A DIVINE MESSAGE TO THE ELECT SOULE: The Heads of these ensuing SERMONS contained in this BOOK. Viz.

  • The use and benefit of Divine Meditation
  • The danger of deferring Repentance.
  • The Arraignment of vain and evill thoughts.
  • The Judgement of the World passed by the Saints.
  • The punishment of unworthy Receivers.
  • The Duty of Communicants.
  • The Duty of Reprovers and Persons reproved.

The second Edition, corrected and amend­ed by a worthy friend of the AUTHORS.

A DIVINE MESSAGE TO THE ELECT SOULE: DELIVERED In eight Sermons upon seven severall Texts.

By that laborious and faithfull Mes­senger of CHRIST, Mr. William Fenner, B.D. Somtimes Fellow of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, and late Minister of Rochford in Essex.

The second Edition, corrected and Enlarged.

I have sent unto you the pestilence, after the manner of Egypt; your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses, I have made the stink of the Camp to come up to your nostrils, yet have ye not returned to me, saith the Lord: therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel; and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet me thy God, O Israel.

Amos 4.10.12.

Printed at London by T.R. and E.M. for John Stafford, and are to be sold at his house in Brides Church-yard, 1647.

THE EPISTLE TO the godly Reader of these pious Sermons.

THE Author of these ensuing Ser­mons, Master William Fenner, was so deservedly famous in the Church of God, and so well knowne unto mee in particular, and one to whom I was so much obli­ged when he was living, as that I could not thinke it sufficient to give a bare [Page] Imprimatur unto his Sermons, but have added this Testimony also, that thereby all good people might be encouraged to read these Works of his, whose life and conversation was a continuall Sermon, and who spent himself in studying and preaching, and whose me­mory will be ever pretious unto

Your loving friend, Edm. Calamy.

TO THE READER.

Good Reader,

THe Author of these Sermons, ha­ving served his time, and being fallen asleep, The lot is fallen up­on me to appear in their behalf, and to seal unto their worth and usefulnesse for publike service, as far as thou pleasest to seal unto my judgement and faithfulnesse in such a case, with thine opinion and approbation. For the truth is, that the strength and value of my testimony concerning them, is like to extend no further, then thine doth con­cerning me: So that if I adde any thing to their credit and estimation in the world, by my recommendation, it is by the mediation of thine ingenuity and fairnesse towards me. But if thou shalt please to be at any reasonable cost in the reading of them, and lay thy judgement and conscience as close to the Spirit, as thou must thine eyes to the letter of what thou readest, I make no que­stion but I shall be the gainer, and not they, by this engagement of my self for them. [Page] True worth, especially when it overcomes, and breaks out of the cloud of obscurity, alwayes returns more then what it receives from any mans testimony: neither is there any method or trade so proper and certain, whereby to raise an estate of honour and reputation to a mans self, as the bestowing or casting honour and reputation upon o­thers, so he be carefull and dexterous in the choice of his subject. John Baptist by giving testimony only to one, Jesus Christ, out­grew the common stature of those that are born of women, in true greatnesse, Mat. 11.11. And yet there was little or nothing (in effect) added to Jesus Christ himself by his testimony, Joh. 5.34. It is an ingenu­ous and inoffensive way to serve our selves out of other mens excellencies, by advan­cing them: neither do the generality of men in their practice, more generally con­sent upon any principle of reason & equity, then this, To recompence such men with terms of honour, who are unpartial and free in subscribing and acknowledging the worth and eminencie of others. And as many that are but of mean condition in the world otherwise, yet maintain themselves comfortably, by trimming and dressing the [Page] gardens and orchards, and vineyards of rich and wealthy men: so may men that want other personal abilities and excellen­cies of their own, subsist upon terms of a convenient reputation, only by vindicating, adorning, and setting forth the endowments and gracefull parts of other men.

The subject or argument of these Ser­mons, is partly that noble and high-import­ing strain of Christian devotion; Prepara­tion for that solemn enterview of Jesus Christ in his death, at his Table; The great severity of Gods proceedings against de­spisers of admonitions and reproof. Both theames of savoury consideration for all those that love not death; and more especi­ally for those, who desire not only to be saved, but to be saved upon sweeter and more comfortable terms then as by fire, 1 Cor. 3.15. Those that were chastened with weaknesse, and sicknesse, and death, amongst the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 11.30. were yet saved, ver. 32. but this was as by or through fire: though they did not pe­rish, were not consumed by the flames of Gods displeasure against them, yet they were sorely scorched with them, the smell of this fire was strong upon the garments of [Page] their flesh: They discerned not the body of his Son Jesus Christ, in his ordinances; but in stead of that holy, reverend, and deep-studied behaviour which was due unto it, both from their inner and outward man, as being a creature of the highest and deepest sanctification that ever God sancti­fied; Sanctified not only to a more excel­lent and glorious condition, but also to many ends and purposes of far higher and deerer concernment, both for the glory of God, and benefit of Men themselves, then all other creatures whatsoever, whether in heaven or in earth: They handled and dealt by it in both kinds, as if it had been but a common or unsanctified thing; thus they discerned not the Lords body. And as they discerned not his body, so neither did God (in some sense) discern theirs; but in those sore strokes and heavy judgements which he inflicted on them, had them in no other regard or consideration, then as if they had been the bodies of his enemies, the bodies of wicked and sinful men; thus drawing the model and platform of their punishment (as usually he doth) from the structure and proportion of their sin. And if the moral or spiritual seeds and originals [Page] of our outward and bodily afflictions, as sicknesses, weaknesses, either upon our selves or ours, declining estates, losses, &c. (which still lie deeper than the natural) were but carefully and narrowly sought out, it is much to be feared we should finde a great part of them (at least) in the bowels of the same Sin so frequent amongst us, I mean, of Not discerning the LORDS Body. The just and righteous God builds up the breaches that we make upon the honour belonging to the body of his Sonne, with the ruines of that honour which he had given unto ours in health, strength, life, and many other outward com­forts and supports. But thou wilt heare more of these things in the Sermons them­selves: the wholesome Admonitions and Reproofs wherein contained, with the rest of that heavenly provision for thy Soule, which thou shalt find here gathered toge­ther, and laid into thy hand, I heartily wish may be sanctified unto thee by the highest hand of the Sanctifier; that so thy sins and corruptions may flie seven wayes before that Spirit of power which here pursueth them, and thou never presume to return back again unto them more. The God whom [Page] we serve, is able to performe this great pe­tition, by Jesus Christ. To whose grace the peace of thy soule is faithfully and feel­ingly recommended by

That poor and unworthy servant of Christ and his Church, John Goodwin.

The Contents and Heads of the eight following Sermons.

The Contents of the first two Sermons from HAG. 1.5.
  • THe Preface showing the usefulnesse of Meditation, together with the danger in neglecting it, Page 1
  • The opening of the Tex in severall particulars, pag. 4
  • Doctrine. Serious Meditation of our sins by the [...]ord, is an especiall means for to make us repent, 4
  • The definition of Meditation in four particulars, 4
    • 1 It is an exercise of the mind, 4
    • 2 A setled exercise of the mind, 5
    • 3 It is to make a further enquirie into all the parts of the truth, 6
    • 4 It labours to affect the heart, 7
  • Two Reasons.
    • 1. Because Meditation presseth [...]ll Arguments home to the heart, 7
    • 2 Because Meditation fastens sin close upon the [...]oul, and makes the soul to feel it, 9
  • 1 Use. For the reproof of severall sorts of men [...]hat are loth to put in practise this so necessary a duty, 12
  • Four lets of Meditation.
    • 1. Vain company, 14
    • [Page] 2 Multitude of worldly businesse, 14
    • 3 Ignorance, 16
    • 4 That naturall aversnesse is in the heart of man unto it, 16
  • This aversnesse of heart consisteth in three things
    • 1 In the carelesnesse of the heart, 17
    • 2 In the runnings and rovings of the heart, 17
    • 3 In the wearisomnesse of the heart in medita­tion, 17
  • 2 Use. For terror unto all those that dare sit down in security, never at all regarding this soul searching duty, 18
  • Four means or helps to meditation.
    • 1 With all seriousnesse tell the soul that thou hast a message from the Lord unto it, 20
    • 2 Observe sitting times for meditation: viz.
      • 1 The morning, 21
      • 2 The night, 22
      • 3 The evening, 22
      • 4 When the heart is after some extraordina­ry manner touched with Gods word or provi­dences, 22
    • 3 Call to mind what evill thou hast done ever since thou wast born, 23
    • 4 Rouse up thy heart and thoughts as high a [...] heaven, 23
    • 3 Use. For the reprehension of those that medi­tate upon their sins, and how they may with the more freenesse commit sin, 24
  • Four grounds upon which meditation must be raised.
    • 1 Meditate on the goodnesse, mercy and patience [Page] of God, that you have oft abused by your sins, 26
    • 2 Meditate on the justice of God that you have so oft provoked, 28
    • 3 Meditate on the wrath of God that you have so oft kindled, 29
    • 4 Meditate on the constancie of God, who is a constant hater of all sin, 30
  • Four directions how to carry Meditation home to the heart.
    • 1 Weigh and ponder all the foregoing things in [...]hine own heart 33
    • 2 Strip sin, and look upon it starknaked, and in [...]ts own colours, 33
    • 3 Dive into thine own soul, and search thine [...]eart to the quick, 34
    • 4 Prevent thine own heart by meditation, and [...]ell thy soul that it will one day wish, that it had not [...]eglected this so necessary a duty, 36
  • Four duties to be discharged, that we may put life to Meditation.
    • 1 Let Meditation haunt and dogge thy heart with the promises, and threatnings, mercies and judge­ments of God, 38
    • 2 Let Meditation trace thy heart in the same steps, and run over all thy duties discharged, 41
    • 3 Let Meditation hale thy heart before Gods Throne, there to poure out thy complaints before the Almighty, p. 43. and let thy complaint be
      • 1 Full of sorrow, 44
      • 2 A full complaint of all thy sins, 44
      • 3 A complaint aggravating all thy sins by all their circumstances. 45
      • [Page]4. A self-condemning complaint, wherein the complaint of Ezra is illustrated in eight particulars, 46
    • 4 Let Meditation when it hath searched out thy case, and made it appear how wofull it is, cast thee down before God, 49
  • Four motives to stir up the soul to Meditation.
    • 1 Consider it is the part of a fool not to meditate; It is a madnesse for a man to walk on in a course, and not to consider whither it will tend, 50
    • 2 Consider, not to meditate, is the brand of a Re­probate, 52
    • 3 He that meditates not, robs God of his honor, 52
    • 4 All the service that a man performeth unto the Lord, will be abominable, if he meditate not be­fore it, and after it, 53
  • The reason why we have so many vain thoughts in our holy exercises, is, because we prepare not our hearts thereunto by meditation, 54
The Contents of the third Sermon. Proverbs 1.28.
  • 1 THe opening of the context in 5 particulars, 59
  • 2 The opening of the words of the Text in four particulars, 62
  • 1. Doctrine. Those that will not heare the Lord when he calleth upon them by the ministry of his word, and voice of his Spirit, the Lord will not hear them, when in their misery they call upon him. 62
  • [Page]3. Reasons of the point.
    • 1. The law of Retaliation, of rendring like for like, requires it. 64
    • 2. Because Gods two Attributes of Mercy and Ju­stice, have their season in this life, and when Mercy hath acted her part, then commeth Justice upon the stage for to act her part. 66
    • 3. Because it is Gods manner for to doe so in tempo­rall things, and therfore much more in matters of grace and salvation. 68
  • God giveth to men a day, and no Man nor Angell knoweth how long this day lasteth, or when this season of grace shall have an end. 71, 73
  • And as there is a Personall day, so there is a Nationall day. 74
  • Object. 1. A man may be called at the 11th or 12th houre of the day. 75
  • Ans. Those that were called at the first hour, came in at the first houre; these that came in at the twelfth houre, were not the same that were called at the first hour. 75
  • Object. 2 The day of grace lasteth as long as the day of life. 77
  • The Objection is cleared under three particulars.
  • Ans. And it is answered, that the day of grace may end to a particular man long before his death.
  • 1. Because God may harden a mans heart. 78
  • 2. Because God may sear mens consciences. 78
  • Object. 3. Suppose I go on in my sinne, and repent upon my death-bed, will God hear me?
  • Ans. The answer is negative. 80
  • Object. 4. Suppose I humble my self by fasting and [Page] prayer, will not God hear that?
  • The answer is negative, if thou neglect the day of grace. 81
  • 5. Obj. At what time soever a sinner repents, he shall find mercy.
  • Ans. It is true, if he repent from the bottom of his heart, but a man may have many a degree of re­pentance, and yet never repent from the heart, 81.
  • Self-love may make a man do much. 82
  • 2. Doct. It may be this very day, even this particular Sermon, this instant hour may be thy day, that art now in thy sinnes, that if thou repent not at this very one Sermon, thou neglectest eternal life for ever. 82
  • Four Reasons of the point.
    • 1. Because Gods patience is in his own breast, and who can tell how long it will last? 83
      • Wherein Joel 2.13. is opened in five particulars. 84
      • God usually giveth some signes of death beforehand. 86
      • But the day of grace may end, and a man never have any warning of it. 86
    • 2. Because Gods patience giveth no marks or inck­lings of its ending before it ends. 86
    • 3. Because God keepeth a strict account how many opportunities he hath vouchsafed. 88
    • 4. Consider it is a wonder that the day of grace is not ended already, and that thou art not now in hell. 90
The Contents of the Fourth Sermon, upon Philip. 3.18.19.
  • [Page]1. An explanation of the severall parts of the Text, in five particulars. 98
  • Doct. That those whose minds and thoughts run ha­bitually on earth and earthly things, their end must needs be destruction. 99
  • 6. Reasons.
    • 1. The curse of God is the desert of vain thoughts. 99
    • 2. The curse of God is the event of vain thoughts. 99
    • 3. That man whose thoughts are habitually on the things of the world, can never truly repent. 100
    • 4. Because that man whose thoughts run habitually on earthly things, hath no part in Jesus Christ. 102
    • For the thoughts and affections of the heart are the feet of the soul. 102
    • 5. Because so long as a mans thoughts run ha­bitually on the things of the world, that man hath no true love of God in him. 105
    • 6. Because so long as a mans thoughts run after the world, he can never depart from his sins. 106
  • 2. Uses.
    • 1. For humiliation, because these vain thoughts bearing sway in the heart, they make that mans end to be destruction. 108
    • 2. For the terrour of those men who suffer their hearts to be taken up with vain thoughts. 111
  • Object. But I think of God, and of Christ, of faith and repentance. 113
  • [Page] Ans. 1. Consider whether thy good thoughts be meerly cast into thy heart; or whether they be raised by thy heart, 113
  • A wicked man may have a thousand good thoughts, and yet go to hell in the midst of them, 114
  • 2 Thou hast good thoughts, but consider whether they be fleeting or abiding thoughts, 116
  • There are two kinds of vain thoughts: First, vain because the matter and substance of them is vain; Secondly, vain for want of durance and lasting, though not vain for the matter of them, 116
  • 3 Thou thinkest of God, but consider whether thy thoughts be studied or accidental thoughts. When a good thought commeth into a godly mans heart, it leaveth a good impression behind it; but when a good thought comes into a wicked mans heart, it leaves no impression behind it, 117, 118
  • A godly man not only thinketh of God; but he studi­eth how to think of God. 119
  • 4 Thou thinkest of God, but consider whether thy thoughts of God be profitable, or unprofitable thoughts, 120
  • Thoughts are not free; 121. Not free
    • 1 From Gods knowledge, 121
    • 2 They are not free from Gods word, 122
    • 3 They are not free from the wrath of God, 123
  • Three meanes, in the use whereof we may rid our selves of vain thoughts.
    • 1 Love the word of God, 123
    • 2 Go unto God by prayer, 124
    • 3 Consider thou hast not so learned Christ, 125
  • [Page]All vain thoughts arise from these three Heads.
    • 1 From the variety and abundance of the thoughts of the world, 125
    • 2 From the Fountain of corruption that is in mens hearts, 126
    • 3 From the damned malice of Satan, and his temp­tations both within and without, 126
  • 1 Materially thoughts are vain,
  • 1 When the matter of them is vain, 126
  • Such are the thoughts of the world, calling or re­creation: these are evill,
    • 1 When we think of them primarily, that is, before we think of God, 127
    • 2 When we think of them too usually, too often, 129
    • 3 When we think of them too savourly, 130
    • 4 When we think of them without counsel, 131
    • 5 When they are thought needlesly, 131
  • 2 Thoughts are vain formally, when though the matter of them be never so good, yet the manner of thinking them is evill, 132
  • It is possible for a wicked man to go to hell, though he perform the same things for the matter of them that a godly man doth. 132
  • 3 Thoughts are vain efficiently, when the heart that thinketh upon them is earthly, and vain 134
  • 4 Thoughts are vain, when the drift and end of the soul in thinking on them, is vain, 136
  • Wicked men will be thinking of God,
  • 1 To make God amends for their dishonouring of [Page] him by their wicked thoughts. 137
  • 2. To collogue with God, and to flatter him. 138
  • 3. To smother and choke their own consciences. 139
The Contents of the Fifth Sermon upon 1 Corinth. 6.2.
  • 1. An explanation of the text, together with the ver­ses foregoing and following. 144
  • Doctrine. The Saints shall judge the world. 146
  • Objection. How shall the Saints judge the world? 146
  • Answer. 1. By their consent unto Christs judge­ment. 146
  • 2. By their applause of Christs judgement. 147
  • 3. By their Majesty; then shall they shine as the Stars in the Firmament, and the wicked shall be amazed at the sight of them. 148
  • 4. By their lives and conversations, by their accep­ting of the Lord Jesus Christ, shall judge the worlds rejecting of him. 148
  • Four Reasons of the point.
    • 1. First, because of that mysticall union that is be­twixt Christ and his Saints, so when Christ judg­eth the world, the whole body of Christ may be said to judge the world. 149
    • 2. In regard of their sufferings with Christ, as they are judged by the world, so they shall be judged of the world. 149
    • [Page] 3 For the greater terror to all wicked men at the day of judgement, 150
    • 4 Because the mouthes of wicked men may be stop­ped, and that they may have no excuse for them­selves, 150
  • Use 1 For information in five particulars,
    • 1 Hence we may learn that the Saints, by their now being Saints, do now judge the world, 151
    • Wherein Heb. 11.7. is cleared from an objection,
    • 2 Hence let the world learn that when any one sin­ner is converted, there is one Judge more to sit up­on them, 153
    • 3 Hence we may learn that it concernes all the world to take notice of every grace in Gods chil­dren, because there is never a grace in any of the Saints, but it shall make for the condemnation of them that want it, 154
    • 4 Learn hence, that if the Saints, then much more the world that begets them, shall judge the world, 155
    • 5 Learn hence also that the Ministers of God by e­very Sermon they preach, shall judge the world, 157
  • Use 2 For to condemn the world, who see not an a­miablenesse in the faces of the Saints, who shall one day be their judges, who shall judge both Saints and Angels, 157
  • 2 This sheweth the folly of the wicked, who prepare not for these Judges, 158
  • Lastly, it condemnes all those that do not see glory and majesty in the faces of Gods Saints, he that revileth the Saints, revileth his judges, 159, 160
  • [Page]Who shall judge the World.
    • 1 God the Father by way of authority, all judge­ment is originally from him, 161
    • 2 God the Son by way of dispensation, 161
    • 3 God the holy Ghost by way of conviction, 161
    • 4 The word of God by way of form, it being the plat­form, according to which Christ will judge the whole world, 162
    • 5 All the Ministers of God shall sit as Justices in common, 164
    • 6 All the Saints from one end of the world to the other, shall assist the just Judge of heaven and earth, 164
  • So that the wicked shall not be able to plead,
    • 1 Their ignorance, 165
    • 2 Nor their poverty, 166
    • 3 Neither their sinning at their masters command, 170
    • 4 Neither callings nor tradings, 167
    • 5 Neither the sinfull times they live in, 167
  • Use 3 First, for the just reproof of many of the Saints of God, because they are not so circumspect over their wayes, as they ought, how will they be able to rise up in judgement against the wicked for such sins as they themselves live in? 168
  • 2 It may serve to condemne some of the Saints of God in regard of that little difference that is to be found betwixt the wicked of the world, and them in their lives and manners, that it is hard to tell which is a Saint, and which is a reprobate by their conversations, 170
  • [Page] 3 It may serve to condemn the scandalousnes of ma­ny persons in their behaviour and actions, 171
The Contents of the Sixth Sermon, 1 Cor. 11.30.
  • DOct. 1 from the 18 verse, That whosoever will come to the holy Cōmunion, they must examine themselves, that so they may come worthily, 175
  • The Apostle gives three Reasons of it,
    • 1 From the end of the Sacrament, 176
    • 2 From the wrong men offer to Christ, if they come in their sins, 177
    • 3 From the woful wrong that a man doth to his own soul, that commeth without preparation, 177
  • The Vses of the point are these,
    • 1 For the reproof of those that comming unprepa­redly get no spiritual strength thereby, 178
    • 2 For terror to unworthy receivers, 179
    • 3 To shew they make themselves liable to Gods temporary plagues, 180
    • 4 For instruction to examine our selves, 180
    • 5 He concludes with an use of exhortation, 181
  • An explanation of the words,
  • 2 Doct. God doth most severely punish the unwor­thy receivers of the Lords Supper, 183
  • 4 Reas.
    • 1 Because Christ himself instituted it, 184
    • 2 Because Christ is the matter of it, and therefore the more heynous the defilement, 187
    • 3 Because Christ is the form of it, wherein confirm­ing grace is sealed to the soul, 190
    • 4 Because Christ is the end of the Sacrament, 191
  • [Page] Use 1 For instruction; shewing whence sicknesse, weaknesse, &c. come, 193
  • 2 From whence comes hardnesse of heart &c. 194
  • Use 2 For comfort unto every poor afflicted soul &c. 198
  • Use 3 For terror to those that come unpreparedly, 199
  • Object. Do all that come unworthily eat and drink their own damnation?
  • Answ. A man may eat and drink his own damnation three wayes,
    • 1 In regard of guilt, and liablenesse to Gods wrath, 203
    • 2 In regard of the seal and obligation in the con­science, 203
    • 3 In regard of the sigillation in heaven, 204
  • Lastly, the conclusion, denouncing terror to all those that dare rush upon this holy ordinance, 205
  • But for comfort to all them, who with all diligence set upon the preparing of their souls for this great Ordinance, 206
The Contents of the Seventh Sermon on 2 Cor. 11.28.
  • The words of the Text explained, 210
  • Doct. 1 We must not rush upon the Sacrament, 210
  • There are none of the Ordinances of God that a man may rush upon without examination, 211
  • Three Reasons. Naturally we are no invited guests to the Sacrament, 212
  • 2 Though we are invited, yet it may be we are not disposed: for naturally we are strangers to God, [Page] and the covenant of God, all this indisposition must be wrought off before we can come comfortably to the Sacrament, 213
  • 3 This is a solemne Ordinance, and therefore an or­dinary disposition will not serve the turn, 213
  • Many a reprobate may eat and drink in Christs pre­sence, 214
  • Use. To forewarn men lest they unpreparedly rush upon any of Gods Ordinances, especially upon the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, 215
  • The Text divided into Four parts. 216
  • Doct. 2 There is a necessity that we should receive the Lords Supper, and receive it often, 217
  • Doct. 3 The manner of performance of duties is to be regarded, 218
  • Five Reasons. 1 The Lord commands the manner as well as the matter, 219
  • 2 Circumstances overthrow actions, if they be not rightly and duly observed, 219
  • It's in­stanced
    • 1 In prayer, 219
    • 2 In preaching, 220
    • 3 In receiving the Sacrament, 221
    • 4 In brotherly reproofe, 221
    • 5 In eating, drinking, and marrying, 221
  • 3 Because only the right manner of doing duties gets the blessing, 223
  • 4 Because Christ himself is an example unto us, in this he did not only obey his Father in the matter of his commands, but in the manner of them, 224
  • 5 Because otherwise we canaot glorifie God, 225
  • Use. 1 First, to condemne that naturall Popery that is in the hearts aef men &c. 227
  • [Page] Use 2 For discovery why people are so willing to do duties for the matter and not for the manner, 229
  • The Reasons of it are these:
    • 1 Because the matter of duty is easie, but the man­ner is difficult, 229
    • 2 Duties for the matter of them, may be done with a proud heart, 231
    • 3 They may be done with an unholy life, 232
    • 4 The matter of duty bringeth not the crosse; and many zealous for the matter, are persecutors of goodnesse, 234
  • Use 3 To exhort men to labour to perform duties aright, 235
  • Three motives to perswade people to perform duties after a right manner.
    • 1 Because no Ordinance at all else can be effectual unto us, 236
    • 2 All is but hypocrisie if the manner be not regar­ded, 236
    • 3 It is only the right manner of doing duties, that pleaseth God, 238
  • 4 Doct. Every man must prepare himself before he come to the Lords Table, 239
  • 4 Reas.
    • 1 Because the Sacrament is Gods Ordi­nance, 239
    • 2 Because the Lord Christ hath made great prepa­ration in providing it, 241
    • 3 Because Christ in this ordinance offers for to come into the soul, & he looks for good entertainment, 24 [...]
    • 4 Because the Sacrament is a part of Christs last wil and Testament, therefore when we know our Lords will, we must prepare for the doing of it, 243
The Contents of the eighth Sermon upon Proverbs 29, 1.
  • [Page]1, A double exposition of the Text.
  • 1 Doct. From the first exposition, viz. He that re­proveth another, and is guilty himself in the same kind, or in any other kind, and hardeneth his own heart in it, that man shall be destroyed without remedy, 244
  • 7 Reasons. First, because the office of a reprover bindeth him to be blamelesse,
  • 2 Because such a reprover as is guilty himself, can never reprove to a right end, 250
  • 3 Neither can he do it in a right manner, 251
  • 4 Such a reprover is an hypocrite, 252
  • 5 Such a reproving of another mans sinne, makes him inexcusable in his own, 253
  • 6 It is an absurd thing for a person to reprove an­other for that whereof he is guilty himself, 254
  • 7 Such a reproving is a signe of impenitencie, 254
  • Object. Shall not a wicked Magistrate or Minister reprove others, &c.
  • Ans. He is bound to reprove, in regard of his office; [...]ut is bound in conscience to amend himself first, 155
  • Use, For instruction: first, Let every reprover take heed lest he make himself inexcusable, 256
  • 2 Let him endeavour to walk unblameable and in­offensive, 256
  • Two Doctrines from the second exposition of the Words: viz.
    • Doct. 1. The Lord doth not destroy man willingly, but for sinne, 261
    • Doct. 2. It is a great mercy for a man to be reproved for his sin, 261
  • [Page]Three Reasons of the Second Doctrine.
    • 1 Because reproofs primarily come from love, 262
    • 2 They tend to the good of a mans soul, 264
    • 3 It is brutish not to take reproofs in good part, 265
  • Use 1 First for information, that God is bringing destruction upon a Kingdom, when he takes away reprovers from them, 267
  • Use 2 For the reproof of those that despise the reproof of the wise; they despise not men, but God, 269
  • The grievousnesse of their sin who stand out against reproof, is aggravated under severall heads, 270
  • Doct. 3 The Lord proportions punishments to mens sins, 271
  • Reas. 1 Because hereby a mans punishment appears to be so much the more equall and worthy, 271
  • 2 This stops mens mouths, and convinceth their con­sciences,
  • 3 All the standers by may see the equity of it, when the punishment is according to the sin, 273
  • Use for instruction, First to teach men not to com­plain of Gods dealing with them, if their punish­ment be (for the kind of it) according to their sin, but rather let them learn to see Gods immediate hand in it, 274
  • 2 To teach men to consider how God many time [...] proportions punishments to sins:
    • 1 For kind, 275
    • 2 For quantity, 275
    • 3 For quality, 276
    • 4 For time, 277
    • 5 For place. 277

The Authors Preface upon these ensuing Sermons.

THE cause of that little heavenlines which is in the profession of Christianity, is the want of Meditation. Many can meditate cursorily, but that is not enough: it must be a sticking Meditation that must affect the heart. That place in 2 Pet. 2.8. is mar­vellous pregnant, it was the means why Lot was so touch­ed with the abominations of Sodome: That righteous man [...]welling amongst them, in seeing and hearing their ungodly deeds, vexed his righteous soul from day to day. Many heard and saw too, besides Lot, and were not vexed. Why? Other matters stuck in their thoughts, they never throughly me­ditated on it; but he vexed himself, that is, the meditation of those evils, and bringing them home to his soul, vexed him. The word is a fit word, implying two things: First, the searching and examining of a thing, his meditating heart examined their sins; how many they were, how grievous, how damnable, how likely to pull down some vengeance or other upon them. Secondly, the wracking or vexing up­on trial; so it was with Lot, he observed all their evils, and weighed them in his soul, & then he wracked his spirit with the consideration of them. The Evangelist useth this very word for tossing: this word that is here put for vexing, he puts for tossing of a ship in the seas, Matt. 14.24. The ship was toss'ed with the waves: so meditation did tosse his soul with vexation, sometimes down to the deep: O miserable [Page] wretches that we are! or, How brutish, how beastly, and how hellish are our sins? Sometimes up; O that the Lord would humble us and spare us! Sometimes over head and eares in the storme, O fool that I was to chuse my dwelling amongst such men! These meditations vexed hi [...] soul: Many have studied meditations, and yet are not acquainted with this cordiall meditation: Many Minister [...] that study Divinity all the day, that study the Word all the week, that study their Sermons all the year, may yet for all this, be carnall Ministers. Why? Because their meditation is but inventing and mentall meditation; thi [...] meditation is a practicall meditation, the thing meditated feeds the heart: that meditation is like a fluttering Phea­sant that flutters before their eyes▪ it feeds their eyes in­deed, but never feeds the stomack, as long as they neither catch nor eat it. The saving mysteries of God flutter be­fore their eyes, and before their understandings, they feed their eyes with knowledge, but never feed their souls un­to everlasting life, unlesse they fowle for it, dresse and di­gest it in their hearts. There is an apt word, Gen. 24.63. Isaac went out to meditate in the field: the originall hath it, to signifie mutuall conference, his mind conferred with the truth, and the truth with him, a mutuall working he wrought upon the truth, by meditating of it, and it wrought upon him; by leaving an impression upon his soul: this is a rare practice in the world, and yet as neces­sary as most, it is the art of the soul in being heavenly, it is the inuring of thee to every good duty: for by medita­tion a man comes to have his mind and heart fixed upon e­very thing that he would: Would he pray? he that hath inured his heart to meditate, his mind is fixed in his pray­er. Would he receive the Sacrament? He that hath inu­red his heart by meditation, his mind is fixed in the Ordi­nance. David that was excellent at meditation, had a fixed heart, Psal. 57.7. Psal. 112. 1.7.

A SERMON OF The use and benefit of Di­vine Meditation.

HAGGAI. 1.5.

Now therfore saith the Lord of Hosts, Consider your wayes.

THe Prophet reproveth the peo­ple because they could finde in their hearts to mind their own houses and yet were care­lesse of the house of the Lord: the Lord had sent a drought and a famine, and sundry punishments upon [Page 2] them for this thing, and yet they laid it not to heart; and therefore he sends Haggai the Pro­phet unto them to call them to repentance; and (which is an admirable course, and little thought of in the world) he begins with holy meditation and consideration: Now therefore thus saith the Lord, consider your wayes; that is, both in regard of the course of them, your wicked wayes; and also in regard of the bitter fruit of them, your wretched and unprosperous wayes. Here be two things very remarkable according to the Text;

  • 1. The repetition and inforcing of it again; for he urgeth it again, Consider your wayes, in the se­venth verse.
  • 2. The benefit that came by it; it brought them to repentance; for they all obeyed the voyce of the Lord, and the words of the Prophet, verse 12. Doct. 1 So that the Doctrine from hence is this, that, Serious meditation of our sins by the Word, is a spe­ciall means to make men repent.

Meditation is a setled exercise of the mind for a further inquiry of the truth, and so affecting the heart therewith; and therefore there bee foure things in meditation.

1 The first is an exercise of the mind, not barely closing with the truth, and assenting unto it, and seeing it, and there rests; but it looketh on every side of the truth: I thought upon my wayes, and tur­ned my feet unto thy Testimonies, Psal. 119.59. saith David; that is, I looked on my wayes on both sides, above and beneath; it's taken from [Page 3] curious works, which are the same on both sides, so that they which work them, must often turne them on every side; used Exod. 38.23. as being workes with two faces, as one well observes: so it was with David, I turned my wayes up-side downe, and looked every way upon them: thou never meditatest, unlesse thou look on thy wayes on both sides with all circumstances. An ele­gant phrase we have, Dan. 12.4. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall abound, and be increased. [Run to and fro] what is that? It is not the bodily removing of man from one place to another so much, as busie stirring of the mind from one truth to another, so that it seeth the whole selvedge and compasse of the truth: thou wilt never get the truth to be meditated of, till thou runne to and fro in it, meditate it on this side, and meditate it on that side, looke on it in every nook of it. Meditation is like perambula­tion when men go the bounds of the Parish, they goe in every part of it, and in every skirt of it: so meditation is the perambulation of the soule, when the soule lookes how far sinne goes, how far the flesh goes, how far the wrath of God a­gainst it goes.

2 Secondly, as it is an exercise, so it is a setled exercise, it is not a sudden flash of a mans con­ceit, but it, dwels upon a truth. When a man is in a deep meditation upon a thing he neither sees nor hears, nor attends any thing else; the stream of the heart is setled upon the truth received; The word of God abides in you, and you have over­come [Page 4] the world, 1 Ioh. 2.14. How came these young men to overcome Satan? Not by looking into the word, or onely thinking of the word; but by letting the Word abide in them. When a man hath been offered an injury, his heart is alwayes setled upon it; when he eates, his mind runnes on the injury; when he walkes, and talkes, still his mind runnes on the injury: so thy heart must goe on the truth 2 Tim. 3. Continue in the things thou hast learned: that is, take up thy mansion house in them. A wicked man may turn into the word sometimes to think of it; but it is as a man goes into another mans house: there is not his dwelling.

3 Thirdly it is to make a further inquiry: Medi­tation doth not onely settle upon the truth knowne; but it also would faine know more of those truths, that are subjected to it; as a man without may see the out side of the house, but he cannot see the roomes within, unlesse hee come nigh, and draw the latch, and come into the house, and goe into the roomes, and look about them. Meditation pulls the latch of the truth, and lookes into every closet, and every cubboard, and every angle of it. Here is my sin here is my uncleannesse, and here is Gods anger, here is the wofull evill that will follow upon it, and here is a remedy against it. Meditation sear­ches into all the lofts and closets of the truth. The entrance of thy word giveth understanding unto the simple, Psal. 119.30. The ingresse (as one ex­pounds it) or going into thy word, gives under­standing; [Page 5] the wicked stand looking upon the truth without the doores, but it is the ingresse, or going into the truth, that gives understanding. Indeede the truth is like a neat palace, (saith Chrysostome) the Spirit of God is like the light of the Sunne that shineth into it; the wicked they stand without, like fooles peeping in at the windowes, and there bee many thousands of pearles that are not manifest unto them: The house seems dark to them that stand without. Thou must enter into the word, and into every particular truth in it, and goe up staires, and downstaires, and have an eye into every roome. There thou shalt find humility, there contrition, there conversion, there Christ and his Spirit in one closet, there all his Jewels in that, and that box; all is manifest within doores.

4 Fourthly, it labours to affect the heart; it doth not onely labour to know more and more of the truth, but also it labours to bring it home to the heart. The good woman considers a field and buyes it. Prov. 31.16. that is,(saith Ambrose) the good Christian soule, if in civilitie, then much more in Divinity, considers the truth and buyes it, he taketh it for his own, and appropriates it unto himselfe; Lo this (saith Eliphas) wee have searched out: so it is, beare it, and know it for thy selfe, Job 5.27. When thou canst say of the truth loe this it is, we have searched it out; I have di­ved into it, perused it, so it is, even so indeed: all this is, that thou mayest apply it unto thy selfe, and know it for thy good.

[Page 6] Reas 1 The first Reason is, because meditation mu­sters up all weapons, and gathers all forces of arguments for to presse the same, and lay them heavie upon the heart: This usurie is spirituall and good, when meditation, like usurers, who grinde and suck the bloud of the needy, and are not content with their principall, but will have consideration for every pound they lay out yea for every shilling, and that for every week and every month, and every quarter, and every yeare: the poore man could bee content to pay the principall; but to exact use upon use, this kills him; so meditation exacteth upon the soul and holdeth it to use upon use. You have com­mitted evill in a corner, but you shall not carry it a­way so. Item, it was against the knowledge of God revealed; Item, against many mercies received; Item, against many judgements threatned, against many checks of conscience, against many vows and promises; remember that, O my soul. Item, for that, and Item for this; Item for every lust, and every circumstance, thus oft, and in this place, an [...] at that time, in that manner. So meditated the prodigall.Luke 15.17. Looke as it is in warres; were there but many scores come against an Army, they might be conquered: or many hundreds, they mighr be resisted; but if many thousands should come against a small army, it would be in danger indeed. Meditation leavieth a whole Army of arguments, a whole Army of curses, miseries, judgements, commandements against the soul: how ever one misery or plague will not knock [Page 7] it down, but the soule may brook it, and goe away with it: but meditation brings a great Armado of arguments, and tells the soule God is against thee, and against thy wayes: God is against thee where ever thou art, or what ever thou doest. Then the heart begins to cry out, as Elisha his servant did, Master, what shall wee doe? 2 Kings 6.15. So many horses against us, so many charets, and so many men against us? Ma­ster, what shall we doe? so many sinnes, and so heynous, so many judgements and so heavie, and so many evils and spirituall maladies! Oh, what shall I doe to be saved! that I should commit sinne against a God that hath damned innume­rable Angels, millions of Kings, Princes, and Nobles! that I should commit it against this God, so mercifull to me, so gracious, so patient, so good to my soule! that I, wretched rebell, should for a cup of drink refuse heaven! for a lust not worth a straw under my foot, cast off Christ, and grace and all! how shall I doe? Then the soule stands in a maze.

Reas 2 The second Reason is, because meditation ha­ving bundled up all Items against the soule, and brought in all bills of account, it fastens sin up­on the soule ▪ I meane it makes the soule feele it, so that it must needs be convinced without any evasion. Meditation deals with a man as Elisha dealt with the messengers of King Joram; the murderer he was comming to doe mischeife to the Prophet, and the Prophet did shut the door, and held him fast at the door, 2 Kings 6.32. and [Page 8] then he made him know that the evill was from the Lord, before he could stirre: so meditation, when the soule would fain out of doores into i [...]s old course againe, it shuts the doore upon it, and holds it fast Meditation tells the soule, this evill is from the Lord upon thee, O my soule, if tho [...] stirre in or out upon this or that lust any more▪ this evill that curse, that vengeance and damnation; if ever thou stirre forth, thou loses [...] thy mercy, thou losest Christ, thou losest all pos­sibility of comfort. Stirre not out; if thou dost, thou wilt roe it. Sometimes when men heare the Word, they go away touched, they resolve not to commit sinne again as they have done; yet when they are gone, it works not, but the heart recoyles again, and turnes to its old passe. The Reason is, because they meditate not upon the Word, they fasten it not upon their consci­ences.

It is with the Word as it is with a salve: if a man that hath never so good a salve that will heal any thing in foure and twenty houres, if a man should do nothing but lay it to the wound, and take it off, lay it on and take it off, it will not heale the wound: and no marvell. Why? hee will not let it lie on, the best salve will not heal the soare nor eate out the corruption, unlesse it be bound on and let lie: so it is with the Word, many a soule heares it; heart, conscience, affe­ctions, all toucht: but when he is gone out of the Church, all is gone his affections die, his heart dies, and his conscience becomes unfruit­full. [Page 9] Why? he is still removing of the salve, and will not let it lie on, and therefore the Word over-powers not his corruptions; the Word is like the salve; conviction of conscience is like the laying on of the salve; meditation the binding of it to the soare.

St James compares a slight hearer to a man that looks into a glasse, who soon forgets his visage; but a good hearer doth two things: First, hee stoops down and looks into it, to take a perfect view of his estate; Secondly, he continues looking into it, James 1.25. he doth not leave the glasse be­hind him, but he carrieth away the glasse with him: This man shall be blessed in his deed.

If the pills be never so bitter, yet let a man swallow them speedily, there is no great distaste; but if a man chew a pill, it will make him dead­ly sick. Thy sinnes are like those pills, they go down very pleasingly, because thou swallowest them: thou swallowest down thine oathes, lies, ignorance, pride, thou swallowest downe the threats of the Lord; but if thou wouldest chew these bitter pills, and meditate and rumi­nate, and chew the cud, drunkennesse would be as bitter as hell; swearing, and security, and Sabbath-breaking, would be as bitter as worm­wood; thou durst not go on in them, they would make thee look sourly upon them for ever: like a man that hath chewed a pill, he can hardly ever see a pill, but his stomach riseth against it. Be­hold, I will hedge up thy way with thornes, Hosea 2.6. I will not be so precise (saith the heart) I will [Page 10] goe on as I have done, I will goe after these and these courses; I will hedge up thy way with thorns (saith God;) meditation is Gods instrument, and sets a thorne in the way to every sinne, to bring the heart backe again. Would the heart lash out into luke-warmnesse? Meditation sets a thorn in the way; God will spue thee out of his mouth: Would the heart sally forth into any sinne? Meditation sets a thorn in the way, Cursed ar [...] thou if thou dost erre from Gods Commandements. The heart cannot step forth into any lust; but meditation meets it with a thorn, this curse, and that curse, this plague, and that Plague: Would the heart reach at mercy in its sinne? Meditation pricks it from it; mercie is ven­geance unto thee, so long as thou hankrest after sinne. Would the heart reach after Christ in his sinne? Meditation pushes it backe with a thorn: No Christ for thee, but a severe judge, so long as thou itchest after thy vanities.

Ʋse 1 What shall wee think of them then, which are loth to practise this dutie? Most men are loth, though they be willing enough to meditate on their worldly affaires. The Mariner meditates and considers his course by his Compass, or else hee might soon runne on the quick-sands; a Pil­grime is full of thoughts, what? am I in my right way? He never comes to a doubtfull turning, but he stands in a study & muses, O which is my right way? The Merchant meditates, and his minde runnes on his Count-book, or else he is soone bankrupt: The voluptuous man, his thoughts [Page 11] run on his pleasures: the drunkards on his cups, the proud mans on his credit. But it is one thing to looke to that which is thine, and another thing to looke to thy selfe, Take heed to your selves saith the Lord, Deut. 11.16. Deut. 12.30. Deut. 4.9. Exod. 34.12. as if he should say, think on thy selfe and of thy poor soul; let thy meditation run on thy poore soule. The heart is untoward unto this duty, and as unwilling as a Bear to be brought to the stake: the Beare would rather be rambling abroad then be baited: so men had ra­ther let their hearts ramble about any thing, then bait them for their sinnes: yea men scoffe at it, saying, shall we alwayes be poring on our sins? shall wee run mad? shall we drive our selves to despaire? cannot men keep themselves well while they are well?

The poore man he hath no time for this tedi­ous duty: the rich man, he needs it not, the wicked they dare not; so no man will: No man repented him of his wickednesse, saying, What have I done? Ier. 8.6. No man would meditate and thinke with himselfe, what is my case? how stands my condition before God? what evill have I done? In the Ark, and in the old law, if there were any beast that chewed not the cud, it was a signe of an unclean beast: the word im­plies the bringing up of their meat into their mouthes again, and sitting downe to chew it a­gain. But now men like unclean beasts, swal­low downe the food of their soules unchewed, and will not meditate thereof, that it may turne [Page 12] to good nutriment; but like Cormorants, they take it downe by whole-sale, and are never the better. So the Word is to them as the Quailes to the Israelites, while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against them, and smote them with a very great plague, Num. 11.33. so the Word of God sticks in their teeth; ere they chew it, or meditate upon it, the wrath of God fals upon them, and strikes them with a very great plague of hardnesse of heart, and lean­nesse of soule. But the truth is, you that will not now see your sinnes, nor meditate on them, you shall see them, and meditate on nothing but on feare. Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see, but they shall see and be ashamed, Esay 26.11.

