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Imprimatur.

Ex ædibus Lambeth. Octob. 3. 1664.

Tho. Cooke, Rssimi in Christo
Patris ac
Dni, D. Gilb. Cant.
Archiep. Sacel. Dom.

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A
SERMON
Preached to the
HONOURABLE SOCIETY
OF LINCOLNES-INNE,

BY R.
Cudworth, D. D. Master of

Christ's College in Cambridge.

S. Gregory Nyssen. Χριστιανισμός ἐστι τας Θείας φύσεως μὶμησις.

LONDON, Printed by J. Flesher for R. Royston, Bookseller to His most Sacred MAJESTY. M DC LXIV.

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1 Corinth. 15. 57.

But thanks be to God which giveth us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

CHRIST's Resurrection, which the Apostle treateth of in the former part of this Chapter, is one of the main and principal Articles of our Christian Faith: for though Christ by his Death upon the Cross made a Propitiatory Sacrifice for the World, yet it was his Resurrection onely which did manifest his Death to be effectual and available for that end, and did evidence its acceptation with God. For if the Grave had detain'd Christ, and held him Prisoner, this would have been an argument that the Debt, for which he was committed to that dark Dungeon, was not yet pay'd, nor Satisfaction <2> made; for if Christ be not raised, (saith the Apostle)[1] your Faith is vain, you are yet in your sins. But now Death and the Grave having delivered up Christ out of their custody, his Resurrection is an undoubted argument that they had no more to lay to his charge, as he was a Surety and Undertaker for mankinde, but that the Debt which was owing to the Law and Divine Justice was in the Court of Heaven fully acquitted and discharged. For[2] Christ was delivered for our Sins, and rose again for our Justification.

And though Christ's other Miracles ought to have conciliated Belief to his Doctrine from the Jews; yet his Resurrection from the dead (foretold by himself and really accomplished) added to all the rest, was a most undoubted and unquestionable Confirmation of his Prophetical Ministery. For if it were supposed, (as the Jews of old and the Talmudists of latter times maliciously calumniated our Saviour Christ) that a mere Wizzard or Magician should have appeared, and not onely have done many Miracles by Beelzebub and the Powers of Darkness, but also have foretold that after he had been put to death he should rise again, and have given this as a farther sign to confirm his Prophecy, as our Saviour did, Matth. 12. 39. it <3> could never be conceiv'd that Divine Providence should suffer such an Impostour miraculously to rise again, in so remarkable a manner, and so often to appear before the eyes of so many Spectators, and at last visibly to ascend up to Heaven. Because this would have been Tentatio invincibilis to mankind, it being not imaginable what greater assurance Heaven itself could give to confirm and seal a Prophet, and to persuade the World that what he did was by the Finger of God, and not by Magical imposture, then this is. And therefore it is observable, that though a good while after our Saviour's time, when the Jews had now forfeited that peculiar Providence that watched over them, a certain counterfeit Messias, one David El-Roy, was permitted to doe several strange and miraculous things by Magick and Witchcraft, if the Jewish Relations be true; yet when he gave this for a Sign to the Persian King to prove himself the Messias, that after he was beheaded by him he should rise again; he plainly discovered his Imposture, to the great disappointment of the deluded Jews, who (as Maimonides writes)[3] in vain expected his Resurrection a good while after.

Moreover, If Christ had not risen again after death, the world would not have had sufficient ground <4> to trust and believe in him as a Saviour. S. Austin reckon'd it as great a Miracle as any that Christ ever did upon earth, that the World should be brought off to believe in a crucified Saviour. For to worship התלוי as the Jews by way of Disgrace call our Saviour, or τὸν ἀνασκολοπιζόμενον in Lucian's language, one that was hanged, for a God, and to believe in him, could not but seem a monstrous and prodigious thing both to Jews and Gentiles; and certainly it would never have been brought to pass, had there not been unquestionable assurance given of Christ's Resurrection from the dead. For who would be so sottish as to believe in a dead Saviour, and to expect help and assistance from him that had not been able to help himself, and therefore had given no proof that he was able to help others; nay from him that to all humane appearance had now no being at all? Upon which account the Psalmist upbraids the sottish Heathen, That[4] they ate the Sacrifices of the dead. Wherefore it is observable in the Gospel, that when Christ was now dead & buried in his Sepulchre, the Hope and Expectation of his Disciples, who had formerly believed in him, lay as it were intombed in the same Sepulchre with him. And then the two Disciples that went to Emmaus <5> could onely say,[5] We trusted this had been he which should have redeemed Israel. But afterwards, when they were able upon good grounds to affirm that κύριος ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη, The Lord was risen indeed, then their Faith revived a-new, and mounted up higher then ever, and grew triumphant in them.

Again, there was another excellent Design in Christ's Resurrection from the dead, which the Apostle pursues largely also in this Chapter; viz. To give the world assurance of a Life after death, and a blessed Immortality to be enjoyed by all true Believers and Followers of Christ. Christ by his Resurrection hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light, as the Apostle speaks 2 Tim. 1. 10. or, as the Church sings in that divine Anthem, After he had overcome the sharpness of Death, he opened the kingdome of Heaven to all Believers. The reasons of Philosophy that prove the Soul's Immortality, though firm and Demonstrative in themselves, yet they are so thin and subtile to vulgar apprehensions, that they glide away through them, and leave no such palpable impressions on them, as can be able sufficiently to bear up against that heavy weight of gross infidelity that continually sinks down the minds of men to a distrust of such high things as be above the reach of <6> Sense. Neither are these considerations any longer of force then men can actually attend to the strength and coherence of the Demonstration; and when that actual attention (which is operose and difficult) is taken off, then the Truth itself like a Spectre or Apparition suddenly vanishes away, and men question with themselves afterwards whether there were any such thing or no. Such thin and evanid things are Philosophical Speculations about the high Mysteries of Faith and Religion. But Christ his raising of the selfsame Body which was laid in the Sepulchre, and afterwards appearing in it often to his Disciples, gave such evident assurance of the Soul's Immortality and Life after death, as must needs strike more strongly upon Vulgar minds, and make more palpable impressions on them, and be alwaies of more present and ready use then any Philosophical Reasons and Demonstrations.

And the Scripture is herein very harmonious and agreeable to itself both in the Old and New Testament: for as in the one it makes the original of Death's entrance into the world to be the Sin and Disobedience of the First Adam, who was ἄνθρωπος ἐκ γῆς, χοϊκὸς, of the earth, earthy; so in the other it attributes <7> the recovery of Life and Immortality to the meritorious Obedience of the Second Adam, that was ὁ Κύριος ἐξ οὐρανουν, ἐπουράνιος, the Lord from heaven, heavenly, who by his Death vanquished & destroyed Death. For as Sampson, (who was a Type of our Saviour) when he was besieged by the Philistines in the City Gaza, (Judges 16.) rose up at midnight, and pulled up the Gates of the City and the Posts, and laying them upon his shoulders carried them up to the top of the Hill; in like manner Christ our Lord, when he was environ'd and encompass'd by Death, after he had been awhile detain'd under the custody thereof, he ascended victoriously out of the Power of the Grave, and carried the Gates of Hell and Death upon his Shoulders along with him triumphantly into Heaven; he slighted and dismantled that mighty Garrison whose Walls were stronger then Brass and Gates harder then Adamant, that it should no longer be a Prison with doors and barrs to shut up those that believe in him, but an open and free passage and a broad High-way to Life and Immortality. He is the Resurrection and the Life, (John 11. 25.) and he that believeth in him, though he were dead, yet shall he live. For he that liveth and was dead and is alive for evermore, even he hath the Keys <8> of Hell and of Death. Revelat. 1. 18.

But that which I chiefly aim at at this time, concerning Jesus his Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, is this, That by and after it he was made Lord and Christ, King and Saviour, and Sovereign of his Church. Not but that Christ's Humanity was alwaies hypostatically united to the Divinity, but because the Oeconomical Kingdome of Christ as Mediatour, according to the Scripture-calculation, seems not to commence till after his state of Humiliation was over, and so begins its Epocha from Christ's Resurrection, or his Exaltation to sit at God's right hand in heaven. Acts 2. 36. Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same. Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Acts 5. 31. Jesus whom ye slew and hanged on a Tree, him hath God exalted on his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, &c. Philip. 2. 9. Who humbled himself and became obedient to the death of the Cross; Wherefore hath God highly exalted him, and given him a Name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, &c. and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. And that Article of our Creed concerning Christ's sitting at God's right hand in Heaven signifies thus much unto us, That Christ after his Resurrection and <9> Ascension into Heaven hath all Power given him both in Heaven and in Earth, all things being made subject to him,[6] excepting him onely that hath put all things under him. He being, for the Comfort of his Church and Members here upon Earth, according to his Humanity made God's Vicegerent, and seated in his Father's Throne, and having a Mediatorious Kingdome bestowed upon him that shall continue[7] till he hath put down all Authority and Power, and hath subdued all his Enemies under his feet, and then hath delivered up this Oeconomical Kingdome to God the Father,[8] that God may be all in all.

