THE Doctrine & Directions But more especially The Practice and Behavior of a Man in the act of the NEVV BIRTH.

A TREATISE By way of APPENDIX to the former.

By ISAAC AMBROSE, Minister of Christ at Preston in Amounderness in Lancashire.

LONDON: Printed by J. F. for Nathanael Webb and William Grantham, at the Greyhound in Pauls Church-yard.

MDCL.

AN APPENDIX, Containing both the Doctrine and Directions, but more especially the Practice and Behavior of a man in the act of The Second Birth.

The occasion of this TREATISE.

HItherto I have given the Doctrine and Application of the Soul-saving Second Birth; but some there are whose hearts are so steely, that all this cannot work upon them: If any such desire yet any more (and desire they must, or there is no remedy for them) I have, for their help in the practice, brought a Practitioner afore them. It was Cesars great praise, that he bade his Soldiers still, Come; and if men had but many Cesars or leaders in these practical points, I suppose there would be more followers. A plain Do­ctrine may win some, and a particular Direction may win more, but a good Example wins most. Howsoever then, concerning the New Birth, I have delivered the Doctrine in the Sermons, and Directions in the Appendix; yet one thing is wanting, which may help more then either, to wit, the Practice of some Saint in this one necessary thing: And what Saint? what man that hath writ more on this subject, then T. H? it was said of blessed Mr. Mr. Boltons funeral Ser­mon by Mr. Estwick. Bolton, That for himself, he could profess to his comfort on his Deaths-bed, That he never taught any godly point, but he first wrought it on his own heart; the same, do I more then probably think, was the practice of this man. Now therefore I thought [Page 3] fit, not onely to contract his Books in this Appendix (which some without his privity have unskilfully put out) but also, and that more especially, to set afore you (whosoever you are) those prime, powerful, pathetical expressions of his Soul-pangs in the New Birth, as matter for your imitation: These expressions in­deed are they I most especially aym at, which if you observe, are always delivered in the first person [I] and I verily believe they were not fained, but feeling from his own heart and soul. What needs more? if either Doctrine in the first part, or Direction in the second part, or Practice in the third part of the Book (which consists most of Practice) can work on your souls, I hope some of these, or all of these, will help you on in the way from Cor­ruption to Christianity, and from the state of Nature into the Kingdom of Grace.

CHAP. I. The Souls Preparation.

BEfore the Soul can share in Christs Merits (to speak in the Authors stile or language, without any alteration) two things are required:

  • 1. A preparation to receive and entertain Christ.
  • 2. An implantation of the Soul into Christ.

That there must be a Preparation, is the first ground we lay; and herein observe we The

  • Matter
  • Maner
  • Means

of this Preparation.

1. For Matter: The soul of a sinner must be prepared for Christ, before he can entertain him. When Kings go to any place, they send (to make readiness) their Harbengers afore them; if Christ (the King of Saints) come into a Soul, there must be a Preparation before he enter; and good Reason, he is not a meer man, an ordinary person, but a King, a King of Glo­ry. David in this case could call upon his Soul (so we may ex­pound his Gates and Doors) Lift up your heads, O ye Gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting Doors, and the King of Glory shall Psal. 24. 7. [Page 2] come in; as who should say, Be enlarged Love, Joy, Hope; set open, give way, for the Lord is coming: But who is the Lord? it is the Lord of Hosts, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in Battel: And with that he knocks again, Lift up your heads, O ye Gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting Doors, and the King of Glory shall come in; as if he should say, What, shall the Lord knock? shall the King of Glory stand? open sud­denly, and make all preparation.

2. The Maner of this Preparation consists in these three pas­sages: First, the Soul breaks that League which formerly it hath had with Corruptions, and reserves it self for Christ: And se­condly, the Soul is most willing to give way to Christ Jesus, and to let him overthrow whatsoever shall oppose him: Thirdly, the Soul is content that God should rule all, not onely the eye, or hand, or tongue, or heart, but the whole man; it opens all the Gates, and desires Christ to come, and take all the Keys of the house upon him.

3. The Means of this Preparation is the powerful Ministery, which God hath appointed for this work; and it is discovered in three particulars: First, in a particular Application of the Truth to the Souls of men with courage: Secondly, in a con­firmation of the Truth by soundness of Argument, and plain evidence of Scriptures: Thirdly, in a kinde of Spiritual heat in the heart and affections of the Minister, answerable to that which he communicates to the people. And this powerful Mi­nistery works on the soul, 1. By discovering what is in a mans heart, so that the soul seeth that it never saw before, and so is driven to a stand. 2. By driving the soul into an awe of sin, so that it dares not now meddle with sin, as formerly it hath done.

If any soul that hath enjoyed these Means any while, is not yet fitted and prepared, it is a fearful suspition, that God will Ʋse. never confer any good to that soul: Go home then (if there be any such) and reason with your own souls, and plead with your own hearts, saying, Lord, why not yet am I humbled and pre­pared? will Exhortations never prevail with me? will Terrors and Reproofs never break my heart into pieces? I have heard Ser­mons that would have shaken the very stones I trod on, that would have moved the very seat I sate on; the very fire of Hell hath [Page 4] flashed in my face; I have seen even the plagues of Hell, and if any thing can do me any good, why not then those. Exhortations, Instructions, Admonitions and Reproofs that I have often had? I have had as powerful means as may be, which never yet did me good. The Lord be merciful to such a poor soul; the Lord turn the heart of such a poor sinner, that he may lay hold of mercy in due time.

CHAP. II.

SECT. 1. The general Circumstances of Prepa­ration on Gods part.

BUt for a further distribution, which shall be our method: In this Preparation two things are considerable; The

  • General circumstances.
  • Substantial parts.

The general circumstances are twofold, some on

  • Gods part.
  • Mans part.

On Gods part they are these,

  • 1. The offer of Christ and Grace.
  • 2. The condition of this offer.
  • 3. The easiness of this condition.

On Mans part, two things are considerable:

  • 1. That corruption doth oppose this Grace.
  • 2. That God will remove this corruption.

The first general circumstance of the souls Preparation, is on Gods part; wherein is The offer of Christ Jesus, The condition of this offer, and The easiness of this condition; we may have all in this one Comparison: As with a Malefactor convicted of High Treason, for plotting some wicked practice against his Prince, if (after the discovery of all passages) the King make a Proclama­tion, That upon the surceasing of his Enterprises, he shall be par­doned; nay, if the King shall continue to send Message after Mes­sage, secretly to tell him, that would he yet lay down his arms and take a pardon, he shall freely be remitted, and graciously accept­ed into favor again: if this Traytor now should rather fling away his Pardon then his Weapons, then should the King raise an Army and overcome him, and take him, and execute him without any [Page 5] pity or mercy, I appeal to your own Consciences, is he not justly rewarded? What will the world say? he had a fair offer of Pardon, and the King sent Messenger after Messenger unto him; seeing therefore he refused and neglected such offers, it is pity but condemnation should befal him: thus would all say. Why, this is the condition of every poor soul under heaven, we are all Rebels and Traytors; by our Oathes and Blasphemies, we set our mouth against heaven; and yet after all our pride and stub­bornness, and loosness and prophaneness, and contempt of Gods Word and Ordinances, the Lord is pleased to proclaim Mercy still to every one that will receive it: All you that have disho­nored my Name, All you that have prophaned my Sabbaths, and contemned my Ordinances, All you cursed wretches, Come; Come who will, and take Pardon; therein is the Offer: onely let them lay aside all their weapons; therein is the Condition: and then have Christ for the taking; therein is the Easiness of the condition.

Blessed God (may every Soul say) if I will not do this for Christ, I will do nothing; had the Lord required a great matter of me to have attained salvation; had he required Thousands of Rams, and Ten thousand Rivers of Oyl; had he required the first-born of my body for the sins of my soul; had he required me to have kneeled and prayed until mine eyes had failed, until my hands had been wearied, until my tongue had been hoarse, and until my heart had fainted, one drop of mercy at the last gasp would have quit all this cost: But what goodness is this that the Lord should require no­thing of me, but to lay down my weapons, and to receive Christ offered? Lo the Lord this day hath sent from heaven, and of­fered Salvation unto you Sons of men; the Lord Jesus is become a suitor to you, and I am Christs spokesman, to speak a good word for him: O that we may have our errand from you! O that there were such an heart in my people (saith God) to fear Deut. 5. 29. me, and keep my Commandments always! Shall the Lord and his Messengers thus woo and intreat? and will any yet stand out against God, and say, I will none of Christ, I will try it out to the last? O then, if the great God of Heaven and Earth shall come with Ten thousand thousand of Judgements, and execute them upon that man; if he shall bring a whole Legion of Devils, and say, Take him, Devils, and torment him, Devils, in Hell for [Page 7] ever; because he would not have mercy when it was offered, he shall not have mercy; because he would not have salvation when it was tendred, let him be condemned: If God should thus deal with that man, the Lord should be just in so doing, and he justly miserable.

SECT. 2. The general Circumstances of Preparation on Mans part.

THe second general circumstance of the souls Preparation, is on Mans part; and herein is observable,

  • 1. That Corruption opposeth Grace.
  • 2. That God will remove this Corruption.

First, The first is clear, 1 Cor. 2. 14. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them; and 1 Cor. 2. 14. Acts 7. 51. Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye Acts 7. 51. do always resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did, so do ye: Give us a man in the state of Nature, and though all the Mini­nisters under heaven should preach mercy unto him; though all the Angels in heaven should exhort and intreat him; though all glory and happiness were laid before him, and he were wished onely to believe and take it, and it should be his for ever; yet in his natural condition he could have no power to receive so bles­sed an offer: howsoever, this hinders not but he is to wait upon God in the means. And then—

Secondly, God may remove this Corruption, which he him­self cannot do: Herein observe we The

  • Author
  • Time

of this Grace.

First, The Author is God: I will take away their stony hearts (saith God) and give them an heart of flesh; I will remove that Ezek. 11. 19. sturdy heart which is in them, and will give them a frameable, teachable heart, which shall ply, and yield to whatsoever I shall teach them: The taking away of the indisposition of the soul to any duty, and the fitting, framing and disposing of a soul to perform any Spiritual service, is the alone work of God.

[Page 6] Quiet then thy soul, and content thy heart; thou mayst say, 1 Ʋse of Comfort. I have an hard heart within, and it will receive no good from with­out, the Word prevails not, the Sacraments have no power over me, all the means, and cost, and charges that God hath bestowed upon me is lost, and my heart is not yet humbled, my corruptions are not yet weakned: But in this be thou comforted, though means can­not do it, which God useth at his pleasure, yet the Lord can do it, there is nothing difficult to him that hath hardness it self at command.

Be then Exhorted, you that have stony hearts, to have re­course 2 Ʋse of Exhorta­tion. unto this great God of heaven: Should a Physician set up a Bill, That he would cure all that were troubled with the Stone in the Reins, and that we should hear of many healed by him, this would stir up all to repair to him, that labored of this Disease: Why, the Lord this day hath set up a Bill, That he will cure all stony hearts that will but come to him, and all the children of God have found to the proof hereof, to the com­fort of their souls: You wives therefore, that have husbands with stony hearts, and you parents, that have children with stony hearts, tell them, You have heard this day of a Physician that will cure them, and exhort them to repair unto him.

Secondly, the Time of this Grace is either in regard of the

  • Means.
  • Men.

1. In regard of the Means; and that is, when the Sons of men have the Gospel shining in their faces; if ever good work upon their hearts, it will be then.

This should teach us how thankful we ought to be unto the 1 Ʋse of Instru­ction. Lord, that enjoy these liberties in the Land of the living; That a man was born in such a time, in the last Age of the World, in such a place, in this Kingdom, wherein the way of life and salvation is so fully, so plainly, and so powerfully made known, that the Sun of the Gospel shines full in his face, and is not yet set: O how thankful should he be!

And for those that neglect the Means of their Salvation, 2 Ʋse of Reproof. how should we pity them? Me thinks I see a poor creature, that slighted mercy and Salvation when it was offered him; me thinks I see that soul lying upon his deaths-bed, light is departing from his eyes, and his soul is departing from his body; O the [Page 8] name of a Minister, of a Church, they are as Bills of Indictments against coming the Soul of this man; me thinks I hear such a man say at his last gasp, The day is gone, the gate is shut, and now it is too late to enter: And thus the soul departs from his body, the body to the grave, and the soul to hell; O what bitter la­mentations will that soul make in hell, O the golden time that I have seen, and not regarded! O the gracious opportunities of Sal­vation that my eyes have beheld, and yet I neglected! O the mercy, and grace, and goodness of God, that have been offered unto me! All these I have contemned, and trampled under my feet, and therefore now must I be tormented with the Devil and his An­gels, from everlasting to everlasting. Now the Lord give us hearts to take notice of these things. If I were now breathing out my last breath, I would breathe out this Legacy to all sur­viving Christians, This is the accepted time, this is the day of Sal­vation. Do you hear? This day is Grace offered, and if any here would entertain it, O what comfort might he have: I was never humbled afore (might he say) but this day I was humbled; I could never before receive mercy, but this day have I received it; O this was a good day to me, now blessed am I for ever.

2. In regard of men on whom God works; that is to say, on some in their tender age, on some in their ripe age, on some in their old age: But however the Lord doth at several times convert several of his servants, yet most, and most usually be­fore their old age; and that some Interpreters wittily observe out of the Parable of the Vineyard, Mat. 20. 3, 4, 5. The master of the vineyard (saith the Text) went out at the third, sixth and Mat. 20. 3, 4, 5 ninth hour, and saw some standing idle, and he sent them into his vineyard: He went then (say Interpreters) on purpose to see and hire, and to send in laborers to work in his Vineyard, but he went out at the eleventh hour, not to hire any, he expected not then to have seen any idle; he went out upon some other occasi­on, and therefore seeing them standing, he wondred at it, saying, Why stand ye here all the day idle? as if he should say, No man will hire you now, it is but an hour to night, and therefore ra­ther a time to leave working, then to begin to work.

O let this provoke us, that while the flower is in prime, we would use all means for our good; let us now in the heat and Ʋse of Exhorta­tion. summer of our days, improve our selves in good works, that so [Page 9] when the harvest comes, we may be gathered into Gods Barn: O would we be exhorted to take the best time and opportunity of salvation, then might we receive the fruits of our labors, the salvation of our souls.

CHAP. III. The substantial parts of Preparation on Gods part; or his dispensations of his work on the Soul.

HItherto of the general Circumstances of the souls preparing for Christ. Now the Substantial parts of this Prepara­tion are generally two: The

  • Dispensation of Gods work on the soul.
  • Disposition of the soul by Gods work.

The Dispensation of Gods work discovers it self in drawing the soul

  • From sin.
  • To himself.

But because these two are made up by one action and motion, we shall therefore handle them together; and the sum is this, That God by an holy kinde of violence (which is called Drawing, Iohn 6. 44. Joh. 6. 44.) doth pluck the soul from those sins that harbor in it unto himself: wherein we may consider two things;

  • 1. What the nature of this drawing is.
  • 2. The means whereby God draws.

First, for the nature of this drawing, it is of a double kinde: 1. There is a Moral drawing, when by Reasons propounded, and good things offered to the Understanding and Will, a man comes thereby to have his minde illightened, and his will moved to em­brace things offered: Thus was it with Paul, when he was con­strained by Lydia to abide in her house, Acts 16. 15. 2. There is Acts 16. 15. a Physical drawing, when the Lord is pleased to put a new power into the soul of a sinner, and withal to carry the will to the ob­ject propounded, that it may embrace it; when the Lord not onely offers good things to the soul, but enables the soul to lay hold upon the things offered: And thus the Lord draws a sinner from sin unto himself.

Secondly, for the means whereby he draws, they are these four:

[Page 10] First, the Lord lets in a light into the soul of a poor sinner, 1 Means. and discovers unto him that he is in a wrong way: This the soul marvels at, because usually it comes on a sudden, the sinner per­ceiving nothing less, Isa. 66. 1. Isa. 66. 1.

Secondly, though a man would defeat the power of this light, yet God still follows it with forcible Arguments, and draws 2 Means. with the cord of his Mercy; I taught Ephraim to go (saith God) taking them by the arms; I drew them by the cords of love, and Hosea 11. 4. with the bonds of a man. This mercy consists in these bonds, or this love is made up of four cords:

1. The Lord reveals himself to be ready to receive, and wil­ling and easie to entertain poor sinners when they come unto him: Let the wicked (saith the Prophet) forsake his way, and Isa. 55. 7. the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and be will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon; the word in the Original is, He will mul­tiply pardons: Hast thou multiplied rebellions? the Lord will also multiply pardons: The bowels of compassion are still open, and the arms of mercy are still spread abroad; he pardoned Manasses, and Paul, and Peter, and so will he thee, his pardons are multiplied, there is yet mercy for thee also, and for a thou­sand thousand more.

2. The Lord is not onely ready to forgive when men come to to him, but that they may come, he also calls and commands them: O but may I (saith a poor sinner) shall I, dare I go unto the Lord God for mercy? may I be so bold to press in for favor at the hands of the Lord? I have been a grievous sinner, and have heaped abomination upon abomination, I am afraid therefore to approach near unto the Lords presence. Is it so? hear what the Lord saith, Come unto me, ye rebellious people, and I will heal Ier. 3. 22. your rebellions. You that never prayed, never came to hear, all Rebels, come unto me: and then the people answer, Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art our God. This is great encourage­ment to a poor sinner, he begins now to wonder, and say, Lord, shall all my sins be pardoned? shall all my oathes and abomina­tions be forgiven? I that slighted so many mercies, and com­mitted so many follies, shall I be entertained? Yes (saith the Lord) come unto me, and thou shalt be forgiven; come, I com­mand you come.

