Clearly proved, and singularly improved: Or, a Practical CATECHISM, wherein some of the most concerning-foundations of our Faith are so­lidely laid down: And that Doctrine, which is according to Godliness, sweetly, yet pungently pressed home, and most satisfyingly handled.

By that worthy and faithfull Servant of Iesus Christ, Mr. Hew Binning, late Minister of the Gospel at Goven

The 5. Impression, carefully corrected & amended.

1 Tim. 4. 6. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good Minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the Word of faith and of good Doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

Heb. 5. 12. For when for the time ye ought to be Teachers, ye have need that one teach you again, which be the first Principles of the Oracles of God.

1 Pet. 2. 2. As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.

Joh. 17. 3. And this is life eternall, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.


Printed by R. S. Printer to the Town of Glasgow, 1666.


Christian Reader,

THe holie and learned Author of this little Book, having out-run his years, hastned to a maturity before the ordinary season, in so much that ripe Summer Fruit was found with him by the first of the Spring: for before he had lived twenty five years compleat, he had got to be Philologus, Philosophus, Theologus, eximi­us, whereof he gave sutable proofs, by his labors, having first professed in Philosophy three years, with high appro­bation, in the Universitie of Glasgow, and thence was translated to the Ministrie of the Gospel in a Congrega­tion adjacent, where he laboured in he work of the Gos­pel near four years, leaving an epistle of commendation upon the hearts of his Hearers: But as few burning and shining lights have been of long continuance here: so he (after he had served his own generation by the wil of God and many had rejoiced in his light for a season) was quicklie transported to the land of Promise, in the 26th, year of his age. He lived deservedly esteemed & beloved, and died much lamented, by all descerning Christians who knew him: And, indeed, the loss which the Churches of Christ in these parts, sustained in his death, w [...] [...]he greater upon a double account: First, that he was a per­son fitted with dexteritie to vindicate School divinitie, and Practical Theology▪ from the superfluity of vain and fruitless perplexing questions, wherewith latter times have corrupted both, and [...] it upon his spirit in all his way to reduce that native Gospel-simplicitis, which (in most parts of the world, where literature is in esteem, and where the Gospel is preached) is almost exiled from the School and from the Pulpit; a specimen whereof the judicious Reader may find in this little Treatis. Besides [...]e was a person of eminent moderation, and sobrietie of [Page] spirit (a rare grace in this generation) whose heart was much drawn forth in the study of healing wayes and con­deseensions of love among Brethren; one who longed for the recovering of the Humanity of Christianity, which hath been well near lost in the bitter divisions of these times, and the animosities which have followed therupon.

That which gave the rise to the publishing of this part of his manuscripts, was partly the longing of many (who knew him) after some fruit of his labours, for the use of the Church; and partly the exceeding great usefulness of the Treatise, wherein, I am bold to say, that some funda­mentals of the Christian Religion & great Mysteries of Faith, are handled with the greatest Gospel-simplicity & most dexterious plainness, & are brought down to the meanest capacitie, and vulgar understanding, with a­bundant evidence of a great height and reach of usefull knowledge in the Author. Who had he lived to have per­fected the explication of the grounds of Religion in this manner, as he intended, in his opening the Catechisme unto his particular Congregation, he had been, upon this single account, famous in the Churches of Christ: But now, by this imperfect opus post humum, thou are left to judge ex ungue leonem.

The Authors Method was his peculiar gift, who being no stranger to the Rules of Art, knew well how to make his method subserve the matter which he handled for though he tell not alwayes that his discourse hath so many parts, thou mayst not think it wants method, it being ma­ximum artis celare artem, that the same spirit which enabled him to conceive, & communicate to others, these sweet mysteries of Salvation, may help thee with profite to read and peruse them, is the desire of him who is

Thine in the service of the Gospel, PATRICK GILLESPIE.


SERMON I. Rom. 11. 36. Of him, and through him, &c. 1 Cor. 10, 31. Of the chief End of Man.
  • THe Fundamentals of Religion, necessary to be pondered and imprinted into the soul. Page 1.
  • Our chief end first to be considered. p. 2
  • God is independent and self-sufficient, but the most perfect of the Creatures are from another, as their first cause, and for another, as their last end. p. 3
  • Self-seeking in Creatures monsterous p. 4
  • What self-seeking in God is. ibid.
  • Man is in a peculiar way for God. p. 5
  • Sin hath exautorated Man. ibid.
  • What it is to glorifie God, and how Gods glorifying of us, and our glorifying of him differs. p. 6, & 7
  • How proper it is for man to praise God. p. 8
  • Whether we can alwayes have an express particular thought of God and his glory in every action. p. 9
  • Man is come short of all he was created for. ibid.
  • Glorifying of God the end of Mans second Creation. p. 10
  • We are to consider for what purpose we were made. p. 11
  • Believing the most compendious way of glorifying God. ib. p. 12.
SERMON II. Psal. 73. 24, 25. &c. 1 Joh. 1. 3. Joh. 17. 21, 22. Union and Communion with God, the principall end, and great design of the Gospel.
  • [Page]GODS glory, and mans happiness, inseparably linked together. p. 13
  • Mans dignity above the rest of the creatures. p. 14
  • A twofold Union betwixt God and Adam, whence communion with him flowed. p. 14, 15
  • The Fall hath broken off Communion with him, by dissolving the Union. p. 16
  • Christ the repairer of the breach betwixt God and man. p. 17, 18.
  • There is neither full seeing of God, nor full enjoying of him here. p. 19
  • The Union of a believing soul with God, is a great depth. p. 20
  • Love an uniting and transforming thing. ibid.
  • Christ's Union with the Father is the foundation of our Union with God, and among ourselves; not simply that Union of Essence between the Father and the Son, but the Union of God with Christ as Mediator. p. 21
  • How should an Union and Communion with God draw forth our souls in desires after such a blessed­ness. p. 22
  • The enjoyment of God the scope and design which few drive. ibid.
  • He who ingages not his whole soul to God, cannot truly ingage any part of it to him. p. 23.
SERMON III. 2 Tim. 3. 16. Of the Scriptures.
  • THat which most men seek, is not true happi­ness. p. 24
  • [Page] The principles of reason, and light of nature, are be­come so dark, that they cannot direct us in the path­way to everlasting blessedness. p. 25
  • The authority of the Scriptures divine. p. 26
  • How the Apostles and Prophets knew that they spake truth, and how men may be perswaded that the Scriptures are the Word of God. ibid.
  • The simplicity and plainness of the Scripture. p. 27
  • The Spirit of God must open a mans eyes before he understand the Scriptures. p. 28
  • The Utility of the Scriptures. p. 29
  • The Scriptures a Doctrine of Eternal life. p. 30
  • The sharpness of the Scripture mingled with sweet­ness. p. 31
  • Some cannot hear the word of reproof, others prefer their own vain imaginations to the Word of God. p. 32, 33
SERMON IV. Joh. 5. 39. Eph. 2. 20. Of the Scriptures.
  • THe Lamp of the Word without, and the light of the Spirit within, necessary for directing us in the way to eternal life. p. 34
  • Why the multitude find no sweetnes in the Scriptures p. 35
  • How eternal life is to be found in the Scripture p. 36
  • It may commend the Scriptures to us, that Eternal life is to be found in them. p. 37
  • We are to lay this present perishing life in the bal­lance with eternal life, and compare both the hap­piness and miseries of this life with eternal blessed­ness. p. 38
  • Many groundlessely fancy, that they have a right to everlasting life. p. 39
  • Most of the Hearers of the Gospel have either to [Page] knowledge at all, or nothing but knowledge. p. 40
  • Life Eternal is no where to be found out but of Jesus Christ. p. 41, 42
  • Some foolishly think; that if they do all they can, then God ought to be pleased p 43
  • Christ the only pacificatory sacrifice. p. 44
  • Christ is either the subject, or end, of all that is in the Scriptures. p. 45
  • The march which divides between heaven and hell, is, coming to Christ. p. 45, 46
  • The necessity of searching the Scriptures, and what search it must be. p. 47
  • The Rule whereby to measure our profiting in the Scriptures. p. 48, 49
SERMON V. Eph. 2. 20. Of the Scriptures.
  • BElievers, the Temple of the living God. p. 50
  • Christ in the Scriptures a sure foundation to build upon; all other foundations, sandy and unsure. p. 51
  • How firm and stable a foundation the Word of the Lord is. p. 52
  • A Promise layes an obligation on the Promiser, which a command doth not on the commander. p. 53
  • All the Promises are Yea, and Amen, in Christ. ibid
  • The chief point of Obedience is faith, and what that is. p 54
  • Christ is the Corner-stone as well as the foundation: which should strongly perswade Christians to an union in Affection. p. 55
  • What kind of foundation Christ is. ibid.
  • Some prefer their own imaginations to the Word of the Lord, under the dark notion of new light. p. 56
  • Many have nothing but the word of man for the foun­dation of their Faith. p. 57.
SERMON VI. 2 Tim. 1 13. Of the Scriptures.
  • [Page]ALL Religion may be reduced to these two what we are to believe, and what we ough to do. p. 58
  • God manifests himself differently to Man, according to his different state. p. 59, 60
  • The marvellousness of mercy in saving of lost sinners. p. 61 62
  • What manner of Persons Believers ought to be p. 63, 64
  • [...]belief ruined man at first. p. 65
  • A twofold mistake of the nature of Faith. ibid.
  • What course a soul is to take who questions its inte­rest. p. 66, 67
  • The mistake of the nature of Faith leads many well­meaning persons into labyrinth. p. 68
  • What Faith is. p 69
  • What a soul ought to do that is sentenced by the law. ibid.
  • The faith of a Christian no fancy. p. 70, 71
  • Love is unitive and operative. ibid.
  • Love is put for all obedience, and how it is the fulfil­ling of the. p. 72
  • God is pleased with no service that proceeds not from love, and why. p. 73, 74
  • How to attain to the distinct knowledge of our love to God, and the way to increase it. p. 75
  • Who cannot hold fast the truth. p. 76
  • When man lost his holiness, he could not retain his happiness. ibid.
  • The necessity of holding fast the form of sound words and of forbearing strange words. p. 77
SERMON VII, and VIII. Exod. 3. 13, 14. Of the Name of God.
  • [Page]IT is impossible to declare what God is. p. 78
  • How we may know that there is a God. ibid.
  • Naturall men are Atheists. p. 79
  • God's Name a mystery that cannot be conceived or expressed. p. 80, 81, 82, 83.
  • This name, I AM THAT I AM, imports his un­searchableness. p. 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93
  • His absolutness and soveraignity. p. 94
  • His unchangeableness and Eternity. p. 95, 96, 97
  • How impossible it is for a mortall creature to find out God to perfection, yet so much may be known of him as is sufficient to teach us our duty, and ma [...] us happy in obedience. p. 98, 99
  • The saving knowledge of God a self-emptying, and self-abasing thing. p. 100, 101
  • Why God hath called himself by so many names. ibid.
SERMON IX. Exod. 24. 5, 6, 7. What God is to us.
  • GOD is loath to depart, even when he is provo­ked to go away. p. 102, 103, 114
  • Infirmity and iniquity puts us into an incapacity of nearness with God. p. 105, 106
  • It is God himself who only can teach a soul to know what he is. p. 107
  • One who considers how al-sufficient God is, & how empty and insufficient all other things are, must needs cleave to him. p. 108
  • God vents himself towards the creatures, either in a way of Justice or Mercy. p. 109
  • There is a Tribunall of Justice, and a Throne of Mercy erected in the word, so that every sentenced [Page] sinner may appeal from the Bar of Justice to Christ Jesus, sitting on the Throne of Mercy. p. 110, 111.
  • The Name of the Lord, rightly considered, is suffici­ent to answer all possible objections that a sinner can make against coming to Christ; and what those objections are. p. 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117
  • Many souls suck delusion and destruction out of the sweet and saving Promises of life, which are held forth in the Gospel. p. 118, 119.
SERMON X. Joh. 4. 24. What God is.
  • THe knowledge of what God is, presupposed to all true worship & Christian walking: p. 120
  • How mishapen apprehensions we have of God. p. 121
  • That God is a spirit, shews us that he is not like any visible thing. p. 122
  • That he is invisible, & dwels in light inaccessible. ib.
  • That he is most perfect, & most powerful. p. 123, 124
  • That he cannot be circumscribed by any place. p. 125
  • And there is no comprehension of his knowledge. p. 126, 127
  • It were of excellent use and advantage for us to be all the day in the faith of Gods infinite knowledge and omniscience. p. 128.
SERMON XI. Joh. 4. 26. The true knowledge that God is, and that he is to be worshipped, goes together.
  • HOw inexcusable they are, who profess to be­lieve a Diety, & do not worship him. p. 129
  • It is the souls honour and happiness to worship God. p. 130
  • It's all one, not to worship God at all, and not to wor­ship him as he hath commanded. p. 131
  • [Page] What will-worship, and what true worship is. p. 132
  • The most part of worship, though commanded, hath no truth in it. p. 133
  • Truth in worship is opposed to Ceremony. p. 134
  • Many place all their Religion in externalls. p. 135
  • Men ought to be most taken up with that in Religion upon which God layes most weight, and wherein he is most delighted. p. 136
  • It compleats our worship, when the thing commanded is performed, according as it is commanded. p. 137
  • What is the right manner in worshipping God. p. 138
  • The best litle acquainted with spiritual worship. p. 139
  • True worship must have the stamp of Gods spiritual nature engraven on it. p. 140
  • External worship necessary under the Gospel. p. 141
  • The soul and spirit must be the first mover and chief agent in spiritual worship. p. 142
  • The greatest part of our Religion is bodily exercise. ibid.
  • What makes Religion burdensome and unpleasant to us. p. 143
  • Formality in worship, the greatest controversie against the land. ibid.
SERMON XII. Deut. 6. 4. 1 Joh. 5. 7. Of the Unity of Gods essence and the Trinity of Persons.
  • GOdliness and Mystery. p. 144
  • There is an unlawfull curiosity in men, to know those things that are kept secret. p. 145
  • We are to believe the mystery of the Trinity, though we know not how it is. p. 146
  • The light of reason may convince men, that there is but one God. p. 147
  • Why Christ is called the Word p. 148, 149
  • Of the three Witnesses upon earth. p. 150
SERMON XIII. Deut. 6. 4. Joh. 5. 7. Of the Unity of the God-head, and Trinity of Persons.
  • [Page]THe whole Word of God profitable. ibid.
  • The unsearchableness of this mystery of the Trinity ought to compose our hearts to a reve­rend apprehension of Gods divine Majesty. p. 151
  • Since there is but one God, we ought to have no o­ther besides him. p. 152, 153
  • We have much and strong consolation both from the thing witnessed, and from the Witnesses that bear testimony. p. 154, 155
  • Faiths victory is from the object of it, the Lord God Almighty. p. 156
  • Few consider that Jesus Christ the Saviour is the E­ternall Son of God, and the sad consequences there­of. p. 157
  • We are ready so far to mis-conceive of God, as if the Father, and the holy Ghost, were not so well min­ded to the Salvation of sinners as Jesus Christ. p. 158
  • The mystery of the Trinity affords us this plain in­struction, how me ought to worship God. p. 159
SERMON XIV. Eccles. 1. 11. Job 23. 13. Of the Decrees of God.
  • GODS absolute & self-sufficient perfection ad­mits of no accession of blessedness from the things which he hath made. p. 160
  • The Eternal purpose and Decree of God, it it most wise. p. 161
  • It is most absolute and free, having no cause without himself. p 162
  • [Page] It is the first rise of all things past, present, & to come. p. 163
  • It reaches to every particular being, and act, so that nothing falls out by chance. p. 164, 165
  • The purpose of God is one, and unchangeable. p. 166, 167
  • How we are to understand those Scriptures, which speak of his repenting. p. 168, 169
  • Whatever God hath purposed from Eternity, that he executes in time. p. 170
  • Gods commands do not so much signifie what he in­tends to effectuate, as what is our duty. ibid.
  • How comfortable it is for a Christian to consider, that whatsoever falls out, is according to an Eternall Counsel. p. 171
  • The Counsel of God irresistible. p. 172
  • The consideration of Gods Eternal Counsel should teach us that sweet Lesson of submission, wherein we are so much wanting, and so unwilling to learn p. 173
  • Want of submission makes a mans yoke heavy, and his bands strong. p. 174
  • From the absolute Dominion of God over all things, we are to learn confidence in him in all things, and for all things. p. 175, 176
  • Who are heirs of the promise. p. 177
  • It is a well-spring and fountain of consolation to the people of God that he is in one mind. p. 178
SERMON XV. Eph. 1. 11. Rom. 9. 22, 23. Of Predestination.
  • PRedestination a Mystery not to be curiously or boldly enquired into. p. 179
  • For the right up-taking of Predestination, we must know that there is not a plurality of purposes in [Page] God, but one intire purpose concerning all things. p. 180
  • As also, that it is not the creature, or any thing in the creature, which is first in his mind, but himself, and his own glory. p. 181
  • How men miscarry in conceiving of the purposes of God, while they subject the most High to the Rules of Carnall Reason: where, of the Armini­an fore-knowledge, and how it derogates both from the Soveraignty of God, and the wisdome of God. ib. p. 182
  • Some make that first in his intention, which is last in execution. p. 183, 184, 185, 186, 187
  • Gods saving the vessels of mercy, by a Redeemer, is not simply to manifest the glory of his goodness, but of his gracious and mercifull goodness. p. 188 189, 190
SERMON XVI. Rom. 9. 22. Eccles. 11. Of Predestination.
  • HOw to silence all the secret surmises and muti­nies of the heart concerning Predestination p. 191, 192
  • How great wickedness it is, to enquire into a cause of his will ibid.
  • Men speak wickedly for God in the matter of Prede­stination p. 193, 194, 195
  • The Objections of Carnall Reason against Predesti­nation, tending to accuse God and justifie men, answered. p. 196, 197, 198, 199
SERMON XVII. Heb. 11. 3. Of Creation.
  • [Page]GOD is the Creator of all things, & these things which he hath made prove him to be God. p. 200, 201
  • When this visible world was made. p. 202
  • The wickedness of mens curiosity, in enquiring what God was doing before he made the world, & why he was so long in applying himself to this work. ibid. p. 203
  • The Lord in the beginning of the world declares more manifestly his Eternity, his Self-sufficiency, and his Liberty. p. 204, 205
  • God made all things very good, to declare his good­ness and wisdome. p. 106
  • The course of nature is one continued wonder. ibid.
  • The power of God doth eminently appear in making all things of nothing, and how easie it was for him to do so. p. 207
  • Why the Lord took six dayes to perfect the work of Creation. p. 208
SERMON XVIII. Heb. 11. 3. Heb. 11. 4. Of Creation.
  • IT is not believed, or laid to heart, that God made the Heaven and the Earth. p. 209, 210
  • The faith of Gods making the world is of singular use to a Christian through his whole course. p. 211 212, 213
SERMON XIX. Gen. 1. 26. 27. Of the Creation of Man.
  • THe singular respect that God hath put upon Man, in creating him after His Own Image ibid. 214
  • [Page] How necessary it is for us to know the happy estate wherein we were created. p. 215
  • We are to consider what that Image of God was, which was stamped on man in the beginning. p. 216 217. 218
  • We should consider from what we are fallen, and how great that fall is. p. 219, 220
SERMON XX. Rom. 11. 36. Psal. 103. 13. Mat. 10. 29. Of Providence
  • THe Providence of God is either not at all be­lieved, or superficially considered. ib. 221, 222
  • The most common and known truths most sweet. p. 223
  • All things depend upon God as their producing, con­serving, and finall cause, and what power the Faith thereof hath to conform us to his Will. p. 224
  • The upholding of the World is a kind of repeated and continued Creation. p. 225
  • It is a most sutable exercise for a Christian to deduce all things from God as the first cause, and to reduce them all to him again with glory, as the last end. p. 226
  • How God governs the World. p. 227
  • The faith of Gods Supremacy over all things would encrease our fear of God, and abate our fear of o­thers. p. 228
SERMON XXI. Gen. 2. 17. Gen. 1. 26. Of the first Covenant made with Man.
  • THe severall draughts and lineaments of Gods I­mage, whereinto man was created. ibid. 229 p. 230
  • Man in innocency enjoyed a freedom from all fear [Page] of misery, and had a dominion over the creature. p. 231
  • There was a law imprinted in Adams heart, and a law prescribed unto him. p. 232
  • Of the positive law prescribed unto Adam, and of the reasons thereof. p 233
  • Many perform commanded duties, not because they are commanded. p. 234
  • The command and will of God should perswade to obediente, without any more enquiry or debate about the matter. p. 235, 236
SERMON XXII. Gal. 3. 12. Of the first Covenant.
  • THe wonderfull condescension of God, in ente­ring into covenant with Man. p. 237, 238
  • To speak strictly, there cannot be a proper covenant betwixt God and man. ibid.
  • Why God deals with man in the terms of a covenant. p. 240, 241
  • The terms of the first covenant, and what obedience it required. p. 242
  • Of the difference betwixt the first & second covenant. ibid.
  • Whether the first covenant did require faith, & what kind of Faith. p. 244
  • How the Law is not of Faith. ibid.
  • What the Fall hath made man now. p. 245
SERMON XXIII. Eccles. 7. 29. Of the state wherein man was created, and how the Image of God is defaced.
  • TRue Religion consists in the knowledge of God and of our selves. p. 246
  • That which we have to know of man, is, what God [Page] made him at the first, and what he hath now made himself. p. 247
  • We are to consider the sad consequence of the Fall. p. 248
  • All mens invention about the remedy of his misery vain. p. 249
  • How necessary it is for us, both to consider what we were, and what we now are. p. 250, 251
SERMON XXIV. Rom. 5. 12. Of sin by imputation and propagation.
  • HOw, and whence it is that Adams first trans­gression is imputed to all his posterity. p. 252
  • Gods gracious purpose in permitting the Fall. p. 253
  • Sin is entered into the word by imputation, p. 254
  • The hainousness of sin. p 255
  • What Original sin is, which is propagated to all A­dams posterity. p. 256
  • A right sight of Originall corruption is a humbling sight. p. 257
  • How profitably to look upon the evils of others. ibid.
  • Few are truly perswaded of the evil of their nature p. 258
  • Sin brings death into the world with it, and the ex­tent of that death. p. 259, 260
SERMON XXV 1 Tim. 1. 15. Of the way of Mans delivery.
  • THe Doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ, most sweet to a soul made sensible of its mercy. p. 261
  • Our help comes from that airth out of which we could not have expected it. p 262
  • Our sin and Gods justice, made salvation impossible to man. ibid.
  • [Page] Christ satisfies justice for us, and conquers our corru­ptions also. p. 263
  • How acceptable would the news of a Savior be to us, if we knew our misery without him. p. 264
  • The great thing which keeps men from reaping any real advantage by the Gospel, is this, that men do not either see the necessity and excellency of these things, or, That they do not believe the reality of them. p. 265

OF THE CHIEF END OF MAN. Rom. 11. 36. ‘Of Him, and through Him, and for Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever.’ And 1 Cor. 10, 31. ‘Whatsoeuer ye do, do all to the glory of God.’

ALL that men have to know, may be comprised under these two Heads, What their end is, and what is the right way to attain to that end: and all that we have to do, is, by any means to seek to compass that end. These are the two cardi­nall points of a mans knowledge and exercise: Quo & quâ cundem est, Whither to go, and what way to go. If there be a mistake in any of these fundamen­tals, all is wrong. All Arts and Sciences have their principles and grounds, that must be presupposed to all solid knowledge and right practice; So hath the true Religion some fundamentall principles, which must be laid to heart, and imprinted into the soul, or there can be no superstructure or true and saving knowledge; and no practice in Christianity that can lead to a blessed end. But as the principles are not many, but a few common and easie grounds, from which all the conclusions of Art are reduced; so the Principles of true Religion are few, and plain. They need neither burden your memory, nor confound your understanding; that which may save you is near hand; saith the Apostle, Rom. 10. in thy mouth: it is nei­ther too far above us, nor too far below us. But, alas! your not considering of these common, and few, and easie grounds, makes them both burdensome to the [Page 2] memory, and dark to the understanding. As there is nothing so easie, but it becomes difficult, if you do it against your will, nihil est tam facile, quin difficile fiat, si invitus feceri: So there is nothing so plain, so com­mon but it becomes dark and hard, if you do not in­deed consider it, and lay it to heart.

That which is in the first place to be considered, is, our End. As in all other arts, and every petty busi­ness, it hath the first place of consideration, so especi­ally in the Christian Religion. It is the first cause of all humane actions, and the first Principle of all deli­berate motions: Except you would walk at randome, not knowing whither you go, or what you do, you must once establish this and fix it in your intention. What is the great end and purpose wherefore I am created, and sent into the world? If this be not either questio­ned, or not rightly constituted, you cannot but spend your time, Vel nihil agendo, vel aliud agendo, vel male agendo, you must either do nothing, or nothing to purpose, or, that which is worse, that which will un­do you. It is certainly the wrong establishing of this one thing, that makes the most part of our motions, either altogether irregular, or unprofitable, or de­structive and hurtfull: Therefore as this point hath the first place in your Catechism, so it ought to be first of all laid to heart, and pondered as the one necessary thing. One thing is need full, saith Christ, Luk. 10. 22. And if any thing be in a superlative degree needfull, this is it. O that you would chuse to consider it, as the necessity and weight of it requires.

We have read two Scriptures, which speak to the ultimate and chief end of man, which is the glorifying of God by all our actions, and words, and thoughts. In which we have these things of importance. 1. That Gods glory is the end of our being. 2. That Gods glory should be the end of our doing. And 3. The [Page 3] ground of both these, because both being and doing are from him, therefore they ought to be both for him. He is the first cause of both, and therefore he ought to be the last end of both. Of him, and through him, are all things, and therefore all things are also for him, and therefore all things should be done to him.

God is independent altogether, and self-sufficient: This is his royall prerogative, wherein he infinitely transcends all created perfections: He is of himself, & for himself, from no other, & for no other, but of him, and for him are all things. He is the fountain-head, you ought to follow all the streams up to it, and then to rest: for you can go no further. But the creature, even the most perfect work besides God, it hath these two ingredients of Limitation and Imperfection in its bosome: It is from another, and for another. It hath its rise out of the fountain of Gods immense, power and goodness, and it must run towards that again, till it empty all its faculties and excellencies, into that same sea of goodness. Dependence is the proper no­tion of a created being: Dependence upon that infi­nite independent being, as the first immediate cause, and the last immediate end: You see then, that this principle is engraven in the very nature of man. It is as certain an evident, that man is made for Gods glo­ry, and for no other end, as that he is from Gods pow­er, and for no other cause: Except men did violent their own conscience, and put out their own eyes, as the Gentiles did, Rom. 1. 19. &c. That which might be known of mans chief end, is manifest in them, so that all men are without excuse. As God his Being is indepen­ [...]ent, so that he cannot be expressed by any name, more [...]table then such as he takes to himself, I am that I am: [...]mporting a boundless, ineffable, absolute, and tran­cendent being, beside which, no creature deserves so much as to have the name of being, or to be made [Page 4] mention of in one day with his Name; because his glorious light makes the poor derided shadow of light in other creatures, to desappear, and to evanish out of the World of Beings: So it is the glorious perfection of his Nature, that he doth all things for himself, for his own Name. Pro. 16. 4. and his glory is as dear to him, as himself, Isai. 42. 8. I am the Lord, that is my Name, and therefore my glory I will give to no other, and 48 11. This is no ambition. Indeed, for a man to seek his own glory; or, search into it, is no glory, Prov. 25. 27. but rather a mans shame: Self-seeking in creatures is a monstruous and incongruous thing; it is as absurd, and unbeseeming a creature, to seek its own glory, as to attribute to it self its own being. Shal the thing formed, say to the Potter, Thou hast not made me, that were rediculous: and shal the thing formed say, It's made for it self, that were as rediculous. Self deni­all is the ornament and beauty of a creature & there­fore humility is an ornament and cloathing, 1 Pet. 5. 5. And honour upholds the humble in spirit, Pro. 29. 23. But Gods self-seeking, and seeking of his own glory, is his eminent excellency: it is indeed his glory, be­cause he is, & there is none else, there is nothing be­side him but that which hath issued forth from his in­comprehensible fulness: and therefore it is all the reason of the world, that as he is the beginning, so he should be the end of all things, Rev. 1. 8. And there is the more reason of it, that his Majesties seeking of his own glory, is not prejudiciall to the creatures good, but the very communication of his fulness goes along with it; so that in glorifying himself, he is most be­neficiall to his own creatures. Poor creatures, indi­gent at home, yet are proud of nothing, and endeavour in seeking of themselves, to ingross all perfections into their own bosomes: ambition, and vain-glory, robs and spoils others excellencies, to cloath it self withall; [Page 5] and then boasts it self in these borrowed feathers. But our blessed Lord is then doing most for our advantage, when he does all for his own glory; He needs not go abroad to seek perfection, but to manifest what he is in himself; he communicates of himself to us O. bles­sed self-seeking, that gave us a being, and well being, that makes no advantage by it, but gives advantage. He hath the honour of all, but we have the profit of al.

All things are of him, and for him; but man in a peculiar and proper way. As God in making of man, he was pleased of his goodness, to stamp him with a character of his own Image, and in this he puts a diffe­rence between man and other creatures; that he should have more plain and distinct engravings of Divine Majesty upon him, which might shew the glory of the work-man: so it appears that he is in a singular way made for God, as his last end. As he is set nearer God, as the beginning and cause, than other creatures; so he is placed nearer God as the end. All creatures are made ultimò, lastly for God, yet they are all made proximè nextly for man: Therefore David falls out a wondering, O Lord, what is man that thou magnifiest him, and hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands, and put all under his feet! Psalm 8. 6. The creature comes out in a direct line from God, as the beams from the body of the Sun, and it is directed towards the use and service of mankind, from whom all the excellency and perfection that is in it should reflect towards God again. Man is both pro­ximè & ultimò for God. We are to return immedi­atly to the fountain of our being; and thus our hap­piness and well-being is perpetuated. There is no­thing interveening between God and us, that our use and service and honour should be derected towards: But all the songs and perfections of the creature, that are among the rest of the creatures, meet all in man [Page 6] as their Center, for this purpose, that he may return with them all to the glorious Fountain from whence they issued: thus we stand next God, and in the mid­dle between God and other creatures. This, I say, was the condition of our creation, we had our being immediatly from God as the beginning of all, and we were to have our happiness and well-being by retur­ning immediatly to God as the end of all. But sin coming in between God and us, hath displaced us, so that we cannot now stand next God, without the in­tervention of a Mediator, & we cannot stand between God and the creatures, to offer up their praise to him; but there is one Mediator between God and man, that offers up both mans praises, and the creatures songs which meet in man.

Now seeing God hath made all things for himself, and especially man for his own glory, that he may shew forth in him the glory and excellency of his po­wer, goodness, holiness, justice, and mercy: It is not only most reasonable that man should do all things that he doth to the glory of God, but it is even the beauty and perfection of a man, the greatest accession that can be to his being, to glorifie God by that being. We are not our own, therefore we ought not to live to our selves; but to God whose we are.

But you may ask, what is it to glorifie God, Doth our goodness extend to him? Or, is it an advantage to the Almighty, that we are righteous? No indeed; and herein is the vast difference between Gods glo­rifying of us, and sanctifying of us, and our glorifying and sanctifying of him: God calls things that are not, and makes them to be; but we can do no more, but call things that are, and that far below what they are. Gods glorifying is creative, ours only declarative. He makes us such, we do no more but declare Him to be such: this then is the proper work that man is created [Page 7] for to be a witness of Gods glory, & to give testimony to the appearances, and out-breakings of it, in the wayes of power, and justice, and mercy, and truth. Other creatures are called to glorifie God, but it is rather a Proclamation to dull and senseless men, and a provocation of them to their duty. As Christ said to the Pharisees, If these children hold their peace, the stones would cry out. So may the Lord turn himself from stupid and senseless men, to the stones and woods, and seas, and sun, and moon, and exhort them to mans duty, the more to provoke and stirre up our dulness, and to make us consider that it is a greater wonder, that man whom God hath made so glorious, can so little express Gods glory; then if stupid and senseless creatures should break out in singing, and praising of his Majesty. The creatures are the books wherein the lines of the song of Gods praises are written, and man is made a creature capable to read them and to tune that long. They are appointed to bring in Brick to our hand, and God has fashioned us for this imployment, to make such a building of it: We are the mouth of the creation, but ere God want praises when our mouth is dumb, and our ears deaf, God will open the mouths of ashes. of Babes and Sucklings, and in them perfyte praises. Psal. 8. 1. 2, Epictetus said well; Si Luscinia essem, canerem ut Lus­cinia; cum autem homo sim, quod agam? Laudebo De­um, nec unquam cessabo. Is I were a Lark, I would sing as a Lark, but seeing I am a man, what should I do but praise God without ceasing? It is as proper to us to praise God, as for a bird to chaunt: All beasts have their own sounds; and voices peculiar to their own nature; this is the naturall sound of a man. Now as you would think it monstruous to hear a melodi­ous bird croping as a Raven; so it is no less monstru­ous and degenerate to hear the most part of the dis­courses [Page 8] of men; savouring nothing of God. If we had known that innocent estate of man, O how would we think he had fallen from heaven! We would i­magine that we were thrust down from heaven (where we heard the melodious songs of Angels) into hell, to hear the howlings of damned spirits. This then is that we are bound unto, by the bond of our Creation this is our proper office, and station God once set us into, when he assigned every creature its own use and exercise; this was our portion (and O the noblest of all, because nearest the Kings own person) to ac­knowledge in our hearts inwardly, and to express in our words and actions outwardly, what a one he is, according as he hath revealed himself in his word; and works: It's great honour to a creature to have the meanest imployment in the Court of this great King. But, O what is it to be set over all the Kings house, and over all his Kingdom? But then what is that, in respect of this, to be next to the King, to wait on his own person (so to speak) therefore the godly man is described, as a waiting maid, or servant Psal. 123 2. Well then, without more discourse upon it, without multiplying of it into particular branches, to glorifie God, is in our souls to conceive of him, and meditate on his Name, till they receive the impression and stamp of all the letters of his glorious Name; and then to express this in our words and actions, in com­mending of him and obeying of him. Our soul should be as wax to express the Seal of his glorious Attri­butes of justice, power, goodness, holiness, and mercy: and as the Water that receives the beams of the Sun, reflects them back again, so should our spi­rits receive the sweet warming beams of his love and glorious excellency, and then reflect them towards his Majesty, with the desires and affections of our souls. All our thoughts of him, all our affections [Page 9] towards him, should have the stamp of singularity, such as may declare there is none like him, none be­sides him, our love, our meditation, our acknow­ledgement should have this character on their front, There is none beside thee, Thou art, and none else: And then a soul should by the cords of affection to him, and admiration of him, be bound to serve him. Cre­ation puts on the obligation to glorifie him in our bo­dy and spirits, which are his; but affection only puts that to exercise: All other bonds leaves our natures at liberty, but this constrains, 2 Cor. 5. 13. it binds on all bonds, it tyes on us all divine obligations. Then a soul will glorifie God, when love so unites it to God, and makes it one spirit with him, that his glory be­comes its honour, and becomes the principle of all our inward affections, and outward actions. It is not al­wayes possible to have an expresse particular thought of God, and his glory, in every action and medita­tion; but, for the most part, it ought to be so: And if souls were accustomed to meditation on God, it would become their very nature, altera natura, plea­sant and delightsome. However, if there be not al­wayes an express intention of Gods glory, yet there ought to be kept alwayes such a disposition and tem­per of spirit, as it may be construed to proceed from the intention of Gods glory; and then it remains in the seed and fruit, if not in it self.

Now when we are speaking of the great end and purpose of our Creation, we call to mind our lamen­tabel and tragicall Fall from that blessed station we were constitute into: All men have sinned and come short of the glory of God, Rom. 3. 23. His being in the world was for that glory, and he is come short of that glory: O strange short-comming! short of all that he was ordained for! What is he now meet for? For what purpose is that chief of the works of God [Page 10] now? The salt, if it lose its saltness is meet for no­thing for wherewithall shal it be seasoned? Mark, 9. 50. Even so, when man is rendered unfit for his proper end, he is meet for nothing, but to be cast out and trod upon: he is like a withered branch that must be cast into the fire, Ioh. 15. 6. Some things if they fail in one use, they are good for another; but the best things are not so, Corruptio optimi, pessima: As the Lord speaks to the house of Israel, shal wood be taken off the vine tree for my work, even so the inhabi­tants of Ierusalem, Ezech. 15. 2, 3, 4, 5. If it yeeld not Wine, it's good for nothing: so, if man do not glo­rifie God, if he fall from that, he is meet for nothing but to be cast into the fire of hell, and burnt for ever; he is for no use in the Creation, but to the fuell to the fire of the Lords indignation.

But behold! the goodnesse of the Lord and his kindnesse and love hath appeared towards men, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but accor­ding to his mercy he saved us through Iesus Christ, Tit. 3. 4, 5. Our Lord Jesus, by whom all thing were created, and for whom, would not let this excellent workmanship perish so, therefore he goes about the work of Redemption: a second Creation more labo­rious and also more glorious than the first; that so he might glorifie his Father, and our Father: Thus the breach is made up, thus the unsavory salt is seasoned, thus the withered branch is quickned again for that same fruit of praises and glorifying of God. This is the end of his second Creation, as it was of the first: we are his workmanship created to good works in Christ Iesus. Eph. 2. 10. This is the work of God, to be­lieve in him, to set to our seal, and to give our testi­mony to all his Attributes, Ioh. 6. 29. and 3. 33. We are bought with a price, and therefore we ought to glorifie him with our souls and bodies, he made us [Page 11] with a word, and that bound us, but now he has made us again and paid a price for us, and so we are twice bound not to be our own but his, 1 Cor. 6. ult. And so to glorifie him in our bodies and spirits. I beseech you gather your spirits, call them home about the businesse. We once came short of our end, Gods glo­ry and our happinesse; but know that it is attainable again; we lost both, but both are found in Christ Awake then and stir up your spirits, else it shal be double condemnation, when we have the offer of being restored to our former blessed condition, to love our present misery better. Once establish this point within your souls, and therefore ask, why came I hither? To what purpose am I come into the world? If you do not ask it, what will you answer, when he asks you at your appearance before his Tribunall? I beseech you what will many of you say in that day, when the Master returns and takes an account of your dispensation? You are sent into the world only for this businesse, to serve the Lord: Now, what will many of you answer? If you speak the truth (as then you must do it, you cannot lie then) you must say, Lord, I spent my time in serving my own lusts, I was taken up with other businesses, and had no leisure, I was occupyed in my calling &c. even as if an Em­bassadour of a King should return him his account of his negotiation, I was busie at Cards and Dice, I spent my mony and did wear my cloaths: Though you think your plowing, and borrowing and traffic­king, and reaping very necessary, yet certainly, these are but as trifles and toyes to the main businesse. O what dreadfull account will souls make! they come here for no purpose but to serve their bodies and sen­ses, to be slaves to all the creatures, which were once put under mans feet: Now man is under the feet of all, and he has put himself so. If you were of these [Page 12] creatures, then you might be for them; you seek them as if you were created for them, and not they for you, and you seek your selves, as if you were of your selves, and had not your descent of God. Know, my beloved, that you were not made for that purpose, nor yet re­deemed either to serve your selves, or other crea­tures, but that other creatures might serve you, and ye serve God, Luk. 1. 74, 75. And this is really the best way to serve our selves, and to save our selves, to serve God: Self-seeking, is self-destroying; self-deny­ing is soul-saving, He that seeketh to save his life shal lose it, and he that loseth his life shal find it, and he that denies himself and follows me, is my disciple. Will ye once sit down in good earnest about this businesse. It is lamentable to be yet to begin to learn to live, when ye must die; ye will be out of the world almost, ere you bethink your self. Why came I into the world? Quidam tunc vivere incipiunt, cum definendum est; imò quidam ante vivere defiêrunt quam inciperent; this is of all most lamentable, many souls end their life, before they begin to live: For what is our life, but a living death, while we do not live to God, and while we live not in relation to the great end of our life and being? the glory of God. It were better, saith Christ, that such had never been born. You who are created again in Jesus Christ, it most of all concerns you to ask, Why am I made? and why am I redeemed? And to what purpose? It is certainly, that you may glorifie your heavenly Father, Mat. 5. 16. Psal. 58. 13. And you shal glorifie him if you bring forth much fruit, & continue in his love, Ioh. 15. 8. And this you are chosen and ordained unto, ver. 16. And therefore a­bide in him, that you may bring forth fruit; ver. 4. And if you abide in him by believing, you do indeed honour him; and he that honoureth the Son, honou­reth the Father, Ioh. 5. 23. Here is a compendious [Page 13] way to glorifie God: receive salvation of him freely, righteousnesse and eternall life, and this sets to a seal of Gods truth, and grace and mercy; and who so counts the Son worthy to be a Saviour to them, and sets to their seal of approbation to him whom God the Father hath sent and sealed; he also honours the Father, and then he that honoureth the Father, hath it not for nothing; For them that honour me, I will honour, 1 Sam. 2. 30. saith the Lord, And he that serves me, him will my Father honour, Joh. 12. 26. As the believing soul cares for no other, and respects no other but God, so he respects no other, but such a soul, I will dwel in the humble, and look unto the contrite; there is mutual respects and honours. God is the de­light of such a soul, and such a soul is Gods delight: that soul sets God on a high place, in a throne in its heart, and God sets that soul in a heavenly place with Christ, Eph. 2. 6. yea, he comes down to sit with us, and dwell in us, off his throne of Majesty, Isa. 66. 1, 2. & 15, 57

Psal. 73. 24. to the end. ‘Thou wilt guide me with thy counsel, &c. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? &c. It is good for me to draw near to God,’ 1 John 1. 3. ‘These things declare we to you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Iesus Christ.’ And John 17. 21, 22, 23. ‘That they all may be one as we are one; I in them, and they in me, that they may be perfect in one, &c.

IT is a matter of great consolation, that Gods glory and our happinesse are linked together; so that whosoever sets his glory before them singly to aim at, they take the most compendious and certain way to true blessednesse. His glory is the ultimat end of man, and should be our great and last scope: But our hap­pinesse, [Page 14] which consists in the enjoyment of God, is subordinate to this, yet inseparable from it. The end of our Creation is communion and fellowship with God, therefore man was made with an immortal soul capable of it: and this is the greatest dignity and emi­nency of man above the creatures. He hath not only impressed from Gods finger, in his first moulding, some characters resembling God in righteousnesse and holinesse; but is created with a capacity of receiving more of God, by communion with him. Other crea­tures have already all they will have, all theycan have of conformity to him; but man is made liker than all and is fitted and fashioned to aspire to more liknesse and conformity, so that his soul may shine more and more to the perfect day.

There was an Union made already in his first moul­ding, and communion was to grow as a fragrant and sweet fruit out of this blessed root. Union and simili­tude is the ground of fellowship & communion. That union was gracious, that communion would have been glorious; for grace is the seed of glory. There was a twofold Union between Adam and God, an Union of state, and an Union of nature: He was like God, and he was Gods friend. All the creatures had some lik­nesse to God, some engravings of his power, and good­nesse, and wisdome: but man is said to be made accor­ding to Gods Image, Let us make man like unto us. O­ther creatures had similitudinem vestigii, but man had similitudinem faciei. Holinesse and righteousnesse is Gods face, the very excellency and glory of all his At­tributes, and the Lord stamps the image of these upon Man. Other Attributes are but like his back-parts, & he leaves the resemblance of his footsteps upon other creatures. What can be so beautifull as the Image of God upon the soul? Creatures, the nearer they are to God, the more pure and excellent. We see in the [Page 15] Fabrick of the World, bodies the higher they are, the more pure and cleanly, the more beautiful. Now then, What was man that was made a little lower than the Angels? In the Hebrew, a little lower than God, tan­tum non Deus. Seeing man is set next to God, his glo­ry and beauty, certainly surpasses the glory of the Sun and Heavens. Things contiguous and next other are like other: The water is liker air than the earth, therefore it is next the air: The air is liker Heaven than water, therefore it is next to it. Omne contiguum spirituali, est spirituale. Angels and men next God, are spirits as he is a Spirit. Now similitude is the ground of friendship. Pares paribus congregantur, similitude necessitudinis vinculum. It is that which conciliats af­fection among men; so it is here by proportion. God sees that all is very good, and man the best of his works; and he loves him, and makes him his friend, for his own Image which he beholds in him.

At length from these two roots this pleasant & fra­grant fruit of Communion with, and enjoyment of God, grows up: this is the entertainment of friends, to delight in one another, and to enjoy one another, Amicorum omnia communia Love makes all com­mon, it opens the treasure of Gods fulnesse, and makes a vent of divine bounty towards man, and it o­pens the heart of man, and makes it large as the sand of the sea to receive of God. Our receiving of his ful­nesse, is all the entertainment we can give him. O what blessednesse is this, for a soul to live in him, and it lives in him when it loves him, Anima est ubi amat, non ubi animat, and to taste of his sweetnesse, and be satisfied with him, this makes perfect onnenesse: and perfect onnenesse with God (who is the fountain of life, and in whose favour is life) is perfect bles­sednesse.

But we must stand a little here, and consider our [Page 16] misery, that hath fallen from such an excellency; how are we come down from Heaven wonderfully? Sin hath interposed between God and man, and this dis­solves the union, and hinders the communion: An enemy is come between two friends and puts them at odds, and Oh! an eternall odds; sin hath sown this discord, and alineated our hearts from God. Mans glo­ry consisted in the irradiation of the soul from Gods shining countenance, this made him light, Gods face shined on him. But sin interposing, hath eclipsed that light, and brought on an eternall night of darknesse o­ver the soul: And thus we are spoiled of the Image of God, as when the earth comes betwixt the Sun and Moon. Now then, there can no beams of divine sa­vour and love break through directly towards us, be­cause of the cloud of our sins, that separates between God and us, and because of the partition-wall of Or­dinances, and the hand-writing which was against us, Gods holy Law, and severe Justice, Col. 3. 14.

Then, What shal we do? How shal we see his face in ioy? Certainly it had been altogether impos­sible, if our Lord Jesus Christ had not come, who is the light and life of men: the Father shines on him, and the beams of his love reflects upon us, from the Sun: The love of God, and his favourable counte­nance, that cannot meet with us in a direct and imme­diate beam, they fall on us in this blessed compasse, by the intervention of a Mediator. We are rebels, stan­ing at distance with God, Christ comes between a Me­diator, and Peace-maker to reconcile us to God: God is in Christ, reconciling the World. God first makes an union of Natures with Christ, and so he comes near to us, down to us, who could not come up to him; and then he sends out the Word of Reconciliation, the Gospel, the tenor wherof is this, 1 Ioh. 1. 3. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye may [Page 17] have fellowship with the Father and his Son. It is a voice of peace, and invitation to the fellowship of God: Be­hold then, the happinesse of man is th [...]very end and purpose of the Gospel. Christ is the repairer of the breaches, the second Adam aspired to quicken what Adam killed: He hath slain the emnity, and cancel­led the hand-writing that was against us, and so made peace by the blood of his crosse; and then having re­moved all that out of the way, he comes and calls us unto the fellowship which we were ordained unto frō our Creation. We who are rebels, are called to be friends; I call you not servants, but friends. It is a wōder that the creature should be called a friend of God: but, O great wonder, that the rebell should be called a friend; and yet that is not all, we are called to a nea­rer union, to be Sons of God; this is our priviledge, Ioh. 1. 12. This is a great part of our fellowship with the Father and his Son, we are the Fathers children, and the Sons brethren, acd if children then heirs, and heirs of God, and if brethren, then co-heirs with Christ, Rom. 8. 17.

Thus the Union is begun again in Christ, but as long as sin dwels in our mortall bodies, it is not per­fect, there is alwayes some separation, and some enmi­ty in our hearts, & so there is neither ful seeing of God (for we know but in part, and we see darkly) nor full enjoying of God; for we are saved by hope, & we live by faith, and not by fight. But this is begun which is the seed of eternall communion, we are here partakers of the Divine Nature. Now then it must aspire unto a more perfect union with God whose Image it is: And therefore the Soul of a Believer is here still in motion towards God as his element. There is here an union in affection, but not compleated in fruition, affectu non effectu, the soul pants after God, Whom have I in heaven or earth but thee? My [...]esh and my heart [Page 18] faileth, a believing soul looksupon God as its only por­tion, accounts nothing misery but to be separated from him, & nothing blessednesse, but to be one with him: this is the Load-stone of the affections, and desires the Center which they move towards, and in which they will rest: It is true indeed, that oftentimes our hearts & our flesh faileth us, & we become ignorant and bru­tish: our affections cleave to the earth, and tentations with their violence turn our souls towards another end than God, as there is nothing more easily moved and turned wrong, then the needle that is touched with the Adamant, yet it settles not in such a posture, it recovers it self and rests never till it look towards the North, and then it is fixed: even so tentations and the corruptions and infirmities of our hearts desturb our spirits easily, and wind them about from the Lord towards any other thing: but yet we are continuing with him, and he keeps us with his right hand, and therefore though we may be moved, yet we shal not be greatly commoved, we may fall but we shal rise a­gain: he is the strength of our heart, and therefore he will turn our heart about again, and fix it upon its own portion: Our Union here consists more in his hold­ing of us by his power, then our taking hold of him by faith: Power and good-will encamps about both faith and the soul, we are kept by his power through faith, 1 Pet. 1. And thus he will guide the soul, and still be drawing it nearer to him; from it self, & from sin, and from the world, till he receive us into Glory, and untill we be one as with the Father and the Son, he in us and we in him, that we may be made perfect in one, as it is in the words read.

This is strange, a greater unity and fuller enjoy­ment, a more perfect fellowship, then ever Adam in his innocency would have been capable of, what soul ca conceive it? What tongue expresse it? None cann [Page 19] for it's that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into Mans heart to concive. We must suspend the knowledge of it, till we have experience of it. Let us now believe it, and then we shal find it. There is a mutual inhabitation which is wonerfull: Persons that dwel one with another have much society and fellowship, but to dwel one in another is a strange thing, I in them, and they in me; and therefore God is often said to dwel in us, and we to dwel in him. But that which makes it of all most wonderful, and incom­prehensible, is that glorious unity and communion between the Father and the Son, which it is made an Embleme of, As thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. Can you conceive that unity of the Trinity? Can you imagine that reci­procall inhabitation, that mutuall communion be­tween the Father and the Son? No, it hath not en­tered into the heart to conceive it. Only thus much we know, that it is most perfect, it is most glorious, & so much we may apprehend of this unity of the Saints with God. O, love is an uniting and transforming thing. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. He dwelleth in us by love, this makes him work in us, and shine upon us: love hath drawn him down from his seat of Majesty, to vi­site poor Cottages of sinners, Isa. 66. 1, 2. & 15, 47. And it is that love of God reflecting upon our souls, that carries the soul upward to him, to live in him, and walk with him: O how doth it constrain a soul to live to him, and draw it from it self, 2 Cor. 5. 15. Then the more unity with God, the more separation from our selves, & the world; the nearer God the farther from our selves, & the farther from ourselves the more hap­py, and the more unity with God, the more unity among our selves, among the brethren of our family: Because we are not fully one with our Father, there­fore [Page 20] there are many differences between us & the bre­thren, because we are not one perfectly in him, there­fore we are not one as he and the Father is one. But when he shal be in us, and we in him, as the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, then shal we be one among our selves, then shal we meet in the u­nity of the faith, into a perfect man, into the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, Eph. 4. 13. Christ is the uniting Principle, while the Saints are not whol­ly one, uni tertio, they cannot be perfectly one inter se among themselves. Consider this, I beseech you; Christs union with the Father, is the foundation of our union to God, and our union among our selves; this is comfortable, the ground of it is laid already. Now it is not simply the unity of the Father and the Son in essence that is here meant, for what shadow & resemblance can be in the world, of such an incompre­hensible mystery? But it is certainly the Union and Communion of God with Christ Jesus as Mediator, as the head of the Church, which is his Body. There­fore, seeing the Father is so wonderfully well pleased and one with Christ, his wel-beloved Son & Messen­ger of the Covenant, & chief party contracting in our name, he is by vertue of this, one with us, who are his seed and members. And therefore, the members should grow up in the head, Christ, from whom the whole body makes increase according to the effectuall working of the spirit in it, Eph 5. 15▪ 16. Now if the union between the Father and Christ our Head can­not be dissolved, and cannot be barran and unfruitfull, then certainly the spirit of the Father, which is given to Christ beyond measure, must effectually work in every member, till it bring them to the unity of the Faith, and to the measure of the perfect man which is the fulnesse of Christ. So then every believing soul is one with the Father as Christ is one, because he is the [Page 21] Head and they his members, & the day is coming that all the members shal be perfectly united to the Head, Christ, & grow up to the perfect man, which is the sta­ture of Christs fulnesse, and then shal we all be made perfect in one; we shal be one as he is one, because he and we are one perfect man, Head and Members.

Now to what purpose is all this spoken? I fear it doth not stirre up in our souls a desire after such a blessed life; whose heart would not be moved at the sound of such words? Our fellowship is with the Father and his Son, we are made perfect, he in us, and we in him: Certainly that soul is void of the Life of God, that doth not find some sparkle of holy ambition kin­dled within, after such glorious and blessed condition. But these things sevour not, and taste not to the most part; the naturall man knows them not, for they are spiritually discerned. How lamentable is it, that Christ is come to restore us to our lost blessednesse, and yet no man almost considers it or layes it to heart: O how miserably, twice miserable is that Soul, that doth not draw near to God in Christ, when God hath come so near to us in Christ? that goes a whoring after the lust of the eyes, and flesh, and after the imaginations of their own heart, and will not be guided by Christ the way and life to glory? Thou shalt destroy them, O Lord, Psal. 73. 27. All men are far off from God, from the womb: Behold we may have accesse to God in Christ: woe to them that are yet far off, and will not draw near, they shal all perish. I exhort you to consi­der what you are doing. The most part of you are go­ing away from God, you were born far off, and you will yet go further; know what you will meet with in that way, Destruction.

