August 23. 1670.

IT is Ordered by the Lords of His Maje­sties most Honourable Privy Council, That none shall Re-print, or Import this Book of Mr. Hugh Binning's, Entituled, Fellowship with God, on the 1. Epistle of Iohn, Chap. 1.2. Nor The Sinners Sanctua­ry, on Rom. Chap. 8. Nor Principles of Chri­stian Religion, all by the said Author, for the space of 19. years to come, without li­cence of the Printers hereof.

A. G.

FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD: OR, XXVIII. Sermons on the 1. Epistle of Iohn, Chap. 1, and 2.

Wherein the true ground and foundati­on of attaining, the spiritual way of intertaining fellowship with the Fa­ther and the Son, and the blessed condition of such as attain to it, are most succinctly and dilucidly explained.

By that eminent Preacher of the Gospel, Mr. Hugh Binning, late Minister at G [...]van.

Joh. 17.21.

That they all may be one, as thou Father, art in me & I in thee, that they also may be one in us.

Vers. 22.

And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.

EDINBVRGH, Printed by George Swin [...]un and Iames Glen, and are to be sold by them, and by David Trench and Th [...]mas Brown, and at most Book-sellers Shops. 1671.

To the sincere seeker after fellowship with God, and seriously Heaven-ward-tending Christian.

De [...]r and welbeloved friend,

AS thou a [...]t in thy self a rare Iewel, a most precious Stone, one of a thousand, [...]ea, of ten thousand, being compared with the many thousands of c [...]mmon Stones, I mean, external Professors in the visible Church, who rest on a bare name, and of whom that is verified in every Nation, which our Saviour saith, M [...]t. 20 16. Many are called, but few chosen; and of many of which, that is also too true in every generation (and oh that it were not too mani­fest in this also) which Paul observed in his time, Phil: 3.18, 19. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you, even weeping, that they are the ene­mies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind ear [...]ly things. And as to Christ thy Lord most comely, as a Lilie among thorns, being [...]is love a­mong the daughters, Cant 2.2. So also, thou in a [...]pecial way art the dearly beloved and longed for, the joy and crown, of every sincere servant of Christ in the Gospel, Phil. 4.1. Thou art, if not the only, yet the chief object of their labours, their work being either to confirm and strengthen thee in thy way, that thou may so stand fast in the Lord, or remove impediments, make crooked thing [...] straight, and so prepare the way of the Lord before thee, or to guide thee by the light of Gods Word in the dark night of temptation [...] and desertion: Now, as we are confident these Sermons were preached at first by that blessed serious labourer in the work [Page] of the Ministry, Mr. Hew Binning, with a special eye to the advancement of sincere seek [...]rs after fellowship w [...]h God▪ and seriously Heaven-ward tending Christians am [...]ngst his hear­ [...]s, So to whom shall we dire [...]t this posthumous▪ and al [...]s, unperfected wor [...], but to thee (O serious C [...]rist [...]an) who makes it thy work not only to s [...]k after the knowledge of [...]d in Christ, in a meer speculative way that thou may know, and therein rest, a [...] if thy w [...]k were done, but also to f [...]llow after the enjoyment of that known God, and believed [...] S [...]i­our, and all the promised priviledges of grace in [...]his l [...]fe, and of eternal glory in the life to come; To thee es [...]cially be­long these precious soul-ravis [...]ing t [...]uths delivered in these Sermons. Two things, we kn [...]w, thou hast determined thy soul unto, and fixed thine eye on, as thy a [...]m and ma [...]k in thy gene [...]ation▪ viz. the light of knowledge, and the life of pra­ctice; as to knowledge, we are confident that with the A­postle Paul, 1 Cor. 2.2. Thou ha [...] determined to know nothing but Christ, and him crucified, and as to practice, with the said Apostle thou prayes, that thou may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousnesse, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory of God▪ Phil. 1.10, 11. And that [...]hou may be bl [...]melesse an [...] h [...]rmlesse, the Son of God, without rebuke i [...] the mi [...]st of a crooked and perverse nation, shining as a light in the world, Phil. 2.15. Now in reading these Serm [...]ns thou shall perceive, that to help thee in both thes [...], hath be [...]n the very scope and design of this s [...]rio [...] Preacher; d [...]s [...]est thou to know Jesus Christ the Lord of life, either acc [...]ding to his eternal subsistence in the infinit understanding of the [...]ther, as Go [...], or as to his appearance in the flesh, as Man, or fitnesse as Medi [...]tor, to [...]econcile the [...] to God his Father [...]oth in respect of wi [...]lingness and ability to save, then here thou shall behold him deline at [Page] to the life: Would thou be clearly informed a [...]ent the only true and sure foundation of fellowship with God, the way of intertaining it, the honour or happinesse of it, and sweet fru [...]s of it, that fulnesse of joy that accompanies it, here sha [...] thou find so clear a light as shall rejoyce thy soul: Would tho [...] be fortified against the in [...]ursions and recursions of sin an [...] Satan, then come to this Magazine, and be furnished [...]b [...]da [...]tly: desirest thou to have thy so [...]l [...]ncreased in the [...] of God, and to see manif [...]st demonstratio [...] of [...] love in Christ to thee, o [...] then turn in hither▪ [...] g [...]t satisf [...]ion to thy souls desires: [...]f thou des [...]rest with David, to hate [...] with a perfect hatred, here, if any where, thou shal [...] [...] thy desire: yet let none think that we limit [...] the [...] an [...] usefulness of these Sermons to ser [...]o [...] Christians [...], an [...] so by consequence exclude all others fro [...] a [...]y [...]ope of [...] in reading them: Nay, we declare that thoug [...] [...] [...]de [...]yable that [...]o [...]n did write this Epistle w [...]th a [...]peci­al re [...]pect to the spir [...]ual advantage of serio [...] [...]; and that this holy Preacher also, had this same design, [...]et [...]e da [...] be bold to [...] all of what degree soever, to the serio [...] pe [...]using of them, assuring them that in so doing, they [...]all not find their labour in vain in the Lord; for her [...] are such pregnant demonstrations of a Deity, infinit, eternal▪ [...]ipotent, incomprehensible, g [...]verning all things by the wor [...] of his powe [...], as ma [...] dash the boldnesse of the most [...] raphy­s [...]cally notional, or prop [...]an [...]ly practical Atheist, and wit [...] con­viction of spirit m [...]ke him cry out, as Psal. 73.22. So fooli [...] [...] beast before thee: Here [...] such clear [...] [...]lenesse of sin, of its direct opposition to a holy God, and his most holy will, of its wofull soul d [...]ning effects, as may convince the most prophane and stout-h [...]arted carnalist, and awake him out of his soul- [...] of security and presumption: [...]ere are so glori­ous [Page] evidences of Gods free and inconceivable love to the world, in Christ Jesu [...] the Son of his love, as are able to inlighten with the light of consolation the sadliest dejected and [...] down soul under the apprehension of the curse and wra [...]h of God due to it for sin, and raise it up to the hope of mercy in and through so clearly a revealed Saviour: In a word, here are to be found convictions for Athe [...]sts, piercing reb [...]kes to the prophane, clear instructions to the ignorant, milk to b [...]es in Christ, strong meat for the strong, strength to the weak, [...]uickning and reviving for such [...]s faint in the way, re [...]ratives for such as are in a decay, reclamations and loud o [...]esses after backsliders to recall them, breasts of consolations for Zions mourners, whether under the first convictions of the Law, and pangs of the new birth, or under the ch [...]llenges and compunctions of heart for recidivation [...] and relapses after conversion, even while they are groaning [...]nder the power and burden of the body of death, Rom. 7. And to add no more, here are most excellent counsels and di­rections to serious seekers of fellowship with God to guide them in their way, and help them forward to the attainment of that fulness of joy which is to be had in fellowship with the Father and the Son. That the Lord may blesse all such to whose hands these Sermons shall c [...]me, with blessings suit­ [...]ble to their souls condition, es [...]ecially (the serious Chri­stian.) for whose soul furtherance and advancement these Sermons were first Penn'd, and now Printed, is the most af­fectiona [...] desire of

Thy Servant in the Gospel of our dearest Lord and Saviour▪ A. S.


1 Joh. 1.1.

That which was from the be­ginning, which we have heard, &c.

IT is the great qualification of a Disciple, or Hearer, to be atten­tive, and docile, to be capable of teaching, and to apply the mind seriously to it: it is much to get the ear of a man; if his ear be gotten, his mind is the more easily gain­ed: Therefore those who professed eloquence, and studied to perswade men to any thing, used in the entry, to fall upon some thing that might stir up the attention of their hearers, or make them the more inclinable to receive instruction, or catch their [...]avour or good-will, which is of great moment to perswasion: for it is some­times fit to open the passages of the heart by such means, that there may be the more easie entry for instruction and perswasion. Truly there is something of this Art runs here in a divine channel; as indeed all these rules of hu­mane wisdome attain their perfection, when they meet with a divine spirit, that elevats them to a more transcend [...]nt use. Happy was that eloquence of Pauls, and something like the [Page 2] sweet inspi [...]ation of Angel [...], by which they pre­vail with the [...]pi [...]its of men: Nevertheless, be­ing crafty ( [...]aith he) I caught you with guile, [...] Cor. 12 16. The [...]e were, piae fraudes, whe [...]e­by he used to [...] poor souls out of the pit, and pluck them out of the fire; and he that said, I will m [...]ke you fi [...]hers of men, taught them to use some holy deceit, to present some things for the allurement of souls, and so to surround and inclose them with most weighty and convin­cing reasons. This beloved Apostle who leaned upon Christs bosome, and was likely to learn the very secrets of the art of fishing souls, you see how he goeth about the business; he useth an holy art in this Preface; being about to give a re-capitulation of the whole Gospel, and to make a short summary of the Doctrine of it, for the more effectual establishment, and confir­mation of souls already converted, and for the more powerful pe [...]swasion of others to imbrace it; he useth all the skill that can be in the en­try, to dispose mens hearts to receive it; like a wise Orator, he labours to make them atten­tos, dociles, & benevolos: to stir up their at­tention, to conciliat their affection, and so to make them docile, and easily teachable: He stirrs up attention, when he shews that he is not to speak about trifling light matters, or low things, or things that do not concern them; but concerning the greatest, most concerning, [...]nd important things to them, even the word [Page 3] of life, in which all their life was wrapt up: which though it was ancient in it self, yet with­all it was a new thing to the world, and so for all respects deserved to be taken serious notice of. Then he conciliats their benevolence and good-will, by shewing his own good affection towards them, and his great design in it, that it was only for their good and salvation, that he had nothing else before him, but to have them partakers with himself, in that same hap­pinesse: he had sound a jewel, and he hides it not, but proclaims it, that all men may have fel­lowship with him, and that is, with God, and that cannot but bring in full joy to the heart. Now a soul being made thus attentive, and willing to hear, it is the best disposition, that makes them most capable of being taught. If those two stayes were come over; the careless regard that is in mens hearts towards the Go­spel, and the suspicious thoughts and prejudi­ces against the Ambassadours of it, then what would hinder to believe it? The great miseries of men are, Inconsideration, and Misapprehensi­on: Either men are so noised with other things, continually buzzing in their ears, and their hearts so possest with the clamours of their lusts, and the cryes of the things of this world, that they have no leasure so much as to hearken pa­tiently to this blessed sound, or to apprehend seriously what weight and moment lyes in it; and so the most part of men cannot give that [Page 4] [...]rnest and deep attention that is nec [...]ss [...]i [...]y [...]e­qui [...]ed fo [...] this divine teaching; or else there a [...]e m [...]ny mistakes and misconception [...] of the Gospel, which sometimes arise to that hight of [...]easoning ag [...]inst God, and prej [...]dices against them that ca [...]y this message; which usually a [...]e joyned together, and the [...]e stop [...] ea [...]s of men against the wisest and most powe [...]ful in­chantment of P [...]eaching, that it gains not much g [...]ound on them. O that ye would once listen to the Gospel, Hea [...]ken and incline your ears unto me, i [...] the Lords fi [...]st great request: and i [...] once you do but se [...]io [...]sly apply your minds and hearts, to see what is held out unto you, and to prove what good i [...] in it, certainly these sure and eve [...]lasting me [...]cies will mercifully and sweetly c [...]tch you with guile, and deceive you, (if I may say so) to your eternal advantage. Wisdome, the Fathers wisdome, begs but an equal hea [...]ing of you, let her have but a pati­ent hearing, and a silent impartial judgement of the heart, and she will ca [...]y it off all that suit you: It is lamentable that the voice of God should be out-cryed by mens continual uninterrupted flood of businesse, that fills the heart with a continual noise, and keeps men in such a constant hurry and distemper, that they can give time and patie [...]e to nothing else▪ and this is only the advantage, the world and the lust [...] of it have; for if they come once un­der a sober and serious ex [...]mination, and the [Page 5] other party, that is, Iesus Christ, and the Word of Life, might h [...]ve the liberty to be heard in the inward retired thoughts of the heart, it would soon be found how unequal they are, and that all their efficacy consists, in our ignorance, and their strength, in our weaknesse; Certainly Christ would carry it, to the conviction of all that is in the soul. I beseech you let us giv [...] him this attention.

He that answer [...] a tale before he hear it, its a solly [...]nd weaknesse to him: A [...]olly certainly it is to give this Gospel a repulse before ye hear it: It promiseth life and immortality, which nothing else doth; and you intertain other things upon lower promises and expectations, even after frequent experiences of their deceit­fulnesse: What a madnesse then is it to hear this promise of life in Christ, so o [...]ten beaten upon you, [...]nd yet never so much as to put him to the proof of it? and to put him off conti­nually who knocks at your hearts, be [...]o [...]e you will consider attentively who it is that thus im­portunes you. O my beloved, that you would hear him to Amen, let him speak freely to your hearts, and commune with them in the night on your beds, in your greatest retirement from other things, that you may not be disturbed by the noise of your lusts and business; and I per­swade my self, you who have now least mind of this life, and joy in God, should find it, and find it in him: But to cut off [...]ll convictions [Page 6] and perswasions [...]t fi [...]st, [...]nd to set such a gua [...]d at your minds, to provide that nothing o [...] that [...]ind come in▪ or else that it be cast out as an enemy, thi [...] is unequal, ignorant, and unrea­sonable dea [...]ing, which you alone will repent of, it m [...]y be too late, when past [...]emedy.

He p [...]opounds that which he is to speak, in the fi [...]t [...]st way for the commendation of it to their hearts: and Oh! How vast a difference be­twixt this, and the ordinary subject of mens discou [...]e [...]? our ears are filled continually with reports: and it is the usual way of men to de­light to hear, and to report, even those things that are not so delightful in themselves; and truly there are not many occur [...]ences in the world ( [...]uppose you had a Di [...]nal of the [...]ff [...]irs of all men, every week) that can give any so­lid refreshment to the heart, except in the holy meditation of the vanity, vexation, and in­constancy that God hath subjected all those things unto. But its sad, that Christians, who have so noble and divine, so pleas [...]nt and profi­table things, to speak upon one to another, are notwithstanding as much subject to that Atheni [...]n disease, to be i [...]ching a [...]ter new things continually, and to spend our time this way, to repo [...]t, and to hear news; and alas, wh [...]t a [...]e those things that are tossed up and down conti­nually, but the follies, weaknesse [...], impotencie [...] and wickedness, ambition and avarice of men, the iniquity and impiety of the world that lyes [Page 7] in wickednesse; and is there [...]ny thing in this, either pleasant or profitable, that we should delight to intertain our own thoughts, and o­thers ears with them? But the Subj [...]ct that is here intreated of, is of another nature, no­thing in it self so excellent, nothing to us so convenient, That which was from the beginning, of the word of life, we declare unto you. O how pleasant and sweet a voice is that which sounds from Heaven, be those confused noises [...]re that arise from the earth? This is a Message that is come from Heaven, with him that came down from it: and indeed that is the Airt, from whence good news hath come; Since the first curse was pronounced upon the earth, the earth hath brought forth nothing, but thorns and b [...]iars of contention, stri [...]e, sorrow, and vexa­tion: Only from above hath this Message been sent to renew the world again, and recreat it, as it were: There are four properties by which this infinitly surpasses all other things can be told you. For it self it is most excellent▪ for its endurance, it is most ancient; and to us, it is most profitable; and both in its self, and to u [...], it is most certain; and by these the Apostle labours to prepare their hearts to serious attention.

For the excellency of the subject that he is to declare, its incomparable, for it is no lesse, then that Jewel that is hid in the Mine of the Scriptures, which he, as it were, digs up, and [Page 8] shews and o [...]er [...] it unto them; that Jewel ( [...] say) which, when a man hath sound, he may sell all to buy it; that Jewel, more precious then the most precious desires and delights of men, even Iesus Christ, the substantial word of life, who is the substance of all the shadows of the Old Testament, the end of that ministery, the accomplishment of the promises, and that very life of all Religion, without which there is nothing more vain and empty. It i [...] t [...]ue, the Gospel is the word of life, and holds out salva­tion to poor sinners, but yet it is Ch [...]ist that is th [...] life of that wo [...]d, not only as touching the efficacy and power of it, but as touching the subject of it; for the Gospel is a word [...]f li [...]e only, because it speaks of him, who is the life and the light of men; it is but a report of the true life, a [...] Iohn said, I am not that light, but am sent to bear witness of that light, Joh. 1.8. So the Gospel, though it be called the power of God to salv [...]tion, Rom. 1.16. and the savour of life, and the Gospel of salvation, Eph. 1 13. yet it is not that true life, but only a testimony and declaration of it, it hath not life and immorta­lity in it self, but only the bringing of those to light, and to the knowledge of men, 2 Tim. 1.10. it is a discovery where these treasures are lying▪ for the searching and finding.

To speak of this word of life, Iesus Christ, ac­cording to his eternal subsistence in the infinite understanding of the Father; it would ce [...]tain­ly [Page 9] requi [...]e a di [...]ine [...]pi [...]it, mor [...] elevated above the o [...]dinary sphere of men, and sep [...]rate from that earthlinesse, and impurity, that makes us incapable of seeing that holy and pure Majesty. Angels were but low Messengers for this; for how can they expresse to us, what they cannot conc [...]ive thems [...]lves, and therefore wonder at the mystery of i [...]? I confes [...]e, the best way of speaking those things, which so infinitly surpass created capacities, were to sit down in silence, and wonder at them; and withall to taste such a sweetnesse, in the immense greatnesse, and in­fi [...]it myste [...]iou [...]nesse of what we believe, as might [...]avish the soul more, [...]fter that which is unknown, then all the perfections of the world known and seen to the bottom can do. This Doctrine of the holy Trinity hath been propa­gated from the beginning of the world, even among the Heathens, and derived by tradition f [...]om the first Fathers, or the Hebrews to neigh­bour Nation [...], and therefore they speak many divine things of that Infinit, Supream Being, who is the fountain of the whole Creation, and that he created all things by his most divine Word, and that his blessed Spirit is the union and bond of both, and of all things besides. It is known what mysteries the Pythagoreans apprehended in the number of Three, what per­fection they imagined to be in it: So much was let out, as might either make them with­out excuse, or prepare the world to receive [Page 10] readily the [...] should be [...] [...]e­v [...]ale [...]: It i [...] commonly he [...]d forth, that this eternal Word, i [...] the b [...]h o [...] the infinit under­standing o [...] God, reflecting upon his own most ab [...]olu [...]e and pe [...]fect bein [...]; which i [...] [...]llust [...]ated by some poor comparison to us Creatures, who [...]o [...]m in our mind▪ in the understanding of any thing, an inward word, or image of the object, some rep [...]e [...]entation and similitude of that we un [...]e [...]st [...]nd, and this is mo [...]e perfect then an ex­ternal vocal expression can be; so we have a weak and finit conception of the acting of that infinit wisdom of God, by which he knows him­sel [...], th [...]t the [...]e results, as it were, upon it, the per [...]ect subst [...]ntial im [...]ge, and the expresse cha­racter of the Divine Essence; and therefore is the Son of God called, the Word which was with God, and the wisdome of the Father, because he is, a [...] it were, the very birth of his unde [...]stan­ding, and not only the Image of his own Es­sence, but the Idea, in which he conceived, and by which he created the visible world. Then we use to conceive the H [...]ly [...]host, as the pro­duction of his blessed will, whereby he loves, delights, and hath complacency in his own all-sufficient, all-blessed Being, which he himself alone pe [...]fectly comprehend▪ by his infinit un­derstanding▪ and therefore called, the Spirit, a word borrowed from [...]esemblance to poor cre [...]t [...]res, who have many impulses, and incli­nation [...] to several thing [...], and are carried to [Page 11] motion, and action, rather from that part which is invisible in them; the subtilest parts there­fore called Spirits: So the Lo [...]d applyes his Almighty power, and exerceth his infinite wisdome, according to the pleasure and deter­mination of his will, for that seems to be the immediat p [...]inciple of wo [...]king; therefore there i [...] mention made of the Spiri [...], in the Creatio [...] of the wo [...]ld, He sent [...]ut his Spirit, and they were [...]reated, P [...]al. 104.30. These are the weak and low attempts of men to [...]each the height of that unsearchable mystery; such conjectu [...]es we have of this Word of God, and his eternal ge­ne [...]ation, as if Trees could take upon them to unde [...]stand the nature of Beasts, or as if Beasts would presume to give an account of the spirit that acts in men: Certainly the distance is in­ [...]initly greater between God and us; and he must needs behold greater vanity, folly, and dark­nesse, in our clearest apprehensions of his Maje­sty, then we could [...]ind in the reasonings and conceptions of Beasts about our nature. When our own conception in the womb, is such a my­stery, as made David to sa [...], O how wonderfully am I made, and fearfully? he saw a curious art and wisdom in it, that he could not understand, and he believed an infinit power, he could not conceive, which surprized his soul with such un­exp [...]cted matter of wonder, as made him fear and tremble at the thought of it. I say, when the generation of a poor creature, hath so much [Page 12] depth of wisdome in it, now canst thou [...]ink to understand that eve [...]lasting wonder of Angel [...], the birth and conception of that eternal wisdom of God? An [...] if thou canst not understand from whence the wind comes, and whither it goes, or how thine own spirits beat in thy veins, what is the production of them, and what their moti­ons? How can we then conceive the procession of the Holy Ghost, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor h [...]th it entered into the heart of man to consider it?


1 Joh. 1.1.

That which was from the be­ginning, &c.

THings are commended sometimes, because they are ancient, especially Doctrines in Religion, because truth is before error, and falshood is but an aberration from truth; and therefore th [...]re is so much ple [...] and contention [...]mong men, about Antiquity, as if it were the sufficient rule of verity; but the abuse is, that men go not far enough backward in the steps of Antiquity, that is, to the most ancient rule, and pro [...]ession, and practice of truth in Scri­pture, to Christ and his Apostles, but halt in their Grand-fathers Tombs. But sometimes [Page 13] things a [...]e commended, [...]ec [...]e new; the na­ture of man being inclined to change and va­riety, and ready to su [...]fe [...]t and loath accustomed things: Even as the stomach finds appetite for new and unusual dyets, so the mind of man hath a sec [...]et longing a [...]ter new doct [...]ines, and things. Now we have both these combined to­gether in this Subject, which makes it the more excellent and wonder [...]ul; Antiquity, and No­velty: for Antiquity, it is that which was from the beginning, and which was with the Father, and that is before all Antiquity, even from eter­nity; not only from the beginning of time, but before all time, be [...]ore all imaginable begin­nings. He, of whom he speaks, Christ Iesus, the Fathers Word, was with the Father, from the beginning, with the Ancient of Dayes, who in­finitly, and unmeasurably, antidates all antiqui­ty, to whose endurance, all antiquity that is renowned among men, is but novelty, to whom, the world is but as of six dayes standing, or but as of yesterday, if we consider that infinit, be­ginningless, immensurable endurance of God, before this world: What a boddom or clew is that, that can never be untwined by the imagi­nations of men and Angels; To all eternity they should never unwind it, and come to the end of that threed, of the age of the Father, and the Son; who possessed one another before the hills were, and before the foundations of the mountains: This is it that maketh Religion [Page 14] the rich [...]st an [...] most tra [...]c [...]ndent subj [...]ct in the world, that it p [...]esent [...] us with a two [...]old ete [...]ni­ty, and invi [...]o [...]s the soul befo [...]e and behin [...] with an eternity without beginning, only proper to God, and an ete [...]nity without [...]nd, communicated to Angels and men, from God. That which was from the beginning, and before all beginning, either real, or im [...]gined, How much moment [...]nd weight is in that, to perswade a soul, and compose it, beyond all the specious and painted appearances of the wo [...]ld? to consider that such [...] Saviour is holden out unto us, to come unto, and lean upon, that is the Rock of ages, upon whose word, this huge frame is bottomed, and stands fi [...]m; one who infinitly exceeds and pre­vents all things, visible or invisible, all their mutations and changes, one who was possessed of the Father, as hi [...] delight, before the foun­dation of the world, and so most likely to re­concile him to us, and prevail with him; yea, most certainly, they must have one will, and one delight, who were undivided from all eter­nity; and they then rej [...]y [...]i [...]g in the h [...]bitable parts of the earth, taking complacency in their own thoughts of peace and good-will they had toward us, afte [...]wa [...]ds to b [...]eak forth. And if both delighted in their very projects and plots upon the business, what may we think the accom­plishment of the whole design will add, if it were possible to supe [...]add to their delight? I would have you upon this, to gather two considerati­ons, [Page 15] [...]o [...] your edification: One, to think what an incompa [...]ably excellent Saviour we have, one with God, equal to him, yea, one with him from all ete [...]nity, and so how strong a founda­tion there is for faith and confidence? What a Rock to establish a tossed soul upon? Mans mi­sery and curse being for all eternity, their is one to deliver from that, who was from all eterni­ty. And who could purchase unto us such abso­lute bl [...]ssedness throughout all ete [...]nity, who was not himself from all eternity? What marvellous congruity and beauty is in the ways of God? How is all fitted and [...]ramed by infi­nit wisdom? to the end that we may have strong consolation. Do you not see the infinit evil, and hainousness of sin, in the giving of such a p [...]ecious ransome for it? O how is the black vi­sage of sin pourtrayed in the beauty and glory of the Mediators Person? How is it painted, even to horrour in his death? Again, what divinity and worth is put upon the immortal soul of man, that is but of yesterday, since the begin­ning? When he that was the delight of God, before all beginning, is weighted in the ballance, as it were, with it, and no other thing found sufficient for exchange and compensation, that the soul may be redeemed: And doth not this answer all the jealousies, and suspicious thoughts, and fea [...]ful apprehensions, arising from the con­sideration of our own weaknesse and infirmity? When such an one is offered, as is able to save [Page 16] to the utmost. Then I would desire you may believe, that the Father is as well minded to the salvation of sinne [...]s, as the Son; [...]or they were sweet company together from all eterni­ty, and, as it we [...]e, contrived this plot and de­sign between them, to save and [...]edeem man­kind. Some intertain ha [...]sher thoughts of the Father, as if Christ were more accessible, and exorable; but the t [...]uth is, he hath given his Son this command, and the [...]efore he professed, that it was not so much his will, as his Fathers, he was about: Therefore correct your appre­hension [...], do not stand aback from the Father, as it were, till you have prevailed with Christ, no, that is not the way; come in your fi [...]st ad­dresse to the Father, in the Son, for so he wills you; not because he must be ove [...]come by his Sons perswasion, but because he would have his love to run in th [...]t ch [...]nnel, through Christ to us: And indeed our S [...]viour was much in hol­ding out the love of the Father, and laboured to perswade the wo [...]ld of it. Withall, I wish you to consider whom ye neglect and despise, who hear this Gospel daily, and the word of life holden out unto you; and yet suffer not your hearts to be moved, or stirred after him. Alas, my beloved, to forsake so great a mercy, as the eternal Word of Life, as the infinit Wisdome of the Father, and to let the offer of this, every day run by us, and never to find leasure and va­cancy from the multitude of businesses, and [Page 17] throng of the thoughts, and lusts of the world, never to start so far backward, as to look be­yond this world, to God, and his Son Iesus Christ, never to mind seriously, either him that was before all things visible, or our own souls, th [...]t must survive, and out-live all this visible frame. This, I say, is the great misery and con­demnation of the world, that this eternal light hath shined, and you love your own darkness bet­ter: But be perswaded, that one day ye will think one offer of this Word of Life, better then life, better, infinitly better then the most absolute life that the attendance and concur­rance of all the creatures could yeeld you. O then that ye would incline your ears and heart [...] to this that is declared unto you, to receive this Word of Life, that was from the beginning, and ye may be perswaded, ye shall enjoy a bles­sednesse without end.

But there is withall a newness in this subject, which both increases admiration, [...]nd may the more engage our affection; for the life was ma­nifested (saith he) vers. 2. and he is such a word of life, as though he was invisible, and untouchable from the beginning, yet he wa [...] lately cloathed with flesh, that mad [...] him both visible, and capable of being handled. Now truly these [...]re the two Poles, about which the mystery, glory, and wonder of Christianity turns: the antiquity of his real existence, as God; and the latenesse or novelty of his ap­pearance [Page 18] in the flesh, a [...] man; Nothing [...]o old, [...]or he hath the infinit fore-start of the oldest and most ancient Creatu [...]e [...]. Take those An­gels, the Sons of God, who sung together in the fi [...]st morning of the Creation, yet their ge­neration can soon be told, and their years num­bered; it is easie to calculat all antiquity, and we should not reach six thousand years, when it is taken at the largest measure; and what are six thousand years in his sight, but as six dayes, when they are past? and if we would run back­ward, as far before that point of b [...]ginning, and calculat other six thousand, yet we a [...]e ne­ver a jote nearer the age of the Son of God. Suppose a mountain of sand, as big a [...] the ea [...]th, and an Angel to take from it one g [...]ain every year, your imagin [...]tion would weary it self, e [...]e ye reckoned in what space this mountain should be diminished, or removed: It would ce [...]tain­ly trouble the Arithmetick of the wisest Mathe­matician. Now imagine as many years, or ages of years, to have run out before the world took its beginning, a [...] the years in which the Angel would exhaust this mountain; yet we have not come a white nearer the endur [...]nce of our Lord and Saviour, whose being is lik [...] a Circle, with­out beginning, or end. Behold he is great, and we know him not, and the number of his years c [...]nnot be searched out, Job 36.26. and who can declare his generation? The age of thi [...] Word is such a labyrinth, with innumerable tur­ning [...], [Page 19] and wind [...]ngs in it, which will alwayes lea [...] them round that enter in it; and so they are, after the longest progress and sea [...]ch, but just where th [...]y we [...]e, alwayes beginning, and n [...] ­ver coming nea [...]er the beginning of his duration, because it is the beginning of all things that have a beginning, but hath none it sel [...]. Now he that was thu [...] blessed from everlasting, who dwelt in in­a [...]cessible light and glory, which no m [...]n hath seen, nor can [...]ee, infinitly [...]emoved from all humane ca­pacities and sense [...]; he, I say, begins to be mani­ [...]ested in the fulnesse o [...] time; and to make him­self visible, he takes on o [...]r flesh; and all for this pu [...]po [...]e, that he who was the substantial life in himself, and the eternal life, in an essen­tial and necessary way, might become l [...]e to poor dead sinners, and communicate to them eternal life; and truly it was no wonder that all ages were in expectation of this, from the be­ginning of the world, since it was first promised, that the Inhabitants of Heaven were in a long­ing expect [...]tion to see, [...]nd look into this myste­ [...]y, for ther [...] is something in it more wonderful then the creation of th [...]s huge frame of Heaven and Earth: God made himself in [...] manner vi­sible, by making the visible world: His power, goodnesse, and wisdome, are every where im­print [...]d in great Characters o [...] the whole, and all the parts of it: the light, How glorious a gar­ment is it? with which he is, as it were, cloath­ed: the Heavens, How Majestick a Throne? [Page 20] the Earth, How stately a Foot-stool? the Thun­der, How glorious and te [...]rible a voice? In a word, the beeing, the beauty, the ha [...]mony, and proportion of this huge frame, is but a visibl [...] appe [...]rance of the invisible God. But in taking on our flesh, the Word is more wonderfully ma­ni [...]ested, and made visible; for, in the fi [...]st, the Creator made creatures to start out of nothing, at his command; but in this, the Creator is made a Creature: He once gave a beginning of being to thing [...] that were not; being before all beginning himself; he now takes a beginning, and become [...] flesh, that he was not. And what i [...] it in which he was manifested? Is it the spiri­tual nature of Angel [...]? But though that far ex­cell ours, yet it i [...] no manifestation of him to us; for he should still be as unknown as ever. Is it in the glory, pe [...]fection, and flower of the visible world, as in the Sun, and lights of Hea­ven? But though that hav [...] more shew of glory, then the flesh of man; yet it makes not much to our comfort; there would not be so much consolation in that manifest [...]tion. Therefore, O how wisely and wonderfully is it contrived, for the good of lost man? That the Son of God shall be made of a woman, that the Father of spirits shall be manifested in the lowest habit of our flesh: and the lower and baser that be, in which he appears, the higher the mystery is, and the richer the comfort is; suppose the m [...]nifestation [...]f glory should not be so great, yet the mani­festation [Page 21] of love is so much t [...]e g [...]eater; and this is t [...]e great design; God so loved, &c. Ioh. 3. Nay, [...] may say, even the glory of the only be­gotten Son of God, was the more [...]isibly mani­fested, that he appeared in so low and unequal a shape; for power, to shew it self in weaknesse, for glo [...]y, to [...]ppear in basenesse, for divinity, to kyth in humanity, and such glorious rayes, to b [...]eak forth from under such a dark cloud; this was greater Glory, and more M [...]jesty, then if he had only shewed himself in the perfection of the creatures. Now it is easie to distinguish the vail, from that it covers; to separat infirmity from divinity: but then it had been more dif­ficult, if his outw [...]rd [...]ppearance had been so glorious, to give unto God what was Gods, and to give the creatures what was the creatures: The more near his outward shape had been to his divine nature, the lesse able had we been to see the glory of his Divinity through it.

Now, my beloved, when both these are l [...]id together, the [...]ncientnesse of our Saviour, and with [...]l the newness of his appearance in the flesh, by which he hath come so near us, and, as it were, brought his own Majesty within our sphear, to be apprehended by us; [...]nd for no other end, but to make life and immort [...]lity to shine forth, [...]s beams from him, to the quickning of dead souls. O how should this conjunction endear him to us: that the everlasting Father should be­come [Page 22] a Child for us; that is one wonder. The next wonder i [...], that we who are enemies, should be made the children of God by him: when the da [...]k and obscure prophesying of this, when the twilight of Jewish type [...] and shadows did creat so much joy in the hea [...]t [...] of [...]elievers, in so much that they longed fo [...], and [...]ejoyced to see afar off th [...]t day; when such a da [...]k [...]epresentation of this Word of L [...]fe, wa [...] the very life of the godly in the wo [...]ld, [...]or [...]our thousand years; O how much i [...] the cau [...]e of joy increased, by the rising of the Sun of Rig [...]teousn [...]sse himself, and appearing in the very da [...]kest nig [...]t of Supe [...]stition and Idola­try that was ever over the wo [...]ld? When the true Life hath [...]risen himself, and b [...]ought to open light that life that wa [...] obscu [...]ely couched up in P [...]ophecies and Ce [...]emonies, a [...] hid under so ma­ny Clouds. O then, let us open our h [...]rts to him, and intertain th [...]se new and fresh tidings, with new delights: Though these be now mo [...]e then 16 [...]0. years old, yet they [...]re still recent to a believing heart; th [...]re is [...]n everlasting spring in them, th [...]t [...]ends out every day fresh c [...]nsolati­on on to souls, a [...] refreshing, as the fi [...]st day▪ thi [...] spring was opened. This is the new Wine that never grows old, nay, it is [...]ather every gene [...]a­tion renewed, with the accession of some new manifestation of the love of God. Ch [...]ists In­carnation was the fi [...]st manifestation of the Sun, the very morning of light and life, the day-spring, [Page 23] vi [...]ng the world, tha [...] was bu [...]ied in an hel [...]i [...]h darknesse of Heathen Idolatry: and even the Church of God, in the grave of Superstition, and corruption of Doctrine and manne [...]s: then did that Sun of Righteousnesse fi [...]st set up his head above the Ho [...]zon; but it is but one day still, he hath been but coming by degrees to the Me­ridian, and shining more and more to the perfec [...] day; That Sun hath not set since, but made [...] course, and gone a round about the World, in the Preach­ing of the Gospel, and brought life, & light about, by succession, from one nation [...]o another; and on [...] generation to another; and there [...]ore we ought to intertain it this day with acclamations, and jubila­tion of heart, as the people that ly under th [...] North, do welcome the Sun when it [...]mes once a year to them. After that the kindnes [...] and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Tit. 3.4. [...], his kindly and affectionat love to man­kind, that is it that shines so brightly; the beams of grace and love to men, are the rayes that are scattered from this Sun of Righteousness. O the hardness of mens hearts, the impenetr [...]ble obstina­cy of man, that this cannot melt or pierce. How damnable and miserable a case are they into, who can neither be perswaded with the eternity of this subject, to adore it, nor moved with the late appearance of the love of God to the world, in sending of his Son? whom neither Christs Ma­jesty, nor his Humility, can draw. Certainly this [Page 24] make [...] sinners under the Gospel, in a more de­plorable condition then So [...]om; because if he ha [...] not come, they had not had such sin, but now it i [...] without excuse, &c.


1 Joh. 1.1, 2, 3.

That which we have heard and seen of the word of life, declare we unto you, &c.

THings that are excellent in themselves, will be lo [...]ed for themselves; but they become the more suitable object of affection, if they have with [...]l some suitablenesse and conveniency to us: Yet neither the excellency, nor conveni­ency of the object, is sufficient to engage the heart, if the [...]e be not something in the mind too, suitable to the obj [...]ct: that is, the apprehensi­on of that reality and good that is in it; for [...]s there is a certainty in the object, that makes it a real, not imaginary thing; so there must be a certainty in the subject, whereby the thing is [...]pprehended to be true, good, and excellent; [...]nd then the object of af [...]ection is compleated. Some things there are in nature, excellent in them­selve [...], but they rather beget admiration, then [...]ffection, because they are not suitable to our necessities: Other things of a more ordinary [Page 25] purchase, have some conveniency to supply our wants; and though they be lesse worth in their own nature then precious stones, and such like; yet they are more desired. But there is this la­mentable disproportion betwixt our [...]pprehensi­ons, and the things themselves, which is the ground of much disappointment; and so of vex­ation. The things of this world having nothing of that solid excellency, or true worth, and con­veniency to our souls, nothing suit [...]ble to our immortal spirits; but being empty vain shadows, and windy husks, in stead of substantial tru [...] food; yet there are high apprehensions, and big conceits of them, which is a kind of monst [...]uous production, or empty swelling of the mind; which because it hath no bottom of solidity, it will fall and evanish. Again, take a view of spi­ritual things, holden out in the Gospel, and there is as incong [...]uous and unproportioned carriag [...] of our hearts towards them, they have a cer­tainty, and reality, and subsistence in themselves, they alone are excellent, and suit [...]ble to our spi­rits; notwithstanding, the mind of man is hug [...] ­ly mishapen towards them by unbelief, and hath nothing in his apprehension suitable to the thing [...] themselves: they are represented as far belo [...] their true worth, as things temporal above their just value; and therefore men are not enamoured with them, souls [...]re not ravished after that beau­ty that is in them.

Now the end of these word [...] read, is to reform [Page 26] this irregular, disorderly posture of your minds, to hold out to you things truly excellent, and exceedingly convenient, things good and profi­t [...]le, in the most superlative degree, in the highest rank that your imagination can suppose; and then to pe [...]swade you, that you are not de­ceived with vain words, or fair promises, but that there is a certain truth, and an infallible reality in them, that you being assertained in your souls, [...]ccording to the ce [...]tainty of the things presen­ted, you may then [...]reely, without any reserve, give your hearts to love, imbrace, and follow them. O that there might be such a meeting between your hearts and this eternal life, that as he hath come near to us, to be suitable to us, your apprehension [...] might draw near to be suit­able to him: and by this means, your souls might meet immediatly with that Word of Life, and have that constant fellowship with him, that is spoken of, vers. 3. so your joy should be full. For joy is but the full peace of the desires; fill up all the wants of the heart, and then it is full of joy. And so, when such a satisfying object is pitched on, as doth exactly correspond, and an­swer the inward [...]pprehensions of the mind; th [...] there is no more room in the heart for any other thing: as if two Superfices were exactly plain and smooth, they could joyn so closly together, that no air could come between them, and then they could hardly be pull'd asunder.

We spoke something of the excellency of tha [...] [Page 27] Word of Life in himsel [...], and i [...] is [...]ut little that is said, when all is said, in re [...]pect of that which He truly is; but I fear we speak, and ye hear more of the [...]e things, then either o [...] us lively and affecti­onatly apprehends, or l [...]ys up in our hearts. I fear, that as we say lesse then is, so more then we think; I mean, se [...]iously think upon. But we shall proceed, such an eve [...]lasting glorious Person, though he have life in himself, though he be never so excellent, as the Son of God, yet what is that to us? It seems he is never a whit nearer us, or not m [...]re suitable to restore us, then th [...] very Majesty that we [...]ffended. How far is he without our sight, and without our com­prehension? He is high as Heaven, Who shall as­cend to b [...]ing down that [...]ternal life to us? But stay and co [...]side [...], tha [...] he is not only so glori­ous in himself, but so gracious to us; he is not only invisible, as God, but manifested to our senses, as Man: not only hath life in himself, but is an eve [...]lasting spring of life to us; not only hath his Throne in Heaven with his Father, but hath c [...]m [...] down to the world, to bring that e­ternal li [...]e near u [...], even in our mouth and hearts; to preach it, to purchase it, to seal it, and to bestow it, and the life was manifested: The life, and that eternal life, word [...] of force, that have some Emphasis in them: the life is much, that eternal life is more; and yet these had been little to us, if not manifested to u [...]: Life might have remained hid in God, eternal life might [Page 28] have recided in Christ the Fountain for all eter­nity, and nothing diminished of their happiness, if these had never sprung out and vented them­selves; if that life that was with the Father from the beginning, had never come down from the Father, we wo [...]ld have missed it, not they; we alone had been miserable by it: Well then, there is a manifestation of life in Christ [...] low de­scent to death; the [...]e is a manifestation of the riche [...] of love and grace in the poverty and emptinesse of our Saviour, and thus he is suited to us and our necessities every way fitly corre­spondent: and now it is not only, as the F [...]ther hath life in himself, so the Son h [...]th life in him­self, but there is a derivation of that life to man; that donation of life to the Son, Ioh. 5.26. was not so much for any need he had of it, as by him to bestow it on us, that it might b [...], as the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Fa­ther: So he that eats me, even he shall live by me, Joh. 6.57. As Parents that retain [...]ffection to their Children, albeit they have committed great injuries, for which they are driven out of their hous [...], yet they will, as it were under­hand bestow upon them, and exercise that same love in [...] covered way, by a third person, by giving to them, to impart to their Children. Notwithstanding this halts too much, for our Father dissembles not his love, but proclaim [...] it in sending his Son: Nor doth Christ hide it, but declares, that he is instructed with sufficient [Page 29] fu [...]niture for eternal life, that himself is the bread of life sent from Heaven, that whoso­ever receiveth it with delight, and ponders, and meditats on it in the heart, and so digests it in their [...]ouls, they shall find a quickning, qui­eting, comforting, and strengthning ve [...]tue in him. Nay, the [...]e is a strait connexion between his life and ours, because I live, ye shall live also; as i [...] he could no more want us, then his Father can want him, Ioh. 14.19. And as if he could no more be happy without u [...], then his Father with­out him. And whence is it come to passe, but from his manifestation for this ve [...]y end and pur­pose? How should such strange Logick hold? Whence such a because? If this had not been [...]ll his errand into the world, for which his Fa­ther dispensed to want him, as it were, and he did likewise condescend to leave his Fathe [...] for a season. And now this being the businesse he came about, it is strange h [...] appeared in so un­suitable and unlikely a form, in weaknesse, pover­ty, misery, ignominy, and all the infirmities of our flesh; which seemed rather contrary to his design, and to indispose him for giving life to others, whose life was a continued death in th [...] eyes of me [...]; and the last act of the scene seems to blow up the whole design of quickning dead sinners; when he who was designed Captain of Salvation, is killed himself: For if he save not himself, how should he save others? And yet be­ [...]old the infinit wisdome, power, and grace [...]f [Page 30] God, working unde [...]-g [...]ound, giving life to the dead, by the dea [...] o [...] life it [...]elf: saving those that are lost, by one that lost himself: over­coming the world by weaknesse: conq [...]ering Sa­tan by suffering: t [...]iump [...]ing over death by dying: L [...]ke that [...]enowned King of the Lace­demonians, who (when he heard of an Oracle, that if the Gene [...]al were sa [...]ed alive, the Army could not be victoriou [...]) changed his h [...]bit, and went amongst the Camp [...]f his enemies, and sought valiantly till he was killed; whom when the Armies of the enemies understood to be the King and General, they presently lost their hearts, and retired and fled: So our Saviour, and Cap­tain of our Salvation, hath offered himself once for all, and by being killed, hath purc [...]ased life to all that believe in hi [...] death, and that eter­nal life: Therefo [...]e, he is not only the word of life in himself, and th [...]t eternal life in an essenti­al manner, but he alone hath the words of eter­nal life, and is the alone fountain of life to us.

