ dwelling in you. You would say with Paul, Eph. 1.3, 4. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in celestials in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in Love: having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved; In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, ac­cording to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded toward us, &c.] Thus faith and assurance, as they have an unspeakable store to work upon, so it is natural to them to expatiate in the praise of our Redeemer, and to delight in amplifications and comme­morations of the ways of grace. Just so doth Peter begin his first Epistle [Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the [Page 380] resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you who are kept by the power of Go [...] through faith unto salvation, ready to be re­vealed in the last time, wherein ye greatly rejoyce, &c.

No wonder if the Heirs of Heaven be inclined to the language and the work of Heaven. I think there are few of you that would not rejoice, and by your speech, and countenance express your joy, if you had assurance but of the dignities and domini­ons of this world. And can he choose but express his Joy and Thankfulness, that hath assurance of the crown of life? What fra­grant thoughts should possess that mind that knoweth it self to be possessed by the Spirit of the living God! How thankfull will he be that knows he hath Christ and Heaven to be thankfull for! What sweet delights should fill up the hours of that mans life, that knows the son of God li­veth in him, and that he shall live in Joy with Christ for ever! How gladly will he be exercised in the praises of his Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, that knows it must be his work for ever? No wonder if this Joy be a stranger to their hearts, that [Page 381] are strangers to Christ, or strangers to their interest in his love: No wonder if they have no hearts for these celestial works, that have no part in the celestial inheritance, or that know not that they have any part therein. How can they joyfully give thanks for that which they know not that they have or ever shall have, or have any probability to attain!

But to that man that is assured of Christ within him, Heaven and Earth and all their store do offer themselves as the matter of his Thanks, and do furnish him with provi­sions to feed his Praises. What a shame is it that an assured heir of Heaven should be scant and barren in comfort to himself, or in Thanks and Praise to Jesus Christ, when he hath so full a heap of Love and mercy to fetch his motives from, and hath two worlds to furnish him with the preciousest materi­als; and hath no less then Infinite goodness even God himself, to be the subject of his Praise! [O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever: (what ever others do) Let Israel say, let the house of Aaron say, let them that fear the Lord say that his mercy endu­reth for ever, Psal. 118.1, 2, 3, 4. The knowledge of our Interest sitteth us for his Praise. [Psal. 118.28. [Thou art my [Page 382] God, and I will praise thee: thou art [...] God, I will exalt thee.] Psal. 116.16, 17 [O Lord, truly I am thy servant, I am th [...] servant, and the son of thine handmaid thou hast [...]sed my bonds; I will offer [...] thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and wi [...] call upon the name of the Lord?] His Prais [...] is for [the Congregation of his Saint [...] Psal. 141.1, 2. Let Israel rejoyce in him th [...] made him; let the children of Zion be joy [...]ful in their King] Psal. 148.13, 14▪ [Let them praise the name of the Lord▪ for his name alone is excellent: his glory i [...] above the earth and heaven. He also exalt­eth the horn of his people; the Praise of all his Saints, even of the children of Israel, [...] people near unto him.] Psal. 132.16. I will also cloath his priests with salvation, and his Saints shall shout aloud for joy] Praise is a work so proper for the Saints, and Thanksgiving must be fed with the knowledge of your mercies, that Satan well knoweth, what he shall get by it, and what you will lose, if he can but hide your mer­cies from you. The height of his malice is against the Lord, and the next is against you: and how can he shew it more then by drawing you to rob God of his Thanks and Praise, when he hath blessed and en­riched [Page 383] you with the chiefest of his mercies! Labour therefore Christians to know that you have that Grace that may be the Mat­ter and Cause of so sweet and acceptable an employment as the Praises of your Lord.

13. Moreover, you should consider that without the knowledge of your interest in Christ, you cannot live to the honour of your Redeemer, in such a measure as the Gospel doth require. The excellency of Gospel mer­cies will be veiled and obscured by you, and will not be revealed and honoured by your lives. Your low and poor dejected spirits, will be a dishonour to the faith and hope of the Saints, and to the Glorious inheritance of which you have so full a prospect in the promises. If you take the son of a Prince in his infancy, and educate him as the son of a plowman, he will not live to the honour of his birth, which he is not acquainted with. The heirs of Heaven that know not themselves to be such, may live like the heirs of Heaven as to uprightness and humility; but not in the triumphant Joy, nor in the couragious boldness, which becometh a Believer. What an injury and dishonour is to our Redeemer, that when he hath done and suffered so much to make [Page 384] us happy, we should walk as heavily as he had done nothing for us at all! An [...] when he hath so fully secured us of eve [...]lasting happiness, and told us of it so e [...]presly that our Joy may be full, we shou [...] live as if the Gospel were not the Gospel, [...] such things had never been promised or r [...]vealed! When Heaven is the Object, a [...] the promise of God is the groundwork [...] our faith, we should live above all earth [...] things, as having the honours and pleasure of the world under our feet, accountin [...] all as loss and dung for the excellency of [...] knowledge of Jesus Christ, Phil. 3.8. who [...] we should love though we have not seen him in whom though now we see him not, yet b [...]lieving we should rejoyce with joy unspeaka [...]ble and full of glory; as those that [...] receive the end of their faith, the salvation o [...] our souls] 1 Pet. 1.8, 9. And how ca [...] we do this, if we are still questioning the Love of Christ, or our interes [...] in it!

Believers should with undaunted reso­lution charge through the armies of tem­ptation, and conquer difficulties, and suffer for the name of Christ with joy; account­ing it a bessed thing to be persecuted [...] righteousness sake, because that theirs i [...] [Page 385] the kingdom of Heaven: Because of the greatness of the Reward, they should re­joyce and be exceeding glad, Matth. 5.10, 12. And how can they do this, that believe not that the Reward and Kingdom will be theirs!

The Joys of faith, and confidence on the promise and strength of Christ, should overcome all inordinate fears of man, [For he hath said, I will never fail thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I wi [...]l not fear what man shall do unto me, Heb. 13.5.6. And how can we do this, while we are question­ing our part in the Christ and promise that we should thus boldly trust upon!

14. Lastly consider, that the knowledge of your part in Christ, may make all suf­ferings easie to you. You will be so much satisfied in God your portion, as will abate the desires, and drown the Joys and sorrows of the world. You will judge the suffer­ings of this present time unw [...]rthy to be compared to the Glory, that shall be revealed in us. Rom. 8.18. You will choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God▪ then to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a sea­son; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches then the treasures of the world, [Page 386] as having respect to the recompence of re [...]ward, Heb. 11.25, 26. All this must b [...] done, and will be done by true believers that have an assurance of their own since [...]rity; They must and will forsake all and take up the Cross and follow Christ, in hop [...] of a Reward in Heaven, as it is offered the [...] in the Gospel, when they know their specia [...] interest in it. For these are Christs term [...] which he imposeth on all that will be hi [...] Disciples, Luk. 14.33. & 18.22, 24, 25. But you may certainly perceive that i [...] will be much more easie to part with all, and undergoe and do all this, wen we have the great encouragement of our assured inetrest, then when we have no more but the com­mon offer. To instance in some particu­lars.

1. Do you live where serious Godliness is derided, and you cannot obey the word of God, and seek first the Kingdom of God, and its righteousness, without being made the common scorn, and the daily jeast and by-word of the company? Let it be so▪ If you know that you have Christ within you, and are secured of the everlasting Joys, will you feel, will you regard such things as these [...] shall the jeast of a distra­cted miserable fool, abate the joy of your [Page 387] [...]ssured happiness? Princes and noblemen [...]ill not forsake their dominions or Lord-ships, nor cast away the esteem and [...]omfort of all they have, because the poor [...]o ordinarily reproach them as Proud, [...]merciful oppressors. They think they may bear the words of the miserable, while [...]hey have the the pleasure of prospe- And shall not we give losers leave to [...]alke? We will not be mockt out of the comfort of our health or wealth, our habita­ [...]ions or our friends: and shall we be mockt [...]ut of the comfort of Christ and of the pre­sence of the comforter himself! If they that go naked deride you for having cloaths; and they that are out of doors in the cold and rain, deride you that are warm and dry withthin; or they that are sick deride you for being well, this will but make you more sensible of your felicity, and pitty them that have added such folly to their wants; so will it increase the sense of your felicity, to find that you are possessed of so unspeak­able a mercy, which others have not so far tasted of as to know its worth. If you have the feast, you may bear the words of fa­ [...]ished unhappy souls, that speak against it because they taste it not: If you are in your Fathers arms, you may bear the scorns [Page 388] of such as stand without the door

2. If you have the contradictions a [...] opposition of the ignorant or malicious, spe [...]ing evil of things they know not, and pe [...]swading you from the ways of righteo [...]ness, how easily may all this be born wh [...] you have Christ within you to strengthene [...] encourage you! Had you but his examp [...] before you; who is the author and finisher [...] your faith, who for the joy that was set b [...] ­fore him endured the Cross, despising [...] shame, and endured such contradiction of sin [...]ners against himself; it should keep you from being weary and fainting in your minds Heb. 12.2, 3. But when you have [...] presence, his spirit, and his help, how muc [...] should it corroborate and confirm you!