Ye have never yet asked in earnest, for what pur­pose you came into the World: What wonder you wander and walk at randome, seing you have not pro­posed [Page 22] to your selves any certain scope and aime? It is great folly. You would not be so foolish in any petty businesse: But O how foolish men are in the main businesse. The light of the body is the eye, if that be not light, the whole body is full of darknesse. If your inten­tion be once right established all your course will be orderly, but if you be dark and blind in this point, & have not considered it, you cannot walk in the light, your whole way is darknesse: The right consideration of the great End would shine unto you, and direct your way; but, while you have not proposed this end unto your self, the enjoyment of God, you must spend your time, either in doing nothing to that pur­pose, or doing contrary to it. All your other lawfull businesse, your callings and occupations are but in the by, they are not the end, nor the way, but you make them only your businesse, they are altogether imper­tinent to this end. And the rest of your walking in lust and ignorance, is not only impertinent, but in­consistant with it, and contrary to it. If you think that you have this before your eyes, to enjoy God, I pray you look upon the way you choose: Is your drunken­nesse, your swearing, your uncleannesse, your con­tentions and railings, and such works of the flesh; are those the way to enjoy God? Shal not these separate between God and you? Is your eating, and drinking sleeping as beasts, and labouring in your callings, are these all the means you use to enjoy God? Be not de­ceived, you who draw not near God by Prayer often in secret, and by faith in his Son Christ, as lost mise­rable sinners to be saved, and reconciled by him, you have no fellowship with him, and you shal not enjoy him afterward. You whose hearts are given to your covetousnesse, who have many lovers and idols be­sides him, you cannot say, Whom have I besides thee in the earth? No, you have many other things beside [Page 23] God. You can have nothing of God, except you make him all to you, unlesse you have him alone. My unde­filed is one, Cant. 6. 9. He must be alone, for his glory he will not give to another: If you divide your affections, and pretend to give him part; & your lusts other part, you may be doing, but he will not divide his glory so, he will give no part of it to any other thing. But as for those souls that come to him and see their misery without him, O know how good it is! Its not only good, but best; yea only good, it is bonum, & it is optimum; yea, it is unicum, there is none good, save one, even God, and there is nothing good for us but this one, to be near God, and so near, that we may be one, one spirit with the Lord, for he that is joyned to the Lord is one spirit: Rejoice in your portion, and long for the possession of it. Let all your meditations, and affections, and conversion proclaim this, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and none in the earth beside thee. And certainly he shal guide you to the end, and receive you into glory, then you shal rest from your labours, because you shal dwell in him, and enjoy that which you longed and laboured for. Let the con­sideration of our end unite the hearts of Christians here. O what an absurd thing is it, that those who shal lodge together at night & be made perfect in one should not only go contrary wayes but have contrary minds and affections.

Of the SCRIPTURES. 2 Tim. 3. 16. All Scriptures is given, &c.

WE told you, that there was nothing more necessary to know, then what our end is, and what the way is that leads to that end: We see th [...] most part of men walking at random, running an un­certain race, because they do not propose unto them­selves [Page 24] a certain scope to aim at, and whither to direct their whole cours. According to mens particular incli­nations & humors, so do the purposes & designs of men vary; and often do the purposes of one man change ac­cording to the circumstances of time, & his condition in the World. We see all men almost running crosse one to another; one drives at the satisfaction of his lust by pleasure, another fancies a great felicity in ho­nour, a third in getting riches, and thus men divide themselves, whereas, if it were true happinesse that all were seeking, they would all go one way towards one end. If men be not in the right way, the faster they seem to move toward the mark, the farther they go from it, wandering from the right way (suppose men intend well) will put them farther from that which they intend. Si via in contrarium ducat, ipsa velocitas as majoris intervalli causa est: Therefore it concerns us all most deeply, to be acquainted with the true path of blessednesse: For if we once mistake, the more we do, the swister we move; the more distant we are from it indeed. And there is the more need, because there are so many by-paths that lead to destruction: What say I, by paths? No, high wayes, beaten-paths, that the multitude of men walk in, & never challenge, nor will endure to be challenged, as if they were in an er­ror. In other journeys men keep the plain high way, and are afraid of any secret by-way, lest it lead them wrong: At hîc, via quaeque tritissima maximè decipit. Here the high pathed way leads wrong; and, O far wrong! to Hell. This is the meaning of Christs Ser­mon, Enter in at the strait gate, but walk not in the broad way where many walk, for it leads to destructi­on; Therefore I would have this perswasion once be­gotten in your souls, that the course of the world, the way of the most part of men is dangerous, is dam­nable. O consider, whither the way will lead you, be­fore [Page 25] you go further. Do not think it a folly to stand still now, & examine it, when ye have gone on so long in their company. Stand, I say, and consider; be not ignorant as beasts, that know no other thing than to follow the drove. quae pergunt, non quae eundum est, sed quae itur, they follow not whither they ought to go, but whither most go: You are men, and have reasonable souls within you, therefore I beseech you be not com­posed, and fashioned according to custome, and exam­ple, that is brutish, but according to some inward know­ledge and reason. Retire once from the multitude, and ask in earnest at God, what is the way: Him that fears him, he will teach the way that he should choose; the way'to this blessed end is very strait, very difficult; you must have a guide in it, you must have a lamp and a light in it, else you cannot but go wrong.

The principles of reason within us are too dark & dim, they will never lead us through the pits and snares in the way: these indeed shined brightly in Adam, that he needed no light without him, no voice about him: But sin hath extinguished it much, and there remains nothing but some little spunk, or sparkle under the ashes of much corruption, that is but insuf­ficient in it self, and is often more blinded and dark­ned by lusts: so that if it were never so much refined, as it was in many heathens, yet it is but the blind lea­ding the blind, and both must fall into the ditch. Our end is high and divine, To glorifie God and to enjoy Him, therefore our reason caligat ad suprema; it can no more stedfastly behold that glorious end, & move towards it, then our weak eyes can behold the Sun: Our eyes can look downward upon the earth, but not upward to the Heavens. So we have some remnant of reason in us that hath some petty and poor ability for matters of little moment, as the things of this life: But if once we look upward to the glory of God, or e­ternal happinesse, our eyes are dazled, our reason con­founded, [Page 26] we cannot stedfastly behold that, Eph. 4. 18. 2 Cor. 3. 13. 14.

Therefore the Lord hath been pleased to give us the Scriptures, which may be a Lamp unto our feet, & a guide unto our way, whereunto we shal do well to take heed, as unto a candle or a light that shines in a dark place, till the day dawn, 2 Pet. 1. 6. These are able to make us wise unto salvation. Let us here what Paul speaks of Timothy, 2 Tim. 3. 16. All Scriptures is gi­ven, &c. Where you have two points of high con­cernment, The Authority of the Scriptures, and their Utility. Their Authority, for they are given by Di­vine Inspiration: Their Utility, for they are profita­ble for Doctrine, &c. and can make us perfect, and well furnished to every good work.

The Authority of it, is in a peculiar way divine, of him, and through him are all things: All Writings of men, according to the truth of the Scriptures, have some Divinity in them, in as much as they have of truth, which is a Divine thing; Yet the Holy Scrip­tures are by way of excellency attributed to God, for they are immediatly inspired of God: Therefore Pe­ter saith, that the Scriptures came not in old time by the will of Man, but holy men spake as they were moved by the holy Ghost, 2 Pet. 1. 21. God by his Spirit; as it were, acted the part of the soul, in the Prophets and Apostles; and they did no more but utter what the Spirit conceived: The holy Ghost inspired the matter & the words, & they were but tongues & pens to speak & write it unto the people; here needed no debate, no search in their own minds, for the truth, no inquisition for light, but light shined upon their souls so brightly, so convincingly, that it puts it beyond all question, that it was the mind and voice of God. You need not ask, How they did know that their dreams or visions were indeed from the Lord? And that they did not frame any imagination in their own hearts, and taught it [Page 27] for his Word, as many did? I say, you need no more ask that, than ask; How shal a man see light, or know the Sun-shine? light makes it self manifest, and all o­ther things, its seen by its own brightnesse: even so the holy men of God, needed not any mark or sign to know the Spirits voice, his revelation needed not the light of any other thing, it was light it self, he would certainly over power the soul and mind, and leave no place of doubting: God who cannot be deceived, and can deceive no man, hath delivered us this Doctrine. O, with what reverence should we receive it, as if we heard the Lord from heaven speak. If you ask, How you shal be perswaded that the Scriptures are the Word of God, his very mind opened to men & made legible? Truly, there are some things cannot be well proved, not because they are doubtfull, but because they are clear of themselves, and beyond all doubt and exception. Principles of Arts must not be proved, but supposed, till you find by triall and experience af­terward that they were indeed really true. There are no question, such characters of Divinity, and Majesty imprinted in the very Scriptures themselves, that whosoever hath the eyes of his understanding opened, though he run he may read them, and find God in them. What Majesty is in the very simplicity and plainnesse of the Scriptures? They do not labour to please mens ears, and adorn the matter, with the cu­rious garments of words, and phrases, but represent the very matter it self to the soul, as that which in it self is worthy of all acceptation, and needs no humane eloquence to commend it. Painting doth spoil native beauty, external ornamēts would disfigure some things that are of themselves proportioned and lovely, there­fore the Lord choses a plain and simple style, which is foolishnesse to the world: but in these swadling cloaths of the Scriptures, and this poor Cottage the Child Jesus, the Lord of Heaven and Earth is con­tained. [Page 28] There is a jewel of the mysterious wisdom of God, and mans eternal blessednesse in the Mineral: What glorious and astonishing humility is here? What humble and homly Glory and Majesty also? He is most high, and yet none so lowly. What excel­lent consent and harmony of many writters, in such distant times? Wonder at it! All speak one thing, to one purpose, to bring men to God, to abase all glory and exalt him alone. Must it not be one Spirit that hath quickned all these, and breathes in them all this one heavenly Song of Glory to God on high, and good will towards men. Other Writers will reason these things with you, to convince you and perswade you; and many thinks them more profound and deep for that reason, and do despise the basenesse of the Scrip­tures: But to them vvhose eyes are opened, the Ma­jesty and authority of God commanding, and assert­ing, and testifying to them is more convincing, from its own bare assertion, then all humane reason.

Although there be much light in the Scriptures to guide mens vvay to Gods glory and their own happi­nesse; yet certainly, it vvill all be too smal purpose if the eyes of our understanding be darkned and blinded. If you shal surround a man vvith day-light, except he open his eyes he cannot see. The Scriptures are a clear Sun of life, and righteousnesse; but the blind soul compassed vvith that light is nothing the vviser; but thinks the lamp of the Word shines not because it sees not, it hath its own dungeon vvithin it; therefore the Spirit of God must open the eyes of the blind, & enlighten the eyes of the understanding, that a soul may see vvonderfull things in Gods Law, Psal. 119. 5. 8. Ioh. 1. 5. The light may shine in the darknesse, but the darknesse cannot comprehend it. I vvonder not that the most part of men can see no Beauty, no Majesty, no excellency in the holy Scriptures to al­lure them; because they are natural and have not the [Page 29] spirit of God, and so cannot know these things, for they are spiritually discerned, 2 Cor. 2. 14. &c. There­fore as the inspiration of God did conceive this writ­ting at first, and preached this Doctrine unto the world; so there can no soul understand it, or profite by it, but by the inspiration of the Almighty: Verily there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Al­mighty gives him understanding, saith Iob. When the spirit comes into the soul to engrave the Characters of that Law and truth into the heart, which were once engraven on Tables of Stone, and not written with Pen and Ink, then the spirit of Christ Jesus writes over and transcribes the Doctrine of the Gospel, on fleshly Tables of the heart, draws the lineaments of that faith, and love, preached in the word upon the soul; then the soul is the Epistle of Christ; written not with ink and pen, but with the spirit of the living God, 2 Cor. 3. 3. And then the soul is manifestly declared to be such, when that which is impressed on the heart, is expressed in the outward man in walking, that it may be read of all men. Now the soul having thus received the Image of the Scriptures on it, under­stands the Spirits voice in them, and sees the truth and divinity of them. The eye must receive some species and likenesse of the object before it see it, it must be made like to the object ere it can behold it. Intelligens in actu fit ipsum intelligible: So the soul must have some inspiration of the holy Ghost, before it can believe with the heart the inspyred Scriptures.

Now for the utility and profit of the Scripture, who can speak of it, according to its worth? Some things may be over-commanded, nay, all things, but this one, God speaking in his word to mankind. Ma­ny Titles are given to humane writings, some are cal­led accurate, some subtile, some ingenious and quick some profound and deep, some plain, some learned: But call them what they please, the Scriptures may [Page 30] vindicate to it self these two Titles as its own prero­gative: Holy and profitable. The best speaker in the world in many words cannot want sin. The best Wri­ter hath some drosse & refuse; but here, all is holy, all is profitable: Many Books are to no purpose but to feed and inflame mens lusts; many serve for nothing but to spend & drive over the time, without thought; most part are good for nothing, but to burden and o­ver-weary the world, to put them in a fancy of know­ledge which they have not; many serve for this, only to nourish mens curiosity, and vain imaginations, and contentions, about words and notions, but here is a Book profitable, all profitable. If you do not yet pro­fit by it, you can have no pleasure in it, its only ordai­ned for souls profiting, not for pelasing your fancy, not for matter of curious speculation, not for contention and strife about the interpretation of it. Many Books have nothing in them, but specious Titles to com­mend them; they do nothing lesse then what they promise, they have a large and fair entry which leads only into a poor Cottage, but the Scriptures hath no hyperbolick and superlative styles to allure men, they hold out a plain and common gate, and entry, which will undoubtly lead to a pleasant Palace; others & prodesse volunt & delectare, but these certainly & pro­desse volunt & possunt, they both can profite you and will profit you. I wish that souls would read the Scri­ptures, as profitable Scriptures, with intention to pro­fit. If you do not read with such a purpose, you read not the Scriptures of God, they become as another Book unto you. But what are they profitable for? For Doctrine, and a Divine Doctrine. A Doctrine of life and happinesse: Its the great promise of the New Covenant, You shal be all taught of God; the Scriptures can make a man learned & wise, learned to salvation. It is foolishnesse to the world, but the world through wisdom know not God. Alace! what do they then [Page 31] know? Is there any besides God? And is there any knowledge besides the knowledge of God? You have a poor petty wisdom among you, to gather riches and manage your businesse; others have a poor imaginary wisdom that they call learning; and generally people think, To pray to God is but a paper-skill, a little Book-craft; they think the knowledge of God is no­thing else but to learn to read the Bible. Alace! mis­take me not, it is another thing to know God: The Doctrine of Jesus Christ written on the heart, is a deep profound learning, and the poor, simple & rudest people may by the Spirits teaching become wiser than their Ancients, than their Ministers: O! its an ex­cellent point of learning, to know how to be saved: What is it, I pray you, to know the course of the Hea­vens? To number the Orbs, and the Stars in them? To measure their Circumference, to reckon their mo­tions, and yet not to know him that sits on the Circle of them, and not to know how to inhabite and dwel there: If you would seek unto God & leek eyes ope­ned to behold the mystery of the World, ye would become wiser then your Pastors, you would learn from the Spirit to pray better, you would find the way to heaven better then they can teach you, or walk in it.

Then it is profitable for reproof and correction: It contains no Doctrine very pleasant to mens naturall humours; it is, indeed, most pleasant, but to a fight & ordered taste. You know, the distemper of the eye, or the perverting of the taste, will mis-represent plea­sant things, & sweet things to the senses, & make them appear ill favoured and bitter: But, I say to a discer­ning spirit, there is nothing so sweet, so comly. I have seen an end of all perfection, but none of thy Law: Thy Word is sweeter to me than the hony, or the hony comb. If a soul be pre-possessed with the love of the world, & the lusts of the world, it cannot favour and taste to them; that vitious quality in the mind, will make the [Page 32] pleasant Gospel unpleasant: I piped unto you, and you have not danced. But however, the Scriptures are then most profitable, when they are least pleasant to our corruptions; and therefore it is an absolute and intire Piece, Et prodesse volunt & delectare, Omne tulit pun­ctum, qui miscuitutile dulvi. There are sharp reproofs, & sad corrections of his holy Law, which must make way for the pleasant and sweet Gospel: This is a re­proof of life, a wounding before healing, that who so refuse them despise their own soul, but the car that hear­eth them abideth among the wise, Prov. 15. 31. Woe unto that soul that correction, or reproof, or threatning is grievous unto, He shal die, ver. 10. He is brutish, Prov. 12. 1. There is a generation of men, tha [...] can en­dure to hear nothing but Gospel-promises, that cry out against all reproving of sins, and preaching of Gods wrath against unbelieving sinners, as legall and med­ling with other mens matters, especially, if they re­prove the sins of Rulers; their publick State-enormi­ties: As if the whole Word of God were not profi­table; as if reproofs were not as wholsome as conso­lations; as if threatnings did not contribute to make men flee from the wrath to come into a City of re­fuge. Let such persons read their own Character out of wise Solomon, Correction is grievous to them that for­sake the way. Reprove a wise man and he will love thee, and he will be yet wiser, Pro. 9. 9. If we were pleasers of men, then were we not the servants of Jesus-Christ: Let us strive to profit men, but not to please them: Peace, peace which mens own hearts fancie would please them, but it were better for them to be awake­ned out of that dream, by reproof, by correction; and he that will do so, shal find more favour of him after­ward, than he that flattereth him with his tongue, Prov. 28. 23. Well then, let this be established in your hearts as the foundation of all true Religion; that the Scriptures are the Word of the eternal God; and [Page 33] that they contain a perfect and exact Rule, both of glorifying God, & of the way to enjoy him; they can make you perfect to every good work. I shal say no more on this, but beseech you, as ye love your own souls, be acquainting your selves with them. You will hear, in these dayes, of men pretending to more divine & spiritual discoveries, and revelations, than the Scri­ptures contain: But, my brethren, these can make you wise to salvation, these can make you perfect to every good work: Then, what needs more? All that is be­side salvation, and beyond perfection, count i [...] super­fluous and vain, if not worse, if not diabolicall. Let others be wise to their own destruction; let them e­stablish their own Imaginations for the Word of God; and Rule of their Faith, but hold you fast what you have received & contend earnestly for it; add nothing and deminish nothing: Let this Lamp shine till the day dawn, till the morning of the Resurrection, and walk ye in the light of it, and do not kindle any other sparkles, else ye shal lye down in the grave in sorrow, and rise in sorrow: Take the Word of God as the on­ly Rule, & the perfect Rule, a Rule for all your Acti­ons, Civil, Natural and Religious, for all must be done to his glory, and his Word teacheth how to attain to that End. Let not your Imaginations, let no others Example, let not the Preaching of men, let not the Conclusions, and Acts of Assemblies be your Rule, but in as far as you find them agreeing with the per­fect Rule of Gods holy Word: All other Rules are regulae regulatae; they are but like publications and intimations of the Rule it self. Ordinances of As­semblies are but like the Herauld-promulgation of the Kings Statute and Law; if it vary in any thing from his intention, its not valid and binding. I beseech you take the Scriptures for the Rule of your walking, or else you will wander; the Scripture is Regula re­gulans, a ruling Rule. If you be not acquainted with [Page 34] It, you must follow the opinions, or examples of o­ther men, and what if they lead you unto destruction?

Joh. 5. 39. ‘Search the Scriptures, for in them, &c. Eph. 2. 20. ‘And are built upon the foundation of the Pro­phets and Apostles.’

AS in darknesse there is need of a Lanthorn without, and the light of the eyes within; for neither can we see in darknesse without some Lamp, though we have never so good eyes, nor yet see with­out eyes; though in never so clear a Sun-shine: So there is absolute need, for the guiding of our feet in the dangerous, and dark paths to Eternall life (that is full of pits and snares) of the Lamp, or Wood, written or preached, without us; and the illuminati­on of the holy Ghost within us. These are conjoyn­ed, Isa. 56. 21. This is my Covenant, the spirit that is upon thee, and the words that I have put in thy mouth, shal not depart out of thy mouth, nor the mouth of thy seed, &c. There are words without, and there must needs be a Spirit within, which makes us to behold the truth and grace contained in these words. There is a Law written without; with pen and ink, and there is a Law written within upon the heart, with the Spi­rit of the living God: The Law without is the Pa­tern and exact copy; the Law within is the Tran­script, or the Image of God upon the heart, framed and fashioned according to the similitude of it, 2 Cor. 3. 3. Heb. 8. 10. So then, there needs be no more question about the Divine Authority of the Scrip­tures, among those who have their senses exercised to descern between good and ill, than among men who see and taste, concerning light and darknesse, sweet & bitter. The perswasion of a Christian is fetched deep­er than the reasons of men; their faith is the evidence [...] [...] not seen, its an eye, a supernaturall eye; [Page 35] whereby a soul beholds that Majesty and excellency of God shinning in the word, which though it shine about the rest of the World, yet it's not seen, because they cannot know it, nor descern it. Wonder not that the multitude of men cannot believe the report that is made, that there is so few who find any such ex­cellency and sweetnesse in the Gospel as is reported, because, saith Isai. 53. 1. the arm of the Lord is not revealed to them; the hand of God must first write on their heart ere they understand the Writtings of the Scriptures, his arm must creat an eye in their souls, an eternal light, before it can behold that glorious brightnesse of Gods shinning in the word. The word is Gods testimony of himself, of his grace and mercy and good-will to mankind. Now no man can receive this testimony, unlesse it be sealed and confirmed by the holy Ghost into the heart: saith Peter, We are his witnesses of these things, and so also is the holy Ghost whom God hath given to those that obey him. Acts 5. 32. The word witnesses to the ear and the spirits testifieth to our spirits the truth and worth of that, and therefore the spirit is a seal and a witnesse. The word is the Lord's voice to his own Children: Ba­stards cannot know it, but my sheep hear my voice, Joh. 10 4. 16. You know no difference between the blee­ting of one sheep and another, but the poor lambs know their mothers voice; there is a secret instinct of nature, that is more powerfull than many marks and signs: Even so those that are begotten of God know his voice, they descern that in it which all the world that hear it cannot descern, there is a sympathy between their souls and that living Word, that word is the immortall seed they are begotten of, and there is a naturall instinct to love that; and to mediate in it, such an inclination to it as in new born babes to the breasts, so the Children of God do desire the sin­cere milk of the Word, that they may grow thereby, a [...] [Page 36] they were born of it, 1 Pet. 2. 2. In these Scriptures which we read in your audience, you have something of their excellency, and our duty; there is a rich jewel in them, a precious pearl in that field, even Jesus Christ, and in him eternall life, and therefore we ought to search the Scriptures for this jewel, to dig in the field for this pearl, the Doctrine of the Prophets and Apostles, is a sure foundation whereupon souls may build their eternall felicity, and the hope of it: Jesus Christ is the very chief stone in that foundati­on whereupon the weight of all the Saints and all their hope hangs. And therefore we ought to lean the weight of our Souls only to this truth of God, and build our faith only upon it, and square our practice only by it.

We shal speak something of the first, that it may be a spurre to the second. The Jews had some respe­ctive opinion of the word of God, they knew that in them waseternall life, they thought it a Doctrine of life and happinesse, and so cryed up Moses Writtings, but they would not believe Christs words, they erred, not understanding the Scriptures, and so set the Writ­tings of Moses Law at variance, with the preaching of Christs Gospel: What a pittyfull mistake was this? they thought they had eternall life in the Scriptures, and yet they did not receive nor acknowledge him whom to know was eternall life, therefore our Lord Jesus sends them back again to the Scriptures, go and search them, you think, and you think well, that in then you may find the way to eternall life, but while you seek it in them you mistake it: These Scriptures testifie of me the end of the Law, but you cannot be­hold the end of that Ministry, because of the blind­nesse of your hearts, Rom. 10. 3. 2 Cor. 3. 14. There­fore search again, unfold the ceremonies, I am wrapt in them, and life eternall with me, dig up the Law till you find the bottome of Gods purpose in it till [Page 37] you find the end of the Ministration and you shal find me, the way, and truth, and life, and so you shal have that eternall life which now you do but think you have and are beguiled. While you seek it out of me, in vain you think you have it, for it is not in the Scriptures, but because they testifie of me the life and the light of men. May not this now commend the word to us? Eternall life is in it. Other Writings and discourses may tickle the ears with some pleasing eloquence, but that is vanishing, its but like a Musi­tians voice, some may represent some petty & momen­tary advantage, but how soon shal an end be put till all that? so that within a little time the advantage of all the Books of the world shal be gone. The statutes and Laws of Kings and Parliaments can reach no fur­ther then some temporall reward or punishment, their highest pain is the killing of this body, their highest reward is some evanishing and sading honour or peri­shing richest But he sheweth his word and judge­ments to us, and hath not dealt so with every nation, Psal. 147. 19. 20. And no nation under the whole heaven hath such Laws and Ordinances, eternall life and eternall death is wrapt up in them, these are re­wards and punishments suitable to the Majesty and Magnificence of the eternall Law-giver. Consider I beseech you, what is folded up here, the Scriptures shew the path of life, life is of all beings most excel­lent, and comes nearest the blessed being of God. When we say [life] we understand a blessed life, that only deserves the name. Now this we have lost in Adam, death is past upon all men, but that death is not the worst, its but a consequence of a soul death, the immortall soul, whose life consisteth in Communion with God, & peace with him is seperated from him by sin, and so killed when its cut off from the fountain of life, what life can it have any more, than a beam that is cut off by the intervention of a dark body from the [Page 38] sun. Now then what a blessed Doctrine must it be that brings to light life and immortality, especially when we have so much miserably lost it, and involved our souls into an eternall death? Life is precious in it self, but much more precious to one condemned to die, to be caught out of the paws of the Lyon, to be brought back from the Gibbet. O how will that commend the favour of a little more time in the World. But then if we knew what an eternall misery we are involved in­to, and stand under a sentence binding us over to such an inconceivable and insupportable punishment as is the curse & wrath of God. O how precious an esteem would souls have of the Scriptures, how would they be sweet unto their soul, because they shew unto us a way of escaping that pit of misery, and a way of attaining eternall blessednesse, as satisfying and glorious, as the misery would have been vexing and tormenting. O that ye would once lay these in the ballance together, this present life and eternall life. Know ye not that your souls are created for eternity, that they will eter­nally survive all these present things? Now, how do ye imagine they shal live after this life? your thoughts and projects, and designs are confined within the poor narrow bounds of your time, when you die in that day your thoughts shal perish, all your imaginations and purposes, & providences shal have an end then, they reach no further then that time, & if you should whol­ly perish too, it were not so much matter: but for all your purposes and projects, to come to an end, when you are but beginning to live, and enter eternity, that is lamentable indeed. Therefore I say, consider what ye are doing, weigh these in a ballance eternal life, & the present life, if there were no more difference, but the continuence of the one, & shortnesse of the other, that this worlds standing is but as one day, one mo­ment to eternity, that ought to preponderate in your souls, do we not here flee away as a shadow upon the [Page 39] mountains? are we not as a vapour that ascends and for a litle time appears a solid body, and then presently vanisheth? Do we not come all into the stage of the world, as for an hour to act our part and be gone, now then, what is this to endless eternity? When you have contained as long as since the World began, you are no nearer the end of it, ought not that estate then to be most in your eyes, how to lay up a foundation for the time to come. But then compare the misery and vexation of this life, with the glory and felicity of this eternall life; what are our dayes, but few and full of trouble. Or, if you will take the most blessed estate you have seen or heard of in this world, of Kings and rich men, and help all the defects of it by your imagi­nations: Suppose unto your selves the highth and pith of Glory, and abundance, and power that is attai­nable on earth, and when your fancy hath busked up such a felicitie, compare it with eternall life: O how will that vanish out of your imaginations; if so be you know any thing of the life to come, you wil even think that an odious comparison, you will think all that earthly felicitie, but light as vanity, every man at his best estate is altogether vanity. Eernall life will weigh down eternally, 2 Cor. 4. 17. 18. O but it hath an exceeding weight in it self; one moment of it, one hours possession and taste of it, but then what shal the endlesse endurance of it add to its weight? Now there are many that presume they have a right to eternall life, as the Jews did, you think, saith he, that you have it, you think well that you think its only to be found in the Scriptures, but you vainlie think that you have found it in them: And there is this reason of it, be­cause you will not come to me that you may have life, vers. 40. If you did understand the true meaning of the Scriptures, and did not rest on the outward Letter and Ordinances, you would receive the testimonie that the Scriptures give of me. But now you hear not me [Page 40] the Fathers substantiall Word, therefore you have not his Word abiding in you, vers. 38. There was nothing more generall among that people than a vain carnall confidence and presumption of being Gods people, & having interest in the promise of life eternall, as it is this day in the visible Church. There is a multi­tude that are Christians onlie in the Letter, & not in the Spirit, that would never admit any question con­cerning this great matter of having eternall life, and so by not questioning it, they come to think they have it, and by degrees their conjectures and thoughts about this ariseth to the stabilitie of some faigned & strong perswasion of it. In the Old Testament the Lord strikes at the roots of their perswasions, by discovering unto them how vain a thing it was, and how abomi­nable before him, to have an externall profession of being his people, and to glory in external Ordinances and Priviledges, & yet to neglect altogether the purg­ing of their hearts, & consciences, from lusts and Idol­lis [...]s, & to make no conscience of walking righteously towards men: Their profession was contradicted by their practice, Will ye steal, murther, and commit adul­tery, and yet come and stand in my house. Jer. 7. 8. 9. doth not that say as much as if I had given you liberty to do all these abominations? Even so it is this day, the most part have no more of Christianitie but a name, they have some outward priviledges of Bap­tism, and hearing the Word, and, it may be, have a form of knowledge, and a form of worship, but in the mean time they are not baptized in heart, they are in all their conversation even conformed to the Heathen world; they hate personall reformation, and think it too precise and needlesse: Now, I say, such are many of you, & yet ye would not take it well to have it que­stioned, whether ye shal be partakers of Eternall life: you think you are wronged when that is called in que­stion. Oh, that it were beyond all question indeed. [Page 41] But know assuredlie, That you are but Christians in the Letter; in the Flesh, and not in the Spirit: Ma­ny of you have not so much as a form of knowledge, have not so much as the Letter of Religion. You have heard some names in the preaching often repea­ted, as Christ, and God, and Faith, and Heaven, and Hell, & you know no more of these but the name; you consider not, and meditate not on them: And those who know the truth of the Word, yet the Word abid­eth not, nor dwelleth in you; you have it in your mouth, you have it in your minde or understanding, but it is not received in love, it doth not dwell in the heart, Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, Col. 3. 16. you have it imprisoned in your minds, and shut up into a corner where it is useless, & can do no more but witnesse against you, and scarce that; as the Gen­tils incarcerated and detained the truth of God, writ­ten by nature within them, in unrighteousnesse, Rom. 1. 18. So do many of you detain the knowledge of his word in unrighteousness, it hath no place in the heart, gets no libertie and freedom to walk through the affe­ctions, and so to order the conversation of men: And therefore the most part of men do but fancie to them­selves an interest and right to eternall life, you think it, and do but think it; it is but a strong imagination, that hath no strength from the grounds of it, no sta­bilitie from any evidence or promise, but meerly from it self; or it is but a light and vain conjecture that hath no strength in it, because there is no question or doubts admitted which many try the strength of it: But then I suppose, that a man could attain some an­swerable walking, that he had not onlie a form of knowledge, but some reality of practice, some inward heat of affection & zeal for God and godlinesse, yet there is one thing that wants, and if it be wanting will spoil all: And it is this which Christ reproves in the Jews, You will not come to me to have life: The Scri-Scriptures [Page 42] testifie of me, but you receive not their te­stimonie. Suppose a man had as much equitie and ju­stice towards men, piety towards God, & sobriety to­wards himself, as can be found among the best of men, let him be a diligent reader of the Scriptures, let him love them, & meditate on them day and night, yet if he do not come out of himself, and leave all his own righteousnesse as dung behind him, that he may be found in Jesus Christ, he hath no life, he cannot have any right to life eternall. You may think this a strange assertion, that if a man had the righteousnesse & holi­nesse of an Angel, yet he could not be saved without denying all that, and fleeing to Christ as an ungodly man: And you may think it as strange a supposell, that any person that reads the Scriptures, and walks righteously, and hath a zeal towards God, yet are such as will not come to Christ, and will not hear him whom the Father hath sent.

But the first is the very substance of the Gospell, There is no other Name by which men may be saved, but by Iesus Christ, Acts 4. 12. Life eternall is all with­in him, All the treasures of grace, and wisdom, and knowledge are seated in him, Col. 1. 19. and 2, 3. All the light of life and salvation is imbodied in this Sun of Righteousnesse, since the Eclipse of mans felicitie in the Garden. Adam was a living soul, but he lost his own life, and killed his Posterity. Christ Jesus the second common man in the world is a quickning Spirit, he hath not only life in himself, but he gives it more abundantly; and therefore you have it so of­ten repeated in Iohn, who was the Disciple most ac­quainted with Christ, In him was life, and the life was the light of men, 1. 4. And he is the bread of life, that gives life to the World. Joh. 6. 33. and 35. He is the resurrection and the life, 11. 25. and The way, the truth, and life, 14. 6. The Scriptures do not contain eternall life, but in as far as they lead to him who is [Page 43] life, and whom to know and imbrace is eternall life: And therefore (saith he) These are they which testifie of me. Men lived immediatlie in God when he was in innocencie, he had life in himself from God; but then he began to live in himself, without dependance on God the fountain of life, and this himself being interposed between God and his life, it evanished, e­ven as a Beam by the interveening of any grosse body between it and the Sun. Now mans light and life be­ing thus eclipsed and cut off, the Lord is pleased to let all fulnesse dwell in his Son Jesus Christ, and The fulnesse of the God-head dwels in him bodily, Col. 2. 9. that since there was no accesse immediatly to God for life (a flamming fire, and sword of Divine Justice compassing and guarding the tree of Life, left man should touch it) there might be accesse to God in a Mediator like unto us, that we might come to him, and might have life from God by the intervention of Jesus Christ.

Look then what is in the holy Scriptures, and you shal find it but a letter of death and ministration of condemnation while it is separated from him; Christ is the very life and spirit of the Scriptures, by whose vertue they quicken our souls; if you consider the per­fect Rule of Righteousnesse in the Law, you cannot find life there, because you cannot be conformed un­to it; the holiest man offends in every thing, and that holy Law being violated in any thing will send thee to hell with a curse, Cursed is he that abideth not in every thing. If you look upon the promise of life, Do this and live: What comfort can you find in it, ex­cept you could find doing in your selves? And can any man living find such exact obedience as the Law requires? There is a mistake among many, They conceive that the Lord cannot be well pleased with them, if they do what they can: but be not deceived, the law of God requires perfect doing, it will not com­pound [Page 44] with thee, and came down in its tearms, not one jot of the rigour of it will be remitted: If you can­not do all that is commanded, all you do will not sa­tisfie that promise; therefore thou must be turned o­ver from the promise of life to the curse, and there thou shalt find thy name written: Therefore it is ab­solutely necessary, that Jesus Christ be made under the Law, and give obedience in all things, even to the death of the Crosse, and so be made a curse for us and sin for us, even he who knew no sin, and thus in him you find the law fulfilled, Justice satisfied, and God pleased; in him you find the promise of life, indeed established, in a better, surer way than was first pro­pounded, you find life by his death, you find life in his dying for you: And again consider the Ceremo­nial Law, What were all those Sacrifices and Cere­monies? Did God delight in them? Could he sa­vour their incense, and sweet smels, and eat the fat of Lambs and be pacified? No, he detastes and abhorres such imaginations, because that people did stay in the Letter, and went no further then the Ceremony; he declares, that it was as great abomination to him as the offering up of a Dog, while they were separa­ted from Jesus Christ, in whom his soul rested, and was pacified; they were not expiatious, but provoca­tious; they were not propitiations for sin, but abomi­nations in themselves. But take these as the shadows of such a living substance, take them as remembran­ces of him who was to come; and behold Jesus Christ lying in these swadling cloaths of Ceremonies untill the fulnesse of time should come that he might be manifested in the flesh, and so you shal find eternall life in those dead beasts, in those dumb Ceremonies: If you consider this Lamb of God slain in all these Sacrifices, from the beginning of the world, then you present a sweet smelling savour to God, then you of­fer the true propitiation for the sins of the world, then [Page 45] he will delight more in that sacrifice than all other personall obedience.

But what if I should say, that the Gospel it self is a killing Letter, & ministration of death, being severed from Christ? I should say nothing amisse, but what Paul speaketh, that his Gospel was a savour of death to many; take the most powerfull Preaching, the most sweet discourse, the most plain Writings of the free grace & salvation in the Gospel, take all the preachings of Jesus Christ himself and his Apostles, & you shal not find life in them, unlesse ye be led by the Spirit of Christ unto himself who is the resurrection and the life; It will no more save you than the Covenant of works; unlesse that word abide and dwell in your hearts, to make you believe in him, and imbrace him with your souls, whom God hath sent; suppose you heard all, and heard it gladly, and learned it, and could discourse well upon it, and teach others, yet if you be not driven out of your selves, out of your own righteousnesse, as well as sin, and persued to this Ci­ty of refuge Jesus Christ, you have not eternal life. Your knowledge of the truth of the Gospel and your obedience to Gods Law will certainly kill you; and as certainly, as your ignorance and disobedience, un­lesse you have imbraced in your soul that good thing Jesus Christ contained in these truths, who is the Diamond of that Golden Ring of the Scriptures, and unlesse your souls imbrace these promises as soul-sav­ing, as containing the chief good, and worthy of all acceptation, as well as your mind receive these as true and faithfull sayings, 1 Tim. 1. 15.

Thus ye see Christ Jesus is either the subject of all in the Scriptures, or the end of it all, he is the very proper subject of the Gospel: Paul knew nothing but Christ crucified in his preaching; and he is the very proper end and scope of the law for righteousness, Rom. 10. 3. All the preaching of a covenant of works, [Page 46] all the curses and threatnings of the Bible, all the rigid­exactions of obedience, all come to this one great de­sign; not that we may set about such a walking to please God, or do something to pacifie him, but that we being concluded under, sin and wrath on the one hand, and an impossibility to save our selves on the other hand, Gal. 3. 22. Rom 5. 20, 21. may be pur­sued into Jesus Christ for righteousness, & life, who is both able to save us, and ready to welcome us. There­fore the Gospel opens the door of salvation, in Christ the Law is behind us with fire and sword, and destru­ction pursuing us, and all for this end, that sinners may come to him and have life. Thus the Law is made a Pedagogue of the soul to lead to Christ; Christ is behind us, cursing, condemning, threatning us, and he is before us with stretched-out arms, ready to re­ceive us, blesse us and save us, inviting, promising, ex­horting to come and have life. Christ is on mount Sinai, delivering the Law with thunders, Act. 7. 38. and he is on mount Sion, in the calm voice, he is both upon the mountain of cursings and blessings, and on both doing the part of a Mediator, Gal. 3. 19, 20. It is love, that is in his heart which made him first co­ver his Countenance with frowns and threats, and it is love that again displayes it self in his smilling countenance. Thus souls are inclosed with love pursuing, and love receiving: And thus the Law which seems most contrary to the Gospel, testifies of Christ, it gives him this testimony, that except salvation be in him, it is no where else. The Law sayes, it is not in me, seek it not in obedience, I can do nothing but destroy you, if you abide under my juris­diction. The Ceremonies and Sacrifices say, if you can behold the end of this Ministery (if a Vail be not on your hearts, as it was on Moses face, 2 Cor. 3 13, 14) you may see where it is, its not in your obedience, but in the death & sufferings of the Son of God, whom we [Page 47] represent. Then the Gospel takes all these Cove­rings and Vails away, and gives a plain and open testi­mony of him, There is no Name under heaven to be sa­ved, but by Christ's. The Old Testament speak by figures and signs, as dumb men do, but the New speaks in plain words, and with open face. Now, I say, for all this that there is no salvation but in him, yet many souls, not only those who live in their grosse sins, and have no form of godlinesse, but even the better sort of people, that have some knowledge and civility, and a kind of zeal for God, yet they do not come to him that they may have life, Rom. 10. 1, 2, 3. they do not submit to the righteousness of God. Here is the march that di­vides the wayes of Heaven and Hell, coming to Jesus Christ, and forsaking our selves: the confidence of these souls is chiefly or only in that little knowledge or zeal, or profession they have, they do not as really abhore themselves for their own righteousnesse as for their unrighteousnesse, they make that the covering of their nakednesse, and filthinesse, which is in it self as menstruous and unclean as any thing. It is now the very propension and naturall inclination of our hearts to stand upright in our selves: Faith bowes a souls back, and take on Christs righteousnesse, but presum­ption lifts up a soul upon its own bottom, How can ye believe that seek honour one of another? The engage­ment of the soul to its own credit or estimation, the engagement of self-love, and self-honour, do lift up a soul that it cannot submit to Gods righteousnesse, to righteousnesse in another. And therefore many do dream and think that they have eternall life, who shal awake in the end, and find that it was but a dream or night-fancy.

Now from all this, I would enforce this duty upon your consciences, to search the Scriptures, if you think to have eternall life, search them if you would know Christ, whom to know is eternal life, then again search [Page 48] them, for these are they that testifie of him. Search­ing imports diligence, much diligence, its a serious work, its not a common seeking of an easie and com­mon thing, but its a search and scrutiny for some hid­den thing, or some special thing. Its not bare rea­ding of the Scriptures that will answer this duty, ex­cept it be diligent and daily reading, and its not that alone, except the Spirit within meditate on them, and by meditation accomplish a diligent search. There is some hidden secret that you must search for, that is in­closed within the covering of words, and sentences, there is a mystery of wisdome that you must apply your hearts to search out, Eccles. 7. 5. Jesus Christ is the Treasure that is hid in this field, O precious trea­sure of eternall life! Now then, souls, search into the fields of the Scriptures, Pro. 2. 4. for him as for hid treasure. It is not only truth you must seek and buy, and not sell it, but it is life you would search: Here is an object that may not only take up your understan­dings, but satisfie your hearts. Think not you have found all when you have found the truth there, and learned it; no, except you have found life there, you have found nothing, you have missed the treasure. If you would profite by the Scriptures, you must bring both your understandings, & your affections to them, and depart not till they both return full: If you bring your understanding to seek the truth, you may find truth, but not truly: you may find it, but you are not found of it: you may lead truth captive, and unclose it in a prison of your mind and encompasse it about with a guard of corrupt affections, that it shal have no issue, no out going to the rest of your soul and wayes, and no influence on them; you may know the truth, but you are not known of it, and brought in captivity to the obedience of it. The Treasure that is hide in the Scriptures are Jesus Christ, whose intire and perfect Name is, Way, Truth, and Life. He is a living truth [Page 49] and true Life: Therefore Christ is the adaequat ob­ject of the soul, commensurable to all its faculties. He has Truth in him to satisfie the mind, and he has Life and Goodness in him to satiate the heart: there­fore if thou wouldst find Jesus Christ, bring thy whole soul to seek him, as Paul expresseth it. He is true and faithfull, and worthy of all acceptation, then bring thy judgement to find the light of truth, and thy affe­ctions to imbrace the life of goodnesse that is in him. Now, as much as ye find of him, so much have ye pro­fited in the Scriptures: If you find commands there that you cannot obey, search again and you may find strength under that command; digg a little deeper, & you shal find Jesus the end of an impossible com­mand; & when you have found him, you have found life and strength to obey, & you have found a prepiti­ation and sacrifice for trantgressing & not obeying. If you find curses in it, search again & you shal find Jesus Christ under that, made a curse for us; you shal find him the end of the curse, for righteousnesse to every one that believes. When you know all the Letter of the Scripture, yet you must search into the Spirit of it, that it may be imprinted into your spirits: all you know does you no good but as its received in love, un­lesse your souls become a living Epistle, & the Word without be written on the heart, you have found no­thing. As for you that cannot read the Scriptures, if it be possible, take that pains to learn to read them. O if you knew what they contain, & whom they bear witnesse of, you would have little quietnesse till you could read, at least his love-epistle to sinners: And if you cannot learn, be not discouraged, but if your de­sires within be servent, your endeavours to hear it read by others will be more earnest. But it is not so much the reading of much of it that profiteth, as the ponde­ring of these things in our hearts, and digesting them by frequent meditation, till they become the food [Page 50] of the Soul: This was Davids way, and by this he grew to the stature of a tall & well-bodied Christian.

Eph. 2. 20. ‘And builded upon the foundation of the Apostles, &c.

BElievers are the Temple of the living God, in which he dwels and walks: 2 Cor. 6. 16. Every one of them is a little Sanctuary and Temple to His Majesty, Sanctifie the Lord of Hosts in your hearts, though he be the high & lofty one that inhabits eter­nity, yet he is pleased to come down to this poor Cot­tage of a creatures heart, and dwell in it: Is not this as great a humbling and condescending, for the Father to come down off his Throne of Glory, to the poor base foot-stool of the creatures soul, as for the Son to come down in the state of a servant, and become in the form of sinfull flesh. But then he is a Temple and Sanctua­ry to them, and he shal be to you a Sanctuary, Isa. 8. A place of refuge, a secret hiding-place. Now, as every one is a little separated retired Temple, so they all con­joyned make up one Temple, one visible body in which he dwels: Therefore Paul calls them living stones, built up into a spiritual house to God, 1 Pet. 2. 5 All these little Temples make up one house & Tem­ple fitly joyned together, in which God shews mani­fest signs of his presence and working: unto this the Apostle in this place alludes. The Communion, & Union of Christians with God, is of such a nature, that all the relations and points of conjunction in the crea­tures are taken to resemble it, & hold it out to us. We are Citizens, saith he, & Domesticks, houshold men, & so dwel in his house; and then we are his House be­side: Now ye know there are two principal things in a House, the Foundation and the Corner-stone; the one supports the building, the other units it, and holds it together: These two parts of this spiritual [Page 51] building are here pointed at; the foundation of every particular stone, and of the whole building is the Do­ctrine of the Prophets and Apostles, as holding out Je­sus Christ to souls, the Rock on which our house shal be builded: Not the Apostles or Prophets, far lesse Pastors and Teachers since; for they are but at best, workers together with God, and imployed in the building of the house; not yet their Doctrine, but as it holds out that true foundation that God had laid in Sion, Isa. 28. which is Jesus Christ, for other founda­tion can no man lay. And then the Corner-stone is that same Jesus Christ, who reaches from the bottome even to the top of the building, & immediatly touches every stone, and both quickens it in it self, and unites them together.

Well then, here is a sure foundation to build our e­ternal happinesse upon, the word of God that endures for ever holds it out to us: all men are building upon something, every man is about some establishment of his hopes, layes some foundation of his confidence, which he may stand upon. They are one of the two that Christ speaks of: Luk 6. 46. One builds on the Rock, another on the Sand: now as the foundation is, so is the house; a changeable foundation makes a falling house, a sure foundation makes an unchange­able house; a house without a foundation will prove quickly no house: Now whatsoever men build their hope and confidence upon, beside the word of God, his sure Promise and sure Covenant, and Jesus Christ in them, they build upon no foundation, or upon a sandy foundation. All flesh is grasse, and the flower and per­fection of it is as the flower of the field; here is the name and character of all created perfections, of the most excellent endowments of mind, of all the speci­ous actions of men; its all but vanishing, and vanity, every man at his best estate is such; yea, altogether such: You who have no more to build upon but your [Page 52] prosperity and wealth, O that is but sand and dung; would any man build a house upon a dung-hill. You who have no other hope, but in your own good pra­yers and meanings your own reformations, & repen­tances, your professions, and practises; know this, that your hope is like a spiders house, like the web that she hath laboriously exercised her self about all the week over, and then when you lean upon that house it shal fall through & not sustain your weight: whatsoever it be, beside this living stone Jesus Christ, who is the very substance of the Word and Promises, it shal un­doubtedly prove thy shame, and confusion. But be­hold the opposition the Prophet makes between the word and these other things, the word of our God shal stand for ever: Isa. 40. 6, 7 8. And therefore Peter makes it an incorruptible seed, of which Believers are begotten, 1 Pet. 1. 23. It is the unchangeable truth & immutable faithfulnesse of God that makes his word so sure, its builded up to the Heavens. Therefore the Psalmist often commends the Word of the Lord as a tryed word, as purified seven times, it hath endured the tryal & proof of all men, of all tentations, of all gene­rations, it hath often been put in the furnace of que­stions & doubtings, it hath often been tryed in the fire of afflictions, but it came forth like pure Gold, with­out drosse. This is faiths foundation, God hath spo­ken in his holiness, and therefore, though all men be liars, yet God will be found true, he deceives none, and is deceived of none. The Lord hath taken a Latitude to himself in his working, he loves to shew his Soveraignty in much of that; and therefore he changes it in men, and upon men as he pleaseth, yet he hath condescended to limit and bound himself by his word, and in this to shew his faithfulnesse. And there­fore, though heaven and earth should pass away, though he should innihilate this world, and create new ones, yet not on jot of his world shal sail. The earth is [Page 53] established sure, though it hath no foundation, for the Word of his command supports it: And yet a Belie­vers confidence is on a surer ground: Though the earth should be removed, yet it cannot pass or fail, saith our Lord: And therefore the Psalmist useth to boast in God, That though the earth were moved, and the flouds lifted up their voice, yet he would not fear, because his foundation was unshaken for all that; the word is not removed, when the world is moved, & the fore he was not moved: The worlds stability depends upon a word of cōmand, but our salvation depends on a word of promise. Now, you know, promises put an obligati­on upon the person, which commands do not, a man may change his commands as he pleases to his children or servants, but he may not change his promises, there­fore the promises of God put an obligation upon him, who is truth it self, not to fail in performance; or ra­ther he is to himself, by his unchangeable will & good pleasure, by his faithfulnsse and truth, an oblidging and binding Law: When no creature could let bounds to him, he incloses himself within the bounds of pro­mise to us, and gives all flesh liberty to challenge him if he be not faithfull.

Now all the promises of God are yea, & Amen, in Ie­sus Christ, that is, established, and confirmed in him: Christ is the surety of them, and so the certainty and stability of them depends upon him, at least, to our sense; for God in all his dealing condescends to our weaknesse, that we may have stronge consolation: A Promise might suffice to ground our faith, but he ad­deth an Oath to his promise, & he takes Christ surety for the performance; and therefore Christ may be called the Truth indeed, the substantial Word of God, for he is the substance of the written and preached Word; and then he is the very certainty and assurance of it, the Scriptures testifie of him, and lead us to this Rock higher than we, to build upon, and against this [Page 54] the gates of hell cannot prevail: If the Word lead not a soul unto Christ himself, that four hath no founda­tion; though thou hear the Word, though thou know the Word, yea, suppose thou couldst teach others, and instruct the ignorant, yet all that will be no foundati­on, as good as none, except thou do it: And what is it to do the Word, but to believe in him whom the Word testifies of: this is the work of God, to resign thy soul to his mercies, and merits, and have no con­fidence in the flesh: To scrape out all the rubbish of works, and performances, and parts, out of the founda­tion, and singly to roll thy souls weight upon Gods promises, and Christs purchase, to look, with Paul, on all things beside, in thee, and about the, as dung and drosse, that thou can lean no weight upon, and to remove that dung-hill from the foundation of thy hope, that Jesus Christ may be the only foundation of thy soul, as God hath laid him in the Church for a sure foundation, That who so believeth in him may not be ashamed: What ever beside, a soul be established on, though it appear very solid, and the soul be setled & fixed upon it, yet a day will come that will unsettle that soul, and raze that foundation: either it shal be now done in thy conscience, or it must be done at length, when that great tempest of Gods indignation shal blow from heaven against all unrighteousnesse of men, in the day of accounts, then shal thy house fall, and the fall of it shal be great. But a soul established upon the sure promises, and upon Christ, in whom they are Yea, and Amen, shal abide that storm, and in that day have confidence before God, have wherewith to answer, in Jesus Christ, all the challenges of divine justice, and the accusations of conscience, He that trusteth in him shal be as Mount Sion, which cannot be moved. You see all things else change, and therefore mens hopes and joyes perish; even here, the tentati­ons and revolutions of the times undermines their [Page 55] confidence, and joy; and the blasts of the Northern wind of affliction blows away their hopes.

