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´╗┐Title: Christ: The Way, the Truth, and the Life
Author: Brown, John (of Wamphray), 1610-1679
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Christ: The Way, the Truth, and the Life" ***

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CHRIST

THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND
THE LIFE.

BY THE LATE
REV. JOHN BROWN,
MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL AT WAMPHRAY.

WRITTEN DURING THE TIME OF HIS BANISHMENT IN HOLLAND.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man
cometh unto the Father, but by me."--JOHN XIV. 6.

       *       *       *       *       *

CONTENTS.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dedication

The Author to the Reader

Recommendation

CHAPTER I.

Introduction, with some general observations from the cohesion.

CHAPTER II.

Of the words themselves in general.

CHAPTER III.

How Christ is the Way in general. "I am the Way."

CHAPTER IV.

How Christ is made use of for Justification as a Way.

CHAPTER V.

How Christ is to be made use of, as the Way, for sanctification in
general.

CHAPTER VI.

How Christ is to be made use of, in reference to the killing and
crucifying of the Old Man.

CHAPTER VII.

How Christ is to be made use of, in reference to growing in grace.

CHAPTER VIII.

How to make use of Christ for taking the guilt of our daily
out-breakings away.

CHAPTER IX.

How to make use of Christ for cleansing of us from out daily spots.

CHAPTER X.

Some generals proposed.

CHAPTER XI.

More particularly in what respect Christ is called the Truth.

CHAPTER XII.

Some general uses from this useful truth, that Christ is the Truth.

CHAPTER XIII.

How to make use of Christ as the Truth, for growth in knowledge.

CHAPTER XIV.

How to make use of Christ, as Truth, for comfort, when truth is
oppressed and borne down.

CHAPTER XV.

How to make use of Christ for steadfastness, in a time when truth is
oppressed and borne down.

CHAPTER XVI.

How to make use of Christ as the Truth, when error prevaileth, and the
spirit of error carrieth many away.

CHAPTER XVII.

How to make use of Christ as the Truth, that we may get our case and
condition cleared up to us.

CHAPTER XVIII.

How we shall make use of Christ as the Truth, that we may win to right
and suitable thoughts of God.

CHAPTER XIX.

"And the Life." How Christ is the Life.

CHAPTER XX.

Some general uses.

CHAPTER XXI.

How to make use of Christ as the Life, when the believer is so sitten-up
in the ways of God, that he can do nothing.

CHAPTER XXII.

How Christ is to be made use of as our Life, in case of heartlessness
and fainting through discouragements.

CHAPTER XXIII.

How to make use of Christ as the Life, when the soul is dead as to duty.

CHAPTER XXIV.

How shall the soul make use of Christ, as the Life, which is under the
prevailing power of unbelief and infidelity.

CHAPTER XXV.

How Christ is made use of as the Life, by one that is so dead and
senseless, as he cannot know what to judge of himself, or his own case,
except what is naught.

CHAPTER XXVI.

How is Christ, as the Life, to be applied by a soul that misseth God's
favour and countenance.

CHAPTER XXVII.

How shall one make use of Christ as the Life, when wrestling with an
angry God because of sin?

CHAPTER XXVIII.

No man cometh to the Father but by me.

CHAPTER XXIX.

How should we make use of Christ, in going to the Father, in prayer, and
other acts of worship?



DEDICATION.

       *       *       *       *       *

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE AND RELIGIOUS LADY, THE LADY STRATHNAVER.

