TWELVE SERMONS UPON Several Subjects AND Occasions.


The Third Volume.

Never before Printed.

LONDON, Printed by Tho. Warren for Thomas Bennet at the Half-Moon in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1698.

To the Most Reverend Father in GOD NARCISSUS Lord Archbishop of DVBLIN, His Grace.

My Lord,

THE Particular Acquaintance and Friendship which your Grace was pleased to Honour me with, while you lived at Oxford, have emboldened me [...] address my self to your Lordship at this great distance of Place, and greater of Con­dition, in hopes that by your Grace's Ad­vancement to so high a Station in the Church, That, which before was onely Friendship, may now Improve into Patronage and Pro­tection. And yet, as Ambitious as I am of so ennobling a Patronage, and as singular a Value as I have for your Grace's Favour, I [Page] must needs own, that the Design of my pre­sent Application to your Grace, is not so much to Crave a Favour, as to pay a Debt: and, in answer to the many obligations I lie under, to Congratulate your Grace that height of Dignity and Greatness, to which Providence has so happily raised you, and your own Worth so justly entituled you, and so, with­out your seeking (and much less sneaking) for it, made you, to your great Honour, to be sought for by it: There being (as from my heart I believe) few Examples in the World, of so much Merit, and so much Modesty in Conjunction.

It is indeed no small Infelicity to the Church of England, to have parted with so Extraordinary a Member; but none at all I conceive to your Grace, that you are placed, where you are; Especially, if your Grace shall Consider, the present estate of our Church here, as through the Arts of her Enemies she stands divided against Her self: and that only by Two, or Three Odd New Terms of Distinction maliciously invented, and Studi­ously made use of for that base Purpose; such a Sovereign, or at least such a peculiar, method [Page] have some found out for preserving our Church, if the best way to preserve a Body, be by Cutting it a sunder. For those of the Ancienter Members of Her Communion who have all along owned and contended for a strict Conformity to Her Rules and Sanctions, as the surest Course to establish Her, have been of late represented, or rather Reprobà­ted under the Inodiateing Character of High Churchmen, and thereby stand marked out for all the discouragement that Spight, and Power together can pas [...] upon them; while those of the Contrary Way and Principle are Distinguished, or rather Sanctifyed, by the fashionable Endearing Name of Low Churchmen; not from their affecting (we may be sure) a Lower Condition in the Church than others; (since none lie so low but they can look as high) but from the Low Condition, which the Authors of this Di­stinction would fain bring the Church it self into: A Work, in which they have made no small Progress already. And thus by these Vngenerous, as well as Vnconscionable Pra­ctices, a Fatal Rent and Division is made amongst us: and, being so, I think, those [Page] of the Concision who made it, would do well to Consider, whether that, which our Sa­viour assures us, will destroy a Kingdom, be the likeliest way to settle and support a Church. But I question not, but these Divi­ders will very shortly receive Thanks from the Papists for the Good Services they have done them; and in the mean time they may be sure of their Scoffs.

Never certainly were the Fundamental Ar­ticles of our Faith so boldly impugned, nor the Honour of our Church so fouly blemished, as they have been of late Years; while the Socinians have had their full Vncontrolled Fling at Both; and the Tritheists, have in­jured and exposed them more by pretending to defend them against the Socinians, than the Socinians themselves did, or could do, by opposing them. For surely it would be thought a very odd way of ridding a Man of the Plague by running Him through with a Sword; or of Curing Him of a Lethargy by casting Him into a Calenture; a Disease of a Contrary Nature indeed, but no less Fatal to the Patient; who equally dies whether his Sickness or his Physick, the malignity of his [Page] Distemper, or the method of his Cure dis­patches him. And in like manner must it fare with a Church, which feeling it self struck with the Poyson of Socinianism, flies to Tritheism for an Antidote.

But at length happily steps in the Royal Authority to the Church's Relief, with se­veral Healing Injunctions, in its Hand, for the Composing and Ending the Disputes about the Trinity then on foot; and those indeed so wisely framed, so seasonably timed, and (by the King at least) so graciously in­tended, that they must in all Likelihood (with­out any Other Irenicon) have restored Peace to the Church, had it not been for the Impor­tunity and Partiality of some, who having by the Awe of these Injunctions endeavoured to si­lence the opposite Party (which by their Argu­ments they could not do,) and withal looking upon themselves as Privileged Persons, and so above those Ordinances, which others were to be subject to, Resolved not to be silent themselves; but renewing the Contest, partly by throwing Muggleton, and Rigaltius, with some Other foul stuff in their Adversa­ries faces; and partly by a shameless Reprint­ing [Page] (without the least Reinforcing) the same exploded Tritheistick Notions again and again, they quite broke through the Royal Prohibitions, and soon after began to take as great a Liberty in venting their In­novations and Invectives, as ever they had done before; so that He, who shall Im­partially Consider the Course taken by these Men with reference to those engaged on the other side of this Controversy about the Tri­nity, will find that their whole Proceeding in it resembles nothing so much, as a Thief's binding the hands of an honest Man with a Cord, much fitter for his own Neck.

But, blessed be God, matters stand not so with you in Ireland; the Climate there being not more Impatient of Poysonous Ani­mals, than the Church of Poysonous Opi­nions; An Vniversal Concurrent Orthodoxy shining all over it, from the superiour Clergy who preside, to the Inferiour placed under them: so that we never hear from thence of any Presbyter, and much less of any Dean, who dares Innovate upon the Faith Received: and least of all (should such a Wretch chance to start up amongst you) can I hear of any [Page] Bishop likely to debase his Style and Cha­racter so low as either to Defend the Man, or Colour over his Opinions. Nor lastly do we find, that, in the Iudgment of the Clergy there, a Man' [...] having wrote a­gainst one sort of Heresy or Heterodoxy, ought to Iustifie or Excuse Him in Writ­ing for Another; and much less for a Worse.

The Truth is, such Things as these make the Case with us here in England Come too near that of Poland about an Hun­dred and Twenty or Thirty Years ago; See a Learned Tract in 8•o. Intituled, The Growth of Error, &c. Sect. 8. Printed in the Year, 1697. Where the Doctrine of Three distinct infinite Spirits began, and led the Dance; and was quickly followed (as the Design was laid) by Soci­nianism. Whereupon, their old Popery got a firmer establishment, and more rigorous Im­position than before: (the Government pre­ferring a less Pure, and Perfect Christianity before the most refined Turcism.) This was the method taken there, and I wish it may not have the like Issue here.

But on the Contrary amongst You, when a [Page] Certain Mahometan Christian (No new thing of late), Notorious for his Blasphemous Denyal of the Mysteries of our Religion, and his Insufferable Virulence against the whole Christian Priesthood, thought to have found shelter amongst you, the Parlia­ment to their Immortal Honour, Pre­sently sent him Packing, and without the help of a Faggot soon made the Kingdom too Hot for him. A sufficient Argument Doubt­less, how far we are from needing those savage Executions, used by the Papists to Rid the Church of Hereticks and Blasphe­mers, where Authority Animated with due Zeal will attempt that worthy Work, by o­ther more Humane, but not less effectual means. Nothing Certainly but Power, as the World now goes, can keep the Church in Peace.

And now, My Lord, may that God by whom Princes and Prelate's Govern, and Churches stand, long preserve Your Grace, and that Excellent Church, which you are so eminent a Pillar of, and Ornament to; and which by Her Incomparable Courage and Faithfulness lately shewn in preserving [Page] that Great Depositum, the Holy Religion Committed to her Trust, has gotten her self a Name, which will never die; and such a solid well-founded Reputation, as no Bend­ing this way or that way, no Trimming or Tricking it, ever could or can give so Ample and so Considerable a Body. For it is Lead only that Bends to almost every Thing, which the Nobler Metals cannot do, and the Nobler sort of minds will not.

But I fear, I trespass too far upon Your Grace's Time and Business; And therefore humbly imploring Your Grace's blessing, I lay these Poor Papers at Your feet; infinite­ly Vnworthy, I Confess, of the Acceptance of so great a Person, and the Perusal of so Iudicious an Eye, but yet, at present, the best pledges I can give Your Grace of those sincere Respects, and Services, which Your Grace ought always to Claim, and shall never fail to Receive, from,

My Lord,
Your Grace's ever Faithful and most Obedient Servant, Robert South[?].


JOB XXII.2. former part. Can a Man be pro­fitable to God?
p. 3
Luk. XI.35. Take heed therefore that the Light which is in Thee be not Darkness.
p. 35
Matth. V.44. former part. But I say unto you, Love your Enemies.
p. III
Matth. VII.26, 27. And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish Man, who built his House upon the Sand. And the Rain descended, and the Flouds came and the Winds blew, and beat upon that House and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
p. 165
1 Cor. VIII.12. But when ye Sin so against the Brethren, and Wound their Weak Conscience, ye Sin against Christ.
p. 211
1 Cor. II.7. former part. But we speak the Wisdom of God in a Mystery.
p. 259
Revel. XXII.16. latter part. I am the Root and the Off-spring of David, and the Bright and Morning-star.
p. 315
John I.11. He came to His Own, and His Own received Him not.
p. 361
Isaiah LIII.8. latter part.—For the Transgression of my People was He stricken.
p. 415
Acts II.24. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the Pains of Death: because it was not pos­sible that He should be holden of it.
p. 463
1 Cor. XII.4. Now there are diversities of Gifts, but the same Spirit.
p. 503
Psalm CXLIV.10. former part. It is He that giveth Salvation unto Kings.
p. 553

Some of the Chief Errors of the Press are thus to be Corrected.

PAge 27. l. 23. r. Eleemosynary, p. 25. l. 23. r. suteable, p. 36. l. 22. for do r. de, p. 46. l. 14. for Of r. and, p. 61. l. 4. r. Unconceivably, p. 79. l. 15. r. Ethiopian, p. 87. l. 1. r. skillfullest, p. 89. l. 19. for Himself r. Him, p. 92. l. 19. r. Instances, p. 122. l. 25. for was r. were, p. 138. l. 2. r. artificially, p. 139. l. 25. for ever r. even, p. 150. l. 24. dele the first [And] p. 153. l. 9. r. Head, p. 155. l. 12. for Who r. whom, p. 247. l. 16. for last r. late, p. 264. l. 23. r. Influence, p. 283. l. 5. r. Egyptians, p. 315. l. 10. r. Epiphany, p. 351. l. 9. r. Appearance, p. 451. l. 16. for [word] r. Work, p. 456. l. last r. Renounce, p. 542. l. 1. for Rule r. of Rule, p. 578. l. 9. dele from, p. 596. l. 13. r. Concerning.

THE Doctrine of Merit STATED, AND THE Impossibility of MANS Meriting of GOD, Asserted in a DISCOURSE UPON The 22. of Iob, and the 2d Verse.

PREACHED At Westminster-Abbey, On Decem. 5th 1697.


Can a man be Profitable to God?

IT is a matter of no small moment certainly for a Man to be rightly in­formed, upon what Terms, and [...]onditions, he is to transact with God, and God with him, in the Great Business of his Salvation. For by Knowing upon what Terms he must obtain Eternal Hap­piness hereafter, he will know also, upon what Grounds he is to hope for, and ex­pect it here; and so be able to govern both his Actions and Expectations accord­ing to the Nature of the Thing he is in Pursuit of: Least, otherwise, he should chance to fail of the Prize he runs for, by mistaking the Way he should run in.

St. Paul, as plainly as words can express a Thing, tells us, That Eternal Life is the Gift of God; and Consequently to be expected by us only as such: nay, He asserts it to be a Gift in the very same [Page 4] verse in which He affirms Death to be as due to a Sinner, as Wages are to a Worke man, Romans 6.23. Than which Words nothing certainly can be more full and Conclusive, That Salvation proceeds wholly upon Free-gift, though Damna­tion upon strict Desert.

Nevertheless, such is the Extreme folly, or rather Sottishness of Man [...] Corrupt Nature, That this does by [...] means Satisfy Him. For though indeed he would fain be Happy, yet fain would He also Thank none for it but Himself. And, though He finds, that, not only His Duty, but His Necessity brings him every day upon His knees to Almighty God, for the very Bread he eats, yet when he comes to deal with Him about Spirituals (things of infinitely greater Value) he appears, and acts, not as a Suppliant, but as a Merchant; not as One, who comes to be Relieved, but to Traffick. For something he would receive of God, and something he would Give Him; and nothing will content this Insolent, yet Impotent Creature, unless he may seem [Page 5] to Buy the very Thing he Begs. Such being the Pride and Baseness of some Spi­rits, that where they Receive a Benefit too big for them to requite, they will even Deny the Kindness, and disown the Obligation.

Now this great self-delusion, so preva­lent upon most minds, is the Thing here encountered in the Text. The words of which (by an usual way of speech) under an Interrogation couching a Positive Assertion, are a Declaration of the Impos­sibility of man's being Profitable to God, or (which is all one) of his meriting of God; according to the true, proper, and strict sence of Merit. No [...] does this Interrogative way of Expression im­port only a bare Negation of the Thing, as, in it self, Impossible, but also a manifest, Undeniable Evidence of the said Impossibility; As if it had been said, That nothing can be more plainly Impossible, than for a man to be Profitable to God; for God to receive any Advantage by man's Righteousness; or to gain any Thing by his making his Ways perfect: [Page 6] and Consequently, That nothing can be more absurd, and contrary to all Sense and Reason, [...]an for a man to entertain, and cherish so irrational a Conceit, or to affirm so gross a Paradox.

And that no other Thing is here meant by a man's being profitable to God, but his meriti [...] of God, will appear from a true State and Account of the Nature of Me­rit; Which we may not improperly de­fine, A Right to receive some good upon the score of some good done, together with an E­qui [...]olence or Parity of Worth between the Good to be Received and the Good Done. So that although according to the Common Divis [...]n of Iustice into Commutative and Distributive, that, which is called Com­mutative, be imployed only about the strict Value of Things, according to an Arithmetical Proportion, (as the Schools speak) which admits of no Degrees; and the other species of Iustice, call'd Distributive, (as consisting in the Distri­bution of Rewards and Punishments) ad­mits of some Latitude and degrees in the Dispensation of it; yet, in Truth, even [Page 7] this Distribution it self must so far follow the Rules of Commutation, That the Good to be dispensed by way of Reward, ought in Iustice to be Equivalent to the Work, or Action, which it is design'd as a Compensation of; So as by no means to sink below it, or fall short of the full Va­lue of it. From all which (upon a just Estimate of the matter) it follows, That, in true Philosophy, Merit is nothing else, but an Instance, or Exemplification of that Noted saying, or Maxim, That one Bene­faction, or good Turn requires another; and imports neither more nor less, than a mans claim, or Title to Receive as much Good from another, as he had done for him.

Thus much therefore being premised, as an Explication of the Drift, or De­sign of the Words (the Words them­selves being too plain and Easy to need any further exposition) we shall observe, and draw from them these Four Parti­culars.

  • First, Something supposed, or implyed in them, viz. That Men are naturally very Prone to entertain an Opinion, or [Page 8] Perswasion, That they are able to merit of God, or be Profitable to Him.
  • Secondly, Something expressed; namely That such an Opinion or Perswasion is ut­terly false and absurd; and that it i [...] impossible for man to merit of God, or to be Profitable to Him.
  • Thirdly, Something Inferred from both the former, to wit, That the foremen­tioned Opinion, or Perswasion is the very source or foundation of Two of the greatest Corruptions, that have infested the Christian Church and Religion. And
  • Fourthly, and Lastly, Something object­ed against the Particulars discoursed of, which I shall endeavour [...]o answer▪ and remove; and so Conclude this Dis­course.

Of Each of which in their order: And

First, For the first of them. The Thing supposed or Implyed in the Words, namely, That Men are naturally very Prone to entertain an Opinion or Perswasion, That they are able to merit of God, or be Profita­ble to Him.

The Truth of which will appear from these two Considerations.

[Page 9] First, That it is Natural for them to place too High a Value both upon them­selves, and their own Performances. And that this is so, is evident from that Vni­versal Experience, which proves it no less Natural to them, to bear a more than ordinary Love to themselves; and all Love (we know) is founded in, and results from, a Proportionable Esteem of the Object Loved: So that, look in what Degree any Man loves himself, in the same Degree it will follow, that he must Esteem himself too. Upon which ac­count it is, that every Man will be sure to set his own Price upon what he is, and what he does, whether the World will come up to it or no; as it seldom does.

That speech of St. Peter to our Sa­viour is very remarkable, in Mat. xix.27. Master (says he) we have forsook all, and followed Thee, what shall we have therefore? In which words, he seems to be upon Equal Terms with his Lord; and to expect no more of him (as he thought) but strictly a Pennyworth for his Penny; and all this from a Conceit that [Page 10] he had done an A [...] so exceedingly Meri­torious, that it must even Non-plus his Master's Bou [...]y, to quit scores with him by a just Requital. Nay, so far had the same proud Ferment got into the Minds of all the Disciples, that neither could their own low condition, nor the con­stant S [...]rmons of that Great Example of Self-denial and Humility, whom they daily conversed with; nor lastly, the Cor­rectives of a Peculiar Grace totally clear, and cure them of it. And therefore, no Wonder, if a Principle so deeply rooted in Nature works with the whole Power of Nature; and considering also [...]he Cor­ruption of Nature, as little wonder is it, if it runs out with an Extravagance e­qual to its Power, making the Minds of Men even Drunk with a false intoxicating conceit of their own Worth, and Abi­lities. From whence it is, That, as Man is, of all Creatures in the World, both the most Desirous, and the most Vnable to advance himself, So, through Pride and Indigence, (Qualities which usually concur in Beggars) none is so [Page 11] unwillingly to own the Benefactions he lives by, and has no claim to, as this weak and worthless Self-Admirer, who has nothing to be admired in him, but that he can, upon such Terms, admire Himself. For Naked came I into the World, and Naked shall I go out again, ought to be the Motto of eve [...] Man when born, the History of his Life, and his Epitaph when Dead: His Empti­ness and Self-consciousness together, can­not but make him feel in himself (which is the surest way of knowing) that He has indeed Nothing, and yet he bears himself [...] if he could command all things; at the same time low in condition, and yet lofty in opinion; boasting and yet depending; nay boasting against Him, whom he depends upon. Which cer­tainly is the foulest Solecism in Behaviour, and two of the worst Qualities, that can be, in Conjunction. But,

Secondly, A Second Consideration, from whence we inferr this Proneness in Men to think themselves able to Merit of God, or to be Profitable to Him, is their Natural [Page 12] [...]ptness to form, [...]nd measure their ap­prehensions of the Supreme Lord of all Things, by what they apprehend, and observe of the Princes and Potentates of this World, with reference to such as are under their Dominion. And this is, cer­tainly, a very prevailing fallacy, and steals [...] [...]asily upon Mens Minds, as being [...]ounded in the unhappy Predomi­nance of Sense over Reason; which, in the present Condition of Man's Nature, does but too frequently, and fatally take Place. For Men naturally have but faint Notions of Things Spiritual, and such as incurr not into their Senses; but their Eyes, their Ears, and their Hands are too often made by them the Rule of their Faith, but almost always the Reason of their Practice. And therefore no mar­vel if they blunder in their Notions a­bout God; a Being, so Vastly above the Apprehensions of Sense; while they con­ceive no otherwise of Him at best, but as of some great King, or Prince, ruling with a Wordly Majesty, and Grandeur over such Puny mortals as [Page 13] themselves: Whereupon, as they frame to themselves no other Idea of Him, but such as they borrow from the Royal Estate of an Earthly Soveraign, so they conceive also of their own Relation to Him, and Dependance upon him, just as they do of that which passes between such a Sove­raign and His Subjects; and consequent­ly, since they find, that there is [...] Prince upon Earth so Absolute, but that he stands in as much need of His subjects for many Things, as they do, or can stand in need of Him for His Government and Protection; (by reason whereof there must needs fol­low a reciprocal Exchange of Offices, and a mutual supply of Wants between them, rendring both Parties Equally Necessary to One Another.) I say from these mis­applyed Premises, the Low, Gross, Un­distinguishing Reason of the Generality of Mankind, presently infers, That the Creature also may, on some Accounts be as Beneficial to His Creator, as such a Subject is to his Prince; and that there may be the like Circulation of good Turns between them; they being (as they [Page 14] think) within their compass, as really [...]seful to God, as God for His Part is Be­neficial to them; which is the True No­tion of Merit, or of being Profitable to God. A conceit, that sticks so close to Humane Nature, that neither Philosophy, nor Religion can wholly remove it; And y [...]t if we consider the limited Right, which [...] Greatest Prince upon Earth has over his meanest slave, and that Absolute, Boundless, Paramount Right, which God has over the very same Things, and Per­sons, which such Princes avow a Claim to, and by virtue of which Transcendent Right somet hing is God's which can never be Theirs; And even what is Theirs is still by a much Higher title His, I say, if we consider this, the Absurdity and Incon­sequence of all such Discourses about the Relation between God and Man, as are taken from what we see, and observe between Man and Man, as Governing and governed, is hereby more than suffici­ently proved: and yet as Absurd, as Fallacious, and Inconsequent as this way of Discoursing is, it is one of the Chief Foun­dations [Page 15] of the Doctrine of Merit, and consequently of the Religion of too great a Part of the World: A Religion tending only to defraud men of their t [...]ue Saviour, by perswading them that they may be their Own. And thus much for the first Particular, the Thing supposed in the Words, to wit, That Men are Natu­rally very prone to perswade themselv [...], that they are able to Merit of God, or be Profita­ble to Him.

I proceed now to the

Second Particular, In which we have something expressed, namely, That such a Perswasion is utterly false and Absurd, and that it is Impossible for Men to Merit of God, or be Profitable to Him. And this I shall Evince by shewing the several Ingredients of Merit, and the Conditions necessary to render an Action Meritorious. Such as are these four that follow; as

First, That an Action be not due; that is to say, it must not be such as a Man stands obliged to the doing of; but such as he is free either to do, or not to do, without being chargeable with the Guilt of any sinful [Page 16] Omission, in case he does it not. It being no ill Account given of Merit by Spanhemius (the Elder,Dub. Evang. Parte 3 [...] pag. 782.) That it is Opus bonum Indebitum faciens praemium debitum ex Indebito. For other­wise, if that which is Due, may also Me­rit, then, by paying what I owe, I may make my Creditors my Debtors; and eve­ry Payment would not only clear; but also transfer the Debt.

Besides, that in all the Benefactions passing from Almighty God upon such as serve him the best they can, there could be no such thing as Liberality; which can never take place but where something is given, which the Receiver cannot Challenge: Nay, very hardly could there be any such Thing as Gift. For if there be first a Claim, then, in strictness of speech, it is not so properly Gift, as Payment. Yea, so vast would be the Comprehension of Justice, that it would scarce leave any Object for Favour. But God's Grace and Bounty, being so prevented by Merit, would be Specta­tors rather than Actors in the whole [Page 17] work of Man's Salvation. Nor would our Obedience to God's Positive Precepts only, but also to His Negative sometimes strike in for their share of Merit, and Claim to a Reward. And any one, who could plead such a Negative Righteous­ness, might come and demand a Recom­pence of God for not Drinking, or Whore­ing, Swearing or Blaspheming; just as the Pharisee did, for not Being as the very Dregs of Sinners; and so vouch himself meritorious (forsooth) for being a De­gree or Two short of Scandalous. More­over, amongst Men, it would pass for an obligation between Neighbours, that one of them did not rob or murder the other; and a sufficient Plea for Prefer­ment before Kings and Governours, not to have deserv'd the Gibbet and the Halter: which is a poor Plea in­deed, when to have deserv'd them proves oftentimes a better. In short, upon these Terms, He, who is not the very worst of Villains, must com­mence presently a Person of a pecu­liar Worth; and bare Indemnity will be [Page 18] too low a Privilege for the Merit of Not being a Clamorous, Overgrown Malefactor.

But now, that All that any Man alive is Capable of Doing, is but an Indispen­sable Homage to God, and not a free Oblati­on; and that also such an Homage, as makes his Obligation to what he does much ear­lier than his Doing of it, will appear both from the Law of Nature, and that of God's Positive Command: Of each of which a word or two, and

First, For the Law of Nature. There is Nothing that Nature proclaims with a louder, and more intelligible Voice, Than, that He, who gives a Being, and afterwards preserves and supports it, has an Indefeasible claim to whatsoever the said Being so Given, and Supported by Him, either is, or has, or can Possibly do. But this is a point, which I must be more par­ticular upon, and thereby lay a foundation for what I shall argue, à Fortiore, con­cerning God Himself, from what is to be observed amongst Men. Now the Right, which One Man has to the Actions of Another, is generally derived from One, [Page 19] or Both of these two Great Originals, Pro­duction, or Possession. The first of which gives a Parent right over the Actions of his Child; and the other gives a Master a Title to whatsoever can be done by his Servant. Which two are certainly the Principal, and most Undoubted Rights, that take place in the World. And both of them are Eminently and transcen­dently in God, as He stands related to Men: and

First, For Production. By the purest and most Entire Communication of Be­ing, God did not only Produce, but Create Man. He gave him an Existence out of Nothing, and while he was yet but a meer Idea or Possibility in the Mind of his Eternal Maker. That one Expression of the Psalmist, It is He who hath made us, and not we our selves, being both a full ac­count, and an irrefragable Demonstration of His Absolute Soveraignty over our Per­sons, and His incontestable Claim to all Our Services. Nor is this the Utmost measure of our obligation to Him, but as He first drew us out of Nothing and Non-Existence, [Page 20] so He ever since keeps us from Relapsing into it; His Power brought us forth; and His Providence maintains us. And thus has this poor Impotent Crea­ture been perpetually hanging upon the Bounty of his great Creator, and by a daily Preservation of his Precarious Being [...] stands obliged to Him under the growing renewed Title of a Continual [...] Creation. But this is not all. There is ye [...]

Secondly, Another Title; whereby One Person obtains a Right to all that another Can do; and that is Possession. A Title, every whit as Transcendently in God as the former; as being founded in, and Re­sulting from His forementioned Preroga­tive of a Creator. Nothing being more Unquestionable, Than that the Earth is the Lords, and the fullness thereof: as the Psalmist declares, Psalm 24.1. v. He is the Sole Proprietor, and Grand Landlord of the Vniverse. And moreover, as all Things were made by Him, so they were made for Him also; He made all Things for Him­self, says the wisest of Men, Prov. 16.4. He is the Original Efficient by which, and [Page 21] the Great and Last End for which they are: For by Him they Begun, and in Him they Terminate. After which two Essen­tial Relations born by God to Man on the one side, and obliging Man to God on the other, can there be any Thing that is Good, either in the Being or Actions of the latter, which can be called per­fectly his own? any Thing which is not entirely due to God, and that by a Com­plication of the most binding and Indis­pensable Titles? And if so, How and where can there be any Room for such a Thing, as Merit?

The Civil Law tells us, that Servants have not properly a Ius, a Right or Title, to any Thing, by Virtue whereof they can implead, or bring an Action against their Lord, upon any account whatso­ever; every such Servant, as the Law here speaks of, being not only his Masters Vassal, but also part of his Possessions. And this Right our Saviour Himself owns, and sets forth to Us by an Elegant Parable, couching under it as strong an argument, Luke 17.7, 8, 9. Which of [Page 22] You (saith He) having a Servant plowing, or feeding Cattel, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the Field, Go, and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup; and gird thy self and serve me, till I have eaten and drank; and afterwards thou shalt Eat and Drink. Doth he thank that Ser­vant, because he did the Things that were Commanded him? I trow not. Where we see, upon what Terms of Right, even the most diligent, and faithful Servant stands with his Master; who after he had been Toyling all Day in his Masters Business, dressing and manuring his Grounds, and Watering them with the drops of his brow, comes home at length hungry, and tired, (where if he could find no reward for his hard service, yet, one would think, that he might at least expect a Discharge from any further Work, and receive the Present Refresh­ments of his Natural food,) yet even then his Master renews his Imployment, delays his Repast, and Commands him to serve, and attend him at his Table, [Page 23] and with weary Limbs, and an empty Stomach, to expect a dismission at his pleasure; and, all this, without so much as any Thanks for his Pains. In which, neither is the Master Vnjust, nor the Ser­vant injured. For he did no more than what his Condition obliged him to; he did but his Duty; and Duty certainly neither is, nor can be Meritorious. Thus, I say, stands the Case amongst Men, ac­cording to the Difference of their respe­ctive Conditions in this World. And if so, must not the same Obligation, as it passes between God and Man, rise as much higher, as the Condition of a Crea­ture founds an Obligation incomparably Greater, than that of a bare Servant pos­sibly can? And therefore, since man stands bound to God under Both these Titles, to wit, of Production, and Pos­session, How can there be a greater Pa­radox, than for such a Contemptible, forlorn piece of Living dirt, to claim any Thing upon the stock of Merit from Him, Who is both his Master and his Maker too? No, the very best of Men, [Page 24] upon the very best of their Services, have no other Plea before God but Prayer; they may indeed beg an Alms, but must not think to [...]and upon their Te [...]ms. But,

Secondly, Not only the Law of Nature, and the Reason of the Thing it self, (as we have sufficiently shewn) Excludes a Man from all Plea of Merit, but also that fur­ther Obligation lying upon him, and all his services from the positive Law, and Com­mand of God, equally cuts him off from the same. The known Voice of that Law being, Thou shalt Worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. Matth. 4.10. And th [...]n for the measure and extent of that service, It is to be, with all the Heart, and all the Strength, and all the Soul. Mark 12.30. Which one Comprehensive Injunction grasping in it all that humane nature is able to do, and by Consequence bringing all that can be done by Man within the compass and Verge of Duty [...] has left no Vacancy or Possibility for Merit to take place; till it be proved, That a Man may actually do [Page 25] more, than with all his Heart, and all his Strength, and all his Soul, he is able to do; than which, it is impossible, even for Com [...]on sense, to conceive any Thing more senseless and contradictious. And so I proceed to the

II. Condition required to render an Action meritorious; and that is, That it should really add to, and better the State of the Person of whom it is to Merit. The reason of which is, because all merit (as we have shewn before) con­sists properly in a Right to receive some Benefit, on the account of some Benefit first done: The Natural order of Things re­quiring, that where a Considerable Ad­vantage has been received, something of the like Nature should be returned. For that otherwise, if one Part of the World should be always upon the Receiving hand, and never upon the Restoring, that Part would be a kind of monstrous Dead Weight upon the other, and all that was good and useful to Mankind would by an Enormous Disparity lean wholly on one side.

[Page 26]But to bring the foremen [...]ioned Condi­tion of Merit home to our present Pur­pose, and thereby to shew how far God is capable of Receiving from man, a [...] man of giving to God, it may not be amiss briefly to represent to our selves, What God is, and what man is, and by Conse­quence how the Case of Giving and Re­ceiving must stand on God's Part, and how on Man's ▪ And here in the

1st. Place. God offers Himself to our Consideration as a Being infinitely Per­fect, infinitely Happy, and Self-sufficient; depending upon no supply, or Revenue from abroad; but (as I may so express it) retreating wholly into Himself, and there living for ever upon the Inexhausti­ble stock of His Own Essential fulness; And, as a Fountain owes not its Streams to any Poor, Adventitious Infusions from without, but to the Internal, Unfailing Plenties of its own Springs; So this Mighty, All-comprehending Being which we call God; needs no other Happiness, but to Contemplate upon that which he actually is, and ever was, and shall [Page 27] be possessed of. From all which it fol­lows, That the Divine Nature, and Bea­titude, can no more admit of any Additi­on to it, than we can add Degrees to Infinity, new measures to Immensity, and further Improvements to a Boundless, Ab­solute, Vnimproveable Perfection: For such a Being is the Great God, Who is one of the Parties whom we are now discoursing of. Nevertheless, to carry the Case a little further; supposing for the Present, That the Divine Nature and Felicity were capable of some further Addition and Encrease, Let us in the

2. Place, cast our Eye upon the other Party concern'd, and consider, whether Man be a Being fit, and able to make this Addition: Man, I say, that poor, slight, Inconsiderable Nothing; or at best a Pitiful Something, beholden to e­very one of the Elements, as well as Compounded of them, and living as an E­leemosinary upon a Perpetual contributi­on from all, and every Part of the Crea­tion; This Creature clothing him, ano­ther feeding him, a third curing him [Page 28] when sick, and a fourth comforting and Refreshing him when well. In a word, he subsists by the joint Alms of Heaven and Earth; and stands at the Mercy of every Thing in Nature, which is able either to help, or hurt him.

And is this now the Person who is to oblige hi [...] Maker? to indent and drive barga [...]s with the Almighty? Those, I am sure, who, in their several Ages, have been reputed most Eminent for their knowledge of God and of them­selves too, used to speak at much ano­ther Rate concerning Both. My Good­ness (says David) extendeth not to Thee [...] Ps. 16.2. And again, If Thou be righteou [...] (says Elihu to Iob) what givest thou Him? or what does He receive at thy hands? Job 35.7. So that St. Paul might well make that Challenge without expecting ever to see it answered in Rom. 11.35. Who hath first given to Him and it shall be recompenced to him again? For let Man but first prove the Debt, and the Almighty will be sure to pay it. But most fully of all does our Saviour Him­self [Page 29] determine this point in that Remark­able conclusion of the forecited Parable, in Luk. 17.10. where He instructs His Disciples, After they had done all that was Commanded them, to acknowledge them­selves Vnprofitable Servants. That is to say, such as God, upon no account whatsoever, was, or could be at all the better for. And a clearer Text certainly, and more direct, and home against all Pre­tence of Merit neither Law, nor Gospel can afford.

Nevertheless, it must be confessed, That some have found out such an Expo­sition of it, as (if admitted) renders it [...]f no force at all against this Doctrine of Merit. For first, they absolutely Cashier and Literal, Express sence of the Words, and in the room of it Introduce a Figure called by the Greeks, [...], which to diminish, or degrade a thing, expresses it in Terms representing it much less than indeed it is; as when we say, a thing is smaller than an Atome, less than Nothing, and the like; Such words are not to be understood Literally, but im­port [Page 30] only, that the thing spoken of is very Inconsiderable. Accordingly, when Christ bids His Disciples after their best and most exact Performances acknow­ledge themselves Vnprofitable Servants; we are not (say these Expositors) to conclude from hence, That really they were so, but that Christ only read the [...] [...] Lecture of Humility, and Self-abasement towards God, in speaking but meanly and lowly of their own Piety, how differently soever it might deser [...]e to be Valued, according to the str [...] Estimate of the Thing it self. So that by all this (it seems) our Saviour was only teaching those about Him, how to pa [...] Complements upon Almighty God, Their Professing of themselves Vnprofit­able Servants, amounting to no more than if they had told Him, they were His Hum­ble Servants. The meaning of which words (if they have any meaning at all) the Fashionable Custom of Gentile Lying will much better account for, than the Language of Scripture (the word of Truth) is able to do. But in the mean time, what [Page 31] an insufferable perversion of the Written Word is it, to affix such a sence to any Text of it, as this forced Exposition here does? which manifestly turns a most Devout Confession to Almighty God into a piece of Courtship; a Princi­pal Truth into a meer Trope or Figure; and, in a word, one of the highest Duties of a Christian into a false, fulsome, and (at best) an Empty Expression. And so I pass to the

III. Condition required to render an Action meritorious; and that is, That there be an Equal Proportion of Value be­tween the Action, and the Reward. This being evident from the foundation al­ready laid by us; to wit, That the Na­ture of Merit consists properly in Exchange; and that, we know, must proceed accord­ing to a Parity of Worth on both sides; Commutation being most properly between things Equivalent. But now the Prize we run for, in all our Religious perfor­mances, is no less a thing than Life E­ternal, and a Beatifick Enjoyment of God Himself for ever; And can any Man, [Page 32] not quite abandoned by his Reason, imagine a few, weak, broken Actions, a competent Price for Heaven and Immorta­lity? And fit to be laid in the balance with an Exceeding and Eternal Weight of Glory? Is there any thing in Dust and Ashes, that can deserve to dwell with God, and to converse with Angels? O [...] can we, who live by sense, and act by sense, do any thing worthy of those joy which not only exceed our senses, but also transcend our Intellectuals? Can w [...] do beyond what we can Think? And Deserve beyond what we can do? For let us rate our best, and most Exact ser­vices according to the strict Rules of Morality, and what Man is able to carry so steady an hand in any Religious per­formance, as to observe all those Condi­tions, that are absolutely necessary to answer the full Measures of the Law? No, this is such a pitch of Acting as the present strengths of Nature must not pre­tend to. And if not, how can an Acti­on, short of complete Morality, set up for Meritorious?

[Page 33]The Papists; we know, in their di­sputes upon this subject, distinguish of merit into that which is de Condigno, which merits a Reward upon Terms of Iustice, and by Reason of the inherent Worth and Value of the Work done; and that on the other side to be de Congruo, which, though it cannot claim a Reward upon those Terms, and and from the Precise Worth, and Value of the Work it self, yet is such, that God would not act sutably, and congruously, to the Equity and Goodness of his Nature, if He should not reward it. These two sorts of Merit, I say, they hold, but are not yet agreed, which of the two they should state the Merit of their good works upon. For some boldly assert, that they merit the former way, to wit, by their own inherent worth and value; And some, that they merit only the latter way, that is, by being such, as the Equity and Good­ness of God cannot but Reward; And lastly, Others, (as particularly Bellarmine) hold that they merit both ways: to wit, partly by Condignity, and partly by Con­gruity.

[Page 34]In Answer to which without disput­ing any thing against their Merit of Con­dignity (since it more than sufficiently confutes it self) I utterly deny the whole foundation of their Merit de Con­gruo, as to any Obligation on God's Part, to reward our Religious Services upon the score of Equity; since upon that ac­count God can be under no Obligation to do any thing: For as much as ther [...] is no such thing, as Equity in God, di­stinct from his Iustice and Mercy; and the Exercise of his mercy must on all hands needs be granted to be free; how much soever that of his Iustice may, by some, be thought otherwise.

Amongst Men, I confess, there is such an Obligation, as that of Equity; and the reason is, because Men stand obliged by a Superior Law to exercise mercy, as well as Iustice; which God does not: and therefore though there may be such a thing as a Meritum de Congruo between man and man, yet between God and man, (since God is under no Obligation to shew mercy, where His own Word has not [Page 35] first obliged Him) no such Merit can take place.

But besides, This is not the point, Whether or no it be Congruous to the Good­ness of God, for Him to reward such or such Actions? For there may be many Thou­sands of Things and Actions very Congruous for God to do, which yet, by his Nature, He is not obliged to do, nor ever will do. So [...]hat the bare Congruity of any Thing, or Action to the Divine Nature lays no ob­ligation upon God to do it at all. But the point lies here; to wit, whether it be so Congruous to God to reward the Obedi­ence, and good Actions of men, that it is incon­gruous to his Nature not to do it: and this I ut­terly deny. For if it were Incongruous to his Nature not to reward them, it would be necessary for him to reward them; and then indeed Merit must upon Equal ne­cessity take Place. But if God be not bound to reward every Act, which it may be suitable or Congruous for him to reward (as we have shewn that he is not) then Me­ritum de Congruo, is but Merit equivocal­ly so called; and the forementioned [Page 36] Division of Merit is not a Division of a Genus into Two several Species, but only a Di­stribution of an Equivocal Term into its se­veral Significations; and Consequently to give the Name of Merit with respect to God, to that which is so only de Con­gruo, is a meer Trif [...]ing about Words, without any regard had to the sence of them. Nor let any one here Object the frequent use of the Terms mereri and me [...]ritum by the Fathers and other Ancient Church-Writers; for they use them not in a Sence importing Claim upon the score of strict Iustice, but only as they signify the Actual obtainment of any thing from God, upon the Stock of Free-Pro­mise, by Coming up to the Conditions of it: which by no means reaches that sence of the word which we have been hitherto disputing against. In short therefore the Question stands thus: Does this Meritum do Congruo, from the Nature of the Thing it self, oblige God to reward it, or does it not? If it does, then I am sure that Merit of Condignity does the same, and can do no more; and so the Distinction be­tween [Page 37] them is but Verbal, and superflu­ous. But if, on the other hand, it does not oblige God, then, I affirm, that it is not so much as Merit; for where there is no Obligation on one side, there can be no Merit on the other. To which we may add this further consideration, that the asserting of such a Merit of Congruity, is altogether as Arrogant, as to assert that of Condignity; forasmuch as it e­qually binds God, and brings him under as great a necessity of Rewarding, as the other can; and that not by Reason of his own Free-Word, and Promise oblig­ing him to it, (of which more anon) but because of a certain Worth, and Va­lue inherent in the Work it self; which makes it incongruous, and consequently Impossible, for God not to reward it; Since it must needs be impossible for him to do any thing Incongruous to himself, or to a­ny of his Attributes.

From all which it follows, That the Third Condition required to make an Action meritorious, is here failing also. Which is, That the Excellency of the Work be [Page 38] commensurate to the Value of the Reward. And so I am come at length to the

Fourth and Last Condition, or Ingredient of merit. And that is, That he who does a Work, whereby he would merit of another, do it solely by his own strength, and not by the strength or Power of him, from whom he is to merit. The Reason of which is, Because otherwise the Work would not be entire­ly a mans own ▪ And where there is no Pro­perty, there can be no Exchange; All Exchange being the Alienation of one Property or Title for another. And I have all along shewn, that the Nature of Merit is founded in Commutation.

But now, how great an Hand, or ra­ther What a Total Influence God has in all our Actions, that known Maxim jointly received both by Heathens and Christians, sufficiently demonstrates: namely, That in him we live, and move, and have our Being. And so intimately and inseparably does this Influence joyn it self with all the motions of the Crea­ture, that it puzzles the Deepest and most Acute Philosophers to distinguish [Page 39] between the Actions of second Causes, and the Concurrence of the first, so as to rescue them from a downright Identity. Accordingly in Philip. 2.13. the A­postle tells us, That it is God who worketh in us not only to do, but also to will according to his good Pleasure. And if in every good Inclination, as well as Action, God be the Worker, we must needs be the Recipient Subjects of what is wrought: and to be Recipient certainly is not meri­torious.

In all the Actions of Men, though we naturally fix our Eye only upon some Visible Agent; yet still there is a secret Invisible Spring which is the first mover of, and conveys an Activity to every Power and Faculty both of Soul and Bo­dy, though it be discerned by neither. Upon which account it is, that St. Au­stin says, That in all that God does for us, He only Crowns His own Works in us; the same Hand still enabling us to do, which shall hereafter reward us for what we have done. And if, according to these Terms, and those Words also of the [Page 40] Spouse to the same purpose, Cantic. 1.4. Draw me, and I will follow Thee; our Coming to God be from nothing else, but from His Drawing us to Himself, how can we merit of Him by our following Him, or Coming to Him? For can any one oblige [...] me by a Present bought with my own Money? or by giving me that which I first gave Him? And yet the Case here is much the same. For as apt as we are to flatter our selves, and to Think, and speak big upon this subject, yet in Truth by all that we do or can do, we do but return God something of His own. Much like the Rivers, which come rolling with a mighty noise, and po [...] themselves in­to the Sea, and yet as High as they swell, and as loud as they Roar, they only restore the Sea her own Waters; That which flows into her in one Place, having been first Drawn from her in ano­ther. In a Word, can the Earth repay the Heavens for their Influences, and the Clouds for that Verdure, and Fertility which they bestow upon it? or can Dirt, and Dunghils requite the Sun and the [Page 41] Light for shining upon them? No cer­tainly; and yet what poor shadows, and faint Representations are these of that Infinitely Greater Inability, even of the Noblest of God's Creatures to present Him with any Thing, which they were not first Beholden to Him for. It is Clear therefore, That since Man, in all his Duties and Services, never had any Thing of his own to set up with, but has Traf­ficked all along upon a Borrowed stock, the fourth and last Condition required to make his Performances meritorious utterly fails him.

And thus I have distinctly gone over the several Conditions of Merit. As First, That the Meritorious Act be not Due. Secondly, That it really add to, and better the Condition of Him from whom it merits. Thirdly, That there be a Parity of Value between the Work and the Reward. And Fourthly and Lastly, That it be done by the sole strength of him who merits, and not by the Help and Strength of Him, from Whom he merits. These four, I say, are the Essential Ingredients, and In­dispensable [Page 42] Conditions of Merit. And yet, not one of them all agrees to the very best of Mans Actions, with reference to Almighty God. Nevertheless, in de­spight of all these Deplorable Impoten­ces we see what a Towring Principle of Pride works in the hearts of Men, and how mightily it makes them affect to be their own Saviours, and even while they live upon God, to Depend upon themselves▪ To be Poor and Proud being the truest Character of Man ever since the Pride of our first Parents threw us into this for­lorn Condition. And thus I have fi­nished the second and main Particular proposed from the word [...], and Expressed in them; Namely, That it is Impossible for men by their best services to merit of God [...] or be Profitable to Him. I proceed now to the

Third Particular, which exhibits to us something by Way of Inference from the Two former; to wit, That this Perswasion of Man's being able to merit of God, is the source, and foundation of Two of the Great­est Corruptions of Religion; that have infested [Page 43] the Christian Church; and those are Pela­gianism and Popery. And,

First, For Pelagianism. It chiefly springs from, and is resolvable into this one Point, namely; That a Man contri­butes something of his own, which he had not from God, towards his own Salvation: and that not a bare something only, but such a something also, as is the Principal and most Effectual Cause of his Salvation. For as much as that which he receives from God, (according to Pelagius) is only a Power to Will and to Do; Which a man may very well have, and carry to Hell with him, as those who go to Hell, no doubt, do. But that which obtains Hea­ven, and actually saves a Man, is the Right use of that Power, and the free De­termination of His Will; which (as the same Pelagius teaches) a Man has Wholly from himself, and accordingly may wholly thank Himself for. So that in answer to that Question of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 4.7. Quis te discrevit? Who made Thee to differ from Another? and that as to the grand Discrimination of Saint [Page 44] and Reprobate? The Pelagian must reply, if he will speak pertinently and consist­ently with himself; Why; I made my self to differ, by using the Powers, which God gave me, as I should do; which my Neighbour did not; and for that Rea­son I go to Heaven, and he to Hell; and as he can blame none but himself for the One, [...]o I am beholden to None but my self for the Other. This, I say, is the main of the Pelagian Divinity, though much more compendiously delivered in that known but lewd Aphorism of theirs. A Deo habemus quòd sumus Homines, à no­bis autem ipsis quod sumus Iusti. To which we may add another of their Princi­pl [...], to wit, That if a man does all that Naturally he can do (still understanding hereby the Present State of Nature) God is bound in Iustice to supply, whatso­ever more shall be Necessary to his Salvation. Which Premisses if they do not directly, and unavoidably infer in Man a Power of meriting of God, the World is yet to seek, what the Nature and Notion of Me­rit is. Accordingly, both Gelasius, and St. [Page 45] Austin, in setting down the Points wherein the Catholick Church differed from the Pelagians, assign this for one of the chief, That the Pelagians held Gra­tiam Dei secundùm Hominum merita conferri. And, the Truth is, upon their Princi­ples a man may even merit the Incarnation of Christ: For if there be no saving Grace without it, and a Man may do that which [...]hall oblige God in Iustice to vouchsafe him such Grace, (as with no small self-contradiction these Men use to speak) then let them Qualify and Soften the matter with what Words they Please, I affirm, that upon these Terms, a Man really merits his Salvation, and by Conse­quence all that is, or can be necessary thereunto.

In the mean time, throughout all this Pelagian Scheme, we have not so much as one Word of Mans Natural Impotency to Spiritual Things, (though inculcated, and wrote in both Testaments with a Sun-beam) nor consequently of the Ne­cessity of some Powerful, Divine Energy to Bend, Encline, and effectually Draw [Page 46] Mans Will, to such Objects, as it Natu­rally resists, and is averse to: Not a Word, I say, of this, or any Thing like it; (for those Men used to explode, and deny it all; as their Modern Off-spring amongst us also do:) And yet this passed for sound, and good Divinity in the Church in St. Austin's time; and within less th [...] an hundred years since, in our Church too: till Pelagianism, and Soc [...] ­nianism, Deism, Tritheism, Atheism, and a Spirit of Innovation, the Root of all, and Worse than all, broke in upon us, and by false Schemes of Models coun­tenanced and encouraged, have given quite a new face to Things: though a new face is certainly the worst and most unbecoming that can be set upon an old Religion. But

Secondly, To proceed to another sort of men famous for corrupting Christiani­ty more ways than one; to wit, those of the Church of Rome. We shall find, that this Doctrine of Mans being able to merit of God is one of the Chief Foundations of Po­pery also. Even the Great Diana, which [Page 47] some of the most Experienced Craftsmen in the World do with so much Zeal Sacrifice to, and make shrines for; and, by so doing, Get their living, and that a very plenty­ful, and Splendid One too; As knowing full well, that without it the Grandeur of their Church (which is all their Re­ligion) would quickly fall to the Ground. For if there be no merit of good Works, then no Supererogation, and if no Super­erogation no Indulgences, and if no Indul­gences then it is to be feared, that the Silversmiths Trade will run low, and the Credit of the Pontifical Bank begin to fail. So that the very marrow, the life, and Spirit of Popery lies in a stiff adherence to this Doctrine: The Grand Question still insisted upon by these Merchants being Quid dabitis, and the great Commodity set to sale by them being merit. For can any one think that the Pope, and his Car­dinals, and the rest of their Ecclesiastical Grandees, care a Rush whether the Will of Man be free, or No, (as the Jesuits state the Freedom of it on the one side, and Dominicans and Jansenists on the other) [Page 48] or that they at all concern themselves about Iustification and Free Grace, but on­ly as the Artificial stating of such Points may sometimes serve them in their Spi­ritual Traffick, and now, and then help them to Turn the Penny. No; they Va­lue not their Schools any further, than they furnish their Markets; nor regard any Gospel but that of Cardinal Palavi [...]cini; which professedly owns it for the main design of Christianity, to make Men as Rich, as Great, and as Happy as they can be in this World. And the Grand Instrument to compass all this by is the Doctrine of Merit. For how else could it be, That so many in that Com­munion should be able to satisfy them­selves in doing so much less, than they know they are required to do, for the saving of their Souls, but that they are taught to believe, that there are some a­gain in the World who do a great deal more than they are bound to do, and so may ve­ry well keep their Neighbours lamp from go­ing out, by having oyl enough both to sup­ply their own, and a comfortable Over­plus [Page 49] besides, to lend, or (which is much better) to Sell, in such a Case. In a Word, take away the Foundation, and the House must fall; and, in like manner, beat down Merit, and down goes Popery too. And so at length (that I may not trespass upon your Patience too much) I descend to the

Fourth and Last Particular, proposed at [...]st from the Words. Which was to re­move an Objection, naturally apt to issue [...]om the Foregoing Particulars. The Ob­jection is obvious, and the Answer to it needs not be long. It proceeds thus.

If the Doctrine hitherto advanced be True, can there be a Greater discourage­ment to Men in their Christian course, than to consider, that all their Obedi­ence, all their Duties and Choicest per­formances are Nothing Worth, in the sight of God? and that they themselves, af­ter they have done their Best, their Vt­most, and their very All in His service, are still, for all that, Vseless and Vnpro­fitable, and such as can Plead no Recom­pence at all at His hands? This You [Page 50] will say is very hard; but to it I An­swer.

First, That it neither ought, nor uses to be any Discouragement to a Begger ( [...]s we all are in respect of Almighty God) to continue asking an Alms, and doing all that he can to obtain it, though he knows he can do Nothing to Claim it But

Secondly, I deny, That our Disavo [...]ing this Doctrine of Merit, cuts us [...] from all Plea to a Recompence for our Ch [...] ­stian Obedience at the hands of God. It cuts us off indeed from all Plea to it upon the score of Condignity and strict Iustice: But then should we not on the other side consider, whether God's Iustice be the only Thing that can oblige Him in Hi [...] transactings with Men? For does not H [...] Veracity, and His Promise oblige Him a [...] much as His Iustice can? And has H [...] not positively promised to reward our sin­cere Obedience? Which Promise though His meer Grace and Goodness induced Him to make, yet His Essential Truth. s [...]and [...] obliged [...] see performed. For [Page 51] though some have ventur'd so far as to declare God under no obligation to In­flict the Eternal Torments of Hell (how peremptorily soever threatned by Him) upon Men dying in their sins; Yet I sup­pose, none will be so hardy, or rather shameless, as to affirm it free for God, to perform, or not perform His promise; The Obligation of which being so Abso­ [...]ute, and Vnalterable, I do here further affirm, that upon the Truest, and most [...]sured Principles of Practical Reason there is as strong, and as enforcing a Motive from the Immutable Truth of God's promise to raise Men to the Highest, and most Heroick Acts of a Christian Life, as if every such single Act could by its own Intrinsick Worth Merit a Glorious Eternity. For to speak the Real Truth, and Nature of things, that which excites endeavour, and sets Obe­dience on Work is not properly a Belief, or perswasion of the Merit of our Works, but the Assurance of our Reward. And can we have a greater assurance of this, than that Truth it self, which cannot break its [Page 52] Word, has promised it? For the most High, and Holy One (as we have shewn, and may with Reverence speak,) has pawned His Word, His Name, and His Honour to reward the stedfast, finally Persevering Obedience of Every one within the Covenant of Grace, notwith­stand its Legal Imperfection.

And therefore, though we have al [...] the Reason in the World to blush at th [...] Worthless Emptiness of our Best Duties, and to be ashamed of the poorness, and shortness of our most Complete Actions, and, in a Word, to think as meanly of them and of our selves for them, as God Himself does, Yet still let us build both our Practice; and our Comfort upon this One Conclusion, as upon a Rock; That, [...] though after we have done All, We are still Vnprofitable Servants, yet because We have done All, God has engaged Himself to be a Gracious Master.

To whom therefore be rendred, and ascri­bed, as is most due, all Praise, Might, Majesty, and Dominion▪ both Now, and for Evermore. Amen.

A SERMON Preached at CHRIST-CHURCH in OXFORD Before the University, Octob. 29. 1693.


Take heed therefore, that the Light which is in Thee be not Darkness.

AS Light is certainly one of the most glorious, and useful Creatures that ever issued from the Wisdom, and Power of the Great Creator of the World; so were the Eye of the Soul as little weakened by the Fall, as the Eye of the Body, no doubt the Light within us would appear as much more Glorious than the Light without us, as the Spiritual, Intellectual Part of the Creation exceeds the Glories of the Sensible, and Corporeal. As to the Nature of which Light, to give some Account of it, before I proceed fur­ther, and that without entring into those Various Notions of it, which some have amused the World with; It is, in, short, That which Philosophers in [Page 56] their discourses about the Mind of Man, and the first Origins of Know­ledge, do so much magnify by the Name of Recta Ratio; that great source and Principle, (as they would have it) both of their Philosophy, and Religion.

For the better explication of which I must, according to a Common but neces­sary distinction, (and elsewhere made use of by me) observe that this Rec [...] Ratio may be taken in a double sence.

First, For those Maxims, or General Truths; which, being collected by the observations of Reason, and formed thereby into certain P [...]ositions, are the Grounds and Principles, by which Men govern both their Discourse, and Practice, according to the Nature of the objects that come before them: or,

Secondly ▪ It may be taken for tha [...] Fa­culty, or Power of the Soul, by which it forms these Maxims, or Propositions, and afterwards discourses upon them. And so no doubt it is to be taken here.

For Propositions themselves, as to the Truth of them, are neither Capable of [Page 57] Increase or Decrease, Improvement or Diminution; but the Powers and Facul­ties of the Soul are Capable of Both; that [...] of becoming stronger or weaker, ac­ [...]ording as Men shall Use, or Abuse, Cul­tivate, or Neglect them. Upon which Account this Recta Ratio can be nothing [...]lse, but that Intellectual Power or Fa­ [...]ulty of the Soul, which every one is [...]urally endowed with.

To which Faculty, as there belong Two Grand, and Principal Offices; to [...] One to Inform, or Direct, and the [...]ther to Command or Oblige, so the [...] Faculty sustains a different [...], [...]r Denomination according to each of [...]hem. For as it serves to Inform the Soul, [...]y, discovering Things to it, so it is cal­led the Light of Nature; but as it obliges the Soul to do this, or forbear that (which it does, as it is actuated, or informed with those forementioned general Truths or Maxims,) so it is called the Law of Nature: which two offices, though be­longing to one and the same Faculty, are very different. For the former of [Page 58] them, to wit, i [...] Enlightning or Inform­ing Quality, extends much further than it [...] obliging [...] Vertue does; even to all Things Knowable by the mind of Man [...] but the latter only to such Things, [...] are matter of Practice, and so fall unde [...] a Moral Consideration. Besides, that this obliging Quality, must needs also pre [...]suppose the Enlightning Quality as Essenti [...] ­ally going before it. For as no Law [...] bind, till it be Notified or Promulged so neither can this faculty of the So [...] oblige a Man, till it has first Informed [...] ▪ By which we see, that the Light of N [...] ­ture, according [...]o the Essential Order [...] Things, precedes the Law of Nature, an [...] Consequently in strictness of Speech ought to be distinguished from it; how much soever some have thought fit [...] Confound them. And I doubt not, [...] it is This, which the Text here Princi­pally intends by the Light within us.

Nevertheless, since the word Conscience takes in both, and signifies as well a Light to Inform, as it imports and carrie [...] with [...] also a Law to oblige us, I shall In­differently [Page 59] express this Light by the Name of Conscience (as a Term equiva­lent to it) in all the following Particu­ [...]s; but still this shall be, with respect [...] its Informing, rather than to its obliging office. For as much as it is the former of these only which is the proper effect [...] light, and not the latter. For though [...]nscience be both a Light, and (as it [...]mmands under God) a Law too; yet [...] it is a Light, it is not formally a Law. [...]or if it were, then whatsover it dis­ [...]vered to us, it would also oblige us [...]. But this is not so; since it both may, [...]d does discover to us the indifferent [...]ture o [...] many Things, and Actions [...]thout obliging us either to the Pr [...] ­ctice or Forbearance of them; which one [...]onsideration alone is sufficient to set the difference between the enlightning, and the obliging office of Conscience, clear be­yond all Objection.

And thus much I thought fit to pre­mise, concerning the Nature of the Light here spoken of by our Saviour, and In­tended for the subject of the present dis­course. [Page 60] Which Light as it is certainly the great and Sovereign Gift of God to Mankind for the Guidance and Govern­ment of their Actions, in all that concern [...] them, with reference to this Life, [...] a better; so it is also as certain, that it is Capable of being turned into Darkness ▪ and thereby made wholly useless for so Nobl [...] Purpose.

For so much the Words of the T [...] Import; nor do they Import only▪ bare possibility, that it may be so, but a [...] so a very high Probability, that, wit [...] an extraordinary Prevention, it will b [...] so. For as m [...]ch as all Warning, in th [...] very Reason of the Thing, and accord­ing to the Natur [...]l force of such expres­sions, implies in it these two Thing [...] First, Some very Considerable Evil, or mischief Warned against; and Secondly ▪ An Equal danger of falling into i [...] without which all Warning would be not only superfluous, but Ridiculous.

Now both these, in the Present Case, are very great; as will appear by a distin [...]t consideration of each of them. And▪

[Page 61] First, For the Evil which we are war­ned or caution'd against; to wit, the Tur­ning of this light within us into Darkness. [...] Evil so unconceivable great, and comprehensive, that, to give an Ac­count of the Utmost extent of it, would pose our Thoughts, as well as Nonplus our Expressions. But yet to help our Apprehensions of it the best we [...], let [...]s but consider with our selves those In­tolerable Evils which Bodily Blindness, Deafness, Stupefaction, and an utter Depri­vat [...]on of all sense must unavoidably subject the outward Man to. For what is one, in such a Condition, able to do? And what is He not lyable to suffer? and yet Doing and Suffering, upon the matter, Comprehend all that concerns a Man in this World. If such an ones Enemy seeks his Life (as, He may be sure, that some or other will, and Possibly such an One as he takes for his Truest Friend) in this forlorn Case, he can neither see nor hear, nor perceive his Approach, till He finds Himself actually in his Mur­thering Hands. He can neither encoun­ter, [Page 62] nor e [...]cape Him, neither in his own [...]fence give, nor ward off a Blow: [...] whatsoever blinds a Man, ipso facto disarms Him; so that being thus [...] rest both of his Sight and of all his Sense [...] besides, what such an one can be fit for, unless it be to set up for Prophecy, or be­lieve T [...]substantiation, I cannot Imagine▪

Th [...], I say, are some of those F [...]tal mischiefs, which corporal Blindne [...] and Insensibility expose the Body to▪ and are not those of a Spiritual Blindne [...] ▪ Unexpressibly greater? For must [...] Man, Labouring under this, be utterly [...] at a loss, how to distinguish betwe [...] the two grand Governing concerns [...] [...]fe, Good and Evil? and may not th [...] Ignorance of these cost us as dear as the Knowledge of them did our first Parents [...] Life and Death, Vice and Vertue com [...] alike to such an one; As all things are o [...] the same Colour to Him who cannot se [...] His whole Soul is nothing but Night, and Confusion, Darkness, and Indistinction▪ He can neither see the way to Happines [...] ▪ and how then should He choose it? No [...] [Page 63] yet to destruction, and how then should He avoid it? For where there is no sense of things, there can be no distinction, and [...]here there is no distinction there can be no Choice.

