By a Person of great Learning and Judgment.


Ex Aedibus Lambethanis, Martii 13. 1675/6.

Antonius Saunders, Reverendissimo Dno, Domino Gilberto Archi-Episc. Cant. à Sacris Domesticis.

LONDON, Printed by William Godbid, for William Shrowsbury at the Bible in Duke-lane, and John Leigh at the Blew Bell in Fleetstreet neer Chancery-lane.




THe Author of these Writings is a person of great Learning, great Judgment and Wisdom, and of great Virtue and Piety. He hath writ­ten divers learned and compleat Works upon other subjects; but for these Writings here published, they were written, as were also many others of the like nature, ex tempore, and upon this Occasion: ‘It hath been his custom for many years, every Lord's Day in the afternoon after Evening Sermon (between that and Supper-time) to employ his thoughts upon several subjects of Divine Contempla­tions; and as things came into his thoughts, so he put them into writing; which he did for these two Reasons: 1. That he might the more fix his thoughts, and keep them from diversion and wandring. 2. That they might remain, and not be lost by for­get fulness or other interventions.’

And as this was the occasion and manner of his writing them, so this doubtless was all that [Page]he intended in them, unless moreover to com­municate them to his Children or some particu­lar Friends in private upon occasion: but for publishing them, certainly he had not the least thoughts of any such thing; much less hath he revised them for that purpose; nor so much as read over some of them since he wrote them; nor indeed so much as finished some of them. Nay so far was he from any thoughts of pub­lishing them, that when he was importuned but to give his consent to the publication of them, he could not be prevailed with to do it. And therefore that they are now published, the Reader must know that they are published not only in their native and primogenial simplicity, but without so much as the Author's privity to it.

And thus much I thought my self obliged even in justice to the Author to acquaint the Reader with, and ingenuously to acknowledge, and take upon my self the fault; if any thing less per­fect and compleat, or any wise liable to ex­ception shall appear in these Papers, seeing they were neither written with any intention to be published, nor revised by the Author, nor are published with his knowledge.

But this again on the other side obligeth me to render some Account of my doing herein. I confess I approve not the thing in general, that is, the publication of another's Writings [Page]without his consent or privity: but yet I know very well that those things which in the general are for the most part unlawful, may yet be so circumstantiated in a particular case, as that they may become not only lawful, but very com­mendable to be done in that case: and such a special case I take this to be. And though I think my self accountable to the Author chiefly, if not to him alone, for what I have done in this case, yet some account thereof I shall give to the Reader, so far at least as concerneth these Writings, or is necessary for him to be ac­quainted with.

When I first met with some of these Writings and obtained the perusal of them, I thought them well worth my pains to transcribe: which I did partly for my own use; and partly, seeing them written in loose and scattered papers, to preserve them from that danger of perishing, from which I conceived the Author's larger and more compleat works to be more safe and secure. And having collected a pretty considerable stock of them, I communicated some of them, as I saw occasion to some friends, some of them per­sons of good judgment and learning, who very much commended the same: and scarce any that saw them, but said 'twas great pity but they should be printed. But besides the Appro­bation of them by all to whom I did communi­cate them, I perceived that they had a real [Page]effect to the good and benefit of some who per­used them: and this experience of the good effects which they produced by my communica­tion of them to a few friends in private, did further confirm my own opinion of them, that they must certainly do much good if published; and being made common have the same good influences upon many, which I found they had upon some of those few to whom they were com­municated in private: but for the Manuscript Copies which I had, they were not sufficient for all those fair opportunities of doing good with them, which I saw even among my own friends and acquaintance. Whereupon I solicited the Author to publish them, or at least to give his consent to the publication of them; but could not prevail with him for either, although I know that no motive or argument is more preva­lent with him than that of Doing Good. But when I perceived, as I thought, that the chief reasons why he would neither publish them him­self, nor give his consent to the publication of them, were such as would be of no force against the publication of them without his privity or knowledge, I began to consider of doing that.

But before I resolved upon it, I sent two of the largest of them to a person, whose Judgment I know the Author doth much esteem, to have his opinion of them, not letting him know either who was the Author, or who sent them to him; [Page]and having received his opinion and commen­dation of them, and that he judged them like to do much good, and such as would be very sea­sonable to be published, I began further to con­sider whether and how they might be pub­lished without either Wrong or Injury on the one side, or Offence on the other, to the Author. And for the former I reckoned that his concern in it was either in respect of the Disposal of the Copy wherein would be no great difficulty; or more especially in respect of the Writings to be published, if either there should occurr any thing therein not fit to be made publick; or if they were not so well polished and perfected as might be for his credit and reputation.

And although this might seem to be provided for in some sort by Concealing his Name (which truly I should much rather have made known, but that I knew I must then venture doubly to incurr his displeasure) yet I looked upon this as but a weak and insufficient provi­sion, in as much as it is not unusual for Learned men even from the very stile and genius of writings to discover the writers; an expriment whereof I had seen in a person of learning and parts, to whom upon occasion I once shewed one of the writings of this Author, but purposely concealed who the author was, whom notwith­standing be soon discovered from the writing it [Page]self, telling me he knew no man that did think at that rate, but such a person, who was the Author indeed. And the truth is, these Writings do not obscurely speak their author, being a most lively representation of him, that is, of his Mind and Soul, and of that Learning, Wisdom, Piety and Virtue, which is very eminent and conspicuous in him; particularly that of the Great Audit, which I use to look upon as his very picture, wherein representing the Good Steward passing his Account, it was impossible for him not to give a lively Representation of himself; as every Character of a truly wise and virtuous person must needs agree with him who is really such; and they who are eminently such can hardly be unknown: and therefore it is not im­possible that some, even from the consideration of the work, may discover the work man, besides many other occasions of discovery which may happen.

But as I thought this too weak and insuffi­cient, so I could not but think it altogether needless, and unworthy both the excellent Author, and these his pious and excellent me­ditations, to be made use of to that end; and should much rather have abstained from publish­ing them at all, than have relyed upon such a shift, if I had thought that they had stood in any need thereof. But as it was only their [...]al worth and Excellence, and Usefulness which [Page]moved me to desire their publication, so I was verily perswaded, and as well assured as I could be in any writings of my own, and that not upon my own opinion only, but upon the judgment of others also, that nothing liable to exce­ption doth occurr in them, or any thing conside­rable that is questionable, which hath not other approved authors who say the same: and the truth is, the subject of them is such as is not like to afford much matter of that nature; these being Moral and Practical things, whereas they are for the most part matters of Speculation, and of curious (I had almost said presumptuous) and unnecessary, if not undeterminable Specn­tation, which make the great stirrs, and are the matter and occasions of greatest controversie, especially among them of the Reformed Religion.

And though these Writings never under­went the last Hand or Pencil of the Judicious Author, and therefore, in respect of that perfe­ction which he could have given to them, be not altogether so compleat as otherwise they might have been, yet if we consider them in them­selves, or with respect to the Writings which are daily published, even of learned men, and published by the Authors themselves, these will be found to be such as may not only very well pass in the croud, but such as are of no vulgar or common strain. The Subjects of them in­deed are common Themes, but yet such as are [Page]of most weight and moment in the Life of Man, and of greatest concernment; as in Nature those things, which are of greatest use and concern­ment, are most common. But the matter of his Meditations upon these subjects is not com­mon: For as he is a man that Thinks closely and deeply of things, not after a common rate, so his Writings, his most ex tempore Writings, have a certain Genius and Energie in them much above the common rate of Writers. And though these were written ex tempore, and in such manner as hath been said before, yet the matter of them is for the most part such, as he had before well digested, and, as a Scribe instructed to the Kingdom of Heaven, had treasured up in his heart, and out of this good treasure of his heart and the abundance of it be produceth these good things; things which be looked upon as of greatest concern, and most worth his serious consideration, and had ac­cordingly weighed and considered. And for the Stile, it is suitable to the Matter, Significant, Perspicuous and Manly; his Words are Spirit and Life, and carry Evidence and Demonstration with them, Moral and Experimental Demon­stration: Vox non ex ore, sed ex pectore emissa. And if we take these Writings all together, and weigh them duly and candidly, without any vain humour of critical and pe­dantick censeri [...]usness, we may therein no less [Page]observe the worth and excellence of their Au­thor, especially considering in what manner they were written, than in his more elaborate Works: and being written and published in this manner they do more evidently demonstrate the reality of his Honest, Virtuous, and Pious Prin­ciples, than had they been designed to be pub­lished, and been published by himself; which perhaps may render them not less acceptable to some Readers not of the lower rank.

So that considering the Writings themselves I could not think that there was any thing therein, whether of matter or form, which could render the publication of them injurious or prejudicial to the Author in the least in any of the respects afore mentioned. Yet notwith­standing for the greater security I thought it might be fit, and but just to give this true and ingenuous account both of the occasion and man­ner of his writing, and of the publication of of them without his privity or knowledge. And this I conceived might be a just and sufficient means to secure the Author against all exce­ptions, as that which would wholly acquit him in the judgment of all reasonable men, and transferr the blame, if any should be, to my self, which yet was no more than what I must have resolved to have undergone had they been my own Writings which I had published.

It remained therefore only to consider how this might be done, as without Injury in other respects, so without Offence to the Worth Author. And for this, two things did not a littl [...] encourage me. I. The Honesty of my Desig [...] and Sincerity of my Intentions in it: and 2. Th [...] Candor and Goodness of the Author. His Can­dor I knew to be such, that I doubted not of [...] fair and favourable construction of my Desig [...] and Intentions. And I knew his Goodness Affection and Readiness to do Good, to be such that he could not but approve my Design, that is, to do Good; the doing whereof I knew to be a thing of greater weight with him than all hi [...] reasons against the Publication: And that much good may be done by the publication of these writings, I could assure him upon my own expe­rience of the effects I had seen already produce [...] by them in Manuscript. All which, when h [...] should consider, I was perswaded, though per­haps he might at first be a little surprised with the unexpected publication of them, yet he could not be much offended at it. And then if I could publish them without either Injury or Of­fence to him, I reckoned it all one in effect as if I had had his consent before to it. And hereupon I [...]zed at last upon it; and upon these con­ [...]erations have made thus bold with this excel­ [...] person and my very good friend for the G [...]od of others, which I should not have done [Page]for any private advantage to my self whatso­ever.

I doubt not but the Reader will be very de­sirous to know who the Author of these Ex­cellent Meditations is; and truly I was no less desirous that he should know it; and that for no inconsiderable reasons: 1. As it hath al­ways been one of the most usual and constant Means and Methods, which Almighty God hath, in all Ages and Nations, used for the promotion of the Good of Mankind, to raise up eminent Examples of Virtue; so he hath been pleased to make this Author one of them in this Age and Nation: and because the Efficacy of the Exam­ples of Virtuous Actions doth no less depend upon the Principles from whence they proceed, than doth the intrinsick Virtue and Goodness of the Actions themselves, the Publication of these Writings, which so plainly manifest his Princi­ples, could not but be of great use to render his Excellent Example the more effectual, and so become subservient to the Gracious Designs of the Divine Providence. 2. In like manner [...]n the other side, the known Worth, and Virtue, and Learning, and Prudence of the Author, would certainly have made these his Writings, how Excellent soever of themselves, yet more prevalent with many. 3. And because he is well known to be a person of extraordinary and admirable sagacity, dexterity, and impartiality [Page]in the search and the discovery of the truth matters in question, and hath (though that not so generally known) with much care [...] diligence, considered and examined the Reas and Evidences, both Natural and Moral Religion; these Writings, which so plainly [...] nifest, though upon another occasion, his S [...] and Judgment of the Christian Religion, mi [...] be of good use to ease many of the doubts, [...] seruples of some persons, and to check the [...] and inconsiderate presumption of others, ab [...] Religion. And his Judgment in the case is [...] more considerable, as in respect of his gr [...] ability, and the care and diligence which hath used in the examination of it; so in spect of his freedom from all those thing whether of Natural constitution, or of pro [...] ­sion, or worldly interest, which may be by [...] suspected to prejudice or byass the Judgment of others. And therefore I doubt not but so [...] who have a great respect for his person, [...] may perhaps not have the same thoughts Religion which he hath, when they should his Judgment in the case, might by the Aut [...] ­rity thereof be moved to a further and bet [...] consideration of it. 'Tis true, the life of [...] ligion is very visible in his Life and Action which are all the genuine product of a so [...] and well-grounded perswasion of the Truth that Faith, which overcometh the World, [...] [Page]hath indeed set him up much above it, yet be­cause common Prudence may move a sober and considerate man to an external conformity to so reasonable a Religion, and to the practice of those excellent Virtues which it requires, these Writings may possibly give more satisfaction to some concerning his Judgment in the case, than his Life and Actions. And in that respect they may possibly come forth with some advan­tage, being written and published in this man­ner; for here we may read his most intimate and retired Thoughts.

And for these reasons I much desired to have prefixed his Name, or at least to have let the Reader know who he is; but I know that that would certainly have been displeasing to him; and therefore having made so bold with him in the Publication of these his Writings, I would not presume further to discover who he is, though for so just and honest ends; but have purposely left out some passages which would too plainly have made him known.

Being far distant from the Press, there may possibly be some few Typographical Errata, more than otherwise there should have been; but I hope that care hath been taken, that they are not many, nor very considerable; the sense will enable the Reader to amend them.

The several Treatises now published are these, which should have been printed in this Order:

  • Of the Consideration of our Latter End.
  • Of Wisdom, and the Fear of God.
  • Of the Knowledge of Christ Crucified.
  • The Victory of Faith over the World.
  • Of Humility.
  • Jacob's Vow.
  • Of Contentation.
  • Of Afflictions.
  • A good Method to entertain unstable and trouble som [...]times.
  • Changes and Troubles: A Poem.
  • Of the Redemption of Time.
  • The Great Audit.
  • Directions touching the Keeping of the Lord Day, in a Letter to his Children.
  • Poems upon Christmas-Day.
Ut Nox longa quibus mentitur amica, Diesque Longa videtur opus debentibus, ut piger Annus Pupillis, quos dura premit custodia matrum: Sic mihi tarda fluunt ingrataque tempora, quae spem Consiliumque morantur agendi graviter id quod Aequè pauperibus prodest, locupletibus aequè, Aequè neglectum pueris, senibusque nocebit.


PAg. 25 lin 16, 21, 26 read emanant p.36. l. 24. 1. T [...]ose, p.44. l. 15. r. and instructed l.1 [...]. dele and. p.52. l. 4. r. [...]reach of. p. 56. l.13. feasible, r. sensible. p.119. l.22. r. accom [...]. p. 121. l.23. r. [...]ounting. p. 122. l. 3. Interest, r. action. p. 144. l. [...]. we are. r. were. p. 202. l. 23. r. [...]o less. p. 240. l. 7. r. [...] the him as. p. 267 l. 11. r. doubr [...]ngs of i [...]. p. 2 [...]1. l. 2 [...]., [...], r. [...]. p. 277. l. 1. r. [...]ear in relation to. p 301. l. 8. o [...]ertune, r. over- [...]. p. 310. l. 8. r. [...]. p. 323. l. 14. [...] , r. [...]a [...]cs. p. 343. l. 12. East, r. Const. p. 348. l. 16. r. de [...]e­rence. line 21. a, r. one. l. 23. he, r. another. p. 352. l. 24. r. Deposit [...]. p. 356. l. 15. r. intensive. p. 363. l. 11. as, r. us l.1. [...]. Second Part, p. 12. l. 13. Ther. Th [...]s.. p. 26. l. 10. [...] [...]ffectualy. l. 21. act, r. art. p. 27. l. 28. 10, r. in. p. 28. l. 22.1. [...]ut there are. p. 33. l. 5. r. now it is. Great Audit. p. 20. [...]. 24. Master, r. Maker. p. 21. l. 25. r. improved. p. 23. l. 13. r. [...]ad signal. p. 2 [...]. l. 8. up, r. out. p. 31. l.10. These, r. Those p. 41. [...] Now. p. 52. l. 16. dele sels. p. 87. l.23. that two. r. the. p. 34. l. 15. r. or Nation. p. 96. l. 23. In [...]amy, r. In [...]ancy, p. 97. l. 14 r In [...]ancy, p. 101. l. 24. that, r. the. p. 102. l. 18 r. in­fold. p 106 l. 3. r. [...]e we meant. p. 107. l. 2. the woulds r. her Makers. p. 108. l. 1. step, r. stoop. p. 117. l. 26. r. Cottagers. [...] Day. p. 87. l. 23. r. the Mymus and Creeds.


DEUT. XXXII. 29.‘O that they were wise, that they under­stood this, that they would consider their latter end!’

IT may be probably thought that the principal intention of this wish of Moses was, That the People of Israel had a due consideration of their final rejection; the ten Tribes for their Idolatry, and the two Tribes for their Crucifying of the Messias; and [Page 2]not only of that state of rejection, but the causes of it, namely, Idolatry and r [...] ­jection of the Messias; which consideratio [...] would have made them wise and prudent [...] avoid those great Apostasies which shou [...] occasion so terrible a desertion and rejecti [...] by God.

But certainly the words contain an ev [...] ­dent truth, with relation to every particul [...] person, and to that latter end that is co [...] ­mon to all man-kind, namely, their lat [...] ­end by death, and separation of the Soul a [...] Body; the due consideration whereof is great part of Wisdom, and a great mea [...] to attain and improve it; and very ma [...] of the sins and follies of man-kind, as th [...] do in a great measure proceed from t [...] want of an attentive and serious consi [...]ration of it, so would be in a great meas [...] ­cured by it.

It is the most certain, known, experien [...] truth in the World that all men must d [...] that the time of that death is uncertai [...] that yet most certainly it will com [...] and that within the compass of no lo [...] time: Though the time of our Life mig [...] be protracted to its longest period, yet [...] is ten thousand to one that it will not exce [...] fourscore years; where one man attai [...] to that age, ten thousand dit before it; a [...] [Page 3]this Lecture is read unto us by the many casualties and diseases that put a period to the Lives of many in our own experience and observation, by the many warnings and monitions of Mortality that every man finds in himself either by the occurrences of diseases and weaknesses, and especially by the declinations that are apparent in us if we attain to any considerable age; and the weekly Bills of Mortality in the great City, where weekly there are taken away ordinarily three hundred persons: The Monuments and Graves in every Church and Church-yard do not only evince the truth of it, whereof no man of under­standing doubts, but do uncessantly incul­cate the remembrance of it.

And yet it is strange to see that this great truth, whereof in the theory no mans doubts, is little considered or thought upon by the most of man-kind: But not­withstanding all these monitions and re­membrances of Mortality, the living lay [...] not to heart, and look upon it as a bu­ [...]ness that little concerns them, as if they were not concerned in this common con­dition of man-kind, and as if the condition of Mortality only concerned them that actually die, or are under the immediate Harbingers of it, some desperate or acute [Page 4]diseases, but concerned not them that are at present in health, or not under the stroke of a mortal sickness. The Reasons of this Inconsiderateness seem principally these:

  • 1. That men are not willing to enter­tain this unwelcom thought of their own latter End; the thought whereof is so un­welcom and troublesom a Guest, that it seems to blast and disparage all those pre­sent enjoyments of Sense, that this Life affords: Whereby it comes to pass that, as Death it self is unwelcom when it draws near, so the thoughts and apprehensions of it becomes as unwelcom as the thing it self.
  • 2. A vain foolish conceit that the con­sideration of the latter End is a kind of presage and invitation of it; and upon this account I have known many superstitiously and foolishly to forbear the making of their Wills, because it seemed to them ominous and a presage of Death; whereas this con­sideration, though it fits and prepares: man for Death, it doth no way hasten or presage it.
  • 3. A great difficulty that ordinarily at­tends our humane condition, to think other­wise concerning our condition than what at present we feel and find. We are now in health, and we can hardly bring our [Page 5]selves to think that a time must and will come wherein we shall be sick: We are now in life, and therefore we can hardly cast our thoughts into such a mould to think we shall die; and hence it is true, as the common Proverb is, That there is no man so old, but he thinks he shall live a year longer.

It is true, this is the way of man-kind to put far from us the evil day and the thought of it; but this our way is our folly, and one of the greatest occasions of those other follies that commonly attend our lives; and therefore the great means to care this folly and to make us wise, is wisely to consider our latter end. This Wisdom appears in those excellent effects it produ­ceth, which are generally these two: 1. It teacheth us to live well. 2. It teacheth us to die easily. For the former of these, the consideration of our latter end doth in no sort make our lives the shorter, but it is a great means to make our lives the better.

1. It is a great monition and warning of us to avoid Sin, and a great means to prevent it. When I shall consider that certainly I must die, and I know not how soon, why should I commit those things, that if they hasten not my latter end, yet [Page 6]they will make it more uneasie and trou­blesom by the reflection upon what I have done amiss? I may die to morrow, why should I commit that evil that will then be gall and bitterness unto me? would I do it if I were to die to morrow? why should I then do it to day? perchance it may be the last act of my Life, and how­ever let me not conclude so ill; for, for ought I know, it may be my concluding Act in this Scene of my Life.

2. It is a great motive and means to put us upon the best and most profitable improvement of our time. There be certain Civil and Natural actions of our lives that God Almighty hath indulged and allowed to us, and indeed commanded us with mo­deration to use: As the competent sup­plies of our own Natures with moderation and sobriety; the provision for our Fami­lies, Relations, and Dependances, without covetousness or anxiety; the diligent and faithful walking in our Callings, and dis­charge thereof: But there are also other businesses of greater importance, which yet are attainable without injuring our selves in those common concerns of our Lives: namely, our knowledge of God, and of His Will; of the doctrine of our Redemption by Christ; our Repentance of [Page 7]Sins past; making and keeping our Peace with God; acquainting our selves with Him; living to His Glory; walking as in His Presence; Praying to Him; learning to Depend upon Him; Rejoycing in Him; walking Thankful unto Him. These, and such like as these, are the great Business and End of our Lives, for which we enjoy them in this World; and these fit and prepare us for that which is to come: And the con­sideration that our Lives are short and un­certain, and that Death will sooner or later come, puts us upon this resolution and practice to do this our great work while it is called to day; that we loiter not away our day, and neglect our task and work while we have time and opportunity, lest the night overtake us when we can­not work; to gain Oyl in our Lamps be­fore the door be shut: And if men would wisely consider their latter Ends, they might do this great business, this one thing necessary, with ease and quietness; yea, and without any neglect of what is neces­sary to be done in order to the common ne­cessities of our Lives and Callings; it is not these that disable us and rob us of our time: But the Thieves that rob us of our time, and our one thing necessary, are negli­gence, excess of pleasures, immoderate and [Page 8]excessive cares and solicitousness for Wealth, and Honour, and Grandeur; excessive eating and drinking, curiosity, idleness; these are the great consumptives that do not only exhaust that time that would be with infinite advantage spent in our at­tainment, and perfecting, and finishing the great work and business of our lives; and then when Sickness come, and Death come, and God Almighty calls upon us to give up the Account of our Steward­ship, we are all in confusion, our business is not half done, it may be not begun, and yet our Lamp is out, our day is spent, night hath overtaken us, and what we do is with much trouble, perplexity, and vexation; and possibly our Soul takes its flight before we can finish it: and all this would have been prevented, and remedied, by a due consideration of our latter End; and that would have put us upon making use of the present time, and present opportu­nity, to do our great work while it is cal­led to day, because the night cometh when no man can work.

3. Most certainly the wise consideration of our latter End, and the employing of our selves, upon that Account, upon that One thing necessary, renders the life the most contenting and comfortable life in the World. [Page 9]For as a man, that is a man afore-hand in the World, hath a much more quiet life in order to externals, than he that is be­hind-hand; so such a man, that takes his opportunity to gain a stock of grace and favour with God, that hath made his peace with his Maker through Christ Jesus, hath done a great part of the chief business of his Life, and is ready upon all occa­sions, for all conditions, whereunto the Divine Providence shall assign him, whe­ther of life or death, or health or sickness, or poverty or riches; he is as it were afore­hand in the business and concern of his everlasting, and of his present state also. If God lend him longer life in this World, he carries on his great business to greater degrees of perfection, with ease, and with­out difficulty, trouble, or perturbation: But if Almighty God cut him shorter, and calls him to give an account of his Ste­wardship, he is ready, and his accounts are fair, and his business is not now to be gone about; Blessed is that Servant whom his Master when he comes shall find so doing.

2. As thus this Consideration makes the Life better, so it makes Death easie.

1. By frequent consideration of death and dissolution, he is taught not to fear it; he is, as it were, acquainted with it afore­hand, [Page 10]by often preparation for it. Th [...] fear of death is more terrible than death i [...] self, and by frequent consideration thereof a man hath learned not to fear it. Ever [...] Children by being accustomed to what was at first terrible to them, learn not to fear.

2. By frequent consideration of our lat­ter End death becomes to be no surprize unto us. The great terror of death is when it surpriseth a man unawares; but antici­pation and preparation for it takes away any possibility of surprize upon him that is prepared to receive it. Bilney the Martyr was used, before his Martyrdom, to put his Finger in the Candle, that so the flames might be no novelty unto him, not surprize him by reason of unacquainted­ness with it; and he that often considers his latter end, seems to experiment death afore it comes, whereby he is neither surprised nor affrighted with it, when it comes.

3. The greatest sting and terror of death are the past and unrepented Sins of the past life; the reflection upon these is that which is the strength, the elixir, the venom of death it self. He therefore that wisely con­siders his latter end, takes care to make his peace with God in his life time; and [Page 11]They true Faith and Repentance to get his Pardon sealed; to enter into Covenant with his God, and to keep it; to husband his time in the fear of God; to observe His Will, and keep His Laws; to have his Conscience clean and clear: And being thus prepared, the malignity of death is cured, and the bitterness of it healed, and the fear of it removed: and when a man can entertain it with such an Appeal to Almighty God, as once the good King Hezekiah made, in that sickness which was of it self mortal, Isa. 38. 3. Remember now, I beseech thee O Lord, how I have walked before thee with a perfect heart, &c. it makes as well the thought, as the approach of death, no terrible business.

4. But that which, above all, makes death easie to such a considering man, is this: That by the help of this Conside­ration, and the due improvement of it, as is before shewn, death to such a man becomes nothing else but a Gate unto a better life; not so much a dissolution of his present life, as a change of it for a far more glorious, happy, and immortal life: So that though the Body dyes, the Man dyes not; for the Soul, which is indeed the Man, makes but a transition from her life in the Body, to a life in Heaven: no moment [Page 12]intervenes between the putting off the one, to the putting on the other: And this is the great Priviledge, that the Son of God hath given us, that by His death hath sanctified it unto us, and by His life hath conquered it, not only in Himself, but for us; 1 Cor. 15.57. Thanks be unto God, who hath given us the victory, through Jesus Christ our Lord; and our Victory, that is thus given us, is this, 1. That the sting of death is taken away, and 2. That this very death it self is rendred to us a Gate and passage to life eternal; and upon this account it can neither hurt, nor may justly affright us. It is reported of the Adder that when she is old, she glides through some strait passage and leaves her old skin in the passage, and thereby renews her vigour and her life. It is true, this passage through death is somewhat strait, and un­easie to the Body, which, like the decayed skin of the Adder, is left by the way, and not without some pain and difficulty to it; but the Soul passeth through without any harm, and without any expence of time, and in the next moment acquires her estate of Immortality and Happiness. And this is the Victory over Death, that all those have, that by true Repentance and Faith are partakers of Christ and the [Page 13]benefits of His Death and Resurrection, who hath brought Life and Immortality to light by the Gospel.

And now having gone through the be­nefits of this wise consideration of our latter ends, I shall now add some Cautions that are necessary to be annexed to this Consideration: We are to know that al­though Death be thus subdued and rendred rather a benefit than a terrour to good men, yet,

1. Death is not to be wished or desired, though it be an object not to be feared; it is a thing not to be coveted, for certainly life is the greatest temporal blessing in the World. It was the passion, not the virtue, of that excellent Prophet Elijah, that desired to dye, because he thought himself only left of the true worshippers of God; 1 Kings 19.4. We are all placed in this World by Almighty God, and a talent of life is de­livered to us, and we are commanded to improve it; a task is set every one of us in this life by the great Master of the Fa­mily of Heaven and Earth, and we are required with patience, and obedience, and faithfulness to perform our task, and not to be weary of our work, nor wish our day at an end before its time. When our Lord calls us, it is our duty with courage [Page 14]and chearfulness to obey His call; but un­til He calls, it is our duty, with patience and contentedness, to perform our task to be doing of our work. And indeed in this life our Lord hath delivered us several tasks of great importance to do; as namely, 1. To improve our graces and virtues, our Knowledge and Faith, and those works of piety and goodness that he requires: the better and closer we follow that busi­ness here, the greater will be our reward and improvement of glory hereafter: And therefore as we must, with all readiness, give over our work when our Master calls us; so we must, with all diligence and per­severance, continue our employment out till he calls us, and with all thankfulness unto God entertain and rejoyce in that portion of life he lends us, because we have thereby an opportunity of doing our Ma­ster the more service, and of improving the degrees of our own glory and happiness. 2. And besides the former, he hath also set us another task, namely, to serve our Ge­neration; to give an example of virtue and goodness; to encourage others in the ways of virtue and goodness; to provide for our Families and Relations; to do all good offices of Justice, Righteousness, Liberality, Charity to others; cheerfully and indu­striously [Page 15]to follow our Callings and Em­ployments; and infinite more as well Na­tural, Civil, Moral employments, which though of a lower importance in respect of our selves, yet are of greater use and moment in respect of others, and are as well as the former required of us, and part of the task that our great Lord requires of us, and for the sake of which he also be­stows many Talents upon us to be thus im­proved in this life, and for which we must also at the end of our day give our Lord an account; and therefore for the sake of this also we are to be thankful for our life, and not be desirous to leave our post, our station, our business, our life till our Lord call us to Himself in the ordinary way of His Providence, for He is the only Lord of our lives, and we are not the Lords of our own lives.

2. A second Caution is this, That as the business, and employments, and con­cerns of our life must not estrange us from the thoughts of death, so again we must be careful that the overmuch thought of death do not so much possess our thoughts as to make us forget the concerns of our life, nor neglect the businesses which that portion of time is allowed us for: As, the business of fitting our Souls for Heaven, the [Page 16]businesses of our callings, relations, places stations: Nay the comfortable, thankful sober enjoyments of those honest lawful comforts of our life that God lends us, so as it be done with great sobriety, moderation as in the presence of God, and with much thankfulness to Him; for this is part of that very duty we owe to God for those very external comforts and blessings we enjoy. Deut. 28.47. A wise and due con­sideration of our latter ends is neither to render us a sad, melancholy, disconsolate people, nor to render us unfit for the bu­sinesses and offices of our life, but to render us more watchful, vigilant, industrious, soberly cheerful and thankful to that God that hath been pleased thus to make our lives serviceable to Him, comfortable to us, profitable to others, and after all this to take away the bitterness and sting of death through Jesus Christ our Lord.

OF VVISDOM AND The Fear of GOD, That that is True WISDOM.

JOB XXVIII. 28.‘And to man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.’

THe great preheminence that Man hath over Beasts is his Reason, and the great preheminence that one man hath over another is Wisdom; though all men have ordinarily the priviledge of Reason, yet all men have not the habit of Wisdom. The greatest commendation that we can ordinarily give a man is that he is a wise man, and the [Page 18]greatest reproach that can be to a man, and that which is worst resented is to be called or esteemed a fool; and yet as much as the reputation of wisdom is valued and the reputation of folly is resented, the genera­lity of mankind are in truth very fools and make it the great part of their busi­ness to be so, and many that pretend to see [...] after wisdom do either mistake the thing or mistake the way to attain; commonl [...] those that are the greatest pretenders [...] wisdom and the search after it, place it i [...] some little narrow concern, but place i [...] not in its true latitude commensurate to th [...] nature of mankind: And hence it is tha [...] one esteems it the only wisdom to be [...] wise Politician or Statesman, another t [...] be a wise and knowing Naturalist, anothe [...] to be a wise acquirer of Wealth, and th [...] like; and all these are wisdoms in their kind and the World perchance would be much better than it is, if these kind of wisdom were more in fashion than they are: bu [...] yet these are but partial wisdoms, the wis­dom that is most worth the seeking and finding is that which renders a man a Wise Man.

This excellent man Job after a diligen [...] search (in the speech of this Chapter) after Wisdom, what it is, where to be found [Page 19]doth at length make these two Conclusions; viz. 1. That the true root of wisdom, and that therefore best knew where it was to be found and how to be attained, is certainly none other but A mighty God, vers. 23. God understandeth the way thereof and knoweth the place thereof; and 2. As he alone best knew it, so he best knew how to prescribe unto mankind the means and method to attain it. To man he said, to fear God that is wisdom; that is, it is the proper and adequate wisdom sutable to humane nature, and to the condition of mankind: and we need not doubt but it (is) so, be­cause he, that best knew what was the best rule of wisdom, prescribed it to man, his best of visible creatures, whom we have just reason to believe he would not deceive with a false or desicient rule of wisdom; since as wisdom is the beauty and glory of man, so wisdom in man sets forth the glory, and excellency, and goodness of God. And consonant to this David a wise King, and Solomon the wisest of men, affirm the same truth, Psal. 111 10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a good under­standing have they that do his commandments. Prov. 1.7. The fear of the Lord is the begin­ning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction: and 9.10. The fear of the Lord [Page 20]is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. And when the wise man had run all his long travel of Experiments to attain that which might be that good for the children of men, in the end of his tedious chace and pursuit, he closeth up all with this very same conclu­sion, Eccles. 12.13. Let us hear the conclu­sion of the whole matter, Fear God and keep his Commandments, for this is the whole duty of man; and he gives a short, but effectual Reason of it, For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whe­ther it be good, or whether it be evil. And hence it is that this wise man, who had the greatest measure of wisdom of any meer man since the creation of Adam; that had as great experience and knowledge of all things and persons; that made it his busi­ness to search and to enquire, not only into wisdom, but into madness and folly; that had the greatest opportunity of wealth and power to make the exactest enquiry therein: This wise, and inquisitive, and experienced man, in all his Writings, stiles the man fearing God and obeying him, the only wise man; and the person that neg­lects this duty, the only fool and mad man.

And yet it is strange to see how little [Page 21]this is thought of or believed in the World: Nay, for the most part he is thought the wisest man who hath the least of this principle of Wisdom appearing in him; that shakes off the fear of God, or the sense of his presence, or the obedience to his will, and the discipline of Conscience; and by craft, or subtilty, or power, or oppression, or by whatsoever method may be most condu­cible, pursues his ends of profit, or power, or pleasure, or what else his own vain thoughts and the mistaken estimate of the generality of men render desirable in this World: And on the other side, he that governs himself, his life, his thoughts, words, actions, ends, and purposes, with the fear of Almighty God, with sense and awe of his presence, according to his word, that drives at a nobler end than ordinarily the World thinks of, namely, peace with Almighty God, and with his own Heart and Conscience, the hope and expectation of Eternity, such a man is counted a shallow, empty, inconsiderate, foolish man, one that carries no stroke in the World, a man laden with a melan­choly delusion, setting a great rate upon a World he sees not, and neglecting the opportunities of the World he sees.

But upon a sound and true Examination [Page 22]of this business, we shall find that the man that feareth God is the wisest man, and he that upon that account departs from evil is the man of greatest understanding. I shall shew therefore these two things; 1. What it is to fear God; 2. That this fear of God is most demonstratively the best Wisdom of mankind, and makes a man truly and really a wise man.

1. Touching the first of these, Fear is an affection of the Soul that is as much di­versified as any one affection whatsoever; which diversification of this affection ariseth from the diversification of those objects by which this affection is moved. I shall mention these four:

  • 1. Fear of Despondency or Desperation, which ariseth from the fear of some great and important danger that is unavoidable, or at least so apprehended; and this is not the Fear that is here commended to mankind.
  • 2. Fear of Terrour or Affrightment, which is upon the sense of some great im­portant danger, that though possibly it may be avoided, yet it carries with it a great probability and immediate impendency, as the fear of Mariners in a storm, or a fear that befalls a man in some time or place of great confusion or visible calamity. And [Page 23]this kind of fear of Almighty God is some­times effectual and useful to bring men to Repentance after some great displeasure of Almighty God by Sin or Apostacy; but this is not that fear that is here, at least primarily and principally, meant, but those two that follow.
  • 3. A Fear of Reverence or Awfulness; and this fear is raised principally upon the sense of some object full of glory, majesty, great­ness, though possibly there is no cause of ex­pecting any hurt from the person or thing thus feared: Thus a Subject bears a reve­rential fear to his Prince, from the sense of his majesty and grandeur; and thus much more the majesty and greatness of Al­mighty God excites reverence and awful­ness, though there were no other ingredient into that fear. Jer. 5.21. Will ye not fear me saith the Lord, will ye not tremble at my presence, &c. Jer. 10.7. who would not fear thee, O King of Nations!
  • 4. A Fear of Caution or Watchfulness. This is that which the Wise man com­mends, Prov. 28.14. Blessed is the man that feareth always: And this fear of Caution is a due care and vigilancy not to displease that person from whom we enjoy or hope for good; the fear of a Benefactor, or of that person from whom we may, upon some [Page 24]just cause or demerit, expect an evil, as the fear of a just and righteous Judge. And these two latter kinds of fear, namely the fear of Reverence, and the fear of Caution, are those that are the principal ingredients constituting this fear of God that these ex­cellent men commend to us as true Wis­dom.

Now this fear of God ariseth from those right and true apprehensions concerning Almighty God, that do with a kind of con­naturality and suitableness excite both these two kinds of Fear; and those seem to be principally these three:

  • 1. A true and deep sense of the Being of God, namely, That there is a most excellent and perfect Being, which we call God, the only true God, the Maker of all things: But this is not enough to constitute this Fear, for Epicurus and Lucian did be­lieve that there was a God, yet were with­out the fear of him.
  • 2. A true and deep sense, knowledge, and consideration of the Attributes of God. And although all the attributes of God are but so many expressions and declarations of his per­fection and excellency, and therefore all con­tribute to advance and improve this fear, especially of Reverence, yet there be some at­tributes, that seem in a more special manner [Page 25]to excite and raise this affection of fear, as well the fear of reverence, as that of caution and vigilancy; as namely, 1. The Majesty and Glory of God, at which the very Angels of Heaven, that are confirmed in an un­changeable estate of happiness, carry an inward, and express an outward reverence. 2. But Majesty and Glory without Power is not perfect, therefore the sense and know­ledge of the almighty Power of God is a great object of our fear: He doth whatsoever he pleaseth, all things had their being from him, and have their dependance on him. 3. The deep knowledge of the Goodness of God, and that Goodness not only Immanent in himself, but Emanent and Communica­tive: and from this diffusive and commu­nicative Goodness of God all things had their actual being, and from him they do enjoy it. And both these Goodnesses of God, the Immanent and Emanent Goodnesses are the noblest exciter of the noblest fear, a fear springing from Love, and that love fixing upon the Immanent goodness of God which is altogether lovely and perfect, and also upon the Emanent and Communicative goodness of God, as he is our Benefactor; and wherever there is this love, there is this fear both of Reverence and Caution. We cannot choose but honour and reverence, [Page 26]and be careful to observe and please what­soever we thus love; the intrinsick nature of that which we love for its own worth and perfection binds us by a kind of natural bond or result to reverence and honour, and the extrinsick emanation of that good­ness unto us binds us to reverence and esteem, and honour it as our Benefactor by a double bond, viz. first, of Gratitude or Benevolence to him that communicates this good; secondly, by a bond of Prudence and self-preservation not to disoblige him from whom we have our good and upon whom we have our dependance, lest a disobli­gation should occasion his substraction or abatement of that good from us. Where­soever there is dependance, as there must be naturally love to that upon which is our dependance, so there must be necessarily a fear both of Reverence and Caution, even upon principles of self-love, if there were nothing else to command it. 4. A deep sense, knowledge and consideration of the Divine Omniscience. If there were all the other motives of fear imaginable, yet if this were wanting, the fear of God would be in a great measure abated; for what availeth reverence or caution, if he to whom it is intended do not know it? and what damage can be sustained by a neglect or [Page 27]omission of that fear, if God Almighty now it not? The want of this Consi­ [...]eration hath made even those Atheists that [...]et acknowledged a God, such were Epi­ [...]rus, Diagoras, Lucretius, Lucian and others [...]mong the Philosophers; and such was Eli­ [...]has his oppressor, Job 22.13. How doth God now? and can he judge through the thick cloud? [...]r David's fool, Psal. 94.7. The Lord shall [...]ot see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard. But the All-knowing God searcheth the very thoughts, and knows the Heart and [...]ll the actions of our lives; Not a word in [...]ur tongue but he heareth it, and knows our thoughts a far off. 5. A deep sense of the Holiness and Purity of God, which must needs cause in him an averseness unto and abhor­rence of whatsoever is sinful or impure. Lastly, the sense of the Justice of God, not only an inherent Justice which is the recti­tude of his nature, but a transient or distri­butive Justice, that will most certainly distribute rewards to obedience, observance, and the fear of his Name, but punishments to the disobedient and those that have no fear of him before their Eyes. The deep consideration and sense of these attributes of the Divine perfection must needs excite both the fear of Reverence, and the fear of Caution, or fear of offending either by [Page 28]commission of what may displease God, of omitting of what is pleasing to him.
  • 3. But although this knowledge of Al­mighty God and his Attributes may just excite a fear both of Reverence and Cau­tion, yet without the knowledge of some thing else that fear will be extravagant and disorderly, and sometimes begets Super­stition or strange exorbitancy in this fear or in the expressions of it, and a want regularity of duty or obedience; if a ma [...] know that Almighty God is just, and will reward obedience and punish disobedience yet if he knows not what he will have done or omitted, he will indeed fear to displease him, but he will not know how to please, or to obey him: therefore be­sides the former there must (be) a Know­ledge of the Will or Law of God in things to be done or omitted. This Law of God hath a double Inscription, 1. In Nature, and that is again twofold; first, the natural rudi­ments of Morality and Piety written in the Heart: secondly, such as are deduci­ble by the exercise of Natural reason and light; for even from the notion of God there do result certain consequences of Na­tural Piety and Religion, as that he is to be prayed unto, to be praised, that he is to be imitated as far forth as is possible by us; [Page 29]therefore as he is holy, beneficent, good, [...]erciful, so must we be. 2. But we have more excellent Transcript of the Divine Will, namely the Holy Scriptures, which therefore a man that fears God will study and observe and practise, as being the best [...]ule how to obey him. And the very fear of God arising upon the sense of his Being and Attributes will make that man very [...]ollicitous to know the will of God, and [...]ow he will be worshipped and served, and what he would have to be done or not [...]o be done. And therefore since the glorious God hath so far condescended, as by his Providence to send us a Transcript of his Mind and Will and Law, he will be very thankful for it, very studious of it, much delighted in it, very curious to observe it, because it is the Rule and direction how he may obey and consequently please that great God whom he fears; this Word he believes and prizes as his great Charter, and in this Word he finds much to excite and regulate and direct his fear of God: he sees Exam­ples of the Divine Justice against the Of­fenders of his Law, of the Divine Bounty in rewarding the obedience to it; Threat­nings on one Hand, Promises on the other; greater manifestations of the Divine Good­ness in the Redemption of mankind by [Page 30]Christ Jesus, and therefore greater ob [...] ­gations as well to fear as to love such Benefactor.

And thus far of the kinds of the fear of God, and of the causes or objects exciting it: Now let us see how it doth appear th [...] this fearing man is the wise man, and how the Fear of God discovers it self to be the true and best and only Wisdom; which wi [...] appear in these particular Consideration following.

1. Many Learned men considering that great similitude and image of ratiocination in some Brutes especially, have therefore declined to define a Man by his Reason, be­cause of that analogical ratiocination which they find in brutes, but define a man by his Religion, Homo est animal religiosum; be­cause in this they find no communication or similitude of natures or operations be­tween men and brute beasts: for man i [...] the only visible creature that expresseth any inclination to Religion or the sense of a Deity, or any exercise of it. I do not stand to justifie this Opinion in all parti­culars, only those things are most certain; 1. That only the Humane nature seems to have any sense or impression of any regulary Religion upon it: 2. That the sense of a Deity and Religion resulting from it, is [Page 31]the great ennobling, and advance, and perfection of the Humane nature: 3. That take away the fear of God, all sense and use of Religion falls to the ground. So that the Fear of God is the great foundation of Religion, and consequently the great en­nobling and advance of Humane nature, that seems almost as great a prelation of a man truly religious above an irreligious man, as to operations and use, as there is between an irreligious man and a brute. As Religion advanceth, so Irreligion em­baseth the Humane nature.

2. Justice is of two kinds; Distributive, which is the justice of a Magistrate or Judge distributing rewards and punishments, fa­vour and displeasure, and due retribution to every man according to the merits of his cause. 2. Commutative, which is in all Civil contracts and dealings between per­sons; as dealing honestly, keeping promi­ses, and using plainness, sincerity, and truth, in all a man sayeth, or doeth: and both these kinds of Justice are effects of excellent Wisdom; without these States, and Socie­ties, and persons fall into disorder, confu­sion, and dissolution: and therefore those very men that have not this justice and righteousness, yet honour and value those that have it, and use it. And the fear of [Page 32]Almighty God is that which begetteth and improveth both these kinds of Justice. Hence it was that Moses, in his choice of Judges, directs that they should be men fear­ing God and hating covetousness. Jehosaphat, in his Charge to his Judges, thought this the best expedient to contain them within the bounds of Justice, to put them in remem­brance before whom, and for whom, they are to judge. And the very Heathens them­selves were some of them used to set an empty Chair in the place of Judicature, as an Emblem of the presence of God, the invisible, and yet all-seeing God, as present in the Courts of Justice, observing all the Judges do; and this they esteemed an ex­cellent means to keep Judges to their duty, by representing to them the glorious God beholding them. And as thus in distribu­tive Justice, the fear of God is a great means to keep and improve it; so in commutative Justice, the fear of God gives a secret, and powerful Law to a man to keep and observe it. And hence it is that Joseph could give no greater assurance to his Brethren, of his just dealing with them than this, Gen. 42.18. This do, for I fear God; and on the other side Abraham could have no greater cause of suspition of ill and unjust dealing from the People with whom he conversed, [Page 33] [...]han this, that they wanted the fear of God, Gen. 20.11. Because I thought the fear of God was not in this place, &c. The sense of the Greatness; and Majesty, and Power, and Justice; and all-seeing Presence and Command of Almighty God lays a greater obligation and engagement upon a Heart fearing God to deal justly and honestly, than all the terrours of Death it self can do.

And if any one say, How came it to pass that the Heathen that knew not, and there­fore feared not the true God, were yet great assertors, maintainers and practisers of all Civil Justice and Righteousness be­tween man and man? I say, though they knew not the true God, they knew there was a God, whom (though ignorantly) they feared: And this imperfect and bro­ken fear of God was the true cause of that Justice and Righteousness that was sin­cerely, and not for ostentation, practised among them; and though they mistook the true God, yet in this they were not mis­taken that there was a God; and this truth had that great prevalence upon them to do justly: And if that imperfect fear of God in them did so much prevail as to make them so just, how much more must the true knowledge and the fear of the true God prevail to advance Righteousness and [Page 34]Justice in them that have that fear of God in their Hearts?

3. It is a great part of Wisdom that con­cerns a person in the exercise of the Duties of his Relations, and indeed it is a great part of Justice and Righteousness. Now th [...] fear of Almighty God hath these two great advantages therein. First, the will of God instructs exactly all relations in their Du­ties of these reciprocal relations; and this will of God is revealed in his Word, which contains excellent Precepts of all kinds, suitable to every several relation. Secondly, the fear of God sets these Directions close upon the Heart, and is a severe and constant obligation to observe them: And so this fear of God doth effectually fit, habituate, guide, and oblige a man to the Duties of his several relations: it makes a good Ma­gistrate, a good Subject; a good Husband, a good Wife; a good Father, a good Child; a good Master, a good Servant; in all those several kinds of goodness that are peculiar and proper to the several relations wherein a man stands.

4. Sincerity, Uprightness, Integrity and Honesty are certainly true and real Wisdom. Let any man observe it while he will, an hypocrite, or dissembler, or double-hearted man, though he may shuffle it out for a [Page 35]while, yet at the long run, he is disco­vered, and disappointed, and betrays very much folly at the latter end; when a plain, sincere, honest man holds it out to the very last; so that the Proverb is most true; that Honesty is the best Policy. Now the great Priviledge of the fear of God is, that it makes the Heart sincere and upright, and that will certainly make words and actions so: For he is under the sense of the inspection and animadversion of that God that searches the Heart, and therefore he dares not lye; nor dissemble, not flatter, not prevaricate, because he knows the pure, all-seeing, righteous God, that loves truth and integrity, and hates lying and dissi­mulation, beholds and sees and observes him, and knows his thoughts, words and actions. It is true, that vain-glory, and ostentation, and reputation, and designs, and ends may many times render the out­ward actions specious and fair, when the Heart runs quite another way, and ac­cordingly would frame the actions, if those ends and designs and vain-glory and osten­tation were not in the way; but the fear of God begins with the Heart, and puri­ [...]fies and rectifies it; and from the Heart thus rectified grows a conformity in the life, the words, the actions.