Now as Christ is the Foundation, so he is the Corner-stone of the building: It is Christ who hath removed that Partition-wall between Jews and Gen­tiles, even the Ceremonies of the one, and the A­theism of the other: He is our peace, who hath made of two one. The two sides of the House of God are united by this Corner-stone Jesus Christ. Thus we who were the Temples of Satan, are made the Tem­ples of God, thus poor stranger-Gentiles, who had no interest in the Covenant of Promises, come to share with Abraham, Isaac and Iacob, and to be founded upon the Doctrine of the Prophets, who taught the Jewish Church: Christ is the bond of Christians, this is the Head, into which all the members should grow up into a Body. Distance of Place, difference of Nations, distinction of Languages, all these cannot separate the Members of Jesus Christ, they are more one, though consisting of diverse Nations, Tongues, and Customes, and dispositions, than the people of one Nation, or Children of one Family: for one Lord; one Spirit, unites all: Alas, that all are not united in affection & judgement; why do the sides of this House contend, and wrestle one against another? when here is such a Corner-stone joyning them together? Are not there many Christians who cannot endure to look one upon another, who are yet both placed in one building of the Temple of God? Alace this is sad and shamefull! But that which I would especial­ly have observed in this, is that Jesus Christ is such a foundation that reacheth throughout the whole buil­ding, and immediatly toucheth every stone of the Building; it's such a Foundation as riseth from the bottom to the top; and therefore Jesus Christ is both the Author and finisher of our Faith, the be­ginning and the end; the first stone & the last [...] [Page 56] of our building must rise upon him, and by him; the least degree of grace, and the greatest perfection of it both are in him; and therefore Christians should be most dependent creatures; dependent in their first being, and in after well-being, in their being, and growing, wholly dependent upon Christ, that out of his fulnesse they may receive grace, and then more grace for grace, that all may appear to be grace indeed. Now I beseech you, my beloved in the Lord, to know whereupon ye are builded, or ought to be builded. There are two great errours in the time, take heed of them, one is the Doctrine of some, and another is the practice of the most part: Some do prefer their own fancies, and night-dreams, and the imaginations of their own heart to the Word of God, and upon pretence of Revelation, of new Light, do cast a mist upon that Word of God, which is a light that hath shined from the beginning. Be not deceived, but try the Spirits whether they be of God, or not. There are many pretend too much of the Spirit, and there­fore cry out against the Word, as Letter, as Flesh: But, my Brethren, believe not every Doctrine that calls it self a Spirit, that spirit is not of God that hears not Gods voice, as Christ reasons against the Jews, seek ye more of the Spirit of Christ which he promi­seth, who is a Spirit that teacheth all things, and bringeth to remembrance these blessed sayings, and leads us to all truth: It shal be both safest and swee­test to you to meditate on the word of the Prophets and Apostles, and the entrance into it shal give you light: an old light which was from the beginning, & therefore a true light (for all truth is eternall) and yet a new light to your sense and feeling: It's both an old command, and a new command; an old word, & a new word; if thou search by the Spirits inspiration, that old word shal be made new, that Letter made spirit and life: Such are the words that Christ speaks, [Page 57] But yet there are many who do not reject the Scrip­tures in judgement, who notwithstanding do not build on them in practice; Alas it may be said of the most part of professed Christians among us, that they are not builded upon the foundation of the Prophets & Apostles, but upon the sayings of fallible and weak men! What ground have many of you for your Faith but because the Minister saith so, You believe so? the most part live in an implicite faith, and practice that in themselves which they condemne in the Papists. You do not labour to search the Scriptures, that upon that foundation you may build your faith in the que­stioned truths of this Age, that so you may be able to answer to those that ask a reason of the Faith that is in you. Alas simple souls, you believe every thing and yet really believe nothing, because you believe not the Word as the Word of the living God, but take it from men upon their authority! Therefore when a temptation cometh, when any gainsayings of the truth you cannot stand against it, because your Faith hath no foundation but the sayings of Men, or Acts of Assemblies. And therefore as men whom you trust with holding out light unto you, hold out dark­nesse in stead of light, you embrace that darknesse also; But I beseech you, be builded upon the founda­tion of the Prophets and Apostles, not upon them but upon that whereon they were builded, the infalli­ble truths of God. You have the Scriptures, search them; since you have reasonable souls, search them: other mens faith will not save you, you cannot see to walk to heaven by other mens light, more than you can see by their eyes: You have eyes of your own, souls of your own, subordinate to none but the God of Spirits, and Lord of Consciences, Jesus Christ: & therefore examine all that is spoken to you from the Word, according to the Word, and receive no more upon trust from men, but as you find it upon triall to the truth of God.

1 Tim. [...]. 13. ‘Hold fast that form of sound Words, which thou hast heard of me in Faith, and Love. &c.

HEre is the sum of Religion, here you have a compend of the Doctrine of the Scriptures: All Divine Truths may be reduced to these two Heads. Faith, & Love, What we ought to believe, and what we ought to do: This is all the Scriptures teach and this is all we have to learn. What have we to know, but what God hath revealed of himself to us? And, what we have to do, but what he commands us? In a word, what have we to learn in this world, but to believe in Christ, & love him, and so live to him? This is the duty of man, & this is the dignity of man, and the way to eternall life: Therefore the Scriptures that are given to be a Lamp to our feet, and a Guide to our paths, contain an perfect and exact rule credendo­rum & faciendorum, of Faith and Manners, or Do­ctrine and Practice. We have in the Scriptures ma­ny truths revealed to us of God, and of the works of his hands; many precious truths, but that which most of all concerns us, is to know God & our selves, this is the special Excellency of the reasonable crea­ture, that its made capable to know its Creator, and to reflect upon its own being. Now, we have to know of our selves, What we are now, and what man once was; and accordingly, to know of God, what he once revealed of himself, and What he doth now reveal: I say, The Sc [...]iptures holds out to our consideration a twofold estate of Mankind, & according to these, a twofold revelation of the Mystery of God: We look on Man now, and we find him another thing than he was once; but we do not find God one thing at one time, and another thing at another time; for there is no shadow of change in him, and, He is the same yester­day, and to day, and for ever: Therefore we ask not What he was, and what he is now, but how he mani­fests [Page 59] himself differently, according to the different e­states of Man; as we find in the Scriptures, man once righteous & blessed, Eccles. 7. 29. and God making him such according to his own Image Col. 3. 10. Eph. 4. 25. in righteousnesse and true holinesse; we finde him in communion and friendship with God, set next to the Divine Majesty, and above the works of his hands, & all things under his feet: How holy was he? And how happy? And happy he could not chuse but be, since he was holy, being conformed, and like unto God in his will, and affection, chosing that same de­light, that same pleasure with God, in his understan­ding, knowing God and his will; and likewise, his own happinesse: in such a conformity, he could not but have much communion with him, that had such conformity to him, Union being the foundation of cōmunion & great peace & solid tranquility in him.

Now, in this state of mankind God expresses his goodnesse, and wisdom, and power, his holinesse and righteousnesse. These are the Attributes that shine most brightly. In the very morning of the Creation God revealed himself to man as a holy and just God, whose eyes could behold no iniquity; & therefore he made him upright, and made a Covenant of life and peace with him, to give him immortall & eternal life, to continue him in his happy estate, if so be he continued in well-doing. Rom. 10. 5. Do this and live. In which Covenant, indeed there was some out­breakings of the glorious grace & free condescenden­cy of God; for it was no lesse free grace, and undeser­ved favour, to promise life to his obedience, than now to promise life to our Faith; so that if the Lord had continued that Covenant with us, we ought to have called it grace, and would have been saved by grace as well as now; though it be true, that there is some more occasion given to mans nature to boast & glory in that way, yet not at all before God, Rom. 4. 2.

[Page 60] But we have scarcely found man in such an estate till we have found him sinfull & miserable, and fallen from his excellency. That Sun shined in the dawn­ing of the Creation, but before ye can well know what it is, its eclipsed, and darkned with sin and mise­ry; as if the Lord had only set up such a creature in the Firmament of Glory, to let him know how bles­sed he could make him, and wherein his blessednesse consists; and then presently to throw him down from his excellency; when ye find him mounting up to the Heavens, and spreading himself thus in holiness, and happinesse, like a Bay-tree: Behold again, and you find him not; though you seek him, you shal not find him, his place doth not know him: He is like one that comes out with a great Majesty upon a Stage and personates some Monarch, or Emperour, in the World, & then ere you can well gather your thoughts to know what he is, he is turn'd off the Stage, and ap­pears in some base & despicable appearance, so quick­ly is man stript of all these glorious ornaments of ho­linesse, and puts on the vile rags of sin and wretched­nesse, and is cast down from the Throne of eminency above the creatures, & frō fellowship with God, to be a slave and servant to the dust of his feet, and to have communion with the devill and his angels. And now ye have man holden out in Scripture as the onlie wretched Piece of the Creation, as the very plague of the World; The whole Creation groaning under him, Rom. 8. and in pain to be delivered of such a burthen, of such an Execration and Curse, and Astonishment: You find the testimony of the Word condemns him altogether, concludes him under sin, and then under a curse, and makes all flesh guilty in Gods sight. The Word speaks otherwise of us than we think of our selves, Their imagination is only evil continually. Gen. 6. 5. O then, What must our affections be, that are certainly more corrupt! What then must our way [Page 61] be? All flesh hath corrupted their way, and done abo­minable works, and none doth good. Psal. 14. 1, 2, 3. But many flee in unto their good hearts as their last re­fuge, when they are beaten from these out-works, of their actions and wayes but the Scripture shal storm that also; The heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it? Jer. [...]7. 9. It is desperatly wicked. In a word, Man is become the most lamentable spectacle in the world; acompend of all wickednesse, and mi­sery; inclosed within the walls of inability and im­possibility to help himself, shut up within the prison of despair, a stinking loathsome and irksome dungeon. It is like the mytie pit that Ieremiah was cast into, that there was no out-coming, and no pleasant abode in it.

Now, Mans estate being thus, nay, having made himself thus, and sought out to himself such sad inven­tions. Eccles. 7. 29. and having destroyed himself. Hos. 13. 9. What think ye? Should any pity him? If he had fallen in such a pit of miserie ignorantly, and un­willingly he had been an object of compassion; but having cast himself headlong into it, who should have pity on him? Or, who should go aside to ask how he doth, or bemoan him? Ier. 15. 5. But behold the Lord pities man as a Father doth his Children. Psal. 103. His compassions fail not; He comes by such a loath­some and contemptible object, and casts his skirts over it, and saith, Live. Ezek. 16. And maketh it a time of love. I say, no flesh could have expected any more of God, than to make man happy and holy, & to promise him life in well-doing: But to repair that happinesse after it's wilfully lost, and to give life to evil doers & sinners, O how far was it from Adams expectation when he fled from God? Here then is the wonder, that when men & Angels were in expectation of the revelation of his wrath from heavē against their wic­kednesse, & the execution of the curse man was con­cluded under, that even then God is pursuing man, & [Page 62] pursues him with love, and opens up to him his very heart and bowels of love in Jesus Christ? Behold then the second revelation & manifestation of God, in a way of grace, pure grace, of mercy & pity toward lost sinners. The kindnesse of God hath appeared, not by Works, but according to his abundant mercy shewed in Christ Iesus. Tit. 3. 4. 5. So then we have this purpose of Gods love unfolded to us in the Scriptures, and this is the substance of them, both Old and New Testa­ment, or the end of them, Rom. 10. 4. Christ is the end of the Law to all sinners concluded under sin, and a curse: by it our Lord Jesus, the good Ebedmelech, comes and casts down a cord to us, & draws us up out of the pit of sin and misery; he comes to this prison, and opens the doors to let captives free; so then we have holden out to us a Redeemer, as a repairer of our breaches; God in Christ reconciling the world. O Israel thou hast destroyed thy self, but in me is thy Help found. Hos. 13. 9. He finds to himself a ran­some to satisfie his justice Job 33. 24. He finds a pro­pitiation to take away sin, a sacrifice to pacifie and ap­pease his wrath; he finds one of our Brethren, but his own Son in whom he is well pleased. And then holds out all this to sinners that they may be satisfied in their own consciences, as he is in his own mind. God hath satisfied himself in Christ, you have not that to do: he is not now to be reconciled to us, for he was never really at odds, though he covered his countenance with frowns & threats, since the Fal, & hath appeared in fire, and hunders and whirlwind, which are terrible, yet his heart had alwayes love in it to such persons; and therefore he is come near in Christ, & about reconciling us to himself; Here is the business then, to have our souls reconciled to him, to take away the enmity within us, and as he is satis­fied with his Son, so to satisfie our selves with him, & be as wel pleased in his Redemption and purchase, as [...] [...]er is, and then you believe indeed in him.

[Page 63] Now if this were accomplished, what have wee more to do, but to love him, and to live to him? when you have found in the Scripture; and believed with the heart, what Man once was, and what he now is, what God once appeared, and what hee now mani­fests himself in the Gospel, ye have no more to do, but to search in the same Scriptures what ye hence­forth ought to be: Ye who find your estate recove­red in Christ, ask what manner of persons we ought to be? And the Scripture shal also give you that form of sound words which may not only teach you to be­lieve in him, but to love him, and obey his cōmands: The Law that before condemned you, is now by Christ put in your hands to guide you, and conduct you in the way, & teacheth you to live henceforth to his glory. The grace of God that hath appeared to all men. Tit. 2. 12. teacheth us, that denying ungodlinesse and worldlie lusts, we should live godly, and righte­ously and soberly in this present world. Here is the summe of the rule of your practise and conversation piety towards God, equity towards men, and sobrie­ty towards our selves, self-denyal and world-denyall, and lust-denyal, to give up with the world, and our own lusts, henceforth to have no more to do with them, to resign them, not for a time, not in part, but wholly and for ever in affection, and by parts in pra­ctice and endeavour, and then to resign and give up our selves to him, to live to him, and live in him.

Thus we have given you a summe of the Doctrine of the Scriptures, of that which is to be believed, and that which is to be done as our duty. Now we shall speak a word of these two Cardinall Graces, which are the compend of all Graces, as the objects of them are the Abridgement of the Scriptures: Faith & Love, these sound words can profite us nothing, unlesse wee hold them fast with Faith and Love.

Faith is like the Fountain-grace, streams come out [Page 64] of it, that cleanseth the Conscience from the guilt of sin, and purifieth the heart from the filth of sin, be­cause it is that which cometh to the Fountain opened up in the house of David, & draweth water out of these Wells of Salvation? If you consider the fall and ruine of Mankind; you will find infidelity & unbelief the fountain of it, as wel as the seal of it. Unbelief of the Law of God, of his promises and threatning. This was first called in Question, and when once called in Question, it is half denied. Hath God said so, that you shal die? Its not far off, you shall not surely die: Here then was the very beginning of mans ruine, he did not retain in his knowledge, and believe with his heart the truth and faithfulnesse; and holinesse of God, which unbelief was conjoyned, & interming­led with much pride, you shal be as Gods: he began to live out of God, in himself, not remembring that his life was a stream of that Divine Fountain, that being cut off from it would dry up. Now therefore our Lord Jesus Christ; an expert Saviour, and very learned, and compleat for this work, he brings man up out of this pit of misery, by that same way he fell into it, he fell down by unbelief, and he brings him up out of it by faith: This is the cord that is cast down to the poor Soul in the Dungeon, or rather his Faith is the dead grip of the cord of Divine Promises, which are sent unto the captive prisoners, and by vertue thereof he is drawn out, into the light of Salvatiō. Un­belief of the Law of God did first destroy man, now the belief of the Gospel saves him. The not believing of the Lords threatnings, was the beginning of his ruine, the believing of his precious promises is his Salvati­on. I say more, as our Destruction began at the Unbelief of the Law, so our salvation must begin at the belief of it. The Law and Divine Justice went out of his sight, and so he sinned; now the Law en­tring into the Conscience, discovers a mans sinnes, & [Page 65] makes sin abound, and that is the beginning of our remedy, to know our disease. But as long as this is hid from a Mans eyes, he is shut up in unbelief, he is sealed and confirmed in his miserable estate, and so kept from Jesus Christ the remedy. Thus unbelief, first and last destroyes: Faith might have preserved Adam, and Faith again might restore thee, who hath fallen in Adam.

There is a great mistake of Faith among us, some taking it for a strong and blind confidence; that ad­mits of no questions or doubtes in the soul; and so vainly perswading themselves that they have it; and some again conceiving it to be such an assurance of Salvation, as instantly comforts the soul, and looseth all objections, and so foolishly vexing their own souls & disquieting themselves in vain, for the want of that which if they understood what it is, they would find they have it. I say, many souls conceive that to be the best Faith, that never doubted, and hath alwaies lodged in them, and kept them in peace since they were born. But seeing all men were once aliens from the common wealth of Israel, and strangers to the co­venant of Promise, and without God in the World, & so without Christ also, it is certain that those souls who have alwaies blest themselves in their own hearts and cryed peace, peace, and were never afraid of the wrath to come, have imbraced an imagination and dream of their own hearts, for true Faith. It is not big and stout words that will prove it; men may defy the Devil and all his works, and speak very confi­dently, & yet, God knows they are captives by him, at his pleasure, and not farre from that misery which they think they have escaped. Satan works in them with such a crafty conveyance, that they cannot per­ceive it, and how should they perceive it? For we are by nature dead in sins, and so cannot feel nor know that we are such: It is a token of life to feel pain, a [Page 66] certain token, for dead things are senselesse. You know how Juglers may deceive your very senses, and make them believe they see that which is not, and feel that which they feel not: O how much more ea­sie is it for Satan such an ingenious and experimented spirit, assisted with the help of our deceitfull hearts, to cast such a mist over the eyes of hearts, and make them believe any thing? how easily may he hide our misery from us, and make us believe its well with us? And thus multitudes of souls perish, in the very opi­nion of Salvation: that very thing which they call Faith, that strong ungrounded perswasion, it's no o­ther thing than the unbelief of the heart, unbelief, I mean of the Holy Law, of Divine Justice, and the wrath to come; for if these once entered into the souls consideration, they would certainly cast down that strong hold of vain confidence, that Satan keeps all the House in peace by: Now this secure and pre­sumptuous despising of all threatnings, and all con­victions, it is vernished over to the poor soul, with the colour and appearance of Faith in the Gospell: They think, to believe in Christ, is nothing else but never to be afraid of Hell, whereas it is nothing else but a soul fleeing into Christ for fear of hell; & fleeing from the wrath to come to the city of Refuge.

Now again, there are some other souls quite con­trary minded, that run upon an other extremity: they once question, whether they have Faith; and al­wayes question it. You shal find them alwayes out of one doubt into another, and still returning upon these debates, whether am I in Christ or not? And often peremptorily concluding that they are not in him, & that they believe not in him: I must confess that a soul must once question the matter, or they shal never be certain; nay, a soul must once conclude that it is void of God, and without Christ, but ha­ving discovered that, I see no more use and fruit of [Page 67] your frequent debates and janglings about interest: would say then unto such souls, that if you now que­stion it, it is indeed the very time to put it out of question. And how? Not by framing or seeking an­swers to your objections, not by searching into thy self to find something to prove it, not by meer dispu­ting about it, for when shal these have an end? But simply and plainly by setting about that which is que­stioned. Are you in doubt, if you be Believers? How shal it be resolved than? but by believing in­deed. It is now the very time thou art called to make application of thy soul to Christ, if thou thinkest that thou cannot make application of Christ to thy soul: If thou cannot know if he be thine, then how shal thou know it, but by choosing him for thine, and em­bracing him in thy soul? Now, I say, if that time which is spent about such unprofitable debates, were spent in solid and serious endeavours about the thing in debate; it would quickly be out of debate; if you were more in the obedience to those commands, then in the dispute, whether you have obeyed or not, you would sooner come to satisfaction in it. This I say the rather: because the weightier and principall parts of the Gospel are those direct acts of Faith, and Love to Jesus Christ: both these are the outgoings of the soul to him: Now again, examination of our Faith and Assurance are but secondary and consequent reflecti­ons upon our selves, & are the soul-returning in again to it self, to find what is within. Therefore, I say; a Christian is principally called to the first, and alwayes called: it is the chief duty of man, which for no evi­dence, no doubting, no questioning should be left un­done: If you be in any hesitation whether you are Believers or not: I am sure the chiefest things & most concerning, is rather to believe then to know it: it is a Christians being to believe: it is indeed his com­fort and wel-being to know it, but if you do not know [Page 68] it then by all means so much the more set about it presently, let the soul consider Christ and the preci­ous promises, and lay its weight upon him: This you ought to do, and not to leave the other undone.

2. Secondly, I say to such souls, that it is the mi­stake of the very nature of Faith that leads them to such perplexities, and causeth some inevidence: It is not so much the inevidence of marks, and fruits that makes them doubt, as the misapprehension of the thing it self; for as long as they mistake it in its own nature, no sign, no mark can satisfie in it. You take Faith to be a perswasion of Gods love, that calms and quiets the mind. Now, such a perswasion needs no sign to know it by, it is manifest by its own presence, as light by its own brightnesse. It were a foolish que­stion to ask any, How they knew that they were per­swaded of anothers affection? The very perswasion it self maketh it self more certain to the soul then any token. So then while you question whether you have Faith or not, and in the mean time take Faith to be nothing else but such a perswasion, it is in vain to bring any marks or signs to convince you that you have Faith, for if such a perswasion & assurance were in you; it would be more powerfull to assure your hearts of it self than any thing else; and while you are doubting of it, it is more manifest that you have it not, than any signs or marks can be able to make it appear that you have it. If any would labour to con­vince a blind man; that he saw the light, and give him signs & tokēs of the lights shining, the blind man could not believe him; for it is more certain to himself that he sees not, than any evidence can make the contrary probable: You are still wishing and seeking such a Faith as puts all out of question. Now, when Ministers bring any marks to prove you have true Faith, it cannot satisfie or settle you, because your ve­ry questioning proves, that ye have not that which [Page 69] ye question; if you had such a perswasion, you would not question it. So then, as long as you are in that mistake concerning the nature of Faith, all the signs of the word cannot settle you.

But, I say, if once you understood the true nature of Faith, it would be more clear in it self unto you, than readily marks and signs could make it, especially in the time of temptation: If you would know then, what it is indeed: Consider what the Word of God holds out concerning himself, or us, & the solid belief of that in the heart hath something in the nature of saving Faith in it. The Lord gives a testimony con­cerning Man, That he is born in sin, that he is dead in sin, and all his imaginations are only evil continually. Now, I say, to receive this truth into the soul upon Gods Testimony in a point of Faith: the Lord in his Word concludes all under sin and wrath; [...]o then, for a soul to conclude it self also under sin and wrath, is a point of Faith: Faith is the souls testimony to Gods truth, the Word is Gods Testimony: Now then, if a soul receive this testimony within, whether it be Law or Gospel, it's an act of Faith; if a soul con­demn it self, & judge it self, that is a setting to our seal that God is true, who speaks in his Law, & so its a be­lieving in God. I say more, To believe with the heart, that we cannot believe, is a great point of found belief, because it's a sealing of that Word of God. The heart is desperatly wicked, and of our selves we can do nothing. Now, I am perswaded, if such souls knew this, they would put an end to their many contenti­ons and wranglings about this point, and would rather blesse God that hath opened their eyes to see them­selves, then contend with him for that they have no Faith: It is light only that discovers darknesse, and Faith only that descerns unbelief: Its life and health only, that feels pain & sicknesse, for if all were alike, nothing could be found, as in dead bodies: Now, I [Page 70] say to such souls as believe in God the Law-giver, be­lieve also in Christ the Redeemer: and what is that? It is not to know that I have Interest in him: No, that must come after; it is the Spirits sealing after believing which puts it self out of question, when it comes: and so if you had it, you needed not many signs to know it by, at least you would not doubt of it, more than he that sees the light can question it. But I say, to believe in Christ is simply this: I, whatsoe­ver I be: ungodly, wretched, polluted, desperate, am willing to have Jesus Christ for my Saviour, I have no other help, or hope, if it be not in him, it is, I say, to lean the weight of thy soul on this foundation stone laid in Zion, to embrace the promises of the Gospel al­beit generall, as worthy of all acceptation, & wait upon the performance of them. It is no other thing, but to make Christ welcome, to say, even so, Lord Jesus, I am content in my soul that thou be my Saviour, to be found in thee, not having my own righteousnesse, I am well pleased to cast away my own as dung, & find my self on other not an ungodly man. Now it is certain that [...]any souls that are still questioning whether they have Faith, yet do find this in their souls, but because they know not that it is Faith which they find, they go about to seek that which is not Faith, and where it is not to be found, and so disquiet themselves in vain, and hinder fruitfulnesse.

Now, the Faith of a Christian is no fancy, it's no light vain imagination of the brain, but it dwells in the heart (with the heart man believes) and it dwels with love. Faith and love we need not be curious to distinguish them: it is certain that love is in it, & from it, its in the very bosome of it, because faith is a soul embracing of Christ, it's a choosing of him for its por­tion: and then upon the review of this goodly porti­on, and from consideration what he is, and hath done for us, the soul loves him still more, & is impatient of [Page 71] so much distance from him. We find them conjoyn­ed in Scripture, but they are one in the heart: O that we studied to have these joyntly engraven on the heart; as they are joyned in the word, so our heart should be a living Epistle: Faith and Love are two words, but one thing under different notions: they are the out-goings of the soul to Christ for life, the breathings of the soul after him, for more of him, when it hath once tasted how good he is: Faith is not a speculation, or a wandring thought of Truth, it's the truth not captivated into the mind, but dwelling in the heart, & getting possession of the whole man: you know, a man and his will are one, not so a man and his mind, for he may conceive the truth of many things he loves not, but what ever a man loves, that and he, in a manner, becomes one with another: Love is u­nitive, it's the most excellent union of distant things. The will commands the whole man, and hath the of­fice of applying of all the faculties of their proper works, Illa imperat, aliae exsequuntur, therefore when once Divine truth gets entry into the heart of a man, and becomes one with his will, and affection, it will quickly command the whole man to practise and exe­cute, and then he that receiveth the truth in Love, is found a walker in the truth: Many persons captivate truth in their understandings, as the Gentiles did, they held, or detained it in unrighteousnesse: but because it hath no liberty to descend into the heart, & possesse that Garrison, it cannot command the man. But O it's better to be truths captive, then to captive truth, saith the Apostle, ye obeyed from the heart the truth to which ye were delivered, Rom. 6. O a blessed capti­vity, to be delivered over to truth; that is indeed free­dome, for truth makes free, Ioh. 8. And it makes free where it is in freedome, give it freedome to com­mand thee, and it shal indeed deliver thee from all strange Lords, and thou shalt obey it from the heart, [Page 72] when it is indeed in the heart. When the truth of God, whether promises, or threatnings, or commands are impressed into the heart, you shal find the expres­sions of them in the conversation: Faith is not an em­pty assent to the truth, but a receiving of it in love, & when the truth is received in love, then it begins to work by love, Faith works by love, saith Paul, Gal. 5. 6. That now is the proper nature of its operation, which expresses its own nature: Obedience proceed­ing from love to God, flowes from Faith in God, and that shews the true and living nature of that Faith: If the soul within receive the seal and impression of the truth of God, it will render the image of that same truth in all its actions.

Love is put for all obedience, its made the very summe and compend of the Law, and fulfilling of it: for the truth is, its the most effectual and constraining principle of obedience, and withall the most sweet & pleasant: The love of Christ constrains us, to live to him, & not henceforth to our selves, 2 Cor. 5. 15. As I said, a man and his will is one: if you ingage it, you bind all; if you gain it, it will bring all with it. As it is the most ready way to gain any party, to engage their head whom they follow, and upon whom they depend; let a mans love be once gained to Christ, & the whole train of the souls faculty, of the outward senses and operations, will follow upon it: It was an excellent, and pertinent question, that Christ asked Peter, when he was going away (if Peter had consi­dered Christs purpose in it, he would not have been so hasty and displeased) Peter lovest thou me, then feed my sheep? If a man love Christ he will certainly stu­dy to please him, and though he should do never so much in obedience, its no pleasure except it be done out of love: O this, and more of this in the heart, would make Ministers feed well, and teach well, and would make people obey well? If ye love me, keep my [Page 73] commands; Love devouts and consecrats all that is in a man, to the pleasure of him whom he loves; there­fore it fashions and conforms one even against na­ture to anothers humor and affection: it constrains not to live to our selves, but to him, its joy & delight is in him, and therefore all is given up & resigned to him: Now as it is certain that if you love much you will do much, so it is certain that little is accepted for much, that proceeds from love, & therefore our poor maimed and halting obedience, is called the fulfilling of the law; he is well pleased with it, because love is ill pleased withit: love thinks nothing too much, all too little, and therefore his love thinks any thing frō us much, since love would give more; he accepts that which is given the lovers mite cast into the Treasure, is more then ten times so much outward obedience from another man; He meets love with love, if the souls desire be towards the love of his name, if love offer thogh a farthing, his love receiving it, counts it a Crown, love offering a present of duty finds many im­perfections in it, and covers any good that is in it, seems not to regard it, and then beholds it as a recom­pence; his love receiving the present from us, covers a multitude of infirmities that are in it. And thus what in the desire and endeavour of love on our part, and what in the acceptation of what is done on his part, love is the fulfilling of the Law. Its an usuall proverb, all things are as they are taken, Love is the [...]ulfilling of the Law, because our loving Father takes [...]t so, he takes as much delight in the poor childrens willingnesse, as in the more aged's strength: the offer [...]nd endeavour of the one pleaseth him, as well as the [...]erformance of the other.

The love of God is the fulfilling of the Law, for it [...] a living Law, it is the Law written on the heart, it is [...]e Law of a spirit of life within, Quis legem detamen, [...]bus? major lexamor sibi ipsi est. You almost need [Page 74] not prescribe any rules, or let over the head of love the authority and pain of a command, for it is a greater Law to it self, it hath within its own bosome as deep an engagement and obligation to any thing that may please God, as you can put upon it; for it is in it self the very engagement and bond of the soul to him. This it is indeed which will do him service, and that is the service which he likes: it is that only serves him constantly and pleasantly, and constantly it can­not serve him, which doth it not pleasantly, for it is delight only that makes it constant. Violent moti­ons may be swift, but not durable, they last not long: fear and terrour is a kind of externall impulse, that may drive a soul swiftly to some duty; but because that is not one with the soul, it cannot endure long, its not good company to the soul. But Love making a duty pleasant, becomes one with the soul, it incorporates with it, and becomes like its nature to it, that though it should not move so swiftly, yet it moves more con­stantly. And what is love but the very motion of the soul to God! and so till it have attained that; to be in him, it can find no place of rest. Now this is only the service that he is pleased with, which comes from love, because he sees his own image in it; for love in us, its nothing else but the impression and stamp that Gods love to us, makes on the heart; it's the very re­flection of that sweet warm beam, so then when his love reflects back unto himself, carrying our heart and duty with it, he knoweth his own superscription, he loves his own Image in such a duty: He that loveth me, and continueth in my love, I will love him, and I and my Father will come and make our abode with him, Ioh. 14. 23. Here now is an evidence that he likes it, for he must needs like that place he chooses to dwell in; he who hath such a glorious Mansion, and Palace a­bove he must needs love that soul dearly, that he will prefer it to his high and holy place.

[Page 75] Now, I know it will be the secret question and complaint of some souls. How shal I get love to God? I cannot love him, my heart is so desperatly wicked, I cannot say as Peter, Lord thou knowest that I love thee. I shal not insist upon the discovery of your love unto you by marks and signs, only I say, if thou indeed from thy heart desires to love him, & art grieved that there is not this love in thy soul to him, which be­comes so love-worthy a Saviour, then thou indeed lovest him, for he that loveth the love of God, loveth God himself: And wherefore a [...]t thou sad for want of that love, but because thou lovest him in some mea­sure, and withall finds him beyond all that thou canst think and love: But I say, that which most concerns thee, is to love still more, and that thou wouldest be more earnest to love him, then to know that thou loves him.

Now I know no more effectuall way to encrease love to Jesus Christ, then to believe his love. Christ Jesus is the Author and Finisher, both of Faith and Love, and we love him, because he first loved us. Therefore the right discovery of Jesus Christ, what he is, and what he hath done for sinners, is that which will of all things most prevail, to engage the soul unto him: But as long as ye suspend you Faith upon the being, or encrease of your Love, and obedience (as the manner of too many is:) you take even such a course as he, that will not plant the Tree till he see the fruit of it; which is contrary to common sense & reason.

Since this then is the sum of true Religion, to be­lieve in Christ, and to love him, and so live to him; we shal wind up all that is spoken, into that exhorta­tion of the Apostles, Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard. You have this Doctrine of Faith and Love delivered unto you, which may be a­ble to save your souls: Then I beseech you, hold them [Page 76] fast, salvation is in them, they are sound words, and wholesom words; words of life, spirit & life (as Christ speaks) as well as words of truth: But how will you hold them fast that have them not at all, that know them not though you hear them? You who are ignorant of the Gospel, and hear nothing but a sound of words in stead of sound & wholesome words, how can you hold them fast? Can a man hold the wind in the hollow of his hand, or keep in a sound within it? You know no more but a sound; & a wind that pas­seth by your ear, without observing either truth or life in it. But then again, you who understand these sound words, and have a form of knowledge, & of the Letter of the Law, what will that avail you? You can­not hold it fast except you have it within you, and it is within you indeed when it is in your heart, when the form of it is engraven upon the very soul in love. Now thogh you understand the sound of these words & the sound of truth in them, yet you receive not the living Image of them, which is Faith and Love. Can you paint a sound! Can you form it, or engrave it on any thing? Nay, but these sound words are more sub­stantial & solid, they must be engraven on the heart else you will never hold them; they may bee easily plucked out of the mouth and hand, by temptation, unlesse they be enclosed, and laid up in the secret of the heart; as Mary laid them. The truth must hold thee fast, or thou canst not hold it fast, it must capti­vate thee, and bind thee with the Golden chains of affection, which only is true freedom, or certainly thou wilt let it go. Nay, you must not only have the truth received by love into your heart, but as the A­postle speaks, you must also hold fast the form of sound words. Scripture-words are sound words; the Scrip­tures method of teaching is sound and wholesome: There may be unsound words used in expressing true matter; and if a man shal give liberty to his own [Page 77] luxuriant Imagination, to expatiat in notions, and ex­pressions, either to catch the ear of the Vulgar, or to appear some new discoverer of light, and Gospel-my­steries, he may as readily fall into error and darknesse, as into truth and light. Some men do busk up old truths, Scripture-truths, into some new dresse of lan­guage, and notions, and then give them out for new discoveries, new lights; but in so doing, they often ha­zard the loosing of the truth it self. We should beware and take heed of strange words, that have the least ap­pearance of evil, such as Christed; & Godded; let us think it enough to be wise according to the Scripturs, and suspect all that, as vain, empty, unsound, that tends not to the increase of faith in Christ, and love and obedience unto him. As ordinarily the Dialect of those, called Antinomians, is giving, and no gran­ting, that they had no unsound mind, yet I am sure they use unsound word to expresse sound matter: the cloaths should be shaped to the person: Truth is plain and simple, let words of truth also be full of sim­plicity. I say no more, but leave that upon you, that you hold fast even the very words of the Scriptures, and be not bewitched by the vain pretentions of Spirit all Spirit pure and spiritual service, and such like, to the casting off of the word of truth, as Letter, as Flesh, and such is the high attainment of some in these daies an high attainment indeed, and a mighty progresse in the way to destruction, the very last discovery of that Antichrist and Man of sin. Oh, make much of the Scripture, for you shal neither read nor hear the like of it in the world: Other books may have sound mat­ter, but there is still something in manner, or words unsound, no man can speak to you truth in such plain­nesse, and simplicity in such soundnesse also. But here is both sound matter, and sound words, the truth hol­den out truly, health and salvation holden out in as wholsome a manner as is possible. Matter & manner are both divine.

Exod. 3. 13, 14. ‘When they shal say unto me, What is his Name? What shal I say? And God said, I AM THAT I AM.’

WE are now about this question, What God is? But, who can answer it? Or if an­swered, who can understand it? It should astonish us in the very entry, to think that we are about to speak and to hear of his Majesty, Whom eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of any crea­ture to consider what he is. Think ye, blind men could have a pertinent discourse of light and colours? would they form any sutable notion of that they had never seen, and cannot be known but by seeing? What an ignorant speech would a deaf man make of Sound, which a man cannot so much as know what it is, but by hearing of it? How then can me speak of God, who dwels in such accessible light; that, though we had our eyes opened, yet they are far lesse proportioned to that resplendent brightnesse, than a blind eye is to the Suns light.

It uses to be a question, If there be a God? or, how it may be known that there is a God? It were almost blasphemy to move such a question, if there were not so much Atheism in the hearts of men, which makes us either to doubt, or not firmly to believe, & seriously to consider it. But what may convince souls of the Di­vine Majesty? Truly, I think, if it be not evident by its own brightnesse, all the reason that can be brought, is but like a candles light to see the Sun by. Yet, be­cause of our weaknesse, the Lord shines upon us in the Creatures, as in a Glass; and this is become the best way to take up the glorious brightness of his Ma­jesty, by reflection in his Word and Works. God himself dwels in light inaccessible, that no man can approach unto; if any look straight to that Sunne of Righteousnesse, he shal be astonished, & amazed, and see no more than in the very darknesse: But the best [Page 79] way to behold the Sun, is to look upon it in a pail of Water; and the surest way to know God by, is to take him up in a state of humiliation and condescenti­on, as the Sun in the Rainbow, in his Word and Works, which are the Mirrours of his Divine Power and goodnesse, and do reflect upon the hearts and eyes of all men the beams of that increated light: If this be not the speech, that day uttereth unto day, and night unto night, One self-being gave me a being; and if thou hear not that language that is gone out into all the earth, and be not, as it were, noised and possessed with all the sounds of every thing about thee, above thee, beneath thee; yea, and within thee, all singing a melodious song to that excellent Name which is a­bove all names; and conspiring to give testimony to the fountain of their being: If this, I say, be not so sensible unto thee, as if a tongue and voice were gi­ven to every creature to expresse it, then, indeed, we need not reason the businesse with the who hath lost thy senses; do but, I say, retire inwardly, and ask in sobriety and sadnesse, what thy conscience thinks of it? And undoubtedly, it shal confesse a Divine Majesty, at least, tremble at the apprehension of what it either will not confesse, or slanderly believes: The very evidence of truth shal extort an acknowledgement from it. If any man denied the Divine Majesty, I would seek no other argument to perswade him, than what was used to convince an old Philosopher, who denied the fire, they put his hand in it till he found it; so I say, return within to thine own conscience & thou shalt find the scorching heat of that Divine Ma­jesty burning it up, whom thou wouldest not confesse. There is an inward feeling and sense of God that is imprinted in every soul by nature, that leaves no man without such a testimony of God that makes him with out excuse: There is no man so impious, so atheisti­all, but whether he will or not, he shal feel at some [Page 80] times that which he loves not to know or consider of; so that what rest secure consciences have from the fear and terrour of God, it is like the sleep of a drunken man, who even when he sleeps doth not rest quietly.

Now, although this inward stamp of a Deity be en­graven on the minds of all, and every creature with­out have some marks of his glory stamped on them; so that all things a man can behold above him, or about him, or beneath him, the most mean and inconside­rable creatures are pearles and transparent stones that casts abroad the rayes of that glorious brightnesse which shines on them; as if a man were inclosed into a City builded all of precious stones, that in the Sun­shine all and every parcell of it, the streets, the houses, the roofs, the windows, all of it, reflected into his eyes those Sun beams in such a manner, as if all had been one mirrour; though, I say, this be so, yet such is the blockishnesse and stupidity of men, that they do not, for all this, consider the glorious Creator; so that all these Lamps seem to be lighted in vain, to shew forth his glory, which though they do every way dis­play their beams upon us; that we can turn our eye no where, but such a ray shal penetrate it, yet we either do not consider it, or the consideration of it takes not such deep root as to lead home to God; therefore the Scriptures calls all naturall men Atheists, They have said in their heart, There is no God, Psal. 14 1. All men almost confesse a God with their mouth, and think they believe in him; but alas! Behold their actions, and hearts, what testimony they give, for a mans walking and conversation is like an eye-witness, that one of them deserves more credite than ten ear-witnesses of profession. Plus valet oculatus testis unus, quàm auriti decem. Now, I may ask of you, What would ye do? How would ye walk, if ye believed there were no God? Would ye be more dissolute & prophane, and more void of Religion? Would not [Page 81] Humane Laws bind you as much in that case as they now do? For that is almost the restraint that is u­pon many, the fear of temporal punishment, or shame among men; [...]et your walking beside a heathens con­versation, and save that you say ye believe in the true God, and he denies him, there is no difference: Your transgressions speaks louder than your professions, that there is no fear of God before your eyes. Psal. 36. 1. Your practise belies your professiō, you profess that you know God but in works you deny him, saith Paul. Tit. 1. 16. Ore quod dicitis, opere negatis. In these words read in your audience, you have a strange question, and a strange answer; a question of Moses, and an answer of God: The occasion of it was the Lords giving to Mo­ses a strange and uncouth Message, he was giving him commission to go and speak to a King to dismisse and let go 600000 of his Subjects, and to speak to a nu­merous nation, to depart from their own dwellings, & come out whither the Lord should lead them: Might not Moses then say within himself, who am I, to speak such a thing to a King? Who am I, to lead out such a mighty People? Who will believe that thou hast sent me? Will not all men call me a deceiver, an En­thysiastical Fellow that takes upon me such a thing? Well then saith Moses to the Lord; Look, when I shal say, that the God of their Father sent me unto them, they will not believe me; they have now for­gotten thy Majesty, and thinkest that Thou art even like the Vanities of the Nations; they cannot know their own portion from other Nations vain-I­dols, which they have given the same Name unto, & call God as well as thou art called: Now therefore sayes he, when they ask me what thy proper Name is by which thou art distinguished from all Idols, & all the works of thine own hands, & of mens hands, what shall I say unto them? Here is the Question. But why asks thou my Name, saith the Lord to Jacob [Page 82] Gen. 32 29. Importing, that it is a high presumptiō, & bold curiosity, to search such a wonder? Ask not my Name, saith the Angel to Manoah, for it is secret or wonderful Iudg 13. 18. Its a mystery, a dark hidden mystery, not for want of light, but for too much light; its a secret, its wonderful; out of the reach of all created capacity Thou shalt call his Name wonderfull. Isai. 6. 9. What name can expresse that in comprehensible Majesty? The mind is more comprehensive than words, but the mind & soul is too narrow to conceive him, O then! How short a garment must all words, the most significant & comprehensive and superlative words be? Solomons soul and heart was inlarged as the sand of the sea, but O! its not large enough for the Creator of it. What is his Name, or, What is his Sons Name, if thou canst tell? Prov. 30. 4. The Lord himself cannot expresse it to our capacity, because we are not capable of what he can expresse, much lesse of what he is, if he should speak to us of himself as he is, O! it should be dark sayings, hid from the under­standings of all living; we could reach no more of it, but that it is a wonder, a secret. Here is the highest attainment of our knowledge, to know there is some mystery in it, but not, What that mystery is: Christ hath a Name above all names; How then can wee know that Name? It was well said by some of old, Deus est [...], and yet [...] multorum nominum & tamen nullius nominis & tamen nihil om­nium, because he is all in all, & yet none of all; Deus est quod vides, & quod non vides; you may call him by all the works of his hands, for these are beams of his increated light, and streams of his inexhaustible sea of goodnesse; so that what ever perfection is in them, all that is eminently, yea infinitely in him; There­fore, saith Christ, There is one God, even God; and he calls himself the light, and life, and therefore you have so many names of God in Scripture; there is no qua­lity, [Page 83] no property or vertue, that hath the least shadow of goodnesse, but he is that essentially, really, eternally & principally; So that the creature deserves not such names, but as they participat of his fulnes; he is the true light, the true life: the Sun is not that true light, thogh it gives light to the Moon, & to men, for it borrows its light and shinin from him g; all creatures are, and shine but by reflexion; Therefore these names do agree to them but by a Metaphor, (so to speak) the propriety and truth of them is in him. As it is but a borrowed kind of speech, to call a Picture or Image, a man, only because of the representation & likenesse to him, it communicates in one name with him, Even so) in some manner) the creatures are but some sha­dows, pictures or remblances and equivocal shapes of God; and whatever name they have, of good, wise, strong, beautifull, true or such like, its but a barrowed speech from God, whose Image they have, & yet poor vain man would be wise, thought wise really, intrinse­cally in himself, & properly, & calls himself so, which is as great abuse of language, as if the Picture should call it self a true and living man. But then, as you may cal him al things because he is eminently & glo­riously all that is in all, the fountain and end of all, yet we must again deny that he is any of these things, unus omnia & nihil omnium: we can find no name to him; for what can we call him, when you have said, He is light; you can form no other notion of him but from the resemblance of this created light; but alas! that he is not, he so infinitely transcends that, and is distant from it, as if he had never made it according to his likenesse; His Name is above all these names: but what it is himself knows, and knows only: If ye ask what he is, we may glance at some notions & expres­sions, to hold him out: In relation to the creatures, we may call him Creator, Redeemer, light, life, omni­potent, good, mercifull, just and such like: But if you [Page 84] ask what is his proper Name in relation to himself, ipse novit, Himself knows that, we must be silent, & silence in such a subject is the rarest Eloquence.

But let us hear what the Lord himself speaketh, in an­swer to this Question, if any can tell, sure he himself knowes his own Name best; I am (saith he) what I am, sum qui sum, go tell them that I am hath sent thee A strange answer, but an Answer only pertinent for such a Question; VVhat should Moses make of this? VVhat is he the wiser of his asking? Indeed he might be the wiser, it might teach him more by silence, then all Humane Eloquence could instruct him by speak­ing: His Question was curious, & behold an answer short and dark, to confound vain and presumptuous mortality. I am what I am, an answer that does not satisfie curiosity, for it leaves room for the first Que­stion, and what art thou? But aboundant to silence saith and sobriety, that it shal ask no more, but sit down and wonder.

There are three things I conceive imported in this Name, Gods unsearchablenesse, Gods unchangeablenes, and Gods absolutenesse. His ineffability, his eternity, & his soveraignty and independent substance, upon whom all other things depend.

I say, 1. His unsearchablenesse: you know it is our manner of speech when we would cover any thing from any, & not answer any thing distinctly to them, we say, it is what it is. I have said what I have said, I will not make you wise of it. Here then is the fit­test notion you can take up God into, to find him un­searchable beyond all understanding, beyond all speak­ing; the more ye speak or think, to find him alwaies beyond what ye speak or think; whatever you disco­ver of him, to conceive that Infitness is beyond that ad finem cujus pertransiri non potest, the end of which you cannot reach, that he is an unmeasureable depth, a boundlesse Ocean of perfection, that you can neither [Page 85] found the bottom of it, nor find the breadth of it? Can a child wade the Sea, or take it up in the hollow of its hand? when ever any thing of God is seen, he is seen a wonder, Wonderful is the Name he is known by: All our knowledge reacheth no farther than ad­miration, who is like unto thee? Exod. 15. 11. Psal. 89. 6, 7. and admiration speaks ignorance. The greatest attainment of knowledge reacheth but such a questi­on as this, Who is like unto thee? To know only that he is not like any other thing that we know, but not to know what he is: And the different degrees of know­ledge is but in more admiration or lesse, at his uncon­ceivablenesse, & in more or lesse affection expressed in such pathetick interogations, O who is like theLord? How excellent is his Name? Here is the greatest degree of Saints knowledge here-away, to ask with admiration and affection such a question, that no an­swer can be given to, or none that we can conceive or understand, so as to satisfie wondring, but such as still more increaseth it. There is no other subject, but you may exceed it in apprehensions, and in expressi­ons: O how often are mens songs, & thoughts, and discourses above the matter? But here is a subject that there is no excesse into, nay, there is no accesse un­to it, let be excesse in it; imagination that can tran­scend the created Heavens and Earth, & fancy to it self millions of new worlds, every one exceeding ano­ther, & all of them exceeding this in perfection, yet it can do nothing here; that which at one instant can passe from the one end of Heaven to the other, walk about the circumference of the Heavens, & travel o­ver the breadth of the Sea, yet it can do nothing here. Canst thou by searching find out God? Iob 11. imagi­nations cannot travel in these bounds, for his Center is every where, and his Circumference no where, as an old Philosopher speaks of God Deus est, cujus Centrum est ubique, Circumferentia nusquam, how shall it then [Page 86] find him out? There is nothing sure here but to lose our selves in a mystery, and to follow his Majesty till we be swallowed up with an Oh altitudo! O the depth and heigth, and length and breadth of God! O the deepth of his wisdome! O the heigth of his power! O the breadth of his love! And O the length of E­ternity! Its not reason and disputation, saith Ber­nard will comprehend these, but holinesse; and that by stretching out the arms of fear and love, reverence and affection. What more dreadfull, than power that cannot be resisted, and wisdome that none can be hid from, and what more lovely than the love wherewith he hath so loved us, & his unchangeable­nesse which admits of no suspition? [...] fear him who hath a hand that doth all, and an eye that beholds all things & love him who hath so loved us, and cannot change. God hath been the subject of the discourses and debates of men in all ages, but Oh, Quam long e est in rebus qui est tam Communis in vocibus? How little a portion hath men understood of him? How hath he been hid from the eyes of all living. Every age must give this testimony of him, we have heard of his fame, but he is hid from the eyes of all living. I think that Philosopher that took it to his advisement, said more insilence than all men have done in speaking. Simonides being asked by Hiero a King, what God was? sought a day to deliberate in and think upon it, when the King sought an account of his meditation about it: he desired yet two dayes more: and so as oft as the King asked him, he still doubled the number of the dayes in which he might advise upon it. The King wondring at this, asked what the matter by those delayes: saith he; Quanto magis considero, tanto ma­gis obscurior mihi videtur; he more I think on him he is the more dark and unknown to me: This was more real knowledge then the many subtil disputations of those men, who by their poor shell of finite capacity, [Page 87] & reason, presume to empty the ocean of Gods infi­nitenesse, by finding out answers to all the objections of carnal reason, against all those mysteries & riddles of the Deity; I professe, I know nothing can satisfie reason in this businesse, but to lead it captive to the o­bedience of Faith, and to silence it with the faith of a mystery which we know not. Pauls answer is one for all, & better then all the Syllogisms of such men, what art thou, O man who disputest? Dispute thou, I will believe. Ut intelligatur tacendum est, silence only can get some account of God, quiet and humble ig­norance in the admiration of such a Majesty, is the profoundest knowledge. Non est mirum si ignoretur, majoris esset admirationis si sciatur. It is no wonder that God is not known, all the wonder were to know & comprehend such a wonder, such a mystery; it is a wonder indeed that he is not more known; but when I say so, I mean that he is not more wondred at because he is passing knowledge. If our eyes of flesh cannot see any thing almost when they look straight & stedfast­ly upon the Sun, O what can the eye of the soul be­hold when it is fixed upon the consideration of that shining and glorious Majesty, will not that very light be as darknesse to it, that it shal be as it were darkned; & dazled with a thick mist of light, in superlucente ca­ligne, confounded with that resplendent darknesse. It is said that the Lord covers himself with light as with a garment, & yet clouds and darknesse are about him and he makes darknesse his covering. Psalm 18. 9. 10, 12. His inaccessible light is this glorious darknesse, that strikes the eyes of men blind; as in the darknesse, the Suns light is the night owles night & darknesse, when a soul can find no better way to know him by, then by these Names and notions by which wee deny our own knowledge, when it hath conceived all of him it can, then, as being overcome with that dazling brightnesse of his Glorie, to think him [Page 88] inconceivable, & to express him in such terms as with all expresses our ignorance. There is no name agrees more to God, thē that which saith, we cānot name him we cannot know him, such as invisible, incomprehensi­ble, infinite &c. This Socrates an heathen profest to be all his knowledge, that he knew he did know no­thing, and therefore he preached an unknown God to the Athenians, to whom after they erected an Altar with that inscription; To the unknown God. I con­fesse indeed, the most part of our discourses, of our performances have such a writting on them, To th [...] un­known God, because we think we know him, and so we know nothing; But O that Christians had so much knowledge of God, so much true wisdom, as solidly, and willingly to confesse in our souls our own igno­rance of him, & then I would desire no other know­ledge, and growing in the grace of God, but to grow more and more in the believing ignorance of such a Mystery, in the knowledge of an unknown, uncon­ceiveable, & unsearchable God, that in all the de­grees of knowledge we might still conceive wee had found lesse, & that there is more to be found then be­fore we apprehended. This is the most perfect know­ledge of God, that doth not drive away darknesse, but increase it in the souls apprehension, any encrease in it doth not declare what God is, or satisfie ones ad­miration in it, but rather shews him to be more invi­sible & insearchable; so that the darknesse of a soul's ignorance is more manifested by this light, and not more covered & ones own knowledge is rather dark­ned, & disappears in the glorious appearance of this light, for in all new discoveries there is no other thing appears, but that this which the soul is seeking is su­pereminently unknown, and still further from know­ledge than ever it conceived it to be: Therefore what ever you conceive or see of God; if ye think ye know what ye conceive & see, its not God ye see, but some­thing [Page 89] of Gods, lesse than God; for it's [...]aid, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entred into the heart of man to consider what he hath laid up for them that love him: Now certainly, that's himself he hath laid up for them; therefore whatever thou conceive of him, & thinks now thou knows him, this is not He; for he hath not entered into mans heart to conceive him: Therefore this must be thy souls exercise & pro­gress in it, to remove all things, all conceptions from him as not beseeming his Majesty, and to go still fore­ward in such a dark negative discovery, till thou know not where to seek him, nor find him next. Si quis Deū videat & intelligat quod vidit, Deum non vidit, If a­ny see God, & understand what they see, God they do not see; for, God hath no man seen, 1 Joh. 4. 12. And no man knows the Father but the Son, And none knows the Son but the Father, it's his own property, to know himself, as to be himself: silent & seeing igno­rance, is our safest and highest knowledge.

Exod. 3. 14. ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ Psal. 19. 2. ‘Before the mountains &c. from everlasting to ever­lasting thou art God.’ Job 11. 7, 8, 9. ‘Canst thou by searching find out God, &c.

