The Right Way To Promote Reformation.

In A SERMON, Preached at Warrington, Upon the 18th. of Octob. 1698.

At the Appointment of the Ministers there Met.

And, at the Request of Some, Published for the use of Others.

By J. NAYLOR Minister of the Gospel.

LONDON, Printed for Tho. Parkburst at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside, 1699.

A SERMON Preached at Warrington.

MAT. VII. V.‘Thou Hypocrite first cast out the Beam out of thine own Eye; and then shalt thou see clearly, to cast out the Mote out of thy Brothers Eye.’

THE Divine Dispensations of late, both in a way of Mercy and Judg­ment, have so loud a Voice in this Kingdom, as cannot but awaken a just sense of a Necessity of Reformation, in all that are not lul'd asleep, upon the lap of Pleasure, by the Syren Songs of these sensual Sublunary things. God is trying this Nation in both these Methods, and [Page 4] surely none so Ignorant, as not to know that both these ways do strongly oblige, to an holy and Reformed course! If God do set us up as a mark, at which he intends to shoot the Arrows of his Displeasure; it highly concerns us, to meet him in the ways of his Judgments, by a speedy and sincere Repentance. And if he unstring his Bow, and put up into his Quiver, the impoysoned Arrows, that were prepared for our de­struction; He expects so signal a Mercy should soften and melt our hearts, and bring them into an Holy and Heavenly frame and Temper.

Do I need to tell you, how lately God was graciously pleased, to Remove the Judg­ment of a long and expensive War; and how desireable a Peace was before it was concluded? And surely now the Enjoy­ment of Liberty and Property; and the setling Peace within our Borders, under the favourable Influences of good Rulers; is not the least of Temporal Blessings! God hath husht away Wars from amongst us, and wonderfully scattered our fears: And shall not so merciful a dispensation excite us to a vigorous prosecution of an Holy War, proclaimed between us and our Sins? A War in which we were very early engaged; for in our Baptism, we were listed under Christ, as the Generalis­simo of all who draw the Sword to Sa­crifice their Lusts; and to fight against the [Page 5] World, the Flesh and the Devil. And surely as the consummation of a long de­sired Peace, with our Forreign Enemies, affords a favourable Juncture for the ad­vancement of this great Work; so it is a powerful Obligation upon us to set to it in good earnest.

No sooner were the Children of Israel come out of Egyptian Bondage, but they were called to renew their Covenant with God; and what cause have we to take up the Words of Ezra 9. 13, 14. Ezra; Seeing that thou our God, hast given us such a deliverance as this: Should we again break thy Commandements, and joyn in affinity with a People of these A­bominations; wouldst not thou be angry with us; till thou hadst consumed us; so that there should be no remnant, nor escaping?

But tho' the Sword be put up, and the War ended; yet for our Unfruitfulness under, and Unthankfulness for, so great a Mercy: God hath been threatning us in these Northern parts with another Judg­ment, nothing less or Inferior to that which he hath lately removed, (viz.) a Judg­ment of Famine.

The Holy God for those vile Abomina­tions, and gross Prophaneness, committed amongst us; hath been threatning to break the Staff of Bread, and to send cleanness into our Teeth. How hath God been punishing us with Immoderate Wet and Rain, and with a late and thin Harvest? [Page 6] So that our former Deliverances will not secure us from future Ruin; if we harden our selves in a sinful way, and wicked course. If we slight God's Mercies, we cannot think to escape the smart of Judg­ments: For they that will not learn Righ­teousness, by the mild and gentle methods of Divine Patience, and Kindness, must ex­pect to be taught, as the Men of Judg. 8. 16. Succoth, With the Thorns and Briars of the Wil­derness, We Read that the Men of Gen. 14. 12, 13, 14. Sodom were Rescued from Captivity by Abraham's Sword, not long before they were consumed by Fire and Brimstone from Heaven. And ungrateful Israel perished in the Wilderness, after their miraculous de­liverance from Egyptian Bondage and servi­tude. Now God forbid, that all our great Deliverances, and Signal Mercies, should be attended with so sad a consequent, as to harden us in Sin and ripen us for De­struction.

And as this is a Juncture, wherein God is thus calling upon us, to put away our Sins, and to endeavour the Reformation both of our selves, and others, Psal. 82. 6. That Ini­quity may not be our Ruin: So our Ter­restrial Gods (as Magistrates are some­times called) have vigourously set them­selves to the Advancement of this so ne­cessary a Work. How many Pious Pro­clamations have been issued out within the space of Eight or Nine years? Requiring [Page 7] all Magistrates, Civil and Ecclesiastical, in their Respective Stations, to execute the Laws of this Realm against Prophaneness and Immorality, as they would Answer it to Allmighty God: and upon pain of their Majesty's (and now of his Majesty's) highest Displeasure: complaining that by a long continued neglect, and connivance of the Magistrates, and Officers concern'd; these disolute Enormities had universally spread themselves, to the great dishonour of God, and the scandal of our holy Re­ligion.

These Proclamations have been seconded by several Learned and Pious Biships, in their Letters to their Clergy, of their se­veral and Respective Diocesses; enjoyning them to Preach against the Sins of the Day, and Place wherein they live, and take care they go before their Flocks in an holy and exemplary way of Living.

And for the more effectual suppressing of all Immorality and Prophaneness; and curbing the Exorbitances of this Age; I need not surely number up the particular Acts, and Laws, that have been made by the late Parliament, against Drunkenness, Whoredome, Prophane Swearing and Curs­ing, and the notorious Prophanation of the Holy Sabbath.

And tho' it hath been an old saying, that few Nations have better Laws, and worse executed then we have; yet for the re­trieving [Page 8] the honour of the English Nation; for averting God's Anger, preventing of Impending Judgments, and for the Revive­ing of Religion, and the power of Godli­ness, which hath been so long dead and so greatly traduc'd among us; there are not a few at this day, of all Ranks and Qualities of Men, throughout the Nation; that are willing to help forward this Blessed Work of a Reformation. And through the blessing of God, upon the endeavours of some holy Lots of this Age; who have been vexed with the filthy Conversation of the Wicked; there hath been a con­siderable check, and stop put to the Im­petuous torrent of Impiety and Prophane­ness; where before it used to overflow the Banks.

Surely then it highly concerns us all, in our Respective places and Capacities, to purge out the old Leaven of Sin and Wickedness; and to seek the Reformation both of our selves and others! And to bless God there are any amongst us, who are free and forward, to draw forth the Sword of Justice, and smite therewith, all Impudent and Impenitent Sinners, who have hitherto made a mock at Sin, and have put on a whores forehead in com­mitting of it. I say, there are not a few Justices of the Peace amongst us; who (to their Honour be it spoken) have openly declar'd their willingness, to Execute the [Page 9] Laws made against Prophaneness, and De­bauchery: as was lately heard in their charge, at the Privy and Quarter Sessions of the Peace, where they publickly Pro­fessed, they would (upon due Informati­on) proceed to punish all Offenders, ac­cording to the nature of the Offence com­mitted by them; whether it be Drunken­ness, Whoredom, Prophane Swearing and Cursing, or the Prophanation of the holy Sabbath.

And are there any here that have the face to say, Ministers are obliged to Preach against Sin and Vice, and Magistrates o­bliged to punish it: and yet they them­selves may sit still, and do nothing in it but be idle spectators in this hard and difficult undertaking? I will but ask such Persons this single question. Are you under the Sacred Vows of the Christian Religion, and have you Sworn to be faithful to the Kingdom and Interest of Jesus Christ, Man­fully to fight under his Banner, who is the Captain and Leader of our Salvation; and [...]et think your selves not concern'd in a Work of Reformation? O Egregious folly and madness!