[Page 11] 3. The Lord doth not onely command a poor sinner to come in, but when he is nice in this case, saying, There is mercy with God, but not for me; the Lord then followeth him still, and sends another cord after him, that if it be possible he may win him, and woo him to receive mercy of him: If command therefore prevail not, he intreats and beseeches him to come and receive mercy, and this (me thinks) should move the hardest heart under heaven. We (saith the Apostle) are embassadors for Christ, as 2 Cor. 5. 20. though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christs stead, be reconciled unto God: rather then you should go away from Christ, even Mercy it self will come and kneel down before you, and beseech you, and intreat you, for the Lord Jesus sake to pity your poor souls, and to receive pardon for your sins: A sinner is not able to comprehend this, but he begins to be at a stand, and at amazement, What, that the Lord should beseech him! O that thou wouldst receive pardon for thy sins, and be blessed for ever! Good Lord (saith the Soul) is this possible, that the great King of Heaven should come and beseech such a Traytor, such a Rebel as I am, to take pardon? That a King on Earth should proclaim a pardon to some notorious Traytor, this were much; but that the King of Heaven should lay down his Crown, and come creeping to me, and beseech me (on his knee as it were) to take mercy; this is a thing beyond all expectation: What, shall Heaven stoop to earth? shall Majesty stoop to misery? shall the great God of Heaven and Earth, that might have condemned my soul, and if I had pe­rished and been damned, might have took glory by my destruction—Is it possible, is it credible, that this God should not onely entertain me when I come, and command me for to come, but intreat and beseech me to come and receive mercy from him? O the depth of the incomprehensible love of God! Imagine you saw God the Fa­ther intreating you, and God the Son beseeching you, as he doth this day, Come now, and forsake your sins, and take mercy, which is prepared for you, and shall be bestowed upon you: Would not this make a soul think thus with it self, What, for a Rebel? not onely to have mercy offered, but to be intreated to receive mercy, it were pity (if I will not take it) but I should go to Hell and be damned for ever. The Lord he complains, Why will ye dye? as Ezek. 18. 31. I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of a sinner: Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye dye, ye sinful Sons of men? Mercy is offered Ezek. 33. 11. [Page 12] you, the Lord Jesus reacheth out his hand to you: fain would he pluck the Drunkard out of the Alehouse, and the Adulterer from his Whore: O if you break this cord, I know not what to say to you, this is able to break a Mountain in pieces; Shake, O Mountains (saith the Prophet) Why? because God hath re­deemed Isa. 44. 23. Jacob: The Redemption of Jacob was enough to break a Mountain, let his Mercy break our hearts; it is God that begs, the blessing is our own.

4. If yet all this prevail nothing at all, the Lord will then wait, and stay in long patience and suffering, to see if any time a sinner will turn unto him. Our Savior follows poor sinners from Alehouse to Alehouse, and says, I beseech you, Drunkards, take mercy, and have your sins pardoned: The Lord (as we may say) tires himself, and wearieth himself with waiting one day after another, and one week after another: It may be (saith Christ) this week, this Sabbath, this Sermon a sinner will turn unto me; what, will it never be? Are you not ashamed (my friends) that the Lord Jesus should thus wait your leisure, and follow you from house to house, and from place to place; nay, that Christ should every morning appear to your understanding, and every night come to your bed-side, saying, Let this be the last night of sinning, and the next day the first day of your repen­tance: O when will you be humbled? when will you receive mer­cy, that it may go well with you, and with yours for ever! If none of the other will move you, yet for shame let this cord draw you to the Lord: Hear, hear his doleful pangs, O Jerusalem, Je­rusalem, wilt thou not be made clean? O when will it once be? A Ier. 13. 27. woman that is in travel, O how she expects and longs for her delivery I now a throb comes, and then she cryes; anon comes a second throb, and then she cryes again, O when comes deli­verance? Thus God the Father takes on him the person of a travelling woman; he travels and travels until he bring forth a son, until some soul be converted, and brought home unto him, O Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean? when will it once be? I have waited one, ten, twenty, thirty, forty years long have I waited on this generation; when will it once be? The Lord thus travels in patience, looking when we will receive mercy, will never our proud hearts be humbled? will never our stubborn hearts be softned? will never our prophane hearts be sanctified? [Page 13] when will it once be? Christ hath waited this day, this week, this moneth, this quarter, this year, these ten, twenty, thirty, forty years on us: You old sinners, that are gray-headed in your wickedness, how long hath the Lord waited on you? O for shame let him wait no longer, but turn, turn ye unto him, that ye may receive mercy from him.

Thirdly, if bonds of love move not, the Lord hath iron cords, that will pluck in pieces; to wit, the cords of Conscience: which 3 Means. thus disputes, He that being often reproved, doth still harden his heart, shall perish everlastingly:

But thou being often reproved, dost still harden thy heart, there­fore thou shalt perish everlastingly.

In this Syllogism are contained the

  • Monition
  • Accusation
  • Condemnation

of Conscience.

In the first Proposition, Conscience gives the sinner a Moni­tion, to come from sin, upon pain of the heaviest Judgement that can be inflicted. It is the Lord that sends the Conscience on this errand, Go to such a man, and tell him, You have blasphemed Gods Name, and you have spoken against Gods Saints, and you have broken Gods Sabbaths, and you have contemned Gods Ordi­nances; Be it known then unto thee (saith Conscience when it delivers the Message) That I have a command from Heaven, and from God, I charge you, as you will answer it at the dreadful day of Judgement, take heed of those evils and sinful practises that heretofore you have committed, lest you damn your souls for ever. Will you question his Commission? see Prov. 29. 1. He that be­ing Prov. 29. 1. often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed; if you be often reproved, and will not be bettered, then the Lord says, and Conscience from the Lord tells you, Be it at your own peril, ye shall suddenly be destroyed. No sooner Conscience thus perks upon the crown, but the sinner hangs the wing, and withdraws himself from his former lewd courses. But now when wicked persons see their companion is gone, they make after him amain, and then Conscience plucks one way, and they pluck another way; at last, by carnal company, and cursed per­swasions, the soul is drawn back again to his former wicked courses, and so perhaps this twist is broken, and the sinner is gone.

2. If so, then Conscience, that was a Monitor, now turns [Page 14] Accuser in the minor Proposition; before it was onely Gods Herald to forewarn him, but now it is become a Pursevant and Sergeant to Arrest him: it follows him to the Alehouse, and pursues him home, then takes him in his bed, and Arrests him in his sleep; there (by a Meditation) it hales the soul before the Tribunal seat of God, saying, Lo, Lord, this is the man, this is the Drunkard, Adulterer, Blasphemer, this is he, Lord; an enemy to thy Servants, an hater of thy Truth, a despiser of thy Ordinances; at such a time, in such a place, with such a company this man despised thy Truth, this is he, Lord, this is the man. And when Conscience hath thus dragged him before God, and accused him, then Take him, Jaylor, take him, Devil (saith the Lord) and imprison him; let vexation, and horror, and trouble, and anguish lie upon his soul, until he confess his sins, and resolve to forsake them. In this case was David, when he was forced to say, My bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long; for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me, my moisture is turned into the Psa. 32. 3, 4, 5. drought of summer: What then? O then (saith David) I ac­knowledged my sin unto thee,—I confessed my transgressions unto thee, O Lord, and so thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Da­vid he folded up his sins at the first, and therefore his bones were consumed, and he roared continually; when the Lord had him on the Rack, he made him roar again, and would never leave tormenting, till David came to confessing; but when he con­fessed this sin, and the other sin, then the Lord forgave him the iniquity of his sin. Thus Conscience brings the soul of a sinner on the Rack (as Traytors are used, that will not confess other­wise) and makes him to confess his sins, and then he cryes, O the abominations I have committed which the Sun never saw; in such a place, at such a time, O then I railed on Gods servants, & blasphemed Gods Name, I prophaned Gods Sabbaths, and contemned his Ordi­nances: what then? Conscience will make him confess more yet, to the Rack again with him; and then he cryes and roars for anguish of spirit, then he confesses all, and resolves to amend, then he will pray, and hear, and sanctifie Gods Sabbaths, and lead a new life. Thus Conscience receives some satisfaction, and begins to be quiet; and now having got some quiet, his cursed Companions set upon him again, Refresh (say they) your soul with some of your ancient dalliance, &c. To this and the like Temptations of Satan, he [Page 15] listens again, and then he begins to follow his old sins, perhaps with more violence and eagerness then ever he did before; and now is another twist broken likewise.

3. If so, then Conscience that was a Monitor and Accuser, now turns Executioner. The first Proposition admonished, the second accused, if neither of these prevail, then Conscience con­cludes, Thou must to execution, thou shalt perish everlastingly. And now Conscience cryes, Monitions or Accusations could not prevail with this man; Come, come ye damned ghosts, and take away this Drunkard, this Blasphemer, this Adulterer, and throw him headlong into the pit of Hell; he would not be amended, let him be condemned, he would not be humbled, therefore let him be damned. The man hearing this, then he is amazed, and thinks himself past hope, past help, past cure: Did you ever see or hear a tormented Conscience in these pangs? Now he calls, then he cryes, Lo where Devils stand, the Heavens frown, God is incensed, Hell-mouth is open: And now a Minister is sent for, who dis­plays to this despairing soul, the Mercy and Grace of God in Christ Jesus; O (replies he) this is my bane, my damnation, if I had never heard of Mercy, if I had never lived under the Go­spel, and the means of Salvation, then had I been an happy man: Alas! it is Mercy I have neglected, it is Salvation I have con­temned, how then should I be saved? O the perswasions of the Lord that I have had! the Lord hath even wept over me, as he did over Jerusalem, O that thou hadst known the things belonging to thy peace! yet all these perswasions have I contemned, and there­fore certainly to Hell I must go. The Minister replyes, Truth it is, you have done thus, but would you do so still? is it good now to be drunk, or to blaspheme, or to rail on Gods Saints, or contemn Gods Ordinances? O no, no (saith he) I now finde what the end of those wicked courses will be: Gods Word could not prevail with me, the Minister could not perswade me; O the good Sermons that I have heard, the very flames of Hell have even flashed in my face, the Minister hath spent his pains, and would have spent his blood for the good of my poor soul! But alas, I despised the Word, and mocked the Minister: Wo, wo unto me for ever; now my Conscience gnaws, and tears, and terrifies my soul here, and I shall to Hell hereafter, and perish for ever and ever. The Minister replyes again, The truth is, you have done [Page 16] thus, but would you do so now? would you still blaspheme, and curse, and be drunk, and riotous? or rather would you not now part with all these, and take mercy in stead of them? Then the poor soul cryes out, Now the Lord for his mercies sake remove these sins from me: O I had never so much delight in my sins heretofore, as now I have wo, misery and vexation for them; but (alas) it is not in my power to help my soul; if the Lord would do this, let him do what he will with it. What (saith the Minister) you are then willing and content to part with your sins: O yes, (saith the soul) I would rather offend all the world then God; I had rather go to hell, then to the committing of a sin; if it would please God to help me, I would forsake my sins with all my heart. Why, now the poor soul is coming again, and God is drawing him again from his corruptions and sinful distempers.

Fourthly, when the soul is thus loosened, the Lord then fully 4 Means. plucks it by the cord of his Spirit: with an Almighty hand he cuts the soul off from sin, and takes it into his own hand, that he may govern him, and dispose of him according to his own good will and pleasure. Thus much of preparation for the sub­stance of it on Gods part.

CHAP. IV.

SECT. 1. The substantial parts of Preparation on Mans part, or the disposition of the Soul by Gods work.

NOw are we to observe the disposition of the soul on mans part, which God works on the hearts of whom he draws. It is known in two works:

  • Contrition, whereby the soul is cut off from sin.
  • Humiliation, whereby the soul is cut off from it self.

For so it is, that either the soul seeth no need to depart from sin, or else it thinks it can help it self out of sin; the first is called Security, when the soul being blinde, takes rest, and seeing no need to be better, desires it not therefore: Against this the Lord sends Contrition, causing men thereby to know the misery of sin, and to see need of a change: The second is Carnal Confidence, [Page 17] when a sinner begins to seek succor, and to scramble for his own comfort in his self-sufficiency; against this the Lord works Hu­miliation, causing the soul hereby to see the weakness and empti­ness of its Duties, and that there is enough in its best services to condemn him for ever. Before we speak of the works, it is not amiss to begin with the lets.

The first is Security: When the soul is taken up with a secure course, and rests it self well apaid in his own practises, and there­fore it never seeth any need of a change, nor ever goes out for a change: Now while a man lives thus, and blesseth himself in his sin, it is impossible that ever he should receive faith, or by the power of faith repair unto Christ: where faith comes, it ever works a change, Old things are done away, and then all things are become new; the Lord therefore to remove this let, he burthens the soul extremely, and says, You will live in drunkenness, in co­vetousness; you will have your sins, then take your sins, and get you down to hell with them. At this voyce the Sinner begins to see where he is: Is this true? (saith he) then I am the most mi­serable creature under heaven; therefore as they said, Men and Acts 2. 37. brethren, what shall we do? We have been thus and thus, but if we rest here, it will be our ruine for ever, O what shall we do? So the soul comes to a restless dislike of it self, and saith, I must either be otherwise, or else I am but a damned man for ever.

2. When the soul is thus resolved that it must of necessity change, when it seeth his wound and his sin ready before him to condemn him, and it hath (as it were) a little peep-hole into hell; the soul in this distress sends over to Prayer, and Hearing, and holy services, and thinks by his wits and Duties, or some such like matters, to succor it self; and it begins to say, My hearing and my prayer, will not these save me? Thus the soul in conclu­sion rests on Duties: I will not say but these Duties are all good, honorable and comfortable, yet they are not Gods, but the Or­dinances of God. It is the nature of a sinful heart, to make the means, as meritorious to Salvation: A man that seeth his Drun­kenness and his base contempt of God, O then he voweth and promiseth to take up a new course, and he begins to approve himself in reformation of his ways, then he cryes, Now I will have no more drunkenness, now no more scoffing and scorning at those that go to hear the Word: and then he thinks, What can I do [Page 18] more? to heaven I must go. All this is but a mans self: Why so? Christ (who is the Substance of all) and the pith of a Promise is forgotten; a Christ in hearing, a Christ in praying is not regarded, and therefore the poor soul famisheth with hun­ger. Mistake not, I pray you, these Duties must be had and used, but still a man must not stay here: Prayer saith, There is no Sal­vation in me; and the Sacraments and Fasting say, There is no Salvation in us: all these are subservient helps, no absolute causes of Salvation. A man will use his bucket, but he expects water from the well; these Means are the buckets, but all our com­fort, and all our life and grace is onely in Christ: if you say, your bucket shall help you, you may starve for Christ, if you let it not down into the well for water: So though you boast of Praying, and Hearing, and Fasting, and of your Alms, and building of Hospitals, and of your good deeds, if none of these bring you to a Christ, or settle you on a Christ, you shall dye for Christ, though your works were as the works of an Angel. As it is with a graft therefore, first it must be cut off from the old stock; secondly, it must be pared, and made fit for implantation into another: so the soul by Contrition being cut off from sin, then Humiliation pares it (pares away all a mans priviledges) and makes it fit for the ingraffing into Christ Jesus. Thus much of the lets, and of the works of Contrition and Humiliation in general.

SECT. 2. A sight of Sin.

BUt for a further discovery of these two necessary things, we shall now enter into particulars, and begin first with Contrition; which contains these steps:

  • A sight of sin.
  • Sense of Divine wrath.
  • Sorrow for sin.

The first step is A sight of sin; and sin must be seen

  • Clearly.
  • Convictingly.

First, Clearly: It is not a general sight, and confused sight of [Page 19] Sin that will serve the turn; it is not enough to say, It is my in­firmity, and I cannot amend it, we are all sinners: no, this is the ground why we mistake our evils, and reform not our ways; a man must search narrowly, and prove his ways, as the Gold­smith doth his gold in the fire: I considered my ways, (saith Da­vid) Psa. 119. 50. and turned my feet unto thy testimonies; in the Original, I turned my sins upside down, he looked all over his ways. And this clear sight of Sin appears in two particulars:

1. A man must see his Sin nakedly in its own proper colours, we must not look on Sin through the Mediums of profits, and pleasures, and contentments of this world, for so we mistake Sin: but the soul of a true Christian that would see Sin clearly, he must strip it of all content and quiet that ever the heart re­ceived in it; as the Adulterer must not look upon Sin in regard of the sweetness of it, nor the Covetous man on his Sin in re­gard of the profit of it: you that are such, the time will come when you must dye, and then consider what good these sinful courses will do you: How will you judge of Sin then, when it shall leave a blot on your Souls, and a guilt on your Con­sciences?