Now for the certainty of this manifestation of the word of life in our flesh, both that he wa [...] man, and that he was more then a man, even God: this, I say, we have the greatest evidence of, that the world can afford, next to our own seeing a [...]d handling. To begin with the testimony set down here, of thes [...] who were e [...]r and eye-w [...]tnesses of all; which if they be men of credit, cannot but make a great impression of faith upon others. Consider who the Apostles were, men of great [Page 31] simp [...]icity, whose education was so me [...]n, and expectations in the wo [...]ld so low, that they could not be supposed to conspire together to a fals­hood; and especially when there was no wo [...]ld­ly inducement leading them thereto, but rather all things pe [...]wading to the contra [...]y: their ve­ry adve [...]sa [...]ies could never object any thing a­gainst them, but want of lea [...]ning, and simplicity, which are furthest from the su [...]pition of deceit­fulnesse. Now how were it possible, think you, that so m [...]ny thousands every where, should h [...]ve received this new Doctrine, so unsuitable to hu­mane [...]eason, from their mouths, if they had not pe [...]swaded them that themselves were eye-wit­nesses of all these miracles that he did, to con­fi [...]m his Doct [...]ine, and this testimony had not been above all imaginable exception? Yea, so evident was it in matter of fact, that both ene­mies themselves confessed, the Jews and Gen­tiles that persecuted that way, were constrained through the evidence of the truth, to acknow­ledge, that such mighty works shewed forth them­selves in him, though they out of malice impu­ted it to ridiculous and blasphemous causes: And besides, the Apostle used to provoke to the very testimony of 500. who had seen Iesu [...] rise from death, which is not the custom of liars, neither is it possible for so many, as it were, of purpose, to conspire to such an untruth, as had so many miseries and calamities following on the profes­sion of it, 1 Cor. 15.6.

[Page 32]But what [...]ay they? That which we have heard of, not only from the Prophets, who have wit­nessed of him [...]om the beginning, and do [...]ll con [...]pi [...]e together to give a testimony that he i [...] the Saviour of the wo [...]ld: but from Iohn, who was his Messenger, immediatly sent before his f [...]ce, and whom all men, even Christs enemies, acknowledged to be [...] Prophet; and therefore, his visi [...]le pointing out the Lamb of God, his de­cla [...]ing how near he was, and preferring of him [...]nfinitly before himself, who had so much au­thority himself, (and so is likely to have spoken the truth; being misled with no ambition, or affectation of honour,) his instituting a new or­dinance, plainly pointing out the Messiah at the door [...], and publishing constantly that voice, The kingdom of Heaven is at hand; these we, and all the people have heard, and he [...]rd not with in­dignation, but with reverence and respect. But a­bove all, we heard himself the true Prophet, and sweet Preacher o [...] Israel, since the first day he began to open his mouth in the Ministry of the Gospel, we have with attentive ears, and earnest hearts, received all from his mouth, and laid up these golden sayings in our heart [...]: He did not constrain them to abide with him, but there w [...]s a [...]ecret power that went from him, that chained them to him inevitably, Lord, whi­ther shall we go from thee, for thou hast the words of eternal life? O! that was an attractive ver­tue, a powerful conserving vertue, that went out [Page 33] of his mouth. We heard him, say they, and we never heard any speak like him, not so much for the pomp and Majesty of his stile, for he came low, sitting on an Asse, and was as condescend­ing in his manner of [...]peech, as in his other be­haviour: but because he taught with authority: there was a divine vertue in his Preaching, some spa [...]kles of a divine spirit and power in his dis­cou [...]ses, broke out from under the plainnesse and simplicity of it; and made our souls truly to apprehend of him what was sacrilegiously at­tributed in flattery to a man, the voice of God and not of man. We heard him so many years speak familiarly to us, and with us, by which we were certainly perswaded he was a true man, and then we heard him in his speeches open the hid mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, revealing the will of the Father, which no man could know, but he that was with the Father, and came down from him: we heard him unfolding all these shadows and coverings of the Old Te­stament, expounding Moses and the Prophets, taking off the vail, and uncovering the Ark and Oracles: And how did our hearts burn within u [...], while he talked with us, and opened to u [...] the S [...]riptures? We heard him daily in the Syna­gogues expound the Scriptures, whereof him­self was the living Commentary, when he read them, we saw the true Exposition before our eyes.

Now, my beloved, you may be admitted to [Page 34] hear him too, for the sum of the living words that c [...]me [...]om the Word of Life are written; his Se [...]mons are ab [...]idged in the Evangelists, that y [...]u m [...]y read them, and when you read them, think within your se [...]f, that you hear his holy mouth speak them; S [...]t your selves as amongst hi [...] Disciple [...], th [...]t s [...] [...]u may believe, and believ­i [...]g m [...]y h [...]ve etern [...]l life; for, for this end a [...]e they written, Ioh. 20.30, 31.


1 Joh. 1.2.

—Which we have seen, &c.

THere is a gradation of certainty here, hear­ing himself speak, is more then hea [...]ing by report; but an eye-witness is better then ten ear-witnesses, and handling adds a thi [...]d assu­rance; for the sense of touching gives the last and greatest evidence of truth. It is true, that the sense is properly correspondent to sensible things, and of it self, can only give testimony to his Humanity; yet I conceive these are here al­ledged for both, even also to witnesse his glo­rious [...]nd Divine Nature▪ which though it did not [...] under sight and handling, yet it disco­vered it self to be l [...]tent, under that visible co­vering of flesh, by sensible effect [...], no lesse, then the spirit of m [...]n, which is invisible, manifests [Page 35] its p [...]e [...]ence in the body, by such operations sen­sible, as can proceed from no other principle: And the [...]e [...]o [...]e, this faithful witness adds, which we have looked upon; which relates not only to the outward attention of the eyes, but points at the inward intention, and affection of the heart: our senses did b [...]ing in such strange and marvellou [...] object [...] to our minds, that we stood gazing, and beheld it over and over again, look­ed upon it with [...]eason, concluding what it might be; we gave intertainment to our minds, to consider it wisely and deliberatly, and fastned our eyes, that we might detain our hearts, in the consideration of such a glorious person. From this then ye have two things clear; one is, that our Lord Jesus Christ was a true man, and that his Disciples had all possible evidence of it, which the History more abundantly shews; he conversed with them familiarly, he eat and drank with them, yea, his conversation in the world, was very much condescending in outward behaviour, to the customes of the wo [...]ld, he eat with Pha­risees when they invited him; he refused not; but he was more bold with Publicans and sin­ners, to conve [...]s with them; as being their greatest friend: He was uncivil to none; would deterr none through a rigid austere conversati­on; and indeed, to testifie the truth o [...] his Hu­mane Nature, he came so low to partake of all humane infirmities without sin, and to be sub­ject to extraordinary afflictions and crosses, as to [Page 36] t [...]e eyes of the world it did quite extinguish his Divine Glo [...]y, and bury i [...] in misbelief. This wh [...]h we speak of, as a testimony and evidence th [...]t he w [...]s m [...]n, was the very grand stumbling-block and [...]ffence of the Jews and Gentiles; which they made use of as an evidence and certain testimony that he was not God: the evidence of the one seems to give in evidence to the other. But let us con [...]ider this, for it is a sweet and plea­s [...]nt S [...]bject, if our hearts were suitably framed to delight in it, that there was as much evidence to the conviction of all mens senses, of his Di­vine M [...]jesty, as of his Humane Infirmity: and t [...]t there a [...]e two concu [...]ing evidences, which enlig [...]tens one another; which we shall shew, p [...]rtly [...]om his own wo [...]ks and miracles, and part­ly from the more then miraculous successe and progresse of the Gospel a [...]ter him.

For the first, Iohn testifies, that not only they saw the baseness of his outward shape, but the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth, Joh. 1.14. Iohn the Baptist sent some of hi [...] Di [...]ciple [...], bec [...]use of their own unbelie [...], to enq [...]ire Jesu [...], Art thou he, or look we for another? And what answer gave he them? What reason to convince them? Go (saith he) and tell what ye h [...]ve seen and heard, that the blind s [...]e, the l [...]m [...] w [...]lk, and the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, th [...] dead are raised, and the poor re [...]eive the G [...]spel: And blessed is he who ever sh [...]ll not for my outwa [...]d unseemlinesse, and base­nesse, [Page 37] offend; But go by that, in to the glory that shines out in such works. It is said in Luke 7.21. that the same hour he [...]ured many: Befo [...]e he spoke in answer, he answered them by his deeds; he gave a visible demonstration of that they doubted of: For they could not but see a power above created power in these work [...], which surpasse Nature and Art: so many wonderful works done, so often repeated, be [...]o [...]e so many thousands, even many of his watchful and ob­servant enemies; and all done so easily by a word, i [...]finit cures for number and quality wrought, which passed the skill of all Physitians; Devils dis­possessed, life restored, water converted into excellent wine, without the maturation of the Sun, or help of the Vine tree; a little bread so strangely enlarged to the satisfaction of many thousands, and more remaining then was laid down; the winds and seas obeying his very word, and composing themselves to silence at his re­buke; and infinit moe of this kind; Are they not in the common apprehension of men, of a degree superiour to that of nature? Who could restore life, but he that gave it? Whom would the Devils obey, but him at whom they tremble? Who could transubstantiat water into wine, but he that created both these substances, and every year by a long circuit of the operations of na­ture, turns it into wine? Who could feed seven thousand with that which a few persons would exhaust, but he that can creat it of nothing, [...]nd [Page 38] b [...] whose wo [...]d all thi [...] [...] wo [...]ld sta [...]ted out of nothing? Nay, let us suppose these thing [...] to be done only by divine assistance, by some peculiar divine infl [...]ence, then certainly, if we consider the very end of this miraculous assistance of a creature, th [...]t it was to conf [...]m the Doct [...]ine delive [...]ed by him, and make such a deep impres­sion of the t [...]uth of it in the he [...]t [...] of all, that it cannot be [...]ooted out; this being the very ge­nuine end of the wisdom of God in such works, it must need [...] follow, that all that which Christ revealed, both of himself and the Father, of his own being with him from the beginning, of his [...]eing one with him, and being hi [...] eternal Son; all this must need [...] be in [...]allibly t [...]ue; for it is not supposible to ag [...]ee with the wisdom and goodnesse of God, to manifest so much of his in­fi [...]it power and glory, in so extraordinary a man­ner, to bear testimony to an impostor or deceiv­er. The [...]efore though no mo [...]e could be at first exto [...]ted f [...]om an enemy of Ch [...]ist▪ D [...]ct [...]ine, but that such mighty works did shew forth them­selve [...], which could not be done, but by the Di­vine assistance an [...] extraordinary help of God: yet, even [...]rom that con [...]e [...]ion it may be strong­ly concluded, that seing there was no other end imagin [...]le of su [...]h ext [...]aordin [...]y assis [...]ance, but the con [...]irmation of hi [...] new Doctrine, and that of hi [...] Divine Natu [...]e, being one of the chief points of it, it must need [...] in [...]o [...]ce, that he was not only helped by God, as M [...]ses, but that he [Page 39] was God, and did these things by his own power. By this then it appears that though after so ma­ny Prophesies of him, and exp [...]ctation [...] from the beginning, we see but a man in outward appear­ance despisable, and without comlinesse and form; yet if we could open the eyes of our [...]ouls, and six them upon him, we behold as through some small crainies, Majesty shining in his misery, power discovering it self in his weaknesse, even that power that made the world, and man too: He was born indeed, yet of a Virgin, he was weak and infirm himself, yet he healed all others in­firmities, even by his word; he was often an hungred, yet he could feed five thousand at one time, and seven thousand at another, upon that which would not have served his Disciples, or but served them; He was wearied with travels, yet he gave rest to wearied souls: At length him­self died, and that an ignominious death, not­withstanding he raised the dead by his word, and at length he raiseth himself by his own power. All this is included in this, we have seen and handled; we saw him gloriously transfigured on the Mount, where his countenance did shine as the Sun, and his raiment was white as light, and two, the greatest persons in the Old Testament came out of Heaven, as it were, to yeeld up the administration of shadows to his substance: and we saw the Heaven opening in the sight of many thousands, and heard a testimony given him from Heaven, This is my beloved Son, hear him: And [Page 40] then when he wa [...] b [...]ied, and our hope with him, we saw him [...]isen again, and our hope did [...]ise with him, and then [...]ome of [...]s handled his si [...]e [...], to get [...]ull pe [...]swasion; and all of us eat and drank and c [...]nve [...]sed with him fourty dayes: and to make a pe [...]iod, at length we saw him as­cending up to Heaven, and a Cloud receiving him a [...] a Ch [...]iot, to take him out of our sight. Thu [...], th [...] W [...]rd was made fl [...]sh, and dwelt among us, and we [...]a [...]e seen his glo [...]y, as [...]f the only be­g [...]tten Son of God.

But besides that which the life and death of Jesus Christ carries ingraven in it of Divinity, there is one miracle, which may be said to transcend all that ever was done, and it is one continued wonder since his resu [...]rection, even the ve [...]tue and power of that crucified Saviour, to conquer the world, by such unsuitable, yea, con­tra [...]y mean [...] and instruments. Heathenish Reli­gion was spread indeed universally th [...]ough the wo [...]ld, but that was not one Religion, but one name; for as many Nations, as many fancied gods, and in one Nation many. And true it is, that M [...]humet [...]nism hath spread it self far; but by what mean [...]? only by the power of the sword, and the terrour of an Empire. But here is a Doctrine contrary to all the received custom [...], and imbred opinions of men, without any such means p [...]evailing throughout the world. Cyrus, when he was about to conquer neighbouring Na­tions, gave out a Proclamation, If any will fol­low [Page 41] me▪ if he be a foot-man, I will make him an horse-man, if he have a Vill [...]ge, I will give him a City, if a City, I will bestow on him a Countrey, &c. Now mark how contrary the proceeding of our Lord is: Go and preach (saith he) Re­pent ye, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Here is his Proclamation, Repent ye. And, if any man will be my Disciple, let him take up his [...]ross and follow me, and deny himself W [...]at disp [...]opor­tioned mean [...]? and yet how infinitly greater successe? Cyrus could not gain the Lacedemoni­ans to his side for all that, but Christ, though poor, despised and contemptible, while alive, and at length thought to be quite vanquished by the most shameful death, when he is lift up upon the Crosse, to the view and reproach of the world, he draws all men after him: He, by a few fisher­men, not Commanders, nor Orators, perswades the world, and within a few years that crucified Lord is adored further and wider then any Em­pire did ever stretch it self. All the power, ma­jesty, and successe of Alexander could nev [...]r per­swade the Nations, no, not his own followers to adore him as God: But h [...]re one nailed to the Crosse, Crowned with Thorns, rejected of all men, and within a little space adored, wo [...]shiped, suffered for throughout the Nations, yea, Kings and Emperours casting down thei [...] Crown [...] at his feet, many thousands counting it their honour to die upon that account. And do not the Tro­phies of these Apostolick victories remain to this [Page 42] d [...]y, in every co [...]ner of the wo [...]ld, after so many hun [...]ed yea [...], in so many different, a [...]d so far dist [...]nt N [...]tio [...]? th [...]t s [...]me N [...]me p [...]e [...]ched, [...]nd all k [...]ee [...] bo [...]in [...] to it. These things conside [...]ed, how much done, and by mean [...] wo [...]e then no­thi [...]g, it t [...]a [...]cends all the mi [...]cles th [...]t ever the world wond [...]ed at. N [...]w, my beloved, these things I m [...]nti [...]n [...]or this end, that ye may be pe [...]sw [...]ded upon sure ground [...], that he who is pre [...]c [...]ed unto you, is God able to save you, and according to the evi [...]ence of these grounds, ye may believe in him, and give that co [...]dial assent to these eve [...]lasting t [...]uths, an [...] that welcome inte [...]tainment to [...]im in your heart that be­come [...]. I think certainly there i [...] ve [...]y little even o [...] this solid assent and perswasi [...]n of the Go [...]pel in the hearts of the m [...]t p [...]t; because they t [...]k [...] things or name [...] [...]ath [...]r implicitly, and never se [...]iously consider what th [...] believe, and [...] grounds. But [...] a more pleasant or profitable meditation th [...]n this, if we would enter in a serious consid [...]ation of the truth and certainty of these thi [...]gs we have re­ceived. O how would such evid [...]nce open the he [...]rt to [...]n intire and full closu [...]e with them, and embracement of them.


1 Joh. 1.3.

That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that ye als [...] may have fellowship with us, &c.

THere are many thing [...] that you may desire to hear, and it may be are usually spoken of in publick, which the generality of mens hea [...]ts are more carried after; but t [...]uly, I should w [...]ong my self and you both, if I should take upon me to discourse in these things, which it may be some desire, for direction or informa­tion conce [...]ning the times: for I can neither speak of them with [...]o much ce [...]tainty of perswasion as were needful, nor can I think it an advantage, to shut out and exclude this which the Apostle takes to declare, as the chief subject of his writing, which must needs be, if such things have place: The [...]e [...]o [...]e I cho [...]e rather with the Apostle to declare this unto you, which I can alwayes do with alike ce [...]tainty, and certainly might alwayes [...]e done to an infinit greater advantage. Ther [...] a [...]e these two peculiar excellencies in the Go­spel, o [...] Word of life, that it is never unprofitable, nor unseasonable; but doth contain in it at all times the greatest [...]dvantage to the souls of men, of infinit more concernment and urgency, then any other thing can be supposed to be. And then we have no doubtful disputations a­bout [Page 44] it, it va [...]ie [...] not by times and circumstan­ce [...], it may be declared with the [...]a [...]e full assu­ [...]ance at all time [...], which certainly cannot be at­tained in other things▪ I w [...]ld gladly know what Paul meant, when he said, he [...]t [...]rmin [...]d to know n [...]thing but Iesus Chri [...]t, and him [...]rucified, 1 Cor. 2 2. and that he [...]unted all dresse and dung to the su [...]er-excelle [...]t knowledge of Iesus Christ, Phil▪ 3 8. Sure it must amount [...]o so m [...]ch at lea [...]t, that this should be the ordina [...]y subject [...]f the Ministers of the Gospel, since they are the Ambas [...]adours of Jesus Christ, not th [...] O [...]ators of the State. Should not all other things [...]e thought impertinent and [...]ivial in re­spect of thi [...], the salvation [...]f sinn [...]s? And what hath a connexion with that, but I [...]sus Christ, and the W [...]rd [...]f life?

But though this be the most pleasant and pro­fitable subject, yet I [...]ear, that [...]ew [...]f them who pretend a calling to thi [...] Embassage, a [...]e thus qua­lified and disposed to speak and declare it, as the Apostle imports, that which we have heard and seen, &c. It is true, there was something ex­traordinary in this, because they were to be the first publishers of this Doctrine, [...]nd to wrestle against the rebellion of mens heart [...], and the ido­latry and superstition of the world: yea, to un­dertake such a work, as to subdue all Nations by preaching of a crucified man to them, which seem­ed to reason, the most desperat and impossible imployment ever given or taken: therefore it [Page 45] behoved them to be t [...]e eye and ear-witnesses of his Doct [...]ine, Life, Miracles, and all; that being themselves perswaded beyond all the de­grees of ce [...]tainty that reason c [...]n afford, they might be the more confident and able to con­vince and perswade others. But yet there is something that hold [...] by good proportion, that h [...] that de [...]lare [...] this ete [...]nal life to others, should be well acquainted with it himself; He that preaches Jesus Christ, should fi [...]st be conve [...]sant with him, and become his Disciple and follow­er, befo [...]e they can with any f [...]uit become Teach­e [...]s of others. Therefore the Apostles, Act. 1. Chooseth out one that had been with them from the beginning, gone in and out with them, seen and heard all. O! How incong [...]uous is it for many of us to take upon us to declare this unto o­thers, which I fear, few can say they have heard and seen in a spiritual manner, and handled by expe [...]ience? No question, it prevails usually most with the heart, that comes from the heart: Affection is the fire that is most suitabl [...] to set [...]ffection on flame. It is a great addition to a mans power and vertue of perswading others, to have a full perswasion settled in his own heart conce [...]ning these things. Now it is much to be lamented that there is so little of this, and so few ca [...]ies the evidence on their hearts and wayes, that th [...]y have been with Jesus, co [...]ver­sant in his company. I cannot say, but the Or­dinances, that carry their wo [...]th and dignity from [Page 46] God, and not [...]om men, should be notw [...]n­ding p [...]ecious to your hea [...]ts; an [...] tha [...] W [...]rd of life however, and by whomsoever sent, to you it be spoken, it should be suitably [...]eceived with gladnesse of heart. B [...]t I confes [...], the [...]e i [...] much of the success disappointed, by the unsuitable car [...]iage and disposition of i [...]struments, which ought to be mou [...]ned under, a [...] the g [...]eatest judgment of this Nation.

Two p [...]inciples hath acted this Divine Apostle; the exceeding love of his Master, for he loved much, as he was much beloved, and this ca [...]ies him on all occasions to give so hea [...]ty a testimo­ny to him, as you see, I [...]h. 21.2 [...]. he characte­ [...]zeth himself, or ci [...]c [...]ms [...]ribe [...] hi [...] own name thu [...]; This is the Dis [...]i [...]le that testifieth these things, and wrote these things, and we know his te­stimony is tru [...]. Where that divine love, which is but the [...]esult and ove [...] flowing of the love Ch [...]ist car [...]ies to u [...], fills the hea [...]t: this makes the sweetest vent, and most f [...]ag [...]nt opening [...]f the mouth, whether in Di [...]course, or in Prayer, or Preaching that can be. O how it perfumes all the commendation of Ch [...]ist: Peter, lovest thou me, feed my sheep. These have a natu [...]al connexion together, the love of Christ in the heart, and the aff [...]ctionat hearty se [...]iou [...] declara­tion of him to othe [...]. An [...] then, another prin­ciple hath moved him, the love of others salva­tion. These things I de [...]lare, that ye may h [...]ve fel­lowship with us; finding in his own experience [Page 47] how happy he was, what a Pea [...]l he had found, how ra [...]e a Jewel, eternal life, he cannot hide it, but proclaims it: His next wish is, Now since I am thus blessed, O that all the wo [...]ld knew, and would come and share with me; I see that unexhausted fountain of life, that unempty­able sea of goodnesse, that infinite fulnesse of grace in Jesus Ch [...]ist, that I▪ and you, and all that will, may c [...]me and be satisfied, and nothing di­minished. There is that immense fulnesse in spi­ritual things, that sup [...]abundance, and infinit excesse over our necessities, that they may be en­joyed by many, by all, without envy or discon­tent, without prejudice to one anothers fulness; which the ska [...]nesse and meann [...]sse of created things cannot admit. I believe, if Ministers or Christian [...] did taste of this, and had accesse into it to see it, and bl [...]sse themselves in it, if they might enter into this t [...]easury, or converse into this company, they would henceforth carry them­selves as those who pity the world, and compa [...] ­sionat mankind. A man that we [...]e acquainted with this that is in Christ, would not find his heart easily stirred up to envy, or provoked upon o­thers prosperity or exaltation, but rather he would be constrained to commiserat all others, that they will not know nor consi [...]er wherein their own true [...]anquility and absolute sati [...]fa­ction consists. He that is lifted up to this bles­sed society, to conve [...]se with God, were it not for the compassion and mercy he owes to mise­rable [Page 48] mankind, he might laugh at the [...]ollie [...] and vanitie [...] of t [...]e world, as we do a [...] children. But as the [...], the affectionat kind love our Saviour carried to humane nature, made him of­ten g [...]o [...]n and sigh for his adversaries, and weep over Ierusalem, [...]lbeit his own joy was full with­out [...]: So in some measure a Christian learns of Christ to be a lover and pitier of mankind, and then to be most moved with compassion to­wa [...]ds others, when we have fullest joy and satis­faction our selves. O that we might be perswa­ded to seek after these things which may be got­ten and kept without clamour and contention, about which there needs be no s [...]ife nor envy. O, seek that happinesse in fellowship with God, which h [...]ving attained, you [...]ack nothing but that other [...] may be a [...] happy.

These things I de [...]lare, th [...]t [...]e m [...]y have fellow­ship with us. O [...]! that Minister [...] of the Gospel might [...]ay so, an [...] might f [...]om their own expe [...]i­ence invite others to p [...]ake with them, as Paul req [...]ests othe [...]s to be [...]ollowe [...] of him, a [...] he was of Ch [...]ist; so these w [...]o suc [...]ed Paul in thi [...] em­bassage of recon [...]il [...]tion, and a [...]e sent to call to the feast, might upon good g [...]ound inte [...]pose their own experience thu [...], O come and eat wi [...]h us, O come and sh [...]e with u [...], for it will suffice us all without division. W [...]en some get into the savour of great and eminent persons, and have the honour to be their companion [...], they will be very loath to invite pro [...]c [...]ously others to [Page 49] that dignity, this society would beget compe­tition and emulation. But, O! of how different a nature is this fellowship? which whosoever i [...] ex [...]lted to, he hath no other grief, but that hi [...] poor brethren [...]nd fellow-creatures either know not, or will not be so happy: therefore he will alwayes be about the declaring of this to others. But if Ministers cannot use such an expression to invite you to their fellowship, yet I beseech you, beloved in the Lord, let all of us be here invi­ted by the Apostle to partake of that, which will not g [...]ieve you to have fellows and companion [...] into, but rather [...]dd to your contentment.

Moreover, th [...]s may be represented to you, that ye are invited to the very communion with the Apostles, the lowest and meanest amongst you hath this high dignity in your offer, to be fellow-citizens with the Saints, with the eminent pillars of the Church, the Apostles.

It might be thought by the most part of Chri­stians who are more obscure, little known, and almost despised in the world, that they might not have so near accesse into the Court of thi [...] great King: Some would think these who con­tinued with him in his temptations, who waited on his own person, and were made such glor [...] ­ous instruments of the renovation of the world, should have some great preference to all others, and be admitted into the fellowship of the [...]a­ther and the Son, beyond other [...]; even a [...] many would think, that Christs Mother and Kinsmen [Page 50] in the flesh, [...]hould have had prerogatives and pri­viledges beyond all his followe [...]s. But O the wonde [...]ful mystery of the equal, free, and ir [...]e­spective conveyance of this grace of the Gospel in Ch [...]ist Jesus! Neither bond nor free, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision. The [...] is [...]ne common salvation, Jude v. 3. as well as common faith, Tit. 1.4. and it is common to Apostles, to Pastors, to People, to as many as shall believe in his Name; so that the poo [...]est and meanest creature is not excluded from the highest privi­ledges of Apostles. We have that to glory in­to, in which Paul glo [...]ied, that is, the Cross of Christ: we have the same access, by the same Spi­rit, unto the Father, we have the same Advocat to plead for us, the same blood to cry for us, the same hope of the same inheritance; in a word, we are baptized into one body, and for the essen­tials and chief substantials of priviledge and comfort, the Head equally respects all the Mem­ber [...]. Yea, the Apostles, though they had some peculiar gifts and priviledges beyond others, yet they were forbidden to rejoyce in these, but ra­ther in these which were common to them with other Saints, Rejoyce not (saith Christ) that the [...]pirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoyce be­cause your names are written in heaven, Luk. 10.20. The hight [...]nd depth of this drowns [...]ll other differences.

Now, my beloved, what can be more said for our comfort? Would you be as happy as Iohn, [Page 51] as blessed as Paul? Would you think your selves well, if it were possible, to be in as near relati­on and communion with Christ as his Mother and Brethren? Truly, that is not only possible, but it is holden out to you, and you are requested to imbrace the offer, and come and share with them. He that beareth my words and doth them, the same is my mother, and sister, and brother: You shall be as dear to him as his dearest relation [...], if you believe in him, and receive his sayings in your heart. Do not then intertain jealous and suspicious thoughts, because you are not like A­postles, or such holy men as are recorded in Scri­pture? If you forsake not your own mercy, you may have fellowship with them in that which they account their chiefest happinesse; there i [...] no difference of quality or condition, no distance of other things, can hinder your communion with them; there are several sizes and growths of Christians, both in light and grace, some have extraordinary raptures and extasies of joy and sweetness; others attain not to that, but are ra­ther kept in attendance and waiting on God in his wayes; but [...]ll of them have one common salvation, as the highest have some fellowship with the lowest in his infirmities, so the lowes [...] hath fellowship with the highest in his privi­ledges. Such is the infinit goodnesse of God, that which is absolutely necessary, and most im­portant either to soul or body, i [...] made mor [...] universal, both in nature and grace, as the com­mon [Page 52] light of the Sun to all, and the Sun of Righ­teousnesse too, in an impartial way, shining on all them that come to him.


1 Joh. 1.3.

—And truly our fellowship is with the Father and the Son, &c.

IT was both the great wisdome and infinit good­nesse of God, that he did not only f [...]ame a creature capable of society with others of his own kind, but that he fashioned him so, as to be capable of so high an elevation, to have com­munion and fellowship with himself; it is lesse wonder of Angels, b [...]cause they a [...]e pure incor­poreal Spirits, drawing towards a nearer likeness to his nature, which similitude is the ground of [...]ommunion; but that he would have one of the material and visible creatures below, that for the one half is made of the dust of the earth, [...]dvanced to this unconceivable hight of privi­ledge, to have fellowship with him; this is a greater wonder: and for this end he breathed into man a spirit from Heaven, that might be capable of conformity and communion with him, who is the Father of spirits. Now take this in the plainest apprehension of it, and you cannot but conceive that this is both the honour and [Page 53] happinesse of man: It is honour and dignity, I say, because the nature of that consists in the applause and estimation of those that are worthy, testified one way or another, and the highest de­grees of it rise according to the degree or dig­nity of the persons that esteem us, or give us their fellowship and favour. Now truly, accor­ding to this rule, the honour is incomparable, [...]nd the credit riseth infinitly above all the airy [...]nd fancied dignities of men; for the Foot-stool to be elevated up to the Throne, for the poor contemptible creature to be lifted up to the so­ciety and friendship of the most high and glori­ous God, the only fountain of all the Hierar­chies of Heaven, or degrees upon Earth▪ so much as the distance is between God and us, so much proportionably must the dignity rise, to be advanced out of this low estate to fellowship with God; the distance between creatures is not observable in regard of this, and yet poor worms swell, if either they be lifted up a little above others, or advanced to familiarity with these that are above them. But what is it to pride our selves in these thing [...]? when we [...]re al­together higher and lower at one view, as grass­hoppers in his sight; therefore man being in honour, and understanding not, wherein his true honour and dignity consists, he associats himself to beasts; only the soul, that is aspiring to thi [...] communion with God, is extracted out of the dregs of beastly mankind, and is elevated above [Page 54] mankind, and associated to blessed Apostles, and holy Angels, and Spirits made perfect: and that were but little, though it be a honour above Regal or Imperial dignities, but it is infinitly hightned by this, that their association is with God, the blessed and holy Trinity.

Now herein consists mans happinesse too, for the soul being inlarged in its capacity and appe­tite, far beyond all visible things, it is never ful­ly satiated or put to rest and quiet, till it be possessed with the chiefest and most unive [...]sal good, that is, God; and then all the motions of desires cease, then the soul rests from its labours, then there is a peace and eternal rest proclaimed in the desires of the soul, Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with me, Psal. 116.7. O! what a poor short requiem do men sing to their own hearts from other en­joyments? Oftentimes mens hearts, whether dreaming or waking, speak in this manner, Soul take thy rest ▪ but how ill grounded is that peace, and how false a rest, daily experience in part wit­nesseth, and the last day will fully declare? But, O! how much better and wiser were it for you, to seek the favour and light of his countenance upon you, and to be united to him who is the fountain of life, so ye might truly, without hazard of such a sad reprehension as that fool got, or grievous disappointment, say, Soul take thy rest in God.

Man was advanced to this dignity and happi­nesse, [Page 55] but he kept not his station, for that great Dragon falling down from that pinacle of ho­nour he had in Heaven, drew down with him the third part of the stars of Heaven, and cast them to the earth: and thus, man who was in honour, is now associated with, and made like to beasts, or devils, he is a stranger to God from the womb, all the imagination [...] of his heart tend to distance from God, he is exiled and banished from Gods presence, the type whereof was his being driven out of the Garden, and yet he is not long out, nor far away, when the infinit love of God moves an Embassage to send after him, and to recall him; many messengers are sent before-hand to prepare the way, and to dispose mens hearts to peace; many prophesies were, and fore-intima­tions of that great Embassage of love, which at length appeared; for God sent his Son, his own Son, to take away the difference, and make up the distance. And this is the thing that is de­clared unto us by these eye and ear-witnesses, to this end that we may know how to return to that blessed society which we had forsaken, to our own eternal prejudice. Is man banished out of the Paradise of God into the accursed earth? Then the Son is sent out from his own Pallace and th [...] Paradise above, to come into this world, and to save the world. Is there such a gulf be­tween us and Heaven? Christ hath put his own body between, to fill it up. Do the Cherubims watch with flaming fire to keep us from life? [Page 56] Then the Son hath shed his own blood in abun­dance, to quench that fi [...]e, and so to pacify and compose all in Heaven and Earth. Is there such odds [...]nd enmity between the families of Heaven and Earth? He sent his Son the chief heir, and mar­ried him with our nature, and in that eternal marriage of our nature with him, he hath buri­ed in everlasting oblivion all the difference, and opened a way for a nearer and dearer friendship with God then was before. And whence was it, I pray you, that God dwelt among men? First in a Tabernacle, then in a fixed Temple, even among the rebellious sons of men; and that so many were admitted and advanced again to com­munion with God; Abraham had the hono [...]r to be the friend of God, (O incomparable title! comprehending more then King or Emperour) Was it not all from this, the anticipating vertue of that uniting and peace-making sacrifice? It was for his sake who was to come, and in his flesh to lay a sure foundation for eternal peace and friendship between God and man.

Now you see the ground of our restitution to that primitive fellowship with God, my earnest desire is that ye would lay hold on this op­portunity. Is such an high thing in your of [...]er? yea, are you earnestly invited to it by the Father and the Son? then sure it might at the first hearing beget some inward desire, and kindl [...] up some holy ambition after such a happinesse. Before we know further what is in it, (for the [Page 57] very fi [...]st sound of it imports some special and in­comparable priviledge) might not our hearts be inflamed, and ought we not to enquire at our own hearts, and speak thus unto them, Have I lived so long a stranger to God the fountain of my life? Am I so far bewitched with the d [...] ­ceitful vanities of the world, as not to think it incomparably better, to rise up above all crea­ted things, to communicat with the Father and the Son? And shall I go hence without God and without Ch [...]ist, when fellowship with them is daily, freely, and plentifully holden forth? I be­seech you consider where it must begin, and what must be laid down for the foundation of this communion, even your union with Jesus Chri [...] the Mediator between God and man; and you cannot be one with him, but by forsaking your selves, and believing in him; and thence flow [...] that constant abode and dwelling in him, which is the mutual intertainment of Christ and [...] soul, after their meeting together Can two walk together except they be agreed? We are by nature enemies to God; Now ce [...]tainly recon­ciliation and agreement must inter [...]een by the blood of the Cross, before any friendly and fa­miliar society be kept. Let this then be your first study, and it is first declared in the Gospel, Jesus Christ is holden out as partaking with you in all your infirmities, he is represented as hav­ing fellowship with us in our sins and curses, in our afflictions and crosses, he hath fellowship in [Page 58] our nature to bear our sins and infirmities. Now since he hath partaken in these, you are invited to come and have fellowship with him in his gifts and graces, in the precious merits of his death and [...]uffering, in his [...]ising again and returning to glory. And this is the exchange he makes and declares in the Gospel, I have taken your sins [...]nd cu [...]ses, O come and take my graces, and that which is purchased by my blood. Now this is the first beginning of [...] souls renewed fellowship with God, and it is the foundation of all that is to come, to imbrace this offer, to accept him cordially as he is presented, and to pacifie and quiet our own hearts by saith in that he hath done. And this being once laid down [...]s the ground-stone, the soul will grow up into more communion with him.

To speak aright of this communion, would re­quire more acquaintance with it, then readily will be found amongst us: but it is more easie to understand in what it is exercised and inter­tained, then to bring up our hearts unto it. Certainly it must neither be taken so low and wide, as if it consisted all in these external du­ties, and approaches of men to God; for there is nothing capable of communion with the Fa­ther of spirits, but a Spirit; and sure I am, the most part of us removes them, and acts little that way. It is a lamentable thing that men pre­tend to please God with such vain empty shows, [...]nd bodily appearances, without any serious ex­ercise [Page 59] of their souls, and attention of their minds in divine worship. Neither yet must it be taken so high, and made so narrow, a [...] if it consisted only in these ravishments of the soul af­ter God, which are joyned with extraordinary sweetnesse and joy, or in such rare pieces of ac­cesse and liberty; for though that be a part of it, yet is it neither universal to all Gods chil­dren, nor yet constant in any. The [...]e may be some solid serious attendance on God in his Or­dinances, which may have more true substantial life in it, and more of the marrow of Christia­nity in it, though a soul should not be acquain­ted with these [...]aptures, nor ever carried with­out the Line of an equal walking with God. Therefore that which I would exhort you to, i [...] to acquaint your selves with Iesus Christ, and you shall find a new way opened in him, by which you may boldly com [...] to God, and having come to God in him, you are called to walk with him, to intertain that acquaintance that is made, till all the distance and estrangednesse of your heart [...] be worn out. And I know not any thing which is more apt either to beget, or preserve this fel­lowship, then the communication of your spi­rits often with him in prayer, [...]nd with his word in meditation, and this is not to be discharged as a custome, but the love of God within, draw­ing the heart willingly towards communication with him, and constraining to pour out your re­quests to him, and wait on him, even though [Page 60] ye should not find that sensible sweetnesse that sometimes is found. It were an happy advance­ment in thi [...] fellowship, if converse with God, whether in prayer and solemn retirements, or in meditation, or in our ordinary walking, were become the delight of our hearts, at least that they might be carried that way towards the in­tertaining the thoughts of his Majesty, his Glory, and Grace, and Goodness, and Wisdome shining every where, as from a natural instinct, even when we are not ingaged with the present allure­ments of that sweetnesse that sometimes accom­panies it.


1 Joh. 1.3.

— And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Iesu [...] Christ.

Vers. 4.

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

IT was sin that did f [...]rst break off that fellow­ship that was between God and man, and cut off that blessed society, in which the honour and happinesse of man consisted; but that fun­damental bond being loosed, it hath likewise un­tyed all the links of society of men among them­selves, [Page 61] and made such a general dispersion and dissipation of mankind, that they are almost like wild beasts, raging up and down; and in this, wilder then beasts, that they devour one ano­ther, which beasts do not in their own kind; and they are like fishes of the Sea, without rule and government. Though there be some rem­nants of a sociable inclination in all men, that shews it self in their combinings in societies, and erecting governments; yet generally that which is the true bond and ligament of men, which a­lone can truly knit them together, is broken, that is love, the love of God and our neighbours; And therefore notwithstanding of [...]ll the means used to reduce, and to contain mankind in order and harmony by government; yet there are no­thing but continual rents, distractions, dissipati­ons, divisions, and dissolutions in Common­wealths amongst themselves, and between Nati­ons; so that all men may be represented as Li­ons, Tigers, Wolves, Serpents, and such like unsociable creatures, till the Gospel come to tame and subdue them, as it is often holden out in the Prophets, Isai. 2.4. and 11.6, 7, 8. and 65.25.

Now indeed you have here the express end and purpose of the Gospel, to make up these two great breaches in the creature, between God and men, and between men and men. It is a Gospel of peace; where ever it takes hold of mens spirits, it reduceth all to a peaceable temper, joyns them to God, [...]nd one to another: for the ve­ry [Page 62] sum and substance of it is the love of God to mankind, and proposed for this end, to engage the love of man again; and love is the glew, the cement that alone will conjoyn hearts unto this fellowship. It is a strange thing, and much to be lamented, that Christendome should be a field of blood, an Aceldama, beyond other places of the world: that where the Gospel is preten­ded to be received, that men have so far put off even humanity, as thus to bite and devour one another. Certainly it is, because where it is preached it is n [...]t believed: therefore sin taketh occasion by it to become the more sinful; alwayes let us take heed to this, that it is the great pur­pose and grand design of the Gospel preached to u [...], to restor [...] us to a blessed society and fellow­ship with the Father, and withal, to a sweet fellowship amongst our selv [...]s; for both you see are here.

We are called to fellowship with the Father, [...]nd what is that? but to have the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ thy Father, and thou to be his son by adoption of grace: It is certainly the very marrow and extract of the whole Cove­nan [...], and all the promises thereof, I will be your Father, and ye shall be my sons and daugh­ters, saith the Lord Almighty, 2 Cor. 6.18. I go (saith Christ) to your Father and my Father, and to your God and my God. O what a sweet complication and interchange of relations, Iob. 20.17.

[Page 63] I will be your God, and ye shall be my people, he [...]e is the Epitome of all [...]appinesse and felici­ty; In this word all i [...] inclo [...]ed, and without this, nothing is to be found that deserves the desires of an immortal spirit: For hence it fol­lows, that a soul is filled with the all-fulnesse of God, Eph. 3.19. for that is made over to thee who believes the Gospel, and thou hast as real a right and title to it, as men have to their f [...] ­thers inheritance. Then to have fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, is [...]nother branch of this dignity, and this is that which introduceth the other, Christ is the middle person, the Media­tor between God and man, given for this end, to recover men from their woful dispersion, and separation from God, and reduce them [...]gain to that blessed society: and therefore our acquain­tance, as it were, first begins with him, and by him we are led to the Father, No man can come to the Father but by the Son: Therefore, if you have his friendship, you have done the busines [...], for he and his Father is one.

Now this fellowship, to branch it forth mor [...] particularly, is either real, or personal: Real, I mean, [...] Bonorum, a communion of all good things, a communion with him in his Na­ture, Offices, and Benefits, and thi [...] must be laid down as the foundation-stone of thi [...] fello [...] ­ship, he came near us, to partake of flesh and blood with us, that we might have a way, [...] ne [...] and living way consecrated, even the vail of his [Page 64] flesh, to come to God by; for certainly this gives boldnesse to a soul to draw near to God, with some expectation of successe and acceptation, when it is seriously considered, that our nature is so nearly conjoyned already to God; by this step a soul climbs up to the Majesty of God, and by means of this, we become partakers of the Divine Nature,, as God of Humane Nature, 2 Pet. 1.4. So by the same degrees we ascend to God, that God hath descended to us; he drew near us by our nature, and we by the inter­vention of that same ascend to him, and receive his image and stamp on our souls: for the Lord did stamp his own image upon Christs Humane N [...]ture, to make it a pattern to us, and to re­present to us, as in a visible symbole and pledge, what impression he would put upon us: Then we have fellowship with him in his Offices, I need not branch them out severally, you k [...]ow what he was anointed for, to be a Priest ▪ to of­f [...]r s [...]crifice, and reconcile u [...] to God, an [...] [...]o make intercession for u [...]; to be [...] King, [...]o ru [...] us by his Word and Spirit, and defend u [...] [...]g [...]inst our enemies▪ to be [...] Prophet, to r [...]veal [...]he will of God to u [...], [...] instruct us in [...] same. He [...]e [...]s [...] large field o [...] fellowship, we h [...]ve [...]dmit [...] an [...] [...] by faith in Jesus Christ, to th [...] real [...]dva [...]tage [...]nd benefit of [...]ll these▪ there i [...] nothing in them but it r [...]late [...] to us, [...]nd [...]edou [...]ds to us, the living ver [...]ue of that sacrifice, i [...] as fresh and recent this day, to send up [...] favour of rest [...]o [Page 65] Heaven, and to pacifie a troubled conscience, as the first day it was offered: That perfect sacri­fice is as available to thy soul, as if thou had of­fered it thy self, and this day ye have the bene­fite of his prayers in Heaven, we partake of the strong cryes and tears in the days of his flesh, and of intercession since, more then of our own sup­plications. What shall I say? ye have one to teach you all things that is needful for you; one to subdue your sins under you; and by vertue of fellowship with Jesus Christ in these Offices, there is something derived from it, and commu­nicated to us by it, that we should be Kings and Priests to God our Father; Kings to rule over our own s [...]i [...]it [...] and lusts, in as [...]ar as grace reigns in us to eternal life, and that is truly a heroick royal spirit, that overcomes himself and the world; and Priests, to offer unto God continually the sacrifice of prayer and praises, 1 Pet. 1.3, 4, 5. which are sweet smelling and pleasant in his fight; yea, we should offer up our own bodies a [...] a reasonable service, Rom. 12.1. and this is a holy [...]nd living sacrifice, when we dedicat and consecrat all our faculties, members, and abili­tie [...] to his will and service; and do not spare to kill our lust [...], which are his and our enemies.