5. The great Occasion and Reason of the Folly of mankind are, 1. The unruliness and want of government of the sensual appetite on Lusts: hence grows intemperance and excess in eating and drinking, unlawful and exorbitant lusts; and these exhaust the Estate, waste and consume the Health, embase and impoverish the Mind, destroy the Reputation, and render men unfit for Industry and Business. 2. The exorbitancy, and unruliness, and irregularity of the Pas­sions; as excessive love of things that are either not lovely, or not deserving so much love; excess of anger, which oftentimes degenerate into malice and revenge; ex­cess of joy in light, trivial, inconsiderable matters; excess of fear, where either no cause of fear, or not cause of so much fear is: And these exorbitances of Passions be­tray the succours of Reason, break out into very foolish, vain, imprudent actions, and fill the World with much of that folly and disorder that is every where observable. 3. These diseases and distempers of the Mind, as pride, vain-glory, ambition of honour and place, and power, insolency, arrogancy, envy, covetousness and the like, these I say are so many Sicknesses and Cankers and rotten Ulcers in the Mind; and as they, like the Furies that were let loose out of Pandora's [Page 37]Box, do raise most of those storms and tempests that are abroad in the World, so they disease and disorder and beset the Mind wherein they are, and make their lives a torment to themselves, and put them upon very foolish, vain and frentique actions and deportments, and render men perfect fools, mad men, and without understan­ding; and their folly is so much the greater and the more uncurable, that like some kind of frentique men they think very goodly of themselves, think themselves passing wise men, and applaud themselves; though it is most apparent to any indiffe­rent by-stander, that there are not a sort of vainer foolish persons under Heaven. Now as we are truly told that the first de­gree and step of wisdom is to put off folly,

—Sapientia prima est,
Stultitia caruisse—

so it is the method of the fear of God, the beginning of all true wisdom, to disburthen a man of these originals and foundations of folly: It gives a law to the Sensitive appetite, brings it in subjection, keeps it within the limits and bounds of Reason, and of those instructions and directions that the wise God hath prescribed; it keeps it [Page 38]under discipline and rule: It directs the Passions to their proper objects, and keeps them within their due measures, and with in the due lines and limits of moderation, and as becomes a man that lives in the sight and observation of the God of glory, majesty, and holiness: It cures those dis­eases and distempers of the Mind by the presence of this great preservative and cathartick, the Fear of God. If Pride or Vain-glory begins to bud in the Soul, he considers that the God he fears resists the proud: this fear puts a man in remembrance of the glorious Majesty of the most glorious God; and what is a poor Worm, that he should be proud or vain-glorious in the presence and sight of that mighty God? If Ambition or Covetousness begin to appear, this fear of God presently remembers a man that the mighty God hath prohibited them, that he hath presented unto us things of greater moment for our desires than worldly wealth, or honour; that we are all of his houshold, and must content our selves with that portion he allots us, without pressing beyond the measure of sobriety or depen­dence upon or submission unto him: If Revenge stir in our Hearts, this fear of God checks it, tells a man that he usurps God's prerogative, who hath reserved vengeance [Page 39] [...]o himself as part of his own Sovereignty: [...]f that vermin Envy begins to live and crawl in our Hearts, this fear of God crusheth [...]t by remembring us that the Mighty God prohibits it, that he is the Sovereign Lord and dispenser of all things: if he hath given me little, I ought to be contented; if he hath given another more, yet why should my Eye be evil because his Eye is good? Thus the fear of the Lord walks through the Soul, and pulls up those weeds and roots of bitterness and folly that infect, disquiet, disorder, and befool it.

6. Another great cause of folly in the World is Inadvertence, Inconsiderateness, Pre­cipitancy, and over-hastiness in speeches or actions. If men had but the patience many times to pause but so long in actions and speeches of moment as might serve to re­peat but the Creed or Lord's Prayer, many follies in the World would be avoided that do very much mischief both to the parties themselves and others: And therefore in­advertence and precipitancy in things of great moment, and that require much de­liberation, must needs be a very great folly, because the consequence of miscarriage in them is of greater moment. Now the fear of the Lord of Heaven and Earth, being actually present upon the Soul, and exerting [Page 40]it self, is the greatest motive and obligation in the World to consideration and attention touching things to be done or said. When a man is to do any thing or speak in the presence of a great earthly Prince, the very awe and fear of that Prince will give any man very much consideration touching what he saith or doth; especially to see that it be conformable to those Laws and Edicts that this Prince hath made. Now the great God of Heaven and Earth hath, in his Holy Word, given us Laws and Rules touching our words and actions; and what we are to say or do is to be said and done in no less a presence than the presence of the ever-glorious God, who strictly eyes and observes every man in the World, with the very same advertence as if there were nothing else for him to observe: And cer­tainly there cannot be imagined a greater engagement to advertence, and attention, and consideration than this: And therefore if the action or speech be of any moment, a man that fears God will consider, 1. Is this lawful to be done or not? if it be not, how shall I do this great evil and sin against God? 2. But if it be lawful, yet is it fit, is it convenient, is it seasonable? if not, then I will not do it, for it becomes not that Presence before whom I live. 3. Again, [Page 41] [...]f the thing be lawful and fit, yet I will [...]onsider how it is to be done, what are the most suitable circumstances to the ho­nour and good pleasure of that great God before whom I stand. And this advertence and consideration doth not only qualifie my actions and words with wisdom and pru­dence in contemplation of the duty I owe to God, but it gives an excellent oppor­tunity very many times, by giving pause and deliberation in reference to my duty to God, to discover many humane ingre­dients of wisdom and prudence requisite to the choice of actions and words, and the manner of doing them: So that besides that greater advantage of consideration and advertence, in relation to Almighty God, it doth superadd this advantage also for opportunity thereby of humane prudential considerations, which otherwise by haste and precipitance in actions or words would be lost; and it habituates the mind to a temper of caution, and advertence, and consideration in matters as well of smaller as of greater moment, and so make a wise, attentive, and considerate man.

7. It mightily advanceth and improveth the worth and excellency of most Humane actions in the World, and makes them a nobler kind of thing than otherwise without it [Page 42]they would be. Take a man that is em­ployed as a Statesman or Politician, though he have much wisdom and prudence, in commonly degenerates into craft and cun­ning and pitiful shuffling, without the fear of God: but mingle the fear of Almighty God with that kind of wisdom, it renders it noble, and generous, and staid, and honest, and stable. Again, take a man that is much acquainted with the subtiler kind of Learn­ing, as Philosophy; for instance, without the fear of God upon his Heart, it will carry him over to pride, arrogance, self-conceit, curiosity, presumption: but min­gle it with the fear of God, it will ennoble that knowledge, carry it up to the honour and glory of that God that is the Author of Nature, to the admiration of his Power, Wisdom, and Goodness; it will keep him humble, modest, sober, and yet rather with an advance than detriment to his know­ledge. Take a man industrious in his Calling, without the fear of God with it, he becomes a drudge to worldly ends, vexed when disappointed, overjoyed in success: mingle but the fear of God with it, it will not abate his industry, but sweeten it; if he prosper, he is thankful to God that gives him power to get wealth; if he miscarry, he is patient under the will and dispensation [Page 43]of the God he fears; it turns the very em­ployment of his Calling into a kind of re­ligious duty and exercise of his Religion without damage or detriment to it.

8. The fear of God is certainly the greatest wisdom, because it renders the mind full of tranquility and evenness in all states and conditions: for he looks up to the great Lord of the Heavens and Earth, considers what he commands and requires, remembers that [...]e observes and eyes all men; knows that his Providence governs all things, and this keeps him still even and square without any considerable alteration, whatever his con­dition is. Is he rich, prosperous, great? yet he continues safe, because he continues humble, watchful, advertent lest he should be deceived and transported; and he is careful to be the more thankful, and the more watchful, because the command of his God, and the nature of his condition requires it: is he poor, neglected, unsuc­cessful? yet he remains still patient, hum­ble, contented, thankful, dependent upon the God he fears. And surely every man must needs agree, that such a man is a wiser man, than he who is ever changed and transported with his condition; that if he be rich or powerful, there is nothing more vain, proud, insolent than he; and [Page 44]again let his condition become poor, lo [...] despised, there is nothing under Heav [...] more despondent, dispirited, heartless, d [...] contented and tortured than such a ma [...] and all for the want of the fear of Almigh [...] God, which being once put into the Hea [...] like the Tree put by Moses into the Water cures the disorder and uneasiness of [...] conditions.

9. In as much as the true fear of God always mingled with the knowledge of th [...] Will of God, and that Will is contain [...] most fully in his written Word, it mu [...] needs be that a man that truly fears th [...] Lord must be instructed in the word of God and the Precepts thereof must needs b [...] deeply digested into his mind. Now a [...] this Word is the Word of the ever-wi [...] God, and therefore certainly must be fu [...] of most wise Directions: So let any ma [...] but impartially and deeply consider th [...] Precepts contained in the word of God, h [...] shall assuredly find the best directions in th [...] in the world for all kind of moral and di­vine Wisom: And I do confidently say that in all other Books of Morality there a [...] not so sound, deep, certain, evident Instru­ctions of Wisdom (yet most strictly joyned with Innocence and Goodness) as there are in this one Book, as would be easily [Page 45]demonstrable even to a reasonable judge­ [...]ent; but this is too large a Theme for [...]is place.

10. But besides all this, there is yet a [...]cret, but a most certain truth that highly. [...]proveth that wisdom, which the fear of [...]e Lord bringeth, and that is this, That [...]ose that truly fear God have a secret [...]idance from a higher wisdom than what [...] barely humane; namely, by the Spirit of Truth and Wisdom, that doth really and truly [...]ut secretly prevent and direct them. And [...] no man think that this is a piece of [...]anaticism. Any man that sincerely and [...]uly fears Almighty God, relies upon him, [...]alls upon him for his guidance and dire­ [...]ction, hath it as really as the Son hath [...]he counsel and direction of his Father: [...]nd though the voice be not audible, nor [...]he direction always perceptible to sense, [...]et it is equally as real as if a man heard [...]he voice saying, This is the way, walk in it: And this secret direction of Almighty God [...]s principally seen in matters relating to the good of the Soul; but it may be also found [...]n the great and momentous concerns of this ise, which a good man, that fears God and [...]egs his direction, shall very often if not at all times find. 2. Besides this direction, a good man, fearing God, shall find His Blessing [Page 46]upon him. It is true that the portion [...] men fearing God is not in this life, ofte [...] times he meets with crosses, afflictions and troubles in it, his portion is of a high [...] and more excellent state and condition that this life; yet a man that fears God hat [...] also his blessing in this life, oven in [...] ­lation to his very temporal condition: for either his honest and just intentions an [...] endeavours are blessed with success an [...] comfort, or if they be not, yet even hi [...] crosses and disappointments are turned into a blessing; for they make him more humble and less esteeming this present World, and setting his Heart upon a better: For it is an everlasting truth, Rom. 8.28. That [...] things shall work together for the best to them that fear and love Al­mighty God, and therefore certainly such a man is the wisest man.

11. But yet further; certainly it is one of the greatest evidences of Wisdom to provide for the future, and to provide for those things for the future, that are of greatest moment, importance and use. Upon this account the Wise man, Prov. 30. 25. admires the wisdom of the Ant, that little creature, that yet provides his meat in the Summer: and we esteem it the folly of Children and Prodigals in this, that they [Page 47]have no prospect for the future how they shall subsist hereafter. Now the wisdom of a man that feareth God discovereth it [...]elf in this, that it provides and lays up a good and safe store for the future, and that [...]n respect of these three kinds of futurities; [...]. For the future part of his life: 2. For the future evil days: 3. For the future life that is to take place after this present short uncertain and transitory life.

1. In respect of the future time of his life. It is true, our lives in this world are but short at best, and together with that short­ness, they are very uncertain. But yet the man fearing God makes a due and safe pro­vision for that future portion of his life, how short or how long soever it be. I. By a constant walking in the fear of God he transmits unto the future part of his life a quiet, serene, and fair Conscience, and avoids those evil fruits and consequences which a sinful life produceth, even in the after time of a man's life. The bruises and hurts we receive in youth are many times more painful in age, than when we first received them. Our lives are like the Husband­man's seed-time; if we sow evil seeds in the time of our yourh, it may be they may lye five, ten or more years before they come up to a full crop, and possibly then we [Page 48]taste the fruit of these evil ways in an un­quiet mind or conscience, or some other sowre effects of that evil seed. All this in­convenience a man fearing God prevents and instead thereof reaps a pleasing and comfortable fruit of his walk in the fear of God, namely, a quiet Conscience and an even, setled, peaceable Soul. 2. But besides this, by this means he keeps his Interest in and Peace with Almighty God, and makes sure of the best Friend in the world for the after time of his life, to whom he is sure to have access at all times and upon all occasions with comfort and acceptance; for it is an infallible truth, That God Al­mighty never forsakes any that forsake not him first.

The Second futurity is the future Evil day which will most certainly overtake every man, either the day of feeble and decrepit age, or the day of sickness, or the day of death; and against all those the true fear of God makes a safe and excellent pro­vision: so that although he may not avoid them, he may have a comfortable passage through them; and in the midst of all these black clouds, the witness of a good con­science fearing God, and the evidence of the divine favour will shine into the Soul like a bright Sun with comfort, when a man [Page 49]shall be able with Hezekiah, Isa.38.3. to appeal to Almighty God, Remember now O Lord I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and in uprightness of heart, and [...]ave done that which was good in thy sight: this will be a cordial under the faintness of old age, a relief under the pains of sick­ness, and cure of the fear of death it self, which to such a Soul will be only a gate and passage to a life that will be free from all pains and infirmities, a life of glory and immortality.

3. The third futurity is the Life and State after Death. Most certain it is that such a state there will be, and that it is but of two kinds, a state of everlasting happi­ness, or a state of everlasting mi [...]ry; and that all men in the World do most certainly belong to one of these two states or con­ditions: and as it is most just and equal, so it is most true, that they that truly fear God, and obey him through Jesus Christ, shall be partakers of that everlasting state of blessedness and immortal happiness: And on the other side, they that reject the the fear of God, contemn and disobey his will, shall, without true repentance, be subject to a state of everlasting misery. Now herein the truest and the greatest [...]isdom of a man appears, that he duly [Page 50]provides against the latter, and to obtain the former; all other wisdom of men, ei­ther to get humane Learning, Wealth, Honour, Power, all wisdom of Statesmen and Politicians, in comparison of this wis­dom, is but vain and trivial. And this is the wisdom that the fear of God teacheth and bringeth with it into the Soul; 1. It pro­vides against the greatest of evils, the everlasting state of misery and infelicity and eternal death: 2. It provides for and attains an everlasting estate of blessedness and happiness, of rest and peace, of glory and immortality, and eternal life; a state of that happiness and glory that exceeds expression and apprehension, for Eye hath not seen, nor car heard, neither hath it en­tred into the heart of man the things that God hath laid up for them that love him, 1 Cor. 2. and they only truly love God, that truly fear him; Mal. 3.13. And they (namely, that fear God) shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels.

And now for the Conclusion of this whole matter, let us now make a short Comparison between the persons that fear not God, and those that truly fear him; and then let any man judge who is the fool, and who is the wise man. A man hath but a very short un­certain time in this life, which, in compa­rison [Page 51]of eternity, is less than a moment. The great God of Heaven in his Word assures (us) that there is an estate of Immortality after this life, and that that immortal estate is but of two kinds, an estate of never-dying misery, or an estate of endless glory; and tells them, If you fear me, and obey those easie Commands, that are contained in the Book of the Holy Scriptures, which I have given you, you shall infallibly attain everlasting life and happiness, and, even in this present life, shall have the influence and presence of my favour to support, to direct and bless you: On the other side, if ye refuse my fear, and reject my commands, and prefer the unlaw­ful and vain delusions of this present life, before the obedience of my will, and persist impenitently in it, your portion shall be ever­lasting misery. And now everlasting life and everlasting death being set before the children of men, there are a sort of men, that rather choose to disobey the command of God, reject his fear, and all this, that they may enjoy the pleasures of Sin for a season, those pleasures that are fading and dying, that leave behind them a sting, that renders their very enjoyment bitter, and that make even that very little life they enjoy, but a life of discomfort and unhappiness in spight of all their pleasures, or be they as sincere as their [Page 52]own hearts can promise them, yet they are but for a season, a season that in its longest period is but short, but is uncertain also, a little inconsiderable accident, the breath of a vain ... an ill air, a little ill digested por­tion of that excess wherein they delight, may put a period to all those pleasures, and to that life, in a year, in a week, in a day, in an hour, in an unthought of moment, before a man hath opportunity to consider, to be­think himself, or to repent; and then the door of life and happiness is shut. Again, there are a sort of men that consider this great Proposal, and choose the Fear of Al­mighty God, and with it Eternal Life, and are content to deny themselves in things unlawful, to obey Almighty God, to keep his favour, to walk humbly with him, to accept of the tender of Life and Salvation, upon the terms propounded by Almighty God: And in the practice of this Fear they enjoy His favour, and presence, and love; and after this life spent, whether it be long or short, and whether their death be lin­gring or sudden, are sure the next moment after death to enjoy an immortal life of glory and happiness. Judge then which of these is the truly Wise man, whether this be not a Truth beyond dispute: The Fear of God that [...] [...], and to depart from evil is Under­ [...]ana [...].

OF AFFLICTIONS, THE Best Preparation for them, and Im­provement of them, and of our Delivery out of them.

JOB V. 6, 7.‘Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground: Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.’

JOB's Friends, though in the particular Case of Job, they were mistaken, yet they were certainly very wise, godly, and observing men; and many of their Sentences were full of excellent and useful Truths, and particularly this Speech [Page 54]of Eliphaz, which importeth these two use­ful Propositions.

1. That the general state of man in this world is a state of Trouble and Affiiction; and it is so common to him, so incident to all degrees and conditions of mankind, that it seems almost as universal, as that natural propension in the sparks to fly upward: No person of whatsoever age, sex, condi­tion, degree, quality, profession, but hath a part in this common state of mankind; and although some seem to have a greater portion of it than others, some seem to have greater and longer vicissitudes and intermissions and allays thereof than others, yet none are totally exempt from it: yea it is rare to find any man, that hath had the ordinary extent of the age of man, but his troubles, crosses, calamities, afflictions have overweighed and exceeded the mea­sure of his comforts and contentments in this life.

2. That yet those Afflictions and Troubles do neither grow up by a certain, regular and constant course of Nature, as Plants and Vegetables do, out of the ground, neither are they meerly accidental and ca­sual; but they are sent, disposed, directed, and managed by the conduct and guidance of the most wise Providence of Almighty [Page 55]God: and this he proveth in the sequel of this Chapter. And as in all things in Nature the most wise God doth nothing at random, or at a venture, so in this part of his providential dispensation towards mankind, he doth exercise the same, with excellent wisdom, and for excellent Ends; even for the very good and advantage of mankind in general, and particularly of those very persons that seem most to suffer and be afflicted by them: sometimes to pu­nish, sometimes to correct, sometimes to prevent, sometimes to heal, sometimes to prepare, sometimes to humble, always to instruct, and teach, and better the chil­dren of men.

And indeed, if there were no other end but these that follow, this seeming sharp Providence of Almighty God would be highly justified: namely, first, to keep men humble and disciplinable. Man is a proud vain creature; and were that humor constantly fed with prosperity and success, it would strangely pust up this vain humor: Affli­ctions and troubles are the excellent and necessary correctives of it, and prick this swelling impostumation of pride and haughtiness, which would otherwise ren­der men intollerable in themselves and one to another. Secondly, to bring mankind [Page 56]to recognize Almighty God, to seek unto him, to depend upon him: This is the most natural and specifical effect of Affli­ctions, Hos. 5.15. In their afflictions they will seek me early; Jo [...]ah 1. the rough and stubborn Mariners, in a storm, will cry every one to his God. Thirdly, to tutor and discipline the children of men in this great L [...]sson, That their Happiness lyes not in this World, but in a better; and by this means, even by the crosses and vexations and troubles of this World, and by these plain and feasible documents to carry man­kind up to the end of their beings. God knows those few and little comforts of this life, notwithstanding all the troubles and crosses with which they are interlarded, are apt to keep the hearts, even of good men, in too great love of this World. What would become of us, if our whole lives here should be altogether prosperous and contenting, without the intermixture of crosses and afflictions? But of these things more hereafter.

Now since the state of mankind in this World is for the most part thus cloudy and stormy, and that ordinarily we can expect it to be no otherwise, there are these Con­siderations which become every wise and good mind to acquaint himself with.

  • 1. What Preparation is fittest to be made by every man before they come.
  • 2. How they are to be received and en­tertained and improved, when they come, and while they are incumbent.
  • 3. What is the best and safest temper of mind when any of them are removed.

Touching the first of these, namely, Preparation before they come; and the best preparatives seem to be these:

1. A right and sound conviction and consideration of this most certain experimen­tal truth, namely, That no man whatso­ever, how good, just, pious, wise soever can by any means expect to be exempt from them, but must be more or less subject to Affliction, of one kind or other, at one time or another, in one measure or another; for man is certainly born to trouble, as the sparks sly upward: And this certain truth will be evident, if we consider the several kinds of affliction that are common to man­kind; and herein I shall forbear the In­stances which concern our childhood and youth, as such, which yet notwithstanding are subject to afflictions, that though they seem not such to men of riper years, yet are as real and pungent, and deeply and sensibly grievous to them, as those [Page 58]that seem of greater moment to men of riper years: But I shall apply my self to those Instances which are more evident, and of which those that have the exercise of their reason may be more capable.

Afflictions seem to be of two kinds, 1. Such as are common calamities, befal­ling a Nation, City, or Society of men: 2. Or more personal, that concern a man in his particular.

Touching the former of these, namely, common calamities, such are Wars, Deva­stations, Famines, Pestilences, spreading contagious Epidemical Diseases, great Con­flagrations, experience tells us, and daily lets us see that they involve in their extent the generality of men, good and bad, just and unjust, pious and profane: And al­though the gracious God is sometimes pleased, for ends best known to himself, strangely to preserve and rescue as it were, some out of a common calamity, yet it is that which I do not know how any man can promise himself, though otherwise ne­ver so pious and just, because I find not that any where under the Evangelical dispen­sation God Almighty hath promised to any person any such immunity; and common experience shews us that good and bad are oftentimes involved in the effects and ex­tremities [Page 59]of the same common calamity: and indeed it would be little less than a Miracle, and somewhat above the ordi­nary course of the Almighty's regiment of things, to give particular exemption in such cases. If a man receive any such blessing from God, he is bound eminently to ac­knowledge it as a signal, if not miraculous intervention of the divine mercy; but it is not that which a man can reasonably expect, because, although upon great and momen­tous occasions Almighty God is pleased not only to give out Miracles, but even to promise them also, as in the justifying of the truth of the Gospel, in the first publi­cation thereof, yet it is not equal for any particular person to suppose, that for the preservation of a particular interest or con­cernment, God Almighty should be as it were engaged to put forth a Miracle, or little less than a Miracle; and the Reasons hereof are:

1. Because under the Evangelical dispen­sation, the rewards of goodness, piety, and obedience are of another kind, and of a greater moment, namely, Eternal hap­piness, and not exemption from temporal calamities; if Almighty God grant such an exemption, it is of bounty and abundance, not of promise. It is true, under the Old [Page 60]Covenant with the people of Israel, their Pro­mises were in a great measure of temporal benefits, and the Administration of that Church, as it was in a great measure ty­pical, so the Divine Administration over them was very usually miraculous, both in their blessings, preservations and exem­ptions: And there was special reason for it; for they were to be a monument to all Mankind, and also to future Ages, of a special and signal Divine Regiment; and con­sequently the obedient might upon the ac­count of the Divine Promise expect bles­sings and deliverances, even in publick calamities that might befall the People in general: But we have no warrant to carry over those promises of Temporal benefits and exemptions to the obedience under the Gospel, which as it is founded upon an­other Covenant, so is it furnished with better Promises.

2. Because the best of men in this life, have sins and failings enow, to justifie the Justice of Almighty God, in exposing them to temporal calamities; and yet his mercy, goodness and bounty (is) abundantly mag­nified in reserving a reward in Heaven far beyond the merit of their best obedience and dutifulness: So that though they are exposed to temporal calamities, Almighty [Page 61]God still remains not only a true and faith­ful, but a liberal and bountiful Lord unto them in their everlasting rewards. What are light afflictions and but for a moment in comparison to an eternal weight of glory? 2 Cor. 4.17. Rom. 8.18. And the latter is the reward of their Obe­dience under the Gospel, whiles the former may be possibly the punishment or at least correction for their Sins.

And therefore, although at the intercession of Abraham, the Lord was pleased to grant a relaxation of the destruction of Sodom, for the sake of ten Righteous, it was an act of his bounty; and so it was when he de­livered Lot and his Family: Yet he had not been unjust if he had swept them away in that common temporal calamity, because possibly the sins of Lot himself might have been such, as might have acquitted the justice of God in so doing: for the highest temporal calamity is not disproportionate to any one Sin: And although he were pleased in mercy to spare Lot and his two Daughters, yet neither was he wholly ex­empted from that great calamity, for his House, Goods and the rest of his Family perished in that terrible Conflagration.

And upon this consideration, we have just cause to blame two sorts of persons; [Page 62]namely, 1. The rash censure of some in­considerate persons, that are too ready to censure all such as fall under a common calamity, whether of Fire, Sword, or Pe­stilence; as if so be they were therefore greater sinners than those that escape: the errour reproved by our Sa­viour in the instance of the Galileans, Lu. 13.1, 2.v. Jos. 9.2, 3. and those upon whom the Tower of Siloam fell. 2. The mistaken apprehension of men concerning themselves, that upon an opinion of their own righteousness or desert, think them­selves exempted from the stroke of common calamities, or are ready to accuse the Di­vine Justice, if they are not delivered from them. If they truly considered the just de­merit of any sin, and their own sins or failings, they would both acknowledge the Justice and Goodness of God, if he reserve an eternal reward of their obedience, though he expose them to the worst of temporal evils.

1. Concerning Personal Evils, they are of several kinds; 1. such as befall the Body, 2. such as befall the Estate, 3. such as be­fall the Name, 4. such as befall a man's Friends or Relations.

Touching the first of these Evils, name­ly, that befall the Body, they are of two [Page 63]kinds; 1. Some that are not so Epidemi­cal or universal upon all men; such as are casualties or accidental hurts, diseases springing from the particular complexion or temperament of persons, such as are hereditary diseases, diseases incident to cer­tain ages, infectious diseases arising from contagion, putrefaction, ill disposition of the Air or Waters. 2. Some diseases are incident unto every man in the World. If a man lives to a great old age, his very age is a disease, and the decay of natural heat and moisture doth in time bring the oldest man to his end; but if he live not to the attainment of old age, most certainly as he meets with death in the conclusion, so he meets with some disease or other that makes way for his dissolution. So that upon the whole account, though this or that man may not meet with this or that particular disease, casualty or distemper, that it may be attaques another, yet as sure as he is mortal, so sure shall some disease, distemper, casualty or weakness meet with him that shall bring him to the dust of death. That person therefore that is sub­ject to the universal Edict and Law of death, is and must be subject sooner or later to those diseases, sicknesses, casualties or weak­nesses that must usher in his death and [Page 64]dissolution. And although one man may escape a chronical disease, another an acute disease; one man may escape a Contagion, another a Consumption; one man may escape this disease or casualty, another that, yet most certain it is that every man shall infallibly meet with some disease, distem­per or casualty that shall be sufficient to dissolve his composition, and put a period to his life.

2. Concerning afflictions that particu­larly concern a man in his Estate. It is very true that some are more afflicted in this kind than others. The more wealth any man hath, the more he is obnoxious to losses; and the more any man loves wealth, the deeper the affliction of this nature wounds (him:) And this is ge­nerally true in all worldly matters what­soever; the more a man's heart is set upon it, the deeper and the more bitter the cross or affliction is therein. But though afflictions in this kind pinch some closer than others, yet there are very few that totally escape in this kind. The poor man reckons it his affliction that he wants wealth; and the rich man is not without his affliction either in the loss of it, or the fear of such losses; which create as real a trouble as the loss it self: Fire and shipwrack, envy [Page 65]and oppression, false accusations, robbers, a prodigal Heir. or a false Friend, thou­sands of such like avenues there are to a rich man's Treasure; and either they do actually attach it, and then they cause sorrow; or they do continually menace it, and so they cause fear. Nay sometimes a rich man hath as great an affliction in his not knowing where or how to dispose of his Wealth, as he hath that wa [...]s it.

3. Touching affliction in the Name: Most certainly of all things in the World, a good name is most easily exposed to the injury of any person; a false accusation, or false report, an action or word misinter­preted. A man hath no security of his Wealth against invasions of other; but he hath much less security touching his Name, because it is in the keeping of others, more than of the man himself; and it is visible to every man's experience, that he that hath the greatest name is most ex­posed to the envy, and therefore to the detraction and calumnies of others; and he that values his name and reputation most, is easiest blasted and deeper wounded, by a calumny though really false, than he that hath little reputation, or that esteems it lightly.

4. Touching Friends: There are two [Page 66]things that induce the loss of friends: 1. That which seems casual, yet very com­mon, whereby either friends become ene­mies, or at least grow into neglect; which is sometimes done by misrepresentations, false reports, by prevalence of factions, by differences in matters of interest, by the declination of a man's condition. 2. That which is certain: Death takes away a man's friends and relations from him, or him from them; the more friends and re­lations any man hath, the more losses of them or in them (he) shall necessarily have, upon this account: because every one of them is subject to all those casualties, that any one of them is subject to, whether in estate, name, body, or (death,) and conse­quently, the more friends and relations, the more crosses, and calamities; for all the crosses or losses that befall any of my friends are communicated to me, and in a manner made mine: and the greater my number of friends and relations are, the more losses of them and in them I am sub­ject to; for every one of them is subject to the same calamities with my self, which become in effect mine by participation. So that the more friends and relations I have, and the dearer and nearer they are, the more crosses I have, by participating theirs: [Page 67]and every bitter Arrow that wounds any of them, glanceth upon me, and makes my wounds the more by how much the more friends and relations I have; and makes them the deeper, by how much the nearer or dearer those friends or relations are to me. It is true, that in a multitude of good and dear friends and relations there is a communication of more comforts; but since generally the Scene of every man's life is fuller of crosses than comforts, the troubles and afflictions of my many friends or relations out-ballance and over-weigh those comforts.

And these crosses and afflictions in body, estate, name, and friends, though possi­bly they may not all come together, or in their perfection, at one time, upon any one man; yet as no man is exempt from any of them at any time by any special priviledge, so sometimes they have saln in together in their perfection, even upon some of the best men that we read of: Witness that great and signal Example of Job, who at one time suffered the loss of all his Children, of all his Servants, of all his Goods, of his great and honourable esteem among men, of his health; and be­side, all this lay under severe afflictions in his mind, and under the imputation of [Page 68]an Hypocrite with his best and judicious friends.

Upon all this that hath bin said, a man may, and upon evident reason and expe­rience, ought to conclude, That even the m [...]st sincere Piety and Integrity of Heart and Life cannot give any man an exemption or pri­ [...]led [...]e from Affi [...]ctions of some, or indeed of any, kind.

And this Consideration alone is sufficient, 1. To silence and quiet, that murmuring and unquiet, and proud distemper that often ariseth in the minds of good men them­selves; that are ready to think themselves much injured if they fall under the cala­mities incident to mankind: whereas the just and wise God never gave any promise or priviledge or exemption from external calamities and troubles to those whom yet he owns as his Children. 2. This conside­ration is sufficient to quiet the mind of persons thus afflicted, against that com­m [...]n temptation, which is apt to arise upon this [...]asion, as if they were hated or sor [...]aken of God, because sorely afflicted. Where as most certainly the favour or love of God is not to be measured simply by externals; [...] but rather the Go­spel teacheth us a quite con­ [...] [...] that God [...]-pleased to [Page 69]chasten those whom he loveth best. 3. This consideration is sufficient to cheek that censorious humour, that is in many, who like the Barbarians, Act. 28.4. presently conclude that person or place to be more sinful than others, because they suffer more, it may be, than others. This was the uneharitable and indeed unreason­able errour of Job's Friends, of old, and of many at this time in reference both to pub­lick and personal visitations.

2. The second good Preparative against Affliction is a frequent practical supp [...]sition, where with we are to entertain our selves, even in the time of our greatest Prosperity, That the Case may, and probably will be altered with us; and so to cast our selves as it were into the mold of an afflicted condition. For instance, I am now in health; what if I were now to enter into the valley of the shadow of death, into some acute, or pain­ful, or desperate disease; how am I sitted with patience, resignation of my self into the hand of God, contempt of the World; for such an estate (as) this I must come to sooner or later; how shall I bear or carry my self in it, or under it, were it now upon me? I have now a plentiful Estate, external affluence; what if at this moment, I were bereft of all; either by Fire or De­predation, [Page 70]how were my mind fitted with humility and patience to submit to a poor, strait, wanting condition: I have now a good Husband, Wife, Children, many Friends that esteem me and are faithful to to me; what if God should in a moment deprive me of all these? what if my dearest Friends should become my bitterest Ene­mies, how should I bear my self under these changes? I have a great Name and Esteem in the World; what if in a mo­ment, a black cloud of Infamy and Scorn and Reproach were drawn of it, and that I should become a scorn and reproach, with Job 30.8. among children of fools: yea children of base men viler than the earth: how were I fitted with humility and even­ness of mind to comport with such a con­dition, till it pleaseth God by his Provi­dence and the manifestation of my Inno­cence, if he think sit, to scatter this black cloud of Calumny and Reproach, or if not, yet quietly under it to enjoy the testimony of a good conscience and my own integrity. These and the like anticipations of trou­bled and afflicted conditions, would habi­tuate and fit our minds to bear them, furnish us with suitable tempers for them, render them casie to us when they come, and keep our Souls in a due state of moderation [Page 71]and watchfulness before they come: As the good Martyr Bilney before his martyrdom, by often putting his Finger into the Candle, made the Flames which he was after to endure more familiar and tollerable.

3. The third Preparative against Affli­ction and calamitous seasons, is to reason our selves off from over-much love and valua­tion of the World, and the best things it af­fords. Philosophy hath made some short essay in this business, but the Doctrine of the Gospel hath given us far more noble and effectual topicks and arguments, than any Philosophy ever did or can: 1. By giving us a plain and clear estimate and valuation of this World and all that seems most va­luable in it; but this is not all, but 2. by shewing us plainly and clearly a more va­luable, certain and durable estate after death, and a way of attaining (it) with much more ease and contentation, than we can attain the most splendid temporals of this World. Certain it is that the weight and and stress of afflictions and crosses lyes not so much in the things themselves which we suffer in them or by them, as in that overvaluation that we put upon those con­veniences which afflictions or crosses de­prive us of. When news was brought to that noble Roman of the death of his Son, [Page 72]it was a great pitch of patience that even that Moral consideration wrought in him, Novi me genuisse mortalem; though per­chance, it was not without a mixture of Stoical vain-glory. We set too great a value upon our health, our wealth, our reputation; and that makes [...] unable to bear, with that evenness and contentedness of mind, the loss of them, by sickness, poverty, reproach. We set too great a rate upon our temporal life here, because we set too great a rate upon this World, to the enjoyment whereof this life here is ac­commodated and proportioned; and that makes us fear death, not only as the ruine of our nature, but as that which puts a period to all our comforts: Whereas had we but Faith enough to believe the Evan­gelical truths touching our future happi­ness, it would make us not desire death, because we might in the time of this life secure unto our selves that great and one thing necessary; and it would make us not to fear death, because we see a greater fruition to be enjoyed after it, than all the glory of this present World can yield.

4. The next Preparative against Affli­ctions is to keep Piety, Innocence, and a Good Conscience before it comes. As Sin is the sting of death, so it is the sting of affliction; [Page 73]and that which indeed gives the greatest bitterness and strength unto affliction: and the reason is this, because it weakens and disables that part in man, which must bear and support it. This is that which the Wise man observes, Proc. 18.14. The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmities, but a wounded spirit who can bear? which is no more than this; It is the mind and spirit of man rightly principled, that doth bear and carry a man through those difficulties and afflictions and infirmities, under which he is; but if that spirit or mind which should carry and bear those evils, be hurt or wounded, or faint or infirm, what is there left in a man to bear that which indeed (should be) our support? Innocence and a Good Conscience keeps the mind and spirit of a man in courage and considence: and indeed it hath an influence and suffrage and attestation and support from the God of Heaven, to whom a good conscience can with an humble confidence appeal as Hezekiah did under a great affliction, Isa. 38. and this access to Almighty God doth give new supplies, succours and strength to the Soul to bear it up under very great and pressing afflictions. But on the other side, Sin doth disable the Soul to bear affliction till it be throughly repented of; 1. Because [Page 74]it doth in a great measure, emasculate and weaken the spirit of a man, makes it poor, cowardly and unable to bear it self up un­der the pressure of afflictions. 2. It doth in a great measure obstruct the intercourse between God and the Soul, and that in­fluence that might and would otherwise be derived to the spirit or mind of a man by the God of the spirits of all flesh.

Therefore the best preparative against affliction is, to have the Soul as clear as may be from the guilt of Sin: 1. By an innocent and watchful life in the time of our prospe­rity, before affliction attach us: 2. Or at least, By a speedy, sincere and hearty Repen­tance for Sin committed; and this repen­tance to be speedy, before affliction come: For although it is true that many times affliction is the messenger of God to awaken a sinner to repentance, and that repen­tance is accepted by the merciful God, yet that repentance is most kindly and easie, and renders afflictions less difficult and troublesom, which prevents affliction, and performs one great end and use of affli­ctions before it comes. He that hath a Soul cleansed by Faith and Repentance from the guilt of Sin, before the severity of af­fliction comes upon him, hath but one work to do, namely, to fit himself with patience [Page 75]to undergo the shock of affliction: But he that defers his repentance, till driven to it by affliction, his work is more difficult, because it is double, namely, to begin his repentance, and to bear his affliction.

And because in many things we offend all, and the best have their failings and sins of daily incursion, a daily revising and examining of our own failings, and renewing of our repentance for our daily faults is of singular use to render afflictions easie, be­cause repentance cleanseth the Soul, and renders a man in God's acceptation as if he had not offended.

5. The next preparative against affli­ction is to gain an humble Mind. When affliction meets with a proud heart, full of opinion of its own worth and goodness, there ariseth more trouble, and tumult, and disorder, and discomposure in the contest of such a heart against the affliction, than possibly can arise from the affliction it self; and the strugling of that distemper of pride with the affliction, galls and intangles the mind more than the severest affliction, and renders a man very unfit for it and unable to bear it. Isa. 51.20. The Prophet de­scribes it, her Sons at the head of every street were like a wild Bull in a net. But on the other side, an humble, [Page 76]lowly mind is calm and patient, and falls with ease upon an afflicted condition; for the truth is, the great evil of suffering is not so much in the thing a man suffers, as in the mind and temper of spirit of the man that meets with it; an humble mind is a mind rightly prepared with the greatest facility to receive the shock of any affli­ction, for such a mind is already as low as affliction can ordinarily set it.

And certainly, if any man consider aright, he hath many important causes to keep his Mind always humble; 1. In respect of Almighty God, the great and glorious King of Heaven and Earth, whom if a man contemplate, he will put his mouth in the dust, acknowledge himself to be but a poor worm, and therefore unworthy to dispute the Divine dispensations, pro­vidences or permissions 2. In respect of himself. He that considers aright himself, his sins and failings and corruptions, will have cause enough to humble himself, and reckon that he is justly obnoxious to the severest crosses and afflictions. Why doth the living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sin? Lam. 3.39. 'tis mercy enough that the affliction extends not yet so [...]r as his life, a living man to complain, car­nes a reprehension in it self of the complaint.

6. Another most singular pr [...]paration against affliction, is a steady resolved Re­signation of a man's self to the will and good pleasure of Almighty God, and that upon grounds of the greatest reason imaginable. For 1. it is a most sovereign will; for his will must be done whether we will or not: therefore it is the highest piece of folly ima­ginable to contest with him, that will not, cannot, may not be controlled. It is true we have commission to pray to him, to deliver us from evil, but when we have so done, we must withal desire that his will may be done; this pattern the Son of God hath given us, Matth. 26.39. Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but thy will be done. Willingly therefore submit to that will which whe­ther thou wilt or no, thou must, thou shalt endure: for his will is the most sove­reign will, the will of the absolute Mo­narch of Heaven and Earth. 2. As it is the most sovereign will, so it is the most wise will; what he wills he wills not sim­ply pr [...]mperio, but his will is founded upon and directed by a most infinite wisdom: and since thou canst not, upon any tolle­rable account, judge thy will wiser than his, it becomes thee to resolve thy poor, narrow, inconsiderate will, into the will [Page 78]of the most wise God. 3. As it is a most wise will, so the will of God is most cer­tainly the most benificent and best will; what reason hast thou to suspect the beni­ficence of his will, whose will alone gave thee thy being, that he might communi­cate his goodness to that being of thine, which he freely gave thee. It is true, it may be thou dost not see the reason, the end, the use of his Dispensations, yet be content with an implicit submission to re­sign thy self up to his disposal, and rest assured it shall be best for thee, though thou yet canst not understand what it means. If he hath given thee an Heart to resign up this will unto his, be confident he will never mislead thee, nor give thee cause to repent of trusting him. It was a noble pitch of a Heathen's mind, namely, Epicte­tus, Enchirid. cap. 78. In quovis incepto hae [...] optanda sunt; Due me, ô Jupiter, & t [...] fatum, eo quo sum à vobis destinatus; sequar enim alacriter: quod si noluero, & improbus ero, & sequar nihilominus. Which may be thus better Englished: ‘;In every Enterprize this ought to be our Prayer; Guide me O God, and thou Divine Providence ac­cording to thine own appointment; I will with chearfulness follow: which, if I shall decline to do, I shall be an un­dutiful [Page 79]man, and yet shall nevertheless follow thy appointment, whether I will or not.’ But Christians have learned a Reason of a nobler descent, namely, Rom. 8.28. That all things shall work together for good, to those that love God: and certainly there can be no greater evidence [of thy love to him] than to make the Will of God the guide, rule and measure of thine own.

7. I shall conclude with that great Pre­parative, which is indeed the completion of all that is before said, and in a few words includes all, Labour to get thy Peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord: when this is once attained, thou art set above the love of the World, and the fear of afflictions, because thou hast the assu­rance of a greater Treasure than this World can give or take away; Heb. 12.28. a Kingdom that cannot be (sha­ken,) a hope and most assured expectation that is above the region of afflictions, and that renders the greatest and forest affli­ctions, as they are, namely light and mo­mentany: And yet because thou art not­withstanding this glorious expectation, yet in this lower region, and subject to pas­sions and perturbations, and fears, the mer­ciful God hath engaged his promise to [Page 80]support thee here under them, to better and improve thee by them, to carry thee through (them) by his all-sufficient grace and mercy: The strokes thou receivest are either managed and directed, or at least go­verned and ordered by him that is thy Fa­ther, and that in very love and faithfulness doth correct thee, Psal. 119.75. that hath a heart of compassion and love to thee, even when he seems in his Providences to frown upon thee; that while thou art under them, will make them work together for thy good, and that will never take from thee those everlasting mercies which are thy portion; that hath all thy afflictions, crosses, troubles, whatever they are or may be, under the infallible conduct of his own wisdom and power: And that as on the one side he will never suffer thee to be afflicted beyond what he gives thee grace to bear and improve; 1 Cor. 10.13. so on the other hand he will so manage, order and govern thy light af­flictions, which are here but for a moment, that in the end they shall be a means to bring thee a far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory. 2 Cor. 4.17. If therefore thou wouldst be soundly armed against afflictions, and prepared with ease and comfort to bear them, this one [Page 81]thing necessary is sufficient to render thee such, and to fit thee also with all those advantageous helps before mentioned, which will necessarily follow upon this attainment.

2. Secondly, I come to the second ge­neral, namely, How Afflictions incumbent upon us are to be received, entertained and improved; and this will be in a great measure supplied by what hath been before said touching our preparation of heart be­fore they come: for a mind so prepared and habituated, will be sufficiently qualified to receive and entertain them as becomes a good man and a good Christian. Never­theless some things I shall subjoyn in order to the bearing and improving of afflictions while they are incumbent upon us; and they are these:

1. It becomes a man under afflictions in the first place to have a very diligent, fre­quent, attentive and right consideration concerning Almighty God, that he is a God of infinite wisdom, power, justice, mercy and goodness: That he hates not any thing that he hath made, but hath a great love and benificence to all his Crea­tures, that he designs their good and be­nefit, even in those dispensations that seem most sharp and severe: that if he had not [Page 82]a good will to his Creatures, he would never have done so much for them as he hath done: that whiles he exerciseth disci­pline to the children of men, it is evident they are under his care: that oftentimes there is a greater severity of the Divine displeasure, in his leaving mankind to them­selves, than in exercising them with affli­ctions: and that he equally discovers the love and care of a Father in his corrections, as (well as) in his more pleasing admini­strations.

2. And farther, that afflictions rise not out of the dust, but are sent and managed by the wise disposition and regiment of Almighty God: it is his Providence that sends them, that measures out their kind, weight, continuance; and that they are always, as commissionated by him, so un­der the conduct of his power, wisdom and goodness, and never exceed the line and limits of his power, wisdom and good­ness: if he bids them go, they go; if he bids them return, they return; if he com­mands the most tumultuous and tempe­stuous storms of afflictions, peace, be still, there will be a calm: as mankind is never out of the reach of his power to afflict and correct, so it is never out of the reach of his power to relieve and recover.

3. That as no man hath an exemption from afflictions, so it is most evident that even the best of men are visited with them, and it is but need they should; for where one man is the worse by afflictions, a thousand are the worse for want of them, and as many the better by them; and the wise and gracious God that knows our frame, better than we our selves, doth for the most part in very faithfulness afflict us. The egresses of the Divine Counsels have ever in them a com­plication of excellent ends, even in affli­ctions themselves: they are acts of Justice oftentimes to punish, and of Mercy to pre­vent distempers and to heal them; and this is that lot which our Blessed Lord be­queathed unto his own People, In the world ye shall have tribulation, Joh. 16.33. so that a good man may have as great cause to suspect his own integrity in the absence of them, as in the suffering under them.

4. That all the Divine dispensations of comforts or crosses are so far beneficial or hurtful as they are received and used: com­forts, if they make us thankful, sober, faithful, they become blessings; if they make us proud, insolent, secure, forgetful, they become judgments: afflictions, if they are received with humility, patience, repentance and returning to God, they are [Page 84]blessings; if they are received with mur­muring, impatience, imcorrigibleness, they become judgments, and a forerunner of greater severity.

5. The consequences of all these Consi­derations do evidently lead us unto these Dutics, when-ever we are under the pressure of Affliction:

  • 1. To receive it with all Humility, as reached out unto us from the hand, or permission at least, of Almighty God. There were a sort of Philosophers that thought it a virtue to put on a resolved contempt of all crosses and afflictions; not to be moved at all with them, but to bear them with a stout apathy: this is not that tem­per that becomes a Christian; it is all one, as if a Child should resolve to receive the correction [of his Father] with a stubborn resolution not to care for them, or to be affected with them: such a stubbornness under affliction renders it unuseful to its end, and commonly provokes the great Lord and Father of Spirits totally to reject such a mind, or to master it with sharper and severer and multiplied afflictions, till it yield, and till that uncircumcised Heart be humbled and accept of the punishment of its iniquity. Levit. 26.41.
  • 2. To receive (it) with Patience and [Page 85]subjection of mind; and without either contesting with Almighty God, charging his Providence with errour or injustice, or swelling and storming against the af­fliction, or the Divine dispensation that sends it: This hath two singular benesits; first, it renders the affliction it self more easie and tollerable; secondly, it is one of the readiest ways to shorten or abate it: For as yielding and humble submission to the hand of God, so patience and sub­mission of will to the Divine dispensation are two of the great ends and business of affliction, which when attained by it, it hath performed a great part of its errand for which it was sent.
  • 3. To return unto God that afflicteth or permitteth it: Affliction misseth its end and use when it drives a man from his God, either to evil or unlawful means, or to shift and hide himself, or keep at a di­stance from him; and as it loseth its end so it is contrary to its natural effect, at least where it meets with a nature of any understanding or ingenuity. In their af­fliction they will seek me early. God Almighty sends afflictions like messengers to call home wandring Souls; and if a man will shist away, get farther off and estrange himself more from him that strikes him, he will [Page 86]either send more importunate messengers, afflictions of a greater magnitude, to call and fetch him, as want and famine did the young Prodigal in the Gospel; or, which is far worse, let him go without farther seeking him: Whereas the man that by af­fliction, as it were at the first call, comes home to God, or gets nearer to him, for the most part prevents severer monitors, and renders his suffering more short, or at least more easie, by drawing near to God the fountain of peace and deliverance.

And if the affliction befalls such a man that hath not estranged himself from Al­mighty God, nor departed from him in any greater offences or backslidings, yet affliction is not without its end or use, even to such a man. Thou hast walked closely in the duties towards God, hast depen­ded upon him, approved thy self in his sight; yet is it not possible that for thy saith, industry, obedience, dependence may be more, more constant, more firm? If it may be, as sure it may be, then though affliction solicit not thy return to him from whom thou hast not departed, yet it so­licits thy improvement.