2. A man must look on Sin in the venom of it; and that you may do partly, if you compare it with other things, and partly, if you look at it in regard of it self. 1. Compare Sin with those things that are most fearful and horrible; as suppose any soul here present were to behold the damned in Hell, if the Lord should give any one of you a little peep-hole into Hell, that you saw the horror of the damned, then propound this to your heart, What are those pains which the damned endure, and your heart will shake and quake at it; yet the least Sin that ever you did commit, is a greater evil (in its own nature) then the greatest pains of the damned in Hell. 2. Look at Sin sim­ply as it is in it self, what is it, but a profest opposing of God himself? A sinful creature joyns side with the Devil, and comes in battel Array against the Lord, and flies in the face of the Lord God of Hosts. I pray you in cold blood consider this, and say, Good Lord, what a sinful wretch am I? that a poor damned wretch of the earth, should stand in defiance against God! that I should submit my self to the Devil, and oppose the Lord God of Hosts!

[Page 20] Secondly, Convictingly, that Sin may be so to us, as it is in it self; and that discovers it self in these two particulars:

1. When we have a particular apprehension in our own per­son, that whatsoever Sin is in general, we confess it the same in our own souls: It is the cursed distemper of our hearts, how­soever we hold the Truth in general, yet when we come to our own Sins, to deny the particulars. The Adulterer confesseth the danger and filthiness of that Sin in gross, but he will not apply it to himself: The Rule therefore is, Arrest thy soul (whoso­ever thou art) of those sins particularly whereof thou standest guilty; To this purpose, say, Is Murther, and Pride, and Drun­kenness, and Ʋncleanness such horrible sins? O Lord, it was my Heart that was proud, and vain; it was my Tongue that did speak filthily, and blasphemously; my Hand that wrought wickedness; my Eye that was wanton, and my Heart that was unclean and filthy; Lord, here they are: Thus bring thy Heart before God.

2. When the soul sits down with the audience of Truth, and seeks no shift to oppose Truth revealed: when the Lord comes to make racks in the hearts of such as he means to do good to, the Text saith, He will reprove the world of sin; that is, He will Iohn 16. 8. convince the world of wickedness: he will set the soul in such a stand, that it shall have nothing to say for it self, he cannot shift it off. The Minister saith, God hates such and such a sinner; And the Lord hates me too (saith the soul) for I am guilty of that sin. Thus many time, when a sinner comes into the Congrega­tion (if the Lord please to work on him) the minde is illightned, and the Minister meets with his corruptions, as if he were in his bosom, and he answers all his cavils, and takes away all his ob­jections: with that the soul begins to be in a maze, and saith, If this be so (as it is for ought I know) and if all be true that the Minister saith, then the Lord be merciful unto my soul, I am the most miserable sinner that ever was born.

You that know not your sins, that you may see them Con­victingly, Ʋse of Advice. get you home to the Law, and look into the glass thereof, and then bundle up all your sins thus: So many sins against God himself in the first Commandment, against his Wor­ship in the second, against his Name in the third, against his Sab­bath in the fourth: Nay, all our Thoughts, Words and Actions, all of them have been sins, able to sink our souls to the bottom of [Page 21] Hell. And secondly, that you may see them clearly, consider of their effect, both in their Doom, and in the Execution: Onely to instance in their Doom; Me thinks I see the Lord of heaven and earth, and the Attributes of God appearing before him, The Mercy of God, the Goodness of God, and the Wisdom of God, the Power of God, the Patience and Long-suffering of God, and they come all to a sinner, an hypocrite, or to a carnal pro­fessor, and say, Mercy hath relieved you, Goodness hath succor­ed you, Wisdom hath instructed you, Power hath defended you, Patience hath born with you, Long-suffering hath indured you; now all these comfortable Attributes will bid you adieu, and say, Farewel damned souls, you must go hence to Hell, to have your fellowship with damned ghosts: Mercy shall never more relieve you, Goodness shall never more succor you, Wisdom shall no more instruct you, Power shall never more defend you, Patience shall never more bear with you, Long-suffering shall never more indure you: and then shall you to endless, easeless and remedi­less torments, where you will ever remember your sins, and say, My Covetousness and Pride was the cause of this, I may thank my sins for this. Think of these things (I beseech you) seriously, and see your sins here, to prevent this sight hereafter.

SECT. 3. Sense of Divine Wrath.

THe sinner by this time having his eyes so far opened, that he beholds his Sins; he begins then to consider, That God hath him in chase: And this sense of Divine Wrath discovers it self in these two particulars:

  • 1. It works a fear of some evil to come.
  • 2. It possesseth the soul with a feeling of this evil.

First, the soul considers, That the punishment which God hath threatned shall be executed on him sooner or later: he cryes therefore, What if God should damn me? God may do it: And what if God should execute his vengeance upon me? Thus the soul fears, that the evil discovered will fall upon him: This is the reason of those phrases of Scripture, We have not received Rom. 8. 15. [Page 22] the spirit of bondage to fear again; the Spirit shews our bondage, and thence comes this fear: Again, God hath not given us the spirit 1 Tim. 1. 17. of fear; that is, the spirit of bondage that works fear. It is with a soul in this fear, as it was with Belshazzar, when he com­manded the Cups to be brought out of the House of the Lord; An hand-writing came against him on the wall, and when he saw it, his thoughts troubled him, and his face began Dan 5. 6. to gather paleness, and his knees knocked against one another; as if he should say, Surely there is some strange evil appointed for me; and with that his heart began to tremble and shake: just so it is with this fear, he that runs ryot in the way of wic­kedness, and thinks to despise Gods Spirit, and to hate the Lord Almighty, and to resist the work of his Grace: now it may be there comes this fear and hand-writing against him, and then he cryes, These are my sins, and these are the Plagues and Judge­ments threatned against them, and therefore why may not I be damned? why may not I be plagued?

Secondly, the Lord pursues the soul, and discharges that evil upon him which was formerly feared; and now his Conscience is all on a flame, and he saith to himself, O I have sinned, and of­fended a just God, and therefore I must be damned, and to Hell I must go: Now the soul shakes, and is driven beyond it self, and would utterly faint, but that the Lord upholds it with one hand, as he beats it down with the other; he thinks every thing is against him, he thinks the fire burns to consume him, and that the ayr will poyson him, and that Hell-mouth gapes under him, and that Gods wrath hangs over him, and if now the Lord should but take away his life, that he should tumble down headlong into the bottomless Hell: Should any man, or Minister, per­swade the soul in this case to go to Heaven for Mercy, it replies in this maner, Shall I repair to God? O that's my trouble! Is not he that great God, whose Justice, and Mercy, and Patience I have abused? And is not he the great God of Heaven and Earth, that hath been incensed against me? Oh, with what a face can I appear before him, and with what heart can I look for any mercy from him? I have wronged his Justice, and can his Justice pardon me? I have abused his Mercy, and can his Mercy pity me? What, such a wretch as I am? If I had never enjoyed the means of mercy, I might have had some plea for my self, but Oh, I have refused [Page 23] that mercy, and have trampled the Blood of Christ under my feet, and can I look for any mercy? No, no, I see the wrath of the Lord incensed against me, and that's all I look for.

SECT. 4. Sorrow for Sin.

THe next step is Sorrow for Sin; concerning which, are two questions: 1. Whether it be a work of saving grace? 2. Whether God work it in all alike?

To the first, I answer, There is a double Sorrow, one in Prepa­ration, the other in Sanctification: They differ thus; Sorrow in Preparation, is when the word of God leaves an impression upon the heart of a man, so that the heart of it self is as it were a Patient, and onely bears the blow of the Spirit; and hence come all those phrases of Scripture, as wounded, pierced, pricked, in the passive voyce: So that this Sorrow is rather a Sorrow wrought on me, then any work coming from any Spiritual ability in me: But Sorrow in Sanctification flows from a Spi­ritual principle of Grace, and from that power which the heart hath formerly received from Gods Spirit; so that in this a man is a free worker: Now both these are saving Sorrows, but they differ marvellously; many think, that every saving work, is a sanctifying work, which is false, Those whom he calleth (saith the Rom 8. 30. Apostle) them he also justifies, and whom he justifies, he glorifies: You may observe, That Glorification in this place implyes Sancti­fication here, and glory hereafter; now before Glorification, you see there is Justification and Vocation, and both these are saving.

To the second, I answer, Howsoever this work is the same in all for substance, yet in a different maner it is wrought in most: Two men are pricked, the one with a pin, the other with a spear; two men are cut, the one with a pen-knife, the other with a sword: so the Lord deals kindely and gently with one soul, and roughly with another: There is the melting of a thing, and the breaking of it with hammers; so there is a difference in persons: for instance, if the person be a scandalous liver, and an opposer of God and his Grace: Secondly, if a man have [Page 24] harbored a filthy heart, and continues long in Sin. Thirdly, if a man have been confident in a formal civil course. Fourthly, if God purpose by some man to do some extraordinary great work: In all these four cases he lays an heavy blow on the heart, the Lord will bruise them, and rend the kall of their hearts, and make them seek to a faithful Minister for direction, and to a poor Christian for counsel, whom before they despised. But if the soul be trained up among godly Parents, and live under a soul­saving Ministery, the Lord may reform this man, and cut him off from his corruptions kindely, and break his heart secretly, in the apprehension of his Sins, and yet the world never see it. In both these we have an example in Lydia and the Jaylor: Ly­dia was a sinful woman, and God opened her eyes, and melted her heart kindely, and brought her to a taste of his goodness here, and glory hereafter: But the Jaylor was an outragious, rebellious wretch, for when the Apostles were committed to prison, he laid them up in stocks, and whipped them sore; now there was much work to bring this man home: when the Apo­stles were singing Psalms, there came an Earthquake, which made the prison doors flie open, and the prisoners fetters to fall off, but yet the Jaylors heart would not shake: at last the Lord did shake his heart too, and he came trembling, and was ready to lay violent hands upon himself, because he thought the prisoners had been fled; but the Apostles cryed to him, Do thy self no Acts 16. 30. harm, for we are all here: with that he fell down before them, and said, Men and brethren, what shall I do to be saved? For Conclusion, give me a Christian that God doth please to work upon in this extraordinary maner, and to break his heart soundly, and to throw him down to purpose, though it cost him full dear, this man walks ordinarily with more care and conscience, and hath more comfort coming to himself, and gives more glory unto God.

Is it so, that the soul of a man is thus pierced to the quick, and Ʋse 1. of Instruction run through by the wrath of the Almighty? then let this teach all how to carry themselves towards such as God hath thus dealt withal: Are they pierced men? O pity them! let our souls, O let the bowels of commiseration and compassion be let out to­wards them! let us never cease to do good to them, to the very uttermost of our powers! And to the performance of this, [Page 25] Reason and Religion, and pity (me-thinks) should move us: Hear the cry, Oh (saith the poor soul) will these and these sins never be pardoned? Will this proud heart never be humbled? Thus the soul sighs and mourns, and says, O Lord, I see this sin, and feel the burthen of it, and yet I have not an heart to be humbled for it, nor to be freed from it: O when will it once be? Did you but know this, it would make your hearts bleed to hear him: Oh! the sword of the Almighty hath pierced through his heart, and he is breathing out his sorrow, as though he were going down to hell, and he saith, If there be any mercy, any love, any fellowship of the Spirit, have mercy upon me a poor creature, that am under the burthen of the Almighty! O pray, and pity these wounds and vexations of Spirit, which no man findes nor feels, but he that hath been thus wounded. It is a sign of a soul wholly de­voted to destruction, that hath a desperate disdain against poor wounded creatures: Is it possible there should harbor such a Spirit in any man? if the Devil himself were incarnate, I can­not conceive what he could do worse.

2. If ever thou wouldst be comforted, and receive mercy from God, labor never to be quiet, till thou dost bring thy heart Ʋse 2. of Exhorta­tion. to a right pitch of sorrow; thou hast a little slight sorrow, but Oh! labor to have thy heart truly touched, that at last it may break in regard of thy many distempers; remember, the longer seed-time, the greater harvest: Blessed are they that mourn, for Mat. 5. 4. Amos 6. 1. they shall be comforted; but wo to you that are at ease in Zion: Thou hadst better now be wounded, then everlastingly torment­ed; and therefore if thou desirest to see Gods face with com­fort, if thou wouldst hear Christ say, Come, thou poor heavy­hearted sinner, I will ease thee, Labor to lay load on thy heart, with sorrow for thy sin; O what a comfort shall a poor bro­ken heart finde in that day!

SECT. 5. The extent of this Sorrow.

HItherto of Contrition; the next work is Humiliation, which differs from the other, not in substance, but circum­stance: [Page 26] For Humiliation (as I take it) is onely the extent of Sorrow for Sin, of which we have spoken; and it contains these two Duties:

  • 1. Submission,
  • 2. Contentedness,

to be at the Lords disposal.

The first part of Humiliation, is Submission, which is wrought thus: The sinner having now had a Sight of his Sins, and a Sor­row in some measure for Sin, he seeks far and wide, improves all means, and takes up all Duties, that (if it were possible) he might heal his wounded soul: Thus seeking, and seeking, but finding no succor in what he hath or doth, he is forced at last (in his despair­ing condition) to make tryal of the Lord: It is true, for the present he apprehends God to be just, and to be incensed against him, he hath no experience of Gods favor for the while no cer­tainty how he shall speed, if he go to the Lord; yet because he sees he cannot be worse then he is, and that none can help him but God, if it would please him: therefore he falls at the footstool of Mercy, and he lies grovelling at the gate of Grace, and sub­mits himself to the Lord, to do with him as pleaseth himself, or as it seemeth good in his eyes.

This was the Ninevites case, when Jonah had denounced that heavy Judgement, and (as it were) thrown wilde fire about the streets, saying, Within forty days Niniveh shall be destroyed: See what they resolved upon, They fasted, and prayed, and put on Ionah 3. 9. sackcloth and ashes; who can tell (said they) but God may turn, and repent him of his fierce wrath, that we perish not? as if they had said, We know not what God will do, but this we know, that we cannot oppose his Judgements, nor succor our selves: Thus it is with a sinner, when he seeth hell fire to flash in his face, and that he cannot succor himself, then he saith, This I know, that all the means in the world cannot save me, yet who can tell, but the Lord may have mercy on me, and cure his tdistressed Con­science, and heal all these wounds that sin hath made in my soul? This is the lively picture of the soul in this case.

Or for a further light, this Subjection discovers it self in four particulars:

First, he seeth and confesseth that the Lord (for ought he knows) will proceed in Justice against him, and execute upon him those Plagues that God hath threatned, and his Sins have de­served; [Page 27] he seeth that Justice is not yet satisfied, and those rec­konings between God and him are not yet made up, and there­fore he cannot apprehend, but that God will take vengeance on him: What else? when he hath done all he can, he is unprofit­able still; Justice remains unsatisfied, and saith, Thou hast sinned, and I am wronged, and therefore thou shalt dye.

Secondly, he conceives, that what God will do, that he will do, and he cannot avoid it; if the Lord will come, and require the glory of his Justice against him, there is no way to avoid it, nor to bear it: and this crusheth the heart, and makes the soul to be beyond all shifts and evasions, whereby it may seem to avoid the dint of the Lords blow.

Thirdly, he casts away his weapons, and falls down before the Lord, and resigns himself into the soveraign power and com­mand of God. Thus David, when the Lord cast him out of his Kingdom, he said to Zadock, Carry back the Ark of God into the City, if I shall finde favor in the eyes of the Lord, he 2 Sam. 15. 25, 26. will bring me back again, and shew me both it and his Habitation: But if he thus say to me, I have no delight in thee; behold, here I am, let him do with me as seemeth good in his eyes. This is the frame of a poor soul; when a poor sinner will stand upon his priviledges, the Lord saith, Bear my Justice, and defend thy self by all thou hast or canst do: and the soul answereth, I am thy Ser­vant, Lord, do what is good in thine eyes, I cannot succor my self.

Fourthly, the soul freely acknowledgeth, That it is in Gods power to do with him, and dispose of him as he will; and there­fore he lies and licks the dust, and cryes, Mercy, mercy, Lord: he thinks not to purchase Mercy at the Lords hands, but onely saith, It is in Gods good pleasure to do with him as he will, onely he looks for favor, and cryes, Mercy, Lord, mercy to this poor di­stressed soul of mine: O (replies the Lord) dost thou need mer­cy? Cannot thy Hearing, and Praying, and Fasting, carry thee to heaven without hazard? Gird up now thy loyns, and make thy ferventest Prayers, and let them meet my Justice, and see if they can bear my Wrath, or purchase any Mercy: No, no (saith the sinner) I know it by lamentable experience, that all my prayers and performances will never procure peace to my soul. nor give my satisfaction to thy Justice, I onely pray for Mercy, and I de­sire [Page 28] onely to hear some News of Mercy, to relieve this miserable wretched soul of mine; it is onely Mercy that must help me, O Mercy (if it be possible) to this poor distressed soul of mine▪ Me thinks the picture of those poor famished Lepers, may [...]itly re­semble this poor sinner, when the Famine was great in Samaria; There were four leprous men sate in the gate of the City, and they said, Why sit we here until we dye? if we enter into the 2 King. 7. 3, 4 City, the famine is there, and if we sit here, we dye also; now therefore let us fall into the hands of our enemies, and if they save us alive, we shall live, and if they kill us, we shall but dye: They had but one means to succor themselves withal, and that was to go into the Camp of the enemies, and there, as it hap­ned, they were relieved. Thus is the lively picture of a poor sinner in this despairing condition, when he seeth the wrath of God pursuing him, and that the Lord hath beset him on every side; at last he resolves thus with himself, If I go and rest on my priviledges, there is nothing but emptiness; and if I rest in my natural condition, I perish there also: let me therefore fall into the hands of the Lord of Hosts. I confess he hath been provoked by me, and for ought I see he is mine enemy; I am now a damned man, and if the Lord cast me out of his presence, I can be but damned. And then he comes to the Lord, and he falls down before the footstool of a consuming God, and saith, as Job did, What shall I say unto thee, O thou Preserver of men? I have no reason to plead for my self, and I have no power to succor my self, my accusations are my best excuse, all the priviledges in the world cannot justific me, and all my Duties cannot save me; if there be any mercy left, O succor a poor distressed sinner in the very gall of bitterness. This is the behavior of the soul in this work of Subjection.

