A Glass of Justification, OR THE VVORK OF FAITH WITH POVVER. Wherein the Apostles Doctrine touching Justifica­tion without the Deeds of the Law, is opened; and the sence in which Gospel-obedience, as well as Faith, is necessary to Justifi­cation, is stated. Wherein also the nature of that dead Faith is detected, by which multitudes that hope for Salvation are (as is to be feared) deceived; and the true nature and distinguishing properties of the Faith of Gods Elect, is handled. Finally, the Doctrine of the imputation of Faith for Righte­ousness is herein also briefly discussed; and the great wisdom and folly of men about the proof of their Faith, touched. Published on purpose to rectifie some dangerous, and other damning mistakes of Men about their Faith, and expectation of Ju­stification thereby; and to awaken and quicken all to the Work of Faith with Power. By William Allen, a poor Servant to the Lord Jesus.

What doth it profit, my Brethren, though a man say he hath Faith, and have not Works? Can faith save him? James 2.14.

LONDON, Printed by G. Dawson, for Francis Smith, and are to be sold at his Shop, in Flying Horse Court in Fleetstreet, near Chancery-Lane end. 1658.

To that small Remnant of Christs Lit­tle Flock which are wont to wait on him in his PUBLICK WORSHIP, at their place of Assembly in Loathbury, London. The Author truly desireth a being filled with all the fulness of God: As he does also to all the Churches of like constitution, for whose use this Address is secondarily intended.

Dearly Beloved Brethren,

Sect. 1 I May truly say, that if any others besides your selves shall receive any benefit by the publica­tion of the following Discourse, they will be in good part debters unto you for it: for that it was never like to have come abroad, had not your Desires and Requests, prepared its way. What sence you had of the usefulness of these Sermons to your selves, and what desires and hopes you had of their producing the like effect in others by this publication, you your selves best know: but this I may say, that it was your professed experience of the former, and your good perswasion of the latter, that indu­ced me to undertake a Work of this nature, which (circum­stances considered in my case,) I fore-saw as since I have found, would be to me a business of no small difficulty.

You that have had so great a desire hereby to promote the good of others, will I hope, and am perswaded, be very care­ful to improve this new opportunity of a further inriching your selves with the knowledge, sense, and savour of the Doctrine contained in this Book, as a thing then which I know not wherein you are more concerned. But Experi­ence shews, that it is not an overly hearing or cursory read­ing though of things of highest import to the Soul; such as are the way, means, method and terms of mans Justification before God, and of the apparent danger that men are in of being mistaken hereabout; and through this mistake, of missing Justification it self: I say it is not a perfunctory do­ing of these matters, that will fill the soul with any due sense of these things. For how many are there that frequently hear, and sometimes read things that for the nature of them make the spirits of others to burn and boil within them, and yet they themselves hardly at all moved thereby? or if they do for the present, just while they are under the immediate force of them, work some little relentings and faint wishes that things were better with them, yet such motions soon va­nish like a dream when a man awaketh, which while he was dreaming of it, did somewhat affect him. If then you would have this labour of mine (which yet is not so much mine as Gods, by whose help you have it) truly to serve you, not only by informing you more perfectly about the termes of your Justification, but also in quickening you to more abun­dant care and diligence about the making good your title to the promise of Justification it self; Then in reading hereof let your mind be as much upon the temper of your heart and tenour of your life, as your eye is upon the Book; and com­pare the Work of the one, with the Doctrine of the other. And be often making a pause, and putting the question to your Conscience; are things so and so with me? or does my Faith work thus and thus as there you will find in the disco­very of the living and dead Faith. The effect of which carri­age [Page] of yours according to this counsel of mine, you will find through the blessing of God to be, that when you find the evidence of your faith (which is your title to life) not to be so clear, nor of so perfect an appearance in this and that, as in a matter of that consequence were to be desired, you will thereby be stirred up to give all diligence to make your cal­ling and election sure, by amending what is amiss about the proof of your faith, and by adding what is lacking to it.

And when you shall feel the lively impressions, which it may be a close consideration of the Doctrine of this Treatise hath wrought in you in the hearing of it, or shall work in you by the reading of it; I say when these impressions decay and want reparation, your wisdome then will be, to get close to that fire again where you had your former heat, and that will warm you again: stand by those words of eternal life, and hear them talk to you a while, (Prov. 6.22.) When thou a­wakest, it shall talk with thee) and they speaking with fiery tongues, will kindle upon you, and put you into a flame, Luke 24.32. Did not our heart burn within us, while he tal­ked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? And this do as oft as there is need, by calling to mind what you have heard, or what you shall have here read in this kind: for as the often rubbing of one hand against another, will keep them warm in cold weather; So the frequent exer­cising of the mind with this holy and heavenly Doctrine, will preserve the spirit from growing chill, and more especi­ally from freezing. And if the particulars of matter which have, or which shall have affected you in this kind, shall at a­ny time escape your memory, as Nebuchadnezzars dream did his, with which he had been so much affected, (Dan. 2.5.) you have here put into your hand that which will be a present help to you at such a pinch: So that God hath one way or other abundantly provided you with means for your furtherance in grace in reference both to the information of your judgments, quickning of your wills and affections, and [Page] the helping of your memories, and all in order to your god­ly conversation and Saintly walk.

Sect. 2 It remains therefore that I as one (though but a poor one God knows) of the dressers of this little Vineyard of the Lord, in which every one of you particularly profess your selves to be of the planting of the Lord; I say it remains now that I in my Heavenly Lord and Masters name do call for, and demand fruit of every one of you, both of this and all other the labours, cost and pains which have through the Lords succour and assistance, been bestowed upon you both by my self, and by him who hath served with me in the same Work; with what love and Faithfulness to you, the Lord best knows, and your Consciences I trust in part can witness, It is true, we have an account to give of your Souls; (and O the weight of such a burden and care of such a charge! little does he know it whose Conscience does not feel it,) but then know ye and consider it, that you have an account also to give of all the Heart-affecting care, Godly jealousie and fear, pain­ful study and labour in the Word and Doctrine, which God knows is sustained and used in discharge of our trust towards you. And O that our mutual care in discharge of our duties towards each other may be found such as that both you and we may give up our accounts together to Jesus the chiefe Shepheard of the Sheep, with joy and not with grief! In respect of our own persons, alass how little is expected from you! We can, and you know we can truly say, We seek not yours but you, (2 Cor. 12.14.) But that which puts you under the greater obligation to us-ward in respect of Office, is that relation in which we stand between the Lord and you, as be­ing those vessels, earthen ones indeed, by which Jesus Christ is sending and ministring to you from time to time, nourish­ment and Food for your Souls. And what ever gifts we have, or what ever labour we bestow among you, they are not so much ours, as the Lords, it is not so much from us, as from the Lord from whom we receive all, and by whom we [Page] are inabled to do all: and it is his care and love towards you to furnish you with any that have a mind carefully to watch for your souls. From whence it is that the Lord expects fruit from you as due to him upon account of our labour and ser­vice among you: and for the same reason it is that in his name I demand it of you: and upon the same account that saying of the Apostle will take place, 1 Thes. 4.8. He there­fore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also gi­ven unto us his Holy Spirit.

But that which may well render this demand of mine as ac­ceptable unto you as it is reasonable in it self, is this; that though I demand Fruit, yet I demand fruit that may abound to your account, Phil. 4.17. For however the Lord by your yielding fruit will be well pleased, and his holy name and truth glorified, and you shall thereby become to us also a Joy for the present, and a crown of rejoycing in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming (1 Thes. 2.19.) yet in the issue, all the glory you shall bring to God, and all the good you shall procure to men by rendering unto the Lord fruit in season, will return into your own bosom; you shall eat of the fruit of your doing: if you have your fruit unto holinesse, the end will be to you everlasting life: (Rom. 6.22.) and the more fruit in holinesse now, the more fruit in happinesse then when you shall be rewarded by him who will render to every one according to their works, both for kind and degree: if thou be wise thou shalt be wise for thy self, Pro 9.12.

Sect. 3 Brethren, I beseech you hear me: if you shall but lay this thing to heart, if the sense of what the Lord hath done and is doing for you to make you fruitful, shall but procure from you an earnest desire and care to answer the Lords expectati­on herein, and to yield him a crop of the seed which he hath sown; you shall thereby secure unto your selves the Lords constant care of you, and prepare the way of a gratious mul­tiplication and increase of prosperous and thriving applicati­ons of the Lord to you. Every branch that beareth fruit, he [Page] purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit, saith Christ the true Vine, John 15.2. It encourageth a man to bestow more and more cost upon his Vineyard, or upon his land when he finds it to quit his cost in an answerable return of fruit. And so will the Lord rejoyce over you to continue and increase the means of your growth, & to prosper them more & more for your encrease in grace, if you be but found fruit-bearing branches. As he will then delight to go down into his gar­den to gather fruit among you, so he will blow upon his gar­den too with a heavenly breath to cause the spices thereof to flow out, and your savour shall be as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed.

Sect. 4 And as the Lord in this case will spare for no cost that you may yield him more of that fruit, which his Soul so loves, so to be sure there shall be no care wanting to fence you, that no wild beasts break in upon you to make havock and spoile. There's no man but takes most care of those trees that yield the best and most fruit; and its most certain that the eye of the Lord is chiefly upon those plants which yeild him the best increase both for quantity and kind. Such a vineyard is indeed regularly capable of that care, protection, and tendence of which the Lord speaketh, saying, I the Lord doe keep it, I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day, Isa. 27.3. And I hope you are sensible that its no small priviledge for you to have God to set a hedge about you, and to watch over you in times of such spirituall dan­ger as these are in which you live.

You know there are beasts of prey that are seeking to break in here, and to creep in there; Foxes, little Foxes that seeke to spoyl the Vines that bear tender Grapes, Cant. 2.15. Among which the Quaker is not the least active, who under a pretence of singular holinesse, and with two faces under one hood, have overthrown the faith of some, touching the ex­cellency and necessity of the holy Scriptures, touching the Resurrection of the body of our Lord, and his personal ses­sion [Page] at Gods right hand, and his coming again in person at the end of this world to judg the quick and the dead, & in ma­ny other things: this you or at least some of you have proved and found though their equivocations, subtile evasions, and reservations of their particular and punctual opinions, hereabout under general expressions have rendered their here­tical deceit herein of a harder preception and a more difficult discerning: which many unstable souls abroad in the world, not having been able to discover, have taken the hook, while it hath been covered with a tempting bait of some deceivable appearance.

And if I am not much mistaken in scriptural prophesies, and predictions touching the events of these last times, the Churches of Christ are like to be tryed with more and more subtile, refined, soul-insnaring temptations, such as if it were possible should deceive the very elect. For as the devils pollicie by longer experience, is and will be more and more improved, so his snares, stratagems, and methods of deceving, will be carryed on with more art and plausible appearances: his former wiles having by experience been pretty well dis­covered and laid open, he will come forth with new devices and cunning fetches, and tricks of deceiving more sublime and spirituall: so that he must have a good eye, that shall not take him for an angel of light, and his Ministers for Mi­nisters of righteousnesse, 2 Cor. 11.14, 15. we see already that he does frequently & familliarly cheat men and women of their faith, & in exchange for it gives them some new devised forms of notion, expression, and action, by which they fancy themselves to have attained the end of their faith, and to be now in the resurrection and to have passed the Judgment, and to be now in the actual possession of eternal life. And to make his counterfeit coyn the more passable, what does he but mix it with some currant mony? (allows, yea prompts his deceived ones, in their conversation among men in some things to wear the sheeps clothing) that whilst mens eye is upon that [Page] he may secretly insinuate to them that all the rest is of the same stamp and mettal, which many that are easie of belief, there­upon take by content, and so are cheated. And he finely co­vers over all with Scripture expression, as if he were a Friend to Christ, and would build with him, whilst he teaches un­learned and unstable souls to wrest those Scriptures to their own destruction, and to carry them quite from the mark at which they aim. And as he finds his time of deceiving and doing mischief to grow shorter and shorter, so you may ac­cordingly expect to be put so much the more to it, by all and all manner of temptations and assaults, which either his policy or restless rage can set on Foot, Rev. 12.12.

Sect. 5 These things being so, of which I desire faithfully, and in the fear of God to warn you, and if it were possible, the whole Church of God; believe me it concerns you to seek by all means to interess your selves in the defence of the Al­mighty, and to carry it so, that you may alwaies be under his watchful eye and care. I hope you are all sensible that it is the Lord that keepeth the feet of his Saints, and that by his own strength no man shall prevail: (1 Sam. 2.9.) and I hope you can truly say, My defence is of God which saveth the up­right in heart, Psalm 7.10. He that is strongest among you, and most like a Champion of the Lord to fight his Battels, would soon become weak as a Child in the hand of strong Temptations if God should but a little leave him. Remem­ber Hezekiah, who though for the general bent of his heart it was said of him, That he trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the Kings of Judah, nor any that were before him, (2 King. 18.5.) yet at one turn when God did but leave him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart, he fell till God helped him up again, 2 Chron. 32.25, 31. Ahd when that servant of God, Psal. 73.2. saies, But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipt: what was the reason I pray you why his feet were not altogether gone, and why his steps did [Page] not wholly slide? He gives you the reason, vers. 23. in these words, Nevertheless I am with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand: God held him by the hand, and therefore though he slipt, yet he did not fall.

Sirs, Would you then be such a People which the Lord your God careth for, and upon whom he sets his eyes from the beginning of the year, even unto the end of the year? (Deut. 11.12.) Would you have neither the Boar of the Wood to waste you, nor the wilde Beast of the field to devoure you? Would every one of you be as a Branch which the Lord hath made strong for himself, (Psal. 80.15.) by fencing it for his own peculiar use and delight? then be sure you bring forth fruit unto God answerable to that cost and care which he hath bestowed upon you; like the Earth that drinking in the rain that cometh oft upon it, bringeth forth Herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, and so receiveth blessing from God? Heb. 6.7. This is the way, and there is not another without this to be kept from being preyed upon, either by those lying Spirits that are gone out into the world to deceive, and which are like to go out, or by some fleshly or worldly lust or o­ther, (for one lust, as one Souldier, may take a man Priso­ner as well as a whole Army) unto one or more of which God hath been wont to deliver those that have not liked to have God (in respect of what he hath graciously bestowed upon them) in due acknowledgement, Rom. 1.28, 29. 2 Thes. 2.11, 12. Psal. 81.11, 12. Do you but remember to keep the word of the Lords patience, and he will not for­get to keep you in or from the hour of temptation that shall come upon all the world to try them, Rev. 3.10.

Sect. 6 But contrariwise, if you (and what I say unto you herein I say unto all the Churches: but if you) notwithstanding all that God hath done for you to make you fruitful, shall be found to be, or shall at any time become like the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts that brought forth wilde Grapes, (Isa. 5.) or an empty Vine like Ephraim, bringing forth [Page] Fruit unto your selves, (Hos. 10.1.) or like the barren fig-tree (Luke 13.6. Matth. 21.19.) bearing only the fair green leaves of Form and Profession without the savoury Fruit of Righteousness and power of Godliness, such as the Lord looks for and loves, I say if thus it should be; by that light which God hath given me from the Scripture, I cannot but Prophesie sad things unto you, such as are the with-holding of those spiritual showers which you have had to make you fruitful, and the plucking up your hedge, and breaking down your wall of Defence, and the cutting of you down from being any Church that Jesus Christ will own.

Gods severity against the Old Testament Church upon this account, happened unto them by way of type or example unto the New Testament Churches, for whose admonition his severe proceedings in this kind are written and recorded, 1 Cor. 10.6.11. Rom. 11.22. And we see that when God had first planted the house of Israel and men of Judah a choice Vine and pleasant Plant, and had built a Wall of par­tion about them, viz. his Ordinances, to distinguish them from the Nations of the Gentiles, and to make them as a Garden enclosed; and had also set a Hedge of his special Providence and Protection about them, and had watered them with Rain from Heaven in the Doctrine of the Law and Prophets, whose Doctrine did drop as the Rain, and whose speech did distil as the dew; and then according to his cost, looking for the good Grapes of Judgement and Righ­teousness, yet instead thereof meeting with the unsavoury and wilde Grapes of Oppression and Crying, what does he do with his Vineyard in this case? What? He commands the Clouds that they rain no rain upon it, (Isa. 5.6.) So that the Complaint was, The Law is no more, her Prophets also find no Vision from the Lord, Lam. 2.9. Whereupon follow­ed a Famine, not of Bread, nor thirst for Water, but of Hearing the Words of the Lord, Amos 8.11. The partition Wall also, to wit, the Law of Commandements contained in [Page] Ordinances (Ephes. 2.14, 15.) he brake down; upon which this Lamentation was taken up, saying, He hath vio­lently taken away his Tabernacle, as if it were of a Garden, he hath destroyed his places of the Assembly: the Lord hath caused the solemne Feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the King and the Priest. The Lord hath cast off his Altar: he hath abhorred his Sanctuary, &c. Lam. 2.6, 7. Finally, The Lord pluckt up and brake down the Hedge of his Protection which had been a Defence to them in their enjoyment and solemnizati­on of his Publick worship, & exposed them unto the grievous molestation and oppression of the enemy: upon which fol­lowed that doleful Complaint, Psal. 80.12, 13. Why hast thou broken down her Hedges; so that all they that pass by the way, do pluck her? The Boar out of the Wood doth waste it; and the wilde Beast of the Field doth devour it.

Behold here you have a taste of Gods sore displeasure a­gainst his own and only Vineyard of old when unfruitful, after sufficient cost and care bestowed on it to make it fertile. And if God spared not the natural Branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee, was the Watch-word of the great Apostle of the Gentiles to a Gentile Church at Rome, Rom. 11.21. And I beseech you Brethren let his Admonition sink down into your ears, and take warning betimes. For where are now I pray you those once famous and flourishing Churches of Corinth, Galatia, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica, the seven Churches of Asia, yea, and of Rome it self, which were plan­ted and watered too by the Apostles themselves? Are not those golden Candlesticks removed out of their place? Are not those Vineyards laid waste? Are not those Fig-trees cut down as cumbering the ground? And what's the reason of all this? Of a truth unfruitfulness hath been the cause of all, and the true reason why the Lord hath let forth his Vine­yard to other Husbandmen, to see if they will render him fruits in their season, Matth. 21.41. And you my Friends, among [Page] others, are those other Husbandmen unto whom the Lord hath how for the present let forth his Vineyards, expecting that Fruit from you which those other Churches, now deso­late, with-held from him. He is now proving you by fre­quent dressings, prunings, waterings, rainings upon, and watchings over, to see if you will bring him forth fruits meet for Repentance, and worthy amendment of life. And if not; remember that word; And now also is the Ax laid to the root of the trees: Every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewen down and cast into the fire, Matth. 3.10. And again, Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh a­way, Joh. 15.2. And a third time also, Luke 13.7. Then said he unto the Dresser of his Vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground? Upon how many Churches have these words taken hold, since they first came forth from the Lord? And the edge of them is not at all blunted with cutting down so many, but is as keen and as ready to do exe­cution now as at the first; and will first or last cut down all unfruitful Churches, and take away all unfruitful branches. And therefore it exceeding nearly concerns you (my dearly beloved) and so it does all the Churches, to take special care that you bring forth fruit, and that your fruit may remain, ac­cording to Christs word, John 15.16.

Sect. 7 For it is not enough if you have run well hitherto, and brought forth fruits until now, except your fruit remain, ex­cept you be as a tree planted by the waters, which shall not cease from yielding fruit, Jer. 17.8. For how did the Apostles many times glory over those first Churches that were plan­ted by them, because of the first fruits of their Faith, love, and patience, wherein they did for a time richly abound? Rom. 1.8. 2 Cor. 9.2. 2 Thes. 1.4. and yet how soon was the glo­ry departed? especially from among some of them, as if their goodness like Ephraims had been but as a morning cloud, or as an early dew that goeth away, (Hos. 6.4.) And the Apo­stles [Page] even while they were yet among them, had too much cause to change their voice concerning them, Gal. 4.20. For many there were then while the Apostles had the dressing of them, who lead the way of that dreadful decay first, and apo­stacy after, in which the Churches themselves (as the event gives cause to fear) following in time, came to utter desolati­on. They were as Jude describes them, Trees whose fruit withered, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, Jude 12. The foundation of their utter eradication and final deso­lation was laid we see in the withering of their fruit, first: I I pray you observe it and fear. It should seem at the first they were not altogether without fruit, but their misery was, they fell into spiritual decayes, their Fruit withered, grew harsh and unkindly, thin, shriveled and blasted. And that which in a short time followed this was, their total barrenness, being without fruit, by which it being manifest they were stark dead, and so no hope left of their bearing Fruit any more, the sad conclusion was, plucking up by the roots.

There were at the first, excellent good things found in the Church of Ephesus, for which Christ commended her, Rev. 2.2, 3. but having lost her first love, and fallen into some de­cay, he threatens her, that except she were made sensible of her sinking condition, remembred from whence she was fallen, and so repented, and did her first works, and recovered her self again, he would come unto her quickly, and remove her Candle­stick out of its place, which since hath come to pass.

Behold then my Brethren, and be astonished and fear, lest you at any time expose your selves to like danger by like de­clinings: Look to your selves, that we loose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward, 2 Jo. 8. Do not bear upon what you have been, and what you have done, but forgetting those things which are behind, be reaching forth to those things which are before, and pressing on toward the mark for the price of your high calling, Phil. 3.13, 14. Remember that better is the end of a thing, then the be­ginning [Page] of it, Eccles. 7.8. For that dissolution and death which is come upon those Churches, recorded both in Old Testament and New; which at the first, and for some time were so promising, and so flourishing, plainly evinceth it to be a far harder matter to hold on well, and so to make a good con­clusion, than it is to set out well, and to make a good begin­ning. What not one of those Churches but miscarried first or last! good Lord what Church, what Christian shall not tremble at the consideration of it! Sirs, you have begun in the Spirit, I beseech you take heed of ending in the flesh: let that never be said to you which Paul spake to a people to whom the Gospel was so precious at the first, as that for the sake of it they received him as an Angel of God, yea even as Christ Jesus, and could have pluckt out their eyes to do him good: Ye did run well, who did hinder you, that ye should not obey the truth? Gal. 4.14, 15 and 5.7. If the Scripture had said nothing to inform you touching your danger of coo­ling and declining, yet this present age in which we live hath furnished you with so many sad precedents and examples of the withering of such whose hopeful beginnings in Christia­nity promised very much, as may sufficiently admonish you to take heed of the like miscarriage. Yea the general decay of that spirit of tenderness, sobriety, and close ingagement of Soul to God, which was found in Christians twenty or thir­ty years ago, when there was less light, and more heat, may well inspire you with a spirit of fear, lest you should be infe­cted with the epidemical disease of this Age.

Sect. 8 There is a danger it's true, of returning back again to those corruptions in Worship, Discipline, and Administation of Holy Ordinances, wherewith many good people that had not the sence of it, were formerly defiled, and from which the light that now shines hath delivered you. And truly I could heartily wish that the miscarriage of too many, whose zeal hath run out more for the Form than Power of Godli­ness, were not so pressing a temptation as it is upon many, to [Page] have a far more light and low esteem of the form and fashion of Gods house, then in truth of right belongs to it. But that which I esteem the greater danger by far, and of which in love and tenderness I warn you, is the placing of Religion chiefly in Form, and mens valuing the goodness of their condition by that, though a lively and fresh savour of the greater things of the Gospel, such as are the daily work of mortification, self-denial, living by Faith, humbleness of mind, sweetness of behaviour, secret and close communion with God, fear of grieving the Spirit, Righteousness, Mercy, Love and Boun­ty, be wanting. For at this door as may be conceived, de­struction entred upon the former Churches; and I pray God it prove not the bane of many now in being.

At that very time when God by his Prophet Esaiah threat­ned his Vineyard, saying, I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be troden down. And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pru­ned, nor digged, but there shall come up briars and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it, (Isai. 5.5, 6.) I say at this very time when God thus threatned that Congregation and chosen people of his for their unfruitful­ness, they did abound in the form, and placed much confidence therein. They had a multitude of Sacrifices, and did abound in Oblations, Incense, New-Moons and Sabbaths: they frequently called Assemblies and solemn Meetings, yea they spread forth their hands, and made many prayers, Isai. 1.11, to 15. The Lord as he sayes, Psal. 50.8. would not reprove them for their Sacrifices and Offerings, for he did acknow­ledg them to have been continually before him, and sayes that he was full of them, Isa. 1.11, to 15. Yea they did seek God daily, and had a delight to know his wayes as a Nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinances of their God, and took delight in approaching to God, Isai. 58.2. And such was their confidence of their acceptation with God upon this ac­count, and for that they added unto all the rest Fasting, as [Page] that they wondred that God should not hear them, and readily help them. And therefore they are brought in expostulating the matter with God thus, Isa. 58.3. Wherefore have we fa­sted, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our Soul, and thou takest no knowledg? They were otherwise unworthy in their wayes, as touching Judgement, Mercy, and the love of God, and yet verily thought themselves to be the onely people of God, and in Covenant with him, and his promi­ses to be theirs, because of that Form of Gods Worship and service which was amongst them. Which way of waiting up­on God, and worshipping him, though of his own appoint­ment, when found in company and conjunction with a car­nal and unholy life otherwise, is mentioned by God as if it were every whit as provoking to him as the great abominati­ons condemned by his Law. And therefore he does not on­ly say that it was iniquity indifinitely, and that he could not away with their devotions, and that his soul hated them, and that they were a trouble to him, and that he was weary to hear them, (Isa. 1.13, 14.) but compares them with the most provoking sins, Idolatry and Murder: He that killeth an Ox, is as if he slew a man: he that burneth Incense, as if he blessed an Idol? and why? they have chosen their own wayes, and their Soul delighteth in their abominations, Isai. 66.3. Just as if God should now compare Preaching, Hearing, Bap­tisme, Prayer, Breaking of Bread, and the holding all the principles of the Doctrine of Christ in opinion and notion, with worshipping of false gods, and murdering of men, while used, held and practised, by men whose conversation is of a carnal and unholy cast. And therefore no marvel if Chur­ches Formality in Religion hastens their destruction; their being Spewed out of the mouth of Christ.

Sect. 9 The Law (saith the Apostle) is good if a man use it lawful­ly, 1 Tim. 1.8.) and so I say of all the Ordinances of Gods House from the greatest to the least of them, they are all good, i. e. a means of good to you, if duly used and kept [Page] within their own bounds, there is a blessing in every one of them; and therefore to loose any of them, is to loose so much of the blessing of God as he hath put into them for your good, and to slight any of them, is to reproach the wisdom and goodness of God which contrived them for your benefit. But if you shall invert the proper order and use of them, if when God hath made them servants as it were to the life of holiness and power of godliness, if you now shall cause these to sit above, and the other to stand below in your hearts; if your heart be more upon them, if your care be more to pro­mote these, if more of your zeal be spent about these then about your own and other mens conformity to Jesus Christ in the inward frame and heavenly temper of the mind, and lowly and lovely deportment in life, for the sake whereof all the Ordinances were ordained: or if you shall value your selves by what you are in these rather than by what you are in that which is the end to which these tend, then shall you put a bar to your spiritual growth in grace and holiness by them, and loose the end for which they are designed by God, and render your selves such as in whom his soul, his spirit will take no pleasure. Circumcision verily profiteth if a man keep the Law, to wit, conscionably in all other things: (Rom. 2.25.) and so Baptism verily profiteth if a man keep the Gospel faithfully in all other the holy enjunctions of it to which his Baptism obligeth him; but if thou be a breaker of the Law, thy Circumcision is made uncircumcision: if you be breakers of the Gospel, the Statutes of Jesus, your Baptism shall be made no Baptism to you: and as the Children of Israel were counted but as Ethiopians unto God, for all their Circumci­sion, so shall you be as Indians unto him, for all your Bap­tism, Amos. 9.7. You know of what it was a sign in the Scribes and Pharisees, to be more zealous of the lesser matters of the Law, than of the greater, Mat. 23.23. And truly I can judge it no better a sign for men to be exact, strict, and punctual in matters of Form, and to be indulgent to wayes and things, [Page] which intrench upon the power of Godliness, like them which strain at Gnats, and swallow Cammels, keeping a stir about that which costs them little, but favouring themselves in what would try their Christianity indeed.

These things I say, not to teach you in the least, to have a slight opinion of any of the Ordinances of the Lord Jesus; no let my tongue rather cleave to the roof of my mouth, than that I should move it or my pen to the disparigement, or a­gainst the honour of any of the sacred Ordinances of the New-Testament. But as it is no disparagement to the Fe­male Sex to say, that the Man was not created for the Woman, but the Woman for the Man, (1 Cor. 11.9.) so is it no disho­nour to the external Form of the Christian Religion and Worship to affirm it to be made for the Power sake: how­beit this I say also, that as the Man is not without the Woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord; so neither is the power of Godliness without the Form, nor the Form without the Power, in the Lord, but both mutually helpful one to a­nother, 1 Cor. 11.11.

My aim and scope then is, to arm you against degenerating into meer Form and Carkass in Religion, without the spirit of life and power, as that which will betray you should you be guilty of it, into the same, or as bad a condition as befel the Apostolical Churches, whose glory was long since laid in the dust. For as this very thing was that which prepared the Congregation of Israel for casting out of Gods sight, as a dead and unsavory Carkass, (as I shewed before) so with­out question it was the same thing which brought the Primi­tive Churches themselves to nothing. Take the Church of Sardis for an instance, who while she was in the Wane, and her Sun going down, but not quite set, received a rouzing ad­monition from Christ, as you may see Rev. 3.2, 3. But what was her Fault, and what was her charge? verify it was this; Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead, verse 1. Her Fault was not that she had a name to live, but that she [Page] had the name without the thing. And what was it that gave her the name to live, or to be alive, but the Form? And what was it that denominated her to be dead, notwithstand­ing the name she had to live, but the want of spiriritiul life and power to inspire her?

And truly Friends we had need the best of us all to set these cautioning, wakening, quickning considerations before our eyes, seeing the danger specified is so great, that few of the ancient Churches have been able to hold out and bear up a­gainst it; and how far prevalent upon the present Churches, I leave to you and to themselves to judg, and seriously to lay to heart: And O that there were not too much cause of la­mentation and sorrow on this account! But whosoever un­der our Form and Way of Profession, shall be found tardy herein, hath the greater sin.

Sect. 10 For you being brought nearer to God in some part of the Form of his Worship, than those that differ from you be (as I know you beleeve you are,) you are in that respect if all o­ther things concur, under the richer advantage of living more up to the life and power of Godliness than they, by how much the pure wisdome of God is more conducible to such an end than that is which hath a mixture of mans. Besides, your withdrawing from the National way and Form, that you might have more close communion with God, bespeaks men to expect some singular thing from you above the rate of all others from whom you withdraw. And therefore if you shall not mightily endeavour to be exemplary in all worthi­ness of behaviour in life and conversation, you will not an­swer the light and opportunity which in some things you pro­fess to enjoy above others, nor honour that Form and Way of yours wherein you differ from other men; but if you be found but like, or it may be worse than many of them, shall you not take a course to expose your selves if not your way too to the scorn and laughter of other men? And O how much have they to answer for do you think, who thorough [Page] their fruitless and scandalous walking, have been a scab and scandal to our way, and have laid a stumbling-block of their haughtiness, disdain, presumption and rashness, and sometimes of looseness too, in the way of other men? By which they as once Elie's Sons, have caused the way of God to be abhorred by some, to be vilified and set at nought by the tongues and pens of others, and the light and beauty of it to be hid and covered from many who otherwise would I am confident have seen and imbraced it. And by which also they have filled their faces with shame, and souls with sorrow, who have designed nothing but peculiarity of Honour to the Gospel, and edification to men by ingaging in that profession: after the same manner as some in the Church of Corinth, were sometime an humbling to holy Paul, by their Debates, Envy­ings, Wraths, Strifes, Back-bitings, Whisperings, Swellings, Tumults, and other enormities that were among them, 2 Cor. 12.20, 21. I write not these things to shame you, but as my be­loved Brethren I warn you, (1 Cor. 4.14.) lest any of you should cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of, as some others have done.

But ye Beloved, if ye have any mind to lift up the head of your way, which the weakness of some, and wickedness of others in it have caused to hang down, and to complain of being fallen into too many ill hands: if you have any desire to open mens eyes to see that which you say you see, and to commend your cause to their Consciences as that which is of God, then labour to outstrip and excel all that dwell a­bout you, in humility, sobriety, meekness, patience, long-sufferance, gentleness, goodness, injustness and fairness of dea­ling, in love, mercy, and bounty, and in your readiness to eve­ry good work. For the most of men are sooner perswaded to think well of this or that way which comes forth in the Name of God, by the goodness of their behaviour that profess it, than by the strength of their Arguments by which they assert it; and better understand the plain language of a [Page] good life, than the subtilties of Disputation. Men may talk over their way long enough before they get any ground of men, unless the goodness of their cause be made to shine through the goodness of their conversations. I nothing doubt but that if the Argument from Life in the Anabaptists (as they will needs call us) did but as far excel those that are contrary minded, as their Argument from Scripture for their way, does excel theirs for their way that oppose them, there would be but few that truly fear the Lord, would be able to hold it out against them. But the unhappiness is, there is some unlovely thing or other, which some that are weak, and others that are unworthy, lay as a stumbling-block in their way, and their eye is so much upon this, as that it causes them to suspect there's somethng worse in the Argument for our way, then they can see.

Sect. 11 Though in the mean while, there is not that Christian Candor and Fairness which might well be expected from those who will needs burden the way of our profession it self, with the unworthiness and wickedness of some of our profession, who are indeed a greater burden unto us, than they are an eye-sore unto them. Nor do they in this play the part of judicious men, as from the strange judgements which have (as they say) befallen many of our profession, to argue the naughtiness of the way and profession it self.

For would it at all follow, that because the sins and abomina­tions that were found among the children of Israel, were more and greater than those in Sodom and Samaria, (Ezek. 16.47, 48, 51.) that therefore the external Form of Worship a­mongst them, and professed by them, was not of God? Or that because in the Apostles time there was such Wickedness among the Christians, as was not so much as named among the Heathen, and many walking in pernicious wayes, (1 Cor. 5.1. 2 Pet. 2.2.) that therefore the Christian Religion and Profession was but a delusion? Or might they not as well conclude, that because such strange and fearful judgements, [Page] one in the neck of another pursued the Congregation of Is­rael first and the several primitive Churches after, as broke both the one and the other in pieces, and left them at last dreadful spectacles of the Lords sore displeasure, that there­fore the Form of Religion and Worship amongst the one peo­ple or the other, was not in their respective times and sea­sons of God, but the contrivement of men? Would it be worthy wise men thus to argue? Or is their arguing against our way from the aforesaid premises, of any better import? I would pray them to judge.

I will not deny but that possibly the Judgments of God may have at times pursued many under our Form, both par­ticular persons and whole Churches, when they have cor­rupted their waies, and turned Religion into meer Form and prided themselves in the Form, as if this of it self would ex­alt them above all others in Gods favour: and this is no­thing but what I have now been foretelling from Scripture grounds, shall yet befall more of them, if they bring forth no other fruit to God but leaves. But this severity of God against particular persons, or Churches that have been under our Form upon the account before specified, is so far from being an argument that our Form is not of God, that it ra­ther turns to an excellent testimony, and amounts to a kind of demonstration, that it is of God.

For by how much the nearer any fort of men have been wont to draw unto God in the Form of his Worship, and yet have been tardy in some extravagances or other that have prophaned or brought disgrace upon the way of God pro­fessed by them, by so much the severer hath the Lord still been found in the way of his proceeding against them. When the Lord in an unusual way of Judgement smote Nadab and Abihu, Priests of the Lord, for their unworthy act, this was the account of it, Levit. 10.3. This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. Upon which ac­count, [Page] above fifty thousand of the men of Bethshemesh and Uzza also, were handled more roughly for being so bold with the Ark, than the Philistines were, 1 Sam. 6. 1 Chron. 13. And its very probable that Annanias and Sa­phira, had never fallen in this world by so severe a stroke as they did for telling a lie, had they not made their approach so near to God as they did, in the Form of their Profession, Acts 5. And in that the Lord was more quick in his Judge­ments inflicted on Israel, and sometimes more severe, than he was in his proceedings against the heathen round about, it was because their sins were so much the more provoking, by how much they were a people nearer to God in Form of Pro­fession, and by special obligation, then others were, Amos 3.2. And when the Lord Christ threatens to spew the Church of Laodicea out of his mouth, for her luke-warmness, Revel. 3.16. he presently adds; as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be Zealous therefore and repent, vers. 19. the near­ness of relation hastens the rod. Is it any argument that the Church of Rome is the true Church of Christ, Or that the Form of her Worship, is of the best kind, because she sits so long as a Queen and sees no mourning, Or because it is so long before her desolation comes? Surely no. For the te­nor of Christs threatnings against Churches under the true Form when once they grew Formal and carnal, run thus; I will come unto thee QUICKLY and will remove thy Candle­stick out of his place, except thou repent, Rev. 2.5. Repent or else I will come unto thee QUICKLY, and will fight a­gainst them with the sword of my mouth, Rev. 2.16. In that God therefore is wont to be so swift a witness against a people under the right Form of professing his name when provoked by unsuitable walking, and yet is so slow as experience proves to take vengeance of the Harlot Church who hath broken the everlasting Covenant, and changed the Ordinances, (the Church of Rome I mean which hath now stood undemolished for many ages,) well may the examples of Gods severity a­gainst [Page] some of your Profession, be a rouzing admonition to you my brethren to fear and tremble before the Lord, and to take heed of Formality in Religion, of unfruitfulness in your way, of scandalous walking, and of espousing any tenent or practice dishonourable to the Gospel or prejudicial to the glorious propagation thereof, the usual fore-runners of Church Desolation, but may not as I conceive, by any means be received as any valid argument against that part of the Form of your Profession it self, wherein you differ from other Christians; I mean of Baptizing after profession of Repentance and Faith, as the onely Scriptural way of entring and admitting persons into visible Communion with the Church, but rather as a proof of the divine original of it.

Sect. 12 But though (as I am very sensible) the many taunts, and reproaches, vilifyings, odious representations, and upbraid­ings of your Profession it self, with the miscarriages of some Professors, and Gods displeasure following such; by which some seek to render both you and your way odious, is very apt to provoke, and the flesh would fain gain an advantage thereby to pay such in their own coyn, and to render evill for evil, reviling for reviling, and to take all advantages to lay open their weaknesses, and to set them in the very eye of all men, as their manner is towards those of your way, yet as I hereby beseech all other our Brethren to refrain here­from, so I am bold towards you by vertue of my charge to enjoyn you in the name of the Lord, and by authority from his word, to do no such thing. For behold I will set before you a better pattern, and that is, of him who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered he threatned not: (1 Pet. 2.23. and of them who when they were defamed, in­treated, (1 Cor. 4.13.) and when they had mischievous things spoken against them, were as a deaf man that heareth not, and as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth, and in whose lips are no reproofs, Psal. 38.12, 13, 14. And the in­junction is strong upon you, 1 Thes. 5.15. See that none [Page] render evil for evil unto any man: and again, be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good, Rom. 12.21. And I must needs warn you against the use of those unhandsome re­flections and that broad language which I find some too apt to use towards their antagonists in their controversal writ­ings, which I utterly dislike, and bear my witness against, as that which is unbeseeming the sobriety and humility of Saints, and which doth greatly wrong and prejudice the cause they plead, in the minds of sober people. Its no matter how sharp and cutting your arguments be, but let them alwaies be wrapt up in soft words. And if ever you would have truth to gain upon men by your mannagement of it, let the manifestation of love and good-will to the men themselves, prepare them to consider and receive what you have to offer. And let it be, and be made appear to be matter of real grief to you that darkness on either side should make you and other good men to differ. Avoid as muuh as in you lies both heights and heats of spirit and language. Speak evil of no man, but be gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men, Tit. 3.2. and re­member that the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instruct­ing those that oppose themselves, 2 Tim. 2.26, 25.

Sect. 13 And when you have done your best to make others of your mind, but cannot; take heed, if you have no better ground then that, of questioning their integrity. Remem­ber how that the Apostles of our Lord heard from Christ but understood not, a Doctrine as great as that of Baptisme, and declared with as much plainness and expresness of words as ever that of Baptism was; and that was the Doctrine of Christs Suffering and Resurrection: see the place Luke 18.31, 32, 33, 34. Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully intreated and spitted on: and they shall scourge [Page] him, and put him to death, and the Third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. Why did they understand none of these things? Was it be­cause the Doctrine was obscurely delivered? certainly no; for neither that nor any other Doctrine could lightly be more plainly delivered then it was. Or did they wilfully shut their eyes against a plain truth? that I suppose no Christian can imagine. But the true reason doubtless was, because they were pre-possessed with a contrary notion and opinion, as their Brethren the Jews amongst whom they lived, and with whom they had been trained up in the tradition of their Fathers, ge­nerally were, and that was, that the Messias should not dye, and consequently not Rise again, as you may see John 12.34. and 20.9. And therefore while this was rooted in their minds, and their thoughts ran strongly upon it, the plainest words of a contrary import, could not enter into their Soul. And wherefore do I present you with this? but to let you know, that its not only possible, but greatly propable, and to me unquestionable, that the disagreement of many in Judgement with you, proceeds from the like cause of a pre­intanglement of mind; and that the true reason why many who do truly fear the Lord (as the Disciples under the fore­said mistake did) do not receive your Allegations and grounds for your way, in opposition to Infant Baptism, nor can understand them to be of God, though as we think plain­ly enough built upon the Scripture, is, because they are deep­ly prepossessed with the contrary opinion, which they have drunk in under the approbation and authority of an ancient Tradition, and recommended to them, not only as a common custom of the most that profess Christianity, but also by the concurrent consent of many both learned and godly men, both heretofore, and now pleading its cause; which may as well make your Doctrine touching your way, as inaccessible to their Judgements, and as incredible to their minds, as Christs [Page] Doctrine touching his Death and Resurrection was to his Disciples, while fore-stalled with a deep impression of a con­trary opinion, ushered into the mind, and rivited in the Soul, by the seeming authority of the Tradition of the Elders. The zeal to which Traditions, was such a block in Paul's way, as (Gal. 1.13, 14.) though he served God with a pure conscience from his forefathers, as he himself testifies, (2 Tim. 1 3) and so had a zealous mind both to know and do the will of God, profiting in his Religion above his equals, yet his mind being swallowed up with zeal of those traditions that were con­trary to the main Principles of the Gospel, touch­ing the Death and Resurrection of Christ, John 12.34.) he could not by all that light which shone in the Doctrine and Miracles of the Apostles, see the truth to be the truth, till an unusual light from Heaven which shone to him in the way to Damascus, delivered him from being any longer captive to those Traditions. And that which hath been the case of some, may be, and doubtless is the case of o­thers; For the thing that hath been, (as the Wise-man saith, Eccles. 1.9.) It is that which shall be, and there is no new thing under the Sun.

And therefore you see there may be reason and cause enough for you to fix mens dissenting from you, upon, ano­ther ground than want of integrity, and truness of love to the Truth, so far as discerned. And truly Sirs, where there is a better Foundation for you to fix their dissenting from you on, the Law of Charity forbids you to seek a worse. And I nothing doubt, but that there are many, concerning whom you have sufficient cause to judge, that if they saw as you see, would readily do as you do, in that wherein you do worthily. Do you not remember that your hearts, (for many of you) were sincere to God for many years, whilst you were of their perswasion? And would not they have made a wrong judgement if any should then have questioned your integrity upon account of you not seeing what they saw? [Page] And therefore surely your own experience herein, obliges you to judge the best of others, who now are what you once were. And therefore my exhortation is, that with all Chri­stian respect and love you own and honour such, so far as they and you have attained the same thing. There will ma­ny be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, that have built up­on Christ the onely Foundation, some of whose works not­withstanding shall burn, that have been unduly built on that Foundation through misprision, and they themselves suffer loss upon that account, 1 Cor. 3.14, 15. And therefore though it will be very safe for you to reject those works, when yon discover them to be such as will bring loss with them to those that imbrace them, yet it will be your wis­dome to receive and imbrace those persons themselves in the arms of Christian love, whom the Lord will receive, and with whom you hope to triumph in bliss for evermore.

Sect. 14 Touching the Ministry of the Nation, take one word of advice from me, which I am fully perswaded is agreeable to the mind of the Lord. Where you find any in whom there appears a true love to mens souls, and an earnest desire to gain men to God by preaching wholesome Doctrine, take heed of discouraging them in that work upon account of any difference of judgement between you and them. And take heed of hindering the success of their labours this way, by blemishing them in the eyes of men, or underminding their reputation in the hearts of the people. You will do Christi­anly in an humble, wise, and faithful way to labour all you can to make them and the people they preach to, one with you in the truth, and to bring them under rule, wherein up­on good grounds, you apprehend disorder in their way. But yet be sure you acknowledge their zeal to mens salvation, as a most worthy thing and honourable in them, and greatly re­joyce when you see the success of their faithful labours, zeal, and love, in any mans soul. Do not think but that God which blessed their and their predecessors labours to many of [Page] our souls, (which we have cause with thanksgiving unto God for ever to remember) may also prosper their endeavours with like success to many others. And God forbid that any of us should by any indiscreet zeal, hinder the salvation of men, while we design the promotion thereof. Remember that the souls of men are precious things, and that it becomes you to act with fear and trembling in things wherein they are much concerned; else you may like an unskilful Midwife, destroy them, whilst you design to deliver and save them. Edification and Salvation is the end of Ordinances and the or­derly Administration of them, and the means are to be more or less strained so as the end may best be provided for, not to the laying of any Ordinance or Gospel Order totally aside, but in urging them as men are able to bear them with safety of the edification of their souls in the main, Rom. 14.1. For look what the safety of the people is in Civils, that Edifica­tion is in Spirituals, to wit, the supream Law to which all must stoop. And therefore when the strict observation in the letter of such or such a Law, falls out to cross the end of its own institution, as sometimes it may; whether it does not so far and in that case, and for that time, loose its power of obliging to the letter, is a thing worthy your serious conside­ration. Especially considering that Christ seems to ex­cuse a litteral breach of the Sabbath in his Disciples, upon a like ground, saying, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, Mark 2.27. The Sabbath was made for man; that is, for mans ease, rest, and refreshing: for this plainly was one end of the Sabbath, Exod. 23.12. Deut. 5.14. And therefore when the forbearance of such an act of bo­dily labour as the gathering of ears of corn, and preparing them for food (which bodily labour in the strictness of the letter in ordinary cases, would have been unlawful, Exod. 16.27, 28, and 35.3.) crossed that refreshing of nature for which God intended the Sabbath, the Law of the Sabbath prohibiting such labour, lost its force in that case, and for that [Page] time. I confess it requires much skill and judgment to make this practicable in particular cases; but I offer it that you might be thinking of it.

Let the answer of Christ to his Disciples in another case, satisfie you in this, Mark 9.38, 39. verses, And John answered him, saying, Master we saw one casting out Devils in thy Name, and he followeth not us, and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, forbid him not, for there is no man that shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. Though this man did not con­cur with the Disciples in that orderly way of following Christ, yet as long as he did men good by using his name, Christ would not have him taken off, or to be prohibited to act. If any the Ministers I now speak of, have so much faith in the name of Christ, and love to the souls of men, as to be casting the Devil out of their souls by the word of Christ, its ten thousand pitties to hinder them. If you can by any means be an help to them to do it better, as Aquilla and Priscilla were to Apollos, (Act. 18.26.) well and good, but never forbid any man the doing good because he does not do it in the best way. Pauls temper is your safe pattern, who rejoyced that Christ was preached and the Gospel spread, al­though not alwaies by the best and purest hand. What then? (saith he) notwithstanding evary way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoyce, yea and will rejoyce, Phil. 1.18.

Sect. 15 And now having this opportunity before me, I shall crave leave of some of my Brethren that have the oversight of Chur­ches, (for all do not so much need it) to exhort and beseech them, diligently to labour in the word and doctrine, not only by a frequent preaching of it, but also by a diligent medita­tion and study in it; So that when they preach, they may preach upon the most edifying and quickning terms. Which yet what is it more than Pauls exhortation to Timothy? whose gifts doubtless, might better have exempted him from [Page] that charge than any of ours can: Give attendance to read­ing; meditate on these things: give thy self wholly to them: Study to shew thy self approved unto God, a workman that need­eth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth: take heed unto thy self and to thy doctrine, continue in them, and the like, 1 Tim. 4.13, 15, 16. 2 Tim. 2.15. You cannot be igno­rant what advantage is made of it against our way, when any opportunity can be taken hold of to object the lowness of parts, and rawness of matter, among those of our way, that undertake the great work of teaching. And I am very sen­sible that too much advantage in this kind is given by some, who out of an odd conceit and humour (for it is no better) of declining the way of the National Ministry, decline also the best way of edifying the people.

I know very well that there hath been wont to be a great deal of vain curiosity used many times among many of the National way; as if they bestowed more thoughts upon me­thod and quaintness of expression, than upon matter; more cost upon the triming, than upon the garment it self: as if they designed more to take the ear of their auditory, then to touch the conscience: a vanity, shall I say to be laughed at, no, but to be lamented, that ever such should undertake the feeding of souls, that have no more sense of what belongs to it. But where any out of faithfulness to mens souls, and out of an earnest desire to convince, convert and edifie them, shall soberly and gravely contrive their Sermons into such a Form, as by which the understanding may be most fed, and the con­science best come at, and the sence and majesty of the Scrip­tures in their scope and coherence, in their consociations and emphasis, rendred most lightsome, cutting and quick; it would be a lamentable weakness for any to take another course, not because its better, but because it is another, or to think it better because another. For one Christian to differ from another where there is cause, is commendable, but to affect to differ more than needs must, argues a frame of spi­rit [Page] far different from blessed Pauls, who became all things to all men, (so far as possibly he might with a good Conscience) that he might by all means save some, 1 Cor. 9.22. Edifica­tion is the end of preaching; that course therefore in prepa­ring to preach, and that way and method in preaching, that tends most to edification, and so reaches its end, is certainly the best. But all experience proves against all contradiction, that as the case is with us, who speak not upon like terms of special inspiration as the Apostles did; laborious study, with prayer in preparing to preach, and an orderly proceeding from one thing to another in preaching, is most edifying and profitable, both to the Preacher himself, and they to whom he preaches; and being so, it becomes a duty, by vertue of that general rule, 1 Cor. 14.12. Seek that you may excel to the edifying of the Church. Who ever hath the best gift of speaking extempore to the edification of the People, (as some do much excel others therein) shall yet much improve his a­bility of speaking more to their edification by a due and con­venient proportion of premeditation & study. And therefore when men may do better, and do not; that Scripture would be thought on, Mal. 1.4. Cursed be the deceiver, that hath a Male in his Flock, and voweth and sacrificeth to the Lord a cor­rupt thing.

