OR, A Discourse grounded on these Words, The weapons of our Warfare, &c. 2. Cor. 10.4.

Wherein [among other things set down in a following Index] this Truth is especially asserted; namely, that

A holy Life, or the habitual observing of the Laws of CHRIST, is indispensably necessary to Salvation.

Whereunto is added an Appendix, laying open the common neglect of the said Laws among Christians, and vindicating such necessity of obser­ving them from those general Exceptions that are wont to be made against it.

By R.S. B. D.

LONDON, Printed for John Martin and James Allestrye, and are to be sold at the Bell in S. Pauls Church-yard. 1652.

An Advertisement to the READER.

CHristian Reader, be pleased to take notice that this discourse here presented to thine eye, was (for some principal parts of it) only at first intended for, and so deli­vered to the ears of a Countrey Auditory: and this I doubt not but thou wilt ea­sily (especially, if thine eye be any thing curious) discern by the homelinesse of its dresse; here be­ing no rhetorical flourishes, or studied obscurities, to please thy fancy, or exercise thy Wit: Nobis non licet esse tam disertis; neither the condition of the Hearers, nor my own ability, would permit me to be thus eloquent. And indeed, though I am far either from approving rudenesse of speech in sa­cred matters, or envying those abilities of expres­sions in others which I cannot attain unto my self: yet I am of opinion, that wholsom meats may be too much sweetned, and thereby lose much of their wholsomnesse or nourishing vertue: and in like manner, that solid and material truths may be too artificially decked, so as such art or decking shall come to be more regarded then the truths themselves: and consequently, the ears rather be thereby tickled, then the understanding convin­ced, or the heart affected.

The truth that is here held forth in this Di­scourse (I mean, especially in the popular parts of it) and more fully confirmed in the annexed Ap­pendix, [Page]is (I conceive) one of that rank, that is, such a plain and important truth as would rather seem less serious, & be made to abate of its proper efficacie, then be any thing advanced by an affect­ed wisdom of words, or human eloquence. It is not other but what the Apost long since affirmed; that without holinesse no man shall see God: or to deliver it in words more significant of my own sense, that a holy life is the only way, and that which is simply ne­cessary to make a man blessed in and after death. A truth so clear, and withall of so good a sound, that most (I doubt not) at the first view or hearing will readily grant it: and indeed it is commended to us by so unquestionable and full a light, name­ly of Scripture, that it may be a wonder how any should see cause to deny, or doubt of it; and so, in both these respects, it may seem a task unne­cessary, which I have herein undertaken, to per­swade men to a belief thereof.

And yet indeed the matter is far otherwise: for there is nothing I know, at this day, pretending to be a divine truth, more generally discredited a­mong Christians of all sorts, then this is: though I think there is scarce any thing (supposing it for a truth) wherein it concerns them so much to be firmly perswaded, as in the belief of it; it being hardly probable, that any will act according to it, but who are so perswaded of it; that is, that they will universally compose their lives to those divine rules of holinesse laid down in the Gospel (which generally are so contrary to mens sensual desires, and their worldly ease and interests) unlesse they be truly convinced of a necessity of so doing. I will not deny, but that most who professe Christ, professe also a kinde of confused belief of this ne­cessity: and I shall also grant, that it seems to be the designe of most preachers to keep up this be­lief [Page]in men, and thereby to plant such holinesse in them; there being hardly any of that calling, who does not in one manner or other bend their discourses towards this end.

But yet, as we say of the Papists, that what they grant directly and in words, they do indirectly and really deny; as (not to mention other parti­cular points) when they professe to acknowledge Christ to be the head of the Church, and yet hold the Pope also (though as they pretend, under Christ) to be head thereof, ascribing such a power to him and his Chair in sacred matters as in effect de­prives Christ of his headship, and renders a great part of his laws invalid and without any force: So I think it may without breach of charity be af­firmed of too many Protestants, both Ministers and people, that notwithstanding the preaching of the former, and professed belief of both in this point; holinesse of life, described and ex­tended so as it is in the Gospel, is held and reputed by them a thing unnecessary to salvation.

What else does that general disuse and neglect of those many plain duties confessedly required of us in the Gospel, imply? yea, what else do those common doctrines and perswasions, publikely owned and setled in mens mindes, declare? as namely, touching the sufficiency of Christs merits and righteousnesse being meerly apprehended and applyed to a mans soul, wch is (in the account of ma­ny) the formality of that faith whereby we are ju­stified in the sight of God: & also touching the effi­cacy of late contrition, or mourning for sin, where­in as many make repentance in a manner wholly to consist. Both which are things that may be truly transacted (as the nature of the things them­selves imply, and as the patrons of them acknow­ledge) by such persons at their going out of the [Page]world, as all the time of their living in it before, have constantly allowed themselves in known breaches of some or more of the divine laws of Christ.

Do not these two doctrines or opinions truly contradict and overthrow that other opinion ge­nerally professed, and seemingly held, of the ne­cessity of a holy life for coming to the kingdom of hea­ven? Can a thing in any sense be reputed the ne­cessary means for attaining some end, when the said end may be ordinarily come at without these means by some other way? as by the force of the foresaid opinions men are taught to believe, that eternal salvation may be certainly attained by them, though they never lived holily, if so be that now when they are a dying they do (as it is then possible for them) apply Christs righteous­nesse to themselves, and truly mourn for their sins: or is not this (at best) to hold forth two wayes to the kingdom of heaven? one, that which is seemingly believed, and which indeed the Scripture only allowes and approves of, name­ly, the strict and proportionable long way of a holy life; and the other, that which is much easier and shorter, to wit, mourning for sin at the last, and fi­duciary application of Christs righteousnesse to a mans self, as that which will be fully effectual without the former preceding? And is there any likeli­hood or reason to expect, but that (this being so) men should generally (as we see they do) take this latter way, and suffer the former to lye quite untrodden and disused? All (we know) are natu­rally lovers of ease, and desirous (if possible) to reconcile the enjoyment of the pleasures of sin with the hopes of those true pleasures hereafter to be enjoyed: and therefore it is no marvel, if be­ing taught (as, in effect, by the former opinion [Page]they are) that there is no absolute necessity of li­ving holily, & so that these latter are possible to be come at by those who never truly and effectually relinquished the former, the most every where securely allow themselves this liberty.

This (I mean, this perswasion rooted in mens mindes through the foresaid opinions, that obedi­ence to Christs laws is not required in the former de­gree of necessity, or indispensably for attaining sal­vation) is that which truly enervates, for the most part the force of all preaching and divine exhor­tations to holinesse of life; that which makes such preaching and exhortation how powerfully soever otherwise enforced, available only to be­get in men flashes of devotion, or a partial piety, or some vellieties, and faint ineffectual endeavours of living holily: this is that which makes men willing (for better excusing their own voluntary sloth) to interpret the habitual observing of the laws of Christ, which yet they cannot but acknowledge the Scripture seems to require, such a height of perfection as is not possible to be reached unto; and therefore, they think, not necessary to be la­boured after: in brief, this is that (I conceive) which of all things most deeply contributes to the upholding of the dominion of sin in the world, both for the extent and degrees of it: I mean, among the professours of Christ: and so by its influence helps forward daily the perdition of thou­sands of souls. The apprehension of all which evils, and especially of the last, which is the re­sult of them all, hath made me think that I could not possibly do a more charitable work, then use that ability (how weak or small soever) which God hath given me, towards the discovering of that which is the true root of them; which, I con­ceive, is no other, but that before mentioned, [Page]namely, this common but corrupt perswasion, that there is some other way of coming to the kingdom of heaven, then by a holy life, or the habitual observing of the laws of Christ. And this, accordingly, I have endeavoured in this following tract: partly, in the discourse, as the words whereunto it is limited cast me upon it, and the condition of the hearers required; but more fully in the annexed Appen­dix: the designe of both which is to show, that which I conceive it infinitely concerns all men to be firmly perswaded of, namely, that the former manner of observing the foresaid laws is an indi­spensable condition for attaining of eternal life. A truth, which as I am fully convinced of, for my own part; so I cannot but think there is a neces­sity lying upon me, to do my utmost for the con­vincing of others into a like belief of it: being firmly perswaded, that such a belief thereof once throughly setled in mens mindes, would be at once effectual for stopping those gaps of licenti­ousnesse, and so of perdition, that now lye o­pen; and also for enabling men to exhibit actu­ally in their performance a greater height of per­fection, in reference to Christs laws, then yet they have ever had so much as a serious thought of aiming after.

There are some other things of another nature insisted on in the following discourse; such as I conceive were not so fit to offer to the ears of those who were hearers of the other parts, as they may be to present to the eyes of some who may now be willing to be readers: and these things perhaps, as they are connexed with the other, may make the structure of the whole seem some­what uneven and disproportioned: but yet, being useful in their way, as I hope in some degree they may prove, and having the same ground for their [Page]foundation which the rest have, I am willing to presume of so much charity from the candid and intelligent Reader, as that he will not be so far offended at such disproportion as to censure it for a crime.

My main aim in the whole, (if my own heart deceive me not) is this that Christ may have the honour of that obedience which is due to him, and which he requires; and Christians the com­fort of that reward which they hope for from him, and which is limited only to such obedience: that these may not wretchedly delude themselves in their most large hopes, nor wickedly defraud him of his unquestioned right, by a formal and fruitlesse profession. This is that great errand on which this little work is sent forth: and I beseech that God, who by mean and contemptible instru­ments useth sometimes to effect great matters, to prosper it therein, and to convert all to his own Glory.

R. S.

THE CONTENTS OF THE Following Discourse.

  • THis Discourse divided into three Sections, p. 3.
  • SECT. I. The first Section touching the Christian Warfare; Wherein is shown the reason why this name is applyed to sig­nifie our Christian duty, p. 4.
    • The chief enemie in this warfare is the Devil, whose de­signe is to keep us from the kingdom of Heaaven, which thing he attempts
      • 1 By Cunning, namely upon the understanding or upon the affections p. 7.
      • 2. By Cruelty, p. 9.
    • Our main care before hand must be
      • To settle the judgement aright in divine matters, p. 11.
      • To have a right apprehension of these worldly things, p. 15.
      • To get a firm belief of those future things promised, p. 16.
      • To have an ill opinion of the world, p. 17.
      • To beware of the Counsell of carnal friends, p. 19.
      • To inure our selves to hardnesse. p. 21.
    • [Page]In the time of our fighting, it is requisite that we have
      • 1. A good eye, which must be
        • watchful, p. 25.
        • piercing, p. 26.
      • 2. A good heart, p. 28.
    • Touching which are shown
      • 1. That hereby is meant the Spirit of God, or a divine power imprint­ed in the heart, p. 30.
      • 2. That we have particular grounds whereon to expect the receiving of this Spirit. p. 31.
      • And here to differences assigned be­twixt the giving of this Spirit as limited to the primitive, and as extended to our times, p. 37.
      • 3. What are the Conditions on our part to make us actually capable of it, p. 38.
    • Three particular rules added as those which will be of great use in this warfare:
      • 1. To look upon the prize we fight for, p. 48.
      • 2. To look upon the Company that have fought before us, p. 55
      • 3. To look upon the Captain that eyes us, p. 58.
  • SECT. II. The second Section touching the weapons belonging to this Warfare. p. 60.
    • That these weapons are not carnal, that is, as the word carnal so joyned, notes
      • 1. That which is destructive to the flesh.
      • 2. That which carnall wisdom in­vents or suggests, p. 60.
    • That they are not carnal in the first sence shown from three Reasons. p. 60,
    • That not carnal in the second sence shown from Pauls ex­ample. p. 67.
    • [Page]That both these sorts of carnal weapons are not mighty but weak, in respect
      • 1. Not able to refist the force of the other weapons here meant. p. 70.
      • 2. Not able properly to plaint or preserve Religion. p. 70.
    • That Religion which is so planted or preserved, is rather Policie then Religion, p. 75.
    • The folly and cruelty of those that make use of these car­nal weapons in this way. p. 76.
    • The Weapons of this warfare considered First limited to the first time, and so they were of two sorts as, p. 28.
      • 1. Respecting those within the Church, whereby is shown to be meant an extraordinary power of inflicting corporal punishment, and particularly of delivering unto Satan: the nature, and end of which punishment is described, p. 82.
      • 2. Respecting those without the Church, whereby meant the working of miracles, touching which is shown, p. 88.
        • 1. That these weapons were
          • 1. Effectual, p. 89.
          • 2. Necessary at that time,
        • 2. That the continuance of them now is
          • Needful,
          • Convenient, 90.
    • Both these further manifested from that impresse of Divi­nity that is in both the parts of the Gospel, p. 94.
    • Hereupon the reason is assigned why miracles longer con­tinued under the Law then under the Gospel, namely the im­perfection of that Religion in both the parts of it, p. 96.
    • And hence occasionally is shown that eternal life was not expresly promised under the law, p. 98.
    • That the corruption of Religion, and defection under An­tichrist does not make miracles necessary now, as they were in the first planting of the Gospel, in regard p. 104.
      • 1. There are some common principles remaining, univer­sally received among all Christians, to wit, the Scri­ptures, p. 105.
      • 2. These Scriptures are clear, and so by all confessed to be in necessary matters, p. 107.
    • [Page]The differences of opinions among Christians does not con­tradict this, p. 107.
    • Whence the said differences do proceed, p. 111.
    • The great uncertainty and necessary inconveniency of go­ing about to decide controversies in Religion by Councels or Fathers, p. 113.
    • Secondly these weapons considered as extended to all times, whereby meant
      • 1. That which in its use respects those within the Church, viz. Excommunication, p. 115.
      • The several ends whereof are set down p. 118.
      • And hereupon the constitution of our Church is be­wailed, as it is destitute of this weapon, and of the true use of it, p. 119.
      • How the servants of God are to demean themselves un­der this defect, p. 123.
      • 2. Such as are requisite for subduing others without the Church unto Christ, by which are meant those Christian vertues and exercises of them com­mended to us in the Gospel: touching which are shown, p. 124.
      • That without these, the former weapons of miracles in the Apostles hands would have been uneffectual p. 125
      • That we can only perswade others effectually unto Christ by the use of these weapons, p. 128.
  • SECT. III. The third Section touching the strong holds, whereby is shown to be meant carnal reasonings against the profession, or power of Christian Religion
    • Which are considered, p. 138.
      • 1. As common to all natural persons, p. 139.
      • 2. As peculiar to some certain sorts of persons, such as wordly wise, or learned, or rich, which persons are con­sidered, p. 144.
    • [Page]1. With reference to the Apostles times, as wholly uncon­verted to so much as a profession of Christianity: the rea­sonings of whom contained under two heads, p. 145.
      • 1. such as tend to uphold the credit of those false Religi­ons they had before lived in, p. 146.
      • 2. Such as tend to discredit the Religion of that they were to be perswaded to, p. 148.
    • Both which sorts and particular wayes of reasoning the Pa­pists are shown to make use of, for upholding their own and overthrowing our Religion, p. 154.
    • Hereupon the injustice of such Protestants is pointed at, who are not willing to have any opinion admitted, or freely considered, that is contrary to something long and generally received
    • To which persons these following considerations are ten­dered as means for convincing them, p. 158.
      • 1. The example of Luther, who opposed himself against the declared judgement and practise of all the Christian Churches in the world, p. 148.
      • 2. That it is very reasonable to imagine, considering the acknowledged heap of corruptions that was in the Chuch when Luther attempted first a Reformation, that there should be some left remaining for others after to discover, and purge out, p. 159.
      • This showed to be reasonable to suppose from three grounds, p. 160.
      • 3. That this is probable also to suppose upon the conside­ration of common allowed sinfulnesse of Christians, and of Gods way in giving men up to errours, p. 164.
    • That the former reasonings of both sorts were sufficiently invalidated by those miracles which were acted by the A­postles, p. 166.
    • These miracles of another nature then those which have been acted by some impostors, p. 169.
    • And far more effectual then the using of carnal weapons could have been in this kinde, p. 172.
    • The true reason why then not many wise men after the flesh, &c. called? p. 157.
    • [Page]2: Secondly the former sort of persons considered with re­ference to our times, as having a form of Religion, but want­ing the power of it, and so having need still to be subdued unto Christ, p. 180.
    • Their reasonings proportionable to the former.
      • 1. Such as tend to uphold the credit of that empty for­mality wherein they live, p. 183.
      • 2. Such as tend to asperse the power of godlinesse where­unto they are exhorted, p. 186.
    • To both which is added, as a main supporter of the said reasonings, an inward perswasion of the unnecessarinesse of such a way of godlinesse, and the sufficiency of the foresaid form, p. 189.
    • This of all other holds the most dangerous, and first to be attempted, p. 190.
    • The way of demolishing it here pointed at (after more fully shown and confirmed in the Appendix) p. 190.
    • That something is possible to be done by the servants of Christ towards working such persons to the power of godli­nesse, notwithstanding the former perswasion being in them; upon two grounds, p. 194.
    • Hence it may be made appear to them,
      • 1. That without obedience they are but hypocrites p. 196.
      • 2. That the going on of such numbers in that way wherein they live, is not a mark of the goodnesse, but of the bad­nesse and danger of it.
      • 3. That the meannesse of the persons who ordinarily limit themselves to a strict course of Religion cannot with Christians bee any true prejudice against such strict­nesse, p. 197.
      • 4. That to account the way of godlinesse harsh or uncom­fortable, is to contradict our profession, p. 199.
      • 5. That to account any Christian duties, and particularly that of meeknesse towards enemies dishonourable to practise is to think basely of Christs example and do­ctrine, p. 201.
    • That revenge argues basenesse, and the contrary, meekness [Page]and goodnesse only, true noblenesse of disposition. p. 202.
    • That those who use the former reasonings against their sub­mitting to the power of godlinesse are self condemned in so doing, and therefore the easier to be wrought upon by the former weapons. p. 204.


2. Cor. 10.4.‘For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.’

PErsons of great lustre and emi­nency for vertue have seldom had the hap to be looked up­on at their appearing, other­wise than with an ill eye from the world; their very zeal to do it good by amend­ing of it, ordinarily awakens the malice thereof against them, which, as by other means, so more especially by lies and slanders vented against such, it uses to [Page 2]manifest. Thus our Saviour, a person of the most absolute and unparalleld Inno­cence, Matth. 11.19. we finde traduced for a glutton and a wine-bibber, and a friend of Publicans and sinners; and thus (not to insist lon­ger on an Introduction) He, who was most like him for the dignity of his office, and zeal and sincerity in the managing of it, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, is here reported to be, but a kinde of hypo­critical Zelot; one that made more osten­tation of power by his words and Epi­stles, being absent, then he could give a­ny real evidence of, being present; one, that after the manner of some worldly Polititians made use of terrifying threats, like bruta fulmina, making a crackling noise to fright the simpler and weaker sort, when as he was destitute of any real ability to inflict what he threatned. In brief, it appears from the second and third verses going before, that some false tea­chers among these Corinthians, whom he had before sharply threatned, 1. Cor. 4.21. and sha­ken his Apostolical Rod over, represented him to them, as a person, that (notwith­standing his pretence of the Spirit, and singular divine power he had, for punish­ing the contumacious) walked according [Page 3]to the flesh, and so made use of those weak artifices and weapons, which the wisdom of that part was able to suggest and sup­ply him with, for retaining them in their obedience to his doctrine: In answer, and opposition to which, He first plainly denies what they did boldly affirm, or in­sinuate, saying, though we walk in the flesh, yet we do not war after the flesh. And then he more particularly sets down, what the manner of his walking, or managing of his office was, in reference to them and others, (how free from carnal artifices, and how much above all the force of the flesh, for the efficacie of it) here saying, For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. &c.

In the handling of which words, we shall consider these three things.

1. The warfare belonging to Christi­ans, by showing that there is such a war­fare, and withall the nature of it, and way of managing it.

2. The weapons belonging to this warfare, as they are described

  • 1. Negatively, that they are not carnal.
  • 2. Affirmatively, that they are mighty through God, &c.

[Page 4]3. The strong holds that these wea­pons are effectual for pulling down, what these holds are, and how pulled down by the said weapons.

Sect. 1

Touching the first of these, namely, that there is a warfare, &c. it may appear hence, Because our duty is exprest by such tearms as are proper to war; as Fighting, 1 Tim. 6.12. 2 Tim. 4.7. Luke 3.24. Ephes. 6.12. Jude 3. Fight the good fight, &c. and I have fought &c. And striving, Strive to enter, &c. And wrestling, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, &c. And contend­ing, contend earnestly, &c. And it will further appear, and withall the nature of this warfare, by considering the resem­blance and agreement it has with war properly so call'd, which is the ground of this Metaphor.

There are several things belonging to Warre;

1. Some as the ground or occasion of it, namely enemies, which oppose them­selves, so as either to deprive men of that whereof they are already possest, or hin­der them from that which they have a right to, or desire to attain.

2. Some as means, to manage it aright, so as the design of these enemies may not take effect; but that by the use of these [Page 5]means they may overcome them, and se­cure to themselves those things the said enemies labour to deprive and hinder them of.

Now, for the enemies in war, they are usually many, but they may be all ordi­narily compriz'd under one Head or Ge­neral; And for the means, they are either such as are to be used before the fight, and they may be compriz'd under that which is called the discipline of war, whereby Souldiers are wont to be exercised and prepared before hand; or else such as are especially used, and of whom there is need in time of fighting. And they are ei­ther such as a man is to have in him, as namely a good eye, and a good heart; or upon him, and about him, as wea­pons.

Now in all these our Christian course has a true agreement with war.

1. We have enemies, multitudes and millions of them, many infernal spirits, many wicked men, many naturall inbred lusts and desires; the joynt designe of all whose enmity is, to deprive us of Hea­ven, (that great Good, which we all de­fire, and professe to labour for) either by keeping, or turning us out of the way [Page 6]that leads thither. And all these though so many and manifold in themselves; yet they may be ranked under one General, the great adversary of God and our Souls, the Devil; He is call'd the Prince of the Air, Ephes. 2.2. 2 Cor. 4.4. and the God of this world, that works in the hearts of the children of diso­bedience, acting not only in them, by get­ting his suggestions entertain'd, to their own ruine; but also by them, by using them as his instruments, for effecting or attempting the perdition of others. Hereupon Peter was reproved by his Name, because he was (though unwit­tingly) his instrument, Matth. 16.22, 23. in that counsel given by him to our Saviour.

Now that we may be the better able to resist, and overcome him, we have need to be acquainted with his nature, and the course he takes to oppose us: his na­ture (so far as is pertinent to this matter) is best set forth by the name of Satan or adversary, whereby is signified, one that is wholly bent to overthrow us: This is his designe, this the end that he aims at, and that still while we are here in this world he is going about.

Now the wayes he takes to do this, are represented to us by two other names of his.

[Page 7]1. That of a Serpent, or old Serpent, which you know is a subtle creature.

2. That of a Dragon, and a Lion, Revel. 12.9.20 2. 1 Pet. 5.8. or roaring Lion, both which are very cruel and devouring creatures.

1. By the former is imply'd his cun­ning, or the manifold artifices he uses for this end: and indeed they are so many, that they cannot easily be found out, or numbred; only some of the most general I shall note.

1. Sometimes applying himself chiefly to the understanding. He comes under the visour of Religion, in the habit, and it may be in the person of a preacher, suggesting to men (from some places of Scripture, seemingly speaking that which they desire should be true) some such opi­nions as are indeed most favourable to the flesh, but most false in themselves, and de­structive to their souls; such as that is, the generality every where are possest with, namely that to rely on the merits of Christ is all that is required of them: that God will at last for his sake accept and crown them, though now either they take no care at all of doing his will, or content themselves with some faint purposes and ineffectual endeavours about it: this is [Page 8]that artifice, wherwith he takes and holds fast the multitude. But it is not from any true ground in Scripture, which every where speaks of doing the will of God, and keeping his Commandments, and being new Creatures, and that, as necessary conditi­ons of obtaining salvation: it is only the compliance it hath to mens natural incli­nations, the desire they have it should be true, that makes them so readily believe it is so.

2. Sometimes applving himself to the will and affections: he deals with us, as he dealt with our Saviour, when he pre­sented to him the Kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; that is, he sug­gest; to our minds, the pleasures, and pro­fits, and advantages that are here to be had, by giving the rains to our desires and contrarily, the hardships, troubles, and difficulties that are likely to befall us, by tying our selves to a religious course; that the former are present, and certain; but the other, namely, the rewards of our Religion, are yet to come, and uncertain, and it may be, not worth the parting with those, and therefore it is good to enjoy them while they are to be had, and to lay aside the care of these things, which (if [Page 9]there be any such) are yet farre off.

And to make these suggestions more effectual, he hath not only multitudes of examples alwayes in readinesse (that is, of such as truly walk after the flesh, making it all, or their main care to fulfill the de­sires of it,) to present to our eyes: but also many other artifices to work upon us, as namely by presenting to our mindes some easy way, as he did to our Saviour, Onely fall down, &c. Matth. 4.9. or by possessing us with a perswasion, that Honour and Happiness consists in those things; and that contempt, or danger, or poverty, or hatred, are like to be the attendants of those that follow after heavenly things.

2. Besides this Serpentine cunning, he has also the cruelty of a dragon, or lion: and this not only in respect of the end; for so this cruelty he alwayes exercises: (when he is most an angel, that is, in regard of the means by him made use of, he is still a devil, aiming at our de­struction, as his end) but also in the means he useth: when by flattery, or the lure of profits, and worldly pleasures he cannot prevail, then he stirs himself to raise up storms of persecutions, terrours [Page 10]without, and terrours within: some­times putting it into the hearts of the wicked, his instruments, to reproach or molest, and often persecute even to death, those that set themselves to obey God; and other times raising terrifying per­plexing thoughts within themselves, to make their lives, and the way they are in, bitter to them, that so they may grow weary of it. Many other things might be added, but this is enough to shew the first thing, which is the ground of all War, namely, that we have an enemy, a cunning, cruel, powerful enemie, so that its necessary we should be warriours, un­lesse we will give up our selves as a prey to destruction.

2. The things required to war, as the means to mannage it, are 1. That which is requir'd before-hand, as namely, the discipline of war. Souldiers, before they engage with the enemy, have ordina­rily their Trainings; and when they lie neer to him, use to be very watchfull in keeping their Guards, and sending out Scouts: so there is a certain discipline wherein we are to be employ'd, in the managing of our Christian warfare, and it is chiefly to be proportioned to the [Page 11]temper and condition of our adversary, that is, to the cunning and cruelty that he is composed of.

1. First then; as one part of his cun­ning is, to corrupt our understandings, to possesse us with an erroneous judge­ment, especially in matters which most neerly concern our salvation: so our care must be, to have our senses so exercised as to be able to distinguish betwixt good and evil, betwixt that which is sound and that which is unsound in such mat­ters.

Now this we can only attain unto, by attending diligently unto the word, by giving earnest heed unto those things which this Oracle of Truth commends to us. For the right understanding of which, we must know, that though there be some things hard to be understood, and which the ignorant and unstable wrest, 2 Pet. 3.16. yet the greatest part, especially those which immediately concern our practise and du­tie, whereupon our salvation chiefly and immediately depends, are plain and easie to be discerned: so plain indeed, that it is not possible for men to apprehend them in any other sense, then what of right be­longs to them, unlesse they will either be [Page 12]oscitant and carelesse readers, or wilfully shut their eyes, and suffer themselves to be carryed blindfold by others; or lastly, set themselves to wrest things to such a sense, as their own sensual affections most incline them to.

And therefore, that you neither abuse your selves, nor suffer your selves to be abused by others in this kind, I shall com­mend to you these two rules to be ob­served by you in this matter.

1. To take heed you suffer not your affections to corrupt your judgement: that is, that this be not the ground of your believing this or that to be the sence of Scripture, namely, your desires that it should be so; as that, which allowes you most liberty in your sins, and most com­fort with them. There is a saying, as the fool thinketh, so the bell clinketh: and the meaning of it is verified here: most men, according to their carnal wishes, and hopes they allow in themselves, are wil­ling to conceive the meaning of the Spi­rit of God in Scripture: But as this Spirit is most contrary, in it self, to the temper of that carnal part in us, so there cannot ordinarily be a better argument, whereon to suspect or believe the un­soundnesse [Page 13]of any opinion, or supposed sence of Scripture, then this, namely, a natural and general forwardnesse in men to believe it: for the most (we know) are lovers of ease, and sensuall pleasures; and therefore desire, if it may be, to under­stand all the Scripture in such a sence as may together with the hopes of Heaven, allow them the enjoyment of these; though they are things, that are not pos­fible to be reconciled with one another.

2. So firmly to believe, and rest per­swaded of that which you finde clearly affirm'd in Scripture, as not to suffer your selves to be made to suspect the plain meaning of it, by the seeming opposition of some other places, whose meaning is not so clear: but contrarily, to bring those that are more obscure to be interpreted by the rule of these. As it is certain, there is no true opposition betwixt places of Scripture; so it is as certain, that God in his wisdom hath thought fit to permit some appearing opposition: and that on purpose (we may conceive) for exercising of our diligence, to make us more intent in the reading of his word. Now, in rea­son, we must conceive, that the fewer and darker places are to be understood by the [Page 14]more and clearer: as for example; The Scripture, every where almost, abounds with such sayings as these, that we are not to be only hearers of the word, but doers of it; Jam. 1.22. Matth. 7.26 Heb. 12.14. Gal. 6.15. 1 Cor. 7.19. Rom. 2.7. That He that hears and does not, is like a foolish builder; That without holinesse no man shall see God; That in Christ Jesus nothing availeth but a new creature; Nothing but keeping the Com­mandments of God; That Immortality and eternal Life shall be conferred upon those that by patient continuance in well doing look for it, &c. by all which, the absolute necessity of a constant and continued obe­dience to the Laws of Christ, is either expresly, or at least implicitly asserted. Again, there are some other Texts, that seem to make this thing not so necessary, but that a man may be ordinarily saved without it: as where it is said, only Be­lieve in the Lord Jesus Christ,Acts 16.31.and thou shalt be saved. Now who sees not, that there is a necessity of bringing this last Text to a conformity with the former? that is, thus; Though believing properly be only an act of the will, and together therewith of the understanding, and sig­nifie here a reliance upon Christ, yet it must be such a reliance as includes in the [Page 15]very nature of it a performance of the former duties, that is, a doing of those things which he hath expresly required of us in his word; without which, any reliance upon him for salvation must needs be presumptuous and unwarrantable?

2. In reference to that other part of cunning which the devil uses principally towards our wills or affections, as

1. By suggesting to us the pleasures and profits of this world, in their lustre: and by perswading us to doubt of the future.

1. We must deliberately consider of the great vanity and transitorinesse of these present pleasures and profits: what price soever he sets upon them, Eccles. 1.2. Solomon tells us, they are vanitie of vanities: and our own experience may confirm us in this belief: How many do we see and hear of daily, that are taken away in the midst of their enjoyment of them? and how certain is it that all must leave them? and what comfort can they afford a man when his soul is call'd for? who can carry any of these things along with him? or what profit will then accrue to a man of all these enjoyments? will they not all then be gone as a shadow, & be as though [Page 16]they never had been? and will it not be a miserable exchange, to enjoy for a few dayes the sweetnesse of these, and then for ever afterwards to lie down in hell, under eternal anguish and vexation? for such indeed (if we may believe the word) is certain to be the condition of those that so esteem and follow these worldly pleasures and profits, as for the enjoyment of them willingly to neglect any of the Commandments of God.

2. We must answerably labour to settle our minds in a steady belief of those fu­ture, though yet unseen, pleasures men­tion'd in the Gospel: by considering, to­gether with the greatnesse and lasting­nesse of them, those infallible grounds wheron we may certainly expect the per­formance of them. God, that cannot lie, hath promised them; the Son of God, that knew no sin, hath been the publisher of them, and by his miracles and death confirm'd them; and is already, as our forerunner, gone to take possession of them, and has now fully put into his hands the power of dispensing them to us; the Apostles, and many others since, have willingly laid down their lives, and so parted with all the comforts of this world [Page 17]at once, out of a certain belief and ex­pectation of them; And that, which is (as it were) a continued standing miracle till our dayes, The Jews, that were once Gods peculiar people, but became Christs profest and implacable enemies, for their rejecting of him, and so together with him, that doctrine with he so taught and confirmed, remain still under the vi­sible marks of Gods displeasure; being banisht out of that land wherein he by his own Hand had miraculously plac't them, and so continue a dispersed, igno­minious, and hated people.

2. The devil uses for making his sug­gestions more effectual, to make use of the examples, and it may be the perswa­sions of worldly men. The way of god­linesse he represents to us, as a forlorn, so­litary way (so as they of Rome have used to represent our Church) that has but a few travailers in it: the other, he shews us to be a way much beaten; multitudes, droves of all sorts going on in it: and why then should we affect to be singular? why should we not rather go along with the crowd; venture, and fare as well as they do?

Against this artefice of his, we must [Page 18]get our minds possest with an ill opinion of the world, of the fashions and uses of it, in respect of religion: and it is not uncharitablenesse, but wisdom for us so to do. S. John tells us, that the whole world lies in wickednesse, or [...], in the wicked one: 1 John 5.19 he is called the Prince of it; the greatest part whereof willing­ly do him service: and that because his service is so easie and pleasing to the flesh for the present; it is nothing for the sub­stance of it, but to pamper the flesh, to seek and set our mindes and employ our care about those things that this world affords, that are here to be had. What marvel then is it, considering the incli­nations of men to these things, if the greatest part every where are such as he would have them; fulfilling his will, while they so satisfie their own desires: and so be very unfit examples for any hereupon to conform unto? yea those that would provide securely for their souls, must so far avoid this snare of the devil, as not only to think it unsafe for them to go along with the World, that is, the greatest part, in their fashions and courses, but even to think themselves bound to go against the stream, to aim at [Page 19]such a singularity, as is quite opposite to this general practise. Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed in the renewing of your mindes: Rom. 12.2. Phil. 3.20. Jam. 4.4. and our con­versation is in heaven, that is, the heart of a right Christian is there set. Whereas the most, whom the Prophet calls the men of this world (as having no other portion, that is, of good things, Psal. 17.14. to re­ceive, but what they enjoy here) have their hearts set upon earthly things.

2. The devil may perhaps make use of the perswasions of others, such as are in appearance, and it may be in their inten­tions, friends; to draw those off, that are entred into the way of godlinesse, and have broken his snare: thus he did make use of Peter to Christ; and thus many times (no doubt) he does of those, that in their carnal affections wish others well perhaps: putting into their mouths such words as these, what needs all this ado? why should you trouble your selves with so much reading, or praying, or meditating, or conferring together, cannot you con­tent your selves as others do, with what is done in publike? what necessity is there, that you should be so precise in your carriage, so scrupulous and circum­spect [Page 20]in your words? do not you think that others as wise as you, that make no such matter of these things?