Tho' this Introduction be already too [...]ng, yet I must solicite your Patience a [...]ttle longer, before I come to consider the [...]ext: For I cannot omit Informing some [...]d Reminding others, that at the opening [...] these Itinerant Lectures, or Monthly [Page 10] Exereises; it was by a Reverend Brother very well, and warmly proved a Duty, upon all Persons, not only Magistrates and Ministers, but also others, in their places; to help forward this glorious enterprise of a Blessed Reformation. I must make so far bold with that Sermon, as from it to tell you, that the Execution of Justice stands upon these two Bottoms. First, It depends upon proving the matter of Fact, or the giving due Information before a Lawful Magistrate. Secondly, In Executing the Penalty of the Law upon the Offender, so informed against. So that in order to the suppressing of Sin and Wickedness, it is primarily necessary, the Person before whom the Sin be committed take care to inform the Magistrate of it; and then se­condarily, the Magistrate proceed to punish it. And if either the Informer, or the Magistrate, be remiss in their Respective Capacities, Justice is obstructed, the Efficacy of the Law is Null'd, Sin goes unpunished, and the holy God more and more Provok­ed. Men cry out, against the Non-Execu­tion of Justice, and complain of the illness of their Magistrates; whereas (indeed and in truth) the great fault is amongst pri­vate persons: Justice lies obstructed here, when they connive at Sinners, and neglect to give Information of the Sins committed before them, and in their presence.

[Page 11] Now after this long Preface, wherein I have spent but too much time; I shall bring in the Text under this Conclusion, which was the Subject chiefly insisted upon; the first of these Lectures, (viz.) That it is the duty of all Persons in their Respective Places and Capacities, to help forward a Work of Reformation. This being a duty then so fully proved upon all Persons; I have since thought with my self, what is first to be done in this needful Work, and which is the best way, to forward this so Necessary and Important a Duty; or what course we should take to promote the Work of Reformation: And thereupon made choice of this Text.

Thou Hypocrite first cast the Beam out of [...]hine own Eye, and then shalt thou see clear­ [...]y to cast out the Mote out of they Brothers Eye.

This Chapter is part of that excellent Sermon Christ Preached on the Mount; but I must not take time to give you the Analisis of it; nor would I be tedious in clearing the Coherence of these words, with what goes before them. And there­ [...]ore that I may briefly prepare my way to the Text, there are two things in the be­ginning of this Chapter to be noted by [...]s.

1. We have our dearest Lord, flatly Prohibiting, and sharply Reproving, all rash and Precipitous judging of others, verse the [...] st. Judge not, &c.

[Page 12] 2. We have him enforceing this his Pro­hibition and Reproof, by several Reasons and Arguments.

1. By our Rash censuring and Condem­ning others; we render our selves obnoxi­ous to the Just censure and Judgment of the great God, verse the 1 st. Judge not that ye be not Judged.

2. We should not thus rashly Judge and censure others; because we are sure to be paid in our own coyn, verse the 2d. For with what Judgment ye Judge, ye shall be Judged; and with what Measure ye meet, it shall be Measured to you again.

3. We should avoid this Sin of an un­wary and uncharitable Judging of others [...] because we may possibly, be guilty of some greater fault and crime our selves, verse the 3d. And why beholdest thou the Mote that is in thy Brothers Eye, but considerest not the Beam that is in thine own Eye? The Word in the [...] Orriginal signifies something more then a bare beholding and seeing of ano­thers fault: For it imports a nice and curious prying into the faults and failings of other Persons; it signifies a curious and critical Eye, in inspecting other Mens Actions, with an intent and purpose to Reprove them.

4. This is such a thing as renders us very unfit and improper Persons to Re­form others, verse the 4th. Or how wilt thou say to thy Brother, let me pull out the Mote [Page 13] out of thine Eye; and behold a Beam is in [...]hine own Eye?

5. This rash and uncharitable Judging of others, with an aptness to spie faults in [...]hem, doth carry the Face of great Insince­ [...]ity and Hipocrisie in it. Verse the 5th. Thou Hipocrite first cast the Beam out of thine [...]wn eye, and then shalt thou see clearly, to cast [...]ut the more, out of thy Brothers eye.

No surer note and Mark of Hipocrisie; [...]hen a forwardness to Judge and condemn o­ [...]hers, for that which a man is Guilty of him­ [...]elf.

There are two things in the Text to be [...]poken to, which may be comprehended [...] these two Propositions

1. Propo. That is a Christian Frater­ [...]l part and duty to cast the Mote out of [...]r Brothers eye.

2. Propo. That we may more Regularly [...]omfortably and Effectually performe this [...]hristian Brotherly Office; we must first of [...] cast the Beams out of our own eyes.

I shall say something to the First of these [...]ropositious; tho I do not intend to insist [...]uch upon it because I shall rather take it for [...]anted, then make my Business to prove [...]. [...]y work is to direct, rather then to excite [...] Perswade, to Reformation. First cast the [...]am out of thine own eye; and then shalt [...]ou see clearly to cast the Mote out of thy [...]rothers eye.

[Page 14] And do I need to tell you who is mea [...] here by Brother in the Text? For tho' th [...] word Brother, hath various Acceptation [...] in Holy Scripture, yet we need not mu [...] Scruple the use of the word in this plac [...] The word is sometimes put and used properly, for a natural Brother; which is eith [...] an half Brother, both by one Father, b [...] not by a Mother as Isaac and Ishmael; or [...] full Brother, both by Father and Mother, [...] Joseph and Benjamin, Cain and Abell, Es [...] and Jacob. And sometimes it is put and u [...] ed Improperly; for a Kinsman, companion [...] or Neighbour, a Friend, and an acquaintan [...] The word is put for all these in holy Scripture, and if you please, you may take it in a [...] these Respects; because unto all of these, w [...] are in duty Bound and Obliged to do all th [...] good we can; tho' by many Expositours, th [...] word Brother in the Text, is interpreted [...] our Neighbour. Yet if our Brother in an [...] of these Respects I have Named; That is if either our Natural Brother, or any of ou [...] Relations, Neighbours, Friends or Acquaintance have a Mote in their eye, it is a Christian Brotherly part to cast it out.

And may it be thought Necessary to she [...] you what is meant by a Mote or Beam in t [...] eye, and what is meant by casting of the [...] out. By motes, we may understand the ou [...] ward and externall Acts of Sin, which w [...] should Labour to cast out of our Brother [...] life. And by Beams in our own; we ma [...] [Page 15] [...]nderstand, either Sins that are in themselves [...]reat, or else the same Sins, which our Bro­ [...]her commits, that are Beams in us, by be­ [...]olding them in our Brother, but not in our [...]elves. This is a Beam (a Monstrous Sin) [...] be cast out of all of us, when we can Spie [...]aults in others but none in our Selves.

So that the Summ and Sence of the pro­ [...]ofition is this. It is a Christian Brotherly [...]art and duty, to reclaime and reforme our [...]rother, to prevent his Sining, and to [...]cover him out of a wicked and Impi­ [...]s course of life; if fallen into it. If [...]r Brother be overtaken with the Sin of [...]runkenness, Whoredome, prophane Swear­ [...]g and cursing, or the Prophanation of the [...]ly Sabbath, or any other such like Sins and [...]ces; it is a Brotherly part and Duty to [...]k out those motes out of our Brothers eye, [...]ith a Soft and mild Tongue, by a Gentle [...]d Christian reproofe; tenderly admonish­ [...]g our Brother, that he would Sin no more [...]st a worse thing come unto him. And oh! [...]hat this were more in Practice amongst [...], that Christians would endeavour more [...]d more, to cast such Motes, out of each o­ [...]ers eyes, and thus lick them with an holy [...]d Heavenly Tongue, out of a just and due [...]spect to the Glory of God; and the eter­ [...]l Happiness of each other.