And this is an unspeakable Consolation that Christian Religion affords to us, and a most gracious Condescension of the All-wise God; That forasmuch as we that dwell in these houses of Clay are so far removed from the pure and abstracted Deity, and so infinitely disproportioned unto it, that there should be such a contrivance as this set on foot, That we should have one of our own Flesh and Bloud, that was in all things tempted like unto us, and had experience of all our difficulties and calamities, who demonstrated his infinite love to us in laying down his Life for us, and therefore we cannot doubt but hath a <10> most tender Sympathy and fellow-feeling with us in all our infirmities; I say, that we should have such a one exalted to God's right hand, and invested with all Authority and Power both in Heaven and in Earth, that he might administer all things for the good of his Church and Members, and supply them in all their wants and necessities. Which consideration must needs be farre more comfortable, chearing and reviving to every true Christian, then it was to the Sons of Jacob, when they went down to Egypt to buy Corn and provision for their necessities, to think that Joseph their Brother was made Ruler over all the Land.

And yet notwithstanding this is wholly eluded and evacuated by those high-flown Spiritualists of these latter times, that slight and reject the Letter of the New Testament as a mean and carnal thing, and will acknowledge no other Death and Resurrection of Christ, no other Ascension and Sitting at God's right hand, nay no other Day of Judgement nor Resurrection of the Body, but what is Mystical and Allegorical: Whereby they do not onely impudently slurre the Gospel according to the History and the Letter, in making it no better then a Romantical Legend or a mere Æsopick Fable that con <11> tains a good ἐπιμύθιον or Moral under it; but also plainly defeat the Counsel of God against themselves and mankinde, by antiquating Christianity, and bringing in instead thereof old Paganism again disguised under a few canting Phrases of Scripture-language. For though Moses had a Veil over his face, though there were many obscure Umbrages and Allegories in the Law, (the Children of Israel being then not able to bear the brightness of that Evangelical Truth that shined under them) yet now under the Gospel[9] we do all with open face behold as in a Glass the glory of the Lord nakedly represented to us, being changed into the same image from glory to glory.

But to let pass these, and still to improve our former Meditation further; Let us in the next place consider, that Christ, who received all this Power after his Resurrection and Ascension, did not receive it in vain and to no purpose, either taking no notice of our humane transactions here below, as having removed his Pavilion too farre into those Regions of Light and Glory from us; or else remaining notwithstanding an idle Spectator, and no way concerning or interesting himself in the Issues of our humane affairs. Which will be so much the more improbable, if we <12> consider what the Scripture and experience tell us, that the Devil and Apostate spirits are perpetually active and busie in promoting the Concernments of the Kingdome of Darkness. And therefore doubtless He whom God hath made the Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls can never be so regardless of his Office, nor so careless of his Flock and tender Lambs committed to his charge, as to suffer those cruel Wolves to prey upon them at pleasure; and to have no pity at all for them, nor to extend his watchful Providence over them whom once he vouchsafed to redeem with his own precious bloud. No certainly, he that waded through so many difficulties and agonies for us, in the daies of his Flesh, he that bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, he that was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, that sweat drops of bloud in the Garden and was nailed to the Cross for us in Golgotha, He cannot so easily forget those whom he hath so dearly bought, nor suffer all that power which God hath invested him with for the good of his Church to lie by him idle and unimployed.

But to the end that there might not be the least ground of Suspicion or Distrust left in the minds of men concerning this particular, <13> Christ after his Ascension into Heaven thought good to give us a sensible demonstration both of his Kingly Power and of his watchful Care and Providence over his Church, that he would not leave them orphans and destitute of all assistence, by sending down his Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in a visible and miraculous manner upon his Disciples. Acts 2. 32. This Jesus hath God raised up, of which we are all Witnesses: Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the Promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear. And verily if there had been no news heard of our Lord and Saviour Christ, after he ascended above the Clouds out of his Disciples sight, no real and visible Demonstration of his Existence, Power, and Providence over his Church; the distrustful hearts of men would have been too prone to suspect that the pretence of an invisible Kingdome at God's right hand above had been no better then a mere Dream, an aiery and phantastick Notion; and they would have been too ready to have called in question the truth of all his other Miracles, his Resurrection and Ascension, witnessed onely by his own Disciples, and to have surmised those several Apparitions of his that we reade of after his Death had been nothing <14> else but Spectres or Phantasms, like the vulgarly-believed Apparitions of the Ghosts of men in Aiery bodies. But the sensible and miraculous Pouring out of the Holy Ghost upon his Disciples, after his Ascension into Heaven, was a palpable Confirmation of all Christ's other Miracles, of the Validity of his Meritorious Death and Passion, of the Truth of his Resurrection and Ascension; and gives most comfortable assurance to all Believers to the World's end, that though his Bodily presence be withdrawn from them, yet he hath not left his Church utterly forlorn and destitute of all assistence, but that his Spirit, the Holy Comforter, continueth to be present amongst them as his Vicegerent, and to assist them for all the holy purposes of the Gospel, to the World's end.

Now the principal Effects of Christ's holy Spirit, which are to be hoped for and expected by every true Believer and private Christian, are comprised by the Apostle under Three Heads here in the Text, as consisting in a Threefold Victory over a Threefold Enemy. The sting of Death is Sin, and the strength of Sin is the Law: But thanks be to God which giveth us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1. A Victory over Sin, as that which is the Cause of Death.

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2. A Victory over the Law, as that which aggravates the Guilt, and exasperates the Power of Sin.

3. Lastly, A Victory over Death, the Fruit and Consequent of Sin.

FIRST therefore, There is a Victory over Sin to be obtained in and through Christ.

Some there are that will acknowledge no other Victory over Sin, but an External one, that whereby it was conquered for us by Christ upon the Cross sixteen hundred years since; where he spoiled Principalities and Powers, and made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it, Col. 2. 15. and where he redeemed us from the Curse of the Law, being made a Curse for us, Gal. 3. 13. And doubtless this was one great end of Christ's coming into the world, to make a Propitiatory Sacrifice for the Sins of mankind: Not onely that he might thereby put a period to those continually-repeated and ineffectual Sacrifices of brute Beasts, and the Offering of the bloud of Bulls and Goats, that could not take away Sin, nor propitiate the Divine Majesty; but also that he might at once give a sensible Demonstration both <16> of God's high Displeasure against Sin, and of his Placableness and Reconcilableness to Sinners returning to Obedience; and therefore, to that end that the Despair of Pardon might not hinder any from Repentance and Amendment of Life, promulgate free Pardon and Remission of Sins through his Bloud to all that should repent and believe the Gospel.

But it is a very unsound and unwholsome Interpretation of this Salutary Undertaking of Christ's in the Gospel, as if the ultimate End and Design of it were to procure Remission of Sin and Exemption from Punishment onely, to some particular persons still continuing under the Power of Sin, and to save them at last in their Sins also, that is, with a mere outward and carnal Salvation; it being a thing utterly impossible, that those Undefiled Rewards of the Heavenly Kingdome should be received and enjoyed by men in their Unregenerate and unrenewed Nature.

For what is this else but to make Christ the grand Patron of the Kingdome of Darkness, and to suppose God to be such a Being as may be bribed and corrupted by Sacrifice and Intercession, to a partial Connivence and fond Indulgence of men in their Sins to all <17> Eternity? Or else to insinuate that there is no other Evil at all in Sin, but onely in respect of that outward Punishment consequent upon it? which is to destroy the Nature and Reality of Sin, and to make it nothing but a mere Name or Phancy; as if Good and Evil, Just and Unjust (as some Philosophers dreamed) were not Φύσει, but Νόμῳ and Δόξᾳ onely, had no Reality in Nature, but depended onely upon Arbitrary Laws enforced by Outward Punishments, or mere Opinion, and so were onely Ποιητὰ (as Democritus expressed it) mere Factitious things, or else Φανταστὰ Fictitious and Imaginary. Either of which opinions if they were true, then indeed Remission of Sin and Exemption from Punishment would quite take away all the Evil of Sin.