Let. 1 Now the Lets of serious meditation are, First, vain company. When Peter saw the people tou­ched, Acts 2.37. he said unto them, Save your selves from this untoward generation, vers. 40. as if he should say, If you love your selves, God hath touched your hearts, suffer not Satan and these wicked instruments, to steale away these impressions of terror from your soules. If ever you love your soules, sort not your selves with this untoward generation. See as it humbles you, so let meditation follow upon it, so that it may still humble you. Ill company brings a man to the gallowes (as the proverb is) and ill company will bring a man to hell (say It) and meditation cannot be admitted to it. David would not have [Page 13] a wicked man to abide in his sight, when he was to meditate: he wisht that there were never a wicked man in the world; much lesse would he keep company with them. My meditation of him shall be sweet; let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more: Blesse thou the Lord, O my soul, Psal. 104.35.

Let. 2 The second Let is, multitude of worldly busi­nesse. A dream (saith Solomon) comes through mul­titude of businesse, Eccles. 5. Multitude of businesse causeth the mind so to run on them, that they do even dream of them in their sleep, as Lucretius, Seneca, Claudian, and many others of the heathens have observed. He that over-imployes himself, his meditations of heaven are dreaming medi­tations, his thoughts dreaming thoughts, he can never seriously meditete on the good of his soul. Many ingrosse businesse into their hands, never thinking they have enough; they are so greedy after the world, and so carelesse of heaven. So they make their hearts like high-way ground: the word sown in their hearts is like seed sown in the high-way, where is such a through-fare, and a broad Carriers road of earthly affairs, that all the word and meditation thereof is troden down as the grass in the high-way, which cannot grow; so neither meditation in a busie-bodied heart. For a good meditating mind, (Nemo ad illam pervenit occupatus, saith Seneca) no man ever came to it surfeited with imployments. David although he had abundance of State affairs, both his hands full, yet he would not have his hands [Page 14] to be over-charged, but that he might meditate in Gods word: My hands also (not all downe to businesse onely in the world, but also up to thy Law) will I lift up to thy commandements which I have loved, and I will meditate on thy statutes, Psal. 119.48. Take not too much upon thee, like those grasping worldlings, that wil have a finger in a hundred things: Martha, Martha, thou art cumbred about many things, but one thing is needfull, and Mary hath chosen the better part, Luk. 10.41. and what was that one thing? Mary was sitting and meditating in, and pondering Christs words, not (as Theophylact expounds it) as if he would say, Martha, Martha, thou art cumbred about many dishes, but one thing is needfull, only one dish; though indeed so it be, yet he here speaks not only of one dish, but of many cares which hinder that one necessary dutie of hearing and meditating on the word of God.

3 Thirdly, ignorance. A man cannot meditate of a thing he knowes not; nor thou of thy sinnes, if thou be not skilfull in Gods catalogue of thy sinnes; nor of mercies and promises if thou beest not verst in them; nor of his Precepts, if thou be not expert in them. The Psalmist proveth that he had more knowledge then all his Tea­chers: Why? Because he used to meditate. I have more understanding then all my Tutors, for thy testimonies are my meditation, Psal. 119.99.

4 Fourthly, aversenesse of the heart: The heart is like the swine, meditation is like the yoke: the Hogge would fain get into forbidden fields for [Page 15] to grub them; the yoke, that hinders him; but he cannot abide it; every step he takes, he lifts up his foot to strike it off if he could; so the heart would faine break through hedges, and get into forbidden wayes, and if thou wouldest meditate, it would every moment lift up its heele to put thee besides it: If it cannot put thee besids it, it will marre it if it can; and therefore David praid to God to settle his heart upon the right, and put his yoke upon him, or it would never be stedfast else upon meditation. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, bee ever ac­ceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my re­deemer, Psal. 19.14.

This aversenesse of the heart consists in three things: 1 First, in the carelesnesse of the heart, the heart prizeth not meditation, nor the things of grace that are to be meditated on; it will not be at the cost and charge, nor at the paines for them. To what end is a price in the hands of a foole, seeing there is no heart to get wisedome? Prov. 17. [...]6. The heart will not be brought to Gods price; it would faine have the wares at a cheap rate.

2 Secondly, in the runnings of it; the heart is like a vagrant rogue, he would rather be hanged then tied to his parish. Thou canst not bring it to prayer, but it will bee a gadding on by-thoughts: thou canst not bring it to a Sermon, but it will be roving after wandring imaginati­ons: thou canst not bring it to a meditation but it will bee a gossiping forth. When Christ came [Page 16] to bind men with his blessed cords, and bind their hearts to him, Psal. 2. they fall a medita­ting afterwards, but it was meditating and ima­gining vain things, verse 1. and when they saw they were to be tied up, Tush (say they) let us break their bonds a sunder, and cast their cords from us, verse 3. What, do Ministers call us to such strictnesse, thinking to imprison our hearts in their stocks? away with their bonds, no we [...] will have none of it.

3 Thirdly, in the wearisomnesse of the heart: It is a weary of meditation as a Cur is of the whip, and the chain; Oh how it barkes and maunders, till it be loose! yea, though it be ne­ver so eager upon it at the first, it's jaded pre­sently. When God called the Jews to sanctifie his Name, they thought in their hearts, O what a wearinesse is this! and yee have snuffed at it, (saith the Lord) yee brought that which was lame, and torn and sicke, Malac. 1.13. What a wearinesse is it to meditate? saith the heart; it snuffs, it is untoward, it is lumpish; it would fain teare of a peice of the duty, or bring it wanting a legge, or without soundensse and sincerity; yet some of them (saith Calvin) were so humbled, that they thought on the Name of the Lord, Malac. 3.16. they thought, and meditated, and forced their hearts to consider throughly.

Ʋse 2 This may serve for terror unto all those, who for all this that hath been spoken, dare sit down without it; yea, the world will not beleeve [Page 17] these things, nor meditate therein: yea, they blame Gods messengers, that call so sore upon them. Habukkuk was so served; he preached the mercies of God to the humble, and the judgements of God to the wicked: they ask him why he was so mad? well (sayes the prophet) I will stand upon my watch, and see what the Lord sayes unto me, that I may answer to them that reprove me. Hab. 2.1. What did the Lord tell him? Write the vision, and make it p [...]aine upon Tables that [...]e may run that reads it, vers. 2, Will they not be­leeve? Will they rove? Will they not medi­tate steadily upon these things? Will they not let their hearts stay and meditate and consider? The vision shall be so plain, that he that runnes may read it. If thou wilt not stay, and meditate herein, the Word is so plain to thy condemnati­on, that if thou didst but think of it with a run­ning thought, thou maist read thine owne ven­geance, thine owne woes, in regard of the mul­titude of them. He that runnes by a way full of holes and pits, though he stand not meditating where are the pits, yet he may run and see them. The book of God is full, leaves and cover, and all, of woes against thee, Lam. 2.10. It is writ­ten without, there thou maist read thy sins writ­ten; it is written likewise within, there thou maist read thy plagues.

Secondly, in regard of the greatnesse of them, he that runnes along▪ and loe a great towne on fire, though he stay not to meditate on it, what or where it is, yet he may runne and read it: so is [Page 18] the curse of sinners a great curse, Zeph. 1.10. he that runnes may read it.

Thirdly, in regard of the proximitie and neernesse of them Hee that run [...]es, if a sword come out by his throat, though he doe not stop to meditate, what is this at my throat, yet he can­not but see it. Behold the Judge standeth before the doore. Jam. 5.9. Take heed how thou grudg­est, or sinnest in any particular; behold the Judge standeth before the doore; behold it and me­ditate on it with thy heart; if not, he is nigh e­nough, thou canst not step out of doores unto a­ny sinne, but though thou runnest, thou must needs see the Judge that wil Judge thee, Iteming thy sinnes▪ noting thy wayes, observing thy courses, ready to unhaspe the doore on thee, to hale thee unto hell in thy sinnes. Whose end is de­struction. Whose? Even those that mind earth­ly things. Phil. 3.19. If thy mind and meditation run more on thy ground, cattell, goods, kitchin, house busines, earthly talk, discourses, thoughts, more then of heaven, thy end is destruction. If thy thoughts will n [...]t stay here, doe but runne, and thou maist read it; Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I am come t [...] fulfill them, Mat. 5.17. Some (saith Chrysostome) might think now Christ is come, it is no matter though wee bee not so strict, Christ is enough: Think not thus (saith Christ) but rather thinke and meditate that I am come to fulfill it my selfe, and to see it fulfilled in those I mean to save, so as to make it the rule of their lives. Themistocles [Page 19] said, he could not sleep in his bed for continuall thinking and meditating on Miltiades his Tri­umphs: And how canst thou sleep in thy bed, if thou wouldest but meditate on these places of Scripture? Retire thy self apart, there is no ca­sting up of a mans account in a crowd: Let mee alone, I am busie; so we use to say, when wee would be private.

Means 1 Thou must do with thy soul as Ehud did to Eg­lon, who said, I have a secret errant to thee, O King, and so all went out, and he said I have a message from God to thee, & so stabd him at his heart, Judg. 3.19. So (for Ehud was a type of Christ, saith La­vator) I have a secret errant to thee, O my soul: and so let all go forth: I have a message from God to thee, a message of wrath for thy Pride, a mes­sage of wrath for thy vain hopes: Thus, saith the Lord; Cursed art thou, O my soul; stab it to the heart with this spirituall Dagger, wound it with the blade and haft and all, till thou have let out the fat and the dirt, the filth and iniquity all out. The Prophet speaking of mens looking on Christ whom they have pierced, this medita­ting and laying to heart that they have crucified the Lord Jesus, saith that they shall mourne every one in private, the house of David apart, and their wivis apart; the house of N [...]than apart, and their wives apart; the house of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; every family apart, and their wives apart, Zach. 12.2.

Means 2 The second means, if thou wouldest meditate aright, observe the times of privacie.

[Page 20] 1 First, the morning, that is the best time for study: David chose the morning for medi­tation, Psal. 5.1.3. Let them heare this (saith Chrysostome) that rise betimes in the morning to serve their Hogges and their Dogges, their bel­lies and their backes▪ before they serve God in meditation or prayer, unlesse it be the mumbling and roting a few [Lord have mercy upon us] that pray not till after many other businesses, it may be not then neirher. David prayed and meditated in the morning. In the morning thou washest thy face and thy hands, but thy soul hath more need, which thou washest not: in the mor­ning thou puttest thy cloathes on thy body: but thou puttest not on afresh the new man upon thy soule; in the morning thou shakest off slee­pinesse from thine eyes, but thou shakest not off drowsinesse from thy soule. Thou lookest into the glasse in the morning, to see if thy face be as it should be; but thy soule is not composedly loo­king into the glasse of Gods word. In the mor­ning look up in prayer, look up in thanksgiving, look up in meditation.

2 Secondly, the night too; O Lord, I meditate on thee in the night watches Ps. 63. not as carnal ones do, when they cannot sleepe, then their mind runnes on their Cow and their Calfe, their mar­kets and vanities, this neighbour and that neigh­bour, like Petronius his dogge, that was hunt­ing while he lay asleepe in his kennell.

3 Thirdly, in the evening; I prevent the night watches, that I might meditate, Psal. 119.148. he [Page 21] did not as wicked men doe, sleepe like a horse in the stable on his litter, with his neck tied to the manger; they goe to bed with their hearts roped to the world, worldly thoughts, this thought and that thought, and God knowes what.

4 Fourthly, when the heart is touched at a Ser­mon, or Sacrament, or observing of any judge­ment or mercy, or act of Gods providence, it is best striking when the Iron is hot. David when his heart was touched at the reproaches of the wicked, then he meditated, Ps. 119.23. When the Instrument is in tune, then it is good playing up­on it; when a Churle is in a good mood, then it is fittest to deale with him. Oft will thy heart be out of tune, oft churlish and in an ill mood: if thou lettest the good opportunity go, thou knowst not when thou shalt have such another. When the fish is nibbling at the bait, then it is good twitching at the angle rod; when the heart is a nibbling at grace, then give a pluck at it by meditation. See Act. 17.11. now while the tide [...]asts, see thou maist get into the haven.

Means 3 Thirdly, rub up thy selfe and thy memory; call as much to mind as thou canst, what evill thou hast done ever since thou wast borne, what in the womb, what in thy cradle, childhood, youth, age; what a servant, what a Master; what as a servant, what as a sonne, what as a neighbour, what as an inferiour, what as a superiour; either in thought, or word, or deed; how often thou [...]ast omitted good duties, or done them by [...]alves; Item for this, and Item for that. They [Page 22] shall remember themselves, and turne unto the Lord, Psal. 22.27. First they shall remember themselves, and say, What have I done, O wretch! how carelesly have I lived! Secondly, so medi­tating, they shall turn unto the Lord. Many say, Oh! they cannot remember their sinnes. They lie in a thousand particulars; for they can re­member to commit them wel enough. See Lam. 3.19, 20.21. our Greek translation turnes it, I sp [...]ke to my selfe, and meditated: as if they should say, O what a rebell have I been! how unthank­full, how unprofitable under all the means of grace! I may thank my sins for all the plagues of the Almighty that are upon me: if he had damned me, I had been well served. What fol­lowes? The heart bowed, and was humbled, as it is in the text.

Means 4 The fourth means. Rouze up thy heart. As it is with the eye of the body, so it is with the eye of the soul: when a man would look wishly upon a thing, as if he would look through it, he sets his eyes on it, as Paul set his eyes on Ely­mas, Ah thou child of the Devil, thou, &c. Acts 13.9. Meditation is the setting of the eye of the soul upon a thing: set thine eye upon thy selfe and say, Ah thou child of the wicked, why hath Satan filled thy heart! O wretched heart! whence hadst thou thy self-love? hadst thou not it from the Devil? God might do well to send thee to the Devill, if thou lovest so to bee his Broker. Se [...] thine eyes stedfastly upon thine owne wayes and thou shalt see infinite hellish evils in thy sins.

[Page 23] Ʋse 3 The third use is for reprehension. What is more usuall then this that men make sleight account of their sins? Nay, when God tells them in their hearts. Thou shalt not do this, thou shalt not doe that, yet they meditate and think, Why may I not? Samuel bid Saul stay for directions from him, before he sacrificed unto God. It seemes that God spake to his heart, Stay till Sa­muel comes to direct thee: yet Saul forced him­selfe to disobey, and to doe sacrifice, 1. Sam. 13.12. he was bold, as Vatable turnes it; hee confir­med himselfe, as Pagnin translates it: hee thrust himselfe upon the doing of it; God forbad him, he would doe it: God urged him in his consci­ence not to doe it, yet he would doe it: God a­gain whispered to him to doe it not, yet hee for­ced himselfe to doe it; as if he should say, I hope I may doe it, I have stayed seven dayes wanting an houre, or a piece of an houre; and a little piece breakes no squares. No? God rejected Saul for that venture; God would have forced him by meditation, O no, doe it not, by no meanes: he made him think, Oh, it is against Gods commandements, I may not doe it. No, but never­thelesse he forced himselfe to doe it. Thus God deals with thousands and millions in the world: Be not a drunkard; God flings the meditation in­to the conscience yet a drunkard thou wilt be: be not a drunkard again; a drunkard notwithstan­ding thou wilt be: Be not again; they force them­selves, they will goe to the Ale-house. And so of all other sinnes. If men will cast oft this work [Page 24] of meditation darted into their soules, they cast off their owne mercy. God tells them, pray not, hear not, offer not, without directions from me; they dread not the commandement, they will: I trust prayers are good, I will say them. Thus they will not meditate, or if they doe, they break it off before it comes to any strength or perfecti­on: yea, Gods owne servants, that desire to look towards Sion, is not this your complaint oft? I cannot find sinne heavie: I confesse the word discovers it to me, but I cannot be troubled for it. Look as it is with men in the world, if five hundred pounds weight bee laid upon the ground, if a man never pluck at it, he shall ne­ver feele the weight of it. Your sinnes are not many hundreds, but many thousands, yea many ten thousands: selfe-love, security, hardnesse of heart, base fears, &c. it is impossible to rec­kon them. The least vain thought that ever you imagined, the least vain word that ever you ut­tered, were weight enough to presse your soules down to hell. Therefore what are so many sins, and so great, and so often committed? What are they? they are as heavie as rocks and moun­tains; yet ye feele them not so heavie. Why? Ye weigh them not; if ye did, yee should finde them heavier then the sand, as David did when his sinne was ever before him (Psal. 51.3.) that is his sinne was ever in his thoughts, and in his meditation, his sinne was ever like a huge Mil­stone before him, and he was ever tugging and pulling to remove it out of his way.

[Page 25] Object. I, but you will say, How shall I come to feele my burden?

Answ. I answer, three things are here to be dis­covered.

First, the ground upon which our meditation must be raised.

Secondly, the manner how to follow it home to the heart.

Thirdly, how to put life and power in it.

The ground I referre to these foure heads:1 First, meditate on the goodnesse, patience, and mercy of God, that hath been abused by any of your sins; the greater they have been to you, the greater is every sinne: this maketh them out of measure sinfull, because God is out of measure mercifull. There are many sinnes in one, when a man sinnes against many mercies. See Iudg. 2.2, 3. Why have ye done thus? I have done thus and thus mercifully unto you, why have yee done thus unthankefully to me? Why was my mercy abused? Why was my goodnesse sleigh­ted? Why was my patience despised? as if the Lord should say, I speak to your owne conscien­ces, think of it, meditate of it, why have yee done this? Doe ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? Is not he thy Fa­ther? Meditate of it first, and tell me then. For it is a question put to thy meditation to answer. Do yee thus requite the Lord ye foolish people? Wert thou ever in want, but God supplied thee? Wert thou ever in weaknesse, but God streng­thened thee? Wert thou ever in straits, but God [Page 26] delivered thee? When thou wert in sicknesse! he cured thee when thou wert in poverty, who re­lieved thee? when thou wert in misery, who succoured thee? Hath not God been a gracious God to thee? Every soule can tell, never poor sinner hath had a more gracious God, then I poore sinner have found to my soule. All my bones can say, Lord, who hath been like unto thee? This heart hath been heavie, and thou hast cheered it: this soul hath been distressed, & thou hast eased it: many troubles have befallen me, and thou hast given me a gracious issue. This poore man (saith David, pointing to himselfe) this poore man cried, and the Lord heard him, Psa. 34.6. And shall I thus reward the Lord? shall I sinne against this goodnesse? Then what shall I say? Heare. O heavens, and hearken, O earth; Sunne, stand thou still, and thou Moon bee ama­zed at this, and be avenged on such a heart as this. The Oxe knowes his Owner, and the Asse his Ma­sters Crib; but here is a heart that will not re­member to know the Lord▪ Heare, O heavens, this villany crieth so loud, that your eares may heare it. Heare all yee Angels, and be astonished, here is villany to make your eares glow: yea, hear Hell, hear Devi [...]s, if ever there were worse committed by you. When men are but ingenu­ous, if they have received any kindnesse from a friend, they were never in want but hee relieved them: never harbourlesse, but he housed them; never to seek, but he found them: Let a man deale thus kindly with a man, if this man should [Page 27] deny him any ordinary favour, he will be asha­med of himselfe, ashamed to come into his pre­sence. What will he think, his house was mine, his cubboard was mine, and his purse was mine, and his friends were mine, and that I should deale thus unkindly with him, even nature re­bukes me. This serious meditation will help to breake thy heart.

2 The second ground of meditation is to medi­tate on the justice of God: God is a just God as well as mercifull. Speak all yee Devils in hell, Doe yee not feele that he is a just God? Speake Sodome, Speake Gomorrah, your fire and brim­stone can testifie that he is a just God: Speak A­dah, Zillah, and all yee that were drowned in the old world, your deluge can testifie he is a just God, His judgements are in all the world. 1 Chron. 16.14. What is become of drunken Nabal, and swearing Saul, and covetous Ahab, and proud Iesabel, and mocking Iehu, and envious Shimei? What is become of all blind Jebusites, and pra­ting cavilling Dio [...]repheses? Justice hath taken hold of them. What is poverty? What is na­kednesse? What is famine, sicknesse, the gout the stone, Feaver, plague? These are the little arrowes of Gods justice. What is shame, disgrace, crosses, afflictions, unseasonable raines, dangerous weather, warres, rumours of warres? What are all the evils under the Sunne? They are the little finger of Gods justice. Thou spiest them here and there, in every Town, and in every pa­rish, in every Countrey: doe they not all witnesse [Page 28] that he is a just God? Read Psalm 7.11, 12, 13. God hath bent his bow already (saith Da­vid) the arrow is ready to slie out of the string: It will not be long before it hit thee, if thou medi­tate not upon amendment: God is angry with the wicked every day, as an angry man useth to say, I will be revenged on thee. Wilt thou not give o­ver thy sins? I will be revenged on thee. Read Psal 11.5, 6, 7. Meditate on this; he will nei­ther spare King nor subject, nor rich nor poore, nor noble nor base, nor Judges and Justices; yet judges and Justices may spare, but God will not spare: they may bee bribed to pardon, but God will not be fee'd to spare them that goe on in their wickednesse; and doe I think to escape? Nay, my soule, thou canst never escape, except thou obeyest.

3 The third ground is, Meditate on the wrath of God; Oh! what wrath is it? Can I stand a­gainst it? It burnes like an Oven, and all the proud, and all that doe wickedly, shall be as stubble, and the day of wrath shall burne them up. Behold this, saith the Text. Malac. 4.1. Behold it, and meditate on it. Can I goe naked in a hot fiery oven? Can I lift up my hands against it? My hands will be scorched. Can I kick against it? My legs will be baked. Can I blow upon it with my mouth? my mouth is fired. Did I ever see lime burned? were I in the limes roome, could I en­dure that boyling? and yet if I live in my sinnes, I shall be as the burning of lime, Isay 33.12. Let thy heart meditate terror: Who among us shall be [Page 29] able to dwell (that is the meaning of it, as Mon­tanus sheweth) who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? who among us shall burne with ever­lasting burnings? vers. 14. Gods mercie shall say, Take him wrath: I would have converted him, but he would not. Gods goodnesse shall say, Take him wrath: I would have been kinde unto him, but he hath abused me. Gods patience shall say, Take him wrath: I have suffered him a great while, that he might have time of repen­tance, but he repented not in that time. God smote Egypt in their first-borne. Why? For his mercy endureth for ever. God overthrew Pharaoh and his hoast: Why? For his mercy endureth for ever. Psal. 136.15. He smote great Kings, Sihon a King, and Og a King: for his mercy endureth for ever. So will God damne thee that art a drunkard: Why? for his mercie endureth for ever. God will con­found thee that art a worldling: Why? for his mercy endureth for ever. God will be revenged on thee that art a Luke-warmling: Why? for his mercy endureth for ever. This may well make thee tear the haire of thy head, rather then let thee go on in thy sinnes. See Jerem. 7.29. Me­ditate on this.

4 The fourth ground: meditate on the constan­cie of God. As the Lord was an enemy to wic­ked men, so he continues the same God still, a constant enemy to them still. As the Lord would not endure sinne heretofore, so hee is con­stant, hee still will not endure it. Did the Lord once say, Weep and howle yee drunkards? Joel 1.5. [Page 30] he is constant, so he saith still. Did the Lord say, he would burn up Sabbath-breakers? Jer. 17.27, he is constant; so he saith still. Who ever hard­ned his heart against the Lord, and prospered? Job 9.14. as if he should say, I put it to thee to me­ditate of it: canst thou shew me a president? did ever any man harden his heart against Gods Word, in his sin, that prospered? Did Senache­rib prosper in his will-worship? Did Judas pro­sper in his coveteousnesse? Did Jeconiah prosper in his stubbornnesse? Where is the Scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers? (saith the prophet) Your fathers where are they, saith Zachary? Did not my words take hold of them? and are they not all now in hell, that have ever lived and died in their sin, from the beginning of the world? Thou canst not shew me one drunkard, or one mocker, or one profane person, or one forma [...]l professor, from the day that man was created upon the earth, that is not now in hell, if he be dead. Meditate on this, how canst thou expect to be the one onely in all the world that shall escape, if thou livest and diest in thy sins? If hell were opened, and the bottomlesse pit were lookt into, thou shouldest see every soul that ever lived, and died in their sins, even every soul; there is not one soul missing. Meditate on this; when I die, do I think I shall not be there? nay I shall be there too, unlesse aforehand I enter into the strait gate, and walk in the narrow way of newnesse of life.

The Second SERMON OF The use and benefit of Di­vine Meditation.

HAGGAI. 1.5.

Now therfore thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Consider your wayes.

NOw followes the manner, how to follow Meditation home to the heart. Here are foure things to be practised.

1 First, weigh and ponder all these things in thy heart. It's said of Mary, shee pondered, Luke 2, 19. and kept [Page 32] all these sayings in her heart: verse 51. The words signifie two things: First, shee compa­red these things together. Secondly, she cast them all in the scales together. Dost thou know God is mercifull? ponder it with his justice. Dost thou know that Jesus Christ died for sin­ners? ponder it with the true drift of it, how that it is not to let men go on in their sins, but to save them from their sins. Dost thou obey God in this or that Commandement? O ponder thy life with the rest, Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy wayes be established. Prov. 4.26. A man that eates his meat well, forty morsels well, yet one crum going awry throttles him. Thou walkest in these and these Commande­ments; yea, but there be other Commandments besides these: dost thou walk in them too? thou must, if thou meanest to have thy wayes to be established. The Jewes had their continers, ta­lents, mind's sicles, which were greater weights; so they had also their gerahs, and agorahs, smaller measures, and smallest of all: so have thou greater and lesse weights; great ones to ponder the great Commandments, and lesse to weigh even the least of Gods Commandments: and see thou make true Evangelicall weight, or else all will not be well. Suppose a man were to pay a 100 pound of good and lawfull money, and in weight, upon forfeiture of all that he hath, if he weigh it not; but the Creditor doth, and finds it light; he is undone. If thou ponderest not thy wayes, God will ponder them: Prov. 5.21. [Page 33] the word signifies, he weighs, and ponders them in a ballance, or scales; he puts the Word of his Gospel in the one, and thy goings and obedience in the other. Thou art weighed, and art found light, thy kingdom is departed from thee: saith God to Belshazzar, Dan. 5.27. So if thou be light, thou shalt be weighed, and so found, thou shalt lose the kingdom of heaven for ever.

Secondly, strip sin, and look upon it stark naked: sin covers and disguiseth it self, with pleasure, profit, ease, and many a whorish gar­ment, and so inticeth the heart. Even a toad, if she were covered over with gold, those that saw onely the gold, would pocket it up; if it were naked, they would sling it in the kennell. Why do men love covetousnesse? Why, its hood­ed with profit. Why carding, dicing, hunting, hawking, tabring, piping, and more then the word alloweth? Why? they are cloathed with pleasure, and delight. Its the duty of Ministers to unmask and uncase sin, and pluck off the vail that covers it from appearing unto men. The not doing of this is the cause, that men do not meditate on the vilenesse of their sins, never are humbled, never escape Gods wrath; even be­cause they do not discover mens iniquities. Lam. 2.14. Alas, the profit of thy sins shall cease, the pleasure cease, the ease cease, and all these good­ly suits shall vanish away, when the soul comes to die, or to stand before the judgement seat of Christ: sin will remain, but thy silver, and thy gold, where will that be then? thy laughter, and [Page 34] thy merriment, what will become of that then? thy delight will be gone. Meditate therefore with thy selfe, my sin is now gainfull, and easie, and pleasant; but what will my sin become, when I come to lie on my death-bed? what good will it doe me, when I have most need of succour? I will never acknowledge him my freind that will turn against me, when I have most need of him. Alas, I must die, I must come to judgement, I must goe either to heaven, or to hell: the profit that I get now by my sins, will it bestead me then? the pleasure, the ease that I now find in sin, will it help me there? Alas no, it will then be my break-neck, it will be a Devill unto me: the more I have been delighted with it, the more it will gall me: the more I have gotten by it, the more it will damne me: the sin which I most of all loved, will most of all torment me. Ecclesiast. 11.9. look thus upon sin.

The third means: dive into thine owne soul and heart? there is a tough brawn over thy heart that it feels not its sins. Now Meditation must look through, and come to the heart at the quick and cause the truth to dive into the deep places of the soule. When the timber is hard, the workman cannot thrust in the nail with the weight of his hand: no, he must hammer it in. Meditation is the hammering of the heart. It's a pertinent phrase, Jer. 23.24. Is not my word like a fire, (saith the Lord) and like a hammer that breaketh the rocks in peices? There be two simili­tudes, first, of a hammer: the Word of God is [Page 35] the hammer; meditation is the hand that taketh this hammer, and knocks the nail into the rocky heart, and makes it enter: Wilt thou not feele? Ile make thee feele: (saith meditation) wilt thou not take notice of thy wretched estate? Medi­tation comes with blow after blow, and makes it take notice. Seeondly, of fire; the word is like fire; Meditation kindles it about the heart. A man benummed with cold is senselesse; the wa­ter frozen with cold, though the least peble would have sunk in it before, now a great mil­stone is able to lie upon it, and not sink; the wa­ter is able to beare it: so is the heart, be it sins ne­ver so heavie, as the hill of Basan, yet it bears it and feels no weight: but Meditation thawes the heart, and then every sinne pincheth and op­presseth. Is not my word like fire? as if he should say, think of it, and muse of it, and meditate of it, and thou shall feele it as a fire. Meditation is the often smiting of the heart with this hammer: so did Ephraim, smite upon his thigh: Jer. 31.19. like a man in a miserable agony, he thumps his own breast, and in a vexation strikes his hand on his thigh. Oh miserable wretch that I am! So did Ephraim, Oh what an unruly Ox am I! how unwilling am I to bear the yoke of the Lord? Oh and oh the hardnesse of my heart! oh that I could tell how to beat thee black and blue! Many men smite their hearts, but they smite them not often enough. When El [...]sha bad Joash smite upon the ground, he smote thrice and sta [...]ed. The man of God said to him in anger, Thou [Page 36] shouldest have smitten five or six times, for then thou hadst smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed them, where as now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice. 2. Kin. 13.19. So men smite their hearts twice or thrice or so, but they will not smite their sins dead: it may be they break the head of their sins, but they recover again, and grow strong upon them, as at first. Thou must smite five or six times, yea fifty times five times, till thou hast quite broken the impostume of thy heart. Meditate on the mer­cies of God, and with them smite it often and often: Meditate on the justice of God, and with it smite it again, and again: Meditate on the wrath of God, which is as a consuming fire, and with it smite it soundly. Meditate on the truth of the Lord, this threatning and that threatning; this commandement, and that com­mandement; this promise and that promise; and with all these smite it to powder.

The forth manner; Anticipate and prevent thine owne heart: meditate what thy heart will one day wish, if it be not humbled, and tell thy soule as much; thou wilt one day wish, Oh that I had been humbled under the reproofes of the Lord! Oh that I had been wise to have under­stood mine owne mercie! Cursed bee the day that ever I neglected the means of grace; so the Lord brings in a foolish obstinate sinner, cursing and banning his owne soule, sobbing and how­ling at the last, Oh how have I hated instruction, and my heart despised rep [...]oofe! and have not ob­served the voyce of my Teachers, nor inclined mine [Page 73] care to them that instructed mee? Pro. 5.12, 13. I had Ministers to preach to me, but I would not come at them [...]or if I did, I cared not for their doctrine: I had friends that advised me wel, but woe is me damned wretch! I heeded them not. Thus thou wilt cast the foole into thine owne teeth and fling a thousand curses into thine own face, because of thy madnesse. I might have lear­ned. but I would not; I might have been hum­bled, but I would not: I was almost in all evill in the midst of the assembly of the congregation, vers. 14. I lived where the Saints of God were in whole assemblies, but I mockt them, I hated them, I misliked them for being too precise. I was not ashamed of my security, no not in thy sight. Thus thou wilt cry out one day, if now thou wilt not yeeld unto meditation, which must make this as present with thee. Know thou, O my soul, the time of thy visitation is at hand, thou wilt curse thy selfe hereafter, if thou doest not now be mo­ved by Gods mercies, thou shalt never see mer­cie more: Now be awaked by Gods judgements, or else thou shalt feel them for evermore, now or for ever thou shalt roare for them. Then thou shalt curse thy gains and thy profits that be­witched thee, thou shalt curse thy pleasures and delights that besotted thee, curse thine own heart, and thine own soul, and thine own con­science that have damned thee. Meditation may tell thee, thus it will be with thee, unlesse thou obeyest now. Hear ye me now, oh ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth, ver. 7. hear [Page 38] the word now, and obey it, let it not depart out of thy meditation. Now be humbled with grace, o [...] then thou shalt be humbled with horrour: then thou shalt wish, Oh that I had been ruled! When thou art in hell, then thou shalt meditate, [...] it was good counsell that such and such a [...]ster gave me; good counsell that such a [...] and such a brother gave me; but wretch [...] I was, I had not grace to follow it! I had more mind of my pleasures, more mind of my vanities then of grace. Oh if it were to do again, I would not do so for a thousand worlds: but alas, it is now too late. Therefore let Medita­tion presse this upon thee before-hand.

3 Now follows the third thing, how to put life to Meditation. Foure duties are to be done to this purpose

1 1. Let Meditation haunt thy heart, let medi­tation dogge thee with the hellish looks of thy sins, and follow it with the dreadfull vengeance of God, haunt it with promises, haunt it with threatnings, haunt it with mercies, and haunt it with judgements, and haunt it with Com­mandments. The heart is like the Beaver, when it perceiveth it cannot possibly escape from the Huntsman, it cuts the member for which it is hunted, and slings it down, and so escapes (saith Aesops:) So pursue thy heart with its sins, with the hue and cry of Gods mercies; pursue it with the hubbub of Gods judgements; let meditation haunt it, and let thy soul see it shall never be rid of the haunt; at last it will be content to part [Page 39] with its lusts. Let meditation say, Wilt thou forsake thine own mercies? If thou livest thus and thus, if thou prayest thus and thus, dead-heartedly, thou kickest against thine own mer­cie, wilt thou rush upon the pricks? This mercie thou maist have, if thou wouldst amend; that ven­geance thou shalt have, if thou do not amend: Either cut off thy sins, or else God will cut off thy soul. Return, O Shulamite, return, return, its the voice of Christ to thee: Let meditation say, Return, O my soul, return, return, and thou mayst be saved; return, or else thou shalt be con­demned. Now what was the effect of this haunt­ing meditation? Or ere I was aware, my soul made me like the Chariots of Aminadab, vers. 12. That is, my soul musing and meditating on these and these commandments, it so humbled my soul, that it made me yeeld; yea, and made me run as fast as the Chariots of Aminadab, freely and willingly to Christ.

Deal with thy heart as Junius his father dealt with him: he seeing his son was Atheisticall, he laid a Bible in every room, that his son could look in no room, but behold a Bible haunted him, upbraiding him, Wilt thou not read me, A­theist? Wilt thou not read me? And so at last he read it, and was converted from his Atheisme: So let meditation haunt thy heart, hold forth the commandments, promises, threatnings of the Lord, that thy heart may see them; let medita­tion haunt thee in thy luke-warmnesse: prayest thou thus luke-warm? This prayer will break [Page 40] thy neck one day. Repentest thou? This luke-warm repentance will cause God to spue thee out of his mouth. Hearest thou, speakest thou, thinkest thou? These luke-warm duties will confound thee ere long, if thou lookest not to it.

Let Meditation haunt thee, as they haunted Nehemiah with warnings, ten times (saith the Text) they sent to Nehemiah, they will be upon thee, Nehem. 4.12. Beware of the danger, the enemy will be upon thee: ten times they warn­ed him, never giving over till Nehemiah look­ed about him, vers. 13. So do thou haunt thine own heart: they will be upon thee, this curse, this wrath, that hardnesse of heart, this security will be upon thee. Ten times, yea, a thousand times ten times, never give over thine own soul, untill thou hast made it to submit. Indeed there be some, let God send Meditations to haunt them, and follow them, saying, Repent, leave this or that sin, why wilt thou be damn'd with this sin? Oh forsake it, presently they will gagge the mouth of Meditation, and of conscience, and strike them stark dead: as Abner when Azahel would haunt him, and follow him, and turn nei­ther to the right hand, nor to the left, but fol­low him at the heels. Turn aside (saith Abner) but he would not turn aside from following him. Turn aside from me (sayes Abner again) or I will kill thee, but he would not turn aside, he would follow him close: Then he up with his Spear and slew him, 2 Sam. 2.19, 20, 21, 22, 23 [Page 41] So many deal with the meditation of consci­ence, when conscience would dogge them, and weary them out of their sins, they will not: when conscience would haunt them, they will not be haunted therewith; when conscience would follow them up with their desperate wil­fulnesse, they gall and wound, and murder con­science to be quiet. But David haunted his heart, and would have it haunted.

2 The second duty: Let Meditation trace thy heart, as it should haunt thee, so also let it trace thee in the samesteps. So would the Church, Let us search and trie our wayes, and turn again unto the Lord: Lam. 3.40. The word (in the origi­nall, sayes Buxtorf) signifies, track or steps, step by step: this step was in the ditch, that in the mire, that step awry: track them all, that we may ungo them all again, and turn unto the Lord. Ne­ver pray but let Meditation track thy prayer: this passage was right, that passage was amisse. Never keep a Sabbath but let Meditation track thy keeping of it; this duty was sincere, that was rotten: Never do any thing but let Meditation track it. This thought, this word, this action was warrantable; that was out of the way: track thy heart, as the Lord tracted Eliah, he tract him in the wildernesse, he tracted him under the juni­per tree, he tract him in the cave; What dost thou here Eliah? go forth: 1 King. 19. What dost thou here Eliah, go, return. He tract him in the mount, Go, return, what dost thou here Eliah? this is not a place for thee. So let Meditation wait thee: what [Page 42] dost thou here, O sinner? what dost thou here O drunkard? in thy covetousnesse, or in thy pro­phanenesse, what dost thou here? this is not a place for thee, unlesse thou mean to perish. It may be thou art now scard out of these sins, and art run into civill honesty; let Meditation still track thee. What dost thou do here, O sinner? Civi­litie is not a case fit for thee, unlesse thou wert better, thou shalt be torn in peeces. It may be thou art driven out of thy civility, and art gone further, to the profession of Religion, though it be without the power of it: let meditation still wait thee. What dost thou here, O sinner? this sorry kind of profession is not a race fit for thee: unlesse thou be godlier then so, thou shalt be devoured with everlasting fire.

Meditation is like the coursing of a hare in the snow; the hare fearing to be taken by the dogs, here she stops, there she leaps, here she interleaps, there she goes backward, and for­ward upward and downward, and all to deceive the dogs, that they may not find her; but they go smelling and maundring, winding and turning, and track her step by step, till they find her: so me­ditation in the coursing of the soul, the heart hath a thousand fetches, a thousand meanders and la­byrinths, a thousand crosse windings, and com­passings, and deceits, and all to puzle Meditati­on. But Meditation must track the heart, as God dealt with Job, he counted his steps, step by step: Job 14.16. Meditation is the souls blood-hound, it will never leave howling, the wrath of God, [Page 43] till it hath taken the hearts sin for a prey; Me­ditation haunts it out of one sin, and it runs into another; Meditation haunts it out of that, and it runs into a third: Meditation is a good purse­vant, it prosecutes the sinner, and attaches him.

Now because the heart is most cunning, and hardest to be trackt by its sent, when the heart hath taken up abundance of good duties, and at­tained unto sundry graces, these good duties and common graces drown the sent of the hearts wickednesse. As Huntsmen observe, that the hounds cannot well hunt in the Spring, as Theo­phrastus, and Pollux, and others observe: the sweet odors of the flowers and herbs (sayes Op­pian) hinder the hounds from smelling the hare: so it is with Meditation; it is hard for it to track the heart in the green Spring time of civill ho­nestie and formalitie. And therefore let Medi­tation make diligent search, saith he.Psal. 77.16.

The third duty: hale thy heart before God, and let Meditation bring it before his throne, and there powre out thy complaint against it be­fore God, there out with all thy villany, and ar­ticle against thy self, and bring as many com­plaints against thy self before heaven, as there be drops in a bucket full of water. So do the godly: I powred out all my complaints before him, (Psal. 102. in the preface) I powred out my complaints, as a man powreth out water out of a vessell; generally men are willing to call for mercie, but they are not so willing to bring com­plaints unto God against themselves: ye shall [Page 44] have them whisper after the Minister, as he is begging for pardon and mercie, but they will not do so, whiles he is complaining of their sins; the hellish and devillish abominations of their heart. These are men of corrupt minds, repro­bate concerning the faith, and shall never have mercie, till they be as forward to complain of their sins, as to be plaintives for mercie.

When a man in Meditation meets with a hard matter, that he cannot sufficiently dive into, he breaks it to another: so do thou to God; break all thy heart to God, tell him of thy hardnesse of heart, of the pride of thy heart, of the de­sperate prophanenesse of thy heart: but take these rules with thee.

First, thy complaint must be full of sorrow: Psal. 55.

2 Secondly, it must be a full complaint, of all thy sins, and of all thy lusts; Lam. 2.18, 19. Poure ou [...] thy heart like water before the face of the Lord. Water runs all out of a vessell when you turn the mouth downward; never a spoonfull will stay behind. The wicked will not complain of their sins fully: they make hypocriticall professi­ons. If it be a sin, I am sorry for it; (saies one) if it be naught, I cry God mercie; (saith another) when their own consciences tell them it is a sin, yet they will not complain of it absolutely.

3 Thirdly, thy complaint must be with aggra­vation: thou must aggravate thy sins by all the circumstances, that may shew it to be odious, as Peter did: when he thought thereon, he wept [Page 45] Mark 14.72. the originall hath it, he cast all these things one upon another. Wretch that I was, Christ was my master, and yet I denyed him; such a good master, that he called me before any of my fel­low Apostles, and yet I denyed him; I was ready to sink once, he denyed not me: I was to be damn­ed once, he denyed not my soul, and yet I deny­ed him; he told me of this sin beforehand, that I might take heed of it, and yet I denyed him. I said I will not commit it, nor forsake him, and yet I denyed him: yea, this very night, no longer ago, did I say and say again, I would not deny him, and yet I denyed him, yea, I said, though all others denyed him, yet would not I; and yet worse then all others, I denyed him with a wit­nesse, before a maid, before a damosel; nay, more filthy beast that I am, I said I did not know the man; nay more, I sware I did not know him; nay, more then all this, I did even curse my self with an oath, that I did not know him: nay more, all this evill did I, not above five or six strides from my Lord and Saviour: nay more, even then, when if ever I should have stood for him, I should have done it then, when all the world did forsake him. Oh wretch that I was, I denyed him! he cast up all these circumstances together, and meditating on them, he went out, and wept bitterly.

Fourthly, thy complaint must be a self-con­demning complaint: thou must condemn thy self, and lay thy self at hell gates, and set the naked point of Gods vengeance at thy throat. [Page 46] Thus and thus have I lived, damned, cast-away, as I have deserved to be! So did Ezra in the behalfe of the Jewes, Ezra 9.

For, 1 He fell on his face; he did not bow down on his knees; but like a man astonished, he fell on his knees, ready to feele on the ground in amazement.

2. He spread out his hands unto the Lord, verse 5. as if he should say, here is my heart-bloud. Lord here is my breast, Lord; we deserve thou shouldst stab us with thy wrath.

3. He blushes to look heaven in the face, verse 6. so vexed to think on the sinnes of his people, that he is even confounded to beg mercy.

4. He is (as it were) dumb and speechlesse before God: And now our God, what shall we say after all this? for we have forsaken thy commande­ments, verse 10. Shall I excuse the matter? alas! it is inexcusable. What shall we say after all this? Shall we call for thy patience? We had it, and yet were little the better. Shall we call for mer­cie? Why we had it, and yet our stubborne hearts would not come downe. I know not what to say for our selves: for we have sinned against thee.

5. He declares Gods truth, that he had war­ned them by his Prophet [...], (vers. 11.12.) but no war­ning can better us.

6. He shewes how God had punished them, yet they would not be humbled: for all that God had brought upon them lesse evils then they deser­ved, and wrought deliverances for them, which [Page 47] they could not have expected; What shall we say, should we for all this break thy Commandements? verse 13, 14. What can we expect but hell and confusion?

7. He is sensible of Gods judgements and righ­teousnesse: O Lord, thou art righteous: as if hee should say, How canst thou spare us for this sinne? How can it stand with thy righteousnesse? How is it that such hell-hounds as we are, should live above ground, when thou art so righteous a God? It is a wonder that the earth opens not her mouth for to swallow us up quick: for, O Lord, thou art righteous.

