A Briefe Summe OF DIVINITIE, Shewing The plainest way, how a man ought to examine his waies in this life, to the attainment of ETERNITIE. Wherein The whole Doctrine of Christian Libertie is briefly handled, and may serve for instruction of all such as de­sire to exercise their Guifts aright, which are in these our daies very much abused.

Published by G. DOWNHAM: B of D. Minister of the word of God.

PROV: 8.32.

Now therefore harken unto me, O yee children, for blessed are they that keep my waies.

Printed for W. WEBB Bookseller in Oxford, and W. GRAVES of Cambridge. 1652.


THE creation of our first Pa­rents in the image of Gen. 1.26. GOD, was blest with foure excellencies. 1. Reasonable and immortall soules or spirits, called Job. 10.12. the life of men. 2. Divine knowledge Jo. 1.4. true wisdome, Col. 3.10. and holinesse Ps. 51 6. adorning their soules, wherein especially they resembled their Creator. 3. Bodies endued with beauty, strength, and immortality, Eph. 4, 24. answerable to their soules. 4. Dominion over the creatures 1. Cor. 11.7. When crea­ted holinesse without teinture or sinfull blemish shined in them,Gen. 1▪ 26. they conversed familiarly with the God of glorious majestie, their corporall nakednesse (not having trāsgressed) caused not their confusion of face, the perfection of all parts added thereunto a glorious seemlinesse and decencie. God in them found absolute contentment Gen. 1.26., they in God enjoyed a full fruition and assurance of the favourable blisfull presence Psal. 17.15. Adams sanctity by creation, his own innocency and integrity before his prevari­cation, gave him to name Luk. 3.38. the sonne of God. This son-ship was accompanied with power dispositive, and ability preparative, with skill and will, and [Page] strength of grace to doe that which was pleasing to Almighty God. The naturall sonnes of mortall men, having (by originall corruption, traduced from the loynes of Adam) l [...]st this liberty unto that which is good, and contracted to themselves an aptnesse and proclivity unto all manner of evills, they can be but, as our Saviour saith Math. 7. [...]3., workers of iniquitie. They cannot think a good thought, (for that is gratia infusa;) nor speak a good word, (for that is gratia effusa;) nor doe a good work (for that is gratia diffusa.)

We that are Saints by calling, and the sonnes and daughters of a heavenly Father by spirituall regeneration, are by our naturall birth abomina­bly defiled with the bloud of originall corruption. Our Fathers were Amorites,Ezek 16 3 our Mothers Hit­tites. In this state there is none that doth good, no not one.Jam. 3.2. In many things (saith S. James) wee offend all: nay, in all things we sinne all, com­ming short of the glory of God, that is, of that righteousnesse and holinesse which leadeth unto glory. And albeit no man can justifie his owne integrity, saying, Mine heart is cleane, and my righteousnesse c [...]mpleat and perfect, yet a renued justified child of grace, from whom the Lord hath taken away the Eph, 4.17, 18, 19. blinded minde, misleading the understanding Isay 44.20.; that pravity of nature, which benummed Tit. 1.15 Eph. 4.19. or abused the conscience Mar. 10.20. 2 Cor. 87.; en­thralled Rom, and hardened the will; disturbed, and disordered the affections Iam. 4.1. G [...]l. 5.17. Job. 15.16, and having rectified and renued those corporall senses, which were tre­cherous [Page] Porters Math. 5.29▪30. to let in sinne unto the soule, or forward instruments to execute it Rom. This New-borne Christian, who hath not only the restrai­ning, but renuing spirit, he may in a qualified sense be said not to commit sinne. For,

  • 1 His sinnes committed are not imputed, be­cause in Christ he is justified.
  • 2 Comparatively he is no sinner but a Saint, his errours and erregularities not resembling for nature and degree others foule enormities.
  • 3 The New borne Christian seldome sin­neth purposely, never plenary, with full and plea­sing consent; neither totally and finally unto the end, because his seed remaineth in him.