Let us sum up [...]ll in this, whatsoever grace or gift is in Christ Jesus, whatsoever preheminence he hath above Angels and men; whatsoever he purch [...]sed, he purchased by his obedient life, and patience in death, there i [...] nothing of all [Page 66] that, but the soul may be admitted to fellow­ship in it, by its union with him by [...]aith; have him, and have all that he hath: Faith mak [...]s him [...]ours, and all that he hath is a consequential ap­pendix to himself: the Word of the Gospel of­fers him freely to you, with all his benefits, in­terests, and advantages, O that our hearts may be induced to open to him.

N [...]w being thus united to Jesus Christ, that which I would pe [...]swade next to, is a personal communion, that is, a suitable intertainment of him, a conjunction of your soul to him by love, and a conspiracy of all your endeavours hence­forth to please him: It is certain, that true frien [...]ship is founded on a conjunction and har­mony of souls by affection, by which they cease to b [...] two, and becomes in a manner one; for love makes [...] kind of transport of the soul into another, and then all particul [...]r and proper in­terests are drowned in oblivion, no more mine and thine, but he makes an interchange, mine th [...]ne, and thine mine, my heart thine, and thy honour mine. Now certain it is, that in this God hath given us a rare pattern, and leads the way; for he declare [...] hi [...] love to the world, in the rarest effects of [...]t, which give the clearest demonstra­tions possible; God so loved the world, that he sent his Son: And you have the most in [...]allible argument of the Sons love, greater love hath no m [...]n th [...]n this, to lay down his life for his friends, but h [...] for his enemies. Now then, you see how [Page 67] the heart of God and his Son Jesus Christ is fix­ed from everlasting on the sons of men so unal­terably, and so fully set towards them, that it hath t [...]ansported the Son out of his own glory, and brought him down in the state of a servant. But it is not yet known what particular persons are thus fixed upon, untill that everlasting love break out from under ground, in the ingage­ment of thy souls love to him, and till he have fastned this chain, and set this seal on thy heart, which makes thee impatient to want him: thou knowest not the seal that was on his heart from ete [...]nity. But now the love of a believer being the result of his love, this is it that is the source and spring of constant communion: and it vents it self in converse with God, and daily intertain­ment of him in our spirits and wayes; There is a keeping of company with him in prayer and me­ditation, and all the Ordinances; there is a communication and familiar conference of the heart with him, either in thinking on him, or pouring out our requests to him; there is a mu­tual and daily intercourse and correspondence of that soul with God, in answering his word by obedience, in praying to him, and receiving an­swers from him, and then returning his answer again with a letter of thanks [...]nd praise, as it were; these are the wayes to increase that love of God, and kindle it up to a higher flame; and it being thus increased, it gathers in all the in­deavours and abilities of the soul, and sets all [Page 68] on fire, as a sweet [...]melling sacrifice to plea [...]e him: It is henceforth the great study of the soul, to remove all things that are offensive to him; for the intertaining of sin, his enemy, is most incon­sistent with this true fellowship and friendship: If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me, Psal. 66.18. This will ma [...]r that sweet correspondence in prayer and praises; for it is a breach of peace and Covenant, to regard and maintain his enemies; therefore the [...]oul that loves God, will study to compose it sel [...] in all things to his good pleasure, as well as his love that is strong as death, puts him upon a careful watching, to do all things for our profite; and so this takes in our whole carriage and walking in religious approaches, or in common b [...]sines [...]es, to have this as our great design, Conversing with God, and walking to all w [...]ll-pleasing.

Now if we were once enrolled in this blessed fellowship with the Father and the Son, then it follows as a fruit and result of thi [...], that we should have fellowship one with another, and truly the more unity with God, the more unity amongst our selves; for he is the uniting, ce­menting principle: he is the Cen [...]er of all Chri­stian [...], and as Line [...], the furthe [...] they are from the Center, the farrer distant they are one from another; so the distance and elongation of souls from God, sets them at furthest distance amongst themselves: The nearer we come every one to Jesus Christ, the nearer we joyn in [...]ffection one [Page 69] to anot [...]er: and this i [...] imported in that of Ch [...]ist [...] Prayer, That they may be one in us, Joh. 17 21, 22▪ No unity but in that one Lord, and [...] perfect unity but in a perfect union with him. I would exhort to study this more, to have fel­lowship one with another, as member [...] of the same body, by sympathy, by mutual helping one another in spiritual and temporal things: Even amongst Christians that live obscurely in [...] City, in a Village, there is not that harmoni­ou [...] agreement and consent of hearts, that con­tention and plea of love, of gentlenesse, and for­bearance, who shall exercise most of that; but there are many jealousies, heart-burnings, g [...]udg­ [...]ngs, st [...]fes, evil speakings, &c. to the stum­bling of others, and the weakning of your selves, which certainly argue that ye are much ca [...]nal, and walk as men, and that the love of God, and fellowship with him is waxed cold, and is lan­guished and dead, &c.


1 Joh. [...].4.

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

ALL motions tend to rest and quietnesse, we see it daily in the motions below, and we believe it also of the circular revolutions of the [Page 70] Heavens above, that the [...]e is a day coming in which they shall cease, as having performed all they were appointed for; And as it is in things natural, so it is in things rational in a more emi­nent way, their desire [...], affections, and actions, which are the motions, and stretches of the soul towards that it desires, and apprehends as good, tends of their own nature, and are directed by the very intention of the soul, to some rest and tranquillity, some joy and contentation of spirit. If other things that have no knowledge, have their center of rest, how much more must man, who is an understanding c [...]eature, have it by the ordination and appointment of God? But there is this wide difference in the point of capacity of happinesse, between man and other creatures, that they, whatsoever excellent vertues or pro­perties they have, yet know them not them­selves, and so can neither enjoy what excellency themselves have, nor have use of what is in o­thers; for, to what purpose is it to shine forth, if there be no eye to see? What advantage hath [...]he Rose in its fragrancy, if it cannot smell it self? That which is not perceived, is as if it were not. And therefore it is an evident testimony that all these visible things were created, not for themselves, but for mans sake who knows them, can use them, and enjoy them: here is then the peculiar capacity that God hath given to man, to discern and know what he seeks, what he hath, [...]nd possesses, that so he may be able to enjoy it, [Page 71] or use it, according to the nature of it. This is a great point of Gods Image, and conformity with him, whose infinit blessednesse and joy [...]iseth from that pe [...]fect comprehension, and in­tuitive beholding of himself, and his own incom­prehensible riches; So then, mans happiness or mise [...]y must depend upon this, both wh [...]t the soul fixeth upon, and what it apprehendeth to be in it; for, if that eternal and universal good, the all-fulnesse of God, be the center of the soul [...] desires and endeavours, and there be apprehen­ded and discovered in God, that infinit excel­lency, and variety of delights, which nothing else can afford so much as a shadow of, then, there cannot but result from such a conjunction of the souls [...]prehension, suitable to the fulnesse of God, [...]nd of the excellency and goodnesse of God, suitable to the desires of the soul, such a rest and tran­quillity, such joy and satisfaction, as cannot choose but make the soul infinitly happier then the en­joyment of any other thing could do.

This being the thing then, which all me [...]s desires naturally tend unto, this tranquillity and perfect satisfaction of the heart, being th [...]t which car­ries all mens hearts after it, and that which men seek for it self, and which they seek in all oth [...]r things; the great misery of man is, that he mistakes the way to it, and seeks it where it is not to be found. The generality of men, are so far degenerated both from the impression of a di­vine Majesty, and the sense of an immortal be­ing [Page 72] within themse [...]ves, that they imagine to content, and ea [...]e their own hearts, in these out­ward, uncon [...]tant, perishing things, and so their life i [...] spent in catching at shadows, in [...]eeding on the wind, in labouring in the fire. There is no­thing so plentifully satisfies our expectation [...], as can quite the cost, and recompence the expences o [...] our labour, toil, grie [...], and travel about it; there is nothing therefore but a continual, rest­lesse agitation of the heart, from one thing to [...]nother, and that in a round circling about, from one thing that now displeases or disap­point [...], to thing [...] that were formerly loathed; as a sick man tu [...]ns him from one side to [...]nother, or changes bed [...] often, and at length retu [...]ns, expecting to find some ease where he lay at first. And it may be judged, that all circular motions are eternal, and so they can never be supposed to attain their end, that is rest and tranquillity; therefore a soul thus carried in a round, by the vain imaginations of his heart, is likely never to settle and find solid rest and peace. Nay, how is it possible that they c [...]n give that tranquillity and contentation to the heart and soul of man, that are so utterly in their natures disproportioned to it? both because they are only suited to the senses, and likewise, for that they are change­able. Now the soul is framed with a higher ca­pacity, and can no more be satiated with visible things, then a man that is hungry can be satisfied with gold; and besides, it is immortal, and must [Page 73] have something to survive all the changes of time, and therefore is likely to rest no where but in that which hath eternal stability. Now though these things cannot truly fill the heart, yet they swell the belly, like the east wind, or like the prodigals husks, fill it with wind, which causeth many torments and distempers in the soul; and though they cannot give ease, yet they may be as thorns to prick and pierce a man through with many sorrows, as our Saviour speaks: so that there is no more wisdom or gain in this, then in gathering an armfull of thorns, and in­closing and preassing hard unto them, the more hardly and strongly we grip them, the more griev­ously they pierce us; or as if a man would fle [...] into a hedge of thorns in a tempest, the further he thrust into it, he is the wor [...] pricked; and that which he is fallen into, is worse then that he fleeth from. I am sure all your experiences giv [...] [...] harmonious testimony to this, that there is no solid, permanent, constant, and equable heart-joy and contentation in all the f [...]ncied and ima­ginary felicities that this world adores. There is nothing of these things, that is not lesser, and lower in actual possession, nor in the first appre­hension of them affar off. Nothing in them an­swers either our desires or expectations; and therefore, in stead of peace and tranquillity, they breed more inward torment and disquiet, be­cause of that nec [...]ssary and inevitable disappoint­ment that [...]ttends them. Therefore th [...] Apostl [...] [Page 74] passeth all these things in silence, when he is to wri [...]e of purpose, to give a fulnesse of joy; for he know [...] that in them there is neither that joy, nor that fulnesse of joy he would wish for them; but it is other things he writes for this end.

Now indeed there hath been some wiser then others, that have their apprehension far above the rest of mankind, and have laboured to frame some rules and precepts to lead man into this true rest and tr [...]nquillity. And truly, in this they have done much to discover the vanity and madnesse of the common practice of men; and to draw man from sensible and outward thing [...], to things invisible and spiritual; yet there is a defectivenesse in all the rules that natural reason can reach unto; there is some crookedness with­all adhere [...] to them, which shews our departure from our original. There are many excellent discourse [...] of morality in Heathens W [...]tings, which may be very subservient to a Christian, [...]nd useful to the composing and settling of his mind, [...]midst all the fluctu [...]tions and uncertain­ties of this world: they may come well in as Subsidie [...] and Guards to a Christians heart, to preserve that peace and joy it hath from God, [...]nd keep out the ordinary tumultuous passions [...]hat disturb the most part of men: But here is the lamentable failing, that while they call [...] man off things without, as [...]dventitious, they lead him but in to his own spirit within, as if he could there find that rest in the very enjoyment [Page 75] of his poor miserable wretched self. but Christ Jesus calls us in to our own spirits, not to dwell there; [...]or O, what a loathsome and irksome ha­bit [...]tion is a defiled heart, and a guilty conscience? but rather that finding nothing of that joy and refreshment within, we may then freely and fully fo [...]sake our selves, as well as the world without▪ and transport in to God in Christ, the only ha­bitation of joy and delight, that being filled with anguish from the world, and from our selves, we may more willingly divorce from both, and agree to joyn unto Jesus Christ, and to imbrace him in our hearts, who is the only fountain of life and joy; who had no other errand and busi­nesse from Heaven, but to rep [...]ir mans joy, as grievous a breach a [...] any in the Creation: [...] thing as much missed and sought after, as [...]ny thing, ye [...], sought [...]ster in all things that are so [...]ght: Ioh. 15.11. These things I have spoken to you tha [...] your joy may be full. Therefore the Apostle propound [...] this as the end of his writing on thi [...] subject, the word of life, these things I write that your joy may be full, and the way to attain this fulness of joy, he expressed in the former verse, by fellowship with the Father and the Son.

That which mak [...]s all other things dispropor­tioned to the soul of man, to give it this joy, is the extream unsuitablenesse between them; that the soul hath [...]n infinit c [...]pacity, and besides [...]n immortality of endur [...]nce, but they are condem­ned under impotency to supply that infinit void; [Page 76] and inconstancy by which they must needs pe [...]ish, and leave the soul without all comfort, and with more anxiety. But in these things written here, we find all things suited and proportioned to the very great exigence of the soul. There is a [...]tablenesse in them, because of their spiri­ [...]l n [...]ture, whereby they may close immediat­ly with thy spirit, other things are material, and corporeal, and what union, what fellowship can a spirit be supposed to have with them? they are extrinsick, advenient things, that never come to a nearer union with thy soul; and though they co [...]ld, they would debase thy soul, and not ex [...]lt it, because of a baser inferiour Nature. But these thing [...], Iesus Christ, eternal life in him, these precious promises of the Gospel, these spiri [...]al pri­viledges of sonship, &c. these are of [...] more d [...] ­vin [...] n [...]ture, and by med [...]tation and [...] come to close with them: These are inward things, more near the soul that believes, then himself is to himself; and so he may alwayes car­ry them about in his [...]eart, which may be [...] spring of everlasting joy, this no m [...]n c [...]n take from him, Joh. 16 [...]2. For the ground [...]nd fountain is inward, seated without the [...]each o [...] all thes [...] vicissitude [...] and change [...]: The [...] a [...] they have [...] s [...]itablenesse, so they have a fulnesse in them, to creat fulnesse of joy▪ They are cordi [...]l [...] to the he [...]rt, things that are in [...]heir own nature re­freshing to the soul, and ap [...] to b [...]ge [...] heart-joy. O [...]her thing [...] are not suitable to thi [...], to produce [Page 77] any suc [...] inward [...]oul-comp [...]cency; the things that are from without, [...]ac [...] not so deep as the heart, they make their impressions rather on the out­wa [...]d senses, to [...]ickle and please them, or the countenance, to put [...]ome pleasing sh [...]pe upon it: but the wise man pronoun [...]h all the [...]e joys that a [...]ise from external things▪ to be [...]upe [...]fici­all, only skin-deep, in the midst of laught [...]r the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is he [...]vinesse, Prov. 14.13. Ex [...]rema gaud [...] luctus occupat. There is no solid recreation to the soul, in its retired thoughts from all the delights of the senses: it is but like the pleasure of the itch, which no man es [...]eems pleasure. But be­sides, as the things of the Gospel affect the heart and soul, by bringing soul-mercie [...], and treasures, as fo [...]given [...]sse of sin, hope of Heaven, &c. so there is a fulnesse in them, which may answerably fill all the corners of the heart with joy; there is an unexhaustednesse in these things, an univer­sality in Christ, all in all, all the treasures of wisdom are in him: and may not this cause surely an [...]gh spring tide of joy. The heart is eased upon the lowest clear apprehension of Christ and the Gospel, it gives a hea [...]t-serenity and c [...]lm­nesse to a troubled soul, that nothing else could do, yet to make up the fulnesse of joy, as well as the solidity of it; to extend the measure of it, as well as to beget the true q [...]ality of it; it is requisite [...]hat not only there be a f [...]lnesse in the object, that is full, superabundant, ample [Page 78] matter of rejoycing; but there must be a kind of fulnesse in the app [...]ehension, it must be rep [...]e­sented fully as it is, and the clouds of unbelief scattered; and then indeed, upon the full aspect of the Gospel, and Christ in it, there is a ful­nesse of joy that flows in to the soul, as the Sea is filled upon the full aspect of the Moon. Oh, that we could believe this, that there is a ful­nesse of joy here, and no where else; certainly this [...]lone being pondered and sunk into our hearts, would be a powe [...]f [...]l refo [...]mer in us, and among us; How would it carry mens hearts to a disgracing and despising all the things that are held in admiration by men? How would it turn the channel of mens judgments, opinions, affections, an [...] conversations? for certainly whithersoever the Tide of joy flows, thither the heart is carried, and it is that all men are seeking, though they take many contrary and diverse wayes, as their own fancy leads them. Now if once this were established in thy soul, that here is that truth [...]nd fulnesse of joy, which elsewhere is ignorant­ly and vainly [...]ought; would it not divert thy desires, and turn the current of thy affections and endeavour [...], to [...]all into this Ocean of glad­nesse and delight? Elsewhere there is neither true joy, nor full joy, nec verum nec plenum gau­dium; there is no verity in it, it is but an ex­ternal garb and sh [...]dow, and there is no plenty or fulnesse in it; it fills not the hand of the reaper, it satisfieth not his very hunger. But [Page 79] here, when a soul is possessed with Christ by faith, and dwelleth in God by love, there is both reality [...]nd plenty: all the dimensions of the heart may be filled up; Some allegorize upon the triangular composition of mans heart, that no orbicular thing, such as this world, can fill it ex­actly without vacuity, but only the blessed and holy Trinity. Truly we may conceive, this ful­nesse of joy, excluding all the latent griefs of the heart, and filling up all the vacant corners, doth flow from that blessed fellowship of the Fa­ther and the Son. Now though these two be on­ly mentioned, yet the Holy Ghost must not be ex­cluded, for the Apostolick Prayer doth attri­bute chiefly our fellowship with God to the Spi­rit, so that it is the Spirit units our hearts, and associats them to God, that seems to correspond between him and us: So then there is such a fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that leaves no vacuity in the heart, that fills all the dimensions and corners of it with peace and joy.

But add unto this, in the third place, that these things have not only a fulnesse, but withal a du­rablenesse; not only plenty, but besides, eter­nity and perpetuity, to correspond to the im­mortality of the soul; And this certainly is [...] great congruity, and so makes up much beauty and harmony; for what more incongruous and unsuitable, then for an immortal spirit to spend it self, and give up it self to that which is not▪ [Page 80] which must le [...]ve [...]t, whi [...] is mo [...]t [...]l, and [...]ading in its own nature, without whic [...], it must con­tinue infinitly longer then it can enjoy it? And what more comely, then for an immortal thing to [...]ssociat to eternal things, and [...]o derive it [...] joy from an eternal spring? For then, when all things vi [...]ible a [...]e done away, and things mortal abolish­ed, then its joy none can take from it; because it t [...]kes its joy from that, which must survive all these changes. Suppose any thing could for the pre [...]ent give a fulness of joy, and absolute content to the heart, yet if we imagine that thing may be separated and disjoyned [...]rom the heart, and cease to be, certainly the ve [...]y expectation of such an ete [...]nal separation, would almost extin­guish all the joy, and make it dry up of the ful­nesse: For, may a soul think, What shall I do for ever when this Well dryes? Whence shall I draw water of joy? Out of what Well? But now, that fear is removed, and the soul need [...] not losse the swee [...]ness of the present enjoyment of God, through anxious foresight of the future, because he may know, th [...]t the perfect fulnesse that shall never ebb, is but coming, and the Sun is but ascending yet towards the Meridian, from whence he shall never go down, but stand fixed, to be the eternal wonder and delight of Angel [...] and men.

Now though it be true, that Christians here, have neither that plenty, nor that perpetuity of this joy, that the object of it gives ground [Page 81] for; though their hearts be often filled with g [...]iefs and sorrows, partly from outward, partly from inward evils and afflictions; yet certainly this ariseth but from the dark apprehension, dim belief, and slight consideration of these things that Christ spoke, and his Apos [...]les wrote unto us; We might, no question, keep ou [...] hearts in more peace and tranquillity, in all the commoti­ons of the times, or alterations in our selves, if we did more stedfastly believe the Gospel, and keep mo [...]e constant fellowship with God. But however it be, there is radically a fulnesse of joy in every believers heart, that seed is sown, that shall one day be [...]ipe of fulnesse of joy, it is al­wayes lying at the root, and reserved for them. O, let us lay these things to heart, which being laid to heart, and laid up in the heart, will fill it with this sweet fragrant perfume of peace and joy▪ They are written for this end, let us hear them for this end too, that our joy may be full. It i [...] true indeed, that this fulnesse of joy suits only the lise to come, when the vessel is both in­l [...]rged [...]nd strengthned to contain it: Things that have strong spirits in them, must have strong n [...]w bottle [...], such as our cr [...]zy mortal bodies are no [...]; therefore the Lord hath reserved the just fulnesse, the overflowings of this joy, for the time that the soul shall be purified from all sin, and the body delive [...]ed from all corruption: Be­cause that s [...]n lurks in many corners of the heart now, therefore this joy cannot fill up the heart, [Page 82] and all the vacuities of it; for it is of so pure and heavenly a nature, that it will not compou [...]d an [...] inte [...]mingle wi [...]h sin, or sinful lusts; but when nothing of th [...]t remains in the heart, then it flows-in apace, and leaves no corner of the heart unsatisfied and unsupplied. I would have you, who get some tastes of this joy and peace by the way, not di [...]quieted and troubled, be­cause it abides not to be ordin [...]y [...]ood; if you be set down again to your ordinary spare dyet of Mann [...] in the Wildernesse, and have not these fi [...]st f [...]uits and G [...]apes of Canaan often sent to you; think it n [...]t st [...]ange, [...]or the fulnesse which you [...]eek, you are not capable of here, but you sh [...]ll be c [...]pable of it hereafter. You ought with patience to wait [...]or that day, when your joy shall be fall, as Christ is full, full measure, heaped up, and running over, will he me [...] out unto you then: and this [...]hall be without the fear of any ebb or diminution of it for all eternity; neither shall this fulnesse, and cons [...]ant fulnesse, cloy the soul, or breed any satiety in it: there is fulnesse of joy without surfeit, without satiety; that which th [...]y hav [...], they shall alwayes desire, and [...]hat which th [...]y desire, they shall alwayes have: ever­lasting desi [...]e, and everlasting delight, being mar­ried together in their [...]ulnesse. But yet so much is a [...]tainable h [...]re, [...]s may truly be called ful­nesse, in regard of the world; The fulnesse of joy that [...]ll the pleasures of this earth can afford, is but sca [...]cety and want, to the inward fulnesse [Page 83] o [...] joy and contentation, [...]he poorest believers may have in God, reconciled in Christ. That which the wise man gives as the character of all earthly joy, [...]uits well, I said of laughter, it is mad, and of mirth, wh [...]t doth it? Eccl. 2.2. Truly it can­ [...]ot be supposed to be more [...]eal, then that which is the ground and spring of it. I [...] must be a per­funct [...]ious, superficial, and empty joy, that is derived and distil [...]ed from such vanities. Nay, there is a madnesse in it besides, for mens ap­prehensions to swell so excessively, towards poor, narrow, and limited things; it is a monster in reason, to put such value upon nothing, and make our selves glad upon our own dreams and [...]ancies; There is such a manifest abuse and vio­lation of re [...]son in it, [...]hat it can be supposed to proceed [...]rom nothing but a distemper in men [...] hearts. But be [...]ides [...]his, there are two other characters of it given, Prov. 14.13. Even in l [...]ughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that [...]rth is heavinesse. There is no pure earthly joy; for it hath alwayes a mixture of grief and sadnesse in the [...]oward retired closet of the heart; it is of such deadnesse and inefficacy, that it drives no [...] out of the heart all discontentments and anxieties; but is the most jovial man, that seem [...] to be transported with his delights, would but retire within, and examine his own conscien [...]e, [...]e would find those delights have but little power to affect his heart; he would find ter­rible and dreadful represent [...]tions there, that [Page 84] his joyes may well for a time darken them, bu [...] cannot drive them away: and then it is the ve­ [...]y natural law, and fatal necessity, th [...]t grief fol­lows these joys at the heels, yea, is pe [...]petually attending them, to come in their place; God hath so conjoyned them together, and so dispo­sed them, that mens j [...]y shall be mingled with grief, but their g [...]ief is pu [...]e and unmixed; and that he who draws up joy to him from the crea­tures, must draw g [...]ief and vexation in that same chain, inseparably annex [...]d to it by the wise ordination of God.

But there are joys of the Holy Ghost, arising from the intimati [...]n and app [...]ehension of th [...] Gospel, from the consideration [...]f the grace and goodnesse of God manifested in it, and the ex­perience of that in the soul, which are of [...]nother stamp and nature. These indeed affect th [...] heart, and give the answer of a good con [...]ience, in th [...] blood of Christ, which is a continual feast; these drive out the bitter and dreadful apprehensions of sin and wrath; these sweeten and refr [...]sh th [...] soul in all wo [...]ldly afflictions and g [...]iefs: The heart of man kn [...]weth his own bitternesse, and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy, P [...]ov. 13.10. Indeed, the to [...]ments and perplexities of a troubled soul, are better felt by themselve [...], t [...]en known by others, and so are the joys of th [...]t heart that [...]pprehends Jesus Christ, and peace p [...]rchased in him, they a [...]e such, as no man that is a stranger to such thing [...] in his experience [Page 85] can app [...]ehend. It is a joy u [...]speakable; O what un [...]peakable content gives it to the heart. And truly if you did not interpose the clouds of un­belief and sin between you and his shining coun­tenance, there needed not be so often an Eclipse in the joys of believers; yet the day is coming that ye shall see him fully as he is, and nothing be interposed between you and him, and then your joy sh [...]ll be full, &c.


1 Joh. 1.5.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, &c.

THe great design of the Gospel is to make up the breach of mans joy, and open up the way to the fulnesse of it: and therefore it is the good news and glad [...]dings of great joy, the only best message that ever came to the world. Now it shews unto us the channel, that this river of gladnesse and joy runs into; it discovers what is the way of the conveyance of it to the soul, and what are the banks it runs between, and that is, fellowship with the Father and the Son. In this channel that river of delight runs, between the banks of the love of God to us, and our love [Page 86] to him. Herein a soul is happy, and accounts it self happy; and truly, in so much do we pro­fite by the Word, and answer the design of the Gospel, by how much we estimat our happiness from this alone, from the communication of God to u [...]. Whensoever the Gospel take [...] hold of your hearts, it will undoub [...]edly frame them to this, to a measu [...]ing of all blessednesse from God alone: and this will carry the heart to an undervaluing of all other things, as being too low, and unworthy for this end; and so to a for­saking of any thing for the closser enjoyment [...]f God. I fea [...] many believers are little acquainted with this joy, because they draw not their joy singly out of the pure fountain of delight; but turn aside to other external comf [...]ts, and drown their souls in them. Now indeed, these two cannot well consist [...]ogether, if we [...]ake in any thing else to make up our happinesse and com­fort, so much we lose of God and that which is [...]ruly spiritual; and therefore our hearts would be more purified from carnal delights, if we would have experience of this joy: we must hang only upon his countenance and company, el [...]e we lose the swe [...]tnesse of it.

Now the Apostle prosecutes this further, to discover what confo [...]mity must be betwee [...] them that should keep this fellowship; [...]nd wh [...]t likenesse of n [...]ture and qualities is nec [...]ssary for them who would be happy in Gods society. This is the message we have heard (saith he) [...]nd which [Page 87] we declare unto you, that God is light, &c. T [...]ke this joyntly, with that which went before; This we declare, that ye may have fellowship with the Father, and the Son. And to the end this fel­lowship may hold, and yeeld you fulnesse of joy, it is necessary that the nature of God be laid down, a [...] the patte [...]n to which ye must be con­form. God is light, and therefore you must be light too, if ye would have fellowship with that pure light. Now this, I say is the full message of the Gospel, that which was sent down from Heaven, with the Son of God, the M [...]ssenger of the Covenant, and which the Apostles heard from him; Indeed the very manner of the proposal of these things might stir up our hearts to atten­tion, and make us more serious then commonly we are, That there is one, and such an one sent from Heaven, with such an embassage as this is, to invite us to society with God again, one whose interest lyes in this, to make us happy; and this he declares unto us, that he hath no other de­sign, but to fulfill our joy. O how powerful might this be on our hearts, to conquer them, to make them willingly hearken to him? Any mess [...]ge that comes from Heaven, should be re­ceived with great reverence and respect of mortal men; because it comes from the Court and Palace of the Great King. But when this i [...] the substance of it, to make us happy in himself, to advance us to this incomparable dignity of society with himself, in which society there is a [Page 88] fulnesse of joy; then how should we receive it with open hea [...]ts, and intertain it gladly? If we could take it alwayes thus, as a message from Heaven, and look upon it, and hear it in that notion, I think the fruit would be incomparably greater; for what i [...] it that makes it dead and ineffectual in mens hearts, but that the appre­hension of it degene [...]ats and falls down from God to creatu [...]e [...], beca [...]e it is not taken so as his wo [...]d, carrying the s [...]amp of his divine authority: We bring it forth, n [...]t as a mes [...]age [...]rom him, but as f [...]om our selves; and you receive it not as from him, but from us; an [...] thus it is adulte­ [...]ated and corrupted on both hands. My belo­ved, let us joyntly mind this, that whatsoever we have to declare, it is a message from God to mortal men; and therefore let us so compose our selves in his sight, as if he were speaking to us. The conscience of a very Heathen was a­waked, when Ebu [...] told him he had a message from G [...]d to him: E [...]lon arose out of his se [...]t, that he might hear it reverently, Iudg. 3.20. though it was a bloody message, as it proved in the event; yet so much the common dictats of reason might teach you, that ye should a [...]ise, and compose your selves to [...]eve [...]ent and awful attention to what the Lord God will speak. But when moreover we know that the sum of the message is, to make us blessed, and raise us up to communion with him in his joy and happinesse; we are not only called to reverence, a [...] to God, [Page 89] but to ardent af [...]ection and desi [...]e, as to him who by all means seeks ou [...] happinesse. O how hap­py were he that could fi [...]st hear, and receive this message f [...]om him, and then decla [...]e it to others. But however, though we should fail in that, this doth not c [...]ange either the authority, or nature of the mess [...]ge it self; and therefo [...]e, i [...] men should be so far des [...]itute o [...] God, as not to bring it from him immediatly, yet do not you [...]orsake your own mercy too; but receive it as that which is come forth f [...]om God; receive it for it sel [...], as carrying in its bosome a fulnesse of joy to you; and receive it fo [...] his sake who mo­ved this embassage first after sinners, and his sake who car [...]ied it to sinners, that is, for the Fa­ther, and the Son; to whose fellowship you are here invited. Let us then hear the m [...]ssage:

This then is the mess [...]ge, that God is light, &c. The ground o [...] communion o [...] persons, is their union in nature, or likenesse one to another. There is some general society between all man­kind, as being conjoyned in one common nature; but the contracting of that in a narrower bounds of affinity and consanguinity, doth inlarge the af­fection the mo [...]e: you see it is natural for those who are joyned by such relations of blood one to another, to love one another more then others out of these bonds. But true friendship draws the c [...]rcle yet narrower, and contracts the love that is scattered abroad to mankind in a strange channel, to run towards one, or a few; and the [Page 90] foundation of this is some peculiar and particu­lar si [...]ilitude, and likeness in manners, and sym­pathy of disposition, which makes the souls of men to melt one into another, after some con­ve [...]se and acquaintance together; this is the bond that knits this near society; some confor­mity necessarily presuppo [...]ed to communion and fellowship. Now th [...]t which holds so in the communion of man with man, must be much mo [...]e need [...]ul in man; communion with God: for all the societies, combinations, and conj [...]nctions of the creatures, are but shadows of this higher communicati [...]n of the spirit of man, with God the Father of spirits. And indeed we may find some rude dra [...]ghts and resemblances of this di­vine s [...]ciety, and of the rule according to which it must be modell'd, in all the friendly or near conjunctions of creatures; for every thing is best preserved, and agreeth best with things of its own nature: see the disposition of the parts of the world; things contiguous, and nearest other, are also likest in nature one to another, so it is [...]mong men, the several agreements, and symbo­lizing [...] of mens spirits in different qualities and tempers, makes several sorts of men, and parts them into so many companies: Pares paribus congregantur, simile simili gaudet.

Now, my beloved, this same supernatural and divine soc [...]ety that we speak of, must be consti­tuted according to this fundamental rule, that is, [Page 91] It is necessary, to the end that God and man may have fellowship together, that they come nearer in likenesse one to another: now for God, you know he cannot be liker us, for he is unchange­ably holy and good: That were most absurd, to bring down his Majesty to parta [...]e of our wretch­ed inf [...]mities of sin and darknesse. Indeed in this he hath come as far as his own nature and our good would permit, to communicat in our na­ture, and all the sinless infi [...]mities of it: It i [...] imp [...]ssible then that he should make up the di­stance by any change of himself, but we must be changed, and some way raised up to partake of the pu [...]ity of his nature, and be transformed in­to some likenesse to him, and then is the foun­dation of society and fellowship laid down: This is the Apostles meaning, in declaring to us what God is, that according to that pattern, and in that glasse, we may see what to con [...]orm our selves to, and may have a particular determination of the great qualification of these who pretend to fellowship with God: God is light, and in him i [...] no darknesse. Now take the just opposition, man is da [...]knesse, and in him is no light. Now what communion then can light have with da [...]knesse? either the light must become darknesse, or the darknesse become light; either the light must leave its glorious purity, and fors [...]ke its nature, which cannot be admitted, or else the darknesse of mens souls must be wiped off, and abolished [Page 92] by the brightnesse of God [...] light; and then there may be a comm [...]nion between the primitive light, and the derivative light, between the o [...]i­ginal light, and that which flows out from the original. But take darknesse, remaining dark­nesse, and light, remaining light, and they can­not compone together; for t [...]e fi [...]st great sepa­ration that was m [...]de in the world, was between light and darknesse: And God saw that light was go [...]d, and God divided between the light and the darkness, Gen 1 4. And so it is imp [...]ssible f [...]r men that live in the d [...]knesse of their minds, in ignorance, and in the da [...]knesse of sinfull lusts, that they can have any fellowship with God, who is a fountain of pure light, and undefiled [...]ancti [...]y. Wh [...]t hast thou to do to take my Covenant in thy mouth, &c. and this God saith to the wicked. It is an incongruous and unsuitable thing, for men to pretend nearnesse and interest in this God, and yet be buried in da [...]knesse and hatred of the light of personal reformation, as a Gold Ring in a Swines nose, that [...]ather deforms the Jewel, then beautifies the Beast: So are the pre­tensions of ignorant and wicked men, to this divine society, &c.


1 Joh. 1.5.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, &c.

WHo is a fit messenger to declare this mes­sage? Can da [...]knesse comp [...]ehend the light, or apprehend it? O [...] can those that a [...]e blind, [...]orm any lively noti [...]n o [...] light, to the in­st [...]uction and perswasion of othe [...]s? Truly, no more can we conceive or speak of God, who i [...] that pure light, then a blind man can discourse on colours, or a deaf man on sounds; Who is blind as the Lords servant? And therefore, who are more unmeet to declare this message of light? What reverence and godly fear ought this to be declared withal, when mortal man speaks of the eternal God unto mortal men? What composure of spirit should be in us? What trembling and adoration? For at our best we can but declare our own ignorance, and the furthest attainment in this knowledge, is but a further discovery of mans darknesse; we have three wayes of creeping towards that glorious light of God, fi [...]st, his own wo [...]ks are like some visible appearances of that invisible and incom­prehensible God; and in these we know him, but not what he is in himself. Consider how dark [...]nd dull we are in piercing into the hidden na­tures [Page 94] of things, even below us, as Beasts and Plants: we behold some effects flow from them, but from wh [...]t principle these do flow, that we know not: How much lesse can we apprehend any thing suit­able of the Divine M [...]jesty, that is i [...]finitly above us, from these won [...]e [...]ful and glorious wo [...]ks of his power and wisdom. Man is indowed with wisdom, to do some excellent works of A [...]t, as Planting, Gra [...]ing, Building, Painting, Weaving, and such like. But the Be [...]sts that a [...]e b [...]low [...], cannot apprehend from these wo [...]ks what the na­ture of man is. Now is there not a more infi­nit distance, a greater disproportion between us and the Divine Nature, so that we cannot rise up to an understanding notion of it, in it self Nay, besides, one man will do many things which another cannot understand, he beholds th [...] Art of it, he sees the matter, but yet he canno [...] pierce into the mind o [...] the Work-man, and loo [...] upon that wisdom and idea of his mind: There­fore all that we can conclude from these wonder­full works of God, is some silent admiration of him. If these be such, th [...]n what must he be? How infinitly distant from th [...]m, and transcen­den [...] over them? but what he is, these cannot declare, and we cannot apprehend. Then we use to climb up to the knowledge of God, by attri­buting to him all the perfections, excellencies, and eminencies of the creatures: whatsoever commends them, we apprehend that originally and infinitly in him; and thus we spell out that [Page 95] Name that is most simply one, in many Letters, and Characters, acco [...]ding to our mean capaci­ty, as children when they begin to learn; so we ascribe to him wisdom, goodnesse, power, justice, holinesse, mercy, truth, &c. All which names being taken from the creatures, and so having significations suited to our imperfections, they must needs come infinitly short of him, and so our apprehensions of them: these are scattered among the creatures, therefore they cause di­verse conceptions in us; but all these are united in him. He is a most simple, pure being, that eminently and virtually is all things; and pro­perly is none of all.

Another way we have of apprehending him, by way of Negation, denying all the imperfections of the creatures, and removing them an infinit distance from him, and truly, though this be an imperfection in knowledge, yet it is the greatest knowledge we can attain to, to know rather what he is not, then what he is: He is not limi­ted to any place, nor bounded with any mea­sures and degre [...]s of perfection, as creatures are; therefore we call him Infinit: He is not com­prehended within the limits of time, but com­prehends all within himself; therefore he is Eter­nal: He is not subject to changes and alterations, therefore called Immutable: He is not com­pounded, as a result of diverse parts, therefore he is most purely Simple, and One: He is not like these things we see and hear, that fall under our [Page 96] senses; therefore we call him a Spirit, or a spi­ritual beeing. Now in all these weak endeavour [...] of man, to detain and fix his own spirit in the contemplation of God, if he cannot reach the understanding of what God is, yet certainly he will attain [...]his great point of wisdom, not to be ignorant of his own ignorance. And truly, my beloved, this is the thing that I would have us to learn to know, that the admiration of God in silence, is the best expression of him. We would not search into these mysteries, to satisfie our cu [...]iosity, but rather compose our hearts to a continu [...]l silent wondering before him▪ [...]or where our unde [...]standings are confounded, and ou [...] minds ove [...]whelmed with the infinitnesse of th [...]t glory, so that we can see nothing but our own ignorance of all; this should certainly com­pose all to quiet admiration; for silence and wonder is the proper and natural posture of a soul that is at a stand, and can neither win for­ward for inaccessible light, nor will retire back­ward for that it apprehends already.

This then is the m [...]ssage, that God is light. B [...] ­cause we cannot conceive in our poor narrow mind [...], what God is in himself, therefore he expresseth to us often in sim [...]litudes to the crea­tures, and condescends to our capacity. As he stands in manifold relations to us, so he takes the most familiar Names, that may hold out to our dull senses what we may expect of him: therefore he calleth himself a Father, a King, a Husband, [Page 97] a Rock, a Bu [...]kler, and strong [...]ower, a Moun­tain, and wha [...]soeve [...] else may [...]epresent to our hea [...]ts that which may strengthen them in b [...] ­lieving. But there is no creature [...]o directly at­t [...]ibuted to God, as light: none used to express his very nature and being, a [...] a [...]stracted from these relations, but this, God is light, and Christ take [...] it to him [...]elf, the light of the world, and the life of men. The truth is, it hath some excellency in it above all other visible creature [...], that it may fitly carry some resemblance to him. The Scripture calls light his garment, Psal. 104.2. and truly it is a more glo [...]io [...] Rob of Majesty, then all the royall and Imperial Robs and Ga [...]ments of State, that either Angels or men could contrive. The light is, as it were, a visible appearance of the invi­sible God: He hath cove [...]ed his invisible nature with thi [...] glo [...]iou [...] Garment, to make himsel [...] in a manner visible to man. Its true, that light is, but a [...] it were, a shadow of that inaccessible light, umbra Dei. It is the dark shadow of God, who is himself infinitly more beautiful and glorious▪ But yet, as to us, it hath greater Glory and Majesty in it, then any creature besides. It is the chief of the works of God, without which the world would be without form, and void: it is the very beauty of the Creation, that which gives a lustre and amiablenesse to all that is in it, with­out which the pleasantest Paradise would become a Wildernesse, and this beautiful structure, and [Page 98] ado [...]ned P [...]lace of the World, [...] loathsome dun [...]eon. [...] the admirable beauty of it, it hath a wond [...]ull swi [...] convey [...]nce, throughout the whole wo [...]ld, the upper, and lower, in a mo­ment, in the twinckling of an eye, it i [...] caried f [...]om the one end of heaven to the other in a mo­m [...]nt, and [...]ho c [...]n say by wh [...]t way the light is p [...]rt [...]l, Iob, 8 24. M [...]eover it car [...]ies alongst with it [...] beautiful influence, and refreshing heat and warmnes [...], which i [...] t [...]e very life and sub [...]istence of [...]ll the creatu [...]es below. And so, as there [...]s nothing so beautiful, so nothing so unive [...]sally and hig [...]ly p [...]ofitable; and to all this, add that [...]in­gular [...]operty of it, that it is n [...]t capable o [...] in­ [...]ection, it i [...] of such absolute pu [...]ity, th [...] it can c [...]mmu [...]icat it self to the dung-hill, as we [...]l as to the Garden, without receiving any mixtu [...]e from it: In all the impu [...]ities it m [...]ets withall, it [...]emains unmixed, and un [...]ain [...]ed, and p [...]e­serves its own nature intire. Now you may per­ceive that there is nothing visible that is fitter to resemble the invisi [...]le God, then this glor [...] ­ou [...], be [...]utiful, pure, and unive [...]sally communi­ [...]able c [...]eature, Light.

Hereby you may have shadowed out unto you the nature of God, that he is an all-knowing, in­telligent beeing, as light is the first and p [...]inci­pal visible thing; yea, that which gives visibili­ty to all things: and so is in its own nature a manifestation of all things material and bodily, [Page 99] so God is the fi [...]st object of the understanding: primum intelligib [...]le, & primum intelligens. No­thing [...]o fit [...]n embleme of knowledge, as light, and truly in that respect God is the original light, a pure intellectual light, that hat [...] in him­sel [...] the perfect idea and comprehension of [...]ll things; he hath [...]nticipated in himself the know­ledge of all, because all things were formed in his infinit understanding, and lay, as it were, first hid in the bowels of his infinit power. There­fore he is a Glob or Mass of light and knowledge, like the Sun, from whom nothing is hid; He [...] and destruction are not covered to him, the [...]e i [...] no opacity, no darknesse or thicknesse in the creation, that can terminat or bound this light, or hinder his understanding to pierce into it. Now all things by the irradiation of the light be­come visible, so the participation of this glori­ou [...] Sun of Righteousnesse, [...]nd the shining of his be [...]ms into the souls of men, makes them to partake of that heavenly intellectual nature, and [...]eflects a wonderful be [...]uty upon them, which i [...] not in the [...]est of the world.

Besides, here is represented to us the absolut [...] purity and perfection of Gods Nature, God i [...] light, and in him is no darknesse; Besides the pu­rity of the light of knowledge, there is [...] purity of the beauty of holinesse, the glorious light of God his vertue, and power, and wisdom, is com­municated to [...]ll the creatures, there is an uni­versal [Page 100] extent of hi [...] influence towards the good [...]nd bad, as the Sun shine [...] on both, and yet there is n [...] spot or stain upon his holinesse or righte­ousnesse, from all his intermingling with the creatures, the wo [...]st and b [...]est c [...]eatures. All his works are holy and righteous, even his wo [...]ks in unholy and unrighteous men; he draws no de­filement from the basest of the creatures, nor yet from the sinfulnesse of it: He can be intimatly present, and conjoyned in working, in vertu [...] and power, in care and providence, with the dirt and mi [...]e of the streets, with the beasts of the field, and yet that is no stain upon his ho­nour or credit, as men would suppose it to be; no more then it is a dishonour to the Sun to shine on the dung-hill; in a word, there is no mixture of ignorance, darknesse, impurity, or iniquity in him, not the least shadow of ch [...]nge, or turning, not the le [...]st seed of imperfection; in regard of him the Moon is not clean, and the Sun i [...] spotted; in respect of his holiness, Angel [...] may be charged with folly.