THis is the chief point of saving knowledge, to know God: And this is the first point or de­gree of the true knowledge of God, to discern how ig­norant we are of him, and find him beyond all know­ledge: The Lord gives a difinition of himself, but such a one as is no more clear than himself to our capaci­ties: A short one indeed, and you may think it saith not much, I am, What is it that may not say so? I am that I am: the least and most inconsiderable creature hath its own being; mens wisdom would have learned him to call himself by some high styles & titles, as the manner and custome of Kings and Princes is, & such [Page 90] as the flattery of men attributes unto them; you would think the superlatives of wise, good, strong, excellent, glorious and such like, were more beseeming his Ma­jesty, and yet there it more Majesty in the simple stile than in all others; but a naturall man cannot behold it, for it is spiritually discerned. Let the pot sheards of the earth (saith he) strive with the pot-sheards of the earth, Isa. 45. 9. But let them not strive with their Ma­ker. So I say, let creatures compare with creatures, let them take superlative styles, in regard of others, let some of them be called good, and some better, in the comparison among themselves, but God must not enter in the comparison. Paul thinks it an odious com­parison, to compare present crosses to eternal glory, I think them not worthy to be compared, saith Paul, Rom. 8. But how much more odious is it to compare God with creatures. Call him Highest, call him most Po­werfull, call him most Excellent, Almighty, most Glo­rious in respect of creatures; you do but abase his Ma­jesty to bring it down to any terms of comparison with them, which is beyond all the bounds of understan­ding; all these do but express him to be in some degree eminently seated above the creatures, as some crea­tures are above all others, so ye do no more but make him the Head of all, as some creaturs is the head of one line or kind under it; but what is that to his Ma­jesty? he speaks otherwise of himself, Isa. 40. 17. All nations are before him as nothing, and they are ac­counted to him less then nothing. Then certainly you have not taken up the true notion of God, when you have conceived him the most eminent of all beings as long as any being appears as a being in his sight, before whom all beings conjoyned are as nothing; while you conceive God to be the best, you still at­tribute something to the creature, for all comparatives include the positive in both extreams: So then, you take up only some different degrees between them [Page 91] who differeth so infinitly, so incomprehensibly; the distance betwixt heaven & earth is but a poor simili­tude, to expresse the distance between God and Crea­tures; what is the distance betwixt a being and no­thing? Can you measure it? Can you imagine it? Suppose you take the most high, and the most low, & measure the distance betwixt them, you do but con­sider the difference betwixt two beings, but you do not expresse how far nothing is distant from any of them: Now, if any thing could be imagined less than nothing, could you at all guess at the vast distance be­tween it and a being; Now, so is it here, thus saith the Lord, All Nations, their glory, perfection and num­ber, all of them, and all their excellencies united, do not amount to the value of an unity, in regard of my Majesty; all of them like Ciphers, joyn never so ma­ny of them together they can never make up a num­ber, they are nothing in this regard, & lesse than no­thing. So then we ought thus to conceive of God, and thus to attribute a being and life to him, and as his sight, and in the consideration of it, all created beings might evanish out of our sight; as the glorious light of the Sun, though it no not annihilate the Stars, and make them nothing, yet it annihilates their appea­rance to our senses, and makes them disappear, as if they were not; although there be a great difference & inequality of the Stars in the night, some lighter, some darker, some of the first magnitude, and some of the second and third, &c. some of greater glory, and some of lesse: But in the day time all are alike, all are darkned by the Suns glory: Even so it is here, though we may compare one creature with another and find different degrees of perfection and excellency, while we are only comparing them among themselves; but let once the glorious brightnesse of God shine upon the soul, and in that light all these lights shal be ob­scured, all their differences unobserved; an Angel & [Page 92] a Man, a Man and a Worm differ much in glory and perfection of beeing: But O, in his presence there is no such reckoning upon this account, all things are a­like, God infinitly distant from all, and so not more or lesse: Infinitnesse is not capable of such terms of comparison. This is the reason why Christ sayes There is none good but one, even God. Why? because, in respect of his goodness, nothing deserves that name lesser light in view of the greater is a darkness, as less good in comparison of a greater, appears evil: How much more then shal created light and created good­nesse lose that name and notion, in the presence of that uncreated light, & self-sufficient goodnesse: And therefore it is, that the Lord calls himself after this manner, I am, as if nothing else were. I will not say, saith he, that I am the highest, the best and most glo­rious that is; that supposeth other things to have some being, and some glory that is worthy the ac­counting of: But I am, & there is none else, I am alone, I lift up my hand to Heaven, & swear I live for ever. There is nothing else can say, I am, I live, & there is none else; for there is nothing hath it of it self: Can any boast of that which they have borrowed, and is not their own? As if the bird that had stolen from other birds its fair feathers, should come forth and contend with them about beauty, would not they presently e­very one pluck out their own, & leave her naked, to be an object of mockery to all? Even so, since our breath and being is in our nostrils, and that depends upon his Majesties breathing upon us, if he should but keep in his breath, as it were, we should vanish in­to nothing, he looketh upon man as he is not, Iob 7. 8. That is a strange look, that looks man not only out of countenance, but out of life and being, he looks him into the first nothing, and then can he say, I live, I am; no, he must alwayes say of himself in respect of God, as Paul of himself in respect of Christ, I live, [Page 93] yet not I, but Christ in me, I am, yet not I; but God in me: I live, I am, yet not I but in God, in whom I live, and have my being. So that there is no other thing beside God can say, I am, because all things are borrowed drops of this self-sufficient fountain, & spar­kles of this primitive light: Let any thing interveen between the stream and the fountain and it is cut off and dried up; let any thing be interposed between the Sun and the Beam and it evanishes. Therefore this fountain being this original light this self being [...] as Plato calleth him deserves only the name of be­ing; other things that we call after that name are nea­rer nothing than God, and so in regard of his Majesty, may more fitly be called nothing than something, you see then how profound a mystery of Gods absolute self-sufficient perfection is infolded in these three Let­ters, I am, or in these four, Iehovah; If you ask what is God, there is nothing occures better then this, I am, or he that is, if I should say he is the Almighty, the only wise, the most perfect, the most glorious, it is all contained in that word, I am that I am, nempe hoc est ci esse, haec omnia esse: For that is to be indeed, to be all those perfections simply, absolutly, and as it were solely; If I say all that, and should reckon out all the Scripture-Epithets, I add nothing; If I say no more, I deminish nothing.

As this holds out Gods absolute perfection, so we told you that it imports, his eternity and unchange­ablenesse, you know Pilats speech, what I have written I have written, wherein he meant, that he would not change it, it should stand so. So this properly belongs to Gods eternity, before the mountains were brought forth, from everlasting to everlasting he is God, Psalm 90. 2. Now this is properly to be, & this only deserves the name of being, which never was nothing, & never shal be nothing, which may alwayes say, I am, you know it is so with nothing else but God: The Hea­vens [Page 94] and Earth with the things therein could not say, 6000. years ago, I am. Adam could once have said, I am, but now he cannot say it; for that self being & fountain-being hath said to him, Return to dust; & so it is with all the generations past, where are they now? They were, but they are not: And we then were not, & now are; for we are come in their place, but within a little time, who of us can say, I am: No, we flee away & are like a dream, as when one awak­eth; we are like a tale that is told, that makes a present noise, and it is past, within few years this generation will passe, & none will make mention of us, our place will not know us, no more than we do now remem­ber those who have been before: Christ said of Iohn, He was a burning and shining light, he was, saith he, but now he is not: but Christ may alwayes say, I am the light and life of men. Man is, but look a little back­ward, and he was not; you shal find his original: and step a little foreward and he shal not be, you shal find his end, but God is Alpha and Omega, the beginning & the end: but oh, who can retire so far backward as to apprehend a beginning, or go such a start forward as to conceive an end in such a being as is the beginning, & end of all things, but without all beginning and end? Whose understanding would it not confound? There is no way here but to flee into Pauls Sanctuary, O the heighth and breadth and depth! We cannot imagine a being, but we must first conceive it nothing & in some instant receiving its being, and therefore canst thou by searching find out God? Therefore, what his being is, hath not entered into the heart of man to consider. If a man would live out the space but of two generati­ons, he would be a worlds wonder; but if any had their dayes prolonged as the Patriarchs before the flood, they would be called ancient indeed, but then the heavens and earth are far more ancient; we may go backward the space of near 6000. years in our own [Page 95] minds, and yet be as far from his beginning as we were, when we are come to the beginning of all things, a mans imagination may yet extend to self-further, & suppose to it self as many thousands of years before the beginning of time, as all the Angels and men of all nations & generations from the beginning, if they had been imployed in no other thing but this, could have summed up: And then suppose a product to be made of all the severall summes of years, it would be vast & unspeakable, but yet your imagination could reach further, and multiply that great summe as often into it self as there are unites into it: Now, when you have done all this, you are never a whit nearer the dayes of the ancient of dayes. Suppose then this should be the only exercise of men and Angels throughout all eter­nity, all this marvellous Arithmetick would not a­mount unto the least shadow of the countenance of him who is from everlasting: All that huge product of all the multiplications of men and Angels, hath no proportion unto that never beginning, and never en­ding duration: The greatest summe that is imaginable hath a certain proportion to the least number, that it containeth it so oft and no oftner, so that the least number being multiplied, will amount unto the grea­test that you can conceive. But O, where shal a soul find it self here? It is inclosed between infinitnesse be­fore, & infinitnesse behind, between two everlastings, which way soever it turns, there is no out going, which way soever it looks, it must lose it self in an infinitness round about it, it can find no beginning, and no end, when it hath wearied it self in searching, which if it find not, it knows not what it is, and cannot tell what it is. Now, what are we then? O what are we, who so magnifie our selves: We are but of yesterday, and know nothing, Job 8. 9. Suppose that we had endured the space of 1000. years, yet, saith Moses, Psal. 90. 4. A thousand years are but as yesterday in thy sight. Time [Page 96] hath no succession to thee, thou beholdest at once what is not at once, but in severall times, all that hath not the proportion of one day to thy dayes: we change in our dayes, and are not that to day we were yester­day, but he is the same yesterday, and to day, and for e­ver, Heb. 13. 8. Every day we are dying, some part of our life is taken away; we leave still one day more be­hind us, and what is behind us is gone and cannot be recovered: Though we vainly please our selves in the number of our years, and the extent of our life, and the vicissitudes of time, yet the truth is, we are but stil losing so much of our being & time as passeth: First, we lose our child-hood, then we lose our man-hood, and then we leave our old age behind us also, & there is no more before us, even the very present day we decide it with death: But when he moves all things, he remains immoveable; though dayes and years be in a continual flux and motion about him, & they carry us down with their force, yet he abides the same for ever, even the earth that is establisht so sure; & the Heavens that are supposed to be incorruptible, yet they wax old as doth a garment, but He is the same, and his years have no end, Psal. 102. 26, 27. Sine prin­cipio principium, absque finc finis, cui praeteritum non abit, haud adit futurum, ante omnia, post omnia, totus, unus ipse, He is the beginning without any begin­ning, the end without an end, there is nothing bypast to him, and nothing to come, sed uno mentis c [...]rnit in ictu, quae sunt, quae erunt, quae fuerantque, He is one that is all, before all, after all, & in all: He beholds out of the exalted and supereminent Tower of Eter­nity, all the successions and changes of the creatures, and there is no succession, no mutation in his know­ledge, as in ours, Known to him are all his works, from the beginning. He can declare the end before the be­ginning, for he knows the end of all things before he gives them beginning: Therefore he is never dri­ven [Page 97] to any consultation upon any emergent, or inci­dent, as the wisest of men are, who could not foresee all accidents and events, but He is in one mind, saith Iob, and that one mind, and one purpose is one for all, one concerning all, he had it from everlasting, & who can turn him? For He will accomplish what his soul desires.

Now, canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou a poor mortal creature, ascend up unto the height of Heaven, or descend down unto the depths of Hell? Canst thou travel abroad, and compasse all the Sea & dry Land, by its longitude and latitude? Would any martal creature undertake such a voyage, to compasse the Universe? Nay, not only so, but to search into e­very corner of it, above and below, on the right hand and on the left: No certainly, unlesse we suppose a man whose head reaches unto the heighth of Heaven, and whose feet is down unto the depths of hell, and whose armes streached out can fathome the length of the Earth, and breadth of the Sea, unlesse, I say, we suppose such a creature, then it is in vain to imagine, that either the heighth of the one, or the depth of the other, the length of the one, and the breadth of the o­ther can be found out and measured: Now if mortal creatures connot attain the measure of that which is finite; O then, what can a creature do, what can a creature know of him that is infinite, & the maker of all these things, you cannot compasse the Sea and Land, how then can a soul comprehend him, who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and com­prehended the dust of the earth in a measure, & the moun­tains he weighs in scales, and the hill in a ballance, Isa. 40. 10. Thou cannot measure the circomference of the heaven, how then canst thou find out him, who metteth out the heaven with his span & streacheth them out as a curtain? Isa. 40. 12. 22. You cannot number the Na­tions, or perceive the magnitude of the Earth, and the [Page 98] huge extent of the Heavens, What then canst thou know of him who sitteth on the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants are but as Grasse-hoppers before him, & he spreadeth out the Heaven as a Tent to dwel into? He made all the pins and stakes of this Tabernacle, and he fastned them below, but upon nothing, and stretches this curtain about them, and above them; & it was not so much difficulty to him, as to you to draw the curtain about your Bed, for, he spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast. Canst thou by searching him out? And yet thou must search him, not so much out of curiosity to know what he is, for he dwels in inaccessible light which no man hath seen, nor no man can see, 1 Tim. 6. 16. Not so much to find him, as to be found of him, or to find what we can not know when we have found; Hic est qui nunquam quaeri frustra potest cum tamen inveniri non potest; you may seek him, but though you never find him, yet ye shal not seek him in vain, for ye shall find blessedness in him: Though you find him, yet can you search him out unto perfection? Then what you have found were not God? How is it possible for such narrow hearts to frame an apprehension, or receive an im­pression of such an immense greatnesse, and eternall goodnesse? Will not a soul lose its power of thinking and speaking, because there is so much to be thought and spoken; and it so transcends all that it can think or speak? Silence then must be the best Rhetorick; and the sweetest eloquence, when eloquence it self must become dumb and silent, it is the abundance & ex­cesse of that inaccessible light, that hath no proporti­on to our understandings; that strikes us as blind as in the darknesse the want of light: All that we can say of God is, that whatsoever we can think or conceive, he is not that, because he hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive, and that he is not like any of these things which we know, unto which if he be not [Page 99] like; wee cannot frame any similitude or likenesse of him in our knowledge? What shall we then do? Seek him, and search him indeed; but if we cannot know him, to reverence fear and adore what we know: So much of him may be known, as may teach us our duty & shew unto us our blessednesse, let then all our in­quiries of him have a special relation to this end, that we may out of love and fear of such a glorious & good God, worship and serve him, & compose ourselves according to his will, and wholly to his pleasure: what ever thou knowes of God, or searches of him, it is but a vain speculation, and a work of curiosity, if it do not lead to this end; to frame & fashion thy soul to an union & communion with him in love; If it do not discover thy self unto thy self that in that light of Gods glorious Majesty thou mayest distinctly behold thy own vilenesse and wretched misery, thy darknesse & deadnesse & utter impotency. The Angels that Isa­iah saw attending God in the Temple, had wings co­vering their faces, & wings covering their feet, those excellent spirits who must cover their feet from us, because we cannot behold their glory, as Moses be­hooved to be vailed, yet they cannot behold his glo­ry, but must cover their face from the radiment and shining brightness of his Majesty, yet they have other two wings to flee with; and being thus composed in reverence & fear to God, they are ready to execute his commands willingly and swiftly. Isa. 1. 2, 3. &c. But what is the use Isaiah makes of all this glorious sight? Wo is me, I am a man of polluted lips, &c. Oh all is unclean, People and Pastor: He had known doubt­lesse something of it before; but now he sees it of new as if he had never seen it: the glory of God shin­ing on him, doth not pull him up in arogancy, & con­ceit of the knowledge of such profound mysteries, but he is more abased in himself by it, it shines into his heart, & whole man, and, lets him see all unclean [Page 100] within & without, & so it was with Iob. Iob 42. 5. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but as long as it was hear say, I thought my self something; I often reflected upon my self & actions with a kind of self complacency and delight: But now saith he, since I have seen thee by the seeing of the eye, I abhorre my self in dust and ashes, I cannot look upon my self with patience, without abhorrency and detestation, self-love made me loth other mens sins more then mine own, & self-love did cover mine own from me, it presented me to my self in a seigned likenesse, but now I see my self in my true shape, & all coverings stripped off, Thy light hath pierced into my soul, & behold I cannot endure to look upon my self: Here now is the true knowledge of Gods Majesty, which discovers within thee a mystery of iniquity; and here is the knowledg of God indeed, which abases all thing beside God, not only in opinion, but in affection, that attracts and units thy soul to God, & drawes it from thy self & all created things, this is a right discovery of Divine purity & glory, that spots even the clean­nesse of Angels, and stains the pride of all glory, much more will it represent filthinesse; as filthiness, without a covering. Its knowledge & science (falsly so called) that pusseth up, for true knowledge emptieth a soul of it self, and humbleth a soul in it self, that it may be ful of God. He that thinks he knowes any thing, he knows nothing as he ought to know.

This then is the first property or mark of saving knowledge of God, it removes all ground of vain cō ­fidence; that a soul cannot trust unto it self; and then the very proper intent of it is, that a soul may trust in God, and depend on him in all things: For this pur­pose the Lord has called himself by so many names in Scripture, answerable to our several necessities, and difficulties, that he might make known to us how all­sufficient he is, that so we may turn our eyes and [Page 101] hearts towards him: This was the intent of this name, I am, that Moses might have a support of his faith; for if he had looked to outward appearance was it not al­most a rediculous thing, and like a vain fancy, for a poor inconsiderable man to go to a King with such a message, that he would dismisse so many subjects? And was it not attempt of some mad man to go about to lead so many thousands from a wicked tyrannicall King, into another Nation? Well, saith the Lord, I am: I who give althings a being, will give a being to my promise; I will make Pharoah hearken, and the people obey. Well then, what is it that this name of God will not answer? It is a creating Name, a Name that can bring all things out of nothing by a Word; if he be such as he is, then he can make of us what he pleases. If our souls had this name constantly engra­ven on our hearts: O what power would Divine pro­mises and threatnings have with us? I, even I, am he that comforteth thee, saith he: If we believed that it were he indeed, the Lord Jehovah, how would we be comforted? How would we praise Him by His Name IAH? How would we stoop unto him, and submit unto His blessed will? If we believed this, would we not be as dependent on him as if we had no being in our selves? Would we not make him our habitation and dwelling-place? And conclude our own stability, and the stability of his Church from his unvariable eternity, as the Psalmist, Ps. 90. 1. & Ps. 102. ult. How can we think of such a foūtain being, but we must withal acknowledge our selves to be shadows of his goodnesse, and that we ow to him what we are, and so consecrate and dedicate our selves to his glory? How can we consider such a self being, independent; and creating goodnesse, but we must have some de­sire to cleave to him, and some confidence to trust in him? Now, this is to know him. When we think on his unchangeablenesse, let us consider our own vanity [Page 102] whose glory and perfection is like a summer flower, or like a vapour ascending for a little time, whose best estate is altogether vanity: Our purposes are soon broken off, and made of none effect; our resolutions change. This is a Character of Mortality, we are not alwayes alike, Non sibi constare, nec ubique & semper sibi parem eundemque esse. To be now one thing, and then another thing, is a property of sinfull & wretched man, therefore let us cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils, and not trust in Princes who shal die, far lesse in our selves who are lesse then the least of men: But let us put our trust in God, who changes not, and we shal not be consumed; our waters shal not fail, we shall never be ashamed of any hope we have in him. There is nothing else you trust in, but undoubtedly it shal prove your shame and confusion; in sum, what­ever you shal hear or know ofGod, know that i [...] is vain & empty, unlesse it descend down into the heart to fa­shion it to his fear and love, and extend unto the out­ward man to conform it to obedience; you are but vain in your imaginations, and your foolish hearts are dark­ned, while when you know God you glorifie him not as God: If that be not the fruit & end of knowle [...]ge, that knowledge shal be worse to thee than ign [...]rance, for both it brings on judicial hardning here, and will be thy solemn accuser and witnesse against thee hereafter, Rom. 1. 21, 24. The knowledge of Jesus Christ, truly so called, is neither barren, nor unfruitfull, for out of its root & sap, springs out humility, self-abasing, con­fidence in God, patience in tribula ions, meeknesse in provocations, temperance & sobriety in lawful things, &c. 2 Pet. 1. 5, 6, 7, 8.

Exod. 24 5, 6, 7, 8. ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merci­full and gracious, &c.

THere is nothing can separate between God & a people but iniquity, and yet he is very loath [Page 103] to separate even for that; he makes many shews of departing, that so we may hold him fast; and indeed he is not difficult to be holden. He threatens often to remove his presence from a person, or Nation, & he threatens, that he may not indeed remove, but that they may intreat him to stay, & he is not hard to be entreated: Who is a God like unto him, slow to an­ger, and of great mercy? he is long of being provoked, and not long provoked; for it is like the anger of a Parents love: Love takes on anger, as the last reme­dy, & if it prevail, it is as glad to put it off, as it was unwilling to take it on. You may see a lively pi­cture of this in Gods dealing with Moses & this peo­ple in the preceeding Chapter. He had long endu­red this rebellious and obstinate people, had often threatned to cut them off & yet as it were, loath to do it, & repenting of it, he su [...]ers himself to be entreated for them; but all in vain to them, they corrupted their way still more: And in the 32. Chap. falls in grosse Idolatry, the great trespasse that he had given them so solemn warni [...]g of often, whereupon great wrath is conceived. And the Lord, Chap. 33. 1. threatens to depart from them, Go your way, saith he, to Canaan, but I will not go with you; take your venture of any judgements, & the people of the Lands cruelty: Here is a sad farewell to Israel, & who would think he could be detained after all that? Who would think that he could be entreated? And yet he is not entreated, he is not requested before he give some ground of it, and before he fi [...]st condescends; Go, saith he, and put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. Will he then accept a repenting people, and is there yet hope of mercy? Should he that is going away shew us the way to keep him still? And he that flees from us, will he strengthen us to pursue & fol­low after him? This is not after the manner of men, it is true, whose compassion fails, when their passion [Page 104] ariseth, but this is the manner & method of grace; or of him who waits to be gracious: He flees so as he would have a follower: yea, while he seems to go a­way, he draws the soul that it may run after him; hence is that word, Psal. 63. 8. My soul follows hard af­ter thee; thy righe hand upholds me. Well, the people mourns and puts off their ornaments in sign of humi­liation & abasement, but all this deth not pacifie and quench the flame that was kindled: Moses takes the Tabernacle out of the Camp, the place of judgement where God spake with the people; and the cloud, the sign of Gods presence removes: In a word, The signs of Gods loving & kind presence departs from them, to signifie that they were divorced from God, and in a manner, the Lord by Moses excommunicates all the People, and Rulers both, and draws away these holy things from the contagion of a prophane people: But yet all is not gone; he goes far off, but not out of sight, that you may alwayes follow him, & if you follow, he will stand still; he is never without the reach of cry­ing, though we do not perceive him. Now, in this sad case you may have a tryal who is godly: Every one that seeks the Lord will separate from the unho­ly Congregation, & follow the Tabernacle: And this affects the whole people much, that they all worship in the tent-doors. Now, in the mean time God ad­mits Moses to speak with him; though he will not speak to the people, yet he will speak with their Me­diator, a typicall Mediator, to shew us that God is well pleased in Christ, & so all Christs intercessions and requests for us will get a hearing; when they are come once in talking, the businesse is taken up, for he is not soon angry, & never implacably angry, slow to anger, and keeps it not long: Moses falling familiar with God, not only obtains his request for the people, but becomes more bold in a request for his own satis­faction and confirmation: He could not endure to [Page 105] lead that people, except God went with him, & ha­ving the promise of his going with them, he cannot endure distance with him, but aspires to the nearest Communion that may be: Oh that it were so with us. His request is, That the Lord would shew him his glory; Had he not seen much of this already? And more than any man ever saw, when he spake in the Mount with God, &c. Nay, but he would see more, for there is alwayes more to be seen, & there is in a godly soul alwayes more desire to see it, the more is seen, the more is loved and desired; tasting of it on­ly begets a kindly appetite after it, & the more tasted, still the fresher and more recent; But yet it is above both desire and fruition, thou cannot see my face &c. All our knowledge of God, all our attainments of ex­perience of him, do reach but to some dark & confused apprehension of what he is; the clearest and nearest sight of God in the world, is, as if a man were not known but by his back, which is a great point of e­strangement: It's said, in the heaven we shall see him face to face, and fully as he is, because then the soul is made capable of it.

Two things in us here puts us in an incapacity of nearnesse with God, Infirmity, and Iniquity? Infir­mity in us cannot behold his glory, it's of so weak eies that the brightnesse of the Sun would strike it blind; and Iniquity in us, he cannot behold it, because he is of pure eyes, that can look on no unclean thing; it's the only thing in the Creation that Gods holinesse hath antipathy at, and therefore he is stil about the destroying of the body of sin in us, about the purging of all filthinesse of the flesh and spirit; and till the soul be thus purged of all sin, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, it cannot be a Temple for an immediate vision of him; & an immediate exhibition of God to us. Sin is the wall of partition, and the thick cloud that eclipses his glory from us; it is the opposite [Page 106] Hemesphere of darknesse, contrary to light, according to the accesse or recesse of Gods presence, it is more or lesse dark; the more sin reigns in thee, the lesse of God is in thee, and the more sin be subdued, the readier & nearer is Gods presence: but let us comfort our selves: That one day shal put off both Infirmity and Iniquity, mortality shal put on immortality, and corruption be cloathed with incorruption; we shal leave the rags of mortall weaknesse in the grave, and our menstruous cloaths of sin behind us, & then shal the weak eyes of flesh be made like Eagles eyes, to behold the Sun; and then shal the soul be cloathed with holinesse, as with a Garment, which God shal delight to look upon, because he sees his own Image in that glasse.

We come to the Lords satisfying of Moses desire and proclaiming his Name before him; it is himself only can tell you what he is, it is not Ministers preach­ing, or other discourse, can proclaim that Name to you; we may indeed speak over those words unto you, but it is the Lord that must write that Name u­pon your heart, he only can discover his glory to your spirit: There is a spirit of life which cannot be inclo­sed in Letters and Syllables, or transmitted through your ears into your hearts, but he himself must create it inwardly, and stir up the outward sense & feeling of that Name, of those Attributes: Faith indeed comes by hearing, and our knowledge in this life is thorow a glasse, darkly, thorow ordinances and senses; but there must be an inward teaching and speaking to your souls to make that effectuall, the anointing teach­eth you all things, 1 Ioh. 2. 27. Alas! its the separa­tion of that from the word that makes it so unprofi­table; if the spirit of God were inwardly writing what the word is teaching, then should our souls be living Epistles, that ye might read Gods Name on them: O, be much in imploying of, & depending on [Page 107] him that teacheth to profit who only can declare unto your souls what he is.

These names expresse his Essence or Being, & his Properties, what he is in himself, & what he is to us; in himself he is Jehovah, or a self-being, [...], as we heard in the 3. Chap. I am that I am, and EL, a strong God, or Almighty God; which two hold out to us, the absolute incomprehensible perfection of God, eminently and infinitely enclosing within him­self all perfections of the creatures; the unchange­able and mutable being of God who was, and is, & is to come without succession, without variation, or shadow of turning; and then the Almighty power of God, by which without difficulty, by the inclination and beck of his will & pleasure, he can make, or un­make all, create or annihilate, to whom nothing is impossible; which three if they were pondered by us, till our souls received the stamp of them, they would certainly be powerfull to abstract and draw our hearts from the vain, changeable, and empty sha­dow of the creature, & gather our scattered affections that are parted among them, because of their unsuffici­ency, that all might unite in one, and joyn with this self-sufficient and eternal God; I say, if a soul did in­deed believe and consider how All sufficient he is, how insufficient all things else are, would it not cleave to him and draw near to him. Psal. 73. ult It is the ve­ry torment and vexation of the soul to be thus racked, distracted & divided about many things; & therefore many, because there is none of them can supply all our wants, our wants are infinit, our desires insatiable, & the good that is in any thing is limited & boun­ded, it can serve one but for one use, and another for another use, and when all are together, they can but supply some wants, but they leave much of the soul empty: But often these outward things crosses one a­nother, and cannot consist together; and hence ariseth [Page 108] much strife and debate in a soul, his need requireth both, and both will not agree, But O that you could see this one universall good, One for all, and above all, your souls would choose him certainly, your souls would trust in him; ye would say, Ashur soal not save us, we will not ride on horses: Creatures shal not sa­tisfie us, we will seek our happinesse in thee, and no where else, since we have tasted this new wine, a­way with the old, the new is better. I beseech you make God your friend, for he is a great one; whether he be a friend or an enemy, he hath two properties, that make him either most comfortable, or most ter­rible, according as he is at peace or war with souls, Eternity and Omnipotency. You were once all enemies to him. O consider what a Party you have, an Al­mighty Party, and unchangeable Party; & if you will make peace with him, and that in Christ, then know, he is the best friend in the world, because he is unchangeable and Almighty; if he be thy friend, he will do all for thee he can do, and thou hast need of; But many friends willing to do, yet have not ability, but he hath power to do what he will and pleases; Many friends are changeable, their affections dry up, of themselves die; and therefore even Princes friend­ship is but a vain confidence, for they shal die, & then their thoughts of favour perish with them, but he a­bides the same for all Generations, there is no end of his duration, & no end of his affection; He can still say, I am that I am; What I was, I am, and I will be what I am; men cannot say so, they are like the Brooks that the companies of Teman looked after, & thought to have found them in Summer as they left them in Winter; but behold they were dried up, & the companies ashamed. God cannot make thee a­shamed of thy hope, because he is faithfull & able, Ability and Fidelity is a sure Anchor to hold by in all storms and tempests.

[Page 109] Such is God in himself; now, there are two man­ner of wayes he vents himself toward the Creatures, In a comfortable way, or in a terrible way. This glo­rious perfection, and Almighty power, hath an issue upon sinners, and it runs in a twofold channell, of mer­cy and justice: Of mercy towards miserable sinners that finds themselves lost, and flee unto him, and take hold of his strength; and justice towards all those that flatter themselves in their own eyes, and con­tinue in their sinnes and put the evill day far off: There is no mercy for such as fear not justice, and there is no Justice for such as flee from it unto mercy. The Lord exhibites himself in a two­fold appearance, according to the condition of sin­ners, He sits on a Throne and tribunal of Grace & mercy, to make accesse to the vil est sinner, who isa­fraid of his wrath, and would [...] be at peace with him; and he sits on a Throne of justice and wrath to seclude and debar presumptuous sinners from his. Holinesse. There were two mountains under the Law, one of cursings, another of blessings; These are the Mountains God lets his Throne upon, and from these he speaks, and sentences mankind: From the Mountain of cursings he hath pronounced a curse. & condemnatory sentence upon all flesh, for all have sin­ned, therefore he concludes all under sin, that all flesh might stop their mouth, and the whole world become guilty before God. Now, the Lord having thus con­demned all Mankind because of disobedience, he sits again upon the Mountain of Blessings, and pronoun­ces a sentence of absolution; of as many as have taken with the sentence of condemnation, and appealed to his grace and Mercy, and those which do not so, the sentence of condemnation stands above their heads unrepealed. He erects his Tribunal of Justice in the Word for this end, that all flesh might once be con­victed before him, and therefore he cites, as it were, [Page 110] and summons all men to fift themselves and compear before his Tribunall, to be judged; he layes out an accusation, in the Word against them; he takes their consciences witnesse of the truth of all that is charged on them, and then pronounces that sentence on their conscience, Cursed is he that abides not in all things, which the conscience subsumes and concludes it self accursed, and subscribes to the equity of the sentence; and thus the man is guilty before God, and his mouth stopped; he hath no excuses; no pretences, he can see no way to escape from Justice, and God is ju­stified by this means, in his speaking and judging Psal. 51. 4. The soul ratifies and confirms the truth & justice of all our threatnings & judgements. Rom. 3. 4. Now for such souls as joyn with God in judging and condemning themselves; the Lord hath erected a Throne of grace, & Tribunall of mercy in the word, whereupon he hath set his Son Jesus Christ, Psal. 2. 6. and 89. 14. and 45. 6. Heb. 1. 8. And O, this Throne is a comfortable Throne, mercy and truth goes before the face of the King to welcome & enter­tain miserable sinners, & to make access to them. And from this Throne Jesus Christ holds out the Scepter of the Gospel to invite sinners, self-condemned sin­ners, to come to him alone, who hath gotten all finall judgement committed to him, that he may give eter­nall life to whom he will Ioh. 5. 21, 22. O that is a sweet and ample Commission given to our Friend & Brother Jesus Christ, power to repeal sentences past against us, power to loose them whom Justice hath bound, power and authority to absolve them whom justice hath condemned, and to blesse them whom the Law hath cursed, & to open their mouth to praise whose mouth sin and guiltinesse hath stopped; power to give the answer of a good conscience to thy evill self-tormenting conscience, in a word, he hath power to give life, to make alive, and heal those who are kil­led [Page 111] or wounded by the Commandement. Now I say seeing God hath of purpose established this Throne of mercy in the Word, thou mayest well after receiving and acknowledging of the justice of the curse of the Law, appeal to divine mercy and grace, sitting on ano­ther Throne of the Gospel, thou may if thy consci­ence urge thee to despair, and to conclude there is no hope, thou may appeal, I say, from thy conscience, from Satan, from Justice unto Jesus Christ, who is holding out the Scepter to thee; the Minister calls thee: Rise and come, stand no longer before that Bar, for it is a subordinate Judicatory, there is a way to redresse thee by a higher court of Grace: Thou may say to justice, to Satan, to thy own Conscience, It is true, I confesse that I deserve that sentence; I am guilty and can say nothing against it, while I stand a­lone, but though I cannot satisfie, and have not; yet there is one Jesus Christ, who gave his life a ransom for many, and whom God hath given as a propitiati­on for sins; he hath satisfied and paid the debt in my name; go and apprehend the Cautioner, since he hath undertaken it, nay, he hath done it and is absolved. Thou had him in thy hands, O justice! Thou had him Prisoner under the power of death; since you have let him go, then he is acquited from all the charge of my sins; & therefore, since I know that he is now a King, & hath a Throne to judge the world and plead the cause of his poor sheep, I will appeal to him; refer the cause to his decision, I will make my supplication to him, and certainly he will hear, and interpole himself between wrath and me he will re­scind this sentence of condemnation, since he himself was condemned for us, and is justified, it is Christ that died, nay rather is risen again, who shal condemn me? He is near that justifies me. Rom. S. 33. 34. Now i [...] thou do indeed flee into him for refuge, that City is open for thee, and nothing to prejudge thy entry: but [Page 112] no curse, no condemnation can enter in it. Rom. 8. 1. He will justifie & absolve thee from all things where­of the Law could not justifie thee, but condemn thee, there is forgivenness with him, that he may be feared. David may teach thee this manner of appellation, Ps. 130. & 142. 2. of appealing from the deserved curse to free undeserved blessing & mercy in Christ.

Let us consider this Name of the Lord, and it shall answer all our suspicions of him; all our objecti­ons against coming to him & believing in him, it is certain, Ignorance is the mother of unbelief, together with the naturall perversenesse of our heatts, if wee knew his Name we would trust in him, if his Names were pondered and considered, wee would believe in him, Satan knowes this, & therefore his great slight and cunning is, to hold our minds fixed on the consideration of our misery and desperate estate, he keeps the awakned conscience still upon that comfort­lesse sight, & he labours to represent God by halfes, & that it is a false representation of God, he represents him as clothed with justice and vengeance, as a con­suming fire, in which light a soul can see nothing but desperation written; and he labours to hold out the thoughts of his mercy and grace, or diverts a soul from the consideration of his promises, whence it comes, that they are not established, that though salvation be near, yet it is far from them in their sense and appre­hension, therefore I say, you should labour to get an intire sight of God, and you shall see him best in his word, there he reveales himself, and there you find, if ye consider, that which wil make you fear him indeed, but never flee from him, that which may abase you, but withall embolden you to come to him, though trembling: what ever thought possesse thee of thine own misery, of thy own guiltinesse, labour to coun­terpoise that which a thought of his mercy and free promises: what ever be suggested of his holynesse, & [Page 113] Justice, hea [...] himself speak out his own Name, and thou shalt hear as much of mercy and grace, as may make these not terrible unto thee, though high and honourable. The Lord hath so framed the expression and proclamation of his name in this place, that first a word of Majesty and power is premised (The Lord, The Lord God) that it may compasse our hearts in fear and reverence of such a glorious One, & make a preparatory impression of the Majesty of our God, which indeed is the foundation of all true faith. It be­gins to adore and admire a Deity, a Majesty hid from the world, the thoughts of his power and glory possesses the soul first, and makes it begin to tremble to think that it hath such a high and Holy One to deal with.

But in the next place, you have the most sweet, al­luring, comforting styles that can be imagined, to meet with the trembling and languishing condition of a soul that would be ready to faint before such a Maje­sty, here mercy takes it by the hand, & gives a cordial of grace, pardon, forgivenesse, &c. to it, which revives the soul of the humble, and intermingles some rejoyc­ing with the former trembling. Majesty and greatnesse goes before to abase, and humble the soul in its own eyes, and mercy and goodnesse seconds them, to lift up those who are low, and exalt the humble, and in the description of this, the Lord spends more words, according to the necessity of a soul, to signifie to us how great and strong consolation may be grounded on his Name, how accessible he is, though he dwel in inaccessible light, how lovely he is though he be the high and the lofty one, how good he is, though he be great, how merciful he is, though he be majestick: In a word, that those that flee to him may have all invitation, all encouragement to come, & nothing to discourage, to prejudge their welcome, that whoever, will, may come, and nothing may hinder on his part [Page 114] & then after all this, he subjoynes a word of his Ju­stice, in avenging sin, to shew us that he leaves that as the last, that he assayes all gaining wayes of mercy with us, and that he is not very much delighted with the death of sinners, that so whosoever perishes may blame themselves, for hating their own salvation, and forsaking their own mercy.

Now whoever thou art that apprehends a dreadful & terrible God, and thy self a miserable and wretched sinner, thou canst find no comfort in Gods highnesse & power, but it looks terrible upon thee, because thou doubts of his good-will to save and pardon thee: thou sayest with the blind man, if thou wilt, thou can do it; Thou art a strong God; but what comfort can I have in thy strength, since I know not thy good-will? I say, the Lord answers thee in this name, I am mercifull, saith the Lord, if thou be miserable, I am mercifull as well as strong, if thou have sin & misery, I have com­passion & pitty: my mercy may be a coppy & patern to all men to learn it of me, even towards their own brethren, Luk. 6. 36. Therefore he is called the Fa­ther of mercies. 2 Cor. 1. 3. Misericors est cui alterius miseria cordi est. Mercy hath its very name from mi­sery, for it is no other thing than to lay anothers mi­sery to heart, not to despise it, not to adde to it, but to help it, it is a strong inclination to [...]uccour the misery of sinners, therefore thou needs no other thing to commend thee to him: art thou miserable, & knows it indeed? Then he is mercifull, and know that also, these two suit well.

Nay, but saith the convinced soul, I know not if he will be mercifull to me, for what am I? There is no­thing in me to be regarded, I have nothing to con­ciliat favour, & all that may procure hatred. But, saith the Lord, I am gracious, and dispenses most freely, without respect to condition or qualification: say not, If I had such a measure of humiliation as such a one, [Page 115] if I loved him so much, if I had so much godly sorrow and repentance, then I think he would be mercifull to me. Say not so, for behold he is gracious, he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and there is no other cause, no motive to procure it, it comes from within his own breast; It is not thy repentance will make him love thee, nor thy hardnesse of heart will make him hate thee, or obstruct the vent of his grace towards thee: no, if it be grace, it is no more of works, no works in that way that thou imagines; it is not of repentance, not of faith in that sense thou conceivest, but it is freely, without the hyre, without the price of repentance, or faith, because all those are but the free gifts of grace, thou would have these graces to procure his favour, and to make them the ground of thy be­lieving in his promises, but grace is without money, it immediatly contracts with discovered misery, so that if thou do discover in thy self misery and sin, though thou find nothing else, yet do not cast away confidence; but so much the more adresse thy self to mercy and grace which doth not seek repentance in thee; yet there is something in the awakened consci­ence: It have gone on long in sin, I have been a presumptuous sinner; can he endure me longer? well, hear what the Lord saith, I am long-suffering, & pa­tient, and if he had not been so, we had been damned ere now, patience hath a long term and we cannot out-run it, out-weary it. Why do we not wonder that he presently and instantly executed his wrath on an­gels, & gave them not one hours space for repentance, but cast them down head-long into destruction, as in a moment: and yet his Majesty hath so long de­layed the execution of our sentence, and calls us to repentance and forgivenesse, that we may escape the condemnation of Angels: His patience is not slacknes and negligence, as men count it, 2 Pet. 3. 9. He sits not in heaven as an Idol and idle spectator what men [Page 116] are doing, but he observes all wrongs, and is sensible of them also: And if we were mindfull and sensible of them also, he would forget them; He is long-suffering: This is extended and stretched-out patience beyond all expectation, beyond all deserving, yea, contrary to it. Therefore as long as he forbears if thou appre­hend thy misery and sin, and continuance in it; so not conclude that it is desperate: Why should a living man complain? As long as patience lengthens thy life, if thou desire to come to him, believe he wil accept thee

But saith the doubting soul, I am exceeding per­verse and wicked, there is nothing in me but wicked­nesse, it so abounds in me that there is nothing in me but wickednesse, it so abounds in me that there is none like me; but saith the Lord, I am aboundant in good­nesse. Thy wickednesse though it be great, it is but a created wickedness, but my goodness is the goodness of God; I am as abundant in grace & goodnesse as thou art in sin, nay, infinitely more; thy sin is but the transgression of a finite creature, but my mercy is the compassion of an infinite God, it can swallow it up; suppose thy sin cry up to Heaven, yet mercy reaches above Heaven, & is built up for ever. Here is an invitation to all sinners to come and taste, O come & taste and see how good the Lord is; goodnesse is communicative, it diffuses it self like the Suns light. There is riches of his goodnesse. Rom. 2. 4. Poor soul, thou canst not spend it though thou have many wants.

But I am full of doubtings, fears and jealousies; I cannot believe his Promises, I often question them; How then will he perform them? I say, (saith the Lord) I am abundant in truth, He will certainly perform. Shal our unbelief or doubting make the faith of God of none effect &c. Rom. 3. 3. God forbid. His faithfulnesse reaches unto the Clouds, he will keep Covenant with thee, whose soul hath chosen him, [Page 117] though thou often question and doubt of him. Indeed thou would not give indulgence to thy doubtings & jealousies, but look on them as high provocations: for what can be more grievous to fervent love than to meet with jealousie, jealousie would quench any crea­tures love; but though it grieve & provoke him, yet he will not change, he will not diminish his; only do not think your disputings, & quarrellings innocent and harmlesse things; no certainly, they grieve the Spirit, stir up the Beloved to go away, as it were, be­fore he please, & make thee walk without comfort, & without fruit; yet he will bear with & quench the smoaking flax of a Believers desires, though they do not arise to the flame of Assurance.

But the wounded spirit hath one or two burdens more: I have abused much mercy, How can mercy pitty me? I have turned grace into wantonnesse, so that when I look to mercy and grace to comfort me, they do rather challenge me; the sins of none are like mine, none of such a hainous presumptuous nature: But let us hear what the Lord speaks, I keep mercy for thousands, and forgive iniquity, transgression and sin; Thou hast wasted much mercy, but more is behind, all the treasure is not spent; though there were many thousand worlds beside, I could pardon them all, if they would flee unto my mercy, thou shalt not be straitned in me, mercy will pardon thy abuse of mer­cy, it will forgive all faults thou dost against it self, Thou that sins against the Son of man, the Redeem­er of the World, & remedy of sin, yet there is pardon for thee what ever thy quality, condition, or circum­stance of thy sin be; whoever convinced of it, and loadned with it, desires rest to thy soul, thou may find it in Christ, whose former kindnesse thou hast answe­red with contempt, many sins, many great sins, and these presumptuous sins cannot exclude, nay, no sin can exclude a willing soul. Unbelief keeps thee un­willing, and so excludes thee.

[Page 118] Now as the Spider sucks poyson out of the sweet­est Flower, so the most part of souls suck nothing but delusion and presumption, and hardening out of the Gospel: Many souls reason for more liberty to sin from mercy; but behold how the Lord backs it with a dreadful word, who will by no means clear the guilty. As many as do not condemn themselves, and judge themselves before his Tribunall of Justice, there is no rescinding of the condemnatory Sentence, but it stands above their heads, He that believes not is con­demned already. Justice hath condemned all by sen­tence; he that doth not in the sense of this flee into Jesus Christ from sin and wrath, is already condem­ned; his Sentence is standing, there needs no new one; since he flees not to mercy for absolution; the sentence of condemnation stands unrepealed. Yo [...] guilty souls who clear your selves, God will not clear you; & alas! How many of you do clear your selves? Do you not extenuate and mince your sins? How hard is it to extort any confession of guilt out of you, but in the general? If we condescend to particulars, many of you will plead innocency, almost in every thing, though ye have like children, learned to speak these words, That ye are sinners. I beseech you con­sider it, it is no light matter, for God will by no means clear the guilty; by no means, by no intreaties, no flatteries; What? will he not pardon sin? Yes in­deed: His Name tells you he will pardon all kind of sins, & absolve all manner of guilty persons but yet such as do condemn themselves, such as are guilty in their own conscience, & their mouths stopped before God; you who do not enter into the serious exami­nation of your wayes, and no not arraign your selves before Gods Tribunal daily, till you find your selves loathsome and desperate, and no refuge for you; you who do flatter your selves alwaies in the hope of hea­ven, and put the fear of hell alwayes from you, I say, [Page 119] God will by no mean; no prayers, no intreaties clear or pardon you, because you come not to Jesus Christ, in whom is preached forgivenesse and remission of sins. You who take liberty to sin, because God is gracious, and delay repentance till the end, because God is long suffering; know God will not clear you; he is holy and just as he is mercyfull. If his mercy make thee not fear and tremble before him, and do not separate thee from thy sins; if remission of sins be not the strongest perswasion to thy soul of the removing of sin, certaiuly thou dost in vain presume upon his mercy; Now, consider what influence all this glorious Pro­clamation had on Moses; it stirs up in him reverence and affection, reverence to such a glorious Majesty, & great desire to have him amongst them, and to be more one with him: If thy soul rightly discover God, it cannot but abase thee, he made bade haste to bow down and worship; O, Gods Majesty is a surprising and astonishing thing, it would bow thy soul in the dust if it were represented to thee; labour to keep the right and intire representation of God in thy sight, his whole Name, Strong, Mercifull & Iust, Great and Holy. I say, keep both in thy view, for half repre­sentations are dangerous, either to beget presumpti­on and security, when thou looks on mercy alone, or despair, when thou looks on Justice and power alone; Let thy soul consider all joyntly, that it may receive amixed impression of all; & this is the holy composi­tion and temper of a Believer, Rejoice with trem­bling, love with fear; let all thy discoveries of him aime at more union & communion with him, who is [...]ch a self-sufficient, al-sufficient and eternal Beeing.

Joh. 4. 24. ‘God is a Spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.’

WE have here something of the Nature of God pointed out to us, & somthing of our [Page 120] duty towards him: God is a spirit, that is his Nature; and man must worship him, that is his duty; & that in spirit & in truth, that is the right manner of the du­ty: if these three were right pondered till they sink in to the bottome of our spirits, they would make us in­deed Christians, not in the Letter, but in the Spirit: That is presupposed to all Christian worship & walk­ing, to know what God is; its indeed, the Primo cognitum of Christianity, the first Principle of true Religion, the very root out of which springs & grows up walking sutably with. & worshipping answerably of a known God. I fear much of our Religion be like the Athenians, They builded an Altar to an unknown God; and like the Samaritanes; Who worshipped they know not what. Such a Worship I know not what it is; when the God worshipped is not known: The two parents of true Religion are, the knowledge of God and of our selves, this indeed is the begin­ning of the fear of God, which the wise Preacher cals the beginning of wisdom: And these two, as they be­get true Religion, so they cannot truly be one with­out the other; It is not many notions and speculations about the Divine nature, it is not high & strained conceptions of God that comprises the true knowledg of him, many think they know something when they can speak of these mysteries in some singular way, and in some tearms removed from common understand­ings, which neither themselves nor others know what they mean; & thus they are presumptuous, self-con­ceited knowing nothing as they ought to know there is a knowledge that puffes up, & there is a knowledge that casts down, a a knowledge in many that doth bu [...] swell them, not grow them; Its but a rumor full of wind, a vain and empty, and f [...]othy knowledge, that is neither good for edifying others, nor saving a man [...] self, a knowledge that a man knows, and reflects upon so, as to ascend upon the height of it, and measure [Page 121] himself by the degrees of it: this is not the true know­ledge of God, which knows not it self, looks not back upon it self, but straight towards God, his holinesse and glory, & our basenesse & misery, and therefore it constrains the soul to be ashamed of it self in such a glorious presence, and to make haste to worship, as Moses, Iob, Isaiah did.

This definition of God, if we did truly understand it, we could not but worship him in another manner. God is a spirit: Many ignorant people form in their own mind some liknesse, and Image of God, who is invisible; you know how ye fancy to your selves some bodily shape, when you conceive of him, you think he is some Reverend and Majestick Person, sitting on a Throne in Heaven; But I beseech you correct your mistakes of him, there is outward idolatry, and there is inward, there is idolatry in action, when men paint or ingrave some similitude of God, & there is Idola­try in imagination, when the fancy and apprehension runs upon some Image, or likenesse of God: The first is among Papists, but I fear the latter be too common among us, & it is indeed all one, to form such [...] similitude in our mind, and to ingrave or paint it without, so that the God whom many of us worship, is not the living and true God, but a painted or graven Idol. When God appeared most visible to the world, [...]s at the giving out of the Law, yet no man did see any liknesse at all, he did not come under the percep­ [...]ion of the most subtile sense, he could not be percei­ved but by the retired understanding, going aside [...]om all things visible, & therefore you do but fancy [...]n idol to your selves in stead of God, when you ap­ [...]rehend him under the likenesse of any visible or sen­ [...]ble thing, & so what ever love, or fear, or reverence [...]ou have, it is all but mispent superstition, the love [...]nd fear of an idol.

1. I know then that God is a Spirit, and therefor [Page 122] he is like none of all these things you see, or hear, or smel, or taste, or touch: The heavens are glorious in­deed, the light is full of glory, but he is not like that. If all your senses should make an inquiry and search for him throughout the world, you should not find him, though he be near hand every one of us yet your eyes and ears, & all your senses might travel the length of the earth, and breadth of the sea, and should not find him, even as you might search all the corners of heaven ere ye could hear or see an Angel; if you saw a man asunder, and resolve him in atomes of dust, yet you could not perceive a soul within him, why? Be­cause these are spirits, and so without the reach of your senses.

II. If God be a Spirit, then he is invisible, & dwels in light inaccessible, which no man hath seen or can see, then ou [...] poor narrow minds tha [...] are drowned, as it were, and immersed into bodies of clay, & in this state of mortality, receives all knowledge of the sen­ses, cannot frame any suitable notion of his spiritual, and abstracted nature: We cannot conceive what our own soul is, but by some sensible operation flowing from it, and the height that our knowledge of that noble part of our selves amounts to, is but this dark & confused conception, that the soul is some inward principle of life, and sense and reason; how then is it possible for us to conceive aright of the divine nature, as it is in it self? but only in a da [...]k & generall way, we guesse at his Majesty, by the glorious emanations of his power, & wisdome, & the rayes thereof which he displayes abroad in all the works of his hands, and from all these concurring testimonies, & evidences of his Majesty, we gather this confused notion of him, that he is the fountain-self-independent being, the o­riginall of all these things, and more absolute in the world, then the soul is in the body, the true Anima, mundi, the very life and the light of men, & the soul [Page 123] that quickens, moves, & forms all this visible world, that makes all things visible, and himself invisible: Therefore it is that the Lord speaks to us in the Scri­pture of himself, according to our capacities, of his face, his right hand & arm, his Throne, his Scep [...]er, his back parts, his anger, his fury, his repentance, his grief, and sorrow; none of which are properly in his spiri­tual, immortall, & unchangeable nature, but because our dulnesse an [...] slownesse in such, in apprehending things spiritual, it being almost without the sp [...]e & comprehension of the soul while in the body, which is almost addicted unto the senses of the body: There­fore the Lord accommodates him [...] unto our termes, and notions; balbutit nobiscum he like a [...] father stammers wi [...]h the stammerin [...] chil [...]ren, speakes to them in their own dialect; but withall would have us conceive he is not really such a one. but infinitely re­moved in his own being f [...]om all these imperfections. So when you hear of these te [...]ms in Scripture, O be­ware ye conceive God to be such a one, as your selves: but in these expressions not beseeming his Majesty, because below him; learn your own ignorance of his glorious Majesty, your dulnesse and incapacity to be such, as the Holy One must come down as it were in some bodily appearance, ere you can understand any thing of him.

III. If God be a Spi [...]it, then he is most perfect, & most powerfull, all imperfection, all infirmity, and weaknesse in the creature, is founded in the grosse & material part of it, you see the more matter and bo­dily substance be in any thing, it is the more lumpish, heavy, and void of all action, it is the more spiritual, pure, and refined part of the creation, that hath most activity in it, and is the principle of all motions, and actions: You see a little flye hath more action in it than a great mountain, because there are spirits in it which move it. The bottom of the world contains [Page 124] the dregs of the Creation, as it were, a masse & lump of heavy earth, but the higher and more distant bo­dies be from that, the more pure and subtile they are, and the more pure & subtile they be, the more acti­on, vertue and efficacy they have; the earth stands like a dead lump, but the sea moves, & the air being thinner and purer than both, moves more easily and swiftly; but go up higher, and still the motion is swifter; and the vertue and influence is the more po­werfull: What is a dead body when the soul and spi­rit is out of it? It hath no more vertue nor efficacy than so much clay; although by the presence of the spirit of it, it was active, agill, swift, strong & nimble; so much then as any thing hath of spirit in it, so much the more perfect and powerfull it is. Then I beseech you consider what a one the God of the spirits of all flesh must be, the very fountain-spirit, the self-being spirit, [...]. When the soul of a man, or the spirit of a horse, hath so much vertue, to stirre up a lump of earth and to quicken it to many diverse ope­rations even though that soul & spirit did not; nay, could not make that piece of earth they dwel in; then what must his power and vertue be, that made all those things? Who gave power and vertue, even to the spirits of all flesh; their horses, saith God, are flesh, and not spirit, Isa. 30. Because, in comparison of his Majesty, the very spirits in them, are but like a dead lump of flesh: If he should draw in his breath (as it were) they would have no more vertue to save the Israelites no [...] so many lumps of flesh or clay; for he is the spirit of all spirits, that quickens, actuates and moves them in their severall operations, & influen­cies. Anima mundi & anima animarum mundi, an Angel hath more power than all men united in one body. Satan is called the Prince of the air, & God of this world, for he hath more efficacy and vertue to commove the air, and raise tempests; then all the [Page 125] swarmes of multiplied mankind, though gathered in­to any army, if the Lord did not restrain and limit his power, he were able to destroy whole Nations at once: An Angel killed many thousands of Sena­cheribs Army in one night; what would many Angels do then, if the Lord pleased to apply them to that work? O what is man that he should magnifie himself, or glory in strength, or skill? Beasts are stronger than men, but mans weaker strength being strengthned with more skil, proves stronger than they; but in re­spect of Angels he hath neither strength nor wisdome.