  • 4. To Pray unto God: and this is the most natural effect of affliction, especially if it be severe and eminent. In the storm [Page 87]the Sailers call every one upon his God; and the reason is, because in such a season, a man's own shifts, the help and advice and assistance of friends, and other hu­mane confidence appear too weak and in­effectual; and therefore the man is driven to that which indeed is the unum magnum; namely, invocat on of Almighty God, for help, support and comfort. It is therefore a sign of a desperate mind that will not come unto God in prayer, at least when afflictions grind him. And although a man be not of the number of those that restrain prayer before God, yet afflictions naturally will make the prayer of such a man more earnest, fervent, constant; it sets an edge and adds life to the prayers of a praying man.
  • 5. To Depend and Trust upon God, both for support under, and seasonable delive­rance from afflictions. Keep thy recum­bence upon his goodness and mercy, even under the blackest night of afflictions: Though he kill me, yet will I trust in him: and with David (Psal. 23.4.) even in the valley of the shadow of death to rest upon his Rod and his Staff: And though it be­comes the best of men to have an yielding and a soft spirit under the afflicting hand of God, yet be careful to bear up thy self [Page 88]under the power and goodness of God from fainting and despondence.
  • 6. To be Thankful unto God under af­fliction, and that upon very great and im­portant motives: 1. Thankful that they are no worse or greater: Thou hast losses, but yet hast thou lost all at once? Job did; or if thou hast lost all externals, yet hast thou not something thou valuest more than all, namely, innocence, peace with God and thy own Conscience? 2. Thankful that God Almighty rather chooseth to af­flict thee, than to forsake thee. As long as Almighty God is pleased to afflict thee it is plain thou art under his discipline, his care; no man's condition is desperate so long as the Physician continues his admi­nistration: nor is any man wholly forsaken of God, nor past his care, so long as he is under affliction: for it is a medicine that without thy own default will either reco­ver or better thee. 3. Thankful that God hath been pleased to discover so much of his mind and design and affections towards mankind in his Word, as to assure us that the measure of his love towards or dis­pleasure against the children of men, is not to be taken by external prosperity or adversity: But on the contrary to bear up our Souls under the pressures of afflictions, [Page 89]assures us that they are the effects for the most part of his fatherly love and care (rather) than of his heavy displeasure; that they may indeed sometimes be sym­ptoms of his anger, but not of his hatred; they may be for corrections, but not for confusion: he may correct those, whom yet he accounts his Children and resolves to save.
  • 7. To put us upon a due search and Examination of our Hearts and Ways. Cer­tainly there is not (the) best man living, but upon a strict and impartial search of himself may find sewel for affliction; de­merit enough to deserve it; somewhat amiss that requires amendment; some corruptions growing into exorbitancy; some errours, that stand in need of Physick to cleanse them; some budding disorders, that stand in need of a medicine to prevent them. It is the great business of affliction, the great message that it brings from God to man, is to search out and see what is amiss, what is defective; and to ransack our Souls and Hearts and Lives, and search whether there be not something offensive to God.
  • 8. To put a man to a double Duty upon this search; namely, if upon an impartial serutiny, thou find thy Conscience clear from great and wasting Sins, humbly bless [Page 90]God for his grace, that hath preserved thee from the great transgression: but yet hum­ble thy self for thy sins of daily incursion, for thy sins of omission, for thy coldness in thy devotions, for thy want of vigilance over thy pulions, for thy ne [...]lect of op­portun [...]tl [...], [...] doing good. As thou hast mitter of thankfulness, for escaping those 0303 0 [...]eater and wasting sins, when others [...]; [...]r t [...] hast matter of humi­ [...]tion [...]nd repentance, for those sins that [...] of a lesser magnitude, whereunto thy 0303 0 [...] inadvertence and humane trailty unders thee liable, and to set a stricter [...]rch upon thy self even in reference to [...]ere. Again, on the other side, if upon [...]ch, thou find thy self guilty of any [...] which hath not been repented [...], thy [...]iction brings likewise a double [...] unto thee. First, a message of hu­ [...]tion and repentance for thy great [...]gr [...]lion; and t [...]ning to God, with [...]perfect resolution of amendment: and a [...]sage of gratitude and thankfulness to [...] that hath sent this messenger of af­ [...] [...] awaken thee to repentance and mendment; and hath given thee an as­ [...]ce [...] pardon and forgiveness upon thy [...]ce and amendment, through the [...] Sacrifice of Christ Jesus. So [Page 91]that whatsoever person affliction meets with, it brings with it a useful and profi­table message from Heaven: If it meet with a person under the guilt of some great unrepented sin, it brings him an errand of humiliation, repentance, amendment and thankfulness: if it meet with a good man, such a man as Job, who had the witness of God in himself, that he was a perfect man and an upright, yet it brings him also a message of the like nature, a message of gratitude to that God, that hath preserved him from the great transgression; a mes­sage of humiliation and repentance for his often failings and offences; a message of advice to proceed with greater vigilance, and to a farther degree of Christian per fection in the whole course of his life.
  • 9. To wean a man from the love of the world, and to carry up the thoughts and hopes and desires to that Countrey where unto we are appointed. If all things went well even with good men in this life, they would be building of Tabernacles here, and set up their rest and hopes on this side Jordan, as the Reuhenites did in the Countrey of Bashan, when they found it rich and fruitful. God Almighty there­fore in mercy makes this World unpleasing, to good men by affliction, that they may [Page 92]set the less value upon it, and fix their hopes and desires and endeavours for that City which is above.

This is the voice of the Rod and of Him that hath appomted it, which every wise man ought to hear and answer with [...] obedience, submission and thankfulness: And when affliction hath wrought this effect, us business is in a great measure ended: and for the most part it is thereupon [...]sed or removed.

Above all the Temptations that befall good men in A [...]i [...]citons, this commonly is that which doth most greatly prevasl, and [...]th them the most hurt, namely, when [...] [...]ddigent search they find their Con­ [...]clences clear from any great offences, they [...] apt to magnifie their own inte­ [...] toexpostulate the reasonableness and [...] the divine dealing with them, to [...] of hard [...]sage from him. This [...] fault, [...] is too apt to be the [...] of [...]od men, though neither equal [...]m in their persecatons or aff [...]ff [...]ctions: [...]uch courise nevertheless is 1. Very un­ [...] and unreasonable; for the best of men [...]ave sins enough to [...]stifie the Justice of God in his severest dea [...]ing with them; and [...]ptions enough to grow into greater [...]mities, which although they perchance [Page 93]see not, yet the all-knowing God sees, and in mercy and with wisdom prevents, by the corrosives and catharticks of affliction: infomuch that even that good man, when Almighty God opened his ear to discipline, saw and acknowledged, and therefore ab­horred lumself in dust and ashes. 2. As it is extremely unjust, so it is extremely foolish and vain: For as it is not the way to remove the affliction, so when God is pleased to remove it in mercy and com­passion, it makes a man justly ashamed upon his deliverance, of that folly and pettish­ness that he shewed under his affliction against Almighty God, who even then had thoughts of mercy and deliverance for him. And this very Consideration had been enough to have made Job's deliverance yet full of trouble and shame, for his fro­wardness in his affliction, unless the gra­cious God in a strange condescention of goodness and gentleness had prevented it, by giving so great a suffrage unto his in­tegrity, and covering the errours and pas­sionate excursions of his affliction, as a Father doth the errours and follies of his Child, by an indulgent commendation: Ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, is my servant Job.

And thus far of the carriage that becomes [Page 94]us to have under affliction, and our due im­provement of it, to the ends for which Al­mighty God sends it: by which Almighty God receives the honour of his sovereignty, his justice, his goodness, his wisdom, his truth; and man receives the benefit of prevention from sin, deliverance out of it, improve­ment of his graces, perfecting of his Soul, and advancement of his glory, through the mercy of God, and his blessing upon this bitter cup, the cup of affliction.

I come to the third General Consideration, namely, that temper and disposition of mind that becomes us to have upon and after deliverance from afflictions.

1. Upon our deliverance from affli­ctions, we ought in a special and solemn manner to return our humble and hearty Thanks to Almighty God, to acknowledge him to be the Author of it, to return unto him our humble and serious praises, that he hath been pleased to answer our Prayer, and hath given us a plain testimony that he hath a regard to us: this is the Tribute that he expects most justly from us. As he in a special manner requires our Prayers unto him, when we are under affliction, so he requires that we should take notice of the Returns of our Prayers, and to pay him the tribute of Praise upon our deli­verance. [Page 95]Call upon me in the day of trou­ble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorifie me. The truth is, when we are under extremities, we are easily perswaded to call to God for deliverance; the very natural pressure of afflictions drive us to him, we know not whither else to fly: But as soon as the Rod is gone, we are dull and backward in returning glory to God; and we are most apt to take notice of the means that immediately went before. If we or any of our relations are delivered from sickness, we have it presently upon our tongues ends, that we had a careful or skilful Physician, a strong constitution, favourable weather, some lucky accident that happened unto us; and the like we are apt to do upon other deliverance: and rarely, or at least not with that sincerity, acknowledge the mercy of God, and the hand of God to be that which raised us up. It is true, means are not to be neglected, it is a presumption and tempting of God: but it is the providence of God that gives us means, and the blessing of God that makes them successful, that sometimes blesseth poor and weak and unlikely means to pro­duce desired effects; sometimes maketh those very things we call accidents, that seem to import the very destruction of a [Page 96]man, to be the means of his recovery, and sometimes brings about the effect without any visible means. We are no less to ac­knowledge his goodness and influence, when we seem to be delivered by means, than if we were delivered by miracle. It is true, we are apt to fasten our thoughts and reasons upon means, because we see them; but if our Eyes could be so opened as the Prophet's servant's were, 2 Kings 6.17. when he saw the Chariots of fire in the Mountain, we should see ano­ther kind of regiment and government and ordering and disposing of things than now we see. Many, if not most, of those signal deliverances that a Man or a Nation hath, are wrought not so much by the efficacy of means, as by a secret invisible Hand of Providential government which we see (not.) If therefore thou art delivered from any great distress of any kind, in such a manner that thou canst not attribute it to means, or possibly above or beyond means, the Hand of thy deliverer is more signal and conspicuous, glorifie his mercy and goodness: And if thou dost obtain thy deliverance by means, vet still glorifie his mercy and goodness; for it is his provi­dence that sends means, his power and goodness that blesseth it to its desired success: [Page 97]the efficiency and energy of the principal cause is that which gives efficacy to the means and makes it effectual.

2. Endeavour to express thy thankful­ness by a sincere and faithful Obedience to the will of that God, that hath thus de­livered thee. A true and hearty thankful­ness of mind will not content it self with bare verbal praises and acknowledgements, but will study and endeavour to find out and do all that may be well-pleasing and delightful and acceptable to his great Be­nefactor; and wherever the Heart is truly affected with the sense of the favour, good­ness, and love of God, and that the deli­verance it hath had, it hath had from his hand, will think nothing too much to be done, that may be well pleasing to him. Great acclamations and verbal praises and acknowledgements without an honest and sincere endeavour to please and obey him, are but a piece of mockery and hypocritical complement; and a meer frustration and disappointment of Almighty God, in the [...]nd and design of his mercy to us; which is, to make us really better, more dutiful, more capable of greater and everlasting mercies; to make us better Examples to others, who may thereby (be) invited to follow us in piety and goodness. A man that [Page 98]hath received great and signal mercies and deliverances, becomes a great and effica­cious Example, and of much good, or much evil, according as he carries himself after eminent mercies received: If he be­come more pious, virtuous, just, sober than before, he becomes a forcible motive and encouragement to others, to be like him; again, if he either remain or degenerate into impiety, vanity, or vice, he discou­rageth goodness, and becomes a great temptation to others to be like him.

3. Take beed lest after great deliverance, thy Heart be lifted up into presumption upon God, pride and vain-glory, and a conceit of thy own goodness and worth. This is the common temptation that grows upon much mercy received; and therefore the wise Law-giver did very frequently caution the people of Israel against this, Deut. 9.4. Speak not in thy heart after the Lord thy God hath cast them out, saying, For my righteous­ness the Lord hath brought me to possess this land, &c. Let thy afflictions find thee humble, and let thy afflictions-make thee more humble; but let thy deliverance yet increase thy humility; the more mercy God shews to thee, the more humble ever let thy Heart be, upon a double account: 1. Thy deliverances doth or should make thee know [Page 99]Almighty God the more; and the more thou knowest him, the more humble it should make thee: Job 42.5. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the car; but now mine eyes have seen thee: wherefore I abhor my self in dust and ashes. 2. Thou hast need to double thy guards of humility, because upon great deliverance thou must expect that the tem­ptation and assaults of pride and vain glory will be most busie with thee: And if in all thy preparations for afflictions thou hast studied humility, if under all thy afflictions thou hast improved thy humility, yet if now, upon thy deliverance, thou art lost in pride and vain-glory, thou hast lost all the benefit both of thy preparations, and of thy affli­ctions, and of thy deliverance also: thou art like an unhappy Ship that hath en­dured the Sea, and born the Storm, and yet sinks when she is come into the Harbour.

4. And upon the same account be vigi­lant and watchful. It is true, thou hast weathered a great Storm, out of which by the mercy of God thou art delivered; but still be upon thy guard, thou knowest not how soon thou shalt meet with another; take heed it surprize thee not unprovided. Though thou hast endured, it may be, a long and dark storm of affliction, and God hath mercifully delivered thee; yet thou hast no [Page 100]promise from Almighty God that thou shalt meet with no more. These three Consider ations should keep thee watchful and vigilant, not­withstanding great deliverance from great afflictions: 1. Thou art thereby better fitted and prepared to receive it; if it come, it shall not surprize thee unaware nor find thee sleeping. 2. Most certainly, if any thing be a more likely means, as to preserve thee un­der, so from affliction, it is a prepared, watch­ful, vigilant mind: for, if I may so speak, afflictions have no great business with such a man; for, he is already in that posture and and frame of Heart, that affliction is ordina­rily sent to give a man. 3. There is nothing more likely to procure affliction than secu­rity and unpreparedness of mind: And that, First, in respect of the goodness, mercy, and justice of God, who, though with most unblameable justice, yet with singular mercy, is very likely to send affliction to awaken him and amend him, and to recall him from that tendency to Apostacy, that security is apt to bring upon him. Secondly, in respect of the malice and vigilancy of the great Enemy of mankind; who, as he never wants malice, so he often gets a permission to worry a man whom he hath under this disadvantage of unpreparedness and security.

5. Be careful to keep, as great afflictions, so also great deliverance in memory. Most men upon the fresh receipt of mercy and deliverance, have a quick and lively appre­hension of it; and accordingly their affe­ctions of thankfulness, and practices and purposes of Obedience are lively and dili­gent: but in process of time, and as the man is further distant from his deliver [...]nce, so the memory of it doth gradually, and pos­sibly suddenly, vanish and decay: and as the remembrance of the deliverance decays and grows weaker and weaker, so do these affections or dispositions of the Soul that are before mentioned: The thankfulness grows faint; and so doth the obedience, and so doth the humility, and so doth the watchfulness: and as the water that hath been heated, being removed from the fire, grows by degrees colder and colder, till at last it comes to its old coldness that it first had; so in a little time the affliction is forgot, and the deliverance is forgot, and the man is grown into the very same state, as if he had never felt either, and possibly worse. Therefore keep deliveran­ces and afflictions too, fresh in thy me­mory; call thy self frequently to account for them, use some expedient that may fre­quently remind thee of them with all their [Page 102]circumstances: set them down in writing; mention them often, recollect them often, and recollect what thoughts, purposes, temper of mind and spirit was then upon thee, when thy afflictions were upon thee, or thy deliverances freshly given to thee. Cast with thy self, how if these were now as fresh to thee as they were then, with what motions or dispositions of Soul thou shouldest receive them; and reason thy self into the same temper and habitude of thank­fulness, as then thou hadst. By this keeping thy memory of these afflictions and these deliverances fresh under all its circumstan­ces, thou wilt with them, and in the same degree as thy remembrance is of them, re­vive and excite and preserve and keep alive and quick and active, the same gratitude, the same humility, the same obedience, the same vigilance, that these afflictions or these deliverances wrought in thee, when they were freth with thee or upon thee. The vigorous perpetuating of the remem­brance of them, will be an effectual means to perpetuate the due fruit of them in their life, vigour and intention.

JACOB's VOW: OR, The Modesty and Reasonableness OF JACOB'S Desire.

GEN. XXVIII. 20.‘And Jacob Ʋowed a Ʋow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and rayment to put on; so that I come (again) to my father's house in peace: then shall the Lord be my God, &c.’

THE only thing that I intend to consider upon this place of Holy Scripture, is the Modesty and Reasonableness of Jacob's Desire. He doth not desire greatness of wealth, or honour, or power, or splendour, or great [Page 104]equipage in this World; but all that (he) demes, in reference to this World, is, 1. That the comfortable presence and sense of the favour and love of God should be with him; If God will be with me: 2. That the Protection of the Divine Providence may be continually over him; and will keep we in the way that I go: 3. That he would supply him, not with curiosities or delica­cies, but with necessaries; and will give me bread to eat and ra [...]ment to put on.

And the truth is, this should be the Rule und Measure of every good man, in reference to this life, and the enjoyments of it, and the desires of them, until he come to his Father's house in peace; that house where­in there are many mansions, that the great Father, of whom all the Family in Heaven and Earth is named, hath provided for such as fear, and love, and obey him.

Indeed the two former of these, though they be no more than what the bountiful God freely affords to all that truly love him, and depend upon him, are of a strange and vast extent. First, the comfortable presence of God supplies abundantly all that can be desired by us, and abundantly countervails whatsoever else we seem to want; it is better than life it self: And when the Ancients would express all that seemed [Page 105]beneficial or prosperous in this life, they had no suller and comprehensive expres­sion of it, than that God was with him: Joseph, Gen. 39. 3. And when his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper: 1 Sam. 18. 14, 28. the wisdom and courage and success of David (is) resolved into this one thing, The Lord was with him.

But certainly, though the Divine pre­sence should not manifest it self in external successes and advantages, the very sense of the savour and comfortable presence of God carries with it an abundant supply of all other deficiences. Psal. 4. 6, 7. The light of the countenance of Almighty God is the most supereminent good, and occa­sions more true joy and contentment, than the redundance of all external advantages. Secondly, the Divine protection and pro­vidence is the most sure and safe protection, and supplies the want of all other. The munition of Rocks is thy defence; and all other desences and refuges without this, are weak, impotent, and failing defences. Except the Lord watch the city, the watch­man watcheth but in vain.

That therefore which I shall fix upon is the last of his three desires: If he shall give me meat to drink and rayment to put on.

The desires of a good man, in relation to the things of this life, ought not to be lavish and extravagant; not to be of things for grandeur, or delicacy, or excess: but to be terminated in things of necessity for his present subsistence, convenient food and rayment. If Almighty God give more than this, it is matter of the greater gra­titude, as it was to Jacob, Gen. 32. 10. I am not worthy of the least of all the mer­cies, &c. for with my staff, I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands: But if he gives no more, we have enough for our contentation. Almighty God, who is never worse than his word, but most commonly better, hath not given us any promise of more, neither hath he given us commission to expect or ask for more. If he gives more than necessary, he exalts his bounty and benificence: and yet, if he gives no more, it is bounty that he gives so much; and is matter both of our contentation, and gratitude.

This the wise man Agur made his re­quest, Prov. 30. 8. Give me neither poverty, nor riches: seed me with food convenient for me. This our Lord teacheth us to ask, in his excellent form of Prayer; Give us this day our daily bread: and this is that which the Apostle prescribes, for the Rule of [Page 107]our contentation, 1 Tim. 6.8. And having food and rayment, let us be therewith con­tent.

And truly, if it pleaseth God to allow us a sufficiency and competency, for the necessity of our nature, we have very great Reason to be contented with it, not only as it is (a) duty enjoyned unto us, but upon most evident conviction of sound Reason, both in regard unto Almighty God, in regard of our selves, and in re­gard of others. I shall mingle these Rea­sons together.

1. It becomes us to be contented, be­cause whatsoever we have, we have from the free allowance, bounty, and goodness of God: he owes us nothing; but what we have, we have from free gift and bounty. If a man demands a debt of another, we think it just he should be paid what he demands; but if a man receive an alms from another, we think it reasonable he should be content with what the other gives, without pre­scribing to the measure of his bounty. But the case is far stronger here: we are under an obligation of duty to be charitable to others wants, by virtue of a Divine Com­mand but Almighty God is under no other law of conferring benefits, but of his own bounty, goodness, and will.

2. It becomes us to be content, because our measure and dole is given unto us, as by him that is absolute Lord of his own bounty, so by him that is the wisest dispenser of his own benefits: he knows, far better, than we our selves, what proportion is fittest for us: he hath given us enough for our necessity, and we are desirous to have somewhat more; the wise God knows, it may be, that more would do us harm, would undo us; would make us luxurious, proud, insolent, domineering, forgetful of God. The great Lord and Master of the great Family of the World, knows who are, and who are not able to bear redundancy: And therefore if I have food convenient for me, I have reason to be content, because I have reason to believe the great and wise God knows what pro­portion best sits me; it may be, if I had more, I were ruined.

3. We must know that we are but Ste­wards of the very external blessings of this life; and at the great Audit, we must give an account of our Stewardship, and those Accounts will be strictly perused by the great Lord of all the Family in Heaven and Earth. Now if our external benefits be but proportionable to our necessities and necessary use, our Account is easily and [Page 109]safely made: Imprimis, I have received so much of thy external blessings as were ne­cessary for my food and clothing, and for the feeding and clothing of my Family: But on the other side, where there is a superfluity and redundance given over and above our necessary support, the account is more difficult. where much is given, much will be required. There will be an account required, how the redundant over­plus was employed; how much in Charity, how much in other good works: and God knows that too too often very pitiful ac­counts are made of the surplusage and re­dundancy of a liberal Estate; which will be so far from abating the account, as it will enhance it: Item so much in excess, debauchery, and riot; so much in costly apparel; so much in magnificence and vain shews, and the like.

4. Our natures may be well enough sup­plied with little; Natura pancis contenta; and whatsoever is redundant, most com­monly turns to the damage and detriment of our nature, unless it meet with a very wise proprietor: For the excess in the abuse of superfluities in eating and drink ing, and gratifying our appetites; or the excess of care and pains in getting, or keeping, or disposing superfluities and re­dundance, [Page 110]commonly doth more harm, even to our natural complexions and con­stitution, than a mediocrity proportionate to the necessities of nature.

5. Whatsoever is more than enough for our natural support, and the necessary supply of our Families, and so emplyed is in truth, vain, useless, unserviceable; and such a man is rich but in fancy and notion, and not in truth and reality: For the use of externals is supply of our natural neces­sity; if I have a million of Money, and yet a hundred Pounds is sufficient, and as much as I shall use to bring me to my Grave; the rest is vain and needless to me, and doth me no good: it is indeed my bur­then, and my care, and my trouble; but is of no more use to me in my Chest, than if it were in the center of the Earth. It is true, I have thereby a happy opportu­nity, if I have a large and a wise Heart to dispose it for the glory and service of God, and the good of mankind, in works of piety, charity, and humanity: but if I keep it in my Chest, it is an impertinent trouble, neither useful for my self, because I need it not, I have enough without it; nor as I order it is it useful for others, no more than if it were an hundred fathom under gr [...]und.

6.A state of Mediocrity or supplies pro­portionate to my necessity, is infinitely more safe to me, even in respect of my self, than an estate of glory, wealth, power, and abundance; an estate of mediocrity and commensurateness to our exigence and necessity is the freest of any condition in the world from perturbations and tempta­tions; a state and condition of want, and too narrow for our necessities, is an estate subject to some troubles and temptations: But of all conditions in the world, a re­dundant and over-plentiful condition is most subject to the most dangerous and pernicious temptations in the world: as namely, forgetfulness of God, self-depen­dence, pride, insolence, oppression, in­justice, unquietness of mind, excess, lu­xury, intemperance, contempt of others: and I have very often known those persons that have carried themselves steadily and commendably in a condition of mediocrity, nay have been able to bear with vict [...]ry the shocks of those temptations that arise from want and poverty, yet when in the late times they were advanced to wealth, power and command, were lost and could not bear the temptations that attended grandeur, wealth and power; and the Sun of wealth and prosperity quickly disrobed [Page 112]them of that mantle of innocence, piety and virtue, that they kept about them against the storms and assaults of wants and necessities. So that certainly it requires a greater vigilance, attention, industry and resolution, to oppose and conquer the temptations of grandeur, wealth, and power, than the temptations of want, necessity, and poverty: Some patience and humility will do much to subdue the latter; but he that will acquit himself from the temptations of the former, hath, and hath need of, great wisdom, moderation, sobriety, and a low esteem of the world, and especially, a great and practical exercise of the Fear of God, Faith in his promises, and a fixed hope and prospect of the pro­mises of immortality and glory, whereby they may overcome the slattering and de­ceiving world.

7. A state of externals proportionate to our necessities is a far more serene and safe estate in reference to others; than an estate of external grandeur, and wealth and power: And the reasons are, first, because the former hath nothing that others do covet or desire, but the latter hath gotten the golden Ball, that the generality of mankind are fond to have, and are restless till they have gotten (it [...] which makes [Page 113]the man's estate unquiet and unsafe, be­cause he hath many competitors for what he enjoys, which are continually endea­vouring to trip up his heels: just as we see when a Bird hath gotten a booty or prey, all other Birds of prey are fol­lowing and catching after it, and ever molesting him that hath it. Secondly, because he that enjoys much, either of ho­nour, or wealth, or power, is the object of the envy of other men, which is a busie, restless, pernicious humour, and ever picking quarrels and finding faults, and stu­dying and endeavouring the ruine of its object: Whereas a state of mediocrity, is a state of quietness, and free from the assaults and shafts of this pestilent companion.

8. We see that all worldly matters are by a kind of inbred and connatural ne­cessity subject to mutations and changes. When grandeur, and honour, and wealth are at their highest pitch, like the Sun in the Meridian, it stays not long there, but hath its declination. Now the changes that are incident to greatness and wealth, are always for the worst; they most com­monly take their wings and sly away, when they seem to be in their highest pitch of plenty and glory: And this creates in a man very great anxiety and restless fear, [Page 114]lest he should lose what he hath; and in­finite struglings and shistings to keep it when it is going; and extreme disappoint­ment, vexation and sorrow when it is gone. On the other side, a state of me­diocrity may have its changes too; and as it (is) seldom for the worse, so it is most ordinarily for the better; whereby the man hath great peace and tranquility. We need not have a better instance of both these conditions than in Jacob, the person in the Text: While he was in a state of mediocrity, and rather indeed, in a strait, than in an ample condition; when he had nothing but his Staff, and his sup­plies of Bread to eat, and Clothes to put on, he was in a state of great tranquility; and that change which befell that condition, was a change not for the worse, but for the better, at least in relation to externals, his supplies increased; but as soon as he once arrived at great wealth, under his Uncle Laban, though, it is true, the Di­vine Providence kept him from a total loss of it, yet he soon found that prosperous condition full of thorns and difficulties: 1. His Uncle and his Sons began to envy his wealth, and he began to be in great fears and jealousies lest he should be depri­ved of all. 2. Then to avoid that fear, [Page 115]he flyes, and his Uncle pursues him; and then he was under a new fear of loss of all he had got. 3. When that fear was over, then he fears that the rumor of his wealth, and the former displeasure of his Brother Esau might make him and all his wealth a prey to his Brother; and certainly, had not the immediate provi­dence of Almighty God strangely interpo­sed, he had not only selt the difficulties and unquietness of his great wealthy con­dition (which were profitable for his in­struction) but he had suffered a total de­privation of it, either by Laban, or Esau, or at least by the neighbours of the Shechemites, exasperated by the treachery and cruelty of his two Sons Simeon and Levi.

Upon these and many more Conside­rations, it is most evident, That a state of mediocrity in externals is to be prefer­red before an estate of much wealth, ho­nour, or grandeur; that of the two ex­tremes, poverty on the one side, or very great wealth and glory on the other; the latter is in truth more dangerous and dif­ficult than the former; but that Agur's Prayer, a state of mediocrity, neither po­verty nor riches, but food convenient for a man's coudition is the most desireable [Page 116]state in this life, and that which avoids the difticulty of both extremes.

I would willingly from these Conside­rations therefore learn to attain such a tem­per and disposition of Soul as might be safe and useful for me in relation to all these three Conditions of Life, which-soever of them the Divine Providence should send unto me.

1. In reference to a Mediocrity or such a state of externals, as might be suitable to the exigence and nature of my condition in this life: I should make such a state my choice, and not my trouble; I should with all thankfulness acknowledge both the goodness, and wisdom of Almighty God, in giving me so competent, and so safe a condition; that hath by his Provi­dence delivered me from the difficulties, and inconveniencies, and dangers, and temptations of both extremes, namely, great want, and great wealth: and I shall bear my lot, not only with great patience and quietness, but with great contentation and thankfulness.

2. In reference to an estate of Want or Indagence: If it should please the Divine Providence to appoint that condition to me, I should nevertheless comfort and support my self with such Considerations [Page 117]as these: 1. Though my condition be narrow and necessitous, yet it is that, which the great wise Lord of the great Family of the World, hath appointed to me; I will therefore bear it with patience and resignation. 2. Though it be an estate of indigence and narrowness, yet it is such as affords me and my Family life and sub­sistence, though not without much pains and difliculty: it might have been worse, and it may please;God to make it better, when he sees fit; I will therefore bear it with contentedness, as well as patience. 3. Though my state be very narrow and pinching, yet it is possibly much more safe, than an estate of grandeur and affluence: my account is the less; my temptations not so dangerous; my cares fewer; my lessons of dependence upon God, of hu­mility and lowliness of mind, of tempe­rance and sobriety, of contempt of the World, of valuation of Eternity and pro­vision for it, are better learned in this ex­treme than in the other: I shall therefore endeavour to improve the opportunities, even of this hard condition, and bear it not only with contentedness, but thank­fulness.

3. In reference to an estate of Redundance and Affluence of externals, an estate of [Page 118]wealth and plenty, of honour and gran­deur, of power and authority and prehe­minence; I will consider, 1. That this is an estate full of temptations, and tempta­tions of the greatest size and the most dan­gerous nature; as, pride and insolence, forgetfulness of God, luxury, intemperance, carnal confidence and security, contempt of others, and infinite more; and if any of these get the advantage, they will do me more mischief, than all my wealth will do me good. 2. Therefore I will learn and exercise very great vigilance and at­tention, that I be not cheated into these temptations. 3. I will take a true estimate of the World, and of all these goodly ap­pearances that I am attended with from it; and I will not take my measure and estimate of them by common opinion of the world, or by their splendid outside, but I will look more strictly into them, and find whether they are not incertain, deceiving things; what stability there is in them; what good they will do me after death; what quietness or tranquility of mind they will give me, or rather take from me; whether they have in themselves any real influence to make me better or wiser. 4. Upon these Considerations (if) I find, as find I shall, that they have not that real [Page 119]worth in them that the vain World ima­gins, I will not set my Heart upon them, nor lay any confidence upon them, nor lay out much of my love unto them, or any great esteem for them. 5. I will set my Heart to a true and serious consideration of those durable riches and glory and ho­nour that our dear Lord hath provided for us in the life to come; and that eternal weight of glory will infinitely out-weigh all the wealth, and honour, and glory that I do or can enjoy in this World. 6. And upon this consideration also I will rectifie my judgment concerning this World, and the greatest glory of it; and thereby ha­bituate my self to a low esteem of the wealth I have, or can have, and set up my hopes and treasure in more noble and du­rable enjoyments. 7. I will consider I am but a Steward when all is done, and the greater my wealth or honour is, the greater my account must be, and the more diffi­cult to keep them fair. 8. That in as much I am but a Steward, I will be very careful, that my management of my trust may be such as will bear my Lord's scru­tiny. I will not employ my stock of wealth or honour to the dishonour of my Lord, in riot or excess, in vanity or op­pression; but will do as much good with [Page 120]it as I can, according to the trust com­mitted to me, that I may give a just and fair and comfortable account of my Ste­wardship when my Lord and Master calls for it. 9. That in as much as those very externals are in themselves blessings, if well employed, though not the blessings of the greatest magnitude; I will with all humility and thankfulness acknowledge the Divine Bounty to me, in trusting me with Abundance, and will employ it to his Honour.

Seneca Thyest. Act. 2.

STet quicunque volet potens
Auloe culmine lubrico:
Me dulcis saturet quies,
Obscuro positus loco,
Leni perfruar otio,
Nullis nota Quiritibus
Altas per tacitum fluat.
Sic cum transierint met
Nullo cum strepitu dies,
Plebeius moriar senex.
Illi mors gravis incubat,
Qui notus nimis omnibus,
Ignotus moritur sibi.
LEt him that will, ascend the tottering Seat
Of courtly Grandeur, and become as great
As are his mountain Wishes; as for me,
Let sweet Repose, and Rest my portion be;
Give me some mean obscure Recess, a Sphere
Out of the road of Business, or the fear
Of Falling lower, where I sweetly may
My Self, and dear Retirement still enjoy.
Let not my Life, or Name, be known unto
The Grandees of the Times, tost to and fro
By Censures, or Applause; but let my Age
Slide gently by, not overthwart the Stage
Of Publick Interest; unheard, unseen,
And unconcern'd, as if I ne're had been.
And thus while I shall pass my silent days
In shady Privacy, free from the Noise
And busles of the World, then shall I
A good old Innocent Plebeian dy.
Death is a mere Surprize, a very Snare,
To him that makes it his lifes greatest care
To be a publick Pageant, known to All,
But unacquainted with Himself, doth fall.


PHIL. IV. II.‘For I have learned in Whatsoever estate I am therewith to be content.’

THere are Three excellent Virtues which especially refer to our condition in this life, and much conduce to our safe and Com­fortable passage through them.

  • 1. Equality of Mind, or AEquanimity.
  • 2. Patience.
  • 3. Contentedness.

1. Equality of Mind or Equanimity, is that virtue which refers both to prosperity and adversity, whereby in all conditions of that kind we carry an even and equal temper, neither over-much lifted up by prosperity, nor over-much depressed in adversity.

2. Patience properly refers to crosses, disappointment, afflictions, and adversity, whereby we carry a quiet and submissive mind, without murmuring, passion, or discomposure of spirit, in all afflictions, whether sickness, loss of friends, poverty, reproach, disgrace, or the like.

3. Contentation; which differs from equa­lity of mind, because that respects as well prosperity as adversity, this only adversity; and in some respects differs also from Pa­tience (though this always accompanies it) 1. In the extent of the object, for patience respects all kinds of affliction; contentedness, in propriety of speech, re­spects principally the affliction of want or poverty. 2. In the act it self, for patience, in propriety of speech, implyes only a quiet composed toleration of the evils of adversity, but contentedness imports some­what more, namely, not only a quietness of mind, but a kind of cheerful, free sub­mission to our present condition of adver­sity, a ready compliance with the Divine [Page 125]Providence, and, in effect, a choice of that state wherein the Divine Dispensation placeth us, as well as in bearing it.

These, though they may in strictness give a distinction between Patience and Contentation, yet we must observe that Contentation is never without Patience, though it be something more: and that in the common acceptation and latitude of the word, Contentation doth not only extend to the condition or affliction of po­verty, but even to all other outward affli­ctions reached to us by the inflicting or permitting hand of Divine Providence: and in this large acceptation I shall here apply and use it.

Content therefore, in its large acce­ptation, is not only a quiet and patient, but also a free and cheerful closing with that estate and condition of life, which the Divine Dispensation shall allott unto us, whether mean, or poor, or laborious, and painful, or obscure, or necessitous, or sickly, or unhealthy, or without friends, or with loss or absence of friends, or un­kindness of friends, or any other state that seems ungrateful to our natures or dispo­sition. For we need not apply this virtue to a state of high prosperity in all things, wherein (though men are not ordinarily [Page 126]contented) yet they have but small tempta­tions to discontent from the estate it self wherein they so are.

This lesson of Contentation was learnt by this Apostle, which imports these things: 1. That it is a lesson that is possible to be learned, for the Apostle had learned it. 2. That it is a lesson that requires some­thing of industry and pains to acquire it, for he learned it before he attained it. 3. That it is a lesson that deserves the learning, for he speaks of it as of a thing of moment and great use, well worth the pains he took to attain it. And the truth is, it is of so great importance to be learned, that without it we want the com­fort of our lives, and with it all conditions of life are not only tolerable but comfort­able. And hence it is that this excellent Apostle doth very often inculcate and press and commend this lesson in many of his Epistles. 1 Tim. 6.6. Godliness with content­ment is great gain. Heb. 13.5. Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will not leave thee nor forsake thee. Again, 1 Tim. 6.8. And having food and rayment let us be therewith content.

I shall therefore set down those Reasons that may perswade and encourage us to [Page 127]contentation with our condition, and like­wise to patience under it; for patience and contentation cannot be well severed. And the Reasons are of two sorts; 1. Moral, 2. Divine and Evangelical. Neither shall I decline the use of Moral Reasons, consi­dering how far by the help of these many Heathens (that had not the true know­ledge of God revealed in his Word and Son) advanced in the practice of these virtues. The Moral Reasons therefore are these:

  • 1. Very many of the external evils we suffer are of our own choice and procurement, the fruits of our own follies and inadver­tence and averseness to good counsel: And why should we be discontented, or impatient under those evils which we our selves have chosen, or repine because these trees bear their natural fruit?
  • 2. The greatest part of evils we suffer are of that nature and kind, that are not in our power either to prevent or help: Some come from the very condition of our nature, as sicknesses, death of friends; and of absolute necessity, the more relations any man hath, the more evils of this kind we may suffer: And can we reasonably expect that the very natures of things should be changed to please our humour? [Page 128]Again, some come from the hands of men that it may be are powerful, more subtil and malicious: Why should we discontent our selves or be impatient because others are too strong for us? Others again come by occurtences natural (though disposed by the hand of the Divine Providence) as losses by storms and tempests, by unsea­sonable weather, by intemperateness of the air or meteors. Can we reasonably expect that the great God of Heaven and Earth should alter his setled Laws of Na­ture for the convenience of every such little Worm as you or I am? It may be that storm or intemperate season that may do you or me some prejudice, may do others as many and as good, or it may be more and better, a benefit: that wind that strikes my Ship against the Rock, may fetch off two or more from the Sands. Let us be con­tent therefore to suffer Almighty God to govern the World according to his wisdom and not our will, though it may be a par­ticular detriment to you or to me: or if we repine against it, we must not think thereby to obtain our own wills.
  • 3. The texture and frame of the World is such, that it is absolutely necessary that, if some be rich and powerful, or great, or honorable, others must be poor, and subject, [Page 129]and ignoble: If all were equally powerful, there would be no power nor government, because all would be equal; if all were equally rich, it would be but only nomi­nally, indeed none would be rich, but all would be poor, there could be no Artifi­cers, no Labourers, no Servants. Since therefore it is of necessity, in the order of the World, that some must be poor, or less rich or powerful than others, why should I be so unreasonable, or unjust, to desire that lot of poverty or lowness of condition should be another's and not mine? Or, why should not I be contented to be of the lower fort of men, since the order of the World requires that such some must be?
  • 4. Let any man observe it whiles he will, he shall find that whatsoever of worldly advantages any man doth most plentifully enjoy, and most men most greedily desire, of necessity he must thereby have more crosses and afflictions. A man desires many Children, Friends, Relations; the more he hath of these, the more mortal dying comforts he hath; the more he hath that must be sick, and suffer affliction, and dye: and every one of these afflictions or losses in a man's Relations, are so many renewed afflictions, and crosses, and troubles to him­self. [Page 130]A man desires wealth, and hath it; the more cares and fears he hath; and the more he hath the more he hath to lose, and of necessity he must have more losses the more he hath: as he that hath a thou­sand Sheep must in probability lose more in a year than he that hath but forty: And besides, Wealth is the common mark that every man shoots at, and every man will be pulling somewhat from him that hath much, because every man thinks he hath enough for others as well as himself. A man desires honour, power, grandeur, and he hath it: but every man envies him, and is ready to unhorse him, and a small neglect, reproach or misfortune sits closer to such a man, than to a meaner man; and the more of honour or power he hath, the more of such breaches he shall be sure to meet with. A man desires long life, and accordingly enjoyes it: but in the tract of long life a man is sure to meet with more sicknesses, more crosses, more loss of friends and relations, and over-lives the greatest part of his external comforts, and in Old age becomes his own burthen.
  • 5. If a man desire much wealth or power, and enjoyes it, yet it is certain so much the more thereof he hath, so much the less others have; for he hath that which [Page 131]might otherwise be divided among many. Why therefore should a man desire it, or discontent himself, if he have it not, since what he thus enjoys is with another's de­triment and loss, who would have a share in it, if he had it not alone? And why should I covet that, or be discontented if I have it not, since if I have it, I shall pro­cure the like discontent in others.
  • 6. It is certain in the course of the World, there are and must be a greater number of crosses and troubles, and of greater mo­ment than there are of External Comforts, nay there is searce any comfort that any man hath, but like Jonah's Gourd, it hath a Worm growing at the root of it, which doth not only wither the comfort it self, but most times creates greater trouble and sorrow, than the comfort it self hath good if entirely enjoyed. A man hath many Children, it may be they are all very good and hopeful, yet they are mortal, and if they dye, the death of such a Child is so much the more grievous, by how much the more good and towardly he was. But if any of them prove vicious, foolish or naught, by how much a Child is nearer than a stranger, by so much the more his vices give trouble, sorrow, and care to his Parent: So that in all worldly things, the [Page 132]stock of troubles is greater three to one, than that of comforts; so true is that of Job, A man is born to troubles as the sparks fly upwards. Why therefore should a man sink into discontent, because the World doth but solitum obtinere, and follows its own natural complexion and state.
  • 7. We are generally greatly mistaken in the nature of Good and Evil, and have not the true measures of it. That is truly relatively Good which makes a man the better, and that truly Evil in its relative nature, which makes a man the worse. If prosperity and success make me thankful, watchful, cha­ritable, benificent, then is prosperity good to me, for it makes me better; but if it make me proud, haughty, insolent, domi­neering, vain-glorious, it is evil to me. If adversity make me clamorous, murmu­ring, envious, spightful, injurious, then 'tis evil to me; but if it makes me humble, sober, patient, then 'tis good to me. And let any man impartially take the measure of the very same man or divers men in each condition, he shall find ten to one receive more mischief by prosperity than by adver­sity. Why should I then not content my self with that condition which is more sase to me, and makes me the better man, though not, the richer or greater.
  • [Page 133]8. Which is but a farther explication of what is said next before. It is certain that a good man is like the Elixir, it turns Iron into Gold, and makes the most sowre condition of life not only tollera­ble, but useful and convenient. If I be such, I mould and frame my worst con­dition into a condition of comfort and contentment by my patience and conten­tation. Why should I then be discontented with my condition, since by the grace of God I am able to make it what I please? If I can content my self with the good temper and disposition of my own Heart and Soul, I have no reason to be discon­tented with my condition, for if I find it not good I can make it such by the equa­lity, patience, and temper of my own mind: And that the mind is the principal matter in contentation or discontent, we need no other instance than that of Ahab and Ha­man; the one a great King, the other a great Favourite of a mighty Monarch, full of wealth and honour; yet a covetous mind in one and a proud mind in the other, made the former sick for a little spot of ground, and the latter grow to so high a degree of discontent for want of the knee of a poor Jew, that it withered all his enjoyments. 1 King. 21.5. Hest. 5.13.
  • [Page 134]9. Discontent and Impatience galls a thou­sand times more than the cross or affliction doth. We owe more of the evil of crosses, troubles, and afflictions, to the unquiet, restless, impatient, distemper of our mind, than to them. We are like men in a Feaver, that infinitely increase their heat by their tossing and tumbling more than if they lay still, and then they complain of the un­casiness of their Bed: Like the Prophet's wild Bull in a Net we intangle and tyre our selves worse with our strugling than if we were more patient and still; or like the Ship, it is not broken by the Rock, but by its own violent motion against it. Why then should I discontent and disquiet my self with my condition, when I make it and my self thereby worse and more uneasy?
  • 10. As my discontentedness and unquiet­ness renders my condition the more uneasy, so it no way conduceth to my rescue from it: For since I cannot be so brutish as to think that the occurrences which befall men are without a Divine Conduct, so it is certain that all his Dispensations are wise and directed to a wise end; and even affli­ctions themselves have their errand and business, to make men more humble, watch­ful and considerate. If I correct my Child [Page 135]for his fault, and he continue still more stubborn, I shall correct him longer till he return to his submissiveness and duty. Why then should I discontent my self, and be impatient under my affliction, when it is not only vain and fruitless thereby to ex­pect deliverance, but in all probability the likelyest way to keep me still under it.
  • 11. As thus my condition is not amen­ded, but made the worse, more severe, and lasting by my impatience and discon­tent, so Patience and Contentation will give me these great advantages: 1. In all pro­bability it will shorten my affliction, be­cause it hath obtained its effect and end, and the message it brings is duly an­swered. 2. But howsoever it will make in infinitely more easy, the less I struggle under it. 3. And, which is the best of all, it gives me the possession of my own Soul, internal peace and tranquility of mind, a kind and comfortable serenity of spirit. I remain Master of my passions, of my intellectuals, of my self, and am not transported into another thing, than what becomes a reasonable man: though there be storms and tempests and rolling seas without me, yet all is calm and quiet within. Contentation and patience ren­ders my outward condition of little con­cernment [Page 136]to me, so long as it gives me the opportunity to possess and enjoy me self, my virtue and goodness, and the attestation of a good Conscience.
  • 12. Though I want somewhat that others have, yet 'tis ten to one that I have somewhat that many as good, if not better, want. It may be I want wealth, yet I have health; it may be I want health, yet I have Children, that others want. I will learn contentment. by considering others wants and my enjoyments, and not learn discontent from others enjoyments and my own wants.

These be the Moral Considerations, and truly they be of great weight, moment, and use, and, as I said, carried the Hea­then a great way in the virtues of Con­tentation and Patience: But yet they often­times failed, and were too weak to compose the mind under a storm of crosses, losses, and afflictions; and therefore Almighty God hath furnished us with a more excel­lent way, which lets me into the Second Consideration, namely, the Divine and Evangelical Helps to Patience and Conten­tation: Their number will not be so many as the former, but their weight and effi­cacy greater, and they are such as these:

  • 1. The worst I here suffer is less than [Page 137] I deserve, and the least that I enjoy is more than I can in justice expect; it is but gift and bounty: I have therefore rea­son to be content and thankful for the least merey, and to be patient and quiet under my greatest evil.
  • 2. There is no affliction, cross, or con­dition of life, but is reached out to us from the Hand or Permission of the most glorious Sovereign of all the World, to whom we owe an infinite subjection, because we have our being from him: And therefore it is but just and reasonable for us to content our selves with what he is pleased thus to inflict: and the greatest cross or affliction of this life, is not answerable to his bounty and goodness in giving us being.
  • 3. He is not only the absolute Sovereign of us, and all the World, but he is the most Just and wise Governour of it, and all men, and all the dispensations of his go­vernment are directed to most just, wise, and excellent ends: And therefore we have all imaginable reason, not only patiently to submit, but cheerfully and contentedly to bear any condition that he dispenseth, and, with an implicit faith, to resign our wills to his, as being assured it is infi­nitely more wise and just than ours. Some­times they are the acts of his Justice to [Page 138]punish us for some past offence; but always the acts of his Wisdom, either to try us, to reclaim us, to prevent us from worse evils; or to amend us, to make us more humble, watchful, dutiful, circumspect; to draw us off from too much resting on the World; to make us bethink our selves of our duty, and returning to him by re­pentance, faith and obedience.
  • 4. He is not only a Wise and Just Go­vernour, but a most Merciful and tender Father, and one that out of very faithful­ness, love, and goodness corrects us, as a Father doth his Son he entirely loveth: and upon this account we may rest assured, 1. That he never afflicts, or sends, or per­mits any cross to fall upon us, but it is for our everlasting, and many times for our temporal, good: 2. That no cross or af­fliction shall lye longer or heavier upon us, than is conducible to our good: 3. That he doth, and will always, send along his Staff with his Rod, his Grace with his Affliction, to tutor and instruct us, to sup­port and comfort us; and if we find not this support in our greatest affliction, it is not because it is wanting to us, but because we are wanting to it, to lay hold upon it, and improve it.
  • 5. For our farther assurance of his love [Page 139]to us and care of us, we have the word of the great Monarch of the World, the Mighty, Faithful, and All-sufficient God. I will not leave thee nor forsake thee. Heb. 13.5.
  • 6. He hath given us the greatest pledge of his love and goodness, that the most doubting or craving Heart in the World could ever desire; his Son to be our Sacri­fice: And how shall he not with Him give us all things needful, useful and benefi­cial? Rom. 8.32.

This Son of his he made the Captain of our Salvation, and yet he made him a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, Isa. 53.3. and made perfect by sufferings, Heb. 2.9, 10. And this Son of God did bear, not only with patience, but with resignation, and contentation of mind: Matth. 26.39. Not as I will, but as thou wilt: Lu. 12.50. I have a baptism to be baptized withal, and how am I straitned till it be ac­complished? and when all was done, Jesus, that was made a little lower than the An­gels, for the suffering of death, was crowned with glory and honour; That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sens to glory, to make the captain of their sal­vation [Page 140]perfect through sufferings. Heb. 2.9. and this was done (besides that Expiatory Sacrifice thereby made for us) for these admirable Ends: 1. That we might see be­fore us, the ordinary method of the Divine Dispensation, his own Eternal Son, that knew no sin, yet was made a man of for­rows: and then why should we, poor sinful men, expect to be exempted and privi­ledge more than the Eternal Son, in whom God from Heaven proclaimed him­self well pleased? 2. That we might have an Example before us: He, that is made the Captain of our Salvation, was like­wise to be the common pattern and image, whereunto all his disciples and followers are to be conformed, both passively and actively: he was exhibited as the First-born among many Brethren; the common image according to which, all his disciples and followers should be conformed. Rom. 8.29. As he was made perfect by sufferings, so must we; and as he through a vail of Suf­ferings passed into Glory, so must we; that if we suffer with him, we may be glorified with him: He was exhibited, as the com­mon standard and pattern of a Christian's condition, in the lowest estate that can befall him in this life: and surely we have reason to be contented to be conformed, [Page 141]and subject to the condition of the Captain of our Salvation. 3. That as he was thus exhibited as a passive example of our con­formity, so he became an active example for our imitation; full of quietness, com­posedness, submission, patience, and con­tentation, to give us an example, 1 Pet. 2. 21. and to imprint upon us the same temper and frame of mind, Phil. 2.6. that whiles we behold his example, we may, by a secret sympathy, be transformed, as it were, into the same mould and image. 4. That we might have this great pledge and assurance, that he who once lived in this world, and had experience of the difficulties and troubles of it, and is now translated to the right hand of the glorious Majesty of God, and hath the prospect of all our wants, and needs, and sorrows, and troubles, and sufferings, and of the degrees of strength we have to bear it, and hath the plenitude of power to support, to strengthen and deliver us; I say, that we may be assured, that he is a merciful and faithful High Priest, sensible, and compassionate of our condition; Heb. 2. 18. for in that he himself suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Thus it hath pleased the goodness of [Page 142]Almighty God, (who knows our frame and considers that we are but dust) to use as much indulgence and compliance, as is possible for a most tender Father to his weak and froward Children: That since he knows, affliction and crosses are as necessary for us as the very best of all our blessings, yet he gives us all the helps and supplies that are imaginable, with the greatest suitableness to our nature, to make them easie, supportable, and profitable; and to bear us up to bear them, with the greatest patience and contentation. We cannot be without them, for then we are very apt to grow proud and secure, self-conceited, insolent, to set our rest, and be building of Tabernacles here, to dread and fear death beyond all measure and order, and to be utterly unprovided for it, to be desirous to take our portion in this life, and to make our Heaven on this side death; as the two Tribes desired their lot on this side Jordan, because they found it convenient. (Num. 32.) And though we cannot well be without them, yet we frand in need of daily helps to bear them patiently, contentedly, and and profitably; and we are accordingly, by the Divine Goodness, furnished with helps suitable to our condition and frame.

