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Discourse XIV.

The Venerable Nature, and Transcendant Benefit of Christian Religion.

Rom. I. 16.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the Power of God to Salvation to every one that believeth.

[1]Having been lately upon a very signal and remarkable Argument; I thought is was best to pursue it: Having laid a Foundation, to build upon it.

I have many times endeavoured to declare against the Atheistical and Profane World: And I have laid down Arguments of Evidence, and Grounds of Assurance, beyond what any one can pretend in any other Mystery in the World. I have insisted upon these five Heads of Arguments that give Assurance concerning the great Truths of Religion, Natural and Revealed.


1. The Acknowledgment that these Truths have met with in all Ages of the World.

2. The Representation that these great Truths make of God to us, agreeable to what a Man is made of God, to know or think concerning God. The Proposals made by God unto Man, the Prohibitions upon him, and the Promises to him, all testifie of God, and declare worthily concerning God: Insomuch that when a Man is awake, it is the sense of his Soul; he will say, I know all these to be true.

3. The Ingenious Effect and Operation of these great Truths (Natural, and Revealed) upon the Minds and Spirits of Men, and the Influence they have upon their Lives and Conversation.

4. The suitableness of Natural Truth to the State God made Man to; as also the suitableness of Revealed Truth to Man in his lapsed State and Condition, in order to his Restitution and Recovery.

5. The Agency and Assistance of the Divine Spirit to promote these great Truths. All the Divine Truths, either Natural or Revealed in Scripture, have all these Evidences. Now if these great things in Religion, the main Truths of God, are of such certainty, then may we say with the Apostle, I will never be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, &c.

So have I brought you into these Words, as a just Inference from what I had before delivered.

These Words are First considerable according to their Form.

Secondly, valuable according to their Matter.

First, According to their Form, they run in the Negative:[2] I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.

1. Here is less spoken, and more understood: and this is frequent in Scripture. It becomes us there <206> fore not to Overtalk our selves; for you see that Scripture, in things of great Moment, is content to speak modestly. I am not ashamed, &c. so Heb. 10. 38. If any Man draw back, my Soul shall have no Pleasure in him. Is that the worst? No surely, God will Loath him, and Abominate him; so here is less spoken, and more understood. Which we call Meiosis.

[3]2. Take this account: Negatives do denounce more strongly; for Negatives do exclude all mixture of the contrary. This is a Rule, an Affirmative is satisfied in one single positive Act; but a Negative doth always Oblige. Negatives are more effectual. But

3. I am not ashamed, &c. Here is an intimation of Matter of shame within the compass of the Business: And that is intimated. For though the matter of the Gospel is matter of great Goodness, yet there is matter of Shame; because it comes in by the Fall, which was the occasion of Man’s Apostacy, was a shameful thing to Gospel-Revelation. The Case of Gospel-Revelation doth suppose Man’s Degeneracy and Apostacy: For the Gospel comes in for Recovery, for Pardon of Sin, and Reconciliation to God: So that the Gospel is matter of Relief; yet it puts us in Mind of Apostacy, which is matter of shame. When we read the Gospel, we have reason to say,[4] we Remember our fault: So here is the Language of one whose iniquity is forgiven, and whose Sin is covered: I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Cause of shame in the case, tho’ cause of Glory and Triumph in the Grace of God.

Secondly, Consider the Words according to their Matter. So we observe three Things.

1. The Person speaking, and in what Capacity.

2. What it is he saith; the Matter wherein he Gloried:


3. Upon what account he doth so express himself.

The Person speaking was the Apostle: The matter he doth declare, is matter of Consolation; and the Assurance he hath of true cause of Glorifying therein, because this Gospel is the Power of God.

The Person. I am not ashamed, &c. that is, as a Priviledged Person: Or as a Believer.

1. We will consider him in his peculiar Capacity, his proper Office and Employment. To him was committed the Dispensation of the Gospel, 1 Cor. 9. 17. So, he was not ashamed, &c. And indeed he had no Cause; for it is the Noblest Employment in the World, to be made use of by God in declaring Gospel Matters; to be the Conveyor of the Resolution of the Divine Will to Men, concerning their Recovery. I come upon God’s Errand, and carry a Message from God: And indeed this is the Honour that God hath bestowed upon the Sons of Men, Heb. 2. 4, 5. For unto the Angels hath he not put in subjection the World to come, whereof we speak. What is the World to come there? It is the Gospel-State. God doth not transact instrumentally the Affairs of his Church, by the Ministry of Angels; but by Men, such as our selves are, doth he bring to Knowledge the Mysteries of God, 2 Cor. 4. 7. To Men hath he given Gifts of the Holy Ghost, and Testimonies by Signs and Miracles: And so St. Paul had no cause to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.

But 2. In the common Capacity of a Believer. For it follows after: It is the Power of God to Salvation, to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. That takes in all. So observe, the Subject recipient of the Grace of God, is all Mankind; but then the Qualification is, a Believer. I mean a Believer in Scripture Sense: which I shall reserve to tell you till I come to speak <208> to the Power of God to the Salvation of Believers. So here the sick Patient meets with his Physician; the Malady with its Remedy; the Wounded with its Cure; the Guilty with his Pardon: All which tends to Hearts-ease, composure and satisfaction of Mind. For what is wanting that is not come to Hand? So consider him in his proper Function; or take him in the common Capacity of a Believer; the Gospel, to every one that receives it, is matter of Glory, Triumph, Hearts-ease, and Satisfaction.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the Power of God to Salvation, &c. The Power of God.] You must not understand Power as limited to One Perfection: For there are Three eminent Perfections in the Divine Nature: Power, Wisdom, and Goodness. So that you must not understand Power here strictly, to exclude other Divine Perfections. For other where he saith, Christ the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God, 1. Cor. 1. 24. But it is said to be Power, to intimate eminently the Sufficiency of Grace. It is called Power, to denote the Efficiency of God’s Grace in Salvation. Now to advance this Grace, and raise our Apprehensions of it, I proceed in this Method.

I. To declare the Excellency of it from the Author.

II. We will consider what it is in it self.

III. How far forth it is Beneficial to us.

I. The Author; that is God. And God discovers in it the Greatness of is Power; the Infiniteness of his Wisdom; and it is the Fruit and Effect of abundant Goodness.


1. The Greatness of his Power. Great are the Works of Creation and Providence: Yet if it be lawful to compare, or put in competition, the Work of Restoring a peccant and Delinquent Creature, hath the advantage of the Work of Creation and Providence: For a Privation is always further off from a Principle of Life, than a meer Negation: [5]For a Privation is a Malignant Negation. Now where there was a Perfection before, and lost, that is a Privation. There is bringing a Non-entity to an Entity, as in all Generation and Creation: But to Recover from a Privation, to a Position, this transcends all ordinary Power.

2. It is the Effect of his Infinite Wisdom. Though the account of Christ’s Death be to the Jews a Stumbling-block, and to the Greeks Foolishness; yet to them that are led unto Participation of it, it is the manifold Wisdom of God. Manifold: Why? Because Man’s Malady is desperate upon several accounts. Our Malady, the Evil of Sin, it is the Effect of Madness and Folly; and is that that makes us, through Faultiness, liable and obnoxious: It mars our Principles, depraves our Dispositions, and brings us into Slavery and Bondage. Now this needed manifold Wisdom in God; because it did comprehend in it several Malignities. Accordingly God hath declared, 1 Cor. 1. 30. That Christ (who is the Matter and Substance of the Gospel) is made to us Wisdom, against the Folly of Sin; Righteousness, against the Guilt of Sin; Sanctification, because of our depraved malign Disposition; and Redemption, because we have brought our selves into Bondage, as also under the Tyranny of evil Habits.

3. It is the Fruit of the abundant Goodness of God. Now that it is the Effect of God’s Goodness, nothing more clear in Reason; nothing more plainly said in Scripture. Nothing <210> more clear in Reason, considering that God is the first and chiefest Good: And then also considering the Relation God stands in to his Creatures, which is the Relation of a Father. Earthly Parents resemble it. Therefore, whatsoever of Good or Excellency you find here below, you have Reason to attribute the same in a transcendant manner to the first and chiefest Good. Therefore, that God doth afford us this Supply, it is matter of fair Belief, if we consider God as in himself, or as Related to his Creatures. And then its plain in Scripture: [6]For God sent his only begotten Son into the World, that the World through him should have Life. This is very remarkable throughout the Holy Scripture, that at several instances of time, when God was minded to bless the World or some particular Men in it; He did then make a further discovery of his Son, than what he hath done before{,} witness all the intermediate exhibitions of him, between the first Promise, [7]The Seed of the Woman breaking the Serpents Head; and the last, [8]The Son of God manifest, to undo the Works of the Devil. Whenever God had a Mind to bless the World, or to gratife any particular Person in it, he then declared himself in something concerning his Son. This is a sufficient Argument, that the Grace of the Gospel it was in Love and Good-will; and the effect of his Kindness, and the Fruit of his abundant Goodness. But further it must be attributed to the Goodness of God upon these accounts.

1. It was that which we cannot say he was at all Bound to do.

2. It was that that no Power could Constrain him to do.

3. It was that that to himself he could make no Gain: For the Righteousness of Man is no profit to God.


4. God put it upon him to Suffer and endure hard Measure to bring it about, who was nearest and dearest to him, and least of all deserved to Suffer.

5. We may conceive, as it provoked the Apostate Spirits to Envy Man; so also to Malign God, they not being so well provided for, for ought we know. Take these five considerations, and it will appear, that this Salvation is the Effect of the Love of God.

II. and III. I now proceed to the other two considerations that do recommend to us the Grace of the Gospel; to wit, the consideration of what it is in it self; and how Beneficial to us: And I put these two together.

1. It is a rare and excellent matter of Knowledge; matter of admirable Speculation.

2. It is a Vital Principle.

1. Rare and Excellent matter of Knowledge, matter of admirable Speculation, the excellentest matter of Contemplation in the World. This would take with a Philosopher: Yea this takes with all Persons whatsoever. A Plot well contrived, bravely acted, handsomely managed and carried on. Now here is the Revocation of that that was the contrivance of Hell: For the Serpent, as the Devils Instrument, did Plot to bring Man into the condemnation of the Devil. Now here is a Revocation of that proud insolent, saucy, presumptuous, Act of Man, that bold Act of Usurpation upon God: I cannot call it by Names bad enough, I mean the disloyalty and Affectation of our first Parents, entering into a Confederacy with an Apostate Creature; and that with a design upon God himself, to be like God. Now here is a Revocation of this full Submission, by the intire Self-resignation of our Lord and Saviour. The former was an act of the greatest Disloyalty that a Creature could do against the <212> Majesty of God. The latter, the Submission of our Saviour resigning up his Will; an Act of justifiing God’s Right and Authority. This is rare matter of Contemplation, to consider and compare these together: Here is matter for a Man to employ and exercise his thoughts; to consider, as [9]by one Man condemnation, so by another Man justification. This is that that will magnifie the Divine Goodness, Patience and Commiseration. This should teach us to imitate our Saviour: For that is the true way of Reconciliation, by returning to our own place of submission and intire Self-resignation, into a Creature-State.

Again, They that are Military, how are they pleased to hear of a Fight bravely managed! Why, here is the greatest Victory that ever was in the World: The Victory of our Lord and Saviour, the Head of the Church, over the Devil, Sin, and the World: Not by Arms, but by the Spirit of God.

Again, A Prince and a Saviour raised up by God and sent into the World; not to make Havock and Spoil, not to ruine and destroy, as great Warriours have done. Not as in the 2. Sam. 12. 31. To put People under Saws and Harrows of Iron, and make them pass through Brick-Kilns: A thing intolerable to behold, dreadful to read of. In this impotent incompetent World, the great Warriours are upon Record for such Matters, that I dare not undertake to justifie: And yet this is called Noble. But now see what it was that this Prince and Saviour that God hath raised up; see what he doth: [10]Not destroy Men’s lives, but save them; a [11]Prince and a Saviour, to give Repentance and Remission of Sins. [12]A Prince and a Saviour indeed, a princely Saviour: He [13]came to seek and to save that which was lost. This is a sight for Angels: this is that the [14]Angels desire to look downward by the Church, to understand; and we, <213> Sorry Creatures, who are concerned in it, we neglect it. This is the first; this is rare matter of Contemplation. But

2. It is not only admirable matter of Knowledge, but also it is a Vital Principle; not of Natural Life, but of Divine: and that upon Two Accounts.

First, As Satisfying the Reason of our Minds.

Secondly, As Being as a Biass upon our Spirits.

First, It is in the first Place, a Vital Principle; as Satisfying the Reason of our Minds, by removal of fear and doubts; so settling us at Rest and Peace, and Creating within our selves Quietness, composure and settlement: As hereby seeing and knowing that we are out of all danger and fear, notwithstanding we have given God offence. Now that this is Vital, I refer my self to that that is commonly acknowledged, [15]To live, is to be well: For a Man to be at Hearts-ease, Peace and Quietness within himself. A Man that hath been Arraigned, and condemned, he is alive till he be executed: But his Life is worse than Death. To live, is to be well. Now for a Man to be out of fear and danger from God, whom he hath offended; this is a Vital Principle: And a Man is sure, that in and through Christ, upon his Repentance, he shall be Pardoned: This is Gospel-Knowledge. And in intellectual Natures a Principle of Knowledge, as to the Understanding, is as well a Vital Principle, as an Habitual Disposition is to the Will. Now what is more satisfactory to the Reason of our Minds, or tends more to the Peace of our Consciences, than to be assured in a matter of so great Importance to us, as to see and Understand that God, to whom we are so liable and obnoxious, by Transgression and Sin, not only is in his own Nature, the most lovely, placable and reconcileable Being; but in the Grace of the Gospel, he is absolutely resolved and engaged by <214> his own Voluntary Declaration and Promise, to Pardon Sin, in and through Christ, to all who Repent and Believe the Gospel. And this, and nothing less than this, is the matter of the Gospel. This is that that is meant by the Scripture, That we are accepted in and through Christ; this is the true Explication; God in and through Christ, will Pardon Sin to all that leave off to Sin, and ask him forgiveness, and return to Duty. This is the true Explication of Justification by imputed Righteousness: And whatsoever is beyond this, is but imaginary, and will deceive any Man. That God hath declared himself, in and through Christ, for the Acceptance of Sinners: That he will accept of their honest Meaning and good Endeavours, though they are imperfect; and will not bear a strict examination in respect of Justice: He will accept us, of we honestly intend, though in act we are imperfect and fall short.

These things are greatly for our satisfaction; for I tell you a Man lives more by satisfaction of Mind than by Meat and Drink. I therefore may with great Reason call the Doctrine of the Gospel, a Vital Principle, because it gives satisfaction to the Reason of Man’s Mind. Now see how it gives satisfaction.

1. Through the Revelation of the Gospel, that God will pardon Sin, in and through Christ, to all that Repent, leave off to Sin, ask him forgiveness, and return to Duty: That he will accept our honest Meaning, and true Endeavours, though in act we be short and imperfect. In the first place we are sure of God; and to God only are we obnoxious.

2. We know his Terms, and beyond these Terms he will not Require; and further, he will not be so severe to examine; so we know the worst.


3. These Terms are fair and equal in themselves, and fit to stand: For, is it not fit that an Offender should do what is in him, to undo what he hath unduly done? and what else is required, but Repentance from dead Works; [16]and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ? Are not these fit to stand? Is it not fit that I, being a Creature, should undo that that I have unduly done.

4. They are not only fit and just, but Good for us. For it is impossible for a Man to be happy, unless Reconciled, in his Nature, Mind, and Will, to God, Goodness and Truth. I cannot be happy if under the Power of Lust: I cannot be Happy unless discharged from Naughtiness of Spirit. I cannot be happy by God in a way of Opposition to God; but by submission, and subordination, and by being in Nature, Mind, and Will Reconciled to him.

5. These Terms are made possible through the Grace of God, and the assistance of the Divine Spirit; so that we have little more to do, but to desire and pray, that they may be verified, fulfilled and accomplished in us.

Thus it is a Vital Principle, as satisfiing the Reason of our Minds: Such is the Grace of the Gospel, such the Contents thereof, that they tend wholly to the satisfiing the Mind of Man, if he will use his Reason. The Sum and Substance of the Gospel is comprehended in two things. Repentance from dead Works, and Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is not possible from any Power whatsoever, that a Man be made Happy any other ways than thus; if he hath done amiss, that he do (as far as in him lies) undo it again, and go to God in and through Christ, for Pardon and forgiveness. To believe, it is first requisite that there be an internal disposition and preparation of the subject, as well as a Divine Promise to build upon: A Man is not in Capacity of a Vital Act of Faith, if he do not Repent, and condemn himself for <216> Sin. These go together, and encourage each other: In as much as no Man Repents, who doth not believe; nor can any Man Believe who doth not Repent. ’Tis a fair matter of belief, Pardon of Sin to them who Repent: And Sin not Pardonable to Impenitents; so that our Satisfaction and Reformation go together, strengthen and enliven each other. Now if any Man tell me here of Judas his Repentance. I Answer, I am not to call Judas’s a Genuine, Ingenious, Evangelical Repentance, but it was a Male-content and Desperateness arising from horrid Guilt, and a havocked Conscience. But the Grace of the Gospel gives us this advantage; It doth encourage our Faith, and leads us to Repentance; because if we do Repent, it is a matter fairly credible, that Divine Goodness will Pardon: And then whosoever doth Believe, and cast himself upon the Goodness of God declared in Christ, undoubtedly he sees the ugly Nature, and deadly Consequences of Sin; and doth disentangle himself from it, and engage himself never to do the like. But

Secondly, The Grace of the Gospel is not only a vital Principle, as it is Satisfactory to the Reason of our Minds, but also as being a Byass upon our Spirits; an habitual Disposition and Temper, that doth encline us right toward our main and principal Object; that is God; and freely carries us out in ways of Goodness, Righteousness and Truth. God is especially known to us by Righteousness and Holiness: And if we be like God, we must be so too. And then we Harmonize with God, when we are in Reconciliation with Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth. The Matter of the Gospel, when received, is an internal Disposition and Byass upon the Mind of Man: It dyes and colours a Man’s Soul, so as to settle a Temper and Constitution; and in this way it is restorative to his Nature. <217> This is a true Rule: that which the Original of our Being hath made us able to do, by giving us Powers and Faculties; that we do easily, and with content, after we have acquired a Habit, and are Receivers of God’s Grace. Through the Assistance of that Divine Grace, we are not only able, but freely willing; and so go pleasurably on in the ways of Religion and Conscience. For God perswades us: And [17]the Law of the Spirit of Life which is in Christ Jesus, frees us from the Law of Sin and Death. The Christian Religion doth not only controul external exorbitant Acts, which are visible to By-standers; but it doth regulate the Inclinations, the inward Frame and Temper of the Mind: It doth govern the first Motions, and the Elicite Acts that are performed within a Man’s self. As Christ said to God; [18]Not my Will, but thine be done: So we, through participation of Christ, are lead into a temper of Submission and Self-denyal, in respect of God; and as to Others, a temper of Meekness, Patience, Gentleness, and a Readiness to close with all Advantages to gratifie and do good. By our Faith we have Victory over the World. What is the meaning of that? By Faith we see and apprehend things that are not visible to Humane Reason, to Men that are of Carnal Spirits: But we see things of high Importance; and we are so well resolved of them, that we make Faith the governing Principle of our Lives; we will not lose our Share and Interest in them, for things of a petty Concernment. By Faith we overcome the World. Faith makes things that are future as of present Existence: And by Faith we see these to be of ten thousand times more value than the things of this World. By Faith we overcome the World: By this Eye of Faith, Things that are great and powerful in the World, are seen through, and prove not effectual to drive a Man away from his true Concernment. <218> Hence it comes to pass, that these Men are Men of other Lives than the Men of this World, as is truly represented in the 5th Chapter of the Book of Wisdom. This was he whom we had sometimes in derision, and a Proverb of Reproach. We Fools accounted his Life Madness, and his End to be without Honour. How is he numbred among the Children of God, and his Lot is among the Saints? The Spirit of the Gospel entring, we are transformed into another Nature, Life and Temper. But this is the least I can say of the Grace of the Gospel. I have further to say; which I am sure you cannot hear, nor I speak: [19]It doth not now appear, neither can we bear the thought of what we shall be when God shall be all in all, and all Enmity shall be subdued. If you are able to bear it, think of this one thing; What we may come to at last, by a true Improvement and right Use of our Natural Powers and Faculties, and by the ordinary Assistance of God. This you may expect, that Adam, as God made him, might have arrived to, and might have come to, if he had not voluntarily transgressed. But then, farther, I propose to you what we may ascend to by being endued with Power from above; which Adam could not pretend to. But now I have told you more than I my self can comprehend; but yet this we have, 1 Cor. 15. Chap. from the 16th Verse to the end of the Chapter: Where you may see, that now, through the Grace of the Gospel, we have very many high and great Priviledges. But I am now passed to those things that are within the Confines of the State of Glory.

And so much may suffice for Account of this. The Apostle speaks very moderately, when he saith, He was not ashamed of the Gospel: He had no Reason so to be, because the Grace of the Gospel is, matter of rare and excellent Contemplation; and is also a Vital Principle.


Discourse XV.

The Venerable Nature, and Transcendant Benefit of Christian Religion.

Rom. I. 16.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the Power of God to Salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

[20]I have endeavoured to recommend to you the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, from these three Heads of Argument.

1. from its Author, God himself. It is the Effect of his infinite Wisdom and Knowledge, and the Fruit of his abundant Goodness, Benignity and Compassion.

2. From the Qualities of the Doctrine of the Gospel, in it self considered.

3. From its Usefulness to us. Of these I have spoken.

Now I proceed to the Subject recipient, the Receiver of this great Benefit; The Power of God to Salvation, to every one that believes.

Say what you will of the Grace of of the Gospel, represent it as the Effect of infinite Wisdom, and as the Fruit of abundant Goodness of God; yet if there be an uncapable Recipient, there is no Effect attained.


The Subject of this Grace of the Gospel, is every one that Believes. And indeed this is a point of the most serious consideration in all the World; for this intimates our Charge. All hitherto is done without our Thought; but now here is our Charge: If we have any care of our Souls Safety, we will not fall short of the Salvation which God hath appointed, and our Saviour hath wrought, through a failure, in putting forth an Act, which fairly we may, through Divine Direction, Conduct, and Guidance.

But to give you an Explication of this Belief. This Believing must be taken in a very comprehensive Sense. The Scripture doth suppose, that every one that doth not give himself up to the Doctrine of Christ, and the Doctrine of the Gospel, the Scripture doth suppose he doth not believe it. And the Scripture doth suppose, if any one believes the Doctrine of the Gospel, he gives himself to be guided by it, John 3. 36. [21]He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting Life. To believe, is to know and obey. It is no Scripture-Faith, that doth not carry along with it answerable Practice. Answerable to this you have it in many places called, The Obedience of Faith.[22] He doth not really believe, who doth not do accordingly. We do not by any breach of Charity, if any one lives in the breach of our Saviour’s Commands, to call him an Unbeliever: The Scripture calls believing in Christ, Receiving him, John 1. 12. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his Name. If you take him, you must take him as he is; as a King, to rule and govern you; as a Prophet, to instruct you; as a Saviour, to save you. How inconsistent is it, for any Man to think that he must go to God in and through Christ, and yet that he may live as he list? In Re <221> ligion, let not one thing rise up against another. The Reason why we should take in all collateral Acts, though the Scripture expresseth but one; is plain from that Scripture, Acts 5. 31. A Prince and a Saviour, to give Repentance and Remission of Sins. We all acknowledge that it is Faith that is immediate to Remission of Sins; and you have here a signal Place of Scripture, and Faith is omitted, and Repentance put in; and Repentance doth include Faith; for Repentance were desperate, if no Hope and without Faith. This shews, that God means they should all go together; and that Scripture intends all, though it speak but of one. In all other cases, we do according as we believe; why should it not be here also?

[23]And this for Explication of this Belief. The Subject Recipient of this Great Grace, is every one that Believeth: And for the Amplification of the Object, the Apostle descends to particulars. To the Jew first, and also to the Greek. By the Jew you all know is meant the peculiar chosen People of God: By the Greek here, you are to Understand the residue of Mankind; Jew and Greek, are as much as Jew and Gentile. So that here you may observe two things.

1. The Order of this Divine Dispensation.

2. The Extent of it: To the Jew first, and to all other People.

I will Gloss upon this in six particulars, and so pass it over.

1. I observe, that God did not first desert the Jews, but they did forsake their own Mercies. For it is said here, to the Jew first: And also the Apostle tells them, Acts 12. 46. It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing you put it from you, and judge your selves unworthy of Everlasting Life, lo we turn to the Gentiles. God is not wont lightly to begin, nor causelesly to desist. I <222> give you this caution: Never upon any occasion, attribute to God the evil of Sin, and the evil of Punishment only in the second Place: For the evil of Sin is purely our own; and the evil of Punishment, we are the cause of that too. Whatsoever Creature doth perish, [24]his destruction is of himself. It is of the Grace and Goodness of God, that he begins with any of his Creatures, and the same Goodness will carry him on, while the case remains compassionable: to the Jew first.

2. I observe that the Jew hath no cause at all to be aggrieved or Offended at the Gentiles entertaining the Faith of the Gospel, and receiveing the Christian Religion, which they refused; and that according to the tenour of the Gospel; pretending Interest in God, and laying claim to the Promises: because you see it is to the Jew first, and after to the Gentiles.

3. I observe in the third place, that while the [25]Truth of the Gospel was under a darker Manifestation, it was also under a narrower Confinement; for the Jew had it first; then the Gentile had it after.

4. It Warrants that I have to speak, and all you have to believe. To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: The Jew hath the Priority, but we are included, Gal. 3. 28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus, Rom. 2. 6th. to the 10th.[26] This is the Grace of the Gospel: No impediment to any Man’s Faith; he is not prejudiced from his Relation, State, or Country. This is our Priviledge, that live in the latter Ages of the World.

5. I observe hence the Engagement that is upon the Gentiles to God: For now the [27]Childrens Bread is allowed those that were Dogs. The Gentiles are allowed Childrens Bread: To the Jew first and also to the Gentile.


6. Observe here the Recollection of all in one: We all agree in substance, though the Jew had the Priority.

These are the Improvements that I make from these superadded Words, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.

I will make two Observations from the whole; and then a use or two.

1. The first Observation is this: There is all the Reason in the World, that we should Acknowledge God eminently, for his Grace and Godness in our Salvation, and have a just resentment of it: For the Doctrine of the Gospel is the Power of God to the Salvation of Man. What doth Salvation import? Salvation, from the first to the last, doth include several Progressions that are in the Passage from the Death of Sin and the Carnal Mind, unto the Spiritual State and Divine Life: Or there is a double Salvation, if you will distinguish, the Salvation of Grace, and the Salvation of Glory. The former is the Inchoation, the latter the Consummation. While not the former, there is an impossibility of the latter. For if here we are not Reconciled, we cannot be Happy by any Society, or Converse whatsoever, if we our selves are in an Evil Spirit. They are mightily mistaken, that distinguish this State and the Future by Place only: For the main Distinction is in State: Only they differ in Degree. If you could Imagine a Man that is Unregenerate, and in a Carnal Mind, and in love with Sin, in Heaven; place him where you will he cannot be Happy; because he is not Naturalized to his Condition. The Doctrine of the Gospel is no Invention of Humane Reason: Man did not prevent God in it, by any thought of it before hand, or any desire: Man merited it not at God’s Hands, neither hath after Recompensed it. Only the necessity of Man’s State required it, and God’s Goodness af <224> forded it. ’Tis perswasive and affecting in the strongest way of Motive and Argument, which are proper ways of acting in the Intellectual World: The excellency of Infinite Wisdom, Power and Goodness is displayed in it; and God by it, works powerfully in us, and upon us; and we find our selves strongly wrought on: And this commanding in the highest way of Reason. No better way of arguing than by strong Reason, and convincing Argument. And no such conviction, no fuller satisfaction in any undertaking, than in the Business of Regeneration, and Conversion. And upon this account it is called the Power of God to Salvation. That is the first Observation: The Acknowledgment, and Thankfulness that is due to God: And this is worthy on our Part, and it is no more than a just, equal and fair Resentment of what God hath done.

2. As the Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation; So it is superadded in the Text, To every one that believeth: Hence I observe, that wheresoever the Grace of God is afforded to any Spiritual effect, there we our selves are also to act. Wheresoever, or in what Measure soever, God doth appear by his Grace, there is something to be done in us, and by us. Let not us deceive our selves: Our actual Salvation doth suppose and depend upon some act of ours; for if there be Incrudelity in the case, the Grace of God hath such a stop, as the Sun hath by the thick Body of the Earth. Our Salvation doth suppose a disposition in us, and an act of our own: And really no Man can be converted without his own Act, without his own consent. For to believe and Repent are our Vital Acts. [28]But if any one say to me, hereby you disparage God’s Grace, and make it less: [29]I answer, not at all; this makes us not less beholden to God; for God gives us whatsoever is good. The Scripture tells us, that the Wisdom was the Wisdom of Solomon: And the Scripture saith, God put it into his <225> Heart, 1 Kings 10. 24. David gives God thanks that it was in their Hearts to offer willingly, 1. Chron. 29. 13, 14. There is an absolute necessity in the thing, that the second cause concur as a Vital Principle, where the first cause is as a pure Efficient. It doth not less make us depend upon God: Because it is he also that gives us the Power, whereby we are able. He cannot Repent in us, nor believe in us: But he gives us Ability. He may co-operate as a pure Efficient; but he cannot co-operate as a Vital Cause. Some Men are of the thought, that Man’s conversion must be brought about as St. Pauls was; and then they think they cannot but Repent and Believe. But let me tell you, there is no expecting of any such Application to Men now, because the Gospel is the Power of God to Salvation. St. Paul tells the Galatians, Gal. 3 1. That before their Eyes, Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth Crucified and slain among them. Why? Because they had had a Rational account, and explication of the true Notion, and Intention of the Death of Christ. The business of Christ’s Death was so declared, that they might Understand it twenty times better, than they which had ocular inspection. They to whom God doth apply in a Rational way, Illuminating their Understanding, shewing them the Reason of things; these are more effectually and powerfully wrought upon, than those to whom things are represented only by their senses: For I am a thousand times more confident of my Reason than of any Sense. We have a full explication of the Reason of our Saviour’s coming, and a true Notion of his Death; and this is much more than the appearance that was made to Saul, as he was Travelling. Have therefore no such expectation, that <226> Conversion is to be brought about in such a way; for this way that we have now, is more Powerful. If we be not convinced in this great matter that the Gospel doth declare; we should not be affected it Christ did appear to us, as he did to St. Paul; For this is transcendant, as being satisfaction to our Reasons and Understandings. And these are my two Observations; that there is due to God thankful Acknowledgment; and that it becomes us to have deep Resentment of it. We having disabled our Faculties, God hath employed his own Wisdom and Goodness to find out a way; and he hath declared the Doctrine of the Gospel, the Power of God to Salvation: And this proves short and ineffectual, unless it meets with Faith in us; you are to understand God doth not do all without you; the Gospel is the Power of God to Salvation, but it is to them that believe.

And thus have I run over the Doctrinal Part {illeg} also have made explication of the several Terms and suggested to you the several Emphasis’s that are in the Words: The Applicatory part remains; to which I now betake my self.

It hath been made appear to you, that the DOctrine of the Gospel, as to its own Efficiency, and also God’s Intention, is effectual to bring Men to Salvation.

1. Then are we to Acquaint our selves thoroughly with the Tenour of the Gospel; and consider well the circumstances which make up our case: Particularly these three; our contracted Impotency by our Fall: The necessity of Recovery and Restauration, or else Ruin to Eternity: The Efficacy and Freeness of the Grace of God to conversion: So we may resolve our Minds, tho’ our case be very forlorn, yet nothing is desperate, nothing is impossible: But our Recovery, through the Grace of God, is fair and easie. And thus being prepared by such knowledge,


II. In the second place, pursue the Intent of the Gospel, in your own Spirit, and in Conjunction with your selves, and others also, by free Communication in converse. The only way to do a Man’s self good Effectually, in Intellectuals, and Spirituals; is to do good to others in converse, and carry others on with us. It is here, as with the Widow’s Oil, the more you spend, the more you have: You encrease by Expence. [30]Be ready to render a Reason of the Hope that is in you. This is the highest purpose of all our meeting together, to give every Man Satisfaction: And it is the great courtesie we can do to one another, freely to tell what cause we have to believe such or such a thing: And certainly we do our selves the greatest Good, when we do good to others. To promote this Motion: There is nothing is more Unnatural, or of greater Deformity in the whole World, than that an Intelligent Agent should have the Reason of Things in his Mind, and that it should not give Law and Rule in Temper, Life, and Action: The first thing in Religion is this, to Teach a Man’s own Mind, to look to the Grounds and Assurances a Man hath for his perswasion: And then it is wonderful strange and monstrous, if it should not have such Influence upon a Man, as to establish a Frame and Temper, and be a Law and Rule to Life and Practice. [31]The Reason of the thing is as much our Rule as sense is to sensitives, or the Nature of the things to inanimates. Now you would think it horrid and prodigious, for these things not to follow the guidance of their Natures: But it is much more horrid in Rationals, not to comply with the Principles of Reason and Understanding; because we were made more sufficient for our Connatural Acts, than either Sensitives or Inanimates. Now the Intention of the Gospel being to us the greatest good; and it being connatural to us to run out upon Inquiry, <228> who will shew us any good?[32] It is great matter of wonder, that it should take so little Effect. It must be either Unbelief or gross Self-neglect, careless Inadvertency, that makes Men continue in a State of Evil and Sin, since the intent of the Gospel is so much for our advantage. I pray consider. 1st. The great Encouragements that God hath given to Sinners to return; the many Promises that he hath made to receive them, Enable and Reward them; and that Pathetical Invitation of our Lord and Saviour, and how he did Mourn over Jerusalem. 2dly. The Discovery that hath been made by Natural Light, or Revealed in Scripture, of a future Existence: First by Natural Light; then by the Gospel our Saviour hath brought Life and Immortality to Light.[33] Then, 3dly. No such Motives and Arguments for any things in the whole World as there are for leaving off Sin, and Reconciliation to Righteousness. And, Lastly. The great Assistances of the Divine Spirit. Consider these, and see if we are not greatly to be blamed for Neglecting our own Souls.

Again, Consider there is so much of Reason for it on Man’s Part, that it is not only Just and Fit in it self, but good for us, that we should Repent from all dead Works, and believe in the Lord Jesus. First, Just, and Fit: For is it reasonable, for any one by an after Act, to defend an Act of Insolence against his Soveraign? And if a Man do commit a Sin, if he do not revoke it by Repentance, he virtually lives in it. Secondly, It is Good for us: For without it there is Self condemnation, and Incapacity of Happiness. For a Man under guilt of Sin, is either Scared, or else Tormented. Self-condemnation I take to be the Life of Hell, the worst Ingredient in Hell: And a Man must be Self-condemned if once he contract Guilt, unless he revoke it again by Repentance. For he that doth Repent, is of this Mind, that he <229> would not do the thing it if were to do again. And then there is an incapacity of Happiness without Repentance: For put a Man into a Holy place he cannot be happy; unless restored to Innocence by Repentance, and Renewed in Part. And Lastly, it is under the Grace of God possible, and not only possible, but of Easy and fair performance; and in this way, the Mind of Man hath assurance and satisfaction: For thus it is a compassionable Case; the case of a Sinner that Repents of and revokes what he hath done amiss, is compassionable; because he was never but Finite and Fallible. And if the case of a Sinner be compassionable, we need not fear but the first and chiefest Goodness will Commiserate, and save to the uttermost, to the extent of the disposition in the Subject. On the other side, we cannot conceive how contumacious Impenitent Sinners can be Pardoned; since it is in it self good and worthy of God, either considered absolutely as in himself, as the first and chiefest Good; or relatively, as Governour of the World; to controul, and challenge wilful and pertinacious Transgressors. Such is the Christian Religion, in respect of its Nature and quality; in respect of all the Principles of it; all the Performances that it puts Men upon; so Sovereign to our Natures; so satisfactory to the Reason of our Minds, and quiet of our Judgments and Consciences; so for Recovery and Restauration, that no Man that is intelligent, and doth seriously consider, would choose to have this Obligation to Religion either released, or cancelled, or discharged. To conclude. How unaccountable then, and inexcuseable are they that [34]have turned the Doctrine of the Grace of God into Lasciviousness, and [35]have made void the Law through Faith, have given such an Explication of the Grace of the Gospel, as to set Men at liberty as to Morals, that is, to make void the Law through Faith. There <230> is a great mistake among us. Some think that the Hellish State is the sole Product of God’s Power; and do think that God useth his Creatures as he will. No, certainly the ways of God are the most accountable of any Transactions in the World, to Reason and Rules of Righteousness. To think otherwise, is to think injuriously of God, and dishonourably of him. Here is the truth of the case: Misery ariseth out of our selves, and hath the same Foundation that Iniquity hath. Hell for the main of it, is that the Sinner is in a self-condemned State, without relief; and the worst of God is his just refusal of a Sinner, that would not be reclaimed. Self-condemnation from the Guilt of a Man’s Conscience, that is not removed by Repentance; and God’s refusal, because the Sinner would not come within the Latitude of a compassionable case.


Discourse XVI.

The absolute Necessity of Religious Obedience, and unavoidable Perdition of the Disobedient.

Rom. 1. 17, 18.

For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed from Faith to Faith; as it is written, the Just shall live by Faith.

For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness, and Unrighteousness of Men, that hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.

[36]In these Words the Apostle doth further confirm what he had declared in the foregoing Verse; where he had told us, that the Gospel of Christ is the Power of God to Salvation.

For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed (I would have you supply it) toward them that believe from Faith to Faith; as it is written, the Just shall live by Faith.

For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness and Unrighteousness.

These two Verses Contain all contraries: And Contraries are the best Comments one upon another. The Righteousness of God revealed toward them that believe: The wrath of God revealed against all Ungodliness. That that is opposite to the Believer, is the Ungodly Man and disobedient, and holding <232> Truth in Unrighteousness. So that the Apostle holds him to be an Unbeliever, let him profess what he will, who lives contrary to what he professes.

From these Two Verses we have these Propositions.

1. That God hath Engaged himself, resolved in himself, and declared to Man, so that he will not go back; that all they that do believe, believe and obey; God hath engaged himself to them all for Recovery, Life, and Salvation, and Restauration to their former condition and Happiness, to all that give themselves up to the Gospel, and live accordingly. And on the other side, which is a perfect Opposition, The Wrath of God is declared to all Men that hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.

2. Again, these Men that do Believe, and Obey in the sense of the Text, are just Men, and they have true and real Righteousness; that is Evangelical Righteousness: And these shall have eternal Life: And the Righteousness of these, through the candid construction of the Gospel, and gracious Interpretation of God, is Righteousness without spot or blemish: It is so through Divine Candour. God accepts it so, as loving Parents accept of the good disposition of their Children, though it is little that they do. These Men in the sense of the Scripture are Just: And their Righteousness is not [37]rotten Rags, as is said of Ritual Observations in conjunction with Immorality: But is true and real Righteousness, without spot or blemish. There are two Degrees of Innocence: The first Degree is never to have Offended; so Adam before his fall. The second Degree is to have repented. The former doth belong to the whiteness of Snow: The last to the having our Garments washed white in the Blood of the Lamb[38]. Now we have not the first, but we may have the second: For then we may say, upon a Moral consideration, that the Sins that we have committed are as if they never were committed; <233> when the Sinner hath repented, asked God forgiveness; returned to Duty; and God hath pardoned him.