Neither is it my intent at all that any man should so lean upon his studies and preparations, as to tie himself to any Form of words and expression, or in the least to lessen his humble and hearty dependance upon the Lord for assistance; but that he should in a deep sense of the weightiness and won­derful concernment of the work, and of the vast dispropor­tion that is between the service in the glory of it, and his abi­lities that undertakes it, intirely depend upon the Lord for largeness of heart towards the People, for freedome of mind, and clearness of thoughts, for wisdome, courage, and liberty of speech, to declare the matter prepared upon the plainest, clearest, most affecting and most edifying terms, together [Page] with what else the Lord shall bring to mind to accommodate and issue the discourse. Nor does the promise which God hath made of giving his spirit, and of pouring out gifts, or the like, render the diligent labours and studies of the Ministers of the Gospel needless, any more than Gods promise of the earths bringing forth her increase, does excuse the Husband­man the diligent labour of plowing and sowing, which as the Prophet observes is the fruit of the instruction or teaching of God, Isa. 28.24, 25, 26. When God made promise of gi­ving unto the Preacher, such wisdome as none had before him, or should have after him, (1 King. 3.12.) he did not there­by exempt him from, but rather oblige him to the utmost search, labour, and travel in getting wisdome, and methodi­cal contrivement of things in the improvement of it, for o­thers instruction. To his obtaining of what God had promised in this kind, see his behaviour, as he himself expresseth it, Eccles. 1.13. The Preacher was King over Israel in Jerusalem, and I gave my heart to seek and to search out by wisdome, con­cerning all things that are done under heaven: This sore travel hath God given, (mark that) unto the Sons of men to be exer­cised therewith. And for his improvement of his great wis­dome upon the best terms for others instruction, and this as a fruit of his wisdome too, see what he did, Eccles. 12.9, 10. Moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the peo­ple knowledge; yea he gave good heed, and sought out and SET IN ORDER many Proverbs. The Preacher sought out the matter, and disposed that matter into order, by which he taught the people. And therefore let the Quakers baul against this way of proceeding, as if an argument of the spirits absence (the spirit of whose way is to undermine the way and means of sound knowledge, and to introduce grosse ignorance, as may easily be discerned by those that have their eyes in their heads) but let those that are studious of the peo­ples edification, make conscience of it, as that in which the spirit is delighted, not limitted.

When the Apostle saith, Let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teacheth, in all things, (Gal. 6.6) and that the Lord hath so ordained, that they that preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel, (1 Cor. 9.14.) and the like; upon what account may we think is it so ordained? but as for other reasons, so especially because a due attendance up­on the work of that Office of Teaching, will in great part take them off who are faithfully ingaged in it from those secular imployments, by which others get their livings. Which yet it would not do, if a great deal more time were not to be taken up in premeditation and prayer, preparation-wise, then is wont to be expended in preaching at the times of Church-Assemblies, in which the whole Church do or ought to spend as much of their time in hearing, as they do in preaching. Which consideration alone, if there were not many more, methinks is enough to perswade all those that take upon them the weighty work of preaching, to make it matter of con­science, to spend much of their time in making provision for the work.

Sect. 16 But when it lies as a duty upon the Congregations them­selves, to make such provision for their Teachers and Over­seers, as by which they may be enabled to consecrate at least much of their time to that service. For otherwise how should the full tale of Brick be provided, when Straw is denyed to make them with? And truly I fear that some have been fain to make a vertue of a necessity; to use to preach without much premeditation and study, for that the necessity of getting themselves and Families bread, hath cut them short of that opportunity. But where ever Teachers are put upon that ne­cessity, it is the Churches sin, if they have power in their hands to prevent it. For what duty is more express than this of the Churches supporting their Teachers, their Rulers in their work? 1 Cor. 9.6, to 14. Gal. 6.6. Matt. 10.10. Luke 10.7. 1 Tim. 5.17, 18. And therefore in the name of God let none that seem to be tender in some things, have no sense [Page] of others which are as plain as those; for thats an ill sign. Would those Elders, would those Churches where those neg­lects are I now speak of, take Gods way in this as well as in some other things, I doubt not but a little time through Gods blessing, would render them (other things concurring) far more flourishing (provided meet instruments be pitcht upon) than now they are, or are ever like to be, without it.

Sect. 17 For while this way of a studious labouring in the Word, is omitted or neglected, whether through any wry opinion in the Teacher, as if there were no necessity of such a thing; or through his idleness and lasiness, as the bottom of it; or through the fault of the Church in with-holding that outward supply and support, without which few have the opportuni­ty, though they should have the will; I say where this omis­sion or neglect is, however it comes about, this usually is a­mong the rest, one evil naughty consequence of it, viz. the little and low esteem which the people have of their Pastors, to their own great detriment and spiritual losse. For while the Elders shall but observe the common course of daily me­ditation in the Word, which is every common Christians du­ty, they will be able to speak but little more to the edificati­on of the People, than other common Christians which are in no such Office, can do. And if the Elders preaching, prove little more to the edification of the People than the common exhortations of Brethen do, which cost them little or no stu­dy, (not to mention the mischief of such Brethrens being som­times puft up hereby, to their fall,) it will be a hard matter to raise an extraordinary Building upon a common Foundation; it wil be hard for the People in this case to vouchsafe those ex­traordinary respects of singular love & double honour, which the Scripture with a loud voice calls for from them towards those that are over them in the Lord, and which labour in the Word and Doctrine, 1 Thes. 5.13. 1 Tim. 5.17. For it is not to be imagined that that extraordinary debt of love and honour which the Lord hath imposed upon the People as [Page] due from them towards those that feed the Flock of God, above what is due from them to other of their fellow brethren, should be founded upon any thing lesse, then the extra­ordinary benefit they may or doe receive by their Mi­nistry.

Whiles then a course is taken, either by Pastor or People, or both, to keep the gifts and parts of the Pastor under, and his way of teaching but of a common growth; a ready way is taken, not only to defeat and disappoint the Will and Purpose of God, in not casting that honour upon those which are sent by him, which he designes them, but also to hedge up the way of the peoples edification, by his Ministry. For where the peoples affections & respects to their Leaders and Guides run low, there their edification and profiting by them cannot possibly run high. Christ himself could not doe those mighty Works, nor advantage the people in his own Coun­try, as he did in other places more remote, because they had a lower esteem of him there (occasioned by their know­ledge of his lowness of breeding,) then others had in other places. Mat. 13.54, 58. And when Pauls esteem fell a­mong some of the Churches (though through no fault of his) upon how great a disadvantage were they cast of pro­fiting by him! And it is not to be doubted, but that when the Lord so frequently cals upon the Churches to obey those that have the rule over them in the Lord, (Heb. 13.17.) to have them in singular love for their works sake, (1 Thes. 5.13.) and to count them worthy of double honour, (1 Tim. 5.17.) and the like, but that therein he had an eye as much if not much more, to the Churches advantage and benefit which they should receive thereby, then to the personal ac­commodation and comfort of their Officers themselves. And accordingly the Apostle valued his own esteem in the Church, but little, farther then it might truly serve them. 2 Cor. 13.7. Not that we should appear approved, but that [Page] ye should doe that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. It mightily concernes therefore all Teachers that truly desire to profit the people by their Ministry, diligently to labour to keep up the reputation of it amongst them, by magnifying their Office, and making their utmost and best improvement of it for their good, as well by such studies as otherwise, by which they may come forth to them from time to time, with a greater fulness of the blessing of the Gospel, then other­wise they are ever like to doe. And surely it little lesse con­cernes the people, for their own edification sake, with like care to keep up and maintain their true and entire respects un­to their Teachers, so farre as they can possibly come at any foundation of real worth and service in them to bear it, and to be contributing what is due from them towards the sup­porting of it. For for them to be accessary to any weaknesse or defect in the way of their Ministry, and to despise them for it when they have done, would be a double sin.

Sect. 18 I have used the more liberty in pressing the Churches to their duty toward their Officers, as judging my self free from suspition of fishing for my self in these waters, there being hardly any so backward to give, as I to receive, having de­signed, as much as in me lies, to make the Gospel without charge to you my brethren, hoping it might be the more acceptable to you. And should be extreamly sorry, if any should be so weak (which yet I fear) as some in the Church of Corinth were, to esteem the Gospel the lesse, because so cheap to them, 2 Cor. 11.7, 20. But by how much my Brother and I remit to you in this behalf, by so much the more would I have you reckon your selves debtors to the poor. And by no meanes to make our present practise in this; a president to those that shall come after us, without a great deal of liberty in it, and largeness of capacity on their parts. As it will be the wisdome of Elders, as much as in them lies, to free themselves from suspition of serving for [Page] filthy lucre, as a thing exceeding hurtful to their Ministry one way, so it will be comely in the People, as much as in them lies, to render their Pastors free from the burden of trouble­some and intangling cares, as very prejudicial to their Mini­stry another way.

I have been large in this Address, and should be sorry if having herein eased my self, I should burden others. I judge that what I have said is not without cause, and am inwardly glad of this opportunity of declaring my mind thus freely to my Brethren; and am perswaded I shall lie down to rest when the hour comes, with so much the more satisfaction of mind. And O that God would render my counsel herein acceptable to all that are concerned in it!

I shall now have done: will you remember, Sirs, that you are the Epistle of Christ, to be known and read of all men, (2 Cor. 3.2, 3.) So that whoever reads the history of your life, may therein read the holiness, the humility, the meek­ness and gentleness of Jesus; the Lamb-like innocency and harmlessness, the love, mercy, and compassion, the unweari­ed industry and devouring zeal to do your Fathers will in serving the necessities of men, which shined forth so glori­ously in Jesus Christ. O take heed I beseech every one of you, of abusing the World, yea of abusing Christ, in ma­king any wry and wrong representation of him to the World by any undue or unchristian behaviour in word or deed. Let none get any occasion to think the worse of Christ or of his holy wayes, because of you that belong to him: Be far from laying any stumbling block in their way, but be remo­ving as fast as possibly you can, such as others have put there, that so the way to Christ being made plain and lovely, they may be invited to come to him, who hitherto have kept at a distance. It would be sad in the Judgement day, if any con­demned person should say to Christ, I verily thought that I might have used such strains of covetousness on the one hand, in getting and holding, and of pride and luxury on the other [Page] hand, in excess of food and rayment; that I might have spent so much time vainly and idly, that I might have kept such ill company and have sate so long at the Tavern or Ale-house, that I might have taken so much liberty to scoff and jeer, rail, and revile, to use vain talking and foolish jesting, for which thou now condemnest me, because I saw such and such which professed to know thee, and thy mind a great deal better than I, did so: if I had known as they did, I would have done better, it was their ill example that misled me. O Sirs, can you bear the thought of it that the matter should be so much as in doubt whether it may not possibly be so said of some of you though but in respect of some one or other of these or otherlike unholy things!

Sect. 20 And content not your selves to be negative Christians on­ly, to do no harm, to practice no unjust thing, to speak no evil, to give no bad example; but labour to abound both in doing and speaking good, and to be exemplary in both. And wherein there is any strain of Christianity that excels ano­ther, and that will render you most like God, most like Christ, let it be your holy ambition in making at that. For by how much the liker Christ you shall be found, in all love­liness and worthiness in your way, now, by so much the liker him shall you be made in excellency of glory and digni­ty hereafter; and in the mean time enjoy so much the richer communion with him, and communications of spiritual life, strength and comfort from him.

This whole World is running apace to mine, and the dis­solution of it draws nigh, it will be your wisdome, and for the Lords sake let it be your care to be removing your hearts and souls out of it before it fall upon your heads, or before you be removed out of it whether you will or no, by the hand of death. You have your day now, make much of it, when the sun of it is set upon those that have trifled in it, it will rise no more, an everlasting night of darkness follows. It is now but a little while, and he that shall come, will come, [Page] and will not tarry: if you love him, or rejoyce under the expectation of that day, be not behind hand in your prepara­tions. The marriage of the Lamb draws nigh, and his Wife hath made her self ready; be sure you be not at any time found without your Wedding garment. By Faith draw nigh to the Judgement Seat of Christ; imagine your selves at the next door of being encompassed with the majesty of that day. Let thoughts of it and of your accounts then to be taken, keep you company all the day long, in your buying, selling, eat­ing, drinking, yea in all your converse and communication with men. Follow God with incessant prayer to fill your souls brim full with a lively sense of these things, whose weight is not to be expressed. Hold much communion with your own weakness, and do not trust your selves at the least distance from God; abide under his shadow and in an humble way of pleasing him, be alwaies confident of his strength to subdue your spiritual enemies, to uphold you and keep you from falling, and to carry you on from strength to strength, until you appear before him.

That these and such things as these in the glory of their per­fection, may be your present portion from the Lord to pre­pare you upon the best terms for future glory, is the true de­sire,

Of him, who longs for more strength from Christ to serve you upon yet bet­ter terms, in the dear Concernments of your precious Souls, whil'st he is WILLIAM ALLEN.
April 13. 1658.



I Am not unsensible but that the very name of Works as any ways interressed or concerned in mens Justification before God, may possibly prejudice this work in the minds of some good people, as if it were no good friend to the free grace of God; especially considering that Grace and Works are so frequently opposed one to another in the Scripture, as inconsistent in the business of mans Justification. To prevent which, I shall in­treat thee to understand, that this Treatise does not in the least interess those Works in mans Justification, which the Scripture opposes to Grace, which are sometimes called (and are usually [Page] if not alwayes to be understood as meant of) the Works of the Law, or deeds of the Law. Nor yet does it interesse any other Works (I mean the most evangelical Works) in the office or service of justifying, in that sense in which Works are opposed to Grace, and were asserted by the Jews, and rejected by the Apostle, to wit, as doing that to justifie, which is proper and peculiar only and alone to Christ Jesus. For to hold any thing, whether Works or Faith, necessary for the doing of the same thing which Christ does in Justification, would render Christs undertaking in that behalf incompleat and imperfect, and disparage the suffi­ciency of his saving Grace, and so lay the hope of salvation built thereon in the dust; which yet it should seem was the errour into which the Galatians were running, Gal. 5.4. and 2.21.

And therefore all care must he had not to give ought of that to Works or Faith either, which is the incommunicable preroga­tive of Christs bloud. Though if it were possible that you could from this instant, unto the end of your life, become as holy in nature and life, as the holy Angels themselves, yet it would be damnable folly and wickednesse in you, if you should in the least depend upon this holinesse for the benefit of atonement for the sins that are past, which is to be had only by Christs bloud. And therefore he that hath the most and best of Gospel Works of any man living to commend him to God, can reasonably expect no more benefit by them as to this, nor may with safety any more depend upon them for this, then he that hath none at all, but must and ought to cast himself as intirely upon the bloud of Christ for the grace of atonement, purgation from sin, and justification, as the Theif upon the crosse did, or as any poor forlorn and miserable sinner does at his first coming to Christ, before he hath actually accomplished any workes of sancti­fication.

But now because Christs bloud does not actually justifie men, though never so full of virtue and power to justifie, till they [Page] doe believe, God having suspended their personal interest in his bloud for their Justification upon their believing; hence now in another respect Faith is necessary to Justification in its place, and for its use, as well as the bloud of Christ it self is in that superiour respect which is proper to it.

And because Faith also without works is dead,) Jam. 2.17, 26.) and so is altogether unserviceable to justifie, and that that Faith only hath the honour conferred upon it by God to avail men to justifie and save, which worketh by Love, and no other; (Gal. 5.6,) Hence the works of a holy life are as necessary to render Faith a living Faith, an availing Faith, and so a Faith that will justifie, or which will interesse men in Christs bloud, which doth Justifie, as the Grace of Faith it self is necessary in order to such an interest. Which as it is the utmost which I assert touching the necessity of Gospel-Obedience unto Justification, so it is that, which if found true, which will avouch this necessity with a high hand. For as a man may as soon be Justified without a Saviour, as without Faith, which gives him an interest in him, so he may as soon be Justified without Faith, as without those Evangelical Works, the absence of which will render Faith uncapable to Justifie: And to have no Faith, and to have a Faith in no capacity to doe the work or business of Faith, will be found the same thing in conclusion. So that if the one be necessary, so is the other, but in different respects.

All that I shall further add, is to desire thee to lay aside prejudice, and so proceed to the perusal of the Work it self: And as thou findest things built upon the Word, and substan­tially backed by evidence of Scripture Light fairly treated, so and no otherwise would I have thee to receive them. For I assure thee my design towards thee is, to make a match between thy Soul and Truth, not my Opinion, further then under the countenance of Truth. And should count it a happiness, if as a recompence of this labour, I should hereby deliver though [Page] but one Soul from any longer contenting it self with that dead and barren Faith, by which too many are, and are like to be deceived. And that the Lord may give thee a right under­standing in this and in all things, hath been, and I hope (the Lord assisting) shall be the Prayer of him who loves and longs after the health and prosperity of thy soul,

W. A.

A Table of the principal Matters touched or hand­led in the precedent Epistle, and subsequent Treatise.

  • ARgument of good life, most taking generally, Ep. S. 10
  • Argument against the form of profession, from the miscarri­ages of professors, not good, Ep. S. 11
  • Assent to the Doctrine of the Gospel as true, touching Christs being the Son of God, and Savi­our of the world, (alone) not justi­fying faith; & the reason why, 44
  • Antinomian Doctrine touching sins past, present, and to come, being pardoned upon mens first being in Christ, decryed as erro­nious and dangerous, 95
  • Apostacy and decay, the cause of it, what, 122
  • Alms-giving must answer the Estate of the Giver, and what to be thought thereabout. 145
  • BLood of Christ, nothing to be joyned with it in merit, or atonement making, 25
  • Believing and obeying, put one for another, 70
  • Believing and receiving of Christ equivalent, 73
  • Bounty, where wanting, an ar­gument, there's no right Faith, 143
  • Badness of mens condition, no reason why it should not be look­ed into. 160
  • COntinue; to continue well, is harder than to begin well, Ep. S. 17
  • Covenant; Attributing that to the blood and obedience of the first Covenant, which properly belongs to the Blood, Faith, and obedience of the Second Cove­nant, was the Jews grand mi­stake, 21, 22
  • Christ, in what respects he is the object of justifying Faith, 37
  • Confidence of Salvation with­out ground, whence it proceeds, 49, 51
  • Confidence of being saved, may be strong in men, both while they live, and when they dye, and yet suffer disappointment in the Resurrection and judgement day, 64
  • Conquer, to conquer, and more what, 134
  • Conscience Christs Delegate, and how to have it on ones side in [Page] time of tryal, 166
  • Decayes of spiritual sense and affection, how repaired, Ep. §. 1
  • Deceive, the Devils craft to deceive, Ep. §. 4.
  • Dead, Faiths being dead, what? 54
  • Esteem, of People to their Pa­stors, the mischief of it when it grows low, Ep. §. 17
  • Epistle of Christ, how the Church is so, Ep. §. 19
  • Fruit, upon what account due to God as procured by the labours of men, Ep. §. 2
  • Fruit, Being yielded to God, comes home to ones self, Ep. §. 2
  • Fruit, yielding fruit the way to enjoy more cost and care from God, Ep. §. 3
  • And to be fenced from devour­ring temptations, Ep. §. 4, 5
  • Fruit, the want of it the cause of Apostacy and Church desola­tion, Ep. §. 6, 7.
  • Form, the danger of turning Religion into Form, Ep. §. 8, 9
  • Father, how and in what res­pects Justification is ascribed to God the Father, 33, 154
  • Faith, as it Justifies hath three acts, credence, adherence, and confidence, 43
  • Faith, how acted on God the fa­ther in relation to Justification, 36
  • Faith, how acted on Christs death and bloud, in relatioa to Justification, 38
  • Faith, a reprobate Judgment concerning it, and a Form of godliness, oft found in the same person, 57
  • Faith and Love their near affi­nity, 71
  • Faith without repentance, can­not justifie, 76
  • Faith without Love, cannot ju­stifie, 77
  • Faith when found in Abra­hams seed, walks in the steps of Abrahams faith, 84
  • Faith magnifies the word and power of God, though crossed with greatest unlikelihood and humane improbability, 84
  • Faith of right kind, engageth to obey the hardest precepts, 87
  • Faith eyes and adheres to Gods counsels for the way, as well as his promise for the end, 98
  • Faith depends on the Lord for supply of strength to do his will, 109
  • Faith derives from Christ the power by which the Christian life is led, 110
  • Faith, how supported in depen­dance for supplies, 114
  • Faith works by Love, and how? 127
  • Faith, how it is not, and how it is counted for Righteousness, 150
  • [Page]Faith in its justifying office or power, depends wholly on Gods will; and its matter of great com­fort that it does so, 154
  • Faith not strictly and properly a mans Righteousness, but does him the service of a Righteous­ness in the account and imputati­on of grace, 156
  • Forgiving of wrong, want of it an argument such have no justi­fying faith, 148
  • Grace, the womb that bears justification, 33
  • Ground, what faith is resem­bled by the thorny ground hearers, 59
  • Holiness in men as well as the happiness of men, Gods aim in contriving the terms of salvati­on, 68
  • Integrity not to be questioned meerly for difference of judgment in the point of Infant-Baptism, Ep. §. 13
  • Justification without Works, the danger of mistaking the Scrip­ture thereabout, 2
  • Justification by Works, in what sense opposed by the Apostle, 12, to 17
  • Justification, the necessity of Works thereunto, not opposed by the Apostle no not among the Jews in all respects, 21
  • Justification, depends upon af­ter acts of faith as well as the first, 90
  • Justification attributed not on­ly to faith, but also to those works that flow from faith, 94
  • Justification from eternity or before faith, disproved, 156
  • The ill consequence of that opi­nion, touched, 158
  • Judgment day, the issue of that dayes proceeding in relation to ones felf, to be known now, 162
  • Love to the Lord how known, 121
  • Love, how it casteth out fear, 133
  • Love to men, how known, 137
  • Ministers of the Nation, how to be treated by the Baptists, Ep. §. 14.
  • Maintenance for Gospel Mini­sters, in what respect necessary, Ep. §. 16
  • Miscarriages in life proceed from want of faith, 106
  • Negative Christianity, not to be rested in, Ep. §. 20
  • Opinions, four Opinions of the Jews contradictious to the Gospel, opposed by Paul in opposing [Page] their seeking of Justification by Works, 7, to 11
  • Opinion that holds Justificati­on by Faith to be Justification not before God, but in mens consci­ence, proved rotten, 157
  • Offence giving when shunned, an argument of what, 138
  • Power to justifie by what means soever, depends on the will of God 33, 35.
  • Promises indefinitely made to beleeving, how to be understood, 67, 70.
  • Perseverance in grace why found in persons of weak parts, when many times those of greater parts fall, 123
  • Power of the creature, undue thoughts about it very dangerous, 127
  • Quakers, how deceitful, Ep. §. 4
  • Reading or hearing, how to profit by it, Ep. §. 1
  • Reflections unseemly and pro­voking, in controversies, condem­ned, Ep. §. 12.
  • Relyance on Christ for Salva­tion, not justifying without obe­dience, 49
  • Resurrection of Christ, how excellently it contributes to our Ju­stification, 39
  • Receiving Christ, what it im­ports, 73
  • Result of Scriptures duely com­pared, a wise mans guid, 79
  • Scandals, the mischief of them, Ep. §. 10, 19
  • Study, the necessity of it in or­der to the most profitable preach­ing, Ep. §. 15.
  • Steps of Abrahams Faith, what 84
  • Supplies from Christ how re­ceived by Faith, 112
  • Spirit, how received by Faith, 118
  • Terms of Salvation, the dan­ger of mistaking them, 2, 25
  • Tryal of ones state in Faith, backwardness therein an ill sign, 159
  • Temptations about ones pre­sent and future good condition not to be vanquished but by substan­al evidences of a holy Faith, 163
  • Works that are the same in themselves, differ in respect of dif­ferent Covenants enjoyning them in different respects, 19
  • Works of what sort they are [Page] that accompany true Faith in its first justifying acts, 27
  • Works evangelical, in what sense necessary to Justification, 26, 55.
  • Works evangelical, their ne­cessity to Justification, a Protest­ant Doctrine, 28, 30
  • Word or Gospel, how the object of justifying Faith, 36, 41
  • Wresting the Scriptures to de­struction, what? 3


PAge 4. line 27. for, for us, read far as. pag. 11. line 31. for Jews r. Jew. page 12. line 5. blot out, as.

A Glass of Justification. Wherein the Apostles Doctrine touching JUSTIFI­CATION without the DEEDS of the LAW is opened; and the sence in which Gospel-Obedience is abso­lutely necessary to Justification, is stated.

CHAP. I. Containing an Introduction to the following Treatise.

Romans 4. Ver. 5.

But to him that worketh not, but beleeveth on him that justi­fieth the ungodly, his Faith is counted unto him for Righte­ousnesse.

AMongst other things in Pauls Epistles, which (as the Apostle Peter observes, 2 Pet. 3.16.) are hard to be understood, and which they that are unlearned, and unstable wrest to their own destruction; there is too much cause to suspect the Text now before us, to be one. For whoever shall but judiciously con­sider the Epistles of the Apostles, James, Peter, John, and Iude, besides other Scriptures, may easily perceive, that many professors of the Gospel then, did so bear themselves upon a me [Page 2] form of knowledge and Faith, as if the promise of Salvation had been entailed to that alone, without respect had to that holy life enjoyn­ed in the Gospel, without which no man shall see the Lord, Heb. 12.14. Into which most dangerous & deadly snare its like enough they might be brought, by mis-understanding and wresting such Scriptures as my Text, which makes the man that Worketh not, but Believeth, the capable subject of Justification.

And is there not cause to fear, that multitudes of poor Souls to this day, are still under the same desperate and destructive mistake? Whence else proceeds that high confidence in the most amongst us, of their being saved by Christ, although but strangers to the life of God? having this saying to defend themselves against the reproof of their sinful life; no man shall be saved by his Works; or else; not by the works of righteousnesse which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us: leaving out that which follows, viz. by the wash­ing of regeneration, and renewng of the Holy Ghost, Tit. 3.5. Whence is it also that multitudes of Professors under various forms, as well that which is right as those which are wrong, take themselves to be rich, and to have need of nothing more than they have, to entitle them to remission of sins and Salvation, when as they are meer beg­gars and bankrupts as to a humble, sober, self-denying life? Is it not that they value themselves by that stock of brain-knowledge, and barren Faith which they are sure they have, and thereupon think themselves sure of those promises which are made to those that know and believe the truth?

Nay hath not the doctrine of Justification without Works, as commonly asserted from that Text which I have chosen, on which to found my present Discourse, and other of the like nature, proved a Temptation even to many good men, to have a lighter and lower esteem of good Works, and of the necessity of them to Justification and Salvation, than of right belongs to them? Yea I am perswaded, that the strenuous urging of such Texts against the Papists in disputes about Justification, without that due care which ought to be had in distinguishing the works which my Text speaks of, from those of a­nother nature, hath occasioned many honest hearts to content them­selves to write but fifty, which otherwise would have subscribed an hundred, towards the promoting of the Gospel designe in themselves and others, had they clearly understood the mind of God in this business.

What shall I say, Christ Jesus himself though sent on purpose to save and not to destroy, and not only to shew but to be the very [Page 3] way unto life and glory; yet the ignorance and mis-understanding of the counsel of God touching the termes how and after what man­ner he is so, hath rendred him to very many a stone of stumbling, a rock of offence, a snare and a gin; a means of a more dreadful condem­nation, than ever they should have fallen into, had Christ never been offered to them as a Saviour. But to whom is he so? but as Peter tells us, to those that stumble at the Word, 1 Pet. 2.8. not un­derstanding, but mistaking the nature and temres of the doctrine of grace, and the Scripture expressions thereabout; either thinking that Faith will save without Works, otherwise than the Scripture intends, or that this or that Belief is the Faith unto which Justifica­tion and Salvation are promised, when as it is neither this nor that, but another. So that when Peter sayes, that such as are unlearned and unstable, wrest the Scriptures of Paul and others to their own de­struction, (2 Pet. 3.16.) it is not meant of such as are unlearned in humane arts, but unlearned in the method and termes of Gods proceeding with men, to bring them to Salvation: being carried a­way with a sound of letters and words, not being carefull to order themselves in their understanding of Scripture expressions, by those principal heads and veins of Doctrine which are but few, unto which a great variety of words and scripture expressions do re­late.

A piece of unlearnedness, unto which the wise and prudent of the world, Doctors and Rabbies of the times have been, and may be more liable, and in which more intangled, than others, who in comparison of them have been but Babes and sucklings; as these and the like Scriptures do witness, Mat. 11.25. John 7.48, 49. 1 Cor. 1.26, 27. one main reason whereof is this; because they, (I mean the wise and learned of the world) by their wisdom and learning being vessels better fitted and prepared for worldly glory than others are, are in that respect under the greater temptation to seek and re­ceive honour one of another, and not that honour that comes from God onely; and consequently by their greater parts, to over-master, bend and bow, wring and wrest under plausible pretences and fair flourish­es, the holy Scriptures, in their several forms of expression, so as that they may not so much as seem to contradict, but to countenance their designe of worldly glory and interest: and their worldly ho­nour and interest likewise as intermixt with their Gospel profession, not so much as seem to obstruct, but to accomodate the designe of God, and the affairs of the Gospel, in themselves and others. The [Page 4] prevailing of which carnal device of corrupting the Word, reducing and accommodating the pure Gospel doctrine and life, unto a nearer complyance with the principles of worldly wisdom and interest than would consist with the simplicity which is in Christ, was that which proved the bane of those flourishing Churches, which were planted by the Apostles, and at this day is the great enemy of the life and power of godliness, and such as betrayes men into a soul-deceiving way of professing the Gospel; as might easily be shewed, might I now stand upon it.

On the other hand, whereas the babes and sucklings; I mean per­sons who by reason of their natural capacities, education or rank in the world, are but of weak and low parts, and in that respect but ves­sels of dishonour in the worlds eye; are not in that danger to be courted by the world, nor under any probability or hopes of obtaining honour from the world, though they should seek it; thence it comes to pass, that their minds are more at liberty to look after glory and greatness in the next world, since they neither have, nor are like to have any in this, and so to fall in with the doctrine of the Gospel which both offers and opens the way to the glory to come, but makes little of this world, calls mens minds off it, and teaches self-de­nial about it. And then when such have actually imbraced the truth as it is in Jesus, though they themselves are but poor and meane in parts and humane abilities, and of shallow capacities; yet the Spirit of God now becomes their guide, and he takes of the things of Christ, viz. his Doctrines contained in the Scriptures, and shews them unto them, John 16.14. And what ever parts and humane abilities men may have, by the power of which they may go for us to the Gram­matical sense of the Scriptures, yet as to the spiritual designe of them, whilst they themselves are strangers to the sense of such a thing upon their own hearts, and consequently have not that presence of the spirit of truth who keeps at a distance from the high-minded and worldly-wise, they must needs be in greater danger of wresting the Scriptures as unto the spiritual design of them, then the poor, hum­ble, and meek Soul, with whom God delights to dwell, and whom he hath promised to guide in judgement, and teach in his way (Psal 25.9. Isai. 57.15.) though very far inferior in humane accom­plishments.

But since the mis-understanding of the Scriptures about the do­ctrine of Justification by Faith without the works of the Law, hath proved, and I exceedingly fear doth still prove a snare of death unto [Page 5] vast multitudes of poor souls (as I intimated before) therefore to a­waken men who have been but in a spiritual dream about this im­portant business, and to undeceive many poor souls who are in ex­tream danger of perishing eternally under a mistaken confidence of Salvation, I shall as of the ability which is of God, by comparing the Scriptures hereabout, endeavour to open, and further to clear this mighty point, upon the practical understanding of which doth depend even the salvation of all our souls.

CHAP. II. Shewing of what sort or kind of Works those are which Paul in his Epistles excludes in the point of Mans justification before God.

Romans 4.5.

But to him that worketh not, but beleeveth on him that ju­stifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted unto him for righteousnesse.

SECT. I NOT to meddle with the coherence of these words for the pre­sent, because I shall have a fit occasion to touch that after­wards; You may easily perceive that they do in themselves, contain a brief description of the Man whom God will justifie. And we have him here described both negatively, and affirmatively. 1. Ne­gatively, he is such an one as worketh not; so saith the Text; To him that worketh not, &c. 2. Affirmatively, he is such a one as does believe on him that justifieth the ungodly: for the Text tells us con­cerning him, that his faith is counted to him for righteousness.

I shall God willing speak something to both parts of the descrip­tion, and shall begin with that first which is first in the Text.

How then is the Apostle to be understood when he affirms the man that works not to be the capable subject of Justification? pro­vided otherwise he be such a one as doth beleeve? what kind of Works are they which he shuts out from having part and fellowship in this matter? and in what respects?

1. Whatever they are, it is not the presence of them which he ex­cludes, as if a man that hath the works he here speaks of, could not be justified; but it is such a justifying vertue, power, and property which some supposed to be in them, but were deceived, which he excludes, as having no hand less nor more in any mans Justification; for other­wise Paul, though whilst he was a Pharisee, and to the very time of his beleeving, was such a worker as that he could say, that as touching the righteousnesse of the law he was blameless, Phil. 3.6. yet this was no obstruction to his Justification when he did beleeve indeed.

2. But the Apostles meaning is, that the absence of the Works here spoken of, would not at all hinder a mans Justification in case he did beleeve, but that he was in as good a capacity of Justification upon his beleeving, though he had none of the works he here speaks of, as he would or could have been in case he had them all.

3. But then in the next place the main question will be, what and what manner, sort, or kind of Works it is, without which a man if he beleeve shall be justified? and whether he intends to exclude all, and all manner of works in this case, or some one sort or kind only.

For the resolution whereof, we must consider upon what occasion these words of the Apostle are here brought in; and what people, and what opinions they are against which he is here disputing: the knowledge of which will be as a key to open the door of this Text, and to give us clearly to understand what Works they are, without which a man beleeving, may be justified.

That it is not against any such opinion as reckons a Gospel con­versation consisting of self-denial, mortification of worldly lusts, and sinful affections, the love of Christ above all, and the preferring o­ther mens spiritual interest and profit before their own temporal; and a tender caring for others temporal good as well as their own, I say that it is not any such opinion against which the face of the Apo­stles present argumentation is bent, will evidently appear.

1. By the carriage of other Scriptures, which are so far off from affirming any man to be justified by Faith without these Works, as that contrarily they do positively and peremptorily conclude and declare, that Faith to be dead, unprofitable, and vain, and such as shall never save, that is without these. And therefore we may by no means understand the Apostle in any such sense, as would make him clash with and fall foul upon the general current of the [Page 7] Scripture elsewhere. But the further opening and handling of this, I must respite unto its proper place afterwards.

Sect. 2 2. But that the Works here cast out of doors by the Apostle in the matter of mans Justification, are precisely of that sort or kind which are elsewhere called by him the deeds of the Law, Rom. 3.28. viz. Mosaical ordinances and services, especially such as were Cir­cumcision, and Sacrifices, and the like, which were Works required in the Law of Moses, I come now to demonstrate. And for the clearing of our way to this, we will as I said, consider the persons and their opinions, against which the Apostle disputes.

The persons against whom the Apostle was ingaged in this dispute of his, were the unbeleeving Jews, or at least such as did judaiz it, that is, in a great measure comply with them in their opinion touch­ing the necessity of Circumcision, and other Mosaical Rites, to Ju­stification. For the Jews then being scattered among the Gentiles here and there in the Roman Cities and Provinces, and particularly here at Rome, Acts 28.17.24. did vehemently oppose the doctrine of the Apostles, especially in their preaching Salvation to the Gen­tiles upon their beleeving, without the works of the Law; forbid­ding them to speak to the Gentiles, or to declare unto them, that they might be saved upon any such termes. 1 Thes. 2.16. forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, &c. To fortifie the beleevers whether Jews or Gentiles against their insinuations and op­positions in this kind, the Apostle at large debates the case in diffe­rence between them, both in this Epistle to the Romans, and in that to the Galatians; which Churches, viz. of Rome, and Galatia it is like were then pestered more than others in this kind.

The unsound opinions held by them, and which this Apostle in his doctrine of Justification doth oppose in this and other of his Epi­stles, were such as these.

Sect. 3 1. That the Messiah or Christ which God had promised, & they ex­pected, should whenever he came, abide for ever, and not die. John 12.34. We have heard out of the Law (say they) that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou the son of man must be lift up? This was a doctrine which it seems past for current among them, their guides mis-interpreting some one or more passage in the Old Testament to that purpose, that the Messiah should never dye, but abide for ever without any change by death: which doctrine they took as inconsistent with Jesus his being the Christ indeed, and yet suffering death by being lift up upon the Cross, which he Prophetically fore-told, [Page 8] 1 Cor. 2.7.8. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory. Which none of the Princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. What was that wisdom of God in a mystery which he sayes they preached? why it was this, that God had offered Salvation to the world by Christ as crucified, which both to the Jews and Greeks was such a mystery, as but few of them understood, but was their occasion of stumbling at Christ, 1 Cor. 1.23, 24. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Which mystery saith he, 1 Cor. 2.7, 8. viz. that the counsel of God was so laid, to bring about the life of men by the death of the Messias, None of the Princes of this world knew, (viz. the chief of those that had their hands in his death;) for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. No surely they would not; but it was their ignorance touching those Scriptures which fore-told his humiliation and death that pro­ved a snare to them, first to reject him because of his low condition, and afterward to crucifie him: so saith the Text in effect, Acts 13.27. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

Sect. 4 2. The next damnable opinion which they held, into which they were led by the hand of the former, was this: that Jesus was not the Christ. For they concluded him therefore not to be the Christ, be­cause he suffered and was crucified; they holding the former opini­on, that such a thing was impossible to befall the Christ of God. This is clear from 1 Cor. 1.23. it was his being crucified that caused them to stumble at him, and not believe him to be the Christ, as it is still unto this day. In opposition to which opinion it is, that the Apostle hath that saying, Heb. 9.16. For where a Testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the Testator. Where he ar­gues the necessity of the death of the true Christ for the ratification of the New Testament of which he is Mediatour, in opposition to some of another mind. Therefore we shall find that to prove the necessity of the Death and Resurrection of the true Christ, as also to prove that Christ his being Crucified did not at all argue him not to be the true Christ but the contrary, was a great part of the Apostles dispute against the Jews, who as it thereby appears held the con­trary, [Page 9] Acts 17.2, 3. And Paul as his manner was went in unto them (viz. the Jews in their Synagogue, ver. 1.) and three Sabbath dayes reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alledging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead, and that Jesus whom I preach unto you is Christ.

Sect. 5 3. Another thing which they held also was this, that their Sa­crifices (in conjunction with Circumcision and other observances) did take away sin. For, 1. In that they offered Sacrifices for sin, they thereby acknowledged themselves to be sinners, and such as stood in need of attonement; for saith the Apostle, Heb. 10.3. In those Sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 2. In that they held the true Christ should never dye, as we heard before, they must therefore needs hold withall, that sin was not to be purged by his death and Sacrifice. And then 3ly. If not by that, by what then? but by those very Sacrifices of Bulls and Goats which were offered for sin, which indeed was the naughty opinion against which the Apostle saith so much in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb. 10.1. For the law having a shaddow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those Sacri­fices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect; as some it seems on the contrary did hold. Again ver. 4. For it is not possible that the blood of Bulls and of Goats should take away sins. What, shall we think that the Apostle sets up a man of Straw, and then fights with it? or that he beats only the aire with his word? shall we think that he so solemnly over and over, and over denies that which no man affirmed? or would he make such a business of it to argue the inefficaciousness, the unavaila­blenes of those sacrifices to take away sin, if no body had asserted their power and efficacy in that behalf? surely he would not; such a thing is much below the wisdom of an ordinary man, and much more be­low the wisdom and gravity of a great Apostle. It is a good rule by which to make judgement of the ill opinions and practices then reigning among men in the Apostles times, viz. by their zealous and faithfull engagements against them, as declared in their Epistles, though they do not in so many words, charge such and such men with holding or practising, such or such things.

And so when we find the Apostle (Heb. 10.) so mightily labou­ring in this business when he hath to do with the beleeving Jews, that were under temptations of looking back, arguing from the Old Testament, that it was never Gods intent to set up those Sacrifices [Page 10] under the Law to take away sin, or to purge the conscience, but that they served only unto an outward purification, and to be as a School-master to bring to Christ, by the offering of whom once for all, are perfected for ever those that are sanctified, it may be easily colle­cted, that certainly the unbeleeving Jews did firmly hold the contrary, and that the beleeving Jews were in danger of being shaken in their Faith hereabout; to prevent which, and to establish them firmly in the truth, is the prize for which the Apostle runs, as in the Epistle in general, so more especially in those passages of it in the ninth and tenth Chapters, which do more immediately concern this business. See more particularly hereabout, Heb. 10.1, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14.18. and 9.12, 13, 14, 22, 25, 26. and 1.3. Acts 13.39.

These three now mentioned, most erronious and highly dangerous opinions held by the obstinate Jews, I take to be wrapt up by the A­postle in Rom. 9.31, 32, 33. But Israel which followed after the law of righteousnesse, hath not attained to the law of righteousnesse, wherefore? because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law: for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone; as it is written; behold I lay in Zion a stumbling-stone and a rock of offence, and whosoever beleeveth on him shall not be ashamed. That Christ was and is a stumbling-stone unto the Jews, because of his being Crucified, is that I shewed before: such a thing falling crosse to their received opinion, that the true Christ should never dye; they thereupon thought they had good reason to reject him, and those that taught in his name, as being confident for that very reason he could not be the Messiah. So that those two opinious, 1. That the true Christ should never dye; and secondly, That Jesus was not the true Christ because he did suffer death, are both implyed in that saying, ver. 32. They stumbled at that stumbling-stone; and then the third thing, viz. their expectation of remission of sins and acceptati­on with God by the legal Sacrifices, and other Mosaical observances, is that which in the 31, and 32. vers. is called their following after or seeking the law of righteousness, i. e. as I conceive, that Law or Covenant by which God hath promised to count men righteous: this indeed they sought to come under, but missed it, because they sought it not in Gods way of beleeving in Christ Jesus, and him cru­cified, (for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone) but as it were by the works of the Law, i. e. I conceive they so sought it, as if the termes of attaining it appointed by God, had been the doing those works of the Law.

Sect. 6 4. Another erronious opinion of the unbeleeving Jews, wherein some also of those who did in a sort believe, did comply with them, was this; that the Gentiles could not be justified or saved, unlesse they became prosylites to their Religion, and were circumcised, and so kept the law of Moses, Acts 15.1, 5. And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren and said, except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses ye cannot be saved. Which yet is more fully exprest vers. 5. But there rose up certain of the Sect of the Pharisees which beleeved, saying that it was needfull to cir­cumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses. Which dangerous opinion being obtruded upon the beleeving Gen­tiles, to the great unsettlement of many of them, thereupon the A­postle Paul (who was the Apostle of the Gentiles) to the end he might undeceive such as had been surprised with it, and strengthen the Brethren against the infection of it, wrote, as to the Churches in Galatia, so to this at Rome, in both which Epistles he doth at large counter-argue this, together with the other fore-mentioned soul-destroying opinions.

Sect. 7 In flat contradiction therefore unto these opinions aforesaid, our Apostle in my Text doth affirm, That to him that worketh not; that is, to the Gentile who never had observed or kept the Law of Moses, who never had followed after righteousnesse, Rom. 9.30. but had lived without God in the world, and as an alien from the Common-wealth of Israel: But beleeveth on him that justifieth the ungodly: That is, though he do not nor have done the former, yet if he do the latter; that is, if he shall believe on him that came into the world to save sinners, and which in due time dyed for the ungod­ly. His Faith, that is, this faith of his, and not those works of the Law shall be counted to him for righteousnesse: This then is clearly the doctrine of the Text, that a poor Idolatrous Heathen, that had no precedent Works of the Law to commend him of which the Jews boasted, and in which he trusted, and though such as should never after his beginning to beleeve, be either circumcised, or offer the Sacrifices for sin commanded in the Law, or perform other Jewish Rites, yet in case he did but beleeve, and should indeed really imbrace the Gospel, the doctrine of Jesus, he should most certainly be justi­fied, and persevering therein, be undoubtedly saved, the highest and most confident pretention of the Jew to the contrary notwith­standing.

That the fastning of this naile is the very scope and drift of the Apostle, not only in the words of my Text, but also in his prece­dent and subsequent discourse, as well that which goes before, as that which follows after my Text, is that which I shall now as briefly as well as I may, come plainly to set before you.

I shall carry you no further back then to Rom. 3.21. But now the righteousnesse of God without the Law is manifested, being wit­nessed by the Law and the Prophets. The righteousness of God; that is (I conceive) Gods way and termes of making or accounting men righteous: Without the Law is manifested: that is, in and by the Gospel it is declared, published, tendred, and offered; in the be­leeving and imbracing of which Gospel, and the termes of grace therein propounded, a man may attain this righteousnesse though he had never heard of the Law. Though its true also, that the same way and termes of Justification, is witnessed and asserted in the Law and the Prophets, which is now published and tendered by the Go­spel. Which way of accounting men righteous, or the termes upon or according to which he does so esteem them, and accordingly deal with them, we have set down in the next verse. 22. which is saith he, By faith of Iesus Christ, unto all, and upon all that beleeve, for there is no difference: that is, this righteousness of God, or this Justification of God, or which is of God, it is by Faith of Jesus Christ; that is, it does accrue to men, or is vouchsafed by God unto men, by the Faith of Christ; that is, by that Faith which men that rightly beleeve, have concerning Christ. And this is a priviledg (a glorious one indeed) which is vouchsafed unto all men indiffe­rently who do beleeve, whether Jew who hath followed the Law, or Gentile who hath been without Law; it is unto all, and upon all that beleeve; for there is saith he, no difference: the Jew by his Law is never the nearer Justification, nor the Gentile by his living without it, never the farther off it, in case he do beleeve, but both in a like capacity, and both actually justified upon their be­leeving, and neither the one nor the other at all justified till then. For saith he ver. 23. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, both Jews and Gentiles, and therefore both alike are cast upon the meer mercy and free grace of God, vers. 24. Being justified (if ever they be justified) freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Iesus Christ, ver. 25. whom God hath set forth, (both to Jews and Gentiles) to be a propitiation through Faith in his blood. Upon which the Apostle ver. 27. makes this demand, Where [Page 13] is boasting then? if the Gentile without the Law be on equal termes with the Jews under his Law, if there be no difference between them, if all have sinned, and all to be justified freely by grace; if this Justi­fication or righteousness be vouchsafed unto all, and conferred up­on all that beleeve, and not otherwise; and that there is no diffe­rence between Jew and Gentile in these respects; then pray you, where is boasting? what is become of the boasting of the Jews, who were wont to say we have Abraham to our Father, and re­joyced in circumcision, and made their boast of the Law, Rom. 2.23. if for all the priviledges which in this kind they had enjoyed a­bove the Gentile, yet if the Gentile by the grace of the Gospel is made equall to the Jew, though he do not at all come under the Law, where then is there any longer place for boasting?

And in the 28 verse he draws up his conclusion from his premises, saying, therefore we conclude that a man is justified by Faith, without the deeds of the Law: the same in effect with my Text: If there be no difference between Jew and Gentile as was said before, and that the Righteousness of GOD without the Law is mani­fested and tendred to the Gentile, we may well conclude, that a man, even an ungodly Gentile that hath no Deeds of the Law, if he once come to forsake his ungodlinesse, and to beleeve and obey the Gospel which is to be preached to every Creature, we may conclude that he is indeed; justified, his sins pardoned, and he accepted in the Beloved, in whom he hath beleeved.

But though the Apostle concludes the thing, ver. 28. viz. that the Gentiles might as well be justified without the Deeds of the Law, as the Jews with them, and both alike upon condition of beleeving, yet he does not there conclude his discourse of this matter, but is at it again and again. And therefore in ver. 29. he begins again, de­manding as it were with authority thus; Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? yes of the Gentiles also. As if he should say, what do you think that God only takes care of the Jews, and of their Salvation, and that he hath no regard at all to the Gentiles, let them sink or swim? Is he not the God of the Gentiles also? is he not willing to bring them to Salvation as well as the Jews? To which interogation he returns this answer; yes he is the God even of the Gentiles also: one propitious and favourable to them as well as the Jews, which appears in this thirtieth verse, See­ing it is one God, which shall justifie the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith: the same God hath vouchsafed the [Page 14] same means, and proposed one and the same way of justification and salvation both to those that are circumcised, and to those that are not, and that is the Faith of the Gospel. Where there is neither Iew nor Greek, circumcision, nor uncircumcision: i. e. no difference between these, but as the Scripture saith, They are all one in Christ Iesus, Gal. 3.28. Col. 3.11.

Sect. 8 Come we now to the fourth Chapter, and draw we nearer the Text. In this fourth Chapter in which my Text is, we have the truth under consideration drawn in lively colours, viz. that men without Circumcision, and the rest of the Jewish Ordinances, may upon their cordial imbracing the Gospel, attain justification in the sight of God. This he makes plain, and proves against all contra­diction from the example of Gods proceeding with Abraham in the matter of his justification, who as he was the Father of the Jew, and one in whom they gloried, as counting themselves the only people of God upon the account of that Covenant which God made with him and his seed, whose seed according to the flesh they were, so also was he a Father of many Nations, even of as many as should beleeve, in all Nations of the world, and why so? but because God was intended to justifie them upon the same termes as he justified Abraham.