Surely it cannot be lamented enough, [...]at this Duty of Brotherly admonition and [...]ristian Reproofe; is so little practiced by, [...]d amongst Christians. Were there more true [Page 16] real Christion Love amongst us; we shoul [...] Strive more by this meanes, to cast the Mote [...] out of each others eyes. I'll not say, ho [...] often we are thus to endeavour the Purging and cleansing our Brothers eyes, from th [...] Motes of Sin that are in, and the Scurfe o [...] Prophaneness that Grows upon them. But i [...] we Find there is no hope of licking our Bre [...] theren whole, if all our Gentle and mild at [...] tempts to reforme them, Prove ineffectiual [...] if it be an old Sore and distemper unde [...] which our Brother Labours: we are the [...] to make use of another remedy; and try i [...] this running Plague and Issue can be Stopt b [...] the Execution of Justice. We are then ou [...] of a Brotherly Christian respect, to repre­sent such Persons unto the Magistrates [...] Offenders; who are a terrour unto evil do [...] ers, and who are said in Scripture, Rom 13. 3. 4 [...] not [...] bear the Sword in vain, but to be the Minister [...] of God, and Revengers to Execute wrath up [...] them that do evil.

We read that some Devils were not ca [...] out, but with great difficulty. So we ma [...] expect that the cure of our Sining Brethre [...] or a work of Reformation, upon those wh [...] have been long accustomed unto Sin; wi [...] not be effected and wrought with a litt [...] adoe. There is now a remedy in the Law [...] for all Impudent and Impenitent Tran [...] gressours, and were it but duely apply' [...] there are great hopes of a good Opperatio [...] We have known and Heard of some, wh [...] [Page 17] have Spent their substance upon Phisicians, for the cureing of a diseased and infirm Body: and yet after all, they have carryed their Distempers to their Graves. But were we so kind and Charitable to our Brethern, that Labour under Spiritual Maladies, and have the sad Symtoms of eter­nal Death upon them; as to put them to the expences and Charge, of paying so much (as the Law directs) for every prophane Oath and curse, so much for being Drunk, and so much for the prophanation of the holy Sabbath; it might have an Happy Tendency, not onely to avert the heavy Judgements of God, that at this day threa­ten our Land, but also towards the ever­lasting Salvation of their Precious and Im­mortal Souls,

I know very well, that such Indications of our Christian Love, are no ways Pleas­ing unto Flesh and Blood; and they will be something Strange at the First; because wickedness and Impiety hath gone so long, with an open Brasen Face. The power and Practice of Religion and Godliness hath lien long out of doors; and we have been greatly pleased with the Speculative part on­ly. The great noise for these many Years, in this part of the Christian world, hath been about the Lighter matters of the Law, Mint, Anniss, and Cummin; Meats and Drinks, wherein the Kingdom of God doth not [Page 18] consist. The great talk and Zeal hath been about things less Necessary, and more ab­scure and doubtfull; men doting about Questions, and Strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, Strife, Railings and evil Sur­miseings. This is that, with which we have been but too much taken up, for a long time.

Now I say, that tho' the Pressing upon People a life and practice, Suitable to their Christian profession, will be some thing un­pleasing at the first: Yet we must not gra­tifie, and Humour Insincere people, in their Soft and delicate self chosen Religion: should we thus doe, we should not be faith­full to the Souls of our Brethren; whose grand Interest and Necessary concernment, is to live in the Power and Practice of God­liness and Religion. This is absolutely ne­cessary to be Taught and Prest with all Au­thority; it matters not, that the Carnal and Sensual Person doth not Relish it: For we are herein to Imitate carefull and Prudent Physicians, who when they come to their Patients, do not ask them what they Love best, and then Prescribe what is most pleas­ing to their Pallats, tho' most hurtfull; but Informeing themselves well of the Case of the diseased, they Prescribe and prepare what they judge to be most Proper for them, tho' it be no whit Gratefull, or acceptable to them.

[Page 19] Now there are three Special Benefits, that arise from this Christian Charitable repre­hension and admonition, which may be as so many Arguments, to enforce upon us the Practices of this Duty.

1 By this meanes, our Offending and Sinning Brethern may be reformed. And indeed this is the Primary end of Christian reproofe; even the reformation and amend­ment of our Brother, and how Blessed a work this is; * Let him know that he Jam. 5, 20. that converteth the Sinner from the errour of his ways, shall save a Soul from Death, and shall hide a Multitude of Sins.

2 By this Christian reprehension and admo­nition, others may be brought to take warn­ing, Smite a Scorner and the simple will beware; Prove. 19. 25. and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand Knowledge. Alterius Per­ditio sit tua cautio. When we behold other men Ship-wrackt, this may make us look well to our own Tackling. O how usefull Profitable may the reproving of one Sinner be to many others? This may have a Hap­py tendency to the promoting a work of Reformation in others.

3 He who lives in the Practice of this Christian Duty of Brotherly Reprehension and Admonition; shall be Sure to deliver [Page 20] his own Soul, and procure a Blessing upon himself. But to them that rebuke the wicked Prov, 24, 24, 25, shall be delight; and a good Blessing shall com [...] upon them. Read also Levit. 19. 17. Thou shalt not hate thy Brother in thine Heart; but shalt in any wise reprove him, and not suffer Sin to be upon him. Not to reprove our Bro­ther when he Sins? and not to Warn him when Guilty of Sinfull Practices, is an Ar­gument of our hating our Brother. Yea if we Suffer our Brother to Sin, who upon Christian Reprehension, or Information to some Lawfull Magistrate, might be amend­ed; we shall bear his Sin for him. Qui Emendare Potest, et negligit, Participem Se facit; saith one. He that can reforme ano­ther, and doth not, maketh himself partake [...] of his Sin. And thus I have done with th [...] First Proposition in the Text; it is the Se­cond I intend to Speak more fully to.

2 Proposition. That for our more Regular, [...] omfortable and Successfull performing this Christian Brotherly Office, of casting the Mo [...]e out of our Brothers eye, we should First take care, to cast the Beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou See clearly, to cast the mote out of thy Brothers eye.) One that would reform another, whether he be Ma­gistrate, or a Minister, or a private Person should First take care to Reform himself. [Page 21] This is the thing that every one who pro­notes the work of Reformation in others, [...]hould be especially carefull of. Reformers [...]hould be examples of all purity, Chastity, [...]eekness, Temperance and Heavenly mind­ [...]dness; and then may they with comfort, [...]et upon the Practice of this Christian Bro­ [...]herly Duty of Reforming others.

Not, but that we may all know very well, what a thankless Office, the Office of a Re­ [...]ormer is; or one that Promotes the Re­ [...]ormation of Sinners. There are but too [...]any Scorners, who hate to be reformed, [...]nd make a Mock of Sin. And tho' all be [...]ot thus wicked; yet it is rare to meet with [...] Person, who thinks not hardly of those who do admonish him. This was the frame [...]nd Temper of Spirit the Sodomites were of, [...]hen but Gently reproved by holy Lot; [...]my Brethern do not so wickedly. Yet for this [...]hey thought hardly of him. Gen, 19. 7, What, will [...]is Fellow be a judge, that came but the other [...]ay to Sojourne? Ver: 9. of the Same [...]hapter. So we Read, that the Prophet doth [...]ut find Fault with Amaziah, and presently [...]e Kings eyes are Blinded, 2 Chr [...]n. 25, 16. And his heart [...]ardened, and he Answers the Prophet, who [...]ade you of the Kings Councill? He looked [...]n the Prophet a Medling Person, as a bu­ [...]e body in other mens Matters; as one [...]hat had a mind to Prie into State affaires. [Page 22] So when the Blind man did but find fault Joh. 9. 34. with the Pharisees, for their persecuteing of Christ, how do they take it at his Hands. Art thou altogether conceived and Born in Sin, and wilt thou teach us? They quickly looked upon his Blindness and Birth, and concluded he was a greater Sinner then other men, and therefore could not think, he should reform them. If we would take up­on us the Office of reforming others, we should take care that we be of unblamea­ble Lives our selves. This is our first work; we must begin at home, and Sweep clean be­fore our own doors, before we find fault with our Neigbour. We should first get the Beams out of our own eyes, before we attempt to cast the Motes out of our Bro­thers eyes. Let the Phisician first cure himself; and then he will have more Pati­ents, and may, with greater Encouragement begin to Practice.