3. How easily may you bear the slander of your own or the Gospels enemies, as lon [...] as you are sure of your interest in Christ▪ How easily may you suffer them to call yo [...] by their own names, pestilent fellows [...] movers of sedition among the People, ringlead [...]ers of a Sect, prophaners of the Temple, as [...] was called, Act. 24.5, 6. as long as you have Christ within you, that was called Beelzebub for you sakes, Matth. 10 25▪ Your Judge that must finally decide the case▪ is your dearest friend, and dwelleth in you [...] [Page 389] It is he that will justifie you; who is he that condemneth you? Rom. 8.33, 34. His appro­bation is your life and comfort. How incon­siderable is it as to your own felicity, what mortal worms shall say or think of you? What if they call you all that is naught, and stain your names ▪ and obscure your inno­cency, and make others believe the falsest ac­cusations, that Satan can use their tongues to utter of you? You have enough against all this within you: What if you go for hypocrites, or factious, or what malignity can call you, until the day of Judgement? As long as you have so good security of being then fully cleared of all, and your righte­ousness vindicated by your Judge; how ea­sily may you now bear the slanders of men, that prove themselves wicked, by falsly af­firming it of you? You can endure to be called Poor, so you be not poor; and to be called sick as long as you are well. And you may well endure to be called Proud, while you are Humble; and factious, while you are the Lovers of Ʋnity and Peace; or Hy­pocrites, while you are sincere. How boldly may you say with the Prophet, Isaiah 50.7, 8, 9. [The Lord God will help me: therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not [Page 390] be ashamed: He is near that justifieth me; Who will contend with me? let us stand toge­ther: Who is mine adversary? Let him come near to me: Behold the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? Lo, they shall all wax old as a garment: the moth shall eat them up.]

Had you but Pauls assurance and experi­ence of Christ dwelling in you, you might imitate him in a holy contempt of all the slanders and revilings of the world, 1 Cor. 4.9, 10, 11, 12, 13. [For I think that God hath set forth us the Apostles last, as it were men appointed to death: For we are made a spectacle to the world, and to Angels, and to men: We are fools for Christs sake, but ye are wise in Christ: We are weak, but ye are strong: Ye are honourable, but we are despi­sed: Even unto this present hour, we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffetted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labour working with our own hands: be­ing reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreate: We are made as the filth of the world, and are the off­scouring of all things unto this day.] Thus may we do and suffer all things through Christ that strengtheneth us, Phil. 4.13. What matter is it what men call us, if God [Page 391] call us his children, and friends, and Christ be not ashamed to call us Brethren? With us [...]t will be a very small thing to be judged of man, while we know the Lord that must judge [...], is on our side, 1 Cor. 4.3, 4. It lyeth not [...]n our hands to justifie our selves: It is Christ that hath undertaken to answer for [...]s; and made it the work of his office to [...]ustifie us: and to him we may boldly and [...]omfortably leave it: and let all the accusers [...]repare their charge, and deal with him, [...]nd do their worst.

4. How easily may you bear imprison­ment, banishment, or other persecution, as [...]ong as you are assured of the Love of Christ? Can you fear to dwell where Christ [...]wells with you? If he will go with you [...]hrough fire and water, what need you fear? [...]hose owning appropriating words, will make us venture upon the greatest perils [Fear not, for I have Redeemed thee; I have [...]alled thee by thy name, thou art mine: When [...]hou passest through the waters, I will be with [...]hee; and through the rivers, they shall not [...]verflow thee: When thou walkest through the [...]ire, thou shalt not be burnt— For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy one of Israel, thy Sa­viour.] Who would not with Peter cast [...]imself into the Sea, or walk with confi­dence [Page 392] upon the waters, if Christ be there and call us to him? Matth. 14.28, 29. John 21.7.

The eleventh chapter to the Hebrews doth recapitulate the victories of faith, and shew us what the Hope of unseen things can cause Believers patiently to undergo. How cheerfully will he endure the foulest way, that is assured to come safe to such a home? What will a man stick at that knows he is following Christ to Heaven; and knoweth that he shall reign with him, when he hath suffered with him? 2 Tim. 2.12. Who wil [...] refuse blood letting, that is assured before­hand that it shall procure his health? He is unworthy of Christ, and of salvation, that thinks any thing in the world too good to lose for them, Matth. 10.37. What matter is it whether Death find us in honour or dis­honour, in our own Countrey or in another, at liberty or in prison, so we are sure it find us not in a state of death. Who would not rather pass to Glory by as straight a way as John Baptist, Stephen, or other Martyr [...] did, then with their persecutors to prosper in the way to misery? Who can for shame repine at the loss of temporal commodities, that is secured of the eternal Joyes? If assu­rance of the Love of God, would not em­bolden [Page 393] you to patient suffering, and to lay down life and all for Christ, what do you think should ever do it?

But when you are afraid lest death will turn you into Hell, What wonder if you timerously draw back? When you know not whether ever you shall have any better, no wonder if you are loth to part with the seeming happiness which you have. Those doubts and fears enfeeble the soul, and spoil you of that valour that becomes a souldier of Christ.

5. All personal crosses in your estates, your families, your friends, your health, will be easily born, if you are once assured of your salvation. To a man that is passing into Hea­ven, all these are almost inconsiderable things. What is Lazarus the worse now for h [...]s sores or rags? Or what is the Rich man the better for his sumptuonus attire and fare? Luke 16. Whether you be poor or rich, sick or sound, whether you are used kindly or un­kindly in the world, are questions of so small importance, that you are not much concerned in the answer of them: But whether you have Christ within you, or be reprobates; whether you are the heirs of the promise, or are under the curse, are questions of ever­lasting consequence.

[Page 394]6. Lastly, you may comfortably receive the sentence of death, when once you are assured of the Life of Grace, and that you have escaped everlasting death. Though nature will be still averse to a dissolution, yet faith will make you cheerfully submit, desiring to depart and be with Christ, as the best condi­tion for you, Phil. 1.23. When you know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, you have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; you will then groan earnestly, de­siring to be cloathed upon with your house which is from heaven: not to be uncloathed, (for the union of soul and body, is the con­stitution of the man, which nature cannot but desire) but to be cloathed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life: This God doth work you for, who giveth you the earnest of the spirit; therefore as men that know while you are at home in the body, you are absent from the Lord, and that walk by faith, and not by sight, you would be alwaies confi­dent, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord, 2 Cor. 5.1, 2, 3, 4 5, 6, 7▪ 8.