Thus, I doubt not but many times it falls out. But whosoever you are that are thus assaulted, and thus set upon, to have you abate of your zeal and care about the things of the kingdom of Heaven, (which hath need of all helps, in this cold and frozen world, for encreasing it) you are to look upon the persons employed in this work (though they be as near to you as Peter was to Christ, yea though it should be one that lies in your bosom) as the instruments of Satan, that is, such as (at least, unwittingly) are his instru­ments, doing that which tends truly to your destruction: and therefore let it be your care, that the love you have to the parties, or the apprehension of that which they bear to you, corrupt you not so far (as easily it may) as to make you hearken to such counsels, in abating of the performance of those duties, which are so necessary. You are to remember that lesson of our Saviours in this case, If any man hate not father and mother he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14.26

3. As the devil is cunning, so is he [Page 21]also cruel; one that not only makes use of gentle and flattering means, but also of rough and harsh usage; and therefore we must fit out preparation hereunto also.

We must inure our selves beforehand to hardness, 2 Tit. 2.3. Thou therefore as a good souldier of Jesus Christ, endure hardness: Souldiers, when they enter into the field, or come to be ingag'd, are forced to indure much hardness; cold, and wet, and hard lodging, and to be content with course and scant dyet: and therefore, they that are de­sirous to approve themselves good soul­diers indeed in this kinde, will be ordi­narily so wise as to innure themselves be­fore-hand to some such hardship; at least, those that have the command and go­vernment of them, will not suffer them to spend their time in ease and idlenesse, or in the softning pleasures of feasting and delicate feeding.

The like wisdom is requir'd in us: we are sure through the opposition of this great adversary, to meet with hardnesse, troubles within, or without or both; and therefore we must prepare our selves before-hand for this hardnesse, by wil­lingly undergoing some hardnesse at pre­sent.

Now by this hardnesse, I mean nothing else, but the doing of those things which are naturally hard and unpleasing to us, together with the crossing our selves in those things which our sensual part car­ries us to.

1. That which I understand by the former, is the constant and continued u­ses of these Christian exercises of prayer, meditation, exhortation, and sometimes fasting: all which are commonly (espe­cially at first) ungrateful to the flesh, but very requisite for hardning it, and making it serviceable to the spirit, and so for strengthening of us to hold out in this Warfare.

2. That which I understand by the lat­ter, namely, by crossing our selves in those things which our sensual part carries us to, 'tis not any Stoical irrational opposing of our desires, in the use of things which the temper of our bodily constitution re­quires, and which God hath allowed us so far to satisfie: but it is the inordinate­nesse of these desires, which many times are very pleasing, and therefore hard to be moderated: and such are the desires of revenge, or of expressing anger, or ha­tred: which we are so far to oppose in [Page 23]our selves, by the Law of Christ, as not only not to wish or take pleasure in any evil that befalls him that hath done us wrong, or is our profest enemie, but e­ven truly to wish and seek his good.

And in regard of this kinde of hard­nesse it is, that our Christian duties are exprest by such names as imply a kinde of violence to be used against our selves; Col. 3.5. Gal. 5.24. Matth. 5.29.30. as mortifying our earthly members: cru­cifying the flesh: pulling out the right eye, cutting off the right hand, &c.

And by this crossing our selves in this kinde, by subduing that anger or pride, or covetousnesse, or other the like sen­sual affection that is yet in us, we shall take out the sting from all other crosses, that the devil by any of his instruments can bring upon us.

Lastly, one thing not the least effectual to prepare thee for this hardnesse, so as to make thee go thorough with thy Christi­an Warfare, will be, to settle this perswa­sion in thy self, namely, that though thou mayest certainly by so going on, promise thy self victory in the end, and also or­dinarily much comfort for the present, even in the exercises of religion, or keep­ing Gods commandments, according to that [Page 24]of the Psalmist, in keeping of them there is great reward: & a hundred fold now in this present time is promised by our Saviour: Psal. 19.11 Mark 10.30 yet thou must expect through this adver­saries means, several rubs and discourage­ment; to be now and then cast in thy way; and that, not onely by the re­proaches and persecutions of others, but (which is most bitter and dangerous of all) some perplexing distracting thoughts within thy self, so that all thy sense of pleasure shall be taken away; and that course which hitherto thou hast gone on in, shall appear in thy own apprehension, not only tedious, but an unprofitable and uncomfortable course. This (I say) thou art to reckon of afore-hand, that thou mayest be the better prepared for it, and not think it any strange thing, when thou findest thy self in this case.

Only, when it is so with thee, thou must temember still, to hold fast the con­clusion, Psal. 74.1. that God is good to them that fear him: Rom. 4.18. to believe in hope against hope, and against sense of what thou feelest, for the present: though he hide his face for a a while, he will again shew him­self, if thou continuest to look for him in well doing. And therefore, if he shall [Page 25]stay, wait for him, for he will certainly come, and will not tarry; not tarry be­yond his own appointed time, Heb. 10.37. yea not beyond that time when his coming may be truly most for thy advantage: His withdrawing himself in this kinde, is but to try whether thou wilt wait, whether thy faith be of that temper which Abra­hams was of, to believe beyond sense; whether, with the Prophet, Isai. 30.18. thou wilt say, I will seek the Lord that hideth his face from me.

Now for the time of fighting, two things are required, 1. A good Eye. 2. A good Heart.

1. A Christian souldier must have a good Eye; and the goodnesse of it con­sists in these two qualities.

1. It is to be a waking, or a Watchful Eye: a souldier that is surpriz'd with sleep, when the enemie is near him, may be knockt in the head before he awa­kens. Now our enemie is alwayes neer us, and ready at hand, to watch advantages against us: 1 Pet. 5.8. He walks up and down seeking whom he may devour. Are we alone? he is busie to possesse us with foolish and hurtful thoughts; are we in company? he is ready to intangle us in vain and idle [Page 26]words, to make us partakers, or at least countenancers of others in their sins: are we employed in good actions, as in pray­ing, or giving alms? he is at hand, if he cannot hinder us from them, to make them so performed by us, as they may be unacceptable with God, and so unprofi­table to us; by putting into us wandring thoughts, and making us aim at vain glory.

Therefore we can be no longer safe from his assaults, then we continue watch­ful. Its that lesson which our Saviour hath commanded to all, Mar. 13.37 I say watch: our mindes are still to be intent for the avoid­ing sin, or the occasions of it: this only can make us secure. To be confident we shall hold out, or be able to withstand the opposition of this great adversary, without this watchfulness, its all one as if a souldier should shut his eyes, when he is in conflict: whereby it is certain, that as he cannot see the danger he is in, so neither can he use that means, that is otherwise in his power, for preventing his being surpriz'd with it.

2. A clear or piercing and discerning Eye, that is, that we be able to see the things without us (which the devil uses [Page 27]to employ against us) in their true nature, so as to see through those false glosses whereby he represents them to us. Now the things he thus represents, are the pleasures and profits of the World: the former he represents to us as he did the forbidden fruit to Eve, Gen. 3.6. as things pleasing to the eyes, such as have a great deal of present delight in the use of them; in the mean time labouring to hide, as he did from her, the following bitterness; the remorse of conscience, the griving the spirit of God, the exposing our selves to the dan­ger of his wrath, which all inordinate and unlawfull pleasures are necessarily ac­companied with. The latter he sets forth as things of high esteem in the world, and such as will make us live in credit with men; such as will give us much comfort in the enjoyment, and secure us from those reproaches and difficulties that men without them are ordinarily exposed to: but here again, he labours to keep from our notice and considerati­on the thorny cares that attend them, the inability that is in them to give us any comfort, when we have most need of it; the certainty of leaving them, and that (it may be) at such a time when we [Page 28]least think of it, and our hearts are most set upon them; and especially, the danger that is in them of depriving us of the kingdom of heaven, if either they be by any unjust means attain'd, or our care in getting & keeping of them make us neg­lect (as easily they may, and ordinarily they do) the things of the kingdom of Heaven, and the righteousnesse thereof. Here then, I say, there is need of a pier­cing Eye in the Christian souldier, Ephes. 4.22 Matt. 13.22. to see the deceitfulnesse of these pleasures, and the deceitfulnesse of these riches (for such deceitfulness is ascrib'd to both) to ap­prehend and consider in an even ballance, together with the present appearing commodities and advantages, the fol­lowing evils, that is, the dangers and disadvantages that attend both: which if we truly do, we will certainly see no cause, whatever lustre the devil presents them in, to dote or set our hearts so far upon them, as to think them worthy the least sin, to purchase or enjoy them.

2. The second thing required in the time of fighting is a good heart. A soul­dier that desires to approve himself, will not shrink back at the appearance or ap­proach of danger; not be appaled to see [Page 29]another bleed, or die before him; those that should do so, will never bring cre­dit to themselves, nor any real advantage to that cause or party they serve.

Now this courage is especially here re­quired: they must be no faint, or soft­hearted persons, that will resolve to maintain war against the devil, against so cruel an adversary: He will be sure to at­tempt the raising of Storms; to present bonds, or poverty, or death before thine eyes, if he see thee bent to go on: and though by Gods over-ruling power (who has him still in his chain) he may be restrained from actually bringing any of these upon thee, yet thou canst be no longer fafe, then thou art prepared be­fore-hand, with courage and resolution to go on, notwithstanding all these. Revel. 21.8 The fearful are all excluded from having any part in that inheritance that we all desire, and the devil labours to deprive us of: and our Saviour expresly requires in this case, that we hate our own lives, Luke 14.26. John 12.25. and tell us, that by seeking to save our life, we shall lose it. Job 2.4. Now this ('tis true) is no easie matter for flesh and blood: Skin for skin, and all that a man hath will he give for his life; such courage is not a [Page 30]thing that growes naturally in us: we are all, of our selves, like the Apostles, when yet they had not received that power from on high, and therefore for­sook their Master, and fled from him; yea, we are apt with Peter to seek some base unworthy shift to save our selves, when such dangers threaten us, and there­fore have need of all the helps that may be, for strengthing our selves, and work­ing us up to this temper and resolution: and such certainly there are that will be effectual for this end.

For the fuller manifestation of this, I shall shew these three things.

1. What is more particularly to be meant by this good heart.

2. That as others heretofore have had it, so there is a possibility and grounds for us still to expect it.

3. What particular means are requir'd for obtaining it.

1. Touching the first, we are to take notice, that it is not that which dwells naturally in any man, but that which is supernatural, and derived from God: that is, a divine power elevating a man (as it were) above himself, whereby he is enabled with strength and courage actu­ally [Page 31]to perform and undergo such things, as cannot be done with meer humane strength; namely, to persist in the way of godlinesse, and obedience to God; notwithstanding all the difficulties and discouragements that the devil or the world shall cast into it, as extraordinary vexations, and reproaches, and losse of goods, or liberty, or life it self.

This then which enables a man to this, is not any thing in Nature; this will be still favourable to it self, and not willing to venture on those things which are contrary to it, and tend to the destru­ction of it: it is onely that which is called the finger of God, Luk. 11.20 24.49. Col. 1.11. or power from on high, or the might of his glorious power; in brief, it is onely the Spirit of God, that is, a divine power stampt or im­printed in the heart of man.

2. Now for the second, that there is truely such a power derivable to men, may appear hence: namely, from the many several experiments, Acts that the world has had in this kinde, especially from the examples of the Apostles, and others in the primitive times.

The Apostles we finde, at first, while Christ was here on earth, very fearful up­on [Page 32]on the appearance of danger: Peter de­nied and forswore his Master, and they all forsook him and fled; but immediately after they had received this power from on high, they spake the word withall bold­nesse; being beaten, they went away re­joycing Acts 4.29. Acts being in the stocks, they sang praises; being encompassed with infir­mities, and reproaches, and persecutions, they took pleasure in them, 1 Cor. 12.10 Phil. 4.13. and could do all things through Christ strengthning them, that is, by his Spirit.

And thus we finde, that not only they, but persons also of inferiour quality and condition, did in effect the same things: the Thessalonians suffered the like things, 1 Thes. 2.14 of their own Countrey-men, as the Churches of Judea did of the Jews, which sure were many bitter troubles and re­proaches: and yet they went on with that undauntedness in the practise of god­liness, 2 Thes. 1.4. that the Apostle sayes, we our selves glory in you, in the Churches of God, for your patience and faith in the tribulations and persecutions that you endure.

And to both these may be added the testimonies which the Church-Records afford, both concerning these, and other Christians immediately succeeding, about [Page 33]their forwardnesse in most cheerfully un­dergoing most bitter and cruel deaths for the profession of the Gospel.

But it may perhaps be imagined, that this courage and heart they had, was of the same nature with those other things, that were miraculous, & peculiar to those times, as miracles, tongues, prophecies, &c. and therefore not now to be expected.

In answer to which, I shall shew you, that this is not so, but that there may be still from the goodnesse of God expected the same Divine Spirit, to carry men through all difficulties with some mea­sure of cheerfulnes, in the service of God.

There are several reasons to prove this, 1. Some general promises of this Spirit, considered with the grounds and reasons of them: as

1. Luke 11. from verse the fifth to verse the thirteenth, where it is said, If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father, give the holy Spirit to them that ask him? 2. The reason whereby our Saviour here demonstrates, that God will give the holy Spirit to them that ask him, is no other but this, constant and importunate prayers, put up by such per­sons [Page 34]unto God, as because of their faith and unfeigned study of piety, may be ac­counted his children: wch sure agrees no less to these, then to the primitive times.

2. Christ sayes, simply and indistinctly, He that believes in me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, John 7.37.John 7.37. which in the following verse is expounded of the Spi­rit: where it is plain, that Christ pro­miseth to believers, and that as a reward of their faith, the gift of the Spirit, and therefore sure upon this ground it may be still sued for, and expected by those that are truly such, as well in these as in former times.

3. Christ promiseth to them that love him, that is, that keep his words, (for so he himself there expoundeth this love) to manifest himself unto them, John 14.21.John 14.21. and afterward V. 23. that the Father will love them, and both He and the Father will come, and make their abode with them, that is, by the Spirit, for that is the thing there treated on.

Seeing then, that men in these times are capable of loving of Christ, and of rendring obedience to his words, accord­ing as they are expresly obliged there­unto, [Page 35]it appears hence, that the holy Spi­rit, which is promised by way of reward to such persons, may be expected by those that are such also in these times.

And to these testimonies may be added that opposition, wch is made & recorded by all the Evangelists, betwixt Johns bapti­zing with water, and Christs baptizing with the Spirit: whence it may be col­lected, that as John did dip with water all his disciples that came to him, and de­sired to be baptized of him, so Christ doth endue with the holy Spirit his disci­ples, desiring to be baptized of him, and by ardent and incessant prayers begging so excellent a gift from him.

2. It hath been still usuall with all Christians, both in their publike and pri­vate devotions to pray for the holy Spirit, that God would give it to them: which sure, if it had been a gift peculiar to the first times, like as those other of mira­cles, that are now ceased, all Christians since, even the most godly, that have been, might be accused of great errour and ignorance, in asking that of God which they had no grounds to expect: like as if one should now petition him, to give him the power of doing miracles, or speaking with tongues.

[Page 36]3. The principal end for which the holy Spirit was given heretofore to men in the primitive times, and the cause why it was given for that end, hath place still in these times: namely, that men to whom it was given, might assuredly come to the salvation promised in the Gospel, by being fully confirmed in the belief of it, and going on unweariedly in the way that leads to it: We had need now, in reference to these ends, to have our mindes illustrated or inlightned, even after we have heard and received the word of Christ, no lesse then they who heretofore had entertained the belief of it, Eph. 1.17, 18 and yet still needed the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that they might clearly discern the mysteries of Christian religi­on; we have need still of prudence in managing our actions, especially such as are very doubtful and difficult; we have need of fortitude in dangers, strength and patience in afflictions, joy in outward mi­series and calamities, and fervour in pray­ers; all which are immediate effects of the holy Spirit, not only conducing, but also necessary for that great end, the sal­vation of our souls. And therefore the holy Spirit which can only produce them [Page 37]in us, may be still from the wisdom and goodnesse of God assuredly expected.

There was, it is true, a promise, and ac­cordingly an exhibition of the holy Spirit, that was peculiar to the Apostles times, betwixt which, and that which is ex­tended to these times, we are to conceive these differences:

1. The former was usually for the manner and manifestation of it visible and conspicuous, so that the effects there­of, being wholly miraculous, might be clearly discern'd, and acknowledged by others for such; but this latter is invisible, exercising its vertue upon the mindes of those that are possest with it so as others cannot certainly, or ordinarily discern it.

2. The former was not so much for the particular good of the persons, upon whom it was conferred, as for the pub­like benefit of others, and the confir­mation of the doctrine of the Gospel, whilst it was yet new in the world, but this latter is for the singular benefit of the persons themselves, upon whom it is con­ferred, as namely for supplying them with courage under persecution, joy in afflictions, and the like, as hath been shewed before; things which will be al­wayes [Page 38]necessary to bring men unto Hea­ven, and therefore that, without which they cannot be had, namely the holy Spi­rit, may still upon the forementioned grounds be certainly expected.

3. Now touching the third thing pro­sed, namely, what are the means requir'd for gaining this holy Sprit, or, as we have formerly exprest it, that good heart which is requisite in the Christian souldier, though it sufficiently appear from what hath been said, that it is derived from a­bove, and so that there is nothing in us to produce it in our selves, yet it hath been also intimated, that it uses not to be conferred at random and promiscuously, there is something on our part required to make us capable of receiving it; as

1. It is requisite that we ask it, and that not seldom or superficially, but fre­quently, and importunately, after the example of the importunate widow, or of him that at midnight went to solicite his friend, Luke 11.6. by both which parables our Saviour would intimate to us, that we are to be earnest and incessant in our prayers for this divine gift; that we are not to lay aside our care, or give over our seeking in this kinde, if we meet not [Page 39]presently with an answerable return; God doth in the granting of this, as of other inferiour blessings, seem and shew him­self, as if he heard not, as if he were one that took no notice of our requests, and that on purpose to make us call loud­er, to express more fervency and impor­tunity: and therefore we are to see that our prayers be thus qualified; that they be not faint desires, or the labour of the lips, but strong and deep cries of the heart, and being so, we may and ought with confidence support our selves, that in the end we shall obtain what we thus desire; considering what our Saviour hath told us, that God will give to them that ask him.

2. But then we must see also that we be such persons as the holy spirit is pro­mised to, and have grounds to expect upon this importunity the grant of their requests.

All whosoever shall ask, and ask im­portunately, have not this promise made to them. God tells us of some, Prov. 1.28. Isaiah 1.15. that should seek him early and should not finde him; and of others, that though they make many prayers, and stretch forth their hands, and cry with a loud voice, that is, very [Page 40]earnestly and importunately, yet he will not hear them.

This promise is made only by our Sa­viour (as hath been shown before) to those that believe, to such as love him and keep his Commandments: and hereupon S. James tells us, that it is not only fer­vent prayer, Jam. 5.16. but the fervent prayer of a righteous man that availeth much.

We must then see that we be such per­sons, such believers, and lovers of Christ and righteous ones, or else God will say, what hast thou to do to make any such request, to expect any such divine and glorious gift to be conferred on thee?

Yea indeed, so long as any sin, or the love of any unrighteousnesse is lodged in thy soul; thou art not only unworthy, but uncapable of so divine a guest: The world (saith Christ; wherby he there more especially means those that refused to be­lieve in him upon the hearing of his words, and beholding of his actions) cannot receive the spirit of truth, John 14.17because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him; that is, though the H. Spirit did clearly shine and manifest it self in Christ, both in his di­vine words, and admirable works which [Page 41]he wrought, yet the world was not wil­ling to see and take notice of it, and there­fore made it self incapable of receiving the Spirit: whereas the Apostles, & some others not shutting their eyes against it, but willingly discerning and acknow­ledging the manifestations thereof in him, became subjects truly capable of it, and accordingly had it there promised, that it should be in them. John 14.17. men do not use to pour some pretious and costly liquour into an unclean and filthy vessel, much lesse can it become the good­nesse and wisdom of Almighty God, so to do, to pour this spirit, Esay 61.3. Acts 10.38. which is called the oyl of gladnesse, having in it a streng­thening and exhilarating faculty to carry on those with pleasure through the midst of dangers and difficulties, that enjoy it; to pour it (I say) into their hearts that have the filthinesse of some sin or other still lodging in them.

No; thou must sweep diligently all the corners of thy soul, cleansing thy self from all filthinesse of flesh and spirit, be­fore thou canst be a fit temple or habita­tion for this pure and divine spirit to come into; the persons to whom it was formerly given, were such as obeyed [Page 42]God, Acts 5.32. and the persons to whom we finde it is promised by our Saviour, are such as love and keep his command­ments: keep them constantly and univer­sally, not wittingly allowing themselves in the breach of one, so that by reason of such keeping, they may be called righte­ous persons, that is, such as make works of righteousnesse their trade and employ­ment; giving up or dedicating their mem­bers, Rom. 6.13. as weapons of righteousnesse unto God. Such, persons as are thus qualified, attain (as the Apostle speaks in another case) a good degree and much boldnesse in the faith: 1 Tim. 3.13 a good conscience, which is the inseparable attendant of such righte­ous walking, being of that vertue in it self, as to carry on a man with courage through many matters, in which others are often cast down with fears, and hence Solomon sayes, Prov. 28.1. the righteous is bold as a lion: but how much more must the bold­nesse of such persons be, when besides this testimonie of their own hearts (for the conscience is nothing else but that) there is added, as a reward thereof, and of their prayers in seeking it, this mighty power from on high; this divine vertue derived immediately from God, and [Page 43]stampt by his finger in the hearts of such?

But it may be objected: if we may not expect this Spirit of God, before we thus keep his commandments, what hopes can we have then, that we shall ever enjoy it? seeing that without the assistance of this Spirit, we cannot at all keep the commandments of God in that manner: and besides, if we may keep and do those things which God requires of us, before the coming of this spirit, what need will there be of his coming at all, or what cause can we have to de­sire it?

In answer to which I say there are two sorts of keeping the Commandments of God:

1. More imperfect, when the flesh is not throughly brought into subjection to the spirit, but the way of holiness even in the ordinary practises of it, as praying, meditating, repressing of anger, and the like, is in some manner still unpleasing and difficult to men, though these things be ordinarily performed by them; in which state so long as a man is, it can­not be expected that he should fully go through all difficulties, that in the ma­naging of this warfare he is liable unto.

[Page 44]2. There is a more perfect keeping of them, when a man does not only ordi­narily and constantly observe them, but does this with a kinde of pleasure and delight: the flesh, that is, the remainder of sensual affections which formerly made them somewhat harsh, and unpleasing, being after a manner fully mortified, and extinguished in him; so that he is per­fectly enabled to overcome all difficul­ties.

Now according to these two different degrees of keeping the Commandments of God, there is answerably to be con­ceived a different dispensation of the Spi­rit of God, or of the assistance of it, as the cause of either.

1. A general and more common and or­dinary assistance, such as usually goes a­long with the word, and is offered and obvious to all, that are not remisse and careless, but diligent and attentive hearers of it; and this is that which is sufficient to work that weaker temper of righte­ousnesse, before mentioned, in all that do not willfully oppose themselves against it.

2. A more speciall and extraordinary assistance, which is promised as a reward [Page 45]of this obedience, whereby a man is en­abled to do and undergo greater matters, then that ordinary assistance could enable him unto; and this is that which is here to be meant, being not to be expected (as not being promised to any others) but of such righteous persons, as we have formerly spoke of. They only that use that former talent well, so as to gain out of it, that stock of righteousnesse, which thereby they are enabled unto, are the persons which may expect, and are ca­pable to be trusted with this great talent, which will truly make them rich, and a­bounding in all good works.

Ye then, whose hearts are truly set to serve God; who sincerely desire and la­bour, and struggle with your selves to do his will in all things that are made known to you, but yet still finde failings in your selves, and some tediousnesse, and irk­somness in the doing those good things you perform, so that ye may perhaps hereupon think your selves utterly unable (if you should be put to it) to go through with those greater hardnesses, of losse of goods, liberty, life, &c. which you hear is required to come to the kingdom of God.

Let not this discourage or amate you, hold fast that whereunto you have at­tained; stand still, that is, persist still in such well-doing, and assuredly look for the salvation of God; continue your care, and give God no rest, but cry mightily and incessantly to him for his holy Spirit, this power from on high.

This is that which he hath reserv'd within his own power, to bestow it only upon those that thus seek for it in the way of righteousnesse; and this is that which he hath absolutely bound himself, sooner or later to give to such; and this is that which where it is given, will make the rough, plain, and the hard, easie, that is, so far change the nature of things, that both the sense of the present difficulties thou yet feelest, shall be taken away, and the terrour of those things which thou mayest apprehend as future, shall have no force at all upon thee: Let not then the experience thou hast had hitherto of thy own frailties, either make thee look back, and give over striving; or despair in time to attain to a greater perfection: this is that which thy great adversary, the devil, desires to work thee to, either to make thee from what thou at present [Page 47]feelest, to forsake the way of godlinesse, or stand at a stay in it.

Rest assured of this; that God can, and will in time make such things not on­ly possible, but also easie to thee (if in­deed thou persist in well-doing) as now seem unpossible, and are uncomfortable perhaps to thee to think of; and for seal­ing thee the more in this perswasion, con­sider, that as he hath bound himself by promise, so those infirmities that are yet in thee (if thy heart be indeed sincere, and thou truly labourest against them) they give him the more occasion for ma­nifesting this his power in thee; 2 Cor. 12.9. His strength is made perfect in weaknesse: those that are weak have most need of this help, and in such the glory of this power, and so the goodnesse and wisdom of God most manifestly appears, when by carrying them on through such hard­nesses, as are most troublesome and diffi­cult to flesh and blood; he layes open, as it were, this otherwise invisible vertue of his Almighty power; Esay 52.10 He makes bare his arm (as the Prophet speaks) to the eyes of men, so that it may clearly appear to be done by his strength, and so all the praise thereof must necessarily redound [Page 48]to him; and hereupon the Apostle, We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellencie of the power may be of God, 2 Cor. 4.7.and not of us: The earthliness or frailty of our condition, whereby we are natu­rally afraid to encounter with any diffi­culties and miseries, makes for the mag­nifying of this power which helps us in these infirmities; and the greater the dif­ficulties are, and the more unproportio­ned to our weakness, the more they serve to the honour of this power, and con­sequently God may be expected to be the more ready at such times for our sup­port.

Having thus far enlarged touching the courage that is required in our Christian Warfare, and the means for attaining it: I shall yet further in reference unto both, and to make us persist without fainting or declining in the course of godliness, commend to you three particular rules to be observed, as those which may be very serviceable and effectuall here­unto.

First to look upon steddily with the eye of faith, that glorious prize for which we fight, which God holds forth in his hands to encourage us; and which [Page 49]the devil by all means labours to keep out of our sight, and deprive us of:

It is that, then which God hath no­thing greater to bestow, nor we to desire, Matth. 5.12. Luke 12.33. 1 Cor. 9.25. 1 Pet. 5.10. Heb. 12.28. a great reward in Heaven, treasures that fail not, a rich and glorious inheritance an incorruptible crown, an eternal king­dom that cannot be shaken, in brief, a con­dition full of all good things, which our hearts can possibly imagine, or rather which is not possible for them to ima­gine.

2. It is most certain in it self, confirm'd to us (as the rest of his doctrine was) by Christs miracles, and blood, and his rising, and ascension into heaven, and many visi­ble missions of the holy Spirit thence, and further in a lesser degree, by those things which the Apostles did and suffered, by the sufferings of many others since, even unto our times, and by the present and long continued condition of the Jews.

3. It is assured onely to such as go through with this warfare, as not only fight, but fight it out unto the last: such as endure unto the end, that are faithfull to the death, only to such, and to all such, it is unquestionably assured.

Thus we are to represent this glorious [Page 50] prize to our selves, thus qualified and limited: which if we do, the very be­holding of it seriously and deliberately in this manner, cannot but derive strength and courage to us: what hardnesse and hazards will men willingly ingage them­selves in, when the hopes of wearing a crown, or enjoying a kingdom, is the lure to draw them on; though possibly they may perish in the venturing for it, or else not long enjoy it when they have gained it? what tedious difficulties, and adventures will others readily imbark themselves in, when the wealth of the In­dies is looked upon by them, as things by that means to be attained; though possi­bly (as the former) they may miscarry in the voyage, or not enjoy those things long after their return? yea, what pains will many take, and that in a manner con­stantly and continually, when that which is far less then a kingdom, or such wealth, is all the motive they have, namely some encrease of their stock, or fruitful return of the ground?

All these things (it is plain) have ver­tue in them to ingage men in very hard and difficult matters; And what then? shall we not think there is the same, or [Page 51]far greater vertue in this glorious prize to make men contend for it with hazards, difficulties and labour?

What is the cause that men are so bent upon these things? Is it not because they love them, and esteem them, and ear­nestly desire them, and see no other wayes of possibly coming to them? Do not those that fight and venture their lives for a Crown, know, that it is not with­out such fighting and venturing to be ob­tained? and do not those that ingage themselves in such long & hazardous voi­ages to the Indies, know that the riches that are there, are not otherwise to be come at? and is not in either of these the high opinion and ardent desire they have of these things, joyned with such a per­swasion, sufficient to ingage them (not­withstanding they cannot but know also the uncertainty of their successe) in such difficult undertakings? yea, do not you husbandmen know that however the season falls out, you must plow and sowe, and tend your cattle, or else you cannot expect your desired increase? and will any of you then fold your hands in your bosom, when there is some more then ordinary trouble to be undergone about [Page 52]these things? will you content your selves with wishing that these things may pro­sper? does not the knowledge you have of the necessity of your labour herein, and the high account you make of these things, make you willingly go through any sharpnesse of weather, or whatsoe­ver other difficulty in this kinde?

Consider then (I besiech you) seri­ously with your selves, whether there is not great reason to think, that this glo­rious reward held forth in the hands of Almighty God, and lookt upon as cer­tain in it self, and only attainable in the way of perseverance in well-doing; may not have the same course effectually to ingage you to go through all difficulties: But you (like as the most) are willing to think, that though these perishing good things cannot be got without toil & pains, and hazards; yet this rich and glorious inheritance may be attained without any such trouble, or difficulty; some wishes, or purposes, or languishing ineffectual fruit­lesse endeavours; some formall outward heartlesse devotion one day in the week shall be enough to secure you of it: But alas (Beloved) do not abuse your selves, or rather do not suffer the devil to abuse [Page 53]you, by possessing you with such under­valuing thoughts of this glorious rich reward; such as are indeed most corrupt and groundlesse, and will prove in the end certainly destructive to your souls: a souldiers life is made up of hardnesse and danger, and so is the Christian souldiers, though in another kinde: there is a con­stant discipline to be exercised, consisting in praying, and meditating, and exhort­ing, and watching, and mortifying the flesh; which is to be done by abridging your selves in many things that the sen­sual part inclines you to, though this a­bridging of your selves should be as harsh to you, as the pulling out of an Eye, or cutting off a hand: and there is courage required, not only to make you willing to fight, and encounter with dangers, and difficulties in the practise of godlinesse; but to carry you through them, and make you conquer them; without which, though you make never so good Essayes and beginnings, yet all will prove fruit­lesse and in vain: it is not he that begin­neth, but that endures to the end shall be saved; yea, not he that fighteth, but that conquereth, is promised to be crowned: to him that overcometh, I will give to eat [Page 54]of the tree of life that is in the midst of the paradise of my God: and he that over­cometh shall not be hurt of the second death: Revel. 2.7.11. And he that overcometh and keeps my words to the end, Rev. will give him power o­ver the nations: and him that overcometh I will give to sit on my throne, even as I have overcome, and have sit down on my Fathers throne.

Thus it is plain; there must be an actu­al overcoming of all hardships and diffi­culties that lie in our way to the crown of life, or else we cannot expect it; and in this there is a difference betwixt the Christian souldier, and other souldiers; these, though they are bound to fight, yet they are not bound to overcome, because it may be impossible for them, though they use all possible strength and courage; but we are bound to overcome, as well as to fight; and this implies that both these are in a manner alike possible and certain; the reason whereof is this, that so long as we fight in this warfare, we have an almighty power assisting us, and backing us out, and carrying us on, so that it is impossible that any thing should be too strong for us: but this, I say, is only so long as we fight, or are willing and re­solved [Page 55]to do so, that we have this Al­mighty Power, the Lord of hosts thus strengthning us: He does not dowith his souldiers, as some Generals or Captains sometimes use to do with theirs, thrust them on against their wills: no; as he needs not, so he scorns to have any such service done him, and much more to force any himself to do it. Those that are fearful to go on, or willing to de­part from this warfare, they must not look to be compelled by him; He cares for none but a willing people, such as are truly willing and resolved to use that strength they have in this warfare; and such persons as are thus disposed, may assuredly reckon, not only to finde daily more strength, but also certainty to over­come in th [...] end, through his Almighty assistance: & to make us thus willing and resolved, and so prepared for this assi­stance, the very beholding of this prize, cannot but be an effectual means.

2. Look upon those that have gone before us in this warfare: what extremi­ties, and difficulties have many of the most eminent servants of God been cast upon, and how cheerfully have they gone through them? some have had [Page 56]tryal of cruel mockings, and scourgings, and bonds, and imprisonment; others stoned,Heb. 11.36.slain with the sword; Few, but (especially in the primitive times) were persecuted for that, for which they chief­ly ought to have been honoured; and yet they held fast their integrity, and none of those things moved them: they supported themselves under all with the hopes of this kingdom, which they knew could not be come at, without going through with these difficulties, and which being once attained, would infi­nitely transcend, and make amends for all: and what are we then, that we should fancie to our selves a way to this kingdom made up of ease and softnesse, and de­light? that God should allow us as it were a paradise here, consisting in the pleasing of our selves, and walking in the wayes of our own heart, and doing what is right in our own eyes; and then bestow on us another, that is, a true and far more glo­rious paradise hereafter?