But here I come to speak to three things, Ist. I shall shew you, who are to reform [...] themselves. 2d. I shall shew you, of what the [...] shou'd reforme themselves. 3d. why they should first reforme themselves before they set upon this work of reforming others.

I I shall shew you who are to Reform them selves. And in the general; all are to reform [...] and livean holy, Examplary life and [Page 23] conversation. All persons are to Set about this great and needfull work, both high and low, Rich and poor, Male and Female, bond and Free; Persons of all Ranks, degrees and Qualities whatsoever; from him that Sitteth upon the Throne; to the Hewers of Wood, and drawers of Water. There is not one that can plead an Immunity, and exemption, from this so Necessary and Im­portant a Duty; None that can truely say, I'm left to my own Choyce, whether I will Reform or no but all are to Set upon this work of self Reformation. Particularly.

I This is the work of all Magistrates; of all who Handle the Sword of Justice. They especially are to reform. This is the Duty of great men, and men in place and Power. It's not the Duty and part of the Poorer and Meaner Sort of People onely; but a work for the more Rich and Honour­able, and such whose place and Office is to Punish others that Offend.

Not the poor onely, that are to reform of their Intemperance, uncleanness, Pro­phane Cursing and Swearing, and the pro­phanation of the holy Sabbath, but the Bro­ther of high degree is to Engage himself in it. These are the Persons that should make sure of a self Reformation: For the greater the persons, the greater are their Sins. And the gross Immoralityes of [Page 24] many Magistrates are no Small cause of that great Inundation of Impiety and Prophane­ness, that hath overspread the Face of this Kingdom; and there's cold hopes of Setling this Blessed work of Reformation in any good Successfull method; till such time as Magistrates, who have the Sword of Justice, are either reformed, or removed. With what face and courage can a prophane Ma­gistrate execute the Laws, or the Penalties of the Laws, against prophaneness. Rom, 2, 1, There­fore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that Judgest: for wherein thou Judgest a­nother, thou condemnest thy self; for thou that Judgest, dost the same things. Read also, verse the 21, 22, 23. of the same Chap. Thou therefore that Teachest another; Teachest thou not thy self, Thou who say­est a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit Adultery. Magistrates whose Office is to Punish others for their Violations of the Law; should look to observe the Law themselves. They should be of holy unblameable Lives and conversations.

2 This self Reformation is the work of all Ministers. They of all Persons, should look after this work, and approve their works to the Lord. Thus the Apostle Ex­horts 1 Tim, 4, 13, Timothy, Till I come, give attendance to Reading, Exhortation and Doctrine. and verse the 16. Take heed unto thy self, and unto thy [Page 25] Doctrine; continue in them; For in so doing, thou shalt both save thy self and them that hear thee. Aarons bells Hung at his Feet, What an uncomely thing it is, for a Prophane Mi­nister to Preach against Prophaneness. A Minister given to Swearing, Preach against it; or a Minister given to Intemperance, Preach against it? Turpe est Doctori, cum culpa redarguit ipsum. How harsh and unpleasing is it, to hear Vice correcting Sin? Clodius accusat Moechos. The Sins of a Minister are very Dangerous, how fine soe­ver his Preaching be, for his Practice will goe further then his Preaching; and they who Forget his Sermon, will remember his Example. If a Minister be but a little lea­vened, it is much if most of his Auditory be not Sowred thereby. If the Nurse be Sick, the Child that Sucks the Breast, is in Dan­ger to Suck the disease from her. O how much doth it concern Ministers to lead holy and Heavenly Lives! Rom. 2. 21. Thou who Preachest a man should not Steal; dost thou Steal? dost thou commit Adultery? Art thou covetous and contentious? Art thou unclean and In­temperate? And Preachest against all these things? Ministers should Especially be of inoffensive Lives, because it is their work and Office, to Preach this up to others. They should as much as possible be free from all Sin; because they Preach against all Sin, and are to reprove with an holy boldness every Sin, be it in who it will, Poor or Rich, Small or [Page 26] great. It is said of Tacitues that he took the same Liberty to write the Emperous lives that they took in leading them. Thus should the Ministers doe in reproving of Sinners. But how can a Minister do thus, unless he be unblameable himself? The Sharpest Sermons of a wicked Prophane Minister, against Gross Sins and Immorali­ties, are but like a Smooth, File; or a Saw whose Teeth are broken; or a Knife that hath lost it's edge.

3 This self Reformation is the work of all private Persons; of all who would draw the Motes out of their Brothers eyes. They should begin her [...] First, and reform them­selves. The conversations of all men, even of private Persons, as well as Magistrates, and Ministers, should correspond and com­port with that holy profession which they make. What have we to doe with any base and sordid Practice; who lie under the Sa­cred vows of the Christian Religion? I know indeed it is a most Lamentable thing, to see men call themselves Sons of the Church, by a Subscrption to her Articles, assume to themselves the Title of Orthodox; and yet be the greatest Blemishes of it; and forfeit that worthy appellation, by holding the Truth in unrighteousness, Liveing as if the commandments had no Relation to the Creed; or as if by the Beliefe of what is [Page 27] true, they could Satisfie for what is Evil. Pudet haec opprobria Nobis &c. We may Blush at this so great wickedness. It was a charge long ago laid upon Christianity; That it was better known in the Leaves of Books, then in the lives of Christians; and hence it is, that many are hardened in their wickedness. It is the purity of Christians lives, that is the best attractive to winn o­thers to the Love of Religion. This is the Gold that should overlay the Temple of Christs Church: and would make others in Love with i'ts Beauty. This was one Hap­py means for the incredible increase of con­verts, in the Primitive times; even the ho­ly and examplary Lives of Christians. But converts came in Slower when those who professed Religion, began to cool in their Zeal, and Slacken in the Strictness of their Lives. Thus you see all are to Set upon this work of self reformation; not only Ma­gistrates and Ministers, but also private Persons, all who take upon them the Office of reformers.

2 I come now to Shew you, of what we all must reform ouy selves. And that I may not be tedious in Numbering particu­lars, I'll onely say in the Generall; we are to Reform of all Sins. We are to aban­don every evil way; we must not onely take care to avoid those Sins, whereof we accuse and condemn our Brother, but we should free our selves from Sin in every kind. [Page 28] Tho' we be no Swearers, no Drunkards, or Whoremasters, or prophaners of the Sab­bath; tho' we be free from those Sins, which bring us under the lash of the Law; yet we may be very unfit to reform others. There may be Beams in our own eyes, that should First be cast out, before we attempt the Re­formation of our Brethern.