On the clean contrary: God hath declared his Anger and Displeasure against all Unbelievers and impenitent Sinners; pretenders to Faith, who do not in the Honesty of their Hearts, give themselves up to practice according to the Doctrine of the Gospel. They are so far from being true Believers, that they offer violence to Truth, and in the sense of the Scripture, are really Unbelievers. It is plain in the Text; for Men are said to Believe, as they Practice: For notwithstanding what a Man hath said, we conclude he believes contrary, if he do not as he saith: And Unbelievers, and Disobedient, are convertibly used in several Places in Scripture. The way to believe to Salvation, is such a Faith, such a receiving the Lord Jesus by voluntary consent of the Will, as to have regard to all his Precepts, and Obey them in the Practice of our lives: If we do not this, we are to be reckoned among the Unbelievers, and Ungodly. And this for a General account of these two Verses; wherein you have three Oppositions which comment one upon another.

1. In Contradistinction to the Righteousness of God in the 17th Verse; you have the Wrath of God in the 18th Verse.

2. To Faith, and every one that believes; you have in the 18th Verse Ungodly, Unrighteous, and a holding Truth in Unrighteousness. Wherefore the Believer, must not be a Man that is described by an Act of naked and single Apprehension, but such a Person as in State and Spirit, is separate from Unrighteousness, and Ungodliness; and no way guilty of holding Truth in Unrighteousness. And then

3. Against things consequent upon the Wrath of God, in the 18th Verse you have things consequent upon the Goodness of God to Believers.


Now for Particulars.

For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed, &c.

The Righteousness of God. I Understand this not so as it is every where meant, or most commonly meant. But considering the Opposition of the two Verses, Righteousness of God in the 17th Verse, and Wrath of God in the 18th Verse; as contrary Principles, producing contrary Effects. I therefore Understand by the Righteousness of God here, his Goodness, his Mercy, Compassion, Kindness, and Benignity, his equal consideration, and fairness toward Man, in his State of Guilt. That Disposition in God that moves him to forgive, to pity and compassionate Man in his Misery and in his ruined Estate. This I understand by God’s Righteousness here: and so it is best distinguished from the Wrath of God in the 18th Verse; by which I Understand God’s Displeasure upon Offence: And this concurs with that of the Apostle, Rom. 11. 22. Behold therefore the Goodness and the severity of God. The Goodness of God toward those that are Contumacious and Impenitent. It is so understood in some other Scriptures, Dan. 9. 7, 9. O Lord, Righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of Faces. To the Lord our God belong Mercies and Forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him. So in the Rom. 3. 25. to declare his Righteousness for remission of Sins through the forbearance of God. If you will take Righteousness as strict Justice, it is but a small Principle for Remission of Sins: But you must take it for God’s Goodness, Kindness, and Benignity. Such is the Tenour of the Gospel, that through Jesus Christ, there is declared, in the way of Faith and Obedience, that God is very willing of his Goodness, Clemency, and Benignity, to Pardon Sin to all such as Repent, Believe, and Obey.


From Faith to Faith.

That is in its several Degrees: From one Measure of Faith to another; that is, from Faith as a Grain of Mustard Seed, to Faith as a Mountain: As the Psalmist in Psalm 84.7. They go from Strength to Strength.

As it is written, the Just shall live by Faith.

These Words you have four times in the Bible; and we have them in two different senses: Consistent, but different. We find it Originally, Habakkuk 2. 4. And you have it here in the Text: And you have it Gal. 3. 11. And you have it Hebr. 10th 38. In the Words you have Three Things.

[39]1. A Man is Evangelically Righteous, in the way of Faith and Obedience, notwithstanding Imperfections. Faith in the Lord Jesus, pursued by Obedience, doth amount to real Righteousness: And through the Grace of God in Jesus Christ they are acccepted {sic} of God as such. Repentance from Dead Works, and Faith in the Lord Jesus, is the Tenour of the Gospel-Covenant; The honest and sincere Endeavours of those that do believe, and embrace the Gospel, are in Scripture called [40]Righteousness, without spot or wrinkle: And this is also the [41]fine Linen, clean and white, which the Saints wear. There must be sincere Obedience, although short and Imperfect, which is accepted as full and perfect in and through Christ. This I take to be the true Explication of imputed Righteousness, that God accepts of the sincere Obedience of his Creatures; though it be short and imperfect, yet if it be sincere, in and through Christ, it is accepted as if full and perfect.

[42]2. Such as I have now described, they shall Live in the sense of the Evangelist: They shall not perish, but have Everlasting Life, John 3. 16. He that is Righteous, according to the Doctrine of the Gospel, though imperfect and short. If you consider him <236> according to the Doctrine of the Law; yet if he be a true Penitent, holds the Head, goes to God in and through Christ, and endeavours to be in the World as Christ was in the World; such a Man is in the way of Eternal Life, and shall be Eternally saved.

[43]3. Such Persons as these that have Faith and Confidence in God, and live in expectation from him and dependance upon him, they are not in haste, but will stay God’s leisure. They wait upon God for the fulfilling of his Promises, and willingly stay God’s time, though not in present Possession they stay themselves upon him.

The two former Propositions are the sense, as the Words are quoted, Rom. 1. 17. Gala. 3. 11. The third as the Words are, Hab. 2. 4. Heb. 10. 38.

Further I Observe from these Words, the just shall live by Faith, being four times in the Scripture.

First, That Men that have been inspired, have thought it worthy of themselves to prove by Scripture. Our Apostle, whom we look upon to be an extraordinary Person, yet he proves what he saith by Scripture, as it is written. Men inspired prove by Scripture.

1. To declare the Endicter, Speaker, Writer, to be but the Instrument, The Inspirer, the Author.

2. To shew the Unity of the Spirit: The same Spirit spake by Moses, and the Prophets, and the Apostles.

3. To shew the consistency of the same Spirit with himself. The same Truth for substance in several Times.

4. To secure us against Imposture; and to Warrant us to examine what is said in God’s Name, or under pretence of his Commission. To do as the Bereans did, Acts 17. 11. A sure Word of Prophesie, 2. Pet. 1. 19. Our Faith is our peculiar Reserve for God: God will not expose it to any invincible Temp <237> tation. There is in the Gospel only one great matter of Faith, which God proposes us to believe: The Grace of God in Christ, Pardon of Sin in his Blood, acceptance through him, going to God by him, Gal. 1. 8. ’Tis weakness to be credulous, Prov. 14. 15.

5. To cast Honour upon Scripture. It speaks its Authority, and Sufficiency, 2 Pet. 1. 21. Spake as moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Tim. 3. 16, 17. Scripture is given, to make perfect, and throughly to furnish.

6. To teach us the way of Understanding Scripture and Improving it to the full.

Therefore if any now a-days should rise up among us, under the best colour, the best pretence, and declare any thing in the Name of God, which he cannot give an Account of by Reason, or by Scripture, we have Authority enough to refuse it. Of all things under Heaven it doth not become a Christian to be credulous; or Light of Faith. Who can pretend to speak to you, as St. Paul did? And yet he did think it did become him, to prove out of the Ancient Prophets. Let us not compromise: Let us not be credulous; but let every Man see that they that do Dictate, or propose any thing of Religion or Conscience, that they give very good Assurance; since St. Paul in declaring, doth Prove, as it is written. That is my Observation. It is the greatest Impotency to be Credulous. Let us lay aside Credulity, and slight believing.

Secondly, That Men that have been inspired have taken liberty to quote Scripture in a very great Latitude, Heb. 13. 5. Let your conversation be without Covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. The Apostle makes it a general Promise to all Persons, when it was a particular Promise to Joshua, when he was substituted in the Place of Moses, Josh. 1. 5. and we say, we must not conclude a General <238> from a particular: So, Heb. 1. 5. I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son. 2 Sam. 7. 14. so, Matt. 26.31. I will smite the Shepherd, from Zach. 13. 7. so Matt. 8. 17. being an Interpretation of Isai, 53. 4. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the Prophet, saying, himself took our Infirmities, and bare our Sicknesses. The Evangelist Applies it to his compassionating the sick and weak; which is not the fulness of the Prophecy. So Mat. 2. 15. the Evangelist proves Christ was to come out of Egypt, from Hosea 11. 1. When Israel was a Child I loved him, and called my Son out of Egypt. So again, Heb. 2. 13. Behold I and the Children which God hath given me: That is, Christ and Believers, Christ and Christians; quoted from Isa. 8. 18. which doth particularly refer to that Prophet. Behold I, and the Children whom the Lord hath given me, are for Signs and for Wonders in Israel. So, Acts 2. 31. He seeing this before, spake of the Resurrection of Christ, that his Soul was not left in Hell, neither his Flesh did see Corruption; from Psalm. 16. 10. where the Words refer to David. So, John 13. 18. I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen: But that the Scripture may be fulfilled: He that Eateth Bread with me, hath lifted up his Heel against me, taken from Psalm 41. 9. Judas and Achitophel. So, John 19. 26. It is said the Souldiers did not break a Bone of our Saviour: As it is written, a Bone of him shall not be broken. It is no where written of Christ, but only of a Type, It is said of the Paschal Lamb, Ex. 12. 46. and Numbers 9. 12. Neither shall ye break a Bone thereof.

An Account of this in seven Particulars:

1. There is either the like Notion:

Or, 2. A Parity of Reason:

Or, 3. A Proportion of Time. That in our time, that holds a proportion to something in former time:


Or, 4. There is the Relation of Type and Antitype: Most of the things in the Old Testament were Types of Christ, or something belonging to him; so that that which is true of the Type, is true of the Antitype.

Or, 5. By way of Allusion and Accommodation; and no Proof at all: So that place, [44]their sound is gone out through all the Earth, meaning the Heavenly Bodies, the Sun, Moon and Stars: and St. Paul brings it,[45] as proving that the Gospel was made known to Mankind.

Or, 6. The Scripture doth own Scripture-Phrase, and takes delight to use it.

Or, 7. There is the Increase of the Sense. For Prophetical Scripture is often fulfilled, sometimes in one Sense, sometimes in another.

By these seven you may give account of that great Liberty and Latitude Holy Men have taken, when they have applied the Old Testament to the New.

To make some Use of this, that the Scripture of the New Testament quotes the Scripture of the Old Testament, with a very great Latitude.

1. Though the Credit and Truth of Scripture is discharged by one Sense, yet we may otherwise use Scripture, if the Words may also well bear it: We may otherwise use Scripture, than in the Sense mainly and primarily intended in the place whence we fetch it, if the Sense be consistent with it. So doth the Apostle here in this Quotation, The Just shall live by Faith, &c.

2. I superadd, That it becomes Persons who do not pretend to an extraordinary Inspiration, to understand and Interpret Scripture, no otherwise than the Context leads to: And that for this Reason.

If you give leave, and listen to Persons that now pretend to a private Spirit of interpreting, and who do not give us Assurance that their Interpretation <240> is warranted by the Context; we set wanton Wit at Liberty, to bring in any Fancy whatsoever, and lay a Foundation for all manner of imaginary Conceit; and so frustrate and enervate Scripture, as a Rule of Faith. If you let go Scripture in the Sense to which the Context leads; and if you let go the true and impartial Proposals, and Dictates of sober Reason; then do we open the Door to all manner of Delusion and Imposture; and shall be carried, we do not know whither. Let us stand by these two; for these are the two certain Principles. If we lay these aside, we do not know where we shall be carried, unless we fall into the Hands of truly divinely inspired Men.

Now to fall upon the 18th Verse.

For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of Men that hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.

The Wrath of God. Not that there is any such thing in God as Passion that doth disturb or discompose him, as our Passions do us; who are sometimes transported by them, and put from our Reason; as is well observed of any Man. A Man in Passion, the Eye of his Mind is clouded: And no Man that is wise will trust himself, if once moved, or affected. But you must understand, when these things are attributed to God, it is by way of Accommodation to us; and you are to understand the Effect, not the Affect: Such effects as proceed from Displeasure, they are used only to convey and carry Notions of things to our Apprehensions.

Revealed from Heaven. That is just as the Phrase is, 1 Cor. 15. 47. There are five things intimated in this form of Words.

1. That the Guise, Mode, Usage, Fashion, Custom of the World, are not Supream, not Sovereign, so as nothing above them. These things that Men so greatly dote upon, Guise, Mode, <241> Fashion, Usage, Custom; we must bring these to the Touch-stone.

2. Revealed from Heaven. It gives us this Intimation: That God doth Superintend over our Carriages and Behaviours; and looks upon himself as concerned in our Circumstances and Transactions. The Atheist and Irreligious are aggreived hereat, and do question this, and would fain set their Hearts at rest about it, and disbelieve it. But those that are the Observers of God, and have Expectance from God, do believe this to be true, and rejoyce in it.

3. Revealed from Heaven. It intimates, that Wickedness is of so odious a Nature, so clamorous in it self, and so provoking, that the Noise and Cry of it ascends to Heaven, and causes God, as it were, to look down. Other Scriptures declare as much, Gen. 18. 20, 21. And the Lord said, because the Cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their Sin is very grievous; I will go down. And James 5. 4. Behold the Hire of the Labourers which have reaped down your Fields, which is of you kept back by Fraud, crieth: And the Cries of them which have reaped, are entred into the Ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth.

4. The fourth Intimation is, the Certainty of Punishment: For the Wrath of God is Revealed from Heaven. If the Powers of the World should unite: If the Wits of Politicians should contrive, and the force of Gold and Bribery should be used; there is no sheltring of Sinners from the God of Heaven, to whom all things lie open; no finding a way to escape, Rev. 6. 16. If Authority here below neglect to punish Sin, we cannot be sure God will not. If a Malefactor make an Escape through Power, or Favour, or any Art or Trick, God’s Judgment is Supervenient: This intimates Certainty; because God appears from Heaven.


5. Here is the Justice of Punishment in two Particulars.

1. Because it will be done openly. God will do what he doth openly, Revealed from Heaven, in the view of all, Psal. 98. 2. The Lord hath made known his Salvation, his Righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the Heathen. And it is said at the last day, God will judge the World in Righteousness: When all shall be Raised at the sound of the Trumpet.

2. Done in a due Measure and Proportion: It shall not exceed the Demerit of the Fact. And this we are assured of, because it is from Heaven; and Heaven is God’s Throne,[46] and is a Throne of Righteousness.

Against all Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of Men.

You have two Words here.

[47]Ungodliness, which lies in Profaneness in the Worship of God: In flying into the Face of God himself; that is properly Impiety.

[48]Then Unrighteousness. In strictness it lyes in Variation from the Rule of Right, in our Transaction with Men. Unrighteousness is Injury against a Man’s Neighbour.

[49]Or else the superadding Unrighteousness to Ungodliness doth intimate, that whosoever is Ungodly is Unrighteous between God and himself. For our Devotion to God, is as much his due, as any thing is our due in the World.

[50]Or Lastly. These two, Ungodliness and Unrighteousness do Comprehend the whole Species of Evil.

Who hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.

This is the great Iniquity of us Mortals; upon the account of which we are self-condemned, yea lost to Eternity, this holding Truth in Unrighteousness.

The Truth of God it admits of many distinctions; but I would only speak of Truth by way of Ema <243> nation. There is in Divinity, a distinction of Truth that is of main and Principle concernment; that is, the Distinction of Truth in respect of its Emanation from God, the Father of Truth; For all Truth is a Ray, and a Beam from God, who is the Father of Truth. Now God Communicates himself to us two ways.

1. In the Moment of the Creation; and that we call Truth of the first inscription, or the Light of God’s Creation, or the Principle of Natural Conscience, the true issue of Reason. For whatever Men say, they who take away Reason in things of Religion, take away the Ground upon which God will examine the Nations, at the Day of Judgment. For God doth not call any one to an account for that Talent he never gave. So that if none were to give an account at the last day, but those to whom the Bible is known, it would not be the 20th part of the World. Now by this Principle of God’s Creation, Man is obliged to all things that are substantially good: All things that are immutable and unalterable are founded upon this Principle: Therefore the report of our Faculties, which God made true (and it is impossible a Monster should come out of God’s hands) is true; as sure as God made them true, so sure they are true. The proper Result of a Faculty is true, as it is true that the Sun is Light. This therefore is the Truth of the first Inscription: What the Reason of a Man’s Mind doth determine: And whosoever goes against the Reason of his Mind is self-condemned, destroys Conscience, and he roots out (so far as he can) every thing of God in his Soul. And upon this is founded all the great things in Religion and Conscience, all the things that Sanctify a Man, and make him capable of being happy.

2. The second Emanation of Truth, is the Truth of After-Revelation. For such is the great Goodness <244> of God, that having fallen, he doth Reveal to him upon what Terms he will receive and Pardon Sinners. It was Probable, that God would Pardon Sin to those that did Repent, leave of to Sin, and return to Duty: But by Revealed Truth, we have Assurance of this: And this is the Light of the Day-spring from on high visiting us. Luk. 1. 78.

By the former of these, we come to the knowledge of Piety toward God, Justice toward Man, and Sobriety to our selves.

By the latter, we come to know in what way we that have been Apostates, shall be Accepted.

So that the first hath a deeper Foundation, than that God gave us a Law engraven in Stone, or that we have the Ten Commandments in the Bible. God did make Man first to these things: For the very Dictates of the Natural Conscience, God did interweave them into the very Principles of our Frame and Constitution. No Man is impious against God, or Unrighteous toward his Neighbour (unless he have contracted a Reprobacy of sense) and no Man is Excessive, as to himself, but he hath an Internal Reprover. A Man is departed from himself, if he be disobedient in any of these great Instances of Morality. If Man had continued Right and straight, he would never have needed a Law without him; because he would have been a Law to himself: But since we have Degenerated, and Apostasized; since we have contracted Guilt, the Divine Goodness hath been pleased to awaken us, and call us to Advertency and Consideration, by a Law without us: And that was first by the Ten Commandments engraven upon Tables of Stone, and now written in the Bible; which Law was a Coppy of the Law written in Man’s Heart before he became a Sinner. For had there not been a Law written in the Heart of Man, a Law without would have done very little. No Man can prove any thing to him that grants <245> nothing: And he that knows nothing, grants nothing: Whosoever finds not within himself a Principle suitable to the Moral Law, whence of choice he doth comply with it, he is departed from himself and has lost the Natural Perfections of his being. So you see what was Vital and Principal in the first State, and what was for Recovery. So now in the Gospel-State, you have the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, and that Corresponds with the Law written in Man’s Heart: And then you have the Law written in the New Testament, and that holds a proportion to the Law written in the Tables of Stone. And as the Law written upon the Tables of Stone was in respect of the Law of the Creation written upon Man’s Heart; so in the Gospel-State, there is the Principle of Regeneration; and for the advantage of that you have what is written in the new Testament. So you have it in Heb. 8. 10. quoted from Jer. 31. 33. These distinctions are very necessary for you to Understand: You have Truth of Natural Light, and Truth Revealed in Holy Scripture.

Now to hold Truth in Unrighteousness.] This is a Hebraism: That is, unjustly to detain.[51] For it is but Justice, to give a Man’s self up to the Obedience of Truth: And Truth loves to break forth, and shew it self: And it is to be imagined, according as Men know, so they are, and so they do. God hath an Action of false Imprisonment, in the behalf of his Truth, against every Man that doth not obey and fulfil the Truth that he knows.

Now this puts us upon a double and necessary Duty; and no Man can be a good Man that fails in these two.

1. It lies upon us to awaken our selves to the Knowledge God hath made us to; by serious Consideration, impartial Self-examination, and free Communication one with another. He is not a <246> modest Man, that thinks himself wise enough to find out Truth, and judge of it without submitting it to other Mens thoughts. This is the first, That a Man awaken himself to the Knowledge God hath made him to: That is, to know the great Difference between Good and Evil, upon a Moral consideration. And to acquaint himself with this, he ought seriously to consider, impartially to examine, and freely to communicate. Whosoever fails in these, can never come at the Truth. The

2. Duty, is to comply with such Knowledge, and to fulfil it; that is, neither down-right contradicting it, as the Atheists doth, and the Prophane: So to destroy and avoid it, by contrary custom and practice, more violent at first, but after facilitated by use: Nor to abate it, by using Colours, and partial Distinctions, to evade it, and elude it, as {illeg} are apt to do.

But to give it you in several Particulars. In Five Instances there is holding Truth in Unrighteousness.

1. Where there is Knowledge that doth not go forth into Act. For a Man may be no better than a Devil, by Knowledge barely.

2. Where we do not attain a due Growth. For where there is a Principle, there will be Growth; unless there be Violence, or some Evil Accident.

3. When Men elude their Judgments, by a Put-off, a Shift, or an Evasion: As when ehe {sic} Drunken-Man calls it only Good-Fellowship; or he that is conceited and turbulent in Religion, calls himself zealous for Truth.

4. When we do not follow Truth fully, but as Herod did many things, according to St. John’s Doctrine; but he did not do all.

5. That high degree of Sin, going against a Man’s own Knowledge and Judgment, so as to contract Reprobacy of Mind, Searedness of Conscience, Hard <247> ness of Heart; which is the desperatest way of sinning, either here, or in Hell.

Discourse XVII.

The absolute Necessity of Religious Obedience, and unavoidable Perdition of the Disobedient.

Rom. I. 18.

For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness, and Unrighteousness of Men, that hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.

[52]Having made Explication of the several Phrases in the Text; I proceed now to give you a Declaration of this horrid Sin, holding Truth in Unrighteousness; which admits of several Degrees.

1. Where Knowledge goes not forth into Act: Where Knowledge doth not attain the Effect of Goodness: For bare Knowledge doth not sanctifie.[53] The impure Sect of the Gnosticks denominated themselves from Knowledge. A Man may be no better than the Devil by Knowledge barely.

2. Where there is not attaining due Growth: For there will be Growth where there is a Principle; if not Violence, or some ill Accident. Where Nature begins, it goes on toward Perfection; and there is a State of Increment, till it come to Perfection, either in Bulk or Maturity. So in Nature; so in Grace, 2 Pet. 3. 18. We may distinguish indeed between Christians newly born, and Christians <248> in their full Strength:[54] But it doth not become a Christian to be still as much in the dark, as he was at first. There is wrong done to Truth, if it stay long in the place of breaking forth.

3. When Men elude their Judgments, by a Put-off, a Shift, or an Evasion. Thus David deceived himself in the Case of Uriah.[55] He thought he could draw out whom he pleased in a Forlorn, and so leave them to be destroyed: For so it is said, Thou hast killed Uriah with the Sword of the Amorites.[56] A like Instance was that of Ananias and Saphira,[57] who might upon second Thoughts think that part was a good Sacrifice. And then Saul,[58] he saves the best of the Cattle to Sacrifice to the Lord. Upon this Account we may charge the Pharisees. Moses said, [59]Honour thy Father and thy Mother: And whosoever curseth Father or Mother, let him die the Death. But ye say, If a Man shall say to his Father or Mother it is Corban, that is to say, a Gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, he shall go free. Here was doing that under one Notion, which a Man’s own Judgment will not let him do under another, when the Case is much the same. So when that that is within the Species of Intemperance, is called Good-fellowship; or when a Man is conceited and turbulent in Religion, to call this by the Name of Zeal for Truth.[60] Whereas Reason and Nature should always be consulted, and the Ear always open to better Information. We should not think we have already attained, but may live to learn. This Point chiefly concerns things that are in their own Nature good and convenient, or else evil and hurtful. And here for a Man to use Subtilty, is greatly to abuse himself, and to make himself obnoxious to God. For in the great Instances of Morality, here we should be severe, careful, and exact. There can be here no Variation or Allowance; because the Matter is fixed, unalterable, un <249> changeable. Every Man is obliged to live piously towards God; to use Justice between Man and Man, and Sobriety and Temperance as to himself. Moral Precepts never vary: In these great Matters of Righteousness, no Variation or Alteration: But in Institutes and positive Laws, there may be a Latitude: Since these are for the good and security of the former: And in Ceremonies God himself hath given allowance, [61]as in the Case of Circumcision in the Wilderness, omitted for forty Years together:[62] And in the Case of the Shew-bread, which David and his Men eat when they were an hungry. And the Reason is, Because Morals are a Law in themselves; and the necessity of them rises from the things themselves:[63] But for Positives, it is enough for them that they are for a Season. Therefore it is observed, that all Positives were always for Subservience, and better Security to Morals; and when they have been used in way of Compensation and Commutation for Morals, they have been spoken of contemptuously, and as if God’s Stamp were not upon them; as in the 1st of Isaiah, from the 10th Verse to the 15th; and the 66th of Isaiah, Verse 3.

4. We may be said to hold the Truth in Unrighteousness, when we do not follow Truth fully,[64] as Herod did many things according to St. John’s Doctrine; but he did not do all. The Pharisees in one thing would be exact,[65] and expect it should make Compensation for another: Zealous in one thing, slack in another; and they are therefore called Hypocrites. This is when all wordly Ends do not veil to Religion, and worldly Conveniences are overmuch considered: For Truth is so noble and generous a thing, that it must not come into a Compromise with its opposite Rule of Truth; we should abide by the certain, though it prove costly.


5. That high Degree of Sin, to go against a Man’s own Judgment and Conscience; and so, by violent and unnatural Practice,[66] to contract Hardness of Heart, and Reprobacy of Mind. It is not God that makes Men hard; but so it comes to pass upon their sinning, when Men pursue their Knowledge by unanswerable Practice. No Man is suddenly most desperately wicked. It is hard for any one at first to do flatly and down-right Evil; but no Man when he doth begin, knows how far he shall go. The breaking in of Evil, is like the breaking in of Water. It is an easie matter to preserve a Man’s Innocency at first; but if a Man have done a base and a disingenuous Act, no Man knows what he will come to at last.

This for an Account, by way of Explication. I will now give you some Scriptures that carry the Notion; and then make some Observations. Luke 11. 33. A Candle under a Bushel. A Candle is for Light; not only for him that sets it up, but for the whole Room. A Candle under a Bushel; that is, Knowledge confined; it doth not appear in Practice. Another is, Matt. 25. 8. Lamps that are soon out: They had Light; but it was not Light that did continue to be of use to the last. Another is Verse 25. A Talent hid in the Earth: There it cannot encrease; it must be employed. Another Expression is Luke 26. 20. A Pound laid up in a Napkin; no encrease upon it; no body the better for it. St. James calls these Men Hearers, and not Doers of the Word of God, Jam. 1. 22. These are some of those Scriptures that carry the Notion of holding Truth in Unrighteousness.

I will now make Two Observations.

1st. Discover how wrong and injurious Apprehensions Men have of God.

2. I will make it appear, that all Ungodly and Unrighteous Men are Self-condemned.


1. That they are very injurious Representations that Men have; that Sinners have no warning, that Men are surprized by Judgments, and taken Unawares: This is without all Ground, since the wrath of God is Revealed from Heaven. Therefore this is Untrue, even of those that have been suddenly smitten. This Scripture that is before us is remarkable, both for the State of Life and of Death; wherein the way of the one and the other is declared. So that when I read the 17th. Verse, I wonder that any one that lives within the Pale of the visible Church, and takes the Bible into his Hand, and once looks upon this Text; that he is not only not almost, but altogether perswaded to become a Christian. Here is such an invitation, so full satisfaction, that the Kindness of God is declared from Heaven toward all that believe. Though we have been Sinners, though fallen Creatures, and are become miserable; yet if we have Repentance from dead works, and Faith in our Lord Jesus, through the Mercy of God, we are set straight again; and shall pass with God for Righteous, and shall come to Salvation. If this will not do, I do not know what will do more. But when I read the 18th. Verse, I am as much amazed at the Wickedness, and Prophaneness of the World. For will any ones Heart serve him to stand upon Terms of open defiance against God? To contest with him, and venture to run the hazard to go on in such a way that God hath so openly declared against? It is a Declaration from the Majesty of Heaven, against all the Profaneness of the Wicked and Degenerate World, Isa. 27. 4. Who would set Bryars and Thorns against me in Battle: I will go through them, and burn them together.

So that it is strange, any should say God is wanting to Men, either in warning, declareing or shewing them what will be the Effect of all their Unrighteousness. Now this wonder of mine doth encrease <252> upon this consideration; when I think what E{ffects} have been upon the reading of some other Scriptures in former times; St. Augustin converted from {Mani}cheism, and a loose Life, by reading Rom. 13. {1}2, 13. Origen after he had been brought to give some undue Compliance with the Heathen Idolatry, was exceedingly affected with the thought of what he had done, and brought off by thinking of Psalm 50. 16, 17. Also the famous Conversion of an Obstinate Jew, Eman. Tremelius, who afterwards proved a very useful instrument in the Church of God; was by looking into this Book. But now hath this great Instrument of God in the World, for the Business of Religion, and Conversion of Sinners, {illeg} its Virtue and Efficacy in these latter times. Nothing can be expressed in Words to encourage to Faith and Obedience, more than the 17th. Verse; nothing more to persuade Men to walk up to their Light, than what is in the 18th. Verse. If this be so, then such Scriptures as these are verified, every Man’s Destruction is from himself: And God will make it true, that he would not the Death of a Sinner.[67] And he may challenge all the World, Are not my ways equal?[68] Shew your selves like Men; use your Rational Faculties, and judge between me and my Vineyard. [69]Rigtheous {sic} art thou, O Lord, and true are all thy Judgments. It is not that God doth not fairly begin with Men. That that is not done that might be done if they were not wilful and self-neglective, It is not that God is not ready to go on with Men that answer to his call, to carry them on further. For we may resolve, that if God, of his own Goodness, awaken us, and begin with us: If we answer that call, God will go on further; for no Man perishes through a failure on God’s Part; but thro’ Obstinacy, or Neglect on his own Part. God in his great Compassion doth Graciously begin with his Creatures; but often finds them Obstinate <253> and Rebellious. It is not God that fails in the Relation he stands in to his Creatures, as first and chief Cause; but we are wanting to our selves. Solomon hath stated the Case well in Pro. 1. 24. I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my Hand, and no Man regarded; — ye have set at nought all my Counsel, and would none of my reproof. This speaks to the case of those that continue in a State of Sin, and refuse God’s endeavours to reclaim them, and bring them to Good. And then concerning Apostates, the case is declared most plainly in Pro. 14. 14. The Backslider in Heart shall be filled with his own Ways; not any thing that proceeds from God’s Will, or Power; but the Fruit of their own ways. The former speaks of Sinners all along from the beginning; the latter of Apostates from a good Beginning. We are highly concerned, to have right Apprehensions of God: And it is injurious to God, and most causeless, to attribute our coming short of Salvation to God’s failure. For you see here is a Proposal, and Terms that are just and fit. For tis Reasonable, if we have done amiss, that we Repent, deprecate God, and importune him for favour. And it is also possible; for where-ever God begins, we are able, with him to do something, notwithstanding our contracted weakness; for where God is, there is strength. And then it is Good for us: For Repentance is Sovereign to our Natures, satisfactory to our Minds, and quieting to our Consciences. And Lastly, it makes us capable of Happiness: For we cannot be happy till Reconciled to God; and we cannot be Reconciled to God, while in a State of Sin and Evil. So that the Declaration is full in the 17th Verse. And then for the 18th Verse. If Men do not come up to practise what they know, they are Self-condemned. But this is the


2. Second Observation, The Scripture doth suppose that Ungodly and Unrighteous Men are self-condemned, against Ungodly and Unrighteous Men, who hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.

I look upon these words as rendring an Account, not making a Distinction[70]; as rendring an Account, how it comes to pass, notwithstanding all God’s endeavours; that Men continue in Unrighteous Practise: The Reason is, because they hold the Truth is Unrighteousness: For these Words, Holding the Truth in Unrighteousness, are supperadded as Causal, not as Distinctive; as giving an Account, not distinguishing Persons, as if some did, some did not.

Now, because this is a great point, I will undertake to give you a just account of it. I say, all that in Scripture are branded for Sinners, are Men that Sin against Knowledge; imprison the Truth, and hold it in Unrighteousness. I call those Sinners that the Scripture doth. I find in the Language of Scripture, that the Denomination of Sinners is never put upon Men that mean well; but are now and then in an errour, have failing, or do now and then miscarry uon a sudden Temptation, or Surprizal: Never are these Men called Sinners nor the Infirmities of the sincere and upright-hearted called Sins, such as these sudden Incursions, and Abreptions, when their thoughts are snatched away from them, either in Praying, or Hearing. Sudden Surprisals, first Motions of Passion, Sins of Ignorance, mistakes in Judgment, misapprehensions, Irregularities of the first Motions, miscarriages upon violent assaults, and upon the Importunity of Temptation, and when Men are in a great fear and out of themselves for a while. These things do befal the best of us at times. But after a while we Recover our selves, and then ask God Forgiveness, and make use of Faith for Expiation in Christ’s Blood. We pray God for Grace to Recover us, and for more Strength for the time <255> to come. These make us more Modest, more Humble, and more sensible of our dependance upon God. But they do not break our Peace with God; neither doth the Scripture call these things Sinns. But I shall tell you what the Denomination of a Sinner is in Scripture.

The first in Scripture called Sinners were the Sodomites, Gen. 13. 13. But the Men of Sodom were wicked, and Sinners before the Lord exceedingly. They were guilty of the Sin not fit to be named in the Ears of a Christian Congregation.

In the next Place; we hear not of any called Sinners, till we come to hear of [71]the Rebellion against God, the Conspiracy of Corah, Dathan and Abiram, Sinners against their own Souls.

The next is the Amalekites; Persons that had given God such an Offence,[72] that he had concluded to root them out of the Earth.

The next place where you have the State of Wickedness described is Psalm 1. 1. a State perfectly opposite to a good Man.

Then come to the New Testament[73], and there you find Publicans and Sinners, Persons that were thought not fit for any Man to be seen in their Company. And Mat. 26. 45. The Son of Man is betrayed into the Hands of Sinners. Such as Judas, such as Pilate, such as the High-Priests, and those that suborned false Witnesses. Remarkable is that place, Luk. 13. 1, 2. Then were there present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose Blood Pilate had mingled with their Sacrifices. And Jesus answering, said unto them, suppose ye that these Galileans were Sinners above all the Galileans, because they sufferd such things? I tell you Nay. They did imagine they were extraordinary wicked Persons, because they suffered such Judgments. So John 9. 31. It was the Blind Man’s Notion, God heareth not Sinners.


Then see what kind of Persons are put in Conjunction with Sinners, 1 Tim. 1. 9. Knowing this, that the Law is not made for a Righteous Man, but for the Lawless and Disobedient; for the Ungodly, and for Sinners; for Unholy and Prophane; for Murderers of Fathers, and Murderers of Mothers; for Man-slayers; for Whoremongers; for them that defile themselves with Mankind; for Men-stealers; for Lyars; for perjured Persons. Such Persons as these in Scripture are branded for Sinners, the 13th Verse of the Epistle of Jude. The Lord cometh with ten thousand of his Saints, to execute Judgment upon all, and to convince all that are Ungodly among them, of all their ungodly Deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard Speeches, which ungodly Sinners have spoken against him.

Now here is my Observation, that these Persons that are branded for Sinners, did hold the Truth in Unrighteousness: They did wilfully sin against their Light, against their Knowledge. Now it will do well to observe this Distinction that Scripture makes, and to distinguish the Failings of the Regenerate, from Sin in this Sense: For Sinners, in the Sense of Scripture, are such as are highly exorbitant, that make havock of Conscience, and are of profligate Lives. Now the Scripture tells us, That He that is born of God, doth not commit sin:[74] That is, not in this Sense, doth not live in Sin, doth not voluntarily consent to known Iniquity. It is unnatural for any one in the State of Regeneration, to be a Sinner in the Sense I have now expressed. They have Failings, err, mistake, may be now and then surprized: But voluntarily to commit Sin, make havock of Conscience, violate the eternal Laws of Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth, they do not this. If I were to speak to Sinners in the Scripture Sense, there is no Consolation to be given at all; but only Directions to Repent, and ask God Forgiveness, <257> and to begin anew, reinforce your first Conversion, if ever you were converted; if not, now begin. But now, if Men wrong themselves, then we are at a loss, and know not what to say to them. For if they have been subject only to Infirmities, that their Humane Nature lays them open to; have been sometimes surprized, have sometimes failed; if that be their case, then we say, Great is the Grace of the Gospel, and all its Promises are appliable; there is Pardon for them all, in and thro’ Christ: And the Grace of the Gospel is enough to give all these Men satisfaction. If Men be Sinners, have a deep Sense of their Imperfections and Infirmities, Failings that are involuntary in some measure, we have then warrant to apply God’s Promises. But if they be Sinners in the Language of Scripture, then nothing to say, but either you never were yet serious, or in a State of Regeneration; or else if you did begin, you must begin again, and deprecate God’s Displeasure, and repent, if perhaps the thoughts of thy wicked Heart may be forgiven thee. In this case, having suffered Shipwrack of Faith and a good Conscience, you must make use of the Plank of Repentance, to come safe to the Shoar again.


Discourse XVIII.

The absolute Necessity of Religious Obedience, and unavoidable Perdition of the Disobedience.

Rom. 1. 18.

For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness, and Unrighteousness of Men, that hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.

[75]Yet once more, and then I have done: For this Scripture is very Remarkable. The former Verse telling us the way of Life and Salvation: and this telling us what we may trust to, what we shall at last find, if we neglect God, and his Declaration; if we do not make use of the assistance of Grace, and the Divine Spirit.

The point that I have insisted upon is, that those that are, in a Scripture sense, Sinners: In the Language of the Text, Ungodly, and Unrighteous Persons, do hold the Truth in Unrighteousness, and are self-condemned: These kind of Persons are under a double Condemnation.

1. The Guilt of evil Practice lying upon their Minds.

[76]2. Their own internal Sense reproving them, challenging them, condemning them. They are condemned of themselves, before they are condemned of God. Evil knowingly admitted, that is our Burthen; for all Evil is violent, and unnatural; and whosoever is a Sinner, in the Language of Scrip <259> ture, is one that wrongs his own Principles. This I can make appear in respect of those three famous Instances of Evil.

Impiety toward God.

Unrighteousness toward other.

Or else against a Man’s self, by contradicting the Reason of the Mind, or subordinating the Reason of the Mind to bodily sense.

1st. As to God. If we do answer our Relation to God; then it will be Reverence, and Obedience, and Faith in its full Latitude, to wit, Faith of affiance, adherance, observance: this is the first, and is founded deeply in Reason, and in the Relation we stand in to God, as Father of our Spirits, and Original of our Being.[77] Or if we consider our own State in Relation to God, a State of Dependance; we live at God’s dispose, and subject to his controul; then it will be dependance upon God, submission to him, and acknowledgment of him; because he is our Superiour and Governour: If we do otherwise, we do contrary to the Reason of Things. Or if we consult our sense and experience; then thankfulness to God, and loving affection; because of the proof we have of his Goodness, Kindness, and Faithfulness to us. Or if we consider our Faults, and remember the Trespasses we have committed against him; then humble Deprecation, a sense of God’s Patience, and Forbearance. Or lastly, if we believe that God will be our judge, then study and endeavour to approve our selves to him. Now if we answer our Relation to God, where can there be any place for Profaneness, Insolence, Pride, Presumption, Arrogance, Self-assuming, since we come into being at God’s Call, continue in being by his Allowance, and must leave this being, which here we have by his appointment.