Though it be troublesom to remove your dwelling, yet you would not stick upon the trouble, if you were sure to change a cottage [Page 395] for a Court: nor would you refuse to cross the Seas, to change a prison for a Kingdom. The holy desires of Believers, do prepare them for a safe death; but it is the assurance of their future happiness, or the believing expectation of it, that must prepare them for a death that is safe and comfortable. The Death of the Presumptuous may be quiet, but not safe: The Death of doubting trou­bled Believers may be safe, but not quiet: The Death of the ungodly, that have awake­ned undeceived consciences, is neither safe nor quiet: But the Death of strong Belivers that have attained assurance, is both. And he that findeth Christ within him, may know that when he dyeth, he shall be with Christ: His dwelling in us by faith, by Love, and by his Spirit, is a pledge that we shall dwell with him. Christ within us, will certainly carry us unto Christ above us. Let Socinians que­stion the happiness of such departed souls, or doubt whether they be in heaven before the resurrection; I am sure that they are with Christ, as the fore-cited places shew, 2 Cor. 5.7, 8. and Phil. 1.23. and many other: We are following him, that when he had conquered Death, and went before us, did send that message to his doubting trou­bled Disciples, (which is to me so full of [Page 396] sweetness, that me thinks I can scarce too oft recite it) John 20.17. [Go to my Bre­thren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and to your God.] O piercing, melting words, which methinks do write themselves upon my heart, when ever I read them with at­tention and consideration! Know once that you are his Brethren, and that his Father is your Father, and his God is your God, and that he is ascended and glorified in your na­ture; and then how can you be unwilling to be dismissed from the bondage of this flesh, and be with Christ! For in his Fathers house are many mansions: and he is gone before to prepare a place for us: and will come again and receive us unto himself, that where he is, there we may be also, John 14.2, 3. And that this is his will for all his servants, he hath declared in that comfortable promise, (which also I have found so full of sweet­ness, that I value it above all the riches of the world) John 12.26. [If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: If any man serve me, him will my Father honour] The Spirit of Christ within you, is the earnest of all this: Be assured of your Faith, and Hope, and Love, and you may be assured to possess the [Page 397] Good believed and Hoped for and Loved. The incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever, of which you are new born (1 Pe [...]. 1.23.) doth tend to the incorrupti­ble crown (1 Pet. 5.4.) even the Crown of righteousness which the righteous Judge will give to all that love his appearing, 2 Tim. 4.8. And so shall we ever be with the Lord, as the Apostle comfortably speaks, 1 Thes. 4.17. and seasonably annexeth the use of such a cordial, vers. 18. [where­fore comfort one another with these words.]

Whether we are to die by the decay of na­ture, or by the storm of any violent disease, or by the hand of persecutros or any other in­struments of Satan, the difference is small: They are but several ways of landing at the shore of happiness, which we were ma­king towards, through all the duties and difficulties of our lives. May we by any Death be sent to Christ, let them domine [...]r a while that stay behind, and are conquerors and happy in their dream: we shall neither miss nor desire their felicity. May I die assured of the Love of God, how little re­gardable is it whether I be poor or rich till then? or in what manner Death shall do its execution? and how little cause have [Page 398] blessed souls, to envie them that are left on earth, in a quiet and prosperous passage to damnation?

And what an ease and pleasure is this to a mans mind through all his life, to be able with well-grounded comfort, to think of death? What cares can vex him that hath secured hi [...] everlasting state? What losses should afflict him that is sure he shall not lose his soul, and is sure to gain eternal life? What fears should disquiet him that is sure to escape the wrath of God? What wants should trouble him that knoweth he is an heir of Heaven? Why should the indignation or threatnings of man, be any temptation to turn him out of the way of duty, or dismay his mind, who knoweth that they can but kill the body, and dismiss the soul into his blessed presence, whom it loveth and laboureth and longs to see? what should inordinately grieve that man that is certain of eternal Joy? What else should he thirst for, that hath in him the well of living waters springing up to everlasting life? Joh. 4.14. And what should de­prive that man of comfort, that knoweth he hath the Comforter within him, and shall be for ever comforted with his ma­sters joy? And what should break the Peace and Patience of him that is assured [Page 399] of Everlasting Rest? If the assurance of a happy death cannot make it welcome, and cannot make affliction easie, and fill our lives with the Joyes of Hope, I know not what can do it.

But alas for those poor souls that know not whither death will send them, or at least have not good grounds of hope, what wonder if through the fear of death they be all their life time subject unto bondage! Heb. 2.14. Methinks in the midst of their wealth and pleasure, they should not be so stupid as to forget the millions that are gone before them, that lately were as jovial and secure as they; and how short their dreaming feast will be; Methinks all the beauty of their fleshly Idols, should be blast­ed with those nipping frosts and storms, that in their serious forethoughts, come in upon them, from the black and dreadful regions of death! Methinks at any time it should damp their mirth, and allay the ebullition of their phrenetick blood, to remember [For all this I must die] and it may be this night, that the fool must deliver up his soul; and then whose shall those things be which he hath provided! Luk. 12.19, 20. Then who shall be the Lord, and who the Knight or Gentleman? and who shall [Page 400] wear the gay attire? and who shall domi­neer, and say, Our will shall be done, an [...] thus we will have it? Then where is th [...] pleasure of lust, and merry company, an [...] meat drink and sports? Methinks, Solo [...]mons memento, Eccles. 11.9. should brin [...] them to themselves [Rejoyce O young ma [...] in thy youth, and let thy heart chear thee i [...] the days of thy youth, and walk in the way [...] of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes [...] but know thou that for all these things, Go [...] will bring thee into judgement] And as th [...] sound of these words [I must shortly die] methinks, should be always in your ears so in reason, the Question [Whether must I then go] should be always a [...] it were before your eyes, till your soul [...] have received a satisfactory answer to it▪ O what an amazing dreadful thing it is▪ when an unsanctified unprepared soul must say [I must depart from earth, but I know not whither! I know not whether unto Heaven or Hell; Here I am now, but where must I be for ever!] When men believe that their next habitation must be everlasting, methinks, the Question [Whether must I goe] should be day and night upon their minds, till they can say upon good grounds, [I shall go to the blessed presence of the [Page 401] Lord:] O had you but the hearts of men within you, methinks the sense of this one Question, [Whither must I go when I leave [...]he flesh?] should so possess you, that it should give your souls no rest, till you were [...]ble to say, [We shall be with Christ, be­cause he dwelleth in us here, and hath sealed us and given us the earnest of his spirit: or at least, till you have good hopes of this, and have done your best to make it sure.

And thus I have told you of how great importance it is to believers, to attain assu­rance of the love of God, and to know that Christ abideth in them. And now I think you will confess, I have proved the necessity of Self-knowledge, both to the unregene­rate, and the regenerate, though in seve­ral degrees: and having opened the disease, and shewed you the need of a remedy, I am next to direct you in the application for the cure.

I Doubt not but there are many of the Hearers that by this time, are desirous to be instructed, how this self knowledge may be attained: For whose satsfaction, and for the reducing of all that hath been spoken into practise, I shall next acquaint you with the Hinderances of Self-know­ledge (the removing of them being not the least point in the cure,) and with the Posi­tive Directions to be practised for the at­tainment of it: And because the Hinde­rances and Helps are contrary, I shall open both together as we go on.

The Hinderances of self knowledge are some of them without us, and some with­in us; and so must be the Helps.