'Tis true, we are not through the mer­cies of God called to encounter with such hardships, as they were put upon, but we know not what we may be, and we can be no longer sure, nor safe, then we [Page 57]are in readinesse, and still preparing our selves for them, that is, martyres in prae­paratione animi: and this we are alwayes called unto, to be dying daily in our selves, to exercise a kinde of cruelty (but indeed a mercie to our souls) in killing all inordinate lusts; in curbing and con­tradicting our selves in that which the bent of our hearts, and stream of this world carry us to; in practising the du­ties of godlinesse commended to us in the word, how much soever against the hair, or what disrepute, or disadvantage soe­ver they draw upon us from the world.

This was that which these forementi­oned worthies were well exercised in, be­fore they came to these harsher encoun­ters; and without this, they had never been able to have suffered what they did, but the doing of these things upon them­selves, pulled out the sting from those evils, that were in the power of others to inflict on them: and thus can we on­ly prepare our selves for this enduring of the like things which they did; thus on­ly manifest our selves to have a commu­nion with them, to be members of that body, which they belong to, and where­of Christ is the head: we must thus far [Page 58]at least suffer with them, or else we shall not be glorified with them: Christ hath no disp [...]oportioned members in this bo­die of his, not some that have the tu­mours of the flesh, bred by the sensual desire that remain in them; and others that are spiritual persons, being truly cleansed from all such carnal impostumes, as having that killed in them, that bred these in them; not some that live after the flesh, and others that live after the Spirit; Gal. 6.1. Rom. 8.1. but all such as are his, are truly spiritual persons, and walk accordingly, that is, after the spirit.

3. Look upon the Captain of our sal­vation, our Lord Jesus Christ: look up­on him so, as not only to behold him, as gone before thee, but as one now that eyes thee from Heaven; that sets him­self to observe how thou demeanest thy self: it is said, that Caesars Eye made his souldiers valiant, and so its found by ex­perience, that the eye of the General, or some great Officer, carries on some be­yond that which otherwise of themselves they would not enterprize: how much more may the Eye of this General incou­rage thee, seeing it is not onely in his power to reward thee, but even at this [Page 59]distance, to derive influence into thee? yea, he looks upon thee for this end; and not only so, but he purposely hereto­fore led that way himself, that is, he was made perfect through sufferings, that he might be the more ready to succour them that suffer or are tempted, having been in all things tempted as we are, Heb. 2.10.4. 15, 16. and hereup­on we are exhorted to come boldly to the throne of grace.

Oh then whatsoever conflict we shall be ingaged in for gaining this crown, let us remember, that this our glorious Ca­ptain looks down from heaven upon us, not only to observe us, but to help us; though the help which we are to reckon of, and ordinarily to expect from him, is to be of the same kind with that which he found himself when he was here on earth, and that is, to be supported in our sufferings, and not to be exempted from them; his strength being to be mani­fested in our weaknesse, by enabling us to bear, and go through with the evils and adversities of the world; and not simply to decline or avoid them: let us then under the pressure of any such evils lift up our eyes towards Heaven, as Saint Stephen did, we shal see, though not in the [Page 60]same manner with him, Christ standing ready at the right hand of God, armed with power and affection sutable, being a priest for ever, Heb. 7.21. to succour, and support, and carry us on; and this sure being ad­ded to the former, may well be a means to get courage in us, and make us valiant; to consider (I say) that this our great Ca­ptain and Saviour both looks upon us, and is so able and ready to succour us.

And thus I have finished the first part of this Discourse touching the na­ture of our Christian Warfare.

Sect. 2.

The second is to be concerning the Weapons belonging to this Warfare, as they are here generally describ'd.

First Negatively, that they are not carnal.

Secondly, Affirmatively, that they are mighty through God.

1. Touching the first, we are to take notice here, that there are several sorts of weapons, which may be called carnal.

1. Such as tend directly to the destru­ction of the flesh, that is, of these carnal bodies whereof we consist; such as are Swords, and Guns, and the like.

2. Such as as are in the power of the flesh to use, and ordinarily are made use of by [Page 61]the wisdom and direction of the flesh, though not directly tending to any such destructive effects, as the former.

That the weapons belonging to this Warfare, as they were managed by Saint Paul, and other Christians in the primi­tive times, were not de facto carnal in the first sense is well enough known, and acknowledged generally by all: that it was de jure, that they were not so, and so that they ought still not to be carnal in this manner, may appear from these fol­lowing considerations.

1. From the condition of the place we fight for, it is no carnal paradise, no earthly Canaan; such, as others may an­ticipate us in the possession of, and so by violence keep us out; but it is the hea­venly Jerusalem, the citie of the living God; a place sufficiently capacious of all that desire to come to it, and alike im­possible for any by the immediate or na­tural force of these carnal weapons or vi­olence to be kept from it, as it is to be gained by the use of any such means: yea, the attempting of violence against the servants of God in this kind, & even the killing of them because they are such, sends them but the sooner and surer thi­ther: [Page 62]sufferings and not actions of this nature, being the condition of our future reigning in glory. Rom. 8.17. Rom. 8.17.

2. From the nature of the enemies we fight against: they are (saith the Apostle Eph. 6.12.) not flesh and blood, but prin­cipalities and powers, and the rulers of the darknesse of this world,Eph. 6.12.and spiritual wic­kednesses in high places. What shall ma­terial Swords or Guns do towards the annoying or repelling such enemies? spi­rits (all know) are not capable of being hurt or wounded; and these are the ene­mies (as we are here told) that we have to deal with, such as are wholly invisible, and immaterial, and therefore must ac­cordingly be encountred with weapons and armour sutable, that is, such as are truly spiritual, and are at large set down and commended to us in the same place, from verse 13. to 19.

Tis true; men that consist of flesh and blood, are often the instruments of these spiritual adversaries; and that, as by o­ther means, as counselling, and perswa­ding and the like; so by applying these carnal destructive weapons to batter our faith, and turn us by the force of them out of the way to Heaven; but yet in so [Page 63]doing, they are but still the visible instru­ments of these invisible and principal a­gents, whose efficacie therefore in this kinde is not to be repelled by any the like carnal weapons, for in doing, or rather attempting to do this, that is, to represse one violence and carnal hostility by an­other, we lay our selves more open to these grand enemies; yea, we thereby plainly declare, that we have received those wounds, which by this means they labour to inflict on us, namely, a violating of our faith, an extinction, or at least a di­minution of that Heroick Charity, and meeknesse, and patience, which are abso­lutely required in us, and without which we cannot attain the end of our warfare, the salvation of our Souls; which points me to the third reason.

3. And it is taken from the Laws, that are prescribed to be necessarily observed by us in the managing of our warfare, and as parts of it; all which may be reduced and epitomiz'd into that royal one of Cha­rity, which our great Agonothetles, the Captain General of our warfare hath at once exemplified in his practise, and im­posed on us by his doctrine; it is such a charity, as is to be for the object of it, [Page 64] universal; Enemies, who of all men have the least right to it, are to be par­takers of it, and it is to be for the con­tinuance and exercises of it, constant and unwearied; such as no injuries must be able to change or overcome; if our ene­mies be such as set upon us with curses, the return we are to make, Matth 5.44 Rom. 12.14, 17, 19, 20, 21 is blessing of them; if they be such, as prosecute us with an inward hatred, bearing altoge­ther a hostile minde against us, we are to requite, and so labour to overcome them, by doing them good; if lastly they be such as by their actions are truly damageable and hurtful to us, using us despitefully, and persecuting of us, then, though hereby they declare themselves to be the most pestilent, and worst sort of enemies, we are to recompence them with one of the best offices which we can possibly do for them, and that is, pray unto God for them, in whose hands are all things, and who can, not only confer on them innu­merable benefits, which are not in our power, but is also able to change their hearts, and to make them of evil become good.

These are to be the emanations of that divine love, which the Captain of our [Page 65]Faith hath commended unto all those, that will fight under him, or by his ex­ample, and he hath commended them by such a reason, as showes at once, the e­quity and necessity of them, saying, that you may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven, Matth. 5.41for he maketh the Sun to shine on, &c. whereby he in effect tells us, that we can only by thus doing, be­come the Sons of God, that is, so as men are capable of being his sons here, in this life, by imitation and similitude of good­nesse; and as it is design'd, they shall be hereafter his sons by partaking of immor­tality, and his eternal inheritance; where­as if our love be of a lower pitch, so as to love them only that love us, and do good to them of whom we have already received, or hope to receive the like a­gain, we are but like other men, or even like Publicans, a sort of sinfull and infa­mous persons, who did as much, and therefore are to expect no greater re­ward, then they were to receive.

This then being the disposition, where­with the Christian souldier is to look up­on his carnal enemie (against whom these carnal weapons can only be useful) that is, with a heart full of love, so as to mani­fest [Page 66]it self in the most genuine and profi­table effects of it, as blessing, and doing good to, and praying for him, and that e­ven when his enmity is at the highest pitch, expressing it self in despiteful usage and persecution; what warrant, or occa­sion can he have for employing these carnal weapons, namely swords and guns, and other such mortal instruments to the destruction of others? can the imployment of these in this way be possibly reconciled with the former love, and expressions of it, that are so indispensably required of us? is there any evidence or effect of en­mitie greater, which it is possible for man to execute, then what is hereby acted, namely the killing of mens bodies, or de­priving them of their present lives and being.

Sure we may well think, what ever credit at present, the use of these weapons are in, or whatever worldly advantages may be or are ordinarily gain'd by the use of them, that it can neither be honorable, nor safe for the Christian souldier that professes to fight under Christ, and for the kingdom of Heaven to make use of them in this warfare; seeing in so doing he must needs act against that royal law [Page 67]of Love, which this our great Captain hath imposed on all his souldiers invio­lably to be observed; and consequently forfeit his hopes and title to that place for which he pretends to fight, as having violated the condition that is necessarily required for coming thereunto.

2. Now touching the second sort of carnal weapons before mentioned, namely such as are in the power of the flesh to use, and are ordinarily made use of by the direction of this part, that is, by the appointment of that carnal wisdom which is in men; we mean hereby more particularly humane eloquence, Chrysost. i [...] locum.and rea­soning, holding out worldly allurements, as some present rewards of riches and honours, or some other way using of flattering perswasions, or contrarily threat­nings, or worldly penalties, as deprivation of liberty, or goods, or the like: all which as weapons have power to pierce, and make impression on mens mindes, in one kind or other: and all these the Apostle here disclaims, as things that he no way made use of, though it seems he had some enemies amongst these Corinthians that traduced him for so doing.

He did not use the wisdom of words, 1 Cor. 1.17 [Page 68]that is, as he after explains himself, not the flattering words of mans Wisdom, nei­ther did he go about to perswade, 2.4. with reasons suggested from his own inventi­on, or experience, (as the Philosophers were wont) but with such as consisted in the demonstration of the spirit and of pow­er; and for the other way of going a­bout by worldly allurements and terrors to work upon men; it was well enough known, that as he cared not for growing rich, or receiving any thing from others by his employment; so as little able was he to enrich others; and for inflicting worldly penalties and punishments, his condition was such, as exposed him to the suffering of them in all sorts, but ut­terly disinabled him (if he had had a minde, as he was far enough from having any such) from imposing them upon o­thers in the least degree: so then we see the weapons of his warfare, that is, which he used for the overcoming or subduing of others: for converting, or convincing, or confirming them in the faith; were no sort of these carnal wea­pons, and consequently these are not the weapons belonging to such, as will fight after his example, and manage the same [Page 69]warfare with him, but they are weapons of quite another nature, and that is, (as he here affirms mighty through God, &c.

Where, in making this the opposite tearm to these carnal weapons, saying, they are not carnal, but mighty, he tacitely implies, that all these carnal weapons are not mighty, but infirm and weak; & this in­deed may seem a Paradox, as many other things do, that are affirmed in the word, namely, that those things whereby we see such great matters daily effected in the world, as the overturning of king­doms, dispeopling of Countreys, chang­ing of the laws and government of Com­mon-wealths, and altering religions and the outward profession of them: should yet be called (and so surely of right are to be accounted) but weak things: for the conceiving therefore of this aright, we must take notice what the Apostle here means by this weaknesse (implicitely here ascribed to them) and that is, not a weaknesse to destroy, but a weaknesse to save; not a weaknesse to do evil, but to do good; in brief, such a weaknesse, as implies them unable both to withstand the force of those mighty weapons the Apostle means, and to effect that which [Page 70]by the power of these hath been, and is still in some degree effected in the world.

1. These weapons are weak to with­stand the force, &c. when the Apostle, and other his fellow-champions in this Christian warfare, began to make use of these weapons he here means, for propa­gating the faith of Christ, and to root out all Paganish superstition and idolatry out of the world, the world was then full of these carnal weapons of both sorts, and never raged more in the use of them, against those that used these other wea­pons; on the one hand, fighting against them with bonds, imprisonments, and dis­graces, and many cruel and ignominious deaths; on the other hand withstanding them, and labouring to uphold the credit of their old superstitions by many elo­quent and elaborate discourses, framed by their Oratours and Philosophers, who a­bounded in wit, and learning of all sorts; yet notwithstanding all these things, those Christian Champions by the alone use of these other weapons, that Christ had commended to them, went on daily conquering and prevailing; that faith they thus fought for, came in a little [Page 71]time to be extended to, and profest in most parts of the world, and those cor­rupt and idolatrous practises in religion, that for many ages the world generally had been accustomed to, and so could not be but in love with, which they fought against, came in a short time to vanish out of the world, and so remain extinct at this day, as if they had never had had any footing in it.

This shews, as the strength of these Christian weapons, both for propagating the faith, and overthrowing that which was contrary to it: so the weaknesse of the other in both these respects: that they were neither able to hinder the growth of that faith, they so much op­posed, nor preserve the credit and con­tinuance of those antient superstitions, they were so much employed for.

Tis true indeed, there are since other superstitions grown up, as namely that of Mahomet: and the Christian faith hath lost footing in many places, where it once had, but this is not to be imputed either to the power of those carnal weapons, or to the weaknesse of these spiritual ones, as if they were unable to p [...]erve what once they had gained; but only to [Page 72]the neglect and disuse of them: men be­gan before this apostasie to lay aside those weapons of zeal, and patience, and meek­nesse, and contempt of the world, by the use of which, the Apostles themselves had been so victorious, and like the men of this world, imployed their thoughts and set their mindes upon the things of it; eagerly contesting about them, and willingly using what strength it could af­ford (though apparently inconsistent with these weapons) for securing to them the enjoyment of the said worldly things, and so plainly thereby expressed a greater zeal for this world, then for the next; and so long as it was so, what marvel, if this alteration follow? seeing things are to be preserved by the same means, by which they are at first gott: so that (I say) it is plain; it was not through the strength of these other car­nal weapons, or weaknesse of those spi­ritual ones, but meerly through the dis­use of the latter, that those things have so come to passe.

2. The weaknesse of those appears in this, that they are utterly unable to ef­fect that which by these hath been, and is still in part effected in the world, name­ly [Page 73]to plant or preserve religion in mens hearts: and this the very name that be­longs to them implies, namely that they are called carnal: Religion is in its nature a spiritual thing nothing else in the gene­ral, but a voluntary unconstrain'd dedica­tion of the soul and affections to God, and an answerable outward worship and obedi­ence of him proceeding thence; for the be­getting and guiding of both which, some­thing must of necessity be originally de­rived from God, who is a Spirit himself, and can only show us the way of his own worship. Now all these forementioned weapons being carnal, it must needs be beyond their power to work or produce such a spiritual thing, as religion is; that which is of the flesh, is flesh; John. 3.6. nothing can act beyond its own Sphear.

1. All those discourses which Orators and Philosophers have used, or which are in the power of men, by the light of na­ture to continue, are but results of flesh and blood, bare humane discoveries, which therefore must be held ineffectual, either to shew us perfectly how and wherein God is to be worshipped, or to make that impression upon our spirits, as to confirm or quicken us in his service.

[Page 74]2. Those other sort of carnal weapons are farre more improper for this end; namely, to make use of worldly terrours, as Bonds, imprisonments, and confiscation of goods, for planting or preserving Re­ligion in men: for this very way of planting or preserving it, is that which directly overthrowes it, and makes that which is so planted none at all; Religion being a voluntary thing, a free offering and dedicating a mans self to God.

Tis true indeed, this way of planting and maintaining Religion, is and hath been much used in the world, and may seem to have been very prevalent, and powerful in respect of those great, and numerous multitudes that are professours of such religions: as among the Mahu­metans and Papists, especially in Spain and Italy, where a man is not suffered to professe any other manner of worship­ping Christ, then what the Pope professes and allows without the hazard of his li­berty, or life. But as it is certain, that such planting or preserving of religion, hath nothing to support it from the do­ctrine of the Gospel, or examples of the Apostles; so is it no lesse certain, that such way of planting (what ever shew [Page 75]it makes) is altogether ineffectual for such ends: its true, it must be ac­knowledged there are many great and numerous multitudes in those places, which by means of those carnal weapons chiefly, are kept in the profession of the outward form, and worship of God, which is there professed and maintained; but their doing thus, is not properly to be called, nor accounted Religion, that being (as I have already said) a voluntary thing, and so far only to be accounted Religion, as it is so. Whosoever professing any Religion, true, or false, out of fear, so as thereby to avoid those losses and hazards which are threatned to the non-professors, that person by such a profession is to be accounted to act rather a matter of policy, then of religion to take care rather for providing for his outward tranquillity and profits in this world, then for his in­ward peace of conscience, and salvation in the next.

Indeed the doctrine or religion of the Papists; as it is for so much of it, where­in it differs from ours, and which makes it Popery, to be accounted no other, but the doctrine and traditions, or inventions of men, such as have no foundation at [Page 76]all in the word of God; so the means which are taken by them for preserving the credit and profession thereof with men, as penalties, and imprisonments, &c. are to be esteemed no other, but dictates of carnal wisdom, or worldly policie; the ends whereof are, not to provide for mens spiritual interests, or the salvation of their souls, but only for their world­ly quietnesse and advantage, and some other things especially belonging to their bodies: it being not possible that true Religion (which is a voluntary thing) should be planted in mens mindes by any worldly force or fears; nor consequently that the good of mens souls, which wholly depends thereon, should be any thing advanced by any such means as are made use of in that way; so as either to begin, or preserve in men such a professi­on of it.

This then shews, partly the folly, and partly the crueltie of all such Polititians, for so they account themselves, and there are many such in the world, others as well as Papists, that make use of these weapons of worldly terrours, or penal­ties, in case of Religion; so as thereby to ingage men in such, or such a profession, [Page 77]or in holding such opinions as they them­selves approve of: for the religion or opinion that is by this means attempted to be perswaded on others, must be ne­cessarily either true or false.

1. If the Religion or opinion be indeed true, which is thus attempted to be fast­ned upon others; the party on whom this attempt is made must be supposed hereupon, either to embrace it, or still not­withstanding these penalties that are u­sed, to stand out and oppose it.

If the former be supposed, then con­sidering those means can have no force at all to convince his judgement, or better his understanding, it must needs be con­ceived, that his embracing such a religi­on, or opinion, hereupon is only an act of carnal fear, making him to professe that as true, which though true in it self, is false in his judgement and apprehensi­on: and so such a professing, though it be of the truth, is a doing of a thing a­gainst his conscience, and so an act of hy­pocrisie, and consequently that, which instead of bringing him nearer unto Hea­ven (which is the onely end of all true religion and profession of it) sets him further off the way to Hell, a place [Page 78]peculiarly designed amongst others, for all hypocrites.

If the latter be supposed, Mtatt. 24.51 namely, that the party still, notwithstanding such pe­nalties, stands out and opposes; then con­sidering the inclination that is in men to think well of that cause, for which they see others willingly to suffer hardship, ra­ther then desert the profession of it; there will be probably hereby begot in mens mindes, especially those that are religiously disposed, (proportionable to their sufferings) a better opinion of that, though false, which they see so maintain­ed, and so consequently a weaker affecti­on to the truth which will thereby ap­pear to be so zealously opposed: For we are to conceive a great deal of difference betwixt mens sufferings in this kinde, and the sufferings of those that are punisht for murder or theft, &c. These latter, are clearly things evil in themselves, and so accounted and condemned by the consci­ences of those that suffer for them: and therefore, though some may be inclined to pitty the persons suffering, especially if their sufferings be extream, yet none will be hereby inclined to think the bet­ter of these things, or think these persons [Page 79]examples imitable; but in matters of Re­ligion, or opinions about Religion, it is not so, that which is true, and seems true to one, may seem false to another, and while it so seems, the person that suf­fers for opposing it, or for denying to pro­fesse it, does not that which his consci­ence condemns him for, neither gives others just cause to think so of him, but contrarily suffers for that, which in the judgement of his own conscience is good and right, choosing rather to do so, then offend his conscience.

Now whiles he does so, and gives o­thers occasion to think so of him, there is danger rather, that that for which he so suffers, though false in it self, should gain credit hereby with others, then that truth which he thus opposes should by this means any thing be advantaged. So true is that of Tertullian, In Apolog.Exquisitior quaeque crudelitas, illecebra magis est sectae.

2. But secondly if the truth which this person opposes, be a great fundamental truth, such as the denying or opposing of it excludes a man from salvation; and if (as in some places it is used) he shall have therefore the extremest that he can suf­fer [Page 80]inflicted upon him, namely some violent death, which rather then he will consent to the profession of, he willingly undergoes; will not the inflicting of death in this case (when there is no other cause of it) be extream cruelty? can there be any thing more against Christian Charity, then to destroy (as much as is in man) a mans body and soul at once? and is not this to do so, to take away a mans life from him, for holding such an errour, or opinion in Religion, with which (it is believed) a man cannot be saved? does not charity, and reason it self direct us, that in this case, we should use prayers, and arguments, and perswasions, and if all these prove ineffectual, yet since God hath limited no time, wherein they should take effect, to leave the person to Gods tribunal, rather then to inflict any such judgement upon him?

2. If the religion or opinion which a man is perswaded to by the force of these worldly penalties be false, then likewise we are here to suppose that here­upon, either he doth imbrace it, or (not­withstanding the said penalties) still stand out, and deny his consent: if the former be supposed, then the persons that do [Page 81]so, hereby are doubly the Children of Hell; as both professing a Religion false in it self, and doing it against their con­sciences; and so their condemnation must needs be the heavier: if the latter be sup­posed, then they that so stand out, shew themselves to be truly vertuous and god­ly: and what thing can be more unjust, then to afflict and persecute such persons; to punish men because they will not pro­fesse or believe that, which they are bound not to do, namely, that which is false?

Thus you see every way the unreason­ablenesse and injustice of using carnall weapons in matters of Religion; how not only ineffectual they are, for planting any Religion at all (truly and properly so called) in mens mindes, but also, how the using of them plainly manifests the folly and cruelty of all such Polititians, as do so: their folly using that which is no way proper for the end, for which they pretend to use it; and their cruelty in doing that, which either tends to fur­ther men in the broad way to Hell, or to molest and disquiet them, because they will not turn out of the right and narrow way which only leads to Heaven.

Thus far touching the weaknesse of carnal weapons in matters of Religion: I am now to speak of the mightinesse of these other weapons the Apostle here means; though something hath already been by the way shown concerning this: but now I shall more expresly treat here­of, and therefore declare (which I have not yet done) what we are to understand by these weapons; touching this then we are to conceive, that the Apostle may have a double reference or meaning.

1. So as to understand some weapons that were peculiar to himself, and the other Apostles, and some extraordinary persons, and so limited to that time they lived in.

2. So as to understand such as were common to him and them with us, and so which are to be extended to all times.

The former were of two sorts.

1. Respecting those within the Church.

2. Respecting Those without.

By the former I mean that extraordi­nary power which the Apostles had of inflicting some divine remarkable pu­nishment, on such persons as were very contumacious, or scandalous professours [Page 83]of the truth, which power, that S. Paul particularly had, there are many passages to prove in these two Epistles to the Co­rinthians, as, 1 Co. 4.21. shall I come unto you with rod, or in love, and in the spirit of mecknesse? 1 Cor. 4.21. compared with the three verses immediately going before; and in 2 Cor. 10.6. having in readinesse to revenge all disobedience: and verse 8th. though I should boast somewhat of our au­thority which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, and after at the 13. Chapter and second Verse, If I come again, I will not spare; and verse 10. I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpnesse according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

Now to this kinde of punishment, that delivering unto Satan, which we read of 1 Cor. 5.5. 1. Tim. 1.20. rightly belongs, concerning which we are to conceive, that the persons who were thus delivered up, were after a manner put into the hands and power of the de­vil, to be vexed and molested by him, in such a sort, as was limited by God, or Christ, or the Apostle himself; namely [Page 84]for this end, for the destruction of the flesh, and that their spirits might be saved in the day of the Lord, that is, that the devil might afflict the flesh of such a person, and by little and little bring him near to death, and yet in the mean time, leave him some space of repentance, and of praying and seeking unto God; for though Satan greedily gape after mans destructi­on, yet there may be some limits set him by God in afflicting one given into his power, which he shall not have ability to exceed; as we finde, God first permitted to Satan all things belonging to Job, but so that he should not touch his body, and afterwards he permitted him his body too, but with exception of his life, that he should not take that away: and the use we are to conceive, that this power, and sort of punishing, (as it was mana­ged by the hands of the Apostle) served for, was at once to assert his authority, and consequently the credit and importance of what he taught; and also to subdue such contumacious and scandalous persons as it was exercised upon, from such their wickednesse. Now concerning this pow­er of delivering unto Satan; it will be fit to observe these two things.

[Page 85]1. That as the Apostle had the power of inflicting this punishment, so he had no doubt also the power of removing it; yea, we are to think much rather, that he had this, in as much as the Spirit of Christ inclines rather to acts of good­nesse then of severity, and to save rather then to destroy: therefore we are to con­ceive, that if any thus punished did sea­sonably repent, he might through the A­postles prayers be freed from that punish­ment and healed; seeing the Apostles also had power over evil spirits, and the gifts of healing, whereupon many seem to be of opinion, that the incestuous person spoke of in the 1 Cor. 5. had this punish­ment pardoned to him, and that those words 2 Cor. 2.5. belong to him.

2. It is credible, that this power was common then to very few with the Apo­stle, and perhaps not to any, besides the other Apostles.

1. Because it is otherwise rather a­greeable; to God and Christ, to confer the power of doing good to men, then of doing them hurt, and rather by saving miracles and such as contained in them real benefits, to commend the saving do­ctrine of the Gospel to the world, then [Page 86]by such miracles as were hurtfull to man: for to inflict blindnesse, or lamenesse, or some other kinde of disease, is possible for Satan, and by his help for his ser­vants to do so, as namely for sorcerers and witches, but to restore sight to the blinde, hearing to the deaf, feet to the lame, health to the sick, and that by a word; that is the property of divine vertue and good­nesse: whence also we finde Christ to have healed great numbers of men, and to have freed them from devils, diseases, and other kinde of afflictions, but hardly to have done any such miracle, which in any manner was hurtful to men.

As for that which may be objected here of the Gadarens swine driven by the dev [...]l into the sea upon Christs allowance, Matth. 8.30 we are to take notice, that it is not to be reckoned so much the act of Christ, as his simple permission; and that not meer­ly of his own accord, but being there­unto entreated by the devils: besides, they to whom this losse did accrew, were without doubt persons most worthy of it, and withall, that losse might have brought them greater profit, if they would have made that use of that occasi­on, which they might have done: it is true [Page 87]therefore, that almost all Christs miracles were truly wholsom to men, and as so many benefits conferred on them, where­upon Peter saith, that Christ went up and down, doing good, Acts 10.38and healing all that were possessed with the devil.

2. We are also for this reason to think, that this power was common but to a few, namely, lest otherwise it might ea­sily have been abused, and sometimes been made the instrument of wrath and re­venge, or at least of unseasonable seve­rity: All had not so great wisdom as Paul and the other Apostles, so as to know on what persons, and in what nick of time, and with what measure to inflict such punishments: all had not the like meeknesse and long animity with him, or them: we may see by the fore-alleadged testimonies how hardly Paul could be induced to make use of that severity which he had in his power: they there­fore who hold, that this power was then common to the Pastors of Churches, have no true ground to support their opinion, yea it is evidently against reason so to think: Paul sure had had but little need, when he was willing to challenge that power to himself, so carefully to prevent [Page 88]the suspition of arrogance in so doing, if that his had bin also common to the el­ders of the Corinthians, & every where else usual in the Church: and though in the 1 Cor. 5. he would have the consent of the Church to concurre towards the de­livering of the incestuous person to Satan; 1 Cor. 5.3.4 yet he ascribes the decree of delivering that person to Satan, not to that Church, but only to himself, and so attributes the effect it self of that thing only to him­self, and to the power of the Lord Jesus Christ; like as also he doth not prescribe, that Hymeneus and Alexander should be delivered by Timothy to Satan, 2 Tim. 1.20 but sayes that he himself had delivered them.

Wherefore we are to think this power to have expired with the Apostles, and with other extraordinary divine persons, like them: so far is it from belonging to an ordinary power, and that which at present is remaining in the Church.

2. Now touching the second sort of weapons peculiarly limited to the Apostles and their times, which respected those without the Church; we understand thereby, the working of miracles, and speaking with tongues, and the like, which were for a signe, 1 Cor. 14.22not to them that belie­ved, [Page 98]but to them that believed not.

By the power of these it was chiefly, that the world came so quickly to be sub­dued, and brought in obedience to the Faith; when it saw those men who were the preachers of this faith (though o­therwise of like infirmities with others) assisted with such a divine power, as to alter the course of nature, and do those things which all the powers of the world combined together could not effect: how must not they hereupon but be con­vinced to believe, that what these men preached (unlesse they would be so un­reasonable, as to imagine that God whom all naturally acknowledge to be most true and good should lend that power, which he affords to no others, to liars and de­ceivers) was no other but the truth of God?

Now as by these miracles it chiefly was, that the world came to be convin­ced into a belief of the Christian Faith; so they were necessarily then required for procuring credit to the Gospel, and for working the world to a submission to it.

The Gospel was then in respect of the most material parts of it, a thing quite new, and unheard of before; and it is [Page 90]the fashion of men, to entertain new things in this kinde, with some preju­dice, withall to expresse such a love and reverence to things they have been long accustomed to, as not to suffer themselves easily to be removed from them.

Besides, the world was then generally possest with many false religions, and cor­rupt idolatrous worships, which being as contrary to the Gospel as darknesse is to light, could not but make their mindes more enraged, and opposite to the enter­tainment of it: And further, besides all this, many such things are affirmed there­in, namely in the doctrine of the Gospel, as exceed humane reason and understand­ing; and some things hereby are required to be taken away, which were known before, either to have been appointed or at least allowed of by God, and which to that time had remained without any change or alteration: so that in all these respects, that power of miracles was then requisite; that it might fully ap­pear (against all these grounds of preju­dice) that what the Apostles preached to the world, had indeed (as they affirmed) God for the Author of it.

And upon the same grounds we are to [Page 91] [...]onceive, that now there is no need of [...]hese miracles, nor any just reason, why [...]ny should expect them, or imagine any [...]ecessity to have had them continued [...]ntil these times: for besides, that the Gospel is no longer new,

1. There are extant still permanent ef­ [...]ects of the former miracles wherewith [...]t was at first confirmed, as namely the [...]ontinuance of the profession of it in most [...]arts of the world; notwithstanding the [...]anifold persecutions that have been [...]uccessively used against those who pro­ [...]essed it: the readinesse that hath been in many and still is and may be supposed in some, to seal such profession with their blood. Besides, we see, the real accomplish­ment of such things, as were divinely there­in foretold, as the destruction and dispersi­on of the Jews, and the spreading of Chri­ [...]an Religion into all parts; which we read not of any other Religion that either at present is, or ever hath been in the world: So that the former miracles thus remain­ing in their effects, there can be no need of, nor cause why, any should now desire other miracles, that is, still to have new ones.

2. It could have been no way conve­nient, [Page 92]that the power of doing miracles should have been perpetually continued in the Church of Christ; for such continu­ance would rather have indeed thwarted with the nature of Religion, and been a hinderance to the right exe [...]cises of it, then truly advanced either it, or these; it would have detracted from the worth or merit (as some speak) of faith, neither would there hereby have been left any difference betwixt those that are incline­able to vertue, or that are by opposite considerations seasonably suggested to them to be perswaded to it, and those that are obstinately averse from it, and not by any such considerations to be wrought upon (which difference of per­sons, that there naturally is, through the use or neglect of those commons helps, which God affords universally to men, not only experience testifies, but also our Saviour himself implicitely confirms; and that, as where he puts this difference betwixt persons that were not yet sea­soned with his doctrine, that there was one sort, that did evil, and therefore hated the light, and was not willing to come to him; John 3.19, 20, 21. and that there was another sort, that did the truth, and therefore came to [Page 93]the light, that is, to partake and be guided by the light of his doctrine: so by those other notes or titles wherewith he di­stinguishes the foresaid persons, in affirm­ing the one sort to be of God, and of his sheep, and therefore to heare his words, John and follow him; and the other sort not to [...]e of God, nor of his sheep, and therefore not to hear or follow him; objecting not onely their not so doing, but also their not being of God, nor of his sheep, which was the true cause thereof, as their own proper crime against them:) Now this be­ [...]ng so (I say) that there is, and always hath [...]een such a difference among men, in re­ [...]pect of a kind of naturall, yet voluntary [...]robity, or improbity in them, which are [...]o be lookt upon, as the immediate [...]rounds of their admitting or rejecting [...]he doctrine of Christ, and so of their in­ [...]linablenesse, or obstinate aversenesse to [...]ertue, and the exercises of it, upon the [...]pplication of seasonable and sufficient [...]otives made to them: this difference [...]ould have been in effect by the conti­ [...]uance of miracles quite disanull'd, and [...]ken away; for who would have been [...] perverse, (if Christs doctrine or the reaching of it had had perpetually these [Page 95] miracles joyn'd to it, which would have been as a kind of continued visible mani [...] ­festation of the arme and testimony o [...] God) that at length would not have re­ceiv'd it, and set himself to practise th [...] duties requir'd in it; yet not at all out [...] a love to them, or of the righteousnes [...] and holinesse therein prescribed, but on [...] ­ly out of a certain hope of that incomp [...] ­rable great reward of immortality, an [...] eternall blessednesse therein promised which all cannot but desire; and which should have been by this means in a ma [...] ­ner made as unquestionable and undoub [...] ­ed unto all, as the shining of the Sun [...] when we behold it with our eyes at no [...] day.