To make this further out; this is fundamental to all Religion, that every one of us is made to <260> know there is a God, without any teaching whatsoever; Man in the use of his Reason, may as well know that there is a God that made the World, and governs it, as he may know by the use of his Eyes, that there is a Sun in the Firmament. [78]Tully observed, that if we by our Reason, find out That which is above our Reason, then are we made to know that there is an Intelligent Agent, transcendantly high above Mind and Understanding in us; and that that we know we did not do, we must necessarily acknowledge to be the Product of the Superiour Understanding. The first Knowledge is that there is a God: If God had not made us to know that he is, then it plainly appears that God could never judge us; there is nothing wherein he could have demanded of us: If not made to know that he is, we can never know it; for this we can never be taught; for upon whose credit shall we believe it? And if there be not a Natural Knowledge of God, there can be no possibility of Faith: For Faith is the receiving something upon Divine Authority, (all else is either Reason, or humane perswasion, credulity or experience.) Now if God do not make me to know that he is; if any one should Propose to me in the Name of God, I should ask, who that is? There were therefore an absolute Impossibility of Faith, if God had not made Man to know that he is, for upon God’s Authority, supposing his being and veracity, we admit, and receive all the Results of his Will. If Reason did not Apprehend God, Religion could not be learnt; there would be nothing in Nature to graft it on. First Principles are Self-evident, and must be seen in their own Light, perceived by the inward Power of Nature, as ex Nihilo Nihil fit, so Nihilo Nihil Probatur. Wherefore it must be within the reach of Reason, to find out that there is a God. Further, It is as sure in Nature, that Mind and Understanding in Man, do na <261> turally tend to God, as heavy things tend to their centre; for God is the centre of immortal Souls; and the Mind and Spirit of Man is a Candle in Man, lighted by God, and doth discover God; it is a Faculty in Man to God; and to be employed about God. This I am sure the Apostle saith in the two next Verses, that it is knowable to Mind and Understanding, that there is a God from the Creation of things, and from Providence. Now if so, whosoever is Impious against God, stands up in Rebellion against him; is not subject to all his commands; this Man Sins against his Conscience, and is guilty of holding Truth in Unrighteousness. This is the first.

2. For the second Species of Sin, Unrighteousness, that refers to the Duty we mutually owe one to another. He that fails in Justice, and equal Dealing with Men, he doth hold the Truth in Unrighteousness. Now this I find, this Principle, doing as we would be done by; according to rule, not wilfully, and Arbitrarily: This hath recommended the Christian Religion to Heathens and to others. [79]That that you would not have done to you, do not to another. This did highly recommend the Christians to Severus, a Heathen Emperour. How do Violence and Fraud interrupt Humane Converse? How settled do Men live in places where Law and Justice doth take place, in comparison with places Arbitrary and Lawless. That for the second Instance. The

3d Is Sobriety and Temperance in the Government of our own Persons. Man consists of two Parts, of Spirit, and of Body: And so we fall under a double Obligation as to our selves; under an Obligation to our Minds. 1. To inform our Understandings; and, 2. To Refine our Minds by Morals Principles. Ignorances and Improbity are mental Diseases; and it is worse to be of an ill affected Mind, than an ill disposed Body: We find that <262> Nature hath given to Man Faculties; but Industry, and Study do acquire the Habits. A neglected Mind is like the Sluggards Field, according to Solomon’s Observation, grown over, &c.[80] We may say of such a Man that his Mind is given him only for Salt, and he hath no other use of it.[81] Now can any one think that God hath given Men Immortal Souls, only to keep their Bodies from stench and putrifaction? We ought to attend upon the Refinement of our Minds, more than the Concernments of our Bodies, as our Minds do transcend our Bodies. Not an unequal Distribution of attendance, but according to Proportion of Worth, and value: For as it is requisite and comely, that Sobriety be the Mind’s Temper, so that moderate and Temperate use be exercised therein; for what is violent is unnatural; that exercise which is unhealthy for the Body, doth also stupify the Mind.[82] Therefore Virtue of every kind is according to the dictates of Reason, and Understanding, and the sense of Mens Minds: And Vice in every kind is greivous, monstrous and unnatural: And I dare say, this is so certain, that all but those that have vitiated their Faculties, know it; that Virtue is conservative of the Nature of Man: To do according to the Dictates of Reason, this is conservative of a Man’s Mind. Any Man that is proud or conceited is in danger to be distracted. Then it preserves the Health of the Body, by Chastity, and Temperance.

Thus have I shewed you in the three great Instances of Virtue, the three great Materials of Conscience, the three unalterables, that are settled in the very Foundation of the make of a Creature; that Virtue is connatural, and that Vice is unnatural, and distructive to the Nature of Man. So that no Man hath internal Peace, that is either Impious, or Unrighteous, or Intemperate: But into whatsoever Species of Sin Men fall, they Sin against the Dict <263> ates of Conscience, and hold the Truth in Unrighteousness. So here my Proposition is plainly made out, that all the Unrighteous in the World are self-condemned.

But me thinks I hear it said, that I speak but like a Philosopher, or a good Honest Heathen: For some Men think that Virtue is another thing than Grace; a Heathen Word, not a Christian.

I appeal to two Witnesses, and both of them Apostles, viz. St. Peter, and St. Paul, 2 Pet. 1. 3. —hath called us to Glory and Virtue. Glory, the Upshot and the Consummation of all: And he makes Virtue so material, that he puts Virtue for Glory. And verse the 5th. He bid us add to our Faith Virtue; and to Vertue Knowledge, &c. Then for St. Paul, Phil. 4. 8. Where he doth sum up all that he thinks worthy to insist upon: Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are venerable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of Good Report. And can he superadd any thing after these? Yes. If there be any Virtue, if there be any Praise, think on these things, in the use of your own Reason think them fit and just and becoming you. If you think your selves Christians, charge your selves with the Study and Practice of all Virtue.

Now if Ungodly and Unrighteous Men are self-condemned, can it be imputed to God as severe to condemn again? He doth but actum agere. Great Reason for that. The Psalmist saith, Psal. 7. 11. 12. that God is angry with the wicked every day. For the Ungodly and Unrighteous Man, doth put out the Candle of God’s own lighting in himself purposely, that he may do evil without Check and Controul: He doth check the Everlasting Rule of Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth, which is the Law of Heaven: He doth confound the very Order of things, and disturbs the Government of the World, <264> which is God’s Family; and doth knowingly abuse his own Liberty. I therefore conclude, that these sorts of Men are Guilty of gross Misbehaviour against the Truth, that is in their Mind, or can be come at by the use of Reason and Understanding.

To give you a particular Character of them; they are,

1. All those that do not receive Truth in the love of it.

2. All those that are under the Power of any unmortified Lust.

3. They who design ultimately their own Ends, their Honour, their Pleasure, their Revenue, &c.

4. They who are dearly in love with this present World; and to gain this, they will subordinate all Matters of Conscience.

5. Those that are of dastardly and cowardly Spirits; for these [83]fear them that kill the Body; and fear not him that can cast both Body and Soul into Hell.

These are the Persons that are most deeply guilty of this great Miscarriage.

But now, though my Hand lie heavy upon the Dissolute and Prophane, I must still make an Apology for the Imperfections and Failings of those that are Sincere and Upright; and in the Honesty of their Heart mean God, Righteousness, and Truth; though in some Particulars they fail sometimes, are mistaken, and fall short of their good Intentions: I will not charge these Persons in this Language of holding Truth in Unrighteousness. Three sorts of Persons therefore I except.

1st. I apologize for all such sort of Persons as mean God, Righteousness, and Truth; but upon a sudden Surprizal, before they are awakened to the use of their Principles, sometimes do amiss.

2. When under dark and confused Apprehension, they cannot see before them. Or,

3. In case of violent or long-lasting Temptation.


I greatly distinguish between these two Cases:[84] Such Persons who is some Particulars fall short, or are mistaken. Cases that do consist of a great many Circumstances: For we observe, they may be out in the Conclusions, that do not carefully mind all the Circumstances and Particulars. But for the great Instances of Piety, Righteousness, and good Self-government; these being written in the Nature of Man, as it were with a Sun-beam; as to these, they do not fail: For as to these, He that is born of God, doth not commit Sin.

I come now to make some Inferences.

1. I do then observe, that Men need not be so bad as they are: For if this be true, that Ungodly and Unrighteous Men do hold the Truth in Unrighteousness: Then Men may [85]Escape the great Pollutions of the World, through the Knowledge of God and Christ. We are very apt to lay all the Fault upon our Natures; but really our Wills are rather to be blamed. That that undoes us, is our perverse Wills, corrupt Affections, stubborn Hearts: And these do more harm in the World than weak Heads: ’Tis not so much want of Knowledge as Goodness. God is a great deal more known in the World, than he is either observed or loved. But this will be the Worlds Condemnation, That where they did, or might have known, there they either grosly neglected themselves, or went against their Light: That Men put out the Candle of God’s Spirit in them, that they may do Evil without Check: That Men take upon them to controul the settled and immutable Rule of everlasting Goodness, Righteousness and Truth: That Men are bold to confound Order and Government in God’s Family (for so the World is:) That Men do Evil knowingly, in the abuse of their Liberty and Freedom: Whereas God himself, in whom is the fulness of Liberty, declares concerning himself, That <266> all the ways of God are ways of Righteousness, Goodness and Truth. And cannot God by Power, have Priviledge to do that that is not fit and just? Yet Creatures that are of limited Power, and have Liberty by Participation only, pretend, in the use of their Liberty, to extend Liberty beyond the Bounds of Law, and to do that that is not fit. This will be the condemnation of the World. A Man by this breaks his Internal Peace, and he will rue it to Eternity.

2. I observe that the Cause of a Creature’s Misery, is rational and accountable: and Men dishonour God, and misreport him, when they say any Creature falls into Misery by God’s Omnipotency. There is no Danger from God, if Men be harmless, and not self-condemned. Misery and Harm doth not proceed from abroad, but ariseth out of a Man’s self. Wicked Men and prophane, run upon a mistake, when they think that if God would, they might take liberty to gratifie and please themselves, and no Harm done; and that it is only the Will of God that limits them, and that if God will forbear, they may escape a positive Infliction; and that Hell is only an incommodious place, that God by his Power throws them into. No; Hell is not only a positive Infliction; neither is it possible that any Man should be so miserable as the Hellish State makes him, by an outward place only, but by the Misery that ariseth out of his own self. For if Omnipotency should load me with all Burthens; if I were whole in my self I could bear them; but if I be Faulty, and Guilty, then I have a Wound within me, and I have nothing in my self that is true to my self. The Fuel of Tophet burning is Guilt upon a Man’s own Mind; Malignity, and a naughty Disposition against Goodness and Holiness, and God’s withdrawing. Sin is an Act of Violence in it self: The Sinner forceth himself, and stirs up Strife within <267> himself. And in the Sinner there is that within him that doth condemn him in the Court of his own Conscience. I dare say all else would fall, if this Internal Guilt might be taken off, and this naughty and malignant Disposition against God, Righteousness, and Truth. But this naughtiness of Disposition, and Spitefulness against God and Goodness, and an Incapacity of Repentance, is that that continues the Subject in Affliction.

3. Again, I observe from hence, there is something in every Man upon which we may work; to which we may apply; to wit, the Light of Reason and Conscience, to which the difference of Good and Evil may be made to appear. For Unrighteous and Ungodly Men are self-condemned. Conscience in Men will yield, where Mens Lusts are not to be overcome. It is easier for one to approve himself to the Conscience of a prophane Person, than to his Humour.

Lastly. Here you may have an account what it is that gives a Check and Stop to the Motions of the Divine Spirit, and those that are the Instruments of God for Conversion. It is want of Advertency and Consideration. Men give themselves up headily to do that wherein they cannot justifie themselves when they come to consider. Now there is no place for further Grace, where former Grace is neglected and ineffectual. Self-neglect, and voluntary Allowance of our selves in Sin, is that that brings us into Misery: For there is no invincible Ignorance in respect of things good in themselves, in their Nature and Quality, and necessary: But this is Mens Condemnation, that they do not answer God’s Call. And not to answer his Call, and be awakened when God speaks, this is a new Provocation: So that Men are twice dead, as St. Jude hath it, Jude 13.


But to proceed.

The Wrath of God is declared against all Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of Men

I observe from hence,

1. That this is plain dealing. Wherein is there any thing hard or unreasonable in the Dealings and Proceedings of God? Behold his Justice and his Righteous Dealing. Here is Demerit on the Sufferers part, holding Truth in Unrighteousness: And on the Inflicters part, plain dealing: For the Wrath of God is declared. God deals clearly and openly with Men: And Men may know what they have to trust to. We seem aggrieved at God’s Plagues and Judgments; and think the World is disturbed by them. But we do greater Acts of Violence. For we imprison Truth, and we take upon us to controul, and to do other things than the Reason of the thing admits us to do. We give to God true cause of Offence: So we are the Disturbers, not the Plagues of God.

2. They who are in the Scripture-sense Sinners, are in a State of great Degeneracy and Apostacy; and hereof they ought to be ashamed; and hasten to get out of so bad a condition; for they hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.

3. Hence we observe the formal Object of Displeasure: Not Creatures, but Sinners: [86]Wherefore doth a living Man complain, a Man for the Punishment of his Sin?

But in the last place.

When I consider these two Verses together, the former Verse declaring the Sum and Substance of the Gospel, That whosoever doth believe the Gospel, and live according to it, shall finally be saved: <269> And on the other side, God doth declare that all Ungodly and Unrighteous Men are the Objects of his Wrath. My Observation now is this:

That it is truly Evangelical and Apostolical, as well to decare the Wrath of God against those that do continue in Sin; as to hold forth the Grace and Goodness of God toward those that do repent and believe: For you have the one of these in the former Verse; and the other in the latter Verse: And great Ground for this: For,

1. It is always good, as a Means that doth promote the End.

2. It is the necessity of the Case: For we are very prone to Security and Self-flattery; and therefore it is well that we be admonished of our Danger.

3. All is not in us Ingenuity toward God.

4. We are compounded of different Principles: There is in us the [87]Law of the Members, as well as the Law of the Mind.

5. It is but plain dealing to the Unconverted and Apostates.

Now to apply this.

1. This may better inform those that are conceitedly wise, and undeceive them in their Partiality and Self-flattery. For some think, that in the Gospel-state we should make no use nor Improvement of the Threatnings of God. These are wise in their own Conceit; for you see the Apostle doth subjoin them.

2. It gives an account of the true Zeal of those that severely challenge Immorality. No Ignorance excuseth Immorality, in any Instance whatsoever: Whereas Invincible Ignorance doth Apologize for Infidelity in the chiefest point. The Reason is this; because for the great Points of Piety, Righteousness, Sobriety, and Temperance, God hath made every one to know them. But for the <270> Revelation of his Will, Men must be perswaded of God; and if God doth not make Application to Men, where he doth not give he doth not require. The Gospel Priviledges are not to give Protection to Sinners; but are Cities of Refuge for Penitents. They misunderstand the Affairs of Religion who take not all the Principles of Religion together, but do unsuitably distribute; not allotting seasonably to the several Constitutions their proper Portions. We take a great deal more care in the Affairs of our Bodies: in these we consider Mens present State and Condition: We consider Mens Age and Constitution; and govern our selves both to Quantity and Quality; for we know that Unseasonable and Unproportionable Food doth not nourish, but annoy with Humours, and our Body is the worse for it. So Spiritual Dainties are not to intoxicate the Head with Conceit, but to establish and make a healthy Constitution of Soul: And what is that, but to make a Man Ingenuous toward God; and in Religion, Rational and Intelligent.

Lastly. I take notice of the Boldness and Presumption of such obstinate and rebellious Sinners; who notwithstanding this Proclamation from the Majesty of Heaven, That the Wrath of God is declared against all Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of Men; yet dare to assume to themselves Power and Authority to controul the established Law of everlasting Goodness, Righteousness, and Truth; and to vary from the Reason of things, to gratifie their own Sense, please their own Humour, and so take upon them to unsettle things established from Eternity. What shall we say of such? And yet the Atheistical and Prophane do this. We must say of them, That [88]their Condemnation is just: [89]Their Judgment lingers not; and <271> their Condemnation sleepeth not. For if a Man be Exemplary in Wickedness; if he seduce others by ill Practice; if he be an open Scandal to Government; we think it is necessary to cut him off, that others may not sin by his Example. So that we need not wonder at the Judgments of God in this World; nor the future Condemnation of the Wicked and Prophane.


Discourse XIX.

The Illustrious Manifestations of God and the Inexcusable Ignorance of Men.

Rom. 1. 19, 20.

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath Revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him from the Creation of the World are clearly seen, being Understood by the things that are made, even his Eternal Power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

[90]Though I intended no further, yet considering how full and pregnant this Scripture is, against the affected Atheism of a degenerate and an Apostate World; I shall not yet take my self off.

In the former Verse the Apostle doth affirm, that all Ungodly and Unrighteous Persons do hold the Truth in Unrighteousness: All impious, Prophane and Atheistical Persons, all Unrighteous Men, all controulers of the Right of things, all intemperate Persons, are Men that Sin against Principles of Conscience, they imprison Truth, and sin against their Light; they go against the dictates of true Reason, they go against their very make; they know they do evil and are self-condemned in what they do. Now this being a great assertion, and an affair of Life and <273> Death, the Apostle proceeds to Prove it; and these Words contain the Apostles Argument. He proves it thus, because God is Universally knowable: of which Argument, before I do proceed to Discourse further, I have something to premise.

In that the Apostle takes upon him to Prove by Reason, I observe three Things.

1. A Check and Controul to the forward and presumptuous imposers on Men, that take upon them to Dogmatize, and are angry with all Persons that will not take up with their sense, and be concluded by it.

2. I here observe that the great points of Religion stand upon the Grounds of truest Reason; for the Apostle here proceeds to prove by Reason.

3. The Dealings of God with his Creatures are accountable by Reason; for some Men think that it is nothing but God’s Will and Pleasure, that they are challenged for Lawless and unlawful Practises.

Now if this were not the way of God, a way worthy of Truth; I would ask why this Apostle might not refer his Auditory to his extraordinary Commission from Heaven? But he declines that, and takes upon him to prove by Reason. But this great Truth is hereby hinted to us, that the way of Reason is the way most accomodate to Humane Nature. Therefore let us lay aside imposing upon one another, or using canting in Religion: Let us talk sense and Reason. The Apostle here doth take upon him to shew by Reason; and this doth God himself, who hath all Perogative and Priviledge; he saith that he will draw with the [91]cords of a Man; and what is that but by Argument; and Reason? Certainly therefore it were well becoming the Church of Rome, who doth so highly pretend to Apostolical succesion, it would become this Church, to shew by Evidence of Reason, that their twelve supernumerary <274> points of Religion, upon which we leave them, that there is Reason for them. It is an Apology for any finite fallible Creature, if he be mistaken, yet to have some Reason for his persuasion; and if he be out, if he can but shew why he did so think, we may have him excused. ’Tis double security, and a high advantage to any teacher or instructer, to have in readiness to shew, that what he saith, is not his private Opinion, but is in conjunction with the Reason of things. The Reason of Things, in all matter of Natural knowledge; and Revelation in Scripture, for all matters of Faith; are the only Rules. Let every Man that takes upon himself to impose upon others, let him think that it doth become him to shew by Reason, and the Evidence of Truth, if in a matter of God’s Creation: If it be a matter of Faith; by Text of Scripture.

But now for the Apostles Argument: That all that in the Language of the Scripture are Sinners, all that are impious or Unrighteous, they go against the Principle of Natural Conscience, and are self-condemned. And his Argument is, because God made Man to know that he himself is; For the invisible things of him, i.e. his eternal Power and Godhead are plainly known and understood from the Creation of the World. That is the highest date of a Creature. For a Creature cannot bear date before God himself; but a Creature bears date from the Creation. Now this is that that I am to declare against all the Atheistical and Prophane in the World, that the works of Creation, and Providence are sufficient to satisfie all Rational Creatures, of the being of God; the being of God Almighty and all his natural Perfections are plainly seen by the Effects of God’s Creation. And this is necessary, in the first Place, to Religion and Conscience, that Men may be made to know there is a God: [92]For what is Piety? Piety is Justice toward God: A Man is pious that doth his Natural Ho <275> mage to God as his Soveraign. And what is Conscience in Man? [93]Conscience is Knowledge in us with God. We know, and God knows. Secondly, It is Antecedent to Faith. There is an impossibility there should be any Faith in the World, unless there were a Natural Knowledge of God. For belief is receiving something from God: And if a Man be not made to know there is a God, he may ask as Pharaoh did, when any one comes to speak in his Name, [94]Who that is? Thirdly, It is Fundamental to God’s requiring Duty of Man, and his judging the World; for if God had not made Man to know that he is, Man could not be under Obligation of Duty to God, and no more liable to demand and challenge than the Beasts. And how then could God govern the World? So therefore how the Atheist doth go about to demolish all!

Beza doth excellently gloss upon these Words. [95]This Natural Knowledge of God, saith he, is wraped up in the Inwards of Men’s Minds and Souls; that Men, whether they will or no, whether they be pleased or disaffected, whensoever they look into themselves, and answer their very make; so often they are convinced, and satisfied that there is a God; and if they are averse, they are self-confounded. So that if a Man be devoid of the sense of God; either it is where there never was one worthy Thought, never any thing becoming Man’s Principles, no Product of Reason and Understanding, but where a Man ceaseth to be in his kind: This is Atheism by gross self-neglect: And this Man lives every day to be less and less, he lives to be no Body: Or secondly if not such a Man who is devoid of the sense and knowledge of God, then he is one whose Affection it is to be an Atheist. He would fain have it so, and this is his desire; and he struggles, and does what he can to keep all thoughts of God out of his Mind, that he may freely and without controul, commit <276> Spiritual Fornication with the Creature: Or, Thirdly, where there is Reprobacy of Mind, by violent and Unnatural Practices; where Men by wicked Practices, have contracted Reprobacy of Mind, and have wrought out of themselves the sense of Humane Nature, and made void all the Principles of God’s Creation: And this is often mention’d in Scripture, That Men by an Ill, and Unnatural Use of their Principles, have wrought out the Natural sense they have had of God in their Minds: By wickedness Men’s Minds come to be blinded. [96]Aristotle tells us, that the wickedness of Men’s Lives and Practices, vitiates and corrupts the Judgments of their Minds and Understanding.

Therefore I conclude, that if any one that is born a Man in the use of his Reason, hath no sense of Deity; either he is an Atheist by gross self-neglect; or by Affectation; or one that by wicked Practice hath contracted Reprobacy of Mind, and wrought out of himself the sense of Humane Nature and made void all the Principles of God’s Creation.

But to prevent any ones mistake, I will here distinguish between the materials of Religion.

There be the materials of Natural Knowledge. They are the things I am speaking to, and those God made Man to know: Nothing more Knowable in the World than these; Piety toward God, Sobriety and Temperance in the Government of our selves, and Justice and Righteousness in our dealings one with another. These are immutable and indispensible Truths, and every Man is under an Obligation to them.

But then for Articles of Faith. These are the Resolutions of the Divine Will, and only knowable by God’s Voluntary Revelation and Discovery: And to this purpose the Bible is God’s Instrument in the World: And concerning these no Man <277> can know but by Revelation from God. Secrets of Men none knows but he to whom he will Reveal them: So of God.

But that there is a God Almigty; it is the most evident thing in Reason: And I am confident no Man can prove any thing in Reason, if he cannot prove that there is a God. It is knowable from the Creation: It is Knowable from Effects, within the Cognizance of Humane Faculties. I conclude this with an Argument out of Tully thus. [97]Man himself being an Intelligent Agent, an Agent of the highest Order, Ability and Perfection in this visible World; and finding that his highest Principle, his Understanding, is transcended by sundry Effects of Wisdom and Power, whereto he well knows he can make no pretence at all; he therefore cannot avoid acknowledging a higher Agent than himself. This is Tully’s Argument: And this comes to the Apostles Argument in the Text. The Reason of Man is over-born by the Effects in Nature: Therefore these are the Effects of an Intelligent Agent more Wise, more Strong, more Perfect, than our selves. And he must needs be good, because he communicates to us below him.

Thus stands the Argument. Things that do excell, and go beyond the direction, and guidance, and knowledge of us Intelligent Agents, do plainly discover an external Mind guiding, governing and disposing of them; which Mind must be antecedent and Original to Mind in us: And Mind in Man can be no more than in Resemblance, and in some Measure of participation of that Mind which is primary, Original and independant: And our Participation is in measure, Proportion, and Degree. And where Mind and Understanding in Man is Over-born, nothing else can make a pretence: For there is nothing below Man that hath either the perfection of Memory, Mind, or Cogitation: Nothing below <278> Man that can recal by Memory things that are past, or can foresee things that are future; and comprehend all things that are coexistent; to look backward, and make them as present; to forsee future Effects, out of their antecedent Causes; and to comprehend all things present. And therefore there being nothing below Man that can attain these Effects which the Mind of Man doth; then if the mind of Man is over-born, if Man cannot, nothing else can; and if Man cannot, they have some other cause. For Man being the highest order in the visible World, the cause that doth attain Effects higher than he can reach to, must be more intelligent at least, and primarily Original, and independant. And we ought to imagine a more sagacious and plainly Divine Mind, whence Man hath got to himself, Knowledge and Understanding, by participation: We ought to acknowledge such a Mind in the ordering those things, which the greatest diligence in Man cannot reach. For since it is beyond Man’s reach, and understanding, thought, invention, and comprehension; it is an Argument that there is a God. If I have this Notion, that there is an Intelligent Agent, who doth infinitely transcend me, then I have a Right Notion of God: And all that is secondary, owes Obedience, and Service, and ought to do homage. Now can any Man have a better Argument, or that that is more accommodate to his Principles than this? If there be that in the Nature of things, that Mind and Understanding in Man can never bring about, govern, nor controul; then it follows, that something Greater, Higher, and Wiser than Man, doth effect it, dispose it, and govern it. And now I am to prove the assumption, that there are such Effects in the World: Particularly,

(1.) The Variety, Curiosity, and Accurateness of Nature. We can in the use of our Understand <279> ings only follow after God, take some Cognizance of him in his Works. Now there are such things in Nature, that the Mind of Man bears no proportion to.

(2.) Again: I instance in the Proportion that things bear to one another. And this is Solomon’s Argument in Eccl. 7. 14. and Ecclesiastes 3. 11. To what purpose would be the visive Faculty, if not Light and Colours? The Power of Hearing, if not Sounds? The Power of Taste, if things not Fitting? Now this Fitting of things to things, sheweth, that these things are the Effects of the highest Reason, and most perfect Intelligence.

(3.) In the next place, I insist on the Order, Course, and Motion of the Heavenly Bodies; their Light and Influence; which is so exact, that whereas we say, that quick Motion sets all on fire, there is the quickest Motion, and yet no Exasperation, or Conflagration; because there is no interfering.

(4.) In the next place, I instance in the place of Fire, Water, Earth and Air: The interchangeable Intercourse and Necessity of the Wind, to fan the Air; which would otherwise putrifie and corrupt. Likewise the Motion of the Sea: For Waters standing putrifie; yet these have their interchangeable Serenities and Calmness.

(5.) In the next place: The change of the Seasons of the Year, the Usefulness of them, and the Necessity of them. So it is ordered, that, so far as may be, the whole World hath a just Proportion of Day and Night; and so answerable, a proportion of Cold and Heat.

Now these Diversities do declare, that the Efficient was an Intelligent Agent. And since we that are the highest Intelligents in this visible World, are at a loss; therefore we are forced to acknowledge, that there is an Intelligent Agent of greater Ability than we our selves are.


(6.) I proceed further. The Provision in Nature to maintain and water the Earth; the want of which is the Mother of Drought; and Drought is the Principle of Barenness. And this Provision is both from above and from below. Now we observe, that Water, and so every thing, doth gather it self to its like. What therefore is it that hinders the mighty Clouds, and the mighty Seas, that they do not come together? So we may be drowned by that by which we are provided for. This is nothing else but the Contrivance of a wise Agent: This you have in the first Chapter of Genesis. The Waters above the Firmament, and the Waters under the Firmament[98], the great Sea: And God keeps these asunder; and we walk in the midst of them, and seem to be in danger to be destroyed by the Clouds and by the Sea, which would affect to come together, but that the Infinite Wisdom hath assigned them Bounds. Now when we consider these things, though we see not God with our Eyes (for we see not our own Souls by bodily Sense; they being too subtil for bodily Sense.) I say, when we consider these things, we cannot doubt of the Maker, Moderater, and Governour of so great a Work, and so great a Performance. And though he be invisible to our Sense, yet our Understanding may find him out; for Mind and Understanding are a peculiar Faculty for God, to seek after God.

Now this is a just Explication of the Text, which saith, that the Deity is plainly understood by the things that are made; which is an Argument from the Reason of things. For a Miracle a Man may call in question many ways; but if any Man produce an Argument taken from the Reason of things, it will stay upon the Understanding, and will convince and satisfie: And the more a Man thinks of it, the more he will be assured.


Now, it may be, some will be so severe, as to condemn this way to be used in Matters of Religion. Such I would desire to consider the course God took to convince Job. Read but four Chapters in the Book of Job, 38, 39, 40, and 41. Where God humbles Job, and brings him down from his Confidence; by Demonstrations of himself, taken from the Effects of Nature, and from the wonderful Providence of God, in first making them, and then governing them.

I proceed. If the World Natural, and the things that are there, do clearly demonstrate and prove the Existence of a God; the World of Inanimates, Vegetables, and Insensibles: Then it is absurd for a Man to deny the Government of the All-wise God in the Affairs of the World Moral: By that I mean of Spiritual Substances; Substances endued with Reason and Understanding, and invested with the Royal Priviledge of Liberty and Freedom; who act out of consideration and foresight: And this upon a threefold consideration.

First. In as much as the Performance is Nobler and Higher, and therefore more Divine. If the Effects of the World Natural do clearly prove God’s Superintendency and Guidance, and do presuppose the Existence of a Deity; then much more is there a Superintendency over the Affairs of the World Moral; because this is Nobler and Higher; and therefore more Divine.

Secondly. In as much as the Consequents, Effects, and Motions of the World Moral, are of far greater Import than the Motions of the Word Natural: Because upon the Motion of the World of Rational and Intelligent Agents, who are voluntary and free; there is attained, either the Perfection of Moral Goodness and Vertue, or else there is the Defection of Vice.


Thirdly. In as much as the Failings and Miscarriages are of far greater mischief: It is an Act of more Deformity and Ugliness, for an Intelligent Agent to depart from the Rule of Right and Reason; to be in any thing Exorbitant, or hurried on by base Ends: It is a more shameful Miscarriage, than if the Sun should cease to enlighten the World, and ever hereafter fill the World with Darkness and Stench. For, a Man is an Agent of a higher Order, and to follow the Order of Reason, is as natural to Intelligent Agents, as it is natural for the Sun to shine, or Fire to burn; and if he depart from his Nature, there is a far greater Miscarriage, than if the Natural Agents should depart from their Natures, and attain contrary Effects. For it is according to the weight of Nature, in the lower Creation; and according to the Dictates of true Reason in the higher World of Souls and Spirits. And as all things in the World Natural, when they are from their Centre, move to their Centre, and in their Centre have rest: So in the higher World, Mind and Understanding moves toward God, is restless till it comes to him. Reasonable Souls, torn off from God, are like dead Leaves that fall off from Trees.

While Mind and Understanding rest in God, are in Motion to him, employ’d about him; Mind and Understanding is in its proper Use, and natural Employment: But if you rend and tear Mind and Understanding from God, it shrivels up, shrinks, and comes to nothing; and never enjoys it self, till it return to God again.

Thus the Being of God, and his Natural Perfections, are understood from the things that are made


Discourse XX.

The Illustrious Manifestations of God, and the Inexcusable Ignorance of Men.

Rom. 1. 20.

For the invisible things of him from the Creation of the World are clearly seen, being Understood by the things that are made, even his Eternal Power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

[99]From the date of a Creature (for from the Creation is such) the things that are Invisible to sense, are clearly seen to Reason and Understanding: That is, that there is a God, and his Natural Perfections. And since this Scripture and other Scriptures use no other Arguments to prove there is a God, (for Revelation cannot prove it: For Revelation supposes it) therefore it is indispensibly necessary, to all Religion and Conscience, that a Man be made to know there is a God, otherwise than by Testimony; for there can be no Testimony in this, because it is the first Truth: I therefore keep to my Text, and demonstrate an Antecedent cause, by subsequent Effects: and whereas I have hitherto only shewed you, that there is a God, as the first Agent that hath made things in such Proportion, and due Measure, with so much exactness and curiosity, with so much of Wisdom, that we cannot but own an Agent wiser than our selves, and more Intelligent: Now I will shew you by four Arguments that it is <284> more Knowable that there is a God, than any thing else is knowable.

First, More knowable in respect of the Amplitude and fulness of being that is in him. [100]For this we resolve in Philosophy, Things are with difficulty understood, where they are of Exile Entities. We know not the modes of any thing: We know nothing about our selves, as to the mode: We know not the manner of our own sleeping, or awaking: No Man knows how his Body and Soul is united: how from the same Root, as from a Tulip, such variety of Colours: We know Modes no where, because of the Exility and Tenuity of Entity: We are puzzled in Philosophy to know what time is, what place is. It is not because of their fulness of Being, but their littleness of Being: We sooner find out the Sun, than a lesser Light; we sooner find out the Sea, than a little Fountain. So God is more knowable, because of the fullness of his Being, than things that are of shallow narrow Beings.

Secondly, the ways of our knowing do more truly hold of God than any thing else in the World. We have two ways to know; [101]by way of Perfection, and [102]by way of Negation: In both these ways we come to a more certain knowledge of God, than of any thing else in the World. First, by way of Perfection. We need not fear to say too much of God. If we speak of Man’s Soul, or of an Angel in Glory, we may speak too much: But of God, we cannot speak too much. If I would do the most for my Maker that is possible, I would employ my Mind to find out what is best, and most perfect; and then Attribute it to God. For though finite Understandings may fall short, yet this is the utmost Improvement of our Faculties: Neither can I report of him better than what my Reason and Understanding tells me, is upon every account, best and Perfectest. So in the way of Negation: We can never re <285> move circumscription, Limitation, imperfection, far enough from God, Now whereas it is spoken in Scripture; the Eyes of God,[103] the Hands of God,[104] by way of accommodation to us; we must not Understand these things formally, but by way of accommodation to our Understandings. Now here we are at a loss: When we have done our most, we must say, God is beyond what finite and limited Understandings can lay out.

Thirdly. Our Relation to him. [105] We stand nearer related to God than to any thing in the World: Our Souls and Bodies are not nearer related, than our Souls and God. So the Apostle saith, In him we live, and move, &c. We are his Off-spring, Act. 17. 28. And then, it is the natural and proper Employment of Mind and Understanding, to make search and Enquiry after God. That we should seek the Lord, if happily we might feel after him, and find him.[106] Mind and Understanding in Man are given him on purpose to come after God, and to enquire into him, and find him out: So that there is a greater Naturalness of a Man’s Intellectual Faculties to God, than of his Eyes to Light, or his Ears to Sounds. And it is a greater Deformity for a Man to be intellectually blind or deaf, than to be blind so as not to see, or deaf so as not to hear.[107]

Fourthly. Our Dependance upon God, and his Conservation of us, and Co-operation with us; this leads us to know him. [108]Universal and general Causes have a ready acknowledgment; because to them so many things are beholden.[109] Take any Man of any Sobriety of Mind, if he do but relate a Story of any thing that befel him, he doth interpose, as God would have it: Or if he did any thing wisely, as God put it into my Mind. Since therefore there is such a Naturalness between God and our Souls; how is it possible but that we should know that he is? Any Man, that is in any Degree <286> Spiritual and Intellectual, and not altogether sunk down into Sense and bruitish Affections: He doth find and feel in himself, that there are Foreign Suggestions and Whispers, that do direct him better, and carry him beyond his own Mind and Resolves. Men feel God (unless it be the Atheist) in his Divine Motions, Suggestions, and Inspirations. For this I will quote you some Scriptures. [110]But there is a Spirit in Man; and the Inspiration of the Almighty giveth them Understanding. I do not believe God would have made Spirits Finite and Fallible, if he did not intend himself to guide and direct such Spirits. The Psalmist in Psalm 94. 10. saith, ’Tis he that teacheth Men Knowledge; Shall not he know? It is brought as an Argument, that God doth infinitely know; because he teacheth Man Knowledge. Now an Argument is a thing that is known, and that Men will not call in question. He proves therefore, that God must be of a Universal Knowledge; because he teacheth Man Knowledge. This is therefore that that the World is well acquainted with, that God doth inspire Men, and teach Men Knowledge: And this is that I superadd. Now I infer,

First. The Excellency of that we call Religion. It is no Stranger to Humane Nature; nor any of the eminent notable Acts of it: Such as Apprehension of God, Faith and Affiance in him, Dependance on him, Subjection to him, Observance of him, Compliance with him.. {sic} None of these things are Strangers to Humane Nature. They are things natural: No Ground in the World more apt to produce any Plant from Seed sown in that Ground, than this Nature of Man is apt to produce these Effects. It is not only a State of the foulest Deformity, but also of greatest Violence; to be without God in the World. Man contradicts his own Principles, and departs from himself, when <287> he falls off from God. No such Monster in the World, or more to be marvelled at, than a Man devoid of the Sense of Deity; as Men having [111]no fear of God before their Eyes.

Secondly. Here you have an account of the Use of Reason in matters of Religion. Religion; there is in it the Natural knowledge of God, and the knowledge of the Revelation of his Will. Now the Natural knowledge of God, that is the very issue, effect and product of Reason: And then Revelation, which is the other part, is the Resolutions and voluntary Determinations of the Divine Will. These Reason is made acquainted with, and is the Recipient of them. For to whom doth God declare, but to Intelligent Agents? So that you see Reason hath great place in Religion. For all Natural Knowledge is the Effect and true issue of Reason. And if things be declared as the Council of God’s Will and Product of his Pleasure, Reason receives them: The Resolves of his Will are communicated to Reason. Now in both these ways, we are Taught of God. In the former, we are made to know: In the latter we are called to partake of God’s Counsel. In the former, we know that God is, and what his Nature is; and in the latter way, we know what God would have, and what he enjoyns as fit to be done by us, in order to our future Happiness.

Thirdly. I do then conclude and observe from hence, that there is no invincible Ignorance in any part of the World; as to the great Rights, the famous Rights, the eminent Rights: And I will tell you what I mean by these, viz. That God is to be worshipped and adored: That there is a difference between Good and Evil, upon a Moral account: That just and honest, are universally to be performed: That that which is upon a Moral account filthy, is to be avoided. Every one that is in Humane <288> Nature and is come to the use of Reason, knoweth; or may know this. Nature and Reason, where violence is not offered, hath sense of these four things. We are wont to say of positive Institutions and Laws, there is no Plea for the violation of them, after they are duly published: Now if no Plea for positive Institutions, after publication; much less an Apology for the violation of these Laws, that are born Laws, that are Laws suo jure; such as are founded in the Principles of Humane Nature, and necessary in themselves; and not the Arbitrary Results of any Will or Power whatsoever. Such as are the Laws of observance of God, Righteousness to our Neighbours, and Sobriety as to our selves. If a Man varies from these Laws, he contracts Guilt to his Conscience, and is condemned by the sence of his own Mind. If this be not true, there is no certain Foundation in the World for that which we call Religion, or Conscience.

Fourthly. I observe that Reason is so far from doing any disservice to Christian Faith, that it fits Men to receive it. For Man in the true use of his Reason, knowing that he hath not performed his Duty to God, and being sensible that he is short and hath failed; Reason puts him upon Deprecating God’s displeasure, and to think that God, who is the first and chiefest Good, will certainly be ready to commiserate the case of a finite Creature that miscarried, and doth Repent and Return to Duty. And this is Gospel; and this is that that Jesus Christ came into the World to confirm. So far is Reason from being prejudicial to any Articles of Faith, that it puts Men upon looking out, and enquiring after every good Word that drops from the Mouth of God: And taking up the Bible, and finding, That God is in Christ reconciling the World to himself, Reason saith, This is that I did expect: I did believe such a <289> thing from the first and chiefest Good; and now I am assured of it by the Gospel.