But if Sin be not a mere Name or Phancy, but that which hath a Real and Intrinsecal Evil in it, greater then that of Outward Punishment; then certainly it cannot be so transcendent a Happiness, as some men carnally conceit, to have an Impunity in Sinning to all Eternity, that the Accomplishment thereof should be thought the onely fit Undertaking for the Son of God to engage in, and that which would deservedly entitle him the Sa <18> viour of Mankinde. For that of Socrates in Plato must then needs be true, Τὸ ἀδικρῶντα μὴ διδόναι δίκην, πάντων μένιστόν τε καὶ πρῶτον κακῶν ἐιναι, That (in those which are not incorrigible and incurable) it is the greatest Evil that can possibly befall them, to continue in Wickedness unpunished; and the greatest Kindness that they can receive, by the lesser Evil of Punishment and Castigation to be cured of the greater Evil of Sin: For (as the same Philosopher speaks) Γατρικὴ τας πονηρίας δίκη, Chastisement and Correction is the natural Remedy and Cure of Wickedness; which our Saviour confirms when he saith,[10] As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: and sure the Remedy is not worse then the Disease.

Wherefore it was so farre from being the Ultimate End of Christ's undertaking to die for Sin, that men might securely live in it, that on the contrary the Death of Christ was particularly intended as an Engine to batter down the Kingdom of Sin & Satan, and to bring men effectually unto God and Righteousness, as the Scripture plainly witnesseth, 1 Pet. 2. 24. His own self bare our Sins in his Body on the Tree, that we being dead to Sin, might live to Righteousness. The Death of Christ conducing to this great End not onely as it was Exemplary, and Hierogly <19> phically instructed us, that we ought to[11] take up our Cross likewise, and follow our crucified Lord and Saviour, suffering in the Flesh and ceasing from Sin: but also as it doth most lively demonstrate to us God's high Displeasure against Sin, and the malignant Nature of it, that could not otherwise be expiated then by the Bloud of that innocent and immaculate Lamb, the onely-begotten Son of God: and lastly, as the Hope of Pardon and free Remission of Sin in the Bloud of Christ for the truly Penitent might invite and animate men to chearful & vigorous endeavours against Sin.

Others there are that tell us there is indeed something farther aimed at in the Gospel besides the bare Remission of Sins, but that it is nothing else but the Imputation of an External Righteousness or another's Inherent Holiness, which is so completely made ours thereby to all intents and purposes, as if we our selves had been really and perfectly righteous; and this upon no other Condition or Qualification at all required in us, but onely of mere Faith scrupulously prescinded from all Holiness and Sanctification, or the laying hold and apprehending onely (as they use to phrase it) of this External and Imputed Righteousness, <20> that is, the merely believing and imagining it to be ours: Which kind of Faith therefore is but the Imagination of an Imagination, or of that which really is not, and, as Pindar calls Man, Σκίας ὄναρ, the very Dream of a Shadow.

For though this be pretended by some to be spoken onely of Justification as contradistinct from Sanctification, the latter of which they conceive must by no means have any Conditional Influence upon the former; yet it is plain, that it will unavoidably extend to the taking away of the Necessity of Inherent Righteousness and Holiness, and all Obligation to it: upon which very account it is so highly acceptable, because under a specious shew of Modesty and Humility it doth exceedingly gratify mens Hypocrisie and Carnality. For he that is thus completely Justified by the Imputation of a mere External Righteousness, must needs have ipso facto a Right and Title thereby to Heaven and Happiness without Holiness; for Rom. 8. 30. Whom he justifieth, them he also glorifieth. Neither can any thing be required inherently in them, where all Inherency is perfectly supplied by Imputation. And though it be pretended that Sanctification will spontaneously follow after by way of Gratitude; yet this is <21> like to prove but a very slippery hold, where it is believed that Gratitude it self, as well as all other Graces, is already in them by Imputation. Neither can it be reasonably thought that true Holiness should spring by way of Gratitude or Ingenuity from such a Principle of Carnality as makes men so well contented with a mere Imaginary Righteousness.

But this Opinion as it makes God in Justifying to pronounce a false Sentence, and to conceive of things otherwise then they are, and to doe that which himself hath declared to be abominable,[12] to Justifie the wicked (in a forensick sense,) and as it is irreconcileable to those many Scriptures that assure us God will render to every man according to his Works; so it also takes away the Necessity of Christ's Meritorious and Propitiatory Sacrifice for the Remission of Sins: for where a complete Righteousness is imputed, there is no Sin at all to be pardoned. And lastly, it vainly supposes Righteousness and Holiness to be mere Phantastical and Imaginary things; for otherwise it were no more possible that a Wicked man should be made Righteous by another's Righteousness imputed, then that a Sick man should be made Whole by another's imputed <22> Health. If a Brother or Sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed, and be you filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful for the body; what doth it profit? James 2. 15, 16. Even so, what doth it profit, my Brethren, if a man say he hath Faith (or Imputed Righteousness) and have not Works? (that is, Real and Inherent Righteousness, or Inward Regeneration) can such a Faith (that is, Imagination, or Imputation) save him? Certainly no more then mere words can clothe a naked mans Back, or feed a hungry mans Belly, or warm and thaw him whose Bloud is frozen and congealed in his veins. Nay it is no more possible for a man to be made Holy, then to be made Happy, by mere Imputation, which latter few men would be contented withall; and, were it not for their Hypocrisie, they would be as little contented with the former; and it would as little please them to be Opinione tantùm Justi, as Opinione tantùm Beati, to use Tully's expressions against the Epicureans. Nay, since it is most certain that the greatest part of our Happiness consisteth in Righteousness and Holiness, it will unavoidably follow, that if we have no other then an Imputative Righteousness, we can have <23> no other then an Imputative Happiness, and a mere Imaginary Heaven, which will little please us when we feel our selves to be in a true and real Hell.

But it is not our Intention here to quarrel about Words and Phrases, as if Christ's meritorious Satisfaction might not be said to be Imputed to those that Repent and Believe the Gospel, for Remission of Sins; much less to deny what the Holy Scripture plainly asserts, True and Living Faith, that worketh by Love, which is the very Essence of the New Creature, or Regenerate Nature, λογίζεαζ εἰς δικαιοσύνην, to be imputed or accounted for Righteousness, under the Gospel-dispensation, where God will not proceed according to Legal Rigour and Severity with his fallen Creatures, but according to that Equity and Ἐπιείκεια which the Philosopher tells us is the Truest Justice. But our onely design is to caution against that Antinomian Error which is too often insinuated under the Notion of Imputed Righteousness, as if there were no necessity of Inherent Righteousness and a Real Victory over Sin in order to Salvation, but that an Imputed or Imaginary one might serve the turn: Which <24> Error, springing up very early amongst the Gnostick-Christians, S. John gives a seasonable Antidote against it, 1 John 3. 7. Little Children, let no man deceive you; he that doth Righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous: and in Chap. 2. v. 4. He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his Commandments, is a Liar, and the Truth is not in him. To which purpose is that also in his first Chap. v. 5. This is the Message which we have heard of him and declare to you, That God is Light, and in him is no Darkness at all. If we say that we have Fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lye, and doe not the Truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have Fellowship one with another, and the Bloud of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all Sin. Wherefore the same Apostle in that Epistle tells us of overcoming the Wicked one, Chap. 2. 14. and of overcoming the World, by our Faith in Christ, Chap. 5. 4. And in the Apocalyps he propoundeth from Christ himself divers remarkable Promises to him that overcometh: That he shall eat of the Tree of life that is in the midst of the Paradise of God, c. 2. v. 7. That he shall not be hurt of the Second Death, v. 11. That he shall have the hidden Manna, and a white Stone with a new Name written in it, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth <25> it, v. 17. That he will give him the morning Star, v. 28. That he shall be clothed in white Raiment, and his name shall not be blotted out of the Book of Life, c. 3. v. 5. That he shall be a Pillar in the Temple of God, v. 12. and That he shall sit with Christ in his Throne, as he overcame and sate down with his Father in his Throne, v. 21. The Condition of all which Promises being Overcoming, we may well conclude from thence, that there is a Real and not an Imaginary Victory onely to be obtained over the Power of Sin as well as the Guilt of it.

Nay it is true and very observable that those Places which are usually quoted as the Foundation of an Imputed Righteousness in some other sense then what we have before mentioned, are indeed no otherwise to be understood then of a Real Inward Righteousness that is wrought or infused by the Spirit of Christ. As that principal one, Philip. 3. v. 8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things loss for the excellency of the Knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,—that I may win him, and be found in him, not having mine own Righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is through the Faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith. Where Christ, whom the Apostle desires to win and to <26> be found in, and the Righteousness which is through the Faith of Christ, and the Righteousness which is of God through Faith, are no External Imputed Righteousness, but the Real Inward Righteousness of the New Creature wrought by the Spirit of Christ, through Faith, which is opposed here to our own Righteousness, and the Righteousness which is of the Law, that is, the Righteousness of outward Works done by our own Natural power, according to the Letter of the Law, in our Unregenerate state: for so the following words explain the meaning, That I may know him, and the power of his Resurrection, and the fellowship of his Sufferings, being made conformable unto his Death; If by any means I might attain to the Resurrection of the dead. And this same Inward and Real Righteousness is often elsewhere called Christ, and the New man, that is said to be In us, and which we are exhorted to Put on, not by Conceit or Imagination onely, but by real Conformity to his Nature and Participation of his Spirit.