Rom. 4.1. The Apostle begins thus, What shall we say then, that Abra­ham our father, as pertaining to the flesh hath found? In which affirmative interrogation, we have laid down a vehement negation of the thing interrogated, according to the usual custome and dialect of the Scrip­tures in that kind. As if he should say, look now upon Abraham our Father, and consider Gods proceeding with him, and the termes upon which God conferred righteousness or justification on him. And what then? shall we say or think that Abraham our Father according to the flesh hath found? hath found what? namely justi­fication in the sight of God; for that's the thing in question, the subject of his present discourse, and that which he presently menti­ons vers. 2. as that to which the interrogation relates. Hath he found it as pertaining to the flesh? what's that? hath he found it in that way in which the Jews boastingly think they have met with it, and urge the Gentiles to seek after it, viz. Circumcision and o­ther works of the Law, which in opposition to the Gospel-way of Justification, is called flesh, Phil. 3.3, 4, 5, 6. Gal. 3.3. hath he found, or did he meet with justification in this way? no certain­ly he did not. This he proves, first by a clear Text of Scripture out [Page 15] of the Old Testament, verse 3. For what saith the Scripture, Abra­ham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteous­nesse. If his believing God was the thing that was counted to him for righteousnesse, (which is the thing the Scripture affirms, Gen. 15.6.) then Circumcision and the rest of the Ceremonies of the Law could not be it, and therefore could be no more necessary in the Gentiles to their justification, than they were to Abraham, but that they with­out Circumcision, beleeving as Abraham did, they also without cir: cumcision might be justified as Abraham was. And therefore ac­cordingly from this example the Apostle doth assert in the words of my Text (which are brought in upon this occasion.) That to him that workeeh not, but beleiveth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousnesse. Which doctrine of imputation of Faith unto men for Righteousnesse without Works, the Apostle in ver. 6, 7, 8. makes clearly agreeable to that passage of David in Psalm 32.1, 2. where he sayes, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered: blessed is the man unto whom the Lord will not impute sin. Whereupon the Apo­stle to draw home this part of his discourse unto Abrahams case, which is the chief thing he prosecutes throughout this Chapter; in the ninth verse he makes this demand: Cometh this blessednesse then upon the Circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that Faith was reckoned unto Abraham for righteoasness. V. 10. How then was it reckoned? when he was in Circumcision or in uncircumcision? not in circumcision but in uncircumcision. Which way of arguing here used by the Apostle, is of mighty force to evince the non-necessity of Circumcision unto justification, a thing which the Jews would have imposed upon the Gentiles in order thereunto, as I have oft said. For if Abrahams Faith was reckoned to him for righteous­nesse before ever he was Circumcised, then was not his Circumcision necessary unto his justification which he had without it. And if it were not necessary hereunto in Abraham their spiritual Father, nei­ther was it now necessary among the beleeving Gentiles, his spiritual children. For the Apostle seems to intimate in ver. 11, 12. that God had this designe in it, that Abraham should receive his circum­cision, not before, but after his justification, to wit, that he might be the Father, the great exemplar, copy or patern, how or after what manner God would justifie the uncircumcised, or Gentiles in time to come, viz. by or upon their beleeving in him without Circumcision. I might likewise shew you farther, how the Apostle in ver. 13. ar­gues [Page 16] the non-necessity of keeping the Law of Commandements con­tained in ordinances in relation to salvation upon this ground, be­cause the promise of heirship was not made to Abraham or to his seed through the Law, or upon condition of observing that, but through the righteousnesse of Faith, or upon condition of beleeving unto Justification. Of which wise and gracious disposition of these things by God, that the promise should be entailed upon beleeving rather than upon the observation of the Jewish Law, the Apostle gives this account ver. 16. It is by Faith saith he, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed, to wit of A­braham, not to that only which is of the Law, such as the Jews his Seed according to the flesh were, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, to wit, the beleeving Gentiles, who otherwise would have been excluded. So that the grace of God, and the good of men, are best provided for in this way, and that's the reason why God hath chosen this, and not the other.

Sect. 9 To draw to a conclusion of this matter, which is capable as you see of a large confirmation from Scripture, and to passe over what might be further enlarged to the same purpose from other passages in this Epistle, I shall present you only with a Text or two more elsewhere, Acts 15. where this very question is solemnly debated among the A­postles and Elders for that very purpose assembled at Jerusalem, viz. to resolve and determine this case, whether it were necessary for the Gentiles that beleeved to be Circumcised, and to keep the Law of Moses or no, ver. 1.5, 6: And when there had been much disput­ing (touching this question; at last) Peter rose up and said unto them, men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel and beleeve. And God which knoweth the hearts, bare them witnesse, giving them the Holy Ghost even as he did unto us: and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith, ver. 7, 8, 9. Where he gives this undeniable reason why this question should be resolved in the negative, why Circumcision and the Law should not be imposed upon the belee­ving Gentiles in order to their justification and salvation, viz. because God by his giving the holy Spirit to the Gentiles (Cornelius & the rest) Act. 10. that were uncircumcised; upon the same termes as he did unto the beleeving Jews that were Circumcised (Acts 11.17.) did bear them witnesse that he accepted them as well without the Law upon their beleeving, as he did the Jews with their Law; he [Page 17] bare them witnesse, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us. And that God made no difference at all between Jew and Gen­tile, as to give the Jew more because he was Circumcised, and kept the Law, or the Gentile lesse because of his uncircumcision, but their hearts and lives being purified, reformed by Faith, by their cleaving to Christs Doctrine, God bestowed the same pledge of his love upon the one as upon the other; the Law did not set the Jew higher in his savour, nor the want of it keep the Gentile under in his love, but being equall in Faith, they were equally accepted and be­loved of God: He put no difference between us and them saies Peter who was a Jew.

And when Peter at another time was found by his Brother Paul, not acting so evenly, according to this his present Declaration, but contrarily compelling the beleeving Gentiles to walk as did the Jews, Gal. 2.14. he reproves him for it upon this ground, that Peter him­self knew this, that they themselves who were by nature and birth Jews, and not sinners of the Gentiles, could not for all that be justi­fied by the Law, which they as Jews observed, but must be glad to come by it in the same way, and upon the same termes in which the sinners of the Gentiles did obtain it, to wit, the Faith of Jesus Christ, Gal. 2.14, 15, 16. If thou being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Iews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Iews? We who are Iews by nature, and not sinners of the Gen­tiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the Faith of Jesus Christ, even we have beleeved in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the Faith of Christ, and not by the Works of the Law; for by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified. By which the Apostle plainly intimates, that it was so far from being ne­cessary to compel the believing Gentiles to keep the law of the Jews to make them capable of justification; as that the Jews themselves who had the Law and the works of it, must needs lay aside the consi­deration thereof in their coming to God for justification, and must be content to receive it upon like termes of grace with the Gentiles themselves, as Paul himself did, Phil. 3.9. who desired to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness which was of their law as he was a Jew, but that which was through the Faith of Christ, as he was a Christian.

CHAP. III. Shewing how Love, Iustice, and Mercy, though comman­ded both in Law and Gospel, are to he rejected in the Iewish sense, and yet imbraced in the Christians, as necessary unto Iustification. Shewing also in what sence Works are necessary unto Iustification.

Sect. 1 HAving thus far shewed what Works they are which the Apostle in our Text excludes from Justification, as unnecessary there­unto, viz. such Works as were proper to the Jews, in contra-di­stinction to the Gentiles, which are in Scripture usually called the works of the Law; for about them did the controversie grow, as we have seen before: all that I shall now add by way of use as to this matter, shall be for caution: To take heed how we oppose Faith to Works, and that when we do so, be we sure to keep the Scripture road, which I have been now tracing out.

It is true, Faith and Love, are often in the New Testament, di­stinguished, or mentioned as things distinct, in a strict sence, Ephes. 6.23. 1 Tim. 1.14, and 2.15. 2 Tim. 1.13. Philem. 5. &c. but I am not without much confidence, that they are never opposed, as Faith and the Works of the Law are: as if a man that hath no Love might be justified by his Faith, as he that worketh not, or which hath no Works in our Apostles sence, may. It is no where neither in words nor sence said; But he that loveth not, but beleeveth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his Faith is counted to him for righte­ousnesse: but the contrary in substance is flatly affirmed by the A­postle James, chap. 2. besides other Scriptures, as I shall God willing come afterwards to shew. And therefore I do think that our Prote­stant Writers have given too much advantage to the Papists, whilst in asserting justification by Faith alone without any Works at all, they have in the mean while chiefly if not only, built this their asser­tion upon such Scriptures as my Text, with others of like nature, which treat, not of all Works in generall, but of such as did belong unto the Jews in special; and therefore are usually called the Works of the Law; or the Deeds of the Law. Works of what Law I pray [Page 19] you? but of that Law which as the Apostle saith pertained to the Is­raelites, Rom. 9.4. and which as the same Apostle saith also the Gen­tiles had not, Rom. 2.12.14. 1 Cor. 9.21.

Objection. Sect. 2 But when the Apostle opposeth this Law that was given unto the Jews unto Faith, and when he denies Justification to be by the works of that Law, is it not all one as if he should oppose Faith unto Works commanded in the Gospel? for the same Works of Love, Justice, and Mercy that are enjoyned in the Gospel, are also com­manded in the Law.

Answer. This indeed is an Objection that deserves consideration; but for answer take it thus. Though it be very true, that the same Works of Love, Justice, and Mercy, be enjoyned, both in Law and Gospel, yet it will not follow that when the Apostle opposeth the Works of the Law to Faith, that then he opposeth Gospel-works to Faith likewise, for these two Reasons.

1. Because those Works as they were enjoyned the Jews in the Law, were part of the first Covenant, but as they are enjoyned in the Gospel, so they are part of the second Covenant. But now the Law or first Covenant, (in the letter of it) was not of Faith, saith the Apostle: the things promised in it, were suspended, not upon the condition of beleeving, but of doing: But the man that doth them shall live in them, Gal. 3.12. Upon which account, and in re­spect whereof, the Works even of Love, Justice, and Mercy, as enjoyned under that Covenant, may possibly be opposed to Faith. Whereas the Gospel or new Covenant, which also contains in it precepts of Love; Equity, and Mercy, as well as promises of pardon, acceptation, and salvation, and not promising the enjoyment of the one, without obedience in the other; (as is further to be shewed afterwards) I say this Gospel or New Covenant is so of Faith, and all the conditional part of it so relating to, and depending upon Faith, as that it is so far from being opposed to Faith, as the other Covenant is, as that the whole Gospel, New-Testament or Cove­nant, both in its precepts and promises, bears the denomination of Faith, being sometimes stiled the Faith, Gal. 1.2, 3. and 3.23. Acts 6, 7. Romans 1.5. Iude 3. Sometimes the Law of Faith, Romans 3.27.

And when we suppose the duties and Works of Love to be oppo­sed to Faith under one Covenant for reasons proper to it, and yet [Page 20] yet the same Works not to be opposed to Faith in the other Cove­nant for reasons peculiar to it; let it not seem strange to any man; for it is no new thing to affirm and deny the same thing, under seve­ral circumstances, and different considerations; As the Apostle Iohn for example, touching this great Commandement of Love, of which we now speak; he affirms it to be no New Commandement, but an old, and yet presently again sayes the same is a New Commande­ment, 1 Iohn 2.7, 8. Brethren, I write no new Commandement un­to you, but an old Commandement, which ye had from the begin­ning: the old Commandement is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new Commandement I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you; because the darknesse is past, and the true light now shineth. The Law of Love is an old Commandement as it is part of the old Covenant, and yet the same is a new commandement as it is part of the new Covenant, being given a new by Christ, the Mediator thereof, and now upon new termes too, not as opposed to Faith, as in the former, but as in a collateral and subservient way, joyned with it in the latter. And besides this, the same Commandement under this new edition of it, comes out with inlargement, which makes it new: Which thing (saith the A­postle) is true in him, and in you. In him, who hath not onely given this new command, Iohn 13.34. A new Commandement I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you; but also hath given us the pattern of it in his own example, having so loved us as to lay down his life, and to give himself for us, Gal. 2.20 Which thing as it is true in him, so in you saith he, 1 Iohn 2.8. because we ought therefore, not only to love our Neighbour as our selves, as before it was commanded; but now even to lay down our lives for the brethren; 1 Iohn 3.16. as he hath done for us. Of all which, viz. that the same command though in one respect it was old, yet in another it was new, and truly verified both in Christ, and in the Saints, the Apostle gives this reason in the fore­mentioned place, 1 Iohn 2.8. Because the darknesse is past, and the true light now shineth: the different dispensing of the same thing, hath made this difference in it: it was an old Commandement as it was once enjoyned under the old Covenant, but now the dark­ness and obscutity of that Covenant and dispensation being past (as when once it grew old it was then ready to vanish, Heb. 8.13.) and the true and new light in the Gospel and new Covenant, now shining, under which the same duties of Love are enjoyned upon other terms [Page 21] then before, it might upon this account be well stiled a New Com­mandement, which yet in substance was an old one.

Sect. 3 2. But Secondly and chiefly, the reason why the Works of Love, Justice, and Mercy, as commanded in the Gospel, are not opposed to Faith by the Apostle in the point of Justification, though these and all other Works commanded in the Law in the sence in which they were asserted by the Jews, are opposed to Faith in that case, is this; because there is so vast a difference between the sence in which we do assert an Evangelical necessity of these to Justification, and that sence in which the Jews did assert the availableness of these together with other Works of the Law unto justification, as that the Apostle might well withstand the one sence as damnable, and yet the other in the mean while remain under his full approbation. For our Apostle was so far from denying the necessity of the Works of the Law unto justification, saving in that erronious sence in which the Jews main­tained them, as that he did affirm, that during the time in which they were enjoyned by God, justification was not to be had without them, (as conjoyned with Faith,) Rom. 2.13. For not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law shall be ju­stified. It was no more mens hearing of the Law, and leaning upon God (as some did Mic. 3.11.) without sincere obedience to the Law in one thing as well as in another, that would render them ac­ceptable to God then, than mens barren, formal, and dead Faith, under the profession of the Gospel, will without an upright and careful con­formity to the doctrin of Christ, render them acceptable to God now.

As concerning that sence in which the Jews asserted, and the Apo­stle denied the necessity of the works of the Law to justification, take it thus. They being ignorant of Gods Righteousness (Rom. 10.3.) and of his designe to teach men by the types and figures of the Law as by a school-master, to expect justification by the death of Christ, and Faith in his blood, (For by reason of the vail that was upon their hearts, they could not see to the end of that which is abolished, 2 Cor. 3.13, 14, 15.) I say, they being herein altogether igno­rant, were on the other hand highly confident, that God had ordain­ed their legal Sacrifices to purge them from their sins, and their obedi­ence in them and other points of the Law; to be the only means to invest them with all the good that ever the Lord intended them, not only in things temporal, but also spiritual and eternal. So that that which the Gospel attributes to the New Covenant, to the blood of it, to the faith of it, to the obedience of it; they attributed and [Page 22] ascribed all of it to the blood and obedience of the Old Cove­nant.

So that the question between the Apostle and them, was but this: Whether Eternal Redemption were to be had upon the First Cove­nant termes, or the Second; whether by the Works of the Law, or the Faith of the Gospel, the beleeving in, and subjecting to the Lord Jesus as that only name, way and means, in which Salvation is to be had. The Apostle he affirms, that Salvation is to be had by the lat­ter without the former, by the New Covenant termes without the Old; the Jews on the contrary they held that Salvation was to be had by the former without the latter, by the Works of the Law without beleeving in or obeying of Jesus. It is most evident and certain that thus and thus as hath been declared, is the true sence in which the Jews held the Works of the Law available to justification and salvation, and it is as clear likewise, that in the very same sence the Apostle doth deny and reject them, charging the whole stresse of all upon Christ, and beleeving in, and following of him.

Sect. 4 This is easie to be discerned in the Apostles Writings, of which I have given an account in my Second Chapter, to which I refer you, and shall here add two or three Texts more, Phil. 3.7, 8, 9. But what things were gain to me, those I counted losse for Christ; yea doubtlesse and I do count all things but losse for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the losse of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him not having mine own righteousnesse which is of the Law, but that which is through the Faith of Christ, the righteousnesse which is of God by Faith. He had shewed be­fore what the Jews trusted in, boasted of, and which he himself also whilst he was as they were, did count his gain, viz. Circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, touching the righteousnesse of the Law blamelesse. But when he became a Christian, he let go all these things which he held so fast before: took off and removed that con­fidence and stresse which he had placed in these, and now laies all up­on Christ, and Faith in him. That which he now expected by Christ, he did indeed expect by his righteousness in the Law before; but that which was his hope and his confidence, his joy and his glo­ry before, is now but loss and dung with him, when once the excel­lency of the knowledge of the way of Salvation by Christ, does ap­pear. Now all his desire is to be found in Christ, rejoycing in [Page 23] Christ, trusting in Christ, cleaving to Christ; not any more to be found in the dress of his own righteousness which was of the Law, the first Covenant righteousness, that righteousness in the Law, touching which as he sayes he was blameless, vers. 6. Which whilst he expected Salvation by it, was a righteousness or way of justifica­tion of his own setting up, never of Gods appointing. In oppositi­on whereto, he desires now to be found in that righteousness which is of God through Faith; in that state of justification and salvation, which God in the Gospel hath setled and established upon beleeving in Jesus. So that here in this Contexture of Scripture, you have the Jews righteousness or justification, and the Christians; through both which this Apostle had passed, and of both which he had made tryal: the Jews claim was by the Law, and the works thereof, but the Christians by the Gospel, and the Faith, and obedience thereof: the act of his conversion was his renouncing of the former, and clea­ving to the latter.

Romans Chapter 9. Verse 30, 31, 32. What shall we say then, that the Gentiles which followed not after righteousnesse, have attained to righteousnesse, even the righteousnesse which is of Faith: but Israel which followed after the Law of righteousnesse hath not attained to the Law of righteousnesse; Wherefore? be­cause they sought it not by Faith, but as it were by the works of the Law; for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone. Here we have two manner of people, the Gentiles and the Jews; and two sorts of righteousness, the one of the Law, the other of Faith, or of the Gospel. The Gentiles who had not followed after righteous­ness, but lived in Idolatry, Sin, and Wickedness, and without God in the World, being altogether strangers to the Common-wealth of Is­rael, and that Covenant of Promise, yet attained to righteousness, a state of justification and acceptation before God, upon their recei­ving the Gospel, the doctrine of life and salvation, when it was brought among them. The Jews though they followed after the law of righteousness, those laws wherein a righteous conversation was commanded by God, and did many of the things that were com­manded therein, having a zeal towards God, yet for all that, did not arrive at that justification and acceptation with God, which the Gen­tiles attained, and the reason was, because they did not seek it in the Gospel-way in which the Gentiles found it: they should have let go the doctrine of Moses, and have imbraced the doctrine of Christ, and have reckoned themselves but in the same capacity with the [Page 24] Gentiles for all their Works of the Law, and have said as some of them did, We beleeve that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved even as they, Acts 15.11. But instead of this they stumbled at that stumbling-stone, Christ Jesus and him crucified, and the offer of salvation by him, and did adhere unto the works of the Law for all things pertaining to salvation, and would have Justification upon the Law termes; this ran in their mind, if a man do those things he shall live in them, and so ventured all upon that score. It was quite beyond their expectation that the Messiah when ever he should come, should turn them out of their way of Sacrificing, by becoming a Sacrifice himself, or that their expectation of remission of sin, should be taken off the former, and placed on the latter: and therefore they cleaving to the letter of the Law for eter­nal salvation, which so far was ordained by God but for a temporal, and rejecting Christ and the termes of salvation by him which the Law pointed them to in the spiritual signification of it, of which they were wholly ignorant, hence it came to pass, that for all their la­bouring, seeking, and striving after righteousness, justification, and salvation, yet they missed it, as seeking it out of Gods way, upon their own termes, not Gods.

Gal. 2.21. For if righteousnesse come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain. How could that be? but that they did attribute and ascribe the same attoning, virtue, and sin-purging efficacy unto the works of the Law, which the Gospel does attribute unto the blood of Jesus. And then indeed if it had been so as they supposed it was, that sacrifices or any other works of the Law, could have purged sin so as Christ does by his death and blood, then the death of Christ would have been in vain, God would never have put himself to that charge as to give his Son to death to take away the sin of men, if the works, of the Law had been a competent means to bring it about. If there had been a Law (saith the same Apostle) which could have gi­ven life, verily righteousnesse should have been by the Law, Gal. 3.21. If the Law and the Wotks therein commanded, could have done the same thing towards the conferring of life and salvation upon men which is now brought to passe by the coming and dying of Je­sus, then righteousness and life should have been by that. But now inasmuch as that God hath given his Son to dye, (for here he writes to those that did acknowledge Christ and his death, but withall in­clined to that opinion Acts 15. that except men kept the law of Mo­ses they could not be saved) since God hath given his Son to dye, it [Page 25] is (as if he should say) manifest that the Law fell short in ability of doing that for men, for the doing of which God sent his own Son, Rom. 8.3. For what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sent his own Son in the similitude of sinfull flesh, and for sin, (or by a sacrifice for sin as it is in the margent) condem­ned sin in the flesh. What the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, that is (I conceive) through or by reason of the sins of the flesh; the sinful condition of man was so great, as that it quite over-topt the purging power of the Law, the disease was too strong to be cured with such a purge, the sins of the flesh over­matched the Law in this kind, and rendred it weak: and therefore God was fain to send his own Son to condemn sin, to take away the destroying power of sin by the sacrifice of himself, for that the Law could not do it by its sacrifice.

In that the Apostle writes so much and in so many places (for there are many more besides these) touching the weaknesse and dis-ability of the Law to do that for men which God sent Christ to do for them, it is in opposition to those who magnified the Law as if it had been able to do all that for them, which the Apostle doth ascribe to Christ as done by him.

By what hath been now said I think it doth fully appear in what sence the Jews asserted the Works of their Law in the point of Justi­fication, and likewise in what sence the Apostle denies them.

Sect. 5 And now if any man shall say, that Love, Iustice, and Mercy, yea or the act of Faith it self, or any other work commanded in the Gospel, does justifie as Christs blood justifies, by way of attonement for sin, let him be accursed. It is the prerogative royal peculiarly and alone belonging to Christ, thus to justifie, in which no creature in Heaven or Earth, or any action of any creature, bears any the least share, Heb. 1.3. When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high. To purge from sin is the self-work of Christ, Heb. 7.27. and 9.26, 28. and 10, 12, 14. When some of the Galatians were but about to attribute the same justifying power unto the Law, which they had acknowledged to be in Christ, Paul testifies to them that in doing so they would render Christ of none effect to them, and fall from grace, Gal. 5.4. So dange­rous a thing is it to joyn any in competition or co-partnership with Christ in this work, or to attribute the same justifying vertue to any beside him. And if any among the Papists should ascribe any such operation or vertue to any of their works, though as dipt in the [Page 26] blood of Christ, and receiving their vertue from that, it would doubt­lesse be found a piece of high presumption, and a sin of a daring na­ture before the Lord.

But alass how far off are we from ascribing any such power, opera­tion or vertue unto any work which a Christian can do Nay Faith it self, though it be so necessary unto justification, as that without which the blood of Christ will not justifie and save men, yet it is far from being necessary upon any such account as if it could in the least operate as Christs blood does, or add any thing unto the saving vertue thereof; and yet necessary it is, because such is the Will of God, as that the saving benefit of that blood shall not be made over unto any man, but upon condition of his beleeving. So I say of Works (I mean Gospel-obedience) though we say they are so neces­sary as that no mans Faith shall justifie him that is void of them, or which is all one, that no mans Faith shall justifie him without them; yet we say also, that they are far from being necessary upon any such score as Christs blood is necessary, or as if they could contribute any thing unto its atoneing vertue. Nor is it necessary in this case to suppose them to be formally of the nature of Faith, nor to be es­sential to the act of beleeving; nor that the same justifying act, of­fice, or power is placed in them by God, as is in Faith: Yet necessa­ry they are unto justification, because such is the will and good plea­sure of God, as that though he will have Faith to entitle men to the justifying and saving benefit of Christs blood, yet he will not interess an unprofitable, dead, barren, fruitless, formal Faith in that saving benefit and priviledges of the New Covenant, but reserves this ho­nour for that Faith only which is an active lively working Faith, and which makes a man as well ready and desirous to give honour and glory unto the Lord in doing his will, as to receive honour and glory from him in the way of beleeving his promise. This God wil­ling I shall make fully evident, when I come to treat of the doctrine of Faith and Justification by it, in the handling of the second part of my Text.

Sect. 6 In the mean while if this burden any mans mind, how to think or conceive that Faith in its first justifying act in closing with Christ, should be accompanied with Works, when as that first act is done in an instant, but Faiths bearing of Fruit, and producing of good works, is a work of time, and shal therefore think that sure Faith must needs be alone and without works in the first act of its justifying work, whatever it be after, I shall ease this burden, and answer this ob­jection by distinguishing of Works.

There are two sorts of Works.

  • 1. Such as consist in will, purpose, and desire.
  • 2. Such as consist in the actual execution of those resolutions and desires.

That those motions, resolutions, and desires that are transacted in the wil, by way of preparation of turning them into actions of another nature when opportunity shall serve, I say that these are works in Gods account, who is as well privy to them as to external actions, is most evident. Mic. 2.1. Wo to them that devise ini­quity, and work evill upon their beds: when the morning is light they practice it, because, it is in the power of their hand. Their de­vising and resolving upon evill in the night, in order to the practice of it in the day, is called a working of evill upon their beds. Again Psalm 58.2. Yea in heart ye work wickedness: you weigh the vio­lence of your hands in the earth. The evill actions and motions of the mind and will, are called a working of wickednesse in the heart; as the looking on a Woman to lust after her, is called the commit­ting adultry with her in the heart. Mat. 5.28. All which is as true of good intentions, resolutions and desires, as of evill; the resol­ving upon good when opportunity presents, is a working of good in the soul as well as the resolving upon evill upon like termes is the working of evill.

Now then that Faith which is not accompanied with good Works of this kind in the souls first fastening upon Christ by Faith for salva­tion; I say, that soul that does not come to Christ with a sence of such worthinesse in him, as to desire and resolve through the strength of his grace to give up it self to him, and to be commanded by him, that Faith, that soul, by all the light that I can get from Scripture, is never like to be accepted, or to pass for currant in Christs account. Nor will such desires and resolutions do it neither, that are but airy, and of the nature of false Conceptions, and which spend themselves and languish and vanish in desiring and resolving, like the sluggard Solomon speaks of, Prov. 13.4. Whose soul desireth and hath no­thing: No; unlesse they have that truth and reality, that strength and substance, as to be delivered of such conceptions, and to bring forth fruit to perfection when opportunity comes, and not like that corn that groweth upon the house-top, that withereth before it come to maturity, they are never like to obtain the honour and re­putation of such desires and resolutions as will passe for good works in Gods account. But if the soul in its first closing with Christ by [Page 28] Faith, go armed, and the Faith of the soul attended with real, hear­ty, and unfeigned desires and purposes to render unto the Lord in love, honour, and service, according to the benefit it expects to re­ceive from him, and that nothing but lack of opportunity, hinders the real acting and executing these desires and resolves with suitable endeavours, doubtlesse that soul, that faith, is accepted with the Lord, as well as if all those purposes, inclinations and desires of the soul, were so many visible works, so many actual performances. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath; and not according to that he hath not. 2 Cor. 8.12. If it hath but passed the will in good earnest, it is not the want of more ability, or more opportunity, that will hinder the mans acceptation, but accepted he is and shall be with the Lord with what he hath in this kind, be it more or be it lesse.

And now having shewed you both in what sence the unbeleeving Jews did, and in what sence we do hold Works necessary unto Justi­fication and salvation; I now pray you to make judgement upon the whole, and let your own conscience speak, whether there be the least or lightest probability, that when the Apostle rejecteth the works of the Law from Justification, in the sence in which the Jews asserted them, that then and therein he should also reject the chri­stian resolutions and endeavours commanded in the Gospel upon pain of damnation, from justification in the sence in which I have supposed them absolutely necessary thereunto.

Sect. 7 Neither is this any new Doctrine, only it may be I have used a lit­tle more liberty of expression in asserting the necessity of Works to justification, then many others who have been over-awed by a mis­understanding of Pauls saying in my Text, have adventured to do. Otherwise, though there seems to be an over-tenderness and shiness in our Protestant Authors, while engaged against the Papists, to say in plain words that any Works are necessary to justification, yet in the mean while they confidently and boldly assert in other words that which amounts to as much, and signifies the same thing. For that they might not be thought by denying the necessity of good works unto justification, to open a gap unto carnal liberty, and to lay a temptation upon men to be lesse carefull in the great work of San­ctification, they are wont to assert over and over, that though they do not hold good Works necessary to justification, yet they do hold them necessary unto salvation, so that though men may be justified without them, yet they cannot be saved without them.

But I demand, what Justification is that which will not put men into an immediate capacity of salvation? but that there is a necessity of Works to do this for men? Can any call this a justification unto life, as the Scripture calls that justification which is of the Gospel­kinds, Rom: 5.18. And does it not come to the same issue to say that Faith without Works will not justifie, and to say that justifica­tion without works will not save? for is justification any thing else then a discharging or setting a man free from condemnation, and consequently bringing him into a condition of life? so that whether the defect lie in the Faith that should justifie, because of the absence of Works, or whether in the justification it self, because of the absence of Works, it matters not; for it seems there is the same necessity of Works unto Salvation on which side soever it fall: with the sence of which necessity, to fill the hearts and souls of men, is the thing I drive at in this discourse.

But that to grant Works necessary unto salvation, is all one in effect as to grant them necessary unto justification; and that there is no more danger in the one then in the other; and that the diffe­rence between the one and the other is but in a sound of words, and not in substance of matter, and consequently that they that deny the necessity of Works in the one sence, and yet grant it in the other, do but restore with the right hand, what they unduly took away with the left, is a thing clear and evident from the Scriptures as well as from the reason of the thing which I thus declare.

1. Our Apostle Paul uses these two phrases, to be justified, and to live, as words equivolent and importing the same thing, and reckons it a good demonstration to prove that men are not justified by the works of the Law, but by Faith, inasmuch as that the Scripture saith, The just shall live by Faith, Gal. 3.11. But that no man is ju­stified by the Law in the sight of God it is evident: for the just shall live by Faith. Which would be a defective way of arguing, if to be justified and to live were not the same thing with the Apo­stle. So again vers. 21. of the same Chapter: For if there had been a Law given which could have given life, verily righteousnesse should have been by the Law. Here we see again that righteousnesse and life are convertable termes with the Apostle; if life, then righte­ousnesse, if righteousnesse, then life by the Law. And so to be ju­stified, and to be blessed, is all one thing with the same Apostle, Gal. 3.8, 9. Rom. 4.7, 8, 9. And to be saved, or to be justified, is the same thing which the Apostle James, according to the tenour of his [Page 30] reasoning, James 2. from verse the fourteenth, to the four and twentieth.

2. Justification and condemnation are in Scripture put in direct opposition one to another, Rom. 5.18. and 8.33. So that he that is justified, is free from condemnation, and to be free from condem­nation, and to be in a state of Salvation, is as much one, as not to dye, is to live.

3. Salvation as well as Justification is promised to beleeving, John 3.16. Acts 16.31. Heb. 10.39. therefore to be in a salvable condition is the immediate effect of Faith, as well as to be justified, and consequently that a man is as soon in a salvable condition as in a justified condition; and if so, then look what is necessary to the being of the one, is necessary to the being of the other also, with a necessity sine qua non, without which neither will be.

And now what doth all this prove? but that if men cannot be in a salvable condition without Works, (which is the thing granted) then neither can they be in a justified condition without them, be­cause there is no separating of these. But I still desire you, that when I thus speak of the necessity of good Works unto Justification, that you will do me and your selves too that right as to understand me in the sence in which I have explained my self before, viz. that they are necessary so, as to render that Faith by which men are justified to be of the right kind, and such unto which Justification is promised. Under which sence I am far enough from complying with the Pa­pists, who (if they be not wronged) hold Works to be satisfactory, Propitiatory, and meritorious; for that's their charge; see Dr. Dow­nam's Treatise Justi. lib. 7. cap. 1. §. 1. And as I am far from complying wth them, so am I far enough from differing from those that oppose them, if their own concessions about the necessity of Works, may be but fairly construed and argued upon. This by what I have but newly said doth plainly appear, & might be further evinced by other of their sayings wherein they do acknowledg, That that Faith which is alone, severed from charity, and destitute of good Works, doth neither ju­stifie nor save, but that there is a necessity of them, a necessity of presence, though not of efficiency, and that they must concur with Faith in the subject or party justified, though not in the act of Ju­stification. And what's all this less than that which I have said? I say Faith void of Works will not justifie, They say that Faith which is alone severed from charity, and destitute of good Works, will [Page 31] not justifie nor save. I say it's not necessary to hold or say that the same justifying act, office, or power is placed in them as is in Faith. They say they are not necessary by way of efficiency. I say God denies the justifying priviledge unto a barren, dead Faith, and re­serves it only for a lively working Faith; they say there's a necessi­ty of presence, and that they concur with Faith in the subject or par­ty justified, though not in the act of justifying.

So that a necessity of Gospel-obedience to accompany that Faith which shall justifie, is acknowledged on all hands.

And if men had but laid out themselves as much to possess the peo­ple with a thorow sence of this, as they have to preserve them from the errors of the Papists on the other hand, it might I conceive have been much better with their Souls, then now it is. For while their ears and eyes have been filled so much with the doctrine of Justifica­tion by Faith without Works (when they have meant it only in op­position to the Popish sence) and so little with the Doctrine touch­ing the unavailablenesse of that Faith unto Justification, that does not knit the Soul to Christ with such love, as by which men deny them­selves of their Lusts and sinful pleasures, and follow after righteous­nesse and holinesse with them that call upon the Lord with a pure heart; hence I fear it hath come to passe, that the generality of men among us have had so little sence of the necessity of a godly life, and have presumed so much upon their Faith touching Christ, (which yet hath been but the dead Faith James speaks of) as that they have to the sad deceiving of their own Souls, thought themselves in safe condition, although they have lived sensual and carnal lives, and have been strangers to the work of the new Creature, the power of Godlinesse, and the life of Holinesse, without which for all their Faith, no man shall see the Lord.

But alass how should it be otherwise, when as it is too manifest, that the Leaders and Guides of the people themselves, except here and there one, have had little of this sence and savour, but have built so much upon the act of beleeving, and so little upon a faithful sub­jection to Christs Doctrine (which for ought I can see, is as necessary to render Faith available in its place, as Faith is necessary to render the blood of Christ available in its place, as to a mans personal Justi­fication) as if that subjection were not at all necessary unto the be­ing of a mans justification before God, but usefull onely to declare him to himself, and unto men to be justified. And under this Soul-deceiving apprehension, and mistaken notion and principle, the [Page 32] Ministers, too many of them have indulged themselves and people too, in a dull, heavy, cold, partial, flat, and lesse than formal way of professing the Gospel, to the hazard of their precious Souls. And O that this might but awaken any of them that take upon them the care of Souls, to lay this matter more to heart, before it be too late, and the opportunity past.

And thus I have now done with the first part of my Text, wherein I have shewed in what sence Paul makes no reckoning of Works in the point of Justification. Come we now to the handling of that which remains touching the imputation of his Faith for righteous­nesse, who beleeveth on him that justifieth the ungodly.

CHAP. IV. Setting forth the object of justifying Faith, and shew­ing the beleeving in whom, and the beleeving of what it is, that will be counted for Righteousnesse.

Sect. 1 IN the handling of the latter part of these words, But to him that worketh not, but beleeveth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his Faith is counted for righteousnesse, I would open these three things.

1. The believing in whom, and the believing of what, it is, to which the promise of Justification or the Imputation of Righteous­ness is made.

2. What, or what manner of believing it is, that hath the great promise of Justification annexed to it.

3. How, or in what sence this Faith in men, is counted unto them for righteousness. Which three things I conceive contain the sum and substance of the Doctrine of Justification.

Let us now begin with the first of these, and see from the Scriptures who and what is the right object of saving Faith. Him, whom the Apostle here in the Text propounds as the object of this belief, is said to be him who justifieth the ungodly. Whether by him that justifieth the ungodly we should understand God the Father distin­ctly, or his Son Jesus Christ, it will not be so needfull to enquire; since as [Page 33] both concur in justifying the ungodly, so both are the object of ju­stifying Faith. For as in due time Christ dyed for the ungodly, (Rom. 5.6.) that he might justifie them by his blood, so God the Father hath set him forth to be a propitiation through Faith in his blood, Rom. 3.25. And as to understand the Apostle as meaning the Father, seems to suit best with the precedent verses, so to under­stand him as not excluding the Son, will well answer his general de­sign in asserting attonement, remission of sins, or justification by Christ for the ungodly Gentiles upon their beleeving, in opposition to those who appropriated these to the Works of Moses Law. It's true, there is a great variety of expression used in Scripture to set forth the object of Faith; sometimes making God the Father, and his record concerning his Son, the object; and sometimes Christ as Messiah promised, as Son of God, as dying, as rising again; and sometimes the word or doctrine of Christ or his Apostles; but all re­lating to, and depending originally upon the Father. I shall touch each of these particularly, but with much brevity, because I hope you are not so much unacquainted with these things, as I fear you are in that upon which I principally intend enlargement.

Sect. 2 I. Justification is ascribed unto God the Father, as him in whom we must beleeve, and upon whom we must depend for it, in many o­ther Scriptures beside my Text, Rom. 8.33. and 3.30. Gal. 3.8. Hence justification is called the righteousnesse of God, and the righ­teousnesse which is of God, as he being the Author and founder of it, Rom. 3.21. and 10.3. Phil. 3.9.

1. It was found out and contrived by his infinite wisdom, Eph. and therefore Christ whom he sent to put in execution that wonderfull, profound contrivance of his, is called the wisdom of God, 1 Cor. 1, 24. Christ the power of God, and the wisdome of God.

2. God the Father is the Author of it, and object of our Faith a­bout it, because it issues and proceeds out of the womb of his grace, where this blessed design was first conceived, Rom. 3.24. Being ju­stified freely by his grace. The goodness and compassionateness of his nature, meeting with the misery and necessity of his poor crea­ture, inclined him to set such a thing on foot, disposed him to use both his Wisdom and Power to contrive and bring it to passe. The creature neither did nor could put any obligation upon him to do this thing for him, but by sin and unworthiness, provoked him to that which was quite contrary, and therefore the more wonderfull, [Page 34] that it should make its way through so many, and so mighty contra­ry provocations which it meets with from men. This grace of God is so great a doer, hath so mighty a hand, so potent an influence in the whole and entire business of Mans Election, Redemption, Justifi­cation, Adoption, Sanctification, Eternal Life and Salvation, that all from first to last, from the beginning to the end, is worthily ascribed to the riches of his grace, both in the things themselves, and means of their accomplishment; as might easily be shewn from Scripture; but I will hasten on my way.

3. The means by which this justification is effected and brought to passe, are of and from God the Father, and their power to justi­fie depends upon his will appointing them to that end. 1. Christ is the great means of bringing this about, but yet is given and sent by the Father for that purpose: Whom God (saith he) hath set forth to be a propitiation for sin, Rom. 3.25. In that Christ becomes righ­teousness or justification to men, it is because God would have it so, 1 Cor. 1.30. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, &c. Again, it is God that was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing trespasses, 2 Cor. 5.19. It is he that hath made us accepted in the beloved, Ephes. 1.6. Then said he, lo, I come to do thy will, O God: by the which will we are sanctified through the offering up of the body of Jesus Christ once for all; Heb. 10.9, 10. Though we are san­ctified by the offering up of the body of Jesus, yet it is by vertue of the will of the Father, which the Son came to do, and to fulfill. Ac­cording to these Scriptures, the attoneing, purging power and vertue of Christs blood, seems to depend upon the Divine will and good pleasure of the Father. Else if it did not, why should not the whole world be justified? for Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, 1 Iohn 2.2. and why then is not the whole world justified? Surely it is not because the Sacrifice of Christ is not as sufficient to justifie all, as some, the whole world, for whom he dyed, as a few only, which shall actually be justified and saved; but it is because the Fathers will is such, that the justifying, saving bene­fit of his death, shall be limited unto such only as do beleeve, Iohn 3.16. God so loved the world as that he gave his only begotten Son. (viz. to or for the world, or whole world, 1 Iohn 2.2. but yet so, and upon such termes, as) that whosoever beleeveth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life, The will of the Father pich­es the bounds how far the justifying vertue of his Sons blood shall [Page 35] extend, and determines the termes upon which it shall be actually en­joyed. And so 2. It is in respect of Faith, (another, and compa­red with Christ, an inferior means of mans justification) it does not justifie in its own name, or by its own power or vertue, but its abi­lity in this behalf to justifie and save, depends meerly upon the will of him that hath appointed it to this office: but of this after­wards.

So then the grace, power, and authority to justifie, recides origi­nally in the Father, and what force and power there is in Faith, or more remotely in Works, to justifie, they have it by way of designa­tion, and act what they do act in that kind, not out of any intrinsi­cal worth or merit, but meerly in the strength, and by the authority of the will of God. And however there is in the blood of Christ a richness of intrinsical worth and vertue, of it self to justifie, (as is clearly intimated when it's said, We are bought with a price, 1 Cor. 6.20. Purchased with his blood, Acts 20.28. &c.) yet since Christ did not glorifie himself to be made an High Priest, and to offer himself a Sacrifice, but was made so by the Father, (Heb. 5.5.) thence it is that the Priestly offering and sacrifice it self in the effecting of that thing to which it is appointed by the Father, viz. the purgation of sins, and justification of sinners, hath a dependance upon the Fa­thers will. And therefore when men do beleeve in, and depend up­on Christ for justification, they do ultimately beleeve in, and depend upon the Father for it, Iohn 12.44. Jesus cryed, and said, he that beleeveth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 1 Peter 1.21. Who by him do beleeve in God that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your Faith and hope might be in God. The Father hath the power of life and death, hath the power of gi­ving Laws to his Creature, (Iames 4.12.) it's his Law that is trans­gressed by Sin, and against him that the offence is committed, (Psal. 51.4.) and therefore it belongs to him to forgive sin, (Isai. 43.25. Luke 5.21.) and accordingly Christ directs us to pray the Father to forgive our Trespasses, Mat. 6.12. It's true also, that the Son hath the same power of life and death, of giving Laws, and forgiving sins, For all power both in Heaven and earth, is given unto him, that all men should honour the Son, even as they that honour the Father. But this he hath according to the order of his being, from the Fa­ther, Mat. 28.18. Iohn 3.35. and 17.2.

Faith acts it self upon the Father as its object in three respects es­pecially; First by believing him to be the true God in opposition to Idols, and all false gods, Iohn 17.3. This is life eternal to know thee the only true God, &c. 1 Cor. 8.6. But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, Eph. 4.6. One God and Father of all.

Secondly by believing that notwithstanding the sin of men, that he (having received an attonement in his Sons blood) is most willing to be favourable and gracious, not only in forgiving, but also in re­warding such who duly and diligently seek his favour, grace, and love, in such wayes, and by such means, as he himself hath appointed for that end. Heb. 11.6. But without Faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, (there's the former act of Faith touching the truth of his being,) and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Thirdly by trusting in and relying on his might, mercy, grace, and love, for pardon, justification, and eternal salvation, Psalm 52.8. But I will trust in the mercy of the Lord for ever, Rom. 4.5. But beleeveth on him that justifieth the ungodly, Iohn 5.24. But all this (at least since God was manifested in the flesh) in and by Christ, there being no coming to, or believing in the Father but by him, Iohn 14.6. 1 Pet. 1.21. Though formerly he was worshipped and ser­ved under the name and title of the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, & the God of Iacob, yet now in the New Testament under the Name and Title of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Eph. 1.17. and 3.14.

Sect. 3 I might here shew also that the word, promise, or record of the Father concerning his Son, is the object of Faith: Yea Abrahams justification is cast upon his beleeving this word of God; So shall thy seed be. For Abraham beleeved God, and it was counted to him for righteousnesse, Gen. 15.6. Rom. 4.3.18. Gal. 3.6.8. Iames 2.23. Now the record which the Father hath given of Christ in the New Testament as the object of Faith, is two-fold. 1. That he is his beloved Son in whom he is well pleased, and that he ought to be heard and obeyed, Mat. 3.17. and 17.5. And 2. That in him is life, and that salvation is now offered to the World by beleeving in, and obeying of him, 1 Iohn 5.9, 10, 11, 12. If we receive the witnesse of men the witnesse of God is greater: for this is the wit­nesse of God, which he hath testified of his Son. He that beleeveth on the Son hath the witnesse in himself: he that beleeveth not God [Page 37] hath made him a lyar, because he beleeveth not the record which God gave of his Son. And this is the record which God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. This testimony which the Father gave of his Son, was partly by voice from Heaven, 2 Pet. 1.17, 18. and partly by those Works which he gave him to finish, by which men saw his glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father; Iohn 5.36. I have greater wit­nesse then that of Iohn; for the works which the Father hath gi­ven me to finish, the same works that do I, bear witnesse of me, that the Father hath sent me, John 10.37, 38. If I do not the works of my Father beleeve me not: but if I do, though ye beleeve not me, yet beleeve the works; that ye may know and beleeve that the Father is in me; and I in him.

Sect. 4 II. As the Father, so also Christ the Son is in Scripture set forth, as the more immediate object of Faith. Acts 16.31. And they said beleeve on the Lord Iesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Now ye must know, that Christ is propounded as the object of Faith in several respects, and under several considerations.

Sect. 5 1. As he is the Messias of which Moses and the Prophets wrote and said should come. And therefore is Christ called the He that should come, Mat. 11.3. Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? John 13.19. Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to passe, ye may beleeve that I am HE. It was one thing to beleeve in general according to the Prophets that Messiah should come, (which was the common Faith of the Jews, and as it should seem of the Samaritans too, Iohn 4.25.) and another thing to be­leeve in particular, that Jesus which is come is the Christ. This was the Faith of such as did receive him, and cleave to him when he did come, Iohn 11.27. She said, yea, Lord, I beleeve that thou art the Christ the Son of God which should come into the world. The want of which is the destroying sin that lies so heavy upon the Jews, John 8.24. For if ye beleeve not that I am HE, ye shall dye in your sins.

2. Christ as he is the Son of God is made the object of Faith, Joh. 20, 31. But these are written, that ye might beleeve that Iesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that beleeving, ye might have life through his name, Acts 8.37.1 John 5.1, 4, 5. and 4.15. By Faith he is beleeved to be the Son of God, not as Adam was the Son of God, viz. by Creation, Lu. 3. last, in which sence we are all his Offspring, Act. 17.28. Nor yet as the Saints are the Sons of God, to wit by Adoption, Gal: 4.5. but [Page 38] that he is the begotten, yea the only begotten Son of the Father; so the Son, and so begotten of the Father; as none else is among all the creation of God, John 1.14. and 3.18. He that beleeveth on him, is not condemned; but he that beleeveth not is condemned already, because he hath not beleeved in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Sect. 6 3. Christ as dying and shedding his blood, is the object of Faith; and that by which sinners become justified, Rom. 5.9. Much more then being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. Rom. 3.25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through Faith in his blood. Faith eyes the blood of Christ as its object, under a three-fold consideration.

First it believes that Christ did dye and shed his blood for our sins, 1 Cor. 15.2, 3. If ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, un­lesse ye have beleeved in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all, that which I also received, how that Christ dyed for our sins according to the Scriptures, Mat. 26.28, For this is my blood of the New Testa­ment, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Secondly, that this death and shedding of this blood of Christ is both the only and the all-sufficient means appointed by God to make an attonement for, and to purge away sin, Heb: 1.3. When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high, Revels 1.5. Ʋnto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, &c. Heb. 10.14. For by one offering hath he per­fected for ever them that are sanctified, Heb. 9.14. How much more shall the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Thirdly, as it beleeves the blood of Christ to be it, and it alone that is in it self, and by the ordination of God, fully sufficient to take away sin, the guilt of it, or the condemning power, or destroy­ing nature of it, so accordingly does it relye upon this blood of Christ under the gracious appointment of the Father, to do this great thing for him to particular, in whom this Faith dwells. Rom: 8.25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through Faith in his blood. In this Scripture there are three things that are especially to be marked in relation to the point in hand. 1. That Christs blood is the blood of propitiation, or that Christ himself is the propitiation by means of his blood, i. e. the reconciler, the procurer of savour, in pardon or remission. 2. That God hath ordained him in his blood thus to be, and accordingly hath proposed and offered him to all the world as a [Page 39] publick propitiation, but yet so, and upon condition that men have Faith in his blood, i. e. do believe it to be of it self, and by the appoint­ment of the Father, of sufficient efficacy, force, and vertue, to purge them from their sins. Which Faith also must be of the right kind, or else it will not interesse any man in this great benefit. 3. That which is moreover implyed, is, that the Faith of a man feeling so good a foundation and ground under it, as is the blood of Christ in conjunction with the Fathers will, as by which to be confident of a plenary purgation from all sins, how great, or how many soever they have been, does accordingly safely and securely build there­upon.

Sect. 7 4. Christ as being risen from the dead is the object of justifying Faith, Rom. 10.9. If then shalt confess with thy meuth the Lord Ie­sus, and shalt beleeve in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved, Rom. 4.25. Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our Iustification. And no marvel that the Resurrection of Christ should be the object of sa­ving Faith, inasmuch as in it is included the beleef of the main foun­dation Doctrines of the Gospel, and without it Faith could have no firm footing to rest upon touching other great Gospel-truths. As,

1. The beleeving of him to be the Son of God (which is an in­gredient absolutely necessary in the Gospel-faith) doth at least in great part depend upon the Faith of his Resurrection. For Faith can ground its belief touching his being the Son of God, upon nothing else than that which declares him to be so. But now he is declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the Re­surrection from the dead, Rom. 1.4.

2. The keeping promise and Covenant with the holy Patriarchs and their Seed, (which Faith must needs eye) did depend upon Gods raising Christ from the dead, Acts 13.32, 33. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the Fa­thers. God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children in that he hath raised up Iesus again as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And again, Acts 2.30, 31. Therefore being a Prophet, and knowing that God hath sworn with an Oath to him, that of the fruit of his loyns, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit upon his throne; he seeing this before, spake of the Resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

3. The Resurrection of Christ is so necessary to Justification, and to the Faith of it, that take away this, and Justification, and the beleef of it are all laid in the dust, 1 Cor. 15.14, 17. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your Faith is also vain. And again vers. 17. And if Christ be not raised, your Faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins. Without beleeving is no ju­stification, and if there had been no Resurrection of Christ, there could have been no Faith touching that attonement that is now made by his death. For could men have beleeved that the death of Christ had been of sufficient force and vertue to expiate sin, had it not been manifested by his Resurrection? surely no. For so long as he was under the power of death, he was under the power of sin, of which death is but the wages, For in that he dyed, he dyed unto sin (saith the Apostle,) Rom. 6.10. The sting of Death, (to wit, that which gives it power of prevailing over the creature) is sin, 1 Cor. 15.56. And the time when that saying, O death, where is thy sting, O grave, where is thy victory, shall be brought to passe, is not till the day of Resurre­ction, When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality, 1 Cor. 15.54. And therefore as the Saints shall not actually and perfectly be delivered from all the effects of sin till the day of their Resurrection, so neither was Christ delivered from that burden of other mens sins which he bore in his own body, untill he rose from the dead. And if sin had been too hard for him in keeping him under the power of death, it would much more have been too hard for us.