The second part of Humiliation, is, Contentedness to be at the Lords disposal; and this point is of an higher pitch then the former: For example, Take a debtor who hath used all means to avoid the creditor, in the end he seeth he cannot avoid the Suit, and to bear it he is not able, therefore the onely way is to come in, and to yield himself into his creditors hands; but suppose the creditor should exact the utmost, and throw him into pri­son, to be content now to undergo the hardest dealing, it is an hard matter, and a further degree. So when the soul hath [Page 29] offered himself, and he seeth that Gods Writs are out against him, and he is not able (whensoever the Judgement comes) to avoid it, nor to bear it, therefore he submits himself, and saith, Lord, whether shall I go? thy anger is heavy and unavoidable; nay, whatsoever God requires, the soul lays his hand on his mouth, and goes away contented, and well satisfied, and hath nothing at all to say against the Lord. This is the nature of Contentedness.

Or for a further light, this Contentedness discovers it self in these three following particulars:

First, the Soul reflects on Gods Mercy, which though he begg'd when he submitted, yet now he seeth so much corruption and unworthiness in himself, that he acknowledgeth himself unfit for Mercy: O Mercy, mercy Lord! What (saith the Lord) I had thought your own Duties would have purchased mercy: O no (saith the Soul) it is onely Mercy that must relieve, and succor me; but such is my vileness, that I am not fit for the least mercy and favor; and such is the wickedness of this wretched heart of mine, that whatsoever are the greatest plagues, I am worthy of them all, though never so insupportable: All the Judgements that God hath threatned, and prepared for the Devil and his Angels, they are all due to my wretched soul. O (saith the Soul) had the Devils the like hopes, and means, and patience that I have enjoyed, for ought I know they would have been better then I am: It is that which shames the Soul in all his sorrows, and makes him say, Had they the like Mercy? O those sweet Comforts, and those pre­cious Promises that I have had! How many heavy journeys hath the Lord Jesus made to me? How often hath he knock'd at my heart, and said, Come to me, ye rebellious children; turn ye, turn ye, why will ye dye? O that Mercy that hath followed me from my house to my walk, and from thence to my closet; here Mercy hath conferred with me, and there Mercy hath wooed me; yea, in my night-thoughts when I awaked, Mercy kneeled down be­fore me, and besought me to renounce my bad courses, yet I re­fused Mercy, and would needs have mine own will; had the De­vil but such hopes, and such offers of Mercy, they that tremble now for want of Mercy, they would (for ought I know) have given entertainment to it; and what, do I seek for Mercy? shall I talk of Mercy? What, I Mercy? the least of Gods Mercies are [Page 30] too good for me, and the heaviest of Gods Plagues are too little for me; I suppose (for so is my opinion) that God cannot do more against me then I have justly deserved, but be sure, God will not lay more upon me then I am justly worthy of: Nay, sure it is, the Soul cannot bear nor suffer so much as he hath deserved, if God should proceed in rigor with him; therefore it reasons thus: I onely for one sin deserve eternal condemnation, for the wages of all sin is death, being committed against Divine Justice, and against an Infinite Majesty; and then what do all these my sins deserve, committed and continued in, against all checks of Conscience, and Corrections, and the light of Gods Word? Hell is too good, and ten thousand hells too little to torment such a wretch as I am: What, I mercy? I am ashamed to expect it; With what heart (I pray you) can I beg this Mercy, which I have trodden under my feet? The Lord hath often wooed me, and when his wounds were bleed­ing, and his side gored, and his hideous cryes coming into mine ears, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? then, even then this Christ have I slighted, and made nothing of his Blood; and can this blood of Christ do me now any service? Indeed I crave grace, but how do I think to receive any? All the Pillars of the Church can testifie, how often Grace and Mercy have been offered and offered, but I have ever refused; How then can I beg any grace? O this stubbornness and villany, and this wretched­ness of mine! What, I mercy? it is more then I can expect, I am not worthy of any; Oh no, I am onely worthy to be cast out for ever.

Secondly, the Soul reflects on Justice, and now it acknow­ledgeth the Equity of Gods dealings, be they never so harsh; he confesseth that he is as clay in the hands of the Potter, and the Lord may deal with him as he will: yea, the Soul is driven to an amazement at the Lords patience, and that he hath been pleased to reprieve him so long, that God hath not cast him out of his presence, and sent him down to hell long ago: It is the frame of the Spirit which the poor lamenting Church had, It is the Lords mercy that we are not confounded, because his compassions Lam. 3. 22. fail not. When the Lord hath humbled the heart of a Drunkard or Adulterer, he begins thus to think with himself, The Lord saw all the evils I committed; and what then? O then the Soul ad­mires that ever Gods Justice was able to bear with such a mon­ster, [Page 31] and that God did not confound him in his drunkenness or burning lusts, and cast him down into hell. Oh (saith he) it is because his mercies fail not, that my life and all have not failed long ago. Hence it is that the Soul will not maintain any kinde of murmuring, or heart-rising against the Lords dealings; or if Nature and Corruption will be striving sometimes, and say, Why are not my prayers answered? I know such a soul humbled, and I see such a foul comforted, and why not I as well as he? then the Soul stifles, and crusheth, and choaks these wretched distem­pers, and doth also abase it self before the Lord, saying, What if God will not hear my prayers? What if God will not pacifie my Conscience, doth the Lord do me any wrong? Vile Hell-hound that I am, I have my sin and my shame; Wrath is my portion, and Hell is my place, thither may I go when I will, it is mercy that God thus deals with me. And now the Soul clears God in his Justice, and saith, It is just with God that all the prayers which comes from this filthy heart of mine, should be abhorred, and that all my labors in holy Duties should never be blessed; It is I that have sinned against checks of Conscience, against Knowledge, against Heaven, and therefore it is just that I should carry this horror of heart with me to the Grave; it is I that have abused Mercy, and therefore it is just that I should go with a tormenting Conscience down into hell: And O that (if I be in hell) I might have a spirit to glorifie and justifie thy Name there; and say, Now I am come down to hell amongst you damned creatures, but the Lord is righteous and bles­sed for ever in all his doings and dealings, and I am justly con­demned.

Thirdly, hence the Soul comes to be quiet and frameable un­der the heavy hand of God in that helpless condition wherein he is, it takes the blow, and lies under the burthen, and goes away quietly and patiently: O this is an heart worth gold! O (saith he) it is fit that God should glorifie himself, though I be damned for ever, for I deserve the worst: Whatsoever I have, it is the re­ward of my own works, and the end of my own ways: if I be damned, I may thank my pride, and my stubbornness, and my pee­vishness of spirit: What, shall I repine against the Lord, because his wrath and his displeasure lies heavy upon me? Oh no! let me repine against my sin, the cause of all; let me grudge against my base heart that hath nourished these Adders in my bosom, but let [Page 32] me bless the Lord, and not speak one word against him. Thus David, I held my tongue (saith he) and spake nothing, because Psal 39. 9. thou Lord hast done it: So the Soul, when the Sentence of con­demnation is even seizing upon him, and God seems to cast him out of his favor, then he cryes, I confess God is just, and therefore I bless his Name, and yield unto him; but sin, sin is the worker of all this misery on me. Jeremiah pleading the case of the Church, now going to Captivity, Wo is me for my hurt (saith Ier. 10. 19. he) my wound is grievous; but I said, Truly this is my grief, and I must bear it. Such is the frame of an heart truly humbled, it is content to take all to it self, and so to be quiet, saying, This is my wound, and I must bear it; this is my sorrow, and I will suffer it. Thus you see what is the behavior of the Soul in this Contentedness to be at the Lords disposal.

Object. But some may object, Must the soul, or ought the soul to be thus content to be left in this damnable condition?

Ans. For answer, This Contentedness implyes two things: First, a carnal security, and a regardlesness of a mans estate, and and this is a most cursed sin. Secondly, a calmness of Soul, not murmuring against the Lords dispensation towards him; and this Contentedness is ever accompanyed with the Sight of a mans sin, and Suing for Mercy: It ever improves all means and helps that may bring him nearer to God; but if Mercy shall deny it, the Soul is satisfied, and rests well apaid. And this, Contented­ness (opposed against quarrelling with the Almighty) every humbled Soul doth attain to, although in every one it is not so plainly seen. To give it in a Comparison: A Thief taken for Robbery, on whom the Sentence of Death hath passed, he should not neglect the means to get a Pardon; and yet if he cannot procure it, he must not murmure against the Judge for condemn­ing him to death, because he hath done nothing but Law: So we should not be careless in using all means for our good, but still seek to God for Mercy: yet thus we must be, and thus we ought to be contented with whatsoever Mercy shall deny, because we are not worthy of any favor. The Soul in a depth of Humiliation, it first stoops to the condition that the Lord will appoint, he dares not fly away from God, nor repine against the Lord, but he lies down meekly. 2. As he is content with the hardest mea­sure, so he is content with the longest time, he will stay for mercy [Page 33] be it never so long: I will wait upon the Lord (saith Isaiah) that hath hid his face from Jacob; and I will look for him: so the humbled sinner, Although the Lord hide his face, and turn away his loving countenance from me, yet I will look towards Heaven, so long as I have an eye to see, and a hand to lift up; the Lord may take his own time, it is maners for me to wait: nay, the poor broken heart resolves thus, If I lie and lick, the dust all my days, and cry for mercy all my life long, if my last words might be Mer­cy, mercy, it were well I might get mercy at my last gasp. Third­ly, as he is content to stay the longest time, so is he content with the least pittance of mercy; Let my condition be never so hard (saith the soul) do Lord what thou wilt for me, let the fire of thy wrath consume me here, onely recover me hereafter; if I finde mercy at the last I am content, and whatsoever thou givest I bless thy name for it; he quarrels not, saying, Why are not my graces increased, and why am I not thus and thus comforted? No, he looks for mercy, and if he have but a crum of mercy he is com­forted and quieted for ever: And now (you may suppose) the heart is brought very low.

Hence we collect, 1. That they which have the greatest parts, Ʋse 1. of Instructi­on. and gifts, and ability, and honor, are (for the most part) hard­ly brought home to the Lord Jesus Christ; they that are most hardly humbled, are most hardly converted: what is Humilia­tion, but the emptying of the soul from whatsoever makes it swell? the heart must not joy in any thing, nor rest upon any thing, but onely yield to the Lord, to be at his disposing and carving: now these parts, and gifts, and abilities, and means, are great props and pillars for the heart of a carnal man to rest upon, and to quiet it self withal; whence the Apostle, Not many wise men af­ter 1 Cor. 1. 26. the flesh, not many mighty men, not many noble men are called: Indeed (blessed be God) some are, but not many, few (that have so much of themselves) are brought to renounce themselves; and no wonder for a rich man to become poor, and a noble man to be abased, and a wife man to be nothing in himself, this will cost hot water; and yet this must be in all that belong to the Lord: not that God will take away all these outward things and parts, but that they must loosen their affection from these, if they will have Christ.

2. That an humble heart makes all a mans life quiet, and [Page 34] marvellously sweetneth whatsoever estate he is in; indeed some­times he may be tossed and troubled, yet he is not distracted, be­cause he is contented; as it is with a Ship on the Sea, when the billows begin to roar, and the waves are violent, if the Anchor be fastened deep, it stays the Ship: so this work of Humiliation is the Anchor of the soul, and the deeper it is fastened, the more quiet is the heart: when Job in time of his extremity gave way to his proud heart, he quarrell'd with the Almighty, his friends, and all; but when the Lord had humbled him, then, Behold, I am vile, and base; once have I spoken, yea twice, but now no more. Iob 40. 4.

And this Humiliation quiets a man both in

  • Fiercest Temptations.
  • Heaviest Oppositions.

1. In fiercest Temptations; when Satan begins to besiege the heart of a poor sinner, and lays battery against him, see how the humbled heart runs him out of breath at his own weapons: Dost thou think (says Satan) to get mercy from the Lord, when thy own conscience dogs thee? nay, go to the place where thou livest, & to the chamber where thou liest, and consider thy fearful abominations, sure God will not respect the prayers of any such vile sinners. True (saith the poor soul) I have often denyed the Lord when he called upon me, and therefore he may justly deny me all the prayers I make; yet thus he hath commanded, that seek to him for mercy I must, and if the Lord will cast me away, and re­ject my prayers, I am contented therewith; What then Satan? What then, saith the Devil? I thought this would have made thee to dispair; but this is not all, for God will give thee over, and leave thee to thy self, to thy lusts and corruptions, and thy lat­ter end shall be worse then thy beginning; thou mayest call and cry, and when thou hast done be overthrown; God will leave thee to thy self, and suffer thy corruptions to prevail against thee, and thou shalt fall fearfully, to the wounding of thy con­science, to the grieving of Gods people, to the scandal of the Gospel, to the reproach of thy own person. To this answers the humbled soul, If the Lord will give me up to my base lusts, which I have given my self so much liberty in, and if the Lord will leave me to my sins, because I have left his gracious com­mands; and if I shall fall one day, and be disgraced and dishonored, yet let the Lord be honored, and let not God lose the praise of his [Page 35] Power and Justice, and I am contented therewith; what then Sa­tan? What then, saith the Devil? I sure thought now thou wouldst have despaired; but this is not all, for when God hath left thee to thy sins, then will he break out in vengeance against thee, and make thee an example of his heavy vengeance to all ages to come; and therefore it is best for thee to prevent this untimely Judgement by some untimely death. To this replies the Soul, Whatsoever God can do or will do, I know not, yet so great are my sins, that he cannot, or (at least) will not do so much against me as I have justly deserved: Come what will come, I am contented still to be at the Lords disposal; what then Satan? and thus he runs Satan out of breath.

The want of this Humiliation many times brings a man to desperate stands, and sometimes to untimely deaths: Alas, why will you not bear the wrath of the Lord? it is true indeed, your sins are great, and the wrath of God is heavy, yet God will do you good by it, and therefore be quiet. In time of war, when the great Canons fly off, the onely way to avoid them, is to lie down in a furrow, and so the bullets fly over: So in all Temptations of Satan, lie low, and be contented to be at Gods disposing, and all these fiery Temptations shall not be able to hurt you.

2. In heaviest oppositions: when Satan is gone, then come Troubles and Oppositions of the world, in all which Humiliation will quiet the Soul. A man is sometimes Sea-sick, not because of the Tempest, but because of his full stomack, and therefore when he hath emptied his stomack he is well again: So it is with his Humiliation of heart, if the heart were emptied truly, though a man were in a sea of oppositions, if he have no more trouble in his stomack, and in his proud heart, then in the oppositions of the world, he might be very well quieted. Cast disgrace upon the humble heart causlesly, and he cures it thus, He thinks worse of himself then any man else can do, and if they would make him vile and loathsom, he is more vile in his own eyes then they can make him: O that I could bring your hearts to be in love with this blessed grace of God!

Is there any Soul here that hath been vexed with the Tempta­tions of Satan, oppositions of men, or with his own distempers? and would he now arm and fence himself, that nothing should [Page 36] disquiet him, or trouble him, but in all, to be above all, and to rejoyce in all? O then be humbled, and then be above all the Devils in hell: Certainly they shall not so disquiet you, as to cause you to be misled, or uncomforted, if you would but be humbled.

What remains then? Be exhorted (as you desire mercy and favor at Gods hands) to this Humiliation. And for Motives, Ʋse 2. of Exhortation. consider the good things that God hath promised, and which he will bestow upon all that are truly humbled: I shall reduce all to these three following Benefits:

First, by Humiliation we are made capable of all those trea­sures 1 Motive. of Wisdom, Grace and Mercy that are in Christ.

Secondly, Humiliation gives a man the comfort of all that 2 Motive. good in Christ: Many have a right to Christ, and are dear to God, yet they want much sweet refreshing, because they want this Humiliation in some measure. To be truly humbled, is the next way to be truly comforted: The Lord will look to him that Isa 62. 8. hath an humble contrite heart, and trembles at his word: The Lord will not onely know him (he knows the wicked too in a general maner) but he will give him such a gracious look, as shall make his heart dance in his breast. Thou poor humbled Soul, the Lord will give thee a glimpse of his favor, when thou art tired in thy trouble; when thou lookest up to heaven, the Lord will look down upon thee, and will refresh thee with Mer­cy; God hath prepared a sweet morfel for his childe, he will re­vive the humble: O be humbled then, every one of you, and the Lord Jesus, who comes with healing under his wings, will com­fort you, and you shall see the Salvation of our God.