MADAM,

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the
building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord;
as it ought to be the principal concern of all who have not sitten down
on this side of Jordan to satisfy their souls (once created for, and in
their own nature requiring, in order to satisfaction, spiritual,
immortal, and incorruptible substance,) with husks prepared for beasts,
to be built in and upon this corner-stone, for an habitation of God,
through the Spirit; so it ought to be the main design and work of such
as would be approven of God as faithful labourers and co-workers with
God, to be following the example of him who determined not to know
anything among those he wrote unto, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.
O! this noble, heart-ravishing, soul-satisfying mysterious theme, Jesus
Christ crucified, the short compend of that uncontrovertibly great
mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, justified in the
spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the
world, received up into glory, wherein are things the angels desire to
look unto, or with vehement desire bend, as it were, their necks, and
bow down their heads to look and peep into, (as the word used, I Pet. i.
12, importeth) is a subject for angelical heads to pry into, for the
most indefatigable and industrious spirits to be occupied about. The
searching into, and studying of this one truth, in reference to a
closing with it as our life, is an infallible mark of a soul divinely
enlightened, and endued with spiritual and heavenly wisdom; for though
it be unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness,
yet unto them who are called, it is Christ the power of God, and the
wisdom of God, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the
weakness of God is stronger than men. O what depths of the manifold
wisdom of God are there in this mystery! The more it is preached, known,
and believed aright, the more it is understood to be beyond
understanding, and to be what it is--a mystery. Did ever any preacher or
believer get a broad look of this boundless ocean, wherein infinite
wisdom, love that passeth all understanding, grace without all
dimensions, justice that is admirable and tremendous, and God in his
glorious properties, condescensions, high and noble designs, and in all
his perfections and virtues, flow over all banks; or were they ever
admitted to a prospect hereof in the face of Jesus Christ, and were not
made to cry out, O the depth and height, the breadth and length! O the
inconceivable, and incomprehensible boundlessness of all infinitely
transcendent perfections! Did ever any with serious diligence, as
knowing their life lay in it, study this mysterious theme, and were not
in full conviction of soul, made to say, the more they promoved in this
study, and the more they descended in their divings into this depth, or
soared upward in their mounting speculations in this height, they found
it the more an unsearchable mystery! The study of other themes (which,
alas! many who think it below them to be happy, are too much occupied
in) when it hath wasted the spirits, wearied the mind, worn the body,
and rarified the brain to the next degree unto a distraction, what
satisfaction can it give as to what is attained, or encouragement as to
future attainments? And when, as to both these, something is had, and
the poor soul puffed up with an airy and fanciful apprehension of having
obtained some great thing, but in truth a great nothing, or a nothing
pregnant with vanity and vexation of spirit, foolish twins causing no
gladness to the father, "for he that increaseth knowledge increaseth
sorrow," Eccles. i. 18. What peace can all yield to a soul reflecting on
posting away time, now near the last point, and looking forward to
endless eternity? Oh the thoughts of time wasted with, and fair
opportunities of good lost by the vehement pursuings and huntings after
shadows and vanities, will torment the soul by assaulting it with
piercing convictions of madness and folly, in forsaking all to overtake
nothing; with dreadful and soul-terrifying discourses of the saddest of
disappointments, and with the horror of an everlasting and irrecoverable
loss. And what hath the laborious spirit then reaped of all the travail
of his soul, when he hath lost it? But, on the other hand, O what
calmness of mind, serenity of soul, and peace of conscience, because of
the peace of God which passeth all understanding, will that poor soul
look back, when standing on the border of eternity, on the bygone days
or hours it spent in seeking after, praying and using all appointed
means for some saving acquaintance with, and interest in this only soul
up-making, and soul-satisfying mystery; and upon its yielding up itself,
through the efficacious operations of the Spirit of grace, wholly,
without disputing, unto the powerful workings of this mystery within;
and in becoming crucified with Christ, and living through a crucified
Christ's living in it, by his Spirit and power. And with what rejoicing
of heart, and glorious singing of soul, will it look forward to
eternity, and its everlasting abode in the prepared mansions,
remembering that there its begun study will be everlastingly continued,
its capacity to understand that unsearchable mystery will be
inconceivably greater; and the spiritual, heavenly and glorious joy,
which it will have in that practical reading its divinity without book
of ordinances, will be its life and felicity for ever? And what peace
and joy in the Holy Ghost, what inward inexpressible quiet and
contentment of mind will the soul enjoy in dwelling on these thoughts,
when it shall have withal the inward and well-grounded persuasion of its