But in that God raised Christ from the dead, he did as it were there­by acknowledge satisfaction for the debt of mens sins, which he by his death, as a surety had discharged. While he lay in the grave he was detained as a prisoner for other mens debts, but when the pri­son doors were opened and he let out, the Father acknowledged sa­tifaction, and did as it were seal him in the behalf of those for whom he undertook, a release and discharge. By his entring into suffer­ing, he took the sins of the world upon him, but by his Resurrection by which he came out of his suffering-state, he put them off. As in his suffering he was made sin for us, and dealt with as if he had been a sinner, so by his Resurrection he was justified from those sins which were imputed to him. And unlesse he had been first justified from our sins, which were imputed to him all the while he suffered, we could not have been justified from them our selves. And there­fore no marvel that the Apostle should attribute our Justification [Page 41] with a Rather, unto the Resurrection of Christ, than to his Death, as he does, Rom. 8.33, 34. Who is he that condemneth? it is God that justifieth: it is Christ that dyed, yea rather that is risen again. He seems to feel a firmer footing for his Faith in the Resurrection of Christ, than in his death; more to bear him out against the accusati­ons of any that had a mind to condemn him: the answer which a good conscience makes, it is by the Resurrection of Christ from the dead, 1 Pet. 3.21.

4. I might here add; that the beleef of the Resurrection of our bodies at the last day, and the eternal judgement that will follow thereupon, (which are two great Arricles of the Christian Faith, and fundamental Doctrines, Heb. 6.2.) does depend upon our beleef of the Resurrection of Christ. For if Christ the Son of Gods love, him in whom his soul delighteth more than in any man; should not have been raised by the glory of the Father, there would have been little reason for any other man to expect so great a favour. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and is become the first fruits of them that slept, 1 Cor. 15.20. as a pledge of their Resurrection also. In that any have a lively hope of being raised again to an inheritance uncor­ruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, they are thereunto begotten by the resurrection of Iesus Christ from the dead; so saith the Apostle 1 Pet. 1.3, 4 And again verse 21. In that God raised him up from the dead, and so gave him glory, it was that our Faith and hope might be in God, that he will do so to us likewise. For God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power, 1 Cor. 6.14. For if we beleeve that Iesus dyed, and rose again, even so them al­so which sleep in Iesus, will God bring with him. 1 Thes. 4.14. Be­cause I live, ye shall live also, saith he who is the Resurrection and the life. Iohn 14.19. and 11.25.

And that there shall be a righteous Judgement following the Re­surrection, and that Christ Jesus shall be the Judge, is such a thing of which the Father hath given assurance, or offered Faith unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead, Acts 17.31.

Sect. 8 5. The Word, Gospel, or Doctrine of Christ, and of his Apostles, is so the object of Faith, as that salvation is promised unto the right beleef thereof, Mark 16.15, 16. Go ye into all the World, and preach the Gospel to every Creature: he that beleeveth, and is baptized, shall be saved. 2 Thes. 2.13. Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and beleef of the truth. 2 Thes. 1.10. When he shall come to be glorified in his Saints, [Page 42] and to be admired in all them that beleeve, (because our testimony among you was beleeved) in that day.

The Doctrine of Christ and of his Apostles, may well be counted the object of Faith: inasmuch as to beleeve it, is all one as to beleeve that the Father hath set forth his Son to be a propitiation for sin, through Faith in his blood; and so it is to beleeve that Christ dyed for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures; because the Doctrine of the Gospel, is a testimony and declaration of these things, and he that beleeves the one, beleeves the other also. Gods giving his Son to dye, and Christs dying, and rising again, without a declaration of the mind and counsel of God thereabout, as viz. for what cause, up­on what account, and for what end he did so: as also upon what termes and conditions, men shall reap the fruit of his Death, Resur­rection and Intercession; I say the one without the other does not seem to be the adequate object of Faith, but both together are. For which cause the Doctrine of the Gospel in its Enunciations, Pre­cepts, and Threatnings, as well as in its Promises, is the object of Faith. And because the Doctrine of the Gospel, contains, declares, and amply sets forth all these things, together with those things which are to come, viz. the Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Judgement, in order to which the former, first take place, as being all of them matters about which Faith is busied, therefore is it, that the Doctrine of the Gospel, is frequently called the Faith, Gal. 1.23. and 3.2, 5, 23. Acts 6.7. Romans 1.5. 1 Tim. 4.1. Iude 3. And so now I have done with my first point touching Faith, viz. the object of it, or the beleeving of what, it is, that shall be imputed for righteousness.

CHAP. V. Shewing that that Faith which consists onely in assenting unto the truth of that report which the Gospel makes touching Christ his being the Son of God, and of his coming into the World to save Sinners by dying for them, will not availe to Iustification and Sal­vation, as a Gospel-Faith of the right kind will do.

Sect. 1 HAving briefly shewed from the holy Scriptures the beleef of what it is objectively that hath the promise of Salvation an­next to it, I shall now in the next place come to enquire what, and what manner of beleeving it is subjectively, that hath the same pro­mise: or whether every act of beleeving that is placed on a right object, hath this great priviledge of Justification entailed to it. And upon due enquiry, it will be found, that not any act or acts of Faith, one or more, be they never so many of them, that fall short of en­gaging the Soul in true Love and sincere obedience unto the Lord Jesus, will avail the man in whom they are, unto the saving of the soul.

If I mistake not, all the acts of a saving Faith may be reduced to, and comprehended under these three heads: The first I call an act of Credence, the second an act of Adherence; and the third an act of Confidence: in the exertion of which three acts of Faith, having Christ for their object, the whole soul, mind, will and affections, are engaged, which make up the beleeving with all the heart which the Gospel calls for, Acts 8.37. By that act which I call an act of Cre­dence, I mean the assent of the mind unto the truth of what the Gospel reports, especially touching Christ, (and Gods love to man­kind in him) as that he is the Son of God, and Saviour of the world, that he was sent of God the Father to shew unto men the way of salvation; and then to dye, rise again, and after his ascension, to make intercession to bring that salvation about, and that remission of sins, is to be had through his name.

By that act of Faith which I call an act of Adherence, I under­stand the souls fast cleaving unto the Lord Jesus in affection and sub­jection, as counting him more worthy of both, than any Creature or thing in all the world; as also taking hold of that grace and strength which is in Christ, for deliverance from the power of sin, and of bring­ing the soul back again to God in point of holiness.

And lastly, by an act of Confidence, I mean the Souls relyance, rest, or dependance upon Christ, or on the Father through Christ, for remission of sins, acceptation, and eternal salvation; the commit­ting of the Soul to his mercy; the throwing it upon his grace.

These three acts of Faith relate to each other by way of depen­dance; the second depending upon the first, as the acts of the Will do upon the Understanding; and the third upon both the former; and all acted upon the same object. Now that which I shall endeavour, is, to shew that the first and last of these acts, the assent of the mind unto the truth of things that are to be beleeved, and the confidence of the soul to meet with salvation from the Lord, may be found in such men in whom the middle act of a loving and loyal adherence to the Lord, is not found, and that the other two without this, will not avail to Justification and Salvation.

Sect. 2 First, that men may by way of assent unto the truth of that by wch Jesus hath been manifested to be the Christ of God, beleeve him to be so, or beleeve on him as such, and yet that beleeving of theirs not avail them to salvation, will appear first of all by Ioh. 12.42, 43. com­pared with other Scriptures. The words are these: Neverthelesse among the chief Rulers also, many beleeved on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confesse him, lest they should be put out of the Synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more then the praise of God. That these men did beleeve Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ of God, is most evident, in that upon conviction by his Miracles and Doctrine, which declared him so to be, they beleeved on him, and consequently must beleeve in the generall, his Doctrine to be true. And yet that whilst they did thus beleeve, they were in an unsafe condition as touching the salvation of their souls, will appear by two material circumstances in the words. The first is this, That for all their Faith they durst not confess him, lest they should be put out of the Synagogue: which unworthy deportment of theirs, put them under that threatning of Christ, Mark 8.38. Whosoever there­fore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed [Page 45] when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy Angels. And John saith, that every spirit that confesseth not that Iesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God, 1 John 4.3. And confessing with the mouth is as well required unto salvation, as beleeving with the heart, Rom. 10.10.

The second is this, that while they thus beleeved, they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God: which whosoever does, can­not beleeve savingly, according to Christs own words, Iohn 5.44. How can ye beleeve, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

Such beleevers likewise surely were they, Iohn 2.23, 24. Who when they saw the miracles which Christ did, they beleeved in his name: but Iesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men; he knew that for all their Faith of assent that he was indeed the Messias, of which they were convinced by his miracles, yet there was not in them the Faith of adherence, in a constant and an affectionate sticking to him, and therefore would not trust himself with them. Which is argument enough that their Faith was not saving, nor such as would denominate them faithful Disciples unto Jesus, whose property it is to forsake all rather than to forsake Ghrist, (Luke 14.33.) which had it been their case, Christ would not have been shie of betrusting himself with them.

It's probable that Simon Magus was a beleever of this kind, one whose Faith was right as touching the object of it, and as touching this first act of it also; for the Scripture saith, Then Simon himself be­leeveh also, Acts 8.13, And what did he beleeve? that's exprest in the former verse, where it's said, that when they beleeved Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the Name of Iesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women. Then Simon himself beleeved also; that is, as well as they or the same things which the others beleeved, viz. Philips doctrine concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus. And yet for all his perswasion of the truth of the doctrine of the Gospel preached by Philip, his heart was not purified by his Faith (as the hearts of all are by Faith of the right kind, Acts 15.9. for Peter told him: First, that his heart was not right in the sight of God, vers. 21. Secondly, that he was in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, vers 23. and consequently was in danger of perishing, as the Apostle intimated to him, saying, Thy money perish with thee, verse 20. There was in him the Faith of Cre­dence, but not of Adherence, the assent of the mind unto the truth [Page 46] of Philips Doctrine, but not the powerful consent of the will unto the superlative goodness of the way to the Kingdom, taught by him.

Sect. 3 That this Faith of which we now speak, which consists onely in the general assent of the understanding unto the truth of divine Re­velation, is not that Faith to which the great promises of the Gospel are made, I shall endeavour further to manifest, by adding two or three Reasons, to the Scripture-testimonies already alledged.

1. This assent; as it is but one single act of Faith, and therefore comprehends not the whole general nature of that grace, so it is but the act of one single faculty of the soul, the mind or understanding, and so is not that beleeving with all the heart which is the right chri­stian Faith (Acts 8.37.) which consists as well in the consent of the will touching the goodness of the thing beleeved, as the assent of the mind to the truth of its being. For as the object of the Christian Faith, (the Gospel) bears the relation, and carries as full a propor­tion of goodness, as of truth in it, so does the beleeving soul accor­dingly by the faculty of the mind assent to it as true, and by the facul­ty of the will accept of it as a soveraign good. And under this two-fold consideration, is the Gospel propounded as the object of Faith. 1 Tim. 1, 15. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Iesus came into the world to save sinners. It's a saying faithful in respect of its truth, and worthy of all acceptation in respect of its goodness.

Sect. 4 2. The Devils themselves have such a faith, as by which they as­sent to this truth, that Christ is the Son of God: and it is the first-born of improbabilities, that ever the Devils should have that faith abiding in them, by which men shall be saved. That the Devils do not only beleeve that there is one God, and tremble, according to Iames 2.19. but that they also beleeve Christ to be the Son of God, the Christ of God, is evident Luke 4 41. And Devils also came out of many, crying out and saying, thou art Christ the Son of God, If any shall here object and say, that we have but the Devills own word for it, who was a lyar from the beginning: The answer is; that we have more than their word for it, we have this Evangelists word for it, as appears by the latter part of the fore-cited verse, where he sayes that they, viz. the Devils knew that he was Christ. If any should think that possibly the Devils may have the same faith that would justifie men if it were in them, though it will do them no good, as not being in the like capacity of grace as men are, yet that passage in Iames 2. [Page 47] 19. will oppose such a thought. For wherefore does the Apostle mention the faith of Devils there? but to disparage the unprofitable and dead faith of some Christians, and to give them to know that if their faith rested only in the beleef of things, and did not carry out the soul in love both to God and men, it was even no better a faith than is in the devils, and consequently would save them no more than it would save the devils.

Sect. 5 3. The Faith of Assent, as it is the act of the understanding, is fre­quently forced, the mind compelled to beleeve the truth of divine things, by the strength of conviction, which sometimes is so great, that it is not in the power of men to dis-beleeve them; which I con­cieve is the plain case touching that faith which the Devils have, and the faith which some wicked men under despair, have of the judge­ment to come, who would be glad if they knew how to believe other­wise than what they do believe; they would be glad if they knew how to believe that there is no God, no Heaven, no Hell, and it is their torment to believe there is: the Devils believe and tremble, and so do some men. And it is very like that those believers of which we heard before, Iohn 2.23. and 12.42. had that Faith which they had concerning Christ, forced upon them by the hand of those miracles of Christ, in conjunction with his holy life and doctrine, which were too hard for their consciences, and evinced with power, him that wrought them, to be the Son of God. And it may be they might have a desire to have stifled that light, and to have overcome that conviction which they had, as that which did oppose that carnal in­terest of praise which they had with men, which it seems they loved more than Christ, and therefore would not let it go for his sake. And is not this the case of such who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Rom. 1.18.) when the light of divine truth breaks into the mind, and cannot be kept out, but convinces the conscience that things have been so and so done by the Father, and by his Son Jesus Christ in favour to man-kind, and that therefore men ought to love the Lord, and in love to obey him, and that it is the way to be happy so to do, and yer for all that, this truth, which hath thus far compel'd the conscience to assent to it, is detained and held as prisoner in the mind by the power of lust, so that it does not walk abroad in the life of such a man; the thorns spring up with the seed and over-top it, the seed springs up in the mind by its power of conviction, shewing what should and ought to be, but the thorns of lust spring up in the affection, and determine what shall be, and what shall not be in [Page 48] such a mans life. Such a man indeed hath received the truth, as he assents to it to be truth, but hath not received the love of the truth by consenting to, and affectionately imbracing what it en­joynes.

And shall we think that God will reward with the great and un­speakable blessing of Justification and Salvation, such an act of the Creature as is not voluntary, but forced from him whether he will or no? surely he will not. 2 Thes. 2.10. Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, &c. No other receiving of the truth then, will be rewarded with Salvation, but the receiving it in love, and what's more voluntary than love? If a man had all faith, never so strong a perswasion touching the vertue and power of Christ, So that he could remove mountains, and have not love, it would profit him nothing. 1 Cor. 13.2. If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted, &c. 2 Cor. 8.12. that's surely a necessary ingredient to render any act of the creature acceptable to God, and consequently rewardable by him, 1 Cor. 9.17. For if I do this thing willingly I have a reward. Take heed then of venturing your pre­cious souls upon this Faith, that lies but in a naked and bare assent to the general truth of the Gospel.

CHAP. VI. Further discovering that neither the act of Relyance or Dependence upon God or Christ for Salvation, with­out the concurrence of a loving and loyal adhesion to him, will avail to Salvation.

Sect. 1 HAving already shewed, that Faith by the first of those three acts mentioned in the former Chapter, will not justifie without the addition and concurrence of more; I shall now likewise shew you that neither will this act of trust, confidence, dependance or relyance upon the Lord for Salvation, though added unto the former of assen­ting to the truth of that report which the Gospel makes of Christs being the Son of God, his dying for sinners, &c. prove effectual to justifie & save, unless it be found in conjunction with an obediential, [Page 49] cleaving to Christ, to be delivered by him from the power and domi­nion of sin, as well as the guilt and condemnation of it.

That there may be found in men a presumptious leaning upon the mercies of the Lord, and his promises, and acts of grace, and an ex­pectation of being thereupon secured by God from destruction, while in the mean time they cut off their claim and title to those pro­mises and acts of grace, by loving of and cleaving to their inward lusts, or outward enormities, instead of cleaving to those precepts and promises touching holiness, which would carry them out of those sins, is a thing very visible in the Scriptures, as well as obvious to ex­perience.

It was so with men under the Old Testament; Mica. 3.11. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the Priests thereof teach for hire, and the Prophets thereof divine for money, yet will they lean upon the Lord and say, is not the Lord among us? none evill can come unto us. The Lord had indeed made many gracious promises to that people of his being their God, of his dwelling and walking among them, of saving them from those evils which he would bring upon their enemies; but all upon condition that they would be to him a people, in love, loyalty, and obedience, as he to them a God, in protection and blessing. (Levit. 26. Deut. 28.) but these men, Judges, Priests, Prophets, Sinners of sundry sorts, eye the promises, over-looking the condition upon which they were made, and would needs lean upon these, as if God were obliged to them by these, to se­cure them from those evils which the faithful Prophets of the Lord threatned them with, for transgressing the Covenant of the Lord, and living in disobedience thereto. Just as foolish men now do, who because they find by the Scriptures, that Christ dyed for sinners, and hath commanded that remission of sins and salvation be preached in his name to every creature, and hath given many precious encou­ragements for sinners of all sorts to look unto him from all the ends of the earth and be saved, but with this Item, that they repent and be baptized every one of them in the name of the Lord Iesus for the remission of sins, that they be born again of water, and of the Spi­rit; that they deny themselves, take up their Cross, and follow him, and forsake all that they have for his sake (if they cannot faithfully obey him upon cheaper termes) without which they can­not be his Disciples, and that they diligently hearken to, and care­fully observe whatever Jesus that great Prophet hath spoken and commanded, upon pain of being cut off from the number of the [Page 50] Lords redeemed ones; they little minding or regarding the termes and conditions of the grace offered, or thinking a few outward per­formances (as the Jews aforesaid did of Circumcision, Sacrifices, and the like) will serve for all, when indeed the main of the matter (the renewing them to God in the disposition and frame of their hearts, and a faithful labouring to please the Lord in all all things, and stri­ving against all contrary motions and temptations) is wholly want­ing; yet as if all the grace in the Gospel were theirs, and designed for all those that will lay hold of it right or wrong, they confident­ly perswade themselves, or endeavour so to do, that they are built upon a sure foundation, that Christ, remission of sins, and salvation, are all theirs, and that they do them a great deal of wrong that offer but a word to shake this confidence of theirs.

Again, see the like in another passage, Isai. 48.1, 2. Hear ye this, O house of Iacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Iudah; which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousnesse. For they call themselves of the holy City, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel, the Lord of hosts is his name. This people you see mention the name of the Lord, as being called by it, look upon themselves as his people, call themselves of the holy City, and thereupon stay themselves upon the God of Israel, depend upon him for all good, as their God, and upon his promises, as if made to them; and thus they did, but not in truth nor in righteousness; for this profession and this confidence of theirs, was accompanied with unfaithfulness in the main, and therefore their dependance upon God was irregular and deceitful, God having no where engaged to stand under such a trust, but the contrary, Iob 8.13, 14, 15.

Sect. 2 And as it was thus with those under the Old, so is it likewise after the same manner with too many now under the New Testament, who because they have some knowledg and beleef of Gods gracious in­tention to save sinners by the death of his Son, and the general promi­ses of the Gospel, especially if together herewith they have but a form of godliness, and something of devotion towards the ordinances of God, they perswade themselves that they are the believers to whom the promises of remission of sin, and salvation of the soul are made, though in the mean time they are under the power of some known sin or other, either covetousness, or cruelty, and hard hearted­nes, or pride, or uncleannes, or intemperance in word or deed, or some [Page 51] other sin, and are unrenewed in will and affections, or if there be a­ny change, it is not so much as will turn the scale, and give them in of the victory against the flesh, on the Spirits side; but though there be so much light as that they can talk of good things, and so much conviction as in the general to approve of them, yet the interest of the flesh clearly carries it, when things come to be done, and when temptation is upon them.

And the main reason, I conceive, why persons upon their generall belief of the Gospel, have this confidence of Salvation, though o­therwise they are as yet but in the flesh, and so cannot please God, (Rom. 8.8.) is this, because they are partial in the Scriptures, and do not give one Scripture as well as another room in their judge­ments and affections: their minds run upon such Scriptures as de­clare Christ Iesus to have come into the world to save sinners; that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever beleeveth in him, should not perish, but have ever­lasting life, that he that confesseth with his mouth the Lord Iesus, and beleeveth in his heart that God raised him from the dead, shall be saved, and the like; and so far they do very well. But then there are other Scriptures that declare that except men repent they shall perish; that except they be born again, they cannot see the king­dom of God: that without holiness no man shall see the Lord; that the Lord will come in flaming Fire, rendring vengeance to those that obey not the Gospel: that those that live after the flesh shall dye; that if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him: that tribulation and wrath shall be upon every soul that doth evill, with many the like; which they slightly pass over, and are not thorowly possest with an apprehension, that those other Scriptures that entaile the promise of life to be beleeving, are so to be understood, as that these others must stand with them, or to be under­stood of such a kind of believing, as hath the substance of these other Scriptures working in the bowels of it, which they must believe, that will not deceive themselves in their Faith: and is there not the same reason to believe the one as well as the other? doth not the water of both sorts of Scripture proceed out of the same hole, from the same fountain? But now the carnal beleevers of whom I speak, fan­sying to themselves that the promise of Salvation is made to believing indefinitely, not considering that it is tyed up to that special kind of believing which works by love, as other Scriptures interpret; and they knowing in themselves that they do believe in one sence, (for [Page 52] so indeed they do, with that general Faith of assent) thence they con­clude confidently, that they are heirs of promise, and heirs of salva­tion as well as any, and do as verily think they are going to Heaven, whereas indeed they are in the way to hell, as ever the Syrians thought they were going to Dothan, while they were blindly led to Samariah, 2 King. 6.19.

Sect. 3 The men of this formal and dead Faith of which I speak, that hav confidence of Salvation, because they believe, though they do not indeed believe with that belief unto which Salvation is promised, do directly tread in the steps of some in the Apostles dayes, who would needs be confident of salvation, though all the Faith they had, was not of that power as to produce a holy life: and the Apostles know­ing the danger of such a confidence, laboured exceedingly to take them off it, and to build them upon a better bottom.

This is the business in which the Apostle Iames labours so mighti­ly in his Epistle. And we may easily perceive what Disease was a­mong the Christians, by the remedies which this servant of the Lord applyed for their cure, viz. an inordinate love of the world, which manifested it self in an adulterous and too near a complyance there­with, Chap. 4. beginning. And thereupon they despised the poor Saints, and preferred men less worthy if they were rich, chap. 2. Their want of the true christian humility and love, brake out into bitter envying and strife, and an undue judging and censuring one of ano­ther, chap. 3. throughout. And yet for all these unchristian, and un­saint-like deportments, they were ready to glory as if they were the knowing men, and men of the right Religion wherein salvation was to be had, and that it did belong to them. In opposition to which vain-confidence, and confident boasting, he expresseth himself thus: chap. 3.14, 15. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth: this wisdom de­scendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, develish. For them to glory of their Religion, and of their wisdom and knowledg. and yet to be men of such an unchristian carriage, they did but lye against the truth which they pretended to have on their side, but indeed was point blank against them. But if any man would approve himself a wise man indeed, endued with the christian knowledge of the right kind, the Apostle tells them, it must be, by shewing out of a good conversation, his works with meekness of wisdom, v. 13.

Again chap. 1.26. he had likewise encountred that vain-confi­dence that was built upon a form of Knowledge, Faith, and Pro­fession, [Page 53] without the life and power of it, saying; If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this mans religion is vain. Men that should give way to the flesh, though but in one thing, as for instance, a licensious liberty to the tongue, not endeavouring by watchfulness, heed, and circumspection, to conform to the doctrine of the Lord, which for­bids, not only lying, reviling, back-biting, slaundering, corrupt and unclean communication, but also foolish talking and jesting, yea every idle word; how religious soever they might otherwise seem to themselves upon account of their formal knowledg and Faith, of external devotion to the Ordinances, yet the Apostle testifieth as from the Lord that such do but deceive their own hearts, befool them­selves with a vain confidence of being religious men, and of being accepted with God as such, and that such mens Religion is vain, that is as to the end for which the true Religion serves. Not as if all their Religion were made up of vain notions, but though they had never so sound a knowledg and right belief of many excellent Gospel-truths, and though they added thereto the doing of many things, yea how seemingly religious soever they were, upon what account so­ever, yet the want but of this one thing, a care to bridle the tongue, would render all a mans Religion, and all his confidence of salvation built thereupon, but vain & unprofitable touching the end of Religi­on, the end of Faith which is the salvation of the soul, as if he had never had any Religion, nor seeming shew of it at all.

Yet once more Iames 2.14. to the same purpose thus: What doth it profit my brethren, though a man say he hath Faith, and have not Works? can Faith save him? that is, can such a Faith save him? a form of speech emphatically denying the thing interogated, like unto that afterwards chap. 3.11, 12. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the figg-tree, my brethren, bear Olive berries? either a Vine Figgs? Why no it cannot; no more can that Faith save, that hath not Works. Though a man may say and say truly, though a man be able to say he hath Faith, yet if he have not Works, can his Faith save him? do you think it can? He is not blaming their Faith, as if not placed up­on a right object, or as if there were not a real closing with that ob­ject in point of assent: in the beginning of this Chapter he clearly supposeth them to have the Faith of our Lord Iesus Christ, only there cautions them not to yoke or couple their Faith with an unchristian carriage, assuring them by the tenour of his discourse through­out [Page 54] this Chapter, especially from the fourteenth verse to the end, that a Faith so yoked, and wanting its true yoke-fellow and companion, the Gospel conversation, which he calls by the name of Works, will not profit him that hath it. Which unprofitableness of that Faith which hath not Works, he further illustrates by way of comparison, verse 15, 16. If a Brother or Sister be naked or desti­tute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled: notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body: what doth it profit? Nothing at all; that is to the filling or warming of the necessitous person. Even so saith he ver. 17. Faith if it hath nor works, is dead, being alone. Though a man should give God, Christ never such good words, though he shall be able to speak at never so high a rate of the grace of God, of the love of Christ, of the power of his death, of the effica­cy of his blood, and prevalency of his intercession, and shall have some kind of belief of what he sayes; yet if it do not sincerely engage the soul to serve the interest of the glory of God, in a vertuous life, answerable to such a profession & Faith, it will no more profit to the justification of the Soul in the sight of God, than a parcel of good words would feed and cloath, fill and warm the needy Brother, and indigent Sister, when a contribution of a real relief is wanting. Though I could speak with the tongue of men and Angels, and had all Faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not Love, it would profit me nothing, 1 Cor. 13.1, 2. And whereas he saith that Faith is dead being alone, he plainly supposeth that Faith may be alone without the company of Works; a Faith that is truly so in its kind; a Faith that is acted on a right object. But where ever it is alone, there it is dead, that is, it is unprofitable as to the end for which Faith is appointed, viz. to justifie, or (as he had said vers. 14.) to save. For that clearly is the sence of Faiths being dead, in this place, and not its barrenness of good Works. Though that's true likewise, that Faiths being dead in another sence, i. e. void of spiritual vigour, force, and power, is the cause why it is a­lone, and not accompanied with the goodness of conversation, yet here in this place, the deadness of Faith is the effect of its being alone, and not the cause of it; the deadness of Faith proceeds from the ab­sence of Works as here spoken of, and not the absence of Works from the deadness of Faith: Faith is dead being alone (saith he) that is, because it is alone; for so it is plain, that its being alone carries the force of a reason why it is dead. And therefore Faiths being [Page 55] dead, here, notes it utter inability to justifie or save, which answers the scope of the Apostle, which is, to convince the carnal professor that his Faith without Works would not save him, as is manifest by the fourteenth Verse, upon which the following Discourse to the end of the Chapter depends. He sayes after Verse 26. That as the body without the spirit is dead, so Faith without Works, is dead also. In which comparison or similitude, as the body answers Faith, so the Spirit answers Works; and as the absence of the spirit from the body is the cause why the body is dead, and does not the ser­vice unto which a living man is appointed, so the absence of Works from Faith, is the cause why Faith is dead, and does not him in whom it is, the service unto which the true Faith is appointed, to wit, to justifie or save him that hath it.

Sect. 4 And here by the way, we have clearly set before us, the true sence in which Works are necessary to justification as well as Faith, and that is, as they do qualifie Faith for that Work or Office of justify­ing, unto which God of his meer Grace hath designed it. For so is the will of God, that though he will so magnifie his grace in the sal­vation of men, as to justifie and save them by Christ upon, or upon condition of their believing in him, yet hath he therein made such provision to magnifie his holiness, and his love of it in his Creature, as that he will not confer the grace of Justification upon any other Faith, or entitle any other believing unto that attonement which Christ hath made by his blood, than such as hath its fruit unto Holi­ness, the end of which will be everlasting life. In which sence I conceive it is, that Faith is said to be made perfect by Works, James 2.22. that is (as I understand) put into a compleat capacity of attaining its end, which is to justifie: as a house is then said to be perfected, when nothing is wanting in it, as to the end and service for which it is built, 2 Chron. 8.16. So is Faith, when nothing is wanting to it to answer the end whereto it is to serve. But now as long as Faith is alone, or by it self, without Works, it is dead, (as we heard before) and so in no capacity to justifie, or reach its end. Nor does it come under the saving influence of the Promise, till it Work by Love, that being the only kind of Faith that hath the pro­mise to avail, (Gal. 5.6.) and therefore Works added to Faith as children are added to their Mother, being the same thing that makes the difference between that Faith that will justifie, and that which will not, and which brings that kind of believing under the promise, without which all other believing is excluded; hence it is I conceive, [Page 56] that Works may well and truly be said to perfect Faith, as putting it into a right capacity of reaching its end. But thus much on the by in this place.

Sect. 5 As Iames, so Iohn opposeth the vain confidence that is built upon the dead Faith, 1 Iohn 1.6. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. This doubtless he wrote in opposition to some professors of the Christian Faith, who though they walked in darkness, led lives disa­greeing to the light of Christs Doctrine, yet said, profest, and were confident, that they had fellowship, partnership with God, and with his Son Jesus Christ in his Love, Saving-mercy, and promises of Grace, as if, as these were Gods to give, so they were all theirs to enjoy. But as he would take them off their vain confidence in this, so he directs them how to be better built, in the next Vers. 7. saying, But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Iesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin. Meaning, I suppose that if that perswasion which they had of fellowship with God, interest in his Grace, Love, and Mercy, and share in Christs blood, were but accom­panied with an upright endeavour of purifying themselves as he is pure, and of being holy in all manner of conversation, as he that had called them is holy, (which I think is the same thing as to walk in the light, as he is in the light) then they might be confident indeed, that they had fellowship with God in his Grace and Love, and share in Christs blood to cleanse them from all sin. But otherwise and with­out this, what ever their opinion, pretence, or confidence was of their good condition, they did but lie, and falsifie the truth.

Of which delusion and dangerous deceit he admonisheth the Chri­stians, Chap. 3.7, 8. saying, Little children let no man deceive you, he that doth righteousness is righteous as he is righteous, he that committeth sin is of the Devil. By which saying he suggests that there were some amongst them of another opinion and perswa­sion, and that they were in danger of being deceived by them, to think that though they did indulge themselves in some sin, yet they might be counted and dealt withall as righteous persons, as being in Christ, and knowing of him as they supposed. In opposition to which vain conceit, and lying imagination, he had said in the verse before, Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not, Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

The like admonition ministred by Paul to the Ephesians implyeth like danger from men of the same profession, Eph. 5.6. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.. Implying that there were some among them that were otherwise perswaded, than that those unholy wayes from which he had newly before de­horted them, would expose them to the wrath of God, who trusted in Christ for salvation. For of such he prophecied, whilst he was yet with them, Acts 20.30. That of their own selves should men a­rise, speaking perverse things; wrested or swerving things, to draw away Disciples after them. Men professing the same Faith, and ex­pecting salvation by the same Christ, should make such swerving in­ferences from the Doctrine of Grace that offers Salvation upon be­lieving in Jesus, as tended to loosness of life, and that they would la­bour to propagate their distorted notions, and to make a party of the same mind with them. Against whose dangerous insinuations he faithfully now again in his Epistle warns them to take heed of be­ing deceived with such mens vain words, and impure pretensions, as if any Faith they had in the grace of God, or merit of Christs blood, could secure them from the wrath of God, whilst they lived in un­cleanness and covetousness, and indulged themselves in a way of foo­lish talking and jesting, for of such sins he had spoken before.

Sect. 6 Of this very sort of Men surely it is, of whom Paul speaks, 2 Tim. 3. concerning whom he informs us of these three things amongst others.

First, that they had a form of Godliness, Vers. 5. and therefore were professors of the Christian Faith and Worship, the Doctrine of Grace, and Ordinances of the Gospel, Baptism, Supper of the Lord, &c.

Secondly, that in themselves they were men of an un-Gospel like temper and behaviour, Lovers of their own selves, covetous, boa­sters, proud, blasphemous, disobedient to Parents, unthankfull, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traytors, hea­dy, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, ver. 2, 3, 4. Some of these bearing sway in some of them, and some in others. And that they were industrious to encrease their party, and to draw Disciples after them appears, in that they crept into houses, and led captive silly Women that were laden with sins, and led away with divers lusts; who doubtless were glad of any notion about [Page 58] free Grace that would put them under hope of Salvation, though under the power of divers Lusts, which probably those men did in­struct them in.

And Thirdly, that from which this ill life under a form and shew of Godliness did proceed, was their great mistake about the doctrine of Faith, either as touching the nature of the Grace, or the termes upon which Salvation was promised to it, for he sayes, that they were reprobate concerning the Faith; or as the margent reads it, Of no judgement concerning the Faith, verse 8. they made no right judgement of the Gospels promising salvation upon believing, but as Peter expresseth it, Stumbled at the Word, and wrested it to their own destruction, 1 Pet. 2.8. 2 Pet. 3.16. thought the pro­mise of a larger extent than it was; were not aware it was such a kind of believing only, as gave a man victory over such Lusts and pleasures as in which they lived, unto which the promise of life was made.

These things may well make the most of men called Christians to look about them, who by their lives proclaim themselves to be believers but of the same rank with those marked out by the Apostles of our Lord as men whose Religion is vain, whose Faith is dead, whose con­fidence of salvation is built upon mistakes of the Doctrine of Grace, whilst destitute of the life and power of Godliness (which subdues the heart and life to God) to answer that form of profession which they make of the Christian Faith. But because it is a matter of such mo­ment, and so little laid to heart by those whom it so much concerns, therefore do I dwell upon it the more, if peradventure any may be awakened by it. And therefore, having heard something of that which the Apostles of our Lord have said to this important point, for a close of this matter, let us also a little weigh a passage or two spo­ken by the Lord himself relating to this business.

Sect. 7 Our Lord Jesus resembles the several sorts and tempers of Men that hear the Gospel, unto four several sorts of ground upon which the sower casts his Seed, Luke 8. And begins with the lowest and worst sort, and from them proceeds gradually to the best of all. The first sort resembled by the seed that fell by the ways side, are such as neither understand nor believe the Gospel, Luke 8.12. Mat. 13.19. The second sort go beyond these, for they do believe the Word, but it is but for a time; for in time of persecution for the Words sake they fall away, having no root, vers. 13. Now the third sort, as they are placed in the middle between such as do receive the word, [Page 59] and believe and rejoyce in it only for a season, and such who with an honest heart having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience, so they do accordingly go beyond the tempora­ry believer, and yet fall short of the honest-hearted doer of the Word, resembled by the good ground. And that wherein they do exceed the stony-ground hearers that believe only for a time, is this, that they persevere in their believing, such as it is, unto the end of their lives. And that wherein they fall short of the good-ground hearers, is this, that they do not with honesty or integrity of heart keep or do the Word, and patiently bring forth the fruit of it, as do the good-ground hearers. For they when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and so bring no Fruit to perfection, verse 14. It's said verse 7. that the seed falling among thorns, the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it: by which it's evident, that the seed of the Word, doth in a sence grow up in these Men, they may grow to have a great deal of know­ledg of the Word, and some Faith in it, and they may bring forth some fruit too, do many things as Herod and others did; but the only fault is, that they do not bring forth fruit to perfection, they do not carry it quite through: if they have a blade of profession, yet they have not the ear of practice, or if something of that, yet they have not the full Corn in the ear, a sincere respect unto all the Lords com­mands. But the thorns of some Lust or other grow up with the Word, and choke it, and over-top it, have more interest in the heart than the Word hath, draw the affections of the Soul more to them than the Word doth, as the thorns many times draws the nourishing moisture of the ground, more to them then the Corn doth that springs up with them, and so prevents the perfect growth of the Corn. The Word does grow in such men to a certain degree; the Word as it brings glad-tidings of salvation to sinners by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, hath some rooting in the heart, and is received with joy; and as it promiseth salvation upon believing, as they understand believing, so it is a welcome Word, which they will by no means let go; and as it enjoyns easier and cheaper duties, so far it hath the heart to; and thus far the Word may grow up and the Thorns, Lusts and sinful Affections may grow up too, and dwell together in the same man. But then there are other words of the same Lord, and of the same Gospel of Salvation, which put men upon denying themselves to please the Lord, and crossing their own sinful inclinations and wills, that they may fulfill the will of the [Page 60] Lord; there are words that enjoyn us to crucifie the Old-man with the affections and lusts, to mortifie our members which are upon the earth, to cut off the right hand, and pluck out the right eye, to put our selves to the utmost extremity of suffering and distasting the flesh, rather than to harbour any guest in the soul to distast our dear Lord. But now here the word is encountred by sinful affections, the love of mens own selves, their ease, their pleasure, their reputations with men, and for the maintenance and support of these, the love and desire of riches takes place with them, and their desire and love to these puts them upon many unlovely strains to compass them: in a word they love to please and to be pleased of men, and to have all things go on smoothly with them; and here the word of Christ and their wills fall cross; his honour to be by them upheld in a close fol­lowing of him, and the upholding of their own honour among men, clash; Christs spiritual interest, and their carnal interest, will not consist, but one must give way; if they will please the Lord, they must many times displease themselves and others too, and to enjoy his love and keep a good conscience, must be content to be without much, and sometimes to loose all those worldly accomodations which the flesh priseth very much. And however the other part of the Word and lust might grow up together, yet this part of the Word and lust cannot remain in any power and operation in the same sub­ject but will be fighting; and if the affections as a third party side with lusts against the Word, or if more corditially adhere to them than to the Word, the Word is presently choked and over-born by the power of the flesh, as the Corn by Thorns, and brings no fruit to perfection.

These are the Men, and this their character, who are the hearers and professors of the Word of the Gospel resembled by the thorny ground, which as I intimated before, go a step further than those that do believe for a time only, and consequently must not only be such as do in a sence believe as the others did, but also such as hold out and persevere in their Faith unto the end. Neither probably is that the reason why their Faith holds out rather than the others, as if it were a Faith of a better kind or constitution, or stronger than theirs, but rather because it is not put to that stress and tryal which the others Faith could not endure, it's very like that if the Faith of the thorny-ground hearer should be put to it by persecution, as the Faith of the stony-ground hearer is said to be, his Faith might give in and fail as well as the others. For the reason why the [Page 61] stony-ground hearers Faith fail'd him, is because it is not rooted and grounded in love; he loves his Honour, his Estate, his Relations, or at least his Life more than Christ, (which whosoever does, cannot be his Disciple, or be deemed worthy of him, whatever his Knowledge or Faith otherwise may be) and therefore when by the tryal of per­secution, he is put to his choice, to renounce his Faith, or his Life, or other Enjoyments, he adheres to that which he loves most, to wit, his outward enjoyments, and declines the Lord, in his Word, Worship, and Wayes, which he loves less. Though it does not al­wayes follow that those who upon a carnal account will not publick­ly own the Lord, when the confessing of him and his truth proves so costly to them, do at the same time let go that inward perswasion which they had of him and his truth before the tryal came; the Ru­lers at the same time while they durst not confess Christ openly, yet then inwardly believed on him, John 12.42. A practice set on foot by some in the Apostles times, and as it seems, avouched as lawful by some, outwardly to deny Christ in time of persecution, if they did in the mean time inwardly believe in him, which surely is one of those damnable heresies Peter speaks of, privily brought into the Church by false Teachers, 2 Pet. 2.1. There shall be false Teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift de­struction. If they had taught Men not to believe at all on Christ, it would not have been called heresie, but either infidelity, or aposta­cy; nor could they lightly have privily brought such a Doctrine in­to the Church, but would easily have been discerned by all Christians to be Enemies to Christ; besides, those that followed their pernici­ous tenents and wayes, did occasion the way of truth to be evil spo­ken of, verse 2. Which would not have been, if they had been pro­fest Enemies to it; the pernicious ways of a Man, after he is turned Jew or Turk, though once a Christian, does not cause the Christian Religion to be Evil spoken of. But however, whether Men fal away totally, both from the inward perswasion, and outward profession of the Faith they had once imbraced, or only in part from the pub­lick profession of it, so far as to secure themselves from persecution, it proceeds from the same cause, and that is the want of that ingredi­ent in their Faith which is the peculiar property of the Faith of Gods Elect, to wit, an affectionate cleaving to Christ as more desirable than life.

There's the same reason as to the internal cause, why the Faith of the thorny ground-hearer falls short of Salvation, and that is the want of that mixture of Love I speak of. For though they may be­lieve Christ to be the Saviour, and expect Salvation by him, and for that cause bear some good affection to him, yet their Love working stronger to Riches, Honours, and Pleasures, & for their sakes, to ways and things by which these may be enjoyed, thence it comes to pass, that the Lusts of these things carry it against Christ and his Word, who draw another way. Now because this sort of men may hold that dead Faith which they have, and the profession of it too, and yet retain their Worldly Lusts also, yea and make an outward and fleshly advantage of such a Faith and profession many times; thence it comes to pass, that they do not fall away as the other, but persevere herein unto the end: the difference of the ones falling, and the others standing, does not lye in the difference of their Faith, but in the diffe­rent nature of their temptations; the one is necessitated to part with his Faith or Lusts, the other is not.

This latter sort of ground therefore clearly resembles the state and condition of sensual and carnal Christians, who live in such times and places as we now do, in which Men may believe in Jesus Christ, and publickly own their Faith, especially if it put them upon no extraordi­nary strains of self-denyal, without running any hazzard of persecuti­on, but shall rather expose themselves to suffering in case they should not own the Faith, which is the Religion of the Country. And in such places, Faith such as it is, is as common as silver was in the dayes of So­lomon. All men in a manner do believe that Christ dyed for sinners, and that Salvation is to be had by believing in his Name, & that their be­lieving wil justifie them, & without Works too, as they have been ge­nerally taught, which is their snare. Hereupon they live, they dye in hope of salvation, upon this very account that they do believe, though there is too much cause to fear, that the conversations and tempers I would I could not say of far the greatest part, even of these, do give too loud a testimony that their Faith is but the dead Faith, they being not renewed to God, and born again by it, and consequently that their confidence of Salvation by Christ, is but a vain confidence, and such as will deceive them. I profess it is a very sad thing so to say, and that which occasions many a sorrowful thought to my Soul: and my love to Men, and my desire after their Salvation exceedingly inclines me to hope better things concerning these men of whom I speak, if I had but any Scriptural ground to relieve such a hope. But I [Page 63] am either quite mistaken in the nature of holiness, and of the New Creature, or else such Scriptures as do positively affirm, that with­out holiness no man shall see the Lord, and that except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God, that neither Circum­cision nor uncircumcision avail, but a New Creature, with many the like, I fear do fast barr the door of life against the confidence of a vast multitude of professors of belief in Jesus, unless the generality of those I know not, be better than very many of those I know.

Sect. 8 Not to multiply more Scriptures to demonstrate that mens belief in Christ, and relyance upon him for Salvation, will not avail them, unless it draw the Soul in love and reverence to him, carefully to obey him, and to avoid such things as he hates; for a close, seriously lay to heart those piercing words of Christ, which are worthy our utmost consideration hereabout, Mat. 7.21, 22, 23. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name? and in thy Name cast out Devils? and in thy Name done many wonder­ful Works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: de­part from me ye that work iniquity. By Luke thus, chap. 13.23, 24, 25, 26, 27. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be sa­ved? And he said unto them, strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence you are: then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in thy pre­sence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I knew you not whence you are, depart from me all ye workers of Ini­quity.

That which I first observe from these wakening words of our Lord, as to this present occasion, is, that the persons of whom Christ here speaks, had Faith; which appears by this, in that (as they them­selves will plead) they cast out Devils in the Name of Christ, and in his Name did many other wonderous Works, which according to Christs words, were signes which he promised should follow those that should believe, Mark 16.17. Though all that did believe did not do such wonders, yet none but such as did believe, did. Neither is it any wise likely, but that they whose Faith was so strong as in the Name of Christ to do such wonders, had a particular knowledge [Page 64] and belief that Christ was the Son of God, and Saviour of the World. Neither was this Faith of theirs wholly destitute of Works you see, they made such a profession of Christ as that they instructed others in his Religion, they Prophecied in his Name, and did Works which caused Men to wonder, they heard Christ preach, and had so much fa­miliarity with him as to eat and drink in his presence; greater mat­ters than I fear thousands of thousands will have to plead for them­selves, who now bear the Name of Christians, and profess belief in Christ, and hope of salvation by him.

Secondly, that which I further note hence is this, that these men of whom Christ speaks, because of this Faith they had, and those Works which proceeded from it, take unto themselves a kind of con­fidence that they shall be admitted by Christ into his Kingdom. For though they are brought in by Christ here as pleading for admit­tance at the last day, and not taking Christs first denial; but following him with earnest, vehement solicitations, backed with arguments and pleas from what they had received from him, and done for him, as if they wondered that Christ should refuse them, yet it is not to be thought, but that in their life, and at their death, they were possessed with hopes of being owned by Christ at the Last day, upon these very grounds upon which they are brought in as building their plea. For surely they do not meet with any new confidence or grounds of hope in the Grave, or state of Death! Me thinks these words of Christ give a kind of cast, as if many Men shall dye with so strong a confidence of being owned and received by Christ at the Resurrecti­on and Judgement day, as that they shall exceedingly wonder, and stand amazed to find themselves so strangely deceived and disappoin­ted as they will be, when they shall be turned off by Christ with I tel you I know you not, I profess I never knew you. As if Christ could hardly possess them with such a thought that he should not acknow­ledg and own them, and therefore he is fain, not only once plainly to tell them I know you not, but again with more earnestness to af­firm the same thing, and to say, I tell you I know you not whence you are; as if he should say, will you not believe me? I tell you a­gain I know you not whence you are. Yea as Matthew hath it, he will then professe unto them that he never knew them; which stil ar­gues how hard a matter it will be to beat them out of their confi­dence of being owned by him, that he wil be fain not only to tel them again and again I know you not, but at last to profess to them, that he never knew them, no not then in your life time, (as if he should [Page 65] say) when you thought your selves cock-sure of my approbation, I then knew you not to be any true Friends of mine, but you loved your selves, and Relations, and loved the world more than me, you loved your own wills more than mine, and your own honour more than mine; and entertained motions from the flesh, and from the Devil sooner than from me, and therefore now without any more ado depart from me all ye workers of iniquity; a sad parting! Who shall not say with David whilst he is under the contemplation here­of, My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judge­ments, Psalm 119.120.

That which I further note in the third and last place, from this Do­ctrine of Christ (which (with the rest) astonished those that heard him preach it, Mat. 7.28.) is this, that the true reason why these mens confidence, and all that upon which it is built, and all their plea­dings, beggings, and mournful supplications added thereto, will all fail them, and fall to the ground, is in short this; they were work­ers of iniquity; as men work at their Trades to bring them in what they lack and love, so these men work iniquity, that is, commit sin, do and speak things contrary to the Laws and instructions of Christ, to bring them in that present carnal content which they love and prefer before that future happiness, upon those self-denying termes, without which it is not to be had. That Faith which they had, was not of that kind which purifies the heart, and renews the Soul to God, but for all it the flesh still retained the commanding interest in the Soul; and therefore as they had in their life time sowed to the flesh, so of the flesh they must now reap corruption. They were told that if they lived after the flesh they should dye, as well as they were told that Christ came into the world to save sinners, but they would not believe the one, though they did the other; but now they must find and feel that which they would not before believe. These things considered, I heartily beseech all those into whose hands this shall come, to take warning now it is given, and not to deal slightly in the business of their Faith, or to dally with their precious Souls: take heed of that vain confidence of many, which you see will be all turned into disappointment, and confusion of face, when the day of tryal comes; and be working out your salvation with fear and trembling: with fear lest you should be mistaken about the ground of your con­fidence and evidence of your hope. It's a thousand pitties that men should be so wary and solicitous lest they should be deceived with a trackt title in their outward Estates, and so presuming and careless [Page 66] about rheir title to the next World, as generally they are; as if the eternal Estate of their Souls, were but a trifle to the momentary en­joyment of a little spot of this World. If the inconvenience of a mistake herein, could be born without any considerable breach upon ones comfort, or could afterward be rectified, though with some loss, as in externals it may well be, a mans folly would be the less; but to be slight, yea not to be exceeding curious, solicitous, and thoughtful to prevent a mischief that for nature is intollerable, and for duration eternal, and the loss irrepairable, argues the extremity of sottish madness, which yet O that it were not the case of all men, a few only excepted, Mat. 7.13, 14.

CHAP. VII. Shewing that that Belief unto which the Promise is made, though indefinitely exprest, is to be understood of Belief of a special kinde: and that it is no waies safe to notion it in the lowest, narrowest, and meanest sence of the Word, but to frame our notion of it ac­cording to that result which the Scriptures compared do give of it: under which notion of it, it will be hard for any man to retain a confidence of Salvation, without an holy conversation.

Sect. 1 ANd because men are oft betrayed into that vain confidence of Salvation which I have spoken of, by mistaking some Scriptures which they wrest to their own destruction, therefore to prevent that mischief for the future as much as may be; as I have in the former part of my discourse, been labouring to deliver some from their mistakes of such Scriptures as promise Justification upon believing without the Works of the Law, so I shall here also add a few words, to save them from the danger of an undue understanding of such Scriptures, as re­present the believing Christ to be the Son of God, and that he dyed, and rose again, and the like, to be that Faith that carries Life and [Page 67] Salvation in it. For whereas I have asserted in the two former Chap­ters, that neither the assenting to the truth of that report which the Scriptures make, touching Christ his being the Son of God, and Sa­viour of the World, &c. nor yet the relying on him as such for Sal­vation, will indeed avail a man unto Salvation, without a loving, loyal, and obediential cleaving to him, it may be some will be ready to object and say; Does not the Scripture plainly say, That these things are written that ye might beleeve that Iesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that beleeving ye might have life through his Name, Iohn 20.31. and was not the acknowledging of this, the very form of the Saints Faith in the first times of the Gospel? Iohn 4.42. and 6.69. and 11.27. Acts 8.37. Mat. 16.16. and does not the Scripture also expresly say, That if thou shalt confesse with thy mouth the Lord Iesus, and shalt beleeve in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved? Rom. 10.9. and again; every spirit that confesseth that Iesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God, 1 John 4.2. and whosoever shall confesse that Iesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God, verse 15. and whoso­ever beleeveth that Iesus is the Christ, is born of God, 1 Iohn 5.1. These things being so, if I do both believe and confess Jesus to be the Christ, and Christ to be the Son of God, and that he dyed and rose again, why may I not be confident of Salvation? can I have a­ny better security than the plain letter of the Scripture, that promi­seth salvation upon these termes?