I. The external Hinderances are these.

1. The failing of Ministers in their part of the work through unskilfulness or un­faithfulness, is a great cause that so many are ignorant of themselves. They are the Lights of the world: and if they are ec­ [...]lipsed, or put under a bushell; if they are darkened by the snuff of their own corruptions; or if they feed not their light by the oile of diligent studies and other endeavours; or if they will not go [Page 403] [...]long with men into the dark and unknown corners of the heart, what wonder if mens hearts remain in darkness, when those [...]hat by office are appointed to afford them Light, do fail them? It is not a general dull discourse, or critical observations upon words, or the subtile decision of some nice and curious questions of the schools, (though these may be useful to their proper ends,) nor is it a neat and well composed speech about some other distant matters, that is like to acquaint a sinner with himself. How many sermons may we hear (that to others ends are not unprofitable) that are levelled at some mark or other, that is very far from the Hearers hearts, and therefore are never like to convince them, or prick them, or open and convert them? And if our congregations were in such a case, as that they needed no closer quickening work, such preaching might be born with and commended: But when so many usually sit before us, that must shortly dye, and are unprepared, and that are condemned by the Law of God, and must be pardoned or finally condemned: that must be saved from their sins, that they may be saved from everlasting misery, I think it is time for us to talk to them of such things as [Page 404] most concern them; and that in such a matter as may most effectually convince awake and change them. When we come to them on their sick-beds, we talk not then to them of distant or impertinent things: o [...] words, or forms, or parties, or by-opini­ons, but of the state of their souls, an [...] their appearing before the Lord, and ho [...] they may be ready, that death may b [...] both safe and comfortable to them [...] (though a superstitious miserable fellow that knoweth no better things himself, may talk to the sick of beads, and relicts, and o [...] being on this side or that, for this ceremony or the other, and may think to conjure the unholy spirit out of him, by some affected words of devotions uttered from a grace­less senseless heart, or to command him out by Papal authority, as if they would charm his soul to heaven, by saying ove [...] some lifeless forms, and using the Gospel [...] a spell; Yet Ministers indeed that know themselves what Faith and what Repen­tance is, and what it is to be regenerate and to be prepared to die, do know that they have other work to do.) The Gospe [...] offereth men their Choice, whether they will have Holiness or sin; and be ruled by Christ, or by their fleshly lusts; and so whe­ther [Page 405] they will have spiritual, or carnal, eternal or transitory Joys. And our work is to perswade them to make that choice which will be their Happiness if we can prevail, and which eternal Joy depends upon: whether we come to them in sickness or in health, this is our business with them. A man that is ready to be drowned, is not at leisure for a song or dance; And a man that is ready to be damned, methinks should not find himself at leisure to hear a man shew his wit and reading only, if not his folly and malice against a life of Holiness; Nor should you think that sui­table to such mens case, that doth not evi­dently tend to save them. But, alas, how often have we heard such sermons, as tend more to diversion than direction, to fill their minds with other matters, and find men something else to think on, lest they should study themselves, and know their misery! And whereas there may be so much ingenuity in the sinner as to per­ceive that the discourse of idle tongues, or the reading of a Romance is unsuitable to one in his condition; and therefore will not by such toyes as these, be called off from the consideration of his ways; A preacher that seems to speak religiously, by a sapeless, [Page 406] dry, impertinent discourse thats called a sermon, may more plausibly and easily di­vert him: And has conscience will more quietly suffer him to be taken off the ne­cessary care of his salvation, by something that is like it, and pretends to do the work as well, then by the grosser avocations, or the scorns of fools: And he will more tamely be turned from Religion, by something that is called Religion, and which he hopes may serve the turn, then by open wickedness, or impious defiance of God and Reason. But how oft do we hear ap­plauded Sermons, which force us in com­passion to mens souls to think [O what [...] all this to the opening a sinners heart unto himself, & shewing him his unregenerate state? Whats this to the conviction of a self-deluding soul, that is passing unto Hell with the confident expectations of Heaven▪ To the opening of mens eyes, and turning them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God! whats this to shew men their undone condition, and the ab­solute necessity of Christ and of renewing grace! what is in this to lead men up from earth to heaven, and to acquaint them with the unseen world, and to help them to the life of faith and love, and to the mortifying and the pardon of their sins? How little [Page 407] skil have many miserable preachers, in the searching of the heart, and helping men to know themselves, whether Christ be in them, or whether they be reprobates? and how little care and diligence is used by them to call men to the tryal, and help them in the examining and judging of themselves, as if it were a work of no necessity! They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying Peace, Peace, when there is no Peace, saith the Lord, Jer. 6.14. And Ezek. 13.10, 11, 12. Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying Peace▪ and there was no peace, and one built up a wall, and lo others dawbed [...] with untempered morter, say to them that dawb it with untempered morter that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing showre, and ye O great hailstones, shall fall, and a stormy wind shall rend it: Lo when the wall is faln, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the dawbing wherewith ye dawbed it?]

It is a plain and terrible passage, Prov. 24.24. He that saith to the wicked, Thou art Righteous, him shall the people curse; natives shall abhor him,] Such injustice in a Judge or witnesses is odious, that deter­mine but in order to temporal rewards on punishments: (Lev: 19.15. Prov. 18.5. [Page 408] & 28.21.) But in a messenger that pro­fesseth to speak to men in the name of God, and in the stead of Jesus Christ, when the determination hath respect to the consci­ences of men, and to their endless joy or torment, how odious and horrid a crime must it be esteemed to perswade the wicked that he is Righteous, or to speak that which tendeth to perswade him of it though not in open plain expressions! what perfidious dealing is this against the Holy God! what an abuse of our Redeemer, that his pre­tended messengers shall make him seem to judge clean contrary to his Holiness, and to his Law, and to the Judgement which in­deed he passeth and will pass on all that live and die unsanctified! What vile deceit, and cruelty against the souls of men, are such Preachers guilty of, that would make them believe that all is well with them, or that their state is safe or tolerable, till they must find it otherwise to their woe! when diseased souls have but a short and limited time allowed them for their cure, that a man shall come to them, as in the name of their Physition, and tell them that they are pretty well, and need not make so much ado about the business, and thus keep them from their only help till it be too late! what [Page 409] shame, what punishment can be too great for such a wretch? when the neglect and making light of Christ and his salvation, is the common road to Hell, Heb. 2.3. Matth. 22.5. and most men perish be­cause they value not and use not the necessa­ry means of their recovery; for a man in the name of a minister of the Gospel, to cheat them into such undervaluings and neglects, as are like to prove their condemnation: what is this but to play the Minister of Sa­tan, and to do his work, in the name and garb of a minister of Christ? It is damna­ble treachery against Christ and against the peoples souls to hide their misery when it is your office to reveal it; and to let people de­ceive themselves in the matters of Salvation, and not to labour diligently to undeceive them; and to see them live upon presumpti­on and ungrounded hopes, and not to labour with faithful plainess to acquaint them with their need of better hopes. But some go further, and more openly act the part of Satan, by reproaching the most faithful servants of the Lord, and labouring to bring the people into a conceit that seriousness and carefulness in the matters of God and our salvation, are but hypocrisie and unne­cessary strictness: And in their company [Page 410] and converse they put so much counte­nance on the ungodly, and cast so much secret or open scorn upon those that would live according to the Scriptures, as hardeneth multitudes in their impenitency. O dread­ful reckoning to these unfaithful shepherds, when they must answer for the ruine of their miserable flocks! how great will their damnation be, which must be aggravated by the damnation of so many others! When the question is, How come so many souls to perish? the answer must be, Be­cause they [...]et light by Christ and Holiness which should have saved them: But what made them set light by Christ and Holiness? It was their deceitful confidence that they had so much part in Christ and holiness, as would suffice to save them, though indeed they were unsanctified strangers unto both. They were not practically acquainted with th [...]ir necessities. But how came they to con­tinue thus ignorant of themselves till it was too late? Because they had teachers that kept them strange to the nature of true holiness, and did not labour publikely and privately to convince them of their undone condition, and to drive them to Christ that by him they might have life. Woe to such Teachers that ever they were born, [Page 411] that must then be found under the guilt of such perfidiousness & cruelty! Had they ever felt themselves, what is it to be pursued by the Law and conscience, and with broken hearts to cast themselves on Christ as their only hope and refuge, and what it is to be pardoned, and saved by him from the wrath of God, and what it is to be sanctified and to be sensible of all his Love, they would take another course with sinners, and talke of sin, and Christ, and holiness at other rates, and not deceive their people with themselves.

Direct. 1. My first Direction therefore to you is in order to the knowledge of your selves, that if it be possible, you will live under a faithful, soul-searching, skilful Pastor, and that you will make use of his publike and personal help, to bring you and keep you in continual acquaintance with your selves.

As there is a double use of Physicions; one General, to teach men the common Prin­ciples of Physick, and read them Lectures of the nature of diseases, and their causes and remedies; and the other particular, to apply these common precepts to each in­dividual person as they need; So is there a double use of ministers of the Gospel, One [Page 412] to deliver publikely the common doctrines of Christianity concerning mans sin and mi­sery, and the remedy, &c. and the other to help people in the personal application of all this to themselves. And they that take up only with the former, deprive themselves of half the benefit of the mini­stry.