A Man destitute of this directing and distinguishing Light within Him, is and must be at the Mercy of every thing [...] Nature, that would impose or serve [...] Turn upon Him. So that whatso­ever the Devil will have Him do, that [...] must do. Whithersoever any Ex­ [...]tant desire or design hurries Him, thither He must go. Whatsoever any base Interest shall prescribe, that he must set his hand to, whether His Heart goes along with it, or no. If he be a Statesman He must be as willing to sell, as the Enemy of his Country can be to bay. If a Churchman, he must be ready to surrender, and give up the Church, and make a Sacrifice of the Altar it self though He lives by it; and (in a Word) take that for a full discharge from all his Subscriptions, and obligations to it, to do as He is bid. Which being the Case [Page 64] of such as steer by a false Light, cer­tainly no slave in the Gallies is or can be in such a Wretched Condition of sla­very as a Man thus abandoned by Con­science, and bereft of all Inward Prin­ciples, that should either Guide or Con­troul Him in the Course of his Conver­sation. So that we see here the Tran­scendent Greatness of the Evil which [...] stand caution'd against. But then,

Secondly, If it were an Evil that sel­dom happened, that very hardly and ra [...]ly befell a Man, this might in a [...] measure supersede the strictness of t [...] Caution, But, on the contrary, we sha [...] find, that as great as the Evil is, which we are to fence against (and that is [...] great as the Capacities of an Immortal Soul) the Greatness of the danger is still Commensurate. For it is a Case that usually happens, It is a mischief as frequent in the Event, as it is, or can be Fatal in the Effect. It is, as in a Com­mon Plague, in which, the Infection [...] as hard to be escaped, as the distemp [...] to be Cured: For that which brings this [Page 65] Darkness upon the Soul is Sin. And as the state of Nature now is, the Soul is not so Close United to the Body, as Sin is to the Soul; indeed so close is the Uni­on between them, that one would even think, the Soul it self (as much a Spirit as it is) were the matter, and Sin the form in our present Constitution. In a word, there is a set Combination of all without a Man, and all within Him, of all above ground, and all under it, (if Hell be so) first to put out his Eyes, and then to draw or drive Him headlong in­to Perdition. From all which, I sup­pose, we must needs see Reason more than sufficient for this Admonition of our Saviour, Take heed, that the Light, which is in Thee be not Darkness. An Admonition founded upon no less a Con­cern, than all that a Man can save, and all that He can lose to Eternity. And thus having shewn both the Vastness of the Evil it self, and the extreme dan­ger we are in of it; Since no Man can be at all the Wiser, or the Safer barely for knowing his danger without a Vigo­rous [Page 66] application to prevent it; and since the surest and most Rational preventive of it, is to know by what Arts, and me­thods, our Enemy will encounter us and by which He is most likely to pre­vail over us, we will enquire into, and Consider those Ways, and Means by which He commonly attempts, and too frequently effects this so dismal a Change upon us, as to strip us even of the poor Remains of our fallen Nature, by tur­ning the last surviving spark of it, this Light within us, into Darkness.

For this must be acknowledged, that no Man Living, in respect of Consci­ence, is Born-Blind, but makes himself so. None can strike out the Eye of hi [...] Conscience but himself: For nothing can put it out, but that which sins it out. And upon this Account, it must be con­fessed, That a Man may Love his Sin so Enormously much, as by a very ill application of the Apostle's Expression, even to pluck out his own Eyes and give them to it; as indeed every obstinate Sinner in the World does.

[Page 67]Our Present business therefore shall be (and that as a Completion of what I discoursed formerly upon Conscience in this Place) to shew How and by what Courses, This Divine Light, this Candle of the Lord, comes first to burn faint and dim, and so by a gradual de­cay fainter and fainter, till at Length by a total Extinction it quite sinks to nothing, and so dies away. And this I shall do. First, in General, and Se­condly, in Particular.

And first in General, I shall lay down these Two Observations.

First, That whatsoever defiles the Conscience, in the same Degree also darkens it.

As to the Philosophy of which, How and by what way this is done, it is hard to conceive, and much harder to ex­plain. Our great unacquaintance with the Nature of Spiritual, Immaterial Be­ings leaving us wholly in the Dark as to any Explicite knowledge, either How they work, or how they are worked upon. So that in discoursing of these things we are [Page 68] forced to take up with Analogy, and Al­lusion, instead of Evidence and Demon­stration. Nevertheless the Thing it self is Certain, be the manner of effecting it never so unaccountable.

Yet thus much we find, that there is something in Sin Analogous to Blackness, as Innocence is frequently in Scripture, Expressed, and set forth to us by White [...]ness. All Guilt blackens, (or does some [...]thing Equivalent to the blackening of) the Soul; as where Pitch cleaves to any­thing, it is sure to leave upon it both its foulness, and its Blackness together: and then we know, that Blackness and dark­ness are inseparable.

Some of the Ablest of the Peripatetick School (not without Countenance from Aristotle Himself, in the fifth Chapter of his Third Book, [...]) hold, that besides the Native, inherent light of the Intellect (which is essential to it, as it is a Faculty made to apprehend, and take in its object after a Spiritual way) there is also another light, in the Nature of a Medium, beaming in upon it by a Con­tinual [Page 69] Efflux and Emanation from the great Fountain of Light, and irradiating this intellectual Faculty, together with the Species or Representations of Things imprinted thereupon. According to which Doctrine it seems with great Rea­son to follow, That whatsoever inter­poses between the Mind and those Irra­diations from God (as all Sin more or less certainly does) must needs hinder the Entrance and Admission of them in­to the Mind: and then Darkness must by necessary Consequence ensue, as be­ing nothing else but the Absence, or Pri­vation of Light.

For the further Illustration of which Notion, we may observe, that the Vn­derstanding, the Mind, or Conscience of Man (which we shall here take for the same Thing) seem to bear much the same Respect to God, which Glass or Chrystal does to the Light or Sun: which appears indeed to the Eye, a Bright, and a shi­ning Thing; Nevertheless this shining is not so much from any essential light or brightness existing in the Glass it self [Page 70] (supposing that there be any such in it) as it is from the Porousness of its Body, rendring it Diaphanous, and thereby fit to receive and transmit those Rays of Light, which falling upon it, and pas­sing through it, represent it to common view as a Luminous Body. But now let any Thing of dirt or foulness sully this Glass ▪ and so much of the shine or brightness of it is presently gone, because so much of the Light is thereby hindred from en­tring into it, and making its way through it. But if, besides all this, you should also draw some black Colour, or deep die upon it, either by paint or otherwise; Why, then no brightness could be seen in it at all, but the Light being hereby ut­terly shut out, the Glass or Chrystal would shine or glister no more than a piece of Wood, or a Clod of Earth.

In like manner every Act of Sin, eve­ry degree of guilt, does in its proportion cast a kind of Soil or Foulness upon the intellectual part of the Soul, and there­by intercepts those Blessed Irradiations, which the Divine Nature is continually [Page 71] darting in upon it. Nor is this all, but there are also some certain sorts, and degrees of guilt, so very black and foul, that they fall like an Huge Thick Blot upon this Faculty; and so sinking into it, and settling within it, utterly ex­clude all those Illuminations, which would otherwise flow into it, and rest upon it from the great Father of Lights; and this not from any failure, or Defect in the Illumination it self, but from the Indisposition of the object, which being thus blacken'd, can neither let in, nor transmit the Beams, that are cast upon it.

I will not affirm this to be a perfect exemplification of the Case before us, but I am sure it is a lively Illustration of it, and may be of no small use to such as shall throughly consider it. But however (as I shew'd before,) the Thing it self is certain and unquestionable, Guilt and Darkness being always so United, that you shall never find Darkness men­tioned in Scripture in a Moral sence, but you shall also find it derived from Sin, [Page 72] as its direct Cause, and Joined with it as its Constant Companion: For, by a mutual Production, Sin both causes Darkness and is caused by it. Let this therefore be our first General observation; That whatsoever pollutes or fouls the Conscience, in the same degree also darkens it.

Secondly, Our other General observa­tion shall be this; That whatsoever puts a Biass upon the Iudging faculty of Conscience weakens, and, by consequence, darkens the Light of it. A clear and a right Judging Conscience must be always Impartial; and that it may be so, it must be perfectly Indifferent: That is to say, it must be free and disencumbred from every thing, which may in the least sway, or encline it one way, rather than another, beyond what the sole, and meer Evidence of Things would naturally lead it to. In a word, it must judge all by Evidence, and nothing by Inclination.

And this our Blessed Saviour with admirable Emphasis and Significance of Expression calls the singleness of the Eye, in the Verse immediately before the [Page 73] Text. If thy Eye (says He) be single, Thy whole Body shall be full of Light. That is, nothing Extraneous must cleave [...]o, or joyn with the Eye in the Act of [...]eeing, but it must be left solely, and entirely to it self, and its bare object, as Naked as Truth, as Pure, simple, and [...]nmixed as sincerity. Otherwise the [...]hole Operation of it unavoidably pas­ [...]s into Cheat, Fallacy, and Delusion. As, to make the Case yet more particu­ [...]ar; if you put a Muffler before the Eye, it cannot see; if any Mote or Dust falls into it, it can hardly see; and if [...]here be any soreness or pain in it, it [...]nuns the Light and will not see. And [...]ll this by a very easy, but yet certain, [...]nd true Analogy, is applicable to the Eye of the Soul, the Conscience; and the Instance is verifiable upon it, in every one of the Alledged Particu­lars.

In short, whatsoever bends, or puts a Biass upon the Judging Faculty of Con­science, represents Things to it by a false Light; and whatsoever does so, [Page 74] causes in it a false and erroneous Judg­ment of Things. And all Error or Falshood is, in the very Nature of it, a Real Intellectual Darkness; and Con­sequently must diffuse a Darkness upon the mind, so far as it is affected and possessed with it. And thus much for our Second General Observation.

[...]om whence we shall now pass [...] Particulars. In the assigning and stating [...] which, as I shew'd before, that Sin in Ge­neral was the General Cause of this Dark­ness, so the Particular Causes of it mu [...] be fetched from the Particular kinds and degrees of Sin.

Now Sin may be Considered thre [...] ways.

  • First, In the Act.
  • Secondly, In the Habit or Custom.
  • Thirdly, In the Affection, or Pro­ductive Principle of it.

In all which we shall shew what a Darkening and Malign Influence Sin has upon the Conscience or Mind of Man; and consequently with what Extreme Care, and severe Vigilance the Consci­ence [Page 75] ought to be guarded, and watched over, in all these Respects. And,

First, For Sin considered in the single Act. Every particular Commis­sion of any great Sin, such as are, for In­stance, the Sins of Perjury, of Murder, of Vncleanness, of Drunkenness, of Theft; and, above all, of Vndutyfulness to Pa­rents, (which being a Thing so much against Nature, nothing in Nature can be said for it:) These I say, and the like Capital, Soul-Wasting Sins, e­ven in any one single Act or Commission of them, have a strangely efficacious Power to cloud and darken the Consci­ence. Some of the School-Men are of Opinion, that one single Act, if great, and extraordinary, has in it, the force of many ordinary and lesser Acts, and so may produce a Habit. Which opinion how true soever it may be of an Act of Demonstration producing a Habit of science in the Intellect, yet I cannot think it true of any Moral Habits whatsoever. For it is not to be thought, that St. Pe­ter's denying and forswearing his Lord, [Page 76] left behind it a Habit of Unbelief; nor that David's Murder and Adultery ren­dred Him habitually Murderous and A­dulterous. For no doubt it was not so.

But this I say. That every single Gross Act of Sin, is much the same thing to the Conscience, that a great Blow or Fall is to the head, it stuns, and bereaves it of all use of its senses for a time▪ Thus in the two forementioned Sins of David, they so mazed and even stupifye [...] His Conscience, that it lay as it were [...] a Swoon, and void of all Spiritual sen [...] for almost an whole Year. For we do not find, that He came to Himself, or to any true sight or sense of his Horrid guilt, till Nathan the Prophet came and Roused Him up with a Mes­sage from God, nor did Nathan come to Him, till after the Child, begotten in that Adultery, was born. Such a terri­ble Deadness, and Stupefaction did those two Sins bring upon his Soul for so many Months together, during which time, whatsoever Notion of Murder and A­dultery David might have in general; yet, [Page 77] no doubt, he had but very slight, and superficial Thoughts of the heinousness of his own in particular. And what was the Reason of this? Why, his Conscience was cast into a dead sleep, and could not so much as open its Eyes, so as to be able to look either upwards, or inwards. This was his sad and forlorn Estate, notwith­standing that long Course of Piety and Converse with God, which He was now grown old in. For he had been an Early Practiser, and an Eminent Proficient in the ways of God, and was now past the 50th Year of his Age; and yet, we see, that one or two such gross Sins dulled and deadned the spiritual Principle within Him to such a degree, that they left Him for a long time (as it were) dozed and benumbed, blind and insensi­ble; and, no doubt, had not a peculiar Grace from God raised Him up and re­covered Him, he had continued so to his Life's end.

For this is most certain, and worth our best Observation; that whatsoever carries a Man off from God, will in the [Page 78] Natural Course, and tendency of it, car­ry Him still further and further, till at length it leaves Him neither Will nor Power to return. For Repentance is nei­ther the Design, nor Work of meer Na­ture; which immediately after the Com­mission of Sin never puts a Man upon disowning or bewailing it; but upon studying and casting about Him how to palliate and extenuate, and rather than fail, how to plead for and defend it▪ This was the Course, which Adam too [...] upon the first Sin, that ever Man co [...]mitted: And the same Course in the same Case will be taken by all the Son [...] of Adam (if left to themselves) as long as the World stands.

Secondly, The frequent, and repeated Practice of Sin has also a mighty Power in it to obscure and darken the Natural Light of Conscience. Nothing being more certainly True, nor more Univer­sally acknowledged than that Custom of Sinning, takes away the sence of Sin; and we may add, the sight of it too. For though the Darkness consequent upon [Page 79] any One Gross Act of Sin, be, (as we have shew'd) very Great, yet that which is caused by custom of Sinning is much greater and more hardly curable. Particular Acts of Sin do (as it were) cast a mist before the Eye of Conscience, but Customary Sinning brings a kind of film upon it, and it is not an ordinary [...]kill, which can take off that. The for­mer only closes the Eye, but this lat­ter puts it out; as leaving upon the [...]oul a wretched Impotence, either to [...]udge or to do Well; much like the Spots of the Leopard not to be Changed, or the Blackness of an Aethiopian not to be Washed off. For by these very Things the Spirit of God in Ier. 13.23. ex­presses the Iron incincible force of a wicked Custom.

Now the Reason, I conceive, that such a Custom brings such a darkness upon the Mind or Conscience, is this: That a man Naturally designs to please himself in all that He does; and that it is impossible for Him to find any Action really pleasurable, while he Judges it absolutely Vnlawful; [Page 80] since the Sting of this must needs take off the Relish of the other, and it would be an intolerable Torment to any Man's mind, to be always doing, and always condemning himself for what He does. And for this cause, a Man shuts his Eyes, and stops his Ears against all that His Reason would tell Him of the sinfulness of that Practice, which long Custom, and frequency has endeared to Him. So that He becomes studiously, and af­fectedly Ignorant of the Illness of the Course he takes, that He may the mo [...] sensibly Tast the Pleasure of it. And thus, when an Inveterate, Imperious Custom has so over-ruled all a Mans fa­culties, as neither to suffer His Eyes to see, nor his Ears to hear, nor his mind to think of the Evil of what He does; that is, when all the Instruments of Knowledge are forbid to do their office, Ignorance and Obscurity must needs be upon the whole Soul. For when the Windows are stopped up, no Wonder if the whole Room be Dark.

The Truth is, such an Habitual fre­quency [Page 81] of Sinning, does (as it were) Bar and Bolt up the Conscience against the sharpest Reproofs, and the most Con­vincing Instructions; so that when God by the Thunder of his Judgments, and the Voice of His Ministers has been ringing Hell and Vengeance into the Ears of such a Sinner, perhaps, like Felix, He may Tremble a little for the Present, and seem to yield; and fall down before the over-powering Evidence of the Con­viction; but after a while, Custom o­vercoming Conscience, the Man goes his way, and though He is Convinced, and satisfyed what He ought to do, yet He actually does what he uses to do: And all this because through the darkness of his Intellect he Judges the present Pleasure of such a sinful Course, an over-balance to the Evil of it.

For this is certain, That Nature has placed all Humane Choice in such an Essen­tial Dependance upon the Iudgment, that no Man does any Thing, though ne­ver so Vile, Wicked, and Inexcusable, but, all circumstances considered, he Judges [Page 82] it, Pro hìc & nunc, absolutely better for Him to do it, than not to do it. And what a Darkness, and Delusion must Con­science needs be under, while it makes a Man judge that really best for him, which directly tends to, and generally ends in, his utter Ruin and Damnation! Custom is said to be a second Nature, and if by the first we are already so bad, by the second (to be sure) we shall be much worse.

Thirdly, Every Corrupt Passion, or Affection of the Mind, will certainly per­vert the judging, and obscure and dark­en the discerning Power of Conscience. The Affections which the Greeks call [...] and the Latines Affectus Animi, are of much the same use to the Soul, which the Members are of to the Body; ser­ving as the proper Instruments of most of its Actions; and are always attended with a certain Preternatural Motion of the Blood and Spirits peculiar to each Passion, or Affection. And as for the Seat or Foun­tain of them, Philosophers both place them in, and derive them from the Heart. [Page 83] But not to insist upon meer Speculations: The Passions or Affections are (as I may so call them) the mighty Flights and Sallyings out of the Soul upon such ob­jects as come before it; and are gene­rally accompanied with such Vehemence, that the Stoicks reckoned them, in their very Nature and Essence, as so many Ir­regularities, and Deviations from Right Reason, and by no means incident to a wise or good Man.

But though better Philosophy has long since exploded this Opinion, and Chri­stianity, which is the greatest and the best, has taught us, that we may be Angry and yet not Sin. Eph. 4.26. And that Godly Sorrow is neither a Paradox nor a Con­tradiction, 2 Cor. 7.10. and consequently, that in every Passion or Affection there is something purely Natural, which may both be distinguished and divided too from what is sinful and irregular; yet not­withstanding all this, it must be confes­sed, That the Nature of the Passions is such, that they are extreamly prone and apt to pass into Excess, and that when [Page 84] they do so, nothing in the World is a greater hindrance to the Mind or Reason of Man, from making a True, Clear, and Exact Judgment of Things, than the Passions thus wrought up to any Thing of Ferment, or Agitation. It being as Impossible to keep the Iudging Faculty steady in such a Case, as it would be to view a Thing distinctly and perfectly through a Perspective Glass, held by a shaking, Paralytick hand.

When the Affections are once engaged, the Iudgment is always Partial, and Con­cerned. There is a strong Bent, or Byass upon it, it is possessed and gained over, and as it were fee'd, and retained in their Cause, and thereby made utterly unable to carry such an equal regard to the object, as to consider Truth Nakedly, and stripped of all Foreign Respects; and, as such, to make it the Rigid Inflexible Rule, which it is to Iudge by; especially where Duty is the Thing to be Iudged of. For a Man will hardly be brought to Judge Right, and True, when by such a Judgment he is sure to Condemn Himself.

[Page 85]But this being a Point of such high and Practical Importance, I will be yet more particular about it, and show se­verally, in several Corrupt and Vitious Affections, how Impossible it is for a Man to keep his Conscience rightly In­formed, and fit to guide and direct Him in all the Arduous Perplexing Cases of Sin, and Duty, while He is actually un­der the Power of any of them. This I know Men, generally, are not apt to be­lieve, or to think that the flaws or fai­lures of their Morals can at all affect their Intellectuals. But I doubt not but to make it not only Credible, but Undeniable.

Now the Vitious Affections which I shall single, and cull out of those Vast Numbers, which the Heart of Man, that great Store-house of the Devil, abounds with, as some of the Principal, which thus Darken and Debauch the Conscience, shall be these Three.

First, Sensuality. Secondly, Covetous­ness. Thirdly, Ambition.

Of each of which I shall speak parti­cularly: and

[Page 86] First, For Sensuality, or a vehement delight in, and pursuit of Bodily Plea­sures. We may truly say of the Body, with Reference to the Soul, what was said by the Poet of an ill Neighbour. Nemo tam propè tam procul (que)! None so nearly joined in point of Vicinity, and yet so widely distant in point of In­terest and Inclinations.

The Ancient Philosophers generally holding the Soul of Man to be a Spiritual Immaterial substance, could give no Account of the several failures and de­fects in the Operations of it, (which they were sufficiently sensible of) but from its Immersion into, and intimate conjun­ction with matter, called by the Greeks [...]. And accordingly all their complaints, and accusations were still levelled at this [...] as the only cause of all that they found amiss in the whole Frame and Constitution of Mans Nature. In a word, whatsoever was observed by them, either Irregular, or Defective in the Workings of the Mind, was all Charged upon the Body, as its great [Page 87] Clog, and Impediment. As the skilfulest Artist in the World would make but sorry work of it, should he be forced to make use of Tools no way fit for his Purpose.

But whether the fault be in the Spi­ritual, or Corporeal part of our Nature, or rather in Both, certain it is, that no two Things in the World do more rise, and grow upon the Fall of Each other, than the Flesh, and the Spirit. They being like a kind of Balance in the hand of Nature, so that as one mounts up, the other still sinks down; and the high E­state of the Body seldom, or never fails to be the Low, declining Estate of the Soul. Which great contrariety, and discord between them, the Apostle describes, as well as words can do, Galat. 5.7. The Flesh (says He) lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit lusteth against the Flesh, and these two are contrary; like two mighty Princes, whose Territories join, they are always encroaching, and Warring upon one Another. And, as it most commonly falls out, that the Worse Cause has the Best success, so when the Flesh [Page 88] and the Spirit come to a Battle, it is sel­dom but the Flesh comes off Victorious. And therefore the same great Apostle who so constantly exercised Himself to keep a Conscience void of Offence, did as constant­ly and severely exercise Himself to keep under his Body and bring it into subjection, 1 Cor. 9.27. And the same, in all Ages, has been the Judgment, and Practice of all such as have had any Experience in the ways of God, and the true methods of Religion. For all Bodily Pleasure dulls, and weakens the Operations of the Mind, even upon a Natural Account, and much more upon a Spiritual. Now the Pleasures which Chiefly Affect, or rather Bewitch the Body, and by so do­ing become the very Pest, and Poyson of the Nobler and Intellectual Part of Man, are those false, and fallacious Pleasures of Lust and Intemperance:

Of Each of which severally: and

First, For Lust. Nothing does, or can darken the mind, or Conscience of Man more: Nay, it has a peculiar Ef­ficacy this way, and for that cause may [Page 89] justly be ranked amongst the very Powers of Darkness: It being that, which, (as Naturalists observe,) strikes at the pro­per seat of the Understanding the Brain. Something of that Blackness of Darkness: mentioned in the 13th of St. Iude, seem­ing to be of the very Nature, as well as Punishment of this Vice.

Nor does only the Reason of the thing it self, but also the Examples of such as have been possessed with it, demonstrate as much. For had not Sampson (think we) an Intolerable Darkness and Con­fusion upon his understanding, while He ran Roving after every strumpet in that Brutish manner that He did? Was it not the Eye of his Conscience which his Dalilah first put out, and so of a Judge of Israel rendred Himself really a Judg­ment upon them? And when the two Angels (as we read in 19. Gen.) struck, those Monsters, the Men of Sodom, with Blindness, had not their own detestable Lust first stricken them with a greater? Or could Herod have ever Thought Himself obliged by the Religion of an [Page 90] Oath, to have Murdered the Baptist, had not his Lust, and His Herodias Imprisoned and Murdered his Conscience first? For, surely, the Common Light of Nature, could not but Teach Him that no Oath or Vow whatsoever could warrant the greatest Prince upon Earth to take a­way the Life of an Innocent Person. But it seems his besotted Conscience having broken through the seventh Com­mandment, the sixth stood too near it to be safe long: and therefore his two great Casuists, the Devil and his Hero­dias (the worse Devil of the Two) hav­ing allowed Him to lie, and wallow in Adultery so long, easily perswaded Him that the same Salvo might be found out for Murder also. So that it was His Lust obstinately continued in, which thus darken'd, and deluded his Con­science; and the same will, no doubt, darken, and delude, and, in the End, extinguish the Conscience of any Man Breathing, who shall surrender Himself up to it. The Light within him shall grow every day less and less, and at [Page 91] length totally and finally go out, and that in a stink too. So hard, or rather utterly unfeasible is it for Men to be Zealous Votaries of the Blind God, with­out losing their Eyes in his Service, and it is well if their Noses do not follow. From all which it appears, what a Pa­radox it is in Morals, for any one under the Dominion of his lust, to think to have a Right Judgment in Things re­lating to the state of his Soul: And the same, in the

Second Place, holds equally in that other Branch of sensuality, Intemperance; whereupon we find them both Joined together by the Prophet, Hosea 4.11. Whoredom (says He) and Wine take away the Heart; that is, according to the Lan­guage of Holy Writ, a Mans Iudging and Discerning abilities. And therefore, who­soever would preserve these Faculties (especially as to their discernment of Spi­ritual objects) quick, and vigorous, must be sure to keep the upper Region of His Soul clear and serene; which the Fumes of Meat and Drink l [...]xuriously [Page 92] taken in, will never suffer it to be. We know the method, which this high and exact Pattern of Spiritual Prudence, St. Paul, took to keep the great sentinel of His Soul, his Conscience, always vi­gilant, and circumspect. It was by a Constant, and severe Temperance, heighten'd with frequent Watchings and Fastings, as He Himself tells us, 2 Cor. 11.27. In watchings often; in Fastings often, &c. This was the Discipline which kept his senses exercised to a sure and exquisite discrimination of Good, and Evil; and made the Lamp within Him shine always with a Bright, and a Tri­umphant flame.

But Gluttony and all excess either in eating or drinking strangely clouds and dulls the Intellectual Powers; and then, it is not to be expected, that the Con­science should bear up, when the Vnder­standing is drunk down. An Epicure's Practice Naturally disposes a Man to an Epicure's Principles; that is, to an equal looseness, and dissolution in Both: And He, who makes his Belly His Business, [Page 93] will quickly come to have a Conscience of as large a swallow, as his Throat; of which there wants not several scandalous and deplorable Instances. Loads of meat and drink are fit for none but a Beast of Burden to bear; and He is, much the greater Beast of the two, who car­ries his Burden in his Belly, than He who carries it upon his Back. On the contrary Nothing is so great a Friend to the mind of Man, as Abstinence; It strenghens the memory, clears the Appre­hension, and sharpens the Iudgment, and in a word, gives Reason its full scope of Acting; and when Reason has That, it is always a diligent, and faithful Hand-Maid to Conscience. And therefore, where Men look no further than meer Nature, (as many do not) let no Man expect to keep his Gluttony and his Parts, His Drunkenness and his Wit, his Revellings, and his Iudgment, and much less His Conscience together. For neither Grace, nor Nature, will have it so. It is an ut­ter Contradiction to the methods of Both. Who hath Woe? Who hath Sor­row? [Page 94] Who hath Contentions? Who hath Babling? Who hath wounds without Cause? Who hath Redness of Eyes? says Solo­mon, Prov. 23.29. Which Question He Himself presently Answers in the next verse, They who tarry long at the wine, they who seek after mixt wine. So say, I, who has a stupid Intellect, a Broken memory, and a blasted wit, and (which is worse than all) a Blind and a Benighted Conscience, but the Intemperate and Luxurious, the Epicure and the Smell-feast? So Impossible is it for a Man to turn Sott, without making Himself a Blockhead too. I know, this is not al­ways the present effect of these Courses; but, at long run, it will Infallibly be so; and Time, and Luxury together will as certainly change the Inside, as it does the outside of the Best heads whatsoever; and much more of such Heads as are strong for nothing but to bear drink: concerning which, it ever was, and is, and will be a sure observa­tion, that such as are Ablest at the Barrel, are generally Weakest at the Book. And [Page 95] thus much for the first great Darkner of Man's mind, sensuality; and, that, in Both the Branches of it, Lust, and In­temperance.

Secondly, Another Vitious affection, which Clouds and Darkens the Conscience is Covetousness. Concerning which it may truly be affirmed, that of all the Vices incident to Humane Nature, none so pow­erfully and peculiarly Carries the Soul downwards as Covetousness does. It makes it all Earth and Dirt, Burying that Noble Thing which can never Die. So that while the Body is above ground, the Soul is under it; and therefore must needs be in a state of Darkness, while it Converses in the Regions of it.

How mightily this Vice Darkens and Debases the Mind, Scripture-Instan­cer do abundantly shew. When Moses would assign the proper Qualifications of a Judge, (which office certainly calls for the Quickest Apprehension, and the so­lidest Judgment that the Mind of Man is well Capable of) Deut. 16.19. Thou shalt not (says He) take a Gift. But why? [Page 96] He presently adds the Reason. Because a Gift (says He) blinds the Eyes of the wise. And no wonder, for it perverts their will; and then, who so Blind as the Man who resolves not to see? Gold, it seems, being but a very bad help, and Cure of the Eyes in such Cases. In like manner when Samuel would set the Credit of his Integrity clear above all the Aspersions of Envy and Calumny it self, 1 Sam. 12.3. Of whose hands (says He) have I received a Bribe to blind my Eyes therewith? Im­plying thereby, that for a Man to be Gripe-handed and Clear-sighted too was Im­possible. And again Eccl. 7.7. A gift (says the Wiseman) destroyeth the Heart. That is, (as we have shewn already) the Iudging and Discerning Powers of the Soul. By all which, we see, that in the Judgment of some of the wisest, and greatest Men that ever lived, such as Moses, Samuel, Solomon. Himself, Cove­tousness Baffles and Befools the mind, Blinds and Confounds the Reasoning Fa­culty, and that, not only in ordinary Persons, but even in the Ablest, the Wi­sest, [Page 97] and most sagacious. And to give you one Proof, above all, of the pecu­liar blinding Power of this Vice, there is not the most Covetous wretch Breathing, who does so much as see or perceive, that He is Covetous.

For, the Truth is, preach to the Conscience of a Covetous Person (if he may be said to have any) with the Tongue of Men and Angels, and tell him of the Vanity of the World, of Treasure in Heaven, and of the Necessity of being Rich toward God and Liberal to his Poor Brother; and 'tis all but flat, insipid, and ridiculous stuff to Him, who nei­ther sees, nor feels, nor suffers any thing to pass into His Heart, but through his Hands. You must preach to such an One of Bargain and sale, Profits and Per­quisits, Principal and Interest, use upon use; and if you can perswade Him that Godliness is gain in his own sense, per­haps you may do something with Him; otherwise, though you edge every word, you speak, with Reason and Religion, Evidence and Demonstration, you shall [Page 98] never affect, nor touch, nor so much as reach his Conscience; for it is kept sealed up in a bag under Lock and Key, and you cannot come at it.

And thus much for the second base Af­fection, that blinds the mind of Man, which is Covetousness. A thing directly Contrary to the very Spirit of Christi­anity; which is a free, a large, and an open Spirit; A Spirit open to God and Man, and always carrying Charity in one hand, and Generosity in the o­ther.

Thirdly, The third and last Vile affection, which I shall mention (as ha­ving the same Darkening effect upon the Mind or Conscience) is Ambition. For as Covetousness dulls the mind by pres­sing it down too much below it self, so Ambition dazles it, by lifting it up as much above it self▪ But both of them are sure to darken the light of it. For if you either look too intently down a deep Precipice, upon a Thing at an ex­treme distance below you, or with the same earnestness fix your Eye upon some­thing [Page 99] at too great an Height above you; in both cases you will find a Vertigo or Giddiness. And where there is a Giddi­ness in the Head, there will be always a mist before the Eyes. And thus, no doubt, it was only an Ambitious aspiring after high Things, which not long since caused such a Woful, scandalous Giddi­ness in some Men's Consciences, and made them turn Round and Round from this to That, and from That to this, till at length they knew not, what Bottom to fix upon. And this, in my Opinion, is a Case that admits of no Vindication.

Pride, we know (which is always Cousin-German to Ambition) is Common­ly reckoned the Fore-runner of a Fall. It was the Devil's sin and the Devil's ruine, and has been ever since the Devil's strate­gem; who like an Expert Wrestler usual­ly gives a Man a Lift, before he gives Him a Throw. But how does he do this? Why; by first blinding Him with Am­bition; and when a Man either cannot, or will not mind the Ground he stands up­on, as a Thing (forsooth,) too much be­low [Page 100] Him, he is then easily justled down, and thrust headlong into the next ditch. The Truth is, in this case Men seem to ascend to an High station, just as they use to leap down a very great steep: in both Cases they shut their Eyes first; for in both, the danger is very dreadful, and the way to venture upon it is not to see it.

Yea, so fatally does this touring, as­piring humour intoxicate and impose upon Mens minds, that when the Devil stands Bobbing and Tantalizing their Gaping hopes with some Preferment in Church, or State, they shall do the Basest, the Vilest, and most Odious things Imaginable; and that, not only in defiance of Conscience, but, which is yet more Impudent and Intolerable, shall even alledge Conscience it self as the very Reason for the doing them: So that such wretches shall out of Meer Conscience (forsooth) betray the Coun­trey that bred, and the Church that Baptized them, and having first practised a dispensing Power upon all Law within [Page 101] them, shall help to let the same loose upon all Laws without them too. And when they have done, shall wipe their Mouths and with as boon a Grace and as bold a Front look the World in the Face, as if they expected Thanks for such Vil­lainies, as a modest Malefactor would scarce presume to expect a Pardon for.

But as for these Ambitious Animals, who could thus Sell their Credit, and their Conscience, wade through Thick and Thin, and break through all that is Sa­cred and Civil, only to make themselves High and Great, I shall say no more of them but this, that instead of being ad­vanced to what they so much desired, it is well for them, that they have not been advanced to what they so highly de­served. For this, I am sure of, that nei­ther Papists, nor Fanaticks (both of them our mortal, Implacable Enemies) can conceive a Prayer more fully, and effe­ctually for their own Interest, than this, That the Church of England may never want store of Ambitious, Time-serving Men. And if God should in his Anger to this [Page 102] Poor Church, and Nation, grant them this, they doubt not, but in a little time, to Grant, or rather Give themselves the rest. Let this therefore be fixed upon as a certain maxim, that Ambition first blinds the Conscience, and then leads the Man whither it will, and that is in the direct Course of it, to the Devil.

I know, there are many more, irre­gular, and Corrupt Affections belong­ing to the mind of Man, and all of them in their degree apt to darken and ob­scure the Light of Conscience. Such as are Wrath, and Revenge, Envy, and Malice, Fear and despair, with many such others, even too many a great deal, to be crouded into one hours dis­course. But the three forementioned, (which we have been Treating of,) are, doubtless, the most Predominant, the most potent in their Influence, and most Pernicious in their effect: as answering to those three Principal objects, which, of all others, do the most absolutely command and domineer over the desires of Men; to wit, the Pleasures of the World [Page 103] working upon their sensuality; the Pro­fits of the World upon their Covetousness; And lastly the Honours of it upon their Ambition. Which three Powerful Incen­tives, meeting with these three Violent Affections, are (as it were) the Great Trident in the Tempters Hand, by which he strikes through the very Hearts and Souls of Men; or as a mighty Three fold Cord, by which he first ham­pers, and then draws the whole World after him, and that with such a Rapid swing, such an Irresistible Fascination upon the understandings, as well as Ap­petites of Men, that as God said here­tofore Let there be Light, and there was Light; so this Proud Rival of his Crea­tor, and over-turner of the Creation, is still saying in Defiance of him, Let there be Darkness, and accordingly there is Darkness; Darkness, upon the Mind and Reason; Darkness, upon the Judg­ment and Conscience of all Mankind. So that Hell it self seems to be nothing else, but the Devils finishing this his great Work, and the Consummation of that [Page 104] Darkness in another World, which he had so fatally begun in this.

And now, to summ up briefly the fore­going particulars. You have heard, of what vast, and infinite moment it is to have a clear, impartial, and right-judging Conscience. Such an one as a Man may reckon himself safe in the directions of, as of a Guide, that will always tell him Truth, and Truth with Authority; and that the Eye of Conscience may be always thus quick and lively, let constant use be sure to keep it constantly open; and thereby ready and prepared to admit and let in those Heavenly Beams, which are always streaming forth from God up­on Minds fitted to receive them.

And to this Purpose, let a Man fly from every Thing, which may leave ei­ther a Foulness, or a Biass upon it; for the first will blacken, and the other will distort it, and both be sure to darken it. Particularly let Him dread every gross Act of Sin; for one great Stab may as certainly and speedily destroy Life as forty lesser Wounds. Let Him also carry [Page 105] a Jealous Eye over every growing Habit of Sin; for Custom is an over-match to Nature, and seldom Conquered by Grace; and, above all, let Him keep aloof from all Commerce or Fellowship with any Vitious and Base Affection; Especi­ally from all Sensuality, which is not only the Dirt, but the Black Dirt, which the Devil throws upon the Souls of Men; accordingly let H [...] keep Himself un­touched with the Hellish, unhallowed heats of Lust, and the Noysome Steams, and Exhalations of Intemperance, which never fail to leave a Brutish Dullness and Infatuation behind them. Likewise, let Him bear himself above that sordid, and low Thing, that utter Contradiction to all greatness of Mind, Covetousness; let Him disenslave Himself from the Pelf of the World, from that amor sceleratus habendi; for all Love has something of Blindness attending it; but the Love of Money especially. And, lastly, let Him learn so to look upon the Honours, the Pomp, and Greatness of the World, as to look through them too. Fools indeed are [Page 106] apt to be blown up by them, and to Sa­crifice all for them; sometimes venturing their very heads, only to get a Feather in their Caps. But wise Men instead of looking above them, chuse rather to look about them and within them, and by so doing keep their Eyes always in their heads: and maintain a Noble clearness in One, and steadiness in the other. These, I say, are [...] of those ways, and methods, by which this great Inter­nal Light, the Judging Faculty of Consci­ence, may be preserved in its Native Vi­gour, and Quickness. And to compleat the foregoing directions by the Addition of one word more; That we may the more surely prevent our Affections from working too much upon our Iudgment, let us wisely beware of all such Things as may work too strongly upon our Affe­ctions.

If the light, that is in thee, be Darkness (says our Saviour) how great must that Darkness needs be! That is, how fatal, how destructive! And therefore I shall close up all with those other Words of [Page 107] our Saviour, John 12. While you have the Light walk in the Light; so that the way to have it (we see) is to walk in it. That is, by the Actions of a Pious, Inno­cent, and Well-governed Life, to che­rish, heighten, and improve it: For still so much Innocence, so much Light; and on the other side to abhor, and loath whatsoever may any ways discourage, and eclipse it; as every degree of Vice assuredly will. And thus by continual­ly feeding and Trimming our Lamps, we shall find that this Blessed Light within us, will grow every day Stronger and Stronger, and flame out Brighter and Brighter, till at length having lead us through this Vale of Darkness and Mortality, it shall bring us to those happy Mansions where there is Light and Life for evermore.

Which God (the great Author of Both) of his Infinite Mercy vouchsafe to us all; To whom be rendred and ascri­bed, as is most due, all Praise, Might, Majesty and Dominion both now and for ever more. Amen.

A SERMON Preached at Westminster-Abbey, May 29. 1670.

MATT. V.44.

But I say unto you, Love your Ene­mies.

BEfore we descend to the Pro­secution of the Duty Enjoined in these words. It is requi­site that we Consider the Scheme and Form of them as they stand in Relation to the Context. They are ushered in with the Adversative Particle [But] which stands as a note of Opposition to something going before: and that we have in the immediately preceeding Vers. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt Love thy Neighbour, and hate thy Enemy. But I say unto you, Love your Enemies. Which way of speaking has given Occasion to an Enquiry, whe­ther the Duty here Enjoined by Christ be opposed to the Mosaick Law, or one­ly to the Doctrine of the Scribes and [Page 112] Pharisees, and their Corrupt Glosses there­upon: some having made this and the next Chapter, not only a fuller Explicati­on and Vindication of the Mosaick Law, but an Addition of higher and perfecter Rules of Piety and Morality to it.

For the better clearing of which Point, I conceive that the matter of all the Commandments (the fourth only, as it determines the time of Gods solemn Worship to the seventh day, excepted,) is of Natural, Moral Right, and by Con­sequence carries with it a necessary and eternal obligation; as riseing from the unalterable Relation, that a Rational Creature bears either to God, His Neighbour, or Himself. For there are certain Rules of Deportment Suggested by Nature to each of these, which to deviate from, or not come up to, would be irrational, and Consequently Sinful. So that such Duties can by no means owe their first obligation to any New Precept given by Christ, but springing from an Earlier stock, ob­liged Men in all Ages and Places, since [Page 113] the World began. Forasmuch as that General Habitude or Relation (upon which all particular Instances of Duty are founded) which Men bore to God, their Neighbour, and themselves, upon account of their being Rational Creatures, was Universally, and Equally the same in all. So that for a Man to hate his E­nemy, or to be revengeful, or to be an­gry without a Cause, or to swear Rashly, or by Looks, Words, or Actions, to be­have himself Lasciviously, were, with­out question, always Aberrations from the Dictates of Rightly Improved Rea­son; And consequently in the very Na­ture of the Things themselves Unlawful. For if there were not a Natural Evil and Immorality in the aforesaid Acts, nor a goodness in the contrary, But that all this Issued from a positive Injunction of the one, and Prohibition of the other; what Reason can be assigned, but that God might have Commanded the said Acts, and made them Duties instead of forbidding them; which yet certainly would be a very strange, or rather mon­strous [Page 114] Assertion, but nevertheless, by a necessity of sequel, unavoidable. From whence I conceive it to be very clear, that, if the several particulars comman­ded or forbidden by Christ, in that his great Sermon upon the Mount, had a Natural Good or Evil respectively be­longing to them: Christ thereby added no New Precept to the Moral Law, which Eternally was, and will be the same, as being the Unalterable Standard or Measure of the Behaviour of a Ra­tional Creature in all its Relations and Capacities.

For we must not Think, that when the Law, either by Precept, or Prohi­bition, takes notice only of the outward Act, and the Gospel afterwards directs it self to the thoughts and desires, the Motives and Causes of the said Act; or again, when the Law gives only a Gene­ral Precept, and the Gospel assigns se­veral particular Instances reducible to the same General I [...]junction, that therefore the Gospel gives so many New Precepts Corrective, or Perfective of the aforesaid [Page 115] Precepts of the Law. No, by no means; for it is a Rule which ever was, and ever ought to be allowed in Interpreting the Divine Precepts, That every such Pre­cept does Vertually and Implicitly, and by a Parity of Reason, contain in it more than it expresly declares; which is so true, that those Persons, who im­pugn the Perfection of the old Moral Precepts, and upon that Account oppose the Precepts of Christ to them, do yet find it necessary to maintain, that even the Precepts of our Saviour Himself, ought to extend their obligation to many more particulars than are mentioned in them, and yet are not to be looked up­on, as at all the less perfect upon that Account. Which Rule of Interpreting being admitted, and made use of as to the Precepts of the New Testament, why ought it not to take place in those of the old also? And if it ought (as there can be no shadow of Reason to the contrary) I dare undertake, that there will be no need of multiplying of New Precepts in the Gospel, as often as the Papists and [Page 116] Socinians have a Tu [...] to serve by them. For surely every New Instance of Obe­dience does not of necessity inferr a New Precept; and for that Reason we may and do admit of several of the former without any need of asserting the latter. The Unity of a Precept is founded in the General Unity of its object, and every such General Comprehends many Parti­culars. The very Institution of the Two Christian Sacraments, is rather the Assig­nation of two new Instances of Obedience than of two new Precepts. For Christ having once Authentically declared that God would be Worshipped by those two so­lemn Acts, the Antecedent General Pre­cept of Worshipping God according to his own Will, was sufficient to oblige us to these two particular Branches of it, be­ing thus declared; and indeed to as many more as should from time to time be sug­gested to our Practise. For otherwise, if the multiplication of new particular I [...]st [...]ces of Duty▪ should multiply Pre­cept [...] too, it would render them innu­merable, which would be extreamly ab­surd and ridiculous.

[Page 117]And now, all that has been here al­ledged by us against the Necessity of hold­ing any new Precepts added to the Old Moral Law, as it obliged all Mankind, (whether notified to them by the Light of Nature [...] only, or by Revelation too) I reckon may as truely be affirmed of the Law of Moses also, (still supposing it a True and Perfect Transcript of the said Moral Law; as we have all the Reason in the World to believe it was) for were it otherwise, it would be hard to shew, what Advantage it could be to the Iew­ish Church to have that Law delivered to them; but on the Contrary it must needs have been rather a Snare than a Privi­lege or Help to them, as Naturally gi­ving them Occasion to look upon that as the most perfect draught of their Du­ty, when yet it required of them a lower degree of Obedience than Nature had before obliged them to; it being a thing in it self most Rational, to suppose the latter declaration of a Legislators mind, to be still the fuller and more Authentick. And therefore if other duties had been [Page 118] incumbent upon the Jewish Church by the Law of Nature, besides what were contained in the Law of Moses; it is not Imaginable how they could avoid the Omission of those Duties while they acqu [...]sced in the Directions of Moses as a full and sufficie [...] Rule of Obedience, and had so m [...] Reason so to do. Which yet surely must have rendred the whole Mosaick dispensation by no means agree­able either to the Wisdom or Goodness of God towards His Chosen People.

For though indeed the Moral Law as a Covenant promising Life upon Condi­tion of absolute indefective obedience, be now of no use to justify, (Sin having disabled it for that use through the In­capacity of the Subject) yet as it is a Rule directing our Obedience, and a Law binding to it, it still Continues in full force, and will do as long as Humane Nature endures. And as for the A [...]so­lute perfection of it in the Quality of a Rule directing, and a Law obliging, can that be more amply declared, and irrefragably proved than as it stands [Page 119] stated and represented to us, in the vast latitude of that Injunction, Deut. 6. [...]. and Levit. 19.18. Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, with all thy Soul, and with all thy Strength, and with all thy Mind, and thy Neighbour as thy self. I say, is there any Higher degree of Obedience which the Nature of Man is Capable of yielding to his Maker than this?

Nevertheless there are some Artists, I must confess, who can draw any thing out of any thing, who answer, That these words are not to be understood of Absolutely all, that a Man can do; but of all that he can be engaged to do by the Law as proposed under such an Oeconomy; namely as enforced with Temporal Pro­mises and Threatnings; so that upon these Terms, to Love God with all the Heart, &c. is to Love Him with the Utmost of such an Obedience, as Laws seconded with Temporal Blessings and Curses are able to produce. But to this I answer,

[Page 120] First, That the Argument bears upon a supposition, by no means to be admitted, to wit that the Law of Moses proceeded only upon Temporal Re­wards and Punishments. Which is most false, and contrary to the con­stantly received Doctrine of the Christi­an Church; and particularly of the Church of England, as it is declared in the sixth of Her Articles. But

Secondly, I add further; That the obliging Power of the Law is neither founded in, nor to be measured by the Rewards and Punishments an [...]xed to it▪ but by the sole Authority of the Law-giver springing from the Relation (which he bears) of a Creator and Governour, to Mankind, and Consequently of the entire dependance of Mankind upon Him; by vertue whereof they owe Him the utmost service, that their Na­ture renders them Capable of doing him. And that, I am sure, is Capable of Serving Him at a [...]igher Rate, than the Consideration of any Temporal Rewards or Punishments can raise it to: since of­tentimes [Page 121] the bare Love of Vertue it self will carry a Man further than these can: but however it is certain that Eternal Rewards can do so; which yet add nothing to our Natural Powers of Obey­ing though they draw them forth to an higher pitch of Obedience. And can we then Imagine that God would sink his Law below these Powers, by Leave­ing some degree of Love and Service to Himself absolutely within the strength and Power of Man, which He did not think fit by the Mosaick Law to oblige Him to (when yet our Saviour Himself promised Eternal Life to One, upon supposal of his Performance of this Law.) Luke 10.28.? This certainly is very strange Divinity. But after all, some may possibly reply, Does not the Gospel enjoin us that Perfection and Height of Chari­ty, which the Law never did, in Com­manding us to lay down our Life for our Brother? 1 Ioh. 3.16.

To which I Answer, That this is a Precept by no means absolute and uni­versal, but always to be Limited by these [Page 122] two Conditions. viz. First, That the Glo­ry of God, and Secondly, That the E­ternal Welfare of the Soul of our Bro­ther indispensably requires this of us; up­on the supposal of either of which I af­firm, it was as really a Duty from the Beginning of the World, as it was from that very time, that the Apostle wrote these words; the very Common Voice of Reason upon these Terms, and under these C [...]rcumstances, dictating and en­joining no less, as founding it self upon these two Self-Evident and undeniable Principles, (viz.) That the Life of the Crea [...]re ought, when Necessity calls, to be Sacrificed to the Glory of Him who gave it, and Secondly, that we ought to prefer the Eternal good of our Neigh­bour or Brother, before the highest Tem­poral good of our selves. Which mani­festly shows, that this High Instance of Charity (as extraordinary as it appears) did not at length begin to be a Duty by any Evangelic [...] Sanction, but was so ever since there was such Creatures in the World as Men, and Consequently [Page 123] that all, both Iews and Gentiles (whe­ther they actually knew so much or no) would have sinned against this Duty of Charity, should they have refused to promote the Glory of their Maker, or Prevent the Destruction of their Bro­ther's Immortal Soul, being called there­to, by quitting this Temporal Life for the sake of either. And Consequently that this is no such New Precept to be reckoned by Anno Domini, but as old as the obligations of Charity, and of Right Reason, discoursing and acting up­on the Dictates of that Noble Principle.

And now to apply this General Dis­course to the Particulars mentioned in this Chapter. I affirm that Christ does by no means here set Himself against the Law of Moses, as a Law either faulty or imperfect, and upon those Accounts need­ing either Correction, or Addition, but only opposed the Corrupt Comments of the Scribes and Pharisees upon the Law, as really Contradictions to it, rather than Expositions of it: And that for these fol­lowing Reasons.

[Page 124] First, Because the words in this Ser­mon mentioned and opposed by Christ, are manifestly, for the most part, not the words of the Law it self, but of the Scribes and Pharisees. As for instance, Whosoever shall Kill shall be in danger of the Iudgment. And again in the next Verse. He shall be in danger of the Council. They all referr to the Pharisees way of expres­sing themselves; which manifestly shews; that it was their Doctrine and Words which He was now disputing against, and not the Law it self; which this is by no means the Language of.

Secondly, That Expression. That is was said Some render it [to those.] by those of old time, was not uttered by Christ in his own Per­son, but by way of Prosopopoeia, in the Person of the Scribes and Pharisees, whose Custom it was to Preface and Au­thorize their Lectures and Glosses to the People, with the Pompous Plea of An­tiquity and Tradition. As if Christ had bespoken them thus. You have been accustomed indeed to hear the Scribes and Pharisees tell you, that This and This [Page 125] was said by those of old Time, but not­withstanding all these pretences I tell you that the Case is much otherwise, and that the True Account and sence of the Law is Thus and Thus. This I say is the natural purport and meaning of our Saviour's words, throughout this Chap­ter.

Thirdly, That passage in the 43. v. of the same. Ye have heard that it hath been said ye shall love your Neighbour and hate your Enemy, is so far from being the words of the Mosaick Law, that Moses Commands the clean Contrary to the latter Clause, Exod. 23.4. If thou seest thine Enemies Ox going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to Him again; and if thou see the Ass of him who hateth thee ly­ing under His Burthen thou shalt surely help Him. And if this was the Voice of the Law then, can we Imagine that it would make it a Mans Duty to relieve his Ene­mies Oxe, or his Ass, and at the same time allow Him to hate or malign his Person? This certainly is unaccountable and In­credible.

[Page 126] Fourthly, If Christ opposed his Pre­cepts to those of the Mosaick Law, then God speaking by Christ must Contradict Himself as speaking by Moses. For whatsoever Moses spoke, He spoke as the Immediate Dictates of God from whom He received the Law. But this is Absurd, and by no means Consistent with the Divine Holiness and Vera­city.

Fifthly, and lastly, Christ in all this discourse never calls any one of the Doctrines opposed by Him the Words of Moses, or of the Law, but only the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, which shews that they, and they only, were the Persons with whom He man­naged this whole Contest.

Let this therefore Rest with us as a firm Conclusion. That Moses and Christ were at perfect Agreement, whatever the Controversy was between Him and the Pharisees. And so from the Scheme an [...] Context of the words, I pass to the Duty enjoined [...] them which is to Love our Enemies: The discussion of which [Page 127] I shall cast under these three General Heads.

  • First, I shall shew Negatively what is not that Love, which we are here com­manded to shew our Enemies.
  • Secondly, I shall shew positively wherein it does Consist.
  • Thirdly, I shall produce Arguments to enforce it.

And first for the First of these; what is not that Love, which we must shew our Enemies: this we shall find to exclude several things which would fain wear this Name.

1. As first to treat an Enemy with a fair deportment and amicable Lan­guage, is not the Love here enjoined by Christ. Love is a thing that scorns to dwell any where but in the Heart. The Tongue is a Thing made for words, but what reality is there in a Voice, what substance in a sound? and words are no more. The Kindness of the Heart never kills, but that of the Tongue often does. And in an ill sence of soft Answer may sometimes break the Bones. He who [Page 128] speaks me well, proves himself a Rheto­rician or a Courtier: but that is not to be a Friend.

Was ever the Hungry fed, or the Na­ked Cloathed with good looks or fair Speech [...]? these are but thin Garments to keep out the Cold, and but a slender repast to conjure down the rage of a Craving Appetite. My Enemy perhaps is ready to Starve or Perish through Po­verty, and I tell him I am heartily glad to see Him, and should be very ready to serve him, but still my Hand is Close, and my Purse shut; I neither bring him to my Table nor lodge him under my Roof; He asks for Bread and I give him a Complement, a thing indeed not so hard as a Stone, but altogether as dry. I treat him with Art and outside: and lastly at parting, with all the Ceremo­nies of dearness [...], I shake him by the hand, but put nothing into it. In a word, I play with his Distress, and dally with that which I will not be dallied with, Want and Misery, and a Clamo­rous Necessity.

[Page 129]For will fair words and a Courtly behaviour pay Debts and discharge Scores? if they could, there is a sort of Men that would not be so much in debt as they are. Can a Man look and speak himself out of his Creditors hands? Surely then, if my words cannot do this for my self, neither can they do it for my Enemy. And therefore this has nothing of the Love spoken of in the Text. It is but a Scene and a meer Mockery, for the re­ceiving that cannot make my Enemy at all the Richer, the giving of which makes me not one Penny the Poorer. It is indeed the fashion of the World thus to amuse Men with empty Caresses, and to feast them with Words and Air, Looks and Legs; nay, and it has this peculiar privilege above all other Fashions, that it never alters; but certainly no Man ever yet quenched his Thirst with look­ing upon a golden Cup, nor made a Meal with the outside of a Lordly Dish.

But we are not to rest here; fair Speeches and Looks are not only very [Page 130] Insignificant as to the real effects of Love, but are for the most part the Instruments of hatred in the Execution of the greatest mischiefs. Few Men are to be ruined till they are made Confident of the Contrary: and this cannot be done by threats and roughness, and owning the mischief that a Man designs; but the Pit-fall must be co­vered to invite the Man to Venture over it; all things must be sweetned with pro­fessions of Love, Friendly Looks, and Embraces. For it is Oyl that whets the Razor, and the smoothest Edge is still the sharpest: they are the Com­placencies of an Enemy that Kill, the Closest Hugs that stifle, and Love must be pretended before Malice can be ef­fectually practised. In a word he must get into his Heart with fair Speeches and Promises, before he can come at it with his Dagger. For surely no Man fishes with a bare hook, or thinks that the Net it self can be any Enticement to the Bird.

But now, if these outward shows of fairness are short of the Love which we [Page 131] owe to our Enemies. What can we say of those, who have not arrived so far as these, and yet pretend to be Friends? disdain and distance, sowre looks and sharp words are all the expres­sions of Friendship that some Natures can manifest. I confess where real Kindnesses are done, these circumstan­tial Garnitures of Love (as I may so call them) may be dispensed with; and it is better to have a rough Friend than a fawning Enemy: but those who neither do good Turns, nor give good Looks, nor speak good Words, have a Love strangely subtil and metaphysical: for other poor Mortals of an ordinary Capa­city are forced to be ignorant of that which they can neither see, hear, feel, nor understand. And thus much for the first Negative; the Love that we are to show to Enemies, is not a fair external Courtly deportment. It is not such a thing as may be learnt in a Dancing-School, nor in those Shops of fallacy and dissimulation, the Courts and Palaces of great Men, where Mens thoughts [Page 132] and words stand at an infinite distance; and their tongues and minds hold no Correspondence or intercourse with one another.

2. Fair Promises are not the Love, that our Saviour here Commands us to shew our Enemies. And yet these are one step and advance above the former: for many fair Speeches may be given, many Courteous Harangues uttered, and yet no Promise made. And it is worth observing how some great ones often de­lude, and simple ones suffer themselves to be deluded, by general discourses and expressions of Courtesy. ‘As, take you no Care, I will provide for you. I will never see you want. Leave your business in my hands, and I will ma­nage it with as much or more concern than you could your self. What need you insist so much upon this or that in particular. I design better things for you.’ But all this while there is no particular determinate thing promised, so as to hold such an one by any real so­lid Engagement (supposing that his Pro­mise [Page 133] were such) but perhaps when the next advantage comes in the way, the Man is forgot, and balked: Yet still those general Speeches hold as true as ever they did, and so will continue not­withstanding all particular defeats; as indeed being never Calculated for any thing else but to keep up the expectation of easy Persons; to feed them for the present, and to fail them in the Issue.

But now as these empty glozing words are short of Promises, so Promises are equally short of Performances. Con­cerning both which I shall say this, That there is no wise Man, but had ra­ther have one Promise than a thousand Fair words, and one Performance than ten thousand Promises. For what trou­ble is it to Promise, what charge is it to spend a little breath, for a Man to give one his word, who never intends to give him any thing else? and yet according to the measures of the World this must sometimes pass for an high piece of Love; and many poor unexperienced believing Souls, who have more honesty than [Page 134] wit, think themselves rapt up into the Third Heaven, and actually possessed of some notable Preferment, when they can say, I have such a great Persons Pro­mise, for such or such a thing. Have they so? Let them see if such a Pro­mise will pay Rent, buy Land, and maintain them like Gentlemen. It is at the best but a future contingent; for ei­ther the Man may die, or his Interest may fail, or his Mind may Change, or ten thousand Accidents may Intervene. Promises are a dyet which none ever yet thrived by, and a Man may feed upon them heartily and never break his Fast. In a word, I may say of Humane Pro­mises, what Expositors say of Divine Prophecies, That they are never understood till they come to be fullfilled.

But how speaks the Scripture of these matters? Why, in Rom. 12.20. If thine Enemy hunger feed Him, if he thirst give Him drink. It is not, promise Him Meat and drink a Week hence, that is, perhaps two days after he is dead with Thirst and Hunger. He who lives only [Page 135] upon Reversions, and maintains himself with hope, and has nothing to cover him but the Cloths of dead Men, and the Promises of the Living, will find just as much relief from them, as a Man in the depth of Winter feels the heat of the following Summer.

But bare Promises are so far from an­swering Christ's Precept of loving our Enemies, that if they are not realiz'd in Deeds, they become a Plague and a great Calamity. For they raise an Ex­pectation, which unsatisfied or defeated, is the greatest of Torments, they betray a Man to a fallacious dependance, which bereaves Him of the succours of his other Endeavours, and in the issue leaves him to Inherit the shame and misery of a dis­appointment, and unable to say any thing else for himself, but that he was Credulous, and the Promiser False.

3. But thirdly and lastly, to advance a degree yet higher, to do one or two kind Offices for an Enemy, is not to fullfil the Precept of loving Him. He who Cloths a Naked Man with a pair [Page 136] of Gloves, and administers to one Pe­rishing with Thirst, a drop or two of Water, reaches not the measure of his Necessity, but instead of Relieving, only upbraids his want, and passes a jest upon his Condition. It is like pardoning a Man the Debt of a Penny, and in the mean time suing Him fiercely for a Ta­lent. Love is then only of reality and value when it deals forth benefits in a full proportion to ones need: and when it shews it self both in Universality and Constancy. Otherwise it is only a Trick to serve a Turn, and carry on a de­sign.

For he who would take a cleanly, un­suspected way to ruine his Adversary, must pave the way to his destruction with some Courtesies of a lighter sort, the sense of which shall take Him off from his guard, his wariness, and suspi­cion, and so lay him open to such a Blow, as shall destroy him at once. The Skill­ful Rider strokes and pleases the unruly Horse, only that he may come so near him, as to get the Bit into his Mouth, and [Page 137] then he rides, and rules, and domineers over him at his pleasure. So he who hates his Enemy with a Cunning equal to his Malice, will not strain to do this or that good turn for him, so long as it does not thwart, but rather promote the main design of his utter subversion. For all this is but like the helping a Man over the stile, who is going to be hang­ed, which surely is no very great or dif­ficult piece of Civility.

In the Reign of Queen Elizabeth we read of One whom the Grandees of the Court procured to be made Secretary of State, only to break his Back in the Bu­siness of the Queen of Scots, whose Death they were then projecting: Like true Courtiers they first engage Him in that Fatal Scene, and then desert him in it, using him only as a Tool to do a present State-job, and then to be Re­proached and Ruin'd for what he had done. And a little observation of the World may shew us, that there is not only a Course of Beheading, or Hang­ing, but also of preferring Men out of the [Page 138] way. But this is not to love an Enemy, but to hate him more artificially. He is ruined, more speciously indeed, but, not less efficaciously than if he had been laid fast in a Dungeon, or banished his Country, or by a packed Iury dispatched into another World.

2. And thus having done with the Negative. I come now to the second Ge­neral Thing proposed. Namely, to shew positively what is Included in the Duty of Loving our Enemies.

It Includes these three things.

1. A discharging the Mind of all Rancour and Virulence towards an Ad­versary. The Scripture most significant­ly calls it the Leaven of Malice, and, we know, that is of a spreading and fer­menting Nature, and will in time dif­fuse a sourness upon a Mans whole be­haviour: But we will suppose (which is yet seldom found) that a Man has such an absolute Empire and Command over his heart, as for ever to stifle his disgusts, and to manage his Actions in a constant Contradiction to his Affecti­ons, [Page 139] and to maintain a Friendly Con­verse, while he is hot with the rancour of an Enemy; yet all this is but the my­stery of dissimulation, and to Act a Part, instead of Acting a Friend.

Besides the Trouble and Anxiety to the very Person who thus behaves him­self. For Enmity is a Restless Thing, and not to be dissembled without some torment to the Mind that entertains it. It is more easily removed than covered. It is as if a Man should endeavour to keep the Sparks from flying out of a Fur­nace, or as if a Birth should be stopped when it is ripe and ready for Delivery, which surely would be a pain greater than that of Bringing forth.

He who is resolved to hate his Enemy, and yet resolves not to shew it, has turned the Edge of his hatred inwards, and becomes a Tyrant and an Enemy to Himself, He could not wish his Mortal Adversary a greater Misery, than thus to carry a Mind always big and swell­ing, and ever ready to burst, and yet never to give it vent.