Sect. 2 To all which I answer, first; that it is very true that this is the Faith of the Gospel, and that to which eternal life is promised, and that if thou doest so believe these things as that thy Faith do but an­swer the latitude of these Scripture expressions, thou mayest be con­fident of Salvation, and needest no better security for it than the Scriptures. And God forbid that I should make the strait gate strait­er than it is; or the narrow way to life, narrower than it is; all my designe is to preserve my self and others from conceiting this strait gate to be wider, and this narrow way to be broader than indeed God hath made them; as knowing an error herein, is of a dangerous tendency, and such as in all likelihood hath betrayed many a man into the broad way of death, whilst he hath strongly fancied himself to be in the path of life.

The safest and best way therefore to be kept from stumbling at the Word, and from wresting these promises of grace to our own destru­ction, will be, to understand all Scriptures that promise justification [Page 68] and life to beleeving indefinitely, as still meant of such a Faith for kinde, as does directly fall in with, and not cross Gods general design in offering Salvation to men by Jesus Christ. For it is not to be ima­gined that the Lord will prevaricate his own scope and drift, or clogg his design by any the least overture that may leave men under hope of attaining Salvation in any way, or upon any termes, which do not directly comport with his designe: that reverence which we owe to the wisdom of God, does with a high hand prohibit any such thought. All the words of God in the Scripture, in all the variety of expression, whether they be promises, or precepts, or threatnings, they all wait on Gods great design towards man, and they all march on the same way; like the living Creatures in Ezekiels vision, who went every one straight forward whither the spirit was to go, and turned not when they went; (Ezek. 1.12.) they do neither justle nor hinder, nor turn one upon another, but strengthen each other in seeking the prize for which they run: the Word of God in the se­veral parts of it as relating to the Lords designe, is not yea and nay, (2 Cor. 1.18, 19.) but all agreeing to serve the great purpose of God. And what is this general design of God I speak of? Surely ul­timately it is his own glory in the Salvation of men; his honour, and the Creatures good in conjunction. And if his design had been to provide only for the magnifying of his grace and mercy, without re­spect unto his holiness, it's like he would have saved all men without any more ado, for the same ransom, to wit, Christ Jesus, would have been, and is sufficient for all. But then would not wretched sinners have thought God to be like them? according to that in Psalm 50.21. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence, and thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thy self: would they not have thought that he could endure wickedness well enough in his Creature, and hold fellowship with the workers of iniquity? and what then would have become of the glory of his great Name? how would he have been known to be glorious in holinesse as well as in grace and power? And therefore that he might bring such a people unto himself, in whom he might delight, and whom he might prefer to glory with himself without disparagement unto his holiness, he hath in his infinite wisdom so contrived the method and termes of bringing men to his Salvation & glory, as that thereby his love of ho­liness in the Creature might be conspicuous and visible, as well as his love of the happiness of the Creature. And therefore all the means set on foot by God to bring about the salvation of men, do all tend to [Page 69] promote holiness in men, as well as the happiness of men. The whole and intire body of means of mans salvation, is called the Mystery of godliness, 1 Tim. 3.16. Christ the principal Agent, or rather author of eternal salvation, the holy one, Acts 3.14. the Gospel which is the Word of Life, or glad tidings of salvation, is called the doctrine according to godliness, 1 Tim. 6.3. Tit. 1.1. The Cove­nant of grace, an holy Covenant, Luke 1.72. the Faith by which men imbrace the Prince of Life, the promise of Life, and Word of Sal­vation, is called the most holy Faith, Iude 20. the calling of chri­stians an holy calling, 2 Tim. 1.9. for they are called unto holi­ness, 1 Thes. 4.7. the Spirit by which the means are made effectu­al, and through which by his Workmanship men are formed into ves­sels of glory, is the holy Spirit, Ephes. 4.30. In a word, the very end and scope of Christ his giving himself for his Church, and vouchsafe­ing all the means of Salvation, is, That he might present it to him­self a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish, Ephes. 5.27. meet for the company of the holy God, and the holy Angels, in the most holy place, the holy Ierusalem, as it is called Rev. 21.10. Now this is that which I say then, that seeing Gods design is to mag­nifie his holiness as well as his mercy in mens salvation, and to shew that he as well desires and loves their holiness as their happiness, and that all subordinate means are appointed and shaped to reach the one as well as the other: hence we may well conclude that the believing unto which God hath made promise of life, however indefinitely ex­prest, is yet no other than a most holy Faith, and such as does dis­pose that soul where it is, unto holiness; because salvation being the great motive to perswade men unto holiness, God would loose that part of his designe, if he should make promise of life unto any other than the most holy Faith.

And therefore it is neither prudent nor safe for any man to under­stand or take the word BELEEVING (to which the promise is made) in the narrowest and strictest sence, or lowest signification of the word, as it imports a naked, bare, and barren assent; for if it might, the Faith of the Rulers that durst not own Christ; the Faith of Si­mon Magus; yet such a Faith as the Devils have (of which you heard before) would carry salvation before it. But if you would lay a sure foundation, then understand the word BELEEVING, or the phrase beleeving Christ to be the Son of God, in a more copious and comprehensive sence, for such an assent of the mind as carries [Page 70] the will and affections along with it, to reverence and love him as such; as a Wife who believes her Husband to be her Husband, or as a Child who believes his Father to be his Father. For whosoever believes Christ to be the Son of God, if his Faith be not contradictious in it self, does believe all his sayings as certain verities, whether pre­cepts, promises, or threatnings, & consequently his Faith does dispose the soul to love and fear him, and hearken to him. In this large sence I conceive, Christ is to be understood, Iohn 5.44. when he sayes to the Jews, how can ye believe which receive honour of one ano­ther, and seek not the honour, that cometh from God only? For in that lower sence which imports only a bare and barren assent, they might, and some of them did believe, and yet did receive honour one of another, and did not seek that honour that comes from God only; for some did believe, and yet loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God, Iohn 12.43. But by this saying of our Saviour it appears, that when men do believe rightly and savingly, that be­lief of theirs carries the affections more to Christ than to men, as va­luing and preferring his approbation before theirs, and consequently engaging the man to please Christ rather than them. In which bet­ter sence, the Apostle Iohn is also to be understood when he saies, Whosoever beleeveth that Iesus is the Christ, is born of God, 1 Iohn 5.1. That is whosoever believes effectually and affectionately, is thereby turned into another man; which is done, not by an idle and an opinionative assent, but by an operative belief.

Sect. 3 But to make it yet farther evident, that the Faith to which Salva­tion is promised, is not to be understood in such a restrained sence as sometimes its used among men, and in the Scriptures too, for a bare act of the mind without the concurrence of the wil and affections, but in a moral and more comprehensive sence, for such a believing Christ to be the Son of God, as unites, and subjects the soul to him as such, I shall offer these few things, as most worthy your consi­deration.

1. To believe and to obey the Lord or the Gospel, are in the Gos­pel account so much of the same general and common nature, as that they are frequently indifferently put the one for the other, and so are their contraries, unbelief, and disobedience. Hence it is, that those words which the translators of our Bible, have in sundry pla­ces rendred belief, or unbelief; the Dutch Translation Englished, renders obedience, or disobedience: Yea our own Translators, fin­ding the Original words so indifferently to import either, have ac­cording [Page 71] in several places, given us both, in the double reading of Text and margint, as you may see Rom. 11.30, 31. and 15.31. Acts 5.36. Heb. 4.11. and 11.31. When the Apostle would shew, that the Prophesie of Isaiah was fulfilled in the unbelieving Jews, which saith, Lord, Who hath believed our report? he does it by say­ing, they had not obeyed the Gospel, Rom. 10.16. But they have not all obeyed the Gospel, for Esaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So that with this Apostle, not to believe, and not to obey the Gospel, is the same thing. And Peter another Apostle of our Lord, puts believing and disobedience in direct opposition one to a­nother, as if the word Disobedient were as much the contrary to be­lieving, as the word unbelieving is, 1 Pet. 2.7. To you that beleeve he is precious, but unto them which be disobedient, the stone, &c. 2 Thes. 2.12.

Sect. 4 2. Again, it's worthy consideration, that the two Evangelists, Matthew and Luke, recording the same saying of Christ for substance, yet so far vary the expression, as that that which the one calls Faith, the other calls the Love of God. See the passage, Mat. 23.23. And have omitted the weightier matters of the Law, Iudgement, Mercy, and Faith, Luke 11.42. thus: Ye tithe Mint and Rue, and all man­ner of herbs, and passe over judgement, and the love of God. That which Christ here charges the Pharisees with, that whilst they were zealous for the lesser, they neglected the weightier matters of both Tables of the Law, Judgement and Mercy towards men, the great Duties of the Second Table, and Faith in, and Love to God, the great Duties of the First Table, and which are more than all whole burnt Offerings, and Sacrifices, which yet were Duties of the First Table also, Mark 12.33. I know that some are of opinion that the Faith mentioned Mat. 23, 23. is meant of fidelity to men, and so a Duty of the Second Ta­ble, but considering that the Pharisees and Scribes were not only guilty of the neglect of the weightier matters of the Second Table, but of the First also, much of their hypocrisie lying in this, that they would be deemed great Friends to God upon account of their zeal for some lesser matters of the external and ceremonial part of his Worship, when in the mean while they faultered with God, and gros­ly neglected the Spiritual, Internal, and substancial part thereof, it cannot reasonably be thought, but that Christs charge and reproof must reach them in this neglect, as well as the other, which yet can­not be, unless by Faith, which they were charged to omit, we un­derstand Faith towards God; for that Judgement and Mercy the [Page 72] other part of their omission, are by general agreement understood of duties towards men commanded in the Second Table: so that they must be taxed with their neglect toward God in this behalf in that reproof for omitting Faith, or else not at all. But besides, that which I think puts the matter out of doubt, is this, that Luke, instead of Matthews saying that they omitted Faith, affirms that, they passed over the Love of God, which according to Christs own words, is the First and great Commandement, Mat. 22.38, 39. and so in this as in many other particulars, Matthew is expounded by Luke.

This passage of our Saviour mentioned by these two Evangelists being thus understood, there is one thing as to my present purpose which I would have observed from hence, and that is: That the right Faith commanded by God, in the nature of it, is a fiducial lo­ving of the Lord, such a believing him to be what he is, and such a depending upon him as such, as is accompanied with, or which car­ries in it unfeigned love, or true affection to him, which interpreted, is the keeping of his Commandements, 1 Iohn 5.3. According to 1 Tim. 1.5. The end of the Commandement is love, out of Faith un­feigned. If that Love which is the end and scope of the Law, be such as proceeds out of an unfeigned Faith, then the unfeigned Faith must in the Nature of it, in the Womb of it, needs comprehend and con­tain that Love which is the end and scope of the Commandement; it could not proceed out of it, if it were not first in it. It's true indeed, this act, or this ingredient of Faith which affectionately carries the Soul to God, bears another denomination different in sound from that of Faith, and is called Love; as the different operations of one and the same soul, give a different denomination of faculties; and as the same body of Waters which make the Sea, receive other Names when they come to be distributed into several Rivers; but it will no more follow that Faith does not originally contain a divine Love in the nature of it, because when produced into act it's called by ano­ther name, then it will follow that the different acts of the Will and of the Understanding, are not acts of the same soul, because they pass under different denominations, or that the Waters in Rivers are not the same which were in the Sea, because now called by another Name. When the Apostle speaks thus concerning the communica­tion of Philemons Faith, Phil. 6. That the communication of thy Faith may become effectual, by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Iesus: does he not plainly suppose that every good thing was in his Faith before it was communicated? though when [Page 73] communicated, called by as great a diversity of Names, as the things themselves were divers. But every good thing, and every good thing acknowledged, was but his Faith effectually communicated, distribu­ted into acts: all the good things of his life, were but the births of his Faith; as Waters issuing out of a Fountain, some running one way, and some another, some serving for one use, and some for ano­ther. All which considered, it need seem no strange thing that Luke should call that Love, which Matthew calls Faith: for Love is but Faith once removed as it were; Faith drawn out into act; as Faith also is dispositively and in the first habit, Love.

Sect. 5 3. Believing in Christ, and receiving of him are termes equivalent, and import the same thing, Iohn 1.12. As many as received him, to them he gave power to become the Sons of God, even to those that be­lieve in his name: the former expression of receiving him, is expoun­ded by the latter of believing in his Name. By which we may gather, that it is the nature and property of the true Faith to receive Christ, which is the act of Adherence I spake of before. Men by the first act of Faith believe Christ Jesus to be what he is, and to be so and so re­lated both to God and unto men; but by this second act which al­waies accompanies the first where the Faith is saving, they receive and imbrace him, and cleave to him as such. And in this lies the for­mal act of mans striking Covenant with the Lord, and interessing himself in the grace and blessing of the Gospel. For all good, present, and future, is entailed on Christ, as being Heir of all things, and as ha­ving all things put into his hand by the Father; so that he that hath the Son, hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life, 1 Iohn 5.12. receive him, and receive all; the whole inheritance goes along with the Heir; but nothing short of this will invest us with the Inheritance.

What is the meaning then of receiving Christ?

1. To receive, whether understood of mens receiving the Lord, or the Lords receiving of Men, or of Mens receiving of one another, is still in Scripture taken in the best sence for receiving with affection and acceptation, 2 Cor. 6.17. Rom. 14.1. and 15.7. Gal. 4.14. Philem. 12.17. And so in this place of Iohn 1.12. Those that receive Christ, receive him with affection and acceptation; yea with such af­fection and acceptation, as by which they prefer him above all other, both persons and things; for otherwise they will not be deemed wor­thy of him: a wise man will not bestow himself upon a Woman that he knows loves another better than himseif; and I am sure the Lord [Page 74] in this sence will not give himself to any man that loves any thing more than him. Mat. 10.37. He that loveth Father or Mother, Son or Daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; much less he that loves any sinful lust or way more. It is true, to give Men and Women a proof of his good will to them, and as an argument to draw their affections to him, Christ hath given himself a Ransom for all, his flesh for the life of the World; but he having done this, those that shall not hereby be moved and drawn to forsake all to follow him, cannot be his, and consequently he not theirs; They shall not taste of his Supper, Luke 14.24, 26, 27, 33. That's one thing then which is to be understood by Mens receiving of Christ.

2. Another is this; he that receives Christ indeed, receives him for such as indeed he is, and in that capacity in which he is sent, offered, tendred by the Father, and given by himself, and that is, not only as a Saviour, but also as a Lord; and as a Saviour by delivering him from the dominion of sin, and bringing him under his own Rule and Go­vernment, as King and Lord, as well as by delivering him from the guilt of sin by the Sacrifice of himself. How oft does the Scripture call him our Lord and Saviour Iesus Christ? 2 Pet. 1.11. and 2.2. and 3.18. with many more. And again, Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, Acts 5.31. The Father gave him to be head over all things to the Church, and to be a Ruler of his people, Eph. 1.22. Mat. 2.6. And whosoever does not receive him as such, does not receive that gift of God. For Christ is not, nor cannot be divided, (1 Cor. 1.13.) you cannot separate the Lord from the Saviour, and take the one and leave the other. Among all other Lords and Rulers, which in Scripture are also called Saviours, (Nehem. 9.27.) protection and subjection go together: Does any rational man expect protection from the chief Magistrate upon any other termes than his due obedience to all his lawful commands? And shall any man be so mad as to expect protection, and deliverance by Christ from the wrath to come, upon any other termes? Will not Christ say to such as shal cry to him, Lord, Lord, open to us, who yet never made conscience to do all his commands, as the Lord said unto a people that cryed after him in their distress, and yet served other Lords in the time of peace? Go cry unto the gods which ye have cho­sen, let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation, Iudges 10.14. Ier. 2.28. Where they yeilded subjection, thither they are sent for protection: if sin can save those that serve sin, they shall have salvation, and if Christ can save those that serve him, they shall have [Page 75] salvation; Where I am, there shall my servant also be, saith he, Iohn 12.26. Christ is and will be the author of Eternal Salvation, but to whom? To all those that obey him, (Heb. 5.9.) But to those that be disobedient and which stumble at his word, he is and will be a stone of stumbling, and rock of offence, the same to them as a Rock is to a ship, a means of swift destruction, 1 Pet. 2.8. He wil be so far from saving them, as that he will say, But those mine enemies that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me, Luke 19.27. A folly it is then for any Man to think that he can take hold of Christ as his Saviour; and so receive him and salva­tion by him, that does not willingly imbrace him as his dear Lord, in which capacity he is given as well as that of Saviour: in a moral sence, he does not at all receive him, that does not receive him in that capacity which is proper to him; no publique Ambassador would judge himself received by him to whom he is sent, in case he should be received in the capacy of a private person only, when he is not sent as such.

Neither let any deceive their own souls, and think that they do re­ceive him as their Lord, because they are wont to call him so as fre­quently as any, unless they make it their design, and the care and bu­siness of their Lives to wait for his counsel, promote his interest, faithfully to do his business, fulfil his Will, and do his commands. Why call you me Lord (saith he to such) and do not the things which I say? Luke 6.46. As if he counted himself but wronged and dis­graced by such a claim: what he to be their Lord that have this vile sin, and that base Lust to be their Lord, yea more their Lord than Christ, and more observed and obeyed than he: He only their titu­lar Lord, but their worldly and fleshly Lusts their real. And is not that a horrible disparagement to Christ, for him to be joyned with such Masters, and to be made one of the number, yea inferior to them, as having less command over such persons than their Lusts have? Do you not know that the Father designed as well the glory and honour of his Son in your salvation, and in the way of bringing you to it, as your Salvation it self? That all men might honour the Son, even as they honour the Father, Iohn 5.23. and do you think then that he will suffer his Son to be dishonoured and disgraced by you, while you do but mock him in calling him Lord, but denying him your faithful o­bedience, and yeild your subjection to his utter Enemies? like those that crucified him, who indeed bowed the knee before him, and cryed hail King of the Jews, as well as you. Do you think it will serve your [Page 76] turn to neglect Christ all your dayes (as you do if you do not serve him in holiness and righteousness) and then think he should save you when you can serve his enemies no longer? O I beseech all such to consider it betimes, for God will not be so mocked by you.

3. A receiving of Christ clearly implies in it a receiving of his Word and Doctrine, for whoever doth not receive that, does not re­ceive him, but whoever does receive that, does receive him, 2 Iohn 9. Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the Doctrine of Christ, hath not God; he that abideth in the Doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Fa­ther and the Son, Iohn 12.48. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my Word, hath one that judgeth him: where not to receive the Word of Christ, and to reject him, is constructively the same thing. Where­to that also agrees Psalm 81.11. But my people would not hearken to my voice, Israel would none of me: in refusing his voice, God took himself to be refused, as any King would do, whose Laws and Com­mands should be refused. Look then into the Scriptures, the 5, 6, and 7. Chapters of Matthew, and elsewhere, and see what holy and strict injunctions the Lord hath laid upon his Disciples, and then look into your hearts, and see if you can find them there, not only in the notio­nal knowledge of them, but as having begotten principles, dispositi­ons and affections in their own likeness, and from thence proceed to your conversations, words, and wayes, and see how they answer the pattern in the Mount; and if World & Lust abide there with more au­thority and command than the Doctrin of Christ, you may be confi­dent you have not yet received Christ; for he is King, and his Laws in chief regard, where ever he dwels. And thus you see what receiving of Christ that is, which is interpreted to be a believing in his Name, and consequently what a true and sincere belief in Christs name carries in it, to wit, a loving and loyal cleaving to him, and an imbracing of him and his Word.

Sect. 6 4. Remission of sin and Salvation, are suspended upon Repentance from dead Works, and therefore when pardon of sin and Salvation is promised unto believing indefinitely, it may not safely be understood of any other Faith than such as actually turns the Soul to God, from serving of sin to serve him, from the love of vanity to the love of pi­ety, wherein the work of Repentance does consist. Remission of sin is the next and immediate effect of a sound Faith, Acts 10.43. and so is it the next and immediate effect of true Repentance, Luke 24.47. Acts 2.38. and 5.31. and 3.19. yea Pardon does so de­pend [Page 77] upon Repentance that it's not to be had without it, Luke 13.3, 5. Except ye repent ye shall all perish. And so actual Salvation which is the last & compleating effect of Faith, (1 Pet. 1.9.) is likewise the fi­nishing effect of Repentance, and therfore called Repentance unto life, Acts 11.18. and repentance unto salvation, 2 Cor. 7.10. If then Repen­tence begins & ends with Faith, sets out with it, and runs along with it to the end of its race in the effects produced by both, impossible it is that any Faith should justifie or save, but such as hath the nature of Repentance in it, or which does inseparably accompany it. By which consideration alone their Faith is detected of invalidity and unavailableness, what ever the object of it may be, whose hearts and lives are not reformed by it, but still remain under the power of some thing or other condemned by the Word of the Lord, and their own Consciences enlightened by it, yeilding themselves rather unto the impositions of fleshly Lusts in some way of pride, covetousness, or carnal pleasure, than unto the sweet motions of the Holy Spirit cal­ling to humility, sobriety, temperance, love, mercy, serious devoti­on, and holiness towards God. As it is true, that Men shal be saved by Christ, and justified by Faith, so it is as true that that Faith by which they shall be justified, does purifie the heart, (Acts 15.9.) i. e. work out evil affections, sinful motions, and unclean inclinati­nations; as nature where it is not overcome by the strength of a Dis­ease, by degrees works out those malignant humours which do ill af­fect the body, and which otherwise would be the overthrow of it, as the other of the Soul: and therefore where Faith doth not work this way, there's the same reason for a Man to be confident that that Faith is not right, as there is to be confident thar a right Faith will save, having the same word for the one as for the other.

Sect. 7 5. The same is true of unfeigned Love to the Lord, the same pro­mise of Life is made to that as is to Faith, Iames 1.12. and 2.5. 1 Cor. 2.9. Nay the want of this does as well render a man unworthy of Christ, and that which comes by him, and layes him as open to the curse, as Infidelity it self does. Mat. 10.37. 1 Cor. 16.22. If any man love not the Lord Iesus, let him be Anathema, Maranatha, By which it's evident that all the while this Love is wanting, he is under the curse that wants it, whatever his belief otherwise may be, and consequently that no Faith in Christ but such as knits the Soul in unfeigned Love to him, wil deliver a Man from the curse of God, and consequently nor justifie. And alass how manies Faith is hereby manifested to be meerly counterfeit? Who are lovers of pleasures more [Page 78] than lovers of God, which appears in that they follow them rather than God; lovers of the World more than the Lord, which appears in that they chuse to please the Men of the World rather than him, and are more intent and thoughtful about getting the World, than honouring of him, and will rather run the hazard of displeasing him in holding fast the things of the World, than part with them upon his call. For it is not every degree of Love to Christ that will deno­minate a Man a true Lover of him; but Love in such proportion, and to such a degree, as prevails against all other objects that stand in competition with Christ, and carries away the Soul from them all to Christ, Mat. 10.37. He that loves Father or Mother more than me, is not worthy of me, and he that loves Son or Daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. It's not only lawful for a Man to love his Father and Mother, his Son and Daughter, but it is his duty so to do, yea and to love them much more than others that are not so related, and yet for all that, if his Love to Christ do not exceed in proportion, that Love and strong affection which he may, and ought to bear to such Relations, Christ you see hath already judged him unworthy of him. A Man though he love his Wife better than most other Women, yet if he love but one Woman more than his Wife with that affection that is proper to his Wife, wil be judged by sober men, no true Lover of his Wife. In like manner though you should love Christ more than many other enjoyments, or many other sins which you have parted with for his sake; yet if you retain but any one sin, or sinful lust, and are tender of it for the profit or pleasure that comes into you by it, and will harbour it to the offence and provocation of the Lord, and chuse rather to run the hazard of loosing his company, and all the comforts of it, than to turn such an offensive guest out of doors, assuredly the Lord who doth alwaies judge according to truth, wil judge himself despised and unworthily rejected by you. He you see then that wants this prevailing degree of Love to Christ, is stil under the curse, and therefore no belief in Christ whatsoever that hath not this Love in it, or is not certainly accompanied with it, can be any sufficient ground for any Man to be confident of his Salva­tion. Nothing less availeth, than that Faith which thus worketh by Love, Gal. 5.6.

By all these considerations then you may see, that when Promise of Life is made unto believing in Christ indefinitely exprest, it is no wise safe to understand the Scriptures as intending any other lower kind of Faith than that definitively which is of power and force to change [Page 79] the heart and life of him that hath it, and to renew him to God in holiness; Jesus Christ himself in his words to Paul, having plainly declared this to be the true nature of the Faith that is in him, Acts 26.18. That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by Faith that is in me. And therefore John the bosome Disciple of Christ (as was noted before) saith, Whosoever beleeveth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, 1 Iohn 5.1. which as you see must be understood of that vigorous belief that gives a man a new being, furnishes him with new principles of motion and acti­on, new thoughts, new affections, a new life; that gives him victory over the World, as it follows verse 4. Whosoever is born of God, over­cometh the world, and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our Faith: Christs proffers, and the Worlds proffers, Christs threats and the Worlds threats, striving which shall carry the Man to follow their waies, Faith steps in, by which the Man believes; that as Christ is the Son of God, so he is more worthy to be followed, and his proffers infinitely more worthy to be regarded, and his threats dreaded, than the World with all that she can do or say, and so delivers the Man out of the Worlds hand, that he is at liberty to attend the Lord.

Sect. 8 And whereas among other Scriptures objected in the beginning of this Chapter, one promiseth salvation to such as believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus Christ; and others affirm, that whosoever confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, and is the Son of God, are of God, and dwell in God, and God in them, they are to be understood as spoken according to the exigencies of those times wherein a Man confessing Christ exposed himself to persecution, (Iohn 9.22. and 12.42.) and consequently manifested his effectual Faith in an unfeigned Love to the Lord Je­sus: and thus to call Iesus the Lord, no Man could do but by the Holy Ghost, and his special assistance, 1 Cor. 12.3. But now in times wherein to deny him to be the Lord, would sooner expose a man to suffering, than the confessing of him so to be, the bare confes­sing of him will not invest him with the great priviledges that then were promised unto the confessing of Christ, according to that Mat. 7.21: Not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the king­dom of Heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father which is in Hea­ven.

Sect. 9 THe truth is, if a Man do but take the Scriptures together, and shape his judgement according to their result when compared, as [Page 80] its every Mans wisdom to do, as it is not safe, so it is impossible for him then to be confident of his salvation meerly upon account of his believing Christ to be the Son of God, unless this Faith of his be pro­ved to him to be the Faith of Gods elect, by some good degree of those holy affections, and that christian demeanure which the holy Word and Doctrine of the Lord calls for. And the reason hereof is, because such Scriptures as I have been now insisting on, that curse all those that do not love the Lord Jesus, that sentence with eternal death, all those that live after the flesh, that exclude all such the bles­sed Vision of the Lord that have not holiness, that shut the gates of Heaven against all such as do not make conscience to do the will of the Father; I say such Scriptures stand up to oppose such a Man in his confidence of salvation, like as the Cherubims with the flaming sword kept the way of the Tree of Life against Adam: though he have ne­ver such a desire to be confident, he cannot; such Scriptures meet him, and will not let him; they knock him off from taking hold of e­ternal life; this confidence it is not able to subsist in any other ele­ment than that of holiness, 1 Iohn 3.18, 19, 20, 21. Little children let us not love in word and in tongue, but indeed and in truth. And here­by we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us; God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things, Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confi­dence towards God. That by which the Apostle saith, men know themselves to be of the truth, one in heart and design with it, of the same party as it were, in Friendship, and fellow­ship with it, is this, viz. their loving, not in word and tongue on­ly, but indeed and in truth: when Men do not only talk, but act and live the things of the Gospel. And hereby (saith he) we shall assure our hearts before him, or perswade our hearts before him, (as in the mar­gint.) Implying that without this, for a Man that knows and consi­ders the termes of the Gospel, it's impossible to perswade his heart before God, to appear before God with any confidence. For saith he, if our heart condemn us, viz. of unfaithfulness and faultering with God in the main, that our Love and our Religion hath been but in Word and in Tongue, have contented our selves to talke of, and speak well of good things, but have left the doing of them to o­ther folks, like the Pharisees that by their Doctrine would bind heavy burdens upon other mens shoulders, and yet themselves not touch them with one of their fingers; if our heart condemn us of such a thing as this, God is greater than our heart, both in knowledge and [Page 81] discerning of this deceit, and in righteousness of sentence, and pro­ceeding against it, and therefore he will condemn much more. But if our heart condemn us not in this behalf, but bears us witness that it hath been our earnest desire, care, and faithful endeavour to be that which the truth teacheth us to be, then have we confidence towards God of our acceptation with him, all the Scriptures being on our side to abet and back us in this confidence; but on the contrary, all against us.

The Apostle saith, He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. 11.6. Mark: Its matter of a mans Faith as well to believe that the men whom God will reward are such as diligently seek him, as it is to be­lieve that God is, and that he is a rewarder of men. So that where this diligent seeking of the Lord is wanting, there's no place for any man to be confident of receiving that blessedness from God which is called the recompence of reward, and the reward of the inheritance. And what is it for a man diligently to seek the Lord? but earnestly to seek his Favour and Love by a diligent and careful endeavour to please him alwayes, and in all things. By Sin and Unrighteousness man lost God, and lost his Love: and however it is by the Bloud of Christ that a new and living way is now prepared and made for man to come to God again, and to regain his love, yet he is not actually possest of it but by going back again to God, by returning to him in the same way in which he departed from him. All the while man was in the way of Righteousness, he was with God and enjoyed the comfort of his company and presence; but he no sooner left that way, but he lost God; and there's no finding him again without geting into that way again, and there you may meet with him, find him, walk with him, and enjoy the comfort of his love and presence again through the mediation of our good friend his holy Son Jesus. Only here's the difference indeed, the way of Righteousness is now new made, a new Covenant struck, new Terms propounded of co­ming into possession of God again as a happy portion, a diligent seeking of him by believing in him, sincerely loving of him, and faith­fully endeavouring to please him, being the condition of this new Co­venant, and the new way of Righteousness in which God is to be found if therein diligently sought. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of Hope unto the end, Heb. 6.11. This diligence you see is the medium of this confi­dent Assurance.

Men can have no other foundation for their confidence than what God himself hath laid, I mean proposed; it is not of him that willeth in this kind, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy; he gives the reward, and he gives the laws and terms of ob­taining of it: and therefore as long as the Declarations of Gods mind in the Scriptures compared touching the qualifications of such whom he receives into Covenant and designs unto life, do oppose mens confidence, so long they have no foundation to build upon, and consequently no confidence of Salvation at all, or as good as none. For that which is not built upon Gods ground which is all rocky and substantial, but upon mens own deceiveable thoughts and imaginations, and mistakes of Gods mind and declaration, as upon the sand, will sail them, and fall in that very hour in which it should do them service, and they have most need of it. Job. 8.13, 14, 15. So are the paths of all that forget God, and the Hipocrites hope shall perish: whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a Spiders­web: he shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand; he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure: Their hope (Job 11.20.) shall be as the giving up of the Ghost; like a man who though he have never so great a desire to live, yet must yield up his breath when Death comes: and so must men be forced to part with those hopes which they have made to themselves, but not received from God; and in­stead thereof embrace everlasting despair, to the horrible confusion of their miserable Souls when the time of tryal comes; their house of confidence that was built upon the sand, will then fall, and the fall of it will be great, Matth. 7.27. It may stand and do them the service of a house of hope, protect them from many sad fears till the storm arises and beats against it, but then down it comes, and the poor Soul is then to seek, and there is no shelter to be found. And does it not then concern men to be often prying into the grounds of their Hope, and to view them over and over with a jealous eye? to the end that if a man have but cause to suspect those he hath, he may provide himself of better before it is too late: it will be no time for the foolish Virgins to seek to provide themselves of Oyl for their Lamps, when the very pinch of time comes that they should use it.

CHAP. VIII. Shewing that the Faith which shall justifie as Abra­hams did, is a Faith that walks in the steps of the Faith of Abraham. Shewing also what those steps were, and that Abraham was justified by the latter of them as well as the former; and that the justification of his spiritual seed stands upon the same terms: contrary to the Antinomian Doctrine, and Libertine Principles.

Sect. 1 ALthough I have through the Lords assistance, in some measure already opened the nature of Gospel-Faith of the right kind, in comparing it with, and thereby discovering the nature of the feigned, dangerous and dead Faith, and wherein it falls short of the true; yet to the end you may have a fuller view of the nature, pro­perties, and genuine operation of the Faith of Gods Elect, I shall through the same assistance now proceed to shew you further, how it hath from time to time wrought in them. And thereby I shall give you opportunity to try your own Faith of what kind it is: For if it be that Faith which the Scripture calls the Faith of Gods Elect, (Tit. 1.1.) then it will work after the same manner as theirs general­ly hath been wont to do; but if you cannot find your Faith to be of that kind by working as theirs did, you will have small reason as yet to conclude your self one of their number.

I shall begin with Abraham, who as the Scripture saith was Fa­ther of all them that beleeve; and so he was, because all true belee­vers do partake of the same kind of Faith that dwelt eminently in him, and are thereby justified and saved as he was: He is the great instance, pattern or example, both in his Faith and Justification; of Gods resolved method of saving all men that shall be saved, whe­ther Jewes or Gentiles. As a Son who succeeds his Father comes to enjoy the same Inheritance and priviledge as his Father did, so he [Page 84] that shall succeed Abraham in his Faith, shall enjoy the same spiri­tual and eternal inheritance which was entailed on his Faith: So saith the Apostle, Gal. 3.9. So then they which be of Faith, are bles­sed with faithful Abraham. The same Apostle in another place de­clares them to be his spiritual Children, and he a Father to such as walk in the steps of his Faith. Rom. 4.12. And the Father of circum­cision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but also to those that walk in the steps of that Faith of our Father Abraham which he had being yet uncircumcised. Where note first, That the Faith which Abraham had, and by which he was Justified, was a Faith which had steps in it: it did not consist in one transient act only, but of a series of acts, one following another; and that he was Justifi­ed by the latter of these as well as the former, I shall (God willing) afterwards shew. That which I would further note in the second place, is, That the Faith which will render them that have it Chil­dren of Abraham and inheritors of the same blessing with him, is such for kind as is found walking in the steps of his Faith; influen­cing the life and disposing the heart in particular occurrences, as his did. It may well be indeed that every Child of Abraham may not be able to keep pace with their Father in this walk of Faith, nor to follow him close at the heels; nor are all his Children of the same growth or same strength, but yet all following their Father in the same way, though at some distance; all treading in his steps. It is most certain that the true Faith by which they become his Children, will guide them into the same way, put them upon the same beha­viour for kind in which he was found. Joh. 8.39. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abrahams Children, ye would do the works of Abra­ham.

For a tryal of our Faith therefore whether it be of the right breed and of the stock of Abraham, let us a little trace out the walk of Abrahams Faith, and see what the foot-steps of it were, as we have the print of them in the Scriptures, and then see whether our Faith walk in the same path, or tread in the same steps or no.

Sect. 2 1. This was one of the foot-steps of his Faith, it gave God the glory of his truth, power, and goodness, in being confidently per­swaded that what he promised he was both able, willing, and faithful to perform, how contrary soever to humane probability. Rom. 4.18, 19, 20, 21. Who against hope, beleeved in hope, that he might be the Father of many Nations; according to that which was spoken, so shall thy seed be. And being not weak in Faith, he considered not [Page 85] his own body now dead, neither yet the deadness of Sarahs womb: He staggered not at the Promise of God through Ʋnbelief, but was strong in Faith giving glory to God: and being fully perswaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. The word Promise, or saying of God, carried it in his soul against all contrary reasonings. Sarah being old, and it ceasing to be with her after the manner of Women; and Abraham himself also being as good as dead (Heb. 11.12.) this incumbred the belief of the Promise in Sa­rah, and at first set her Faith, Gen. 18.11, 12. But the Text saith Abraham considered neither the one nor the other; he considered not his own body now dead, nor yet the deadness of Sarahs womb; Gods Promise did so wholly take up his soul, and was of so great au­thority with him, as that he did not judge the great improbabilities in Nature, worthy in this case to be so much as considered, nor at all to be heard when God had spoken. Afterward God tryes his Faith again: he had not only in general promised him a numerous Posterity like unto the stars for multitude, as before, Gen. 15.5. but now more particularly had told him that in Isaac should his seed be called, Gen. 21.12. and yet for all this commands Abraham to slay and offer in Sacrifice to God this Son of his, and how then should God make good his Promise? might Abraham think? Abraham here again measures Gods Word and Promise, not by this and that difficulty, but by his irresistable power, Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he recei­ved him in a figure, Heb. 11.19. You see he had so high an esteem of the goodness and truth of God, that if he had but power enough to make good his word, he made no question of his performance; and was so all thoughts made touching the sufficiency of his power to go through with whatever he had a mind to, or had undertaken to do, as that though one difficulty after another rose up to encoun­ter his Faith, yet they could not so much as make him to stagger, so mighty was Gods Word in his soul! And therfore was this Faith of his imputed to him for Righteousness. Now this was not written for his sake alone that this Faith of his was im­puted unto him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we beleeve on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, saith the Apostle, Rom. 4.23, 24. It was written to give us to under­stand, That if God be so magnified in the soul as that no difficulty or unlikelihood whatsoever can stand before or carry it against the Word and Promise of God there, but beleeving first that God raised [Page 86] Christ from the dead for our Justification, after he had been deliver­ed for our offences; and then beleeving also, that God by the same power and grace by which he did that, will certainly fulfil and per­form all his Words and Promises in due time, and according to his own terms: and that this Faith do but dispose the frame of the heart God-ward as it did in Abraham, that then this Faith of ours shall as assuredly be imputed to us for Righteousness, as his was to him. Hath God then Promised a free and full Pardon of all your sins upon your unfeigned Repentance and turning from them to God, and ta­king hold of his Grace in Christ, how great or many soever they have been, and how unworthy soever they have rendered you of such a favour? Hath he promised to such as have begun thus truly to turn to God, that he will give them his Spirit to help in the Work, to make them new hearts, and to write his Law there, and that humbly waiting and depending upon him in his own way and means, he will keep them from falling, and preserve them to his hea­venly kingdom? See then whether you do stedfastly beleeve these great and precious Promises, and are encouraged and enabled by your belief of them to turn again to God from all your transgressi­ons, and in thus turning, confidently to expect by degrees a real and faithful performance of them all, notwithstanding the great di­stance you may possibly for the present perceive your selves to be from much of what is thus promised; and notwithstanding those great, mighty and violent oppositions which you do and are like to meet with from flesh, World, and Devil to encounter your confi­dence of these things. Though difficulties in this kind are many, great, and sorely threatning your falling short of the enjoyment of these mighty Promises; yet if your Faith be but firmly bottomed and built upon them, and that the faithfulness and power of God to make them good, be so eyed by you, and your souls so centered therein, as that all the difficulties and unlikelihoods that rise up in your way from what quarter soever, cannot prevail in your soul a­gainst the Word of God, but that you do indeed beleeve that the might and power of his Grace will make its way through them all, and perform to a tittle what he hath promised, and that this confi­dence of yours does but engage you still to be following of God step by step in his way, method, and means of fulfilling his Word, as Abrahams Faith did; then you may confidently assure your selves that your Faith is of the right breed and kind, and of the same nature with Abrahams, and walking in the same steps, and such as [Page 87] will entitle you to, and possess you of the same blessing which he at­tained by his Faith.

Sect. 3 2. Another step of his Faith was this: As by it he stedfastly be­leeved Gods Promises, so by it he faithfully obeyed his Precepts, call and counsel, Heb. 11.8. By Faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an Inheritance, o­beyed, and he went out not knowing whither he went. An excellent grace indeed, that is moulded and cast in the Will of God, and re­ceives its form and figure from thence! The Word of God had the same force upon Abrahams soul by means of his Faith, as the Wind hath upon a Weather-cock, it still made it to stand with it: If he promised him any thing, his soul did securely acquiess in his Word; if he commanded him any thing, he readily obeys; the Word of the Lord carries him before it. He only depended upon the divine Will by his Faith; what that gave him, he received: what that would have him do, that he did. He beleeved, its like, That the Lord was so good in himself, and so much a friend to him, as that he would not put him upon any thing, command him any thing, but what in the issue should clearly tend to his good; and therefore upon this perswasion resolves to deliver up himself wholly to the Will of God, and to be an absolute Servant thereunto, and to wait upon it whither ever it would carry him. He knew his Happiness was in Gods hand, and was confident that the way to be possessed of it, was still to wait upon God in beleeving what he said, and in doing what he bade him. The Will and Command of God then, was the constant walk of Abrahams Faith.

Sect. 4 3. And Thirdly the nature of that Obedience which proceeded from his Faith was this; It was an obedience of Self denyal, where­in he crossed his own will to comply with the Will of God, therein doing God that right (which but few in the world do) as actually to acknowledge the Lord and his most holy Will to be absolutely so­vereign and supream, and that his own Will must stoop to his with­out all disputes, how contrary soever thereunto. The Command of God comes to Abraham, Gen. 12.1, 2, 3. saying, Get thee out of thy Country and from thy Fathers house, unto a Land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great Nation, and I will Bless thee and make thy Name great, and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thy Seed shall all Families of the Earth be blessed. Here are great things promised indeed, as an Argument and Motive to perswade [Page 88] him to obey this Call and Command of God, which he confidently depended upon; but in the mean time he must quit his Country, bid a-dieu to his Kindred, depart from his Fathers house, make him­self a laughing stock (it's like) to Neighbors, Friends, and Ac­quaintance, as if some strange Chymera had struck his brain, and must go he knew not whither; So saith the Apostle, He went out not knowing whither he went, Heb. 11.8. Let's make it our own case, and we shall easily perceive that thus to do was a piece of great Self denial. And yet his Faith led him out from amidst these anci­ent enjoyments; the Command and Promise of God went before, and he followed close after. And this wonderful piece of Obedience is attributed to his Faith, Heb. 11.8. By Faith Abraham when he was called to go out unto a place which he should afterward receive, obeyed.

Another like, or rather more wonderful piece of Self denying O­bedience which was acted by the power of his Faith, was his car­riage about the offering up of his Son Isaac in sacrifice unto God at his command. Heb. 11.17, 18. By Faith Abraham when he was tryed, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the Promises, of­fered up his only begotten Son; of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy Seed be called. Behold Abrahams will, desire and delight, swallowed up in the Will and good pleasure of God by means of his Faith! His Son that had been so much desired and longed for before he had him, that all he enjoyed in this world seemed little to him in the absence of such a Mercy: Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless? (Gen. 15.2.) That Son whom he so much lo­ved when he had him, yea, and his only Son too; and that Son in whom the Promise was made of the great things which God would do for Abraham; this Son does God command him to offer for a burnt Offering; this Son of his hopes; this Son of his delights: an action than which, what lightly could be imagined more harsh and highly repugnant to his own will? And yet notwithstanding all Debates and Reasonings of flesh and blood about this matter, which one would think should be many and high, and such which one should have much ado to get over; yet so mighty was his Faith in God, and confidence of a good issue of whatever he should do at the appointment and command of God, as that he appears as for­ward in it as if it had been the most acceptable service which God could have put him upon: For the Text saith, That Abraham rose up early in the morning to go about it, Gen. 22.3.

And upon account of this very thing was he esteemed the friend of God, (Jam. 2.23.) one that would forsake all, and part with the dearest friend he had in all the world, rather than not stick close to him in whatever he would have him do; a true sign indeed of friendship to the Lord, Joh. 15.14. Ye are my friends, if ye do what­soever I command you. Mark; whatsoever I command: not only commands which it may be may bear little upon the flesh, easie and cheap duties, but such as will try a mans affection to the uttermost, as this to Abraham did; such as call for the cutting off the right hand, and plucking out the right eye; the parting with things that are as grateful to the flesh, as these Members of the body are to Na­ture. And not only so, but such things also as are as useful and de­sireable as the right hand and right eye are, as Isaac was to Abra­ham; when the holding and enjoying of them will not consist with our intire love to the Lord, to be exprest in the most difficult and most self-denying piece of Service when he calls for it. He that loves Father or Mother, Son or Daughter, yea, or his own life more than Christ, is not worthy of him, (Matth. 10.37, 38.) as he does which chuses rather to displease Christ, and dishonour his Truth in keeping these, than to displease himself or them in parting with them.

This task which was put upon Abraham was indeed very hard, and directly of the nature of that in the Gospel mentioned before, and yet as hard and as difficult as it was, if Abraham had stuck at it, he could not have approved his Faith to God, no more than such as love Son or Daughter more than Christ, and thereby prove themselves unworthy of him, can approve their Faith in him to be right, or their Love to him to be true. And therefore if you mark it, Abraham was said to be justified by Works when he had offered Isaac upon the Altar, Jam. 2.21. Implying, that as this high act of his Obedience proceeding from his Faith, rendred him highly ap­proved in the sight of God, Gen. 22.16. So by the rule of contra­ries, had he bogled at this command, his neglect herein would not only have deprived him of that high approbation of God which by his fiducial Obedience he had now obtained, but also have gone very far in contributing towards the loss of those degrees of Gods approbation whereto he had before attained, if not wholly bereaved him thereof until he had repented and done his duty.

Sect. 5 But here I must make a stand a little, and Answer an Objection, which is this; That though this act of Abrahams offering Isaac [Page 90] was an act of that Faith by which he was justified, yet it was not that act of Faith by which he was justified; it was an act of his Faith it's true, but not such a one as was essential to his justification: and the reason hereof seems to be this, because Abraham was justi­fied by, or upon his beleeving long before this: it's said, Gen. 15.6. And Abraham beleeved in the Lord; and he counted it to him for Righteousness. And this was before Ishmael was born unto Abra­ham, at whose birth Abraham was but 86 years old, Gen. 16.16. But when Isaac was born he was an hundred years old, Gen. 21.5. which clearly proves it to be fourteen years, or more, from that time in which Righteousness was imputed to him upon his beleeving, to the time of Isaac's birth. And yet this act of his Faith did not take place till some years after the birth of Isaac neither, for the Lad by that time Abraham was called upon to offer him, was so far grown in years, stature, and strength, as that Abraham made him carry the Wood for the burnt-Offering, Gen. 22.6. Now then if Abra­ham were justified by that act of his Faith which was found in him it may be twenty years before, How could it be that be should be justified by another act of his Faith, viz. This by which he offer­ed Isaac, so long after?

To which I Answer, First; That this act of his Faith by which he offered Isaac did concur to his Justification, is very plain and mani­fest by that of Jam. 2.21, 24. Was not Abraham our Father justified by Works when he had offered Isaac his Son upon the Altar? As if he should say, Is it not manifest he was? Do you not know this? And after he had amplified this Instance a little, concludes upon it thus, vers. 24. Ye see then how that by Works a man is justified, and not by Faith only. By which it is manifest, That this was not only an act of that Faith by which he was Justified, but that this act of his Faith was, that by which he was justified as well as that precedent act before mentioned, and was not irrelative to his justification, as the Objection supposeth.

Sect. 6 But then Secondly, as to the Reason of the Objection, which sup­poseth that this collateral act of Abrahams Faith could not do that for him which was done long before by a former and precedent act; To this I likewise Answer: That Justification taken in a large sence, for a mans constant standing acceptable condition before God, de­pends not only upon the first acts of a mans Faith when he begins to beleeve, but upon the continuation and reitteration of the same, and multiplication of the like, and sometimes higher acts all along a [Page 91] mans life unto the end of his dayes; which being a point of much consequence, I pray you mark how I make it good:

1. This clearly appears in Abrahams case; for neither was that beleeving of Abraham of which we read, Gen. 15.6. which was counted to him for Righteousness, the first act of his effectual Faith, and consequently not that which began his justification: For this act of his Faith was the closing with a Promise which God made him after he had dwelt some years in the Land of Canaan, probably near upon ten years, as you will have cause to conceive, if you compare the process of the history touching his leaving Charon and sojourning in the Land of Canaan, with Gen. 16.3. where a period of time is mentioned, at which he had dwelt ten years in the Land of Canaan, and which so far as appears, extended it self very little beyond that time when God appeared to Abraham after his slaugh­ter of the Kings and made that Promise to him, the beleeving of which is said to be counted to him for Righteousness. But Abra­ham had a great measure of Faith before ever he left his native Country, Ʋr of the Chaldees, first, and Charon after, to come at Gods call into Canaan; as we heard before from Heb. 11.8. where it's told us, That it was by his Faith that he obeyed God therein. And by Faith he after sojourned in the Land of Promise, Heb. 11.9. wherein by vertue of his Faith he devoutly worshiped and served that God which had called him thither, building Altars for his Wor­ship at several places where he pitched his Tent, and there called on the Name of the Lord, Gen. 12.7, 8. and 13.4, 18. And all this be­fore that particular act of his Faith mentioned Gen. 15.6. which is there said to have been counted to him for Righteousness. And can any man so much as imagine, That Abraham having such a Faith so long before, and making such proof of the life and power of it in his Love, Obedience, and Devotion to God as he did; and God back again declaring his high approbation of him, by a frequent appear­ing to him, and making, repeating, and enlarging his Promises of the great things he was resolved to do for him, that yet he all this while should not be justified and accepted with God upon his belee­ving? I say, Can any such thought possibly enter into any mans heart? If not, then it is manifest that that act of Abrahams Faith, Gen. 15.6. which was counted to him for Righteousness, was but an after-act, not the beginning-act of his Justification, and con­sequently that a mans Justification does not depend only upon one transient act of Faith when he begins to beleeve, but upon a con­tinuation, [Page 92] renewing, and multiplication of the same, or like acts. Abraham though he beleeved in God before, and was accepted with God before, yet his after-Faith is imputed to him for Righteousness as well as his former: and if he should not have beleeved God upon this renewing of his Promise, as well as at the first making of it; I see not how Righteousness could at this time have been imputed to him upon account of his former beleeving: No, it was imputed upon his present beleeving.

And seeing that we find that Abrahams justification is here in Gen. 15.6. attributed to an after act of his Faith, there's the same reason why his justification should again be ascribed unto that act of his Faith by which he offered up his Son, though it be supposed to fol­low twenty years after the other, as that did many years after the first. These things considered, it need not be looked upon as any paradox or wonder that James should attribute Abrahams Justifi­cation before God unto an act of his Faith which took not place till many years after he had been in the Faith of God. We heard be­fore from Rom. 4.12. that the Faith by which Abraham was justifi­ed was a walking Faith and had steps, and now we see that the latter steps of the same Faith were necessary to his justification as well as the former, he having and enjoying means, motives, and opportu­nities of exerting these latter acts as well as of the former.