8. He laies downe his soule, and all the peo­ples soules at Gods feet; as if he should say, here we be, thou maist damne us if thou wilt; Behold, we are all here before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee, because of this, ver. 15. Be­hold here we are: rebels we are: here are our heads and our throats before thee, if now thou shouldst take us from our knees unto hel, & from our prayers unto damnation, we cannot aske thee why thou doest so: Oh it's mercie, it's mer­cie indeed, that we have been spared. Thus me­ditation must bring our hearts before God, and there complaine against them before hea­ven.

Meditation should deale with the heart, as the Father did with his possessed child, who carried him to Christ; saying, Master, my child is possessed with a Devil, even a dumb spirit, and I spake to thy Disciples that th [...]y should cast him out, but they could [Page 48] not Mark 9.18. Bring him to me (saith Christ) vers. 19. How long is this agoe since this came to him? Of a child (saith the Father) and often it hath cast him into the fire, and often into the water to destroy him; but if thou canst doe any thing (as cer­tainly thou canst doe all things) have compassion on us, and help us. verse 22. And then Christ helpt him. So let meditation drive thy heart to God, saying, Lord here is my heart (I beleeve) possest with a Devill; for it is a most abominable sin­ful heart: I brought my heart to thy Ministers to cure it, to Sermons to Prayer, to all other good duties, but they could not help me: my heart is a Devillish heart, still my heart is wicked, and rebellious still, the Devill, oh! the Devill is in it still! Oh, how he tempts me! he holds me, hee casts me into the fire of this lust, and into the water of ever-flowing iniquity. Have thou compassion, come and help me; for my heart is miserably vexed with Satan; when I pray, the Devill stuffes me with dead thoughts, and drou­sie desires▪ the Devill fills me with wandring I­maginations, and I know not what; when I hear the Word the Devil makes me to rise up against it, or forget it, or not obey it; when the Sabbath is come, the Devill sets me on thinking my own thoughts, and speaking mine own words; when a Sacrament is come, the Devill hinders me in selfe-examination, the Devill disappoints me of my preparation: Oh have thou compassion on me.

The fourth duty; let meditation, when it hath [Page 49] held thy heart before God, there cast thee downe before him: when Meditation hath searched out thy case, and made it appeare how wofull it is, then let it lay thee along before God, with What shall I do to be saved? So it did with them in Acts 2.27. as if they should say (saith Chryso­stome) we have not one jot of hope to finde mercy, so long as we live as we do. What shall we do? Say what thou wilt, our ears are ready to hear it; command what thou wilt, our souls, what ever it be, are willing to do it: bid us suffer what ever thou pleasest, tell us what it is, and we will endure it. They did not say, (notes Chrysostome) How shall we be saved, as wicked men do: they desire to be saved, but their maine care is not to see what they must do, they are told what they must do, and yet refuse to do it; but thy chiefe study must be, to cast thy selfe down before God, with the good Jaylor, Sirs, what shall I doe to be saved? Acts 16.30. First, what must I do? and then to be saved. First, thy care must be what to do to get out of thy sins, how to be rid of thy lusts, and then to be saved; as if he should say, I see I am at a damned passe, and therefore I was a making away my selfe, the fire of hell did slay my soule: but now is there hope of salvation? is there indeed? Oh tell me, I am willing to do any thing, what must I do? Keep nothing back of all the will the Lord; be it punishments to suffer, tell me of it, I am ready to beare it; be it precepts for to do, though never so irksome, O let me know [Page 50] it, and I will not refuse it. What must I doe to be saved? When the heart is thus humbled upon sound meditation, it's willing to do or suffer any thing. Jonah is willing to be cast into the sea, be­ing humbled. Jonah 1.2. Here I am, Lord, deal with me as thou wilt.

Motive 1 The first Motive. Is it a folly not to meditate? Should a man walk on in a course, and not medi­tate whether it will tend? When he falls into mischeife, what will he say? I never thought of this before, I never considered that this would be the end. Now it is the part of a fool to say, I never thought, as the Latin proverb hath it; when the Steed is sto [...]len, if he should then shut the Stable doore, what wouldest thou say? Hee should have thought of that before. The rich man in the Gospell had these meditations in his heart; he thought within himselfe, What shall I do, because I have no roome where to bestow, my fruits? He said in his heart, This will I do, I will pull down my barnes and build greater; and will say to my soule, Soule, soule, thou hast much goods laid up for many yeares, eate, drinke, and be merry; Luke 12.17, 18, 19, 20. Thou fool (said God) this night shall thy soule bee required of thee; then, whose shall these things bee that thou hast provided? God said thus unto him; not as if God spake thus familiarly unto him (saith Theo­phylact) but it is a parable, and God sayes so in his word, Thou soule, this night shall they requir [...] thy soule of thee. In this night of thy blindnesse, in this night of thy security, shall they require it: [Page 51] hee doth not say, I will require thy soule of thee, but they: he doth not say who, but they, the Devils in hell, God knowes who shal [...] come, thou shalt die, and they shall fetch away [...]hy soul to hell: they shall require it. A godly mans soule is not required, but [...]ather he requires God to take away his soule: he is willing to die, that he may be with Christ: but a wicked mans soule is required of him: hee would willingly not [...]ie, but that his soul is required of him and he must die. Doubtlesse the rich foo [...]e now thought with himselfe, I never thought that I should have died so soone, and therefore now he [...]alls (it may be) to his Lord, Lord, and cries God mercie. But what will they say to him? Thou shouldst have thought of this before.

The wise man shall inherit [...]lory, but shame shall be the promotion of so [...]es, [...]rov. 3.3. [...]he wi [...]e and prudent, those that truely meditate of things be­fore hand, shall have glory; but fools that hope to be promoted to glory and salvation, shame and confusion of face shall be all their promoti­on▪ and when they come thereto, besides their expectation; what will they say? We never thought it would be thus with us before; but fooles as we were, we thought to be promoted to heaven: like Haman, when King A [...]ashuerus said unto him, What shall be done to the man whom the King will honour? O thus and thus (saith Haman) for he thought, I am the man whom the King intendeth to honour, Esther 6. [...]. but when Haman was presently after to be han­ged [Page 52] on a gallowes, he might rightly say, I ne­ver thought of this before. So what shall be done to the man whom the Lord will honour? Thus and thus sayest thou, he shall have mercies, bles­sings, heaven: I, for thou thinkest I am the man that God intendeth thus to honour; but when thou art come to hell, what wilt thou say then? I never thought of this before, that so it would be.

Mot. 2 The second Motive is, Thou wouldest be loth to have the brand of a Reprobate: Not to medi­tate, is that brand; The wicked through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God; neither is God in all his thoughts, Psal. 10.4. He scornes to be so poring upon Bibles, to be so wracking his mind with his sins; He hath said in his heart, God will not require it, vers. 13. God requires no such scrupulosity nor strictnesse.

Mot. 3 The third Motive is, Thou wouldst be loth to roh God of his honour, and the maine part of his service, whis is Meditation. Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, and with all thy soule, Matth. 22.38. How can this bee true of them (saith Chrysostom) who become vain in their imaginations? Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soule and mind: And so do I (saist thou:) So dost thou? What, and not love God with all that is in thy heart? Thy thoughts are in thy heart, thy meditations are in thy mind; If thy thoughts then, and meditations be not of God, thou dost not love God with all thy heart. David did not only pray, that the words [Page 53] of his mouth, but also that the thoughts of his heart should be ever acceptable to the Lord, Psal. 19.14. not only that he might be full of heavenly com­munication in his mouth, but also of holy medi­tation in his heart. Behold (saith he) thou requirest truth in the inward parts, Psal. 51.6. And medi­tation is one of the duties of truth in the inward parts.

Mot. 4 The fourth Motive: Thou wouldst be loth that all the worship thou givest to God, should be abomina­ble: so it will be without meditation; meditation before it, meditation after it.

First, Thou must meditate before thou goest about a duty of Gods worship: consider before thou hear the word of God, meditate what thou art going about, Hearken O daughter, and consider, in­cline thine eare, Psal. 45.10. First, consider and meditate, and then incline thine eare. This is part of those words often in Scripture, Be ready, be ready: Be ready and come up saith God, Exod. 34.2.) Be ready against the third day, Exod. 19. Gather your selves together, Zeph. 2.1. that is, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel, Amos 4.12.

Secondly, meditate after the duty. When men part with men, they use to give one another a farewell, and not bluntly deliver their mind one to another, and so turn their backs one upon ano­ther. Lysias could not write a letter to Felix, and break up abruptly, but he gave him a farewell, Acts 23.30. Neither may a man when a duty is done, go away bluntly from God, but give him a farewell by holy meditation. It's an unseemly [Page 54] kicking of a duty, as most men do when they are come to the end of their prayers, to whom with the Father and holy Spirit, be ascribed all praise and glo­ry, Amen; Come, is dinner ready? or, what news do you hear? This is unmannerlinesse towards the ordinances of God. A man that hath been at a [...]oo [...] dinner will sit a while after it, or walke a while, he will not presently run to his worke, that the meat may digest the better: So when thou hast been at Gods dainties, sit after it a while, pawsing and meditating thereof, as often as thou well mayest, let it have its working a while.

What is the reason thou hast so many by-thoughts in prayer? Because thou dost not me­ditate before-hand and after. Hence it is that thine eyes are not directed to the duty, but like a blind Archer thou shootest but by aim; when the good Archer shoots, he must have the white in his eye still, which he must levell at. My voyce shalt thou hear betimes in the morning, in the mor­ning will I direct my prayer to thee, and will look up, [...]s. [...].3. How came that? you may look on his me­ditations, vers. 1. By meditation he was wont to direct and levell his prayer to God. Wicked men know that God is before them, as a blinde man may le [...]rne that the But is before him, but they see not God before them to direct their prayers unto him: they pray at rovers. Thou must use then to meditate of God, that thy pray­ers may bee directed: if thou prayest not thus, thy prayers are like them in the Prophet, who [Page 55] drew neer to God with their lippes, but their hearts were far from him, like an arrow beside the But, or far from the mark, either wide or short. They have not cried unto me with their hearts, when they howled upon their beds, Hosea 7.14. They prayed, but they prayed not to me; (saith the Lord) as the White may say of a bungling Archer, hee shoots, but not at me: when he shooted, he shot another way. God counts all such prayers no better then howling of Dragons and wild beasts; (so the word signifies saith Scindler) God would as lief, and rather too, that a Dog, or a Wolfe, or Dragon should howl in his hearing, then hear such a prayer as this is. The onely way therefore to performe duties of Gods worship purely, is cheifly meditation, meditation, meditation.

THE DANGER of deferring REPENTANCE, DISCOƲERED In a Sermon preached at Maidstone in Kent, Septem. 25. 1629.

By that Reverend and faithfull Mi­nister of the Word, WILLIAM FENNER, B.D. Sometime Fellow of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, and late Parson of Rochford in Essex.

London, Printed by T.R. and E.M. for J.S.

A SERMON OF Mr. WILLIAM FENNERS at Maidstone, Septem. 25. 1629.

PROV. 1.28.

Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer: they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.

THere is a good English Proverb amongst us, that he that neglects the occasion, the occasion will neg­lect him. Solomon wisely begins his Proverbs with it: for he bringeth in the Wisdom of his Father in these five particulars: 1 first, making a generall Proclamation in the 20 verse, Wisdome crieth without, shee uttereth her vice in the streets. He compareth God unto a Crier that goeth up and down the City from street to street, and from doore to doore, crying his commodity, e­ven the richest that ever was, which is a Christ, [Page 60] a Christ for redemption, a Christ for sanctification, a Christ to enlighten those that walk in darknesse, and in the shadow of death. Ho, every one that thir­steth, here is a Christ for you.

2 Secondly, here is a mercifull reprehension, in the 22. verse, O yee foolish, how long will yee love foolishnesse, and yee scorners take pleasure in scorning? Foolish indeed to be without Christ: foolish to be without grace, foolish to chafer away our souls for sin. How long yee scorners will yee take plea­sure in scorning? will you still persist in your wic­kednesse, and never have done with your sins? will you never turn back again, but damne your souls for ever? O yee foolish, how long will you love foolishnesse?

3 Thirdly, here is a gracious exhortation in the 23. verse: turn you at my correction: lo, I will poure out my mind unto you, and make you to understand my words. As if he should say, Do you not see how you are going apace to confusion; and that the way you take, leadeth unto destruction? turn ye therefore, turn ye back again, for there is a Christ behind you: O turn ye; for if ye go on in your sins, you perish for ever.

4 Fourthly, here is a yearning promise made unto the world, in the end of the 23. verse; Lo, I will poure out my spirit upon you, and cause you to under­stand my words. As if he should say, return back again with me, and you shall have better welcome then you can possibly have, if you go on in your sins: the Devill will never let you gain so much by your living in your lusts, as you shall do by [Page 61] repentance for them, and forsaking of them. For behold, I will poure out my spirit upon you, whereby you shall be far greater gainers, then you shall be by your sins.

5 Fifthly, here is a grievous threatning against the world, even all those that have loytered out the day of grace. As time and tyde stayes for no man, no more doth the day of grace: Because I have called, and you refused; I have exhorted, but you have not regarded; I have denounced judgements against you for your sins, but you have harned your hearts; now a day of woe and misery shall come upon you, a time of vengeance and deso­lation shall over-take you; there will a day come wherein there will be weeping, and crying Mer­cie (Lord) mercy; but I tell you beforehand what you shall trust to: let this be your lesson, now I call, and you will not hear; now I stretch out my hands, but you will not regard: you shall seek [...] me early, but you shall not find me: and shall crie, but you shall not be heard.

The words are a thunderclap against all those that procrastinate their repentance, and returning home unto God, wherein note, 1 first, the parties themselves that do prolong this time of grace, they: that is, they who when God cals on them, will not hear; when God invites them by his mer­cies, patience, and forbearance, by his Ministers and servants, by his corrections and judgements, by all fair means and foul means, yet withstand the means of grace: they are the men, they shall call, but God will not answer.

[Page 62] 2 Secondly, here is their seeking after God; they shall call upon me.

3 Thirdly, here is their earnest and diligent see­king unto God; they shall not onely call, but seek to, and not onely seek, but seek as to labour to find: nay they shall seek me early▪ even strive to goe about it with all haste, and flie to repen­tance, but they shall not find me.

4 Fourthly, here is the unseasonablenesse of the time of their seeking, then: that is a demonstra­tive, then; even a time which the Lord points at: as if he should say, you shall see then these men will be of another mind, then they will be glad to be converted then they will be glad to come out of their sins, then they will be glad to get grace, and seek reconciliation with God: but alas! they saw not this then, but God foresaw it well enough; then shall they call, but I will not an­swer, they shall seek me early, but they shall not finde me.

5 Lastly, here is the frustration of their hope, which hath two things in it. First, in regard of their selves, in regard of the slaw of their seek­ing, it being not aright. Secondly, in regard of the [...]ustice of God, who rewards every man ac­cording to his works. But I will not hear them. Whence observe this point of Doctrine.

Dect. 1 Those that will not hear God when he calleth them; God will not hear them, when they call upon him. Those that will not hear the Lord when he calleth upon them by the ministery of his Word, and voice of his Spirit, the Lord will [Page 63] not hear them, when in their misery they call upon him.

Thus the Lord dealt with the people in Eze­kiels dayes; the Lord called them to repentance and obedience: but when they stood out, and neglected the opportunity of grace, and seasons of conversion, see how God deals with them: though they cry in mine eares with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them (saith the Lord.) When men have gone beyond the time of Gods mercie, and out-rowed the tide of Gods forbearance, and will not return, the Lord sets it down with him­self, that his wrath shall return upon them, he will no longer forbear: they had a time where­in the Lord did pitie them, and offered grace and mercie unto them, but they neglecting this season, and withstanding this proffer of grace, God resolves with himself they shall never have it again. There was a time wherein God did pitie them, but now he will not pitie them any more; twenty five yeers he called unto them▪ and sought to bring them home; but because they stood out and refused, the Lord saith, I will love Ephraim no more.

Beloved, there is a double day, a white day, and a black day; there is a day of salvation; Isa. 49.9 this is the day in the which the Lord said to the prisoners, Come forth: and to those that lie in their sins, repent and beleeve. Now if any man will come forth and humble his soul before the Lord, let him come and welcome, for it is a day of salvation. But there is another day of [Page 64] damnation, which is a dark day, a black and a duskie day, wherein the Lord will visit the sins of the world, and revenge the quarrell of his Covenant. Hos. 9.7, The day of visitation is come, yea the day of recompence; the people shall know it; the Prophet is a foole, and the spirituall man is mad. Beloved, we are fools, and all the spirituall men under heaven are mad, that lay not this day to heart. For the day of the Lord is a day of visi­tation, and all the world shall rue it, though now men sleepe in security. If once mercy be re­jected, and God turn away his eare from a man, then grace shall be no more, the doore of life shall for ever be shut up against him: and when once this day comes, he hath lost his own peace, and deprived himself of eternall happinesse.

Reas 1 Now there are three reasons of this point; the first is the law of retaliation, of rendring like for like, which is the justest law that can be made with man, for to give unto every man according to his works, to make him take such as he brings, (as the Heathen call it) to give a man quid for quo. Now if God call upon thee, and thou wilt not hear; it is righteousnesse with God, yea equity with God (that is more) that when thou callest on him, he should not heare thee. For thus runs the tenor of Gods Word, Prov. 28.9 He that turns away his eare from hear­ing the Law▪ even his prayers shall be abominable. He that turns away his eare from Gods Law, God wi [...]l turn away his eare from his prayer. He that turns, it is spoken in the present tense, that [Page 65] is, he that now turns away his eare, his prayer shall be abominable (in the future tense) that is, the Lord marks what master or servant, what fa­ther or mother, what husband or wife, what man or woman it is, that turns away the eare of his head, or the eare of his heart, from hearing his will, and obeying of his Commandments, the Lord takes speciall notice of it, and sets it down in his Calender, and records it in his Memoriall; keeping a strict account thereof: as if God should say, Well, is it so? I now call, and will not this man or that woman answer? Do I now stretch out my hands, and will not they take care to o­bey me? Well, let them alone (saith God) there is a day coming, that I shall be a hearing of them; times of sorrow and misery will take hold of them, and then they in their afflictions will cry unto me, but I will not hear; they will begge for mercy, but I will not regard: they will seek me early, but they shall not find me.

It was one of the Articles of high Treason brought in against Cardinall Woolsey, that he had the pox, and a stinking breath, and yet durst come into the Kings presence: So it will be an Article against thee of high treason before the King of heaven, if thou come into his presence with the stinking breath of thy sins, living in thy lusts, and wallowing in thy silthinesse, all thy prayers are but as so many stinking breaths in the nostrils of the Lord, and every duty that thou performest unto the Lord, shall be as so many Articles of high treason against thee, for to condemne thee, [Page 66] because thou livest in rebellion, and a Traitour against God.

His prayer shall be abominable: he doth not say, I will turn away mine eare from hearing his prayer, which turns away his eare from hearing my Law, (that is the true exposition of the words) no, like for like is sometimes in justice: for if a man should strike a Magistrate a box on the eare, it were not justice for him to give him another: for it is a greater sin to strike a Magi­strate, then any other common person; and ther­fore a greater punishment the Law requireth: So God doth not say, he will turn away his eare from hearing his prayer, but will serve him in a worse kind, he will count it abominable, yea abomination, (in the abstract) it shall be loath­some, yea loathsomnesse it self in the worst manner. Galat. 6. As a man soweth, so shall he reap: if thou sowe sparingly, thou shalt reap sparingly: if thou sowe a dull eare to Gods Word, thou shalt reap a dull eare from God to thy prayer: for God will reward every man according to his works.

Reas 2 Secondly, because of the time of Gods attri­butes: both mercy and justice have their season in this life; and when mercie hath acted her part, then commeth justice upon the stage, and acteth her part; so that God will have his attri­butes manifested to all the sons of men, yea to the face of the whole world. There is no market, nor Fayre day that lasteth alwayes: if the coun­trey will not come in, the Tradesmen will put [Page 67] up their wares, and be gone: but if they come in time, they may have a peniworth: otherwise if they come too late, they will find none. For the Merchant will not alwayes dwell in tents, but away he goeth, and will not stay for them. Be­loved, Gods standing is now open, and his shop set wide unto the sons of men; if men will not come in, cheapen and by without money, whiles God offers his wares, he will put them up and be gone. For the Merchant will not lose his wares, which he should do, if he should al­wayes remain in the open ayre with them; if he alwayes continue in the fields expecting custo­mers, his wares would spoyl and rot. So it is with God, how many sweet counsels doth he lose? how many sweet exhortations? how ma­ny blessed Sermons, and holy Sacraments, and Sabbaths, doth he lose? how many checks of conscience? how many dayes of grace, and mo­tions of his spirit have been squandred away in vain? do you think that God wil lose all these; and let them rot upon the stall, with staying for you? No, no: the day of grace and mercie will have an end, and grace and mercie will have an end; and then the day of wrath and vengeance will step up. To day if you will hear his voice, then barden not your hearts: then they hardened their hearts, and would not be led by Gods mercies to forsake their sins; Therefore he swa [...]e in his wrath that they should never enter into his rest. If it be so with you as it was with Israel in the wilder­nesse, in the day of temptation, you do not [Page 68] know but that your sinnes may now begin to pluck vengeance upon you. I tell you, if you harden your hearts this day, you do not know but this very day the Lord may clap an oath up­on your heads, that you shall never enter into his rest. For one and the selfe-same occasion lasts not alwayes: as every day is not a Market day, nor every week in the yeare a Faire week, nor every season in the yeare a time of Spring or harvest; so every day of a mans life may not claime to be the day of grace. Therefore if a man fore-slow it, now he fore-sloweth his own happinesse, and putteth off his owne peace for ever.

Excellent is that annotation of Gregory on Job 27.9. Will God heare his cry when trouble commeth upon him? Beloved, now Gods patience is troubled, wilt not thou repent? Now Gods Spirit is troubled, wilt not thou obey? Now Gods Justice is troubled, wilt thou not relent? Now Gods Word is troubled, wilt thou refuse to hearken? Will God heare his cry? He speaketh interrogatively, as if he should say, Art thou so mad, so vaine, so foolish, to promise to thy selfe being an hypocrite, that God will hear thy prayer? Oh no, then justice cometh to take place.

Reas 3 Thirdly, it is Gods use to doe so in other things, even upon the contempt of temporall blessings; and therefore much more in matters of grace and salvation. Thus God promised to give Israel the Land of Canaan, Num. 12.22. but [Page 69] the text saith, They tempted God ten times, that is, (as some Expositors expound it) many times; or (as others) ten severall times. But what ever the meaning of the text be, certainly it was very many times; so long, til at last he sware in his wrath that they should never enter into his rest. Beloved, though there be many a hot swearer that regards not an oath; yet certainly if the Lord sweare, we may beleeve him: the Word of God is as strong as oaths: if he say it upon his word, wee are bound to beleeve it: how much more then, when he confirmes it with an oath? Therefore if the Lord sweare thou shalt not, how darest thou, how canst thou hope or think ever to enter into his rest? This was almost fourty yeares before he died, that the Lord made this oath against them: and God knowes how many thousands of them fel short, not only of the land of Canaan, but also of the Kingdome of heaven.

So God took Ismael an hundred and seventeen yeares before he died: twenty yeares God offe­red him grace and repentance, but he would not take warning; a mocker he was, and a mocker he would be: for he mocked Isaac when he was a child of six yeares old; and no meanes would reclaim him, before he heard the voice, Cast out the bond-woman and her sonne: Out with him, (saith God) for he shall never be heire with my sonne: this was an hundred and seventeen years before Ismaels death.

And so God took Saul, five and thirty, or six and thirty yeares before he died, according to [Page 70] Josephus Chronology, (if it bee true); how­soever, hee took him divers yeares before his death: for so the Scripture makes it plain, 1. Sam. 15.20. The strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent: for he is not a man that hee should repent. Therefore because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord also hath rejected thee from being a King. And do not think that thou by thy prayers, and crying God mercie, canst ever alter him: for his councell is immutable, and hee is strong in his decree, and cannot change. Hither­to Grace and Mercie have been offered thee, which if thou hadst embraced, thou mightst have found mercy from the Lord, and the Kingdome should have been established and confirmed un­to thee: but now it is too late: for the strength of Israel cannot lie.

God took Esau fiftie yeares before his death: for so long he lived, after he sought the blessing with teares: but he was a hunting when God was a calling: he was following his prophane­nesse when God was wooing him to repentance. At last when he called for repentance, and sought it earnestly, yea his soule was carefull for to get it; yet he could never obtaine it, though hee sought it earnestly with teares fiftie yeares before he died.

Now if the Lord so severely punish contempt of temporall blessings, O how will he punish the contempt of proffers of grace and salvati­on! I tell you God will be more strict in re­venging of this sinne, then of any other sinne: [Page 71] he will come with Martiall law against all those that contemne his Gospell, Joh. 3.18. He that be­leeveth not, is condemned already. Doth Christ preach repentance and salvation, and the King­dome of God; and wilt thou not repent and be­leeve? Martiall Law (beloved) martiall Law, hang him up; for he is condemned already. Even like a souldier that rebels against his General, & forsakes his Colours, they doe not cast him into prison, and stay for the Assizes, or Sessions, but give him Martiall Law, even hang him up: So if the Lord sound his Gospell in thine eares, and of­fers thee conditions of peace, knocking at the doore of thy heart by his Spirit, and thou refuse to open to him, thou art condemned already: for the Strength of Israel cannot lie, nor repent. Oh therefore take heed now whiles his word sounds in thine eares, while his Spirit secretly whis­pers in thy heart to thee, open to him, for else thou art condemned for ever.

Take notice then, that God doth commonly give men a day, and no man or Angel doth know how long this day lasteth. To some it lasteth to their last gasp; to some, to their old age; and to some, it is cut off in their childhood. God gave the Angels a day, the which because they negle­cted, they are reserved in chains of darknesse un­till the great judgement day. God gave Cain a day, Genes. 4. During all the time of this day, though Cain sinned again and again, and went on in his sinnes a great while, yet he heard nothing but a still voice, If thou do well Cain, shalt thou not [Page 72] be accepted? but if thou dost ill, sinne lieth at the doore. But when no meanes will prevaile, but Cain will go on adding sinne to sinne, and mur­der unto all the rest of his sinnes, and so let go the season of mercy, the Lords tells him from heaven, that the day of grace is past, the gate of mercy is shut against thee: for thou art now accur­sed from the earth. As if the Lord should say, Be­fore I gave thee a day of salvation, and offered thee mercy, but thou wouldst not accept of it; but now I have clapt a curse upon thy soul, that thou shalt never claw off. So God gave Nine­veh a day to repent, Jona. 3. Yet forty dayes and Nineveh shall be destroyed. God gave the Fig­tree a day, even three yeares, before he would have it cut down. God gave the old World a day of an hundred and twenty yeares; during this time God sent unto them Noah, a Preacher of righteousnes, to call upon them to repent, and so set it down also, that his Spirit shall not alwayes strive with man, but his time shall be an hundred and twenty yeares: yet one writes, that the Lord cut off twenty of the hundred and twenty yeares, be­cause of their iniquities, which were so grievous, and provoked him so much, that they hasted him to come before he would have done. In all this space if they had repented, they should have found mercy from the Lord: but when this time was gone, and the day of grace was out, the De­luge came in upon them, and God by his judg­ments overthrew the whole World.

Object. You my ask me when this day or season of grace doth end, or cease.

[Page 73] Answ. I answer, that neither men nor Angels can tell; but this I say, it may be yet this day of grace lasteth unto thee, now it may bee God speaketh whom to thy soul, now it may be God warms thy heart, and givs thee good purposes & resolutions: now it may be the Lord Jesus pas­seth by thee in a good thought and desire; lay hold on it, for thy day may cease this very night, for ought thou knowest. Luke 17.22. The time shall come (saith Christ) when you shall desire to see one of the dayes of the Sonne of man, and shall not see it. Now is the day of Christ upon you, now is Christ offering and preaching himself to you: but if you let this day passe, thou mayst desire to have one of the drops of that bloud that hath been offered to thee, and yet never have it: thou mayst desire to feele one rap of that Spirit that hath knockt at thy heart, and yet goe with­out it: thou maist intreat for one dram of that mercy that hath been offered, and thou hast re­jected, but it shall never be granted to thee: God may clap that fearfull sentence upon thee, Now henceforth never grow fruit more on thee, never re­pentance come into thy heart more. If now thou wilt not repent and be converted, the Lord may set it down in his decree from this day for­ward, that thou mayst fumble about thy sinnes, but shalt never get victory over them: thou mayest ever bee mourning for thy corruptions, but never mourne aright for them: thou mayest blunder about repentance, but never doe the work.

[Page 74] Ezekiel 24.23. You shall not mourne nor weep, but you shall pine away for your iniquities, and mourn one towards another. There is many a soule for contemning of God, and not taking up repen­tance while they may have it, this plague of God is come upon them, that they are ever repen­ting, and are never able to repent, ever poring upon their sinnes, but never able to come out of them; they pray and pray against them, but their prayers moulder away under them: for they shall pine away for their iniquities. What is the reason? he showeth in the 13. verse: Because I would have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged any more. Because I gave thee line upon line, precept upon precept, motion up­on motion, Sacrament upon Sacrament, Sabbath upon Sabbath, and Ordinance upon Ordinance, because I used all fair meanes and foul meanes, I awaked thy conscience, and stirred up the mo­tions of grace in thee; but because I would have cleansed thee, and thou wast not cleansed, thou shalt never be cleansed. A fearfull sentence it is, if mens hearts were soundly opened to consider rightly of it.

And as there is a personall day, so there is a nationall day; if the Nation turne unto God du­ring that time, then that nation shall find mercy; but if they neglect that day, then God will hide those things from their eyes that belong to their peace, as Christ saith of Jerusalem, Luke 19.42. O Jerusalem, if that thou hadst known in this thy day, those things that did belong to thy peace! but now [Page 75] they are hid from thine eyes: in this thy day; if thou hadst known it during that day, it had been hap­py for thee; but now the day of grace is gone, the Lord hath concealed it from thee, and thou shalt never perceive it any more.

Some mens day of grace God endeth even in their very childhood; therefore if there be any little ones, any children here in this congrega­tion, that are of age to know what belongs unto an exhortation, to them I speak, that they take heed how they rebell against the commandment of a father or a mother, or master, against the teaching of Gods Word, for though you be chil­dren, yet God may inflict judgements upon your heads; for not only the day of grace, but also the day of life may be cut off from children, as 2 Kings 2.24. Four and twenty children were torn in peeces for mocking the Lords Prophet. Some mens day of grace is not shut up untill their youth, some not untill their old age, some not untill they are a dying; and if they refuse then, they are alike, yea sure to perish for ever; I know the day of grace may have several returns, but at last Gods Exchequer will be finally shut up.

Object. May not a man be called at the eleventh or twelfth hour of the day? The day of grace lasteth alwayes; and doth not the Apostle call the day of life the day of grace? 2 Cor. 6.2.

Answ. Is it true, the Lord calleth men at the ele­venth and twelfth hour; but yet, look and you shall see in the twentieth of Matthew, that they [Page 76] were not called at the first houre, nor at the se­cond nor third houre, nor at the sixth and ninth houre, i. he doth not say he found the same men that he found at the first, and third, sixth and ninth houres, but he saw others standing idle: No, those that were called at the first houre, came in at the first houre; and they that were called at the third houre, came in at the third houre; and they that were called at the sixth and ninth houre, came in at the sixth and ninth houre. Well, doth God call thee in thy childhood, in thy youth, or in thy middle age, now at the first or sixth, or ninth houre, now come in and labour in Gods Vineyard, and worke out your salvation with feare and trembling, and make use of the sea­son of grace, now whiles it is upon you: for if thou be called the first houre, the sixth is for a­nother, and not for thee; if thou be called the sixth houre, the ninth houre is for others and not for thee; if thou be called the ninth houre, the eleventh houre is for others and not for thee; The Text saith, He came and found others standing idle in the market place, and said unto them, Why stand yee here idle? And they say unto him, No man hath hired us; as if they should say, We never had any means of salvation, we have had no Ministers to preach unto us; but now God calls upon thee to come in, this is thy houre, look unto it. If God call thee, see thou come in, whether it be at the first or third houre, at the six or ninth houre, lest the Lord in his wrath clap bardnesse of heart up­on thy soul.

[Page 77] Object. But you will say, that the day of life, and the day of grace are parallel'd and likened one to a­nother; and therefore there is hope so long as a man remaines in the Congregation of the li­ving.

Answ. I answer, it is true indeed, that the day of grace lasteth so long as the day of life: 1. In regard of others, for others are so to esteeme of it, the Minister is to look to his people, as to a people to be conver­ted as long as they live.

2. In regard of a mans owne selfe, he is so bound to beleeve, for the commandment of faith standeth in force on a man, so long as he liveth, and there­fore infidelity and despaire cease not to be sins, till a man is actually in hell; when he is in hell, then they are no sins, because then he is not com­manded to beleeve, but are part of the punishment of the damned; but whilst a man lives it is a sinne, for men are now bound to lay hold upon Christ and to beleeve, at what houre of their life soever.

3. It may be said to last all a mans life long, be­cause it is bounded within the compasse of life: for no man hath a day of grace after this life.

But what is the meaning of all those Scriptures which show how God doth deliver up men unto the Spirit of giddinesse, and unto the Spirit of slum­ber? And what means the hardning of mens hearts, and searing of mens consciences, but only to show that the day of grace may end unto a particular man, ten, twenty, thirty, nay forty yeeres before his death.

[Page 78]1. Because God may harden a mans heart, Jerem. 13.10. and deale with them as with Is­rael in the Rock, so shut up their hearts, that they shall never melt at any Sermon, never be wrought upon by any judgement, God having closed them up in a rocky heart, that he saith of them, Can the Blockmore change his skin, or the Leo­pard his spots? then may they do good that are ac­customed to do evill. The blacknesse of the Black­more is only in the out-side of the skin, yet all the Art under the heavens cannot blot it out: So if once hardnesse possesse thy soule, all the prea­ching of the Ministers, and all the means of grace in the world can never bring it unto that frame and temper, as to make it melt under the hand of God; I tell thee, thou that usest to come un­to Sermons day after day, and refusest to re­pent, living still in thy sinnes, there is no ham­mer nor beetle in the world more hard then thy heart: as those men and women that sit under the preaching of the Word, and hear the do­ctrine of life, like raine from above, beating and knocking on their consciences, and on their hearts, to awaken them out of their sinnes, and yet notwitstanding will not repent at last, they prove to be deafe Adders, that stop their eares a­gainst the Word, charme the Charmer never so wisely.

2. God may seare mens consciences; Doth thy conscience tell thee that thou art a luke­warmling, and wilt thou not be reformed? Doth thy conscience tell thee that thy prayers and all [Page 79] thy religion is rotten and unsound, and that thy repentance is hypocriticall and naught; and that for all thy vaine hopes, thou art but a dissem­bler, and yet remainest in thy sinnes, and wilt thou not be bettered hereby? Take heed; for that man that runns on in sinne against the voice of his own conscience, that man sinnes the sinne of Saul, 1 Sam. 13.8. God bid him stay se­ven dayes untill Samuel came: Saul stayes full seven dayes within one houre; at last his lust be­gan to bawl: What? shall I stay for a Prophet thus long? Stay, sayes his conscience; Why? (sayes Saul) I waited for him so long, even seven dayes lacking but one houre. Stay (saith God to his conscience) for the Word of God bids thee stay so long: he stayed one day, and two dayes, and six dayes, and seven dayes but one houre; Stay (saith his conscience:) no, hee would not; but I forced my selfe, (saith the Text) as if hee should say, I hardened my heart to do it, though the word of the Lord, & my own conscience bid me stay and not do it, yet I forced my selfe to do it: What was this mans sinne! Was it his of­fering of Sacrifice, and calling upon God by prayer? No, the Lord commands us to call up­on him in time of distresse; and being comman­ded, it was lawfull. Was it his sinne to meddle with the Priests office? No: for he did but ap­point the Sacrifice, the Priest offered it. What? was it the breaking of one houres time? No: for he had sinned more against God then so: but this was his sinne, that he went against his own con­science, [Page 80] when God stood in the way, when con­science stood in the way; conscience said stay, but he would not stay: God bid him stay, but he would not stay. And this is the sinne of many thousands amongsts us; mens consciences tel them that they must not be drunkards, mens conscien­ces tell them that they must not be worldlings, they must not be swearers, they must not be luke-warme professors, they must pray better then they do, and have other faith then yet they have, if e­ver they meane to be saved; wilt thou yet against thy conscience force thy selfe to go on in thy sins from day to day, and never be reformed? take heed lest the Lord be provoked to set thy sun up­on thy head, and shut up thy heart, and tonclude thy eternall destruction.

Object. Suppose I go on in my sinnes, and follow my wic­ked courses now; what if I seek him hereafter, and humble my soule before him with fasting and prayer, and when I lie upon my death-bed, I send a ticket unto my Minister to pray for me, will all this do me no good?

Answ. Surely no, (saith God, Jerem. 15.1.) Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my affections could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight. Dost thou lie sick upon thy death-bed? were Samuel, Job, or Daniel the Minister of thy Parish, and thou shouldst send thy ticket un­to them, desiring them to remember thee in their prayers; if Noah stood in the Pulpit, and Job and Daniel were here before the Lord for to plead for thee, yet he would not hear thee.

[Page 81] Object. But, suppose I humble my self by fasting and prayer, will not God hear that.

Answ. No if thou neglect the day of grace. Jer. 14.12. when they fast. I will not hear them: and when they offer oblations, I will not accept their cry: but I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pe­stilence. You may set up your fastings, prayers, and humiliations, you may lament and mourne, and pine away your selves in your sins; but it is not all your prayers and fastings, it is not all your lamentation and mourning, that will do you good, so long as the counsell of the Lord is rejected. Because I called, and ye would not answer; therefore you shall call, but I will not hear: they thought that the Lords eares would alwayes be open, and that when they called the Lord would have answered▪ and that the day of grace would ever remain; but God saith, I will not hear them: they would never have sought if they thought the Lord would not hear them, but all their seek­ing was in vain.

Object. You will say, at what time soever a sinner re­penteth he shall have mercy.

Answ. It is true, if thou repent from the bottome of thy heart, but thou maiest come with many a degree of repentance, and yet never repent whilest thou livest: if thou repent from thy heart, and root out thy sins, then God will put away thy sins; but thou maiest go on in repentance and calling upon God, and performing many duties of Re­ligion, and yet be hardned; look how much Re­ligion will stand with self-love, so much thou [Page 82] maiest have after the day of grace is gone. Selfe-love may make a man flie to prayer, and run after Sermons, and go on in many holy duties, and give over many sins; look how far self-love may drive thee unto holy duties, so far thou maist go, and yet notwithstanding remaine hardned. O therefore let us not delay, nor put off the time of grace, nor let go salvation while it may be had; then shall they call, but I will not answer: he doth not set down when this time is; it may be it is now, it may be not this seven yeers, it may be not till thy death.

Doct. 2 Doctr. It may be, this very day, even this very Sermon, this very houre may be thy day that art now in thy sinnes, that if thou repent not at this very one Sermon▪ thou neglectest eternall life for ever; lose the benefit of this Sermon at this time, and thou maiest lose eternall salvation, and never have it more. The thiefe that robd this day, how doth he know but this one robbery may bring him to the gallows? So the man that sins this day, how doth he know but that this very dayes work may bring him to hell? Deut. 32.35. To God belongs vengeance: their feete shall slide in due time. Therefore if a man sin against him, he may stand to day, and to morrow, and many dayes; but when the due time comes, even the time which God hath set, then up goes his heels, he shall slide and break his neck: thy houre-glasse runs in heaven, and thou seest not when the sand comes to the bottome, but when tis out, then down thou goest to hell for ever.

[Page 83]There was one resolved to kill Julius Caesar such a day; the night before, a friend sent him a letter to acquaint him with it: but being at sup­per, and busie, I will not look upon it now, (saith he) to morrow is a new day. The next day when he should have read his letter, he was stabd; Whence this Proverb came in Greece, To morrow is a new day. God sends thee a letter and a message from heaven to day; hear his voice to day, repent and come out of your sins, or for ever to hell; to day be converted and sanctified, or for ever be hardned. Dost thou refuse to bear­ken to day, and puttest it off untill to morrow? it may be to morrow may be a day of Gods wrath, and then thou maiest be hardned, seared, and bound over unto the great day of Gods ven­geance: to morrow God may set the decree up­on thy soul, that thou shalt never repent. There­fore if thou refuse this, thou refusest all; for what knowest thou, but this very day may be thy day?

Reas 1 The reason is, because Gods patience is in his own brest; and who can tell how long it will last? Hast thou Momus his glasse-window, to look into Gods secret counsell? hast thou a key­hole to look into Gods treasurie? canst thou stand on tiptoe, to look over Gods shoulder, to look into Gods decree, to see how long his patience will last? It may be God hath suffered thee till this day, thou art guilty of ten thousand sinnes, and yet he is patient towards thee; God hath stayed thus long for thee, that hast sworne [Page 84] I know not how many oaths, God hath born thus long with thee that hast told I know not how many lies, prophaned I know not how many Sabbaths contemned I know not how ma­ny ordinances, and sleighted I know not how many judgements, yet Gods patience is in his own brest, it is the long sufferance of God. Thou mayest say, I would fain have it to morrow, and this seven yeers, but alas, it is his long sufferance and not thine: and how dost thou know when he will conclude it? it may be this day as well as to morrow. Joel 2.13. Rent your hearts, and not your garments, (saith the Prophet) for the Lord he is gracious, and mercifull. This word [for] hath a great deal of force in it: First, It is a descriptivum [for:] for he is gracious and a mercifull God: therefore rent thy heart, and let thy soul burst within thee, that thou hast sinned against him: for he is a mercifull God, and it may be he will pardon all thy sins, and heal all thy rebellions committed against him.

Secondly, it is an upbraiding [for:] upbraid­ing thee for thy sins: rent thy heart therefore, why? he is a patient God; wilt thou goe on in thy sins against such a patient God? and rebel against such a loving Father▪ that hath loved thee with so much compassion? Rent thy heart, for he is patient.

Thirdly, it is a comforting and incouraging [for:] rent thy heart for there is incourage­ment for thee to repent, give over thy sins, and go to the throne of grace. For there is much [Page 85] mercie to welcome thee, and great patience for to bid thee come home, and abundance of grace for to incourage thee: therefore rent thy heart and come home unto the Lord, for he is patient and long-suffering.

Fourthly, it is a forewarning [for:] rent your hearts, for the Lord is gracious and mercifull, slow to anger, and of great kindnesse; yet his mercie lasteth, yet his patience endureth, yet hee hath all his attributes, and yet he is pleased to manifest the same, still tendring grace and mer­cie unto thee. Oh turn unto him, while these en­dure, or else thou shalt perish for ever.

Fifthly, it is a threatning [for;] now he is gracious, now he is mercifull, but his mercy will end, his patience will end, and then if thou hast not rent thy heart before, it will be too late then. Therefore as ever thou lovest thine own soule, now rent thy heart and turn unto God.

It is Gods own proclamation; The Lord the Lord, slow to anger, and of great mercie, forgiving iniquity and sin. Yea what man soever it be, that humbles his soule before him he shall find grace and mercie with him; yea abundance of mercie, pardoning iniquity, transgression and sinne; yea any thing: Let but a soul come prostrate before him, humbling his soule, he will pardon his sin. But as it followeth in the words; He will by no means clear the guiltie; if notwithstanding all Gods patience and mercie, thou go on in thy sins, the Lord will never forgive thee, but will visit thy sinnes upon thee unto the third and [Page 86] fourth generations, because thou hast withstood the day of grace. Beloved, men run on in their sins, as if so be an Angel from heaven should cry unto them and tell them, yet God will be good unto them, yet God will show them mercie, and forbear them. Beloved, let your consciences an­swer, if you ever heard the Lord God say to any of you, thus long I will forbear you. No, Gods patience is in his own breast, and therefore no man knows how long it will last.