Fifthly, and Lastly. Since the great things of Religion and Conscience are committed to Reason to keep and secure, why should we think the Reason of a Man may not be trusted with those things that are of lesser Moment. We need not doubt or question upon account of Conscience, any thing that lyes upon us to do, if there be no Prohibition from God (for which look into the Scripture) if the thing be not in it self Irrational, or Absurd. I say, provided there be no positive place of Scripture that doth declare concerning God, where there is no positive Resolution; we need not doubt in point of Conscience, to do one way, or other; if we do not that that is Irrational and Absurd.

Our Apostle hath asserted, and I think we have made it plainly appear, that God is universally knowable; both that he is, and what are his Natural and Essential Perfections: Yea, that he is most knowable, upon several Accounts; so that all those that are impious and Prohane, are without all Plea, Apology, and excuse.

There is a natural sense of Deity in every Rational Soul: And this is Fundamental to all Religion: And this the Apostle doth plainly resolve. The eternal Power and Godhead are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made: And this is an Argument to an Atheist, unanswerable; and a Reason satisfactory to the highest Understanding, and most pure Mind: to wit, from these Operations of God in his Creation and Government of the World; which do far exceed Mind and Understanding in the most refined Soul in the World: Therefore Mind and Understanding cannot Attribute these effects to any Principle inferiour to it self; but to one highly transcendant: And if he doth so, he doth acknowledge God. There is none that have <290> the use of Reason, but either they know there is a God, or else are Ignorant through their own default. I say, concerning the whole World Moral, either they know there is a higher Agent, of more perfect Intelligence than Man, or they might have known it: if they are Ignorant, they are Ignorant through their own own fault; either through the Neglect of their own Faculties, or through an Inobservance of the great Effects of God in the World; which shew and declare what he is: Therefore nothing more inexcusable, than Ignorance of God, and disregard of him in the World: So that they are without excuse.

To pursue the Argument a little further. The Scripture doth thus Represent the State of Man’s Creation, that the proper Employment of Mind and Understanding, is to seek, search, and enquire after God, Acts 17. 27. That they should seek the Lord if haply they might feel after him and find him. The Words in the Greek are εἰ ἄρα γε ψηλαφήσειαν God gave a Man Mind and Understanding, to make enquiry after God, if possibly he might feel him: Feel him, that is by a Spiritual touch, when the Mind is clear, and free, and undisturbed. God did never intend that Reason and Understanding in Man should ever be adjudged to be a hewer of Wood, or a drawer of Water: but for observance of God, attendance upon him, taking Cognisance of him. This is that the Wise Man Solomon hath observed. [112]The Spirit of Man is the Candle of the Lord. A place which upon this Occasion I always observe: A Candle is a thing first lighted, then lighting: So that Mind and Understanding is first made Light, by Divine Influences; and then enlightens a Man, in the use thereof, to find out God, and to follow after him in Creation, and Providence: And we find Degeneracy is thus described in Holy Scripture, [113]They have no fear of God before their Eyes. [114]Without God in the <291> World; [115]and God is far from their Reins. And it is the Fool’s sense, [116]that there is no God. There is a Natural, and indelible sense of the Deity in every Man’s Soul: And consequently he is under a Duty of Religion. And he that denies this, I do not know upon what any one can build an Argument. It fairly lies before every Man, when he useth his Reason and Understanding, to contemplate the various Effects in the World; to find out an Agent that is intelligent, and superiour to Mind and Understanding in Man. Aristotle he saith, that the Heavens could not move, because they are inanimate beings, if they were not assisted by a Superiour and Intelligent Agent:[117] And if I bring any Man to acknowledge, that there is such an Intelligent Agent; then either it is God, or it doth acknowledge a Superiour; for if it depend upon a higher, I ascend still ad Infinitum. There is therefore no Plea nor Apology for want of the sense of Deity: And this I will further make appear in these three particulars.

First, No invincible Difficulty lyes upon any Man, but that he may come to the Cognisance of a God.

Secondly, Invitations every where about a Man.

Thirdly, In the Christian World there is God’s Instrument the Bible, which gives a Man assurance and satisfaction.

First, No invincible Difficulty lyes upon any Man, but that he may come to the Cognisance of a God. Not the difficulty of Ignorance; for we are not taught this, but we are made to know there is a God. Secondly. Not of Impotency: For every Man may use his Natural Parts and Powers. Thirdly. No foreign Impediment: For it is a Transaction performed within a Man’s self; not subject to the controul of any Usurper that may Over-rule us, or take upon him Power to dispose us: For it is an elicite Internal act of the Mind; and the elicite Acts of <292> the Mind are exempt from all Power whatsoever. A Man may have Motion of Mind toward God, tho’ his Body be in Prison. So that, unless you can keep a Man perpetually from himself, you cannot keep him from Reflexion upon God, or other internal Acts. He said right who said, I am never less alone than when no Body is with me: For when I am most alone, then am I in the Cognisance of God, and Contemplation of him. Yea, there may be Motion of Mind and Understanding toward God, in any croud of Company; yea, a Man may be at leisure to make acknowledgments to God, and to own him, and observe him, and to issue forth toward him, though entangled in Business: For the Motion of the Sun is not quicker than the Motion of Mind and Understanding; a Man may take Cognisance of God, and he that talks with him, not perceive an Interruption. If any one be devoid of all sense of Deity; I declare it is the Malignity of the Subject, upon a three-fold account. First, because of the nearness of God to us: God is every where by the Effects of his Wisdom, and by the Fruits of his Goodness; and to us, God is all in all, Original, Final, and the Centre of our Souls. Secondly, because of the Sagacity of our Faculties. And Thirdly, because of the nearness of Light of Knowledge. Upon these three Accounts, every Man that is devoid of the sense of Deity, is in fault, and culpable.

Secondly, There are Invitations every where afforded us, to invite us to Acts of Acknowledgment, and taking Cognisance of God. I shall make this appear in three Particulars. First. The communications of God to us do awaken us: And what have we but by Divine Communication? All we have, and are, is by a Voluntary Communication from God. We are no where but Receivers. God is every where first, and the great Giver; God is he that bestows upon us, whatsoever we have: All our Enjoyments <293> are the Gifts of God; and therefore these speak something to us, from whom they come. It is the Natural sense of reasonable Souls. [118]Lord lift upon us the Light of thy Countenance. So that all the Communications of God lead us unto him. Secondly, the very Principles of Man’s make do incline him to God; all Mind and Understanding tends to to God: All things move to their Centre, and God is the centre of immortal Souls.[119] It is not more certain that heavy things fall downwards, and light things fly upward; than that it is Natural, and proper for Mind and Understanding to move toward God. Our Philosophers that never heard of the Bible, this they acknowledged. It is as God’s Money: Cæsars Money was no more properly his, than Mind and Understanding in Man, is God’s: For it bears his Impress. [120]The Soul of Man any ways by violence torn off from God, is like Leaves fallen off from the Trees, that pine, and fade, and wither away: But in God, who is their centre, they have rest, perfection and quiet. Thirdly, If we consider the whole Creation about us, they contribute, by way of Object, to God’s Glory: For they have not Ability to do it by way of Efficiency. No Voice in Nature so loud, no Language so easy to be Understood: Every Herb, every Plant imparts something of God. And this is the sense of the Psalmist when he saith, The Heavens declare the Glory of God, &c. Psalm. 19. that is, by way of Object; because they do awaken the capable Creatures; for Mind and Understanding in Man, is to see, and observe the Wisdom, and Power, and Goodness of God. For a Man cannot take Cognisance of the Regular Motion of the whole Creation; a Man cannot look abroad, but something or other sounds God in his Ears, and declares his infinite Wisdom, mighty Power, and great Goodness; for this is the Notion of Goodness to Communicate it self.


Thirdly, To speak a little more Home: These two are general and teach the whole Creation: Now my Third Argument is only to the Christian World. There is God’s superadded Instrument, the Bible, which doth contain matter of Revelation from God whereby also our Natural notices of God are awakened and enlivened. The Bible contains the Revelation of his Will, and the Effect of his Councils; these do further satisfie the Christian World, both concerning the existence of God, and what he is: And then in the Bible, there are these two things; the Consonancy of the things therein contained, with the things of Natural Knowledge: and the Report there made of God, agreeable to what Reason leads Men to think. These promote highly a true and just sense and consideration of God: Whereas one Neglective of himself in use of Naturals; not refined in respect of Morals; doth not Savour the things of God, thinks nothing rightly concerning him: He is uncapable of Revealed Truth, if in Contradiction to Natural Light, or wholly out of the use and exercise of it. And this is an Argument to a Philosopher: So that the Bible doth highly promote a just and due sense and consideration of God. Being disposed by the two former Arguments, this Book gives further assurance: So that here are my three Arguments. First, the Language of our own Souls within. Secondly, the Impressions of the Divine Wisdom throughout the whole Creation, and Objective Acclamations of all Creatures, carry us strongly on to the Knowledge of God. Thirdly. Holy Scripture comes in to the pursuance of these, to Repent and Reinforce them; so that he must needs be of a stupid Mind, or a havoked Conscience, or a dissolute and profligate in his Life and manners; that lives in the midst of so many speaking Arguments; and doth not spell out God, in this variety and curiosity of his Creatures; and doth not under <295> stand the audible Language of Heaven and Earth. Whatsoever Man endued with Mind and Understanding, partaker of Humane Nature, that hath no regard and apprehensions of God, as the first and chiefest Good, as the Original of our Beings, the Centre of our Souls, our utmost End; he hath confounded his Principles, lost himself in the World, sunk down into Sensuality and Brutishness, or else in a compromise with the Devil; for he is departed from his Nature, so that they are without excuse. God hath made himself so far knowable, both that he is, and what he is, by those great effects of Creation and Providence, that all that are partakers of Humane Nature, and are devoid of sense of God, are without excuse.

Now I conclude with some few Observations.

First. I take notice of the Infinite Patience of God, to endure such Monsters, so degenerated from their make; as Men of stupid Minds, havocked Consciences, and profligate lives, are. God hath endured the contradiction of Sinners, from Adams fall, to this Hour, Heb. 12. 3.

Secondly. Then the business of the Day of Judgment is very easy, on God’s Part; but very sad on degenerate Men’s Part. For God’s Work is prepared to his Hands: All Sinners are self-condemned: God doth but actum agere. But then sad on the Impenitents Part; for they have nothing left within them to bear them up; the very Reason of their Minds is against them. Nothing is more inherent to the Nature of Man, than for a Man to live up to the Dictates of sober and impartial Reason. Now if Men do not do so, when they come to consider, the very thoughts and sense of it will over-bear them, and they will be confounded in themselves. And this is that that is the Foundation of all inward Darkness; either not using the Principles of our Creation, or else abusing them, by complying <296> with the corrupt guise of the World, or what Mens own Lusts incline them too.

Thirdly. I take notice of the greatness of the Work of Reconciliation. A Man must be made whole in himself, or else he cannot be kept out of Hell. A Man cannot be at ease, until all that he hath sinfully done, be undone; and until right Judgment hath been renewed, which hath been violently forced; and regular Life and Conversation be restored. Now these are the materials of Regeneration. There is in Regeneration a Transformation of the whole inward Man, so far forth as he hath Apostatized. For he must be brought to comply with the unchangeable Laws of Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth; and to a right Use of his Faculties: All this must be done; and this must be done by Divine Illumination and Conviction; and by a Man’s giving consent, that all these things be done in him, and upon him. These three things must be: the sense of the Soul must have a Divine Impression upon it, which will carry a Man toward God; the Reason of the Mind in Reconciliation with the Reason of things; and severe and impartial Reason Govern and Rule in Life.


Discourse XXI.

The unnatural Ingratitude of the Ptofane, and Irreligious

Rom. 1. 21.

Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.

[121]I have given you an account from our Apostle, in the former Verse, of the Natural Knowledge of God: That is, that God hath made us all capable to know That he is; and in some measure, to conceive What he is, and what are his Essential Perfections, his Wisdom, Power, and Goodness: Upon which it follows, that Men do grievously miscarry, are very short, do not do that that is agreeable to their Natures, if they do not Glorifie God as God, neither are thankful.

I will only take notice of two things in all the Words of the Chapter that follow; that is,

I. The use and Improvement the Apostle makes of this Natural Knowledge of God, which he hath asserted; and

II. The mischievous Effects that follow upon Mens gross Neglect of this Knowledge of God, of which they are capable.


I. The use and improvement of this Principle, that God is fairly knowable by the Works of his Creation; if we awaken our Faculties, if we call our selves to consideration. And I think I have made it appear; that there is nothing more knowable, than that there is a God: And that there is a peculiarity in Mind and Understanding in Man to this purpose. Now this being considered, and here supposed, the Apostle brings in a Charge of a high Nature: For he makes it an Argument of Conviction, and self-condemnation to all those that are dissolute, impious, and profane; that Men do not answer their Natural Knowledge of God: That they knowing him, do not live in regard of him, have him not in reverence, do not obey him, love him, fear him, serve him, admire and adore him. And this will be the Condemnation of the whole World: And this will be the Article, upon which the World will be examined at the Day of Judgment; that Men were made to the knowledge of God, and they took no notice of him, neither Glorified him as God, neither were thankful.

But to follow the Text.

First. Here is the Fault, not to glorifie God, as God ; neither to be thankful.

Secondly. The conviction; that they knowing God, did it not. For nothing is more certain, than that Judgment should be the Rule of Action. And the contrary; knowing God, and yet being inobservant of him, neglective of Duty toward him, not to stand affected toward him, is the most unaccountable thing in the World; because every Man either hath, or might have knowledge, that there is a God: Nothing is more inherent to humane Nature, than sense of Deity. I cannot therefore do you better service, than first to give you an Account of this failure and miscarriage: When Men may be said, Not to <299> glorifie God, as God; when they do not do that on their Parts, that holds a proportion to the Manifestation that is made of God to them: Which account I will pick out of the several Verses of this Chapter, and give it you in five Particulars. And the

First is, Living without God in the World. Whosover lives without God in the World, doth not glorifie God as God: For he performs no Duty to him, takes no notice of him, makes no acknowledgment of him, hath not sense of his dependance upon God. This you have in the 28th. Verse, They did not like to retain God in their Knowledge: Which doth import a contrary Disposition, and an Aversation to God. Now this is apparently below Man’s Make, and short of the capacity of Humane Nature, and therefore to be accounted sottishness, stupidity, and impotency, or sinking below a Man’s Species. For as I have told you, Mind and Understanding is a peculiar Faculty Appropriate to God: It is that that is its peculiar and proper Employment, to make search after God, to be employed about him, to tender Homage and Service to him. Whosoever therefore lives without God in the World, he doth not do a Manly Act, Mind and Understanding in him are lost.

Secondly. For Men to entertain base Thoughts, and to have Unworthy Apprehensions of God: When Men Attribute that to him, that is much truer of the contrary and most degenerate Nature; and which is not at all becoming the first and chiefest Goodness (and so we understand God to be.) For those that are of malignant, spiteful, envious, naughty Dispositions; they think it is the excellency of God to be Revengeful.

The Psalmist hath observed it, in Psal. 50. 21. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thy self. And we find Men of narrow Spirits, have un <300> worthy suppositions concerning God; rendring him as an Enemy to Humane Nature: And it is a thousand to one but in these Men’s Divinity, the Excellency of the Deity is soveraignty, and to do what he would. But nothing is more certain than that Infinite Goodness doth toward the whole Creation, what is to the full worthy Infinite Goodness to do. And whereas we see indulgent Fathers, that can compassionate their Children; that can deny themselves, that can undo themselves, for their Children: I account this kindness in them, but a Participation from God, and Resemblance of him. The best Notion that you can have of God is, that he is Good: That he hateth nothing that he hath made: And that he would not have any to perish{.} The Psalmist saith, his tender Mercies are over all his Works, Psal. 145. 9. v. And it is an eminent saying of Jesus the Son of Syrac: The World is governed by a mild and gentle Spirit, that is Benign and Loving to Mankind. And were it not so, I do not see how we should live in the World: To think that God hath imposed upon himself a Law, or hath any way limited, or disabled himself at any time, to compassionate any compassionable case, this is an unworthy thought of the first and chiefest Good. To think that he is not most perfectly free in all futurity of times, to do that that is becoming Infinite Goodness, suitable to the Relation he stands in to his Creatures, is to make him less good than Earthly Parents. Two things a Man would abhor to have in his Thoughts concerning God; that God by Power can do that that is not right: or that by any Priviledge, his Kindness and Tenderness to his Creatures, may be abated: as in particular, not to Pardon Sin to a finite and fallible Creature upon his Repentance, and Reformation. It is as certainly true of God, as any thing that can be said of him; that <301> God hath laid a Foundation of Repentance; that Repentance is Available, and shall certainly take place; that Repentance doth alter the Case, and shall alter the Sinners Condition. To say that of God that doth any way Discountenance the Application of his Creatures to him, in any case of Misery and necessity, is not to Glorifie God as God. But to demonstrate this with the greatest clearness, this I superadd, That God is known to us, by Goodness: and there is no true Notion of God, unless the full Form, Essence and Substance of Good be fully in it: For there is no absolute Perfection but in conjunction with Goodness: It is a Divine work, to do good, and to gratifie; not to make havock, and to spoil: Wherefore God magnifies his Mercy, and Goodness, and Righteousness, his fair and compassionate and equal dealing, above all other his Names. The first thing in Religion is to have true suppositions, in ones Mind, concerning God;[122] and if any Man be wrong in this, he will mistake throughout. If we have not right suppositions in our Minds concerning God, we shall withdraw from him, leave him, yea hate him, and seek for Happiness somewhere else.

But Thirdly. For Men to assume to themselves Power and Authority to assign a Mean of Worship:[123] Some material thing, either Representative of God, or Exhibitive of him: Some Instrument in Divine Worship, without God’s warrant; or which is not accountable in the way of Reason; this is not to glorifie God as God, for this is to limit him, and confine him. This you have in the two following Verses. 23. Verse, Changing the Glory of the uncorruptible God into an Image made like to corruptible Man, &c. and Verse 25. changing the Truth of God into a Lie, and Worshipping the Creature above the Creator: Which I chuse rather to translate; [124]Worshipping the Creature in Conjunction with the Creator: For never <302> was there such a thing in the World, as worshiping the Creature above the Creator; but worshipping the Creature in conjunction with the Creator: And this fits the Idolatry both of the Gentile World, and of the Jews, and is continued in the Romish Church to this Day, in their use of Images. The Jews made a Calf, which though the Text calls so in contempt, it was the Resemblance of an Angel. They would have something that should make Divine Representation, that should be to them as Moses was.[125] Can any one think the Jews were so stupid and sottish, as to think that it was the God that made Heaven and Earth, that they made with their Hands? or that their Calf brought them out of Egypt? And it is not reasonable to imagine the Heathen World did otherwise. But the Idolatry of the World hath lain in the mean of Worship, not in the Object of Worship. The Idolatry of the World hath been this, without God’s Warrant or the true Dictates of impartial Reason, to confine the Deity to be contained in some Material thing, or to raise some material Things to distribute Divine Influence: And this is that that is prohibited in the second Commandment, and is the Reason that it is Moral and Perpetual. And this is plain in the Text, and over and over again in this Chapter: And this is plainly in the Language of these Words, not to glorifie God as God.

Fourthly. For Men to Degenerate in the way of Wickedness, and Naughtiness; in contradiction to the Nature of God, the Law of Right, and Dictates of Reason: And this is plainly in the 29th, 30th, and 31st. Being filled with all Unrighteousness, Fornication, Wickedness, Covetousness, Maliciousness; full of Envy, Murder, Debate, Deceit, Malignity, Whisperers, Back-biters, Haters, of God, Despiteful, Proud, Boasters, Inventers of evill Things, disobedient to Parents, without Understanding, Covenant-breakers, without Na <303> tural Affection, Implacable, Unmerciful. They that are thus, put themselves into an Incapacity to Glorifie God as God: For nothing is more inherent to the Nature of Man, nothing more Natural to him, nothing more expected by God, than that Man do observe and govern himself by the Law of Nature and the Dictates of Right Reason. According to the Nature of God, according to the Principles of Righteousness, and according to the Reason of things, these are Laws which are not controulable; and whosoever dasheth himself against these Laws, or is in contradiction to them, he doth kindle in himself the Fuel of Tophet burning; which can never be put out, unless there be Repentance, and Reformation. For what have we to offer unto God? we have nothing to give to God; but herein we glorifie him, when we are like him, when we endeavour to be that in our Measure, that God is in excellency and fullness.[126] For this is the Sum of Religion, when we imitate that which we Worship. Now all the ways of God are ways of Truth, Righteousness, and Judgment; and if we are under the Divine influence, then the Fruit of the Spirit is in us, in all Goodness, and Righteousness, and Truth. This is in some measure to exhibit God, by imitating him; and this is the true explication of God’s doing all for his own Glory, when he doth, in the Government of the World, take care that Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth, have a universal Empire: And we do that that is for the Glory of God, when we do that that is Right, and Good, and Just, and Fit, and are subordinate in our Sphere to the Acts of God in the Government of the World. It is too narrow and Childish a conceit, to think that God doth all for his own Glory, as we do for our selves. But God takes care that in the whole Creation, Truth and Righteousness, and Justice and Equity take place: And this is the Genuine Expli <304> cation of God’s doing all for himself: Not that it is possible for God to receive any thing, either from Man or Angel. So this is to glorifie God, to Resemble him, and to be that in our proportion, which he is in fullness: Then we act for the Glory of God, when we set our selves in a way of subordination, to serve those glorious Ends of Goodness, Righteousness, and Truth. None dishonour God more than those, who by Degeneracy pass into a Nature contrary to his; that do such Actions, that God doth set himself to discountenance in the World. Let us therefore rectifie our Apprehensions in this great Truth, of God’s doing all for himself: That is, God doth take care that those things that are according to his Nature, and according to his Mind and Will, may be done in the World: And whosoever do not endeavour to have their Nature reconciled to these Laws, these Men do not glorifie God as God. No sort of Sacrifice is acceptable to God, where naughtiness is in the Heart, and Wickedness in the Life, and Practise: The Prayer of the Wicked is an abomination to the Lord.

Fifthly and Lastly. Which I take from the next Words, being unthankful; and truly had I said nothing, now I should have said enough: To have worthy Thoughts of God, and to be well affected toward him, is the Sum of our Devotion: And I look upon this to be an Explication of the first Part of the Verse. For he that is truly Thankful to God, will certainly Glorifie him as God: For since we are so much beholden to him; since we owe so much to Divine Goodness and Kindness, and are so unable to make a Recompence; there is all the Reason in the World, we should make Acknowledgment. And indeed Thankfulness and Obedience are our truest Sacrifice.[127] And these are acceptable to God, and available on our behalf, Psal. 50. 23. This is an eminent piece of that Worship we call Imploration <305> (or Invocation) of God. Three things make proper Prayer matter; which if a Man keep too, and keep from Repeating, he cannot pray to loss. First, Confession of Sin, and desire of Pardon. And truly if Men live the lives of Christians, they will not have the same Sins to confess the next Time. The Second thing in Prayer, which is proper Prayer-matter, is an Acknowledgment of our Dependance upon God, with a sense of our own Weakness and Influence, with desires of Gods Direction, Influence, Grace and Assistance: And this is the great Matter of Prayer, and for this we come to God every day. And this is business for us, at our going into the World. And the Third thing is the Resentment of God’s Goodness, and Faithfulness to us, and Thankfulness for it. By the two former, we daily fetch from God: By the third (which is our Resentment and Thankfulness) by this only we bring to God; and this is our only Return, a grateful Sense, and Apprehension of the various Effects of Divine Providence over us, averting evil from us, and confering good upon us. This, as it expresses ingenuity of Spirit toward God, so it is the best we have in our Hands to bring to God: This one thing we have; and we have but this one thing that we call our own: God hath made us to have one thing that we may call our own; and yet, to prevent mistake, I do acknowledge it is the Grace of God with us; and that one thing is the consent of our Minds. Now, that we may be thankful, let us afford God the consent of our Minds, and make him ours, by our own voluntary Acts; make him our delight and choice, take pleasure, content and satisfaction in him: and this is the fullest and highest way of Thankfulness to God that we are capable of; out of a sence of his Excellency and Goodness, to reckon all our Happiness to consist in our <306> enjoyment of him, in our being and living in communion and acquaintance with him.

Thus have I given you an account of this great Failure, and grand Miscarriage, They glorified not God as God, neither were Thankful. Now I proceed to the Second thing I observed at first, the Argument of conviction. Here is the Aggravation, if Men do not glorifie God as God, they do it knowingly. Man knowing that he hath a Creator, of Infinite Wisdom, Power, and Goodness; he doth not regard him, obey him, love him, chuse him, and delight in him: And this is that that Aggravate it upon a four fold account.

First. Truth is a Seminal Principle, with which the Mind of Man being impregnated, should bring forth; and here should be neither Barrenness, nor any Abortion. For the Rational Nature is as Proportionable to its Effects, as any vital Principal whatsoever in the World. We should cry out a Prodigy and a Monster, if Natural Principles should not Produce their Effects. I testifie, that when God made a Rational Creature, he made a Creature more Proportionable to the Effects of Reason, and so to Religion, than when he made any Natural Principle in the World: And if a Man do not walk up to the Principle of Reason, he is a Monster. Truth received into the Mind by Knowledge, is to the Soul as Leaven to Meal, which presently Leavens the whole Lump. It is as Natural, that Will should follow, as that Understanding should go first. Truth in the Understanding, without Practice, is God’s Talent wrapped up in a Napkin{.} God doth Illuminate the Intellectual World of Spirits by Influence and Communication of himself, not to less purpose sure, than in Order to Act. Every one, so far as he knows, or may know; hath a Talent committed to his Trust; God doth expect Use, and Improvement. No such Ar <307> gument of Conviction, as for Men not to be that they know they ought to be; or not to do that, they know they should. Wheresoever God, who is the Father of Light and God of Truth, sends his Rays and Beams into the Souls of Men; there he expects the Mind should be purified as well as Enlightened.

Secondly. The imprisoning or controuling of Truth, is an Action of Injury and Offence beyond what we can easily imagine. He that stifles or goes against any Notion of his Mind, he gives a Check to God’s working with him; and dischargeth God from all further Action. For it is declared, that God’s works in us, to Will and to Do:[128] Now for us, thus to do, is to Reject him, where we most find him and feel him; and to strike at the very Image of God within our selves. And in this case, it is Wisdom’s Complaint Pro. 1. I have stretched out my Hands, I have invited you, I have called upon you; and you would none of my Counsel. This is that that will sink Men into ruin at the great Day, that God on his Part was not wanting; but Men were Wilful. This is condemnation, that we know better, than either we are or do. Now what would this naughty Disposition of Heart against God carry Men out to, if they had any Power and Opportunity against God? He that hath spite against that of God that is within him, would not he rise up against God himself, if he had Power and Opportunity? Where the Truth of God is inwardly disgusted, or disrelished, so as not to be concocted and turned into a Spiritual Nourishment, there is an exasperate and implacable Spirit against God himself.

Thirdly. Truth is con-natural to Man’s Soul; the Light is not more con-natural to our bodily Eyes. Truth is as natural to Man’s Soul, as Light to the Sun. And Truth in conjunction with a Man’s Mind, doth become the Temper of a Man’s Mind, and establisheth a Constitution; and therefore ought <308> to be kindly used. What Health is to the Body, that Truth is to the Soul; the former makes Men strong and vigorous, the latter clears the sight, and cures all the Infirmities of the Mind. What Obstructions are to the Body, that Contradictions to the Reason of the Mind, are to the Intellectual Life. If what we Eat and Drink be not first subdued by the Power of Nature, and then conveyed to the several Parts of the Body for their subsistance, it becomes Matter of Disease. Now Knowledge is the Food of the Soul, and therefore we are not ultimately to rest in Knowledge; but that that is Knowledge in the Mind and Understanding, should in Life and Conversation, produce obedience. For we begin by Knowledge, and end in Practice: And indeed Truth, and that that follows upon Truth, is the self-same thing materially, only called by several denominations in respect to different habitudes and distinct Functions and purposes. Truth is Knowledge in respect of the Understanding, Goodness in a Man’s Heart, &c. Understanding is not finally enlightned for it self; but as the Eyes receive Light for use and service, guidance, direction of the Body. Again, the Stomach in the Body Natural receives all, but it retains not upon its own account; it receives to prepare, and then to diffuse prepared matter to the other Parts of the Body. Just so the Understanding receives things, and discusses them; but then they are to have their Influence upon Life and Practice. First, the Understanding satisfies it self in the Reason of things, then the Will gives consent, and the Notion forthwith becomes matter of Action, Life, and Practice. The Understanding, as it comes into the World, the Philosophers tell us, is as Rasa tabula, or a white Sheet of Paper, whereon nothing is writ; but when it doth receive Notions of Truth, it is then Beautified with Ornaments, beyond the Beauty of Solomon in all his Glory; or, as <309> our Saviour saith, the transcendant Comeliness of the Lilly; such is the Understanding when it is illuminated: Truth, it is Glory, Light and Beauty to the Soul; it makes the Face of the Soul to shine and to appear fair and beautiful. It is the Soul’s companion, with which she doth Associate herself with great Complacency and delight. But on the contrary, as one shut up in a Dungeon of Darkness and Nastiness, so is one who is in a State of Ignorance, or hath his Mind depraved by Vice. Ignorance and Vice stupifie and deaden the Mind. There are four mischiefs from Darkness. First, It hinders Motion: no Man knows where to put his Foot next, when in the dark. Secondly. It puts Men in Danger of falls, and knocks. Thirdly. It spoils any Man’s Modesty: No Man blusheth in the Dark. Fourthly. It makes Men slavish and fearful. But Light hath all contrary advantages; It directs a Man in his way; it gives a Man security; for it discovers any thing that is Dangerous. It maintains the Minds Modesty and Ingenuity. And then they go on confidently that know the way, they go the Ground they stand upon. Now Light is not more Natural to our Bodily Eyes, than Truth is to our Souls. There is nothing doth make any thing in this material World so deformed, as Ignorance and Vice do deprave and dishonour the intellectual Nature. By this Men from Men do differ, as God doth differ from the Devil. For he that is sottishly Ignorant, or depraved by Vice, is an Apostate, sinks below himself, hath deformed himself, and is become truly Diabolical.

Fourthly. As it is most unsafe, so it is a most uneasie condition, to any Person to know, and not to do; to know, and not to be: To have Judgment of Right, and Conscience of Iniquity. I fear no worse Hell in the World to come. A Man hath not a Soveraignty over his Judgment; but he must Judge and Believe where he sees cause and Reason. If I can shew a Man a Reason, <310> and an Argument, I will convince his Judgment against his Will. Elihu in the Book of Job, expresses to the Life this notion, how the notions of a Man’s Mind do Command and Over-rule him. Job 32. 18. I am full of matter (saith he) the Spirit within me constraineth me. Behold my Belly is as Wine which hath no Vent, it is ready to burst like new Bottles. I will speak that I may be refreshed, I will open my Lips and answer. Were it in a Man’s Power, to believe as he would, he would be too hard for the greatest Punishment that God can lay upon him: But it is not within a Man’s Power to believe as he will. Men may by horrid Practices, provoke God to leave them, and give them up to a reprobate sense, and to their own Hearts Lusts; but till Men come to that, they are greatly unquiet, and uneasy. They that are Sinners, we know not their inward Perplexities: We little think how little true self-enjoyment they have: It is as easy to carry Fire in our Bosom, and not be burnt, as to offer violence to Truth within our selves, and not be in a State of self-condemnation.

And this for the account of the Argument of Conviction. I shall proceed in the next, to shew how it come to pass that such a thing that is so horrid and unnatural, is found in the Common-wealth of Man-kind, when as there is nothing of this Deformity in all Inferiour Natures.


Discourse XXII.

The unnatural Ingratitude of the Profane and Irreligious

Rom. 1. 21.

Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.

[129]I have given you an Explication of this Form of Words, and have made some Explication of this Thankfulness; which is a duty to God, wherein we express our selves most naturally. For our truest Notion of God is, that he is the first and chiefest Good: And because we are by his Communication, and live by his Influence, therefore it is most Natural for Man to make returns. Now here is the Aggravation, if Men do not glorifie God, they do it knowingly: Man knowing that he hath a Creator of Infinite Wisdom, Power, and Goodness; he doth not regard him, obey him, love him, choose him, delight in him; and this I have made appear in these Particulars. First. Because Truth is a Seminal Principle; Rational Natures are far more sufficient for things of Reason, than Inferiour Natures to their Effects. Secondly. Because the Imprisoning of Truth is an Action of the highest Offence to God, that a Man can possibly commit. Thirdly. Truth is con-natural to a Man’s Soul; so that Truth being in conjunction with a Man’s Mind, establisheth a con <312> stitution there. And Fourthly. As it is the most unsafe so it is the most uneasie to any Person whatsoever; to know and not to be; to know and not to do. But for this I refer you to what I have said more at large.

The next thing I promised, is to shew you how it comes to pass, that such a thing that is so horrid and Unnatural, is found in the Commonwealth of Mankind; when as there is nothing of this Deformity in all Inferiour Natures. An account of this in four Particulars.

First. The least that is to be said in the case is this, a great part of Men live in a hurry, and have not the Leisure to consider. ’Tis a common saying, haste makes waste: Many would do better, if they did but stay and advise; but in haste they do what is next. Unless a Man sometimes take himself out of the World by retirement and self-reflection, he will be in danger of losing himself in the World; he will have very poor enjoyment of himself, or use of his Powers and Faculties, especially as to Spiritual Acts wherein he is most concerned: Because things severally considered are within the compass of Lawful, therefore we do not doubt or fear; whereas altogether they snatch us from our Principles. Men will not be engaged in that that is not honest to be done; but let Men consider, that the things severally may be matters of Lawful Employment, yet too many of them crouded together may snatch a Man away from himself and the service of God. Therefore the Lord’s day is of very great use and advantage to us; it does us this Courtesie, to stave Company and Business off, that so we may be at leisure to think of God, and to perform acts of Worship and Devotion toward him. If we have good Minds, our safety for Eternity is of such consequence and importance, that we should think it highly necessary, that there should be an interposure of calm and quiet. It is <313> very unsafe for Eternity, to go out of the World in a hurry and confusion. Be not always in Business, and too much in Company, but sometimes retired, to look inward and to think of God. This is the first account I give you, how it comes to pass that Men do not pursue their Knowledge to Practice.

Secondly. Men are given up in the first place to save themselves harmless in this hurtful and dangerous World. Master favour thy self, Mat. 16. 22. Be it far from the {sic} Lord; this shall not be unto thee. St. Peter, who might have undone himself, and all the World beside, if this Council had been followed. [130]A very great Man of this our Nation hath affirmed, that it is dangerous to follow History too close at the Heels: So in this case, he that follows Truth to close at the Heels, may chance to have his Teeth struck out. Truth may carry us into contention, where other Mens Principles agree not with ours: For Truth allows no base compliance with Fancy, Lust, or Humour, but requires us to keep in the way, and to walk in it with all simplicity, sincerity, plainess, and open-heartedness: We must neither desert, or betray Truth, to open to our selves a way to escape; but a Man must maintain his Truth, so that observers may Rectifie themselves, comparing themselves with him, and so finding out how far they have departed from Rectitude. But as the World goes, a Man of impartial Truth, and Uprightness may chance to be laid aside as Morose, and Cinical. [131]Plutarch distinguisheth between a Friend and a Flatterer. The former stands as steady as an Oak; the Flatterer accomodates himself to Humour and Fancy, applauds all deeds and sayings. Now this that I have said is to be understood of the undoubted Principles of Sobriety and Justice: For (saving conscience in these cases) please every Body, make the best of any Body, go as far with them as you can, and <314> live in Universal Reconciliation with the whole Creation of God. For all civility, affability, and courtesie, all expressions of Modesty, all effects of Love and Universal good-will, are Evangelical, and highly Divine, Rom. 12. 10. Rom. 13. 17. 1 Tim 5. 17. 1 Pet. 3. 7.

Thirdly. Men gratifie their Senses and steep themselves in Worldly Delights and Pleasures. Sensuality makes the Palate of the Soul so dull and gross, that it makes the Palate of the Soul so dull and gross, that it cannot perceive what is true and Judicious. [132]That that is sincere and true Wisdom, is not in the way of Epicurism; but in the way of Sobriety and Temperance. Knowledge (which is an Intellectual dainty) will not be relished, [133]unless the Soul be purified by Mortification and Abstinence, and by separation from gross matter, and from sense, 1 Tim. 5. 6. James. 5. 5. 2 Pet. 2. 13. 2 Tim. 3. 4. Tit. 3. 3. Hebr. 11. 25. [134]Men grow less by steeping themselves in Worldly sense, and brutish and Carnal Pleasures. The sensualist is no capable Recipient, nor meet discerner of Divine and Spiritual Truth.

Fourthly. By long Abuse of themselves Men come into a Temper that is wholly Unnatural. ’Tis a sad Representation in Isaiah, Isa. 6. 9, 10. verses. Go and tell this People, hear ye indeed, but understand not, and see ye indeed but perceive not. Make the Heart of this People fat, and make their Ears heavy, and shut their Eyes; lest they see with their Eyes, and hear with their Ears, and understand with their Heart, and convert and be healed. All desperate cases refer to this: You have it six times referred to in the New Testament, Math. 13. 14. Mark 4. 12. Luke 8. 10. John 12. 40. Acts 28. 26. And St. Paul. referrs to it in Rom. 11. 8. It is most certain, We have our selves, as we use our selves. He that wholly lives downward, the longer he lives the more confined Soul he will have. Every Man is, for his Intellects and for his Principles, accord <315> ing as he doth accustom himself. No Man knows what he may be brought unto by ill use, custom and Practice. The first base act is a force to a Man’s self; he doth it with dissatisfaction, and doth apprehend he doth himself wrong. Innocence is a great Protection: But the coming in of Sin, is like the breaking in of Water; if once it have found the way over, it bears down all before it. [135]Hence we do observe, that no Man at the first is the worst: But he brings himself to it by havocking Conscience, confounding his Principles, and putting away all the Modesty and Ingenuity of his Nature. In this case (which is the worst of cases) I am now at the highest Degeneracy incident to humane Nature. But if this be any Man’s case; this must be the Recovery; there must be a Restauration by Regeneration, that the Faculties of the Soul may be restored to their proper Operations and Functions: And so by continuance in some good exercise, they may hope by Repentance, to be brought back again to some discerning of Good and Evil. For Repentance is for Recovery: And this is the only way. We do not know the length of God’s Patience; he hath forgiven great Sinners: They therefore that have thus abused themselves, and have wrought out the Modesty of their Natures, by violent use, ill custom and practice; and wrought themselves into an Unnatural State; by entring upon, and continuance in some good Exercise, let them hope (by Repentance) to be brought back again to some discerning of Good and Evil: And this is the only way for their Recovery.

Thus have I shewed you how it comes to pass, that Men do that that is so Unnatural, as not to comply in matters of Knowledge, than which a Man cannot do an Action of greater force against himself, and his Natural Principles. I now come to make four Inferrences upon the whole.