[Page 140]But on the other side, it is no pain for a Man to appear what he is, and to declare a real Principle of Love in sen­sible demonstrations: Does a Man there­fore find that both his Duty and his In­terest require, that he should deport himself with all signs of Love to his Ene­mies? Let him but take this Easy Course, as to entertain the thing in his heart, which he would manifest in his Con­verse, and then he will find that his work is as Natural and Easy, as it is for Fire to cast abroad a Flame. Art is dif­ficult, but whatsoever is Natural is Easy too.

2. To love an Enemy is to do him all the Real offices of Kindness, that opportunity shall lay in our way. Love is of too substantial a Nature, to be made up of meer Negatives, and withal too operative to terminate in bare desires. Does Providence cast any of my Enemies Concernments under my Power. As his Health, his Estate, Preferment, or any thing conducing to the Conveni­encies of his Life? Why, in all this it [Page 141] gives me an opportunity to manifest, whether or no I can reach the sublimity of this Precept of Loving my Enemies.

Is my Enemy Sick and Languishing, and it is in my Power to Cure him as Ea­sily, or to kill him as safely, as if I were his Physician; Christianity here commands me to be concerned for his weakness, to shew him a Remedy, and to rescue him from the Grave; and in a word, to preserve that Life, which perhaps would have once destroyed mine.

Do I see my Enemy defrauded and circumvented, and like to be undone in his Estate? I must not sit still and see him ruined, and tell him I wish him well; which is a contradiction in Practice, and an impudent ill-natured Sarcasm: but I must contribute my hearty assistance to discover the fraud and to repell the force: and as readily keep him from being poor, as relieve him if he were. I must be as forward in the pursuit of the Thief who stole his goods who once plundered mine, as if the injury had light upon my Friend, my Kinsman or My self.

[Page 142]And lastly does it lie in my way to put in a word to dash or promote my E­nemy's business or Interest? to give him a secret blow, such an one as shall strike his Interest to the ground for ever, and he never know the hand from whence it came? Can I by my power obstruct his lawful Advantage, and Preferments, and so reap the Diabolical satisfaction of a close Revenge? Can I do him all the mischief Imaginable, and that easily, safely, and successfully; and so applaud my self in my Power, my Wit, and my subtle Contrivances, for which the World shall court me as Formidable and Considerable? Yet all these wretched Practices and accursed Methods of grow­ing great, and rising by the fall of an Enemy, are to be detested as infinitely opposite to that Innocence and Clearness of Spirit, that Openness and Freedom from design that becomes a Professor of Christianity.

On the contrary, amidst all these op­portunities of doing mischief, I must espouse my Enemies just cause, as his [Page 143] Advocate or Sollicitor. I must help it forward by favourable Speeches of his Person, acknowledgment of his worth and merit, by a fair construction of doubtful passages: and all this, if need be, in secret, where my Enemy neither sees nor hears me do him these Servi­ces, and consequently where I have all the Advantages and Temptations to do otherwise. In short, the Gospel enjoins a greater Love to our Enemies, than Men, for the most part, now adays shew their Friends.

3. The last and crowning instance of our Love to our Enemies, is to pray for them. For by this a Man, as it were, acknowledges himself unable to do e­nough for his Enemy; and therefore he calls in the Assistance of Heaven, and engages Omnipotence to compleat the Kindness. He would fain outdo him­self, and therefore finding his own stores short and dry, he repairs to Infinity. Prayer for a Mans self is indeed a Choice Duty, yet it is but a kind of lawful and pious Selfishness. For who would not [Page 144] sollicit for his own happiness, and be Importunate for his own Concerns? But when I pray as heartily for my Enemy, as I do for my daily Bread; when I strive with Prayers and Tears to make God his Friend, who himself will not be mine; when I reckon his felicity a­mongst my own necessities. Surely this is such a Love as, in a literal sence, may be said to reach up to Heaven. For no bo­dy judges that a small and a trivial thing, for which he dares to pray: No Man comes into the Presence of a King to beg Pins. And therefore if a Man did not look upon the good of his Enemy, as a thing that nearly affected himself, he could not own it as a matter of a Peti­tion, and endeavour to concern God about that, with which he will not con­cern himself. And upon the same ground also is inferred the Necessity of a Mans personal endeavouring the good and hap­piness of his Enemy: for Prayer with­out endeavour is but an Affront to the Throne of Grace, and a Lazy throwing that, which is our own duty, upon God. [Page 145] As if a Man should say, God forgive you, God Relieve and Comfort you, for I will not. But if to pray for an Enemy be a duty, surely the manner in which we do it, ought to be so too: and not such as shall turn a Supplication for him into a Satyr against him, by representing him in our Prayers under the Character of one void of all Grace and Goodness, and consequently a much fitter object for God's Vengeance than his Mercy. And yet there was a Time in which this way of Praying was in no small Vogue with a certain sort of Men, who would allow neither the gift nor spirit of Prayer to any but themselves. For if at any time they prayed for those whom they accounted their Enemies (and that only because they had done so much to make them so) it could not be properly called an interceding with God for them, but a downright enditing and arraigning them be­fore God as a pack of graceless Wretches and Villains, and avowed Enemies to the Power and Purity of the Gospel. This and the like, I say, was the devout Lan­guage [Page 146] of their Prayers, sometimes by Intimation, and sometimes by direct Ex­pression: And thus under the Colour and Cover of some Plausible Artificial words, it was but for them to call those whom they maligned Antichrist, and themselves the Kingdom of Christ, and then they might very laudably pray for the pulling down of the one, and the set­ting up of the other, and thereby no doubt answer all the measures of a San­ctified, Self-denying Petition. But as those days are at an end, so it were to be wished that such kind of Praying were so too;See something upon the like subject. Vol. 2d. p. 160. especi­ally since Our Church, I am sure, has so much Charity, as to teach all of her Communion to pray for those, who are not only Ene­mies to our Persons, but also to our very Prayers.

And thus I have endeavoured to shew, what it is to Love our Enemies; though I will not say that I have recounted all the Instances in which this Duty may exert it self. For Love is Infinite, and [Page 147] the methods of its acting Various and In­numerable. But I suppose that I have marked out those Generals which all Particulars may be fairly Reduced to.

And now, before I proceed to the Motives and Arguments to enforce the Duty, I shall, to prevent some Abuses of this Doctrine, shew what is not In­consistent with this Loving our Ene­mies: And that is to defend and secure our selves against them. I am to love my Enemy, but not so as to hate my self: if my Love to Him be a Copy, I am sure the Love to my self ought to be the Original. Charity is indeed to diffuse it self abroad, but yet it may Lawfully begin at Home. For the Pre­cept surely is not unnatural and irrati­onal; nor can it state the Duty of Chri­stians in opposition to the Privileges of Men, and command us tamely to sur­render up our Lives and Estates as often as the hands of Violence would wrest them from us. We may Love our Ene­mies, but we are not therefore to be fond of their Enmity. And though I am com­manded [Page 148] when my Enemy Thirsts to give him Drink, yet it is not when he thirsts for my Blood. It is my Duty to give him an Almes, but not to let him take my Estate. Princes and Governours may very well secure themselves with Laws and Arms against implacable E­nemies for all this Precept: they are not bound to Leave the State Defenceless, against the Projects, Plots, and Insur­rections of those who are pleased to think themselves persecuted if they are not permitted to Reign. We may with a very fair comportment with this Pre­cept Love our Enemies Persons, while we hate their Principles and counter­plot their designs.

I come now to the third and last thing viz. to assign Motives and Arguments to enforce this Love to our Enemy: and they shall be taken

  • 1. From the Condition of our Ene­mies Person.
  • 2. From the Excellency of the Duty.
  • [Page 149]3. From the great Examples that recommend it: and,

For the first of these, if we Consider our Enemy: we shall find that he sustains se­veral Capacities, which may give him a just Claim to our Charitable affection.

1. As first he is joined with us in the Society and Community of the same Nature. He is a Man. And so far bears the Image and Superscription of our Heavenly Father. He may cease to be our Friend, but He cannot cease to be our Brother. For we all descended from the same Loins, and though Esau hates Iacob, and Iacob supplants Esau, yet they once lay in the same Womb: and therefore the saying of Moses may be extended to all Men at Variance; Why do ye wrong one to another, for ye are Brethren? If my Enemy were a Snake or a Viper, I could do no more than hate and trample upon Him: but shall I hate the seed of the Woman, as much as I do that of the Serpent? We hold that God Loves the most Sinful of his Creatures so far as they are his Crea­tures; [Page 150] and the very Devils could not Sin themselves out of an excellent Na­ture▪ though out of an Happy Condi­tion.

Even War which is the Rage of Mankind and observes no Laws but its own, yet it offers quarter to an Enemy; I suppose, because Enmity does not ob­literate Humanity, nor wholly Cancel the Sympathies of Nature. For every Man does, or (I am sure) he may, see something of himself in his Enemy, and a transcript of those perfections for which he Values himself.

And therefore those Unhumane Butcheries which some Men have acted upon others, stand upon Record not only as the Crimes of Persons, but also as the reproach of our very Nature, and excu­sable upon no other Colour or Account whatsoever, but that the Persons who acted such Cruelties upon other Men first ceased to be Men themselves; and and were indeed to be reckoned as so many Anomalies and Exceptions from Mankind; Persons of another Make [Page 151] or Mold from the rest of the Sons of Adam, and deriving their original not from the Dust, but rather from the stones of the Earth.

2. An Enemy notwithstanding his Enmity may be yet the proper ob­ject of our Love, because it sometimes so falls out, that he is of the same Re­ligion with us; and the very business and design of Religion is to Unite, and to put (as it were) a Spiritual Cogna­tion and Kindred between Souls. I am sure, this is the great purpose of the Christian Religion; which never joins Men to Christ but by first joining them amongst themselves: and making them Members one of another, as well as knitting them all to the same Head. By how much the more intolerable were our late Zealots, in their pretences to a more refined strain of Purity and Converse with God; while in the mean time their Hearts could serve them to plun­der, worry, and undo their poor Brethren, only for their loyal adherence to their Sovereign. Sequestring and Casting [Page 152] whole Families out of their Houses and Livings to starve abroad in the wide World, against all the Laws of God and Man; and who to this day breath the same Rage towards all Dissenters from them, should they once more get the Reforming Sword into their Hands. What these Men's Religion may teach them, I know not, but I am sure, it is so far from teaching them to Love their Enemies, that they found their bitterest Enmities, and most Inveterate hatreds on­ly upon Religion: which has taught them first to call their Malice Zeal, and then to think it their Duty to be Malici­ous and Implacable.

3. An Enemy may be the proper Object of our Love, because, though perhaps he is not capable of being changed and made a Friend by it, (which, for any thing I know, is next to Impossible) yet he is capable of being shamed and rendred Inexcusable. And shame may smooth over his Behaviour, though no kindness can change his Disposition: Upon which account it is, that so far as [Page 153] a Man shames his Enemy, so far he also disarms him. For he leaves him stript of the Assistance and good Opinion of the World round about him; without which it is impossible for any Man living to be Considerable, either in his Friendships or his Enmities.

Love is the Fire that must both heap and kindle those Coals upon our Enemies Heads, that shall either Melt or Consume Him. For that Man I account as good as con­sumed and ruined, whom all People, e­ven upon the common concern of Man­kind, abhor for his Ingratitude, as a Pest and a Publick Enemy. So that if my Enemy is resolved to treat me Spight­fully, notwithstanding all my endea­vours to befriend and oblige Him; and if he will still revile and rail at me, after I have employed both Tongue and Hand to serve and promote Him, surely I shall by this means at least make his Virulent words Recoil upon his Bold Face, and his Foul Mouth; and so turn that stream of publick Hatred and Detestation justly upon Himself, which he was en­de [...]vouring [Page 154] to bring upon me. And if I do no more, it is yet worth while, even upon a Temporal Account to obey this Precept of Christ, of Loving my Ene­my ▪ And thus much for the first general Argument to enforce this Duty, ground­ed upon the Condition of my Enemies Per­son.

2. A Second Motive or Argument to the same shall be taken from the ex­cellency of the Duty it self. It is the highest Perfection that Humane Nature can reach unto. It is an Imitation of the Divine Goodness, which shines upon the he [...]ds, and rains upon the fields of the Sinful and Unjust; and heaps Blessings upon those, who are busy only to heap up wrath to themselves. To Love [...]n Enemy is to stretch Humanity as far as it will go. It is an Heroick Acti­on, and such an one as grows not upon an ordinary Plebiean Spirit.

The Excellency of the Duty, is suf­ficiently proclaimed by the difficulty of its Practice. For how hard is it, when the Passions are high, and the sense of [Page 155] an Injury quick, and Power ready, for a Man to deny himself in that luscious morsel of Revenge! To do Violence to himself, instead of doing it to his Enemy! and to command down the strongest Principles, and the greatest heats, that usually act the Soul when it exerts it self upon such objects.

And the difficulty of such a behaviour is no less declared by its being so rarely and seldom observed in Men. For who almost can we see who opens his Arms to his Enemies, or puts any o­ther bounds to his hatred of him but sa­tiety or disability; either because it is even glutted with having done so much against him already, or wants Power to do more. Indeed where such a Pitch of Love is found, it appears glorious and glistering in the Eyes of all, and much admired and commended it is, but yet for the most part no otherwise than as we see Men Admiring and Commending some rare piece of Art, which, they never intend to Imitate, nor so much as to attempt an Imitation of. Nothing cer­tainly [Page 156] but an Excellent Disposition im­proved by a mighty grace, can bear a Man up to this perfection.

3. The third Motive or Argument, shall be drawn from the great Examples which recommend this Duty to us. And first of all from that of our Blessed Sa­viour, whose Footsteps in the Paths of Love we may trace out and follow by his own Blood. He gave his Life for Sinners. That is for Enemies, yea and Enemies, with the highest aggravation, for nothing can make one Man so much an Enemy to another, as Sin makes him an Enemy to God.

I say unto you Love your Enemies, (says Christ) That is, I emphatically, I who say it by my Example as much as by my Precept. For Christ went about do­ing good, Acts 10.38. Yea, and he did it still in a Miracle. Every work that he did, was Equally Beneficial and Mi­raculous. And the place where he did such Wonders of Charity was Ierusalem a City red with the blood God's Messen­gers, and Paved with the Sculls of Pro­phets. [Page 157] A City which He knew, would shortly compleat all its Cruelty and im­piety in His own Murder, though He was the promised and long expected Messias. And in the Prologue to this Murder, his Violent Attachment, when one of his Enemies was wounded he be­stowed a Miracle upon his Cure. So tender was he of his Mortal Enemies. Like a Lamb that affords wherewithal, both to feed and cloath its very But­cher, Nay and while he was actually hanging upon the Cross, he uttered a passionate prayer for the forgiveness of his Murderers. So desirous was he, that though they had the sole Acting, yet that He himself should have the whole feeling of their Sin. In fine, now that He sits at the Right hand of his Father Triumphant, and governing the World, from whence he could with much more ease confound his most dare­ing Enemies, than the most Potent Grandee can crush his meanest and most servile dependants, yet he treats them with all the methods of Patience and [Page 158] Arts of Reconcilement, and in a word endures with much long suffering, those Vessels of Wrath who seem even Resol­ved to Perish, and obstinately set to fit themselves for destruction.

And now, though after such an Exam­ple, this sort of Argument for the Loving our Enemies can be carryed no higher, yet blessed be God, that is not so wholly Exhausted by any one Example, but that it may be carried further; and that by several Instances, which though they do by no mean [...] come up to a just Com­parison with it, yet ought to be owned for noble Imitations of it. And such an one this happy Day affords us, a day Consecrated to the solemn Commemo­ration of the Nativity and Return of a Prince who having been most barbarously driven out of his Kingdoms, and after­wards as miraculously restored to them, brought with him the greatest, the bright­est and most stupendious Instance of this Vertue, that, next to what has been observed of our Saviour himself, was ever yet shewn by Man. Providence [Page 159] seeming to have raised up this Prince, as [...]t had done his Father before Him, to give the World a Glorious Demonstra­tion, that the most injured of Men, might be the most merciful of Men too. For after the highest of wrongs and Contu­melies that a Soveraign could suffer from his Subjects; Scorning all Revenge, as more below him than the very Per­sons whom he might have been revenged upon, he gloried in nothing so much as in giving Mercy the upper hand of Ma­jesty it self, making Amnesty his Symbol or Motto, and Forgiveness the peculiar signalizing Character of his Reign; herein Resembling the Almighty Him­self (as far as mortality can) who seems to claim a greater Glory for Sparing and Redeeming Man, than for Creating Him. So that in a word, as our Saviour has made Love to our Enemies one of the Chiefest badges of our Religion, so our King has almost made it the very mark of our Allegiance.

Thus even to a Prodigy Merciful has he shewn Himself; Merciful by Inclina­tion, [Page 160] and merciful by Extraction; mer­ciful in his Example and merciful in hi [...] Laws, and thereby expressing the ut­most dutifulness of a Son, as well as the highest Magnanimity and Clemency of a Prince; while He is still making that good upon the Throne which the Royal Martyr his Father had enjoined upon the Scaffold; where He dyed pardoning and praying for those, whose malice he was then falling a Victim to: And this with a Charity so unparallell'd, and a devotion so [...]ervent, that the Voice of his Prayers, 'tis to be hoped, drowned the very Cry of his Blood. But I Love not to dwell upon such Tragedies, save only to illustrate the height of one Con­trary by the height of another; and therefore as an humble follower of the Princely Pattern here set before us, I shall draw a Veil of silence over all; especially since it surpasses the Power of Words sufficiently to set forth either the greatness of the Crimes forgiven, or of the mercy that forgave them.

But to draw to a close: We have here [Page 161] had the highest and the hardest Duty per­haps belonging to a Christian, both re­commended to our Judgment by Argu­ment, and to our Practice by Example; and what remains, but that we submit our Iudgment to the one, and govern our Practice by the other? And for that Purpose, that we beg of God an Assi­stance equal to the Difficulty of the Du­ty enjoyned; for certainly it is not an ordinary measure of Grace that can con­quer the opposition, that Flesh and Blood and corrupt Reason it self, after all its convictions, will be sure to make to it. The greatest miseries that befall us in this World are from Enemies, and so long as Men naturally desire to be happy, it will be naturally as hard to them to Love those who, they know, are the grand Obstacles to their being so. The Light of Nature will convince a Man of many Duties, which it will never enable him to perform. And if we should look no further than bare Nature, this seems to be one cut out rather for our Admiration than our Practice. It be­ing [Page 162] not more difficult (where Grace does not Interpose) to cut off a Right Hand, than to reach it heartily to the Relief of an in­veterate Implacable Adversary. And yet God expects this from us, and that so per­emptorily, that he has made the Pardon of our Enemies the Indispensable Condi­tion of our own. And therefore that Wretch (whosoever he was) who being pressed hard upon his Death-Bed to Par­don a notable Enemy; which he had, answered, That if He died indeed, he Par­doned Him, but if He lived He would be Re­venged on Him. That Wretch I say, and every other such Image of the Devil, no doubt went out of the World so, that he had better never have come into it. In fine after we have said the utmost upon this Subject that we can, I believe we shall find this the Result of all, That He is an happy Man who has no Enemies, and he a much happier, who has never so many, and can Pardon them.

God preserve us from the one, or enable us to do the other. To whom be rendred and a­scribed, as is most due, all Praise, Might, Majesty and Dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.

False Foundations removed, AND True ones laid for such Wise Builders as design to build for Eternity.

IN A SERMON Preached at St. Mary's Oxon, before the University, Decem. 10. 1661.

MATT. VII.26, 27.

And every one that heareth these say­ings of Mine, and doth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish Man which built his House upon the Sand.

And the Rain descended and the Floods came, and the Winds blew, and beat upon that House and it fell and great was the fall of it.

IT seems to have been all along the Prime Art and method of the great Enemy of Souls, not being able to root the Sense of Religion out of Mens hearts, yet by his Sophistries and Delusions to defeat the Design of it upon their Lives; and either by empty Notions, or false per­swasions to take them off from the main business of Religion, which is Duty and [Page 166] Obedience, by bribing the Conscience to rest satisfyed with something less. A project extremely sutable to the cor­rupt Nature of Man; whose chief, or ra­ther sole quarrel to Religion is the seve­rity of its Precepts, and the Difficulty of their Practice. So that although it is as Natural for him to desire to be hap­py, as to breath, yet he had rather lose and miss of happiness than seek it in the way of Holiness. Upon which Account nothing speaks so full and home to the very inmost Desires of his Soul, as those Doctrines and Opinions, which would perswade him, that it may, and shall be well with him hereafter, without any Ne­cessity of his living well here. Which great Mystery of Iniquity being carefully managed by the utmost skill of the Tem­pter, and greedily embraced by a Mans own Treacherous affections, lies at the bottom of all false Religions, and eats out the very Heart and Vitals of the True. For in the strength of this, some hope to be saved by Believing well; some by Meaning well; some by Paying well; [Page 167] and some by shedding a few insipid Tears, and uttering a few hard words against those Sins which they have no other Con­troversy with, but that they were so un­kind as to leave the Sinner before he was willing to leave them. For, all this Men can well enough submit to, as not force­ing them to abandon any one of their Beloved Lusts. And therefore they will not think themselves hardly dealt with though you require Faith of them, if you will but dispense with Good Works. They will abound, and even overflow with good Intentions, if you will allow them in quite contrary Actions. And you shall not want for Sacrifice, if that may Compound for Obedience; nor Lastly will they grudge to find Money, if some bo­dy else will find Merit. But to Live well, and to Do well, are Things of too hard a Digestion.

Accordingly our Saviour, who well knew all these false hopes and Fallacious Reasonings of the Heart of Man (which is never so subtle as when it would de­ceive it self) tells his hearers, that all [Page 168] these little, trifling Inventions will avail them Nothing, and that in the Business of Religion, and the great concern of Souls; all that is short of Obedience and a Good Life, is Nothing but Trick and Evasion, Froth and Folly; and consequently that if they build upon such deceitful Grounds, and with such slight materials, they must and can expect no other, than after all their cost and pains, to have their House fall upon their Heads, and so perish in the Ruin. And with this Terrible Application in these two last Verses, which I have pitched upon for my Text, he concludes his Di­vine Sermon, and Discourse from the Mount.

The words of the Text being too plain and easy to need any Nice or large Ex­plication, I shall manage the discussion of them in these four Particulars.

  • First, In shewing the Reasons upon which I conclude Practice or Obedience, in the great Business of a Man's Eternal Happiness, to be the best and surest Foundation for him to build upon.
  • [Page 169] Secondly, In shewing the False Foun­dations upon which many build, and accordingly in Time of Tryal, Mis­carry.
  • Thirdly, In shewing the Causes, why such Miscarry, and fall away in time of Tryal or Temptation.
  • Fourthly, and Lastly, In shewing wherein the Fatal greatness of their Fall consists.

And First for the first of These. viz. to shew the Reasons why Practice or Obe­dience is the best and surest Foundation, (still supposing it bottomed upon the me­rits of Christ) for a Man to build his de­signs for Heaven) and the hopes of his Sal­vation upon; I shall mention Three.

First, Because, according to the ordinary way, and Oeconomy of God's working upon the Hearts of Men, no­thing but Practice can change our Cor­rupt Nature; and Practice continued, and persevered in, by the Grace of God, Will. We all acknowledge (that is, all who are not wise above the Articles of our Church) that there is an Uni­versal [Page 170] stain and depravation upon Mans Nature, that does incapacitate him for the Fruition, and Infinitely pure Con­verse of God. The Removal of which cannot be effected, but by introducing the contrary habit of Holiness, which shall by degrees expell, and purge out the other. And the only way to pro­duce an habit, is by the frequent repe­tition of Congenial Actions. Every Pious Action leaves a certain Tincture, or disposition upon the Soul, which be­ing seconded by Actions of the same Na­ture, whether by the superaddition of new Degrees, or a more radicate fixation of the same, grows at length into an Ha­bit, or Quality, of the Force and Energy of a second Nature.

I confess the Habit of Holiness, find­ing no Principles of Production in a Na­ture wholly corrupt, must needs be pro­duced by Supernatural Infusion, and consequently proceed, not from Acquisi­tion, but Gift. It must be brought into the Soul, it cannot grow, or spring out of of it. But then we must remember that [Page 171] most excellent, and true. Rule of the Schools, that Habitus infusi obtinentur per modum acquisitorum. It is indeed a supernatural effect, but (as I may so speak) wrought in a Natural way. The Spirit of God imitating the Course of Nature, even then, when it works something above it.

A person in the State of Nature or Unregeneracy cannot by the sole strength of his most improved Performances, ac­quire an Habit of True Grace or Holi­ness. But, as in the Rain, it is not the bare Water that fructifies, but a secret Spirit, or Nitre descending with it, and joined to it, that has this Vertue, and produces this effect: So in the Duties of a meer Natural Man, there is some­times an hidden, Divine Influence, that keeps pace with those Actions, and together with each performance, imprints a holy disposition upon the Soul; which after a long Series of the like Actions influenced by the same Divine Principle, comes at length to be of that force and firmness as to outgrow, and work out [Page 172] the Contrary Qualities of inherent Cor­ruption.

We have an illustration of this, though not a Parallel Instance, in Natural Acti­ons, which by frequency imprint an ha­bit, or permanent facility of Acting up­on the Agent. Godliness is in some sense an Art or Mystery, and we all know that it is Practice chiefly, that makes the Artist.

Secondly, A second Reason for our Assertion, is, Because Action is the high­est Perfection, and Drawing forth of the utmost Power, Vigor, and Activity of Mans Nature. God is pleased to Vouch­safe the best that He can give, only to the Best that we can do. And Acti­on is [...] undoubtedly our best, because the most Difficult; for in such cases, Worth, and Difficulty are insepara­ble Companions. The properest and most raised Conception that we have of God, is, that He is a Pure Act, a Per­petual, Incessant Motion. And next to Him, in the Rank of Beings, are the Angels, as approaching nearest to [Page 173] Him in this Perfection; being all Flame, [...]nd Agility, ministring Spirits, always busy and upon the Wing, for the Exe­cution of His Great Commands about the Government of the World. And indeed Doing is nothing else but the No­blest Improvement of Being. It is not (as some nice Speculators make it) an airy, diminutive entity, or Accident distinct from the Substance of the Soul; but to define it more sutably to it self, and to the Soul too, Action is properly the Soul in its best Posture.

Thirdly, A Third Reason is, be­cause the main End, Drift, and Design of Religion is the Active part of it. Pro­fession is only the Badge of a Christian, Belief the beginning, but Practice is the Nature, and Custom the Perfection. For it is this, which translates Christianity from a bare Notion into a Real Business; from useless Speculations into Substantial Duties; and from an Idea in the Brain into an Existence in the Life. An Up­right Conversation is the bringing of the General Theorems of Religion into the [Page 174] particular Instances of solid Experience▪ and if it were not for this, Religion would exist no where, but in the Bible▪ The Grand deciding Question at the last day will be, not What have you said? or What have you believed? but What have you done more than others?

But that the very Life of Religion con­sists in Practice, will appear yet further from those subordinate Ends to which it is designed in this World, and which are as Real [...]y, though not as Principally, the purpose of it, as the Utmost attain­ment of the Beatifick Vision, and the ve­ry last Period of our Salvation; And these are Two.

First, The Honouring of God be­fore the World. God will not have His Worship, like His Nature, Invisi­ble. Next to Authority it self is the Pomp, and Manifestation of it. And to be acknowledged is something more than to be Obeyed. For what is Sove­reignty unknown, or Majesty unobser­ved? What Glory were it for the Sun to direct the Affairs, if he did not also [Page 175] attract the Eyes of the World? It is his open and Universal Light, more than his Occult Influence, that we love and admire him for. Religion, if confined to the Heart, is not so much entertain'd, as imprisoned. That indeed is to be its Fountain, but not its Channel. The Water arises in one Place, but it streams in another; and Fountains would not be so much valued if they did not pro­duce Rivers.

One great End of Religion is to pro­claim and publish God's Sovereignty, and there is no such way to Cause Men to Glorify our Heavenly Father, as by Causing our Light to shine before them; Which, I am sure, it cannot do, but as it beams through our good Works. When a Man leads a Pious and Good Life, eve­ry hour he Lives is virtually an Act of Worship. But if inward Grace is not exerted, and drawn forth into outward Practice, Men have no Inspection into our Hearts, to discern it there. And let this be fixed upon as a standing Prin­ciple, That it is not possible for us to [Page 176] Honour God before men, but only by those Acts of Worship, that are ob­serveable by men. It is our Faith in­deed that recognizes Him for our God, but it is our Obedience only, that de­clares Him to be our Lord.

Secondly, The other End of Religi­on in this World, is the good and mu­tual▪ advantage of Mankind in the Way of Society. And herein did the admi­rable Wisdom, and Goodness of God ap­pear, that He was pleased to calculate and contrive such an Instrument to govern, as might also benefit, the World. God planted Religion amongst Men as a Tree of Life; which, though it was to spring upwards directly to Himself, yet it was to spread its Branches to the Benefit of all below.

There is hardly any Necessity, or Convenience of Mankind, but what is in a large measure serv'd, and provided for by this great blessing (as well as Bu­siness) of the World, Religion. And he who is a Christian, is not only a better Man, but also a better Neighbour, a [Page 177] better Subject, and a truer Friend, than he that is not so. For was ever any thing more for the good of Mankind, than to forgive Injuries, to love and caress our mortal adversaries, and in­stead of our Enemy, to hate only our Revenge?

Of such a double, yet benign, Aspect is Christianity both to God and Man; like Incense, while it ascends to Hea­ven it perfumes all about it; at the same time both Instrumental to God's Wor­ship, and the worshippers Refreshment. As it holds up one hand in Supplication, so it reaches forth the other in Bene­faction.

But now, if it be one great End of Religion, thus to contribute to the sup­port and Benefit of Society, surely it must needs consist in the Active Piety of our Lives, not in Empty Thoughts and Fruitless perswasions. For what can one Man be the better for what A­nother Thinks or Believes? When a Poor Man begs an Alms of me, can I be­lieve my Bread into his Mouth, or my [Page 178] Money into his Hand? Believing with­out Doing is a very Cheap, and Easy, but withal a very Worthless way of be­ing Religious.

And thus having given the Reasons, why the Active part of Religion is the only sure Bottom for us to build upon. I now proceed to the second Thing Proposed, namely, to shew, Those false and Sandy Foundations, which many venture to build up­on, and are a [...]ordingly deceived by. Which though they are exceedingly Various, and, according to the multiplicity of Mens tempers, businesses, and occasions, almost Infinite, and like the Sand men­tioned in my Text, not only infirm, but Numberless also; yet according to the best of my poor Judgment and Observa­tion, I shall reduce them to these three heads. The

First of which is a Naked, Un­operative Faith: ask but some upon what Grounds they look to be saved, and they will answer, because they firmly be­lieve, that through the Merits of Christ their Sins are forgiven them. But since [Page 179] it is hard for a Man in his right wits to be confident of a Thing, which he does not at all know; such as are more Cau­tious will tell you further, That to desire to Believe is to Believe, and to desire to Re­pent is to Repent. But as this is absurd and impossible, since no Act can be its own Object without being not it self; for as much as the Act and the Object are distinct things; and consequently a desire to believe can no more be Belief, than a desire to be saved can be Salvation; so it is further intolerable upon this Ac­count, that it quite dispirits Religion, by placing it in Languid, Abortive Velleities, and so cuts the Nerves of all Endeavour, by rating Glory at a bare De­sire, and Eternity at a Wish.

But because the Poyson of this Opi­nion does so easily enter, and so strange­ly intoxicate, I shall presume to give an Antidote against it in this one observati­on, namely, That all along the Scrip­ture, Where Justification is ascribed to Faith alone, There the word Faith is still used by a Metonymy of the Antecedent for [Page 180] the Consequent, and does not signify ab­stractedly a meer Perswasion, but the Obedience of an Holy Life performed in the strength and vertue of such a Perswasion. Not that this Justifies meritoriously by a­ny inherent Worth or Value in it self, but instrumentally as a Condition appointed by God, upon the performance of which, He freely imputes to us Christ's Righ­teousness, which is the sole, proper, and formal Cause of our Justification. So that, That Instrumentality, which some, in the Business of Justification, attribute to one single Act of Credence, is by this ascribed to the whole aggregate Series of Gospel Obedience, as being that which gives us a Title to a perfect Righteousness without us, by which alone we stand justified before God. And this seems with full accord both to Scri­pture and Reason to state the Business of Justification by an equal poize both a­gainst the Arrogant Assertions of Self-Iusticiaries on the one hand, and the wild Opinions of the Antinomians on the o­ther.

[Page 181]But whether the Obedience of a Pious Life, performed out of a Belief, or Perswa­sion of the Truth of the Gospel, ought to pass for that Faith which Justifies, or only for the Effect or Consequent of it; yet certainly it is such an Effect as issues by a kind of con-natural, constant Efficiency and Result from it. So that how much soever they are distinguishable by their Respective Actions from one another, they are absolutely Inseparable by a mutual and a necessary Connexion: it belonging no less to the Faith which Justifies to be Operative, than to Justify: Indeed, upon an Essential Account, more; For as much as it is Operative by its Nature, but Justifies only by Institution.

Secondly, The second false Ground which some build upon, is a fond Reli­ance upon the goodness of their Heart, and the Honesty of their Intention. A profita­ble, and therefore a very prevailing fal­lacy: And such an one as the Devil sel­dom uses, but with success; It being one of his old and long experimented Fetches, by the Pretences of a Good [Page 182] Heart, to supplant the Necessity of a Good Life. But to alledge the Honesty of the Mind against the Charge of an E­vil Course, is a Protestation against the Fact, which does not Excuse, but En­hance its Guilt. As it would look like a very strange and odd Commendation of a Tree to Apologize for the Sourness of its Fruit, by pleading that all its good­ness lay in the Root.

But in the discourses of Reason, such is the weakness, and shortness of its Reach, that it seldom suggests Argu­ments à Priore for any Thing, but by a low and humble Gradation creeps from the Effects up to the Cause, because these first strike and Alarm the Senses; and therefore St. James speaks as good Phi­losophy as Divinity when He says, Iam. 2.18. Shew me thy Faith by thy Works. Every Action being the most lively Pourtraicture, and impartial Expression of its Efficient Principle, as the Com­plexion is the best Comment upon the Constitution. For in natural Productions [...]here is no Hypocrisy.

[Page 183]Only we must observe here, that Good and Evil Actions bear a very dif­ferent Relation to their Respective Prin­ciples. As it is between Truth and Falshood in Argumentation, So it is between Good and Evil in matters of Practice. For though from an Artifici­al contrivance of false Principles or Pre­mises may emerge a True Conclusion, yet from True Premises cannot ensue a False: So, though an Evil Heart may frame it self to the doing of an Action in its kind or Nature Good, yet a Renewed, Sanctified Principle cannot of its self design Actions really Vitious. The rea­son of which is, Because the former, in such a Case, acts upon a Principle of Dissimulation; and no Man by dissem­bling affects to appear worse than he is, but better. But all this while, I speak not of a single Action, but of a Conversation, or Course of Acting. For a Pious Man may do an Evil action upon Temptation or Surprize, but not by the Tenour of his standing Principles and Resolutions. But when a Mans [Page 184] Sin is his Business and the formed Pur­pose of his Life; and his Piety shrinks only into Meaning and Intention; When he tells me His heart is right with God, while his hand is in my Pocket, he up­braids my Reason, and outfaces the Common Principle of natural discourse with an Impudence equal to the Ab­surdity.

This therefore, I affirm, That he who places his Christianity only in his Heart, and his Religion in his Meaning, has fairly secured himself against a discovery in case he should have none; but yet, for all that, shall at the last find his Portion with those who indeed have none. And the Truth is, those who are thus in­tentionally Pious do in a very ill and un­toward sence verify that Philosophical Maxim, That what they so much pre­tend to be Chief, and First in their In­tention, is always Last (if at all) in the Execution.

Thirdly, The third, and last false ground, that I shall mention, upon which some Men build to their Confusion, is [Page 185] Party and Singularity. If an implicite Faith be (as some say) the Property of a Roman Catholick, then, I am sure, Popery may be found, where the name of Papist is adhorred. For what account can some give of their Religion, or of that Assurance of their Salvation (which they so much boast of) but that they have wholly resigned themselves up to the Guidance and Dictates of those, who have the Front, and Boldness to usurp the Title of the Godly. To be of such a Party, of such a Name, nay of such a sneaking look, is to some the very Spirit, and Characteristick mark of Christiani­ty.

See what St. Paul himself built upon before His Conversion to Christ, Acts 26.5. I was (says He) after the strictest Sect of our Religion a Pharisee. So that it was the Reputation of the Sect, upon which St. Paul then embarked His Sal­vation. Now the Nature of this Fra­ternity or Sect we may Learn from the Origination of their Name Pharisee; [Page 186] it being derived from Pa­rasch, separavit, discrevit, whence in Greek they were called [...]. Suidas. Again. [...]. Hesych. So that the Pharisees properly were and might be called the Jewish Cathari, or Puritans. [...], separa­ti. So that the Words a­mount to this, That St. Paul before He was a Christian, was a Rigid Separatist.

But Singularity is not Sincerity, tho' too often and mischievously mistaken for it; And as an House built upon the Sand is likely to be ruined by Storms; so an House built out of the Road is expos­ed to the Invasion of Robbers, and wants both the Convenience and Assistance of Society: Christ is not therefore called the Corner stone in the Spiritual building, as if He intended that His Church should consist only of Corners or be driven into them. There is a By-path as well as a Broad-way to Destruction. And it both argues the Nature, and portends the Doom of Chaff, upon Agitation to se­parate and Divide from the Wheat. But to such as Venture their Eternal Interest [Page 187] upon such a Bottom I shall only suggest these two Words.

First, That admitting, but not granting, that the Party which they ad­here to, may be truly Pious; yet the Piety of the Party cannot sanctify its Proselytes. A Church may be properly called Holy, when yet that Holiness does not diffuse it self to each particular Mem­ber: the Reason of which is, Because the whole may receive Denomination from a Quality inherent only in some of its Parts. Company may occasion, but it cannot transfuse. Holyness. No Mans Righteousness but Christs alone can be imputed to another. To rate a Man by the Nature of his Companions, is a Rule frequent indeed, but not In­fallible. Iudas was as much a Wretch amongst the Apostles, as amongst the Priests. And therefore it is but a poor Argument for a Man to derive his Saint­ship from the Vertues of the Society he belongs to, and to conclude himself no Weed, only because he grows amongst the Corn.

[Page 188] Secondly, Such an adhesion to a Party carries in it a strong suspicion and Tang of the rankest of all ill Qualities, Spiritual Pride. There are Two Things natural almost to all Men.

First, A desire of Preheminence in any Perfection, but especially Reli­gious. Secondly, A Spirit of Opposition or Contradiction to such as are not of their own Mind or Way. Now both these are eminently gratifyed by a Man's listing himself of a Party in Religion. And I doubt not but some are more really proud of the affected sordidness of a pretended Mortification, than others are of the greatest affluence, and splen­dor of Life: And that many who call the Execution of Law and Justice Per­secution, do yet suffer it with an Higher and more pleasing Relish of Pride, than others can inflict it. For it is not true Zeal rising from an Hearty concern­ment for Religion, but an ill, restless, cross humour, which is imped with Smart, and quickned with Opposition. The Godly Party is little better than a Con­tradiction [Page 189] in the Adjunct; for he who is truly Godly, is humble and peaceable, and will neither make, nor be of a Par­ty, according to the Common sence of that word. Let such Pretenders there­fore suspect the Sandiness and Hollowness of their Foundation; and know, that such Imitators of Corah, Dathan, and A­biram build upon the same Ground upon which they stood, and into which they sunk. And certainly that Man's Con­dition is very unsafe, who accounts his Sin his Perfection, and so makes the Object of his Repentance, the Ground of his Salvation.

And thus I have discovered some of those false and deceiving Grounds upon which many bottom their Eternal State, and by which they think themselves in the Direct way to Life, and Happiness while God knows they are in the High and Broad Road to Perdition.

Pass we now to the third thing proposed, which is to shew, Whence it is that such ill founded structures are, upon Tryal, sure to fall. For the Demonstration of which [Page 190] we must observe, that to the Vio­lent Dissolution of any Thing two Things concur. First, An assault or impression from without. Secondly, An inherent Weakness within. One is the Active, the other the Passive Principle of every Change. For so much as there is of Weakness, there is of Non-resistance, and so far as any Thing yields or not re­sists, the contrary Impression enters, and by degrees weakens, and at length destroys the subsistence of the Thing opposed.

As for the First of these, The force and opposition from without. It comes from the [...], the true common E­nemy, the implacable, insatiable De­vourer of Souls, the Devil; who will be sure to plant his Engines of battery against every Spiritual building which does but look towards Heaven. The opposition he makes, our Saviour here Emphatically describes by the Winds blowing, the Rain descending, and the Floods coming, which is not an insignifi­cant Rhetorication of the same Thing by several Expressions (like some Pulpit [Page 191] bombast made only to measure an Hour Glass) but an Exact Description of those Three methods, by which this assault of the Devil prevails and becomes Vi­ctorious.

First, The First is, That it is sud­dain and unexpected. The Devil usually comes upon the Soul as he fell from Hea­ven, like Lightning. And he shews no small Art and Policy by his so doing: For Quickness prevents Preparation, and so Enervates Opposition. It is obser­ved of Caesar that he did Plurima & maxima bella solâ celeritate conficere; So that almost in all his Expeditions he seldom came to any Place, but his Coming was before the Report of it. And we shall find, that the Roman Eagles owed most of their great Conquests as much to their Swiftness as to their Force. And the same is here the Devil's method in his Warfare against Souls. Upon which account also the same character that Tully gave the forementioned Caesar in his Epistles to Atticus, may much more fitly agree to him, That he is Monstrum hor­ribile [Page 192] Celeritatis & Vigilantiae. He flies to his Prey, he fetches his blow quick and sure. He can shoot a Temptation in a Glance, and convey the Poyson of his suggestions quicker than the agitation of thought, or the [...]rictures of Fancy. It is the suddain Trip in Wrestling that fetches a Man to the ground.

Thus St. Peter, that Giant in Faith, was shamefully foiled by a suddain though weak Assault. While he [...]its in the High Priest's hall warming himself and thinking nothing, one confounds him with this quick unexpected Charge, Matth. 26.69. Thou also wast with Ie­sus of Galilee. The surprize of the onset prevented his deliberating Powers from rallying together those succors of habitual Grace, which, being alarm'd by a more Gradual approach of the Temptation, would have easily repulsed it. But the Devil will never Caution the Soul in­to a posture of defence by presenting the Temptation at a Distance. He bites and shows his Teeth at the same instant; and so prevents the foresight of the Eye, by Exceeding it in Quickness.

[Page 193] Secondly, His assaults are furious, and impetuous. Temptations come very of­ten, as the Devil himself is said to do, in a Storm. And a Gust of Wind, as it rises on a suddain, so it rushes with Ve­hemence. And if the similitude does not yet speak high enough; to the Violence of a Storm the Text adds the Prevailing Rage of a Flood. And we know the Tyranny of this Element when it once embodies into a Torrent, and runs with the United Force of many Waters. It scorns all confinement and tears down the proudest Opposition, as Virgil fully describes it.

"—Rapidus montano flumine torrens,
"Sternit agros, sternit sata laeta, boum (que) labores.
"Praecipites (que) trahit Sylvas—

With a Parallel encounter does the Devil draw upon the poor fortifications of outward Civility, good Desires, imperfect Resolutions, and the like, which are no more able to abide the shock of such Bat­teries, than a morning dew is able to bear the scorching Fury of the Sun; or than [Page 194] such little banks as Children use to raise in sport, are able to stem or stand a­gainst the outragious breaking in of the Sea. Every Temptation has this Pro­perty of Water, either to insinuate, or to force its Way.

Thirdly, The Devil in his Assaults is restless and importunate. The Wind is here said not only to blow, but Empha­tically to beat upon the House. And as in a Tempest the Blasts are both suddain and Violent in their onset, so they are fre­quent in their Returns. Importunity is the Only Coaction that the Will knows. Where the Devil cannot perswade, he will, if he can, even weary into a con­sent. It is often Charging that wins the Field. The Tempter, if he is re­pulsed in a Battle, will lengthen his Assault into a Siege. For the mind may have often a suddain heat of Valour to repell the One, and yet not constancy to endure the Other. A rejected Proposal shall be reinforced with continual fresh supplies of more Urgent and repeated Perswasions.

[Page 195]See him Thrice renewing the Com­bat with our Saviour; and indeed after he has had the Impudence to begin a Temptation, it is always his Prudence to pursue it. Otherwise, opposition on­ly attempted serves not for Conquest, but Admonition. His assaults are here said to come like the Rain, and the Rain ne­ver falls in one single drop; and yet if it did, even a Drop would hollow and dig its way by frequency and assiduity.

It is observed by the Learned Veru­lam, What advantage bold and impor­tunate Men have over others, nay even so as to prevail upon Men of Wisdom and Rosolution, because, as he excellent­ly notes, The Wisest Men have their Weak times: And then I infer, that he who is Importunate at all Times, must needs catch them at those.

So when the Tempter continues his Importunity, and siege about a Soul, he has all these Advantages over it; As to view its strong-holds, and to spy where they are least fortifyed. To ob­serve the Intervals and Cessations of [Page 196] Duty. When Devotion Ebbs, and the Spiritual Guards draw off: When the Affections Revel, and slide into a Posture of security; and then to renew, and bring on the Assault a fresh, and so to force a Victorious entrance for his Temp­tations.

It is here, as with the Greeks before Troy; it was not their Armies, nor their Achilles, but their Ten Years Siege that got the Conquest. What a violent Flame cannot presently melt down, a constant, though a gentle heat will at length exhale. It is our known Duty to fight and resist the Devil; and we shall find that scarce any Temptation ever encounters the Soul without its se­cond.

So then, you see here the First Cause of this great Overthrow, namely, The Assault and Impression made from without by the Tempter; which in the next place is rendred Effectual by the Impo­tence and Non-resistance of the Soul, that is so opposed; which peculiarly answers his threefold Opposition with three Con­trary Qualifications.

[Page 197] First, As First, That it is frequent­ly unprepared. The Soul (God knows) is but seldom upon the Watch; Its Spi­ritual Armour is seldom buckled on. The Business, the Cares, and the Plea­sures of the World, draw it off from its own defence. Business imploys, Care distracts, and Pleasure lulls it asleep. And is this a Posture to receive an Ene­my in? An Enemy Cunning, Watch­ful, and Malicious? An Enemy who never sleeps, nor loyters, nor overlooks an advantage.

Secondly, As it is unprepared, so it is also weak and feeble. The Spirit (says our Saviour) is willing, but the Flesh is weak. And such is the Condition of Man in this World, that much more of Flesh than Spirit goes to his Constitution. Nay is not Grace it self described under the Weakness of smoaking Flax, or a bruised Reed? Of which how quickly is one Extinguished, and how easily is the o­ther broke!

Thirdly, As it is both unprepared, and weak; so it is also inconstant. Peter [Page 198] will die for his Master at one time, and not many Hours after deny, and forswear Him. Steadfastness is the Result of strength, and how then can Constancy dwell with weakness? The greatest strength of the mind is in its Resoluti­ons, and yet how often do they Change! Even in the weightiest concerns, Men too frequently put them on and off with their Cloaths. They deceive, when they are most trusted; suddainly starting, and flying in pieces like a broken bow; and like a bow again, even when strongest, they can hardly be kept always Bent. We see what fair and promising begin­ings some made, Luke 8.13. They heard the Word, they received it with joy, but ha­ving not Root, they believed only for a while, and so in Time of Temptation fell away.

Constancy is the Crowning Vertue. Matth. 10.22. He who endureth to the End shall be saved. But then Constancy and Perseverance are the gift of God, and above the Production of meer Nature; it being no small Paradox to imagine that where the stock it self is slight and [Page 199] infirm, any thing which grows out of it should be strong.

And thus having shewn the Threefold Impotence of the Soul answerable to the Threefold Opposition made against it by the Devil; What can we conclude? But that where Vnpreparedness is encountred with unexpected Force, Weakness with Vio­lence, Inconstancy with Importunity, there Destruction must needs be, not the Ef­fect of Chance, but Nature, and, by the closest connexion of Causes, unavoidable.

It now remains that in the Last place we shew, wherein the Greatness of this fall consists. The House fell and great was the Fall thereof. In short it may ap­pear upon these two accounts.

First, That it is scandalous, and diffuses a Contagion to others, and a blot upon Religion. A falling House is a bad Neighbour. It is the Property of Evil as well as of Good to be Com­municative. We still suppose the Build­ing here mentioned in the Text, to have had all the Advantages of visible Representment, all the Pomp and [Page 200] Flourish of external Ornament, a State­ly superstructure, and a Beautyful ap­pearance; and therefore such an one must needs Perish as remarkably as it stood. That which is seen afar off while it stands, is heard of much further when it Falls.

An Eminent Professor is the concern of a Whole Profession. As to Non-plus an Aristotle would look, not only like a Slur to a particular Philosopher, but like a Baffle to Philosophy it self.

The Devil will let a Man build and Practice high, that he may at length fetch him down with the greater shame; and so make even a Christian an Argument against Christianity. The subduing of any soul is a Conquest, but of such an One a Triumph. A signal Professor cannot Perish without a Train, and in his very Destruction his Example is Au­thentick.

Secondly, The Greatness of the Fall here spoken of appears also in this, That such an One is hardly and very rarely recovered. He whose House falls, [Page 201] has not usually either Riches or Heart to build Another. It is the Business of a Life once to build.

God indeed can cement the Ruins, and heal the Breaches of an Apostate Soul, but usually a shipwrack'd Faith and a defloured Conscience admit of no Repair. Like the Present time, which, when once gone, never returns.

What may be within the Compass of Omnipotence, the Secret of a Decree, or the Unlimited Strains of Extraordinary Grace, is not here disputed: But as it would be Arrogance for us Men to de­fine the Power of Grace; so it is the Height of Spiritual Prudence to observe its Methods. And upon such Observa­tion we shall find, that the Recovery of such Apostates is not the Custom but the Prerogative of Mercy.

A Man is ruin'd but once. A miscar­riage in the New-Birth is dangerous, and very Fatal it generally proves to pass the Critical Seasons of a defeated Conversion.

And thus I have at length dispatched, [Page 202] what [...] at first proposed. Now the Words themselves being (as I said be­fore) Christ's application of His Own Sermon, cannot be improved into a Better, and consequently need not into Another; except what their own natu­ral Consequence does suggest; and that is, What our Saviour Himself intimates elsewhere, Namely, That he who is a­bout to build, would first sit down and consider what it is like to cost him. For building is Chargeable, especially if a Man lays out his Money like a Fool Would a Man build for Eternity, that is in other words, Would he be Saved? Let him consider with himself, what charges he is willing to be at, that he may be so. Nothing under an Univer­sal, sincere Obedience to all the Precepts of the Gospel, can entitle him to the Benefits of it; and thus far and deep he must go, if he will lay his Foundation true. It is in hard and a Rocky work, I confess, but the difficulty of laying it will be abundantly recompenced by the Firmness of it when it is laid.

[Page 203]But it is a sad and mortifying Conside­ration to think upon what false and sink­ing Grounds, or rather upon what Whirle­pools and Quicksands many venture to build. Some you shall have amusing their Con­sciences with a set of Phantastical New-Coin'd Phrases, such as Laying hold on Christ, getting into Christ, and rolling them­selves upon Christ, and the like: by which if they mean any Thing else but obeying the Precepts of Christ, and a Rational hope of Salvation thereupon, (which, it is certain, that generally they do not mean) it is all but a Iargon of empty, senseless Metaphors; and though many venture their Souls upon them, despising good works and strict living as meer Mora­lity and perhaps as Popery, yet being throughly look'd into and examined, af­ter all their Noise, they are really no­thing but Words, and Wind.

Another flatters himself that he has lived in full Assurance of his Salvation for Ten, or Twenty, or perhaps Thirty years; that is, in other Words, The Man has been Ignorant, and Confident very long.

[Page 204]Ay, but saies another, I am a great Hearer and Lover of Sermons, (especially of Lectures.) And it is this which is the very delight of my Righteous Soul, and the main business of my Life; and though indeed according to the good old Puritan Custom, I use to walk, and talk out the Prayers before the Church Door, or without the Choire, yet I am sure to be always in at Sermon. Nay, I have so entirely devoted my whole Time to the hearing of Sermons, that I must Confess, I have hardly any left to Practise them. And will not all this set me right for Heaven? Yes, no doubt, if a Man were to be pulled up to Heaven by the Ears; or the Gospel would but reverse its Rule, and declare That not the Doers of the Word, but the Hearers only should be justify'd.

But then in comes a fourth, and tells us, That He is a Saint of yet an higher Class, as having got far above all their Mean, Beggerly, Steeple-house Dispensations, by an happy Exchange of them for the Purer and more Refined Ordinances of [Page 205] the Conventicle; where he is sure to meet with Powerful Teaching indeed, and to hear Will-worship and Superstition runn'd down, And the Priests of Baal paid off, and the Follies and Fopperies of their great Idol the Common-Prayer laid open with a Witness, (not without some Edifying Flings at the King and Court too, some­times) by all which his Faith is now grown so Strong, that he can no more doubt of his going to Heaven, than that there is such a Place as Heaven to go to.

So that if the Conscience of such an One should at any time offer to grumble at Him, He would presently stop its Mouth with this, That he is of such an Ones Congregation. And then, Conscience say thy worst. Or if the guilt of some old Perjuries or Extortions should begin to look stern upon Him: Why then all those old scores shall be cleared off with a Comfortable Perswasion, That such as he cannot fall from Grace, though it is shrewdly to be feared, That his only way of proving this must be, That there can be no losing or falling from that which a Man never had.

[Page 206]But ah! Thou Poor, Blind, Self-de­luding, and Deluded Soul! are these the best Evidences thou hast for Heaven? These the Grounds upon which thou hopest for Salvation? Assure thy self that God will deal with thee upon very different Terms.

For he absolutely enjoins thee to do whatsoever Christ has Commanded; and to avoid whatsoever He has forbidden. And Christ has commanded thee to be poor in Spirit, and to be pure in Heart. To subdue thy unruly Appetites, to curb thy Lust, to restrain thy Anger, and to sup­press thy Revenge. And if any thing proves an hindrance to thee in thy Duty, though it be as dear to thee as thy Right Eye, to pluck it out; and as useful to thee as thy Right Hand, to cut it off and cast it from thee. He will have thee ready to endure Persecutions, Revilings, and all manner of Slanders, not only patiently, but also chearfully for the Truths sake. He calls upon thee to Love thine Enemies, and to do Good for Evil: To bless those that Curse thee, and to pray for those that Despite­fully [Page 207] use thee. He Commands thee in all Things, strictly to do as thou wouldest be done by; and not to cheat, lye, or over­reach thy Neighbour; and then call it a fetching over the Wicked, the better to enable thee to relieve the Godly. He will not al­low thee to resist Evil, and much less to resist thy Governour. He commands thee to be Charitable without Vain-Glory, and Devout without Ostentation. In short, He requires thee to be meek and lowly, chast and temperate, just and merciful; and in a word (so far as the poor measures of Humanity will reach) Perfect as thy Heavenly Father is Perfect.

This is the summ of those Divine Sayings of our Saviour, which he himself refers to in my Text, and which if a Man Hears and Does, all the Powers of Hell shall never shake him. And nothing but a constant, impartial, universal Pra­ctice of these will or can speak Peace to thy Conscience here, and stand between Thee and the Wrath of God hereafter. As for all other Pretences, they are no­thing but Death and Damnation, dressed [Page 208] up in Fair Words and False Shews; no­thing but Ginns, and Snares, and Tre­pans for Souls; Contrived by the Devil, and Managed by such as the Devil sets on Work.

But I have done, and the Result of all that I have said, or can say is, That every Spiritual Builder would be per­swaded to Translate his Foundation from the Sand to the Rock; and not presume upon Christ as his Saviour, till by a full Obedience to His Laws, he has owned Him for his Sovereign. And this is pro­perly to Believe in Him: This is truly to Build upon a Rock; even that Rock of Ages, upon which, every one that wears the Name of Christ, must by an inevitable Dilemma, either Build, or Split.

Now to God, who is able to Build us up in our most Holy Faith, to Establish us here, and to Save us hereafter, be ren­dred and ascribed as is most Due, all Praise, Might, Majesty, and Domini­on, both now and for evermore. Amen.

A True State and Account OF THE Plea of a Tender Conscience. IN A SERMON Preached at Christ-Church, Oxon. before the University, IN Michaelmass Term, 1672.

1 COR. VIII.12.

But when ye Sin so against the Bre­thren, and Wound their Weak Conscience, ye Sin against Christ.

I Shall by God's Assistance from these words debate the Case of a Weak, or (as some improperly enough call it) a Tender Conscience: And with what Evi­dence I can, shew both what it is, and what Privileges it may justly claim from this and such other places of Scripture. One great one we have here set down, and that indeed so great, that it looks more like a Prerogative than a Privilege. Namely, that to Wound or Sin against it, is no less a Crime than to Sin against Christ Himself.

Our Apostle in two places of his E­pistles treats professedly of this Argu­ment: To wit in the 14th of the Rom. [Page 212] and in this 8th of the 1 Cor. For the better understanding of his design and meaning in both which places, it [...]ill be requisite to give some brief account of the Subject Matter, and Occasion of them. In the 14th Chapter of the Rom. he speaks of such as had been Converted from Judaism to Christianity; some of which being but new Converts, were not yet so perfectly and entirely Chri­stians, but that they still observed the Ordinances of the Mosaical Law, as sup­posing it still in Force. Others on the contrary, being more confirmed and grown up in the knowledge of their Christian Liberty, and thereby being fully satisfyed, that the Ceremonial part of the Mosaick Law was abolish'd and took away, observed not that difference of Days and Meats which was prescribed in that Law, but look'd upon one Day as another, and indifferently ate any kind of Meats, being perswaded in their Conscience, that Christ had took away all such distinction, and made the use of all Lawful. Nevertheless, the former [Page 213] sort of Converts not understanding, that it was the Design of Christianity to abro­ga [...]e any thing once established by Moses, had their Consciences still in Bondage to a Religious Observation of whatsoever had been enjoyned in his Law. And thereupon, though they owned Christ, yet if any Meat prohibited by Moses was set before them, they held them­selves bound rather to fast, or to eat on­ly Herbs, than by eating such Meat, to break the Law (as they thought) and thereby to Defile themselves. This was their Case.

But in this 8th Chapter of 1 Cor. St. Paul speaks of Persons newly Con­verted from Idolatry, and that touching the Lawfulness or Unlawfulness of eat­ing Meats offered to Idols. Concerning which offerings we must know, that be­sides what was eaten of them in the Idols Temple, (which eating was an Act of Religious Worship and Communion with the Idol, as our eating the Bread in the Sacrament is a Communion with Christ) besides this I say, there was a certain [Page 214] Portion of those Sacrifices which fell to the Priests, and which they having no use of, sold to those, who afterwards exposed it to [...]ale promiscuously amongst other Meats upon the Shambles, from whence it was accordingly bought up and spent in private Families, without any distin­ction whether it had, or had not been offered to Idols. Now, as for the for­mer way of eating Meats thus offered, namely, in the Idols Temple; this the Apostle utterly disallows as absolutely Unlawful; But the latter only under some Circumstances. For he allows that it might be lawfully bought amongst other Meat in the Market, and being so bought might be eaten in any private House without the least Sin. Only with this Caution; That whereas there were some, who well understood, that Meat could have no defiling quality im­printed upon it by its Consecration to an Idol, And others on the contrary, having not so much knowledge, supposed that the Consecration of it to the Idol, left upon it such a Polluting quality and near [Page 215] Relation to the Idol as defiled the Eater, The former sort might freely and Inno­cently eat such Meats in private Families, provided it was not before those of the latter sort; who through weakness ha­ving an Opinion of the Unlawfulness of such Meats, might nevertheless be in­duced to use the same Liberty, though their Consciences, in the mean time, ha­ving quite another Judgment in this matter, esteemed the eating them little better than Idolatry. Now the Argu­ment by which the Apostle abridges the liberty of the former sort of Converts in condescension to those of the latter sort, proceeds upon the strength of this Asser­tion; That the Lawfulness of Men's Actions, depends not solely either upon the lawfulness of their subject matter, nor yet upon the Conscience of the doers of them considered in it self, but as con­sidered with reference to the Consci­ences of others; to whom by the law of Charity they stand bound so to behave themselves, as by none of their Actions to give them occasion of Sin. And this [Page 216] was the Case of the Persons here treated of by the Apostle in this Chapter. Which Historical account of the subject matter of the words being thus premised, I shall cast the prosecution of them un­der these Three Heads.

  • 1. I shall shew what a Weak Con­science is.
  • 2. What it is to Wound or Sin a­gainst it.
  • 3. I shall lay down some Conclu­sions or Assertions, naturally resulting from the foregoing Particulars.

And First for the first of these what a Weak Conscience is. I said at first that such a Conscience was improperly called Tender: which in the sense it commonly bears, is an expression of our own framing, and no where to be met with in the Scriptures; Tenderness ap­plyed to Conscience properly imports quickness and exactness of sense, which is the Perfection of this Faculty, whose duty it is to be Spiritual Watch to give us warning of whatsoever concerns us. It is indeed the Eye of the Soul; and [Page 217] though the Eye is naturally the most tender and delicate part of the Body, yet it is not therefore called Weak, so long as its sight is quick and strong. Consci­ence, the more sensible it is to accuse or ex­cuse (which is its office) and to spy out every little thing which may annoy or defile the Soul, so much the more Tender it is to be accounted, but not therefore so much the more Weak: which suffici­ently shews, Weakness and Tenderness of Conscience, to be in strictness of speech two different things. And the same ap­pears yet further from those Contraries, to which they stand Respectively opposed. A Tender Conscience being opposed to a Hard or Seared Conscience: Such a one as either wholly or in a great measure has lost the distinguishing sence of Good and Evil, Honest and Dishonest. But a Weak Conscience is opposed to a Strong: Which very strength (we shew) consisted in the Tenderness or Quickness of its discerning or Perceptive Power, where­upon we read of Strong Men and Babes in Christ; which denominations take their [Page 218] Rise from the strength or weakness of the Conscience. For such as the Con­science is, such must be the Christian.