1. In publike how skilful and diligent should we be, in opening the hearts of sinners to themselves! The Pulpit is but our candlestick, from which we should diffuse the holy Light into all the Assembly: Not speaking the same things of all that are before us, as if it were our work only to trouble men, or only to comfort them: but as the same Light will shew every man the things which he beholdeth in their va­rieties and differences; (we see by the same sun a man to be a man, and a beast to be a beast, and a bird to be a bird;) so the same word of truth which we deliver, must be so discovering and discriminating, as to manifest the ungodly to be ungodly, and the carnal to be carnal, the worldling to be a worldling; the hypocrite to be an hypocrite, and the enemies of holiness to be as they are; and the sincere to be sin­cere; and the renewed soul to be indeed [Page 413] renewed. The same light must shew the excellency of sanctification, and the filthiness of sin: the glory of the Image of Christ, and the deformity of that spiritual death which is its privation. It must shew the Righteous to be more excellent then his neigh­bour, Prov. 12, 26. and help men to dis­cern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not, Mal. 3.18. we must not be like the miserable ungodly preachers, that cannot describe the state of grace with clearness and feelingly, because they never knew it: or that dare not discover the unsanctified lest they detect themselves, nor judge them accordidg to their office, lest they condemn themselves; and that preach to the ungodly as if all were well with them; and they dare not awaken the consciences of others, lest they should awaken and affright their own: and therefore are ready to scorn at all distinguishing preachers, and to take the discovery of regeneration to be but the boasting of hypocrisie, as if he that would differ from the most, or did pretend to the special priviledges of the Saints, did but as the Pharise, thank God that he is not like other men; or say, Stand by, I am more holy then thou: And if these preachers [Page 414] could prove that all men shall be saved that will but say that they are Christians, they might then have hope of being saved them­selves, wi [...]hout that serious piety which they so distaste. No wonder therefore i [...] they preach in the language of Corah ▪ Numb. 1 [...].3. Ye take too much upon you [...] seeing all the Congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them▪ wherefore then lift you up your selves above the Congregation of the Lord!] But the Lord saith [If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: [...]t them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them,] Jer. 15.19. If you love not differencing preaching, make no diffe­rence from the true members of Christ by your hypocrisie or ungodly living; be such as they, and we shall not difference you from them. Read but the first Psalm, and the fifteenth Psalm, and the third of John, and the eighth to the Romans, and the first Epistle of John, and then tell me whether the Scripture be not a differencing word, condemning some, and justifying others, and shewing the true state of the difference betwixt them. What is there no difference between the heirs of Heaven and Hell? Or is the difference no more then that one [Page 415] [...]th the name of a Christian, and not the [...]her? or that one had the hap to be born [...]here the Gospel was Received, and Chri­ [...]nity was the Religion of the Countrey, [...] the other the unhappiness to be born [...]here it was not known? O no, when [...] dreadful differencing day is come, men [...]all find that there was another kind of [...]fference, between the way of Life and [...] death: When many shall say, Lord, [...]rd, have we not prophesied in thy name, [...] in thy name have cast out devils, and in [...] name done many wonderful works! [...] whom Christ will profe [...]s, I nevor knew [...]: Depart from me ye that work iniquity, [...]atth. 7.22, 23. When many shall come [...]om the East and W [...]st, and shall sit down [...]th Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the [...]ingdom of heaven; but the children [...] the Kingdom shall be cast out into [...]ter darkness: there shall be weeping [...] gnashing of teeth] Matth. 8.11, 12. [...]ha [...] a difference will appear between those [...]at now converse together, and sit here in [...] same seats, between whom the world [...]at judgeth by the [...]ut side, discerns but [...]tle or no difference? When those things [...]all be executed that are written in Matth. [...], and 2 Thes. 1. O what a difference [Page 416] will then appear! when of those that we in the same Church, the same house, [...] same shop, the same bed, One shall be tak [...] and the other left: and the felicity that [...] hid in the seed of Grace, shall shine [...] to the astonishment of the world, in [...] fulness of eternal Glory!

I know Preachers are ordinarily [...] that thus difference between the Godly [...] ungodly; the very names of difference [...] matter of scorn to guilty souls, because th [...] imply the matter of their terror. I ha [...] oft noted this with admiration, in the su [...]cess of Christs own doctrine upon [...] Jews, Luk. 4.18, 19, 22. when he had preached the Gospel, as that he had [...] testimony of the multitude that wonder at the gracious words that proceeded out his mouth, yet some were cavilling [...] believed not, and v. 25, 26, 27. he sai [...] [I tell you of a truth, many widows were [...] Israel in the days of Elias, when the Hea [...] was shut up three years, &c. But [...] none of them, was Elias sent save unto S [...]repta a City of Sidon, to a woman that [...] a widow: And many lepers were in Isra [...] in the time of EIizeus the prophet: [...] none of them was cleansed saving Naam [...] the Syrian:] But how was this differenc [...] [Page 417] [...] doctrine of Christ entertained, by the [...]? It is said v. 28.29. All they in the [...]agogue when they heard these things, were [...]lled with wrath, and rose up and thrust [...] out of the City, and led him to the brow [...] the hill whereon their City was built, that [...]hey might might cast him down headlong] [...]ead it and consider, what moved these [...]en to so much rage against Christ himself or preaching this doctrine, which restrain­ [...]d the fruit of the Gospel to a few; and [...]en you will not wonder, if those preach­ [...]rs that imitate Christ in this, be used no [...]etter then their Master.

But let Ministers know that this is their [...]uty, to shew every man himself, his deeds, [...]nd state as indeed they are: And let Christians choose and love such Ministers. Choose not the Glass that makes you fair­ [...]st, but which is truest, and representeth you to your selves as God accounteth you, whether he do it with more eloquence or less; with smoother or with rougher language; hear him if you may, that will best acquaint you with the truth of your condition, and choose not those that speak not to the heart.

2. And when you have heard the best, the clearest, the most searching Preacher, do [Page 418] not think that now you can do all the rest of work your selves: and that you have further need of help: But make use their more particular personal advic [...] not needlesly, but in these follow [...] cases.

1. In case that after your most dilige [...] self examination, you are yet at uncertain [...] and doubt, whether you are truly sanctifi [...] or not. The setling of your states for [...] eternity, and the well-grounding of yo [...] Hopes and Comforts, is a matter of su [...] unspeakable moment, as that you shou [...] not remain in careless, negligent unce [...]tainty, while God hath provided you [...] further means that may be used for ass [...]rance. Yea if you were not troubled wi [...] doubting, yet if you have opportunity [...] opening your Evidences to a judicio [...] faithful Minister or friend, I think it may [...] worth your labour, for the Confirmation [...] the peace and comforts which you ha [...] You cannot make too sure of everlastin [...] Happiness.

2. And not only in the first setling [...] your Peace, but also when any notabl [...] assault or dangerous temptation shall af [...]terward shake it, which you canno [...] overcome without assistance, it is seaso [...]able [Page 419] to betake your selves to the Physi­ [...]ion.

3. And also in case of any dangerous [...]a [...]se or declining that hath brought you [...]to a state of darkness. The sick and [...]unded must have help: They are not [...]ufficient for themselves.

4. Also in case of any particular corru­ [...]tion, or temptation, your particular sinful [...]nclinations may (caute [...]ously) be open­ed to a faithful Guide, that by his prudent and lively counsel you may be strengthen­ed.

If you say, To what end do Ministers preach to me, and why do I hear them open­ing the natures of Grace and of Hypocrisie, if I cannot judge of my self by the doctrine which they preach? I answer, 1. You may and must judge your selves by the publike common helps, as far as you are able: But a personal applying help, added unto this, is a further advantage. And humility should teach you, not to think better of your understandings then there is cause; nor to think you are so wise as to need but one help, when God hath provided you two: or that you need but the lesser, when he hath provided you a greater. And doth not your own experience convince you? [Page] [Page 420] Do you not find that after the best publi [...] preaching you are yet in doubt, and at loss about your spiritual state, and ther [...]fore that you have need of further help?

2. I further answer you: There is [...] great a diversity of particular circumstance in the cases of particular persons, tha [...] a great deal of help is necessary to most, t [...] pass a right judgement, when they do un [...]derstand both the Law, and the fact. Wi [...] you think it enough that you have the sta­tutes of the Land, and the Law-books to judge of all your own cases by? Or wil [...] you not think that you have also need o [...] the Counsel of the wisest Lawyer (i [...] your weightiest cases) to help you to judge of your cause by the particular ap­plication of the Law to it? So in Physick▪ who is so foolish, as to think that by the help of the most learned Book, or appro­ved Receipts he is able to be his own Phy­sicion, without any more particular ad­vice? You must be long in studying Law or Physick before you can understand them so well as those that have made them the study and business of their lives. It is not having or reading a Book only, or hear­ing a Lecture of them, that can make you as understanding as the masters of the [Page 421] Profession; and also to have all passages at hand that must be observed in the judging of your Cause. So is it in matters of the soul. When you have heard much, and understand much, you cannot in mo­desty think that all the sense of Scripture, about those points, is known as exactly to you, as to your most judicious Teachers; and that you are as able at once to see all the passages of the word, and of the fact, as may enable you to pass so clear a judge­ment on it. Perhaps you will say, that you know your own hearts and actions better then they do. I answer, You do so, or should do so, as to the matter of fact: and it is you that they must know it from: And yet when you have done, you may not be able to judge of your State by those acts which you say you know: You must shew the Lawyer all your evidences: He cannot see them, till you shew them him: and yet when he seeth them, he can judge of them whether they are good or bad, and of your title by them, better then you can that have the keeping of them; because he better understands the Law: The Physicion feeleth not your pain, nor knoweth it till you tell it him: And yet when you have told it him, he knows bet­ter [Page 422] then you what it signifieth, and whether it tendeth, and whether be curable or not, and what must cure it.