IV. If God be a Spirit, then he is not circumscri­bed by any place; and if an infinit spirit, then he is every where, no place can include him, and no body can exclude him. He is within all things, yet not in­cluded nor bounded within them, & he is without all things, yet not excluded from them: intra omnia, non tamen inclusus in illis; extra omnia, nec tamen exclu­sus ab all is. You know every body hath its own bounds & limits circumscribed to it, & shoots out all other bo­dily things out of the same space, so that before the least body want some space, it will put all the universe in motion, & make every thing about it to change its place, and possesse another; but a Spirit can passe tho­row all of them, and never desturb them: A Legion may be in one man, & have room enough, If there were a well of Brasse, or Tower, having no Open, nei­ther above, or beneath, no body could enter, but by breaking thorow, and making a breach into it, but an Angel or Spirit could storm it without a breach, and pierce thorow it, without any division of it: How much more doth the Maker of all Spirits fill all in all; the thicknesse of the earth doth not keep him out, nor the largenesse of the heavens contain him: How then do we circumscribe and limit him within the bounds of a publick house, or the heavens? O, how narrow thoughts have we of his immense greatnesse? Who [Page 126] without division or multiplication of himself, fills all the corners of the world, whose indivisible unity is equivalent to an infinite extension, and divisibility: How often, I pray you, do you reflect upon this? God is near hand every one of us. Who of us think of a Di­vine Majesty nearer us than our very souls and consci­ences, in whom we live, and move, and have our being? How is it we move, & think not with wonder of that first Mover, in whom we move? How is it we live & persevere in being, & do not always cōsider this foun­tain-being, in whom we live and have our being. O, the Atheism of many souls prosessing God! We do speak, walk, eat and drink, & go about all our busines­ses, as if we were self-being, & independent of any, never thinking of that all-present quickning Spirit, that acts us, moves us, speaks in us, makes us to walk, and eat and drink, as the barbarous people, who see, hear, speak & reason, and never once reflect upon the principle of all these, to discern a soul within: This is bruitish, & in this, Man, who was made of a straight countenance to look upward to God, & to know him­self and his Maker, till he might be differenced from all creatures below, is degenerated, and become like the beasts that perish. Who of us believes this al­present God? We imagine that he is shut up in hea­ven, and takes no such notice of affairs below: but certainly, he is not so far from us: though he shew more of his glory above, yet he is as present and ob­servant below.

V. If he be a Spirit, then as he is incomprehen­sible and immense in being, so also there is no com­prehension of his knowledge. The nearer any crea­ture come to the nature of a Spirit, the more know­ing and understanding it is; life is the most excellent being, and understanding is the most excellent life. Materia est imers & mertua, the nearer any thing is to the earthly matter, as it hath lesse action, & so lesse [Page 127] life and feeling: Man is nearer an Angel then beasts, and therefore he hath a knowing and understanding Spirit in him. There is a spirit in man, and the more or lesse this spirit of man is abstracted from sen­sual and material things, it lives the more excellent and pure life, and is, as it were, more or lesse deliverd from the chains of the body. These souls that have never risen above, & retired from sensible things. O, how narrow are they, how captivated within the pri­son of the flesh? But when the Lord Jesus comes to set free, he delivers a soul from this bondage, he makes these chains fall off, & leads the soul apart to converse with God himself, and to meditate on things not seen, sin, wrath, hell, and heaven; & the further it goes from it self, & the more abstracted it is from the con­sideration of present things, the more it lives a life like Angels: And therefore, when the soul is separa­ted from the body, it is then perfectly free, and hath the largest extent of knowledge: A mans soul must be almost like Pauls (whether out of the body, or in the body, I know not) if he would understand aright spi­ritual things: Now then, this infinite spirit is an al­knowing spirit, al-seeing spirit, as well as al-present; There is no searching of his understanding, Isa. 40. 28. and Psal. 147. 5. Who hath directed this spirit, or be­ing his counsellour hath taught him? Rom. 11. 34. Isa. 40. 1 [...]. He calls the Generations from the beginning, and known to him are all his works from the begin­ning. O, that you would alwayes set this God before you, or rather set your selves alwayes in his presence, in whose sight you are alwayes: How would it com­pose our hearts to reverence & fear in all our actions, if we did, indeed, believe that the Judge of all the World is an eye-witnesse to our most retired and se­cret thoughts and doings? If any man were as privy to thy thoughts, as thy own spirit and conscience, thou wouldst blush and be ashamed before him: If every [Page 128] one of us could open a window into one anothers spi­rits, I think this assembly should dismisse as quickly as that of Christs, when he bade them that were with­out sin cast a stone at the Woman, we could not look one upon another: O then, Why are we so little ap­prehensive of the al-searching eye of God, who can e­ven declare to us our thought before it be? How much Atheism is rooted in the heart of the most holy? We do not alwayes meditate with David, Psal. 139. on that al-searching and al-knowing spirit, who knows our down-sitting & up-rising, & understands our thoughts a far off, and who is acquainted with all our wayes. O, How would we ponder our path, and examine our words, and consider our thoughts before hand, if we set our selves in the view of such a Spirit, that is with­in us, and without us, before us, and behind us. He may spare sinners as long as he pleases, for there is no escaping from him; you cannot go out of his domini­ons; nay, you cannot run out of his presence, Psal. 7. 8. 9. He can reach you when he pleases, therefore he may delay as long as he pleases.

Joh. 4. 24. GOD is a Spirit, &c.’

THere are two common notions engraved on the hearts of all men by nature, That God is, and that he must be worshipped; and these two live and die together; they are clear, or blotted together. According as the apprehension of God is clear, & di­stinct, and more deeply engraven on the soul; so is this notion of mans duty, of worshipping God, clear & imprinted on the soul; and when ever the actions of men do prove, that the conception of the worship of God is obliterate or worn out; when ever their transgressions do witnesse, that a man hath not a live­ [...]y [...]otion of this duty of Gods worship, that doth al­ [...]o prove, that the very notion of a God-head is worn [Page 129] out, and cancelled in the soul; For, How could souls conceive of God as he is indeed, but they must needs with Moses. Exod. 34 make haste to pray and worship? It is the principle of the very Law of Nature, which shall make the whole world inexcusable, because that when they knew God, they gloriesied him not as God. A Father must have honour, and a Master must have fear, and God who is the common Parent, & absolute Master of all; must have worship, in which reverence and fear mixed with rejoycing and affection, predo­mines: it is supposed, and put beyond all question that it must be: He that worships him, &c. Its not simply said, God is a Spirit & must be worshipped, no, for none can doubt of it. If God be then certainly Wor­ship is due to him, for who is so worshipfull? And be­cause it is so beyond all question, therefore woe to the irreligious world that never puts it in practice: O What excuse can you have, who have not so much as a form of Godlinesse? Do you not know that its be­yond all Controversie, that God must be worshipped? Why then do you deny it in your practice which all men must confesse in their conscience? Is not he God the Lord, a living and self-being Spirit? Then must he not have Worshippers? Beasts are not created for it, it is you O sons of men, whom he made for his own praise and it is not more suteable to your nature than it is honourable and glorious. This is the great digni­ty and excellency you are priviledged with, beyond the brute beasts, to have spirits within you capable of knowing and acknowledging the God of your spirits: Why then do you both rob and spoil God of his glory and cast away your own excellency? Why do you love to trample on your ornaments, and wallow in the puddle, like beasts, void of Religion, but so much worse then beasts, that you ought to be better, & were created for a more noble design. O base spirited wretches, who hang down your souls to this earth, and [Page 130] follow the dictates of your own sense and lust, & have not so much as an externall form of worshipping God; How farre are you come short of the noble design of your Creation, & the high end of your Immortall souls? If you will not worship God, know he will have Worshippers, certainly he will not want it, be­cause he hath designed so many souls to stand before him, and worship him, and that number will not fail: He might indeed, have wanted worshippers; For what advantage is it to him? But in this he declares his love and respect to man, that he will not want ho­nour and service from him: it is rather to put honour upon him, and to make him blessed and happy, than for any gain can amount to himself by it: for this is, in­deed; the true honour and happinesse of man, not to be worshipped and served of other fellow-creatures, but to worship and serve the Creator: This is the highest advancement of a soul, to lye low before him, and to obey him, & have our service accepted of his Majesty: I beseech you, strive about this noble ser­vice. Since he must have Worshippers, O say within your souls, I must be one; if he had but one, I could not be content if I were not that one; since the Fa­ther is seeking Worshippers; ver. 23. O let him find thee. Offer thy self to him, saying, Lord, here am I, Should he seek you, who can have no advantage from you? Should he go about so earnest a search for true VVorshipers, who can have no profite by them? And why do ye not seek him since, since to you all the gain & profite redounds? Shall be seek you to make you happy, and why do ye not seek him, and happinesse in him? It is your own service, I may truly say, and not his so much; for in serving him thou dost rather serve thy self, for all the benefit redounds to thy self, thogh thou must not intend such an end, to serve him for thy self, but for thy names sake, else thou shalt neither ho­nour him, nor advantage thy self. I pray you let him [Page 131] not seek in vain, for in these afflictions he is seeking Worshippers, and if he find you; you are found & sa­ved indeed. Do not then forsake your own mercy, to run from him who follows you with Salvation.

As none can be ignorant that God is, and must be worshipped, so it is unknown to the world in what manner he must be worshipped: the most part of men have some form in worshipping God, & please them­selves in it so well that they think God well-pleased with it; but few there are who know indeed what it is to worship him in a manner acceptable to his Maje­stie: Now you know it is all one not to worship him at all, as not to worship him in that way he likes to be worshipped: Therefore the most part of men are but self-worshippers, because they please none but themselves in it, it is not the worship his soul hath chosen, but their own invention, for you must take this as an undeniable ground, that God must be wor­shipped according to his own will and pleasure, & not according to you [...] humour, or invention; therefore his soul abhorres will-worship, devised by men out of ignorant zeal, or superstition, though there might seem much devotion in it, & much affection to God, as in the Israelits sacrificing their childrē, whatmore seem ing self-denyal? And yet what more real self-idolatry God owns not such a service, for it is not service & obe­dience to his will and pleasure, but to mens own will and humour: therefore a man must not look for a re­ward but from himself. Now it is not only will-wor­ship, when the matter and substance of the worship is not commanded of God, but also when a commanded worship is not discharged in the appointed manner: Therefore, O how few true worshippers will the Fa­ther find? True worship must have Truth, for the substance, and spirit, for the manner of it: else it is not such a worship as the father seeks & will be pleased with; divine worship must have truth in it, that [Page 132] is plain, but what was that truth, it must be conform­ed to the rule & pattern of worship, which is Gods will & pleasure revealed in the word of truth, true worship is the very practise of the word of truth, it caries the I­mage and superscription and command upon it, which is a necessary ingredient in it, and constituent of it. Therefore if thy service have the Image of thy own will stamped on it, it is not divine worship, but will-worship. Thus all humane ceremonies and ordinan­ces enjoyned for service of God, carry the inscription not of God, but of man who is the author and original of them, & so are but adulterated and false Coyn, that will not passe current with God, I fear there be many rites and vain customes among ignorant people in which they place some Religion which have no ground in the word of God, but are only old wives fables and traditions. How many things of that na­ture are used upon a religious account in which God hath placed no Religion: Many have a superstitious conceit of the publick place of worship, as if there were more holinesse in it than in any other house, & so they think their Prayers in the Church are more acceptable then in their Chamber; But Christ refutes that superstitious opinion of places, & so consequent­ly of dayes, meats, and all such externall things: The Jews had a great opinion of their temple, the Sama­ritans of their mountain, as if these places had sancti­fied their services: But saith our Lord, vers. 21. The hour cometh when yee shall neither worship in this mountain. &c. but its any where acceptable, if so be ye worship in spirit and truth: Many of you account it Religion, to pray & mutter words of your own in the time of publick prayer, but who hath required this at your hand? If you would pray your selves, go apart shut the door behind thee saith Christ: private prayer should be in private, and secret: But when publick prayer is, your hearts should close with the petitions [Page 133] and offer them up joyntly to God, it is certainly a great slight of that deceitful destroyer, the Devill, to possesse your minds with an opinion of Religion, in such vain bablings, that he may with-draw both your ears & your hearts from the publick worship of God, for when every one is busied with his own prayers, you cannot at all joyn in the publick service of God, which is offered up in your name: The like I may say of stupid forms of prayer, & tying your selves to a plat-form, written in a book, or to some certain words gotten by the heart, who hath commanded this? Sure not the Lord, who hath promised his spirit to teach them to pray and help their infirmities, who know not how, nor what to pray: it is a device of your own invented by Satan to quench the spirit it of supplication, which should be the very naturall breathing of a chri­stian. But there are some so grossely ignorant, of what prayer is; that they make use of the ten commands, & Beleef as a Prayer: so void are they of the knowledge and spirit of God, that they cannot discern betwixt Gods commands to themselves & their own requests to God betwixt his speaking to men, and their speak­ing to him, between their professing of him before men, and praying and confessing to him, all this is but forged imaginary worship, worship falsly so called which the Father seeks not and receives not.

But what if I should say that the most part of your worship, even that which is commanded of God, as Prayer, Hearing, Reading, &c hath no truth in it, I should say nothing amiss, for though you doe those things that are commanded; yet not as Commanded, without any respect to divine appointment, & only because you have received them as traditions from your fathers, and because you are taught so by the precepts of men, and are accustomed so to do, there­fore the stamp of Gods will and pleasure is not engra­ven on them, but of your own will, or of the will of [Page 134] men; Let me pose your Consciences, many of you, what difference is there between your praying & your plowing, between your hearing and your harrowing, between your reading of the Scriptures and your rea­ping in the Harvest, between your Religious Ser­vice and your common ordinary actions, I say, what difference is in the rise of these? You do many civill things out of custome or because of the Precepts of men & is there any other principle at the bottom of your religious performances? Do you at all consider these are divine appointments, these have a stamp of his authority on them, and from the Conscience of such an immediat command of God, and the desire to please him and obey him, do you go about these? I fear many cannot say it. O I am sure all cannot, thogh it may be all will say it: therefore your religious wor­ship can come in no other account, than will-worship or man-worship, it hath not the stamp of truth on it, an express conformity to the truth of God as his truth.

But we must presse out this a little more. Truth is opposed to a ceremony & shadow. The ceremonies of old were shadows, or the external body of Religion, in which the soul and spirit of godlinesse should have been enclosed, but the Lord did alwaies urge more earnestly the substance and truth, then the ceremony the weightier matters of the Law, Piety, equity, and sobriety, than these lighter external Ceremonies: he sets an higher account upon mercy then sacrifice, & u­pon obedience then Ceremonies, but this people tur­ned just contrary; they summed up all their Religion in some ceremonial performance, and separated those things, God had so nearly conjoyned; they would be devout men in offering sacrifices in their washings in their rites, and yet made no conscience of heart, and Soul-piety toward God, & upright just dealing with men: Therefore the Lord so often quarrels them & rejects all their service as being adevice and inven­tion [Page 135] of their own, which never entred in his heart. Isa. 1. from 10. to 16. Ier. 7. throughout. Isa. 66. to 6. Isa, 28. Now if you will examine it impartially it is even just so with us, there are some externall things in Religion which in comparison with the weightier things of faith, and obedience are but cere­monial; in these you place the most part, if not all your Religion, and think your selves good Christi­ans, if you be baptized and hear the Word, and par­take of the Lords table and such like, though in the mean time you be not given to secret prayer, & read­ing, and do not inwardly judge and examine your selves, that you may flee unto a Mediator; thogh your conversation be unjust and scandalous among men; I say unto such souls, as the Lord to the Jews, Who hath required this at your hands? who commanded you to hear the VVord, to be baptized, to wait on publick Ordinances? Away with all this, it is abomination to his Majesty though it please you never so well, the more it displeases him; If you say, why commands he us to hear? &c. I say the Lord never commanded these external Ordinances for the sum of true Reli­gion; that was not the great thing which was in his heart that he had most pleasure unto, but the weigh­tier matters of the Law, piety, equity & sobriety; a holy and godly conversation adorning the Gospell: What hath the Lord required of thee, but this, O man, To do justly, and walk humbly with thy God? So then thou dost not worship him in Truth, but in shadow; the Truth is holinesse and righteousnesse; that ex­ternall profession is but a Ceremony; while you sepa­rate these external Ordinances from these weighty duties of piety & justice, that they are but as dead bo­dy without a soul. If the Lord required truth of old, much more now, when he hath abolished the multi­tude of Ceremonies, that the great things of his Law may be more seen and loved.

[Page 136] If you would then be true worshippers, look the whole mind of God, & especially the chief pleasure of Gods mind, that which he most delights into, and by any means do not separate what God hath conjoy­ned, do not divide righteousness towards men, from a profession of holiness to God, else it is but a falshood, a counterfeit coyn; do not please your selves, so much in externall Church priviledges, without a holy and godly conversation adorning the Gospel; but let the chief study, endeavour & delight of your souls be a­bout that, which God most delights into, let the sub­stantials of Religion have the first place in the soul, Pray more in secret, that he will be the life of your souls, you ought indeed to attend publick ordinances, but above all, take heed to your conversation & walk­ing at home, and in secret, prayer in your Family is a more substantiall worship, then to sit & hear prayer in publick, and prayer in secret is more substantiall then that: The more retired and immediate a duty be, the more weighty it is, the more it crosse thy cor­ruptions; and evidence the stamp of God on thy af­fections, the more divine it is; And therefore to serve God in these, is to serve him in truth. Practice hath more of truth in it then a profession, When your Fathers executed judgement, was not this to know me? Duties that have more opposition from our natures a­gainst them: and lesse sewel or oyl to feed the flame of our self love and corruption, have more truth in them; and if you should worship God in all other duties, and not especially in those, you do not wor­ship him in truth.

Next, let us consider the manner of Divine Wor­ship: And this is as needfull to true Worship as true matter, that it be commanded, and done as it is com­manded, that compleats true worship. Now, I know no better way, or manner to worship God in; than so to worship him as our worship may carry the stamp [Page 137] of his Image upon it, as it may be a glasse wherein we may behold Gods Nature and Properties: For such as himself is, such he would be acknowledged to be, I would think it were true worship indeed, which had engraven on it the Name of the true & living God, if it did speak out so much of it self, That God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him diligently. Most part of our service speaks an unknown God, & carries such an inscription upon it, To the unknown God: There is so little either reverence, or love, or fear, or knowledge in it, as if we did not worship the true God, but an Idoll. It is said, that the fool sayes in his heart that there is no God, because his thoughts and affections, and actions, are so little composed to the fear and likenesse of that God, as if he did indeed, plainly deny him; I fear it may be said thus of our Worship; It sayes, There is no God; it is of such a nature, that none could conclude from it that it had a­ny relation to the true God, our prayers denie God, because there is nothing of God appears in them; But this is true worship, when it renders back to God his own Image and Name: Unde repercussus redditur ipse sibi. As it is a poor & clean Fountain, in which a man may see his shaddow distinctlie, but a troubled fountain or myre in which he cannot be hold himself; So it is pure worship, which receives and reflects the pure Image of God, but impure and unclean worship; which cannot receive it, and retain it. I pray you Christians, consider this; for it is such Worshippers the Father seeks; and why seeks he such? But because in them he finds himself (so to speak:) His own I mage and superscription is upon them, His mercy is­engraven on their faith & confidence; His Majestie & power is stamped on their humility and reverence; His goodnesse is to be read on the souls rejoicing, His Greatnesse and Justice in the souls trembling. Thus there ought to be some engravings on the soul [Page 138] answering the Characters of his glorious Name. O how little of this is among them that desire to know something of God? How little true Worship, even among them whom the Father hath sought out to make true Worshippers? But alas! How are all of us unacquainted with this kind of Worship? We stay upon the first principles & practices of Religion, and go not on to build upon the foundation: Sometimes your Worship hath a stamp of Gods holinesse and ju­stice, in fear & terrour at such a Majesty which makes you to tremble before him: But where is the stamp of his mercy & grace which should be written in your faith and rejoycing? Tremble and fear indeed, but rejoyce with trembling, because there is mercy with him: Sometime their is rejoycing and quietnesse in the soul, but that quickly degenerates into carnal con­fidence, & makes the soul turn grace into wantonness, and esteem of it self above what is right, because it is not counterpoised with the sense and apprehension of his holinesse and justice. But, O to have these joynt­ly written on the heart, in worship, fear, reverence, confidence, humility and faith! That is a rare thing, it is a divine composition and temper of spirit that makes a divine soul: For the most part, our Worship savours and smels nothing of God, neither his power, nor his mercy and grace, nor his holinesse and justice, nor his majesty and glory; a secure, saint, formal way, void of reverence, of humility, of servency, and of faith: I beseech you, let us consider, as before the Lord, how much pains and time we lose, and please none but our selves, & profit none at all: Stir up your selves as in his sight; for it is the keeping of our souls continually as in his sight, which will stamp our ser­vice with his likenesse: The fixed and constant me­ditation of God and his glorious properties, this will beget the resemblance between our worship, and the God whom we worship, and it will imprint his Image [Page 139] upon it, & then it should please him, & then it should profit thee, and then it should edifie others,

But more particularly, The Worship must have the stamp of Gods spiritual Nature, and be conform­ed to it in some measure, else it cannot please him: There must be a conformity between God and souls; this is the great end of the Gospel, to repair that Image of God which was once upon man, and make him like God again: Now, it is the way that Jesus Christ re­pairs this Image, & brings about this conformity with God; by the souls worshipping of God sutable to his Nature, it is the more and more like God, and happy in that likenesse. Now, God is a Spirit, therefore (saith Christ) you must worship him in spirit & truth. The worship then of Saints must be of a spiritual na­ture, that it may be like the immortal divine Spirit: It is such Worshippers the Father seeks; he seeks souls to make them like himself, and this likenesse and conformity to God is the very foundation of the souls happinesse, and eternall refreshment.

This is a point of great consequence, &, I fear, not laid to heart. The Worship must be like the Wor­shipped. It is a Spirit must Worship the Eternal Spi­rit, it is not a body that can be the principle and chief Agent in the businesse: What Communion can God have with your bodies, while your souls are removed far from him, more than with beasts? All society and fellowship must be between those that are like one a­nother: A man can have no comfortable company with Beasts, or with Stones, and Trees: It is men that can converse with men; and a Spirit must worship the self-being-spirit. Do not mistake this, as if un­der the dayes of the Gospel we were not called to an external and bodily Worship, to any service to which our outward man is instrumentall; this is one of the deep delusions of this Age, into which some men, re­probate [...] the Faith, hath fallen, That there [Page 140] should be no externall Ordinances, but that Christi­ans are now called to worship all Spirit, pure Spirit, &c. This is one of the Spirits, & spiritual Doctrines (that call themselves so) which ye must not receive; for it is neither spirit of God, nor of Christ, that teach­eth this: nor the spirit of God the Creator, because he hath made the whole man, body and soul, and so must be worshipped of the whole man: He hath crea­ted man in such a capacity, as he may offer up exter­nal actions in a reasonable manner with the inward affections; as the Lord hath created him so he should serve him: every member, every part in its own ca­pacity; the soul to preceed, and the body to follow; the soul to be the chief worshipper, and the body its servant imployed in the worship: True worship hath a body and a soul as well as a true man; and as the soul separated is not a compleat man, so neither is the soul separated a compleat worshipper without the body; the external Ordinances of God is the body, the inward soul-affection is the Spirit, which being joyned toge­ther makes compleat worship. Neither is it the Spi­rit of Christ which teacheth this, because our Lord Jesus hath taught us to offer up our bodies and spirits both in a reasonable service, Rom. 12. 1, 2. The sa­crifice of the bodily performance, offered up by the spiritual affection, and renewed mind is a living sa­crifice, holy, acceptable and reasonable: That spirit which dwelt in Christ, above measure, did not think it too base to vent it self in the way of externall Or­dinances: He was indeed above all, above the Law, yet did willingly come under them to teach us, who have so much need and want to come under them: He prayed much, he preached, he did sing and read, to teach us how to worship, and how much need we have of Prayer and Preaching: This was not the Spirit Christ promised to his Disciples, and Apo­stles, which spirit did breath most lively in the use of [Page 141] the external Ordinances, all their dayes; and this is not the spirit which was at the hour in which Christ spoke, The hour is come; and now is, ver. 23. in which the true worship of God shal not be in the external and Jewish Ceremonies, and rites, void of all life and in­ward sense of Piety, but the true worship of God shal be made up of a soul and body, of spirit and truth, of the external appointed Ordinances according to the word of truth, and the spirit of truth, and of the spi­rit and inward soul-affection and sincerity which shal quicken and actuate that external performance: There were no such worshippers then as had no use of Ordi­nances, Christ was not such, his Disciples were not such, therefore it is a new Gospel, which if an Angel should bring from heaven ye ought not to re­ceive it.

As it is certain then, that both soul and body must be imployed in this businesse, so it is sure that the soul & spirit must be the first mover, and chiefest agent in it, because it is a spiritual businesse, and hath relation to the fountain-spirit, which hath the most perfect op­position to all false appearances, and externall shews: that part of man that commeth nearest God, must draw near in worshipping of God, & if that be remo­ved far away, there is no real communion with God; man judges according to the outward appearance, and can reach no further than the outward man, but God is an all-searching spirit who tryeth the heart and rins, and therefore he will passe another judgement upon your worship then men can do, because he ob­serves all the secret wandrings and escapes of the heart out of his sight, he misses the soul when you present attentive ears, or eloquent tongues, there is no dally­ing with his Majesty, painting will not deceive him, his very Nature is contrary to Hypocrisie & dissi­mulation, and what is it but dissimulation, when you present your selves to Religious exercises as his peo­ple, [Page 142] but within are nothing like it, nothing awaking; nothing present? O consider, my beloved, what a one you have to do with! It is not men, but the Father of Spirits; who will not be pleased with what pleases men of your own flesh, but must have a spirit to serve him. Alas what are we doing with such empty names and shews in Religion? Busied in the outside of wor­ship only, as if we had none to do with but men who have eyes of flesh, all that we do in this kind is lost la­bour, and will never be reckoned up in the account of true worship: I am sure you know and may reflect upon your selves, that you make Religion but a mat­ter of outward fashion and externall custome, you have never almost taken to heart in earnest, you may frequent the Ordinances, you may have a form of godlinesse, consisting in some outward performances & priviledges, and O! how void and destitute of all Spirit and Life; and Power? not to speak of the remo­vall of affection, and the imploying of the marrow of your soul upon base lusts, and creatures, or the scatte­ring of your desires abroad amongst them, for that is too palpable; but even your very thoughts & mind [...] are removed from this busines, you have nothing pre­sent but an ear, or eye, & your minds is about other businesse, your desires, your fears, your joyes, and de­lights, your affections never did run in the channel of religious exercises, all your passion is vented in other things, but here you are blockish & stupid, without any sensible apprehension of God, his mercy, or Ju­stice, or wrath, or of your own misery and want. You sorrow in other things but none here; none for sin; you joy for other things but none here, you cannot re­joyce at the Gospel. Prayer is a burthen, not a delight, if your spiri [...]s were chiefly imployed in Religious du­ties, Religion would be almost your Element, your pleasure and Recreation, but now it is wearisome to the flesh, because the Spirit taketh not the chief [Page 143] weight upon it. Oh, be not deceived! God is not mocked, you do but mock your selves with exter­nal showes while you are satisfied with them: I beseech you look inwardly and be not satisfied with the outward appearance, but ask at thy Soul, where it is; and how it is: Retire within, and bring up thy spirit to this work: I am sure you may ob­serve that any thing goes more smoothly and sweetly with you, then the Worship of God, because your mind is more upon any thing else, I fear the most part of us who endeavour to some measure, to seek God, have too much drosse of outward formality, & much scumof filthy hypocrisie and guile. O, pray that the present furnace may purge away this scum! It is the great ground of Gods present controversie with Scot­land; but alas, the Bellows are like to burn, & we not be purged, our scum goes not from us, we satisfie our selves with some outward exercises of Religion, cu­stome undoes us all, & it was never more undoing then vvhen indignation and vvrath is pursuing it: O that you vvould ponder vvhat you lose by it, both the sweetnesse and advantage of godlinesse, beside the dis­honour of God: You take a formall, neglegent, and secure vvay, as the most easie vvay, and the most plea­sing to your flesh, and I am perswaded you find it the most difficult vvay, because you vvant all the pleasant & sweet refreshment, & soul-delights you might have in God, by a serious and diligent minding of Religi­on. The pleasure and sweetnesse of God tasted and found, vvill make diligence and pains more easie, then slothfulnes can be to the slothfull; this oyls the wheels, and makes them run swiftly; formality makes them drive heavily: thus you live alwayes in a complain­ing humor, fighing and going backward, because you have some stirring principles or conscience vvithin, vvhich bears vvitnesse against you; and your formall sluggish disposition on the other hand, refuseth to a­wake [Page 144] and work you are perplexed and tormented be­tween the two, when thy spirit and affections goes one way, & thy body another; then thy conscience drives on the Spirit, and thy affections draw back, it must needs be an unpleasant businesse.

Deut. 6. 4. ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.’ 1 Joh. 5. 7. ‘There are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.’

GReat is the mystery of Godlinesse, 1 Tim. 3. 16. Religion and true Godlinesse is a bundle of excellent mysteries, of things hid from the world; yea, from the wise men of the world, 1 Cor. 2. and not on­ly so, but secrets in their own nature, the distinct know ledge whereof is not given to Saints in this estate of distance and absence from the Lord: There is almost nothing in Divinity, but it is a mystery in it self, how common soever it be in the apprehensions of men: for it is mens overly, and common, and slander appre­hensions of thē, which makes them look so common­ly upon them: there is a depth in them, but you will not know it, till you search it, & sound it, & the more you sound, you shal find it the more profound: But there are some mysteries smal, and some great, there is a difference amongst them, all are not of one sta­tu [...]e, of one measure: The mystery of Christs Incar­nation and D [...]ath, and Resurrection, is one of the great mysteries of Religion, God manifested in the flesh, yet I conceive there is a greater mystery than it, and of all mysteries in nature or divinity, I know none to this, the Holy Trinity, and it must needs be grea­test of all, and without controversie greatest, because it is the beginning and end of all, fons & finis omni­um, all mysteries have their rise here, and all of them [Page 145] return hither. This is furthest removed from the understandings of men, what God himself is, for him­self is infinitly above any manifestation of himself: God is greater than God manifested in the flesh, though in that respect he be too great for us to con­ceive. There is a naturall desire in all men to know, and if any thing be secret and wonderfull, the desire is more inflamed after the knowledge of it, the very dif­ficulty or impossibility of attaining it, in stead of re­straining the curiosity of mans spirit, doth rather in­cense it. Nitimur in vetitum is the fruit, the sad fruit we plucked and eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. If the Lord reveal any thing plainly in his Word to men, that it despised and set at naught, because it is plain, whereas the most plain truths, which are beyond all controversie, are the most neces­sary and most profitable for our eternal salvation; but if there be any secret mystery in the Scriptures, which the Lord hath only pointed out more obscurely to us, reserving the distinct and clear understanding of it to himself, Deut. 29. 26. that is the Apple which our cursed natures will long for, and catch after, though there be never so much choice of excellent saving fruit in the Paradise of the Scriptures besides. If the Ark be covered to keep men from looking into it, that doth rather provoke the curious spirit of man to prye into it, 1 Sam. 6. 19. If the Lord shew his wonderfull glory in the Mount, & charge his people not to come near, left the glorious presence of God kill them, he must put rayles about it, to keep them back, or else they will be medling, such is the unbridled licence of our minds, and the perverse dispositions of our natures that where God familiarly invites us to come, what he earnestly presseth us to search and know, that we despise as trivial and common: and what he compas­seth about with a divine darkness of inaccessible light, and hath removed far from the apprehensions of all [Page 146] living that we will needs search into, and wander into those forbidden compasses; with daring boldnesse. I conceive this holy and profound mysterie is one of those secrets which belongs to God to know, for who knowes the Father but the Son, or the Son but the Father or who knoweth the mind of God but the Spirit? Yet the foolish minds of men will not be satisfied with the believing ignorance of such a mysterie, but will needs enquire into those depths, that they may find satisfaction for their reason, but as it hapeneth with men who will boldly stare upon the Sun, their eyes are dazled and darkned with its brightnesse; or those that enter into a Labyrinth, which they can find no way to come out, but they further go into it, the more perplexed it is, and the more intricate; even so it be­falls many unsober and presumptuous spirits, who not being satisfied with the simple truth of God, clearly asserting that this is, endeavour to examine it accor­ding to reason, and to solve all the objections of car­nal wit and reason (which is often enmity to God) not by the silence of the Scriptures; but by answers framed according to the severall capacities of men, I say all this is but daring to behold the infinite glo­rie of God with eies of flesh, which makes them dark­ned in mind, and vanishing in their Expressions, while they seek to behold the inaccessible light, while they enter into an endlesse Labyrinth of difficulties; out of which the threed of reason and disputation can never extricat them or lead them forth. But the Lord has shewed us a more excellent way, though it be more despicable to men: man did fal from his blessed­nes, by this curious and wretched aime at some higher happinesse, and more wisdom. The Lord hath chosen another way to raise him up again by faith, rather thā knowledge, by believing rather than disputing: there­fore the great command of the Gospell is this, to re­ceive with a ready and willing mind whatsoever the [Page 147] Lord saith to us, whatsoever it may appear to sense & reason; to dispute no more, to search no more into the secret of Divine mysteries, as if by searching we could find them out unto perfection, but to believe what is spoken, till the day break, and the shadows flee away, and the darknesse of ignorance be wholly dispelled by the rising of the Sun of Righteousnesse. We are called then to receive this truth that God is one, truly one, and there are three in this one, the Father, the Son; and the Holy Ghost: This I say, you must believe, be­cause the wisdom of God faith it, though you know not how it is, or how it can be, though it seem a con­tradiction in reason, a Trinity in Unity, yet you must lead your reason captive to the obedience of faith; & silence it with this one answer, The Lord hath said it: If thou go on to dispute and to enquire how can these things be? Thou art escaped from under the power of Faith, and are fled unto the tents of humane wisedom where thou mayest learn artheism but no Religion: for the world through wisedom knew not God. 1 Cor. 1. And certainly who ever he be that will not quiet his conscience upon the bare word of truth in this parti­cular, but will call in for the help of reason and dispu­tation, how to understand and maintain it; I think he shall be further from the true knowledge of God, and satisfaction of mind than before; There is no way here, but to flee into Pauls Sanctuary. Who art thou O man; that disputes? When ever thou thinks within thy self; How may this be, how can one be three, and three one, then withall let this of Pauls sound in thine ears, Who art thou, O man who disputes? Think that thou art man, think that he is God: Believing igno­rance is much better than rash & presumptuous know­ledge; ask not a reason of these things but rather adore and tremble at the mysterie and Majesty of them. Christianity is foolishnesse to the world upon this ac­count, because it's an Implicite faith (so to speak) gi­ven [Page 148] to God; but there is no fear of being deceived; though he lead thee blind by a way thou know not, yet he cannot lead thee wrong. This holy simplicity in believing every word of God, & trusting without more trying by disputation, is the very Character of Chri­stianity, and it will be found only true wisdome; for if any will become wise, he must be a fool in mens ac­count; that he may be wise, he must quite his reason to learn true Religion, which indeed is a more excel­lent and divine reason, neither is it contrary to it, though it be high above it.

In this place of Moses, you have the Unity of God asserted, The Lord thy God is one Lord; And that is indeed engraven on the very hearts of men by nature, That God is One: for all may know that the common notion and apprehension of God, is, that he is a most perfect being; the Originall of all things, most wise, most powerfull, & infinite in all perfections. Now common reason may tell any man that there can bee but one thing most perfect & Excellent, there can be but one infinite, one Almighty, one beginning and end of all, one first mover, one first cause, of whom are all things, and who is of none.

Again, in this place of Iohn ye have a Testimony of the blessed Trinitie of Persons, Father, Son, and holy Ghost, in that holy Unity of Essence; The great point which Iohn hath in hand, is this fundamentall of our Salvation, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God & Saviour of the World, in whom all our confidence should be placed, and upon whom we should lean the weight of our souls, & this he proves by a twofold te­stimony, one out of Heaven, another in the Earth; There are three bearing witnesse to this truth in hea­ven, The Father, the word (that is) Jesus Christ the e­ternal Son of God, whom this Apostle calls the word of God, or wisdom of God. Ioh. 1. 1. and the Holy Ghost. The Father witnessed to this truth in an audi­ble [Page 149] voice out of Heaven when Christ was baptized, Mat. 3. 17. This is my wel-belovd Son, hear him; here's the Fathers Testimony of the Son when he was bap­tized, which was given very solemnly in a great con­gregation of people, and divinely with great glory and Majesty from Heaven; as if the heavens had opened upon him; and the inaccessible light of God had shin­ed down on him, which was confirmed in the transfi­guration. Mat. 17. 5. VVhere the Lord gave a glori­ous evidence, to the astonishment of the three Dis­ciples, how he did account of him, how all Saints and Angels must serve him; Him hath God the Father sea­led, saith Iohn. Indeed the stamp of divinitie of the divine Image, in such an excellent manner upon the man Christ, was a Seal set on by God the Father, sig­nifying & confirming his approbation of his well-be­loved Son, and of the work he was going about. Then the Son himself did give ample Testimony of this, this was the subject of his Preaching to the VVorld, I am the light and life of men. He that beleeveth on mee shall be saved, and therefore he may be called the word of God, and the wisedom of God. Joh. 1. 1. Prov. 8. Be­cause he hath revealed unto us the blessed mysterie of Wisdom concerning our Salvation; He is the very expression and Character of the Fathers person, and Glory. Heb. 1. In his own Person, and he hath revea­led and expressed his Fathers mind, and his own Of­fice so fully to the World, that there should be no more doubt of it. Out of the mouth of these two wit­nesses, this Word might be established: But for super­abundance, behold a third, the Holy Ghost witnessing at his baptisme, in his Resurrection, after his Ascensi­on, the Holy Ghost signifieth his presence and con­sent to that work, in the similitude of a Dove, the Holy Ghost testified it in the power that raised him from the dead, the Holy Ghost put it beyond all que­stion when he descended upon the Apostles according [Page 150] to Christs promise. For the other three witnesses on earth, we shal not stay upon it, only know that the work of the regeneration of souls by the power of the word and spirit signified by water, the justification of guilty souls signified by the blood of Jesus Christ, & the Testimony of the spirit in our Conscience bear­ing witnesse to our Spirits, is an assured Testimony of this, that Jesus Christ in whom we believe, is the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. The changing, pacifying and comforting of souls, in such a wonderfull manner, cryes aloud, that he in whom the soul believes is the true and living God, whom to know is eternal life. But mark I pray you, the accu­racy of the Apostle in the change of the speech, these three witnesses on earth (saith he) agree in one, in gi­ving one common testimony to the Son of God, and Saviour of Sinners: But as for the heavenly witnesses the Father, the Word and Holy Ghost, how ever they be three after an inconceivable manner, & that they do also agree in one common Testimony to the Me­diator of men, yet moreover they are one, They not only agree in one, but are one God, one simple undi­vided self-being infinite Spirit, holden out to us in three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to whom be praise and glory.

Deut. 6. 4. and Ioh. 5. 7.

ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God & it is profitable for instruction, for direction, &c. There is no refuse in it: no simple and plain History, but it tends to some edification, no profound or deep mysterie, but it is profitable for Salvation; whatsoe­ver secrets there be in the mysteries of God, which is reserved from us, though it be given us but to know in part, & darkly thorow a vail, yet as much is given us to know as may make the man of God perfect in every [Page 151] good work, as much is given us to know as may build us up to eternall salvation: if there were no more use of these deep mysteries of the Holy Trinity, &c. but to silence all flesh, & restrain the unlimited spirits of men, and keep them within the bounds of Sobriety and Faith, It were enough: That great secret would teach as much by its silence & darknesse, as the plain­er truths do speak out clearly: O that this great my­stery did compose our hearts to some reverend & aw­full apprehension of that God we have to do with, & did imprint in our soul a more feeling sense of our darknesse, and ignorance; this were more advantage than all the gain of light, or increase of knowledge than can come from the search of curiosity: If men would labour to walk in that light they have attained, rather than curiously enquire after what they cannot know by enquiry, they should sooner attain more true light, if men would set about the practice of what they know, without doubt they would more readily come to a resolution & clearnesse in doubtful things. Religion is now turned into questions & School-de­bates; Men begin to believe nothing, but dispute eve­ry thing, under a pretence of searching for light and resolution, but for the most part while men look after light, they darken themselves, & this is the righteous judgement of the Lord upon the world, that doth not receive the truth in love, or walk in the light of what they have already attained, therefore he gives men up to wander in their search into the dark dungeons of humane wisdome and fancy, and to lose what they have already. If those things which are without all Controversie (as the Apostle speaks. 1 Tim. 3. 16.) were indeed made conscience of, and imbraced in love and practised, it were beyond all controversie, that the most part of present controversies would cease: But it fals out with many, as with the dog, that catch­ing at a shadow in the water, lost the substance in his [Page 152] teeth; so they pursuing after new discoveries in con­traverted things, and not taking a heart-hold and in­ward grip of the substantiall truths of the Gospell, which are beyond all controversie do even lose what they have. Thus, Even that which they have not is taken from them, because though they have it in judg­ment; yet they have it not surely and solidly in affe­ction, that it may be holden: So, to this present point, if we could learn to adore and admire this Holy, Holy, Holy One; If we could in silence and faith sit down and wonder at this mysterie, it would be more profi­table to us, and make way for a clearer manifestation of God, than if we should search and enquire into all the Volums that are written upon it, thinking by this means to satisfie our reason. I think there is more profoundnesse in the sobriety of Faith than in the depths of humane wisdome and learning, when the mysterie is such an infinite depth, O, but mens elo­quence and wisedom must be shallow, far too shallow either to find it out; or unfold it.

But there is yet both more instruction and conso­lation to be pressed out of this mysterie; and there­fore, If you cannot reach it in it self, O consider what it concerns us, how we may be edified by it, for this is true Religion. Look upon that place of Moses, what is the great instruction he draws from this unity of Gods Essence. v. 5. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; Since God is one, then have no God but one, and that the true and living God, and this is the very first command of God, which flowes as it were immediatly from his absolute Onenesse and perfection of Beeing: There is no man but he must have some God, that is something whereupon he placeth his affection most; every man hath some one thing he loves, and respects beyond all other things, some Lord and Master that commands him, therefore saith Christ, No man can serve two Masters; [Page 153] before a man will want God to love and serve, he will make them, and then worship them: yea he will make himself his belly, his back, his honour & pleasure, a God, and sacrifice all his affections and desires, and endeavours to these: The naturall subordination of man to God, the relation he hath as a Creature to a Creator, is the first & fundamentall relation, beyond all respects to himself, or other fellow-creatures. This is the proto-naturall Obligation upon the Creature, therefore it should have returned in a direct line to his Majesty all its affections and endeavours: But mans Fall from God hath made a wretched throw & cr [...]ok in the soul, that it cannot look any more after him, but bows downward towards creatures below, or bends inwardly towards it self, & so since the Fall, man hath turned his heart from the true God, & set it upon va­nity, upon lying vanities, upon base dead Idols, which can neither help him nor hurt him; your hearts are gone a whoring from God, O that ye would believe it, none of you will deny, but ye have broken all the Commands, yet such is the brutish ignorance & stu­pidity of the most part, that you will not confesse that, when it comes to particulars; and especially, if you should be challenged for loving other things more than God, or having other Gods besides the true God, you will instantly deny it, & that with an asseve­ration & aversation, God forbid that I have another God: Alas! this shews, that what you confesse in the generall is not believed in the heart, but only is like the parting of children, whom you may learn to say any thing? I beseech you consider that what you give your time, pains, thoughts, and affections to, that is your God; you must give God all your heart, and so retain nothing of your own will if God be your God, but do ye not know that your care, and grief, and desire, and love, vents another way towards base things? You know, that you have a will of your own, [Page 154] which goeth quite contrary to his holy vvill in all things, therefore Sathan hath bewitched you, & your hearts deceive you, when they perswade you that you have had no other God but the true God. Christia­nity raises the soul again, and advances it by degrees to this love of God, from which it had fallen; the soul returns to its first husband, from vvhom it vvent a­whooring, & now the stamp of God is so upon it, that it is changed into his Image and glory, having tasted how good this one self-sufficient-good is, it gladly & easily divorces from all other Lovers; it renounces formall lusts of ignorance, and now begins to live in a­nother; Love transplants the soul into God, and in him it lives, and vvith him it vvalks: It's true, this is done gradually, there is much of the heart yet unbro­ken to this sweet and easie yoke of love, much of the corrupt nature untamed, unreclaimed, yet so much is gained by the first conversion of the soul to God, that all is given up to him in affection and desire; he hath the chief place in the soul, the disposition of the Spirit hath some stamp and impression of his Onenesse & singularity: My beloved is one: Though a Chri­stian is not wholly rid of strange Lords, yet the tye of subjection to them is broken; they may often intrude by violence upon him, but he is in an hostile posture of affection, and endeavour against them. I beseech you, since the Lord is one, and there is none beside him. O, let this be engraven on your hearts, that your inward affections and outward actions may expresse that one Lord to be your God, and none other beside him: It is a great shame and reproach to Christians, that they do not carry the stamp of the first Principle of Religion upon their walking, the condition & con­versation of many declares how little account they make of the true God, vvhy do ye enslave your souls to your lusts & the service of the flesh, if ye believe in this one God? Why do ye all things to please your [Page 155] selves, if this one Lord be your God? As for you the Israel of God who are called by Jesus Christ to par­take with the Common-Wealth of Israel, in the Co­venant of promises, hear, I beseech you, this, and let your souls incline to it, and receive it. Your God is one Lord; have then, no other Lords over your souls and consciences; not your selves, not others.

But in the next place let us consider to what pur­pose John leads such three witnesses, that we may draw some consolation from it. The thing testified and witnessed unto, is the ground-work of all a Christians hope and consolation, that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, and Saviour of the World, one able to save to the utmost all that put their trust in him, so that every soul that finds it self lost, and not able to subsist nor abide the judgement of God, may repose their confidence in him, and lay the weight of their eternal well-fare upon his death & sufferings, with as­surance to find rest and peace in him to their souls. He is such a one as faith may triumph in him over the world, & all things be [...]de: A Beleever may triumph in his victory, and in the faith of his victory, over hell and death, and the grave, many overcome personally, for this is our victory over the world, even our faith, vers. 4. And how could a soul conquer by Faith, if he in whom it believes were not declared to be the Son of God with power, there is nothing so mean & weakly as Faith in it self, its a poor despicable thing of it self, and that it sees, and that it acknowledges; yea, faith is a very act of its self denyall, its a renouncing of all help without and within it self, save only that which is laid on Christ Jesus; therefore it were the most unsuitable mean of prevailing, and the most in­sufficient weapon for gaining the victory, if the ob­ject of it were not the strong God, the Lord Almigh­ty, from whom it derives and borrows all its power & vertue, either to pacifie the conscience, or to expiate [Page 156] sin, or to overcome the world. Oh! consider Chri­stians where the foundation of your hope is scituated, it is in the divine power of our Saviour, if he who de­clared so much love & good-will to sinners, by becom­ing so low, & suffering so much, have also all power in Heaven and Earth, if he be not only man near us, to make for us boldnesse of accesse, but God near God, to prevail effectually with God, then certainly he is asure foundation laid in Sion, elect and precious; he is an unm oveable Rock of ages, whosoever trusts their soul to him shal not be ashamed. I am sure that many of you considers not this, that Christ Jesus who was in due time born of the Virgin Mary, & died for sinners, is the eternall Son of God, equall to his Fa­ther in all glory and power. O how would this make the Gospel agreat mystery to souls, & the Redempti­on of souls a precious and wonderfull work, if it were considered. Would not souls stand at this Anchor immoveable in tentation, if their faith were pitched on this sure foundation, and their hope cast upon this solid ground: O know your Redeemer is strong and mighty, and none can pluck you out of his hand, and himself will cast none out that comes. If the multi­tude of you believed this, you would not make so lit­tle account of the Gospel that comes to you, & make so little of your sins which behoved to be taken away by the blood of God, & could be expiated by no other propitiation, you would not think it so easie to satisfie God with some words of custome, and some publick services of forme as you do, you would not for all the World deal with God alone without this Mediator: and being convinced of sin (if you believed this so­lidely, that he in whom forgivennesse of sin and salva­tion is preached, is the same Lord God of whom you hear in the Old Testament, who gave out the Law, and inspired the Prophets, the only begotten of the Father in a way infinitly removed from all created [Page 157] capacities) you could not but find the Father well sa­tisfied in him, & find a sufficient ransome in his death & doings to pacifie God, & to settle your consciences.

But as the thing testified is a matter of great con­solation, so the witnesse testifying to this foundamen­tall of our Religion, may be a ground of great en­couragement to discouraged souls. It is ordinary, that the apprehensions of Christians takes up Jesus Christ as very lovely, and more loving than any of the Per­sons of the God-head, either the Father or the Holy Ghost, there are some thoughts of estrangednesse and distance of the Father, as if the Son did really recon­cile and gain him to love us, who before hated us, and upon this mistake the soul is filled with continual jea­lousies, and suspicions of the love of God: but observe I beseech you, the Father, the Son, & the Holy Ghost all of them first agreeing in one Testimony, the Fa­ther declares from heaven, that he is abundantly well pleased with his Son, not only because he is his Son, but even in the undertaking and performing of that work of Redemption of sinners: It is therefore his most serious invitation, and peremptory command to all to hear him, and believe in him. Mat. 3. 17. 1 Ioh. 3. 23. Nay, if we speak properly, our salvation it is not the businesse of Christ alone, as we imagine it, but the whole God-head is interessed in it deeply, & so deeply, that you cannot say, who loves it most, or likes it most. The Father is the very fountain of it, his love is the spring of all, God so loved the World, that he hath sent his Son Christ hath not purchased that eternal love to us, but is rather the gift, the free gift of eternal love. And therefore, as we have the Son delighting among the sons of men, Pro. 8. and delighting to be imployed and to do his will, Psal 40. So we have the Father delighting to send his Son, & taking pleasure in instructing him, and furnishing him for it, Isa. 42. 1. And therefore Christ often [Page 158] professed that he was not often about his own vvork, but the Fathers work vvho sent him, and that it was not his own will, but his Fathers he was fulfilling, Therefore he should not look upon the head-spring of our salvation in the Son, but rather ascend up to the Father, whose love & wisdome did frame all this; And thus we may be confident to come to the Fa­ther in the Son, knowing that it was the love of the Father that sent the Son, though indeed we must come to him only in the Son, in the name of Christ, and faith of acceptation through a Mediator, not be­cause the Mediator purchaseth his good-will, but be­cause his love and good-will only vents in his beloved Son Christ, and therefore he will not be known nor worshipped but in him, in whom he is near sinners, and reconciling the world to himself. And then the Holy Ghost concurrs in this Testimony, and as the Son had the work of purchasing rights and interests to grace and glory, so the great work of applying all these priviledges to Saints, and making them actually partakers of the blessings of Christ his death, is com­mitted in a special way to the Holy Ghost: I will send the Comforter, &c. So then, Father, Son, & Holy Ghost all agree in one, that Jesus Christ is a sure re­fuge for sinners, a plank for ship-broken men, a firm & sure foundation to build everlasting hopes upon, there is no party dissenting in all the Gospel, the businesse of the Salvation of lost souls is concluded in this holy Counsell of the Trinity with one voice, as at first, all of them agreed, to make man, Let us make man▪ So again, they agree to make him again, to restore him to life in the second Adam. Who ever thou be that wouldst flee to God for mercy, [...]o it in confidence, the Father, the Son, & the holy Ghost are ready to wel­come thee, all of one mind to shut out none, to cast out none. But to speak properly, it is but one love; one will, one counsell, and purpose in the Father, [Page 159] Son, and Spirit, for these three are one, and not only agree in one, they are one, and what one purposes o [...] loves, all love & purpose. I would conclude this mat­ter with a word of direction how to worship God, which I cannot expresse in fitter terms then these of Nazianzen, I cannot think upon one, but by and by I am compassed about with the brightnesse of three, and [...] cannot distinguish three, but I am suddenly driven back unto one: There is great ignorance & mistake of this even amongst the best Christians, the grosser sort when they hear of one God only, thinks Christ but some eminent man, and so direct their prayers to God only, excluding the Son, and Holy Ghost, or when they hear of three Persons, the Father, the Son, & Ho­ly Ghost, they straight way divide their Worship, & imagine a Trinity of Gods: And I fear, those of us who know most, use not to worship God as he hath re­vealed himself, Father, Son, & Holy Chost, and yet one God: our minds are reduced to such a simple uni­ty, as we think upon one of them alone, or else distr [...] ­cted and divided into such a plurality, that we wor­ship, in a manner, three Gods in stead of one. It is a great mystery to keep the right middle way. Learn I beseech you, so to conceive of God, & so to acknowledg him, and pray to him, as you may do it in the name of Jesus Christ, that all the Persons may have equal honour, and all of them one honour, that while you consider one God, you may adore that sacred & bles­sed Trinity, & while you worship that holy Trinity, you may straight way be reduced to an Unity. To this wonderfull and holy One, Father, Son, & Holy Ghost, be all Praise and Glory.