In the first place, then we see the course of this World; and by it, we may easily Forsee the State of Men in the other World. For let Men but answer me in these three Points. First. Can they look God in the Face hereafter with any comfort, who here liked not to retain the knowledge of God in their Minds? Let a Man use but his Reason. Can he with expectation desire to look God in the Face, in the other World, who in this State, the State of Probation, doth not at all affect to retain God in his Mind? Secondly. Can they look for any Reward from him, in the future State, who do not at all set themselves to Glorifie him as God in this, neither are Thankful. Can any expect wages, who have done no work? They cannot expect that God should bring them to Honour hereafter, that have not sets themselves to Glorifie God here. Thirdly. Will not the issue of holding Truth in Unrighteousness, contradicting the Reason of our Minds, forcing our own Judgment, making havock of Conscience? Will not the issue of this be Confusion and Astonishment? What can a Man look for, when he is not True to himself; when he hath every thing within himself rising up against him? This cannot but end in Confusion and Astonishment. For things hold a proportion one to another; force in one way, brings on force in another way. So that the business of the Day of Judgment may, without the Spirit of Prophecy, be fairly foreseen; may be here accounted for, by things of this State. Men will be then left to receive the Fruit of their own ways; and Men cannot think that things will finally prove otherwise, if they have at any time in their lives, taken to themselves liberty to think with Reason. But if Men will presume, and content themselves with bare Imagination, Men may Flatter themselves and go on in a way of Stupidity. But if ever they be serious, and consider, and use <317> Reason at all, they will foresee in an evil frame of Spirit, and in a Wicked and Naughty course of Life, they will foresee future Misery. Men may indeed carelessly non-attend, or grosly neglect themselves, or divert themselves to think of other things; but for any Rational hopes or expectations, they can have none, unless they can believe any thing, Absurdities, inconsistencies, contradictions, and impossibilities. No Husbandman can expect a Crop in Harvest, but according to the Seed he sows. No Man that is in a Spirit Opposite to God, Goodness, and Truth, can expect to be happy in any enjoyment of God in a future State. Let us at least sometime of our Life be serious, and in good earnest. Let us apart and out of the World, ask our selves but this single Question (when the guize of the World doth not dazle our Eyes.) Will this end well? will this course of Life bring me to Happiness? It is a thousand Pities that Men should employ Mind and Understanding only in the Drudgeries of this Life. This is my first Observation. From what is done and acted in the present State, a Man may Foresee his Circumstances in the future State.

Secondly. As hereby we have foresight of the future State of Man, so we have here also an Account of the Torture, Confusion, and Distraction, at least at times and Seasons, of some that are high Sinners in this Life: Hell kindled in Mens Consciences; Hell-fire flashing in Mens Faces; as it were Hell on this side Hell. They do conceive within themselves, things that are unnatural, and monstrous: They have more Knowledge of God, than Love and Affection for him: They have more Light in their Minds than Life in their Souls: By Knowledge one way, by Affectation another way. These Men; they then must be, when a-part and by themselves, in a tortured and confounded con <318> dition, when they do consider. They have within themselves, things that are monstrous and unnatural; things that are Upstarts and Traitors to Humane Nature: Lusts, Humour, Will, Passion; and where these have dispossessed the inbred Sovereign; where these have usurped the Government, and dethroned Reason, what a State will here be? For none of these, Lust, Humour, Will, Passion, were made to govern; but were to be regulated. But where Men will, because they will; where Men live by Humour, and in Passion; and Lust hath Dominion over them; here Reason is dethroned: And these Men must needs be in a State of great Confusion, because there is so much of Disorder within them. No Society in the World so distempered and confounded, as this little Common-wealth of Man in this Case. ’Tis as Acts 21. 30, 31. But now Reason is uniform, and the Dictates of Reason, are satisfactory to a Man, and calmly guide a Man: But Lust, Will, Humour, and Passion, these are Incendiary Principles. Wherefore we observe that Persons of bad Lives, and ill Consciences, do not love to be alone; rather in any Company than alone by themselves: Rather in any Employment, than in the Action of Self-reflection. Few Men would envy those Mens Conditions, notwithstanding they may be attended with some worldly good Circumstances, if they were but acquainted with their inward Ails; the Tortures and Vexations of their Minds. It is observed concerning Tiberius the Roman Emperour,[136] That being conscious to himself of horrid Wickednesses, he could have no Composure of Mind; all Divertisements would not do; insomuch that the Senate advise him to leave Business, and try the Country; but he writes back thus. If all the Deities that ever Mortals acknowledged, should conspire to torment a Man, it would not amount to <319> half so much as my own inward perplexity. Inward Perplexity, and Confusion of Mind and Thoughts, occasioned by guilt of Conscience, and naughtiness of Mind, transcend all the Tortures of Gout and Stone; of which Men have such dreadful Apprehension. [137]The Spirit of a Man can bear his Infirmity; but a wounded Spirit who can bear? What hath a Man either to direct him, or uphold him, or comfort him, when he hath not the Reason of his own Mind on his side? They are ignorant Persons therefore, and in a mistake, that do represent the ways of Religion to be Melancholly. No: There alone is Hearts ease. The Reason why Men live so unquietly, that are out of the compass of Religion, is, because they entertain in themselves, things that are so unnatural. As Violence in the World Natural is attended by Conflagration; so in the World Moral, it is attended with Exasperation and Fury. This was the Case of Judas; he cou’d not live, tho’ his covetous Humour was satisfied, and he had that that was his Bargain; yet he could not enjoy it. He that is in a wicked way, his Wit will not serve him to the last Run. This you have as a foresight into the future State; so an Account how it comes to pass, that some Men have so much of Hell in their own Consciences.

Thirdly. We are to have God excused, notwithstanding his Judgments seem in the World to be sometimes severe and sharp. There are Sins of Men, that are higher in the rank of Sins, than any Judgments of God in this State are great in order of punishment. For there are Sins in this State, that a Man in reason would imagine that they must of necessity go beforehand to Judgment, upon account of God’s Honour, and for the maintenance of Righteousness. Also consider; They who lie under the greatest Violence in this <320> World, suffer more from their own Consciences, than from God’s Judgments: They suffer more from within, than they suffer under the immediate Hand of God. And this I will demonstrate thus. The most intolerable Suffering in the World, is to suffer as a guilty Person, a Malefactor; because he is privy to his own Iniquity, and he is not true to himself. He hath the Reason of his own Mind against him, and suffers the Torments of his own Breast.[138] Now the worst that any can suffer, saving this, is only to suffer without, and not within. He suffers either for a good Cause, or upon an unavoidable Necessity; under Power not to be resisted; being in no Demerit or Contradiction to the Reason of the Mind: which is Comfort enough to him to oppose to his Sufferings. Therefore we should not fly in the Face of God, nor challenge him for his Judgments in the World. For the Judgments of God are very tolerable, if we be not guilty. Guilt is that that makes a Man’s Heart ake: The most that Judgments do, is to awaken sleepy Consciences, and make Mens Consciences to bite them: It is a touchy angry Business, that that we call Noli me tangere. The Judgments of God are nothing, in comparison of the Guilt that lies upon Mens Consciences. Wherefore it is very true, [139]Thy Destruction is of thy self: Wherefore, O Man, whosoever thou art who sufferest, wouldst thou effectually ease thy Condition, I advise thee do these two things: Put thy self upon Self-examination, and the motion of Repentance. The motion of Repentance will quite alter the Case, and all the World cannot give thee ease, save in this way. For this is the great Gospel-Grace, that Repentance should prove effectual; that it should be otherwise with a Sinner that repents, than with a Sinner that doth not repent: For where we condemn our selves, God will forbear. Upon a <321> Moral Consideration, the Man is not the same: For after Repentance, the Man is passed into another Spirit, and there is another Law of his Life. I dare say, without Repentance, a Sinner could not be eased in his own Mind. If he have offered Force to himself, in respect of his own Principles, he cannot have content in his own Mind, tho’ God should withdraw and take his Hand off. There is no possibility of Ease to a guilty Conscience, unless a Man do repent. If a Man upon Self-reflection, out of a dislike of the Evil of the thing; if he do blame himself for doing of it, do all he can to avoid it, and recall it by Repentance; and deprecate God for Forgiveness; he doth morally revoke, and, in effect, blot out the Line which before he had written.

Fourthly. I also infer, That Knowledge should never be obstructed; but have a free Passage; that what is Truth should establish in us a Frame and Temper of Spirit; give way to Truth; let it overpower, prevail and conquer. If a Man do not thus, he cannot secure his Peace in the World.

I wil now, in the close of all, add this serious Exhortation.

Since therefore there is nothing so Natural to Reason, as to take Cognizance of God, since Mind and Understanding in Man are a peculiar Faculty to that purpose; my Exhortation is, that every Man would take care of this, that is the main; To take Cognisance of God in the World, and to glorifie him as God. And since he is beholden to God for all he hath in the World, that he would be thankful to him. If I know there is a God, what things are then included? Then all Reverence, all Regard, all Duty, all Observance of him. If I know there is a God, then all Faith, Affiance, Adherence, Trust, and Confidence in him. <322> If I know there is a God (and if he be God he is infinitely good. For the truest Notion we have of God is, that he is the first and chiefest Good:) Then Love and Affection toward him, Joy and Delight in him; and above all things, to take care to please him, and approve myself to him; and to do every thing in subserviency, nothing in contradiction to his Will. Now all this is founded upon this innate Sense that we have of God, or the possibility there is to come to know there is a God, by our own Being, and the Being of the Residue of our Fellow-Creatures. Now we have a great advantage in things of the Mind, that we do not waste them by the use of them; but we do improve them: The more we use them, the more they are our own, and the greater they are in Stock: The more a Man thinks, the nobler are his Thoughts: The further a Man enquires, the fuller will be his Understanding: And to teach another, is to make the things more our own. It is not so in Materials: But here it is, use, and have. Wherefore he that is arrived to this Knowledge, he is highly concerned: For go back he cannot: If he goes back, he runs into Self-condemnation; so that go on he must, or else he had better never have begun; and his beginning will be lost. [140]He who hath put his Hand to the Plough, must not draw back. And indeed this I reckon to be the Apostacy of the World, resisting of Knowledge, to fail in a due compliance with known Truth: That we do not comply with the Reason of our Minds: That we do not do and execute according to the Principles of Mind and Understanding.

There is not that in the Christian Religion, from which one who hath his Senses able to discern, would be released, or desire a Dispensation. This is the Exhortation, and this is the Life of all the Discourse: Let every Man know, he may if he <323> will, be resolved for certain, that there is a God: And then he is bound to walk in all good Conscience; then ought he to affect to be that in his Measure and Degree, that God is in his Fulness. This is the Settlement of our Religion: This is a great Engagement upon us to live up to the Rule of Righteousness.

Lastly, To conclude the Point. I would have this Text read in the Ears of every Man that pretends to be an Atheist. He must either deny the Authority, or be self-condemned. And for the Conviction of this supposed Atheist, I affirm two things in the Words. First, what the Apostle doth suppose, as formerly asserted. Secondly, How he doth describe, explicate, and declare the Case.

First. What he doth suppose, as formerly asserted, That God made Man to know that he is. Then the Atheists Opinion is against his own Maker. He may better believe that he himself is not, than that there is not a God.

Secondly. How he doth describe, explicate and declare the Case. Here you have the Atheists Temper and Estate; not pursuing his Knowledge, not carrying it out to its proper Effect of glorifying God, and being thankful: He becomes vain in his Imagination; nothing is sincere or true that he thinks. For this is certain, that Divine Truth is so noble a thing, that wheresoever it is entertained, all things will be conformable to it, or Men will be made desperate. Their foolish Heart was darkened. He is become a Fool, and hath wrought himself into Darkness. He that affects to be an Atheist; it is thus declared concerning him, if he put away the Sense of God, expect then, that he should become vain in his Imagination, and that his foolish Heart will be darkened: Professing themselves to be wise, they became Fools. He may pretend to be very witty, <324> to free himself from all Obligations of Conscience; to be loose in the World, and serve his own Lusts; But it is Madness and Folly.

Now Atheists are of two sorts; by Self-neglect: Or by Contempt of God.

1. There are many of the former sort; for so all they are that live without God in the World: God far from their Reins. So those that are Drudges in the World, who make themselves very Gibeonites, to hew Wood and draw Water: These Men sink themselves below their Species, ascend not to the Perfection of Humane Action, they never do that that is most proper and Specifick: For I account nothing is more Specifick to Man than Capacity of Religion, and sense of Deity. But these Men do wholly live, to seek for Food, and for Rayment:[141] They live like Beasts; they Grovel upon the Ground, and take what they find, never lifting themselves up to observe whence it comes. Too great a Number of Men are Atheists in this kind, in a Negative way: They never use Reason in that that is the Peculiar and Proper Act of Reason; but only to keep sense Company: They never take Cognisance of God, or do any acts of homage to him. Thus Men live every day to be less: Spend their time wholly about Worldly Business. These are the Atheists by Neglect.

Secondly, You have the Atheists by Contempt of God. Now of these Men I can scarcely think that they do believe themselves: Yea, I am confident the Atheist of this kind, doth not believe himself at all times; unless his case be that which is the worst of cases. That God hath forsaken him, and delivered him up to a reprobate sense, and given him up to his own Hearts Lust. He that affects to be an Atheist, he doth at times, trouble himself for fear of that God whom he doth not love: He fears him, and hates <325> him, and suspects that he is; and would not have him to be. Unless it be the case of Reprobacy of Mind, and that is the worst of States in this Life. I do not believe that he that is an Atheist thinks at all times that there is no God. This I could give good Proof of, that never did any in the whole Creation, more fear and dread Deity and Death, than those that have been bold to assert there was no God; and wrought upon themselves to think, that when they Die, they are Annihilated, and go out of being; and that all Principles of Nature come to nothing: Which shews that these Men sin against an innate sense of God, that is within themselves. They are many times beaten by the Reason of their own Minds. By-standers are not acquainted with the internal fears, jealousies, suspitions and Heart-akings; especially at Retirements, of this kind of Atheists, least there should be a God, whom they deny; and an Existence of the Soul after Death. As there is the fullest satisfaction in the World, in the inward sense and feeling of Reconciliation with God, the Reason of things, the Rule of Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth, a frame of Mind tinctured with Goodness, so there is the greatest unquietness of Mind, where there is an internal displacency and Offence against the being of God; and where there is a desire there should be no God, and an Endeavour to think that all things are alike: The former of these hath all strength for him; to wit, he that thinks and believes there is a God, and is in Reconciliation with him, and with the Reason of things, and the Rule of Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth: For he thinks that he that is well able to do every thing, takes care of him; so that he needs not break his Heart with care, nor interrupt his Sleep: For whosoever believes there is a God, and that he is the Original of our Being, he <326> must needs think that we are Governed by his Providence. This Man thinks I must do my duty, ’tis true, but I am not primarily charged with my self; that belongs to God. But now the latter, he doubts and fears uncertainly; he suspects at times, that there is one that made and governs the World, and that he is engaged against him. And I do verily believe, that there is no Atheist, but at times, is in fears, and doubt and jealousies, unless given up to a Reprobate sense. And whereas this Atheist thinks that all things are alike and subject to Will, and Power; and if Power enough to carry a thing on, no scruple then (and this is that they deny God for, that it might be so; that all things might be in themselves alike, he would take away the being of God: Because this is the supream Law according to the Nature of God, according to the Rule of Right) but sure he cannot but at times, think that it is better to be Sober, than intemperate; better to Gratifie and to do Good, than to be violent and furious. Now when he comes to think, that in his Fundamental Notion, there may be an Errour; then he cannot but think: Oh, what will become of me, that have taken upon me to remove the old Landmarks, and to controul the most famous Rights, the most established Laws, those things that all mortals do subscribe to, and are Fundamental to the safety of the Universe! And I have taken upon me to vary from them, and to subordinate them to my Will and Humour: If all things be not alike, I am ruined to Eternity.

Thus far for an Account of the Natural Knowledge of God: And this you see is Antecedent to Faith, and Fundamental to all Acts of Devotion, Religion, and Conscience: and whosoever denies the being of God, he doth it for this end; he doth it that he may think according to the Reason of Things, all things are alike, and that if <327> he hath but Power, he may do what he lists. But this Man, that thus hardens his Heart, since he hath Jealousie, Suspitions and fears, and sometimes suspects he may be mistaken; since so it is, we are engaged, as we would secure our present Composure of Mind, and future eternal welfare, effectually to entertain this great matter of Knowledge, that there is a God, and then that we are his Creatures, and that we are to observe him, take notice of him, obey him, love him, and delight in him.


Discourse XXIII.

The miserable Degeneracy of Men through their Affectation of Atheism, and Practice of Wickedness.

Rom. 1. 21, 22.

Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their Imaginations, and their foolish Heart was Darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became Fools.

[142]I have often admonished you of what import in Religion, the natural Knowledge of God is, and have made it appear to you, that God hath made Man capable of knowing there is a God, and what are his Natural Perfections, in some Measure, by the Effects of Creation and Providence.

I will now superadd a little, and then dismiss this Point. If there were no other Argument in the World, to prove there is a God, a Man is an Argument sufficient to himself. For thus a Man feels that he is; and he doth prove that by his Acting: I act, therefore I am; I do, therefore I have being: And if I am, either I made my self, or was made by another. I did not make my self: For if I had made my self at my own will, I could continue my self in being during my own Pleasure; and this I know I cannot: And this is great Reason; because it is an <329> exercise of less Power, to continue a thing in being which hath being; than to call a thing out of nothing into being: Therefore I made not my self, but was made by another. And then that other must neither be my Equal, nor Inferiour: For I can do as much as my Equal, more than my Inferiour; therefore I was made by a Greater than my self, a Greater, both in Wisdom and Power: And this first Independant Being I call God. Thus is a Man an Argument to himself, of the existence of a Deity. This is the first point in all Religion, and that that is Fundamental to Conscience; which if it be acknowledged, all other things will follow. Here we do begin, and at the Day of Judgment God will make this out against his Creation; that he made every Intelligent, and Voluntary Creature capable of knowing that he is.

Now that which makes Men who have put away Reason and Conscience, affect to be Atheists is, that they may be Arbitrary and unaccountable, and in Danger of no Power; and to this purpose they first think that there is no God; and secondly that there is no difference of things, but that Good and Evil, upon a Moral consideration, is wholly imaginary: If so, if these two things can be resolved on, then may they gratifie Sense, please their Lust and Humour, and not be self-condemned, nor be in danger of any Power, that will call them to an account. Then may Will, Lust, and Humour, Rule, and Reason stand by, and have nothing to gain-say. And this is Pleasure and Happiness to diseased, and exorbitant Minds; for now they may carry all before them. Then also if a Man can in the first Instance be an Atheist, he will easily in the next place be an Infidel: And then Christs condemning Sin in his Death, which is one of the greatest Arguments against Sin in the World: This will be looked upon as only a mad kind of Notion, a fraus <330> Pia, a thing contrived to keep Men in Obedience, and a Restraint and Limitation to their Liberty: For if not one God, then neither one Mediator; and so, Natural, and Christian Religion will both fall to the Ground. Now against this, God hath made a double Provision; and it is as old as God’s Creation, the security and hold that God hath upon Man. The first is Man’s Capacity above all other Creatures in this visible World. For Solomon hath told us, the [143]Spirit of a Man is the Candle of the Lord, a thing that hath Light, and gives Light: Lighted by God, and discovering God to Man. And the Employment, and proper Business of Mind and Understanding is, to follow after God, and find him out in his Works, and to make acknowledgment to him of his Goodness; and this is the Employment and proper function of Mind and Understanding in Man. And it is Sacriledge in the highest Nature, for any one to sink down into the Employment of Gibionites, to Drudge in the World, and to take no notice of God, no Cognisance of him: And this is the First Security God hath taken against Atheism, Man’s Capacity. Then Secondly. An Argument that God affords for Conviction, Assurance, and Satisfaction that there is a God is, the visible Effects of God in the World, that transcend Mans Power, Knowledge and Apprehension, how they come to be, or how they may be done. A Man knows the Effect of his own Power and Skill,[144] what he can contrive; or bring to pass; and sees a thousand things in this visible World, that he can give no account of, he cannot so much as Imitate them. This must be an effect of an Intelligent Agent; and because they are so various, they must be the Effects of Infinite Goodness, Wisdom and Power: He cannot give an account of their Principles, their Make, their Existence, and Continuance, and therefore must acknowledge a Being of higher Understanding, and <331> more plentiful Power and Goodness; because of his various communications. Had I one that was not a Christian in this Congregation, I could by this Argument command his assent, by thus proving the cause by the effect.

Now I have done with this great Point, and come to the sad and dismal Consequences that follow upon this Affected Atheism: Because that when they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; There is the Atheism, And then, that that is the mediate Product and Consequence of this denying God, either by neglect, or Affectation, is They became vain in their imagination, and their Foolish Heart was Darkened. Professing themselves to be wise they became Fools. Now from hence I do observe this, that where there is not an honest Entertainment of the great Truths of Religion and Conscience; and a hearty Compliance with them, and a ready Obedience to them, but a failure in the Main and Principle Points of Life and Practice, there Men’s pretences to Religion and Conscience, are subject to evaporate, and turn to a most miserable account, and come to nothing. This is plainly in the Text, where Men knowing there is a God do not glorifie him as God: Where Men are not thankful; therefore not sensible they are receivers: Where Men do not like to retain God in their Minds, which is the Atheists temper; where Men do these things that are filthy, and take Pleasure in them that do so, which is the Atheists Practice, it follows, they become vain in their Imagination, &c. Now to glorifie God as God, stands in these two things. First, to own him the General and Universal Cause. Secondly. To acknowledge him the first and chiefest Goodness. They that do not this, do not glorifie God as God. For he is not God, if he be not a General and Universal Cause; and he is not God, if he be not the first and chiefest Goodness; sine bonitate nulla Majestas. To Divine Per <332> fection there is requisite, that to Wisdom and Power, there be also Goodness. Now those two things do comprehend these six things in them. First, Highly to Regard, Adore, and Reverence God. Secondly. Fully to submit to him, and depend upon his Pleasure, in all things. Thirdly to obey him, observe him, and perform his Will. Fourthly. To Love, and Delight in him. Fifthly. To be sensible of his free Communications, and Influence, and to be thankful. Sixthly. To make him the Centre of Rest to our Immortal Souls, and our last and ultimate End: and whosoever fails in these, doth not glorifie God as God. I will only say upon them all, that Irreverence and disrespect to that Being, on which we do depend for whatsoever we are, and have, is most Ununiform, Incongruous, Unequal and Disproportionate Carriages. This is our Perfection, who are by Communication and Participation, that we do imitate and resemble God: And the Sum of all Religion is Divine Imitation. Therefore nothing more inconsistent with Religion, than for any Man to have slight and foolish Apprehensions of God in his Mind. Nothing is more Ununiform nothing more Incongruous; a crooked Line not more different from a strait. The Primary Rules of good and evil, carries Reason with them, so immutable in the eternal connextion of their Terms, that that which doth destroy all things else Time, cannot abolish or destroy them, but they are Eternally so. It is an excellent Notion of Aristotle’s: He observes, that what is Natural is immoveable, and all the World cannot hinder it. It is Natural for the Fire to burn, and therefore it burns wherever it is: It is Natural to the Sun to shine, therefore it constantly shines. So the same in the great Instances of Morality. It is every where Due and Necessary, to love God. If the Author of our Being, our Original, then wheresoever there is an Intelligent Agent en <333> dued with Mind and Understanding capable of God, he is under this indispensible Obligation of Regard, Adoration, and Reverence, of submission to God and dependance upon his Pleasure in all things, he is under the Obligation to obey him, observe him, and perform his Will; to love, and delight in him, to be sensible of his communications and influence, and to be Thankful. We are to make him the Centre of our Souls and our Last and Ultimate End. This is Natural, therefore it is immutable. We may not break the Rules of eternal Reason, to let loose our Power, to do whatsoever may be done, in contradiction to the most excellent Nature of God: I say, we may not break the Rule of eternal Reason, to let loose our Power, whether it be agreeable to the pure and excellent Nature of God, or not. We can do that, which we can of right do: but to Evil there is no power at all. We ought always to take cognisance what things are according to the Nature, Mind, and Will of God; and not to desire the contrary. So I bring you home to the main Point; That wheresoever there is not an honest Entertainment of the great Truths of Religion and Conscience, and a hearty Compliance with them, and a ready Obedience to them; such as is Reverence of Deity, Faith in him, Love and Affection to him, &c. But a Failure in the main and principal Points of Life and Practice; such as not glorifying God as God; nor affecting to retain the Knowledge of God in their Minds, there Men’s pretences to Religion and Conscience are subject to evaporate, and come to nothing, and turn to a most miserable Account: As you have it in six Forms of Words. They became vain in their Imagination. Their foolish Heart darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became very Fools. They change the Glory of the All-glorious God into an Image made like to corruptible Man. They change the <334> Truth of God into a Lie. And worship the Creature together with the Creator. These are Forms of Words that the Apostle hath in these, and the following Verses of this Chapter: And all this is consequent upon this Affected Atheism, of Alienating Mind and Understanding from observance of God: And this is the Point that lies before us. Wherefore it is a very great matter, the ingenuous Usage of Truth: To receive Truth in the love of it; to receive it upon its own account, out of Judgment and Satisfaction of its Conveniency and Fitness to bring Humane Nature to Perfection; as we are wont to say, as a Characteristical Form of Words, To act out of love to Righteousness: Not as the unjust Judge, of whom our Saviour speaks, [145]which feared not God, neither regarded Man; yet to rid himself of the Trouble, he did the Woman Right: He did a thing materially Just; but not out of a Principle, not out of a Mind reconciled to Goodness and Truth. We are not to lay other Designs on Truth, not to practice upon it for other Ends: Not to put it in the place of a Mean, but in the place of an End; which the Apostle reproves in 1 Tim. 6 ch. 5. v.[146] Men of corrupt Minds, and destitute of the Truth, supposing that Gain is Godliness: Counting Godliness to be a Trade, Traffick, and Device for Gain. If Men do thus serve Designs by Truth, and practice upon it, and put it in the place of a Mean, not of an End; then, in this Case, 1st Men will be false to their own Profession, to the Principles they hold forth, when worldly Interest calls them off. And this the Case of a Hypocrite, or the Case of Fear and Danger. 2dly, Hence it comes to pass, that so much ridiculous and contemptible Stuff passeth abroad in the World for Religion. For I am fully perswaded, if Truth were received for it self, and out of the love of it, the World would easily be accorded and agreed in all the great Concernments of Reli <335> gion. But because Men serve Ends unduly, and and {sic} practice upon Truth; hence, I say, it comes to pass, that a great deal of contemptible, and unreasonable, and ridiculous Stuff passeth in so many parts of the World, for Religion. Men do not engage themselves to look after reasonable Satsifaction; and Truth is not the End, but the Mean. And to me it seems to be one of the greatest Prodigies in the World, that Men that are Rational and Intelligent, should admit that for Religion, which for its Shallowness, Emptiness, and Insignificany, falls under the Just reproof and condemnation of Reason. Religion, which makes us less Men; Religion unintelligible, or not able to give Satisfaction to the noble Principles of God’s Creation. But because this is General, I will shew you what I mean in particular. I will instance in the Christian Church and the Heathen World. In the Heathen World, the licentious and odious Feasts of the drunken God Bacchus: The impure and filthy Solemnization of the Nativity of that common Whore Flora; which was so filthy, that it was by the Roman Senate at last prohibited. This hath been Religion in the Heathen World: Things altogether unsatisfactory to the Principles of Humane Nature. Then come to the Christian World, and there the superaddition of Articles of Faith that are superadded in the Romish Church, founded neither in Nature nor Grace. I will mention but two. The first is, the suspending the highest Effects of Divine Power, upon the slightest things imaginable; I mean, the pardon of Sin upon being shrived high Presumption. The other is, the Priests Power to turn Attrition into Contrition, upon the Subjects Confession: impossible in it self: for the Alteration must be in the Subject. This, they say, they have Power to do and say. It was Judas’s Unhappiness, that there was no Priest then: For, they <336> say, That if he had had a Priest to confess to, his Attrition had been as good as St. Peter’s Mourning for his denying of his Master. Now can it be imagined, that any Man that is honest, and hath a mind to reconcile himself to God, should believe such sorry things as these? That a Man may obtain the highest Indulgence from God by being shrived; or that any thing may be made Repentance, by confessing to a Priest? Now can any Man that useth Reason, depend upon such Points as these are? Therefore, I say, this comes upon it, when Men do not with honest Hearts receive Truth, and deal ingenuously with it, they are in danger to become vain in their Imagination, &c.

I proceed. How hath the World been scandalized by pretended Matters of Faith, which are in a downright contradiction to Reason; if Reason be able to tell us any thing that is true, what rational Man almost would not be tempted to say after Averroes,[147] rather so to Sin against his Nature, as to admit a thing of such disproportion to all his Faculties? Can we think we shall prevail with Men, to put out their Eyes, and disbelieve their senses, that they may become good Christians? The Turkish History relates of a K. of Persia inclined to Christianity, diverted by such like Reasons.

And on the other side, how well satisfied is any Man of Reason and Understanding, in the great Materials of Religion; to wit, to live Godly, Righteously and Soberly? To live in high Regard of God, Reverence of Deity in a Man’s Soul, a sense of our own Inferiority and dependance; a feeling of Divine Communication, Motion of Gratitude and Thankfulness to God, the first cause and Original of Being, by whom we were called into Being, by whom we are maintained in Being, and from whom are all our hopes and expectations: To deal fairly with all Men, to be of Benign, and <337> fair carriage with all Persons whatsoever, to deal with our fellow Creatures, as we would be dealt with. All the ways of God are ways of Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth; and why should not ours be so too? And then to govern our selves according to the Rules of Sobriety, Temperance, Chastity, and Moderation. This is solid, real, and substantial Religion; these are things of the greatest certainty and Foundation in the World. Did we hold forth this to the World, we should bring all Men in to give their Testimony for Religion; save those Men that have wrought themselves into a Reprobate sense. And then in the fourth place, in case of failure, to return by Repentance, do the contrary, be cautious and wary not to do the same again, and to ask God forgiveness in the name of the Lord Jesus, who is the only Advocate between God and Man. This is the Summary both of the Religion of God’s Creation, and the Religion of Christ’s Restauration. In thus doing we hold the Head, and build upon the Foundation of God’s own laying. To live in regard of God, to deal fairly and equally, and righteously with our Neighbour; and Soberly and Temperately as to our selves: And wheresoever a Man fails, to return by Repentance, and to go to God for Pardon in the Name of the Lord Jesus. I could wish that the World would but consent that these four might be the Materials of Religion. But instead of Zeal for these, wherein hath Men’s Zeal been exercised, but about certain Usages, certain modes, and Making Parties? Here is the miscarriage; this I account the greatest folly and madness in the World; the ill lives of Christians, and the bestowing their Zeal upon matters wherein parties are constituted. These things have been the scandal of Christianity. But on the other side, in the true Christian Religion, there is nothing but what is sincere and solid, nothing of vain Suppositions <338> nothing but what is consonant and agreeable to the Principles of Reason, nothing but what may be represented lovely in the Eyes of all Persons that have the Principle of Reason, for their Rule. The sweet of Christian Religion is this, that it caresses and delights the Nature of Man. It is freedom from all impotent and unsatiable desires which toss a Man’s Soul and make it restless; from all eager, violent and impetuous Lusts; and by these Men are torn in pieces; it is freedom from froathy, empty and ungrounded Joys, and these put Men into a Fools Paradice: It is freedom from vain, foolish and disappointing Hopes, which sink Men into Melancholy, when they find themselves frustrated: It is freedom from all lawless, unruly and exorbitant Appetites; from presaging Heart-misgiving Fears; from anxious solicitous self-devouring Cares, from inward Heart-burnings, from self-eating Envy, from swelling Pride, Arrogancy and Ambition; from black self-confounding Melancholy, from gnawing self-tormenting Conscience; from boiling anger, raging fury, insolent self-will and arbitrary presumption; from all rigour, sourness and severity of Spirit; from all ungoverned Passions, which are like unruly Devils in the Soul of Man; and which make the Mind of Man [148]like the troubled Sea when it cannot rest, whose Waters cast forth Mire and Dirt.

This is that which real Religion doth. For what is Religion but Good Self-government? What doth Religion signifie, but Application to God, and Imitation of him? For this is the Sum of all Religion, for us to affect to be in our Measure and Degree, like that Being whom we worship.

I would superadd one thing more, that is the Harmony and Consistency that is between true Reason, and Christianity. There is the greatest Correspondence between the Principles of Reason, and <339> Christianity that is between any things in the World: For the latter, Christianity, doth wholly acknowledge the former; and Christianity coming in upon the Apostacy from God’s Creation, it restores, and calls Men back again: Christianity reinforceth recovery, establisheth, yea doth advance and highly improves every one of the Principles of God’s Creation; which are the Principles of Reason: So far it is from being true, that Christianity doth discharge any of the Principles of the Creation of God, that it doth raise and improve them. As for instance; to do good for evil, to forbear all private revenge, to rejoyce in the good of the whole Creation, and to subordinate a Man’s particular good to a more publick and universal good. Therefore Christianity doth not only recover Humane Nature, but carries it on to a higher Perfection. So that the Principles of Reason, the Principles of God’s Creation, and Christ’s Restauration, do the self-same thing; and if they were well considered, nothing would give so great a satisfaction to the Mind of Man as they; nothing would better carry him on to that Perfection, of which he is capable. Of these Principles I affirm three things. First. They are satisfaction to the Reason of a Man’s Mind. Secondly. Peace, Quiet, Ease, and Relief to his Conscience. And Thirdly. They keep Humane Nature in its Purity, and Integrity. Wherefore it is a great charge that lyes upon us, to use Truth ingeniously. Therefore if any one would be Restored, let him return again from whence he is departed, and Resettle in his Soul the Principles of God’s Creation, and take care of the first Issue that immediately flow from them. I’ll conclude with a saying of Socrates: Nature, the Workmanship of God, as coming out of God’s Hands, is a preservative to all those that use it ingeniously and well.


Discourse XXIV.

The miserable Degeneracy of Men through their Affectation of Atheism, and Practice of Wickedness.

Rom. 1. 21, 22.

---------But became vain in their Imaginations, and their foolish Heart was darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became Fools.

[149]You have had an account of God’s Workmanship, the Foundation of God’s laying; and what God might well expect, having done so much. But Men failing herein, I come now to shew you the fatal Issue and mischievous Consequences that follow upon so great a miscarriage. Man able to see, know and understand that there is a God, and what he is; Man able to do him Honour, and to be thankful to him; failing in this, he runs out into vain Imaginations; and wherein he pretends to Wisdom, therein he fools it more grosly. Whereupon my Observation is this: Where there is not a fair usage of Divine Truth, (whether it be Truth Connatural or Revealed, where there is not Conscience in Men in pursuance of their Knowledge) there nothing worthy of Religion is likely to follow. But the Consequence is dismal, the Miscarriage shameful, vain Imagination, Dark <341> ness of Mind, Folly, and Superstition. For thus Judgment will not hold, where it is not settled and further pursued by suitable Disposition and Practice. It is not so much the Disability of Mens Natures, as the abuse of themselves: For Nature is Sovereign to them that use it well, in respect of its modesty and averseness to that that is Unhandsome, till Men pervert and abuse Nature’s Temper, by ill Use, Custom, and Practice. No Man is born so as he makes himself by dissolute living. The Sinner is modest and shamefaced at first: Evil begins at a little: For Goodness and Virtue are much more suitable to Nature’s Sense than Wickedness and Vice. Vice is contrary to Nature; if it were not so, it were not Vice. [150]Vice is contrary to the Nature of Man, as a Man is a Man: For it is contrary to the order of Reason, which is Man’s highest Principle. Now that Vice is grievous to the Nature of Man, I will instance but in three things: Irreverance toward God: Intemperance in respect of a Man’s self: Fury in respect of others. The Nature of Man startles to hear a Man speak of God prophanely; And to be sottish, how loathsome is it to see! And for a Man to be Devillish, who is it that doth not run away from it? a Man forceth himself at first, before he can satisfie himself in any of these. In this Sense I understand that of the Apostle, where God saith, [151]I will put my Laws into their Hearts, and in their Minds will I write them. How doth God do this? In respect of his Divine and Spiritual Precepts, that God hath founded in Reason, and the Law of the Creation; concerning which, we need not that one should ask another, as in the Carnal and Mosaical Institution; which being Foreign to Nature, and containing so many Precepts, a Man had need to ask, What am I to do next? What in such or such a Case? But in respect to these Pre <342> cepts, these eternal Rights, these Principles of immutable and unchangeable Goodness and Truth: God hath written them in Mens Hearts, and hath put them into their Minds: And this is the meaning of those Words, if you consult the Context; for they are put into a contradistinction to these Mosaical Institutions. But for these great Points, the Rectitude of a Man’s Nature and Purity of his Mind, did continually lead him to them. The great Moralist tells us, [152]That the Seeds of all Vertue are sown into our own Nature; and if we did but suffer them to grow up, they would lead us into all happy Living. This is true in a Sense inclusive of God’s Grace and Assistance; as declaratory of the Issue of good endeavours, true use, improvement, and exercise of our Faculties: Or thus; this is to be understood, cum bono Deo, with Divine Protection, Grace and Assistance supposed, and upon good endeavours, true use, improvement, and Exercise of our Faculties. But on the other side, where Men sink down into Sensuality and Bruitishness, or become Light-headed, or intoxicated with vain Persuasions, or lay asleep the noble Powers and Principles of Humane Nature, or contradict them by violent and unnatural practice, all things prove contrary to the intent of God’s Creation: There is Darkness, Confusion and inward Torture.

[153]Men may work themselves out of Nature’s Fence, {sic} out of Judgment of Truth, by ill use, custom and practice. This you may take for granted, That Men will not long continue to think well, after once they come to affect, or do otherwise than they should: For these two in conjunction, the Affection of the Mind, and Practice, will bear up with too great a force against Judgment alone. Therefore if Men speak well, and they themselves think and mean well; yet if they do not love Goodness and Righ <343> teousness, and do not live well, there is no hold of them. It is just the case of Hazael, 2 Kings 8. 13. The Prophet tells him what prodigious things he should do; and he thinks it was not impossible for him to do such things: But, What, is thy Servant a Dog, that he should do this great thing? yet for all he was thus forewarned, had all possible advantage, yet he did these things. Therefore this is that I observe, if Men give themselves up to loose Practice, their Judgment will be counterbalanced by contrary Life and Practice. For the habituated Sinner (as ever one doth become by Use, Custom, and practice of Evil: The habituated Sinner) follows the Inclination of his Mind, against Reason and Judgment; he doth not consult the Precepts of Righteousness, but he doth what is next. When a Man is One, so in respect of his Reason and Understanding, that for his Inclination, he is not such; it is easily guessed what such a Man will come to. For single Judgment will not long hold out against setled Disposition and Habit. If Judgment be once corrupted, nothing is left to make any Resistance, as the Apostle expresseth it, 1 Tim. 6. 5. Men of corrupt Minds, and destitute of the Truth. And 2 Tim. 3. 8. Now as James and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the Truth: Men of corrupt Minds, reprobate concerning the Faith. Such Men down-right resist the Truth. Hence it is that so many Men are so much Shipwrecked, so much broken, and come to nought. One would wonder how some are spoiled as they are: It is the Prodigy of the World: Nothing in the inferior World is equal to this Degeneracy of Rational Agents; who by violent practice have born down all before them, that they may quietly enjoy their Lusts. But here is the Case: Wickedness, and the Malignity of a Man’s Heart, doth vitiate and spoil a Man’s Temper: Wherefore let me advise you, let me pro <344> pose upon account of Religion, two things; that every body, as he loves his Life, he would use care to establish in his own Soul a Throne of Judgment; and then take care that Heart and Life be reformed by it. And this I call Religion. It is an Inlet to a Flood of Evil; a little departure from Judgment. Two Evils follow upon it: First, It is far harder to return to a Man’s Judgment than to have stood to it. Secondly. One false Act it doth betray a Man; it is to the weakening of his Judgment; and Judgment of Right is the first and leading Principle of Religion.

Now I have done with this Observation: Upon the whole, I will make one other Observation; and that is this, to prevent a Mistake: Our Apostle here in this Chapter, goes on declaring the way of Sinners being received by God, and I have followed the Apostle: But where is he now? He is now come to treat of the natural Knowledge of God, and the fatal issue of an ineffectual entertainment of it.