How farre Gods generall providence in the ef­fectuall restraining power of the spirit,Joh. 3 9 worketh in them to preserve them from sinne, and of what force the grace of regeneration is unto them, to keepe them unspotted of the world, and prepare them for growth unto full holinesse, thou hast (courteous Reader) herein described & discovered unto thee.

Make use of this Modell of Divine instructi­ons, apply the meditations thereof to thine owne heart and conscience, then Gods grace prevailing in thee shalt thou not be indulgent to thy sinfull corruptions, as others unrenued; but intercept the course, and stop the sloudgates of sinfull con­cupiscence, from making an inundation to over­spread thy soule: then shalt thou not favour sinne, foster, or harbour it within thine heart, but de­testing, [Page] resist it couragiously: being at any time through thine owne infirmities, and Sathans tem­ptations, drawne to commit sin, thou shalt doe it unwillingly▪ grieve for it heartily, weepe with Pe­ter bitterly, endevouring constantly for the time to come, to hold fast thine innocencie, to preserve thine integritie, and in all things to approve thy selfe unto thy heavenly Father, by a gracious an­tipathie and contrariety unto sin, by holinesse of affection, and pliablenesse of imitation, so from thy religious conversation shalt thou reap the blessings of this life, health, wealth, peace, and pro­sperity; grace, joy, godly contentment, the assurance of thy sinnes remission, and soules salvation: how­soever, in the life to come thou shalt be sure to re­ceive thy reward, having purged thy selfe as God is pure, and beheld Gods face in righteousnesse, in the resurrection when thou awakest, thou shalt be satisfied with his image, and by beholding of it, shalt be changed into the same from glory to glory. Farewell.

Thine in the Lord Jesus, G. D.

An Examitation of a mans estate before God.

COLOSS. 4.8.‘Whom I have sent unto you for the same pur­pose, that he may knowe your estate and comfort your hearts.’

THE estate of a man before God is the relation that he standeth in unto God,What a mans e­state be­fore God is. as God is the free fountaine of all spirituall life and salvation, and the determi­ner of mens everlasting conditions, ei­ther in heaven or hell: So that when we que­stion about a mans estate, we question, Whe­ther he be in Christ or not; Whether he have true grace, yea or no; Whether he be one of Gods children or no; or whether hee be yet no better then a reprobate.

There be three things to be considered in this definition of every mans estate. First, it is a relation unto God; not as a man is in him­selfe, it may be rich, it may be poore in the world; but I speake here as he is in relation towards God, Whether he be rich towards [Page 2] God, yea or no, I doe not speake as a man in regard of others; it may be he is a father or a sonne, a master or a servant, a king or a sub­ject: but in relation to God,Rom. 16.10. Whether Gods servant or no, Gods child or no. Salute Apelles, saith Paul; and he telleth us in what estate Apelles was in before God, namely, in an estate of approbation, approved in Christ. And the same Apostle speaketh on the contrary of the unconverted Gentiles, that they were strangers from the life of God, Eph. 4.18. Ephes. 4 18. Secondly, As it is a relation unto God, so it is a standing rela­tion: That wherein he standeth towards God, that is a mans estate before God. There is a difference betweene one that doth sin and one that is in the state of sin: A child of God may sinne, but he is not in a state of sin: you cannot call him a wicked man. So also there is diffe­rence betweene one that doth some good a­ctions and one that is in a good estate: A car­nall man may doe some good things, but he is not in a good estate. The estate of a man is a standing thing, it is the relation that he stand­eth in towards God. Thirdly, It is the relation that a man standeth in towards God as hee is the free fountaine of spirituall life and salvation. It is not every standing relation towards God: For a man may be considered in relation to God as a Creatour, and so the heavens and the earth and the very brute beasts stand in relation to God as they are his creatures; but [Page 3] they have not this estate that we speake of, which is a relation to God as the free giver of spirituall life and salvation (He is free, he may choose whether he will give it or no.) Now this is a mans estate, the relation hee standeth in unto God, Whether the Lord hath given him his saving grace, yea or no; spirituall life in Christ Jesus, yea or no; title to heaven and salvation, yea or no? This is the meaning when we speake of a mans estate. It is said of Sodom,Gen. 13.13 They were sinners before God: that is, they were in a bad estate, a state of sinne. It is said of Zachary and Elizabeth,Luke 1.6. They were both righteous before God; that is, they were both in a very good state.