Reas 2 A second reason is, because Gods patience gi­veth no marks or inklings of it, before it ends: commonly when God strikes a man with death, he giveth some signes of warnings of it before, as sicknesse, and pains, and gray hairs, and many sorrowes, &c. Now because thy life is in Gods hands, thou carest not for it, but venturest to go on in thy sinnes, hoping to have some warning, though thousands be cut off without it; but the day of grace may come to an end, and yet thou never have any inkling or warning of it before-hand: commonly when God strikes a man with death, he tells him of it before-hand by aches and pains, as if the Lord should say, Now thou shalt die, now will I take thee out of the world. But when the Lord taketh away the day of grace from a man, though the spirituall man may take some notice of it, yet there is no sensible appa­rition of it, but after the day of grace is set upon a man, he may be as strong and lustie as before, he may come to Church as well after as before, performe religious duties, and do many good [Page 87] things, as well after as before; as Saul went on in duties of Religion, as well after Samuel had pronounced the Lords doome upon him; how many times was he offering sacrifice unto the Lord after the Prophet told him, that he was a man rejected? how many good speeches came from him? as when Samuel met him, he salutes him with these words; Blessed be thou of the Lord, I pray thee turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord. A man would have thought that Saul had been a good convert. No, no, before all this his judgement and doome was set upon him; God steals upon him and saies nothing; he claps his plague upon their souls, and holds his peace.

Isa. 42.14. I have a long time held my peace, I have been still, and refrained my selfe; now will I cry like a travelling woman, I will destroy, and devoure at once. The Lord shews here how he deals with men, they go on in their sins, but the Lord holds his peace; they provoke him every day, but the Lord refraines his anger: but now all at once his wrath breaketh forth upon them. Psal. 64.7. God will shoot an arrow at them suddenly, their stroke shall be at once. The Lord suddenly shoots a swift arrow at thee; no sooner it is shot, but it enters into thy bowels. When the Lord comes upon a man; he comes suddenly; when he ends the day of grace upon him, he doth it suddenly. He ended the day of grace on the Scribes and Pharisees even in the very Sermon time, while Christ was preaching unto them, they were de­livered [Page 88] up to hardnesse of heart: so many were delivered up to hardnesse of heart in the time of Hosea's prophecie, Hos. 4.17. Ephraim is joyned to idols; let him alone (saith God,) as if he should say, Sermon, let him alone; Preacher, let him a­lone; Sirrit, let him alone; Christ, let him alone; Beloved, if we stand out against God, and reject the day of grace, the Lord may say. Word, let such a man alone, and never convert him; Christ, let such a man alone, and never redeem him; Spirit▪ let such a man alone, and never sanctifie him; Sacraments, let such a man alone, and never seal up any comforts unto him: a fearfull signe that men are come to this houre, do we not see that men come to the Word, and the Word lets them alone in their sins? do not men come to the Sacrament, and the Sacrament leaves them still in their filthinesse? men come unto good duties, but good duties let them alone, and do them no good: and this is the condition of many thou­sands in the world. Therefore oh think upon this you that have made a league with your sins, and an agreement with hell: hear this delivered to you this day, that the day of grace may be ended, and God may come and clap his curse up­on men, and never give them any inkling of it at all.

Reas 3 A third reason is, because God reckons upon every houre, if God kept not a strict account of time, how many Sermons▪ you have had, how many mercies you have injoyed, how many crosses he hath warned you by: if God kept not a [Page 89] true tale and account of every houres time; you might rub on many dayes, and moneths, and yeers, and spend much time in fulfilling of your lusts; but God keepeth a reckoning of these things, yea of every houre, and of every minute. Acts 17.30. The times of ignorance God regarded not; but now he admonisheth all men to repent. Alas, when men live in their sins through blindnesse and ignorance, and know not God, the Lord takes no such strict notice of them, but lets them go on longer and longer; but when the Lord sends them his Word and Gospel, and affords them the means of grace, he doth the more strictly look unto them, and takes the more ex­act account of them; before they had the means of grace, the Lord winked at them, and did not so narrowly watch them: but looked over mens igonrance, (as the originall hath it) but now God sends his Word and Gospel, he admonisheth all men to repent, he winks at never an houre, but sets down how oft thou hast had exhortation from thy Minister, how often thou hast had war­ning by sicknesse and aflictions, how often thou hast had checks from thine owne conscience, how many admonitions thou hast had from thy friends, how many times thou hast had the sound of the Gospel to sound in thy eares to bring thee home unto God, John 2.7.11. This is the first beginning of miracles that Jesus did. John 4.58. This is the second miracle that Jesus did, saith the Text, God sets down this, is the first, this is the second time: This is the second Epistle I wrote to [Page 90] you, saith Paul. Oh this is the third time I wrote unto you, 2 Cor. 13. that when I come I will not spare: so God sets it downe in his catalogue, this is the first time that I have warned this man, this is the second time, this is the third time, that when I come I will not spare; the Lord accounts how long he hath sought unto thee, and intreat­ed thee by his mercies, how long he hath allured thee by his word, how long he hath warned thee by his judgements, how oft he hath smote thy heart with fears, and thy conscience with ter­rors. Now if for all this thou wilt not return, just is it with God to cast thee down to hell for ever.

Reas 4 The fourth Reason, and last: it is a wonder that the day of grace is not ended already, and that thou art not now in hell. When a thing in this kind is looked for to be done, it is a wonder that it is not done: It is a wonderfull mercie of God unto this Kingdome that yet the day of grace is continued amongst us, in regard of our long fear and expectation of the contrary. For from the highest to the lowest we have highly revolted more and more, & provoked God to his very face. What contempt of Gods word? what neglect of Gods Ordinances? what prophanation of Gods Sabbaths? what scoffing and deriding of Gods servants? how doth wickednesse and propha­nesse stand up in the highest roome, climb up in­to the highest chambers? But as a whore con­demned to die being with child, is repreived for a time, untill her child be brought forth: so this [Page 91] Land hath gone a whoring from God, yet so long as God hath some children to be brought forth, which are not yet come unto the birth, he lets his grace and Gospel continue untill these children be brought forth. Therefore now (be­loved) if we stick at the birth and come not forth, a hundred to one but we shall miscarry.

When Christ comes first to thy soule, he wit­nesseth grace and mercy to thee, if thou wilt re­pent and amend; yea he witnesseth forgivenesse of sins, redemption and salvation, if thou wilt beleeve; but if not, he will be a swift witnesse a­gainst thee, Malachi 3.5. if thou continue and goest on in thy sins: Agree with thine adversary, while thou art in the way quickly, Matth. 5.25. Now God is in the way with thee, Christ and his Spi­rit are in the way with thee; thou needest not now say, who shall go up to heaven and bring downe the Spirit to thee; Christs Spirit is now knocking at thy heart, and now God offers his mercy to thee, now thou art in the way, now he calls unto thee to accept of his mercie, now hee commands thee to take Christ, now hear him cal­ing to thy heart, now he tenders grace unto thee, imbrace it: now receive Christ and make up thy peace with him: remember the saying of the A­postle, 2 Corinth. 13.5. Examine your selves whe­ther you be in the faith; prove your selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you except you be reprobates? As if the Astostle should say, I have been an Apostle to you this yeer and half, I have preached thus and thus long [Page 92] unto you, I have wrote one Epistle to you to reforme those abuses that were among you, and now I write this second Epistle, to declare the whole will and counsell of God to you. Now cast up your reckoning, examine your selves, and make up your account: see if you have gain­ed Christ. O, I have Christ, (saith one) I have Christ, (saith another.) I, but prove it, saith the Apostle, and try your selves: know ye not that by this time Christ is in you, or else you be repro­bates? As if he should say, if yet Christ be not in you, and grace wrought in your hearts, if yet you lie festring in your sins, and go on in your wicked wayes, it is to be feared you are repro­bates: either you or we are reprobates, you for not obeying, or wee for not delivering the truth of God unto you: But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates: verse 6. God for­bid that this word should be ever spoken unto any soule in this Congregation: but this let mee say, is there any man here that goes on in his lusts, and in his carnall course of life, in pride, security, hardnesse of heart, and impenitencie, that hath not the soundnesse of grace? he hath a fearfull signe and brand of a reprobate, whose conscience is stifled: it is a fearfull signe, if he be not a reprobate before God, yet he is one that is not approved, but for the present in a wretch­ed and miserable condition. Now is the time of grace wherein God hath spoken to your souls, remember that vengeance that is coming to­wards you if it be rejected; now the Lords fat­lings [Page 93] are ready; his Oxen, and Sheep are slain, and laid upon the board; Christ is sacrificed, and his blood is shed, and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is tendered to you; you that have grace, get more grace; you that have no grace, get grace and Christ, and take heed of neglecting any oppor­tunity of grace, for that may come unto thee in one hour, that will never come againe.

FINIS.

VAIN THOUGHTS ARRAIGNED At the Barre of Gods JUSTICE. SET FORTH In a Sermon preached at Linton in Kent, Septem. 29. 1629.

By that Reverend and painfull Mi­nister of the Word, WILLIAM FENNER, B.D. Sometime Fellow of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, and late Parson of Rochford in Essex.

London, Printed by T.R. and E.M. for J.S.

A SERMON OF Mr. WILLIAM FENNERS Preached at Linton, Septem. 9. 1629.

PHIL. 3.18, 19.

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you weeping, that they are the enemies of the Crosse of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose belly is their God, whose glory is their shame, [...]nd who mind earthly things.

THE Apostle in the closure of this Chapter, setteth out unto us a twofold kind of life: First, the life of the godly, and that 1. by way of Exhortation, verse 17. Brethren, be followers toge­ther of me, and mark them which walk so as you have us for an example: 2. By way of declarati­on, [Page 98] verse 20. But our conversation is in heaven, whence also we look for the Saviour, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Then secondly, hee sets forth unto us the life of the wicked, which walked otherwise then the Disciples and Apostles of Christ walked, in these words read unto you. The Apostle war­ned those wicked men again and again, but they would not take warning, neither did they think themselves so bad as he made them, and there­fore they thought they should speed well e­nough; he preached to them in the Pulpit, and wrote unto them, though he were six hundred miles and more distant from them, (and that weep­ing too) that they are enemies to the Crosse of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, who mind earthly things.

The words may be const [...]ued two wayes; ei­ther as being meant, 1. Of severall wicked men, as first of Heterodox walkers, such as walk con­trary to the Apostles: 2. Of wicked persecu­tors of the Gospel, enemies to the Crosse of Christ: 3. Of Drunkards and hypocrites, whose God is their belly: 4. Of Ambitious and proud persons, whose glory is their shame: and 5. of covetous and carnall minded men, who minde earthly things: or as Chrysostom expounds the words (and so it seems is the meaning of them) to be meant of one sort of men, who mind earthly things, they are such as walk otherwise then the Apostle walked. Who are they that mind earthly things? they are enemies of the Crosse of Christ: Who are they that mind earthly things? Whose hearts [Page 99] and affections run more after the things of this life, then after the crosse of Christ; Their God is their belly. Who are they that mind earthly things, and think only how to increase their living, and enlarge their estate, and make them sure unto themselves? their glory is their shame. Who are they that mind earthly things? that give their hearts (the flower of man) and their affections (the flower of their soules) unto the world, and unto the base things of the world, still they are they that mind earthly things, which set either their loving thoughts, or their carking and ca­ring thoughts, or their fretting and vexing thoughts; or their eager, covetous, and vain thoughts on earthly things, they are they that walk otherwise then the Apostles of Christ wal­ked; These are those that are enemies to the crosse of Christ, whose God is their belly, whose glory is their shame, who mind earthly things, whose end is destru­ction.

Hence then will we observe this point:

Doct. That those whose minds and hearts run habi­tually on earth and earthly things, their end must needs be destruction .

Jerem. 6.19. Heare O earth, (saith God behold I will bring evill upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto me, but rejected my Law. Wherein we may see 3 things, 1. That the curse of God is the desert of cursed evill & vain thoughts: 2. That the plague and curse of God is the event of evill and vain thoughts; evill thoughts do not onely deserve [Page 100] Gods plagues, but also bring them: 3. Here is notice given to all the world; Heare, O earth: as if he had said, here is a reckoning that you little dream of, I will bring a plague upon you not onely for your idolatry, for your whore­dome and fornication, but even for your vaine thoughts, Prov. 24.9. The thoughts of the wic­ked are sinne; the Lord doth not only condemne the actions and courses of wicked men, but sets his curse upon their very thoughts. Sinne is of an homogeneall nature, of which every part of a thing is the whole; every piece of stone is stone, for it hath the nature of the whole: even so it is with sin, the least part of sin, the least thought of sin, the least shiver of sin, is sin, and abominable before God.

Reas 1 The reasons why those, whose hearts and thoughts run habitually on earth and earthly things, must needs end in destruction, are, 1. That mans end must needs end in destruction, that never repents: Now, so long as a mans thoughts runne usually and habitually on the things of the world, that man never repents; repentance not onely cleanseth the outside of man, but the in­side also, even the heart; repentance goeth as farre as the Law of God goeth; where the word of God begins, there repentance must needs be­gin: now the word of God begins and strikes at the heart, as saith the Apostle, The word of God is sharp and powerfull, sharper then any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of the soule and spirit, the joynts and marrow, and is a discerner [Page 101] of the thoughts of the heart, Heb. 4.12. Now then if the word of God strike at the thoughts of the heart, then repentance must goe and teach so farre to reforme and amend the things of the heart, or else he never repents. Let a man sweep his house never so much, yet it is not clean so long as there remains one Cob-web in it: so if thy heart be swept from drunkennesse, who­ring and swearing, and yet if the old Cob-web of vain thoughts remain in any corner of thy heart, not washed out, nor swept down, thou hast not as yet repented: Oh Jerusalem (saith God by his Prophet) wash thy heart from wickednesse, that thou maist be saved: how long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee? Jer. 4.14. Mark how the Lord inforceth his exhortation: see how he backs his counsell▪ [that thou maist be saved:] as if he had said, thou canst not be saved, unlesse thou wash thy heart from vain thoughts: how long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee? He doth not say, why doe vain thoughts come in thee? for they will come into the best & most holy heart; but how long shall they lodge within thee? If but vain thoughts do lodge in man & take up their nest in his heart, if a man let his thoughts dwell upon vain things, and hee give way unto them, and use them as his market, trade and re­creations, hee cannot be saved; it is an em­phaticall kind of speech: as if the Lord should say, O Jerusalem, thou never considerest this, and thus he doth as it were pity and compassio­nate them in their blindnesse and ignoran [...]e, and [Page 102] horrible besottednesse, that think that thought is free. Beloved, when the Lord comes to reckon with the world, he will not only reckon with them for their pounds and shillings, for their hundreds and thousands of sinnes; for their mur­ders, whoredomes, blasphemies, &c. but he will call them to account for their least sinnes, the pence and farthing sinnes, even their very thoughts: agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way, lest he deliver thee up to the Jaylor, and thou be cast into prison: thou shalt not come out untill thou hast paid the utmost farthing; thou must deliver up thy farthing as well as thy pound sinnes, or else thou never agreest with thine adversary. When the Lord by his prophet calls upon his people, ex­horting them to repentance, he willeth and ex­horteth them to change their thoughts, Esay 55.7. Repentance is the change of the thoughts, accor­ding to the English Proverb, (I have changed my thoughts:) Look unto thy feet when thou goest into the house of God, Eccles. 5.1. Thou canst never go to the House of God without thy feet: the thoughts and affections of the heart, are the feet of the soul; and thou canst never go to God with­out them; and therefore if thy heart and affecti­ons run habitually on earthly things, thou didst never repent, and so thine end is damnation.

Reas 2 The second reason is, that mans end must needs be destruction that hath no Christ in the world: now so long as thy thoughts run habitually on earthly things, thou hast no Christ. It is not e­nough [Page 103] for a man to hang on Christ, for many a man doth so, and yet is cut off from Christ, and perisheth for ever: thou must not onely hang upon Christ, but thou must also get into Christ. As in the old world, when the deluge came, and the waters increased so greatly, that the moun­taines and high hils were covered with them, and the people could not save themselves by get­ting unto the tops of the mountains, no questi­on but many seeing the Ark swim above the wa­ter, did climb up and hang upon the sides of the Ark, thinking to save themselves, yet none of them were saved, but those that were gotten in­to the Ark: so many a man will catch hold of Christ, but his hold will be gone, and he perish for ever, unlesse he get into Christ. Now a man can never get into Christ, unlesse his heart bee purged from vaine thoughts: For Christ when he entreth into a man, cleanseth his heart from vain thoughts, 2 Cor. 10.5. If Christ once come into the heart, he will set up his throne there: he will hold up his Scepter of Righteousnesse in it: when Christ cometh, see what a work hee will make in the heart, he will not suffer a proud thought to remain there to upbraid him: he will not suffer ever a sinfull lust to stand up to beard him; but he will cast down every imagination, and all high things that exalt themselves, and he will bring every thought into subjection unto himself. Therefore if thy thoughts run after the lusts of thy owne heart, thou hast no Christ in thee: for Christ (beloved) will never dwell in a foule house: I [Page 104] know there is no wheat without some darnell, no gold without some drosse, no wine without some lees; so there is no man but hath some sin; no man so clean, but hath some defilements of sin upon him; therefore if a man have not his cleansing grace of Christ in him, cleansing the heart from vain things, there is no Christ in him: for Christ will never dwell in a foule heart. Now beloved, the very vain thoughts of a man defile him: as Christ saith, Matth. 7.21, 22, 23. Out of the heart proceedeth evill thoughts, and they are they that defile a man All these, not onely mur­der, and adulteries, and uncleannesses, and all o­ther abominable sins, which mens conseiences startle at, bul evill thoughts defile a man: Assure thy self that so long as the league of these evill thoughts is not broken, thou hast no Christ as yet within thee. Hence is that exhortation of the Apostle, Colos. 3.12. If you be risen with Christ, then seek those things which are above.

Brethren, you must remember that there be two kinds of exhortations in Scripture: the one, if a man do them, blessed and happie is he: the other, if he doe them not, yet he may find mercie; it will be a greif and a sorrow to him, but it fol­lows not that he shall miscarrie. But there are exhortations that tye to obedience, that must be obeyed: or else there is no salvation, as this ex­hortat [...]on of the Apostle; it is not left to our choice to do or not to do but if a man be risen with Christ, he must doe it: he must seek the things that are above: that man then that hath his [Page 105] thoughts run habitually on the world, that man hath no Christ in him; and therefore his end must needs be destruction.

Reas 3 Thirdly, that mans end must needs be destru­ction that loves not God; now so long as thy thoughts run habitually on the things of the world, thou hast no true love of God in thee. For thus runs the Commandment of love, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy might. Matth. 22.37. It is as if Christ should have said, thou shalt love God with all thy heart, and with all thy heart, and with all thy heart: for the soul, mind, and heart are all one, that no man might dare to keep any part of their heart from God. Every one will say, I love God with all my heart, I go to Church and serve God with all my heart: I hear the Word, and pray with all my heart: I receive the Sacra­ments with all my heart: Dost thou so? and yet let thy thoughts run upon the world? dost thou pray, and yet let vain thoughts lodge with­in thee? dost thou hear the Word, receive the Sacraments, and yet letst vain thoughts distract thee? Dost thou walk in thy calling, and yet let­test vain thoughts steal away thy heart, and yet sayest thou, I love God with all my heart, when thou takest away thy heart from God? How dost thou think thy thoughts? with thy heels, or with thy heart? Surely thou sayest, with my heart: Why then if thou lovest God with all thy heart, thou must give thy thoughts unto God; God that cals for thy heart, cals for all the heart: now [Page 106] the heart is nothing but all a mans heart; all the affections and desires, all turnings and windings, all things that are in the heart do but make up the heart: and therefore when God calls for thy heart, he calls for all the powers and faculties of the soule. And therefore the Prophet David would blesse God with his soule, and all that was within him. Psal. 103. So thou must give thy thoughts, and all that is within thee to God, or els: thou givest God nothing; therefore that mans end must needs be destruction that loves not God.

Reas 4 Fourthly, that mans end must needs be destru­ction, that never gives over his sinnes: and so long as thy thoughts run after the world, thou canst never forsake sin: thou maiest resolve and think on the contrary, yet so long as thy thoughts run habitually on the things of the world, thou dost not forsake sin. Wicked and carnall men may have the eyes of their consciences opened, and their hearts awakened, whereby they may see their sinnes, and the hellish evill and danger of them: whereupon they may resolve and purpose to forsake them, and then they will make a co­venant with God that they will not do thus and thus; I have been touchie and cholerick, but I will be so no more; I have beene a prophane swearer and blasphemer of the name of God, but I will be so no more; I have been a drunkard, and an unclean person, but Lord thou shalt see a reformation in me. Nay it may be he will tell his Minister of it, and his father and his mother, [Page 107] his wife, his children, and all his friends too of it: but when he comes to his cold bloud again, and these cold graces which sluttered so, come to be cold in him, so that his heart comes to it self again, then vain thoughts rest in his heart, and he returns to his old sins again▪ as the dog to his vomit, and the sow being washed, to the wallowing in the mire.

The Apostle excellently describes a man that can never depart from his sins: They have eyes full of adultery, which cannot cease to sin: 2. Pet, 2.14. where the Apostle speaks not onely of that adul­terie which is a breach of the seventh Com­mandment; but of such an adulterie which is a perfect breach of every Commandment, when the heart runneth awhoring after every sin and vanitie: when the eye of the soul is full of adul­terie, the heart cannot cease to sin; when the eye cannot see an object of gain or profit, but the mind is presently engaged and runs after it, when it cannot see an object of delight and pleasure, but it is straightway caught by it: when he can­not see any wrong or injurie done unto him, but presently he is inflamed with revenge, and his heart runs after it: I say that if thy eye be thus full of adultery that thou canst not see the oc­casions and hints of sin, but presently thou art in­snared, and thy soul is taken by it; thou art the man that canst not cease to sin: therefore untill thou turne the eye of thy soule, which is the thoughts and affections of thy heart, another way, thou wilt never cease to sin. For whereso­ever [Page 108] thou lookest, thou wilt be insnared, so long as thy thoughts are evill and vicious; either up­on pride, or covetousnesse, or ambition, or envie, or delights; thy soul will look asquint on God: and untill these vaine thoughts of thine be cruci­fied, thou wilt only look upon the satisfying of these vain lusts of thine.

Prov. 3.6. In all thy wayes acknowledge God, and he shall direct thy paths. In all thy wayes think on God, or else thou mayest go to many duties in Religion, but never be direct in thy going; thou maiest pray a thousand times, but never be esta­blished in thy prayer: thou maiest go from Le­cture to Lecture, and yet never be established in thy service: thou maiest go about many things and never be established in any thing, unlesse God be in all thy thoughts: a man may go on in a course of Religion, but it is at haphazard, he is inconstant, and unsteady in his course, unlesse in his heart he think upon God; and therefore his end must needs be destruction.

This then may serve, first, for humiliation to the godly: secondly, for matter of condemnation to the wicked.

Vse 1 First, for humiliation; are vain thoughts thus damnable, that when they beare sway in the heart, they make that mans end to be destructi­on? How then ought this to fill the faces of them that have the Spirit of Christ, with shame and confusion, and to make them in a holy man­ner to be confounded of themselves, and to think of the emptinesse, naughtinesse, and vani­ties [Page 109] of their hearts? Beloved, thou canst not go to prayers, but abundance of vain thoughts will be about thee, like wasps to assault thee; thou canst not go to the Word, but these vaine thoughts will be a humming in thy eares; thou canst not go about the works in thy calling, but vain thoughts will haunt thee, and creep into thy meditations, and take away the main burthen of the work all the day long. Beloved, this should make a godly man ashamed, and confounded in himself in the consideration hereof. The Prophet David was so confounded and ashamed hereat, that had not God poured in mercie and comfort into his soul, he had been distracted, and should have despaired, considering the company of vain thoughts that lodged within him, Psal. 94.19. where hee shows what abundance of distracting thoughts he had; that if God had not sustained him with comfort after comfort, he had even been been overwhelmed in despair by them.

Augustine saith, a mans thoughts are not in his own power: the heart of man is like tinder; and if the Devill cast a spark into it, thou canst not hinder it from taking fire; but thou maiest hinder it from burning further. A ship may have leakes in her, and thou canst not hinder the coming in of water into her: but by thy pump­ing and industry thou maiest save her from drowning in the water; even so evill thoughts, though they be rooted out, yet they will come in again; A mans heart is like to the fig-tree that grew out of the stone wall, which Epiphanius [Page 110] speaketh of; the branches were lopt off, and it grew again; the boughs were lopt off, and it grew again; they cut down the body of it, yet it grew again: they pluckt up the roots of it, yet it grew again: till at last the stone wall and all was fain to be pulled down: Even so it is with vaine thoughts in the heart; a man may lop them off by godly sorrow; he may cut them down, and root them up by mortification, and yet they will be sprouting up, and rising up again; till the whole body of sin be pulled down, and destroyed in a man. Gregory speaks of them, and saith, man may pluck them up, but yet not so but that they will rise again.

The consideration hereof should humble us, and make us lowe in our own eyes: Oh then think with thy self and say, Oh that my thoughts should be so base, earthly and vain! what, have I not a God, a Christ, a heaven to think upon? have I not excellent Commandments of my God, and thousands of sweet and precious pro­mises in Scripture to think upon? and must I be thinking on every bable? of every straw, not worth the thinking on? Take the Apostles ex­hortation, Whatsoever things be true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, what­soever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any [...]ertue, if there be any praise, think on these things: Phil. 4.8. What, are there so many vertuous things; so many holy and pure things; so many admirable and glorious things-so many heavenly graces, and divine promises▪ [Page 111] so many blessed passages of holy Writ to take up my mind? and shall I spend my thoughts and time upon such vaine and cursed things as wil yeeld me no profit? This should astonish the hearts of Gods people, and greatly humble their souls.

Vse 2 The second Use may serve for matter of con­demnation unto the wicked: let this doctrine strike terrour into the hearts of those men, that suffer their hearts to be taken up with vaine thoughts: as Peter said unto Simon Magus, so let me say unto them, Repent of this thy wicked­nesse, and pray unto God (vers. 8.) that if it be pos­sible, the thoughts of thy heart may be forgiven thee. The Apostle doth not onely wish him to repent of his simony and briberie, but also of the least vain thoughts of his heart: pray unto God, if perhaps the very thoughts of thy heart may be forgiven thee: for beloved the very least vaine thoughts that thou thinkest, without repentance is impardonable: there is an impossibility of re­mission of vain and idle thoughts without true repentance.

Oh what fearfull news is this to the world that lay not this to heart! Beloved, may we not now run into the eares and hearts of all earthly men with this point, whose minds and thoughts are earthly? Is it so that he whose thoughts run habitually on the world, his end is destruction? Then they that make no conscience what their thoughts are, what their imaginations are, what they think of as they goe up and down, how can [Page 112] such escape the vengeance of hell? Tell me then what thy thoughts are; are they not of thy hawks and hounds, of thy cattell and grounds, of thy gardens and orchards, rather then of Christ? When thou walkest in the streets, whereon run thy thoughts, but on thy pleasures, and profits, and earthly delights? yea of every vanity, and every delight canst thou think, rather then of God and his Commandments. Thou comest to Church, thou prayest, and hearest the Word of God; but do not vain thoughts come along with thee? thou goest home again, but do not vaine thoughts haunt and dog thee?

It is the brand of a wicked man, not to have God in all his thoughts, Psal. 4.10. when goods and cattell, plough and cart, pleasures and out­ward contentments are in his mind and thoughts; when ruffs and cuffs, houses and dishes, tables and faire hangings, or any thing but God can take up their thoughts; they can have thoughts of every thing, but of God they can think none; this is the brand of a wicked man, that he hath no bloud of a Christian in him.

It is a true description of a Pagan and Infidel, that hath no knowledge of Christ, to be vain in his imaginations, Rom. 1.21. When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, but became vain in their imaginations: vaine in their disputes, vain in their reasonings, vain in their thoughts; in their carriages and disputations; so then though thou knowest God, and hast things enough in thy mind, that convinceth thee that [Page 113] this God is to be worshipped; and understandest the worship of God, and the commandments of Christ: yet if thou glorifiest him not as God, gi­ving thy heart and affections to him but art vain in thy imaginations, thou dishonourest God. Hear what God saith unto such, All the day long have I stretched out my hand unto a rebellious and gain-saying people, which walk in a way that is not good, but after their own thoughts, a people that pro­voke me continually to my face. Isa. 65.2, 3. As if God had said, I sent Prophet after Prophet, Mi­nister after Minister, to instruct them in the knowledge of my wayes, I laboured to convert them, and to bring them home unto my self, and to work better thoughts in them; but still they are a people that walk after their own thoughts, that provoke me continually unto my face. There is never a thought of thine, but it is in the verse face of God, both thought and imagined.

But some man may say, I think of God and of Christ, of faith and repentance, and of calling on God, of mending of this and that course; I think of death, and of my last account and every foot I have holy thoughts in my mind.

But beloved, give me leave, I pray you, for to speak something unto you, which, it may be, may stick by you while you live: I will pro­pound these foure things and distinctions unto you, which I will use.

First, what doest thou think of God and of heaven? then tell me whether thy thoughts be injective thoughts into thy heart, or thoughts [Page 114] raised by thy heart; for there is a great deale of difference betweene thoughts injected and thoughts raised: God casts good thoughts into a godly mans heart, which being fit soyl, it fructi­fies, and brings forth fruit. Again, God casts good thoughts into a wicked mans heart, but be­cause his heart is not sanctified, and therefore no fit soyl to harbour in, they die and vanish: God casts in, and they cast out: God casts in again, and they cast out again: therefore if thou hast good thoughts, examine and try whether they be thoughts raised from thy heart or no; see whether thy heart be a renewed heart, a sanctified, an holy heart, fit to bring forth good thoughts every day. Beloved, a wicked man may have a thou­sand good thoughts, and yet go to hell in the midst of them all. God cast a good thought into the heart of the King of Babylon to go against Judah and Jerusalem for to punish his people for their sins, and to avenge himself on them for the breach of his Covenant: but what saith the text? Reas 1 Howbeit he thought not so. Isa. 10. No, his on­ly ayme was how to get honour, how to inrich, to enlarge his territories, and to bring down the Nations under him, and to make his name and fame to be spread, and declared through all the world. So God casts many good thoughts into many a wicked mans heart to repent, and to leave his drunkennesse, his pride, his swearing and whoring, to be holy and religious: howbeit he thinks not so, but he thinks how to eate and drink, how to be proud and haughty; how to [Page 115] be rich and great in the world; how to be vain and licentious: yea thy thoughts are vile and vain all the day long.

Oh that men were wise truly to understand this! the want whereof is the cause why many thousands go to hell and are damned for ever. I will make it plain to you: A wicked man rea­sons thus with himself; I confesse, and it is true, I sinne every day against God, and sometimes drink a pot with my friend, though sometimes I let fall an oath, and am overtaken in my infir­mities▪ yet I thank God, he hath sanctified my heart; for I think of God and of Christ, and I oft call upon his name, and let my thoughts run on good things; God and heaven are many times in my mind, and I am sorry when I do a­misse, and the Lord hath blest me with a large portion of outward things. Besides I see these and these signes of grace in me, and therefore I think my case to be happy. And thus securely they live, and so they go on, and so they die, and so go to hell and perish for ever and ever. Here is the misery of it, many think of God, and of Christ, of death, and of their last account, of hea­ven, of hell, of faith, and repentance, of leaving sinne, of crucifying their lusts, and practising of holinesse. Now men think that their thinking of these things, is a part of their discharge, when indeed they are Additions to, and peeces of their talents, which increase their judgements. God casts in a thought of repentance, of holinesse, of the remembrance of death, and last account: [Page 116] Dost thou find thy heart never the better and ho­lier by them? Then know it is only Gods haun­ting of thy heart, and Gods calling upon thee, and Gods inviting thee unto repentance, to leave thy sinnes, to come out of thy deadnesse and formality, to prepare for thy death and judg­ment; and therefore I say, if thy heart now think not so, if thy heart do not repent, beleeve, and grow more zealous, and thou art not drawn the neerer to God; I say then, that the more of these good thoughts that thou hast had, the greater thy doome will be: if thou hast had ten thou­sands of them, if they have beene onely Gods haunting of thy heart, think thou then now of grace, of God, of thy poor soul, which is not bettered by them, nor made holy, then know they are peeces of thy talent, and it doth make thy torments in hell the greater.

2 Secondly, thou hast good thoughts, but the question is, whether they be fleeting or abiding thoughts: Many think of God, of grace, of hea­ven, of the word of God; and when they heare a Sermon, they will think of God; but these thoughts, though they come into their minds, yet they go away presently, they are in and out at an instant, in a trice, they passe away and are gone. Beloved, there are two kinds of vaine thoughts; 1. vaine, because the substance and mat­ter of them is vain, and so all worldly thoughts are vain: 2. or else for their want of durance and lasting: and so are all thoughts of heaven, of God, and grace, and of Christ, it they vanish away, they [Page 117] are all vain thoughts, though they seeme other­wise. Haer what God saith, Gen. 6.5. God saw that the wickednesse of man was great upon the earth, and all the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart were only evill continually: [all the imaginations] great is the emphasis of this word [all] all the thoughts: yea all universally, are only evill con­tinually.

But you will say unto me, Doth not a wicked man think that there is a God: why, that is a good thought; doth he not think that this God is to be observed and worshipped? why, this is a good thought; doth he not think that sin is to be forsaken? that is a good thought; doth he not think of heaven, and of Christ? how then are their thoughts only evill and that continually?

I answer, because all the thoughts of a wick­ed mans heart are vaine: that is, vanishing thoughts, not vaine for the matter, which some­times may be good and holy, but vaine because they soone vanish away; thoughts that come and tarry not, that leave no impression in their hearts behind them, these are all vaine thoughts, ac­cording to that of the Apostle, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vaine: 1 Cor. 3.20. Beloved, in a godly mans heart, when a good thought comes, it abides and dwels a good while in him; and when it goes away it leaves a good impression behind it; it leaves a sweet smell and savour in the heart after it is gone, It's made more holy, and sanctified by it. When a good thought comes into a godly mans heart, [Page 118] it leaves the print of it behind: when a wicked man hath a good thought, he tosseth it up and down, and suffers it not to stay, but presently puts it away: let a thought of the world come in, and he can give it entertainment for seven dayes, yea for seven yeers, yea all his life he sets his heart as a wide gate open to receive them, and to entertain them: but if a thought of God, or of repentance, of holinesse and salvation come into his mind, he is tyred out with it, and it soon vanisheth away; therefore so long as thy thoughts are thus vain, though for the matter good, if thou hast never so many of them, yet if they abide not, but thou thinkest and unthinkest them again; if they come and give thy soule a jog, and so away; the more I say thou hast of them, though thou hast many millions, the grea­ter will be thy doom at the last day.

3 Thirdly, thou thinkest of God, but the que­stion is, whether thy good thoughts be studied, or accidentall thoughts; a wicked man that runs gadding in his thoughts here and there, over the whole world upon this and that, and I know not what, in the midst of a lottery of thoughts he cannot chuse but stumble upon some good: he thinks on God, he thinks on Christ, he thinks on heaven; but it is by the by, these thoughts of his are not naturall; but if he think of the world, of his pleasures, of his outward delights and contentments, these thoughts arise naturally out of his heart, they are his owne. Now it may be a thought of God comes by the way; But [Page 119] a godly man not onely thinks of God, but he studies how to think of God: It is his continuall endeavour to bring his mind to be fixed upon God; it is his whole care for to have good thoughts to dwell habitually in him. There is an excellent phrase used to set it forth, Malac. 3.16. They that feared the Lord spake one unto an­other, and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him of all them that feared the Lord, and thought upon his Name. Where I pray you for to mark, that think­ing upon Gods name, and the fear of God are joyn­ed together: for thinking on God, comes from the fear of God; a godly man thinks upon God and fears him; he thinks that God is alwayes with him in every place, and he trembles before him: he thinks God beholds all his thoughts and affections, and he trembles at him: he thinks as he walks up and down in his way, as he is im­ployed in his calling, as he is performing of any duty of Religion, that Gods eye is upon him and beholds him: and therefore he fears to of­fend and displease him. A wicked man will sweare and blaspheme the name of God, and by and by it may be he will cry God mercy, and so he thinks of God. The man breaks out it may be into wrath and malice, fury and passion; and then it may be a thought will come into his mind for to cry God mercy for it, and thus he thinks of God: The man is carelesse, earthly, dead, and luke-warme in the performance of good duties; and because his conscience tels him [Page 120] it is not good, he will ask God forgivenesse: he will be proud, vain and rotten in his speeches, and then it may be a thought will come into his mind to ask God forgivenesse, and so he thinks of God; he will think of the world, of his plea­sures, profits, and of his lusts and sinnes, and then it may be a good thought wil come into his mind, and then it may be he will think a little of God too. Beloved, this is carnall and devillish think­ing on God; thy thoughts then of God must bee joyned with the fear of God.

Fourthly and lastly, thou thinkest of God, but the question is, whether thy thoughts of him be pro­fitable or unprofitable thoughts: a godly man thinks of repentance, and repents upon it: hee thinks of calling upon God more faithfully and fervently then he did before: and he accomplish­es his thoughts: for he goes about it, and his heart is the better for it: Thus it was with Da­vid when he said, I thought on my wayes, and tur­ned my feet unto thy testimonies, Psalm 119.59. I thought on my wayes (there was his good thoughts) and turned my feet into thy testimonies, (there was the profit of his good thoughts.) But on the contrary thou thinkest on God, but God hath never the more service of thee: thou think­est of leaving of thy good fellowship, and mer­ry companions; but for all thy thoughts, thou retainest them still: thou thinkest to give over all thy deadnesse and luke-warmnesse, and to get more zeale and fervencie: yet day after day, and yeare after yeare, thy heart is as dead, vain [Page 121] and secure as before, as ever before. Examine thy selfe and see, thou hast good thoughts (thou saist) but where is the profit of them? thou thinkest of leaving thy wrath, and of bri­dlling thy filthy passions: but art thou enabled by thy thoughts to put up an injury the better? It may be thou thinkest on death; but is thy life the more holy and sanctified by it? Thou thinkest of Christ and his bloud; but is thy heart purged by it? Oh the wretched misery of the most men in the world, because of the unprofitablenesse of their thoughts! they have many good thoughts, but they want the profitable use of them, they get no good by them.

There is an excellent description of the thoughts of wicked men (though it be Apocry­pha,) The heart of the foolish is like a Cart wheel, and his thoughts like the rowling Axletree. As the Cart wheele goes round all the day, and yet remaines on the Axletree; so is it with wicked men, their thoughts wheele and wheele them up and downe a thousand thousand times, their thoughts run upon this thing, and then upon another thing, and so they rowle up and down continually, yet their heart is at the same passe it was still; an earthly heart it was, and so it is still, a profane heart it was, and so it is still; a carnall proud heart it was, and so it remains still; But let these know, that the time hastens wherein God will judge them even for their very thoughts.

Where are they then that say thought is free? It 2 is true indeed, it is free from mens knowledge, [Page 122] and from mens Courts but not from Gods; they are not free from Gods all-seeing eye, and know, ledge. Thou hast tried me and known me [...] [...]aith the Prophet) thou understandest my thoughts afarre off, Psal. 139. Beloved, as you are in the Ale-house, or gaming house, as you walk abroad in the fields, as you are employed in your callings, or about any holy duty, God seeth all thy thoughts what is going in, and what is comming out: there is never a thought in thy heart, but God sees it; how then can thoughts be free? God will weigh the thoughts of men, Prov. 16.2.

Beloved, what a fearfull day will that hee, when God shall take his Scales and weigh (no mans bodies and estates, for then it may bee that rich men and fat and grosse men will out-weigh them that are better:) but he will take mens thoughts and weigh them, hee will weigh their soules: he will take mens good thoughts, and put them into one scale, and their bad, earthly, carnall, and unprofitable thoughts, into another scale, and to try which weighes heaviest: Now if thy earthly and sinfull thoughts weigh hea­viest, then down thou goest into eternall dam­nation.

2 Secondly, as thoughts are not free from Gods knowledge, so are they not free from Gods Word; for Gods word can meet with them: for it is lively and mighty in operation, and is a descerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, Hebr 4.12. Doth the word of God discern the thoughts of mens hearts? Then much more doth the God [Page 123] of this Word, and therefore how can thoughts be free?

3 Thirdly and lastly, they are not free from the condemnation of hell and damnation. I am hee (saith God) that searcheth the hearts and reins, and I wil give to every one of you according to his works; or as some translations have it, according to your thoughts: Rev. 3.23. Now if God will so se­verely punish thoughts, take heed then how thou tetainest any evill thoughts.

I should here give you some means in the use, that so you might rid your selves from vain thoughts.

Means 1 First, love the word of God, if ever thou wilt come out of them; prize the truth of God, and labour to get thy mind and thoughts to be [...] set on better things; and then the thoughts of the world, and all vain things will vanish away. This course the Prophet David took, Psal. 119.113. I hate vain thoughts, but thy Law do I love. How came it to passe that he hated vain thoughts? namely, by loving Gods Law: if he had not loved Gods Law and those excellent things therein, and set his heart on them; hee could ne­ver have hated vain thoughts: The way then to break of thy league with vain thoughts, is to be in league with good thoughts. Dost thou com­plain of vain thoughts in prayer, in hearing the word, in receiving of the Sacraments, and art thou stuffed and filled with them, that thou canst not think: upon God and holy things? thou dost here by bewray thine own rottennesse and [Page 124] corruption. And therefore know, that if thou lovest the Lord and his Word, and didst set thy thoughts upon him, thou wouldst never have them so much employed about such base things.

2 Secondly, if ever thou wouldst rid thy heart of vain thoughts, especially when thou art in holy action, thou must goe unto God by prayer; there is no greater bridle to restrain a man from vain thoughts, then this consideration, that hee is to goe to God. I speak not this to the men of this world: Carnall men, who can rush into Gods presence hand over head, without any fear or reverence, they can set upon any duty without any preparation: but I speak it to the godly man, whose heart dreads and stands in awe of God: Wilt thou let thy mind rove and run all the day on worldly things? how then wilt thou call upon God? Dost thou not know that this is the cause of thy dulnesse, thy deadnes and wandrings of thy heart, when thou art about any good duty, namely, because thou sufferest thy heart to be lashing out, and roving abroad on the world all day, no marvell if it keep his haunt at night: and therefore thy heart being vain God will never hear thy prayer, Job 35.13. God will never bear vanity. Comest thou to God with a vain prayer? God will never hear it. Comest thou with a vain eare to the hearing of the Word? God will never hear it; or with a vain heart to the Sacrament? God will not regard it. Lay this seriously to thy heart, if ever thou [Page 125] wouldst have thy heart to the duty thou art a­bout, busie thy mind upon good things; for if thy heart be accustomed to vain and worldly things all the day, it is no marvell if it returne to its haunt again at night.

Thirdly, consider that you have not so learned Christ: It is the Apostles argument, Ephes. 3. con­sider then what you have learned of Christ; hath Christ taught you so? hath Christ taught you such a love, and given you such a liberty, that you should love the world more then him, and imploy and bestow all your thoughts wholly in seeking after vain things? Hath Christ taught you such a faith as this? Hath Christ taught you such a repentance as this, to have your thoughts more upon the world then upon Christ? to re­pent of sin, and yet never forsake sinne? Have ye so learned Christ? Hath he not taught you such a faith as purifieth the heart, such a sanctification as cleanseth the soul and the minde, such an obe­dience as bringeth every thought into subjecti­on unto himself? Therefore if now thou shouldst still retain thy vain, dead, earthly and carnall thoughts, it is not to learn Christ: Christ teacheth thee no such doctrine, nor giveth thee any such licentious libertie; but thou learnest of the Devill, and of thine owne heart: for all e­vill and vain thoughts arise from these three heads.

1 First, from the variety and abundance of the thoughts of the world, which our Saviour calls the cares of this world.

[Page 126] 2 Seconly, from the fountaine of corruption in mans heart, the heart of man being alwayes like a sink, naturally running with filthinesse, or like a living quickset, alwayes bearing: so is it with the heart of man, alwayes imagining vain thoughts.

3 Thirdly, from the damned malice of the Devill, and his fearfull suggestions and temptations both within and without: the Devill is fitly called a tempter and trier; for by these suggestions and temptations he feels and tries mens hearts; and thereby knowing to what they are most inclined, and which way they are soonest overcome, ac­cordingly he fits his temptations for to intrap them. Now these thoughts are infinitely varia­ble, according to the constitution, place, quali­ty, passions, affections, and conditions of men: as of the poor man in his beggery, of the rich man in his abundance, of the Minister in his cal­ling, of the Magistrate in his, and so of all other men. Now the whole world is not able to fill the heart; how then shall we number the thoughts of it? But for the better understanding, we will rank them into these four heads, to show how thoughts become vain.

1 1. Materially, mens thoughts are vain, when the matter of them is vain.

2 2. Formally, when though for the matter they are never so good, yet the manner of thinking them is evill.

3 3. Efficientially, when the man that thinks them is vain.