And here, let none think my Insisting upon the distinction of these Terms ei­ther Nice or Needless: For it is no small Artifice of Fraud to prepossess the Minds of Men, by representing a bad thing under a good Name, and calling Weakness of Conscience which is a de­fect, by the Name of Tenderness which is a Perfection. Words govern the Ge­nerality of the World, who seldom go [...] deep as to look into Things: And Impostors well know how likely their Cause is to succeed, if their Terms can but once be admitted.

As for the Place now before us; it is evident, that the weakness of Conscience here spoken of is opposed to Faith. So that in Rom. 14. Such an one is said to be Weak in the Faith, and v. 2. One [Believeth] that he may eat all things; another who is [Weak] eateth Herbs. Where observe that He who believeth, is opposed to him who is Weak. Now by [Page 219] Faith here is not meant that act or qua­lity by which a Man is justified, but signifies the same with Knowledge. As 1 Cor. 8.10. If any Man see thee who hast [Knowledge] sit at meat in the Idols Tem­ple, shall not the Conscience of Him who is weak be emboldened to do so too? And in v. 7. Howbeit there is not in every Man this [Knowledge] for some with Conscience of the Idol eat it as a thing offered to an Idol, and their Conscience being [Weak] is defiled. So that, as in that Chapter to the Ro­mans, Weakness of Conscience is opposed to Faith: here in this Chapter to the Corinthians the same Weakness is opposed to Knowledge. Which from the Identity of the Case treated of in both Places, together with other Circumstances, E­vidently demonstrate Faith and Know­ledge to be here taken for the same thing. In short therefore the Faith here spoken of is a clear Knowledge of what is Vnlaw­ful, and what only Indifferent, together with a firm perswasion of the Lawful use of such Indifferent Things, all Cir­cumstances being duly observed in the [Page 220] using of them. And therefore on the other side, the Weak Conscience is such an one, as judges otherwise of the Na­ture of Things, than indeed it is, sup­posing that to be unlawful in it self, which really is not so, and thereupon abstaining from the use of it, as of a thing Unlawful.

From whence it follows that Weak­ness of Conscience implies in it these three things.

  • First, An Ignorance of the Law­fulness of some certain thing or Action.
  • Secondly, A suspicion ensuing there­upon of its Vnlawfulness.
  • Thirdly, A Religious fear to use or Practise it, grounded upon that Igno­rance or suspicion.

And first, for the first of these Ingredients, Ignorance: which is indeed the chief and principal of all the three, as being the Original of the other Two. Concerning this we must (as the ground­work of all) observe, that it ought by all means to be such an Ignorance, as may in Propriety of Speech and sence [Page 221] bear the Denomination of Weakness. Which it is certain that every sort of Ig­norance neither does nor can. For since Weakness is properly the Privation or Absence of Power. That Ignorance only can receive this Name, which is not founded upon any Vitious Action or Omission of the Will. I say Action or Omission. For a Man may either po­sitively design and will the Ignorance of a Thing, by studiously avoiding all means to inform himself of it; much like the shuting of ones Eyes against the Light, or re [...]using to come to Church. Or it may be founded upon some Omis­sion; as when the will, though it does not designedly avoid and put from it the means of Knowledge, yet neglects to look after them. Now the Ignorance which is Occasioned either of these ways is Willing, and consequently Sinful: Though usually for distinction sake the former is with more Emphasis termed not only Willing but Willfull; as being the direct object of an Act of Volition, and upon that Account stamp'd with an higher Aggravation.

[Page 222]That Ignorance therefore that ren­ders and denominates the Conscience Weak, must be such an one as is not Willing; which is Evident upon a double account.

First, Because it must be such an one, as renders it in some degree excusable; but so far as any defect is resolved into the will, it is in that degree inexcusable.

Secondly, Because it must be such an Ignorance as renders the Person having it, the object of Pity and Compassion. But no Man Pities another for any Evil ly­ing upon Him, which he would not help, but which he could not. One is his Bur­den, the other his Choice; Vertually at least, since he might have Chosen its Prevention. So that it must be such an Ignorance, as is not (all Circumstances considered) under the present power of a Man's Will to remedy. And Conse­quently it must be resolved into one of these two Causes.

  • First, The Natural weakness of the understanding faculty.
  • [Page 223] Secondly, The want of opportuni­ties or means of Knowledge.

[...]ther of which makes Ignorance Ne­cessary; as it is Impossible for Him to see who wants Eyes, and Equally Im­possible for Him who wants Light; the former being the Organ, the other the Means of Seeing. But as touching the Natural weakness or disability of the un­derstanding faculty, we must observe, that this may be either Total, as in case of Ideotism, Phrensy, or the like; which wholly deprives a Man of the use of his Reason: but Persons in this Con­dition fall not under the present Consi­deration. or Secondly, this disability of the understanding may be only in part, and as to a certain degree of its exercise. From whence it is, that one Man appre­hends the same thing under the same ad­vantages of Proposal much more slowly and difficultly than Another. Which de­fect being in no Man's Power to pre­vent, but coming with him into the World; all that Ignorance, which is inevi­tably caused by it, neither can, nor ever [Page 224] shall be charged upon the Will. But then withal, as this defect does not whol­ly deprive a Man of the Power of k [...]w­ing, but only of the Readiness, Easiness, and Quickness of it; (upon which account Knowledge becomes more difficult to him in the Acquisition); So this Weak­ness, Dullness, or Slowness of a Man's Intellectual Powers, can never totally excuse Him for being Ignorant of what it was his Duty to know; since it was in the Power of his Will by Labour and Industry to have supplied (and as it were) to have pieced up these Failures in his Apprehension; and so at length, to have acquired the Knowledge of that by Study and Pains, which he could not by the Slowness of his Understanding take in at first.

But then, this must be also confessed, that by reason of this diversity in the quickness or slowness of Men's Under­standings; one Man may be sooner in­excusable for his Ignorance of the same thing than another. For God will allow a Man of slower Parts to be Ignorant of [Page 225] a thing longer than a Person endued with more Quick and Pregnant Sence. He [...]ects from Men only according to the Proportions of his giving to them; still making an Equality and Commensura­tion between a Man's Obligations and his Powers. And thus much for the first and grand Ingredient of Weakness of Conscience which is Ignorance.

Secondly, The Second is a suspicion of the Unlawfulness of any Thing or Action. And this is manifestly some­thing more than a bare Ignorance of its Lawfulness. Though indeed such an Ignorance is of it self enough to make the forbearance of any Thing or Action necessary. For as much as nothing ought to be done but in Faith; that is in a full perswasion of the Lawfulness of what we do. Which he can be no more said to do, who is Ignorant of the Lawful­ness of what he goes about, than he who suspects it to be Unlawful. How be it this suspicion adds to the guilt of the Action, in case it be done during its con­tinuance. Because all suspicion is ground­ed [Page 226] upon some Arguments, which leave not the Opinion of the Lawfulness or Un­lawfulness of a Thing Equal, as in [...] of meer Ignorance, but rather encline us to a belief that it is Unlawful. For it is one thing not to know whether a Thing be Lawful, another to doubt and shrewd­ly to suspect that it is not so. Now this indeed is the usual Concomitant of Weakness of Conscience, as being the natural product of Ignorance, which seldom stops in it self: Men in the dark being generally fearful and apt to suspect the worst. But yet this suspicion is not essentially requisite to make a Conscience Weak; though where it is so, it makes that Weakness greater and more trouble­some. For Ignorance is properly that in which this Weakness consists. Igno­rance makes the fore, suspicion inflames it.

Thirdly, The third and last thing that goes to the making up of this Weakness of Conscience, is a Religious Abstinence from the use of that thing of the Lawful­ness whereof it is thus Ignorant or Sus­picious. [Page 227] It brings a Man to that Con­dition in the 2d of Coloss. and the 21st v. [...] Touch not, Taste not, Handle not. It lays a tie and a restraint upon his Practice, and enslaves him to the Prejudice of a mistaking Conscience, under no less a Penalty than that of the Divine Wrath and Eternal Damnation; Bonds not to be shook off, and Fences not to be broke through by any one who values the Eternal Welfare of his Soul.

Now from these three things put to­gether, I conceive, we may collect this full description of a Weak Conscience. Namely, that it is such an one, as obliges a Man to forbear any Thing or Action, from a suspicion that it is Unlawful, or at least an Ignorance that it is Lawful; which suspicion or Ignorance was not caused or occasioned by his own Will, but either by the natural Weakness of his Understanding, or the want of such means of Knowledge, as were absolutely necessary to inform Him.

This description ought well to be ob­served and remembred in the several Parts [Page 228] of it, as being that which must give light into all the following Particulars.

And thus much for the first thing p [...] ­posed, which was to shew, what this Weak Conscience is. I proceed now to the

Second, Which is to shew, what it is to Wound or Sin against it. It implies I conceive these two Things.

First, To grieve, afflict, or discom­pose it; or, in a word, to Rob it of its Peace. For there is that concernment for God's Honour dwelling in every truly Pious Heart, which makes it troubled at the Sight of any Action by which it supposes God to be dishonoured. Rivers of Tears (saies David) run down my Eyes because Men keep not thy Statutes; and am I not grieved with those who rise up against Thee? Every Sin directly strikes at God, but collaterally the scandal of it reaches all about us. And as Piety Commands us not to Offend God, so Charity en­joyns us not to Grieve our Neighbour.

Secondly, The other Thing implyed in the Wounding of a Weak Conscience, [Page 229] is to encourage or embolden it to act something against its present Judgment o [...] Perswasion: which is in other terms, to offend, or cast a stumbling-block before it. That is, to do something, which may ad­minister to it an occasion of falling, or bringing it self under the guilt of Sin. So that as the former was a breach upon the Peace, this is properly a wound upon the Purity of the Conscience.

Now the Conscience may be induced to Act counter to its present perswasion, two ways.

1st, By Example, 2d, By Command.

First. And first for Example; which is the Case here expressly mentioned, and Principally intended. According to that of the Apostle in the 10th v. of this 8th of 1 Cor. where he says, that the Conscience of Him who is Weak, is Embolden'd to Eat things offer'd to Idols, by seeing Him who has Knowledge sit at Meat in the Idols Temple: So that it is the seeing of another do so, which makes the Weak Person conclude that he may do so too. Now the Reason of that per­swasive force which is in Example, is from [Page 230] a kind of Implicit Faith in the Goodness and Lawfulness of anothers Actings, grounded upon a supposall of his Piety and Judgment, which in the Weak Conscience of One, who beholds Him, naturally frames such a kind of Ratioci­nation as this. ‘I, for my part, by the best of my Understanding can be no way satisfyed of the Lawfulness of my doing such an Action, nevertheless such an one whom I esteem a Per­son truly Pious and more Judicious than my self, makes no scruple of doing it at all, which surely he would, if it were indeed Unlawful: And therefore if it be Lawful for him to do thus and thus, why may it not be so likewise for me, albeit my own Reason, I confess, would perswad [...] me otherwise?’

So that here is the force of Example to Perswade, and thereby in this Case to Wound; in that it induces a Man to Act by an Implicit Faith in the private Judg­ment of another, against the express Dictates and Perswasions of his own. A thing directly against the Law of God [Page 231] and Nature, which has appointed every Man's Reason or Conscience to be the Immediate Guide or Governour of his Actions.

Secondly. The second way by which the Conscience may be induced to Act contrary to its present Perswasion, is by Command; as when a Person in Power enjoyns the doing something, of the Law­fulness of which a Man is not perswaded: But concerning this, these two things are to be observed.

First. That it is not so clear that a meer Command can Wound the Conscience this way; that is, by emboldening it to Act against its present Perswasion: For so to embolden it, is to make it Willing to Act in this manner; but a Command as such, makes not a Man willing to do the Thing Commanded, but lays only an Obligation upon the Action that is to be done. Nevertheless since a Command seldom comes proposed Naked in it self, but with the Conjunction of Reward up­on Performance of the thing Command­ed, or of Penalties upon the Omission; [Page 232] one whereof works upon a Man's hopes, the other upon his fears; by both of which ways, the will of Man is apt to be prevailed upon; therefore in this sence a Command enjoyning a Man to do something against his Judgment, may be said to Wound his Conscience: not as a bare Command (for so it has nothing to allure or gain the Will, (and it is certain that it cannot force it) but as a Command attended with those Things which are apt to entice and gain upon it. Add to this also, that a Com­mand coming from a Person noted for his Piety and Knowledge has the force of an Example: For as much as the Re­putation of the Person derives the same Credit upon his Law.

Secondly. The other Thing here to be observed, is that a Command may be considered two ways.

First, As descending from one private Person upon another, as from a Father upon a Son, from a Master upon his Servant, from a Guardian upon his Pu­pil, or the like. And I question not but the Principal Design of the Apostle [Page 233] in this Chapter extends not beyond pri­vate Persons; but directly proposes rules only for the Charitable and Inoffensive de­portment of one private Person towards another. Nevertheless, since by manifest Analogy of Reason, the Case of Magi­strates or publick Persons may here come into Consideration; Therefore in the

Second Place [...]a Command may be Considered as descending from a Magi­strate or Publick Person upon Persons under his Jurisdiction: and so I affirm that the Supreme Magistrate in the making of Laws, or giving out Com­mands, stands not under any obligation from his Office to frame those Laws to the Good or Advantage of any Particular Persons, but only of the Community or Majority of the People, which are properly the Trust Committed to Him. So that if his Reason or Conscience, up­on the best Information he can get, tells Him that the making of such or such a Law tends to the good of these, and that so apparently that without it they would be unavoidably hurt in matters [Page 234] of the greatest Moment: if this Law now becomes an occasion of Sin to some particular Persons, its being so is wholly accidental and extrinsick to the design of the Law and consequently concerns not the Civil Magistrate, nor makes Him chargeable with those Sins in the least. For surely where the Publick good of all or most of the People, comes into Competition with the Private good of some Particulars, so that both cannot possibly be served by the same means, There Charity as well as bare Reason, will teach, that the Private must stoop to the Publick rather than the Publick be made a Sacrifice to the Private. In God's Government of the World it is the Publick concern of Mankind, that there should be Summer and Winter in their respective Seasons, and yet there are Millions of Sick and Weak Persons to whose distempers the approach of ei­ther of those Seasons will prove certainly Mortal. Is it now think we rational that God should suspend a Summer or a Winter only to comply with the dis­temper [Page 235] of those Crazy, Bodily-Weak Bre­thren and thereby to incommode all the World besides?

The case is much alike here, However this indeed must be confessed, that if the Magistrate or Supreme Power, should make a Law which he knew would be a direct occasion of Sin to the Genera­lity or Majority of his People, the making of such a Law would be in Him a Sin and a Breach of his Trust: but still I affirm that his Office obliges Him only to provide for the good of the main Body of his People; and if it so falls out, that Particulars come to have an In­terest distinct from, or opposite to that, he is not, during such its opposition, at all bound to regard or Provide for it: Nor to answer for the Inconveniences which may attend such Persons either in their Civil or Spiritual Concerns.

And thus much concerning the se­cond Thing proposed, which was to shew what it is to Wound or Sin against a Weak Conscience, namely that it is either to grieve it, or to embolden it to Sin. And if [Page 236] it be now objected against this, that the Text calls a Sinning against a Weak Consci­ence, a Sinning against Christ, to whom we can no ways properly be said to admini­ster any occasion, or inducement to Sin. I answer that this expression of [Sinning against] being applyed to Christ, imports only a grieving or disobeying Him: Though, as it is applyed to the Weak Conscience it signifies the other Thing too. It being not unusual in Scripture for the same word to be repeated in the very same sentence under a diverse sig­nification. Having thus finished the two first Things, I come now to the

Third and last, which is to set down those Conclusions, which by way of Consequence, and Deduction naturally result from the foregoing Particulars. Which Conclusions are these.


That no Man having been brought up, or for any length of time continued in the Communion of a Church, Teach­ing and Professing the true Religion; if he have but also the common use of [Page 237] his Reason, can justly plead Weakness of Conscience in the Sence in which it was here used by the Apostle.


That as such Weakness of Conscience can upon no sufficient ground be Actual­ly pleaded, so upon much less can it be continued in.


That supposing it might be both plead­ed and continued in, yet the Plea of it ought by no means to be admitted by the civil Magistrate in prejudice of any laws either actually made or to be made by Him, for the General good of his People. Of each of which in their or­der.

First. And first for the first of these. That no Man, &c. This conclusion is of so much force and use rightly applyed, that it is a wonder it has not been more insisted upon, against those who disturb the Church with this Plea, for as much as it would wholly cashier and pluck it up by the very Roots. And Men mistake the Method of disputing with these pre­tenders [Page 238] to Weak Consciences now adays; not considering that the very supposition that they either have or can have [...] [...]eak Conscience ought by no means to be granted them; nor are we to debate with them, how far and to what degree this their Weakness ought to be yielded to, but absolutely to deny, that amongst us, and under our circumstances there is any such thing.

St. Paul indeed speaks of such a Con­science in those first times of Preaching the Gospel, and accordingly urges a com­pliance with it, but where the cases are wholly different, there the Privileges applicable to both cannot be the same. In both these places in which this A­postle treats of this matter, I shew that the Persons to whom he addresses Himself were but new Converts. Some of which were just converted and come off from Judaism, whose Reverence to the Law of Moses had been sucked in by them with their very Milk, and been still kept up in the Minds of all that People, to that strange heighth almost of Ado­ration, [Page 239] that it is no wonder if their Opi­nion of the continuance of that Law even [...]fter Christ's Death, and their Ig­norance of its Abrogation, were for a time invincible. And for the other sort of new Converts, they were such as had been converted from Heathenism and Idolatry, and consequently looked upon every thing in use amongst those Heathens with a suspicion and a jealousy so strong, that considering the Weakness of Humane Nature, it was impossible pre­sently to remove it; and therefore they were in Charity for some time to be com­plyed with. For as the prejudices and prepossessions of Education are exceeding hardly removed and broke, so being once broke, the Aversions of the Mind from them, running into the other ex­treme, are altogether as impetuous and as hardly governable by impartial Rea­son; whereupon shadows are oftentimes mistook for substances, whilst Men through immoderate fearfulness first create to themselves appearances of Evil, and then fly from them.

[Page 240]But what is all this to the Case of those now adays amongst us? who from their Cradle have, or mig [...] have had the Principles of True Religion instilled into them; who have still grown up in a Church which protests against Idolatry and Superstition; and enjoins nothing that has any just appearance of such things upon it, but offers to vin­dicate every thing practised and enjoyn­ed by it from any such imputation: these Men surely can have no Reason to en­tertain those Jealousies and Prejudices which possessed Men, who had been bred up all their days in Iudaism or Idolatry, and were but newly converted from it. Especially if we add this also, that the Goodness of God makes nothing our Duty either to believe or practise, but what lies plain and obvious to any com­mon apprehension, which will not be wanting to it self. Which things since the Church Inculcates to all within it, teaching them to know by all the ordi­nary means of Knowledge whatsoever it is their Duty to know; it is evident, [Page 241] that no Man amongst us can justifiably plead Weakness of Conscience in that se [...]e, in which their Consciences were Weak, whom St. Paul deals with either in that Epistle of his to the Romans, or in this to the Corinthians. For can any Man living in the Church alledge any tolerable cause why he should be Igno­rant of his Catechism, a thing so short and plain, and yet so full as to all things neces­sary to be believ'd or practised by a Chri­stian, that common Sence, and common In­dustry may make any one a Master of it?

The summ of all therefore is this, That he only can plead Weakness of Conscience upon Scripture Grounds, who is excusably Ignorant of some Point of Duty or Privilege. He only is ex­cusably Ignorant, whose Ignorance is not the Effect of his Will. That Ignorance only is not so, which is caused either by want of Ability of Understanding, or of Opportunities and Means of Knowledge. But he who has the common use of Rea­son has sufficient Ability, and he who lives in a Church Professing the true [Page 242] Religion, has sufficient Opportunity and Means of knowing, whatsoever [...]on­cerns him either to know or do.

From a joint Connexion and an una­voidable Coherence of which Propositions one with another, it clearly appears, that it is not Weakness but Want of Conscience, which is the true Distemper of those Per­sons who at this day disturb the Church.

Secondly. The second Assertion or Con­clusion was this. That as such Weakness of Conscience can upon no sufficient ground be actually pleaded, so upon much less can it be continued in. This must needs be confessed by all, that a Weak Conscience in the Apo­stle's sence is an Imperfection, and conse­quently ought by all means to be removed or laid down. For as certainly as growth and proficiency in Knowledge under the means of Grace is a Duty, so certainly is it a Duty not to persist in this Weakness of Conscience, which has its foundation only in the defect of such Knowledge. So that St. Paul himself who is here willing, that for the present it should be complyed with, elsewhere upbraids and reprehends [Page 243] Men sharply for continuing under it. As in the 1st of Cor. the 3d Chap. and the [...], and 3d. verses. He calls such Babes, and such as were to be Fed with Milk, and not with Meat. And to shew yet further the Imperfection of this Estate, he says, that upon this account he could not treat them as Spiritual Persons, but as Carnal. The same Reprehension he re­peats in Heb. 5.12. Where he again upbraids them with this Appellation of Babes, telling them that whereas for the time they ought to have been Teachers of o­thers, they continued in their Spiritual Child­hood so long, that they had need, that one taught them again which were the first prin­ciples of the Oracles of God. And to shew that these were such Weak Consciences as we are here discoursing of, in the 14th v. He opposes them to such as were of full Age, and that by reason of use, had their Senses exercised to discern both Good and Evil. The want of which discernment is pro­perly that thing wherein this Weakness of Conscience does consist. Whereupon the Apostle in the next Chapter calls upon [Page 244] such to go on to Perfection; which surely implies, that this their present Condi­tion was not the Perfection which they were to rest in.

And it were worth the while, in our Contest with the Pretenders to Weak or Tender Consciences amongst us, to enquire of them, how long they think it fit for them to continue Weak? and whether they look upon their Weakness and Igno­rance as their Free-hold, and as that which they resolve to keep for term of Life, and to live and die Babes in the Know­ledge of the Religion they Profess, to to grow up into Childhood, and at length go out of the World Infants and Weak­lings of Threescore or Fourscore Years Old?

This certainly they must intend; for so far are they from looking upon that Weak­ness or Tenderness of Conscience which they plead, as an Imperfection, and con­sequently to be out grown or removed by them, that they own it as a Badge of a more Refined and Advanced Piety, and of such a growth and Attainment in the ways of God, that they look [Page 245] down upon all others as Christians of a lower form, as Moral Men, and Igno­rant of the Mystery of the Gospel: Words which I have often heard from these Impostors, and which infallibly shew, that the Persons whom St. Paul dealt with, and those whom we contend with, are not the same kind of Men: for as much as they own not the same Duty. But that (it seems) which was the In­fancy and Defect of those Persons, must pass for the perfection, and really is the design of these. And whereas St. Paul said to the former, that if they doubted they were damned if they ate, these (for ought appears) account it Damnation not to doubt; where doubting of their Duty may prove a serving of their Interest.

I proceed now to the third and last Conclusion. Which is this: ‘That sup­posing this weakness of Conscience might be both pleaded and continued in, yet the Plea of it ought by no means to be admitted by the Civil Magistrate in prejudice to any Laws either Actu­ally made or to be made by Him for the [Page 246] General Good of his People. This was sufficien [...]ly manifest in what I laid down before: to wit, that the Magistrate is [...] ways obliged to frame his Laws to the good of any particular Persons, where it stands separate from the good of the Community or Majority of the People. Which consideration alone though it be sufficient to discharge the Magistrate from any obligation to admit of such Pleas, yet there are other and more forcible rea­sons why they are by no means to be ad­mited. I shall assign two in General.

  • First, The first taken from the Ill and Fatal Consequences which inevitably ensue upon their Admission.
  • Secondly, The other taken from the Qualification and Temper of the Per­sons who make these Pleas.

As for the Ill Consequences springing from the admission of them, (though ac­cording to the fertile Nature of every ab­surd Principle they are indeed innumera­ble) yet I shall insist only upon these three.

First, The first is; That there can be no Bounds or Limits put to this plea, [Page 247] nor any possibility of defining the just Number of particulars to which it may extend. For it being founded in Ig­norance and Error (as has been shown) it is Evident that it may reach to all those Things of which Men may be Ig­norant, and about which they may Err. So that there is no duty, but Men may doubt and scruple the doing of it, pre­tending that their Consciences are not satis­fied that it is a Duty or ought to be done. Nor is there any Action almost so wicked and unjust, but they may pretend, that their Consciences either prompt them to it as Necessary, or allow them in it as Lawful. As there was one in the last blessed Times of Rebellion and Refor­mation who Murdered his own Mother for kneeling at the Sacrament, alledging that it was Idolatry, and that his Consci­ence told him it was his Duty to destroy Idolaters. And let any Man living (if he can) state exactly how far Consci­ence will doubt and be unsatisfied; and give me any Reason, I say any solid Rea­son, why, if it may plead dissatisfaction [Page 248] in this or that thing, it may not upon the same Principle plead it in any other Thing whatsoever. And so, if the ob­ligation of our Laws must then only be­gin, when this Plea shall end; I fear, we shall never see either the End of one, or the beginning of the other.

Secondly, The second Ill Conse­quence is this. That as there can be no bounding of this Plea in respect of the particulars about which it may be made, so when it is made, there can be no pos­sible evidence of the sincerity of it. For all the Evidence producible must be the word of Him who makes this Plea; for as much as He only can be Judge of his own Thoughts and Conscience, and tell whether they be really under such a per­swasion and dissatisfaction or no. But where Men may pretend Conscience in the behalf of Interest, I see no reason why their word should be taken in be­half of their Conscience. And yet, if we hold to the Principle, upon which this Plea relies, no other proof of it can be had. Which if it be admitted I suppose [Page 249] there needs no other Argument to demonstrate, that this and the former Consequence together are of that Ab­surd Nature, and malign Influence, that they must forthwith open the Flood­gates to all Confusion, and like a mighty Torrent bear down before them all Law, Right, Justice, and whatsoever else the Societies of Mankind are settled by and supported with. But to proceed to yet a further and more destructive Conse­quence. In the

Third Place, The admission of this Plea absolutely binds the Hands of the Magistrate, and subjects him to the Con­science of those whose Duty it is to be subject to Him. For let the Civil Power make what Laws it will; if Conscience shall come and put in its exception against them, it must be heard, and exempt the Person, who makes the Exception, from the Binding Power of those Laws. For since Conscience commands in the Name of God, the Issue of the question must be, whether God, or the Magistrate is to be obeyed, and then the Decision is like [Page 250] to be very Easy. This Consequence is so direct, and withal so strong, that there is no Bar against it. So that, whereas heretofore the Magistrate passed for God's Vicegerent here on Earth, the Weak Conscience is now resolved to keep that Office for it self, and to prefer the Magi­strate to the Dignity of being its under Officer; For the Magistrate must make only such Laws, as such Consciences will have made, and such Laws only must be obeyed, as these Consciences shall judge fit to be obeyed. So that upon these Terms it is not the King, but the Tender Conscience that has got the Ne­gative Voice, upon the making of all our Laws, and which is more, upon the ob­serving them too, when they are made.

I dare affirm that it is as Impossible for any Government or Politick Body without a standing force, to subsist or support it self in the allowance of this Principle, as it is for the Natural Body to live and thrive with a dagger sticking in its Vitals. Nor can any thing be fuller of Contradiction and Ridiculous Paradox, [Page 251] than to think to Reconcile the Soveraignty of the Magistrate, and the safety of Go­vernment, with the sturdy Pleas of dissent­ing Consciences. It being all one, as if the Scepter should be put into the Subjects hand, in order to his being Governed by it.

I could add yet further, that, consi­dering Things and Persons barely in them­selves, it is ten to one but God rather speaks in the Conscience of a Lawful Christian Magistrate making a Law, than in the Conscience of any Private Persons whatsoever dissenting from it.

And thus much for the first general reason against admitting the Pleas of Weak or (as some falsely call them) Ten­der Consciences: the

Second General Reason shall be taken from those qualities, which usually accompany the said Pleas; of which there are Two,

First, Partiality. Secondly, Hypocrisy.

First, And first for Partiality. Few make this Plea themselves, who being once got into Power will endure it in o­thers. Consult History for the Practices [Page 252] of such in Germany, and your own Me­mories for the Practices of the late Saints in England. In their general Compre­hensive Toleration, you know, Prelacy stood always joined with Popery, and both were excepted together. Nor was there any Toleration allowed for the Liturgy, and established Worship of the Church of England, though the users of it plead­ed Conscience never so much for its use; and the known Laws of God and Man, for the Rule of that their Conscience.

But those Zealots were above that Legal ordinance of doing as they would be done by; Nor were their Consciences a­ny longer Spiritually Weak, when their Interest was once grown Temporally strong. And then, notwithstanding all their pleas of Tenderness and out-cries against Persecution, whoever came under them and closed not with them, found them to be Men whose Bowels were Brass, and whose Hearts were as hard as their Foreheads.

Secondly, The other Qualification which generally goes along with this Plea, and so renders it not fit to be ad­mitted, [Page 253] is Hypocrisy. Divines gene­rally agree upon this as a certain evi­dence of the sincerity of the Heart, when it has an equal respect unto all God's Com­mands, and makes Duty as Duty one of the Principal Reasons of its obedience; the Consequence of which is, that its O­bedience must needs be Universal. Now upon the same ground, If Conscience be really, even in their own sence, Tender, and doubts of the Lawfulness of such or such a Practice, because it carries in it some Appearance and Semblance of Evil, though yet it dare not positively affirm that it is so, Surely it must, and will be equally afraid of every other Pra­ctice which carries in it the same ap­pearance of Evil; and utterly abhor and fly from those Practices which the Univer­sal Consent of all Nations and Religions Condemns as evidently Wicked and un­just.

But the Tenderness, we have to deal with, is quite of another Nature, being such an one as makes Men scruple at the Lawfulness of a Set Form of Divine [Page 254] Worship, at the use of some solemn Rites and Ceremonies in the Service of God; but makes them not stick at all at Sacri­lege, which St. Paul equals to Idolatry; nor at Rebellion, which the Prophet makes as bad as Withcraft; nor at the Murder of their King, and the Robbing and un­doing their fellow Subjects; Villainies, which not only Christianity proscribes, but the Common Reason of Mankind rises up against, and by the very light of Nature Condemns. And did not those, who plead Tenderness of Conscience amongst us, do all these things? Nay did they not do them in the very strength of this Plea?

In a word, are the particulars alledged True, or are they not? If not, then let Shame, and Confusion, and a Just Judg­ment from God light upon those, who make such Charges, where they are not due. But if all which has been alledged be True, then in the Name of the God of Truth, let not those pass for Weak, and much less for [...]ender Consciences, which can digest such horrid Clamorous Impieties. [Page 255] Nor let them abuse the World, nor dis­turb the Church by a false Cry of Super­stition, and a Causeless Separation from her thereupon: Especially if they will but calmly and seriously Consider, whose Ends by all this they certainly serve, whose Work they do, and whose Wages they have so much Cause to dread.

In fine, the Result of the whole dis­course is this. That since the Weakness of Conscience, spoken of by St. Paul, is grounded upon some Ignorance for the present excusable; and since none a­mongst us enjoying the means of Know­ledge daily held forth by the Church, together with the Common use of his Reason, can be excusably Ignorant of any Thing which he is concerned to know, the Plea of such Weakness can have no Place amongst us, much less can it be allowably continued in, and least of all can it be suffered to controul the Civil Magistrate either in the ma­king, or the execution of Laws: But ought wholly to be rejected, as well for its pernicious Consequences, to wit [Page 256] that it is boundless, and that the Truth of it is no ways discoverable, and with­all that it Subjects the Sovereign Power to those, who are to be Subject to it, and Governed by it: as also for the par­tiality and Cruelty of its Pleaders, who deny that to others which they claim to themselves; together with their Hy­pocrisy in stopping at Mole-Hills and leaping over Mountains, in Practising things notoriously unjust, while they stick at things indifferent, and at the most but doubtful.

From all which it follows, That how much soever such Pretenders may beguile Factious and Vnstable Minds, deceiving others and being deceived them­selves; and how much soever they may Mock the Powers of this World, yet God is not Mocked, who Searches the Heart, and looks through the Pretence, and will Reward every Man according to his Work, whatsoever may be his Profession.

To which God be rendred and ascribed as is most due, all Praise, Might, Majesty, and Domi­nion, both now and for Evermore. Amen.

Christianity Mysterious, AND THE Wisdom of God in making it so, Proved in a SERMON PREACHED At Westminster-Abbey, April 29. 1694.

1 COR. II.7.

But we speak the Wisdom of God in a Mystery, &c.

THE two great works, which God has been pleased to signa­lize His Infinite Wisdom, and Power by, were the Creation of the World and the Redemption of Mankind; the first of them declared by Moses, and the other by Christ Himself bringing Life and Immorta­lity to Light through the Gospel. But yet so, that, as in the opening of the Day, the Appearance of Light does not pre­sently, and totally drive away all dark­ness, but that some degrees remain and mingle with it: So neither has this Glo­rious Revelation of the Gospel quite clear­ed off the obscurity of many great Things revealed in it; but that, as God has hereby vouchsafed us Light enough to inform and Guide our Faith; So He has [Page 260] left Darkness enough to Exercise it too. Upon which account the Apostle here designing to set forth the transcendent Worth of the Gospel above all other Doctrines whatsoever, recommends it to our Esteem, by these two Qualifications and Properties Eminently belonging to it, as

  • First, That it is the Wisdom of God; and
  • Secondly, That it is the Wisdom of God in a Mystery.

As to the first of which, namely, The Gospel's being the Wisdom of God, that is to say, the Grand Instance and Pro­duct of it; If we would take a survey of the Nature of Wisdom according to the Sence of the Ancient Philosophers, we shall find Aristotle in the sixth of his Ethicks and the seventh Chapter defining it. [...], that is, The Vnderstanding and Knowledge of Things in their Nature the most Excellent and Va­luable. Where, though it ought to be supposed, that Aristotle carried his No­tion no higher, nor farther than the things of Nature, and that St. Paul point­ed [Page 261] chiefly at Things Revealed and Super­natural; Yet I cannot see, but that the Terms made use of by that great Philo­sopher in the Definition or rather De­scription of Wisdom laid down by him, do with full propriety and fitness fall in with the Account here given of this Di­vine Wisdom by our Apostle in the Text: and that, whether we take it for a Wisdom respecting Speculation, or relating to pra­ctice; the Things treated of in the Go­spel (about which the said Wisdom is imployed) being certainly the Noblest and most Excellent that can be, upon both Accounts. And though it be hard to determine whether of the two ought to have the Preheminence; yet, I think, we may rationally enough Conclude, That the Wisdom here spoken of is principal­ly of a Practical Import; as denoting to us God's admirable and steady bringing about His great Ends and Purposes, by means most sutable and proper to them, and particularly His accomplishing His grand design of Mercy upon the World by the Promulgation of the Gospel; A Do­ctrine [Page 262] containing in it all the Treasures of Divine Wisdom, so far as the same Wis­dom has thought fit to reveal them. And yet such has been the blindness and base­ness of Men's Minds even from the Apo­stles time down along to ours (as bad as a­ny) that this very Wisdom has not failed to meet with a Sect of Men, who Voting themselves the only Wits and Wise Men of the World (as the greatest Sots may easily do) have made it their business to ridicule and reproach it as downright foolishness; but yet such a sort of foolishness (if the Te­stimony of an Apostle may outweigh the scoff's of a Buffoon) as is Infinitely wiser than all the Wisdom of Men. For the very wisest of Men do not always compass what they design, but this certainly and effectually does, as being not only the Wisdom; but

Secondly, The Power of God too, the first Infallible, the other Irresistible. In a word, the Wisdom here spoken of, is a Messenger which always goes as far as sent; an Instrument which never fails or lurches the Great Agent who imploys it, either in Reaching the End He directs [Page 263] it to, or in Finishing the Work He in­tends it for. So that, in short, there could not be an higher and a nobler E­logy to express the Gospel by, than by representing it to us as the Wisdom of God. For as Wisdom in general is the Noblest and most Sublime Perfection of an In­tellectual Nature, and particularly in God Himself is the Leading, Ruling Attribute prescribing to all the rest; so a Commendation drawn from thence must needs be the most glorious that can possibly pass upon any Action or Design proceeding from such an One. And the Apostle seems here most peculiarly to have directed this Encomium of the Go­pel, as a Defiance to the Philosophers of his Time, the Flustring Vain glorious Greeks, who pretended so much to mag­nify, and even Adore the Wisdom they professed, and, with great modesty (no doubt) confin'd wholly to themselves: A Wisdom, I think, little to be envyed them; being such, as none, who had it, could be the better, nor consequently the wiser for.

And thus much for the first Thing [Page 264] contained in the Words, and proposed from them; namely, That the Gospel is the Wisdom of God. I proceed now to the Second, which we shall chiefly insist upon, and that is concerning the My­steriousness of it; as That it is the Wis­dom of God in a Mystery. For the pro­secution of which we shall enquire into, and endeavour to give some Account of the Reasons (so far as we may presume to judge of them) why God should deliver to Mankind a Religion so full of My­steries as the Christian Religion certainly is, and was ever accounted to be. Now the Reasons of this in general I conceive may be stated upon these two Grounds.

First, The Nature and Quality of the Things treated of in the Christian Reli­gion. And

Secondly, The Ends to which all Re­ligion (both as to the General, and Par­ticular Nature of it) is designed, with relation to the Influence which it ought to have upon the minds of Men.

And first of all: For the Nature of the Things themselves, which are the Sub­ject [Page 265] matter of the Christian Religion; there are in them these three Qualifications or Properties, which do and must of Ne­cessity render them Mysterious, Obscure, and of difficult Apprehension. As,

First, Their surpassing Greatness and Inequality to the mind of Man. The Chri­stian Religion, as to a great part of it, is but a kind of Comment upon the Di­vine Nature; an Instrument to convey right Conceptions of God into the Soul of Man, so far as it is capable of receiving them. But now God (we know) is an Infinite Being, without any Bounds or Limitations of His Essence, Wonderful in His Actings, Inconceivable in His Pur­poses, and Inexpressible in His Attributes; which yet, as Great as they are, if several­ly taken, give us but an Incomplete Re­presentation of Him. He is another World in Himself, too high for our Spe­culations, and too great for our Descri­ptions. For how can such Vast and Migh­ty things be crowded into a little, finite Understanding! Heaven, I confess, en­ters into us, as we must into That, by a [Page 266] very narrow Passage. But how shall the King of Glory whom the Heavens themselves cannot contain enter in by these Doors? by a Weak (Imagination, a slender Notion, and a contracted Intellect? How shall these poor short faculties measure the Lengths of His Eternity, the Breadth and Expansions of His Immensity, the Heights of His Prescience, and the Depths of His Decrees? and last of all, that Unutte­rable, Incomprehensible Mystery of Two Natures United into one Person, and a­gain of one and the same Nature diffused into a Triple Personality? All which being some of the Prime, Fundamental matters treated of in our Religion, how can it be otherwise than a Systeme of Mysteries, and a knot of dark, inexpli­cable Propositions? Since it exhibits to us such Things as the very Condition of our Nature renders us Uncapable of clear­ly understanding.

The Socinians indeed, who would ob­trude upon the World, (and of late more daringly than ever) a New Christianity of their own Inventing, will admit of [Page 267] nothing Mysterious in this Religion, or such as the Natural Reason of Man cannot have a clear and Comprehensive percep­tion of: and this not only in defiance of the express Words of Scripture so frequently and fully affirming the contrary, but al­so of the constant, universal sense of all Antiquity Unanimously confessing an In­comprehensibility in many of the Articles of the Christian Faith. So that these bold Persons stand alone by themselves, upon a new bottom, and an Upstart Principle, not much above an Hundred years old, spitting upon all Antiquity before them; and (as some have well observed of them who have wrote against them) are the only Sect of Men in the World, who ever pretended to set up, or own a Re­ligion without either a Mystery or a Sa­crifice belonging to it. For, as we have shewn, that they deny the first, so they equally explode the latter, by denying Christ to be properly a Priest, or His Death to have been a Propitiatory Oblati­on for the Sins of the World. And now are not these blessed New Lights [Page 268] (think we) fit to be encouraged, courted, and have Panegyricks made upon their Wonderful Abilities, forsooth? Whilst they on the other side are imploying the utmost of those abilities (such as they are) in Blaspheming our Saviour, and Overturning our Religion? But this is their hour, and the Power of Darkness. For it is a Truth too too manifest to be de­nied, That there have been more Inno­vations upon, and Blasphemies against the Chief Articles of our Faith published in this Kingdom, and that after a more Au­dacious and Scandalous manner, within these several years last past, than have been known here for some Centuries of years before (even those times of Confusion both in Church and State betwixt For­ty One and Sixty not excepted:) And what this may produce and end in, God only at present knows, and I wish the whole Nation may not at length feel.

Secondly, A second Qualification of the Chief Things treated of in our Religion (and which must needs render them My­sterious) is their Spirituality and Abstraction [Page 269] from all Sensible and Corporeal Matter. Of which sort of Things it is impossible for the Understanding of Man to form to it self an exact Idea, or Representation. So that when we hear, or read that God is a Spirit, and that Angels and the Souls of Men are Spirits, our Apprehensions are utterly at a loss how to frame any Notion or Resemblance of them, but are put to float and wander in an endless Maze of Guesses and Conjectures, and know not certainly what to fix upon. For in this Case we can fetch in no Information, or Relief to our Understandings from our Senses; no Picture or Draught of these Things from the Reports of the Eye; but we are left Entirely to the uncer­tainties of Fancy, to the Flights and Ventures of a bold Imagination. And here to illustrate the Case a little, let us imagine a Man, who was born blind, a­ble upon bare Hear-say, to conceive in his Mind all the Varieties, and Curiosi­ties of Colour, to draw an exact Scheme of Constantinople, or a Map of France; to describe the Towns, point out the Rivers, [Page 270] and distinguish the Situations of these, and the like Great and Extraordinary Places: And when such an One is able to do all this, and not before, then perhaps may we also apprehend what a Spirit, an Angel, or an Immaterial Being is. The difficulty of understanding which suffici­ently appears from this One considerati­on: That in all the Descriptions which we make of God, Angels, and Spirits, we still describe them by such Things as we see, and when we have done, we pro­fess that they are Invisible. But then to do this Argument right again on the o­ther side; As it would be extreamly sottish, and irrational for a blind man to conclude, and affirm positively, That there neither are, nor can be any such Things, as Colours, Pictures, or Landskips, because he finds, that he cannot form to Him­self any true Notion, Idea, or Mental Per­ception of them: So would it be equally, or rather superlatively more Unreason­able, for us to deny the Great Articles of our Christianity because we cannot frame in our Minds any Clear, Explicit, [Page 271] and Exact Representation of them. And yet this is the true state of the whole matter, and of the Ratiocination of some Men about it, how Absurd, and Incon­sequent soever, we see, it is. Let this therefore be another and a second Cause, why the Christian Religion which treats of, and is conversant about such Things, must of Necessity be Mysterious.

Thirdly, A third Property of Matters belonging to Christianity, and which also renders them mysterious, is their Strange­ness and Vnreducibleness to the common Me­thods and observations of Nature. I for my part cannot look upon any Thing (what­soever others can) as a more Fundamen­tal Article of the Christian Religion than Christ's satisfaction for Sin; by which a­lone the lost Sons of Adam are reconcil­ed to their offended God, and so put into new Capacities of Salvation; and yet perhaps there is nothing more surprizing, strange, and out of the road of Common Reason than this, if compared with the general course, and way of Mens Acting. For that He who was the offended Per­son [Page 272] should project and provide a satis­faction to Himself in the behalf of Him who had offended Him, and with so much Zeal concern Himself to sollicite a Re­conciliation with those whom He had no need of being Reconciled unto, but might with equal Justice and Honour have de­stroyed them, was a Thing quite beside the Common course of the World; and much more was it so, That a Father should deliver up an Innocent and Infi­nitely beloved Son to be sacrificed for the redemption of His justly hated and abhor­red Enemies; and on the other hand, that a Son who loved His Father as much as He could be loved by Him, should lay down His Life for the Declared Rebels and Enemies of Him whom He so tran­scendently loved, and of Himself too: This I say was such a transaction, as we can find nothing like, or Analogous to in all the dealings of Men, and cannot but be owned as wholly beside, if not also directly contrary to all humane me­thods. And so true is this, that several Things expressly affirmed of God in Scri­pture [Page 273] relating to the Prime Articles of our Faith are denied, or eluded by the [...] and Socinians, because they Cross and Contradict the Notions taken up by them from what they have observed in Created Beings, and particularly in Men; which yet is a gross fallacy and inconse­quence concluding ab imparibus tamquàm paribus, and more than sufficiently con­futed and blown off, by that one passage of the Prophet concerning Almighty God; that His Thoughts are not as our Thoughts, nor His Ways as our Ways. Isa. 55.8. to which we may add, that neither is His Nature as our Nature, nor his Di­vine Persons as our Persons. And if so, where is the Socinian Logick in arguing from one to the Other? And yet 'tis manifest, that they hardly make use of a­ny other way of arguing concerning the main points in controversy between them and the Church but this.

But there are also two other Principal Articles of the Christian Religion, which do as much transcend the common No­tice and observation of Mankind as the for­mer. [Page 274] One of which is the Conversion and Change of a Man's Sinful Nature, commonly called the Work of Regen [...]on or the New-birth, concerning which Men are apt to Wonder (and deservedly too) by what strange Power and Efficacy it should come to pass, That ever any One should be brought to conquer, and shake off those Inveterate Appetites and Desires which are both so Violent in their Actings, and so early in their Original, (as being born with him); and to have other New ones, and those absolutely contrary to the former planted in their room: So that when our Saviour in Iohn 3. discoursed of these things to Nicodem­us, a great Rabbi amongst the Jews, and told him that he must be born again; he was presently amazed, and non-plus'd at it, as at a great Paradox and Impossibility; and forth with began to Question, How can these Things be? In which indeed, he said no more, than what the hearts of most Men living are apt to say concern­ing most of the Articles of our Christian Religion.

[Page 275]But above all, the Article of the Resur­rection seems to lye marvellously cross to [...] [...]ommon Experience of Mankind. For who ever was yet seen by them after a To­tal Consumption into Dust and Ashes, to rise again, and to resume the same Numeri­cal body? This is a Thing which amongst all the rare Occurrences of the World, all the Wonders, and Anomalies of Na­ture, was never yet met with in any One single instance; and consequently, Men must needs be apt to startle, and to be full of Thought, and Scruple, upon the proposal of so strange a Thing to their Understandings. And if any one should think, that he can make this out by bare reason, (as possibly some Opiniators may) let him by all means in the next place try the strength of his doughty Reason about Transubstantiation, or turn Knight Errant in Divinity, encounter Giants and Windmills, and adventure to explain things impossible to be explain­ed. This therefore is a Third Cause of the Unavoidable Mysteriousness of the chief Articles of the Christian Religion; [Page 276] namely, That most of them fall, neither within the common course of Men's Act­ings, nor the compass of their Observa [...]o [...].

And thus much for the First Ground of the Gospel's being delivered to the World in a Mystery; namely, the Nature and Quality of the Things treated of in the Go­spel. I come now to the▪

Second Ground, which is stated upon some of the Principal Ends and Designs of Religion. But before I enter upon the discussion of this, may it not be Objected? That the Grand Design of Religion is to engage Men in the Practice of such Things, as it commands? And that this must needs be so much the more easily effected, by how much the more Clear­ly such Things are represented to Men's Understandings, without any Mystery or Obscurity in them. For as much as the way to obey a Law, is to know it; and the way to know it, is to have it plainly, and clearly propounded to such as are con­cerned about it.

Now to this I answer, First, That it is as much the Design of Religion to [Page 277] oblige Men to believe the Credenda, as to Practice the Agenda of it: and Se­condly, That notwithstanding the ob­scurity and Mysteriousness of the Cre­denda considered in themselves, there is yet as Clear a Reason for the belief of these, as for the Practice of the o­ther. They exceed indeed the Natural force of Humane Reason to Comprehend them Scientifically, and are therefore proposed, not to our Knowledge, but to our Belief; For as much as Belief supplies the want of Knowledge, where Knowledge is not to be had; and is properly the Mind's assent to a thing upon the Credit of His Testimony, who shall report it to us. And thus we assent to the Great and Mysterious Points of our Faith. For know and understand them throughly we cannot; but since God has revealed and affirmed them to be True we may with the highest Reason, upon His bare Word, believe and assent to them as such.

But then as for those Things, that con­cern our Practice (upon which onely the objection proceeds) they indeed are of that [Page 278] clearness, that Innate Evidence, and Perspi­cuity, even in themselves, that they do (as it were) meet our U [...]derstandings half way, and being once proposed to us need not our Study, but only our Acceptance; as pre­senting themselves to our first, our easiest, and most early Apprehensions. So that, in some things, it is much more difficult for a Man, upon a very ordinary use of his Iudgment, to be Ignorant of his Duty than to Learn it; as it would be much harder for him, while he is awake, to keep his Eyes always shut, than open.

In summ, the Articles of our Faith are those Depths, in which the Elephant may swim; and the Rules of our Practice those Shallows in which the Lamb may wade. But as both Light and Darkness make but one nat [...]l Day; So here, both the clearness of the Agenda, and the obscurity or Mystery of the Credenda of the Gospel, constitute but one Entire Religi­on. And so much in Answer to this Ob­jection. Which being thus remo [...]ed I come now to shew, That the Mysterious­ness of those parts of the Gospel, called [Page 279] the Credenda, or matters of our Faith, is most subservient to the Great, Important Ends of Religion; and that upon these following Accounts.

First, Because Religion in the Prime Institution of it was designed to make Im­pressions of Awe and Reverential Fear upon Men's minds. The mind of Man is naturally licentious; and there is no­thing, which it is more averse from, than Duty. Nothing which it more abhors than Restraint. It would, if let alone, lash out, and Wantonize in a boundless enjoyment and Gratification of all its Appetites, and Inclinations. And there­fore God, who designed Man to a Su­pernatural End, thought fit also to engage him to a way of living above the bare course of Nature; and for that purpose to oblige him to a severe abridgment, and controul of his meer Natural Desires. And this can never be done, but by im­printing upon his judgment such appre­hensions of Dread, and Terror, as may stave off an Eager, and Luxurious Ap­petite from its desired satisfactions; which [Page 280] the Infinite Wisdom of God has thought fit in some measure to do by Non-plussing the World with [...]rtain New and Unac­countable Revelations of Himself and the Divine Methods of a Mysterious Religion.

To protect which from the sawcy En­croachments of bold minds, He has hedged it in with a Sacred and Majestick obscurity, in some of the Principal parts of it. Which, that it is the most effectual way to secure a Reverence to it from such minds, is as certain, as the Uni­versal Experience of Mankind can make it: It being an Observation too frequent and common to be at all doubted of, That Familiarity breeds Contempt; and it holds, not more in Point of Converse, than in Point of Knowledge. For as Easiness of access, [...]nkness and Open­ness of Behaviour does by Degrees lay a Man open to Scorn and Contempt, espe­cially from some Dispositions; so a full inspection, and penetration into all the Difficulties and Secrets of any Object is apt to make [...]he mind insult over it, as over a Conquered Thing: for all Know­ledge [Page 281] is a kind of Conquest over the Thing we know.

Distance preserves respect, and we still imagine some transcendent Worth in things above our reach. Moses was ne­ver more Reverenced than when he wore his Veil. Nay the very Sanctum Sanctorum would not have had such a Veneration from the Jews had they been permitted to enter into it, and to gaze and stare upon it, as often as they did upon the o­ther parts of the Temple. The High-Priest himself, who alone was suffered to enter into it, yet was to do so but once a year; lest the frequency of the sight might insensibly lessen that Adoration, which so Sacred a Thing was still to maintain up­on his Thoughts.

Many Men, who in their Absence have been great and admired for their fame, find a diminution of that respect upon their Personal Presence: Even the great Apostle St. Paul himself found it so; as he himself tells us 2 Cor. 10.10. And upon the same account it [...], that the Kings of some Nations, to keep up a [Page 282] living and a constant awe of themselves in the minds of their subjects, shew them­selves to them [...] once a year: and e­ven that perhaps may be something with the oftenest, considering, that Persons, whose Greatness generally consists rather in the Height of th [...]ir Condition, than in the Depth of their Vnderstanding, seldom appear freely, and openly, but they Ex­pose themselves in more senses, than one.

In all great Respect, or Honour shewn there is something of Wonder; but a Thing often seen (we know) be it ne­ver so Excellent, yet ceasing thereby to be New, it ceases also to be Wonder'd at. For as much as it is not the Worth or Ex­cellency but the strangeness of a Thing which draws the Eyes and Admiration of Men after it; For can any thing in Nature be imagined more glorious and beautiful than the Sun shining in his full Might, and yet how many more Specta­tors and Wonderers does the same Sun find under an Eclipse?

But to p [...]sue this Notion and Obser­vation yet further, I conceive it will not [Page 283] be amiss to consider, how it has been the Custom of all the Sober, and Wise Na­tions of the World still to reserve the Great Rites of their Religion in Occulto; Thus, how studiously did the AEgyptians, those great Masters of all Learning, lock up their Sacred Things from all Access, and Knowledge of the Vulgar! Whereupon their Gods were pictured, and represent­ed with their Finger upon their Mouth, thereby (as it were) enjoining silence to their Votaries, and forbidding all Publi­cation of their Mysteries. Nor was this all, but for the better concealing of the Sacra Arcana of their Religion, they used also a peculiar Character unknown to the Com­mon People, and understood only by themselves; and last of all, that they might yet the more surely keep off all others from any acquaintance with These Se­crets, the Priesthood was made Hereditary amongst them, by which means they easily secured, and confined the know­ledge of their Sacerdotal Rites wholly within their own Family. The like also is reported of the Phoenicians, [Page 284] the Babylonians, and the Graecians, that they had their [...], and their [...] ▪ their Sacred and pecu­liar way of writing, by which they rescu­ed the Revered Mysteries of their Religion from the rude Inspection of the Rout. And Lastly, that the same course of Se­crecy, and Concealment was also fol­lowed by the Romans, though in a diffe­rent way, and not by the use of such pe­culiar Characters, is sufficiently evident, from that known Introduction, and Prologue to their Sacred Rites, Procul est [...] profani; by which they drove far away the Profano, and such were all those accounted, who were not actually engaged in the said Religious Performances. And now to what purpose do these several instances serve, but to shew us, That, as in the Iewish Church the People were not suffered to enter into the Holy of Holies, nor to pry or look into the Ark, no nor so much as to touch it, and all this by the Particular, Ex­press Prohibition of God Himself; so a­mongst the Heathens, the most Civiliz'd, Learned, and best Reputed Nations for [Page 285] wisdom have, by the bare Light and Con­duct of their Natural Reason, still taken the same way to establish in Men's Minds a Veneration for their Religion? That is, by keeping the Chief Parts and Mysteries of it shut up from the promiscuous View, and Notice of that sort of Men, who are but too quickly brought (God knows) to slight and nauseate, what they once think they understand.

Now that the several Religions of the forementioned Nations of the Gentiles were false and Idolatrous, I readily own; but that their method of preserving the Reverence of them (which is all that I here insist upon) was founded upon any perswasion they had of the falsehood, and Idolatry of the said Religions, this I absolutely deny, since it is not imagina­ble that any sort of Men whatsoever, could heartily own and profess any sort of Religion, which they themselves fully believed to be false; and therefore since it could not be but that they believed their several Religions True, (though really and indeed they were not so) yet the [Page 286] way, which they took to keep up an Awful esteem of them in the hearts of such as professed them, was no doubt founded upon an Excellent Philosophy, and Knowledge of the temper of Man's mind in relation to Sacred matters. So that, although their Subject was bad, yet, their Argumentation, and discourse upon it was highly Rational.

Secondly, A second Ground of the Mysteriousness of Religion (as it is deli­vered by God to Mankind) is His most Wise Purpose thereby to humble the Pride and haughtiness of Man's reason▪ A quality so peculiarly odious to God, that it may be said, not so much to im­print upon Men the image, as to Com­municate to them the very Essence of Lu­cifer. The way by which Man first fell from his Original Integrity and Happi­ness was by Pride founded upon an Ir­regular desire of Knowledge; and there­fore it seems to be a course most agreeable to the Divine Wisdom to contrive Man's Recovery by such a Method, as should abase and Nonplus him in that very Per­fection, [Page 287] whereof the Ambitious Improve­ment first cast him down from that glo­rious Condition. In short, Man would be like God in Knowledge, and so he fell; and now if he will be like him in Happiness too, God will effect it in such a way, as shall convince him to his face, that he knows nothing. The whole course of his Salvation, shall be all Riddle and My­stery to him; he shall (as I may so ex­press it) be carried up to Heaven in a Cloud. Instead of Evidence springing from Things themselves, and clear Knowledge grow­ing from such an evidence, his Under­standing must now be contented with the poor, dimn Light of Faith; which (as I have shewn) guides only in the Strength and Light of anothers Know­ledge, and is properly a Seeing with ano­thers Eyes; as being otherwise wholly unable to inform us about the great Things of our Peace, by any Immediate inspection of those Things themselves.

Whereupon we find the Gospel set up (as it were) in Triumph over all that Wisdom, and Philosophy, which the Learn­ed [Page 288] and more Refined parts of the World so much boasted of, and Valued them­selves upon; as we have it in the 1 Cor. 1. from the 17th to the end of the Chap. Where is the Wise, where is the Scribe, and where is the Disputer of this World? God is there said to have made Foolish the very Wisdom of it. So that when the World by Wisdom knew not God; that is, by all their Philosophy could not find out, either how He was to be served, or by what means to be enjoyed, this Grand Disco­very was made to them by the foolishness of Preaching (as the World then esteemed it;) nay and of Preaching the Cross too; A thing utterly exploded both by Iew, and Greek, as the greatest Absurdity ima­ginable, and contrary to all their Re­ceived Principles, and Reasonings about the way of Man's attaining to true Hap­piness. And yet, as high as they bore themselves, their strongest Reasonings were to bend to this Weakness of God, (as the Apostle in derision of those, who thought it so, there calls it) and their sublimest Wisdom to stoop to this Foolishness, if so [Page 289] be they were not resolved to be too strong, and too Wise (forsooth) to be saved. For as the Primitive effect of Knowledge was first to puff up, and then to throw down; So the contrary method of Grace and Faith is first to depress, and then to Advance.

The Difficulty, and strangeness of some of the Chief Articles of our Religion, such as are those of the Trinity, and of the In­carnation, and Satisfaction of Christ, are Notable Instruments in the hand of God to keep the Soul low and humble, and to check those Self-Complacencies which it is apt to grow into by an Over-ween­ing conceit of its own Opinions, more than by any other Thing whatsoever. For Man naturally, is scarce so fond of the Off-spring of his Body, as of that of his Soul. His Notions are his Darlings; So that neither Children, nor Self are half so Dear to him, as the Only begot­ten of his Mind. And therefore in the Dispensations of Religion God will have this only Begotten, this Best-beloved, this Isaac of our Souls (above all other Offer­ings [Page 290] that a Man can bring Him) to be sacrificed, and given up to Him.

Thirdly, God in great Wisdom has been pleased to put a Mysteriousness into the Greatest Articles of our Religion, thereby to engage us in a closer, and more diligent Search into them. He would have them the Objects of our Study, and for that Purpose has render'd them hard and dif­ficult. For no Man studies Things plain and Evident, and such as by their Native clearness do even prevent our Search, and of their own accord offer themselves to our Understandings. The Foundation of all enquiry is the obscurity as well as Worth of the Thing enquired after. And God has thought good to make the Con­stitution, and Complexion of our Religion such, as may fit it to be our Business and our Task; to require, and take up all our Intellectual strengths, and, in a word, to try the force of our Best, our Noblest, and most Active Faculties. For if it were not so, then surely Humane Litera­ture could no ways promote the Study of Divinity, nor could skill in the Libe­ral [Page 291] Arts and Sciences be any step to raise us to those higher Speculations. But so the Experience of the World (maugre all Fanatick Pretences, all Naked Truths, and Naked Gospels, or rather shameful Nakedness instead of either Truth or Go­spel) has ever yet found it to be. For still the Schools are and must be the standing Nurseries of the Church. And all the Cultivation and Refinement they can bestow upon the best Wits in the use of the most unwearied industry, are but a means to facilitate their advance higher, and to let them in more easily at the Strait Gate of those more hidden and in­volved Propositions, which Christianity would employ and exercise the mind of Man with. For suppose, that we could grasp in the whole Compass of Nature, as to all the Particulars and Varieties of Being and Motion, yet we should find it a Vast, if not an Impos­sible Leap from thence to ascend to the full Comprehension of any one of God's Attributes; and much more from thence to the Mysterious Oeconomy of the Di­vine [Page 292] Persons; and lastly to the astonishing Work of the Worlds Redemption by the bloud of the Son of God himself, condescend­ing to be a Man, that He might die for us. All which were Things hidden from the Wise and Prudent, in spight of all their Wisdom and Prudence; as being Heights above the Reach, and Depths beyond the Fathom of any Mortal Intellect.

We are Commanded by Christ to Search the Scriptures as the Great Reposito­ry of all the Truths and Mysteries of our Religion; and whosoever shall apply himself to a through Performance of this high Command, shall find Difficulty and Abstruseness enough in the Things Search­ed into to perpetuate his Search. For they are a rich Mine, which the greatest Wit and Diligence may dig in for ever, and still find new matter to entertain the busiest Contemplation with, even to the utmost Period of the most Extend­ed life. For no Man can out-live the Reasons of Enquiry, so long as he car­ries any thing of Ignorance about him: And that every Man must, and shall do [Page 293] while he is in this State of Mortality. For he, who himself is but a part of Na­ture, shall never compass, or compre­hend it all.

Truth (we are told) dwells Low, and in a Bottom; and the most Valued things of the Creation are conceal'd, and hid­den by the Great Creator of them from the common View of the World. Gold and Diamonds, with the most Precious Stones and Metals lie couched and co­vered in the Bowels of the Earth; the very Condition of their Being giving them their Burial too. So that Violence must be done to Nature, before she will pro­duce and bring them forth.