And it's of special note to this point, That the Lord casts the performance of a Promise which he had made to Abraham many years before, upon that act of his Faith and Obedience which took place but now when he would have offered Isaac, Gen. 22.16, 17, 18. By my self have I sworn saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not with-held thy Son, thine only Son; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the Stars of Heaven, and as the Sand which is upon the Sea shore: and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies: and in thy seed shall all the Nations of the Earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. Mark how God grounds this Promise noted in these two expressions; because thou hast done this thing: and, because thou hast obeyed my voice. And yet this Promise for sub­stance had been made him more than once before he had done that thing, and before he had herein obeyed his voice, as is evident Gen. 12.2, 3, & 13.15, 16. & 15.5, 6. From which I gather, That collateral or after acts of Faith and Obedience, are as necessary to continue and make good a mans interest in the Promises for the fu­ture, [Page 93] as the first acts of his Faith and Obedience were to entitle him to them at the first.

The Lord at the first makes his Promise to Abraham conditional­ly, that in case he would get him out of his own Country, and from his Kindred, and from his Fathers house, unto a Land which he would shew him, that then he would make him a great Nation, and bless him, and make his name great, and make him a blessing, and bless them that should bless him, and curse them that should curse him, and that in him should all Families of the Earth be blessed, Gen. 12.1, 2, 3. Afterward when Abraham upon belief of this Pro­mise had actually obeyed God and was come into the Land to which he led him, then God renews the same Promise to him once and a­gain without expressing that Condition, because he had now so far fulfilled it: this we may see Gen. 13.15, 16. & 15.5, 6. As if he re­newed his Promise now by way of reward unto his former Faith and Obedience; just as in this case of his offering of Isaac, the Lord renews the same Promise with the addition of his Oath to bind it, by way of reward to this eminent act of his Faith and Obedience: And when Abraham renews his Faith as God did his Promise, Gen. 15.5, 6. this was counted to him for Righteousness as well as his first Faith was. And so again when God by another command of his to offer his Son, as hard as the first, tryes his Faith whether it would hold out to carry him through all difficulties to follow and obey him, and finds his Faith enabling him to depend upon him still and to obey his Will in this as in his former Commands; hereupon he counts this to him for Righteousness as well as his former Faith, and graciously grounds his approbation of him from that act of his Faith which last occurred, Jam. 2.21.

Sect. 7 2. This may be made further manifest in Noahs case as well as Abrahams. Noah we know was a righteous man, before God ad­monished him to make an Ark for the saving of him and his hou­shold. For the Scripture saith, That Noah was a just man and per­fect in his generations, and that Noah walked with God, Gen. 6.9. And because he was so, therefore God directed him to make the Ark for the securing of him and his Family, Gen. 7.1. And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the Ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. And yet for all this, though Noah were in a justified accepted estate before God, and highly approved of him before ever God commanded him to make the Ark; yet his becoming an Heir of that Righteousness [Page 94] which is by Faith, is attributed unto that act of his Faith by which he beleeved God when he declared to him his Resolution to drown the World, and by means whereof he was moved to obey God in making an Ark for the salvation of himself and Family, Heb. 11.7. By Faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, mo­ved with fear, prepared an Ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world, and became Heir of the Righteous­ness which is by Faith. A clear proof that justification depends upon after acts of Faith as well as the first, and is and may be as well ascribed to the one, as to the other.

And I pray you let it not be passed over un-observed, That though these works, that of Abrahams offering Isaac, and this of Noahs preparing an Ark, at the command of God, be attributed unto the Faith of each respectively, yet their justification before God hereupon is attributed unto these Works themselves as well as unto their Faith in the Scripture passages: And therefore the A­postle James speaking of Abraham, saith, Seest thou how Faith wrought with his Works? and by Works was Faith made perfect, Jam. 2.22. His Faith and Works they wrought or laboured to­gether as two Beasts in a yoke about the producing the same ef­fect, and that was the rendring him capable of the continuance of Gods Favour and Approbation; his Faith alone would not have done it if these Works being called for should have been knowingly neglected.

3. After acts of Faith are absolutely necessary to the continuance and carrying on of the work of Justification, as the first act was to begin it and set it a foot, and therefore the Author to the Hebrews speaking of the just man that lives by Faith, saith of him, That if he draw back, the soul of the Lord shall have no pleasure in him, Heb. 10.38. As his beleeving so long as he continues it, renders him acceptable and well pleasing to God upon Christs account, so his with-drawing those acts of Faith which interested him in Gods fa­vourable acceptation, provoke God to with-draw his delight in him and acceptation of him. And when Christ in the Parable of the Debtor and Creditor sets forth this, That a Servant who having had a great Debt forgiven him by his Lord, yet afterward had it exacted of him again upon his cruel and unworthy carriage towards his fel­low Servant, with this Application of it to his Disciples to whom it was spoke; So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every man his Brother their [Page 95] trespasses. Matth. 18.35. Doth he not plainly teach that if such as do beleeve as they did, and thereupon have their sins forgiven as they had, shall yet for all that afterward come to want those after acts of Faith that should produce a merciful and loving carriage to­wards others, (for the right Faith works by love) that then their Justification should become unjustification to them, the pardon which till then had continued, should then be recalled and with­drawn?

Sect. 8 By the way then note, That this Doctrine which makes a mans standing and continuing in a justified state to depend upon after acts of his Faith, as his enterance thereinto did upon the first, doth dis­cover that most dangerous Doctrine of the men called Antinomians, to be rotten and stark nought, which teacheth that when a man is once in Christ, or which is the same, when he does once beleeve, all his sins are pardoned both past, present, and to come, and that he alwayes stands accepted upon the account of his first beleeving. A Doctrine which most assuredly hath proved an occasion of manies taking to themselves a great deal more liberty than that which is Christian, and hath betrayed many hopeful Souls into a broader way than that narrow path that leads to life. A fine Doctrine it would have been if it had been true, To prove that Paul knew not what he said when he exhorted the Christians to work out, or to work through their own Salvation with fear and trembling, Phil. 2.12.

And I do the rather here admonish all in the fear of the Lord to take heed of this snar, for that I my self having above twenty years ago been taken in it, did sadly experience the evil tendency of it; and I verily think had not the Lord in much mercy pluck'd me out of it, it would have proved no less than utter ruine and destruction to my poor Soul: and how then should I upon this occasion refrain to warn all men of this deep ditch! No sure it is not one act of be­leeving that carries the business of a mans Justification quite through, if there be opportunity of after acts afforded: The Righteousness of God is revealed (in the Gospel) from Faith to Faith, Rom. 1.17. The Gospel reveals Righteousness or Justifica­tion upon condition of the latter Faith as well as the former; and therefore let no man think he hath done his whole dayes work, when as he hath but only begun it, for if he do, it's a thousand to one but he will grow idle and remiss before night.

And therfore as you desire & expect that your Faith should do you the same service as Abrahams did him, see to it that your Faith be [Page 96] found walking in his Faiths steps; by which, and not otherwise, you will prove your selves his Children, and Heirs to the same Inheri­tance. But alas! If the fore-mentioned steps of Abrahams Faith, as troden by his Children, do discriminate the Faith of the right kind, from that which is of another race, how many mens Faith who call Abraham Father, will hereby be discovered to be but Bastardly, and such as will never make good their title to the Inheritance which God hath promised to Abraham and his spiritual seed? Does the Call of God back'd with a Promise, by means of Abrahams Faith taking hold of the Promise with one hand, and of the Command with the other, draw him out of his own Country from his ancient Acquaintance, Kindred, and Fathers house, which otherwise were lawful enjoyments? What then shall we think of their Faith who though the Lord give forth Command upon Command, back'd with great and precious Promises, on purpose to draw men not out of their own Country, but out of their ill Company, out of their In­temperance and Excess, out of their Uncleanness, out of their Co­vetous, practices, out of their Pride and ridiculous fashions, out not only of prophane Swearing and filthy Talking, but out of light, vain, frothy, frivolous Discourse and Communication, out of their luke­warmness, heartlessness, and deadness in Religion; and yet for all that are not drawn out of these unprofitable, sinful, and vain wayes unto this day? Can any thing be plainer than this, That either they have no Faith at all, or that the Faith they have is of a bastard kind and such as shall never inherit? Both they and their Faith must be judged of by their Works: If they were Abrahams Children, they would do the Works of Abraham; but seeing they do the Works of the Devil, they thereby plainly prove themselves to be his Children and not Abrahams; as Christ who could not be mistaken, hath told them, Joh. 8.39.44. These as the unregenerate Jews that lived under the Word and Ordinances of God, and yet were not renew­ed to God by them, would needs claim from Abraham; but Christ you see hath found them out another Father. O that all such would therefore be perswaded now while it is called to day, to take fast hold of the Commands of Jesus Christ made very pleasant and acceptable by the huge Promises that are annexed to them, which would then certainly draw them out of their vain Conversation. Shall Abra­hams Faith enable him at Gods Command to offer to him his only and beloved Son Isaac? and shall not thine enable thee to part with thy only beloved Lust? Doest thou think thou hast more to say [Page 97] why thou shouldest not part with thy sin, than Abraham had why he should not part with his Son? If not; then either cease flat­tering thy self as if thou wert one of Abrahams Children and Heir to the same Promise, or else cease from thy vain and sinful wayes that thou mayest be so indeed.

CHAP. IX. Shewing that it hath been the common and universal Property of the Faith of Gods Elect, both in former and latter Ages of the World, as well to depend upon (and so to be ordered by) the counsels, commands, and directions of God touching the way to life, as upon his grace, power, and promise, for life it self: and that it is the highest point of Wisdom in men so to do. And that mens mistrust of the suparlative goodness of Gods wayes, counsels, and commands, and putting more confidence in their own, proceeds from their mistrust of his power, wisdom, or good-will to­wards them, in relation to their happiness.

Sect. 1 HAving shewed the nature of Abrahams Faith in the Properties and Effects of it, and after what manner it disposed him in his deportment towards God, and how the same is set forth as a pattern unto all men of that kind of Faith by which Justification is to be had; let us now also take a further view of the same grace of Faith, as it hath shewed it self acting its part in other of the Saints: alwayes carrying in our eye along with us, our own Faith, and comparing it with theirs, to see whether it affects and acts us, as theirs did them; as undoubtedly it will, if it be of the same nature and kind with theirs. For as all men in all Nations and Generations, are of one bloud (Acts 17.26.) so all Saints in all Nations and Generations [Page 98] are in the general of our Faith, Ephes. 4.5. And as the one hath the same motion and operation in reference to the life Natural in all men, so hath the other the same influence and operation in reference to the life Spiritual in all Saints.

Now then that which hath been in a manner as Natural to the Faith of all the Saints, as the motion of the bloud in the veins is to all living men, is this, viz. To be verily perswaded, that as hap­piness and salvation are assuredly to be had from God, so the certain way not to miss of it but to receive it upon his Promise, is, and hath been, still to eye his counsels, and to follow the guidance of his di­rections and commands in all things, as the direct way leading there­unto.

And the truth is, for the creature man to be thus acted and steer­ed in his dependance upon his God, is the most rational thing under heaven, and most connatural to that principle of understanding and light which God hath placed in men. For first, God by his pre­venting grace, in propounding gracious terms, and vouchsafing convenient and sufficient means of salvation unsought for on mans part, hath given a plentiful proof and clear demonstration of his love and good-will to men, and of his desire of their salvation. And then secondly, Having so done, what is more rational than for men to be fully confident that the Lord will put them upon nothing, ad­vise them nothing, command them nothing, but what doth certain­ly tend to, and perfectly consist with their chief good? Will any tender Mother put her dearly beloved Child upon any thing but what tends to his good? Or if she should, would it not argue ei­ther want of Wisdom, or of Love in her, or both? A want of neither of which are in God.

And then Thirdly, If men are, or have cause to be confident that God will advise or enjoyn them nothing, but what hath a true and real tendency to their salvation, which is his design towards them, and that which he seeks after, Is it not then most reasonable and the greatest wisdom in men to commit themselves to the guidance of God, and to acquiess in his wisdom and love? As being confident that that being truly followed, will lead and bring them to that sal­vation which God hath offered, and they desire and seek after.

It hath been in this Faith and confidence, That the Saints from time to time have sincerely followed God which way soever he hath led them, and not been turned out of his way by the greatest dan­gers or sufferings that could befal them from the hand of men; as [Page 99] judging his Will and Counsel made known to them as to be obser­ved, to be the direct path, leading to the promised and expected sal­vation of God.

Sect. 2 Among that cloud of Witnesses which the Author to the He­brews in his 11 chap. produces, as giving a lively testimony to this Truth; let us for brevity sake, hear only some of them. And we will begin with Enoch, vers. 5. By Faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had tran­slated him; for before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God. First we see his translation is ascribed unto his Faith: though we cannot say that he by his Faith did beleeve he should af­ter that manner be translated, yet doubtless by his Faith he did ex­pect to receive from God first or last, that happy state into which he was so timely and extraordinarily translated. Secondly we see like­wise how and after what manner this his dependance upon God for happiness did dispose him in point of behaviour towards God, it put him upon pleasing God; that is, of endeavouring alwayes to do such things as were well pleasing to the Lord; which in Gen. 5.24. is called his walking with God. And what was that? but his being constantly found in that way and walk which God appointed and approved, and in which he met with God, and God with him. His Faith dictated that to him, that the road to that expected happiness which was in his eye, was that walk which God had appointed him; and that the way to receive it from God, was carefully to please him in all things, as he did faithfully endeavour to do, for three hun­dred or more years together.

Noah's Faith wrought the same way, Heb. 11.7. By Faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an Ark to the saving of his house. As by his Faith he look­ed for safety and deliverance from God, so by his Faith he was taught to observe and do what God appointed and commanded him in or­der thereunto: His Faith eyed as well the means as the end, and made him as careful to be faithful in the one, as confidently to ex­pect the other; which is indeed the true nature and kindly working of the Faith of all Gods Elect.

Let us here again take another sight of the Faith of our Father Abraham, meeting with him in this road. It is certain that his Faith had a perfect regard both to end and means; he was confident of receiving the blessed Inheritance promised, but he was also con­fident that the way to come to it, was to follow Gods guidance and [Page 100] direction, and that God was as much to be beleeved in his shewing the way, and therein his counsels and commands to be embraced, as he was in promising the end. Heb. 11.14, 15, 16. There you have the end of the Faith of Abraham and Sara, the mark at which they aimed: For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a Country; And what Country? Not such as they left; For truly if they had been mindful of that Country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned: but now they desire a better Country, that is an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a City. God had given them hopes of a heavenly Country, they be­leeved him in his discovery and promise of this; and therefore when God calls them out of their own native Country to set forward for this, they presently obey, They went out not knowing whither they went, (Heb. 11.8.) but were resolved under the hope of the hea­venly Country to follow the conduct of God, and to deliver them­selves up to his counsels and commands, and to follow these whither­soever they would lead them, as being fully perswaded that these would at last bring them to that heavenly Country which they sought. Just as the wise men who following the guidance of the star, were by it brought to the house where the young Child Jesus was, whom they sought.

Sect. 3 See also the Faith of Moses running the same race, Heb. 11.24, 25, 26. By Faith Moses when he was come to years, refused to be called the Son of Pharaohs Daughter: chusing rather to suffer af­fliction with the People of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of Sin for a season: esteeming the reproach of Christ greater Riches than the Treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. First, That which his Faith had in its eye as the mark at which he aimed, was the recompence of the reward, the great prize for which all the Saints run: he beleeved there was such a thing to be had from God. Secondly, The same Faith by which he depen­ded upon God for this blessedness, enabled him to wait upon God in his own way to be led to it. And therefore rather then he would by sin displease him from whom he expected the recompence of re­ward, he at once turns his back upon the honours, pleasures, and treasures of Egypt. And seeing he could not joyn himself unto the People of God, and with them to Worship the Lord, but that in embracing them he must embrace reproach and affliction with them; therefore rather than he would lose the advantage of the one in re­lation [Page 101] to his expected happiness, he chuseth and espouseth the in­convenience of the other. He by his Faith, puts into the one bal­lance the Recompence of reward as the end, and his Communion with the People of God in his Worship and Service as the way and means, and together with these the Reproaches for Christ and the Affliction of the People of God: And into the other ballance the Honours, Pleasures, and Treasures of Egypt, but with them that Sin which the retaining of these would draw along with it, and which would cut him short of the Recompence of reward: and comparing his present enjoyments with his future loss, and his pre­sent sufferings with his future gain, he comes to this issue, to pre­fer afflictions and reproaches as attending the right way to the Re­compence of reward, before the treasures, pleasures, and honours of Egypt, when attended with that sin which would deprive him of it. Behold here a lively Instance of Faiths overcoming the World! His Faith carries him out of the midst of all the glory of the Court of Egypt, and from thence into the midst of the scorn, dirision, oppression, and persecution of the poor People of God; And why? But because this was the ready road to the Recompence of reward.

That which is noted Heb. 11.33. touching the power of Faith, as that by it some have stopped the mouths of Lions, respects Daniel the Prophet, who was taken up out of the Lions Den, and no man­ner of hurt was found upon him, because he beleeved in his God, Dan. 6.23. That which I would note concerning him as to my pre­sent purpose, is first this; That his Faith fixed him upon God, to depend upon him for whatever was good in his eyes. Secondly, That in order to his receiving his expectation from God, his Faith kept him tite and close to God in the way of his Worship and Ser­vice, so that he would not be turned out of this a hairs breadth for all the dread of the Lions Den; but though he knew the snar that was laid for him, that in case he prayed to his God as formerly, he must be offered up in Sacrifice to the devouring Lions, yet for all that the Text saith, That he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and Prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did afore-time, Dan. 6.10. As he depended upon God and not on Darius the King for his happiness, so he was resolved he would faithfully cleave to the Lord and please him, whoever was displeased, or whatever it cost him. If his way, his direct way to his future happiness, lie through the Lions Den, he does not seek to go about; if the path­way [Page 102] of Gods service leads thither, then thither his Faith carries him. His Faith we see brought him into the Lions Den, but it did not leave him there; as it brought him in, so it brought him out too: He was taken up out of the Den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he beleeved in his God.

The like we see of them whose Faith quenched the violence of fire, Heb. 11.33. As their Faith quenched the violence of fire when they were in it, so it was their Faith too that brought them into it: But how? viz. By engaging them fast to God, his Worship, and Way, keeping them in an hour of temptation from being shaken in their loyalty and fidelity to God, for all the formidable pompe of Nebuchadnezzar, and the horrour of his hot fiery Furnace, Dan. 3.13.—28. They trusted in God for Salvation, but would have no other, but what the holy Commandment of God faithfully stuck to, would bring them to. The Word of the Lord will try men as it did them, if they take hold of it by Faith and will not let it go: it will sometimes draw them into the fire, and into the water; but if they still hold fast by it, it will at last bring them out into a wealthy place, Psal. 66.10, 11, 12. But you see the Saints confidence of its being a certain and most infallible guide to conduct them to their desired and expected felicity, hath still caused them to trust themselves with it, and to follow it through thick and thin, foul way as well as fair.

Sect. 4 The Faith of David, the man after Gods own heart, and one of those Worthies mentioned Heb. 11.32. was notable this way also, Psal. 62.5. My Soul wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him. Where note first, That his expectation, to wit, of Sal­vation (as in the next verse; he only is my Salvation) it was from God, and from God only. Secondly, This his dependance upon God for Salvation as knowing it was to be had from him only and from none else, drew him to wait only upon God in order to his re­ceiving of it. And what's that? but his attending upon God al­wayes to do his Will, as a Servant that waits upon his Master, as ready alwayes to be at his beck. As the eyes of Servants look unto the hand of their Masters, and as the eyes of a Maiden unto the hand of her Mistriss; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, Psal. 123.2. Just as it is between great men that are able to prefer others, and those that expect to be preferred by them; is it not common for such to be cast into the very mould of the will and plea­sure of such from whom they expect advancement? Are they not glad of any opportunity of gratifying and pleasing them? Every [Page 103] man (saith Solomon) is a friend to him that giveth gifts, Prov. 19.6. And thereupon it is that we use to say they are their creatures. And most certain it is, that the Saints expectation of being preferred by God to endless dignity and glory, works alike deportment in them towards God, as we see here in David with the rest before-mentio­ned. If he expects only from God, he resolves to wait only upon God: Since God only can do for him that which he desires more than all things, his care is to be sure to please him whoever he dis­pleaseth. Whatever temptations he met with to the contrary, whatever his constant waiting upon God cost him, yet this expecta­tion of his from God held him close to God; as well it might. And therefore we have him oft expressing himself thus: They had al­most consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy Precepts, Psal. 119.87. My Soul is continually in my hand; yet do I not forget thy Law, vers. 109. Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies, vers. 157. Princes have persecuted me without a cause; but my heart standeth in awe of thy word, vers. 161. Why did David stick so close to Gods Word, whenas we see his so doing procured him so many enemies, and ex­posed him to such dangers from men? Surely because his expecta­tion was only from God, and therefore he judged it most reasonable to forsake all to wait on him: his heart stood more in awe of his Word, than of the frowns and malicious practises of the greatest of men.

Psal. 119.57. Thou art my portion, O Lord, I have said that I would keep thy words. When he said Thou art my portion O Lord, it was the voice and language of his Faith, for without that he could claim no such interest in God. But mark this; that the same Faith which enabled him to say unto God Thou art my portion, enabled him also to say unto him, I will keep thy words: when once he comes to depend upon God as his portion, and to expect the whole of his felicity from him, he presently comes to this resolution, That he will be ruled by his advice, and ordered in all things by his words. We have the same spiritual breath in Psal. 119.166. Lord, I have hoped for thy Salvation, and done thy Commandments. All men in a manner hope for Salvation, but few do the Commands; and that's the reason why so many shall be disappointed of their hope: but the hope and confidence of the right kind, still puts them in whom it is upon doing the Commandments; reason and ingenuity requi­ring, That such should fulfil the Lords Will, who expect to have [Page 104] their will and desire fulfilled by him in granting them Salvation. Be­sides the order and relation which God hath established between Sal­vation as the end, and the walk in his Commandments as the way, layes a regular necessity upon every mans Faith, to beleeve it to be every whit as necessary for a man to be as careful to keep the right way, as to be confident of coming to the desired end; and so was the Psalmist we see, whose hope of Salvation and doing the Com­mandments went hand in hand. Therefore wait thou on God and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee, saith he, Psal. 37.34. Here he is teaching other men the trade which he himself had learned, viz. Waiting on God for exaltation, but still in keeping his way.

Sect. 5 Now that which had been the beaten road of the Faith of the Saints recorded in the old Testament, as we have seen, the same does the Apostle John affirm to be the tract of the Saints hope and confi­dence under the New. 1 Joh. 3.3. And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure. Mark it; he saith every man, none excepted that hath hope of being like Christ in glory, endeavours for the present to be like him in purity; which is but the same thing with walking in the path of Gods Commands, the way that is called holy, or the depending wholly upon his coun­sel, will, and pleasure, Psal. 119.1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the Law of the Lord. 1 Pet. 1.22. Seeing ye have purified your Souls in obeying the truth, &c. And the same Word of grace that ministers any ground of hope to men of being like Christ in glory, does declare that they are the pure in heart that shall see God, and that no unclean thing shall enter into that glorious state, and that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, Mat. 5.8. Rev. 21.27. Heb. 12.14. And therefore all they that are not Re­probate, or of an injudicious mind concerning the Faith, have respect to both parts of Gods declared Will, and do beleeve it's as necessary for them to be holy, as possible for them to be happy, and accordingly do depend upon the Lord for the one, in a faithful prosecution of the other.

And accordingly does the Apostle Peter from the Lord, advise and perswade the Christians to exercise their Faith or dependance upon God in the way of well-doing, as that which would secure them in­deed; 1 Pet. 4.19. Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their Souls to him in well-doing, as into the hands of a faithful Creator. To commit the keeping of the Soul to God, is certainly an act of Faith, respecting both the [Page 105] ability, grace, and fidelity of God, to secure, save, and make happy the soul so committed to him. 2 Tim. 1.2. For I know whom I have beleeved, (or trusted) and I am perswaded that he is able to keep that which is committed to him against that day. The be­leeving or trusting God, and the committing to him the keeping of the soul against that day, is the same thing: in which act the power of God, and his trustiness, is mainly eyed. But then that which I would have especially noted also, is, That the sphear in which this trust and confidence is to be acted, is well-doing: let them commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing; which is the pro­per element of Faith, out of which it is not able to live, having no Promise to feed and support it.

And Paul expresseth the natural and common working of his, and others of the Saints Faith, thus: For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that beleeve, 1 Tim. 4.10. Their trust and dependance upon God as Saviour, as offering Salva­tion to the Beleevers, caused them both to labour and suffer re­proach, i. e. diligently to labour in the Lords Work, and carefully to please him in all things, though their doing so exposed them to reproaches and persecutions: their painful labouring to approve themselves in faithfulness to God alwayes and in all things, did grow out of their confidence in God, and in his Salvation. The same which this Apostle Paul expresseth concerning himself singly in a­nother place, Acts 24.15, 16. And have hope towards God, &c. and herein do I exercise my self to have alwayes a Conscience void of offence towards God, and towards men. His hope toward God touching the Resurrection and the glory that shall follow, put him upon this continual labour and exercise, of having alwayes a Consci­ence void of offence toward God and men; that is of carrying the matter so, and that alwayes, in his behaviour and discharge of his duty to God and to men, as that he might not give his Conscience the least occasion of being offended. And he sayes it was his exer­cise so to do, that is, the labour and business of his life: the same to which he exhorteth his beloved Timothy, saying, And exercise thy self rather unto godliness, 1 Tim. 4.7. A word as it is rendered by some, properly importing to strip himself: A Metaphor taken from Harvest-labourers and other work-men, who to the end they may effect their business upon the best terms when they are very in­tent upon it, are wont to cast off their upper garments that they [Page 106] might have no incumbrance upon them. This you see was the way of the working of the hope and confidence which blessed Paul had in God.

And the same Paul sheweth that the twelve Tribes (as many of them as truly feared the Lord) expected the Promise of future hap­piness upon no other terms than upon their instant serving of God day and night, Acts 26.7. Ʋnto which Promise our twelve Tribes instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. As they beleev­ed the promise of future bliss, so they beleeved it was not to be had but upon a faithful serving of God; and therefore the same Faith which by one act took hold of the Promise, by another act took hold of the Precepts, and in order to their coming into their hope, they steered the course, and travelled the way that directly led thither; and that is an instant serving God day and night. To name no more Instances of this kind but only that Heb. 10.34, 35. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoyling of your Goods, knowing in your selves that you have in Heaven a better and an enduring substance: Cast not away therefore your confidence which hath great recompence of reward. Mark; Their confident perswasion of that better and enduring substance in heaven as pro­mised by God, and as expected and desired by them, caused them closly and intirely to adhere to the Doctrine and holy wayes of the Lord, though their doing so cost them the loss and spoyling of their Goods: they were confident the Doctrine of Christ stuck to, would bring them to the enjoyment of that better and enduring substance; and therefore they followed that, though it led them out of the midst of what they possest and enjoyed for the present.

And thus now we have seen the common nature and working of the Faith of Gods Elect from age to age, both under the former and latter dispensation of things appertaining to eternal life; by which a just ground is ministred of suspecting their Faith to be none of the Faith of Gods Elect, that does not carry them the same way in which the Elect have been all travelling towards that heavenly Country which is the hope of all the Saints.

This Doctrine touching the Saints dependance upon Gods Coun­sels and Commands for a guide, as the proper effect and inseparable companion of their dependance upon his grace and power for the upshot of their desires, might be further exemplified by its contrary; viz. That mens turning aside from Gods Counsels and Wayes, hath been wont to proceed from a secret jealousie and mistrust either of [Page 107] Gods power or love; and that a mistrust of Gods way in which he hath enjoyned men to walk, as if that were not the very best, but another of a mans own choice to be preferred before it; clearly ar­gues a mistrustful opinion of God, as if either there were not so much love in him to men, as is in men to themselves; or so much wisdom, care, and providence in God to direct them the best way to happiness, as is found in their own heads; or so much constancy or power as to carry thorow his design of Grace towards them in his own propounded method and way.

All the turnings aside, runings out, lustings, temptings of God, murmurings, complainings; and rebellions of the people of Israel in the Wilderness, are charged upon their unbelief, Deut. 1.32. Yet in this thing ye did not beleeve the Lord your God. Though God had gone before them; though he had born them as a man bears his Son; yet when they came but a little into straits, they had so ill an opinion of God, were so void of confidence of his care and love, as that they rather enclined to think that because he hated them and bore them ill-will, that therefore he had brought them out of Egypt to deliver them into worse hands: and that which followed hereupon, was, their refusing to venture themselves under Gods conduct: they refused to go up when God commanded them so to do, vers. 26, 27, 31. The spring of all is this: Yet in this thing ye did not beleeve the Lord your God. Again, Deut. 9.23. Likewise when the Lord sent you from Kadesh-Barnea, saying, Go up and possess the Land which I have given you; then you rebelled against the Commandment of the Lord your God, and ye beleeved him not, nor hearkned to his voice. Either they did not beleeve that God could, or else that he would carry them safe into the promised land: they distrusted his power, or love, or both, and therefore durst not trust themselves in his hands; which appeared in this, That they hearkned not unto his voice to do what he bid them do in order thereunto. See the like Psal. 78.17, 19, 22. In short; the whole of the mis-carriage of that people in the Wilderness, for which God destroyed them, though it consisted in a great variety of faults, is summed up in their unbelief, Jude 5. I will therefore put you in re­membrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord having saved the people out of the Land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that beleeved not. All their other sins it seems were in the bowels of this, and did indeed proceed from it as we heard before. See 2 King. 17.14. Heb. 3.17, 18. Numb. 14.11.

Which things are not written for their sakes only, but recorded for admonition to the Churches now under the new Testament, 1 Cor. 10.1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Moreover brethren, I would not have you ignorant, how that all our Fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the Sea; and were all Baptized unto Moses, in the cloud, and in the Sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, & that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were over-thrown in the Wilderness. Why would not the Apostle have the Church of Corinth ignorant of those things? Surely he well knew, That there is too much aptness in ve­ry many Professors of Christianity to bear so much upon the exter­nal Priviledges of the Gospel, as because of them to think them­selves in good condition, though otherwise indulging themselves in some un-saint-like behaviour or other in their lives. And therfore to the end none might think that because they have been Baptized, are Members of the Church, have some knowledge of Christ, have been partakers of the Supper of the Lord, that therefore they must needs be the favourites of the Lord and the people of his love; he gives them to understand that the Israelites who were Gods people by Profession, enjoyed that Priviledge than to which our Baptism an­swers now, did eat and drink of that which was then a Figure of Christ, as we now do in the Supper; that yet for all this God was not well pleased with many of them, but that because of their lusting after evil things, their communion with Idolaters, their defiling themselves with Fornication, their tempting of Christ, their mur­muring and other like provocations, they were so over-thrown in the Wilderness, as that of six hundred thousand, and three thousand and five hundred and fifty of the men of War that came out of E­gypt, there were but only two that entred the Land of Canaan, Numb. 1.46. & 32.11, 12. And that which is much to be heeded is this, That all these things happened unto them for ensamples (or Types; as in the margin) and are written for our admonition up­on whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall, 1 Cor. 10.11, 12. And let us therefore fear, lest a Promise being left us of entring into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it: for unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with Faith in them that heard it, Heb. 4.1, 2. Wakening items, and loud warnings to carnal Gospel­lers [Page 109] and formal Church-men: the Lord grant that such may be rouzed by them out of their drouse of death.

CHAP. X. Shewing, That the power of Gods grace, the strength and fulness that is in Christ, the presence, po­wer, and influence of the Spirit, being that by which the new and spiritual Life in a Christi­an is maintained, it is the Property of true Faith to depend upon the Lord for these. And herein is an excellent difference to be seen be­tween the Living and the dead Faith. The want of this, the cause of manies Apostacie. A great defect in this, the cause of manies dry­ness and barrenness in grace.

Sect. 1 AS in the former Chapter I have shewed you that it hath been alwayes the property of the saving Faith in all the Saints, to depend upon Gods direction for the way to happiness, as well as upon his grace and Promise, for happiness it self; So now I would also shew you, that it's another property of the same Faith in the Saints, to depend upon the Lord for ability and strength to follow those directions, and to walk in those wayes of God which they beleeve do lead to life. And there is good reason why they should depend upon him for this, as well as the other; because as the way of Life is not of mans contrivance, but Gods; nor yet of his find­ding out; being contrived, but of Gods revealing; So neither is the ability or power to walk in that way, of man himself, but is the gracious donation or gift of God. Whereupon it is, that the Scri­ptures deny the power of acting in this way to be of man himself, [Page 110] without the preventing or concurrent grace of God, or both, Joh. 15.5. 2 Cor. 3.5. 1 Cor. 15.10. & 12.3. Gal. 2.20. But on the other hand they ascribe both will and deed, purpose and per­formance unto Gods working them in men of his own good plea­sure, Phil. 2.13 2 Cor. 8.16. 1 Chron. 29.14. 2 Chron. 30.12. Ezra 1.1, 5. & 7.27. Nehem. 2.12. & 7.5. Hag. 1.14. Prov. 16.1. Heb. 13.21.

It would be beside the business I have in hand, here to enquire how far the Lord hath prevented all men with that which is called common grace, and in what capacity they are thereby put of re­ceiving special grace: but that which concerns what I have in hand, is to shew, That as no man hath power of himself to walk in that way which he is convinced to be the way of life, but that who soe­ver hath it, hath it of Gods special gift and working in him; so the way of Gods communicating this ability unto the Soul, is by Faith exercised on himself thereabout, and consequently that it is the pro­perty of their Faith who have this power, to be thus exercised. And this I would shew in some Particulars.

Sect. 2 1. Though it is indeed by the same almighty power that raised Christ from the dead, by which men are raised to their new and spi­ritual state, and are enabled to live, act, and walk, as those that are alive from the dead; yet when this power is drawn forth into act for the effecting hereof, it is by or through their Faith towards whom this power is thus acted, Col. 2.12. Buried with him in Baptisme; wherein also ye are risen with him through the Faith of the operation of God, who raised him from the dead. Observe here on the by; [...]hat mens burial with Christ in Baptisme, pre-supposeth their being dead with him, or made conformable to his death, by their being dead unto sin before; even as Christs burial pre-supposed his death, which went before. And therefore to bury such by Bap­tisme who are not dead unto sin, (and death unto sin, pre-sup­poseth a living in sin before) is in common cases as incongruous in reference to the right use of Baptisme, as it would be to bury men alive, in reference to the right use of civil burial. But this I note only by the way, as most worthy their consideration, whom it most concerns to take light from it touching the right subject and form of the New Testament Baptisme. But that other thing signi­fied by the baptized parties rising out of the water, is a living a new life unto God, in conformity to Christs new life after his resurrecti­on, to which the Christian solemnly engages by his Baptisme. But [Page 111] the power and ability (mark this) thus to live, is through the Faith of the operation of God who raised Christ from the dead: not through the operation of God simply, but through the Faith of it. Though a man, were he not releeved by this Faith, might think it an impossible thing for him having been so long accustomed to vain company and vain courses, and an enemy to the strict lives and holy wayes of the Saints, that now he should be able to throw off all those vanities which he esteemed the joy and pleasure of his life, and to subject himself unto the self-same course which was to him a scorn & dirision before; yet when he remembers that that wch is impossible to men, is possible with God, and that the same power which raised up Christ from the dead and put him into possession of immortality, now no more to return to corruption, can with like ease raise him up from that sinful condition into which he was sunk, and strengthen him with strength in his soul to live that Gospel-life, that life of God to which he is called by the Gospel, and now no more to return to his former corrupt state; and shall thereupon depend upon that grace and power of his for this very thing, and under an expectation of divine assistance, and armed with resolution, shall humbly under­take this new life; he shall certainly meet with power and strength from God to effect and carry through this great and notable change. Christ Jesus himself who in his death, burial, and Resurrection is the Christians patern, is prophetically brought in rejoycing under the hope and confidence he had in his Fathers power and love, as that he would not leave him in the grave, under the power of corruption and death. Acts 2.25, 26, 27. For David speaketh concerning him; I foresaw the Lord alwayes before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoyce, and my tongue was glad: Moreover also, my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my Soul in Hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy One to see corruption. And in this confidence he undertaking the work which his Father had given him to finish, all came to pass accordingly: as the new life and deliverence from the old state of corruption and death, is accordingly effected and ac­complished in all those that in dependance upon the divine power and grace, undertake it. It is the operation or working of God, that raises up the poor creature from his impotent state of spiritual death, unto spiritual life; and yet this great effect is attributed to the Faith of it; And why? But because it then works actually this way, when the creature once depends upon it for this end.

2 Pet. 1.3. According as his divine power hath given us all things pertaining to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and vertue. The Lord he calls, he invites to glory, but it is by the way of vertue: and therefore he exhorts them afterward vers. 5. To give all diligence to add to their Faith Vertue; to their Faith of Salvation by Christ as the end at which they aimed, the vertue of a godly life, as the direct way there­to. And the divine power (saith he) hath given us all things per­taining to both; both to glory and vertue, both to life and godli­ness; it hath made such provision, and put things into such a way, as that all things may be and are had of him by the Saints, that neces­sarily appertain to both: but mark how; through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and vertue. He does not communi­cate the spiritual strength and vigor by which the godly life is main­tained, but through the knowledge of himself, the exercise of that spiritual principle, which the Lord confers for that end. Which is not to be understood neither only of a naked and bare act of discern­ing how great and gracious the Lord is in making so liberal a provisi­on of all things pertaining to life and godliness, nor of a discerning of the nature of the things themselves, nor of Gods method and terms of conferring them; but also of a practical improvement of such light in such a dependance upon, and application to the Lord for them, as puts a man into a regular capacity of receiving them, and under the powerful influence of the Promise. And so knowledge is not taken here as a thing distinct from Faith, but as comprehending it, as the Scripture elsewhere also sometimes useth it, Joh. 17.3. Isa. 53.11. 1 Joh. 5.20.

Sect. 3 2. Christ Jesus is the principle of spiritual life unto the Christian; he from whose grace, power, and vertue the Christian graces both in habit and act receive being, motion, activity, and strength. He is the same to the Saints as the body of the Vine is to the branches, a means of Fruit-bearing by communication of his grace unto the Soul, as that of sap to the branches, John 15. The same to them as the head is to the several members of the body, from which nou­rishment and growth, is ministred and conveyed, Ephes. 4.16. But yet Faith is the great instrument of this spiritual communication and conveyance: as the influence of the Sun which draws the sap out of the root into the branches, or as the Pump between the Well and the Vessel, so is Faith in deriving that grace and strength by which the spiritual life is maintained, from Christ the Fountain of it. The [Page 113] poor Soul sees a great prize set before it, and that a race is to be run to obtain it; the hope of their calling high, but the duties and en­gagements of it great and many; and strength little to make them good: but with all learning that grace and truth are in all their ful­ness in Christ, and that of his fulness the Saints have all received, and Grace for Grace, (Joh. 1.16.) and that the invitation is general for every one that is a thirst to come; hereupon it runs to Christ for supply of strength, and depends upon him for it, and so according­ly speeds. And as the bucket of every mans Faith is larger or lesser by which these waters are drawn out of the Wells of Salvation; (Isa. 12.) or these wells more or less frequently visited, so propor­tionably does every true Beleever receive more or less of that fulness which is in Christ.

See this property in the Apostle Pauls Faith, Gal. 2.20. I am cru­cified with Christ, nevertheless I live: yet not I but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the Faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Mark; he saies that he lived, and yet he sayes too, that it was not he that li­ved, but Christ that lived in him: meaning I suppose, That his con­versation which he had here in the flesh, was so ordered by the com­mands of Christ, and so influenced by the grace and power of Christ, that Christ was more visible in Pauls life, then Paul was himself. But then the question is, How he came to have such a presence of Christ, and his life so ordered and influenced by Christ? The ac­count of this you have in the next words (I conceive:) and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the Faith of the Son of God: not only as being thereunto led motive-wise, from the consi­deration of the worthiness of his person, and profitableness of his service: nor yet only direction-wise, according to the tenor of the Doctrine of the Gospel, which is the Doctrine of Faith; but also by his Faith as deriving that power and strength from Christ by de­pending upon him for it, by which he was enabled so to live and to make Christ so visible in his life, as that he could say, Not I, but Christ lives in me: I can do all things through Christ which streng­theneth me, said he in another place, Phil. 4.13.

And what shall we understand by Christs dwelling in the heart by Faith? The thing for which this Apostle so earnestly prayed in the behalf of the Ephesians, Ephes. 3.17. Christ in the heart where he dwells, he dwels not only to command and rule by his authority, but also to support, quicken, and strengthen by his grace, and [Page 114] comfort with his love; to furnish that soul with what it wants; for where he dwells in this kind, he dwells to bless. But this presence of his reviving, quickening, strengthening grace in the soul, is brought thither, abides there by Faith. Faith goes to Christ in the heavens as having all power in his hands, and tells him (as it were) that though he have laid the foundation of eternal salvation for the poor soul in his own bloud, yet considering what enemies are to be conquered, and what services to be performed, the work is never like to be carried through, unless he furnish with supplies of Grace and strength for that purpose. And then having this encourage­ment to strengthen it self in this address, that this supply of Grace which is desired, does not amount to more than what he hath al­ready freely done for the soul, in laying down his own life for its ransom, before such a favour was sought at his hands; and that those treasures of spiritual life, strength and power which are in his hand, are placed there on purpose to supply every needy Soul that thus seeks them; and that they will never turn to such an account of glory to him, while kept there, as when delivered out to every soul that in a true sence of its own want of them and their worth, unfeignedly desires them: And considering withal, how agreeable it is to the goodness of Christs own blessed nature, and the general design of his Mediatorship, and his faithfulness to that trust which is committed to him by his Father, to carry forward the begun work of saving the Soul, and to be furnishing forth strength for the doing of what he gladly would have done, and which he knows cannot be done without it: I say Faith being supported with such like consi­derations as these in its application to Christ for supplies, is confident of obtaining, and never leaves him, till it brings down the vertue, strength and power of Christ into the Soul, to supply the wants thereof.

Sect. 4 3. There are many fair and gracious overtures in the Scriptures, of Gods gracious inclination and intention to deliver the soul from the dominion of sin; to subdue the iniquity of his people; to purge, purifie, and cleanse the soul from the polution of sin; to heal the spiritual distempers and diseases of the Soul; to restore health and soundness to it; to repair the breach that sin hath made there; to restore the image of God which is decayed in the Soul, and the like, Rom. 6.14. Mic. 7.19. 1 Thes. 5.23, 24. Ezek. 36.25, &c. Isa. 57.18. Hos. 14.4. 2 Pet. 1.4. And yet this grace of God is not wont to make any great or considerable progress in this work, till Faith [Page 115] in men draw this mortifying power and healing vertue from him. And therefore the purification of the Soul, and sanctification of the person, is sometimes ascribed unto their Faith, as well as unto the power of Gods grace, Acts 15.9. & 26.18. And that it is so, is not only because it is instrumental in the hand of Gods grace to effect it, but also because it is a powerful means of atracting and drawing the vertue, power, and grace of God to engage in this work, God so pleasing that it should so do.

It fares with the Soul in respect of spiritual Diseases, and the cure of them now Christ is in heaven; as it did with the bodies of some in respect of natural Diseases and the cure of them, when he was on earth. There was alwayes power and vertue enough in Christ to heal them, and yet the cure was not wrought until Faith was set on work to draw out vertue from Christ. The Woman that had an issue of bloud twelve years, though she had used many means, and spent all upon the Physitians, yet was never cured, no not by Christ himself neither, until she came to touch his garment, and by her Faith drew vertue from him, and then the cure was soon wrought. Christ casts her cure upon her Faith, saying, Daughter, thy Faith hath made thee whole, Mark 5.34. Certainly it was the power of Christ, and the vertue that went out of him, that made her whole, vers, 30. but in as much as this was not drawn out into act, till her Faith was active in it; therefore is the cure ascribed unto her Faith. And upon like account is it, that we meet with such passages as these; If thou beleevest, all things are possible, Mark 9.23. Ac­cording to your Faith, be it unto you, Matth. 9.29.

What is the reason may we think, why so few of those vast mul­titudes in the world that languish under their spiritual Diseases, are cured, but that for the generality of them they are like to die eter­nally of them? Certainly it is not because there is not vertue e­nough in Christ to heal them all; but the reason is, because there is so few that touch him by Faith to draw vertue out of him for their cure. Nay, they are afraid of being healed, like some Beggars who keep their Sores open and unhealed on purpose, because they make an advantage of them, as they do of theirs, such as it is, Matth. 13.15. They have closed their eyes, &c. lest they should be converted and I should heal them.

And what's the reason why many that are in part healed, yet are not more thorowly cured? But that there are too many signs and symptomes of their old Disease still hanging upon them, and many [Page 116] grudgings of their old fits, so that the Case remains in doubt with them, whether they shall live or die? Surely it is because though they have some kind of Faith, yet they do not exercise it about this thing, or but very little. It may be they may have more communion with the riches of Gods grace, the value and efficacy of Christs bloud in relation to pardon, and Gods unwillingness to destroy, and readiness to forgive poor sinners; but have not acquainted them­selves much with that heavenly art and method of Faith, by which the Saints depend upon the Lord for his communication of vertue and strength for the healing of their Souls of spiritual distempers, and restoring them to a spiritual health and soundness. There's no doubt but that the Lord Jesus is as much affected with the diseases that an­noy mens Souls, as ever he was with those that afflicted the body, and delights every whit as much in the cure of the spiritual, as ever he did in healing the corporal, in as much as his own glory and his creatures good, are more concerned in these, than in the other. But that which obstructed the cure of mens bodies (and Souls too) by Christ when he was on earth, obstructs the perfect cure of mens souls by him now he is in heaven, and that is the want of Faith in them that should be cured: Christ could do no mighty works in this kind in some places where he came (save on a very few that did beleeve) because of their Ʋnbelief, Matth. 13.58. compared with Mar. 6.5, 6. As it was in the dayes of Eliseus (as Christ observes) when there were many Lepers in Israel needed cleansing as well as Naaman the Syrian, and yet none were cleansed by the Prophet but Naaman, for that none but he had Faith to seek it and qualifie them for it: so was it with many in Israel in the days of Christ, who though they had as much need of healing as any that were healed, yet went without it, for that they had not that Faith in the Lord by which those that were healed drew vertue from him for their cure, Luke 4.23. with 27. & 6.19. And so it is now; the true reason why the Leprosie of the Soul is not cured in all as well as in some, is because they do not by Faith draw vertue from Christ in whom it is, for their cure. It is not because Christ is not as sensible of the condition of men now he is in heaven, as he was while he was on earth; For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, Heb. 4.15. Nor is it because he is not as able now both to compas­sionate and succour them as ever. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted, Heb. 2.18. But as I say the reason of mens languishing under their [Page 117] spiritual diseases, either without any cure at all, or that which is ve­ry imperfect, is either because they do not come to Christ at all for cure, or but very faintly, either not knowing where it is to be had, or not truly and thorowly desiring it of him, or not having confi­dence enough of obtaining it from him. Ye will not come to me (said he) that ye might have life, Joh. 5.40. and therefore they go without it. And so if men will not come to Christ for health and cure, no marvel if they remain unhealthful in their souls.

The Lord makes Promise, it's true, of taking away the old heart and of giving a new (which is but the removing of the disease of the soul, and giving it health and soundness) but yet so, as that he will be sought unto by men to do it for them, Ezek. 36.26. with 37. So that if they do not make their serious and hearty applications to him for it upon the terms he hath appointed, they may well go with­out it, for all his willingness to give it. It is most sure, that Christi­ans are more or less healthful in soul and spiritual condition, as they do more or less depend upon the Lord for his saving health, for the power and presence of his grace and Spirit to renew them unto God. If men had but Faith enough, they might have what they would in this kind from the Lord. When there was but once ground for Christ to say, O Woman, great is thy Faith; he presently sayes also, Be it unto thee even as thou wilt, Matth. 15 28. And therefore such as have but little Faith, had need to make the best use and improve­ment of that little, by depending upon the Lord for the perfecting of that which is lacking in their Faith, as well as any other grace. Men receive but little of this healing vertue from Christ, but little hatred of sin and strength to overcome the flesh, but little of the power of love and of an humble mind, but little of the quick and lively savour of spiritual things, because they expect but little; if they were larger and stronger in their expectations from God, they should have more from him; he does not love to disappoint his servants of this hope especially: Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it, (saith he) Psal. 81.10. And those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, shall be filled, Matth. 5.6. If Righteousness were but desired and sought at the hands of God, and he depended on for it, as meat and drink is wont to be desired and sought by those that are ready to famish for want of food (in which case no other thing but food will satisfie) there would not be such a spiritual leanness and emptiness found among Christians, as too commonly there is. No, it is mens indifferency about matters of this mighty moment, that causes them [Page 118] to fall so short, and to be so scanty in their receptions from God. The Lord does not care to pour out abundance of inward grace, and health, and strength upon the soul, until the soul knows the worth of them, feels the want of them, and desires them more than any thing in the world besides. And therefore men may ask them, and seek them, and yet go without any great measures of them while but cold and indifferent in their desires this way; but when their desires are strong, their confidence strong, & their requests fervent, and God can (as it were) have no rest for them, but they are still following of him night and day, and will have no nay; then does the Lord rejoyce over them to Answer them in the joy of their heart, and to cause them to inherit substance, and to fill their trea­sures. For he waits to be gracious, and is alwayes ready, and ne­ver unprovided of the greatest measures of grace and spiritual strength, and is more desirous to give, than the best of men are to receive, if they would but come up to his terms, which are esta­blished by him in wisdom and counsel: but surely, when he hath first given men Faith, he does not use to bestow upon them any great addition of spiritual ability, but upon the improvement and exercise of that Faith in a way of dependance upon himself for it: nor does he give much in this kind to those that are but of little Faith; but encreases their spiritual revenue, as they encrease in the measure and degree of their relyance upon him for it.