But perhaps you will say, that when you have gone to Ministers, and opened your case to them, they cannot resolve you, but you are still in doubt.

I answer, 1. Perhaps when they have resolved them, yet you would not be resol­ved. Have they not told you the truth and you would not believe it? Or directed you to Remedies which you would not use? They cannot when they have told you the truth, compell you to believe it; nor when they have told you what will do the cure, they cannot make you use it if you re­fuse.

2. And what if the nature of the disease be obstinate, and will not be cured easily and at once, but with time and diligence and patience? Will you therefore think the means are vain? Must you at once, or in a short time, be resolved, and delivered from all your doubts, about your title to eternal life, or else will you cast off all advice? should you do so by your bodies, you may know what were like to be the issue: should your children learn thus of their teachers, they were like to make unhappy [Page 423] Schollars. As you will not have done with Christ, if he cure you not at once, nor give over praying if you have not all your desires at once (if you love your selves) So you must not have done with the Counsel of your Guides, if they satis­fie not your doubts at once: As you cease not hearing them in publike, though you have still your doubtings; so why should you cease advising with them perso­nally upon that account? Use Gods means, and be thankful, if by degrees they do the care, and prevail at last.

Object. But I find it is God only that can speak peace; and therefore it is vain to hang on men.

I answer, God speaketh by his word and spirit: His word is to be delivered, expound­ed, and applyed to you by his Ministers: If therefore you will have it from God, you must not refuse his own appointed ordinary means. The spirit comforteth by the pro­mise: As in Conversion God useth not to do it by the spirit, without, but in, and by the Ministery of the word; so also in all our directions, and satisfaction and comfort afterwards. As he that will run from the Ministry of the word, because it is God that must convert, doth indeed run from [Page 424] God, and is not like to be converted: so is it in point of assurance, and consolation. The Teachers of the Church [are to be ac­counted of as the Ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God, 1 Cor. 4.1. by whom the people have believed, 1 Cor. 3.5. not having dominion over their faith, but being helpers of their joy, 2 Cor. 1.24. who are comforted in all their tribu­lations, that they might be able to comfort them that are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith they themselves are comforted of God, v. 4. They are to be faithful and wise stewards, whom the Lord maketh Rulers over his houshold to give them their portion of meat in due season, Luk. 12.42. Thus Christ hath given authority to his servants, and appointed to every man his work, Mark. 13.34. and given Pastors and Teachers to his Church, for the perfecting of the Saints for the work of the ministry, for the edify­ing of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the know­ledge of the son of God to a perfect man, Eph. 4.11, 12, 13. These therefore being Christs officers, and this their appointed work, we must receive so much of Gods mercies by their hands, as belongeth to their office to administer. [If there be a mes­senger [Page 425] with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness; then God is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransome: Job. 33.23, 24.

So that you see it is Gods way to shew to man his uprightness, and to speak peace to souls by his messengers and interpre­ters that are fitted and authorized there­to.

Object. But it is but few that are able thus to discuss the case of unsetled doubting souls, and to give them clear and safe dire­ctions, that may save them both from pre­sumption and despair: In many places the Ministers are senseless of these things, and unacquainted with the concernments and works of conscience, and have nothing to say to us, unless to deride us as scrupulous and precise, and bid us not trouble our heads about such matters, seeing God is merciful, and Christ dyed for sinners: They will discourse with us long enough about news, or worldly businesses, or opinions, or contro­versies; but when we open to them the state of our souls, and desire their advice for the making our calling and election sure, they have no sense or savour of such discourse: [Page 426] And many ministers that are truly Consci­entious, are yet so unskilful and so weak that we have no encouragement to acquaint them with our state.

To this I answer: It cannot be denyed but all this is too true; and it is matter of lamentation, and must send us to God with the old petition which Christ himself hath put into our mouths, Math. 9.37, 38. [The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few: Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.]

But consider that this is no wonder, or unusual thing: For all this, there is no nation under heaven that hath more able faithful Ministers of Christ, then are in these Nations. Alas how much of the Church is guided by meer ignorant Readers! and how much by superstitious deceivers! Did you know the case of the poor Christians in the Ethiopian, the Greek, and the Ro­man Churches, you would bless God that it is so well with us: Even when the Church was in a narrower room, yet God complain­ed, Jer. 12.10. [Many Pastors have de­stroyed my vineyard: they have trodden my Portion under foot: they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness: They [Page 427] have made it desolate: and being desolate it mourneth unto me:] And Jer. 23.1, 2. [Wo be to the Pastors that destroy and scat­ter the sheep of my Pasture, saith the Lord: therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the Pastors that feed my people: Ye have scatted my flock and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold I will visit on you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.] And I will set up shepherds over them that shall feed them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed] Then was the Church fain to take up this lamentation, Jer. 10.19, 20.21. Woe is me, my hurt! for my wound is grievous: But I said, Tru­ly this is a grief, and I must bear it: my ta­bernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains: For the Pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scat­tered.]

But the voice of healing mercy saith [Only acknowledge thine iniquity, &c. Turn O back sliding children, &c. and I will give you Pastors according to my heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and [Page 428] understanding,] Jer. 3.13, 14, 15.

You see in all other professions (that require not supernatural illumination) there are but few that attain to excellency: It is but in few that Nature layeth the foundati­on in, or giveth that capacity, to be excel­lent, which Grace doth elevate and im­prove.

Take therefore the advice of the ablest you can get: If most Physicions are weak and ignorant, do not therefore cast off all, nor yet cast your selves upon one that is like to kill you, because he is your neighbour. I will not perswade you to go always to the Minister of your Parish, to open the case of your souls, be he fit or unfit: but to the fittest that you can have access to: The Papists themselves will give men leave to choose others for their Confessors. Where there is most of the heavenly illumi­nation, and holy skill in the matters of the soul; where there is the soundest and ex­actest judgement, joyned with experience and tender compassion, and faithful plainess, and cautelous secresie, there open your hearts if you have opportunity, and take the help of such faithful counsellors to acquaint you with your selves.

[Page 429]Object. But such Ministers being few, and having more of greater work then they can turn them to, are not to be spoken with [...] oft as my necessity requireth help.

Answ. Use then the best that are at leisure; And it is not only Ministers that you must use, but any other Christian friend, that hath such abilities and qualifi­cations, as fit them to assist you; Whosoever hath the Light, refuse not to come to it; Gods gifts and graces may be helpful to you in a Parent, a husband, a neighbour, and not only in a Minister.

Quest. But how far may a dark and doubting person take up and rest in the judgement of a Minister or of others, about the state of his soul, when he is not satisfied himself?

Answ. This Question is of very great use, and therefore the more carefully to be resolved; I shall answer it therefore, 1. Negatively, and 2. Affirmative­ly.

1. No mans judgement of your state is to be taken as absolutely infallible or di­vine: nor is man to be believed as God is with a divine belief: when they tell you, that [If you are regenerate, you are justi­fied] then they do but tell you what God [Page 430] hath told you, and therefore this is to be taken as of infallible certainty, not as it is their word, but as it is Gods: so also when they tell you, that [if you are unconvert­ed you are not forgiven] But when they tell you, that [you are converted or uncon­verted, pardoned or unpardoned,] this judge­ment is not to be taken as infallible or Di­vine.

2. For the bare matter of fact (whether you Repent or not; whether you had rather be Holy or unholy, &c.) there is no Mini­ster that can know your Heart so well as you your selves may know it: except in case when Melancholy or passion, or a weakness of understanding on one side, or a wilfulness of presumption on the other side, doth make men judge of their own condition quite contrary to the evidence that appeareth in their lives to others.

3. It is not safe to rest on the judgement of one that is either an enemy or stranger to the workings of a careful troubled soul; or of one that is drunk with any heresie, or fond of any private opinion of his own, and layeth out his zeal to form people into his opinion, as if the life of Religion lay in that: Nor yet of a weak unskilful man.

[Page 431]4. It is not safe for you to rest much in the [...]udgement of one that knows you not, and not acquainted (by himself, or by the [...]port of others, or some good evidence) of [...]he bent and manner of your lives, but must [...]dge only by the present expressions of your [...]wn mouths.