It became therefore the wisdom of [...] mighty God, so to order things; that t [...] preaching of the Gospel being as a thi [...] new and unheard of before, and exce [...] ­ing in many things humane reason, sho [...] have for some time these miracles anne [...] to it; that it might be thereby so fa [...] confirmed, as might be altogether su [...] ­cient, for working men that were in [...] ­nable to assent to the truth, to the rec [...] ­ving of it, but that the said mirac [...] should not be still continued, lest othe [...] [Page 94]wise those that are wholly averse from the truth, and utterly unwilling to for­sake their sins by reason of the present pleasures, or profits of them, should be by this means as it were forced thereunto. And we are further to conceive this to be the more reasonable in this respect, name­ly, that the very doctrine of Christ, for both the parts of it which are his promi­ses and precepts is of that perfection, as to contain a certain impresse of divinity in it, which as a kind of standing miracle speaks God to be the Authour thereof.

1. The promise of eternal life, and en­joying for ever unspeakable happiness and comforts with God himself in Heaven, (to which all the other promises of the Gospel are to be reduced) savours truly of the majesty and infinite goodnes of Al­mighty God, being a reward fully suita­ble to both these, and therefore it cannot be but the more probable in this respect, that he will thus reward his faithful ser­vants: wise and liberall Princes being wont magnificently to reward their dili­gent and trusty ministers, by giving those things to them which are rather propor­tionable to their own greatness, then to the deserts or low condition of these.

[Page 96]2. The precepts rightly understood re­quire such singular divine expressions of holiness and righteousness to be con­stantly in a manner exhibited by us, as imply not onely a full consonancy to that wisdom, and rectitude, and purity that are in God, but also that no other but hee could be the original Authour and requi­rer of them; so that there cannot be need that the belief of both, or either of these to come from him, should be still wrought, or supported by miracles.

And hence we may conceive the rea­son of that difference of Gods dispensa­tion in this kind, betwixt the time of the law, and this of the Gospel: then while that worship or religion of the law was standing, and was of right to be in force, there were in successions of time frequent and iterated apparitions of Angels as di­vine messengers from God, and also now and then in several ages downwards from Moses, some miracles were wrought for upholding the credit and authority of that worship: the reason whereof we are to conceive this, that there were in neither of the integral parts of that religion any such impresses of divinity, as could of themselves prove God to be the originall [Page 97]Authour of them; and therefore there was but need that this defect should bee supplied by the continuance of these ex­trinsick evidences, of miracles and appa­ritions of Angels.

1. The things expressely promised in that religion were onely temporal things, and such as in the apprehension of many, have still seemed to depend on, and be administred to men by chance; so that when God did really confer according to his promise those profits on them, as re­wards and encouragements of their obe­dience, there could not but be danger of their not acknowledging or taking notice of them, as such; especially when they could not but know, many not onely that were ignorant of God, but also who were notoriously refractory to him, to abound in the same things. And

2. The very temporary and vanishing nature of these things (all which in re­spect of any solid happinesse are but as a smoak or shadow) especially being joyned with the former consideration might make them doubt, whether God did in­deed order and appoint them, as rewards of his servants; as being neither suitable to his own spirituall nature, nor to that [Page 98]unlimited goodnesse, which they could not but know to be in him; and so in both these respects, such as might seem after a manner unworthy of him: and for both these reasons we may conceive that that supply by the continuance of miracles was then needfull to convince them in this matter, so as to make them look upon these things promised them, when they enjoyed them as gifts and rewards pro­ceeding from God.

Now because in these two reasons ta­ken from the promises of the law, there is one thing taken for granted which ma­ny (I doubt) will confidently deny, name­ly, that the blessings expressely promised under the law, were only temporal things, and consequently, that eternal life was not then revealed, or in that manner promised to men; I shall adde something, briefly, by way of confirmation hereof.

The truth of this then I conceive may sufficiently appear hence,

1. That the Old Testament, especially the five books of Moses, wherein the bo­dy of the Jewish religion is contained, af­fords us no expresse promise of eternal life. or of any other blessings then what be­longed to this life, In these places, Ex. 23. Lev. 26. Deut. 7.28. the promises wch God [Page 99]thought fit to make to that people, are purposely, and most fully, and particularly recited; and yet there is not in any of them, the least mention of eternall life, which sure, if it had been a thing then promised, ought more expressely to have been there insisted on and inculcated, then all the things there named; as infinitely exceeding them all, and consequently, that which would have been of more force then all the rest, to have contained that people then in obedience to God.

2. Because in the New Testament the revelation of eternal life is appropriated unto Christ, as where it is said, 2 Sam. 1.10. that hee hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel; and, 1 Joh. 1.22.25. that life which was with the Father (that is hid in his pur­pose and decree) he is said to have mani­fested to us: and again, this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life: and many other sayings to the like effect. Besides, there was among the Jewes a Sect of the Sadduces, and that somewhat ancient in Christs time, which Sect though it was not perhaps very nume­rous, yet it had the most of the chief persons, or rulers adhering to it, lib. 15. to 2. as Jose­phus testifies; and in the time of Christ [Page 100]and of the Apostles, the chief of the priests were of this Sect, as may be col­lected from Act. 5.17. Now this Sect (as it is well known) did deny the resurrecti­on of the dead, and the immortality of the soul; which sure, being such persons as they were, they would never have done, if eternall life had been expresly promised in those books which were of divine authority with them.

As for that which may be objected to the contrary, touching the opinion of the Pharisees in our Saviours and the Apostles time about this matter; we may conceive, that this acknowledgement of the resur­rection of the dead and the immortality of the soul did proceed hence, either 1. the desire of immortality, wherewith we are all naturally possessed, made them fancy such a future condition, and so ap­ply some places of scripture (though not truly so fign [...]ficant) to this sense; or else 2. being excited into a hope of this im­mortality, by the ingrafted appetite and desire of it, they did thus far give credit unto Christ, as upon his publike preach­ing of it firmly to believe it?

For that they did not before Christs preaching, believe such a resurrection of [Page 101]of the righteous or of the dead, as Christ published: the same Josephus fully testi­fies in the forecited place; where he tells us, that they did believe the souls of wicked men to be shut up under the earth in a per­petual prison, and the souls of the righte­ous after some time to remove thence, and go into other bodies: he not adding any thing more touching their faith in this point.

Now notwithstanding all this, I do not deny, but that

1. Eternal Life was in some kinde re­presented, yea and promised under the Old Testament, but this was figuratively and mystically; that is, in such a dark, and involved way, that none ordinarily could see such promise, or build any firm hopes of the thing so promised there­upon: God had it ever (I grant) in his purpose and decree to reward his faithful servants, even those before Christs time, as well as those after, with eternal life, and so the former shal assuredly be admit­ted thereunto, for God hath prepared for them a city, but this decree God did not think fit to make known to them, God dealing with them in this respect, as with Servants, to whom masters use not to [Page 102]make known all their mindes; and con­trarily dealing with us, in this kinde as with Sons; by communicating to us the full knowledge of his will, and by par­ticularly, and plainly acquainting us with his gracious intention of bestowing his heavenly inheritance upon us.

2. I do not deny neither, but that the servant; of God, under the Law, might (notwithstanding they had no such pro­mise as we have spoke of, made them) have some hopes and expectation of a fu­ture blessednesse, or eternal life; and that not only excited in them by their earnest desires of it; but also, because they could not but know, that there was truly such a thing, (it being not unknown to them that God himself did live such a life, and that Enoch and Eliah were rapt up into a possession of it) and for that, they could not but also apprehend such a blessednesse most suitable with Gods goodnesse to bestow; especially, when they saw ma­ny of Gods servants fall short of those temporal blessings, that were literally and plainly promised to them.

But yet, all this being granted; it re­mains firm which I have before asserted; that there was no other, but only tem­poral [Page 103]things plainly and expreflely pro­mised to the Jews under the law, and so, that their promises then had that imper­fection in them, which those made to us in the Gospel are free from.

2. A great part of the Precepts which made up the other part of that Religion, namely, the ceremonial part of it, seem so light & superstitious, and outwardly fool­ish & ridiculous in themselves; and conse­quently so unbeseeming the Wisdom and Majesty of God; that it could not but be necessary for making men truly be­lieve, God to be the Author of them, and of that form of worship wherein they were commanded, that he should by this outward testimony be ever and anon de­claring himself so to own and approve them.

But it may be here (as it is by some) objected, that though the Doctrine of Christ be truly divine above that of Mo­ses; and so have the testimony as it were in its self of its coming from God; yet seeing it was alwayes so, even when it was first publisht to the world; there cannot but be now, considering the great and general corruption that hath been made in it, through the defection under [Page 104]Antichrist, and also the many different and repugnant opinions that are held by the several Professours of it, a like neces­sity of having the Authority and truth thereof declared, and ratified by mira­cles, as there was formerly, when it came first new into the world.

In answer whereunto I say; that these things being granted touching the cor­ruption and contrary opinions in Christi­an Religion, yet the case is much differ­ent in respect of the necessity of mira­cles, betwixt this and that first time, when this Religion was first preacht: for then, when this Religion was first at­tempted to be planted as there were seve­ral other Religions in the world, and that of a long continuance, with the profes­sion and practise of which, this could not possibly consist; so there were no certain principles common to this and them, out of which the authority of this, and falshood or abrogation of those, might be manifestly demonstrated; yea this religion or doctrine of Christ did plainly grant the principles of the Jewish Religion (under which Christ was born, and which was yet in part to be abolisht by him, and in a manner totally changed) [Page 105]to have proceeded from God; so that it could not but be fully necessary that the doctrine of Christ should be then con­firmed in some admirable manner, and that God by evident and infallible argu­guments should be demonstrated to be the Author of it: but now, after the de­fection and corruption wrought by Anti­christ in Christian Religion, not only the principles of this doctrine of Christ, but also the whole and entire doctrine it self according to their opinion who acknow­ledg the foresaid defection, hath remained unviolated in the written Records of holy Scriptures, being so preserved by the ad­mirable providence and goodnesse of God during that defection; and to these Scri­ptures all that professe themselves Chri­stians, even those who are guilty of that defection, and acknowledge assent to be due as to the infallible oracles of God.

Now these Scriptures (we say) are so clear in those things which are simply ne­cessarily to be known, that the meaning of them cannot but be apprehended by any who truly desire to know it, and have not their understandings blunted by their own voluntary fault; and this may ap­pear from hence, that the greatest part of [Page 106]them were either from the beginning common to the vulgar people, or sent to such persons to be read and understood by them, who were in a manner rude, or novices in Christian Religion, and partly involved in many great errours: such as diverse of those were to whom some Epistles of Paul were directed, Epistles to the Corinth. and Galat. and yet in which we finde the greatest mysteries of this Religion communicated by him to the said persons.

Indeed the Holy Scriptures had been written and publisht in vain, if so be that every one by reading of them, and using that prayer and diligence which is possi­ble for him, could not of himself attain the sense thereof, so far as may be neces­sary for him to know it, but that, it were necessary (as is ordinarily by many pre­tended for maintaining idlenesse in some, and pride in others) to seek and receive the menaing thereof from a certain sort of men, as Bishops and Ecclesiastical Pa­stours, either severed or conveened in Synods: for it had been much better (the case being so) that there were no such Scriptures vulgarly extant, but only that it were commanded that universal credit should be given to that sort of [Page 107]men, in the knowledge of divine mat­ters, who also themselves by this means should have had no need of these sacred volumes; but it had been enough for them to have had the knowledge of di­vine things begot and preserved in them by the immediate power of the Holy Ghost: and so we might suppose that to have been done in all the doctrines of Religion, which the Papists contend to have been done in many of them, namely, that from the Apostles times they should be without writing preserved pure, and delivered by perpetual tradition from one age to another.

But to return; as all generally so far acknowledge the authority of the Books of Scripture, as to hold that there is no­thing contained in them, which is not certainly most true (when as there is not, nor can be any such certainty pretended touching their interpretations, who are accounted the expositors of it) so that perspicuity which we ascribe to them is implicitely and in effect granted even by those who directly deny it, and still per­sist in the holding of many corruptions that are repugnant to the said Scriptures, to wit the Papists: For whence else is it, [Page 108]that they are not willing to have those controversies that are agitated betwixt them and us, to be decided only by the Scriptures? yea whence is it else, that they pretend the interpretation of these Scriptures is to be setcht from their Church, but only that they know, or di­strust, that there is a plain and evident sense of the same Scriptures that makes against them? and yet whether they will or no, they are at length forced them­selves also to have their recourse to the said Scriptures, to prove thence that au­thority which they arrogate to their Church, without which pretended and thus seemingly proved authority, they cannot finde how they may so much as in show or appearance, in any manner main­tain their false opinions.

Since then it may appear from what hath been said, that there are, and still have been, some common and universally recei­ved principles among all Christians, name­ly, the Holy-Scriptures, from which the falshood of such opinions as are contrary to faith, and hinderances of salvation may be demonstrated; and since also that the said Scriptures are so clear in such matters, and by all those that receive them, direct­ly [Page 109]or indirectly, and in effect confest to be so; there cannot be any necessity imagi­ned, why miracles should bee continued, or at present renewed for the declaring of what is divine truth in this kind; not­withstanding the foresaid great defection from and corruption of it. The Scriptures so remaining and acknowledged, being as a standing rule, by the conformity or dis­sonance to which all opinions in matters of saith may for the soundnesse or un­soundnesse of them sufficiently be tried and judged of; and therefore as to require or expect other rules or evidences beyond this, namely, those extraordinary ones of miracles for discerning such divine truth, would be a tempting of God on our part; so if God should in this case when he hath so sufficiently provided for us in reference to this end, conferre the power of working miracles on men; it would be in him a receding from that way of wisdom which he hath formerly observed, by doing that where no necessi­ty requires, which only in cases of necessi­ty he hath used to do.

But it may be here objected, that wee see no such effect that the Scriptures have, as to keep those who receive and [Page 110]entertain them in the enjoyment and pro­fession of all necessary saving truths: Christians are still divided by contrary o­pinions, and many ensnared in destructive errours.

1. To which I answer, 1. that all points and matters of religion are not of that importance, as to be reputed necessariò cre­denda, or fundamentals: some there are (as the Apostle implies in that discourse of his touching dayes and meats, Rom. 14. to which others of a like nature may be reduced) in which as men may erre with­out necessarily hazarding their salvation; so differences of judgement about such matters, if there were that charity which anciently hath been and ought still by the lawes of Christ to be among Christians) would not produce any breach of peace or amity amongst them that should so dif­fer from one another; so long as upon this supposall so much of divine truth is joyntly received and professed by them, as is sufficient towards the making of them that thus differ, the children of God here, and so bringing them to the en­joyment of that inheritance which is de­signed onely for such hereafter.

2. Those errours or differences in [Page 111]matters of religion which have been, and are at this day either in fundamentals or in some lesser points among Christians, are not truly to be imputed to any defect in Scripture, as if it through its obscurity were the cause or occasion of them; for (as the Apostle sayes) if the Gospel (which sure is contained in his and other Aposte­lical writings now extant) be hid or ob­scure; it is so onely to them that are lost, 2 Cor. 4.3. that is to such, as by their own wilfull im­piety or carelesness in seeking, make them­selves incapable of finding and discerning the saving truths contained in it: but these errours and differences are of right to be reckoned to have their original hence, namely, from a contempt or slighting of the said Scriptures, while many are not willing in matters of faith to adhere sole­ly unto them, or to fetch the whole do­ctrine of Christ thence; but with great reverence, and almost equal to that which they pay to these, have recourse to Coun­cels, and Fathers, and Antiquity, and judgements or confessions of Churches, counting it in a manner piacular to dissent from or contradict these in sacred mat­ters: whereas all these ought with wise and sober men to be of no farther use or [Page 112]authority, but onely to acquaint them what was the judgement of the Church of those times, or of such persons and companies of men as then lived, or that yet are remaining in such matters; and that we should not lightly and without good reason recede from those opinions which have been approved by them: but for any to extend the authority of any or of all these farther, that is, obstinately to retain some opinions, because they are found to bee approved by the foresaid Fathers, &c. when as the Scripture in our apprehension, and it may be really makes truly against them: this is to put out our own eyes and onely to see by theirs; yea, this is to put them in the place of God and their judgement in stead of his word the Scripture, and so is that which is not onely a debasing of our selves into a de­gree of servility below that wherein God has placed us, and which indeed he hath forbidden us, by making our selves thus the servants of men; 1 Cor. 7.23. but is also a direct contempt and slighting of the Scripture, and consequently that which may expect the falling into errours, both as the effect and punishment of such contempt to at­tend upon it; as we see at this day it is [Page 113]among Papists, and so proportionably with others, that love in this kinde to tread in their steps.

The truth is, as it would be a perplext and endlesse way, to go about to trace or finde out divine truth by consulting the writings of Fathers, or written Canons and Decrees of Councels of several Ages, some of which are certainly lost, and the rest which are extant are not easie to be got, nor possible to be read by all: and withal, as it would be a way liable to the same or rather far greater uncertainty, then that which is pretended by some against Scripture, for the seeming obscu­rity of it; in regard those Fathers and Councels do not only abound in equally obscure expressions, as may appear to those that read them, and from the use that contrary parties make of them; but also often contradict one another, and in­deed sometimes do also, or at least may be thought as men to contradict them­selves: whereas the Scripture hath every where, (and so is acknowledged gene­rally by all to have) a full and perfect con­sonancy with it self: so by so doing, that is, by setting them thus over us to be guided by their judgement in our assent [Page 114]to divine matters, and as it were tying our selves up to the rule of their standard in measuring sacred truths; we should not onely be forced to re-admit some things as truths in this kinde, which have been, and that deservedly rejected by the first Reformers; but also to confesse the Reformation or change in Religion made by them, to be in respect of most of the points of it groundlesse and unwarranta­ble: seeing it is plain, the Papists can, and ordinarily do alledge abundant testi­monies out of the foresaid Councels and Fathers writings, and that without for­gerie or wresting for upholding those their opinions and practises in Religion, which were then, and we think still of right ought to to be, notwithstanding the credit of such authority condemned and relinquisht by us. They who will but look into Bellarmines Controversies, or Durants Ritual will finde, that there is hardly any opinion so grosse which they maintain, or ceremonie so ridiculous which in their worship they use and pra­ctise, which hath not testimonie brought for the countenancing thereof from some or other of the Fathers writings.

Now to return from this seeming di­gression [Page 115]concerning the inconvenience, and unnecessarinesse of miracles in these times; having before, and partly toge­ther herein shown the usefulnesse and ne­ces [...]ity of them in those times of the A­postles, to which they were peculiarly limited; being then requisite weapons for subduing the Heathen world to the obedience of Christ: I am now to show, that there are other weapons something proportionable to those extraordinary ones forementioned, which are common to our times, and partake truly of that mightinesse for pulling down strong holds which the Apostle speaks of; and these we may conceive (as the former) to be of two sorts.

1. One, in the use of it respecting those within the Church.

2. The other respecting those that are without.

The former is answerable in some de­gree to that extraordinary power the Apostles had of delivering up some sort of Persons to Satan, and it is that which be­longs to the church it self to make use of, namely Excommunication, that is separa­ting of persons that are scandalous, as Drunkards, Swearers, Adulterers, or any [Page 116]that live in any sin contrary to the known laws of Christ from the Company of the faithful; and this separation according to the quality of the sin, and condition of the sinner is twofold.

1. Imperfect, when one is excluded from having any intimate familiarity, or con­versation with the faithful: yet so as he is suffered to remain a member still in some manner of the Church, by partaking of hearing the word preacht. This separation is that wch the Apostle means, when he re­quires us to withdraw our selves from eve­ry brother that walks disorderly; and after­ward, 2 Thess. 3.6.14. 1 Cor. 5.11. if any obey not the word, to note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed; and with such an one not to eat: and the persons that are thus to be separated from, are (as these alledged pla­ces imply) such, as are so involved in the habit of one or moe sins, that yet there are some hopes left of their recovery out of it.

2. Perfect separation, when one is quite excluded from the Company and Congregation of believers, so as he is not any longer admitted or reputed a member of the Church: and the persons that are thus to be excluded, are such as [Page 117]obstinately go on in their sins, and suffer all the admonitions, and reprehensions that are bestowed on them to be in vain; whence it may plainly appear, that they make no true account of the Command­ments of Christ, and so are not to be rec­koned as his servants or Schollers, and therefore are fit to be excluded out of the number of those that professe themselves such.

Now that there is such a power given and commended to the Church, appears hence. 1. That the Apostle reprchends the Corinthians for not excluding the in­cestuous person from amongst them. 1 Cor. 5.26. 2. That our Saviour requires, that he, who being privately and publickly ad­monisht and convinc't of his sin, and yet obeyes not the Church, shall be accoun­ted as a Heathen and Publican; Matth. 18.17.18. and here­upon sayes, that he, who is so bound on earth, shall be bound in Heaven.

And touching both these sorts and de­grees of Excommunication, we are to ob­serve, that this is the alone weapon, which the Church of Christ is authoriz'd by his Commission in this case to make use of against any such as walk contrary to the rule, or hold any opinion repug­nant [Page 118]thereunto: as for these other wea­pons, as namely bonds, fines, imprison­ments, &c. which (as we shewed before) are altogether ineffectuall for the ad­vancement of Religion; they are all of a later date, being invented and brought in­to the world by the Spirit of Antichrist, which as it hath corrupted the pure and spiritual doctrin of Christ in other things, with many corrupt and carnal inventi­ons; so it hath instead of this weapon (which rightly used serves for reclaim­ing and healing the persons against whom it is imployed, that his spirit may be sa­ved in the day of the Lord, and so im­plies a degree of the greatest charity to­wards him) brought in the use of those other weapons which have no power at all to heal, but only to destroy; and so manifest the greatest cruelty that can be used.

Now the special ends and uses for which this weapon was at first appoin­ted, and for which it is, or ought still to be continued in the Church, we may con­ceive these.

1. To provide hereby for the credit of the Church, and the honour of religion, and the professours of it; that the ene­mies [Page 119]of either, nor any other might have occasion to think, or speak evil of the Church, as if it willingly connived at, or harboured any unclean or sinful persons in it.

2. That the rest that are members of it might somewhat the better through the fear of this censure or punishment which is ratify'd in Heaven, be contain'd within the compasse of their duty, or the sooner return again to themselves, upon their beginning to decline from it.

3. That hereby the spreading of the contagion of sin might be prevented; for as (according to the Apostle) a little leaven leavens the whole lump; 1 Cor. 5.6. so one such sinner suffer'd without such censure inflicted on him makes others lyable to be infected by him.

4. That those that are thus wounded may so come to be healed; that is, that by this means having just occasion given them to take notice of their own cor­ruptions, in that they are excluded as un­wo thy of having any communion with the people of God, or of partaking of any benefit from his word; they may come to be ashamed, and so unfainedly reform their wayes.

Now the consideration of all this gives us just cause to complain of, and bewail the constitution of our Church, as it is at present, and hath been of late yeers: we have indeed, and have had the word of God long amongst us, and in this re­spect are happy above many that want it, if we knew how to esteem and make use of it; but this weapon belong­ing to the word, and so many wayes use­ful for upholding the credit of the word, and for the good of those that are pro­fessours of it, is and hath been long quite out of use, wholly laid aside and neg­lected with us. It was (I know) hereto­fore, when the Government of Bishops was standing, sometimes drawn out and imployed, but for the most part the edge of it was turned a wrong way, namely, against some contempt of those that were then in Authority, for not paying fees, or disobeying the orders of their Courts, or refusing to observe some petty Crere­monies, &c. as for other great matters immediately respecting God, and tend­ing to the dishonour of Religion and de­struction of mens fouls; as drinking, swearing &c. these were things, I do not remember, it was ever much imployed [Page 121]against; persons that were known trans­gressours in these, if not otherwise re­fractory to their orders, might have free liberty to partake in the ordinances of Christ, and communion in the Church, as well as they that were most upright and unblameable in their lives.

And the matter in this respect is no­thing at all mended with us; scandalous and openly vitious persons of all sorts (if their crimes have not proceeded so far as to make them be shut up in the Goal, and so thereby be hindred) have free ac­cesse into our assemblies, and to our most solemn and sacred meetings: yea, such our assemblies and meetings are not spotted here and there with some one or other such persons (as the Church of Corinth was with one incestuous person) but quite in a manner over-run and over­grown with them: so that all these evils, for the preventing and curing whereof that weapon of Excommunication was appointed; are now through the want of it, not only to be seen amongst us, but in a manner are become remedilesse: The credit of our Church is hereby daily im­paired, and the Religion we professe is exposed with strangers and enemies, to [Page 122]scorn and reproach; those that are not yet tainted, through such impunity are made lesse carefull to avoid the like sins, yea, by their promiscuous conversing with such scandalous persons, are made lyable to be, and so we see daily they are infected with the same corruptions; and lastly, those persons themselves come by this means to go on (as we see they do) all their dayes without any remorse or shame, which can only work repentance to salvation; and so they live and die in a most desperate hopelesse condition.

These things are truly lamentable to consider, but alas it is not in my power, neither is it in your power (yours I mean who are some wayes sensible of these evils, as all good Christians who either tender the glory of God, or salvation of mens souls cannot but be) to help these things, further then by contributing our prayers, that God would put it into the hearts of those who have the power of reforming things in their hands, to em­ploy some of their care effectually upon this business; namely, that godliness and all things that truly make for it may be encouraged, and countenanced, and so brought into credit: and contrarily that [Page 123]all wickednesse and impiety whatsoever, and in whomsoever may be disgraced and discountenanced, and noted with some marke of infamy in the wilfull and ob­stinate actors of it; that so, they might be brought to shame (as the word requires they should) for their amendment. In the mean time, it will concerne you who have these desires to do your utmost to counter-act this great evill and corrupti­on, that is, to make straight paths for your feet amidst this crooked generation, to take care not onely so as to avoid the evill of such persons you live amongst; but asmuch as may be, of having any conversation or familiarity with them; to place your delight in, and make choice of such for your company and friends (if there be any such, Psal. 16.3. as I hope there are) as David calls the Saints that are in the earth: such as love righteousnesse and hate iniquity; such as have escaped those pollu­tions the greatest part everywhere live in, practizing acts of vertue and holinesse; and that they may the better know to practise these, willingly talke and conferre with others about these things that make for them, you that are such, or desire to be such, let me exhort you in the bowels [Page 124]of Christ, more and more to honour such, to desire and delight in their company; to delight in them so farre, as they that are not such, or declare themselves not to care for being such, may fee, that even for this reason they are not at all delighted in, or accounted of by you: Thus doing, you may do somewhat towards vindicating the honour of religion, and credit of godli­nesse; and perhaps towards working shame in such persons; at least here­by you shall declare to those that are willing to take notice of it, that though such persons be amongst you, yet they are not of you; though you cannot avoid having an outward communion with them, yet you do not own them for Bre­thren, that is for Christian Brethren, nor so account of them.

2. There are other weapons propor­tionable to these miracles wrought by the Apostles, requisite in all the members of the Church for subduing of others, that is, for bringing them that are strangers or enemies to Christ in submission to him, or those that are onely titular and nominall Christians, to become true converts: and they are no other (as wee have before insinuated) but those Christian graces or [Page 125]vertues commended to us in the Gospel, which are principally required for our selves, to render us heirs of salvation; but have also a certain secret force of working upon others, in which respect they may truly be called weapons:

And these we are to conceive the Apo­stles had together with those miracles, without which it was not possible that these miracles could have had that suc­cesse, which we before shewed they had in conquering the world, that is, so as to work such multitudes as they did, to re­linquish all their old superstitions which they were so long accustomed to, and to­gether with them, their many sinfull and wicked practises which accompany the said superstitions; and to live ever after not only in the profession of the doctrine of Christ, but in an answerable practice of all these harsh and unpleasing duties to the flesh, that is of all these heavenly vertues commended to them therein.

This I say had not been possible, if they that acted these miracles, and talked as they did in their preaching of such great and glorious things to be enjoyed hereafter, as a heavenly kingdome and e­ternal life, should have taken any other [Page 126]course themselvs for coming thither, then what they had so commended to others in their preaching: If they should have taught men that they must by patience and meeknesse, and contempt of the world, &c. expect only to be made partakers of those things, and themselves in the mean time have expressed impatience or pride, or worldlinesse, &c. for why might they not then thus think and accordingly resolve within themselves? that however the miracles they see the Apostles do, gave them cause to believe that there were such things to be indeed enjoyed hereafter, as they mentioned; yet since they them­selves did not take that way for coming to the said things, which they pressed up­on others; it was no way necessary for that end; such person (they might well think) surely could not but know, what was tru­ly best for themselves, and so long as their courses were agreeable to theirs, they might without doubt arrive at the same port of happinesse that they aymed at, and had acquainted the world with.

This I say in all likelihood had been the fruit of the Apostles miracles and preach­ing, if they had not had these weapons also: if their lives had been disagreeing [Page 127]to the Majestie shining forth in the mira­racles wrought by them, that is, if they had been sordid, or worldly, or stained with any sinful pollution. But we finde, they were far of another temper; they did not only magna loqui, but vivere, they did not only talk of great matters, but live like men of great expectations; they did not as the Philosophers, speak and publish exact discourses in commendati­on of temperance, and contentednesse, &c. when themselves were guilty of palpable intemperance, and covetousnesse; nei­ther did they, like as some now, who talk much of another world, and live so as if all their hopes and happinesse were in this; greedily hunting after the plea­sures and profits of it: but they truly acted what they taught; They taught, that Heaven is worth all that here pos­sibly is to be laid out for it, that this world is nothing being compared to it; that nothing here is so hard to be acted, or harsh to be suffered, that is not to be gone through with, out of hopes of it: and they accordingly shewed this in their own practise, leaving no parts of godlinesse unpractised; spending their dayes incontinued and unwearied exer­cises [Page 128]of all Christian vertues, notwith­standing the many outward discourage­ments they met with; and at length, as occasion was offered, readily giving up their lives, and parting with this world and all the comforts of it at once, out of a certain expectation of that which they had so commended.

And by this means especially it was, that the Apostles brought others to have the like esteem, and expectation of this future condition, and so to take the same way for coming to it; making them by this means their converts, and conquering them thus to be their followers in the same way to Heaven, who before were their enemies and persecutors.

And by this means must we (if ever indeed we would effectually work upon others) make our attempt upon them, not so much by our words, as by our actions; not so much by telling them, that these and these things they must do, if ever they hope to come to Heaven, as by shewing them in our own practise, that we our selves have truly no hopes of coming thither but by so doing, that is, by expressing that temperance, and meeknesse, and humility, and heavenly [Page 129]mindednesse, which the Scripture every where commends to us: Si vis me flere, dolendum est primum ipse tibi, if thou wouldest have another tender of commit­ting sin, or mourn for it after it is com­mitted, expresse such tendernesse and mourning first in thy self; if thou wouldst have another zealous, and carefull, and con­stant in the practice of religious duties, then first manifest the like zeale and care, and constancy, in thy own performance of them: This is the onely right way, and that which onely can be expected to prove effectuall for pulling down of strong holds, that is, for silencing and sub­duing all the opposite reasonings and ar­guments of the flesh or carnall wisdome: words in themselvs are but as wind and so we find it was acknowledged by a certain learned and acute Philosopher, Rustiin. lib. i [...]Eccles. hist. 3. after he be­came a convert, who being first attempted by some learned Bishops to submit himself to the profession of the Gospel easily withstood by the help of his wit & learn­ing, the force of al their arguments; but af­ter when he was set upon for this purpose by a Christian that wanted much of their learning, but had a great measure of that zeal and holinesse, which it seems they [Page 130]wanted, hee quickly submitted himself, and gave this reason for his so doing, do­nec verbis mecum res gesta est, verba ver­bis opposui, &c. so long as the matter was onely carried on with words against me, I found words enough to oppose and make resistance; but when once in stead of words, there was vertue and the power of God brought against me, (such as is truly manifested in the real eloquence of zeal, and of a sanctified life and con­versation) then all my words and reasons were too weak to withstand the power of this force, I being a man could not stand out against the divine power of God thus shewing it self.

Our Saviour plainly implies, Vide Chry­sost. in cap. 10. with Matth. homil. 33. Joh. 13.25. that there is such a secret divine force in these things; as when he saith, by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you love one another, that is, with such a love, as he commended and had exprest, carrying them on to the doing of the meanest and hardest offices for others welfare, making them neglect their own outward ease and worldly advantages to promote the true good, especially the spirituall welfare of others: by this shall men know, that is, know convincingly, so as hereupon they [Page 131]may come to be disciples themselves, and admire and magnifie him that is the tea­cher of such love: and so when he saith, Let your light so shine before men, Matt. 5.16.that they may see your good works and glorifie &c. he implies that this seeing of our good works by others hath a power in it to bring those persons that are yet far off from this, to bear a part with us in glori­fying God.

'Tis true, all are not to be expected to be so wrought upon, neither indeed ever were they: the Apostles notwithstand­ing their abounding in the use of these weapons, and also the assistance of those other extraordinary ones of miracles, had still many enemies, such as did stand out contradicting and blaspheming; yea Christ himself that was the most pure and perfect copy in this kind could not for all this prevaile upon all those that were hearers of his doctrine, and eye-witnesses of his miracles, and of the continued zeal and goodnesse that shined forth in his life: Many have the love of the world so setled in their hearts, carnall and sensuall affections so deeply rooted in them, that these weapons can make no impression up­on them, all the exhortations, or exam­ples [Page 132]of the servants of God, how eminent soever can have no power to prevail with them; yea, though one should come from the dead they would not be converted by him: but yet we are not to conceive all who are yet strangers, or for the present, enemies to godlinesse to be of this tem­per: there is a difference to be conceived in unregenerate persons (as it is plain, there was amongst the heathen, and still is amongst the like sort of men) some of a more flexible, others of a more inflexi­ble disposition to goodnesse; some far­ther off, and others nearer to the kingdom of God, that is, to the admission and en­tertainment of those means which can onely render a man actually capable of that place; though who they are that are so is onely perfectly known to God. Be­sides, there is ordinarily in all, even in the worst sort of men so much of that divine light which God hath made naturall to the soul remaining, as serves to make them own and even tacitly to admire vertue in others, when it cleerly and fully appears; though they are not willing (because of the difficulties and unpleasingnesse in it to their sensuall desires) to be practisers ther­of themselves: and for this reason also, [Page 133]for the most part they labour to obscure the appearance thereof in others, so as they may not be thought to be what indeed they are.

Now by this, it may appear that these spiritual weapons; notwithstanding the great wickednesse, and opposition of men against them, are still very useful so as they can never want wholly of their effect: besides that, which they imme­diately and directly serve for, namely the fencing or securing the persons that have and use them from the wrath to come, there is a further good may be expected from them, that is, a subduing of un­godlinesse in some or other; a vanquish­ing of them in time to the practise of that piety which yet they are enemies to; yea, and even in the most wicked, and such as hate to be reformed, a blunt­ing at least of their enmity and opposi­tion to goodness.