And whereas the Magnifiers of Free Grace in an Antinomian sense, and the Decriers of Inherent Righteousness, commonly conceive that the Free Grace of God consists in nothing but either in the Pardon of Sin and Exemption from <27> Punishment, or the Imputation of an External Holiness, and accounting men Just freely, without any Condition but onely the mere Believing of this that they are so accounted; and that Faith is no otherwise considered in the Gospel then in order to the Believing of this Imputation; and that our own Works, when they are comparatively undervalued to Grace and Faith, are to be taken for all Inherent Righteousness and Holiness, even the New Creature it self: That all these are Errors, as it might be abundantly proved from sundry other places of Scripture, so it may sufficiently appear from that one, Ephes. 2. v. 4, &c. God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickned us together with Christ, (by Grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together—That in the Ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his Grace, and his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. For by Grace are ye saved through Faith; and that not of your selves; it is the gift of God: Not of Works, lest any man should boast. For we are his Workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good Works. For when we are here said to be saved by Grace, it is plain that the Apostle means by Saved, inwardly Quickned and Sanctified: σώζεθζ <28> (saith Grotius well here) is Purgari à Vittis: which inward Sanctification is here attributed to God's Free Grace, and denied to our selves and to Works; the meaning whereof is, that it is not effected by our own Works (whether of outward Morality or Legal Ceremonies) done by our Natural power in the Unregenerate state, but by the quickning and enlivening Spirit of Christ inwardly creating us a-new. And lastly, Faith is plainly made the Instrument of this inward Sanctification, that is not wrought by our own Works but the Grace and Spirit of Christ. Whence we may well conclude, That the true Object of the Christian Faith is not onely the Bloud of Christ shed upon the Cross for the Remission of Sin, but also the renewing Spirit of Christ for the inward conquering and mortifying of it, and the Quickning or Raising of us to an Heavenly Life.

And I dare be bold to say, That the inward sense of every true and sincere-hearted Christian in this Point speaks the same language with the Scripture. For a true Christian, that hath any thing of the Life of God in him, cannot but earnestly desire an inward Healing of his sinful Maladies and Distempers, <29> and not an outward Hiding or Palliation of them onely. He must needs passionately long more and more after a new Life and Nature, and the Divine Image to be more fully formed in him; insomuch that if he might be secured from the pains of Hell without it, he could not be fully quieted and satisfied therewith. 'Tis not the Effects and Consequents of Sin onely, the External Punishment due unto it, that he desires to be freed from, but the Intrinsecal Evil of Sin it self, the Plague of his own Heart. As he often meditates with comfort upon that Outward Cross to which his Saviour's hands and feet were nailed for his Sins; so he impatiently desires also to feel the virtue of that Inward Cross of Christ, by which the World may be crucified to him, and he unto the World; and the Power of Christ's Resurrection in him, still to raise him farther unto newness of Life. Neither will he be more easily persuaded to believe that his sinful Lusts, the malignity and violence whereof he feels within himself, can be conquered without him, then that an Army here in England can be conquered in France or Spain. He is so deeply sensible of the Real Evil that is in Sin it self, that he cannot be contented to have it onely histrionically triumphed <30> over. And to phansy himself covered all over with a thin veil of mere external Imputation, will afford little satisfactory Comfort unto him that hungers and thirsts after Righteousness, and is weary and heavy laden with the Burthen of his Sins, and doth not desire to have his inward Maladies hid and covered onely, but healed and cured. Neither can he be willing to be put off till the hour of Death for a Divorce betwixt his Soul and Sin; nor easily persuaded that though Sin should rule and reign in him all his Life-long, yet the last parting grone, that shall divide his Soul and Body asunder, might have so great an Efficacy as in a moment also to separate all Sin from his Soul.

BUT that we may not seem here either to beat the Air in Generals and Uncertainties, or by an indiscreet zeal to countenance those conceited and high-flown Enthusiasts of latter times, that, forgetting that example of Modesty given us by the blessed Apostle,[13] [Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect—But this one thing I doe; forgetting those things which are behind, and reach <31> ing forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the Mark] boldly arrogate to themselves such an Absolute Perfection, as would make them not to stand in need of any Saviour, nor to be cleansed by the Bloud of the Lamb, which therefore they allegorize into a mystical sense; we must declare that we speak not here of Inherent Righteousness and a Victory over Sin in a Legal or Pharisaical sense, but in such an Evangelical sense as yet notwithstanding is true and real.

The First Degree whereof is a Principle of New life, infused into the Soul by the Spirit of Christ through Faith, (which the Apostle calls Semen Dei, the Seed of God) inclining it to[14] love God and Righteousness as a thing correspondent to its nature, and inabling it to act freely and ingenuously in the waies of God, out of a living Law written upon the Heart, and to eschew Sin as contrary to a vital Principle. For the true Gospel-Righteousness, which Christ came to set up in the world, doth not consist merely in outward Works, whether Ceremonial or Moral, done by our own Natural power in our Unregenerate state, but in an inward Life and Spirit wrought by God. Which those very Philosophers seemed <32> in a manner to acknowledge, that denied ἀρετὴν to be διδακτόν τι, that Vertue could be taught by outward Rules and Precepts like an Art or Trade; and Aristotle himself also, when he inclines to think that men are θείᾳ μοίρᾳ ἀγαθοὶ, and that their being Good depends upon some extraordinary Divine Influence and Assistence. Which I the rather take notice of, because some late Pretenders to Philosophy have prophanely derided this Doctrine after this manner, as if it made Good Thoughts and Vertuous Dispositions to be POURED and BLOWN into men by God.

But there is a Second Degree of Victory over Sin, which every true Christian ought not onely to look upon as possible, but also to endeavour after, and restlesly to pursue; which is such a measure of Strength in the Inward man, and such a degree of Mortification or Crucifixion of our sinful Lusts, as that a man will not knowingly and deliberately doe any thing that his Conscience plainly tells him is a Sin, though there be never so great Temptations to it.

Whether or no this be that Evangelical Perfection which was the Mark that S. Paul pressed towards, and which he seems mystically to <33> call the Resurrection from the Dead, or any thing further, I leave it to others to make a Judgement of. But doubtless, they that have attained to such a Principle of New Life and such a measure of inward Strength, as is already mentioned, that is, to the Perfection of unfeigned Sincerity, may, notwithstanding the Irregularities of the first Motions, violent Assaults and Importunities of Tentations, sudden Incursions and Obreptions, Sins of mere Ignorance and Inadvertency, (which are all wash'd away in the Bloud of Christ) in a true Evangelical sense be said to have attained to a Victory over Sin.

Wherefore I demand in the next place, Why it should be thought impossible by the Grace of the Gospel and the Faith of Christ to attain to such a Victory as this is over Sin. For Sin owes its original to nothing else but Ignorance and Darkness. Πᾶς ὁ πονηρὸς ἀγνοεῖ, Every wicked man is ignorant. And therefore in that sense that other Maxime of the Stoicks may have some Truth also, that ἂκοντες ἁμαρτάνουσι, Men sin against their will; because if they knew that those things were indeed so hurtful to them, they would never doe them. Now we all know how easily Light conquers Darkness, and upon its first approch makes it flie before it, and like a <34> guilty shade seek to hide it self from it, by running round about the Earth. And certainly the Light of God arising in the Soul can with as much ease scatter away the Night of sinful Ignorance before it. For Truth hath a cognation with the Soul; and Falshood, Lies and Impostures are no more able to make resistence against the Power of Truth breaking forth, then Darkness is able to dispute with Light. Wherefore the Entrance in of Light upon the Soul is half a Conquest over our Sinful Lusts.