All Christians believe that there is a God:Observ. Ministers are to en­quire after the estate of their people. It behoveth every one now to consider in what estate he standeth to this God. This is a great question that wee which are Ministers ought to demand of our people, to know their estates.

First,Reasons 1. because we are sheepherds, and are bound to look well how it standeth with our stock. If we doe not labour to know your e­states, we can never look well to your soules. Consider that place in the Proverbs,Prov. 27.23. Be dili­gent to know the state of thy flock and look well to thy herds. Where the wise man first requireth that we should looke well to our flocks, and then directeth us in the manner how, viz. by being diligent to know their estate how it stā ­deth with them.

[Page 4]Secondly, we are Gods labourers; and wee must know in what estate our work standeth: else we may labour and labour and all in vain; we may preach and exhort and call upon our people to heare and to believe and obey, and all this may still be in vain, if we doe not en­quire in what estate they are. This is the rea­son why Paul could not forbeare sending and enquiring how it stood with the Thessaloni­ans,1. Thess. 3.5. in what estate they were in, how it went with their faith, whether they kept it or no, lest the tempter had tempted them, and his la­bour should have been in vain; for so it had been for all his preaching and teaching them, if they had not been in a good estate: there­fore he sent to know.

3.Thirdly, we are to take the care and the charge of your soules: Now then how can wee be quiet if we doe not know in what estate your soules be? A good father cannot be at quiet if he doe not know how it is with his children: How if they should be sick? How if undone? Oh it would comfort a good father to know his children to be in good case: But if it were otherwise with them, though it would grieve him much, yet he had rather know it then not; for if he know it he can better tell what to do. So it was with the Apostle; his ve­ry bowels yerned upon the Philippians, Oh my poore people, Philip. 2.29. thought he, I wonder what estate they be in. How if they totter? How if they mis­carry? [Page 5] How if the devill have tempted them to sinne and to apostatize? How if they be troubled of conscience? He could never be at quiet till he knew their estate: I trust in the Lord Iesus, saith he, to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort when I know your estate. He had a great care of their soules, and there­fore it would comfort his heart to know what estate they were in.

Fourthly, we are teachers,4. and therefore we must know the estate of our people: other­wise we are ignorant what doctrine to provide for them, what points to handle among them. Paul in this Epistle to the Collossians, know­ing onely their estate in the generall, delivereth abundance of generall precepts and exhorta­tions unto them: he describeth unto them the mystery of Christ, admonisheth them to con­tinue stedfast therein, to embrace the preach­ing of the word, to beware of Philosophy and the vain traditions and sophistry of men, to take heed of doting upon ceremonies, which are all ended in Christ, to set their affections on heaven, to mortifie the deeds of the flesh, to put off the old man; he warneth them to be lo­ving and humble: he biddeth wives doe their duties to their husbands, and husbands to love their wives; children to obey their parents, and parents to encourage their children; servants to obey their masters, and masters to deal well with their servants; all to continue in prayer, [Page 6] watchfulnesse, thanksgiving, to walk wisely to­wards them that are without, to be carefull of godly and holy communication: Thus know­ing their estate onely for the generall he tea­cheth them in generall, and therefore now hee concludeth,Col. 4.8. as if he should say, I speak some­what generally because I doe not know your estates in particular; and therefore I send to you Tychi­cus, a faithfull good minister, that he may learn your estates in particular, and deale with you an­swerably. It may be some of you want corrosives; it may be some of▪ you want cordials; it may be some have need to be searched and humbled, some of you to be encouraged and comforted: I have sent him to enquire into your estates in particu­lar, that he may doe accordingly. Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he may know your estate and comfort your hearts.