5. It is not safe for you to rest on the [...]dgement of any one singular person, when [...]e judgement of most of your judicious [...]cquaintance is contrary to it. So much [...]or the Negative,

2. Affirmatively I answer, 1. By a [...]vine faith you are bound to believe all [...]e promises of Scripture that your Pastor [...]or any other) shall acquaint you with.

2. As a Disciple of Christ, you are [...]ound to Learn the meaning of those Pro­ [...]ises (and other passages of the Scripture) [...]rom your Teachers daily authorized to [...]struct you: And with such a Humane [...]lief, as a schollar oweth to his Teacher [...] Arts or Sciences, you are bound to Be [...]lieve your Teachers concerning the mean­ [...]ng of the promises, in cases wherein you [...] unable your selves to understand the word by its proper light and evidence, as [...]ell as they; and in case you see no evi­dence of falshood in their exposition, nor [Page 430] [...] [Page 431] [...] [Page 432] have any special reason to distrust them. [...] that will believe nothing that his Teach [...] telleth him in order to his own understan [...]ing, shall never understand by Teaching▪ If you know as much as he already, yo [...] need no Teacher: If you do not, you mu [...] believe him, or else you can never learn [...] him. But this is not to take him for om [...]niscient, or infallible in himself, but [...] credit him as a man.

3. You are bound, when he judgeth [...] your particular case, upon your opening t [...] him the matter of fact, to allow him so muc [...] credit as is due to the proportion of his un [...]derstanding. You tell him how you fe [...] your hearts affected, and what the actions [...] your lives have been; when you have tol [...] it him, he judgeth by Gods word, whethe [...] this be a state of saving grace which yo [...] describe, or not; if upon much stronger parts or longer study, and more experience, h [...] know more of the meaning of the word and of the nature of grace, and so be able to judge then you, modesty requireth tha [...] you do in that measure submit your under­standing unto his, and believe him accord­ing to the measure of his skil, upon suppo­sition that you deceive him not in your in­formation. Even as you will believe a [...] [Page 433] [...]awyer about your Title to your lands, [...]hen you have shewed him your evidence; [...] a Physicion about your disease, when [...]ou have told him what you feel (as I said [...]efore.)

4. You are bound to add also all that credit [...]hat his Honesty and fidelity requireth, if [...]e be a godly man, unwilling to deceive [...]ou.

5. And you are bound to add so much [...]elief as in the case is due to a stander by [...]hat is out of the dust, and is not blinded by self-love, or partiality, or passions, or any [...]lfish byas, as most men are to them­selves.

6. If you are darkened by melancholly, [...]r any other weakening distemper, that maketh you uncapable of judging for your selves, you are bound to allow another so much credit, as the advantage of his sounder understanding, and more composed judge­ment doth require. If every Child, or sick person will believe no body that doth not say as they, their self-conceitedness and their distrust of others will be their wrong.

7. In the manner of reception, you are bound to do all this with such a submission as belongeth to an officer of Christ: Not that you are to believe any falshood, that he [Page 434] bringeth you, and fathereth upon Christ nor to put out your own eyes, and see wit [...] his: But to learn of him to understan [...] your selves, and receive what he bringet [...] you according to his office: As a child [...] bound to submit to any Tutor or Teache [...] that the Parents shall set over him. Th [...] same truth must be received as from a doubl [...] obligation, when besides it proper evidenc [...] it is delivered by a messenger of Christ.

8. You may yet more boldly and confi­dently give credit to the judgement of suc [...] a Minister of Christ, when he not singular but speaks according to the concurren [...] judgement of the generality of able experi­enced men Modesty will forbid you to thin [...] your selves wiser then all the able Minister [...] about you.

9. You have the less reason to suspect hi [...] judgement, when you may be sure that he i [...] not perverted by any self-interest, or self-respect, and bawketh not the truth for fea [...] of displeasing you, or bringing any discredi [...] or suffering on himself.

10. Lastly, when all these things concur you may with the greater confidence res [...] upon his Judgement. And though still he i [...] but an imperfect man, and no absolute cer­tainty of your estate can be had from his [Page 435] bare judgement (though from his doctrine [...]nd the Effects and Signs there may,) yet such a Judgement, should weigh very much with you, to the raising of fear and care in the ungodly, and for the quieting of a troubled soul.

Let us a little now apply this Direction to both parties. Beloved Hearers, if any of you can look before you to eternity, and do not with awakened thoughts conclude, that all probable means should be used in time, to make sure of your final Justification at the dreadful day of God, that man wants either the faith of a Christian, or the feel­ing of a considerate man. Are you all de­sirous to be sure before hand, what sentence shall pass upon you then, or are you not? If you are, come on, and let me make a motion that you cannot reasonably refuse: The business is of unspeakable consequence: To be deceived, may be to be undone for ever: Will you advise with those that God hath ap­pointed to give you advice in so great a case? Well then! will you go and faithfully open your state (supposing you have the need before expressed) to some able faithful Minister of Christ? Not to an ignorant, or a carnal, unexperienced man; but unto once that is skilled in spiritual affairs, and [Page 436] that will be faithful to you, and deal with that serious gravity and reverence as be­seems him that is helping to prepare a sou [...] for the bar of Christ: Will you (if you never did it) tell him, whether ever you were convinced of yovr sin and misery; and whether ever you saw the need of Christ? and whether you have loathed your selves for your iniquities? and fle [...] to Christ as your only refuge from the wrath of God? and have turned away with resolution from your former ungodly careless life? and have changed your company, your business, and your de­lights? Whether you make it your chief business to please God, and to save your souls? and resolve to take up with the hopes of Heaven as your only portion,, and not to hazzard it, for any wordly interest, or fleshly pleasure whatsoever? whether in your eyes a vile person be contemned, but you love and honour them that fear the Lord? Tell these and other such particulars of your state to your faithful Pastors; Answer them to these, and such like questions, and then take their judgement (with the cautions before expressed) of your spiritual state. Heare what they will tell you of it. Might not this course convince thee of thy [Page 437] miserable state, that never hadst any such evidences as these to shew! and might it not awaken thee in time, to bethink thee of a safer course! Go to any faithful Minister in the world and tell him the plain truth, that yet thou art a secret fornicator or drunkard, or pot companion, or flesh-pleaser in some sensual way; or if thou sinnest not so grosly, that yet thou art a formal hypo­crite, and hast a secret enmity to those that are most seriously Religious, and live the most heavenly lives, and that thou art thy self a stranger to all the foresaid passages of san­ctification; and I dare assure thee that he will tell thee if thou art thus indeed thou art in the gall of bitterness & the bond of iniquity, and must be speedily renewed and sanctified and justified, or thou art undone for ever. I tell thee, there is not a man that is worthy the name of a Minister in all the world, but will pass this judgement on the condition of thy soul. And yet wilt thou bear it our with a senseless heart, a seared conscience, and a brazen face, and still live as carelesly as if all were well with thee▪ what is thy soul of no more worth? Is it so small a matter with thee what becometh of thee? Or is the judgement of able faithful Mini­sters in the way of their own office, of no [Page 436] [...] [Page 437] [...] [Page 438] more regard with thee? What not when all the foresaid requisites concur! They shew thee the plain word of God against thee; and that his Threatning contains the vertual sentence of thy condemnation; They are by office the Interpreters of the Law of God to you; It hath been the study of their lives: The matters in question are such as they have had experience of in themselves and others: They have judged as hardly of themselves and of their own case, as now they do of yours when theirs was the same as yours is now. Do they pronounce you miserable as being strangers to the spirit of Christ? So they did by themselves when they saw their sin: and therefore they are impartial: They have had before them multitudes, (alas too many) in your case: And you will regard the judgement of a Physicion that hath had many hundreds in hand that had the same disease as you. They are men that are not willing to deceive you. They deny themselves in telling you of your danger: They know that smoother words would please you better: And they have natures that desire mens love and fa­vour, rather then displeasure and ill will. They are more impartial then you are, and have not your self-interest and passion to [Page 439] blind them: They are not abused in their judgement by the temptations of evil com­pany, or of worldly fleshly things as you are; For these temptations more hinder us from judging our selves then other men. They are the messengers of Christ appointed to give to each their portion: and should not their judgement be regarded in the busi­ness committed to their trust? And it is not one man or two, or a hundred only, that are of this mind: Open thy case to all the ju­dicious faithful Ministers in the land, or in the world, and open it truly, and they will all tell thee that if thou die without converting sanctifying grace, thou art lost for ever; and that all the world cannot save thee from the everlasting wrath of God. Try as many of them as you will, and see if all of them tell you not the same thing. And is all this nothing to thee, presumptuous sin­ner, that in the judgement of all the most able faithful Minsters of Christ, thy soul should be in a state of death? Art thou wiser then all the best and wisest, in the matters of their own profession? If all the Physicions in the countrey should tell thee, that thou hast a disease that will certainly be thy death, unless thou take some ene effectual medicine in time, I think thou wouldest not [Page 440] sl [...]ght their judgement, and say, They are too censorious, that thou knowest thy con­dition better then they! I think it would affright thee to seek after the remedy. And why should not the judgement of the faithful Ministers, about the state of thy soul, be so far regarded, as to awaken thee to a more careful enquiry, and stir up a prevent­ing and remedying fear? If the judgement of Christs officers be not regardable, then there is no matter of terror in excommunication; nor no matter of comfort in Minist [...]rial Ab­solution.