Then add unto this, to make up the resem­blance fuller, the bounty and benignity of his influence upon the world, the flowings forth of his in [...]nit goodnesse, that inricheth the whole earth: look as the Sun is the greatest and most universal benefactor, his influence and heat is th [...] very renovation of the world, it makes [...]ll new, and green, and flourishing; it puts a youth upon the world, and so is the very spring and fountain [Page 101] of life to [...]ll sub [...]nary things. How much is that true of the true light, of the substantial, of whom this Sun is but a shadow, He is the life of the world, and the light of men. Every good gift and every perfect donation descends from him, Jam. 1.17. [...]is influence is more universal to the beeing, to the moving, to the living of all things. And then Iesus Christ the Sun of Righte­ousnesse is ca [...]ried a [...]o [...]t in the Orb of the Go [...] ­spel, and in his beams there is a healing vertue; t [...]e [...]e are the refreshment o [...] poor wea [...]ied soul [...] that a [...]e scorched with the anger of God. There i [...] an admirable heat and wa [...]mnesse of love and affection, that this glorious light carries embosom­ed in it, and that is it that pierces into souls, and warms hearts, and quickens dead spirits, and puts a new face upon all again. This is the spring of all the life that is truly spiri­tual; and it hath as sweet and comfo [...]tabl [...] effects upon the souls of men, who receive the truth in love, the light in love, that is, the light with heat, as ever-the Sun approach­ing [...]ear the earth, hath had upon plants [...]nd li­ving creatures.

And to compleat the resemblance more, there may be something of the infallibility, and incom­prehensibili [...]y of the Divine M [...]jesty here repre­sented; for though nothing be [...]learer then the light, yet there is nothing in it [...] own natu [...]e dark­e [...] then light: That which is so manifest to the eyes, How obs [...]ure is it to the understanding▪ [Page 102] M [...]ny debates an [...] inqui [...]ies have been abou [...] it, but yet it is n [...]t known wh [...]t t [...]at is, by which we know all things. Cer [...]ainly, such i [...] the Divine Light: It i [...] inconceivable, and inexpressible, there [...]ore he is [...]aid to dwell in light inac [...]essible, and full of glory, 1 [...]im. 6.16. There is a two- [...]o [...]d da [...]knesse that hinder [...] u [...] to see God, a da [...]k­nesse of igno [...]ance in u [...], and a da [...]kne [...] of inacces­sible light in him: the one is a vail upon our hearts, w [...]ich blinds and darkens the souls of men, that they do not see that which is manifest of God, even in hi [...] works. O that cloud of unbelief that is spread over o [...]r soul [...], which hinder [...] the glorious [...]ayes of that Divine Light to shine into them. Thi [...] darknesse S [...]tan contribute [...] much to, who is the Prince of darkn [...]sse, 2 Cor. 4.4. this makes the most part of souls like dungeons within, when the glorious light of the Gospel surrounds them without: this earthlinesse and carnality of our hearts, makes them like the earth, receive only the light in the upper and outward supe [...]fice, and not suffer it to be [...]ransmitted into our h [...]arts, to change them. But when it pleaseth him, who at the fi [...]st, by a word of power, commanded light to shine out of d [...]rknesse, he can scatter that cloud of ignorance, [...]nd draw away [...]he vail of unbelief, and can by hi [...] power [...]nd art so transform the soul, a [...] to [...]mo [...]e its earthly quality, and make it transpa­ [...]t and pure, and then the light will s [...]ine in to [...] heart, [...] get free accesse into the soul. But [Page 103] [...]ough this da [...]kn [...]s [...]e we [...]e wholly removed, [...]ere is anothe [...] da [...]knesse, that ariseth not f [...]om [...]he wan [...] o [...] light, but [...]om the exc [...]ssive supe [...]- [...]bundance o [...] light; Caligo [...] nimiae, that is, a divine da [...]kness [...], a da [...]knesse o [...] glory, such an infini [...] exc [...]sse and superplus [...]f light [...]nd glory, above all created capaci [...]ies, that it daz [...]es and c [...]nfound [...] all [...]tal or created unde [...]standing [...]. We [...] s [...]me shad [...]ws o [...] [...]his, if we look up to t [...]e clear Sun; we are able to see nothing [...]or too much light, there is such an infinit disproporti­on he [...]e between the eye of our mind, and this di [...]ine light of glory, that if we cu [...]iously p [...]y [...]nto it, it is ra [...]her c [...]nfounding and astonishing; and therefore it fills the souls of Saints with con­tinual silent admi [...]ation and adoration.


1 Joh. 1.5.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darknesse at all.

TRue Religion consists not only in the know­ledge of God, but especially in conformity to him, and communion with him. Communi­on and fellowship with God is the great end and design of the Gospel, and it is the gre [...] resul [...] [Page 104] of all a Chri [...]ian [...] pain [...] and progresse; it i [...] not only the greatest part of Religion, b [...]t the ve­ [...]y [...]eward of Religion too; [...]or piety hath its reward of happine [...]s in the bosome o [...] it, without borrowing f [...]om exte [...]nal things. Now th [...]t which this sweet and fragrant f [...]uit whic [...] per­ [...]ume [...] all the soul with delight, and [...]ills it with joy, springs out o [...], is, Conformity to G [...]d, a [...]i­milation o [...] natu [...]e [...]nd dispo [...]ition, some like­nesse to God imprinted on t [...]e soul again in holy affections and di [...]positions, a co-incidency o [...] our will with the will of God, a drow [...]ing of it in the sea of his good pleasu [...]e, his Law in the in­wa [...]d pa [...]ts. Now what is the root of this co [...] ­ [...]o [...]mity, but the knowledge of God? this is that which hath a ve [...]ue to tran [...]o [...]m the soul into his similitude: You see then whe [...]e t [...]ue Religion begins lowest, and by what means it grows up to the sweet fruit of that eternal joy that shall be pressed out of the G [...]apes of fellow­ship with God: [...]o then whatsoever is declared of God unto u [...] in hi [...] Wo [...]d, whatsoever is hol­den [...]orth of him, it is not only set forth to be the subject o [...] our knowledge, but especially to be a patte [...]n for imitation, and to be an inflam­ing motive to our affection; This is the very substance of the ver [...]e.

This then is the mess [...]ge, I declare that God is light, and this I hea [...]d not [...]rom Christ only for the [...]atisfaction of my curiosity, nor do I declare it to you only that you may know it, as if you [Page 105] had no more to do wit [...] it, but especi [...]lly that ye may know what ye ought to be in conformity to that light; the end o [...] your knowing God, i [...] to become liker God, if so be ye would have communion with him.

Let us take this rule then, to measure all our sea [...]chings a [...]ter God, and inquirings into him; ce [...]ainly there ought to be more meditation, and inquiry of heart upon this subject, because it is the [...]pring of all life to the soul; it is that which en [...]icheth it most, and fills it with peace, joy, and delight, and brings in a treasure into a man [...] hea [...]t, [...]uch a [...] Christ speaks of; A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, &c. Me­dication, much meditation on God, a stayednes [...] and fixedness of spi [...]it upon him, layes up a trea­su [...]e in the heart; this is it that makes such a dif [...]e [...]ence between the heart and mouth of a righteou [...] man, and a wicked man; the heart of the wicked is little worth, for the total want of this; and there [...]ore their lips and tongues are void of edification, full of corruption. But where this spring floweth within, it maketh th [...] mouth of a man like a well of life; it maketh his lips li [...]e choise silv [...]r. O, the scantnesse and neglect of this amongst Christians, makes all to wither and decay: there is little searching after the Almighty, little imploying and intertaining our spirits about him; low, slender, and single thoughts and app [...]ehensions o [...] him, which c [...]nnot but cause a deliquium and dec [...]y in all the part [...] [Page 106] of Christianity, wh [...]n the v [...]ry Sun is [...]pled from us by our ign [...]ance, and inc [...]nsidera [...]ion of [...]im: and that so long, it must have dreadful eff [...]ct [...] upon us. Therefore let us be exhorted to this study, to give our spi [...]its to this imploy­ment, to think mo [...]e on G [...]d. But as I was say­ing, there is need of [...] [...]ule to me [...]sure us in it, [...]nd of some caution about it, that i [...], th [...]t we have our end [...]ightly established, wha [...] we [...]im at in enq [...]iring after, or meditating upon God. If it be only to give intertainment to the curiosity of our mind [...], as in the c [...]ntemplation of natural things, if it be [...]nly to p [...]y into se­crets and mysterie [...], and to labour to compre­hend th [...]t which is incomp [...]ehensible, then we lose our labour, and we a [...]e in danger to meet with [...] consuming fi [...]e, instead of instructing and re [...]reshing light. I would therefore have this g [...]arded against, the insatiable desire and greedi­ne [...]e of our minds after the knowledge of secret mysteries. We must set bound [...] here, and not over-stretch or strain our und [...]standings, to com­passe his infinit beeing, as it is in it self: let us rather take him up as he i [...] revealed in the Scrip­ture [...], and so meditate [...]n him [...]s manifested in hi [...] Word and W [...]rks, hi [...] G [...]ce, Mercy, Power, Wi [...]dom, &c. and read hi [...] name with delight in these la [...]ge volumes spread be [...]ore our eyes, &c.

Now the just measuring and regulating of all knowledge of God, is to direct it to a further end, to have nothing before us but this, that we [Page 107] may reve [...]ence, [...], and [...]ove him so much the more: and t [...]s is the t [...]ing t [...]t make [...]h ac­c [...]s to him most easie and sweet, when [...]he de­sign a soul h [...]t [...], in a [...]l it [...] [...]e [...]chings about him, is for thi [...] purpose, [...]o the end it may love him, and wo [...]ship him mo [...]e [...]ui [...]bly, and be mor [...] c [...]n [...]o [...]med to him, when he is looked upon as [...] p [...]tte [...]n o [...] our con [...]o [...]mi [...]y, that is the [...]ight ap­prehension and up-taking of him, to know that God is light, and so to know i [...], a [...] in it to be­hold the neces [...]ity of what qualification should be in us, that is indeed to know God. My belo­ved, let us co [...]der th [...]t so much we know of God, as we love him, and fe [...]r him, and are con­formed unto him: f [...]r that knowledge which is not about this work and design; it is for no other purpose, but to be a wi [...]ness against a man, and the most hai [...]ous aggravation of his sins.

To come then to the pa [...]ticular in hand, God is light, and that is holden out and declared for this end, that there may be a pattern of the qualification of all that intend to enter into that society; if ye would have fellowship with God, then consider what you ingage into, what manner of person he is, for [...]he inti [...]at knowledge of one another, is presupposed to all constant friendship: You must know then what God is, if ye would have communion with him, because there is no communion without some conformi­ [...]y, [...]nd no conformity without knowledge of him. Therefore as he is ligh [...], so the soul [Page 108] must be made [...]ig [...]t in [...]im, and enlightned by him, that would have hi [...] [...]ociety: w [...] must b [...] transformed into that natur [...], and made chil­dren of light, who were child [...]en of da [...]knesse. Now as there is a light of understanding, and wisdome in God, and a light of [...]olinesse and purity, so there is in our souls opposite to these▪ a da [...]knesse of ignorance and unbelief, and a da [...]k­ne [...] of sin, and impurity of affections. Now what communion can light have with darknesse? Let every man ask this at his own heart, i [...] there be no happinesse without this society, and no possi­bility of this society, while I remain in da [...]kness▪ then is it not high time to come to the light? This then is the fi [...]st change that is made in a soul, the da [...]knesse of ignorance and unbelief is driven out, by the approach of that gloriou [...] light of the Gospel into the heart, then is dis­covered unto the soul that defo [...]mity of sin, that loathsomnesse in it self, that it never apprehen­ded: then there is a manifestation of the hidden works of darknesse, of the desperat wickednesse of the heart, which lay un-observed, and un­suspected all the while, and now a man cannot in th [...]t view but abhor himself, for that which none else can see in him. And there is withal mani­fested that glorious holinesse and purity in God, that inviolable righteousnesse, that omnipotent power, which formerly were never seriously thought upon; now these are represented to the life before a sinner [...] and to close up all, there is a mani­festation [Page 109] of the grace and goodnesse of God in Ch [...]ist, which di [...]covers a way o [...] salvation, and delivery [...]rom [...]in and wrath; and this perfumeth [...]nd ref [...]esheth all the faculties of the soul. Thu [...] the soul is in a part conformed to that original light, when a beam is sent from it, and hath pie [...]ced into the heart, and scattered the dark­nesse, that did alienat the minds of men f [...]om God. But it i [...] not only an illumination of th [...] fore-face, [...]nd outer-side of the soul, not only a conviction of the judgment in these things, but by vertue of that divine heat that is transmitted with the light of the Gospel, the soul is purified and cleansed from it [...] g [...]osser nature, and so i [...] made transparent, that the light may shine into the very inwards of the hea [...]t; and this is th [...] special point of c [...]nformity to God, to have our souls purged from the da [...]kness of sinful, earthly, and muddy [...]ffections, to have them purified by the light of God, from all the works and lust [...] of da [...]knesse, and the shining beauty of holy [...]f­fections and inclinations, to succeed and fill up the vacant room. If knowledge only reside in our brains, [...]nd send not down warm beam [...] to quicken and inflame the heart, then it is bar [...]en and unfruitful, it is cold and unprofitable. If it hover only alone in our heads, and keep a mo­tion there, but send down no refreshing showre [...] to the affections, which may make us abound in good fruits, then it is like the windy clouds, [...]louds without rain, th [...]t p [...]sse away without [Page 110] any benefit to the thi [...]sty ground. Let us then take thi [...] alongs with u [...], let the impression of this description of the Divine Majesty abide on our he [...]rts. God is light, and if we often ru­minat, and ponder on this, I think i [...] will make us often to [...]efl [...]ct upon our selves, how we are darkness [...], and this will bre [...]d some care [...]ulnesse and de [...]ire in the soul, how to have this da [...]kness removed, that there may be a soul capa [...]le of divine illust [...]ation This is it that advanceth the soul to the n [...]est conformity with God, the looking often upon God, till our souls be inlightned, and our hearts purified, and this [...]g [...]in puts the soul in the nearest cap [...]city for t [...]t blessed co [...]un [...]on with God. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God ▪ Mat. 5.8. T [...]uly▪ it i [...] not p [...]ofoundness of ingine, it is not [...]cuten [...]sse and sharpnesse of wit, it is not preg­nancy in unde [...]standing, or emin [...]ncy in parts, that will dispose the soul to this blessed vision of God, and f [...]ame it to a capacity of fellowship with him; no, there need [...] no extraordina [...]y part [...] for this, nothing but that the heart be pu­rified from corruptions, those inward earthly qua­lities, that are like so many vitious and grosse humou [...], filling the organ of the sight, these, pride, conceit, self-love, p [...]ssi [...]n, anger, mali [...]e, [...]nvy, s [...]ife, covetousnesse, love of pleasures, am­bition, these, I say, that possesse the hearts of the most excellent natural spirits, casts a mist [Page 111] upon [...]ir eyes, and [...] them to see G [...]d, or enjoy that delig [...] in [...]m, that [...]ome poor, weak, and igno [...]an [...] cr [...]ature [...], who [...]e hearts the Lo [...]d hath pu [...]g [...]d [...]om sin, do find in God. The [...]efo [...]e, i [...] any o [...] [...]ou ha [...]e an aim at this, to have fellowship with God, know both [...]or your di [...]ection, and you [...] incou [...]agement, that God is l ght: for your di [...]ection, because that must be your pattern, and if you have no study that way, to be like him in holin sse, you shall not see him. But▪ take it likewise for an incouragement, for that stile carrie [...] not only the necessity of what he must be, but it holds out likewise the foun­ [...]ain and store-house of all our qualifications, for God is light, the original, primitive light, all must borrow of him, and that light is f [...]eely and impa [...]tially communicable to poor sinners: With thee is the fountain of life, and in thy light shall we s [...]e light. Let a soul that app [...]ehends its own da [...]knesse and distance from him, thus in­courage it self, my light is but a beam derived f [...]om his light, and there is no want in him: He is a Sun of [...]ighteousnesse, if I shut [...]ot up my hea [...]t th [...]ough unwillingnesse and unbelief, if I desi [...]e not to keep my sin [...], but would be pu [...]ged from them, then that glorious light may shin [...] without stop and impediment in to my hea [...]t: He is not only light in his own nature, but he is a light to us, and if he please to remove that which is interposed between him and us, it shall [Page 112] be day-light in our hearts again. Thus a [...]oul may strengthen it self to w [...]it on him, and by looking thus up to him, and fixing on him, we shall be enlightned, and our faces not be ashamed.


1 Joh. 1.6.

If we say that we have fellow­ship with him, and walk in darknesse, we lie, &c.

THere is nothing in which men suffers them­selves to be so easily deceived, as in thi [...] highest concernment of Religion, in which the ete [...]nal interest of their [...]ouls lyes: there is no delusion either so grosse, or so universal, in any other thing, as in this thing, in regard of which, all other things are nothing. This hath over­spread the world, (to speak only of that part which pretends to Ch [...]istianity) a strong, perti­nacious, [...]nd blind [...]ancy of being in Jesus Christ, and having interest in salvation. I call it a blind and ignorant [...]ancy, for truly ignorance and d [...]rk­nesse is the strong [...]st foundation of such conceits: Papists call it the mother of devotion; it is true, in this sense it is the mother of a mans groundles [...] de­votion towards himself, that is, of delusion: this, together with self-love, which always hood-wink [...] the mind, and will not suffer [...] serious impartial [Page 113] examination of a mans self, these I say, are the [...]ottom of this vain perswasion, that possesseth the generality of men. Now what it wants of knowledge, it hath of wilfulnesse, it is a con­ceit altogether void of reason, but it is so wil­full, and pertinacious, that it is almost utterly inconvincible, and so it puts souls in the most desperat fo [...]lo [...]n estate that can be imagined, it makes them, as the Apostle speaks, Ephes. 5.6. [...], children of imperswasion, it is ren­dered commonly children of disobedience, and indeed they are joyned together, they are chil­dren of disobedience, carrying the manifest cha­racte [...] of wrath upon them; yet they are with­all, children of imperswasion, uncapable of any perswasion contrary to these deluding insinuati­ons of their own minds, though they be manifest to all men to be sons of disobedience, living in rebellion against God, yet it is not possible to perswade them of it; they are as far from con­viction of what they are, as reformation to what they should be. Notwithstanding if men would but give [...]n impartial and attentive ear to what the Apostle sayes here, I suppose the very frame of his argument is so convincing, that it could not but leave some impression: If any thing will convince a child of imperswasion, the terms here propounded [...]re fittest, God is light, and in him is no darknesse. Hence it follows by inavoidable consequence, as clear as the light, that no man can have fellowship with God, that walks in dark­nesse.

[Page 114]Those that delude themselves in this matter, are of two kinds, the generality pretend to Christianity in general, and to an interest in sal­vation, but if we descend into the chief parts and members of Christianity, as holiness, fellow­ship with God, walking after the Spirit, and such like, these they do not so much as pretend [...] and withal, think they have a dispensation from such strictnesse, and make it a sufficient plea tha [...] they are not such, because they never professed to be such: others again, though fewer, can pre­tend even to these higher points of Christianity, as communion with God, walking after the Spi­rit, and indeed in this they are more consonant to their profession of Christianity: But, as the Apostle saith, there may be a practical li [...] in it too, if we consider and compare their practice with their profession.

I would speak a word by way of preparation to you who are of the first sort, that is the very multitude of professing Christians, because you do not profess so much as others, and do not give out your selves for the students of holiness, you think your selves exempted from the stroak of all this soul-piercing Doctrine, you think rea­d [...]ly, it is not pertinent to apply this to you, of walking contrary to profession, and so commit­ting this gross lie, in not doing the truth. If any say I have fellowship with God, &c. And who will say that [...] say ye, Who will speak such a high word of himself as this? Therefore since you do [Page 115] not presume so high, you think you have escaped the censure that follows.

But I beseech you, consider what your profes­sions import, and what you ingage your selves to, even by the general profession of Christianity. I know you will all say you are Christians, and hope to be saved. Now do ye understand what is included in that, if any man say, that he is a Chri­stian, he really sayes that he hath fellowship with God; if any man say, he is a Christian, he sayes he hath fellowship with Christ, and is partaker of his Spirit; for as the Apostle, Rom. 8.9. de­cl [...]res unto you, If any have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his; that is, he is no Christi­an. For what is it, I pray you, to be a Christi­an? Is it not to be a new creature, formed again by the Spirit of Christ? 2 Cor. 5.17. There­fore in as far as you pretend to be Christians, and yet are not professors of holinesse, and think you have a dispensation from such a walking in God, and after Christ, you fall under a twofold contradiction, and commit a two-fold lie: First, between your profession and practice; then in your profession it self: your practice is directly cross to the very general profession of Christia­nity. But besides that, there is a contradiction in the bosome of your profession; you affirm you are Christians, and yet refuse the profession of holinesse; you say ye hope for Heaven, and yet do not so much as pretend to godlinesse, and walking spiritually. Nay, these you disjoyn in [Page 116] your profession, which a [...]e really one, without which the name of Ch [...]istianity is an empty, vain, and [...]idiculous appellation. There must be then a g [...]eat da [...]knesse of misapprehension in your minds, that you take on the name of Christians, and will not know what it impo [...]ts, and there­fo [...]e in the mean time, you p [...]ofesse that which destroyes and anulls your former profession. Now certainly, this is a g [...]osser lie, a flatter contra­diction, then it needs much inquiry into, to find it out. It is so palpable, that I wonder that these very common and received principles of t [...]uth, do not [...]se up within, to testifie against it: For if ye do not own the profession of holinesse and communion with God, what advantage have you then of Christianity? tell me, What will it se [...]ve you for? Can it save you? Can a bare, empty, contradicted, and blasphemed title save you? and if it do not save you, it will make your condemnation the greater. Let this then fi [...]st be settled in our hearts, and laid down as a principle, that the most general profession of Christianity layes an inviolable bond and obliga­tion upon us, to all that is imported in the par­ticular expressions of a Christians nature, walk, and society; whether we take it so or not, thus it is: to be a Christian infolds all that can be said; and if it do not import these, it is not true to its own signification, nor conformed to Ch [...]ists meaning. You may deprave the world as you please, and deform that holy calling so, [Page 117] as it may suit to your car [...]i [...]ge, but according to this wo [...]d, in this acceptation of it, you shall be judged: and if your Judge shall in that g [...]eat day lay all this great charge upon you, what will it avail you now to absolve your selves in your imaginations, even from the very obligation it self.

Let us suppose then, that you are convicted of this, that Christianity in the most gene [...]al and common acceptation, is inclusive of fellow­ship and communion with God; and that you professe and pretend to both; then let us apply this just rule of the Apostles, to examine the truth and reality of such a profession. The rule is str [...]ight, and so may be a trial both of that which is straight and crooked. Rec [...]um sui & obliqui index: and here the application being made, there is a discovery of the falshood and crookednesse of most mens hearts; this Golden Rule of Examination, is a Rule of Proportion, so to speak, or it is founded upon the harmony that should be between profession and practice, words and deeds, and upon that, conformity should interceed between those that have com­munion one with another. Now apply these to the generality of Christians, and behold, there is no harmony and consent between their speak­ing and walking; their calling and profession, as Christians, imports communion with God, who is the pure unmixt light, and yet they declare otherwise, that themselves are in darknesse of [Page 118] ignorance, and walk in the darknesse of sin, an [...] so that communion must be pretended, wher [...] there is no conformity and likenesse to God in­tended: The result then of [...]ll is this, herein is the greatest lie, and most dangerous withal, com­mitted, It is the greatest li [...], because it takes in all a mans conve [...]ation, which all along make [...] up one great unive [...]sal lie, a lie composed of infinit cont [...]arie [...]ies, of innumerable particul [...]r lies, for eve [...]y step, every word, and action, i [...] in its own nature cont [...]a [...]y to that holy profession, but all combined together, makes up a black constellation of lies; one powerful lie against the t [...]uth. And besides, it is not against a par­ticular truth, but against the whole complex of Christianity. An e [...]or is a lie against such a par­ticular t [...]uth as it opposeth; but the tract and cou [...]se of an ignorant, ungodly conversation, i [...] one continued lie, ag [...]inst the whole bulk [...]nd body of Christianity. It is a lie d [...]awn the length of many weeks, moneths, and year [...], against the whole frame of Christi [...]n profession: for the [...]e is nothing in the calling of a Christian, that i [...] not ret [...]acted, contradicted, and repro [...]ched by it. Oh, th [...]t ye could unbowel your own wayes, and see what a clos [...]er of lies and incon­gruities is in them, what reproache [...] and calum­nies these practical lies c [...]st upon the honour of your Christian Calling, how they tend of their own nature, to the disgracing of the truth, and the blaspheming of Gods Name. T [...]ese things [Page 119] ye would find, if ye would rip up your own hearts and wayes, and if you found how great that lie is, you could not but fear the danger of it; for it being no lesse then a denying of Jesus Christ, and a real abrenunciation of him, it puts you without the refuge of sinners, and is most likely to keep you without the blessed City, for there shall in no wayes enter therein any thing that de­fileth, or maketh a lie, Rev. 21.27. What shall then become of them whose life all alongs is but one continued lie.


1 Joh. 1.6.

If we say that we have fellow­ship with him, and walk in darknesse, we lie, &c.

THat which is the sum of Religion, sincerity, and a correspondency between profession and practice, that is confirmed by reason, and much strengthned by nature it self, so that Re­ligion, Reason, and Nature, conspire in one, to hold out the beauty and comlinesse of sincerity, and to put a note and character of infamy and deformity upon all hypocrisie and deceit, espe­cially in the matters of Religion. There is no­thing so contrary to Religion, as a false appear­ance, [Page 120] a shew of that which is not: for Religion is a most intire and equable thing, like at [...] harmonious in all the pa [...]ts of it, the same wit [...]in and without, in exp [...]ession and action, all cor [...]respondent together. Now to [...] this h [...]m [...]ny, and to make it up of unequal, dissimil [...] pa [...]ts, and to make our pa [...]t give the lie to [...] other, the cou [...]se of a m [...]ns li [...]e, in igno [...]anc [...] negligence, and sin, proclaiming cont [...]ary to [...]h [...] profession of Christianity: this is to make Reli [...]gion a monst [...]uous thing, to deny the nature o [...] it, and in our imaginations to contrive an im [...]possible union of inconsistent things. It is a crea [...]ture made up of cont [...]adiction [...], which can hav [...] no subsistence in the t [...]uth, but only in the fan [...]cies of deluded souls: one professing Christiani­ty, and so by cons [...]quence fellowship with the original light, the Sun of Righteousnes [...], and yet da [...]knesse of igno [...]ance possessing the mind, and the heart ca [...]ied away in th [...] wayes of the lusts of ignorance, and walking in that darknesse, this is a monster in Christianity, one so far mi [...]sh [...]pen, that the very outward form and vi [...]age of it doth not remain. But I told you, reason confirms this, for what more suitable to the very natural frame and constitution of a reasonable beeing, then that the outward man should be the image and expression of the inward, and that they should answer one another, a [...] f [...]ce answers face in the water; that the tongue should be the interpre­ter of the mind, and the actions of a mans life [Page 121] the interpreter of his tongue. Here is that beauti [...]ul proportion and that pleasing harmo­n [...], when all these, though different in their own natu [...]e, yet conjoyn toge [...]er, and make up one sweet conco [...]d. Now t [...]uly, if we t [...]ke upon us the profess [...]on of Christianity, and yet our ordi­nary and habitual speeches are carnal and earth­ly, never salted with grace, often poisoned with blasphemie [...], oaths and cu [...]sings, and often de­filed with filthy speeches, and often inte [...]mingled with [...]ep [...]oaches of othe [...]s, if our conversation be con [...]o [...]med to the course of the world, accor­ding to these lusts that hur [...]y away multitudes o [...] mankind to perdition, and look to the heart within, and behold, never any labour about the pu [...]i [...]ying of it from corruption, never any mor­tification of evil affections, and little or no know­ledge of the t [...]uth, not so much as may let Christ in to the soul: this, I say, is as unreasonable and ab [...]d, as it is irreligious: it wholly per­ve [...]ts that beautiful order, makes an irreconci­liable discord between all the parts in man, that neither mind, nor mouth, nor hands answer one another, nor all of them, or any of them answer that holy calling a man pretends to. Such a one pretends ordinarily the goodnesse of his heart towards God, but now the tongue cannot inter­pret the heart, it is exanctorated out of that na­tural office, for the ordinary current is contrary to that pretended goodnesse of the heart; For a good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, [Page 122] sendeth forth good things, but all these are either evil, or never seasoned with that spiritual good­nesse. Then the wayes and actions of a mans life, which ought to interpret and expound his pro­fessions, these are rendered altogether incapable of that, they give no confirmation to them, but rather [...] mani [...]est contradiction; for what ar [...] your multiplied oaths, drunkennesses, fornicati­on [...], railings, contentions, lyings, Sabbath-profanation [...]? your woful neglect of prayer in secret, and in your families, your continuing in these evil [...] that ever you walked into, what are they, I say, but a manifest violation of both Re­ligion and Reason, and a clear confirmation that ye are liars, and the truth is not in you?

There is something even in nature to decla [...]e the absurdity and unnaturalnesse of this general discordance between mens profession and practice. Look upon all the creatures, and do they not all with one voice proclaim sincerity? Hath not every beast, and every bird its own outward shape, outward gesture, and voice, and external workings, which declare the inward nature of it? And is not this a Staple-known rule in nature, that every thing is known by the effects of it? A Lion by his roaring, [...] Lark by its singing, a Horse by his neighing▪ and [...]n Ox by his lowing, &c. All these speak forth nothing but sincerity, in so much, that if these marks [...]nd signs should be con­founded, [...]nd beasts use them indifferently, all humane knowledge should suddenly fall to no­thing, [Page 123] this would put such a confusion, both in th [...] wo [...]ld and mankind. O, how doth this condemn th [...]s [...] who pretend to thi [...] high Calling of Chri­stianity? and yet there is no way left to discern them by, nothing appearing in them, and ordi­narily proceeding from them, which may give a signification of the inward truth of their fellow­ship with God; but rather that which gives a demonstration of the vanity of the pretention. Ther [...] [...]e [...]e no consent in nature, if tha [...] were [...] ▪ neither is there any harmonious agreement in Religion, where thi [...] proportion and correspon­dence is not kept in a m [...]n [...] life. The very Hea­thens did not account them Philosophers, but those that expressed their Doctrines in wo [...]k [...], [...] well as words; and truly, the liveliest image of truth is in practice: They commended them that were spa [...]ing in words, and abundant in deeds: who had short speeches, but long and large discou [...]ses in their life; and what i [...] this, but that which our Saviour every where, from his own example, inculcat [...] upon us. These word [...] are emph [...]tick, To do the truth, to walk in the light, to do his word, to believe with the heart, and such like: all which declare, that in so far we have the truth, and have fello [...]ship with the light, as it is impressed in the affection, and ex­pressed again in the convers [...]tion; for the infinit truth, and the infinit life, is one, and the origi­nal light, and primitive life and love, is on [...] too, and whoever truly receive [...] the truth and light, [Page 124] as it is, cannot but receive him, as the living truth, and life-giving light, and so be heated and wa [...]m­ed inwa [...]dly by his beams, which will certainly cau [...]e some stirring and wo [...]king without: For as much as in n [...]ture, heat is alwayes wo [...]king, so is the fi [...]e of love kindled in the heart, inces [...]ant that way▪ f [...]ith working by love; fo [...] action is the very life of life, that which both shews it, and preserves it.

Now what shal we say, to ca [...]y these things home to your hearts? Where shall convincing words be had which may break the hardness of your hearts? It is strange that you are in such a deep dream of delusio [...], that nothing can awake you out of it? And how little is it that you have to please your selves into? Some external p [...]iviledges, the Temple of the Lord, his Covenant, and the seals of it, your ordinary bearing the Word, and such like: But are there not many thing [...] in your hearts and wayes, that act the most contradictory lie to these that can be? For wherefore do we thus meet together? Do ye know an end, or propose any? I scarce believe it of the most part. We come out of custome, and m [...]ny as by constraint, and with little or no previous consideration of the great end of this work; and when ye go forth, what fruit appears? Your ordinary, carnal, and civil discourses suc­ceed; and who is it either bows his knee to pray for the divine blessing, or intertains that ho­ly word either in his own meditation, or speaks of it to the edification of others? Are you not, the most part of you, that ground of which [Page 125] Christ speaks, that lyes in the way-side, and eve­ [...]y thing comes and takes the seed up? Do ye either listen and apply your hearts to a present­nesse in hearing? Or is there any more account of it, then a sound in the ear, or any footstep or imp [...]ession left in the heart, more then of the flight of a bird in the air? And alas! how many souls are choaked and stifled? the truth suffoca­ted in the very sp [...]inging, by the thorns of the cares of this world, and the throng and impor­tunity of businesses, and earthly desires. How many good motions come to no m [...]turity by this means? How few of you use to pray in secret, and to dedicat a time for reti [...]ement from the world, and injoyment of God? Nay, you think you are not called to it, and if any be induced to it, and to publick wo [...]ship in their families, yet all the day over is but a flat con­tr [...]diction to that: What earthly-mindednesse? What unholiness of affection? What impu [...]ity of conversation? What one lust is subdued? What one sin mortified? Who increaseth more in knowledge of the truth, or in love of God? Is it not midnight with most part of you? O, the darknesse of the ignorance of your mind [...], by which you know not that Religion you professe, more then Tu [...]ks who do pe [...]secute it. And what are the wayes ye walk into? Are they not such wayes, as will not come to the light, and hate the light, because it reproves them? Joh. 3.19▪ 20. and 11.9, 10. Are they not such, in whic [...] [Page 126] men stumble, though they seem to walk easily and plainly into them? Yet, O that everlasting stumble that is at the end of them! when you shall fall out of one darknesse of sin and delus [...]on, into an utter, extream, eternal da [...]knesse of de­struction and damnation. O, that [...]ea [...]ul dun­geon, and pit of darkness, you post into [...] There­ [...]ore, i [...] you love your own souls, be warned, [...] beseech you be warned to flee from that [...]ter darknesse, be awaked out of your deceiving dreams, and deluding, sel [...]-flattering imag [...] ­on [...], and Christ shall give you light. The di [...] ­very of that grosse da [...]knesse you walked into, in which you did not see whither you w [...]nt▪ I say, the clear discerning of what it is, and whither i [...] leads, is the fi [...]t opening of that Light, the [...]ir [...]t visit of that Morning Star, that brings salvation.

If ye will not be convinced o [...] that [...]nfinit d [...]n­ge [...] you are into, yet ye ar [...] not the [...]urther [...]rom [...]t. He that walketh in darknesse lie [...]h, &c. Hi [...] strong confidence and perswasion hath [...] lie, [...] con­tradiction in the bosome o [...] it, and that will n [...] ­ver bottom any true happinesse. It is a lie act­ed by the hand, the [...]oot, and [...]ll the member [...] ▪ a lie [...]g [...]inst [...]he holy tru [...]h and Word o [...] God, and the very reproach o [...] the Name of Christ▪ [...] lie against your selves, and your own pro [...]ess [...]on [...], a soul-murthering lie, as well as a Christ [...]denyin [...] lie: and this lie (as a holy man saith) hath filled Houses, Cities, Families, Countreys, it hath ev [...] overspred the whole Nation, and filled all with [Page 127] darknesse, horrour, con [...]usion, trouble and an­guish, once being a holy Nation by profession of a Covenant with God, and our open, m [...]ni [...]est▪ universal retraction of that, by an unholy, ungod­ly, and wicked conversation. This h [...]th b [...]ought the sword against a hypocritical Nation, and this will bring that far greater, incomparably more intollerable day of wrath upon the children of disobedience. Therefore let me exhort all of you, in the Name of the Lord, as ye desire to be admitted to that eternally blessed society, with­in the holy City, and not to be excluded among these, who commit abomination, and make a lie, that ye would henceforth impose this necessity upon your selves, or know that it is laid upon you by God, to labour to know the will and truth of God, that you may see that light that shi [...]es in the Gospel, and not only to receive it in your minds, but in your hearts by love, that so you may indeavour in all sincerity, the doing of that truth, the conscionable practising of what you know. And this, as it is a great point of conformity to the light, so it will make you capable of more light from God; [...]or he delights to shew his liberality where he hath any accep­tance. Be not satisfied, O! be not sat [...]sfied with knowing these truths, and discoursing upon them, but make them [...]urther your own, by im­pressing them deeply in your hearts, and expres­sing them plainly in your wayes. This is pure Religion and undefiled, J [...]m. 1.27. And is not [Page 128] this to know me, saith [...]he Lord, Jer. 22.16. Pra­ctice is real knowled [...]e, because it is living knowledge, it i [...] the ve [...]y life and soul o [...] Ch [...]i­stianity, when there needs no more but the inti­mation of hi [...] will to c [...]r [...]y the whole man: T [...]is is that we would all aspire unto, and not satis­fie our selves in our poor attainments below this.


1 Joh. 1.7.

But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Iesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

ARt is the imitation of Nature, and true Religion is a divine Art, that consists in the imitation of God himself, the Author of Nature. Therefore it is a more high and tran­scendent thing, of a sublimer nature, then all the Arts and Sciences among men; those reach but to some resemblance of the wisdom of God, expressed in his works, but this aspires to an imi­tation of himself in holinesse, which is the glory of his N [...]me, and so to a fellowship with himself. Therefore there is nothing hath so high a pat­tern, or sublime an end, God himself, who is in­finitly [Page 129] above all, i [...] the pattern, & socie [...]y with God, i [...] [...] end o [...] i [...]: and so it cannot choice, but where Religion makes an [...]olid impression on a soul, it [...] ex [...]eedingly raise and advance it to the most he [...]oi [...]k and noble resolutions that it is capable o [...], in re [...]pect o [...] which elevation of the [...]oul af­te [...] God, the highest project [...], the greatest aspi­rings, and the most elevating de [...]igns of men, a [...]e nothing but low, base, and wretched, having nothing of true greatnesse of mind in them, but running in an earthly and [...]did channel, infinit­ly below the poo [...]e [...]t soul, that is lifted up to God.

Since we have then so high a pattern as God, becau [...]e he is infini [...]y [...]emoved from us in his own natu [...]e, we have him exp [...]essed to us under the name and notion of light, which makes all things manifest. Not only as dwelling in inac­c [...]ssi [...]le l [...]ght, that is, in his own incomprehen­s [...]e, ine [...]able essence▪ even before this light wa [...] created, for he is in the light, and was in the light, when there was no Sun to give light, be­cause he was in hi [...]self invironed (so to speak) [...]i [...]h the infinit light and splendor of his own un­derstanding, and beauty of his own holinesse, and so dwelling in an all-fulnesse, and self-sufficiency of blessednesse. Not only is he thus in the light, bu [...] he is a light to poor sinners, the most com­municative being, that ceaseth not continually to send [...]orth streamings of that light and life in­to dark and dead souls: and therefore he is not [Page 130] only light in himself, but a Sun of Righteousness, m [...]st beneficial in hi [...] influences, most impartial and f [...]ee in his illumination, and so he is often called, my light, and my salvation, our light, a light to me, Psal. 27.1. Micah 7.8. Isai. 42.6▪ 7. Now, it is this emission of light from him, that fi [...]st drives away that gross darknesse that is over [...]oul [...], for till then, in the darkness all was hid and covered, nothing seen, neither our selves▪ nor God, neither the temper of our hearts, nor the course of our w [...]es, nor the end they lead to. But it is the breaking in of a beam of that Sun of Righteousness, that maketh any such d [...]s­covery; as mo [...]es a [...]e not seen till the Sun shine, though the house be full of them; in da [...]knesse there is nothing but confusion and disorder▪ and light only makes that disorder visible to the soul, to the affecting of the hea [...]t. Now when once the soul hath received that light, there is a desire kindled in the heart after more of it, as when the eye hath once perceived the sweetnes [...] and pleasantnesse of the light, it opens it self, and exposeth it self to a [...]uller reception of more: and so the soul that is onc [...] thus happily preven­ted by the fi [...]st salutation, and visit of that day-sp [...]ing from on high, while he was sitting in dark­nesse, and in the sh [...]dow of death, Luk. 1.78, 79. afterward, follows after that light, and desires nothing more, then to be imbosomed with it: That tender preventing mercy, so draw [...] the heart after it, that it can never be at perfect rest, [Page 131] t [...]ll the night be wholly spent, and all the sha­dows of it removed, and the Sun clearly up above the Horizon, and that is the day of that clear vision of Gods face. But in the mean time, this is the great ambition and indeavour of such an one, to walk in that light, and this is the very intertainment of that fellowship with God; he is already in the light, that is to say, he is tran­slated from a state of darknesse to light, and in­dowed with the living and saving knowledge of God in Iesus Christ, this is his state; he is in the l [...]ght, one inlightned from above, having his eye [...] opened to discover the mystery of the iniquity of his own heart, and to see far off, to that bot­tomlesse pit of misery, which his way would lead him to; one who hath by this divine illustrati­on discovered eternal things, and seen things not seen, and withall gotten some knowledge of sal­vation, by the remission of sins. Now such an one, being thus in the light▪ his duty is, and his infinit dignity besides, to wa [...]k in that light, that i [...], to lead all his life under that eternal light of God, which shines in the Word, and to bring it all forth in his view; to make our whole course a progressive motion towards Heaven; wherein that glorious light shines most gloriously. It is almost all one with that of Pauls, to have our conversation in Heaven; for, to walk in the light, it is a kind of elevation of our actions, a raising them up to Heaven, to that pure light, for after that, and toward that, is the souls design.

[Page 132]Now to exp [...]esse to you in what it co [...]ists, I desi [...]e not to b [...]nch it forth in many particula [...]s, [...] [...]athe [...] dist [...]act the mind, then aff [...]ct the hea [...]t; only you may know, it c [...]nsi [...] especial­l [...] into the [...] re [...]i [...]ements [...]f the [...]oul to G [...]d, an [...] the ou [...]ward [...]i [...]ing of that light, in our conve [...]ation to oth [...]. These are the chief pa [...]ts o [...] it, b [...]owin [...], from hi [...] light, and then [...] and im [...]ting [...] to other [...], by a holy con­ve [...]sati [...]n. T [...]u [...], we must needs conceive that t [...]e most lively and [...]mixt par [...]king of the ligbt of G [...]d, [...] the sweetest [...]o [...]iety with [...], is in the sec [...]et withd [...]wings of the soul f [...]om the world, and reposes up [...]n G [...]d, tho [...]e little intervals, and, as it we [...]e, [...] hour [...] of fellowship with God, [...]hat are taken f [...]om the multitude and [...] of our busin [...]sse▪ these a [...]e the [...]itte [...] oppo [...]tuni­ties of the transforming the soul into hi [...] simili­tude, and of purifying it as he is pure, of fi [...]ling it with divine light and love; f [...]r then the heart lyes, as it we [...]e perpendicularly under his beams, and is opened be [...]o [...]e him, to give admission and ent [...]y to this saving, t [...]an [...]fo [...]ming light; and it i [...] the shining of Gods countenance then upon the so [...]l, that d [...]aws it most toward [...] conformity with him, and leaves an impression of light [...]nd love upon the soul Oh, that you were mo [...]e acquainted with this, this apric [...]tion, so to speak, that i [...], s [...]nning your selve [...], and warming in t [...]e Sun, the exposing and opening of your hea [...]t [...] f [...]eq [...]ently in s [...]et, before this Sun of [Page 133] Righ [...]eou [...]sse. N [...]w, this, if you were acquaint with it, would make your light so to shine before men, as your He [...]venly Father may be glor [...]fied, M [...] 5.16. a [...]d that is the walking in th [...] light of God. This makes a Christian to come fo [...]th, as Moses from the Mount, with his [...]ace shining; he co [...]es out f [...]m the retired acc [...]sses to G [...]d, wi [...]h a lust [...]e upon hi [...] carriage, that may bea [...] ­tifie the Gospel▪ and (as one saith w [...]ll) with the Tab [...]e [...] of the Law in both his hand [...], w [...]itten in hi [...] p [...]actice, the light of the Law shining in his li [...]e; and truly this is the Ch [...]istians [...] in his low [...]r [...]phere, w [...]e [...]ein he ca [...]ies ab [...]ut that light that is de [...]ived f [...]om the hig [...]er light, in all his con [...]erse with men, it shine [...] from him to the glorifying of him that i [...] the F [...]ther [...]f lights, walking [...]igh [...]e [...]usly and sobe [...]ly, without offen [...]e, doing goo [...] to all, [...]spe [...]ially the child [...]en of light, extending [...]ces of love and benevo [...]lence to eve [...]y one, forbea [...]ing and forgiving of­fence [...], not partaking with other mens sin [...], and fin [...]ly, declaring in wo [...]d and deed, that we have communion with the fountain of pure light, and one day expect to be translated out of this lower Or [...], whe [...]e we are so far distant from him, and fixed in the highest of all; where we may h [...]ve the immediat, full, uninterrupted, and clearest aspect of his countenance, which shall then make the desc [...]iption that is here given of God, com­municable to us, that, as he is light, and in him is no darkness, so we being fully and perfectly [Page 134] shined upon by him, may be light likewise, with­out any mixtu [...]e o [...] d [...]knesse, as here it is not.