As all the afflictions, crosses, and troubles [Page 143]of this life, are managed by the wise Pro­vidence and Government of the most wise and merciful God, and have their voice, errand, and message from him to us, (Hear the Rod and him that hath appointed it:) So, he hath given us the inestimable Jewel of his Word, to expound and unriddle what he means by them, and to instruct us how to carry our selves under them; how to improve them all for our spiritual and everlasting good; how with patience and cheerfulness to undergo them; how to be drawn the nearer to God by them. And to this end he hath given us most divine and wise counsels touching them; great assurance of his love, goodnrss, and the light of his countenance, to carry and con­duct us with comfort and dependance upon him in them; and hath given us admi­rable Examples, which are as so many Commentaries and Expositions upon them, and to shew us what he means and intends in them and by them: As the examples of the Jewish Church and People; the examples of his best Saints and Servants, and their sufferings, and the reasons of them, and their deportment under them, and wherein they failed, and wherein they benefited by them; as Abraham, Job, Mo­ses, David, Hezekiah, Josiah, and all the [Page 144]Apostles and Primitive Christians: in whom we may with great clearness and satisfa­ction observe how much advantage they got by their afflictions; what losses they we are at by their peevishness, frowardness and discontent with their afflicted con­ditions; what comfort, satisfaction, and benefit they attained by their patience, quietness, equality of mind, voluntary sub­mission to the Divine Providence, and contentation with their estates, though never so troublesom and uneasie.

But above, all the bountiful God hath brought Life and Immortality to light through the Gospel: He hath given us the clearest conviction imaginable that this world, and our life in it, is not our prin­cipal End and Scope, but the place of our Pilgrimage, at best our Inn, not our home; our place of tryal and preparation for a better state: He hath shewed us that it is but our passage, and such a passage as must and shall be accompanied with afflictions, and, it may be, with persecution by evil men, evil Angels, evil occurrences: that it is the place of our warsare; a troublesom and tumultuous stormy Sea, through which we must pass before we come to our Ha­ven: that our Countrey, our home, our place of rest and [...]ppiness, lies on the [Page 145]other side of death, where there shall be no sorrow, nor trouble, nor fears, nor dangers, nor afflictions, nor tears, but a place of eternal and unchangeable comfort, fulness of most pure and uninterrupted pleasures, and that for evermore: that through many tribulations and afflictions we must enter into that Kingdom, as his ancient People entred into their Canaan through a red Sea, a tiresom and barren Wilderness, firey Serpents, wants, ene­mies, and unintermitted dangers and dif­ficulties: that our light afflictions, which are here but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Our afflictions and incoveniences in this world, 1. are light in comparison of that exceeding, far more exceeding weight of glory: 2. As they are but light, so being compared with that eternal weight of glory, they are but for a moment: The longest life we here live is not ordinarily above threescore and ten years, and though the more troublesom and uneasie that life is, the longer it seems, yet compared with the infinite abyss of Eternity, it is but a moment, yea less than a moment, if less can be, yet such is the longest stay in this life if compared with Eternity.

And the gracious God hath presented [Page 146]this greatest, and most important truth to us, with the greatest evidence and assu­rance that the most desponding and su­spitious Soul can desire. 1. He hath given his own Word of Truth to assure us of it. 2. He hath given his own Son, to seal it unto us, by the most powerful and con­vincing evidence imaginable; by his mis­sion from Heaven on purpose to tell us it; by his Miracles; by attestations from Hea­ven, by the laying down his own Life in witness of it; by his Resurrection and Ascention; by the miraculous Mission of his Holy Spirit visibly and audibly. Again, 3. He hath confirmed it to us, by the Do­ctrine and Miracles of his Apostles; by their Death and Martyrdom; as a Witness of the Truth they taught; by the nume­rous Converts, and Primitive Christians, and godly Martyrs, who all lived and dyed in this Faith, and for it; who made it their choice rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, declaring plainly that they sought a better City and Countrey, that is, a heavenly, Heb. 11.15, 25. and this Countrey, and this City they had in their Eye, even whiles they lived in this troublesom world: And this prospect, this hope, and expectation, rendred this lower [Page 147]world of no great value to them, the plea­sures thereof they esteemed but low and little, and the troubles and uneasiness thereof they did undergo patiently, cheer­fully, and contentedly; for they looked be­yond them, and placed their hopes, their treasure, their comfort above them: And even whiles they were in this life, yet they did, by their faith and hope, antici­pate their own happiness, and enjoyed by faith, even before they actually possessed it, by fruition; for Faith is the substance of things hoped for, Heb. 11. and makes those things present by the firmness of a sound perswasion, which are in themselves future and to come.

And this is that, which will have the same effect with us, if we live and believe as they did; and be but firmly, and soundly perswaded of the truth of the Gospel, thus admirably confirmed unto us. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Heb. 10.38. The just shall live by faith. 2 Cor. 5.7. We live by faith, and not by sight; and excellent is that passage to this purpose, 2 Cor. 4.16, 17, 18. For which cause we faint not, but though our out­ward man perish, yet our inward man is re­newed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a [Page 148]far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen, are temporal, but the things which are not seen, are eternal.

And therefore if we do but seriously be­lieve the truth of the Gospel, the truth of the life to come, the best external things of this world will seem but of small mo­ment to take up the choicest of our desires or hopes, and the worst things this world can inflict will appear too light to provoke us to impatience or discontent. He that hath but Heaven and everlasting glory in prospect and a firm expectation, will have a mind full of contentation in the midst of the lowest and darkest condition here on Earth. Impatience and discontent never can stay long with us, if we awake our minds, and summon up our faith and hope in that life and happiness to come. Sudden passions of impatience and discontent, may like clouds arise and trouble us for a while, but this faith, and this hope rooted in the Heart, if stirred up, will, like the Sun, scatter and dispell them, and cause the light of patience, contentation, and comfort to thine through them.

And as we have this hope of immor­tality and blessedness set before us, so the [Page 149]means and way to attain it is easie and open to all; no person is excluded from it, that wilfully excludes not himself. Isa. 51.1. Ho every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money come ye, buy and eat without money and without price. Rev. 22.17. Whosoever will, let him take of the waters of life freely. Matth. 11.28. Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. The way to everlasting happiness, and consequently to contentation here, is laid open to all. It was the great reason why God made man­kind, to communicate everlasting happiness to them; and when they wilfully threw away that happiness, it was the end why he sent his Son into the world, to restore mankind unto it. And as the way is open to all, so it is easie to all; his yoak is easie and his burthen light. The terms of at­taining happiness, if sincerely endeavoured, are easie to be performed, by virtue of that grace, that God Almighry affords to all men, that do not wilfully reject it: name­ly, to believe the truth of the Gospel, so admirably confirmed, and sincerely to en­deavour to obey the precepts thereof, which are both just and reasonable, highly con­ducing to our contentation in this life, and consummating our happiness in the life to [Page 150]come: And for our encouragement in this obedience, we are sure to have, if we desire it, the special grace of the Blessed Spirit to assist us, and a merciful Father to accept of our sincerity, and a gracious Saviour to pardon our failings and defi­ciencies. So that the way to attain con­tentation in this life, and happiness in the life to come, as it is plain and certain, so it is open and free, none is excluded from it, but it is free and open to all, that are but willing to use this means to attain it.

And I shall wind up all this long Dis­course touching Contentation with this plain and ordinary Instance. I have be­fore said that our home, our Countrey is Heaven and Everlasting Happiness, where there are no sorrows, nor fears, nor troubles; that this World is the place of our travel, and pilgrimage, and at the best our Inn: Now when I am in my journey, I meet with several inconveniencies; it may be the way is bad and foul, the weather tem­pestuous or stormy; it may be I meet with some rough companions, that either turn me out of my way, or all dash and dirt me in it, yet I content my self, for all will be mended when I come home: but if I chance to lodge at my Inn, there it may be I meet with bad entertainment, the Inn is [Page 151]full of guests, and I am thrust into an in­convenient lodging, or ill diet, yet I con­tent my self, and consider it is no better than what I have reason to expect, it is but according to the common condition of things in that place; neither am I solici­tous to furnish my lodging with better accommodations, for I must not expect to make long stay there, it is but my Inn, my place of repose for a night, and not my home; and therefore I content my self with it as I find it; all will be amended when I come home. In the same manner it is with this world; perchance I meet with an ill and uncomfortable passage through it, I have a sickly Body, a narrow Estate, meet with affronts and disgraces, lose my friends, companions and relations, my best entertainment in it is but troublesom and uneasie: But yet I do content my self; I consider it is but my pilgrimage, my pas­sage, my Inn; it is not my countrey, nor the place of my rest: this kind of usage or condition is but according to the law and custom of the place, it will be amended when I come home, for in my Father's house there are Mansions; many Mansions instead of my Inn, and my Saviour himself hath not disdained to be my Harbinger; he is gone thither before me, and gone to prepare [Page 152]a place for me, I will therefore quiet and content my self, with the inconveniencies of my short journey, for my accommoda­tions will be admirable when I come to my home, that heavenly Jerusalem, which is the place of my rest and happiness.

But yet we must withall remember, that though Heaven is our home, the place of our rest and happiness, yet this World is a place for our duty and employ­ment, and we must use all honest and law­ful means to preserve our lives and our comforts by our honest care and diligence. As it is our duty to wait the time till our Lord and Master calls, so it is part of our task in this world given us by the great Master of the Family of Heaven and Earth, to be employed for the temporal good of our selves and others. It is indeed our principal business to fit our selves for our everlasting home, and to think of it, but it is a part of our duty and an act of obe­dience, whiles we are here, to employ our selves with honesty and diligence in our temporal employments: Though we are not to set our hearts upon the convenien­cies of this life, yet we are not to reject them, but to use them thankfully and so­berly, for they are blessings that deserve our gratitude, though they ought not [Page 153]entirely to take up our hearts. Again, though crosses and afflictions must be the exercise of our patience, we must not wil­fully choose them, nor run into them. Let God be still the Master of his own Dispensation, for he is wise, and knows what is fit for us, when we know not what is so fit for our selves. When he sends them, or permits them, our duty is patience and contentation, but com­monly our own choice is headstrong and foolish.

It was the errour of many new Con­verts to Christianity, that they thought, that when Heaven and heavenly-minded­ness was pressed, that presently they must cast off all care of the World, desert their callings, and busily and unnecessarily thrust themselves into dangers, that so they might be quit of all worldly cares and bu­siness, and of life it self. This the Apo­stles frequently reprove, and shew the er­rour of it, and that justly: For the truth of it is, our continuance in this life, and in our honest employments and callings, our thankful use of external blessings here, and our honest endeavours for them; the endeavour to do good in our places, so long as we continue in them; our prudent prevention of external evils, are part of [Page 154]that obedience we owe to our Maker, and part of that exercise or task that is given us by him to perform in this life, and our cheerful, faithful, diligent conversation herein, is so far from being incompatible to Christianity, that it is a part of our Chri­stian duty, and of that service we owe to our Maker; and it is indeed the exercise of our patience, and the evidence of a contented mind. For whosoever presently grows so weary of the World, that pre­sently, with froward Jonah, he wisheth to dye, or throws off all, it is a sign of want of that contentation that is here commended: because true Contentation consists in a cheerful and ready compliance with the will of God, and not in a fro­ward preference of our own will or choice. It was part of our Saviour's excellent prayer for his Disciples, Joh. 17.15. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

The business therefore of these Papers is to let you see, what are the Helps to attain Patience and Contentation in this World, that our passage through it may be safe and comfortable, and agreeable to the will of God, and to remedy that im­patience and discontent which is ordinarily [Page 155]sound among men: To teach men how to amend their lives, instead of being weary of them; and to make the worst conditions in the World easie and comfor­table, by making the mind quiet, patient and thankful. For 'tis the discontented and impatient mind that truly makes the World much more uneasie than it is in it self.


1. COR. 11.2.‘For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.’

AS the Understanding is the highest faculty of the reasonable crea­ture, because upon it depends the regularity of the motions or actings of the will and affections; so Know­ledge is the properest and noblest act or habit of that faculty, and without which it is without its proper end and employ­ment, and the whole man without a due guidance and direction. Hos. 4.6. My people perish for want of Knowledge.

And as knowledge is the proper business of that great faculty, so the Value of that Knowledge, or employment of the under­standing, is diversified according to the subject about which it is exercised: For though all knowledge, of the most dif­fering subjects, agree in this one common excellence, viz. the right representation of of the thing as it is, unto the understand­ing; or the conformity of the image crea­ted in the understanding, unto the thing objectively united to it, which is truth in the understanding: Yet it must needs be that according to the various values and de­grees of the things to be known, there ariseth a diversity of the value or worth of that knowledge; that [which] is of a thing more noble, usesul, precious, must needs be a more noble, useful, precious Know­ledge, and accordingly more to be de­sired.

There have been doubtless many excel­lent understandings that have been conver­sant about an exact disquisition of some particular truths, which though as truths they agree in a common value with all others, yet in respect of their nature, use and value, are of no great moment, whe­ther known or not: As concerning the precise time of this or that passage in such [Page 159]a prophane History, the criticism of this or that Latin word, and the like: which though by accident, and by way of con­comitance, they may be of considerable use, when mixed with, or relating to, some other matter of moment; yet in themselves have little value, because little use. Others have spent their thoughts in acquiring of the knowledge in some special piece of Nature; the fabrick of the Eye; the pro­gression of generation in an Egg; the re­lation and proportion of Numbers, Weights, Lines; the generation of Metals: and these as they have a relative consideration to discover and set forth the wisdom of the great Creator, or to publick use, have great worth in them; but in themselves, though they have this excellence of truth in them, and consequently in their kind feed and give a delight to the under­standing, which is a power that is natu­rally ordained unto, and greedy of, and delighted in truth, though of a low or inferiour constitution, yet they are not of that eminence and worth as truths of some other, either higher, or more useful, or durable nature.

As once our Saviour, in relation of things to be done, pronounced One thing only necessary, Luk. 10.42. so the Apostle, [Page 160]among the many things that are to be [known,] fixeth in the same One thing necessary to be known, Christ Jesus and him Crucified.

There are three steps.

1. Not to know any thing. Not as if all other knowledge were condemned: Moses learning was not charged upon him as a sin; Paul's secular learning was not con­demned, but useful to him; to be knowing in our calling, in the qualities and dispo­sitions of persons, in the Laws under which we live, in the modest and sober inquiries of Nature and Arts, are not only not con­demned, but commended, and useful, and such as tend to the setting forth the glory of the God of Wisdom. Even the dis­cretion of the Husbandman God owns as his, Isa. 28.26. for his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him. But we must determine to know nothing in comparison of that other knowledge of Christ Jesus, as the Apostle counted what things were gain, yet to be loss for Christ, Phil. 4.7. so we are to esteem that knowledge of other things otherwise excellent, useful, admirable, yet to be but folly and vile in comparison of the knowledge of Christ. And this requires:

1. A true and right Estimate of the Value [Page 161]of the Knowledge of Christ Jesus above other knowledge, and consequently an infinite preferring thereof before all other know­ledge in our judgments, desire, and delight; and the preponderation of the knowledge of Christ above other knowledges excells most knowledge in all the ensuing parti­culars, but excells all knowledge in some, and those of most concernment:

1. In the Certainty of it. Most other knowledge [are] either such as we take in by our Sense and Experience; and therein, though it is true, that the gross part of our knowledge, that is nearest to our sense, hath somewhat of certainty in it, yet when we come to sublimate, and collect, and infer that knowledge into universal or general conclusions, or to make dedu­ctions, ratiocinations, and determinations from them, then we fail, and hence grew the difference between many Philosophers. Again, the knowledge that we elicit from sense, is but very narrow, if it staid there: for the forms of things, the matter or sub­stance, which is the subject of Nature, are not easily perceptible by sense; we see the colour, and the figure, and the varia­tions of that, but we do from thence only make conjectures concerning the forms, [...]bstances, and matter: Or they are such [Page 162]as we receive by Tradition, whether histo­rical or doctrinal; and the former depends upon the credit of the relator, which most an end depends upon another's credit, and so vanisheth into much incertainty, unless the authors be very authentical and eye­witnesses: and as to matters doctrinal, still that depends upon the opinion of a man, it may be, deduced upon weak convictions, crossed by persons of as great judgments, and so breeds uncertainty, distraction, and dissatisfaction in the knowledge. But in the knowledge of Christ, we have greater certainty than can be found in any of all these other Knowledges: 1. A constant tradition and reception by millions, before he came, that the Messias was to come; and since he came, that in truth he is come. 2. The Apostles, Evangelists, and Disci­ples, that were purposely chosen to be witnesses of Christ, his Miracles, Doctrine, Suffering, and Resurrection. 3. The Mi­racles he did, that are witnessed to us, by a greater consent of testimony, than any one part of any History of that antiquity. 4. The Purity, Sanctity, and Justness of his Doctrine, which was never attained unto in the teaching of the Philosophers, nor ever any could, in the least measure, unpeach or blame. 5. The Prophecies, [Page 163]stiled most justly by the Apostle a more certain evidence, than the very vision of his Transfiguration, and a Voice from Heaven, 2 Pet. I.19. and so in truth is a more undeniable argument than any is, for [it] is not capable of any fraud or imposture. 6. The wonderful prevailing that the knowledge of Christ had upon the World, and this not only de facto, but backed with a Prophecy, that it should be so. 7. The admirable concordance and symmetry, that this mystery of Christ makes in the whole method of the pro­ceeding of God in the World, as will be casily observable upon the collation of these things together: The Creation; the Fall; the Law; the State of the Jews; the Im­mortality of the Soul; the Necessity of a Satisfaction for Sin if pardoned; the Types and Sacrifices; the Prophecies; the Reje­ction of the Jews; the Calling of the Gentiles; the Progress of the Gospel to the new discovered parts of the World suc­cessively as discovered; that a due colle­ction being made of all these and other Considerations, it will appear that the doctrine of Christ Jesus, and him crucified, is that which makes the dispenstation of God towards the children of men to be all of a piece, and one thing in order to ano­ther, [Page 164]ther, and Christ the Mediator, in whom God hath gathered together all things in one, Eph. 1.10. made it as one System, Body-fabrick. 8. Besides the undeniable Prophecies, there bears witness to this truth, the secret powerful witness of the Spirit of God convincing the Soul of the truth of Christ, beyond all the Moral per­swasions in the world, beyond the convi­ction of demonstration, to believe, to rest upon, to assert it, even unto the loss of life and all things.

2. As in the certainty, so in the Plain­ness and Easiness of the truth. The most excellent subjects of other knowledge have long windings, before a man can come at them; and are of that difficulty and ab­struseness, that as every brain is not fit to undertake the acquiring of it, so much pains, labour, industry, advertency, assi­duity is required in the best of judgments, to attain but a competent measure of it: witness the studies of Arithmetick, Geo­metry, Natural Philosophy, Metaphy­sicks, &c. wherein great labour hath been taken to our hands, to make the passage more easie, and yet still are full of diffi­culty. But in this knowledge it is other­wise: as it is a knowledge fitted for a uni­versal use, the bringing of mankind to God, [Page 165]so it is fitted with a universal fitness and convenience for that use, easie, plain, and familiar. The poor receive the Gospel, Matth. 11.5. and indeed the plainness of the doctrine was that which made the wise world stum­ble at it; and thence it was, that it was hid from the wise and prudent, Matth. 11.25. who, like Naaman with the Prophet, could not be contented to be healed without some great ostentation; nor were contented to think any thing could be the wisdom of God, and the power of God, unless it were somewhat that were abstruse, and at least conformable to that wisdom they had; and were troubled to think that that wisdom or doctrine, that must be of so great a use and end, should fall under the capacity of a Fisherman, a maker of Tents, a Carpen­ter. But thus it pleased God to choose a Doctrine of an easie acquisition, 1. That no slesh should glory in his sight, 1 Cor. 1.29.2. That the way to Salvation, being a common thing propounded to all mankind, might be difficult to none. Be­lieve, and thy sins be forgiven. Believe, and thou shalt be saved. Believe, and thou shalt be raised up to Glory. Joh. 6. 40. This is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son and Believeth on him, may have eter­nal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

3. As in the Certainty and Plainness, so in the Sublimity and Loftiness of the sub­ject: And hence it is that Metaphysicks is reckoned the most noble knowledge, be­cause conversant with and about the no­blest subject, substance considered in abstra­ct [...] from corporeity, and particular adhe­rents falling under other Sciences. But the subject of this knowledge is of the highest consideration: Almighty God; the dispen­sation of his counsel touching man in refe­rence to the everlasting condition of man­kind; the true measure of just and unjust; the pure will of God; the Son of God and his miraculous Incarnation, Death, Re­surrection and Ascention; the great Cove­nant between the Eternal God and fallen man made, sealed, and confirmed in Christ his great transaction with the Father in their Eternal Counsel; and since his A­scention, in his continual Intercession for man; the means of the discharge and sa­tisfaction of the breach of the Law of God; the state of the Soul after death in blessed­ness or misery; these and many of these are the subject of that knowledge that is re­vealed in the knowledge of Christ, such as their very matter speaks them to be of a most high nature: the great transactions of the counsel and administration of the [Page 167]mighty King of Heaven, in his Kingdom over the children of men: such as never fell under the discovery, or so much as the disquisition, of the wisest Philosophers, and such as the very Angels of Heaven desire to look down into, 1 Pet. 1. and be­hold with admiration that manfold wis­dom of God, which is revealed unto us, poor worms, in Christ Jesus.

4. As the matters are wonderful, high, and sublime, so they are of most singular Use to be known. There be many pieces of Learning in the World that are conversant about high subjects: as, that part of Na­tural Philosophy concerning the Heaven and the Soul; the Metaphysicks; the ab­struser parts of the Mathematicks; that are not in order to practice. But as it may fall out that the knowledge of the subject is unaccessible in any certainty, so if it were never so exactly known, it goes no farther, and when it's known there's an end, and no more use of it. Whereas many times subjects of an inferiour nature are more useful in their knowledge; as practi­cal Mathematicks, Mechanicks, Moral Philosophy, Policy; but then they are of an inferiour nature, more useful but per­chance less noble. But here is the privi­ledge of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, [Page 168]that as it is of Eminence and Height, so it is of Use and Convenience, and that in the highest measure; as it is a Pearl for Beauty, so it is for Value. This know­ledge is a kind of Catholicon of universal use and convenience. In reference to this life: Am I in Want, in Contempt, in Prison, in Banishment, in Sickness, in Death? This knowledge gives me Con­tentedness, Patience, Cheerfulness, Re­signation of my self to his will, who hath sealed my Peace with him, and Favour from him, in the Great Covenant of his Son; and I can live upon this, though I were ready to starve; when I am assured that if it be for my good and the glory of his Name, I shall be delivered; if not, I can be contented, so my Jewel, the Peace of God and my own Conscience, by the Blood of Christ be safe. Am I in Wealth, Honour, Power, Greatness, Esteem in the world? This knowledge teacheth me Humility, as knowing from whom I re­ceived it; Fidelity, as knowing to whom I must account for it; Watchfulness, as knowing the Honour of my Lord is con­cerned in some measure in my carriage, and that the higher my employment is, the more obnoxious I am to temptation from without, from the that watch for [Page 169]my halting, and from within, by a deceit­ful heart: And in all it teacheth me not to overvalue it, nor to value my self the more by it or for it; because the know­ledge of Christ Jesus presents me with a continual object of a higher value, the price of the high calling of God in Christ: it teacheth me to look upon the glory of the World as rust, in comparison of the glory that excelleth, and the greatest of men as worms, in comparison of the great God. And as thus in reference to the temporal condition of my life, this know­ledge of Christ is of singular use, and makes a man a better Philosopher than the best of Morals in reference thereunto: So it guides me in the management of all Re­lations: 1. To God; it presents him unto me in that representation that is right, full of Majesty, yet full of Love, which teacheth me Reverence and yet Access with boldness, Love and Obedience. 2. To Man; Justice, giving every man his due, for so the knowledge of Christ teacheth me, Do as ye would be done by; Mercy, to forgive; Compassion, to pity; Libera­lity, to relieve; Sobriety, in the use of creatures, and yet Comfort in the enjoying of them; a right use of the World, and yet a contempt of it, in comparison of my [Page 170]hope: It makes death not terrible, because a most sure passage to life: Here I find a way to get all my sins pardoned, whereas without this, all the world cannot contrive a Satisfaction for one; I find a way to ob­tain such a righteousness as is valuable with God, and perfect before him, even the righteousness of God in Christ. And here I find, the means, and only means, to avoid the wrath to come, the terrour of the judgment of the great day; Ever­lasting life unto all Eternity, with the Blessed God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and all the blessed Angels, and the Spirits of just men made perfect. Thus this know­ledge is useful for this life, and [that which is] to come, and that in the highest degree; which all other knowledge comes short of, and attains not to any one of the least of these ends.

5. In the Duration and Continuance of it. Many subjects of knowledge there are, wherein by time, or at least by death, the knowledge proves unuseful, or at least, the labour therein unprofitable and lost. For instance, I study to be very exact in Na­tural Philosophy, the mixtures or conjun­ctions of qualities, elements, and a thou­sand such enquiries: What use will this be, when the World with the works [Page 171]thereof, shall be burnt up? Or if it should not, what great benefit would this be to a separated Soul? which doubtless shall either know much more therein, without any pains, and so the labour here lost, or in shall be such a knowledge as will [be] unconsiderable or unuseful to it: And so, and much more for the studies of Policy, Methods of War, Mechanical Experiments, Languages, Laws, Customs, Histories, all these within one minute after death will be as useless as the knowledge of a Taylor or Shoomaker: they are all dated for the convenience and use of this life, and with it they vanish. But here is the priviledge and advantage that this know­ledge hath; as it serves for this life, so it serves for that to come; and the more it is improved here, the more shall it be dilated hereafter; the higher measure thereof I attain here, the greater measure of glory hereafter. As the more knowledge I have of the mystery of Christ here, the greater is my sight and admiration of the wisdom, and goodness, and love of God; the greater my joy, and complacence, and delight in that sight and sense, and the more my Soul carried out in the love, and praise, and obedience unto him: So in the life to come, that knowledge shall improve, and conse­quently [Page 172]the sense of the wisdom, mercy, and love of God; and consequently the flame of the Soul, of love, and praise unto him, and delight, and joy in him, shall increase unto all eternity.

2. As thus the knowledge of Christ Jesus and him crucified excells all other know­ledge, and so in comparison thereof, all other knowledge, upon a right judgment, is as nothing; so the Soul being rightly con­vinced thereof, sets a higher price upon that knowledge, than upon all other knowledge besides; it priseth it highly in it self and others; reckons all other knowledge with­out it, but a curious ignorance, or an im­pertinent knowledge, and contents it self abundantly in this knowledge, though it want other.

3. Because that which is of most con­cernment requires my greatest diligence to attain it, I am contented and greedy to spend more time in attaining this than that; and I will rob other studies and disquisitions of the time, that otherwise might be con­ducible to attain the knowledge of them, rather than those studies should consume that time, that should be allotted to this. My Time is part of that Talent, which my Maker hath put into my hand, and for which he will at the great day demand an [Page 173]account; and if I have spent that talent in unprofitable employments, or in less profitable than I should, my arrear is so much the greater: If I have consumed my time in studying my preferment, honour, or wealth in this world; in studying how to please my self with vain and unnecessary recreations; in unlawful or excessive plea­sures; in unlawful or immoderate curiosi­ties; which I might better have spent in the study of the mystery of Christ, or the conformity unto that Will and Testament he left me, or improving my interest in him, I have committed two follies at once: 1. Lost my talent of time and opportunity, for which I am accountable, as mispent. 2. Lost that advantage which I had in my hand to improve my interest in God, and favour from him, and love to him; and though I have done so much, as may per­chance preserve the main, yet I have omitted so much as might have more increased my stock of Grace and Glory; my talent might have gained ten, and at most it hath gained but two. And surely when death comes, the most comfortable hours, that can re­turn to our memories, will be those we spent in improving the true and experi­mental practical knowledge of Christ Jesus, and him crucified.

4. Consequently where this knowledge and the other knowledge of an inferiour rate justle and cross one another, it is the best wisdom to side with this, and to deny the other; to become a fool that he may be wise. 1 Cor. 3.18.

2. Thus concerning the first Conside­ration: I determined not to know any thing, viz. nothing in comparison of this knowledge of Christ, nothing rather than not that: Save Christ Jesus. And truly well might the Apostle make all other know­ledge give place to this; first, for the Ex­cellency of it, whereof before: secondly, for the Amplitude and Compass of it; for though it [be] so excellent, that a small dram of it is sufficient to heal and save a Soul, if it be a right knowledge as is be­fore observed, yet it is so large, that when the best knowledge hath gone as far as it can, yet there is still aliquid ultra: One consideration of it, even the Love of God hath a bredth, and length, and depth, and height, passing knowledge, Eph. 3.18, 19. and yet there be other depths and heights in it than this, so that well might the Apostle conclude as he doth, 1 Tim. 3.16. Without controversie great is the mystery of Godliness, God manifested in the flesh. There­fore for the present we shall consider,

1. The Wonderful Wisdom of God in con­triving and ordering the Redemption of Man­kind by Christ Jesus; and [it] is manifest in these particulars among others: 1. That though he made Man the eminentest of all his visible Creatures, for a most eminent manifestation of his power and glory, and to be partaker of everlasting blessedness, and yet in his Eternal Counsel resolved to leave him in the hands of his own liberty, and did most certainly foresee that he would fall; yet he did substitute and provide, even from the same Eternity, a means whereby he might be restored to the honour and glory of his creature, and his creature to blessedness and [the] vision of his Crea­tor. 2. That he so ordered the means of man's Redemption, that a greater glory came even by that Redemption, that if man had never faln, and a greater benefit to mankind: For the latter it is apparent, that, if there had been no Mediator sent, the least sin that any of the sons [of] men had committed, had been inexorably fatal to them, without any means of pardon: And as Adam, though in his full liberty and power, was misled by temptation, so might have he been, or any of his poste­rity though he had stood that shock; which now is admirably provided against, by the [Page 176]satisfaction of Christ Jesus: And as thus it is better with the children of men, so the glory of God is wonderfully advanced by it; for, if man had stood in his inno­cence, God had had only the glory of his justice in rewarding him; or, if he had faln, the glory of his justice in punishing him: but there had been no room for that glorious attribute of his Mercy in forgiving, without violation to his Purity, Truth and Justice; that glorious attribute by which he so often proclaimeth himself, Exod. 34.6. The Lord, the Lord God Merciful, Gracious, Long-suffering, abundant in Goodness and Truth, keeping Mercy for thousands, forgiving ini­quity, transgression and sin, and yet that will by no means clear the guilty. 3. That he so wonderfully ordered the Redemption of Man, that all his Attributes were preser­ved inviolable: His Truth, The day thou eatest thou shalt dye; his Justice, yet his Mercy; his Love to his creature, yet his Hatred to Sin: his Son shall dye to satisfie his Truth and Justice, yet the sinner shall live, to satisfie his Mercy: the sin shall be punished, to justifie his Purity, yet his creature shall be saved, to manifest his Love and Goodness. And thus his Wisdom over­ruled Sin, the worst of evils, to the im­provement of his glory, and the good of [Page 177]his creature. 4. His wisdom is manifested in this, that by the redemption of man, all those ways of his administration before the coming of Christ, do now appear to be excellently ordered to the redemption of man, and the making of it the more effectual: The giving of a severe and yet most just Law, which was impossible for us to fulfil, shews us the wretchedness of our condition; our inability to fulfil, what was just in God to require, shews us the necessity of a Saviour, drives us to him, and makes this City of refuge grateful and acceptable, and makes us set a value upon that mercy, which so opportunely and mercifully provided a Sacrifice for us in the Blood of Christ; and a Righteousness for us, in the Merits of Christ; and a Me­diator for us in the Intercession of Christ: And by this means also all those Sacrifices, and Ceremonies, and Observations en­joyned in the Levitical Law, which carried not in themselves a clear reason of their institution, are now by the sending of Christ rendred significant. 5. The wis­dom of God is magnified and advanced in this, in fulfilling the Prophecies of the sending the Messias to satisfie for the sins of Mankind, against all the oppositions, and casualties, and contingencies that without [Page 178]an over-ruling wisdom and guidance might have disappointed it: And this done in that Perfection, that not one circumstance of Time, Place, Person, Concomitants should, nor did fail in it: and so bearing witness to the infinite Truth, Power, and Wisdom of God in bringing about his Coun­sels in their perfection, touching this great business of the Redemption of Man, which was the very end why he was created and placed upon the earth; and managing the villany of men, and the craft and malice of Satan, to bring about that greatest bles­sing that was or could be provided for mankind, besides, and above, and against the intention of the Instrument. Act. 2.23. Him being delivered by the determinate coun­sel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. 6. The unsearchable Wisdom of God is manifested in that he provided such a Me­diator that was fit for so great a work; had all the world consulted that God must suffer, it had been impossible; and had all the world contrived that any man, or all the men in the world should have been a satisfactory Sacrifice for any one Sin, it had been deficient. Here is then the wonder­ful Counsel of the most high God: the Sacrifice that is appointed shall be so or­dered, [Page 179]that God and Man shall be conjoyned in one Person; that so as Man, he might become a Sacrifice for Sin; and as God, he might give a value to the Sacrifice. And this is that great Mystery of Godliness, God manifested in the flesh.

2. The wonderful Love of God to Mankind: I. In thinking upon poor sinful creatures, to contrive a way for a Pardon for us, and rescuing us from that Curse which we had justly deserved: 2. Thinking of us for our good, when we sought it not, thought not of it: 3. When we were enemies against God, and against his very being: 4. Thinking of us not only for a Pardon, but to provide for us a state of Glory and Blessedness: 5. When that was not to be obtained, saving his Truth and Justice, without a miraculous Mediator, consisting of the divine and humane nature united in one person, in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ; here was Love and Goodness of the greatest magnitude that ever was, or ever shall be heard of, and sufficient to conquer our Hearts into admiration and astonishment. But yet it rests not here. As God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life: Joh. 3.16. so the only begotten Son of God [Page 180]was not behind in this wonderful Love. No sooner (as we may with reverence say) was the Counsel of the Father propounded for the sending of his Son, but presently the Son saith; Lo, I come. Psal. 40.7. Heb. 10.7. And now we will consider upon [what] terms he must come, or else the redemption of mankind must dye for ever: I. He must come and empty himself of his Glory of his personal Majesty, and take our nature, yet without sin; he must go through the natural infirmities of infancy and childhood. 2. And not only must he undergo this abasement, but he must un­dergo the condition of a mean, a low birth, born of a poor Virgin, in a Stable, laid in a Manger, under the reputation of a Carpenter's Son. 3. And not only thus, but as soon as he is born, must use the care of his Mother to shift for his life away to Egypt, to prevent the jealousie and fury of Herod. 4. And when grown up to youth, he must undergo the form of a Servant, become a poor Carpenter to work for his living, without any patrimony or so much as a house to cover him. 5. He comes abroad into the World to exercise the Ministry, and the Prologue to his own Tragedy; still poor, despised of his own Countrey­men, and of those that were of reputation [Page 181]for Learning and Piety, scandalized under the name of an Impostor, a Winebibber, a friend to Publicans and sinners, a worker by the Devil, mad and possessed with a Devil: These and the like were his enter­tainments in the World; and, which is more, often put to shift for his life; and in sum, what the Prophet predicted con­cerning him fulfilled to the uttermost: Isa; 53.3. Despised, and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and all this to befall the Eternal Son of God under the vail of our flesh: And all this voluntarily undertaken, and cheerfully undergone, even for the sakes of his Enemies, and those very people from whom he received these indignities.

3. But all these were but like small ve­litations, and conflicts preparatory to the main Battel. We therefore come to the Third Consideration: Christ Jesus and him Crucified; there is the account of the Text: As Christ Jesus is the most worthy subject of all knowledge, so Christ Jesus under this consideration, as Crucified, is that which is the fullest of wonder, admiration, love: And therefore let us now take a survey of Christ Jesus crucified; as that is the highest manifestation of his love, so it is the eye, the life of the Text; Christ [Page 182]above all other knowledge, and Christ Crucified above all other knowledge of Christ.

And now a man upon the first view would think this kind of knowledge so much here valued, were a strange kind of know­ledge; and the prelation of this knowledge a strange mistake in the Apostle. 1. Cru­cified: Death is the corruption of nature; and such a kind of death by crucifixion, the worst, the vilest of deaths; carrying in it the punishment of the lowest condition of men, and for the worst of offences; and yet, that death, and such a death should be the ambition of an Apostle's knowledge, is wonderful. 2. Christ crucified carries in it a seeming excess of incongruity; that he, that was the Eternal Son of God, should take upon him our nature, and in that nature annointed and consecrated by the Father, full of Innocence, Purity, Goodness, should dye, and that by such a death, and so unjustly: Could this be a subject, or matter of knowledge so desire­able, as to be preferred before all other knowledge? which should rather seem to be a matter of so much horrour, so much indignation, that a man might think it rather fit to be forgotten, than to be affected to be known. 3. Jesus crucified; a Sa­viour, [Page 183]and yet to be crucified: it seems to blast the expectation of Salvation; when the Captain of it must dye, be slain, be crucified; it carries in it a kind of victory of death and hell over our salvation, when the instrument thereof must suffer death, and such a death. When the Birth of Christ was proclaimed, indeed it was mat­ter of joy, and worthy the proclamation of Angels: Luke 2.12. To you is born this day a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord: and can the death of that Saviour be a thing de­sireable to be known? The Birth of Christ seemed to be the rising Sun, that scattered light, hope and comfort to all Nations: but can the setting of this Sun in so dark a cloud, as the Cross, be the choicest piece of knowledge of him? which seems as it were to strangle and stifle our hopes; and puts us as it were upon the expostulation of the dismay'd Disciples, Luke 24.21. But we trusted it had been he which should have redeemed Israel.

But for all this, this knowledge of Christ Jesus crucified will appear to be the most excellent, comfortable, useful knowledge in the world, if we shall consider these Par­ticulars: 1. Who it was that suffered. 2. What he suffered. 3. From whom. 4. How he suffered. 5. For whom he [Page 184]suffered. 6. Why, and upon what Motive. 7. For what End he suffered. 8. What [are] the fruits and Benefits that accrew by that suffering. All these Considerations are wrapt up in this one subject; Christ Jesus and him crucified.

1. Who it was that thus suffered. It was Christ Jesus the Eternal Son of God, cloathed in our flesh; God and Man united in one Person; his manhood giving him a capacity of suffering, and his Godhead giving a value to that suffering; and each nature united in one person to make a com­pleat Redeemer; the Heir of all things; Heb. 1.2. the Prince of Life; Acts 3.15. the Light that lighteneth every man that cometh into the world; Joh. 1.9. as touch­ing his Divine nature, God over all blessed for ever; Rom. 9.5. and as touching his Humane nature, full of Grace and Truth; Joh. 1.14. and in both, the beloved Son of the Eternal God, in whom he proclaimed himself well pleased; Math. 3.17. But could no other person be found, that might suffer for the sins of Man, but the Son of God? Or if the business [of] our Salvation must be transacted by him alone, could it not be without suffering, and such suffering as this? No. As there was no other Name given under Heaven, by which [Page 185]we might be saved, nor was there any found besides, in the compass of the whole World, that could expiate for one sin of man; but it must be the Arm of the Al­mighty, that must bring Salvation: Isa. 63.5. So if the Blessed Son of God will undertake the business, Heb. 5.9. and become the Captain of our Salvation, he must be made perfect by suf­fering; Heb. 2.10. and if he will stand in the stead of man, he must bear the wrath of his Father: if he [will] become sin for man, though he knew no sin, he must become a curse for man. And doubtless this great mystery of the person that suf­fered, cannot choose but be a very high, and excellent subject of knowledge; so full of wonder and astonishment, that the Angels gaze into it: And as it is a strange and wonderful thing in it self, so doubtless it was ordained to high and wonderful ends, bearing a suitableness unto the great­ness of the instrument. This therefore is the first Consideration that advanceth the excellency of this knowledge; the person that was Crucified.

2. What he suffered. Christ Jesus and him crucified: though all the course of his life was a continual suffering, and the pream­ble or walk unto his death, which was [Page 186]the end of his life; yet this was the com­pleting of all the rest; and the tyde and waves of his sufferings did still rise higher and higher, till it arrived in this: and the several steps and ascents unto the Cross, though they began from his Birth; yet those which were more immediate, began with the preparation to the Passover. The Council held by the chief Priests and Scribes, for the crucifying of our Saviour, was sate upon two days before the Passo­ver, Matth. 26.2. Mark 14.1. and this was the first step to Mount Calvary: And doubtless it was no small addition to our Saviour's Passion, that it was hatched in the Council of the chief Priests and Scribes, the then external visible Church, the Hus­bandmen of the Vineyard: Matth. 21.33. But this is not all; as the visible Church of the Jews is the Conclave where this Council is formed, so Judas a member of the visible Church of Christ, one of the Twelve, is the Instrument to effect it; Matth. 26.14. he contracts with them for Thirty pieces of Silver, to betray his Ma­ster unto them: And surely this could not choose but be a great grief to our Saviour, that one of his select Apostles should turn Apostate, and thereby brought a blemish upon the rest.

Upon the day of Eating of the Passover, called the first day of the Feast of unlea­vened bread, our Saviour and his Disciples keep the Passover together in Jerusalem; and there the two memorials of our Sa­viour's Passion meet: that of the Passover instituted by God, and the Israelites going out of Egypt; and the Bread and Wine after Supper instituted by our Saviour, to suc­ceed in the place of the former: and each did questionless make a deep impression upon our Saviour, in which he anticipated his Passion, and lively represented to him that breaking and pouring out of his Blood and Soul, which he was suddenly to suffer: And doubtless here began a great measure of our Saviour's Passion in the apprehen­sion which he had of that imminent Storm, that he must speedily undergo. From the Supper they go together to the Mount of Olives, and there he acquaints his Disci­ples of a speedy and sorrowful parting they must have; the Shepherd is to be smitten that night, and the Sheep to be scattered: and as he foresaw Judas treachery, so he foresees Peter's infirmity; the storm should be so violent that Peter himself, the reso­lutest Apostle, shall deny his Master that night, and deny him thrice: And surely the foresight of the distraction that should [Page 188]befall his poor Disciples, could not choose but add much to their tender Master's affliction; Matth. 26.31. All ye shall be offended because of me this night.

And now let us follow our Blessed Lord from the Mount of Olives into the Garden, called by the Apostles Gethsemane, with the affections of love and wonder in some measure becoming such an entertainment of our thoughts. The Time that he chose for this retirement was the dead time of the night; a season that might the more contribute to the strength of that sadness, which the pre-apprehension of his immi­nent Passion must needs occasion. The Place that he chose, a solitary retired Gar­den, where nothing might, nor could interrupt, or divert, the intensiveness of his sorrow and fear: And to make both the time and place the more opportune for his Agony, he leaves the rest of his Di­sciples, and takes with him only Peter and the two Sons of Zebedee, Matth. 26.37. and to these he imparts the beginning of his sorrow, that they might be witnesses of it, Matth. 26. 37, 38. My sould is ex­ceeding sorrowful, even unto death; but yet commands their distance, vers. 38. Tarry ye here and watch with me, and he went a little further. Watch with me: The confusion [Page 189]of his Soul was so great, that the only Son of God distrusts his own [humane] ability to bear it; and yet his submission to this terrible conflict [was] so willing, that he leaves them that he had appointed to watch with him. He went a little farther. The three Disciples had doubtless a sympathy with their Master's sorrow; and yet the will of God so orders it, that their excess of love and grief must not keep their Eyes waking, notwithstanding it was the last request of their sorrowful Master. The disciples slept. Matth. 26. 40. And thus every circumstance of Time, Place, and Persons contribute to a sad and solitary opportunity for this most terrible and black conflict. And now in this Garden the mighty God puts his Son to grief, lades him with our sorrows, Isa. 53.4. withdraws and hides from him the light of his favour and countenance; interposeth a thick and black cloud between the Divinity and the humane nature; darts into his Soul the sad and sharp manifestations of his wrath; overwhelms his Soul with one wave after another; sends into him the most exquisite pre-apprehensions of those sad and severe sufferings he was the next day to undergo; begins to make his Soul and Offering for Sin, and heightens his sorrow, confusion, [Page 190]and astonishment unto the uttermost. In sum, the mighty God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, who knows the way into the Soul, and how to fill it with the most sad and black astonishment and sor­row, was pleased at this time to estrange and eclipse the manifestation of his light and love to his only Son, as far as was possibly consistent with his secret and eter­nal love unto him; to throw into him as sad and amazing apprehensions of his wrath, as was possible to be consistent with the humane nature to bear; to for­tifie and strengthen his sense of it and sorrow for, and under it, unto the utter­most, that so his grief and sorrow and confusion of soul might be brim-full, and as much as the exactest constitution of a humane nature could possibly bear. And thus now at this time the Arm of the mighty God was bruising the Soul of his only Son; Isa. 53.16. And certainly the extremity of this agony within, must needs be very great, if we consider the strange effects it had without: 1. That pathetical description thereof that our Saviour himself makes of it; My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, Matth. 26.37. so sorrow­ful, exceeding sorrowful, sorrowful unto death: and the expressions of the Evange­lists; [Page 191] Matth. 26.37. He began to be sorrowful and very heavy, Mark 14.33. He began to be sore amazed and to be very heavy. It was such a sorrow as brought with it an amazement, an astonishment. 2. Again, that strange request to his three Disci­ples, Tarry ye and watch with me; as if he feared the sorrow would overwhelm him. 3. Again, his Prayer, and the manner of it, evidence a most wonderful perturbation within; Matth. 26.39. He fell on his face and prayed; and what was the thing he prayed? Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me; Or, as Mark 14.36. Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee, take away this cup from me, &c. although that this was the very end for which he came into the World; the Cup which in former times he reached after, and was straitned till it were fulfilled; yet such a represen­tation there is thereof to his Soul, that though, in the will of his obedience, he submits; Not my will but thine be done: Yet his nature shrinks and starts at it; and he engageth Almighty God, as much as, upon as great arguments, as was possible, to decline the severity of that wrath which he was now to grapple with: 1. Upon the account of his Omnipotency; All things are possible to thee: 2. Upon the account [Page 192]of his Relation; Abba, Father: ‘It is not a stranger that importunes thee; it is thy Son; that Son in whom thou didst proclaim thy self well pleased; that Son whom thou hearest always; it is he that begs of thee; and begs of thee a dispensation from that, which he most declines, because he most loves thee, the terrible, unsupportable hiding thy face from me:’ And this was not one single request, but thrice repeated, reiterated and that with more earnestness, Mark 14.39. And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words: Luke 22.44. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly. Certainly, that impression upon his soul, that caused him to deprecate that for which he was born, to deprecate it so often, so earnestly, must needs be a sorrow and ap­prehension of a very terrible and exceeding extremity. 4. Such was the weight of his sotrow and confusion of soul, that, it even exceeding the strength of his [hu­mane] nature to bear it, it was ready to dissolve the Union between his Body and Soul; insomuch that to add farther strength unto him, and capacity to undergo the measure of it, an Angel from Heaven is sent, not [meerly] to comfort, but to strengthen him; to add a farther degree [Page 193]of strength to his humane nature, to bear the weight of that wrath, which had in good earnest made his Soul sorrowful unto death, had it not been strengthned by the ministration of an Angel, Luk. 22.43. and this assistance of the Angel, as it did not allay the sorrow of his Soul, so neither did it intermit his importunity to be delivered from the thing he felt and feared, but did only support and strengthen him to bear a greater burden of it: And as the mea­sure of his strength was increased, so was the burden which he must undergo in­creased; for aster this he prayed again more earnestly the third time, Luk. 22.43. the supply of his strength was succeeded with an addition of sorrow, and the increase of his sorrow was followed with the greater importunity; He prayed more carnestly, Heb. 5.7. With strong crying and tears, Luk. 22. 44. And being in an agony be prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. This was his third address to his Father, Matth. 26.44. and here was the highest pitch of our Saviour's passion in the Gar­den. His Soul was in an agony, in the greatest concussion, consusion, and extre­mity of sorrow, fear, anguish and astonish­ment, that was possible to be inslicted by [Page 194]the mighty hand of God on the soul of Christ, that could be consistent with the purity of the nature of our Saviour, and the inseparable union that it had with the Divine nature: Insomuch, that the con­fusion and distraction of his soul under it, and the strugling and grapling of his soul with it, did make such an impression upon his body, that the like was never before or since. The season of the year was cold; for so it appears, Joh. 18.18. the Servants and Officers had made a fire of coals, for it was cold: and the season of the time was cold, it was, as near as we may guess, about midnight, when the Sun was at his greatest distance, and obstructed in his influence by the interposition of the Earth: for it appears they came with Lanthorns and Torches when they apprehended him, Joh. 18.3. and he was brought to the high Priest's Hall, a little before Cock-crowing, after some time had been spent in his Exa­mination, Math. 26.69. And yet for all this, such is the agony, and perturbation of our Saviour's soul, that in this cold season it puts his body in a sweat, a sweat of blood, great drops of blood, drops of blood falling down to the ground; and certainly it was no light conflict within, that caused such a strange and un-heard of [Page 195]symptom without. Certainly the storm in the soul of Christ must needs be very terrible that his blood, the seat of his vital spirits, could no longer abide the sense of it, but started out in a sweat of blood, and such a sweat, that was more than consistent with the ordinary constitution of humane nature. And during this time, even from the eating of the Passover until this third address to his Father was over, the suffering of our Saviour lay principally, if not only, in his soul. Almighty God was wounding of his spirit, and making his soul an offering for sin: And though the distinct, and clear manner of this bruising of our Saviour's soul cannot be apprehended by us; yet surely thus much we may conclude concerning it: 1. He was made sin for us, that knew no sin, 2 Cor. 5.21. he stood under the imputation of all our sins; and though he were personally innocent, yet judicially and by way of in­terpretation, he was the greatest offender that ever was; for the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all. Isa. 53.6.2. And consequently he was under the imputation of all the guilt of all those sins, and stands, in relation unto God, the righteous Judge, under the very same obligation to whatso­ever punishment the very persons of the [Page 196]offenders were, unto the uttermost of that consistency that it had with the unsepa­rable union unto the Father: and this obligation unto the punishment could not choose but work the same effects in our Saviour, as it must do in the sinner, (de­speration and sin excepted;) to wit, a sad apprehension of the wrath of God against him. The purity and justice of God, which hath nothing that it hates but sin, must pursue sin wherever it find it: and as when it finds sin personally in a man, the wrath of God will abide there so long as sin abides there; so when it finds the same sin assumed by our Lord, and bound as it were to him, as the wood was to Isaac when he was laid upon the Altar, the wrath of God could not chuse but be ap­prehended as incumbent upon him, till that sin that by imputation lay upon him were discharged. For as our Lord was pleased to be our Representative in bearing our sins, and to stand in our stead, so all these affections and motions of his soul did bear the same conformity, as if acted by us: As he put on the person of the sinner, so he puts on the same sorrow, the same shame, the same fear, the same trembling under the ap­prehension of the wrath of his Father, that we must have done: And so as an imputed [Page 197]sin drew with it the obligation unto pu­nishment, so it did, by necessary conse­quence, raise all those confusions and storms in the soul of Christ, as it would have done in the person of the sinner, sin only excepted. 3. In this Garden as he stands under the sin, and guilt of our na­ture, so he stands under the curse of our nature, to wit, a necessity of death, and of undergoing the wrath of God for that sin whose punishment he hath undertaken for us: the former, the dissolution of his body and soul by a most accursed death, and the latter the suffering of his soul; and this latter he is now under. God is plea­sed to inflict upon him all the manife­stations of his wrath, and to fling into his soul the sharpest and severest representations of his displeasure that might possibly be­fall him under that bare imputed guilt, considering the dignity of his Person. And surely this was more terrible to our Sa­viour than all his corporal sufferings were: under all those not one word, no pertur­bation at all, but as a Sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth: but the sense of the displeasure of his Father, and the impressions that he makes upon his soul, those he cannot bear without sorrow, even unto death, without [Page 198]most importunate addresses to be delivered from them, and a most strange concussion and agony upon his soul and body under the sense of them. And the actual mani­festation of the wrath of God upon his Son consisted in these two things princi­pally.