There are indeed a Sort of Persons, who if they do not live in Whoredom, and Gross Intemperance; open Prophaneness, and Brutish sensuality, think all is well with them, and they cry out with the Pharisee, that they are not as other men are; Ex­tortioners, unjust, Adulterers: whereas they may be free from these more Gross Practices, and yet need to be reformed, as well as others. O! be not deceived, you are not Possibly so and so Vitious in your outward conversation; but if there be with­in of the Heart, malice, hatred, envy, un­charitableness, self exalting, Inordinate af­fections to the world, Covetousness &c. These are enough to discourage a man from his Duty of reforming others; and may deservedly bring him under the denomina­tion of a wicked Person, that needs to be re­formed. You will grant the Devils are bad-enough; it is because of their Pride, en­vy &c. For the Gross Sins of the Flesh, they are not lyable to them. Sirs! do we [Page 29] see one living a Bruitish Sensual life, wal­lowing in his filthy lusts, laying the reins upon the Neck of his Impetuous corrupti­ons; such a one is to be reformed? I, but would you Set about this work comfortably, and ef [...]ectually; you must not onely free your selves from the Sins of which you would reform your Brother, but also from all Sins in every kind? If you be worldly, proud, Haughty, and be under the Power of earthly affections, you should reform your selves, and cast those Beams out of your own eyes First, before you attempt to cast the Motes out of your Brother's eyes.

3 I Now come to shew you why, and up­on what account we should thus endeavour­to reform our Selves, before we begin to reform others.

REASONS,

1 Unless we have (in some good degree) a clear conscience, and be of an unblamea­ble life; we cannot find fault with our Bro­ther, and begin to reform him; but we Sin against our Office whether he be a Magis­trate that is to Punish offenders, or a Mi­nister that Preacheth against Sin, or a pri­vate Person that reproves for Sin, or gives Information to the Magistrate against such a Sin; unless he be something clear in his [Page 30] own Conscience he cannot discharge this Dnty towards his Brother but he Sins a­gainst his Office, and that because the Office of a reformer Binds him to be holy, and of an unblameable life; what the Apostle faith of Gospel Bishops; may be said of all that take upon them the Office of Reform­ers, They should themselves be Blameless. 1 Tim. 3. 2. If a man would Reform another of Swear­ing, he himself should be one that Fears an Oath; or if he would reform another of Drunkenness, he himself should be very Temperate; if of uncleanness, he himself should be very Chast. If a man would Re­form another of being contentious, and Quarrelsome, he himself should be meek and Peaceable. If a man would Reform ano­ther of being carnal; he, (viz.) The Re­former Gal. 6 4 should be Spirituall. If any man be overtaken with a fault, ye that are Spiritu­al, restore such a one. The Reformer, the Restorer must be Spiritual, it is no going to cast the Motes out of our Brothers eye, while we have Beams in our own.

2 Unless we be of inculpable lives, and have Consciences (in some good degree) void of offence; we cannot reform our Bro­ther, so mildly and so Softly, but we shall awaken our own Consiences and put them upon the same Office of accusing and Con­demning us. What Stings and Gripes of [Page 31] Conscience doth a man that is wicked (and [...]onscious to himself of his own wickedness) [...]eet with, even when he is about to Re­ [...]rm others from their Sins? surely he can­ [...]ot but think and think again, upon the A­ [...]ostles words. Rom. 2. 1. Therefore thou art in excusa­ [...]le O man, whosoever thou art that Judgest; [...]or wherein thou Judgest another thou condem­ [...]est thy self; for thou that Judgest, doest the [...]ame things. One who takes upon him the Office of a Reformer should himself, be a Conscientious Liver, otherwise he doth but make way for his own Conscience to Sting and gnaw him. Nay, it is hard for a wick­ [...]d man to put any Face upon a work of re­ [...]ormation. We may see this verified in the Scribes and Pharisees, in their accuseing a Woman taken in adultery. And they when they heard it; being convicted by their own Consciences; went out, one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the Last. They were something Severe with this Woman, till Christ bid them look unto themselves; and were for Stoneing her, or puting her to some cruel Death, till Christ directed them how to Stone her? he that is without Sin among you, Let him First cast a Stone at her. When they heard this, then their own Consciences began to Rouse up and a­waken, whereupon they had none of them, the Face or Courage, to take up a Stone to Throw at this Woman. Therefore it [Page 32] concerns us all to set upon this work o [...] self Reformation; in the First place, to cast the Beams out of our own eyes First, before we attempt to cast the Mo [...]es out of our Brothers eyes.

3 Except we be of an holy unblameable Life, the reproof we give to others, will but be retorted upon our selves, and cast as dung in our own Faces. One that is not of a Serious, sober, conscientious life, can Scarce find fault with his Offending Brother, but it's a Thousand to one, he hears of his own Miscarriages; and if his weak Brother have a hole in his Coat, at the time he is Reprooved, he will rent it out. A man cannot goe about to reform his Brother, but he will Instantly bring in the eyes of all o­thers upon himself. All mens eyes are up­on a reformer; and they look Strictly and very observingly upon such a Person; and if any thing in the world be amiss in such a man; they will be sure to mark it, and make more adoe of that then if it had been some greater fault in another Person. And how common a thing is it to see the re­proof given retorted and cast in the teeth of him that gives it. What, do you reprove me of Sin? who is a greater Sinner then your self? Doe you tell me of my Swear­ing, Intemperance, uncleaneness and the like, Who more addicted to such Sins [Page 33] then your self? Pray begin at Home, Re­forme your self. Some mens repoofes doe Recoil upon themselves. And indeed every one desires, if must be Smitten, that it may be by the Hand of the Righteous. Psal. 141. 5. Let the Righteous sinite me, it shall be a Kindness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent Oyl, which shall not break my Head. The good advice of a wicked man, is Spoil'd by the Stinking breath of him that gives it.

4 Unless we be something clear in our Consciences, and be of holy unblameable Lives; our Reforming others from their Sins, will but be looked upon as a piece of Prevarication, and Hipocrsie with Al­mighty God. This you have Especially noted in the Text, thou Hipocrite First cast out the Beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the Mote out of thy Brothers eye. With­out this all our repooses and admonitions, all our Complaints and Informations, in order to Reforme our Brother, will be looked upon, as a peice of Mockery. And indeed, what can be a greater piece of mockery then this, to cry out of Sin in others, and commit it our selves? Sirs will you cry out, and Complain of your Brothers faults, and never look upon your own! what is this but Hypocrisie? thou [Page 34] Hipocrite First cast out the Beam out of thine own eye. When a man goes to find fault with another, before he hath Reformed himself, this is Hipocrisie, for when a man Reformes another, he takes upon him a form of one that is zealous against Sin, and an Enemy to all Sinfull Practices; Now what is this but Hipocrisie? And indeed this is the way of the Hipo­crite, to fault others for what he himself is Guilty of.

5 To Reforme another before we have Reformed our selves, is that which carries self Condemnation a long with it. Rom, 2, 1. Thou Condemnest thy self; for thou that judgest doth the same things. To condemn another for Sin, when we are Sinners onr selves; is to Condemn our selves at the same time. We expose our selves to the just Judg­ment of the great God, who sees all our works and Actions. And what an odd and absurd thing is it, to find fault with others, for what we doe our selves. How ill doth the word of reproofe Sound in the Mouth of a wicked Person. To Steal and yet forbid Stealing; to Swear our selves, and yet forbid Swearing; To be Covetous, contentious, and yet cry out against these Sins in others; What is this but to draw down Judgments upon our [Page 35] selves? Therefore that we may discharge this our Christian Office and Duty to our Brother, casting the Motes out of his eyes, we should First take care to cast the Beams out of our own. This is the way and course we should take, in Promoting a work of Reformation And indeed we cannot expect to be very successfull in any of our endeavours to reform others, till such time as we have done thus much for our selves.