Sect. 5 4. The gift of the holy Spirit, by whose presence, power, and influence, the Saints Salvation must be wrought through, and they strengthened with all might in the inward man, (Ephes. 3.16.) and by whose Workmanship they are formed, fashioned, and fitted for that glory which is prepared for them: (2 Cor. 5.5.) This great gift is I say received also by Faith, and consequently it is the pro­perty of true Faith indeed, to be busied about the receiving of it. I shall not so much stand to make this out by shewing you how the Scripture speaks of mens receiving the Spirit after they beleeved, as consequential thereunto, Ephes. 1.13. In whom also after that ye Beleeved, ye were Sealed with the holy Spirit of Promise, Joh. 7.39. This he spake of the Spirit which they that Beleeve on him should re­ceive. Acts 19.2. Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye beleeved? Though this also is worthy consideration hereabout. For though it's true, That Faith it self in it's first act, is raised by the holy Spirit in the Soul (1 Cor. 12.9. Gal. 5.22. Acts 18.27. Ephes. 2.8.) so as to furnish it with this divine Principle and Power; for where [Page 119] else should man have it? And so in this respect the Spirits work upon the Soul, goes before the Spirits being received by that divine principle which is wrought by it; yet the giving and receiving of the Spirit to remain and abide as a constant nourisher, supporter, comforter, guide, leader, or teacher, follows beleeving. I know not how better to illustrate this thing, than by this similitude: A man by visits, addresses, and applications of Love to such or such a Woman, raises in her such Affections towards him, as by which afterward he is invited and drawn to become her Husband and con­stant co-habitant, and to take upon him the care and management of her houshold affairs, which he would not have done, had he not been thereunto encouraged by those Affections which were but the fruit of his own Applications. Even so the Spirit by his applicati­ons and visits, first raises in the Soul that Faith, by means whereof his company and presence is so valued and desired, as that thereby he is strongly invited to come and dwell in that Soul, and to under­take the management of the spiritual affairs thereof, and upon which he does accordingly.

But that by which I would more expresly and particularly make out, how the holy Spirit is by Faith invited to come and to make his usual and constant abode in that Soul that does beleeve, I shall pre­sent to you under these three Heads:

Sect. 6 1. The First is that which I but now hinted, viz. That act of Faith or Divine light by which a Christian sets a holy and very high esteem of the Spirits presence, as not knowing how to live the Chri­stian life, or to do the Gospel-work without it. For when the Soul enlightened and converted to God, is made to know that there is no inheriting without overcoming; (Rev. 21.7. & 2.7, 11, 17.26. & and that the reason why any do overcome, is, Because greater is he that is in them, than he that is in the world; (1 Joh. 4.4.) and is made to know likewise, That men cannot mortifie the deeds of the body but by the power and strength of the Spirit, and yet mortified they must be, or else they must die; (Rom. 8.13.) when they shall perceive, That they know not how to Pray as they ought, or to do other Christian duties as they should, but that it is the Spirit that helps the Saints infirmities; (Rom. 8.26.) I say, when a Christian upon the knowledge and sense of the absolute necessity of the Spirits presence and assistance, is made to value & desire him more than any thing, than all things in this World; then is the Spirit given, and then does the Spirit delight to joyn himself to such a Soul, and to [Page 120] make his constant abode there. But as for the men of the world on the other hand, because they are under no such sense, they know him not, nor the necessity and worth of his presence, nor are un­der any longings of Soul after him for those and the like spiritual ends before mentioned; therefore is it that they are in no present capacity of receiving him.

See both these things set forth in Joh. 14.16, 17. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever: even the Spirit of Truth, whom the World cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Why can­not the World receive the Spirit of Truth which Christ promiseth? Even because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: The antecedent being (as I conceive) here put for the consequent of not seeing and knowing him; and that is, Their not prizing nor desiring him. For the men of the World, who contrary to the Saints, walk by Sight and not by Faith; do not value and esteem such things whose worth and use are not discerned but by Faith, (1 Cor. 2.14.) and such is the gift and presence of the Spirit of God; but such things are matters of their esteem, as do accommodate the natural senses. And be­cause they do not thus desire him, out of a sensible knowledge of his worth and excellency, and their want of him, therefore is it that they cannot receive him, he being not otherwise given than upon such terms. But why then do the Saints receive him? So that he dwelleth with them, and shall be in them. The Reason is, Because they know him, and so highly prize him, and thorowly desire him. For the Particle FOR in this place, (but ye know him, FOR he dwelleth with you) hath not I conceive the force of a Cause, but of an Effect: not as if the Reason why they knew him, is because he dwelleth with them, but the Reason why he dwel­leth with them, is, because they know, or have known him. The same Particle being used in this sense, Luk. 7.47. And indeed the words are thus translated by Dr. Hammond; But ye know him, therefore he abideth with you, and shall be among you. And besides all this, the antithesis that lies between the reasons, why the World cannot and the Saints can and do receive him, evidently gives this to be the right sencing of these words. For if that be the reason why the World cannot receive him, viz. because it knoweth him not, as it is, then the reason why others do receive him, is that knowledge they have of him, for the want of which the World cannot receive him.

That (we see then) which is said of Wisdom, Prov. 8.17. is most true of this holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Wisdom: I love them that love me, and those that seek me early, shall find me. Those that so love him out of a deep sense of their extream want of him and his incomparable worth to them, as to seek him early, in the first place, and before all other things, with the first of their strength and desire, he loves them, and loves to be found of them, and loves to dwell with them, and to be every good thing to them.

Sect. 7 2. And the next act of Faith which I would speak of, as preva­lent for the procuring the Spirits residence in the Soul for the great and spiritual ends for which he is promised, is the act of Relyance or Dependance upon the Father, and the Son for it. Gal. 3.14. That we might receive the Promise of the Spirit through Faith. Through Faith: not only concerning other Promises, but also and especially touching such as concern the Father and the Sons giving the holy Spirit: who because he is given and received by vertue of Promises made and embraced, is therefore stiled, The holy Spirit of Promise, Ephes. 1.13. And Faith eying Gods knowledge and sense of the Creatures condition in making such a Promise, and in what need he was of the thing promised, and his love and friendship to him by engaging himself in such a Promise which he needed not to have done, had not his good-will been great to him, and that therefore his intendment of doing the thing must needs be very thorow and real; and eying also his faithfulness in keeping, and power of per­forming Promises, hereupon leans, and depends upon the Lord for this Promise of the Spirit, and so accordingly receives it from him.

Sect. 8 3. And that in the Third place which follows upon the two former, is the Faith of desiring him, and the hope and confidence of obtaining and receiving him, digested into incessant and fervent Prayer for him. For when the sense of the Spirits worth, and our want of him, renders him exceedingly desirable unto the Soul; and when the sense of the Fathers good-will and readiness to give him by his promise of giving him, and by what he hath done already in giving Christ when we needed him, shall prompt the soul with confi­dence of obtaining him; and the sense of all together shall dispose the Soul Prayer-wise, and influence the Prayer with much of desire and longing, with much of earnestness, importunity, and perseverence in begging, and with much of confidence in expecting, then undoubtedly will the holy Spirit be obtained as an [Page 122] inhabitant to the Soul; for so hath our Lord assured us, saying, If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your Chil­dren: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luk. 11.13.

Sect. 9 This Property in Faith of which I have now spoken; humbly to depend on God for spiritual supplies, for maintenance of spiritual life, and to be strengthened unto spiritual work, is I am perswaded that which puts a manifest difference between the living and the dead Faith. For the dead Faith being found in that nature which never under-went such a change yet, as will denominate it to be a new creature, is void of spiritual sense; perceives not the necessity of those spiritual supplies, which are the new creatures life and nou­rishment; nor feels the want of them, and therefore cannot long after them, nor depend on God for them: but such an one thinks himself in excellent good condition, because he beleeves Christ died for him, and that he hath been Baptized in his Name, and hath Communion in his Ordinances, and gives Christ good Words, and professes himself to be his Servant, and can Discourse (it may be) many Points in the Christian Religion, and possibly Dispute for them too; yea, which is more, possibly may be able to speak many things in the Theory and by Hear-say, touching the Work of the new Creature, and these spiritual supplies of which I now speak; and yet all the while void of any true sense of the power of them upon his own heart.

But on the other hand, the living Faith being the heaven-born principle of the new creature, which is it self born from above, does still dispose and encline it to look up to God the same fountain of grace for dayly supplies, from which it at first received it's new and spiritual being. As God hath placed in Nature a certain instinct among the Creatures, by which as soon as they are brought forth, they do with a kind of dependance, seek their nourishment from their Dams; so hath he likewise placed a spiritual instinct in the new Creature, which enclines and guides it to himself as soon as it is born from above, to seek its food from God.

Sect. 10 And the main Reason I conceive, why many Persons who have flourished like a green Bay-tree in the Christian Profession for a time, have yet afterwards shamefully miscarried and fallen away, (of which this age affords too many sad instances) hath been this▪ they have not been close in their dependance upon God for supplie of strength to encounter the motions of the flesh, and temptation [Page 123] from spiritual enemies; they have not had, or have lost the sense of their own weakness, and what Children they are in the hands of their spiritual enemies if God should but a little with-draw and leave them; but having received (it may be) many spiritual gifts, and many favours from God, they have grown confident, bold, and presuming upon the stock they have already received; and being a little spiritually intoxicated with drinking too deeply of their own cup, and fallen too much in love with themselves by viewing their beauty in their own Glass, have forgotten themselves, and their own weakness, and forgotten God their strength, and so have come down wonderfully, God taking no pleasure in them, but leaving them to fall and to be an admonition and warning to those that yet stand, to take heed lest they also fall.

Sect. 11 Whereas others again, that have been but poor, and low, and exceeding weak in parts and gifts, yet alwayes bearing about them the sense of their own meanness and weakness, and withal retaining a good perswasion of Gods supporting grace and good-will towards them, and in the sense of both depending upon him to be upheld, kept and maintained in grace, have hereupon retained their spiritual verdure, when others have withered; have been holpen with a little strength, and sate safely under the shadow of the Almighty, when many tall Cedars in the Mountains, have fallen in the stormy day. These poor Souls being jealous of themselves and of their own strength, dare not trust themselves with themselves, or at any di­stance from God, but follow him close, begging him to help, and to uphold them, and to keep them from falling, who in that case is willing to be intreated. Psal. 63.8. My soul followeth hard after thee, (And what of that?) thy right hand upholdeth me: If the Soul follow him for it in good earnest, it shall have it. They are kept by the power of God (saith the Apostle) through Faith unto Salvation, 1 Pet. 1.5. Mark it; They are kept by the power of God, and yet through Faith. Why is Faith joyned with the power of God? Alas! it's but a poor weak feeble thing of it self; but it's happiness is, it lives in the strength of another, it carries the Soul out of its own shelter, and leads it unto a Rock that is higher than it; it takes hold of Gods almighty strength, and interesseth it self and the poor creature in that: and the power of God is well content that Faith should be busie with it, and as confident of it, and of it's improvement for such a Souls good, as if it were in it's own possession, and under it's own disposal. Though it is the [Page 124] power of God by which the Soul is kept, yet it is the power of God leaned upon through Faith, which is the leaning and depending grace. The power of God could uphold all, but it is not it's plea­sure so to do, but only those that through Faith hold by it.

And as by how much the more men live out of themselves and depend upon the Lord, by so much the safer are they, and at the greater distance from falling; so likewise by how much the more entire and close mens dependance is upon God for spiritual supplies, for a spiritual frame of mind, for God to write his Law in the heart, and to maintain a good Savour in the Soul of God and all good things; for a spiritual liberty and enlargement of Soul in Gods wayes, for to be strengthened with all might by his Spirit in the in­ner man, and the like; by so much the more does the Lord give forth of these and like good things, unto such. The closer they lie, and the more they draw at those spiritual breasts, the more they receive; the more they thrive. Blessed is the man (said he) that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is: for he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out the roots by the River, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. Where we clearly see, That Faith, trust, de­pendance on God, puts a man under a like capacity for the flou­rishing estate of his Soul in respect of spiritual loveliness, beauty, and fruitfulness, as a Tree is of the utmost prosperity such a creature is capable of, by being planted by Waters, and Rivers, in those dry Countryes.

And as the more men thus depend on God for supplies the more they receive, and the more spiritual they grow; so on the other hand too, the more spiritual and the more strong in the Lord men grow, the more sensible do they grow of their own frailty and weak­ness, and the more emptied of all self-confidence, and their thoughts runing more upon the grace of God and strength of Christ, and presence of the Spirit, and the necessity of these; prizing these more, desiring these more, following God more for them, depending on him more to receive them at his hands. And so proportionably are they the more ready and the more enlarged, to attribute and ascribe all spiritual in-comes, all spiritual endowments, all operations of grace, all strength and ability of acting and doing in the Lords work, unto the Lord from whom all comes, and to say with him, 1 Chro. 29, 14. But who am I that I should be able to offer so willingly after [Page 125] this sort: for all things come of thee O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee.

Sect. 12 And however God hath (as I conceive) vouchsafed by the gift of Jesus Christ for all, such means and opportunities of grace, even unto those that shall perish, and so much power and ability of im­proving those means and opportunities for the end for which God gives them, as will discharge the Lord of their condemnation, and cast their loss of Salvation wholly upon themselves; yet I cannot but fear that many make that ability which God hath given unto the creature on this behalf, greater in their own thoughts, than it is in it self. And I am not without fears too, lest the large apprehensi­ons which some have touching the power of the creature, and what all men are able to do out of the stock of common grace wherewith God hath prevented them, and what others are able to do out of that stock of special grace with which God hath blessed them, should have betrayed them into too low and too narrow apprehensions touching the necessity of additional supplies from God for the issue­ing of common grace into special, and for the maintenance, activity, and growth of special grace it self. And there is too much cause to fear also, That the largness of manies apprehensions touching what God hath already given in this kind, hath contributed much towards the making of their dependance upon God low and little, and their applications to him weak and faint for further supplies, and conse­quently their receptions in this kind, to amount but to little.

Which if such a thing be (as is too much cause to fear) then I am perswaded that this is the true reason why many whose judgements run too much this way, are less spiritual, are flatter and duller Christians, less versed in the Work of God upon the heart, whose Religion lies more in matters of a Controversal and Disputable na­ture, or in matters of external Form and Order. And while men are busied and taken up with the skirts and borders of Religion, and in the mean while neglect their inward and close communion with God, and study of their own hearts, and their spiritual trade and intercourse with God, it's no marvel if they be found but huskish, dry, and barren in the power of holiness, and experimental part of a Christian. For surely the Spirit of God does not take pleasure in this or that opinion which men hold in Religion, but as it serves them in bringing them neerer to him, and causing them to prize him, his grace and presence more, and working in them a greater love of his likeness, and longing after the power of his grace to conform them to it.

Nor is the other extream Opinion touching mens being meer Passives in the hand of Grace, and that Grace alwayes works it's effects in men in an irresistable way, any better friend (I conceive) to the thriving way of depending upon God for more grace in a due use of what they have alreay received. For as the Opinion of mens having more power than they have, or that that power which they have, is more conducible to the principal end, Salvation, then in­deed it is, obstructs their applications to, and dependance upon God for what is indeed necessary on this behalf; so does an Opinion of having received no power at all, freez the Soul, and bind up the faculties of it from using and improving that power which it hath from God, in seeking of more, and consequently deprives them of receiving more, or at least of so much more, as otherwise they might have.

Sect. 13 All which I have noted for Caution, lest while men are striving who shall approve themselves the greatest friends to the grace of God in point of Opinion, they should in the mean while fall short of the powerful and saving effects of it in their own hearts. And since the end of all Doctrines and Ordinances in Religion, and con­sequently of every particular Branch, Point, and Opinion concer­ning them, is to bring men back again to God, and to restore them to his likeness and similitude, it concerns every man therefore in his holding and managing any matters of Controversie hereabout, to be so true to his own and others Souls, as thereby to drive on the principal end of all, and to steer himself in holding or letting go Opinions, as they appear consonant or repugnant to that end.

CHAP. XI. Shewing how Faith worketh by Love, both to God and Men.

Sect. 1 THere is one property more of Faith, which I have had oft occa­sion to mention, but shall now a little further enlarge on, and so conclude this part of my Discourse, touching the nature of Faith. And this quality in Faith, is, that property of it by which it works by Love, which is made the badge and character of that Faith that shall avail men. Gal. 5.6. For in Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but Faith which worketh by Love. As the Apostle shews that not circumcision but Faith a­vails men under the Gospel, so he shews too, what manner of Faith it is that does so; namely, such as works by love: not every Faith that is so called, but that Faith which is thus distinguished. So that it concerns every one as he desires to have something that will avail him in the sight of God and in the great concernments of his Soul, not only to prove himself to be in the Faith, but to prove his Faith to be that Faith which will avail him, by this operation of it here specified. When he sayes that Faith works by love, I take it for granted that he means love both to the Lord and unto men; for they go together as inseparable companions: Every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him, 1 Joh. 5.1. And he that loveth not his Brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 1 Joh. 4.20.

But then the Question will be, How Faith works by Love? And the Answer is, It does so: First, by working this grace, heavenly qualification, spiritual affection or principle in the soul; and so in the second place, disposing the man in whom it is, by means of this principle, unto a deportment and actions suitable to such an affecti­on. And this I would set out in Two things especially:

Sect. 2 1. First, Faith raises this principle of Love in the soul both to God and men, by having it self so much to do with the Love of the Lord, as indeed it hath. For the Love of God and Jesus Christ [Page 128] to poor man, is the very element in which Faith lives, the food and nourishment upon which it continually feeds, the lovely and most beautiful object which it delights continually to behold; lodges in the bosome of it, and finds no rest but in this bed of Love. Faith is wonderfully intent on it, exceeding busie with it, & marvellous curi­ous in its inspections into, & enquiries about it, 1 Joh. 4.16. We have known and beleeved the Love that God hath to us. And by means of Faiths free, frequent, familiar, and intimate converse and delight­ful communication which it hath with this Love of the Lord, it comes to contract a habitual similitude of it in the soul; by degrees to change the soul into the same image. Solomon saith, He that walketh with wise men, shall be wise, Prov. 13.20. Which thing doubtless proceeds from a great aptness that is in men, to be trans­formed into the disposition, temper, and quality of those persons with whom they much converse, and delight so to do, especially if superior to themselves, and judging what they see in them worthy imitation. And so Faith keeping such constant company with the Love of Christ to the poor soul, and being so much taken with it as it is, and having it self such an influence upon the soul as it hath, does by degrees fetch over the soul in conformity of disposition to it.

This is sweetly set out by the Apostle, 2 Cor. 3.18. But we all with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the spirit of the Lord. The glory of the Lord he here speaks of, is doubtless a­mongst other things, the grace or love of the Lord to men, which is indeed his glory; that by which he hath made us accepted in the beloved, being called the glory of his grace, Ephes. 1.6. and is that thing which in the Gospel ministration here spoken of, shines forth with greatest luster and brightness. But mark now: The souls in­tent and earnest beholding of this glory of the Lord by the eye of Faith, as it is visible to it in this glass of the Gospel, works this effect, The soul it self is hereby changed into the same image, trans­formed into this likeness of the Lord, step by step, degree by de­gree, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord, by whose influence Faith does this thing. For so Christ foretold, Joh. 16.14. He shall glorifie me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. Like as the flocks which Jacob kept, by their looking up­on the streaked rods in the time of their conception, came to con­ceive and bring forth Cattel that were ring-streaked, (Gen. 30.37, [Page 129] 38, 39.) even so the soul by Faith dwelling in the serious and plea­sant contemplation of the glory of this love of the Lord, conceives and brings forth affections and actions in the same likeness.

The very reason why any man comes to love God, is the belief, knowledg, and sence which he hath of Gods love to him first, 1 John 4.19. We love him, because he loved us first. Which is to be under­stood of Gods love beleeved and perceived; for till then it does not work this reciprocal affection in the Soul. And therefore the same Apostle concludes, that if any man does not love, he does not know God, as he is a God of love, 1 John 4.8. For if he did, and had the true sence of it in his Soul, he might sooner draw nigh a great fire and not be warmed, than feel the warming influences of this wonderful Love playing hot upon the Soul, and not in some measure be trans­formed into its likeness. The Apostle Paul well knowing this, made this Prayer for the Ephesian Saints, That Christ might dwell in their hearts by Faith, that they being rooted and grounded in love, might be able to comprehend with all Saints, what is the bredth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that they might be filled with all the fulnesse of God. In which Prayer you may observe; first, his end and scope, the thing he had in his eye, and that which his Soul exceedingly lon­ged after for them, and that was, that they might be filled with all the fulnesse of God. Which I conceive is not to be understood, at least not only to be understood in a passive sence of having the Soul filled with the knowledge and sence of all the fulnesse of Gods love to it; for this he had prayed for as the means of their being filled with all this fulness of God: but in an active sence, for their being so filled with their love back again to Christ, as by which to attain the highest pitch, and utmost perfection of Christianity (which is wrapt up in our love to Christ,) to which God in Christ designed to elevate and raise the Christian. And therefore when we love one another as the Lord hath loved us, according to his command, John 13.34. he is said to dwell in us, and his love to be perfected in us, 1 Cor. 4.12. viz. by way of imitation and resemblance of that divine vertue, property, or perfection in God, to wit, his love, which is so wonder­fully remarkable in him, as that he is called Love it self, 1 John 4.8, 16. Now for God to dwell in men, and for them to have his love perfected in them, what is this lesse than to be filled with all the fulness of God? But that which the Apostle prayed for in order to this their being filled with all the fulness of God, was that Christ [Page 130] dwelling in their hearts by faith, they might be able to comprehend with all Saints, what the bredth, length, depth, and height is, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. So that mens being filled with the fulnesse of that love to the Lord which his love to them calls for, and designes to procure, depends (we see) upon their comprehending by Faith the glory of his love set out in the dimensions of it: upon their knowing very much of that love of Christ, which in the utmost extent of it, passeth knowledg.

Sect. 3 2. Faith raises this Heavenly affection of love in the Soul, as a principle of worthy behaviour both to God and men, by an effectual closing with the Doctrine of the Lord concerning Love. For it is mens Faith in that word which calls for Love to the Lord, to Saints, and to all men, that causes the word to incorporate it self with the Soul, turning the doctrine of Love into a principle of Love in the Soul, making it an ingrafted word, (James 1.21.) as turning the stock into its own nature. It is by Faith that all that in the Word is discerned and felt, which renders it acceptable to, and gives it force and authority in the soul. And therefore the Word is said to work effectually in those that believe. 1 Thes. 2.13. And what's that but to produce its effect, reach its end, and to have its errand about which it's sent? working that love it self in the soul, which is the bu­siness about which the doctrine of Love is sent. And therefore Love is said to be the end of the Commandement, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of Faith unfeigned, 1 Tim. 1.5. Love to proceed from unfeigned Faith, as the end of the Commande­ment; that is I conceive, it's aim and scope, the prize for which it runs: and where there is Faith unfeigned first wrought and pro­cured by the Word, there the Word by means of this Faith, works effectually to the raising or producing of that love which is the end or design of the Commandement.

It's said of some (Heb. 4.2.) that the word did not profit them, not being mixed with Faith in them that heard it. The Word is then said not to profit men, when it looses it's end and design of good to­wards them; when it does not work in them, and procure from them that frame and disposition of Soul, and habit of behaviour, which does answer its nature and scope: as when the Doctrine of Love is preached to them, and yet no such thing is wrought in them. But the cause of this disappointment, is the not mixing the Word with Faith. If men do not verily beleeve it to be a Word from the Lord, or that it comes from him upon like or far better termes than [Page 131] hearty counsel from a Friend, as both able and faithful to advise and direct upon the best termes for good; or if they think themselves and their own good not much concerned in it, and the like; no mar­vel if it profit them not, if it procure not that complyance from them which should give it an abiding place in the Soul, to work there as seed does which is wont to bring forth Fruit according to its kind. But where the Word, the Doctrine of Love for example, is mixed with Faith, with respect to the authority, power, wisdom, design of good in the author, and the conducibleness of the word it self to the real and substantial happiness and felicity of the person himself in whom this Faith is, there it prospers in the thing for which it is sent.

Sect. 4 Having now thus shewed how Faith works by love, by contribu­ting to its being, and consequently to its motions and operations; and considering that Faiths working by love, is the characteristical mark, and distinguishing property of that Faith which shall avail men unto salvation; let us now put our selves upon the tryal of our Faith, and so upon our title to life by this evidence. And I will begin with that love which is wrought by Faith to the Lord.

Hath then the sight and sence which Faith hath given you of the wonderfulness of the Fathers love, and of the Sons love in doing, suffering, and designing such marvellous things for Persons so un­worthy of them, and so worthy of what is directly contrary to them as we are, as may well astonish the rational part of the whole Crea­tion; I say hath the sight and sence of this divine fire of Love, kindled upon your souls? and caused a heavenly burning of affection to the Lord. Hath the sence which Faith hath given you of his love to you, exceedingly endeared your souls by way of return in love to him. Hath your Faith opened such a passage for Christs love to come at the Soul, as that you can say with the Saints of old, The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one dyed for all, then were all dead: and that he dyed for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which dyed for them, and rose again, 1 Cor. 5, 14, 15. Hath it such a force and influence upon you in causing you to devote your selves, your lives to him, as his love to you had upon him, in causing him to give his life for you, and himself unto you?

Sect. 5 1. To what degree any Man or Woman loves another, to the same degree they are usually wont to be desirous and careful to please them. And therefore the Apostle supposeth this to be the natural [Page 132] effect of that conjugal relation and affection that is between Hus­band and Wife, viz. the ones caring to please her Husband, and the others caring to please his Wife, 1 Cor. 7.33, 34. And there's no doubt but it is so with all those that love the Lord indeed, the more they abound in that affection to him, the more desirous, the more thoughtful, and the more careful are they how to please the Lord in every thing they do, and in every thing he would have done. And therefore the Scripture measures mens love to the Lord by their care to do his commands, which are indeed the things that please him. 1 John 5.3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his Commandements. And again, John 14.15. If ye love me, keep my Commandements. And verse 21. He that hath my Com­mandements, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. And again, verse 23. If a man love me, he will keep my words. And yet again, verse 24. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings, 1 John 2.5. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. And therefore when men are not full of thought and care about what will please, and what will displease the Lord, and desirous and industrious to come at his mind hereabout, but are untender, and do things at a venture, either in his Worship, their own calling, or in their converse with men, not laying it close to the heart to give glory to God in all, it argues that things are not yet as they should be with them in their love to the Lord.

Sect. 6 2. Again, where the Soul by means of Faith hath had a taste of the exceeding sweetness and preciousness of the Lords love, (1 Pet. 2.3. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious,) and is there­by brought in love with his love, as highly prizing it, and the sence of it, there the soul will be wonderful fearful of acting or doing any thing that might make any breach between the Lord and it, that might offend or grieve him, or that should cause him to turn away in displeasure, or to hide his face, or to with-hold the influences of his quickening and comforting grace. And if at any time through want of care and watchfulness, such a soul hath been surprized and drawn to speak or act, yea though but in the in most parts of the soul, that which tends to grieve the Spirit, to provoke the Lord, and to work any estrangement; O what humbling is there! what taking of shame! what begging, crying, and earnest intreating that God would passe it by that it might not obstruct the course of their com­munion with the Lord! And if it hath wrought any distance, and the Lord hath hereupon withdrawn himself a little; O how the poor [Page 133] soul is cast down! how earnest in her pursuit after her Beloved that hath withdrawn himself, and is gone! and how restless till the breach be made up, and the Lord hath smiled again upon the soul by some gracious effects of his presence there! Such things as these are un­doubtedly found in greater or lesser proportion, where true and en­tire love to the Lord, hath been raised by Faith in the Soul, Ps. 51.7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Cant. 5.2.—8.

Sect. 7 3. Furthermore, to what degree Faith works by Love to the Lord, to the same degree it casts fear out of the Soul; I mean fear of suffering reproach, shame, disgrace, the loss of Friends, Estates, Liberties, and Lives for the Lord, for adhering to him, his Truth and Cause. So saith the Apostle, 1 John 4.18. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment: he that feareth is not made perfect in love. It's true where love to Christ is not predominant in the Soul, but though a man hath some love to him, yet hath more to himself, Relations, and worldly inte­rest, there when Christ and these come in competition, the fear of the loss of these will cast love to Christ out of the Soul, Mat. 24.12. Because iniquity (to wit of persecution) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold, viz. to Christ and to his Gospel. But where a man loves Christ more than all other things which he hath loved, or does love in this world, (as he that loves Christ sincerely and savingly does, Mat. 10.37.) there his love prevails against his fear, and casts it out of possession. Not that he that loves Christ truly and sincerely, is not troubled at all with fear of loosing that which is dear to him in the world, for Christs sake; for something in that kind is surely incident to the best of men; (1 Cor. 2.3.) but such a mans love to Christ gets the mastry of his fears, is stronger to hold him to Christ, though in danger of loosing all in this world but him, then are his fears of loosing all for his sake to cause him to desert him. If fear in this kind do arise in the Soul, & work trouble, & torment there, and fill the heart with divisions of thoughts, and some degrees of feeble­ness and fainting for a little time; yet by that time love to Christ hath but mustered up its forces, and called in and strengthened it self with considerations near at hand, and ready to offer themselves to such a ones service; fear is driven out of the Soul, and the tumult which fear had caused there is appeased, the storm laid, and all things reduced unto a peaceable calm; and then Love begins to triumph and to say, Who shall separate me from the love of Christ, Rom. 8.35. But if a man so fears as that his fears drive him from his duty, [Page 134] hurry him into acts of disloyalty to his Lord, and put him upon dis­gracing Christ and his truth; such a mans love to Christ whatever otherwise it may be, is not (according to Saint Johns phrase) made perfect: He that feareth, is not made perfect in love; his love is not of the perfect and right kind.

But where love to Christ is prevalent and predominant, there it is strong as death, (Cant. 8.6.) which we know is so strong, that all the opposition that men by their wit and wealth, policy and power, can make against it, will not turn it out of its way. Of which con­quering strength in Love, proof hath been made many and many a time by the faithful Martyrs of Jesus, whose love to him hath held it out against all manner of enticements and allurements on the one hand, and all the variety of the most horrid and dreadful torments on the other hand, which the wit and malice of men assisted by the policy and rage of Hell, could invent, whereby to take them off their entireness of affection to their Redeemer. Many waters can­not quench love, neither can the flouds drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contem­ned, Cant. 8.7.

Neither does this love to Christ when thus proved, only conquer and barely get the victory over the world, as it does when it holds its own against all its attempts; (1 John 5.4.) but it makes a Christian more then conqueror, when his love shall hereby get more strength and vigor than it had before, as it does when Christ giving a clearer vision, and more lively taste of his Love at such a time, than at any other (as usually he does) shall thereby indear himself further to the Soul, and render himself more precious, and the world lesse desi­rable than ever before. Nay, in all these things (saith he) we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, Rom. 8.37. Men by this manifestation and proof of their love to the Lord (I mean in suffering for him) shoot themselves further into his love, and conse­quently draw forth richer discoveries of it to themselves than former­ly; according to Prov. 8.17. I love them that love me. And John 14.21. He that hath my commandements, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me, and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest my self to him. Where we see the proof of a Christians love to the Lord, is answered with a gracious return of the Lords love back again to him: He that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him. And the Lord is so well pleased herewith, that he must needs let the poor [Page 135] Soul know how he is taken with his love, & how his Soul is as it were more knit to him: for he does not only say that he will love him, but that he will manifest himself to him, viz. in clearer discoveries of his Love than formerly; which we know too is wont greatly to increase the Christians love to the Lord. So that sincere love to the Lord, when it is thus put upon the tryal, does not only cast out fear, but does more too, it gathers and contracts an additional strength and increase.

Which consideration, that Love does not only cast out fear in the time of fear, but prefers a man both in the Lords love to him, and in his own love to the Lord, serves not only for a proof and try­al of the sincerity of our Faith, (which yet is one thing which it does, (for it's Faith that gets the victory in this kind, 1 John 5.4. only it works out this victory by love) but also is an excellent en­couragement for men, not to be afraid and shie of suffering for Christ, or any truth of his, in which he may be owned. Let it not seem a smal thing in any mans eye, that he hath hereby (when it comes) a special opportunity and advantage ministred unto him, of being enlarged in the Lords love to him, and in his love to the Lord, and in the evidence of both unto his own Soul; which is indeed a pri­viledg to them that know the worth of it, of no mean account. And as you would have the proof and evidence both of your Faith and Love, and of your Faith by your Love come fairly out, so take heed of all undue and carnal complyance with worldly-minded men, ei­ther in saying or doing any thing that may bear hard upon the ho­nour and interest of Christ, his People, Ordinances, or holy wayes, out of design to preserve your own reputation or worldly interest with them, and to defend your selves from their frowns and con­tempt, and from the scourge of their tongue: for a complyance in such things as these where it is found, argues falseness of heart to the Lord Jesus.

Sect. 8 4. One thing further (to name no more, though many more particulars of this kind might be touched) by which you may know your love to Christ to be such as will evidence your Faith which pro­duces it to be of the true sort, and right kind, is this: If your belief in Christ, and your love to Christ, hath wrought in you a love of, and a looking and longing for his next appearance; when he will so come to receive the Saints unto himself, as that they shall be ever with the Lord. For while men are better pleased with his absence, and to remain at this distance, it argues little love in them to him. For [Page 136] it is the nature of Love where it is true and entire, to incline and dispose a Man or Woman to desire the presence of those they love, and all neerness of converse and communion, and to have all means of distance to be removed. And if that spiritual and invisible pre­sence which the Lord vouchsafes of himself to his Servants in his Or­dinances, and in their way of worshipping and serving him, (which yet comparatively is but a being absent from him, 2 Cor. 5.6.) is to those that love him so exceeding precious and desirable, as that their sence of the want of this hath made their flesh and their heart to cry out for the living God, and to say, When shall I come and appear be­fore God? (Psalm 84.2. and 42.2.) then certainly that presence of his in which he will be seen face to face, in which his face shall be beheld in righteousness, and his servants satisfied with his likeness: that presence of his when neither weakness nor temptation shall ob­struct, interrupt, or disturb their full and perfect communion with the Lord; that presence of his which will perfectly deliver them from all fears of being cast out of his presence, or of suffering any suspensi­on in the effluxes of his love, is much more desired and longed for, by those that unfeignedly love the Lord.

This loving and expecting the blessed and glorious appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, is noted in Scripture, not only as a signe of mens love to him, and Faith in him, but as a general character of those that shall be then saved by him, Heb. 9.28. And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation. Tit. 2.13. 2 Pet. 3.12. Henceforth is there laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing, 2 Tim. 4.8.

By these and such things as these, you may try the truth or feign­edness of your love to the Lord, & consequently the soundness or un­soundness of your Faith in him, which when it is true, works more or less, according as it is stronger or weaker; in those, and like ways of expression of love to the Lord, which have now been laid before you: and therefore as you love your souls, be not partial, but strict and thorow in proving your Faith and spiritual condition by them.

Sect. 9 And as Faith works by love to the Lord, so it works by love to men likewise: for which cause it may well be that Faith in Christ, and love to men, are so frequently coupled together in the Scrip­tures, as co-workers, and fellow helpers in the service of mans salva­tion, see Ephes. 1.15. and 6.23. Col. 1.4. 1 Thes. 1.3. and [Page 137] 3.6. and 5.8. 2 Thes. 1.3. 1 Tim. 1.14. and 2.15. 2 Tim. 1.13. and 2.22. Tit. 3.15. Philem. 5. 1 John 3.23. And since they are such inseparable companions as they are represented to us to be in these and other Scriptures, we may well conclude where the one is, there the other is, and where the one is missing, there the o­ther is wanting. And therefore since our love to men is more visible, and a thing nearer at hand then our Faith, and a proof of a true Faith where it is of an Evangelical kind; therefore let us now try our Faith by our love to men, and our love to men by the standard of the Scriptures.

1. I shewed you towards the beginning of this Chapter, that Faith beholding as in a glasse the glory of the Lords love to men, changes the soul into the same image; men by it viewing the promises and proceedings of God toward man, are made partakers of the divine nature; (2 Pet. 1.4.) contract a similitude of Gods love upon the Soul.

See then if you can find any such working in your Souls, any such compassions and longings of soul after mens salvation, as does really and truly (though infinitely inferiorly) hold some resemblance of those ardent desires and longings which are in God after the salvati­on of poor miserable men, which are to be seen in these and other­like Scriptures, Deut. 5.29. Psalm 81.13. Isa. 48.18. Jer. 44.4. Ezek. 18.23, 32. 2 Chron. 36.15. Luke 19.41, 42. Mat. 23.37. 2 Pet. 3.9. Hos. 11.8, 9. Or, are your affecti­ons and compassions over the precious souls of men, so stirred with­in you, as that they put you upon action, as you have opportunity, to deliver them from going down into the pit? of rescuing them out of those wicked wayes, by admonitions, instructions, and affectio­nate perswasions, which unless they be fetcht off from by some means or other, will certainly ruine their poor souls? For after this manner Gods love and compassion wrought towards sinful men; it put him upon giving his only beloved Son Christ Jesus to dye for them, and by his death to make and procure gracious terms of Salvation, and by himself and servants whom he hath gifted for the purpose, to publish those termes of Salvation, and earnestly to perswade all men to imbrace them, he himself seconding these with many visits of his Spirit, and acts of grace and providence to render these means suc­cessful. And however, every Christian is not an Apostle, nor endu­ed with that power from on high for the work, as the Apostles were, and therefore it is not expected nor required of them that they [Page 138] should make it their constant work and business as they did, to go up and down to warn and perswade men that they might be saved; yet undoubtedly, to what degree this love to men which the love of God hath begotten in them in its own likeness does dwell in them, to the same degree does it put them upon applications of a soul-saving tendency to Family-relations, Church-relations, to Neighbours, Friends, and acquaintance, yea and strangers too, as ability, conve­niency of opportunity, and mens necessity do concur in the case. And the lesse men are affected with, or the more careless they are of the spiritual condition of others, the lesse is their love and Faith, and the darker their evidence of them. The Scriptures say, that love covereth a multitude of sins, Prov. 10.12. 1 Pet. 4.8. and so it does, as in other respects; so when such applications proceed from Soul-love, as by which a man is converted from the error of his way, and so his sins come to be covered, or not imputed by God, James 5.19, 20.

Sect. 10 2. And where mens souls are loved, and their salvation longed after, (which is the best kind of love, and the most God-like) there there will be a great deal of care and tenderness used, that nothing be done or spoken that may prove a snare, a stumbling-block, or an occasion of sin to others, and to hide such things from them as through their weakness might harden them against any good, or in any evil wayes. And therefore those that are enriched with this love, are wont to consider, not only what is in it self lawful for them to do, but how it will stand with the edification of others, and what use they are like to make of it. The Apostle saith, that Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth. 1 Cor. 8.1. Knowledge where it is alone by it self without love, makes men lofty and disdainful towards others. But love edifieth; that is, it disposeth the person in whom it is, to use his knowledge in such a way, as will tend to, or at least consist with the edification of others, and not their prejudice. It is a fine expression which we have to this purpose, 1 Cor. 13.4. where he saith, that Charity is not rash (so it is in the margine) is not puffed up. It is not rash: no it is a tender grace, it makes a man look about him before he does many things, and to consider where they may light, and whereto they may tend, and what use may be made of them, and is wonderful fearful of doing any body any harm in the affairs of their souls. Upon account whereof their own liberty and outward accomodation, many a time suffers suspension, as it fell out in the holy Apostle Pauls case, who would take no mo­ney [Page 139] of some Churches, but rather labour with his hands, when he perceived his taking of money (which was otherwise lawful for him) would not tend to the furtherance of the Gospel in mens souls, 1 Cor. 9.14, 15, 18. 1 Thes, 2.6, 9. 2 Thes. 3.8, 9. The like was about eating and not eating of meats, while the lawfulness and unlawfulness thereof was under disputation, and is concluded to be against the law of love for men to use their known liberty in such things, when the use of it shall endanger a Brothers edification, or probably betray him into any sin. I may not insist at large on these things, or descend further to particulars, but only give general hints. See 1 Cor. 8.9, —13. and 10.23.—33. Romans 14.13.—23.

Sect. 11 3. Furthermore, If Faiths contemplation upon the love of God to men, imprints the similitude of his love upon the soul, as I have formerly shewed it does; Then as it fils the soul with the love of pity and compassion to sinners in conformity to Gods love and compassi­on towards them (which I have shewed already,) so does it also di­spose the soul to a love of complacency, delight, and dear affection towards all the Saints in conformity to Gods love to them, who ta­keth pleasure in his people, Psal. 149.4. The Father he loves the Saints, because they love his Son, which is the delight of his soul, Joh. 16.27. For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have beleeved that I came out from God. And without doubt, every one whose Soul cleaveth to Christ out of the knowledg and sence he hath of the worth and loveliness of him, and of the great benefit that comes by him, cannot but take pleasure in all those that are true lovers of him, and faithful and cordial Friends to him. As it is the property of Saints to love the Saints, so it is upon Christs score they do it, because they love him, and Christ loves them. Mark 9.41. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink, in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not loose his reward. Plainly implying, that expressions of love from one Christian to another, where the love is right Christian indeed, pro­ceed toward them upon the account of that near relation they have to Christ; because they belong to Christ. When men are loved be­cause they do what they do for Christs name-sake, or out of Friend­ship to him, then are they loved with a right spirit of love indeed, 3 John 6, 7, 8.

It's common among men where one does truly and entirely love another, there to love and respect the Children and Friends of such [Page 140] for their sake. And so it is in these matters of spiritual affection and relation: He that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him, (1 John 5.1.) the child for the Fathers sake, and because of that resemblance of the Father which is found in the child. And if the love which is wrought by Faith, be delighted with the Saints, because of their friendship to Christ, then the more any man shews himself a friend to Christ, in keeping his commands, shewing forth his virtues, pleading his cause, and propagating his truth, the more is he prized and truly esteemed by such as have this love truly wrought in them. 2 Jo. 1.2. Whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth, for the truths sake which dwelleth in us, Mark It's the property of all that have known the truth, to love such as are the friends of Christs truth, for the truths sake whose part they take.

Sect. 12 4. And this love and dear affection to the Saints for Christs sake, where it is indeed, will shew it self in acts of real kindness and friend­ship to them, as occasions and opportunities do occur: which is called, A loving not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth; by which men may know themselves to be of the truth, and shall as­sure their hearts before God. 1 John 3.18, 19. If they want bro­therly admonition, reproof, instruction, exhortation, or comfort for the healthful and flourishing estate of the inner man, they are ready to minister to them in these, according to their ability. Which when faithfully done, Christ takes as a real demonstration of love, not only to them, but also unto himself, as that which contributes towards his design of saving men, and nourishing and cherishing his Church, and the supplying of his absence, and the doing of that for him, which he would do himself if he were present. John 21.15, 16. Lovest thou me? feed my lambs. Lovest thou me? feed my sheep. As if there were no way wherein he could better express his love to Christ, then by ministring soul-food to his sheep that follow him. The lips of the righteous feed many, &c. Prov. 10.21.

Sect. 13 5. The same love also puts them in whom it is, upon ministring supplies to the necessities of their Brethrens outward man if there be power in their hand. It's oft seen thus with men, That when such whom they love and honour, and from whom they have received ex­traordinary favours are above their Requitals, yet then in testimony of their true Respects to them, will shew kindness to, and bestow gifts upon their Servants that wait upon them, 1 Sam. 25.27, 41. 2 King. 5.17. And so it is with those that truly love and honour [Page 141] the Lord Jesus: He indeed is exalted above the contributions of their worldly substance, but yet is well contented that such of his poor servants as have need, should partake of it, and will take it eve­ry whit as kindly as if it had been given to himself: (Mat. 25.40.) hereupon they expresse their love to him, by their love to his Ser­vants for his sake, by refreshing their bowels when hungry and thir­sty, and cloathing them when bare and naked; dispersing that among them, which they would have been ready to have offered unto him if his condition now as sometime, had made him capable of it. Psal. 16.2, 3. My goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the Saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight. When he could not reach the Lord with his goodness, benefit, or bounty, then he applies himself to his Servants, Friends, and Favorites whom he could reach, and communicates to them.

Men may talk of their love to Christ, and how much they are be­holding to him, and how ready they would be to dye for him if called to it, but if in the mean while they see the true Friends and Servants of Jesus Christ in need of relief, and yet shut up the bowels of their compassion against them, it may well be demanded, How dwelleth the love of God in them? 1 John 3.17. There's neither resemblance of that love which is in God, who when the worlds necessity called for it, parted with his Son to supply their need; nor yet any true signe or token of love to God, when those whom he loves so well as he does his Friends, shall not be regarded, pityed, and supplied, in their need, when power and opportunity to do it are present. Indeed such a bowel-less, hard-hearted, close-fisted temper, is that which renders men very unlike to God, very unlike to Jesus Christ, who though he were rich, yet became poor for our sakes, that we through his poverty might be made rich, 2 Cor. 8.9. And it is a plain ar­gument, they never had much to do with the love of God, the love of Christ, as to come under any strong sence, or powerful influence of it, for if they had, it would have transformed them into its own like­nesse. Let them talk what they will of their trust in God, and Faith in Christ, yet this merciless temper layes them open to that judgment which shall be without mercy, (James 2.13.) and consequently their Faith will be far from interessing them in the pardoning mercies of God, or saving merits of Jesus Christ.

I cannot now stand to shew how much the heart of Christ is in this Christian work of bounty and beneficence, nor how much of the Christian Religion lies in it, which if I should undertake, the [Page 142] Scriptures would be found to speak much this way: only let this be remembred, that as love to one another is the badg of Christs Di­sciples, (John 13.35.) so their bounty and readiness to give ac­cording to their ability, is the proof of the sincerity of this their love. 2 Cor. 8.8, 24. Where the Apostle encouraging these Corinthians to be bountiful in ministring to the Saints, saith, he did it to prove the sincerity of their love, verse 8. Wherefore (saith he again) shew ye to them, and before the Churches, the proof of your love. Verse 24.

Sect. 14 Nor are the tents of the Saints the only sphear in which Faith acts in this way of love and bounty, but its influences flow out to all men, as it hath opportunity. As I said at the first, Faith eying God in his love to men, and in the way of its working, takes its pattern from thence, to cause those in whom it is, to be followers of God as dear Children, and to walk in love; (Ephes. 5.1, 2.) and therefore finding that God is not only loving, kind, and bountiful to the good and to the holy, but that his tender mercies are over all his works, and that he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil; and that he maketh his Sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Psalm 145.9. Luke 6.35. Mat. 5.45.) it inclines and draws the man in whom this Faith is, in imitation of his Heavenly Father, to love enemies, to blesse them that curse him, to do good to those that hate him; to feed them when hun­gry, to give them drink when thirsty, according to the mind of the Lord in this behalf, Mat. 5.44. Rom. 12.20. And because Faith thus works where it is in truth and power, as being nothing lesse then what is expresly commanded of the Lord, (all whose commands Faith makes men very careful to observe) therefore are the Christi­ans (that they might shew forth their Faith by their works) so fre­quently provoked and exhorted to do good, to be merciful, charita­ble, and compassionate to all, only with this item, that the choice and chief of their contributions of relief, must be reserved for such as are of the houshold of Faith, Gal. 6.10. As we have therefore oppor­tunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the houshold of Faith, 1 Thes. 3.12. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one towards another, and towards all men, even as we do towards you, 1 Thes. 5.15. See that none render evill for evill unto any man: but ever follow that which is good, both among your selves, and to all men. 2 Cor. 9.13. Whilst by the experi­ment of this ministration they glorifie God for your professed subjecti­on [Page 143] unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.

Sect. 15 7. And if you would have your distributions to the poor Saints and others in need, amount unto a clear proof and evidence of the truth of your love to them, and so of the soundness of your Faith, shewing it self by such works, (James 2.18.) then carefully see to it that your bounty and your ability hold some good proportion. For if a man be niggardly and sparing in his Alms-giving, and makes a little go a great way, is able to do much, and yet does very little, he will not be able to discern whether what he does, proceed from any inward principle of love and good affection, or from-some mo­tive from without, as viz. because others do so, or to get himself ea­sed of the trouble of being solicited, (the case of the unjust Judge in doing that which was just, Luke 18.5.) or at the best to allay the clamour of Conscience. The Apostle clearly supposes that men may give Alms upon such termes, that their very giving shall rather de­monstrate them to be covetous men, than charitable, else what does he mean when he sayes, that he took such and such course about the Collection in the Church of Corinth for other poor Saints, that it might proceed from them as matter of bounty, and not of covetous­nesse, 2 Cor. 9.5. And that he had herein an eye upon niggardli­nesse in giving, we are induced to beleeve by the very next words, verse 6. But this I say, that he which sows sparingly, shall reap sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap bountifully. And therefore when there is so great a disproportion between mens giving, and their ability to give, both in respect of number and quan­tity of their gifts, as is too common among men: their Alms-deeds will never amount unto a proof of the truth, reality or sincerity of their Christian love, but rather on the contrary, prove an argument of the want of that grace. For whence proceeds this straitnesse of hand if it be traced, but from narrownesse and straitnesse of heart? and that from want of love; for it is the very nature of love where it is, to open and dilate the heart, (as the Sun does the pores of the earth) which till it comes is contracted and shut up.

And this illiberal temper in men, as it argues want of love in them, so it argues want of Faith too, the mother of love. For whence pro­ceeds that undue sparing and saving, and lothnesse to part with any thing considerable, but from a secret distrust of wanting that them­selves which others call for from them? If men could but beleeve and be thorowly perswaded that it is the surest way, not only to provide [Page 144] themselves baggs that wax not old, a treasure in Heaven, but also to secure themselves and Children too from want and poverty here on earth, they would as freely part with their money in a way of charity for so much as were meet for them to give, as now they do in their Trades, in hopes of defending themselves from want. If such Scriptures were but turned into Faith which declare the man blessed that considereth the poor, and that the Lord shall deliver him in time of trouble, and preserve him alive, and make him blessed on earth, Psalm 41.1, 2. that say the liberal man deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things he shall stand, Isa. 32.8. The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered himself. Prov. 11.25. He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth to the Lord: and that which he hath given, will he pay him again. Prov. 19.17. He that giveth to the poor shall not lack, Prov. 28.27. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou gi­vest unto him, (viz. the poor) because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thy hand unto, Deut. 15.10. And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that ye alwayes having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work, 2 Cor. 9.8. I say, if these and many like Scriptures were but turned into Faith, they would be counted being lived to in a way of mercy, liberality, and bounty, a thousand times better security against want, than all mens pinching and sparing in their deeds of charity, is like to be, Prov. 11.24. There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that with-holdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. It's certainly mens un­belief that binds their hearts, and binds their hands from bounteous acts; they must have Gods to go before them, something to trust to which they see, and therefore they think the deminishing of their wealth by giving, will be a weakening of the prop upon which they lean. And therefore these lean, starved Sacrifices, and niggardly Alms-deeds, proceeding as they do from mens diffidence and distrust, can never possibly amount unto an evidence of the goodness of their Faith.