1. Filling his soul with strange and violent fears and terrors, insomuch that he was in an amazement and consternation of spirit; the Passion-Psalm renders it, Psal. 22.14. My heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels: the God of the spirits of all flesh, that knows how to grind and bruise the spirit, did bruise and melt his soul within him with terrors, fears, and sad pre-apprehensions of worse to follow.

2. A sensible withdrawing, by hasty and swift degrees, the light of the presence and favour of God: He is sorrowful and troubled, and he goes to his Father to desire it may pass from him, but no an­swer; he goes again, but yet no answer; and yet under the pressure and extremity; he goes again the third time with more earnestness, agony, a sweat of blood; yet no, it cannot be; and this was a terrible condition, that the light of the counte­nance of the Father is removed from his [Page 199]Son, his only Son, in whom he was well pleased, his Son whom he heard always: And when he comes to the Father under the greatest obligation that can be, with the greatest reverence, with the greatest importunity; once, and again, and a third time; and that, filled within with fears, and covered without with blood; and yet no answer, but all light and access and favour intercepted, with nothing but blackness and silence: Certainly this was a terrible Cup, yet thus it was with our Saviour Christ; The light of the favour of God, like the Sun in an Eclipse, from the very institution of the Sacrament, be­gan to be covered one degree after ano­ther; and in the third address to the Fa­ther in the Garden, it was even quite gone: But at that great hour, when our Saviour cryed My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me! then both lights, that greater light of the favour of God to his only Son, to­gether with the light of the Sun, seemed to be under a total recess, or Eclipse; and this was that which bruised the soul of our Saviour, and made it an Offering for Sin; and this was that which wrung drops of blood from our Saviour's body, before the Thorns, or the Whips, or the Nails, or the Spear, had torn his veins.

And now after this third application for a deliverance from this terrible Cup of the wrath of God, and yet no dispensation obtained, he returns to his miserable com­forters, the three Disciples; and he finds them the third time asleep: These very three Disciples were once the witnesses of a glorious Transfiguration of our Sa­viour in the Mount, and in an extasie of joy and fear, they fell on their faces, Matth. 17.6. and now they are to be witnesses of a sad Transfiguration of their Lord under an agony and sweat of blood; and now under an extasie of sorrow they are not able to watch with their [Lord] one hour. Our Saviour calls them, but whiles they were scarce awakened, they are rouzed by a louder alarm, Matth. 26.47. whiles he yet spake, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude, with swords and staves from the high Priests, Joh. 18.3. with lanthorns and torches: And though this was little in comparison of the storm that was in our Saviour's soul; yet such an appearance, at such a time of the night, and to a person under such a sad condition, could not but be terrible to flesh and blood; especially, if we consider the circumstances that attended it. 1. An Apostle, one of the twelve, he it is that conducts this [Page 201]black Guard, Matth. 25.47. Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he, hold him fast; one that had been witness of all his Miracles, heard all his divine Sermons, acquainted with all his retirements; he, whose feet his Master with love tenderness had washed, who within a few hours before had supped with him, at that Supper of of solemnity and love, the Passover: this is he that is in the head of this crew: certainly this had in it an aggravation of sorrow to our Blessed Saviour, to be be­trayed by a Disciple. 2. The manner of it, he betrays him by a kiss; an emblem of homage and love is made use of to be the signal of scorn and contempt, as well as treachery and villany. 3. Again, the carriage of his Disciples, full of rash­ness, and yet of cowardize; they strike a Servant of the high Priest, and cut off his Ear, Matth. 26.57. which, had not the meekness and mercy of our Saviour pre­vented by a miraculous cure, might have added a blemish to the sweetness and in­nocence of his suffering: He rebukes the Rashness of his Disciple, and cures the wound of his Enemy: again, of Cowar­dize, Matth. 26.56. Then all the disciples forsook him and sled; and Peter himself, that but now had professed the resolution of [Page 202]his love to his Master, follows, but a far off, Matth. 26.58. in the posture and pro­fession of a stranger and a spectator. So soon was the love and honour of a Ma­ster, deserved by so much love, and purity, and miracles, lost in the Souls of the very Disciples.

After this he is brought to the high Priests, the solemn assembly of the then visible Church of the Jews, in the persons of the greatest reverence and esteem among them, the high Priests, Scribes and El­ders; and before them accused, and con­victed of those crimes that might render him odious to the Jews, Romans, and all good men, Blasphemy, and by them pro­nounced worthy of death, Matth. 26.66. and after this, exposed to the basest usage of the basest of their retinue; the Servants spit on him, buffet him, ex­pose him to scorn, saying, Prophesie unto us, thou Christ, who is he that smote thee, Matth. 26.67. injuries less tollerable than death to an ingenuous nature: and, to add to all the rest, Peter instead of re­proving the insolence of the abjects, and bearing a part with his Master in his inju­ries, thrice denying his Master, and that with an oath, and cursing. So far was he from owning his Master in his adversity, [Page 203]that he denied he knew him; and this in the very presence of our Saviour, Luk. 22.61. and the Lord turned and looked upon Pe­ter; certainly that look of our Saviour, as it carried a secret message of a gentle reprehension, so also of much sorrow, and grief in our Lord: as if he should have said, ‘Ah Peter, canst thou see thy Sa­viour thus used, and wilt thou not own me? Or if thou wilt not, yet must thou needs deny me, deny me thrice, deny me with oathes, and with execrations? The unkindness of a Disciple, and such a Disci­ple, that hast been privy to my Glory in my Transfiguration, and to my Agony in the Garden, cuts me deeper than the scorns and derision of these abjects. But that's not all, this apostacy of thine, these denials, these oathes, these execrations, will lye heavy upon me anon, and add to that unsupportable burden that I am under; the Thorns, and the Whips, and the Nails, that I must anon suffer, will be the more envenomed by these Sins of thine; and thou castest more gall into that bitter Cup, that I am drinking, than all the malice of mine enemies could do. In sum, though thou goest out, and weepest bitterly, yet these Sins of thine would stick unto thy Soul unto eternity, [Page 204]if I should not bear them for thee; they cost thee some tears, but they must cost me my blood’.

The next morning the high Priests and Elders hold a second consultation, as soon as it was day, Luk. 22.66. their malice was so sollicitous, that they prevent the mor­ning Sun; and after they had again exa­mined him, and in that Council charged him with Blasphemy, the Council and the whole multitude lead him bound to Pilate; and there they accuse him, and, to make their accusation the more gracious, charge him with Sedition against the Romans; and though he had no other advocate but silence and innocence, for he answered them nothing; yet the Judge acquits him, Luk. 23.23. I find no fault in him; and yet, to shift his hands of the employ­ment, and to gratifie an adversary, he sends him to Herod, and his accusers follow him thither also, Luk. 23.10. the chief Priests and Scribes vehemently accuse him: Herod when he had satisfied his curiosity in the sight of Jesus, to add to the scorn of our Saviour, exposeth him to the derision of his rude Souldiers, and cloathes him in a gorgeous Robe, and remands him to Pilate. Thus in triumph and scorn he is sent from place to place: first to Annas; then to [Page 205] Caiphas; then convented before the Coun­cil of the Priests; then sent into the high Priest's Hall; then re-convened before the Council; then sent bound to Pilate; and from thence to Herod; and from him back again to Pilate: and in all those trans­lations from place to place, exposed unto, and entertained with new scorns, and de­risions, and contempts.

At his return to Pilate, he again the se­cond time declares his Innocence; that neither he nor Herod found any thing worthy of death, Luk. 23.15. and yet to gratifie the Jews, he offers to have him scourged, whom he pronounceth innocent; yet to avoid the gross injustice of a sen­tence of death offers to release him, to ob­serve their custom; but this could not not satisfie: To preserve their custom, and yet to fulfil their malice, they choose the reprieve of Barabbas a murderer, and im­portune the crucifying of the innocent Jesus; and now the third time Pilate pro­nounceth him innocent, Luk. 23.22. and yet delivers [him] over to be crucified. The Executioners did it to the uttermost, and, and to add pain and scorn to his scourging, put upon him a Crown of thorns: and in this disguise of blood and contempt, he brings him forth, shews him [Page 206]to his prosecutors, Joh. 19.5. Behold the man; as if he should have said, ‘You Jews, that that have accused this man, must know I find no fault in him, yet to satisfie your importunity, I have delivered him over to the severest and vilest punishment next unto death, Scourging and Scorn; here he is, see what a spectacle it is, let this satisfie your Envy’. But all this will not serve, there is nothing below the vilest of deaths can satisfie; all cry out, Crucifie him: and when yet the Judge professeth he finds nothing worthy of death, they impose a Law of their own; We have a law, and by our law he ought to dye, because he made himself the Son of God. But when this rather made the Judge the more cau­tious, they engage him upon his fidelity to Casar his Master: He that maketh himself a King, speaketh against Casar: But all this was not enough; but at length the importunity of the Priests and people pre­vailed: and Pilate who had been before warned by the monition of his Wife, and had these several times pronounced him innocent, yet against the conviction of his own Conscience, to satisfie and content the Jews, adds this farther cruelty and un­justice to what he had before done, gave sentence that it should be as they required, [Page 207] Luk. 23.24. delivered him over to that cursed and servile death of Crucifixion: and yet his persecutors malice and envy not satisfied; but, after his judgment, pursue the execution of it with as great malice, scorn, and cruelty, as they had before used in ob­taining it: His Crown of thorns upon his head; a purple Robe upon his body; the Blood of his scourging and thorns all co­vering his visage; a Reed in his right hand; and the base and insolent multitude with spittings, and strokes, and reproaches, abusing him, till his Cross be ready: and then the purple Robe is taken off, and he conducted to the place of his Execution; and, to add torment to his shame, our Blessed Lord, wearied with an agony and long watching the night before; and from the time of his apprehending hurried from place to place; and his blood and spirits spent with the scourging, and thorns, and blows; and, which is more than all this, a soul within laden with a weight of sorrow, and the burden of the wrath of God, which did drink up and con­sume his spirits: yet, in this condition, he is fain to bear his burdensom Cross to­wards the place of his Execution, Joh. 19.17. till he was able to carry it no longer, but even fainted under it; and [Page 208]then Simon of Cyrene is compelled to bear it to the place.

When he comes to the place of Exe­cution, he is stript stark naked, and his clothes afterwards divided by lot among the Souldiers, Matth. 27.35. and his na­ked body stretched upon the Cross to the uttermost extension of it, Psal. 22.17. I may tell all my bones, they look and stare upon me: and at the uttermost extension, which the cruel Executioners could make of our Saviour's body, his hands and his feet nailed to that Cross, with great Nails through those tender parts full of nerves and arteries, and most exquisitely sensible of pain. And in this condition the Cross with our Saviour's body is raised up in the view of all; and, that even in this his execution, that the shame and ignominy of the manner of his death might have a farther accession of scorn and reproach, he is placed between two Thieves, that were crucified with him, with an In­scription of derision upon his Cross, in all the most universal Languages of the World, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; and the people and Priests standing by with gestures and words of derision, Matth. 27.39, 43. and, even to a letter, assuming those very gestures and words, which were [Page 209]so many hundreds of years predicted in the Passion-Psalm 22.78. He trusted in God, let him deliver him, if he will have him; and one of those very Thieves, that was even dying as a malefactor, yet was filled with such a devilish spirit, that he upbraids and derides him.

And now our Saviour is under the tor­ments and shame of this cursed execution: but, though these his sufferings of his body and outward man, were very grievous, in so much that it could not but extremely afflict him; yet it is strange to see how little he was transported under them, in all his contumelies, reproaches and accusa­tions, scarce a word answered: He answered them nothing in all his abusings, strokes, ridiculous garments, crown of thorns, tearing of his body with scourging; yet not a word; but, As a sheep before the shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth; Isa. 53.7. in all his rackings upon the Cross, and nailing of his limbs to it, and all the anguish that, for the space of six hours, from the third hour, wherein he was crucified, Mar. 15.25. until the ninth hour, wherein he gave up the ghost, Matth. 27.46. not a word of complaint; but he refused those very supplies which were usually given to suppress the violence of [Page 210]the pain, vinegar and gall. Matth. 27.34. But when we come to the Afflictions of his Soul, they were of a higher dimension in the Garden when no other storm was upon him, but what was within him: He falls down upon his face and prayes; and again; and a third time; and is ama­zed, and sorrowful to death; and sweats drops of blood: and doubtless whiles he was under the reproaches, and buffetings, and whippings, and thorns, he was not without a terrible and confused sadness and heaviness within, which though they did not mitigate the torments of his body, yet they did infinitely exceed them. The spirit and the soul is most exquisitely sen­sible, and it is that which feels the pains inflicted upon the body. Certainly there­fore the wound of the spirit it self, the fountain of sense, must needs be exceedingly grievous: And hence it was, that though all the injuries and torments of our Sa­viour could scarce wring a complaint from him, yet the weight of that wrath that lay upon his soul, now made an offering for sin, did wring from him those bitter and terrible cryes, that one would wonder should proceed from him, that was One with the Father; Matth. 27.46. My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me? From [Page 211]the sixth hour to the ninth darkness was over all the land, Matth. 27.45. such a darkness as bred an astonishment even in strangers and other Counties. The dark­ness of the World, though a suitable dress for such a time wherein the Son of God must dye, and the Sun of Righteousness be eclipsed; yet it was nothing in compa­rison of that dismal shadow, that covered our Saviour's soul all this time. About the ninth hour our Saviour cryed that bitter cry, My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me? manifesting the depth of his sorrow, and the perfect sense he had of it; why hast thou forsaken me? more could not have been suffered or been said; every word carries in it an accent of horror. Thou, that art the great God, from whom, and in whom every thing hath its being and comfort; surely if in thy presence is ful­ness of joy, in thy withdrawings must be fulness of horror, and confusion; and yet it is thou that hast forsaken me. For­saken: Hadst thou never been with me, as I had not known the blessedness of thy fruition, so I could not have mea­sured the extremity of my loss; the excess of the happiness that I had in thy presence, adds to the excess of my misery in the suffering of thy absence. Forsaken me: [Page 212]not withdrawn thy self to a distance, but forsaken me; and forsaken me at such a time as this, when I stand more in need of thy presence than ever; when I am forsaken of my countrey-men, of my kindred, of my Disciples: then to be forsaken of thee, when I am under the shame, and pains of a cruel, and a cursed death; under the scorns, and derisions of those that hate me; under the weight, and pressure of all the sins of the world; under the struglings with terrors in my soul, sent from thy mighty hand; under the visible approach of death, the king of terrors; under a vail of darkness with­out, and the seeming triumph of the power of darkness within; then to be forsaken, and forsaken of thee, whom I had only left to be my support. Forsaken Me: It is not a stranger that thou for­sakest; it is thy Son; thy only Son; in whom thou didst heretofore proclaim thy self well pleased: that Son whom though thou now forsakest, yet forgets not his duty unto thee, nor dependance upon thee; but still layes hold on thee: and though thou shakest me off, yet I must still [call] upon thee, with the humble confidence of My God, My God still. why hast thou forsaken me? To be forsaken, and [Page 213]to be forsaken of God, of my God; of him that is not only my God, but my Father; and that at such a time; and yet not to know why.’ Oh blessed Saviour, the Pro­phets that spake by thy own Spirit did tell thee why: and that very Psalm, out of which thou takest this bitter cry, doth tell thee why: and thou thy self within some few days, or hours before, didst tell us why; and dost thou now ask why? Didst thou not choose even that which thou now groanest under; and wert willing to put thy soul in our souls stead, and bear the sin of those which are now thy burden? Certainly we may, with all humility and reverence conceive, that at the time of this bitter cry, our Saviour's soul was, for the pre­sent, over-shadowed with so much asto­nishment and sorrow, that it did for the present over-power and cover the actual and distinct sense of the reason of it; at least in that measure and degree in which he suffered. This cry of our Saviour was about the ninth hour, a little before his death; and having fulfilled one Prophecy in this terrible cry, contained in the very words of Psal. 22. he fulfills another; he saith, I thirst, Joh. 19.28. and presently they give him vinegar to drink. And between this and his death there intervene [Page 214]these passages: 1. His proclaiming to the world, that the work of our Redemption was finished; Joh. 19.30. When he received the vinegar, he said, It is finished. 2. A second cry with a loud voice, Matth. 27.50. the words are not expressed of his se­cond cry; only both Evangelists, Mat­thew and Luke, testifie it was a cry with a loud voice; to evidence to the world that, in the very article of his giving up of the ghost, the strength of nature was not wholly spent, for he cryed with a loud voice. 3. The comfortable resignation of his soul unto the hands of his Father, Luk. 23. 46. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: And although, but even now the black storm was upon his soul, that made him cry out with that loud and bitter cry, yet the cloud is over, and with comfort he deli­vers up his soul into the hands of that God, whom he thought, but even now, had forsaken him. It is more than probable that that bitter cry was uttered at the very Zenith of all his pains, and when he had taken the vinegar, and proclaimed that it is finished; though they were all wrapt up in a very small time, about the end of the ninth hour, yet now there remained no more, but for him to give up his spirit, which he instantly thereupon did, Joh. [Page 215]19.30. He said, It is finished, he bowed the head, and gave up the ghost. Now the things wonderfully observable in the death of our Sa­viour are many. 1. That it was a volun­tary delivering up of his spirit: this is that which he said, Matth. 10.18. No man ta­keth it from me, but I lay it down: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again: this commandment have I re­ceived of my Father. And truly this volun­tary delivering up of his soul, was well near as great an evidence of his Divinity, as his resuming it again: so that this very delivering up of his soul converted the Centurion, Mar. 15.39. When he saw that he so cryed and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. Now that he thus voluntarily gave up his spirit is evident; 1. By the strength of nature, that was yet upon him, in the very article of his death, he cryed with a loud voice: 2. That the Thieves, who were crucified at the same time, dyed not till there was a farther violence used by breaking their legs, Joh. 19.32. [but] he expired to pre­vent the violence of the Souldiers, and to fulfill the type and prophecy; Not a bone of him shall be broken. Joh. 19.36.3. That the suddenness of his death caused admi­ration in those, that well knew the lingring [Page 216]course of such a death; in the Centurion, Mar. 15.39. in Pilate, Mar. 15.44. which might probably be the cause that the inso­lent Souldier, to secure the assurance of his death, pierced his side with a spear, Job. 19.34. and thereby fulfilled that other Scripture which he never thought of. Job. 15.37.

Now the wonderful occurrences that accom­panied our Saviour's death were very many, and considerable. 1. A strange, and par­ticular Fulfilling of the Prophecies, and Types, that were concerning our Saviour's death, and the very individual circumstances that attended it; and all to consirm our Faith, that this was indeed the Messias, and that he was thus delivered over to death, by the most certain and pre-determinate Coun­sel of God: The Time of his Death so exactly predicted by Daniel, ch.9.v.25, 26. the parallel circumstances with the Paschal Lamb, Isa. 53.7. in the nature of him, a Lamb without spot, Exod. 12.5. in the time of his delivery over to death, at the Feast of the Passover, and the very evening wherein the Passover was to be eaten: In the Manner of his Oblation, not a bone to be broken, Exod. 12.46. again, the Manner of his Death, by piercing his hands and his feet, Psal. 22.16. the [Page 217]very Words used by him, Psal. 22.1. Matth. 27. 46. the Words used of him, Psal. 22.8. Matth. 27.43. the crucifying of him be­tween Malefactors, Isa. 53.12. the Whip­pings, Isa. 53.5. the Dividing of his Gar­ments, and casting Lotts upon his Vesture, Psa. 22.18. the Thirst of our Saviour upon the Cross; and the giving him Vine­gar and Gall, Psal. 69.21.

2. A strange and miraculous Concussion of nature, giving testimony to the won­derful, and unheard of dissolution of our Saviour's body and soul; Darkness from the sixth hour until the ninth hour. And it is observable in the night wherein he was born, by a miraculous light the night became as day, Luk. 2.9. but at his death, a miraculous darkness turned the day in­to night for three hours; Matth. 27.45. at his birth, a new Star was created to be the lamp and guide unto the place of his birth, Matth. 2.9. but at his death, the Sun in the firmament was masked with darkness, and yielded not his light, while the Lord of life was passing into the vail of death. Again, another prodigy that accompanied the death of Christ was an Earthquake, that rent the rocks, and opened the graves, and strake amazement and conviction into the Centurion, that [Page 218]was watching him, Math. 27.52, 53, 54. When our Saviour was entring into the earth by death, the earth trembled; and so it did when he was coming out of it by his Resurrection. Matth. 28.2.

3. Again, the Graves were opened, and the dead bodies of the Saints arose: As the touch of the bones of Elisha caused a kind of resurrection, 2 Kings 13.21. so our Sa­viour's body, new saln to the earth, did give a kind of particular resurrection to the Saints bodies, to testifie that by his death he had healed the deadliness of the Grave, and that the satisfaction for Sin was accomplished, when Death, the wages of Sin, was thus Conquered.

4. Again, the Vail of the Temple was Rent in twain from the top to the bottom, Matth. 27.57. the Vail was that, which divided the most holy place from the rest of the Tabernacle, Exod. 26.33. and in that most Holy place were contained the mysterious Types, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Mercy-Seat; and within this Vail only the high Priest entred once a year, when he made an atonement for the People and for the Tabernacle, Levit. 16.33. Heb. 9.7. and now at our Saviour's death, this vail was rent, from the top to the bottom; and it imported divers very great Mysteries: [Page 219]1. That now our great High Priest was entring into the most holy, with his own blood, having thereby made the atonement for us; Heb. 9.12. By his own blood, he entred once into the most holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 2. That the Means, whereby he entred into the most holy place, was by the Rending of his Humanity, his soul from his body, typified by the rending of that vail; and therefore his flesh, that is, his whole humane nature, was the vail, Heb. 10.20. Consecrated through the vail, that is, his flesh. 3. That now by the death of Christ all those dark Mysteries vailed up formerly in the most holy, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Mercy-Seat, are now rendred open, and their Mysteries unfolded. Christ, the Mediator of the Covenant, and the Seat of Mercy and Acceptation, unto all believers founded and seated upon him, and thereby that Life and Immorta­lity, which was wrapt up in the mysteries of the Old covenant, and yet those my­steries vailed, and inclosed up, within the vail, is now brought to light through the Gospel, 2 Tim. 1.10. and the vail rent in twain, that as well the meaning of those mysteries and types under the Law is dis­covered. 4. That now the use of the Ce­remonial Law is at an end, the greatest [Page 220]and most sacred mystery of the Tabernacle, and indeed of the whole ceremonial Law, was this that was within the vail, the most holy place, wherein were the most holy and revered mysteries, the Ark and the Mercy-Seat: But now the vail is rent, the use abolished, the covenant of the people is given; the Body of Christ, typi­fied by the Temple, separated, and so the use of the other Temple, Tabernacle and the holy Places, Vessels, Instruments there­of ceased. 5. That now the Kingdom of Heaven, the most Holy Place, is open unto all believers: Christ our High Priest is entred in with his own blood, and hath not closed the vail after him, but rent it in sunder, and made and left a passage for all believers to follow him, with our prayers and access to the glorious God, and here­after in our persons; Heb. 10.19, 20. Ha­ving therefore bloldness to enter into the Ho­liest, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he bath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; let us draw near with a true heart.

And now we have gone thus far with our Lord unto his death, we shall follow him to his Grave. Joseph of Arimathea, having an honorable mention by all four Evangelists, Matth. 27.57. a rich man, [Page 221]and Jesus disciple; Mar. 15.43. an hono­rable Counsellor, who waited for the Kingdom of God; Luk. 23.50 a Coun­sellor, a good man and a just, who had not consented to the counsel or deed of the Jews, and waited for the Kingdom of God; Joh. 19.38. a disciple of Christ, but secretly for fear of the Jews: this man manifested his faith, and love to his Master, when he was in his lowest condition; goes to Pilate boldly, and begs his Saviour's body; he wraps it in a clean linnen cloth, laid it in a Tomb provided for himself, and hewed out of the rock, and rolled a great stone upon the door of the Sepulchre. And as by his death with the malefactors, so by his burial in this rich man's Sepulchre, he fulfilled both parts of the Prophecy, Isa. 53.9. He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. The high Priests continued their malice, and their jealousie, even against the dead body of our Saviour; and, to secure themselves against the suspition of his Resurrection the third day, take order for making the Sepulchre sure, till the third day was past, Matth.27.60. they seal the stone and set a watch. And it is very Observable, how the almighty Counsel of God made use of the very ma­lice and jealousie of these people, for the [Page 222]confirming of his own truth, Christ's Re­surrection, and our Faith; Their malicious and curious industry, to prevent the pos­sibility of a fictitious Resurrection, abun­dantly and uncontrollably convincing the reality of our Saviour's death and true Resurrection. He is laid in the grave the evening of the day wherein he suffered; a Stone rolled upon the mouth of the grave, such as required a considerable strength to remove it, insomuch that the women that came the first day of the week to embalm the body, were in a great diffi­culty how it should be removed; Mar. 16.3. for it was a Great stone; Matth. 27.60. and this stone Sealed: and, as if all this were too little, and the bonds of death and the grave were too weak, they add a Watch of Souldiers to secure the body. Matth 27.66. And here we leave for a while our Saviour's body interred with Spices, Joh. 19.39. in a new Sepulchre, wherein never before any lay, Joh. 19.41. hewen out of a rock in the garden, Joh. 19.42. that as in the garden, death at first laid hold of the first Adam, so in the gar­den the second Adam undergoes the state of death, and gains the victory over the grave: his agony in a garden, and his in­terrment in a garden; his body rests in the [Page 223]grave, and his soul translated into Para­dise; for so he witnessed of himself, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise: Luk. 23. 43. For at the instant of his dissolution our Satisfaction was made; and the work of our Redemption, so far as it depended upon his suffering, finished: So that had it not been for a witness of the reality and truth of his death, and of the power and reality of his Resurrection, and the fulfil­ling of the decree of God, manifested in the Scriptures, he might have reassumed life in the next instant after his death: For the debt to the Justice of God was fully satisfied, and his continuance in the grave until the third day, was not by the power of death which he vanquished in the instant of his dissolution, but a voluntary subje­cting of himself unto that state, for the strengthening of our faith, and the fulfil­ling of the Scriptures.

And now we come to the Consideration of the Resurrection of our Lord; by which he was declared to be the Son of God with power; and by which the fulness and com­pleatness of our Redemption by him, is abundantly manifested. He chose that Time to dye, when the Passover was slain; that time wherein Adam was created, the sixth day of the week at even. He chose that [Page 224]time for his body to rest in the grave, and for his soul to rest in Paradise, wherein his Father rested from all the great work of the Creation; the seventh day of the week; and he chose that day to rise again, which his Father chose to begin the Crea­tion, the first day of the week; that the same day might bear the inscription of the Creation and of the Resurrection of the World: and that as in that day the Lord God brought light out of darkness, so this light, the light that enlightneth every man that comes into the world should arise from the land of darkness, the grave: This is the day that the Lord hath made, let us be glad and rejoyce therein. The Time of the Day, wherein our Lord arose, was very early in the morning of the first day of the week, as it began to dawn, Matth 21.1. while it was yet dark, or scarcely full light, Joh 17.1. And the Manner of it was full of wonder and asto­nishment. An Angel from heaven comes down to draw the curtain of our Savi­our's grave, and with an Earthquake rolls away the stone that covered it; the Keepers, who had watchfully observed the command of their Commanders, were stricken with astonishment, and became as dead. Matth. 28.2, 3, 4. Our Lord [Page 225]who had power to lay down his life, and power to take it up again, Joh. 10.17. re­assumes his body, which though it had tasted death, yet had not seen corruption, and ariseth, and thereby proclaimed the completing of our Redemption; and there­fore not possible he should be longer holden of it, Acts 2.24. his victory over death and the grave for us, 1 Cor. 15. When our Lord raised up Lazarus, he came forth of the grave bound hand and foot with grave-cloaths, Joh. 11.44. though he was for the present rescued from death by the power of Christ, yet he must still be a subject to it: he is revived, but yet riseth with the bonds of death about him; he must dye again: But when our Lord riseth, he shakes off his grave-cloaths; the linnen that wrapped his body in one place, and the linnen that bound his head in another, Joh. 20.6, 7. Our Lord being risen, dieth no more; death hath no more power over him. Rom. 6.9.

And thus we have considered the Hi­story of Christ's Passion and Resurrection, the first and second general Consideration: Who it was that suffered; and What it was he suffered. The Third Consideration follows.

3. From whom he suffered all these things, [Page 226]the consideration of which doth highly advance the Sufferings of Christ. 1. He suffered this from the hands of his Own Father; it was he, that bruised him, put him to grief, made his soul an Offering for Sin, Isa. 53.10. it was he, that reached him out this bitter cup to drink, Joh. 18.11. The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink? it was he, that bound that burden so close upon him, that made him sweat great drops of blood in the garden, and though thrice importu­ned for a dispensation from it, yet would not grant it: it was he, that, when the greatest extremity of pain and sorrow lay upon him, to add thereunto, withdrew the sense of his presence from him, which wrung from him that bitter cry, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? The injuries of an Enemy are easily born, but the forsakings of a Father are intollerable. 2. The immediate Instruments and Con­trivers of his suffrerings, were such as had a nearness of relation to him; people of the same Nation, and his kinsmen accord­ing to the flesh; the seed to Abraham; people of his own Religion; that worship­ped the same God; acknowledged the same Seripture; the visible Church of God; and chief representatives of that Church; most [Page 227]eminent in place, reputation, and pretence of holiness; the chief Priests, and Elders, and Scribes: people that he had never in­jured in his life; but obliged them with his many miraculous cures, his precious and heavenly instructions, his tenderest and dearest love and compassion: That very Jerusalem, which he wept over, and would have gathered as a hen gathereth her Chicken under her wings, is now that brood that seeks the destruction of him, that came to save them; and in that vile competition offered to them between their Redeemer and a murderer, chose rather to save a malefactor, and to deliver their innocent and merciful Saviour: And these were they that, beyond the examples even of common humanity, pursued their Kins­man, their Benefactor, their Redeemer with such exact bitterness, and malice, and scorn, and cruelty, that as it seemed barbarous to the heathen Judge, so it hath out-gone the practice of the heathenish Tyrants: Psal. 55.12. It was not an enemy that reproached me, then could I have born it, but it was thou, mine acquaintance.

4. Let us consider How he suffered all these things; and this doth infinitely advance the Excellence and Value of his Suffering. 3. He Suffered Innocently; Isa. 53.9. he [Page 228]had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth, yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him: 2 Cor. 5.21. he made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: the companions of his suffering justifie him, Luk. 23.41. We indeed justly, but this man hath done nothing amiss: his Persecutors justifie him; and yet their malice rested not, but sought out false witness against him, Math. 26.60. and when they themselves were convinced of their own injustice, in prosecution of an innocent, yet what they could not avouch upon the account of justice, they do upon the point of expedience; Joh. 18.14. Caiaphas gives them counsel, that it was expedient that one should dye for the people: Judas that betrayed him, justified him; Matth. 24.4. I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood: his Judge acquits him; and in a signal testimony of his judgment, Matth. 27.24. He took water, and washed his hands before the mul­titude, saving, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: and yet though, in testi­mony of the satisfaction of his judgment, he washeth his hands in water before them, yet he condemns the person that he ac­quits, and stains those hands in the blood of our Lord, whom yet he pronounceth innocent. And this Innocence of our Sa­viour [Page 229]was not only a Negative Innocence, an absence of guilt, but a Positive Inno­cence; he suffered that had not only done no ill, but that had done nothing but good: he healed their sick, cured their lame, their blind, their deaf, their lepers, cast out their devils, and, which was more than all this, shewed them the way to Eternal Life, to the saving of the Souls of many, and the convincing of the Con­sciences of all that heard him, Joh. 7.46. Never man spake like this man: And well might he ask as once he did, upon ano­ther occasion, For which of all my good works do ye stone me, do ye crucifie me? ‘Blessed Lord, they crucifie thee for all thy good works: if thou hadst been guilty, possibly thou mightest have been spared in the stead of Barabbas; nay if thou hadst been only innocent, it is pos­sible thy persecutors might not have been altogether so violent against thee: but thou sufferedst for the very good thou diddest; it was not only an act of inju­stice that spared not thy innocence, but an improvement of envy that did ma­lign thy very goodness.’ Math. 27.18. For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

2. He suffered all Patiently; Isa. 53.7. [Page 230] He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth: Betrayed by his Disciples, hurried away by the black guard that apprehended him, re­proached and vilified by the high Priests and Elders, forsaken and denied by his followers, stricken, spit upon, and basely injured by the abjects in the high Priests Hall, deri­ded by Herod, insulted upon by Pilate; Knowest thou not that I have power to con­demn thee? whipt, cloathed in scorn with purple, and crowned with a crown of thorns, and in that disguise saluted in scorn with Hail King of the Jews: forced to bear his burdensom Cross, which must after­wards bear him; and then, as one of the basest of men and vilest of malefactors, nailed to the Cross with most exquisite torment; and then, by one of his compa­nions in death, by the general rabble that were about, [him,] by the superstitious Scribes and Elders, reproached as a blasphe­mer, as an impostor: and yet in the midst of all this usage, scarce a word spoken, and those that he spake, not savouring of any impatience, or complaint against his persecutors, but full of mildness, gentle­ness, sweetness, goodness, and whiles his [Page 231]persecutors are busie in revilings and tor­mentings, he as industrious to pray for them; Luk. 23.34. Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.

3. Which is yet a higher step, he suf­fered all this Willingly and Cheerfully: Joh. 10.18. No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of my self; Luk. 12.50. I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitned till it be fulfilled? and this willing­ness of our Lord's suffering appears in these particulars: 1. In that when he had power to prevent it, and to rescue himself from the insolence of his persecutors, yet he useth it not: one Angel armed by commis­sion from God in one night destroyed a vast Army of the Assyrians; and upon the desire of our Lord no less than twelve le­gions were ready for his Guard: but yet this must not be; How then shall the Scri­ptures be fulfilled? Matth. 27.53, 54. When the company that were sent to apprehend him heard those words, I am he, they went backward and fell to the ground, Joh. 18.6. the same power by which they fell, could have so bound them never to have risen again; but our Lord, though he ma­nifested this power to evidence his Divi­nity, yet he useth it not so far as to im­pede his Passion; and, as it were, resumes [Page 232]and calls back that manifestation of his Deity, lest it might be a means to inter­rupt the service which he was about to perform for mankind. He asked them again, whom sock ye? 2. In that he corrects and checks all things that might be either an impediment of his passion, or that might, in the least degree, betray an unwilling­ness for him to undergo it. Doubtless there was an adequate representation unto him of the dreadfulness of that conflict he was to undergo with the wrath of God, and yet upon all occasions he corrects that sear and those sad apprehensions which caused his humane nature to shrink at it; Job. 12.27. Father, save me seem this hour, but for this cause came I to this hour; Matth. 26.39. Fa­ther, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt: That even whiles the infirmity of his humane nature started at the apprehen­sion of what he was to suffer, and prayed against it, yet the freeness and purity of his obedience carried [him] on to it, and made him, as it were, un-pray what he had before prayed: And though his soul startled at the discovery of that dismal vale that he was now to pass through, yet his love to mankind and his resolution of obedience to his Father's will carried [him] [Page 233]on with willingness to suffer that which he [was] troubled to see: again, how doth he check all impediments to his suf­fering; he foreseeth shame and pain, he arms himself against both, Heb. 12.2. with patience against the latter, he endured the Cross; with resolution against the former, he despised the shame: again, when Peter began to play the Politician in advising our Lord to decline his suffering, how severely doth he take him up? Get thee behind me; the cup which my Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it? again, when the for­ward zeal of the Disciple drew his Sword, and cut off a Servant of the high Priest's Ear, our Lord checks the assailant, and cures the wound; lest any thing should re­tard the execution of that thing for which he came into the world, or import the least argument of backwardness in him to undergo it. Matth. 26.52. Joh. 18.11. It is very observable to see how Pilate was ready to fluctuate upon every occasion, and shisted from place to place, and from point to point, to decline the condemna­tion of our Lord: when he answered him nothing, he marvelled, and was at a stand upon his silence, Matth. 27.14. when he heard his accusation to be, because he made himself the Son of God, he was the more [Page 234]afraid; Joh. 19.8. he had secret checks from his own Conscience, and weighty advertisements from his Wife, that doubt­less did put him to a great perplexity of mind, which was scarcely conquerable by the importunity of the Jews: And, if in the midst of this unresolvedness and hesi­tancy of mind, our Saviour should in any one answer of his [have] sent forth that majesty and strength of conviction, that he could easily, and upon former occasions had done, certainly the Jews must have expected the coming of another deputy to have been the executioner of this purpose: But our Lord was so far from declining this great work of our Redemption by his blood, that he seems purposely to decline that majesty of speech, wherewith he could have confounded his Judge; and either answered him with silence, or with such expressions, as might not too much affright him from the proceeding in that sad em­ployment; Joh. 19.11. Thou couldct have no power at all against me, unless it were given thee of God. Though he blamed the malice of his accusers, he admits and asserts the authority of his Judge.

5. Let us consider For whom he suffered all this. 1. The Persons for whom he suf­fered deserved it not: The expressions of [Page 235]the Scripture [are] full in this, Rom. 5. 7, 8. Peradventure for a good man some would even dare to dye; but God commendeth his love towards us in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us; the objects upon which he looked upon in his sufferings were darkness, Eph. 5.8. Children of wrath, Eph. 2.3. Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. Ephes. 2.12. See but what a monster the best of us were in our natural condition, when every power of our Soul and Body [was] quite corrupted from the use and end, for which they were made. Rom. 3.9, 10, &c. 2. As it was for those that de­served it not, nor any deliverance by it, so it was for a company of creatures that were no way solicitous for, nor sought after redemption; such as were ignorant of their own misery, and no ways endeavouring after mercy. Thus He was found of them that sought him not; and surely little seeking could be found of such as were in such a condition, Eph. 2.1. Dead in trespasses and sins. 3. Not only for those that neither deserved, nor sought after deliverance, but his sufferings were for those that were Ene­mies; Rom. 5.10. If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his [Page 236]son; Col. 1.21. And you that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath be reconciled: And the Enmity was so perfect that it corrupted the best habits of our minds, and turned those into an abstracted kind of enmity; the very wisdom of the flesh, earthly, sensual and devilish. Jam 3.15. So that there was not only in our [nature] an absence of any good that might move God to do any thing for us, and an absence of that life that might be sollicitous for it self; but there was a positive malignity in our nature against that God, that should par­don; against that Christ that should satis­fie; against that Grace and Spirit that should apply: We were actuated with those vile affections and lusts, that looked upon a Saviour with no less aversion and spite, than those devils did, that cryed out of the possessed man, Art thou come to torment us before our time? And yet for these, and such as these, our Saviour dyed; nay some of these (who) had actually their hands in his blood, Heb 12.24. found the efficacy of that very blood, which they shed, not crying for revenge against them, but for merey for them, and healing those who had cruelly spilt it; the efficacy of that blessed prayer of his; Father, for­give [Page 237]them, they know not what they do, with­in some few months after his death, did first wound their hearts with a sense of their guilt, and then healed them with the infusion of his blood. Act. 2.23, 37.

6. From the consideration of the former particulars, it will easily appear what was the Motive of this great work. We have seen in the creature [nothing] but sin and enmity against God, and consequently a just obligation to Everlasting wrath and misery: so there we can find nothing that might upon any account of merit or desert draw out such merey as this. We must seek for the motive in the Author of it; and in him there was no necessity at all to bind him to it: It was his own free will that at first gave man a being, and a bles­sed being; and when he had sinned against the law and condition of his Creation, there was a necessity of justice for his eter­nal punishment, but no necessity at all for his Restitution. God made all things for his glory, not because he stood in need of it; for he had in himself an infinite self-sufficiency and happiness, that stood not in need of the glory of his creation, nor was capable of an accession by it: And if it had, yet the great God could have enjoyed the glory of his justice, in [Page 238]the everlasting punishment of unthankful man, and yet had glorious creatures e­nough, the blessed Angels, to have been the everlasting partakers and admirers of his goodness: And if there had been yet an absolute necessity of visible intellectual creatures, to be the participants of his goodness, and the active instruments of his glory; the same power that created man at first, could have created a new gene­ration of men, that might have supplied the defection of our first parents and their descendants. What then is the original of all this goodness to poor sinful man? to purchase such a worthless creature at such an invaluable price as the blood of the Son of God? Nothing but Love; free unde­served love; love that loved before it was sought; that loved when it was rejected: Deut. 7.7. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more; but because the Lord loved you; he loved you because he loved you: As Almighty could not define himself by any thing but him­self, I am that I am, Exod. 3.14. so he can resolve his love into no other motive than his love; he loved you because he loved you: And here is the spring, the fountain of all this strange and unheard of goodness of God in Christ; nothing but [Page 239]the free love of God; Joh. 3.16. So God loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, &c. 1 Joh. 4.10. Here is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins; and that very same individual love that was in the Father to send, was in the Son to come, and to dye for us. It was he that loved and washed us with his own blood; washed us because he loved us. When we lay like Ezekiel's wretched infant, Ezek. 16.5, 6. polluted in our blood; when no eye pitied us, then this love of God passed by us, and said unto us, live; yea said unto us, when we were in our blood, live: And when that life was not acquirable for us, but by the death of the Eternal Son of God, then to purchase that life for us, he sold his own; and to wash us from the pollutions of our blood, freely spent and shed his own. This was The love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. Eph. 3.19.

7. Now let us consider the End and Scope of this admirable Love of Christ: and as it looks upward towards God, so it looks downward towards [us;] as he was the Mediator between both, so the end of his Mediatorship had a respect to both: 1. In reference to God, and so the Ends of our Lord's suffering were principally these:

1. To Restore unto Almighty God the active service and glory of his creature. Almighty God did at the first create man in such a constitution, that he might, not only passively and objectively, bring unto him the glory of his Power and Wisdom in the framing of such a creature, as the Heavens, the Stars and other creatures below an intellectual nature, do; but to be a beholder of himself and his works, to be an observer of his will, and to glorifie his Maker in the admiration of his Power, Wisdom and Goodness, and in the Obe­dience and Observance of his Law and will: and to his own glory had by an eternal bond annexed his creature's perfection and blessedness. Man rebelled, and thereby as he became unserviceable to the end of his creation, so he lost the blessedness of his condition: Christ came, and by his own blood purchased, as unto Man his blessed­ness, so unto God the glory and service of his creature: This was old Zachary's col­lection, Luk. 2. 74, 75. That we being deli­vered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness: Tit. 2. 14. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all ini­quity, and pur [...]sie unto himself a peculiar peo­ple zealous of good works. And this was the [Page 241]chief part of that account, that our Lord giveth unto his Father, in that blessed prayer that he made a little before his Passion, Joh. 17.4. I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. As if he should have said, ‘Thou hast sent me into the world about a great and weighty business, the restitution of thy fallen creature; and, that therein as thy creature may partake of thy goodness, so thou mayst reap the glory of thy creature's service: And now behold according to that command of thine, I here return unto thee thy creature healed and re­stored, that [it] may be as well a mo­nument, as a proclaimer of thy goodness and glory, unto all Eternity.’

2. To manifest unto Men and Angels the Glory and infinite Perfection and Ex­cellence of all his blessed Attributes: The glory of his Wisdom in contriving, and of his Power in effecting such a deliverance for the children of men, by a way that exceeded the disquisition of Men and An­gels; the glory of his Mercy, that could not have been possibly so conspicuous to mankind, if man had never faln. In the Creation of Man he manifested the glory of his Goodness, that communicated a [...]ing to him. that so he might communi­cate [Page 242]his goodness to him: But in the Re­demption of Man he manifested his Mercy in forgiving and healing a rebellious and miserable creature: the glory of his Justice, that would not pardon the Sin till he had a Satisfaction for the sin; that would not spare the Son, when he chose to be the surety for the sinner.

2. In reference to Man: and so the ends of our Lord's suffering were principally these:

1. To absolve and deliver him from guilt, the consequence of sin, and misery the fruit of guilt; Eph. 1.7. In whom we have re­demption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins: and surely had the fruit of Christ's death rested here, it had been a great de­gree of mercy; if we rightly weighed the heaviness of the burden of guilt, the seve­rity of the wrath of God, and the extre­mity of that misery that doth and must at­tend it. If a man under the guilt and horror of some hideous Treason, under the severe and inexorable sentence of the Law against [him,] under the imminent infli­ction of most exquisite and continuing tor­ments, should but hear of a Pardon and discharge from this, how welcome would it be, though the residue of his life were to be spent in exile? But our Lord's purchase rests not here.

2. To Reconcile God unto his Creature: So that it doth not only remove the effects of the anger of God, which is punishment; which may be removed, and yet the anger continuing: nor doth it only remove the anger of God, and leaves a man in a kind of state of indifferency, as it is between persons that never were acquainted one with another: But it is a state of Reconci­liation, Eph. 2.16. That he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; 2 Cor. 5. 19. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto him­self, not imputing their trespasses unto them. And certainly this is a great addition unto [the] former, that God in Christ should hot only pass by our sins, but should no longer look upon us as strangers, but as persons reconciled unto him: And surely a soul sensible of the unhappy condition of being estranged from God, how highly would he prize a state of reconciliation, though it were in the meanest and lowest relation? Luk. 15.19. I am no more worthy to be called thy son, make me as one of thy hired servants: So that I may not be estranged from thee, reconcile me unto thy self, though in the condition of thy meanest ser­vant. But neither doth the happy fruit of [...]ur Lord's suffering rest here.

3. To restore unto us that near and bles­sed relation of being Sons of God: Gal. 4.5. That we might receive the adoption of sons; 1 Joh. 3. 2. Behold now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. This was that dear expression of our Lord, after his resurrection, Joh. 20.17. Go to my brethren, and tell them I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and to your God: he seems to interess them in this blessed relation in a kind of equality with himself; my Brethren, my Father and your Father; and the sweet and comfortable consequents of this are incomparable. Is he my Father? then I know he can pity me as a Father pitieth his Children, Psal. 103.13. he can pardon and spare me as a Father spareth his Son that serves him. Mal. 3.17. Is he my Father? then whither should I go but to him for protection in all my dangers? for direction in all my difficulties? for satisfa­ction in all my doubts? for supply in all my wants? This I can with confidence expect from a poor earthly Father, according to the compass of his abilities: If ye then being evil know how to give good things unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him? Matth. 7.11. Mercy, and Com­passion, and Love, is a virtue in a man, [Page 245]in an earthly Father, a piece of that image of God which at first he imprinted in man; and yet passion and humane infir­mity, as it hath much weakened the ha­bit thereof in us, so it may suspend the exercise thereof to a near relation: But in Almighty God these virtues are in their perfection, and nothing at all in him that can remit it. Mercy and tenderness are attributes which he delights in; mercy pleaseth him; it was that great attribute that he proclaimed his name by, Exod. 34.6. and so diffusive is his mercy that it extends to all, he is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works, Psal. 145.9. and not only to the just and good, but even to the unkind; causing his Sun to shine upon the evil and the good: and surely he that hath Mercy and Goodness for an Ene­my, cannot deny it unto a Child. Can a mother forget her sucking child, &c. Yea she may forget; yet will I not forget thee, saith the Lord. Isa. 49.15.

4. To restore us to a most sure, ever­lasting and blessed inheritance in heaven. Gal. 4.7. If a son, then an heir of God through Christ: and here is the complement of all; not only absolved from the guilt of sin, reconciled to God, put into the relation of a Child of God; but after all this, to [Page 246]be everlastingly and unchangeably stated in a blessed condition unto all Eternity: and all this from the condition of a most vile, sinful, lost creature, and by such a price as the Blood of Christ. More need not, can­not be said.