Eph. 1. ‘Who worketh all things after the Counsell of his own will.’ Job▪ 23. ‘He is in one mind, & who can turn him, &c.

HAving spoken something before of God, in his Nature, and Being, and Properties, we come in the next place to consider his glorious Majesty as [...]e sta [...]s in some nearer relation to his creatures, the works of his hands: For we must conceive the first rise of all things in the world, to be in this self-being, the first conception of them to be in the Womb of God's everlasting purpose and Decree, which in due time, according to his appointment, brings forth the childe of the creature to the light of actual existence and be­ing: It is certain, that his Majesty might have endu­red for ever, & possessed himself without any of these things: If he had never resolved to create any thing without himself, he had been blessed then, as now, be­cause of his full and absolute self-sufficient perfection. His purposing to make a world, & his doing of it, ads nothing to his inward blessednesse and contentment; this glorious and Holy One, incloses vvithin in his own being, all imaginable perfections, in an infinite and transcendent manner; that if you remove all crea­ted ones, you diminish nothing; if you add them all, you encrease nothing. Therefore it was the supera­bundance of his perfection, that he resolved to shew his Glory thus in the world. It is the creatures indi­gence & limited condition, which maketh it needfull [...]o go without its own compasse, for the happinesse of its own being: Man cannot be happy in loving him­self, he is not satisfied with his own intrinsick perfe­ctions, but he must diffuse himself by his affections & desires, & endeavours, & as it vvere, walk abroad upon these legs, to fetch in some supply from the crea­tures or Creator: The creature is constrained out of thus to go out of it self, which speakes much indigence [Page 161] and want within it self: But it is not so with his Ma­jesty, His own glorious being contents him, His hap­pinesse is to know that, and delight in it, because it comprehends in it self all, that is at all possible, in the most excellent and perfect manner that is conceivea­ble; nay infinitely beyond what can be conceived by any but himself, so he needs not go without himself to seek love or delight, for it is all within him, and it cannot be without his own being; unlesse it flow from within him, therefore ye may find in Scripture what complacency God hath in himself, and the Father in the Son, and the Son in the Father: We find Prov. 8. How the wisdomof of God, our Lord Jesus; was the Fathers delight from all Eternity, and the Father again his delight, for he rejoiced alwayes before him, vers. 30. And this was an al-sufficient possession that one had of another. v. 22. the love between the Fa­ther and the Son is holden out as the first pattern of all loves and delight. Ioh. 17. 23, 24. This then flowes from the infinite excesse of perfection and ex­undance of self-being, that his Majesty is pleased to come without himself, to maintain his own Glory in the works of his hands, to decree and appoint other things beside himself, and to execute that decree.

We may consider in these words some particulars for our edification, 1. That the Lord hath from E­ternity purposed within himself, and decreed to ma­nifest his own glory in the making and ruling of the World, that there is a Counsell and purpose of his will which reaches all things, which have been, are now, or are to be after this. This is clear, For he works all things according to the counsel of his own will: 2. That his mind and purpose is one mind one counsel: I mean not only one for ever, that is perpetuall & unchange­able, as the words speak, but also one for all, that is, with one simple Act and Resolution of his Holy will he hath determined, all these several things, all their [Page 162] times their conditions, their circumstances. 3. That whatsoever he hath from all eternity purposed, he in time practiseth it, and comes to execution & work­ing, so that there is an exact correspondence betwixt his will and his work, his mind and his hand. He works according to the Counsel of his will, and whatsoever his soul desires, that he doth. 4. That his purpo [...]e and performance is infallible; irresistable by any created power, himself will not change it, For he is in one mind, and none else can hinder it, for who can turn him? he desireth and he doth it, as in the Originall, there is nothing interveens between the desire & the doing, that can hinder the meeting of these two.

The first is the constant Doctrine of the Holy Scrip­tures, of which you should consider four things, 1. 'That his purpose and decree is most wise, therefore Paul cryes out upon such a subject; O the depth of the riches both of the Wisdom and knowledge of God, Rom. 11. 33. His will is alwayes one with wisdome, therefore you have the purpose of his will mentioned thus [the Counsell of his will] for his will (as it were) takes Counsel and advice of Wisdome, & dis­cernes according to the depth & riches of his know­ledge and understanding. We see among men these are separated often, & there is nothing in the world so disorderly, so unruly and uncomely, as when Will is divided from Wisdome, when men follow their own will and lusts as a Law, against their conscience, that is monstruous. The understanding and reason are the eyes of the Will, if these be put out, or if a man leave them behind him, he cannot but fall into a pit. But the purposes of Gods will are depths of wisdome, nay his very will is a sufficient▪ Rule and Law, so that it may be used of him, stat pro ratione voluntas, Rom. 9. 13, 14. If we consider the glorious Fab [...]ick of the World, the Order established in it, the sweet harmony it keepeth in all its motions & successions: [Page 163] O it must be a wise mind and counsell contrived i [...]. Man now having the Idea of this world in his mind, might fancy and imagine many other worlds, bearing some proportion and resemblance to this: but if he had never seen nor known this world, he could never have imagined the thousand part of this world, he could in no wise have formed an Image in his mind of all these different kindes of creatures, Creatures must have some example and coppy to look to, but what was his pattern? Who hath been his Counsellour▪ to teach him? Rom 11. 34. Who gave him the first Rudiments of Principles of that Art? Surely none, He had no pattern given him, not the least Idea of any of these things furnished him, but it is absolutely and solely his own wise contrivance. 2. This purpose of God is most free and absolute, there is no cause, no reason why he hath thus disposed all things, and not otherwise, as he might have done, but his own good will and pleasure, If it be so in a matter of deepest concernment, Rom. 9. 18 It must be so also in all other things; we may find indeed many inferiour causes, many peculiar reasons for such and such a way of ad­ministration, many ends & uses for which they serve, for there is nothing that his Majesty hath appointed, but it is for some use & reason, yet we must rise above all these and ascend into the Tower of his most high will and pleasure, which is founded on a depth of wis­dome, and from thence we shall behold all the order, administration and use of the creatures to depend, and herein is a great difference between his Majesties pur­poses and ours, you know there is still something pre­sented under the notion of good and convenient, that moves our will, and enclines us for its own goodnesse to seek after it, and so to fall upon the means to com­passe it; therefore the end which we propose to our selves hath its influence upon our purposes, and plea­surs them, so that from it the motion seems to proceed [Page 164] first, and not so much from within; but there is no created thing can thus determine his Majesty, Him­self, his own glory is the great end, which he loves for it self, and for which he loves other things: But a­mong other things, though there be many of them or­dained one for anothers use; yet his will and pleasure is the Original of that order, He doth not find it, but makes it, you see all the creatures below are appointed for man, as their immediate and next end, for his use and service, but was it man his goodness & perfection which did move and encline his Majesty to this ap­pointment? No indeed, but of his own good will he makes such things serve man, that all of them together may be for his own glory. 3. The Lords Decree is the first rise of all things that are, or have been, or are to come; This is the first Original of them all, to which they must be reduced as their spring and foun­tain. All of you may understand that there are ma­ny things possible, which yet actually will never be; The Lords power and Omnipotency is of a further extent then his Decree and Purpose; His Power is Naturall and Essential to his Beeing. His Decree is of choise and Voluntarie: The Father could have sent a Legion of Angels to have delivered his Son, the Son could have asked them, but neither of them would do it. Mat. 26. 53. The Lord could have raised up Children to Abraham out of stones, but he would not, Matth. 3, His power then comprehends within its reach all possible things which do not in their own nature, & proper conception, imply a con­tradiction, so that infinite worlds of creatures more perfect than this, numbers of Angels and men above these, & creatures in glory surpassing them again, are within the compasse of the boundlesse power, & om­nipotency of God: But yet for all this it might have fallen out, that nothing should actually and really have been, unlesse his Majesty had of his own freē [Page 165] will decreed what is, or hath been, or is to be. His will determines his power, and as it were; puts it in the nearest capacity to act, & exercise it self. Here then we must look for the beginning of all things that are, they are conceived in the womb of the Lords everla­sting purpose; As he speaks, Zeph. 2. 2. The Decree is, as it were, with child of beings. Isa. 44. 7. Its God Royal Prerogative to appoint things to come, and none can share with him in it; From whence is it, I pray you, that, of so many worlds which his power could have framed, this one is brought to light; Is it not because this one was formed (as it were) in the belly of his eternall counsel and will? From whence is it that so many men are, and no more That the Lord Jesus was slain, when the power of God might have kept him alive? That those men, Iudas &c. were the doers of it, when others might have done it? from whence are all those actions good or evill under the Sun, which he might have prevented? But from his good will and pleasure, from his determinate coun­sell Acts 4. 28. Can you find the Originall of these in the Creature, why it is thus, and why not otherwise? Can you conceive why, of all the infinite numbers of possible beings, these are, and no other? And, what hath translated that number of creatures; which is from the state of pure possibility to futurition or a­ctuall being, but the decisive vote of Gods everlasting purpose and counsell? Therefore we should alwayes conceive, that the creatures and all their actions, which have, or will have any being in the VVorld, have first had a beeing in the womb of Gods eternall Counsel, and that his will and pleasure hath past u­pon all things that are, and are not; His Counsel has concluded of things that have been, or will be, that thus they shall be; and his Counsell has deter­mined of all other things which are also impossible; that they shall never come forth into the light of [Page 166] the world, but remain in the dark bowels of Omni­potency; that so we may give him the glory of all things that are not, and that are at all. Then 4. We should consider the extent of his decree, & Counsell, it's past upon all things, it's Universal, reaching eve­ry being or action of the Universe. This is the strain of the whole Scripture. He did not (as some dream) once create the creatures in a good state, & put them in capacity henceforth to preserve themselves, or ex­ercise their own vertue and power, without depen­dence on him: as an Artificer makes an Horologe, and orders it in all things, that it may do its business with­out him; he is not only a generall originall of action & motion, as if we would command a River to flow by his appointed channels; as if he did only work & rule the world by Atturneys & Embassadors; that is the weaknesse & infirmity of earthly Kings, that they must substitute Deputies for themselves: But this King appoints all immediatly, and disposes upon all the particular actions of his Creatures good or evil, and so is the Universal absolute Lord of his Creature, of its being and doing, it were a long work to rehearse what the Scriptures speaks of this kind: But, O that ye would read them oftner, and ponder them better, How there is nothing in this World (which may seem to fall out by chance to you, that you know not how it is come to passe, & can see no cause nor reason of it) but it falls out by the holy will of our blessed Father: Be it of greater or lesse moment, or be it a hair of thy head fallen, or thy head cut off; the most casual & contingent thing, thought it surprised the whole world of men and Angels, that they should wonder from whence it did proceed, it is no surprisall to him, for he not only knew it, but appointed it; the most certain and necessary thing, according to the course of nature, it hath no certainty, but from his appointment who hath established such a course in the creatures, & [Page 167] which he can suspend when he pleaseth: Be it the sin of men and devils, which seems most opposite to his holinesse, yet even that cannot appear in the World of beings, if it were not in a holy, righteous, and per­missive way, first conceived in the womb of his Eter­nall Counsell, and if it were not determined by him for holy and just end, Acts 4. 28.

The second thing propounded is, that his mind & counsell is one, one and the same, yesterday, and to day, and for ever; therefore the Apostles speakes of God, That there is no shaddow of change or turning in him, James 1. 17. He is not a man that he should lie, or the son of man that he should repent; Will he say, and not do it? Numb. 23. 19. and shal he decree & not execute it? Shal he purpose and not perform it? I am God and changes not, that is his Name, Mal. 3. 6. The Counsell of the Lord shal stand, & the thoughts of his heart to all generations, Psal. 33. 11. Men chan­ges their mind oftner then their garments, poor vain man, even in their best estate is changeablenesse, and vicissitude it self, altogether vanity: And this ariseth partly from the imperfection of his understanding, & his ignorance, because he doth not understand what may fall out; there are many things secret & hidden, which if he discovered, he would not be of that judge­ment; and many things fall out, which may give ground of another resolution; and partly from the weaknesse and perversnesse of his will, that cannot be constant in any good thing, & is not so closely united to it, as that no fear nor terrour can separate from it: But there is no such imperfection in him, neither ig­norance, nor weaknesse, all things are naked before him; all their natures, their circumstances, all events, all emergents, known to him are they, & all his works from the beginning, as perfectly as in the end: And therefore he may come to a fixed resolution from all eternity, and being resolved, he can see no reason of [Page 168] change because there can nothing appear after, which he did not perfectly discover from the beginning, Therefore when ever ye read in the Scripture of the Lords repenting, as Gen. 6. 7. and Ier. 16. 8. ye should remember that the Lord speaks in our tearms, and like nurses with their children, uses our own dialect, to point out to us our great ignorance of his Majesty, that cannot conceive more honourably of him, nor more distinctly of our selves. VVhen he changeth all things about him, he is not changed, for all these changes were at once in his mind, but when he chan­geth his outward dispensation he is said to repent of what he is doing, because we use not to change our manner of dealing, without some conceived grief, or repentance and change of mind. VVhen a man goes to build a house, he hath no mind but that it should con­tinue so, he has not the least thought of taking it down again, but afterward it becomes ruinous and his estate enlarges, & then he takes a new resolution, to cast it down to the ground, and build a better; This it is with man, according as he varies his work, he chan­ges his mind. But it is not so with God: All these changes of his works, all the successions of times, the variation of dealings, the alteration of dispensations in all ages were at once in his mind, and all before him; so that he never goes to build a house, but hee hath in his own mind already determined all the changes it shall be subject to: VVhen he sets up a Throne in a Nation, it is in his mind within such a period to cast it down again; when he lifts up men in success & prosperity, he doth not again change his mind when he throws them down, for that was in his mind also; so that there it no surprisal of him by any unexpectant emergment: Poor man hath many cōsul­tations before he come to a conclusion; But it is not thus with his Counsell; of all these strange and new things which fall out in our dayes, he hath one [Page 169] thought of them all from Eternity; He is one mind, & none of all these things have put him off his eternall mind, or put him to a new advisement about his great projects: Not only doth he not change his mind, but his mind and thought is one, of all, & concerning all: Our poor, narrow and limited minds, must part their thoughts among many bnsinesles, one thought for this, another for that, and one after another: but with him there is neither succession of Counsels and purposes, nor yet plurality, but as with one opening of his eye, he beholds all things as they are: so with one inclination, or nod of his will he hath given a law, and appointed all things: If we can at one instant, and one look, see both light and colours, and both the glasse and the shadow in it, and with one motion of our wills move towards the end, and the means. O, how much more may he with one simple undivided act of his good-wil & pleasure pass a determination on all things, in their times, and orders, and in his own infinite and his glorious being perceive them all with one look? How much consolation might redound from this to believing souls? Hath the Lord appoin­ted you to suffer persecution and tribulation here? Hath he carved out such a lot unto you in this life? Then withall consider, that his Majesty hath Eter­nal glory wrapt up in the same Counsel, from which thy afflictions proceed: Hath he made thy soul to melt before him? Hath he convinced thee, and made thee to flee unto the City for refuge, and expect sal­vation from no other but himself? Then know, that Life Eternal is in the bosome of that same purpose which gave thee to believe this; though the one be born before the other, yet the Decree shal certainly bring forth the other. And for such souls as upon this vain presumption of the infallibility of Gods purposes thinks it needlesse to give diligence in Religion, know, that it is one mind & purpose that hath linked [Page 170] the end and the means together as a chain, and there­fore, if thou expectest to be saved, according to Ele­ction, thou must according to the same Counsel make thy Calling home from sin to God, sure.

Thirdly, what thing soever he hath purposed, he in due time applies to the performance of it, and then the counsell of his wil becomes the work of his hands, and there is an admirable harmony and exact agree­ment between these two: All things come out of the womb of his eternall Decree, by the work of his po­wer, even just fashioned and framed, as their linea­ments and draughts were proportioned in the decree, nothing failing, nothing wanting, nothing exceeding; there is nothing in the Idea of his mind but it is ex­pressed in the works of his hands, there is no raw-half­wishes in God: Men have such imperfect desires, I would have, or do, such a thing if it were not, &c. He wavers not thus in suspence, but what he wills and desires, he wills and desires indeed: He intends it shal be, and what he intends, doubtlesse he will exe­cute, and bring to passe: Therefore his will in due time applies Almighty Power to fulfill the desire of i [...] and Almighty Power being put to work by his Will, it cannot but work all things according to the Coun­sell of his Will; and whatsoever his soul desireth, that he cannot but do, even as he desires, seeing he cannot do it. If he will do it, and can do it, what hinders him to work and do? Know then, that his commands and precepts to you, signifying what is your duty, they do not so much signifie what he desires, or in­tends to work, or have done, as his approbation of such a thing in it self to be your duty; and therefore though he have revealed his Will concerning our du­ty, though no obedience follow, yet is not his inten­tion frustrated or disappointed; for his commands to you say not what is his Intention about it, but what is that which he approves as good, and a duty obliging [Page 171] men: But whatsoever thing he purposes & intends should be, certainly, he wil do it, & make it to be done; If it be a work of his own power alone, himself vvill do it alone: If he require the concurrence of crea­tures to it, as in all the works of Providence, then he will effectually apply the creatures to his vvork, and not wait in suspence on their determination: If he have appointed such an end to be attained by such means; if he have a work to do by such instruments, then, without all doubt, he vvill apply the instru­ments when his time comes, & will not wait on their concurrence. You see now strange things done, you wonder at them, how we are brought down from our excellency; how our land is laid desolat by strangers; how many instrumēts of the Lords work are laid aside; how he lifts up a rod of indignation against us, and is like to overturn even the foundations of our land: All these were not in our mind before, but they were in his mind from eternity, and therefore he is now working it. Believe then that there is not a circum­stance of all business, not one joynt or jot of it, but is even as it was framed and carved out of old, his pre­sent works are according to an ancient pattern, vvhich he carries in his mind, all the measures and degrees of your affliction, all the ounces, and grain­weights of your cup, vvere all weighed in the scales of his Eternall Counsell, the instruments, the time, the manner, all that is in it. If he change instruments, that was in his mind, if he change dispensations, that was in his mind also: And seeing you know by the Scriptures that a blessed end is appointed for the god­ly, that all things work for their good, that all is sub­servient to the Churches welfare, seeing, I say, you know his purpose is such as the Scriptures speaks, then believe his performance shal be exact accordingly, nothing dificient, no joynt, no sinew, in all his vvork of providence, no line in all his book, & volume of [Page 172] the creature, but it was written in that ancient book of his eternal counsel, & first fashioned in that, Ps. 39. 16.

Then lastly, his will is irresistible, his Counsell shal stand, who can turn him from his purpose, and who can hinder him from performance? therefore he attains his end, in the highest and most superlative degree of certainty and infallibility: Himself will not change his own purpose, for why should he do it, if he change to the better, then it reflects on his wisdom, if he change to the worse, it reflects both on his wisdom and godlinesse, certainly he can see no cause why he should change it: But as himself cannot change, so none can hinder his performance, for what power, think you, shal it be, that may attempt that? Is it the power of men, of strong men, of high men, of any men? No sure, for their breath is in their nostrils, they have no power, but as he breaths in them, if he keep in his breath (as it were) they perish, all nati­ons are as nothing before him, and what power hath nothing? Is it Devils may do it? No, for they can­not, though they would, he chains them, he limits them: Is it good Angels? They are powerfull indeed, but they neither can, nor will resist his will. Let [...] be the whole University of the Creation, suppose all their scattered force and vertue conjoyned in one, yet it is all but finite, it amounts to no more, if you would eternally adde unto it: But all victory & resistance of this kind, must be by a superior power, or at least by an equal; therefore we may conclude that there i [...] no impediment or let, that can be put in his way, no­thing can obstruct his purpose, if all the world shoul [...] conspire as one man to obstruct the performance o [...] any of his promises and purposes, they do but rage i [...] vain, like dogs barking at the Moon, they shal be s [...] far from attaining their purpose, that his Majesty sha [...] disabuse them (so to speak) to his own purpose, h [...] shal apply them quite contrary to their own mind, t [...] [Page 173] work out the counsel of his mind? Here is the ab­solute King, only worth the name of a King & Lord, whom all things in Heaven and Earth obeyes at the first nodd and beckning to them. Hills, Seas, Moun­tains, Rivers, Sun & Moon, & Clouds, Men & Beasts, Angels and Devils, all of them are acted, moved, and inclined according to his pleasure, all of them are a­bout his work indeed, as the result of all in the end shal make it appear, & are servants at his command, going where he bids go, and comming where he bids come, led by an invisible hand, though in the mean time they knew it not, but thinks they are about their own businesse, applauds themselves for a time in it, ducunt volentem fata, notentem trahunt, Godly men who knows his Will and loves it, are led by it willing­ly, for they yeeld themselves up to his disposall: but wicked men who have contrary Wills of their own, they can gain no more by resisting, but to be drawn a­long with it.

Now to what purpose is all this spoken of Gods De­crees and purposes, which he hath called a secret be­longing to himself? If his works & judgements be a great depth, and unsearchable, sure his decrees are far more unsearchable: For it is the secret and hidden purpose of God, which is the very depth of his way, & judgement. But to what purpose is it all, I say? Not to enquire curiously into the particulars of them, but to profit by them: The Scripture holds out to us the unchangeablenesse, freedom, extent, holinesse and wisdom of them, for our advantage, and if this advan­tage be not reaped we know them in vain. Not to burden your memory with many particulars, we should labour to draw forth both instruction and con­solation out of them. Instruction, I say, in two things especially, to submit with reverence & respect to his Majesty in all his works and wayes, & to trust in him who knows all his workss, & will not change his mind

[Page 174] There is nothing, wherein I know Christians more deficent than in this point of submission, which I take to be one of the chiefest & sweetest, though har­dest duties of a Christian. It is hardly to be found a­mong men, a through complyance of the soul to what his soul desires, a real subjection of our spirits to his good will and pleasure; There is nothing so much blessed in Scripture, as waiting on him, as yeelding to him to be disposed upon. Blessed are all they that wait on him: Pride is the greatest opposite, and he opposes himself most to that, for it is in it self most derogatory to the highnesse and Majesty of God, which is his ve­ry glory: Therefore submission is most acceptable to him, when the soul yeelds it self and its will to him, he condescends far more to it, he cannot be an enemy to such a soul; submission to his Majesties pleasure, is the very bowing down of the soul willingly, to any thing he doth or commands; what ever yoke he puts on, of duty or suffering, to take it on willingly, with­out answering again, which is the great sin condemned in servants, to put the mouth in the dust, & to keep silence, because he doth it, I was dumb with silence, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it, their is sub­mission indeed, silence of mind & mouth, a restraint put upon the spirit to think nothing grudgingly of him, for any thing he doth: It is, certainly, the great­est fault of Christians, & grounds of many more, that ye do not look to God, but to creatures in any thing befalls you, therefore there are so frequent risings of spirits against his yoke, frequent spurnings against it, as Ephraim unaccustomed with the yoke, so do ye, & this is it only makes it heavy and troublesome, if there were no more reason for it, but your own gain, it is the only way to peace & quietnesse, Durum sed levius fit patientiá, quicquid corrigere est nes as, your impati­ence cannot help you, but hurt you, it is the very yoke of your yoke; but quiet and silent stooping makes it [Page 175] easie in it self, and brings in more help beside, even Divine help: Learn this, I beseech you, to get your wills abandoned, and your spirits subdued to God, both in the point of duty and dispensation. If duties commanded crosse thy spirit (as certainly the reality and exercise of Godlinesse must be unpleasant to any nature) know what thou art called to, to quit thy own will to him, to give up thy self to his pleasure singly, without so much respect to thy own pleasure or gain, learn to obey him simply, because he cōmands, though no profit redound to thee, & by this means thou shalt in due time have more sweet peace and real gain, though thou intended it not. And in case any dis­pensation crosse thy mind, let not thy mind rise up a­gainst it, do not fall out with providence, but commit thy way wholly to him, and let him do what he pleas­eth in that, be thou minding thy duty, be not anxious in that, but be diligent in this, and thou shalt be the only gainer by it, besides the honour redounds to him.

Then I would exhort you from this ground, to trust in him; seeing he alone is the absolute Sove­raign Lord of all things, seeing he hath past a determi­nation upon all things, and accordingly they must be, and seeing none can turn him from his way, O then Christians, learn to commit your selves to him in all things, both for this life and the life to come; why are ye so vain and foolish, as to depend & hang upon poor vain depending Creatures? Why do ye not forsake your selves? Why do ye not forsake all other things as empty shadows? Are not all created powers, ha­bits, gifts, graces, strength, riches, &c. like the idols in comparison of him, who can neither do good, neither can they do ill? Cursed is he that trusts in man, Jer. 17. 15, 16. there needs no other curse than the very disappointment you shal meet withall. Consider [...] beseech you, that our God can do all things, what ever [...]e pleaseth in Heaven and Earth, and that none can [Page 176] obstruct his pleasure, blest is that soul for whom the counsel of his wil is ingaged, & it is ingaged for all that trust in him, he can accomplish his good pleasure in thy behalf, either without, or against means, all impe­diments & thorns set in his way, he can burn them up, you who are heirs of the promises, O know your pri­viledge, what his soul desireth, He doth even that; & what he hath seriously promised to you, he desires. If you ask who are heirs of the Promises, I would an­swer simply, these and these only who do own them, and challenge them, and claim to them for their life and salvation, these who seek the Inheritance only by the Promise, and whose soul desires them and imbra­ces them. O if you would observe how unlike ye are to God; ye change often, ye turn often out of the way, but that were not so ill if ye did not imagine him to be like your selves, and it is unbelief which makes him like to your selves when your frame and tender disposition changes, when presence and accesse to God is removed; that is wrong, it speaks out a mortall creature indeed; but if it be so, O, do no more wrong, do not by your suspicions and jealousies, and questio­nings of him imagine that he is like unto you, and changed also, that is a double wrong and dishonour to his Majesty. Hath he not said, I am God and changes not: He is in one mind, who can turn him? How comes it then that ye doubt of his love as oft as ye change? When ye are in a good temper, ye think he loves you, when it is not so, ye cannot believe but he is angry and hates you; is not this to speak quite contra­ry to the Word, that he is a God that changes, that he is not in one mind, but now in one, and then in ano­ther, as oft as the unconstant wind of a souls self-plea­sing humour turns about. Here is your rest and con­fidence, if you will be established, not within your selves, not upon marks and signs within you, which ebbe and flow as the Sea, and change as the Moon, [Page 177] but upon his unchangeable Nature and faithfull pro­mises. This we desire to hold out to you all, as one ground for all, you would every one have some parti­cular ground in your own disposition and condition, & thinks it general doctrine only which layeth it no [...] home so; but believe it, I know no ground of real­soul-establishment but general truths, and pinciples common to you all; and our businesse is not to lay a­ny other foundation, or moe foundations, according to your different conditions, but to lay this one foun­dation, Christ, and God unchangeable; & to exhort every one of you to make that general Foundation your own in particular, by leaning to it, & building upon it, & claiming to it, all other are sandy and ruinous.

Let us now in this sad time presse consolation from this, the Lords hand is in all this; it's immediate in every dispensation, and its only carnal-mindednesse that cannot see him stretching out his hand to every man, with his own portion of affliction: Know this one thing, that God is in one mind; for all these many wayes & judgements he is in one mind, to gather the Saints to build up the Church; the body of Christ, this is his end, all other businesses is in the by, & sub­servient to this, therefore he will change it as he plea­ses, but his great purpose of good to his people all the World cannot hinder. Let us then establish our souls in this consideration, all is clear above, albeit cloudy below; All is calm in Heaven albeit tempestuous here upon Earth: There is no confusion, no disorder in his mind; though we think the world out of course, and that all things reel about with confusion, hee hath one mind in it, & who can turn him? And that mind is good to them that trust in him; And therefor who can turn away our good? Let men consult and imagine what they please, let them passe votes & de­crees what to do with his people, yet it is all to no pur­pose [Page 178] for there is a Counsel above, an older Counsel, which must stand and take place in all generations. If mens conclusions be not according to the Counsell of his Will; they are but imaginary dreams, like fan­cies of a distracted person, who imagining himself a King, sits down on the Throne, and gives out decrees and Ordinances. May not He who sits in Heaven laugh at the foolishnesse & madnesse of men, who act in all things as if they had no dependance on him, and go about their businesse, as if it were not contrived al­ready; it is a ridiculous thing for men to order their businesse, and settle their own conclusions, without once minding one above them, who hath not only a negative, but an affirmative vote in all things: Its true, that God in his deep wisedom hath kept up his particular purposes secret, that men may walk accor­ding to an appointed Rule, and use all means for com­passing their intended ends; and therefore it is well said, Prudens futuri temporis exitum Caliginosa nocte premit Deus. But yet withall we should mind that of Iames, If the Lord will, & go about all things, even the most probable, with submission to his will and pleasure. And therefore, when men go without their bounds, either in fear of dangers, or joy conceived in successes: Ridetque si mortalis ultra fas trepidet, &c. Excesse of fear, excesse of hope, excesse of joy in these outward things, is as it were, ridiculous to him, who hath all these things appointed with him. To him be praise and glory.

Eph. 1. 11. ‘In whom also we have obtained an inheri­tance being predestinated, &c. Rom. 9. 22, 23. ‘What if God, willing to shew his Wrath, and to make his power known. &c.

IN the Creation of the World, it pleased the Lord after all things were framed and disposed, to make [Page 179] one creature to rule over all, and to him he gave the most excellent nature, and priviledges beyond the rest; so that it may appear that he had made all things for man, & man immediately for his own glory: As man was the chief of the works of his hands, so wee may, according to the Scriptures, conceive that he was chiefly minded in the Counsels of his heart. And that, as in the execution of his purpose in creating the World man had the preheminence assigned unto him, and all seemed subordinate unto him; so, in the Lords purposes concerning the world his purpose a­bout man has the preheminence. He indeed has resol­ved to declare the glory of his Name in this world; Therefore the Heavens and Firmament are made Preachers of that Glory, Psal. 19. 1, 2. &c. But in spe­cial manner, his Majesties glorious Name is mani­fested in man, and about man; he hath set man, as it were, in the Center or midst of the Creation, that all the Creatures might direct or bring in their prais­es unto him, to be [...] up in his, and their name to the Lord their Maker by him, as the common mouth of the World: and the Lord hath chosen this creature above all the creatures, so the more solemn & glorious declaration of himself in his special proper­ties, therefore we should gather our thoughts in this businesse, to hear from the Lord what his thoughts are towards us; for certainly, the right understanding of his everlasting Counsell, touching the eternall state of Men, is of singular vertue to conform us to the praise of his Name, and establish us in faith and confidence. Predestination is a mystery indeed into which we should not curiously & boldly enquire be­yond what is revealed, for then a soul must needs lose it self in that depth of wisdome; and perish in the search of unsearchableness; And thus the word speaks in Scripture of this subject intimating unto us, that it is rather to be admired than conceived; & that there [Page 180] ought to be some ignorance of these secrets, which conjoyned with Faith and reverence, is more learned than any curious knowledge: But withall we must o­pen our eyes upon so much light as God reveals of these secrets, knowing that the light of the word is a saving refreshing light, not confounding, as is his inac­cessible light of secret Glory. As far as it pleases his Majesty to open his mouth, let us not close our ears, but open themalso to his instruction, knowing that as he will withhold no necessary thing for our salvation, so he will reve [...] nothing but what is profitable. This is the best bond of sobriety and humble wisdome, to learn what he teacheth us, but when he makes an end of teaching, to desire no more learning: Its humili­ty to seek no more, & it is true wisdom to be content with no lesse.

There is much weaknesse in our conceiving of di­vine things; we shape and form them in our mindes according to a mould of our own experience, or in­vention, and cannot conceive of them as they are in themselves: If we should speak properly; there are not counsels & purposes in God, but one entire coun­sel and resolution concerning all things which are in time, by which he hath disposed all in their severall times, seasons, conditions and orders; but because we have many thoughts about many things, so we cannot well conceive of God, but in likenesse to our selves; And therefore the Scripture, condescending to our weaknesse, speaks so. How many are thy precious thoghts towards me, saith David; and yet indeed, there is but one thought of him, and us, & all, which one thought is of so much vertue, that it is equivalent to an infinite number of thoughts, concerning infinite objects. The Lord hath from everlasting conceived one purpose of manifesting his own glory in such severall wayes; & this is the head-spring of all that befalls creatures, men and Angels. But because in the execution of [Page 181] this purpose, there is a certain order, and succession, and variety, therefore men do ordinarily fancy such or such a frame and order in the Lords mind & purpose. And as the Astronomers do cut and carve in their I­maginations, Cycles, Orbs & Epicycles in the Hea­vens, because of the various and different appearances & motions of stars in them, whereas it may be, really, there is but one Celestial body, in which all these va­rious lights and motions do appear: So do men fan­cy unto themselves an order of the Lords decree, ac­cording to the Phaenomena, or appearances of his works in the world, whereas it is one purpose and Decree, which in its infinite compasse comprehends all these varieties and orders together: This much we may-in­deed lawfully conceive of his Decree, that there is an exact correspondence & suteableness between his Ma­jesties purpose and execution, & that he is a wise Lord wonderful in counsel & excellent in working, having some great plot and design before his eyes, which he intends to effect, and which is as it were, the great Light and Sun of this Firmament, unto which, by that same wonderfull Counsel, all other things are subor­dinate; And so in the working it shall appear exactly, as his Counsel did delineate & contrive it.

There is no man so empty or shallow, but he hath some great design and purpose which he chiefly aims at: Shal we not then conceive, that the Lord who instructs every man to this discretion, & teaches him Isa. 28. 26. Is himself wise in his Counsel, and hath some grand project before him in all this Fabrick of the World, and the upholding of it since it was made? Certainly he hath; and if you ask what it is, the wise man will teach you in the general, He made all things for himself, even the wicked for the evil day. Pro. 16. 4. Here then is his great design and purpose, to glorifie himself, to manifest his own Name to men & Angels. Now his Name comprehends Wisdome, Goodnesse, [Page 182] Power, Mercy and justice; the first three he declares in all the works of his hands, all are well done, & wise­ly done, the excellency of the work shews the won­derfull Counsellour, & the wise Contriver, the good­nesse of any creature in its kind, declares the inexhau­sted spring of a selfe-being from whom it proceeds, & the bringing all these out of nothing, and upholding them is a glorious declaration of his power: But yet in all the works of his hands, there is nothing found to manifest his glorious mercy and justice, upon which are the flower and garland of his Attributes, and unto which wisedom and power seems to be subservient; Therefore his Majesty, in that one entire purpose of his own glory, resolves to manifest his wrath, and his mercy upon men and Angels; subjects capable of it; which two Attributes are as the Poles about which all the Wheels of Election and Reprobation turns, as you see in that place, Rom. 9. 22. 23. Let this then be established as the end of all his works, as it is designed in his Counsell and nothing else. It is not the Crea­ture nor any thing in the Creature, which is first in his mind, but himself, and therefore of him and for him are all things; Here they have their rise, & thither they return, even to the Ocean of Gods eternall glo­ry, from whence all did spring.

The right establishing of this will help us to con­ceive aright of his Counsell of Predestination: It is a common cavil of carnall reason, How can the Lord reject so many persons, & foreordain them to destru­ction? It seems most contrary to his goodnesse and wisedom to have such an end of eternall Predestina­tion before him, in the creating so many thousands to make men for nothing but to damn them; Here carnall reason, which enmity to God, triumphs; But consider, I say, that this is not the Lord's end and chief design to destroy men; even as it is not his Majesties first look, or furthest reach to give unto o­thers [Page 183] eternal life, so it is not his prime intent to sink them in eternal death, as if that were his pleasure & delight, no indeed, neither is the creatures happinesse nor its misery that which first moves him, or is most desired of him, but himself only, and he cannot move out of himself to any businesse but he must return it unto himself, therefore the wise Preacher expresses it well, He made all for himself, even the wicked for the day of evil; It was not his great end of creating wicked men to damn them, or creating righteous men to save them, but both are for a further and higher end, for himself and his own Glory.

All seem to agree about this, That the great end of all the Lords Counsels and decrees, is his own glo­ry to be manifested on Men & Angels; and that this must be first in his mind, not that there is first or last with him, but to speak after the manner of men; if he had many thoughts as we have, this would be his first thought, and in this one purpose this end is chiefly aimed at, and all other things are, by the Lords coun­sel subordinate to this as means to compasse that: But as concerning the order of these means, and con­sequently of his Majesties purpose about them, men by examining his Majesty according to the creatures Rules, or according to sense, bring him down far be­low his own infinite greatnesse. Some conceive that, that was first, as it were in his mind which is first done looking upon the execution of his purpose in the works of his power, they imagine, that as he first cre­ated man righteous, so this was his first thought con­cerning man, to creat man for the glory of his good­nesse & power, without any particular determination as yet of his end, and I conceive this is the thoght of the multitude of people, they think God was disa­pointed in his work, when they hear he created such a glorious creature that is now become so miserable; they cannot believe that his Majesty had all this sin [Page 184] and misery determinated with him when he purposed to create him, but look upon the emergement of mans Fall into sin and misery as a surprisal of his Majesty; as if he had meant another thing in creating him, & so was upon this occasion of man's sinne, driven to a new consultation about the helping of the businesse, & making the best out of it that might be. Thus through wisdome the world knows not God; They think God altogether like themselves, and so liken him to the builder of an house, who let nothing be­fore him in doing so, but to build it after that man­ner for his own ends, but thē being surprised with the fall and ruine of it, takes a new advisement, and builds it up again upon another surer foundation; but be­cause they cannot say, that God takes any new advise­ments in time, but must confesse that all his Coun­sels are everlasting concerning all the works of his hands; therefore they bring in fore-knowledge to smooth their irreligious conceit of God, as if the Lord upon his purpose of creating man had foreseen what should befall him, and so purposed to permit it to be so, that out of it he might erect some glorious Fabrick of mercy and justice upon the ruines of man, And that little or nothing may be left to the absolute Sove­raign will of God, to which the Scripture ascribes all things, they must again imagine, that upō his purpose of sending Christ to save sinners, he is yet undetermi­ned about the particular end of particular men, but watches on the tower of fore-knowledge to espie what they will do, whether men will believe in his Son or not, whether they will persevere in faith or not, and according to his observation of their doings, so he ap­plies his own will to carve out their reward, or porti­on of life or death. These are even the thoughts which are imbred in your breasts by nature; that which the learned call Arminianism, is nothing else but the carnal reason of mens hearts, which is enmity [Page 185] to God; it is that very Disputation which Paul in this Chapter exclaims against, Who art thou, O man, that disputes.

But certainly, all this contrivance is nothing be­seeming the wisdome of Soveraignity of God, but re­flects upon both, upon his wisdome, that he should have thoughts of creating the most noble of his crea­tures, & yet be in suspense about the end of the crea­ture, and have that in uncertainty, what way his glo­ry shal indeed be manifested by it. Is it not the fi [...]st and chief thought of every wise man, what he intends and aims at in his work, and according to the measure and reach of his wisdome, so he reaches further in his end and purpose? Shal we then conceive the only wise God so far to have mistaken himself, as to do that which no wise man would do: He who is of such an infinite reach of wisdome & understanding, to fall upon the thoughts of making such an excellent Crea­ture, and yet to ly in suspense within himself about the eternall estate of it, and to be in a waiting posture what way his Glory should be manifested by it; whe­ther in a way of simple goodnesse only, or in a way of Justice, or in a way of Mercy, till he should foresee off the Tower of fore-knowledge how that creature should behave it self. Our Text speakes not thus: For in the place, Eph. 1. we have the Lord in his eternall purpose carving out to such and such particular per­sons an Inheritance, and Adoption of Children for that great end of the glory of his grace, vers. 11. & 5, 6. And Predestination falls out, not according to our carriage, but according to the purpose of him who works all things that he works after the Counsell of his own will, without consulting our will; and if you en­quire what are these all things, certainly, we must take it simply for all things that are at all, or have any real being: His power, his hand must be in it, and that according to his own Counsell, without respect [Page 186] had to the Creatures will, according to his own good pleasure. vers. 5. 11. He had no sooner a thought of working and making man, but this purpose was in it, to make such men to the praise of his glorious grace, and to fore-ordain them to an inheritance, and others to make or fit them for destruction; as the Text, Rom. 9. 22. bears. Herein the great & unsearchable wisdom of God appears to be a great depth, that when he hath a thought of making such a vessell, he hath this pur­pose in the bosome of it, what use it shal be for, whe­ther for honour or dishonour, and accordingly in his Counsel he prepares it either to glory, or destructi­on, and in time makes it for its use, either by sin or grace: Here is the depth that cannot be sounded by mortal men; O the depths of the riches both of his wis­dome & knowledge! How unchearchable are his judge­ments, and his wayes past finding out? The whole te­nour of the Scripture shews that his Majesty was not surprised, and taken at unawares by Adam's fall, but that it fell out according to the determined counsel of his will, if he knew it, and suffered it to be, certainly he permitted it, because he willed it should be so; and why may he not determine that in his holy Counsel which his wisdome can disabuse to the most glorious end that can be? Why may not he decree such a fall, who out of man's ruines can erect such a glorious Throne for his grace and justice to triumph into? It is more for the glory of his infinite wisdome, to bring good, and such a good out of evil, then only to per­mit that good should be.

Then such Doctrine is repugnant to the Lords ab­solute power and Soveraignty, which is Pauls San­ctuary whether he flees unto as a sure refuge, from the stroak or blast of carnall reason. Hath not the Pot­ter power over the clay, to make of the same lump, one vessel to honour, another to dishonour. vers. 21. Hath not the Lord more absolute dominion over us than [Page 187] the Potter hath over the clay, for the Potter made not the clay, but the Lord hath made us of nothing, so that simply and absolutely we are his, and not our own, and so he hath an absolute right to make any use of us he pleaseth, without consulting our wills and diservings. Can any man quarrel him for preparing him to destruction, seeing he owes nothing to any man, but may do with his own what he pleaseth? what if God, willing to make known his Power, and ju­stice and wrath, have fitted and prepared some vessels for destruction, with which, in time, he bears much, & forbears long, using much patience towards them? Can any man challenge him for it? vers. 22. And what if God willing to make known the riches of his grace, have prepared some vessels to glory; shal any mans eye be evil because he is good? vers. 23. Shal man be left to be his own disposer, and the shapes of his own fortune? Sure it was not so with Esau & Ia­cob, they were alike in the womb, if there was any prerogative, Esau the eldest had it, they had done neither good nor evil, what difference was then be­tween them to cast the ballance of his Will? Can you imagine any? Indeed carnall reason will say, that God fore-knew what they would do, and so he chose or re­jected them: But why doth not the Apostle answer thus unto that objection of unrighteousnesse in God? vers. 14. It had been ready and plain, but rather he opposes the will and calling of God, to all works past or to come; he gives no answer but this, he will have mercy because he will have mercy, that is the supream rule of righteousnesse, and hitherto must wee flee, as the surest Anchor of our hope & stability, our salva­tion depends not on our willing or running on our re­solving or doing, but upon this primitive good plea­sure and will of God, on which hangs our willing, & running, and obtaining. It is certainly an unorderly order, to [...]ee unto that in men, for the cause of Gods [Page 188] Eternal Counsels, which only flowes from his Eter­nall Counsel, Eph. 1. 4. Hath he chosen us because he did fore-know that we would be holy, and without blame as men think? or hath he not rather chosen us to be holy and without blame: He cannot behold a­ny good or evil in the creatures, till his will passe a sentence upon it, for from whence should it come?

Seeing then, this order and contrivance of Gods purpose is but faigned, it seems to some that the very contrary method were more suitable, even in the rules of wisdome: You know what is first in mens intenti­on, is last in execution, the end is first in their mind, then the means to compasse that end, but in practice a­gain, men fall first upon the means and by them come at length to attain their end, therefore these who would have that first as it were in Gods mind, which he doth first, do even crosse common Rules of reason in humane affairs: It would seem then (say some) that this method might do well, that what is last in his execution, was first in his purpose, and by him in­tended as the end of what he doth first, and so some do rank his decrees; that he had first a thought of glo­rifying men, and to attain this end he purposed to give him grace, and for this purpose to suffer him to fall, & for all to create him: But we must not look thus u­pon it either; it were a foolish & rediculous counsell unbeseeming the poor wisdom of man, to purpose the glorifying of man whom he had not yet determined to create, therefore we should alwayes have in our mind, that the great end and project of all is the glory of his mercy and justice upon men, and this we may conceive is first in order, neither mens life nor death, but Gods glory to be manifested upon men: Now to attain this glorious end, with one inclination or deter­mination of his will, not to be distinguished or seve­red, he condescends upon all that is done in time, as one compleat and intire mean of glorifying himself, [Page 189] so that one of them is not before another in his mind, but all together: for attaining this, he purposes to create man, he ordains the fall of all men into a state of sin and misery, & some of these upon whom he had resolved to shew his mercy, he gives them to Christ to be redeemed, & restored by grace: Others he fore-ordains them to destructions, & all this at once, with­out any such order as we imagine: Now though he intend all this at once and together, yet it doth not hence follow that all these must be executed together, as when a man intends to build a house for his own accommodation, there are many things in the house, upon which he hath not severall purposes: But yet they must be severally, and in some order done: First the foundation laid, then the Walls raised, then the roof put on; yet he did not intend the foundation to be for the walls, or the walls for the roof, but altoge­ther for himself: Even so the Lord purposes to glori­fie his mercy and justice upon a certain number of persons, and for this end to give them a being, to go­vern their falling into misery, to raise some out of it by a Mediator, and to live some into it to destructi­on, & all this as one intire mean to illustrate his glo­rious mercy and justice; but these things themselves must be done not all at once, but one before another, either as their own nature require, or as he pleaseth: the very nature of the thing requires that man be cre­ated before he sin, that he sin and fall before a Media­tor suffer for his sin, and that he have a being, before he have a glorious being, and that he have a sinfull and miserable being, before he have this glorious and gracious being, which may manifest the grace and mercy of God: But it is the pleasure of the Lord that determines in what time and order Christ shal suffer; either before or after the conversion of sinners, or whether sinners shal presently be instated in glory and perfectly delivered from all sin at their first con­version, or only in part during this life.

[Page 190] Seeing then this was his Majesties purpose to make so many vessels of honour; upon whom he might glo­rifie the riches of his grace end mercy: And so many vessels of wrath, upon whom he might shew the power of his anger: You may think what needed all this bu­sinesse of mans redemption, might not God have ei­ther preserved so many as he had appointed to glory from falling into sin and misery, or at least have freely pardoned their sin, without any satisfaction, and out of the exceeding riches of his mercy and power, have as well not imputed sin to them at all, as imputed their sins to Christ, who was not guilty? What needed his giving so many to the Son, and the Sons receiving them? What needed these mysteries of Incarnation, of Redemption, seeing he might have done all this simply without so much pains and expence, why did he choose this way? Indeed, that is the wonder, and if there were no more end for it, but to confound mortality that dare ask him what he doth, it is e­nough: Should he be call [...] down to the Bar of Humane Reason, to give an account of his mat­ters? Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or being his counsellour hath taught him? That is in the depths of his unsearchable understāding, that he chose to go this round, & to compasse his end by such a strange circuit of means, when he might have done it simply and directly without so much pain; yet it is not so hid­den, but he hath revealed as much as may satisfie or silence all flesh: For we must consider, that his great project is not simply to manifest the glory of his goodnesse, but of his gracious and mercifull good­nesse, the most tender and excellent of all; & therefore man must be miserable, sinfull, and vile, that the riches of his grace may appear in choosing and saving such persons: But that it may appear also how excel­lent he could make man, and how vain all created perfections are, being left to themselves; therefore he [Page 191] first made man righteous, and being fallen into sinne and misery, he might straight way have restored him without more ado, but his purpose was to give an ex­act demonstration of mercy, tempered and mixed with justice; and therefore he finds out the satisfacti­on in his eternall Counsell, I have found a ransome, and so he chooses Jesus Christ to be the head of these chosen souls, in whom they might be again restored unto eternal life; and these souls, he, in his everla­sting purpose, gives over to the Son to be redeemed, and these the Son receives. And thus the glory of mer­cy and justice shines most brightly; yea, more bright­ly than he had at first pardoned. O how doth his love and mercy appear, that he will transfer our sins upon his Holy Son, and accept that Redemption for us, and his Justice, that a Redemption & price he must have even from his Son, when once he comes in the stead of sinners, and in this point do the Songs of Eter­nity concenter.

Rom. 9. 22. and Eph. 1. 11.

WE are now upon a high subject; high in­deed; for an eminent Apostle, much more above our reach, the very consideration of Gods infinite wisdome might alone suffice to restrain our unlimited thoughts, and serve to sober our minds with the challenge of our own ignorance and darknesse, yet the vain and wicked mind of man will needs quarrell with God, & enter the lists of disputation with him, about his righteousnesse and wisdome in the Counsel of Election and Reprobation: But who art thou, O man, that replyest against God, or desputes,? ver. 20. This is a thing not to be disputed, but believed; and if ye will believe no more than ye can comprehend by sense or reason, then ye give his Majesty no more cre­dit than to weak mortall man: Whatever secret [Page 192] thoughts do rise up in thy heart when thou hearest of Gods fore-ordaining men to Eternall life, without previous fore-sight or consideration of their doings, & preparing men to eternall wrath, for the praises of his Justice, without previous consideration of their deser­vings, & passing a definitive sentence upon the end of all men, before they do either good or evil: When ever any secret [...]urmises rise in thy heart against this learn to answer this, enter not the lists of disputation with corrupt reason, but put in this bridle of the fear of Gods greatnesse, and the conscience of thy own basenesse, & labour to restrain thy undaunted & wild mind by it: Ponder that well, who thou art who dis­putes, who God is, against whom thou disputes, & if thou have spoken once, thou wilt speak no more, what thou art who is as clay formed out of nothing, what he is who is the former, and hath not the Potter po­wer over the clay? Consider but how great wickednes it is, so much as to question him, or ask an account of his matters, after you have found his will to be the cause of all things, then to enquire further into a cause of his wil which is alone the self-rule of righteousnesse, it is to seek something above his will, and to reduce his Majesty into the order of Creatures, it is almost abominable usurpation and sacriledge, for both it robes him of his royall prerogative, and instates the base foot-stoole in his Throne: But know, that cer­tainly God will overcome when he is judged, Psa. 51. 6. If thou judge him he will condemn thee, if thou opug [...] his absolute and holy Decrees, he will hold thee fast bound by them to thy condemnation, he needeth no other defence, but to call out thy own conscience against thee, & bind thee over to destru­ction, therefore, as on saith well, Let the rashnesse of men be restrained from seeking that which is not, lest peradventure they find that which is. Seek not a reason of his purposes, lest peradventure thou find thy own [Page 193] death and damnation infolded in them.

Paul mentions two Objections of carnal & fleshly wisdome against this Doctrine of Election and repro­bation, which indeed contain the sum of all that is vented and invented even to this day, to defile the spotlesse truth of God, all the whisperings of men tend to one of these two, either to justifie themselves, or to accuse God of unrighteousnesse; And shal a­ny do it and be guiltlesse? I confesse, some oppose this Doctrine not so much out of an intention of ac­cusing God, as out of a preposterous & ignorant zeal for God; even as Iobs friends did speak much for God. nay but it was not wel spoken, they did but speak wic­kedly for him: some speeak much to the defence of his righteousnesse and holynesse, and under pretence of that plea make it inconsistent with these; to fore-or­dain to life or death without the fore-sight of their carriage; But shall they speak wickedly for God, or will he accept their person? He who looks into the secrets of their heart knows the rise and bottome of such defences and appologies for his Holinesse; to be partly self-love, partly narrow and limited thoughts of him, drawing him down to the determination of his own greatest enemy, carnall reason. Since men will ascribe him no righteousnesse, but such a one of their own shaping, conformed to their own modell; do they not indeed rob Him of His Holinesse and Righteousnesse?