Now, my beloved in the Lord, this is that we are called unto, to walk thus in the light, in the light of obedience and sanctification, and th [...]t is the great thing ye would lea [...]n to aspi [...]e unto, rather then to enjoy the light of consolation: Indeed I conceive, that which maketh many of u [...] walk in darknesse, as i [...] spoken in Isa. 50.10. that is, without com [...]ort, peace, and joy, and without clear disce [...]ning our interest in God, i [...], because we walk in another da [...]knesse, that is, of sin and distance from God; the one da [...]knesse is introductive of the other, nay, they cannot be long without other, the da [...]k cloud of bold sin­ning, and ca [...]elesse unci [...]cumspect walking, that cannot but eclip [...]e the light of consolation, and fill the soul with some ho [...]rour, anguish, and con­fusi [...]n. Therefore, if ye would walk in the light of joy and comfort, O, take heed nothing be in­terposed between God and your souls: you must likewise walk in the light of his Law, which is, as a lamp to the feet, and this light, as the ray, begets that light of comfort, as the splendor, which is the second light of the Sun: I know i [...] is a disconsolat and sad condition to walk with­out the light of the knowledge of our interest in God; but I would earnestly recommend unto you two things to support you, and help you in that; one is, that you do not give over the chief point of this society with God, that is, walking [Page 135] in the light of his Law and Commandments, but that you do th [...] more se [...]iously add [...]esse to the one, that you want the other. C [...]tainly, it ought to be no hinderance of your obedience, and patient continuing in obedience, that you know not your own interest, and that his coun­tenance shines not so upon you; you know that sweet [...]esolution, I will wait upon the Lord who hides his face, &c. Isai. 8.17. Mic. 7.7. and his own command, Isai. 50.10. Hos. 12.6. Ye that walk in such a darknesse, neve [...]thelesse, stay upon God. Truly there could be no g [...]eater evi­dence of thy interest, then thi [...], to give patient attendance upon him in the wayes of obedience, till he shine forth; this would in due time bring forth thy righteousnesse as the light, if we would not substract and withdraw our selves from un­der the light, because it is presently over-cloud­ed. Then, moreover you would know, that all this while that your interest in Christ lyes dark, and under cloud, you should then be most in the applic [...]tion of that blood to your souls, most in trusting and staying upon the Name of God, and his absolute promises. Suppose thou do not as yet know that he is thine, yet dost thou not know that he is made thine by believing in him? and therefore while it is inevident that it is al­ready, thou ought so much the more to labour, that what is not, may be. Now, if thou canst not apply him to thy soul, as thine own possessi­o [...], yet thou mayest, and so much the more [Page 136] oug [...]test to apply thy soul to him, an [...] re [...]ign and offer thy self to him, as willing to be his posse [...] ­sion, to be his, and no more thine own: in a word, when thine own expe [...]imental feeling of the wo [...]k of Gods Spirit fails within thee, th [...]n so much the more in [...]ist, and dwell upon the me­ditation and belies o [...] the gene [...]al p [...]omi [...]es, which a [...]e the p [...]oper object of faith, and not [...]: as our own inte [...]est is [...]he proper obj [...]ct o [...] [...], and not of saith Therefo [...]e the de [...]ect in the one, need [...] not re [...]ound upon the other. To [...]um up all in one word, i [...] thou thinkest that thou hast not y [...]t believed in Christ, and [...] no inte [...]est in him, I will not dispute with thee, to pe [...]swade t [...]ro [...]hat thou art mistaken, for all thi [...] debate would h [...] in the [...], bec [...]use thou a [...]t in d [...]rkness; but one th [...]g I would s [...]y unto thee, labour to do that whic [...] th [...]u would do, which thou must do, if [...]uc [...] a c [...]e were granted; suppose it were so, that thou had no in [...]e [...]est in him, what would thou do then? I am sure th [...] would say, I would labo [...] by any [...] to have him mine; why then, thou knows that can­not be before believing, and [...]eceiving him [...] hi [...] promises, and not at all, but by believing. Therefore, since that this is it you must at length tu [...]n unto, suppose the case were decided, why do ye not presently [...]at [...]er without more wea [...]ying your selves, in the greatnesse of your way, tu [...]n in hither, as to a place of refuge, without further disputing in the businesse, [...]nd so by believing in Christ, and waiting upon him in his ways, you shall put that o [...]t of q [...]e [...]ion, w [...]ich debating would [Page 137] make an end [...]e [...] qu [...]s [...]ion. The Lord make you wi [...]e to know the t [...]ing [...] that belongs to your peace.


1 Joh. 1.7.

— And the blood of Iesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

CAn two walk together except they be agreed? A [...] darknesse cannot have fellowship with lig [...], till it be changed into some con [...]o [...]mity to t [...]e light, even [...]o t [...]ere can neither be any fel­lowship in walking, nor con [...]ormity in nature, be­tween God and u [...], who are enemies to him by n [...]ure, unlesse there be some agreement and reconcilia [...]ion os the difference. Now here is that which maketh the atonement, The blood of Iesus his Son [...]leanseth us from all sin. This is it that takes away the difference between God [...] men, and makes reconciliation for us; This blood hath qu [...]nched [...]he fl [...]me of indignation and w [...]ath kindled in Heaven against us. And this alone can quench and extinguish the flames and [...]u [...]ies of a tormented soul, that is burnt up with the app [...]ehension of his anger: All other things thou can [...]pply, or cast upon them, will be as oyl to increase them, whether it be to cool thy self in the shadows of the worlds delights, such a poor [...]hi [...]t as the rich glutton would have taken in hell; those drops of cold water that thou can dis [...]ill out of the c [...]eature, will never give any solid ease to thy conscience; thou may abate the [...]ury of it, or put it off for a season, thou [Page 138] who is afraid of hell and wrath, may procure so [...]e short vacancy from those terrours, by turning to the world: but certainly they will recurr [...]gain, and break out in a g [...]eater fire, like a fever that is not diminished, but increased by much drinking cold water: or if thou go about to refresh thy self, and sati [...]fie thy challenges by thy own at­tainments in Religion, and by reflection upon thy own heart and wayes, finding something in thy esteem, that may counterballance thy evils, and so give thee some confidence of Gods avour, these, I say, are but deceitful things, and will never either quench the displeasure of God for thy si [...]s, but rather add [...]ewel to it, because thou justifies thy self, which is an abomination before him; nor yet will it totally extinguish and put to silence the clamours of thy conscience, but that some day thou shall be spoiled of all that sels-confidence, and sel [...]-defence, and find thy sel [...] so much the more displeasing to God, that thou did please thy self, and undertook to pacifie him. Therefore, my beloved, let me above all things recommend this unto you, as the prime [...]oundation of all Religion, upon which all our peace with God, and pardon of sin, and fellowship with God must be built, that the blood of Jesus Christ be applyed unto your consciences by be­lieving, and that first of all, upon the discovery of your enmity with God, and infinit distance from him, you apply your hearts unto this blood, which is the atonement, to the reconciling sa­crifice, [Page 139] which alone hath ve [...]tue and power with God. Do not imagine that any peace can be without this; would ye walk with God, which is a [...]dg [...] of ag [...]eement [...] would ye have [...]ellowship with God, which i [...] [...] [...]uit of [...]econciliation? would ye have pardon o [...] sins, and the pa [...]ticular knowledge of it, whi [...]h is the greatest ef [...]ect of [...]avour? and all this, without and before appli­cation of Christ who is our peace, in whom the Fa­ther only is well pleased; will you seek these, and yet di [...]pu [...]e this point of believing, as if it we [...]e possible to attain these without the sp [...]inkling of that blood on the hea [...]t, which indeed clean [...]eth it f [...]om an evil accusing conscience▪ If you de­sire to walk in the light, as he is in the light, why wea [...]y ye your selves in by-waye [...]? Why take ye such a comp [...]sse o [...] endlesse and [...]ruitlesse agitati­on, and pe [...]plexity of mind? and will not rather come straight way at it, by the door of Iesu [...] Christ, [...]o [...] he is the new and living way, into which you must enter, if ye would walk in the light; and the wounds of his side, out of which this blood gushed, these open you a way of ac­cesse to him, because he was pierced for us. That st [...]eam of blood, i [...] ye come to it, and fol­low it all along, it will certainly carry you to the Sea of light and love, where you may have fel­lowship with God. And O, How much comfort is in it, that there is such a stream running all the way of our walking with God? all the way of our fellowship, that fountain of Christs blood runs [Page 140] not d [...]y, but [...]ns along with the believer, for the cleansing of his after pollution [...] ▪ of [...]is de­filements, even in the very light it self. This then, as it is the fi [...]st foundation of peace and communion with God, so it is the pe [...]petual as­surance and confirmation of it, that which first gives boldnesse, and that alone which still c [...]n­t [...]nue [...] boldnesse in it. It is the fi [...]st ground, and the constant warrand and secu [...]ity of it, with­out which it would be as soon dissolved as made. If that blood did not run along all this way, to w [...]sh all his steps, if the way of light and fellow­ship with God, were not watered, and re [...]eshed with the continual current of this blood, certain­ly none could walk in it without being consum­ed. The [...]efore it is, that the mercy of God and ric [...]es of grace in Christ, hath provided this blo [...]d for u [...], both to cleanse the sin [...] of i [...]norance, be­fore [...]elieving, and the sin [...] o [...] light, after believ­ing, t [...]at a poor sinner may constantly go on his w [...], and not be broken off [...]rom God, by his in­firmitie [...] and e [...]capes in the way.

You [...]ee then the Gospel [...]uns in these two gol­den stream [...], pardon of sin, and purity of walking; they run undividedly, all along in one channel, yet without confusion one with another, as it is reported of some great Rivers, that run toge­ther between the same Banks, and yet retains distinct colour [...] and natures all the way, till they part. But these streams that glad the City of God, never part one from another; the cleansing blood, [Page 141] an [...] the pu [...]ifying light, [...] a [...]e [...] intire a [...]d pe [...]fect [...]um of the Gospel; pu [...]ification [...]rom sin, the guilt of [...], and the pu [...]ity of [...]alking in the light, flowing from that, makes up the [...]ull c [...]m [...]l [...]xion o [...] Chr [...]ianity; w [...]ich are [...]o nearly conjoyned to [...]ethe [...], that i [...] they be di­vided, they cease to be, and cannot any of them subsist, save in mens deluded imagination. The end o [...] [...]shing in the blood of Christ i [...], that we may co [...]e to this light, and have fellowship with it; for the dar [...]nesse of hell, the utter da [...]kness of the curse of God, which overspreads the un­believing soul, and eclipses all the light o [...] Gods countenance from him, that da [...]k and thick cloud of guiltinesse, that heap of unrenewed conver­sation, this, I say, must be removed by the cleans­ing of the blood of Christ, and then the soul is admitted to injoy that light, and walk into it. And it is removed chiefly for this end, that there may be no impediment in the way of this fellow­ship; this blood cleanseth, that you being cleans­ed, may hence [...]orth walk in purity; and there is no pu [...]ity like that of the light of Gods coun­tenance, and commands: and so you are washed in the blood of Christ, that you may walk in the light of God, and take heed that you defile not your garments again. But if so be, (and cer­tainly it will be, considering our weaknesse [...]) that you defile your selves again, like soolish children, who after they have washed, run to the puddle again, forget [...]ing that th [...]y were cleansed; [Page 142] if either you [...] daily infi [...]mities tro [...]ble, or some grosser pollution defile and waste you [...] cons [...]i­ence, know th [...]t this blood [...]uns all along in the same channel of your obligation to holy walking, and it is as sufficient now as ever, to cleanse you from all sin, from sins of daily incursion, and sins of a grosser nature, there is no exception in that blood, let there be none in your application to i [...], and apprehension of it. Now, this is not to give boldnesse to any man to sin, or continue in sin, because of the lengthned use, and continued vertue and efficacy of the blood of Christ; for if any man draw such a result f [...]om it, and improve it to the advantage of his flesh, he declare [...] him­self to have no portion in it, never to have been w [...]shed by it; for what soul can in sobriety look upon that blood shed by the Son of God, to take away the sins of the worl [...], and find an emboldning to sin from that view? Who can wash and clea [...]e here, and presently think of defilement, but with indignation?

I spe [...]k these things the rather, because there is a twofold misapprehension of the Gospel among Christians, and on both hands much darknesse [...]nd stumbling is occasioned. We have poor narrow spirits, and do not take intire truth in its full comprehension, and so we are as unfit and unequal discerners of the Gospel, and receivers of it, as he that would judge of a sentence by one word, of a book by one page, of a harmony by one note, and of the world by one parcel of [Page 143] it. The beauty and harmony of things consists in their intire union; and though there should appear many discrepancies, [...]nd unpleasant dis­cords in several parts, yet all united together, make up a pleasant consort. Now this is our chil­dish foolishnesse, that we look upon the Gospel only by halfs, and this being alone seen, begets misapprehensions and mistakes in our minds; for ordinarily we supply that which we see not with some fancy of our own. When the blood of Ie­sus Christ is holden out in its full vertue, in the large extent of its efficacy, to cleanse all sin, and to make peace with God, and wipe away all transgressions, as if they h [...]d never been; the generality of you never apprehending much your own desperat condition, nor conceiving an abso­lute necessity of a change, you think this is all that is in the Gospel, and begin to flatter your selves, and blesse your selves, though you live in the imaginations of your own hearts, and never apprehends the absolute need, and inevitable sequel of walking in purity aster pardon. And alace, there is something of this sometimes o­vertakes the he [...]rts of true believers, in the slight and overly consideration of the mercy of God, [...]d blood of Christ: you do not lay the constr [...]int upon your hearts to [...] holy conversation. I say, it is not because you apprehend that blood, that you take more liberty to the flesh, but rather because you too slightly and superf [...]cially consider it, and that but the one half of it, without [Page 144] p [...]e [...]cing into the p [...]oper end of that clean [...]ing, which i [...], that we may walk in p [...]ity.

But on the other hand, some believin [...] souls, having their desi [...]es inla [...]ged afte [...] more [...]oline [...]s and confo [...]mity to God, and app [...]ehen [...]ing not only the necessity of it, but the beauty and com­linesse of it, yet finding withal, how infinitly short they come, and how o [...] their pu [...]po [...]es are broken and disappointed, and them [...]elves plunged in the mi [...]e of their own filthinesse, this doth discourage them, and dri [...]e [...] them to such a despondency, and dejection of spirit, that [...]hey a [...]e like to give over the way of holinesse as de­ [...]pe [...]at. Now my beloved, for you who look upon the Gospel by a parcel, and such a parcel as injoyns much upon you, I would ea [...]nestly be­seech, to open and inlarge your hea [...]ts to receive the full body of the truth, to look upon th [...] cleansing blood, as well as that pure light; to consider the perpetual use of the one; untill you have fully attained the other. Know that the fo [...]tai [...] is kept open, and not shut, not only to admit you to come at fi [...]st, but to give ready ac­cesse in all after-defilements, and there is no wo [...]d more comprehensive then this here, it cleanseth from all sin. All thy exceptions, doubts, and difficulties, are about some particular sin [...], and circumstances; thy debates runs upon some exception, but here is an universal comprehen­sive word, that excludes all exception; no kind of sin, either for quality, or degree, or circum­stance, [Page 145] is too great for this blood; and there­fore as you have reason to be humbled under your [...]a [...]lings, so there is no reason to be discou­raged, but rather to reviv [...] your spirits and vi­gour again, in the study of this walking in the light, knowing that one day we shall be in the light, [...]s he is in it. Nay, take this alongs with you, as your strength, and incouragement to your duty, as the greatest provocation to mor [...] purity, that there is so constant readiness of par­don i [...] that blood.


1 Joh. 1.8.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive our selves, and the truth is not in us.

THe night is far spent, the day is at hand, Rom. 13.12. This [...]i [...]e is but as night, even to the godly: there is some light in it, some star­light, but it is mixt with much darknesse of ig­norance and sin; and so it will be, till the Sun arise, and the morning of their translation to Heaven come. But though it be called night in one sense, in regard of that perfect, glorious▪ perpetual day in Heaven: yet they are called the children of light, and of the day, and are said to walk in the light, and are exhorted to walk ho­nestly [Page 146] as in the day ▪ because though there be a mixture of d [...]knesse in them, of weaknesse in their judgment [...], and impuri [...]y in their affecti­ons, yet they are na [...] ad maj [...], born to greater things, and aspiring to that pe [...]fect day: the [...]e i [...] so much light, as to disce [...]n these night-mon­ster [...], their own cor [...]uption [...], and Satans tem­ptation [...], to fight continually against them; they are about this noble wo [...]k, the pu [...]i [...]ying them­selves from sin and da [...]knesse: so that they lye in the middle, between the light of Angels [...]nd g [...]ified Spirit [...], that hath no darkness in it; an [...] the midnight of the rest of the world, who a [...]e b [...]ried in da [...]knesse and wickednesse, and lye intom [...]ed in it, a [...] the wo [...]d is, 1 Ioh. 5.19. The who [...]e world [...] lyeth in wickednesse, but we kn [...]w that we are of God: Therefore the Apostle subjoyns here very seasonably a caution, or cor­rection of that which wa [...] spoken, about the walk­ing in the light, and fellowship with God, which word [...] sound out some perfection, and to our self flatte [...]ing mind [...], might possibly suggest some too high opinion of our selves. If we, even we th [...]t have fellowship with God, even I the Apostle, and you b [...]lievin [...] Ch [...]istians, if we say, we have no sin, no darknesse in us, we do but deceive our s [...]l [...]es, and deny the truth. But who will say that I have no sin? Solomon gives a challenge to all the world. Pro. 20▪9. Who can say, I have made my h [...]art clean, I am pure from my sin? And i [...]deed, the [...]e is no man so far a st [...]anger to [Page 147] himself, but if he in sobriety and calmnesse re­tire into his own heart, the very evidence of the impurity of [...]t, will extort this confession from him. As it useth to be said of an Atheist, he feels that Divine Majesty, within in his secret though [...]s and conscience, which he denyeth with his mouth, and he is often forced to tremble at the remembrance of him whom he will not confesse; so if there be any so far bewitched and inchanted into so gross and impudent a delusion, as to assert his own perfection, and vacancy from sin, and freedom from obligation to any divine command; (as this time is fruitful of such mon­sters) yet I dare be bold to say, that in the se­cret and quiet reflections on themselves, they find that which they will not confesse: Inwardly they feel what outwardly they deny, and cannot but some time or other be filled with horrour and anguish in their consciences, by that inward­ly witnessing and checking principle, when God shall give it liberty to exe [...]ce its power over them, The end of such will be, as of professed Atheist [...], they pretend the securest contempt, [...]nd fearlessest misregard of God, but then, when he awakes to judgement, or declares himself in some thing extraordinary, they are subject to the most panick fears and terrours, because then, there is a party armed within against them, which they had disarmed in security, and kept in chains. So, whensoever such men, of such high pretensi­ons, and sublime professions, who love to speak [Page 148] no [...]hing but mysteries, and presume to such glo­ [...]iou [...] [...]i [...]cove [...]ies of new lights, of spiritual my­ste [...]ies, when these, I say, [...]ave flattered them­selves [...] a season, in the monstruous, exorbitant conceit of their own pe [...]fection, and immunity from [...]; and, it may be, deceived some others too, when they have lived s [...]me time in this golden d [...]eam of innocency, the time will come, either when the mighty hand of God is on them here▪ or when they must enter eternity, that they shall awake, and find all their iniquities in [...]attel array, mustered by the Lord of hosts, in their con [...]cience against themselves; and then they shall be the [...]a [...]est ex [...]mples of fear, terrour, and unbelief, who p [...]etended to the greatest confidence, clea [...]nesse, and innocency. My be­loved, let us establish this as an infallible rule, to discern the spirits by, and to know what Re­ligion is, if it tend to glorifie G [...]d, and [...]base man, to make him more humble, as well as holy, if it give the t [...]ue and perfect discovery of God to man, and of man to himself, that is true Re­ligion and undefiled. But away with these sublime speculations, these winged and airy mysteries, those pretensions to high discoveries, and new light [...], i [...] the [...] do not increase that good old light of humble walking with thy God ▪ &c. if they tend to the loosing of the obligation of divine command [...] off thee; if they ravish man so high, that he seeth not himself any more to be a poor miserable and darkned creature. Certainly, that [Page 149] is no fellowship with the pure light, which is not continually the discovery and further man [...]festa­tion o [...] more sin and darknesse in us. For, what is a mans light in the da [...]k night of this li [...]e? but the clearer [...]ight of that darknesse that is in man; and his holinesse, what is it? but the abhorring of himself for that. It is true, something [...]ur­ther is attained then the knowing of this, but it is alwayes so far short of that original pattern, that the best way of exp [...]essing our conformity to it, is by how much we apprehend our distance [...]nd difformity from it.

But, my beloved, this is not all that is here meant, nor must we take it so grosly, as if this did only check the open professors of a sinlesse, spotlesse sanctity. Nay certainly, there is ano­ther way of saying this, then by the tongue, and many other wayes of self-deceiving, then that grosse one, many more universal and more dan­gerous, because lesse discernable. There is something of this, that even true believers may fall into, and there is something of it more com­mon to the generality of professed Christians.

Among believers in Christ, there is much dif­ference in self-judging; extream cont [...]arieties, both between diverse persons, and in one and the same, at diverse times. You know that some are kept in the open view of their own sins and infirmities, and while they aim at holiness, they are wholly disabled to that worthy indeavour, by their discouragements, arising from the appre­hension [Page 150] of their own weaknesse, and infinit short­coming. Now to elevat and strengthen such [...]pi­rits, that word was seasonably cast in, and the blood of Iesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. For i [...] properly belongs to the comfort of such faint­ing [...]oul [...], and it is all one as if he had said, up, and be doing, and the blood of Christ shall clean [...]e your evil doings. He goeth not about to per­sw [...]de them to have better thoughts of them­selves, or lower apprehensions of their sins, but only to have higher and more suitable thoughts of Christ, and the vertue of his blood. And thi [...] is the only cure, not to abate from that low esteem of our selves, but to add to the esteem▪ and grow in the lively apprehension of Christ. I would not counsel you to think your sel [...]e [...] bet­ter, but to think better of him, that all your confidence may a [...]ise from him.

Now there are others, and it may be, that same pe [...]son at another time, (for the [...]ind of temptation windes about, and is sometimes in one corner, sometimes in another; our adve [...]a­ry useth many stratagems, and will seem to flee before us, in yeelding us the victory over our unbelief, that he may in his flight retu [...]n, and throw some other dart upon us unawares;) when they have attained any [...]e [...]vency of desire [...], and hight of design after holinesse, and walking with God, and thi [...] i [...] seconded with any lively in­deavours, and this confirmed and st [...]engthned with these presences of God, a [...]d accesses into [Page 151] the soul, that fill it with some sweetnesse; then, I say, they are ready to app [...]ehend too highly of themselves, as if they had a [...]tained, and to look below upon others with some disdain, then the [...]e is not that p [...]esent discov [...]ry of themselves, that may intermingle humble mourning with it, but a kind of unequal measuring their attainments by their desi [...]es, which in all true Ch [...]istians are ex­ceedingly mounted above themselves. Now in­deed, this is in effect, and really to say, we have no sin. He [...]ein is a delusion, a self-deceiving fancy, that begets too much self-pleasing. Let us know where our stance is, infinitly below either our duty, or our desi [...]e, and re-mind this often, that we may not be in haza [...]d to be drunk with self-love, and self-deceit in this particular. Be­sides, are there not many Ch [...]istian [...], that ha [...]ing been once illuminated, and had some serious ex­ercises in their souls, both of sorrow for sin, and fear of wrath, and comfort by the Gospel, and being accustomed to some discharge of religious duties in private and publick, they sit down here, and hath not mind of further progresse; they think if they keep that stance they are well, and so have few designs or indeavours after more communion with God, or puri [...]ication from sin. Now this makes them degenerat to fo [...]mality, they wither and become ba [...]en, and are exposed by this to many temptations, which overcome them. But, my beloved, is not this really and indeed to say, we have no sin? Do not your walk­ing, [Page 152] and the postu [...]e of your spirits import so much, as if you h [...]d no sin to wrestle with, no more holinesse to aspire unto, as if you had no further race to run to obtain the Crown. Do not deceive your selves, by thinking it sufficient to have so much honesty and grace, as in your opinion may put you over the black line of ir­regeneration, as if ye would seek no more then i [...] precisely necessary for salvation? Truly, if ye be so minded, you give a miserable hint, that you are not yet translated from the black side of darknesse. I do not say that all such are uncon­verted, but if you continue thus, without stir­ing up your selves to a daily conversion and r [...] ­novation, ye do too much to blot out the evi­dence of your conversion, and at length it may prove to some a self-destroying deceit, when they shall find themselves not past over that line that passeth betw [...]en Heaven and hell, which th [...]y were studying to find out only, that they might passe so far over it, as might keep their soul and hell asunder, without earnest desires of advance­ment towards Heaven in conformity to God. Now for the generality of professed Christians, though there be none hath that general confession of sin oftner and more readily in their mouths, yet, I suppose, it is easie to demonstrat that there is much of this self-de [...]eit in them▪ which declares that the truth is not in them. You know both God and man constructs of men by their w [...]yes, not by their words; and the Lord may inter­pret [Page 153] your hearts by their disposition, and raise a collection [...] A [...]heism out of all together▪ [...]he fool hath said in his heart, &c. Even so say I, ma­ny p [...]etended Christians say in their heart, We have no sin. How prove ye that? I seek nothing else to prove it, then your own ordinary clear­ings and excusings of your selves; ye confesse ye are sinners, and break all the Commands, yet come to particulars, and I know not one of twenty that will cordially or seriously take with almost any sin, yea, what you have granted in a general, you retract and deny it in all the parti­culars; which declares both that even that which you seem to know, you are altogether strangers to the real truth of it, and that you a [...]e over-blinded with a fond love of your selves. I know not [...]o what purposes your general acknowledg­ments are, but to [...]e a mask or shadow to de­ [...]eive you, to be a blind to hide you from your selves; since the most part of you, whensoever challenged of any particular sin, or inclination to it, justifie your selves; and when ever ye ar [...] put to a particular confession of your sins, you have all wrapt up in such a bundle of co [...]fusion, that you never know one sin by another. Cer­tainly, ye deceive your selves, and the truth is not in you.

Let me add moreover another instance; Do you not so live, and walk in sin so securely, so impenitently, as if you had no sin, no fear of Gods wrath? Do not the most part contented­ly [Page 154] and peaceably live in so much ignorance of the Gospel, as if they had no need of Christ? and so by consequence, as if they had no sin. For if you did believe in the heart, and indeed consider, that your hearts are sinks of iniquity and impurity, would you not think i [...] nec [...]ssary to apply to th [...] Physician? And would you not then labour to know the Physician, & the Gospel which is the report of him? Certainly, in as much as you take no pains for the knowledge of a Saviour, you declare that you know not yo [...]r sin; [...]or if ye knew the one, ye could not but search to know the other. What i [...] the voice of most mens walking? Doth it not proclaim this, that they think there is no sin in them? For if there be sin in you, is there not a curse upon you, and wrath before you? And if you did really see the one, would you not see the other? And did you s [...]e it, would it not drive you to more serious thoughts? Would it not a [...]right you? Would it not cause you often to retire in to your selves, and from the world? And above all, how precious would the tidings of a Saviour be, that now are common and con­temptible? Would you not every day wash in that blood? Would the current of repentance dry? But, forasmuch as you are not exercised this way, give no thoughts nor time for recon­cilement with God, walk without any fear of hell, and without any ea [...]nest and serious study of changing your waye [...], and purifying your hearts; in a word, though ye confesse sin in the [Page 155] gene [...]al, yet your whole carriage of heart and wayes, declare so much, that you think it not [...] thing much to be feared, or that a man should busie himself about it; that a man may live in it, and be well here, and hereafter. And is not this to deny the very nature of sin, and to de­ceive your own souls?


1 Joh. 1.9.

If we confesse our sins he [...] faithful, and just to forgive us our sins, &c.

THE current of sin dryes not up, but run [...] const [...]ntly while we are in this life; it i [...] t [...]ue, it is much diminished in a believer, and it runs not in such an universal flood over the whole man, as it is in the unbeliever, yet there is a living spring of sin within the godly, which is ne­ver ceasing to drop out pollution and defilement, either upon their whole persons, or at least, to intermingle it with their good actions. Now, there is no comfort for this, but this one, that there is another stream of the blood of Iesus Christ, that never dryes up, is never exh [...]usted, never emptied, but flows as full and as free, [...]s clear and f [...]esh as ever it did: and this is so great, and of so great vertue, that it is [...]ble to swallow up the stream of our pollutions, and to t [...]ke away [Page 156] the daily filth of a believers convers [...]tion. Now indeed, though the blood of Iesus Christ be of such infinit vertue and efficacy, that it were suf­ficient to cleanse the sins of the whole world, it would be an over-ransome for the souls of [...]ll men, there i [...] so much worth in it: that flood of guiltinesse that hath drowned the world, this flood of Christs blood that gushed out of his side, is of sufficient vertue to cleanse it perfectly away; not withstanding of this absolute, universal suffici­ency, yet certain it is, that i [...] is not actually ap­plyed unto the cleansing of all mens sin [...], but yet the mo [...] part of men are still drowned in the de­luge of their own wickedness, and lyeth intomb'd in darkness; therefore it concerns us to know the way of the application of this blood, to the cleansing of sinners; and this way is set down in thi [...] verse, If we confesse our sins, he is just to for­give. There was something hin [...]ed at obscurely in the preceeding verse, for when he shews, that such as say they have no sin, who either by the disposition of their hearts, or carriage of their wayes, do by interpretation say, they want sin, such deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them; and so they have no benefit o [...] that blood that cleanseth from all sin, and so it is imported here, that though the blood of Christ be fully sufficient to cleanse all sin, yet it is not so pro­stituted and basely spent upon sinners, as to be bestowed upon them who do not know their sins, and never enter into any serious & impartial exa­mination [Page 157] of themselves; such, though they say they are sinners, yet never descending into themselves to search their own hearts and waye [...], and so ne­ver coming to the pa [...]ticular knowledge of their sins, and feeling of them, they cannot at all make application of that blood to their own conscien­ces, either seriously or pertinently: Though the river and fountain of Christs blood run by them, in the daily p [...]eaching of the Gospel, ye [...] being destitute of this daily self-inspection, and self-knowledge, being altogether ignorant of them­selve [...], they can no more wash here, then thes [...] who never heard of this blood, they being stran­gers to themselves, sets them at as great distanc [...] [...]nd estrangement from the blood of Christ, [...] if they were wholly strangers to the very preach­ing of this blood. Let us then have this first established in our hearts, that there is no cleans­ing from sin, without the knowledge o [...] sin, and there is no true knowledge of sin, without a se­rious soul-examination of sin; these are knit together in their own nature; for how should our sins be pardoned, when we know nothing of them but in a confused generality, that can n [...] ­ver affect the heart? How should our sins not b [...] opened and discovered before the holinesse of God, when they are alwayes covered unto us, a [...]d hid from our eyes? Certainly, the righteous­nesse and wisdom of God requires, that such [...] monstruous thing, so great an enemy of Gods [...]o­linesse, be not wholly past away in sile [...]ce wit [...] ­out [Page 158] o [...]servati [...]n. If we do not observe, he will; for to what purpose should pardon be so lavish­ed upon them who [...]re not capable to know what savour [...] grace i [...] in it? And ce [...]tainly, that none c [...]n know, without the feeling knowledge of the hight [...]nd hainousnes [...]e of sin. Now▪ I p [...]ay you, how should ye know your sins, when ye will not allow [...]ny time for the sea [...]ching of your selves? Many cannot say that ever they did pur­posely [...]nd deliberatly withd [...]aw from the world, and separat their spirits for this businesse of self-examination: and therefore you remain perpe­tually strangers to your selves, and as great stran­ger [...] to the power and vertue of this blood.

Now in this vers. he declare [...] it plainly, in what way and method sin is pardoned by this blood▪ By the former vers. we have so much, that it [...]s necessary we must search and t [...]y our waye [...], that so we may truly know our sins, and charge them upon our selves; and here it is superadded that we must confess them to him: And the promise [...]s annexed, he is just and faithful to forgive. Now this confession of sin is very fitly subjoyned, both to that which he declared of that great end of the Gospel, communion with God, and that which was immediatly holden sorth of the remaining vertue of Christs blood; for might a poor soul say, How shall I come to partake of that blessed society? I am [...] sinner, and so an enemy to G [...]d, How shall this enmity be removed? And if the [...]nswer be made, The blood of Iesus Christ cleans­eth [Page 159] from all sin, and so maketh accesse for a [...]inner to enter into this society; Yet a question re­mains, And how shall the vertue of that be ap­plyed to my soul? It is sufficient I know for [...]ll, but what way may I have the particular benefit of it? Here it is [...]ully satisfied, If we confesse our sins, God is just and faithful to forg [...]ve. H [...] lyeth under some obligation to pardon us. Now, ma­ny of you may think▪ if this be the way, and these be the te [...]ms [...]f pardon, then we hope all shall be pardoned, fo [...] i [...] there be no more but to con [...]esse our sin [...], who will not willingly do that, and who doth not daily do it? as one said, if it be sufficient to accuse, none will be innocent: Si accusasse sufficiat▪ nemo innocens erit. So you may think, Si confiteri sufficiat, nemo re [...] [...]rit. If it be sufficient to con [...]es [...]e, none will be guilty. But, my beloved, let us not deceive our selv [...]s with the present fi [...]st apprehensions of words that occur in this kind; it is true, as ye take con­fession, there is nothing more ordinary, but if it be taken in the true Scripture meaning, and in the realest sense, I fear there is nothing among men so extraordinary: I desire you may but con­sider how you take this word in your dealings with men, you take it certainly in a more real sense then you use it in Religion. If any had done you some great wrong or injury, suppose your servant, or inferiour, what acknowledgment would you take from him of his wrong? If he confessed his wrong only in general amb [...]guou [...] [Page 160] te [...]m [...], if he did it either lightly, or without any sense or sorrow for it, if he did withal excuse and ex [...]enuat hi [...] fault, and never ceased notwithstan­ding of all his con [...]ession to do the like wrong when occasion offered, would you not think this [...] mockery? And would it not [...]ather provoke you, then pacifie you? Now, when ye take words in so real and deep significations in your own matters, what gros [...]e delusion is it, that you take them in the slightest and emptiest meaning [...] in these things that relate to God? And I am sur [...] the most part of mens confessions are of that [...]a­ture which I have described, general, ignorant, senslesse, without any particular view, or lively feeling of the vilenesse and loathsomn [...]sse o [...] sin, and their own hearts; when ever it come [...] to particulars, there is a multitude of extenuati­ons and pretences, to hide and cover the sin; and generally men never cease the more from sinning, it puts no stop in their running, as the horse to the battel: to day they confesse it, and to morrow they act it again with as much de­light as before. Now, of this I may say, offer it to thy Governour, and see if he will be pleased with thee, or let another offer such an acknowledg­ment of wrong to thee, and see if it will please thee: and if it will not, why deceive ye your selve [...] with the outward visage of things, in these matter [...] that are of greatest soul-concernment? Should they not be taken in the most inward and substantial signification that can be? lest you be [Page 161] deceived with false appearances, and while you give but a shadow of confession, you receive but a shadow of forgiveness, such a thing as will not car [...]y and bear you out before Gods Tribunal. Therefore we must needs take it thus, that con­fession of sin is the work of the whole man, and not of the mouth only. It is the heart, tongue, and all that is in a man, joyning together to the acknowledgment of sin, and Gods righteousnesse: Therefore it includes in it, not only a particular knowledge of our offences, and the temper of our hearts, but a sensible feeling of the loath­somnesse and hainou [...]nesse of these: and this i [...] the spring that it flows from, from a broken and contrite heart, that is bruised under the appre­hensions of the weight of guiltinesse, and is im­bittered with the sense of the gall of iniquity, that possesseth the heart. Here then is the great moment of confession and repentance, What i [...] the inward fountain it flows from: If the heart be brought to the distinct and clear view of it self, and to discern the iniquity and plague of it, and so to fall down under the mighty hand of God, and before his Tribunal, as guilty, as not being able or willing to open his mouth in [...]n ex­cuse or extenuation of sin, or to plead for com­passion from any consideration in himself; a soul thus plac [...]d, between iniquities set in order and battel array, on the one hand, [...]nd the holy Law and righteousnesse of God on the other hand; the filthinesse of the one, filling with shame and [Page 162] con [...]usion, and the d [...]ead [...]ulnesse of the other, cau [...]ing fear and t [...]embling; in this pos [...]ure, I say, for [...] [...]oul to come and fall at the Iudges feet, and make supplicat [...]on to him in his Son Christ; thus being inwardly pressed to vent and pour out our hearts before him, in the confession [...]f ou [...] sin [...], and to flie unto the City of refuge, his mer [...]y and grace that i [...] declared in Iesus Christ; this, I say, is indeed to confesse our sins: For then confe [...]ion is an exone [...]ation and disburden­ing of the hea [...]t; it flows from the abundance of the inward cont [...]iti [...]n of it: And as this must be the spring of it, so the [...]e is another stream that will certainly flow f [...]om the ingenuous c [...]n­fession of our sins, that is, a forsaking of them: these are the two st [...]eams that flow from one head and spring, the inward fountain of contri­tion and sorrow for sin; there is a holy indigna­tion kindled in the hea [...]t against sin, and an in­gagement upon such a soul, as indeed flie [...] to mercy, to [...]enounce sin; and here is the com­pleat nature of true [...]epentance. Solomon joyns them, He th [...]t confesseth and forsaketh shall have mercy, Prov. 28.13. And this is opposed to co­verin [...] of sins, For he that covereth his sins shall not prosper. And what is that to cover hi [...] sin? Conselling them in a general confused notion, without any distinct knowledge, or sense of par­ticular guiltinesse, that is a cove [...]ing of sins, or confessing sin, and not forsaking of it, that is a co­vering of sin; for, to act sin over again, with con­tinual [Page 163] [...]esh delight and vigour, is to ret [...]act our confessions, and to bury and cover them with the mould of new transgressions. Now, take this unto you, you shall not prosper, what can be said worse? For you are but in a dream of happinesse, and you shall one day be shaken out of it, and that fancied pardon shall evanish, and then your sins that you cove [...]ed in this manner, sh [...]ll be discovered before the Judge of the world, and you shall not stand in judgment.


1 Joh. 1.9.

If we confesse our sins he is faith­full, and just to forgive our sins, &c.

THE freedom of Gods grace, and the great­ness of his wisdom, shine forth most bright­ly in the dispensation of the Gospel, and both of them beautifie and illustrat one another. That there is first, an expiation of sin by the blood of Iesus Christ, that a way is laid down of reconcil­ing the world, and that by the blood of the Cross, that peace is purchased, and so preached unto sinners, as a thing already procured, and now on­ly to be applyed unto the soul by faith; herein doth the inestimable riches of the grace of God expose it self to the view of Angels and Men. That the great work of Redemption is ended, [Page 164] e [...]e it come to us; and there remains nothing, but to publish it to the wo [...]ld, and invite us to come and receive it, and have a part in it; all i [...] ready, the feast p [...]epared, and set on the Table, and there wants nothing but Guests to eat of it, and these are daily called by the Gospel to come to this Table which the wi [...]dom of the Father hath prepared for us, without either our know­ledge or concurrence. Besides, the very terms of p [...]oposing the Gospel, speak forth absolute f [...]eedom: What can be more free and easie then this? Chr [...]t is sent to die for sinners, and to re­deem them from the [...]urse, only receive him, [...]ome to him, and believe in him. He hath undertaken to save, only do you consent too, and give up your name to him: ye have nothing to do to satisfie [...]ustice, or pu [...]chase salvation, only be willing that he do it for you, or rather acquiesce to that he hath done already, and rest on it. But how shall our sin [...] be pardoned, and Justice satis­fied? Only confesse your sins to him, and ye are forgiven, not for your confession, but for Christ, only acknowledge thine iniquity and wrongs, and he hath taken another way to repair his Justice, then by thy destruction and condemnation: he i [...] so far from extending his Justice against thee, that he is rather in [...]aged upon his faithfulnesse an [...] justice to fo [...]give thee, because of his pro­mise.

Yet, ye would not conceive so of this manner of proposal o [...] forgiveness and salvation, as if [Page 165] the requiring of such a thing as repentance in thee, were any derogation from the absoluteness of his grace; for it is not required, either to the point of satisfaction to Gods Iustice, and ex­piation of sin; for that is done a [...]eady upon the Crosse. Christ was not offered to save sinners, he was not sent upon the previous condition of their repentance: Nay, while we were yet ene­mies, Christ died for the ungodly; so that to the bu [...]inesse of our redemption, there was no con­currence upon our part, nor influence upon it by our carriage; for he considered us as sinners, and miserable, and so saved us. And now, to the actual application of these preventing mercies, it' [...] true, it is needful in the wise and reasonable dispensation of God, that sinners be brought to the knowledge, and sensible acknowledgment of their sin and misery, and so be upon rational in­ducements of misery within, and mercy without, of self-indigency, and Christs sufficiency, be drawn in to Iesus Christ, and so to a partaking of these purchased priviledges of forgiveness of sin, peace with God, &c. I say, all this is so far from dimi­nishing a jot of that absolute freedom of grace, that it rather joyntly proclaims the riches of grace and wisdome both, that repentance should be given to an impenitent sinner, and faith free­ly bestowed on an unbelieving sinner, and with­all, that remission and salvation, together with faith and repentance, should be brought to us by his death, while we were yet enemies; this [Page 166] doth declare the most unparalell'd bounty and grace, that the heart of man can imagine▪ and withal, that remission of sins is joyned to confes­sion, and salvation to faith, herein the wisdom of God triumphs; for, what way is it possible to declare that freedom of grace, to the sensible conviction of a sinner, and so to demonstrat it to all mens consciences, except by making them return within, to see their own absolute unwor­thinesse, vilenesse, and incorrespondency to such mercies, and so drawing an acknowledgment of his grace, from the mouths and consciences of all? How shall a soul know that rich superabun­dant grace, if he know not the abundance of his sins? How shall he professe the one, except he withal confesse the other? Let us imagine an impenitent sinner, continuing in [...]ebellion, par­doned and forgiven: and is there any thing more contrary to c [...]mmon sense and reason, to be in God [...] favour, and yet not accepting that favour▪ to be a friend, and yet an enemy▪ to have sins forgiven, and yet not known nor confessed; these, I say, [...]ound some plain dissonancy and discord to our very fi [...]st apprehensions. Certainly, this is the way to declare the glory of his grace, in the hiding and covering of sin, even to discover sin to the sinner; else if God should hide sin, and it be hid withal from the conscience, both thy sin [...]nd Gods grace should be hid and covered, neither the one nor the other would appear. Take it thus then, the confession of sin is not for [Page 167] this end, to have any causal influence upon thy [...]emission, or to procure any more favour and liking with God; but it is simply this, the con­fession of sin is the most accommodat way of the profession and publication of the grace of God, in the forgiving of sins; Faith and Repentance are not set down as conditions pre-required on thy part, that may procure salvation o [...] forgive­nesse, but they are inseparably annexed unto sal­vation and forgivenesse, to the end that they may manifest to our sensible conviction, that grace, and freedom of grace, which shines in for­givenesse and salvation.

He is just and faithful, &c. Herein is the won­der of the grace of God increased, that when we are under an obligation to infinit punishment for sin, and bound guilty before his Justice, that the most great and potent Lord, who can easily rid himself of all his enemies, and do all his pleasure in Heaven and Earth, should come under an obli­gation to man to forgive him his sins. A strange exchange, man is standing bound by the cords of his own sins over to the Justice of God, he is under that insoluble tye of guiltinesse; God in the mean time is free and loosed from the obligati­on of the first Covenant, that is, his promise of giving life to man; we have loosed him from that voluntary ingagement, and are bound un­der a curse; and yet, behold the permutation of grace, man is loosed from sin to which he was bound, and God is bound to forgive sin, to which [Page 168] he was not bound. He enters in a new and vo­luntary ingagement by his promise, and give [...] right to poor creatures to sue and seek forgive­nesse of him, according to his faithfulnesse: Yet in this plea, as it becomes us to u [...]e confidence, because he gives us ground by his promises, so we should [...]eason it with humility, knowing how infinitly f [...]ee and voluntary his cond [...]cension is, being alwayes mindful, that he may in righte­ousnesse exact punishment of us for sin, [...]ather then we seek forgivenesse from him; and yet seek it we ought, because he hath ingaged his faithful promise; which opportunity to neglect, and not to improve, either through fear or se­curity, were as high contempt and disobedience to him, as these sins by which we offend him.