This then layes the greater obligati­on upon all that truly fear God; such as are to be conceived to have these wea­pons in their possession, to be the more diligent and industrious in the using of them, to stir up (I mean) the grace of God in themselves to practise vigorously [Page 134]and incessantly those vertues that they hear daily commended to them out of the word, and which the Spirit of God hath in some measure already wrought in them; not to remit, not to abate of their care in these things, but daily to abound and grow stronger, and more re­solute in the performance of them; you have heard that the subduing, that is, the salvation of others depends much here­upon; these things are truly mighty through God for demolishing the strong holds of sin, for silencing all the carnall reasonings of the flesh against the pra­ctise of godlinesse, for working those that yet go on in dishonouring God to joyn with you in glorifying of him; in brief, to turn a sinner from the errour of his wayes, and so save that soul from death which should otherwise eternally perish: Oh then, if there be in you, any true zeal for, or care of these things (as sure there is, or else you are not such persons, as I now speak to) if the glory of God be dear to you, if your own or others souls be pretious in your sights, then slacken not your pace in the course of godlinesse; give all diligence to be every day more abounding in the work of [Page 135]the Lord, more zealous and heavenly in spiritual exercises; more fruitful in works of rrghteousnesse and holinesse: in do­ing of these things, 1 Tim. 4.16 you shall both save your selves and others; that is, be instru­ments, effectual instruments through the power of God for saving others; and so partake in that honour (which belongs primarily and completely only to Christ) to be called Saviours, or preservers of their souls. Oh, let this (I say) re­member and awaken you to be unwea­ried in well-doing; to go on without fainting; that not only your own, but the good of other souls, even of those perhaps that think least of it depends hereupon; who can tell, what may in time be effected by this means? this is certain, you shall give others hereby oc­casion to come out of their sins, and glo­rifie God; and if they be so obstinate as to neglect it, yet your charity herein is not the lesse, and your so doing shall re­dound to the furtherance of your own ac­count.

2. If this obligation lye upon you to­wards others, thus to contribute to­wards their conversion, then you are to conceive your selves much more con­cerned [Page 136]and obliged to take care, that you be not perverted, or your zeal any thing abated by the wickednesse of others: As there is a power in these former weapons of God to effect the good of others and bring them in time in subjection unto God.

So there is an answerable power, or rather a greater (through the natural in­clination of most) in those things which may be called the weapons of the devil, namely, wicked practises and examples to bring others in subjection unto him, and even to blunt the edge of godliness in the servants of God: Though your constitu­tion (I hope) is stronger then to cast off your first Love, and to be drawn away with them into the same excesse of riot, to be partakers with them in their sins: yet you may easily be wrought through the cunning of the devil to abate of your zeal and care in the practise of godliness, even by beholding the sinfulnesse and number of the ungodly you live among; to observe so many about you that make no care at all of Religious duties, but practise in a manner several sorts of iniquity securely and with greedinesse: This may perhaps prompt you to think, [Page 137]that you are well enough so long as you are so much beyond such persons, and so bring this dampe upon you, to make you rest and content your selves with what you have already attained without ever strugling to proceed further: But for the avoiding of this, I desire you to take notice, that as you are hereupon concerned to be the more watchful; so are you likewise to be the more zealous and fruitful; the more wickednesse is acted in the place where you live, the more is God dishonoured, the more is his wrath provok't against that place, the more souls are still thereby endangered; therefore this should be so far from ma­king you abate, that it should indeed by an antiperistasis increase those graces and the exercises of them in you; seeing hereby onely you may help to make up the hedge, and contribute to the securing of the place from the judge­ments of God, and their souls that are hereby the more in danger, from that danger that they are otherwise likely to be ensnared in.

Sect. 3. To the pulling down of strong holds.

Here is assigned the distinct effect of the power or mightnesse of the former weapons, that they serve and are suffici­ent for the pulling down of strong holds.

For the conceiving of which aright, we are to take notice, that the word [...], expounded here strong holds; sig­nifies bulwarks or fortresses, such as are castles and Cittadels, that are made for fortification and defence, and to with­stand oppositions and attempts, and so to secure men that enjoy them from being subdued by that opposite power that comes against them: and such the Apostle implyes there is to be conceived in this business; some great b [...]lwarks or mountains of opposition that lie in the way of the Christian Souldier, to hinder him from prevailing in his at­tempts upon others by the use of the former weapons, that is, from bringing them throughly in submission to Christ, and making them joyn themselves for the future to him in fighting under this General; such as will be of great force to retain these persons that are thus forti­fy'd by them, still in their old condition, namely, in love with their sins, and in [Page 139]their enmity and aversenesse to godliness, what ever be said or done for effecting the contrary.

Now what these strong holds or bul­warks are the Apostle seems to explain in the following verse, which verse (though it be to be joyned in sense, or construing not with this, but with the third verse as the parenthesis wherein this verse is inclu­ded shewes, and the Greek more fully ma­nifests yet) in regard, that power of ca­sting down imaginations which he there speaks of is to be conceived as agreeing to him, by reason of these weapons here mentioned; wee are to conceive to bee added as an explication of what hee means, by strong-holds, and that is imagi­nations, or reasonings of the flesh, high and exalted thoughts, such as learning or worldly wisdome, or the enjoyment of great estates and places in the world are apt to breed in men. Now that there are such reasonings that the flesh or wisdom of the flesh supplies men with to withstand the power of the word, & oppose the force of these spirituall weapons, which are requi­site to make the word effectuall for their salvation; the Apostle implies, saying, the natural man receives (or embraces) 1 Cor. 2.14 [Page 140] not the things of the spirit of God, he hath no true love and affection to these things, yea, he hates and denies them in his heart, and that because they are foolishnesse to him, that is, because he looketh upon and by his carnall reason judgeth them as things altogether unfit and unproper, or rather contrary to their ends wherein he hath placed his happinesse, and esteems it to consist.

The things werein such persons ima­gine the greatest comfort, and welfare to consist, are to be great or rich or highly accounted of in the world; to passe away their time with as much satisfaction to their sensuall desires as may be; to avoid the undergoing of any voluntary hard­ness, further then it is some wayes ser­viceable to these ends: to all which these things of the spirit of God, (that is, these invisible future things to be enjoyed in a­nother world, and the way proposed of coming to them, which is, by not onely slightly accounting, but even contemning all those thing that are of so great and high account here, by contradicting and extinguishing all sensuall desires in our selves, and by willingly ingaging our selves in such duties as are harsh to flesh [Page 141]and bloud, and many wayes disadvanta­gious to our worldly ease and interests, are thought to beare, as indeed they do, a direct opposition: and by this means it is, that all such generally are strengthned and hardned in their opposition against the practice of godliness; they see what they must certainly lose by betaking themselves to such a course, namely, a great deal of the honour, and comforts, and ease, and pleasures of the world, but they cannot see what they are likely to meet with in exchange which will be a­ble to make them any proportionable re­compence for their parting with those things: and this (I say) is a strong hold to fence the naturall man, to make him dwell and stick fast in his naturall condi­tion without ever effectually thinking of coming out of it.

Now there is a power (as the Apostle implies) in the word, as it is edged and inforced by these weapons (formerly spoken of) in the hands of the profes­sours of it, to demolish this hold, to bring in such a person as is thus fortified by this his carnal reason against godlinesse, as a captive thereunto; and this is by lively & really demonstating to him in our [Page 142]actions and practices, that those things he so much esteems are not to be accounted of, being such as we cannot enjoy long here, nor carry with us at our removall, that those things he so little thinks of or perhaps believes not, are things in them­selves most glorious and certain and end­lesse, and such, that as all this world hath is vile in comparison of; so we our selves count nothing which the word requires of us for coming to them, either truly hard to be done, or harsh to be suffered; that none of these things but are most just and honourable in themselves, and in­finitely sweetned by the hopes of such a glorious, and inconceiveable reward: This thing (I say) thus demonstrated, can­not but be a forcible engine to batter this hold in time in some or other: for wee may not expect (for the reasons before mentioned) that either these, or what­soever else can be used will be effectuall with all or the most; there are some, that the God of this world hath so blinded their eyes with the mist of these present carnall things, 2 Cor. 4.4. that the light of the glorious go­spel of Christ, thus held forth does not shine, makes no appearance at all to them; declaring themselves hereby to be lost [Page 143]persons; that is, such as are of a hopeless reprobate condition.

But yet (though we cannot hereby ex­pect to subdue all) so long as there is a possibility by this means of bringing in some; this implies that there is power in these weapons for demolishing this hold, and that the reason why they are not ef­fectual upon all, is not truly the strength of this fortress to withstand these wea­pons, but a deliberate and resolved stand­ing out in those that are possessed of it: there being this difference to be conceiv'd betwixt those attempts that are made in this kind upon others, for bringing them in subjection unto Christ: and those that are made ordinarily in war, for con­quering them that stand out; the latter usually are successful wholly against the wills of the attempted, it being the glory of this war to constrain men by violence to submit themselves and become their captives; but the former in respect of the nature of Religion (Christ being King only of a willing people) can be no further successful then the persons attem­pted yield themselves in some kinde to be wrought upon, or at least do not wil­fully and malitiously oppose themselves; [Page 144]if they shew themselves towards these holy things, these pearls laid before them, like dogs or swine, contemners or deriders of them; if by their obstinate and reso­lute going on in evil, they proclaim (as the Jews did once) that they judge them­selves unworthy of eternal Life; Acts 13.46. then they are to be turned aside from, and not to expect any violence to force them to this submission: this being that which would destroy the nature of it, and make it no submission, that is, no voluntary uncon­strained submission, which is the only submission that Christ approves of.

But besides this general hold or reaso­ning of the flesh, which seems common to all natural men; there are to be con­ceived some other more particular holds in this kinde intended by the Apostle; such as have a strength more then ordi­nary, and are the peculiar fortresses of some certain sorts of persons of the highest repute in the world, making their subduing, that is, their conversion unto Christ, usually a harder work then ordi­nary; and these are nothing else but those reasonings which worldly wisdom, and learning, and the enjoyment of great pla­ces, or riches in the world suggest to men, [Page 145]to keep them off from a through submis­sion unto Christ, or obedience to the Go­spel.

Now such persons may be considered.

1. Either as they were in the Apostles times, wholly unconverted to so much as an outward profession of the doctrine of Christ.

2. Or as they are now in our times, being outward professours of it, but for the most part denying the power thereof, without which they are to be conceived in as bad an estate as the former: that is persons that have need still to be sub­dued and brought into the way of salva­tion.

1. Touching the former, what their reasonings were in this kinde, may be collected, partly from what the Scripture either expressely testifies or implyes; and partly from what we find recorded in the Ecclesiastical stories of the times imme­diately following; the summe of both which may be reduced to these 2 heads.

1. Such as immediately tend to up­hold the credit of their superstitions and idolatrous worship and customes, that they were to be subdued from.

2. Such as tend to discredit or vilifie [Page 146]this doctrine of Christ, that they were to be perswaded to.

1. Touching the first head they alledge Antiquity, that they were things that they had been long accustomed to, of which the world had had a continued and long possession; their fathers and fore-fathers for many generations before had been professors of them; and why should not respect and credit be given to such anti­quity? why should not we tread in the steps of our fathers, as they have happily done in the steps of them that went before them? it cannot but be an arrogating to our selves more then is due, and a detract­ing from them that which of right be­longs to them, yea an exposing them to scorn and disgrace; to disallow and cast off that religion, which they so long and close were addicted to; and instead there­of entertain one so new, as was never so much as heard of, or mentioned in their dayes: Lib. 10. ep 61. Thus Symmachus, servanda est tot saeculis fides, & sequendi sunt nostri parentes qui secuti sunt feliciter suos, se­ra est & contumeliosa emendatio senectu­tis.

2. These wayes of worship were ge­nerally and universally used; they were [Page 147]not the practise, and so grounded on the judgement and approbation only of some few persons, or of one nation, but all persons and nations generally did concur in the same judgement and practise: Act. 19.27. This Diana (saith Demetrius) that Paul prea­cheth against, all Asia and the world wor­shippeth; Thus they had both antiquity and universality to plead for what they professed; and to this, adde a third taken from authority.

3. They were not the professions of the vulgar, or unlearned only, who might perhaps be mistaken and deceived, but of the greatest Statists; of persons most learned and wise, and exact in their judg­ments; and such as were of most emi­nent account, and place every where in the world.

Besides they had been so well, & things had so flourisht and thriven with them under this worship, that great cause they had to have a reverent esteem of it, and it would be no smal folly in them to change it for that which the world had little ex­perience of, and might think from that it had, that it was more likely to cast them upon new miseries and troubles, then any way better their condition.

These or the like we may conceive were the reasonings (or strong holds) whereby the Gentiles in the primitive times, especially the great ones of them were confirmed in their love to, and pra­ctise of their old superstitions, and so consequently made more opposite to the doctrine and religion of Christ. There are yet some other reasonings that served more directly to fortifie them in their op­position to this doctrine; and they were nothing else but the prejudices and ex­ceptions that they had against it, as

1. That it was altogether a new worship, a thing that the world had not been formerly acquainted with: may we know (said some at Athens to Paul) what this new doctrine whereof thou speakest, Act. 17.19, 20, 18.is, for thou bringest certain strange things to our ears? and in the former verse, others said, he seems to be a setter forth of strange gods, because he preached to them, Jesus and the resurrection: Is there any likeli­hood, that that should be true, and wor­thy to be believed that the world gene­rally for so many ages together hath had no knowledge? may not wee well think that if it were (as is pretend­ed) a doctrine proceeding from God, he [Page 149]would have long before this commu­nicated it to others, as well as to those persons that are now the first publishers of it?

2. That the persons, that were publishers & abettors of it, were but obscure & igno­ble persons, such as were no way eminent in the world, or equal for learning and au­thority to those that opposed it, and so likewise those that submitted to it, were generally only of the meaner sort, ig­noble and simple persons of the multi­tude, who could not consider what was truly for their honour, and therefore were easie to be perswaded to any thing; but for them that were wise and know­ing persons, and knew how to value their credit in the world: such as the rulers and the Pharisees, Joh. 7.48. they every where sufficiently declared their dislike and en­mity against it: and this sure could not but be another great prejudice to fortifie such in their gentilism, and standing out against the doctrine of Christ; that it was not only a thing new in it self, But that no others generally shewed them­selves commenders or professors of it, but only contemptible and obscure per­sons.

[Page 150]3. That mens mindes were every where possessed with hatred against it: as for this sect (said the Jews to Paul) we know that every where it is spoken a­gainst; Act. 28.22. yea not only spoken against, but (so far seemed God from owning or bles­sing it) those that were the most zealous professors and maintainers of it, met with nothing but bonds and imprisonment, &c ue ty, or infamous deaths, as rewards of their service; the world hereby de­claring at once its enmity against this do­ctrine and the professors of it; and also its judgement of both: that it held the former as no small crime, and the latter for a sort of the most vile and unworthy persons, such as were not fit to live in the world.

4. There was another not the least prejudice, which was common both to Jew and Gentile, immediately respecting the first author of this doctrine himself, namely, that he (whom his followers pretended) was now in heaven, and had power (as they affirmed) to bestow a glorious and eternal life after this, upon his servants, which was the only allective whereby they could hope to draw o­thers to them; that he when here on [Page 151]earth, should appear to be no other then a vile, infirm and infamous person; that he should be made subject to mockings, and whippings, and a wretched death, as his followers have been since, without manifesting any power he had, either of executing any revenge upon the persons that so used him, or rescuing himself out of their hands: can it be thought, that the King of Israel, the glorious Messiah that was so long spoke of by the Pro­phets before he came, and had such great and excellent things affirmed of him; that he now when he was come, should be so far short of those ordinary kings that went before him, as not only to have no retinue answerable in Pomp and great­nesse to what they had: but also be ex­posed to such indignities, as use not to befall any save the vilest sort of men? is it likely, but if he had been indeed such a person, he would either have sa­ved himself from the Crosse, or being upon it, he would (as he was desired) have come down thence, and so have manifested his power, that his enemies might have believed in him.

This is that reasoning that the Jewes heretofore and still to this day make use [Page 152]of, for fortifying themselves in their in­fidelity and opposition against the do­ctrine of Christ. And thus the great and wise ones of the Gentiles strengthned themselves in the like opposition: they could not see, how he who was so inglo­rious himself (as it sufficiently appeared to the world Christ was by his messengers constantly preaching of his crosse and suf­ferings) could ever come to have such a power (as they affirmed he had) of con­ferring such transcendent glory on others: neither could they with all their wisdom and learning apprehend (indeed they ra­ther hindred them in this matter) how outward sufferings and afflictions, and death, which in themselves, as their rea­son told them, was the way to or rather made up extreme misery and unhappi­nesse; how these things should be (as the Apostles affirmed they were) the certain road to supreme glory and happinesse: this was in their judgement an absurd and foolish thing to imagine: and so, in this respect, Christ and the doctrine publisht by him and his servants, became a stum­bling block to the Jewes, and to the Gen­tiles foolishnesse, the very consideration and belief of somewhat which was true [Page 153]of both (as namely that Christ was a per­son that suffered such great evils on earth, and that he had taught, that others by the like sufferings must expect to come to glory and happinesse) was a ground whereon their wisdome built such rea­sonings as became a strong hold or for­tresse to make them persist in their enmi­ty against both. And by all this we see, what several reasonings or strong holds there were, wherewith men were gene­rally fenced against the doctrine of Christ; all which were of necessity to be batte­red down and demolisht before it could have entrance into their mindes, or they be brought to yield submission unto him.

And to these may be added some other reasonings in the like kind, but more im­mediately of the devils invention, that father of lies, having not that truth in them which the former are to be concei­ved to have for the ground of them, namely, those false calumnies raised against the professours of this doctrine; Tertul. Apol. Minut. felix as that they were "haters of mankind; that their meetings were for sedition, or to enjoy a pro­miscuous satisfaction of their lusts; that they killed young children, and used sorce­ries and inchantments, &c. by which [Page 154]means we must conceive further, that men were still more estranged, and the strong holds erected against Christ became more powerfull and hard to be subdued.

Now I should shew you, how these weapons formerly spoke of, in the Apo­stles and others hands were effectuall in great part for beating down these holds, for silencing and confuting these severall reasonings: but first it will be fit for us to observe, by reflecting upon those reasons that we have named; who they are to be compared to, or rather who they are true imitatours of, that make use of the very same reasons in effect (that is, of the rea­sons of Pagans, or unbelieving Jewes) for their persisting in any old opinion or cu­stome, or opposing of that which is new­ly perhaps discovered; and that it may be, by men of no great eminency in the world.

Thus the Papists, they plead antiquity of those corruptions of theirs which we have rejected: that they and their fa­thers before them have thus believed and practised: They plead also universality, all the Christian world at that time when Luther began to oppose them, and still [Page 155]the greatest part yet hold the same opi­nions with them: they plead also autho­rity; many learned Councels and Fathers heretofore, and at present great Cardinals and Kings, and men that excell in all kind of learning (as many of their Jesuites do) are not onely professours, but Patrons and maintainers of them; that these their corruptions, as we call them, have had the blessing of God going along with them; their Churches at present (as they have long) flourishing in splendour and riches and high dignities which they enjoy. And to these may be added further, their usuall allegations against that truth wee professe: as its novelty when Luther first publisht it, where was it (say they) for so many ages before him? what num­ber of persons, or company of men can wee name, that held those opinions that we do now? and was all the world blind and ignorant in divine matters, til he open­ed their eyes? and is it likely, that an ob­scure Monke, as he was, and such others as were his Assistants should know better the minde of God, or meaning of Scri­pture, then so many learned Bishops and Doctours, as opposed them? and did not God show sufficiently his dislike, and the [Page 156]world generally their contrary judge­ment and enmity against this religion, when the first professours of it met eve­ry where with bonds and imprisonment, and racking and burnings, &c. yea, as the Jewes and Gentiles were the more hard­ned against the belief of Christs doctrine, because it taught such a mean way, so far from worldly pompe and pleasure to come to eternall happinesse and glory; as by sufferings and afflictions: is not ac­cordingly their prejudice against ours the greater, because we have none of those pompous ceremonies and ornaments which make so great a shew to a carnall eye to set it off? and lastly, that they may not come short in that which is worst of all; hath it not been the practice of many of their agents, to seek by lies and slan­ders to draw or deterre men from the profession of it, by telling them in their Books, that Luther confessed himself to have received what hee taught from the devil, and by casting many foul and black aspersions upon him and others that were any way active instruments in carrying on this work against them.

Now in all this, what do they truly do either for upholding their own, or over­throwing [Page 157]our religion, but what the an­cient enemies of Christ did towards the retaining of their old superstition, and keeping out the admission of his doctrine; and so by this means shew plainly not onely what spirit they are of, even of the same Antichristian Spirit that then mani­fested it self; but also what they would have done, if they had lived in those dayes, and that is, upon the same grounds have rejected Christ, and condemned and persecuted the Apostles and other primi­tive professours, and publishers of the Gospel.

2. There are others, who though they sufficiently see and condemn the vanity and arrogance of the Papists in using these reasonings, yet still in part by their own practice help to justifie them in so doing; namely such as are not willing to think well of, or indeed give themselves liber­ty so much as seriously to consider any o­pinion that is against the generall received doctrine of the Church, or contradicts that which some ancient Fathers and Councels have heretofore held; and ther­fore by the same course as the Papists do labour to suppresse them; as by stifling their books, or punishing and imprisoning [Page 158]the persons that are the broachers or hol­ders of such opinions; or by using some such like worldly policy and power: to which persons I shall offer these conside­rations seriously to be thought on.

1. Whether if it were just for Luther to oppose himself, as it is plain he did, a­gainst the professed judgement of all the Churches of the world, upon this ground, that he had discovered (as he ve­rily believed) some truths of great con­cernment to Gods glory and mans salva­tion; it may not be just in the like case for other particular Christians as he was, to hold and publish some opinions that are directly contrary to what is and hath been generally believed?

But it may bee said, that the Church now being reformed hath attained that perfection which before it wanted, and therefore it cannot be so fit now as it might be then.

In answer to which, I willingly grant that the Church hath attained a greater perfection; but that this perfection is such, as either to exempt it wholly from the power of erring, or that the whole Church, or some remarkable part of it, such as is a Synod or Councel representing [Page 159]it, should see more clearly alwayes in di­vine matters then some single Christian, I as readily deny; that which hath been done may be done, Joh. 3.8. & the spirit ( [...]) bloweth where it listeth (as our Saviour saith) even the Spirit of truth: some­times, yea, many times wee may justly think (if we consider, besides the confi­dence in determining, the policies and worldly interests that in Synods are often acted) discovering that to the world by the means of one single person, which it conceals from these; and that doubtless, as well to make it selfe the more obvious to be taken notice of in the weaknesse of the instrument, as thereby to give a check to those affections which in Synods often bearing sway, make them justly incapa­ble of this honour.

2. Whether it be not very reasonable to imagine, considering that great heap of corruptions and errours, which is acknow­ledged generally by all Protestants to have been setled in the Church when Luther first attempted a reformation, and which had been the work of the spirit of Anti­christ (beginning to act in the Apostles dayes) for many ages successively down­wards, 1 Joh. 4.3. to bring up to that height and [Page 160]perfection they were then at; whether (I say) this being considered, it be not reasonable to imagine, that notwithstand­ing all that was discovered by him, or his assistants of that time, there may be some gross errours (though not so directly and necessarily hinderances of salvation as some of those by them detected) left still remaining behind, which others by the assistance of the same spirit which they had, may helpe to manifest to the world: the reasonableness of which supposall may be inferr'd from these following grounds.

1. That it seems not probable, that the bottome of such a corruption which had been so long a gathering and was so deep­ly rooted, should be all at once of a sud­den, or in one age fully discovered, so long as the persons that were instruments of making this discovery though they are justly to be accounted men of eminent ability and proportionable piety, yet are confest to be such, as had no immediate revelation, nor infallible assistance of the Spirit of God, as the Apostles had.

2. As in bodily distempers when a dis­ease hath been long rooted, and hath diffused its malignity through all the [Page 161]parts and humours of the body, a through cure is neither possible nor safe, on a sud­den to be attempted, lest such a remedy prove worse then the disease: so in this case, the Church of Christ having been then so deeply and universally affected with corruptious in a manner, through all parts of Religion, we may conceit that a through cure could not without endangering of its vitals, on a sudden be attempted; to have gone about to have purged out all at once and together, where so many things were unsound, might have given some occasion to thinke, that there could be nothing good or sound remaining, if this discovery had been then improved into such a full light, it might (considering the grosse dark­nesse men had so long lived in) rather have blinded then helpt them in their spi­ritual eye-sight; that is, rather have made them Atheists, then Reformists.

3. God himself does ordinarily by de­grees proceed in his works to perfecti­on, and even in discoveries of this na­ture; Thus at first he revealed himself, and the manner of his worship, onely somewhat generally and obscurely to the first ages, and inhabitants of the world; [Page 162]after that, somewhat more distinctly, and particularly to Abraham; and yet after this, far more fully and perfectly to the Jewes, his seed, by Moses: all which di­scoveries were yet (in respect of that perfect model exhibited in the Gospel) but rudiments, Gal. 4.3.or elements of the world, as they are called: and for the Gospel, which is the only full and perfect light in this kinde. There was first John Ba­ptist as the morning star, or dawning be­fore the Sun-rising sent to make way for it, by preparing mens mindes through his more imperfect doctrine instilled into them, for the admission of this great and splendent light; the substance whereof though it was fully delivered by Christ in his preaching, yet we finde, even those to whom the chief care of publishing it to others was committed by him, name­ly the Apostles, through the prepossession that other opinions they had been bred up in had taken of them, could not by Christs so teaching it, sufficiently in all things apprehend it: persisting in the belief and practise of some things contra­ry to what they had received from him, till by some other more particular means they were convinc't to the contrary; and [Page 163]so we finde the Jews that at first became Christians, not only still in love with the practise of many Mosaick ceremonies, all which were of right declared to be void by the doctrine and death of Christ; but even stil in a manner permitted by the Apostles therein: who could not but well consider what power prepossession must needs have in them, from that whereof they had had experience in themselves; and therefore upon this ground, as they did not urge their authority so far, as to require an absolute and universal confor­mity of others in all things, to what they themselves taught and held: so they al­lowed those converted Jewes in these things to dissent from them, Phil. 3.15. till God in time might by some other means con­vince them of the unnecessarinesse and unprofitablenesse of the said ceremonies: which shortly after he did most fully, in suffering the Jewes Temple (the place ap­pointed for the celebrating that ceremo­nious worship in) to be destroyed, and the Jewes themselves to be excluded out of that Countrey that he had given them, and so their government to be dissolved. Now this I say, having b [...]n Gods method heretofore, thus by degrees and parcels [Page 164]to reveal his truth, and bring men into a belief and submission to it; why should it not be reasonable to conceive that he might do so at the time of the late Re­formation? that is, communicate such a proportion of truth to the world then, as was simply necessary, and which the constitution of that time would admit: but leave still some more for others in after times to finde out? and therefore sure the going about to stifle or hinder all such productions of others in this kinde, as go beyond the latitude of that discovery that was then made; though it may sometimes possibly keep out er­rours, yet it may as certainly be a bar to truth, if ever God offer it (as I know not but he may and hath) by the pains of some single person to make it appear to the world; and so such course is to be interpreted a resisting of his Spirit, and so far, a fighting against God.

3. Whether it is not probable, consi­dering the great and general sinfulnesse of Christians, even of those that are called Reformists or Protestants, (the far greater part whereof every where, pal­pably and resolvedly allow themselves in the violation of many known lawes of [Page 165]Christ, as vain talking, and jesting, exe­cuting revenge, greedily seeking and pro­jecting to lay up treasures on earth, &c. John 2 Thes. 2.11 And withall considering that ordinary dispensation, which the Scripture tels us God is wont to use, either in reference to a clearer discovery of truth, or giving men up to errour; whether these things being considered it be not probable, that some errour, or errours, either are, or have been publickly and authoritatively maintain'd, which are to be looked up­on both as a root or spring of such com­mon, and epidemical sinfulness; and also in part as a punishment of it? Who does not see, that for such opinions as are any way favourable to the flesh, and mens sensual ease and enjoyments, if there be but any little seeming pretense from Scripture to ground them on its authoritie? how men are most generally ready and willing to believe them? and who may not but know, that considering the great purity and declar'd severitie of God in this kind, God often uses to deliver up such persons to the power of such opinions, to believe them as divine Oracles of Truth, when indeed they are nothing but lies and in­ventions of men? Upon all which [Page 166]grounds, I conceive it altogether a thing unreasonable which hath of late been much practised, and which some still ap­prove of; namely the stopping such books, or opinions, from coming abroad, or having the favour to be publickly known or considered, as are presumed to to be against some things long and gene­rally received.

Now to return to the consideration of that which we last spoke of; namely the strength of these strong holds formerly mentioned: the reasonings I mean which the learning and wisdome of great ones heretofore suggested to them, whereby to maintain their standing out against Christ, and the profession of his doctrine; I shall now briefly shew you, how these forts were demolisht, how their reasons were in great part silenced and confu­ted; and that was by no other way, but by the use and power of those weapons formerly spoke of. The Apostles and o­thers then, that had the managing of the said weapons, did not deny what these opposers affirm'd, either as relating to the upholding the credit of their own re­ligions, or towards the abating the e­steem of that which they were to be per­swaded [Page 167]to; that is, they did not denie, but that those Religions of the Gentiles were ancient, and generally received, and that men of great dignity and place were Patrons and professors of them; nor that they had had outward prosperitie joyn'd with them: Neither did they de­ny, that this Religion of Christs was then new; not that it was publisht and pro­fest by mean persons, and accompanied with the rage and enmity of the world: That the Author of it did indeed suffer those vile evils by them objected with­out avenging himself, which made him seem so despicable a person in the eyes of the world, and that he hath taught such kind of sufferings (having the like meek­nesse and humility to what he exprest, joyn'd to them) to be the only road that leads to eternal happinesse, and glory.

They did (I say) deny none of these things, neither did they go about by any the like prudential considerations to commend the doctrine which they held forth, and so to maintain the side that they were of: which would have been in effect, only to make the matter alike disputable on either side, so that men should not have known, where to have [Page 168]setled; but they did infallibly and con­vincingly shew that all those things be­ing admitted for truths that were object­ed, that which the alledgers of them la­boured to infer thence, namely the worth and authority of those Religions of their own they stood for, and the falshood and unworthinesse of that which hereupon they oppos'd could no way be inferr'd; yea, they did most plainly and demon­stratively prove, that notwithstanding all the seeming advantages of the one side, and disadvantages on the other; the one, that is, those Paganish religions were lies and inventions of the Devil; and that the other, namely this of Christs, was a certain and infallible truth deriv'd from God, and necessarily by all to be assented and submitted unto.

Both these things (I say) they did most evidently prove and manifest by the use of the former weapons; for who must not but grant, that that which God himself disowns and condemns and sets himself against, what ever other consi­derations there may seem to be for the commendation of it, is false and impious, and deservedly to be rejected? as on the contrary, that which he owns and ap­proves [Page 169]and commends to men, what ever seeming prejud [...]ce there may be otherwise against it, is most true and honourable and wo thy of all men to be received? now God did sufficiently declare both these, when hee made bare (as the Prophet speaks) his otherwise invisible arm of pow­e [...] in the sight of all the nations, in those stupendious miracles that were acted by the Apostles, those signes, and wonders, and mighty deeds (as the Apostle speaks) by those he did abundantly declare (other­wise then was possible by any humane strength or eloquence) even as if hee had immediately in some audible voice spoken from heaven, that hee was the true au­thour and approver of that doctrine the Apostles publisht; and contrarily the con­demner of that which they opposed; by those he declared that who ever should stand out, and resist the Apostles message in this kind, thus by him born witnesse un­to, they should therein not so much op­pose themselves against them, as against him himself, who thus declared that hee sent them.

'Tis true; some impostors might through the assistance of the devil do sometimes some such strange feats as [Page 170]might raise admiration in the beholders; and work some especially of the weaker sort to give credit to them, in believing such lies as they broacht; but besides that none of these were any true miracles, they were ordinarily such as onely served to beget admiration, not to derive any true profit to those that were partakers of them: there was no healing of the lame, or giving sight to the blinde, or raising of the dead; and further the persons that were actors of them were ordinarily in­famous for some kind of wickednesse or other; and did these things for get­ting themselves a name, and to gain there­by worldly profits and advantages to themselves. But here in these miracles that were acted by the Apostles, it was farre otherwise: they were truly what they appeared to be: things beyond the Sphere of nature or any created power; not only admirable in themselves, but the benefit thereof was as evident: and for the persons the Actors of them, though therein they manifested a greater majesty and power to be accompanying them, then that which any, or all the Kings and Em­perours of the world had; namely, such as was truly divine and of Gods imme­diate [Page 171]impresse, yet so farre were they from priding themselves herein, or arro­gating and seeking any honour or profit hereby to themselves, that they neglected not the meanest employments whereby they might be helpfull to others how low soever in the world: yea, they did not forbeare, but still made use of these ordi­nary mean callings wherein they had for­merly lived; as fishing and tent-making, thereby to provide necessaries for them­selves; by which means, as they in part shewed, those divine qualities which they commended to others, of charity, and humility, and contempt of the world, and withal the necessity and possibility of them; so they did further by their zeal in propagating that truth which they had publisht (being sufficiently conscious to themselves of the want of worldly assi­stance or humane learning and elo­quence) when they knew before hand, that bonds and imprisonments abode them; that persecutions and miseries were all the rewards they were like to expect from the world; by these (I say) they did sufficiently declare that it was not the power of flesh, but a power mightier then any the world had, even [Page 172]the immediate power of God and his Spirit that thus carried them on.

And so we see, they were every way mighty for the pulling down of these strong holds: mighty through God; it was not an earthly worldly mightines, that ap­peared in them, such as it must needs have been, if either they had gone about with eloquence and learned discourses, or with the concurrent assistance of some great and powerfull persons in the world to per­swade men to what they taught: but a mightines far above these; such as was im­mediately derived to them from Heaven, and could not but appear to be such to all that were willing to observe the workings of it, or would not wilfully shut their eyes against it. This was that might or power of God, which going along with them in their preaching made the Gospel they preacht (though still it was with some, namely, such as wilfully hard­ned and opposed themselves, as foolish­nesse) to appear to those that were wil­ling to know the truth (as indeed it was) the wisdome of God and the power of God.