5. And by what hath been said, it is easie to see what the Fruits and Effects of all this are. God will not be disappointed in the end of so great a work, and therefore we cannot be disappointed in the fruit of it; and those are either such as are enjoyed in this life, or principally appropriated to that which is to come. 1. Those Benefits that naturally arise from Christ crucified, and are enjoyed in this life, are these:

1. Justification and Acceptation in the sight of God: he looks upon us as those that [have] satisfied his justice when his Son suffered; and as those that performed his will, when his Son performed it: So that as our Lord imputed our fins to our Redeemer, so he imputes his righteousness unto us; and as he was well pleased with him, so he was well pleased in him, with as many as are received into this Cove­nant.

2. Peace with God. This is the natural consequence of the former, Rom. 5.1. Being justifica by faith, we have peace with God [Page 247]through our Lord Jesus Christ: the only cause of breach between God and his creature is sin, and this being quite removed, the enmity between God and his creature is removed, and peace and love restored be­tween them.

3. Free Access unto God: for we are re­stored unto peace with him, and conse­quently access unto him; and indeed it is a part of that duty which he expects from us: our access to him, is not only our pri­viledge, as the access of a Subject to his Prince, or a child to his father, but it is our duty, as a thing enjoyned unto us in testimony of our dependence and love unto him.

4. Consequently Peace with our selves and our own Conscience; and that upon a double ground: 1. Because our Conscience is sprinkled by the blood of Christ, which defaceth and oblitereth all those black Items, that otherwise would be continually cal­ling upon us. 2. Because Conscience ever sideth with God, whose vicegerent she is in the Soul, and hath the very same aspect, for the most part, that heaven hath, and therefore if it be clear above, it is ordina­rily quiet within; and if God speaks peace, the Conscience, unless distempered, doth not speak trouble.

5. An Assurance of a continual supply of sufficient Grace, to lead us through this vale of trouble, without a final apostacy or falling from him. Were our Salvation in our own hands, or managed by our own strength, we should utterly lose it every moment; but the Power, and Truth, and Love of God is engaged in a Covenant of the highest solemnity that ever was, sealed in the blood of the Son of God, for our preservation: and it shall be as impossible for us to fall from that condition, as for the Almighty God to be disappointed: No, his counsel and truth, the constant supply of the blessed Spirit of Christ, shall keep alive that seed of life, that he hath thrown into the soul. 1 Joh. 3.9. For his seed re­maineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

6. Sufficient Grace to preserve us from, or support us in, or deliver us out of temptations. We stand more in need of Grace, than we do of our bread; because the consequence of the want of the for­mer, is of more danger than the latter, by so much as the Soul is more valuable than the Body: If our Father is pleased to furnish us with our daily bread, v. Rom. 8.32. how shall he then deny us our daily and hourly supplies of his Grace? [Page 249]Especially since our interest therein is founded upon the covenant made in the blood of Christ. 2 Cor. 12.9. My grace is sufficient for thee.

7. A favourable Acceptation of our duties, since they are the performances of chil­dren; and therefore not measured accord­ing to their own worth, but according to the relation and affection from whence they proceed.

8. A Gentle and Merciful Pardoning of our Failings, even as a Father pitieth and pardoneth the infirmities of a Child; and though he doth not dispense with Pre­sumptuous Offences, yet he either observes not or forgives their many Infirmities. And it is a Priviledge of high concernment to us, that as in our first conversion, the blood of Christ washeth away a whole life of sins at once, so after our conversion the same fountain stands open, whereunto we may and must resort, to cleanse our daily Failings. Christ received by faith in the heart, is a continual Sacrifice, which I may present unto the Father, for my sins committed after my conversion.

9. A comfortable Restitution of a just Interest in the creatures. When man for­sook the Allegiance he owed to his Ma­ker, the interest he had in the creature [Page 250]did as it were escheat to the Lord: and though his goodness after permitted him the use of them, yet it was still, as it were, upon account: And as the sons of men have a great Account to give unto God for their sins, so they have for his creatures; Christ hath restored unto us a better pro­priety in that, which Civil right hath made ours, than what we had before.

10. A Comfortable and Sanctified Use of all Conditions: in Prosperity, Moderation; in Adversity, Contentedness; in all, So­briety. For as our Lord hath purchased for us Grace, to use all things aright; so he hath obtained for us an inheritance, that renders the best the world can give us, unworthy to be valued; and the worst it can give us, unworthy to be feared, in respect of the blessedness which he hath setled upon us.

11. Consequently Contempt of the World, because higher matters are in my eye, such as the best the world can yield, cannot equal; nor the worst it can inflict, cannot take away. And all this upon,

12. A Lively Hope: a hope that maketh not ashamed; even of that Glory which my Saviour came down from heaven to purchase by his blood; and the assurance whereof he hath sealed with his blood: [Page 251] Joh. 14.2, 3. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto my self, that where I am, ye may be also: A hope of a blessed Resurrection after death; a hope of that blessed appearance of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; a hope of that glo­rious sentence in the presence of Men and Angels, Come ye blessed; and an hope of an Everlasting estate of Blessedness and Glory in the presence of the great God, and the glorified Saints and Angels, unto all Eternity. And the efficacy of this hope dipt in the blood of Christ brings us Vi­ctory: 1. Victory over Sin. Sin shall not have do­minion over you, for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace: Rom. 6.14. He that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 1 Joh. 3.3.

2. Victory over the World, in the best it can afford us; its flatteries and favours: these are too small and inconsiderable, when compared with this hope; they shine like a Candle in the Sun; and are ineffe­ctual to win over a Soul that is fixed upon this hope; and victory over the worst the world can inflict: Our Lord hath con­quered the world in this respect for us: Be not afraid, I have overcome the world, Joh. [Page 252]16. 33. and conquered it in us; This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your Faith, 1 Joh. 5.4.

3. Victory over Death; which now, by means of this blessed hope is stript, as well of her terror as of her power: Thus thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15.57.

And now, though the nature of this argument hath carried my meditations to a great height, yet to avoid mistakes some things I must subjoyn.

1. That when I thus aggravate the suffer­ings of our Lord under the imputed guilt of the sins of mankind; yet we must not think, that his sufferings were the same with the Damned, as not in duration, so neither in kind, nor in degree; for this could neither consist with the purity of his Nature, nor innocence, nor dignity of his Person, nor the hypostatical union of both Natures in him: But he suffered as much as was con­sistent with these considerations; and, as considering the dignity of his person, was equivalent to the sin and demerits of all Mankind.

2. That his righteousness imputed to us, doth not exempt us from acquiring a righ­teousness inherent in us: this were to dis­appoint the end of his suffering, which [Page 253]was to redeem us from our vain conversati­on, and make us a peculiar people zealous of good works.

3. That this purchase of Salvation by Christ for Believers, is not to render them idle, or secure, or presumptuous; where there is such a disposition of Soul, it is an evident Indication, that it is not yet truly united unto Christ by true Faith and Love; his Grace is sufficient to preserve us, and al­wayes ready to do it, if we do not wilfully neglect or reject it.


I. JOH. V.4.‘For whosoever is born of God, over­cometh the world, and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith.’

THese things are herein considerable:

  • 1. The Act which is here de­clared, Victory or Overcoming.
  • 2. The Person that exerciseth this act, or concerning whom this act is affirmed, described by this description, a person that is born of God.
  • [Page 254]3. The Thing upon which this act of victory is exercised, viz. the world.
  • 4. The Instrument or Means, by which this act is exercised, viz. Faith..
  • 5. The Method or Order, or Formal Rea­son whereby faith overcometh this world.

Some few Observations I shall deliver touching all these in the order proposed.

I. Victory or Overcoming is a subjugation or bringing under an opposing party to the power and will of another: and this vi­ctory is of two kinds, complete and perfect, or incomplete and imperfect. 1. The notion of a complete victory is when either the opposing party is totally destroyed, or at least when despoiled of any possibility of future resistance: Thus the Son of God, the Captain of our Salvation overcame the World, Joh. 16.33. Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world; and thus when we are delivered from this body of death, we shall overcome the world: this com­plete victory will be the portion of the Church and Christian triumphant. Again, 2. There is a victory but incomplete, such as the victory of the children of Israel was over the Canaanites, which though they were subdued, as to any possibility of a total reacquiring of a superiority or equality of power, yet they were not sub­dued [Page 255]from a possibility of annoying, dis­quieting and rebelling; they remained still thorns to vex and disturb, though not to subdue their conquerors; there was still an over-ballance of power in the victors, though not wholly to extirpate them: And this is the condition of the Christian mili­tant in this world: he keeps the world in subjection, and every day gets ground upon it; but he cannot expect to obtain a per­fect, complete and universal conquest of it, till he can truly say with our Blessed Lord, Joh. 14.30. The prince of this world hath nothing in me: Which cannot be till our change comes; for till then we carry about with us lusts and passions and cor­ruptions; which, though with all vigi­lancy and severity kept under and daily impaired in their power and malignity, will hold a correspondence with the world and the prince thereof, and be ready to deceive and betray us, though never to regain their empire and sovereignty; and the reason is significantly given by the same Apostle, 1 Joh. 3.9. For his feed abideth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. Indeed he may and shall have sin as long as he hath flesh about him, 1 Joh. 1.8. If we say we have no sin, we deceive our selves, and the truth is not in us. But although we [Page 256]have sin still abiding in us, and like the the byass in (a) Bowl warping us to the world, yet that vital seminal principle of the grace of God in Christ always keeps its ground, its life, and tendency toward heaven, and wears out, wasts, and gra­dually subdues the contrary tendency of sin and corruption.

II. The Person exercising this act of vi­ctory and conquest, he that is Born of God. All men by nature may be said in some sense to be born of God; the Apostle tells the Athenians, Act. 17.28. We are all his off­spring: But in this place, this heavenly birth is a second, a supervenient birth from God, and hence it is called Regeneration, the New birth, birth of the water and the Spirit, birth of the Spirit, the for­mation of Christ in the soul; and the crea­ture so new born stiled the New creature, the New man, a partaker of the divine nature, born not of the will of man nor of the will of the flesh, but born of the will of God: And all these and the like expressions are figurative, and seem to carry in them a double analogy; first, to (the) first creation of mankind; and se­condly, to the ordinary generation of man­kind since their first creation: 1. As to the former analogy, we know by the Holy [Page 257]Word that the first man was the root of all mankind, stamped with the signature of the image of Almighty God, principally consisting in Knowledge, Righteousness and Holiness, and stood or fell as the com­mon representative of all mankind: This image of God was in a great measure lost and defaced by the fall of man, and more every day spoiled by the actual sins and acquired corruptions of his descendants: Christ the second Adam had instamped upon him a new inscription of the glorious God, came to be a common head, root, and parent of as many as are united unto him by faith, love, and imitation, and to instamp anew upon them that lost and de­cayed image of God; who thereby put on the New man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, Ephes. 4.24. and so becoming a New creature, 2 Cor. 5.17. Galat. 5.6. renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him, Coloss. 1.10. they receive a new stamp and impression from this great exemplar Christ Jesus the true image of the invisible God. 2. The second analogy is to the ordinary generation of mankind; wherein as a lit­tle, but powerful, vital principle, which we call the Soul, forms and moulds the foetus according to the specifical nature of [Page 258]man in all his lineaments and proportions, and never gives over its operation till it hath completed that bodily mass into its full complement of parts, and afterwards gradually augments and perfects it in his organs and faculties: So by a vital prin­ciple derived from God, through Christ, into the soul, the same is moulded, fa­shioned, formed, increased and perfected according to this new principle of life, which is usually called Grace: Whereby it comes to pass (that) as the soul is the vital and conforming principle of the body, so this grace is the very life, and vital and conforming principle of the soul: And hence this formative principle is called the life of the soul; the quickning spirit; and the conformation of the soul unto the will of God thereby is called the forming of Christ in them, the life of Christ, the in­dwelling of Christ in the heart by faith. And this new principle exerciseth in the soul all the acts analogical to that natural vital principle in the body, giving to it as it were the image, lineaments, proportion, increase conformable to the image of God in Christ, as true Wisdom, Righteousness, Justice, Holiness, Integrity, Love of God, Submission to his will, Dependance upon him, and translates them into all the com­municable [Page 259]relations that Christ himself had, and invests them in his communicable priviledges: If he be a Son of God by nature, so are they by By Adoption, and participa­tion of the Di­vine nature. 2 Pet. 1.4. interpretation; is he an heir of heaven? so are they coheirs with him; is he accepted of God? so are they; is he an heir of glory? so are they. And as this conformation of the body by this vital principle is perfor­med by a seminal principle (at least as the instrument of its activity) derived from the parent; so the analogy holds here: we find a double seminal principle in this conforma­tion, and both derived from Christ our head; viz. one External, another Internal. 1. The External seminal principle is the word and message of the Divine doctrine, exemplary and holy life, singular love of Christ and of God through him to man­kind, whereby we understand what he would have us do, the danger if we do otherwise, the blessed reward of obedi­ence, the great engagements of the love of God in sending his Son to dye for us, the plain, familiar, easie way of attaining of happiness; and because we often learn better by example than by precept, the same word exhibits to us a lively picture of his holy conversation, his humility, [Page 260]meekness, obedience, love, patience, good­ness: And this external means is in it self a great moral means to conform our wills and lives thereunto; and therefore it is called the incorruptible seed of the word of God whereby we are born again, 1 Pet. 1.23.2. The Internal seed is that Spirit of grace sent out from Christ, which doth derive a quickning lively power to the word and to the soul, whereby it makes it effectual to its end, and therefore called a Spirit of Life and Power, a Quickning Spirit: and this, not by transfusing a new substance or substantial nature which before it had not, but by its lively yet secret ope­rations changing and moulding it suitable to the image of him whose Spirit it is, and adding energy and efficacy to that other seed of the word, as the Sun doth to the seminal principles of vegetables and ani­mals.

III. Touching the Thing upon which this victory is obtained and conquest made, it is the world: which comprehends in its latitude a double world; the world within us, and the world without us.

The world within us, which may there­fore be so called principally in this respect, that a great part of its relation and ten­dency is toward the world, which is for [Page 261]the most part the object upon which it fixeth, the subject after which it reacheth, and the business upon which it fasteneth and exerciseth: and hence it is that the Apostle St John divides the world without us with relation to the world within us, viz. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. 1 Joh. 2.16. The world that is within us taketh in the two great fa­culties or powers, viz. 1. the Passions of the soul, and 2. the Sensual Appetite; both these are in their own nature good, placed in us by the wise God of Nature for most excellent ends and uses. Our business is therefore to keep in order and subjection, not to extirpate and root them out; for they are radicated in our nature by the God of Nature. But of this more particularly.

1. Our Passions: such as are Love, Hatred, Anger, Hope, Fear, Joy, Sorrow; these and the like passions of the humane Soul are not simply in themselves evil; nay, being rightly placed and duly ordered and regulated they become serviceable to excel­lent ends and uses; and therefore simply in themselves they are not the subject of a Christian's victory: But then they become such when they become the world in the Text, and that is principally in these Cases; 1. When they are misplaced; as when we [Page 262]love the things we should hate, hope for the things we should fear, rejoyce in that we should grieve, &c. or è converso. 2. When they are immoderate or excessive about their proper objects: which comes to pass, when in those things about which we may exer­cise our passions lawfully, we exceed that measure or proportion that is due to them: For instance, I may lawfully love a com­petency of worldly subsistence, but I ex­ceed in this, that I love it too much and beyond the worth that is truly in it: I may lawfully be angry with him that injures me, but I exceed in the measure, or degree, or time, or duration, and become impla­cable. 3. When my affections or passions are not acted to that height they ought to be: All finite objects of our passions require a proportionate degree of our passions; but where the object is infinite, my affections may erre in being too remiss, but not in the excess: I cannot love God too much, for I am to love him with all my might; but I may love him too little, and then my affection errs: I cannot hate sin too much, because I cannot love God too much; but I may hate it too little. 4. When my af­fections or passions are acted unseasonably, either in respect of the time or in respect of the competition between objects of several [Page 263]values: I may, nay I must love my Father; but if I love my Father more than my Saviour, my Saviour hath pronounced me unworthy of him. 5. When my passions degenerate into vices and corruptions, and so become not so much powers or faculties as diseases and sicknesses of the soul: as when anger degenerates into malice, revenge; when self-love degenerate into envy; when desire of, or delight in, the profits or honours of the world degenerates into co­vetousness or ambition; and the like. 6. When my passions are not under the ma­nagement, guidance or conduct of my superior faculties, my reason and judgment; but either go before they are sent, or go be­yond what they are sent, or return not and subside when recalled: and then they breed infinite perturbation in the soul, in­vert the order of nature, and become furies and tempests, and imprison and ca­ptivate the mind and understanding, and become a worse part of the world than that which is without us. Under these conditions our passions and affections are part of that world which is the object of a Christian's warfare and victory.

2. The other part of this world within us are the motions and tendencies of our Sensual Appetite. This sensual appetite is [Page 264]in it self good, placed in us by the God of Nature for excellent ends; viz. for the preservation of the individual nature, as eating and drinking, and those invitations of sense subservient thereunto; or for the preservation of the species, as the desires of sexes. But they then become a sinful part of this inferior world, 1. when they become inordinate, 2. or excessive, 3. or unseasonable; or generally, 4. when they are not subordinate in their actings to the government of reason enlightened by mo­ral or religious light. A Christian hath no such enemies without him, as unruly and undisciplined lusts and passions within him; and it is a vain thing to think of overcoming the world without us, until this world within us be brought into sub­jection; for without the corruptions and lusts within, the world, and the evil men of the world, and the evil one of the world, could not hurt us.

Non vulnus adactis
Debetur gladiis, percussum est pectore ferrum.

The wedge of gold was an innocent thing, but Achan's covetous heart within gave it strength to do harm. We come into the world as into a great shop full of all va­riety of wares accommodate to our senses, [Page 265]lusts and affections; and were it not for these; those wares would lye long enough upon the hands of the prince of this world, before they could get within us or cor­rupt us.

2. The world without us is of three kinds; 1. The Natural world, which is the work of Almighty God, most certainly in it self good; and is not evil but accidentally, by man's abuse of himself or it. It doth con­tain a general supply of objects answerable to the desires of our vegetable and sensible nature, and the exigences and convenien­ces of it; is a great shop full of all sorts of wares answerable .... there is wealth and places and delights for the senses, and it becomes an enemy to us by reason only of the disorder and irregularity of those lusts and passions that are within us, and by reason of the over-value that we are apt to put upon them; they are indeed temptations, but they are only passive, as the wedge of gold did passively tempt Achan, but it was his own lust and cove­tousness that did him the harm: the rock doth not strike the ship, but the ship strikes the rock and breaks it self. This world, as it is not evil in it self, so most certainly it is full of goodness and benevolence to us: it supplies our wants, is accommodate [Page 266]to the exigences and conveniences of our nature; furnisheth (us) with various ob­jects and instances of the divine goodness, liberality, bounty; of his power and ma­jesty and glory; of his wisdom, providence and government; which are so many in­structions to teach us to know, and ad­mire and magnifie him; to walk thank­fully, dutifully, and obediently unto him; to teach us resignation, contentedness, sub­mission, and dependence upon him. A good heart will be made better by it; and if there be evil in it, it is such as our own corrupt natures occasions or brings upon it, or upon our selves by it: and it is a great part of our Christian warfare and discipline to teach us to use it as it ought to be used, and to subdue those lusts and corruptions that abuse it, and our selves by it. Again secondly, there is another world without us, the malignant and evil world, the world of evil Angels and of evil Men, Mundus in maligno positus; and the great mischiefs of this world are of two kinds; viz. 1. Incentives and temptations from it, that are apt to bring the rest of man­kind into the evil of sin and offence againft God; such as are evil examples, evil com­mands, evil counsels, evil perswasions and sollicitations. 2. The troubles, and inju­ries, [Page 267]and vexations, and persecutions, and oppressions, and calumnies, and reproaches, and disgraces, that are inflicted by them: And the evil that ariseth from these are of two kinds; viz. such as they immediately cause, which is great uneasiness, and griefs, and sorrow; and again, such as consequentially arise from these, namely, the evil of sin, as impatience, discontent, unquietness of mind, murmurings against the Divine Providence, doubtings of, let­ting go our confidence in God, disturst, unbelief, and putting forth our hands to iniquity to deliver our selves from these inconveniences, either by unlawful or for­bidden means, by sinful compliances with the sinful world, by falling in with them to deliver our selves from their oppressions, persecutions or wrongs, by raising com­motions, engaging in parties, and infinite more unhappy consequences. And thirdly, there is a third kind of world which is in a great measure without us, namely, the accidental, or more truly the providential world in relation to man and his condition in this world, and is commonly of two kinds, viz. prosperous or adverse. Exter­nal or worldly Prosperity consists in an ac­commodate condition of man in this world; as, health of body; comfort of friends and [Page 268]relations; affluence, or at least competency of wealth, power, honour, applause, good report and the like: The dangers that steal upon mankind in this condition are pride, haughtiness of mind, arrogance, vain-glory, insolence, oppression, security, contempt of others, love of the world, fear of death and desires of diversion from the thoughts of it, luxury, intemperance, ambition, covetousness, neglect and for­getfulness and a low esteem of God, the life to come, and our duty. 2. Adversity; as, sicknesses and diseases, poverty, loss of friends and estate, publick or private disturbances or calamities, and the like: And though oftentimes these are occasioned by the evil or malignant world, yet many times they seem to come accidentally, and are apt to breed impatience, discontent, unquietness of mind, distrust of Provi­dence, murmuring, envy at the external felicity of others, and that common dis­composure which we ordinarily find in our selves and others upon like occasions.

IV. The fourth considerable is, what is this Faith which thus overcometh the world; which is nothing else but a deep, real, full, sound perswasion of and assent unto those great truths revealed in the Scriptures of God, upon the account that [Page 269]they are truly the word and will of the Eternal God, who is truth it self, and can neither deceive nor be deceived: and here­in these two matters are considerable; 1. What are those divine truths which being really and soundly believed doth enable the vi­ctory over the world, or the special objects of that victorious faith: 2. What is that act of faith or belief of these excellent ob­jects which thus overcometh the world.

1. For the former of these, although the whole body of divine truths is the ad­equate object of faith, yet there seem to be certain special heads or parts of divine truths that have the greatest influence into this victory over the world. I shall men­tion some of them: namely, 1. That there is one most Powerfyl, Wise, Gracious, Bountiful, Just and All-seeing God, the Author of all being, that is present in all places, knows our thoughts, our wants, our sins, our desires, and is ready to supply us with all things that are good and fit for us beyond all we can ask or think; hath incomprehensible Wisdom, and irre­sistible Power to effect what he pleaseth; that leaves not any of his works, especially mankind, without his special care and su­perintendence over them; without whose will or designed permission nothing befalls [Page 270]us. 2. That this most Wise and Just and Powerful God hath appointed a law or rule, according to which his will is that the children of men should conform them­selves; and according to the upright en­deavours of the children of men to con­form thereunto, he will most certainly give rewards; and according to the wilful transgressions thereof he will inflict punish­ments: and that he is a most strict and infallible observer of all the wayes of the children of men, whether of obedience or disobedience thereunto. 3. That this law and will of his he hath communicated and revealed unto the children of men in his Holy Word; especially by the mission of his Son Jesus Christ, who brought in­to the world a full and complete collection of those holy Laws of God, whereunto he would have us conform. 4. That he hath given unto mankind, in and through Christ Jesus, a full manifestation of a future life after this of rewards and punishments; and according to that law of his thus mani­fested by his Son, he will, by the same Jesus Christ, dispense and execute the sen­tences of rewards and punishments, and judge every man according to his works. 5. And that the reward of faith and obe­dience, in that other life to come, shall [Page 271]be an eternal, blessed, happy estate of soul and body in the glorious Heavens, and in the presence and fruition of the ever Glo­rious and Eternal God. 6. And that the punishment of the rebellious and disobe­dient unto this will and law of God thus manifested by his Son, shall be an eternal separation of soul and body from the pre­sence of God, and the conclusion of them under chains of darkness and everlasting torments in hell fire. 7. And that the Son of God hath given us the greatest assurance imaginable of the truth of this will of God, of this happiness and misery, by taking upon (him) our nature, by his mi­racles, by his death and resurrection and ascention into glory, and by his mission of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation into his Apostles and Disciples, both to instruct the world in his trust, and to evidence the truth of their mission from him. 8. That Almighty God, though full of justice and severity against obstinate and rebellious, yet, is full of tenderness, love and compas­sion towards all those that sincerely desire to obey his will and to accept of terms of peace and reconciliation with him, and is ready upon repentance and amendment to pardon whatsoever is amiss, and hath ac­cordingly promised it: And that he hath [Page 272]the care and love and tenderness of a father towards us; that in our sincere endeavour of obedience to him, we shall be sure of his love, favour, and protection; that in all our afflictions and troubles he stands by us, and will not leave us; that he will most certainly make good every promise that by Christ he hath sent unto us, for the life that is present and that which is to come; that the Law he hath sent us by Christ to submit unto is an easie and good Law, such as will perfect our nature and fit it to be partaker of his glory; and that all his thoughts towards us in our faithful endea­vour to obey him, are thoughts of love, favour, peace, bounty and goodness. And of this he hath given the greatest assurance that is possible for mankind to expect or desire, even the sending of his Eternal Son into the world to take upon him our na­ture, to acquaint us with his Father's will and love, to live a life of want and misery, and to dye a death full of shame and hor­ror, to rise again to dispatch Messengers into all the world to publish the good will of God to mankind, to ascend up into glory, and there to make intercession for us poor worms at the right hand of God: giving us also hereby assurance of our resurre­ction, and of his coming again to judge [Page 273]the world, and to receive his obedient ser­vants into eternal glory. These be some of those principal Objects of that Faith that overcometh the World, being soundly re­ceived, believed and digested.

2. As touching the act it self; it is no other than a sound, real and firm belief of those Sacred Truths: And therefore it seems that they that perplex the notion of Faith with other intricate and abstruse de­finitions or descriptions, either render it very difficult and scarce intelligible, or else take into the definition or description those things that are but the consequents and effects of it. He that hath this firm perswasion will most certainly repent of (his) sins past, will most certainly endea­vour obedience to the will of God, which is thus believed by him to be holy, just and good, and upon the obedience or dis­obedience whereof depends his eternal hap­piness or misery, will most certainly de­pend upon the promises of God for this life and that to come; for those are as natural effects of such a firm perswasion, as it is for the belief of a danger to put a man upon means to avoid it, or for the belief of a benefit to put a man upon means to attain it. Some things are of such a nature that the belief or knowledge of them goes no [Page 274]further, but it rests in it self, as the belief or knowledge of bare speculative truths: But some things are of such a nature as being once truly and firmly believed or known, carry a man out to action: and such are especially the knowledge or belief of such things as are the objects of our fears or of our hopes; the belief of such objects do naturally and with a kind of moral ne­cessity carry a man out to action; to the avoiding of such fears, and the attaining of such hopes: And therefore faith and belief in reference thereunto comes often in the Scripture under the names of hope and fear, as being the proper effects of it. Instances we have of both, 2 Cor. 5.10, 11. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we perswade men. 1 Joh.3.2, 3. But we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; and every man that bath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Therefore we need not be so sollicitous touching the nature of faith, what kind of faith it is that must save us: certainly if it be a true and real assent of the mind to [Page 275]these great truths of God, it must be ope­rative, according to the nature of the things believed which are in order to working; and therefore if it have not that effect, it is not faith nor assent; if it have it but weakly and imperfectly, it is evident that the assent is weak and fluctuating; if it have that effect at some times but not at others, it is evident that the assent is suspended, or intermitted, or not actually exercised at these intermissions: If a man were really and fully perswaded that if he take such a journey to morrow he should certainly break his leg, he would as certainly not go: or if he were under a certain perswasion, that if he took such a drink, he should cer­tainly recover his lost health, it were as certain he would drink it: and if a man were actually and fully perswaded that, if he used such a means, he should attain ever­lasting happiness, or, if he should commit such a sin, he should certainly lose it, it were scarce morally possible, that a rea­sonable man in his wits would omit the one or commit the other.

And to say, this is but an historical faith, and that the devils have as much, they believe and tremble, and they do as fully assent to divine truths as any can do, yet it avails them not, concludes nothing: the [Page 276]reason is evident, because the salvation to be attained, the faith which is the instru­ment to attain it, concerns them not, nei­ther are they in a state to be advantaged by it; but it is otherwise with men. If I should acquaint a stranger that if my Son doth such a thing, I will give my Son five pound, though the stranger believes it as really true as any thing in the world, it puts not him upon the action, because as he is not concerned in the reward, so he is not concerned in the means: but according to the belief that my Son hath, it will or will not put him upon the action: if he believe me not, he will not do it at all; if he believe it faintly and doubtingly, he will perform the action accordingly; but if he believe it truly and fully, and set any value upon the reward, he will perform it cheerfully; for he is concerned in the re­ward, and in the means to attain it.

Faith therefore is a firm assent to the sacred truths, whether the truths relate to things past, as that God made the world, that Christ the Messiah is come in the flesh, &c. or to things present, as that Almighty God beholds all I do, and knows all I think, or that he is a reconciled Fa­ther unto me in Christ Jesus; or things to come which principally excite those two [Page 277]great movers of the Soul, Hope and Fear, the future life of rewards and punish­ments.

V. I come to the fifth thing, viz. How Faith overcometh the World, which takes in these two Considerations; 1. How that is, in what degree: 2. How that is, by what method or means. Touching the former of these, touching the degree of the victory that faith gives, it is a victory, but not a victory to utter extermination: The Captain of our Salvation indeed overcame the world, totally, perfectly, Joh. 16.33. our victory is not complete nor perfect on this side death, but it is such a victory as leaves still an adversary to contest with us, though not to subdue and conquer us. It is a victory, but yet not without a conti­nued warfare.

2. Touching the Method whereby our faith overcometh the world, I shall say something in general, something more par­ticularly with relation to the world under the former acceptations.

In general therefore, the great method whereby faith overcometh the world, is by rectifying our judgments, and removing those mistakes that are in us concerning the world and our own condition. 1. Some things there are in the world, which we [Page 278]set an esteem and value and love upon, which deserve rather our hatred and dete­station: As, our sins, the irregula [...]es of our lusts and passions, and those dege­nerate plants that arise from them; as pride, ambition, revenge, intemperance, &c. these we account our right hands and our right eyes, in our state of natural dark­ness: Faith rectifies this mistake of our judgment, by shewing us the Law and will of God revealed by Christ, whereby we find that these are our diseases, distempers and sicknesses repugnant to the will, image and command of God; that they are our loss and our danger and our ruine, and therefore not to be entertained but morti­fied and crucified. 2. Some things there are in the world, that we may allow some­what of our affections unto, but we over­value them: We reckon wealth, and honours, and powers the greatest happiness imaginable, and therefore intensly desire them; sicknesses, and afflictions, and inju­ries, and losses the greatest misery imagi­nable, and therefore we fear them exces­sively, we are intollerably discontented under them. Faith rectifies our mistake herein, gives us a just value of these things, shews us the Law of God, checking and forbidding immoderate affections or passions [Page 279]to be exercised about them, assures us that we are, as well under the view and obser­vation, as under the care and regiment of the great Lord of heaven and earth, and therefore expects our great moderation in relation to externals. 3. And principally, for the most part the children of men esteem this life the uttermost term or limit of their happiness or misery, and therefore make it their whole business, by all means pos­sible, to make their lives here as splendid and glorious, as delightful and pleasurable, as is possible; and use all means, whether honest or dishonest, fit or unfit, to secure themselves in the good they have, and to avoid any thing that is grievous or trou­blesom: and if they cannot compass it they sink, and despond, and murmur, and dye under it, as the only Hell imaginable; or if they have any thoughts of a future estate after death, yet they are but languid, faint, and searce believed in any tollerable degree, and suspected rather as the impo­stures of Politicians, or fables of Poets, than having any real truth in them. Faith rectifies this mistake, and assures us there is a judgment to come, a state of rewards and punishments of a far higher nature than this world can afford, or indeed ap­prehend; that the happiness of that life [Page 280]out-bids all the greatest and most glorious entertainments that this world can afford, and will infinitely exceed the greatest losses or crosses that this world can yield: And on the other side, the punishments of that life will infinitely over-ballance all the pleasures and contentments that this life here can yield, and the memory of them will but enhance the rate and degree of those torments: and that accordingly as men spend their lives in this short transi­tory life, either in obedience or disobe­dience unto the divine will, accordingly the retribution of everlasting rewards and punishments will be there given. This view of the future state, presented by faith to the Soul, will have these two great ef­fects, in order to the subduing and con­quering of the world without us, by ren­dring it poor, inconsiderable, contemptible in comparison of those everlasting joys and happiness of the next life; and the world within us, by chaining up our exorbitant lusts and passions under the fear of the judgment to come, and by ordering, com­posing and regulating them in contem­plation of the great reward annexed to our dutiful obedience unto God in this life.

But I shall come to particulars, and fol­low [Page 281]that tract that is before given, in the distribution of the world, as well within, as without us; and consider the particular method of faith in the subduing and con­quering them. 1. Therefore in reference to the world within us, namely, 1. our Pas­sions, 2. our Lusts.

1. As to our Passions: 1. Faith directs their due placing upon their proper ob­jects, by discovering what are the true and proper objects of them, out of that large and comprehensive law of God which pre­sents them as such to the soul, and to be observed under the pain of the displeasure of the glorious and Almighty God. 2. Upon the same account it teacheth our passions and affections moderation in their exercise, even about their proper objects, and due subordination to that supreme love a man owes to the supreme good, God Almighty. 3. Upon the same account it teacheth us, under our obligation of duty to God, to cut off, crucifie and mortifie the diseases and corruptions of passions, as malice, envy, revenge, pride, vain-glory, ostentation

2. In reference to our Desires: 1. Natu­ral, it teacheth us great moderation, tem­perance, sobriety; it tells us these very natural propensions are apt to grow unruly and consequently hurtful, and therefore [Page 282]that we are to keep them in subjection and under discipline both to Religion and to Reason: And this it doth, by assuring us that such is the will and law of our Crea­tor; by assuring us that the same Almighty God is the constant observer of all our most intimate deportments; it assures us that the Son of God died to redeem us from the captivity of our lusts; that if we be kept still in servitude under them we make an ungrateful return to his love, and what in us lyes, disappoint him of the end of his sufferings: It shews us the great falseness, deceit and treachery of these lusts, that they are ready upon every occasion to rebell against God and his Law placed in our souls; that they are upon every occasion ready to betray us to our worst enemy, and if they once get loose from discipline and subjection, they are hard to be reclaimed; and therefore must be kept under a careful, vigilant and austere discipline; that if we do so order them, we are safe in a great measure from the temptations of the world and the devil, who could not hurt us with­out the compliance, inordinateness, trea­chery, and correspondence of these close enemies within us. 2. As touching those degenerate and corrupt lusts, as, Cove­tousness, Malice, Envy; faith doth first of [Page 283]all in general shew us, that they are prohi­bited by the great Lord and Law-giver of heaven and earth, and that under severe penalties; again secondly, it shews us that they are the great depravers and embasers of our nature, the disturbers of the peace, serenity, and tranquility of our minds; again thirdly, if shews us, that they are vain, impertinent, and unnecessary pertur­bations, such as can never do us any real good, but feed our vain imaginations with deceits instead of realities. But particular instances in relation to these several lusts will render these truths more evident. 1. Therefore for Covetousness or immode­rate desire of wealth, ambition, the immo­derate desires of honour or power, we shall see how faith or true assent to the truths of God revealed in his Word doth correct and crucifie this lust, and that principally by these ensuing Considerations: 1. Faith discovers to us that the great Lord of hea­ven and earth, to whom we owe a most universal and indispensible obedience, hath forbidden this lust, hath told us we must not be over-sollicitous for the things of this life, and we have no reason to suspect his wisdom in such prohibitions, for he is infinitely wise, and knows best what is fittest for us to do or not to do; neither [Page 284]have we cause to suspsect his love to us, or to think he envies us in his commands, either to enjoyn what might be hurtful for us, or to forbid what might be beneficial to us; for it was his free and immense love that gave us at first our being, and therefore certainly can never envy us any thing that might be good or convenient for that being, which he at first freely gave and still freely continues to us. 2. Faith shews us the vanity and lowness of such desires, re-minds us that when death comes all these objects will be utterly insignificant; that they are transient, incertain objects, such as are not only fitted barely for the me­ridian of this life, but such as oftentimes take wings and fly away from us before we leave them, such as in their very enjoyment sa­tisfie not, but instead of satisfaction are oftentimes vexations and thorns to afflict us. 3. Faith presents us with better things, more safe to be desired, more easily to be attained, more securely to be kept, namely, our peace with God, and the firm and sound assurance of everlasting happiness. 4. Faith presents us with an assurance of the divine particular Providence, which gives and takes away, and grants or denies the things upon which our desires are thus fixed, and therefore renders our immoderate cares and [Page 285]thoughtfulness for the businesses of this life either needless or vain: Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things, commands us to cast our care upon him, for he careth for us that knows what is fittest for us; if abundance, he is able to supply us without torturing our selves with care or sollicitousness; if the contrary, either we covet in vain and our endeavours shall be disappointed, or at least they shall be given, but a curse and vexation with them, given us in anger, given us to our hurt: and the same may be said in all points in relation to ambition and de­sire of honours or power. 2. Again, in relation to malice or envy against the pro­sperity of others, faith shews us how vain and foolish a thing it is, and the rather because the wise and great God is the dis­penser of all things, hath the absolute and unlimited propriety in them, disposeth them according to his own good plea­sure. What reason hath any man to envy that disposal which the God of heaven makes. Again, 3. For revenge, the great Lord of the world hath reserved that as (a) branch of his own supreme Preroga­tive; vengeance is mine, saith the Lord: what have you or I to do to invade his prerogative? it is his own right, and he [Page 286]best knows when, and where, and in what degree to exercise it.

2. I come to the consideration of the world without us, as that which possibly is here principally intended, and the victory of the Christian by his faith over it, and first in relation to the Natural World. This world, as hath been observed, is in it self very good, and the evil that ariseth from it is only occasional. Which is thus, it is a goodly Palace fitted with all grateful objects to our senses, full of variety and pleasantness, and the soul fastening upon them is ready with Peter in the Mount to conclude that it is good to be here, and therefore grows careless of the thoughts of another state after death, or to think of the passage to it, or making provision for it; but to set up its hopes and happiness and rest in it, and in these delights and ac­commodations that it yields our senses. Faith overcometh this part of the world, by assuring the soul, that this lower world is only the place of our probation, not of of our happiness; our Inn, not our home: It presents to the mind a state of happiness, to be attained after death, infinitely surpas­sing all the contents and conveniences that this world can yield; and that one great means to attain it, is by setting our hearts [Page 287]upon it, and not upon the world, but using this present world not as the end of our hopes, but as our passage to it; and to carry a watchful hand over our desires and delights towards it, or in it; that it steal not away our heart from out everlasting treasure; to carry a sober and temperate mind towards it, and use of it as in the sight of that God, that lends it us, to ex­cite our thankfulness and try our obedience, not to rob him of the love, and service, and duty we owe unto him. In short, the methods whereby faith overcometh this part of the world are these: 1. By giving us a true estimate of it, to prevent us from overvaluing it: 2. By frequent re-minding of us, that it is only fitted to the meridian of this life, which is short and transitory and passeth away: 3. By presenting unto us a state of future happiness, that infi­nitely surpasseth it: 4. By discovering our duty in our walk through it, namely of great moderation and vigilancy: 5. By presenting unto us the example of the Cap­tain of our Salvation, his deportment in it, and towards it: 6. By assuring us that we are but Stewards unto the great Lord of the Family of Heaven and Earth for so much as we have of it, and that to him we must give an account of our steward­ship: [Page 288]7. By assuring us that our great Lord and Master is a constant observer of all our deportment in it: 8. And that he will most certainly give a reward proportiona­ble to the management of our trust and stewardship; viz. if done sincerely, faith­fully, and obediently to our great Lord and Master, a reward of everlasting happiness and glory; but if done falsly, sinfully, and disobediently, then a reward of everlasting loss and misery.

2. As to the second kind of world, the Malignant World of evil men and evil An­gels, and therein first in relation to the evil Counsels and evil Examples that solli­cit or tempt us to breach of our duty to God, the methods whereby faith overco­meth this part of the malignant world, are these: 1. It presents unto us our duty that we owe to God, and which we are bound indispensibly to observe under the great penalty of loss of our happiness. 2. It pre­sents us with the great advantage that we have in obeying God, above whatsoever advantage we can have in obeying or fol­lowing the sinful examples, counsels, or commands of this world; and the great excess of our disadvantage in obeying or following the evil examples or counsels of the world; and this makes him at a point [Page 289]with these follicitations, peremptory to conclude it is better to obey God than man; and with Joseph, How can I commit this great wickedness, and sin against God? 3. It pre­sents Almighty God strictly observing our carriage in relation to these temptations. 4. It presents us with the displeasure and indignation of the same God, in case we desert him, and sollow the sinful examples, or counsels of men; and with the great favour, love, approbation, and reward of Almighty God, if we keep our fidelity and duty to him. 5. It presents us with the noble example of our Blessed Saviour. 6. It presents us with the transcendent love of God in Christ Jesus, who to redeem and rescue us from the misery of our natural condition, and from the dominion of sin, and to make us a peculiar people zealous of good works, chose to become a curse and dye for us, the greatest obligation of love and gratitude and duty imaginable: And then it leaves the Soul impartially to judge which is the better of the two, and whe­ther this malignant World can propound any thing that can be an equivalent motive to follow their commands or examples, or that can equal the love of our Saviour, the reward of eternal life, and the favour of the ever-glorious God; and which must [Page 290]be denied and lost by a sinful compliance with evil counsels, commands, or examples of an evil world. It is true, the world can perchance reward my compliance herein with honour, and applause, and favour, and riches, or they can punish my neglects with reproach, and scorn, and loss, and poverty, and it may be with death: but what proportion do these bear to the favour and love of God, and an eternal recom­pence of glory and endless happiness? The terms therefore of my obedience to the loving and gracious God (to whom I owe my utmost duty and obedience, though there were no reward attending it) do infi­nitely out-bid, and out-weight whatsoever a sinful world can either give or inflict. And secondly, as to the other part or Scene of this malignant world, Persecutions, Re­proaches, Scorns, yea Death it self, Faith pre­sents the soul not only with the foregoing considerations and that glorious promise, Be faithful unto the death, and I will give thee a crown of life, but some other conside­rations that are peculiarly proper to this condition: viz. 1. That it is that state, that our blessed Saviour hath not only foretold, but hath annexed a special promise of bles­sedness unto, Blessed are they that are per­secuted for righteousness sake, (for) theirs is [Page 291]the kingdom of heaven. 2. That there have gone before us a noble Cloud of Examples in all Ages, yea the Captain of our Sal­vation was thus made perfect by suffering. 3. That though it is troublesom, it is but short, and ends with death, which will be the passage into a state of incorruptible happiness: And this was that which made the Three Children at a point with the greatest Monarch in the world ready to in­flict the severest death upon them; Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, &c. but if not, know O king that we will not wor­ship thy graven image which thou hast set up. And therefore our Blessed Lord redoubles the injunction of our fear toward him that can destroy both body and soul in hell, but forbids any fear of such persecutors, who can only destroy the body and then can do no more. And certainly that man that hath full assurance of favour and esteem with the great God of heaven and earth, of an incorruptible weight and crown of glory the next moment after death, must needs have a low esteem of the reproaches and scorns and persecutions of men for righteoufness sake; and so much the rather because that very favour with God, and that very crown of happiness that he ex­pects, is enhanced by those very scorns and [Page 292]those very afflictions. For, Our light af­flictions which are here for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

3. Concerning the third kind of world, namely, the Providential world, consisting in external dispensations of adversity or prosperity. And first concerning the dark part of this world, namely, Adversity, as casualties, losses of wealth or friends, sick­nesses, the common effects whereof are impatience, distrust, murmuring, and un­quietness: Faith conquers this part of the world, and prevents those evil consequen­ces, which either temptations from with­out, or corruptions from within, are apt to raise. 1. Faith presents the soul with this assurance, that all external occurren­ces come from the wise dispensation or permission of the most glorious God; they come not by chance. 2. That the glorious God may, even upon the account of his own Sovereignty, and pro imperio, inflict what he pleaseth upon any of his creatures in this life. 3. That yet, whatsoever he doth in this kind, is not only an effect of his power and sovereignty, but of his wis­dom, yea and of his goodness and bounty. No affliction can befall any man but it may be useful for his instruction or prevention. [Page 293]4. That the best of men deserve far worse at the hands of God than the worst affli­ctions that ever did or ever can befall any man in this life. 5. That there have been examples of greater affliction, that have befallen better men in this life: witness Job, and that excellent pattern of all pa­tience and goodness, even as a man, our Lord Christ Jesus. 6. That these afflictions are sent for the good even of good men; and it is their fault and weakness, if they have not that effect. 7. That in the midst of the severest afflictions, the favour of God to the soul, discovering it self like the Sun shining through a cloud, gives light and comfort to the Soul. 8. That Almighty God is ready to support them, that believe in him, and to bear them up under all their afflictions, that they shall not sink under them. 9. That whatsoever or how great soever the afflictions of this life are, if the name be blasted with reproaches, the estate wasted and consumed by fire from heaven, if friends are lost, if hopes and expectations disappointed, if the body be macerated with pains and diseases, yet Faith presents to the believer something, that can bear up the Soul under these, and many more pressures, namely, that after a few years or days are spent, an eternal [Page 294]state of unchangeable and perfect happi­ness shall succed; that death the worst of temporal evils will cure all those mala­dies, and deliver up the soul into a state of endless comfort and blessedness: and therefore he bears all this with patience, and quietness, and contentedness, and cheer­fulness, and disappoints the world in that expectation wherein its strength, in relation to this condition, lyes, namely, it conquers all impatience, murmuring, unquietness of mind.

2. As to the second part of this Provi­dential world, namely Prosperity, which in truth is the more dangerous condition of the two, without the intervention of the divine grace, the foils that the world puts upon men by this condition, are com­monly pride, insolence, carnal security, contempt or neglect of duty and religion, luxury, and the like. The method whereby Faith overcometh this part of the world and those evil consequences that arise upon (it) are these: 1. Faith gives a man a true and equal estimate of this condition, and keeps a man from overvaluing it or himself for it; lets him know it is very uncertain, very casual, very dangerous, and cannot out-last this life: death will come and sweep down all these cobwebs. [Page 295]2. Faith assures him that Almighty God observes his whole deportment in it, that he hath given him a law of humility, so­briety, temperance, fidelity, and a caution not to trust in uncertain riches; that he must give an account of his stewardship also to the great Master of the Family of Heaven and Earth, that he will duly exa­mine all his Items, whether done according to his Lord's commission and command; and it lets him know that the more he hath, the greater ought his care to be, because his account will be the greater. 3. Faith lets him know, that the abundance of wealth, honour, power, friends, applause, successes, as they last no longer than this short transitory life, and therefore cannot make up his happiness, no nor give a man an ease or rescue from a fit of the Stone, or Colick; so there is an everlasting state of happiness or misery that must attend every man after death: And on the one hand, all the glory, and splendor, and hap­piness, that this inferior world can afford, is nothing, in comparison of that glory, that shall be revealed to, and enjoyed by them, that believe and obey. 1. Nothing in re­spect of its duration; if a man should live a thousand years, yet that must have an end, and the very pre-apprehension of an end is [Page 296]enough to dash, and blast, and wither any happiness even while it is enjoyed; but that happiness that succeeds after death is an everlasting happiness. 2. Nothing in respect of its degree; there is no sincere, complete, perfect happiness in this world; it is mingled with evils, with fears, with vicissitudes of sorrow and trouble; but the happiness of the next life is perfect, sin­cere, and unmixed with any thing that may allay it: And upon these accounts, faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen; and therefore by a kind of anticipa­tion gives a presence to the Soul of those future joys, renders the best happiness this world below can yield, but languid and poor, like the light of a Candle in the presence of the Sun. On the other side, the misery that after death attends the mispent present life, over-ballanceth all the good that this life can yield, both in its degree and duration, and therefore, with the pre-apprehension of it, it sowres and allays all the good that is in the greatest happiness of this life. 4. Faith doth as­sute every believing Soul, that, as sure as he now liveth, and enjoyeth that worldly felicity it hath, so surely, if he, in belief and obedience to the will of God revealed [Page 297]in and through Christ, shall use his ste­wardship thereof soberly, faithfully, and obediently, he shall enjoy that everlasting happiness that thus out-weigheth the best temporal felicity: And on the other side, if he shall use his prosperous condition vainly, proudly, insolently, unfaithfully, intemperately, this short felicity, that he hath here, shall be attended with an end­less and excessive misery unto all eternity. And now thus upon these accounts and methods faith overcometh this world of external prosperity. The corruption in the heart, and the temptations of the evil one, and of evil men, would presently improve this condition to make the man proud, in­solent, intemperate, luxurious, secure, trusting in incertain riches, forgetful of God, and of Religion: But, by the means before mentioned, faith conquers the world herein, disappoints the corruption of the heart, the subtilty of the devil, the tempta­tions of evil men, and brings the man into a low esteem of his own external happiness; keeps him in a high and just valuation of Heaven; keeps him temperate, sober, watchful, humble, faithful, just; makes him mindful of his account, and studious, and industrious for the attaining and secu­ring of an everlasting state of happiness, [Page 298]and that when death shall render all his wealth, and honour, and applause, and successes, and glory, to be poor, empty, insipid things, yet he may have and enjoy a fixed, permanent, everlasting state of blessedness and glory with the ever-glorious God, the blessed Redeemer, the holy An­gels and the Spirits of just men made per­fect.


Prov. 3.34. Jam. 4.6. 1 Pet. 5.5.‘God resisteth the pround, and giveth grace to the humble.’

Pride and Humility are two opposite habits or dispositions of the mind: and therefore the discussion and examination of the latter, will of it self give me a discovery of the former; and the discovery of the benefits and advantage of the virtue of Humility, will give us also an [Page 300]account of the mischiefs and inconvenien­ces of Pride, that is its opposite vice.

In the examination of the true nature of Humility, we must take notice that there are two, Extremes, and between these the virtue of Humility is placed.

The two Extremes are in the excess, which is Pride; and in the defect, Baseness of mind.