Thirdly, Humiliation ushers glory. Whosoever humbles him­self as a little childe; shall be greatest in the kingdom of heaven; 3 Motive. Matth. 18 4. He shall be in the highest degree of grace here, and of glory hereafter: for as thy Humiliation, so shall be thy Faith, and San­ctification, and Obedience, and Glory.

And now (me-thinks) your hearts begin to stir, and say, Hath the Lord engaged himself to this? O then (Lord) make me hum­ble. Now the Lord make me, and thee, and all of us humble, that we may have this mercy. See how Everlasting happiness and blessedness looks and waits for every humbled Soul; Come (saith Happiness) thou that hast been vile, and base, and mean in [Page 37] thy own eyes; Come, and be greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Brethren, though I cannot prevail with your hearts, yet let Hap­piness, that kneels down, and prays you to take mercy; let that (I say) prevail with you: If any man be so regardless of his own good, I have something to say to him, that may make his heart shake within him. But Oh!—Who would not have the Lord Jesus to dwell with him? who would not have the Lord Christ, by the glory of his Grace, to honor and refresh him? Me thinks your hearts should yearn for it, and say, O Lord break my heart, and humble me, that Mercy may be my portion for ever; nay, me thinks every man should say as St. Paul did, I would to God that not onely I, but all my children and servants were not onely thus as I am, but also (if it were Gods will) much more humbled, that they might be much more comforted and refreshed. Then might you say with comfort on your deaths-bed, Though I go away, and leave wife and children behinde me, poor and mean in the world, yet I leave Christ with them: when you are gone, this will be better for them, then all the beaten gold or honors in the world. What can I say? but since the Lord offers so kindely, now Kiss Psal. 2. 12. the Son, be humble, yield to all Gods Commands, take home all Truths, and be at Gods disposing: Let all the evil that is threat­ned, and all the good that is offered prevail with your hearts, or if means cannot, yet the Lord prevail with you; the Lord empty you, that Christ may fill you; the Lord humble you, that you may enjoy happiness and peace, and be lifted up to the highest pinacle of Glory, there to raign for ever and ever.

CHAP. V. The Call on Gods part, for the Soul to close with, and to relye on Christ.

HItherto of our first general, to wit, The Preparation of the Soul for Christ: The next is, The Implantation of the Soul into Christ; and that hath two parts:

  • 1. The putting of the Soul into Christ.
  • 2. The growing of the Soul with Christ.

As a graft is first put into the stock, and then it grows toge­ther [Page 38] with the stock: These two things are answerable in the Soul, and when it is brought into this, then a sinner comes to be partaker of all spiritual benefits.

The first part is, The putting in of the Soul: when the Soul is brought out of the world of sin, to lie upon, and to close with the Lord Jesus Christ; and this hath two particular passages:

  • The Call on Gods part.
  • The Answer on mans part.

The Call on Gods part is this, When the Lord by the Call of his Gospel, and work of his Spirit, doth so clearly reveal the fulness of Mercy, that the Soul humbled returns Answer.

In which observe the

  • Means
  • Cause

whereby God doth Call.

1. The Means is onely the Ministery of the Gospel; the sum whereof is this, That There is fulness of Mercy, and Grace, and Salvation brought unto us through the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence the phrase of Scripture calls this Gospel, or this mercy, A treasury; All the treasures of wisdom and holiness are in Christ: Col. 2. 3. not One treasure, but All treasures; not Some treasures, but All treasures: where the Gospel comes, there is joy for the sor­rowful, peace for the troubled, strength for the weak, relief sea­sonable Isa. 61. and suitable to all wants, miseries and necessities, both present and future.

If then sorrow assail thee (when thou art come thus far) look not on thy sins, to pore upon them; neither look into thy own Ʋse. sufficiency, to procure any good there. It is true, thou must see thy sins, and sorrow for them, but this is for the lower Form, and thou must get this lesson before-hand; and when thou hast got­ten this lesson of Contrition and Humiliation, look then onely to Gods Mercy, and the riches of his Grace in Christ.

2. For the Cause: The Lord doth not onely appoint the Means, but by the work of the Spirit, he doth bring all the riches of his grace into the soul truly humbled: if you ask, How? First, with strength of evidence; the Spirit presents to the bro­ken-hearted sinner, the right of the freeness of Gods grace to the soul: And secondly, the Spirit doth forcibly soak in the rellish of that grace, and by an over-piercing work, doth leave some dint of supernatural and spiritual vertue on the heart.

[Page 39] Now the word of the Gospel, and the work of the Spirit al­ways go together, not that God is tyed to any means, but that he tyeth himself to the means: Hence the Gospel is called, The power of God to Salvation, because the power of God ordinarily, Rom. 1. 16. and in common course appears therein: The waters of life and salvation run onely in the channel of the Gospel; there are golden mines of grace, but they are onely to be found in the Climates of the Gospel: nay, observe this, when all arguments prevail not with corruption, to perswade the heart to go to God, one Text of Scripture will stand a man in stead above all humane learning and inventions, because the Spirit goes forth in this and none else.

This may teach us the worth of the Gospel above all other Ʋse 1. of Information. things in the world, for it is accompanied with the Spirit, and brings salvation with it. What if a man had all the wealth and policy in the world, and wanted this? he were a fool: What if one were able to dive deep into the secrets of Nature, to know the motions of the Stars, to speak with the tongues of men and Angels, and yet know nothing belonging to his peace, what avails it? Why do we value a Mine, but because of the gold in it? or a Cabinet, but because of the Pearl in it? O this is that pearl we sell all for.

Wouldst thou know whether thou art carnal or spiritual? ob­serve Ʋse 2. of Examination. then, if thou hast the Spirit, it ever came with the Gospel: See then how the soul stands affected with the Gospel, and so it stands affected to the Spirit. Is it so (may every soul reason with it self) that I will not suffer the word to prevail with me? then shall I miss of the Spirit, then will Christ none of me. O re­member, the time will come when you must dye as well as your neighbors, and then you will say, Lord Jesus forgive my sins; Lord Jesus receive my soul: But Christ will answer, Away, be gone, you are none of mine, I know you not. Any man, whether noble or ignoble, let him be what he will be, if he hath not the Spirit he is none of Christs: His you are to whom you obey; but Pride and Covetousness you obey: Pride therefore will say, This Rom 6. 16. heart is mine, Lord, I have domineered over it, and I will torment it: Corruptions will say, We have owned this soul, and we will damn it. You therefore that have made a tush at the Word, This wind shakes no corn, and these words break no bones, little do [Page 40] you think that you have opposed the Spirit: What, resist the Spirit? me-thinks it is enough to sink any soul under heaven: Hereafter therefore think this with thy self, Were he but a man that speaks, yet would I not despise him; but that is not all, there goeth Gods Spirit with the Word, and shall I despise it? There is but one step between this and that unpardonable sin against the holy Ghost, onely adding Malice to my Rage: I oppose the Father, per­haps the Son mediates for me; I despise the Son, perhaps the holy Ghost pleads for me; but if I oppose the Spirit, none can succor me.

CHAP. VI.

SECT. 1. The Answer on mans part for the Soul to close with, and to relye on Christ.

HItherto of the Call on Gods part; now we are come to the Answer on mans part. No sooner hath the Gospel and Gods Spirit clearly revealed the fulness of Gods mercy in Christ, but then the whole soul (both the Minde that discovers mercy, and Hope that expects it, and Desire that pursues it, and Love that entertains it, and the Will that rests on it) gives answer to the Call of God therein. Mercy is a proper object of all these, of the Minde to be illightned, of Hope to be sustained, of De­sire to be supported, of Love to be cheared: Nay, there is a full satisfactory sufficiency of all good in Christ, that so the will of man may take full repose and rest in him; therefore the Lord saith, Come unto me, all that are weary and heavy laden; Come Mat. 11. 28. Minde, and Hope, and Desire, and Love, and Will, and Heart: they all answer, We come: The Minde saith, Let me know this Mercy above all, and desire to know nothing but Christ and him crucified: Let me expect this Mercy (saith Hope) that belongs to me, and will befal me: Desire saith, Let me long after it: O—saith Love, let me embrace and welcome it: O, saith the Heart, let me lay hold on the handle of Salvation; here we will live, and here we will dye at the footstool of Gods Mercy. Thus all go, Minde, Hope, Desire, Love, Joy, the Will, and all lay hold upon the Promise, and say, Let us make the Promise a prey, let us [Page 41] prey upon mercy, as the wilde Beasts do upon their provision. Thus the faculties of the soul hunt and pursue this mercy, and lay hold thereupon, and satisfie themselves herein.

SECT. 2. A sight of Christ, or of mercy in Christ.

BUt for a further discovery of these works of the soul, we shall now enter into particulars: And for their order, First, the Lord lets a light into the minde, for what the eye never seeth, the heart never desireth, hope never expecteth, the soul never imbraceth: If the soul then seems to hang afar off, and dares not believe that Christ will have mercy on him, in this case the Spirit lets in a light into his heart, and discovers unto him, that God will deal graciously with him. It is with a sinner, as with a man that sits in darkness, haply he seeth a light in the street out of a window, but he sits still in darkness, and is in the dungeon all the while, and he thinks, How good were it, if a man might enjoy that light? So, many a poor humble-hearted broken sinner seeth, and hath an inckling of Gods mercies, he heareth the Saints speak of Gods love, and his goodness, and compassion; Ah (thinks he) how happy are they, blessed are they, what an ex­cellent condition are they in? but I am in darkness still, and never had a drop of mercy vouchsafed unto me: At last, the Lord sets a light in his house, and puts the candle into his own hand, and makes him see by particular evidence, Thou shalt be pardoned, and thou shalt be saved.

The maner how the Spirit works this, is discovered in three passages:

First, the Spirit of the Lord meeting with an humble, broken, lowly, self-denying sinner (he that is a proud stout-hearted wretch knows nothing of this matter) it opens the eye, and now the humbled sinner begins to see (like the man in the Gospel) some light and glimmering about his understanding, that he can look into, and discern the spiritual things of God.

2. Then the Lord says before him all the riches of the treasure of his grace; no sooner hath he given him an eye, but then he [Page 42] lays colours before him (the unsearchable riches of Christ) that he may see and look, and fall in love with those sweet treasures; Eph. 3. 9. and then saith the soul, O that mercy, and grace, and pardon were mine! O that my sins were done away! the Lord saith, I will re­fresh them that are heavy laden; then saith the soul, O that I had that refreshing! you shall have rest, saith God; O that I had rest too, saith the soul! And now the soul begins to look after the mercy and compassion which is laid afore it.

3. The Spirit of the Lord doth witness or certifie throughly and effectually to the soul, that this mercy in Christ belongs unto him; and without this, the soul of an humble broken-hearted sinner hath no ground to go unto Christ: what good doth it an hungry stomack to hear that there is a great deal of cheer and dainties provided for such and such men, and he have no part therein? Take a Beggar that hath a thousand pounds told before him (he may apprehend the sum of so much gold and so much silver) but what is all that to me (saith he) if in the mean time I dye and starve? It falls out in this case with a broken-hearted sinner, as with a prodigal childe: The Prodigal he hath spent his means, and abused his Father, and now is there a Famine in the Land, and poverty is befallen him; he knows indeed there is meat and cloaths enough in his Fathers House, but (alas) what can he expect thence but his Fathers heavy displeasure? if a man should say, Go to your Father, he will give you a portion again; would he (think you) believe this? No (would he say) it is my Father I have offended, and will he now receive me? yet should a man come and tell him, that he heard his Father say so, and then shew him a Certificate under his Fathers hand that it was so, this would sure draw him into some hope that his Father meant well towards him: So it is with a sinner when he is ap­prehensive of all his rebellions; if a man should tell such a soul, Go to God, and he will give you abundance of mercy and com­passion; the soul cannot believe it, but thinks, What, I mercy? no, no: Blessed are they that walk humbly before God, and con­form their lives to his word, let them take it; but for me, it is mercy I have opposed, it is grace I have rejected; no mercy, no grace for me: But now if God send a Messenger from Heaven, or if it come under the hand of his Spirit, that he will accept of him, and pass by all his sins, this makes the soul grow into some [Page 43] hopes, and upon this ground it goes unto the Lord: But here observe me, that none either in heaven or in earth, but onely Gods Spirit can make this Certificate; when it is night, all the candles in the world cannot take away the darkness; so all the means of grace and salvation, all the candle-light of the Mini­stry, they are all good helps, but the darkness of the night will not be gone, before the Sun of Righteousness arise in our hearts. Hence it is that it proves so difficult a matter to comfort a di­stressed soul; I shall one day perish, saith David, I shall one day go down to hell: saith the soul, Let all the Ministers under hea­ven cry, Comfort ye, comfort ye: still he replyes, I mercy? and I comfort? will the Lord pardon me? It is mercy I have despised and trampled under my feet, and I mercy? no, no: Thus we Mi­nisters observe by experience, Some that in their own appre­hensions are gone to the bottom of hell, we make known to them Reasons, and Arguments, and Promises, but nothing takes place; whats the Reason? O none but Gods Spirit can do it, he must either come from Heaven, and say, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, or it will never prevail: let me speak there­fore to you that are Ministers, you do well to labor to give com­fort to a poor fainting soul, but always say, Comfort Lord, O Lord, say unto this poor soul, that thou art his salvation.

SECT. 3. Hope in Christ.

THe minde being thus illightned, the Lord calls on the affe­ctions; Come desire, Come love: but the first voice is to Hope, now Hope is a faculty of the soul that looks out for mercy, and waits for the same; So the Apostle, Phil. 1. 20. According to my earnest expectation: It is a similitude taken from a man that looks after another, and lifts up himself as high Phil. 1. 20. as he may to see if any be coming after him; so here the soul stands as it were a tip toe, expecting when the Lord comes; he hath heard the Lord say, Mercy is coming towards thee, mercy is provided for thee: now this affection is set out to meet mercy afar off, it is the looking out of the soul: O when will it be Lord? [Page 44] Thou sayest mercy is prepared, thou sayest mercy is approaching; the soul standeth a tip-toe, O when will it come Lord! here is the voyce of Hope; This sinful soul of mine, it may through Gods mercy be sanctified; this troubled perplexed soul of mine, it may through Gods mercy be pacified; this evil and corruption which harbors in me, and hath taken possession of me, it may through Gods mercy be removed; and when will it be, Lord?

The maner how Gods Spirit works this, is discerned in three particulars: 1. The Lord doth sweetly stay the heart, and fully perswade the soul, that a mans sins are pardonable, and that all his sins may be pardoned, and that all the good things he want­eth, they may be bestowed; this is a great sustainer of the soul: when a poor sinner seeth his sins in their number, nature; when he seeth no rest in the creature, nor in himself, though all means, all help, all men, all Angels, should joyn together, yet they cannot pardon one sin of his; then the Lord lifteth up his voyce, and saith from Heaven, Thy sins are pardonable in the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. The Lord doth sweetly perswade the soul that all his sins shall be pardoned; the Lord makes this appear, and perswades his heart that he intendeth mercy, that Christ hath procured par­don for the soul of a broken-hearted sinner in special, and that he cannot but come unto it; by this means Hope comes to be assured, and certainly perswaded to look out, knowing the Pro­mise shall be at the last accomplished: the former onely sustain­ed the heart, and provoked it to look for mercy, but this com­forts the soul, that undoubtedly it shall have mercy: The Lord Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost: now saith the broken and humble sinner, I am lost; Did Christ come to save sinners? Christ must fail of his end, or I of my comfort: God saith, Come unto me, all you that are weary and heavy laden: I am weary, and unless the Lord intend good unto me, why should he in­vite me and bid me come? surely he means to shew me mercy, nay he promiseth to relieve me, when I come therefore he will do good unto me.

3. The Lord lets in some relish and taste of the sweetness of his love, some scent and savor of it, so that the soul is deeply affected with it, and carryed mightily unto it, that it cannot be severed; it is the letting in the riches of his love, that turneth [Page 45] the expectation of the soul another way, yea it turneth the whole stream of the soul thitherward.

This Reproves, 1. Those that cast off all Hope. 2. Those that 1 Ʋse. of Reproof. without ground will do nothing but Hope. 1. If the Lord stir up the heart of his to hope for his Mercy, then take heed of that fearful sin of Despair. Despair we must in our selves, and that is good; but this Despair we speak of, is hainous in the eyes of God, and hurtful to thee. 1. Injurious to God, thou goest to the deep dungeon of thy Corruption, and there thou sayest, These sins can never be pardoned, I am still proud, and more stubborn, this distress God seeth not, God succors not, his hand cannot reach, his Mercy cannot save. Now mark what the Prophet saith to such a perplexed soul, Why sayest thou thy way is hid from the Isa. 40. 27. Lord? the Lord saith, Why sayest thou? is any thing too hard for the Lord? O you wrong God exceedingly, you think it a matter of humility, when you account so vilely of your selves: Can God pardon sin to such unworthy creatures? It is true (saith the soul) Manasses was pardoned, Paul was converted, Gods Saints have been received to mercy, But can my sins be pardoned? can my soul be quickned? No, no, my sins are greater then can be forgiven. Why then, poor soul, Satan is stronger to overthrow thee, then God to save thee; and thus you make God to be no God, nay you make him to be weaker then Sin, then Hell, then the Devil. 2. This sin is dangerous to thy own soul, it is that which taketh up the bridge, and cutteth off all passages, nay it plucks up a mans Endeavors (as it were) quite by the roots: Alas (saith he) what skilleth for a man to pray? what profits it a man to read? what benefit in all the means of grace? The stone is rolled upon me, and my Condemnation sealed for ever: I will never look after Christ, Grace, Salvation any more; the time of grace is past, the day is gone. And thus the soul sinketh in it self, Will the Lord cast me off for ever, and will he shew no favor? Psal 77. 7 [...] I said (saith David) this is my infirmity: the word in the Ori­ginal is, This is my sickness; as who should say, What, is mercy gone for ever? this will be my death, then is life gone.