And the effects of this mightinesse on others was quickly seen in the world; those ancient religions, or rather super­stitions [Page 173]that so long had had possession in it, and so many friends and supporters; ha­ving in a manner all the great wits and princes of the world contributing their care and strength for the upholding of them, and contrarily for extinguishing that doctrine which by the power of that might was to be brought in: they all in a little time vanisht and came to nothing; and that which was thus opposed daily grew into more credit and strength in the world, notwithstanding all the adversi­ties, and discouragements that still threat­ned the known professours of it.

Tertull. tels us that in his time, In his Apol. when the Church was yet still under persecu­tion, and the professours of the doctrine of Christ, in regard of the enmity the Princes and Governours of the world still bare unto it, had hardly any other expecta­tion, but to be exposed to disgraces and persecution for the profession of it; yet that even then, the number of such pro­fessours was so great, that they had filled in a manner all places in the Empire, so that if they had had a mind, or had held it lawfull to make use of their strength in that way, they could easily have over­turned that frame of government that [Page 174]was so opposite to them, by possessing themselves of the supreme power, and so putting themselves out of the danger and fear of persecution, and bringing their e­nemies and persecuters themselves into that condition; but sayes, he Absit, ut au [...] igni humano vindicetur aut dolent pati in­quo probatur divina secta, the use o [...] such weapons in that way they well enough knew to be contrary to that do­ctrine they profest, and no way servicea­ble for upholding the power and credit of it; which had been at first and still in part was laboured to be maintained and propa­gated by weapons of farre another nature: such as were lesse pompous in shew but more powerfull in truth, being mighty through God for this end. But the thing I now urge this testimony for, is onely to show the effect that these weapons had for the actuall casting down of all the fore­mentioned strong holds, or reasonings of the great men in the world; in as much as in so little a time as was betwixt the A­postles first preaching, and this wherein Tertullian lived (which by ordinary com­putation was within a little of 200 years after Christ) there was, as appears by this testimony of his, such multitudes of all [Page 175]sorts, notwithstanding the great opposi­tions and discouragements appearing from the world, brought in to become subjects unto Christ.

'Tis true; the Apostle sayes of his time and so we may conceive it was in the times immediately following, and will be proportionably true of all times: 1 Cor. 1.26. not ma­ny wise men after the flesh, not many migh­ty, not many noble are called, that is, effe­ctually called, so as to relinquish, or come out (being wrought thereunto by the force of the Apostles preaching and wea­pons that accompanied it) of their holds, and bring all their high reasonings and thoughts in subjection unto Christ. But the reason of this is not to be conceived either any antecedent decree of Gods hin­dering them, or denying them that power of giving obedience to the preaching of the Gospel which hee had afforded to o­thers; for as the salvation offered in the Gospel is called a common salvation; Jud. 3. so all without distinction, of high, or low, rich or poor, were at first and still are in­differently invited to come in, and par­take of it: the promise runs in the gene­rall, whosoever believeth shall be saved, Rom. 2.9, 10. and God is no respecter of persons; but as [Page 176]tribulatioe and anguish shall be upon every soul of man that doth evil; so glory, ho­nour and peace, shall be upon every one that worketh good: which being so, we cannot without fixing the black aspersions of in­sincerity & hypocrisy upon the most pure and righteous God, conceive that those whom he so generally thus invites and declares himself ready to admit, he hath before by his unalterable decree, irrevo­cably excluded and made incapable of reaping any benefit of this offer.

This then is not (I say) to be concei­ved the reason, why not many of these ranks are called, that is, effectually brought in, in obedience unto Christ.

Neither is the reason hereof simply to be conceived the strength of these strong holds or reasonings, wherewith such per­sons above others are wont to fortifie themselves; as if indeed they were too strong to be battered and demolished by the force of those weapons that were used against them; for some such per­sons, though not proportionable to the great number of others, were daily brought in, and submitted themselves as captives unto Christ; such in the Apostles times were Joseph of Arimathea a great [Page 177]Counsellor, and Nicodemus a Centurion, and Dionysius a Philosopher, and the great Chamberlain of the Queen of Ethiopia, and Zenas learned in Law, and Luke lear­ned in Physick, and Publius the Gover­nour of an Iland: And so hereby it suf­ficiently appears, that there was a vigour in those weapons, for truely pulling down of these Holds, that is, silencing and vanquishing all such reasonings of the flesh, as the condition of such per­sons, namely their learning, or worldly wisdom, or high dignities were apt to suggest to them. So that neither of these, neither any antecedent decree of Gods, nor any impregnable strength of the fore-mentioned Holds is to be conceived the true cause of the standing out of such per­sons, and why not many mighty, &c. were called.

But the true reason hereof is this, that doctrine they were perswaded unto, though it promised many excellent things hereafter, yet it required much se­verity and exactnesse of living at present for coming to the enjoyment of them: A submission, after the patern of the first Authour of it, to the causeless reproaches and injuries of the world, and a constant [Page 178]continued practice of the exercise of godlinesse, righteousness, and sobriety, and so a slight care and esteem of those things which are of so high an account in the world: And besides, they could not but see that the very outward profes­sion and owning of this doctrine, that then so every where was spoke against, and persecuted would expose them to the losse, not onely of that honour and repute which they had above others, but also of that safety and outward prosperi­ty they enjoyed in the world.

Upon these considerations it was, that the most of these persons being willing admirers, and lovers of the world, be­cause of that dignity, and priviledges, and esteem they enjoyed in it, were not willing to submit to the power and authority of him that called them: they would not be perswaded, though they were perswaded, that is, though they had that which was sufficient enough to perswade and convince them that the Apostles doctrine was from heaven, and that the certain way to come thither would be for them to profess and sub­mit to it; yet in regard this could not bee done without parting with those [Page 179]great advantages and ease and priviled­ges they enjoyed in the world, and ma­king themselves subject to the contrary evils, and hazards from it; they resolved out of their setled love to these, still to remain in the condition they were in, rather then make any such exchange.

If they might have had hopes allowed them of enjoying the happiness of hea­ven hereafter together with those privi­ledges and emoluments they were at pre­sent possest of; or if the doctrine com­mended to them might have been pro­fest by them without incurring any ha­zards or inconveniences in this respect, they would readily have come in and sub­mitted: but seeing that great good that was promised in it could not bee come at but upon such harsh and unpleasant tearms; farewell all; they will put all to a venture rather then so entertain it.

Thus (I say) it may appear; that the true cause why not many noble, not many wise according to the flesh, &c. are called, that is, wrought to a submission to the Gospel by the preaching and power of it, is onely a voluntary and obstinate resolu­tion in them, not to be perswaded; not to admit or submit unto that as truth (how [Page 180]ever proved, and enforced) which is like to be so prejudiciall to them in their worldly interests: and this obstinacie is to be looked upon, as occasioned by their carnall reasonings before named, and the grounds of them, namely their outward worldly dignities and high places, &c. But not as certainly caused thereby: for then this effect would have been wrought in all others of the like condi­tion; whereas diverse (as hath been ob­served before) were notwithstanding the strength of them brought into a willing submission to the Gospel, and so there­by at once manifested the power of those weapons for the subduing of all such rea­sonings, and tacitly accused or upbraided others to have in them an inordinate love of the world, which was to bee lookt upon as the sole cause of their standing out and opposition in this kinde.

Thus far wee have spoke of those per­sons that had these strong holds, that is, some more then ordinary carnall reason­ings, which they used for strengthning themselves in their standing out and op­position against Christ, as they had rela­tion to the Apostles and their times, when yet wholly they were unconverted to [Page 181]so much as an outward profession of Christian religion.

It remains now, that I speak of such persons, with relation to our times, as they are amongst us outward professours; or such as have a form of religion, but for the most part deny the power of it, living in many known violations of the lawes of Christ; as many great, and rich and learned men do: which so long as they do, as they are to be conceived to do it by occasion of these strong holds: so they are likewise to bee reckoned as persons that are yet in the broad way, that is, in a way quite contrary to that which leads to heaven, and therefore have need as well as the others to be at­tempted by those weapons that may sub­due them to Christ, that is, make them converts and become Christians indeed. But yet I would not have this so appre­hended, as if I conceived, either that all such persons were onely formall pro­fessours and strangers to the power of godliness; or that their learning, or riches or dignities, and great places in the world were necessary hinderances to religion, and the things which certainly do cause them to be such as for the most part they [Page 182]are: there are (I doubt not, and so I hope still will be) some such as wee be­fore menntioned in the Apostles times, learned men and Governours, and Coun­sellours that are of Christs true retinue; and being so, their learning, wisdom, &c. are so farre from hindering them, that thereby they are enabled to bee more fruitfull in good works; to do God more honour and men amongst whom they live more good then others that want them. The thing that we intend, is, that the greatest part of such per­sons is ordinarily averse to the life of religion or power of godlinesse, and that is those reasonings chiefly which such learning or greatnesse suggests to them, that are the cause, or rather occasion of such averseness.

The former part hath been in effect al­ready proved from that of the Apostle, Not many noble, &c. These words I conceive, being to have a proportionable extent to all times, though they were immediately spoke of that time of the Apostles.

The second part is that which is proper now to be spoke of; namely concerning the reasonings wherwith such persons for [Page 183]tifie themselves against submission to the power of godlinesse: and wee may con­ceive them some way proportionable and like to those reasonings before men­tioned of the Heathen Gentiles, that is:

1. Such as they use to uphold the cre­dit of that empty formality, or livelesse profession of religion wherein they at present live, and which they are not wil­ling to relinquish.

2. Such as serve to asperse that way of strict and universall holinesse and obe­dience, they are exhorted, and laboured to be brought unto.

1. Touching the former; by the em­pty formality, and liveless profession of such, I mean nothing else but their living in the constant and allowed violation of the known laws of Christ, promulgated in the Gospel, such (as to omit other more scandalous sins) are those courses of vanity and prodigality, that many great ones are tainted with; spending their large estates in gorgeous apparel, sum­ptuous feasting and entertainment, and a great part of their time and means in dicing and carding, and other wayes of voluptuousnesse; as if they were placed here in the world, as the Leviathan in the [Page 184]Sea, only to take their pastime therein: and such are those wayes of vain and curious speculations, and disputes and exercises of wit, about curious perplexing and unpro­fitable questions, such as no way serve, but are rather hindrances unto Godlinesse; in which many learned persons wholly in a manner imploy themselves, without bending their studies, as they may and ought, to advance the power of Religi­on in themselves and others: and lastly, such are those courses of worldlinesse, of heaping and hoarding up treasures for themselves, and their heirs, without any proportionable laying them out in pri­vate, or publike good works for the glo­rie of God, and benefit of others; which is the disease of many rich ones in the world.

Now the Holds or reasonings, where­with such persons fortifie themselves herein, are somewhat of a like nature with those before alledged: as

1. A kinde of Antiquity and prescri­ption of time for the practising of them: they are things that have been alwayes used; this hath still been the fashion of the Gentry and Gallantry of the time, think they that are, or desire to be ac­counted [Page 185]for such: and Schollers have alwayes thus exercised their wits and exprest their learning, and thereby attain­ed honour above the vulgar; think those that are, or affect to be eminent in this way: and this skill hath been the pra­ctise of men enjoying or attaining great estates in the world; thus to preserve them to themselves and theirs, think they that are willing to take the same course.

2. A kinde of universality: these are fashions that are every where and gene­rally used, and so have the concurring approbation of all such as so conform to them for the warranting of them.

3. A kinde also of authority: the per­sons that do thus are not mean and simple or vulgar persons, but as their condition speaks them, of the greatest note and eminency in the world, and ordinarily most reputed of for wisdom and under­standing.

And to all these, it may be, they may adde the experience they have had of Gods blessing them in these courses, en­joying, it may be, an uninterrupted pro­speritie, and not conflicting with those difficulties that other persons of a stricter [Page 186]conversation in this kinde often meet with.

2. For that way of punctual and exact holinesse commended in the word; such as is to be reputed contrary to the fore­mentioned and many other corruptions: consisting in walking after the spirit, Rom. Col. 3.2. Phil. 3.20. 1 Cor. 10.31 1 Tim. 6.18. and mortifying the deeds of the flesh, and ha­ving our mindes and meditations in Hea­ven, and doing all to the glory of God, and being rich in good works, in brief, such as consists in a deliberate and exact doing the will of God in every thing; and for that purpose, a daily consulting with his word, and making use of those helps of prayer, meditation, and Christian conferences, commended to us therein, as necessary for that end. This way (I say) is that which such persons will be ready to a­sperse and calumniate, at least in those who seem to be frequenters of it, or to draw others thereunto, in the like manner as the unconverted Heathen did hereto­fore the outward profession of Christian religion, that is,

First, as some new device, invented by some melancholy or pragmaticall and o­ver-busie or precise persons; such as trou­ble themselves with more then becomes [Page 187]them, and affect to be noted for singula­rity, having not the modesty to be content with, and conform themselves to that which is the common and ordinary pra­ctise of the most in this kind.

Secondly, as a way if at all observed yet only in a manner by simple and obscure persons, such as do not or cannot well un­derstand the extent of their priviledges and Christian liberty in this kind; and therefore it cannot but be very unfit for persons of such quality as they are, to take them herein for their examples: If either be to conforme to other, it were fit that these latter that are so farre below them come up to them, and not they de­scend to these.

Thirdly, as a way most unpleasing and uncomfortable, for men wholly to limit themselves to the law of God; to speak or think or do nothing but what it requires or allowes; to spend a great part of their time in prayers, and meditations, and Christian discourses out of the word for edifying themselves in godlinesse; to lay out their means which should make them and their Heirs live in honour and esteem in the world, upon strangers or such as they have no particular obligation to: [Page 188]these are things wherein as a great part of Religion consists; So they are ordinarily lookt upon by such persons as very harsh and unpleasant courses, and such as are very unsuitable with those ends of en­joying worldly repute and profit and pleasures which they have proposed to themselves, and therefore are so farre the more opposite to them.

Fourthly, there are some of the lawes of Christ, and which these persons suffi­ciently know to be such; yet if we may judge (as I know not but we may) by their avowed & deliberate practice in this kind, are lookt upon by them, as things below them, that is, as disgracefull and un­worthy for them to observe; namely, those published touching the abstaining from al revenge and contesting with others, instead where of is commended to us praying and blessing, Matth. 9.44.and doing good to those that hate or hurt us, and turning the other cheek to him that hath smitten us; rather then by our opposition to adde fuel to his en­mi [...]y, and thereby encrease the contenti­on: who are there almost especially of these that are, or would be accounted the Gal­lants of the time, that do not take a quite contrary course? that are not apt to [Page 189]steem these things rather as acts of base­ [...]esse and pusillanimity then of any ho­ [...]our? though in so doing they charge [...]he most gallant and honourable person [...]hat ever was on earth, with being guilty of such basenesse both in his doctrine and [...]xample, namely, our blessed Saviour: These are those strong holds whereby such persons come to be fortified in their sins, making them resolutely go on al their dayes in a wilfull breach of some or more of the known lawes of Christ.

And to all these may bee added that which is indeed the main strength and supporter of all these reasonings in them, and of that carelesnesse or remisnesse in observing the lawes of Christ which flowes from thence, that is, a secret in­ward perswasion derived to them, from some common but unsound doctrine, namely, touching the unnecessarinesse of such pre­cise and universall exact walking and con­forming our selves to the word: that men may be saved and come to Heaven ordina­rily without it; that to relie on the merits of Christ; to apprehend and apply his righteousnesse to our selves, (which is that formality of justifying faith which some teach, and which surely for the nature of [Page 190]the thing may be exhibited in the last sick­nesse, and that by those that for all the time before have constantly neglected the doing of the forementioned duties) that this is sufficient for securing a man of salvation.

This is that common great Engine or Fortress whereby such persons and all others in a manner that are pos­sest of it, become impregnable in their holds; their subduing being in a sort im­possible, and so they themselves in this respect in a more desperate condition then those of the ancient Gentiles the A­postles had to deal with; so long as it remains un-demolisht in them. And therefore in the first place, for pulling down all the Strong holds before menti­oned, the attempt must bee made here against this which pretends to bee built upon, and have for its ground the word it self: and that must be by shewing that which the Scripture will easily enable us unto, as every where in a manner affirm­ing it; Heb. 12.14. Namely that without holinesse which is exprest else where by keep­ing the Commandements of God, 1 Cor. 7.19. and be­ing new creatures, Gal. 6.15. there is no seeing of God to bee expected: that hearing of [Page 191]Christs words without doing of them, makes a man like to a foolish builder, and is a deceiving of himself: Matt. 7.26. Jam. 1.22. Rom. 2.7. that life and im­mortality is onely assured by the Apostle, to those that by patient continuance in well­doing wait for it: 2 Pet. 1.9. That hee that wants the divine Graces of Godlinesse, 2 Pet. 1.9.tempe­rance, charity, and the rest reckoned up by S. Peter, (what ever knowledge he otherwise have) is blinde, Rev. 2.7.11. & 17.26.and can­not see afar off. And lastly, that the crown of life is promised not unto all that fight, but onely to those that overcome, that is, their inward affections and all out­ward temptations which may be hinder­ances of doing Gods will.

Now then; If these things can be rea­sonably thought to bee included in that reliance or faith, which men are taught and are generally so willing to build their main hopes upon; or if they bee indeed such things as can bee transacted by men in their last sicknesse: if it can with any truth or reason be said, that hee who du­ring his life and health, hath conformed himself more to the courses of the world, then to the righteous and heaven­ly Lawes of Christ, having lived in one, or mo such wayes as are directly contrary [Page 192]thereunto; is one that hath kept the com­mandements of God, and lived as a new creature, and hath not been a hearer onely but doer of the word, and by patient conti­nuance in well doing hath lookt for the glorious reward of immortality; and one that hath had and exercised those divine graces of godlinesse, temperance, &c. and lastly; that he is one that hath been a con­querour of his affections, and all worldly intanglements in the course of godlinesse: If these things, I say, can be truly affirmed of the forementioned person, onely upon his mourning for sin in his last sicknefle, or strongly and steddily applying Christs merits and righteousnesse to himself: then there will be good reason for men to comfort themselves, and keep up their confidence at the last what ever course of sin they havelived in, or what ever vo­luntary negligence and remisn [...]sse they have been guilty of in their life time a­bout their doing the will of God: but if these things be (as sure they are, if men will not wilfully shut their eyes) to be reputed [...], things altogether ab­surd and inconsistent to imagine; namely, that he that hath constantly neglected the lawes of God in his life time, is one that [Page 193]hath lived as a new creature and done the will of God, &c. because he mournes for his sins at last, and applies Christs righte­ousnesse to himself; then certainly we may conclude that fort to be of the devils and not of Gods setting up: and so (as in­deed it proves) that which is rather in­tended for the hardning of men to their destruction, then any way for the further­ing of their comfort and salvation.

Consider therefore I beseech you aright of this matter, and let no practice or opi­nion how common or generally received soever draw you away to think or per­swade your selves of that which is so opposite to the plain and express words of Scripture; especially in a matter of this moment, wherein the salvation of your souls is so neerly and certainly concerned. Thus this outward common fort being demolisht, there will be an easier accesse to those other more inward and particu­lar forts before mentioned.

Indeed a through demolishing of this out of mens minds (which is onely possi­ble to be done by soundly demonstrating out of the word the groundlesnesse of it, and so planting the contrary perswasion in men; namely, that there is no hopes of [Page 194]coming to Heaven, but by constant and universall doing the will of God) would be if it were accompanied with answera­ble, that is, an exemplary carriage of those who set about it; effectuall also for the pulling down together therewith all these other particular and indeed weaker holds which we have before mentioned: But so long as this is upheld, and secretly supported (as indeed it is) with the props of some unsound, and corrupt opinions ge­nerally believed and maintained; and so long as we want the use of that wea­pon amongst us of excommunication, which Christ formerly bequeathed to his Church, and which wee have before showne to be so many wayes usefull and necessary for it: we can have no great hopes by any other means or weapons that can be made use of so farre to pre­vail as to bring in any proportionable number of those great multitudes that make profession of, and have given their names to Christ, to become his reall sub­jects and servants; by giving him their hearts, and subjecting all their thoughts and wayes in obedience to him.

But yet still there is somewhat that is possible for us to do; I mean for those [Page 195]that are right Christian souldiers indeed towards the pulling down of the former holds; the silencing and confuting all the reasonings of these great ones of the world against their submitting themselves throughly to the lawes of Christ and so bringing in one or other, as a captive to him.

God hath planted so much light in the minds of these persons (as he hath indeed in the minds of all others as they are men) as cannot but enable them to approve, and even tacitly admire vertue in others, especially when it is singular and eminent; and besides,

Such persons, like as all others, that make but an outward profession of Christ and his religion, yet hereby at least implicitly acknowledge themselves to be under his government, and so bound to pay subje­ction and obedience to his righteous laws, which being so

First it may easily be represented to them hence, that all such pleas as are made from antiquity or universality or authori­ty of men, for going on in, or practising such courses as are not consonant to those righteous lawes of his publisht in the Go­spel, are all vain and groundlesse; for

Can any man professe himself a servant of Christ (as all professing Christian reli­gion do) and in the mean time not bind himself punctually to what he requires of him; but conforme to what the great men or generality of the world practise; and not hereupon plainly see, that in so doing, he is not indeed what he professes, that is, a true but onely a mock servant, especi­ally since we are told, what reason it selfe cannot but confirme; Rom. 6.16. that his servants we are, whom we obey. Can any man be so unrea­sonable as to think that the calling himself a servant to another, or him master, will be sufficient to make that person owne him for such; if so be he do not that which he appoints, and requires of him, but what others that are indeed his ene­mies rather draw him unto?

Secondly, does not this very doctrine of Christ (which such professe) tell them and all others, that God hideth from the wise and prudent that which he revealeth to babes: Matt. 11.25. Luk. 16.15. 1 Joh. 5.16. Matt. 7.14. Luk. 12.32. that that which is of high account with men, is abominable in the sight of God: that the whole world lies in wickednesse: that the way is narrow, and the gate strait, and the flock little that belongs to Hea­ven. And may they not hence then rather [Page 197]suspect and conclude themselves to bee out of that way, and none of that flock, because their courses are so generally owned, and practised, and countenanced by the most and greatest: then upon these grounds presume that they are in the one, or belonging to the other, and so draw thence any comfort, or confi­dence to themselves?

3. Upon the former grounds it may be further made appear to such persons, that all those other exceptions of theirs made either against the persons of those that limit themselves (or are thought to do so) to a strict and universall walking with God; as being mean many times and inconsiderable in other respects; or against the way of thus walking it self, as being melancholy, and unpleasing to the flesh, and which in some of the tracks of it seems dishonourable for men of gallantry to limit themselves un­to, that all such are not onely vain, but in great part wicked and blasphemous a­gainst Christ, whose servants such pre­tend themselves to be, and therefore the practise grounded thereon cannot but bee certainly destructive and damnable: for what can, or ought the meannesse of the [Page 198]persons, especially amongst Christians detract from the credit of the way they go on in; if it bee indeed, that which Christ hath prescribed? does not their thus doing, rather justly upbraid the fol­ly and madnesse of such great and wise persons, as being so great and wise in other things, and having the means that they want, to be so in these, suffer them­selves to be out-done in this kind, and so out-witted by such mean persons, then lay any blemish upon that way it self? Was not Christ himself in his outward appea­rance and conversation very mean, and despicable, one that (as the Prophet sayes) had no beauty in him? and were not his prime retinue such in their out­ward condition, Esay 52.2. 1 Cor. 9.13. being as the filth and off­scouring of the world? And can it then with those that know and beleeve these things, be thought any reasonable ground of exception against the strict and pre­cise way of serving God (which certain­ly is required of us in the Gospel) that those who do so, that is, Christs or­dinary and common followers, are one­ly mean and inconsiderable persons; espe­cially when wee have so many Items in the word, to minde us of the ordinary [Page 199]backwardnesse and scarcity of great per­sons in this kind, and contrarily of the comparative forwardnesse and multitudes of the meaner sort?

Further, touching that which is ob­jected by such persons concerning the un­pleasantnesse and harshness of this way, and the dishonour of practising some things commended to us therein: How can such things bee objected or imagined by any who professes himself a Christian, without so far in effectmaking himself guilty of contradicting his profession; that is, disowning and denying him in his heart and practise whom by his words and outward carriage he pretends to submit unto as his Supream Lord and Ruler? Do not we by our very professing of the doctrine of Christ declare to the world, (though wee say nothing) that hee is the person whom wee have made choise of to serve; and that we account no way so likely or certain, that men are acquainted with or accustomed to, to bring men to happiness and salvation as that which he hath commended to us? and will not then the objecting against this way, that it is unpleasant and diffi­cult, and so a relinquishing of it, or re­fusing [Page 200]to conform to it upon such consi­derations, be not onely a disproving and gainsaying of that which we make shew of professing; but also a preferring of those other wayes, which flesh and blood, and the course of the world enclines us to, above that?

Besides, can any way, or course of living, howsoever otherwise easie, or ad­vantageous to us it may seem to be; bee truly thought fitter or more profitable for us to conform unto then that which he whom we beleeve (according to the Scripture) to be the wisdom of God, and in this respect the image of him that is invisible hath commended and prescribed unto us? Is it possible that there should be any greater wisdom, and consequent­ly any wiser course, then to limit our selves wholly and precisely thereunto? And further, are not all those imagina­tions of the unpleasantness and difficulty of the way sufficiently shewen to bee vain, both by the greatnesse of the glory and end it leads to, and also by the cheer­full and unconstrained walking in it, of men and women of all sorts, and in all ages successively that have been subject to the same naturall passions and infirmi­ties as we are?

Lastly, Touching that which is fan­cied of the shame, or discredit that may seem to be in observing some of the lawes of Christ: As to put up wrongs when it is in our power to revenge them, yea in stead thereof to pray for, and blesse, and do good to such a person as so wrongs us: Who can give entertainment to any such thought, but hee must necessarily in his heart beleeve, that Christ hath been guil­ty of prescribing us something that is base and unworthy, and dishonourable for us to observe? Who can have any such esteem of these things, but he must withall think, 1 Pet. 2.2 [...] that Christ who was cer­tainly the most truely noble and gallant person, and whose example is particular­ly commended to us to imitate in this kind; that he was guilty of such mean and low deportment of himself; that it will not be for the honour of them who professe themselves his servants and fol­lowers, to conform to him therein? Could it be honourable for him, whom we call our Lord and Master to do so as he did, that is, when hee was reviled not to revile again, &c. And shall this bee thought dishonourable for his servants? Is it not sufficient for the servant that he [Page 202]be as his Master, but that hee must affect to be above him? to partake of such an honour as hee never had, and which in­deed he is not willing to allow us to have, as being truly not an honour, but a disgracefull and unworthy thing?

For so indeed is all revenge, how­ever speciously cloakt with the name of valour, Ephes. 4.2. or greatnesse of Spirit: It is a giving place to the Devil, a submitting ones self to that person who is made up of malice and wickednesse, by doing of that which is most agreeable to his de­sires and disposition; who delights in nothing more then in destroying and do­ing of hurt. Whereas contrarily the do­ing of good freely, and undeservedly; yea when the contrary is merited and many wayes provoked, is that, which renders us most like unto GOD, who makes his Sun to shine, Matt. 5.49.both on the evil, and the good, and rain to fall both upon the just and unjust: Labouring by the riches of his goodnesse, exhibited in his temporall blessings, and patience, and for­bearance, and long suffering of his ene­mies to work them to repentance; when it is in his power, and hee might justly without any such waiting instantly de­stroy [Page 203]them: And hereupon our Saviour uses this as an argument not only to per­swade us to expresse the like benignity, but also to convince us, that without so doing, wee cannot be indeed, what ever we may think our selves, the sons or chil­dren of God. This is that, which onely can manifest us to partake of the Divine Nature; of a godlike disposition; and so to do that which is truely noble and honourable; when as the contrary car­riage as plainly manifests those that pra­ctise it, to bee herein children, and fol­lowers of the Devil; and so consequent­ly, that that revenge which is so com­monly and generally practised, especially by gallants, is not onely against the com­mandment of Christ, but also (what ever opinion men have entertained of the noblenesse and gallantry of it) is that which proves them to bee guilty of true basenesse and unworthinesse that makes use of it. And this might be further ma­nifested to the greater shame and convi­ction of such persons, from the doctrine and practise of some of the wisest Hea­then in this matter; who have shewen by both these, that they held it more noble and honourable for a man to pardon his [Page 204]enemies, yea to desire and do him good; then to take or seek revenge of him, when as otherwise he might lawfully do it: which opinion and practise of theirs, being they were men that had neither re­ceived any positive command thereof, nor had any future reward proposed to encourage them thereunto; doth at once fully justifie the equitablenesse of this thing in it self, and also upbraid the sen­suality and sinfull corruption of such Christians, who having both received an expresse command for so doing, and withall being encouraged thereunto by the hopes of such a glorious reward pro­posed, as none greater can be imagined; yet still allow themselves in the contrary practise.

And thus wee see at length, how vain and groundlesse all these excuses or carnall reasonings are wherewith many labour to fortifie themselves against the power of godlinesse, that is, against a through unre­served and universall submission to the lawes of Christ; so vain indeed we have shewed them to be that the persons who make profession of Christ, cannot but by vertue of that profession, and of that na­turall light which is remaining in them, [Page 205]be in a manner [...] self-condemn­ed, so long as upon these grounds, or by vertue of these holds they stand out as most do, from giving themselves up wholly in obedience unto Christ.

Hence then we may see, what grounds there are whereon to hope that by the use of the forementioned weapons, that is, a reall and continued practice of the duties of holinesse commended to us in the Gospel; the servants of God may in time prevail upon some or other such per­sons living among them to bring them in captivity unto Christ, their strength is but weak, their holds infirm and rotten: there needs no such engine as miracles to throw them down: there is somewhat within these persons themselves, namely, a natu­rall light or knowledge of good and evill, together with a conscience of an outward professing of Christ that will be ready to take part with that that shall be outward­ly applied for subduing them, that is, with those weapons of heavenly graces shi­ning forth in the lives of Christs servants.

These truly and incessantly practised, cannot but be mighty through God for the pulling down of all those holds and silencing those reasonings before mentioned for [Page 206]them, to see men of the like passions and infirmities with themselves, and it may be inferiour in many outward respects to take pleasure in those things which to them are so harsh and difficult; to con­temne and slight those things which they so highly love and admire; to preferre the doing of the will of God before the satisfying of their sensuall desires or worldly interests; these things I say, can­not but have some effect upon them; if not fully to convert them, yet to abate the growth of wickednesse in them, and to make them justifie God in this respect; that no more is required by him of them then what others perform, and they themselves might but for their own wil­full obstinacy and aversenesse.

An Appendix to the former discourse.

ALL are generally so wise who engage themselves in a carnall warfar (the use and exercises where­of are now to the re­proach of Christianity so common among Chri­stians) as to know that a profession of fighting never actuated, or grieving and condemning themselves after the season of fighting is let slip for so omitting it, can be nothing available towards at­taining the end of this warfar; and there­fore ordinarily so bestir themselves when the time serves, through all difficulties lying in their way, as may most conduce to the said end, or to the gaining those worldly advantages they herein aim at: though they know they may probably perish in their venturing for these, and so not onely [Page 2]fall short of what they thus earnestly con­tend for, but also hereby that which is truely of more value, and for the better­ing of which they are to bee presumed to fight, namely their lives; and though they may know also that the utmost proposed herein to themselves, or possible to be by this means acquired, being at­tained, is but as a bubble which depends upon a little breath, and is certainly let out and lost with it; and yet in our Christian warfare where the prize pro­fessed to be fought for is (and so common­ly is acknowledged) most certain in it self, and infinitely glorious for the excellency and lastingnesse of it; men are generally so opinionated, as if the formentioned profession of fighting never really acted, or some late sorrow for neglecting, it when now there wants time to perform it, would bee abundantly sufficient for gaining the said prize: whence els may wee think is it that the most ordinarily content them­selves with such faint and slight velitations in this kind? or to speak more plainly and without a figure, whence is it els, that the generality of Christians allow them­selves in a supine neglect of some one or more of the lawes of Christ promulgated [Page 3]in the gospel, in the uniform and conti­nued observing of which, this kind of fighting truly consists.

I have no pleasure to accuse others in this kind; but yet it is no lesse easy, than truly lamentable to observe what small conformity there is betwixt those lawes of Christ, and the lives of Christians: and, because the opening of a soare is to be a preparative to the healing of it, I shall (intending now chiefly to contribute my paines and kill for bringing those two neerer together) first endeavour to lay open what a distance they are at, that is, how great the corruption is of the latter, name­ly of the lives of Christians, by setting forth how much the former, to wit, the lawes of Christ are disused, if not con­temned by those who professe themselves for such persons, that is Christians.

By the lawes of Christ, I mean nothing els, but those divine precepts of holinesse either cleerly deliverd by him, or by those that were certainly acted by his Spirit (having had him speaking in them) the sacred penmen of holy writ: 2 Cor. 13.2. which pre­cepts, though they are very numerous in themselves, and lie much dispersed, yet they may I conceive appositely be reduced to [Page 4]that one gospell-rule, set down Tit: 2.12. being all to be comprized unto those three heads there mentioned, of godlinesse, righ­teousnesse and sobriety; and in this way I shall briefly reflect upon them by sum­marily representing the expresse duties that are prescribed under each of these heads, and withall the evident and com­mon violations of the said duties.

First then for godlinesse, which is that part (as here it is to be taken) of religion which immediatly & directly respects God himself: Lu. 18.1. 1 Thess. 5.17. it consists (as wee may conceive from scripture) in a kind of constant and unwearie calling upon God by prayer; and in other exercises relating imme­diatly to the things of the kingdome of heaven, Math. 6.33. the place where God inhabits; as in seeking first that place, and the things belonging thereunto; so as not to be truly sollicitous for any other things here below, and in setting our minds and affections on these things; Col. 3.1.2 which thing what it imports wee may easily know by that care and longing and intention of mind that the setting of mens affections on other things is ordinarily accompanied with; and lastly in exhorting, 1 Thess. 5.11. Jude. 20.and edifying one another [Page 5]by frequent mutuall and deliberate con­ferences on such matters; all which are required either as parts to make up, or as testimonies to express the foresaid god­liness or devotion required in us.