Vses. 1 In­struct.The use of this is threefold.

First, for instruction. Hence we may see that a minister doeth but his duty when he enqui­reth into mens estates how they stand before God: It is not prying into other mens matters; it is not busie-bodinesse in other mens affaires; it is not a spirit of medling: No, a minister doth but his duty when he doeth it. How can a Physician apply true and proper physick un­lesse he enquire into the state of mens bodies? Now a minister is a physician to mens souls;Ier. 8.12. and therefore he is to enquire of the state of mens soules how they stand before God. They [Page 7] are men of Belial that say, What? must the mini­ster know all? and, Can there be nothing done but the minister must heare of it? These are very e­vill speeches. The minister doth but his duty when he is inquisitive.

The second use may be for reproof.2. Re­proof. If it be the duty of a minister to enquire of mens estates before God, then those people are too blame that will not make known their estates. What is the reason that so many men abide in a ro [...]ten estate, but because they are loth to o­pen truly and fully what they are to Gods minister? Nay many are like them in the pro­phet Who say to the Seers, Isai. 30.10. See not. They would not have God [...] ministers see what they do, nor see what they are. I confesse there be some that will open something about their estates, but will not all they know by themselves: They keep in the main; like some foolish cli­ents who misinform their Counsell, making the [...]r case better then indeed it is, and so their cause mis-carrieth: So some keep in that which would give most light to judge of their e­states: But this ought not so to be. I can tell you an example of one that being troubled a­bout his estate before God, and some mini­sters being by, Oh, saith he, I will tell you all that I know of my selfe; I'le not hide a syllable from you: and, if I be yet no better then a wretch, I be­seech you tell me plainly that I am so; and if I be in Christ, I beseech you prove it plainly unto me. [Page 8] This man took a right course, and thereby through Gods mercy came in a little space to the assurance of his own blessed estate and condition.

3. Exhor­tation.Thirdly, for exhortation. Let Gods mini­sters know of your estates, that they may be able to speak to you accordingly. By this means they may speak words in due season, and likewise house-holders give every one his portion. If you had but a cut finger, would not you be glad to have the right plaster? and if you had a burning fever, would you not de­sire the right remedy? How much more in cu­ring the sicknesse of the soule.

Now from the text it self without any cut­ting up of the words, wee may gather foure propositions:

  • 1. That there is an estate that every man is in, either an estate of grace, or an estate of sin.
  • 2. That this state may be known.
  • 3. That every man should be willing to have his estate examined, that it may be known whether it be good or no.
  • 4. That a man can never have true com­fort till it bee known that hee is in a good e­state.

Observ. 11. For the first, That there is an estate that every one is in, either of grace or sin; See this in Simon Magus:Act. 8.23. I perceive, saith S. Peter, thou art in the gall of bitternesse and in the bond [Page 9] of iniquity. See, he telleth him what estate he was in, viz. a very bad estate, in a desperate and damnable condition. In this state of sin and misery are all they that are not renewed by Christ Jesus. And for the other see an exam­ple, Rom. 16.7.Rom. 16 7. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord: The text there telleth us what estate he was in, a very good estate; He was a man in Christ, a choise man, that is, a man in the state of grace and salvation. In this estate are all they that are called and sanctified, and made new crea­tures unto God. Every man is in one of the two estates. there is no middle estate which is neither the one nor the other, but in one of these two are all the whole world. The reason is,

  • 1. From everlasting the world was divi­ded onely into two ranks, either Elect or Re­probates.
  • 2. Here in this life the world is divided onely into two companies, either Godly or Ungodly.
  • 3.
    Math. 25.32.
    At the day of judgement the Lord will divide the whole world onely into two sorts, either Sheep or Goats.