Again, though Sin have had a long and customary Possession in the Soul, yet it has no just Title, much less a Right of Inheritance in it. For Sin is but a Stranger and Foreiner in the Soul, an Usurper and Intruder into the Lord's Inheritance. Sin it is no Nature, as S. Austin and others of the Fathers often inculcate, but an adventitious and extraneous thing; and the true and ancient Nature of the Soul of Man suffers violence under it, and is oppressed by it. It is nothing else but the Preternatural state of Rational Beings, and therefore we have no reason to think it must needs be perpetual and unalterable. It is a strange thing that a jarring Instrument by the hand <35> of a skilful Musician should ever be set in tune again? Doubtless, if an Instrument of Musick were a Living thing, it would be sensible of Harmony as its proper state, and abhorre Discord and Dissonancy as a thing preternatural to it. The Soul of Man was Harmonical as God at first made it, till Sin, disordering the Strings and Faculties, put it out of tune and marr'd the Musick of it: but doubtless that Great Harmostes that tunes the whole World, and makes all things keep their Times and Measures, is able to set this lesser Instrument in Tune again. Sin is but a Disease and Dyscrasie in the Soul, Righteousness is the Health and natural Complexion of it; and there is a Propension in the nature of every thing to return to its proper state, and to cast off whatever is heterogeneous to it. And some Physicians tell us that Medicaments are but subservient to Nature, by removing obstructions and impediments; but Nature it self and the inward Archæus released and set at liberty works the Cure. Bodies when they are bent out of their Place, and violently forced out of the natural Position of their Parts, have a Spring of their own and an inward strong Propension to return to their own natural Po <36> sture, which produceth that Motion of Restitution that Philosophers endeavour to give a reason of. As for example, Air may be forced into much a lesser room then it would naturally expand itself into; but whilst it is under this Violence, it hath a Spring or strong Conatus to return to its proper state, (of which several ingenious Observations have been lately published by a Learned hand.) Now Sin being a Violent and preternatural state, and a Sinner's returning to God and Righteousness being Motus Restitutionis & Liberationis, whereby the Soul is restored to its true Freedome and ancient Nature; why should there not be such an Elater or Spring in the Soul, (quickened and enlivened by Divine Grace) such a natural Conatus of returning to its proper state again? Doubtless there is, and the Scripture seems sometimes to acknowledge it and call it by the name of Spirit, when it speaketh of our free acting in God's waies from an inward Principle. For the Spirit is not alwaies to be taken for a Breath or Impulse from without; but also for an inward Propension of the Soul awakened and revived in it, to return to its proper state, as it is Intellectual, and then to act freely in it according to its ancient Nature. <37> For if the Spirit were a mere External Force acting upon the Soul without the concurrence of an Innate Principle, then to be acted by the Spirit would be a state of Violence to the Soul, which it could not delight alwaies to continue under; whereas the state of the Spirit is a state of Freedome, and not of Violence, as the Apostle witnesseth, when he calls it the Freedome of the Spirit: It is the Soul's acting from an inward Spring and Principle of its own Intellectual nature, not by a mere outward Impulse, like a Boat that is tugged on by Oars or driven by a strong blast of Wind. Wherefore the Soul's returning from Sin to Righteousness, which is its Primitive Nature, must needs have great advantages, it going on Secundo flumine, according to the genuine Current of its true Intellectual nature, and having besides the assistence of a gentle Gale of the Divine Spirit from without to help it forwards.

Why should it be thought so great an impossibility for men willingly to doe that which is agreeable to the Laws of Goodness, since this is the genuine Nature of the Soul when once it is freed from mistakes and encumbrances from that which is heterogeneous and adventitious to it, that cloggs it and oppresses <38> it; and every Life and Nature acts freely according to its own Propensions? Why should it seem strange that the Superiour Faculties of the Soul should become predominant, since they are φύσει δεποτικαὶ of a Lordly nature and made to rule, and the Inferiour Faculties of a servile Temper and made to be subject? Why should it seem impossible for Equity, Light and Reason to be inthroned in the Soul of Man again, and there to command and govern those exorbitant Affections that do so lawlesly rebel against them? For if some grave Commanders and Generals have been able by the Majesty of their very looks to hush and silence a disorderly and mutinous Rout of Souldiers; certainly Reason re-enthroned in her Majestick Seat, and re-invested with her ancient Power and Authority, which is natural and not usurped, would much more easily be able to check and controll the tumultuous Rabble of Lusts and Passions in us.

Doubtless God hath no other Design upon us in Religion and the Gospel of his Son then what is for our good, and to restore us to the Rectitude and Perfection of our own Beings: Wherefore he seeks to redeem and call off our Affections from the perishing Vanities of this <39> World, which being so infinitely below us do debase and pollute our Spirits; wherefore he would not have us to addict ourselves wholly to the Gratifications of our lower Faculties, which are but the Brute in us, but he would have the Best in us to be uppermost, the Man to rule the Brute, and the τὸ Θεῖον, that that is of God in us, to rule our Manly and Rational Faculties. He would not have us, Narcissus-like, to be alwaies courting our own Shadow in the Stream; for, according to the ancient Democritical Philosophy, this whole visible World is nothing else but mere extended Bulk, and hath nothing Real in it but Atomes or Particles of a different Magnitude, diversely placed and agitated in a continual Whirlpool. But all the Colour, Beauty and Varnish, all that which charms and bewitches us in these Objects without us, is nothing but the Vital Sensations and Relishes of our own Souls. This gives all the Paint and Lustre to those Beauties which we court and fall in love withall without us, which are otherwise as devoid of Reality and as Phantastical as the Colours of the Rainbow. So that this Outward World is not unfitly compared to an inchanted Palace, which seems indeed mighty pleasing and ra <40> vishing to our deluded Sense, whereas all is but imaginary and a mere prestigious Shew. Those things which we are enamoured with, thinking them to be without us, being nothing but the Vital Energies of our own Spirits. In a word, God would have Man to be a Living Temple for himself to dwell in, and his Faculties Instruments to be used and employed by him; which need not be thought impossible, if that be true that Philosophy tells us, that there is Cognatio quædam a certain near Kindred and Alliance between the Soul and God.

Lastly, we must observe, though this inward Victory over Sin be no otherwise to be effected then by the Spirit of Christ through Faith, and by a Divine Operation in us, so that in a certain sense we may be said to be Passive thereunto; yet notwithstanding we must not dream any such thing, as if our Active Cooperation and Concurrence were not also necessarily required thereunto. For as there is a Spirit of God in Nature which produceth Vegetables and Minerals, which humane Art and Industry could never be able to effect, namely that Spiritus intus alens which the Poet speaks of, which yet notwithstand <41> ing doth not work Absolutely, Unconditionately and Omnipotently, but requireth certain Preparations, Conditions and Dispositions in the Matter which it works upon; (For unless the Husbandman plow the Ground and sow the Seed, the Spirit of God in Nature will not give any increase:) In like manner the Scripture tells us that the Divine Spirit of Grace doth not work Absolutely, Unconditionately and Irresistibly in the Souls of men, but requireth certain Preparations, Conditions and Cooperations in us; forasmuch as it may both be quenched, and stirred up or excited in us. And indeed unless we plow up the Fallow-ground of our hearts and sow to our selves in Righteousness (as the Prophet speaks) by our earnest endeavours; we cannot expect that the Divine Spirit of Grace will showr down that Heavenly increase upon us. Wherefore if we would attain to a Victory over Sin by the Spirit of Christ, we must endeavour to fight a good Fight and run a good Race, and to enter in at the streight gate, that so overcoming we may receive the Crown of Life.

And thus much shall suffice to have spoken at this time concerning the First Particular, The Victory over Sin.

<42>

I Shall now proceed to speak something briefly to the Two other Victories that remain, which are attainable also by Christ, over the Law and Death.

And the Law may be considered two manner of waies. First, as an outward Covenant of Works that pronounceth Death and Condemnation to all that do not yield absolute and entire Obedience to whatever is therein commanded; and which imposed also with the same Severity a multitude of outward Ceremonial Observations which had no intrinsecal Goodness at all in them, but kept men in a state of Bondage and Servility. Now the Law in this sense, as it is an outward Letter and Covenant of Works, is already conquered externally for us by Christ's Death upon the Cross, Galat. 3. 13. Christ hath redeemed us from the Curse of the Law, being made a Curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a Tree; That the Blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the Promise of the Spirit through Faith. And he hath thereby freed us also from our Obligation to those Commandments that were[15] not Good, having broken down the Middle-wall of <43> Partition that was betwixt Jew and Gentile, abolishing in his Flesh the Enmity, even the Law of Commandments, Ephes. 2. 14, 15. And blotting out the hand-writing of Ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and taking it out of the way, nailing it to his Cross, Coloss. 2. 14.