Ce [...]tainly, the very N [...]me of God revealed to us, or known by natures light, those general cha­racters of his Name, Mercy and Goodness, Power and Gre [...]tness, might s [...]ffice to so much, as to make us in the apprehensions of our own guilti­nesse and provocations of his Holinesse, to look no other way, then to his own merciful and gracious nature: suppose we had nothing of a promise from him, by which he is bound; yet, as the very apprehension of the general goodness, and unlimited bounty, and original happiness that is in God, ought naturally to draw the creature towards him in all its wants, to supplicat his fulnesse, that can supply all necessities, without lessening his own abundance; e [...]en [...]o, if we did [Page 169] only apprehend that God i [...] the fountain of mer­cy, and that he is infinitly above us and ou [...] in­juries, and that all our being and well-being e­ternally, consists in his sole favour; this, I say, alone considered, might draw us to a pouring out our hea [...]s befo [...]e him, in the acknowledgment of our guiltinesse, and casting our selves upon his mercy, (as the term is used in War) when there is no quarte [...] promised, and no capitulation made; it is the last refuge of a desperat sinner, to render unto God upon mercy, to resign himself to his free disposal; Since I cannot but perish (may a soul say) without him, there is no way of esca­ping from his wrath, I will rather venture, and go in to the King, and if I perish I perish; there is more hope in this way to come to him, then to flie from him, perhaps he may shew an act of absolute soveraign goodnesse, and be as glorious in passing by an offence, as just in punishing it. Do I not see in man, (in whom the Divine Ma­jesty hath imprinted some characters of consci­ence and honesty) that it is more generous and noble to forgive, then to revenge? And do I not see generally among men, clemency and compas­sion is commended above severity, and [...]igour, though just, especially towards these who are in­feriour, weak, unable to resist, and have yeelded themselves to mercy. Now, shall I not much more apprehend that of God, which I admire in a sinful man? Shall not that be most perfect in him, which is but a maimed and broken piece [Page 170] of his image in lost man? Certainly, it is the glo [...]y of God to conceal an offence, as well as to publish it; and he can shew as much Greatnesse and Majesty, in Mercy, as in Justice: therefore I will wholly commit my self to him. I think a man ought to reason so, from the very natural knowledge he hath o [...] God. But when ye hav [...] not only his Name and Nature published, but his Word and Promise so often proclaimed, him­self come under some [...]ye to receive and accept graciously all sinners that flie in under the sha­dow of his wings of mercy; then O, with how much perswasion and boldnesse should we come to him, and lay open our sins before him, who not only m [...]y pardon them, and not only is likely to do it, seing he hath a gracious n [...]ture, but ce [...]tainly will pardon them, cannot but do it, because his faithfulnesse requireth it. Certainly, he hath superadded his Word to his Name, his Promise to his Nature, to confirm our faith, and give us ample ground of strong consolation.

There is another more suitable notion about the justice of God, in forgiving sin; it hath some truth in the thing it self, but whether it be im­ported here, I dare not certainly a [...]firm. Some take his faithfulnesse in relation to his word of promise, and his justice in relation to the price and ransome payed by Christ, importing as much as thi [...], what ever sinner comes to God in Christ, confessing their own guiltinesse in sincerity, and supplicating for pardon, he cannot in justice re­fuse [Page 171] to give it out unto them, since he hath taken compleat satisfaction of Christ. When a sinner seeks a discharge of all sin, by vertue of that blood, the Lord is bound by his own [...]ustice to give it out, and to write a free remission to them; since he is fully payed, he cannot but discharge us, and cancell our bonds. So then a poor sin­ner that desires mercy, and would forsake sin, hath a two [...]old ground to suit this forgivenesse, upon Christs blood, and Gods own word, Christs purchase and payment, and the Fathers promise, he is just and righteous, and therefore he cannot de­ny the one, nor yet take two satisfactions, two payments for one debt; and he is faithful, so he cannot but stand to the other, that is his pro­mise; and thus is forgivenesse ascertained and assured unto the confessing sinner. If any would take this in relation to confession, as if it reflect­ed upon that which preceeded, and the meaning should be, if any man confesse his sin, he is just to [...]equi [...]e confession with remission, he cannot in righteousnesse deny one that deserves it so well, he is just to return some suitable recom­pence, to such a humble confession; this sense were a perverting of the whole Gospel, and would overturn the [...]oundations of grace, for, there is no connexion between our confession, and his remission, but that which the absolute good pleasure of his will hath made; besides, that repentance is [...]s free grace given from the exalted Prince, as remission of sins is.


1 Joh. 1.9.

If we confesse our sins he is faithful, and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnesse.

Vers. 10.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, &c.

ANd who will not confesse their sin, say you? Who doth not confesse sins daily, and therefore, who is not [...]orgiven and pardoned? But stay, and consider the matter again, take not this upon your first light app [...]ehensions, which in Religion are commonly empty, vain, and super­ficial; but search the Scriptures, and your own hearts, that ye may know wh [...]t confession means. It may be said of that external custome of con­fessi [...]n that many of you have, that the Lord hath not required it, Sacrifices and burnt offerings thou wouldest not, some external submissions and confession [...], which ye take [...]or compensation [...]or sins and offences against God, these, I say, are but abomination to the Lord; but a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise, Psal. 51.16, 17. And lo, I come to do thy will, I de­light in it, Psal. 40.7, 8. When external profes­sions and confessions, are separated from the in­ternal contrition of the heart, and godly sorrow for sin; and when both internal contrition, and [Page 173] external profession and confession are divided from con [...]ormity, o [...] study of conformity to Gods will, then they a [...]e in no better acceptance with God, then these external sacrifices which God rejected, though he had required them, because they were disjoyned from the true life of them, and spiritual meaning, that is, faith in a Media­tor, and love to obedience. If confession flow not from some contrition of heart, if there be not some inward spring of this kind, the heart opened, and unfolding its very in-side before God, breaking in pieces, which makes both pain or sense, and likewise gives the clearer view of the inward parts of the heart; and if it be not joyned with affection to Gods will and Law, ear­nest love to new obedience, it is but a vain, empty, and counterfeit confession, that denyes it self. I suppose, a man confesse sin which he feels not, or forsakes not, in so doing he declares that he knows not the nature of sin, he may know such an action, that it is commonly called sin, and, it may be, is shamed and censured among men, and therefore he confesseth it, but while he confesseth it without sense or [...]eeling, he declares that he takes it not up as sin, hath not [...]ound the vilenesse and loathsomnesse of the nature of it, nor beheld it as it is a violation of the most high Lords Laws, and a provocation of his glorious holinesse. Did a soul view it thus, as it is re­presented in Gods sight, as it dishonours that glo­rious Majesty, and hath manifest rebellion in it [Page 174] against [...], and a [...] it de [...]iles and pollute [...] our spirits, he could not, I say, thus look upon it, but he would [...]in [...] some inward soul-abhorrency and displicence at it, and himself too. How monstruous would it make him in his own sight? It could not but affect the heart, and humble it in secret before God; whereas your forced and strained confessions made in publick, they are meerly taken on then, and p [...]oceed from no in­ward principle, there is no sh [...]dow of any [...]oul-humiliation in secret, but as some use to put on sackcloath when they come to make that pro [...]es­sion, and put it [...] when they go out; so you put on a habit of confe [...]sion in publick, and put it off you when you go out of the Congregation. To ly mou [...]ning be [...]ore the Lord, in your secret retirements, that you are strangers to. But I wonder how you should thus mock God, that you will not be as serious and re [...]l in confessing, as in sinning? Will ye sin with the whole man, and con­fesse only with the mouth? Will ye act sin with delight, and not con [...]esse it with a true sorrow that indeed affects the heart? Now, do you ho­nour God by confession, when the manner of it declares, that you feel not the bitternesse o [...] sin, and conceive not the holinesse and righteousnesse of God, whom you have to do withall? Even so, when you confesse sin, which you do not for­s [...]ke, you in so far declare that you know not sin, what it is you confesse, and so, that you h [...]ve mocked him who will not be mocked; for, [Page 175] what a mockery is it, to con [...]esse these [...]ault [...], which we have no solid ef [...]ctual purpose to re­ [...]o [...]m? To vomit up our sins by con [...]ession, that we may with more desire and lust lick up the vo­mit again, and to p [...]etend to wash, [...]or nothing else, but to retu [...]n to the puddle and defile again. My brethren, out of the same fountain comes not bitter water and sweet, Jam. 3.11. Since that which ordina [...]ily proceeds from you, is bitter, unsavoury to God and man, carnal, earthly, and sensual, your wayes are a displayed banner against Gods will, then lay your account, all your pro­fessions and acknowledgments are of the same na­ture, they are but a little more sugared over, and their inward nature is not changed, as un [...]c­ceptable to God, as your sins are.

I would give you some characters out of the Text, to discover unto you the vanity and emp­tinesse of your ordinary consessions. The con­f [...]ssion of sin must be particular, universal, per­petual or constant, Particular, I say, for there a [...]e many thousands who con [...]esse that they a [...]e sinners, and yet do not at all confesse their sins. For, to conf [...]sse sins, is to confesse their own real, actual guiltinesse, that which they indeed have committed, or are inclined to do. So the true and sincere confession of a repenting people is expressed, 1 King. 8.38. What prayer or sup­plication soever be made by any man which shall know the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands, then bear thou in Heaven, and forgive [Page 176] every man whose h [...]a [...]t th [...]u knowe [...]t. Now con­sider w [...]ether o [...] not you be thus a [...]qu [...]inted with your own hea [...]s and way [...], as to know your particular plague and predominant. A [...]e you not rather wholly strangers to your selves, espe­cially the plague o [...] your hea [...]ts? There are few that keep so much as a Record o [...] Register of their actions done against Gods Law, or their neglects of his will, and therefore when you are particularly posed about your sin [...], or the chal­lenge of sin, you can speak nothing to that, but that you never knew one sin by another; that is indeed, you never observed your sins, you never knew any sin, but contented your self with the t [...]adition you [...]eceived that you were sinners; but if any man be used t [...] [...]eflect upon his own wayes, yet gene [...]ally, the m [...]st part of men are altogether strangers to thei [...] hearts; if they know any evil of themselves, it is at most, but some­thing done, or undone, some commission or omission, but nothing of the inward fountain of sin is discovered I be [...]eech you then, do not deceive your selves with this general acknow­ledgment that you are sinners, while in the mean time your real particular sins are hid from you, and you cannot choose but hide in a generality from God. Certain [...]y, you are far from forgive­nesse, and that bles [...]e [...]nesse of which David speaks, Psal. 32. for this [...]elongs to the man that hideth not his sins, in whose heart is no guile. And this is the plainnesse and sincerity of the heart, right­ly [Page 177] to discern its own plagues, and unfold them to him. David, no doubt, would any time have confessed that he was a sinner, but ma [...]k how heavy the wrath of God was on him for all that, because he came not to a plain, ingenuous, and humble acknowledgment of his pa [...]ticular sins. I confessed my s [...]n, and mine iniquity I hid not. While you con [...]esse only in gene [...]al terms, you confesse others sins rather then yours, but this is it, to descend into our own hearts, and find out our just and true accusation, our real debt, to charge our selves as narrowly as we can, that he may discharge us fully, and forgive us freely.

Next, I say, confession must be universal, that is, of all sin, without partiality, or respect to any sin. I doubt if a man c [...]n truly repent of any sin, except he in a manner repent of all sin; or truly forsake one sin, except there be a di­vorcement of the heart from, and forsaking of all sin: therefore the Apostle saith, if we confess our sins, not sin simply, but sins, taking in all the body and collection of them; for it is op­posed to that, if we say we have no sin, &c. Then there lyes a necessity upon us to confesse what we have, we have all sin, and so should confesse all sins. Now, my meaning is not, that it is abso­lutely necessary that a soul come to the particu­lar knowledge, and acknowledgment of all his sins, whether of ignorance, or infirmity, nay, that is not possible, for who can understand his errours? (saith David) cleanse thou me from se­cret sins, Psal. 19.12. There are many sins of [Page 178] ignorance, that we know not to be sins, and ma­ny escapes of infi [...]mity, th [...]t we do not advert to, wh [...]ch otherwise we might know. Now I do not impose that bu [...]den on a soul, to conf [...]sse every individual sin of that kind, but this cer­tainly must be, there must be such a discovery of the nature of sin, and the loathsomnesse of it in Gods fight, and the hainous guilt of it, as may ab [...]se and humble the soul in hi [...] presence; there must be some distincter and clearer view of the dispositions and lusts of the heart, then men at­tain generally unto; and withall, a discovery of the holy and spiritual meaning of Gods Law, which may unfold a multitude of transgressions, th [...]t are hid from the world, and make sin to abound in a man [...] sight [...]nd sense; (for when the L [...]w enters, sin abounds) and to close up this, as the [...]e are many sins now discovered unto such a [...], which lay hid before, the light having shined in upon the darknesse; and above all, the desperat wickednesse of the heart is presented, so there is no sin kno [...]n and discerned, but there is an equal, impartial sorrow for it, and indig­n [...]tion against it. As a believer hath respect to all Gods comm [...]nds, and loves to obey them, so the penitent soul hath an impa [...]tial hatred of all sin, even the dearest and most beloved idol, and desires unfeignedly to be rid of it. Hence your usual publick confession [...] of sin, are wipt out of the number of true and sincere confessions, be­cause you preten [...] to repent of one sin, and in [Page 179] the mean time, neither do ye know a multitude of other sins that prevail over you, nor do you mo [...]n for them, nor forsake them. Nay, you do not examine your selves that way, to find out the temper of your hearts, or tenor and course of your wayes. You pretend to repent for drun­kenness, or such like, and yet you are ordinary c [...]sers, swearers, liars, railers, neglecters of prayer, prophane [...]s of the Sabbath, and such like, and these you do not withal mourn for. In sum, he that mou [...]ns only for the sin that men censures, he knoweth and confesseth no sin sin­cerely; if you would indeed return unto God from some grosse evils, you must be divorced in your affections from all sin.

Then this confession should be perpetuated and continued, as long as we are in this life, for that i [...] imported by comparing this vers. with these it stand [...] between. If we say we have no sin, if we say at any time, while we are in this life, if we imagine or dream of any such perfection he [...]e, we [...]lie. Now, what should we do then, since sin is alwaye [...] lodging in our mort [...]l bodies, during this time of necessary abode beside an ill neighbour? What should be our exercise? even this, Confesse your sin [...] ▪ confesse, I say, as long as you have them, draw out this, the length of that: Be continually groaning to him under that body of de [...]th, and mou [...]ning under your daily infi [...]mities and failings; that stream of corrupti­ons runs continually, [...]et the stream of your con­trition [Page 180] and confession [...]un as uncessantly; and there is an [...]ther stream of Christs blood, that runs con­stantly too, to cleanse you. Now herein is the discovery of the vanity and deceitfulnesse of many of your conf [...]ssi [...]ns, publick and private, the cu [...]rent of them soon d [...]ies up, there is no perpetuity or constancy in them, no daily hum­bling or abasing your selves, but all that is, is by fits and st [...]rts, upon some transient convicti­on [...], or outward censures and rebukes: [...]nd thus men quickly cover and bury their sins in oblivi­on and secu [...]ity, and forget what manner of per­son [...] they were, they are not under a daily, im­pa [...]i [...]l examination of their wayes, takes notice of nothing but some solemn and g [...]osse escapes, and these are but a short time under their view.

Now, let me apply a little to the incourage­ment of poor souls, who being inwardly burde­ned with the weight of their own guiltiness, exoner themselves by confe [...]sion in his bosome; as you have two suit [...], and two desires to him, one, that your sins may be forgiven, another, that they m [...]y be subdued; so he hath two solemn ingage­ments and tyes to satisfy you; one, to forgive your sin [...], and another, to cleanse you from all unrighte­ousness. The soul that is truly penitent, is not only desi [...]ous of pardon of sin, that is not the chief or only design o [...] such a soul in application to Christ; but it is withal to be purified from sin, and all unrighteousnesse, and to have ungodly lusts cleansed away; and herein is the great pro­bation of su [...]h an ones reality, it will not suffice [Page 181] or satisfie such an one, to be assured o [...] delivery from wrath and condemnation, but he must like­wise be redeemed from sin, that it have no do­minion over him; he desires to be [...]reed from death, that he may have his conscience withall purged from dead works, to serve the living God, Heb. 9.14. He would have sin blotted out o [...] a [...] accusing conscience, that it may be purged out of the affections of the heart, & he would have his sins washed away for this end especially, that he may be w [...]shed from his sins, Rev. 1.5. Now, as this is the great desire and design of such a heart, in which there is no guile, to have sin purified, and purged out of us, as well as pardoned, so there is a spe­cial tye and obligation upon God our Father by promise, not only to pardon sin, but to purge from sin, not only to cover it with the garment of Christs righteousnesse, and the breadth of his infinit love, but also, to cleanse it by his Spirit, effectually applying that blood to the purifying of the heart. Now where God hath bound him­self voluntarily, and out of love, do not ye loose him by unbelief, for that will bind you into a prison: but labour to receive these gracious promises, and to take him bound as he offer [...]. Believe, I say, that he will both forgive you, and in due time will cleanse your heart from the love and delight of sin; believe his promise, and in­gagement by promise to both, and this will set to a seal to his truth and faithfulnesse. There is nothing in God to affright a sinner, but his justice, [Page 182] holinesse, and righ [...]eousnesse, but unto thee, who in the humble confession of thy sins, flies in to Iesus Christ, that very thing which did discou­rage thee, may now incourage thee, and [...]bol­den thee to come, for he is just and faithful to forgive sins ▪ hi [...] Justice being now sati [...]fied, is ingaged that way, to forgive, not to punish.


1 Joh. 1.10.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

THere is nothing in which Religion more consists, then in the [...]rue and un [...]eigned knowledge of our selves. The Heathens sup­posed th [...]t sentence, [...], know thy self, descended [...]om Heaven. It was indeed the Mot­to of the wisest and most [...]eligious amongst them▪ but certain it is, that the t [...]ue and sincere un­de [...]standing of ou [...] selves, descends [...]rom the Fa­ther of lights, and is a great gift as man i [...] ca­pable of, next to the knowledge of God him [...]self. The [...]e is nothing more necessary to man, either as man, or as a Christian, either as in­dowed with [...]eason, o [...] pro [...]essing Religion, then that he should be th [...]oughly acquainted with himself, his own heart, its disp [...]siti [...]ns, and in­clinations, [Page 183] and lusts, his wayes, and actions, that while he travels abroad to other creatures and Countreys, he may not commit so shame­ful an absurdity, as to be a stranger at home, where he ought to be best acquainted; Yet how sad is it, that this which is so absolutely needful, and universally p [...]ofitable, should be lying under the manyest difficulties in the attainment of it? So that there is nothing ha [...]der, then to b [...]ing a man to a pe [...]fect unde [...]standing of himself, what a vile, naughty, and base creatu [...]e he is, how defiled and desperatly wicked his natu [...]e, how abomin [...]ble his actions, in a word, what a com­pound of darknesse and wickednesse he i [...], a heap of defiled dust, and a masse of con [...]usion, a sink o [...] impiety and iniquity, even the best of man­kind, those of the rarest and most [...]efined extracti­on, take them at thei [...] best estate, thus they are as sepulchres painted without, and putrified with­in, outwardly ado [...]ned, and within [...]u [...] of rot­tennesse and cor [...]uption, the imagination of his heart only evil continually. Now, I say, here is the great businesse and labour of Religion, to bring a man to the clear discerning of his own nature, to represent unto him justly his own image, as it is painted in the Word of God, and presented in the glasse of the Law, and so by such a surprizing monstruous appearance, to affect his heart to self-abhorrency in dust and ashes, and to have this representation, however unpleasant, yet most profitable, continually obversant to our [Page 184] minds, that we may not forget what manner of persons we are. Truly, I may say, if there be a perfection in this estate of imperfection, herein it consists; and if there be any attainment of a Christian, I account this the greatest, to be tru­ly sensible of himself, and vile in his own eyes.

It was the custome of Philip King of Macedonia, after he had overcome the [...]amous Republick of Greece, to have a young man to salute him fi [...]st every morning with these words, Philippe homo es, Philip thou art a man, to the end that he might be daily minded o [...] his mortality, and the unconstancy of hum [...]ne aff [...]irs, lest he should be pust up with his victory, and this was done be­ [...]ore any could have accesse to speak with him, as if it were, to season and prepare him for the actions of the day; but O, how much more ought a Christian to train up his own heart, and accustome it this way, to be his continual re­membrance [...] of himself, to suggest continually into his mind, and whisper this first into his ear in the morning, and mid day, and evening, pec­cator es, thou art a sinner, to hold our own image continually before us, in prayer, and praises, in res [...]aints, in liberties of spi [...]it, in religious actions, and in all our ordinary conversation, that it might salt and season all our thoughts, words, and deeds, and keep them from that ordinary putrifaction and corruption of pride and self-conceit, which maketh all our ointm [...]nt stink.

If we say we have no sin, we make him a liar. [Page 185] Why is this repeated again? but to shew unto us, even to you Christians, who believe in Ch [...]ist, and are washen in his blood, how hard it is to know our selves a [...]ight. If we speak of the g [...]osser sort of persons, they scarce know any sin, nor the nature and vilenesse o [...] any that they know, the [...] [...]ore they live in secu [...]ity and peace, and blesse themselves in their own hearts, as if they had no sin; for such I say, I shall only say unto [...]hem, that your self deceiving is not so subtill, but it may soon be discerned, your lie is grosse, and quickly seen th [...]ough. But I would turn my self to you Christians, who are in some measure ac­quainted with your selves, yet there is s [...]mething against you from this word; after ye have once got some peace from the challenge of sin, and hope of pardon, you many times fall out of ac­quaintance with your selves, having attained by the Lords grace, to some restraint o [...] the more visible out-breakings of sin; you have not that occasion to know your selves by, and so you re­main strangers to your hearts, and fall into bet­ter likeing with your selves, then the fi [...]st sight of your selves permitted you. Now, my beloved in the Lord, herein you are to be blamed, that you do not rather go in to the fountain, and the [...]e behold the stream [...], then only to behold the fountain in the streams; you ought rather upon the Lord [...] testimony of man, to believe what is in you, before you find it, and see it breaking out, and keep this character continually in your [Page 186] [...]ight, which will be more powerful [...]o humble you, then many out-breaking [...]. I think we should be [...]o well acqu [...]inted with our own natures, as to account nothing [...]range to them that we see abroad, but r [...]ther think all the gros [...]nesse and wi [...]ke [...]nesse of men suitable and correspondent to o [...]r spi [...]its, to that root of bitternesse that is in them; The goodnesse of God in restraining the appearance o [...] that in us, which i [...] within us in [...]e [...]lity, should rather increase the sense of our own wickednesse, then dimin [...]sh it in our view.

Indeed, self-love is that which blinds us, and bemists us in the sight of our selves, we look up­on our selves through this [...]alse medium, and it repr [...]sent [...] all things more beautiful then they a [...]e; and therefore the Apostle hath reason to s [...]y, we deceive our selves, and we make God a liar. O, how much practical self-deceit is there in the application of truth? there are many er­rours contrary to the truths themselves, and ma­ny deceivers, and deceived, who spread them: but I believe there is more errour committed by men, in the application of truths to their o [...]n hearts, the [...] in the contemplation of it; and more self-deceiving, then de [...]eiving of o­thers. It is strange to think, how sound, and clear, and distinct, a mans judgement will be a­gainst those evils in others, which yet he seeth not in himself; How many Christians will be able to decipher the natur [...] of some vices, and unbowel the evils of them, and be quick-sighted [Page 187] to e [...]py the leas [...] appea [...]ance of them in another, and [...]o condemn it, and yet [...]o pa [...]tial a [...]e they in judging themselve [...], [...]elf-love so purblinds them in t [...]is reflection, that they cannot discern that in them [...]elves, which o [...]hers cannot but discern. How o [...]ten do men declaim against pride, and co­vetou [...]nesse, and self-seeking, and other evils of that kind? they will pour out a flood of elo­quence and zeal against them▪ and yet [...]t is strange they do not adv [...]t, that they are accusing them­selves, and impannel [...]ing themselves in such dis­course [...], though others, it may be, will easily pe [...]ceive [...] p [...]dominancy of these evils in them. Who art thou, O m [...], who judgeth another, and [...]ost the same things? Canst thou escape Gods judge­ment? Rom. 2.1. Consider this, O Ch [...]istian, that thou may le [...]rn to turn the edge of all thy censures and convictions against [...]hy self, that thou may prevent all mens judgements of thee, in judging thy self all things, that men can judge thee, that is, a [...]hief of sinners, that hath the root of all sin in thee; and so, thou may antici­pa [...] the divine judgement too, for if we judge our selves, we shall not be judged. Labour thou to know these evils tha [...] are incident to thy na­ture, before others can know them, that is, in the root and [...]ountain, before they come to the [...]ruit and stream; to know sins in the first concep­tions of them, before they come to such pro­ductions as are visible; and this shall keep thee humble, and preserve thee from much sin, and [Page 188] thou sh [...]lt not deceive thy self, nor dishonour God, in making him a liar, but rather set to thy seal to his [...]ruth, and his word shall abide in thee.

There is a common rule that we have in judg­ing our selves, by comparing our selves amongst our selves, which (as Paul saith) is not wisdom, 2 Cor. 10.12. When we do not measure our [...]elves by the perfect rule of Gods holy Word, but parallel our selves with other persons, who are still defective from the rule, far further from it, then any one is from another: this is the o [...]di­n [...]ry method of the judging of self-love; we compare with the worst person [...], and if we be not so bad as they, we think our selves good; if not so ignorant as some ar [...], we presume that we know; if not so prophane as many, we believe our selves religious. Lord, I am not as this Pu­blican, so [...]aith man [...] in their hearts, there's a curser, a swearer, a drunkard, a blind ignorant soul, that neglects prayer in privat and publick, and upon these ruines of others sins, they build some better estimation of themselves. But, I pray [...] what will that avail you to be unlike them, you be more unlike your pattern, then they are unlike you? It may be, others will com­pare with these that are good, but it is with that which is worst in them, and not that which is best; How often do men reckon this way, here is a good man, here is an eminent person, yet he is such and such, subject to such infirmities, and [Page 189] here self-love flatters it self, and by flattering, deceives it self. My beloved, let us learn [...]o establish a more perfect rule, which may shew all our imperfections: let our rule ascend, that our hearts may descend in humility, but when our rule and pattern descends to men of like in­firmities, then our pride and self-conceit ascend [...], and the higher we be that way in our own ac­count, the lower we are indeed, and in Gods ac­count; and the lower we be in our selves, we lose nothing by it, for as God is higher in our account, so we are higher in Gods account, ac­cording to that standing rule, Mat 23.12. Who­soever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.


1 Joh. 2.1.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, &c.

THE Gospel is an intire uniform piece, all the parts of it are interwoven through other, and interchangeably knit together; so that there can be no dividing of it, no more then of Christs coat that was without seam. If you have it not altogether by the divine lot, you cannot truly [Page 190] have any part of it, for they are so knit together, that if ye disjoyn them, you destroy them; and if they cease to be together, they cease al [...]oge­ther to be. I [...]peak this, because there may be pretensions to some abstracted parts of Ch [...]stia­nity; one man p [...]etends to [...]aith in Iesus Christ, and perswasion of pardon of sin, and in this there may be some secret glo [...]ying, a [...]ising from that con [...]dence: another may p [...]eten [...] to the study of holinesse and obedience, and may indeavour something that way, to do known duties, and abstain from grosse sin [...]. Now, I say, if the first do not conjoyn the st [...]dy of the second, and, if the [...]econd do not lay down the first as the foun­ [...]tion, both of them imb [...]ce a shadow for the thing it self; be [...]au [...] they separat these things that God hath joyned▪ and so can [...]ve no b [...]ing, but in mens fan [...]y, when they are not conjoyned. He that would pretend to a righteousnesse of Christ without him, must [...]ithall study to have the righteousnesse of the Law fulfilled within him; and he that indeavours to have holinesse within, must withal go out of himself, to seek a righteousnesse without him, whereupon to build hi [...] peace and acceptance with God, or else, n [...]i­ther of them hath truly any righteousnesse with­out them, to cover them, or holinesse within, to cleanse them. Now here the beloved Apostle shews us this divine contexture of the Gospel, The gre [...]t and compr [...]hensive end and design of the Gospel is, peace in pardon of sin, and puri­ty [Page 191] from sin: These things I write unto you, that you sin not, &c. The Gospel is comprised in com­mands and promises; both make one web, and [...] in together. The immediat end of the command is, that we sin not; nay, but there is another thing alwayes either expresly added, or t [...]citly understood; but if any man sin (that de­sires not to [...]in) we have an advocate with the Fa­ther: so the promise comes in as a su [...]sidiary h [...]lp to all the pr [...]c [...]pts. It is ann [...]x [...]d to give security to a poor soul from despair; and there­fore the Apostle t [...]cheth you a bless [...]d Art of constructing all the commands and exhortations of the Gospel, those of the highest pitch, by sup­plying the full sense with this happy and season­able caution or caveat, but if any man sin, &c. Doth that command, Be ye holy as I am holy, per­fect as your heavenly Father, which sounds [...]o much unattainable perfection, and seems to hold forth an inimitable pattern, doth it, I say, dis­courage thee? Then, use the Apostles Art, add this caution to the command, subjoyn this sweet exceptive, But if any man (that desires to be holy, and gives himself to this study) fail often, and fall, and defile himself with unholinesse, let him not despair, but know that he hath an ad­vocate with the Father; If that of Pauls urge thee, present your bodies a living sacrifice, and be ye not conformed to the world, but transform­ed, and glorifie God in your bodies and spirits which are his, Rom. 18.1, 2. and 1 Cor. 6.20. And [Page 192] cleanse your selves from all fil [...]hiness [...] of the flesh and spirit, 2 Cor. 7.1. And walk in the spirit, and walk as children of the light, &c. If these do too rigorously exact upon thee, so as to make thee lose thy peace, and weaken thy hea [...]t and hands; learn to make out a [...]ull sentence, and fill up the full sense and meaning of the Gospel, according as you see it done here. But if any man, (whose inward heart-desires, and chief de­signs are towards these things, who would think himself happy in holinesse and conformity to God, and estimat [...] his blessednesse or misery, from his union or separation from God) sin, then we have an advocat with the Father, even Iesus Christ the righteous, who hath all that we want, and will not suffer any accusation to fasten upon us, as long as he lives to make intercession for us.

On the other han [...], take a view of the promises of the Gospel, though the immediat, and next end of them is, to give peace to troubled souls, and settle us in the high point of our acceptance with God, yet certainly, they have a further end, even purity from sin, as well as pardon of sin, cleansing from all sin and filthinesse, as well as covering of [...]lthinesse. These things I write unto you, that ye sin not; What things? Con­sider what goes before, and what follows a [...]ter, even the publication of the Word of Life, and eternal life in him, the declaration of our fellow­ship with God in Christ, the offering of the blood [Page 193] of Christ, able to cleanse all sin, the promise of par­ [...]on to the penitent, confession of sin, all these things [...] write, that ye sin not; so that this seems to be the ultimat end, and chief design of the Gospel, [...]nto which all tends, unto which all work to­ [...]ether: the promises are for peace, and peace [...] for purity; the promises are for faith, and [...]aith is for purifying of the heart, and perform­ [...]ng the precepts; so that, all at length returns [...]o this, from whence while we swerv'd, all this mi­ [...]ery is come upon us; In the beginning, it was thus, man created to glorifie God, by obedience to his blessed will, sin interposeth, and ma [...]reth the whole frame, and from this hath a flood of misery flowed in upon us: Well, the Gospel comes of­fering a Saviour, and [...]orgivenesse in him; thus peace is purchased, pardon granted, the soul [...]s restored unto its primitive condition, and state of subordination to Gods will, and so re­demption ends, where creation began, or rather [...]n a more perfect frame of the same kind. The second Adam builds what the first Adam broke down, and the Son re-creats what the Father in the beginning created, yea, with some addition; [...]n this new edition of mankind, all seems new; new Heavens, and new Earth, and that because the creature that was made old, and defiled with [...]in, is made new by grace. Now, he [...]e you may [...]earn the second part of this lesson, that the A­postle teacheth us; as ye ought to correct (as it were) precepts of the Gospel, by subjoyning [Page 194] p [...]omises in this manner, so ye ought to di [...]ect promises, toward [...] the performance of his p [...]e­cepts, as their chief end: whensoever you [...]ead it w [...]itten, The blood of Christ cleanseth from [...] sin, if we confesse, he is faithful to forgive our sins▪ God so loved the world, that he gave his Son; [...] that believeth hath everlasting life, &c. The [...] make up the intire sense and meaning, after [...] manner, These things are written, that we sin not. I [...] there a redemption from wrath published? [...] there reconciliation with God preached? And are we beseeched to come and have the benefit of them? Then say, and supply within thine ow [...] heart, These things are written, published, an [...] preached, that we may not sin. Look to the furthest end of these things, it is, that we sin not. The end of things, the scope of writings, an [...] the purpose of actions, is the very measure o [...] them, and so that is the best interpreter of them. The scope of Scriptures, is by all accounted th [...] very threed, that will lead a man [...]ight in and ou [...] of the labyrinths that are in it. And so it is used as the rule of the interpretation in the parts of it. Now, (my beloved in the Lord) take [...] the scope of the whole Scriptures, the mark th [...] all the Gospel shoots at, These things I write un­to you, that ye sin not. You hear it is true, [...] pardon of sin, of delivery from wrath, of not com­ing into condemnation, of covering offences, o [...] blotting them out as a cloud, all these you read and hear: But what do they all aim at? If you [Page 195] consider not that attentively, you shall no more unde [...]stand the plain Gospel, then you can ex­pound a parable without observing the scope of it. Do you think these have no further aim, then to give you peace, and to secure you from fears and terrours, that you may then walk as you li [...]t, and follow the guiding of your own hearts? Nay, i [...] you take it so, you totally mis­take it, if you do not re [...]d on, and find all these things w [...]itten to this end, that we sin not, you erre, not understanding, or misunderstanding the Scriptures.

These things I write unto you, little children: To inforce this the more sweetly, he useth this affectionat compellation, little children, for, in all things affection hath a mighty stroak, almost as much as reason; it is the most suitable way to prevail with the spirit of a man, to deal in love and tendernesse with it; it insinuats more sweetly, and so can have lesse resistance, and therefore works more strongly. It is true, ano­ther way of terrours, threatnings, and reproo [...] mingled with sharp and heavy words of challenges, may make a great deal of more no [...]e, and yet it hath not such vertue, to preva [...]l with [...] rational soul; the Spirit of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the still and calm voice, which came to Elijah, 1 King. 19.11, 12. These suit not the gentle dove-like disposition of the Spirit, and though they be fit to rent rocks in pieces, yet they cannot truly [Page 196] break heart [...], and make them cont [...]ite: The Sun will make a m [...]n sooner p [...]rt with his cloak, then the wind; such is the differen [...]e between the warm beams of affection, and the boistrous violence of p [...]ssion or terrour. Now, O that there were such a [...]pirit in them who preach the Gospel, such a fathe [...]ly affection, that with much pity and compassion they might call sinners from the wayes of death. O, there is no subject, in which a man may have mo [...]e room for melting affections, nothing that will admit of such bowels of compassion as this, the multitude of souls posting to destruction, and so blind-folded, that they cannot see it. Here the fountain of tears might be opened to run abundantly▪ the Lord pe [...]sonats a tender-hear [...]ed Father or Husband often, Oh, why will ye die? Ye have broken my heart with your whorish heart: O Ierusalem, how oft would I, but thou wouldst not? When he, who is not subject to humane pas [...]ions, expresseth him­self thus, how much more doth it become u [...], poor creatures, to have pity on our fellow-creatures? Should it not presse out from us many groan [...], to see so many pe [...]ishing, even be­side salvation. I wish you would take it so, that the warning you to flee from the wrath to come, is the greatest act of s [...]vour and love that can be done to you. It becomes us to be solicitous about you, and declare unto you, that you will meet with destruction in those paths you walk in­to▪ that these wayes go down to the chambers of [Page 197] death. O that it might be done with so much feeling compassion of your misery, as the neces­sity of it requires. But, why do many of you t [...]ke it so hard to be thus forwarned, and have your danger declared unto you? I guesse at the reason of it; you are in a distemper, as sick chil­dren distempered in a fever, who a [...]e not capable to discern their parents tender affection, when it crosseth their own inclinations and wayes.


1 Joh. 2.1.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, &c.

CHrist Iesus came by water and by blood, not by water only, but by blood also, and I add, not by blood only, but by water also, Chap 5.6. In sin, there is the guilt, binding over to punish­ment, and there is the filth or spot, that de­fileth the soul in Gods sight: To take away guilt, nothing so fit as blood, for there is no punish­ment beyond blood, therefore saith the Apostle, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, Heb. 9.22. and for the stain and spot, no­thing is so suitable as water, for that is generally [Page 198] appointed for cleansing; and some shadow of this the Heathens had, who had their lust [...]a [...]i­ons in water, and thei [...] expiation [...] by blood; but more significantly and plainly, the Iews, who had their purifications by sp [...]inkling of water▪ Numb. 8.7. and expiations by sac [...]ificing of slain b [...]st [...]; but all the [...] were but evanishing· sha­dows: now the substance is come▪ Iesus Christ is c [...]me in water and blood; in wa [...]e [...], to clean [...] the spots of the soul, to pu [...]ifie it [...]om all filth [...] ­nesse; and in blood, to satisfie for sin, and re­move the punishment. You have both in these words of the Apostle, ( [...]o [...] [...]e labours to let out unto us the true Chris [...], whole and inti [...]e) These things I write unto you that ye sin not: He [...]e is the proper end of the [...]ater; and if any man sin, we have Christ a propitiation for our sins, here is the blood, the end of the blood i [...], to s [...]ve us, the end of the water is, that we sin no [...], since we are saved. He came in the blood of expiation, becaus [...] we had sinned; he came i [...] the water of sanctification, that we might not sin. His blood speaks peace to the soul, and the water subjoy [...]s, but let them not return to folly. His blood cryes, Behold thou art made whole, and the water echoes unto it, sin no more, l [...]st a worse thing bef [...]ll thee, Joh. 5.14. These two streams o [...] water and blood, which a [...]e ap­pointed for purity and pardon, run intermingled all alongs, and so the proper effects of them are interchangeably attributed to either of them, he [Page 199] hath washed us in hi [...] blood, Rev. 1.5. and 7.14. And the blood of Christ cleanseth u [...] from all sin▪ Then certainly, this blood cannot be without wa­ter, it is n [...]ver separated from it, the proper ef­fect of blood is to cover sin, but because the water runs in that channel, and is conveyed by the blood thither, therefore it doth cleanse sin, [...]s well as cover it.

These things I write unto you, that ye sin not▪ This then is the design of the whole Gospel, the g [...]eat and grand design, to destroy sin, and save the sinner. There is a treaty of peace made with the sinner, and Christ is the peace-maker: a ten­der of life and salvation is made to him, but there is no treaty, no capitulation, or composi­tion with sin, out it must go, fi [...]st out of its do­min [...]on, then out of its habitation; it must fi [...]st lose its power, and then its beeing in a believer; yea, this is one of the chief articles of our peace, not only required of us as our duty, that we should destroy that, which cannot but destroy us; (for, if any man will needs hugg and imbr [...]ce his sins, and cannot part with them, he must needs die in their imbracements, because the Council of Heaven hath irrevocably past a fatall sentence against sin, as the only thing that in all the Creation hath the most perfect opposition to his blessed will, and contrariety to his holy [...]ature) but also and especially, as the great stipulation and promise upon his part, to redeem [...]s from all our iniquities, and purifie us to him­self, [Page 200] a people zealo [...] of good works; and not only to redeem us from hell, and deliver u [...] from wrath, Ti [...]. 2 14. He hath undertaken this gr [...]t work, to compe [...]e this mutiny and rebellion that was raised up in the Creation by sin, els [...] what peace could be between God and us, as long as his enemy and ours dwelt in our bosome, and we at peace with it.

Now, take a short view of these thing [...], [...] are wri [...]ten in the preceeding Chapter, and [...] shall see that the ha [...]monious v [...]ice [...]f all tha [...] is in the Gospel, is this, that we sin not. Let me say further, as these things are written th [...]t we sin not, so all thing [...] are done that we sin not. Tak [...] all the whole wo [...]k of Creation, of Providenc [...], of Redemption, all of them speak one language, that we sin not: D [...]y unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge: There is no speech nor language where their voice i [...] not heard, P [...]al. 19.2, 3. And, a [...] in that place, their voice proclaims the Glory, Majesty, and Goodness of God, so they with the same sound, proclaim and declare, that we should not sin against such a God, so great, and so good; all that we see, sug­gests and in [...]in [...]ats this unto our hearts▪ all that we hear, whispers this unto our ears, that we sin not: That he made us, and not we our selves, and that we are the very work of his hands, this speaks our absolute and essential dependence on him, and therefore proclaims with a loud voice, that sin, which would cut off this subordination, and [Page 201] loose from this dependence upon his holy will, is [...] monstruous unnatural thing. Take all his mer­ [...]ies towards us, whether general or particular, the tr [...]nscendent abundance of his infinit good­nesse in the earth, that river of his riches that [...]un [...] through it, to wa [...] every m [...]n, and brings supply to his door [...], that infinit variety that is in Heaven and Earth, and all of them of equ [...]l birth-right with man, yet by the Law of our Maker, a yoke of subjection and service to man i [...] imposed upon them, so that man is, in a man­ner, set in the Center of all, to the end that all the several qualifications, and pe [...]fections that are in every creature, may concenter and meet together in him, [...]nd flow tow [...]rds him. Look upon all his particular [...]cts of care and favour to­wards thee, consider his judgments upon the world, upon the nation, or thine own person, put to thine ear, [...]nd he [...]r, this is the joynt har­monious melody, this is the proclamation of all, that we sin not, that we sin not against so good a God, and so great a God, that were wickednesse, thi [...] were madnesse. If he wound, it is that we sin not; if he heal again, it is that we sin not. Doth he kill, it i [...] that we sin not. Doth he make [...]live, it is for the same end. Doth he shut up and restrain our liberty, either by bond [...]ge, or sicknesse, or other afflictions, why? he means that we sin not. Doth he open [...]gain, he means the same thing, that we sin no more, lest a worse thing befall us. Doth he make many to fall in [Page 202] battel, and turns the [...]ury of that upon us, the voice of it is, that you who are left behind, should sin no more. Is there severity towards others, and towards you clemency; O, the loud noise of that i [...], sin not. But alas, the re [...]ult o [...] all is, that which is written, Psal. 78.32. Ne­verthelesse they sinned still. In the midst of so ma­ny concurring testimonies, in the very throng of all the sounds and voices that all the works of God utter, in the very hearing of these, never­thelesse to sin still, and not to return and enquire early after God, this is the plague and judgment of the Nation.

But let us return to the words, These things, &c. That which is written of the word of life, that whi [...]h was from the beginning, and was manifested unto us, that is written that we sin not: for, [...]aith this same Apostle, Chap. 3.5.8. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and [...] him is no sin; yea, for this very purpose (saith he) that he might destroy the works of the devil. Now, is this the great businesse, that drew the Son out of the Fathers bosome, to destroy the a [...]ch-enemy, and capital rebell, Sin, which, as to man, is a work of Satans, because it f [...]st entered in man by the Devils suggestion and coun­sel: all that misery and ruine, all these works of darknesse and death, that Satan had by his malice and policy wrought upon, and in poor mankind, Iesus was m [...]nifest [...]d in the flesh without sin, to de­stroy and take away sin out of our fl [...]sh, and to abo­lish [Page 203] and destroy Satans work, which he had build­ed upon the ruines of Gods work, of the image of God, and to repai [...] and renew that first bles­sed wo [...]k of God in man, Eph. 4.23, 24.

Now, O how cogent and pe [...]swading is this, one so high, come down so low, one dwelling in inaccessible glory, manifested in the flesh, in the infi [...]mity and weaknesse of it, to thi [...] very pur­pose, to repair the Creation, to make up th [...] [...]aches of it, to destroy sin, and [...]ave the sinner; what force is in this to perswade a soul that true­ly believe [...] it, not to sin? for, may he think with­in himself, Shall I save that which Christ came to destroy? Shall I intertain and maintain that which he came to take away, and do what in me lyes to [...] the great end of his glorious and won­de [...]ful descent from Heaven? Shall I joyn hands, and associat with my lusts, and war for them, which w [...]r agai [...]st my soul, and him that would save my [...]oul? Nay, [...] us conclude (my beloved) within our own hearts, Is the Word and Prince of life manifested from Heaven, and come to ma [...] and unmake that wo [...]k of Satan, that he may rescue me from [...]n [...]er his tyranny? [...]hen God forbid that I should help Satan to build up that which my Saviour is [...]sting down, and to make a prison for my self, and cords to bind me in it for everlasting. Nay, will a believing foul say, rather let me be a worker together with Christ, though saintly, ye [...] I resolve to wrestle with him, to pull down all the strong holds that Satan keeps [Page 204] in my nature, and so to congratulat and con [...]ent to him, who is the avenger and asserter of my liberty.