right through Christ, to the full possession of that all which now it
cannot conceive, let be comprehend; the foretastes whereof filleth it
with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and the hope of shortly landing
there, where it shall see and enjoy, and wonder and praise, and rest in
this endless and felicitating work, making it to sing while passing
through the valley and shadow of death? O if this were believed! O that
we were not drunk to a distraction and madness, with the adulterous-love
of vain and airy speculations, to the postponing, if not utter
neglecting, of this main and only up-making work, of getting real
acquaintance with, and a begun possession of this mystery in our souls,
Christ, the grand mystery, formed within us, living and working within
us by his Spirit, and working us up into a conformity unto, and an
heart-closing with God manifested in the flesh, that we may find in
experience, or at least in truth and reality, have a true transumpt of
that gospel mystery in our souls! Oh, when shall we take pleasure in
pursuing after this happiness that will not flee from us, but is rather
pursuing us! when shall we receive with joy and triumph, this King of
glory that is courting us daily, and is seeking access and entry into
our souls! Oh, why cry we not out in the height of the passion of
spiritual longing and desire, O come Lord Jesus, King of glory, with
thine own key, and open the door, and enlarge and dilate the chambers of
the soul, that thou may enter and be entertained as the King of glory,
with all thy glorious retinue, to the ennobling of my soul, and
satisfying of all the desires of that immortal spark? Why do we not
covet after this knowledge which hath a true and firm connexion with all
the best and truly divine gifts. O happy soul that is wasted and worn to
a shadow, if that could be, in this study and exercise, which at length
will enliven, and, as it were, bring in a new heavenly and spiritual
soul into the soul, so that it shall look no more like a dead
dis-spirited thing out of its native soil and element, but as a free,
elevated, and spiritualized spirit, expatiating itself and flying abroad
in the open air of its own element and country. O happy day, O happy
hour that is really and effectually spent in this employment! What would
souls, swimming in this ocean of pleasures and delights care for? Yea,
with what abhorrency would they look upon the bewitching allurements of
the purest kind of carnal delights, which flow from the mind's
satisfaction in feeding on the poor apprehensions, and groundlessly
expected comprehensions of objects, suited to its natural genius and
capacity? O what a more hyperbolical exceeding and glorious satisfaction
hath a soul in its very pursuings after (when it misseth and cannot
reach) that which is truly desirable! How doth the least glimpse through
the smallest cranie, of this glorious and glorifying knowledge of God in
Christ, apprehended by faith, raise up the soul to that pitch of joy and
satisfaction which the knowledge of natural things, in its purest
perfection, shall never be able to cause; and to what a surmounting
measure of this joy and contentation will the experiencing and feeling,
by spiritual sense, the sweet and relish of this captivating, and
transcendently excellent knowledge raise the soul unto? O must not this
be the very suburbs of heaven to the soul! When the soul thus seeth and
apprehendeth God in Christ, and that as its own God through Christ, (for
as all saving knowledge draweth out the soul unto an embracing and
closing with the object, so it bringeth in the object to the making up
of the reciprocal union and in-being) it cannot but admire with
exultation, and exult with admiration, at that condescendence of free
grace that hath made it, in any measure, capable of this begun glory,
and will further make it meet, by this begun glory, to be a partaker of
the inheritance of the saints in light. And what will a soul that hath
tasted of the pure delights of this river of gospel manifestations, and
hath seen, with soul-ravishing delights, in some measure, the manifold
wisdom of God wrapped up therein; and the complete and perfect symmetry
of all the parts of that noble contexture, and also the pure design of
that contrivance to abase man, and to extol the riches of the free grace
of God, that the sinner, when possessed of all designed for him and
effectuated in him thereby, may know who alone should wear the crown and
have all the glory; what, I say, will such a soul see in another gospel
(calculated to the meridian of the natural, crooked, and corrupt temper
of proud men, who is soon made vain of nothing, which, instead of
bringing a sinner, fallen from God through pride, back again to the
enjoyment of him, through a Mediator, doth but foster that innate plague
and rebellion, which and procured his first excommunication from the
favour, and banishment out of the paradise of God,) that shall attract
its heart to it, and move it to a compliance with it? When the poor
sinner that hath been made to pant after a Saviour, and hath been
pursued to the very ports of the city of refuge by the avenger of blood,
the justice of God, hath tasted and seen how good God is, and felt the
sweetness of free love in a crucified Christ, and seen the beauty and
glory of the mystery of his free grace, suitably answering and
overcoming the mystery of its sin and misery; O what a complacency hath
he therein, and in the way of gospel salvation, wherein free grace is
seen to overflow all banks, to the eternal praise of the God of all
grace. How saltless and unsavoury will the most cunningly-devised and
patched-together mode of salvation be, that men, studying the perversion