[Page 127] 4 4. When it is a thought that might become the best Saint upon the earth, or a glorified An­gel in heaven; yet the drift of the soule being carnall and vain, the soule thereby becomes vain also.

1 First then materiall vaine thoughts, are all thoughts of the world, of the works of thy cal­ling, of thy recreations, eating, drinking, sleep­ing, thoughts of thy wife and children, and the like; they are vain thoughts, not sinfull neces­sarily, yet they may come to be sinfull five man­ner of wayes.

Manner. 1 First, when we think of them primarily, that is, in the first place, when we think of them be­fore we think of God. Tell me then, what are thy first thoughts in the morning? Hereby a man may know his thoughts whether they bee good or evill. Consider, I say, what it is that first presents it selfe unto thy thoughts: certain­ly, that which the heart is most haunted withall, and most taken up with, is most naturall unto it: If the heart be carnall and earthly, it will have carnall and earthly thoughts: if it be a godly and gracious heart, it will labour to make God the first in his thoughts. I know the godly man fails in many things, and many unruly thoughts in him may rebell; but it is the very griefe of his soule, and he will never rest nor be at quiet, till he hath got Balm from Gilead, strength from Christ for the subduing and crucifying of them, even of those vain and sinfull thoughts that stick closest unto their hearts, and are most prone unto [Page 128] them naturally: so that it is the practice of a godly man first in the morning to lift up his heart with his hand unto God; and when he is up, his thoughts are wholly upon God. See this in Da­vid, who considering that the Lord was present everywhere, made this use of it, When I awake I am present with thee, Psal. 139.18. His heart was lifted up to God, he did endeavour to shake hands with God (as it were) in his holy medi­tations, worshipping and adoring God with his first thoughts: he would be sure to give God the flower and Maiden-head of his first service and thoughts; as soon as ever he was awake, his heart was in heaven. This shewes that the thoughts of men that [...]ive in their sins, are dam­nable thoughts? Thou that ar [...] a drunkard, a swearer, a profane person, a carnall worldling, that never hast repented, I tell thee, that the very thinking of thy meat and drink is damnable, the very thoughts of thy recreations and of thy sleep, are damnable thoughts: to think of the workes of thy calling, yea of setting thy foot upon the ground, or of any thing that God hath commanded thee for to doe, are all damnable thoughts. Why? Because thou givest not God thy first thoughts. Wilt thou think of thy bel­ly and back, before thou thinkest of God and how to be converted unto him? Wilt thou think of thy Markets and Faires, before thou [...]hinkest of thy reconciliation with God? The first thing that every soule is bound for to doe, is to get in with God: First seek the kingdom of God. [Page 129] saith our Saviour and the righteousnesse thereof, Matth. 6.35. Where our Saviour doth not forbid our taking of thought for the things of this life, but that they should not be sought af­ter in the first place; so that our first thoughts and endeavours should be after the Kingdom of heaven. Therefore all thoughts whatsoever, which are conceived before a man bee conver­ted, and so thinks of God, are all damnable thoughts.

Manner. 2 Secondly, all worldly thoughts are sinfull, when we think of them too usually (as Chrysostome speakes) because we think of the universalitie of them. Beloved, it is lawfull to think of the world and to think of our trade and imploy­ments, to think of our corn, of our cat [...]ell, fields, barnes, wives, children: for if God have com­manded or commended these things unto us, then surely he gives us leave to think on them, that so we may accomplish our businesse the better; but let us take heed they bee not too usuall with us: for we have soules as well as bodies, and there is a heaven as well as an earthly business to think upon: thou art not to live here alwayes, there­fore take heed that thy thoughts be not too usu­all and common upon the things of the world let not earth and earthly things have too much of thy thoughts. As the Prophet David seeing the thoughts of wicked men wholly to run af­ter the things of the world, he tels them, all their thoughts perish: and so I tell you, if that your thoughts on the world run together with heap [Page 130] and crowd, and then you bundle them up in bun­dles (as it were) they all prove damnable, and shall perish.

Manner. 3 Thirdly, worldly thoughts are sinfull and damnable, if thou thinkest of them too sa­vourly: a carnall-minded man thinkes savourly of the things of the world, the thoughts of earth­ly things are savoury unto them: a wicked man hee will thinke of God and of the world: but which is the savourest thought to him? He will think of Christ, of heaven, and of the word of God, and of such a Sermon he heard, but alas, hee finds no savour, taste, nor rellish in them; he finds no sweetnesse, joy, or delight in them: but when he thinkes of the world, of his gold and silver, of his lands and livings, Oh these are merry thoughts unto him, [...]hese are sweet unto him, and pleasant to him, and his heart is not at home in his own nest; he can think of these seven dayes, nay seven moneths, nay seven yeares together, and yet never be weary, but his thoughts as ful & as fresh as at the first: But bring him to a Sermon, or to a prayer, and he is jaded pres [...]ntly, his heart is empty, and his thoughts are at an end: For (saith the Apostle) they that are after the flesh savour the things of the flesh, Rom. 8, 5. It is a true note of an earthly, carnall, fleshly heart▪ to be thinking on earthly and vain things savourly. Thou maist think on the world, but it must be onely with a cast of thy thought [...], as one that looks upon a thing with a squint eye: but when thou art to think on God, or on the things [Page 131] of God; then thou must gather all thy thoughts and affections, thou must lay all the powers of thy soule together, and thou must imploy them on­ly to this work.

Manner. 4 Fourthly, worldly thoughts become sinfull, when we think of them without counsell; then (saith Solomon) they come to nought, when a man considers not afore-hand what thoughts are ne­cessary and needfull and so restraines and keeps off all impertinent thoughts: then his thoughts will prove distrustful, carking thoughts, caring for the morrow, contrary to the rule of Christ, Matth. 6.33. Take no care for to morrow, let to morrow care for it self. He doth not forbid here Christian provident thoughts: for godly, honest, and sober thoughts, are fitting and necessary, but he seems hereby to cut off all distrusting, carking thoughts.

Manner. 5 Fifthly, worldly thoughts come to be sinfull, when they are thought needlesly. And here I will shew how farre a man may think of the world; namely, so farre as his necessary busines requires. Suppose a mans businesse be upon mer­chandise, it is lawfull to think of it, and of his shop and wares; but if thou wouldest know how farre; why so farre as is it for thy busi­nesse; But if thou hast so many of them, that thy heart is taken up with them, and thy mind still on them, then they are sinfull thoughts. There is many a man that in following of his businesse bestowes more thoughts then his busi­nesse requires, he hath ten thousands of super­fluous [Page 132] thoughts; but let such remember the ex­hortation of the Wise man, establish thy thoughts by counsell: counsell will tell a man when he hath thought enough, and what thoughts are fit for his imployment. Not that any man can carry himself alwayes in that golden mediocrity or mean; but a Christians care must be daily more and more to pare off all superfluous thoughts of earthly things.

2 Now we come to the second thing: 2. Thoughts are vain formally, when though the matter of them be never so good, yet the manner of think­ing them is evill. It is possible that a wicked man go to hell, though he performes the same things for the matter of them, that a godly man doth: a godly man comes to Church, so doth a wicked man; a godly man prayes in his family, so doth a wicked man; a godly man reads the Scriptures, so doth a wicked man; a godly man repeats Sermons, and conferres of good things, so doth a wicked man. There is no work that comes to the outward act, that a god­ly man doth, but a wicked man may do the same: here onely is the difference, in the manner of working. I will set it out to you by a place of Scripture; In a great house (saith the Apostle) there are not onely vessels of gold, and of silver, but also of wood and of stone, some to honour, and some to dishonour, 2 Tim. 2.20. Mark how the Apo­stle here sets out the reprobate and the elect, comparing them to vessels of honour, and dis­honour: the vessels of dishonour are of the same [Page 133] matter that the vessels of honour are of: sup­pose it be pewter or silver, cast it into an honou­rable forme, and it will be a vessell of honour; but cast it into a dishonourable forme, and it will be a vessell of dishonour, for base and mean ser­vice; even so it is between a true Christian and a meer formall professor, the matter of their service is one and the same; suppose it be hea­ring the Word, or receiving of the Sacra­ments, prayer, or the like, the substance and action is the same; but take the same prayer, and let a godly man cast it in his forme, and it is holy and prevailes with God: let a wicked man take the same prayer, and cast it into his dishonorable forme, and it becomes sinfull, not regarded, and abominable in Gods eyes. For hearing of the Word of God, the godly man heares, and the wicked man heares; the matter in both is the same; the godly man he casteth the Word into a godly mould, he heares the Word, and he trem­bles at it; he heares the Word and beleeves it, he heares the Word, and his heart bowes to it, and resolves to practise it: a wicked man he heares the Word too, but he casteth it into a dishonou­rable mould, he heares it with deadnesse and dulnesse, without trembling, without faith and obedience. So a godly man may think thoughts of God, and so may a wicked man think thoughts of God, the matter of both is good; yet the thoughts of the wicked are vaine, though hee thinks of God, because he casteth it into his dis­honourable frame: he feares not God, his heart [Page 134] trembles not at God, but his heart is as full of dead earthly affections as before; he thinks of hearing the Word, but it is after his own fashion, he thinks of praying, but he prayes with his owne spirit, and not with the spirit of Adop­tion.

The Psalmist tels us, that the whoremaster, the drunkard, and the thief, thinks of God, but it is after his own fashion: Psal. 50.21. These things hast thou done (saith God) and I held my tongue, and thou thoughtest that I was even such a one as thy self: A wicked man goes on in his sins, and thinks that they are not so devillish and abo­minable, as some say that they are: and he thinks that God thinks so too; he is earthly, carnall, luke-warme, and dead-hearted, and if he repent at the last, he thinks all will be well, and hee thinks God is of the same mind too: he goes on in his drunkennesse, swearing, pride, and hypocrisie; and he thinks if he do but remem­ber to ask God mercy, and to cry, Lord re­ceive my soul, when he is going out of the world, he thinks he shall not go to hell, but be carried to the joyes of heaven, and he thinks God is of his mind, that God thinks so too: But mark what the Lord saith, I will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order before thee. Oh consider this you that forget God, lest he teare you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you.

3 Thirdly, mens thoughts are vain, when the heart that thinks upon them is earthly and vain; wherefore if all the wicked men in the world [Page 135] should lay their heads together to think a good thought, yet they cannot: for their hearts are vain hearts, sinfull hearts, they may think of excellent propositions concerning God, his worship, his word, and service; but so long as the heart that thinks upon them is carnall and vain, they cannot speak that which is good, as saith our Saviour: Matthew 12.34. How can you speak good things? Object. Why, may some man say? may not a wicked man read a Chapter in a Bible? are the words so hard to be understood, and pro­nounced? cannot a wicked man take a Sermon and read it, and hear a Sermon and repeat it? what are letters and syllables so hard to be pro­nounced?

Answ. I answer, (beloved) that is not the meaning of our Saviour [How can ye that are evill speak good things]: no, no, a wicked man may read Gods Word, and propound good questions, as well as a true Christian; but he cannot speak good words, that is, he cannot speak h [...]m from a good heart; and therefore his heart being car­nall and vain, good words in his mouth are as a jewell in a swines snout: It is a word indeed, but not a speech, when he reads or pronounceth Gods Word. Aristotle saith, that speech is no­thing but the expression of that that is within the heart. Now then, if the word and truth of God be not ingraffed in thy heart, if thy heart be not heavenly when thou speakest of heaven­ly things, thou dost pronounce them, but not speak them. But when thou speakest of earthly [Page 136] things then thou speakest to the purpose; be­cause thy heart is set upon them, and thy minde and the tongue goe together, there is no jarre or discord betwixt them: but if thy heart be not pure, though thou speakest good things, or holy things, yet in Christ sense thou speakest them not: For (say I) how can a vain, evill, corrupt heart think good thoughts? An evill tree cannot bring [...]orth good fruit (saith our Saviour); he doth not say, that an evill tree cannot be made good, for it may be graffed into anothe [...] stock; di­vers wayes there are to make it good: but so long as it is a corrupt tree, it cannot bring forth good fruit; Doe men gather grapes of thorns, or st [...]ges of thistles? Dost thou goe to a drunkard, and thinkest there to finde any religion in him? or to a whoremaster to finde grace in him? Dost thou goe to a swearer or a prophane person, and thinkest thou to find any feare of God in them? Indeed sometimes there may be some morall good found in them, but they are as a pearle in a dung-hill out of its place.

Fourthly, all mens thoughts come to be vain, when the drift and end of the heart and soule in thinking of them is vain.

But thou wilt say unto mee, the end of my good thoughts is Gods glory. What? is it not to Gods glory that we goe to the Word and Sacraments that we pray and give almes?

I answer▪ the end of every good work in it self is Gods glory; but is it the end of the worker, speaker, or thinker? I make no [Page 137] question but the end of a good action in it self, is the glory of God; so the end of prayer is the glory of God, the end of all preaching and Ser­mons is the glory of God, the end of giving of almes, and of all good thoughts, is the glory of God, but the end of the man that prayes and preaches, what is that? the end of the hearer and giver of almes, what is that? the end of him that speaks well, what is that? Beloved, must men have false and corrupt ends, which we will branch out into these three heads.

For the first▪ men will be thinking and plod­ding from morning till night of their worldly businesse: Now because they know they must think on God, to make God amends, perhaps they will think on him at night, when they have dishonoured him all the day. So men will swear and swagger drink and be drunk, and when they have done, say, Lord have mercy upon me, and so they think to make God amends. What (be­loved) will yee sweare, swagger, drink, be drunk, and lie, be secure and worldly, and then ask God forgivenesse to make him amends? This is to break Priscians head, that you may give him a plaister. Will you trespasse your neighbour, that you may ask him forgivenesse? This is a damned and devilish religion; yet this is the re­ligion of many men in the world, you shall have them keep daies and weeks and yeares in the observation of the times of Gods worship; they will keep the Sabbath in comming to Church, they will hear Sermons, pray and think of God: [Page 138] but all this is to make God amends for the wrong that they have done him: they know they have offended God, and therefore they will do something to make him amends: like those wic­ked men in Jeremies time, who did steale, murder, commit adultery, swear falsly, and burn incense un­to Baal; and walk after the gods whom they knew not, and then come and stand before God in his house, which was called by his name, and said, We are delivered, though we have done all these abominati­ons. As if God should say unto wicked men, What, will yee swear, steal, lie, and be earthly, giving up your selves unto all manner of lewdnesse in the breach and contempt of my commandements, and then think by making a prayer unto me, and by lifting up your eyes unto me, and by giving your eares to hear my word, thereby to make me recompence? No, no, I have showed thee, O man, what is good, Micah. 8.

2 Secondly, the end of mens thoughts is com­monly to collogue with God. Let a man be under the crosse, in calamity, pain, and misery, then God shall heare of him often, then he will think of God, and of his sinnes: nay, the beastliest wretch in a whole Parish, upon his sick-bed, then, Oh how will he call upon God, then send for the Minister, let him pray for me, read a chap­ter or some good book; then God shall have service upon service, then he shall have the first, second, and third course. But all this is but to be raised up again; and then when he hath re­ceived a little strength, he fall off again: like [Page 139] the Jewes, who when God slew them, they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God; neverthelesse they did but d [...]ssemble with him with their mouthes, and flatter him with their double hearts, Ps. 78.34. There is many a man that seeks to God, yea, that seeks to him with tears, and per­formes many a good duty, and yet he doth but flatter with God, he doth it but to curry favour with him: hee is afraid of sicknesse, crosses, plagues, and death, and curses upon him, if hee should not doe so: and therefore to prevent this, he will dissemble some service to God.

3 Thirdly, to smother and choake their owne consciences; their hearts think and tell them, they must think of God, their consciences tell them, that they must have some holinesse, some religion; that they must keep the Sabbath in some sort, that they must pray, and goe to Church: and hence it is, that the drunkard, swearer, whoremaster, will sometimes have thoughts of God, and will be performing some outward acts of Religion, Why? his consci­ence otherwise would not let him be at rest, but it is as the Devils bandog to drive him to it.

Thus when the Prophet commanded the peo­ple to worship the Lord, to reverence his name, to hallow his Sabbaths; their consciences told them that they must doe so, or else all the threat­nings of wrath and vengeance denounced by the Prophets would come upon them, Hence it is that the Lord by his Prophet exhorts, saying, Arise yee, and depart, for this is not your rest: your [Page 140] mind hath another haunt, you have this and that black lust, this is not your rest. Doth thy heart rest on God and good things? If thy heart be good and holy, so that it takes up its rest in God, and in Christ, then it is well; but if thou only turn­est aside to good duties, and fallest as it were by chance upon holy things; away, away (saith God) this is not your rest. Aristotle saith, that the being of a thing cons [...]steth in the end of a thing. Therefore if the end of thy thoughts and courses be earth­ly and vain, then certainly thy religion is earth­ly and vain. Thou goest up and down; what is it that thou lookest after? Is it that thou mai­est have grace, or that thou maist follow thy cal­ling, and get thy living? is it this that thou wouldst have, for which thou keepest such a dig­ging and scraping, and such a laying up? Then thy end is carnall and vain, and thy drift and end declareth the truth of thy soul, that it is carnall and vain.

THE JUDGEMENT OF THE WORLD By SAINTS at the last Day.

DELIƲERED And learnedly discovered in a Sermon preached By that vigilant and painfull Mini­ster of the Word, WILLIAM FENNER, B.D. Sometime Fellow of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, and late Parson of Rochford in Essex.

London, Printed by T.R. and E.M. for J.S.

A SERMON OF Mr. WILLIAM FENNERS Upon this ensuing Text.

1 Cor. 6. part of the 2d verse.

Know yee not that the Saints shall judge the World?

THE Corinthians thought Paul had converted many poore mean men amongst them, Chapter 1.26, 27. God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty: yet the Nobles, the Lawyers, the Counsellers, the chiefe men in the Citie, the Apostle had not con­verted one of them, or at the least very few. Brethren, you see your calling, who they are that be converted to the obedience of the Gos­pel of Christ from the evill of their wayes: 1 not many wise men after the flesh, not many [Page 144] rich not many noble, some few there be, here and there one; but for the most part they are a com­pany of poor beggerly Christians: Now (it seems) these poor Christians having controversies one with another, went to Law among themselves, and that before unbeleevers. The Apostle con­demnes this their going to Law, and would have them cease their suits and quarrels one against a­nother before the unjust and unbeleevers, and that by four Arguments:

1 First, by the shamefulnesse of it, verse 5. I speak it to your shame; as if he should say, Are you such fooles, that you cannot take up these matters a­mong your selves? that you cannot make refe­rences of your wrongs to mediate one to another, but that you must go to Law before unbelee­vers?

2 Secondly, from the scandalousnesse of it. It is a thing so scandalous and offensive to those that are without, that I wonder any of you dare be so bold as to go to Law one with another. What will the world think? What, are these the men that professe the Gospel? Are these they that have the Wisdome of God in them, and that are led by the Spirit of God? And have they no more understanding in them, then when they have any matter of controversie, they cannot end it among themselves, but must go to Law be­fore the unjust and unbeleevers? (as they terme them.)

3 Thirdly, from the uns [...]emingnesse of it, in the second verse. Do you not know that the Saints [Page 145] shall judge the earth? What? hath God made you Judges of the world, and doe you goe to be judged by the world? Or, as Ambrose speakes hath God appointed you to be Judges of the men in the world, and are you not fit to be Judges of the things of the world?

4 Fourthly, from the strangenesse of it; Dare any of yuu? He speakes interrogatively (vers. 1.) It is a strange thing that you should come to that impudencie against the Gospel of Christ; one would think that you should tremble and quake at such a thing as this is. What, is there never a wise Christian amongst you? never an under­standing professor that is able to take up a con­troversie, or decide and judge between his bre­thren? what a strange thing is this? Then hee backs it with foure Arguments.

1 1. Because they wre Brethren, vers. 6. Bro­ther goes to Law with brother.

2 2. Because it was about the things of this life What? hath God made you Judge of heavenly things, of Angels, and are you unfit to Judge of the things of this life?

3 3. It was ab [...]ut small matters (ver. 2.) where­as you shall sit upon men and Angels, and the weightiest matters in the world, the greatest things of Gods law, judging them to the greatest penaltie and punishment even to eternall dam­nation: and are yee unworthy then to judge even of the smallest matters?

4 4. And lastly, Because it was about such things, as the meanest Christian in the towne might have [Page 146] taken up, and have ended: Set up them that are least esteemed.

Doe you not know, that the Saints shall judge the world?

Doct. I need not goe far for a point, the word af­fords it; The Doctrine is; That the Saints shall judge the world.

It is an old truth, yea as old as the world it selfe▪ you may read it in the fourth verse of Judes Epistle: That Eno [...]h the seventh from Adam prophecied, saying; Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his Saints. God will not onely come to judgement himselfe, but he will come attend­ed with all his Saints, even with all the god [...]y, to execute vengeance upon all the world. So our Saviour told Saint Peter, and not onely him, but all that follow him in the regeneration: They shall sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Is­rael ▪ Mat. 9.18. They shall judge the Nations, and have dominion over the people, Wisd. 3.8.

Object. And now because doubt is the best way to attaine unto knowledge, let me answer a doubt, that may creepe in by the way; How shall the Saints judge the world?

Answ. Ans. Not by pronouncing of judgement upon the world, for that Christ alone shall do; Then shall the King say to them on his left hand, Depart yee cursed, Mat. 25. But the Saints shall judge the world these foure wayes:

  • 1 1. They shall judge the world, by their consent unto Christs judgement, God traines up his chil­dren in this world, & educates them, and tea [...]heth [Page 741] them how they may judge the world hereafter; he teacheth them in this life how to assent with his proceedings in the world; so that they are able to say, Righteous art thou, O Lord, and just are thy judgements ▪ Psal. 119.137. Now if the Saints be trained in this life to assent unto Gods proceedings with the world, much more then will they be able to know and consent unto Christs judgement, when he shall come with his Saints to judge the world: Now the Law saith, that consenters are agents: and therefore be­cause the Saints shall consent to the judgement of Christ, therefore they are said to judge the world.
  • 2 2. The Saints shall judge the world by their applause of Christs judgement: they shall not only give consent unto the judgment of Christ, but they shall also applaud it and commend it: when God shall say to all drunkards, swearers, lyers, Sabbath-breakers, and to all unbeleeving, impenitent, and graceles sinners, Depart yee cur­sed into hell fire, then though it were his owne fa­ther that begat him, or his mother that bare him, though it were his owne brother or sister, wife or child, that hath been as dear as his own life and soule to him; yet they shall clap their hands for joy, and applaud the most righteous sentence of God upon them; and they shall sing Hallelujah, salvation, and honour, and power, be to the Lord our God for true & righteous are his judge­ments, Rev. 19.1, 2. Let them goe accursed as they are; for it is a righteous sentence passed on them.
  • [Page 148] 3 3. They shall judge the world by their Maje­stie; they shall not only stand against the wick­ed, and consent to, and applaud that sentence that Christ shall passe against the wicked, but they shall be invested w [...]th robes of majestie, and with a diademe of glory: then shall the righte­ous shine as the starres in the firmament, and the wicked shall be amazed and astonished at the fight of them: as you may read in that platforme of judgement, Matth, 25. where Christ sets his Saints over against the world, that so the world may look upon them, and be confounded at their sight.
  • 4 4. They judge the world by their lives and conversations; (as Ambrose saith rightly) then is the world judged by them, when as the cour­ses and manners of the world are not found up­on them. Therefore it is a pretty observation of Hilary (if it be the meaning of the Text) (I will not say it is) upon the 2. Psalme; Be wise [...]ee Jud­ges: God hath appointed you to be Judges, to sit on his bench with his Sonne; learne then to be wise, get to be indued with spirituall wisedome and understanding, and to shine in all integritie and righteousnesse; and then turning his speech to the wicked, he say's, Kisse the Sonne lest he be angry, However it be yet this is a truth, that by the lives of his Saints, he will judge the world; there faith shall judge the worlds infidelitie: their repentance shall judge the worlds impeni­tency; their accepting of, and taking the Lord Jesus, shall judge their rejection and neglect of [Page 149] Christ Jesus, their zeale shall judge the worlds luke-warmnesse, and their holinesse shall judge the worlds prophanenesse.

Reas. 1 1. Bcause of the misticall union that is betwixt Christ and his Saint [...]; He is the head, and they are his members; now that which the head doth, we ascribe to the whole body; when the head speakes, the whole body speakes; when the head sees, the whole body sees: so when Christ judgeth the world, the whole body of Christ may truely be said to judge the world. As much as you did it unto one of these (saith Christ) you did it unto me: so in as much as Christ passeth sentence even all the members of the mysticall body of Christ judge with him.

Reas. 2 Secondly, in regard of compassion: I speak not of the word [compassion] as it signifies [pi­tie] but of compassion of suffering with Christ, seeing that Christ was reproched, contemned, ha­ted, misused, and condemned by the world, the Saints are likewise with him; seeing they pertake of the afflictions, humiliations, and debasements of Christ here▪ they shall also be made pertakers with Christ in his glory. Here the wicked judge the Saints, and call them hypocrites, and dissem­blers, and laugh and scoff [...] at them, and wonder at them, as the Prophet brings in Christ speak­ing. Esay. 8. Behold, I and the children that thou hast given me, are for signes and wonders in Israel: The wicked count them for wonders and mon­sters in the world, judging them hypocrites and liers, which have nothing in them but rotten­nesse [Page 150] and dissimulation. Now the rule of like for like shall take place here, and as they were judged by the world, so they shall be Judges of the world.

Reas. 3 Thirdly, for the great terror to all wicked men at the day of judgement: for as it is with a thiefe, not only when the Judge shall command to hang him, but all the Justices, and all the Countrey shall cry out, Hang him, hang him, he is judged the more terrible; so God will not onely say of all wicked and ungodly sinners, Damne them damne them, but he will have all the Saints in heaven, and all the Saints on earth to cry out, A­way with them, away with them, let them be damned, Psal. 50.4, 5. This will make their judg­ment so much the more terrible.

Reas. 4 Fourthly, the Saints shall judge the world, be­cause God will so convince them, that their mouthes shall bee stopped, they shall have never a syllable to excuse themselves withall, when they shall see men flesh and bloud as themselves are, when they shall see men and women, that have lived in the same towne, enjoyed the same Ordinance of God, lived in the same family, that did partake of the same blessings, and of the same crosses and afflictions with themselves, subject also to the same corruptions and sinnes as them­selves, when they shall see these at Christs right hand, they shall have never a word to excuse themselves withall: As when the Apostles had healed the creeple (Acts 3.) if the people had judged them for wicked and pestilent men, the [Page 151] creeple would have convinced them, and shew­ed that they were of God; if they should have cried, Root them out, the creeple would have condemned them, and told them, that they did good. And when the wicked shall see the Saints at Gods right hand, will they call them hypocrites and dissemblers? they themselves shall see, that they are sincere; will they call them Puritans? why, they shall then see that their pu­rity stands them in good stead: then the ungodly shall not stand in judgement, nor the sinners in the Congregation of the righteous, Psal. 1.6. Thus the point is clear.

Vse 1 The first Use then is for instruction, whereby we may learn, that the Saints by their now being Saints, doe now judge the world: if by the lives of Saints then God doth judge the world, then there is never a Saint in a town, or City, or Parish in all the Countrey, but he judgeth all the wicked that are about him: How? By living god­ly, by hating the sinnes of the times, by keeping his or their garments clean from the pollution of the world: For by doing this, he judgeth the world. See it in Noah, Heb. 11.7. By faith Noah being warned of God, as yet moved with feare, prepa­red an Ark for the saving of his house, by which he condemned the world.

Object. But some men will say, Could Noah be said to condemne the world by making the Ark? All the world did not see him when he did it.

Answ. Beloved, Noah making the Ark an hundred and twenty years, though it was not seen of all, [Page 152] yet all the world must needs baar of it, it being such a strange thing. Now he condemned the world, in that the whole world did not come unto Noah to enquire of him in sober sadnesse, but rather mock [...] him for building the Ark; they thought him to bee a peevish melancholy man, and not well in his wits, and so scoft at him, saying, Will he make an Ark to swim upon dry land? where­as they should have asked him soberly the cause why he did it; and if they had done so, Noah no question would have told them, that the wrath of heaven was upon the world, and that the floods of Gods vengeance were shortly to bee poured downe upon us: and, because my heart hath beene naught, and I have sinned and provo­ked the Lords wrath, I feare if I get not into this Ark which the Lord hath commanded me for to make, I shall perish. Now because they would not come unto Noah to ask him this reason, therefore the world was condemned by him: even so the Saints, by making an Ark for their poore soules, even by getting into Christ, (as the Ark was a type of Christ without whom none can be saved) the Saints, I say, by getting into Christ, do judge the whole world, when they hear there be men [...]hat be no swearers, and no drunkards, and that there bee men that will pray, read, heare the word, conferre of God and of Christ, and that weep and mourne for their sins, that spend their times in the mortification of their lusts, and en­devour after holinesse and sanctification; the whole world, I say, is judged by them. How? [Page 153] why, they should say: Sirs, what is the matter that you doe so run after Sermons? that you keep such a stirre about getting faith and repen­tance more then other men? that you pray, weep, fast, and mourne, and are so strict in your works? If thus men would but come unto Gods Saints, and ask them the reason of all these things, the Saints of God would tell them, that the wrath of God would come upon them if they did not do thus: they would never be saved, if they did not thus beleeve, and thus repent, and thus pray, and walk thus holily and precisely, they should be all damned. But the world it falls a mocking and a scoffing at them, and never seeks to prevent the wrath of God; but it suddenly sei­seth on them to their destruction.

2 Secondly, this teacheth us, that when there is any one sinner converted from the wickednesse of his wayes, and is become a Saint, then all the world may know that there is a new Judge come to sit upon them. Seest thou a drunkard, a swearer, a prophane person converted from his sinnes, and now walks soberly, holily, and purely? seest thou a man and a woman struck at a Sermon? Then know that unlesse thou com­est out of thy sinnes, unlesse thou doest repent, and walk holily, there is a new Judge added to the rest, that shall judge thee. As our Saviour told the Pharisees, If I through Beelzebub cast out Devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges, Matth. 12.27. where Christ tells them, that their children [Page 154] who were his Disciples (for some of the Phari­sees children did beleeve in Christ and follow him, and had power from Christ to doe the same workes that Christ did;) Now they liked it well enough in their owne children, but they could not endure it in Christ: and therefore hee tells them, that their children, whom God had con­verted, and to whom he had given power to doe the same workes that he did, even they shall bee their Judges to condemne them: And even so may it be with thee, thou that art a father or a mother, God having converted any of thine own children, that child shall be thy Judge and con­demne thee, if thou repent not. It may be God hath converted thy brother and sister, and thou art not converted; thy own brother and sister shall condemne thee, if thou doe not repent and come out of thy sinnes.

3 Thirdly, we may learn that it concerns all the world to take notice of every grace in Gods children, There is never a grace of God in any of his Saints but it shall condemne the world if it be void of it. The wayes of the Lord are all judgements, because they judge them that will not walk in them. Every grace, yea the very thoughts of the righteous are called Judgements by Solomon, Prov. 12. You may know a croo­ked thing by laying it to a straight line, and by that it is judged to be crooked: so the thoughts of the righteous which are right, holy and pure, shall judge the impure, unholy, and crooked thoughts of wicked men. Is the child of God [Page 155] humble? His humility shall judge thy pride. Is the child of God meek and patient in suffering of wrong and injuries? His meeknesse and pati­ence shall judge thy choler and revenge. Hath the child of God saith given him to beleeve in the Lord Jesus? His faith shall judge thy infidelity. Hath the child of God the spirit of prayer gi­ven him? It shall condemne thee that praiest on­ly with thine owne spirit. Hath he zeale? His zeale shall judge thy luke-warmnesse, Doth his speech and communication administer grace to the hearers? It shall condemne thee that speak­est of vaine and idle things. Yea, all the actions of the godly shall judge the wicked: and hence the Saints are said to doe Gods judgements, Zeph. 2.3. that is, they doe according to Gods judge­ments whereby he will judge the world: Thus they that do mourn, do judge them that do not mourne: they that bewaile their wicked­nesse, and the sinnes of the times, judge them that doe not: they that fast, weep, pray, and humble themselves for the miseries of the Church in these dreadfull dayes, they judge them that make no good conscience of their duties.

4 Fourthly, learne hence, that all the Texts of Scripture, all the whole word of God, that is it that begets these Saints, and therefore they must needs judge the world, the word of God begets mens hearts unto sanctification and holinesse, whereby they become the Saints: and therefore if they, then much more shall the Word it selfe judge the world: and hence it is that all the [Page 156] words of God in the Scripture, are called Judg­ments, Psal. 105.5. And our Saviour saith. The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day, Joh. 12.48. The word that I have spo­ken▪ where mark he doth not say, The word which you have heard: No there are many swearers, and drunkards, and prophane ungodly wretches, that will not come to Church to hear the word; there are many wicked men, and dead hearted worldlings, and rotten livers, that will not bee brought to hear Gods Word: it may bee at this present there is many whoremongers, drun­dards, and wicked persons, that wallow in their filthinesse? in the Ale-house, Game-house, or Drab-house; or in the fields, or beds, or at their sports. Well, this word that is now a preach­ing, whether they will hear it or no, shall judge them at the last day. Now all the wicked in Ashford, that heare the word of God calling upon them to repent, and to come out of their sinnes, but will not, or out of contempt of Gods word, will absent themselves from it; this word shall judge and condemne them. There is never a drunkard, swearer▪ or prophane person, though his pew be empty, but this word of God that denounceth the eternal wrath and vengeance of God upon them, if they come not out of their sinnes, this word shall rise up in judge­ment against them and condemne them eternal­ly. Oh that they could but hear it! but the word that I have spoken shall judge you, whether you heare it or not.

[Page 157] 5 Fifthly and lastly, hence it follows, that all the Ministers of God shall also judge the world. Sonne of man (saith God to the Prophet Ezekiel) wilt thou judge the bloudy City? Yea, thou shalt shew her all her abominations, Ezek. 22.2. As if he should have said, Sonne of man, they are drun­kards, wilt thou not tell them of it? They are whoremasters, wilt thou not tell them of it? They are filthy idolaters, wilt thou not tell them of it? They live in their sinnes, and in their a­bomination, and wilt thou not tell them of it? Sonne of man, tell them of all their abominations, and tell them that they shall go to hell, if they re­pent not, tell them that they are damned men if they go on, and come not out of their sinnes: Wilt thou not judge them (son of Man?) Beloved, there is never a Minister in England, nor ever a Sermon that is preached by them, but it judgeth every Parish, and every man and woman in the congregation, that do not labour to do what is commanded them, and leave undone what is for­bidden them: I say it judgeth them, or else it is a judgement unto them.

Vse. 2 This then serves to condeme three sorts of men in the world: First, all those that despise the Saints, and that see not amiablenesse in their faces. All the Countrey doth reverence the face of the Judge when he rides circuit; Let the Judge come into the Countrey, and all the Knights, Justices, and Gentlemen in the Countrey wil go out to meet him, and bow unto him; yet these Judges are but Judges of a few rogues, male­factors, [Page 158] and peasants of the Countrey: Alas, they are far from the dignity of the Saints? for the Saints shal judge Saints and Angels: all the world Kings and Queens, Lords and Nobles, and Cap­teins of the Earth, the poorest Saint in Christen­dome shall judge them. The Apostle, or rather our Saviour faith, to him that overcometh, and keep­eth my words untill the end, to him will I give power over the Nations, Rev. 2.26. Whatsoever he be, if he do the works of Christ, and walk in the Or­dinances of Christ, shall have power over the Nations, not onely to contemne their pomps and vanities, their lusts and corruptions, but also to convince their consciences, and to condemne their souls for ever.

2 2. Shall the Saints judge the world? Then what fooles are the wicked that prepare not for these Judges? When the Judge comes to an As­sise, all men prepare for him; the Constables make ready their Presentments, the Juries are warned, and the Clerks make ready their Bills, &c. sest the Judge should clap a fine upon them: and shall the Saints be Judges, and dost thou not prepare thy heart by grace? Dost thou not get purity and holinesse against that day? Surely, if thou dost not, the very Saints will judge thee un­meet for heaven, and fit only to have thy porti­on in hell. When Christ said, To him that over­cometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, Rev. 3.21. He addes, Let him that hath an eare heare: Will God make his Saints to judge the world? Then let all wicked men give eare and heare [Page 159] what God saith of his Church: The Saints shall judge the world: therefore let all men take no­tice of it, and prepare themselves for their judgement.

3 Lastly, It condemnes all those that doe not see glory and majesty in the faces of Gods Saints. There is majesty in the face of a Judge; yea a man may discover in them a kinde of a sove­raigne majesty. Even so the Saints of God have a majesty in their courses, in their looks, in their thoughts, and in all their wayes; and in all these they shall judge and condemne the wicked. The wicked may give the Saints nick-names and scorne, flout, contemne, and deride them now in this life, but let me tell them, that how lightly soever they esteeme of them, they shall be their Judges: They may cry out against the Saints, as long since the wicked Sodomites did against good Lot, Gen. 19.9. This fellow (say they) will be our Judge: Why, what had Lot done unto them? Alas, he did nothing, but when they would have done that Sodomish villany against the two An­gels that came to him, Lot went to them and said, I pray you my Brethren, do not so wickedly. So let the godly be in the company of wicked men, that abuse the good creatures of God; say, I pray you my brethren, do not so wickedly, be not drun­kards, be not swearers; brethren, I pray you do not so vainly, nor so prophanely use the name of God in your mouths; I pray you my brethren, doe not prophane Gods Sabbaths; doe not lie, doe not cheat, nor cozen; if you do these and [Page 160] these things, the wrath of God will plague us for it, Oh then presently they cry out, Who made you our Judges? As once the Hebrews did of Moses, Act. 7.39. Dost thou call Saints hypo­crites and dissemblers, men that judge before the time? Thou foole, wert thou not as good to suf­fer the Saints to judge thee now, whereby thou mayst see thy wretchednesse and misery, and by faith and speedy repentance prevent that doome, which otherwise they tell thee will come upon thee, as hereafter, when if thou hast not repen­ted, thou shalt never escape that doome and ven­geance, to which the Saints shall judge thee? What, wilt thou not suffer them to call a drun­kard a drunkard? an adulterer, an adulterer? a blasphemer, a blasphemer? a carnall man, a car­nall man? a worldly man, a worldly man?

It is a pretty observation out of Cyprian, that because Christ did reprove all sorts of religions, and spared none, he reproved the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Lawyers, the Souldiers, &c. and yet doth not reprove the Priests, because they were Judges of the people, not because he durst not, but he would not: If thou revilest the Saints, thou revilest thy Judges. Take heed then, how thou casts the least aspersion upon the Saints; do not say, they are rash Judges, uncharitable censu­rers, dissembling hypocrites; for they shall be your Judges. O that the people would hearken & be admonished in time, to prevent this judge­ment. Our Saviour saith, that this is the condem­nation, that light is come into the world and men hate [Page 161] it, Joh. 3.19. But the children of God, whom God calls the light of the world, these lights are come into the world, and men love darknesse more then the light. How can the wicked escape dam­nation, that have so many thousand Judges to condemne them? If the malefactor that is Indi­cted for murther or felony, cannot escape con­demnation, that hath but one Judge to sit upon him: thou that art a wicked man, living in thy sinnes without Christ, how canst thou escape, that hast so many millions of Saints to judge thee, yea from Adam the first, till the last Saint that shall be upon the earth? Surely the wicked shall never escape condemnation: for,

1 1. God the Father who judgeth by way of au­thoritie, he will condemne thee; all judgement cometh originally from him; he that hath often commanded thee to repent, and to come out of thy sinnes, he shall condemne thee, because thou hast not obeyed him.

2 2. God the Sonne, he will judge thee, who judgeth by way of dispensation, Act. 10. First Christ preacheth to thee repentance and remis­sion of sinnes, to which if thou yeeld not, then know, that there is a day appointed, wherein he will judge thee. That Saviour that thou sayest thou desirest, if thou part not with thy lusts, he himselfe will be thy Judge that will condemne thee.

3 3. God the holy Ghost will judge thee; that Spirit that now strives and wrestles with thee, that suggests good motions into thy heart, that [Page 162] puts thee in minde of repentance, bidding thee leave and forsake thy sinnes, and live holily, but if thou wilt not, this Spirit shall judge thee by way of conviction.

4 4. The Word of God shall judge thee, and that by way of forme, it being the platforme, ac­cording unto which Christ will judge the whole world. Now suppose there be forty prisoners in the Gaole together, one in for murther, ano­ther for theft, another for treason, (that man that knows the Law, if there be equitie and ju­stice in the Assise) he, I say that knows the Law, knows who shall be hanged, or quartered, or burned, or set free; even so, Beloved, that man that looks through the Scriptures, that reads this or that Chapter, this or that sentence, may know that or this man will to hell, if he repent not. Say I this of my selfe? or sayes not the Scrip­ture as much? The fearfull, and unbeleeving, and all that love and make lies, shall be cast into that lake that burneth with fire and brimstone for ever, Rev. 21.8. By this text will the Lord Iesus come and judge the world: and therefore as for all such as live and dye in their sinnes, we may all know, that they shall be all damn'd in fire & brimstone for ever. Hereby I know that all they that make no conscience of idle, vain and earthly speeches, and reproachfull words, they shall give an ac­count for them by this Text, Mat. 12.56. Doth the Scripture say, that all the wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the Nations that forget God? I know it shall be so by that text, Psal. 10. for all [Page 163] things shall be done according to the Scriptures Rom. 2.16. In that day (saith the Apostle) when God shall judge the secrets of men [...] hearts by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel; that is, just as Gods Ministers preach; just as you find it written in the same Scriptures, so will he judge at that day.

Beloved, there is never a Text throughout the whole Scripture, that commands you to leave and forsake your sinnes, but it shall judge you, if you doe not: there is not one Text of Scripture, that commands performance of any holy duty, but it shall rise up in judgement a­gainst thee, if thou performe it not. Doth the Scripture say, Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excesse? Eph. [...].18. It shall judge and condemn the drunkard that drinks excessively. Doth the Scripture say, Mortifie your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleannesse, inordinate affecti [...]n [...] evill concupiscence, and covetousnesse, which is Idolatry? Col. 3.5. If notwithstanding these sinnes live in thee this Text shall rise up and condemne thee to hell. Doth the text say, That the fathers to the children shall make known Gods truth, Esa. 28.9. Eph. 6.4. Parents bring up your children in the nurture and information of the Lord? It shall rise up in judgement and con­demne those parents that have not instructed their children to feare God. Doth the tex say, Thou shalt teach the word of God unto thy children and that thou shalt tal [...]e of it when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou go [...]st by the way, when thou [Page 164] liest down, and when thou risest up? Deut. 6.7. It shall judge thee, because thou makest no con­science of holy conference. All these and the like Texts of Scripture, shall rise up and stand in rank to condemne thee, that hast not swayed thy heart, and framed thy life according to the Scriptures.

5 5. All the Ministers of God shall sit as Justices in common (from the first Preacher of righte­ousnesse unto the last.) Moses shall judge thee, Joshua, David, Esay, Jeremy, Hosea, Daniel, Paul, Peter, &c. they shall all judge you: just as Gods Ministers judge you here, so will God; he will take all their Sermons, and clap them upon the heads of all rebellious hearers, and so damn them for ever.

6 Lastly, The Saints shall judge you; yea, all the Saints from one end of the world to the other, they shall assist the just Judge of heaven & earth, and they shall be interpretive Judges.

Beloved how can the wicked escape condem­nation, that have so many thousands of Judges, so many thousand exhortations and reproofes, so many thousand admonitions and invitations, so many thousand mercies & proffers of Christ? When God the Father, Sonne, and holy Ghost, shall judge them, when heaven and all the An­gels in heaven, and all the Saints on earth, shall judge them, and condemne them? How canst thou escape? Is there never a drunkard in this congregation? Is there never a swearer? ne­ver a prophane person? never a mocker? ne­ver [Page 165] a railer in this towne, that refuseth to hear­ken to the word? The men of Niniveh shall rise up in judgement against them, and condemne them, because they still live in their sinnes, not­withstanding they have had not three dayes preaching, nor fortie dayes space onely for re­pentance, but many years of grace calling upon them. The Queen of Sheba shall condemne many that live in these sinnes, who went many hundred miles to hear the wisedome of Solomon (for going and comming, it was well-nigh two thousand miles) but you have the word of Christ preached in your eares, and saying, the Kingdom of God is come among you; but you will scarce step out of your dores to receive it, or take any paines for it. This one woman shall judge them. There will be no way for the wicked to put off their judgement: then the sonnes of Eli shall have none to advocate between God and them, none to cloke or cover their wickednesse; they shall then have no excuses for themselves: for would they excuse themselves? the Saints shall judge them: would they send out excuses? the Saints shall cut them off.