I Now come to the Improvement and Application of this Point; and that First by way of Inference, should we Reform our selves before we begin to Reform our Bro­ther? Then

1 This may let all of us see wherein we have mist. For how often have Ma­gistrates, Ministers and private Persons gone Irregularly about this work. Let the Magistrate first Reforme himself, and then he may better see how to execute Justice upon Offenders; Let the Minister first Reforme himself, and then he may bet­ter see how to Preach this up to others; Let a private Christian first reforme him­self, and then he will see better how to reforme his Brother; Let us cast the Beams out of our own eyes first, and then we shall see more clearly to cast the Motes [Page 36] out of our Brother's eyes. How have we all been guilty of this Hysteron Proteron, of putting the first thing in the Second place. Have we not begun at the wrong end of our work, and inverted the order of our duties, True! it is a duty to Reforme our Brother; but the duty of self refor­mation, should take the First place. They are both Duties; but in the order; of Na­ture, the one should preceed the other; we should First cast the Beams out of our own eyes, before we cast the Motes out of our Brother's eyes. And indeed I cannot but think, one great cause and reason, why Magistrates have been no more a terror un­to evil doers; and Ministers no more suc­cessfull in their work, is because both have been too Remiss in their reformeing them­selves. They have not been those holy examples unto others, as their Office and place required. So that all our Sermons against impiety and Prophaneness; through our own Personall Miscarriages, have been but like arrows shot out of a weak bow, that comes not with force Sufficient to prick the Heart of the Proud Sinner. Ministers may complaine of the ill Success of their Labours, when they take no care to Prac­tice what they Preach to others. In vaine doe they think to reforme their People, till such times as they first reforme them­selves.

[Page 37] Should we first Reforme our selves before we reforme our Brother? Then

2 This brings to all our mindes what is our work to day or where we are to begin the work of Reformation. We should begin in the First place with our Selves. Whoever would Promote a Re­formation work; must begin here. Let every man Sweep his own door and the Streets will be clean. So would every man Purge and cleanse his own Heart, this work of Reformation would goe on in every place. A generall Reformation hath it's Rise and beginning in Particu­lar. There must be a Personall Refor­mation before it come to a Family. Ci­ty, Countrey, or National Reformati­on.

This is the work of every particular Person. So that every one of us may say Particularly, this is my work, my care; we are to begin with our selves, and not suffer any unmortified lust to abide in us, every eye that Offends, every hand that Sins, every Lust that provokes, is to be parted with; tho' never so dear unto us: we must begin with our selves, and then in our Families, our Children and Servants, and endeavour the Reformation of all that are under our care and Charge. This is the way to promote this Blessed work of [Page 38] Reformation, here we are to begin, we should take this course, and observe this rule, and Labour with all care and Con­science, to be unblameable in our selves and Conversations. And O that both you and I might begin here this day with our selves, with our own Hearts, and lives, and cast the Beams out of our own eyes And to excite you to this work of self Reformation, to press upon you the pow­er of Godliness, and the practice of Religion; I would recommend unto you these following Considerations.

1 Consider it is in vain to think the knowledge and Beliefe of the Christian Religion, will availe us any thing without the Practice of it. Jam, 1 26, 27. If any man among you seem to be Religious, and Bridleth not his Tongue, but deceiveth his own Heart, that mans Religion is vain; pure Religion and un­defiled, before God and the Father, is this; to visit the Fatherless and the Widows, in their Affiction; and to keep himself unspotted from the world. 1 Tim. 6, 3, If a man consent not to the Doctrine which is according to Godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing.

There must be a decorum kept between our Principles and our Practice. Our eyes should direct our Feet, and we are called upon in Scripture to act as becometh Saints. [Page 39] Ephe, 5, 3. As becomes the Gospel of Christ. Rom. 16. 2. As becomes those who profess Godliness. There is a Phil, 1, 27, [...] Or comely Behavi­our, which if a Christian doth not observe, he betrayes his high calling unto Scorn and and contempt, to look high and to live Low; O how rediculous appears it unto all men. It is not a forgetfull Hearer but a doer of the word, This man shall be Blessed in his deed. It is the doeing Practicall Christian that shall Stand, when the empty Boaster of his Faith shall fall. His Religion is vain, which brings not Letters Testimoniall from an holy Life. A Protestant Faith without a Protestant Practice is worth little. There are but too many, who think it's enough they are no Papists, nor Atheists, no Hereticks, or Er­roneouss Persons, but they Embrace, the Honest, old Orthodox truths, they Believe as well as any, and they are resolved to live and die in this Faith. They are Pro­testant in Doctrine, and Recusants in lives, not Considering that Hell is full, not onely of Pagans and Heathens, but also of ungod­ly Christians. Alas the Kingdom of God reacheth further then the understanding onely; The Devils in Hell have admirable Knowledge, they both know and Believe, for they are said to Believe and tremble. And doe we not read of Mat. 7. 22, 23. Many, that shall be brought in at that day, saying, Lord, Lord, [Page 40] have we not Prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out Devils, and in thy name, done many wonderfull works? And yet Christ will say unto them, depart from ye workers of Ini­quity; I know you not. If we renounce heresy and error in Doctrine, why not pro­phaneness in our lives.

2 Consider that the Moral Gentiles and Heathens, will one day, rise up to condemn Immoral, and Prophane Christians. Mat. 12. 41, 42, The men of Nineveh shall rise up in Judgement with this Generation, and shall Condemn it; because they repented at the Preaching of Jonas, and behold a Greater here. The Queen of the South shall rise up in Judgement with this Generation, and shall Condemn it; For She came from the utermost Parts of the Earth, to hear the Wisdom of Solomon; and be­hold a Greater then Solomon is here. Mat. 11, 21. Wo unto thee Chorazin, Wo unto thee Bethsaida: for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sydon, they would have repented long ago, in Sack-Cloth and Ashes. What fear and horror hath been upon Heathens Spirits, tho' they have had no Scripture to accuse them? Hystories declare, that upon unjust, uncleane and Injurious Actions, they have not been able to rest or Sleep. What sayings have they to recommeud a virtuous life. Hic murus abeneus esto, nil conscire Sibi, nulla Pallescereculpa. [Page 41] To be conscious to a Mans self of [...]o evil, nor unjust action; is that only [...]hing that may make a Man happy. That [...]razen Wall that will beat back all darts. [...]h that Christians should do so many [...]hings to raise up Conscience like a Lion [...]nd Bear to roar within them, when even [...]eathens have been affraid to make their Conscience their Enemy and Adversary! How Moderate and Temperate were ma­ [...]y of them in their Meats and Drinks? [...]eneca, Plutarch, Plato, and some of the [...]toicks, speak very high things about that [...]hich is virtuous. Now what a Reproach [...]s it to the glorious Gospel, which we re­ [...]eive, to be out-done by them? What, [...]all not the Word of God and the Gos­ [...]el of Christ teach us more Holiness then [...]he Turks Alcoran? Shall not the Ten Commandments of God oblige us to more [...]urity then the twelve Tables of the [...]omans? O what a sad dishonour is this [...]o the Truth and Knowledge of God! That among his People, should be found [...]oers of those things which natural light [...]ould abhor.

Surely we can never grieve enough, to [...]ee how many have no better a Title to [...]eligion, then what they can challenge [...]y virtue of an over eager opposition, a­ [...]ainst a dissenting party; and have no [Page 42] Arguments to evidence their Christianity except their Zeal in controverted point may pass for a demonstration of it; a [...] counting satyrical invectives and bitter r [...] ­flections, to be instances of a Religio [...] zeal for God; which are but demonstra­tions of their own folly and weakness doteing upon those Images and Repre­sentations, which their abused fancies hav [...] suggested to them!