And then, as for what concerns the mind of Man, God has in His Wise Pro­vidence cast things so, as to make the bu­siness of Men in this World Improvement; that so the very Work of their condition may still remind them of the Imperfecti­on of it. For, surely, he who is still pressing forward has not yet obtain'd the Prize. Nor has he, who is only Growing in Knowledge, yet arrived to the [Page 294] full stature of it. Growth is Progress; and all Progress designs, and tends to the Acquisition of something, which the Growing Person is not yet Possessed of.

Fourthly, The fourth and Last Reason which I shall alledge of the Mysterious Dis­pensation of the Gospel here, is, That the full, Entire knowledge of it may be one Principal Part of our Felicity and Blessedness hereafter. All those Heights and Depths which we now stand so much amazed at, and which so confound and baffle the subtlest and most Piercing Ap­prehension, shall then be made Clear, Open and Familiar to us. God shall then display the Hidden Glories of His Nature, and withal Fortify the Eye of the Soul so, that it shall be able to behold and take them in, so far as the Capacities of an hu­mane Intellect shall enable it to do. We shall then see the Mysteries of the Tri­nity, and of the Incarnation of Christ, and of the Resurrection of the Dead unriddled and made plain to us; all the Knots of God's De [...]rees and Providence untyed and made fit for our Vnderstanding, as well [Page 295] as our Admiration. We shall then be transported with a Nobler kind of Wonder, not the Effect of Ignorance, but the Product of a Clearer, and more Ad­vanced Knowledge. We shall Admire, and Adore the Works and Attributes of the Great God, because we shall see the Glo­rious Excellency of the one, and the Admirable Contrivances of the Other, made evident to our very Reason: So as to inform and satisfy that, which before they could only astonish and amaze.

The Happiness of Heaven shall be an Happiness of Vision and of Knowledge; and we shall there pass from the Darkness of our Native Ignorance, from the Dusk and Twilight of our former Notions into the Broad Light of an Everlasting Day. A Day, which shall leave nothing Un­discovered to us, which can be fit for us to know; And therefore the Apostle comparing our Present with our Future Condition in respect of those different measures of Knowledge allotted to each of them, 1 Cor. 13.12. tells us, That here we see but darkly and in a glass; and a glass (we [Page 296] know) often gives us a false, but always a Faint representation of the Object: but then, saies he, shall we see God face to face. And again, Here we know but in Part, but there we shall know as we are known▪ and that, which is Perfect, being come, then that which is in Part shall be done away. Reason being then unclogged from the Body shall have its full Flight, and a free, uncontrolled Passage into all things Intelligible. We shall then surmount these Beggarly Rudiments, and mean helps of Knowledge, which now by many little steps gradually raise us to some short Spe­culation of the Nature of Things. Our knowledge shall be then Intuitive and above Discourse; not proceeding by a long Cir­cuit of Antecedents and Consequents, as now in this Vale of Imperfection, it is forced to do; but it shall then fully inform the whole Mind, and take in the whole Ob­ject, by one single, and substantial Act.

For as, in that Condition, we shall Enjoy the Happiness, so we shall also imitate the Perfection of Angels, Who out-shine the rest of the Creation in no­thing [Page 297] more than in a transcendent ability of Knowing and Iudging; which is the very Glory and crowning Excellency of a created Nature. Faith it self shall be then accounted too mean a thing to ac­company us in that Estate; for being only conversant about Things not seen, it can have no Admittance into that Place, the peculiar Privilege of which shall be to convey to us the Knowledge of those Things by Sight, which before we took wholly upon Trust. And thus I have given you some account, First of the Mysteriousness of the Gospel, and then of the Reasons of it; and that both from the Nature of the Things themselves which are treated of in it, as also from those Great Ends and Purposes, which God in His Infinite Wisdom has designed it to.

From all which discourse several very weighty Inferences might be drawn, but I shall collect and draw from thence only these Three; As,

First, The High Reasonableness of Men's relying upon the judgment of the whole Church in General, and of their Re­spective [Page 298] Teachers, and Spiritual Guides in Particular, rather than upon their own Private judgments, in such Important, and Mysterious Points of Religion, as we have been hitherto discoursing of; I say, up­on the judgment of those, who have made it their Constant Business, as well as their Avowed Profession to acquaint themselves with these Mysteries (so far as Humane Reason can attain to them) and that in order to the Instruction and Information of Others.

Certain it is, that there is no other Pro­fession in the World, besides this of Divinity, wherein Men do not own something of a Mystery, and accordingly reckon it both highly Rational, and ab­solutely Necessary in many cases, to re­sign and submit their own Judgments to the Judgments of such as Profess a skill in any Art or Science whatsoever. For whose Judgment ought in all Reason to be fol­lowed about any Thing, His, who has made it his whole Work and Calling to Understand that Thing; or His, who has bestowed his whole Time, Parts, and [Page 299] Labour upon something else, which is wholly Foreign to it, and has no Cog­nation at all with it?

But there is not only Reason to per­swade, but also Authority to oblige Men in the Present Case. For see, in what Notable Words the Prophet asserts this Privilege to the Priesthood under the Mosaick Oeconomy. Mal. 2.7. The Priests lips (says he) should preserve Know­ledge, and the People should seek the Law at his mouth; (adding this as a reason of the same) For (says he) He is the Mes­senger of the Lord of Hosts.

For which words, no doubt, this Pro­phet would have passed for a Man of Heat now a days: for, in Good earnest, they run very high; and look very se­verely upon our so much applauded, or rather doated upon Liberty of Conscience, and are so far from casting the least Eye of favour upon it, that they are a more direct, and mortal Stab to it, than all the Pleas, Arguments, and Apologies, I could ever yet read, or hear of, have been a Defence of it.

[Page 300]Nor does the same Privilege sink one jot lower under the Christian Constituti­on; For, as we have already shewn, that the Gospel is full of Mysteries, so 1 Cor. 4.1. the Ministers of the Go­spel are declared the Stewards of these My­steries; and whatsoever any one dispenses as a Steward, he dispenses with the Au­thority and in the Strength of an Office and Commission; and I believe it will be hard to Prove, that a Minister of the Gospel can be obliged to dispence or declare any Thing to the People, which the People are not upon his Declaration of it equally bound to Believe and Assent to.

An Implicite Faith indeed in our Spi­ritual Guides (such as the Church of Rome holds) I own to be a great Absur­dity, but a Due Deference, and Submis­sion to the Judgment of the said Guides in the discharge of their Ministry, I af­firm to be as great a Duty. And I state the measures of this Submission, in a Be­lief of, and an Obedience to All that a Man's Spiritual Guide shall in that Capacity de­clare, and enjoyn, provided that a Man [Page 301] does not certainly know, or at least, up­on very great and just grounds, doubt a­ny thing to the contrary: (which Two conditions, I allow, ought always to be supposed in this Case) and then, if no objection, from either of these, shall in­terpose, I affirm, that every Man stands obliged by the Duty he owes to his Spi­ritual Pastor, to believe and obey whatsoe­ver his said Pastor shall by vertue of his Pastoral Office deliver to him. In a word, if Men would but seriously and imparti­ally consider these Three Things. First, That the Gospel or Christian Religion is, for the most Part of it, made up of My­steries. Secondly, That God has ap­pointed a certain Order of Men to de­clare, and dispense these Mysteries. And Thirdly, and Lastly, That it was His Wisdom thus to order Both these; Cer­tainly Men would both treat the Gospel it self more like a Mystery, and the Mini­sters of the Gospel, more like the Dispen­sers of so high and Sacred a Mystery than the Guise and Fashion of our Present Blessed Times disposes them to do; that [Page 302] is, in other Words, Men would be less confident of their own Understandings, and more apt to pay a Reverence and Submission to the Understandings of those, who are both more Conversant in these matters than they can pretend to be, and whom the same Wisdom of God has thought fit to appoint over them as their Guides. For the contrary Practice can proceed from nothing but an High Self-Opinion, and a Man's being Wise in his own conceit, which is a sure way to be so in no Bodies else.

In fine, every one is apt to think himself able to be his own Divine, his own Priest, and his own Teacher, and he should do well to be his own Physician, and his own Lawyer too: And then, as upon such a Course, he finds himself speed in the Matters of this World, let him upon the same reckon of his success in the other.

Secondly. We learn also from the fore­going Particulars the gross Unreasonable­ness, and the manifest Sophistry of Men's making whatsoever they find by them­selves [Page 303] not Intelligible, (that is to say, by Humane Reason not Comprehensible) the measure whereby they would Conclude the same also to be Impossible. This I say is a meer Fallacy, and a Wretched Inconsequence: and yet nothing occurs more commonly, (and that as a Prin­ciple taken for granted) in the late Wri­tings of some Heterodox, Pert, Unwary Men; and particularly, it is the main hinge upon which all the Socinian Argu­ments against the Mysteries of our Reli­gion turn, and depend; but withal so extreamly remote is it from all Truth, that there is not the least shew or shadow of Reason assignable for it, but upon this one Supposition, namely, That the Reason or Mind of Man is capable of Com­prehending, or throughly Vnderstanding what­soever it is possible for an Infinite Divine Power to do. This, I say, must be sup­posed, for no other Foundation can sup­port the Truth of this Proposition, to wit, That whatsoever is humanly not In­telligible, is, and ought to be reckoned, upon the same account, also Impossible. But then [Page 304] every one must needs see, and explode the horrible falseness of the foremention­ed Supposition, upon which alone this Assertion is built; and consequently this Assertion it self must needs be altogether as false.

For who can comprehend, or through­ly understand how the Soul is united to, and how it acts by, and upon the Body? Who can comprehend or give a full account how Sensation is performed? Or who can lay open to us the whole Mechanism of Motion in all the Springs and Wheels of it? Nay, who can resolve and clear off all the Difficulties about the Composi­tion of a continued Quantity, as whether it is Compounded of Parts Divisible or In­divisible? Both of which are attended with insuperable Objections: And yet all these things are not only Possible but also Actually Existent in Nature. From all which therefore, and from a thousand more such Instances (which might easily be produced) I conclude, That for any one to deny or reject the Mysteries of our Religion as Impossible, because of the [Page 305] Incomprehensibleness of them is upon all true Principles, both of Divinity and Philosophy utterly Inconsequent, and Irra­tional.

Thirdly. In the Third and last place, we learn also from what has been discoursed, the great Vanity and Extravagant Pre­sumption of such as pretend to clear up all Mysteries, and determine all Controversies in Religion. The Attempts of which sort of Men I can liken to nothing so proper­ly as to those Pretences to Infallible Cures, which we daily see posted up in every corner of the Streets; and I think it is great pity, but that both these sort of Pretences were Posted up together. For I know no Universal, Infallible Reme­dy, which certainly Cures, or rather car­ries off all Diseases, and puts an end to all Disputes, but Death: Which yet, for all that, is a Remedy not much in Request. Quacks, and Mountebanks, are, doubtless, a very dangerous sort of Men in Physick, but much more so in Divinity: They are both of them al­ways very large in Pretence and Promise, [Page 306] but short in Performance, and generally Fatal in their Practice. For there are several Depths and Difficulties (as I no­ted before) both in Philosophy and Divi­nity, which Men of Parts and solid Learning, after all their Study, find they cannot come to the bottom of, but are forced to give them over as Things Unresolveable, and will by no means be brought to Pronounce dogmatically on either side of the Question.

Amongst which said Difficulties per­haps there is hardly a greater, and more undecideable Problem in Natural Theology, and which has not only Exercised but even Crucifyed the greatest Wits of all Ages, than the Reconciling of the Im­mutable Certainty of God's fore-knowledge with the Freedom and Contingency of all Humane Acts, both Good and Evil, so fore-known by Him. Both parts of which Problem are certainly true, but how to explain and make out the Accord between them without overthrowing one of them, has hitherto exceeded the force of Man's Reason. And therefore Socinus very [Page 307] roundly, or rather indeed very profane­ly denies any such Prescience of future Contingents to be in God at all. But as profane as he was in thus cutting asunder this knot, others have been as ridiculous in pretending to untie it. For do not some in their Discourses about the Di [...]ne Attributes and Decrees, promise the World such a clear account, such an open ex­plicite Scheme of these great Things as should make them plain and evident, even to the meanest Capacities? And the Truth is, if to any Capacities at all, it must be to the meanest; for to those of an higher pitch, and a larger compass, these Things neither are, nor will, nor ever can be made evident. And if such Persons could but obtain of Heaven a continu­ance of Life, till they made good what they so confidently undertake, they would be in a sure way to out-live not only Methusalah, but even the World it self. But then, in come some other Vn­dertakers, and promise us the same or greater Wonders in Christian Theology, offering by some new whimsical explica­tions [Page 308] of their own to make the deepest Mysteries of our Christian Faith, as plain, easy, and intelligible (forsooth) as that two and two make four; that is, in other words, they will represent and render them such Mysteries as shall have nothing at all Mystical in them.

And now is not this, think we, a most profound invention, and much like the discovery of some New-found-land, some O Brazile in Divinity? with so much absurd confidence do some Discourse or rather Romance upon the most Mysterious Points of the Christian Faith; that any Man of Sense and Sobriety, would be apt to think such Persons not only beside their Subject, but beside themselves too. And the like censure we may justly pass upon all other such idle Pretenders; the true Character of which sort of Men is, That he who thinks and says he can under­stand all Mysteries, and resolve all Con­troversies, undeniably shews, that he really understands none.

In the mean time, we may here ob­serve the true way, by which these [Page 309] Great and Adorable Mysteries of our Religion, come first to be Ridiculed, and Blasphemed, and at length totally laid aside by some; and that is, by their be­ing first innovated upon, and new modelled by the bold, senseless, and absurd Ex­plications of others. For, first of all such Innovators break down those sacred Mounds which Antiquity had placed a­bout these Articles, and then Hereticks and Blasphemers, rush in upon them, trample them under foot, and quite throw them out of our Creed. This course we have seen taken amongst us, and the Church (God bless it, and those who are over it) has been hitherto profoundly silent at it; but how long God (whose Ho­nour is most concerned) will be so too, none can tell. For if some Novellists may put what sense they please upon the Writings of Moses, and others do the like with the Articles of the Christian Church also, (and the greatest encourage­ment attend both) I cannot see, (unless some extraordinary Providence prevent it) but that both these Religions are in [Page 310] a direct way to be run down amongst us, and that in a very short time too.

Let every Sober, Humble, and Dis­creet Christian therefore be advised to dread all tampering with the Mysteries of our Faith, either by any new, and un­warrantable explications of them, or de­scants upon them. The Great Apostle of the Gentiles, who, I am sure, had as clear a knowledge of the whole Mystery of the Gospel, as any in his time, and a greater plenty of Revelations than any one could pretend to since him, treated these mat­ters with much another kind of Re­verence, crying out with Horrour and Amazement, O the Depth and Vnsearch­ableness of the things of God. In Rom. 11.33. And again, Who is sufficient for these Things! In 2 Cor. 2.16. This was his Judgment, these were his Thoughts of these Dreadful and Myste­rious Depths; and the same, no doubt, will be the thoughts and judgment of all others concerning them, who have any thing of Depth themselves. For as the same Apostle again has it in that [Page 311] most noted place in the 1 Tim. 3.16. Without Controversy great is the Mystery of Godliness: God manifested in the Flesh, justifyed in the Spirit, seen of Angels, be­lieved on in the World, and received up in­to Glory.

To which God Infinitely Wise, Holy, and Great, be rendred and ascribed, as is most Due, all Praise, Might, Majesty, and Dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.

THE Lineal Descent OF Jesus of Nazareth From David by his Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary.

Proved in a DISCOURSE On Revel. xxii.16.

Revel. xxii.16. latter part.

I am the Root and the Off-spring of David, and the Bright and Morn­ing Star.

THE Words here pitched upon by me, are the Words of Christ now glorified in Heaven, and seem (as it were) by the Union of a double Festi­val, to represent to us both the Nativity and Epiphamy, while they lead us to the Birth of Christ by the direction of a Star: though with this difference, I confess, that both the Means directing and the Term directed to do in this place coincide; and Christ the Person speaking as well as spoken of, is here the only Star to direct us to Himself. The Nativity of Christ is certainly a Compendium of the whole Gospel, in that it thus both begins and ends it, reaching from the first Chap­ter of St. Matthew, to this last of the [Page 316] Revelation; which latter though it be confessedly a Book of Mysteries and a Sy­stem of occult Divinity; yet surely it can contain nothing more Mysterious and Stupendious than the Mystery here wrapt up in the Text, where we have Christ declaring himself both the Root, and the Off-spring of David. For that any one should be both Father and Son to the same Person, produce himself, be Cause and Effect too, and so the Copy give Being to its Original, seems at first sight so very strange and unaccountable, that were it not to be adored as a Myste­ry, it would be exploded as a Contra­diction. But since the Gospel has lifted us above our Reason, and taught us one of the great Arcana of Heaven, by assu­ring us that Divinity and Humanity may cohabit in one subsistence, that two Na­tures may concur in the same Person, and Heaven and Earth mingle without Confusion; we being thus taught and perswaded, shall here endeavour to ex­hibit the whole Oeconomy of Christ's Glorious Person, and to shew what a [Page 317] Miracle He was, as well as what Miracles He did, by considering him under these three several Respects.

First, As the Root. Secondly, As the Off-spring of David. And

Thirdly, As He is here termed, The Bright and Morning Star.

And First for the first of these

Christ was the Root of David; but How? Certainly in respect of some­thing in him which had a Being before David. But his humanity had not so, being of a much later date, and there­fore, as a meer Man, he could not be the Root of David; whereupon it follows that he must have been so in respect of some other Nature: But what that Na­ture was will be the Question. The Ari­ans who denied his Divinity, but grant­ed his Pre-existence to his Humanity (which the Socinians absolutely deny) held him to be the first Born of the Crea­tion; the first, and most Glorious Crea­ture which God made, A Spiritual Substance produced by him long before the Foundation of the World, and after­wards [Page 318] in the fulness of time sent into a Body, and so made Incarnate. This is what they hold; whereby it appears how much they differ from the School of Soci­nus, though some with great impertinence confound them. Arius taught that Christ had a Spiritual Subsistence before the World began: Socinus held that he was a meer Man, and had no subsistence or being at all, till such time as he was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the Womb of the Virgin Mary. I shall not much concern my self about these two Opinions, as they stand in Opposition to one another; but only remark this of them, That Socinus asserts a thing consi­dered barely in it self more agreeable to Reason, which can much better con­ceive of Christ as a Man naturally con­sisting of Soul and Body, than as such an Heterogeneous Composition of a Body and (I know not what) strange Spiritual Substance Existing before the Creation, as the Arians represent him: But then on the other side, the Opinion of Arius is of the two, much more difficult to be con­futed [Page 319] by Scripture: For as to Socinus, the chief Arguments brought from thence against him, are not such as are taken from the Name or Actions of God, at­tributed to Christ; which he thinks he easily answers by asserting that God is a Name not of Nature, but of Power and Dominion; and that Christ is cal­led God because of the Power and Government of all things put into his Hands; as earthly Kings also, in their proportion, have in Scripture the same Title, upon the same account. But the Arguments which bear hardest upon So­cinus, are such as are taken from those Scriptures, which beyond all possibility of Rational Contradiction, declare the Pre-existence and Precedent Being of Christ to his Conception, such as Ioh. 8. 58. Before Abraham was, I am. And in Ioh. 17.5. Glorify me, O Father, with the Glory which I had with thee, before the World was; which all the Socinians in the World could never yet give any clear, proper, and natural exposition of; but unnaturally and illogically pervert [Page 320] and distort them in defyance of Sence, and Reason, and all the received ways of Interpretation. But now as for Ari­us, the Allegation of these and the like Scriptures prejudice not his Hypothesis at all; who grants Christ to have been a Glorious Spiritual Substance, of an Existence not only before Abraham, but also before Adam, and the Angels them­selves, and the whole Host of the Crea­tion. But what? Was Christ then the Root of David only in respect of this Spi­ritual, Pre-existing, Created Substance, first found out and set up by Arius? No, certainly; for the Scripture, and (the best Comment upon the Scripture) a general Council, and that also the first and most Famous, even the Council of Nice have condemned this. And all those Scriptures which make Christ ei­ther One with, or equal to the Father, clearly confute and overthrow so absurd, as well as blasphemous an Assertion. Let this therefore be fixed upon, that Christ was the Root, or Original of David, as he was of all Mankind besides; Name­ly, [Page 321] in respect of His Divinity; of that Infinite, Eternal Power, which display­ed it self in the Works of the Creation. For by him all things were made, as the Evangelist tells us. Iohn 1.3. But how ready natural Reason will be to rise up against this Assertion, I am not Ignorant; and how [that Iesus of Nazareth, a Man like our selves, should be accounted by Nature God, the Creator of the World, Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Eternal] is look'd upon by many as a Proposition not only false, but foolish, and fitter to be laugh'd than disputed out of the World, this also is no surprize to us. But then on the other side, That this is a thing not to be found­ed upon, or to take its rise from the bare discourses of Reason, he must be very much a Stranger to Reason Himself, who shall venture to deny; for if it may be proved by Reason, (as I doubt not but it may) that the Scripture is the Word of God, addressed to Men; and consequent­ly ought to be understood and interpre­ted according to the familiar natural way of construction, proper to humane Wri­tings; [Page 322] then I affirm that to deny Christ to be naturally God, is irrational; when, His being so, is so frequently asserted throughout the whole Scripture, and that in as clear terms, as it is possible for one Man to express his Mind by to another, if it were his purpose to declare this very Thing to Him.

And therefore I have often wondred at the preposterous Tenets of Socinus, and that not so much for his denying the natural Deity of our Saviour, as that he should do it after he had wrote a Book for the Authority of the Scripture. For upon the same reasons that He and his Sect deny the Deity of Christ, I should rather deny the Scripture to be of Divine Authority. They say, for Christ to be God is a thing absurd and impossible; from which I should argue, that that Writing or Doctrine, which affirms a thing ab­surd and impossible, cannot be true, and much less the Word of God. And that the Gospel affirms so much of Christ we may appeal to the judgment of any impartial Heathen, who understands the [Page 323] Language in which it is Written. But he who first denies the Deity of Christ as absurd and impossible, and thereupon rejects the Divine Authority of the Scri­pture for affirming it, may be presumed upon the supposal of the former to do the latter very Rationally. So that he who would take the most proper and direct way to Convince such an one of his Heresy (if there be any convincing of one who first takes up his Opinion, and then seeks for Reasons for it) must not, I conceive, endeavour in the first place to Convince him out of Scripture [That Iesus Christ is God] but turn the whole force and stress of his Disputation to the proof of this [That the Scripture is the Word of God to Mankind, and upon that account ought to be interpre­ted as the Writings of Men use, and ought to be] and if so, he who will make sense of them, must grant the Di­vinity of Christ to be clearly asserted in them, and irrefragably inferred from them. In short, if the Adversaries of Christ's Divinity can prove Christ not to be God, [Page 324] they must by consequence prove that the Scriptures Naturally and Gramma­tically interpreted, are not the Word of God: But on the contrary, the Church being assured that the Scriptures so in­terpreted are the Word of God, is conse­quently assured also, that Christ is, and must be God. Nevertheless if according to the unreasonable demands of the Men of this Sect, this and all other Myste­ries of our Religion should be put to an­swer for themselves at the Bar of Humane Reason, I would fain know, wherein consists the Paradox of asserting Christ to be God? For no Man saies that his Humane Nature is his Divine, or that he is God as he is Man. But we assert that he who is God is also Man, by ha­ving two Natures united into one and the same Subsistence. And if the Soul which is an Immaterial Substance is united to the Body, which is a Material; though the case is not altogether the same, yet it is so very near, that we may well ask, what Repugnancy there is, but that the Divine Nature may as well be united to the [Page 325] Humane? I believe if we reduce things to our way of Conception, we shall find it altogether as hard to conceive the Conjunction of the two former, as of the two latter: and this, notwithstanding that other Difference also of finite and infinite between them: for why a finite and an Infinite Being may not be United to one Another by an Intimate and in­separable Relation, and an Assumption of the finite, into the Personal subsistence of the Infinite, I believe it will be hard for any one to give a Solid and Demon­strative Reason: For Scoffs and Railery (the Usual Arguments brought against it) I am sure, are not so. But I forget my self; for the Persons here dispu­ted against believe not the Soul to be either immaterial or Tantùm id mihi videtur statui posse, post hanc Vitam, Ho­minis Animam sive Animum non ita per se subsistere, ut ulla praemia poenásve sentiar, vel etiam illa sentiendi sit capax. And again. In ipso primo homine to [...]ius immortalitatis rationem uni gratiae Dei tribuo; nec in ipsâ▪ Creatione quicquam immortalis Vitae in homine agnosco. Socin. Ep. 5. ad Joh. Volkelium. See more of the like nature cited by the Learned Dr. Ashwell in his Dissertation de Socino & Socinianismo. Pag. 187, 88, 89, &c. na­turally immortal; but are much the same with the Sadduces, and upon that [Page 326] account fitter to be crush'd by the civil Magistrate, as destructive to Government and Society, than to be confuted as meer­ly Hereticks in Religion.

I conclude therefore against the Scoffs of the Heathens, the Disputations of the Jews, the Impiety of Arius, and the Bold, Blasphemous Assertions of Socinus, that the Man Christ Jesus, Born at Bethlem, of the Virgin Mary, is God, God by Na­ture, the Maker of all Things, the Fountain of Being, the Ancient of Days, the First and the Last, of whose Being there was no Beginning, and of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. And in this one Propo­sition the very Life and Heart of Chri­stianity does consist. For as, That there is a God, is the grand Foundation of Re­ligion in general: So, that Iesus Christ is God, is the Foundation of the Christian Religion; and, I believe, it will one day be found, that he who will not ac­knowledge Christ for his Creator, shall never have him for his Redeemer.

Having thus shewn how Christ was the Root and Original of David, pass we [Page 327] now to the next thing proposed, which is to shew

Secondly, That He was His Off­spring too, and so, having asserted his Divinity, to clear also his Humanity. That the Christian Religion be True, is the Eternal Concernment of all those who believe it, and look to be saved by it. And that it be so, depends upon Jesus Christ's being the true promised Messias, (the grand and chief thing as­serted by him in his Gospel); and lastly, Christ's being the true Messias depends upon his being the Son of David, and King of the Jews. So that unless this be evinced, the whole Foundation of Christianity must totter and fall, as be­ing a cheat, and an Imposture upon the World. And therefore let us under­take to clear this great, important Truth, and to demonstrate that Jesus of Nazareth, was the true seed of David and Rightful King of the Iews.

His Pedigree is drawn down by two of the Evangelists, by St. Matth. in his 1st. Chapter and by St. Luke in his 3d. [Page 328] from whence our adversaries oppose us with these two great difficulties.

First, That these two Evangelists dis­agree in deducing of His Pedigree.

Secondly, That supposing they were pro­ved to agree, yet both of their Pedigrees terminate in Ioseph, and therefore belong not to Iesus, who was not indeed the Son of Ioseph, but of Mary.

In answer to which we are to ob­serve, that concerning this whole Mat­ter there are two Opinions.

First, That both in St. Matth. and St. Luke only the Pedigree of Ioseph is recounted, in the first his Natural, in the other his Legal: For it being a known Custom among the Jews, that, a Man dying without issue, his Brother should Marry his▪ Widow, and raise up seed to him, Eli hereupon dying without any Child, Iacob took his Wife and of her begat Ioseph; who by this means was Naturally the Son of Iacob as St. Matth. deduces it; and Legally or reputedly the Son of Eli, as St. Luke. And then to make Iacob and Eli Brothers, who are [Page 329] there set down in different lines, it is said that Matthan of the line of Solomon, and Melchi of the line of Nathan, successively Married the same Woman (Estha by Name) of whom Matthan begat Iacob, and Melchi begat Eli: Whereupon Ia­cob and Eli being Brothers by the Mo­ther, though of different Fathers, Eli dying without issue Iacob was obliged by Law to Marry his Relict, and so to raise up seed to his Brother Eli.

Now all this is grounded upon an Antient story of one Iulius Africanus re­corded by Eusebius, in his first Book and seventh Chapter. And of late Faustus So­cinus, (who having denied Christ's Di­vine Nature was resolved to cut Him short both Root and Branch, and to deny His Humane too; at least as to the most Considerable circumstance of it, which concerned the credit of His being the true Messias) he, I say, catches at this forlorn story, and ascribes much to it in that Book of his called his Lectiones Sacrae; and though generally a profest despiser of Antiquity, yet when he [Page 330] thinks it may make any thing for his purpose, he can catch at every fabulous scrap of it, and thereupon vouches this as Authentick, even for its Antiquity. From which Opinion it follows, that Christ was only the Reputed Son of Da­vid, that is to say, because His Mother was Married to one who was really of David's Line. And this the whole Sect of Socinus affirms to be sufficient to de­nominate and make Christ the Son of David, and accordingly allow Him so to be upon no other or nearer Account.

But of the Authors and Assertors of this Opinion we may well demand, that admitting Christ might upon this account be called the Son of David in the large and loose way of that Denomination, yet how could He for this only reason be call'd the seed of David? Nay, and, what is yet more full and express, be said to be made of the seed of David, as it is in Rom. 1.3. And further, to be the Fruit of his loins. As it is in Acts 2.30. I say, with what propriety or accord with the common use of speaking, could one Man [Page 331] be said to be another Man's seed and the fruit of his loins, when he had no other Re­lation to him in the World, than that his Mother only Married with a Person who stood so related to that Other. I be­lieve the Jews would desire no greater a Concession from us than this, whereby to conclude and argue Iesus of Nazareth not to have been the true Messiah. Let us therefore leave this Opinion to it self, as destructive to the main foundation of our Religion, and fit to be owned by none but the mortal Enemies of Christ and Christianity, the Iews and the Socinians; and so pass to the

Second Opinion, which is, that both Ioseph and Mary came from David by true and real Descent, and that, as Io­seph's Genealogy and Pedigree is set down in that line, which St. Matth. gives an account of; so the Virgin Mary's lineage is recited in that which is recorded by St. Luke; which Opinion as it has been generally received by Divines of the greatest note, and best answers those difficulties and objections which the o­ther [Page 332] is beset with; so I shall endeavour fully to clear and set it down in these following Propositions.


First. The first Proposition is this, That the designs of the two Evangelists in their respective Deductions of our Saviour's Pedigree, are very different. For St. Matthew intends only to set down His Political or Royal Pedigree, by which he had right to the Crown of the Jews; but St. Luke shews his Natural Descent through the several successions of those from whom He took Flesh and Blood. And that this is so, besides that natural Rea­son taken from the impossibility of one and the same Person's having two several Fathers, as St. Matth. and St. Luke seem at first sight to import: We have these farther Arguments for the said Assertion; as First, that St. Matth. begins his reck­oning only from Abraham; to whom the first promise of the Kingdom was made. Gen. 17.6. But St. Luke runs his line up to Adam the first Head and Fountain of Humane Nature; which fairly shews [Page 333] that one deduced only His Title to the Crown, the other the Natural Descent of his Humanity. And then in the Se­cond Place, that St. Matthew used the word [begat] only in a Political sence is further clear from this, That he applies it to him who had no Child, even to Ie­coniah, of whom it is expressly said in Ieremiah 22.33 that God wrote him Child­less. Whereupon, being deposed by the King of Babylon, Zedekiah his Uncle was made King, and afterwards upon the removal of him also for his Rebellion, (there remaining no more of the Line of Solomon) Sulatheil being next of Kin was declared King of the Jews. Which Salathiel, upon that account, is said to be begot by Ieconiah, in St. Matthew; not because he was naturally his Son, but Legally and Politically so; as succeeding him in the Inheritance of the Crown. For though in 1 Chron. 3. 17. there is mention of As­sir, and of Salathiel, as it were of two Sons of Ieconiah; As it stands recti­fyed by Junius and Tremellius, who place the Comma after As­sir, and not between Jeconiah, and that. yet in truth Assir there [Page 334] is not the proper name of a Person, nor of any Son of Ieconiah, but is only an Appellative of Ieconiah Himself, signifying one under Captivity, or in Bonds as Ieco­niah then was in Babylon, when Salathiel was declared King. And that Salathiel is not there set down as his Son in a Na­tural sence, is evident from the 16. Verse of the same Chap. where Zedekiah is like­wise said to be his Son; though naturally he was his Vncle; yet because Zedekiah first succeeded him in the Kingdom, and Salathiel next, Ieconiah still surviving, therefore both of them in that Political sence, I spoke of, are said to be his Sons, whom, in the Natural sence, the Prophet Ieremy (as has been shewn) declares to have been Childless.


Note that those four Sons of David by Bath­sheba mentioned in 1 Chron. 3.5. are not there set down ac­cording to the order of their Birth. For So­lomon, though last named▪ was certainly Born first; and Na­than (as he is gene­rally reckoned) imme­diately next.The second Proposition is this. That as David had several Sons by former Wives, so by Bathsheba also he had three, besides Solo­mon, of which the Eldest next to him was Nathan: [Page 335] And that Christ descended naturally from David, not by Solomon, but by Nathan. And accordingly that St. Luke deduces only Nathan's Line; upon which account it is, that the Iews at this day in opposition to the Christians make it one main Article of their Creed, that the Messias was to descend naturally from Solomon; and accordingly pronounce a Curse upon all those who assert the con­trary: Though to this very hour they have not been able to assign who was the Son of Ieconiah, whom God wrote Child­less; nor to shew any solid Reason, why, if Jeconiah had any natural Issue of his own, the Crown and Scepter of Judah, came to be devolved upon the Line of Nathan, as it actually was in Salathiel and his Suc­cessors. Add to this (which is a thing well worth observing) that although it is frequently said in Scripture, that the Messias should descend from David, yet it is never said that he should descend from Solomon. For though in 1 Chron. 22.10. it is said of Solomon, that God would establish the Throne of his Kingdom over Israel [Page 336] for ever, yet it is not said, that he would establish it in his Seed or Line; and be­sides, the Kingdom, here spoken of and intended, was the Spiritual Kingdom over the Church of God, typifyed in that Temporal one of Solomon: Which Spiri­tual Kingdom was establish'd only in the Person of the Messias, whom we believe to have been Iesus of Nazareth, the Great King and Head of the Church, God blessed for ever.


The third Proposition is this, That the Crown of Iudah being now come into the Line of Nathan in Salathiel, (whose immediate Son was Pedaiah (though not mentioned in the Succession, because he died before his Fathers assumption to the Crown) and next to Salathiel, the Great and Renowned Zorobabel,) for as much as Matthew and Luke agree from Jeconiah to Zorobabel, (after whom they divide, each ascribing to him a different Succes­sor, viz. one of them Abiud, and the other Rhesa,) we are rationally to suppose, that these two were the Sons of Zorobabel: [Page 337] and that from Abiud the elder Brother, (who only had right to the Crown and Kingdom) lineally descended Joseph, ac­cording to the Calculation of St. Matthew; and that from Rhesa the younger Bro­ther, descended Mary, of whom Jesus was Born, according to St. Luke's de­scription: For though in the above mentioned 3. Chap. of 1 Chron. (where there is an account given of Zorobabel's Sons) there occur not the names of Abiud and Rhesa; yet it being common with the Jews for one Man sometimes to have two Names, there is ground e­nough for us, without any presumpti­on, to believe and conclude that it so happened here.


The fourth Proposition is this, That it was the Custom of the Jews not to reckon the Woman by Name in her Pedigree, but to reckon the Husband in right of his Wife. For which Reason Joseph is twice reckoned, viz. First in his own right by St. Matthew; And, Secondly in his Wife Mary's right by St. Luke. For Mary was properly the [Page 338] Daughter of Eli; and Ioseph who is there reckoned after him, is so reckoned not as his Natural Son, but as his Son-in-Law, instead of his Wife Mary, according to that Custom of the Iews. Whereupon it is noted by Chemnitius, that St. Luke doth not say that Ioseph was the Son of Eli, or Eli begat Ieseph, as St. Matthew pre­cisely doth, that Iacob begat Joseph, but [...], who was of Eli, that is, was re­lated to him, and belonged to his Fa­mily, viz. as his Son-in-Law. Nor ought any to object against Mary's be­ing the Daughter of Eli that ancient and received tradition, which reports her the Daughter of Ioachim and Anna; for, as the Learned Bishop Mountague ob­serves Eli and Ioachim, however they are two words, (and very different) are yet but one name, and signify but one Person; Eli being but [...], a diminutive of Eliakim, and Eliakim the same with Iehojachim or Joachim, as ap­pears from 2 Kings 23.34. and 2 Chron. 36.4. quoting withal two noted Jewish [Page 339] Rabbies,Acts and Monuments of the Church, P. 522. viz. Macana Ben Nehemiae, and Rabbi Haca­dosh, in Confirmation of the same, and with particular Application of it to the Father of the Blessed Virgin, there pointed out by them as the Mother of the Messias.


The fifth and last Proposition is this, That although Jesus of Nazareth natural­ly descended only from Mary, yet he de­rives not his Title to the Crown and Kingdom of the Jews originally by the Line of Mary, (for as much as she sprang from the Line of Rhesa the younger Son of Zorobabel) but received that from Jo­seph, who was of the elder Line by A­biud; which Line of Abiud failing in Joseph, as having no Issue, the right of Inheritance devolved upon one of the younger Line, viz. upon Mary, and consequently upon Jesus her Son and Legal Heir. From whence there rises this unanswerable Argument, both a­gainst the Opinion of those who affirm Joseph to have had other Children by a [Page 340] former Wife; as also against that old Heresy of Helvidius, who against the ge­neral and constant sence of the Church, denied the perpetual Virginity of Mary, affirming that Joseph had other Children by her after the Birth of Jesus. Spanhe­mius in his Dubia Evangelica, concludes against the Opinion of Helvidius (which I much marvel at) meerly upon the ac­count of Decency and Congruity, as judging it more sutable and agreeable to that honourable esteem we ought to have of our Blessed Saviour's Mother, to hold that after his Birth she remained a per­petual Virgin. But I add, that to assert so, seems not only decent, but of as ab­solute necessity, as that Jesus Christ the Messias was to be of right King of the Jews. For had Joseph had any Chil­dren either by Mary, or any other Wife, they as coming from the elder Line of Abiud by Joseph their Father, must have claimed the Inheritance of the Kingdom in his right, and not Jesus the Son of Mary, who descended from a younger Line, and so could not legally inherit, [Page 341] but upon default of Issue from Ioseph the only remaining Heir of the Elder. For this was the Law of Moses, which in this case would have barr'd Jesus from a Title to the Kingdom of the Jews. But we know Jesus came to fullfil the Law in every part and tittle of it; and therefore would never have own'd himself King of the Jews, contrary to the express in­junctions and tenour of it. For though it must be confessed that the Gospel makes mention of the Brothers and Sisters of Ie­sus, yet it is known to be most usual in the Jewish Language to call any collate­ral Kindred, as Cousins and Cousin-germans by that Name. And Antiquity reports the Virgin Mary to have had two Sisters, the Children of which might very well be called the Brethren of Jesus. So that from hence there can be no necessity of granting that Jesus had any Brother or Sister either by his Mother Mary, or his reputed and legal Father Joseph.

And thus I have endeavour'd to make out our Blessed Saviour's descent from the Line of David. But as for that [Page 242] Opinion which asserts him to have been of the Tribe of Levi, because his Mother Mary was Cousin to Elizabeth who was of that Tribe, it is very Weak and Ground­less. For no Man asserts Iesus to have been so of the House of David as to ex­clude all Relation to other Tribes and Families, with which by mutual Marriages he might well contract a Kindred; it being prohibited to none but Heiresses to Marry out of their own Family. And as for ano­ther Opinion, which (in order to the make­ing of Christ a Priest) affirms Nathan the Son of David, from whom Christ de­scended, to have been a Priest, as Solomon was a King, and so to have founded a Sacerdotal line as Solomon did a Royal; this being a conceit both so Groundless in it self, and withal so expresly contra­dicted by the Scripture, which in Heb. 7. 13. so positively affirms that no Man of the Tribe of Judah, ever gave attendance at the Altar, I say upon this account it de­serves no further Thought, and much less Confutation.

Now to summ up all that has been de­livered, [Page 343] it briefly amounts to thus much, That the Royal Line of David by Solo­mon being extinct in Ieconiah, the Crown and Kingdom passed into the immediate­ly Younger Line of Nathan (another Son of David) in Salathiel and Zorobabel; which Zorobabel having two Sons Abiud and Rhesa, the Royal dignity descended of right upon the Line of Abiud, of which Joseph was the last, who Marrying the Virgin Mary, which sprung from the Line of Rhesa the younger Son of Zorobabel, and withall having no issue Himself, his Right passes into the Line of Mary be­ing the next of kin, and by that means upon Iesus her Son. Whereupon, He was both naturally the Son of David, and also Legally the King of the Jews; which latter is accounted to us by St. Matthew, as the former is by St. Luke; who de­livers down the Pedigree of Mary the Mother of Iesus, and Daughter of Eli: though Ioseph her Husband only stands there named according to the known way of the Jews Computing their Ge­nealogies.

[Page 344]And this to me seems a most clear, full, and manifest deduction of our Savi­our's Pedigree from David, which yet I shall further confirm with this one Consideration; That whatsoever Cavils the modern Jews, and others make now a-days against the Genealogies recorded by the Evangelists; yet the Jews their Contemporaries who were most nice and exactly skillful in things of this Nature, and with all most malitiously bent against Christ, and Christianity, never offered to quarrel against, or invalidate the Accounts they have given us of this particular; which had they been faulty, the Jews would most certainly have done; this giving them so vast an advantage against us. And this consideration alone, were we now not able particularly to clear these matters, is of that weig [...] and sub­stance, that, so far as terms of Moral cer­tainty can demonstrate a thing, it ought with every sober and judicious person to have even the force of a Demonstration. But the discussion, which has already passed upon this subject, will afford us [Page 345] ground firm enough for the most Rational and Impartial belief to stand upon. How­ever if any one knows some other way of clearing this great Article of our Faith, which may better accord all difficulties, and lie open to fewer and lesser excepti­ons, he will do a worthy service to the Christian Religion to produce it, and none shall be more thankful to him for it than my self.

Having thus finish'd the second part of my Text which speaks, Christ the off­spring of David, according to His Hu­mane Nature; as the First, declared Him the Root of David in respect of His Di­vine, I shall descend now to that

Third and Last part of the Text, which represents Him to us under the glorious Denomination of the Bright and Morning Star.

Three things there are Considerable in a Star.

  • First, The Nature of its Substance.
  • Secondly, The Manner of its Appear­ance.
  • Thirdly, The Quality of its Operation.

[Page 346]In every one of which respects Christ bears a lively Resemblance to it.

First, And First for the Nature of its Substance. It is commonly defined in Philosophy the Purest, and most refined pa [...]t of its Orb; by which it is distin­guished from all those Meteors and shin­ing Nothings that ascend no further than the Air, how high soever the mistake and ignorance of Vulgar Eyes may place them; as also from the other parts of the Celestial Sphere or Orb in which it is. In like manner, was not Christ the Pu­rest and the Noblest part of the World, which was the Sphere and Orb wherein, during His Humiliation, He was pleased to move? He was the very Flower, the Ex­tract and Quintessence of Mankind Uni­ting all the perfections of it in His Per­son, without any alloy or mixture of imperfection. Upon which account Da­vid by the Spirit of Prophecy calls Him fairer than the Sons of Men, as being anointed with the oyl of gladness above His fellows: that is, the graces of the Spirit descend­ed not upon Him in those minute porti­ons, [Page 247] and stinted measures that they do upon other Mortals. Their drop was nothing to His Ocean.

And to shew yet further of how pure a Make He was, we know Him to have been wholly untoucht with any thing of that Original Stain, which has Univer­sally sunk into the Nature of all Men besides. He was a Second Adam without any of the guilt contracted by the First; He was born a Man without any Hu­mane Imperfections; A Rose without thorns. He was nothing but Purity it self; Vertue cloathed in a Body and In­nocence Incarnate. So blameless and free from all shaddow of guilt, that the very Jews His bitter Enemies gave Him this Testimony, that He had done all things well, Mark. 7.37. And even Pilate His unjust Judge, though he took from Him His Life, yet left Him His Innocence, de­claring openly That he found in Him no fault at all, John 18.38.

There are spots (they say) not in the Moon only, but also in the face of the Sun it self: But this Star was of a greater, [Page 348] and more unblemisht Lustre; for not the least Spot was ever discover'd in it: though malice and envy it self were the Perspectives through which most of the World beheld it. And as it is the Pri­vilege of the Celestial Luminaries to re­ceive no Tincture, Sullage or Defilement from the most noysome sinks and dung­hills here below, but to maintain a Pure, Untainted, Virgin light in spight of all their Exhalations: So our Saviour shined in the World with such an invincible Light of Holiness as suffered nothing of the corrupt manners and depraved Con­verse of Men to rub the least filth or pol­lution upon Him. He was not capable of receiving any Impression from all the Sin and villainy which like a Contagion fastened upon every Soul round about Him. In a Word He was Pure, Righ­teous and Undefiled, not only above the World, but, what is more, in the Midst of it.

Secondly, The next thing considerable in a Star is the manner of its Appearance. It appears but small and of a little Com­pass; [Page 349] So that, although our reason as­sures us that it is bigger than the whole Earth, yet our sight would seem to per­swade us that it is not much bigger than a Diamond sparkling upon the Circle of a little Ring. And now how appositely does this consideration also sute the Con­dition of our Saviour! Who both in His rising and shining upon the World seem­ed in the Eyes of all Men but a small and a Contemptible thing; a poor, helpless Man; first living upon a Trade, and then upon something that was much meaner, namely, upon Alms. Whereupon, what slight thoughts had they of His Person! as if He had been no more than an ordi­nary soul, join'd to an Ordinary Body; and so sent into the World to take His Course in the common lot of Mortality. They little dream'd of a Deity, and of something greater than the World lodged in that little Tabernacle of His Flesh. So that notwithstanding His being the Great and Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts, and King of Kings, yet the gene­rality of Men took Him for but a mean [Page 350] Person, and such another living piece of clay as themselves. And what could be the cause of His being thought so, but the same that makes Stars to be thought little things, even their height and vast distance from poor, earthly spectators? So the Glories of Christ's Person were by the very transcendency of their height placed above the reach and ken of a mor­tal apprehension. And God must yet elevate our Reason by Revelation, or the Son of God Himself will still seem but a small thing in our Eyes. For Carnal reason measures the greatest things by all the disadvantages of their outward appearance, just as little Children judge of the proportion of the Sun and Moon, reckoning that to be the smalness of the Object, which is only the Distance of the Beholder, or the Weakness of the Organ.

Third. The third and Last thing to be considered in a Star: is the Quality of its Operation, which is Twofold. First, Open and Visible, by its Light. Secondly, Secret and Invisible, by its influence. And

First, This Morning Star Operates [Page 351] by its Brightness and Lustre; in respect of which it is the first fruits of Light, and, as it were, Day in its Minority: clearing the Heavenly Stage, and chasing away all other Stars till it reigns in the Firmament alone. And now to make good the Comparison between Christ and this, we shall shew how He by His appearence chaced away many things much admired and gazed at by the World; and particularly these Three.

First, Much of the Heathenish Wor­ship and Superstition; which not only like a Cloud, but like a black and a dark Night, had for along time covered the face of the whole earth, and made such Tri­umphs over the reason of Mankind, that in nothing more appeared the Ruins and Decays of our Nature. And it was un­questionably the greatest and severest In­stance of the Divine Wrath upon Man for his Original Apostacy from God, thus to leave him confounded and uncertain in the management of the greatest affair, and Concernment of his Soul, his Reli­gion. So that, as it was then ordered, it [Page 352] was nothing else but a strange, confused Compound of Absurdity, and Impiety▪ For as to the Object of their Worship, the Apostle tells us that they Worship'd Devils. 1 Cor. 10.20. and elsewhere they worshipt men like themselves. Nay, Birds and Beasts and Creeping things; and, as Historians tell us, Roots and Herbs, Leeks, and Onions; yea and their own base Desires and Affections; Deifying and building Temples to Lust, Anger, Revenge and the like. In summ, They Worship'd all things but God, who only of all things was to have been Wor­shipped.

Now upon the Comeing of Christ very much, though not all, of this Idolatrous Trumpery and Superstition was driven out of the World. So that many of the Oracles (those great instruments of De­lusion) ceased about the Time of our Saviour's Nativity. The Divine Power then dispossessing the Devil of his grea­ter Temples, as well as of his lesser, the bodies of Men: and so casting down the Throne of Fallacy and Superstition, by [Page 353] which he had so long enslaved the Vassal World; and led it Captive at his Pleasure.

Secondly, As the Heathenish false Worship, so also the Iewish imperfect Worship began to be done away by the Coming of Christ. The Jews indeed drew their Religion from a Purer Foun­tain than the Gentiles; God Himself be­ing the Author of it, and so both Enno­bling and Warranting it with the Stamp of Divine Authority. Yet God was plea­sed to limit His Operations in this par­ticular to the Narrowness and small Ca­pacities of the subject which He had to deal with; and therefore the Jews being naturally of a gross and sensual appre­hension of things, had the Oeconomy of their Religion, in many parts of it, brought down to their temper, and were trained to Spirituals by the ministry of Carnal Ordinances. Which yet God was pleased to advance in their significa­tion, by making them Types and Shad­dows of that Glorious Archetype, that was to Come into the World, His Own Son; both in Person and Office by admirable [Page 354] Mystery and Contrivance fitted to be the Great Redeemer of Mankind. He therefore being the Person to Whom all the Prophets bore Witness, to Whom all Ceremonies pointed, and Whom all the various Types prefigured, it was but reason That when He actually appeared in the World, all that previous Pomp and Apparatus, should go off the Stage, and like Shadows vanish before the Sub­stance. And accordingly, we look upon the whole Mosaical Institution as having received its Period by Christ, as defunct and ceased, and the Church now grown up to that Virility and Stature, as to be above the Discipline of beggarly Rudi­ments, and, like an Adult Heir passing from the Pedagogy of Tutors, to assume its full Liberty and Inheritance. For those, whom Christ makes free, are free indeed.

Thirdly, And Lastly, All pretended false Messiah's vanish'd upon the appear­ance of Christ the True One. A Crown will not want Pretenders to Claim it, nor Usurpers, if their power serves them, to possess it. And hereupon the Messiaship [Page 355] was pretended to by several Impostors: but Fallacy and falshood being naturally weak, they still sunk and came to No­thing. It must be confessed indeed, that there rose up such Counterfeits after Christ, as well as before Him; yet still I think their defeat ought to be ascribed to His Coming: because as a Light scatters the Darkness on all sides of it: So there was such a Demonstration and Evidence gi­ven of Jesus's being the True Messias by his Coming in the Flesh, that it cast its dis­covering Influence both backwards and forwards; and equally baffled and confu­ted the Pretences of those who went before and of those who Rose up after Him. So Potent and Victorious is Truth; especially when it comes upon such an Er­rand from Heaven as to save the World.

Amongst those several false Messias's it is remarkable that one called himself Barchocab, or the Son of a Star: but by his fall he quickly shew'd himself of a Nature far differing from this Glorious Morning Star mentioned in the Text; Which even then was fixed in Heaven, [Page 356] while it shone upon the Earth. It was not the Transitory light of a Comet, which shines and glares for a while and then pre­sently vanishes into Nothing; but a Light, Durable and Immortal, and such an One as shall outlive the Sun, and shine and burn when Heaven and Earth and the whole World shall be reduced to Cinders.

Having thus shewn how Christ resem­bled a Star in respect of His external vi­sible shinings to the World, by which He drove away much of the Heathenish Ido­latry; all the Jewish Ceremonies; toge­ther with the Pretences of all counterfeit Messias's, as the light dispels and chaces away the Darkness. Come we now in the

Second place to see how He re­sembles a Star also in respect of its In­ternal, secret Operation, and Influence upon all Sublunary, Inferior beings. And indeed this is the Noblest and the greatest part of the Resemblance. Stars are thought to Operate powerfully even then, when they do not appear; and are felt by their Effects when they are not seen by their Light. In like manner, Christ [Page 357] often strikes the Soul, and darts a secret beam into the heart without alarming ei­ther the Eye or Ear of the Person wrought upon. And this is called both properly and elegantly by St. Peter in 2 Ep. [...].19. The Day-star's arising in our Hearts; that is, by the secret silent workings of His Spi­rit He illuminates the Judgment, bends the Will and the Affections, and at last changes the whole Man: and this is that powerful but still Voice by which He speaks Eternal Peace to the Souls of His Elect in the Admirable but Mysterious Work of their Conversion. So that our great Concern and enquiry should be, whether those Heavenly Beams have reached us inwardly, and pierced into our Minds, as well as shone in our Faces; and whether the Influence of this Star upon us has been such as to govern and draw us after it, as it did the Wisemen, and thereby both make and prove us Wise unto Salvation. For Light is Operative as well as Beautiful, and by working upon the Spirits, affects the Heart as well as plea­ses the Eye. Above all things therefore, [Page 358] let us be strict and impartial in this search, where the Thing Searched for is of such Consequence. For since there are False Lights, Light it self should be tryed: And if we would know infallibly whether it be the Light from Above, by which we are led and live, and whether this Morn­ing-Star has had its full efficacy upon, or rather within us; Let us see whether or no It has scattered the Clouds and darkness of our Spiritual Ignorance, and the noysom foggs of our Lusts and vile Affections? Do we live as the Sons of Light? Do we walk as in the Day; without stumbling into the mire of our old Sins? These are the only sure Evi­dences that Christ is not only a Star in Himself, but such an One also to us. For when the Day-spring from on high vi­sits us truely and effectually, it first takes us out of these Shaddows of Death, and then guides our Feet into the Ways of Peace.

To Which God of His Mercy Vouchsafe to bring us all; To Whom be Rendred and Ascribed as is most due All Honour, &c.

Jesus of Nazareth PROVED The True, and Onely promised Messiah.

IN A SERMON Preached At St Mary's, Oxon.

Before the University, ON Christmas-Day, 1665.

JOHN I.11.

He came to His Own, and His Own received Him not.

I cannot think it directly requisite to the prosecution of these Words (nor will the Time allotted for it permit) to assert and vindicate the foregoing verses from the perverse Interpretations of that false Pretender to reason, and real Subver­ter all Religion, Socinus; Who in the Exposition of this Chapter, together with some part of the 8th (both of them taken from the Posthumous Papers of his Uncle Lelius) laid the foundation of that great Babel of Blasphemies, with which he afterwards so amuzed and pestered the Christian World, and under Colour of Reforming and Refining (forsooth) the best of Religions, has imployed the utmost of his skill and art to bring Men indeed to believe none. And therefore [Page 362] no small cause of Grief must it needs be to all pious minds that such horrid Opini­ons should find so ready a Reception and so fatal a Welcome in so many parts of the World as they have done; considering both what they tend to, and whom they come from. For they tend only to give us such a Christ and Saviour as neither the Prophets, nor Evangelists know, nor speak any thing of. And as for their Origi­nal, if we would trace them up to that, through some of the chief Branches of their Infamous Pedigree we must carry them a little backward from hence; First to the forementioned Faustus Socinus and his Uncle Lelius, and from them to Gen­tilis, and then to Servetus, and so through a long Interval to Mahomet and his Sect, and from them to Photinus, and from him to Arius, and from Arius to Paulus Sa­mosatenus, and from him to Ebion and Cerinthus, and from them to Simon Magus, and so in a direct Line to the Devil himself: Under whose Conduct in the several Ages of the Church these Wretch­es successively have been some of the [Page 363] most Notorious opposers of the Divinity of our Saviour, and would undoubtedly have overthrown the belief of it in the World, could they by all their Arts of wresting, corrupting and false interpre­ting the Holy Text, have brought the Scriptures to speak for them; which they could never yet do. And amongst all the Scriptures, No One has stood so directly and immoveably in their way, as this first Chapter of St. Iohn's Gospel. A Chapter carrying in it so bright and full an Assertion of the Eternal Godhead of the Son, that a Man must put com­mon sense and reason extreamly upon the Rack before he can give any tolerable Exposition of it to the contrary. So that an Eminent Dutch Critick (who could find in his heart (as much as in him lay) to interpret away that Noble and Preg­nant place of Scripture, John 8.58. Be­fore Abraham was I am, from being any Proof at all of Christ's Eternal Pre-ex­istence to His Incarnation, and so to give up one of the main Forts of the Christian Religion to the Socinians,) has yet been [Page 364] forced by the over-powering Evidence of this Chapter, (notwithstanding all his shifts, too manifestly shewing what he would be at) to express himself upon this Subject more agreeably to the sence of the Catholick Church, than in many other places he had done. And well in­deed might he, even for shame it self, do so much, when it is certain that he might have done a great deal more. For such a Commanding Majesty is there in eve­ry Period almost of this Chapter, that it has forced even Heathens, and Atheists (Persons who valued themselves not a little upon their Philosophy) to submit to the Controlling truth of the Proposi­tions here delivered, and instead of con­tradicting or disputing to fall down and worship. For the things here uttered were Mysteries kept hid from Ages, and such as God had for Four Thousand Years together by all the Wise Arts and Methods of His Providence been pre­paring the World for, before it could be fit or ripe to receive them: and there­fore a most Worthy subject they must [Page 365] needs have been for this beloved Apo­stle to impart to Mankind, who having so long lain in the Bosom of Truth it Self, received all things from that Great Original by more Intimate and Immedi­ate Communications than any of the rest of the Apostles were honoured with. In a Word He was of the Cabinet; and there­fore no wonder if He spake Oracles.

In the Text we have these two parts.

  • First, Christ's Coming into the World, in those Words He came to His Own.
  • Secondly, Christ's entertainment being Come, in those other Words, His Own received Him not.

In the former of which there being an Account given us of one of the great­est and most Stupendious Actions that the World was ever yet Witness of, there cannot, I suppose, be a Truer measure taken of the Nature of it than by a di­stinct Consideration of the several Circum­stances belonging to it, which are these.

  • First, The Person Who came.
  • Secondly, The Condition from which He came.
  • [Page 366] Thirdly, The Persons to whom He came. And
  • Fourthly, And Lastly, the Time of His coming,

Of all which in their Order. And,

1. First for the Person who came. It was the Second Person in the Glorious Trinity, the Ever Blessed and Eternal Son of God, Concerning Whom it is a mira­cle and a Kind of Paradox to our Rea­son, (Considering the Condition of his Per­son,) how He could be said to come at all: for since all coming is motion or pro­gression from a place in which we were, to a place in which we were not before; and since Infinity implies an actual com­prehension of, and a presence to all places, it is hard to conceive how He Who was God, could be said to come any whi­ther, Whose Infinity had made all Pro­gression to, or acquisition of a New place impossible. But Christ, who delighted to mingle every Mercy with miracle and wonder, took a finite Nature into the Soci­ety and Union of His Person; whereupon, what was impossible to a Divine Nature, was rendered very possible to a Divine [Page 367] Person; which could rightfully and pro­perly entitle it self to all the respective Actions and Properties of either Nature comprehended within its Personality. So that being made Man, He could do all things that Man could do, except only Sin. Every thing that was purely humane, and had nothing of any Sinful deficiency or turpitude cleaving to it, fell within the Verge and compass of His Acti­ons. But now was there ever any Wonder comparable to this! to behold Divinity thus cloathed in Flesh! the Creator of all things humbled not only to the Company, but also to the Cognation of His Crea­tures! It is as if we should imagine the whole World not only Represented upon, but also contained in one of our little ar­tificial globes; or the body of the Sun invelop'd in a Cloud as big as a Man's hand; all which would be lookt upon as astonishing Impossibilities; and yet as short of the other, as the greatest finite is of an infinite, between which the Disparity is immeasurable. For that God should thus in a manner Transform [Page 368] Himself, and subdue and Master all His Glories to a possibility of humane ap­prehension and converse, the best reason would have thought it such a thing as God could not do, had it not seen it actu­ally done. It is (as it were) to cancel the Essential distances of things, to re­move the bounds of Nature, to bring Heaven and Earth, and (what is more) both ends of the Contradiction together.

And thereupon some, who think it an Imputation upon their Reason, to be­lieve any thing but what they can de­monstrate, (which is no thanks to them at all) have invented several strange Hypotheses, and Salvo's to clear up these things to their apprehensions. As that the Divine Nature was never per­sonally united to the humane, but only passed through it in a kind of imaginary, Phantastick way, that is, (to speak plain­ly) in some way or other, which neither Scripture, Sense nor Reason know any thing of. And others have by one bold stroke cut off all such Relation of it to the Divine Nature, and in much another sence, than that [Page 369] of the Psalmist, made Christ altogether such an one as themselves, that is, a meer Man. [...], for Socinus would needs be as good a Man as his Saviour.

But this Opinion, whatsoever ground it may have got in this latter Age of the Church, yet no sooner was it vented and defended by Photinus Bishop of Sir­mium, but it was immediately crush'd, and universally rejected by the Church. So that although several other Heresies had their course, and were but at length ex­tinguished, and not without some difficul­ty, yet this, like an indigested Meteor, appeared and disappeared almost at the same time. However Socinus beginning where Photinus had long before left off, lick'd up his deserted forlorn opinion, and lighting upon worse times has found much better success.

But is it true that Christ came into the World? Then sure, I am apt to think, that this is a solid inference, that He had an Existence, and a Being before He came hither; since every motion or passage from one place or condition to another [Page 370] supposes the thing or person so moving to have actually existed under both Terms, to wit, as well under that from which, as that to which he passes. But if Christ had nothing but an humane Na­ture, which never existed till it was in the World, how could that possibly be said to come into the World? The fruit that grows upon a tree, and so had the first moment of its existence there, can­not with any Propriety or truth of speech be said to have come to that tree, since that must suppose it to have been some­where else before. I am far from build­ing so great and so concerning a Truth meerly upon the stress of this way of Ex­pression; yet till the Reasoning ground­ed upon it be disproved, I suppose it is not therefore to be despised, though it may be seconded with much better.