Secondly, The Law is sometimes also considered in Scripture as an inward state of Minde, wrought by the Law and Truth of God, whether written outwardly in the Letter of the Scripture, or inwardly in the Conscience, prevailing onely so farre as to beget a Conviction of mens Duty and of the Wrath of God against Sin, but not inabling them with inward strength and power to doe what is commanded, willingly, out of a Love of it. It is such a State, when men are onely Passive to God's Law, and unwillingly subject to it (as an Enemy) for fear of Wrath and Vengeance. And this must needs be a state of miserable Bondage and Servility, Distraction and Perplexity of minde; when men are at once strongly convinced of the Wrath of God against Sin, and yet under the power of their Lusts haling and dragging of them to the commission of it. It is that state (as I conceive) which S. Paul describes Rom. 7. after this manner; The Law is Spiritual, but I am Carnal, <44> sold under Sin: for that which I doe, I allow not; for what I would, that doe I not, but what I hate, that doe I. And again, I see another Law in my Members warring against my Minde, and bringing me into Captivity under the Law of Sin. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death? Now from the Law in this sense, that is, from the Bondage and Servility of the Legal state, we are not delivered, nor made Conquerors by what Christ did outwardly upon the Cross, as some imagine; as if he had there purchas'd for us an Indulgence to sin without controll: but by the inward working of his Holy Spirit, freeing us from the Power and Bondage of Sin, and unbewitching us from the Love of it.

Wherefore there is a double Freedome from this Legal state to be taken notice of; a True & a False Freedome; which I cannot better explain then by using the Apostle's own Similitude in the beginning of the 7. Chap. Know ye not, Brethren, that the Law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? (or rather as long as It, that is, the Law, liveth?) For the Woman which hath an Husband, is bound by the Law to her Husband so long as he liveth; but if her Husband be dead, she is loosed from the Law of the Husband. So then, if while her Husband liveth, she be married to another man, she <45> shall be called an adulteress: but if her Husband be dead, she is free from that Law; so that she is no adulteress though she be married to another man. Where the Law is compared to an Husband; and one that is under the Law, or in a Legal state, to a Woman that hath an Husband. And as there are two waies by which a Woman may be freed from her Husband; The one, if she break loose from him whilst he yet liveth, contrary to the Laws of Wedlock, and marry to another man; which is an undue and unlawful Freedome, for then she is justly styled an Adulteress; Another, if she stay till her Husband be dead, and then, being free from the Law of her Husband, does lawfully marry to another man: In like manner there are two waies by which men may be freed from the Law, as it is an inward state of Bondage and Servility. The first is, when men do illegally and unlawfully break loose from the Law which is their Husband whilst he is yet alive and ought to have Dominion over them, and marry themselves to another Husband; which Husband's name is Carnal Liberty or Licentiousness, too often miscalled in these latter Times by the name of Christian Liberty: and such as these may well be styled in the Scripture-language Adulterers <46> and Adulteresses. But there is another Freedome from the Law, which is a due and just Freedome, when we do not make our selves free before the time, violently breaking loose from it; but when we stay till the Law, which is our Husband, is dead, and the Compulsory power of it taken away by the Mortification of our Lusts and Affections, and so marry another Husband, which is Christ or the Spirit of Righteousness, Rom. 8. 2. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the Law of Sin and Death.

Wherefore there are Three general states of Men, in order to God and Religion, that may be here taken notice of. The First is of those that are alive to Sin and dead to the Law. This the Apostle speaks of Rom. 7. 9. I was alive without the Law once. These are those whose Consciences are not yet considerably awakened to any Sense of their Duty, nor to the Discrimination of Good and Evil; but sin freely without any check or controll, without any disquieting Remorse of Conscience.

The Second is, when men are at once alive both to the Law and Sin, to the Conviction of the one, and the Power and Love of the other; both these strugling together within <47> the Bowels of the Soul, checking and controlling one another. This is a broken, confounded and shatter'd state; and these in the Apostles language are said to be Slain by the Law. I was alive without the Law once; but when the Commandment came, Sin revived, and I died: And the Commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For Sin taking occasion by the Commandment, deceived me, and by it Slew me. Here is no Peace, Rest nor Comfort to be had in this state, mens Souls being distracted and divided by an intestine and civil Warr, between the Law of the Minde and the Law of the Members conflicting with one another.

Wherefore the Third state is, when men are dead both to the Law and Sin, and alive unto God and Righteousness; the Law of the Spirit of Life freeing them from the Law of Sin and Death. In the First of these Three states, which is the most wretched and deplorable of all, we are Sin's Free-men, that is, free to commit Sin without check or controll. In the Second we are Bondmen to God and Righteousness, and serve God out of a Principle of Fear and according to an outward Rule onely; Children of Hagar the Bond-maid and of the Letter. In the Third we are God's Free-men and Sons, and serve <48> him in the Newness of the Spirit, out of a Love to God and Righteousness, Children of the New Testament and of Sarah the Freewoman.

Wherefore here are Two Mistakes or Errors to be taken notice of, that defeat and disappoint the Design of Christ in giving us Victory over the Law. The first is of those that we have already mentioned, that seek to themselves a Freedome from the Bondage of the Law otherwise then by Christ and the Spirit of Righteousness, namely, in a way of Carnal Liberty and Licentiousness, whereby, instead of being Bond-men to God and Righteousness, they become perfect Free-men to Sin and Wickedness, which is the most deplorable Thraldome in the World. Wherefore these men instead of going forward from the Second state unto higher Perfection, wheel back again unto the First; just as if the Children of Israel, after they had been brought out of Egypt and travelled awhile in the Desert of Arabia, where the Law was given, instead of entring into Canaan should have wheeled back into Egypt, and then enjoying the Garlick and Onions and Flesh-pots thereof, should persuade themselves that this was indeed the true Land of <49> Promise that floweth with Milk and Honey. And there is very great danger, lest when men have been tired out by wandring a long time in the dry and barren Wilderness of the Law, where they cannot enjoy the Pleasure of Sin as formerly, and yet have not arrived to the relish and love of Righteousness, by reason of their Impatience they should at last make more haste then good speed, being seduced by some false shews of Freedome that are very tempting to such weary Travellers, and promise much comfort and refreshment to them, inviting them to sit down under their shadow: Such as are a Self-chosen Holiness, Ceremonial Righteousness, Opinionative Zeal, The Tree of Knowledge mistaken for the Tree of Life, High-flown Enthusiasm and Seraphicism, Epicurizing Philosophy, Antinomian Liberty, under the pretence of Free Grace and a Gospel-Spirit.

The Second Mistake that is here to be heeded is of those that would by all means persuade themselves that there is no higher State of Christian Perfection to be aimed at or hoped for in this Life then this Legal State; That the Good they would doe, they doe not; the Evil they would not doe, that they doe; That the Law of Sin in their Members still leads them Captive from <50> the Law of their Minds: having no other Ground at all for this but a novel Interpretation of one Paragraph in the Epistle to the Romans, contrary to other express Places of Scripture and the Sense of all ancient Interpreters: and yet with so much zeal, as if it were a principal part of the Gospel-Faith to believe this, (which is indeed arrant Infidelity) and as if it were no less then Presumption or Impiety to expect a Living Law written upon our Hearts. But this is nothing else but, instead of seeking Liberty out of the Bondage of the Law, to fall in love with our Bonds and Fetters, and plainly to deny the Victory over the Law by Christ, and to affirm that the Gospel is but the Ministration of a dead and killing Letter, not of the Spirit that quickneth and maketh alive.