3 Consider that the degeneracy of th [...] human nature appears in nothing more then in Mens proseliting themselves t [...] bruitish sensuality, wherein indeed th [...] Beasts do ovtvie them; as being furnishe [...] with greater exquisitness of sense for th [...] entertainment of sensual Pleasures. An [...] yet how many are there, who Sacrifice thei [...] Reason to their Appetite; and sink them selves into a lower species; placing th [...] Beast above the Man; in pursuing no o­ther things then what may gratisie thei [...] carnal Lusts? It is an opinion no les [...] false in it self, then pernicious in its ef­fects, to all true Godliness; That Piet [...] divorcoth its Proselytes from all pleasan [...] enjoyments, and espouseth them to a me­lancholy and sorrowful spirit: wherea [...] the time, when all true comfort bea [...] date, is the Commencement of an hol [...] and Religious Life. And could we per­swad [...] [Page 43] Men to make an experiment of what we say; they would soon conclude, that the gleanings of Divine Joy are in­finitely to be preferred, before the Vin­tage of Worldly Pleasures.

4. Consider that the constant Practise of Piety, and the conscientious performing of Religious Duties, would soon overcome all those trifling prejudices, wherewith the minds of many are preposessed. There are no such insuperable difficulties in the leading of an holy Life, as some do suggest to themselves. The Lion in this way is not so fierce as he is painted. There are no such dreadful apparitions in an holy Life, as a carnal deluded imagination re­presents. The difficulties that occur in a Christian course, are not half so many and great as they are made to be, by persons prejudiced against it. Men first draw the Picture of an Holy Life, with a sad and lowring countenance, and then they take occasion to dislike it. An Holy and Religious Life, looks upon us, with a serene and pleasant Aspect, and puts us upon no task, which our diligent endea­vours shall not overcome, and conquer. The Duties of a Christian, in a little time, become easie and feasible. Every Virtue is more facile and easy then its opposite Vice.

[Page 44] 5. Consider the Promise and assurance of a Reward, infinitely above the labour of any services that God requires, tends to the facilitateing of this necessary Work. That exceeding and eternal weight of Glory, which is promised to all that are truly Godly, is a powerful inducement to engage unto the practise of an Holy Religious Life. This is sufficient to make the roughest places smooth, and level the highest Mountains into a plain, and make the Torrid Zone temperate. In the view of this Glory, all difficulties are swallow­ed up; and the edge of all dangers turn­ed. The encouragement to duty doth infinitely preponderate the difficulty of it. What tho we should a little prick our singers, to get the Rose of Sharon; and smite our foot on the stony Mountain, to gather the Lilly of the Valleys? What tho we toil all night, when we are cer­tain of such a rich draught in the Morn­ing.

6. Consider that the assistance of the Spirit, so frequently promised in Holy Scripture, makes the power of Godliness, and the practise of Religion facile and easy. God doth not break the bruised Reed, nor quench the smoaking Flax, nor despise the day of small things; insomuch [Page 45] that tho many Duties of Religion be ac­ [...]ounted difficult; yet those who give up [...]hemselves to the conscientious perform­ [...]nce of them, have that assistance from an [...]nseen hand, which facilitates and sweetens [...]heir hardest labours.

7. Consider the severity and just dis­pleasure of God, which you expose your [...]elves unto, by your reiterated acts of Sin and Disobedience. The Apostle was well acquainted with the force of this Argu­ment, 2 Cor. 5. 11. knowing the Terror of the Lord, we [...]erswade Men. Let us then think, if we can bear the indignation of the Lord, and [...]tand before the power of his Anger. Can we dwell with devouring fire, and lie [...]own in everlasting burnings? &c.

8. Consider that there is an Intrinsique weakness writ upon all those serene, and [...]ransitory delights; which makes them un­worthy the pursuit of those who are truly wise. Those sublunary sinful Pleasures, like Flowers wither in our hands, and perish in our embraceings. They salute our senses, and then bid an eternal fare­wel. The Heavenly Herauld, who knew very well how to blazen this Worlds Coat of Arms, tells us it is made up of fading Flowers; when we come to gaspe these things, they are but wind, and to [Page 46] embrace them they are but a cloud. Thu [...] you see, how much it doth concern us to live in the diligent, and Conscientiou [...] practise of Religious Duties; to set abou [...] this necessary work of self Reformation and be of inoffensive and unblameabl [...] Lives.

But methinks I here some one say What shall I do that I may Reform my self; or what course shall I take that I may promote this necessary work of self-refor­mation? And if there be any perswad­ed (by what I have said) to set upo [...] the Practise of this Duty: I would further encourage them by prescribing the follow­ing Directions.

If we would reform ou [...] selves, and a [...] bandon these courses we have lien wallow [...] ing in. 1. We should engage in this wor [...] with a full purpose, and resolution to mak [...] our way through the greatest difficulties and severities that are in it. It must b [...] granted that an Holy Religious Life is no [...] easy unto Flesh and Blood: And the way of sin is not relinguisht, without som [...] Reluctancy at the first. The strong Ma [...] armed will not presently quit his House and peaceably surrender to an Holy course the Right hand cannot be cut off, and the Right Eye pluckt out, without some diffi­cult [Page 47] The new Birth is not accomplish­ [...] without some throws, and the Devil [...]ill rage, when disposessed. But to those [...]ho put on resolution and courage, and [...]solve to make their way over all Rubs [...]d Remora's; it doth at last become [...]sy and pleasant. It is only burdensome [...] those who are weak through sinful In­ [...]mities; and painful only to such who bour under their own dull and idle Spi­ [...]ts: if any therefore would set upon this [...]ork, they must do it with courage. We [...]ust put on Heroical Resolutions, and [...]outly oppose the Impetuous desires of our [...]nsitive powers.

2. If we would reform our selves, we [...]ust then deny the first solicitations, and [...]esist the first motions of an Inordinate [...]ppetite. We must depress them, at the [...]rst rising, and quench Lust when it be­ [...]ins to smoak, before it break out into a [...]ame: For then it will be unruly, and [...]o hard to master, and keep under; we [...]all best silence the clamours and impor­ [...]nities of a Temptation, by not listening [...]o them; for the yielding to commit a in, leaves a greater propension, and desire [...]o sin again: we should therefore carefully [...]heck the first risings and Ebullitions of [...]ur depraved and corrupted Natures.

[Page 48] 3. Would we Reform our selves, and lead unblameable and inoffensive lives [...] Then we must shew a more then ordinary severity, against the sins (that through Constitution or Custom) we have the greatest inclination unto. It is not so much as safe to argue with Temptations unto sin; but we should say to them, as our Saviour once said to Peter, Get thee be­hind me Satan, for thou savourest not the things that be of God.

4. If we would reforme our selves; then we ought, as much as lies in our power, to shun whatsoever may probably be an occa­sion of being tempted; especially to such sins, as we are most inclined to. Are we prone to excess, either in Meat, or Drink? Are we apt suddenly to take fire and to be enflamed with Passions? Are we of a Lustful Temper, or the like? Then we should carefully avoid, as much as we can, all such places, company and objects, as may be incentives to those Appetites Thus in order to avoiding the Sin of Un­cleanness, the Wise Man adviseth, not to come near the house of the Whorish Wo­man. And for the prevention of the Sin of Drunkenness; not so much as to look on the Wine, when it is Red, and gives its Colour in the Glass. It is in vain to [Page 49] [...]hink of turning to God from our Sins; if we do not turn from the occasion of them. If we have not strength to turn from the occasion of Sin, which is the less; [...]how can we avoid the Sin it self, which is the greater? He that resolves not to be burn't in the fire, must not come too near the flame. He that will not be in­ticed by the Adulterous Woman, must not come too near her dwelling If we separate our selves first from the occasion of sin­ning, the Sin it self will be more easily subdued. As the Husbandman first cuts away the under bushes, and brambles; be­fore he lays the Ax to the root of the Tree.