Would they in the first place say, Alas! I was ignorant, I knew not how to pray, or to read, or to meditate on the Scriptures, nor to chatechize my family; I was dull and blockish to conceive such points as were taught me; and if I did live in sinne, it was ignorance that taught it me, I was never book-learned? Saith Augustine, this Ignoramus that was as ignorant and as little [Page 166] book-learned as thou, he eschewed those sinnes that thou livest in, got the anointing of Gods Spirit to anoint his eyes, to see and know the things of God which thou hast neglected to get; he shall condemne thee.

A second excuse is poverty. I have no means to live on; if I should run after Sermons, I should beg my bread: I have a great charge to keep, and nothing but my labour to maintaine them: and therefore I cannot spare time for meditati­on; I have no while to study the Scriptures, to pray and to mourn for my sins, and to get grace. Well, the poore Cobler that liveth next doore to Saint Anthony, shall rise up and condemn thee; hee was as poore as thou, and had as great a charge to keep as thou: yet hee mourned and wept, he got grace, and hee set time apart for prayer, reading, meditation, holy conference; he shall judge and condemn thee.

Thirdly, they shall have no excuse by imploy­ment; I am a servant, I am commanded to doe this or that I find so much businesse to follow, that I cannot find any time for such things. A­nother saith, I have great imployments, I have many Irons in the fire, and therefore God, I hope, will be mercifull unto me. Well then, Cor­nelius that had as many and as great imploy­ments as thou, and Eleazar (Abrahams servant) who was a servant as well as thou, yet in as much as they walked with God, and waited upon him in his ordinances, they shall judge thee.

[Page 167]Fourthly, they shall have no excuse from their callings and trades, I am an Inne-keeper, and if I should not suffer drinking, and swear­ing, and gaming, I should not live. Another saith, I am a tradesman & if I should ask at first just so much as I could take, I should never bring customers to my price, and so I should not live of my trade. Well, Rahab was an Inne-keeper, as well as thou, and yet shee lived by faith, and did not suffer such wickednesse in her house. So may a tradesman, that had the same trade, and the same imployment with thee, and as great a trade as thou, and yet have avoided these sinnes and evils that thou fallest into: they shall judge thee.

Fifthly, they shall have no excuse from the times they live in. Alas (saith one) I live in wretched times, all the world is given to sinne. Therefore if I should be so strict and precise in my wayes, if I should run after Sermons, pray, sing Psalmes &c. all the world would be against me. There are no Professors of religion but are reproached and miscalled I should lose all my friends, I should be hated and opposed; yea, it may be (the time beeing such I should be accu­sed to Councels, and have my life questioned; there is nothing but disgrace and reproach and persecution; wherefore I was afraid, and did dispense with my conscience. Ah wretch! that man that lived in those wicked times in the same town with thee that had the same hatred and reproach that thou wast afraid of, that hath [Page 168] endured all the rebukes of Christ that thou wast ashamed of, yet he went on, and continued unto the end; he shall judge thee.

Vse 3 The use is for the just reproof of many of the Saints of God, because they are not so circum­spect and watchfull over their wayes, as they ought. Dost thou judge others (saith the Apostle) and yet dost the same things thy selfe? Rom. 2.2. So may I say to all such, Will you give way to sinne? will you suffer your lusts and corrupti­ons to sway you, and not endeavour to root out or kill them rather? How wilt thou then judge the world? How wilt thou then be able to rise up in judgement against the wicked, to judge them for such sinnes wherein thou allowest and livest thy selfe? Surely God will never account thee for a Saint, if he cannot judge the world by thee. Oh this should rent the heart and bowels of those that go for Christians, that go for Saints, yet live not as the Saints should live. If God cannot take thee, and judge the world by thee; if he cannot take thy life, and judge the life of all Pagans, Infidels, all luke-warm earth­ly, and secure sinners, he will not account thee for a Saint. This then first condemnes all unho­linesse in the lives of them that be Saints. Belo­ved, if we did but live like the Saints of God in holinesse and purity in the wayes of God, the Lord would put such splendor and glory upon us, that would even daunt the very face of our e­nemies, and make them stand amazed at Saints. But it is the contrary with us, the glory of God [Page 169] is departed from us, Spain, France, and other Nations fear us not: Why? The righteousnesse and purity of Religion is departed from us. For you shall have a Saint come into the com­pany of a wicked man, and yet the swearer will not be afraid to swear before him: the drun­kard will not be afraid to bee drunk before him: the filthy speaker will not be afraid to utter rot­ten speeches before him: the lier will not be a­fraid to lie before him: the worldly man will not be afraid to discover his vanities before him by his carnall and filthy conference. Beloved, all this is, because the Saints have lost their glo­ry; if they did live as Saints ought to live, the wicked would tremble to work wickednesse before them. Though a wicked man be a drun­kard, and abuse the good creatures of God when no Saint is in his company, yet if a Saint were present, he would tremble, and not dare to do it. Though he were a swearer, a filthy tal­ker, a vain worldling amongst his companions; yet if he come in the Saints company, and the Saints stand in Gods counsell, then would the wicked tremble and quake to do such things: then would they lick in their tongues, and not dare to speak such blasphemous oathes, such vain and unprofitable words, filthie lies and flanders. It is said of those that gladly received the Apostles words, and were added to the Church, that the fear of them came upon the world, Acts 2.41. What, did the Disciples go with swords and guns, &c. to keep men in awe there­by? [Page 170] No, they continued in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, and did live according thereto, and this made all the world afraid of them.

Secondly, this condemnes the little difference that is betwixt the wicked of the world, and some Sainis in their lives and manners: Be­loved, is there so little difference between the Judge and the prisoners, that any one need to come and say, I pray you Sir, shew me which is the Judge, and which is the malefactor? Is there not a plaine difference both in the apparell and carriage? The one is in rich apparell, and the other in stinking and filthy cloathes, having his hands manicled, or his legges chained. But it is to be feared, that many of the Saints have negle­cted holinesse and purity in their carriage and actions which they performe, that one can hard­ly tell which is a Saint, and which is a reprobate. If a man deale with a Saint, and deale with a wicked man, he seeth no difference between them. Let a Saint do any action, either pray, hear, or conferre, let a wicked man do the like, there is such deadnes, such carnality, such world­ly-mindednesse, such luke-warmnesse of affe­ction, that one can hardly tell which is the Saint and which is the hypocrite. Beloved, if the Saints did live like Saints, there would be as plaine a difference between a Saint and a wicked man, in their lives and behaviour, as is hetwixt the Judge and the Rogue that is to be judged by him. Hast thou not con [...]dered my servant Iob▪ (saith God) how that there is none like him in all the [Page 171] earth? Iob 1.4.8. If a man come to be a Saint indeed, there is never a wicked man in the Town and Countrey, that lives and doth as he doth, and walks as he walks, nor prayes as he prayes, nor hears the word as he hears it, nor that con­ferres or meditates as he doth, that beleeves and repents as he doth, that strives against his lusts as he doth: there is none like him in all the world.

Thirdly, it condemnes the scandalousnesse of many Professors in their behaviours and actions. Oh how do wicked men insult and exclaim here­upon, to see a Professor led away and overcome by some lust! What (say they) are these they that are led by the Spirit of God? Are these your devout men? why, they can covet and scrape as well as others; they can cousen and lie as well as others. I, those that are your great Professors, and hot spurres, they are as covetous, as world­ly, as cruell as others, though they will not be drunk, nor swear, yet they will cousen and lie, as well as others. The consideration whereof made the Prophets heart to bleed in him, and to pray, Oh purge me from my murder and adulte­ry, and all other my secret sinnes, lest I cast mire and dirt in the faces of thy children, causing them to beare the reproaches of my sinnes. Oh let not those that seeke thee, be ashamed for my sake, Psal. 69. For thy sake that livest scandalously and offensively, for thy sake that livest cove­tously and scraping after the world, that art so unjust in thy dealings and promises, mire and [Page 172] dirt, scandals and reproaches are cast upon the children. For thy loosenesse, yea for thy carnall liberty it is that the true professors of Religion are reproached, suspected, and hardly censured in the world. What did Jacob when he was to walk with the people of the Land? Gen. 35.5.6. he purged his house, and (saith the text) the terror of God was upon all the Cities, hee made them all to tremble at him. I tell you, all the wicked in Ashford would tremble at the Professors that live therein, if they did live and carry themselves like Saints indeed. Oh if all those that did professe themselves to be Christians, were Christians in­deed; and that professe themselves to be Saints, were Saints indeed, living in the power and san­ctification of holinesse; then men would say of themselves, of a truth God is in these men, Christ dwels in them, and the Spirit of God leads and governs them indeed. If thou wouldst judge the world, take heed so as the world judgeth thee, and so thou with the world be condemned eter­nally. It is said that Herod feared John, because he [...] was a just man, Mark 6.23. So if all thy neigh­bours did know that thou wert a just man, a ho­ly and conscionable man in all thy wayes, and in all thy actions, and that cannot indure swearing, lying, and deceit; but did see that thou wast just, and one that feared God truly, they would all fear thee.

THE PUNISHMENT Of Unworthy COMMUNICANTS At the TABLE of the LORD: DELIƲERED In a SERMON Preached, Decemb. 7. 1628.

By that vigilant and painfull Mini­ster of the Word, WILLIAM FENNER, B.D. Sometime Fellow of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, and late Parson of Rochford in Essex.

London, Printed by T.R. and E.M. for J.S.

A SERMON OF Mr. WILLIAM FENNERS Upon this ensuing Text.

1 COR. 11.30.

For this cause many are weak and sick among you and many sleep.

THE Apostle in this Chapter tax­eth two abuses which were then amongst the Corinthians: First, the unseemly habit of women in the Congregation, from the first ver. to the 17. Secondly, the pro­phane usage of the holy Communion, both of men and women, from the 17. verse to the end of the Chapter: And herein, from the 23. verse to the end of the 25. he sets down the Institution of the Lords Supper; and thence raised a point of Doctrine.

Doct. 1 That whosoever would come to this holy Com­munion, they must examine themselves, that so they [Page 176] may come worthily; else it were better that they never came.

So we read in the 28. verse; But let a man ex­amine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup: As if the Apostle had said, Un­lesse a man examine himself, and search his own heart, and find out his sinnes, and dive into the secrets of his soul, to bring out his hidden cor­ruptions, confessing them and judging himselfe for them before the Lord, let him never presume to come unto this holy Sacrament.

And then he proves it by three Reasons.

Reas. 1 The first is taken from the end of the Sacra­ment; for it is the remembrance of the death and passion of Christ: so it is in the 26. verse, So oft as you eate of this Bread and Drink of this Cup, you show forth the Lords death till he come. It is a reason that the men of this world are not acquainted withall, and therefore it was a good wish of a Reverend Father, that the Sacrament should never be ministred, but there should be a Sermon, to teach men the nature of it, and to in­struct them in the Mystery thereof. Wee ap­proach unto the Sacrament hand over head, li­ving in our sinnes, not showing by our coming, that Christ is dead; we say, and we professe that Christ died for our sinnes, and yet notwithstan­ing our sinnes live in us, as if Christ had not di­ed for us, or as if we would proclaime, that his death hath had no effect in us. For were we dead with Christ, then sin and the living occasions of sinne, would be dead in us also. My Beloved, we [Page 177] should never come to this Sacrament, but we should shew forth the Lords death thereby, that is, that Christ is dead (or, rather died) for sinne, and that sinne is also dead in us.

Reas. 2 The second reason is taken from the damned wrong wee offer unto Christ, if we come in our sinnes, for we are guilty of the body and bloud of Christ, as it is in the 27. verse; nay, thou sinnest against the Lord Jesus Christ not a jot lesse, then Pilat that condemned him, then Judas that be­trayed him, and the Jewes that cryed out, Crucifie him, crucifie him; yea, thou art as much guilty, as if thy own hand in thy own person had been im­brued in his bloud. Now we know it is a horri­ble sin to be guilty of the bloud and murther of an ordinary man, yea of a very rogue; how much more is it a great and fearfull sin to be guilty of the body and bloud of the Lord Iesus Christ, the onely and etrnall Son of God? yet comest thou to this holy Communion, and bring­est no lesse then the guilt of the body and bloud of Christ upon thy soule?

Reas. 3 The third Reason is taken from the wofull wrong and injury that man brings upon his own soule, that comes unpreparedly without exami­nation of himself; in the 20. verse, he eateth and drinketh his own damnation; that is, he maketh him selfe guilty of, and liable to the same vengeance that the crucifiers of Christ had inflicted on them Good had it been for that man (saith Christ of Ju­das) if that he had never been born: So may I say, Good had it been for that man and that wo­man, [Page 178] if they had never been born, who come un­worthily unto rhe Table of the Lord; for when they eat of that Bread they eate their owne bane; and when they drink of that Cup, they drink their own damnation.

Vse. 1 Then cometh he to make some uses of this point; and first he condemns those that as they come, so they goe away from the Sacrament; no more holy, no more gracious then before; but as they come in their sins, so they goe away in their sins; they came drunkards, and they goe away drunkards; they came worldlings, and they goe away worldlings; they came mockers, and they goe away mockers: they came in theit wrath, anger, malice, deadnesse, hypocrisie, and luke-warmnesse and so they go away, still never the better, but living in them as they did before: As in the 17. verse. You come together (saith the Apostle) not for the better, but for the worse: Whereas if they would have come worthily, they should have gone away the better, they should have received more grace and holinesse [...]o walk with God, more power and strength against sin, and corruption; yea, the Lord would have ratified and confirmed his Covenant with them; whereas living in contention, and not coming with preparation, they grow the worse by the Sacrament. The Corinthians thought that the Apostle would have praised them for their coming to Church, and receiving the Sacrament: Shall I praise you? in this (saith the Apostle) I praise you not,

[Page 179] Vse. 2 Secondly,He makes an use of terror against all those that dare come in their sinnes unto this holy Sacrament of the Lord; for that man that commeth in his sinnes unto the Table of the Lord, 1. though he may think he receives the com­munion, yet he doth not: for this is not the Table of the Lord, but the Table of Devils. It is true, thou receivest the Sacrament of the body and bloud of Christ; hut yet comming in thy sinnes, thou receivest not his body and bloud, as of a Sa­viour to save thee from thy sinnes: Indeed thou receivest the body and bloud of Christ sacramen­tally; but it is as the Iudge to condemne thee unto the pit of destruction, for thy damned Im­pudency in coming so unworthily unto this holy Sacrament. For that man cannot eate the body of Christ, that is not a member of Christ; there­fore thou must be a limbe of Christ, if ever thou wilt receive worthily.

2. If a man come unto the Sacrament, and come in his sinnes, he cometh to his own destru­ction: for though it be a sweet banquet for to refresh an humble and weary soule, and to make it walk more cheerfully in the wayes of God all the dayes of his life: yet he that commeth unto it in his sinnes, and receiveth it in his unclean­nesse, speedeth thereby his own damnation, and receiveth it as his viaticum to hell. The Apostle compares Baptisme to the red Sea, 1. Cor. 10. from which place Chrysostome saith, that as the red Sea was a way for the Israelites to passe through to Canaan, so it was as a grave to [Page 180] swallow up the Egyptians to their destruction: So the Lords Supper is as a grave or open pit whereby many plunge themselves into eternall destruction but as a chariot to the godly to carry them to heaven.

Vse. 3 Thirdly, by comming in thy sinnes, thou ma­kest thy self liable to Gods temporary plagues and judgements; as appeares in my Text, For this cause many are sick and weak among you, and ma­ny are fallen asleep, [For this cause] which is not one [...]y a note of conclusion, but of the cause: For this cause, namely, because they examine not themselves, but come in their sinnes and receive it unworthily. One man hath a disease in his bo­dy, that he liveth not out halfe his dayes; ano­ther sick and weak neer unto death; a third is fallen asleep. Wherefore? why (saith the A­postle) for this cause of receiving unworthily the Sacrament of the Lords Supper.

Vse. 4 Fourthly, for instruction, that because the people of God as well as wicked men, are guil­ty of unworthy comming to the Lords Table, therefore he exhorts them, that if they would not have the Lord judge them, that they would judge themselves, as in the 31. verse. For if wee would judge ourselves, we should not be judged of the Lord. If we would sit down and search our own hearts and trie our own spirits, and pry into our bosomes, and out with our old cor­ruptions, and unclean lusts and enter into a new covenant with God, of holy walking before him for after time, if we would thus judge and [Page 181] condemne our selves, and mortifie our sinnes, comming with grace un [...]o this holy banquet, then we might come with comfort unto this blessed Sacrament, assuring our selves that wee shall escape the judgment of the Lord. For those of the Corinthians whom God struck with sick­nesse, weaknesse, and death, it was to instruct o­thers that are well and in health, that they ven­ture not to enter upon these holy mysteries with unholy hearts, and unclean hands.

Vse. 5 Fifthly, he concludeth with a use of exhorta­tion in the 33. and 34. verses: Wherefore bre­thren, when ye come together to partake of the holy Communion, tarry one for another: As if he should have said, Away with all your disorders, and come not with a temporall, but with a spiritual appetite; provide not thy teeth, but thy heart for these dainties: for this is not a feast for the body, but for the soul therfore away with all your dis­orders and unseemly coming unto thi [...] blessed Sa­crament, take heed and repent of this sin among you, and of all other sins which you know your own consciences to be guilty of and so come un­to this holy communion.

Now, the verse that I have read to you, is a part of that use of terror which the Apostle makes a­gainst the unworthy receivers of the Sacrament; and it contains Gods severe hand and judgment against those that come unworthily: wherein note three things,

  • First, the cause of their punishment, which is the unworthy eating of the Communion: For [Page 182] this cause many are sick and weak among you and many are fallen asleep,
  • 2 Secondly, the punishment inflicted for this sinne, weaknesse, sicknesse, and mortality: For it seems (saith Peter Martyr) that the Lord sent a sore plague and pestilence among them for to revenge himself of them for their abuse of the Sacrament for this cause.
  • 3 Thirdly, there is the delinquents, which are you Corinthians: Many are sick and weak among you, and in them all others that come unprepa­redly to the Sacrament.

Chrysostome notes here, that our Apostle doth not fetch here an Argument or example of judg­ment from others, as he had done in the former chapter, but he brings it from themselves, who sensibly felt the wrath of God upon them for this very sinne: As if the Apostle should have said How is it, O Corinthians, that you dare venture to come unto the Communion so unprepared­ly, and that you have no more regard of so weighty businesse as is the receiving of the bo­dy and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? See you not the wrath of God upon your dwellings, and the curse of heaven to take hold of your towne? you see it this very time, that some are weak and very sick amongst you▪ neer unto death, and o­thers have been struck with death before your eyes, and the wrath of God is not removed, but lies yet upon you: What will you alwayes goe on, and never cease to provoke the Lord to in­dignation and wrath against you for your sinnes, [Page 183] untill his jealousie hath utterly consumed you, and clean cut you off? And howsoever many of you may think that this sicknesse, weaknesse, and mortality comes upon you by chance, as from the infection of the aire, or other secondary cau­ses, I tell you nay, but it is for this cause onely, even your unworthy comming to the Supper of the Lord. Whence we may observe this point of instruction:

Doct. 2 That God doth most severely punish the un­worthy receivers of the Sacrament of the Lords Supper.

He punished the Corinthians here with sick­nesse, weaknesse, feavers▪ pestilence, death tem­poral, and God knows how many with death eternal. Theodoret observes, that the Apostle told them of a thing that was acted amongst them, for if he had told them of such judge­ments as had been hid from them, and not mani­fest before their eyes, as if they had not felt the sicknesse in their bodies, and heard the bels tol­ling daily in their ears, they might have thought that the Apostle had but lied unto them. So the people of Israel, as we may read in 1 Cor. 1.2.3. verses, they were baptized in the Cloud and in the Sea, and they did all eat the same spirituall meat and drink the same spirituall drink; yet as it is in the fifth verse, with many of them God was not well pleased. Nay, God was so wroth with them, that within the space of fourty yeares, many thou­sands of them were destroyed by death here and God knoweth how many thousands of them in [Page 184] hell. For God speaketh of hell, as well as of death; and their sin was so great, that it made God con­firme it with an oath, that they should never enter into his rest. And Saint Cyprian saith, that the Lord hath shewed many miracles, and declared many fearfull judgements upon the unworthy re­ceivers of the Sacrament.

Judas, who Ambrose thought received the Sa­crament (though Hilary and others that hee did not, but only that he did eate the Passeover, and was coming to this Sacrament also) but see his doome, John 13. as soon as ever he received the sop, the Devill entred into him; and so it is with all such as come to the Communion in their sinnes without repentance, and unfained resolution of walking ever after worthy of the Sacrament; I say unto all and every one of them, that as soone as ever thou receivest the Bread and Wine into thy mouth, thou receivest the Devil together with it; as soon as ever it goeth down into thy body, the Devill goeth after it, and taketh more full possession of thy heart and soul.

Reas;. 1 Now the reason why the Lord doth so severe­ly punish both with temporall judgements, and with spirituall curses, the unworthy receivers of the Sacrament, is, in regard of the author of the Sacrament, who is Christ: and that not one­ly as he was man, (as the Papists would make us beleeve) but Christ as he was God did institute the same. So saith the Apostle in the 23. verse, The Lord Jesus Christ in the same night that he was betrayed, [...]ok bread and brake it, when he had given [Page 185] thanks, and said, Take yee, and eate yee, for this is my body which is broken for you. Now if the Lord Jesus did institute it, what a cursed thing is it for any to defile it, and so sin against Christ? It is a damnable thing to sinne against God; but to sin against God, as he is God in Christ, is damnably damnable. The holy Ghost in the second Psalm exhorts to kisse the Sonne lest he be angry, and so thou perish: As if he should say, Adore the Sonne, A­dore the Lord Iesus Christ, and so come and eat of this Bread, and drink of this Cup: for if he be angry, thou wilt surely perish; and if thou sin against God, and so go out of the way, Christ upon thy repentance will set thee in again; but if thou sinnest against God in Christ, who is the Way, the Life, and the Truth, thou shalt surely perish from the right way: for there is no other way for to bring thee in again, Acts 4.12. There­fore wofull is thy case, and miserable is thy con­dition if thou sinnest against Christ, prophaning his holy ordinances which he himself hath insti­tuted, and abusest and despisest that blessed Spi­rit of his, that comes to seale unto thee the re­demption that he hath purchased by his bloud. Better had it been for thee that thou hadst never been born: for if he be wroth, blessed only are all they that put their trust in him, and come preparedly, unto his holy Ordinance, and that by faith em­brace the Lord Iesus Christ. But woe unto all prophane persons that live in their sinnes: if his wrath be but a little kindled, then woe to all drunkards, swearers, and uncleane persons; but [Page 186] blessed is that man that is come out of his sinnes. For if his wrath be so terrible when it is but a little kindled, O how much more fearfull will it be when it is deeply incensed! Therefore if thou comest unto this holy Sacrament in thy sinnes, without due preparation and examination, what doest thou but even set the wrath of God burn­ing upon thy soul and body from the very bot­tome of hell?

When the Lord Delivered the Law upon Mount Sinai, he commanded the people to san­ctifie themselves; yea if a beast did but touch the mountain, he must die for the same, even be sto­ned to death, or thrust through with a dart, Heb. 12. Much more then now, when the Lord doth deliver the Gospel, especially the ground­work and master-peece thereof, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that in the most blessedest manner that ever God exhibited himselfe unto man; how much more doth God require purity and holi­nesse, that all such as come to receive the Lord Jesus Christ in the blessed Sacrament, should be sanctified, purging their hearts, and cleansing souls from all their sin and uncleannesse? Should not a beast touch the mountaine where God did appeare, and darest thou touch the body of Christ, and drink his blessed bloud in thy sinnes? The very Angels of heaven will curse thee, and the clouds of heaven will poure down showres of vengeance upon thee: for God hath more se­vere punishments to inflict upon sinners under the Gospel, then he used under the Law, [Page 187] though then he struck them with more visible and sensible plagues and judgements then ordi­narily he bringeth upon men now: as Gebezi for his covetousnesse was strucken with leprosie; Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up quick for their rebellion against the Lord: Er and Onan were strucken dead for their wickednesse: Jeroboam had his hand withered for stretching of it forth to strike the Lords Prophet. And though the Lord bring not such sensible punishments now as he did then, ye he knowes how to punish the world a thousand times more then he did then, at this time. As a father hath other kinds of pu­nishments for his sonne, when he is grown up, then he had when he was in coates, and but a child; then a twigge or two would serve the turne; but if he comes to mans estate, and then rebell against his father, it may be that he will disinherit him, and cast him out of his family: So in former time God did scourge and whip his people when they sinned against him; but now he hath drawn out his Church to this age, even to the age of the Gospel, he hath severer strokes of plagues and curses, wherewith to confound all prophane and impenitent sinners, that dare to abuse that blessed Sacrament of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second Reason is, in regard of the matter of the Sacrament, which is Christ also; who as he was the efficient cause, so in regard of Sacra­mentall relation, he is the matter of the Com­munion, [Page 188] 1 Cor. 10.16. The Cup of blessing which we blesse, is it not the Communion of the bloud of Christ? and the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? Now the better matter any thing is of, the more heynous is the defilement of it: A master will not be so angry for casting his earthen vessels into the mire, as he will be for casting his rich jewels. The Bread and Wine in the Sacrament, are the blessed Communion of the precious body and bloud of Christ, and darest thou to defile them? Knowest thou not that thou dost greatly increase the wrath of the Lord against thy soule thereby? That soule whatever it was from Dan to Beershe­ba, that came in his uncleannesse to partake of a­ny of those holy things which the children of Is­rael hallowed to the Lord, whether he were man or woman, rich or poore, that person was to be cut off from the presence of the Lord, Levit. 12. whereto the Lord sets his seale for the con­firmation thereof (I am the Lord:) And as sure as I am the Lord, so will I see it accomplished. So my beloved, let me say unto you of England, from Dover to Newcastle, or from the o [...]e end of the town unto the other, that soul who toucheth any of these holy things with an impure heart, and cometh to partake of them with his un­cleannesse upon him, living in his sinnes, and wallowing in his lusts, casting off the feare of the Lord, and making no conscience to walk in Gods wayes, that soule shall surely be cut off that cometh so unworthily unto the Table of [Page 189] the Lord; not only the hand that taketh it, and the mouth that eateth it, but even the very soul of him that so cometh, shall perish from the presence of the Lord. So Levit. 7.20. That soule that eateth of the flesh of the Sacrifices of peace offe­rings that pertaine unto the Lord, having his un­cleannesse upon him, even that soule shall be cut off from his people. Now you know that all those sacrifices had relation unto Christ; but yet under the Law they were but shadowes, and typicall relations, and were not so lively and effectuall means for the exhibiting of Christ, as the Lords Supper, is: And therefore if such as came in their uncleannesse unto them, were punished with no lesse punishment then a cutting off from the fel­lowship with the Lords people; what wrath and vengeance will the Lord bring upon thee that comest with thy uncleannes upon thee unto this holy communion? Augustine saith, that man that receiveth the Sacrament unworthily, receiveth a greater plague to his own soule, and a greater torment to his own conscience, yea and heapeth up a store of wrath unto himself against the day of wrath. Reas;. 4 Me thinkes thou that livest in thy sinnes, and wilt not come out of them, when thou hearest these words [This is my body] and seest the bread broken before thy face, it should even make thee tremble and quake for to look upon it, more for to touch it, and most of all for to tast it: for it is the Communi­on of the body and bloud of Christ; and how darest thou come in thy sins for to defile it?

[Page 190] Reas;. 3 A third Reason is, in regard of the forme of the Sacrament, which is Christ too, for as he is the efficient cause that instituted it, and as he is also the matter of the Sacrament, so in the third place Christ is the forme of the Sacrament also, wherein the confirming grace of God is sealed up unto thee. Now as it is treason for a man to offer contempt unto the Kings broad Seale; so certainly is it high treason against this King of Kings, to contemne this blessed Sa­crament, which is the Seale of the righteous­nesse of faith. If thou shouldst clip the Kings Coine, I will say that thou art a Traytor. Oh what a traitor art thou then, yea, an accursed trai­tor in the account of God and Christ, if thou clippest his holy Communion, if thou clip it of thy examination, and due preparation, and so come hand over head, not regarding so holy an Ordinance! Thou sinnest against the Court of heaven. That which Saint James speaks in generall of the whole worship of God [Draw neere unto God] let me apply it in particular un­to this drawing neere unto God in this holy Communion, James 4.8. Cleanse your hands yee sinners, and purifie your hearts yee double minded: Draw neer unto God in the hearing, reading and meditating on Gods word; draw neer unto God in prayer, and in this holy Sacrament, and receive it for your amendment of life. [Draw neere to God] I, that I will, (saith the wicked man) I will come to Church, & draw neer unto the holy Communion. Will you so? (saith the [Page 191] Apostle:) No, first, Cleanse your hands yee sinners, and purge your hearts yee double-minded: As if hee should say, never think of drawing neer unto God, or setting foot on this holy ground, and handling those holy mysteries of Christ, unlesse thou first purge thy heart, and cleanse thy soule from all thy filthy lusts and cursed corruptions, lest otherwise thou coming in thy sinnes with thy uncleannesse on thee, and so receiving un­worthily, thou eatest and drinkest thine owne damnation, (as our English translation hath it) damnation to thy selfe, and not to another. No, God forbid, that thou shouldest by thy unwor­thy coming, eate and drink condemnation to another, for thou that art a child of God, and comest unto the Table of the Lord with repen­tance, and a sound measure of preparation, though others that sit in the same pew with thee, for their prophanesse eate and drink their own dam­nation, yet thou shalt be sure to receive the seale and assurance of thy reconciliation and salvation, with free acceptance of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ; for every man shall bear his owne burden.

Reas;. 4 The last Reason is, in regard of the end of the Sacrament, which is Christ also: For as he is the efficient, materiall, and formall cause, so Christ is also the finall cause of the Sacrament: So it is in the 26. verse, As oft as you eate of this Bread, and drink of this Cup, you shew forth the Lords death untill he come. Not that Christ may be ea­ten with the teeth, or corporally received in the [Page 192] Sacrament, or as if he were there productively, or transubstantially, (as the Papists say); no, the Apostle shewes, that the end of the celebrati­on of this Sacrament, is for to shew forth the death of Christ untill he come.

Object. I, but (say the Romists) unlesse we eate the body, and drink the blood of Christ really, and not the cons [...]crated bread and wine, how can a­ny man by this unworthy communicating, eate and drink his own damnation, and make himself guilty of the body and bloud of Christ.

Answ. I answer, a man cannot bring this guilt up­on himself by eating a peece of bread, or drink­ing a cup of wine; but the Apostle hath an an­swer so fitted for this, as that all the Papists in the world shall never be able to gainsay; and therefore I pray you to mark it: for he hath joy­ned these two verses together; As oft as you eate of this bread, and drink of this cup, you shew forth the Lords death till hee come: Wherefore whosoever eateth this bread or drinketh this cup of the Lord un­worthily, shall be guilty of the body and bloud of the Lord; even for this cause, because it is the shewing forth of Christs death till hee come. Therefore if thou eatest and drinkest unworthi­ly, comming in thy sinnes, and resolvest to goe on in them, that as thou wert proud before thou camest to the Sacrament, so thou art still; as thou wert cholerick, angry, and impatient before, so thou art still▪ as thou wert luke-warme and dead-hearted in Gods service before, so thou remain [...]st sti [...]l, remember I pray thee, that [Page 193] as oft as thou hast come unto the communion in those thy sinnes, thou hast made thy self guilty of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therfore I beseech you to look to it, and in time to repent, and pray with the Prophet David, Ps. 51. Deliver me from blood-guiltinesse, O Lord, even from the blood of thy Sonne, left one day it bee laid unto thy charge, and required straitly at thy hands. For, for this cause many are sick among you, and many weak.

Vse. 1 Is it so then, that the Lord doth so severely punish the unworthy receivers of the Sacrament? Take notice (I pray you) then from whence commeth all sicknesse, weaknesse, and mortality, and the reason why the Lord doth send so many kind of sorrowes, crosses, and miseries upon men; namely, because of the un­worthy receiving of the Lords Supper. So saith Mr. Calvin, why doe you wonder to see such warres, and rumours of warres, that there is so many bloodsheds, so many Townes and Cities ruinated, and so many Countries sacked and de­populated, so many calamities come upon the Churches abroad, & so many plagues and scour­ges to over-run Christendome at this day, is not the cause plain enough? men come unto the Table of the Lord carelesly and unworthily. And, beloved, we shall never see the Lord take away his judgements here from the earth, untill we betake our selvs to a more diligent and holy receiving of the Sacrament. For this very cause there are so many strange diseases amongst us, [Page 194] never formerly known or heard of untill these dayes, as the French Pox, the English Sweat, (as they call it) that even the Physitians, themselves are blunted at them; and (as Peter Martyr well observes) hence are all diseases, as plagues, pe­stilences, (which were late amongst us) drop­sies, bloody Flux, Agues, Apoplexies, Convul­sies, burning Feavers, and impostumes, &c. and all for this cause. One man hath fallen into a Feaver, and we wonder at the cause whence he took it; but in truth the communion hath cast him into his Feaver, and the Lord will avenge himself on him for the same. Another is sick, and he thinkes that a cold hath brought it upon him; but it is the unworthy receiving of the Sacrament that is truely the cause of it. A third man dieth before his time, even in his full strength, before in the course of nature he hath ended halfe his dayes; but the cause is unwor­thy comming to the Communion, which hath taken hold of him, and cut off the thread of his life.

Many there be that expound these words in a spirituall sense, Many are sick and weak, and many are fallen asleep, that is to say, many have their consciences seared, and their hearts hard­ned, &c. and this is true also, that because men come unpreparedly, they have their hearts har­dened, and their consciences seared, and their soules plagued with many spirituall plagues. But it is as true also in temporall judgements, thou hast had many afflictions, and much sickness [Page 195] laid upon thee; but thank thy self for it; name­ly, because thou hast come unworthily unto the communion, thou hast had much weaknesse in thy body, which hath cost thee much mony, and weakned thy estate; but thy unholy comming unto the Sacrament, is that which thou mayest thank for it. Thou hast been reproached and con­temned, and endured much shame; but take no­tice of it, that it proceeds from the fore-going cause, and that is a speciall reason why the Lord hath brought these and many other evils upon thee. Thou canst say the commandements (for the most part) by rote; but thou didst never know the mystery of this one commandement, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: Beloved: the Communion is one of Gods own names, and how many thousands are there in the world that take this name of God in vain? Is there never a drunkard here in this congrega­tion, that hath been at the Sacrament? Is there never a whoremonger, never a covetous world­ling? Where is the man, whosoever hee bee a­mongst you all, that is such a one? He is in the state of damnation. Is there never a luke-warm and carnall Christian, that contents himself with a formall worship, and a dead performance of holy duties, that hath no zeal for God, nor cou­rage for his truth, but is carelesse of all Gods commandements? whosoever amongst you are guilty of these sins, or any other, and hath come unto this holy Communion in them, they are the persons, that how oft soever they have received, [Page 196] so oft they have taken this name of the Lord in vain: And if I should examine this Congrega­tion from the one end of it unto the other, I fear that every pew would yeeld some one, If not many that have taken a Cōmunion (which is one of Gods names) in vain. Should I but examine thee that comest unto the Communion this day, how by the last Sacrament thou receivedst, and the last Sermon thou hast heard, thy faith is strengthened, thy repentance renewed, and thy obedience is increased, and thy care doubled for to walk with God? whether thou art made by them more zealous for God, more forward in his worship and service, and every day more ho­ly and heavenly minded; if not, then thou hast taken this Name of the Lord thy God in vain, and the Lord will not hold thee guiltlesse, that is, the Lord will not take away the guilt from thy con­science, but he will let thy sinne lie open, and thou shalt not be cleansed from it nor justified by the very blood of Jesus Christ, but it shall rest upon thee to thy utter ruine and destruction, un­lesse thou forsake thy sinnes, and so come prepa­redly unto this holy Table and banquet. I know here is a covenant of grace, a sweet refreshing for every humbled soul that is hungry & broken for his sinnes and for every poore distressed conscience: let all such come and lay their sinnes upon Christs crosse and welcome: But if there be any that come in their sinnes, and will not re­forme their live [...], but be as they came sinners, so they mean for to continue, the Lord himselfe [Page 197] will lay this mans sinnes upon his own head, and they shall never be taken away from him but Christ shall at the day of judgement pronounce him a guilty person, to his eternall condem­nation.

King Belshazzar that abused but the holy ves­sels of the Temple, and the Cups thereof, what a dismall plague befell him for it? Dan. 5.27.28. God hath numbred thy Kingdome and finished it, thou art weighed in the ballance, and art found too light, thy Kingdome is departed from thee, and is gi­ven to the Medes and Persians. So (beloved bre­thren) if any of you shall abuse this Cup of the Lord comming to it with a filthy unclean heart, and polluted conscience, and earthly affections, there is a hand-writing against every soule that thus commeth this day unto the Table of the Lord: thou art numbred and weighed and found too light: thou, O man, and woman, whosoever thou art that prophanest and contemnest these holy things of God, thou shalt be found out, and the Lord will keep thee out by his spirituall plagues, and thy sinne shall never be done a­way, but be required at thy hands, and stand in everlasting record against thee; O my brethren, that you would but seriously consider of it, and look about you, it being so weighty a thing that so neerly concernes every one of you.

But I would not have any poor broken heart and humble soul to mistake me, and so-thereby be discouraged: but give me leave (I pray you) for to use the words of the Brophet, though spo­ken [Page 198] in another sense, Psal. 115. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name give the glory: So let me apply this doctrine unto the comfort of all poore broken hearted sinners, and beat off all carnall prophane wretches that live in their sinnes; not unto you, O drunkards, and swag­gerers, not unto you whoremasters and unclean persons, that wallow in ungodlinesse, I say not unto you, but unto the poor afflicted soul and con­trite spirit that lieth bleeding and gasping under the weight of his sin, and that trembles and fears being opprest with the sense of its own unwor­thinesse, panting and breathing after Christ Je­sus, and suing earnestly unto the Throne of grace for mercie and forgivenesse: unto thee on­ly belongs this comfort, and therefore take it home to thee, and know it for thy selfe. Art thou troubled with a hard heart, and an unbe­leeving soule, and art even wearied and tired out with thy many sinnes and infirmities? Come thou with comfort unto this holy Communion: for thou shalt be sure to finde saying good by it; to thee it shall be a spirituall medicine to heale all thy diseases, and to cure all thy strong and prevailing corruptions; and if thou come unto this holy Table of the Lord, it shall make thee as it is recorded of Saint Laurence, able to suffer Martyrdome, and to get victory over all thy un­ruly affections; yea at last thou shalt tread Satan thy arch-enemy under thy feet. Therefore be not dismaied: for the Lord Jesus invites thee to come. What if thy infirmities be many, yet [Page 199] the mercies of God, which he tenders to thee in this Communion, are many more. Samson who was the strongest Souldier and Champion in his time that was in Israel to overcome the Philistims, he yet began his strength in weak­nesse, being at the first overcome by a woman: So though the Lord intend to make thee a strong Christian, he will make thee to begin in weak­nesse to perfect thy power; to begin in sinne and misery, that he may make thee to end in glory. I know Gods children here may receive temporall punishments, and bring temporall scourges up­on themselves, as we may see amongst the Co­rinthians here, but it shall be for their good and amendment, namely, for their correction, and not for their ruine and destruction; that so being chastened by the Lord, they might not be con­demned with the world. Therefore if thou com­est carelesly and unprofitably, God will chastise thee with the rods of men, as he did Peter, who receiving the Sacrament with his Master over night, yet the next day thrice denied him; but God whipt his soule, and scourged his conscience for it, and beat him black and blew, so that he went out and wept bitterly: Nay, he could scarce wipe off that sinne, and recover himselfe again whilst he lived.

Wherefore let us take heed of unprepared coming to the Sacrament; for God will not hold such guiltlesse: Yea, if his own sonnes or daughters transgresse thereby; hee will make them to feele the smart of it. But now to come [Page 200] to all such as come month by month, hand over head, without any examination and repentance, in their uncleannesse and abomination, making no conscience of their reformation, let me tell them that it shall be one of Christs demands of them in the day of judgement. How oft hast thou been at my Table? How oft hast thou been par­takers of that holy Communion which I gave unto thee? Hast thou come preparedly, or re­ceived worthily, or no? Hast thou eate bread at my Table with me, and lift up thy heele a­gainst me? Did I command, and thou woudst not obey? Did I send my Ministers to thee to reform, but thou wouldst not be reformed? Did I check and reprove thee for thy pride, blasphe­mies, drunkennesse, covetousnesse, anger, wrath, malice, fornication, hyporcrisie and hrophanesse in the matter of my worship? and yet wouldst thou still live in these sinnes? Where are all the Sacraments that thou hast received? How hast thou behaved thy selfe? Where are the sinnes that thou hast forsaken, and pleasing corruptions that thou hast abhorred? What grace and holi­nesse hast thou received by the meanes thou hast enjoyed? and how hast thou manifested the same through thy whole conversation? Oh! woe, woe unto thee, yea and a world of woes unto thee, and unto all such as shall bee silent and speech­lesse to those or the like demands of Christ: for they cannot say they have come out of their sins, and have been reformed by the means of grace, and have received spirituall nourishment and [Page 201] refreshing from the heavenly banquet of the Communion of the body and bloud of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A man will especially regard the last words of a deare friend, who is as a mans soul, when he is to speak upon his death-bed, and will be care­full to remember them: and dost thou not more regard the last Will and Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ? We count it a horrible sinne to alter the last Will of a man that is dead. Beloved, the Lord Jesus, before he left this world, institu­ted this blessed Sacrament at his last Will and Testament, and hath given us a charge, that as we would not eate and drink our owne damnation by bringing the guilt of his body and bloud up­on our soules, so that we should discerne the Lords body, and not come unpreparedly in our sinnes and abominations, without reverence and respect of such holy and high mysteries, as if there were nothing to be received and looked for after, then the bare & naked element of bread and wine, or as if we did come to communicate with unclean Devils. O my brethren, if you had but faith, you would be able to discerne Christ in the Sacrament; and therefore when thou commest unto it, thou must prepare and sanctifie thy selfe for to communicate with him in those, holy Ordinances and heavenly mysteries of his most pretious body and bloud: For if so be that thou retainest thy sins, and so come unworthily unto this holy Table of the Lord, thou art a great covenant-breaker with God: For thou never [Page 202] comest unto the Communion, but thou makest and renewest thy covenant with God, wherein thou promisest thus much or the like in effect. Lord, I have been formerly a drunkard, but now I promise to give it over, and never to be a drunkard more; I have been a scoffer at Religi­on, and a mocker and derider of thy children; but now I faithfully promise (Lord) that I will ne­ver do so any more. I have been wicked and sinfull, disobeying and rebelling against all thy holy commandements, and respected not thy judgements and thy promises, and have beene carelesse of thy glory: But now (Lord) as I eate this bread, and drink this wine; so I covenant un­to thee, and promise to thee, that I will amend all my sinfull wayes, and become a reformed Christi­an. And as I ever look that the body and bloud of the Lord Jesus Christ represented in the elements, should nourish my soule unto eternall life: so I promise to be disobedient to the Devil, but faith­full and obedient unto thee. I will stop my ears against the alluring inchantments of the world, and wicked suggestions of the Devill; but I will open them wide to hearken to thy voyce, that I may obey thy commands. But now as thou hast made ir, so if thou hast broken this thy cove­nant with God, returning to thy former courses of sin and disobedience against him, know thou, that this covenant of thine which thou hast bro­ken, shall stand in full force against thee: for God will assuredly require it at thy hands: and all the Sacraments which thou hast received, [Page 203] thou hast received them but as so many seales and pledges of thy just deserved condemna­tion.

Object. But some man may object and say, Do all that come unworthily unto the Sacrament, eate and drink their own damnation? Then many hun­dreds, yea thousands are damned: Are all dam­ned that have eat and drunk unworthily?