II.2. Prop. Election may be known. For the second proposition, This estate may be known: Especially every man may come to the knowledge of his own estate be­fore God. I do not say that every man may know whether he be elect or reprobate: yet this I say too, That a godly soule may know [Page 10] that it is elected to life. The Apostle exhort­eth all that are godly to give diligence to make their election sure, 2. Pet. 1.10. He that attain­eth to that saith which the Apostle calleth the faith of Gods elect, Titus 1.1. and receiveth the word of God, as Paul saith the Thessalonians did, and thence concludeth they were chosen of God, 1. Thess. 1.4.5. he may attain to much assurance of his election. But though a godly man may know he is elected of God, yet for reprobation the case is not alike: 1. Because ungodlinesse is not alwaies joyned with per­severance. 2. Besides, God hath many reasons why he doth not reveal means reprobation un­to them: They would then be outragious in evill, desperate in wickednesse: there could be no order or government in humane life: Be­sides that, the form of Christs administration of his kingdome could not be so as it now is▪ for Christ hath bid his ministers preach the Gospell to every creature, to whole parishes and towns, and except none: Christ will not tell his ministers which be reprobates and which not, that they may preach unto all, and labour to work upon every soul; and there is none in a parish but the minister must look upon him as one who may be saved: Christ will not tell his people which be reprobates, that they may look upon every one as one that may be wonne to the faith for any thing they know; Christ will not tell the reprobates [Page 11] themselves that they are reprobates, that eve­ry one of them may come [...]o the use of the means; How do: they know but they may finde grace? Yea, and the Lord doth seriously ca [...]l them; and it is their fault if they obey not. It is Gods infinite mercy, that election, which is such a comfortable point, m [...]y be re­vealed to Gods children, and that reprobati­on, which is so intolerable and bitter, is not revealed to the reprobate. Neverthelesse let me adde That some particular men have known their own reprobation, as Cain and Judas,Shred signes of it &c. And there be shrewd signes of it: (I doe not speak it as though I meant to per­swade any man that he is one, but onely that he may take heed of them.

1. Maliceing the known truth is a very shrewd signe: As, when men know that god­linesse is pleasing to God, and yet they hate a man for it; when men knowe the minister is commanded to rebuke sin, and yet they will spite him for so doing: this is a very shrewd sign [...]: Paul persecuted the truth; but yet, saith he, I obteined mercy because I did it ignorantly, 1 Tim. 1.13. intimating that if he had done it against knowledge he had been in danger to have found no mercy. And therefore yee that mock and hate those waies which God hath commanded, I beseech you, take heed lest yee sin unpardonably.

2. Absolute apostasie is a shrewd signe [Page 12] too of reprobation: When men have been ve­ry forward in the profession of the truth, and fal totally away and prove miserably profane, as the Apostle sheweth, Heb. 6.6.

3. Finall impenitency. This is an infalli­ble signe of reprobation, when a man liveth in sin, dieth in sin, and goeth away without re­pentance. Luk. 13.3. Except yee repent yee shall likewise perish. There be many of us have stood out long in impenitency; let us take heed lest if we stay any longer we fall upon this great evill.

That a man may know his estate pro­ved.I return to the point: A man may come to the knowledge of his owne estate before God. I doe not mean, Whether he be in the state of election or reprobation; but he may know, Whether he be in the state of salvation or damnation, that is, Whether he be in the way that leadeth to heaven or hell, Whether he be in such a case that if he die now he shall be saved or not saved: Every man may thus know in what estate he is.

Reasons I.1. Because the word of God sheweth a man this: As for example, Hee that committeth sin is of the Devill. 1. Iob. 3.8 Mark; the Apostle telleth us what estate that man is in that liveth in sin, in a very bad estate.1. Ioh. 3.3. So on the contrary; Hee that hath his hope purgeth himselfe. Mark; the A­postle telleth us what estate that man is in who purgeth himselfe; he is in a very good estate, in estate of true hope in Christ. And [Page 13] so 1. Cor. 6.10. the Apostle nameth divers who are not in the state of salvation but of dam­nation: if they die in such case they cannot in­herit the kingdome of heaven. So that if a man will but search the word, and believe that God doth say true, he may know his estate.