But the Men, whom we contend with, seem hugely injurious to Him, Whom they call their Saviour, while they even crucify Him in His Divinity, which the Jews could never do; making His very kindness an Argument against His Pre­rogative. [Page 371] For His condescending to be a Man makes them infer that He is no more; and Faith must stop here, be­cause Sight can go no further. But if a Prince shall deign to be familiar and to converse with those upon whom he might trample, shall His condescension therefore Unking Him? And His fa­miliarity rob Him of His Royalty? The case is the same with Christ. Men cannot perswade themselves that a Deity and Infinity should lye. within so narrow a compass as the contemptible dimensi­ons of an Humane body. That Omni­potence, Omniscience and Omnipresence should be ever wrapt in swadling cloths, and abased to the homely usages of a Sta­ble and a manger. That the glorious Artificer of the whole Universe, Who spread out the Heavens like a curtain, and laid the foundations of the Earth could ever turn Carpenter, and exercise an inglori­ous trade in a little Cell. They cannot imagine, that He who commands the Cattel upon a thousand hills, and takes up the Ocean in the hollow of His hand could be subject [Page 372] to the meanesses of hunger and thirst, and be afflicted in all His appetites. That He who once created, and at present governs, and shall hereafter Iudge the World, should be abused in all His con­cerns and relations, be scourged, spit up­on, mock'd, and at last crucified. All which are passages which lie extreamly cross to the Notions and conceptions that Reason has framed to it self of that high and impassible perfection that resides in the Divine Nature. For it is natural to Men to be very hardly brought to judge things to be any more, than what they ap­pear; and it is also as natural to them to measure all appearances by sense, or at the furthest by Reason, though neither of them is a competent Judge of the Things which we are here discoursing of.

2. The second thing to be considered is the State or Condition from which Christ came; and that was from the bo­som of His Father, from the Incompre­hensible, surpassing Glories of the God­head, from an Eternal enjoyment of an absolute, uninterrupted Bliss and Plea­sure [Page 373] in the mutual, ineffable intercourses between Him and His Father. The Hea­ven of Heavens was his habitation and Legions of Cherubims and Seraphims his humble and constant attendants. Yet he was pleased to disrobe him­self of all this Magnificence, to lay aside his Scepters and his Glories, and in a Word to empty Himself as far as the Essen­tial fulness of the Deity could be capable of such a dispensation.

And now, if by the poor measures and proportions of a Man, we may take an estimate of this Great Action, we shall quickly find how irksom it is to Flesh and Bloud to have been happy, to descend some steps lower, to exchange the estate of a Prince for that of a Peasant, and to view our happiness only by the help of memory, and long reflections. For how hard a task must obedience needs be to a Spirit accustomed to Rule, and to Dominion! how uneasy must the leather and the frieze [...]it upon the shoul­der that used to shine with the purple and the Ermin! All change must be [Page 374] grievous to an estate of absolute, entire, unmingled happiness; But then to change to the lowest pitch, and that at first, with­out inuring the mind to the burden by gradual, intermediate lessenings and declensions, this is the sharpest and most afflicting calamity that humane Nature can be capable of. And yet what is all this to Christ's humiliation? He who tumbles from a Tower surely has a grea­ter blow than he who slides from a Mole-Hill. And we may as well com­pare the falling of a Crumb from the Ta­ble to the falling of a Star from the Fir­mament, as think the abasement of an Alexander from his Imperial Throne, and from the Head of all the Persian and Macedonian greatness to the condition of the meanest Scullion that followed his Camp, any ways comparable to the descen­sion of him who was the brightness of His Father's Glory, and the express Image of His Person, to the Condition of a Man, much less of a Servant, and crucifyed Malefactor. For so was Christ treated: this was the strange leap that he made [Page 375] from the greatest height to the lowest bottom: concerning which it might be well pronounced the greatest wonder in the World, that he should be able so far to humble himself, were it not yet a greater that he could be willing. And thus much for the second Circumstance.

3. The Third is, The Persons to Whom He came, expressed by that endear­ing Term His Own; and this in a more peculiar advanced sence of Propriety. For all the Nations of the World were His own by Creation, and what is conse­quent to it by the Right of Possession and absolute Dominion: but the Jews were his Own by a Fraternal Right of Consanguinity. He was pleased to de­rive his humanity from the same stock, to give them the Honour of being able to call the God of Heaven, and the Saviour of the World their Brother.

They were His Own also by the Right of Churchship, as selected and enclosed by God from amidst all other Nations, to be the Seat of his Worship, and the great Conservatory of all the Sacred Oracles [Page 376] and means of Salvation. The Gentiles might be called God's own, as a Man calls his Hall or his Parlour his own, which yet others pass through and make use of; but the Jews were so, as a Man accounts his closet, or his Cabinet his own; that is, by a peculiar, uncommunicable destina­tion of it to his own use.

Those who have that hardy curiosity, as to examine the Reason of God's Acti­ons, (which Men of Reason should still suppose,) wonder that, since the Design of Christ's coming was Universal and ex­tending to all Mankind, he should ad­dress himself to so inconsiderable a spot of the World, as that of Palestine, con­fining the scene of all his Life and Acti­ons to such a small handful of Men; whereas it would have seemed much more sutable to the purposes of his coming, to have made Rome, at that time the Me­tropolis of the Western World, and hold­ing an intercourse with all Nations, the Place of his Nativity and abode; As when a Prince would promulge a Law, because he cannot with any convenience [Page 377] do it in all places, therefore he does it in the most eminent and conspicuous. To which Argument frequently urged by the Enemies of Christianity, he who would seek for a satisfactory answer from any thing but the absoluteness of God's Soveraignty, will find himself defeated in his attempt. It was the meer result of the Divine Good Pleasure, that the Fountain of Life should derive a Blessing to all Nations, from so narrow and contemptible an Head.

And here, I cannot but think it ob­serveable, that all the passages of the whole Work of Man's Redemption carry in them the marks, not only of Mercy, but of Mercy acting by an unaccount­able Soveraignty: And that for this very Reason (as may be supposed) to convince the World that it was purely Mercy on God's part, without any thing of Merit on Man's, that did all. For when God reveals a Saviour to some few, but denies Him to more; sends Him to a People despised, but passes over Nations Victorious, Ho­nourable, and Renowned, He thereby [Page 378] gives the World to know, that his own Will is the Reason of His Proceedings. For it is worth remarking, that there is nothing that befalls Men equally and alike, but they are prone to ascribe it either to Nature or Merit. But where the Plea of the Receivers is equal, and yet the Dispensation of the Benefits vastly unequal, there Men are taught that the thing received is Grace; and that they have no claim to it, but the courtesy of the Dispenser, and the largess of Heaven; which cannot be question'd, because it Waters my Field, while it Scorches and dries up my Neighbour's. If the Sun is pleased to Shine upon a Turf, and to Gild a Dunghil, when perhaps he never looks into the Bed-Chamber of a Prince, we can­not yet accuse him for Partiality. That short, but most significant saying in the Evangelist, May I not do what I will with my own? Matt. 20.15. being a full and solid Answer to all such Objections.

4. The fourth and last Circumstance of Christ's coming related to the time of it: He came to the Jews, when they [Page 379] were in their lowest and worst Condi­tion, and that in a double respect, Na­tional, and Ecclesiastical.

1. And first upon a Civil or National account. It was not then with them as in those Triumphant days of Solomon, when for Plenty, Riches, and Grandeur, they had little cause either to make Friends, or to fear Enemies, but shone as the Envy and Terrour of all the surround­ing Neighbourhood. At the best now they were but a remnant, and a piece of an often scattered, conquered, and cap­tivated Nation: But two Tribes of twelve, and those under the Roman Yoak, tri­butary and oppress'd, and void of any other Privilege but only to obey, and to be fleeced quietly by whosoever was appointed their Governour. This was their Condition: And could there [...] any inducement upon the common prin­ciples and methods of kindness to visit them in that Estate? Which could be nothing else but only to share with them in servitude, and to bear a part in their Oppression.

[Page 380]The measure of Men's kindness and visits bestowed upon one another, is usu­ally the Prosperity, the Greatness, and the Interest of the Persons whom they visit; that is, because their favour is profitable, and their ill will formidable; in a word, Men visit others, because they are kind to themselves. But who ever saw Coaches and Liveries thronging at the Door of the Orphan, or the Widdow, (unless peradventure a Rich One) or before the House or Prison of an afflicted, decayed Friend? No, at such a time we account them not so much as our own; that unfriends and unbrothers, and dis­solves all Relations, and 'tis seldom the Dialect of My Good Friend, any longer than it is My Great Friend.

But it was another sort of Love that warmed the Breast of our Saviour, He visits his kindred, nay He makes them so in the lowest ebb of all their outward Enjoyments. When to be a Iew was a name of Disgrace, and to be circumcised a mark of Infamy. So that they might very well be a peculiar People, not only [Page 381] because God separated them from all o­ther Nations, but because all other Na­tions separated Themselves from Them.

Secondly, Consider them upon an Ec­clesiastical account, and so we shall find them as corrupted for a Church as they were despised for a Nation. Even in the days of the Prophet Isaiah, 1. c. 21. v. it was his Complaint, That the faithful City was become an Harlot; that is, nota­ble for two things, as Harlots usually are, Paint and Impurity. Which growing corruption, in all the intervening time, from thence to the Coming of Christ, re­ceived a proportionable improvement. So that their Teachers and most Seraphick, adored Doctors of the Law were still ranckt with Hypocrites. For the Text of Moses was used only to Authorize a false Comment, and to warrant the Im­piety of a perverse Interpretation. Still for all their Villanies and Hypocrisies they borrowed a Veil from Moses: and his Name was quoted and pretended as a glorious Expedient to countenance and Varnish over well contrived Corruptions. [Page 382] Nay, and they proceeded so high, that those who vouched the Authority of Moses most, denyed the being of Imma­terial Substances and the Immortality of the Soul, in which is wrapt up the very Spirit and Vital breath of all Religions: and these Men had formed themselves into a standing and considerable Sect called the Sadducees: so considerable, that one of them once step'd into the High-Priesthood. So that whether you look upon the Sadducees or the Pharisees, they had brought the Jewish Church to that pass, that they established iniquity by a Law; or which is worse, turned the Law it self into Iniquity.

Now the State of things being thus amongst the Jews at the time of Christ's coming; it eminently offers to us the consideration of these two things.

First, The invincible strength of Christ's Love, that it should come leap­ing over such mountains of opposition; that it should Triumph over so much Jewish baseness and villany, and be gra­cious even in spight of Malice it self. It [Page 383] did not knock at, but even break open their doors. Blessing and Happiness was in a manner thrust upon them. Hea­ven would have took them by force, as they should have took Heaven: So that they were fain to take pains to rid them­selves of their happiness, and it cost them Labour and Violence to become Miserable.

Secondly, It declares to us the Immove­able Veracity of God's promise. For surely, if any thing could reverse a Pro­mise, and Unty the bands of a Decree, it would have been that uncontrolled im­piety which then reigned in the Jewish Church; and that to such a Degree, that the Temple it self was prophaned into a Den of Thieves, a Rendevous of Hag­lers and Drovers; and a Place not for the Sacrificing, but for the selling of sheep and oxen. So that God might well have forgot his Promise to his Peo­ple, when they had alter'd the very sub­ject of the Promise, and as much as in them lay had ceased to be his People.

We have here finish'd the first part of [Page 384] the Text, and took an account of Christ's coming to His own; and his coming through so many obstacles: may we not therefore now expect to see him find a Magnificent Reception; and a Welcome as extraordinary as his kind­ness? For where should any one expect a Welcome if not coming to his Own? And coming also not to Charge but to Enrich them; not to share what they had but to Recover what they had Lost; and in a word, to change their Temporals into Eternals; and bring an overflowing per­formance and fruition to those who had lived hitherto only upon promise and expectation? But it fell out much other­wise, His Own received Him not.

Nor indeed if we look further in­to the World shall we find this Usage so very strange or wonderful. For Kindred is not Friendship but only an Opportunity of nearer converse; which is the true Cause of, and natu­ral inducement to it. It is not to have the same bloud in ones Veins, to have lain in the same Womb, or to bend [Page 385] the knee to the same Father, but to have the same Inclinations, the same Affecti­ons, and the same Soul, that makes the Friend. Otherwise Iacob may supplant Esau, and Esau hate and design the Death of Iacob. And we constantly see the Grand-Seignior's Coronation-Purple dipt in the Bloud of his Murthered Brethren, Sacrificed to Reason of State, or at least to his own unreasonable fears and suspici­ons. But Friends strive not, who shall kill; but who shall die first. If then the Love of kindred is so small, surely the Love of Countrey-Men and Neighbours can pro­mise but little more. A Prophet may without the help of his Prophetick Spirit foresee that he shall have but little honour in His own Country. Men naturally ma­lign the Greatness or Vertue of a Fellow-Citizen or a Domestick, they think the nearness of it upbraids and obscures them. It is a trouble to have the Sun still shining in their Faces.

And therefore the Jews in this fol­lowed but the Common practice of Men, whose emulation usually preys upon the [Page 386] next Superior in the same family, com­pany, or profession. The bitterest and the loudest scolding is for the most part amongst those of the same street. In short, there is a kind of ill disposi­tion in most Men much resembling that of Dogs; they bark at what is high and remote from them, and bite what is next.

Now in this second part of the Text, in which is represented the Entertain­ment which Christ found in the World, expressed to us by those Words, His own received Him not, we shall consider these three things.

  • 1. The Grounds upon which the Jews rejected Christ.
  • 2. The Unreasonableness of those Grounds. And
  • 3. The great Arguments that they had to the Contrary.

As to the First of these; to reckon up all the Pretences that the Jews alledge for their not acknowledging of Christ would be as endless, as the Tales and Fooleries of their Rabbies: A sort of Men noted [Page 387] for nothing more than two very ill Qua­lities, to wit, that they are still given to invent and write Lyes; and those such un­likely and incredible Lyes, that none can believe them but such as write them. But the Exceptions, which seem to carry most of Reason and Argument with them, are these Two.

  • First, That Christ came not as a Tem­poral Prince.
  • Secondly, That they look'd upon him as an Underminer and a Destroyer of the Law of Moses.

1. As for the First. It was a Perswa­sion which had sunk into their very Veins and Marrow; a Perswasion which they built upon as the Grand Fundamental Ar­ticle of all their Creed, That their Mes­siah should be a Temporal Prince; nor can any thing beat their Posterity out of it to this day. They fansied nothing but Triumphs and Trophees; and all the Nations of the Earth licking the Dust before them under the Victorious Con­duct of their Messiah; They expected such an One as should disenslave them [Page 388] from the Roman Yoke; make the Senate stoop to their Sanhedrim; and the Capi­tol do homage to their Temple. Nay and we find the Disciples themselves leaven'd with the same Conceit: their minds still ran upon the Grandeurs of an Earthly Soveraignty, upon Sitting at Christ's right and left hand in His Kingdom, banqueting and making merry at His Table, and who should have the greatest Office and Place under him. So Carnal were the Thoughts even of those who owned Christ for the Messiah; but how much more of the rest of the Jews who con­temn'd and hated him to the same de­gree? So that while they were feed­ing themselves with such fancies and ex­pectations, how can we suppose that they would receive a Person bearing himself for the Messiah, and yet in the poor habit and profession of a mean mechanick; as also preaching to them nothing but Humility, Self-denial, and a Contempt of those Glories and Tem­poral felicities, the enjoyment of which they had made the very design of their [Page 389] Religion? Surely the frustration of their hopes, and the huge contrariety of these things to their beloved, preconceived Notions, could not but enrage them to the greatest disdain and rejection of his Person and Doctrine imaginable.

And acordingly it did so. For they scorned, persecuted, and even spat upon him long before his Crucifixion: and no doubt, between Rage and Derision, a Thousand Flouts were thrown at him: As, what shall we receive a thread-bare Messiah? a fellow fitter to wield a Saw or an Hatchet than a Scepter? For is not this the Carpenter's Son? And have we not seen him in his shop, and his Cottage amongst his pittiful Kindred? And can such an One be a fit Person to step into the Throne of David? To redeem Israel, and to Cope with all the Roman Power? No, it is absurd, unreasonable, and im­possible: and to be in bondage to the Romans is nobler than to be freed by the hand of such a Deliverer.

2. Their other Grand exception a­gainst him was, that he set himself a­gainst [Page 390] the Law of Moses. Their Reve­rence to which was so Sacred, that they judged it the unchangeable Rule of all Humane Actions, and that their Messiah at his coming was to impose the observa­tion of it upon all Nations, and so to establish it for ever; Nay and they had an equal Reverence for all the parts of it, as well the Judicial and Ceremonial as the Moral; and (being naturally of a gross and a thick conception of things) perhaps a much greater. For still we shall find them more zealous in tything Mint, and Rue and Cummin, and washing pots and platters (where chiefly their mind was) than in the Prime Duties of Mer­cy and Justice. And as for their beloved Sabbath, they placed the Celebration of it more in doing nothing, than in doing Good; and rather in sitting still, than a rescuing a Life or saving a Soul. So that when Christ came to interpret and reduce the Moral Law to its inward Vigor and Spirituality, they, whose Soul was of so gross a make, that it was scarce a Spi­rit, presently defied him as a Samaritan [Page 391] and an Impostor, and would by no means hear of such strange, impracticable No­tions. But when from refining and cor­recting their Expositions, and sence of the Moral Law he proceeded also to foretel and declare the approaching de­struction of their Temple, and there­with a Period to be put to all their Rites and Ceremonies, they grew impatient and could hold no longer, but sought to Kill him, and thereby Thought that they did God good service, and Moses too. So wonderfully (it seems) were these Men concern'd for God's honour that they had no way to shew it, but by rejecting his Son out of deference to his Servant.

We have seen here the two great excep­tions which so block'd up the Minds and Hearts of the Jewish Nation against Je­sus Christ their True Messiah, that when He came to His Own, His Own rejected and threw Him off. I come now in the next place

2. To shew the weakness and un­reasonableness of these Exceptions. And

First, For Christ's being a Temporal [Page 392] Monarch, who should subdue and bring all Nations under the Jewish Scepter. I answer, That it was so far from necessa­ry, that it was absolutely impossbile, that the Messiah should be such an one; and that upon the Account of a double sup­position; neither of which I conceive will be denyed by the Jews themselves.

1. The First is the professed Design of His Coming, which was to be a Bles­ing to all Nations: for it is over and over declared in Scripture that in the seed of Abraham, that is, in the Messiah, all Nations of the Earth should be blessed. But now if they mean this of a Temporal bles­sing, as I am sure they intend no other, then I demand how this can agree with his being such a Prince, as according to their description must conquer all People and enslave them to the Jews as Hewers of Wood, and Drawers of Water, as their Vassals and Tributaries, and in a word, liable upon all occasions to be insulted over by the worst condition'd People in the World? A worthy blessing in­deed, and such an one, as I believe few [Page 393] Nations would desire to be beholden to the seed of Abraham for. For there is no Nation or People, that can need the coming of a Messiah to bless them in this manner: since they may bless themselves so whensoever they please; if they will but send Messengers to some of their Neighbours, wiser and powerfuller than themselves, and declare their Estates and Country at their service, provided they will but come and make them slaves without calling them so; by sending Armies to take Possession of their Forts and Garrisons, to seize their Lands, Moneys, and whatsoever else they have; and in a word, to oppress, beggar, and squeeze them as dry as a Pumice, and then trample upon them because they can get no more out of them; Let any peo­ple, I say, as they shall like this, ap­ply to some Potent Overgrown Prince (whom the fools, his Neighbours, shall have made so) and I dare undertake that upon a word speaking they shall find him ready to be such a Messias to them at any Time. And yet this was all that [Page 394] the Gentile World could gain by those Magnificent Promises of the Messiah (as Universal a Blessing as the Prophets had foretold he should be) if the Jews Opinion concerning the Nature of his Kingdom over the rest of the World should take place. But since they judge such a kind of Government so great a Blessing to Mankind, it is pitty but they should have a large and lasting Enjoyment of it themselves, and be made to feel what it is to be peeled and polled, fleeced and flayed, taxed and trod upon by the several Governments they should happen to fall under; and so find the same usage from other Princes which they had so liberally designed for them, under their supposed Messiah: As indeed through the just Judgment of God they have in a great measure found ever since the Cru­cifixion of Christ.

Second. The other supposition upon which I disprove the Messiah's being such a Temporal Prince, is the unquestionable Truth of all the Prophecies recorded of Him in Scripture; many of which [Page 395] declare only his Sufferings, his Humi­lity, his Low Despised Estate; and so are utterly incompatible with such a Princely Condition. Those two, the first Psal. 22. the other in Isai. 53. are sufficient proofs of this. 'Tis not to be denied indeed, that several have at­tempted to make them have no respect at all to the Messiah; but still the Truth has been superiour to all such attempts. The Jewish Rabbies for the most part understand them of the whole Body of the People of Israel: And See more of this in the follow­ing discourse on Esay 53.8. one we know amongst our Chri­stian Interpreters, (though it will be hard to Christen his Interpre­tation) who will needs have this whole 53d. Chap. of Isai. to relate only to the Prophet Ieremy, in the first and Historical Sense of it: Little certainly to the service of Christianity; unless we can think the properest way for confirm­ing our Faith (especially against its mor­tal Adversaries the Jews) be to strip it of the chief supports which the Old Testament affords it. But every little [Page 396] fetch of Wit and Criticism must not think to bear down the whole stream of Chri­stian, Catholick Interpreters; and much less the apparent force and evidence of so clear a Prophecy.

And therefore to return to the Rab­bies themselves, the most Learned of them after all such fruitless attempts un­derstand those Prophecies only of the Messiah: But then being fond of his Temporal Reign and Greatness; some of them have invented the [...] of two several Messiahs, Messiah Ben David, and Messiah Ben Ioseph. One whereof was to be Potent and Victorious, the other Low, Afflicted, and at length Kill'd. A bold unheard-of Fiction, and never known to the Ancient Jewish Church, till the Modern Rabbies began to Doat and Blaspheme at all Adventures. But there is no shift so Senceless and Groundless which an obstinate adherence to a desperate Cause, will not drive the Defenders of it to. It is clear therefore that all the Pretence which the Jews have of the Temporal Reign and Great­ness [Page 397] of their Messiah is sufficiently answer­ed, and cut off by these two Considera­tions: For to argue with them further from the Spirituality of the Messiah's Kingdom, as that the end of it was to ab­stract from all Carnal, Earthly, Sensual Enjoyments, as the certain hinderers of Piety, and underminers of the Spirit, would be but a begging of the Question, as to the Jews, who would contend as posi­tively that this was not to be the intent of it. And besides the truth is, their Princi­ples and Temper are so hugely estranged from such Considerations, that a Man might as well read a Lecture of Musick or Astronomy to an Ox, or an Ass, as go about to perswade them that their Mes­siah was only to plant his Kingdom in Men's Hearts, and by infusing into them the Graces of Humility, Temperance, and Heavenly Mindedness, to conquer their Corruptions, and reign over their Carnal Affections, which they had a great deal rather should reign over them. And thus much for answer to their first Ex­ception.

[Page 398] Secondly, I come now to shew the Un­reasonableness of the other, grounded upon a Pretence, that Christ was a Sup­planter of the Authority of Moses, and an Enemy to the Law. And here for answer to this, I grant that Christ de­signed the Abrogation of their Ceremo­nial Law, and yet for all this I affirm that Christ made good that Word of his to the utmost, That He came not to destroy the Law, but to fullfil it. For we must know, that to destroy a Constitution, and to abrogate, or meerly to put an end to it are very different. To destroy a thing, is to cause it to cease from that use to which it is designed, and to which it ought to serve: But so did not Christ to the Ceremonial Law; the design of which was to foresignify and point at the Messiah who was to come. So that the Messiah being come, and having fi­nished the Work for which he came, the use of it continued no longer; for being only to relate to a thing future, when that thing was past, and so ceased to be future, the Relation, surely, [Page 399] grounded upon that Futurity must needs cease also. In a Word, if to fullfil a Prophecy be to destroy it, then Christ by abrogating the Ceremonial Law may be said also to have destroyed it. A Prophecy fullfilled is no longer a Pro­phecy; the very Subject Matter of it being hereby took away; So a Type is no longer a Type when the Thing typified comes to be actually exhibited. But the Jews, who strip'd all these things from any Relation to a Spiritual Design, thought that their Temple was to stand for ever; their Circumcision and Sab­baths to be perpetual, their New-Moons never to Change, and the difference of Meats, and of clean and unclean Beasts to be unalterable. For alas, poor igno­rant Wretches! All their Religion (as they had made it) was only to hate Hoggs, and to Butcher Sheep and Oxen. A Reli­gion which they might very well have practised, had they Sacrificed to no other God, but their Belly. Having thus shewn the Unreasonableness of the Jews excep­tions against Christ. I come now to

[Page 400]3. The Third and Last Thing, which is to shew, that they had great Reason for the contrary, High Arguments to induce them to receive and embrace him for their Messias. It is not the business of an hour, nor of a Day to draw forth all those reasons which make for this Pur­pose, and to urge them according to their full Latitude and dignity: and therefore being to speak to those, who need not be convinc'd of that which they believe al­ready, I shall mention but Two, and those very briefly.

1. The First shall be taken from this; That all the signs and marks of the Mes­sias did most eminently appear in Christ: of all which signs I shall fix upon one as the most Notable, which is the Time of his Coming. It was exactly when the Scepter, (or Government) was de­parted from Iudah, according to that Prophecy of Iacob. And at the end of Daniel's weeks; at which time he fore­told that the Messiah should come. Up­on a Consideration of which one of their own Rabbies, but fifty years before Christ [Page 401] said that it was impossible for the coming of the Messiah to be deferred beyond fifty Years. A proportion of time vast­ly different from that of above sixteen hundred, and yet after this also, they can hear no news of such a Messiah as they expect. The same Daniel also af­firms, that after the coming and cut­ting off of the Messiah, the City and the Temple should be destroyed. As clear therefore as it is, that the City and Temple are destroyed, so clear is it, that their Messiah came before that destructi­on. From all which we may well in­sist upon that charge made against them by our Saviour, Ye Fools, ye can discern the Face of the Sky, and of the Heavens, but how is it that ye do not discern this time? A time as evident as if it were pointed out by a Sun Beam upon a Dial. And therefore the modern Jews being pinched with the force of this Argument, fly to their old stale Evasion, That the promise of the time of the Messiah's coming was not absolute but conditional; which Condition failing upon the great [Page 402] Sins of the Jews, the time of his coming has been accordingly deferr'd. But this Answer signifies nothing. For the very design of the Messiah's coming, was to take away Sins and be a Propitiation for them, even according to their own Rabbies words and confession: And therefore it is ridiculous to make the Jews Sins the hindrances of his coming, when he made the Atonement of Sins the chief Reason why he should come. In a word, if the Messiah was to come within such a cer­tain period of time, (which time is long since expired) and while the City and Temple were yet standing, which shortly after Christ's coming were demolished; then either that Iesus was the Messiah, or let them shew some other about that time, to whom that Title might better belong.

2. A second Reason shall be taken from the whole course and tenour of Christ's behaviour amongst the Jews. Every Miracle that he did was an act of Mercy and Charity, and designed to Cure as well as to Convince. He went [Page 403] about doing good, he conversed amongst them like a walking Balsom, breathing Health and Recovery wheresoever he came. Shew me so much as one Mira­cle ever wrought by him to make a Man Lame or Blind, to incommode an Enemy, or to revenge Himself; Or shew me a­ny one done by him to serve an Earthly Interest. As for Gain and Gold he re­nounced it. Poverty was His fee, and the only recompence of all His Cures: And had he not been sold till he sold him­self, the High Priests might have kept their thirty pieces of Silver for a better use. Nor was Fame and Honour the bait that allured Him: For he despised a Kingship, and regarded not their Hosan­na's. He embraced a Cross, and declined not the Shame. And as for Pleasure and Softness of Life, He was so far from the least approach to it, that He had not where to lay his Head, while the Foxes of the World had very warm places where to lay theirs. He lived as well as wrought Miracles. Miracles of Austerity, Fast­ing, and Praying, long Journies, and [Page 404] course Receptions; so that if we com­pare his Doctrine with his Example, His very Precepts were Dispensations and Indulgences, in comparison of the Rigors He imposed upon himself.

Let that Jew therefore, who shall ex­cept against Christ as an Impostor, (as they all do) declare what carnal or secu­lar Interest he drove at; and if not, what there is in the Nature of Man, that can prompt him to an endurance of all these Hardships, to serve no Temporal end or advantage whatsoever. For did ever any sober Person toil and labour, and at length expose himself to a cruel Death, only to make Men believe that, which he neither did nor could believe Himself? And so by dying in, and for a lye, must procure himself Damnation in the next World, as well as Destruction in this? But if, for all this, they will still make Christ a Deceiver, they must introduce upon Mankind new Principles of Acting, cancel, and overturn the old, acknow­ledged methods of Nature; and, in a word, either affirm that Christ was not [Page 405] a Man, or that he was influenced by Ends and Inclinations contrary to all the rest of Mankind: one of which must unavoidably follow; but neither of them ought to be admitted, where Sense or Reason is so much as pretended to.

And thus I have at length finished what I first proposed to be discoursed of from these Words, He came to His Own and His Own received Him not. In which, that Men may not run themselves into a dangerous mistake by thinking the Jews the only Persons concerned in these Words, and consequently that the Guilt here charged upon them could affect None else; we must know, that although up­on the score of the Natural Cognation between Christ and the Jews, the Text calls them by that appropriating Chara­cter His Own, and accordingly speaks of His coming to them as such, yet that all the Nations of the World, who have had the Gospel preached unto them, are as really His Own, as any of the Race of Abraham could be, (if those may be called His Own whom He had so [Page 406] dearly bought) and consequently that we are as capable of having Christ come to us, as the Jews themselves were. And accordingly he actually has, and every day does Come to us; not in the same manner, indeed, but to the same Purpose; Not in the form of a Ser­vant, but with the Majesty of a Sa­viour; that is to say, He comes to us in His Word, in His Sacraments, and in all the benefits of His Incarnation; and those exhibited to us with as much reality and effect, as if with our very Eyes we beheld the Person of our Benefactor. And then on the other hand, as we are altogether as capable of His Coming to us, as his Kindred and Contemporaries the Jews themselves were; so are we likewise as Capable of not Receiving Him, as those Wretches were or could be. And there­fore let no Man flatter Himself with re­ference to Christ, as the Jews, in much the like case, did with reference to the old Prophets; boasting (forsooth) that had they lived in the days of their Fathers they would have had no hand in the bloud of [Page 407] those Holy Messengers of God. Matth. 23.30. Let no vitious Person, I say, though never so noted, and profest a Christian, conclude from hence, that had he lived when and where our Saviour did, nothing could have induced him to use Him as those Miscreants had done. For though I know that such Men, (as bad as they are) do with great confidence averr all this, and think themselves in very good earnest, while they do so; yet as, in general, he who thinks he cannot de­ceive himself, does not sufficiently know himself; So, in this particular case, eve­ry Hypocrite or wicked Liver professing Christianity, while he thinks and speaks in this manner, is really imposing upon himself by a false perswasion; and would (though he may not know so much) have born the very same Malignity to­wards our Saviour, which those Jews are recorded to have done; and under the same Circumstances would have infallibly treated Him with the same Barbarity. For why did the Jews themselves use Him so? Why? because the Doctrines He [Page 408] preached to them were directly contrary to their Lusts and corrupt Affections, and defeated their expectations of a Wordly Messias, Who should have answered their sensual desires with the Plenties and Glo­ries of such an Earthly Kingdom, as they had wholly set their gross Hearts and Souls upon. Accordingly, Let us now but shift the Scene, and suppose Christ in Person preaching the same Doctrines a­mongst us, and withall as much hated and runn'd down for an Impostor by the whole National power, Civil, and Ec­clesiastical, as it then fared with him amongst the Jews; and then no doubt we should see all such Vitious Persons, finding themselves prick'd and galled with his severe precepts, quickly fall in with the stream of publick Vogue and Authority, and as eagerly set for the taking away His life, as against Reforming their own. To which we may further Add this, That our Saviour himself passes the ve­ry same Estimate upon every such wick­ed Professor of His Gospel, which he then did upon the Jews themselves, in [Page 409] that his irrefragable Expostulation with them Why call you Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I command you? Luke 6.46. implying thereby, That this was the greatest Hostility and Affront, that Men could possibly pass upon him. And no doubt, but the Jews themselves, who avowedly rejected Christ, and his Doctrine, out of an allmost invincible prejudice in­fused into them by their Teachers and Rulers, concerning the utter inconsist­ency of both with the Mosaick Con­stitution, were much more excusable be­fore God, than any Christians can be, who acknowledging the Divine Autho­rity both of his Person, and his Gospel, do yet reverse and contradict that in their Lives and Actions, which they a­vow in their Creeds, and solemn Decla­rations. For he, who prefers a base plea­sure or profit before Christ, spits in his Face, as much as the Jews did: And he who debauches his immortal Soul and prostitutes it to the vile and low services of Lust and Sensuality, Crucifies His Savi­our afresh, and puts him to as open a shame [Page 410] as ever Pontius Pilate, the High Priest, or those mercenary Tools, the very Soul­diers themselves did. They do not indeed pierce His Side, but (what is worse) they strike a Dagger into his Heart.

And now, if the passing of all these Indignities upon One, who came into the World, only to save it (and to Re­deem those very Persons who used him so) is not able to work upon our Inge­nuity, should not the consequences of it at least work upon our Fears, and make us consider, whether, as we affect to Sin like the Iews, it may not be our Doom to suffer like the Iews too? To which purpose, let us but represent to our selves the woful estate of Ierusalem bleeding under the Rage and Rapine of the Roman Armies; together with that Face of Hor­rour and Confusion, which then sat upon that wretched People, when the casting off their Messias had turned their Advocate into their Iudge, their Saviour into their Enemy; and by a long refusal of his mercy, made them ripe for the utmost Executions of his Iustice. After which [Page 411] proceeding of the Divine Vengeance a­gainst such Sinners, should it not (one would think) be both the Interest and Wisdom of the stoutest and most daring Sinners in the World, forthwith to make Peace with their Redeemer upon his own terms? And, (as hard a lesson as it seems) to take his Yoak upon their Necks, rather than with the Jews to draw His Bloud upon their Heads; especially since one of the two must and will assuredly be their Case: For the methods of Grace are fixed, and the measures stated: And as little allowance of Mercy will be made to such Christians, as reject Christ in his Laws, as to those very Iews who nailed him to his Cross.

In fine, Christ comes to us in his Or­dinances, with Life in one Hand, and Death in the other. To such, as receive him not, he brings the Abiding Wrath of God, a present Curse, and a future Dam­nation. But to as many as shall receive Him (according to the expression imme­diately after the Text) He gives Power to become the Sons of God. That [Page 412] is, in other words, to be as Happy, both in this World, and the next, as Infinite Goodness acting by Infinite Wisdom can make them.

To Him therefore, who alone can doe such great Things for those who serve Him, be rendred and ascribed, as is most due, all Praise, Might, Majesty, and Dominion, both now and for ever­more. Amen.

A SERMON Preached On Good-Friday, At Christ-Church, Oxon.

Before the University, ON March the 20th 1667/8.

Isaiah liii.8. latter part.

—For the Transgression of my People was He stricken.

THIS great and Eloquent Pro­phet, the Evangelist of the Jewish Church (as without any impropriety he may be called) from the 13. v. of the foregoing Chapter to the end of this, seems rapt up with the contemplation of a Great Person under strange and unusual afflictions. Whose Character, with all the heights of Rhetorick, which the Geni­us of Grief and Prophecy together could raise him to, he here sets himself with full purpose to describe. In all which description there is no one passage, which does not speak something extraordinary and supernatural of the Person described, and withall represent the Describer of it in the highest Degree of Ecstacy and Rapture; so that nothing could tran­scend [Page 416] the height of the expression, but the sublimity of its Subject. For still it fastens upon him the Marks and Tokens of something more than a Man, indeed more than a Creature. Ascribing Actions to him, which surmount any created Power; and so visibly, upon all Principles of Reason, above the strength and reach of the strongest Arm of Flesh, that if the Person here spoken of be but a Man, I am sure it requires the Wit of more than a Man to make sence of the Prophecy. Who that Great Person therefore was, here so magnifi­cently set forth by the Prophet, is the thing now to be enquired into. In which enquiry we shall find several Opini­ons, and every one of them pretending to give the right Interpretation of the Place. I shall reduce them all to these two.

  • First, The Opinion of the Ancient.
  • Secondly, The Opinion of some Later Interpreters.

First, As for the Ancient Interpreters I may boldly, and truly say, that it [Page 417] was the general sence of all the old Jewish Rabbies, that the Person in­tended in this Prophecy, was the Messias. Take the affirmation of Rabbi Alschech in his Comment upon this Prophecy, Rabbini nostri beatae memoriae uno ore sta­tuunt juxta receptam traditionem hìc de Rege Messiâ sermonem esse. And though their Opinion of the Temporal Great­ness of their Messias might (if any thing) tempt them to draw this Pro­phecy another way, (since it declares the low, abject, and oppressed Condi­tion of the Person here treated of) yet to shew that a suffering Messias was no such Paradox in the Divinity of the An­cient Iewish Rabbies, it was a constant received speech among them, that divi­ding all the Afflictions of the People of God into three parts, one third was to fall upon the Messias.

And as for the Doctors and Fathers of the Christian Church, they do all with one Unanimous Breath declare this to be a Prophecy of the Messias, and this Messias to be Iesus Christ. And so [Page 418] full are they to this purpose, that Esaias upon the account of this Prophecy is Styled by some of them Evangelista, and Paulus Propheticus. Nor was ever the least intimation given of any other sence of it, till, a little before this last Century, a new Christianity has endeavour'd to get footing in the Christian World.

Second, The other Opinion is of the Later Interpreters; amongst which I account the Jewish, that is, such as have wrote after a Thousand Years since Christ's time. Whose Opinion in this matter will be found to have this Eminent property of Falsity, that it is very Various. For having departed from the old received Interpretation they are no ways agreed what they shall sub­stitute in the room of it. Some will have the Subject of this Prophecy to have been the People of Israel. Some inde­finitely any Just or Righteous Person. Some affirm it to have been Iosiah; and one among the rest will needs have the Person here spoken of to have been the Prophet Ieremy. The Authors of each [Page 419] of which Opinions give us such insipid Stories upon this Chapter, as are fitter to be ushered in with the grave and solemn Preface of [once upon a time] than to be accounted Interpretations of the Word of God.

He who contends for the Prophet Ie­remy, is one Rabbi Saadias Haggaon; and he stands alone, not being countenanced by any of his Jewish Brethren, till one in the Christian Church thought fit to be his second; and out of his Zeal (for­sooth) to the Christian Faith, to wrest one of the strongest Arguments out of the Hands of the Christian Church, which it has fought with against Judaism, ever since it was a Church. And thus much I shall with confidence, (because with evidence) affirm, that if such Pro­phecies may be proved to have had their first and literal Completion in the Person of any besides Iesus of Nazareth, all Argu­ments proving them to belong to Him at a second hand, and by accommodation (as the word is) are but vain and precarious to the Jew; who will, and indeed upon his [Page 420] Hypothesis, may reject them as easily, as we can alledge them, and then con­vince him, who can.

But how can this Prophecy be made to agree to Ieremy? With what Truth or Propriety could he be said to have been Exalted and Extolled, and to have been very High? To have been Stricken for our Transgressions; and to have had the Ini­quity of us all laid upon Him? How could it be said of him, who shall declare his Generation? And that he should see his Seed, and prolong his Days; and also that he should divide the Spoil with the Mighty? With the like Expressions?

Why, yes says our Expositor, He was Exalted, and very High; because the Cal­deans had him in admiration, which yet is more than we read of; and thanks to a good Invention for it: Though it must be confessed, that upon his being drawn out of the Dungeon, he was something Higher and more Exalted than he was before. In the next place he was Stricken for Transgression, and had our Iniquities laid upon him; because by the Sin and Inju­rious [Page 421] dealing of the Jews He was cruelly and unworthily used; as, indeed, all, or most, of the Prophets were both before, and after him. And then for that saying, Who shall declare his Generation? The mean­ing of that, we are told, is, who shall reckon his Years? For he shall live to be very Aged: Though yet we know no more of his Age, but that he Prophesied about forty Years; whereas some others have Pro­phesied much longer; and particularly Hosea who Prophesied about fourscore. As for the other Expression of his seeing his Seed, and prolonging his Days, that we are taught must signify, that he should see many of his Converts in Egypt, where he should live for a long time. Though yet, we read not of any one of those Con­verts; nor of any such prolonging his Days there; but that it is a constant Tra­dition of Antiquity, that he died an un­timely, disastrous Death, being knock'd on the Head in Egypt, by his wicked Country-men, with a Fuller's Club. And in the last place, for his dividing the Spoil with the Mighty; that we are [Page 422] informed, was fullfilled in this, That Nebu­zaradan, Captain of the Chaldean Host (as we find it in Ieremy 40.5.) gave him a Reward and some Victuals (that is to say, a small supply, or modicum of Meat and Money, for his present support) and so sent him away. A worthy glorious di­viding of the Spoil indeed; and much after the same rate that the Poor may be said to divide the Spoil, when they take their shares of what is given them at Rich­men's Doors.

So then we have here an Interpreta­tion, but as for the sense of it, that, for ought I see, must shift for it self. But whether thus to drag and hale words both from Sence and Context, and then to squeeze whatsoever meaning we please out of them, be not (as I may speak with some change of the Prophet's Phrase) to draw lyes with cords of Blasphemy, and Nonsence, as it were, with a Cart-rope, let any sober and impartial Hearer or Reader be Judge. For whatsoever titles the itch of Novelty and Socinianism has thought fit to Dignify such Immortal, Incom­parable, [Page 423] Incomprehensible Interpreters with; yet if these Interpretations ought to take place, the said Prophecies (which all, before Grotius, Having had the opportu­nity and happiness of a fre­quent Converse with Dr. Pocock (the late Hebrew, and Arabick Professor to the U­niversity of Oxon, and the greatest Master certainly of the Eastern Languages, and Learning, which this or any other Age or Nation has Bred) I asked him (more than once, as I had occasion) what he thought of Grotius's Exposition of Isaiah 53. and his Application of that Pro­phecy, in the first sence and design of it to the Person of the Prophet Ieremy? To which, smiling and shaking his Head, he answered. Why, what else can be thought or said of it but that in this the Opiniator, over-ruled the Annotator, and the Man had a mind to indulge his Fancy? This account gave that great Man of it; though he was as great in Modesty, as he was in Learning (greater than which none could be) & with­al had a particular respect for Grotius, as having been personally acquainted with him. But the truth is, the matter lay deeper than so; for there was a certain party of Men, whom Grotius had unhappily engaged himself with, who were extremely disgusted at the Book de Satisfactione Christi, written by him against Socinus; and therefore he was to pacify (or rather satisfy) these Men by turning his Pen another way in his Annotations; which also was the true reason, that he never answered Cr [...]llius. A shrewd Argu­ment, no doubt, to such as shall well consider these mat­ters, that those in the Low-Countries, who at that time went by the name of Remon­strants and Arminians, were indeed a great deal more. and the afore­said Rabby Saadias, U­nanimously fixed (in the first sense of them) upon the sole Person of the Messiah) might have been actually full­filled; and consequent­ly the Veracity of God in the said Prophecies strictly accounted for; though Iesus of Naza­reth had never been Born. Which being so, would any one have thought that the Au­thor of the Book, de Veritate Religionis Chri­stianae, & de satisfa­ctione Christi could be also the Author of such Interpretations as these? No Age cer­tainly [Page 424] ever produced a mightier Man in all sorts of Learning than Grotius, nor more hap­pily furnished with all sorts of Arms, both Offensive and Defen­sive for the Vindi­cation of the Christian Faith; had he not in his Annotations too frequently turned the Edge of them the wrong way.

Well therefore, taking it for manifest, and that upon all the grounds of Ra­tional and unforced Interpretation, that the Person here spoken of was the Mes­sias, and that this Messias could be no other than Iesus of Nazareth, the Great Mediator of the second Covenant, very God, and very Man, in whom every tittle of this Prophecy is most exactly verifyed, and to whom it does most peculiarly and incommunicably agree: We shall proceed now to take an account of the several parts of the Text, in which we have these three things considerable.

  • [Page 425]First, The suffering it self, He was stricken.
  • Secondly, The Nature of the suffering, which was Penal, and Expiatory, He was stricken for Transgression: And
  • Thirdly, The Ground and Cause of this suffering, which was God's propriety in, and relation to the Persons for whom Christ was stricken, implyed in this word, My People. For the Transgression of My People was he stricken.

Of each of which in their order: And

First, For the suffering it self. He was stricken. The very word imports violence and invasion from without. It was not a suffering upon the stock of the meer internal weaknesses of Nature, which carries the seeds and causes of its disso­lution in its own bowels, and so by de­grees withers and decays, and at length dies, like a Lamp that for want of Oyl can burn no longer; but like a Torch in its full flame beat and ruffled, and at length blown out by the breath of a North-Wind; So was Christ dealt with in the very prime and vigor of his Years, being by main [Page 426] force torn and stricken out of the World. Blows did the work of time, and Stripes and Spears were instead of Age to put a period to his afflicted Life. Now the Greatness of this Suffering will be made out to us upon these three accounts.

  • First, Upon the Account of the Lati­tude and Extent of it.
  • Secondly, Of the Intenseness and Sharp­ness of it: And
  • Thirdly, Of the Person inflicting it.

First, As for the Latitude or Extent of it. The Blow reach'd every part of His humanity, carrying the grief all o­ver, till by an Universal diffusion of it self, it entred according to the Psalmists expression, like water into His bowels, or like Oyl into His bones. It spread it self into every part of his Body, as if it had been another Soul. Nothing was free from suffering that could suffer. Suffering seem'd to be his Portion, his Inheritance, nay his very Property. Even the Reli­gion, that he came to propagate and esta­blish was a suffering Religion, and, by the [Page 427] severest method of establishment, he gave the First and the Greatest Instance of it in himself. He, who would recount e­very part of Christ that suffered, must read a Lecture of Anatomy. From the Crown of the Head to the Sole of the Foot there was no­thing but the traces of pain and suffering: they made long furrows upon His back (says the Psalmist) they did (as it were) tear and plow up his innocent Body. In his Person we might have seen Grief in its height and supremacy; Grief Trium­phant, Crown'd and arrayed in Purple; Grief reigning and doing the utmost that it was able. It is a Subject too well known, and too frequently discoursed of, to make descriptions of the Thorns, the Spears, and the Nails that acted their several parts in this Tragedy; and that so, that the very Narrative of our Savi­our's Passion cannot but beget another in every pious hearer of it. But when we have said the utmost of his Bodily suf­ferings, we still know that Nature has provided a support able to mate and stand up against all these: for the [Page 428] strength and firmness of a Resolved Mind will bear a Man above his Infir­mity; as the Breath bears up the Body from sinking: But when the supporter it self fails, when the Primum vivens and the Vltimum moriens has had a mortal blow, and the Iron enters into the very Soul, then baffled Nature must surrender and quit the Combat, unless seconded and held up by something greater and mightier than it self. And this was our Saviour's Condition. There was a Sword which reach'd his very Spirit, and pierced his Soul, till it Bled through his Body; for they were the Struggles and Agonies of the inward Man, the Labours and Strivings of his restless Thoughts, which cast his Body into that Prodigious Sweat. For though it was the Flesh that Sweated, it was the Spirit that took the Pains. It was that, which was then treading the Wine-Press of God's Wrath alone, till it made him Red in his Apparel, and dyed all his Gar­ments with Blood. What thought can reach, or Tongue express, what our Sa­viour then felt within his own Breast! [Page 429] The Image of all the Sins of the World for which he was to suffer, then appear­ed clear and lively, and express to his Mind. All the vile and horrid circum­stances of them stood (as it were) parti­cularly ranged before his Eyes in all their dismal Colours. He saw how much the Honour of the Great God was abused by them, and how many millions of Poor Souls they must inevitably have cast un­der the Pressures of a Wrath Infinite and Intolerable, should he not have turn'd the Blow upon himself. The horrour of which then fill'd and amazed his vast Ap­prehensive Soul; and those Apprehen­sions could not but affect his tender Heart then brimful of the highest Zeal for God's Glory, and the most relenting Compassion for the Souls of Men; till it fermented and boyled over with Tran­sport and Agony, and even forced its way through all his Body in those strange Ebullitions of Blood, not to be paral­lel'd by the sufferings of any Person re­corded in any History whatsoever. It was this, which drew those doleful words [Page 430] from him, My Soul is exceeding sorrow­ful, &c. [...]. It was surrounded and (as it were) besieged with an Army of Sorrows. And believe it, his Soul was too big, and of too strong a make to bend under an ordinary Sor­row. It was not any of those little things, which make us put the Finger in the Eye, as loss of Estate, Friends, Prefer­ment, Interest, and the like; things too mean to raise a tumult in the Breast of a resolved Stoick, and much less in His, who both placed and preached Happi­ness, not only in the want, but in the very defyance of them.

And now after this his Agony in the Garden, I need not much insist upon the Wounds given his Reputation by the Sword of a Blaspheming Tongue, the sharpest of all others, and which like a Poysoned Dagger, hurting both with Edge and Venom too, at the same time both makes a Wound and prevents its Cure. Even a guilty Person feels the sting of a malicious Report; and if so, much more must one, who is innocent; and yet in­finitely [Page 431] more must He, who was not only Innocent, but Innocence it self. Reputation is tender, and for it to be blown upon is to be tainted; like a Glass, the clearer and finer it is, the more it suffers by the least Breath. And therefore for him, who came to destroy the Kingdom of Satan, to be traduced as a Partner with, and an Agent for Beelzebub: For Him, whose greatest Repasts were Prayer and abstinence, and the most rigid severities up­on Himself, to be taxed as a Wine-bibber and a Good-fellow: For Him who came into the World, both in Life and Death to bear Witness to the Truth, to suffer as an Impostor and a Deceiver; what could be more grievous and afflicting to a great Innocence, joyned with as great an Ap­prehension!

However, his Church gains this great Advantage of Comfort by it, that the worst of sufferings comes sanctified to our Hands by the Person of our grand Example. Who was reviled and slander­ed, and tossed upon the Tongues of Men before us. A greater Martyrdom que­stionless [Page 432] than to be cast, as the Primitive Christians were, to the Mouths of Lyons, which are tender and merciful compared to the Mouths of Men; whether we look upon that bitter Spirit which acted in those Jews, or in some Christians now adays worse than Jews: Men, who seem to have out-done all before them in the Arts of a more refined Malice, and improved Calumny. Qualities lately sprung up out of the stock of a spreading Atheism, and a domineering, reign­ing Sensuality; Sins now made National and Authentick, and so much both Iudg­ment and Mercy-proof, that it is well if we can be cured without being cut off. But to return to the business before us. We have now seen the first thing setting forth the greatness of this suffering; to wit the Latitude and Extent of it; as that it seized both Body and Soul, and every Part and Faculty of both.

Second. The next thing declaring its greatness was the intenseness and sharpness of it. We have seen already how far it went, we are now to consider how deep. [Page 433] It fell not on him like a dew or mist, which only wets the surface of the Ground, but like a pouring soaking Rain which descends into the very Bowels of it. There was pain enough in every single part to have been spread in lesser Proportions over the whole Man. Christ suffered only the exquisiteness and heights of pain, without any of those mitigations which God is pleased to temper and allay it with as it befalls other Men; like a Man who drinks only the Spirits of a Liquor separated and extracted from the dull, unactive Body of the Liquor it self. All the force and activity, the stings and fierceness of that troublesome thing were (as it were) drain'd and distill'd, and a­bridged into that Cup which Christ drank off. There was something sharper than Vinegar, and bitterer than Gall, which that draught was prepared and made up with. We cannot indeed say, that the sufferings of Christ were long in duration, for to be violent and lasting too, is above the methods or measures of Nature. But he who lived at that rate, [Page 434] that he might be said to live an Age every hour, was able to suffer so too: and to com­prize the greatest torments in the shortest space; which yet by their shortness lost nothing of their Force and Keenness; as a Pen-Knife is as sharp as a Spear, though not so long. That which promotes and adds to the Impressions of pain, is the delicate and exact Crasis and Constitution of the Part, or Faculty aggrieved. And there is no doubt but the very Fabrick and Complexion of our Saviour's Body was a Master-piece of Nature, a thing abso­lutely and exactly framed, and of that fineness as to have the quickest and most sensible touches of every Object; and withal to have these advanced by the communion of his admirably made Body, with his high and vigorous Intellectuals. All which made him drink in Pain more deeply, feel every lash, every wound with so much a closer, and a more af­fecting sense. For it is not to be doubted but a dull Fellow can endure the Pa­roxysms of a Fever, or the Torments of the Gout or Stone, much better than a Man [Page 435] of a quick mind and an exalted Fancy; because in one, Pain beats upon a Rock or an Anvil, in the other it prints it self upon wax. One is even born with a kind of Lethargy and stupefaction into the World, armed with an Iron body and a leaden Soul against all the appren­sions of ordinary sorrow; so that there is need of some pain to awaken such an one, and to convince him that he is alive; but our Saviour, who had an Under­standing too quick to let any Thing that was Intelligible escape it, took in the dolorous afflicting object in its full di­mensions. He saw the utmost Evil of e­very one of those strokes, which the guilt of our Sins inflicted on Him. And what His Eye saw, His heart proportionably felt: For surely they must needs have been inconceiveably afflicting, in the Actual Endurance, which were so dread­ful in their very approach, that the hor­ror of them put the Man of God's right hand, the Man made strong for that very purpose, to start back, and decline the Blow, could the avoidance of it have [Page 436] stood with the Decrees of Heaven. Fa­ther if it be possible, let this Cup pass from Me. Which yet was not the Voice of cowardize, but of humane Nature; Na­ture, which by its first and most Essential Principle would have saved it self, might it have consisted with the Saving of the World.

Thirdly, The third thing setting forth the greatness of this suffering, is the Cause and Author of it, which was God Himself. The measure of every passion is the Operation of the Agent. And then, we know what Omnipotence can do; Omnipotence imployed or rather in­flamed by Iustice; in whose Quarrel it was then Engaged. We must not mea­sure the Divine strokes by the proportion of those blows, which are inflicted by the greatest and most exasperated mor­tal; The Condition of whose Nature sets bounds to his Power, when it can­not to his Rage. So that, in the utmost executions of it he acts but like a Wasp; very angrily indeed; but very weakly. Every blow inflicted by the fiercest Ty­rant [Page 437] can reach no further than the Body; and the Body is but the dwelling place, not any part of the Soul; and conse­quently can no more communicate its Ruins to that, than a Man can be said to be wounded in his Person, because a wall of his House was broken down. Up­on which account there have been some, whose Souls have been so fortifyed with Philosophy, and great principles as to enable them to laugh in Phalaris's Bull; to sing upon the Rack; and to despise the flames. For still, when God Torments us by the Instrumental mediation of the Creature, his Anger can fall upon us in no greater proportions than what can pass through the narrow capacities of a created Being. For be the Fountain ne­ver so full, yet if it communicates it self by a little pipe the stream can be but small and inconsiderable, and equal to the measures of the Conveyance. God can no more give His Power, than His Glory to another; there is no mortal arm can draw His bow. God cannot Thun­der or Lighten by Proxy. He alone is [Page 438] the Father of Spirits, and none can reach the Conscience, but He who made it. And therefore being to discharge the ut­most of His Vindictive Justice upon the Sins of Mankind then charged upon our Saviour, He took the Sword into His Own Hand, entred the lists, and dealt with Him immediately by Himself. And then we find the Difference of our Savi­our's suffering by the difference of His behaviour. While He was Buffetted, Scourged, and Nailed to the Cross, we hear nothing from Him, but like a Lamb before the shearers He was dumb: not be­cause He could not, but because He scorned to roar under the Impressions of a Finite anger. But when God reached forth His Hand, and darted His immedi­ate Rebukes into His very Soul and Spi­rit, (as He did while He was hanging upon the Cross) then He cries out, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me! Silence upon such a loss would have been but stupidity, and patience an absurdity; for when God withdrew his Presence from him, that Darkness which then covered [Page 439] the face of the whole Earth, was but a faint Embleme of that Blacker Cloud of despair which had overcast His Soul. It is not possible for us to conceive the ut­most weight of those heavy strokes in­flicted by the Almighty Himself upon our Saviour. All the Representations and little draughts of them made by Words and Fancy are vastly short of the keen impressions of Sense. But yet that which gives us the nearest resemblance of them, surely, is the Torment of a guilty mind under a State of Desertion; when God shall turn the worm of Conscience in­to a Scorpion and smite it with the secret invisible stings of his Wrath, such as shall fester and rage inwardly, gnaw and rake the very entrails of the Soul. The Bur­den and anguish of this has been some­times so insupportable; that some have professed themselves to envy the conditi­on of Iudas and the Damned Spirits, as thinking the Endurance of those flames more tolerable than the expectation, and accordingly have done violence to their own lives, and so fled to Hell as to a [Page 440] Sanctuary, and chose Damnation as a Release. Far were such persons (God knows) from bettering their Condition by completing that which they could not bear in the very beginnings and fore­tasts of it: yet however it demonstrates to us the unspeakable wretchedness of a guilty Soul, Labouring under the Hand of God. And by the way, let the bold­est, the hardiest, and the securest Sinner know that God is able, without ever touching him either in his Estate, his Health, his Reputation, or any other outward enjoyment dear to him, but meerly by letting a few drops of his Wrath fall upon his guilty Conscience, so to scald and gall him with the lively Sense of Sin, that he shall live a conti­nual Terror to himself, carry about him an Hell in his own Breast; which shall E­cho to him such Peals of Vengeance e­very Hour, that all the Wine and Mu­sick, all the Honours and Greatness of the World shall not be able to minister the least ease to his heart-sick and de­sponding Soul. Now in these Tor­ments [Page 441] of a guilty Conscience we have some little Image of the pains then suf­fered by our Saviour, the greatness of both being founded upon the same Rea­son; Namely, That God is the sole and immediate Inflicter of such strokes: And then surely the suffering must needs be grievous, when Infinite Justice passes Sentence, and Infinite Power does Exe­cution.

And thus I have finished the first gene­ral thing proposed from the Text, which was the Suffering it self, expressed in these words, He was stricken, and that, by considering the Latitude, the Intense­ness, and also the Cause of it. All of them so many Arguments to demonstrate to us its unparallel'd Greatness.

2. The Second general thing proposed was the Nature and quality of this suf­fering; Namely, That it was Penal and Expiatory, He was stricken for Transgres­sion. And to prove that it was Penal, there needs no other Argument to any clear, unbiassed Understanding than the natural, genuine and unconstrained use [Page 442] of the Word. For what other sence can there be of a Man's being stricken or suf­fering for Sin, but his being punished for Sin? And that I am sure is spoke so plain and loud by the Universal Voice of the whole Book of God, that Scripture must be Crucified as well as Christ, to give any other tolerable sence of it. But since Heresy has made such bold invasions up­on those Sacred Writings, we will con­sider both those sences which these words are asserted to be capable of.

1. First of all then, some assert, That to be stricken for Transgression imports not here a Punishment for Sins past, but a Prevention or taking away of Sin for the future. So that Christ is said to be stricken, to suffer, and to die for Sin, because by all this He confirmed to us an Excellent and Holy Doctrine, the belief of which has in it a natural Aptness to draw Men off from their Sins. In a word, because Christianity tends to make Men holy, and cease from Sin, and because Christ by His bloud sealed the Truth of Christianity, therefore is He said to die for [Page 443] Sin; A strange and remote deduction, and such an one as the Common rules and use of speaking would never have sug­gested. But then besides, because it is easy to come upon the Authors of this perverse Interpretation by demanding of them what fitness there could be in Christ's death to confirm His Doctrine? And what Reason the World could have to believe Christianity True, because the Author of it, a Pious, Innocent, Excel­lent Person was basely and cruelly put to Death? Therefore they further say that this Effect of its confirmation is really and indeed to be ascribed to His subse­quent Resurrection, though only his Death be still mentioned; that being the most difficult and Heroick passage of all, that he either did or suffered for our sakes, and consequently the greatest In­stance of his Patience, and perswasion of the Truth of that Doctrine for which he suffered. But by their favour, if Christ is said no otherwise to die for Sin, than because he delivered a Doctrine, the design of which was to draw Men off [Page 444] from Sin, and which was confirm'd to be true only by his Resurrection; How comes it to pass that this effect is still joy­ned with his Death, but never with his Resurrection? It being said over and over, that He dyed for Sin, suffered and bled for Sin, but never that He rose again for Sin. It is, indeed, said once that he rose again for our justification; but in the very fore­going words it is said, that he was de­livered to death for our Offences: Which shews that those words for our Offences, and for our justification, have there a very different sence, and bear a different relati­on to the words with which they are joined in that, as well as in the other Scriptures. But this whole Invention is so forced and far fetched, and so much out of the Road of Common reason, that it is impossible it should gain, but by the strengths and prepossessions of Prejudice; and where prejudice stands for judgment, for ought I see, it is as vain to urge Ar­guments as to quote Scriptures.

2. The other sence of these words, and which alone the Catholick Church re­ceives [Page 445] for true, is, That Christ's being stricken for Sin, signifies his being punished for Sin. The word [For] in this case denoting the Antecedent Meritorious cause of his suffering, and not the Final, as the School of Socinus does assert; and, consequently, must directly relate to the removal of the guilt of Sin, and not the Power, as is also affirmed by the same Per­sons. Now that Christ's suffering and being stricken for Transgression imports that suffering to have been Penal and Expiatory, as it might with the highest Evidence be demonstrated from several Scriptures: so at this time I shall confine my self within the limits of the Chapter, from whence I took my Text: and here I shall found the proof of it upon these two expressions.

First, That Christ is said to have born our Sins, in the 12. v. Now to bear Sin is an Hebrew Phrase for that, which in Latin is Luere peccatum, and in English to be punished for Sin. And if to bear a­nother Man's Sin or iniquity by suffer­ing, does not imply the undergoing of [Page 446] the punishment due to that Man's Sin; We must invent a new way of expound­ing Profane Writers as well as Sacred, and of interpreting the common speeches of Men, as well as the word of God.