Then consider the greatest end, and furthest design of the Gospel, how it is inseparably chain­ed and linked into this, that we sin not. We are called to fellowship with the Father and the Son, and herein is his glory, and our happinesse. Now, this proclaims with a loud voice, that we sin not; for, what more contrary to that design of uni­on, and communion with God, then to sin, which disunits and discommunic [...]ts the soul [...]om God. The nature of sin you know, it is the trans­gression of his Law, and so, it is the very just op­po [...]ition of the creatures will, to the will of him that made it. Now, how do ye imagine that this can consist with true friendship and fellow­ship, which looseth that conjunction of wills and affection [...], which is the bond of true friendship, and the ground of fellowship, idem velle, atque idem nolle, hae [...] demum vera ami [...]i [...]ia est. The conspiracy of our desires and delights in one point with Gods, this sweet co-incidency makes out communion, and what communion then with God, when that which his soul abhors, is your delight, and his delight is not your desire? What communion hath light with darknesse? Sin is darknesse, all sin, but especially, sin intertain­ed and maintained, sin that hath the full consent of the heart, and carrieth the whole man after it, that is Egyptian-darknesse, an universal dark­nesse [Page 205] over the soul; this being interposed be­tween God and the soul, breaks off communion, eclipses that soul totally. Therefore, (my be­loved) if you do believe that you are called un­to this high dignity of fellowship with God, and if your souls be stirred with some holy ambition after it, consider that these things are written, that ye sin not; consider what basenesse is in it, for one that hath such a noble design, as fellow­ship with the highest, to debase his soul so far, and so low, as to serve sinful and fleshly lusts; there is a vilenesse and wretchednesse in the service of sin, that any soul, truly and nobly principled, cannot but look upon it with indignation, because he can behold nothing but indignity in it. Shall I who am a Ruler (saith Nehemiah) shall such a man as I flee? and who is there that being as I am would flee? Neh. 6.11. A Christian hath more reason, Shall such a man as I, who am born a­gain to such a hope, and called to such a high dignity? Shall I, who aim and aspire so high as fellowship with God, debase and degrade my self with the vilest servitude? Shall I defile in that puddle again, till my own cloaths abhor me, who aims at so pure and so holy a society? Shall I yoke in my self with drunkards, liars, swearers, and other slaves of sin? Shall I rank my self thus, and conform my self to the world, seing there is a noble and glorious society to incorporat with, the King of kings to converse with daily? Alas, what are these worms that sit on Thrones to him? [Page 206] But f [...]r more, how base are these companions in iniquity, your Pot-companions? &c. And what a vile society is it, l [...]k [...] that of the bottomlesse pit, where Devils are linked together in chains?


1 Joh. 2.1.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not▪ And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, &c.

IN the Gospel we have the most perfect provi­sion against both these extremities, that souls [...]re ready to run upon, the rock of desperat dis­trust, and the quick-sands of presumpt [...]ous wan­tonnesse. It may be said to be a well ordered Covenant in all things, that hath caveated and cautioned the whole matter of our salvation, in such a way, that there is neither place for dis­couragement and down-casting, nor yet room for liberty in sin; there is no exemption from the obligation of Gods holy Law, and yet there is pardon for the breach of it, and exemption from the curse; there is no peace, no capitula­tion with sin, and yet the [...]e is peace concluded with the sinner, who is, by that agreement, bound to fall out with sin; there is no dispensation for sin, and from the perfection of holinesse, and yet there is an advocation for the sinner, which aims [Page 207] and studies after it; so that in sum, the whole Gospel is comprised in this, he speaks peace to his saints, but let them not return to folly▪ thou art made whole, sin no more; All that is in th [...] Gospel saith this, that thou should sin no more ▪ But, because sin is necessarily incident, therefore all that is in the Gospel, speaks this further, though ye be su [...]prized in sin, yet believe; and this is the round that a believer is to walk into▪ to turn from pardon to purity, and from pollu­tion again to pardon; for these voices and sounds a [...]e interchanged continually; If ye have sinned, believe in Christ the advocate and sacrifice, and, because ye have believed, sin not; but if ye be o­vertaken in sin, yet believe; and as this is daily renewed, so the souls study and indeavour in them, should be daily renewed too. If ye have sinned, despair not; if ye be pardoned, yet pre­sume not: after sin there is hope, it is true, be­cause there is forgivenesse with him; but after forgivenesse, there must be fear to offend hi [...] goodnesse; for there is forgivenesse with him, that he may be feared, Psal. 130.4. And this is the situation I would desire my soul into, to be placed between hope of his mercy, and fear of sin, the saith of his favour, and the hatred of sin, which he will not favour; and how happy were a soul to be confined within these, and kept captive to its true liberty?

I spake a little before, how thes [...] fundamental truth [...] that a [...]e set down before, do all aim at this [Page 208] one mark, that we sin not; Now I proceed. That declaration what God i [...], vers. 5. is expresly di­rected to this purpose, and applyed, vers. 6. God is light, and therefore sin not, for sin is darknesse; he is light, for purity and beauty of holinesse, and perfection of knowledge, that true light in which is no darknesse, that unmixt light, all ho­mogeneous to it [...]elf, therefore sin not, for that is a work of the night, and of the darknesse, th [...]t proceeds from the blindnesse and estrangement of your minds, and ignorance of your hearts, and it cannot but prepare and fit you for these ever­lasting chains of darknesse. Call God what you will, name all his names, stiles, and titles, spell all the characters of it, and still you may find it written at every one of them, sin not; Is he light ▪ then sin not. Is he life? then sin not: for sin will separat you from his light and life, sin will darken your souls, and kill them. Is he love? then sin not; God is love (saith Iohn) O then sin not against love. Hatred of any good thing is deformed, but the hatred of the beautiful image of the original love, that is monstruous: God is love, and in his love is your life and light; then to sin against him, it is not simple disobe­dience, nor is it only grosser rebellion, but it hath that abominable slain of ingratitude in it. Do you read, that it is written, he is holy, then sin not, for this is most repugnant to his holi­nesse, his holy eyes cannot see it. Therefore if thou would have him look upon thee with fa­vour, [Page 209] thou must not look upon sin with savour, or intertain it with delight; Is it written that he is great and powerful? then sin not, that were madnesse. Is it written, that he is good and gra­ciou [...]? then it is written, that ye sin not; for that were wick [...]dnesse: it were an unspeakabl [...] folly and madnesse, to of [...]end so great a God, that can so easily avenge himself; and it were abomi­nable perversnesse and wickednesse, to sin against so good and gracious a God, who, though he may avenge himself, yet of [...]ers pardon and peace, and beseecheth us to accept it. Is he just? then sin not; for he will not acquit the wicked, nor hold them guil [...]lesse, them, who do acquit themselves, and yet hold by their sins. And is he merciful? then, O then, sin not, because he hath acquitted the [...], because he is ready to blot out thy guilt; wilt thou sin against mercy, that must save thee? Again, is it written, that the blood of Iesus Christ cleanseth from all sin? that is written, that ye sin not. It is true, it is written, because [...]e have sinned already, that ye may know how it may be pardoned. But moreover it is written, that ye sin no more, that so, more sin may be pre­vented, at least, deliberat continued walking in sin; so that this blood hath a twofold vertu [...] and use; To be the greatest incouragement to a soul troubled for sin, and the chiefest arg [...] ­ment and inducement for [...] soul not to sin▪ this medicine, or this plaister, hath two notable ver­tues, restorative, and preservative, to restore the [Page 210] bones that already are broken, through falling in sin; and to preserve our feet from f [...]rther falling in sin. It h [...]th a healing vertue, for these brui [...]es that are in the soul; and besides, it is an antidot and soveraign preservative against the poyson [...]nd infection of sin and the world. What motive is like this, the Son of God shed his blood for our sins, they cost a dear price, O, how precious was the ransome? More precious then Gold, and Silver, [...]nd precious Stones, because the redemption of the soul is so precious, that it would have cease [...] for ever without it. Now, what soul can delibe­ratly think of this, [...]nd receive it with any affection into the heart, but he shall find the most vehement perswasion against sin; he cannot but behold the hainousnesse [...]nd infinit evil that is in it, which required such an infinit recom­pence? And can a soul on that view run to the puddle and defile again, when he sees how dearly the fountain for cleansing was purch [...]sed? Can [...] believing heart have such treacherous thoughts harboured within him, to crucifie afresh the Lor [...] of glory, and, as it were, to trample under foot his blood? No certainly, he that believes in this blood, cannot use it so dishonourably and base­ly; As it is written, that he sin not, so he read [...] it, and believes it, that he may not sin, as well [...] becaus [...] he hath sinned. Many speak of this blood, and think they [...]pply it to th [...] cleansing of thei [...] sin past, but it is rather that they may sin with more liberty; [...]s if the end of vomiting up a sur­feit [Page 211] of sin, were to surfeit more; and the end of washing, were nothing else but to defile again. Ce [...]tainly, this blood i [...] not for such souls, not one wo [...]d of comfort in the Word, not one drop of hope in the blood, to them who pretend to believe in Christs blood, and continue in sin, as fresh and lively as eve [...] they did, nothing abated of their desires, or customs. But if we confesse our sins, God will forgive (say you) and this we may do at any time, and this we do daily. Nay, but (saith Iohn) this is written that you sin not; not to incourage you to sin. It is not recorded for this end, that you may live after your own imaginations and former customs, with [...]ecurity and peace, upon this presumption, that pardon is easily procurable, if [...] say, God have mer­cy upon me, ere I die. Do not deceive your selves, for it is written for the just contrary, that you sin no more, and return no more to folly. If he had said, if we sin, though we confesse, yet he [...]s just to punish us, you would then be driven to desperation, and from that, to [...] desperat con­clusion, since we must be punished however, let [...]s not punish our selves here, in mortifying our flesh; Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we shall die: Di [...] we must, let us deserve it; for where there is no hope, there is no help for re­formation. But now, when there is such an un­expected proposal of grace, when God who is fre [...] to punish us, becomes indebted by his promise to [...]orgive our debts, we humbly submitting to [Page 212] him, and conf [...]ssing our guil [...]inesse, this su [...]p [...]is [...]l of clemency and moderation, should, yea, cer­tainly will overcome any heart that truly be­lieves it, and conquer it to his love and obedi­ence. The more easily he forgive sin, the more h [...]rdly will a believing heart be d [...]awn to sin. You know any ingenuou [...] spi [...]it will more easily be conquered by kindnesse and conde [...]cendency, then severity and violence; these cords of love, are the cord [...] of a ma [...], [...]uited to the nature of man in whom the [...]e is any spa [...]kle of ingenuity re­maining; how often have men been ingaged and overcome by clemency and goodness, who could not be conquered by force of arms? Enemies have been made frien [...]s by thi [...] means, [...]uch power is in it, to knit hearts together. Augustus, when he was acquainted with the conspi [...]acy of one of his chief Minions Cinna, whom he had made a f [...]iend of an enemy, by kindnesse and cour­tesie, takes the s [...]me way, to make of a traitor a constant friend; he doth not punish him, as he had done others, but calls for him, [...]nd declare [...] unto him his vile ingratitude, that when he had given him life and liberty, he should conspire to take away his Princes life; well, when he is con­founded and astonished, and cannot open his mouth, saith Augustus, I give thee thy life [...]gain, first an open enemy, and now a traitor; yet from this day, let an inviol [...]ble f [...]iendship be bound up between us, and so it proved: for this way of dealing did totally ove [...]come his heart, and blot [Page 213] out all [...]editious though [...]. But O, how incom­parably greater is his condescendency and cle­mency, whose Person is [...]o high and sacred, whose Laws are so just [...]nd holy, and we so ba [...]e [...]nd wretched, to pardon [...]uch infinit guilt, rebel­lion, and treachery, against such an i [...]finit M [...]je­sty, and that, when a soul doth but begin to blush, and be ashamed with it self, and cannot open its mouth; I say, this rare and unparallel'd goodnesse and me [...]cy being considered, cannot but tame and daunt the wildest [...]nd most savage nature; wilde be [...]sts a [...]e not brought in subje­ction and tamed, but by gentle usage; it is not fiercenesse and violence can cure their fierceness, but meekness, and condescendency, to follow their humours, and soft dealing with them; as [...] rod is not bowed by great strength, but broken, even so, these things, of the promise of pardon for sin, of the grace and re [...]dinesse of God to pardon upon the easiest terms, are written for this end, that our wilde and undaunted natures may be tamed, and may bow and submit wil­lingly to the yoke of his obedience, and may henceforth knit such a sacred bond of friendship [...]nd fellowship with God, as may never be bro­ken.

But, say ye, who is he that sins not? Who can s [...]y, my heart is pure, and my way is clean? Who can say, I h [...]ve no sin? And therefore that cannot be expected which you crave. Nay, but saith the Apostle, These things I write unto you, [Page 214] that ye sin not. Because [...]in is in all, there [...]ore you excuse your self in your sins, and takes li­berty to sin; but the very contrary, is the in­tent of the declaring unto us that we have [...]in▪ he shews that none want it, not that ye may be the more indulgent towa [...]ds it, but the more watchful against it. It is not to make you se­cure, but rather to give you alarm; even the best and holiest, it is an ala [...]m to them, to tell them that sin is in confintis, in their very bor­ders, th [...]t the enemy is even in their quarters, ye [...], in their bosome; Ce [...]tainly, this should so much the mo [...]e excite us against it, and a [...]m us for it every moment, lest either by fraud, or fo [...]ce, by sec [...]et undermining, or open violence, it draw us away from God. This word, If we say we have no sin, we lie: It is a watch-word given to men, a warning to enter in consi­deration of themselves, for the enemy being within, there is no flying from him, we carry him about with us, and being within, he is lesse di [...]ce [...]ned; and therefore we ought to awake, and so walk circumspectly, with eyes in our head, lest we be su [...]prized at unawars, either in that time we know not of, or at that place we least su [...]pect. And to others of you, who have never attained any victory over your sin [...], and scarce have a discerning of them; I would only say this, that the unive [...]sality of sins inhabitation, or beeing in all men, even the godly, will not excuse sins domination and reign in you. It i [...] [Page 215] strange, that since the holiest have need of conti­nual watching against this bosome enemy, that ye who have both little knowledge and strength, should think ye may live securely, and not trouble your selves. I [...] they have need to take heed, how much more have ye, since it is but in them, but it reigns in you.


1 Joh. 2.1.

—And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, &c.

THere is here a sad supposition, but too cer­tain, that any man may sin, yea, that all men will sin, even those who have most commu­nion with God, and interest in the blood of Christ, yet they are not altogether exempted from this fatal lot of mankind, it is incident even to them to sin, and too frequently inci­dent; but yet we have a happy and sweet pro­vision, for indempnity from the hazard of sin: We have an advocate with the Father. Grant the probability, ye [...], the necessity and certainty of that supposal, If any man do sin, yet there is as much certainty of indempnity from sin, as of ne­cessity of falling into sin. It is not more sure, that we shall carry about with us matter of sor­row and mourning; but that it is a [...] sure, that [Page 216] we have alwayes without us, matter of rejoyce­ing.

Let me then speak a word to these particu­lars: First, that sin is incident to the best, even after all perswasions, convictions, resolutions, desires, and design [...] to avoid sin. Next, that it is usual for sins after me [...]cy, conviction, and re­solution to appear so hainous, that they may seem to over-top the mercy o [...] God, and th [...] me­rit [...] of Christ; a soul is most apt to be troubled with guilt contracted after pardon, and a desire of purity. But withall, I would in the last place represent to you, that there is no ground of de­spair, or discouragement for such an one, though there be ground [...] humiliation and mou [...]ning; there i [...] a provision made in the Gospel against these continually incident [...]e [...]rs, there is a [...]ecu­rity against the hazard of surp [...]izing sins, and that this comfort belongs only to such souls, as un [...]eignedly desire not to sin, and are in some measu [...]e perswaded by the grace of God not to sin; not to them who willingly give up them­selves to their own lusts. It is a common do­ctrine a [...] any, that sin hath some lodging in every mans hea [...]t and flesh, and is not totally cast out, but only bound with chains within, that it do not exe [...]cise its old dominion over a believer. But I fear, the most common t [...]uths, though t [...]ey be most substantial in themselves, yet are but circumstantial in our apprehensions, and very r [...]rely and ext [...]aordinarily have place in t [...]e deep­er [Page 217] and more serious thoug [...]ts of our hearts: they are commonly confessed, it is true, but as sel­dome considered, I am sure; for who did t [...]uly ponder the inclinablenesse of our nature to sin, the strong propension of the heart to evil, the deceitfulnesse of sin it self, and the many circum­stantial helps, and additions it gets to its strength, but he would stand in aw, and watch seriously over himself. I dar say, many sin, [...]ather be­cause of a misapprehended immunity from it, and a misse-reckoning of their own measure and strength, then because of the strength of sin it sel [...]. I know no one thing makes sin so strong [...] this, that we do not apprehend our own weak­nesse, and so give over watch [...]ulnesse, which is the greatest and best part of our armour of de­fence, when it is done in faith, and this watch kept on the Tower of the Lords Promises; The apprehension of our escaping the pollutions of the world, and of some strength to resist them, this adds no more strength to us, but diminish­eth and taketh from our vigilancy, and so expos­eth us, as it were, naked and secure, to the cruelty of our adversary. I would wish every Christian to be throughly acquainted, and of­ten conversant in two Books of Sophistry, I may so term them, the deceitfulnesse of his own heart, and the deceivablenesse of sin, Ier. 15. and Heb. 3.13. These are the Volumns he would daily tu [...]n over, to learn to discern the Sophisticati­ons, self-flatteries, blindnesse, darknesse, and [Page 218] self-love of his own heart; to take off the de­ceiving mask of pretences and appearances of good, and behold sensibly the true and real in­clinations of the heart to wickednesse, to passi­on, pride, uncleannesse, malice, envy, and all these affections of the flesh: to find out the true beating of the pulse of the heart; and indeed this just discerning and discovery of the thief in the soul, is a great part of his arraignment; for if sin ly under the view of an eye that hates it, and loves God, much of its power and vertue, which lay in darknesse, is taken away. I presse this the more, because I verily apprehend it to be the plague of many Christians, who have some gene­ral insight into the matter of good and evil, and espy some more gross corruption in themselves, and have some affection to good, yet this estrang­ednesse to our own hearts, and the vein or strain of them, the not unbowelling of our hidden af­fection [...], and not discerning of the poyson of pride, self-love, love of the world, and such like lusts, which are intermingled in all that we do, and spread, as it were, universally through the whole man; this, I say, makes most of us be subject to so many surprisals by sin; we are often rout­ed before we draw up, and often conquered ere we consider: this makes us such unproficients in mortif [...]ation, so that scarce any sin is killed, while the roots of all sin lyes hid under the ground from u [...]. Then withal, I desire you to study how deceivable a thing sin is, how many de­ceitful [Page 219] fair pretences it is covered with, it hath the voi [...]e of Iacob, but the hands of Esau; look what it is that is pleasant or [...]uitable to our natu­ral spi [...]its, it insinuat [...] it self alwayes under the sha­dow of that, and if there be not much heedfulness and attention, and much expe [...]ience o [...] the wiles of that subtill one, it is a great hazard to be catch­ed with it un [...]dvisedly, while we clasp about another thing, which is presented as a bait and allurement. Now, is it any wonder that a poor soul be drawn to sin often, when our enemy doth not [...]or the most part pro [...]esse hostility, but friend­ship, and under that colour pleads admission, within our Ports; and besides, we have [...] treacherous friend in our bosome, that betrayes us into his hands, that is, our own deceitful hearts: These things I mention, to put you i [...] remembrance of what condition you are in, in this world, and what posture you should be into; watch, (I say) and when ye have done all, stand with your loins girt; and though you cannot pos­sibly escape all sin, yet certainly it is not in vain thus to set against it, and keep a watch over it, for by this means you shall escape more sin, and sin lesse; as he that aims at the mark, though he do not hit it, yet he shall ordinarily come nearer it, then he that shoot [...] only at randome; & as the Army that is most vigil [...]nt and watchful, though they cannot prevent all l [...]sses and ha­zards, yet commonly they are not found at such a losse, as those who are proud, [...]onfident, and secure.

[Page 220]Now, as it is suppo [...]ed, that sin is ordinarily incident to the child o [...] God, so it is especially to be caveated, that he despair not in his sins, for it is imported in this provision, that the be­liever is in great haza [...]d upon new lapses into sin, either of daily incursion, or of a grosser nature, to be discouraged; As there is so much corrup­tion in any mans heart, as will turn the grace of God into w [...]ntonnesse, and incline him upon the propo [...]al of free grace, to presume to take liber­ty to the flesh, so, that same corruption upon another occasion, works another way, upon the supposal of new sins, aggravated with preceed­ing mercy and grace in God, and convictions and resolution [...] in him, to drive him into despon­dency, and dejection of spirit, as if there were no pardon for such sins. And indeed, it is no wonder if the soul be thus set upon, if we set [...]side the consideration of the infinit grace of God, that far surpasseth the ill deserts of men. To speak of the very nature of the thing it self, there is no sin in its own nature more unpardon­able, then sin after pardon; nothing so hainous, aggravated with so many high circumstances, which mingleth it with the wo [...]st ingredients, as this sin, after so much grace revealed in the Go­spel, to the end that we may not sin. Sins wash­ed so freely, in so precious a sountain, and yet to defile again; sins forgiven so readily, and easi­ly, the debt whereof, in Justice the whole crea­tion wa [...] not [...]ble to pay, and yet, to offend so [Page 221] gracious a Father; a soul being throughly con­vinced of the vanity, folly, and madnesse of sin, of the deceitfulnesse and basenesse of its plea­sures, and set in a posture against it, as the most deadly enemy, and yet after all this, to be foil­ed, deceived, and insnared; Here, I say, are very piercing considerations, which cannot but set the challenge ve [...]y deep into the heart of a Christian, and wound him sore; how will he be filled with shame [...]nd con [...]usion of face, if he look upon God? every look or beam of whose coun­tenance, represents into the soul the vilest and most abominable visage of sin; or if he look in­to himself▪ there is nothing but self-condemning there, he finds his own conscience staring him, as a thousand witnesses; thus the soul of a believ­er being environed, he is ready to app [...]ehend, that though God should have pardoned the sins of his ignorance, yet that there is more difficul­ty in this, to pardon his returnings to solly, and therefore are some put to harder exercise, and greater terrours after conversion, then in the time of it; the sins of ignorance being, as it were, removed as a cloud, and scored out in a heap, but the sins of knowledge after mercy, lying more distinctly and clearly in the view of the soul; it is more difficult to blot them out of the conscience, and sprinkle the heart from an evil conscience: These thing [...] I spe [...]k to you for this reason, that you may be affraid to sin. I suppose that there is no h [...]z [...]rd of eternal dam­nation [Page 222] by sin, grant that you know before-hand, that if you sin, there i [...] yet forgivenesse with him, and there is no hazard of pe [...]ishing by it, yet, su [...]e I am, it is the most foolish adventure in the world, to t [...]ke liberty on that account, for though there be in [...]empnity that way, as to thy eternal estate, yet I am perswaded, that there is more damnage another way, in thy spiritual estate in this wo [...]ld, then all the gains o [...] sin can countervail: There is a necessary losse of peace, and joy, and communion of the Holy Ghost; it is inevitable in the ve [...]y o [...]dinary and natural cou [...]se and connexion of thing [...], but that sin, that way indulged, will eclipse thy soul, and bring some darknesse of sorrow, and horrour over it; to speak after the manne [...] of man, and in the way of reason it self, the inte [...]tainment of that which God hates, will dep [...]ive thee of mo [...]e solid joy and sweetnesse in him, then all the pleasures of sin could affo [...]d. Therefore I dare not sa [...] to you (as one too unadvisedly expresseth it) Fear not, th [...]ugh you do sin, of any hurt that can come by these sins, for if y [...]u sin, it shall do you no hurt at all: I say, this were indeed but to make you too bold with sin. I had rather represent unto you, that though ye be secured in your eternal estate, and there can come no condemnation that way, yet there is much hurt comes by sin, even in this world, and sure, I think it a ve [...]y rational and Christian inducement, to prevail w [...]th a Christian not to sin, to tell him that he [Page 223] shall make a foolish bargain by it, for he shall lo [...]e much more then he can gain. Is there no hurt or losse incident to men, but eternal perdit [...]on? Nay, my beloved, there is a losse Christians may sustain by sinning freely, which all the combined advantages of sin cannot compense; Is not one hours communion with God, is not the peace of your own consciences, and the joy of the Spirit, such inestimable Jewels, that it were more suit­able for a man to sell the world, and buy them, then to sell them, and buy [...] poor momentany trifling contentment, which hath a sting in th [...] tail of It, and leaves nothing but vexation after it? O these bruises in Davids bones, these breaches in his spirit, that losse of the joy of his salvation! Let these teach you who are escaped the great hurt of sin, to fear at least to be hurt by it this way, more then ever you can expect to be help­ed by it.

But then, I desire to add this in the third place, that there is provision made against th [...] discouragement of these souls that desire not to sin, and yet sin against their desire. If the chal­lenge I spoke of, be written in thy conscience, as it were with the point of a Diamo [...]d, deeply ingr [...]ven; yet my beloved, consider, that if any man sin, we have an advocate, &c. There is an expresse caution against thy discouragement▪ certainly our Saviour hath provided for it, since the case is so incident, and the supposition so ordinary, it is not conceivable that he hath not [Page 224] caveated and [...]ecured thy salvation in such cases: for he knew certainly be [...]ore he pardoned thee, and visited thee at fi [...]st, that thou was to be sub­ject unto this necess [...]ry burden o [...] sin, and that it would often times molest and trouble you, and sometimes prevail over you; all this he knew, that when ye should order your forces, and draw out against sin, with the greatest desire and reso­lution, that yet you might be soiled unexpect­edly; and this was not unknown to him, when he shewed mercy at first; there [...]or [...], since his love is unchangeable, and his wisdom (being infi­nit,) [...]aith it should be so, he would never have cast his love on [...]uch persons, if these thing [...] which were then before him, could make him change. Now, I grant there is more wonder in the pardon of following sins, then in the fi [...]st pardon; and there­fore you should still love more, and praise more; but what is this wonder, to the wonder of hi [...] grace? it is swallowed up in that higher wonder, For his thoughts and wayes are not like ours, hi [...] voice is, Return thou back-sl [...]ding sinner to thy first Husband, tho [...]gh thou hast played the harlot. Therefore, I desire that whatsoever be present­ed in that kind, to aggravat your sins, let it humble you more indeed, and make you hate sin, but let it not hinder you to think as highly of his mercy and grace, and to set that in the Hea­ven [...] above it.


1 Joh. 2.1.

—And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, &c.

IT is the natural office of the conscience to ac­cuse a man in evil doing, as every man by sin is lyable to the judgment of the supream Court of Heaven, so he is likewise subject to the in [...]eri­our Court of his own Conscience; for the most high God hath a Deputy within every mans breast, that not only is a Witness, but a Judge, to fasten an accusation, and pronounce a sentence upon him according to the L [...]w of God. And while it is so, that a man is accused in both Courts, at the supream Tribunal, and the lower House o [...] a mans own Conscience, when mans accuser is within him, and God his righteous Iudge above him, Who can come in to plead such a man [...] cause? A person self-condemned, who shall plead for his absolution? If he cannot but accuse him­self, and stop his mouth, being guilty befor [...] God of the transgressions of all his Law, then what place for an advocate to excuse him, or de­fend his cause? And who is it that can enter in the lifts with God, who, because the supream and highest Judge, must be both Judge and Par­ty? Where shall a dayes-man be found to lay hi [...] hands on both, and advocate the desperat▪ like cause of sinners? Truly here we had been at an [Page 226] eternal stand, and here had the businesse stuck for ever, for any thing that the Creation could imagine, had not the infinit grace and wisdome of Go [...] opened themselves to mankind, in opening▪ a door of hope to broken and out-law sinners; and behold, here is the provision is made for the sec [...]ity and salvation of lost souls, there is One able and mighty to save, a person found out fit for this advocation, who taketh the broken cause of sinners in hand, and pleads it out, and makes out Justice to be for them, and not against them, If any man sin, we have an advocate, &c.

There is one thing impo [...]ted, that sin maketh a man li [...]ble to a charge and accusation, and brings him under the hazard of judgment. In­deed, its hard [...]nough to endure an accusing c [...]nscience, and a spirit wounded with the appre­hen [...]ion of wrath; When our Saviour would ex­presse great [...]liction, he doth it thu [...], A man [...] enemies shall be those of his own house. If a do­mestick enemy be [...]o ill, what shall a bosome-enemy be, when a man [...] accuser is not only be­side▪ him, but within him, not only in the house with him, but in the field too, carried about with him whithe [...]soever he goeth, so that he can have no retiring or withdrawing [...]place from it▪ Indeed, some poor soul [...] make a mad escape from under the challenge of their consciences, they get away from their keepers to more ex­cesse in sin; or make some vain diversion to com­p [...]ny▪ and other things o [...] the world, but the [Page 227] end thereof shall be more [...]itternesse, for that will not still sleep within them, but shall awake upon them with more terrou [...], and one day put them in such a posture, that all the comforts of the world shall be but as a drop of water to a man in a burning fever, or as oyl to a flame. But, as I told you, that is not the greatest mat­ter, to be self-accused, and self-condemned, if there were not a higher T [...]ibunal, which this pro­cesse originally flows from, one greater then the conscience, who speaks to us in his Word, and hath written his charge and sentence against us, and this is it which [...]ets the soul most on edge, and it is but the very apprehension of that high­er judgment, which is the gall and wormwood, the po [...]on of these challenges in the conscience. I would desire you to look upon this, and con­sider that there is a sentence past in the Word of God upon all your actions, that the wrath of God is revealed in the Scriptures as due to you, however you may flatter your selves in your sins, and fancy an immunity from wrath, though you live in sin: I wish ye were once perswaded of this, that all sinners must once appear before Gods Tribunal, and hear the righteous sentence of the duenesse of punishment pronounced; I say, all must once appear, either to hear and believe it, or to see it executed; the wisdom of God re­quires, that all mens guilt, which is a transgres­sion of the Law ▪ should once come to a judicial tryal, and decision by the Law; and either this [Page 228] must be done in your own consciences here, th [...]t ye may sist your selves before him, and take with your sins, and humble your selves in his sight, and then the matter is put over upon a Media­tor, or else you must give him leave, nay, he will take leave to cite you to appear, to see the sen­tence executed, which was pronounced, since ye would not apply it to your own heart [...]. O, hap­py is that soul that anticipat [...] that great day of final judgment, by a previous self-judgment, and self-t [...]yal. Well then▪ hath the Scripture [...] in­cluded all under sin, that all men might be guilty, and every mouth stopt before God, Rom. 3.19. What shall we do then? Since righteousnesse and justice is against us, who can plead for us? It would seem, that there could be no relaxing, no repealing, no dispensing with this Law, at least, that, i [...] there be any thing of that kind, that righ­teousnesse and judgment can have no hand in it▪ Yet, behold what follows, We have an advocate, &c. And an Advocate his office is, to sue out the Cliants right, from principles of Justice, else­where Christ hath the office of a Iudge, here is an Advocate for the party, and both of these may have a comfortable con [...]ideration: Ioh. 5.22. The Father judgeth none, but hath committed all judgment to the Son. And yet, here we have an Advocate with the Father, and that is, with the Father as Judge: these do not crosse one ano­ther, but to make out our abundant consolation, that one intire office of our Saviour is represent­ed [Page 229] under all these various [...] suited to our capacity; A Judge he is, yea, his Tribunal is the highest and [...]upream, from which there is no appeal, the ultimat decision lyes here of all ca­pital, or soul ca [...]es or causes. It is true, the Fa­ther doth not wholly divest himself of Judgment and Authority, in the matters of life and death, for the Gospel is his contrivance, as it was the Sons, but Christ is, as it were, substituted his Vicegerent, in the administration of the second Covenant. You read of a preparatory Tribu­nal erected in the Word by God the Creator, that is, of the Law, which condems us. Now, such is the mercy and grace, and free love of God, that he hath relaxed that sentence, as to the persons, he hath not taken that advantage which in Justice he had against us, but upon some valuable consi­derations hath committed to the Son a royal power of prescribing new Laws of life and death, and new terms of salvation, and Christ, having at his Fathers will, satisfied the Law, in what it did threaten us, he is, as it were, in compensation of such a great service, made Lord and King both of the dea [...] and living, Rom. 14.9. And all things in Heaven and earth are given to him, Mat. 18.29. Joh. 13▪ 3. And therefore, what ever soul is a­grieved under the accusation and charge of the Law, hath liberty, yea, and is called to it, of duty, to appeal unto this new erected Tribunal where Christ sits to dispense life, according to the terms of grace; and he may be sure, the Father, [Page 230] will not judge him [...]co [...]ding to the Law, if t [...]e Son absolve him in the Gospel.

Now, with this it consists, that he who hath all final judgment in hi [...] hand, yet he is ou [...] advocate in another conside [...]ation; as we consider God the [...]ther sitting upon the Tribunal o [...] Justice, and p [...]oceeding acco [...]ding to the te [...]ms and [...]enor o [...] hi [...] fi [...]s [...] Law, o [...] Covenant of life an [...] death; then Christ come [...] in, with hi [...] advocation for poor sinners, and sustain [...] their persons, and maintains their cause, even from the p [...]inciples of Justice▪ he presents his satis [...]acto [...]y [...]c [...]ifice, and pleads that we are not to be charged with that punish­ment that he hath suffe [...]ed, b [...]cause he hath in­deed fulfi [...]led our legal righteousness, and by this means, the Laws mo [...]th i [...] sto [...]t, which h [...]d stopt our mouth, and the [...]inner i [...] [...], who was [...]ound guilty. Thu [...], you see the salvation and absolution of believers, is wonde [...]fully [...]cu [...]ed▪ [...]or the [...]e is a sentence [...]or it, in the Co [...]t of the Gospel, pronounced by the S [...], but l [...]st▪ you think he should usu [...]p such an absolute power, then hear, that he i [...] an advo [...]ate to plead out the equity and justice of it, be [...]o [...]e the very Tri­bunal of the Law, that the Law it s [...]lf being the [...]ule, the Father himself who made the Law be­ing the Judge, the poor soul that flyes unto him as a [...]e [...]uge, may be saved, since what is craved of us, it gets in him, and is as fully satisfied that way, as it could have be [...]n by us: therefore, that same righteousnesse which bids condemn the [Page 231] sinner, commands to save the believer in Christ, though a sinner. What shall a [...]oul then [...]ea [...], who shall condemn? it is Christ that justifieth, [...]or he is Judge of li [...]e and death, and that is much; but it is the Father that justifieth, and that is more; whatsoever Tribunal you be cited unto, you may be sure; Is it the Gospel? then the Son is Judge. Is it the [...]aw? then the Son is advocate. He will not only give li [...]e him [...]el [...], but see that his Father do it, and wa [...]and you from all back-haza [...]ds. Nay, be [...]ore the matter shall misgive, as he comes down from off the Throne, to stand at the Bar and plead for sinners, who de­volve themselves upon him, so he will not spare, if need require, to degrade him [...]el [...] fu [...]ther (if I may so say) and of an advocate become a sup­plicant. And truly he ceased not in the dayes of his flesh to pray for us, with strong cryes and tears, Heb. 7. And now he lives still to make intercession for us. He can turn from the plea of justice, to the intercession and supplication of mercy, and if st [...]ict justice will not help him, yet grace and savour, he is sure will not disappoint him.

There is a divine contexture of justice and mercy, in the businesse of mans redemption, and there is nothing so much declare [...] in [...]init wisdom, as the m [...]thod, order, and frame of it. Mercy might have been shewed to sinners, in gracious and [...]ee pardon of their sins, and dispensing with the punishment due to their persons, yet the [Page 232] Lords justice and [...]a [...]th [...]ulnesse in that fi [...]st com­mination, might be wronged and disappointed by it, if no satisfaction should be made for such infinit offences, i [...] the Law were wholly made void, both to the punishment, as also to the pe [...]son: There [...]ore, in the infinit deeps of Gods wisdome there was a way [...]ound out to declare both mercy and justi [...]e, to make both to shine glo [...]iously in this wo [...]k, and indeed, that is the great wonder of men and Angels, such a con­junction, or constellation of divine attributes in one work. And in [...]eed, it is only the most hap­py and [...]avourable aspect, that we can behold the divine M [...]jesty into; The P [...]almist, Psal. 85. ex­pects muc [...] good from this conjunction o [...] the Celestial Att [...]ibutes, and prognosticks salvation to be near hand, and all good thing [...], as the im­mediat effect of it. There is a meeting there, as it were, of some hon [...]urable personages, vers. 10, 11. as are in Heaven; the meeting is strange, if you consider the parties, mercy and truth, righ­teousnesse and peace, i [...] mercy and peace had met thus [...]i [...]ndly, it had been lesse wonder, but it would seem, that righteousness and truth should stand off, or meet only to reason and dispute the businesse with me [...]cy: But here is the won­der, mercy and truth meets in a [...]iendly manner, and kisseth one another, ther's a perfect agree­ment and harmony amongst them, about this matter of our sa [...]vation; The [...]e was a kind of [Page 233] pa [...]ting at mans fall, but they met again at Christs birth; here is the uniting principle, truth spring­ing out of the earth, because he who is the truth & the life, was to [...]pring out of the earth, therefore righteousnesse will look down from Heaven, and countenance the businesse, and this will make all of them meet with a loving salutation.

Now, as this was the contexture of divine attributes in the businesse of redemption, so our Lord and Saviour taketh upon him divers names, offices, and exercises, different functi­ons for us, because he knoweth that his Father may justly exact of man personal satisfaction, and hath him at this disadvantage, and that he might have re [...]used to have accepted any other satis­faction from another person, there [...]ore, he puts on the habit and [...]orm of a supplicant, and inter­cessour for us, and so, while he was in the flesh, he ceased not to offer up prayers and supplications with strong cryes and tears, and h [...] is said still to make intercession for us [...]as he learned obedience, though a Son, so he learned to be a humble suppli­cant, though equal with God; because our claim depends wholly on grace, he came off the bench, and stood at the bar, not only pleading, but praying for us, intreating savour and mercy to us; and then, he personats an Advocate in ano­ther consideration, and pleads upon termes of justice, that we be pardoned, because his Fa­ther once having accepted him in our stead he gave a satisfaction in value equal to our debt, [Page 234] and pe [...]formed all that we were personally bond to, so then, you may unde [...]stand, how it is, pa [...]tly an act of j [...]stice, partly an act of me [...]cy, in God to [...]o [...]give [...]in to believers, though indeed mercy and grace is the predominant ingredient, because love and grace was the very fi [...]t rise, and spring of sending a Saviour and Redeemer, and so the original of that very pu [...]chase and prize, He freely sent his Son, and freely accepted him in our stead; but once standing in our [...]oo [...], ju­stice craves that no more be exacted of u [...], since he hath done the businesse himself.

A sinner stands accused in his own Conscience, and before God ▪ therefore, to the end that we get no wrong, there is a twofold Advocate given us, one in the E [...]rth, in our Consciences, ano­ther in the Heavens with God▪ Christ is gone up to the highest T [...]ibunal, where the cause re­ceives a definitive sentence, and there he ma­nageth it above, so that though Satan should obtrude upon a poor soul, a w [...]ong sentence in its own con [...]cience, an [...] bring down a false and counte [...]feit Act, as it were, extracted out of the Register of H [...]ven, whereby to deceive the poor soul, [...]nd con [...]emn it in it self; yet there is no hazard above, he dare not appear there, be [...]ore the highest Court, for he hath already succumb'd on [...], when Christ was here, the Prince of the worl [...] was judged and cast out, and so he will never once put in an accusation into Heaven, because he knoweth our [...]aith [...]ul Advo­cate [Page 235] [...] n [...]thing can passe without hi [...] know [...]edge and consent. And this is a great com [...]o [...]t, that all infe [...]iour sentences in thy per­plexed con [...]ci [...]n [...]e, which Satan through violence hath imposed upon thee▪ are r [...]inded above in the highe [...] Court, and shall no [...] stand to thy prejudi [...], whoever th [...] [...]e that desires to [...]or­sake sin, and come to Iesus Christ.

But how doth Ch [...]ist plead? can he plead us not guilty? can he excuse, or de [...]end our sins? no, that is not the way, that accusation of the Word and Law against us is con [...]essed, is proven, all is [...]ndenyably clear; but he pleads satisfied, though guilty; he presents his satisfa­ctory sacrifice, and the favour of that, perfumes Heaven, and pacifieth all: he shewes Gods bond, and discharge of the recept of the sum of our d [...]bt, and thus, is he cleared, and we absolved. Therefore, I desire you, whoever you are that are challenged fo [...] sin, and the transgression of the Law, if ye would have a solid way of satis­faction, and peace to your consciences, take with your guiltinesse, plead no [...], not guilty, do no [...] excuse, or extenuat, but aggravat your guilt; nay, in this you may help Satan, accuse your selves, and say, that you know more evil in your selves, then he doth, and open that up before God, but in the mean time▪ consider how it is managed above, plead thou also, sati [...]fied in Christ, though guilty; and so, thou may say to thy accuser, if thou hast any thing to object [Page 236] against me, w [...]y I may not be saved, thoug [...] a sinner, thou must go up to the highest Tribunal to propone it, thou must come before my Judge and Advocate above, but for as much, as thou dost not [...]ppear there, it is but a lie, and a murdering lie.

Now, this is the way, that the Spirit advocats for us in our Consciences, Iohn 14 and 15.26. [...] it is rendered here Advocate, the [...]e Comforter; both suit well, and may be conjoyned in one, and given to both, for both a [...]e com­fortable Advocats, Christ with the Father, and the Spirit with us; Christ is gone above for it, and he sent the Spirit in his stead, as God hath [...] deputy-judge in man, that is, m [...]n [...] Conscience, so the Son our Advocate with God, hath [...] de­puty-advocate to plead the cause in our Consci­ence, and this he doth, partly by opening up the Scripture [...] to us, and making us understand the way of Salvation in them, partly manifesting his own works▪ and Gods gifts in us, by a super-added light of testimony, and partly by com­forting us against all outward and inward sor­rows. Sometimes he pleads with the soul against Satan, not guilty, for Satan is a slanderous and false accuser, and cares not calumniari for­titer ut aliquid hareat, to calumniat stoutly, and he knoweth something will stick. He will not only object known sins and transgressions of the Law, but his manne [...] is, to cast [...] mist upon the eye of the soul, and darken all its graces, and [Page 237] then [...]e brings [...]o [...]th his processe, that they have no grace, no [...]aith in Christ, no love to God, no sor [...]ow fo [...] sin; in such a ca [...]e, its the Spirits of­fice, to plead it out to our conscience [...], that we a [...]e not totally guilty as we are charged, and this is not so much a clearing of our selves, as a vin­dication of the free gifts of God, which ly under his aspe [...]sion and reproach. Indeed, if there be a great stresse here, and for wise reasons the Spi­rit forbear to plead out this point, but leave a poor soul to puddle it out alone, and scrape its evidences together in the da [...]k, I say, if thou find this too ha [...]d for thee to plead, not guilty, then my advice is, that ye wave and suspend that question, yeeld it not wholly, but rather leave it intire, and do as if it were not: suppose that article and point were gained against thee, what would thou do next? Certainly, thou must say, I would then seek grace and faith from Him who giveth liberally, I would then labour to re­ceive Christ in the promises, I say, do that now, and thou taketh a short and compendious way, to win thy cause, and overcome Satan; let that be thy study, and he hath done with it.

But in any challenge about the trangression of the Law, or desert of eternal wrath, the Spirit must not plead, not guilty, for thou must con­fesse that, but in as far as he driveth at a further conclusion, to drive thee away from hope and confidence, to despondency of spirit, in so far the Spirit clear [...] up unto the conscience that this [Page 238] doth no wayes [...]ollow, [...]rom that confession of guiltinesse, since there is a Saviour that hath sa­tisfied for it, and invites all to come and ac­cept him for their Lord and Saviour.


1 Joh. 2.1.

— We have an advocate with the Father, Iesus Christ the righ­teous.