Now where shall we find amongst the numerous multitudes of professours any considerable numbers exemplifying such godliness in their practice? do not most mens words, and actions (though wee cannot otherwise see into their minds and closets) sufficiently tell us that their minds are not set upon heaven or the things a­bove, and consequently that they are strangers to such incessant communion with God, as our Saviour, and the Apostle re­quires we should have with him by prayer? how little are matters of Religion (espe­cially for the practick parts of it) made the subject of mens discourse? how few are there, that doe commonly and de­liberatly talk of the things of the king­dome of heaven? is not such talk in res­pect of the temper of most companies as unseasonable as snow in Summer? yea is it not ordinarily reputed melancholy [...]alk, and therefore seldome willingly entred [...]nto, but at melancholy times, as of sick­ness or of some present or imminent judg­ment, [Page 6]when the comforts of the world begin to hide themselves or threaten quite to forsake us?

2. Touching righteousness, which is that part of Religion, which in the exer­cises of it respects men, we are to conceive it to consist not only in the doing of those things which by the laws of men are ac­counted righteous; but also in those higher strains of perfection which by the divine laws of Christ are made righteous, or ra­ther necessary for us to observe; as name­ly (to omit others which we shall have occasion under the next head to touch upon) requiting the evill wishes, and words, and deeds of others towards us, Mat. 5.44.with a quite contrary carriage, that is, praying for, and blessing, and doing good to them: this being that divine revenge which the Gospell only allows us, Rom. calling it a hea­ping of coals of fire upon their heads, and commending it as the most effectuall way for overcomming their evill in this kind.

Now where shall we find any patterns almost, representing such righteousness in their practice? who sees not and is not also ready to cry out of that palpable coze­ning and deceit, and over-reaching that the most in all trades and professions or­dinarily [Page 7]make use of, whereby the com­mon dictates of justice approved of and authorized with Heathen Nations are directly violated? and therefore for those higher doctrines of loving and blessing, and doing good to and praying for enemies; what likelihood can there be of any answera­ble performance of them? yea, it is plain, that these doctrines being literally under­stood (as they ought to be) and in their true extent, they are as Utopian Chymaeraes; such as have no existence in a manner, save in the Scriptures and mens imagi­nations; the practice of Christians whe­ther considered in greater or lesser societie, being quite contrary thereunto: nor only so, but which is yet much worse, that forementioned deportment of our selves towards our enemies, so plainly required of us by Christ, is in the account of many, who profess themselves Christians, held as a mean and dishonourable thing, though the person requiring it whom we call our Lord, and who was truly the most noble person that was ever on earth, hath not only gone before us in the pra­ctice thereof himself; but also practised it to this end, to leave us an example, 1 Pet. 2.22. and that we might follow his steps.

[Page 8]3. Concerning the last head, sobriety; which is that part of Religion which di­rectly respects our selves, we are to con­ceive it, (as here it is to be taken) to con­sist for the generall, in such a moderating of our desires, and regulating of our car­riage, as may fit us for performing the offices of both the former; that is

1. In this, that we love not the world, nor the things of it: all which things St. John comprizeth under these three heads, 1 John. 2.15.16. namely, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life: by the first whereof is meant an excessive thirsting after sensuall and carnall pleasures; by the second, a covetous desire of riches, which are often sought and so possessed by many for no other use in effect, but for the eye, or fancy (as it were) to feed upon; and by the third, ambition or desire of vain glory manifesting it self in such effects as these; boasting of ones self, despising or slighting others, affectation of making a pompous shew in apparell or other outward things: the contraries to all which are those three vertues which moderate all these exces­ses; namely temperance, contentedness, and humility, being as branches of the fore­said Sobriety, and hereby St. John impli­citly [Page 9]prescribed us in these two words, love not, and that not only as things most righteous in themselves, and to preserve in us a regular temper of mind, free from such disturbances, as the contrary excesses are ordinarily accompanied with; but also as things requisite to dispose us towards the performing of those acts of piety and righteousness which we owe towards God and men: it being not possible that where the former law and earthly affections take place, these should ever be truly performed.

2. As another part of the former so­briety it is required, that our outward carriage be answerably tempered with wisdom and gravity; Phil. 4.8. that whatsoever things are honest, or rather (as the Greek imports) venerable, we should think upon those and doe them: and therefore that our speech be alwaies with grace, Col. 4.6.seasond with salt, namely of wisdom, Eph. 4.29. that it may be good for the use of edifying, and such as may Minister grace to the hearers.

And where now shall we find any vi­sible copies almost, that is, any living examples holding forth such sobriety in their practice? may it not be said of one sort of Christians, that they are lovers of [Page 10]pleasures more than lovers of God; when as all their time in a manner (save what their worldly entanglements and occasi­ons require of them) is taken up in ea­ting and drinking, dicing and carding, or some such ways of voluptuousness; as if they had been placed here in the world, as the Leviathan in the Sea, only to take their pas [...] time therein? and may it not be said of another sort, that the God of this world hath blinded their eyes, namely with the dazeling splendour of riches, and worldly profits, presented in their full (but false) glory to them? when as notwith­standing the danger our Saviour hath forewarned us there is in these things; and the charge the Apostle hath laid upon those that have them to be rich in good works; not only their thoughts ap­pear to be taken up with a continued successive series of cares about them, whereby they are often cast upon unjust or scandalous courses for getting or en­creasing them: but also their enjoying of them is wholy in a manner ingrossed to themselves; to feed their eyes with the pleasure of beholding them, or their other Iusts of ambition and sensuality, by laying them out so as these incite them: and may [Page 11]we not think that there is a third sort of whom it may be said, that that which St. John cals the pride of life hath taken up the chief room in their hearts? when as so many signs or rather effects thereof are open to the notice of all; such as high looks, painted faces, gorgeous apparell, boasting (at least obliquely) of their own worth or parts, or of that which is not truly their own, genus & proaves, the ver­tue or it may be only the wealth and greatness of their Ancestours: things all utterly inconsistent with that humility which our Saviour hath placed as the first round in that ladder whereby we are to climb to heaven; and doe not these three sorts (to say nothing of those other brea­ches of this sobriety, consisting in vain talking and foolish jeasting, so common with most persons, as drunkards, swea­rers, &c. not so distinctly comprized un­der these heads) make up every where with us as well as Papists, the far greatest number of Christians, even of those which are the knowing and civill part of them?

By all which it may appear, that those lawes of Christ, (or rules of life) pre­scribed us in the gospel, however known [Page 12]and acknowledged for such, are not indeed (hardly by any that so acknow­ledge them) looked upon and accounted as binding lawes, that is, so binding as that heaven the glorious prize held forth to us therein cannot possibly be come at but by a constant and impartiall observing of them: Men hereby (I conceive) de­clare and that more really than they could well otherwise by their words, that they think a bare knowledge or professi­on of these lawes never actuated into such an observance, nor indeed ever truly in­tended to be so is all that is indispensably required of them in reference to that place, and so that heaven may be won by those that onely professe to fight for it, without really doing so.

Now one principall aim of the former discourse is to work men off this pleasing but pernicious perswasion; to show, that which I shall now more largely insist on and confirm, namely, that these lawes of Christ were given to another end than onely to be known or talked of; that the glorious reward of eternall life, re­vealed and proposed to the world by him (though it infinitely exceed for the true worth of it, the utmost imaginable extent [Page 13]of our obedience; so that wee could not be said upon a supposall of our absolute freedom from sin and continued walking in gods commandements all our dayes, properly to merit it; yet) cannot be come at but in that narrow way which he hath limited: that wee must come up to Christs own tearmes if wee will indeed purchase this rich pearl, and these tearmes are no other but the observing of the fore­said lawes, Math. 11.29. or as our Saviour himself speakes, the taking of his yoke upon us (his easy yoke, as he calls it, as beeing by him lightned of those numerous and ser­vile ceremonies which made it formerly lie so heavy on the necks of Gods people) of which metaphoricall expression St. Act. 15.10. John renders us the sense in plain words; by telling us, 1 Joh. 5.3. that this is the love of God that wee keep his commandements, namely those delivered to us by his son Christ, whom he had commanded all to hear; and which commandements (especially as sweetned with the hopes of the former reward) are not grievous as he there affirmes: Math. 17.5. yea in the keeping of these it is that the same Apostle makes the know­ledge of Christ to consist, telling us that he that saith, 1 Joh. 2.4.he knoweth him and keepeth [Page 14]not his commandements is a lyar and the trut his not in him. The Anti­nomians. There are some (I know) that have found out shorter and easier wayes (as they imagin) to the kingdome of heaven; who not onely think the former course unnecessary for any to engage themselves in, but ordinarily de­cry the pressing and perswading thereof, as that which tends to the setting up (as they call it) of self-righteousnesse; and to detract from Christ that honour which they conceive can onely by a confident reliance on him separated from all such qualifications in our selves truly redound to him.

Now though wee may well admire how this opinion should ever come to attain so much credit as to gain any pro­selytes among Christians, or how the patrons of it should come to have such boldnesse to vent it with that confidence as they have done when wee consider what a flat and direct opposition it beares to the main current of the gospel; and particularly to those 3 chapters in Math. Math. 5.6.7. wherein our Saviours sermon is con­tained, and to the first epistle of John; yet I cannot but acknowledge this cause of wondring to be much abated, when [Page 15]I consider withall the answerable oppo­sition that there is betwixt those lawes of Christ, and the sensuall desires that are naturally in men; which being alwayes ready at hand to put men on such wayes as are most pleasing, or least distastfull to the flesh, it is no marvell if the said de­sires so far prevail some time on the judg­ment, as to perswade it to passe sentence on their side; that is, to judge such wayes most safe and warrantable, which are most pernicious, and damnable in themselves.

This is to be reckond the true originall cause I conceive of the foresaid opinion, and of mens resoluteness in holding it: Most are desirous to come to heaven, by as short and easy a course as may bee; and they very well know that it is longum iter per praecepta, a very tedious and dif­ficult voyage thither by the way of Christs commandes, that is, onely by the constant and continued expressions of the former Godlinesse, righteousnesse, & sobriety to look for (as the Apostle requires wee should) the blessed hope promised; what mar­vell then is it if this desire and this know­ledge joined together in them, make them willing to find out and entertain such opi­nions, as promise heaven upon easier [Page 16]terms than such harsh conditions? what marvell is it if upon this ground among the many figurative, and some of them obscure formes of speech, wherewith the scripture abounds, some be understood in such a sense, as makes our proper, and personall obedience to the lawes of Christ, a thing unnecessary in this kind? especially when (as in this case through the cunning of the false angel of light it is pretended) by such a sense and inference from it, the honour of Christ may be thought to be better provided for, he having hereby that glory at least implicity ascribed to him, of saving us so perfectly by his own merits and righteousnesse, as not to stand upon any thing to be performed by us.

But as (I suppose) all will grant, there are some things so clearly affirmed in Scripture, that if an angel from heaven should teach us the contrary, wee were not to assent thereunto, nor to suffer our selves to be drawn off the belief of the said things (such as in this present matter are these positions: without holinesse no man shall see God; Heb. 12. Joh. 3. Math. 7.except a man be rege­nerate he cannot enter into the kingdome of heaven; hee that hears Christs words, and doth them not, is like unto a foolish [Page 17]man &c.) so I answerably conceive, if there be any opinion which either expresse­ly, or by it's naturall force and consequence shall contradict such things so affirmed, or the plain meaning of the said positi­ons, making heaven truly possible to be come at without holinesse, or being rege­nerate, or doing of Christs words, it is without scruple to bee rejected, what ever numbers of adherents, or prescription of time, or seeming colour of some other parts of Scripture, it may have for com­mending and upholding the credit of it: It is most certain, and so generally also acknowledged, that the gospel, the oracle of truth, admits no reall contradictions betwixt any of the parts of it; and it is (I conceive) or ought to be not much lesse certain, that the true sense of the foresaid positions, together with those other formes of speech to the same effect, wherewith the Scripture plentifully a­bounds, is no other but this which the words plainly and in their literall sense hold forth; namely that our personall, and actuall observing of the words, or com­mands of Christ, is precisely requisite to constitute us heirs of salvation; or (which comes all to one) that, without holinesse [Page 18]and our being regenerate persons, which implyes a reall, and universall change of of our courses and affections, the kingdom of heaven is not to be attained.

Now who sees not that if there be any other expressions of the said Scripture (as some few I acknowledge there are) that may in themselves seem capable of a contrary sense, that is, so as to afford and allow men hopes of salvation upon easier tearmes than doing of Christs words, or having such an effectuall change wrought in themselves; who may not see hence (I say) that there is a necessity of understanding the said expressions in another sense, than that which shall evidently contradict the plain meaning of the foresaid plain, and plentifull as­sertions? should not the fewer places (as in this matter they certainly are) be rather brought to a conformity with the more, than the more be bended to the fewer, especially when (as in this case it will be found) the sense of the more considered singly, and with reference to one another, is plain, and rationall, and easy to be apprehended; but being re­duced to that which is the seeming or supposed sense of the fewer becomes [Page 19]irrationall or intricate? should not the plain, and frequent expressions of Scrip­ture on this subject, rather make us con­sidently hold, that our own personall per­formance of those things commanded us by Christ, is indispensably necessary for at­taining of salvation; than some dark and figurative formes of speech incline us to hold the contrary, and make us promise our selves heaven without such perfor­mance, upon I know not what ground­lesse reliance on Christs merits? surely in reason it should be so, and so it would be (I doubt not) in this case but for the forementiond cause, namely that men being willing to come to heaven with as much ease as may be, are easily tempted to believe the easiest way thither to be the best, and therefore through the devills cunning are soon perswaded to take more notice, and more stifly insist on one text seemingly making that way, than on twenty other implying the contrary.

As for that which is pretended, that this way of pressing obedience to Christs lawes, or requiring our own personall per­formances, as necessary to salvation, is that which tends to dishonour Christ, and makes for the exalting of our selves, and [Page 20]setting up that which some call self-righ­teousnesse.

This (I say) is a very groundlesse pre­tence, and if thorowly looked into, will appear to be but a plausible artifice of the great impostour, not of strength suffi­cient to deceive any, but those that are in effect willing to be deluded by it: for doth not our Saviour himself plainly enough tell us, that this indeed onely is the way whereby wee can truly honour him, and that all verball professions, and magnifyings of him with high titles, se­parated from the former performances, are but empty formalities, which he re­gards not? as where he saith not they that say unto me, Math. 7.21.Lord, Lord (that is, as if he had said, not those that give him spe­cious and honourable titles, by telling him, or it may be, telling it to others, that they will account him their perfect Savi­our; that his merits and righteousnesse they will wholly look and rely upon, and not have any respect to what is in or done by themselves) shall enter into the king­dome of heaven; but they that doe the will of my father that is in heaven: and so likewise, where he tells his disciples, and in them us, Joh. 15.8. that herein is his Father [Page 21]glorified, if we bring forth much fruit: Ver. 9. and that, by keeping his commandements we can only abide in his love: the keeping of those, being that wherein St. 1 John 5.3. John makes the love of God (from whence only our honouring of him can proceed) truly to consist.

By thus doing, we give Christ that ho­nour which belongs to him as our Lord, and King, in regarding and submitting our selves to his laws; we give him also hereby that honour, which belongs to him as our purchaser, and redeemer, in limiting our selves to his service, he having for this purpose by the expence of his blood bought us (or done that which is sufficient for so buying us) out of our former servitude to sin; and lastly we give him hereby that honour which is due to him as the Apostle of our profes­sion, Heb. 3.1. or as that great prophet and ambas­sadour immediatly sent from God, to reveal and promise us that eternall life, 1 John 1.2.which was before with the Father (that is, hid in his decree) by shewing our selves hereupon so undoubtedly to believe this, as to prefer the expectation of it, before all our present interests and worldly con­cernments; which thing, by our keeping [Page 22]of his words, we must needs, and can only so show.

Neither is there any danger hereby of setting up (as is pretended) self-righteous­ness; this tearm being rightly understood: If we had indeed, unallured by those vast and divine promises which Christ hath made and confirmed to us from God, and unsollicited by those admirable perswa­sive arguments, exhibited in his life, death, rising, and exaltation, rendred (as wee were bound) an exact and uniform obe­dience to the righteous laws of God, we should so have had that which might be properly called self-righteousness, as be­ing (on this supposall) wrought out and from our selves; though this righteous­ness so wrought being no more but out duty and homage, for what we had al­ready received, could only of it self, and separated from Gods free promise of re­warding it, have given us this matter of glorying; namely, to challenge as of right thereby belonging to us, an exemp­tion from punishment: but now that that obedience which we perform to the com­mands of God, is of right to be reckond to owe its originall to the fore-alleged cau­ses, that is, to those things, said and done [Page 23]and transacted in and by Christ; we ha­ving also lived (and perhaps very long) in many great and continued violations of the said commands before the divine force of the said things could have its ef­fect upon us, as that righteousness, which we thus exhibit by our performance of those commands, is in regard of our for­mer unrighteousness going before, far from such a righteousness as may afford us occasion of the former glorying, that is, to exempt us from all punishment, by the vertue of it; so it is to be acknowledged for whatsoever perfection it, hath to be derived to, and wrought in us, by Christ; he being by the foresaid means, the au­thour and procurer thereof in us: and therefore it is not to be called our own, or self-righteousness, Phil. 3. but (as the Scripture stiles it) the righteousness of Christ, (or rather, which is through the faith of Christ) springing in us from him, as the fountain and cause of it.

And hereupon the Apostle sayes, that Christ is made unto us righteousness, name­ly, 1 Cor. 1.30. in the same manner as he is made to us wisdom, and sanctification, and re­demption (for all these are together affir­med of him) that is, so as to be the au­thour [Page 24]of that, like as he is of these in us; we having thorowly digested Christs do­ctrine in our selves become hereby truly righteous, as we are thereby also truly or really (and not only in esteem or imagi­nation) wise, and sanctified, and redee­med persons; but in regard it is from Christ, that we are so, who in the for­mer admirable manner, and to himself chargeable way, hath made us such persons; all the glory of our being so is of right to be ascribed not to our selves, but to him.

If any yet shall be so over-criticall, as to call this righteousness (notwithstanding its thus proceeding from Christ) because truly and personally in us and acted by us, our own or self-righteousness; though I may tell such a person, that the Scripture (with which sure it cannot but be fittest, and safest to speak in divine matters) owns not the word in this notion, nor truly af­fords any ground for so understanding it: yet being not willing to contest with any about words, I shall consent that for the alleged causes it may logically enough be called so; but then I must adde with­all, that as such a self-righteousness for the fore-mentiond reasons yields no true [Page 25]ground of glorying to us, or of challen­ging any thing of God, by the merit of it, so it is an indispensable condition on our part, without which heaven cannot be attained: and this (not to insist on former proofs) our Saviour hath in effect ex­presly told us, by saying, Mat. 5.20 except your righ­teousness (by which sure is meant, a per­sonall and inherent, and so far a self-righ­teousness) exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharises ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven: and to this, I shall only adde one proof more, taken from the epithite or concrete appellation, righte­ous. The servants of God in Scripture are often called by this name, 1 Pet. 4.18. and all that are designed for salvation are comprized under this title or denomination of righ­teous; which tearm that it implies not any imaginary righteousness without us, nor that which is only intentionally, and so ineffectually within us, but a [...]call and solid righteousness, truly existent in, and acted by us, St. John sufficiently informs us, when he gives this description of it (prefixing a caution that none draw us to think otherwise) he that doth righteous­ness is righteous: 1 John 3.7. by all which it may appear, that as it is requisite for our at­taining [Page 26]the kingdom of heaven, that we be righteous; so it is a like requisite, that we actually doe righteousness, that wee may be truly stiled with this title; and so that a self-righteousness in this sense is necessarily required of us.

There are yet some other impressions (I conceive) to be supposed in the minds of many; which so long as they remain, cannot but proportionably hinder the digesting of that perswasion, which it is my design to commend: and they are such, as we may imagin have been wrought especially by the force of two in­stances:

1. The first is that passage in the begin­ning of the late Common Prayer Book. At what time soever a sinner doth repent him of his sin, from the bottom of his heart, I will put all his wickedness out of my re­membrance saith the Lord.

2. The example of the penitent thief.

To either of which, being of common influence, I shall endeavour to say some­what, which may be at once serviceable for stopping the ill use that is made of both, and for further clearing and con­firming the matter in hand.

1. Touching the former; though that [Page 27]book in respect of publike use be now dis­authorized, yet it is probable not only that some retain still a reverend esteem of it, and of most things contained in it, but also that that sentence is fresh still in the memories of most, and so apt (with some at least) to keep them in this perswasion (which seems to be the direct and naturall meaning of it) that repentance or unfeig­ned grieving for sins past, and a like in­tention of avoiding them for the future (for this is that which most have been wont to understand by repentance) at what time soever, even though so late, as there is not possibility of putting such in­tention into act, will be acceptable with God, for obtaining full remission of sins, and so for salvation.

But I shall desire those, who upon this ground are willing to be possessed with this perswassion, for a sufficient consuta­tion of it, only to look into and seriously consider that place in Ezek, from whence that sentence is pretended to be taken; where the words are these; Ezek. 18.21.22. If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my Statutes, and doe that which is lawfull and right, he shall surely live, he shall not dye, all his [Page 28]transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned to him, in his righteousnesse that he hath done, he shall live: who may not easily see what a vast distance there is betwixt these words and those of the Common prayer-book; which yet are pretended to be either a formall recitall of these, or at least such a ren­dring of them, as is in sense fully equi­valent? Is it not plain hence, that besides, and after the turning from all our sins (which seemes all that is intended to be signified by that phrase of repenting of them from the bottome of our heart) there is expressely required a keeping of all Gods statutes, and doing that which is lawfull and right, (of which there is no mention at all in that saying in the Common prayer-book) as a necessary con­dition for attaining that remission of sins and life there promised?

I am willing to suppose that those who were authors of that liturgy, and so of this saying in it, knew how by the vari­ous acception of the word, repent, to reconcile in sense this saying, and the next together; and so were able thereby to vindicate themselves from that, which might seem otherwise to be justly charg­ed [Page 29]upon them herein, namely, wilfull falsifying or perverting the words of Scrip­ture; yet as I can see no true reason, why pretending (as they did) to deliver the unquestionable sense of the Spirit of God, they should so far neglect the words certainly dictated from this Spirit, as in stead thereof to use in this matter, expres­sions wholly of their own framing: so I cannot but think that their thus doing, and rendring or reciting that text as they have done, was and is still (especially considering the former corrupt notion of repentance, that many have been, and yet are ordinarity possessed with) a most dangerous rock; at once to harden and continue men in their sins, and to make them (but most deceitfully) promise themselves heaven, upon some late inef­fectuall mourning for them at the last, notwithstanding their continuance in them, till that time.

2. Touching that other instance, taken from the example of the penitent thief, I think it may be in some manner said of him, that since he was crucified and dead, he hath killed far more soules, than being alive he hurt or destroyed bodies; but it is and hath been through the fault [Page 30]of men themselves, with whom this one example (how ever not possible to be paralleld, as wee shall presently show) is of more force, than the whole gospell, or doctrine of Christ. Those who are ready to flatter themselves upon this ground, by thinking that a blessed and happy death may be the sequel of a dissolute life, as it was in him; if they will but heedfully consider the circumstances (so far as the Scripture layes them open) of this persons repentance, which was indeed as late as could be; will easily find that it is not possible for them, though they would never so gladly, to be truly like unto him herein, and so that the promise made to him can derive no comfort at all to them; for

1. This thief did not (for any thing that appeares in Scripture) know, or acknowledge Christ before this time, that he was now hanging on the crosse, and so, ready to dye with him; then it was that he began to make profession of him, and was first ingrasted into him by faith; but those Chrislians who are wont to allege this example for the accep­tance of their late sorrow, are to be sup­posed to have acknowledged Christ long [Page 31]before the time of their dying; even in a manner all their life time, having been so long constant professours of him.

2. This thief, after his faith or declar­ed profession of Christ, had no space left him for correcting, or changing his course of life; whatsoever good he could do then on the crosse, he did it, as in rebuk­ing of his fellow thief; acknowledging the justice of his own and his sufferings; asserting Christs innocency; and by his praying to him giving him divine wor­ship, and expressing his faith in him; but the fore-mentiond persons are such, as af­ter their profession of Christ, have large spaces, or proportions of time afforded them (their profession ordinarily begin­ning with their first use of reason, and so running on in an eeven line with their lives) and yet they could never find any season for setting effectually about the work of reforming their lives, that is, for thorowly observing Christs lawes in ren­dring that obedience thereunto, which was both possible for them, and they made profession of: their practise hitherto (namely, till the approaching time of their death) hath been a contradiction of such their profession; and so their religion [Page 32]for so long is to bee reckoned nothing but a formall hypocrisy or dissembling.

3. This thief had, and manifested then, so great a faith as was not in the Apostles themselves; he then firmly be­lieved in Christ, when their faith in him (tis plain by their forsaking of, and flying from him, and those words of distrust they used, as, wee trusted that it had been he, Lu. 24.21.&c.) began to fail: he acknowledged Christ hanging on the crosse, to be about entring into a kingdome; and neither being deterred with Christs nor his own death, he trusted that Christ would be mindfull of him, and could again reduce him to life: who can possibly now have such a faith? have not all that professe Christ an opinion of his being (like as he truly is) in supreme power, and glory? and is it not much easier to believe in such a person, namely, in him that is risen from the dead, and is invested with all power in heaven, and in earth, than in him who being now a dying, is forsaken and scornd, and derided in a manner by all men, as Christ truly was? yet such was the faith of this thief, that is, indeed a most singular and admirable faith (suitable to those other prodigies, that [Page 33]accompanied Christs death, as condu­cing to the solemnity of it;) and therefore most worthy through the divine bounty to justify this person with our most gra­cious God: but till Christ come to suffer again (which will never be) no more examples of this faith, or of such belie­vers are to be expected: and consequently this persons example, and the happy issue he had of his late repentance, can be no ground of comfort for the fore-mentiond persons; it being not possible, that his case should be theirs, or that their repen­tance should be answerable to his in any thing, save in that which was truly of least moment in it, the lateness of it.

Now touching that corrupt notion of repentance before spoken of, which seems to be nourished and upheld in many, chief­ly by the influence derived from the two former instances; though what hath been said in answer to these, may in great part serve to show the corruption and unsound­ness of it; yet for the fuller manifesting of this, and together therewith, that which is truly imported by the word repentance; I shall directly set down what I conceive we are by the light of Scripture to ap­prehend in this matter.

The repentance then (I say) which the Scripture so much commendeth, and pro­miseth such blessings to, as for giveness of sins, and eternall life, doth not consist only in a grief of mind for sins past; yea it does not at all properly consist in this (this being rather to be accounted a pre­paration and disposition to, than a part of it) but it is (as the word [...] imports) a change of the mind formerly in love with sin and unrighteousness, into a bet­ter state and temper, that is, such a change, whereby not only it unfeignedly con­demns and detests the former course of living; but also hath a reformation of the whole life, and manners accompa­nying it; and this (I conceive) the Apostle sufficiently implys, when hee tels the Corinthians, 2 Cor. 7.9.10. that they sorrowed to repen­tance: and further says, that godly sorrow works repentance: by which expressions, he at once shows, that sorrowing or godly sorrow is a fore-runner, and cause of re­pentance; and also that repentance is a thing truly distinct from such sorrow: and that can be no other thing than such a change, as we have named; which he further also confirms at the 11. ver. by di­stinctly setting down the effects of that sor­rowing [Page 35]in the said Corinthians.

There is an usuall saying, that true repentance is never too late, or (which comes all to one) that it is and will be alwaies profitable: and this I shall rea­dily grant, taking true repentance in that sense, wherein I have expressed it, which I conceive is only truly so: but then, I must adde withall, that it may be some­times too late for having this repentance, or that this repentance is not alwaies du­ring this life possible; and the not pos­sibility of it is caused either

1. Naturally, through defect of time; as in men ready to dye, when it is impos­sible for them, what ever good purposes, or intentions they have, to exhibit such a change in themselves, as repentance con­sists in, that is, when they cannot any longer (nor truly be said to) walk after the spirit, and live as new creatures in doing the commandements of Christ; which necessarily requires time, and that some considerable part of a maus life, for the doing of them.

Or else it is caused judicially, that is, by way of divine punishment, and obdu­ration; as in those of whom St. John speaks, who being slight or malicious re­garders [Page 36]of Christs miracles done among them, could not (as he says) believe, and so consequently nor repent, John 12.37, &c. and that be­cause God had blinded their eyes, and heardned their heart: which obduration we are yet to conceive does not effect an absolute impossibility of repenting, but only a very great difficulty of it, and such as hardly any of them that are so hard­ned doe actually overcome; as may be collected from Rom. 10. v. 1. & 21. & ch. 11 v. 14. It is alwaies hard for men to obey God (that is, before they be thorowly inured, and habituated to such obedience) but this hardness must sure be needs much augmented, when there is added thereunto a custom of disobeying, and resisting Gods will; this being as another nature, and therefore the relinquishing of such a cu­stom, and entertaining the contrary, that is, for such persons thus truly to repent, is such a degree of hardness, as may well be expressed by the tearm, Jer. 13.23 impossible, as the Prophet Jerem. in effect does express it.

As for that repentance whereby is sig­nified only, a true mourning or sorrow of mind for sins past, and answerable desire of the pardon of them: it is not to be denyed, but that is alwaies (while life lasts) [Page 37] possible; but yet it is to be denied that it is or will be alwaies profitable: the Jsraelites after they had provoked God in the wil­derness thus repented, that is, they mourned greatly upon the report made by Moses to them of Gods intention for cutting them short of that land of Canaan formerly pro­mised to them; Num. 14.39. yet could they not for all this be admitted into the said land, or rest so promised them; and this example of theirs is purposely alleged by the Authour of the Epistle to the Hebr. to this end, Heb. 3. & 4. ch. name­ly, to instruct us, that if we be like them in our sins, hardning our selves against the calls of God, and refusing in this our day to obey his voice, sounding in the Gospel, we shall be also like them in our punish­ment, that is, deprived of the true rest, the kingdom of heaven, promised us by Christ; notwithstanding all our mour­ning and begging of God at last for it: so Esau (as the same Authour tels us) did thus repent, that is, he grieved and affli­cted himself with sorrow, for that neglect, whereby he saw he had brought himself in danger of losing his Fathers blessing; Heb. [...]2.17. and yet he found no place for repentance, that is, for his Father Isaaks repentance, so as to move him to change his mind [Page 38]towards him, by recalling the blessing con­ferred on Jacob, though he sought it care­fully with tears: and this example like­wise is alleged to the same purpose, name­ly, to inform us, that if we remain in our sins, and prefer these present pleasures belonging to the flesh before that future spirituall felicity, to which we are called, (as they all doe, that do not so highly value it, as for its sake truly and effectu­ally to break off their sins) we shall be rejected of God; neither shall we be able by any crys and tears to move him to bestow on us that heavenly inheritance or blessing otherwise intended us; having by such our carriage rendred our selves at once unworthy and uncapable of it.

If any be yet unsatisfied with these proofs, and willing still to promise them­selves or others, upon their unfeigned mourning for their sins, and praying for the pardon of them (when as yet they have not effectually left the said sins, nor ex­hibited the contrary obedience required of them) a happy issue; that is, so as to be accepted with God, and have eternall life conferred on them: I shall desire them to consult, and seriously consider these places, John 9.31. Es. 1.15. Jer. 11.11, [Page 39]14.14.11, 12. Mic. 3.4. Zech. 7.13. Prov. 1.24, to the end. Deut. 28.63. by which I conceive, if they will not wil­fully shut their eyes, they may be at once convinced to acknowledge this for a grosse, as well as dangerous errour; and withall discern, that is is not alwayes, and for all, a time of grace, or mercy, during this life; but that there is also a time of severity, and punishment here, namely, when God will be so far from taking pity on some (that is, on all those, who refused to hear his calls, and would none of his counsel, not choosing the fear of the Lord, but the wayes of their own heart, and of the world to walk in) as even to take pleasure in their distresse, and an­swere them with scorn, and derision when they shall most sadly, and seriously call upon him.

But this perhaps will be interpreted a way to drive men to despair, thus to deny to the mourning penitent who hath not now time to change his course of life, all hopes of pardon and acceptance with God; and that because he hath not hitherto made such change, though now he truly intends to do it, if time would serve him: why may wee not think that [Page 40]such intention will be accepted with God for the act it self?

In answer whereunto I say, I. by grant­ing that there is a despair, which may very easily be the result of this doctrine, and that is, when men knowing them­selves not to be such persons, as they are hereby taught it is necessary for them to be to come to the kingdome of heaven, namely new creatures, and such as walk in the commandements of God; they shall hereupon conceive, that there is no hopes for them, remaining thus unqualified, of coming to that place: but such despair makes nothing at all for the discredit, but rather for the honour of the said doctrine; it being that which the gospel every where in a manner tends to pro­duce, by telling us, that without holinesse no man shall see God and many other sayings to the like effect: this kind of des­pair is most deservedly incurred; neither do such persons offend God because they fall into it; but rather they fall into it, because they have offended him; it being properly not a sin, but a punishment of sin.

2 Though for such persons, whose former wayes have not been known to [Page 41]us, wee are I conceive, upon their serious mourning for their sins at the last, in cha­rity to hope, and believe well of them; yet for such whose evill lives were have been sufficiently acquainted with, as hav­ing been mis-spent in the works of the flesh, that are ordinarily manifest, Gal. 5.19. upon such their mourning to goe about to comfort them with smooth words, holding forth Gods mercy and forgivenesse to them; as this would be a certain occasion of har­dening others in their sins to their own destruction; so it would be but a pro­phesying of deceit, Es. 30.10. to these persons them­selves; whereby perhaps they might be better pleased, but their condition could be no way bettered.

I grant indeed that wee are in this case, by all fit and lawfull meanes to quicken and encourage such mourning or contrition in these persons; and that because I. God may beyond hopes length­en and add to their dayes, and so it may work in them in time true repentance; and 2 because, if it should not fall out so yet it may probably conduce to the abatement of their future misery, and that they shall be hereafter beaten with fewer stripes.