of the gospel, and seeking the ruin of souls with all their skill,
industry, and learning, are setting off with forced rhetoric, and the
artifice of words of man's wisdom, and with the plausible advantages of
a pretended sanctity, and of strong grounds and motives unto diligence
and painfulness, to a very denying and renouncing Christian liberty,
when once it is observed, how it entrencheth upon, and darkeneth lustre,
or diminisheth the glory of free grace, and hath the least tendency to
the setting of the crown on the creature's head, in whole or in part?
The least perception, that hereby the sinner's song, "ascribing
blessing, honour, glory, and power unto him that was slain, and hath
redeemed them to God by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and
people, and nation; and hath made them, unto their God, kings and
priests," shall be marred, will be enough to render that device
detestable, and convince the soul, that it is not the gospel of the
grace of God and of Christ, but rather the mystery of iniquity. What a
peculiar savouriness doth the humbled believer find in the doctrine of
the true gospel-grace, and the more that he be thereby made nothing, and
Christ made all; that he in his highest attainments be debased, and
Christ exalted; that his most lovely peacock feathers be laid, and the
crown flourish on Christ's head; that he be laid flat, without one foot
to stand upon, and Christ the only supporter and carrier of him to
glory; that he be as dead without life, and Christ live in him, the more
lovely, the more beautiful, the more desirable and acceptable is it unto
him. O what a complacency hath the graced soul in that contrivance of
infinite wisdom, wherein the mystery of the grace of God is so
displayed, that nothing appeareth from the lowest foundation-stone to
the uppermost cope-stone but grace, grace, free grace making up all the
materials, and free grace with infinite wisdom cementing all? The
gracious soul can be warm under no other covering but what is made of
that web, wherein grace, and only grace, is both wooft and warp; and the
reason is manifest, for such an one hath the clearest sight and
discovery of his own condition, and seeth that nothing suiteth him and
his case but free grace; nothing can make up his wants but free grace;
nothing can cover his deformities but free grace; nothing can help his
weaknesses, shortcomings, faintings, sins, and miscarriages but free
grace. Therefore is free grace all his salvation and all his desire. It
is his glory to be free grace's debtor for evermore; the crown of glory
will have a far more exceeding and eternal weight, and be of an
hyperbolically hyperbolic and eternal weight, and yet easily carried and
worn, when he seeth how free grace and love hath lined it, and free
grace and free love sets it on and keeps it on for ever; this makes the
glorified saint wear it with ease, by casting it down at the feet of the
gracious and loving purchaser and bestower. His exaltation is the
saint's glory, and by free grace, the saints receiving and holding all
of free grace, is he exalted. O what a glory is it to the saint, to set
the crown of glorious free grace with his own hands on the head of such
a Saviour, and to say, "Not unto me, not unto me, but unto thee, even
unto thee alone, be the glory for ever and ever." With what delight,
satisfaction, and complacency will the glorified saint, upon this
account, sing the redeemed and ransomed their song? And if the result
and effect of free grace will give such a sweet sound there, and make
the glorified's heaven, in some respects, another thing, or at least, in
some respect, a more excellent heaven than Adam's heaven would have
been; for Adam could not have sung the song of the redeemed; Adam's
heaven would not have been the purchase of the blood of God; nor would
Adam have sitten with Christ Redeemer on his throne; nor would there
have been in his heaven such rich hangings of free grace, nor such
mansions prepared by that gracious and loving husband, Christ, who will
come and bring his bought bride home with him. Seeing, I say, heaven,
even upon the account of free grace, will have such a special, lovely,
desirable, and glorious lustre, O bow should grace be prized by us now!
How should the gospel of the grace of God be prized by us! What an
antipathy to glory, as now prepared and dressed up for sinful man, must
they shew, whose whole wits and parts are busied to darken the glory of
that grace, which God would have shining in the gospel; and who are at
so much pains and labour to dress up another gospel, (though the apostle
hath told us, Gal. i. 7, that there is not another,) wherein
gospel-grace must stand by, and law-grace take the throne, that so man
may sacrifice to his own net, and burn incense to his own drag, and may,
at most, be grace's debtor in part; and yet no way may the saved man
account himself more grace's debtor, than the man was who wilfully
destroyed himself in not performing of the conditions; for grace, as the
new gospellers, or rather gospel-spillers mean and say, did equally to
both frame the conditions, make known to the contrivance, and tender the
conditional peace and salvation. But as to the difference betwixt Paul
and Judas, it was Paul that made himself to differ, and not the free
grace of God determining the heart of Paul by grace to a closing with
and accepting of the bargain. It was not grace that wrought in him both
to will and to do. It was he, and not the grace of God in him; what is
more contradictory to the gospel of the grace of God? And yet vain man
will not condescend to the free grace of God. Pelagianism and
Arminianism needeth not put a man to much study, and to the reading of