I will make this Advantage of it, to prevent all Mistakes, That Men are not wanting to preach the Doctrine of the Gospel, or to preach Christ, tho’ they do not name Christ in every Period of Words; who contend for all Effects of real Goodness, and decry every Wickedness. If this be not so, our Apostle hath greatly forgot himself. If Men contend for the effects of real Goodness, and decry Wickedness, they do truly and properly preach Christ. And this is the Reason; for this is the effect of Christ, and this is Christ’s business. [154]God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless us. {illeg} turning away every one of us from his Sins. Wherefore whosoever doth deal with Men to leave off Sin, preaches Christ, and carries on Christ’s Work. [155]That Repentance and Remission of Sins should be preached in his Name. They preached Christ <345> who preached Repentance. And again: [156]The Grace of God that bringeth Salvation. What doth that teach? To deny Ungodliness and worldly Lusts; and to live Soberly, Righteously, and Godly. Here are the Effects of Morality. Therefore talk no more against Moral Preachers: For they who call upon Men to live Godly, Righteously, and Soberly, they carry on the Work of Christ, and these Men preach Christ. And (to add no more) by the Promises [157]we are made partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the Corruption that is in the World through Lust. Therefore it is not Christianity to use the Name of Christ, as we do use a Charm; or only as a Badge of a Profession; as all they do who affect to use the Name of Christ unintelligibly, insignificantly, unaccountably. For to speak of Christ really, and to speak Sence when I name him, two things are to be understood: For Christ doth denote two things. First, A Person engaged for us, in a way well understood; for we are told it, and have learned it, and can give an account of it. And, Secondly, he doth denote a Nature in us, which we very well feel in us, and can express. He therefore holds forth Christ, that speaks to either of these Purposes: Sometimes to one, and sometimes to the other, as the Argument leads him. And by the way, let Men understand what it is to preach Christ: See how the Apostle begins in the 16th Verse, and goes on in the 19th Verse. So that Christ is preached, tho’ in every Sentence he be not named, if the Business of Christ be done, and the Work of Christ carried on.

Now I am to give you an account of these Words: Professing themselves to be wise, they became Fools.


You are to understand these Words spoken of Persons that are quite out of the way of true Reason, and sober Religion. I would consider these Words two ways: First, Absolutely, as in themselves: And secondly, In relation to the words that go and follow after. In the former way, they afford us this Observation, they who think themselves to be wise, are least of all so: They who conceit themselves to be Wise are the veriest Fools: None more really mad than those that flatter themselves, and conceit themselves to be some Body. For these Men fail in that that is the very first Principle of Reason with all wise Men, viz. know thy self: And they fail against the great direction of Divine Wisdom, [158]In all thy ways acknowledge God, and he shall directs {sic} thy paths; and the direction of the Prophet: [159]Thus saith the Lord, let not the Wise-man glory in his Wisdom, &c. For [160]whosoever trusteth in his own Heart is a Fool. They are a great deal worse for their self-conceit: For conceit doth intoxicate, and make Men neglective of the means of Knowledge. Whosoever are conceited, are self-flatterers: And toward others, they are very Importune, Grievous, and Troublesome whosoever happens to fall into the Hands of a self-conceited Person, who always is a self-flatterer, and in respect of others an Imposer; I appeal to this Man to estimate and to judge the Beauty and Excellency of those Divine Vertues, Modesty, and Humility; to him these are sufficiently recommended. These kind of Persons they do little consider those things that rule in the Life of Man, neither the uncertainty of things; otherwise they would talk less peremptorily: They have little weighed the many Temptations, and various Representations that are made to Man; nor our insufficiency, either to act or determine wisely, in the several occasions of Life; which whosoever hath taken into consideration, he is Moderate and Wary. But these Men have over-looked <347> all these, and take upon them to dictate and declare, and controul all Mens sense: These Men are full of themselves indeed, but really empty and shallow. I dare, without violation of Charity, determine thus far; he is not for certain a Wise-man, who either thinks himself Able enough for his own defence against all things that may befal him; or Wise enough for his own direction; or Good enough for his own satisfaction. This I offer upon a general consideration, taking these Words out of the Context, Professing themselves to be Wise, they became Fools.

Secondly. I consider these words as they stand in the Context, and as in conjunction with what comes after: They changed the Glory of the uncorruptible God into an Image made like to corruptible Man, and changed the Truth of God into a Lie. in conjunction with these other Words, I observe, that it is not at all the wisdom, knowledge, or largeness of Mens Understandings; but their Headiness, Fondness Presumption and Folly to do any thing in Religion, without true Reason or Divine Direction: It is the folly and madness of Men, to be found out of the way of Reason, or Divine Direction; for where God doth not resolve in particular, by some piece of Revealed Truth; there God refers Men to the Principles of his Creation, Reason. Wherefore if you have not a Text of Scripture, be rational in what you do: For what is rationally done, will justifie it self; for what is without Reason, is without Efficacy; and what is not from God we cannot think will recommend us to God: As in particular, the forming of an Image of God; the second Commandment against it; no Reason at all for the use of Images in Divine Worship, and I am sure no Institution of God in the case. For since the date of the Institutions of Christ; the true Christian Worship is to [161]Worship God in Spirit, and to Rejoyce in the Lord <348> Jesus: The former because God is a Spirit, the latter because Christ is the way to God. One God and one Mediator: and Heb. 13. 15. By him therefore let us offer the Sacrifice of Praise to God continually: Which imports owning and acknowledging the Head. Wherefore, as no other Object of Worship, than the God that made Heaven and Earth, so no other means of Worship, but the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom whosoever comes to God certainly finds access, [162]Acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. And to me it is very remarkable, what St. John the beloved Disciple closeth his Epistle with, [163]Little Children keep your selves from Idols. Which gives us strong Intimation, that in the Christian State, there may be Danger of Idols. And then Worshipping the Creature more than, or above the Creator. I a little vary that, for I think that Condemnation reacheth no Body: I read it therefore in conjunction with the Creator: Not that they did Prefer them, but conjoyn them. Now the Text saith, these kind of Persons became Fools in so doing. And it is strange that any that pretend to adore God should do it so poorly; that instead of Religion, they should be accounted mad and foolish: For this there are these two accounts wherein the Madness and Folly doth consist.

[164]First. Scripture calls it so. They cut down a Tree, with Part thereof they build a House, with Part thereof they make a Fire, and with the residue thereof they make a God. Now, saith the Prophet, they consider not in their Hearts how dull and sottish they are in thus doing: None considereth in his Heart, neither is there Knowledge, nor Understanding, to say, I have burnt part of it in the Fire, yea also I have baked Bread upon the Coals thereof, I have roasted Flesh and eaten it, and shall I make the residue thereof an Abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a Tree? Thus it is judged therefore, if the Scripture be called to give Judgment <349> in the case. The like you have in Jer 10th. 11th. A remarkable place both for the Argument, and the Language of the place. The Gods that have not made the Heavens and the Earth, even they shall perish, from the Earth, and from under these Heavens. In these Words there is Argument enough. The God’s that did not make these Heavens and this Earth, they are not Supream: but the God that made the Heavens and the Earth, he, and he alone, is Supream and Sovereign. Then for their Language: Whereas all before is Hebrew, this is put into the Chaldean Language, as words that they might then understand, when they should be in Captivity. And Psal. 97. 7. Confounded be all they that serve graven Images, that boast themselves of Idols; and Deut. 4. 12. And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the Fire, ye heard the voice of the Words, but saw not similitude, only ye heard a Voice. It is too much for any Creature to take upon him to make a Shechina, a place of Divine Inhabitation, a thing God seems jealous off, 2 Sam. 7. 5. Shalt thou build a House for me to dwell in? Spake I a word about it? Even where he accepted Davids good meaning. That is the first, the sense of Scripture.

Secondly. In the Nature of the thing: No grosser Folly in the World, nor greater wrong to our selves, than upon account of Conscience, or in point of Religion, to come under Obligation to any thing that is not materially true, as verified either in Reason or Scripture; and that for these Reasons, (1st.) All such is the Person’s Superstition; and is not a Foundation of Reward: For I take it thus, that if any make themselves to be bound in Conscience, where they are not, they are superstitious; and though they may by God be Pardoned, yet this is no Foundation of a Reward; but so far forth they are loosers, Builders with Hay and Stubble, 1 Cor. 3. 15. (2dly.) A Man parts with his Liberty, (which is a <350> dear and choice thing,) where he should not; and this is clean contrary to 1 Cor. 6. 12. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the Power of any. I speak now of things admitted as matters of Religion, or as parts of it; for there is great difference between Parts of Worship, and Circumstances of Worship. I meddle not with things wherein Men may submit to their Superiour, or comply with their Brother. In things of an indifferent Nature, we may without offence to our Judgment and Conscience, observe Superiours, or comply with our Brethren, to encrease Love and Good-will; and use our own Christian Prudence and Liberty: For the thing in its own Nature doth not determine us: But we enslave, and bring our selves into Bondage, when we are bound in respect of internal sense and judgment; where things are not necessarily due or made due by some appointment of God, I take it for granted where Scripture doth not limit or direct us, there God doth refer us to the former Communications of himself, in the Light of his Creation. Now if that a Man receives be not materially true, he doth receive that as from God, that is not from him. And (2dly.) he gives that to it, that he should give to God, (3dly.) he doth subject himself to that that is not Sovereign to him, as Reason, which is his Home Informer and Monitor within his own Breast. It is Mans Natural Perfection and therefore there is more due to Reason than to those things that are but his Imagination, (4thly.) it is not Restaurative to him in his lapsed State, as all things in Religion are, if it be not materially true, solid in it self, real and substantial; or hath not warrant from God, it hath no Restaurative Vertue to Man, in his ruined and lapsed Condition; and therefore doth not deserve that Man should pay that to it, that is due to Reason, or Religion. My 5th. Reason is this, That if Men admit any <351> thing into the repute of their Religion that is not instrinsically Rational, or truly warrantable; they lay stress upon that that will not bear weight, and therefore will deceive them: For it is not as the Fool thinks, but as things really are. Now this otherwhere is accounted Weakness and Shallowness, which Men that would be thought wise, are most unwilling to be accounted guilty of. Nothing betrays any Man more for Folly than false Confidences, and lying Refuges, Prov. 14. 15. A Man doth himself a much greater wrong, by doing a ridiculous Act, than if a thousand Men should bestow the Name of Fool upon him. In this Case of laying weight upon things above what they can bear; expecting from them that that is not in them, Men put the Fool upon themselves; which is worse: For if others do it, we easily suffer the wrong; but if we do it our selves, of whom shall we demand satisfaction? Thus have I done with the second Consideration: That it is Madness and Folly in Men, to charge upon themselves that that hath no Foundation in Reason or Divine Authority. Therefore give me Religion that is grounded in Reason, and by Divine Authority; and that doth attain real Effects, such as are worthy. In short, to instance in Particulars: The Religion that makes Men humble and modest; not proud and conceited; That makes Men poor in Spirit; not full of their own Mind; not given up to their own Sense, and thereupon to Selfwill: The Religion that makes Men good-natur’d; not all for themselves: That makes Men loving, and not hard-hearted: That makes Men kind, not harsh and cruel: The Religion that makes Men patient, not furious and outragious: That makes Men mild and gentle, not revengeful: The Religion that makes Men subject and obedient to Government and Authority; not that that is turbulent and troublesome: The Reli <352> gion that makes Men courteous, affable, and sociable, not sour, morose, and dogged: That makes Men ready to forgive, not implacable: The Religion that makes Men favourable in making best Constructions of Word, Carriages, and Behaviour, and not that that makes Men Offenders for a Word, as the Prophet speaks, Esai 29. 21. Such severe captious Persons there are, that make a Man an Offender for every Word that cometh out of his Mouth: The Religion that makes Men ready to commiserate in every compassionable Case, as we hope God does, Samaritan like, tender-hearted; not as the Jews, that would have no Dealings or Converse but with those of their own Nation, unless they agreed with them in all their Modes. This is what Religion is in its proper Effects; and if this Religion took but place in the World, we should All find our selves the better for it.


Discourse XXV.

The miserable Degeneracy of Men through their Affectation of Atheism and Practice of Wickedness.

Rom. 1. 28, 32.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their Knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate Mind, &c.

Who knowing the Judgment of God, (that they which commit such things are worthy of Death) not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

[165]You may remember, that for the remaining part of this Chapter, I only proposed to speak two things. The Miscarriages of Sinners: And the Judgment of God upon these Miscarriages. Concerning Mens Miscarriages I have spoken already; that is, Mens knowing that there is a God, and not glorifying him as God: That Men being beholden to God, are not Thankful: That Men run out into vain Imagination, grow conceited and foolish; concerning Mens Vanity in modelling Worship to their own Fancies, making an Image of the uncorruptible God like to corruptible Man. There remains two more, of which I will speak, and then proceed to those forms of Words which represent God’s displeasure; as giving Men up to their own Hearts Lusts, <354> to vile affections, and to reprobacy of Mind. Only two Miscarriages remain now to be spoken to, verse the 28th. and verse the 32d. If the time will permit I will give you an account of these two at this time; and afterwards give you an account of God’s Indignation, and Displeasure upon this high provocation. And truly this form of Words, verse the 28th. Not like to retain God in their Knowledge: They do not only challenge Sinners but also give us a fair account: And it is admirable and satisfactory to understand things aright; and things are never known but when we see them in their Causes and Principles. [166]He is a Wise-man that understands things from the Causes and Principles of them: Not liking to retain God in their Knowledge. Whence I observe, that it is not so much that there is difficulty in the Knowledge of God; it is not a real difficulty or uncertainty concerning the Being of God, that God is so little known, or regarded in the World; neither is it so much Man’s Impotency and Incapacity, that he lives without God in the World; as it is his Unwillingness Averseness, and Disaffection. It is that that is his Affectation, either that God is not, or that he is unconcerned. And this is a great Truth: For we must know that it is very monstrous, and horridly degenerate, to be off from the Original of Being: [167]This Being Universal in Nature, whence we are, by the same are we maintained. And so the Prophet represents it. [168]Hear, O Heavens, and give ear O Earth, for the Lord hath spoken: Which is a reproach to Man, intimating that it is better speaking to the Brutes, than to Men that are become brutish, What? I have nourished and brought up Children, and they have rebelled against me. And verse the 3d. The Ox knoweth his Owner, and the Ass his Masters Cribb; but Israel doth not know, my People doth not consider. And so the Prophet Malachi; [169]A Son Honoureth his Father, and a Servant his Master: <355> If then I be a Father, where is mine Honour? And if I be a Master, where is my Fear? But this is the baseness, that doth accompany Unrighteous dealing, that where we have begun to wrong God, there we proceed to hate him, or at least to wish he were not. And this you may observe in all bad Natures; he is made an Enemy, not only who hath done an ill Office, but he whom he hath wronged: Not only he is an Enemy that hath done an ill Office, but he is an Enemy also, whom this bad Natured Man hath wronged. For where we have once done an injury, we take it for granted, the injured Person is our Enemy, and then go about to disable him, for our own security. Bad Natures that are full of Naughtiness, are unacquainted with that noble disposition that enclines Men to Pardon: And therefore wheresoever they have injured, they hate. Thus it is between Man and Man, and so it is between God and Man. For Men think of God as they are themselves: [170]Thou thoughtest I was altogether such a one as thy self. But on the contrary, see what the Grace of the Gospel leads Men to in case of failure or miscarriage: The Grace of the Gospel bids Deprecate, Repent, Acknowledge, leave off to Sin, do so no more, ask God forgiveness: So vast a difference there is between the Strain of the World, and the Spirit of Religion; the tempers of the subjects differ as much as the State of Heaven and Hell. One of these, he in whom the Spirit of Religion dwells, thus he thinks and saith to God, [171]whom have I in Heaven but thee? Who in Earth that I desire in comparison with the {sic}? It is good for me to draw near to God. Attract and draw me to thee, and stay me with thee. But the Other, [172]God is not in all his thoughts: [173]God far from his Reins: And the sense of his Soul is, [174]Depart from us, we will not the Knowledge of thy ways. This then is my Observation, future subjective misery is not any forreign imposition by Power, but <356> it is an acquired Constitution of Man’s Mind and Spirit: It is guilt upon Mens Consciences, and a Malignity of Spirit. For me thinks, the Phrase in the Text is very Characteristical, Not liking to retain God in their Knowledge: Which is a note of remarkable Distinction.

Now, least I may discourage any Body, either by declaring that which he finds not practicable, or in that he is sensible of his own shortness, I here declare, two things do not amount to the case in the Text; of not likeing to retain God in their Knowledge.

First. An unavoidable Interruption, or a Cessation from actual Thoughts of God, at times. For this cannot be remedied, because of the necessity of our weak Natures. There must be Eating, Drinking, and Sleeping. Also these Minds of ours will not bear Divine Cogitation; and we cannot, in this State, bear too intense Thoughts of God; though truly there is no great Danger in it neither; for the worst of it would be to die by Philosophy: We may be swallowed up by mental Contemplation of the Deity it self.

Secondly. There are Avocations of business in a way of ordinary Employment; and this not only lawful for us, but it is necessary for us to regard them. And to these two I add, that there are Indispositions occasionally, when Men are out of temper. The best of us all doth not find himself always alike, and how it comes to pass he cannot tell.

It is not a negative Cessation from actual Thoughts of God for a time, that doth interrupt our Communion with him; but a private Defection, and taking up of our Hearts in receiving full satisfaction in the things of this Life: A staying too long abroad from God, or committing Spiritual Fornication with the Creature. When we over-look overtures from God, are wanting to season and <357> opportunity: When we do not close with remarkable, advantages to retire a while, and think of God: This is a private Defection, and that that is culpable. In short, Three things are prejudicial to our Duty toward God, and our Happiness in enjoyment of him. First. If there be an inward Displacency, an habitual Indisposition, and Aversation. Secondly. If there be a long and a tedious Vacancy from acts of acknowledgment of God, and a sence of our dependence upon him. For Men may grow strangers, by never meeting. Thirdly. When there is not due Subordination of Temporals to Spirituals. But otherwise here is my rule, he cannot be thought to neglect his Journey, who intends it in the Morning when he sets out, and reserves to himself day-room enough, and keeps on in his way, till he comes to his Journeys end. So whosoever doth acknowledge God at his first setting out, when I awake I am still with thee, either from my natural Rest, or to every new undertaking: Now he that begins with God, that is, he takes care that he engages himself in that that is warranted by God, and goes by rules of Action, and is sensible of his own insufficiency (who is but a second Cause) without the assistance of God, who is the first Cause, and useth proper means; he doth not lie under the charge of the Text. Two cautions here I will give: First, That all observe things in order to the end. Secondly, Nothing destructive, nothing inconsistent: That is for the Second. Though employed in our worldly business, and without actual thoughts of God for a while, we are not to charge our selves, with not liking to retain God in our Minds. Then the third, that we are not always our selves. This will be wholly unavoidable, during this State. For while these three things are, the best of Men cannot promise himself to be in that temper, in which he allows himself to be.


First. While encumbred with Bodies, which are very apt to be weather-wise; and it is only a Man that is transcendently wise, that can overcome bodily Temper: But such a Man is a Rarity in the World. Very good Men find themselves ill disposed, from these dull and gross Bodies: Our Bodies are affected by change of time. These Gallant Men, the Platonists, did mightily complain of dulness and stupidity of Body, here there must be allowance: For no Man’s Body hears the Reason of his Mind. The Body is not capable of Instruction, but must be governed by other arts; by abstinence and Temperance, and Compliance with Seasons.

Secondly. While we are liable to be at times Surprised with sudden Emergencies, which busy our Heads, and take up our thoughts, and employ them: If that fall out, that we look not for. We have instances of some, that have dyed either with sudden joy, or grief. Sudden Emergences take up our thoughts how to behave our selves in such a case.

Thirdly. While we fall into variety of Converse. In different Companies, things pass under different and various Representations. So that a Man sometimes finds other Mens Opinions better than his own; which gives us occasion to vary our Opinion of things, and presently to be of another Opinion. And this is for the better; for we that are Finite and Fallible ought not to think our selves wise enough for our own direction, nor able enough for our own preservation, nor good enough to our own satisfaction. In this case, a Man is all of a sudden dispossessed of himself, and carried out to new Apprehensions. This will employ a Man, as if he had the Government of the World in his Hands: These things make a Man to be less himself, and not pursue his former intention.


This is all the abatement that I can give you, for assurance that you are not in this condemnation, Of not liking to retain God in your Minds, because you are in a disposition from one, or more of these three things. But for a Caution on the other side, great care must be taken: If this indisposition be contracted by Guilt, by an undue act, or any culpable Neglect; then take care of two things. First. That assoon {sic} as may be, Conscience be relieved and eased, and the Guilt taken off in the way the Gospel doth direct. Secondly. That the Integrity of your disposition Godward be recovered, by the Motions of serious Repentance; which is always attended with great Humility, and sense of our own Weakness, Apprehension of our necessary dependance upon God, and double care for the time to come, and after-diligence. For though it is possible for a regenerate Man to fall, and to Sin; yet it is true that St. John saith, [175]whosoever is born of God doth not commit Sin: If he do Sin, he passes into another Nature: ’Tis unnatural to the regenerate state to commit Sin. Then he doth not like himself; if he do not recover himself by Repentance, if he doth not renew his Repentance, and his Faith. And no Man can assure himself, that his Repentance is sincere, unless conjoyn’d with deep Humility, and a sense of our own Weakness, and an Apprehension of our necessary dependance upon God, and unless he doth really intend to be more watchful over himself, and diligent for the time to come. It is not Religion for a Man to confess Sin, and to commit it: And commit Sin, and confess it. But whosoever doth confess Sin, and pray to God for pardon, he ought certainly to use all means to preserve himself for time to come, that he sin not in the same kind. And he is not only distempered, but is plainly dead in Sin, who is never awakened, to look out after means of recovery.


And this is the Caution I superadd, that the Point I am upon may not be a Doctrine of Carelessness. I reserve the case of unavoidable Interruption, or cessation from actual Thoughts of God at times. But if an Aversation towards God, contracted by Guilt of Sin, or any undue Act, or culpable Neglect, then care be taken, that as soon as may be, Conscience may be relieved and eased, and the Guilt taken off in the way the Gospel doth direct. Any body that hath received a Wound, the first thing he doth he goeth to a Surgeon. If any one have taken Poyson (though by Accident) he presently goes to an Antidote. So if any Man have wrought himself into an Aversation Godward, by consenting to known Evil, he must look upon himself as having admitted Poyson; he hath sinned against his own Life: Therefore his first care must be, to make his Peace with God, and relieve his Conscience from Guilt by Repentance: And that it appear to be real, let it be accompanied with deep Humility, and a Sense of his own Weakness, and an Apprehension of his necessary Dependance upon God; and let him be more watchful over himself, and diligent for the time to come, that he do not wrong his Soul, or give his God an Offence a second time.

I now pass on to discourse of the 32d Verse.

Who knowing the Judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of Death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

This is the last Character that represents the degenerate State of miserable Mortals. I have spoken to all the former heretofore: Now in short to this. <361> And I will only gloss in four or five Particulars upon these Words.

First, Who knowing.] This is highly observable, and of great advantage to us; whereupon our Apostle lays the stress of Mens Sin, the aggravation of Mens Sin; and whereupon he grounds Mens being liable and obnoxious to Condemnation within themselves, and Condemnation from God. Knowing.] viz. Upon their natural Capacity of knowing there is a God, and knowing there is a vast difference of things. This is the Foundation we stand upon, against the Atheism and Profaneness of a dissolute World. And I dare assure any affected Atheist in the World, that if he can implead God at the Day of Judgment, that God did not make him to know God, and to know that there is a great difference between Good and Evil; he shall stand in his Cause. And pray observe how often this is repeated by the Apostle; and he lays it down for his Foundation every where, where he doth reprove and challenge, verse the 19th. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them, Verse the 20th. For the invisible things from the Creation of the World are clearly seen, Verse the 21st. Because that when they knew God, Verse the 28th. And even as they did not like to retain God in their Knowledge. He makes this the Condemnation of Men; intimating that Man hath the Knowledge of God and Sense of Deity; but takes no pleasure in any thoughts of God. And then in this place, Who knowing the Judgment of God, &c. And pray of whom doth the Apostle speak all this? Not of Men that were disciplined in any way of Worship; but he speaks this of Men we call Heathens; and he chargeth all this upon them in respect of the natural Principle. This we are to understand, that God did more than a little, when he made Man Intelligent and <362> Voluntary: And in this respect he doth represent God more than all the Creation below him; and herein Men are made in the Image of God upon a Natural Account. And wheresoever there is in the Make, a Principle of Reason of Understanding, there is a Foundation of Religion and Conscience. Now let this be our Justification, if any one calls us Moralists only, and not Divines; That we write after the Apostles Example, and imitate the Apostles, when we do build upon the Foundation God hath laid, when we build upon Natural Principles, the Principles of God’s Creation: And, which is further observable, the Apostle speaks all this of the degenerate State of Mankind. They therefore miserably represent God in the World, that think he will Judge his Creatures by his Power: He will examine them by the Principles he gave them in the moment of his Creation, and we need not fear being condemned of God, if we are not self-condemned. That is the first.

Secondly. The Judgment of God. That is a remarkable Word in the Greek, τὸ δικαίωμα. Whence I do observe, That all God’s Imposition upon Men, all his Injunctions, all his Institutions, whether they are in a way of Command or Prohibition, they are all the Fruits of Wisdom and Understanding, in conjunction with Righteousness. They are either just in themselves, or else the Use of his Rightful Power. For Power, Dominion, and Property he hath over his Creatures. In the State of Creation we read not of any thing Positive, but one single Prohibition. And without doubt it was the Right of him that raised a Creature out of nothing, to have limited him more if he had pleased. In the Gospel-State nothing at all is Positive, but what is useful, expedient, and convenient. There is nothing but what the necessity of Man’s Apostacy did call in and <363> require. As for instance; here you have a Summary of the Gospel, as it is a Superaddition to the Law of the Creation; To go to God in the Name of Christ: And then the Two Sacraments. These three make up the Superaddition of the Gospel to the Religion of the Creation. Then for the Religion of the Creation; those famous, glorious, eminent, universal Rights, these are of universal acknowledgment; to wit, to live in all Reverence of God; to be sober and temperate in the Government of our selves; Just and Righteous in our Dealings one with another; or, as the Prophet saith, [176]To do justly, and love Mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. But that all the Dispensations of God to Man are all Sentences of Justice and Righteousness; besides that in Reason, we cannot otherwise think, Scripture abundantly declares. [177]Righteous art thou, O Lord, and true in all thy Judgments. [178]Is there Unrighteousness in God? God forbid. [179]Can God by Power do any thing that is contrary to right? And the Apostle, [180]He shall judge the World in Righteousness. And this makes me superadd a little more: For this Word in the Text, as it may import the Righteousness of God[181] in his Sentences, so it may also the Righteousness of God in justifying Creatures; and when he comes to controul and punish the Exorbitancy of a Creature, he doth not at all exceed. I will make two Inferences and pass on.[182] Then there is no Wrong from God to any Creature, nor any hard measure. Nothing is more certain, than that God hateth nothing that he hath made; His tender Mercies are over all his Works. Secondly. If this be a Law of Heaven, where there is a Power that cannot be resisted, where there is fulness of Liberty: If this be a Law with Heaven, That all the Proceedings from God to his Creatures be Righteous and Just; why should not finite and fallible Creatures think it worthy of themselves, to be <364> [183] limited to ways of Reason? Why should not we think it becomes us to justifie what we do or require, by the Reason of things? Let a Man but think thus, he that will do because he will; let him but ask himself, Suppose his Superior should govern by that measure, what a case or condition should he be in? Since therefore God, who hath a Power; since all his ways are regulated and confined by Laws of Reason and Justice; he is a most degenerate Creature, that will do because he will; and cares not to be ruled by any Reason.

Thirdly. Who knowing the Judgment of God.] Wherein Men are concerned, they may know, and may have an account of the dealings of God with them, that they are Just and Righteous. And is there better Quarter in all the World? Doth any one desire more, either of Parent or Brother, than that he should have no other Usage but what is justifiable by Reason? Upon this account only we are self-condemned, if we do not observe Gods Injunctions: For Negative Infidelity will never destroy any: But that Men do not receive when they are offered, or do when they may. God is not an Egyptian Task-master. I dare say, to the Honour of God, that if he lay no Foundation, he doth not look for any Superstructure. If he doth not give a Capacity, no more accountable than the Irrationals are. But if they know; according to their Knowledge they are under Obligation to Obedience. There is nothing, wherein the World hath more agreed, than in these two: A Universal general Cause, and that there is in themselves a vast difference between Good and Evil upon a Moral consideration. A general consent of Nations in this matter.

Fourthly. That they who commit such things are worthy of Death. There is a Worthiness of Death in the things they do, whom God condemns. We <365> are apt to fly in the Face of God, and think if God would, we may do what we will; and if God would pardon, we may live as we list, and no harm done. It is not the Inflictor, but the Demeritorious Cause that is worthy of blame: For the very things that they do are deadly things: Yea, they are materially Death it self. For what is Sin but the Death of the Soul? and we say the Person guilty is dead in Law, there needs nothing but the Declaration of it, and making it out. Now Sin is the Death of the Soul; for Sin divides from God, the Fountain of Life; and none can have Life, but by communication and participation; wherefore it as necessarily follows, that there should be Death, if Sin interposeth, as there is a necessity there should be Darkness, if any thick Body interpose, and cut off the Beams of the Sun from us.

Two Inferences. 1st. We are then quite out of danger of God’s Power, Prerogative or Dominion over us, if we do not betray our selves; if there be no Guilt, we need not fear God slavishly at all. For if you be not guilty, you are not obnoxious; is great Power is your Preservation.

2dly. Wilful Sinners are Self-murtherers, ruine their own Souls. They are as truly Self-murtherers, as he that shall know a thing is Poyson, and yet takes it.

Fifthly. Not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. I observe from these Words, Men make themselve obnoxious, otherwise than by their own personal Acts. A Man is not only guilty for what he doth, but for what he takes pleasure in. A Man may make himself guilty, by applauding, or approving an evil Act after it is done, by shewing complacency or assent to what is evilly done. Wherefore all Abettors, <366> all Counsellors, all Consentors, all that after take pleasure in the thing done, all that justifie the Person that do it, they are all guilty.

I will close this with two Inferences.

First. Let me charge you highly to take care of your Company. For though you are well resolved, that for your own selves you will do nothing but what is Just; yet if you be in Company, and take pleasure; yea, I dare say, by being silent, you will become obnoxious.

Secondly. Let me advise every one when he enters into secret to make his Peace with God, that he then call to mind what Company he hath been in, and what hath been done by his Company and Converse. Let us consider the Iniquities of the Vicinage, our Relations, or Persons of our Converse: Some of these may be in some measure ours also; though not our personal Acts. To justifie, to countenance, and take pleasure in Sin committed by another, is not less bad than to do it our selves. Now for this I will give you this Account. It argues more of a depraved Mind: For he that doth it, may be induced by the Temptation of Pleasure, or Profit; but he that takes pleasure in it, sins without a Temptation. To approve of, or take pleasure in what is ill done by another, is a greater Sin than he that doth it is guilty of; because it is with a less Temptation; for they are not induced at all by the Temptation, either of Pleasure or Profit; but these Men are of more havocked Consciences, and more degenerate Minds.

’Tis very likely that these Men have more naturalized themselves to the Malignity of naughty Acts, and have by former base Use, Custom, <367> and Practice, alienated themselves from respect toward God, and love of Righteousness: So that they have forced away all the Ingenuity and Modesty of Nature. For to approve of, and take pleasure in the Impudency, Madness and Folly of others, is to sin either upon no, or a less Temptation: Whereas to sin by Weakness, or upon a Temptation, is the only colourable Pretence and Apology. And this is the Account I give for this, that as a Man may be guilty by Participation, where he doth not actually do, so in some Cases, he that doth not do the Act, but takes pleasure in it, may be the Worst of the Two.


Discourse XXVI.

Rom. 1. part of the 24th. the 26th. and the 28th. Verses.

24th. Wherefore God also gave them up to Uncleanness.

26th. For this cause God gave them up unto vile Affections.

28th. And even as they did not like to retain God in their Knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate Mind.

[184]You may remember the order and method I proposed to my self, to treat of the remaining part of the Chapter. Having given you an account of the dreadful Miscarriages of Mortals, who hold the Truth of God in Unrighteousness, and did not love to retain the Knowledge of God in their Minds, but affected to be Atheists; I now come to the second part: That is, the Punishment of these Sinners, and horrid Transgressors, and that is on God’s Part. and you have these forms of Words to express them. God gave them up to uncleanness: To vile affections: To a reprobate Mind. But before I speak to that that is consequent to voluntary consenting to known iniquity, or gross neglect of God and themselves, which are the adequate opposites to God, and Religion; I find <369> it requisite for God’s Honour, to give you an account what hand God hath, either in the Sin of his Creatures, or in the Sinners Misery; because it is said, God gave them up, &c. This truly hath been one of the hardest Questions in the World; how evil came into the Creation, since God was Good and made all Good? My business therefore shall be to shew you, that neither the evil of Sin, nor the evil of Punishment is from God. For if God be the first and chiefest Good, as indeed he is, then Sin is not that that he hath decreed or designed; but it is inseperable from the Miscarriage of Creatures. I shall give you an account of the saddest place in all the Bible; Where you have it; [185]Make the Heart of this People fat, and make their Ears heavy, and shut their Eyes, least they see with their Eyes, and hear with their Ears, and understand with their Heart, and convert and be healed. This place is no less than six times referred to in the New Testament; you have it in all the four Evangelists, in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles to the Romans.[186] The six first Books in the New Testament. To give you some account of this. There is an Excellent Distinction in one of the Fathers, Chrysostome he saith; that seeing they may see, and not perceive, &c. that is, not that God had any such Intention, or that God would have it so: But so it comes to pass, so it falls out, this is the Natural Issue of Mens not dealing ingenuously with Truth; they are the worse for their Notions. But more of that hereafter. I am now to give you an account, that evil is not to be Attributed to God: yet I find that the Scripture doth frequently Attribute it to him, but you must understand it this. Because God is the first Universal and general Cause of all things, therefore the Scripture Attributes and ascribes all things that are to him. But when you come to an Explication, there is as vast a difference as between God and the <370> Devil, Heaven, and Hell, Light and Darkness, Good and Evil. Some things are by his Efficiency, some things by his Assistance, and some things by his Permission; that is, he doth not hinder them. For certain we must resolve these two things: First. That God is no true cause of evil: Secondly. That he doth what he will, where he will, when he will, how he will, and thinks not fit to hinder it. For nothing is more certain, than Holiness and Righteousness are the Divine Endowments, and Holiness and Righteousness make it altogether repugnant and impossible for God to have a Hand in evil; whereunto Turpidity, Malignity and Deformity are annexed. If you attribute Malignity, Deformity, Turpitude, the evil of Sin to God, you deny by Moral Endowments, his prime Perfections of Goodness, Holiness, and Righteousness. Wherefore we will absolutely conclude, that whatsoever God doth, by himself immediately, or in conjunction with any second Cause, it is throughly Good, and Worthy the first and chiefest Goodness: And if this be not true, let any Man give me an account of these places of Scripture. [187]Is there Unrighteousness with God? God forbid. [188]Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do Right? [189]He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the World in Righteousness. What doth that intimate? Not by Arbitrary will, but he will proceed according to a certain Rule, such a Rule that is suo jure. It is a great Question in the Book of Job; [190]God by Power or Priviledge, do that that is not Right and just? There is nothing that the Scripture doth more clearly and fully deny than Unrighteousness in any of the ways of God. It is a gallant saying of one of the Fathers: God cannot with Righteousness punish things, that by his Commission are done. No one can be there a just revenger, where he is an evil Author. Therefore God is not the Author of Evil.


In pursuing this assertion I positively lay down two propositions.

First. Antecedently to the Being of Evil, God doth what infinite Wisdom doth direct, or Goodness moves, to Prevent it: That is, by declaring against it, by warning and admonishing, by frustrations, and cross providences. And,

Secondly. Subsequent to the Being of Evil, when Evil is done by an accountable Creature, God where he pleaseth, and when he pleaseth, in his Infinite Goodness, brings good out of it.

First. Antecedently to Evil, God doth what Infinite Wisdom doth think fit, or Goodness moves, to prevent it. He doth warn, admonish, declare against, tho’ he doth not chuse absolutely to hinder it. Now if any one say, but why doth he not engage his Almighty Power absolutely to hinder evil? Four things in answer.

1st. God is not at all bound. No Man can alledge, upon any ground of Reason, that God having made a Creature Intelligent, and Voluntary, accountable to him, punishable if he do ill, rewardable if he do well, that he should every where interpose.

2. Those that are neglectors of God, they do not deserve it, they cannot claim any such Courtesie from him.

3. It is not at all suitable to a Probation-State. We are runners of a race, we work for Eternity, we are now in a preparatory State; how is a Man put upon a Probation, if God by an irresistable Power, should make it impossible for him to fall? What exercise of Vertue, if God by his irresistable Power make Evil impossible?

4. Thus to do is God’s peculiar Kindness, and Courtesie to those that act in God’s Name; that begin with him, and are always sensible of God’s presence with them. That for the First.


Secondly. Subsequently to the being of evil, by a defective or a malicious Cause, Evil having taken effect, God, where, and when he pleaseth, in his Infinite Goodness, brings Good out of it. For sometimes he cures a Man of high presumption, pride, and conceit, by suffering such a Person to fall into a Sin, that brings him to shame. [191]I dare say, saith one of the Fathers, That a proud Man may fall into a Sin that may shame him, and make him see himself. Since many times, if God let such a Man fall into a Sin, it is to humble him, and this is the Goodness of God, when he will bring Good out of Evil, and turn such a Man’s Sin to his Advantage.

Now that God is no cause of Man’s Sin, may appear from these two things; which it becomes us to averr concerning our Creator.