I shall grant also, that though God hath tied us in this case to rules to judge, as well as to walk by; yet he hath not so absolutely bound up himself, but that it is still lawfull for him, and that he may (if he will use his Soveraign power in dispensing with his own lawes) give eter­nall life to such persons, upon such their mourning, notwithstanding their want of that otherwise necessary condition of new obedience or being new creatures: but as it would be certainly high presump­tion for any to expect or desire of God, the actuall exercise of this his Soveraign power, by affording them the benefit of such a dispensation; so it would be no lesse an exceeding our commission (and so a like presumption too) to tell others, that he will use this power towards them, or for their good: and this they in effect do, that so far comply to please others, whom they know, or may know to have lived as unregenerate persons, that is, in some course of disobedience contrary to Christs commands, as to promise or tell them, upon their mourning for their sins, at the last, and praying for the pardon of them, that God will certainly accept them to salvation, and bestow eternall life upon them.

[Page 43]3 I say, that the intention, namely of doing good, may bee and is some-times accepted with God, for the act it self; but then this intention must be

1 Reall; that is so reall, as it would certainly, if there were possibility of actu­ating it, prove effectuall, which in this case there is but small reason to suppose: for the heart of man (as the prophet tells us) is very deceitfull: Jer. 17.9. men of crazy bodies and that are sensible of their need of phy­sick may seriously enough resolve within themselves, to take such a potion for their health, as the Physitian shall prescribe them; and yet they may have such queazy stomacks, that beginning to tast it, and finding it very bitter and nauseous, they will by no meanes be perswaded to drink it up: in like manner, many in this kind may (as Peter once did) at a distance, promise and intend the doing of great matters; as that they will constantly for the future walk in the commandements of Christ, or the like: but coming to have some near sight, or feeling of the diffi­culty or danger of the said things, which before they saw onely as a far off, and in contemplation; they will ('tis likely) prove no stouter champions than he did, [Page 45]that is, choose rather to live at their former case, than voluntarily persist in such new, and harsh obedience: and hereupon, wee find God then using these words to Abraham; Gen. 22.12.Now I know that thou fearest mee; when Abra­ham had actuated his intention of offering his son, so far as was possi­ble and lawfull for him, by which words, though God doth not imply any ignorance in himself before, of what could bee truly known; yet sure he more than intimates, that neither Abraham himself, nor others could certainly know of him, that he had such a fear of God as to bee effectually willing to offer his son in obedience to Gods command, till he was thus put home to the doing of it: and so consequently wee may collect, that wee can neither for our selves, nor others, from any promises, or expressed intentions in sicknesse, of walking as new creatures for the fu­ture, if God should restore us, or them, conclude, that either would certainly, and truly do so: this being that which can onely bee known to us by the doing of it.

And indeed besides all this, this one consideratton may serve to convince us, what little credit is to be given to, or certainty can be grounded on such pro­mises and intentions in this kind; namely, the rare performance we find of them: of ten that are usually restored from such sickness after these professions, it is to be feared, we shall hardly meet with one that returns to give God thanks in this way, that is, according to his vow, to de­dicate himself as one alive from the dead, to spend the remainder of his dayes by a chearfull and unreserved obedience in Gods service.

2. That such intention of doing good may be accepted with God for the act; it is requisite, that the said intention be so circumstantionated in the person, as there may be nothing justly imputed to him or his neglect, why the act is not really per­formed; the person being to be supposed for this end, to have done all in this case, that was morally possible for him: like as we find in the forementioned business of Abrahams offering his son; whose intention carrying him on to the doing of what was in his power for the accom­plishing of this work, made that it was [Page 45] [...] [Page 46] [...] [Page 46]accepted for, Heb. 11.17. and called an offering of him, though it was not ever at all actu­ally performed.

Now in this present case the matter is far otherwise: the person who (as wee suppose) is now in extremis, or a dying, hath indeed nothing possible for him to perform towards the amending, and re­forming of his life, beyond vows and pro­mises; but this is a thing that ought to have been done of him before; God re­quiring it, and having afforded him suffici­ent time and means for the doing of it: it is a thing also, that all the time he made profession of Christ, or of his word, he is to be supposed virtually to have profes­sed and made show of doing: it is there­fore, not only his own fault, that it is not done, that is, that such intention hath not hitherto been acted; but it is also such a fault, as is made up of a continued belying of his profession; and therefore sure, there can be but small cause, for any to flatter themselves, or others in this case, that such intention shall ever bee accepted with God for the act: Gal. 6.7. no, God will not be mocked, that which a man soweth that shall he reap; that is, according to our works in our life time, not our intentions, at or [Page 47]near our death, our future doom is to be expected.

If any now shall question hereupon, what proportion of our time or lives is absolutely necessary to be spent in the service, and obedience of Christ for this end, to render us actually capable, and heirs of Salvation? I shall endeavour thus far to satisfy him.

1. By telling him negatively, that such proportion (I conceive) cannot be cer­tainly determined; so as definitely to set down, that a man must necessarily such a certain number of months, or years, exhibit such obedience, or else he cannot be saved: as in the parable of the hired Servants, Math. 20. some were hired, and went into the vineyard, at the ninth, and some at the eleventh hour; and yet re­ceived equall wages with them, who be­gun to work in the morning, and had born the burden and heat of the day: so I grant (though not through the force of that parable, Chrysost. Muscul. whereof I find severall interpre­tations given, and which good expositours apply to quite another sense, as more sui­table to our Saviours scope, than that which is vulgarly apprehended to be the intent of it) that some in the evening of their [Page 49]dayes, or in their declining age, may be­come converts, and begin then to render that reall obedience to Christs laws, which he requires, and they formerly neglected; and yet be as surely rewarded with the glorious reward of eternall life, as those who set out as it were, and have been en­gaged from their child-hood in this em­ployment may expect to be: though I think not only that such examples are rare; but also where they are, they must, and will (being such reall converts as I sup­pose them) out of the sense of their former neglect, be more than ordinarily zealous, and industrious in this kind.

2. I say pisitively to the former que­stion; that so much of our time is neces­sarily to be employed in the foresaid o­bedience, as we may be truly said at the end of our course, to have been new crea­tures, and to have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts; and to have done the commandements of Christ, or to have walk­ed according to the Spirit, and in so walk­ing to have finished our race: all which being things that imply not only a change of our naturall condition; but also such a change as consists, and manifests it self (not in words, or intentions, or single acts, [Page 49]but) in a solid and habituall course of piety and the expressions of it: as the presence of them is simply requisite to this end, that our judgment, namely unto life, Math. 16.27. Rom. 2.7. 2 Cor. 5.10. Revel. 20.13, & 22.12. may be said to be according to our works, (as the Scripture frequently says it shall be:) So it is plain that there cannot but be some considerable part of our time and lives necessarily required (though we can­not definitely set down how much) for attaining and exhibiting the same things in our selves. It is very hard, or rather ab­surd, and unreasonable to imagine, that God in awarding eternall life to men should only have respect in a manner to some transient vanishing disposition of a dying person, as his serious mourning for sin at that time; when as hitherto he is to be supposed to have voluntarily persisted in the wayes of it; and yet withall, that God should be said in making that a­ward, to render to such a person according to his works: what ground can there be to think, either that such mourning (which men may well in this case be supposed to be in a great part in a manner forced to, by the immediate approach and fear of death) should be so highly considerable with God, above all the voluntary and [Page 50]long continued courses in sin of the same person; or that being so, and God there­fore, that is, for that sorrow, or for some confident reliance on Christs merits at that time, accepting the said person to salva­tion; God should be said herein to reward him according to his works? when as in­deed in this case, no other work of his, but one or both these at most, is to bee thought of any moment or consideration with God. As this therefore is unreasona­ble to conceive; so it is all one to suppose, that the forementioned change into a new creature can be made, or those other things signified; by crucifying the flesh, and doing the words of Christ, and walking after the spirit, can be transacted by a dying person, or in so little a time, as ordinarily each sickness, as is the fore­runner and fore-warner of death is cir­cumscribed with. No; these things are of greater import, than thus at once, and on a suddain to be dispatched: it must be more than the work of a day or a week, or a month ordinarily (and that when we are in our best disposition to set about it, which sure in sickness we are not) to put off those old habits of sin, which custom hath made pleasing, and after a sort na­turall [Page 51]to us: and instead thereof, to con­tract the contrary habits of righteousness and delighting to doe the will of God: to wash away those staines of the soul which through the force of carnall lusts there inhabiting have been deeply in­printed in it; and in their place to superin­duce that divine beauty which is made up of the proportionable mixture of spi­rituall graces, and is requisite to make us truly amiable to God: and sure as hee who considers the nature of our life how unfaithfull and uncertain it is (being such as may be terminated every moment, and is often, suddainly, and when we least think of it) can think no time too soon to set about and begin this work; so hee who considers the greatness, and mul­tiplicity of the work in it self, or 'its im­portance in the infinite consequence of it (the eternall salvation, or perdition of our souls, depending on the performance or neglect thereof,) will think no wari­nesse or diligence, and consequently no time too much which it is possible for him to exhibit towards the managing and accomplishing of it.

Now if any shall, notwithstanding all that hath hitherto been said on this subject, [Page 52](as some I conceive will) bee ready to ob­ject that this pressing of works & obedience as necessary to salvation tends (1) to con­found the Gospel and the Law (2) to de­tract from and diminish the privilege of faith, and (3) to require of men such a perfection as is not possible or very hardly attainable by any man in this life. I shall in answer reply these things thereunto.

1. That there is, and so ought, care­fully to be maintained a great difference betwixt the Law and the Gospel: but the difference is not in this; that the Law requires works and obedience as necessary in this case, and the Gospel requires none, (for this to any one that reads the Gos­pel, and especially our Saviours Sermon, on the mount will appear) to be false; but that the Law thus opposed to the Gospel requires perfect works and obedi­ence, undiminished with any antecedent sins, and unstained with any present de­fects, in the doers of the said works; that is such works as being performed would give a man cause of glorying, and make that the reward should be reckoned to him not of grace, Rom. 4.4.but of debt: but the Gospel requires onely, or rather allows as sufficient in this case such works as in [Page 53]those respects are imperfect that is, such as for the most part have many and great sins going before, and proportionable failings accompanying the doing of them; and so can give a man no title but onely through Gods mercy in Christ to the glo­rious reward of eternall life, held forth and sealed by him in his blood to the doers of such works, that is, to all truly penitent persons. And from this difference betwixt the works required in the law and the Gospel, there is another ariseth and that is this; that those works of the law, if performed, would constitute the per­formers of them equally righteous (they being all in this case to be supposed to have lived without sin, and to have con­stantly and perfectly obeyed all the com­mandements of God) but these of the Gospel admit an inequality in this respect, and that not onely in regard of time, some beginning sooner, and some later to practise them; but also of degrees, some by reason of some naturall infirmities, or the want of outward helps, not at­taining that exactness, or expressing that fruitfulnesse, and abounding in the doing of them which others doe: and yet so long as they have put off all the habits of sin, [Page 54]and perform proportionally to their strength and assistance the works of righ­teousness required of them in the Gospel (which notwithstanding their former hinderances they may,) they shall be as surely hereafter rewarded as those who have outdone them herein by performing the said things in a higher measure.

2 I say touching faith, as the Apostle touching the law, by a little altering and inverting his words; we do not abrogate but establish faith, by requiring works and obedience to Christs lawes in that manner as wee have done. There is indeed a way of urging works with which faith is inconsistant; and that is, to require them to bee absolute and every way com­mensurate to the law of God, without ad­mitting or having need of repentance; in which sense the Apostle disputes against them, or rather the possibility of being justified by them, in the five first chapters of the Epistle to the Romans: and to such works faith is opposed, yet not as one con­trary to another; but as that which is imperfect, to that which is perfect Faith, therefore (I say) being taken in that sense, wherein it hath those privileges of Justifi­cation, and so of salvatiou astribed to it, [Page 55]does truely include works & obedience (that is such as we have hitherto pressed as neces­ssary) in it: for the clearer manifesting of which, I desire it may be observed that this word faith (like as many other words and phrases in scripture) is of various accepti­on, being sometimes used in a stricter, some­times in a larger sence.

1. Strictly and properly taken it signifies nothing else but, a firme assent given to the doctrine, of Christ, and that which flowes from such assent, namely, an answerable confidence and reliance on God and Christ: and it is so taken, when other things per­tinent to the obtaining of salvation are added to it; which things so added, the more they are, the more is the word faith restrained in 'tis signification.

2. Largely and more improperly taken, it may either have some one or other thing added to it, or else be placed singly by it self, and yet have salvation, or that which is equivalent in sence ascribed to it: which notion of it, is simply the largest; as for example when the Apostle sayes, there remains faith, hope, and charity, he takes faith strictly so as not to com­priz in it the other two vertues; but when he sayes, 1. Cor. 13. that in Christ Jesus nothing [Page 56]avails but faith working by love, Gal. 5.6. he takes it a little more largely, so as to contain hope in it; and that not without cause, for he that cordially believes Christ pro­mising heavenly and eternall glory to them that obey him, cannot but most earnestly desire the same glory, and there­upon hope for it, and trust in Christ; but when hee sayes, and proves out of the prophet, Heb. 2.5. Rom 1.17. Act. 16.31. that the just shall live by faith, and assures the Jaylour of salvation, by his believing onely on the Lord Jesus Christ; hee takes faith in 'its largest extent, com­prizing both the former vertues in it, and what ever exercises of it or them the Gospel which is the doctrine of faith com­mends to or requires of us. So that that faith (wee say) which through Gods mercy, hath the privilege of justifying and saving us annexed to it, comprizes besides that which is properly and strictly signified by it, that obedience or piety of life, which excludes all customes and habits of sin, and all grievous and voluntary acts of it, though otherwise (as wee have before said) this piety be not in all equall: the truth of which, namely of this large com­prehension of the notion of faith, when it is thus dignified, may appear from these following considerations.

[Page 57]1. That disobedience or impiety is that which is opposed to this faith, as the contrary to it, in those words of St. John, he that believeth in the son hath everlasting life; [...], that is he that (as Beza and others render it) obeyeth not the son shall not see life, &c. John. 3.36.

2. Because that which is one where ascribed to faith thus singly named, as obtaining eternall life through the means of it, is elsewere in plain termes ascribed to obedience, or such piety of life, as wee have mentioned: thus Christ is said to be the author of eternall salvation to them that obey him. Heb. 5.9 and, Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the Commandements of God (that is all in all) 1. Cor. 7.19. and again, neither Circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new Creature. Gal. 6.15.

3 Because it is fully evident from abun­dant, and that most cleer Testimonies of scripture, that for obtaining remission of sins, and so eternall life, repentance, that is a change of the mind and life also to the better (as before hath been shown) is simply necessary; and St. James ex­presly [Page 58]testifies that a man is not justified by faith onely but by workes also joyned with it; James. 2.14. and demonstrates this thing by the example of Abraham whom St. Rom. 4.3. Paul proves to have been simply justified by faith by that very same place of Gen. 15.6. which St. James also sites in this business: and lastly because the Apostle in the Epistle to the Romans, and also in that to the Galathians largely teaches; that for escaping the severity and curse of the law, and to become partakers of Gods heavenly kingdome, it is altogether ne­cessary that wee walk not after the flesh, Gal. 5.but after the spirit which phraise, what kind of exactnesse and piety it emplyes, may be seen in the said places.

By all which (I say) it is plain; that faith cannot otherwise priviledge us from the wrath to come, or entitle us to hea­venly happiness than as it hath obedi­ence, or true piety joyned with it; and consequently that whensoever the scrip­ture ascribes these or the like priviledges unto this tearm of faith or believing singly and by it self; it means not faith barely in 'tis strict, and proper sence; but includes also and comprizes under this notion the same obedience or piety so necessarily [Page 59]required of us: so that this faith may be said to be (as indeed it is) a certain agre­gate thing made up of faith strictly and properly taken, and of its effects, that is, such piety and obedience.

Neither is it without great and im­portant reasons, that the Scripture thus speaks in this matter; that is, that not only, it rather useth (especially when it speaketh of our justification) the word faith, then other words more plainly signifying piety of life; but also that it understands by, and usually comprizes in this word faith, all that holiness of life, and obedience to Gods commands which is now requisite under the Gospell for attaining salvation; for

1. Hereby is intimated, that the said holiness, or obedience proceeds from faith, properly and strictly taken as the root or cause of it; and consequently, that it is not of our selves, or from the sense of our own duty (as we were bound, and as the Law truly required, that we are such holy and obedient persons; but that, that which is to be reckoned the object, and cause of such faith (namely the divine promises of the Gospell, promulgated by Christ, and confirmed in his bloud) is that which [Page 60]hath originally wrought and produced the said holiness in us: and so, that it is to be imputed to the free grace, and boun­ty of God, thus graciously making and confirming the said promises to us, and thereby exciting us hereunto, that we be­come such holy persons.

2. Hereby is also signified, that which hath been before observed, namely the impersection of our obedience; that it is such, as ordinarily presupposes many and great transgressions, and courses of unrighteousness going before, and also implies, some proportionable failings still accompanying it: so that it is not from any worth of its own, but from Gods infinite goodness, that it comes not only to be accepted, but rewarded, (as God hath promised and declared he will) with eternall happiness and glory.

3. By this word faith, thus used, is inti­mated, that this very thing addes a great price, or value (as I may so say) to our works and obedience, though otherwise imperfect; and makes that we please God, namely in this, that we trust in him, though we have never seen him; that we firmly believe his promises, especially those, which by the course of nature seem [Page 61]impossible, neither suffer our selves by any oppositions, or any difficultie of per­formances, to be drawn from this hope; so, by this means giving God constantly the praise of his infinite power, goodness, and truth.

For these reasons, we are to conceive it is, that the word faith is so often singly used in Scripture, when it is intended, (and indeed cannot be otherwise) that that obedience, which the Gospell elsewhere plainly requires of us, should be concei­ved to be signified by, and included in it.

3. Touching the last particular of the foresaid supposed objection, wherein the exception is against that obedience, or habituall observance, of the most righte­ous Laws of Christ, (which we have la­boured to shew and enforce as indispen­sably necessary) for the seeming impossibi­lity or extraordinary hardness of it: though what hath been already said on this subject, may in great part serve to mani­fest the groundlesness of this exception; yet for the fuller clearing of this impor­tant truth, I shall adde somewhat also directly by way of answer to it.

1. First then I say by this obedience or observing Christs laws, I mean truly a [Page 62] greater light of persecution in the doing of them, than I see most Christians attain unto, or (as I have cause to think) ever in­tend or aim at; and that is an habituall, and customary keeping of the said Laws; which cannot be done, without an answe­ruble care, of knowing, and remembring them: and which being done, necessari­ly excludes the habit and dominion of any sin, in the said person. I am not willing to think them Christians indeed who have an intention and desire, to obey these laws, and precepts of Christ, but doe not really obey them; neither can I think them, regenerate persons, and so, in a salvable condition as yet, that do not that good which they would, but the evill which they would not, as being in Captivity to the Law of Sin. Rom. 7. ch. The Apostle I know, uses these and other the like words, in his own person, and as of himself; but they that will heedfully observe, either the occasion of the Apostles entring into that discourse, together with the scope of it, or the te­stimonies, which are elsewhere extant of him, Rom. 9.2. 2 Cor. 11. 1 Thes. 2.10. concerning his zeal, and exemplary integrity, and unweariedness in the service of Christ; or lastly those quite contrary characters, whereby especially in that [Page 63] Epistle to the Romans he describes a truly regenerate person; will I think be enfor­ced to grant that, which good expositors, Origines Chrysosto: Theodor. Oecumeni­us, Am­brosius, E­rasmus, Bucerus, Musculus. both antient and modern, declare to be their opinion herein, namely, that the A­postle in that Chapter doth, as (is not un­usuall with him elsewhere (viz. Rom. 3.7. 1 Cor. 131.2. Gal. 20.18.) personate another in himself, that is speaks of a person, that is supposed to be yet under the Law, and to whom the grace of Christ shining forth in the pro­mises of the Gospell is not known, nor hath had any influence upon him; shewing by instancing in himself the miserable condi­tion of such a person; and consequently must grant, that those notes or affections, which he there ascribes to the said per­son cannot belong to the Apostle, as he was then being a regenerate person, nor to any other, that truly are so. And this thing, (and so that perfection we here in­tend as necessary to salvation) will bet­ter appear, by observing the direct con­trary notes to those set down in that Chap­ter (as belonging to the person there de­scribed) whereby a person truly regene­rate is by the same Apostle elsewhere set forth to us: Such are these, that this [Page 64]person is one, that hath crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Gal. 5.24. whereas the former is one, in whom sin works all manner of concupiscence. Rom. 7.8. This person is one in whom the body of sin (that is sin it self) is destroyed, so that he is dead to sin, and sin doth no longer live or reign in him. Rom. but the former is one, in whom sin so lives, that it kils him & subjects him to death. Rom. Lastly this person is one, that is no lon­ger in the flesh. Rom. 7.5. that is freed from sin. Rom. 6.18.22. that walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Rom. 8.1.4. that by the Spirit mortifies the deeds of the flesh, Rom. 8.13. and that is free from the Law of sin and also of death. Rom. 8.2. but the former is one that is carnall, sold under sin. Rom. 7.14. that does not that good that he would, but the evill that he would not. v. 19. that is in captivity to the Law of sin. v. 23. & that is deteined by the body of death (that is by death it self) from which as one in misery he desires to be freed. v. 24.

All which being either formall or ver­tuall contradiction cannot agree to the same person at the same time; and con­sequently imply, that the temper of that person described in that chapter; and made [Page 65]up of those qualities and conditions there assigned, is not possibly reconcilable to that other constitution of a regenerate person, marked by those properties else­where extant, which wee have ex­pressed: no, those doe truly manifest the state of this person to bee such as wee conceive to be necessary to bring any to the kingdome of heaven; and that is, a state of freedome, from all habits, and courses of sin, 1. Joh. 4.3.9. c. 5.18.and an answerable habituall walking in the commandement of God, and this St. John further confirms, when he ascribes this great privilege, and per­fection to such a person, saying, that hee is such a one, that sins not, nor can sin.

2. Though I think this perfection, as I have expressed it to bee both a possible, and necessary condition in this case; yet I am not so far a Chatherist as to think that he cannot be a Christian that is not every way perfect, or that commits the least offence against the precepts of Christ; neither do I conceive, either the former notes of a regenerate person, or that which hath been last alleged out of St. John, to imply, that the said person is so righ­teous as never in the least thing to sin, or offend, but onely, that he hath not, [Page 66](as I have before expressed) the habit of any sin, and that he does not live in a course of sin, but ordinarily, and for the greatest part, abstains from and avoids the committing of it: and this, I conceive, may sufficiently appear by these following considerations.

1. That mens actions are esteemed, and so men themselves denominated, from the greater part of them: thus wee call him a sober person, and temperate in the use of meat and drink, who ordinarily, or for the most part, avoids all excesse in in this kind; though sometimes it may happen, that contrary to his constant wont and purpose, he transgresse a just measure therein; and thus also wee call him a liberall man, who usually proporti­onably to his ability, and as prudence shall direct, gives of his own though sometimes it may fall out, that in some thing he may not be liberall, but may omit there to give where it is fit, and there is truly need of it: and so answe­ably, he is to be esteemed, and so is called in scripture, a righteous person, who doth righteousness (as St. John saith) that is who ordinarily, practiseth and is really addicted, to works of righteousness, pre­scribed [Page 67]in the word; though sometimes through common frailtie, or inadverten­cy, hee may do something that is not truly righteous, or agreeable to the said rule.

2. Because the word sin in the new testament is ordinarily wont, and used to signifie not any one single act of sinning, but either some grievous offence, namely such as may argue the person guilty there­of, to be involved in others, not light crimes, and which cannot consist with the fear of God in the same person; or more and iterated acts of sinning as may ap­pear from these places. Luke. 15.18. Ioh. 9.2.3. Rom. 6.15.2. Cor. Heb. 3.17.

3. Because those places of scripture, which are used to set forth the state of unregenerate and regenerate persons, are such as denote an habit or custome: thus the former are said to walk and live af­ter the flesh. Rom. 8.1.13, and to live in sin. Rom. 6.2. and to commit sin. 1. Jo. 3.8. and the latter to walk and live after the Spirit. Rom. 8.1, and to live godlily. 2. Tim. 3.12. and to live according to God. 1. Pet. 4. v. 6. as the word live, notes our manner or course of living; so the word walk, [Page 68]answerably notes the accustomed actions of our life, for as a way is often trod in, so that which wee often and usually do is called our way: and accordingly the Apostle exhorts us, that wee should not suffer sin to reign in us, nor yield our members to it as weapons of unrighteous­ness. Rom. 6.12.13. by which forms of speech he requires that wee should bee exempted from the reign and dominion of sin, but not simply from every act of it. It is true, according to the sense of Moses his law, the single act of any one sin subjects a man to the curse, but according to the law of liberty, that is, the Gospel of Christ, not every act, but every habit of sin, submits us to the said curse, or eternall death: for if every such act should now doe this, the state wee are now in under the Gospel, were to be reckoned a great servitude, not a liberty: but if the habit of sin should not doe it, the same state might bee justly reputed a state not of liberty, but of licentiousness.

When the scripture faith, the just shall live (not by the merit of works, but) by faith Rom. 1.17 it does summarily, and most briefely describe the whole manner of obtaining salvation, for in it that sayes [Page 69]none other but the just shall live, it shews that there is need of Justice or righte­ousnesse to salvation, and that, so much as by reason of it, wee may be deservedly called just or righteous; but in saying that he shall live, not by the force or merit of his righteousness, but by faith, it thereby declares, that so great, and absolute righ­teousness is not simply required, as must be altogether voyd of any blemish, or defect; but if there be any thing wanting to its perfection, it is (through the infi­nite goodness and mercy of God) sup­plyed, and reckoned as made up by faith.

3. I say, it may appear from hence, that that perfection which wee hitherto have pressed and conceive necessary to salvation, is neither impossible, nor indeed so hard, but that men, if they bee truely willing to set about it, may by the assi­stance which herein they may expect from God, ordinarily and assuredly attain unto it: It is no more in effect but to take upon us Christs yoke which hee himself tells us is easy, or, Math. 11.30. 1. Joh. 5.3. to keep the commande­ments of God, which St. John tels us are not, (that is the keeping of them being so understood as wee have before expres­sed) [Page 70] grievous, it is true, both these are hard, and harsh enough, in themselves, that is, taken as separated from that which is held forth in the Gospel, as the glorious reward and recompence of them: but if we look upon them, as sweetned with this allective, and so taste it, and them together, we shall have no cause to complain of any such harshness as men naturally imagine in them, yea this will make us, if we truly taste it by firmly believing of it, not onely take delight in the doing, and limiting of our selves, to the said commandements; but also digest all difficulties, by vigorously going tho­rough any dangers, that shall oppose our doing of them. The men of this world, (as the Psalmist cals them) having hopes given them, of some vanishing, and with all uncertain profit, and apprehending, no other way of coming thereunto, are tem­perate in all things, 1 Cor. 9.25. even so as to abridge themselves, in many otherwise beloved delights, and expose themselves, to many tedious hardships, and hazards: and may we not then well think, that that certain, eternall and unmeasurable good, namely, the glory hereafter to be revealed, if it were truely eyed, and hoped for by us, [Page 71]would have the like, or rather far greater in­fluence upon us, that is, to derive strength and courage into us, so as to make us both insist in the wayes of Gods commande­ments, and to overcome all hinderances that wee shall meet with in that way.

I doubt not, but if (as in the former case) there were no grounds left in mens minds, (as the scripture rightly under­stood affordes none) whereon to exspect, any possibility of comming, to the said glory, but by the aforesaid means, that is, the habituall observing of the Laws of God, delivered to us by Christ; many that now content themselves with very remisse and faint endeavours in this kind (as thinking such, through the force of some corrupt opinions they have en­tertained sufficient to this purpose) would so vigorously bestir themselves about this work, as actually to manifest a greater measure of perfection in performing the said commands, than yet they have had a serious thought of ever aiming at.

This is that which by this discourse I have laboured to awaken men unto, as conceiving I could not possibly do, a greater act of charity for others than to rouze them out of that sleep (how sweet soever) which is certain to end in death, [Page 72]and such I cannot but think that perswa­sion to be, whereby men believe some faint desires to do well, or late contrition for not doing so, or performing some one, or other good duty now and then, or in­deed any thing else but such habituall ob­servance of the laws of Christ, and change into a new creature, as we have spoke of, to be available for their eternall welfare. Some perhaps, will account this, and so distaste it, as too sharp or sowr a doctrine; but yet if it be sound and wholesom (as notwithstanding such sharpness it may be, and being rightly examined, I doubt not but it will appear so) there will be no cause, I hope, for them, to reject it. Most things that are physicall either for restoring, or confirming health, are com­monly unpleasing; having nothing to com­mend, or induce to the taking of them, but onely the hope of the following good: and I had rather be like such a Physitian that fits his prescription to the disease, and necessity of his patient, than him that shall temper it to the patients humour, or palate: when (as in this case) both cannot be provided for; but the disease must either remain uncur'd, or else the Palate be displeased.

If any will, by the light of the word, (the only oracle of truth in this kind) un­dertake to shew me, or others, a shorter and easier way to the kingdom of hea­ven, than that which I have described; I am not such a stranger to my own incli­nation, as to think I should be backward (such a way being so manifested) to em­brace and think well of it. I have cause rather to fear, that the apprehension of such shortness and ease in the way pretended to be demonstrated in this manner (though it should not be really, but only seeming­ly so done) might tempt me to incline to much too, and in my judgment approve of it.

In the mean time, my judgment stan­ding at present as it does, that is, convin­ced into a belief of that which I have written on this subject, and therby laboured to perswade others unto: I hope those that are of a contrary perswasion in this matter, will be so charitable, as to impute what I have so writ not to any affecta­tion of novelty, or of seeming stricter than others; but rather to a sense of that ob­ligation and duty, which in this case must be supposed to lye upon me, namely, to doe all that is in my power to convince [Page 74]others, into a belief of that, which I con­ceive so important a truth: it being not possible, in my apprehension of things, for any to be saved, but who acts according to it, which without such a belief of it, it is not probable many will doe.

It is, and alwaies shall be my prayer, that God would open the eyes of those who make profession of the name of Christ, to see such errors in Religion as are most probable to make the same pro­fession altogether ineffectuall for their fu­ture comfort; that Christians may be Orthodox in that, (whatever mistakes they otherwise live in) whereon the sal­vation of their most precious souls most neerly depends; and if this work of mine prove serviceable (as I hope in some de­gree it may) to this end, I have that which I aim at, and I desire, that God (to whom it of right belongs) may have all the glory hereof.

To him bee praise both now and for ever. Amen.


The Contents of the Appendix.

  • VVHat is meant here by the Laws of Christ. Page. 3
  • All these Laws com­prized under three heads of Godliness. Page. 4
  • All these Laws com­prized under three heads of Righteousness. Page. 4
  • All these Laws com­prized under three heads of Sobriety. Page. 4
  • Touching which are briefly shown
    • 1. The express duties of each.
    • 2. The common violati­ons of the said duties a­mong Christians.
  • Wherein the duties of godliness consist, and how much the said duties are disused. Page. 5
  • Wherein the duties of righteousness consist. Page. 6
  • And how much they are violated, especially the duty of loving enemies.
  • Wherein the duties of sobriety consist. Page. 8
  • And how much the said duties are neglected. Page. 9
  • That these Laws of Christ, are not by Christi­ans looked upon, as binding Laws Page. 11
  • That the aim of the discourse, and of this Ap­pendix, is to have them accounted binding, [Page]and to show that an habituall observing o [...] them is indispensably necessary to salva­tion. Page. 1 [...]
  • Whence the opinion of those, who hold th [...] observation of these Laws unnecessary, o [...] not fit to be pressed, proceeds. Page. 1 [...]
  • The places of Scripture requiring the actua [...] observing of the said Laws so plain, as no [...] possible to be reconciled to the contrary sense. Page. 1 [...]
  • Other places seemingly making to the con­trary, fewer and darker than the former and therefore to be expounded conformably to them. Page. 1 [...]
  • That the observing of Christs Laws, and th [...] pressing hereof, makes truly for his ho­nour. Page. 19
  • That no danger hereby of setting up self-righ­teousness, this tearm being rightly under­stood? Page. 22
  • How our observing of Christs Laws may be called self-righteousness. Page. 24
  • Touching that passage in the late Common Prayer Book. At what time soever, &c. the ill consequence of it, and how disagreeing with the Text. Page. 26
  • Touching the example of the penitent Thief; the ill use that is made thereof, and that not possible now to be paralleld, shown by three reasons. Page. 29
  • What the Scripture understands by that re­pentance to which forgiveness of sins is promised. Page. 34
  • That this repentance is not alwaies truly pos­sible, during this life. Page. 35
  • That that repentance which is here alwaies [Page]possible, will not be alwaies profitable. Page. 36
  • How despair may be the effect of this doctrine, and that such despair is not a sin. Page. 40
  • That mourning for sins, is to be encouraged in dying persons who have hitherto lived wic­kedly, though it cannot be effectuall in this case to salvation. Page. 41
  • That it is in the power of God so to accept such mourning, but presumption in us to say or expect that he will. Page. 42
  • [...] Conditions required that the intention of doing good may be accepted for the act, neither of which to be supposed in a dying person that hath hitherto neglected to re­form his life. Page. 43
  • This question answered, What proportion of our time is absolutely necessary to be spent in the obedience of Christ? Page. 47
  • The true difference betwixt the Law and the Gospell in requiring works or obedience, and betwixt the works required in the one, and in the other. Page. 52
  • That the requiring of works to salvation in that manner as is herein expressed, is no way contrary to the doctrine of faith. Page. 54
  • The word Faith in the Gospell of various ac­ception. Page. 55
  • And that when it hath justification, or salva­tion ascribed to it, it includes in it obedi­ence, or piety of life; this shown by three reasons. Page. 56
  • Why the Scripture rather useth the word Faith when it means thereby piety of life, than other words more plainly signifying the said piety. Page. 59
  • That the habituall observing of Christs Laws [Page]here urged imports a greater height of per­fection, than most Christians attain or aim after. Page. 61
  • By occasion whereof is shown, that that which St. Paul speaks as of himself. Rom. 7. Is not to be meant of himself, as he was then, nor o [...] other regenerate persons. Page. 62
  • That the perfection here urged, and which the Gospel requires as simply necessary to sal­vation, excludes only the custom and do­minion of sin, not the being of it; shown by three reasons. Page. 65
  • That though this perfection or obedience be harsh and difficult in it self, yet it is sweet­ned and made easy by the reward held forth to it. Page. 69
  • The Conclusion by way of Apology for the see­ming harshness of this doctrine, together with the Authors reason for thus publikely asserting it. Page. 71

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