2. This Reproves and Condemns that great sin of Presum­ption, a sin more frequent, and (if possibly may be) more dan­gerous; as they said, Saul had slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands: So hath Despair slain his thousands, but Presum­ption [Page 46] his ten thousands. It is the counsel of Peter, That every man should be ready to give an account of his faith and hope that 1 Pet. 3. 15. is in him. Let us see the Reasons that perswade you to these groundless foolish Hopes? you say, You hope to be saved, and you hope to go to heaven, and you hope to see Gods face with comfort; and have you no grounds? it is a foolish hope, an un­reasonable hope.

But comfort ye, comfort ye, poor drooping spirits; They that Ʋse 2. of Comfort. Isa. 40. 31. wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: you say, You can­not do this, and you cannot do that; I say, If you can but hope, and wait for the Mercy of the Lord, you are rich Christians. If a man have many Reversions, they that judge of his Estate, will not judge him for his present Estate, but for the Reversions he shall have: Haply thou hast not for the present the sense and feeling of Gods love and assurance; away with that feeling, do not dote upon it, thou hast Reversions of old Leases, ancient Mercies, old Compassions, such as have been reserved from the beginning of the world, and know thou hast a fair Inheritance.

You will say, Were my hopes of the right stamp, then might Ʋse 3. of Examination. I comfort my self; but there are many false, flashy hopes, and how should I know that my hope is sound and good? I answer, you may know it by these particulars:

1. A grounded hope hath a peculiar certainty in it, it doth bring home unto the soul in special maner, the goodness of God, and the riches of his love in Christ Jesus. It stands not on Is's and And's, but saith, It must undoubtedly, it must certainly be mine; and good Reason, for this hope hath a Word to hang and hold upon: What is that? I will wait upon the Lord, and I hope Psa. 130. 5. in his Word; it is a Scripture-hope, a Word hope: the Word saith, The Lord came to save those that were lost; why, I finde my self Matth. 18. 11. to be lost, saith the soul, and therefore I hope: The Lord will seek me, though I cannot seek him; I hope the Lord will finde me, though I cannot finde my self; I hope the Lord will save me, though I cannot save my self. So the Word saith, He appointeth them that mourn in Sion, to give unto them beauty for ashes: will you have a Legacy of Joy, Mercy and Pity? here it is, the Lord Christ left it you, I bequeath and leave this to all broken-hearted sinners, to all you humble mourning sinners, this is your Legacy, sue for it in the Court, and you shall have it for ever.

[Page 47] 2. A grounded hope is ever of great power and strength to hold the soul to the truth of the Promise; hence take a poor sinner when he is at the weakest, under water, when all Tem­ptations, Oppositions, Corruptions grow strong against him, and he saith, I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul, this proud, foolish, filthy heart of mine will be my bane, I shall never get power, strength and grace against these sins. Here is the lowest under of a poor soul. If a man should now reply, Then cast off all hope and confidence, reject the means, and turn to your sins: Mark how Hope steppeth in, and saith, Nay, whatsoever I am and do, whatsoever my condition is, I will use the means; I am sure all my help is in Christ, all my hope is in the Lord Jesus, and if I must perish, I will perish seeking him, and waiting upon him. Why, this is Hope, and I warrant, that soul shall never go to hell; I will wait for the Lord, yea though he hath hid himself from Isa. 8. 17. the house of Jacob.

The last Use is of Exhortation: I desire you, I intreat you Ʋse 4. of Exhortation. (I will not say, I command you, though this may be enjoyned) if you have any hope of Heaven, if you have any treasure in Christ, labor to quicken this affection above all: The means are these—

1. Labor to be much acquainted with the precious Promises of God, to have them at hand, and upon all occasions: These 1 Means. are thy comforts, and will support thy soul, as the body without comfort is unfit for any thing; so it is here, unless a man hath that provision of Gods Promises, and have them at hand daily, and have them dished out, and fitted for him, his heart will fail.

2. Maintain in thy heart a deep and serious acknowledgement of that supreme Authority of the Lord, to do what he will, and 2 Means. how he will, according to his pleasure. Alas, we think too often to bring God to our bow, We have hoped thus long, and God hath not answered, and shall we wait still? Wait! Ah wait, and bless God that you may wait: If you may lie at Gods feet, and put your mouthes in the dust, and at the end of your days have one crum of Mercy, it is enough; therefore check those distempers, Shall I wait still? It is a most admirable strange thing, that a poor worm, worthy of hell, should take up state, and stand upon terms with God: He will not wait upon God; Who must wait [Page 48] then? must God wait, or man wait? It was the Apostles que­stion, Wilt thou now restore the Kingdom of Israel? to whom our Savior answered, It is not for you to know the times and sea­sons; as who should say, Hands off, it is for you to wait, and to expect mercy, it is not for you to know: If you begin to wran­gle, and say, How long, Lord? When, Lord? And why not now, Lord? Why not I, Lord? now check thy own heart, and say, It is not for me to know, it is for me to be humble, abased, and to wait for mercy.

SECT. 4. A desire after Christ.

VVHen the soul is humbled, and the eye opened, then he begins thus to reason, O happy I that see mercy, but miserable I, if I come to see this, and never have a share in it! O why not I (Lord?) why not my sins pardoned? and why not my eorruptions subdued? my soul now thirsteth after thee as a thirsty Land, my affections now hunger after righteousness both infused and imputed; Now this desire is begotten thus:

When the soul is come so far, that after a through convi­ction of sin, and sound humiliation under Gods mighty hand, it hath a timely and seasonable revelation of the glorious myste­ries of Christ, of his excellencies, invitations, truth, tender­heartedness, &c. of the heavenly splendor, and riches, of the pearl of great price; then doth the soul conceive by the help of the Holy Ghost, this desire and vehement longing: And (least any couzen themselves by any misconceits about it, as the no­torious sinner, the meer civil man, and the formal Professor) it is then known to be saving:

1. When it is joyned with an hearty willingness and unfeigned resolution, to sell all, to part with all sin, to bid adieu for ever to our darling-delight; it is not an effect of self-love, not an ordi­nary wish of natural appetite (like Balaams, Numb. 23. 10.) of Num. 23. 10. those who desire to be happy, but are unwilling to be holy; who would gladly be saved, but are loth to be sanctified; no, if thou desirest earnestly, thou wilt work accordingly; for as the desire is, so will the endeavor be.

[Page 49] 2. When it is earnest, eager, vehement, extreamly thirsting after Christ, as the parched earth for refreshing showers, or the hunted Hart for the Water-brooks. We read of a Scotish Pe­nitent, who a little before his confession, freely confessed his fault, See the Pre­face written by G. Abbot, D D. before the examina­tion of George Sprot, p. 23. to the shame (as he said) of himself, and to the shame of the De­vil, but to the glory of God; he acknowledged it to be so heynous, and horrible, that had he a thousand lives, and could he dye Ten thousand deaths, he could not make satisfaction: Notwithstanding (said he) Lord, thou hast left me this comfort in thy word, that thou hast said, Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy la­den, and I will refresh you: Lord, I am weary, Lord, I am heavy Matth. 11. 28. laden with my sins, which are innumerable, I am ready to sink, Lord, even into hell, unless thou in thy mercy put to thine hand and deliver me: Lord, thou hast promised by thine own word out of thy own mouth, that thou wilt refresh the weary soul: And with that he thrust out one of his hands, and reaching as high as he could towards Heaven, with a louder voyce and a streined, he cryed, I challenge thee, Lord, by that word, and by that promise which thou hast made, that thou perform and make it good to me, that call for ease and mercy at thy hands, &c. Proportionably, when heavy-heartedness for sin hath so dryed up the bones, and the angry countenance of God so parched the heart, that the poor soul begins now to gasp for grace, as the thirsty Land for drops of rain; then the poor sinner (though dust and ashes) with an holy humility thus speaks unto Christ, O merciful Lord God, Thou art Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; Thou sayest it is done, of things that are yet to come, so faithful and true are thy Decrees and Promises; That thou hast promised by thine own word out of thy own mouth, that unto him that is a thirst, thou wilt give him of the fountain of the water of life freely. O Lord, I thirst, I faint, I languish, I long for one drop of mercy: As Rev. 21. 6. the Hart panteth for the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God, and after the yearning bowels of thy wonted compas­sions: Had I now in possession the glory, the wealth, and pleasures of the whole world; nay, had I Ten thousand lives, joyfully would I lay them all down and part with them, to have this poor trembling soul of mine received into the bleeding arms of my blessed Redeemer. O Lord, my spirit within me is melted into tears of blood, my heart is shivered into pieces; out of the very [Page 50] place of Dragons and shadow of death, do I lift up my thoughts heavy and sad before thee, the remembrance of my former vani­ties and pollutions, is a very vomit to my soul, and it is sorely wounded with the grievous representation thereof: The very flames of Hell, Lord, the fury of thy just wrath, the scorchings of my own conscience, have so wasted and parched mine heart, that my thirst is insatiable, my bowels are hot within me, my desire after Jesus Christ, pardon and grace, is greedy as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame: And, Lord, in thy blessed Book thou callest and cryest, Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters. In that great day of the Isa. 55. 1. feast, thou stoodest and cryed'st with thine own mouth, If any man Iohn 7. 37. thirst, let him come unto me and drink; and these are thine own words, Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be Matt. 5. 6. filled. I challenge thee, Lord, in this my extreamest thirst after thine own blessed self, and spiritual life in thee, by that Word, and by that Promise which thou hast made, that thou perform, and make it good to me, that lie grovelling in the dust, and trembling at thy feet: Oh! open now that promised well of life, for I must drink, or else I dye.

The means to obtain this desire, are these three:

1. Be acquainted throughly with thine own necessities and 1 Means. wants, with that nothingness and emptiness that is in thy self; a groundless presumption makes a man careless; see into thine own necessities, confess the want of this desire after the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Labor to spread forth the excellency of all the beauty and surpassing glory, that is in the Promises of God: Couldst thou 2 Means. but view them in their proper colours, they would even ravish thee, and quicken thy desires.

3. After all this, know it is not in thy power to bring thy heart to desire Christ, thou canst not hammer out a desire upon 3 Means. thine own Anvil, dig thy own pit, and hew thy own rock as long as thou wilt; nay, let all the Angels in Heaven, and all the Ministers on Earth provoke thee, yet if the hand of the Lord be wanting, thou shalt not lift up thine heart, nor step one step towards Heaven; then go to him who is able to work this desire in thy soul. It is the complaint of a Christian, O they are troubled, because they cannot fetch a good desire from their own [Page 51] souls, and one falls, another sinks, a third shakes, and they are overwhelmed with discouragement: What a wretched heart have I? (faith one) I grace? No, no, the world I can desire, the life of my childe I long for, and I say with (Rachel) Let me have ho­nor or else I dye: but I cannot long for the unconceivable riches of the Lord Jesus Christ; and will the Lord shew any mercy upon me? Is it thus? remember now, desires grow not in thy garden, they spring not from the root of thy abilities: O seek unto God, and confess, In truth Lord, it is thou from whom come all our de­sires, it is thou must work them in us as thou hast promised them to us; and therefore, Lord, quicken thou this soul, and inlarge this heart of mine, for thou onely art the God of this desire. Thus hale down a desire from the Lord, and from the Promise, for there onely must thou have it: The smoaking flax God will not quench: flax Mat. 12. 20. will not smoak, but a spark must come into it, and that will make it catch fire and smoak; thus lay your hearts before the Lord, and say, Good Lord, here is onely flax, here is onely a stub­born heart, but strike thou by thy Promise one spark from heaven, that I may have a smoaking desire after Christ, and after grace.

SECT. 5. A Love of Christ.

VVE have run through two affections, Hope & Desire, and the next is Love: A possible good stirs up Hope, a neces­sary excellency in that good, setleth Desire, and a rellish in that good setled, kindles Love. Thus is the order of Gods work: If the good be absent, the understanding saith, It is to be desired, O that I had it! then it sends out Hope, and that waits for that good, and stays till it can see it; and yet if that good cannot come, then De­sire hath another proper work, and it goes up and down wan­dring, and seeketh and sueth for Christ Jesus. After this, if the Lord Jesus be pleased to come himself into the view of the heart, which longeth thus after him, then Love leads him into the soul, and tells the Will of him, saying, Lo here is Jesus Christ the Messiah, that hath ordered these great things for his Saints and people.

[Page 52] The Motive or ground of this Love, is Gods Spirit in the Promise, letting in some intimation of Gods love into the soul; thus Psal. 42. 8. The Lord will command his loving kindeness in Psal. 42. 8. the day time: This is a phrase taken from Kings and Princes, and great Commanders in the field, whose words of Command stand for Laws; so the Lord sends out his loving kindeness, and saith, Go out, my everlasting love and kindeness, take a Commission from me, and to go that humble, thirsty and hunger-bitten sinner, and go and prosper, and prevail, and settle my love effectually up­on him, and fasten my mercy upon him; I command my loving kindeness to do it. Thus the Lord doth put a Commission into the hands of his loving kindeness, that it shall do good to the poor soul, yea though it withdraw it self, saying, What, I mercy? will Christ Jesus accept of me? No, no; there is no hope of mercy for me: indeed if I could pray thus, hear thus, and perform Duties with that enlargement, and had those parts and abilities, then there were some comfort, but now there is no hope of mercy for me. We demand, Is this your case? is it thus and thus? are you thus hum­bled? and have you thus longed for the riches of his Mercy in Christ? Lo then, the Lord hath put a Commission into the hands of his loving kindeness, saying, Go to that poor soul, and break open the doors upon that weary weltering heart, and break off all those bolts, and rend off that veil of ignorance and carnal Reason, and all those Arguments: Go (I say) to that soul, and chear it, and warm it, and tell it from me, That his sins are pardoned, and his soul shall be saved, and his sighs and prayers are heard in heaven; and I charge you do the work before you come again.

Here is the ground of Love, Gods love affecting the heart and setled upon it, it breeds a love to God again; We love him, because Iohn 4. 19. he loved us first: The burning-glass must receive heat of the beams of the Sun, before it burn any thing; so there must be a beam of Gods love to fall upon the soul, before it can love God again: I drew them with the cords of a man, even with the bands of love; Hosea 11. 4. God lets in the cords of love into the soul, and that draws love again to God: He brought me into the banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love; stay me with flaggons, comfort me Cant. 2. 4. with apples, for I am sick of love. When the banner of Christs love is spread over the soul, the soul comes to be sick in love with Christ.

[Page 53] Now this love of God doth beget our love in three par­ticulars:

First, there is a sweetness and a rellish which Gods love lets into the soul, and warms the heart with; you shall see how the fire is kindled by and by: As when a man is fainting, we give him Aqua-vitae; so a fainting sinner is cold at the heart, and therefore the Lord lets in a drop of his loving kindeness, and this warms the heart, and the soul is even filled with the happiness of the mercy of God; Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth (saith the Spouse in the Canticles) for his love is better then wine: Cant. 1. 1. The kisses of his mouth, are the comforts of his Word and Spi­rit; the soul saith, O let the Lord refresh me with the kisses of his mouth, let the Lord speak comfort to my heart, and this is bet­ter then wine.

Secondly, as that sweetness warms the heart, so the freeness of the love of God let in and intimated, begins even to kindle this love in the soul, that it sparkles again: God setteth out his love towards us, seeing that while we were yet sinners, Christ dyed for us. This commends the love of God, the Lord sends to Rom. 5. 8. poor and miserable, sinful broken-hearted sinners, and saith, Commend my mercy to such a one, and tell him, That though he hath been an enemy to me, yet I am a friend to him, and though he hath been rebellious against me, yet I am a God and Father to him: When the poor sinner considers this with himself, he saith, Is the Lord so merciful to me? I that loved my sins, and continued in them, had it not been just that I should have perished in them? but will the Lord not onely spare his enemy, but give his Son for him? O let my soul for ever rejoyce in this unconceiveable goodness of God! Be thy heart never so hard, if it have but the sense of this, it cannot but stir thee to Humiliation.