Pride ariseth from an over-valuation of a man's self, or a want of a due sense of his dependency upon Almighty God. And, though all pride be an extreme foolish dis­temper of the mind, yet some kind of pride is far more unreasonable and vain than other; namely, that kind of pride, that ariseth upon such objects, that are less va­luable in themselves, or less his own that grows proud of them.

It is a foolish thing for a man to be proud of the Endowments of his Mind; as Wit, Memory, Judgment, Prudence, Policy, Learning, nay of a man's Goodness, Vir­tue, Justice, Temperance, Integrity: for though these be most a man's own, yet he hath them by the Bounty and Goodness of that God, to whom he owes his being; what hast thou which thou hast not re­ceived? These are matters indeed to stir up thy Gratitude to the Giver of them, [Page 301]but not sufficient grounds to make thee proud. Again, though the things them­selves be excellent, and more thine than any other outward things, yet thou art but a temporary owner of them; a violent Fea­ver, or a fit of a Palsie, or Apoplexy, may rob thee of all these endowments, and thou mayst possibly over-tune thy Wit, thy Parts, thy Learning; and if thou escapest these concussions, yet if thou live to old age (a thing that naturally all men desire) that will abate, if not wholly antiquate, thy Wit, Learning, Parts; and 'tis a foolish thing for a man to be proud of that which he is not sure to keep while he lives, and must lose at last in a great measure when he dyes, even by reason of that very pride which accompanies them here. Again, that very pride, which accompanies those excel­lent parts and habits, is the very thing that either spoils, or very much debaseth, and disparageth both in the sight of God and man; it is like the dead flies in the confe­ction, the worms at the bottom of the gourd, that taints and withers these excel­lencies, and renders them either contem­ptible, or at least much less valuable. The more a man values himself for those things, the less he is valued by others; and it is a thousand to one that this foolish vain [Page 302]humor of pride mingles some odd, faneiful, ridiculous, or unsavoury ingredients in the actions or deportments of such men though of eminent parts and abilities, that they receive more reproach or censure by their pride, than they receive applause by their parts; for as God resists the proud so doth mankind also, and their very pride gives their adversaries advantage. And as pride of parts and habits of the mind, is a foolish thing, so pride of bodily endowments is yet more foolish and vain; because it is raised upon a thing of a baser allay than the for­mer; such as are Beauty, Stature, Strength, Agility; for though these are a man's own, yet they are things that are, not only sub­ject to more casualties than the former, but they are but of an inferiour nature.

Again, yet more vain and foolish is that pride, that is raised upon things that are either purely Adventitious or Forein, or in the meer power of other men; as pride of Wealth, of Honour, of Applause, of suc­cident Successes in actions, of Titles, gay Clothes, many Attendants, great Equipage, Precedency, and such like accessions: And yet it is admirable to observe the Vanity of the generality of mankind, in this respect; there is scarce a man to be found abroad in the world, who hath not some elation [Page 303]of mind, upon the account of these and the like petty, vain, inconsiderable advanta­ges; in all professions, as well Ecclesiasti­cal as Secular; in all ranks and degrees of men, from the Courtier to the Page and Foot-boy; in all ages, as well old, as young; almost every person hath some hobby-horse or other wherein he prides himself.

And this humor of pride doth rarely contain it self within the breast of that person wherein it lodgeth, (though it went no farther it is foolish enough) but spreads it self into numerous Branches; such as are contempt and scorn of others, contention and animosity against those, that in any degree cross them; ambition, envy against any that are above them; vain-glory and ostentation, hunting after applause; desire and delight in flattery and adulation of them; impatience of control, or contradi­ction, or disappointment of what they affect; detraction from the worth or value of others.

And, besides the disturbance that it makes abroad, it is an untollerable Disease in the Soul that is possessed therewith, renders his life miserable, and puts him in the power of every man to be his tormentor: If a poor man, a Mordecai, deny but his cap or his knee, it makes Haman stark sick and half mad, Hest. 5.13. all his Honour and Glory [Page 304]and Favour avail not, so long as Mordecai sate in the Gate, and did him no reverence: any small neglect or affront; any cross in expectation; any little inconsiderable dis­appointment in what he sets his mind upon, disorders him even to distraction.

The other Extreme is Baseness and Sordid­ness of Mind, which though it carries the shadow of humility, yet it is quite another thing. And though sometimes, as in pride, so in this of baseness of mind, the com­plexion and temperament may have an influence, yet it is most commonly upon another account; namely, when a man is forlornly given over to the love of Wealth or Honour or bodliy Pleasures or Lusts, this doth make him prostitute himself to any base sordid means, or compliances, to com­pass and attain those ends; there is nothing so base, or unworthy, that such a man will not undertake, or do, to the attainment of what he thus designs; such as are base Flattery of Men in Power; ugly Compli­ance with their humors, though most nau­seous, unsavoury; creeping and cringing even almost to Adoration of them; making pitiful Addresses to their meanest depen­dents, even as low as Pages and Foot-boys, performing the most unwarrantable offices for them; and many times an external dis­guise, [Page 305]a shape of lowliness and humility in gesture, shape, habits and deportment, till they can attain their ends; like the Monk, that was always looking upon the earth, in a shape of humility, till he was chosen Abbot, and then changed his figure, and being questioned for his sudden change by one of his Covent, answered, in his former posture he was only looking for the keys of the Abbey, but now he had found them, he needed not the former posture.

And this baseness of mind is many times also the effect of the Fear of Men, which many times works so much upon the mind, that it carries men to base and unwor­thy compliances. But true Humility is a virtue and temper of mind of another na­ture, and arising from better principles. It is a lowly frame and habit of spirit arising from the due sense of the Glorious Excellency of the Almighty God, and our own frailty and infirmity, and our infi­nite dependence upon his Bounty, Good­ness, Mercy, whereby we are under a con­stant, firm, and sound conviction, that all the good that is in us, or that is en­joyed, or can be expected by us, is from the free and undeserved liberality of that Glorious God.

So that although, possibly the helps of [Page 306]complexion, and constitution, and edu­cation may be contributory to the more easie acquest and exercise of this virtue; yet it is in it self the effect of a mind truly, and foundly principled, the Spirit of a sound mind. And this humility of mind is not barely in the external habit or counterfeited deportment: many times a Cynical, in­tollerable Pride is clothed with the mantle of Humility: but principally it is rooted in the very mind it self, and for the most part evidenceth its being by these ensuing particulars: 1. A most awful and sincere Reverence 0130 0 and Fear of the Great and Glorious God, a habitual prostration of our souls always before him, as the great and glorious So­vereign of Heaven and Earth, in whose presence we always are, and to whom we owe an infinite subjection and depen­dence.

2. A most high and constant Gratitude and Thankfulness of heart and soul to him, for all the good we have in us, or that is or can be enjoyed by us, recognizing him, as the giver of our Being, of our Faculties, our abilities, and strength of Mind and Body, our Wealth, our Honour, our Com­forts, our Hope and Expectations; that he is not only the giver of them, but the So­vereign [Page 307]Lord of them, and as may resume them when he pleaseth.

3. And consequently upon this, that we owe to that great and Sovereign Lord a due Employment of all, that he hath thus given us, to his Glory and Service; and that we must therefore be accountable for them, to him who is our great Lord or Proprietor and Master.

4. A constant Vigilancy and Attention of mind upon all our thoughts, words and actions; but especially, lest we forget that habitude of mind that we thus owe to Al­mighty God, and lest pride, arrogancy, vanity, or vain-glory steal in upon us; checking and plucking up the first ebul­litions and risings, the first buds and mo­tions thereof.

5. Which is but the consequence of the former, a Sober Opinion concerning our selves and all we can do, and say; not thinking of our selves above what we ought to think: and, since self-love so naturally adheres to us, to be very jealous over our selves; especially in those actions that are good, or that meet with some applause in the world, lest we either value them too high, or over­value our selves by reason of them, or lest we are short in giving to Almighty God that Honour that is due to him, and to him only, for them.

6. A diligent, and impartial, and fre­quent Consideration, and Examination, and Animadversion of, and upon, our defects and failings; for these, and these only are truly and properly our own. There are a sort of artificial Pictures, that if a man look upon them one way, they represent some beautiful comely person; but if we look upon them another way, they present some deformed mishapen Monster: Our own partiality to our selves prompts us to look upon the Picture of our lives and actions, in that position or posture that renders no­thing but beautiful and virtuous; and we have seldom the patience to look upon it, in that position that may render our De­formities and Vices; and thereupon we give our selves the denomination accor­dingly of Good and Virtuous, and either do not observe, or do not consider our own failings and defects. If we did as well consider our sins which we commit, as the duties which we perform: and if in the consideration of our duties, we did but consider how much more of duties we omit than we perform; and in the duties we perform, if we did consider how much dead­ness, formality, hypocrisie, vain-glory, self­seeking, and other unhandsom ingredients were mingled with them; and should lay [Page 309]our sins, our omissions, our defects in one scale, and that which were really and truly duty, and good, and worthy in another scale, the best of mankind would soon find that that which was truly good, in the whole course of his life, were a pitiful, slender scantlet, and would be infinitely out-weighed by his sins, omissions, and defects; and the due comparison and pro­spect of this, would quickly give him a Lecture of Humility; the Good we do would indeed make us Thankful, but the good we omit, the evil we commit, and the deficiencies of our duties, would make us Humble.

7. Charitable Opinions of the persons of others, as far as possible may be. It is true that neither Religion, nor Charity com­mands, or allows, any man to say or think that that which is in it self a sin, is not so; as that Drunkenness and Whoredom, or Pride, or Vain-glory are not sins; the Law of God, and the Law of Nature tells us they are sins: But an Humble man, sensible of his own sins and failings, will not pre­sently be over-censorious of persons, or pronounce them reprobates, or men wholly destitute of the hope of salvation; but will pity their failings and backslidings; but yet not exterminate them from heaven. [Page 310]And herein there must be duly considered the difference between a private person and a publick person, whether Minister or Magistrate; the former, namely, a private person, humility must teach him compas­sion, charitableness, gentleness; but the latter, being intrusted in a publick mini­stration or office, doth alternis vicibus agere, his personal humility, as a private person, must teach him to be charitable, but yet not to be remiss or unfaithful in the exer­cise of his office.

The farther consideration of the princi­ples and companions of humility will ap­pear in the consideration of the Fruits, and Advantages, and Benefits of true Hu­mility.

And these I shall reduce to these three Relations; I. in relation to Almighty God; 3. in relation to the humble person himself, 3. in relation to others. It is true that all Virtues, if they be true and real, have a connexion one with another; they are never single; for the same principle that begetteth one, begetteth all the rest, and habituates, and influenceth the soul in all its motions; but especially this Virtue of Humility, when it (is) genuine and true, is ever accompanied with all those excel­lent Habits and Graces, that perfect the [Page 311]soul; as the Fear and Love of God; Obe­dience to him; Dependence on him; Be­nificence and Charity to mankind, and the like. But yet in pursuit of the fruits and advantages of Humility, I shall apply my self to such as do most naturally, and with a kind of special reason and appro­priation, belong to, or flow from, this virtue as such, and as do belong to its nature in a kind of abstract consideration.

First therefore, in relation to Almighty God, the Humble Man hath in a special manner these two great Advantages: 1. He receives Grace or Favour or Honour from God; 2. He receives Direction, Guidance and Counsel from God: Both which are singularly promised, and, by a kind of suitableness and congruity, conferred by Almighty God upon his humble soul.

First, Favour, Honour, and Grace from God is a special portion of the Humble Man. The Wise man tells us here, He gives Grace to the Humble. And although Grace is a comprehensive word, and in­cludes in it self, not only Favour and Ac­ceptance with God, but also those other accessions of the gifts of his Bounty and Goodness, which come from this Great Giver of every perfect gift; as Wisdom, Peace, Righteousness, Purity of heart, [Page 312]and the like, which are all also the por­tion of a truly humble man; yet I think the former is that which is specially in­tended here; namely Favour, Honour, and Acceptance with God, so often expressed in the Old and New Testament, by the phrase of finding Grace in the sight of God: Gen. 19. 18. Behold now I have found grace in thy sight. Luk. 14. 9, 10, 11. He that bid thee shall say unto thee, Friend, come thou up hither, then thou shalt have wor­ship or grace in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee; for he that exalteth him­self shall be abased, and be that abaseth him­self shall be exalted. So that by Grace is in­tended principally Favour, Acceptance, Ho­nour and Esteem with the Great and Glo­rious God of Heaven and Earth: And certainly were there no other reward of Humility, than Acceptance and Favour with the Great Sovereign of the World, it were reward enough. We see daily what pains, and charge, and expence, and servitude men undergo, to attain the fa­vour of a Prince or great man, though he be but a poor mortal worm; and how men please themselves, when they have attained some little unprofitable respect from a great man: But what is that in comparison of being in Grace and Favour [Page 313]with the King of kings, the Lord of Hea­ven? Especially, when we consider that the Favour or Acceptance of the Glorious God is not a bare unprofitable Esteem or Grace, such as many times the great Fa­vourites of Princes obtain from them: But the favour and acceptance of God is always accompanied with Bounty and Be­nificence; As he is the Sovereign Ocean of all good, so we may be sure, he will be communicative and liberal of it, to such as he favours. He, whose benignity is hourly extended to the meanest of his Crea­tures, nay to the very worst of men, can­not be parsimonious or strait-handed to those whom he accepts, and esteems, and honours. So that the humble man finds Grace in the sight of the Glorious God, and, as an Effect of that grace, the boun­tiful communication of all necessaries, good, from the Munificence, Bounty and Libe­rality of him, that thus favours him: and this is reward enough for the most profound Humility.

The Reason why Almighty God accepts thus an Humble person, is the very same that makes him resist the Proud, which is this; The Great God made all things in the world for two Ends: viz. 1. Thereby to communicate his own diffusive Goodness [Page 314]and Benificence, and principally for the Glory of his own Greatness, Wisdom, Power, and Majesty; and although he re­ceives no addition of Happiness by the re­turn of Glory from his Creatures, yet it is a thing he values: his Glory he will not give to another; and it is unbecoming the Ex­cellency of his Majesty to be disappointed in his End. Glory is out of its place, when it is not returned to the God of Glory, or in order to him. It is the natural, as well as the reasonable, Tribute of all his Creatures, and a kind of proper Refiection of the Bounty and Splendor of all his works unto the God that made them. Now the Proud man usurps that Glory which is due to his Maker, and takes it to himself; in­tercepts that due and natural return and reflection due unto the Creator of all things, takes that tribute that is due to God, and applies it to himself; puts glory out of its place and natural course, which it should hold towards the glorious God, as the Rivers do to the Sea: And this usurpation, as it is a kind of rebellion against God, so it inverts and disorders the true and just natural course of things; and therefore as the proud man herein walks contrary to God, so God walks con­trary to him: They that honour me, I will [Page 315]honour; they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed: 1 Sam. 2.30. And as this is a most reasonable act of Divine Justice, so they seem two things, that even up­on an account of natural congruity must needs make the condition of a Proud man uneasie and unhappy, in relation to Al­mighty God: 1. Every thing is beau­tiful, and useful, and convenient in its proper place; but when it is out of its place, it becomes troublesom and disor­derly, like a Bone out of joynt, it cau­seth discomposure. When therefore the Proud man arrogates to himself Glory, and intercepts its free return to the God of Glory, to whom it belongs, Glory is out of its place, and disorders, and discompo­seth the usurper of it, so that he grows sick of it, sometimes to madness, but always to distemper and discomposure. 2. The Proud man is so full of himself, and of the Honour, and Glory, which he usurps and attracts to himself, that he is uncapable of an accession of Grace or Fa­vour from God: for he thinks he hath enough of his own, and this obstructs the accesses and irradiation of the Divine Fa­vour, Grace, and Benediction. Intus exi­stens prohibet alienum. It is the empty Soul, empty I mean of Pride, Self-conceit, and [Page 316]Vain-glory, that is capable of satisfaction with the Divine Goodness.

But on the contrary, the Humble man hath these two opposite advantages: 1. He carries Glory and Honour to him, to whom it belongs, to its proper center and coun­trey, namely, to the Everlasting God, and that Ocean of Goodness and Perfection that resides in him; and this gives the man ease, and quietness, and composure of mind; for he doth not intercept the Tri­bute that is due to his Maker, but payes it over to the right owner. If he doth any good, noble, or becoming action, he checks the first motion of pride and osten­tation in himself, and receives not the applause of others, but directs all the Praise and Glory of it, to that God, that hath done it by him, or in him, or for him: Not unto us, but unto thy name give the Glory: And this gives him singular quietness, serenity, and evenness of mind, because he is not surcharged with that which belongs not to him, nor under those tortures and boylings of mind, which this Tribute due to his Maker raiseth, when usurped by a man to whom it belongs not. Again, 2. By this Humility and Lowliness of mind the soul is empty, not of what it should have, but of what it should not have; and [Page 317]by that means becomes receptive and ca­pable of blessing from the God of Heaven, who filleth the hungry with good things, but sends the rich empty away. And this seems to hold congruity to the very nature of every Intellectual agent, that acts with an Understanding and Will: We find, even in the regulated motions of our own nature, a secret aversness to gratifie a proud and haughty man; for he either scorns or rejects a kindness, as beneath him; or arrogates and owns it as his due, and not a bounty: But a person truly humble is sensible of a benefit, thankful for it, gets within us, invites benificence. And surely, though the blessed God be not at all under the impotency of humane passions, yet he is a God of infinite Wisdom, and placeth his best benefits, where they will be best received and used. 2. It seems to hold congruity and proportion with the very course and nature of things natural: The Divine Benignity is much more diffusive than the Light, the Air, the most commu­nicate Element, and filleth every thing according to its measure and capacity of reception; is that which communicateth it self to Vegetables in life and vegetation, but not in sense, because not receptive of it; to Animals, in life and sense, but not [Page 318]in reason or understanding, because not receptive of it; to Man in life, sense and understanding that is common to the whole species; and if they have but room in them for it, and do not wilfully throw it from them, in grace also and favour and acce­ptation, in the bettering and improving of their Soul, in the influences of his love, direction and guidance: And such a vessel is the humble Soul, empty of Pride, Self­attribution, Vain-glory; one that is glad of such guests, as the Grace and Favour and Acceptance of God; hath room for them in his heart, and so becomes a fit Tabernacle for the Influences of that God, that revives the spirit of the humble. Isa. 57.15.

And here by the Benignity and Favour of God I do not mean heaping of Tempo­ral Honours or Wealth upon men; these are but small inconsiderable things; such as are common to proud, and many times denied to the humble: But they have a better exchange, namely, Peace with God, inward testimonies of his Favours, secret indications of his Love, directions and in­structions by the secret whispers and infor­mations of his Spirit, quietness and tran­quility of mind, and pledges of Immorta­lity and Happiness, those.

Animi bona, sanctosque recessus
Mentis, & incoctum generoso pectus honesto.

And these are things of a far greater value than external Weath and Honour; and as far before them, as the Mind and Soul it self is. But of this more in the next.

2. The second great advantage of the humble soul is, that he shall be sure of Di­rection and Guidance and Counsel from the best of Counsellors, the glorious God of Wisdom; Psal. 25.9. The meek will he guide in judgment; the meek will he teach his way. Meekness and Humility are but the same thing under different names.

And this guidance and direction of Al­mighty God is of two kinds, relating to a double end: 1. Guidance and direction in relation to his Everlasting End, the Sal­vation and Happiness of the Soul; namely, what he is to Believe, and Know, and Do, in order to that greatest and important End. And therefore it is observable that although the Mystery of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, the common Instrument of the Salvation of mankind, is the most wise and profound Design and Mystery, and of the greatest importance that ever the world was acquainted with; yet the most Wise [Page 320]and most Glorious God did vail and dress that great and glorious Mystery quite con­trary to the Wisdom and Grandeur of the World; insomuch that to the most know­ing people of the world, and that were full of their own Knowledge, the Jews, it became a stumbling-block; and to the Greeks, the most learned and wise people in the world, and that were full of the sense of their own Wisdom and Learning, it was accounted foolishness; 1 Cor. 1. After that by wisdom the world knew not God, it pleased him by the follishness of preaching, namely, of the things preached, Christ Crucified, to save them that believe: And accordingly in the Primitive Times it succeeded ac­cordingly, the Wise Rabbies of the Jews and the Learned Philosophers of the Gentiles, for the most part, derided or rejected it: Not many Wise, not many Mighty entertained it; for the Wisdom of God ordered the Wisdom and Mystery of the Gospel quite counter to that wisdom that was in vogue in the World: And we now see the reason why it was fitly and wisely so designed, for it was designed to thwart and cross and confound that corrupt Wisdom of the world, which had before corrupted the world by Wisdom and knew not God. But on the contrary, the Meek and Humble [Page 321]and Lowly minds, and such were some learned, as well as unlearned, these re­ceived the Gospel: The Poor receive the Gospel; the poor in spirit, lowly, meek: He that receiveth not the kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise enter into it. It was fitted, and ordered, and modeled in such a dress, and such a method, that it was suitable to the reception of such Souls, and none but such were receptive of it.

Again, humility disposeth the Glorious God to give, and the humble mind to receive direction and guidance in all the walk and concern of this life. A proud heart ordinarily disdaineth and underva­lueth all other wisdom but his own, and all other counsel but such as suits with his own Wisdom: And therefore the most Glorious God most commonly crosseth and disappointeth him, or leaves him to the headiness and misery of his own counsels, and to eat the bitter fruit of his own rash­ness and folly. For, whatever the blind men of the world think, the actions of men and their successes are under the regi­ment of the Divine Will and Providence; and it is no wonder if he, that invisibly governs the Events of the world, take the wise in their own craftiness, and mingles [Page 322]giddiness and disappointment in their coun­fels, and breaks the head of all their con­trivances; for he hath a thousand ways with ease and facility to do it. We may every day see what small intervention quite shatters, and disorders, and overturns the most politick, subtil, secret, and well laid designs in the world: so that in one mo­ment a pitiful small unexpected occurrence wholly breaks in pieces a design of men laid together with long deliberation and forecast; with huge prospect and precaution of difficulties; with great reserves and pre­parations against all imaginable obstacles; with all the advantages of secresie, power, combination of parties, connexion and contignation of subsidiary ayds; and yet one poor unthought of accident cracks in sunder, and breaks all to shivers the whole elaborate Machina; so that in a moment the shivers thereof lye all broken and dis­joynted like a potshered dasht against a wall; or the whole contrivance disappears like the fabulous enchanted Castles.

But on the other side, an humble man leans not to his own understanding; he is sensible of the deficiency of his own power and wisdom, and trusts not in it; he is also sensible of the all-sufficient Power and Wis­dom and Goodness of Almighty God, and [Page 323]commits himself to him for Counsel, Gui­dance, Direction, and Strength. It is na­tural for any man or thing, that is sensi­ble of his own deficiency, to seek out after that which may be a support and strength to him; and as Almighty God is essentially Good and Perfect, so he is (if I may use the expression) most Naturally Communi­cative of it, to any that seeks unto him for it in humility and sincerity: The Air doth not more natu­rally yield to our attraction in respiration, v. Antonin. 1.8 se. 45. Hand minw vis Intel­lectrix ubi (que) cir­cumfusa est, & omni qui trahere potest se ingerit, quam communis hic aer, omni spirare volenii. or to insinuate in self into those species that are receptive of it, than the Divine Assistance, Guidance, and Benisicence doth to the Desires and Exigences and Wants of an humble Soul, sensible of its own emptiness and deficiency, and implo­ring the Direction, Guidance and Blessing of the most Wise and Bountiful God. I can call my own Experience to witness, that even in the External actions, occurrences, and incidences of my whole Life, I was never disappointed of the best Guidance and Di­rection, when in Humility and sense of my own deficiency, and diffidence of my own ability to direct my self, or to grapple with the difficulties of my Life, I have with [Page 324]humility and sincerity implored the secret Direction and Guidance of the Divine Wis­dom and Providence: And I dare therein appeal to the vigilant and strict observation of any man's Experience, whether he hath not found the same Experience in relation to himself, and his own actions and suc­cesses, and whether those counsels and purposes which have been taken up after an humble invocation of the Divine Di­rection have not always been most succes­ful in the end.

2. And as this Humility is of admirable use, in relation to the Glorious God and the Effluxes of his Blessing and Direction; so it is of singular advantage, in relation to the Humble man himself, as may appear in these ensuing Considerations.

1. Humility keeps the Soul in great Evenness and Tranquility: the truth is, that the storms and tempests and disorders of the Soul do not so much (if at all) arise from the things without us, as from the passions and distempers of the Soul it self, especially that of Pride and Haughtiness, which as the Wise man says, is the mo­ther of Contention, and that within the very Soul it self, as without it is that which blows up the passions of Anger, and Re­venge, and Envy, and Hatred, and Im­patience, [Page 325]and Ambition, and Vain-glory; and from hence it is that the passions do rage, and swell, and roll one upon ano­ther, like the Sea troubled with a storm. What is it, that upon any disgrace, or disrepute, or affront put upon a man, makes him vex himself, even to death, that he hath not leisure scarce for one quiet or composed thought? What is it that makes him jealous of another man's ad­vancement; that makes him hate and envy another that hath attained greater dignity than himself; that makes his thoughts and endeavours restless, till he get to be greater or richer than others; and yet when he hath attained not resting in it, but still aspiring higher; that fills him with fears, and torturing cares, lest he should either miss what he aims at, or lose what he hath attained; that fills him with re­venge against all that oppose him, or stand in his way, with impatience under any cross or disappointment, many times al­most to the extremity of madness and frenzy; that makes him unquiet and dis­contented with his present condition, and raiseth a thousand such disorders and dis­composures in the minds of men? All these are most plainly resolvable into this cursed distemper of Pride and Haughtiness [Page 326]of mind, as might most evidently be made out to any that will but trace back these disorders unto their root and original; and certainly therefore the state of such a man's mind must needs be marvelous disorderly and unhappy.

But Humility cures this disease, this Feaver of the mind; keeps the passions cool, and calm, and quiet, and low, and keeps under hourly discipline, throws cold water upon them. Have I received an affront, a disgrace with great men, con­tempt from my equal or inferiour, re­proach and scandal, disappointment in my expectation of some external advantage? Am I like to be turned out of office, to be made poor, or the like? I have two Considerations, that keep me still in an equal temper, and that silence all those passions, which presently in a proud man would be all on fire, and in a hurly-burly: 1. I know that those things come not without the Divine commission, or at least permission; and shall I not quietly submit to that will of my great Sovereign Lord, to whom I owe myself, and whose will I pray daily may be done? It was an adorable instance of this humility in David, when, to add to his present sad condition, Shimei cursed him so bitterly, [Page 327]and although he had power and opportu­left him to revenge it, yet he forbad it, for it may be the Lord hath bid Shimei curse. And again, 2. What am I, that I must not be crossed, or reproached, or contemned, or disappointed? Alas, a poor weak sinful man, I cannot be made lower in the esteem of the world, than I am in my own. If the world reproach, spoil me of what I have; if I am poor, or scorned, it is but what I deserve, and less than I deserve for my sins at the hand of God: Though perchance I am slandered, or falsly accused by them, yet I know ill enough of my self to make me bear patiently even a false accusation; and they cannot make me more low, and vile, in the esteem of others, than I am in my own. And thus Humility breaks and quenches the pas­sions, and keeps the mind serene and un­disturbed under all external occurrencies. But to descend to particulars more di­stinctly.

2. Humility gives Contentation in any condition or station. And the reason is, be­cause an humble mind is never above that station or condition of life that the Divine Providence orders, but rather under or below it, or at the most holds pace with it. When the mind runs beyond the condition [Page 328]of a man, it is like a spend-thrift, that lives beyond his Estate, and therefore be­comes necessarily poor, and never enjoys what it hath, because it busies it self ever­more in anxious pursuit of what it hath not: And that mind, that in relation to the things of the world, runs beyond its station, can never be contented nor quiet; and though he attain this year, what he anxiously pursued the last year, yet still his mind will be running farther, and still keep before his acquests, as the fore-wheel of the Coach will still run before the hin­der-wheel: But an humble man is ever contented, with what the Divine Provi­dence and Honest Industry allotts him, and enjoys it comfortably and thankfully, and can sit down with a narrow fortune with this contenting contemplation, That which I have is given by the Bountiful God, of liberality, not of debt; if I had less, it were more than I could deserve; for I can with Jacob say, out of the sense of my own unworthiness, I am less than the least of all thy mercies, blessed therefore be his name.

3. Humility gives always Patience under all Adversity of what kind soever it be; and this is always an effect and companion of true humility upon these ensuing Considerations: [Page 329]1. The greatest cause of Impatience is not so much, from the pressure and force of any external cross or calamity, as from the great disturbance and reluctance of the mind of him that suffers it; and this it is that raiseth up the waves and billows within: the cross or calamity it may be is rough and beyond the power of him that suffers it to extricate or control: And on the other side, when it meets with a mind as tumultuous and contumacious as the calamity or cross, it raiseth a storm, as when the wind and tide are contrary, or like that state of Paul's voyage in the Adriatick Sea, where two Seas met, Act. 27. which oftentimes endangers the vessel. He that violently and impetuously contends against a calamity, is like one bound with a strong yoak or bond, his strugling, like a wild Bull in a net, galls him more than the yoak it self otherwise would do; and a proud and haughty spi­rit, commonly miscalled courage, contri­butes more to his own uneasiness than his cross doth: But an humble, lowly mind is naturally more able to bear his cross with more patience, because it is evident that the softness, humility, and quietness, and calmness of his mind breaks the force of the calamity, and renders it more easie [Page 330]by submission to it. 2. Again, every true humble man looks upon the worst con­dition that he is under, to be less than he deserves. As long as a man lives in the world, there is no condition so trouble­som, and painful, and uneasie, but it may be worse; and an humble man always thinks that that condition or circumstance of his life, which may be worse, is not the worst that he deserves. It may be I am poor, but yet I am well esteemed, I deserve both poverty and disesteem; it may be I am poor, and under a cloud also of ignominy and reproach, yet I have my health of body, and composedness and steadiness of mind, and this is more than I deserve: It may be I am, with Job, under a confluence and complication of calami­ties, loss of Estate, of Children and Re­lations, censured by my very friends as an hypocrite and one under the displeasure of Almighty God, my body macerated with diseases, yet I have life, and where there is life there is hope; Wherefore doth the living man complain, a man for the punish­ment of his sins? Lam. 3.39. the living man hath no cause to complain, because al­though he suffer the loss of all other things, yet his life is spared and given him for a prey. The humble man is patient there­fore [Page 331]under his sufferings of any kind, be­cause he carries with him the due sense of his own unworthiness and demerit, and upon a judicious account looks upon his meanest, lowest, worst condition, as bet­ter than he deserves at the hand of God. 3. The humble man is patient under all conditions, because he always bears a mind entirely subject and submitting to the will of the great Sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth, and whom he knows to be the Sovereign Lord of all his Creatures; to be the great dispenser or permitter and rector of all the events in the world; to be the most Wise, Just and Gracious God; and therefore he doth not only submit to his will, as an act of Necessity which we cannot control, or as an act of Duty in obedience to his Sovereign, but as an act of Choice, of Prudence, and because the will of his Maker is wiser than his own, and more eligible than his own; and there­fore he makes the will of his Maker his own choice, and upon the account of true judgment concludes that whatsoever the most Powerful and Irresistible, the most Wise and Prudent, the most Just and Merciful Will of God appoints for him, is not only fit for him to submit unto, but also to choose, and as well cheerfully and [Page 332]thankfully, as patiently and quietly to follow and elect: And therefore since he well knows that all the successes of his life are under the regiment, government and providence of the most Glorious, So­vereign, Wise and Merciful God, even those that seem in themselves most trouble­som, uneasie, and grievous, he patiently and cheerfully comports with the Divine Will in the tolleration of them, and waits upon his All-sufficiency and Goodness in his due time, either to remove them, or to support him under them.

4. Humility gives great Moderation and Sobriety and Vigilance in the fullest enjoy­ments of Temporal Felicity of any kind whatsoever. There is a strange Witch­craft in Prosperity to rob a man of Inno­cence: How many in the world have I in my time seen, that under the greatest pressures of crosses and calamities, of po­verty and reproach, have kept their Con­sciences fair and clean, their Innocence, Integrity, Piety and Goodness within them and about them, that yet by the warm beams and sunshine of external Prosperity have cast off their Innocence, as the Tra­veller did his Cloak in the Fable, made shipwrack of their Consciences, and be­came as great oppressors, as disorderly and [Page 333]debauched livers, as proud and insolent, as perfect worldlings, as if they had never heard of a Heaven or a Hell, of a God or a Redeemer, or of a Judgment to come? True Humility is a great guard upon the Soul of a man against these rocks and hazards. An humble man looks upon all his plenty and prosperity, not as his own, or the reward of his desert, but as the depositum of the great Master of the Families of Heaven and Earth, talents entrusted to him as a Steward and an Ac­countant to employ for his Master's use, service and honour, not for his own gran­deur or pleasure; he considers the more he hath, the greater is his Account, and the greater his Charge, and in it finds no matter to advance his thoughts con­cerning himself, or to make him proud, but to make him the more careful to em­ploy it: And his humility is not dimini­shed by his plenty, but rather increased, and this keeps him sober and moderate in the use of what he hath; for he looks upon all he hath, as none of his own, but his Master's; to whom he is account­able; and as it makes him sober and mo­derate in the use of what he hath, so it makes him studious to employ it to the honour of his Master, and faithful in that [Page 334]employment. Again, as he looks upon the things of this world as deposited in his hands for the account of his Lord, so he looks upon them as dangerous tempta­tions to deceive him of his innocence and integrity; and both these make him ever­more strictly vigilant over himself, lest the present gains and glory and opportu­nity of prosperity get ground upon his mind or his virtue, especially upon his humility: for worldly grandeur secretly steals away that virtue, or impairs it, fooner than any other. Pride is a kind of shadow, or rather a Devil, that ordina­rily haunts and waits upon worldly great­ness and prosperity, and therefore he keeps a strict guard over his heart, and watches narrowly the first blooming or blossoming of Worldly-mindedness, Self-dependance, Trusting in uncertain Riches, making them his Hope or his Confidence; but especially upon swellings of Vain-glory, Pride, Self-applause, and those other ver­min that commonly breed in the Soul, by the worm-influences of prosperity: and he never suffers these unclean Birds to roost or rest in his Soul; checks and rejects the very first motions of them, and crushes these viperous eggs in the very first ap­pearance: and to prevent the very first [Page 335]opportunities of their production, he watcheth himself upon all occasions; se­ruously reflects upon the danger he is in; carefully tryes every emergent Thought, Word and Action, whether it hath any secret tincture of Pride or Vanity, and if he find the least rising of them, he suppres­ses and stifles them.

5. Humility is an excellent Remedy a­gainst the passion of Fear, even of the worst of evils, Death it self, and much more against the fear of Reproaches, Losses, and all external calamities whatsoever; gives patience under an incumbent evil, doth naturally, and by a kind of necessary consequences, arm a man against the fear of an imminent or impendent evil, and upon the very same grounds and reasons, and therefore they need not be again re­peated. Commonly Surprize and Unex­pectedness of any evil renders the Fear more terrible; and because it takes a man upon the sudden, and before he can com­pose himself, or rally those Succours of Hope and Reason to support him against it; it is like a sudden disease, that surpriseth the body that labours under ill humors, before it can allay or moderate them by preparative helps or Catharticks, whereby a sudden combustion ariseth, and many [Page 336]times more danger ariseth from the dis­composure of the humors, than from the malignity of the disease it self. But hu­mility keeps the mind in a sober well pre­pared temper; keeps the passions under discipline, and is always in a readiness to receive the shock of a danger or evil im­minent or impendent, without any great disorder or astonishment: An humble man hath no such great value for himself, as to think he is to be exempt from cala­mities; and therefore is not much startled at the approaching of them: he reckons he hath portion enough in this world, if he can keep his Innocence, the Peace of his Conscience, and Quietness within; as for matters of the world, as he makes not their enjoyment the object of his hope, so he makes not their loss any great motive of his fear; God's will be done is the lan­guage of his Soul in relation to them. Is he threatned with the Loss of his Estate, of his Friends and Relations, of his Ho­nour and Esteem, and hath he the news of his Death either from without, by violencies or persecution, or from within by the forerunners of it, sickness or old age: yet is he by no means tormented with fear by these messengers.

1. The Evenness of his own mind fur­nisheth [Page 337]him with the opportunity and use of his Reason to check his fear as a vain, foolish and unserviceable passion, that may torment him, and by present antici­pation make his present condition worse and more troubelsom, but not cure the danger.

2. The sense of his subordination to the Divine power and pleasure, quiets his mind with this thought: My Maker wants not power to reseue me from the dan­ger, if he please; but if he be not pleased, it is my wisdom and my duty to submit to his good pleasure; it is the Lord that doth inflict or permit, his will be done.

3. Upon the approach of such dangers or evils he retires into himself; What am I, that I should think to be exempt from those imminent evils. what title have I to any the least good I enjoy: is it not the meer bounty of my Maker. If the danger I foresee leave me any thing, if they leave my life, they leave me more than I deserve; if they be such as menace the loss of that also, they yet cannot take away my innocence, my integrity, my peace with God, and with my self; and it is an admirable bounty that the God of heaven hath preserved that to me, and accepts this little poor small good that he [Page 338]finds, or rather makes, in me, so as to reward with his favour and acceptation and peace with him. Good God! when I look upon that which I call my Inno­cence, what a spotted piece it is, that I am even ashamed to call it innocence; when I look upon my Integrity, with what a deal of secret hypocrisie hangs about it, that it deserves not the name of integrity which is truly such; it is his gift to me that is pleased to own and reward it as mine, with peace and favourable acceptance; and as long as he is pleased to continue to me what indeed is his, and thus to accept it as if it were my own, what reason have I to fear the loss of all things else, even life it self: since still I enjoy much more than I deserve, and which no man or devil, no calamity or danger, no not death it self can deprive me of. And thus far of the advantages of Humility in relation to a man's self.

3. The Advantage of humility in re­lation to Others is of two kinds; 1. The advantage the humble man hath to others: 2. The advantage the humble man re­ceives from others upon the account of his Humility.

1. As to the former of these; we may [Page 339]brings to Mankind, by considering the Evil that Pride or a Proud man bringeth thereunto. If a man duly considers most of the mischiefs that happen to mankind and follow them to their Original, he shall find that the most of them owe their ori­ginal to this root. Let a man but look abroad in the world, he shall find a sort of evil Spirits, or Furies in this, that fill it with infinite disorders and misery: For in­stance, Atheisin, Hatred, Strife, Con­tention, Wars, disparaging Powers, He­resies, Envy, Ambition, Sedition, Oppres­sion, Persecution, Detraction, Slandering, Cruelty, Contempt, Uncharitableness, Censoriousness, and a thousand more such devilish Furies, that fill the world with blood, and confusion, and disorder. And now let us but trace those or any of those to their original, we shall find that for the most (part) Pride is that Pandora's Box, out of which they spring and issue. Let us take an estimate of some of them: Atheism, that cuts in sunder all the bonds of Religion, Government, and Society, whence comes it? but by the Pride of mens Hearts, that cannot endure to have a Sovereign Lord above them, but that they may be self-dependent; or the Pride of mens Wits, that out of seorn of any [Page 340]thing they think vulgar, and to magnifie themselves, dare attaque the most sove­reign truth in the world, the Being or Providence of God. So for Contention, Strise, Disobedience to Parents, Rebellion against Governors, they all spring most ordinarily from the same root of Pride: by Pride cometh Contention; men that cannot endure to be controlled, either by Laws or Governors, by Parents or Superiors, but think their own Will and Lusts must be the uncontrollable rule of all their actions. So again for Wars, there is rarely any war be­tween Princes or States, but either of both sides, or at least of one side, Pride and Desire of Domination is the true root and cause of it, though it be gilded over of­tentimes with other pretences. Again, for the most part, the Disputes among persons of Learning, or pretending to it, arise from these lusts of Pride contending for sovereignty in Wit or Learning, im­patient of contradiction, eager and impla­cable, contesting for reputation, victory, and the maintaining of what they have once asserted, and scorning the least re­traction. So that many times, upon petty, inconsiderable, unuseful, inevident trisles, men are as hotly engaged, as if Heaven were at stake upon it: And from hence [Page 341]many times comes Heresies, when men pretending to greatness of wit or learning, but in truth of haughty ungovernable spi­rits, either upon the score of vain-glory and reputation, or upon some conceived affront or neglect from the Orthodox, set up for themselves, draw parties to them, and begin a Scheme of Religion of their own dressing: From the same root comes Envy, Ambition, Detraction from others, because they think all preferment due to their own worth, and that any good that happens to others is a kind of derogation from themselves; aspiring thoughts, and parties endeavouring to crush and ruine all that stand in their way to that mark of grandeur that they aim at. And the like instances might be given in almost all those turbulent Lusts and Passions among men, that break out to the common disturbance of mankind, and all humane Societies.

And therefore certainly, whatsoever virtue or temper or habit (or whatever else we shall call it) there is, that cures this mad, unruly, and exorbitant lust of Pride among men, must needs be one of the most benevolent, and useful, and advan­tageous things to mankind and humane society; and this is that excellent virtue [Page 342]of Humility and Lowliness of the mind.

If this virtue did obtain among all men, it were not possible that those blustering Storms, that disquiet and disorder man­kind, would be found in the world; but instead thereof Peace and Love, mutual offices of Kindness and Charity, Sweetness of Conversation, every one giving prese­rence to one another, rather than invading him, his reputation or interest, benificent to all.

But it is true, there is little hope that all mankind will arrive to such a temper; and this indeed is that which is the only considerable Objection against it, which may be thus improved: You commend Humility, as the great sovereign Antidote against Pride, the com­mon disturber of mankind; and certainly what you say is demonstratively true, if all the world could be perswaded to it; but this never was, nor never can be ex­pected; as there are Wolves, and Lions, and Bears, and Foxes among brutes, as well as Sheep, and other innocent brutes; and as there are Kites, and Vultures, and Hawks among birds, as well as Doves, and other innocent birds; so among men there ever (have been) and ever will be men of Pride and Haughtiness, of Ambition and [Page 343]Vain-glory, of Savage and Cruel Domi­neering spirits: And therefore unless all could be perswaded to be Meek and Hum­ble, it were as good and better that none should be, upon these two accounts; viz. 1. That as long as the most of mankind are guilty of this passion of Pride, nay if it were bmang mut an equal, nay a less number in proportion to those that are humble and meek, the world would still be as tumul­tuous as ever: a violent wind coming out of one East, would make the Sea as trouble­som, as if it came out of a many. 2. Again, those that were meek and humble would be exposed, as a common prey, to all the rest, and their condition would be so much the worse in the world, by their humility and meekness: their case in the world would be like a fair Gamester, that plays fairly, meeting with a foul or cheating Gamester, he were sure to go by the loss: Therefore since Pride, the mo­ther of Violence, will be used in the world by some, and it may be the greatest part of mankind, it is better to be of the same make, to deal with them at their own weapon, to be as proud, and consequently as violent, as the rest of mankind, (for it is part of the Game of the world) and [Page 344]Humility makes his case worse: Ve­terem ferendo inju [...]m invit is novam. Where the Countrey is full of Wolves and Tigers, it is better be a Wolf or a Tiger, as well as they, than be a Sheep and expoted to their Violence.

I Answer to this Objection: 1. As to the former part, that though it be true, that it can never be expected that all the world should be perswaded to be Humble, no more than it can be ex­pected that all should be perswaded to be Virtuous, Just, or Honest, but yet if there were some, though the lesser part, of mankind truly Humble and Lowly, it would make very much to the abating of those Evils that arise by the Pride and Haughtiness of men: 1. Because the more Humble men there are in the world, it necessarily follows there are the fewer Proud men, and consequently fewer common Disturbers of the peace and welfare of mankind and humane society. 2. When the contest comes by the proud man against the proud man, indeed there is the same tumult between them, as if there were none humble; but when the contest is by the proud man against the humble man, the strife is quickly at an end: it is a true Proverb, It is the second blow makes the [Page 345]sray: the humble man gives way to the wrath and insolence of the proud man, and thereby ends the quarrel; for Yielding pacifieth wrath, Effles. 10.4 saith the Wise man, and I have very often ob­served that the Quietness of spirit and Humility of a man attaqued by a Proud man hath subdued and conquered his Pride and Animosity to a wonder, and made him tame, that by opposition would have been furious and implacable. Soft words breaks the bones, v. Prov. 25.15. A sofi tongue breaketh the bone. and a Sword is sooner broken by a blow upon a Cushion or Pillow that yieldeth, than upon a bar of Iron that resists. But if it should fall out, that the Proud man's Vio­lence is not broken by the Gentleness and Facility of the Humble man, whereby he suffers in his own particular, yet there be two advantages that hereby happen to the publick: viz. 1. That the contention is soon at an end; the proud man hath got the day, and the parties are quiet. 2. It gains a secret compassion from the be­holders to the injured humble man, and a general resentment and detestation of the injury committed to the humble man that receives the injury with so much Humi­lity, and bears it with so much Patience; [Page 346]and thereby Pride and Oppression become the common objects of the general dete­station of insolence, pride, and oppression; and the generality of mankind thereupon look on them as beasts of prey, with hatred and abhorrence, and endeavour means to secure themselves against it. 3. A third advantage is this, That though oftentimes humble and good men are exposed to the injuries of the proud, violent and insolent, yet they are a kind of ferment or leaven in the places where they live, and by the secret influences of their virtues, the com­mendableness of their conversation, and the secret interest that virtue hath in the Soul, not only of good but even of the worst men, it doth work upon mankind, assimulates in some measure to it self, and makes others good and humble by a kind of secret Magnetism that that virtue hath upon the minds of men: and the more such are in number in the world, the more ef­fectual and operative their example and influence will be upon those with whom they converse.

2. As to the second, namely, the Da­mage and Detriment that the humble man receives in the world upon the very account of his humility, I answer; First, that Detriment is abundantly recompensed [Page 347]with the quiet and tranquility and even­ness and composedness of his own mind: As a man possesseth his own Soul by pa­tience, so he doth by humility, namely, the composedness, right temper, and due estate of his own mind, which no proud, or violent, or impatient man doth or can. But, secondly, it (is) most certain, that though an humble man, may upon the very score of his humility and meek­ness, receive a brush in the world, yet at the long run he gains advantage there­by, even in this present life. When I first read the saying of our Saviour, Matth. 5. Blessed are the meek, for they (shall) inherit the earth; I looked upon it as a meer Paradox, if applied to the comforts of this life, and therefore thought it must be meerly, and only intended of that new Heaven and new Earth where­in dwelleth the righteous; but upon deeper consideration I found it, in a great measure, true also of the former; for, 1. It is most certain, that no proud man is truly loved by any but himself, but, so far as relates to his pride, every man hates him: One proud man perfectly hates another, and looks upon him as his enemy; and those very actions of pride that his own self love makes him approve, [Page 348]or at least allow in himself, he scorns, derides, abhorrs in another: and though an humble man hath a common love to every man, though proud, or otherwise vicious, as being one of mankind, yet in relation to his pride he loves him not nor approves. That very Consideration therefore, that renders a proud man hated or not loved, renders an humble man loved and approved; yea and by the very proud man himself, for he looks upon him as no obstacle or impediment to the attaining of his ends, as one that is inju­rious to none, benificent to all, gentle, and one that stands not in his way, giving all due respect, honour and difference suitable to his place and dignity; he wisheth all the world were such as he, except himself, and therefore he respects and tenders him; yea and we shall by daily experience see in the world, that if a proud man injure or oppress an humble man, 'tis a thousand to one he undertakes his patronage, defence, and vindication, and very oftentimes is a means of his pro­tection and deliverance. 3. But farther, it is a certain and experienced truth, that Virtue and Goodness, especially that of Humility, hath a secret party and interest [Page 349]love, or at least approve it in another, though they practise it not themselves; for Virtue and Goodness and Humility hath a secret congruity to the true and genuine frame of the humane nature; and though mens lusts and passions in a great mea­sure obscure the consonancy to it, they can never extinguish it, but the mind and conscience will give a secret suffrage, wherever it finds it. 4. It is a thing ob­servable, that though the generality of mankind abound with pride, intemperance, injustice, and almost all kind of vicious dispositions, yea though the best of men are not without the irruptions of some of those distempers, and though it must needs be, that where there is the greatest number there is the greatest external force either to make such laws as they please, or to make such Governors as may be suitable to their disposition; yet it is rare and a very prodigy to find any Nation to make Laws in fa­vour of pride, ambition, intemperance, luxury, oppression, violence, injustice, &c. or to choose such Magistrates or Govern­nours (where it is in their choice) as are apparently inclinable to those Vices; but in their choice they choose such, as may rather suppress those vices, and maintain and encourage sobriety, humility, meek­ness, [Page 350]benificence, as things most conve­nient to humane society; and in their choice of Governors they rather commit the trust of themselves, and their Estates, and properties to those hands that they find sober, temperate, humble, just; than those that are loose, intemperate, proud, ambitious, high-minded, insolent, which is not only an Indication but even a De­monstration, that although mens passions and lusts may transport thousands into those vices, yet their judgments and prin­ciples are against them: And by this means it comes commonly to pass, that though an humble or a virtuous man may meet with justles and rubs from the proud and insolent, yet at the long run he comes off with advantage, because he hath the greatest protection and countenance, not only from the great Sovereign of Heaven and Earth, but also of humane Laws and Governors, which next under God is the greatest protection that can be imagined in this world, which very commonly makes good, even ad literam, the saying of our Saviour, The meek shall inherit the earth; and the saying of the Wise man, Prov. 11.12. Before honour is humility; and Prov. 16.19. Better is it to be of an hum­ble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the [Page 351]spoil with the proud; Prov. 22.4. By Humi­lity and the Fear of the Lord are Riches and Honour and Life. These and the like Sen­tences, as they proceed from the Wisest of meer Men, so they were not spoken at a venture, but upon sound delibera­tion, judgement and experience, and from the true nature and circumstances of things.