I Come now in the Third and last place to the Victory over Death, expressed by the Resurrection of the Body to Life and Immortality; which as it was meritoriously procured for us by Christ's dying upon the Cross, (his Resurrection afterward being an assured pledge of the same to us) so it will be really effected <51> at last by the same Spirit of Christ that gives us Victory over Sin here. Rom. 8. 11. If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal Bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. As if he should have said, If the Spirit of Christ dwell in you, regenerating and renewing your Souls, the very same Spirit hereafter shall also immortalize your very Bodies. Avicen the Mahumetan Philosopher, in his Almahad, hath a conceit, That the meaning of the Resurrection of the Body is nothing else but this, to persuade Vulgar people, that though they seem to perish when they die and their Bodies rot in the Grave, yet notwithstanding they shall have a real Subsistence after Death, by which they shall be made capable either of future Happiness or Misery: But because the apprehensions of the Vulgar are so gross, that the Permanency or Immortality of the Soul is too subtile a Notion for them who commonly count their Bodies for Themselves, and cannot conceive how they should have any Being after Death, unless their very Bodies should be raised up again; therefore by way of Condescension to vulgar Understandings the future Permanency and Subsistence of the Soul <52> in Prophetical Writings is expressed under this Scheme of the Resurrection of the Body, which yet is meant κατὰ δὸξαν onely and not κάι ἀλήθειαν. Which conceit how well soever it may befit a Mahumetan Philosopher, I am sure it no way agrees with the Principles of Christianity. The Scripture here and elsewhere assuring us that the Resurrection of the Body is to be understood plainly and without a Figure; and that the Saints departed this life in the Faith and Fear of Christ, shall not be mere Souls without Bodies to all Eternity, as Avicen, Maimonides and other Philosophers dreamed, but consist of Soul and Body united together. Which Bodies though (as the Doctrine of the Church instructeth us) they shall be both Specifically and Numerically the same with what they were here, yet notwithstanding the Scripture tells us they shall be so changed and altered in respect of their Qualities and Conditions, that in that sense they shall not be the same. V. 36, 37. Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickned except it die: Thou sowest not that Body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of Wheat or of some other grain; but God giveth it a Body as it pleaseth him, and to every seed his own Body. The Apostle here imitating the manner of the <53> Jews, who (as appeareth from the[16] Talmud) were wont familiarly to illustrate the business of the Resurrection of the Body by the Similitude of Seed sown into the Ground and springing up again. Accordingly he goes on, It is sown in Corruption, it is raised in Incorruption; sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a Natural Body, raised a Spiritual Body. Which Epithet was used also in this case both by the Philosophers and the Jews: for Hierocles upon the Golden Verses calls them ὀχηματα πνευματικὰ Vehicula Spiritualia, Spiritual Bodies; and R. Menachem from the ancient Cabbalists התלבשות רוחנית The Spiritual Clothing. Lastly, the Apostle concludes thus; Now this I say, Brethren, that Flesh and Bloud cannot inherit the Kingdome of God, neither doth Corruption inherit Incorruption. For which cause he tells us elsewhere, that they which do not die must of necessity be changed. And indeed if men should be restored after death to such gross, foul and cadaverous Bodies as these are here upon Earth, which is the very Region of Death and Mortality, without any change at all; what would this be else but, as Plotinus the Philosopher against the Gnosticks writes, ἐγείρεαζ εἰς ἄλλον ὓπλον to be raised up to a Second Sleep, or to be <54> entombed again in living Sepulchres? For the corruptible Body presseth down the Soul, and the earthly Tabernacle weigheth down the Mind that m{us}eth upon many things, Wisedome 9. 15. Wherefore we must needs explode that old Jewish conceit commonly entertained amongst the Rabbinical Writers to this day, That the future Resurrection is to be understood of such Gross and Corruptible Bodies as these are here upon Earth, to eat, drink, marry, and be given in marriage, and (which must needs follow) afterward to die again. Nachmanides, in his Shaar Haggemul, is the onely Jewish Author that ventures to depart from the common rode here, and to abandon this Popular Error of the Jews, endeavouring to prove that the Bodies of the Just after the Resurrection shall not eat and drink, but be Glorified Bodies: but[17] Abravanel confutes him with no other Argument then this, That this was the Doctrine and Opinion of the Christians.

Let us therefore now consider how abundantly God hath provided for us by Jesus <55> Christ, both in respect of our Souls and of our Bodies: Our Souls, in freeing us by the Spirit of Christ (if we be not wanting to our selves) from the Slavery of Sin and the Bondage of the Law, as it is a Letter onely: Our Bodies, in that this Corruptible shall put on Incorruption, and this Mortal Immortality, and that these Vile Bodies shall be made like to Christ's glorious Body. In both which the compleat Salvation of Man consisteth, the Perfection and Happiness both of Soul and Body. For though our Salvation consist chiefly in the former, in the Victory over Sin, and in the Renovation of the Mind; yet without the latter, which is the Victory over Death, and the immortalizing of our Bodies, it would be a very lame and imperfect thing. For Righteousness alone if it should malè habitare, dwell alwaies in such inconvenient houses as these earthly Tabernacles are, however the high-flown Stoick may bragg, it could not render our condition otherwise then troublesome, sollicitous and calamitous. Wherefore the Holy men in Scripture not without cause longed for this future Change. Rom. 8. 23. We grone within our selves, waiting for the Adoption, to wit, the Redemption of our Bodies. 2 Cor. 5. 2. In this we grone earnestly, desiring to be <56> clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven. But there is no obtaining of this future Victory over Death and Mortality, except we first get a Victory over Sin here. For this is that Crown of Life that Christ, the First-begotten from the dead, will set upon the Heads of none but those that have here fought a good Fight and overcome. For as Death proceeds onely from Sin and Disobedience, so the way to conquer Death and to arrive at Life and Immortality is by seeking after an inward Conquest over Sin. For Righteousness is immortal, Wisd. 1. 15. and will immortalize the entertainers of it, and, as the Chaldee Oracle speaks, Ἐκτείνας πυριὸν νομῖ, Ἔργον ἐπ' Εὐσεβίας ῥευστὸν καὶ σῶμα σαώσεις.

HAving hitherto shewed what are the great things we hope for by Christ and are to endeavour after, namely, to procure an Inward and Real Victory over Sin by the Spirit of Christ, that so we may hereafter attain a Victory over Death and Mortality; We cannot but take notice, briefly, of some Errors of those, that either pretending the Impossibility of this Inward Victory over Sin, or else hypocritically <57> declining the Combate, make up a certain Religion to themselves out of other things, which are either Impertinent and nothing to the purpose, or else Evil and noxious.

For first, Some (as was intimated before) make to themselves a mere phantastical and imaginary Religion, conceiting that there is nothing at all for them to doe, but confidently to believe that all is already done for them, all imputed and accounted to them; that they are dearly beloved of God without any Conditions or Qualifications to make them lovely. But such a Faith as this is nothing else but mere Phancy and carnal Imagination, proceeding from that natural Self-love whereby men fondly dote upon themselves, and are apt to think that God loves them as fondly and as partially as they love themselves, tying his affection to their particular outward Persons, their very Flesh and Bloud; hereby making God a Being like to themselves, that is wholly acted by arbitrary Self-will, Fondness and Partiality; and perverting the whole Nature and Design of Religion, which is not mere Phantastry and an histrionical Shew, but a real Victory over the real Evil of Sin, without which God can neither take pleasure <58> in any mans Person, nor can there be a possibility of being happy, a real turning of the Soul from Darkness unto Light, from the Power of Satan unto God.

Again, Some there are that instead of Walking in the Narrow way that Christ commendeth to us, of subduing and mortifying our sinful Lusts, make to themselves certain other Narrow waies of affected Singularity in things that belong not to Life and Godliness, outward Strictnesses and Severities of their own chusing and devising; and then persuade themselves that this is the Streight gate and Narrow way of Christ that leadeth unto Life. Whereas these are indeed nothing else but some particular Paths and narrow Slices cut out of the Broad way. For though they have an outward and seeming narrowness, yet they are so broad within that Camels with their Burthens may easily pass through them. These, instead of taking up Christ's Cross upon them, make to themselves certain Crosses of their own, and then laying them upon their Shoulders and carrying them, please themselves with a conceit that they bear the Cross of Christ; whereas in truth and reality they are many times too much strangers to that Cross of his by which <59> the World should be crucified to them and they unto the World.

Some place all their Religion in endless Scrupulosities about Indifferent things, neglecting in the mean time the τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου, the more weighty things both of Law and Gospel, and (as our Saviour farther expresseth it) διϋλίζοντες τα κὼνωπα, τῶν δὲ κάμηλον καταπίνοντες, straining at a Gnat, and swallowing a Camel, that is, being not so scrupulous as they ought to be about the Substantials of Religion and a Good life. For as we ought not to place the chief of our Religion in the mere Observation of outward Rites and Ceremonies, whilest in the mean time we hypocritically neglect the Morals and Substantials; which may deservedly be branded with the name of Superstition: So we ought to know that it is equal Superstition to have such an abhorrence of Indifferent things, as to make it the main of our Religion to abstain from them: Both of these arguing equal Ignorance of the Nature of God, as if he were some morose, humorous and captious Being; and of that Righteousness which the Kingdome of God consisteth in, as if these Outward and Indifferent things could either hallow or defile our Souls, or as <60> if Salvation and Damnation did depend upon the mere using or not using of them. The Apostle himself instructeth us that the Kingdome of God consisteth no more in ἀκροβυστία then in περιτομὴ, no more in Uncircumcision then in Circumcision, that is, no more in not using outward Ceremonies and Indifferent things then in using of them. Wherefore the Negative Superstition is equal to the Positive, and both of them alike call off mens attention from the main things of Religion, by engaging them overmuch in Small and Little things. But the sober Christian, that neither places all his Religion in external observances, nor yet is superstitiously Anti-ceremonial, as he will think himself obliged to have a due regard to the Commands of lawful Authority in Adiaphorous things, and to preferre the Peace and Unity of the Christian Church, and the observation of the Royal Law of Charity, before the Satisfaction of any Private Humour or Interest; so he will be aware of that ἀμετρία τῆς ἀνθολκῆς which many run into, of banishing away all the Solemnity of external Worship, the Observation of the Lord's Day and of the Christian Sacraments, under the Notion of Ceremonies, quite out of <61> the World. To conclude, Unless there be a due and timely regard had to the Commands of lawful Authority in Indifferent things, and to Order, Peace and Unity in the Church, it may easily be foreseen that the Reformed part of Christendome will at length be brought first to Confusion, by crumbling into infinite Sects and Divisions, and then to utter Ruine.