2. Without this knowledge a man cannot have an accusing or an excusing conscience in respect of his estate:II. but men may have, yea many men have, a conscience accusing them of being in a very bad estate; and many men have an excusing conscience that plainly doth witnesse that they are in a very good and gra­cious estate.Exod. 9.27 I and my people are wicked, saith Pharaoh. His conscience did accuse him of be­ing in a bad estate.Psal. 86.2 I am holy, saith David; I am thy servant. His conscience told him he was in the state of grace. So that yee need not goe far to know what estate you are in: there is that in your bosome that can decide the matter.

3. Men cannot desire nor flie from an un­known estate:III. But men are commanded to flie from a bad estate, and seek out a good one: Therefore they may know the one and the other.Mat. 3.7.8. O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to slie from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance, saith John to the Pharisees. He supposeth these men might easily know that they were in a very bad est, or else how could he say thus unto them?

Before I come to the Uses let us consider these three things.

[Page 14]1. That every man living is borne in a ve­ry bad estate. We all know it well; but oh that we would consider it! We are all by na­ture children of wrath. [...]h. 2.3. Now here lieth the question, When did wee change our estates? We are in the same state of damnation wher­in we were born, except we are come out of it. I say, here lieth the question, Whether we are come out of it or no, whether wee have men­ded our estate.

2. Consider that the greatest part of the world never mend their estates: But as they were born in a cursed estate; so they live & die in it. And I speak not this of heathen onely; but alas! how many in the visible Church doe so? [...]il. 3.17. Cor. 1. How many were there in the Church of Philippi whom the Apostle could not think of without weeping when he considered in what estate they were. So in the Church of Corinth, not many wise, not many rich, not many noble called; but commonly the meanest in the eye of the world were in the best estate towards God. Nay more then so: Many of them who seek to get into a good estate misse of it and perish. See Luke 13 24 Strive to enter in at the straight gate: Mark; it's a strait gate, and letteth but few in: for many shall seek to enter in & shall not be able. Here and there a few even where the constant ministery is.

3. Consider that it is a marvellous hard [...]hing to passe from state unto state, from a [Page 15] bad to a good estate. There is a very vast gull between the state of sin and the state of grace, and it is marvellous hard to passe it. These things premised, the uses follow.

1. This point may be many waies usefull.Vse 1. Of In­struction. It is even mans dut [...] to enquir [...] after his estate. First, for instruction. If God hath made it possible unto us to find out what estate every one of us is in, then sure he would have us go about it and enquire after it. God might have left us to perish in our naturall blindnesse, ne­ver to have known in what case wee had been untill we were past recovery. First, wee are all wanderers from God and from the waies of peace; and therefore God might justly have suffered us for ever to have wandred, and ne­ver to have been able to find out whether we had been right or wrong. Secondly, God hath dealt so with some: He hath suffered some to go on all their daies blindfold to hell. Thus the Lord dealt with the Scribes and Pharisees; Let them alone, Mat. 15.14 saith he, they be blind leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blend they will both fall into the ditch. Yee see the Lord hath dealt so with some; and it is his mercy he hath not dealt so with us. Sith God hath made it possible for us to know, it is our duty to en­quire after it: And that yet further for these reasons:

  • 1. First, because the Lord commanded it:
    Reasons 2. Cor. 13.5
    Examin your own selves whether ye be in the faith prove your selves: know ye not your own selvs, how [Page 16] that Iesus Christ is in you, except yee be repro­bates? Where yee see the Apostle command­eth the duty of selfe-triall: And consider how he presseth it upon us: 1. Doe yee not know what an estate you are in? Then examine and en­quire. 2. Doe yee thinke yee are in a good estate? Look ye prove it, & be sure ye be not in an errour. Doe yee object yee doe not know, neither can yee know? No? then your estate is very bad: finde out some good tokens in you, except yee be reprobates. This command makes it a clear duty.
  • 2. But a second reason to prove it our du­ty to enquire what estate we are in, is, be­cause without the knowledge thereof wee can never have any true peace in our consci­ences: The conscience must needs be without peace so long as wee are ignorant of what e­state we are in:
    Rom. 5.1.
    Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Iesus Christ. First the Apostle sheweth their estate; they were in a state of justification: and from the knowledge thereof they had peace. Wee are bound to get true peace to our consciences: Oh, what a lamentable maze are we in till our consciences have peace! And this they cannot have until we are fully acquainted in what case we stand before God: Acquaint thy selfe with God,
    Iob. 22.21
    and be at peace.
  • 3. Thirdly, we can neither be fit for any duty of Gods worship as long as we know not what estate we are in: We can never bee fit for [Page 17] any holy duty,
    1. Cor. 11.28.
    to heare, pray, receive the sacra­ment: Let a man examine himselfe, and so let him eat, &c. First he must examin in what estate he is before he can be fit for that high service. So for repentance:
    Lam. 3.40.
    Let us search and try our waies, and turne again to the Lord: first find our selves in an ill estate, and then return. So for joy; It is a duty to rejoyce in the Lord: but we are never fit for rejoycing till we have proved what e­state we are in:
    Gal. 6 4.
    Let every man prove his owne work; so shall he have rejoycing. We can never be fit for any duty untill we know in what e­state we are in, because every duty varieth ac­cording as the estate of every man is. To in­stance in prayer; He that is not in the state of grace must pray one way, and he that is in the state of salvation must pray another way: the one, that he may be converted and brought home to God; the other, that hee may bee strengthned and encreased in grace. And so for the duty of hearing, &c.

The second use is for direction;Vse 2. Of Di­rection. Meanes to knowe what esta [...]e we are in. to let us un­derstand by what means we may know what estate we are in, there be 4 means to know this

  • 1. By our outward and inward actions. I do not say, by our outward actions: For a man may be in the estate of hypocrisie, and yet his outward actions may be good. Neither doe I say by our inward actions alone: F [...]r a man may be in the state of selfe-deceit, and yet say his heart is good, and his meaning and minde [Page 18] good. But I say, by them both put together. Our Saviour setteth it out by a tree; every good tree bringeth forth good fruit: but a corrupt tree bringeth forth corrupt fruit.
    [...]. 7.
    So if the heart brin­geth forth the fruit of righteousnesse, joy in good things, patience, meeknesse, gentlenesse, love, obedience, godly conversation, &c. These evidence a good estate: but if the heart bring­eth forth deadnesse, earthlinesse, impatience, e­vill conversation, &c. these are corrupt fruits and signes of a very bad estate.
  • 2. Yee may know what estates yee are in by your inclinations and dispositions, from whence these actions proceed.
    Psal. 119.112
    Are your hearts inclined heaven-ward and God-ward, as Da­vids? Are yee bent to holinesse and selfe-deni­all, &c. as a bow is bent to shoot the arrow? This is a signe of a good estate: as 1. Chron. 22.19. there is speech of setting the heart to seek God. Yee know when a man will doe a thing indeed, we say he is set on't. It may be yee doe some good duties, make some faire offers of seeking God▪ but are your hearts set on't? or are they set on the world and inclined earth­ward? The inclinations of every creature in the world doe ever shew what the creature is, How doe we know that a stone is heavy? Be­cause it inclineth downward. How do wee know that a man is cholerick? Because he is in­clined unto wrath. So a mans estate may bee known by his constant inclination either to good or evill.
  • [Page 19]3. One may know what estate he is in by reflexive act which is proper onely to man. There is an act in mans soul (we call it a reflex act) which no creature hath but onely man, whereby he can perceive what himselfe is and doeth. When a man thinketh or speaketh, hee can reflect upon himself and perceive what he thinketh or speaketh: when he prayeth, he can reflect upon his own heart, and perceive how it carrieth it self all along in his prayers. I say no creature in the world hath in it this refle­xive act but only man. The fire burneth, but it cannot reflect upon its own burning: Oculus non videt se videre, The eye seeth, but it doth not see that it doth see; that is, That creature doth not perceive what it doeth when it seeth. But every man hath this reflexive act in him, whereby he is privy to what himself thinketh,
    1. Cor. 2.11
    doeth, is. None knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of a man that is in him. This is the rea­son why some know not what estate they are in, because they choake their owne spirit, and hoodwink their consciences. Thine own heart knoweth how it is with thee, and would faith­fully tell thee if thou wouldst enquire of it and hearken unto it. Search with Gods can­dle, and thou maist easily find what is in thee. The spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord,
    Prov. 20.27.
    searching all the inward parts of the belly.
  • 4. Ye may know what estate ye are in by a certain kind of feeling. As there is a kinde [Page 20] of bodily feeling whereby every man know­eth the estate of his body whether he be sick or in health, so there is a spirituall feeling. The two Disciples did feel their hearts burn:
    Luk. 24:32
    Paul did feel a great combate in him between the flesh and the spirit:
    Eph. 4.19.
    So if men be covetous and worldly, they may feel it. Yet indeed some men be past feeling, Their case is the worse be­cause they cannot feel how bad it is: But for the most, they may easily feele what their estate is.