Thirdly, the greatness of the freeness of this mercy of God, being setled upon the heart, enflames it, the sweetness warms the heart, this freeness kindles the fire, and when the greatness of the sweetness comes to be valued, this sets the heart all on a flame; the Apostle desires, that the Ephesians being rooted and grounded Eph. 3. 17, 18. in love, might be able to comprehend with all Saints, what is the breadth and height of the love of God in Christ; as if he had said, The unmeasureablenes of Gods mercy will blow up the soul, and enflame the heart with admirable love of God again, and [Page 54] will make the soul say, What, I that have done all that I could against this good God? O it breaks my heart to think of it! there was no Name under heaven that I did blaspheme and tear in pieces, more then this Name; no Command under heaven I so much de­spised, as the Command of God and of Christ; no Spirit that I grieved, so much as the good Spirit of God; and therefore had the Lord onely given me a look, or spoken a word to me, it had been an infinite Mercy, but to send a Son to save me, it is incomparable: I could not conceive to do so much evil against him, as he hath done good to me: O the breadth of that Mercy beyond all limits! O the length of that Mercy beyond all time! O the depth of that Mercy below a mans misery! O the height of that Mercy above the height of my understanding! If my hands were all love, that I could work nothing but love, & if mine eyes were able to see nothing but love, and my minde to think of nothing but love, and if I had a thousand bodies, they were all too little to love that God that hath thus unmeasureably loved me a poor sinful Hell-hound: I will love the Lord dearly (saith David) O Lord my strength. Have Psal. 18. 1. I gotten the Lord Jesus to be my comfort, my buckler and my shield? if I have any good, he begins it; if I have any comfort, he blesseth it: Therefore I will love thee dearly, O Lord my strength, O how should I but love thee!

Me thinks there is a poor sincere soul that saith, My under­standing are not so deep as others, my tongue runs not so glib as Ʋse 1. of Comfort. such and such; I cannot talk so freely of the things of grace and salvation, I have meaner parts, and cannot inlarge my self in holy Duties and holy Services; I cannot dispute for a Savior, or perform such Duties as others can do: yet, sweet soul, canst thou love Christ Jesus, and rejoyce in him? O yes! I bless the Name of the Lord, that all I have, all my friends, and parts, and means, and abilities, are but as dung and dross in comparison of Christ Jesus; it were the comfort of my soul, if I might be ever with him. Say you so? Go thy way, and the God of heaven go with thee: This is a work of God that will never leave thee, it is a badge and proper livery that the Lord Jesus gives onely to his Saints; never a meer Professor under heaven ever wore it, never any Hypocrite under heaven to whom God did intend it, but onely to those whom he hath effectually called, and whom he will save; therefore though thou wantst all, thou hast this [Page 55] to comfort thee in the want of all; and thou mayest say, I can say little for Christ, my tongue faulters, and my memory is weak, yet the Lord knows I love the Lord Jesus. This is enough, David desired no more, but what God was wont to do to his children that loved his name, Do to me (saith the text) as thou usest to do Psal. 119. 132. unto those that love thy name; I know thou lovest them that love thee, and wilt save and glorifie them in the end, I desire no more but this, do as thou usest to do to those that love thy name. And doth David, a King, desire no more? sure then if thou (poor soul) hast so much as he had, it is enough, be quiet with thy childes part, Thy lot is faln into a marvellous fair ground.

Some may say, this is all the difficult, How may I know whe­ther Object. my love be a true love, or a false love? How may I know, that my love is of the right stamp.

Let every man put his love upon the trial, and examine thus, Answ. Whether doest thou welcome Christ and grace, according to the worth of them? if thou doest, it will appear in these particulars: 1. Observe the root and rise from whence thy love came, canst thou say, I love the Lord, because he hath loved me? then thy love is of the right mettle, and know it for ever, that that God which cannot but love himself, he cannot but like that love which came from himself: is thy soul affected and enlarged in love to the Lord, because thou hast felt and retained the relish and sweetness of his grace? canst thou say, The Lord hath let in a glimpse of his fa­vor? and the Lord hath said in his truth, he looks to him that trembles at his word, the Minister said it, and the Spirit saith it, that my mercy is registred in heaven: Oh how should I love the Lord! my sins are many, which I have bewailed, my sighs and sobs I have put up to heaven, and at the last the Lord hath given me a gracious answer: Oh how should I love the Lord my strength dearly? If it be thus with thee, thy love is sound, and will ne­ver fail.

2. If thou entertain thy Savior, as it beseems him, thou must entertain him as a King, and that is thus; give up all to him, and entertain none with him upon terms of honor, but such as re­tain to him, or be attendants upon him; love all in Christ, and for Christ, but express thy love and joy to Christ above all: He is as a King, and all the rest are but as retainers; he that loves any thing equal with a Christ, it is certain he did never love [Page 56] Christ; to set up any thing cheek by jole with Christ, it is all one as if a man did put a slave into the same Chamber with the King, which is upon the point to drive him away.

3. The soul that rightly entertains Christ, and studies wholly to give him contentment, he is marvellous wary and watchful, that he may not sad that good Spirit of God to grieve him, and cause him to go away as displeased: See this Cant. 3. 4, 5. the Spouse sought long for her beloved, and at last brought him Cant 3. 4, 5. home, and when she had welcomed him, she gives a charge to all the house, not to stir nor awaken her love, till he please. When a Prince comes unto the house of a great man, what charge is there given to make no noise in the night, lest such and such a man be awakened before his time? the soul when it hath re­ceived the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, doth thus; he gives a peremptory charge to keep watch and ward, and gives a charge to hope, and desire, and love, and joy, and the minde, and all, not to grieve and molest the good Spirit of God, Let there be no motion but to entertain it, no advise but to receive it, and do nothing that may work the least kinde of dislike unto it.

4. He that truly entertains Christ, rejoyceth in the good and glory of Christ: When Mephibosheth had been wrongfully ac­cused to David, and when David who had taken away all the inheritance from him, was returned in safety; Then said David to comfort him, Thou and Ziba divide the land: nay, said Mephi­bosheth, 2 King. 19. 30. Let him take all, forasmuch as my Lord the King is come again in peace, it matters not for inheritance, and for my self and my life, I pass not, sith the King is returned in peace; it is enough that I enjoy thy presence, which is better to me then goods, life or liberty: So it is with a kinde loving heart, which cannot endure to see Christs honor and glory layed in the dust, but if his praise be advanced, then is he glad, Lord, I have enough (saith the soul) that Christ is mine, and that his honor and glory is mag­nified, whatsoever becomes of me it matters not; let the world take all, if I may have Christ, and see him praised and magnified: Let this try any mans spirit under heaven, and labor to bring the soul to this pitch: A Minister in his place, and a Master in his place, and every Christian in his place; let it be our care to ho­nor God, not our selves; and let it be our comfort, if God may be better honored by others, then by our selves: This is our [Page 57] baseness of spirit, we can be content to lift up Christ upon our shoulders, that we may lift up our selves by it; but we should be content to lie in the dust, that the Lord may be praised; and if any of Gods people thrive and prosper more then thou, let that be thy joy.

5. He that welcomes Christ truly, covets a neerer union with Christ: Love is of a linking and gluing nature, and will carry the soul with some kinde of strength and earnestness, to enjoy full possession and fellowship of the thing that is loved; it can­not have enough of it: Nothing (saith the soul) but Christ, still I desire more of that mercy, and holiness, and grace, and love in Christ Jesus: As it is with parties that have lived long together in one house, and their affections are linkt together in way of marri­age, they will ever desire to be talking together, and to be drawing on the marriage; so the soul that loves Christ Jesus, and hath his holy affection kindled, and his spirit enlarged there­in; when the Lord hath let in some glimpse of his love, he thinks the hour sweet when he prayed to the Lord Christ, he thinks the Lords-day sweet, wherein God revealed, by the power of his holy Ordinances, any of that rich grace and mercy of his: it is admirable to see how the heart will be delighted to recover the time and place, and means, when and where the Lord did re­veal it; Oh this is good (saith the soul) Oh that I might ever be thus cleared and refreshed! Or as the spouse contracted, thinks every day a year, till she enjoy her beloved, and take satisfacti­on to her soul in him: So the soul that hath been truly humbled, and enlightened, and is now contracted to Christ Jesus, Oh when will that day be (saith it) that I shall ever be with my Jesus! he takes hold of every word he hears, every promise that reveals any thing of Christ, But oh! when will that day be, that I shall Phil. 1. 23. ever be with Christ, and be full of his fulness for ever?

And now let me prevail with your hearts, and work your souls to this duty, Love the Lord, all ye his Saints; whom will 2 Ʋse. of Exhorta­tion. you love, if you love not him? Oh you poor ones, love you the Lord, for you have need; and all you rich ones, love you the Psal 31. [...]. Lord, for you have cause; and you little ones too (if there be any such in the Congregation) he knocks at every mans heart, and perswades every mans soul, Love ye the Lord.

The means are these, 1. Labor to give attendance daily to 1 Means. [Page 58] the promise of grace, and Christ; drive away all other suitors from the soul, and let nothing come between the promise and it; forbid all other bands, that is, let the promise confer daily with thy heart, and be expressing and telling of that good that is in Christ, to thy own soul. If all things be agreed between parties to be married, and there wants nothing but mutual affection; the only way to fix their affections upon one another, is to keep com­pany together, so as they meet wisely and holily: So let the soul daily keep company with the promise, and this is the first way.

2. Labor to be throughly acquainted with the beauty and sweetness of Christ in the promise: Now there are three things 2 Means. in the promise we must eye and apprehend, that our hearts may be kindled with love in the Lord: 1. The worth of the party in himself, Christ is worthy of it. 2. The desert of the party, in regard Christ deserves it. 3. The readiness of the party in him­self to seek our good, Christ seeks it.

1. Christ is worthy in himself: if we had a thousand hearts to bestow upon him, we were never able to love him sufficiently; as Nehemiah said, The name of the Lord is above all praise; will you let out your love and affections? you may lay them out here with good advantage: what would you love? wouldst thou have beauty? then thy Savior is beautiful, Thou art fairer then the children of men, Psal. 45. 2. Wouldst thou have strength? then is thy Savior strong, Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Psal. 45. 2. mighty, Psal. 45. 3. Wouldst thou have riches? thy Savior is Psal. 45. 3. more rich (if it be possible) then he is strong, He is heir of all things, Heb. 1. 2. Wouldst thou have wisdom? then thy Savior Heb. 1. 2. is wise, yea wisdom it self, In him are hid all the treasures of wis­dom and knowledge, Col. 2. 3. Wouldst thou have life eternal? Col. 2. 3. Christ is the Author of life and happiness to all that have him; and he hath not onely these in himself, but he will infeoff thee in them, if thou wilt but match with him.

2. Christ deserves our love, in regard of benefits to us; be man never so worthy in himself, yet if he have wronged, or ex­prest the part of an Enemy, a woman saith, I will not have him though he had all the world, this takes off the affections; it is not so with the Lord Jesus: as he is worthy of all love in himself, so he hath dealt mercifully and graciously with you: In your sickness, who helped you? in wants, who supplied you? in an­guish [Page 59] of heart, who relieved you? it was Jesus Christ: Oh there­fore love him, deal equally with him, and as he deserves, so en­large your hearts to him for ever.

3. Christ seeks our love: Here is the admiration of mer­cy, That our Savior, who hath been rejected by a compa­ny of sinful creatures, should seek their love: for shame refuse him not, but let him have love ere he go: Had the Lord received us, when we had come to him, and humbled our hearts before him; Had he heard, when we had spent our days, and all our strength in begging and craving, it had been an infinite mercy: But when the Lord Jesus Christ shall seek to us by his Messengers (it is all the work we have to do, to woo you, and speak a good word for the Lord Jesus Christ; yea, and if we speak for our selves, it is pity but our tongue should cleave to the roof of our mouth) when the Lord Jesus shall come and wait upon us, and seek our love, O this is the wonder of mercies! think of this, O ye Saints! The Lord now by us offers love to all you that are weary and have need, What answer shall I return to him in the evening? shall I say, Lord, I have tendred thy mercy, and it was refused: Brethren, it would grieve my heart to return this answer: O rather let every soul of you say, Can the Lord Je­sus love me? In truth, Lord, I am out of love with my self, I have abused thy Majesty, I have loved the world, I have followed base lusts, and can the Lord Jesus love such a wretch as I am? yet saith the Lord, I will heal their back-slidings, I will love them freely. Hosea. 14. 5. He looks for no portion, he will take thee and all thy wants; get you home then, and every one in secret, labor to deal truly with your own hearts; make up a match in this maner, and say, Is it possible that the Lord should look so low? that a great Prince should send to a poor Peasant, that Majesty should stoop to means? Heaven to Earth, God to man? Hath the Lord offered mercy to me? and doth he require nothing of me but to love him again? call upon your hearts, I charge you, and say thus, Lord, if all the light of mine eyes were love, and all the speeches of my tongue were love, it were all too little to love thee: O let me love thee dearly! If you will not say thus, then say hereafter, You had a fair offer, and that a poor Minister of God did wish you well. Alas, be not coy and squemish, the Lord may have better then you; lie down therefore, and admire at the mercy of the [Page 60] Lord, that should take a company of dead dogs, and now at the last, say as the Prophet did, Lift up your heads, O ye gates! Psal. 24. 7, 9. and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in.

SECT. 6. A relying on Christ.

VVE are now come to the work of the Will, which is the great wheel and Commander of the soul. The former affections were but as hand-maids to usher in Christ and the Promises; the minde saith, I have seen Christ: Hope saith, I have waited: Desire saith, I have longed: Love saith, I am kind­led: then saith the Will, I will have Christ, it shall be so: and this makes up the match, the spawn and seeds of faith went before, now faith is come to some perfection, now the soul reposeth it self upon the Lord Jesus.

And this reposing or resting it self, discovers a five­fold act:

First, it implyes A going out of the soul to Christ: When the soul seeth this, that the Lord Jesus is his ayd, and must ease him and pardon his sins, then let us go to that Christ, saith he, it is the Lords call, Come to me all ye that are weary: now this voyce coming home to the heart, and the prevailing sweetness of the call over-powering the heart, the soul goes out, and falls, and flings it self upon the riches of Gods grace.

Secondly, It lays fast hold upon Christ: when the Lord saith, Come my Love, my Dove, O come away! Behold, I come (saith Cant. 2. 16. she) and when she is come, she fasteneth upon Christ, saying, My beloved is mine, and I am his: Faith lays hold on the Lord, and will not let Mercy go, but cleaves unto it, though it conflict with the Lord; Should he slay me (saith Job) yet will I trust in him: Iob 13. 15. The case is like Benhadads, who being overcome by Ahab, his Servants thus advise him: We have heard that the Kings of Israel 1 King. 20. 31, 32, 33. are merciful Kings, we pray thee let us put ropes about our necks, [Page 61] and sackcloth on our loyns, and go out to the King, peradventure he will save thy life: Thus the Servants go, and coming to Ahab, they deliver the Message; Thy Servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee let me live: and he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother: Now the men diligently observed whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch at it, and they said, Thy brother Benhadad, and they went away rejoycing: This is the lively Picture of a broken-hearted sinner, after he hath taken up arms against the Almighty, and that the Lord hath let in Ju­stice, and he seeth (or hath seen) the anger of God bent against him; then the soul reasons thus, I have heard, though I am a rebellious sinner, that none but sinners are pardoned, and God is a gracious God, and therefore unto him let me go: with this he falls down at the footstool of the Lord, and cryes, O what shall I do! what shall I say unto thee? O thou preserver of men! O let me live, I pray thee, in the sight of my Lord! The soul thus humbled, the Lord then lets in his sweet voyce of mercy, and saith, Thou art my Son, my Love, and thy sins are pardoned: These words no sooner uttered, but he catcheth thereat, saying, Mercy Lord? and a Son Lord? and love Lord? and a pardon Lord? The heart holds it self here, and will never away.

Thirdly, it flings the weight of all its occasions and troubles (guilt and corruptions) upon the Lord Jesus Christ: He that walks in darkness, and hath no light, let him trust in the name Isaiah 50. 10. of the Lord, and stay upon his God; that is, if a man be in extremity, hopeless in misery, and walks in desperate discou­ragements, yea and hath no light of comfort, Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God: As when a man cannot go of himself, he lays all the weight of his body upon another, so the soul goes to a Christ, and lays all the weight of it self upon Christ, and saith, I have no comfort, O Lord, all my discomforts I lay upon Christ, and I relye upon the Lord for comfort and consolation: Who is this, saith Solomon, Cant. 8. 5. that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved, Cant. 8. 5. The party coming is the Church, the wilderness is the troubles and vexations the Church meets withal, and the be­loved is the Lord Jesus Christ; now the Church leans her self all upon her Husband, she walked along with him, but he bare all the burthen: Cast all your care upon him (saith Peter) for he 1 Pet. 5. 7. [Page 62] careth for you, 1 Pet. 5. 7. the Original is, Hurl your care upon the Lord: The Lord will not thank you for carrying your cares and troubles about you, he requires that you Hurl them upon him, for he careth for you.

Fourthly, it draws vertue, and derives power from the Lord Jesus Christ for succor and supplies, and here is the espe­cial life of Faith, it goes for mercy, and grace, and comfort in Christ, he knows 'tis to be had from him, and therefore he fetcheth all from him; With joy shall ye draw water out of the Isa. 12. 3. wells of salvation, Isa. 12. 3. The fountain of Salvation is Christ, and all the waters of life, of grace and mercy, are in Christ Jesus: Now it is not enough to let down the bucket into the well, but it must be drawn out also; it is not enough to come to Christ, but we must draw the water of grace from Christ to our selves; They shall suck and be satisfied (saith Isaiah) with the breasts of her consolations, that they may milk out, and be delighted with Isa. 66. 11. the abundance of her glory: The Church is compared to a childe, and the breasts are the Promises of the Gospel; now the Elect must suck out, and be satisfied with it; the word in the Original is, Exact upon the Promise, and oppress the Promise: as the Op­pressor grindes the face of a poor man, so with an holy kinde of oppression, you should exact from the Promise, and get what good you may from it.