It concerns every one therefore as they prize the clear evidence and proof of the sincerity of their Faith and Love, to proportion their Alms-deeds in some good measure suitable to their estates, as that without which such evidence and proof is not to be had. Nor do I say that it is the only thing by which such assurance is to be had; for the Apostle supposeth that men may possibly cut large morsels [Page 145] out of their estates to supply the poor, and yet be void of true Chri­stian charity when he saith, Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and have not charity, it profiteth we nothing, 1 Cor. 13.3. But that proportionate distribution I speak of in conjunction with other effects of those graces, will reach it, though nothing that I know without this will, it being an express duty; Him to whom much is given, of him much is required, Luke 12.48. But rather give Alms as you are able, (so it is in the margin) and behold all things are clean unto you, Luke 11.41. Ʋpon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him, 1 Cor. 16.2. Then the Disciples, every man according to his ability, de­termined to send relief unto the Brethren which dwelt in Judea: which also they did, Acts 11.29.

Sect. 16 I cannot indeed by any rule certainly determine what proportion of his Estate, or the Income of it; a man as a Christian is bound ordi­narily to disburse in a way of charity: and that which makes this the more difficult, is the great variety of circumstances that do at­tend mens outward conditions here in the world, both in respect of their estates themselves, and the necessary occasions of issuing of them forth in a way of ordinary expence. As for example, one man it may be hath five hundred by the year revenue, and no Child; ano­ther but one hundred, and yet hath five or six Children: Now n such a case it seems no wise reasonable to think that the same propor­tion, suppose it to be an eighth, tenth, or twelfth part of a mans In­come, which would be it may be sufficient for the one, would be suffi­cient for the other also. And the reason of the difference is, because the one hath neither the like necessary occasion of expence for the present, but what is voluntary, and matter of his own election and choice; nor the like necessary occasion of increasing his Estate by way of future provision for Relations, as the other hath; but may with much more ease and reason, part with a fourth or fifth part of his Income in way of charity, than the other may with a tenth or twelfth. For as it is neither necessary nor good Christian-like, for men to advance in the costliness of their way of living to the utmost of their Income, when their Estates are large enough to support themselves and houshold-relations in a free, if but in a sober and mo­derate way of living; and yet withall to strengthen the hands, and to refresh the bowels, and ease the burdens of many poor; so neither is it necessary, nor as I think Christian, for them whose Estates are grown to their full stature, so as to be in a competent capacity of [Page 146] answering all a mans truly necessary and convenient occasions, ac­cording to the rules of Christian moderation and sobriety, for them still to be every year making their heap higher, Joyning house to house, and laying field to field, the thing of which the Lord com­plains, Isai. 5.8. Surely when Christ saith, Lay not up for your selves treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and Thieves break through and steal. (Mat. 6.19.) He would have men to set some bounds unto themselves in heaping treasure toge­ther for the last dayes, (James 5.3.) And therefore it may be ne­cessary for one whose Estate is of competent growth, to dispose in a way of charity so much of his yearly Income as is found to be the whole surplusage of necessary expences in a sober way of living, though it should amount to as much or more than the whole of his expences do; when the same thing cannot be thought to be the du­ty of another, whose occasions as a Christian may call for some aug­mentation of his Estate, if providence vouchsafe opportunity. As for those who when they have more then enough already, and so much as proves far more frequently a sad occasion of destruction to their Childrens souls, (as there is cause to fear) and many times of bodies too, than of any spiritual advantage to them, shall yet make it their business to their dying-day, to be heaping up more and more, while in the mean time many Families are in great distress through want, and they contributing little to their relief; I dread to think what account they will be able to make unto the Lord, who hath di­rected them to make themselves Friends in a spiritual sence of their unfaithful Mammon, and charged them to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; and hath declared them stark Fools that lay up treasures for themselves, and are not rich to­wards God. Luke 12.20, 21. and 16.9. 1 Tim. 6.17, 18.

But now since the different circumstances of mens cases, do render any one rule of proportion as unlike to suit every man in this case, as it's impossible for the same shooe to fit every mans foot, therefore we must leave this matter of proportion to every mans Conscience, which faithfully consulted with (it having it self first faithfully con­sulted with the Word of God, and the arguments and motives unto bounty which are there) will be a competent guide unto a man here­in. Only let it be remembred to take aime by, that before the Law, the principles of Love and Godly devotion, dictated to the Patri­arch Jacob, to give the Tenth of what God gave him, unto God, [Page 147] Gen. 28.22. And under the Law. 1. Every third years tenth was to be put apart for charitable uses, Deut. 14.28, 29. and 26.12, 13. 2. Part of the corners of the fields were purposely to be left unrea­ped, Levit. 19.9, 10. and 23.22. And 3. Besides this, a certain proportion for gleaning was to be left for the poor, both in the field and Vineyard, Levit. 19.9, 10. 4. The forgotten sheaves in the Field, Deut. 24.19. And 5. Besides all this, a special Law for Re­lieving with that which was sufficient for his need, any poor Brother that was fallen to decay, Deut. 15.7, 8, 9. All which put toge­ther, did arise to a considerable proportion of a mans yearly increase, which was also deeply charged with a Tenth for the Priests, and with Sacrifices and oblations otherwise. And the law of Love under the Gospel is not lessened, but rather much improved and heightened by the great example and obligation of Christs signal love, which is propounded as our pattern, John 13.34. 1 John 3.16. And there­fore Christs precepts for charity, run very high, saying, Sell that ye have, and give Alms, Luke 12.33. And again, Give to every man that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn thou not away, Luke 6.30. Mat. 5.42. Yea as the case may be, our very Lives which are more than Estates, must be laid down for the Brethren, 1 John 3.16. All which considered, though a just proportion cannot be set, as a Tenth of the whole proceed of the capital stock, or the like, which is the rule of proportion which some Christians of a middle rank in the world do set unto themselves; yet in ordinary, lesse than a liberal, free, and frequent distribution of Alms according in proportion to every mans ability, cannot be un­derstood to be the expresse will of our Lord, besides what is to be done extraordinarily, in extraordinary cases.

I cannot stand so much as to touch the variety of motives, and great encouragements that belong to this duty. But if such as pro­fess themselves to be Christians indeed, and would be thought to be none of the lowest rank of them neither, would but convert their su­perfluous expences upon back and belly, and other bravery and vain delights, (wherein too too many of the professors of this Age do a­bound, to the great scandal of Religion) into works of charity and mercy, it would turn to a thousand times better account, both in point of evidence of the goodnesse of their Faith and Charity, and in procuring reverence and respect to their profession in the Consci­ences of men, and as being that also which would abound to their ac­count (Phil. 4.17.) in that great day of account which is shortly [Page 148] to come, wherein what good soever any man hath done, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. But while their superfluity and vanity instead of their moderation, (Phil. 4.5.) is made known unto all men; and their worldly glory instead of the light of their good works, shines before men, (Mat. 5.16.) I am sure they make but bad provision for that spiritual assurance of the soundnesse of their title to the promise of Justification by Faith, and Eternal Life, the worth whereof when they come to dye will be di­scerned, and the vanity of the other discovered to the Conscience, and their present folly in sowing so liberally to the flesh, and so spa­ringly to the Spirit, will then be lamented and bewailed.

Sect. 17 8. Moreover as giving, so forgiving is such an act of love and mercy, and so necessary to the evidencing of a mans Faith to be right, as without which no man can prove his Faith to be such, as by which he shall be justified. For when Christ declares this to be the Law of Heaven, saying; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your Trespasses, (Mat. 6.15. and 18.35.) He does as good as tell all such in plain words, whose hearts serve them not to forgive Trespasses, that their Faith whatever otherwise it be, is not of the right kind, neither such as will avail them to Ju­stification: for where there is no forgivenesse from God (as there is not where there is not forgiving of men) there's no Justification, and where there is no Justification, there is no justifying Faith. How then will they be able to evince their Faith to be of the justifying kind who are apt to render evil for evil, and to bear grudges one against another upon account of injuries received, and to ease themselves by throwing the burden of others weaknesses wholly upon them, by spreading and aggravating them and that too before all due means on their part have been used to cure them. I might, but I will not enlarge this.

Sect. 18 9. There are other wayes and veins, wherein Faith works by Love, as viz. by doing to all men in point of Commerce and Deal­ing, as they themselves would be done unto in like case, (Mat. 7.12.) not using any deceit or fraud, not taking advantage of others weaknesse, not cruelly working upon others necessities; for men would not be so served themselves; but setting the law of Neighbour­ly and Brotherly love before them in all their civil transactions and affairs with others. But I shall not enlarge further upon this Do­ctrine of Love as it is an effect of Faith, having already dwelt lon­ger on it, than at first I intended. Only let it be remembred for a [Page 149] close of this matter, that mens love to God and men in these and other-like wayes of working, holds proportion with their Faith, so that where they are rich in Faith, they abound in Love, and where they are poor, and low, and narrow-spirited in acts of Love to God, and of kindnesse, mercy, and bounty to men, it's a sure signe their Faith is not well thriven, 2 Thes. 1.3. We are bound to thank God alwayes for you, Brethren, as it is meet, because that your Faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all towards each other aboundeth. Mark, if you hear of their Faith grow­ing exceedingly, to be sure you will hear also of their love abound­ing also.

And thus I have now dispatched also the handling, not only this property of Faith, but also this branch of the Doctrine of Justificati­on, which concerns the nature of that Faith which shall be counted unto men for Righteousnesse.

CHAP. XII. Shewing that Faith is counted for Righteousnesse, both as it entitles men to the justifying virtue of Christs Blood, and as it puts them under the protection and promise of the Gospel, as it is a fulfilling of it. And so discovers the opinion of Mens being justified before Beleeving, and of being justified by belee­ving only in the Court of Mans Conscience, to be unsound.

Sect. 1 I Have already been shewing, 1. The beleeving of what; and 2. What beleeving it is that shall be counted for Righteousnesse. Now I shall come in the 3. and last place, to shew how or in what sence this Faith is counted unto men for Righteousnesse. For coun­ted for Righteousnesse it is; so saith our Text. But to him that worketh not, but beleeveth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his Faith is counted for righteousnesse: Or which is the same, is reckoned [Page 150] to him for righteousnesse, Rom. 4.9. Or imputed to him for righ­teousnesse, Gal. 3.6. Rom. 4.22, 23, 24. For our Apostle useth this three-fold variety of expression, to set out the same thing. For the better understanding of this point, I will shew you,

1. Negatively how it is not counted for Righteousnesse; or which is the same, how it does not justifie. It does not justifie or is not reckoned for Righteousnesse, as Christ, his Death, and Blood is, viz. by way of attonement, Rom. 5.9, 11. for that's the incom­municable property of Christs blood, Heb. 1.3. which is reckoned to us for Righteousnesse too in a sence proper to it: for Christ is said to be made unto us righteousnesse, 1 Cor. 1.30. and so he is, when the attoneing virtue of his Blood, the power and efficacy of his Death and Resurrection is made over, conveyed, reckoned or impu­ted to us for our Justification. But this in a way infinitely superior to the Imputation of Faith for Righteousnesse; for Faith it self, and the activity of that and all other Graces in their Sphear, become ac­ceptable with God as built and bottomed upon that sure foundation Christ Jesus. And therefore I exceeding much desire, that the Lord Jesus may have all the glory of your confidence touching the merit of Remission of your sins; and that your confidence about Justifica­tion, have nothing to do with Faith, but as that thing which God hath ordained to entitle you to the other, and the gracious privi­ledges annexed to it; nor with works further than they are appoin­ted by God to render your Faith a substantial, and not deceitful title.

2. But come we then to shew in the affirmative, how Faith is counted for Righteousnesse: and this I shall according to my under­standing, lay out to you in two things.

Sect. 2 1. Faith is a means of our Justification, or is reckoned toward our righteous-making, as it is a means appointed by God to interesse us in the benefit of Christs death, and the attoneing vertue of his Blood for our pardon and acceptation. For though it's true, Christ gave himself a ransome for all, 1 Tim. 2.6. and tasted death for every man, Heb. 2.9. yet all are not thereupon delivered from their sins, and why? but because they have not that Faith which should give them a right and propriety in the justifying vertue of his Death. For Christ was not given to dye for men upon such terms, as that they should reap the benefit of his Blood in the pardon of their sins; how­ever, they should carry themselves towards him, well or ill. And [Page 151] therefore the Apostle plainly declares how men by miscarriage to­wards Christ, may cut themselves short of the benefit of his death, Gal. 5.2, 4. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumci­sed, Christ shall profit you nothing. And again, verse 4. Christ is be­come of none effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law. Which could not be, if Christ were not given, if Christ did not dye for men conditionally. See 2 Pet. 2.1. 1 Cor. 8.11. Heb. 10.29.

Sect. 3 Which condition or proviso, is plainly laid down John 3.16. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son: (but with this proviso, mark it) that whosoever beleeveth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. Though Christ be given for the World, yet mens not perishing by means of this gift, but enjoying eternal life, is suspended upon their beleeving in him. So that it's mens beleeving, that does enstate them in the justifying, saving vertue of Christs death. Another like place is that Rom. 3.25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through Faith in his blood. 1. God hath set him forth as a publick propitiation unto all; there's the ex­tent of the offer and tender of grace. But then 2. He is set forth as such through Faith in his blood; there's the limitation of the propi­tiating vertue of his blood, viz. to such as have Faith in it.

The Author to the Hebrews saith, chap. 13.10. We have an al­tar whereof they have no right to eat, that serve the Tabernacle; meaning Christ; of which they had no right to partake, that did Judaiz it, adhere to the Mosaical way, and is parallel with Gal. 5.2.4. But that which I note hence, is, that men in order to their par­taking of Christ, must have a right to him. Now what is that which gives men a right to Christ, his Death, Blood, Resurrection, and Intercession? is it not this Faith of which I have been speaking so much? surely it is. Hence the Apostle suspends the beleeving Hebrews being made partakers of Christ, upon their holding the be­ginning of their confidence stedfast unto the end, Heb. 3.14. It was that Faith and confidence which they had, by which they were made partakers of Christ, when they first beleeved; and they were to con­tinue their right by continuing their Faith; for thereto did his Ex­hortation tend. Another-like place is that Cel. 1.21, 22, 23. And you who were sometimes alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, in the body of his Flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable, and unrepro­veable in his sight: if ye continue in the Faith grounded and setled, [Page 146] [...] [Page 147] [...] [Page 148] [...] [Page 149] [...] [Page 150] [...] [Page 151] [...] [Page 152] and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel. If their final re­concileation by the death of Christ, so, as to be presented unreprove­able in his sight, depended upon their continuing in the Faith, then certainly that which first invested them with that priviledge in which for the present they stood, was their beleeving.

Sect. 4 And the reason why I conceive this right which Faith gives unto Christ, and the justifying vertue of his blood, is one cause or conside­ration for which its said to be counted for Righteousness, is this; be­cause Faith it self without this office and use, is neither righteous­nesse, nor means of righteousnesse unto any man; and consequent­ly, cannot be counted to him for Righteousnesse. But for as much as though Faith is not virtually or meritoriously any mans righte­ousnesse as Christs blood is, and yet by the grace and appointment of God becomes a means of possessing him with that which is; hence Faith it self may well be said to be counted to him for Righteousnesse, with like propriety of speech, as when in Scripture the means bears the denomination of the end, as John 4.22. 2 Pet. 3.15. For that now I conceive may be a reason of the phrase, counted, recko­ned, or imputed for righteousnesse, as it is applyed to Faith, viz. be­cause by it, as it hath to do with Christ, a man though he be not for­mally righteous with a personal and sin-lesse righteousnesse, yet be­comes possessed with the same priviledge of enjoying Gods favour and love, and the blessed effects of it, (in respect of Justification) which a personal and sin-less righteousnesse in the formality of it in case he had it, would invest him with. And therefore may well be said to be reckoned for, or put to account instead of Righteousnesse, because it does a man the self-same service as that would do.

Sect. 5 2. There is another notion or consideration in respect whereof Faith may be said to be counted for Righteousnesse to him that hath it; And that is, as it is a fulfilling of the termes of the Gospel, or New Covenant. For Faith in that latitude of which I have been speaking of it, as it is a lively, active, working Grace, and disposes the Soul in affection and subjection to the Lord, as well as to depend upon him for what it would have, is really the fulfilling of the condi­tion or termes of the Gospel, and consequently that which puts him that hath it under the great promises of Justification and eternal life, contained therein.

For the Gospel declares who and what manner of persons shall have their sins pardoned for Christs sake, shall be accepted and ap­proved of God, and are by him designed to eternal life, viz. Belee­vers: [Page 153] no man by name, but all under this qualification of effectual Faith: For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from Faith to Faith, Rom. 1.16, 17. And whoever does accordingly beleeve, does fulfill the Gospel, and so is righteous in the account thereof. As any man that lived under the first Covenant (I mean the Mosaical Covenant) had he but observed and kept the termes of it, (the man that doth those things shall live by them, Rom. 10.5.) he should have been righteous in the eye of that Law or Covenant, Deut. 6.25. even so, he that does but observe and keep the terms or condition of the Gospel or New Covenant, which is, Beleeve in the Lord Je­sus and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16.31. he also is righteous in the eye of that.

As it is in the common Law of Nations; those that are justified, are justified by that, and those that are condemned, are condemned by that, if there be righteousnesse of proceeding; John 7.51. If men be cast, they are cast by the Law, and if they are acquitted, they are acquitted by the Law: the Law cannot justifie the guilty, nor condemn the innocent, whatever men may do that have the handling of it. Just so is it with the Gospel, and those that are under the ad­ministration thereof: all such shall be cast as guilty, or acquitted as righteous by it. The word that I have spoken (said Christ) the same shal judg him. Jo. 12.48. The Doctrins of Christ, are his Statute-laws, which whosoever beleeves, and sincerely obeyes, shall be justified by their sentence. All the holy word is on such a mans side: against such (as the Apostle saith) there is no Law, Gal. 5.23. but he hath as Demetrius had, a good report, even of the truth it self, 3 John 12. Mica 2.7. As he hath been a true Friend to this, to beleeve, love, and obey it in truth and uprightnesse, (though not without weak­nesse) so will it be a true Friend to him, to stand by him, to vindicate and justifie him against the accusations of the enemy.

So that mark we then, Faith in the latitude of it, being that very thing which doth answer the very mind and scope of the Gospel, which is the Law of Faith, (Rom. 3.27.) it must needs be counted to them for Righteousnesse that have it; because by it they stand right in the eye and account of this law of life. And indeed it is this heavenly and divine Law in the promisory part of it, which furnish­es Faith with that power which it hath to justifie. As on the con­trary, the Law is said to be the strength of sin, 1 Cor. 15.56. It arms sin with that power which it hath to condemn the Creature; so is the Gospel the strength of Faith, that which invests it with a [Page 154] power to justifie. The efficacy, justifying power and vertue of Faith, depends not upon, nor rises out of the excellency or dignity of its own nature, but it depends upon and proceeds from the will, good pleasure, ordination or appointment of God digested and put into the Gospel, as a standing Law and unchangeable decree. As it was not the naturalness of proportion between the Israelites looking up to the Serpent of Brass, and that effect of healing that was procu­red thereby, (Numb. 21.9.) that brought the thing to pass; but the production of such an effect by such means, depended upon the operativeness of Gods will; so in the antitype of this, (Jo. 3.14.) mens being healed, justified, by looking up to, and beleeving in Jesus as lift up upon the Cross; this is not brought to pass neither meerly by the act of Faith it self as such, but by the efficacy of the divine will which hath ordained it to that end and use. And therefore is it I suppose, that the Scripture so frequently, casts this great effect of mens being justified, upon God, as his act, grant and gift, though by or through Faith as subservient to his will herein; calling it, The righteousness of God which is by Faith: and saying, That it is one God which shall justifie the Circumcision by Faith, and uncir­cumcision through Faith. Rom. 3.22, 30. Phil. 3.9. And if Christ himself is said to be unto us Righteousnesse, because made so of God, 1 Cor. 1.30. and salvation to be had through his Name, because given for that end, Acts 4.12. then much more certainly does the justifying office or work of Faith depend upon the divine will. John 6.40. This is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son and beleeveth on him, may have everlasting life. This might be further argued from Rom. 3.25. John 1.12. and 3.16. but I forbear.

Sect. 6 But in the mean while, a comfortable Doctrine surely it is to un­derstand that our justification by Faith, does not depend so much upon the nature of the grace it self, as upon the will of him that hath appointed it to that office, and upon the Gospel, as that Charter by which such a priviledge is conferred upon it: which is a thousand times richer and firmer foundation to bear such a building, as the hope of Righteousness by Faith is, than is the nature of the grace it self, which is subject to ebbings and flowings, and times of shaking, and fits of feebleness and weaknesse. If the justifying effect of Faith had depended meerly upon the nature and operation of the grace it self, then the infiniteness of disproportion that is between such a cause and such an effect, the inconsiderableness of the service, and [Page 155] vastness of reward, might have rendred the confident expectation of so great a benefit upon such terms, matter of greater difficulty. But now seeing that the weight and stresse of this great effect which is produced by or through Faith, as that without which God will not have it take place, does depend upon the powerful and operative will of God, which is infinitely full of Grace and Kindness to the poor Creature, and upon the everlasting and unalterable Covenant of his Grace and Love, the confidence of Justification by Faith now be­comes much more easie and pleasant, as feeling firmness, rockiness, substantiality of ground under the feet of it. He that holds an estate worth a thousand pounds by the year, by Lease or Charter, though he pay but a Pepper-corn by way of acknowledgment, hath as good a Title in Law to that Estate, as another that holds the like Estate from the same Landlord, though he pay a thousand pound Rent by the year for it; because the one Lease is the voluntary act of the Landlord as well as the other. Even so, though Faith amount but to little in comparison of that absolute perfection of holiness, love, and obedience that was found in Adam while he stood; yet conside­ring that the same Lord hath now graciously by an unchangeable act of his own will, setled and entailed Justification and eternal life upon mens unfeigned beleeving in his Son Jesus Christ, which once setled ever-living upon Adams absolute perfect holiness, love, and obedi­ence, it hereupon follows, that whosoever doth in truth unfeignedly beleeve, hath therefore as real, as sure, and as certain a title to eter­nal life, as Adam himself had, and would have kept, in case he had kept his first integrity.

But then that which is the amountment of all this, is, that seeing there is now a new Law given by God, a new Covenant established, and that the sum and substance of it is this; that God having sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners, he requires and enjoyns men to receive him, and beleeve in him, in that capacity in which he is sent: and upon their so doing, promises Justification and eternal life; as on the contrary, threatens eternal death to those that do not; hereupon it follows, that those that do thus beleeve in Christ, do fulfill the terms of the Gospel; and fulfilling the terms of it, must needs be righteous in the account of it. For what else is a mans righteousness, but his conformity to that Law under which he lives, or which is given him to live by? As transgression of it is sin, (1 John 3.4.) so conformity to it, is righteousness. And therefore since Faith bears such a proportion of conformity to the Gospel as [Page 156] it does, when it is sound and sincere; well may it be counted for Righteousness to them that have it.

Sect. 7 Yet because this Righteousness which is called the Righteousnesse of Faith, consists in great part at least, in the forgivenesse of sins; and since both that and all the gracious acceptation with God, which does accrue to men upon their beleeving, is vouchsafed them, not for their Faith sake; though not without it; but upon the account of another, to wit, Jesus Christ; (Ephes. 4.32. 1 John 2.12.) thence it may well be, that though Faith be really and truly a mans righteousness in the Gospels account, yet it is so only in the way of imputation, reckoning, or account of grace. Which is a thing I would not have slightly passed over, but diligently and carefully ob­served, as having much of the Spirit of the Gospel, and Doctrine of Grace in it. For Faith, though it be rich indeed, and hath glorious things in it, and signifies much in the reckoning or account of the Gospel, yet it is rich with the riches of another: Faith it is the bor­rowing Grace; as the Moon borrows its light from the Sun, so Faith borrows that by which it does such great things for the Soul, from another, from Christ. It is true, Faith is a worthy thing, as it gives glory to God in beleeving all that he sayes; as it carries the Soul, and unites it to him; as it purifies the heart, and works by Love, and the like; but alass, what would all this do towards the making of atone­ment for sin, without which the Creature is undone, and without which Faith cannot justifie. And therefore that which is impossible as to it self in this respect, it hath from another, from Christ, Who is the propitiation for our sins. So then, righteousness coming up­on, or accruing to men upon, or by means of their beleeving, and yet proceeding or issuing principally by way of result from that which is extrinsical to Faith, to wit the blood of Christ, and unspea­kable grace of God, there is good reason, why Faith, though it be a mans righteousness, or that upon or by means of which he enjoyes the priviledges of a just and righteous man, yet he should have and hold this great and blessed benefit, by way of imputation, or altoge­ther upon the account of Grace, as having that transferred to his ac­count in the result of it, which resides in another, and which indeed hath the greatest stroke in his Justification.

Sect. 8 Which Doctrine of Faiths being counted to men for Righteous­ness, according to the explanation given, if it be true, then the opi­nion and Doctrine of some who hold and teach, that men are justi­fied before beleeving, or when Christ suffered, or from eternity, must [Page 157] needs be false. For if there be no Justification but by the blood of Christ, and no application of this blood in the justifying vertue of it to persons of years of discretion, (for of such I speak) but by Faith, which is the thing ordained by God to interess them in the justifying vertue, and saving benefit of it; then there can be no actual justifi­cation of men till they do beleeve: but that there is no Justification by the blood of Christ, nor right to, or saving application of that Blood without beleeving, is that which from the Scriptures hath been asserted in the first head of explanation, and might be abundantly further made out from the Scriptures, if what hath been already said on this behalf, were not sufficient.

And so again; if that be true, that whosoever shall be justified must be justified (declaratively or sententially) by the Gospel, and acquitted by that; and that the Gospel acquits no man, but such as perform the termes, and fulfill the condition of it, upon which its promises of Justification do depend; and that the Gospel-termes or condition upon which it promises Justification and eternal life, is Beleeving; then certainly till men do indeed Beleeve, the Gospel does not, will not, cannot acquit and justifie any man, but cast and condemn him. But that no man shall be justified without the ac­quittance or discharge which the Gospel gives; and that it gives this acquittance or discharge to none but such as perform its condition, and fulfill its terms; and that the said terms or condition, is Belee­ving; are things that lye very fair and obvious in the Scriptures, and are in part to be seen in the second head of explanation of the Do­ctrine of Faiths being counted for Righteousness.

Sect. 9 By the light of the same Doctrine of Faiths being imputed for Righteousness, that opinion also which holds that the Justification by Faith which the Scripture speaks of, is not meant of mens being justified in the sight of God, but only in the Court of their own Conscience by way of evidence or assurance, is proved to be dark­ness and not light. For when Faith is said to be counted or imputed for Righteousness; the meaning is not, that when a man comes to Beleeve, he thereby comes to know himself to be what indeed he was before, viz. justified in the sight of God; but that then indeed he comes to be that which till then he was not, viz. a man acquitted and discharged from his sins, and accepted in the sight of God as one re­conciled by the Death of his Son, which till then who not actually applyed for his Justification as one under the protection of the Gospel, which till then thundred out wrath and judgement against [Page 158] him, as it does against all, while in the state of unbelief, (Mark 16.16. John 3.18, 36.) Which threatnings would be really inconsi­stent with their safe condition by Justification in the sight of God, if there were such a thing as Justification in his sight before Believing. For those threatnings are true, or else they are false; if true, as most certainly they are, then whosoever dyes before he believes, and so before he is justified by Faith, is damned, and if damned, then not ju­stified in the sight of God.

Sect. 10 And I the rather mention these things as well for caution, as con­futation, because the Doctrine of mens Justification before believing, as grounded on the Doctrine of particular and personal Election be­fore Faith, hath I fear in these late years, rendred the work of Faith with power in the heart and life of too many, a matter, not of that mighty importance which indeed it is, in the Scripture account. But hath been a temptation upon them to think, that Faith hath not been absolutely and essentially necessary to the being of a Christian, or a mans safe standing before God; but necessary only unto his comfortable and well being, in respect of evidence and assurance. And so hath rendred their care and diligence about their proving them­selves to be in the Faith, proportionably less, by how much an assu­rance of ones good condition, is less, than ones good condition it self.

CHAP. XIII. Containing an Exhortation by way of vse, for Men to behold themselves in this Glass of Iustification, and by the help of the precedent Discourse, to prove the goodness or badness of their title to life. And shew­ing the ill abode of negligence, and the real advan­tage, of care and diligence herein: and what must be done to obtain a good testimony from Conscience as Iudge Delegate under Christ, touching the goodness of mens spiritual condition in the eye of the Gospel, and in the sight of God.

Sect. 1 DEarly Beloved, as you have heard some parts of the Doctrine of Justification more briefly opened, so you have had the na­ture of that Faith by which you are to be Justified if ever justified, more largely handled, according to that measure of understanding in it which God hath given me. By which means you have opportunity given you of beholding as in a Glass your own spiritual state and condition before the Lord, whether justified or not, and whether your title to that incomparable priviledg, be tite and sound, or crackt and flawed. It remains now that according to the Apostles Exhortation, 2 Cor. 13.5. You prove your own selves whether you be in the Faith or no; whether you have that Faith in you, which hath been discovered to you to be that only kind of Faith which will be counted to them that have it for righteousness. As for such as shall be negligent, careless, and slight in a matter of this moment, it's a shrewd sign that all is not well with them. When Trades-men are backward and unwilling to cast up their Books, and to see how the case stands with them in point of Estate, it's an ill sign that those men are behind-hand in the World, and that they themselves are under [Page 160] jealousie and suspition, that in case they should narrowly look into things, and come to ballance their accounts, they should not find all things well. And so between hope and fear, presuming the best; they blindly go on till Suits and Arrests make them thorowly sensible of their bad condition. And truly when men are backward and in­disposed to cast up their Accounts, and to see how matters stand with them in this great concernment of their Souls, and to be curious and exact in it, but go on from year to year, carelesly, presuming the best, it's a thousand to one but they are spiritually Bankerupts, in a break­ing condition, which when death comes to Arrest them, it may be they shall perceive, unless carried away in a spiritual Lethargie, which is worst of all. Solomon saith, He that despiseth his wayes shall dye, Prov. 19.16. He that makes light how things stand with him which yet do exceeding neerly concern him, such as are matters of eternal life and death; it's next to a demonstration that eternal ru­ine and destruction, are not far from that man, unless he recover him­self from that careless posture. Whereas on the contrary, as men that are thriving in the World, and in good case in point of Estate, take pleasure in casting up their Estates; So he that doeth truth, co­meth to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God, Jo. 3.21.

But however, let things be how they will be, as bad with you as Jealousie it self can suspect, yet there's reason why you should make the more hast to find out the worst, because as yet there is opportuni­ty of keeping all from going to ruine, of mending a bad Estate, of coming to understand things that belong to your peace: Now is the accepted time, now is the day of Salvation; (2 Cor. 6.2.) the door is not yet shut, the Market-day of the Soul is not yet over. Christ is yet calling upon such as have thought themselves rich, and aboun­ding in Goods, and to have need of nothing, and yet upon tryal have been found miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; he is yet cal­ling upon them to buy of him gold tryed in the fire, that they may be rich, and white raiment that they may be clothed, and that the shame of their nakedness may not appear, Rev. 3.18.

Truly I exceedingly fear that that which was the case of this Lao­dicean Church, is the condition of vast numbers of Christians by pro­fession in these dayes, who think all is very well with them, in that they have some knowledg of the Scriptures, and a beleef of the Go­spel touching Christs dying for sinners, and being the Saviour of Man-kind, and because they frequent the places of his publick wor­ship, [Page 161] and in a formal (though liveless, powerless) way perform some duties: when as they in the mean time are workers of iniquity, in bondage to their lusts, have no experience of the new birth, or work of Regeneration in their Souls, (presuming it may be, to the sad deceiving of their Souls, that they were Regenerate, and born a­gain, in their Infant Baptisme,) but indulge themselves in such things as please the flesh, thinking that Christ as he is able, so will be willng to pay all their scores as long as they do but depend upon him for it. But alass, such if they will be but perswaded to try themselves by that Doctrine of Faith here laid before them, they will find them­selves in an ill case. O but let not that discourage any to be trying how it is with them, the Lord is calling upon you, saying, Awake thou that sleepest, and stand up from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light, Ephes. 5.14. Though you have been all this while asleep, and have dreamed you have been believers, and that you are justifi­ed, when it's no such matter; like the hungry man the Prophet speaks of, Who dreameth, and behold he eateth, but he awaketh, and his Soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and behold he drinketh; but he awaketh, and behold he is faint, and his Soul hath appetite, Isai. 29.8. Yet now if with this jogg you may be but awakened out of this sleep, and so come to see that that which plea­sed you so was indeed but a dream, Christ is ready to give you light, not only in making known to you the true and certain terms of his Salvation, but also in shewing you how you may be indued with pow­er and strength to observe the same; and finally to attain Salvation it self, which through your mistakes hitherto, you have been in great danger to miss of: he will guide you with his counsel, and afterwards receive you unto glory, Psalm 73.24.

Only be diligent in this work, make no longer delay, thou art not master of thy time, and thou knowest not what a day may bring forth; remember it is for thy life, the life of thy Soul; there's no dal­lying and trifling in matters of this moment. What man is he that expects shortly to be tryed for his life, this mortal life, who out of the sence of the consequence of it, is not restless in his labours, pains, and endeavours day and night, till (if such a thing be attainable) he have got together the evidences of his defence, and hath put himself into a good posture of vindication? And shall men be penny-wise, and pound-foolish? shall they be solicitous about a mortal, tempo­ral life, which for ought they know shall expire with the day of their tryal? and shall men be rechless, negligent, and careless in their pre­parations [Page 162] and provisions for such a tryal, wherein their everlasting condition, life, or death, lies at stake? God forbid! Therefore I beseech you in the Name of the Lord, and for the sake of your Souls, that you give your selves no rest till you know what ground you stand on, till you come to know that your plea and defence which you have to make in the great day of your tryal before Christ the Judge of Quick and Dead, is such as will then carry the Day on your side.

Sect. 2 You may know now, how things will go with you then when that great and notable day of Judgement and Tryal comes. You have the rule of that dayes proceeding before you now; The word which Christ hath spoken, the Doctrine which he either by himself or his Apostles hath delivered, the same shall judge you, that's it by which you shall be tryed in that day, John 12.48. That word which you read, that Word which you hear from day to day, that's it by which you must stand or fall. So that if you will but make a business of it by laying things together, and comparing one thing with another, Scripture with Scripture, and the temper of your heart, and tenour of your life therewith; you may be able to Prophesie (upon suppo­sition that you remain in the same condition until death) what judg­ment you shall have. There's no fear of the Judges awarding of any sentence contrary to Law, contrary to the Doctrine of the Scrip­tures. If your cause be good by that, you do not need to fear the Judges being made against you; if your cause be naught in the ac­count of that, there's no hopes of deceiving or bribing the Judge: as your cause is in the eye of the Law, so and no otherwise will it be in the sentence of the Judg.

And for your ease and accomodation in this great and weighty af­fair of your Souls; and to the end you may not be mistaken in your own cause by mistaking the nature, terms, and true intent of the rule of your tryal, by which you must be justified or condemned, (igno­rance wherein, and mistakes whereabout are wonderful dangerous;) I have in this Book laboured to fit things to your hands by opening the Doctrine of Justification, especially in those parts of it that are most liable to mens mistakes, and to deliver it from the incombrance of those crooked notions, and mis-apprehensions, by which men are in danger of making that to become a snare to them, which God hath prepared for a Table.

That therefore to which I exhort you, is, that you put your selves upon the tryal now before-hand, as men who are to run a race, or to [Page 163] try masteries otherwise, are wont to be proving their ability by a more private running of the Race, or enuring of their bodies to other exercise, before the day of publick striving for mastery comes. Deal faithfully with your own Souls, in trying your selves before the Barr of your own Conscience now for the present, by that Doctrine of Faith here laid before you. The Conscience is as it were Christs Delegate, deputed by him to make Judgement by the rule of his Word of a mans spiritual condition in the interim, before the so­lemn Assize, and day of publick tryal come. And therefore mens thoughts are said in the mean while, (mark that word in the mean while) to accuse or excuse one another, (Rom. 2.15.) that is to justifie or condemn, as it finds a man guilty or not guilty, according to that rule by which he is to be tryed by Chaist. It is true, the Con­science does not alwayes make that infallible Judgement in a mans case as Christ himself will do, either for want of a right understanding of the rule of Judgement, or the true state of a mans cause, as being defiled and darkened, and the eye of it made dim by too much com­munion with sinful lusts, which it may be have corrupted and bribed it partially to favour the mans cause, or at least to be neuteral, as not to justifie, so not to condemn, but to leave things in doubt. But to what degree it is truly enlightened in the nature of Christs Law, and the nature of a mans cause that is to be tryed by it, so far it will, and can hardly do otherwise than make the same judgement and determi­nation concerning a mans condition, (if a man will bring his cause before it) as Christ himself will do. Otherwise there would not be that ground of spiritual triumph and rejoycing in the verdict of Conscience, which was found in Paul and his Christian companions upon that account, 2 Cor. 1.12. For our rejoycing is this, the te­stimony of our Conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conver­sation in the world.

Sect. 3 The Devil, as he makes it his work and business to accuse the very servants of God themselves before God day and night, (Rev. 12.10.) so at certain times and seasons which he watches for on purpose, as after some notable slip in the Christian walk, or in time of some deep affliction, and especially towards the hour of death, he will accuse them at the Judgement-seat of their own Consciences, and bring their cause to a tryal there, to force them if possible to despair of any good issue when they shall come to be tryed before the Lord: which he will say hard to, if he can but confound and puzzle them in the [Page 164] evidences of their Justification and defence, in the Court of their con­science. And you shall find still in the issue and upshot, that the stress and pinch will lye upon the evidence of the goodness of a mans Faith: for if a man be but sure he have a right shield of Faith in the hand of his Soul, he will easily be able to quench all the fiery darts of the De­vil, Ephes. 6.16. If he lay to their charge, and set before them the greatness and multitude of the sins and miscarriages which they have been guilty of at times, heightened with all the provoking cir­cumstances of aggravation; the plea and defence will be, that Christ the lamb of God taketh away the sin of the world, John 1.29. That the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin, 1 Joh. 1.7. That he is the propitiation for our sin, and not for ours only, but also for the sin of the whole world, 1 John 2.2. And that not only few and small offences, but even all manner of sin and blasphemy (that against the Holy Ghost excepted) shall be forgiven unto men, Mat. 12.31.

If he tell you though that be granted, yet it will not follow that therefore your sins are forgiven, or that you are actually cleansed by the blood of Christ, because though Christ gave himself a ransom for all, yet all shall not be saved by him, for that wide is the gate, broad the way that leads to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; (Mat. 7.14.) And so put you upon proving your ti­tle to the promise of Remission of Sin by his Blood; your plea will be your belief in him, as that to which the promise of Justification and eternal Salvation is made, in whomsoever found, John 3.16. Mark 16.16. Acts 16.31. Rom. 3.25. But then its like he will go further with you, and argue against you; that it does not follow that because you have some Faith in Christ, as that he is the Son of God, that he dyed, was buried, and rose again, that there­fore you are justified, and shall be acquitted before the Lord; because there is a certain kind of formal, feigned, and dead Faith, which will not save, James 2.14. And that Simon Magus did believe, though for all that he were in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, Acts 8.13. and so did others, who for all that were in no very good condition, John 2.23. and 12.42, 43. If therefore he shall lay to your charge that yours is but a Faith of this sort and kind, and consequently that it will not avail you, nor render your title to the promise valid, you have no other way to deal with him, and so defend your selves against this Article of Indictment, but by produ­cing such proofs and evidences of the truness, goodness, and sound­ness [Page 165] of your Faith, and thereby the validity of your title to the pro­mise, as will satisfie the Judge Delegate, Conscience, and make that on your side; and then you have cast your adversary, and foiled him in his suit; he can proceed no further with you; his accusation and Bill in this kind being thrown out of the Court of Conscience as malicious and scandalous.

Sect. 4 But then, O how does it concern us to have the evidences and proofs of the goodness of our Faith which is our title, to be alwayes in a readiness, and not to seek! for to be sure, shall they be wanting, or should they be lost, or but defaced and blur'd, or but in a capaci­ty of delivering themselves ambiguously, our Adversary the Devil is so diligent to prie into matters of this nature, as that there will be no hiding them from him, and so subtile to improve advantages in this kind given, as that we shall hear of him in such a time and sea­son, which of all other we have least need to be troubled by him. And therefore as you would not have your bitter and cruel Enemy the Devil to vex, perplex, and worst you in the Court of your own Conscience, be careful above all things so to shew forth your Faith by your Works, (James 2.18.) as that you may put the Devil out of heart as it were of attempting you in this kind, or if he do, that you may be sure he shall but loose his labour. He that is begotten of God, sinneth not, but keepeth himself that the wicked one toucheth him not, 1 John 5.18. It's sinning and matter of miscarriage, un­evenness, and faultering in ones way, that gives the Devil advantage against one, and power of impleading him: but those that are truly careful to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, (mark that, Col. 1.10.) as those that are begotten of God do, they keep them­selves out of the Devils reach, that the wicked one toucheth them not, though he diligently seeks it, yet he cannot get this advantage a­gainst them. It's in vain for the Devil to bring his accusations a­gainst a man at the Barr of his Conscience, if Conscience it self which is Judge in the case, be able to bear a man witness, that his Faith is of that kind that in the tenour of his life worketh by such acts, which argue unfeigned love both to God and men. This brest­plate of Righteousness, will effectually safeguard the Soul from all the thrusts of the Devil, that he shall not be able to wound the Spi­rit, Ephes. 6.14. Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way; (Prov. 13.6.) it's that to the Soul which a coat of Mail is to the body, it preserves the Soul from the molestations of the Devil, [Page 166] his weapons cannot enter, his insinuations touching a mans bad con­dition before God, cannot take place. The armour of righteousness is armour of proof on the right hand and on the left: (2 Cor. 6. [...]7 If a man have that on, the Devil can find no way to enter, or to draw blood of the Soul: but let a man leave off that but a little, and he shall soon feel the Devils darts striking through his Liver, (to allude to Prov. 7.23.) and his Sword passing through his Soul, and such aches, paines, and gripes occasioned thereby in the Soul, as sometime caused a stout Souldier of the Lords upon that occasion, to roar for the disquietness of his heart, (Psal. 38.8.) and to complain of bro­ken bones, Ps. 51.8.

Sect. 5 And truly for Conscience it self, which is such a Judge, as next to the supream Judge, is privy to all a mans wayes, inward, outward, it cannot take a mans part against the Devils accusations and pleas before its Barr touching the unsoundness of his Faith, and brokenness of his title to the promise of Justification and life, if it discern not in him those spiritual qualifications, as will in the eye of the holy Law of Jesus, evince his Faith to be living, and not dead. For as it is the living and not the dead, among men, in whom the title in Law rests, and is alwayes so judged; so is it the living and not the dead Faith, in which the title in the sence of the Gospel rests, and will be alwayes so judged by an upright Conscience.

And therefore if you would have Conscience to pass the sentence on your side, and against the impleadings of your enemy, and to be a witness for you in your cause, be you sure you do nothing at any time to offend Conscience, and to disoblige it, or to make it a witness against you. For if the Devil shall appeal to Conscience it self which is the Judge, whether it be not able to witness that at such and such a time, such and such offences and transgressions of the holy Law were committed and done in word or deed, not only in its sight, but contrary to its items and checks, and the Conscience knows it to be true; can the Conscience think you in such a case, vindicate a mans cause against his Enemy? surely no; but must give the Devil his due, and say as he sayes, so far as he speaks true. And how far a few instances of this nature will go towards the spoiling of a mans cause, when he comes to be tryed for his integrity, I leave to every Soul se­riously to consider. A few acts of this nature will go further to e­vince a man to be unfaithful and false to God, and under the condem­nation of his Law in the maine, than a great many good actions in [Page 167] company of these will do, to prove him to be faithful, and under the protection of the Law, Ezek. 33.12, 13. The righteousnesse of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression. Again, When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live: if he trust to bis own righteousnesse, and commit iniquity, all his righ­teousnesse shall not be remembred, but for his iniquity which he hath committed, he shall dye for it. Which surely remains in force, where true Repentance, which consists of contrition and reformation, hath not altered the case; which otherwise is indeed a remedy against the Sin of backsliding as well as against other evills where it takes place.

Sect. 6 Again, Conscience in its testimony or verdict, is that which does not only acquit a man from the accusations of the Devil, when ca­lumnious, but which also gives him boldness towards God of recei­ving a gracious and merciful sentence of final Justification and abso­lution from Christ, when the day of his solemn and publick tryal, shall come. For as here in London at the Sessions of Peace, an infe­rior Court, things are prepared and made ready for tryal at the Grand Sessions, so that a man may guesse by the verdict of the petty Jury in the lower Court, how things are like to go with him in the Upper Court; even so may a man be able to make a kind of certain Judgement how things are like to go with him touching his final Ju­stification in the grand Session of the Judge of all the world, by that preparatory tryal which hath been impartially made in the Court of a mans own Conscience, as I noted before. If he be acquitted, justi­fied here, by the testimony and verdict of Conscience grounded upon the Statutes of Christ, and agreeable to matters of Fact, he will be full of a comfortable confidence of speeding well at the Judgement seat of Jesus Christ, 1 John 3.21. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God. But if a mans conscience which if it err on any side, it's like to be in favour to the man him­self, if this find a man guilty and obnoxious to the condemning sen­tence of Christs Law, there's smal hopes for that man to expect a sen­tence of Justification and absolution at the tribunal of Christ, (unlesse he can upon the sence of what condition he is in, bestir himself in the mean time to procure his pardon, by taking such a course of amend­ment as by which through infinite Grace it may be had,) 1 John 3.20. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things; hath a more piercing sight to discern a mans [Page 168] guilt, than Conscience it self hath, and therefore will condemn much more.

Sect. 7 O Sirs, how does it then concern every one of us to carry all things fair in the sight of our Conscience, which indeed is privy in a manner to all our doings, and to maintain Friendship with that, and to take heed of wronging and abusing that, or making that ill affected to­wards us. Sin and unworthiness of behaviour in word or deed, is that which defiles Conscience, which troubles and disturbs it, which grieves and ill affects it, and disables it from pleading a mans cause be­fore the Lord, or giving testimony on his side, so that it can never send a man with boldness before the Lord, till that which hath defi­led and offended it be taken away, Heb. 10.22. Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of Faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil Conscience: Mark, to the drawing near to God in full assurance of Faith, with boldness and confidence of be­ing accepted with him, this we see is absolutely necessary, viz. that the heart be first sprinkled from an evil conscience; that that be ta­ken away which made the Conscience evil while it was there, and what's that but sin? So long as the guilt of sin, and filth of sin re­main upon the heart, the Conscience will be evil; if sin trouble the Conscience, Conscience will trouble the man, and fill him with those fears as that he will be far from drawing nigh to God with confidence and full assurance of Faith, but rather like Adam in that case, run away and hide himself from God, if it were possible.

Paul no doubt well knowing this, to the end he might maintain his hope and confidence in God touching the Resurrection-day in good plight, and might alwayes have his Conscience on his side, and ready to present him unto God with a good testimony, what did he do? What! Herein (saith he) do I exercise my self to have alwayes a Conscience void of offence towards God, and toward men, Acts 24.16. In all his behaviour God-ward, Men-ward, and that alwayes; he was so intent upon this thing of gratifying his Conscience, that he made it his constant exercise, was wonderful fraid of giving his Con­science any offence, of offering any injury or wrong to that; for he knew if he did, that would spoil his hope towards God. As the my­sterie of Faith, (2 Tim. 3.9.) so the confidence of Faith, must be held in a pure Conscience: indeed it's able to live in no other ayre. A pure heart, a good Conscience, and Faith unfeigned, these are linkt together, (1 Tim. 1.5.) where you find one, there you will find [Page 169] all, and where any one is wanting, to be sure there the other will be missing. If a good Conscience be once put away, as it is where a pure heart is not kept, it's in vain for men to boast of their Faith and confidence in God, 1 Tim. 1.19. Holding Faith and a good Con­science, which some having put away, concerning Faith have made shipwrack. If a good Conscience be once put away, the next news you hear, is the ship-wrack of Faith. Men may have a liveless form of Faith, as the body and bulk of a Ship sometimes remains after a Wrack, but is rendred useless and unserviceable; and so is Faith when once a good Conscience is gone; it's of no use to entitle a man to the Promise, and consequently of no use to give a man confidence to­wards God, or to imbolden him to come before him.

If therefore to have Conscience which is Judge under Christ to be your Friend, be any thing in your eye: if to have that to plead your cause, and to be a witness for you against the subtile insinuati­ons, malicious accusations, and violent prosecutions of the Devil, be a thing desirable to you: if to have Conscience to send you to Christs Barr with Letters testimonial in your hand, signifying that your cause hath been tryed in that Court, and evidences and witnes­ses impartially heard and considered on both sides, and your cause found good, and you your selves under the Justification and protecti­on of Christs Gospel; I say if such things as these be any thing worth with you, then be sure you use Conscience well which hath its eye upon you alwayes; do not trouble it, do not provoke it, do not disoblige it at any time by any means, and then the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Friends; these are great matters, and you your selves every one of you greatly concerned in them: if you have not the sence of it now, yet know ye that the time is coming apace, wherein ye will better understand what these things mean. But take heed this sence come not upon you too late, when the opportunity of acting the part of a good Conscience is over: remember how the foolish Vir­gins were then to provide themselves of Oyl for their Lamps, when the wise by the light of that which they had provided in due time, en­tred in with the Bride-groom, and the door was shut against the other.

I have now done with giving this piece of instruction, caution, and advice, and the good Lord prosper it to those that have heard [Page 170] it, and to those that shall read it: it remains on our part every one of us, that we be presently up and doing according to it, or else it will be a witness against us in the day of the Lord. And I my self who have been holding forth to you these great things, am very sen­sible, God knows, that I am but a very poor and weak Creature, and have had many a trembling of heart for my self as well as others, whilst I have been writing these matters of mighty moment, lest I should strike upon any of those Rocks, whereof the troublesome sea of this sinful world is very full, and of which I have been warning o­thers, before I make the fair Haven towards which I am steering. And I dare say, you will be never the near the danger, if you be under the same sence and fear too. But O then set us all away to God, and follow him day and night with our fervent supplications, to be up­held and kept by him, taking hold of his strength, trusting under the shadow of his love, depending upon Christ for supplies of all necessa­ries for the Christian life, carefully avoiding all things that might di­stast or grieve him, and cause him to withdraw and leave us; and with like care to do alwayes those things that please him; so may we be certain that his eye will be alwayes on us, and his heart towards us for good, and his right hand shall uphold us and preserve us to his Heavenly Kingdom, Amen.


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