Answ. Ans. No; but a man may eate and drink his own damnation three wayes: First, in regard of guilt and liablenesse unto Gods wrath: and so he that eateth and drinketh his naturall food, his dinner, supper, or breakfast in his sinnes, eateth and drinketh his own damnation: yea, whoso­ever thou art, that commest unto this holy ban­quet in thy sinnes, in thy pride, choler, malice, wrath or revenge, covetousnesse, hypocrisie, and deadnesse in Gods service, thou never eatest a bit of bread, but thou eatest and drinkest thine own damnation; that is, thou eatest and drink­est that which will witnesse against thee another day, Deut. 28.16, 17, 18, 19 verses, &c. If thou wilt not hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and doe all his commandements, then all these curses shall come upon thee & overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the City, and cursed in the field, cur­sed shal be thy basket and thy store. Now if thy bread be cursed, then thou also art cursed that eatest it

Secondly, in regard of the seale and obligation in the conscience; so he that eateth and drinketh the Sacrament in his sins, eateth and drinketh his own damnation; that is, he eates and drinks [Page 204] that which seals up his damnation against the great day of account. And thus many amongst us, and I feare the most part of this Congregati­on, have eate and drunk their own damnation. But this seale may be broken off, and God grant it may.

Thirdly, in regard of sigillation in heaven; and so he that eats and drinks unworthily, and will not be reformed; he that receives the Sacra­ment time after time, but still retains his sins, and will not be humbled for them, not forsake them, he setteth a seale in heaven upon his own damna­tion, that all the whole world can never break off, but such a one most certainly is a damned creature.

And now (my brethren) God forbid there should be any such here, but that this seale may bee broken off: And O that God would put some strength into this word, that it may be bro­ken off by your godly sorrow for your sin, and forsaking of them all: for if this seale be set on your damnation, why do I yet speak unto you, and intreat and beseech you in the name of Christ to come home and be reconciled to him? and I desire to stand here, as Jehoiadah set Porters at the gates of the City, and of the house of the Lord, to keep off all those that come in their uncleannesse, 2 Chron. 23.19. So I stand this day as the Porter of the Lord, to keep the Lords watch, that no prophane wretch, no proud hear­ted sinner, that means not to enter into a new course of life, that no such one come unto this [Page 205] holy communion. I charge that as you will an­swer the guilt of Christs bloud before Gods Throne, that thou meddle not with it. But now if there should be any that would absent himselfe because he will the more freely go on in his sins, let him know that such a one excludes himselfe from the benefits and merits of Christs death, and shall never have the benefit of a Redeemer at the day of judgement; but shall perish in his sins for his carelesse neglect and fearfull contempt of so effectuall and powerfull means of salvation and purging, as is the bloud of Christ truly and real­ly offered in the Sacrament. Wherefore if thou comest or comest not, woe is thee, if so be thou livest and continuest in thy sins, and goest on in thy unholy courses.

And now to conclude; as the Cherubim stood before Paradise with a naked sword to keep A­dam out, that he might not enter and so eate of the tree of life: so I bring with me the sword of God, to run it up to the hilts in the heart and bowels of every ungodly man, every rebellious and impenitent sinner this day, that dares pre­sume to rush upon this holy Ordinance of God, with a polluted and uncleane heart. Therefore let me exhort thee, that as thou tendrest the eter­nall good of thy soul, so thou be carefull not to eate the body of Christ, nor drink his bloud in thy sins, lest thou eate thine owne bane, and drink thine owne curse: Nay, so doing, thy misery will bee so great, as a good man well weighing and considering of it, said, I professe I had rather [Page 206] have all my veins cut open, and my bloud spilt on the ground, then deliver the body and bloud of Christ unto a prophane sinner: for why should I deliver his own bane and destruction unto him? But now (my brethren and beloved) come out of your sins, come and welcome, if you part with your lusts, and so you shall be sure to have his bloud to wash your heart, and cleanse you, his righteousnesse to cleare you, and cloath you, his graces to strengthen you, his spirit to heal and to sanctifie your hearts and natures; and the Lord Jesus Christ to supply all good that is wanting in you. But if yet notwithstanding all this that hath been said, you will go on in your sins, and live as you did in your swearing, whoring, lying, and drinking, and all manner of filthinesse; and as you came unto it unclean, so you depart away from it more unclean, and never make any con­science of any reformation, I pronounce this day before God and his elect Angels, that thou shalt surely perish, and thy soule and body be damned and tormented in the scorching flames of hell for evermore. Therefore hearken unto instruction, and give eare unto councell, now whiles that the Lord offers it to you, that so you may not harden your hearts any more, but may heare and obey, that your souls may live, and so coming together to this holy and blessed Communion for the bet­ter and not for the worse, you may return home with the blessing of children.

FINIS.

THE DVTIE OF COMMUNICANTS: OR, Examination required of every COMMUNICANT.

In a SERMON Preached, By that vigilant and painfull Mini­ster of the Word, WILLIAM FENNER, B.D. Sometime Fellow of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, and late Parson of Rochford in Essex.

London, Printed by T.R. and E.M. for J.S.

EXAMINATION Required in every COMMUNICANT. A Sermon preached by Mr. WILLIAM FENNER Minister of Gods Word.

2 COR. 11.28.

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup.

IN the latter part of this Chapter the Apostle treats of the Sacrament of the Lords Supper: And first hee reproves the Corinthians for their unworthy comming to it, as wee see in verse 18. There were Errors, and Schismes, contempt of the poore, drunkennesse, excesse, disorder, ond unprofitablenesse in the duties of God: they waxed worse and worse [Page 110] by the Sacrament. All these, and sundry other abuses were among them; so that they did not eate the Lords Supper aright as they ought.

Secondly, he reduceth them back to the first prime institution of it by Jesus Christ, as we see in verse 23. that hereby they might both see how grievously they had abused thy Sacrament, and likewise see how they might sanctifiedly use it.

Thirdly, he shewes the danger of unworthy re­ceivers: and this he sets out two wayes:

  • First, by the greivousnesse of the sinne; such a person makes himself guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, as we see verse 27.
  • Secondly, by the dolefull consequence that follows upon it; He eats and drinks damnation to himselfe, as we see verse 29.

The sum of the textNow in this verse (that I may not trouble you with speaking of any more matter then what is necessary for the present Theam) he shewes how we may prevent, escape, and avoid this danger; how we may take an order that we doe not fall into this greivous sinne, that we doe not plunge our selves into this grievous misery: Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. A man must examine him­selfe, sift his owne soule, and labour to prepare himselfe, before he dare to venture on this sa­cred businesse. In these words, before we set up­on the particular handling of them, we may ob­serve,Observe. 1. We must not rush upon the sacrament. that ‘We must not rush upon the Sacrament.’

There must somewhat be done before we can [Page 211] receive it, Let a man examine himselfe, and so let him eate of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. There are none of the Ordinances of God, that a man may safely rush upon. Wouldst thou offer any sacrifice to God? but thou must stay first, and examine thy self, whether there be not somthing yet undone: It may be thou hast offended God in something or other; It may bee thou art out with thy brother; thou must first goe and be re­conciled to thy brother, and then offer thy gift, Matth. 5. So, wouldst thou reprove thy neigh­bour?Matth. 5. It may be there is somewhat out of or­der, some indisposednesse in thee, thou art not yet in case to set on this duty; it may bee thou art faulty, and guilty thy self; it may be thou hast a beam in thine own eye. First (saith the Text) pull the beam out of thine own eye, and then thou maist see cleerly to pull the moat out of thy bro­thers eye, Matth. 7.5.Matt. 7.5. So wouldst thou reforme thy outward man? But it may bee thy inward man is not reformed; there is s [...]me lust in thy heart, some pride in thy will, some stubborn­nesse in thy spirit, some Idoll in thy bosome; First, cleanse the inside of the platter, Matth. 23.26.Mat. 13.26 There is never an ordinance of God that can bee done, but there must be somewhat done first, a man must doe somthing before, As in the choice of Officers, as Ministers, or Deacons▪ other Offi­cers in the Church, first, they must bee proved before they be chosen: so in all the Ordinances of God. Would wee come to the Sacrament? There is somewhat must bee done first, we must [Page 212] [...] [Page 213] [...] [Page 110] [...] [Page 211] [...] [Page 212] examine our selves, and root out all unsancti­fiednesse, and indisposition, that cannot stand with the right communicating in the Lords Supper. And so in every other good duty.

Reason 1. Naturally we are not invited guests.The reasons of this are:

First, because naturally we are not invited guests, wee are not such as are invited to the Lords Supper; we are children of wrath, and as long as we are in such a estate, we cannot come aright to the Communion. This is childrens bread, and it cannot be given to dogges. Christ, whensoever he sets his dainties before his peo­ple▪ he tels us for whom they are, Take, eate, this is my Body that is broken for you. This is the Supper that is made for you, as it is in this Chap­ter, verse 24. First we must prove our selves in­vited guests.

It is true, the Lord Christ invites every man to the Lords Supper; but he invites him methodi­cally, he must bee in such an estate: but every man is not so fitted: a man must be a member of Christ that means to partake of Christs death; he must be one that is in Christ, he must be able to prove that he is ingraffed into Christ, he must bee able to shew the mark of the Lord Christ on him.Simile. As it is with some of your great dinners, and feasts in this Citie, you have tickets, and all that are admitted to the feast, must shew their ticket before they are admitted; So thou must be able to shew thy ticket, that thou hast an invita­tion from Christ, thou must have a mark, and to­ken [Page 213] from Chtist that thou commest, and commest with his warrant.

A second reason is,Reason. 2 We are in­disposed. though thou be invi­ted, it may be thou art not disposed. If a man will doe a thing that hee is naturally indisposed to, there must be somewhat done before of ne­cessitie: So the Lords Supper, it is a thing that naturally wee are indisposed unto, therefore somewhat must of necessity be done first. Na­turally we are unholy, we are unthankfull, and carnall, we are in our sinnes, strangers from God, and the Covenant of God, and from the seale of the Covenant: all this indisposition must be wrought out before we can comfortably come hither. If Christ would have the very Cham­ber first trimmed, before he instituted the Passe­over, and the Sacrament; much more will hee have the soule disposed for him, and the heart cleansed from all filthinesse. If hee that ate of the Peace-offering being indisposed, having his uncleannesse upon him, was to bee cut off from his people. Levit. 7.20.Levit. 7.20. what will God doe to such people as come hither in their unclean­nesse, and indisposition, unsanctified, and un­qualified?Reason. 3 Solemne preparati­ons requi­red to the Sacrament.

Thirdly, suppose we were both invited and disposed, yet this is not enough: This is a so­lemn Ordinance of God, and an ordinary dispo­sition will not serve the turne. Though every child of God bee ordinarily disposed to every good word and work, to pray, and to heare the word of God, he is prepared and furnished to e­very [Page 214] well doing ordinarily and habitually? but a man must be disposed further; There is a so­lemne preparation required to the Communi­on, as in Deut. 16.15.Deut. 16.16. there were solemne feasts in the Law: so there is this solemne feast in the Gospel, and there are solemne preparations re­quired thereto. When we come to the Commu­nion, to eate the Lords Supper, it is not eating and drinking in Christs presence; for so may a­ny reprobate doe, and yet Christ may say to him, Depart from me, thou worker of iniquity. It is not to come and sit in your Pewes, and wait till the Bread come, and take it; and till the Cup come, and drink it; so many a reprobate may doe, and the Corinthians did, that did eate and drink their own damnation: But there must be a solemne preparation to it, to be sealed with the Spirit of Promise, to be righteous by faith in the body and blood of Christ; For a man to be hum­ble and empty of his sinne, to bee thirsty after the pretious blood of Christ, to be fed and built up in the promises; It is a weighty thing to come to the Communion: a man must bee a worthy man▪ or else he hath nothing to doe here, As Solomon said of Adonijah, 1 King. 52. If he be a worthy man, not a haire shall fall from his head; but if wic­kednes be found in him, hee shall die, 1. King 1.52. So if we be worthy men and women, not a haire of our head shall fall to the ground, none of the curses shall light on us, that light on unprepared persons: but if wickednesse be found in us, if we be guilty of any sinne, if we live in any lust [Page 215] not mortfied; if there be any prophanenesse in our lives, in our families, in our courses and cal­lings, though we catch hold of the hornes of the Altar, though we partake of these holy myste­ries, yet we shall be so far from having any mer­cie, as that we shall hasten our own ruine, we set a seal on our own judgment, and make our case worse then it was before.

Let us take notice of it and never dare to rush on any of Gods ordinances. Ʋse. To take heed of rash per­formance of duties. You know what be­came of the foolish man in the Gospel, that when they were invited to come to the marriage Supper, he thought it was nothing but to come with them that came, to crowd in with them, and sit down among the rest; he considered not what he went about, that he might be prepared accordingly; the event was this, he was cast out into utter darknesse, Matth. 22.13. It is dange­rous rushing on any of Gods ordinances. To rush upon prayer, for a man to fall down upon his knees, and to utter any thing before the Lord hastily with his mouth, not considering that God is in heaven, and he on the earth. A mans word may damne his own soule, and pull vengeance on his own pate, his prayers may prove a curse, his prayer for mercy may bee turned into ven­geance: So the higher the service,2 Sam. 15.17. the greater the danger. As the servants of Abigail said to her, Consider what you doe, when evill was deter­mined against them: so consider what you doe when you come to the Sacrament, you come to a weighty thing, to that that will either set you [Page 216] neerer to the Kingdom of God, or to hell and condemnation. But I let this passe, and come to the words themselves.

Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup.

In these words observe,

  • Parts of the Text.
    First, the matter of the duty commanded▪ that is, to eat of that bread, and to drink of that cup.
  • Secondly, the manner of doing the duty; not only to eat of that bread, but so to eat; and not only to drink that cup, but so to drink.
  • Thirdly, the rule of direction how to come in a right manner to partake of it, that is, by ex­amining of our selves, Let a man examine himself, and so let him eate of that bread, and drink of that cup.
  • Fourthly and lastly, the benefit following that direction, and that is in this word But; But let a man examine himselfe. He had said before, He that eats and drinks unworthily, is made guilty of the bo­dy and bloud of the Lord; and, he discerneth not the Lords body, vers. 27. But, saith he, as if he should say, if a man would prevent this; if a man would take order that he be not guilty of the body and bloud of Christ, that he do not come undiscer­ningly to these heavenly mysteries, but with comfort, and title to the promises, with hope and confidence and speeding there of the benefits of Christ exhibited, then let a man examine himselfe, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

[Page 217]Now I will passe over some of these points,Necessity of recei­ving the Lords Supper. namely, that we are to eate that bread, and drink that cup. There is a necessity that we should receive the Lords Supper. I need not stand on this, you know it is sufficiently proved by the Sacrament of the Law, which was the fore-runner of this Sacrament, that soul that did not partake of that, was to die the death, he was to be cut off from Gods people, Num. 9.13.Num. 9.13. If the Lord was so care­ful of those Sacraments that were inferior to these (and yet they were of the same substance as these) that the man that neglected to come to them, to partake of them, was to be cut off, to be excommu­nicated from the people of God, and to be rent off from the Congregation of the Saints, then how much more for these heavenly, and weighty, and glorious Ordinances of the Gospel, which are far more glorious then them of the Law? But I will not stand upon that.

I might here take notice too of the frequencie of the duty:The Lords Supper to be received often. for so it hath dependance on those words formerly, As oft as yee eat this bread, and drink this cup, yee shew the Lords death, and so that is, as oft as ye eate, do it in this manner. This is the command of God, that we oft receive the Lords Supper.Basill. In the Primitive times St. Basil observes, that they ate it three or foure times in, a week, on Wednesdayes, Fridaies, and on the Lords day,; but that was a time of persecution, I will not stand upon that. I think it not need­full: But it should bee often, wee should not trust it only upon Easter and Whitsontide, [Page 218] and Christ tide, three or four times in the year.

Again, I might observe here from this mystery received, in that he cals it Bread, I might observe against the Papists Transubstantiation, that the bread received, is not transubstantiated, it is bread. And against that of receiving in one kind. So let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup: he doth not say, so let him eat of that bread only, but he directs the command in both kinds. But I let this passe, and come to the seceond thing, that is, the manner how we should do this duty.

Observ. The man­ner of per­formance of duties to be regarded So let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

It is not, first let him examine himself, and then let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup: But let him examine himselfe, and then SO let him eate: implying, that examining a mans selfe helps, or ought to help a man to a right manner: and when he hath gotten a right manner, then to eat that bread, and drink that cup; that he may do not only for matter that which the Lord commands, but for manner as the Lords com­mands. Beloved, the Lord stands on circumstan­ces as well as duties: we are all racers, wee run, but we must so run that we may obtain, 2 Cor. 9.26.2 Cor. 9.26 So pray that we may speed, so hear that we may be converted, so reprove that we may be edified; so behave our selves in our places and callings, that we may glorifie God. It is not e­nough for a man to run, but he must so run, if he mean to obtain. Every man will be speaking and doing good things; but so speak, and so do, Jam. 2.12. [...]am. 2.12. The Lord calls upon us to have a care of [Page 219] the manner of duties, as well as of the matter of duties. It is not enough that a man come to eate of that bread, and drink of that cup, but so to eat, and so to drink of it, he must partake of the Lords Table, and so as the Lord enjoyns.

Now the Reasons of this are:

First, because the same Lord that commands the matter, commands the manner too. Reas. 1. The Lord commands the man­ner as well as matter. The Lord he will have his service well done, as well as done, he will have the work well performed, as well as performed. It is not only the thing that the Lord stands upon, but the right manner and kind of doing it.

When David perswaded his sonne Solomon to worship the God of his Fathers, he bids him not only do the thing, but do it in a right manner, And thou my sonne Solomon,2 Chron. 28.9. know thou the God of thy fathers, and serve him. Is that all? No, but with a perfect heart, and a willing mind, 2 Chron. 28.9. He commands him to do it, not only for the matter of it, but in the right manner of it. A man may serve God, but if it be not with a perfect heart, and a willing minde, and with a chearfull spirit; if he be not ready to every command, if he do not open his eares to every rebuke, a man doth not serve God at all. The manner either makes all, or marres all.

Secondly, another Reason is,Reas. 2. Circum­stances o­verthrow actions, as 1. Prayer. because cir­cumstances overthrow actions, if they bee not rightly and duly observed. As for example: In Scripture prayer is an action commanded of [Page 220] God: the Lord commands us to pray, that we call upon his name duly, every day, in all our needs and necessities, upon all occasions conti­nually. But now if we pray not aright, not in that manner that the Lord hath perscribed; if we pray either with a guilty defiled conscience, with cold affections, with a dead spirit, or with­out departing from iniquity, or without a pure heart: if a man pray without the right manner of prayer, he marres all his prayer, it is a how­ling, and not a prayer. They did not cry to mee (saith God) when they howled on their beds, that is, when they prayed: but because they did not pray in a right manner, the Lord calls it a howling, and not a prayer. Isai. 59.12. We roare as Beares, in Isay 59.12. the Prophet nicknames it, speaking in the per­son of the people, he calls it the roaring of Beares: The Lord had as lief heare the barking of a Dog, or the grunting of a Swine, as a man that doth not pray aright, with a bleeding heart, with con­trition of soule and spirit, with a spirit of grace and supplication. When a man prayes, and prayes dot aright, his prayer leaves that name, it is no more a prayer in Gods account.

2 Preach­ing.And so preaching, it is an admirable action; but if a man doe not preach aright, if it be flat­tering with the enticing words of mans wisdome, or beating the aire, and to shew his owne learning, this overthrowes the action of preaching, hee preacheth not Christ but himselfe; himselfe, not the Gospel, though the Gospel bee in his Ser­mon all over, yet himselfe hee preacheth, [Page 221] the action is marred, the circumstance mar­reth it.

So in the Lords Supper, 3 Receiving the Sacra­ment. if a man come not prepared, that he have not the Wedding Garment, that he be not aright qualified according to the requisites of the Gospel, this is not to eate the Lords Supper. Saith the Apostle, When yee come together, this is not to eate the Lords Supper: you think you eate the Lords Supper, you take the bread and the cup, and can say, Blessed be God, and I pray God to blesse me: you may come and doe these actions, but the action is altered, the action is diversified when it is not done in a right manner.

So if a man come to reprove his brother, 4. Brother­ly reproof. Matt. 7.5. if himselfe be faulty, do you think this a sufficient reproof? No, it is hyhocrisie. Thou hypocrite, Matth. 7.5. his reproof of his brother is hypo­crisie.

So for men to tell one another of their faults, and to tell them with a spirit of bitternesse; this is not Christian dehortation, but biting one ano­ther, Gal. 5.15.Gal. 5.15.

And so for eating and drinking, beloved,5. Eating and drinking. ea­ting is lawfull, and drinking is lawfull, and marrying and giving in marriage, all these are law­full, yet if a man eate not aright, and drink not aright, and marry in the Lord, and eate and drink with title to the Lords creatures, that he have interest in the covenant of God, if Christ be not in it, how shall he have comfort? Nay, that ve­ry nature of his eating is alrered, his eating and [Page 222] drinking, and marrying is a sinne. As our Lord Christ shews of the old world, They did eat and drinke, and were marrying and giving in marriage, till Noah entred into the Arke, and the flood came and swept them away, Mat. 24.37. Matth. 24.37. He reckons their eating and drinking among their sins, among the reasons and causes why the flood came up­on them, they did eate and drink, and marry and give in marriage.

Object. You will say, Was that the reason the flood came? And was that an argument of their security? Did not Noah eate and drink and marry? And were not his sons married that were in the Arke, and he a grand-father.

Answ. But he did it aright; therefore his eating and drinking is not brought in as a signe of security, but of the old world, that were carnall and wret­ched people; it was; because they did not eate and drink aright.

There be Rules in eating and drinking, in tal­king and discoursing, in doing the duties of our callings: There be Rules how you ought to buy and sell, and to do every good word and worke. If these Rules be not observed, the Rules of Gods blessed word, the actions themselves are altered; though the things be commanded of God, yet they are cursed and abominable things, when the true form and fashion of them is not regarded, though they be never so godly.

Simile.A garment, though it be never so good, if the Taylor handle it not well, it is marred in the making, if hee bring it not to a right forme, [Page 223] and make it in a right manner, the man that is to have the garment, is disappointed. So Timber, though it be never so excellent, though it be all Oke, or Elm, or whatsoever tree, though it be never so fit for building, if the Artificer deale not well in handling it, the inhabitant that comes there, may curse the day that ever he came there: If it be not well built, it may fall on his head and kill him, and all that belongs to him. So it is in all the Ordinances of God, and the matters of Reli­gion, we must not only do them for matter, but for manner too: for that either makes or marres them.

Thirdly, another Reason is,Reas. 3. The right manner of doing du­ties gets the blessing because only the right manner of doing duties gets the blessing. A man may pray a thousand times, and never be heard, he may hear a million of Sermons, and never be converted, a man may come to all the Sacraments in the yeare, all his life long, and ne­ver be sealed against the day of redemption. A man may do the things, and never get the bles­sing; all the blessing lies in the right manner of doing. Blessed is that servant, who when his master comes, shall find so doing, Matth. 24.48.Matt. 24.48. He saith not, Who when his master commeth, shall find doing. Christ when he comes to judgement, shall finde many doing; it may be he will come in prayer time, it may be he will come in the morning, when many thousands shall be at their prayers in their families: it may be he will come at night, when all are at prayer in their houses; it may be he will come on the Sabbath, when all the Countrey [Page 224] is at Church, hearing of Sermons, hee shall finde many thousands doing▪ and praying But blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when hee comes, shall find so praying so hearing, so receiving the Sacrament: He shall find many believing but so believing gets the blessing: many professing but it is so professing that gets the comfort. I say, all the blessings of God are promised to the right manner of doing. Now, what is it, when we doe duties, what doe we look for? Is it not for a blessing? Why doe we doe the duties, if we doe not doe them so as we may get the blessing? Now except we observe the right manner of doing them, all is to no purpose.

Reason. 4. Christs ex­ample.Fourthly, another Reason is, the example of Jesus Christ; Christ hath given us an example that we should doe as he did: Now hee did not onely doe that which his Father bid him doe, for ma [...]ter, but for manner, both in all the words hee spake, and in all the deeds that hee performed. For the words he spake, As the Father hath said unto me, even so speak I, Joh. 12. And in Joh. 14.31.J [...]hn 12. John. 14.31. As the Father hath given me commande­ment even so doe I. Mark, he did not onely obey his Father in the matter of his command, but in the manner of it. And as Christ hath done thus, so all that are Christs: all the servants of God in all ages, they have been very carefull, especially of the right manner of obeying God. As it is said of Noah, Gen. 6 22, As the Lord commanded Noah, even so did he, just as the Lord commanded him; he did not onely make an Arke, but so hee [Page 225] made all the roomes: so hee made it in the same forme and figure, and in the same similitude, just as the Lord set him downe the patterne, even so did he. So the Lord sets down the patterne of every good word and work, of all our pray­ers, and Sermons, and hearing, and conference, and keeping the Sabbath, and speaking holily: all our actions have their patterne set downe in the word of God. Now as wee are to doe the things, so wee are to doe them in the same manner, as the Lord commands, even so must we doe.

Fiftly and lastly, except we doe it in a right manner, except as wee come to the duty, Reason. 5 From Gods glorie. so wee come to the right manner, wee can never glorifie God; The glory of God lies in the manner of doing of things. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good workes, and glorifie your Father which is in heaven, Matth. 5.16. Mark, the light must not shine onely in our lives and con­versations; but so that the duty must be a means to the glorifying of God. Now the means must have its proportion, and likenesse, and nature, and mold, and frame, from the nature of the end. Look how the end is that the dutie lookes unto, so must the frame and fashion of the duty be: Now if the end of all our actions be, that God may be glorified, that must put a forme and fashion upon every duty, that it may be so, that he may have glory. Suppose a man pray e­very day in his family, and call all his houshold, his servants, and wife and children, and all un­der [Page 226] his roof about him every morning and e­vening: he may dishonour God by prayer eve­ry day on this fashion: if a man pray coldly, and carelesly, for forme and fashion, without faith, and life: he makes all the ordinance of God vile, and all the worke of God contemptible: his houshold sleeps, one snorts it may be; another is infinitely prophane, it may bee; and though there be divers that would fain be quickned, and wakened, yet his prayer is so cold▪ there is no life, nor heat▪ nor warmth in it, that God is ex­ceedingly dishonoured, and all are thereby ra­ther worse then better. So for a mans preaching, though it be never so good a duty, yet hee must labour to preach so, as the Apostle speakes of his preaching and labour in the work of the Mini­stery, how he may edifie others, and save his own soule. So fight I, not as one that beats the [...]ire; but so as I may get the mastery: We must so preach, that we may attain the conversion of the people; or else we may rather doe as Hophni and Phineas, the sonnes of Fli, that made the Table of the Lord contemptible, and the Sacri­fice of the Lord loathsome in the eyes of the peo­ple: So may we do with the ordinance of God.

Take any duty of religion, if it be not done aright, God hath no glory by it. Suppose thou wouldest reprove thy brother, and tell him of his fault▪ and check him for his backwardnesse, or om [...]ssion of some duty, and for the commissi­on of some sinne; if thou doe not doe it with a spirit of compassion, and bowels of Jesus Christ, [Page 227] with an humble heart, with a feeling and a pure conscience; I say thou gettest a blot to thy own selfe, and causest God to be ill spoken of, and the very way of his name to be dishonored: This will be the effect of it; and so in every other dutie. And so I come to the use.

Is it so, Ʋse. 1. To reprove those that barely doe duties, without looking to the manner. that we must not onely come to the Sacrament; but come aright; or doe any dutie, but we must do it in a right manner? This servs to condemne that naturall popery that is in mens hearts, that is of opus operatum, of the deed done; this is the religion of the Church of Rome, that so a man doe the duty (indeed it is better if it bee done in a right manner, but) if it be done, there is somewhat a man may look for by that. If a man come to the Sacrament, the very eating of the Host, the very partaking of the body of Christ, they make it meritorious: so the very hearing of so many Sermons, the very saying of so many prayers, the very performanec of so many duties, the very thing it self, na­kedly considered, it is of some validity. This is rooted in the hearts of men, we see it up and downe, people doe the duty, and think all is well enough, when they consider not how it is done. People pray, but not with zeale; they heare, but not with reverence: People come to the Sacrament, not for the better, but for the worse, they come not in a right manner; and yet every one hopes to speed, and builds himselfe on this, that God accepts of him. But this is the folly of mens hearts; it is an evident argument [Page 228] that men goe foolishly to work in the wayes of God. It is the brand of a foole not to be able to observe circumstances. Aristotle the heathen, hee saith, it is the part of a wise man to think of, and understand the manner of actions; as a wise man saith, he observes circumstances. It is a part of wisdome to observe the right circumstances of every action, as it is Ephes. 5.15. Walke circum­spectly, that is, accurately, as it is in the originall, not as fooles, but as wise. Marke, hee perswades them to a right manner of walking; not only to walk in a good course, in praying, and hearing, in obedience and sobrietie, in temperance, faith, and diligence in our callings; but doe it accu­rately, in a right manner; doe it as wise men, and not as fooles, they doe it in a wrong manner. It is the part of a foole, I say, to doe a thing, and to leave the right manner of doing it. Now this is nothing with God, the Lord doth not esteeme any action, though it bee never so frequently done, except it bee done with his owne stamp, except it have his owne character upon it.

I remember a story in 2 Kings 17.26. The Assyrians there observed, that God sent Lions a­mong them, because they did not observe the right manner of the God of Israel: they wor­shipped the God of Israel; but because they ob­served not the right Manner of his word, hee sent Lyons among them, to teare and devoure them in pieces. So though wee pray, and heare, and read, and professe, and have a name that wee live; and though we be taken for good people, & [Page 229] heap up duties from day to day, and vie perfor­mances; and though we doe them as many times as the children of God; nay, though we could do them ten thousands times oftner then they, yet if we doe them not in a rightmanner, if wee know not the manner of the God of heaven, and earth, with humble hearts, and selfe-denying spirits, with holinesse of affection, and with puritie of heart: if a man doe them not in a right manner, the Lord will teare him in peices, and hee shall have no deliverance for all that.

Another use shall be, what may be the reasons why people are so willing generally, Ʋse. 2. The rea­son why men re­gard the matter and not the manner of duties. to doe du­ties for the matter, and care not to doe them in a right manner. It will not be amisse a little to shew the mystery of this thing: for we see every man is willing to doe duties, every man will be praying, and comming to Church, many repro­bates, and God knows how many carnall hearts are in this congregation, some drunkards it may be, some adulterers, some it may be, that com­mitted whoredome the last night, some that have been swearing even now, and deceiving in their shops, there are many carnall hearts: yet every man is willing to do duties, to hear, and to pray. Now what may be the reason that people are willing to doe good duties, and yet are loath to come off with their carnall harts? There are four reasons.

The first is this,Reason 1. The mat­ter of du­ties easie. Because the matter of the dutie is easie, but the manner is difficult. It is an easie matter to pray, to say, Lord, I have sin­ned [Page 230] against heaven, and against thee. Lord, I have sworne, I have been a drunkard. I have disal­lowed the Sabbath, I have done this and that, I pray thee pardon and forgive me, and give mee thy grace; it is an easie matrer to doe this. It is easie for a man to come to Church, and marke what the Mi [...]iner saith, and follow him from point to point, and it may be goe over it to his family. This is good, there are few that come thus far. And so it is easie to come to the Sacra­ment, to take the Bread and the Cup, and to pray for a blessing, this is easie; but, when a man comes to a duty in a right manner, here is difficulty, when a man doth it with a How; Take heed How you beare. He doth not call upon people to hear, that is not the matter; there needs no great di­ligence for that: but if you will consider How you hear, take heed to that. Here must be a great deal of circumspection; the soul must be marvel­lous painfull, a man must offer violence to his own soul; a man must fight against his own wil, a man must beat down his own spirit, he must cruci­fy his own thoughts, must mortify his own mind & beat down his own soul. It is a hard thing to do it in a right manner, as the Lord commands, if we consider now how to doe it. This is certaine, flesh and blood cannot abide to take pains; if it can serve God with ease, and pray with ease, that it will doe; but for a man to weep before God, for a man to indict his heart to the throne of grace, to rend his bowels before his Maker, to t [...]are the caule of his heart upon his knees; for a [Page 231] man to vow to God, and pay them; for a man to rid his hands of all the wages of iniquity, for a man to purifie himselfe as Christ is pure, for a man to wrastle with God, and to take grace accor­ding to the covenant of grace, with life and power, to doe it in a right manner: here is religion, and this men cannot abide.

And so for the Sacrament, for a man to come in a right manner, Oh it is difficult to flesh and blood; for a man to goe and examine all his life, to reckon up all his conversation, to anotomize himself from his cradle to this moment; to con­sider how he hath sinned in his calling, in his fa­mily, in his shop, in his company, in his spe [...]ch, and in his life; to goe and judge himselfe of these, and condemne himselfe, and to accept of his owne punishment, to goe and wrack his owne thoughts, and crucifie his owne soule: Oh! this is hard, men cannot abide this: therefore they go and take the matter, they observe that, and leave out the manner.

Secondly, another reason is this,Reas. 2. The matter of duties may bee done with a proud heart. because the matter of duties may be done with a proud heart; there is no duty but a man may do it with a proud heart, and never bee humble. A man may pray, and use good words, and make good petitions, and have marvellous good language, and Scrip­ture phrases, and termes, and passages, and an admirable sweet tone, and yet have a proud heart. A man may come and preach a Sermon, he may preach so as that he may strangely affect the hearts of the people, and may make all [Page 232] the people wonder and admire at the gracious words that come from his mouth, and yet have a proud heart.

A man may heare, and heare oft, and hear the best Preachers in the Citie, and delight in hea­ring▪ and yet have a proud heart. A man may come to the Sacrament, and sit to ones thinking, as devoutly as any in the Church, and pray when the people pray, and give thanks when others give thanks, and have a kind of morall faith in the Covenant, and a morrall application of the promises, and yet have a proud heart. It is the manner of doing duties that humbles the soule, as St. Paul saith,Acts 20 Acts 20. You know in what man­ner I have beene with you. Why, what was the manner? In all humility of mind, saith he, being among the Ephesians, preaching to them in a right manner, leaving them the example of his owne patterne, doing all this in a right manner, he did it in all humility of heart. It is the right manner of prayer that pulls downe the heart be­fore God. It is the right manner of hearing the word, that makes a man melt at it. It is the right manner of comming to the Sacrament, that makes a man feele the comfort of God, and the promises of the Gospel, and to seek and find the admirable things contained in it.Reason. 3 The mat­ter of du­ties may be done, & yet a man be unholy. It is the right manner that makes a man walke lowly with his God.

Thirdly, another Reeson is; Because the mat­ter may stand with an unholy life. A man may do a duty for the matter of it, and yet be un­holy. [Page 233] This is plain; how many thousands are there that pray, and yet are vain, and covetous, and carnall? How many thousands heare Ser­mons, and yet are unprofitable? Ever hearing, and never come to the knowledge of the truth. If they were injurious before, they are injurious still; if they were cousners before, they are so still, if they were drunkards before, they are so still. A man may receive the Sacrament every month, and yet may have his lusts, and roll them as a sweet morsell under his tongue; he may delight in his secret lusts, and go on in the deadnesse of his heart. It is the right manner of worshipping of God, that purgeth the conscience, and purifieth the soule, and makes a man that there is no room for his corruptions, as you may see, 1 Thess. 2.10. You your selves know (saith the Apstle) how holily and unblamably we walked among you. He speaks there of his manner of walking, and hee saith to them, because it was in a right manner, it was an holy manner; such walking as excluded all unholinesse and prophanesse. Flesh and bloud cannot abide this. Men they love to pray and be proud; they love to hear sermons, and to have their profit; they love to professe religion, and still to carry their secret lusts in their bosomes. People love this alife, to go up to Gilgall and transgresse, to offer sacrifice every new Moon, and every morning, and to find the labour of their hands, this is right; but for a man to part with his ini­quity, that is the thing that goes against the haire.

[Page 234] Reas. 4. The matter of duties brings not the crosse.The last reason is, because the matter of duties bring not the crosse upon a man. A man may do all the duties of Religion, and never be persecuted for it: a man may be as devout as the devoutest man under heaven, and yet no body hate him for it, except he be devout in a right manner, and worship God in a right manner. One man may reprove another that is wicked. A drunkard may suffer a drunkards reproof, and be never the worse: A whore master may serve his quean so, he may call her so, and yet not be spighted, be­cause it is not right. It is the right doing of it that brings the crosse;2 Tim. 2.10 as in 2 Tim. 2.10. Thou knowest my manner of life. It was that that brought afflictions and persecutions.

We may see to this very day many thousands that seem devout men in the Church, they will pray, and will hardly misse any time of prayer morning or evening; and yet they are farre from being persecuted: nay, many of them are maine persecuters of the Gospel of God, enemies to the crosse of Christ, adversaries to the Saints of God.Act. 15.5. We see it plain in Acts 13.5. we read there of devout women that raised persecution against Paul. Marke, they were devout, and because it was not in a right mann [...]r, they persecuted the Apostles, and set themselves against them that were truly faithfull. Though wicked men do not love to pray aright, yet many of them are much for praying, they care not how much praying they have, and when they are at prayers, they will pray over from the beginning of the book [Page 235] to the end, they love it alife. But if they come to a prayer that moves the heart, that rifles the conscience, that dogges a man into his bosome, that laies a man flat on his face before God, they gnash their teeth at such a prayer. So they love preaching too; I, it is true, if it be preaching that is flaunting, and glosing, with the enticing words of mans wisdome: but if a man preach to the consience, if he preach the pure naked word of God: and carry it home to mens soules, this makes them gnash their very teeth, and they could eate the Minister of God for his labour. It is the right manner of duty that is accompanied with the crosse.

Thirdly,Vse 3. To labour to do du­ties aright. if we ought to be carefull to per­forme duties in a right manner, Let us be ex­horted in the feare of God, to go and quicken all our duties, to bring a soule into so many bodies; we have bodies of praying, and bodies of hear­ing, and bodies of receiving the Sacrament, and of good duties, let us get a soule into them, labour to do them in a right manner. The bare duty is like a carcasse. It is a Pro­verb of the Jewes, Prayer without preparation, it is as a carcasse without the soule, that is, a loathsome thing; so is prayer without life, and without a right manner of pouring it forth. Let us labour therefore in the feare of God, to pray, and pray aright, to heare, and to heare aright; to seek God, and to seek him with all our hearts, aright, and to do every thing in the right way.

[Page 236] Motives to perform duties in the right manner. 1. Motive. Numb. 11.14.Let us consider, first, we doe not pertake of any ordinance at all, except we doe it in a right manner. I remember a fit place for this in Num. 11.14. It is said there, The stranger shall eat the passover, and pertake of it according to the ordinance, and the manner of it. Where the Text puts in the Ordinance of the Passover, and the Manner of it. For it is all one, they are Synonyma's. So the Or­dinance in every duty, Gods ordinance in pray­ing, in hearing the Word, in the Sacrament, in reproof, in every good dutie, it is all one as the selfe-same thing. So that if we pray, and doe not pray in a right manner, we have not praied, we doe not partake of the ordinance. So when we come to the Sacrament, the ordinance of the manner of it is all one; it is one compleat con­crete action, we doe not partake of it, except we partake of both.

2. Motive.Secondly consider, it as nothing but hypocrisie, when a man prayes▪ and doth not pray in a right m [...]nner; when a man doth any dutie to God, and not in the right wise, it is nothing but hy­pocrisie, Mark how our Saviour Christ sets forth the hypocrisie of the Pharisee, Luke. 18.11. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himselfe, he marks his manner of prayer;Luk. 18.11 he doth not say, He stood and prayed This, these words, but Thus he prayed, he did not pray in a right manner: there was his hypocrisie, and that was the reason he went home not justified.

3. Motive. Mat. 15 6.Thirdly consider: it makes the Ordinance of God of no effect. Thus they make the Commande­ments [Page 237] of God of none effect, Matth. 15.6. Hee speakes there of their duties that they did in a wrong manner, and their expounding the Scrip­ture, that they did in a wrong wise; and their sacrifice, their offerings, and tithings, their pre­cepts, and many things that were all done after another fashion then God had commanded; therefore saith Christ, Thus, they make the Com­mandements of God of none effect. So we make all the duties of Gods worship of none effect. Wee know there is never an ordinance of God, but it hath great effect if it be rightly performed. Prayer is of great effect, it is able to rend hea­ven, it is able to pull down God to the soule, it is able to wrastle out a blessing, to quicken the heart, to obtain of God every thing we want: but if a man pray not aright, a man may pray, and go away never a whit the more holy, nor more quickned, nor neerer to heaven, nor com­fort. So preaching and hearing, they are admi­rable Ordinances, what powerfull effects have they wrought when they have beene done in a right kind? People have cried out and beene converted at them; and many a man hath been pulled out of the power of Satan to the King­dome of Jesus Christ. They had royall glorious effects upon many thousand soules. But what is the reason that our hearing is so in effectuall? Because wee heare not in a right manner, this makes the Ordinance of God of none effect, it makes Prayer of no effect, the word of no effect, the Sacraments and Sabbaths of no effect; [Page 238] you see people partake of these things, and are never the wiser.

Lastly, it cannot please God, it is onely the right manner of doing duties that pleaseth God, as in 1 Thess. 4.1. As yee have received of us, How yee ought to walke, and to please God, Mark, there is the manner, That yee may know HOW to walke, and by that to please God. It is not enough for a man to walke in good duties; that a man may doe, and not please God: but (saith he) yee have received the manner HOW to walke and to please God. It is the manner How that pleaseth God. A man may walke to hell upon heavens ground,Simile. he may go to hell in the wayes of God, it is possible. Suppose a man should go and take (if it were possible) all the surface of ground between this place and York, and lay it between this place and Dover, a man might go to Dover upon York ground. So many a man laies the Ordinances of God in hell way: he walkes in the way to hell, and there he layes his prayers, and there his hearing, and his good duties: hee prayes every day, and hears eve­ry day, and doth good duties every day, and yet walkes to hell; he goes to hell on heavens ground. The reason is, because hee doth the duty, and doth not observe the manner how he doth it.

The third thing is, the rule of direction, how wee may come to the right manner of recei­ving the Sacrament, that is, by preparing of a mans selfe: and the preparation is here set [Page 239] downe by the specification of it, namely, in ex­amining himselfe. Let a man examine himselfe, and so let him eate of that Bread, and drink of that Cup.

The generall scope of these words, and the A­postles meaning in them, is this, That

Every man must prepare himself before he come to the Lords Table. Observ. 3. Every man must pre­pare him­self, before he come to the Lords Table.

I cannot stand on this, I will only name it.

As in the sacrament of the Passeover, there was preparation to the Passeover. In Joh. 19.14. it is said of the Disciples of Christ, that they made rea­dy the Passeover. In Matth. 26. they made the Lamb ready, and the room ready, and themselves ready, and the Table ready, and every thing rea­dy. So in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, wherein Christ is the true Pascall Lamb, when we come to eate of him, wee must make every thing ready, faith ready, and repentance ready, and interest in the promises ready, and hunger and thirst after these spirituall dainties ready, every thing must be ready: or else, like a man that comes in­to the field to battle, that hath not gotten his sword, or his weapons ready, that is the way for himselfe to be killed: so it is when we come to the Communion, and have not all things ready, it is the way to be damned.

The Reasons of this are,

First,Reason. It is God ordinance because the Sacrament is an Ordinance of God: Now all the Ordinances of God re­quire reparation, they are all spirituall, and na­turally a man is carnall, and therefore cannot be [Page 240] prepared.Simile. As it is with wood, there is never a tree in the wood, but it is unprepared for buil­ding. Is there any tree in the wood of the fa­shion of a Chimney, or of a Lintell, or a Doore? It must first be prepared, as it is Prov. 24.27. First prepare thy work without, and then build thine house. So every ordinance is to build a man up in the feare of God, in the grace of God: and in Religion: Now man is naturally unprepared for it; First, a man must fell his wood, and then cut it, and hew it even, and carve it, and plane it fit, and prepare it before he build: So a man must hew downe his owne heart, he must hum­ble his owne soule, and qualifie all within him, and so be sanctified before hee be fit.