And now the due consideration and di­gestion of what hath been said, as it affords excellent and effectual Motives to the fol­lowing of this virtue of Humility, so they contain excellent Means to attain it; because they may put men upon due con­sideration and descending unto themselves; the want of which is the only or princi­pal cause of Pride; for so much of Pride as any man hath, so much of Folly, In­advertence and Inconsiderateness he hath; and true Humility on the other side, is a kind of necessary result of wise and delibe­rate and attentive Consideration.

Yet some things I shall add as Means naturally and immediately conducing to the ingenerating and improving this virtue in the mind of men: 1. Consider whatsoever good thou hast, which may occasion Elation of mind, is but what thou hast received from the free [Page 352]bounty and goodness of thy Maker: What hast thou which thou hast not received?

2. Consider that the good thou hast so received thou hast not received as an abso­lute Proprietor, but only as a Steward to im­prove to thy Lord's use; and the more thou hast of any such good, the greater is the aceouat; whether it be of Wit, of Wisdom, of Learning, of Honour, of Power, of Wealth. If thou art a Re­ceiver, a Treasurer, a Bayliff, a Steward of another man, and perchance upon that account hast a great Treasure of Wealth or Money in thy hands, thou hast indeed great occasion of Care, and Vigilance, and Fidelity, and Circumspection, to husband well and faithfully, to keep thy accounts fair and even; but no cause to make thee proud: it is indeed thy burden, rather than benefit or advantage: to whom much is given, of him shall much be required. Be humble therefore, thou wilt perform thy trust the better; for thou art but an Accountant, a Steward, and depository of what thou hast received.

3. Consider what it is thou pridest thy sels in, and Examine well the nature of the things themselves, how little and inconsi­derable they are, or at least how uncertain and unstable they are, every age, every [Page 353]complexion, every condition and circum­stance of life commonly afford to inconsi­derate souls some little temptation to pride and vanity, which yet if men did well weigh and consider, they would appear to be but little bubbles, that would quickly break and vanish. Thou hast fine gay Cloaths, and this makes children and young men and women proud even to admiration: But thou art not half so fine and gay as the Peacock, Ostridge, or Parrot: nor is thy bravery so much thine own, as theirs is; but it is borrowed from the Silk-worm, the golden Mynes, the industry of the Em­broiderer, Weaver, Taylor; and it is no part of thy self: And hast thou the pa­tience to suffer thy self to be abused into this childish pitiful foolish pride? Thou hast it may be wealth, store of Money, but how much of it is of use to thee? that which thou spendest is gone; that which thou hast is as insignificant as so much dirt or clay, only thy care about it makes thy life the more uneasie: Besides, the more thou hast, the more thou art the mark of other mens rapines, envy, and spoil. 'Tis a thousand to one thou carriest not thy Wealth to thy Grave, or if thou dost, thou canst not carry it farther, but leave it, it [Page 354]art thou proud of that which is of no great use to thee while thou hast it; and commonly the faster thou thinkest to hold it the sooner it is lost, like him that gripes Calice Sand in his fist: Thou hast Honour, Esteem; thou art deceived, thou hast it not, he hath it that gives it thee, and which he may detain from thee at pleasure. The respect, and honour, and esteem thou hast, depends upon the plea­sure of him that gives it.

Again, how brittle and feeble a thing is Honour, Esteem, and Reputation? a false calumny well and confidently broached is able many times to give it an irrecove­rable shock: The displeasure of the Prince, or a greater man than thy self, makes thy Sun set in a cloud; and a popular jealousie, imputation, or misrepresentation in a moment dasheth the Applause, Glory, Honour and Esteem that a man hath been building up twenty or thirty years: And how vain a thing it is to be proud of the breath either of a Prince or people, which as theirs to recall every moment? But suppose it were as fixt and stable a reputa­tion and honour as a rock of Marble or Adamant, and that it were the best kind of honour imaginable, namely, the result of thy virtue and merit, yet still it is but [Page 355]a shadow, a reslexion of that virtue or worth, which if thou art prond of, thou em­basest and degradest into vanity and often­tation: And canst thou think it reasonable to be proud of the shadow, where thou oughtest not to be proud of that worth that causeth it?

Again, thou hast Power, art in great place and Authority; But thou art mis­taken in this, the Power thou hast is not inherent in thy self: one of the meanest of those, whom it may be thou oppressest, is inherently as powerful as thee, and could it may be over-match thee in Strength, Wit or Policy: but the Power thou hast is (next under the dispensation of the Divine Providence) from those men, that either by their Promises, Faith, or Vo­luntary Assistance have invested thee with this Power: This power is nothing inhe­rent in thee; but it depends upon the Fi­delity or Assistance of others, which if they either by Perfidiousness to thee, or Resistance against thee, or withdrawing their Assistance to thee, shall call again home to themselves, thou art like Samson having lost his locks, Judg. 16. 17. thy strength will go from thee, and thou wilt become weak, and be like another man. And how have the Histories of all Ages, [Page 356]and our own experience, shewn us by very frequent examples, men unexpected­ly, and upon many moments and occur­rencies seemingly most small and inconsi­derable, been tumbled in a moment from the most eminent and high degree of Power, into a most despised and despica­ble condition? Power hath very often­times, like Jonas his Gourd, been externally fair and flourishing, when at the same time there lyes a Worm at the root of it unseen, but in a moment gnaws asunder the roots and [heart] of it, and it wi­thers; and for the most part, the more extensive and immensive Humane Power grows, the sooner it falls to pieces, not only by the Divine Providence checking and rejecting, but by a kind of natural result from its own exorbitance and excess: for the greater it is, the more difficult it is to manage; it grows top-heavy, and the Basis grows too narrow and weak for its own burden. Besides it is the common mark of Envy and Discontent, which watcheth sedulously all occasions to un­horse it, and oftentimes prevails. When power proves too grievous and over bur­densom, it loseth the end for which it was conferred, and makes people desperate and impatient. Entia nolunt malè gubernari. If [Page 357]it be managed with Prudence and Mode­ration, it is the greatest Benefit to Humane society: But it is the burden of him that hath it, if it be managed tyrannically and exorbitantly; if fills the Master full of fears, the People full of rage, and seldom proves long-lived. And what reason hast thou to be proud of what is most certainly thy burden, or thy damage, or both?

Again thou hast Strength, or Beauty, or Agility of Body. Indeed this thou hast more reason to call thy own, than any of the former: but yet thou hast no cause to pride thy self in it; thou canst not hold it long at best, for age will decay that Strength and wither that Beauty, and death will certainly put a period to it; but yet pro­bably this Strength or Beauty is not so long-lived as thy self, no nor as thy youth; a disease, it may be, is this very moment growing upon thee, that will suddenly pull down thy Strength, and rase this Beauty, and turn them both into rot­tenness and loathsomness. Nay let any observe it that will, that strength and beauty that raiseth pride in the heart, is of all other shortest-lived, even upon the very account of that very pride: For the often­tation and vain-glory of Strength puts it forth into desperate and dangerous under­takings, [Page 358]to the ruine of the owner; and pride of Beauty renders the owner thereof fond of the praise of it, and so expose it to the view of others, whereby it becomes a temptation to lust and intemperance both to the owner of it and others, and in a little while becomes at once its own ruine and shame. But it may be thou hast Wit and Judgment, a quick and ready Under­standing, and hast improved them by great Study and Observation in great and pro­found Learning: This I confess is much more thy own, than any of the former Endowments; but most certainly if thou art proud of any of these, thou art not yet arrived to the highest improvement of Understanding, namely, Wisdom. Folly and Madness may be consistent with a witty, nay a learned man, but not with a truly Wise man: and this thy pride of these endowments or acquests still pro­nounceth and proclaimeth thee a fool, for all thy wit and all thy learning. For con­sider with thy self thy Wit and Learning are but pitiful narrow things, in respect of the amplitude of the things that are to be known: Maxima pars corum qua scimus, est minima pars corum qua nescimus. Take the most Learned Observant Philosopher that ever was in the world, he never yet [Page 359]was fully acquainted with the nature of those things that are obvious to ordinary observation and near to him; never was the person yet in the world, that could give an accurate account of the nature of a Fly, or a Worm in its full comprehension, no nor of a spire of grass; much less of himself, and of his nobler Faculties; much less yet of those glorious bodies that every day and night object themselves to our view. What a deal of Uncertainty in Evidence, and Contradiction, do we find in the determination of the choicest wits and men of greatest learning, even in things that are obvious and objected in their own sight, to all their senses? So that the greatest Knowledge that men at­tain to in the things of Nature, is little else but a specious piece of Ignorance, dressed up with fine words, formal me­thods, precarious suppositions, and com­petent confidence.

2. Consider how brittle and unstable thing thy Wit, thy Parts, thy Learning is. Though Old Age may retain some broken monuments of thy wit and learning thou once hadst, yet the floridness and vigour of it must then decay and gradually wither, till very Old Age make thee a Child again, if thou live to it: But besides [Page 360]that a Feaver, or a Palsie, or an Apoplexy may greatly impair, if not wholly deface and obliterate thy Learning, deprive thee of thy Memory, of thy Wit and Under­standing: Never be proud of such a pri­viledge or endowment, which is under the mercy of a disease, nay of a distemper in thy blood, an adust humor, a Hypocon­driacal vapour, a casual fume of a Mine­ral, or a fall, whether thou shalt hold it or lose it.

3. But yet farther, mark it while thou wilt, and thou wilt then sooner perceive it in another than in thy self, Wit and Learning in any man never in any case re­ceives more foils, more disadvantage, more blemish, more impair more than by Pride: He that is proud of his own knowledge is commonly at his non ultra, and rarely acquires more, scorns instruction, and stops the farther advance of his faculties, know­ledge or learning, and undervalues, and therefore neglects, what he might learn from others. Again, Pride casts an Un­seemliness, Undecency, and many times even a Ridiculousness upon the greatest Parts and Learning: it is like the dead Fly in the Apothecary's Confection, that makes the whole unsavoury: How common and rife is this unhappy censure, that attends [Page 361]the commendation of such a man's wit and learning; indeed he is a pretty man, a good Scholar, of fine parts, good under­standing, but he knows it too well; his proud self-conceitedness, vain-glory, spoils it all, and renders the man under the just repute of a fool, and ridiculous, notwith­standing all his Clerkship and Learning. But yet farther, Pride, by a kind of phy­sical and natural consequence, very often­times robs men, even of their Wit and Learning, wherein they pride themselves, by carrying up into the brain those exha­led, hot, cholerick humors, and fumes that break the staple and right temper and texture of the brain. More learned men grow mad and brain-sick with the pride of that learning they think they have at­tained, than in the pursuit and acquest of it. Therefore beware of Pride of thy Wit, Learning, or Knowledge, if thou intend to keep it, or to keep thy just esteem or reputation of it. On the other side Hu­mility and Lowliness of mind is the best temper to improve thy faculties, to add a grace to thy Learning, and to keep thee Master of it: it cools and qualifies thy spi­rits, and blood, and humors, and renders thee fit to retain what thou hast attained, and to acquire more.

4. In all thy reflexion upon thy self and what thou hast, never Compare thy self with those that are below thee in what is worthy or eminent, but with those that are above thy self. For instance in point of Learning or Knowledge, thy partiality and indulgence to thy self will be apt to put thee upon comparing thy self with those, that are ignorant or not more learned than thy self, as we see ordinarily idiots, or fools, or men of weak intellectuals, delight to converse with those they find or think more foolish than themselves, with a thought that they are the wisest in the company: but compare thy self with those that are more learned or wise than thy self, and thou wilt see matter to keep thee humble. If thou thinkest thou art a pretty proficient in Phi­losophy, compare thy self with Aristotle, with Plato, with Themistius, or Alexander Aphrodisaeus, or other great Luminaries in Philosophy; if thou thinkest thou art a pretty proficient in School-Learning, com­pare thy self with Aquinas, Scotus, Suarez; if thou think thou excellest in the Mathe­maticks, compare thy self with Euclide, Archimedes, Tycho, &c. and then thou wilt find thy self to be like a little Candle to a Star. The most of the Learning that this Age glories of, is but an Extract or [Page 363]Collection of what we find in those men of greater parts; only we think we have done great matters if we digest it into some other method, and prick in here and there a small pittance of our own, or quarrel at something that the Ancients delivered in some odd particulars.

And yet even in this very essay Self­love playes such a part, that unless there be a great excess and admirable advantage of others that are above as in any learning or knowledge, we are ready to exalt our selves above our standard, and seem in our own eyes to be at least equal to those that exceed us, or by envy and detraction to bring down others below our selves, espe­cially if we hit upon some little caprichio that we think they said not.

5. And lastly, consider the great Example of our Lord and Master Christ Jesus, who was the only Son of the glorious God, full of Wis­dom, Knowledge, Power, Holiness, Good­ness and Truth, and notwithstanding all this, humbled himself and became of no re­putation, and took upon him the form of a Servant, emptied himself, and humbled him­self, and became obedient to death, even the death of the Cross; Philipp. 2.5, 6, 7, 8. Christ Jesus brought with him from hea­ven the Doctrine of Holiness and Righteous­ness, [Page 364]ness, and in all his Sermons there is not any one Virtue that he commendeth and commandeth more than Humility and Lowliness of Mind, nor any one Vice that he sets himself more against than Pride and Haughtiness of Mind. In his Beati­tudes, Matth. 5.35. Poverty of Spirit hath the first promise, and Meekness and Hu­mility the third. Matth. 23.6, 7. He checks and disparageth the Pride of the Pharises, commands his Disciples to run quite counter to their method; He that will be great among you, shall be your servant. Again, Matth. 18.1. Luk.9. Mar.9. 34. when the bubble of Ambition arose among the Disciples, who should be greatest, he checks their Pride with the pattern and commendation of a little Child: And what he thus taught, he lived. One of the great Ends of the mission of Christ into the world, was that he should not only be a Preacher of Virtue, Goodness; and Piety, but also an Example of it: And if we look through the whole life of Christ, there is not one virtue that he did more signally exercise, or by his example more expresly commend to the imitation of Christians, than Humility. I do not re­member that he saith in any place Learn of me to do Miracles, for I am mighty in [Page 365]power; no nor yet Learn of me, for I am Holy, for I am Obedient to the Law of God, for I am Liberal, though in all these he was exhibited as an excellent Example of Holiness, Obedience, and Charity, and must be the pattern of our imitation: But as if Humility and Lowliness of Mind were the great Master-piece of his Exam­ple, he calls out, even when he was in one of the highest Extasies of spirit, that we find until his Passion, Matth. 11. 25, 29. Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls: And in that signal advice given by the Apostle, Phil.5. Let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no repu­tation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man; and being found in the fashion of a man, he hum­bled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.

But Blessed Saviour! was there nothing else for us to learn of thee, but thy Meek­ness and Humility? was there not some­thing else wherein we were to bear in Mind, thy Image, and write after thy Ex­cellent Copy? was there not thy Holiness, Purity, Obedience, Patience, Trust in [Page 366]God, and all that Constellation of Vir­tues that appeared in thy Doctrine and Life?

Surely yes, he was exhibited both as a Prophet to Teach, and an Example to be Imitated in all these also, but in his Humility, if we may say with reverence, before all:

1. Because the instance and example of his Humility was the most signal and wonderful of all the rest of his admirable virtues; that the Eternal Son of the Eter­nal God should condescend so low, as to become a man, born of a woman, and live upon earth such a despised life, and dye such an accursed death, is an in­stance of Humility, not only beyond all example, but an instance is impossible in nature to be parallel'd.

2. Because Pride and Vain-glory is so unhappily rivetted in the corrupt nature of man, and it is so hard a thing to bring him to be humble and lowly, notwith­standing all the benefits and advantages of it, that it did not only stand in need of the most explicit Doctrine of Christ to teach and commend it, the most unparal­lel'd Example of Christ to win men over to it, but also the most plain and direct and explicit explication of that Example [Page 367]by that remarkable and special invitation of our Lord to it, Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly; and again by his Apostle, Let the same mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus, &c.

3. Because without Humility to prepare and mellow the hearts of men, it would not be morally possible for them to receive the Faith of Christ. It was Pride that made the Doctrine of Christ only to be to the Jews a stumbling-block, to the Greeks foolishness, but to them that are called, viz. that obey the call of Christ, Matth. 11.28. Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, &c. Learn of m [...] for I am meek and lowly in heart; it is Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God. 1 Cor. 1.23, 24.

4. Because, without Humility, all the rest of those Excellent Virtues, that were taught in the Doctrine, and exhibited in the Example of Christ, had been but unac­ceptable: A visible Holiness, yet accom­panied with Pride and Ostentation, is but a disguise of holiness, that accursed hypo­crisie, that our Saviour condemned in the Pharisees and others, Matth. 6.16. Obe­dience to the Law of God, Good works, Fasting, Prayers, yet if done with Pride, Ostentation, and Vain-glory, are dead and [Page 368]unacceptable. Matth. 23.5. Charity, Alms, and Benificence, if done with Pride, and Ostentation, and to receive Glory of men, loseth its worth and reward. Matth.6.12. So that Humility and Lowliness of Mind is the substratum and ground-work, the necessary ingredient into all acceptable duties towards God or Men.

A GOOD METHOD TO ENTERTAIN Unstable and Troublesome TIMES.

THe first expedient is to Expect them before they come; the very state of the World is Uncertain and Un­stable, and for the most part Stor­my and Troublesome. If there be some intervals of Tranquillity and Sedateness, they are commonly attended with longer periods of unquietness and trouble; and the greatest impressions are then made by them, when they surprize us, and come un­expected. When the mind is prepared for them by a kind of Anticipation, it abates the edge, and keenness, and sharpness of them. By this means a man, in a great mea­sure, knows the worst of them before he feels them, which renders the very incum­bence [Page 2]of them not so smart and troublesome to sense, as otherwise they would be. This Pre-apprehension and Anticipation of trou­bles and difficulties is the mother of Pre­vention, where it is possible; and where it is not, yet it is the mother of Patience and Resolution when they come. Bilney the Martyr, was wont before he suffered, to put his Finger in the Candle, to habitu­ate himself to a patient undergoing of his future Martyrdom; by this means, he in a great measure knew the worst of it, and armed himself with resolution and patience to bear i [...]. Men are too apt to feed their fancies with the Anticipation of what they hope for and wish in this World, and to possess it in imagination, before they attain it in fruition; and this makes men vain: and if they would have the patience some­times to anticipate what they have just cause to fear, and to put themselves under a Pre-apprehension of it, in relation to crosses and troubles; it would make them wise, and teach them a lesson of Patience and Mo­deration, before they have occasion to use it; so that they need not then begin to learn it when the present and incumbent Pressure renders the lesson more difficult. This was the Method our Blessed Lord took with his Disciples, frequently to tell them [Page 3]before-hand what they must expect in the world, Math. 10. and in divers other pla­ces, telling them, they must expect in this world the worst of temporal evils, that they might thereby be prepared to entertain them with Resolution and Patience, and might habituate their minds for their recep­tion.

2. The second expedient is, that we use all diligence to gain such a Treasure as lies a­bove the reach of the Storms of this world; a Kingdom that cannot be shaken; namely, our Peace with God in Christ, the Pardon of our Sins, and a well-grounded Hope, and assurance of Eternal Life. These be things that lie out of Gun-shot, and will render the greatest troubles that can befall this lower world, or us in it; not only tol­lerable, but small and inconsiderable, when in the midst of all the concussions of this world, in the midst of Losses of Goods or Estate, in the midst of Storms, and Confusi­ons, and Disasters, and Calamities, a man can have such deep and settled considerati­ons as these: Though I can see nothing but Confusions, and little hopes of their amend­ment, yet I have that which is out of the reach of all these; that which is infinitely more va­luable to me, than all the best the World can give; that which I can please and comfort my [Page 4] self in, not with standing all these worldly di­stractions and fears; namely, the assurance of my Peace with the great God of Heaven and Earth. The worst that I can suffer by these dis­composures, & the most I can fear from them, is but death; and that will not only put a period to the things I suffer, or can fear in this life, but will let me into the actual possession of my hopes, even such a state of glory & happiness as can never be ended, nor shaken. Such a hope, and such an assurance as this, will keep the soul above water, and in a state of peace and tranquillity in all the Tempests and Ship­wracks that can befal either this inferiour World, or any person in it.

3. The third Expedient is this, that a man be Resolvedly constant to keep a good Conscience, both before the approach of Troubles, and under them. It is most cer­tainly true, that the very Sting and Venom of all Crosses and Troubles, is Sin, and a Consciousness of the guilt of it. This is that which gives Troubles and Crosses, and Calamities their vigor, force, and sharpness; it is the Elixir, the very Life of them, when a man shall be under extream outward Cala­mities, loss of Goods, loss of Liberty, loss of Country, all outward hopes failing, and still greater Billows, and Waves, and Storms, and Fears, in prospect, and within an an­gry, [Page 5]unquiet, avenging Conscience, then in­deed troubles have their perfection of Ma­lignity. But if a man, in the midst of all these black and stormy appearances, hath a Conscience full of Peace, and Integrity, and comfortable Attestation, this gives a Calm in the midst of all these Storms; and the reason is apparent: for it is not the Tem­pestuousness or Tranquillity of Externals, that creates the trouble or the quietness of the Man, but it is the Mind, and that state of composure or discomposure that the mind is put into occasionally from them; and since there is nothing in the world that con­duceth more to the composure & tranquil­lity of the mind, than the Serenity and Clearness of the Conscience; keep but that safe and untainted, the mind will enjoy a calm and tranquillity in the midst of all the storms of the World; and although the Waves beat, and the Sea works, and the Winds blow, that mind that hath a quiet and clear Conscience within, will be as stable and as safe from perturbation, as a Rock in the midst of a Tempestuous Sea, and will be a Goshen to, and within it self, when the rest of the world without, and round about a man, is like an Egypt for Plagues and Darkness. If therefore, either before the access or irruption of troubles, [Page 6]or under their pressure, any thing or person in the world sollicite thee to ease or deliver thy self by a breach or wound of thy Con­science, know, they are about to cheat thee of thy best security under God, against the power and malignity of troubles; they are about to clip off that Lock, wherein next under God, thy strength lieth. What-ever therefore thou dost hazard or lose, keep the integrity of thy Conscience, both before the access of troubles and under them. It is a Jewel, that will make thee Rich in the midst of Poverty; a Sun, that will give thee Light in (the) midst of darkness; a Fortress that will keep thee safe in the greatest danger, and that is never to be ta­ken, unless thou thy self betray it, and deli­ver it up.

4. The next Expedient is this; namely, an Assurance that the Divine Wisdom, Power, and Providence, doth Dispose, Govern, and Order all the things in the world, even those that seem most confused, irregular, tumul­tuous, and contumacious. This, as it is a most certain truth, so is it a most excellent expedient to compose and fettle the mind, especially of such a man who truly loves and fears this great God, even under the blackest and most dismal Troubles and Confusions, for it must most necessarily [Page 7]give a sound, present, and practical Argu­ment of Patience and Contentation. For even these black dispensations are un­der the government and management of the most Wise and Powerful God. Why should I, that am a foolish vain Creature, that scarce see to any distance before me, take upon me to censure these Dispensations, to struggle impatiently with them, to disquiet and torment my self with vexation at them? Let God alone to govern and order the world as he thinks fit: as his Power is infi­nite and cannot be resisted, so is his Wisdom infinite, and knows best what is to be done, and when, and how. 2. As it gives a sound Argument of Patience and Content­edness, so it gives a clear inference of Re­signation of our selves up unto him, and to his will and disposal, upon the account of his Goodness. It is the mere Bounty and Goodness of God that first gave being to all things, and preserves all things in their Be­ing; that gives all those Accomodations and Conveniencies that accompanie their Being; why should I therefore distrust his Goodness? As he hath Power to do what he pleaseth; Wisdom to direct and dispose that Power, so he hath infinite Goodness, that accompanies that Power and that Wis­dom. As I cannot put my will into the [Page 8]hands of greater Wisdom, so I cannot put my will into the hands of greater Goodness: His Beneficence to his Creatures is greater than it is possible for the Creatures to have to themselves. I will not only therefore patiently Submit to his Power and Will, which I can by no means resist, but chear­fully Resign up my self to the disposal of his Will, which is infinitely best, and therefore a better rule for my disposal, than my own will.

5. The next Expedient is Faith and Re­cumbence upon those Promises of his, which all wise and good men do, and must value above the best Inheritance in this World: namely, that he will not leave nor forsake those that fear and love him. Heb. 13.5. How much more shall your Heavenly Father give good things to them that ask him, Matth. 6.30 Matth. 7.11. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Rom. 8. 32. All things shall work to­gether for good to them that love God, Rom 8. 28 Upon the assurance of these Divine Promises, my heart may quiet it self in the midst of all the most dark and tumultuous concussions in the world. Is it best for me to be delivered out of them, or to be pre­served in or under them? I am under the [Page 9]Providence and Government of my Hea­venly Father, who hath said, He will not leave me, nor forsake me; who takes more care of me, and bears more love to me than I can bear to my most dutiful Child; that can in a moment rescue (me) from the cala­mity, or infallibly secure me under it; that sees and knows every moment of my con­dition, and a thousand expedients to pre­serve or relieve me. On the other side, do I fall in the same common calamity, and sink under it without any deliverance from it, or preservation under it? His will be done; I am sure it is for my good, nay, it is not possible it should be otherwise. For my very death, the worst of worldly evils will be but the transmission of me into a state of Blessedness, Rest, and Immortality; for, Blessed are they that die in the Lord, they rest from their labours and (their) works follow them.

6. The next Expedient is Prayer. The glorious God of Heaven hath given us a free and open access to his Throne, there to sue out by Prayer, those Blessings and Mer­cies which he hath promised. It is not on­ly a Duty that we owe in recognition of the divine Soveraignty; a Priviledge of greater value than if we were made Lords [Page 10]of the whole Earth; but a Means to attain those Mercies, that the Divine Wisdom and Goodness knows to be fittest for us; by this means we may be sure to have delive­rance or preservation, if useful or fit for us; or if not, yet those favours and condescen­tions from Almighty God, that are better than deliverance it self; namely, Patience and Contentedness with the Divine Good Pleasure; Resignation of our wills to him; great Peace and Tranquillity of mind; Evi­dences and Communications of his Love and Favour to us; Support under our weaknesses and despondences: and many times Almighty God, in these Wildernesses of distractions and confusions, and storms, and calamities, whether publick or pri­vate, gives out as a return to hearty and faithful prayer, such Revelations of his Goodness, and Irradiations of his Favour and Love, that a man would not exchange for all the external happiness that this world can afford; and Recompenceth the loss and troubles in relation to externals, with a far greater measure of the Manifesta­tions of his favour, than ever a man did receive in his greatest confluence of exter­nal advantages. Yea, and possibly, the time of external storms and troubles is far [Page 11]more seasonable for such returns of faithful and humble prayer, than the times of exter­nal affluence and benefits: and the devo­tion of the soul by such troubles raised to a greater height, and accompanied with more Grace and Humility and Fervency, than is ordinarily found in a condition of external peace, plenty and serenity.

Changes and Troubles.

Peace way-ward Soul! let not those various storms,
Which hourly fill the World with fresh Alarms,
Invade thy Peace; nor discompose that Rest,
Which thou maist keep untoucht within thy Breast,
Amidst those whirlwinds, if thou keep but free
Thy Intercourse betwixt thy God and thee.
The Region lies above these Storms: and know
Thy thoughts are earthly, and they creep too low;
If these can reach thee, or access can find,
To bring or raise like Tempests in thy Mind.
But yet in these disorders something lies,
That's worth thy notice, out of which the Wise
May trace, and find that Just and Powerful Hand,
That secretly, but surely doth Command
And Manage these distempers with that skill,
That while they seem to Cross they Act his Will.
Observe that Silver Thred, that steers and bends
The worst of all disorders, to such Ends,
That speak his Justice, Goodness, Providence,
Who closely guides it by his Influence.
And though these Storms are lond, yet listen well,
There is another message that they tell:
This World is not thy Country; 'tis thy Way;
Too much contentment would invite thy stay
Too long upon thy journey; make it strange
Ʋnwelcome News, to think upon a Change:
Whereas this rugged entertainment send
Thy thoughts before thee to thy journeys end;
Chides thy desires homeward; tells thee plain,
To think of resting here it is but vain;
Makes thee to set an equal estimate,
On this uncertain World, and a just rate
On that to come: It bids thee wait and stay,
Until thy Master calls, and then with joy
To entertain it. Such a Change as this,
Renders thy Loss thy Gain; improves thy Bliss.

OF THE REDEMPTION OF TIME How, and why it is to be REDEEMED.

I Would consider these Particulars: 1. What that Time is which we are to Redeem. 2. What it is to Re­deem that Time. 3. How that Time is to be Redeemed. 4. Why that Time is thus to be Redeemed.

The first of these, what that Time is, that is to be Redeemed. The Philosophers trou­ble themselves much what time is, and leave it very difficult; but we shall not need to trouble our selves with that in­quiry. The Time that is here meant, seems to be under this double Relation: First, in relation to some apt season for any thing to [Page 16]be done; and then it is properly called Op­portunity; which is nothing else but the co-incidence of some circumstance accom­modate to some action suitable to it: as the Time for the Husband-man to Reap his Corn, is when the Corn is ripe, and the weather seasonable. It is time for the Smith to forge his Iron when it is hot, and there­fore malleable; and so in matters moral: It is a time to shew mercy when an object of misery occurrs, and a power to give relief. This, as I take it, is that which the Greeks call [...], or Opportunity. Secondly, In relation to that continuance of the duration of the reasonable Creature in life, in this world, or the time of our life.

2. To Redeem Time therefore, is in rela­tion to both these, viz. 1. In relation to Seasons or Opportunities: the Redemption of Time in this respect is 1. Diligently to watch and observe all fitting Seasons and Opportunities of doing all the good we may, whether in relation to Almighty God, his Service and Glory; in relation to o­thers, in all acts of Charity and Justice; in relation to our selves, in improvements of Knowledge, Piety and Vertue. 2. In­dustriously to lay hold of all these opportu­nities, and not to let them slip, but to apply suitable actions to suitable opportunities, [Page 17]when they occurr. 2. In relation to the times of our lives; and so we are said to Redeem our Time. 1. When we con­stantly imploy our time, and leave as few vacuities and interstitia in it without im­ploying it; the opposite to this is Idleness, or doing nothing. 2. When we imploy our time constantly in doing something that is answerable to the value and usefulness of our time. 3. The opposites to this, are first, the sinful imployment of our time, which is indeed worse than Idleness: Or Secondly, the vain, and impertinent, and unprofitable imployment of our time, as Domitian did in killing of Flyes. When we imploy our time not only in things profitable, but in such things as are of greatest use and impor­tance; and therefore such imployments as are of greatest importance and concern­ment, ought to take up the greatest and most considerable part of our time; other­wise we are imprudent and irrational in the Improvement or Redemption of our Time. And therefore this Redeeming of our Time is ordinarily called Husbanding of our time, in resemblance of the Husband-mans pro­ceeding with his ground. If the Husband­man doth not at all Till and Sow his ground, but is idle; or if he takes much pains in Tilling of his ground, and Sowes no­thing [Page 18]but Cockle and Darnel, or such hurt­ful Seeds; or if he Sowes not that which is hurtful, but Sowes light or unprofitable Corn; or Sowes that ground with a more ignoble and unuseful Grain, which would with more reason and advantage be im­ployed to a more noble grain, that would yield more prosit; or if he Sowes a suitable grain, but observes not his season proper for it, that man is an ill Husband of his ground: And he that with the like negli­gence, or imprudence Husbands his time, is an ill Husband of his time, and doth not re­deem it as he is here directed. But of this more in the next.

3. How Time is to be Redeemed. The particular Methods of Husbanding of Time under both the former relations, viz. in relation to opportunity, and in relation to our time of life, shall be promiscuously set down. Now the actions of our lives may be distinguished into several kinds, and in relation to those several actions, will the imployments of our times be diversified. 1. There are actions Natural, such as are Eating, Drinking, Sleep, Motion, Rest. 2. Actions Civil; as Provision for Families, bearing of publick Offices in times of Peace or War; moderate Recreations and Diver­tisements; imployments in civil Vocations, [Page 19]as Agriculture, Mechanical Trades, Liberal Professions. 3. Actions Moral, whether relating to our selves, as Sobriety, Tempe­rance, Moderation, (which though they are rather habits than action, and the actions of them rather consists in Negatives than Positives, yet I stile them actions) or rela­ting to others, as acts of Justice, Charity, Compassion, Liberality. 4. Or last, Actions Religious, relating to Almighty God, as Invocation, Thanksgiving, Inquiringinto his Works, Will, Obedience to his Law and Commands, observing the solemn seasons of his Worship and Service, and, which must go through and give a tincture to all the rest, a habit of Fear of him, Love to him, Humility and Integrity of heart and soul before him; and in sum, a habit of Re­ligion towards God in his Son Jesus Christ; which is the magnum oportet, the one thing necessary, and over-weighs all the rest upon this account. 1. In respect of the excel­lency and soveraignty of the Object, Al­mighty God, to whom we owe our Being, and the strength and flower of our Souls. 2. In respect of the nobleness of the end thereby and therein to be attained; for whereas all the rest serve only to the Meri­dian of this Life, the latter hath a prospect to an eternal Life. 3. In respect of the [Page 20]nobleness of the habit it self, which hath an universal influence into all the rest of the before-mentioned relations, and advanceth and improveth, and innobleth them. It would be too long to prosecute the me­thods of Redeeming the Time in the parti­cular relations to all these actions in this sheet of paper; therefore in this pursuit of the manner of Redeeming the Time, I shall set down only these generals.

1. We are to neglect no opportunity that occurs to do good; but 1. To watch all opportunities, that offer themselves in order thereunto. 2. To seek for them, if they offer not themselves. 3. To use them, and not to let them slip.

2. In the co-incidence of opportunities of several kinds, and suiting to several actions, to give those the praelation that correspond to the most worthy actions; and in the co-incidence of opportunities for actions of e­qual moment to prefer such as are most rare, and probably of unlikelihood to occur a­gain, before those that are under a proba­bility of frequent occurrence.

3. We are to be very careful to leave no banks or interspersions of idleness in our lives. Those men that have most imploy­ment, and of the most constant nature, can­not choose but have certain interstitia be­tween [Page 21]tween the varieties of business, which may be fitted with imployments suitable to their length or qualities; and it becomes a good Husband of his time to have some designa­tions and destinations of businesses that may be suitable to the nature, quality, seasons, and morae of those vacant interstitia. An industrious Husband-man, Trades-man, Scholar, will never want business fitted for occasional vacancies and horae subsecivae. Gellius, his Noctes Atticae have left us an ex­periment of it: And a Christian, even as such, hath ready imployments for occasio­nal interstices, Reading, Praying; the crums and fragments of time would be fur­nished with their suitable imployments; 'tis precious, and therefore let none of it be lost.

4. Much time might be save dand re­deemed in retrenching the unnecessary expen­ces thereof in our ordinary sleep, attiring and dressing our selves, and the length of our Meals, as Breakfasts, Dinners, Suppers; which, especially in this latter Age, and a­mong people of the better sort, are pro­tracted to an immoderate and excessive length: There is little less than ten or twelve hours every day spent in these re­fections, and their appendancies which might be fairly reduced to much less.

5. Take heed of entertaining vain thoughts, which are a very great consump­tion of time, and is very incident to Melan­choly and Fanciful persons, whom I have known to sit the greatest part of several days in projecting what they would do if they had such Estates, Honours, or Places, and such kind of unprofitable and vain me­ditations; which humour is much im­proved in them that lie long in bed in a Morning.

6. Beware of too much Recreation. Some bodily exercise is necessary, for sedentary men especially; but let it not be too fre­quent, nor too long. Gameing, Taverns, and Plays, as they are pernicious, and cor­rupt Youth; so if they had no other fault, yet they are justly to be declined in respect of their excessive expence of time, and ha­bituating men to idleness and vain thoughts, and disturbing passions and symptoms, when they are past, as well as while they are used. Let no Recreations of any long continuance be used in the Morning, for they hazard the loss or discomposure of the whole day after.

7. Visits made or received, are for the most part an intollerable consumption of time, unless prudently ordered; and they are for the most part spent in vain and im­pertinent [Page 23]discourses. 1. Let them not be used in the Morning. 2. If the visits be made to, or by persons of impertinence, let them be short, and at such times as may be best spared from what is more useful or ne­cessary, viz. at Meals, or presently after. 3. But if the persons to be visited, are men of Wisdom, Learning, or Eminence of parts, the visits may be longer, but yet so as the time may be prositably spent in useful discourse, which carries with it, as well profit and advantage, as civility and re­spect.

8. Be obstinately constant to your Devo­tions at certain set times; and be sure to spend the Lords day entirely in those Religi­ous duties proper for it; and let nothing but an inevitable necessity divert you from it. For, 1. It is the best and most prosita­bly spent time; it is in order to the great end of your being in this World. 2. It is in order to your everlasting happiness; in comparison of which, all other businesses of this life are idle and vain; it is that which will give you the greatest comfort in your Life, in your Sickness, in your Death; and he is a Fool that provides not for that which will most certainly come. 3. It is the most reasonable tribute imaginable unto that God, that lends you your time, and you are [Page 24]bound to pay it under all the obligations of duty and gratitude: And 4. It is that which will sanctifie and prosper all the rest of your time, and your secular imployments. I am not apt to be superstitious, but this I have certainly & infallibly found true, that by my deportment in my duty towards God, in the times devoted to his Service, especially on the Lords day, I could make a certain con­jecture of my success in my secular occasions the rest of the week after: If I were loose and negligent in the former, the latter ne­ver succeeded well; if strict, and conscien­tious, and watchful in the former, I was suc­cessful and prosperous in the latter.

9. Be industrious and faithful in your Calling. The merciful God hath not only indulged unto us a far greater portion of time for our ordinary occasions, than he hath reserved to himself, but also injoyns and requires our industry and diligence in it. And remember that you observe that industry and diligence, not only as a civil means to acquire a competency for your self and your Family, but also as an act of obedience to his Command and Or­dinance; by means whereof, you make it not only an act of civil conversation, but of obedience to Almighty God, and so it be­comes in a manner spiritualized into an act Religion.

10. Whatever you do, be very careful to retain in your heart a habit of Religion, that may be always about you, and keep your heart, and your life always as in his presence, and tending towards him. This will be continually with you, and put it self into acts, even although you are not in a solemn posture of Religious worship, and will lend you multitudes of Religious Ap­plications to Almighty God, upon all occa­sions and interventions, which will not at all hinder you in any measure in your secular occasions, but better and further you; it will make you faithful in your Calling, even upon the account of an actual reflexion of your mind upon the presence and command of the God you fear and love: It will make you actually thankful for all successes and supplies; temperate and sober in all your natural actions; just and faithful in all your dealings; patient and contented in all your disappointments and crosses; and actually consider and intend his Honour in all you do; and will give a tincture of Re­ligion and Devotion upon all your secular imployments, and turn those very actions, which are materially civil or natural, into the very true and formal nature of Religi­on, and make your whole life to be an un­intermitted life of Religion and Duty to [Page 26]God. For this habit of piety in your soul, will not only (not) lie sleeping and un­active, but almost in every hour of the day will put forth actual exertings of it self in applications of short occasional Prayers, Thanksgivings, Dependance, resort unto that God that is always near you, and lodg­eth in a manner in your heart by his fear, and love, and habitual Religion towards him. And by this means you do effeually, and in the best and readiest manner imagin­able, doubly Redeem your Time. 1. In the lawful exercise of those natural and ci­vil concerns which are not only permitted, but in a great measure injoyned by Almigh­ty God. 2. At the same time exercising acts of Religious duties, observance and Vencration unto Almighty God, by perpe­tuated, or at least frequently reiterated, though short acts of devotion to him. And this is the great act of Christian Chymistry, to convert those acts that are materially na­tural or civil, into acts truly and formally Religious; whereby the whole course of this life is both truly and interpretatively a Service to Almighty God, and an uninter­rupted state of Religion, which is the best, and noblest, and most universal redempti­on of his Time.

11. Be very careful to prefer those actions [Page 27]of your life that most concern you; be sure to do them first, to do them chiefest, to do them most. Let those things, that are of less moment, give place to those things that are of greatest moment. Every man of the most ordinary prudence, having many things to do, will be sure to be doing of that first and chiefest which most concerns him, and which being omitted, and possi­bly wholly disappointed, might occasion his most irreparable loss. We have, it is true, many things to be done in this life, Ars longa, vita brevis; and we have seasons and opportunities for them; but of these many things, some are barely conveniencies for this life: Some, though they seem more necessary, yet still they rise no higher, nor look no surther, nor serve no longer, but only for the Meridian of this life, and are of no possible use in the next moment after death. The Pleasures, the Prosits, the Honours, the most florid accommodations of great humane Learning, stately Houses and Palaces, goodly Possessions, greatest Ho­nours, highest Reputation, deepest Policy, they are fitted only to this life; when death comes, they are insignisicant pittiful things, and serve nothing at all to the very next moment after death; nay, the diseases and pains, and languishings that are the praelu­dia [Page 28]of death, render them perfectly vain, if not vexatious and torturing. But there are certain businesses that are not only excel­lently useful in this life, but such as abide by us in sickness, in death; nay, go along with us with singular comfort into the next life, and never leave us, but state us in an eternal state of rest and happiness, such as may be with much ease acquired in the times of health and life, but very difficult to be attained in the time of Sickness, and the hour of death, but never to be gotten after death; such as are of that necessity, that in comparison of them, all other things are im­pertinent and vain, if not desperately noxi­ous and hurtful. There is no necessity for me to be Rich, and to be great in the World; to have such a title of Honour, such a place of Dignity, or Profit; to leave such an In­heritance or titular Dignity to my Son, or to have so many thousand pounds in my In­ventory, when I die; but certain matters of absolute necessity to me, such as if I am without, I am undone and lost, and yet such as if not attained here in this life, can never be attained: and therefore, as it con­cerns me in the highest degree to attain them; so it concerns me in the highest de­gree to attain them in this life, and to take all opportunities imaginable in order there­unto, [Page 29]and to redeem every minute of time for that purpose, lest I should be for ever disappointed, and not to be like the foolish Virgin, to be getting of Oyl when the door is ready to be shut; and with the Truant-Scholar, to trifle away my time al­lotted me for my lesson and then to begin to learn it when my Master calls for me to re­peat it; and those businesses are such as these: the Knowledg of Christ Jesus, and him Crucified; the attainment of Faith in God through him; the acquaintance of my self with the will God; the comparing of my self with that will; the exercise of true and serious Repentance for sins past; the steady resolution of Obedience to his will for the time to come; the attaining of the pardon of my sins, and peace with God through Christ our Lord; the subduing of my Lusts and Corruptions; the conforma­tion of my will and life to the holy will of God, and the perfect pattern of Holiness, Christ Jesus; the working out my salvation with fear and trembling; the giving all di­ligence to make my Calling and Election sure; the fitting and purging of my self to be a Vessel of Glory and Immortality, and fitted for the use of my great Lord and Ma­ster; the casting of my self into such a frame and posture of mind and life, that I may be fitted and ready to die, and give up my ac­count [Page 30]to my Lord with peace and chearful­ness, and comfort; so that if I should, either by the hand of some disease or casualty, or other providence, receive this solemn mes­sage, Set thy House in order for thou shalt die. I might receive it with as much readiness, willingness, and chearfulness, as a faithful and diligent Servant would receive this command from his Master; You must take such a Journey for me to morrow. These, and such like businesses as these, besides the constant tenor of a just, virtuous, and piou [...] life, are the most important businesses of [...] Christian. First, such as are of absolute ne­cessity to him, he may not, he cannot be without them. Secondly, such as cannot be done else-where than in this life; this world is the great Elaboratory for perfecting of souls for the next; if they are not done here, they cease to be done for ever; death shuts the door, and everlastingly seals us up in that state it finds us. Thirdly: And e­very season of this life is not at least so suitable for it; sickness, and pain, and weari­some and froward old Age have business e­nough of themselves to entertain us; and any man that hath had experience of either, will find he hath enough to do (to) bear them, or to struggle with them. And fourthly: We know not whether the grace [Page 31]and opportunities that God hath lent us, and we have neglected in our lives, shall ever be afforded again to us in the times of our Sicknesses, or upon our Death-beds; but a little portion of time in our lives and healths are furnished with thousands of in­vitations and golden opportunities for these great works. Let us therefore redeem those portions of time that our life and health lends us, for this great and one thing necessary.

And now, if a man shall take a sur­vey of the common course, even of the Christian world, we shall find the genera­lity of Man-kind the veriest Children, Fools, and Mad-men, that ever Nature yielded. The very folly of Children in spending their time in Rattles, and Hobby­horses, is more excusable than theirs, whose reason and experience should better instruct them. There is not any man so senseless, but he knows he must die, and he knows not how soon he shall hear of that sad Sum­mons; and if he were so brutish as not to think of it, or believe it, yet the weekly Bills of Mortality gives him daily instances of it: and yet if we do but observe the world of men, they do for the most part wholly trifle away their time in doing that which is evil; or in doing nothing; or in [Page 32]doing nothing to any purpose, or becoming a reasonable Nature. One man trifles a­way his time in Feasting and Jollity; ano­ther in Gaming or vain and unnecessary Re­creations, in Hunting, Hawking, Bowling, and other wastful expences of time; ano­ther in fine Cloaths, Powderings, and Painting, and Dressing; another in hunting after Honours and Preferments, or heaping up of Wealth and Riches, and lading him­self with thick clay; another in trivial spe­culations, possibly touching some criticisme or Grammatical nicety; and all these men wonderfully pride themselves, as the only wise men, look big and goodly; and when they come to die, all these prove either vex­ations and tortures of a mis-spent time; or at least, by the very appearance of sickness and death, are rendred poor, empty, insipid, and insignificant things; and then the Mi­nister is sent for, and Sacraments, and no­thing but penitence and complaints of the vanity of the world, the unhappy expences of time, and all the Wealth and Honour would be presently Sacrificed for the Re­demption of those mis-spent hours, and days, and years that cannot be recalled nor redeemed by the price of a world. But the great misery of man-kind is this, they can­not, or will not, in the times of health, anti­cipate [Page 33]the consideration of death and judg­ment to come; nor put on any apprehen­sions or thoughts that the time will come when things will be otherwise with them than now is; or that (they) will be driven into another kind of estimate of things than now they have; and this their way is their Folly. Man being in Honour, in Health, in Life, understandeth not, but becomes like the Beasts that perish.

4. I come to the Reasons why we ought thus to Redeem our Time, which may be these.

1. Our time is a Talent put into our hands by the great Lord of the whole Fa­mily of Heaven and Earth, and such where­of we are to give an account when our Ma­ster calls; and it will be a lamentable Ac­count, when it shall consist only of such Items as these: Item, So much of it spent in Plays, and Taverns, and Gaming. Item, So much of it spent in Sleeping, Eating, Drinking. Item, So much spent in Recrea­tions and Pastimes. Item, So much spent in getting Wealth and Honour, &c. and there remains so much which was spent in doing nothing.

2. Our time is a Universal Talent, that every man that lives to discretion hath. E­very man hath not a Talent of Learning, or [Page 34]of Wealth, or Honour, or Subtilty, of Wit to account for; but every man that lives to the Age of Discretion hath time to account for.

3. Every man hath not only a Talent of Time, but every man hath a Talent of Oppor­tunity, to improve this Talent in some mea­sure put into his hand. The very works and light of Nature, the very principles of natural Religion are lodged in the hearts of all men; which by the help of his natural reason, he might exercise to some acts of Service, Duty, and Religion towards God. But the Christian hath much more.

4. The Redemption and Improvement of our Time, is the next and immediate End why it is given, or lent us, and why we are placed in this life; and the wasting of our time is a disappointment of this very end of our being; for thereby we consequently disappoint God of his Glory, and our selves of our happiness.

5. Upon the management and disposal of our time, depends the everlasting concern­ment of our Souls. Ex hoc momento depen­de [...] [...]. If it be redeemed, improved, & imploved as it ought to be, we shall in the next moment after death, enter into an im­mutable, eternal, and perfect state of glory; [...] be either sinfully or idly spent, we fall [Page 35]into an everlasting, irrecoverable and un­changeable state of misery.

6. The business we have to do in this life, in order to the cleansing of our souls, and fitting them for glory, is a great and im­portant business, and the time we have to live hath two most dangerous qualities in refe­rence to that business. 1. It is short; our longest period is not above 80. years, and few there be that arrive to that Age. 2. It is very casual and incertain; there be infi­nite accidents, diseases, and distempers that cut us off suddenly; as acute diseases, such as scarce give us any warning; and consi­dering how many strings, as it were, thereare to hold us up, and how small and inconsi­derable they are, and how easily broken, and the breach or disorder of any of the least of them may be an in-let to death, it is a kind of Miracle that we live a month. Again, there be many diseases that render us in a manner dead while we live, as Apo­plexies, Palsies, Frenzies, Stone, Gout, which render our time either grievous, or very un­useful to us.

7. Time once lost, is lost for ever: It is never to be recovered; all the Wealth of both the Indies will not redeem nor recall the last hour I spent; it ceaseth for ever.

8. As our time is short, so there be many things that corrode and wast that short time; so that there remains but little that is servicea­able to our best imployment. Let us take but out of our longest lives, the weakness and folly of Childhood and Youth, the impotency and morosity of our old Age, the times for eating, drinking, sleeping, though with moderation, the times of sick­ness and indisposedness of health, the times of Cares, Journeys and Travel, the times for necessary Recreations, interview of Friends and Relations, and a thousand such expences of time, the residue will be but a small pittance for our business of greatest moment, the business I mean, of fitting our souls for glory; and, if that be mis-spent, or idely spent, we have lost our treasure, and the very flower and jewel of our time.

9. Let us but remember that when we shall come to Die, and our Souls sit as it were hovering upon our lips, ready to take their flight, at how great a rate we would then be willing to purchase some of these hours we once trifled away, but we cannot.

10. Remember that this is the very Elixir, the very Hell of Hell to the damn­ed [Page 37]Spirits, that they had once a time, wherein they might upon easie terms, have procured everlasting rest and Glory, but they foolishly and vainly mispent that time and season, which is now not to be reco­vered.


THE Great Audit: WITH THE ACCOUNT OF THE Good Steward.

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