O the madness of a hardened sinner! that when he sheweth by the fruits of an ungodly life that he is a stranger to sancti­fication, and liveth in the sins which the Scripture threatneth damnation to, and hath no evidence of true conversion to shew, will yet be confident of pardon and salvation, let God and all his Ministers say what they will against it [...] and will rather be offended with h [...]s spiritual Physicions, for telling him of the danger of his state, and rail at them as if they did him wrong, then he will see his danger and prevent his misery! Let such a one hear the word of God, if he have eares to hear, Deut. 29.19, 20, 21: [Lest there should be among you a root that [Page 441] beareth gall wormwood, and it come to pass when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagi­nation of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousie shall smoak against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under hea­ven, & the Lord shall separate him to evil, &c.]

And on the other side, Is there any soul among you that in doubts, and trouble, hath opened his case to the faithful Mini­sters of Christ, and their judgement is, that your state is safe? Is this the judge­ment, not only of the weakest, but the wisest; not only of strangers, but of those that know you best; not only of one, or two, but of all or most of the judicious Mini­sters, that ever you opened you case to? even of the most honest and impartial, that would not flatter you nor deceive you? Yea and perhaps, when desertions, or Me­lancholy, or passion, or ignorance do make you unmeet to judge of your selves: And doth all this seem nothing to you? or a small matter? It is not nothing: It is not small: I confess it is no ground of cer­tainty: [Page 442] They are but men: It is a humane testimony: But yet it is a testimony, that may weigh down many of your own surmi­ses, and take off much of your distressing fears; and may give much ease to troubled souls, while they are seeking after surer knowledge: It is a ground of comfort, not to be despised, or made light of: Till you can come to see your evidences your selves, and to be acquainted with the indwelling spirit as your witness, you may much quiet your minds, and take much comfort, in this judgement and witness of the servants of the Lord, that have a spirit of discerning ▪ and have that grace which acquainteth them with the nature of grace in others, and that have been long exercised in the discerning of mens states: It is possible an Hypocrite (especially one that wilfully giveth them a false relation of himself) may deceive them: but it is Probable that it is not one of many they are deceived in, when they know or have a good description of the Person. If in a Law suit all the ablest Law­yers tell you that your cause is good; it is possible they may be deceived, but it is not likely; If in a Feaver all the ablest Physi­cions tell you, the danger is past, it is possible yet that they may be all deceived: But yet [Page 443] I think you would take some comfort in such a testimony; so should you here: Though the Judgement of Ministers be not infallible, it may be much better then your own, though about your selves: and it may be set against the jealousies and fears of a disquiet soul, and against abundance of the molesting suggestions of the accuser.

I do not by all this draw you to lay too much on man; I advance them not too high, and make them not Lords of your faith, but helpers of your Joy. I draw you not to any deceitful course; nor into any way of danger to your souls. I bid you not fully and finally rest in the judgement of man: I bid you not neglect any means to come to fuller knowledge, and certainty of your own sincerity: I bid you not forbear any means that tend to the getting of true grace: If you have it and know it not, the same means (for the most part) may increase it, which you use to get it: And if you have it not, when it is thought you have it, the means may work it, that that are intended to increase it. Do all that you can to Repent, Believe, and Love God, and Live to him, whether you ever did these before, or not: But yet let the judgement of your faithful Pastors, the [Page 444] officers and experienced servants of the Lord, keep of despondency and despair that would disable you from the use of means, and would weaken your hands, and make you sit down in unprofitable complaints, and give up all as hopeless. Let their judgement quiet you in the way of duty; Lean on them in the dark, till you come into the light. Yea be glad that you have so much encouragement and hope, from those that are by Christ ap­pointed to subserve the spirit in the com­forting as well as the sanctifying work, and to shew to man his uprightness, and to say to the Righteous, It shall be well with him, Isa. 3.10. I tell you, all the wealth of the world, is not worth even this much ground of comfort: Live upon this much, till by diligent attendance and waiting on the spirit of grace and comfort, you can get higher.

2. THE second extrinsical Hinderance of self-knowledge, is, Prosperity and the Flattery that usually attendeth it. The one disposeth men to be deceived, and the other putteth the hood over their eyes, and tells them the falshoods which deceive them.

[Page 445]When men prosper in the world, their [...]inds are lifted up with their estates; and [...]hey can hardly believe that they are in­ [...]eed so ill while they feel themselves so [...]ell; and that so much misery is joyned with [...]o much content and pleasure. They cannot [...]aste the bitterness of their sin, and Gods dis­pleasure, while the sweetness of worldly de­ [...]ghts & honours is in their mouths. The Rich [...]an in Luk. 16. its like would have given [...] man but an unwelcome entertainment, [...]hat had come to tell him that within a few days or years he should lie in hell, and not [...]e able to get a drop of water to cool his [...]ongue! What need we doubt of that, when his five Brethren that he left on earth behind him, would not be perswaded (to know their danger of those flames, and to use the necessary means to scape them) though one had come to them from the dead! Luk. 16.31. You plead against their feeling, when you tell them of their misery, when they feel prosperity: Their fleshly appetite and sense, which is in them the reigning faculty, doth tell them they are well and happy: and that which must confute this, and tell them they are miserable, must be an inward sense of the sin and diseases of their souls, and a fore­seeing [Page 446] Faith that must look before the [...] unto eternity, and fetch its proofs fro [...] the word of God, and fetch its motive from another world: And alas, they hav [...] no such inward sense, nor no such Faith [...] can prevail against their their sensual feel [...]ing. And therefore it is a matter of lamen [...]table difficulty to make a prospering sinne [...] well acquainted with his misery. He [...] drunken with fleshly pleasures and con [...]tentments: And when the drink is in a mans head, you can hardly make him sensi [...]ble of his misery, though he be a beggar or a prisoner, or were to die within a week▪ The Devil is therefore willing to reach hi [...] servants as full a cup of prosperity as h [...] can, that their drunkenness may keep them from the true use of their reason; Fo [...] if they once come to themselves, they wil [...] come home to God. When misery brought the Prodigal to himself, he resol­veth presently of going to his Father, Luk. 15. The bustle of his worldly busi­ness, and the chattering vain discourse, that is in his ears, and the mirth and sport that takes him up, will not allow him so much of reason as seriously to consider of his souls condition. Alas, when poor men, that must labour all day for food, and [Page 447] [...]ayment, can find some time for serious converse with God and with their Con­sciences; the Great ones of the world have [...]o such leisure: How many are going [...]pace towards Hell, and say they cannot [...]ave while to bethink themselves what [...]ay they are in, or whether it is that they are going! That which they have all their time for, they have no time for, because they have no hearts for it. Prosperity doth so please their flesh, that they can give no heed to conscience or to reason: It doth so charm their minds, and enslave their wills to sense and appetite, that they cannot abide to be so Melancholy is to prepare for death and judgement, or to consider seriously how this will relish with them at the end: nor scare to re­member that they are men, that should rule their senses, and be ruled by God, and that have another life to live.

And as Prosperity in it self is so great a Hinderance to the knowledge of your selves, so Flatterers that are the flies of summer, are always ready to blow upon the prospe­rous, and increase the danger. What miserable men are extolled as wise and vir­tuous and Religious, if they be but Rich and Great! Their vices are masked, or