As for example: In prayer, a man must bee prepared to prayer before he pray; he must pre­pare his heart, and then Gods eares will hearken to it. In Psal. 10.17. The Lord will have the heart prepared before he heare the prayer. So it is with the word of God, a man must bee pre­pared before he heare it: As a man that preach­eth must be prepared before he preach, as Ezra is said to prepare his heart, Ezra 7.10. Hee pre­pared his heart to doe the Law, and to teach it. So a Minister cannot preach, except he be pre­pared beforehand, with a commission from God▪ with preserving knowledge, with a coale from Gods Altar, with a spirit of wisedome and un­derstanding, with a law of kindnesse in his lips, with meditation, and with a Theam fit­ted in his mouth for the people, hee must be [Page 241] prepared with a burning and a shining light; or else hee shall not edifie the congregation: So it is with all other ordinances. For humbling of a mans soule, a man cannot humble his heart, except he be prepared to it, Amos 4.12. Prepare to meet thy God, he speaks of humiliati­on. If a man would humble himselfe before God, if he be not prepared, if his heart be not prepa­red to let go the world, his worldly profits, and vain pleasures, and carnall acquaintance, his wonted lusts, and former delights. If hee bee not prepared to let these goe, when he comes to keep a Fast, or to afflict his soule, and goes a­long to do the dutie, to lay himselfe down be­fore Almighty God, some lust or other will stick in his teeth, and intercept his heart, hee shall never be able to doe it: as Samuel said to the people; If you will turn to the Lord, prepare your hearts to doe it, 1 Sam. 7. So it must bee in all the ordinances of God, and much more in the Sacrament.

Secondly, another Reason is,Reason. 2 Christ hath made preparati­on for us in the L. Supper. because the Lord Christ hath made great preparations to provide the Lords Supper; therefore wee must be prepared to eate it. You know what a great deale of adoe there was before this Supper was made. Christ must be incarnate, and fulfill all righteousnesse, he must conclude it upon his suffering; he must tread the wine-presse alone, and suffer himselfe to be beaten and rejected of God, and men, and suffer death, the cursed death of the Crosse, all these things were concluded upon, [Page 242] before this holy and blessed Supper was provi­ded. Come (saith hee) I have prepared my dinner, Matth. 22. Mark, Christ is fain to prepare his dinner, he makes a great Feast: there was great preparation for it; so there must be great prepa­ration of our soules before we can come to this holy banquet. It is true among men, there may be great preparation for a feast, and little or no­thing for the eating of it. Sometimes there are two or three dayes preparation for a Feast, and it is eaten presently. The reason is, because man naturally hungers after meat and drink, and he alwayes provides twice or thrice in twenty foure houres, for eating and drinking: But the Lords Supper is a spirituall banquet, a man is every day, and houre, and moment, naturally unfit for it; and there is much adoe to put an edge up­on mens appetites, and a keennesse upon mens desires, that they may bee fitted and prepared for it.

Reason. 3 Christ lookes for good en­tertain­ment.Thirdly, another reason is, because the Lord Christ, when he administers himselfe in this hea­venly mystery, he offers to come into the soule, and he looks for good entertainment; and there­fore of necessity there must bee preparation for it. You see when a mortall man, an earthly Prince, or a Noble man comes to another mans house, what a deale of preparation there is to provide for him: there is meat made ready, and purging the house, and sweeping the yard, and trimming up the very pales, and every thing, and making clean all the Chambers, and riding [Page 243] out whatsoever fills it, and every thing that is out of order is set in tune, And, what will my Lord think? and what will his Majesty think? he will think he is slighted and contemned: And when he comes in, it may be, his owne children shall serve, and his owne wife wait at the Table; and there is running up and down of errands, and a great deale of adoe to give such a one entertain­ment. There is preparation to entertain a man, as Saint Paul said to Philemon, I will that thou pre­pare me a lodging: how much more when the eter­nall God shall come under a mans roof, and dine with him?

Lastly,Reason 4. It is part of Christs last Testa­ment. Because the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, it is a part of Christs last Will and Te­stament. Now it is a terrible thing when we know our Lords will, and prepare not for the doing of it. Look in Luke 12.48. he that knew it not, did things worthy of stripes; but in verse 47. That servant that knew his Lords will, and prepa­red not himselfe, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes, that man shall be damned with much damnation: he shall be dam­ned deeper then any body. Dost thou know that the Lords Table, that this blessed Sacrament, it is part of Christs last Testament? and wilt thou not prepare thy selfe for it, to get an humble heart, and labour for a holy life, and seek for a thirsty soule, and vow upon new obedience, and enter into Covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ, for a better kind of conversation for the time to come? Wilt thou not go and examine thine [Page 244] own soul, and go and reforme whatsoever is a­misse in thy family, in thy place and calling? Wilt thou not do these things to prepare for this holy will of Jesus Christ? thou shalt be dam­ned deeper then any body else, because this is a part of Gods last Will and Testa­ment, and thou knowest it, and therefore woe unto thee if thou prepare not for it.

THE DVTIE OF THE REPROVER, AND The Persons reproved, SET FORTH In a SERMON Preached, By that Reverend and faithfull Mi­nister of Gods Word, WILLIAM FENNER, B.D. Sometime Fellow of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, and late Parson of Rochford in Essex.

London, Printed by T.R. and E.M. for J.S.

THE DUTY OF REPROVERS And Persons reproved, A Sermon preached by Mr. WILLIAM FENNER Minister of Gods Word.

Pov. 29.1.

He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

THese words, by reason of the ambiguity in the Hebrew tongue, they bear two expositi­ons, and our English can suffer but one.

The first Exposition is this, He that reproveth another, and hardeneth his owne neck, shall sudden [...]y be destroyed, and that without [Page 248] remedy. The othet is as we have it here transla­ted, He that being often reproved, hardeneth his necke, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

I desire to speak of both these expositions, fot feare I should misse the true sense of this Text.

For the first, it is a truth of God every where confirmed in the Scriptures, that hee that re­proves another, and yet hardeneth his owne heare, hee doth but make a rod for his owne back, hee puls sudden destruction upon his owne selfe.

Then Secondly, there is no hinderance from the context, but that this may bee the meaning of the text: you know the Proverbs have little or no coherence, except two or three chapters. Indeed there is a coherence in them, but gene­rally through the Proverbs there is none; so that if the text it selfe will beare one exposition as well as another indifferently, the meaning none can tell, onely as it is hit.

Thirdly and lastly, the Text it selfe savours this exposition: for so the word in the Hebrew is, A man of reproofes, that hardens his owne neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without re­medie.

Now the Question is. Whether the wise mans meaning here be of the actuall reproof, the reproving of another; or of passive reproof, this is undetermined which of these is meant.

A man can have no light from the coherence, [Page 249] none in the world; and from the text it selfe, there is as much reason why we should expound it one way (even almost) as the other. So that I say, for feare I should let goe the true meaning of the wise man. I desire to speak a little of the active sense. He that often reproveth another, and yet hardeneth his own neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. From hence I may ob­serve, that.

A reprover (whether a Master or a Minister,Observ. 1. A guilty hardned reprover, shall be destroyed. or a Magistrate, or a Father, or a private Christian, be he what he will be) that reproveth another, and yet is guilty himselfe either in the same kind, or else in another, or in any kind) and hardeneth his own heart in it, that man shall suddenly be destroyed without remedy.

Take a Preacher that preacheth strict doctrine to the people, that is very zealous against their sinnes, he is up with hell and damnation against their filthy courses: he preacheth for quickning, but himselfe is not quickned; hee threatneth judgments against hardnesse of heart, and yet he hath a hard heart himselfe; this man puls de­struction upon his owne pate. Hee is like the Pharisees, that imposed upon others grievous bur­dens and heavie to be born, but would not touch them with one of their fingers themselves, Matth. 23.4.

The Reason of this is, because

First such a reprover of sinne, Reason 1. It is a­gainst his office. it is against his office: the office of a reprover binds him to be blamelesse as the Apostle speakes, A Bishop must be blamelesse, 1 Tim. 3.2. Every Christian [Page 250] should be blamelesse; how much more Ministers, that beare the office of reprovers? they should be blamelesse. Nay, if a man, though hee take not the office of a reprover, yet if he beare the person of a reprover (as every private Christian must when God calls him to it: for every man may be called to reprove) though he have no au­thority over another, though hee bee a private man, he may beare the person though not the of­fice of a reprover. Now a man must be unculpa­ble, and unblameable himselfe, or else hee sinnes against his person. If a man reprove another for being carnall, himselfe must be spirituall, Gal. 6.1. If any man be overtaken with a fault, yee that are spirituall, restore him. The reprover, the exhor­ter, and admonisher, must be spirituall, if hee would draw another to be spirituall.

Reason. 2 He cannot reprove to a right end.Secondly, such a reprover as is guilty himselfe in that kind, or in any other kind, hee can never reprove to a right end. Why seest thou a moat in thy brothers eye, and considerest not the beame in thine owne eye? Matth. 7. vers. 3. Why (saith he) to what end? what is that thou lookest at, thou art severe to espye faults in thy brothers eye? To what end doest thou re­prove him? What is the reason? What is the thing thou wouldst have, that thou find­dest fault with him? Why seest thou a mo [...]t in thy brothers eye? As if hee should say, thy end can never bee good, it cannot bee to doe thy brother good: for then thou wouldest doe thy selfe good first: It is not because thou hatest sin; [Page 251] for then thou wouldest detest thy owne sinne. It cannot bee out of a good principle, or to a good end. It is either because thou art a busie body in other mens matters, or thou art censorious, thou lovest to be medling; or because thou hatest thy brother, and wouldest wreak thy malice on him; thou wouldest fain shame and disgrace him, and by beating him downe, get thy selfe up; or thou wouldest get a cover to thy owne conscience; it must be some such end, it cannot be a good end. Christ puts it to a mans conscience, why hee reproves his brother, when hee is faulty him­selfe.

Thirdly, another Reason is,Reason 3 Not in a right man­ner. such a reprover can never doe it in a right manner, as Christ saith, Matth. 7.4. How wilt thou say to thy bro­ther, let me pull the moat out of thine eye, when be­hold a beam is in thine owne eye? How wilt thou doe it? In what fashion, or sort? How wilt thou be able to bring this about? A man that is a reprover, had need to have a very cleare sight of his owne, that sees another mans faults, and will set another to rights; he had need to have a good judgment, to see all the circumstances of reproof, and rebuke, that deals with another. As long as a man hath a beam in his owne eye, as long as he hath lusts in his own heart, that will blind his judgment, and darken and cover his eyes and make him that he shall not be able to see to goe about it. How canst thou possibly say to thy brother, let me pull the moat out of thine eye, when there is a beam in thine own eye?

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[Page 252]A man that is to reprove another, a Master that will reprove his servant, or a father his children, or a Minister that will reprove his people, or a Magistrate that will reprove those that are committed to his charge, or any bro­ther that will reprove another, he must do it with a spirit of compassion, with bowels of pity, with a sense and feeling: there is a great deale of wisdome and discretion to be obser­ved in this act. Now when a man hath a beam in his owne eye, how shall he be able to do it? That man that is faulty and guilty himselfe, ei­ther he must reprove too harshly, and rigorously, or too sparingly, or too insultingly, hee must do it in a wrong manner, it can never be sin­cerely and truly done, as long as a man hath a lust in his own heart, and he himselfe is guilty and faulty, that is a reprover of his brother. Nay, the party reproved, is holpen to retort on him, How dost thou tell me of pride, and worldlinesse, and c [...]vetousnesse? Who so proud and covetous as thou? Thus a man shall be ready to be hit in the teeth.

Reason 4. It is hypo­crisie.Fourthly, such a reprover is an hypocrite. It is no Christian reproof for a man to do so. Wilt thou go and find fault with thy servant for his lazinesse in thy service, when thou art lazie in Gods service? Wilt thou find fault with thy brother for his pride, and thou art full of fa­shions? Wilt thou condemne the sinnes of the times, and thou livest in some lust? This is no­thing but hypocrisie. Thou makest as if thou [Page 253] didst stand so much for obedience to God; and oh! there is this and that sin against God, when thy selfe is a sinner in that, or in another kind; this is hypocrisie, as Christ saith here, Thou hy­pocrite, first cast the beam out of thine owne eye, and then thou shalt see clearly to cast the moat out of thy brothers eye. Thou hypocrite: Mark, it is an act of hypocrisie when a man goes to find fault with ano­ther, before he has gone to redresse his owne soul; to purge his owne conscience, and have shook hands with the wages of iniquity his owne selfe, before a man have done this, it is hypocrisie to deal with another. For when a man reproves ano­ther he takes a form upon himselfe of one that is zealous against sin, and an enemy to all sinfull pra­ctises: Now what is this but hypocrisie, when a man hath not this in him that he pretends? when a man finds fault with anothers pride, as if he were humble forsooth, with anothers worldlinesse as if he were liberall; when a man doth so, he incurres the guilt of hypocrisie in repro­ving another.

Fifthly, another Reason is,Reason 5. It makes inexcusa­ble. because such a re­prover is inexcusable, his reproving of another mans sinne, makes him inexcusable for his owne, as the Apostle speakes, Rom. 2.1. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art, that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou con­demnest thy selfe, for thou doest the same thing. Marke, thy owne mouth shall condemne thee; thou findest fault with another mans pride: it seemes he is to be condemned for it, then God [Page 254] condemns thee for thy pride. Thy pride is a faire mark for Gods justice, because thou con­demnest another. Dost thou find fault with a­nothets hardnesse of heart, and ill will and back­wardnesse to any thing that is good, and yet thou art backward? Thou exposest thine owne soul to the judgement of God; thou hast taught (as it were) Almighty God how to condemne thee for thy owne lusts and corruptions.

Reason 6 It is ab­surd.Again sixthly, another Reason is this, because such a reprover is an absurd person. It is absurd to reprove another, and be faultie ones selfe, as it is Rom. 2.21. Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thy selfe? Thou that preachest another should not steal▪ dost thou steal? This is a strange absurd thing, this reproof doth not sound well in thy mouth: thou stealest, and forbiddest stea­ling; thou preachest against adultery, and com­mittest it; thou speakest against such and such sinnes, thou findest fault with them in the chil­dren of God, and art guilty thy selfe, or in thy children or servants, or neighbours, and art obnoxious to them in thine owne practise: this is an absurd thing: these rebukes and reproofes sound not well out of thy mouth.

Reason 7. It is im­pudencie.Lastly, it is a signe of impudencie, Psal. 50. What hast thou to doe to take my covenant into thy mouth, when thou hatest to be reformd, and hast cast my covenant behind thy back? And to the wicked God saith, What hast thou to doe to take my statutes or covenant into thy mouth, since thou hatest instruction? What hast thou to doe to [Page 255] reprove thy brother? If hee be proud, what is that to thee, as long as thou art proud thy selfe? thou goest and slingest stones at him: sling them at thine owne heart first. It is a signe of impu­dencie.

But it may be objected, Shall not a wicked magistrate punish sinne, and a wicked Minister preach against the corruptions of the times, and a wicked master rebuke his servants, and a wicked father correct his children? Because he is wicked himselfe, shall hee make himselfe more wicked, and contract more guilt upon his soule?

I answer, that such a man is in a dilemma; for the man is bound to reprove; in regard of his office, and yet he is bound in conscience to go and amend himselfe first. I say, he is bound to reprove all those that God calls him to re­prove, in regard of his office: but in regard of conscience hee is bound to go and amend his owne fault first. Therefore if it be a Magistrate, such as sit upon life and death, or Nisi prius, or a­ny action between man and man, if hee condemn a malefactor, and there remember himselfe guil­ty, hee is bound in conscience to arise from the Bench, and goe and amend his owne sinne. And wee that are Ministers, when we preach to the people, and remember our selves guilty, let us lay our hands upon our mouthes, at least in votis, before ever we have the face to go and find fault with the people, it is necessary it should be so. Therefore, I say, a man is in a dilemma, if he doe [Page 256] not reprove sinne, it is against his office, and the person he beares, when God cals him to it; and if he do reprove, then hee sinnes against the command of God, that binds him to bee blamelesse that is to beare the place of a re­prover.

Vse 1.The Use of this is, first, to let us see, that a man that reproves (I speak not of Ministers only, or of Magistrates, or Fathers, but of every man that reproves, either by tongue, in word, or in thought, if he finde fault in this thought with another man for his sinnes, and his strange do­ings) let him take heed he doth but pull a judge­ment upon his owne head; he makes himselfe in­excusable, as in Rom. 2.3. the Aposte there speaking of this very point, Thinkest thou, O man, that judgest him that doth these things, and doest them, that thou shalt escape the judgement of God? A man that judgeth another, and doth the same things, that man certainly shall not escape the judgement of God, as his brother doth not e­scape his judgement.

Vse 3. To be un­blameable ere we re­prove.Secondly, another Use shall be for counsell to every man and woman (for it is every ones case, God hath called every one of us to reprove one another, Ministers to reprove the people, and Magistrates to judge between man and man, and every neighbour is to reprove when he is called thereto. Now) let us marke and observe this rule, let every one of us labour with all care and conscience, to be unblameable, unoffensive, to goe humble our owne soules, to cleanse our own [Page 257] consciences, that we may be able to perform this duty. Beloved, we wrong our own soules, if we find fault with others, and suffer our selves to bee faulty.

When Paul was to preach to the people, knowing that his office of preaching required reproving, you see lest he should wrong his own soul, how he laboured to be unblameable▪ saith he, I beat my body down, when I preach to others, lest I become a cast-away.

Again as a man wrongs his owne soule, so he dishonours God. It cannot be unknown what an unthankfull office, the office of a reprover is; the world cannot abide reproof, The wicked hate the reprover in the gate Isa. 29.21. The world is full of scorners, that hate reproofe. Prov. 15.12. Though some men be not so wicked as to hate reproofe, yet at least they think hardly of them that reprove; they think they usurp authority over them, and crow over them, or they under­take to bee their betters; as a reprover under­takes in that thing to bee a mans better. Now when a man is reproved, he is apt to think that his neighbour crowes over him, and excerciseth authority upon him, as if he would grow on him, and be his Iudge. You see Lot when he reproved the Sodomites, though as gently as ever he could. My brethren, doe not so wickdly, presently for all that they thought hardly of him. What, will this fellow be a judg that came but the other day to sojurn? Gen. 19. Presently they thought ha [...]dly of him. So we see the Prophet, hee doth but find fault [Page 258] with Amaziah for his fault, and presently the Kings eyes are blinded, and his heart hardened, Who made you of the Kings counsell? 2 Chron. 25.15. hee thought him a medler, that pried into State-affaires, and into the Court and Kingdome. A man cannot reprove his brother for his sinne, but it is a thousand to one, if his brother bee not ready presently to pry into him and to look nar­rowly into his wayes, to espy a hole in his coat if he can, or to make one if he cannot: all mens eyes are upon him, and they look strictly and straitly; and if any thing in the world bee amisse they will be sure to mark it, and to make more of it, to make mountaines of mole-hills. When the blind man did but find fault with the Phari­sees and reprove them a little for persecuting of Christ, what say they? Art thou altogether concei­ved and born in sinne, and wilt thou teach us? Joh. 9.34. Presently they looked on his blindnesse, and birth, Certainly he is a viler sinner then o­ther men, and shall he goe find fault with them? If we mean to reprove another, let us labour to be unblameable, to be godly and holy, to reform our own wayes, let us be sure to purge our own famlies, to cleanse our own soules, to rid our owne hands of all the wayes of sinne and iniqui­ty, lest God be dishonoured. The word of God will be flung in his owne face back againe, and the reproof if it be never so sweet, and never so wise it will be retorted in a mans own teeth▪ if hee be not unblameable himselfe. And a man had need to be humble, and low [...]y, and gentle, [Page 259] and meek, and to put on all bowels and gentlenesse of heart, if he will reprove.

All sinnes are not to be reproved alike, some with sharpnesse, some with lenity. Hee that is a Mountebank that will open a veine for every wheal and pimple.Simile The reprover is like them in Isaiah, when they deale with the Cummin and Fetches, a little rod will beat them out, but when they come to the Corne, Wheat and Rie, they beat them out with the Cart-wheele: So when we meet with a hard-hearted spirit, wee must use stronger corrosives to them, and gentler admonitions and rebukes towards others that sinne with a lesser and a weaker hand. But this is a thing that a man must be marvellous carefull that reproves. Nay, let a man be unblameable for the present, if he have been faulty before, if it were seven, or ten, or twenty yeares be­fore, if it be knowne, it is a thousand to one, but he shall be hit in the teeth with it when he re­proves: you committed adultery, and you did steale at such a time, if it were never so long a­goe, Therefore St. Paul would not consent to take Mark with him in the ministery. Acts 15. because he had been offensive to the Church before. We had need be marvellous carefull and wary if wee will reprove.

I had thought to have named other Uses, but I leave this Exposition, and take it as it is passively interpreted.

[Page 260]He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

The se­ceond x­position.THough it may be expounded the other way, yet I rather incline to this. The Reason is, Because this is the constant current of all In­terpreters generally. I meet but with one or two that expound it the other way; but all passive­ly, He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, &c.

Secondly, because the word in the origiall is, A man of reproofs that hardeneth his own neck. Now, though it be indifferent whether it be active or passive, yet look in the Scripture, and you shall finde it more often passive then active. A man of reproofs, that is, a man often reproved, in the passive. As in Isay 53.3. Christ is a man of sorrows, not making others sorry, but made sorry passive­ly. And so in Dan. 9.23. It is said Daniel was a man of desires, that is, not a man desiring other men, or other things, not actively desiring, but passively, desired, beloved of God exceedingly. So it is said of Jeremiah, Jerem. 15.10. he was a man of strife, not a man striving with others, but a man striven with. So in 1 King. 2.26. A man of death, that is, not killing others, but to be killed himselfe. It is taken more frequently in the passive sense; so we may more boldly take it so. A man of Reproofs, that is, reproved againe and againe, that hath received divers reproofs, and yet hardeneth his owne neck, shall suddenly be [Page 261] destroyed, and that without remedy. Here I might observe by the way, this point of Doctrine, That, The Lord doth not destroy man willingly.Doct. The Lord doth not destroy men wil­lingly.

He saith not, A man shall be destroyed with­out remedy; but a man when he hath sinned a­gainst God, when he hath committed sinne, and not onely so, but when he is reproved for his sin, and goeth on. The Lord doth not destroy a man nakedly, but upon consideration of sin.God de­stroyes not but for sin. Simile. Willingly the Lord doth not afflict any, Lament. 3. Mercy and punishment they flow from God, as the hony and the sting from the Bee; the Bee yeeldeth ho­ny of her own nature, but she doth not sting but when she is provoked: so the Lord is gracious, and good, and favourable, and kind, and blesseth his people from his own nature, but he doth not punish, and plague, and destroy, but being provo­ked by sin and iniquity. I will not stand to fol­low this point, I let it go.

The text it self contains the great mercie of God in lending a man a reproof.

And what a great sin it is, what a great ill it is for a man to sin against his reproof. The greatnesse of the ill is set down two wayes:

  • First, by the great sinfulnesse of the thing, it is called the hardening of a mans own neck.
  • Secondly, by the greatnesse of the punishment that God inflicts upon this sin, and that is,
    Observ. A great mercy to be repro­ved.
    he will de­stroy him, and without remedy.

For the first, namely, what a great mercie it is for God to let a man be reproved for his sins. [Page 262] It may bee proved by many places of Scripture, onely I find in Scripture it is brought as an ag­gravation of sinne when they sinned against re­proof, Hosea 5.2. saith hee, they are profound to commit sinne, though I have been a rebuker of them all. As if he should say, though I have been so mercifull as to shew them the danger of sinne, to tell them what would come of their wretched courses: though I have called them to repen­tance, and have given them warning what would be the issue of these things; yet for all this, for all my mercy, they have gone on in their sinnes though I have reproved them. This Though is a word of aggravation as we see in the speech of Daniel to Belshazzar; Thou, O King, hast not humbled thy selfe though thou knewest this: as if he had said, though the Lord let thee know the punishment upon thy Father▪ and the plagues of Nebuchadnezzar thy grandfather, though the Lord have let thee understand what it is for thee ro exalt thy selfe against him; yet thou art not humbled; he aggravates his sinne, So, this ag­gravates a mans sinne when he goes on, notwith­standing he is reproved. The reasons are,

Reason. 1. Reproofes come from love.First, because when God reproves a man of sinne: the reproof primarily comes out of love; therefore when he reproved Laodicea, and told her she was luke-worm, and said, I would thou wert either hot or cold: And since she was neither, he would spue her out of his mouth; he tells her whence the reproof flowed; because I love I re­prove: As many as I love, I rebuke, Rev. 3.19. It is [Page 263] not out of ill will that I tell thee of thy luke­warmnesse, and threaten to spue thee out of my mouth; I tell thee these things that thou mayst avoid that ill I say, Gods reprofes flow pri­marily from love to men, whereby he would have them lay aside their wretched courses, and avoid the judgements. Nay, it is an argument of hatred when a man doth not reprove his bro­ther of sinne. If God let a man goe on in sinne, and never tell him of his drunkennesse, nor ne­ver find fault with his pride and security, never convince him, or wound, or touch him, nor deal with him about his unsetled estate, and his rot­ten condition, it is a signe God hates the man: but when God reproves a man from day to day, Man, thou art a proud creature, thou shalt to hell for thy pride, and hypocrisie, and securitie, and harpnesse of heart: When the Lord reproves a man from day to day, this is an argument of love; the other is an effect of hatred, not to re­prove. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, saith Moses, but shalt in any wise reprove him, and not suffer sinne to be upon him, Levit. 19.17. Thou hatest thy brother when thou seest him sinne, and doest not warn him, and knowest he is guilty of sinfull courses, and doest not reprove him; and when thou hast time, and place, and opportuni­ty, and fit circumstances to reprove, and yet thou wilt not doe it, it is a signe thou hatest thy brother; it is the greatest degree of hatred one of them. If a man deny food for the body, and let a man rather die of hunger, then hee will give [Page 264] him meat, or let a man fall into a pit, rather then he will prevent the mischeif, a man is guilty of bodily murther: but thou art guilty of the soule of thy brother, if thou let him fall into sin. Thou thinkest thy brother is harsh, he will not bear with thee, he is hasty and testy: no, thou art in an er­ror, That man that hates reproof, erreth, saith Solo­mon. Prov. 10.17. Indeed a man should not be too sharp, but first tell his brother in private that he is in an er­ror: for reproof is a means of grace, it flowes from great love, it is the providence of God that hath cast it about, that thou shouldest have reproof gi­ven thee; if thou have a heart to take it, it is an argument of love.

Reason. 2 They tend to good. Another reason is taken from the primary end of reproof, which is to bring a man to good, to reduce him into a right way, to convert a man, to save his soule, that is the primary end of re­proof and admonition: therefore to go on in sinnes contrary to it, must needs be a great evill. As Solomon brings in the wisdome of the Father, Jesus Christ, calling upon people, O yee fooles, how long will yee love folly? turn at my reproof. Mark what followes, to what end; I will poure my spirit on you. There is the end he tells them O yee fooles, wretched people without understan­ding, that go on in sinne, and harden your owne hearts, that repent not, nor turne not to God, that will not submit to his wisdome, nor imbrace his word: yee fooles, that wrong your own souls, oh turne at my reproof. Why? This is the reason that God reproves a man on this fashion, it is [Page 265] that a man may have the Spirit of God granted him. If thou have an eare to heare reproof, and a heart to drink it in, and to weare it as a crown of gold on thy head, and as a chain about thy neck, thou shouldest have the Spirit of God for thy labour: the Lord reproves thee that thou mightest return back, and have his Spirit, and have mercie and forgivenesse. This is all the ill will that Gods Ministers beare thee, and all the hatred that reprovers shew, when they tell thee of thy sinnes whatsoever they be, that they may stop thy steps from going downe to Hell.

When the Lord sends thee Sermon upon Ser­mon, Preacher after Preacher, thou art called on day by day, (as you here in this place) This is the infinite goodnesse of God toward your souls; therefore your sinne is infinite great, if you do not amend, as the wise man saith, He that hates reproof shall surely die, Prov. 15.10. there is no remedy for that man, that man that puts off re­pentance, God reproves him from day to day, on the Sabbath day, and on the week dayes; hee goes to this man, and there he is reproved; and to another, and there he is reproved; and yet he goes on in this deadnesse and formality in the ordinances of God, that man shall surely die, there is no remedy, he sins against the infinite mercie of God.

Thirdly,Reason. 3 It is bru­tish to re­prove then there is no reason in the world why reproofe should be taked otherwise then with all willingnesse, and thankfulnesse, and chear­fulnesse. [Page 266] If a man have but the reason of a man in him, he must needs take reproof in good part; he must be a beast that doth not judge well of him that reproves him. There is an excellent place, Prov. 12.1. He that puts off reproof is bru­tish; he that hates reproof, is a brute, that man hath no reason in him. Art thou a swearer, and art reproved for it? thy brother tells thee thou wilt be damned for it. Doest thou chafe at that man? thou art a beast, thou hast no more under­standing then an Ox or an Asse.Simile As it is with a horse when the Ostler comes to rub him, he kicks with the heel; when he only beats off the dirt, he lifts up his hinder legge on him, and it may be wounds him: so thou hast no more understan­ding then a beast that finds fault with one that re­proves thee for thy sins. So that whatsoever thy sin be, he that tells thee of it, there is no reason in the world but he should be a dear man to thee. Me thinks of all men under heaven, godly Mini­sters that are faithfull in their place and calling, should be the dearest men to you upon the face of the earth. Why? because they reprove you, and tell you of your sins, and what will become of your souls, what will be the issue and Cata­strophe of all your wayes. You that come to Church every day, may read a Lecture in the Word of God, what will be your doom at the last day: you are told of your pride, and adulte­ry, of your whoredome and oaths, carnall Gos­pellers of their secure and carnall condition, and common professors of their formality, and other [Page 267] lusts that men are given to; you are told of all: I say, the feet of Gods messengers should be beau­tifull; you should hug the messengers, and put their reproofs in your bosomes, and let them have power and efficacie on your souls; and go and put them in practice.

The Use of this is,

First, is it so,Vse 1. The mise­ry to want reprovers that it is the infinite mercie of God to reprove men of their sinnes, to tell them of whatsoever is amisse in their hearts and lives? let me tell you, First, see here what an infinite punishment God is bringing upon that King­dome when hee is taking away reprovers, from them: when God takes away reprovers, he takes away all mercie and loving kindnesse. There­fore God when he threatned to deliver up Ju­dah, to curse that Kingdome, to plague them for their rebellion, and utterly to give them over, he saith he will take away the reprover; saith hee to the Prophet, Thou shalt be dumb, and not open thy mouth, thou shalt not be a reprover to this people, Ezek. 3.26. When the Lord would curse that people, and bind them over to a reprobate sense, and deliver them to wrath, the Prophet shall not be a reprover, he silences the Prophet. Or as Piscator thinks, the or Angel anger of God silenced him, or confined him to his house, that he should not prophesie. So when God silences his Mini­sters, that he takes them from a place, or threa­tens to take them away, it is a signe of heavie vengeance toward such a people. It may be wic­ked people laughed at them, and made it a mat­ter [Page 268] of nothing, they were glad that Ezekiels mouth was gagged, and it were no matter if the countrey were rid of a company of Puritans; though they had no such word then, they had as bad, they think all is well: but the time will come that they will curse the day that ever they provoked God to take away their Ministers; we enjoy them by the mercie of God, other places have lost them, God knows how soon wee may lose ours. In Hosea 4.4. the Lord there when he would set out the desperate estate of the children of Ephraim, he delivers them up to such a state and condition, that none should reprove them, Let none reprove another. If they will sinne let them; if they will go on in idolatry, let them; if they will harden their own hearts, let them; if they will die in sinne, let them; if they will pe­rish, and be damned for ever, let them. Let no man reprove another. It is a lamentable state.

Generally people are glad when the Land is swept of all the good Ministers, and the good ser­vants of God: they had rather heare a fine song in a Pulpit, of one that preacheth morally, or it may be preacheth his own selfe, or the like, but the time will come, when they shall say as Sa­lomon saith, It is better to heare the reproofe of the wise, then the song of fooles, Eccles. 7.5. People love alife to hear the song of fooles. When a foole comes up and preacheth, At what time so­ev [...]r a sinner shall repent of his sinne: And, Bee not just over much; and what need such adoe? Her [...] is more puther then needs, and abuse places, and [Page 269] wrest Scriptures. As for example, the thiefe on the Crosse was saved at the last with a word or two; and they bring the example of the Publi­can, that cried, God be mercifull to me a sinner, and went justified to his house rather then the Pha­risee that made long prayers. And tush, what need men be so zealous, and precise, and purita­nicall, Whosoever calls upon the name of God, shall be saved: people love alife such songs of fooles: but the time shall come when peoples eyes shall be opened, and their consciences awakened, and then they will wish, O that we had heard the re­proofe of the wise.

The second use makes against those that de­spise the reproofe of the wise, yee despise not men, Vse 2. but God; yee have despised me, Prov. 1.30. You think you despise a poore Minister, he is strict, & harsh with your souls, and presseth these things upon your conscience, and it may bee, more then he hath warrant to doe:Against despisers of reproof so you think you do not despise God, but one onely Minister: Nay, saith Christ, you have despised my reproofe. When you despise them that Christ sends, you despise him. This is an expresse and an explicite signe of a mans everlasting destruction, when he despiseth reproofe as in that speech of the Prophet to A­maziah, I know that the Lord hath determined to de­stroy thee, because thou hast not hearkened to my re­proofe, 2 Chron. 25.16. So I may say, I know that God hath determined to destroy a Nation, a Ci­tie, or a people, when they will not take coun­sell of Gods Messengers, when they will not [Page 270] hearken to instruction: They have beene called upon, nationall sinnes have been ripped up, pa­rochiall sinnes have beene spoken of, yet when they are told, they will not be reproved. We that are the Ministers of God, know that God will destroy as many as turn not at reproof. I let this passe.

I should now show the grievousnesse of this ill of standing out against reproof: it is expressed two wayes:The grie­vousnesse of stand­ [...]ng out a­gainst re­ [...]roof.

First, in the sinfulnesse of it, to harden a mans heart.

Secondly, in the punishment; He shall be destroy­ed without remedy. And in the destruction you may see here,

First, the unexpectednesse of it, He shall be destroy­ed suddenly.

Secondly, the totalnesse of it, Hee shall bee destroyed. The word signifieth to shatter all in peeces.

Thirdly, the irrecoverablenesse of it, without re­medy.

Fourthly, the sutablenesse of it, his punishment is according to his sin. Mark, as he hardened his own heart against God, so God will harden his heart against him: as no remedy would turn him from his sin, so no remedy shall turn God from his wrath: As his sin was in hardening his heart like a stone, so God shall deale with him as a stone is dealt with, he shall destroy him. The word in the originall signifies broken to peeces as a stone is broken, that is, the Lord will deale with him just [Page 271] in his own kind. Hence I might observe this do­ctrine, that The Lord proportions punishments to mens sin.Doct. God pro­portions punish­ments to sins.

Just as a mans sin is, so is the punishment. Da­vid sinned in numbring the people, 2 Sam. 24.15. and God punished him in that, Pharaoh sinned in destroying and drowning the males of the Isra­elites, God smote his first-born: He drowned their babes, and he himself was drowned in the sea. I might bring abundance of examples.

Now the Reasons of this are,

First,Reason. 1 To shew the eqvity of the punishment. because hereby a mans punishment ap­peare to be so much the more equall, and wor­thy. Retaliation is a most equall punishment to the sin; there is no inequality in it but this, that it is too mercifull, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, hurn for burn, wound for wound. You know an eye is equall for an eye: so when God punisheth a man just in his own kind, quid for quo, that as there was no remedy would turn him from his sin, so there shall be no remedy shall turn God from his wrath. Herein Gods punish­ment appeares to bee most equall, Revel. 16.5.6. Thou art righteous, O Lord, in that thou jud­gest thus: for shee hath shed the bloud of thy Saints, therefore thou hast given them bloud to drink, for they are worthy. Thou thirstedst after bloud, there it is for thee: so this is most equall, when men have dealt thus and thus with God, when God shall deal so and so with thee, thou canst not find fault. When a man drinks as hebrews, and reaps as he sowes, and finds as he brings, what inequa­lity [Page 272] is here? It shall come to passe, that as when I called they would not hear, so when they call, I will not answer, Zach. 7. When God calls upon thee, and thou wilt not hear, afterwards when thou callest for mercie, if he do not hear thee, it is just.

Reason 2. [...]t stops a mans mouth.Secondly, another reason is, because this stops a mans mouth, it convinceth a mans conscience; when a mans conscience finds that he is served in his own kind, that he is paid in his own coin, it stops his mouth. As Adonibezek he had cut off the thumbs and toes of 70. Kings: afterwards hee was served just so as he had dealt with others; he had cut off their thumbs and toes, and made them gather orts under his table; so afterwards his thumbs and toes were cut off. Now mark what his conscience saith, Judg. 1.7. As I have dealt, so God hath dealt with me. As if he had said, God knowes wherefore the children of Judah have done this: they know not why they cut off my thumbs, and the reason why they cut off my toes; God knowes what they looked at in pu­nishing me thus: but Gods just providence hath dealt thus with me; in this kind I served others. This is so palpable a punishment, so equall and just, that though the sin were committed twenty yeeres ago, yet a mans conscience will find out his sin twenty yeeres after. As Iosephs brethren they sold him, and after cast him into a pit, two and twenty yeeres after, when Joseph was harsh with them, see what their conscience sai [...]h; Doubtlesse we are guilty of our brothers bloud, when [Page 273] we saw the anguish of his soule, and he besought us, and we would not heare. As if they had said; What is the matter why the man is thus harsh? he ne­ver saw us before, why should he be so harsh, and we be strangers? Nay, saith conscience, you are well served, remember you were harsh to your brother; if you dealt so with him, marvel not if you be dealt so with. And after, when they came to their Inne, and found their mony, they wondred, What is this that God hath done? Their conscience, I warrant you, hit them in the teeth: without doubt they thought the mony that they took for selling of their brother, had humbled them as a Ghost: did not wee pay the man mony for his corne that we bought? Nay, saith conscience, you are rightly served, here is the money you sold your brother for, (though it were not so) without doubt con­science upbraided them. Naturally wee are apt to find fault with Gods judgements and quar­rel, but when conscience sees the equity of them, we have nothing to say.

Thirdly, all the standers by may see the equi­ty of it, when the punishment is according to the sinne: Nay, Divinity makes this argument, that there is a God to judge the earth, because men are punished in their owne kinde. I will shew you one example of Abimilech, that wretch, that slew seventy of his brethren upon one stone, Judg. 9.7. afterwards when he came to stand under the tower of Abel, a woman flung a peice of a milstone upon his head, and killed him: [Page 274] This was strange all the standers by might say, that Abimilech should be killed with a stone: no question the woman thought nothing, she flung the stone because she had nothing else to fling; it was strange that it should hit him so pat, it might have hit another as well as him; the stone might have fallen to the ground as well as on him; and that it should be by a woman, and a milstone too: Milstones are not used on the top of a Tower, and a milstone broken that a woman could lift it, and that he should be killed by a milstone, and not with a sword; nay, might all the standers by say, This God hath done, he was the sonne of a strange woman, and a woman hath killed him; he killed his brethren upon one stone, and now a stone hath killed him; all the world might be able to say; This God hath done.

The use of this is,

First, let no creature in the world complaine of Gods dealing, if he punish us according to our kind; he that kils with the sword, shall bee killed with the sword. He that stops his eares from hearing the poore, what shall his punishment be? He shall cry and not be heard. He that shewes no mercy, how shall he be punished? He shall re­ceive no mercie Iames [...].13. Woe to thee that spoy­ledst, and wast not spoiled: when thou ceasest spoy­ling, others shall spoyle thee, Isai. 33.1. Iudge not, (saith Christ;) what if I doe? Then thou shalt be judged. Thus God recompenceth the fruit of a mans doing. Here is no Momus can complain; [Page 275] no Aristarchus, that can find fault with the ju­stice and judgement of God.

Secondly, it is not amisse to consider and see how God proportions punishments to [...]

  • In Kind,
  • In Quantity,
  • In Quality,
  • In Time,
  • In Place, and other circumstances.

In kind: He shall eate the fruit of his owne wayes, that is, he shall be punished in kind. It is a similitude from a tree, every tree brings forth according to its owne kind; if it be an Ap­ple-tree, it brings forth Apples; if a Crab-tree, Crabs, a Pear-tree, Pears: So every sinner shall be punished in their kind, a Minister shall be punished in his kind, wicked Masters in their kind, servants in theirs, rich in theirs, poore in theirs: if a man be a drunkard, hee shall bee punished in one kind; if he be an adulterer, in another: Every man shall eate the fruit of his own wayes. Every sinne brings an homogeniall pu­nishment, according to the nature of it. I can­not stand to follow this, though it be very clear in Scripture.

Secondly, it is in Quantity; God propor­tions the punishment according to the sinne; he that sowes sparingly, shall reap sparingly; but he that sowes bountifully, shall reap bountifully. Little sinnes, little punishments; and great sinnes great [Page 276] punishments. There are little sins, moat sins, gnat sins, and there are Camel sins: so there are little and great punishments, some meet with many, some with fewer stripes. Just according to a mans sinnes, so the Lord shapes out the punish­ment, for great sinners, great plagues, and for e­very one according to his own measure. God hath a pair of Ballance that he means to weigh men in: As he weighed Belshazzar, so hee will weigh thee, and look how much sinne thou puttest in one scale, so much punishment God will put in the other; he will not abate thee one oath, not one idle thought, not one breach of the Sabbath, not one neglect of hearing the Word, or of o­ther duties: the Lord will put wrath in one bal­lance, as thou puttest sinne in the other; he will make the scales even to a haire: as he dealt with Belshazzar, He will lay righteousnesse to the line, and judgement to the plummet, and weigh thee out in the scales, and thou shalt have just accor­ding to thy sins.

As the Lord deales with his own people, he will not abate so much as a cup of cold water, but it shall be rewarded: he will reward all, from the greatest to the least; so he will deale with the wicked, there shall no sin passe unpunished.

Againe, [...]here is a proportion in the Quality ▪ If Adam sin in eating, he shall be punished in ea­ting; If the women of Judah sin in apparel, they shall be punished in apparel, Isay 3.24. In Wisd. 11.16. a man shall be punished in that that he sinnes in; if Absolom sin in his haire, he shall be punish­ed [Page 277] in it; Nebuchadnezzar might finde his sin in his brutish condition, and the Prodigall might find his sin in the Hog-trough: So if thou finde thy selfe in want, consider if thou hast not wa­sted thy meanes, if thou hast not beene vaine in building, and prodigall in spending, or gaming, or unnecessary bounty, and immoderate libera­lity, beyond thy means: Art thou punished in thy Trade, or Children, &c. see if thou hast not sinned in them: for where there is sin, God will proportion the punishment to the sin.

Fourthly, God proportions the punishment to the sin in regard of the time. The same houre that Belshazzar was drinking and quaffing in the Temple, the same houre the hand of God was up­on him; if it be not upon thee the same houre, it may be to morrow at the same houre. It may be thou hast sinned this day at such an houre, it may be God may strike thee to morrow at the same time, or this day seven-night, it may be the next year. Nebuchadnezzar was warned of his pride this yeare, and the same time twelve month the Lord drove him from among men. So in Acts 13.42. one Sabbath day the Iewes heard Paul preach and went out before the Sermon was quite done they were not able to stand to the blessing; the same day seven-night the Lord made the Apo­stles shake off the dust of their feet against them, and leave them to a reprobate sense.

Fifthly, the Lord proportions his punishments to the place. It is strange many times, that the drunkard should get his death in the same Ale-house [Page 278] where he got his liquor. In Judg 7. in that story of Oreb and Zeeb, Oreb at the rock Oreb, de­vised against the children of Israel, and upon the same rock he was killed, And Zeeb another per­secuter of the children of God; so the Psalmist calls them, he at the Wine-presse of Zeeb, took victuals from the children of Israel, and in the same place his own life was taken away.

Just as Judges and Magistrates at this day, they hang up men where they have done the villany. As they doe with Dogs and Cats, they carry them to the place, to the Cellar or the Buttery where they do the mischeif. But the beasts them­selves, though they have no reason, are able to pick out the meaning of it. The Lord punisheth sinners in the same place. Here where thou hast been deaf to hear the word of God, when thy heart riseth against the Preacher, in the same place (it may be) the Lord will deliver thee up to a reprobate sense. In the same place, at the Lords Table, where thou comest unworthily, thou shalt eate and drink thine own damnation.

FINIS.

Poscript.

THe same Author hath another Book in the Presse entituled, The Sacrifice of the Faithfull: OR, A Treatise shewing the nature, pro­perty, and efficacy of zealous Prayer, Together with some Motives to Prayer, and helps a­gainst discouragements in Pray­er.

Together with seven Profitable Sermons on divers texts of Scri­pture.

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