I find two or three Objections which it may be re­duced to this Head. First, it seems unrighteousnesse with God, to predestinate men to eternal death with out their own evil deserving, or any fore-thought of it; that before any man had a being God should have been in his Counsel, fitting so many to destruction: Is it not a strange mocking of the creatures, to punish them for that sin and corruption unto which by his e­ternal Counsel they were fore-ordained? This is [Page 194] even that which Paul objects to himself, is there un­righteousnesse with God? Is it not unrighteousness to hate Esau before he deserves it? Is he not unrighte­ous to adjudge him to death before he do evill? vers. 14. Let Paul answer for us, God forbid: VVhy, there needs no more answer, but all thoughs or words which may in the least reflect upon his holinesse are abomination; though we could not tell how it is righ­teous and holy with him to do it, yet this wee must hold, that it is. It is his own property to comprehend the reason of his Counsels; it is our duty to believe what he reveals of them, without further enquiry; he tells us that this it is, clearly in this Chapter; this far then we must believe: he tells us not how it is, then further we should not desire to learn; God in keeping silence of that may put us to silence, & make us conceive, that there is a depth to be admired, not sounded. Yet he goeth a little further, and indeed as high as can be to Gods will, he hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth▪ now further he cannot go, for there is nothing above this; we may descend from this, but we cannot ascend, or rise above it. But is this any answer to the Argument? A So­phister could presse it further, and take advantage from that very ground; What, is not this to establish a meer tyranny in the Lord, that he doth all things of meer will and pleasure, distributes rewards & punish­ments without previous consideration of mens carri­age? But here we must stand, and go no further than the Scriptures walks with us; what ever reasons or causes may be assigned, yet certainly, we must at length come up thither, All things are, because he so willed; and why he willed we should not ask a reason, because his will is supream reason, and the very self-rule of all Righteousness: Therefore if once we know his will, we should presently conclude that it is most righteous and holy. If that evasion of the fore-know­ledge [Page 195] of mens sins and impenitency had been found [...]id, certainly Paul would have answered so, & not [...]ve had his refuge to the absolute will and pleasure [...]f God, which seems to perplex it more; but he knew well that there could nothing of that kind, whether good or evill, either actually be without his wil, or be to come without the determination of the same will, and so could not be foreseen without the Counsel of his will upon it: and therefore it had been but a poor shi [...] to have refuge to that starting hole of fore-know­ledge, out of which he must presently flee to the will & pleasure of God, & so he betakes him straight way to that he must hold at, and opposes that will to mans doings. It is not of him that willeth, &c. If he had meant only that Iacob and Esau had actuallie done neither good nor evill, he needed not return to the sanctuary of Gods will, for still it might be said, it is of him [...]hat runs and wills, and not of Gods will as the first Original, because their good and evill foreseen did move him to such love and hatred. It is all alike of works of men, whether these works be present or to come. Therefore I would advise every one of you, what ever ye conceive of his Judgement or Mercy, if he have shewed mercy to you, O then rest not in thy self, but arise and ascend till thou come to the height of his eternal free purpose, and if thou conceive thy sin & misery and judgement, thou may go up also to his holy counsels for the glory of his Name, & silence thy self with them, but it shal be most expedient for thee in the thought of thy miseries to return alwaies within, and to search the corruption of thy nature, which may alone make thee hatefull enough to God. [...]f thou search thy own conscience, it will stop thy mouth, & make thee guilty before God. Let not the [...]hought of his eternal counsels diminish the convi­ [...]tion of thy guilt, or the hatred of thy self, for sin and [...]orruption, but dwel more constantly upon this, be­cause [Page 196] thou art called and commanded so to do. On [...] thing remaines fixed: though he hath fore-orda [...] men to death▪ yet none shal be damned till his co [...] science be [...]orced to say that he is worthy of it a thou­sand times.

There is another whispering and suggestion of the wicked hearts of men against the Predestination of God, which insinuates that God is an accepter of Per­sons, & so accuses him of partiall and unrighteous dealing, because he deals not equally with all men: do ye not say this within your selves, [...]f he find all guilty Why does he not punish all? Why does he spare some? And if he look upon all men in his first and Primitive thought of them, as neither doing good nor evil, Why does he not have mercy on all? But is thy eye evill because he is good? May he not do with his own as he pleases? Because he is mercifull to some souls, shal men be displeased, & do well to be angry? Or because he of his own free grace extends it, shall he be bound by a Rule to do so with all? Is not he both just and merciful, and is it not meet that both be shewed forth: If he punish thee; thou canst not com­plain, for thou deserves it, If he shew mercy, why should any quarrel, for it is free & undeserved grace; by saving some he shewes his grace, by destroying o­thers, he shews what all deserve. God is so far from being an accepter of persons according to their quali­fications & conditions, that he finds nothing in any creature to cast the ballance of his choice; if he did choose men for their works sake, or outward priviled­ges▪ & [...] others for the want of the [...]e, then it might be charged on him; but he rather goes over all these, nay, he finds none of these: in his first view of men, he beholds them all alike, and nothing to determine his mind to one more nor another, so that his choice proceedeth wholly from within his own breast; I will have mercy on whom I will▪ But then thirdly, our [Page 197] hearts object against the righteousnesse of God, that this fatall chain of Predestination overturns all ex­hortations & perswasions to godlinesse, all care & dili­gence in well-doing: For thus do many profane souls conceive; If he be in one mind, and who can turn him? Then, What need I pray, since he hath already de­termined what shal be, and what shal become of me? his purpose will take effect whether I pray, or pray not; my prayer will not make him change his mind, and if it be in his mind he will do it; If he have appointed to save, saved we shal be, live as we list; if he hath appointed us to death, die we must, live as we can. Therefore men, in this desperate e­state, throw themselves head-long into all manner of iniquity, and that with quietnesse & peace. Thus do many souls perish upon the stumbling stone laid in Sion, and wrest the Truths and Counsels of God to their own destruction, even quite contrary to their true intent & meaning; Paul (Eph. 1. 4.) speaks ano­ther language, He hath chosen us in him that we should be holy and without blame. His eternall Counsell of life is so far from loosing the reins to mens lusts, that it is the only certain foundation of holinesse; It is the very spring and fountain from whence our sancti­fication flowes, by an infallible course. This chain of God counsels concerning us, hath also linked toge­ther the end and the means, glory & grace, happinesse and holinesse, that there is no destroying of them. Without holiness it is impossible to see God, so that those who expect the one without any desire of, & endea­vour after the other, they are upon a vain attempt to loose the links of this eternal chain, Rom. 8. It is the only eternall choosing love of God; which separated so many souls from the common misery of men, it is that only which in time doth appear, & rise, as it were, from under ground, in the streams of fruits of sancti­fication, and if the ordinance of life stand, so shal the [Page 198] ordinance of fruits, Ioh. 15. 16. Eph. 2. 9. If he have appointed thee to life, it is certain he has also ordained the [...] to fruits, and chosen thee to be holy, so that what ever soul casts by the study of this, there is too grosse a brand of pe [...]dition upon its fore-head; it is true, all is already determined with him, & he is incapable of any change, or shadow of [...]urning; nothing then wants, but he is in one mind about it, and thy prayer cannot turn him: Yet a godly soul will pray with more con­fidence, because it knows that as he hath determined upon all its wants and receipts, so he hath appointed this to be the very way of obtaining what it wants, this is the way of familiarity and grace, he takes with his own, to make them call, and he performes his pur­pose in answer to their cry. But suppose there were no­thing to be expected by prayer; yet I say, that is not the thing thou shouldest look to, but what is required of thee by thy duty, to do that simply out of regard to his [...], though thou should never profit by it, this is true obedience to serve him for his own pleasure, though we had no expectation of advantage by it, cer­tainly he doth not require thy supplications for this end to move him, and incline his affections toward thee, but rather as a testimony of thy homage & sub­jection to him, therefore though they cannot make him of another mind than he is, or hasten performance before his purposed time, so that in reality they have no influence upon him, yet in praying, & praying di­ligently, thou declares thy obligation to him and re­spect to his Majesty, which is all thou hast to look to, and to commit the event solely to his good pleasure.

The 2. Objection Paul mentions, tends to justifie men, Why then doth ye yet find fault, who hath resisted his will? Since by his will he hath chained us with an inevitable necessi [...]y to sin, what can we do▪ Men can­not wrestle with him; why then doth he condemn & accuse them? But who art thou, O man, that disputes [Page 199] against God? as if Paul had said, thou art a man and so I am, why then looks thou for an answer from me, let us rather both consider whom we speak of, whom thou accusest, and whom I defend, it is God, what art thou then to charge him, or what am I [...]o to clear Him? Beleeving ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge, especially in these forbidden secrets, in which it is more concerning to be ignorant which faith and admiration, than to know with presumption, dis­putes thou, O man, I will wonder, reply thou; I will believe, doth it become thee, the clay to speak so to the former, Why hast thou made me thus? Let the con­sideration of the absolute right and dominion of God over us, more than any creature hath over another, yea, or over themselves, let that restrain us and keep us within bounds. He may do with us what he plea­seth, for his own honour and praise, but it is his will that we should leave all the blame to our selves, and rather behold the evident cause of our destruction in our sin, which is nearer us, than to search into a secret and incomprehensible cause in Gods Counsel.

Heb. 11. 3. ‘Through Faith we understand that the worlds were made, &c. with Gen. 1.

WE are come down from the Lords purpo­ses & decrees to the execution of them, which is partly in the works of Creation, and partly on the works of Providence. The Lord having resol­ved upon it to manifest his own glory, did, in that due and predeterminate time, apply his own power to this businesse: Having in great wisdome conceived a frame of the world in his mind from all eternity, he at length brings it forth, and makes it visible. We shal not insist upon the particular story of it, as it is set down in generall, but only point at some things for our instruction.

[Page 200] First, ye see who is the maker of all things, of whom all things visible and invisible are, it is God. And by this he useth to distinguish himself from idols, and the vanities of the Nations, that he is that self-being, who gave all things a being, who made the heavens & the earth. This is even the most glorious manifesta­tion of an invisible and eternall being: These things that are made shew him forth. If a man were travel­ling into a far Country, and wandred into a wilder­nesse where he could see no inhabitants, but only houses, villages, and cities built, he would straight way conceive, there hath been some work-man at this, this hath not been done casually, but by the Art of some reasonable creatures, how much more may we conceive when we look on the Fabrick of this world, how the heavens are streatched out for a Tent to cover them that dwel on the earth, and the earth settled and established as a firm foundation for men & living creatures to abide on, how all are done in wis­dome & discretion, we cannot but straight way ima­gine that there must be some curious and wise con­triver, and mighty Creator of these things. It is here said, that by Faith we understand that the worlds were made: Indeed faith only in the word of God gives true and distinct understanding of it, Innumerable have been the wandrings and mistakes of the wise of the world about this matter, wanting this lamp & light of the Word of God, which alone gives a true and per­fect account of this thing, many strange dotages and fancies have they fallen into; yet certain it is that there is so much of the glory of God engraven without on the creature, and so much reason imprinted on the souls of men within, that (if it were not for that judi­ciall plague of the Lords darkning their understan­dings, who do not glorifie him in as far as they know him) no man could seriously & soberly consider on the visible world, but he would be constrained to con­ceive [Page 201] an invisible God. Would not every one think within himself, all these things, so excellent as they are, cannot be out of chance, neither could they make themselves, so that of necessity they must owe what they are to something beside themselves: and of this it is certain, that it cannot have its originall from any other thing, else there should be no end: therefore it must be some supream beeing, that is from no other, and of which are all things.

But next consider, when these things were made: in the beginning; and what beginning is that? certain­ly the beginning of the creation, & of time, to exclude Eternity, what ever may be said of that subtility that, God might have created the world from all Eternity for it appears even in created things, that there is no necessity of the precedent existence of the cause, since in the same instant that many things are into being, in the same do they bring forth their effects, as the Sun in the first instant of its creation did illuminate; yet certainly we believe from the word of the Lord, that the world is actually but of a few thousand years stan­ding, six are not yet out run since the first creating word was spoken, & since the spirit of the Lord mo­ved upon the waters: & this we know also, that if it had pleased his Majesty, he might have created the world many thousand years before that, So that it might have been at this day of ten hundred times ten thousand years standing, and he might have given it as many years as there are numbers of men & An­gels, Beasts, yea & pickles of sand upon the sea-coast: But it was his good pleasure, that that very point of time in which it was created should be the beginning of time, and from that he gives us a History of the World, upon which the Church of God may rest, and so seek no other God but the God that made these heavens and earth.

This will not satisfie the ungodly curiosity and va­nity [Page 202] of mens spirits, who will reproach the Maker for not applying sooner to his work, and sitting idle such an unmeasurable space of Eternity: Men wonder what he could be doing all that time, (if we may call it time which hath no beginning) and how he was imployed: I beseech you restrain such thoughts in you with the fear of his glorious & incomprehensible Majesty, who gives no account of his matters: It is e­nough that this is his good pleasure to begin then; & he conceals his reasons, to prove the sobriety of our faith, that all men may learn an absolute and simple stouping to his Majesties pleasure. Remember that which a godly man answered some wanton curious wit, who in scorn demanded the same of him, He was preparing hell for curious and proud fools, said he: Let us then keep our hearts as with a bridle, and represse their boundless wanderings within bounds, lest we by looking upward, before the beginning of the world, to see what God was doing, fall head-long into the eter­nall pit of destruction, & into the hands of the living God. God hath shewed himself marvelously these six thousand years in the upholding this world: if we did consider these continued & repeated testimonies of his glory, we would be overwhelmed with what we find, though we search no further; and suppose we would please our selves to imagine, that it had been created many years before, yet that doth not silence & stop the insolence of mens minds, for it alwaies might be enquired, what the Lord was doing before that time? For Eternity is as immensurable before those multiplied thousands of years as before naked six: Let our imagination sit down to substract from Eternity as many thousands as it can multiply by all the varie­ties and numbers in the world, yet there is nothing a­bated from Eternity, it is as infinit in extent before that, as before the present six thousand, and yet we may conceive that the Lord hath purposed in the be­ginning [Page 203] of the world to declare more manifestly to our understanding his Eternity, his self-sufficiency & liberty; His Eternity, that when we hear of how short standing the creature is, we may go upward to God himself, & his everlasting being before the foundati­on of it were laid, may shine forth more brightly to our admiration, when we can strecth our conceptions so immensurably as far beyond the beginning of the world, and yet God is still beyond the outmost teach of our imagination (for who can find out the begin­ning of that which hath not a beginning to be found out) and our most extended apprehensions fall it finit­ly short of the dayes of the Ancient of dayes; O how glorious then must his being be, & how boundlesse? His self-sufficiency & perfection doth herein appear, that from such an inconceiveable space he was as perfect and blessed in himself as now, the Creatures add nothing to his perfection, or satisfaction; he was as well pleased with his own al-comprehending-bee­ing & with the very thought and purpose of making this world, as now he is when it is made; the Idea of it in his mind gave him as great contentment as the work it self when it is done: O to conceive this a right, it would fill a soul with astonishing & ravishing thoughts of his blindnesse: Poor men weary if they be not one way or other imployed without; so indi­gent are all Creatures at home that they would wea­ry if they went not abroad without themselves; but to think how absolutely God is well pleased with him­self and how all imaginable perfections can add no­thing to his eternall self complacency and delight in his own beeing. It would certainly ravish a soul to delight in God also: And as his self-sufficiency doth herein appear, so his liberty and freedom is likewise manifested in it. If the world had been eternall, who would have thought that it was free for his Majesty to make it or not? But that it had flowed from his [Page 204] glorious beeing with as natural and necessary a resul­tance, as light from the body of the Sun? But now it appears to all men, that for his pleasure they are made and we are created; that it was simply the free and ab­solute motion of his Will that gave a being to all things, which he could withhold at his pleasure, or so long as he pleased.

Thirdly we have it to consider in what condition he made all these things, very good, and that to declare his goodnesse & wisdome: the creature may well be called a large volume extended and spread out before the eyes of all men to be seen & read of all. It is cer­tain if these things, all of them in their orders and harmonies, or any of them in their beeings & quali­ties, were considered in relation to Gods Majesty, they would teach and instruct the fool & the wise man both, in the knowledge of God. How many impres­sions hath he made in the creatures which reflect u­pon any seeing eye the very Image of God: to cōsider of what a vaste & hudge frame the Heavens and the earth are and yet but one Throne to his Majesty, the footstool whereof is this Earth, wherein vain men e­rect many Palaces: To consider what a multitude of creatures, what variety of Fowls in the heaven, and what multiplicity of Beasts upon the earth, what Ar­mies (as Moses speaks, Gen. 2. 1.) and yet that none of them are all uselesse, but all of them have some special ends & purposes they serve for: so, that there is no discord nor disorder, no superfluity nor want in all this monarchy of the world: all of them conspire together in such a discord, or disagreeing harmony, to one great purpose; to declare the wisedom of him who made every thing beautyfull in its time, and eve­ry thing most fit and opposite for the use it was crea­ted for: so, that the whole earth is full of his goodness, he makes every creature good one to another, to sup­ply one anothers necessity; and then notwithstand­ing [Page 205] of so many different natures & dispositions be­tween Elements, and things composed of them, yet all these contrarieties have such a commixion, and are so moderated by his suppream Art, that they make up joyntly one Excellent and sweet Harmony, or beautifull proportion in the World: O, how wise must he be who alone contrived it all? We can do no­thing except we have some pattern & coppy before us; but now upon this ground which God hath laid, Man may fancy many superstructures, but when he stret­ched out the heaven, and laid the foundation of the earth, Who being his Counsellour taught him? At whom did his Spirit take Counsel? Certainy, none of all these things would have entered into the heart of man to consider or contrive. Isa. 40. 12, 13. Some ruder Spirits do gaze upon the hudge and prodigious pieces of creation, as Whales and Elephants, &c. But a wise Solomon will go to the School of the Ant to learn the wisedom of God, and choose out such a simple and mean creatur for the object of his admira­tion; certainly there are wonders in the smallest and most inconsiderable creatures which Faith can con­templat: O the curious ingeny and draught of the fin­ger of God, in the composition of Flees, of Bees, flowers &c. men ordinarly admire more, some ex­traordinary things; but the truth is, the whole course of nature is one continued wonder, and that greater than any of the Lords works without the Line: The straight and regular line of the wisdome of God (who in one constant course and tenour hath ordained the actions of all his creatures) comprehends more won­ders and mysteries, as the course of the Sunne, the motion of the Sea, the hanging of the Earth in the empty place upon nothing, these we say, are the won­ders indeed, and comprehend something in them which all the wonders of Egypt and the Wildernesse cannot parallel. But it is the stupid security of men, [Page 206] that are only awakened by some new and unusual pas­sages of Gods works, beyond that straight Line of Nature,

Then fourthly, look upon the power of God in ma­king all of nothing, which is expressed here in Heb. 11. There is no Artificer but he must have matter, or his Art will fail him, and he can do nothing: The Mason must have timber and stones laid to his hand, or he cannot build a house; the Gold-smith must have gold or silver ere he can make a Cup or a Ring; take the most curious & quick inventer of them all, they must have some matter to work upon, or their know­ledge is no bettter than ignorance; all that they can do is, to give some shape or form, or to fashion that in some new model which had a beeing before; so that what ever men have done in the world, their work; are all made up of these things which appear, and Art & skill to form & fashion that excellently, which be­fore was in another mould and fashion, but he needs not sit idle for want of materials; and therefore, in the beginning he made Heaven and Earth, not as they now are, but he made first the matter and sub­stance of this Universe, but it was as yet a rude and confused Chaos or Masse, all in one lump without dif­ference, but then his Majesty shews his Wisdom and Art, his excellent invention, in the following dayes of the creation, in ordering and beautifying, & forming the world as it is, and that his power might be the more known: For, how easie is it for him to do all this? There needs no more for it but a word, let it be, & it is, He spake, and it was done, He commanded, and it stood fast. Not, a word pronounced, and audibly composed of Letters and Syllables, mistake it not so, but a word inwardly formed, as it were in his infinite Spirit, even the inclination and beck of his will suffi­ces for his great works: Ye see what labour and pains we have in our businesse, how we toil & sweat about [Page] it, what wrestlings & strivings in all things we do, but behold what a great work is done without any pain and travel! It is a laborious thing to travell through a parcel of this earth, which is yet but as the point of the Universe: It is troublesome to lift or carry a little piece of stone or clay, its a toil even to look upward and number the stars of Heaven, but it was no toil, no difficult thing to his Majesty to stretch out these Heavens in such an infinite compasse, for as large as the Circumference of them is, yet it is as easie to him to compasse them, as it is to us to span a finger-length or two: It is no difficulty to him to take up hills and mountains as the dust of the ballance in his hand, & weigh them in scales: Hath he not chain'd the vast & huge Masse of the wighty earth and Sea in the midst of the empty place without a supporter, without foun­dations or pillars? He hangeth it on nothing, What is it, I pray you that supports the Clouds? who is it that binds up their waters in such a way that the clouds are not rent under them, even though there be more abundance of water in them than is in all the Rivers & waters round about us? Iob. 26. 7, 8. Who is it that restrains & sets bounds to the Sea, that the waters thereof thogh they roar, yet do not overflow the land? But this Almighty Jehovah, whose Decree & com­mandement is the very compasse, the bulwark over which they cannot flow, & all this he doth with more facility than men can speak; If there were a creature that could do all things by speaking, that were a strange power: but yet that creature might be weari­ed with speaking much; but he speaks and it is done, his word is a creating word of power, which makes things that are not to be, and there is no wearying of him besides, for he is Almighty, and cannot saint: but, why then did he take six dayes for his work? might he not with one word of his power have com­manded this world to issue out of his omnipotent ver­tue [Page 208] thus perfect as it is? What needed all this com­passe? Why took he six dayes who in a moment could have done it all with as much facility? Indeed, here­in the Lord would have us to adore his wisdome as well as his power; he proceeds from more imperfect things to more perfect, from a confused Chaos to a beautifull World from motion to rest, to teach man to walk through this wildernesse and valley of Tears, this shapelesse World, into a more beautiful habitati­on, through the tossings of time, into an everlasting Sabbath of rest, whether their works shal follow them, & they shal rest from their labours: He would teach us to take a stedfast look of his work, and that wee should be busied all the dayes of our pilgrimage and sojourning, in the consideration of the glorious cha­racters of God upon the work of his hands; wee see that it is but passing looks and glances of Gods glory we take in the creatures, but the Lord would have us to make it our work and businesse all the week throgh, as it was his to make them: He would in this teach us his loving care of men, who would not create Man till he had made for him so glorious an house, repleni­shed with all good things: It had been a darksome & irksome life to have lived in the first Chaos, without light, but he hath stretched over him the Heavens as his Tent; and set lights in them to distinguish times and seasons, and ordained the VVaters their proper bounds and peculiar Channels, and then maketh the Earth to bring forth all manner of fruits; & when all is thus disposed, then he c [...]eats man, To this God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, be glory and praise.

Heb. 11. 3. & Heb. 1. 14. ‘Are they not all ministring Spirits, sent forth to minister, &c.’

THere is nothing more generally known than this, that God at the beginning made the hea­ven [Page 209] and the earth, and all the hosts of them, the upper or the celestiall, the lower or sublunary World, but yet there is nothing so little believed or laid to heart: By faith we understand that the Worlds were made. It is one of the first Articles of the Creed indeed, Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, but I fear that Creed is not written in the Tables of flesh, that is, the heart: There is a twofold mistake among men a­bout the point of believing; some, and the commoner sort, do think it is no other than simply to know such a thing, and not to question it, to hear it, & not to con­tradict it, or object against it: Therefore they do flatter themselves in their own eyes, and do account themselves to have faith in God; because they can say over all the Articles of their belief, they think the Word is true, and they never doubted of it: But, I beseech you, consider how greatly you mistake a main matter of weighty concernment? If you will search it, as before the Lord, you will find you have no other belief of these things than children use to have, whom you teach to think or say any thing; there is no other ground of your not questioning these truths of the Gospel, but because you never consider on them, and so they passe for current: Do not deceive your selves, with the heart man believes; it is a heart-businesse, a soul-matter, no light and uselesse opinion, or empty expression, which you have learned from a child: You say, you believe in God the Maker of Heaven and Earth, and so say children who doubt no more of it than ye, and yet in sadnesse they do not retire within their own hearts, to think what a one he is; they do not remember him in the works of his hands, there is no more remembrance of that true God than if no such thing were known: So it is among you, you would think we wronged you, if we said, ye believed not that God made the world; & yet, certainly, all men have not this faith, whereby they understand truly in their [Page 210] heart the Power, & Wisdome, and Goodnesse of God appearing in it, that is the gift of God only given to them that shal be saved. If I should say, that you be­lieve not the most common Principles of Religion, you would think it hard, & yet there is no doubt of it, that the most common truths are least believed; and the reason is plain, because men have learned them by tongue, and there is none that question them, & there­fore very few ever in sadnesse and in earnest consider of them: You say, that God made Heaven & Earth, but how often do you think on that God? And, how often do you think on him with admiration? Do ye at all wonder at the glory of God when you gaze on his works? Is not this volume alwayes observant be­fore your eyes, every thing shewing and declaring this glorious Maker, yet who is it that taketh more notice of him than if he were not at all; such is the generall stupidity of men, that they never ponder & digest these things in their heart till their soul receive the stamp of the glory & greatnesse of the invisible God, which shines most brightly in these things that are vi­sible, and be in some measure transformed in their minds, and conformed to these glorious appearances of him, which are engraven in great Characters in all that do at all appear. There is another mistake pe­culiar to some, especially the Lords people, that they think faith is limited to some few particular and more unknown and hid truths and mysteries of the Gospell. Ye think, that it is only true believing, to imbrace some special Gospell-truths, which the multitude of people know nothing of, as the tenor of the Covenant of Grace and of Works, &c. And for other common Principles, of Gods making and ruling the World, you think that a common thing to believe them. But, saith the Apostle, By faith we understand that the worlds were made; it is that same faith spoken of in the end of Chap. 10. by which the just shal live: So then, [Page 211] here is a point of saving faith, to believe with the heart in God the Creator and Father Almighty, to take a view of Gods Almighty Power, and sufficient Goodnesse, and infinite Wisdome, shining in the Fa­brick of the World, & that with delight and admirati­on at such a glorious Fountain-being; to rise up to his Majesty by the degrees of his creatures, this is the climing and aspiring nature of Faith. You see how much those Saints in the Old Testament were in this; and certainly, they had more excellent and be­seeming thoughts of God than we. It should make Christians ashamed, that both Heathens who had no other Book opened to them, but that of Nature, did read it more diligently than we: And that the Saints of Old, who had not such a plain testimony of God as we now have, yet did learn more out of the Book of the Creature, then we do both out of it and the Scri­ptures: We look on all things with such a carelesse eye, and do not observe what may be found of God in them: I think verily there are many Christians, and Ministers of the Gospel, who do not ascend into those high and ravishing thoughts of God, in his being and working, as would become even meer Naturalists; How little can they speak out of his Majesty, or think, as it becomes his transcendent glory. There is little in Sermons or discourses that holds out any singular admiring thoughts of a Deity, but in all these we are so common and carelesse, as if he were an Idol.

It is not in vain that it is expressed thus, By faith we know that the worlds were made, for certainly the firm believing & pondering of this one truth, would be of great moment and use to a Christian in all his jour­ney. You may observe in what stead it is to the Saints in Scripture: This raises up a soul to high thoughts, and sutable conceptions of his glorious Name, & so conforms the worship of his Majesty un­to his excllency, it puts the stamp of Divinity upon [Page 212] it spiritualizes the thoughts and affections so, as to put a true difference between the true God, and the gods that made not the Heavens & the Earth. Alace, the worship of many Christians speaks out no diviner or higher object than a creature, it is so cold, so for­mall, and empty, so vain & wandring, there is no more respect testified unto him, than we would give to some eminent person: You find in the Scripture how the strain of the Saints affections and devotion rises, when they take up God in his absolute Supremacy a­bove the creatures, & look on him as the alone foun­tain of all that is worth the name of perfection in them. A soul in that consideration cannot chuse but assign unto him the most eminent seat in the heart, & gather those affections which are scattered after the creatures into one channell, to pour them out on him who is all in all, and hath all that which is lovely in the creatures in an eminent degree. Therefore know what you are formed for, to shew forth his praise, to gather and take up from the creatures all the fruits of his praise, and offer them up to his Majesty: This was the end of man, & this is the end of a Christian, you are made for this, and you were redeemed for this, to read upon the volumes of his works, & word, and from thence extract songs of praise to his Majesty.

As this would be of great moment to the right wor­shipping of God, and to the exercise of true holiness, so it is most affectual to the establishing of a soul in the confidence of the promises of God: When a soul by faith understands the world was made by God, then it relyes with confidence upon that same word of God, as a word of power, and hopes against hope: There are many things in the Christians way be­twixt him and glory, which look as insuperable: thou art often emptied into nothing and stript naked of all encouragements, and there is nothing remaining but the word of Gods promises to thee and to the Church [Page 213] which seems contrary to sense and reason; Now, I say if thou do indeed believe that the world was made by God, then out of all Question thou may silence all thy fears with this one thought, God created this whole frame out of nothing, he commanded the light to shine out of darknesse, then certainly he can give a beeing to his own promises, is not his word of pro­mise as sure and effectuall, as his word of command? This is the grand incouragement of the Church, both offered by God, from Isa. Chap. 40. and made use of by his Saints, as David, Hezekiah, &c. What is it would disquiet a soul if it were reposed on this Rock of creating power and faithfulnesse? This would al­wayes sound in its ears, faint not, weary not, Iacob, I am God, and none else, the portion of Iacob is not like others, be it inward or outward difficulties, suppose Hell and Earth combined together, let all the ene­mies of a soul, or of the Church assemble, here is one for all, the God that made the Heaven and the Earth can speak, and it is done, command, and it stands fast: He creates peace, and who then can make trouble, when he gives quietnesse to a Nation, or to a person. Al­mighty power works in Saints, and for Saints, let us trust in him.

Gen. 1. 26, 27. ‘And God said, Let us make man after our own Image,’ with Eph. 4. 24. and Heb. 3. 10.

WHile we descend from the meditation of the glory of God shining in the Hea­vens, in Sun, Moon, and Stars, unto the consideration of the Lords framing of Man after this manner, we may fall into admiration with the Psalmist, Psalm 8. Lord what is man that thou art so mindful of him, or the Son of man that thou shouldest remember him. It might indeed drown us in wonder, and astonish us, to think what speciall notice He hath taken of such a creature [Page 214] from the very beginning, and put more respect upon him then upon all the more Excellent works of his hands, you find here the Creation of man expressed in other tearms than was used before, He said, let there be light, and it was, let there be dry land. &c. But it is not such a simple word as that, but let us make man ac­cording to our image, as if God had called a consulta­tion about it, what, was there any more difficulty in this then the rest of his works? Needed he any ad­visement about his frame and constitution? No cer­tainly, for there was a great work of power, as curious peeces of Art & wisdome, which were instantly done upon his word, He is not a man that he should advise or consult, as there is no difficulty nor impediment in the way of his power, (He doth all that he pleases, ad nutum, at his very word or nod, so easie are impos­sibilities to him) so there is nothing hard to his wise­dom, no knot but it can loose, nothing so curious or exquisite, but he can as curiously contrive it, as the most common and grosse peeces of the creation, and therefore, He is wonderful in counsell, & excellent in working. But ve have here expressed, as it were, a Counsell of the Holy and Blessed Trinity about Mans Creation, to signifie to us what peculiar re­spect He puts upon that Creature, and what speci­all notice he takes of us, that of his own free pur­pose and good pleasure he was to single and choose out man from among all other Creatures, for the more eminent demonstration of his glorious attributs of grace, mercy and justice upon him; and likewise to point out the excellency that God did stamp upon man in his Creation beyond the rest of the creatures, as the Apostle showes the excellency of Christ above Angels, To which of the Angels said he at any time, thou art my Son? Heb. 1. 5. So we may say, of which of the creatures said he at any time, come, let us make them in our image, after our likenesse? O how should [Page 215] this make us listen to hear, earnest to know what man once was, how magnified of God and set above the works of his hands? There is a great desire in men to search into their Original, and to trace backward the dark footsteps of antiquity, especially if they be put in expectation of attaining any honourable or me­morable extraction? How will men love to hear of the worth of their Ancestors? But what a stupidity doth possesse the most part in relation to the high fountain and head of all, that they do not aim so high as A­dam, to know the very estate of humane nature: hence it is, that the most part of people ly still astonished, or rather stupid and senselesse after this great fall of man, because they never look upward to the place and dig­nity from whence man did fall. It is certain you will never rightly understand your selves, or what ye are, till ye know first what man was made? You cannot imagine what your present misery is, till you once know what that selicity was, in which man was made (let us make man in our image) some have called man a little world, a compend of the world, because he hath heaven and earth, as it were, married together in him; two most remote and distant natures, the dust of the earth, and the immortall Spirit, which is called the breath of God, sweetly linked and conjoyned to­gether, with a disposition and inclination one to ano­ther. The Lord was in this piece of workmanship as it were to give a narrow and short compend of all his works, & so did associate in one piece with his marve­lous wisdome, being, living, moving, sense and rea­son, which are scattered abroad in the other creatures, so that a man carries these wonders about with him, which he admires without him. At his bare and sim­ple word this huge frame of the world started out of nothing, but in this he acts the part of a cunning Ar­tificer, let us make man, he makes rather than creats, first raises the walls of flesh, buildeth the house of the [Page 216] body withall its Organs, all its Rooms, and then he puts in a noble & divine guest to dwel in it, He breaths in it the breath of life, he incloseth, as it were, an An­gel within it, and marrieth these two together into the most admirable union and communion that can be imagined, so that they make up one man.

But that which the Lord looks most into is this work, and would have us most to consider, is that I­mage of himself that he did imprint on man (let us make man in our own Image) there was no creature but it had some ingravings of God upon it, some curi­ous draughts and lineaments of his Power, Wisdome and goodnesse upon it, and therefore the Heavens are said, to shew forth his glory, &c. But whatever they have, it is but the lower part of that image, some dark shaddows and resemblances of him, but that which is the last of his works, he maketh it according to his own image, tanquam ab ultima manu, he there­in gives out himself to be read and seen of all men as in a glasse, other creatures are made, as it were, according to the similitude of his footstep, ad similitudinem ve­stigii, but man, ad similitudinem faciei, according to the likenesse of his face (in our image, after our like­nesse) It is true, there is one only, Jesus Christ his Son, who is the brightnesse of his glory, and the express substantiall image of his person, who resembleth him perfectly, and throughly in all properties, so that he is alter idem, another-self, both in nature, properties, & operations, so like him, that he is one with him; so that it is rather an onenesse, than a likenesse; but man he created according to his own Image, and gave him to have some likenesse to himself, likenesse I say, not samenesse, or onenesse. That is high indeed to be like God; The notion and expression of it imports some strange thing, how could man be like God, who is in­finite, incomprehensible, whose glory is not commu­nicable to another? It is true indeed, in these incom­municable [Page 217] properties he hath not only, no equal, but none to liken him, in these he is to be adored, & ad­mired as infinitely transcending all created perfecti­ons & conceptions; but yet in others he has been pleased to hold forth himself to be imitated and fol­lowed: and that this might be done, he first stamps them upon man in his first moulding of him, & if ye would know what these are particularly, the Apostle expresses them Col. 3. 10. in knowledge, in rightous­nesse, and holinesse. Eph. 4. 24. This is the Image of him who created him, which the Creator stamped on man, that he might seek him, and set him apart for himself to keep communion with him, and to bless him. There is a spirit given to man with a capacity to know, and to will, And here is a draught and linea­ment of Gods face, which is not engraven on any sen­sitive creature; It is one of the most noble and excel­ [...]ent operations of life, in which a man is most above beasts, to reflect upon himself & his Creator: There [...]re naturall instincts given to other things, naturall [...]ropensions to those things that are convenient to [...]heir own nature, but none of them have so much [...]s a capacity to know what they are, or what they [...]ave, they cannot frame a notion of him who [...]ave them a beeing, but are only proportionate [...]o the discerning of some sensible things, and can [...]each no further: He hath limited the eye within co­ [...]ours, and light; he hath set a bound to the care that [...] cannot act without sounds, and so every sense he [...]ath assigned his own proper stanse, in which it moves [...]ut he teaches man knowledge, and he enlarges the [...]hear of his understanding beyond visible or sensible [...]hings, to things invisible, to spirits; & this capacity [...]e hath put in the soul to know all things, and it self [...]mong the rest; the eye discerns light, but sees not it [...]lf, but he gives a Spirit to man to know himself, and [...]is God: and then there is a willing power in the soul [Page 218] by which it diffuses it self towards any thing that is conceived as good, the understanding directing, and the will-commanding according to its direction, and then the whole faculties and senses obeying such com­mands, which makes up an excellent draught of the image of God: There was a sweet proportion and harmony in Adam, all was in due place, and subordi­nation; the motions of immortall man did begin within, the lamp of reason did shine & give light un­to it, & till that went before, here was no stirring, no chusing or refusing, & when reason which was one sparkle of the divine nature, or a ray of Gods light reflected into the soul of man, when once that did ap­pear to the discerning of good & evil, this power was in the soul to apply the whole man accordingly, to chose the good and refuse the evil, it had not been a lively resemblance of God to have a power of knowing and willing simply, unlesse these had been beautified and adorned with supernaturall and divine graces of spiri­tual light and holinesse, & righteousnesse, these make up the lively colour, and compleat the image of God upon the soul.

There was a Divine Light which did shine in, u­pon the understanding, ever till sin interposed & E­clipsed it, and from the light of Gods countenance did the sweet heat, & warmnesse of holinesse & upright­nesse in the affections proceed, so that there was no­thing but purity and cleannesse in the soul, no dark­nesse of ignorance, no muddinesse of carnall affecti­ons, but the soul pure and transparent, to receive the refreshing and enlightning rayes of Gods glorious countenance, and this was the very face and beauty of the soul, it is that only that is the beauty and excel­lency of the creature, conformity to God, & this was throughout, in understanding and affections, the un­derstanding conformed to his understanding, discern­ing between good and evil, and conformed it beho­ved [Page 219] to be, for it was ou [...] a ray of that Sun a stream of that fountain of wisdom, and a light derived from that primitive light of Gods understanding, and then the will did sympathize as much with his will, approving and chusing what he approved, & refusing that which he hated: I dem velle atque idem nolle, ea demum fir­ma est amicitia, that was the conjunction, and it is more strict than any [...]ye among men, there was not two wills, they were, as it were, one the love of God re­flecting into the soul, did as it were, carry the soul back again unto him, & that was the conforming principle which fashioned the whole man without and within, [...]o his likenesse, & to his obedience: Thus man was [...]ormed for communion with God, this likenesse be­hoved to be, or they could no: joyn as friends.

But now this calls us to a sad meditation, to think [...]om whence we have fallen, and so how great our fall [...]s, to fall from such a blessed estate, that must be great misery: Sathan hath spoyled us of our rich treasure, [...]hat glorious image of holinesse. And hath drawn [...]pon our souls the very visage of hell, the lineaments [...]f his hellish countenance, but the most part of men [...] stupid, insensible of any thing, as beasts that are fel­ [...]d with their fall, that can neither find pain nor rise: [...] we could but return and consider what are all those [...]d and woefull consequences of sin in the world, what [...] strange distemper it hath put in the Creation? What [...]iseries that one fall hath brought one all mankind? [...] am sure by these bruises we might conjecture what [...] strange fall it hath been. Sin did interpose between God & us, and this darkned our souls, & killed them, [...]e light of knowledge was put out, and the life of ho­ [...]nesse extinguished, and now there remains nothing [...] all that stately building, but some ruines of com­ [...]on principles of reason, and honesty engraven on all [...]ens consciences; which may shew unto us what the [...]ilding hath been, we have fallen from holinesse, and [Page 220] so from happynesse, our soules are deformed & defiled you see what an ill favoured thing it is, to see a child wanting any members, O if sin were visible, how ugly would the shape of the soul be to us, since it lost the very proportion and visage of it, that is, Gods I­mage? Let us consider this Doctrine that we may know from whence we have fallen, and into what a gulf of sin and misery we have fallen, that the new news of Jesus Christ a Mediator and Redeemer of fallen man, may be sweet unto us. Thus it pleased the Lord to let his Image be marred & quite spoiled in us, for he had thus design to repair it and renew it better than of old, and for this end he hath created Christ according to his image, he hath stamped that image of holinesse upon his flesh, to be a pattern; and not only so, but a pledge also, of restoring such souls as flee unto him for refuge, unto that primitive glory and excellency: Know then that he hath made his Son like unto us, that we might again be made like unto him, he said, let one of us be made man, in the counsel of Redemption, that so it might again be said, let man be made like unto us, in our image: It is a second Creation must do it, and O that you would look upon your hearts to enquire if it be framed in you, certainly you must again be created into that I­mage if you belong to Christ: To him be praise & Glory.

Rom. [...]1. 36. ‘Of him & through him, and for him are all things,’ &c. Psal. 103. 19. ‘His Kingdome is over all.’ Matt. 10. 29. ‘A Sparrow shal not fall without your Fathers will.’

THere is nothing more commonly confessed in words, than that the providence of God reaches in all the creatures and their actions; But I believe there is no point ofReligion so superficially & sleight­ [...] considered by the most part of men: The most [Page 221] part ponder none of these divine truths, there is no­thing above their senses which is the subject of their meditations: and for the children of God, I fear ma­ny do give such truths of God too common & course entertainment in their minds, through a conceit of the commonnesse of them, I know not what we are taken up with in this age, with some particular truths more remote from the knowledge of others in former times, or some particular cases concerning our selves: You will find the most part of Christians stretch not their thoughts beyond their own conditions or inte­rests, or some particular questions, about Faith & re­pentance, &c. And in the mean time the most weigh­ty points of Religion, which have been the subject of the meditation and admiration of Saints in all ages, are wholly laid aside through a misapprehension of their commonnesse, as if a man would despise the Sun & the Air, & prefer some rare piece of stone or tim­ber to them. Certainly, as in the disposall of the World, the Lord hath in great wisdome & goodness made the most needfull & usefull things most com­mon; those, without which man cannot live, are al­wayes obvious to us, so that if any thing be more rare, it is not necessary: So in this Universe of Religion; he in mercy & wisdome hath so framed all, that those points of truth & belief, which are most near the sub­stance of Salvation, & necessary to us, & most fit to exercise us in true godlinesse, these are every where to be found, partly engraven on mens hearts, partly set down most clearly & often in Scripture, that a be­lieving soul can look no where but it must breath in that air of the Gospel, & look upon that common Sun of Righteousnesse, God the Creator, & the healing Sun, Christ the Redeemer, shining every where in Scripture. The general Providence of God, & the special Administration of Christ the Saviour, these are common, and these are essentiall to our happines; [Page 222] therefore the meditation of Christians should run most upon them, & not alwayes about some particu­lar questions or debates of the time. It is a strange thing how people should be more affected with a dis­course of the affairs of the time, or on some inward thoghts of their own hearts, than if one should speak of Gods Universall Kingdom over all men & Nati­ons; that is accounted a generall and ordinary dis­course; even, as if men would set at nought the Suns light, because it shines to all, & every day: Or would despise the water, because it may be found every where: Let the Sun be removed for some few dayes, and O what would the world account of it beyond all your curious devices or rare enjoyments. This is it which would increase to more true godlinesse, if rightly believed, than many other things ye are busied withall. Its our general view of them makes them but general. I spoke once upon this word, Rom. 11. 36. but only in reference to the end of man, which is Gods glory; But the words do extend further, & we must now consider what further they hold forth. The A­postle hath been speaking of the Lords unsearchable wayes and judgements towards men in the dispensati­on of grace and salvation, how free and absolute he is in that. And this he strengthens by the supream wisdome of God, who did direct him? Why dost thou, O man, take upon thee to direct him now? For, where was there any Counsellor when he alone con­trived all the frame of this World, and then by Sove­raign highnesse and supremacy over the creatures dis­posed of them? For he is debitor to none, therefore none can quarrel him for giving or not giving, for who was it that gave him first, for which he should give a recompence? Was there any could prevent with a gift? Nay, none could, saith he, for of him, & through him, & for him are all things; And therefore he must prevent men. For from whence [Page 223] should that gift of the creature, which could oblidge him, have its rise? It must be of God if it be a crea­ture, and therefore he is in no mans common, he must give it ere we have it to give him again.

The words are most comprehensive, they com­prehend all things, & that is very large: There is no­thing without this compasse, & they comprehend all the dependance of things. Things depend upon that which made them, that which preserves them, and for which they are made. All things depend on him as their producing cause, that first gives them a being: For of him are all things: they also depend on him as their conserving cause who continues their being by that self-same influence wherewith he gave it, For through him are all things: And then they depend on him as their final cause, for whose glory they are, and are continued, for, For him are all things. Thus you have the beginning, the countenance, and the end of the whole Creation: This word may lead us through all: from God as the beginning, the Alpha & origi­nall of their Being: Through God as the only sup­porter, confirmer & upholder of their being: and unto God as the very end for which they have their being. Now to travel within this compass, to walk continualy within this Circle, & to go alongs this blessed round; to begin at God, & to go along all our way with him, till we arrive and end at God; and thus to do continu­ally in the journey of meditation, when it surveyes any of his works, this were, indeed, the very proper work, & the speciall happinesse man was created for, and, I may say, a great part of that for which a Chri­stian is created for: Again, there would nothing more powerfull to the conforming of a soul to God, & to his obedience and fear than this, to have that per­swasion firmly rooted in the heart, That of God are all things: That whatever it be, good or evil, that befals us or others; whatever we observe in the World, that is the subject of the thoughts and discourses of men, [Page 224] & turns mens eyes after them, that all that is of God; that is, it is in the world, its started out of nothing at his command; it is, because his power gave it a bee­ing: and in this consideration to overlook, and, in a manner forget all second causes; to have such affect­ing and up-taking thoughts of the first principle of all these motions, as to regard the lower wheels, that are next to us, no more nor the hand or the sword that a man strikes us with: As if these second causes had no influence of their own, but were meerly acted & mo­ved by this supream power, as if God did nothing by them, but only at their presence. We should so labour to look on those things he doth by creatures, as if he did them alone without the creatures, as if he were this day creating a world: Certainly, the solid Faith of Gods providence will draw off the covering of the creature, and espy the secret Almighty power which acts in every thing to bring forth his good pleasure concerning them: And then to consider, with that same seriousnesse of meditation, that the same everla­sting arm which made them, is under them to support them; that the most noble and excellent creatures are but streams, rayes, images, and shaddows of Gods Ma­jesty, which as they have their beeing by derivation, so they have their continuance by that same continu­ed influence; so that if he would interpose between himself and them, or withdraw his countenance, or stop his influence, the most sufficient of them all should evanish, as the Sunne-beams dry up the streams of a fountain, & disappear at the image of the glass, Psal. 102. 29, 30. O that place were a pertinent object of a Christians meditation: How much of God is to be prest out of it by serious pondering of it? Thou hidest thy face and they are troubled, thou takest away thy breath and they die, thou sendest out thy spirit & they are created. It is even with the very beeing & fa­culties of the creature as with the image of the glasse, [Page 225] which when the face removes its seems no more: The Lord, as it were, breaths into them a being, and when he takes in his breath they perish, and when he sends it out again they are renewed; we do not won­der at the standing of the world, but think, if we had been witnesses of the making of it, we would have been filled with admiration: But certainly, it's only our stupidity that doth not behold that same wonder continued: For what is the upholding of this by his power, but a very continued and repeated Creation? Which influence were able to bring a World out of nothing. If this had not been before the vertue and power he imployes now in making them subsist, that same alone without any addition of power, wold have in the beginning made all this to be of nothing; so that the countenance of the World is nothing else but an uninterrupted, and constant flux & emanation of these things from God, as of light from the body of the Sun. And then to meditate how all these things are for him, and his glory, though we know no use nor end of them, yet that his Majesty hath appointed them to shew forth, one way or other, the glory of his Name in them; and these things which to our first & foolish apprehensions seem most contrary to him, and, as it were, so spread a cloud of darknesse over his glorious Name, the sins and perverse doings of men and An­gels, the many disorders and confusions in the world; which seem to reflect some way upon him; that yet he hath holy and glorious ends in them all; yea, that himself is the end of all: I say, to meditate on these things till our soul received the stamp of reverence & fear, and faith in God, this would certainly be the most becoming exercise of a Christian, to bring all things down from God, that we might return and as­cend with all things again unto God.

This is the most sutable employment of a man, as reasonable, much more as a Christian, that very du­ty [Page 226] he is created for. This people have I formed for my self, they shall shew forth my praise. Isa. 43. 21. And this is the shewing forth of his praise, to follow forth the footsteps of God in the Word, and in the World, and to ponder these paths of divine Power, and good­nesse, and Wisedom, and to acknowledge him with our heart in all these. He made many creatures on which his glory and praise is shewed forth, & he made this creature Man to shew forth that praise, and that glory which is shewed forth in other creatures. O but this is a divine Office, it is strange how our hearts are carried forth towards base things, and busied in many vain, impertinent and base employments, and scarce ever mind this great one we were created for.

Certainly, this is the employment we were made for, to deduce all things from God til we again reduce all to him with glory; to bring all down from his e­verlasting Counsels untill we send all up to his Eter­nall glory, together with the sacrifice of our hearts; To behold all things to be of him, that is, of his eter­nal Counsel and Decree, to have their rise in the bo­some of that; and then through him, to proceed out of the bosome of his Decree and Purpose by his Pow­er, quasi obstetricante potentia, and then to return with all the praise and glory to his ever glorious Name, for whom are all things. There is none but they will al­low God some government in the world; Some would have him as a King, commanding and doing all by Deputies, and Substitutes; Some would have his influence generall, like the Suns upon sublunary things, but how shallow are all mens thoughts in re­gard of that which is. God has prepared, indeed, his Throne in heaven; that is true, that his glory doth manifest it self in some strange and majestick manner above, but he whole tenour of Scripture shews, that he is not shut up in heaven, but that he immediatly cares for, governs, & disposes all things in the world, [Page 227] for his kingdome is over all: It is the weaknesse of Kings, not their glory, that they have need of Depu­ties; it is his glory, not basenesse to look to the mea­nest of their creatures; it is a poor resemblance & em­pty shadow that Kings have of him: He rules in the Kingdomes of men, & to him belongs the dominion & the glory, he deserves the name of a King, whose beck Heaven & earth obeyes. Can a King command that the Sea flow not? Can a Parliament act and ordain that the Sun rise not, or will these obey them? Yet at his decree and command the Sun is dark, the Sea stands still, the Mountains tremble, at thy rebuke the Seafled. Alas! What do we mean that we look u­pon creatures, & act our selves as if we were indepen­dent in our being and moving? How many things fall out & you call them casuall, & attribute them to Fortune? How many things do the World gaze u­pon, think upon, and discourse upon, and yet not one thought, one word of God all the time? What more contingent than the falling of a sparrow on the grōnd? And yet even that is not unexpected to him, but it flows from his will & counsel: What lesse taken notice of or know than the hairs of your head? yet these are particularly numbred by him, and so no power in the World can add to them, or diminish from them, without his counsell. O, what would the belief of this do to raise our hearts to sutable thoghts of God above the creatures, to encrease the fear, faith and love of God, and to abate from our fear of men, & our vain and unprofitable cares and perplexities? How would you look upon the affairs of men the counsels, contri­vances, endeavours; & successes of men, when they are turning upside down, and plotting the ruine of his people, & establishing themselves alone in the earth? What would you think of all these revolutions at this time? Many souls are astonished at them, and stand gazing at what is done and to be done; and this is the [Page 228] very language of your spirits and wayes. The Lord hath forsaken the earth, the Lord seeth not: this is the lan­guage of our Parliaments and people, they do imagine that they are doing their own businesse, and making all sure for themselves: But O, what would a soul think that could escape above them all and arise up to the first wheele of present motions? A soul that did stand upon the exaled Tower of the Word of God, and looked off it by the prospect of faith, would pre­sently discover the circle in which all these wandrings and changes are confined, and see Men, States, Ar­mies, Nations, and all of them doing nothing but turning about in a round (as horse in a Mill) from Gods eternall purpose, by his Almighty Power, to his unspeakeable glory: you might behold all these extra­vagant motions of the creatures, inclosed within those limits, that they must begin here, and end here, though themselves are so beastly, that they neither know of whom, nor for whom their counsels and acti­ons are: Certainly, Satan cannot break without this compasse to serve his own humour, principalities and powers cannot do it, if they will not glorifie him, he shal glorifie himself by them, and upon them.

Gen. 2. 17. ‘In that day thou eatest, thou snalt die the death.’ Gen. 1. 26. ‘Let us make man according to our image.’

THe state wherein man was created at first, you heard was exceeding good, all things very good; and he best of all, the choisest externall & vi­sible peece of Gods workmanship, made according to the most excellent pattern, after our Image; though it be a double misery to be once happy; yet seeing the knowledge of our misery is by the grace of God made the entry to a new happinesse, it is most necessary to take a view of what man once was, that we may be more sensible of what he now is. You may take up [Page 229] this Image and likenesse in three branches. First, there was a sweet conformity of the soul in its under­standing, will, and affections unto Gods holinesse & light: A beautifull light in the mind, dirived from that fountain-light, by which Adam did exactly know both divine and naturall things: What a great diffe­rence doth yet appear between a learned man and an ignorant rude person, though it be but in relation to naturall things; the one is but like a beast in com­parison of the other? O how much more was there between Adams knowledge, and that of the most lear­ned? The highest advancement of Art and Industry in this life, reaches no further then to a learned igno­rance of the mysteries in the works of God, and yet there is a wonderfull satisfaction to the mind in it; But how much sweet complacency hath Adam had, whose heart was so enlarged as to know both thing higher and lower, their natures, properties, & vertues, and severall operations? No doubt could trouble him, no difficulty vex him, no controversie or questi­on perplex him; but above all, The knowledge of that glorious & eternall Being, that gave him a be­ing, and iniused such a spirit into him; the beholding of such infinite treasures of wisdome, and goodness, & power in him, what an amiable and refreshfull sight would it be, when there was no cloud of sin and igno­rance to interpose and eclipse the full enjoyment of that increated light? When the Aspect of the Sun makes the Moon so glorious & beautifull, What may you conceive of Adams soul framed with a capacity to receive light immediatly from Gods countenance? How fair and beautifull would that soul be, until the dark cloud of sin did interpose it self? Then consider what a beautifull rectitude and uprightnesse, what a comely order and subordination would ensue upon this light, and make his will and affections wonderfull good? Eccl. 7. 29. God made man upright. There [Page 230] was no throw or crack in all, all the powers of the sou bending upright towards that fountain of all gooness; now the soul is crooked & bends downward towards those base earthly things, that is the abasement of the soul, then it looked upright towards God, had no ap­petite, no delight but in him and his fulnesse, and had the Moon or changeable World under its feet; there was a beauty of holynesse and righteousnesse, which were the colours that did perfect and adorn these li­neaments of the Image of God, which knowledge did draw in the soul: He was a burning and shining light, may be truly said of Adam, who had as much life as light, as much delight in God as knowledge of him: this was the right constitution and disposition of Man his head lifted up in holinesse & love towards God, his arms stretched out in righteousnesse and equity towards man, and all the affections of the man under their command, they could not trouble this sea with any tempest, because they were under such a powerful Commander, who kept them under such aw & obe­dience, as the Centurion his servants, saying unto one go, and he goeth, and to another come, & he cometh, sending out love one way, holy hatred another way. These were as Wings to the Bird to flee upon, as Wheels to the Chariot to run upon, thogh now it be turned just contrary, that the Chariot draws the Coach-man, because the motion is downward. There could be no motion in an upright mans soul till the holy and righteous will gave out a sentence upon it; that was the Primum mobile, which was turned about it self by such an Intelligentia as the understanding. And so it was in Christ, affection could not move him, but he did move his own affections, He troubled himself. In us the servants rides on horses, and the Prince walks on foot; and as in a distempered society, the Laws & Ordinances proceed by an unnaturall way, from the violence of unruly subjects usupring [Page 231] over their Masters. Holy and righteous man could both raise up his affections, and compose them again, they were under such nurture and discipline; He could have said, Hitherto, and no further, in which there was some resemblance of God, ruling the raging and unruly Sea, But now, if once they get entry into our City, they are more powerfull than the Gover­nour, & will not take laws from him, but give rather; when we have given way to our passions, they do next what they please, not what we permit.