Fifthly, Faith leaves the soul with the Promise; yea, not­withstanding all delays, denyals, discouragements from God, faith brings on the heart still, it will be sure to lie at the gate, and keep the soul with the promise, whatever befalls it. Excel­lent is that passage, Gen. 32. 26. when the Lord and Jacob were wrestling, Let me go, saith the Lord, I will leave thee to thy self, Gen. 32. 26. I care not what becomes of thee; No, I will not let thee go, until thou hast blessed me, saith Jacob: So the faithful soul lays hold upon the Lord for Mercy, Pardon, Power and Grace, and though the Lord seem to give him up to the torment of Sin and Corruption, yet the soul saith, Though my soul go down to hell, I will hold here for Mercy, till the Lord comfort and pardon, and sub­due graciously these cursed corruptions, which I am not able to master my self. As it is with a Sun-dyal, the needle is ever moving, and a man may jog it this way and that way, yet it will never stand still, till it come to the North-point: So when the Lord leaves [Page 63] off a believing heart with frowns, and with the expression of displeasure, and the soul turns to the Lord Christ, and will never leave till it go God-ward, and Christ-ward, and Grace­ward, and saith, Let the Lord do what he please, I will go no fur­ther, till he be pleased to shew Mercy. Thus the soul once come to Christ, it will never away, but ever cleaves to the Promise, and is towards God and Christ, whatsoever befalls it.

But (poor soul) art thou yet shut up in Unbelief? do then as the Prisoners in New-gate, what lamentable cryes do they utter Ʋse 1. of Instruction. to every Passenger by? So do thou, look out from the gates of Hell, and from under the bars of Infidelity, and cry, that God would look on thee in mercy, and say, Spare, Lord, a poor un­believing wretch, lockt up under the bars of Ʋnbelief, good Lord succor, and deliver in thy due time. David could say, Let the Psal. 79. 11. sighing of prisoners come up before thee; that indeed was meant of bodily imprisonment, yet the argument prevails much in regard of the Spiritual: Good Lord, let the sighing of prisoners come up before thee; let the sighing of poor distrustful souls come up before thy Majesty: O send help from heaven, and deliver the soul of thy servant from these wretched distempers of heart. Is there no cause thus to pray? He that believeth not (saith our Sa­vior) Iohn 3. 18. is condemned already: He is cast in heaven and earth, by the Law and Gospel, there is no relief for him abiding in this condition; lay this under thy pillow, and say, How can I sleep, and be a condemned man? What if God should take away my life this night? Alas! I never knew what it was to be illightned, or wounded for sin; I can commit sin, and play with sin, but I never knew what it was to be wounded for sin; I never knew what it was to be zealous in a good cause; O I confess I have no faith at all! Beloved! would you yield this, then were there some hopes that you might get out of this condition and state, to have a sense of its want, to go to the Lord by prayer, and to ask hearty counsel of some faithful Minister, are the first steps to ob­tain it. And to help a poor wretch in this case, O you that are gracious, go your ways home, and pray for him: Brethren, let us leave preaching and hearing, and all of us fall to praying and mourning: In truth, I condemn my own soul, because I have not an heart to mourn for him; we reprove his sin, and con­demn him of his sin; and we must do so: but where are the [Page 64] heart-blood petitions that we put up for such a one? Where are the tears that we make for the slain of our people? You tender-hearted Mothers and you tender-hearted Wives, if your chil­dren or husbands be in this woful case. O mourn for them, let your hearts break over them, and say, O wo is me for my children, O wo is me for that poor husband of mine!

Or secondly, hast thou gotten faith? then labor to husband this grace well, and to improve it for thy best good. It is a mar­vellous Ʋse 2. of Instruction. shame, to see those that are born to fair means (I mean the poor Saints of God) that have a Right and Title to Grace and Christ, and yet to live at such an under-rate: I would have you to live above the world, for the Lord doth not grudge his people of comfort, but would have them live chearfully, and have strong consolations, and mighty assurance of Gods love: Is there not cause? why, faith (if it be right) will make the life of a Christian most easie, most comfortable. Unfaithful souls sink in their sorrows upon every occasion; but faith gives ease to a man in all his conversation: 1. Because faith hath a skill, and a kinde of flight to put over all cares to another: We take up the Cross, but faith hurls all the care on Christ; an easie matter it is to lie under the burthen, when another bears all the weight of it. Look how it is with two Ferry-men, the one hales his Boat about the shore, and cannot get off, but tugs and pulls, and never puts her forth to the Tide; the other puts his Boat upon the stream, and sets up his sail, and then he may sit still in his Boat, and the wind will carry him whither he is to go: Just thus it is with a faithful soul, and an unbeliever; all the care of the faithful soul, is to put himself upon the stream of Gods Provi­vidence, and to set up the sail of Faith, and to take the gale of Gods Mercy and Providence, and so he goes on chearfully, be­cause it is not he that carries him, but the Lord Jesus Christ: whereas every unfaithful soul tugs and pulls at the business, and can finde neither ease nor success; Alas! he thinks by his own wits and power to do what he would. 2. Because faith sweetens all other afflictions, even those that are most hard and full of te­diousness; and howsoever it apprehends all troubles and afflicti­ons, yet withal it apprehends the faithfulness of God, ordering all for our good: and that's the reason why all our troubles are digested comfortably, without any harshness at all: When the [Page 65] Patient takes better Pills, if they be well sugered they go down the easier, and the bitterness never troubles him: So it is with Faith, it takes away the harshness of all inconveniencies, which are bitter Pills in themselves, but they are sweetned and sugered over by the faithfulness of God, for the good of the soul; and therefore it goes on cheerfully.

You will say, if faith bring such ease, how may a man that hath faith, improve it to have such comfort by it? I answer, the rules are four:

1. Labor to gain some evidence to thy own soul, that thou 1 Rule. hast a title to the promise: The reason why poor Christians go drooping, and are overwhelmed with their sins and miseries, is because they see not their title to mercy, nor their evidence of Gods love, To the word, and to the Testimonies: Take one evi­dence Esay 8. 20. from the word, 'tis as good as a thousand, if thou hast but one promise for thee, thou hast all in truth, though all be not so fully and cleerly perceived.

2. Labor to set an high price on the promises of God: One 2 Rule. promise, and the sweetness of Gods mercy in Christ, is better then all the honors or riches in the world; Prize these at this rate, and thou canst not choose but finde ease, and be content­ed therewith.

3. Labor to keep thy promises ever at hand: what is it to me 3 Rule. if I have a thing in the house, if I have it not at my need? If a man ready to sound and dye, say, I have as good cordial water as any in the world, but I know not where it is; he may sound and dye before he can finde it: So when misery comes, and thy heart is surcharged, O then some promise, some comfort to bear up a poor fainting, drooping soul, my troubles are many, and I cannot bear them: Why, now Christ and a promise would have done it; but thou hast thrown them in a corner, and they are not to be found: Now for the Lords sake let me intreat thee be wise, for thy poor soul; there is many a fainting and aguish fit and qualm comes over the heart of many a poor Christian; per­secutions without, and sorrows and corruptions within, there­fore keep thy cordials about thee, and be sure that thou hast them within reach, take one, and bring another, and be refreshed by another, and go singing to thy grave, and to heaven for ever.

4. Labor to drink in hearty draught of the promise; bestow [Page 66] thy self upon the promise every hour, whensoever thou dost finde the fit: coming; and this is the way to finde comfort, Eat O Cant. 5. 1. friends, and drink ye abundantly O welbeloved: The Original is, in drinking drink; ye cannot be drunken with the Spirit, as you may with wine, drink abundantly, were dainties prepared: If an hunger-starved man comes in, and takes onely a bit and away, he must needs go away an hungred: Think of it sadly, you faith­ful Saints of God; you may come now and then, and take a snatch of the promise, and then comes fear, and temptation, and persecution, and all quiet is gone again, it is your own fault brethren, you come thirsty, and go away thirsty, you come dis­comforted, and so you go away. Many times it thus befals us Ministers; when we preach of consolation, and when we pray, and confer▪ we think we are beyond all trouble; but by and by we are full of fears, and troubles, and sorrows, because we take not full contentment in the promise, we drink not a deep draught of it: of this take heed too; 1. Of Cavilling and Qua­relling with carnal reason. 2. Of attending to the parlies of Sa­tans temptations; if we listen to this chat, he will make us for­get all our comfort.

CHAP. VII. The growing of the soul with Christ.

HItherto of the first part of the souls implantation; to wit, of the putting of the soul into Christ: We are now come to the second, which is, The growing of the soul with Christ. These two take up the nature of ingrafting a sinner into the stock Christ Jesus. Now this growing together is accomplished by two means:

  • 1. By an union of the soul with Christ.
  • 2. By a conveyance of sap or sweetness (all the treasures of grace and happiness) that is in Christ to the soul.

First, Every believer is joyned unto Christ, and so joyned or knit, that he becomes one spirit. 1. He is joyned; as a friend to a friend; as a father to a childe; as an husband to a wife; as a graft to a tree; as the soul to a body: So is Christ to a belie­ver, [Page 67] I live, not I, but the Lord Jesus liveth in me: Hence the bo­dy Gal. 3. 10. 1 Cor. 12. 12. of the faithful is called Christ, 1 Cor. 12. 12. 2. So joyned, that the believer comes to be one spirit with Christ; this mystery is great, and beyond the reach of that little light I injoy: Onely I shall communicate what I conceive, in these three following Conclusions: 1. That the Spirit of God (the third person in the Trinity) doth really accompany the whole Word, but more especially the precious promises of the Gospel: 2. The Spirit (accompanying the promise of grace and salvation) it doth therein, and thereby leave a supernatural dint and power, a spiritual, and over-powering vertue upon the soul, and thereby carries it, and brings it unto Christ: it is not so much any thing in the soul, as a spiritual assisting, and moving, and working up­on the soul, by vertue whereof it is moved and carried to the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. The Spirit of grace in the promise work­ing thus upon the heart, it causeth the heart to close with the promise, and with it self in the promise; and this is to be one spi­rit. As it is with the Moon (the Philosopher observes, That the eb­bing and flowing of the Sea, is by vertue of the Moon) she flings her beams into the sea, and not being able to exhale as the Sun doth, she leaves them there, and goes away, and that draws them, and when they grow wet, they return back again; Now the sea ebbs and flows, not from any principle in it self, but by ver­tue of the Moon: so the heart of a poor creature is like the wa­ter, unable to move towards heaven, but the Spirit of the Lord doth bring in its beams, and leaves a supernatural vertue by them upon the soul, and thereby draws it to it self.

Hence an Use of Instruction: This may shew us that the sins Ʋse 1. of Instruction. of the faithful, are grievous to the blessed Spirit; not onely be­cause of mercies, bonds and engagements which the believer hath received; but because a man is come so neer to Christ and the Spirit, to be one Spirit with Christ: Should a wife not onely en­tertain a whoremonger into the house, but also lodge him in the same bed with her husband, this were not to be endured; and wilt thou receive a company of base lusts, and that in the very face and sight of the Lord Jesus Christ? What? lodge an unclean spirit, with the clean Spirit of the Lord! the holy Ghost cannot endure this: Let no filthy communication come out of your mouth, Ephes. 4. 29. What if there do? (you may say) what? a Chri­stian Ephes. 4. 29. [Page 68] and a Lyar? a Christian and a Swearer? O grieve not the holy Spirit of God, because by it you are sealed unto the day of Eph. 4. 30. Redemption: The good Spirit of the Lord hath sealed you unto Redemption, and knit you unto himself, and will you rend your selves from him and grieve him? O grieve not the holy Spirit!

2. For Examination; If thy heart be therefore estranged from such as walk exactly before God, because they are hum­ble Ʋse 2. of Examination. and faithful; it is an ill sign; when they are made one spirit with Christ, wilt thou be of two spirits with them? I confess a godly heart wil have his fits and excursions now and then, but all this while this is poyson, and the soul of a godly man sees this and is weary of it, and is marvellously burthened with it, and saith, O vile wretch that I am, what would I have! and what is he, that I cannot love him? Is it because the good Spirit of the Lord is there? shall I resist the good spirit of the Lord? and so commit the sin against the holy Ghost? away thou vile wretched heart, I will love him: Thus the soul labors and strives for that exactness, and would fain have that goodness which he sees in another.

Secondly, as there is an Ʋnion with Christ, so there is a con­veyance of all spiritual grace from Christ, to all those that believe in him: If you would know the Tenure of this Covenant, and how Christ conveyeth these spiritual graces unto us, it discovers it self in these Particulars: 1. There is fully enough in the Lord Jesus Christ for every faithful soul. 2. As there is enough in Christ, so Christ doth supply or communicate whatsoever is most fit. 3. As the Lord doth communicate what is fit, so he doth preserve what he doth bestow and communi­cate. 4. As the Lord doth preserve what he communicates, so he quickens the grace that he now doth preserve. 5. As the Lord quickens what he preserves, so he never leaves till he perfects what he quickens. 6. As the Lord perfects what he quickens, so in the end he crowns all the grrace he hath perfected: And now may I read your Feoffment to you, You poor Saints of God, you live beggarly and basely here: Oh! if you have a Savior you are made for ever; it is that which will maintain you, not onely Chri­stianly, but Triumphantly; what you want, Christ hath, and what is fit, Christ will bestow; if you cannot keep it, he will preserve it for you; if you be sluggish, he will quicken it in you; what would you have more? he will perfect what he quickens; and [Page 69] lastly, he will crown that he perfects, he will give you an immor­tal Crown of Glory for ever and ever.

Hence we see whether the Saints of God should go to fetch Ʋse of Information. succor and supply of whatsoever grace they want, yea increase and perfection of what they have already; Christ is made all in all to his Servants; why then, away to the Lord Jesus; he calls and invites, I counsel thee to buy of me eye-salve; if thou be an accursed Rev. 3. man, buy of Christ Justification; if thou be a polluted creature, buy of Christ Sanctification: With thee is the well-spring of life Psal. 31. (saith David) and in thy light we shall onely see light: it is not with us, but with thee; it is not in our heads, or hearts, or per­formances, 'tis onely in Christ to be found, onely from Christ to be fetched: I deny not but we should improve all means, and use all helps, but in the use of all, seek onely to a Christ, with him is the well of life; away to Christ, wisdom, righte­ousness, &c. all is in him, and there we must have them.

You will say, What are the means to obtain these graces from Christ? I answer: First, eye the Promise daily, and keep it within view. Secondly, yield thy self, and give way to the stroak of the Promise, and to the power of the Spirit; for in­stance, Imagine thy heart begins to be pestered with vain thoughts, or with a proud haughty spirit, or some base lusts and privy haunts of heart, how would you be rid of these? you must not quarrel, and contend, and be discouraged; No, but eye the promise, and hold fast thereupon, and say, Lord, Thou hast pro­mised all grace unto thy Servants, take therefore this heart, and this minde, and these affections, and let thy spirit frame them a­right according to thine own good will; by that spirit of wisdom (Lord) inform me, by that spirit of Sanctification (Lord) cleanse me from all my corruptions; by that spirit of grace (Lord) quicken and inable me to the discharge of every holy service: Thus carry thy self, and convey thy soul by the power of the Spirit of the Lord, and thou shalt finde thy heart strengthned and succoured by the vertue thereof upon all occasions.

For conclusion (to dart this use deeper into your hearts) If Conclusion. every believer be joyned with Christ, and from Christ there be a conveyance of all spiritual graces unto every believer; then a­bove all labor for a Christ in all things: Never let thy heart be quieted, never let thy soul be contented until thou hast obtained [Page 70] Christ. Take a Malefactor on whom Sentence is passed, and execution to be administred, suggest to him how to be rich, or how to be pardoned, how to be honored, or how to be par­doned, he will tell you, Riches are good, and honors are good, but O a pardon or nothing: Ah, but then should you say, he must leave all for a pardon; he will answer again, Take all, and give me a pardon, that I may live, though in poverty, that I may live, though in misery: So it is with a poor believing soul, Every man that hath committed sin, must suffer for sin, saith Justice; the Sentence is passed, Every man that believes not, is condemned Ioh. 3. 18. already, saith our Savior, What would you have now? thou sayest, thou wouldst have a pardon, but wouldst thou not have riches? Alas! What is that to me (saith the soul) to be rich and a reprobate? honored and damned? let me be pardoned, though im­poverished; let me be justified, though debased, yea though I never see good day: Why then labor for a Christ, for there is no other way under heaven; get a broken-heart, get a believing heart; but O above all, get a Christ to justifie thee, get a Christ to save thee: If I could pray like an Angel, could I hear and remember all the Sermon, could I confer as yet never man spake, what is that to me, if I have not a Christ? I may go down to Hell for all that I have or do; yet take this along, and understand me Note. aright, Christ is not onely a Savior of all his, but he is the God of all grace; as he is the God of all pardoning, so he is the God of all purging and purifying unto the soul of each believer: grace therefore is good, and duties are good, seek for all, we should do so, perform all, we ought to do so; but Oh, a Christ, a Christ, a Christ, in all, above all, more then all. Thus I have shewed the way to the Lord Jesus, I have shewed you also how you may come to be implanted into the Lord Jesus; and now I leave you in the Hands of a Savior, in the Bowels of a Redeemer, and I think I cannot leave you better.

FINIS. Soli Deo Gloria.

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