1. That God doth not deny any necessary aid, and assistance before hand, to any of his Creatures.

2. God doth not withdraw, but upon Demerit, Offence, and Provocation: God doth not leave any of his Creatures, before they give him Offence, and first Voluntary forsake and leave him.[192]

He doth not in the First place deny necessary Help. For I account that providence is as sure as God. If Providence, then necessary Help. And Secondly, God doth not withdraw till after provocation, and the Creature first forsakes him. I observe both in the transactions of Communities, and common Affairs of Mankind: These great Truths are acknowledged in Humane things. For in the Arraignment of Malefactors, two things are put in. Done by Diabolical instigation: And, not having the fear of God before their Eyes. Which intimates, First, that God keeps all them that keep to him: Secondly, those that God leaves, the Devil drives. These two things seem to be acknowledged by that that is your Phrase of Arraignment. There are three Terms proper to make use of to explicate this point, Ob <373> jective, Permissive, Judicial; for neither of these denote any Efficiency on God’s part toward evil. All things do work by way of Object with sensible Agents; but they work differently, according to what the Recipient is, what one does in like case, another does not. If I speak of Temptations, by way of Object; it is not to be laid upon the Object, but the disposition of the Agent: for instance, Peter and Judas: Peter through fear denies his Master; Judas through malice, betrays him. Judas, hath Attrition and Desparation; Peter hath Contrition and Repentance. So likewise in Joseph and David: What one takes, another refuses; where one is ensnared, another comes of with Triumph. So that here God is excused in Motion, by way of Object; the effect is not imputed to the Object but to the Agent. For the second way: Permissive concurring in the way of permission; God is not to be charged upon this account; because whosoever is suo juris, hath right of Action, he is not under the prohibition of another. So that what he doth, is imputed to himself, as his own choice, and free Determination; for the Law of Right, and Rule of Reason are the things endued with Power of Warrant and Restraint; and so every Agent whatsoever, he is to consider the immutable and unchangeable Law of Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth: He is to consider the Right of the case, and the Reason of the thing; and so cannot excuse himself, that any Power did not hinder: For he being an Intelligent Agent, and Voluntary; is to be Governed by the Law of Action: So no account to be given, that he was permitted, or that no Superiour Power did hinder him. We in our Judicature leave all Men to their liberty, till there is Conviction: And we never impute that to the Government, that a Malefactor doth amiss: But the fault of the Government is this, when they do not punish <374> condignly. So that herein is a Man’s Sin, that he varies from the Rule of Action. He cannot lay any fault upon any Superiour, that he doth not hinder. We are wont to say, whosoever despiseth God and the Law, he may be Master of another Man’s Life, be the Government under which he lives never so watchful, and never so Right: For here is the greatest security that we have for our lives, that the Law does require that Man’s Life, that takes away anothers. And this is a necessary circumstance to a Probation-State, It is true, as the Scripture tells us, the Apostate Spirits are kept in Chains of Darkness, because God will not trust us in their Hands: But Men that are in a Probation-State, they are at liberty; and it is necessary to a Probation State, that there be Liberty, and that evil be not unavoidable. But then, Thirdly, Judicialiter, as a Judge: Whosoever acts as a Judge, comes after an evil action, for the work of a Judge, is to go according as things are proved. Wherefore the evil is in being, before the work of the Judge is begun. The Judge hath no place till Evil be done, complained of, alledged, and proved, and then he can be no cause of the Fact. For he hath nothing to do, till after the evil is committed. In none of these three ways, we attribute Evil unto God. Therefore this I must say, we must make it good, much more of God, which St. Paul saith of himself, [193]I am free from the Blood of all Men: And I am sure that God is both free from the Sin of Men and their Misery.

These three things we must say of God, if we will do him right.

First. That he doth fully answer the Relation he stands in to whatsoever he hath made. Now you that know what belongs to the kindness of a Parent, I put you to judge. [194]Can a Woman forget her sucking Child, that she should not have compassion on the Son of <375> her Womb? Now you know it belongs to a Parent to foresee, and prevent mischief to a Child; and if mischief befals it, to help it out: And what is true of indulgent Parents to their Children, is true of God ten thousand times more.

Secondly. He certainly doth whatsoever is due and requisite, in pursuance of the Principles of his Creation, so as to make them effectual: For he is not vain, to begin, and not go on. This we do observe; let any Man attempt to set any thing a-foot, if he do not bring it to a State of Consistency, he loseth his labour; the things return back again. Now for a Man to imagine that God should make a Creature, and give Faculties and Principles, and then deny that that will make that which he hath done effectual, is either to impute to him Rashness in his Undertaking, or else Impotency; I am sure want of Goodness.

Thirdly. It becomes us to think of God that he will do whatsoever becometh infinite Goodness: He will answer his Relation; he will do that that is worthy infinite Goodness, and that certainly amounts to this, To do all Good upon the highest, fullest, and clearest Account of Goodness, if there be not reason to the contrary. But that he should, by his Almighty Power, keep out Evil out of the Creation, there is no reason: It would then be no Probation-State. Wherefore that that the Prophet saith is a most real Truth: [195]O Israel, thy Destruction is of thy self. Wherefore I account it materially Blasphemy, to say these two things of God. (I charge not the Intentions of mistaken Persons) to say, That God is the Cause of the Creatures Sin. Or, Secondly. Of the Sinners Misery, by the Absoluteness and Arbitrariness of his Will: As if it were not for God’s Will, a Sinner might enjoy himself, be at peace within himself, and be happy <376> doing what he will; which some have been bold to say, and more have been apt to think, that saving the Prohibition, Good and Evil are both alike. No; as Virtue hath Reward arising out of it self, so Sin and Wickedness hath Punishment arising out of it self, [196][Receiving in themselves that Recompence of their Error which was meet.] An inordinate Appetite is its own Punishment. No other thing doth draw any thing after it, as Guilt doth Mischief and Punishment. They are things inconsistent, for a Man to be under Sense of Guilt, and to be happy. God need not do any thing, he may but absent himself, and let him alone, and this Man is in Hell by his own Production. The great Heart-sore, Cordolium, is Guilt upon the Conscience, and Malignity in the Mind, a perverse and a naughty Spirit; no Wounds of the Body are equal to the Torments of the Mind. A Sinner’s Misery is of his own Creation.

Now I must suggest to you the Positive Cause of Evil; and they are these Eight; which I will speak but a Word to.

First. Objects may incline: For we are all Faculties; and the World is made up of Objects: And all Objects have an attractive Virtue; and it is natural to our Faculties to take Cognizance of Objects.

Secondly. Examples may entice. We are apt to write after Precedents, to do that that is done.

Thirdly. Opportunities may invite. He that never thought of playing the Thief, he is tempted upon a fair Advantage.

Fourthly. Constitution may dispose. This is a home-bred Suggestion; a Man only by Wisdom and Vertue overcomes bodily Inclination.

Fifthly. Company may perswade.


Sixthly. Evil Angels may seduce. So the Scripture tells us, [197]That Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number the People.

Seventhly. Men themselves abuse that Liberty and Power they hold of God and enjoy under him: For although all Power be explicable for the better, yet it is an abuse of Power, to do that that is not fit to be done: It is no more than it is in a Paralitick Agility of Motion, when the Man trembles every Joynt, not from nimbleness of Spirit, but want of Strength.

Eighthly. Whensoever Evil takes effect, we may conclude, that God did not think fit to hinder it; and this is all I will attribute to God, and all the place I will leave for God in this thing; for if God had hindred it, it had not been.

Now if any Man ask, Why did not God hinder it? I refer him to my Reasons before, and ask him, How comes God to be bound? Where is God’s Courtesie, if he must equally consider them that neglect him, and them that commend themselves to his Guidance and Ducture? And if he should hinder, he should counterwork the very design of his Creation, when he made Man Intelligent and Voluntary, and put him into a Probation State; and bid him act for Eternity. We must remember, that Man by his Make, is a free Aent, is both Intelligent and Voluntary; and in this State a Man is under this Barr; he is counterpoized on the one side by that that is just and honest, against that that is on the other side pleasurable and profitable: And here is a Man’s Counterbalance; looking to God, he is well directed; Looking to the Allurements of Sense, he is tempted. Now here God taking high Offence, and having just Indignation against Man’s foolish Affectation and wilful Choice, whom he made Intelligent and Voluntary, That he should in such an unequal Competition, determine him <378> self to the worst, he doth not hinder, but leaves him to the Fruit of his own Wages. Therefore, [198]Let not any Man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with Evil, neither tempteth he any Man. But every Man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own Hearts Lust, and enticed.

The Inference I would draw from hence, is,

That we be very cautious how we attribute Evil to God; or, how we charge or entail the Misery of Men upon him. I dare say, it is not possible for the Tongue of Man more to dishonour God, than than thus to do. For this is the Account I give; That the Moral Perfections of God, to wit, his Holiness, his Righteousness, and Goodness, are those Prime Perfections of his, by which we are induced to Worship God; and we know more of these than of his other: For as for his other Perfections, we are confounded when we think of his Omnipotency, Omnipresence, Infiniteness: But for his Moral Perfections, his Holiness, Righteousness, and Goodness, of these we have a Participation. Now to attribute the Evil of the World to God, is to destroy all these Notions: Yea, We may say of God, That the Will of God, and the Power, are always in a conjunction with his Moral Perfections; yea, they are determined, limited, guided, and directed by them. This is so far true, that even in those things which the World calls Severity in God, they are Acts of Goodness and Righteousness. For it is good, that God do controul by Punishment, Impenitency, and Contumacy in Sin: And it is as well an Act of Goodness, by Chastisements to reduce the lawless and rebellious, to controul an obstinate and impenitent Sinner, as it is an Act of Goodness to pardon Sin to those that do repent. Now since we are so charitable, that in a well established Government, where now and then by ac <379> cident, Murthers and Robberies are committed; we do not impute them to the Governour, much less ought we to impute the Miscarriages of Men to God; since God hath declared himself against Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of Men; since all Sinners know they do amiss at their own Peril.[199] God gave no such Power unto Men: For Power is concluded within Bounds of Reason and Right. Lawless and Impotents, are Impotencies and Deformities.

Now I superadd here the necessity of this Doctrine I have so much insisted upon. If we attribute Evil to God, these four Mischiefs are likely to follow, which will root up all Religion and Conscience.

First. We shall think of God contrary to what God is, and worse than he deserves; and then we shall less love him, and less regard him. So we shall not represent him to our selves a lovely Object; for the Fountain of Good is highly lovely; but the Author of Evil is the most unlovely Object; and he is not the most lovely, unless he be the Fountain of Goodness.

Secondly. We shall not think aright of Evil: For if we impute it to God, a Man will say, What harm is there in that that God doth?

Thirdly. We shall excuse our selves more than there is Cause for, and shall abate in our selves the sense of our own Faultiness: For then we shall look upon our selves only as God’s Instruments: And you know the Principal he doth excuse the Instrument.

Fourthly. We shall take very little care to repent, or revoke any thing unduly done. For who will trouble himself about that that he thinks is the Will of God? And a Man will ask himself, [200]Who at any time hath resisted his Will?


A Word for the latter, and I have done. God is not the primary Cause of the Sinner’s Misery. There is no reason at all why we should expose our selves to Temptation, by attributing external Evils to God, more than we have assurance of. If we attribute all external Evils to God, then you put an invincible and an intollerable load upon the Vertue of Patience; and Patience must bear the load of all. And truly we are not so submiss to God, nor so free from Self-love, as to put forth Acts of Patience to such a heigth. This I ordinarily hear, when any thing befals Men, they say, It is the Will of God. To explicate this. It is true, that God doth exercise his Judgments in the World; but yet I will deny two things. First. That God doth whatsoever Evil befals Men: And, Secondly. I deny that it is true, that all Evil that befals us, is the Punishment of Sin: They are neither of them certainly true. It is true, and we have no reason for it, to attribute the universal Deluge to God:[201] The Destruction of Sodom to God;[202] for it is said God did it. We have cause to attribute to God [203]the sudden death of Nadab and Abihu: [204]The Destruction of Corah, Dathan and Abiram; [205]of Ananias and Saphira: For it is ascribed to God, and the Cause assigned. But it doth not follow that All the Evils that befal us, are the immediate Hand of God. [206]For, First. Some of them may follow upon the condition of the Matter, just as Rust follows from the Nature of Iron. Secondly. Some brought upon our selves, by our neglect, or abuse of our selves: As the Diseases that follow upon Intemperance, or the Harms that follow upon violent and unnatural Motion. Or, Thirdly, Some are the Effects of malicious Causes, for which God will challenge accountable Agents. Now therefore since there are other Causes, How doth it expose Men to Temptation? How doth it misrepresent God to Men, to attribute all the Evil <381> that befals them to God’s immediate Hand? It is very true, that God hath this Power: but for the Exercise of this Power, to say it is certeinly God’s work, whatsoever the second Causes be, this is that which I reprove. Wherefore let us entertain good Thoughts of God, as much as may be; that we may be encouraged to repent, and have Faith and Confidence in him; and do not attribute that to God, which we have no assurance is the immediate Hand of God; but only God did not interpose; as where it follows the Nature of the matter; or brought upon our selves by our neglect, or abuse of our selves; or where foreign Agents have done us a mischief. No, you may imagine that God hath created second Causes, and doth permit things to go according to the Nature of Second Causes; and he doth interpose when he will. But, with very great caution, attribute things that are grievous to God; but recommend God as lovely, and the Object of Love, as much as possibly you can. For since God is not the Author, or Cause of the Creatures Sin, but that the greatest Evils of Sinners arise from themselves; and for that the Evils that befal us, may be attributed to other Causes: Therefore let us not without cause, throw them upon God.


Discourse XXVII.

The direful Vengeance which falls upon the Souls of Incorrigible Sinners

Rom. 29.

Being filled with all Unrighteousness, Fornication, Wickedness, Covetousness, Maliciousness, full of Envy, Murder, Debate, Deceit, Malignity, Whisperers, &c.

[207]In the Words you have the ultimate Issue of the horrid, monstrous State of degenerate Mortals. The very reading of this Catalogue is enough to startle any Body, and make him considerative of his danger, to betake himself to Religion, that he may be delivered from such abominations. One would wonder that Humane Nature should admit of them, that such Villianies should be reported of one that is an Intelligent and Voluntary Agent; I had need almost to Apologize for reading such a Text in the Ears of a Christian Auditory: And were not this in the Bible, I durst not be so uncharitable: And had I not spoken of several things in the Chapter before, I should not have singled out this alone. I intend not in my discourse, to make a discovery concerning Wickedness in these various expressions: I am very well aware the World well understands what is meant by these Words: My intention therefore is either not at all to speak, or very little, save here and there. But here is one of this Cata <383> logue I have singled out to speak of, because it is a very cunning and subtile Evil; but deadly dangerous, and requires some accurateness: And that is, Covetousness. You may suspect it shrewdly by the Company it keeps: Nothing in all the Scripture is more branded, nothing in all the Scripture put unto worse Company. I find it very ill spoken of in Scripture; it is put in an adequate opposition to all Religion. [208]Incline my Heart unto thy Testimonies, and not to Covetousness. It is a Principle of the basest Practice, for it hardens it self to any purpose. [209]Through Covetousness shall they with feigned words make Merchandize of you. And when our Saviour tells of those things that defile, and tells that nothing without us or about us defiles us (and yet we find many that pretend to Religion are greatly troubled with things without them, and about them but) amongst these things that defile, is this Covetousness. [210]For from within out of the Hearts of Men proceed evil thoughts, Adulteries, Fornications, Murders, Thefts, Covetousness, &c. All these evil Things come from within and defile the Man. It is also a thing of a very ill quality: For the Apostle saith, it is Idolatry, Col. 3. 5. Covetousness which is Idolatry. Nothing is more threatned in all the Book of God. [211]O thou that dwellest upon many Waters, abundant in Treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy Covetousness. [212]The Covetous whom God abhorreth. And then there is a promise of long Life where Covetousness is excluded; [213]He that hateth Covetousness shall prolong his Days. And we are warned against Covetousness, and told, [214]It is the Root of all Evil. For the Love of Money is the root of Evil, which which while some have coveted after they have, &c. Yea, it hath so much of Malignity in it, that if any Man pretend to Religion and be covetous, we are warned to have nothing to do with him. [215]If any Man that is called a Brother be Covetous, with such a one, no not to eat. And I the rather <384> choose out this, because you see how dangerous it is, how displeasing to God, how mischievous to Men. And yet it is the hardest matter in the World, to persuade Man that had a touch of it, that he is Guilty; he hath so many pretences, so many shifts. This Covetousness it doth shelter it self under honest Names. It is sometimes thought to be Prudence, Cautiousness, Wariness, and Good-Husbandry. So Men ruine themselves by entertaining this viper under another Name and notion.

I will now make some discovery of it; and for that I will go this way to work, to shew you what in our Saviours sense is opposite to the Spirit of Covetousness. For I am of Opinion, that our Saviour in his Beatitudes, hath one of them that is expresly against Covetousness: And that is this, Blessed are the Poor in Spirit. I am very well aware, our Divines have put another sense upon these Words. I heartily close with their sense, but that that they fasten upon this, I find it elsewhere in the 5th verse, Blessed are the meek. But I take this according to the Letter, the Word in the Greek is Emphatical, Ὀι πτωχοὶ τῶ πνὲυματι, They that are satisfied with mean and ordinary things: For this you must know, that a Man may be poor in Spirit, and yet have a competency; and a Man may be poor in Estate, and yet Covetous in Heart. You may have a Rich Man that hath an affluent Estate, poor in Spirit; and you may have the meanest Man alive covetous in Heart, by immoderate and inordinate Desires: For a Man may have an unsatiable desire in a low and mean condition. So that let not poor Men think that they are out of danger: For he is poor in Spirit, that hath his Mind loose to, or above the World. I find Interpreters generally carry it to humbleness of Mind, or content in our selves. And so make it comply with this Scripture, Isaiah 66. 2. To this Man will I look, even to him that is poor and <385> of a contrite Spirit, and trembleth at my word. I believe these have a place in the number of our Saviours Beatitudes in another Verse: Blessed are the meek. Now this same Meekness doth not only import gentleness, sweetness and affability toward Men, but every degree of Humility and Subjection toward God. But this other I interpret of Men, who though they have great Estates they have Moderate desires and do not run out into an inordinacy. I know the Church of Room produceth this place for a Device of their own, for one of the three Vows, the Vow of Poverty, which they say, with the Vows of a single Life, and regular Obedience, makes up a State of Perfection. This therefore I account to be true Poverty of Spirit, if a Man have the Worlds good, and yet his Heart leans not to it: If he have it not, he hath no inordinate desire of it; a disposition of Mind so equally setled, as not to affect worldly pomp, or state, or greatness, or revenue; not to be under the command of the [216]Lust of the Eye, the Lust of the Flesh, and the Pride of Life, which is St. Johns Language, is the account of the World. But if this Man have the Worlds good, yet in his Heart he leans not to it, nor doth he estimate himself by it: If he have it not, he doth not so thirst after it as to do any thing exorbitant to get it, or if he have lost it he is not so moved at the loss as to be disquieted at it: So that assure your selves a Man may be Rich in outward Estate, and yet poor in Spirit; if he doth not love it and estimate himself by it; and he may be the contrary, though in a low condition, if he be of an unsatiable appetite: Poor, and have a little share in the World and yet not poor in Spirit. For it is not a Man’s external circumstances that makes a Man either Vertuous or Vitious, but the Frame Constitution and Complexion of the Mind. [217]These poor in Spirit are those that are so upon consideration, having considered that <386> few of these that are necessary in Life:[218] That the Happiness of Man consists not in abundance, that these are but in the place of Means, not of ends; and so will not be under the Power of them; for no Good-Man nor Wise-man will be under the Power of any thing, that hath not the order of an end. Whosoever hath the Command of the World, and hath it in his Hands, as a Mean in order to an End; this Man, though he be Rich, may be Poor in Spirit; and he that is poor, if he be a Man that is unsatisfied, and maintains greedy Appetites, he may be the contrary. He that hath in himself, upon consideration, resolved that Riches, and Honour, and Revenue, are nothing, farther than they are Accommodations, or upon the Account of their being Instruments: This is the Man that, though he be Rich, he is not Covetous. So that we find, though this Word be cast only upon Men that are Men of Estates; yet the poorer sort are also as liable and obnoxious hereunto. He that determined in the Sense of his Soul, that the Life of Man doth not consist in the abundance of what he doth enjoy (as our Saviour expresses it in Luke 12. 15.) And that Riches are but a multitude of Instruments, and that the Virtue of an Instrument lies in the use and exercise of it: He that upon consideration desires of God, as Agar did, [219]Give me neither Poverty nor Riches, but feed me with Food convenient; this Man is poor in Spirit.

But this I observe, That Men sometimes that are under the Power of Covetousness, when the World doth not gratifie them, then in haste, upon discontent, they bid defiance, adieu to the World. So Charles the Fifth did, when by attempting many things, he had plunged himself into a multitude of Inconveniencies, and brought himself into a Maze, that he knew not the way out; then he <387> resolves of resigning up all his Estate; his Empire to his Brother, his Kingdom to his Son; and he betakes himself to a Monastery. But here the World rather leaves them in this Case, than they leave the World. As St. Jerome hath a good Saying: The great Power of renouncing the World, and being loose to the World, is shewn when Men do it voluntarily, not in Necessity, not in Anger, not in a Spirit of Revenge. If we would approve our selves to be poor in Spirit, and out of Love with this World, Let us do it when the World favours us, not when the World frowns upon us: While the World as yet follows us, and, as it were, wooes us for our Love: Not when it is grown froward, and turns its Back upon us. I intimated it to you at first, that this is a cunning and subtle Vice: You see I have discovered one Instance; and now another: In the Church of Rome they are constrained who enter into Religious Orders, to make a Triple Vow, the Vow of regular Obedience, Poverty, and a single Life; but alas, how little is there of the Persons choice in it! One of their own, writing of the Free Vows, calls it Terrible votum paupetatis. But whosoever dedicates himself to God, must in heart leave this World, and cast no longing favourable Eye upon Wealth, Honour or Preferment;[220] but must resolve to live in converse with this World, as if in Society with the Inhabitants of the other World.

But now I seem to tell a Riddle: To tell Men they must not value and estimate themselves by their Place, Worth, and Estate. Truly this is so contrary to the Guize of the World, that it is little expected, but that he that speaks thus to Men, should be looked upon, as Lot was by his Sons-in-law (Gen. 14. 19.) speaking to them about leaving Sodom; he spake as one who mocked


Whoso finds in himself an Inclination toward the World, a desire to grow Rich, and to raise himself in Power and Preferment; let him suspect himself. ’Tis Wisdom to fear all things, even though things be safe within, to censure secret Passages, and ill Inclinations of the Heart.

I never find in all the Book of God that Riches are mentioned and well spoken of; or that the Rich are declared Blessed:[221] But I find it is said, They hardly enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, Matt. 19. 23. It is an excellent Speech of St. Augustine’s; If it had been safe to have been in love with the things of the World, that Man would have loved them, who was the Son of God: But our Saviour affected neither Command nor Authority, nor Estate, nor Applause. Now if they were in such a Conjunction with Happiness, why should our Saviour so much overlook them, and the Apostles write after his Copy? for we find them not sollicitous after more than necessary Accommodations. If we do not, through the help of Divine Grace, alienate our selves from the love of the things of the World, the love of them will certainly alienate us from God. If no Trust and Confidence in them, there will be no Inordinacy toward them; which where it is, the Heart will be stollen from God. [222]I read in the Roman Story, of a Statesman that had been no less than a Dictator: He was grievously censured for having but one piece of Plate. It is a horrible Reproach to us, if the Faith of the Gospel shall not attain such an effect, as the use of Reason in Conjunction with Infidelity, hath done. Now to resolve you what is that in reality, what is that that is the Top and principal part we call the Worship of God: Is it not to have a Dependance upon him? a Trust and Confidence in his Providence, and not to be anxious what a day <389> may produce? and can you do this, while you are solicitous after the World, and have a dependance upon your Estates, Power or Place? God is to be referred to, as our Original, and rested in as our Centre. Wherein do we Honour God, more than by trusting in him and depending upon him? Now, if we put this Trust and Confidence, and Dependance in our Riches, or Estates, we put them in the place of God, and upon this account it is called Idolatry, Col. 3. 5.

For my part nothing in the Church of Rome doth so much grieve me, as to see Men so base as to practice upon Religion, and lay worldly Designs; name God, and Mean the World: And this is that that is abominable in the Church of Rome: What vast Sums do they acquire by many of their Principles and Doctrines? As of Purgatory, Indulgencies and Absolution, and the like? [223]But the love of Mony is the Root of all Evil, which while some coveted after they have erred from the Faith. [224]Erasmus, writing upon the Story of St. Peters mean entertainment by Simon the Tanner, observes, that now the Palaces of Emperours and Courts of Kings are not sufficient for St. Peters Successours.

But I remember Generals do not at all affect, and this being a business practical, every Bodies concernment; a Man is concerned as he would secure his Soul to Eternity, to quit and discharge himself of this Covetousness; as that that doth displace God in the Throne of Man’s Soul. Therefore in particular I will shew you in five Particulars, who we may conclude is troubled with this Disease and tainted with this Vice of Covetousness.

First, Whosoever he is, being a Person of eager, inordinate, ungoverned Appetites; and therefore doth not satisfie himself with the disposition of Divine <390> Providence in respect of himself, which Providence doth furnish him with Conveniences and Accomodations of Life. It not satisfied therein, he is Covetous.

Secondly, who having enough for Necessary Use, and purposes of Life, fears to spend, he covets rather to have than to use, he doth even Grudge to himself things fitting, he hath not Power to Use himself kinkly in the World. This Man is Covetous.

Thirdly, who makes himself a Drudge in the World, toils Day and Night; beaks his Sleep through inordinate Care: He is so extreamly busie, so over employed, as not to be at leisure duly to attend upon God in the World.

Fourthly, who through his base Love of Money, as if it were conjoyned with his very Being, hath not Power of equal consideration, in his dealing with others; but insists to the utmost upon all points of advantage, and strict Right; affording no abatement, no allowance for the several contingencies that befal Men.

Fifthly, who over-rules Principles of Reason and Conscience, and useth all means to become Rich, without difference, or distinction; Right or wrong, lawful or unlawful. This Man is prodigiously Covetous: This is Covetousness in the highest degree.

Of these five I will speak; and by these every Man may try himself. I begin at the lowest degree, and still in the several Particulars, rise one step higher.

First, Whosoever he is, being a Person of Eager, Inordinate Ungoverned Appetites, that doth not satisfie himself with the Disposition of Providence, concerning himself; furnishing him with conveniences and accommodations of Life, but more he <391> would have; this is that the Psalmist calls, Meat for Men’s Lusts, Psal. 78. 18. Whatsoever is more fit, convenient and necessary, and is the effect of the ordinary disposition of Providence toward a Man; if a Man will not be content and satisfied, he desires Meat for his Lusts. Every Man is to be satisfied with the disposition of Providence, if it be convenient and necessary; if he be not, he is Covetous. [225]This was the temper of Rachel, Give me Children or else I die. See what follows, she had Children, and is the first Person that died in Childbed. The Life of Man doth not consist in the abundance he doth enjoy, and to think otherwise, this is expresly contrary to the Apostles Rule: [226]I have learned in whatsoever State I am therewith to be content. And in 1 Tim. 6. Ch. 6. 7. Verses, But Godliness with Contentment is great Gain: For we brought nothing into this World, and it {is} certain we can carry nothing out. And since we are to carry nothing out, why should any Man desire more than will serve his turn? and verse 8th. 9th. 10th. And having Food and Raiment; let us be therewith content: But they that will be Rich, fall into Temptation and a Snare, and into many foolish and hurtful Lusts which drown Men in destruction and perdition: For the Love of Money is the Root of all Evil, which while some coveted after they have erred from the Faith, and pierced themselves through with many Sorrows. The like we have in Hebrews 13. 15. Let your conversation be without Covetousness, and be content with such things as you have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. And pray observe, he there gives a general Reason, and quotes a Speech spoken to Joshua;[227] which offers this, if we do what is reasonable, and according to our station, God looks upon himself concerned to do that for us, which is answerable to his Relation to us. This I observe from these words, and this is the first, Men of <392> Eager, Inordinate, ungoverned Appetites are Covetous.

Secondly, Who having enough for necessary Uses, fears to spend, and grudges himself things fitting, He is Covetous. One would think there were no such Men, But Solomon hath told us [228]there is one alone, and there is not a second; yea he hath neither Child, nor Brother; yet is there no end of all his Labour, neither is his Eye satisfied with Riches, neither saith he, for whom do I Labour, and bereave my Soul of good? Wanting to himself, and wanting to publick Occasions, for this we are to note, that the publick is every Man’s concern: For if it be not every Bodies, it is no Bodies: A Man must not be wanting to the Publick. But he that hath, and allows not himself the Power of free and noble Use of what he hath, this Man is a slave to his Mony, and is of a Covetous disposition, he hath, but hath not the Power of Use.

Thirdly, Who makes himself a Drudge in the World, toils Day and Night, and is not at leisure to attend upon God in the World. I think it is Main and Principle in the Life of Man, that Intellectual Natures do perform Specifick Duties to God: Nothing is more horrid than intellectual Natures degenerating into sense: This Man is prodigiously Covetous, that so racks himself with care to get the things of this World, that he forgets God. But here I acknowledge that moderate Care is to be used; [229]for he that doth not provide for his Family, is worse than an Infidel. We should not give way therefore to a lazy sluggish disposition, for he that will not labour, is not so much as the Object of any Man’s Charity.[230] So that I am not about to take any Man off from his particular Employment: But I must say, the Drudgery of the World, is not that that is the proper employment of intellectual Natures; but it is indispensibly necessary that Mind and Under <393> standing, which is a peculiar Faculty to be employed about God, that it be so employed. This I am sure is so certain, that nothing is more; that there is no Happiness for Man, but in his Relation to, and conjunction with God and things Immortal: For there is no rational satisfaction. In other things a Man may be nauseated, upon long continuance; but there is no real satisfaction. Therefore for Men to Depress their noble Powers and Faculties and make their adequate Employment in the Drudgeries of the World, this is sordid and base.

Fourthly, Who through his base love of Mony, as if it were conjoyned with his very Being, hath not Power of Consideration of others, but insists to the utmost upon all points of advantage, affording allowance for unexpected contingencies that befal Men in this Life. For notwithstanding obligation, a Man is to consider and make allowance: For since there are contingencies beyond the Power of any finite Creature, it becomes every one that hath the advantage, to make fair allowance for unavoidable Contingencies. I am sure that Man that doth not, he doth not write after God’s Copy; who fails not to commiserate in all compassionable Cases: This Man doth down right violate the Golden Rule of Charity, [231]To do to others as we would be done unto: This Man therefore is extreamly Covetous who doth not reserve to himself a Power of equal consideration. To this Person all other Men are but as means, Instruments to his ends and purposes. He says, if I be a loser no matter what becomes of things. In this case Self is predominant, all other considerations are subservient thereto.

Fifthly, Who doth Over-rule the Law of Reason, Religion and Conscience; and takes all Courses, and useth all means to become Rich, without difference, or distinction, either of right, or wrong, lawful, or unlawful; this Man is Covetous to the <394> heighth: This Man is formed into the Spirit of Covetousness: This is the Man that hastens to be Rich and will not be Innocent, Pro. 28. 20. This is he that falls into many snares, for he hath Power to Subordinate God, Religion, Conscience, and whatsoever is sacred to Worldly Profit; as Judas, who sold his Master: Balaam, who loved the ways of Unrighteousness: The Pharisees, who were covetous, (Luke 16. 14.) and devoured Widdows Houses, (Luke 20. 47.) Ahab to get Naboths's Vineyard, (1. Kings 21. 1.) &c. Was guilty of Subordination and Murder.

If any one can acquit himself in these Particulars, he is none of those that the Scripture brands for Covetous.

Now a word of Inferrence. The Exhortation is, that we endeavour to Refine, Enable and Spiritualize our Temper; that is, let every Person Universalize himself, that is, employ himself as he has opportunity, in things that tend to God’s Honour and Glory, in the World, and the publick Good. Let him not satisfie himself to do as the Snail does, that confines himself to his Shell, and carries his House on his Back, wherever he goes. It doth not become a Man that is indued with an Intellectual Nature, to be so selfish. Let us keep from all sordidness of Mind, that is, by coming under the Power of the World. I would have no worldly thing exercise any Authority over Men’s Minds; or for a Man to Centre himself in himself. To this purpose I propose the consideration of three things.

First. The Dignity, Value and Worth, of our precious and immortal Souls.

Secondly. The undervalue of all things in the World, in competition.

Thirdly. The Reference of the Affairs of time to Eternity; for upon that account the Transactions of time, are most considerable.


To do otherwise imports three horrid deformities.

First. A subordination of Mind, to Body. Which is more prodigious, than if the Sun should cease to shine, and fill the World with Stench and Darkness.

Secondly. It imports the preference of Transitories and Perishables before Immortals and Incorruptibles: And this is Child-like, to prefer Pebbles before Pearls.

Thirdly. It doth import the supposing the Consequence of this State, to be before, and beyond the other State, the State of Eternity, and that is madness so to do.

Now none of these three any one will be guilty of, unless he be either stupid, as never awakened to any competency of Judgment; and then he is inconsiderable, he is not able to give a voice, or suffrage; he is not valuable in the order of Humane Nature: For he doth not act by the Principles of Humane Nature; or else he is drowned in sensualities and brutishness; and then he is worse: For the former is by neglect, this is by abuse. Or, Thirdly. He is under a Principle of affected Atheism; that he may not be under the Obligations of Reason, Religion and Conscience. Now if we will not own the State and Principles of these Men, let us not degenerate with them into Practice.

I have but one thing more, and I have done; for I do not mean to spend my time in raking in this Sink: But this one thing give me leave to take notice of, that where the Apostle here reckons up the Desperate Degeneracy of Men that live in opposition to God, pray observe how many Places, and how many Names one Sin doth take up: No less than Twelve; all of a Nature, Quality, and sort. Being filled with all Unrighteousness, Maliciousness, full of Envy, Murther, Debate, Malignity, Whis <396> perers, Backbiters, Despiteful, inventers of evil Things, without natural Affection, Implacable, Unmerciful,. {sic} So that two Thirds of these Malign Characters lye upon this, the want of Charity, Love, and Good-will, Christian Affection: That is, doing that that is unworthy of Humane Nature; for this is Connatural to every Species, to consult the good of those that are of the same Kind: No Species of things doth prey upon its own Kind. From hence I observe, by how many Titles Ill-will is Characterized: How many ways we Sin against Charity. [232]The Scripture lays much of the stress of Religion upon Principle of Good-Will, Nature, and upon Charitable Disposition. If thou lovest not thy Brother whom thou hast seen, how canst thou once think thou lovest God whom thou hast not seen?

An account in three Particulars, why the Scripture lays such stress upon this disposition.

First. It is of Principal use and subservience to God’s Government in the World, whether in his own hands or in the Hands of his Instruments. For if this Princple {sic} of Good-Nature did Rule in the World there would be no difficulty in God’s Goevrnment {sic}. The greatest difficulty to Government is occasioned from the Frowardness, Wrathfulness, and Devilishness of one Man toward another. If Men did but to others, as they would have others do to them; Government would find a great discharge of trouble. No wonder then that Scripture lays such stress upon this Disposition.

Secondly. It is the resentment on our part of God’s Goodness, and Kindness and Compassion to us, in Pardoning us in Jesus Christ; which is God’s fullest Communication to the World. And those that are willing to Relieve, Gratifie, and Supply; these are under the fullest Communication of God in the World. Great Reason therefore that Scripture <397> should lay such great Stress upon this Principle of Good-Nature.

Thirdly. Unless exercised in the Practice of it here, we shall be no ways Qualified to become Citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem hereafter. Since therefore it is the utmost improvement, to be charitable, and a necessary Qualification of a Soul for the Heavenly Jerusalem, and state of Glory; you cannot wonder that Scripture should lay such stress upon it; and that in this Catalogue of Miscarriages, where there be eighteen Titles or Names, the miscarriage in this Instance of Love, and Good-will supplies Twelve.


Discourse XXVIII.

The direful Vengeance which falls upon the Souls of Incorrigible Sinners

Rom. 1. the latter part of the 27th Verse.

----Receiving in themselves that Recompence of their Errour which was meet.

[233]This is the last Clause in this Chapter, that I shall take upon me to speak to: And this containing Matter of great Use, and in farther Assurance of the Truth I have formerly spoken to, I cannot overlook it.

You may remember I have undertaken a Vindication of the Divine Goodness and Righteousness; and have endeavoured to make it appear, that God is neither the Cause of the Creatures Sin, nor the Creatures Misery: And whosoever thinks otherwise of God, doth not God so much as common Right: He doth not say so much of God, as one would think fit to speak of a Man of common Honesty and Uprightness. This Portion of Scripture will give me great advantage to this purpose, that God is not to be charged with the Creatures Sin, or the Creatures Misery. For whosoever suffers, he doth but receive in himself, or from himself, that Recompence of his Error which is meet. The greatest Suffering that is, is not of God’s Creation: For God did not make Hell, but it is the natural Issue of <399> Creatures Miscarriage; being wanting to themselves, and contradicting the Principles of God’s Creation in them: And if this be true, I have at once said enough to justifie God’s Goodness and Holiness; and to stop the Mouth of all Gainsayers. No one that fails or miscarries comes to Misery by any foreign Pleasure, any thing that is Arbitrary: But the Misery that befals the Creation of God, is of our selves, it ariseth from within; Sinners destroy themselves. Men shall not be able finally to fly in God’s Face, and to challenge him either with Neglect or hard Measure; for all that perish shall be self-condemned; [234]and it will finally be made to appear, that whosoever is lost, or perisheth, it is through his own Self-neglect, or the great Abuse of himself.

But I am very well aware that it hath been a very old practice, for Men to excuse themselves, and lay the Fault on God. The whole eighteenth Chapter of Ezekiel is spent upon this occasion; and God by the Prophet doth there vindicate himself; and the Prophet in the Name of God doth plainly assert, that God is no Contriver of, nor hath any Pleasure in the Death of a Sinner, but that he hath done what infinite Wisdom hath thought fit, to divert him from Sin, and thereby to keep him from Misery. It is most certain the greatest Punishment is inherent in Sin it self: For let all Power, let a Sinner alone, he would be his own Destroyer.

I shall be able from this Text to clear God, and lay the Fault at our own Door: I may in this case say, as the Apostle saith in Rom. 3. 4. in another case, Let God be true, and every Man a Lyar. In this particular: let God be justified, as the Lover of his Creature; but every one that perisheth, is the Author of his own Misery. So true it is what the Prophet saith, Hosea 15. 9. O Israel, thou hast de <400> [235]stroyed thy self Whosoever is hurt, is hurt by him self: [236]Inordinate Appetite is a Punishment it self. Now this appears thus, by an account of three of the greatest Evils that we are capable of; Guilt in the Conscience: Malignity and Naughtiness in the Mind: A sickly Diseased Distempered Body.

For the First of these, Guilt in the Conscience. This is only consequent upon known and voluntary Acts; when they are Irregular, Unnatural, Monstrous, contrary to the order of Reason; so contrary to the Nature of Man, as Man is a Man: which is the great Rule, and Notion of Deformity: and there can no Guilt come upon any Man’s Conscience but this way: It is consequent upon his own knowing, and voluntary acts, when they are Irregular, Unnatural, contrary to the order of Reason, contrary to the Nature of Man, as Man is a Man: If he doth contrary to these, then he is Guilty, For this we may conclude, that no forreign Power whatsoever, not the Almighty Power of God, not the Power of Angels can make any Man Guilty, but by his own knowing and voluntary Consent, for if we consent not, ’tis not our Act. Therfore this great Evil of Guilt in his Conscience is his own Product: and God hath no hand at all in it; but Man is the sole Cause himself. [237]For be he tempted never so much, if he be not Voluntary in Consent, he cannot contract Guilt in his Conscience. This is the first Evil, and this depends upon a Man’s self; and no external Power can be the cause of Guilt upon any Man’s Conscience. For if a Man be not Intelligent and Voluntary; what he doth is not a Humane Act, it doth not proceed from Judgment, and choice; and therefore it is not imputed to him.

But, Secondly. Malignity and Naughtiness in the Mind. And this is Moral Pravity, and Deformity, <401> and therefore it cannot be Natural but acquired. Morals are not by Generation but depend upon Acts, Use, Custom, and Practice. We are not born with Habits, but only with Faculties. This so far true, that no bodily indisposition, or inclination, which is not acquired, is fully, in specie vitii aut Virtutis, good or evil: For nothing is Virtue but what is the product of a Mind actually considering, and what is choice upon this consideration. Sure I am, that God cannot in the least be charged as the cause of the naughtiness of any Man’s Mind; neither can it be otherwise than from the Man’s self: No Creature under Heaven wrought him into that, but his own gross Self-neglect, or voluntary Self-abuse: And if there hath been Self-neglect, he hath not then made Use of the Principles of God’s Creation in him; and if he have abused himself, whose fault is that? Whatsoever is not of a Mans self, it may be his Burthen, but it never is his Fault. That is the second. Then,

Thirdly. For a sickly, diseased, distempered Body. That is the third evil I instanced in. For this I will grant in the first place, that a Man may have an unhappy Constitution, he may be born to it, and no fault of his. But things there are, that are to our Power, mischievous to our Bodies: I will single out three sorts of Vices. In Pride, in Envy, and Malice; Intemperance and Wantonness; Idleness, Lazyness, and Sloath: These three Vices spoil the Body. Of these Men we may truly say with the Apostle, [238]they Sin against their own Bodies.