THere i [...] no settlement to the spirit of a sin­ner, that is once touched with the [...] of his sin [...], and apprehen [...]ion of the j [...]stice and w [...]ath of God, but in some clea [...], and dist [...]ct under­standing the grounds of consolation in the Go­spel, and the method of sal [...]ation [...]e [...]ealed in it. There i [...] no solid peace-giving answer to the challenge [...] of the Law, and thy own conscience, but in the advocation of Iesus Christ, the Savi­our of sinners, and therefore, the Apostle pro­pone [...] it here, [...]or the comfort of believers, who [...]re incident to be su [...]prized, through the sud­dennesse of sin, and often deceived by the sub­tilty of [...]atan, wh [...]se souls desires, and sincere ende [...]vours are, to be kept from iniquity, and therefore, they are made to groan within them­selves, and sometimes sadly to conclude again [...] themselves, upon the prevailing of sin, here i [...] [Page 239] the cordial (I say) he presents to them, Iesus Christ standing before the Bar o [...] Heaven, and pleading his [...]atisfaction, in the name of such souls, and so suiting forth an exemption and discharge for them from their sins; so he pre­sents us with the most comfo [...]table a [...]pect, Christ standing between us and Justice, the Mediator interposed between us and the Father, so that there can come no harm to such poor sinners, except it come through his sides first, and no sen­tence can passe against them, unlesse he succumb in his righteous cause in Heaven.

The strength of Christs Advocation for be­lievers, consists partly, in his qualification [...]or the office, partly in the ground and [...]oundation of his cause. His qualification we have in this vers. the ground and [...]oundation of his pleading in the next vers. in that he is a propitiation for our sins, and upon this very ground, his Advo­cation is both just and effectual.

Every word holds out some fitnesse, and there­fore every word drops out consolation to a troubled soul. [With the Father, speaks out the relation he and we stand in to the Judge, he hath not to do with an austere and rigid Judge, that is implacable, and unsatisfiable, who will needs adhere peremptorily to the letter of the Law, for then we should be all undone, if there were not some pate [...]nal affection, and fatherly cle­mency and moderation in the Judge, if he were not so disposed, as to make some candid inter­pretation [Page 240] upon it, and in some manner to relax the sentence, as to our personal suffering, we could never stand before him, nor needed any Advocate appear for us: But here is the great comfort, he is Christs Father, and our Father, so himself told us, Ioh. 20.17. I go to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God. And therefore we may be perswaded that he will not take advantage, even that he hath in justic [...] of us, and though we be apprehensive of his anger, in our failings and offences, and this makes us of­ten to be both affraid and [...]shamed to come to him, measuring him after the manner of men, who are soon angry, and often implacably angry, we imagine that he cannot but repell and put back our petition [...], and therefore we have not the boldnesse to offer them; yet he ceaseth not to be our Father, and Christs Father, and if ye would have the character of a father, look Ier. 31.18. how he stands affected towards ashamed and confounded Ephraim, how his bowels move, and his compassions yearn towards him, as his plea­sant child: The truth is, in such a case in which we [...]re captives against our will, and stumbles against our purpose, be pities us, as a Father doth hi [...] children, knowing that we are but dust and grasse, Psal. 103.13, 14, 15, 16, 17. See the ex­cellent and sweet application of this relation, by the Psalmist, if it stir him, it stirs up rather the affection of pity, then the passion of anger, he pi­ties his poor child when he cryes out, of violence [Page 241] and opp [...]ession. And therefore, there is great hopes that our Advocate Iesus Christ, shall pre­vail in his suits for us, because he with whom he deals, the Father, he loves him, and loves us, and will not stand upon strict terms of justice, but rather attemper all with mercy and love. He will certainly hear his welbeloved Son, for in him he is well pleased, his soul rests and takes compla­cency in him, and for his sake he [...]dopts us to be his children; and therefore he will both hear him in our behalf, and our prayers too, for his Names sake.

But this is superadded to qualifie our Advo­cate, he is the Christ of God, anointed for thi [...] ve [...]y pu [...]pose, and so hath a fair and lawful cal­ling to this office, he takes not this honour to himself, but was called thereto of his Father, Heb. 5.4. As he did not make himself a Priest, so he did not int [...]ude upon the Advocat [...]ship, but he that said, Thou art my Son, called him to it. If a man had never so great ability to plead in the Law, yet except he be licenciat and graduat, he may not take upon him to plead a cause. But our Lord Iesus hath both skill and authority, he hath both the ability and the office, was not [...] self-intruder, or usurper, but the Council of Hea­ven did licenciat him, and graduat him for the whole office of Mediatorship: In which there i [...] the greatest stay and support for a sinking soul, to know that all this frame and fabrick of the Gospel was contrived by God the Father, and [Page 242] that he is master-builder in it, since it is so, there can nothing controll it, or shake it, since it is th [...] very will of God, with whom we have to do, that a Mediator should st [...]nd between him and u [...]: and he hath such a mind to clear poor souls, th [...]t he freely chooseth and giveth them [...]n able Advocate, it is a great token that he hath a mind to s [...]ve as many as come and submit to him, and that he is ready to pardon, when he prepares so fit an Advocate for us, and hath not left us alone to plead our own cause.

But the anointing of Christ for it, implyes both [...] and [...], potentium, & potesta­tem, the gifts for it, as well as the authority, and the ability, as well [...]s the office; for God h [...]th singularly qualified him for it, given him the Spirit above measure, Isai. 61.1. He received gifts not only to distribute to men, but to exercise for men, and their advantage, Psal. 68.18. And therefore the Father seems to interess himself in the cause, as it were his own, he furnisheth our Advocate, as if it were to ple [...]d the c [...]use of his own justice against us, he upholds and strengthens Christ in our cause, a [...] really a [...] if it were his own, Isai. 42.1.6. which expresseth to us the admi­rable harmony and consent of Heaven to the sal­vation of as many as make Christ their refuge, [...]nd desire not to live in sin, though they be of­ten soiled, yet there is no hazard of the f [...]iling of their c [...]use above, because our Advocate hath both exc [...]ll [...]nt [...]kill, and undoubit [...]ble [...]utho­rity.

[Page 243]Yea, he i [...] so fully q [...]alified for this, that [...]e is called Iesus, the Saviour, he is such an Advo­cate, that he saves all [...]e pleads for. The best Advocate may losse the cause, either through the weaknesse of its self, or the iniquity of the Judge, but he is the Advocate and the Saviour, th [...] never s [...]ccumb'd in his undertaking for any soul, be their sins never so h [...]inous, their accu­sation never so just and true, their accuser never so powerful, yet they who put their cause in his hand, who flee in hither for refuge, being we [...] ­ried of the bond [...]ge of sin [...]nd Sat [...]n, he ha [...]h such [...] prevalency with the Father, th [...]t their c [...]use cannot miscarry, even when Justice it self seems to be the opposite party, yet he h [...]th such m [...]rvellous successe in his office, that justice shall [...]ather meet amicably with mercy and peace, and salute them kindly, Psal. 85.10, 11. a [...] being s [...] ­tisfied by him▪ then he come short in his under­t [...]king.

But there is [...]nother personal qualification needful, or all should be in vain, Iesus the righ­teous. If he were not righteous in himself, he had need of an Advocate for himself, and might not ple [...]d for sinners, but he is righteous and ho­ly, no guile found in his mouth, without sin, an un­blameable and u [...]spotted high Priest, else he could not mediate for others, and such an Advocate too, else he could not plead for others, Heb. 7.26. As this perfected his s [...]crifice, that he offered not for his own sins, neither needed, so thi [...] com­pleats [Page 244] his Advocatship, and gives it a mighty i [...]fluence [...]or his poor Clients, that he needs not ple [...]d for himself. If then the Law cannot at­tatch our Lord and Saviour, can lay no claim [...]o him, or cha [...]ge against him, then ce [...]tainly, [...]ll that he did, behoved to be for others, and so he stands in a good capacity to plead for us be­fore the Father, and to sue out a pardon to us, though guilty; for if the just was delivered for the unjust, and the righteous suffered for the unrigh­teous, much more is it consistent with the justice of the Father, to deliver and save the unrighte­ous and unjust sinner, for the [...]ighteous Advo­cats sake. If ye seek me, then let these go free, saith he, Ioh. 18.8. So he in effect pleads with God his Father, O Father, if thou deal with me the righteous One, as with an unrighteous man, then, in all reason and justice, thou must deal with my poor Clients, though unrighteous, as with righteous men; If justice thought she did me no wrong to punish me the righteous, then let it not be thought a wrong to justice to par­don, absolve, and justifie the unrighteous.

Now, if he be so righteous a person, it fol­lows necessarily, that he hath a righteous cause, for an honest man will not Advocate for an unjust cause. But, how can the cause of believers be said to be righteous, when justice it self, and the Law, indites the accusation against them? Can they plead, Not guilty? Or he for them? There is a twofold righ [...]eousnesse, in relation to a two­fold [Page 245] rule, a righteousnesse of strict justice, in re­lation to the first Covenant, and this cannot be pleaded, that our cause is exactly conformable to the Covenant of Wo [...]ks, we cannot, nor Christ in our name, plead any thing from that, which holds [...]orth nothing but per [...]onal obedi­ence, or else personal satisfaction. But yet, our cause may be [...]ound to be righteous, in relation to the second Covenant, and the rule and terms of it, in as f [...]r as God h [...]th revealed his accep­tance of [...] surety in our stead, and hath dispens­ed with the rigour of the Law, according to that new Law of grace and righteousnesse contem­pered together; The cause of a desperat lost sinner may sustain before the righteous Judge, and it is upon this new account, that he pleads for us, because he hath satisfied in our stead; and now it is as righteous and equitable with Go [...] ▪ to shew mercy and forgivenesse to believing sin­ners, as it is to reveal wrath and anger against im­penitent sinners.

I know there will be some secret whisperings in your hearts upon the hearing of this, Oh, its true, it is a most comfortable thing for them whose Advocate he is, there is no fear of the mis­carrying of their cause above, but as for me, I know not if he be an Advocate for me, whether I may come into that sentence, We have an Ad­vocate, &c. I confesse it is true, he is not an Advocate for every one, for while he was here, be prayed not for the world, but them that were [Page 246] given him out of the world, Joh. 17. much more will he not plead for the world, w [...]en he is above; He is [...]ather witnessing against the unbelieving world. But yet, I believe his Advocation is not restrained only to them that actually believe, [...] neither his supplication was, Ioh. 17. But [...] he prayed for them who should [...]e [...]eafter believe, so he still pleads for all the elect, not only to procure remission to the penitent, but repen­tance to the impenitent. There is one not [...]ble ef [...]ect of the Advocation and intercession of Christ, which indeed is common [...]o the world, but par­ticularly intended for the elect, that is, the pre­sent suspension of the execution of the curse of the [...]aw, by vertue whereof there is liberty to offer the Gospel, and c [...]ll sinners to repentance: No question, the spa [...]ing of the world, the for­be [...]nce and long-suff [...]ing of God tow [...]rd sin­ner [...], is the result and f [...]uit of our Lords inter­cession and advocation in He [...]ven, and so even the e [...]ct have the benefit of it before they believe, but it i [...] so provided, that they shall never sen­sibly know this, nor have any special comfort [...]om it, till they believe, and [...]o Christ doth not plead for pardon to their sins till they repent▪ He pl [...]ad [...] even befo [...]e we repent, but we cannot know it, yet, he pleads not that pardon he be­stowed befo [...]e they [...]epent, and so the saving ef­fi [...]acy of hi [...] Advoc [...]tion is peculiar and proper in the applic [...]tion to believing [...]ouls.

Now, consider (I say) whether or not thou [Page 247] be one that find [...] the power of that perswasion, my little children, I write to you that you sin not, &c. Can thou unfeignedly s [...]y, that its th [...] desire and indeavour of thy soul, not to sin, and that thou art perswaded to this, not only from the fear and terrour of God, but especially from his mercy and goodnesse in the Gospel, this is one part of the character of such as Christ [...] ad­vocation is actually extended to. Moreover, being surprised with sin, and overcome beside thy purpose, and against thy desire, dost thou apprehend sin as thy greatest misery, and [...]rr [...]ign thy self before the T [...]ibunal of God, or art thou attached in thy own conscience, and the L [...]w pleaded [...]gainst thee, before the bar of thy own conscience, then, I say, according to this Scrip­ture, thou art the soul unto whom this comfort belongs, thou art called of God, to decide the controversy in thy own conscience, by flying up, [...]nd apealing to that higher Tribunal, where Christ is advocate, thou may safely give over, and trust thy cause to him.

But on the other hand, O, how deplorable and irremedilesse is the condition of these souls, who have no cause of this kind stated within there our conscience, who are not pursued by Satan and sin, but rather at peace with them, amic [...]bly agreeing with them, acting their lusts [...]nd will; you who have no bonds upon you, to restrain you from sin, neither the terrour of the Lord perswadeth you, nor the love of Christ con­strains [Page 248] you; you can be kept from no beloved sin, nor pressed to any serious and spiritual la­bour in Gods service, and then, when you sin, you have no accuser within, or such an one as you sup­pres [...], and suffers not to plead it out against you, o [...] cite you before Gods Tribunal. I say unto you, and al [...]s, many of you are such, you do not, you can not know, that you have an interest in this Advocate. You can have no benefit, nor saving advantage from Christ [...] pleading, while you re­main thu [...] in your sin [...]. Alas, poor soul [...], what will ye do? Can you m [...]nn [...]ge your own cause alone [...] though you defraud and deceive your own consciences now, though ye offer violence to them, do you think so to carry it above? nay, perswade your selves, you must one day appear, and none to speak for you; God you [...] Judge, your conscience your accuser, and S [...]tan your tormentor standing by; and then, [...]o to him that is alone, when the advoc [...]te becomes judge▪ in that day blest are all those that have trusted in him, and used him formerly as an Advocate a­gainst sin and Satan. But wo to them for ever, who would never suffer this cause to be pleaded, while there was an Advocate.


1 Joh. 2.2.

And he is the propitiation, &c.

HEre is the strength of Christs plea, and ground of his advocation, that he is the pro­ti [...]tion. The Advocate is the Priest, and the Priest is the Sacrifice, and such efficacy this sacri­fice hath, that the propitiatorie-sacrifice may be called the very propitiation, and pacification for sin. Here is the marrow of the Gospel, and these are the breasts of consolation, which any poor sinner might draw by faith, and bring out soul-re­freshment. But truly, it comes not out, but by drawing, and there is nothing fit for that but the heart, that alone can suck out of these breasts the milk of consolation. The well of salvation in the word is deep, and many of you have no­thing to draw with, you want the bucket that should be let down, that is, the affection [...]t me­ditation and consideration of the heart; and therefore, you go away empty. You come full of other cares, and desires, and delights, no empty room in your hearts for this, no soul-longings, and thi [...]stings aft [...]r the righteousnesse of God: and therefore, you return as you came, empty of all solid and true refreshment. Oh, that we could draw it sorth to you, and then drop it into your hearts, and make it descend into your consciences.

[Page 250]In these words, you may consider more di­stinctly, who this is, and then, for whom he is made a sacrifice, and withall, the efficacy of this sacri­fice, and the sufficiency. Who this is, is pointed out as with the finger, (He is) that is, Iesus Christ the righteous. The Apostle demonstrats him as a remarkable pe [...]son, as in his Evangel, the Baptist, doth. Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the World. And the Church, Isa. 63.1. taketh a special notice of this person. Who is this that cometh from Edom? and that which maketh him so remarkable, is his strange habit after the treading the Wine-presse of wrath alone, that he was made a bloody sacrifice to pacifie God, and to shew you, how notable a person he is, he is signally, and eminently point­ed [...]ut by the Father, Is [...]. 42.1. Behold my ser­vant, &c. As if he would have the eyes of all men fixed upon him, with wonder and admira­tion; and for this end, he singled him out from the multitude, by a voice from heaven, which testified unto him particularly, this is my welbe­l [...]ved Son, hear him. Therefore the Apostle had reason to say, 2 Cor. 5.14 That he is One for all, so notable an one, that he may serve for all; He stands in more value, in the compt of God, the [...] all mankind; all creatures are Cyphers, which being never so much multiplied, come to nothing, amount not beyond nothing, but set him before them, put Christ on the head of them, and he signifies more then they all do, and [Page 251] gives them all some estimation in the compt. And so they stand in Pauls calculation, Phil. 3. which he makes with very great assurance and confidence, yea doubtlesse I count all dung, but the superexcellent knowledge of Christ. Christ is only the figure, that hath signification, and gives signification to other things.

But in this businesse, the consideration of the persons interessed, (he, and us,) maketh us behold a great Emphasi [...] in the Gospel: he, a propitiation, and that for our sins, is [...] str [...]ng [...] combination of wonders. If it had been some other person, lesse distant from us, that w [...]r [...] thus given for us, and standing in our room, then we would have better understood the ex­change. Things of like wor [...]h, to be thus shuf [...] ­ed together, and stand in one [...]nothers place, is not so strange. But between the persons men­tioned, him, and us, there is such an infinit di­stance, that it is wonderful, how the one descend [...] to the room of the other, to become [...] sac [...]ific [...] for us. O, that we could expresse this to our own hearts, with all the Emphasis that it hath; He, the Lord, and we, the servant [...]; he, the King ▪ and we ▪ the poor beggers; He, the brightn [...]sse of his Fathers glory, and we, the shame and ignominy of t [...]e whole creation; he, count­ing it no robbery to be equal with God, and being in the form of God, and we, not equal to the worst of creatu [...]es, because of sin, and being in the form of devils. Had it been [...] holy, and righte­ous [Page 252] man for sinners, it had been a strange enough exchange; but He is not only holy and harmlesse, but higher then the heavens. O, what a vast de­scent was this, from heaven to earth, from a Lord to a servant, from an ete [...]nal Spirit, to mor­tal flesh, from God to creatu [...]es, and to descend thus far, for such persons, not only unworthy in themselves, such as could not conciliat any liking, but such as might procure lo [...]thing, as is describ­ed, Ezek. 16. and Rom. 5.6. and 1 Pet. 3.18. While we were enemies, and might have expect­ed [...] commissioner from heaven, with vengeance against us. Behold, how the mysterious designe of love breaks up, and opens it self to the world, in sending his own Son for us; and this is exceed­ly aggravated, from the absolute freedom of it, that there was nothing to pre-ingage him to it, but infinit impediments in the way to disswade him; many impediments of his affection, and many difficulties to his power, and then, no gain nor advantage to be expected from such crea­ture [...], notwitstanding of such an undertaking for them.

Now, herein is the strongest support of saith, and the greatest incentive to love, and the migh­tiest perswasive to obedience, that can be. I say, the strongest support of [...]aith; for, a soul ap­prehending the greatnesse and hainousnesse of sins, and the inviolablenesse of Gods righteous­nesse, with the purity of his holinesse, can hardly be [...] ▪ that any thing can compe [...] [...] [Page 253] infinit w [...]ong that is done to his Majesty, though ordina [...]ily the small and superficial app [...]ehen [...]ion of sin, makes a kind of facility in this, or an emp­ty c [...]edulity of the Gospel. The reason why most men do not question and doubt of the Gospel, and of their acceptance before God, is not be­cause they are stablished in the faith, but rather because they do not so seriously and deeply be­lieve, and ponder their own sins, and Gods holi­nesse; which if many did, they would find it [...] gre [...]ter difficulty to attain to a solid and quiet­ing perswasion of the grounds of the Gospel: they would find much ado [...] to settle that point, of the [...]eadinesse of God to pardon and accept sinners. But now, I say, all this difficulty, and these clouds of doubts, will evanish at the bright appea [...]ance of this Sun of Righteousnesse, that i [...], at the solid conside [...]ation of the glorious excel­lency of him that was given [...] ransome for us, herein the soul may be satisfied, that God is sa­tisfied, when he considers what a person hath un­dertaken it, even Iesus the righteous, the only Son of God, in whom his soul delighteth, whose glorious divine Majesty puts the stamp of infinit worth upon all his sufferings, and raiseth up the digni­ty of the sacrifice, beyond the sufferings of all creatures: For there are two things needful, for the full satisfaction of a troubled soul, that ap­prehends the hainousnesse of sin, and hight of wrath▪ nothing can calm and settle this storm, but t [...]e appearance of two things; First, of Gods [Page 254] willingnesse and readinesse to pardon sin, and save sinners; Next, of the an [...]werablenesse of a ran­some to his Ju [...]ice, that so, there may be no impe­diment in hi [...] way to forgive. Now, let this once be estab [...]ished in thy heart, that such an one, so beloved of God, and so equal to God, is the propitiation for our sin [...], that God hath sent his only begotten Son, for this very businesse, unre­quired, and unknown of us; then, there is the [...]learest demonstration of these two things, that c [...]n be, of the love of God, and of the worth of the ransome. What difficulty c [...]n be supposed in it, actually to pardon thy hainous sins, when his love hath ove [...]come infinit greater difficulties, to send one, hi [...] own Son, to procure pardon, John 3. Certainly, it cannot but be the very delight of his heart to forgive sins, since he spared not his Son, to purch [...]se it; since he hath had such an everl [...]sting design of love, which broke out in Christs coming, and then, such a person he is, that the merit of his sufferings, cannot but be an valu [...]ble and sufficient compensation to justice, for our personal ex [...]mption, because he is one above all, of infinite highnes [...]; and therefore, his lownesse hath an infinite worth in it, of infinite fulnesse, and therefo [...]e his emptin [...]sse is of in­finite price; of infinite glory, and so, his shame i [...] equivalent to the shame and malediction of all mankind. So then, wh [...]so [...]ver thou apprehend of thy own sins, or Gods holinesse, that seemeth to render thy pardon difficult, l [...]y but in the bal­lance [Page 255] with that, fi [...]st, the free and rich [...]pressi­on of the infinite love of God, in sending such an one for a ransome, and sure, that speaks as much to his readinesse and willingnesse, as if a voice spake it just now from heaven; and then, to take away all scruple, lay the infinit worth of his per­son, who is the propitiation, with thy sins, and it will certainly out-weigh them; so that, thou may be fully quieted, and sati [...]fied in that point, that it is as easie for him to pardon, as for thee to con [...]esse sin, and [...]sk pardon: nay, that he is more ready to give it thee, then thou to ask it.

But in the next place, I desire you to look upon this, as the greatest incentive of affection: O, how should it inflame your hearts to consi­der, that such an one became [...] s [...]crifice for our sins; to think that Angels hath not such a word, to comfort themselves withal; these innumerable companies of Angels, who left their station, and were once in dignity above us, hath not such glad tidings to report one to another in their socie­ties, as we have; they cannot say, he is the pro­pitiation for our sins. This is the wonderful my­stery, that blessed Angels desire to look into, they gaze upon it, and fix the eyes of their admirati­on upon God manifested in the flesh, wondering at the choice of mort [...]l man, before immortal spi­rits, that he is a ransome for them, and not for their own brethren, who left their station; how should this endear him to our souls, and his will [Page 256] to our hearts, who h [...]th so loved us, and given himself for us; Hath he given himself for us, and should we deny our selves to him, especially wh [...]n we consider what an infinit disparity is between the wo [...]th, and difference in the advantage of [...] he gave his blessed self, a sacrifice, he offered himself to death for us, not to purchase any thing to himself, but life to us, and what is it he re­quires? but your base and unworthy self, to offer up your lusts and sins in a sacrifice, by mortifica­tion, and your hearts and affections, in a thanks­giving-offering, whe [...]ein your own greatest gain lyes too: for this is t [...]uly to find and save your selves, thus to quite your selves to him.

The efficacy of this is holden out in the word, propitiation for our sins, the vertue of Christs sa­crifice is to pacifie Justice, and make God propi­tious, that is, favourable and merciful to sin [...]ers. In which there are three considerable things im­ported, one is, that sin is the cause of enmity be­tween God and man, and sets us at an infinit di­stance, that sin is a hainous provocation of his wrath; another is expressed, that Christ is the propitiation, in opposition to that provocation, he pacifies wrath, and then conciliat [...] [...]avour, by the sacrifice of himself; all the expressions of the Gospel, import the damnable and deplorable estate that sin puts man into: Reconciliation im­ports the standing enmity and [...]eid between God and men, Propitiation imports the provocation of the holy and just indignation of God again [...] [Page 257] man, the [...]ewel whereof is our sins: Iustificati [...] implyes the lost and condemned estate of a si [...]ner, under the sentence and curse of the Law [...] all that is in the Gospel minds us of our orig [...]nal, of the forlo [...]n estate he found us into, no [...] pitying us, nor able to help us. I would de [...]i [...] that this might first take impression on yo [...] hearts, that sin sets God and men at infinit distanc [...] and not only distance, but dissaffection and enm [...]ty, it hath sowen the seeds of that wofull discord and kindled that contention, which if it be no quenched by the blood of Christ, will burn to ever [...]lasting, so that none can dwell with it, and ye [...] sinners must dwell in it, there is a provoking qua­lity in it, fit [...]o alienat the holy heart of God, and to incense his indignation, which when once it is kindled, who can stand before it? Do but consi­der what you conceive of wrongs done to you, how they stir your passions, and provoke your patience, so that there is much adoe to get you pacified, and what hainousnesse must then be in your offences against God, both in regard of num­ber and kind? Oh, that you could but imparti­ally weigh this matter, you would find, that in the view of God, all wrongs and injuries between men evanish. Against thee alone have I sinned; that relation and respect of sin to God, exhaust [...] all other respects of injuries towards men. It is true, that his Majesty is free from passion, and is not commoved and troubled as your spirit [...] are, yet such is the provoking nature of sin, that it cryes [...]or vengeance, and brings a sinner under the dread­full [Page 258] sentence of divine wrath, which he both pro­nounceth, and can execute, without any inward commot [...]on or disturbance of spirit. But, becaus [...] we conceive of him after our manner, therefore he speaks in such te [...]ms to us. But that which he would [...]gn [...]fie by it, is that the sinner is in as dread­full and damn [...]ble a condition by sin, as if the Lord were mightily inflamed with anger and rage; the just punishment is as due and certain, as if he were subject to such passions as we are, and so much the more certain, that he is not. Now, I desire you to consider, how mightily the hainousnesse of sin is aggravated, partly, by the quality o [...] the person [...], and partly, by the con [...]ideration of his benefit [...] to us. A great man resents a light wrong heavily, be­cause his person makes the wrong heavier. O, what do you think the most High should do, considering his i [...]finit distance [...]rom us, his glorious Majesty, and greatness, hi [...] pu [...]e holiness, his absolute power and supremacy, what vile and abominable cha­racters of presumptions and rebellion do all these imprint upon disobedience? Shall he suffer him­self to be despised and neglected of men, when there is no petty creature above another, but he will be jealous of his credit, and vindicat himself from con [...]empt? and then, when ingratitude is mingled, in with rebellion, it makes sin exceeding si [...]ful; and sinful sin exceeding provoking, to pro­claim open war against the holy and righteous will of him▪ whom we owe our selves to, and all that w [...] are, or have; To do evil, because he is good, and be unthankful, because he is kind, to take all [Page 259] his own members, faculties, creatures, and imploy them as instruments of dishonour against himself, there is here [...]ewel [...]or feeding everlasting indigna­tion; there is no indignity, no vilenesse, no wick­ednesse to this; all the provocations of men, how just soever, are in the sight of this, groundless and vain, like a childs indignation; all are but imagi­nary injuries, consisting but in opinion, in regard of that which sin hath in the bosome of it against God.

But, how shall any satisfaction be made for the injury of sin? What shall pacifie his justly deserved anger? Here is the question indeed, that would have driven the whole world to a nonplus, if once the Majesty and holinesse of God had been seen. But the ignorance of Gods greatnesse, and mens sinfulnesse, made the world to fancy some expiations of sin, and satisfactions to God, partly, by sacrifices of b [...]asts, partly, by prayer, and repentance for sins.


1 Joh. 2.3.

And hereby we do know that w [...] know him, if we keep his commandments.

THis age pretends to much knowledge, beyond former ages, knowledge, I say, not only in other natural Arts and Sciences, but especially in Religion; whether there be any great advance­ment in other knowledge, and improvement of that which was, [...]o a further extent and clearnesse▪ [Page 260] I cannot j [...]dge; but, I believe, there is not much o [...] it in this Nation, nor do we so much pretend to it. But, we talk of the inlargements of divine knowledge, and the breaking up of a clearer light, in the point o [...] Religion, in respect of which, we look on former times, a [...] the times of ignorance and darknesse, which God winked at. If it were so indeed, I should think the time happy, and blesse the days we live into, for as many sowre and sad accidents as they are mixed withal: Indeed, if the variety of Books, and multiplicity of discourses upon Re­ligion, if the multitude of disputes about points of truth, and frequency of Sermons, might be held for a sufficient proof of this pretension, [...]e should not want store enough of knowledge and light. But, I fear that this is not the touch-stone of the Holy Ghost, according to which we may try the truth o [...] this assertion; that this is not the rule, by which to measure either the truth, or de­grees of our knowledge; but for all that, we may be lying buried in Egyptian-darkness, and while such a light seems to shine about us, our hearts may be a dungeon of darkness, of ignorance of God, and un [...]elief, and our ways and walk full of stumbling [...] in the darkness. I am led to intertain these sad thoughts o [...] the present time [...], from the words of the Apostles, which gives us the designation of [...] true Christian, to be the knowledge of God; and the character o [...] his knowledge, to be obedience to his commands; if according to this levell, we take the estimat of the proportion of our knowledge [...]nd light, I am aff [...]aid lest there be found as much [Page 261] ignorance of God, and da [...]kness, as we do foolish fancy that we have of light. However, to find [...] will be some breaking up of light in our hearts, an [...] to discover how little we know indeed upon a [...] account, will be the fi [...]st morning Star o [...] that Sun [...] R [...]ghteousnesse, which will shine more and more to th [...] perfect day. There [...]ore we shall labour to bring ou [...] light, to the l [...]mp of this word, and our knowledge to this testimony of unquestionable authority, tha [...] [...]aving recourse to the Law and the Testimony, w [...] may find if there be light in us, or so much light as men think they see; if we could but open ou [...] eyes to the shining light of this Scripture, I doubt not, but we should be able to see that which [...]ew do see, that is, that much of the pretended light of this age, is darkness and ignorance. I do not speak of errours only, that come [...]orth in the garments o [...] new light, but especially, of the vulgar knowledge of the truth of Religion, which is [...]ar adulterated from the true mettal & stamp of divine knowledge, by the intermixture of the grosse darknesse of our affections and conversation, as that other is from the naked truth; and therefore both of them are found light in the ballance of the Sanctuary, and counter [...]eit by this touch-stone of obedience.

To make out this examination the better, I shall indeavour to open these three things unto you, which comprehend the words; 1. That the know­ledge of God in Iesus Christ, is the most proper de­signation of a Christian; hereby we know that we know him, which is as much as to say, that we are true Christians. 2. That the proper character of [Page 262] true knowledge, is obedience, or conscionable pr [...]ctising of what we know; And then lastly, that the only estimat or trial of our estate before God, is made according to the appearance of his work in u [...], and not by immediat thrusting our selves into the secrets of Gods hidden decrees; Hereby we know, &c. Here then in a nar [...]ow circl [...] we have [...]ll the work and business of a Ch [...]istian, his direct [...]nd principal duty is, to know God, and keep his commands, which are not two distinct duties, as they come in a religious consideration, but make up one compleat wo [...]k of Christianity, which con­sists in conformity to God. Then the reflex, and secondary duty of a Christian, which makes much for hi [...] comfort, is, to know that he knows God: To know God, and keep his commands, i [...] a thing of indispensible necessity to the beeing o [...] a Christi [...]n, to know that we know him, is of great conce [...]nment, to the com [...]ort and well-being o [...] a Christian; with­out the first, a man is as miserabl [...] [...]s he can be, without the sense and feeling of mise [...]y, because h [...] wants the spring and fountain of all happiness; with­out the second, a Christian is unh [...]ppy indeed for the present, though he may not be called miserable, because he is more happy then he knows of, and only unhappy, because he knows not his happiness.

For the first then, knowledge is a thing so natu­r [...]l to the spirit of a man, that the desire of it is restlesse, and unsatiable; there is some appetite of it in all men, though in the generality of people (because of immersednesse in earthly things, and th [...] predominancy of corrupt lusts and affections, [Page 263] which hinder most mens souls to wait upon th [...] more noble inquiry alter knowledge, in which on [...] a man really differs from a beast) there be little [...] no stirring that way; yet some finer spirits the [...] [...]e, that are unquiet this way, and with Solomo [...] give them [...]elves, and apply their hearts to sea [...]c [...] out wisdom. But, this is the cu [...]se of mans curio [...]ty at first, in seeking after unnecessary knowledge when he was happy enough already, and knew a much of God and his works, as might have been [...] most satis [...]ying intertainment of his spirit; I say for that wretched aim, we are to this day depriv [...]ed of that knowledge which man once had, whic [...] was the ornament of his nature, and the [...]epast o [...] his soul; as all other things are subdued under [...] curse for sin, so especially this which man had, i [...] lost, in seeking that which he needed not, and the tract of it is so obscured and perplex'd, the foot­steps of it are so undiscernable, and the way of it is like a Bird in the Air, or a Ship in the Sea, leaving us few helps to find it out, that most part of men lose themselves in seeking to find it: And there­fore, in all the inquiries and searchings of men af­ter the knowledge even of natural things, that come under our view, there is at length nothing found out remarkable, but the increase of sorrow, and the discovery of ignorance, as Solomon saith, E [...]cles. 1.18. This is all the Jewel that is brought up from the bottom of this Sea, when men div [...] deepest into it, for the wisest of men could reach no more, though his bucket was as long as any mans [...] Chap. 7.23. I said, I will he wise, b [...]t it was far [Page 264] from me; that which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? Knowledge hath taken a far journey from mans nature, and hath not lest any prints behind it to find it out again, but, as it we [...]e, hath flown away in an instant, and therefore, we may ask with Iob, 28. ver. 1.12 Surely there is a vein for the silver, &c. But where shall wisdome be found? and where is the place of understanding? What Vto­pian Isles hath she t [...]an [...]ported unto? that mor­tal men, the more they seek her, they find more ig­norance, the further they pu [...]sue, they see them­selves at the further distance; thus it is in these things that are most obvious to our sense [...], but how much more, in spiritual and invisible things is our darkness increased, because of the dulness and earthiness of our spirits, that are clogged with a [...]ump of flesh; for God himself that should be the [...]rimum intelligibile of the soul, the fi [...]st and prin­cipal object, whose glorious light should first strike [...]nto our hearts, Iob testifies how little a portion is [...]nown of him, when we cannot so much as under­ [...]tand the thunder of his power, that makes such a [...]ensible impression on our ears, and makes all the [...]orld to stand and hearken to it, then how much [...]esse shall we conceive the invisible Majesty of God? [...]n natural things we have one vail of da [...]knesse in [...]ur minds to hinder us; but in the apprehension [...]f God, we have a two [...]old darkness to break through, [...]he darknesse of ignorance in us, and the darknesse [...]f too much light in him. Caliginem nimiae luci [...], [...]hich makes him as inaccessible to us, as the other; [...]he over-proportion of that glorious Majesty of [Page 265] God, to our low spirits, being as the Sun in i [...] brightness, to a night-Owl, which is da [...]k midnigt [...] to it. Hence is it, that these holy men who know mo [...] of God, think they know least, because they see mor [...] to be known, but infinitly surpassing knowledge pride is the daughter of ignorance only, and h [...] that thinketh he knoweth any thing, knoweth nothin [...] as he ought to know, saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. 8.2 [...] For he that knoweth not his own ignorance, if h [...] know never so much, is the greatest ignorant, an [...] it is a manifest evidence that a man hath but a su­pe [...]ficial touch of things, and hath never broken the shell, or drawn by the vail of his own weak­nesse and ignorance, that doth not apprehend deep­ly, the unsearchableness of God, and his mysteries; but thinketh he [...]ath in some measure compassed them, bec [...]use he maketh a systeme of divinity, or setteth down so many conclusions of faith, and can debat [...] them against adversaries, or because he hath a form and model of divinity, as of other sciences, in hi [...] mind. Nay, my bel [...]ved, holy Iob attained to the deepest and fullest speculation of God, when he con­cluded this, because I see thee, I abhor my self; and as Paul speaks, If any man love God, he is known of God, and so knowes God, 1 Cor. 8.3. From which two testimonies I conclude, that the true know­ledge of God, consists not so much in a compre­hension of all points of divin [...]ty, as in such a seriou [...] apprehension and conception of th [...] Divine Maje­sty, as inkindles and inflames these two affections, love and hatred toward [...] their proper objects; such [...] knowledge as carries the torch before the affecti­on; [Page 266] such a light as shines into the heart, as Pauls phrase i [...], 2 Cor. 4.6. and so transmitts heat [...]nd warmnesse into it, till it make the heart burn in the love of God, and loathing of himself; as long as a man doth but hear of God in sermons, or read of him in books, though he could determine all the questions and problems in divinity, he keeps a good conceit of himself, and that knowledge pu [...]seth up, and swell [...] a man into a vain tumor, the venome of poyson blowes him up full of wind, and self-con­fidence, and commonly they who doubt least, are not the [...]reest of errour, and misapprehension; and truly, whoever seriously [...]eflects upon the difficul­ty of knowledge, and da [...]knesse of mens minds, and the general curse of vanity, and vexation that all thing [...] are under, so that what is wanting cannot be numbred, nor that which is crooked made straight, he cannot but look upon too great confidence, and peremprorienesse in all points, as upon a race at [...]ull speed, in the dark night, in a way full of pit [...] [...]nd snares; o [...]tentimes our confidence [...]lowes not [...]om evidenc [...] of t [...]uth, but the ignorance of our [...]indes, and is not so much built upon the strength [...] reason, as th [...] strength of our passions, and weak­ [...]esse of our judgments.

But when once [...] man comes to see God, and know [...]im in a lively manner, then he sees his own weak­ [...]esse, and vilenesse in that light, and cryes out [...]ith Isaiah, Wo is me, I am a man of polluted lips, [...]nd he discerns in that light, the amiablenesse and [...]velinesse of God, that ravisheth his heart after it, [...] then [...] Ieremiah saith, He will not glory in [Page] riches, or strength, or beauty, or wisdom, but onl [...] [...] this, that he hath at length gotten some disco [...] of the only [...]ountain of happinesse, then he will [...] think so much of tongues & languages, of pro [...]cying [...], of all knowledge of controversies, neit [...] gifts of body nor of mind, nor external append [...]ces of providence, will much affect him, he coul [...] content to trample on all these, to go over them to a fuller discovery, and enjoyment of God him [...]

If we search the Scriptures, we shall find fl [...] they do not entertain us with many and subtil [...] courses of Gods nature, and decrees; and proper [...]l [...] nor do they insist upon the many perplexed ques [...]on [...], that are mad [...] concerning Christ and his offi [...] about which so many volumnes are spun ou [...], to [...] infinit distraction of the Christian world; they [...] not pretend to satisfie your curiosity, but to [...] your souls; and th [...]refore they hold out God [...] Christ, as cloathed with all his relations to ma [...]k [...]nd, in all these plain and easie properties, thi [...] concerns us everlastingly, his justice, mercy, grace [...] patience, love, holinesse, and such like. Now, hen [...] I gather, that the true knowledge of God, consi [...] not in the comprehension of all the conclusions tha [...] are deduced, and controversies that ar [...] discuss [...] [...]ent these things, but rather, in the serious an [...] solid apprehension of God, as he hath relation [...] us, and consequently in order and reference to th [...] moving of our hearts, to love, and [...]dore, and re­veren [...]e him, for he is holden ou [...] only, in the [...] garments that are fit to move, and affect our hearts. A man may know all these things, and yet not know [Page 268] God himself, for to know him, cannot be abstracted [...]rom loving o [...] him, they that know thy Name will trust in thee, and s [...] love thee, and so fear thee, for its impossible but that this will be the natural re­sult, if he he but known indeed; because there i [...] no object more amiable, more dread [...]ul withall, and more eligible, and worthy o [...] choice, and therefore, seeing infinit beauty and goodnesse, and infinit power and greatnesse, and infinit sufficiency and fulnesse, are combined together with infinit truth, the soul that apprehends him indeed, cannot but [...]pprehend him as the most ravishing object, and t [...]e most reverend too; and if he do not find his h [...]rt suitably a [...]ected, it is an evident demonstra­tion, that he doth not indeed apprehend him, but [...] idol. The infinit light, and the infini [...] life, are simply one, and he that truly without a dream, sees the one, c [...]nnot but be warmed [...]nd moved by the other.

So then by this account of the knowledge of God, we have a clear discovery that many are desti­tu [...] of it, who pretend to it. I shall only apply it to [...]wo sorts of person [...], one is, of them who have [...]t only in their memories, [...]nother, of them who [...]ave it only in th [...]ir mindes or heads. Religion [...]as once the legittimat daughter o [...] judgment [...]nd [...]ffection, but now, [...]or the most part, it is only [...]dopted by mens memories, or [...]ancies; the great­ [...]st part of the people, cannot go beyond the repe­ [...]ition of the Catechism or Creed, not that I would [...]ave you to know more. But you do not under­ [...]nd that, only ye repeat words, without the sen­sible [Page 269] knowledge of the meaning of it, so that if th [...] same matter be disguised with any other form [...] words, you cannot know it, which sheweth, tha [...] you have no [...]amiliarity with the thing it [...]elf, bu [...] only with the letters and syllables that are the gar [...]ments of it. And for others that are of great [...] capacity, yet alace, it comes not down to the hear [...], to the affecting and moulding and forming of it▪ a little light shines into the mind, but your heart [...] are shut up still, and no window in them: Corrup [...] affections keep that Garison against the power of the Gospel; That light hath no heat o [...] love, o [...] warmnesse of affection with it, which sheweth▪ that it is not a ray or beam of the Sun of right [...] ­ousnesse which is both beautiful for light, and ben [...] ­ficial [...]or influence, on the cold and dead froze [...] hearts of mankind, and by its approaching, mak [...] a spring-time in the heart.

But all men pretend to know God, such is th [...] self-love of mens hearts, that it makes them blind in judging themselves; therefore, the Holy Ghost ▪ as he designs a Christian by the knowledge of G [...]d, so he characterizeth knowledge by keeping [...]h [...] Commandments; hereby we know, &c. So that Religion is not defined by [...] number of opinions▪ or by such a certain collection of such articles o [...] [...]aith, but rather by practice and obedience to th [...] known will of God. For as I told you, knowled [...] is a relative duty, that is instrumental to som [...] thing else, and by any thing I can see in Scripture, is not principally intended for it self, but rather for obedience; There [...]re som [...] science [...] [...] [Page 270] speculative, that rest and are compleat in the meer knowledge o [...] such objects, as some na­tural sciences are. But others are practical, that make a [...]urther re [...]erence of all things they cog­nosce upon, to some practice, and operation. Now, perhaps some may think, that the Scripture or divinity, is much of it mee [...]ly contemplative, in regard of many mysteries in [...]olded in it, that seem nothing to concern our practice. I confesse much of that, that is raised out of the Scriptures, is such, and therefore it seems a deviation and depar­ture from the great scope, and plain intent of the simplicity and easinesse of the Scriptures, to draw [...]orth with much industry, and subtilty many things o [...] meer speculation and notion, dry and [...]aplesse to th [...] affection, and unedifying to our practice, and [...]o obtrude these upon other men [...] consciences, as points of Religion. I rather think, that all that [...] in the S [...]riptures, either directly hath the pra­ctice of Gods will for the object of it, or is finally i [...]tended for that end; either it is a thing that pre­ [...]ribeth our obedience, or else it tends principally to ing [...]ge our affections, and secure our obedience; and so these [...]rains of elevate discourses of God, h [...] nature, and properties, of his works, and all the mysteries infolded in it, are directed toward [...] this end, f [...]t [...]er then meer knowing o [...] them, to [...]age the heart of a believer to more love, and [...]e [...]ence, and adoration of God, that so he may be brought more easily▪ and steadily to a sweet co [...]plyance, and harmonious agrement to the will o [...] God, i [...] [...]ll his wayes. Nay, to say a little more, [Page 271] there are sundry Physical, or Natural contemplati­ons of the works of God in Scripture, but all these are divinely considered, in reference to the ravishment of the hea [...]t o [...] man, with the wisdom, and power, and goodnesse of God, and this shewes u [...] the notable art of Religion, to extract affection and obedience to God, out of all natural contem­plations; and thus true divinity ingraven on the soul, is a kind of mistresse-science, arthitectonica scientia, that serves it self of all other disciplines, of all other points of knowledge, be they never so remote from practice, in their proper sphear, and never so dry and bar [...]en, yet a religious and holy heart, can apply them to these divine uses of in­gaging it self further to God, and his obedi­ence: as the Lord himself teacheth us; Who would not fear thee, O King of Nations, Jer. 10. And fear ye not me who have placed the sand, &c. Jer. 5.22. So praise is extracted, Psal. 105. And admiration, vers. 1.33. So submission and patience under Gods hand often pressed in Iob, therefore if we only seek to know these things, that we may know them, that we may discourse on them, we disappoint the great end, and scope of the whole Scriptures, and we debase and degrade spiritual things, as far as Religion exalts natural things, in the spiritual use: we transform it into a carnal, empty, and dead letter, as Religion, where it is truly, spiritualizeth earthly and carnal things, into a holy use, &c.


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