many books, to the end it may be learned, (though the patrons hereof
labour hot in the very fires, to make their notions hang together, and
to give them such a lustre of unsanctified and corrupt reason, as may be
taking with such as know no other conduct in the matters of God,) for
naturally we all are born Pelagians and Arminians. These tenets are
deeply engraven in the heart of every son of fallen Adam. What serious
servant of God findeth not this, in his dealing with souls, whom he is
labouring to bring into the way of the gospel? Yea, what Christian is
there, who hath acquaintance with his own heart, and is observing its
biasses, and corrupt inclinations, that is not made to cry out, O
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from these dregs of
Pelagianism, Arminianism, and Jesuitism, which I find yet within my
soul? Hence, it may seem no wonderful or strange thing (though, after so
much clear light, it may be astonishing to think, that now, in this age,
so many are so openly and avowedly appearing for this dangerous and
deadly error,) to us, to hear and see this infection spreading and
gaining ground so fast, there needeth few arguments or motives to work
up carnal hearts to an embracing thereof, and to a cheerful acquiescing
therein; little labour will make a spark of fire work upon gunpowder.
And, methinks, if nothing else will, this one thing should convince us
all of the error of this way, that nature so quickly and readily
complieth therewith. For who, that hath an eye upon, or regard of such
things, seeth not what a world of carnal reasonings, objections,
prejudices, and scruples, natural men have in readiness against the
gospel of Christ; and with what satisfaction, peace, and delight they
reason and plead themselves out of the very reach of free grace; and
what work there is to get a poor soul, in any measure wakened and
convinced of its lost condition, wrought up to a compliance with the
gospel-way of salvation? How many other designs, projects, and essays
doth it follow, with a piece of natural vehemency and seriousness,
without wearying, were it even to the wasting of its body and spirits,
let be its substance and riches, before it be brought to a closing with
a crucified Mediator, and to an accounting of all its former workings,
attainments, and painful labourings and gain, as loss for Christ, and
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and as dung that it may
win Christ, and be found in him, not having its own righteousness, which
is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the
righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 7-9. And may it not
seem strange, that now, after so many have found, through the grace of
God, the sweet experience of the gracious workings of the gospel-grace
of God upon their hearts, and so are in case, as having this witness
within them, to give verdict against those assertions, yea, more, and
many more than were in several ages before; yet Satan should become so
bold as to vent these desperate opinions, so diametrically opposite to
the grace of God declared in the gospel, and engraven in the hearts of
many hundreds by the finger of God, confirming, in the most undoubted
manner, the truth of the gospel doctrines. This would seem to say, that
there are such clear sunshine days of the gospel, and of the Son of Man
a-coming (and who can tell how soon this night shall be at an end?) that
all these doctrines of nature shall receive a more conspicuous and
shameful dash than they have received for these many ages. Hithertil
when Satan raised up and sent forth his qualified instruments for this
desperate work, God always prepared carpenters to fright these horns,
and thus gospel truth came forth, as gold out of a furnace, more clear
and shining: And who can tell but there may be a dispensation of the
pure grace of God, in opposition to these perverting ways of Satan, yet
to come, that, as to the measure of light and power, shall excel
whatever hath been since the apostles' days. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
However, Madam, the grace of God will be what it is, to all the chosen
and ransomed ones, they will find in it, which will make whatever cometh
in competition therewith or would darken it, contemptible in their eyes:
And happy they, of whom in this day wherein darkness covereth the earth,
and gross darkness the people, it may be said, the Lord hath arisen upon
them, and his glory hath been seen upon them: For whatever others,
whose understanding is yet darkened, and they alienated from the life of
God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of
their hearts, imagine of the gospel-grace, and however they discern
nothing of the heavenly and spiritual glory of the grace of God; yet
they, being delivered or cast into the form and mould of the doctrine of
the gospel which they have obeyed from the heart, through the powerful
and irresistible efficacy of the mighty grace of God, have seen such an
alluring excellency in that gracious contrivance of infinite wisdom, to
set forth the unparallelableness of the pure grace of God, and are daily
seeing more and more of the graciousness and wisdom of that heavenly
invention, in its adequate suitableness to all their necessities, that
as they cannot but admire and commend the riches of that grace that
interlineth every sentence of the gospel, and the greatness of that love
that hath made such a completely broad plaister to cover all their sores
and wounds; so the longer they live, and the more they drink of this
pure fountain of heavenly nectar; and the more their necessities press
them to a taking on of new obligations, because of new supplies from