First. For Pride, Envy, and Malice. They that are Proud, Envious, and Malicious, they frequently are in discontent. Now discontent doth Macerate, the Body, and Melancholizes the Blood. Now if any Man will be offended, he shall be offended every Day: For this World is very uncertain and unequal, and so affords frequent Natures. The Proud <402> and conceited Man, he never hath esteem enough. No Man thinks so well of him, as he thinks of himself; and therefore he is necessarily aggrieved at every Body; he is seldom satisfied, but is apt to interpret every Man’s Behaviour toward him, Neglect at least, if not Affront. You have this temper well expressed in Haman and Mordecai. The envious, and malicious, they are aggrieved at every Good, but their own: They cannot be satisfied though God be good to them; but this is their Offence, that God is good to others as well as to them. Now I take it for granted, whosoever leads a grumbling, and a repining Life, as Envy, and Malice makes Men to live; this Man’s Life is a lingring and pining Death. If you will not believe me, look, [239]For Wrath killeth the foolish Man, and Envy slayeth the silly one. And Solomon in Prov. 14. 30. A sound Heart is the Life of the Flesh, but Envy the rotteness of the Bones: Whereas it is said of Charity. [240]Charity suffereth long; and is kind, Charity envieth not. Now we have not more sense of any thing, than that to live in Love and Good-will, is to live at Hearts-ease and Great-content. They that live in Universal Love, in Reconciliation with God and the whole Creation, they are offended at no Body but are Rejoyced at any Good that befals any Body whatsoever. Wherefore these Distempers, Pride, Envy, and Malice, hurt the Body: And if Men hurt themselves, upon this occasion is God to be charged? No, it is themselves.

The Second sort of Vices are Intemperance and Wantonness. These bring our Bodies to filthy loathsome Diseases, sometimes even to rotteness while our Souls inform them. Now these Men dishonour themselves, make themselves cheap, and expose themselves to contempt, and scorn, and make their Bodies unfitting Tabernacles for their Souls; d{o} Alienate their Bodies from their use; for the Body <403> is to be a Tool and Instrument to the Soul, in order to Virtue: Now these Men quite spoil their Bodies. I will tell you what one saith is the Consequence upon that intemperance we call Drunkenness: Aking in the Head, Nauciousness in the Stomach, Drought in the Throat, Languor in all the Parts, Folly, or Fury in the Mind, and lastly, a Feaver in the whole. Now all these are avoided, where there is true Self-Government.

Thirdly. Idleness, and Sloath. These are also our Bodies Enemies: For those Bodies, through Idleness and Sloath, come to putrifie, as Water in Ponds, by stagnancy. The security of every thing is by Motion. The Air we breath in, without Ventilation, it could not retain its purity; without Agitation and Motion, Water becomes noysom. In like manner, by Idleness, Laziness and Sloath, our Bodies comes to be vitiated; for they are deprived of their great security, by not being put upon the all-preserving insensible Transpiration. Now on the other side, Virtue, which is the Mind’s due Complexion, this is Sovereign to our Bodies: the Wise-man saith upon this account, Prov. 3. 16. that length of Days are in the Right-hand of Wisdom. I take by Wisdom there, to be meant Reason and Religion; that that is founded in the Creation of God; Length of Days is secured by answering these Principles: All the genuine and kindly Operations of Virtue and Religion, are benign and favourable to our Bodies, and are their great Security. But in Deviation from these, there is the quite contrary Diseases founded, and our very Bodies are spoiled.

Thus far have I given you account, that God is not to be charged with that, that we are the sole cause of our selves. I have made it appear, that we bring upon our selves these three, which are the greatest Evils that befal the Life of Man: We <404> bring them upon our selves, and we alone. Whosoever therefore complains of his Mind, that he is Melancholy, because of dissatisfaction, he cannot approve himself to his own Reason. Whosoever hath contracted Guilt, he himself in the Author of all this mischief. Whosoever hath contracted Naughtiness of Mind, he himself hath brought it upon himself. And then our Bodies are corrupted, vitiated and spoiled, by three sorts of Vices; Pride, Envy and Malice; Intemperance and Wantonness; Idleness and Sloath.

I will now proceed thus. I will insist upon two Grounds laid down by our Apostle. The first is in the 2d. Chapter of this Epistle, ver. 14th, 15th. That Man is a Law to himself: Where the Apostle asserts, that in the very State of God’s Creation, a Man was made a Law to himself: And as God made Man, when he put him first out of his Hands, the work of the Law,[241] the effect and purport was written in his Heart. The Second Ground is taken from the verse preceding the Text; that every Sinner degenerates, and departs from the Natural Use of himself, his Powers and Faculties. And believe it, these two are Arguments that challenge conviction, Arguments beyond any possibility of reply; Man is left altogether speechless without Answer or Apology.

First. That Man was made a Law to himself. Do but consider what that imports; that Man was made Intelligent and Apprehensive, that his very Principles are a Law to himself: And every Law hath an obliging Power. If a Man be a Law to himself, then he knows by the Right Use of his Faculties, what is his Duty, how he ought to behave himself to God, and how he ought to govern himself; and then he is necessarily self-condemned if he transgress this Law, and if he lives in contradiction to it: And self-condemnation is the very Life of Hell. There cannot be the worst of Evil, where Self- <405> condemnation is not: And if a Man be self-condemned, it is not possible he should be relieved by any thing that is foreign or external. A Man a Law to himself. This is certainly true in all necessary matters; For here a Man may know without any other Revelation: As that he is to live in all Fear, and Regard, and Apprehension of God; that he is to Govern himself according to Rules of Reason, Sobriety and Temperance; and deal with his Fellow-Creatures, according to Rules of Equity and Justice: So, that what the Apostle speaks of the word of Faith, After-Revelation, I will here speak also of the Truth that is knowable by Natural Light. [242]But the Righteousness that is of Faith speaketh on this Wise; say not in thy Heart who shall ascend into Heaven, that is, to bring Christ down from above? Or who shall descend to the deep, that is, to bring up Christ again from the Dead? But what saith it? the word is nigh thee, even in thy Mouth, and in thy Heart, and that is the word of Faith which we Preach. This is true much more of the Principles of God’s Creation. Let a Man look within himself, let him awaken and excite his Naturals: use employ, and improve his Faculties, he shall come to know what is Good, Just, Fit and Right. With the good God’s assistance (who is universally to be acknowledged) we may come to see, know, understand and do. This I take for granted, that at least a Man that is made to the perfection of Reason and Understanding, is as able to act to the heighth of Reason and Understanding, as any Sensitive or Vegitative in the World is able to act according to their Principles; and we observe, that all the lower Agents act according to their Nature, and fail not if they meet not with foreign disturbance and impediment, which they cannot overcome. And can any one think that Reason and Understanding in Man is not as sufficient and certain for its effects, as those below. The Reason and Understanding of Man is certainly as <406> sufficient and proportionate to acts of Reason, as an Inferiour Nature is to acts Homogenial to it self. And this will be Man’s condemnation, varying from the Principles that God made him to consist of. Man out of the way of Right and Reason, is a Monster, a Prodigy; is in a State of Delinquency and Deformity; and doth not return to himself, but by Revocation of what is unduly done, and unless renewed by Repentance; and so miserable: For nothing can be miserable, otherwise than by being in an Unnatural estate. This is the first account I give you, that God when he made Man, made him to consist of such Principles, that he was a Law given to himself, and if he varied from this Law of his Creation, he must be self-condemned, and is self-condemned, unavoidably miserable.

The Second is, That Men leave, or change the natural Use. Great Sinners leave the natural Use; therefore they are in a State of Violence: and nothing is happy in a violent State. The Propensions and Inclinations of the Powers and Faculties of our Natures, are not controuled without great Violence offered to our selves, and a great Affront given to God. I instance in three things horribly Irreligious, and that are in contradiction to all you call Reason, Judgment and Understanding; and whosoever is guilty of them, it is apparent he leaves or changes the natural Use.

First. It is degenerate, horrid and monstrous, as any thing possibly can be, for an Intelligent Agent, such as Man is, to live without God in the World; for Mind and Understanding to be off from God: For it is natural for Mind and Understanding to move toward God. Mind and Understanding are God’s peculiar Reserve in Man; given to be employed about him. It is not more natural for light things to move upward, and heavy things downward, than for Mind and Un <407> derstanding to move toward God. Now great Sinners are off from God, and live without God in the World; and therefore are in a State of Violence, in a State Unnatural.

Secondly. It is Unnatural to be Intemperate: For all acknowledge that Nature is content with moderate things. Nature’s Desires are modest, and within bounds and compass. I dare say, no Man is guilty of Intemperance, but by a base Abuse of himself; for all Excess is burthensome: It is grievous to Nature, to exceed either in Eating or Drinking, either unmeasurably, or unseasonably. These Men also leave the natural Use.

Thirdly. It is Devilish to be Spiteful, or Envious, or Revengeful: Any one that is so, leaves the natural Use: [243]For Man by Nature is a sociable Creature, and therefore being sociable in his Disposition, he doth wish well to all those in whose Company he takes pleasure. Now this might be understood of Nature before it is abused by unnatural Acts, ill Custom and Practice: But in its Degeneracy it is the quite contrary. For Corruptio optimi est pessima, the better any thing is in its Constitution and Integrity, the worse it is in its Depravation and Degeneracy.

By these three I prove, that great Sinners are ill at ease in themselves, and have offered Violence to their own Natures: And it is hereby apparent, that Misery is of our selves; and that whosoever perisheth, he will have cause to blame himself.

I now hasten to a Conclusion; and will shut up the Point with some Inferences. I infer Four Things.

First. If the Creatures Misery be within them, and from themselves, then no Imputation is to be laid upon God, or hard usage of any of his Creatures.


Secondly. If this were well considered, Men would not allow themselves to be Lawless, Arbitrary, Licentious, and Exorbitant: For this will be their ruin

Thirdly. If this were also considered, then Men would not be aggrieved at the Shews and Appearances that are in this vain World.

Fourthly. This recommends to us the Principles of Reason and Religion; where all is sincere and solid; where nothing is imaginary, nothing conceited, nothing fantastical.

First. If the Creatures Misery be within, and from themselves, then no Imputation lies upon God, of hard Usage of any of his Creatures. This I dare affirm, that if any thing be to be suspected on God’s part, it is one of these three Priviledges; and I will vindicate them all: Either, (1.) An Act of his absolute Sovereignty: Or, (2.) His irresistable Will: Or, (3.) His uncontroulable Power. And if I can Apologize for these three, then in no State the miserable Man can come into, will he be able to ease or relieve himself by charging any thing upon God. If any one think he may, I must tell him, that he runs a desperate hazard, and puts things upon a most vent’rous issue.

1st. No Creatures Misery proceeds from the absolute Sovereignty of God; because there is no danger at all to an Inferiour from the Superiour’s Sovereignty, where the Superiour’s Sovereignty is in certain conjunction with Righteousness and Holiness. For they do absolutely determine to the Reason of things, and always have respect to that. Where Righteousness and Holiness are in conjunction with Sovereignty, no danger; nothing formidable in Sovereignty, where Righteousness and Holiness are in conjunction with it; as they are certainly in God: Which Scripture affirms a thousand times over of the Divine Sovereignty, and assures us, that all the <409> ways of God are ways of Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness: Therefore no danger. Yea, so far from being in danger, that I dare affirm, that it is our great advantage; because he that is invested with Sovereignty, can every where make Supply as occasion requires: Nothing at any time is wanting to a perfect determination of any cause; because nothing is wantting in Power or Right. If now we have to do with God, because of his absolute Sovereignty, he hath power in himself to to do what is needful: And whatsoever he promises is infallible: For God, because of his absolute Sovereignty, is not accountable to any else; and it is a full Determination what he doth say or do; because he hath an inherent and an independent Right. So that God’s absolute Sovereignty is our advantage. For whatsoever God saith and declares, we may be sure of his Terms, because he doth not act as one that is under restraint; but whatsoever he saith is right, and shall certinly take effect. We shall have things certainly and soon brought to a period: And no danger from it, because of its certain conjunction with Holiness and Righteousness. And Holiness and Righteousness have respect to the Reason of the thing, and to be dealt withal according to the Reason of the thing, nothing in Heaven is better. Therefore the destruction of any Creature cannot be thought to be, in any wise, an Act of Sovereignty.

Nor, Secondly, is it the effect of God’s irresistable Will. We know this, because God hath declared it: For though the Counsels both of God and Men are Secret while in their own Breasts; yet no longer so when once declared. [244]Now the Scripture doth declare (and that is God’s Instrument in the World, that doth declare and abundantly shew us) That God doth neither Will, nor take pleasure in the Destruction of any of his Creatures. Therefore nothing formidable in the irresistable Will of God; neither <410> is there the least reason to suspect at all the Will of God, tho’ granted irresistable; either from any Quality of the Divine Nature, or from any Interest or any Instance we have of God’s Proceedings and Dealing with his Creatures. First, I refer to God’s Instrument in the World; which if we be Christians, we acknowledge, and by it are to be concluded, as being the voluntary Resolutions of the Divine Will: And that assures us, that [245]God is Love; and whosoever dwells in Love, dwells in God. But then, if you lay aside the Bible, and go to Reason, I say there is no Reason, no ground of Suspicion, not from the first, if you consider the quality of the Divine Nature: [246]For it is well resolved concerning God, That all Ill-will is banished from the Throne of God: Envy and Malice are not within the Throne of the Divine Majesty: No such thing as Envy and Malice in Heaven; these are originally from Hell, and the worst Principle of Hell: These are eternally banished from the Divine Nature. Therefore no Quality in God gives us cause to suspect.

2dly. Neither any Interest on God’s part. Who can imagine any Interest to God in the loss of a Creature. No, God’s Interest in his Creature is greater in any of us, than we have in our selves: And methinks those that are Parents, they not finding in themselves any desire to the ruine of their Children, should not think any such thing in God. What doth God get by Hell? It is the Glory of God to maintain and propagate Holiness, and Righteousness, and Truth throughout the whole Creation: And this is God’s doing all for his own Glory, and it is the Explication of our doing all for the Glory or God, to be subservient to this Design; and in this way is Life and Happiness, Rom. 2. 5. To them who by a patient continuance in well doing, seek for Honour, and Glory, and Immorta <411> lity, and Eternal Life. By confining our selves in the use of our Power and Liberty, to Good only, we serve God and glorifie him. But,

3dly. No ground of Suspicion from the Proofs we have of God in his dealing with his Creatures. Experience of God doth witness, that God hath no design in the Misery of the Creature. What is there in God, but a great Patience to bear with all the Indignities of the Profane, and all the Falsities of a Hypocritical Crew? Solomon tells us, [247]That Sentence against an Evil Work, is not speedily executed. And doth he not [248]make his Sun to rise and to shine upon the Ungodly as well as upon the Righteous? And is it not expresly declared, That [249]his tender Mercies are over all his Works? And the Gospel puts it out of doubt: [250]God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life. And what could he do more? [251]And him hath God exalted with his Right Hand, to be a Prince and Saviour, for to give Repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of Sins. So that we have great cause to think otherwise of God, than that he is a designer of his Creatures Misery: for in so thinking, we do God a second Injury. The first is, we neglect God; the second is, we charge him with our Fault, and with our Ruin; and that is worse than the former. Now for the

Third. No suspicion from God’s uncontroulable Power. It is true, Omnipotency might do what it would; but there is no cause to fear or suspect the uncontroulable Power of God, to make a Creature miserable. My Reason is, That Agent is without all suspicion of using Power to the hurt of a Creature, that did voluntarily of his infinite Goodness, use his Power to call that Creature out of nothing into being. For it was a communication of Grace and Favour, to awaken one out of <412> Non-entity, and bring him into being, when there was nothing to move either Agency or Compassion. How can we suspect that Power to do us harm causelesly; which Power, upon its own Disposition, did call us into being? He who upon his own good Disposition, in the first instance, did employ his Power to call out of nothing into being; he is not to be suspected, but that he will regard the Desire, the Estate, and the necessity of the Creature in the second instance, that is to preserve the Creature. No reason therefore to think that the Creature shall become wretched or miserable, by any Act of his, by whose Benignity he was called into being. Let us therefore resolve with Elihu, [252]I will ascribe all Righteousness to my Maker. And let us do so too; and avoid all such Thoughts and Apprehensions concerning God, as will any ways discommend him to us, or discountenance our Applications and Approaches to him. Now to this let me add, that this is the first and leading point in all Religion, for every one to entertain right Suppositions concerning God:[253] For whosoever hath wrong Apprehensions of God concerning his Creature, he stumbles at the Threshold: For all Religion depends upon a Man’s having in his Mind right Suppositions concerning God. And he that misrepresents God to himself, he will not love him: And he doth discourage and discountenance his own Application to him.

Thus I have made it appear, that since Man’s Misery is within himself, and of himself; we are not to attribute to God any hard Usage of his Creature. I believe, could the damn’d in Hell find in God the least Failure, they would be less self-condemned, and so in a degree put out Hell-fire: For the Life of Hell is to be self-condemned. And thus may the scrupulous and doubtful Mind of Man be satisfied, and freed from its fear of God’s Abso <413> lute Sovereignty, Irresistable Will, or uncontroulable Power. But absolutely to rid the Mind of Man from all Scruples, I must superadd a

Fourth. Some may apprehend remediless Danger from that which we call God’s Justice. I confess, if I cannot satisfie you in this Case, this will be beyond all the former. For if Justice require the Destruction of a Creature, this will put a necessity upon God himself; he can do no otherwise. If the necessity of Justice require so, he is not limited to destroy a Sinner to maintain his Righteousness; and this is beyond the three former: For in case of the other three, he may use his Liberty as he pleaseth; to wit, in the use of his Dominion, the determination of his Mind, and the executions of his Omnipotency; in these he may use his Power as he pleaseth: But if Justice require it, he is necessitated, and can do no otherwise. I say two things to this. First. God is upon no account necessitated to punish Sin, at least, not to punish it finally, where he meets with After-repentance in the Sinner. I say, to the Penitent, I keep strictly to that: For to forgive Sin to the Impenitent, I understand it not. Secondly. God is the Master of his own Satisfaction; he may admit of such Recompence as he is pleased with, and as he judgeth fit,[254] without being accountable to any else: for the Right of Punishment is the secondary Right in God. The first Right is the Right of Obedience: and if the Creature deny Obedience, God hath a Right to extort it. But now if any one think, that God cannot abate, remit, relaxate; then he denies to God common Right: For this is a common Right; every one that hath Right, may dispose of it: Any Man may do this; and shall we deny this to God? Every one hath Power to retain, or part with what is his own Right if he will. Secondly. I add, that it doth plainly appear, that the necessity of Justice doth not so <414> require, as this Suspicion doth alledge; by Reason of the great Acquiescence that God hath in the great Interposure of his Son, and the Sinners Repentance and Faith. Thus I think I have made it appear, that no Creature comes to Misery, by any Act of God’s; which was my first Inference.

But Secondly. If this were considered, Men would not allow themselves to be Lawless, and Exorbitant, though they might avoid the Danger of Divine and Humane Laws: For Misery ariseth from within, so that Sinners will be miserable, and unhappy, though God and Man should let them alone; for Misery ariseth from within. Men do acts that are Monstrous and Unnatural, and though God should over-look them, and let them alone; yet these Sinners would be Miserable and Unhappy, if any of these four things would make them so. Guilt of Conscience, Malignity and Naughtiness of Mind, a sickly, diseased and rotten Body, or God withdrawing in displeasure: If any of these four would make a Man Miserable, then a Sinner would be Miserable, if God should let him alone. First. Guilt of Conscience. And this hath driven Men to the most cruel and unnatural Practices upon themselves: For it hath put them upon despair, and hurried them by their own means; to avoid internal Hell, it hath driven them to external Hell, by their own Hands. We are not sure of the Reason of our own Minds, for our own preservation, (which is our greatest security under God) when our Reason is not satisfied in our Religion, or when our Practices are not Justified by the Reason of our Minds. Secondly. Malignity and Naughtiness of Mind. This Second hath made Men’s Condition very tedious, and uneasy to themselves; as not having Power and Government of their Minds; so no true self-enjoyment, that is upon such Grounds as will bear examination, if Men come to Reflect and consider. <415> Also this Malignity and Naughtiness of Mind, hath made Men very Pests and Plagues to the Places where they live, and disturbers of the quiet of the Persons, who are their Neighbours, and in converse, with whom they have their Habitations. This internal Rancour and Naughtiness of Mind, as it disposesseth Men of themselves, that they have no true self-enjoyment; so it makes them very ill Neighbours, Pests and Plagues to all those they live in conjunction withal: For it still puts them upon plotting, and contriving mischief, and makes them greedy of the first opportunity to put it in practice. Thirdly. A diseased and rotten Body: And as to this I have shewed you, that many Vices tend to the hurt of the Body; therefore a Body thus marred and spoiled, through Wickedness and Sin, this doth make work for the Physician, and puts us upon very uncouth Remedies, many of the Remedies are to Nature intollerable; and besides this, intemperate use doth take off and prevent the natural Pleasure of temperate Eating and Drinking, and Sleeping; for in Natures way only is Health and Strength. Fourthly. God with-drawing in displeasure. And this imports the Being cut off from the Fountain, taken out of the Centre, and being driven from the End: For such is God in relation to the Souls of Men. All things desire and move toward their Centre, and being driven from that, die: [255]The Soul of Man rent from God, is as Leaves rent off from the Tree, which wither, and come to nothing. So far as our Minds are fixed in God, so far they retain their Perfection; but rend the Soul of Man from God, it shrivels up, and comes to no- till it be restored to God, and rest in him as Origi <416> nal, and Final. For believe it, God is the Centre of all immortal Spirits and Substances; they eat not the Flesh of Oxen, nor Drink the Blood of Goats. The loss of the Sun to the World, is nothing to the loss of God to reasonable and immortal Souls. God is the immaterial Sun, in the immaterial World of Angels and Spirits. And so much for the Second Inference, a Word to the other Two

Thirdly. If this were well considered, Men would not be aggrieved at the shews and appearances of this vain World; so as to Envy the condition of the fond and foolish, who intoxicate themselves with Fancies, and are Self-flatterers. For be it what it will, either Power, or Command, or Wealth; if it be not in conjunction with uprightness and integrity, it is but a vain shew; they have neither solidity nor substance, nor are of permanency, or continuance, because they have not Truth at the bottom, their joy is a sorry thing, it may be from the Teeth outward; but not having a solid Foundation, it is but a Lie.[256]The triumphing of the Wicked is short, and the joy of the Hypocrite is but for a Moment. This seeming Prosperity of the Wicked, hath been a stumbling Block to Good-Men in former Ages, as to David, Psal. 73. to Job, chap. 21. 7. to Jeremiah, chap. 12. till they had bethought themselves, and examined and considered: But that’s well that ends well. It is no more sincere and solid, than the satisfaction High-way-Men and Robbers have, in that they seem to get for the present, who tho’ they Domineer for a while, and carry all before them, yet forget their Pleasure, or remember it with Repentance, when ’tis too late; when they come to be arraigned, condemned, and executed. The Tempter Abuses these credulous Persons, suggesting the Day of Vengeance to be a long time hence; whereas the Sins of Men do not always <417> stay for all their Punishment, till the Day of Judgment. But whether external Punishment be sooner or later; Wickedness carries Misery in its own Bowels.[257] Were we by at times, to see the Torture and Anguish that Guiltiness doth give occasion to, the unquietness of naughty and malicious Minds; the perplexities and vexations of the envious; a Man of Poverty; if of innocency and integrity, would not change conditions with them, notwithstanding all their Accommodations, and gay Out-sides. [258]Wicked Men are like the troubled Sea, when it cannot rest, whose Waters cast up Mire and Dirt, and ver. 21 There is no Peace, saith my God, to the Wicked.

Fourthly. This then doth effectually recommend to us the Principles of Reason and Religion; as things fit to Rule and Govern in the Life of Man: As things Sovereign to Nature, as the Law of Men’s Apprehensions, and the Rule of Men’s Actions. These moderate Men’s Passions, compose Men’s Spirits, quiet their Minds, keep Men in their Wits and secure their Bodies. A discomposed Mind doth dissaffect the Body, and a distemstered {sic} Body doth disturb the Mind. This is upon universal experience found true, that there is more of solid satisfaction in Good Self-government, than in all the forced Jollities and Pleasures in the World. The Irreligious, leave the Natural Use, which till Nature be put out of course, and by custom habituated to the contrary, cannot but be grievous. Things easily go on in Natures way, in their Natural course, and being interrupted, for awhile at least, strive to return to their Natural course again. Nothing doth well under Force and Violence, and they that force things; often, break themselves; but things return to their course. This hath been found true in cases of several sorts: Res nolunt male administrari. When the impediment is removed, things return to their Na <418> tural course. If their be no Rancour, no Naughtiness in our Minds, to obey God’s Commandments will be connatural to us, not grievous. The World hath an ill opinion of Religion; but if we will believe our Saviour, [259]his Yoke is easy, and his Burthen is light; [260]Commandments are not grievous. David found the highest content in them, Ps. 119. and Solomon: It is the Sum of all his Experience; he found all else to be Vanity but the true Motions of Religion.

I conclude with this. If it sometimes comes to pass, through the Grace and Goodness of God, that some particular Persons, after a wild course run; if incorrigibleness and invincible hardness be not contracted by unnatural Practices, upon self-reflection, and after consideration, come greatly to be-fool themselves and challenge, and condemn themselves in what they formerly had done; and return with firm resolution, and great courage to the ways of Sobriety and Religion, and hold better to it, because of former costly experience; such an Instance is a great condemnation of Licentious, and Exorbitant Practices; and is a Testimony from Persons of double experience, to the better ways of Virtue. And this we have had Experience of, that none prove better Men than these; and they make Recompence by their good Example, and Justifie the Truth which they did Transgress Arbitrarily and Licenciously before.

[1] Disc. XIV.

[2] Μείοσις, minus dicitur, plus intelligitur.

[3] Affirmativa ligant ad semel, Negativa ad semper. Negativa pronunciant Negativa sunt efficatiora.

[4] Gen. 41. 9.

[5] Privatio est negatio malignans. A Privatione ad Habitum, non est regressus. A non esse, ad esse, datur progressus.

[6] Joh. 3. 17.

[7] Gen. 3. 15.

[8] 1 Joh. 3. 8.

[9] Rom. 5. 18.

[10] Lu. 9. 56.

[11] Act. 5. 31.

[12] Matt. 18. 11.

[13] Eph. 3. 10.

[14] 1 Pet. 1. 21.

[15] Vivere est bene Valere.

[16] Act. 20. 21.

[17] Rom. 8. 2.

[18] Luk. 22. 42.

[19] 1 Cor. 2. 9.

[20] Disc. XV.

[21] Ατιστεύοντες. απειθουντες. Joh. 3. 36. ὃ πιστεύων ὃ ἀπειθῶν.

[22] Rom. 1. 5. Rom. 16. 26.

[23] All did, ἑλληνίζειν. Maxima pars Orientis Græce loquebatur. Beza. Ἕλληνες. Unbelieving. Ελληνισται. Believing Gentiles.

[24] Hos. 13. 9.

[25] Act. 14. 16, 17. Rom. 10. 14, 18.

[26] Col. 3. 11. Act. 10. 35.

[27] Matt. 15. 26, 27.

[28] Obj.

[29] Answ.

[30] 1 Pet. 3. 15.

[31] Contra Ordinem Rationis in Spiritualibus. Contra Ductum Naturæ in sensualibus. Contra Impetum Naturæ in Inanimatis.

[32] Ps. 4. 6.

[33] 2 Tim. 1. 10.

[34] Jud. 4.

[35] Rom. 3.31.

[36] Disc. XVI.

[37] Is. 64. 6.

[38] Rev. 7. 14.

[39] Justus ex fide.

[40] Eph. 5. 27.

[41] Rev. 19. 8.

[42] Justus ex fide Vivet.

[43] Justus Vivat ex fide.

[44] Psal. 19. 4.

[45] Rom. 10. 18.

[46] Ps. 97. 2.

[47] Ἀσέβ{ει}α in violato Dei cultu.

[48] Αδικία in violata æquitate erga Homines.

[49] Ἕν διὰ δυοῖν.

[50] Omne genus mali.

[51] Ininjustitia {sic} כדמט pro injuste.

[52] Disc. XVII.

[53] Demones sciunt, & contremiscunt. Natura progreditur ad perfectiora. Status incrementi. Omnia tendunt ad suam perfectionem. 2 Pet. 3.18, Eph. 3. 16. 17, 18.

[54] Hos. 13. 13.

[55] 2 Sam. 11. 14.

[56] 2 Sam. 12. 9.

[57] Acts 5.

[58] 1 Sam. 15. 15.

[59] Matt. {sic} 7. 10, 11.

[60] Quotidie depono aliquem {illeg}orem. Γηρὰσκω αεὶ πολλα διδασκόμενος.

[61] Josh. 5. 2, &c.

[62] 1 Sam. 21.

[63] Præcepta Moralia nunquam cedunt necessitati: Ceremonialia semper.

[64] Mar. 6.20.

[65] Matt. 23. 14.

[66] 1 Tim. 4. 2. Κεκαυτηριασμένοι. τήν ιδιαν συνείδηστιν.

[67] Ezek. 33. 11.

[68] Ezek. 18. 29.

[69] Psal. 119. 137.

[70] Intelligitur Ἀιτιατικῶς, non Διακριτικῶς.

[71] Num. 16. 38.

[72] 1 Sam. 15. 18.

[73] Matt. 9. 10.

[74] 1 Joh. 3. 9.

[75] Disc. XVIII.

[76] Contra sensum mentis suæ.

[77] Is. 1. 31 Mal. 1. 6.

[78] Tul. de Nat. Deo. L. 2.

[79] Quod tibi non vis fieri, alteri ne feceris.

[80] Pro. 24. 30.

[81] Animam habent pro Sale.

[82] Contra Ordinem Rationis, est Contra Statum Naturæ in Intellectualibus.

[83] Mat. 10. 18.

[84] Quoad particularioræ non quoad insigniora, famosiora, generaliora Jura.

[85] 2 Pet. 2.20.

[86] Lam. 3. 39.

[87] Rom. 7. 23.

[88] Rom. 3. 8.

[89] 2 Pet. 2. 3.

[90] Disc. XIX.

[91] Hos. 11. 4.

[92] Pietas est Justitia erga Deum.

[93] Conscientia est scientia cum Deo.

[94] Ex. 5. 2.

[95] Hæc notitia Dei recondita est intimis mentis penetralibus.

[96] Ἠ ποιηρία φθαρτικὴ τῶν ἀρχῶν.

[97] Tull. de N. D. Lib. 2.

[98] Gen. 1. 7.

[99] Disc. XX.

[100] Pertennitatem entitatis, res fugiunt Intellectum. Nescimus rerum modos, locum, tempus, &c.

[101] Via Perfectionis:

[102] Via Negationis.

[103] Psal. 34. 15

[104] 1 Sam. 5.

[105] Deus intimior nobis est intimo nostro. τού γὰρ καὶ γένος ἐσμέν.

[106] Omnis Intellectus Deum quærit. Naturalissimum est Creaturæ pati Creatorem.

[107] Jer. 5. 21.

[108] Sol & Homo generat hominem. Nihil absconditum a calore Solis.

[109] Omnia cum bono Deo. Operatur omnia in omnibus. 1 Cor. 12. 6.

[110] Job 32. 8. & 35. 12.

[111] Rom. 3. 18.

[112] Pro. 20. 27.

[113] Rom. 3. 18.

[114] Eph. 2. 12.

[115] Jer. 12. {sic}.

[116] Ps. 14. 1.

[117] Arist. Metaph. 2. c 8.----& de cælo. L. 2. c. 2.

[118] Ps. 3. 6.

[119] Omnis Intellectus tendit in Deum.

[120] Anima avulsa a Deo tanquam folia decidua. Fecisti nos domine, ad te; quietum est co{r} nostrum in te; irrequietum donec redeat ad te.

[121] Disc. XXI.

[122] Ὂρθας ὐπολήψεις.

[123] Medium cultus Divini.

[124] Παρὰ τὸν κτίσαντα Juxta; apud.

[125] Loco Mosis, non Dei.

[126] Φιλοσοφία ἐστιν ὁμοίωσις Θεοῦ κατὰ τὸ δύνατον ἀνθρώ{illeg}

[127] Galen de {usu} partium.

[128] Eph {sic}. 2. 13.

[129] Dis. XXII.

[130] Sir W. Rawleigh.

[131] Plutarch Quomodo poscit Adulator, &c.

[132] τὸ ἀληθὲς καὶ τὀ εἰλικρινὲς.

[133] Anima sic ea est Anima prudens.

[134] Ἠ δεσπαταλῶσα ξῶσα τἐθνηκε. 1 Tim. 5. 6.

[135] Nemo Repente fit Turpissimus.

[136] Tacitus, Annal L.6.

[137] Pro. 18. 14.

[138] Tormenta proprii pectoris.

[139] Hos. 13. 9.

[140] Luk. 9. 62.

[141] Victum & vestitum quærere.

[142] Dis. XXIII.

[143] Prov. 20. 27.

[144] Demonstratio a posteriori.

[145] Luk. 18. 2.

[146] Νομίξοντες πορεσμὸν εῖναι τὴν συσέβειαν,

[147] Cum Christiani comedunt quod colunt sit Anima mea cum Philosophis Averroes.

[148] Is. 57. 20.

[149] Dis. XXIV.

[150] Victum est contra naturam Hominis in quantum est homo, quia contra Ordinem Rationis.

[151] Heb. 10. 16. Jer. 31. 33, 34.

[152] Semina Virtutum Ingeniis nostris sunt innata, quæ si adolescere per nos liceret, natura ad beatam vitam perduceret. Cicero.

[153] Frigida mens, tacita sudant præcordia culpa.

[154] Act. 3. 26.

[155] Luk. 24. 47.

[156] 2 Tit. 11. 12.

[157] 2 Pet. 1. 4.

[158] Prov. 3. 6.

[159] Jer. 9. 23.

[160] Prov. 28. {sic}.

[161] Phil. 3. 3.

[162] 1 Pet. 2. 5.

[163] 1 Jo. 5. 21.

[164] Isa. 44. 19.

[165] Dis. XXV.

[166] Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere Causis.

[167] Ex iisdem {nu}trimur, ex quibus {illeg}amus.

[168] Is. 1. 2.

[169] Mal. 1. 6.

[170] Ps. 50. 21.

[171] Ps. 73. 25, 28.

[172] Ps. 10. 4.

[173] Jer. 12. 2.

[174] Job 21. 24 {sic}. & 22. 17.

[175] 1 John. 3. 9.

[176] Mic. 6. 8.

[177] Psal. 119. 137.

[178] Rom. 9. 14.

[179] Job 8. 3.

[180] Act. 17. 31.

[181] Δικαίωμα Θεοῦ.

[182] Omnes viæ Domini in æquitate, rectitudine, justitia.

[183] Vol. III.

[184] Dis. XXIV

[185] Is. 6. 10. Ἴνα est εκβὰτικον, non ἀιτιατικὸν.

[186] Math. 13 15. Mark. 4. 12. Luke. 8. 10. John 12. 40. Acts 28. 27. Rom 11. 8.

[187] Rom. 9. 14.

[188] Gen. 18. 25.

[189] Act. 17. 31.

[190] Job 8. 3. An Deus fortis pervertat justitiam? Cujus est justus ultor, non est malus Author.

[191] Audeo dicere superbo, ut incidat in peccatum Aug.

[192] Non deserit antequam deseratur.

[193] Act. 20. 26.

[194] Is. 49. 15.

[195] Hos. 13. 9.

[196] Ἅντιμισθίαν ἐν ἑαυτοῖ στα' πολαμβανον τες. Fecisti domine, & sic est, ut omnis inordinatus Appetitus sit sibi ipsi Pœna.

[197] 1 Chron. 21. 1.

[198] Jam. 1. 13. 14.

[199] Illud possumus quod jure possumus. Ad malum non datur posse.

[200] Rom. 9. 19

[201] Gen. 7.

[202] Gen. 19.

[203] Numb. 3.

[204] Numb. 16.

[205] Acts 5.

[206] Sequi ex conditione Naturæ, sicut rubigo consequitur ferrum.

[207] Disc. XXVII.

[208] Ps. 119. 36.

[209] 2 Pet. 3.

[210] Mar. {7.} 21 {sic} 22, 23.

[211] Jer. 51. 13.

[212] Psal. 10. 3.

[213] Prov. 28. 16.

[214] 1 Tim. 6. 10.

[215] 1 Cor. 5. 11.

[216] 1 Joh. 2. 16.

[217] Ὁ πτωχὸις ἐκ προαιρέσις ως. S Basil:

[218] Qui habere cupiunt, sanata voluntate pauperos non sunt. St. Aug.

[219] Prov. 13. 8.

[220] πολεύομα ἐν οὐρανοις

[221] In foro interiori in foro Conscientiæ satius est præsumere delictum, quam non delictum. Camnestra.

[222] Et levis argentis lamina crimen erat. Hæc in sugillationem nostri dicta sint, si non præstat Fides, quod exhibuit Infidelitas. Hierm.

[223] 1 Timo. 6. ch. 10.

[224] At nunc tria Regum Palatia non sufficiunt

[225] Gen. 30. 1.

[226] Phil. 4. 11.

[227] Josh. 1. 5.

[228] Eccl. 4. 8.

[229] 1 Tim. 5. 8.

[230] 2 Tit. 3. 10.

[231] ἑμοῦ θανοντος γαια μιχθητω περὶ.

[232] 1 John. 4. 20.

[233] Disc. XXVIII.

[234] Quicunque læditur, a seipso læditur.

[235] Vol. III.

[236] Inordinatus appetitus est sibi ipsi Pœna.

[237] Non est actus Moralis qui non est actus Humansu {sic}. Non est actus Humanus qui non proficiscitur a judicio Rationis & a libertate Arbitrii.

[238] 1 Cor. 6. 18.

[239] Job. 5. 2.

[240] 1 Cor. 13. 4.

[241] Ἐργον τοῦ νομο

[242] Rom. 10. 6, 7, 8.

[243] ξωόν πολιτικον.

[244] Prov. 1. 22, 23. Is. 5. 4. Ezek. 18. 32. Ezek. 33. 11. 2 Pet. 3. 9. Phil. 2. 13.

[245] 1 Joh. 4. 16.

[246] Φθίνος ἐκτὸς τοῦ θρόνου Invidentia non est in cœlo.

[247] Eccl. 8. 11.

[248] Matt. 5. 45.

[249] Ps. 145. 9.

[250] Joh. 3. 16.

[251] Act. 5. 31.

[252] Job 33. 6.

[253] Ὀρθας ὑπολήψσ{illeg}ς.

[254] Utens jus jure.

[255] Anima avulsa a Deo tanquam folia que de arbore decidunt. Quam diu mens nostra, in Deo tanquam in radice defixa est, perfectiones & dotes, quibuscum a Deo creata est, integras retinet: Sin avellatur inde, aut abscedat, elangue cu{illeg} illico & emarcessit, donec iterum convertatur ad Deum, & illi adhærescat.

[256] Res severa est verum gaudium. Job. 20. 5.

[257] 1 Tim. 5. 24.

[258] Is. 57. 20

[259] Matt. 11. 30.

[260] 1 John 5. 3.

Cite as: Benjamin Whichcote, Sermons on Romans 1:16-27: Second Version (1703), pp. 204-418,, accessed 2024-07-12.