Again, Many mistake the Vices of their Natural complexion for Supernatural and Divine Graces. Some think dull and stupid Melancholy to be Christian Mortification. Others, that turbulent and fiery Zeal is the vigour of the Spirit. Whereas Zeal is one of those things that Aristotle calls τὰ μέτα of a middle Nature, neither Good nor Bad in it self, but which, as it is circumstantiated, may indifferently become either Vertue or Vice. For there is a πικρὸς ζῆλος, as the Apostle calls it, a bitter Zeal, which is contrary to all Christian Love and Charity, and is nothing else but the Vices of Acerbity, Envy, Malice, Cruelty, tinctur'd and gilded over with a Religious shew. And there may be also a Turbulent and Factious Zeal, when men under a pretence of acting for the Glory of God, violate just and lawful Authority, in order to the advancement of their own pri <62> vate Self-interest. Indeed there was amongst the Jews a certain Right called Jus Zelotarum, or the Right of Zelots, whereby private persons acted by a Zeal for God might doe immediate execution upon some Malefactors, without expecting the Sentence of any Court of Judicature. And some conceive that our Saviour by this Right of Zelots did whip the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple, and overturn the Tables of Money-changers; because he was never questioned by the Jews for it. But this was then a Legal and Regular thing, permitted by the publick Laws of that Nation in some certain Cases, yet so as that those Zelots were afterward accountable to the Sanhedrin for what they did. However, a little before the destruction of the Temple, as Josephus tells us, there were a Crew of desperate Miscreants that abusing this Right, and calling themselves by the name of Kannain, i. e. Zelots, made a pretence from hence to commit most villainous actions. And I wish some had not too much entertain'd this opinion, that Private persons might reform Publick Abuses, whether belonging to the Ecclesiastical or the Civil Polity, without and against the consent of the Supreme Magistrate, in a Turbulent man <63> ner, Jure Zelotarum, by the Right of Zelots; nay and that Actions that are otherwise altogether unwarrantable in themselves, may notwithstanding be justified by Zeal for God and good Ends. But God needs no mans Zeal to promote an Imaginary Interest of his in the World by doing unjust things for him. Will you speak wickedly for God, or talk deceitfully for him? will you accept his Person? 'Twas the generous Expostulation of Job with his Friends; and he tells them in the following words, that this was nothing else but to mock God as one man mocketh another.

True Divine Zeal is no Corybantick Fury, but a calm and regular Heat, guided and managed by Light and Prudence, and carried out principally neither for nor against Indifferent Rites and unnecessary Opinions, but those things that are immutably Good and Fundamental to Christianity; alwaies acknowledging a due Subordination to that Authority Civil and Ecclesiastical that is over us.

Lastly, Some there are whose pretence to Religion and the Spirit is founded in nothing else but a Faculty of Rhetoricating and extemporizing with Zeal and Fervency, which they take to be nothing less then Divine Inspi <64> ration, and that which the Scripture calls Praying in the Holy Ghost, an undoubted Character of a person truly Regenerated. Which being a great delusion whereby many are hindred from seeking after the real effects of the Divine Spirit, by idolizing instead thereof that which is merely Natural, (if not Artificial;) I think it not impertinent, here to speak a little of it. And certainly that which is frequently attained to in the very height by persons grosly hypocritical and debauched, can never be concluded to be Divine Inspiration, or to proceed from any higher Principle then mere Natural Enthusiasm. For there is not onely a Poetical Enthusiasm, of which Plato discourseth in his Ion, but, though Oratory be a more sober thing, a Rhetorical Enthusiasm also, that makes men very eloquent, affectionate and bewitching in their language, beyond what the power of any bare Art and Precepts could inable them unto: insomuch that both these, Poets and Orators, have oftentimes conceited themselves to be indeed divinely inspired; as those known Verses testify, Est Deus in nobis, agitante calescimus illo; and, Sedibus æthereis Spiritus ille venit. <65> And concerning Orators the like might be proved, if the time would here permit, by sundry Testimonies: But I shall here instance onely in Aristides, a famous Orator, who not onely speaks positively of himself as inspired in his Orations, but affirms the same also concerning Rhetorick in general, when it is extraordinary, that it comes by immediate Inspiration as Oracles and Prophecies doe, and not from Art or Nature. Wherefore it is not at all to be wondred at, if when men are employed in Religious and Devotional Exercises, the same Natural Enthusiasm, especially having the advantage of Religious Melancholy, which makes men still more Enthusiastical, should so wing and inspire the Phancies of these Religious Orators, as to make them wonderfully fluent, eloquent and rapturous, so that they beget strange Passions in their Auditors, and conclude themselves to be Divinely inspired. Whereas notwithstanding they may have no more of Divine Inspiration in all this, then those Poets and Orators before mentioned had, that is to say, be no otherwise inspired then by a Rhetorical Hypochondriacal Enthusiasm, that is merely Natural. But it is farre from my Intention here to disparage the sincere and ardent Affections of devout Souls, <66> naturally and freely breathing out their earnest Desires unto God in private, although perhaps this be not without some kind of Enthusiasm also. For Enthusiasm, as well as Zeal, and other Natural things, may be well used, and, being rightly circumstantiated and subservient to a better principle, become irreprehensible. Some have observed, that no great work of the Brain, that begot much admiration in the World, was ever atchieved without some kind of Enthusiasm; and the same may be affirmed of the most transcendently Vertuous and Heroical Actions. But then the Goodness of these Actions is never to be estimated merely by the Degree of Enthusiastick Heat and Ardor that is in them, but by such other Laws and Circumstances as Moralize humane Actions. Wherefore my meaning, as I said before, is onely this, To caution against that Vulgar and Popular Error of mistaking the Natural and Enthusiastick Fervour of mens spirits, and the Ebulliency of their Phancy, when it is tinctur'd with Religion, and idolizing of it instead of the supernatural Grace of God's Holy Spirit; and of looking for the Effect of Religion and Demonstration of God's Spirit principally in Words and Talk, or <67> thinking that God is chiefly glorified with a loud Noise and long Speeches. For the true Demonstration of God's Holy Spirit is no-where to be look'd for but in Life and Action, or such earnest and affectionate breathings after a farther participation of the Divine Image, as are accompanied with real and unfeigned endeavours after the same; which is the true Praying in the Holy Ghost, though there be no extemporaneous effusion of words. And therefore when some Corinthians were puffed up by reason of a Faculty which they had of Rhetoricating Religiously, S.[18] Paul like an Apostle tells them, that he would come amongst them, and know, not the Speech of them that were puffed up, but the Power. For the Kingdome of God (saith he) consisteth not in Word, but in Power and Life. Wherefore laying aside these and such like childish mistakes and things that are little to the purpose, let us seriously apply our selves to the main Work of our Religion, that is, to mortify and vanquish our Sinful Lusts by the Assistence of God's Holy Spirit, through Faith in Christ; that so being Dead to Sin here we may live with God eternally hereafter.

The End.

[1] Verse 17.

[2] Rom. 4.

[3] In Iggereth Teman.

[4] Psal. 106.

[5] Luke 24.

[6] 1 Cor. 15. 27.

[7] Verse 24.

[8] Verse 28.

[9] 2 Cor. 3.

[10] Revel. 3. 19.

[11] 1 Pet. 4. 1.

[12] Prov. 17. 15.

[13] Phil. 3. 12.

[14] 1 Joh. 3. 9.

[15] Ezek. 20. 25.

[16] See Gemara in Chetuboth, cap. 13. Ein Israel, num. 50.

[17] In Nachalath Avoth, cap. 4. דעת הנוצרים הוא וגוי  This is the very same with the opinion of the Christians, that hold that after the Resurrection men shall not eat, drink, marry or be given in marriage, or die again, but continue eternally in those Bodies resembling the Heavenly Bodies; and these they vulgarly call Glorified Bodies.

[18] 1 Cor. 4. 19.

Cite as: Ralph Cudworth, A Sermon preached to the Honourable Society of Lincolnes-Inne (1664), http://www.cambridge-platonism.divinity.cam.ac.uk/view/texts/diplomatic/Cudworth1664, accessed 2019-12-10.