Next his excellency consisted in such an immuni­ty and freedom from all fear of misery and danger, from all touch of sorrow or pain, & did enjoy such an holy complacency and delight in his own estate, as made him compleatly happy. In this he was like God. That is, His blessednesse that he is absolutely well pleased in himself, that he is without the reach of fear & danger, that none can impair it, none can match it, I am God, and none else, that is sufficiency of delight to know himself and his own sufficiency: Indeed, Man was made changeable, mutably good, that in this he might know God was above him, and so might have ground of watchfulnesse and dependance upon him for continuance of his happinesse who made him hap­py: But being made so upright, no disquieting fear, nor perplexing care could trouble him. Then lastly, if you add unto this, holy satisfaction with his own state and freedom, the dominion and soveraignty he had o­ver the creatures, as a consequent flowing from [...] Image, you may imagine what a happy Creature he was. Whatsoever contentment or satisfaction the Creatures could afford, all of them willingly & plea­santly wold concur to bestow it upon man, without his care or toil, as if they had accounted it their happines to serve him. What more excellent than this order? Man counting it his happinesse and delight to serve God, & creatures esteeming it their happiness to serve [Page 232] Man, all things running towards him with all their goodnesse, as to a common Center: And he return­ing all to God from whence they did immediatly flow: Thus besides the fulnesse and riches of Gods good­ness immediatly conferred upon man, he was enrich­ed with all store & goodness that the earth was full of.

God having made man thus, & furnished him after this manner, he gave him a Law, and then he made a Covenant with him, there was a Law first imprin­ted into Adam, and then a Law prescribed unto him, there was a Law written in his heart, the remainder of which, Paul saith, makes the Gentiles inexcusable; but it was perfectly drawn in him: All the principles and notions of good and evil, were exactly drawn in it: He had a naturall discerning of them, and a natu­rall inclination to all good, and aversion from all evil: As there is a kind of Law imposed by God upon other creatures, vvhich they constantly keep, and do not swerve from, even his decree and commande­ment, to the obedience of vvhich they are composed and [...]amed, the Sea hath a Law & command to flow and ebbe, and it is that command that breaks its proud vvaves on the sand, when they threaten to over-flow mountains, the beasts obey a Law written in their eating and drinking, of satisfying their senses, & eve­ry one hath its severall instinct & propension to seve­rall operations: So God gave a more noble instinct unto man, suiteable to his reasonable soul, an instinct and impulse to please God, in such duties of holinesse & righteousnesse, a sympathy with such wayes of inte­grity and godlinesse, and an innate antipathy against such wayes as vvere displeasing to him or dishonour­able to the creature: There is a kind of comlinesse & sweet harmony and proportion, between such works; as the love of God, and man, the use of all for his glo­ry, of whom all things are, and mans reasonable being; such a thing doth suite and become it: Again other [Page 233] things as the hatred of God and men, neglect and forgetfulnesse of him, drunkennesse and abasing lusts of that kind, do disagree, and are undecent to it: O how happy was Adam when holinesse and righteous­nesse were not written on Tables of stone, but on his heart, and when there was no need of externall per­swasion, but there was an inward impulse inclining him strongly, and laying a kind of sweet necessity, u­pon him, to that which was both his duty to God & men, and his own dignity and priviledge? This was no question, the very beauty of his soul, to be not on­ly under a Law, proper & peculiar to himself, but to be inwardly framed & moulded to it, to be a living law unto himself.

But besides this inward imprinted law, of Holines and Righteousnesse, which did without more rules direct and determine him to that which is in it self good, it pleased the Lord to prescribe and impose a positive Law unto him, to command him abstinence from a thing neither good nor evill, but indifferent and such a thing as of it self he might have done, as well as made use of any other creature; there was no difference between the fruit was discharged him, and the fruit of the rest of the garden, there was nothing in it did require abstinence, and nothing in him ei­ther. Yet for most wise and holy ends, the Lord en­joyns him to abstain from that fruit, and puts an act of restraint upon him, to abridge his libertie in that which might prove his obedience and not hinder his happinesse, or diminish it; because he furnished him abundantly beside. You may perceive two reasons of it: one is, that the soveraign power and dominion of God over all men may be more eminently held forth and that visibly in such asymbol and sign. He who put man in such a well furnished house, and placed in such a plentifull and fruitfull garden, reserves one tree, thou shalt not eat thereof, to let Adam see and know [Page 234] that he is the Soveraign owner of all things, and that his dominion over the creatures, and their service un­to him, was not so much for any naturall prerogative of man above them, as out of divine bounty and in­dulgence, because he had chosen a creature to him­self, to beautifie and make happy. This was a stan­ding visible testimony to bring man continually to re­membrance of his Soveraignty, that being thus far ex­alted above other creatures, he might know himself to be under his Creator, and that he was infinitely above him: That he might remember his own ho­mage and subjection to God, when ever he looked upon his dominion over the creatures, and truly in other naturall duties which an inward principle & in­stinct drives unto, the suitablenesse and conveniency o [...] beauty of the thing, doth often preponderate, and might make man to observe them, without so much reward of the will and pleasure of the most high, but in this the Lord would have no other reason of obedi­ence to appear, but his own absolute will and pleasure to teach all men to consider in their actings, rather the will of the Commander, than the goodnesse or use of the thing commanded. And then for this reason it was enjoyned to make a more exact tryall, and to take a more ample proof of Adams obedience. Often­times we do things commanded of God, but upon what ground or motive? Because our own interest lyes in them, because there is an inward weight and pondus of affection pressing us to them. The Lord commands the mutuall duties between Parents and Children, between Man & Wife, between Friends; duties of se [...]-preservation and defence, & such like; And many are very exact and diligent in performing these: But from what principle its easie to discern, not because they are commanded of God (not so much as a thought of that, for the most part) but because of an inward and natural inclination of affection towards [Page 235] our selves and our relations, which is like an instinct and impulse driving us to these duties. And truly we may say, its the goodnesse and bounty of the Lord, that hath conjoyned in most parts of commanded du­ties, our own interest and advantage, our own incli­nation and propension with his Authority, or else the toyle and pain of them would over-ballance the weight of his Authority. Now then is such duties as are already imprinted on mans heart, and consonant to his own reason, there cannot be a clear proof of obedience to Gods will, the poor and naked nature of obedience doth not so clearly shine forth in the obser­vation of these, it is no great tryall of the crea­tures subjection of its will to his suppream will, when there are so many reasons besides his will, which may incline mans will unto it: But here, in a matter in it self pleasant to the senses, unto which he had a natural inclination, the Lord interpoles himself by a command of restraint, to take full probation, whe­ther man would submit to his good pleasure meerely for it self, or whether he would obey meerly because God commands: And indeed in such like duties as have no commendation but from the will, and autho­rity of the Law-giver, it will appear whether mans obedience be poor and simple obedience, & whether men love obedience for it self alone, or for other rea­sons: Therefore the Lord saith, obedience is better than sacrifice, and disobedience is rebellion. Suppose in such things as can neither hurt us nor help us, God put a restraint upon us, though obedience may be of lesse worth than in other more substantial things, yet disobedience in such easie matters is most heinous, because it proclaims openly rebellion against God; if it be light and easie, it is more easie obeyed, & the more sin and wickednesse in disobeying, & therefore is Adams sin called disobedience in a signall manner Rom. 5. because by refusing such a small point of ho­mage [Page 236] and subjection, he did cast off Gods power and authority over him, and would not acknowledge him for his Superiour. This should teach us who believe the repairing that Image by Jesus Christ, to study such a respect and reverence to Gods holy Will, as to do all things without more asking, Why it is so? If we once know what it is, there is no more question to be asked. Of creatures we must enquire a quare, after a quid, a why, after we know what their will is: But Christians should have their wills so subdued unto Gods, that though no profite nor advantage were to redound by obedience, though it were in things re­pugnant and crosse to our inclination and humour, yet we should serve and obey him, as a testimony of our homage and subjection to him, and till we learn this and be more abstracted from our own interests in the wayes of obedience, even from the interests of peace, and comfort, & liberty, we do not obey him, because he commands, but for our own sakes. It is the practise of Antinomians, and contrary to true Godlinesse, to look upon the Law of God as the creatures bondage, as most of us do in our walking; [...] Christian in whom that image of God is renewed according to righteous­nesse and holinesse should esteem subjection & con­formity to a Law, & to the will of God his only true liberty, yea the very beauty of the soul; & never is a soul advanced in conformity to God, till this be its delight, not a burden or taske.

Gal. 3. 12. ‘The Law is not of faith, but the man that doth them shal live therein.’ Gen. 2. 17. ‘What day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die.’

THe Lord made all things for himself, to shew forth the glory of his Name, & man in a more eminent and speciall manner, for the more eminent manifestations of himself, therefore all his dealings to­wards [Page 237] men, vvhether righteous or sinfull, do declare the glory of God. Particularly, in reference to the present purpose, he resolved to manifest two shining properties, his Soveraignty and Goodnesse, his Sove­raignty is shewed in giving out a Law and Command to the creature, & his goodnesse is manifested in ma­king a Covenant with his creature: As here you see the termes of a Covenant, a duty required, & a pro­mise made, and in case of failing, a threatning confor­med to the promise. He might have requi [...]ed obe­dience simply, as the Lord & Soveraign owner of the Being and operations of the creatures, and that was enough of obligation to bind all flesh; that the Crea­tor is Law-giver, that he who gives a being doth set bounds and limits to the exercise and use of that be­ing? But it pleased the Lord in his infinite goodness & love, to add a promise and threatning to that Law & Command, & so turnes it to the nature of a volun­tary Covenant and agreement vvhereby he doth mi­tigate and sweeten his Authority and Power, and con­descends so low to man as to take on himself a greater obligation than he puts upon man, Do this and thou shalt live. He might then out of his absolutenesse & power, have required at the creatures hand any termes he pleased, even the hardest could be imagined, and yet no injustice in him, he might have put Laws on men to restrain all their naturall liberty, and in every thing to proclaim nothing but his own supremacy. But O vvhat goodnesse and condescension is even in the very matter of the Law, & then in the manner of prescribing it vvith a promise: In the matter so just & equitable to convince all mens consciences; yea, e­ven engraven on their hearts, that he layes not many burdens on, but vvhat mens consciences must lay on themselves, that there is nothing in it all when sum­med up harder than this, love God most of all, & thy neighbour as thy self, which all men must proclaim to [Page 238] be due, though it had not been required: And but one precept added by his meer Will, vvhich yet was so easie a thing, as it was a wonder the Lord of all put no other conditions on the creature: And then for the manner, that it is propounded in Covenant-wise, with a promise (not to expect the creatures consent, for it did not depend on his acception, he being bound to accept any termes his Lord propounded) but be­cause the matter and all was so equitable, & the con­ditions so ample, that if it had been propounded to a­ny rational man, he would have consented with an ad­miration at Gods goodnesse: Indeed if we speak strict­ly, there cannot be a proper Covenant between God and man, there is such an infinite distance between such unequal parties, our obedience and performance being absolutely in his power, we cannot promise it as our own, and it being but our duty, we cannot crave or expect a reward in justice, neither can he owe any thing to the creature; yet it pleased his Majesty to propound it in these termes, and to stoop so low unto mens capacities, and as it were come off the throne of his Soveraignty, both to repuire such duties of men, and to promise unto them such a free reward, and the reasons of this may be plain upon Gods part, & upon ours: in such dealing, he consulted his own glory, & mans good. His own glory, I say, is manifested in it, & chiefly the glory of his goodnesse & love, that the most High comes down so low as to article with his own foot-stool, that he changes his absolute right, in­to a moderate and temperate Government, and tem­pers his Lordly & truly Monarchicall power by such a commix [...]ure of gentlenesse & goodnesse, in requi­ring nothing but what man behoved to call reasonable and due; and in promising so much as no crea [...]ure could challenge any title of it. When the Law was promulgate. Do this, Eat not of this Tree, Adams con­science behoved to say, Amen Lord, all is due, all the [Page 239] reason in the Word for it: But when the promise is added, & the Trumpet sounds longer, thou shalt live, O more than reason, more then is due, must his con­science say, It vvas reason, that the most high Lord should use his foot-stool as his foot-stool, & set his servant in the place of a servant, and so keep distance from him: But how strange is it, that he humbles himself to make friendship with man to assume him in a kind of familiarity & equality? And this Christ is not forgetfull of, vvhen he restores men, he puts them in all their former dignities, I call you not ser­vants, but friends: Next, his wisdome doth appear in this, that when he had made a reasonable creature, he takes a way of dealing suitable to his Nature, to bring forth willing and free obedience by the perswa­sion of such a reward, and the terror of such a punish­ment. He most wisely did inclose the will of man as it were one both sides with hedges of punishment and reward, which might have been a sufficient defence or guard against all the irruptions of contrary perswasi­ons, that man might continue in obedience, and that when he went to the right hand or left, he might be kept in, by the hope of such an ample promise, & the fear of such a dreadfull threatning. But then the righ­teousnesse of God doth appear in this: for there is nothing doth more illustrate the justice of the Judge, then when the Malefactor hath before consented to such a punishment in case of transgression; when the Law is confirmed by the consent and approbation of man, now he has man subscribing already to his judg­ment, and so all the world must stop their mouth and become guilty in case of transgression of such a righte­ous command after such warning.

But in the next place, its no lesse for mans good: What a honour and dignity was put upon man, when he was taken into friendship with God? To be in co­venant of friendship with a King, O what a dignity is [Page 240] it accounted? And some do account it a great privi­ledge to be in company and converse with some emi­nent and great person. But may not man say vvith the Psalmist, Lord what is man that thou art so mind­full of him, or the Son of man that thou visitest him? Psal. 8. Again, what way more fit and sutable to stir up and constrain Adam unto a vvilling and constant obedience? When he had the encouragement of such a gracious reward, & the determent of such a fearfull punishment: Between these two banks might the sil­ver streams of obedience have run for ever vvithout breaking over. He was bound to all, though nothing had been promised: But then to have such a hope, what spirits might it adde to him? The Lord had been free upon mans obedience either to continue him his happy estate, or to denude him of it, or to an­nihilate him, there was no obligation lying on him; but now, what confirmation might man have by look­ing upon the certain recompence of reward? When God brings himself freely under an Obligation of a Promise, and so ascertains it to his soul, vvhich he could never have dreamed of, & gives him liberty to challenge him upon his faithfulnesse to perform it. And then lastly, there was no way so fit to commend God, and sweeten him unto his soul, as this. Adam knew that his goodnesse could not extend to God, that his righteousnesse could not help him, nor his wicked­nesse hurt him, and so could expect nothing from his exact obedience; but now vvhen Gods goodnesse doth so overflow unto the creature, and the Lord takes pleasure to communicate himself to make others hap­py, though he had need of none: O, how must it in­gage the heart of man to a delightfull remembrance and converse vvith that God? As his authority should imprint reverence, so his goodnesse thus manifested should engrave confidence. And thus the life of man vvas not only a life of obedience, but a life of plea­sure [Page 241] and delight; not only a holy, but a happy life, yea, happy in holinesse.

Now as it was Pauls great businesse in preaching, to ride marches between the covenant of grace, and the covenant of works, to take men off that old bro­ken ship to this sure plank of grace that is offered by Jesus Christ to drowning souls: So it would be our great work to shew unto you the nature of this Cove­nant, and the terms thereof, that you may henceforth find and know that salvation to be now impossible by the Law, which so many seek in it; We have no er­rand to speak of the first Adam, but the better to lead you to the second: Our life was once in the first, but he lost himself and us both, but the second by losing himself saves both. We have nothing to do to speak of the first Covenant, but that we may lead you or pursue you rather to the second, established upon bet­ter tearms and better promises.

The tearms of this covenant are, Do this and live: perfect obedience without one jot of failing or fal­ling, an intire and universall accomplishment of the whole will of God, that is the duty required of Man; there is no latitude left in the bargain, to admit endea­vours in stead of performance, or desire in stead of du­ty: there is no place for Repentance here, if a Man fall in one point he falls from the whole promise; by the tenour of this bargain, there is no hope of recove­ry. If you would have the duty in a word, Its a love of God with all our heart and soul, & our Neighbour as our self, & that testified & verified in all duties & offices of obedience to God, & love to men, without the least mixture of sin & infirmity. Now, the pro­mise on Gods part is indeed larger then that Duty, not only because undeserved, but even in the matter of it, it's so abundant; Life, eternal life, continuance in a happy estate. There is a threatning added, In what day thou eatest, thou shalt die: that is, thou shalt become [Page 242] a mortall and miserable creature, subject to misery, here and hereafter, which is more pressingly set down in that Word, Cursed is he that abides not in all things written in the law to do them. It is very peremptory, that men dream not of escaping wrath, when they break but in one suppose they did abide in all the rest Cursed is every man from the highest to the lowest, the Lord Almighty is engaged against him, his coun­tenance, his Power is against him to destroy him & make him miserable; whoever doth fail but in one jot of the commands, he shall not only fall from that blessed condition freely promised, but lose all that he already possessed, fall from that image of God, do­minion over the creatures, and incur, in stead of that possessed and expected happinesse, misery here on soul & body, in pains, sicknesses, troubles, griefs, &c. And Eternal misery on both, without measure hereafter. Eternall destruction from the presence of the Lord, & the glory of his power.

Now, This Law is not of Faith, saith the Apostle: This opens up the nature of the bargain, and the op­position between the present Covenant & that which is made with lost sinners in a Mediator. This Co­venant is called, of Works, Do this and live, To him that worketh is the promise made, though freely too. It is grace that once a reward should be promised to obedience, but having once resolved to give it, herein justice appears in an equall and uniform distribution of the reward, according to Works, So that where there is an equality of works there shall be an equa­lity of reward, and no difference put between persons equall: Which is the very freedome of the Covenant of grace, that it passes overall such considerations; and deals equally in mercy with unequall sinners, & unequally it may be with them that are equall in na­ture.

You may ask was not Adam to believe in God, & [Page 243] did not the Law require faith? I answer, Christ di­stinguishes a twofold faith, You believe in God, believe also in me. No question he was called to believe in God the Creator of the VVorld, and that in a three-fold consideration.

First to depend on God the self-beeing and foun­tain-good: his own goodnesse was but a fluxe and e­manation from that Sun of righteousnesse, & so was to be perpetuated by constant abiding in his sight; the interposition of mans self between him and God did soon bring on this eternal night of darknesse. Nature might have taught him to live in him in whom he had life, & beeing, and motion, and to forget & look over his own perfections as evanishing shadows: But this quickly extinguished his life when he began to to live in himself.

Next, he was obliged to believe in Gods word both threatning and promise, & to have these constantly in his view: And certainly if he had kept, in his serious consideration, the inestimable blessing of life promi­sed, and the fearful curse of death threatned, if he had not been induced first to doubt, and then to deny the truth and reality of these, he had not attempted such a desperate rebellion against the Lord.

Then thirdly, he was to believe and perswade him­self of the Lords fatherly love, and that the Lord was well pleased with his obedience, and this faith would certainly beget much peace & quietnesse in his mind and also constrain him to love him, and live to him who loved him, and gave him life and happinesse out of love; yet this holds true that the Apostle saith, the law is not of faith, to wit, in a Mediator and Redeem­er; it was a bond of immediate friendship, there need­ed none to mediate between God and man, there needed no reconciler, where there was no ods nor di­stance? But the Gospell is of Faith in a Mediator; its the souls plighting its hope upon Jesus Christ in its [Page 244] desperate necessity, & so supposes man sinfull and mi­serable in himself and in his own sense too, and so put­ting over his weight & burden upon one whom God hath made mighty to save: The Law is not of Faith, but of perfect works, a watch-word brought in of pur­pose to bring men off their hankering after a broken and desperate Covenant; It admits no repentance, it speaks of no pardon, it declares no Cautioner or Re­deemer; there is nothing to be expected, according to the tenor of that Covenant, but wrath from Hea­ven; either personall obedience in all, or personall punishment for ever, that is the very tearms of it, & it knows no other thing. Either bring compleat righte­ousnesse and holinesse to the promise of life, or expect nothing but death.

This may be a sad meditation to us, to stand and look back to our former estate & compare it with that into which we are fallen: that Image we spoke of is defaced and blotted out, which was the glory of the Creation, and now there is nothing so monstrous, so deformed in the world as man; the corruption of the best thing is alwayes worst, the ruines of the most noble creature are most ruinous, the spot of the soul most abominable; we are nothing but a masse of dark­nesse, ignorance, errour, inordinate lust, nothing but confusion, disorder and distempers in the soul, and in the conversation of men, & in sum, that blessed bond of friendship with God broken, discord & enmity en­tered upon our side, & separated us from God, and so we can expect nothing from that first Covenant, but the curse and wrath threatned: By one mans disobe­dience sin entered upon all, & death by sin; because in that agreement Adam was a common person repre­senting us, and thus are all men once subject to Gods judgement, & come short of the glory of God, fallen from life into a state of death, & for any thing could be expected irrevocably. But it hath pleased the [Page 245] Lord in his infinite mercy, to make a better Covenant in Christ his Son, that vvhat vvas impossible to the Law, by reason of our vveakness and vvickedness, his Son, sent in the flesh, condemned for sin, might accom­plish, Rom. 8. 3. There is some comfort yet after this, that Covenan [...] vvas not last, and that sentence vvas not irrevocable: He maketh a new transaction, layes the iniquity of his elect upon Christ, and puts the curse upon his shoulders vvhich vvas due to them: Justice cannot admit the abrogation of the Law; but mercy pleads for a temperament of it: and thus the Lord dispenses vvith personal satisfaction, vvhich in rigour he might have craved; and finds out a ransom, admits another satisfaction in their name: And in the Name of that Cautioner and Redeemer, is salvation preached upon better terms, Believe, and thou shalt be saved, Rom. 10. Thou lost and undone sinner, vvho­ever thou art, that findest thy self guilty before God, and that thou canst not stand in judgement by the former Covenant; thou vvho hast no personal righ­teousness, and trusts in none, come here, embrace the righteousness of thy Cautioner; receive him, and [...]est on him, and thou shalt be saved.

Eccles. 7. 29. ‘God made man upright, but he sought out many inventions.’

THe one half of true Religion consists in the knowledge of ourselves, and the other half in the knowledge of God; and vvhatever besides this, men study to know and apply their hearts unto, it's vain and impertinent, and like medling in other men [...] matters, neglecting our own, if vve do not give our minds to the search of these All of us must needs grant this in the general, that it is an idle and impro­fitable [Page 244] [...] [Page 245] [...] [Page 246] wandering abroad, to be carried forth to the knowledge and use of other things, and in the mean time to be strangers to our selves, vvith vvhom v [...] should be most acquainted. If any man vvas diligen [...] and earnest in the enquiry and use of the things of the vvorld, Solomon vvas; he applyed his heart to seek out vvisdom, and vvhat satisfaction vvas in the knowledge of all things natural, and in this he attained a great de­gree beyond all other men; yet he pronounces of it all, after experience and tryal, that this also was vanity, and vexation of spirit; not only empty and unprofi­table, and not conducing to that true blessedness he sought after; but hurtful and destructive, nothing but grief and sorrow in it. After he had proved all, vvith a resolution to be vvise, yet it vvas far from him, I said, I will be wise, but it was far from me, verse 23. And therefore, after long vvandering abroad, he re­turns at length home to himself, to know the estate of mankind; Lo, this only have I sound, &c. ver. 29. When I have searched all other things, & found many things by search, yet (saith he) vvhat doth it all concern me, vvhen I am ignorant of my self? There is one thing concerns me more then all, to know the original of Man, vvhat he once vvas made, and to know how far he is departed from his Original. This only I have found profitable to men, and as the entry and prepara­tion to that blessedness I enquire for, To have the true discovery of our misery.

There are two things then concerning man that you have to search & to know, & that not in a tri [...]ing or curious manner, as if you had no other end in it but to know it, as men do in other things, but in a serious & earnest way, as [...] a matter of so much concernment to our eternal well-being. In things that relate par­ticularly to our selves, vve labor to know them for ome advantage, besides the knowing of them, even [Page 247] though they be but [...]mal and lower things; how much more should vve propose this unto our selves in the search and examination of our own estate, not mee [...]ly to [...]now such a thing; but to know it that vve may be [...] up and provoked in the sense of it, to look after the remedy that God holds forth? There are two things that you have to know, What man once vvas made, and how he is now unmade: how happy once, and how miserable now. And answerable to these two, are the branches of the Text; God made man [...]upright, that he was once; and they have fought out many inven­tions, not being contented vvith that blessedness they vvere created into, by catching at a higher estate of vvisdom, have fallen down into a gulf of misery, as the man that gazed on the stars above him, and did not take notice of the pit under his feet till he fell in­to it; and thus man is now. So you have a short ac­count of the two estates of men, of the estate of grace and righteousness vvithout sin, and the estate of sin and misery [...] grace: You hav [...] th [...] [...] story of man, from the creation unto his present con­dition. But all the matter is, to have the lively sens [...] of this upon our hearts: I had rather that vve vvent home bewailing our loss, and lamenting our misery, and longing for the recovery of that [...], then that vve vvent out vvith the exact memory of all [...] is spoken, and could repeat it again.

God made man upright. At hi [...] [...]st moulding the Lord shewed excellent Art and Wisdom, and Good­ness too: Man did come forth from under his hand in the first edition very glorious, to show vvhat he could do. Upright, that is, all right & very exactly con­formed to the noble and high pattern, endowed vvith divine vvisdom, such [...] might direct him to true happiness, and furnished vvith a divine vvillingness to follow that direction: The command was not above [Page 248] his head as a rod, but within his heart as a natural in­stinct; all that vvas vvithin him vvas comely & beau­tiful: for that glorious light that shined upon him, ha­ving life and love vvith it, produced a sweet harmony in the soul; he knew his duty, and loved it, and v [...]as able to perform it. O! how much is in this one word▪ Upright? Not only sincerity and integrity in the soul, but perfection of all the degrees and parts; no part of holiness wanting, and no measure of these parts; no mixture of darkness or ignorance, no mixture of indi­sposition or unwillingness; godliness vvas [...]weet, and not laborious; the love of God possessing the heart, did conform all vvithin and vvithout to the vvill of God: and, O how beautiful vvas that conformity, and that love of God! the fountain-being did send forth as a stream, love and good-will to all things, as they did partake of Gods Image: and so holiness towards God did beget righteousness towards men, and made men to partake of one anothers happiness.

This is a survey of him in his integrity as God [...]de him; but there follows a sad but, a sad and vvo­ [...]l exception: but they have sought out many inventions. We cannot look upon that glorious estate vvhereinto m [...]n was made, but straightway we must turn our eyes upon th [...] misery into which he hath plunged himself, and be the more affected with it, that it was once otherwise. It is misery in a high degree to have been once happy; this [...]ost of all agredges our misery, and may encrease the sense of it, that such Man once was, and such we might have been, if we had not de­stroyed our selves. Who can look upon these ruins, and refrain [...]ouring? It's said, that those who saw the glory of the first Temple, we [...]t when they beheld the second, because it was not answerable to it in magni­ [...]ence and glory: So, I say, it might occasion much [...]ness & grief, even to the children of God, in whom [Page 249] that Image is in part repaired; and that by a second Creation, to think how much more happy and blessed Man once was, who had grace and holiness without sin. But certainly, it should and must be at first, be­fore this Image be restored, the bitter lamentation of a soul, to look upon it self wholly ruinous and defa­ced, in the view of that glorious stately fabrick which once was made. How lamentable a sight is it to be­hold the first Temple demolished, or the first Crea­tion defaced, and the second not yet begun in many souls, the foundation-stone yet not laid? It was a sad and dol [...]ul invention which Satan inspired at first into mans heart, to go about to find out another hap­piness, to seek how to be wise as God; an invention tha [...] did proceed from hell, how to know evil experi­mentally and practically by doing it; that invention hath invented and found out all the sin and misery un­der which the world groans. It is a poor invention to devise misery and torment to the creature; this was the height of solly and madness, for a happy creature to invent how to make it self miserable, and all others. Indeed he intended another thing to be more happy, but pride and ambition got a deserved fall: the result of all, is sin and misery.

And now, from this first devillish invention, the heart of man is possessed with a multitude of vain ima­ginations. Man is now become vain in his imagina­tions, and his foolish heart is darkned; that divine wisdom he was endowed withall, is eclipsed; for it was a ray of Gods countenance, and now he is left wholly in the dark, without a guide, without a dire­ctor or leader; he is turned out of the path of holiness, and so of happiness; a night of gross darkness & blind­ness is come on, & the way is full of pits and snares, & the end of it is at best, eternal misery; and there is no lamp, no light to shine in it, to show him either the [Page 250] misery that he is posting unto, or the happinesse that he is flying from: There is nothing within him suffi­cient to direct his way to blessednesse, and nothing willing nor able to follow such a direction. And thus Man is left to the invention and counsel of his own desperately wicked and d [...]ful heart; and that is a­bove all plagues to be given up to a reprobate mind. He is now left to such a tutor and guide [...], and it is full of inventions indeed. But they are all in vain, that is, all of them unsufficient for this great purpose; all of them cannot make one hair that is black white, much les [...] redeem the soul, but besides, they are destructive; they pretend to deliver, but they destroy; a desperate wicked heart imagineth evil continually, evil against God and evil to our own souls; and a deceitful heart [...]mooths over the evil, and presents it under another notion, and so, under pretence of a friend, it's the greatest enemy a man hath, a bosome enemy. Al mens inventions, thoughts, cogitations, projects and endea­vors, what do they tend to, but to the satisfaction of their lusts; either the lusts of the mind, as Ambition, Pride, Avarice, Passion, Revenge, and such like, or the lusts of the body, as pleasure to the ears; and to the eyes, and to the flesh? Man was made with an up­right soul, with a dominion over that brutish part more like Angels: But now, all his invention run upon that base and beastly part, how to adorn it, how to beautifie it, how to satisfie it, and for this his soul must be a drudge and slave: And if men rise up to any thoughts of a higher life, yet what is it for, but to magnifie and exalt the flesh to seek an Excellency within which is lost, and so to satisfie the pride and self-love of the heart. If any man comes this length, [...] to apprehend some misery; yet how vain are his in­ventions about the remedy of it, not knowing how desperate the disease is, men seek help in themselves, [Page 251] & think by industry and care, & art, to raise themselves up in some measure, & please God by some expiations or sacrifices of their own works: Now, this tends to no other purpose; but to satisfie the lust of mans pride, and so it increases that which was mans first malady, and keeps them from the true Physician. In a word, all mens inventions are to hasten misery on him, or to blindfold himself till it come on; all his invention cannot reach a delivery from this misery: Let us therefore consider this which Solomon hath found out, and if we carefully consider it, and accurately ponder it in relation to our own souls, thē have we also [...]ound it with him. Consider I say what man once was, and what you are now, and bewaile your misery and the fountain of it, our departure from the fountain of life and blessednesse: know what you are, not only weak, but wicked, whose art and power lyes only in wicked­nesse, skilful, and able only to make your self misera­ble, and let this consideration make you cast away all your confidence in your selves, and carry you forth to a Redeemer, who hath [...]ound a ransome, who hath found out an excellent invention to cure all our di­stempers and desperate diseases. The counsel of the holy Trinity that met about (if I may speak so) our creation in holynesse and righteousness after his own Image, that same hath consulted about the rest of it, & hath found out this course, that one of them shal bee made after mans Image, and for this purpose that he may restore again Gods Image unto us: O bless this deep invention and happy contrivance of heaven that could never have bred in any breast but in the depths of eternal wisedome, and let us abandon & forsake our own imaginations, and foolish inventions; let us be­come fools in our own eyes, that we may become wise. Man by seeking to be wise, became a fool, that was an unhappy invention; now its turned contrary, let all [Page 252] men take vvith their folly and desperate vvickedness, let not the vain thoughts and dreams of our own vvel­being and sufficiency lodge vvithin us, and vve shal be made vvise; come to the Fathers vvisdom, unto Je­sus Christ, vvho is that blessed invention of Heaven, for our remedy. How long shal vain thoughts lodge within you? O when will you be washed from them? How long shal not your thoughts transcend this tem­poral and bodily life? How long do you imagine to live in sin, and die in the Lord; to continue in sin, and escape wrath? Why do you delude your souls with a dream of having interest in the love of God, and pur­chasing his favor by your works? These are some of those many inventions man hath sought out.

Rom. 5. 22. ‘Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death past upon all men, for that all have sinned.’

THis is a sad subject to speak upon, yet it is not more sad then useful: though it be unpleasant to hold out a glass to men to see their own vile faces into, yet it is profitable, yea and so necessary, that till once a soul apprehend its broken and desolate condi­tion in the first Adam, it can never heartily imbrace and come to the second Adam. You have here the woful and dreadful effects and consequents of the first transgression upon all mankind; the effect is twofold, sin and misery, or sin and death; the subject is univer­sal in both, all men, the whole world. Behold what a flood of calamity hath entred at a smal cranny, by one mans transgression? May it not be said of sin in gene­ral, which the wise man speaks of strife? The begin­ning of sin is as when one lets out water, therefore it had been good leaving it off, before it had been medled [Page 253] vvith; it entred at a smal hole, but it hath overflowed a vvhole vvorld since.

That vvhich first occurs, is, that all mankind pro­ceeding from Adam by ordinary birth, are involved in sin by Adams transgression. But that may seem a hard saying, that sin and death should flow unto the vvhole posterity vvho had no accession to Adams transgression. It vvould seem that every man should die for his own iniquity, and that it should reach no further in justice. But consider, I pray you, the rela­tion that Adam stood into, and in vvhich he is here holden out as a figure of Christ. Adam the first man vvas a common person representing all mankind, in vvhose happiness or misery all should share: God con­tracts vvith him on these terms, that his posterities estate should depend on his behavior. Now if all mankind vvould have reaped the benefite and advan­tage of Adams perseverance, i [...] such an undeserved reward of eternal life vvould have redounded by the free promise unto them all, vvhat iniquity is it that they also be sharers in his misery? Our stock & trea­sure vvas ventured in this vessel; & if vve vvere to par­take of its gain, vvhy not of its loss? You see amongst men, children have one common lot vvith their pa­rents; if the father be fore-faulted, the heirs suffer in it, & are cast out of the inheritance. It might appear a surer vvay to have the fortunes of all (so to speak) de­pend upon one, & their happiness assured unto them, upon the standing of one, then to have every one left unto himself, & his own vvell-being depending upon his own standing, as it is more likely one, and that the first one, shal not sin, then many, and especially when that one knew that the weight of all his posteri­ty hung upon him, it might have made him very cir­cumspect, knowing of how great moment his carriage [...]. But certainly vve must look a little higher then [Page 254] such reasons, there was a glorious purpose of Gods pre­dominant in this, else there was no natural necessity of imputing Adams sin to the children not yet born, or propagating it to the children: He that brought a holy one & undefiled out of a Virgin who was defiled, could have brought all others clean out of unclean parents: but there is a higher counsel about it, the Lord would have all men subject to his judgement; al men once guilty, once in an equal state of misery, to illustrate that special grace shewed in Christ the more, and demonstrate his power and wrath upon o­thers. That which concerns us most; is to believe this that sin hath over-spread all; and, to have the lively impression of this, were of more moment to true Re­ligion, than many discourses upon it. I had rather ye went home not cursing Adam, or murmuring against the most High; but bemoaning yourselves for your wretched estate, then be able to give reasons for the general imputation & propagation of sin. Ye all see it is, & therefore you should rather mourn for it, then ask why it is.

There is sin entred into the world by imputation, and also by propagation, Adams first sin and hainous transgression, is charged upon all his posterity, and im­puted unto them, even unto them who have not sinned according to the similitude of Adams transgression, that is, actually as he did, Infants whom you call inno­cents (and indeed so they are in respect of you who are come to age) yet they are guilty before God of that sin that ruined all. Now that you may know what you are, and what little reason you have to be pleased with your selves, and absolve your selves as ye do. I shal unbowel that iniquity unto you, First, there was in it an open banner displayed against God: When the soveraign Lord had enjoyned his [...] [...]uch a testimony of his homage and loyalty▪ and that [Page 255] so easie to be performed, and such as not a whit could [...]ba e from his happiness; what open rebellion was it to refuse it? It was a casting off the Soveraign domi­nion of God than which nothing can be more hainous as if the clay should refuse to serve the Potters plea­sure, and therefore it is eminently and signally styled disobedience, as having nothing in it but the pure na­ked nature of disobedience; no difficulty to excuse it, for it was most easie, no pleasure to plead for it, for there were as good fruit beside, & a world of them. No necessity to extenuate it, so that you can see no­thing in it, but the ugly face of disobedience and re­bellion, vers. 19. Whereby man draweth himself from his allegiance due to his Maker, and shaketh off the yoke in reproach of the most High. Next, you may behold the vile and abominable [...]ace of ingratitude and unthankfulnesse in it, and truly heathens have so abhorred unthankfulnesse towards men, that they could not digest the reproach of it. Ingratum si dixe­ris, omnia dixeris: If you cal me unthankful, your may cal me anything, or all things, its a compend of al vices; Its even iniquity grown to maturity and [...]: But that such a fruit should grow out of such a holy and good spyle, so wel dressed and manu­red by the Lord, was a wonder, Lord what is man that thou so magnified him, and made him a little lower tha [...] the Angels? That thou put all things sublunary under his feet, and exalted him above them: For that crea­ture chosen and elected from among all, to be his minion, to stand in his presence, adorned, & beauti­fied with such gifts and graces, magnified with such glorious priviledges, made according to the most ex­cellent pattern, His own Image, to [...]orget all, & forget so soon; and when he had such a spacious Garden to make use of (as is supposed to make up the third part of the earth) to eat of no fruit but that which was for­bidden [Page 256] there is no such monstrous ingratitude can be imagined as here was acted. But then consider the two fountains from which this flowed, unbelief and pride; & ye shal find it the heaviest sin in the world: unbelief of his word and threatning, first he was brought to question it and doubt of it, & then to deny it. A Word so solemnly and particularly told him by the truth it self, that ever a question of it could a­rise in his mind to get entry, what else was it than to impute iniquity to the Holy One? And that iniqui­ty or falshood and lying, which his nature most ab­hors? What was it to blaspheme the most High and faithful God, by hearkning to the suggestions of his enemy, and credit them more then the threatning of God? To give the very flat contradiction to God, we shal not die; and to assent so heartily to Sathans slanders and reproaches of God. And this unbelief opened a door to ambition and bride, the most sacri­legious ingredient of all, which is most opposite to God, and unto which he most opposed himself from the beginning. You shal be like gods, Was he not happy enough already, & according to Gods Image? Nay, but this evil principle would arise up to the throne of God and sit down in his stead. Pride hath Atheism in it, to deny the true God, & yet would be a god it self. For the foot-stool to lift up it self thus, what an indignity was it? & indeed this wretched aime at so high an estate hath thrown us down as low as hell. You see then how injurious this transgressi­on was to God. There was disobedience and rebelli­on in it, which denies his dominion and supremacy, there was unthankfulnesse in it, denying his goodness and bounty, there was unbelief in it contradicting his truth and faithfulnesse, & finally pride opposing it self to all that is in God, reaching up to his very crown of Majesty to take it off. You see then what you are [Page 257] guilty of, in being guilty of Adams transgression, ma­ny of you flatter your selves in your own eyes, that ye have not done much evil, and yee will justifie your selves in your comparisons with others. But I beseech you consider this; though you had never done perso­nally good or evil, here that which drowned the World in misery is your sin, and charged upon you; you are guilty of that which ruined all mankind, and makes the Creation subject to vanity & corruption. O if ye believe this, ye would find more need of the second Adam than ye do. O how precious would this righteousnesse and obedience be to you, if ye had rightly apprehended your interest in the first mans disobedience?

But besides this imputation, there is much more propagated unto all, and that is a total corruption and depravation of nature in soul & body whereby man is utterly indisposed, disabled and made opposite unto all that is truly and spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, & that continually which is commonly cal­led Original sin: A total aversenesse from God, and from al goodnesse, an antipathy against the wayes of holinesse, & a propension & strong impulse towards evil, even as a stone move downward; This poyson & contagion of sin entering into the world, hath infe­cted al, & gone through all the members; Neither is it any wonder it be so, whē this leprosie hath defiled the wals & roof of the house, I mean, hath made the Creation subject to vanity and corruption, It is no wonder that it spread abroad in his issue, and makes al unclean like himself; And truly this is it which most abases mans nature, and being seen, would most humble men; yea, til this be discerned no man can be indeed humbled, he will never apprehend himself so bad as he is, but still imagine some excellency in himself, til he s [...]e himself in this glasse: You talk of [Page 258] good natures, and good dispositions, but in our flesh (saith the Apostle) dwels no good thing: the seed of all wickednesse are in every one of us, & its the goodness of God for preserving humane society, that they are restrained and kept down in any from the grossest out­breakings. They know not themselves, who know any good of themselves, and they know not themselves who either are in admiration at, or in bitterness or in contempt against other sinners, whose sins are mani­fest to all. This were the only way to profite by look­ing on others evils, if we could straight way retire within and behold the root of that in our sevles, the fountain of it within us, and so grow in loathing not of these persons, but of humane nature, and in suitable thoughts of our selves & others, & might wonder at the goodnesse and undeserved bounty of the Lord that passes an act of restraint upon our corruption, & dammes it up. Oh that we could learn to loath our selves in other mens evils▪ thus we might reap good out of the evil, and prevent more in our selves; But the looking upon grosse provocations as singularities, make them more general, because every man does not charge himself with the corruption that is in all these, but prefers himself to another, therefore are reins loosed to corruption; & a sluce opened, that it may come out, that he who would not see his own I­mage in another mans face, may behold it in the glasse of his own abominations. There is no point lesse believed than this, though generally confessed, that man is dead in sins and trespasses, & impotent to help himself. You will hardly take with wickednesse when you confesse weaknesse, as if nature were only sick, but not dead, hurt, but not killed; therefore it is that so many do abide in themselves; and trusting to their own good purposes, & resolutions, & endeavo [...]s▪ do think to pacifie God▪ and help themselves out of their [Page 259] misery. But, O look again, and look in upon your selves in the glass of the Word, and there is no doubt but you vvill straightway be filled vvith confusion of face, and be altogether spoiled of good confidence and hope, as you call it: you vvill find your self plunged in a pit of misery, and all strength gone, and none on the right hand or the left to help you; and then, and not till then, vvill the second Adams hand stretched out for our help be seasonable.

That vvhich next follows, is, that vvhich is the companion of sin inseparably, Death hath past upon all, and that by sin. Adams one disobedience opened a port for all sin to enter upon mankind, and sin cannot enter vvithout this companion Death. Sin goes be­fore, and Death follows on the back of it, and these suite one another, as the vvork and the vvages; as the tree and the fruit, they have a sibness one to another; sowing to corruption, reaps an answerable harvest, to vvit, corruption: Sowing to the vvind, and reaping the vvhirlewind, how suitable are they? That men may know how evil and bitter a thing sin is, he makes this the fruit of it. In his first Law and sanction given out to men, he joyns them inseparably, sin and death, sin and vvrath, sin and a curse.

By Death is not only meant bodily death, which is the separation of the soul from the body; but first the spiritual death of the soul, consisting in a separation of the soul from Gods blessed enlightning, enlivening, and comforting countenance. Mans true life wherein he differs from beasts, consists in the right aspect of God upon his soul, in his walking with God, and kee­ping communion▪ with him; all things besides this, are but common and base, and this was cut off: his com­fort, his joy and peace in God extinct; God became terrible to his conscience; and therefore man did flee and was araid when he heard his voice in the garden. [Page 260] Sin being interposed between God and the soul, cut off all the influence of heaven: Hence arises darkness o [...] mind, hardness of heart, delusions, vile affections, horror of conscience. Look what difference is be­tween a living creature and a dead carcase, so much is between Adams soul upright, living in God, and Adams soul separated from God by sin. Then upon the outward man the curse redounds, the body becoms mortal which had been incorruptible: it's now like a besiedged City, now some outward sorts are gained by diseases, now by pains and torments, the outward wals of the body are at length overcome; and when life hath fled into a Castle within the City, the heart, that is at last all besiedged so straitly, and stormed so violently, that it must render unto death, upon any terms. The body of man is even a seminary of a world of diseases and grievances, that if men could look upon it aright, they might see the sentence of death every day performed. Then how many evils in estate, in friends and relations, in imployments; which being considered by Heathens, hath made them praise the dead more then the living; but him not yet born most of all, because the present life is nothing else but a valley of misery and tears, a sea of troubles, where one wave continually prevents another, and comes on like Iobs messengers; before he speak out his wo [...]ul ty­dings, another comes with such like, or worse. But that which is the sum and accomplishment of Gods curse and mans misery, is that death to come, eternal death; not death simply, but an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power. An infinite loss, because the loss of such a glorious life in the enjoyment of Gods presence, and an infinite hurt and torment beside, and both eternal. Now this is that we would lay before you; you are under such an heavy sentence from the womb, a [...] ▪ of [Page 261] the Almighty, adjudging you for Adams guilt, and your own, to all the misery in this world; and the next, to all the treasures of wrath that are heaped up against the day of wrath: and strange it is, how vve can live in peace, and not be troubled in mind, vvho have so great and formidable a party. Be perswaded, O be perswaded, that there shal not one [...]ot of this be re­moved, it must be fulfilled in you, or your Cautione [...]; and vvhy then is a Savior offered, a City of refuge opened, and secure sinners vvill not flee into it? But as for as many as have the inward dreadful apprehen­sion of this vvrath to come, and knows not vvhat to do, know, that to you is Jesus Christ preached, the second Adam, a quickning Spirit, and in that consideration better then the first; not only a living soul himself, but a Spirit to quicken you vvho are dead in sins; one that hath undertaken for you, and vvill hold you fast: Adam vvho should have kept us, lost himself. Christ in a manner, lost himself, to save us: And as by Adams disobedience all this sin & misery hath aboun­ded on man, know, that the second Adam his obe­dience and righteousness is of greater vertue and effi­cacy to save; and in stead of sin, to restore righteous­ness; and in stead of death, to give life: therefore you may come to him, and you shal be more surely kept then be [...]ore.

1. Tim. 1. 15. ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Iesus Christ came in the world to save sinners.’

OF all Doctrines that ever vvere published to men, this contained here is the choisest, as you see the very preface prefixed to it import▪ And truly, as it is the most excellent in it self, it could not but [Page 262] be sweet unto us, if we had received into the heart the belief of our own wretchedness & misery. I do not know a more soveraign cordial for a fainting soul, then this faithful saying, That Iesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. And therfore we are most willing to dwel on this [...]ubject, and to inculcate it often upon you, That without him ye are undone, and lost, and in him you may be saved. I profess, all other subjects (howsoever they might be more pleasing to some hea­rers) are unpleasant and unsavory to me. This is that we would once learn and ever be learning, to know him that came to save us, and come to him.

We labored to show unto you the state of sin and misery that Adams first transgression hath subjected all mankind unto, which if it were really and truly ap­prehended, I do not think but it would make this say­ing welcome to our souls. Man being plunged into such a deep pit of misery, sin and death having over-flowed the whole world, and this being seen and ac­knowledged by a sinner, certainly the next question in order of nature is this, Hath God left all to perish in this estate? Is there any remedy provided for sin and misery? And this will be indeed the query of a self-condemned sinner. Now there is a plank af [...]er this broken ship, there is an answer sweet and satis­factory to this question: Iesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.

We shal not expatiate into many notions about this, or multiply many branches of this. The matter is plain and simple, and we desire to hold it out plain­ly and simply, that this is the remedy of sin and mi­sery. When none could be [...]ound on the right hand or left hand, here a Savior from heaven comes down from above, whence no good could be expected, be­cause a good God was provoked. Can any good come out of Nazareth; that was a proverb concerning him. [Page 263] But I think in some sense, it might be said, can any good thing come down from heaven, from his holy [...]abitation to this accursed earth? Could any thing [...]e expected from heaven but wrath and vengeance? And if no good could be expected that way, what way could it come? Sure if not from heaven, then from no [...]rt: yet from heaven ou [...] help is come, from vvhence it could not be looked for, even from him vvho vvas offended, and his justice engaged against man, that he might both satisfie justice, and save man, that he might not vvrong himself, nor destroy man utterly, he sends his only begotten Son, equal vvith himself in majesty and glory into the vvorld, in the state of a servant, to accomplish mans salvation, and perform him satisfaction. Therefore Christ came into the world to save sinners.

There vvere two grand impediments in the way of mans salvation, which made it impossible to man; one is Gods justice, another is mans sin: these two behoved to be satisfied or removed, ere there can be access to save a sinner. The sentence of divine Justice is pro­nounced against all mankind. Death past on all. A sentence of death and condemnation. Now, vvhen the righteousness and faithfulness of God is engaged into this, how strong a party do you think that must be? What power can break that prison of a divine curse and take out a sinner from under Justice hand? Cer­tainly there is no coming out till the uttermost far­thing be paid that was owing, till compleat satisfaction be given to all vvrongs. Now truly the redemption of the soul had ceased for ever (it's so precious that no creature can give any thing in exchange for it) ex­cept Jesus Christ had come into the vvorld, one that might be able to tread that winepress of wrath alone, & give his life a ransomer in value far above the soul, [Page 264] and pay the debt of sin that vve vvere owing to Go [...] And indeed he vvas furnished for this purpose, a pe [...] son suted and fitted for such a vvork. A man to un­dertake it in our name, and God to perform it in hi [...] own strength. A Man, that he might be made unde [...] the Law, and be humbled even to the death of [...] cross, that so he might obey the commandment, a [...] suffer the punishment due to us; and all this was ele­vated beyond the vvorth of created actions or suffe­rings by that divine nature. This perfumed all hi [...] Humanity, and all done by it, or in it: this put the stamp of Divinity upon all, and imposed an infinite value upon the coyn of finite obedience and suffe­rings: And so in his own person, by coming into the vvorld, and acting and suffering in the place of sin­ners, he hath taken the first great impediment out of the vvay; taken down the high vvall of divine Justice vvich had enclosed round about the sinner, and satis­fied all its demands by paying the price, so that there is nothing upon Gods part to accuse or condemn, to hinder or obstruct salvation.

But then there is an inner vval, or dark dungeon of sin, into vvhich the sinner is shut up, and reserved in chains of his own lusts, until the time of everla­sting darkness; and vvhen Heaven is opened by Christs death, yet this keeps a sinner from entring i [...] Therefore Jesus Christ vvho came himself into th [...] vvorld to satisfie Justice, and remove its plea, th [...] there might be no obstruction from that airth, [...] sends out his powerful Spirit vvith the Word, to de­liver poor captive sinners, to break down the vval of ignorance and blindness, to cast down the high tower of vvickedness and enmity against God, to take cap­tive and chain our lusts that kept us in bondage. And as he made Heaven accessible by his own personal [Page 265] obedience and sufferings, so he makes sinners ready [...]nd free to enter into salvation, by his Spirits vvor­king in their persons. In the one, he had God, as it vvere, his party; and him he hath satisfied so far, that [...]here vvas a voice came from heaven to testifie it, [...]is is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. [...]nd therefore, in testimony of it, God raised him from the dead. In the other, he hath Satan and mans vvicked nature as his party, and these he must con­quer and subdue; these he must overcome, ere vve can be saved: A strange business indeed, and a great vvork, to bring such two opposite and distant parties togethe [...]; a holy and just God, and a sinful and rebel­lious creature, and to take them both as parties, that he might reconcile both.

Now, vvhat do ye think of this, my beloved, that [...]uch a glorious person is come down from Heaven, [...]or such a glorious vvork as the salvation of sinners? [...] put no doubt, it vvould be most acceptable unto you, [...] ye knew your misery; and knowing your misery, you could not but accept it, if you believed that it vvere true and faithful. I find one of these two, the great obstruction in the vvay of souls receiving advan­ [...]age by such glad tydings, either the absolute necessi­ [...]y and excellency of the Gospel is not considered, or [...]he truth and reality of it is not believed. Men ei­ [...]er do not behold the beauty of goodness in it, or [...] not see the light of truth in it; either there is no­ [...]ing discovered to engage their affections, or nothing [...]en to perswade their understandings. Therefore [...]he Apostle sounds a Trumpet, as it vvere, in the entry, before the publication of these glad news, and commends this unto all men, as a true and faithful [...]aying, and as vvorthy of all acceptation. There is [...]ere the highest truth and certainty to satisfie the [Page 266] mind, It's a faithful saying; and there is here also th [...] chiefest good to satiate the heart, It's worthy of al [...] acceptation. Now, if you do really apprehend your lost and miserable estate, you cannot but behold that ravishing goodness in it; and behold that you cannot, til you see the other first: Whence is it, I pray you that so many souls are never stirred vvith the prop [...] ­sition of such things in the Gospel, that the riches a [...] beauty of salvation in JESUS CHRIST doth not once move them? Is it not because ther [...] is no lively apprehension of their misery vvitho [...] him?


GLASGOW, Printed by ROBERT SANDERS and are to be sold at his Shop. M. DC. LXVII.

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