Secondly, The other Argument shall be taken from that Expression which de­clares Christ to have been made a Sacrifice, or an Offering for Sin, in the 10. v. When Thou shalt make His Soul an Offering for Sin. The proof of what I here affirm, is ground­ed upon the use and design of a Sacrifice, as it has been used by all Nations in the World; which was to appease the Dei­ty by paying down a Life for Sin, and that by the substitution of a Sacrifice, whether of Man or Beast, to die and pay down his Life instead of the Sinner. For there was a tacit acknowledgment univer­sally fixt in the Hearts of all Mankind, that the Wages of Sin was Death, and that without shedding of bloud there could be no Remission: upon which was built the rea­son of all their Sacrifices and Victims. So surely therefore as Christ was a Sa­crifice, and as the design of a Sacrifice is [Page 447] to pay down a Life for Sin, and as to pay down a Life for Sin is to be Punished for Sin: so sure it is, that Christ's Death and Sufferings were Penal. Now it being clear that the foundation of all Punish­ment is compensation or exchange; that is to say, something paid down to divine Justice for something done against it; and since all compensation implies a Retribu­tion equivalent to the Injury done, there­fore, that Christ might be qualified to be a Sacrifice fit to undergo the full Punish­ment due for the Sins of Mankind, two things were required.

  • 1. An infinite dignity in his Person; for since the Evil and Demerit of Sin was Infinite; and since Christ was so to suf­fer for it, as not to remain under those suf­ferings for an Infinite duration; that In­finity therefore was to be made up some other way; which could not be, but by the Infinite worth and Dignity of his Per­son, grasping in all the Perfections and Glories of the Deity, and by conse­quence deriving an Infinite Value to his Sufferings.
  • [Page 448]2. The other Qualification required was a perfect Innocence in the Person to suffer: for so much was specified by the Paschal Lamb, of which we still read in Scripture, That it was to be a Lamb without blemish. And there is no doubt, but had Christ had any Sin of his own to have sa­tisfied for, he had been very unable to sa­tisfy for other Men's. He who is going to Gaol for his own debts, is very unfit to be a Security for anothers.

But now this perfect Innocence, which I affirm necessary to render Christ a fit and proper Sacrifice, is urged by our Ad­versaries to be the very Reason why Christ's sufferings could not be Penal; since Punishment in the very Nature and Essence of it imports a Relation to Sin. To this I answer, That Punishment does indeed import an Essential Relation to Sin; but not of Necessity to the Sin of the Person upon whom it is inflicted: as might be evinced by innumerable In­stances, as well as undeniable reasons.

If it be replyed, that God has declared that the Soul that Sins shall die.

[Page 449]I answer; That this is only a Positive Law, according to which God declares he will proceed in the ordinary course of his Providence; but it is not of Natural and Eternal Obligation, so as Univer­sally to bind God in all cases; but that he may when he Pleases deal otherwise with his Creature. But this will receive further light from the Discussion of the third and last General head, to which we now proceed. Namely,

3. The ground and Cause of this suffer­ing, which was God's Propriety in, and relation to the Persons for whom Christ suffered, specified in these words My People, For the Transgression of my People was He stricken.

If it be here asked, upon what ac­count the Persons here spoken of were denominated and made God's People? I answer, that they were so by an Eter­nal Covenant and Transaction between the Father and the Son; by which the Father, upon certain Conditions to be performed by the Son, consigned over some Persons to him to be His People. [Page 450] For our better understanding of which we are to observe that the business of Man's Redemption proceeds upon a two-fold Covenant.

First, An Eternal Covenant made be­tween the Father and the Son, by which the Father agreed to give both Grace and Glory to a certain Number of Sin­ners, upon Condition that Christ would assume their Nature and pay down such a Ransom to his Justice, as should both sa­tisfy for their Sin, and withal Merit such a measure of Grace as should effectually Work in them all things necessary to their Salvation. And this Covenant may be properly called a Covenant of suretiship or Redemption. Upon which alone and not upon any Covenant made between God and Men in their own Persons is built the Infallibility of the future Believing, Repenting and finally Persevering of such as Christ from all Eternity undertook to make his People.

Secondly, The other is a Covenant made in time, and actually enter'd into by God and Men; by which God on his part [Page 451] Promises to Men Eternal Salvation, up­on Condition of Faith and Repentance on Theirs. And this is called in Scrip­ture the second Covenant or the Covenant of Grace, and stands opposed to that which is there called the First Covenant or the Covenant of Works.

Now by that Eternal Compact or Transaction between the Father and the Son (of which alone we now speak) was this Donation of a certain determinate number of Persons made to Christ to be his People; by virtue of which Agree­ment or Transaction he was in the full­ness of time to suffer for them, and to accomplish the whole Word of their Re­demption from first to last. For to affirm that Christ dyed only to verify a Proposition. [That whosoever believed should be saved] but in the mean time to leave the whole issue of things in refe­rence to Persons so loose and undetermin­ed, That it was a Question, whether e­ver any one should actually believe, and very possible that none ever might; and consequently that after Christ had suffered, [Page 452] had been stricken, and dyed for Transgres­sion, yet, for any thing that he had done, in all this, he might never have had a People; this certainly is a strange and new Gospel, and such as the Doctrine of our Church seems utterly unacquainted with.

Having thus shewn the Foundation upon which the Persons here spoken of are called by the Prophet God's People: Namely, An Eternal Covenant, in which God the Father and the Son mutually a­greed upon the Terms of their Redemp­tion; We are now to observe, that the same Thing, that thus denominates and makes them God's People, makes them under the same Relation to belong also to Christ, and that not only upon the Ac­count of his Nature that he was God, but chiefly of his Office, that he was their Mediator; which capacity made him e­qually concerned in that Eternal Cove­nant; He accepting and agreeing to those Terms that were proposed, and offered him by the Father. By His Acceptance of which he became both a Mystical head, [Page 453] and a Surety to those, for whom he so un­dertook. And this Relation of his to them was the Cause, why he both might be, and actually was stricken by God for their Transgression, without any Violation of the Divine Justice, notwithstanding the perfect Innocence of his Person. For to render it just to inflict a Punishment upon an Innocent Person instead of ano­ther, either of these two Causes are suf­ficient.

First, An intimate Conjunction be­tween those Persons; and that either Natural as between Father and Son, or Political as between King and People; and the like. Or

Secondly, The Voluntary Consent and Will of an Innocent Person to undergo the Punishment due to the Nocent; as it is between a Man and his Surety.

Accordingly, from that Covenant by which the Father made over a certain number of Persons to the Son to be His Peo­ple, there arose this twofold Relation of Christ to them.

  • 1. Of a King to his People, or of a [Page 454] Mystical Head to his Members; so that Legally, and Politically they suffered as really in Christ, as the whole body suf­fers when the head is wounded, or struck through with a dart.
  • 2. The other Relation is of a Surety: so that the Satisfaction paid down by Christ to God's Justice for Sin, is, in estimation of Law, as really accounted to be paid down by the Saints, as if they had paid it in their own Persons.

And this is a further, and withall a full answer to that objection formerly hinted from the Innocence of Christ's Per­son, as if it rendered him uncapable of Punishment. For his own, free, volun­tary consent to be a Surety for Sinners, and responsible for all, that Divine Justice could charge them with, Transferred the guilt and obligation from their Per­sons, to his Own.

In a word, the Compact between Christ and his Father, made him a King, a My­stical Head, and also a Surety to some cer­tain Persons; and his being so, made them His People, and their being his Peo­ple [Page 455] did, upon that account, make it both just, and equitable for him to suffer, and to be stricken for their Transgression, which is the result of the Text, and the Thing undertook by us to be proved.

I have now finished the several things proposed from the Text. In which having set before you how much Christ has suffered, and all for our sakes; I hope it will kindle the Workings of a pious In­genuity in every one of our Breasts. For I am sure if Christ's suffering for us were the Doctrine, Gratitude should make our Readiness to suffer for Him the Application. Christianity I shew was a suffering Re­ligion; and there are two sorts of suffer­ing to which it will certainly expose e­very genuine Professor of it.

  • 1. The First is from himself.
  • 2. The Second from the World.

1. And First it will engage him in a suffering from himself; even that Grand suffering of Self-denial and Mortificati­on; the sharpest and most indispensable of all others; in which every Christian is not only to be the Sufferer, but himself [Page 456] also the Executioner. He who is Christ's (says the Apostle) has crucified the Flesh with the Affections and Lusts. A severe Discipline certainly, in which a Man is to act his fiercest anger upon his Dearest Friends. For could Nature ever yet sug­gest to any one the hatred of his own Flesh? the Crucifixion of his Desires, and the stabbing of his most beloved affections? Nature indeed cannot, will not prompt it; but Christianity which rises many strains above Nature, both must and will. The best Sacrifice to a Crucified Saviour is a Crucified Lust, a bleeding Heart, and a dying Corruption: We cannot bring, nor indeed does Christ expect a recom­pence for what he has suffered for us; yet that, which he will accept, as if it were a recompence, is for us to deal cruelly with that body of Sin, which has caused the acting of all those Cruelties upon him. Let the Ambitious Man lay his Pride in the dust, the Covetous Man deposite his Treasures in the Banks of Charity and Liberality, and let the Voluptuous Epicure renonuce his Cups [Page 457] and his Whores; and this will be a pre­sent to Heaven better than an whole He­catomb: nor could the Fruit of his Body fall so grateful a Sacrifice upon God's Al­tars, as the Sin of his Soul. But it is like, the Jolly World about us will but scoff at the Paradox of such Practices, and ex­plode them as Madness and Melancholy: Yet let those Sons of pleasure know, that such as scorn to be thus Melancholy in this World, will have but little cause to be Merry in the next.

2. The other kind of suffering in which Christianity will engage a Man is from the World. Such is the Genius and Nature of the Christian Religion, that it must unavoidably bring him, who owns it, in the power of it, under Tempo­ral troubles and afflictions. In the World (says Christ) ye shall have tribulation. And he spoke it not so much by a Spirit of Prophecy, as Philosophy: and by an actual sight of it in its pregnant Causes. For the contrariety of the Principles and Maxims of Christianity to those of the World, cannot but engage Men in such [Page 458] practices as shall also thwart the Cu­stoms and Modes which govern the Acti­ons of the World. But where there is contrariety there will be fighting, and where there is fighting the weaker, I am sure, must suffer; and generally the Christian is so in all Worldly encounters, whose chief Defensatives lie not in that Armour that is Sword-proof, or Bullet­proof; and who wears no Breast-plate upon, but within his Breast; that is, his Innocence, his Conscience, and his Con­fidence in a Reconciled God. Suffering is a thing which all Men abhor, and that because they are ashamed of it; and their being so is grounded upon this O­pinion; that To suffer, in the very Na­ture of it seems to impeach the suffering Person, either in the Reputation of his Power, or of his Innocence; that is, he suffers, either because he is weak and cannot hinder it, or because he is faulty and so deserves it. But with every Christi­an Christ is an abundant answer to both these Objections. For when we see Om­nipotence hanging upon the Cross, and [Page 459] God himself scourged and spit upon; and when we see him who could have com­manded fire from Heaven, and Legions of Angels to his rescue, yet surrendering him­self quietly to the will of his Murderers, surely no mortal Man, who is but dirt, and worms-meat at the best, can pretend him­self too great, and too high to suffer. And again when we behold Vertue, In­nocence, and Purity more than Angeli­cal, crucified between Thieves and Male­factors, shall any Man whose Birth and Actions revile and speak him a Sinner to his face, thing himself too good to come under the Cross, and to take his share in the common Lot of Christianity? 'Tis not the suffering it self, but the Cause of it, that is dishonourable. And even in the worst and most shameful of sufferings, though the Hangman does the Execution, yet it is the Crime alone which does the Disgrace.

Christ commands us nothing, but he enforces it with Arguments from his Per­son as well as from his Word; and it is well if we can make a due use of them. [Page 460] For God knows how soon he may call us from our easy Speculations, and Theo­ries of Suffering to the Practical Experi­ence of it. How soon he may draw us forth for Persecution and the Fiery tryal. Only this we may be sure of, that if these things be brought upon us for His honour, it will be for Ours too to endure them. And be our distresses never so great, our calamities never so strange, and unusual, yet we have both our Savi­our's Example to direct, and his Promise to support us, who has left it upon re­cord in his Everlasting Gospel, That if we suffer with Him, we shall also Reign with Him.

To Whom therefore be Rendered and Ascribed, as is most due, all Praise, Mighty, Majesty, and Dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.

A SERMON Upon the Resurrection, Preached On Easter-Day, 1667.



Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the Pains of Death: be­cause it was not possible that He should be holden of it.

IT is of Infinite Concern to Mankind, both as to their Wellfare in this World and the next, to preserve in their Minds, a full Belief of a Future Estate of Happi­ness, or Misery, into which, according to the Quality of their Actions here, they must for ever be disposed of hereafter. The Experience of all Ages having found the Insufficiency of bare humane Re­straints to Controul the Audacious Sinful­ness of some Tempers and Dispositions, without holding them under the Awe of [Page 464] this Perswasion. From which, though some by much and long Sinning, and Pre­verse Ratiocinations caused thereby, have in a great Measure disintangled their Consciences, yet these are but few and inconsiderable compared with the rest of the World, in whose Minds, E­ducation, and better Principles, grafted upon the very Instincts of Nature, have fixed this Perswasion too deep to be ever totally rooted out. And it is from the Victorious Influence of this that the Common Peace of the World has been maintained against those bold Invasions, which the Corruption of Man's Nature would otherwise continually make upon it. But now as highly necessary as it is for Men to believe such a Future Estate, yet it must be acknowledged, that with the Generality of the World this Belief has stood hitherto upon very false, or, at the best, very weak Foundations; and consequently, that it is of no small Import to state and settle it upon Better. For the doing of which the most effectual ways, I conceive, may be these Two.

First, As to the first whereof, it must needs be, either by an Immediate De­claration of this great Truth (not disco­verable by Reason) by a Voice from Heaven, or by God's Inspiring some cer­tain Select Persons with the Knowledge of it, and afterwards enabling them to Attest it to the World by Miracles. And as this is undoubtedly sufficient in it self for such a Purpose, so Providence has not been Wanting, partly by Revela­tion, and partly by Tradition thereupon, to keep alive amongst Men some Perswa­sion at least of this Important Truth all along; as appears even from those fabu­lous accounts and stories which the Hea­then World still Cloathed, or rather Corrupted it with. Nevertheless, such has been the Prevalence of Humane Cor­ruption and Infidelity, as in a great De­gree to frustrate all the Impressions, that bare Revelation, or Tradition, could make upon Men's Minds; while they chiefly governed their Belief by the Observation [Page 466] of their Senses, which, from the Daily occurring Instances of Mortality, shew them, that as the Tree fell so it lay: and that no Body was ever seen by them, to return from the Mansions of the Dead; but that, for any thing they could find to the contrary; all passed into Dust and Rottenness, and Perpetual Oblivion.

Secondly, The other way therefore of Convincing the World of this momentous Truth (in comparison of which all Science and Philosophy are but Trifles) must be by Exemplification. That is to say, by giving the World an Instance, or Example of it, in some Person, or Per­sons, who having been confessedly Dead, should revive and return to Life again. And this, one would think, should be as full and Unexceptionable a Proof that there may be a Resurrection of Men to a future Estate as could be desired. No­thing striking the Mind of Man so powerfully as Instances and Examples; which make a Truth not only Intelligi­ble, but even Palpable; sliding it into the Understanding through the Windows of [Page 467] Sense, and by the most familiar, as well as most unquestionable perceptions of the Eye. And accordingly, this Course God thought fit to take in the Resurrection of Christ; by which he Condescended to give the World the greatest satisfaction, that Infidelity it self could rationally in­sist upon: Howbeit, notwithstanding so plain an Address both to Men's Reason and Sense too, neither has this Course, proved so successful for Convincing of the World of a Resurrection from the Dead, and a future Estate consequent thereupon, but that Unbelief has been still putting in its objections against it. For it is not, I confess, the Interest of such as Live ill in this World, to believe that there shall be another; or that they shall be sensi­ble of any Thing, after Death has once done its Work upon them: and there­fore let Truth, and Scripture, and even Sense it self, say what they will for a Resurrection, Men, for ought appears, will for ever square their Belief to their Desires, and their Desires to their Cor­ruptions; so that (as we find it in the 16th [Page 468] of Luke and last v.) though they should e­ven see one rise from the Dead they would hardly be perswaded of their own Resurrecti­on. Such a sad and deplorable hardness of Heart, have Men Sinned them­selves into, that nothing shall convince them but what first pleases them, be it never so much a Delusion. Neverthe­less the most Wise and Just God is not so to be mocked, who knows, that by Raising Christ from the Dead he has done all that rationally can, or ought to be done for the Convincing of Mankind, that there shall be a Resurrection; whe­ther they will be Convinced by it, or no. But now, if after all it should be asked, How is Christ's Resurrection a Proof that the rest of Mankind shall rise from the Dead too? I answer, That considered indeed as a bare Instance, or Example, it proves no more, than that there may be such a Thing; since the same Infinite Power which effected the One may as well effect the Other; but then, if we consider it as an Argument, and a Confirmation of that Doctrine (whereof the Assertion of [Page 469] a General Resurrection makes a princi­pal part) I affirm that so taken it does not only prove, that such a Thing may be, but also, That it actually shall be; and that as certainly, as it is Impossible for the Divine Power to set its seal to a Lye by ratifying an Imposture with such a Miracle: And thus, as Christ's Resur­rection irrefragably proves the Resur­rection of the rest of Mankind, so it no less proves Christ himself to have been the Messiah; for that, having all along affirmed himself to be so, he made good the Truth of what he had so affirmed by his miracu­lous rising again, and so gave as strong a Proof of his Messiaship, as Infinite Power, joined with Equal Veracity, could give. And upon this Account we have his Resurrection alledged by St. Peter for the same Purpose, here in the Text, which was part of his Sermon to the Jews, concerning Iesus Christ; whom he proves to be their True and long expect­ed Messiah, against all the Cavils of Pre­judice and Unbelief, by this one invinci­ble Demonstration.

[Page 470]In the Text then we have these Three Things Considerable.

First, Christ's Resurrection and the Cause of it in these words, Whom God hath raised up.

Secondly, The manner by which it was effected, which was by loosing the Pains of Death. And,

Thirdly, and Lastly, The Ground of it, which was its absolute Necessity, ex­pressed in these Words, It was not possible that He should be holden of it: and,

1. For the first of these, The Cause of the Resurrection set forth in this ex­pression, Whom God hath raised up. It was such an Action as proclaimed an Om­nipotent Agent, and carried the hand of God writt upon it in broad Characters, Legible to the meanest Reason. Death is a disease which Art cannot Cure: and the Grave a Prison which delivers back its Captives upon no humane summons. To restore Life is only the Prerogative of him who gives it. Some indeed have pretended by Art and Physical applica­tions to recover the dead, but the success [Page 471] has sufficiently upbraided the attempt. Physick may repair and piece up Nature, but not Create it. Cordials, Plaisters and Fomentations cannot always stay a Life when it is going, much less can they remand it, when it is gone. Nei­ther is it in the Power of a Spirit or De­mon good or bad to inspire a new Life. For it is a Creation; and to Create is the incommunicable Prerogative of a Power infinite and unlimited. Enter into a body they may, and so act and move it after the manner of a Soul: but it is one thing to move, another to animate a Car­cass. You see the Devil could fetch up nothing of Samuel at the request of Saul, but a shadow and a Resemblance, his Countenance and his Mantle, which yet was not enough to cover the cheat, or to palliate the Illusion. But I suppose no bo­dy will be very importunate for any fur­ther proof of this, That if Christ was raised, it must be God who raised him. The Angel might indeed roll away the stone from the Sepulchre, but not turn it into a Son of Abraham; and a less Power [Page 472] than that which could do so, could not effect the Resurrection.

2. I come now to the second thing, which is to shew the manner by which God wrought this Resurrection, set forth in those Words, having loosed the Pains of Death. An expression not altogether so clear, but that it may well require a fur­ther explication. For it may be enquir­ed, with what propriety God could be said to loose the Pains of Death, by Christs Resurrection, when those Pains conti­nued not till the Resurrection, but deter­mined and expired in the Death of his Body? Upon which ground it is, that some have affirmed, That Christ descended in­to the place of the damned; where dur­ing his Body's abode in the Grave, they say, that in his Soul he really suffered the pains of Hell; and this not unsutably to some Ancient Copies, which read it not [...] the Pains of Death, but [...] the pains of Hell; and this also with much seeming consonance to that Ar­ticle of the Creed in which Christ is said to have descended into hell. But to this I an­swer, [Page 473] That Christ suffered not any such pains in Hell, as the forementioned opi­nion would pretend, which we may de­monstrate from this, That if Christ suf­fered any of those pains during His abode in the Grave, then it was either in his Divine Nature, or in his Soul, or in his Body: But the Divine Nature could not suffer, or be tormented, as being wholly impassible: Nor yet could he suffer in his Soul; for as much as in the ve­ry same day of his Death, that passed into Paradise, which surely is no place of pain: Nor Lastly, in his Body, for that being Dead, and Consequently for the time bereaved of all Sense, could not be capable of any Torment. And then, for answer to what was alledged from the Antient Copies, it is to be observed that the word [...] (which some render Hell,) indifferently signifies also the Grave, and a state of Death. And Lastly, for that Article of the Creed in which there is mention made of Christ's descent into Hell, there are various expositions of it, but the most rational and agreeable is, that [Page 474] it means His abode in the grave and under the State of Death three Days and three nights, or rather three [...], viz. part of the First, and Third, (so called by a Synechdoche of the part for the whole) and the Second entirely: Whereby as his Burial signified his entrance into the grave; So his descending into Hell signified his continuance there and subjection to that Estate. And thus the three parts of his humiliation in the last and grand Scene of it, do most appositely answer to the three parts of his exaltation. For First, His Death answers to his Rising again. Secondly, His Burial answers to his a­scending into Heaven. And Thirdly, His Descending into Hell, answers to his sitting at the Right hand of God, in a State of never dying Glory, Honour and Immortality. But however, that his descending into Hell mentioned in the Creed cannot signify his Local descent into the place of the Damned, the former Ar­gument disproving his suffering the Pains of Hell, will by an easy Change of the Terms sufficiently evince this also. For [Page 475] First, Christ could not descend according to His Divine Nature; since that which is Infinite and fills all places could not acquire any new place. And as for his Soul, that was in Paradise, and his bo­dy was laid in the Grave; and being so, what part of Chirst could descend into Hell, (the whole Christ being thus dis­posed of) needs a more than Ordinary apprehension to conceive.

We are therefore in the next place to see, how we can make out the Reason of this Expression upon some other and better ground. In order to which, it is very observable, that the same word which in the Greek Text is rendred by [...], and in the English by Pains, in the Hebrew signifies not only pain, but also a See Dr. Ham­mond's Annot. on the place. cord or band, accord­ing to which it is very easy and proper to conceive, that the Resurrection discharged Christ from the bands of Death: besides that this rendi­tion of the Word seems also most naturally to agree with the genuine meaning of some other words in the same verse; as of [...] having loosed, which is properly [Page 476] applicable to bands and not to pains; as also of [...], which signifies properly to be bound with some cord or band; So that undoubtedly this exposition would give the whole verse a much more natu­ral and apposite Construction, and with­al remove the diffiulty. But

Secondly, Because the Evangelist St. Luke follows the Translation of the Sep­tuagint, (who little minding the Hebrew pointings rendred the Word [...] not by [...] Cords or Bands but by [...] Pains) we are therefore not to baulk so great an Authority, but to see how the Scheme of the Text may be made clear, and agree­able, even to this Exposition,

To this therefore I answer,

First, That the Words contain in them an Hebraism, viz. the pains of death, for a painful death; as it is said, Matth. 24.15. The abomination of desolation, for an abominable desolation; and so the Resurrection loosed Christ from a painful Death, not indeed painful in sensu Com­posito, as if it were so at the time of his release from it, but in a divided sence (as the Logicians speak) it loosed him from a [Page 477] Continuance under that Death; which, relating to the Time of his suffering it, was so painful.

2. But Secondly, I answer further. That though the pains of Death ceased long before the Resurrection, so that this could not in strictness of sence be said to re­move them: yet, taking in a Metonymy of the Cause for the Effect, the Pains of Death might be properly said to have been loosed, in the Resurrection, because that Estate of Death into which Christ was brought by those foregoing pains was then conquered and completely Tri­umph'd over. Captivity under Death and the Grave was the Effect and Con­sequent of those Pains, and therefore the same Deliverance which discharged Christ from the one might not improperly be said to loose Him from the other. And thus Christ was no sooner bound, but within a little time he was loosed again. He was not so much buryed, as for a while deposited in the Grave for a small in­considerable space; So that even in this respect he may not inelegantly be said [Page 478] to have tasted of Death; for a taste is tran­sient, short, and quickly past. God rescued him from that Estate, as a Prey from the Mighty and a Captive from the strong: and though he was in the very Iaws of Death, yet he was not devoured. Corruption, the common Lot of Mor­tality, seized not on him. Worms and Putrefaction durst not approach him. His Body was Sacred and inviolable; as sweet under ground as above it, and in Death it self retaining One of the highest Privileges of the Living.

3. Come we now to the Last and principal thing proposed; namely, The Ground of Christ's Resurrection, which was its absolute Necessity, expressed in these Words, Because it was not possible that He should be holden of it: and that ac­cording to the strictest and most received sence of the word [Possible]. For it was not only Par & aequum, that Christ should not always be detained under Death, because of his Innocence, (as Grotius pre­cariously, and to serve an Hypothesis, would have the word [...] here sig­nify) [Page 479] but it was absolutely necessary that he should not, and impossible that he should continue under the Bands of Death, from the Peculiar Condition of his Person, as well as upon several other Accounts. And accordingly this Impos­sibility was founded upon these Five Things.

  • 1. The Union of Christ's Humane Nature to the Divine.
  • 2. God's Immutability.
  • 3. His Justice.
  • 4. The Necessity of Christ's being believed upon.
  • 5. And Lastly, the Nature of his Priesthood.

First of all then, The Hypostatical Vni­on of Christ's Humane Nature to His Divine, rendred a perpetual Duration under Death absolutely impossible. For how could that which was united to the Great Source and Principle of Life be finally prevailed over by Death, and pass into an Estate of perpetual darkness and ob­livion? Even while Christ's body was di­vided from his Soul, yet it ceased not [Page 480] to maintain an intimate indissolvable Relation to his Divinity. It was assum­ed into the same Person; for according to the Creed of Athanasius, As the Soul and Body make one Man; so the Divine Nature and the Humane make One Christ. And if so, is it imaginable that the Son of God could have one of his Natures rent wholly from his Person? His Divi­nity (as it were) buoyed up his sinking Humanity; and preserved it from a to­tal Dissolution: for, as while the Soul continues joyned to the Body, (still speak­ing in sensu composito) Death cannot pass upon it; for, as much as that is the pro­per Effect of their Separation; So, while Christ's Manhood was retained in a Per­sonal conjunction with His Godhead, the bands of death were but feeble and in­significant, like the Withs and Cords up­on Sampson, while he was inspired with the mighty Presence, and Assistance of God's Spirit.

It was possible indeed that the Divine Nature might for a while suspend its supporting influence, and so deliver o­ver [Page 481] the Humane Nature to pain and death, but it was impossible for it to let go the relation it bore to it. A Man may suffer his Child to fall to the ground, and yet not wholly quit his hold of him, but still Keep it in his power to recover, and lift him up at his pleasure. Thus the Di­vine Nature of Christ did for a while hide it self from his Humanity, but not desert it; put it into the Chambers of death, but not lock the Everlasting Doors upon it. The Sun may be clouded and yet not Eclipsed, and Eclips'd but not stop'd in his Course, and much less forced out of his Orb. It is a Mystery to be admired, that any thing belonging to the Person of Christ should suffer, but it is a Paradox to be exploded that it should perish. For surely that Nature which diffusing it self throughout the Universe communicates an enlivening Influence to every part of it, and quickens the least spire of grass according to the measure of its Nature, and the proportion of its capacity, would not wholly leave a Nature assumed into its Bosom, and, what is more, into the [Page 482] very Unity of the Divine Person, breathless and inanimate, and dismantled of its Prime and Noblest Perfection. For Life is so high a Perfection of Being, that in this respect the least Fly or Mite is a more noble Being than a Star. And God has expresly declared himself, not the God of the Dead, but of the Living: and this in respect of the very Persons of Men; but how much more with reference to what belongs to the Person of his Son? For when Natures come to Unite so near, as mutually to interchange Names and At­tributes, and to verify the Appellation by which God is said to be Man, and Man to be God; surely Man so privileg'd and advanced, cannot for ever lie under Death, without an insufferable invasion upon the entireness of that Glorious Per­son, whose Perfection is as inviolable, as it is incomprehensible.

2. The Second Ground of the Impossi­bility of Christ's continuance under Death, was that Great and Glorious Attribute of God, His Immutability. Christ's Resur­rection was founded upon the same bot­tom [Page 483] with the consolation and Salvation of Believers, expressed in that full decla­ration made by God of Himself. Mala. 3.6. I the Lord change not: therefore ye Sons of Jacob are not consumed. Now the Immutabi­lity of God, as it had an influence upon Christ's Resurrection, was Two-fold.

  • First, In respect of his Decree or Purpose.
  • Secondly, In respect of his Word or Promise.

And First for his Decree. God had from all Eternity designed this, and seal­ed it by an irreversible Purpose. For can we imagine that Christ's Resurrecti­on was not decreed as well as his Death and sufferings? and these in the 23. v. of this Chapter are expresly said, to have been determined by God. It is a known rule in Divinity, that whatsoever God does in Time that He purposed to do from Eternity; for there can be no new Pur­poses in God: since he who takes up a new purpose, does so because he sees some ground to induce him to such a purpose, which he did not see before: [Page 484] but this can have no place in an Infinite knowledge, which by one Comprehen­sive Intuition sees all things as Present, before ever they come to pass. So that there can be no new Emergency that can alter the Divine Resolutions. And therefore it having been Absolutely pur­posed to raise Christ from the Dead, his Resurrection was as fixed and Necessary, as the Purpose of God was Irrevocable. A Purpose which Commenced from E­ternity, and was declared in the very Beginnings of Time; a Purpose not to be Changed nor so much as bent, and much less broke, by all the Created Powers in Heaven and Earth, and in Hell besides. For though indeed Death is a great Conqueror, and his Bands much too strong for Nature and Mortality: Yet when over-matched by a Decree, This Conqueror, as old as he has grown in Conquest, must surrender back his spoils, unbind his Captives, and in a word even Death it self must receive its Doom. From all which it is manifest, That where there is a Divine Decree, [Page 485] there is always an Omnipotence to second it; and Consequently, That by the Concurrence of Both no less a Power was imployed to raise Christ out of the Grave, than that which first raised the World it self out of Nothing.

2. Let us consider God's immutability in respect of his Word and Promise, for these also were engaged in this affair. In what a clear Prophecy was this fore­told, and dictated by that Spirit, which could not lye? Psalm 16.10. Thou shalt not suffer Thy Holy One to see corrupti­on. And Christ also had frequently foretold the same of himself. Now when God says a thing, he gives his Veracity in pawn to see it fully perform­ed. Heaven and Earth may pass away sooner than one Iota of a Divine Promise fall to the ground. Few things are recorded of Christ, but the rear of the Narrative is still brought up with this; That such a thing was done, That it might be fullfill­ed what was spoken by such, or such a Pro­phet; Such a firm, unshaken, ada­mantine connexion is there between a [Page 486] Prophecy and its accomplishment. All things that are written in the Prophets con­cerning Me (says Christ) must come to pass. And surely then the most Illustrious Passage that concerned him could not re­main under an uncertainty and contin­gency of event. So that, What is most Emphatically said concerning the per­severing obstinacy and Infidelity of the Jews, John 12.39, 40. That they could not believe, because, that Esaias had said, that God blinded their Eyes, and hardened their Hearts, that they should not see with their Eyes, nor understand with their Hearts, and so be converted and He should heal them, The same, I affirm, may with as great an Emphasis, and a much greater clear­ness to our Reason, be affirmed of Christ, that therefore Death could not hold him, because the Kingly Prophet had long be­fore sung the Triumphs of His glorious Resurrection in the forementioned Pre­diction. In a Word, whatsoever God purposes or promises, passes from Con­tingent and meerly Possible into Certain and Necessary: and whatsoever is Neces­sary, [Page 487] the contrary of it is so far Impossible.

But when I say that the Divine de­cree or promise imprints a Necessity up­on things; it may to prevent misappre­hension be needful to Explain what kind of Necessity this is, that so the liberty of second Causes be not thereby wholly cashiered and took away. For this there­fore, we are to observe that the Schools distinguish of a Two-fold necessity Phy­sical and Logical, or Causal and Consequen­tial; which Terms are Commonly thus explained; viz. That Physical or Causal Necessity is, when a thing by an Efficient, Productive Influence certainly and natu­rally causes such an Effect: and in this sence neither the Divine Decree nor Pro­mise makes things necessary; for neither the decree nor promise, by it self produces or effects the Thing decreed or promised; nor exerts any active influence upon Se­cond Causes so as to impell them to do any thing; but in point of Action are wholly ineffective. Secondly, Logical or Conse­quential Necessity is, when a thing does not efficiently cause an Event, but yet by [Page 488] certain infallible Consequence does infer it. Thus the fore-knowledge of any Event, if it be true and certain, does certainly and necessarily infer, that there must be such an event: for as much as the cer­tainty of knowledge depends upon the certainty of the thing known. And in this sence it is, that God's decree and promise give a necessary Existence to the thing de­creed or promised, that is to say, they infer it by a necessary infallible consequence: So that it was as impossible for Christ not to rise from the Dead, as it was for God ab­solutely to decree and promise a thing, and yet for that thing not to come to pass.

The Third Reason of the Impossibili­ty of Christs detention under a State of Death, was from the Iustice of God. God in the whole procedure of Christ's suffer­ings must be considered as a Judge exact­ing, and Christ as a Person paying down a recompence or satisfaction for Sin. For though Christ was as pure and undefiled with the least spot of Sin as purity and innocence it self: yet he was pleased to make himself the greatest Sinner in the World by Imputation and rendring him­self [Page 489] a surety responsible for our debts. For as it is said, 2 Cor. 5.21. He who knew no Sin was made Sin for us. When the Justice of God was lifting up the Sword of Vengeance over our Heads, Christ snatch'd us away from the blow, and substituted his Own Body in our Room, to receive the whole stroke of that dread­ful Retribution inflicted by the Hand of an Angry Omnipotence.

But now, as God was pleased so to comport with his Justice, as not to put up the injury done it by Sin without an Equivalent compensation; so this being once paid down that proceeding was to cease. The Punishment due to Sin was Death, which being paid by Christ, Divine Justice could not any longer de­tain him in his Grave. For what had this been else but to keep him in Prison after the debt was paid? Satisfaction dis­arms Justice and payment cancells the Bond. And that which Christ exhibited was full measure pressed down and run­ing over, even adequate to the nicest proportions, and the most exact demands [Page 490] of that severe and unrelenting Attribute of God. So that his Release proceeded not upon Terms of Courtesy but of Claim. The gates of Death flew open before him out of duty; and even that Justice which was Infinite, was yet circumscribed within the inviolable limits of what was due. Otherwise guilt would even grow out of expiation, the reckoning be en­flamed by being paid, and punishment it self not appease but exasperate Justice. Revenge indeed in the hand of a sinful mortal Man is for the most part vast, un­limited and unreasonable; but Revenge in the Hands of an Infinite Justice is not so Infinite as to be also Indefinite, but in all its actings proceeds by Rule and Determi­nation, and cannot possibly surpass the bounds put to it by the Merits of the Cause, and the Measure of the Offence. It is not the effect of meer choice and will, but springs out of the unalterable relation of Equality between Things and Actions. In a word, The same Justice of God which required him to deliver Christ to Death, did afterwards as much engage him to deliver him from it.

[Page 491]4. The Fourth Ground of the Im­possibility of Christ's perpetual continu­ance under Death was the Necessity of his being Believed in as a Saviour, and the im­possibility of his being so without rising from the dead. As Christ by his Death paid down a Satisfaction for Sin, so it was necessary that it should be declared to the World by such Arguments as might found a Rational Belief of it; So that Men's Unbelief should be rendred inexcusable. But how could the World believe that he fully had satisfyed for Sin, so long as they saw Death, the known wages of Sin, maintain its full force and power over him, holding him, like an obnoxious Person, in Durance and Cap­tivity? When a Man is once imprison'd for debt, none can conclude the debt ei­ther paid by him or forgiven to him, but by the release of his person. Who could believe Christ to have been a God and a Saviour while he was hanging upon the Tree? A dying, crucified God, a Savi­our of the World who could not save himself, would have been exploded by [Page 492] the Universal consent of Reason as an horrible Paradox and absurdity. Had not the Resurrection followed the Cru­cifixion, that scoff of the Jews had stood as an unanswerable Argument against him. Mark 15.31. Himself He cannot save; and in the 32. v. Let Him come down from the Cross, and we will believe in Him. Otherwise, surely, that which was the lowest instance of humane weak­ness and mortality could be no compe­tent demonstration of a Deity. To save is the effect of Power, and of such a Power as prevails to a compleat victory and a Triumph. But it is expresly af­firmed, 2 Cor. 13.4. That Christ was crucified through weakness. Death was too hard for his humanity, and bore a­way the spoils of it for a Time. So that, while Christ was in the Grave, Men might as well have expected, that a per­son hung in chains should come down and head an Army, as imagine that a dead body, continuing such, should be able to Triumph over Sin and Death, which so potently Triumphs over the Living. [Page 493] The discourse of the Two Disciples go­ing to Emmaus, and expecting no such thing as a Resurrection, was upon that supposition hugely rational, and signi­ficant. Luk. 24.21. We trusted (said they) that this had been He who should have redeemed Israel: thereby clearly implying that upon his Death they had let that con­fidence fall to the ground together with Him. For they could not imagine that a breathless carcase could chase away the Roman Eagles, and so recover the King­dom and Nation of the Jews, from un­der their subjection; which was the Re­demption that even the Disciples (till they were further enlightened) pro­mised themselves from their Messiah. But the Argument would equally, nay more strongly. hold against a Spiritual Redemption, supposing his continuance under a State of Death, as being a thing in it self much more difficult. For how could such an one break the Kingdom of darkness and set his Foot upon Principa­lities and Powers, and Spiritual Wicked­nesses in High places, Who himself fell a [Page 494] Sacrifice to the wickedness of mortal Men; and remained a Captive in the lower parts of the Earth, reduced to a Condition not only below Men's Envy, but below their very Feet?

5. The Fifth, and Last Ground of the Impossibility of Christ's perpetual con­tinuance under a State of Death was the Nature of the Priesthood, which he had took upon him. The Apostle, Heb. 8.4. says, That if He were upon Earth He should not be a Priest. Certainly then much less could he be so, should He con­tinue under the Earth. The two great works of his Priesthood were to offer Sacrifice, and then to make intercession for Sinners, correspondent to the two works of the Mosaical Priesthood; in which the Priest first slew the Lamb, and then with the bloud of it entred into the Holy of Holies, there to appear before God in the behalf of the People. Christ therefore after that he had offered him­self upon the Cross was to enter into Heaven, and there presenting himself to the Father to make that Sacrifice ef­fectual [Page 495] to all the Intents and Purposes of it. Upon which Account the Apostle, to express his fitness for the Priesthood infinitely beyond any of the Sons of Aaron, states it upon this, Heb. 7.25. That He lives for ever to make intercession for us, and upon that very score also is able to save to the uttermost. But surely the dead could not intercede for the Living, nor was the Grave a Sanctum Sanctorum. Had not Christ risen again, His bloud in­deed might have cryed for Vengeance upon his Murderers, but not for Mercy upon Believers. In short, It had spoke no better things than the bloud of Abel, which call'd for nothing but a fearful Judgment upon the Head of him who shed it. Christ's Death merited a Re­demption for the World, but Christ while dead could not shew forth the full effects of that Redemption. He made the pur­chace at his Death, but He could not take Possession till he was returned to Life. Ever since Christ ascended into Heaven, He has been pursuing the great Work begun by him upon the Cross, [Page 496] and applying the vertue of his Sacrifice to those for whom it was offer'd. It is affirmed by some, and that not without great probability of Reason, That the Souls of the Saints who dyed before Christ's resurrection did not actually en­ter into a State of Compleat Glory till Christ the Great Captain of their Sal­vation upon his Ascension first entred in­to it himself, and then made way for o­thers. So that according to that Divine Anthem of the Church, After that he had overcome the sharpness of death, then at length, and not till then, He opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all Believers. And thus I have given five several reasons, why it was not possible that a State of Death should finally prevail over Christ, which was the thing to be proved. And I have nothing further to recommend to your consideration, but only Two things, which the very Nature of the Subject seems of it self to imprint upon all pious Minds.

1. The First is a Dehortation from Sin, and that indeed the strongest that [Page 497] can be. For can we imagine that the Second Person in the Glorious Trinity, would concern himself to take upon him our Flesh, and to suffer, and die, and at length rise again, only to render us the more secure and confident in our Sins? Would he neither see, nor endure any Corruption in his Dead Body, that we should harbour all the Filth and Corrupti­on imaginable in our Immortal Souls? Did he Conquer and Triumph over Death, that we should be the Slaves and Captives of that which is worse than Death? Christ has declared that he will dwell in those, whom he assumes into the Society of his Mystical Body: But can we think, that he who passed from a clean, new Sepulchre into an Heavenly Mansion, will descend from thence to take up his Habitation in the Rotten Sepulchre of an heart possessed and pol­luted with the Love of that which he in­finitely Hates? It will little avail us, That Christ rose from a Temporal Death unless we also rise from a Spiritu­al. For those who do not Imitate as [Page 498] well as Believe Christ's Resurrection, must expect no benefit by it.

2. Christ's Resurrection is an high and Soveraign Consolation against Death. Death we know is the Grand Enemy of Mankind, the Merciless Tyrant over Nature, and the King of Terrors. But, Blessed be God, Christ has given a Mor­tal blow to his Power, and broke his Scepter. And if we by a through Con­quest of our Sins, and Rising from them can be but able to say, O Sin where is thy Power? We may very Rationally and Warrantably, say thereupon, O Death where is thy Sting? So that when we come to resign back these frail Bodies, these Vessels of Mortality to the Dust from whence they were taken, we may yet say of our Souls as Christ did of the Damosel whom he raised up, That she was not dead, but only Slept; for, in like manner, we shall as certainly rise out of the Grave, and Triumph over the dishonours of its Rottenness and Putrefaction, as we rise in the Morning out of our Beds, with Bodies refreshed and advanced into [Page 499] Higher and Nobler Perfections. For the Head being once risen, we may be sure the Members cannot stay long behind. And Christ is already risen, and gone before, to prepare Mansions for all those who belong to him under that High Relation, That where He is, They (to their Eternal Comfort) may be also, re­joycing and singing Praises and Hallelu­jahs to him who sitteth upon the Throne, and to the Lamb for Ever and Ever.

To Whom Be Rendered and Ascribed, as is most due, all Glory, Might, Majesty, and Dominion, to Eter­nal Ages. Amen.

THE Christian Pentecost: OR, THE Solemn Effusion of the Holy Ghost; IN THE Several Miraculous Gifts Conferred by Him upon the Apostles, and first Christians.

Set forth in a SERMON Preached At Westminster-Abbey, 1692.

1 COR. XII.4.

Now there are diversities of Gifts, but the same Spirit.

OUR Blessed Saviour having New­ly Changed his Crown of Thorns, for a Crown of Glory, and ascending up on high took Possession of his Royal E­state and Soveraignty; according to the Custom of Princes, is here treating with this Lower World, (now at so great a distance from him) by his Ambassador. And, for the greater Splendour of the Embassy, and Authority of the Message, by an Ambassador no ways Inferiour to Himself, even the Holy Ghost, the Third Person in the Blessed Trinity, in Glory Equal, in Majesty Co-eternal; and therefore most peculiarly fit, not only as a Deputy, but as a kind of Alter Idem to supply his Place and Presence here upon Earth: and indeed had he not been Equal [Page 504] to him in the Godhead, he could no more have supplyed his Place, than he could have filled it: which we know, in the Ac­counts of the World, are Things extream­ly different; as by sad and scandalous Experience, is too often found.

Now the summ of this his Glorious Negotiation was to Confirm, and ratifie Christ's Doctrine, to seal the New Char­ter of the Worlds Blessedness given by Christ Himself, and drawn up by his Apostles: and Certainly, it was not a greater Work first to Publish, than it was afterwards to Confirm it. For Christi­anity, being a Religion, made up of Truth, and Miracle, could not Receive its Growth from any Power less than that, which first gave it its Birth. And be­ing withal a Doctrine Contrary to Cor­rupt Nature, and to those Things, which Men most Eagerly Loved; to wit, their Worldly Interests, and their Carnal Lusts, it must needs have quickly decayed, and withered, and dyed away, if not Wa­tered by the same Hand of Omnipotence by which it was first planted.

[Page 505]Nothing could keep it up, but such a standing, mighty Power, as should be a­ble upon all occasions to Countermand, and Controul Nature; such an one, as should, at the same time, both Instruct and Astonish; and baffle the Disputes of Reason by the Obvious overpowering Convictions of Sense.

And this was the Design of the Spi­rit's Mission. That the same Holy Ghost, who had given Christ his Conception, might now give Christianity its Confirmation. And this he did by that wonderful and various Effusion of his Miraculous Gifts upon the first Messengers, and Propagators of this Divine Religion. For as our Savi­our himself said, John 4.48. Vnless you see signs and wonders you will not believe. So that Sight was to introduce Belief: and accordingly, the first Conquest, and Con­viction was made upon the Eye, and from thence passed victorious to the Heart.

This therefore was their Rhetorick, this their method of Perswasion. Their Words were Works; Divinity and Phy­sick [Page 506] went together: They Cured the Body, and thereby Convinced the Soul: They Conveyed and enforced all their Exhortations, not by the Arts of E­loquence, but by the Gift of Tongues; These were the Speakers, and Miracle the Interpreter.

Now in Treating of these Words, I shall Consider these Three Things.

  • First, What those Gifts were, which were conferred by the Spirit both upon the Apostles, and first Professors of Christi­anity.
  • Secondly, What is Imported, and to be understood by their Diversity; and
  • Thirdly, And Lastly, What are the Consequences of their Emanation from one and the same Spirit.

First, And first, for the first of them. These Gifts are called in the Original [...], that is to say, Acts of Grace or favour; and signifie here certain Qua­lities and Perfections, which the Spirit of God freely bestowed upon Men, for the better Enabling them, to Preach the Gospel, and to settle the Christian [Page 507] Religion in the World: and accordingly we will Consider them under that known Dichotomy, or Division, by which they stand divided into Ordinary, and Extra­ordinary.

And first, for the Ordinary Gifts of the Spirit, these he conveys to us by the mediation of our own Endeavours. And as He, who both makes the Watch, and Winds up the Wheels of it, may not Improperly be said to be the Au­thor of its motion, so God, who first Created and since sustains the Powers and Faculties of the Soul, may justly be called the Cause of all those Perfections, and Improvements, which the said facul­ties shall attain unto by their Respective Operations. For that which gives the form, gives also the Consequents of that form; and the Principle, with all its appendant Actions, is to be referred to the same Donor.

But God forbid, that I should deter­mine God's Title to our Actions barely in his giving us the Power and Faculty of Acting. Durandus indeed, an Eminent [Page 508] Schoolman held so, and so must Pelagius, and his followers hold too, if they will be True to, and abide by their own Prin­ciples.

But undoubtedly, God does not only give the Power, but also vouchsafes an Active Influence, and Concurrence to the production of every particular Action, so far, as it has either a Natural, or a Mo­ral goodness in it.

And therefore, in all acquired Gifts, or Habits, such as are those of Philosophy, Oratory, or Divinity, we are properly [...] Co-workers with God. And God ordinarily gives them to none, but to such as Labour hard for them. They are so his Gifts, that they are also our own Acquisitions. His assistance, and our own study are the joint, and ade­quate Cause of these Perfections. And to imagine the Contrary, is all one, as if a Man should think to be a Scholar, barely by his Master's Teaching, without his own Learning. In all these Cases, God is ready to do his Part, but not to do both His own, and ours too.

[Page 509] Secondly, The other sort of the Spirit's Gifts are Extraordinary. Which are so absolutely and entirely from God, that the Soul, into which they are Conveyed, Contributes nothing to the obtaining of them but a bare Reception: As when you pour some generous Wine, or Li­quor into a Cask or Vessel, that affords nothing to its own fullness, but a meer Capacity; the rest it owes wholly to the Liberal hand that infused it. And, no doubt, from an Allusion to this, such endowments are said to be by way of In­fusion from the Holy Ghost.

Of which kind were the Gift of Mira­cles, the Gift of Healing, the Gift of Pro­phecy and of Speaking with Tongues; which great things might indeed be the object of Men's Admiration, and sometimes also the motive of their Envy, but ne­ver the Effect, or Purchase of their own endeavours.

Now concerning these Gifts we must observe also, that there was no small dif­ference amongst them, as to the manner of their inexistence in the Persons who had them.

[Page 510]For one of them, to wit the Gift of Tongues, after its first Infusion by the Spi­rit, might be in a Man by habitual Inhe­rence, as a standing Principle, or Power Residing in the Soul, and enabling it upon any Occasion to express it self in several Languages. There being no difference between the Acquired and the Supernatural knowledge of Tongues, as to the Nature and Quality of the Things themselves, but only in respect of their first obtainment, that one is by industri­ous Acquisition, the other by Divine Infusion.

But then for the Gifts of healing the Sick, raising the Dead, and the like; in as much, as these were Immediate E­manations from, and peculiar Effects of an Infinite and Divine Power. Such a Power could not be made habitually to inhere, and reside in the Apostles; nor indeed in any Created Being whatsoever. But only by an Exterior assistance, the Power of God was ready at hand, upon Special, and Emergent Occasions, at their Invocation, or Word, (as God [Page 511] should think fit) to produce such Mira­culous effects: For if this Power of heal­ing had been habitually Lodged in the A­postles, so that they might exert, and make use of it when they pleased, it will be hard to give a Satisfactory Reason, why St. Paul should leave Tro­phimus at Miletum sick, as we find he did, 2 Tim. 4.20.

And then Lastly, for the Gift of Pro­phecy, and foretelling future Events; nei­ther was this in the Soul by constant In­hes [...]on, and habitual Abode; but (as we may not unfitly express it) only by sud­dain Strictures, by Transient Immissi­ons, and Representations of the Ideas of Things future, to the Imagination. In a word, It was in the mind not as an In­habitant, but as a Guest; that is, by inter­mittent Returns and Ecstasies, by Occasional Raptures and Revelations; as is clear from what we read of the Prophets in the Old Testament. And thus much I thought good to discourse of the Nature of these Gifts; and to shew, what kind of Things they were; how they Qualified, [Page 512] and affected the Apostles, and Primitive Christians, in the Exercise of them; that so, we may not abuse our Understandings by an empty Notion of the Word, with­out a clear and distinct Apprehension of the Thing.

And here, I doubt not, but some will be apt to enquire, how long these ex­traordinary, and miraculous Gifts Conti­nued in the Church? For the Resolution of which, the very Nature of the Thing it self will suggest thus much, That the Conferring of these Gifts, being in or­der to the Establishment of a Church, and the settling of a New Religion in the World, their Duration was to be propor­tioned to the Need, which that New Religi­on had of such Credentials, and Instruments of Confirmation. For when Christianity first appeared in the World, it found it under the mighty Prejudice, and Prepos­session of Two Contrary Religions, but both of them Equally bent, and set a­gainst That, to wit, Gentilism, and Iu­daism. Which Prejudices nothing could Conquer, but the Arm of Omnipotence [Page 513] it self (as it were) made bare before them, in such stupendious Works, as could not but Convince them to their face, that it was a Religion, which came from God. But when these Pre­judices were once Removed, by the Actual Entertainment of, and Submission to the Christian Faith, there could not be the same use or need of Miracles then, which there was before. For still we must remember, That the State of a Church in its Infancy and First Beginnings, and in its Maturity and Continuance is very diffe­rent, and Consequently that the Exigen­cies of it, under each Condition, must equally differ too. It is a much harder work first to advance, and put a thing into Motion, than to Continue and keep up that motion being once begun. For though indeed (as we observed before) there is an Omnipotence required to maintain as well, as first to set up the Christian Church, yet it does not therefore follow that this Omnipotence must still exert it self to the same Degree, and after the same way, in One Case, that it does in the Other. [Page 514] Wherefore the use, and Purpose of Mi­racles being Extraordinary, and to serve only for a time; they were not by their Continuance to thwart their Design, nor to be made Common by their Being Perpetual. The Exact period of their Duration can hardly be assigned; but manifest it is from all History that they (or at least some of them) Continued long after the A­postles time; as we may gather from the several Ages of those Eminent Fa­thers and Christian Writers, who have so freely given in their Testimony Con­cerning the ejecting of evil Spirits from Persons Possessed, as very Common in their time in the Christian Church; A Pow­er no doubt Supernatural, and therefore miraculous: such as were Iustin Martyr, who lived something before the middle of the Second Century, and Irenaeus who lived about Thirty Years after, and Tertul­lian who lived in the latter End of the Second, and the beginning of the Third, and Minutius Felix thereabouts, and St. Cyprian about the middle of the Third, and Lactantius about the beginning of the [Page 515] Fourth. All these, I say, according to the Times they lived in, speak of this Power of Casting out Devils (but more Especially Tertullian in the Twenty third Chapter of his Apologetick) with so much Assurance, that it must needs prove it to have been very frequent amongst the Christians in those days; As several passages in those formentioned Writers particularly declare: Which might easi­ly be produced and Rehearsed by us, could we spare Room enough for them in so short a discourse.

But however, certain it is, that now these Extraordinary and Miraculous Pow­ers are ceased, and that upon as good Reason, as at first they began. For when the Spiritual Building is Consum­mate, and not only the Corner Stone laid, but the Superstructure also finished, to what Purpose should the Scaffolds any longer stand? Which when they leave off to Contribute to the Building, can serve for little else but to upbraid the folly of the Builder. Besides, that by so long a Continuance Miracle would al­most [Page 516] turn into Nature; or, at least look very like it; the Rarities of Heaven would grow Cheap, and Common, and, (which is very preposterous to Con­ceive), they would be Miracles with­out a Wonder.

The Papists indeed, who having swal­lowed, and digested the Belief of so many Monstrous Contradictions, would do but very unwisely, and disagreeably to themselves, if, for ever after, they should stick at any advantageous Absur­dity; these, I say hold, that the Gift of Miracles still continues ordinary in their Church; and that the Christian Reli­gion has still the same need of such Mi­raculous Confirmations, as it had at first.

Where, if by the Christian they mean their own Popish Religion, I am so fully of their mind, that I think, there is need, not only of Daily, but even of hourly, or rather continual Miracles, to Confirm it; if it were but in that one single Article of Transubstantiation. But then, we know whose Badge, and Cha­racter the Scripture makes it, to Come [Page 517] in Lying Wonders; and we know also, that Lying Wonders are true Impostures: and theirs are of that Nature, that the fallacy is so gross, and the Cheat so Transparent in them, that, as it hardens the Iews, and Mahumetans with a de­sperate, Invincible Prejudice against Christianity; as a Thing as false as those Miracles, which they see it recommend­ed by; so, I am Confident, that it Causes many Christians, also to nauseate their own Religion, and to fall into secret Atheism; being Apt to Think (as e­ven these Impostors also pretend) that the very Miracles of the Apostles might be of the same Nature, with those which they see daily Acted by these Spiritual Juglers: so that hereby the grand Proof of Christianity falls to the ground, and has no force, or hold upon Men's minds at all. Whereas our Saviour Himself laid the main Stress and Credit of his Go­spel, and of his Mission from God, up­on his Miracles. The Works that I do (says He) bear Witness of me, John 10.25. And, Believe me for my very Works [Page 518] sake, John 14.11. And, had I not done amongst them the Works which no other Man did, they had not had Sin. John 15.24. So that we see here, that the Credit of all turned upon his Miracles, his mighty and Supernatural Works.

But as, we know, it often falls out, that, when a Man has once got the Cha­racter of a Lyer, even Truth it self is su­spected, if not absolutely disbelieved when it comes from the Mouth of such an one. So these Miracle-Mongers [...]av­ing alarm'd the World round about t [...]em to a discernment of their Tricks, w [...]en they came afterwards to Preach Christi­anity, especially to Infidels, and to pre [...] it upon Men's belief in the strength of those Miraculous Works which were truely and really done by Christ; yet, since they pretend the same of their own Works too, (which all People see through, and know to be Lyes, and Impostures) all, that they Preach of Christ, is presently looked upon as false, and fictitious, and leaves the minds of Men locked up under a fixed, obstinate, and [Page 519] impregnable Infidelity. Such a fatal blow has the Legerdemain of those Wretches given to the Christian Religion, and such jealousies have they raised in some Men's Thoughts against it, by their false Miracles and Fabulous Stories of the Ro­mantick feats of their Pretended Saints. In all which there is nothing indeed strange or Miraculous, but the Impudence and Impiety of such as report and make them, and the folly of such as can be­lieve them.

2. Pass we now to the second Thing proposed, which is to shew, what is meant by this Diversity of Gifts, mentioned in the Text. It Imports, I conceive these Two Things.

  • 1. Something by way of Affirmation, which is Variety.
  • 2. Something by way of Negation, which is Contrariety.

1. And first, for the first of them. It imports Variety; of which Excellent Qualification, it is hard to say, whether it makes more for Vse or Ornament. It is the very Beauty of Providence, and the [Page 520] Delight of the World. It is that which keeps alive Desire, which would other­wise flag and tire, and be quickly wea­ry of any one single Object. It both supplies our Affections, and Entertains our Admiration; Equally serving the Innocent Pleasures, and the Important Oc­casions of Life. And now all these Ad­vantages God would have this desireable Quality derive even upon his Church too. In which great Body there are, and must be several Members having their several Vses, Offices, and Stations: as in the 28th v. of this Chapter (where my Text is) the Apostle tells us, that God has placed in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, thirdly Preachers; af­ter that Miracles; then Gifts of healing, helps, Governments, Diversities of Tongues. The particular Function, and Employ­ment of so many parts subserving the Joint Interest, and Design of the whole. As the motion of a Clock is a Complicated motion of so many Wheels fitly put toge­ther; and Life it self, but the Result of so many several Operations, all issuing [Page 521] from, and Contributing to the support of the same Body. The great help, and furtherance of Action, is order; and the Parent of order is Distinction. No sence, faculty, or Member must Encroach up­on, or interfere with the Duty, and Office of another. For as the same A­postle discourses in the two next verses, Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? Are all Teachers? Are all Workers of Miracles? Have all the Gift of Healing? Do all Speak with Tongues? Do all Interpret? No; but as in the Natural Body the Eye does not Speak, nor the Tongue see; so neither in the Spiritual, is every one, who has the Gift of Prophecy, endued also with the Gift and Spirit of Govern­ment; every one, who may speak well, and pertinently enough upon a Text, is not therefore presently fit to rule a Dio­cess; nor is a Nimble Tongue always attended with a strong and a steady Head. If all were Preachers, who should Govern? or rather indeed, who could be governed? If the Body of the Church were all Ear, Men would be on­ly [Page 522] hearers of the Word, and where would then be the Doers? For such, I am sure, we are most to seek for in our days, in which, sad experience shews that Hear­ing of Sermons has, with most, swal­lowed up and devoured the Practice of them; and manifestly serves instead of it; rendring many Zealots amongst us, as really guilty of the Superstition of resting in the bare Opus Operatum of this Duty, as the Papists are, or can be Charg­ed to be in any of their Religious Per­formances whatsoever. The Apostle justly reproaches such with Itching Ears, 2 Tim. 4.3. And I cannot see, but that the Itch in the Ear, is as bad a distemper, as in any other part of the Body, and perhaps a Worse.

But to proceed: God has use of all the several Tempers and Constitutions of Men, to serve the Occasions and Exi­gences of his Church by. Amongst which some are of a Sanguine, Chearful, and Debonair Disposition, having their Imaginations, for the most part, filled and taken up with Pleasing Ideas, and [Page 523] Images of Things; seldom or never Troubling their Thoughts, either by looking too deep into them, or dwelling too long upon them. And these are not properly framed to serve the Church ei­ther in the knotty, dark and less pleasing parts of Religion, but are fitted rather for the Airy Joyful Offices of Devo­tion; such as are praise and Thanksgiving, Iubilations, and Halleluja's; which, though indeed not so difficult, are yet as pleasing a Work to God as any other. For they are the Noble Employment of Saints and Angels; and a lively resemblance of the Glorified and Beatifick State; in which all that the Blessed Spirits do, is to re­joice in the God, who made, and saved them, to sing his Praises, and to adore his Perfections.

Again, there are others of a melancholy, reserved and severe Temper, who think much and Speak little; and these are the fittest to serve the Church in the Pensive, Afflictive Parts of Religion; in the Au­sterities of Repentance and Mortifica­tion, in a Retirement from the World, and [Page 524] a settled Composure of their Thoughts to self-reflexion and meditation. And such also are the ablest to deal with trou­bled and distressed Consciences, to meet with their doubts, and to answer their Objections, and to ransack every Corner of their shifting, and fallacious hearts, and, in a word, to lay before them the true State of their Souls, having so frequent­ly descended into, and took a strict Account of their own. And this is so great a Work, that there are not many, whose Minds and Tempers are Capable of it, who yet may be serviceable e­nough to the Church in other Things. And it is the same Thoughtful and re­served Temper of Spirit, which must enable others to serve the Church in the hard and controversial parts of Religion. Which sort of Men, (though they should never rub Men's Itching Ears from the Pulpit,) the Church can no more be without, than a Garrison can be without Souldiers, or a City with­out Walls; or than a Man can defend Himself with his Tongue, when his E­nemy [Page 525] comes against Him with his Sword. And therefore, great pity it is, that such as God has eminently and peculiarly furnished, and (as it were) cut out for this service, should be cast upon, and compell'd to the Popular, Speaking, Noisy part of Divinity; it being all one, as if, when a Town is besieged, the Govern­our of it, should call off a Valiant and expert Souldier from the Walls, to sing Him a Song or Play Him a Lesson upon the Violin at a Banquet, and then turn him out of Town, because He could not sing and play as well as He could fight. And yet as ridiculous as this is, it is but too like the irrational and ab­surd Humour of the present Age: which thinks all sence and Worth confined wholly to the Pulpit. And many Ex­cellent Persons, because they cannot make a Noise with Chapter and Verse, and Harangue it twice a Day to factious Trades-Men, and Ignorant Old Women, are esteemed of as Nothing, and scarce Thought worthy to eat the Church's Bread. But for all these false Notions, [Page 526] and wrong measures of Things and Per­sons, so scandalously prevalent amongst us, Wisdom (as our Saviour tells us) is and will be justified of Her Children.