Vse 3. Impedi­ments.The third use is, to shew you the impediments that hinder this knowledge. If you would at­tain to know what estate you are in, then re­move the impediments; which are

1. Vain thoughts. Men who are in a state of sin and wrath, yet have many vain thoughts lodging within them keeping them from knowing it: God is mercifull; and Christ died for sinners; and, There be worse sinners then they; why should they think so ill of themselves? and, they may be better all in good time: These vain thoughts hoodwink their eyes that they can­not see their estate, nor resolve that it is so dangerous as indeed it is.Ier. 4.14. O Ierusalem, wash thy heart from wickednesse: how long shall these vain thoughts lodge within thee? They were in a very bad estate; & yet they had such vain thoughts that they could not see it.

2. Presumption is another impediment. Men pray, and heare, and doe other good [Page 21] duties, and so take all to be well without se­rious examining. This was the case of the La­odicean people They thought they had that in them which they had not,Rev. 3.17. and that their estate was good, when it was nothing so.

Another let is the Cares of this life: Whereby the heart is so occupied that it doth not find to search its own estate. Therefore our Saviour saith,Luk. 21.35 Take heed that your hearts be not overcharged with the cares of this life, lest that day come upon you unawares; intimating that these cares are great lets from conside­ring our estates.

4. Another let is an Evill conscience: which affrighteth a man so soon as he beginneth to stirre, and maketh him afraid to go on to look soundly into his estate.Ioh. 3.20. Rom. 3.11 He that doeth evill ha­teth the light

5. Another let is Ignorance. There is none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God. Mark; they did not seek in what case they stood before God because they did not un­derstand.

6. Another let is Spirituall sloth and slug­gishnesse of heart. Men cannot endure to take paines with their own hearts till they have made out a true judgement in what case they are: They begin and quickly give over; and so for want of diligence and paines-taking make nothing sure.

The last use is for exhortation; That all [Page 22] men would bestirre themselves and set in ear­nest upon this enquirie That we may every one know in what state we stand.

1. Consider, this is an enquiry about our souls. We enquire about our outward man, a­bout the estate of our bodies, and worldly af­faires, &c. oh, let us not neglect this main en­quirry, Am I in Christ, yea or no? Am I a new creature, yea or no? Doth my soule live to God or no?

2. Consider, this is a question about our everlasting estate. We can never have com­fort untill we have put this out of question, and therefore this is a question which all que­stions must give way unto. If ye be not in Christ, ye had need lay aside all, and look a­bout it only. How can men eat, drink, sleep, &c. sith the wrath of God abideth upon all unbelievers? Me thinks our souls should take no content, do nothing else but faint after Christ, untill we know our interest in him. I say again, This is the grand enquiry, that busi­nesse which all businesses must give place un­to. Oh, the sloth of our souls! Let us in time awake and rouse them up, and never rest untill we know our own estate to be good before God, that so our hearts may have comfort, and that with God,


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