5. Would we Reform our selves? Then we should be sure to keep up, and retain these holy purposes, and Resolutions of a Reformation in us; some Men purpose to day to Reform, but are off it before to morrow. Their Holy Intentions and Re­solutions Hos. 6, 4. are very short liv'd. There comes up a Worm that quickly consumes [...]hese Gourds; their purposes vanish with­out execution, and continue but for a Sea­son If we would Reform. our purposes [...]nd Resolutions should not be like Pil­ [...]rims and Strangers, that lodge but for Night [...] but they should rather be like [...]re upon the Alter, that never goes out. [Page 50] Those purposes that are not constant and Rooted, will die as soon as they begin to live.

6. Would we set upon this necessary work of Self-Reformation? Then let us go forth in the Grace and Power of God, and not in our own strength and skill. If we be not assisted with Power from a­bove, our own courage, conduct and strength, will be too little and defective▪ It is no thinking to conquer our Lusts by our own wooden Sword, but we must fight with the sword of the Spirit in this Holy war; we should then say to all our sins we intend to wage War with, as David did to Goliab: I come unto thee in the Name of the Lord whom thou hast defied. I set upon mortifying these Sins, not by my own strength, but in the power of Christ whose glory and honour my Sins would take away.

7. Would we reforme our selves? Th [...] let us labour to be affected as much as pos­sible, with the love of God, and of Divi [...] things. If the love of God be perfect [...] in us, we shall find the work of Self-Re­formation, as pleasant, and easie, as [...] [...]an wish. Love will maker [...]s [...]hink na­thing precious, [...]hat God will have us pa [...] with: it will make us with [...] ch [...]arful­ness, [Page 51] part with a right eye a right hand any thing that is offensive. This will cause us to believe no suffering harsh, that. God shall inflict; and no duty difficult that he shall command. This is the Love of 1 Joh, 5. 3. God, that we keep his Commandments, and his Commandments are not grievous. If you love me, is a familiar and powerful form of speech with us, to perswade one ano­ther to the doing, or forbearing any thing. And what humane love and af­fection doth work among Men; that, and much more will be effected by Divine love. It is love alone that is ashamed to men­tion difficulty. Nay, love welcomes diffi­culties, and pleaseth it self in hard instan­ces of obedience, because, by them, it [...]hews more of its real fervency.

8 Would you reform your selves, and be helpt forward in this so Necessary a Du­ty? Then be often looking to those lively Patterns and examples Set before you in holy Scripture. These are of Singular use, [...]nd advantage to be Seriously considered [...]y you, for they plainly Shew the work not to be impossible, and Impracticable. We have the example of some, who lived [...]n Prophane places, have been compassed with all wickedness; and yet they have taken care in great measure, to keep them­ [...]elves unspotted, from the Sins of the time [Page 52] and place wherein they lived; you read of a Lot in Sodom; of a Moses, who chose rarher to suffer Affiction, with the people of God, then to enjoy the Pleasures of Sin, which are but for a season; esteeming the reproaches of Christ grater riches then the Treasures of Egypt; and thereupon re­fused to be called the Son of Phaorohs daughter. Nicodemus a Pharisee, and a Heb. 11, 24. 25 26, great man in the Pharisees Councill, yet this is a man, that feared God, and was drawn aside by their examples, Could they do thus, and cannot we, by the same Di­vine Power and help, do the like? They were men Subject to like Passions with us; they were Flesh and Blood as we are, and Naturally weak and infirme as our selves, and God is the same in Power, and Good­ness that he ever was. Here we have ex­amples added unto rules, and paterns un­to precepts. How many precepts have we in Scripture, to engage us to Chasity, Pu­rity, Temperance, and so briety, meekness and patience, Faith and Charity, to an ho­ly resolvedness of owning God, and adhere­ing to his ways, and unweariedness in doe­ing good, and to every other Grace and Virtue.

And have we not (besides others) the examples of Joseph for Chastity; Moses for Meekness, Job for Patience, Abraham for [Page 53] Faith, Doroas and Cornelius out St. Paul for an unwearied zeal, and Timothy for Temper­ [...]nce, and Sobriety. And above all, that example of all examples, for every thing that is holy, pure and Lovely, our Lord Jesus Christ. Now whence is it that these holy examples are Recorded for us; but that we should make it our Serious care and holy ambition to transcribe their vir­tues, to write after these fair Copies they have set us, and be followers of those bles­sed Souls, who are now in a state of bliss and Glory.

9 That you may go forward with this Blessed work of reformation; ever when you begin to be weary, or faint in your mindes, then look unto Jesus Christ, as Crucified for you. Heb. 12. 2. 3. Looking unto Jesus, the Au­thor, and Finisher of our Faith, who (for the Joy that was Set before him) endured the Cross, despised the Shame, and is now Set down at the right hand of God in Glory. For consider him that endured such Contradiction of Sinners, lest ye be weary, and faint in your mindes. Who knows but our looking up to a Crucified Christ may have the same in­fluence upon us, That a look of Christ had upon Peter, when he had thrice denied his Master? The Apostle then called to mind, what Jesus said unto him, and he went out and wept Bitterly. When we [Page 54] Consider how Christ was wounded for our Transgressions, and Bruised for our Ini­quities; when we consider that we have Crucified the Lord of Life and Glory that our Sins Nail'd him to the Cross, wonnded him the Heart, and put him to all the Griefe and Paines he underwent how can we be dearly Affected to these vile Bodies, or Solicitous for the Pleas­ing of our Appetites; and studious about those things which may be gratefull to the Flesh? And as to the impure Pleasures of this world, no Consideration can be more Potent, to extinguish our desires to them; then the Consideration of Christ upon the Cross

FINIS.

BOOKS Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three-Crowns in Cheapside, near Mercers­Chapel.

  • FOrty nine Sermons on the whole Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Colossians, by Monsieur Daille, Minister of the Reformed Church in Paris, Folio.
  • Sermons and Discourses on several Di­vine Subjects; by the late Reverend and Learned David Clarkson, B. D. and some­time Fellow of Clare-Hall, Cambridge, Folio.
  • A Body of Practical Divinity consist­ing of above One hundred seventy six Sermons on the Catechism of the Assem­bly of Divisions at Westminster. By Tho. Watson, formerly Minister of Stephen Wal­brook. Folio.
  • The Support of the Faithfull in [...] of [...]; or [...] Sermon Preach [...]d in [Page] the Wilderness, to the poor Protestants in France. By M. Baousson, an Eminent Mi­nister, who was broke upon the Wheel at Montpelier, Novem. 6. 1698. Quarto.
  • The Fountain of Life opened, or a Dis­play of Christ in his Essential and Mediato­rial Glory; containing Forty two Sermons on various Texts. Wherein the Impetra­tion of our Redemption by Jesus Christ is orderly unfolded, as it was begun, carried on, and finished by his Covenant Tranfacti­on, mysterious Incarnation, blessed Offices, deep Abasements and Supereminent Ad­vancement.
  • A Treatise of the Soul of Man, where­in the Divine Original, excellent and im­mortal Nature of the Soul are opened, its Love and impoved. The Existence, Ope­rations and States of separated Souls both in Heaven and Hell immediately after Death, asserted, discussed, and variously ap­plied. Divers knotty and difficult Questi­ons about departed Souls both Philosophi­cal and Theological, stated and determined.
  • Reformation of Manners Promoted; by a Perfect Abstract of all the Canon and Statute-Laws in Force and Use (from the Reforma­tion to this Time) Concerning the Observa­tion of the Lord's-Day, commonly called Sunday; with the like Abstract of the Act made the last Sessions of Parliament, In­tituled, An Act for the more Effectual Sup­pressing of Blasphemy and Prophaness.

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