But then again, there are others be­sides these, who are of a Warmer and more fervent Spirit, having much of heat, and fire in their Constitution: And God may and does serve his Church even by such kind of Persons as these also, as being particularly fitted to Preach the Terrifying Rigours, and Curses of the Law to obstinate daring Sinners; Which is a Work as absolutely Necessary, and of as high as Consequence to the good of Souls, as it is, that Men should be driven, if they cannot be drawn off from their Sins; that they should be cut and launced if they cannot otherwise be Cured, and that the Terrible Trump of the last Iudgment should be always Sounding in their Ears, if nothing else can awaken them. But then, while such Persons, are thus busied in Preaching of Iudgment, it is much to be wished, that they would do it with Iudgment too; and not Preach [Page 527] Hell and Damnation to Sinners so, as if they were pleased with what they preach­ed; No; let them rather take heed, that they mistake not their own fierce Temper for the mind of God: for some I have known to do so; and that at such a Rate, that it was easy enough to di­stinguish the Humour of the Speaker from the Nature of the Thing he spoke. Let Ministers threaten Death and Destru­ction even to the very worst of Men in such a manner, that it may appear to all their sober Hearers, that they do not desire, but fear that these dreadful Things should come to pass: let them declare God's Wrath against the hardened and impenitent, as I have seen a Iudge Con­demn a Malefactor, with Tears in his Eyes: for surely much more should a dispenser of the Word, while he is pro­nouncing the infinitely more killing Sen­tence of the Divine Law, grieve with an inward, bleeding compassion for the misery of those forlorn Wretches, whom it is like to pass upon. But I never knew any of the Geneva, or Scotch model [Page 528] (which sort of Sanctifyed Reprobationers we abound with) either use, or like this way of Preaching in my Life; but generally Whips and Scorpions, Wrath and Vengeance, Fire and Brimstone, made both Top and Bottom, Front, and Rear, First and Last of all their Dis­courses.

But then on the Contrary, there are others again, of a Gentler, a Softer, and more Tender Genius; and these are full as serviceable for the Work of the Ministry, as the former sort could be, though not in the same way; as being much fitter to represent the Meekness of Moses, than to Preach his Law; to bind up the broken hearted, to speak Comfort, and Refreshment to the weary, and to take off the Burden from the heavy Laden. Nature it self seems peculiarly to have fitted such for the dispensations of Grace. And when they are once put into the Ministry, they are (as it were) marked and singled out by Providence, to do those benign Offices to the Souls of Men, which Persons of a rougher, and more [Page 529] vehement Disposition are by no means so fit, or able to do. These are the Men, whom God pitches upon for the Heraulds of his Mercy, with a peculiar Emphasis and felicity of Address, to proclaim and issue out the pardons of the Gospel, to close up the wounds which the Legal Preacher had made, to bath and supple them with the Oyl of Gladness; and in a word, to Crown the sorrows of Repentance with the Joys of Assurance. And thus we have seen how the Gospel must have both its Boanarges and its Barnabas, Sons of Thunder, and Sons of Consolation: the first (as it were,) to Cleanse the Air and Purge the Soul, before it can be fit for the Refreshments of a Sunshine, the Beams of Mercy, and the Smiles of a Sa­viour.

David had shewn himself but a mean Psalmist, had his skill reached no fur­ther than to one Note: and therefore, Psal. 101. 1st v. we have him Singing of Iudg­ment as well as Mercy; and so raising the sweetest Harmony out of the seeming dis­cord of the most disagreeing Attributes. [Page 530] There can be no Composition in any thing, without some multiplicity and diversity of Parts: and therefore we have a Ca­talogue of those Gifts, which did (as it were) compound and make up the Pri­mitive Church in the 8, 9, and 10th verses of this 12th Chapter of the 1st to the Corinthians. Where the Apostle tells us, That to one is given the Word of Wis­dom, to another the Word of Knowledge, to another Faith; with many more such like Gifts there reckoned up; and in­deed so many and various were the Gifts poured out by the Spirit of God upon the first Preachers of the Gospel, that there is need almost of the Gift of Tongues to rehearse them.

Of which great Variety, as we have hitherto observed the Vse, so it is in­tended also for the Ornament of the Church. I say Ornament; for I cannot perswade my self, that God ever design­ed his Church for a Rude, Naked, Un­beautified Lump; or lay to the Foundati­ons of Purity in the Ruines of decency. The Entrance and Gate of Solomon's [Page 531] Temple was called Beautiful: and, as there were several Orders of Priests and Levites belonging to it, so they had their several Offices, their several Chambers and Apartments in that Temple. It was a kind of Representation of Hea­ven; in which, our Saviour tells us, there are many Mansions. But behold! there are Wiser, much Wiser, than Solo­mon amongst us, who will have it quite otherwise in the Christian Church. No­thing of Order or Distinction, nothing of Splendour or Dress must be allowed of here. No, they are all for lying in the Dust before God, (as their word is,) and there­fore will have nothing but Dust and Nasti­ness for the Churches Furniture: To at­tempt a Confutation of such Persons would be superfluous: and indeed I have no more to say for those, who contend for such a sordid, and mean Condition of the Church, but, that in this, they do not so much speak their Devotion as their E­ducation: it being generally found that a slovenly way of breeding disposes Men to a kind of slovenly Religion.

[Page 532]Much, might be spoken by way of Analogy between the Internal, and Ex­ternal, the Spiritual and the Material Or­naments of the Church; But both of them serve to dress, and set off the Spouse of Christ; the first to recommend Her to his own Eyes, and the latter to the Eyes of the World.

Where would be the Beauty of the Heavens themselves, if it were not for the multitude of the Stars, and the Va­riety of their Influences? and then for the Earth here below and those who dwell therein, certainly we might live, with­out the Plumes of Peacocks, and the Curious Colours of Flowers; without so many different Odors, so many several Tastes, and such an Infinite diversity of Airs and Sounds. But where would then be the glory and lustre of the Universe? the flourish and gaiety of Nature? if our Senses were forced to be always poring upon the same Things, without the Diversion of Change, and the quick­ning Relish of Variety? And now, when matters stand thus, may we not justly [Page 533] say, If God so cloathes the Fields, so paints the Flowers, and paves the very places we Tread upon, and with such curiosity pro­vides for all our senses, which yet are but the Servants, and under Officers of the Soul; shall He not much more provide for the Soul it self and his own ser­vice thereby, in the Glorious Oecono­my, and great Concernments of the Church? and moreover, does not such a Liberal Effusion of Gifts equally Ar­gue both the Power and the Bounty of the Giver? Number, and multitude are the signs of Riches, and the materials of Plenty; And therefore though Vnity in the Government and Communion of the Church is indeed a great blessing, yet in the Gifts and endowments of it, it would be but Penury and a Curse. But

Secondly, As this diversity of the Spirits Gifts imports Variety, so it excludes Con­trariety. Different they are, but they are not opposite. There is no Jarr, no Combat, or Contest between them, but all are disposed of with mutual A­greements, and a happy subordination: [Page 534] For as Variety adorns, so Opposition de­stroys; Things most different in Nature, may yet be united in the same design; and the most distant Lines, may meet an [...] Clasp in the same Centre.

As for Instance, One would Think that the Spirit of Meekness, and the Spi­rit of Zeal stood at that distance of Con­trariety, as to defie all Possibility ei­ther of likeness, or Reconcilement; and yet (as we have already shewn) they both may and do equally serve and carry on the great End and business of Religion. And the same Spirit, which Baptizes with Water, Baptizes also with Fire. It is an Art to attain the same End by several Methods: and to make things of a quite contrary Operation, to concur in one and the same Effect.

Come we now to the third and last Thing proposed from the Words; which is to shew, What are the Consequences of this Emanation of so many and different Gifts from one and the same Spirit: I shall instance in Four, directly, and naturally deducible from it: As

[Page 535] First, If the Spirit Works such Variety of Gifts, and those in so vast a Multi­tude, and for the most part above the force of Nature, certainly it is but Ra­tional to Conclude. That it is a Being su­periour to Nature, and so may justly Chal­lenge to it self a Deity. There have been several who have impugned the Deity of the Holy Ghost, though not in the same manner; but the Principal of them come within these two sorts.

  • 1. Macedonius and his followers, who allowed Him to be a Person, but deny­ed his Deity. Affirming Him to be the Chief Angel, the supreme and most Ex­cellent of those Blessed Spirits, imploy­ed by God in Administring the Affairs of the Church, and Conveying good suggestions to the minds of Men, and for that cause to be called the Holy Spirit, and sometimes simply and [...], or by way of Eminence The Spirit. And the same was held also by one Biddle an He­retick of some Note here in England, a little before the Restauration. That is to say while Confusion and Toleration gave [Page 536] Countenance to almost all Religions, ex­cept the True.
  • 2. But secondly, Socinus and his School, deny both the Deity of the Ho­ly Ghost, and his Personal subsistence too; not granting Him to be a Person, but only the Power of God. To wit, That Vis or [...], by which he effects, or produces Things. And, amongst those, who assert this, none have given such bold strokes at the Deity of the Holy Ghost, as Crellius, in his Book de uno Deo Patre, and his other de Spiritu Sancto.

Now to draw forth and Insist upon all the Arguments and Texts of Scripture, which use to be traversed on both sides in this Controversy, would be a Thing neither to be done within this Compass of time, nor perhaps so proper for this Exercise, and therefore, let it suffice us upon the warrant of express Scripture, not Sophisticated by Nice and forced Ex­positions, but plainly interpreted by the General Tradition of the Church (to which all private Reason, ought in Reason to give place) to confess and adore the De­ity of the Holy Ghost.

[Page 537]Now, this Holy Spirit is in the Church, as the Soul in the Natural Body. For as the same Soul does in and by the several parts of the Body exercise several functions, and Operations; so the Holy Ghost, while He animates the mystical Body of Christ, Causes in it several Gifts, and Powers, by which He Enables it to exert Variety of Actions. And as in the River Nilus, it is the same fountain which supplies the seven streams. So when we read of the seven Spirits, Revelation 4.5. They are but so many several Gifts of the same Spirit, all bearing the Name and Title of their Donor; as it is usual for so ma­ny several Volumes to bear the single denomination of their Author; and we say properly enough, that such an one has read Cicero or Plutarch, when he has read their Works.

But now surely this Glorious Person or Being, who thus enlightens the minds of all Men coming into the World in some measure, and of the Church more Espe­cially, cannot be in the Rank and Num­ber of Created Beings. The Heathens [Page 538] attributed a kind of Divinity, or Godhead to springs, because of that Continual In­exhaustible Emanation from them, Re­sembling a kind of Infinity. But here we see the very Gifts of the Spirit to be Divine: and where we find such a Divinity in the stream, certainly we may well ascribe it in a more transcendent manner, to the Fountain; Besides, if the Holy Ghost were not God, I cannot see, how our Bodies could be well called his Temples; since none but God can Challenge to Himself the Prerogative of a Temple. And so much for the first Consequent. But

Secondly, This great diversity of the Spi­rits Gifts may read a Lecture of Hu­mility to some, and of Contentment to others: God indeed, in this great Scheme of the Creation, has drawn some Capital Letters, set forth some Master-Pieces, and furnished them with Higher Abilities than ordinary, and given them Gifts (as it were) with both hands. But for all that, none can brag of a Mono­poly of them, none has so absolutely engrossed them all, as to be that Thing [Page 539] of which we may say, Here we see, what and how much God can do. No; God has wrote upon no Created Being the utmost stint of his Power, but only the free Issues, and Products of his Pleasure. God has made no Man in Opprobrium Na­turae; only to overlook his Fellow Crea­tures, to upbraid them with their Defects, and to discourage them with the Amazing distance of the Comparison. He has filled no Man's Intellectuals so full, but He has left some Vacuities in them, that may sometimes send Him for supplies to Minds of a much Lower Pitch. He has Stocked no Land, or Countrey with Such Universal Plenty, without the mixture of some wants, to be the ground and Cause of Commerce: for mutual wants, and mutual perfections together, are the Bond and Cement of Conversation. The vast Knowledge and Ruling Abili­ties of Moses, might yet stand in need of Aaron's Elocution. And He who speaks with the Tongue of Angels, and the greatest Fluency of Spiritual Rhetorick, may yet be at a loss, when He comes to matters [Page 540] of Controversy, and to assert the Truth against the Assaults, and Sophistry of a subtle opponent. God indeed can, and sometimes happily does unite both these Gifts in the same Person. But where He does not, let not Him who can Preach, condemn Him who can only Dispute; neither let Him who can dispute, despise, Him who can only Preach; For, (as we have shewn before) the Church is served by both, and has equally need of some Men to speak and declare the Word, and of others to Defend it: it being enough, and too often more than enough, for one Man to maintain, what another says. In which Work, the speaking part is indeed the more Easy, but the Defensive the more glorious.

And, as this may give some Check to the Presumption of the most raised Understandings, so it should prevent the despondency of the meanest. For the Apostle makes this very use of it in the 21. and 22. v. Where He would not have even the lowest and poorest mem­ber of the Church to be dejected, upon [Page 541] the Consideration of what it wants, but ra­ther be Comforted in the sense of what it has. Let not the foot Trample up­on it self because it does not rule the Body, but consider, that it has the honour to support it: Nay the greatest Abilities are sometimes beholding to the very mean­est, if but for this only, that without them, they would want the Gloss and Lustre of a Foyl. The Two Talents went into Heaven as easily as the Five. And God has put a Peculiar usefulness even into the smallest Members of the Body, answerable to some Need or De­fect in the greatest; thereby to level them to a mutual Intercourse of Compli­ance and Benefaction; which alone can keep things equal, and is indeed the ve­ry Poise and b [...]last of Society. And thus much for the second Consequent. But,

Thirdly, The foregoing Doctrine af­fords us also a Touchstone for the Tryal of Spirits. For, such as are the Gifts, such must be also the Spirit from which they flow. And since both of them have been so much pretended to, it is well for the [Page 542] Church, that it has rule of judgment, and a note of Discrimination. There is none, who is not willfully a stranger to the Affairs of our Israel, but has had the Noise and blusters of Gifted Brethren, and of persons pretending to the Spirit, ring­ing in his Ears. Concerning which Plea of theirs, since we all know, that there are Spirits, both Good and Bad, it cannot be denyed, but that in some sence they might have the Spirit (such a Spirit as it was) and that in a very large measure. But as for their Gifts, we must Examine them by the standard of those here men­tioned by the Apostle.

And first, for that of Prophecy. These Men were once full of a Prophecy that the World should be destroyed in the Year 1656, Because (forsooth) the Flood came upon the Old World in that Year Reckoning from the Creation. And a­gain, that the Downfal of Pope and Anti­christ, together with that of Monarchy and Episcopacy, (which they always ac­counted as Limbs of Antichrist) should be in the Year 1666. And that because [Page 543] some Remarkable mention is made of the Number 666 in the Revelation; with many other such like Predictions; The Event of all which has shewn, that those Men were not of God's Privy Coun­cil; but on the Contrary that all their Prophecies were like those of Almanacks, which warn every Wise Body to prepare against foul weather, by their foretelling Fair.

And then, for the Gift of Healing, let a bleeding Church and State shew, how notably they were gifted that way. They played the Chirurgeons in­deed with a Witness, but we never yet heard that they Acted the Physitian; all their Practice upon the Body Politick was with Powder and Ball, Sword and Pistol. No saving of Life with those Men, but by Purging away the Estate.

And likewise for the Gift of discerning of Spirits. They had their Tryers, that is, a Court appointed for the Tryal of Ministers; but most properly called Cromwell's Inquisition; In which they would pretend to know Men's hearts, [Page 544] and inward Bent of their Spirits (as their word was) by their very looks. But the Truth is, as the Chief Pretence of those Tryers was to enquire into Men's Gifts, so if they found them but well Gifted in the Hand, they never looked any fur­ther; for a full and Free hand was with them, an Abundant demonstration of a Gracious Heart; a word in great request in those times.

And moreover, for the Gift of diverse Tongues, it is certain; that they scarce spake the same Thing for two days to­gether. Though otherwise it must be Confessed, that they were none of the greatest Linguists; their own Mother Tongue serving all their Occasions, with­out ever so much as looking into the Fa­thers, who always spoke the Language of the Beast to such as could not under­stand them. Latin was with them a Mortal Crime, and Greek, instead of being owned for the Language of the Holy Ghost, (as in the New Testament it is) was looked upon like the Sin against it; so that in a Word, they had all the Confusions of [Page 545] Babel amongst them without the Diversity of Tongues.

And then Lastly, For the Gift of In­terpreting; they thought themselves no ordinary Men at Expounding a Chap­ter; if the Turning of a few Rational significant Words and Sentences into a loose, tedious, Impertinent Harangue could be called an Exposition. But a­bove all, for their Interpreting Gift, you must take them upon Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Revelation; and from thence (as it were) out of a Dark Prophetick Cloud, Thundring against the Old Cava­leirs, and the Church of England, and (as I may but too appositely express it) breaking them upon the wheels in Ezekiel, Casting them to the Beasts in Daniel, and pouring upon them all the Vials in the Re­velation. After which, let any one deny it who durst, that the Black Decree was Ab­solutely passed upon those Malignants, and that they were all of them, to a Man, Sons of Reprobation.

And thus, I think, I have Reckoned up most of the Extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, and Compared them with [Page 546] those of our late Gifted Brethren. A­mongst all which Divine Gifts, I must declare, that I cannot find the Gift of Canting and whining, and making Faces; that is, of Speaking Bad sence with worse looks; which yet, those Men used to call the Language of Canaan. Nor can I find the Gift of uttering every suddain, crude, un­digested thought coming over their minds, and of being Impudently bold and Fami­liar with Almighty God in Prayer.

I cannot find the Gift of exploding the Mysteries, and peculiar Credenda of the Gospel; in order to the turning Christi­anity into bare Morality.

I cannot find the Gift of accounting Tenderness of Conscience against Law, as a Thing Sacred, but Tenderness of Consci­ence according to Law, as a Crime to be prosecuted almost to Death.

In a word, I cannot find the Gifts, of Rebelling, Notwithstand­ing the Sanctifyed Character they bear in the Repub­licans New Gospel, viz. Ludlow's Memoirs: and in the Judgment of those who like such Practices, and therefore Publish such Books: to the manifest Affront of the Monarchy they live under. A strange Unaccountable way doubtless of Supporting it. Plundering, Se­questring, Robbing Churches, and Murdering Kings, and all [Page 547] this purely for the sake of Conscience and Religion.

These Things I say, (whether it be through the Weakness of my discern­ing Faculties, or whatsoever else may be the Cause) I cannot, for my Life find amongst the Primitive Gifts of the Spirit.

And therefore, wheresoever I do find them, let Men talk never so much of Inward Motions, and Extraordinary Calls of the Spirit, of the Kingdom of Iesus Christ, and of the Publick good, of Moderation and of an Healing Spirit, and the like; yet long and sad Experience having taught us the true meaning of all these fine and fallacious Terms, I must needs say, both of them, and the Spirit from which they proceed, in those words of St. Iames 3.18. That they descend not from above, but are Earthly, Sensual and Devilish. These are the Names which God knows and calls them by, though Schis­maticks and Hypocrites may call them Reformation. But

Fourthly, In the fourth and last place, This Emanation of Gifts from the Spirit, [Page 548] assures us that Knowledge and Learning, are by no means opposite to Grace; since we see Gifts as well as Graces conferred by the same Spirit. But amongst those of the late Reforming Age (whom we have been speaking of) all Learning was utterly cryed down. So that with them the best Preachers were such as could not read, and the ablest Divines such as could not write. In all their Preach­ments they so highly pretended to the Spirit, that they could hardly so much as spell the Letter. To be blind was with them the Proper Qualification of a Spiri­tual Guide, and to be Book-Learned (as they called it) and to be Irreligious were almost Terms Convertible. None were thought fit for the Ministry but Trades­men, and Mechanicks, because none else were allowed to have the Spirit. Those only were accounted like St. Paul, who could work with their hands, and in a lit­teral sence, drive the Nail home, and be able to make a Pulpit before they preached in it.

[Page 549]But the Spirit in the Primitive Church took quite another Method; being still as Careful to furnish the Head as to san­ctifie the Heart; and, as He wrought Miracles to found and establish a Church by these extraordinary Gifts, so it would have been a greater Miracle to have done it without them.

God, as He is the giver of Grace, so He is the Father of Lights; He neither Admits Darkness in Himself, nor ap­proves it in others. And therefore those who place all Religion in the Heats of a furious Zeal, without the due Illumi­nations of Knowledge, Know not of what Spirit they are; indeed of such a Spi­rit, as begins in Darkness, Leads to it, and Ends in it.

But, certainly, we shall one day find, that a Religion so much Resembling Hell, neither was, nor could be the Readiest way to Heaven. But on the Contrary, That the Spirit always Guides, and in­structs before He saves; and that, as He brings to Happiness only by the [Page 550] ways of Holiness; so He never leads to true Holiness, but by the Paths of Know­ledge.

To which Holy Spirit, together with the Father and the Son; Three Persons and one God, be rendred and ascribed, as is most due, all Praise, Might, Majesty, and Dominion, both now, and for ever­more. Amen.

THE Peculiar Care AND Concern of Providence FOR THE Protection and Defense of Kings, Set forth in a SERMON Preached At Westminster-Abbey, Nov. 5. 1675.

Psalm CXLIV.10. former part.

It is He, that giveth Salvation unto Kings.

THE greatest and most magnifi­cent Title, by which God exhi­bits himself to the Sons of Men, is, that he is King of Kings, and that the Gover­nours of the Earth are his Subjects, Princes and Emperours his Vassals, and Thrones his Footstools; and Consequently that there is no Absolute Monarch in the World, but One. And from the same also it follows, that there is nothing, which Subjects can justly expect from their Prince, but Princes may expect from God; And nothing which Princes Demand from their Subjects, but God in a higher manner, and by a bet­ter Claim requires from them. Now the Relation between Prince and Subject es­sentially involves in it these two things;

First, Obedience from the subject to [Page 554] all the Laws and just Commands of his Prince. And accordingly as Kings themselves have a Soveraign over them, so they have Laws over them too. Laws, which lay the same obligation upon Crowned heads, that they do upon the meanest Peasant. For no Prerogative can bar Piety. No Man is too Great, to be bound to be good. He who weilds the Scepter, and shines in the Throne has a great Account to make, and a great Ma­ster to make it to. And there is no Man sent into the World to Rule, who is not sent also to Obey.

Secondly, The other thing imported in this Relation is Protection Vouchsafed from the Soveraign to the subject. Up­on which account it is, that as God with one hand gives a Law, so with the o­ther he Defends the Obedient. And this is the highest Prerogative of World­ly Empire, and the brightest Jewel in the Diadems of Princes, that by being Gods immediate Subjects they are His immediate Care; and intituled to his more Especial Protection; that they have [Page 555] both an Omniscience, in a peculiar manner, to wake over them, and an Omnipotence to support them; And that they are not the Legions which they Command, but the God whom they Obey, who must both guard their Persons and secure their Re­galia. For it is He, and He only who giveth Salvation unto Kings.

The Words of the Text, with a little Variation, run naturally into this one Proposition, which, containing in it the full sence of them, shall be the subject of our following Discourse, viz. ‘That God in the Government of the World, exercises a peculiar and extraordinary Providence over the Persons and Lives of Princes.’

The Prosecution of which Proposition shall lie in these four things.

  • First, To shew upon what account any Act of God's Providence may be said to be peculiar and extraordinary.
  • Secondly, To shew, how and by what means, God does after such an extraor­dinary manner save and deliver Princes.
  • [Page 556] Thirdly, To shew the Reasons why He does so. And
  • Fourthly, And Lastly, To draw some­thing by way of Inference and Conclu­sion from the whole.

Of all which in their Order: And

First, For the first of these; which is to shew upon what account any Act of God's Providence may be said to be Peculiar and Extraordinary. Providence in the Go­vernment of the World acts for the most part by the mediation of second Causes: which, though they proceed according to a Principle of Nature, and a settled Course and Tenour of Acting, (suppo­sing still the same Circumstances,) yet Providence acting by them may, in se­veral Instances of it, be said to be extra­ordinary, upon a threefold account: As,

First, When a thing falls out besides the Common and Usual Operation of its proper Cause. As for instance, it is usual and natural for a Man meeting his Enemy upon full advantage, to prosecute that advantage against him, and by no means to let him escape. Yet sometimes [Page 557] it falls out quite otherwise. Esau had conceived a mortal Grudge and Enmity against his Brother Iacob; yet as soon as he meets Him, he falls upon him, in a very different way from that of Enemies, and embraces him. Ahab having upon Conquest got Benhadad, his Inveterate Enemy into his hands, not only spares his Life, but treats him kindly and lets him go. That a Bro­ther unprovoked should hate, and a stranger not obliged should love, is a­gainst the usual Actings of the Heart of Man. Yet thus it was with Ioseph, and no doubt, with many others, in which, and the like cases, I conceive, things so falling out, may be said to come to pass by an Extraordinary Act of Pro­vidence; it being manifest, that the Per­sons concerned in them do not act as Men of the same Principles and Interests under the same Circumstances use to do. For Interest, we say, will not lye, nor make a Man false to Himself, whatsoe­ver it may make him to Others.

[Page 558] Secondly, Providence may be said to Act Extraordinarily, when a thing falls out beside, or Contrary to the Design of expert, politick and shrewd Persons, con­triving or Acting in it. As when a Man by the utmost of his Wit and Skill, projects the Compassing of such or such a thing, fits means to his End, lays Antecedents and Consequents directly and appositely for the bringing about his Purpose; but in the Issue and Re­sult, finds all broken and baffled, and the Event contrary to his Intention; and the order of Causes and Counsels so studiously framed by him, to produce an effect opposite to, and destructive of the Design driven at by those Means and Arts. In this case also, I say, we may rationally acknowledge an Extraor­dinary Act of Providence. For as much as the Man himself is made instrumental to the effecting of something perfectly against his own Will and Iudgment, and that by those very ways and me­thods, which in themselves were the most proper to prevent, and the most unlikely [Page 559] to bring to pass, such an Event. The World all the while standing amazed at it, and the Credit of the Politician sink­ing: for that, nothing seems to cast so just a Reproach even upon Reason it self, as for Persons Noted for it to act as Notably against it.

Thirdly, and Lastly, Providence may be said to act in an Extraordinary way, when a thing comes to pass visibly and apparently beyond the Power of the Cause immediately imployed in it. As that a Man dumb all his Life before, should on the suddain speak: as it is said, that the Son of Craesus did, upon the fight of a Murther ready to have been Committed upon the Person of his Prince and Father. That a small Com­pany should rout and scatter an Army, or (in the Language of Scripture) that one should chase an hundred, and an hundred put Ten Thousand to flight. That Per­sons of mean parts, and little or no Ex­perience should frustrate and over-reach the Counsels of old, beaten, through-paced Politicians. These effects, I say, [Page 560] are manifestly above the Ability and stated way of working belonging the Causes from whence they flow. Never­theless such things are sometimes seen upon the great Stage of the World, to the Wonder and Astonishment of the Be­holders, who are wholly unable, by the Common method and discourses of Rea­son, to give a Satisfactory Account of these strange Phaenomena, by resolving them into any thing Visible in their im­mediate Agents: In which case there­fore, I conceive, that the whole Order and Connexion of these things one with another, may be reckoned an Act of Providence Extraordinary.

And thus much for the first general thing proposed, which was to shew upon what Account the Works of Providence come to be thus distinguished; which Considera­tion it will be easy for every one to make application of to the ensuing parti­culars. I proceed now to the

Second General thing proposed; which is to shew How and by what means God does after such an Extraordinary manner save and deliver Princes.

[Page 561]I shall mention seven.

1. By endowing them with a more than ordinary Sagacity, and Quickness of Understanding above other Men. Kings they say have a long Reach with their Arm, but they have a further with their Mind. In 1 Kings 4.29. God is said to have given Solomon Largeness of Heart even as the sand on the sea shore. And in Prov. 25.5. The Heart of Kings is said to be unsearchable. In the former Text the Roy­al Mind is compared to the Sand on the Sea shore for Compass, and in this lat­ter it may seem to Vie with the Sea it self for Depth. And does not this days Solemnity give us an Eminent proof of this? For when this horrid Conspi­racy, contrived in Hell and Darkness, was Conveyed to one of the Confederates under the shelter of an Equivocal Writ­ing, our apprehensive and quick-Scented King presently Smoaked the Ambigu­ous Paper, and Sounding the Depths of the Black Intrigue, found that at the Bottom of it, which few Mortals besides (though of the Quickest faculties) could [Page 562] have discovered from it; who had not had their Conjectures alarm'd by some Glim­merings of Light into that Dark Project before. Such a piercing Judgment does God often give to these his Deputies. A Judg­ment which looks into, or rather through and through all others, but is looked into by none.

And there is nothing that both adorns and secures a Prince Comparably to this discerning faculty: for by this, as by a great Light kindling many others, he commands the use of the best under­standings and Judgments throughout his Dominions, calling them to his Council, and so seeing with their Eyes, appre­hending and contriving with their heads; all their Knowledge and Expe­rience, like Rivers paying Tribute to the Ocean, being conveyed into and swallowed up in his Royal Breast. It is both the safety and felicity of a Prince to have a wise Council, but it must be his Own Wisdom which provides Him one. Wisdom is a Noble Quality and not dis­cernible but by it self. It is Art that must judge of Art; and He who disco­vers [Page 563] Wisdom in another must do it by the Idea He first had of it in his own Brain. Now as the first and chief exter­nal safeguard of a Prince is in his Coun­cil; and as it is his discerning faculty which must furnish him with this, so his next safety is in the choice of his Friends: and it is the same discerning faculty which must secure him here too. For it is this that must distinguish between friendship and flattery, the most baneful mischief that can be practised by one Man upon another, and shadows do not more In­separably follow Bodies, than flattery does the Persons of great Men. Flat­terers are the Bosom Enemies of Princes, laying Trains for them, not at all less de­structive, than that which was discovered this day; Contriving their Ruin accep­tably, pleasingly, and according to their own hearts desire. Poyson has frequent­ly destroyed Kings, but none has been so efficaciously mortal as that drank in by the Ear. He who meets his Enemy in the Field knows how to encounter Him, but he who meets him at his Ta­ble, [Page 564] in his Chamber or in his Closet, finds his Enemy got within Him before he is aware of him, Killing him with Smiles and Kisses, and acting the Assas­sinate under the Masquerade of a Coun­cellour or a Confident: the surest, but the basest way of destroying a Man.

But now, it is the Prince's Wisdom, and discerning Spirit, that must be His rescue from the Plots of this friendly Traitor. It is a most Remarkable Speech of Solomon, Prov. 20.8. That the King sitting on the Throne of Iudgment scatter­eth away all Evil with his Eye. And the Nature of this Evil is peculiarly such, that to discover, is to defeat it. It is a work of Darkness which the Light ne­ver looks upon, but it scatters too.

Nothing is so Notable in the Royal Bird, the Eagle, as the Quickness of his Eye. The sight is the sence of Empire and Command; that which is always first and leads the way in every great Action. For so far as a Prince sees, so far properly he rules. And while he keeps his Eye open and his Breast shut, he cannot be surprized.

[Page 565]And thus much for the first way by which Providence saves and delivers Princes; namely by endowing them with a more than ordinary Sagacity and Quickness of Understanding above other Men.

2. God saves and delivers Soveraign Princes by giving them a singular Courage and Presence of Mind in cases of difficul­ty and Danger. As soon as ever the Sa­cred Oyl had Anointed Saul King, it is said, 1 Sam. 10.9. that God gave him a­nother heart. That is, a great and a King­ly Spirit, raising his Thoughts above the Common Level and Designs of a Pri­vate Condition. And a little after, when there was a General Consternation over all Israel, upon the Invasion of the Am­monites, though the Report of it met Saul in his former mean Employment, Coming from the Field after his Fathers Herd: yet it is said in the 11. Chapter of the same Book and 6. v. That the Spi­rit of God came upon Saul when he heard these tydings. That is, the Royal Spi­rit, which he had received at his Anoint­ing, [Page 566] then began to Stir and Act, and flame out like it self; taking him pre­sently from following an Herd and put­ting Him in the Head of an Army. It is incredible to Consider the motion of some minds upon the suddain surprize of danger; and how much in such cases some will even out-act themselves. How much quicker their Wit is to invent and their Courage to execute than at other times. Tullus Hostilius, in the midst of a Battle, surprized with the Treachery of Metius Suffetius falling off with a great part of his Army to the Enemy, cries out to his Soldiers that it was by his order, and there­by confirmed their hearts from fainting through the Apprehension of Treachery, into a present and Glorious Victory by their supposing it a contrived Stratagem.

Next to Wisdom the greatest gift of Hea­ven is Resolution. It is that which gives and obtains Kingdoms, that turns Swords into Scepters, that Crowns the Valiant with Victory, and the Victorious often with a Diadem. It was answered by a Neighbouring Prince to one alledging a [Page 567] Flaw in the Title of Hen. 7. to the Kingdom of England, that he had three of the best Titles to his Kingdom of any Prince liv­ing: Being the Wisest Prince, the Va­liantest Prince, and the Richest Prince in Christendom.

Presence of mind to get out of a Plunge, and upon the suddain to Unra­vel the Knots and Intricacies of a Per­plexed business, argues a Head and a Heart made for great things. It is a kind of Ecstacy and Inspiration, a Beam of Di­vine light darting in upon Reason, and exalting it to a Pitch of Operation be­yond its natural and accustomed mea­sures; and perhaps there was never any Person in the World remarkably and heroically great, without some such kind of Enthusiasm, that is, such a migh­ty Principle, as at certain times raised him up to strange unaccountable heights of Wit and Courage. And therefore whosoever He is, who in the strength of such a Spirit can look the most menacing dangers in the face, and when the state of all Things about Him seems desperate, can yet bear his great Heart above de­spair, [Page 568] such an one for the most part makes fortune it self bend and fall down to him, difficulties vanish, and dangers fly before Him; so much is Victory the Claim of the Valiant, and success the Birth-right of the Bold. And this is the se­cond way by which Providence gives Sal­vation unto Kings.

3. God saves and delivers Soveraign Princes, by disposing of Events and Ac­cidents, in a strange Concurrence for their Advantage and preservation. No­thing indeed is or can be properly Ac­cidental to God; but Accidents are so called in respect of the Intention, or Expectation of second Causes; when things fall out beside their Knowledge or design. And there is nothing, in which Providence so much Triumphs over, and (as I may so say) laughs at the Profoundest Wisdom of Men as in the stable, certain Knowledge and disposal of all Casual Events. In respect of which the Clearest mortal Intellect is wholly in the Dark. And upon this Account, as loose as these Events seem to hang upon one another, yet they are [Page 569] all knit and linked together, in a firm Chain, and the highest link of that Chain as the Poets speak most truely and Phi­losophically (though in a fable), is fasten­ed to Iupiter's Chair: that is, it is held and managed by an Unerring Provi­dence: the Chain indeed may wave and shake this way, and that way, but still the hand that holds it is steady, and the Eye that Guides it Infallible.

Now nothing has so Powerful an In­fluence upon the great Turns of Affairs, and the Lives and Fortunes of great Per­sons, as the little, unobserved, unpro­jected Events of things. For could any thing be greater than the Preservation of a great Prince and his next Heir to the Crown, together with his Nobles and the Chief of his Clergy, from certain, imminent, and prepared destruction? And was not all this effected by a pity­ful small Accident in the mistake of the superscription of a Letter? Did not the o­versight of one syllable preserve a Church and a State too? And might it not be truly said of that Contemptible Paper, [Page 570] that it did Caesarem vehere & fortunam Caesaris, and that the Fate of three King­doms was wrapt and sealed up in it?

A little Error of the Eye, a misguid­ance of the hand, a slip of the foot, a starting of an Horse, a suddain mist, or a great shower, or a Word undesignedly cast forth in an Army, has turned the stream of Victory from one side to ano­ther, and thereby disposed of the for­tune of Empires and whole Nations. No Prince ever returns safe out of a Battle, but may remember how many Blows, and See a late Signal Instance of this in a Prince, who had his Shoul­der so Kindly Kissed, by a Cannon Bullet, (as the late Archbishop, by a peculiar strain of Rhe­torick, Expresses this Wonderful Passage in his Sermon at Court: upon Ieremiah 9▪ 23, 24. Page 34.) For well in­deed might it pass for Wonderful; the Salutes from the Mouth of a Cannon, being Common­ly so boisterous, that they seldom Kiss, but they Kill too. Bullets have gone by Him, that might as Easily have gone through Him, and by what little odd unforeseeable Chances Death has been turned aside, which seemed in a full, ready, and direct Career to have been po­sting to him. All which Passages, if we do not acknowledge to have been Guided to their Respective Ends [Page 571] and Effects, by the Conduct of a Superior, and a Divine Hand, we do by the same As­sertion Casheir all Providence, strip the Almighty of his Noblest Prerogative, and make God not the Governour, but the meer Spectator of the World. And thus much for the third way. The

Fourth, By which God saves and de­livers Sovereign Princes, is by wonderful­ly inclining the Hearts and Wills of Men to a Benign Affection towards them. Hearts and Wills are things that Princes themselves cannot Command, and yet the only Things in the strength of which they do Command. For the Heart is the grand spring of Action, and He who governs that part, does by Consequence Command the whole. But now, this is the incommunicable Prerogative of God; who, and who only, can either by Power or by Knowledge reach the Heart. For as it is said, Prov. 21.1. That the Heart of the King is in God's hand, and that as the Rivers of Water He turneth it which way soever He will. So are the hearts of the People too; which like [Page 572] a mighty stream or Torrent, He turns this way, or that way, according to the Wise Counsels of his Providence. For if He intends to advance a Prince, they shall be a stream to bear Him up from sinking; if to forsake or ruin a Prince, they shall overflow, and swell, and rush in upon Him with such a furious ungo­verned Tide as no Power or Arts of State shall be able to divert or to with­stand. God can turn the Hearts of a Nation suddainly and Irresistibly. He has done so more than once or twice, and may do so again.

Thus, for instance, when David fled before Absalom, and was forced to leave the Royal City, it was the General Af­fection of his People, (God touching their Hearts,) which brought Him back and Resettled Him in his Throne, so that in 2 Sam. 19.14. it is said of Him, That he bowed the Hearts of all the Men of Judah even as the Heart of one Man; so that they sent this word unto the King, Return thou and all thy servants. And just such another message did the Lords [Page 573] and Commons of England send our Banish­ed David in the Year Sixty. For what was it else which so gloriously restored the King? Plots were nothing, and Foreign Assistance less than nothing. It was an Universal, Invincible Current of the Peoples Wills and Affections, that bore down all those Mountains of Oppo­sition, which so many Years had been raising up against Him, and at length (in spight of Guilt and Malice) brought Him in free and unshackled, absolute and victorious over the Heads of his Armed Enemies. It was his Peoples Hearts which made their Hands useless to his Resto­ration.

On the other side, when the greatest part of the Kingdom was rent from the House of David, and Transferred to Ieroboam; in 1 Kings 12.14. the Pro­phet expresly tells them, That this thing was from God: that is, He by a secret over-ruling Energy upon the Hearts and Affections of the People, took them off from one, and enclined and carried them over to the other. And it is often by [Page 574] this alone, that the Great Lord of Lords and Controuler of Monarchs putteth down one and setteth up another. He can raise Armies of Hearts to drive any King out of his Kingdom without strik­ing a stroke; as on the Contrary, where he intends to own and support the Royal Estate of any Monarch, He shall set Him up a Throne in every one of his subjects Breasts. So that according to that Scri­pture-Expression, Their Desire shall be to Him and He shall rule over them. And certainly, where Affection binds, Alle­giance must needs be very Easy: And a pleasant thing to Rule, where there is no heart to Resist.

5. God saves and delivers Sovereign Princes by rescuing them from unseen and unknown mischiefs prepared against them. This is most Evident. For if a Prince's own observation can bear Wit­ness to many deliverances vouchsafed him by Providence, Providence it self can cer­tainly bear Witness to many more, which He is wholly Ignorant of. Forasmuch, as in every Man, but especially in [Page 575] Princes, their Concerns reach further, and Carry a Wider Compass than their Knowledge can: It being impossible that any Man living should know all that is spoken or done concerning Him, and consequently be aware of all the mis­chievous Blows levelled against Him. How many secret Cabals and Plots have been against the Reputation, the Interest, and sometimes the Life also of every Considerable Person in the World, which never yet came to their Eye, or their Ear, nor, (thanks to the Care of a Guardian Providence) ever troubled so much as a Thought, nor hurt so much as an Hair of their head! And yet the Contrivers of them have wanted neither Will, nor Wit, nor Power (the natural force of Causes Considered) to add Execution to Intention, and to give Fire to their Trains, and Efficacy to their cursed Projects, had not an invisible, over­swaying Power baffled and disappoint­ed all the Artifices of their Malice, and stifled the Base Conception before the Birth.

And this is a way of deliverance so [Page 576] Eminent for the mercy of it, that if a Prince or great Person can be obliged to Providence for any, it must be for this. For when a Man knows the Danger he is in, all his sences quickly take the Al­larm, call up the Spirits, and arm his Courage to meet the approaching Evil, and to defend himself. But when he knows nothing of the Impending mis­chief, he lies open and defenseless, like a Man bound, and naked, and sleep­ing, while a Dagger is directed to his Breast. And for a Merciful Tender Providence then to step in to his assist­ance, to ward off the Fatal blow, and to turn the approaching Edge from his un­guarded Heart, this surely is the height of mercy, and engrosses the Glory of the deliverance wholly to the Divine Good­ness, without allowing any Mortal Wit or Courage the least share, or concur­rence in it. No Prince can tell what the Discontents of ill Subjects, the Emulati­on of Neighbour States or Princes have been designing, endeavouring and pro­jecting against Him: all which Counsels [Page 577] by a Controuling Power from above, have from time to time been made abortive and frustraneous. Let Princes therefore Reckon upon this, and know assuredly, that they stand endebted to Providence for more deliverances than they can know. And if the Protecting Mercies of Heaven thus surpass their Knowledge, surely it is but Reason, that their sence of them, and gratitude for them should surmount Expression.

Sixthly, God saves and delivers Sove­raign Princes by imprinting a certain Awe and Dread of their Persons and Au­thority upon the minds of their Subjects. And there is not any one thing, which seems so manifestly to prove Government a thing perfectly Divine both as to its Original and Continuance in the World as this. For what is there in any one Mortal Man, that can strike a dread into, and command a subjection from so ma­ny Thousands as every Prince almost has under his Government, should things be rated according to the meer natural Power of second Causes? For the [Page 578] strength of one Man can do nothing a­gainst so many; and his Wisdom and Counsel but little more: and those who are to obey him, know so much, and yet for all that they yield Him absolute Subjection, dread his Threatnings, Tremble at his Frowns, and lay their Necks under his Feet. Now from from whence can all this be, but from a Secret Work of the Divine Power, In­vesting Soveraign Princes with certain Marks and Rays of that Divine Image, which overawes, and controuls the Spi­rits of Men they know not How nor Why? But yet they feel themselves actually wrought upon, and kept under by them, and that very frequently a­gainst their will.

And this is that properly which in Kings we call Majesty, and which no doubt is a kind of shadow or Portraiture of the Divine Authority drawn upon the looks and Persons of Princes, which makes them Commanders of Men's fears, and thereby Capable of governing them in all their concerns. Non fero fulgur [Page 579] oculorum tuorum, is the Language of every Subjects heart, struck with the awfull A­spect of a resolute and magnanimous Prince. There is a Majesty in his Coun­tenance that puts Lightning into his Looks and Thunder into his Words. In Dan. 5.19. it is said of Nebuchadnezzar, that God gave him such a Majesty, that all People, Nations and Languages trembled be­fore Him. When Alexander the Great found his whole Army in a Mutiny, and Resolute not to March forward, but to return to their own Country, against any Arguments or Perswasions that He could use; he At the same time uttering these Words (so suteable to his King­ly Mind and Courage) Iam scietis, & quantùm sine Rege valeat exerci­tus, & quid opis in me uno sit. Quin. Curtius. Libr. X. leaps down from the place, upon which he had been speaking to them, and arguing with them, and laying hold of thir­teen of the most forward and violent Mutineers, causes them to be bound hand and foot, (in the face of his whole Army looking on), and then thrown into the Sea. All which this Terrible and Victorious Army to which [Page 580] he himself owed his greatness, and which but even now was upon such high and daring Terms with him, quietly sees and suffers, and with a sneaking abject behaviour return to their Tents, as if a Lion had Charged and Chased a Flock of Sheep into their folds. Nay the Hi­story says further, that they were Fearful and Sollicitous and Inquisitive what the King meant to do with the rest of them. By which and the like passages Kings may see what they are, and what they may do if they will but own their high Office with an equal Courage, and be true to that Soveraignty and Character which God has stamp'd upon them. Alexander, as great as he was, was but one Man: but he was a Prince, and as such acted by a Commission from Hea­ven, as one of the Almighty's Vice-ge­rents, and upon that Account able to Encounter as well as to Lead his Army. A King acting as a King, has all the Pow­er of Heaven to bear him out; the Stars in their Courses shall fight for him; the Angels are his Guards, and the Lord of [Page 581] Hosts their Captain. And this is the Sixth way by which God saves and delivers Princes. Namely by the Authority and Majesty of their Persons.

7. In the seventh and last place. God saves and delivers Sovereign Princes, by disposing their hearts to such Vertu­ous and Pious Courses, as he has promi­sed a blessing to, and by restraining them from those ways, to which he has de­nounced a Curse. And this is the great­est deliverance of all; as having a pro­spect upon the felicity of both Worlds, and laying a foundation for all other De­liverances. For it is this, that qualifies, and renders a Man a Subject Capable of, and fit for a Deliverance. King Abime­lech was about to do an Action that would certainly have drawn Death and Confusion after it. Thou art but a Dead Man (says God to Him) in Gen. 20.3. But preventing Grace snatched Him from the Brink of Destruction, and deli­vered him from Death by restraining Him from the Sin: I with-held thee (says God in the 6th) from Sining against me. See [Page 582] the force of Princely Piety in the Per­son of Hezekiah. God tells him that he should die, and bids him prepare for it. But Piety is stronger than Death, and re­verses the fatal Edict. The Assyrians Invade his Kingdom, and take his fenced Cities, but how does he withstand them? Why he puts on Sackcloath for his Ar­mour, and it was neither the Valour nor the Number of his Troops, but the Prayer of Hezekiah and the Irresistible force of a King fighting upon his knees that routed Sennacherib.

Vertue Entitles a Prince to all the Mercies of Heaven, all the Favours, all the Endearments of Providence. It has a present and a future Influence; one upon his Person, the other upon his Po­sterity. So that in 1 Kings 11. when God declared his purpose to Remove the Kingdom from the House of Solomon for all his Idolatries and Abominations, Yet in the 34. v. he says, howbeit I will make him King all the days of his Life, for my Servant David's sake, because He kept my Commandments and my Statutes. And [Page 583] in the 32. v. He declares, that his Son after Him should have one Tribe for his Servant David's sake. Nay the Piety of a King diffuses a Blessing, and a Pro­tection upon the whole Kingdom: For how often upon the Provocations of Iudah, did the Memory of David's Piety (as it were) disarm the Divine Ven­geance; and interpose between them and the destroying Sentence? So that in the second Book of Kings, it is said three several times, upon three several Remarkable Occasions, that God would not destroy Judah and Jerusalem for his Servant David's sake. And who knows, but the Piety, the Vertues, and the Christian sufferings of the late Martyred King, may be one great preservative of the present Peace of this wretched and ungrateful Nation? so that when God lately sent his Destroying Angel, with his drawn Sword, over Poland, Germany, Holland and other Countries; He has looked upon the Blood of that Royal Martyr shed for the Rights and Liber­ties of his Kingdoms, and bid the De­stroying [Page 584] Angel pass over England and draw no more Blood there, where the Memory of that Sacred Blood had made such an Atonement and expiation, and cryed aloud for Mercy upon all; even those that shed it not excepted. Certain it is, that the Vertues of a Prince are a bles­sing to more than to Himself and His Family. They are a publick Seminary of Blessings; they are the Palladiums and and the strong holds, nay the Common stock and the Inheritance of the King­dom, and (in a word) an Exchequer that can never be shut up.

And thus much for the second Ge­neral thing proposed, which was to shew the several ways and means, by which God does after such an extraordinary manner save and deliver Sovereign Princes: All which, for Memories sake, it may not be amiss to rehearse and summ up in short: As namely he delivers them.

  • 1. By endowing them with a more than Ordinary Sagacity and Quickness of Un­derstanding above other Men.
  • 2. By giving them a singular Courage [Page 585] and Presence of Mind in Cases of Diffi­culty and Danger.
  • 3. By disposing of Events and Acci­dents in a strange Concurrence for their advantage and preservation.
  • 4. By Wonderfully Inclining the Hearts and Wills of Men to a benign affection towards them.
  • 5. By rescuing them from unseen and unknown mischiefs prepared against them.
  • 6. By Imprinting a Certain Awe and Dread of their Persons and Authority upon the minds of the People.
  • 7. Seventhly, and lastly. By dis­posing their hearts to such Vertuous and Pious Courses, as God has Promised a Blessing to, and by restraining them from those ways to which He has de­nounced a Curse. And these are the several ways, by which Providence gives salvation unto Kings.

I proceed now to the

3. General thing proposed which is to shew the Reasons, why Providence is so much concerned in the Salvation and de­liverance [Page 586] of Kings. Which that we may the better do, we must know, that there are two things, by which God supports the Societies of Mankind, which He will certainly maintain and preserve, as long as He suffers the World to last, and Men to live in it; and these are Govern­ment and Religion; which being so, I sup­pose, we need alledge no other Reason for Gods peculiar Care over the Persons and lives of Sovereign Princes, if we de­monstrate.

1. That they are the greatest Instru­ments in the hand of Providence to sup­port Government and Civil Society in the World. And

2. That they have the most Powerful Influence upon the concerns of Religion and the Preservation of the Church, of all other Persons whatsoever.

And first for the first of these. That Kings are the greatest Instruments in the hand of Providence to support Government, and Civil Society in the World: The Proof of which I conceive will be fully made out by these two things.

  • [Page 587]1. By shewing that Monarchy, or Kingly Government, is the most excel­lent and best Adapted to the Ends of Go­vernment, and the Benefit of Society. And
  • 2. That the greatness or strength of a Monarchy depends chiefly upon the Per­sonal Qualifications of the Prince or Monarch.

1. And first; let us shew that Monar­chy or Kingly Government, is the most Ex­cellent and best adapted to the Ends of Go­vernment and the benefit of Society. This is too large and Noble a subject to be fully managed in such a discourse. At present let it suffice to say, That Monar­chy in the kind of Government is the First, and Consequently the most Perfect of all other sorts. It is an Image of the Divine Supremacy, Man's Imitation of Providence, a Copy of God's Govern­ment of the Universe in a lesser draught. For the World has but one Sovereign Ruler, as well as but one Maker; and every Prince is both his Lieutenant, and his Resemblance too. The Excellency [Page 588] of any Government consists in the Na­tural firmness of its Constitution, free­ing it from the Principles of dissolution. And the Dissolution of Government, as of most other Things, proceeds chiefly from the Internal Fightings and Conflicts of Contrary parts. But now Unity excludes Contrariety, and that which is but One cannot disagree or jarr with it self. It is multitude only that admits of the Con­tests of particulars, and a Common-wealth, where Governours cannot govern them­selves. That which like a worm eats out the every heart of Government, is the Emulation, the Ambition, and the discord of the Parties invested with it. But the Supremacy placed in One Cuts off all these: for no Man is his own Rival, no Man envies Himself, or de­signs to Trip up his own Heels; what­soever he may Chance to do.

And to shew the Naturalness of Mo­narchy, all other Forms of Government insensibly partake of it, and slide into it. For look upon any Aristocracy or Demo­cracy, and still you shall find some one [Page 589] Ruling Active Person amongst the rest, who does every thing, and carries all before Him. Was not De Witt amongst our Neighbours a kind of King in a Com­mon-wealth? and was not that Usurper here amongst our selves a Monarch in Reality of Fact, before He wore the Title, or assumed the Office? Moreover, when any Common-wealth is forced to Defend it self by War, it finds it necessary to appoint one General over all, as this very Common-wealth found to its cost, and to make the Conduct of its Armies at least Monarchical. Nay the Romans themselves in their greatest Exigencies of State, had recourse to their Dictator­ship, which was a Perfect Monarchy for the time. And when they sent out their Armies under the Conduct of two Consuls, yet those Consuls were to Com­mand the whole Army by Turns, one, one Day, and another another; which was a Tacit Confession of the Necessity of a single Conduct for the Right Ma­nagement of great Affairs. And I think upon a full survey of the Roman story, [Page 590] we may truly pronounce, that the great­est defeats that were ever given that Common-wealth, in any lasting War, have been from this, that the Custom of shifting Consuls every Year, hindred the Conduct of the whole War from being continued in the hands of one experien­ced Commander. In their Wars with Hannibal nothing is more manifest. From all which I infer, that Kingly Govern­ment is the most Natural, Excellent, and Beneficial to Society of all others: and that in every Common-wealth, (in spight of its Constitution) there will be some­thing of Monarchy; And that if a Republick ever Atchieves any thing great or consi­derable, it is still by vertue of something in it that is Monarchical.

Secondly, The next thing, is to shew, That the greatness or strength of a Monarchy depends Cheifly upon the Personal Qualifica­tions of the Prince or Monarch. It ebbs or flows according to the Rising or falling of his Spirit. For still it is the Person that makes the Place Consi­derable and not the Place Him. And [Page 591] we shall find in every Government that the Activity and Bravery of the Prince, is the Soul Politick which animates, and upholds all. When Alexander the Great died the Grecian Monarchy ex­pired with Him. He was both the Emperor and the Empire too. And after the Death of Iulius and Augustus Caesar, those great Commanding Souls, the Ro­man Empire declined every day, falling into the hands of Brutes and Sots, who could scarce wield the weight of their own Bellies, and much less the Burthen of such vast Dominions. The present grandeur of the Papacy is intirely ow­ing to the Prudence and governing Arts of some of the Popes; and it never suf­fered any great Blow, but when a weak, or a Voluptuous Person Sate in the Chair. And here amongst our selves, both the Protector, and the New Pro­tectorship died in one Man, though the name indeed survived a while in a­nother; and it was quickly seen, how ri­diculous it was for any one to attempt to succeed into his Power, who could not succeed into his Spirit.

[Page 592]But it is Evident from Reason, that the fate and fortune of Governments, must Naturally follow the Personal A­bilities of the Governour: For what is there else, that the strength of a King­dom can be supposed to lean upon, but one of these three? Its Treasure, its Military Power, or its Laws. But now, none of all these can signifie any thing where the Prince is not endued with that Royal skill, that is requisite to the Du [...] Management of them. For surely the bare Image of a Prince upon the Coin of any Nation can neither Improve or Employ the Treasure of it; Nor can the Military force of a Kingdom do much to strengthen it, should the Prince either wear a Padlock upon his Sword, nor draw it in defense of his Enemies. Nor lastly can the Laws much Contribute to the support of it, if the Execution of them be either Neglected or discoun­tenanced: for it is not how Laws are made, nor how they are Interpreted, but how they are used, that must influence the Publick. By all which we see what [Page 593] moment there is in the sole Person of a Prince. For as He is qualified or dis­posed, so all these great things be­come helpful or ineffectual. The Trea­sure, Arms, and Laws of a Nation are all virtually in Him. And it is He who must breath Life and efficacy into them all. Which is the first great Reason, why God extends such a particular Pro­vidence over the Persons of Kings, namely because the main Concerns of Civil Government and Society, which Providence so much tenders the Preser­vation of, are Principally deposited in them.

Secondly, The other great Reason is, Because Princes have the most Powerful In­fluence upon the concerns of Religion, and the Preservation of the Church, of all other Persons whatsoever. Religion is indeed an immor­tal seed and the Church is proof against the very gates of Hell, as being found­ed upon a Promise, and so standing Fast in the Eternal strength of God's Veraci­ty. Nevertheless, as to its outward State and Circumstances in this World, it [Page 594] must clasp about the secular Power, and as that frowns or smiles upon it, so it must droop or flourish. Accordingly God has declared Kings the Nursing Fathers of his Church: and every Prince by the Essential Inherent Right of his Crown is, or should be a defender of the Faith. He holds it by a Charter from Heaven; long before the Pope's Donation, who never gives any thing to Princes but what was their own before. Every Christian King is within his own Domini­ons the great Pastor, both to rule Christ's Flock, and to see it fed, though He does not feed it Himself.

We know how glorious a Deliverance our Church Received this Day; and it was by the Wisdom of that Head which wore the Crown, that God vouchsafed it to Her. King and Church then, (as 'tis seldom otherwise) were both design­ed to the same Fate. But God preser­ved the King, and the King the Church. And who knows but for such a Day as this, God paved his way before Him in such a peaceable Entrance into the Eng­lish [Page 595] Throne, so much above and against the Expectation of the World round a­bout Him, and of the Court of Rome E­specially; which, it is well known, had other designs upon the Anvil at that time. And as he then saved the Church from Perishing by one Blow; so he af­terwards supported it from dying gradu­ally, either by the Encroachments of Su­perstition, or the attempts of Innovation.

And it is observable, (which I speak not in flattery, but in a Profound sense of a Blessing which the whole Kingdom can never be Thankful enough for;) That none of the Families that ever Reigned over this Nation, have to their Power been so careful and tender of the Church, kept their hands so clean from any thing that might look like Sacrilege, been so Zea­lous of its Privileges, and so kind to its Ministers, as the Royal Family that now sways the Scepter in the Succession of three several Princes. And I doubt not but as Sacrilege has blasted the mightiest Families with a Curse, so the Abhorrence of it will and must perpetuate a Bl [...]ssing upon this.

[Page 596]And thus having dispatched the seve­ral Heads at first proposed, and shewn upon what accounts the Actings of God's Pro­vidence may be said to be extraordinary: and by what ways and means this extraordinary Providence saves and delivers Princes; as also the Reasons why it does so. I proceed now to the

Fourth and last thing proposed. Which is to make some useful deductions from what has been delivered, and it shall be by way of Information concern­ing two Things.

  • First, The Duty and Behaviour of Princes towards God.
  • Secondly, The Duty and Behaviour of Subjects towards their Prince.

First, And first for that of Princes to­wards God. It shews them from whom, in their Distress they are to expect, and to whom, in their Glory, they are to Ascribe all their Deliverances. David was as great a Warriour, and as Valiant a Prince as ever Reigned. In all his Wars success waited upon his Courage, and Victory did Homage to his Sword, [Page 597] yet He tells us that He would neither trust in his Sword nor in his Bow, nor in the Alliance of Princes. All Auxiliaries but those from above, He found weak fickle and fallacious. And as Princes are to own their Great deliverer, so are they to shew the World that they do so, by setting a Due Estimate upon the deli­verance: especially when it is shown, in so signal an Instance, as that which we now Commemorate. And whosoever He is, who really and Cordially Values any Notable Deliverance vouchsafed Him by God, surely above all things it will concern Him, not to Court the mischief from which He has been Delivered. But

Secondly, Which most properly be­longs to us. We Learn from the Pre­mises the Duty and Behaviour of Subjects towards their Princes. Does not God by such a peculiar protecting Providence over Kings point out to us the Sacredness of their Persons? and Command a Reve­rence, where He Himself thinks fit to place an Honour? does not every extra­ordinary deliverance of a Prince, carry [Page 598] this Inscription upon it in the Brightest Characters, Touch not mine Anointed? Whom God has placed upon the Throne, shall any Humane Power presume to drag to the Bar? or shall Royal Heads be Crowned and Anointed only to pre­pare them to be Sacrificed upon a Scaf­fold?

As for our parts, when we Reflect up­on our Prince, signalized by so many strange unparallell'd Rescues, ought they not both to endear him to our Al­legiance, and in a manner Consecrate him to our Veneration? For is not this He, whom in the Loins of his Royal Progenitor, God, by this days Mercy, (as I may so say) delivered before he was Born? He, for whose sake God has since wrought so many Miracles? Covering his head in the day of Battle, and which is more, securing it after Battle, when such a Price was set upon it? Is not this He, whom the same Providence followed into Banishment and gave him safety and Honour, where he had not so much as to lay his Head, or to set his foot [Page 599] upon, that He could call his own? is not this He whom God brought back a­gain by a Miracle as great as that by which he brought Israel out of Egypt, not dividing but (as it were) drying up a Red Sea, before Him? Is not this He, whom neither the Plots of his Enemies at home, nor the United strength of those abroad have been able to shake or supplant? And lastly is not this He whom neither the Barbarous Injuries of his Rebel Subjects at Home; nor the Temptations of Foreign Princes abroad, nor all the Arts of Rome besides, could in his greatest Extremity bring over to the Romish Profession; but that after all, He returned, and since his Return still con­tinues in the same Communion, which He was of when he went from us, Ca­rolus à Carolo firm and Immoveable like the Son of a Father, who could rather part with his Crowns, Kingdoms, and his very Life, than quit his Honour or give up his Religion?

[Page 600]For all which glorious Things done for Him and by Him, may the same God who has hitherto delivered Him, order His affairs so, that he may never need another Deliverance, but that He may grow old in Peace and Honour; And be as great as the Love of his Friends and the Fears of his Enemies can make Him; Com­manding the Hearts of the One in spight of the Hearts of the Other; and, in a word, Continue to Reign over us till Mortality shall be swallowed up of Immortality, and a Temporal Crown Changed into an Eternal.

Which God of His Infinite mercy grant; to Whom be rendred and ascribed as is most due, all Praise, Might, Majesty and Dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.

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