this ocean of grace, the more they are made to admire the wisdom and
goodness of the Author; and the more they are made to fall in love with
to delight, and lose themselves in the thoughts of this incomprehensible
grace of God; yea, and to long to be there, where they shall be in
better case to contemplate, and have more wit to wonder at, and better
dexterity to prize, and a stronger head to muse upon, and a more
enlarged heart to praise for this boundless and endless treasure of the
grace of God, with which they are enriched, through Jesus Christ. Sure,
if we be not thus enamoured and ravished with it, it is because we are
yet standing without, or, at most, upon the threshold and border of this
grace; were we once got within the jurisdiction of grace, and had
yielded up ourselves unto the power thereof, and were living and
breathing in this air, O! how sweet a life might we have! What a kindly
element would grace be to us! As sin had reigned unto death, even so
grace should reign, through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus
Christ our Lord, Rom. v. 21. Grace reigning within us through
righteousness, would frame and fit our souls for that eternal life that
is insured to all who come once under the commanding, enlivening,
strengthening, confirming, corroborating, and perfecting power of grace.
And seeking grace for grace, and so living, and walking, and spending
upon grace's costs and charges; O how lively, and thriving proficients
might we be! The more we spend of grace (if it could be spent) the
richer should we be in grace. O what an enriching trade must it be to
trade with free grace, where there is no loss, and all is gain, the
stock, and gain, and all is insured; yea, more, labouring in grace's
field would bring us in Isaac's blessing an hundred-fold. But, alas! it
is one thing to talk of grace, but a far other thing to trade with
grace. When we are so great strangers unto the life of grace, through
not breathing in the air of grace, how can the name of the Lord Jesus be
glorified in us, and we in him, according to the grace of our God, and
the Lord Jesus Christ, Thess. i. 12. Consider we, what an affront and
indignity it is unto the Lord dispensator of grace, that we look so lean
and ill-favoured, as if there were not enough of the fattening bread of
the grace of God in our Father's house, or as if the great Steward, who
is full of grace and truth, were unwilling to bestow it upon us, or
grudged us of our allowance, when the fault is in ourselves; we will not
follow the course that wise grace and gracious wisdom hath prescribed;
we will not open our mouth wide, that he might fill us; nor go to him
with our narrowed or closed mouths, that grace might make way for grace,
and widen the mouth for receiving of more grace; but lie by in our
leanness and weakness. And, alas! we love too well to be so. O but grace
be ill wared on us who carry so unworthily with it as we do; yet it is
well with the gracious soul that he is under grace's tutory and care;
for grace will care for him when he careth not much for it, nor yet
seeth well to his own welfare; grace can and will prevent, yea, must
prevent, afterward, as well as at the first; that grace may be grace,
and appear to be grace, and continue unchangeably to be grace, and so
free grace. Well is it with the believer, whom grace has once taken by
the heart and brought within the bond of the covenant of grace; its
deadliest condition is not desperate. When corruption prevaileth to such
a height, that the man is given over for dead, there being no sense, no
motion, no warmth, no breath almost to be observed, yet grace, when
violently constrained by that strong distemper, to retire to a secret
corner of the soul, and there to lurk and lie quiet, will yet at length,
through the receiving influences of grace promised in the covenant, and
granted in the Lord's good time, come out of its prison, take the
fields, and recover the empire of the soul; and then the dry and
withered stocks, when the God of all grace will be as dew unto Israel,
shall blossom and grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon;
his branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree,
and his smell as Lebanon. It is a happy thing either for church or
particular soul to be planted in grace's sappy soil, they lie open to
the warm beams of the Sun of Righteousness; and the winter blasts may be
sharp and long; clouds may intercept the heat, and nipping frosts may
cause a sad decay, and all the sap may return and lie, as it were,
dormant in the root; yet the winter will pass, the rain will be over and
gone, and the flowers will appear on the earth; the time of singing of
birds will come, and the voice of the turtle will be heard in the land;
then shall even the wilderness and solitary place be glad, and the
desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose, it shall blossom
abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon
shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall
see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. We wonder that
'tis not always hot summer days, a flourishing and fruitful season, with
souls and with churches. But know we the thoughts of the Lord; see we to
the bottom of the deep contrivance of infinite wisdom? Know we the
usefulness, yea, necessity of long winter nights, stormy blasts, rain,
hail, snow, and frost? Consider we, that our state and condition, while
here, calleth for those vicissitudes, and requireth the blowing of the
north as well as of the south winds? If we considered, how grace had
ordered all things for our best, and most for the glory and exaltation
of grace, we would sit down and sing under the saddest of dispensations,
and living by faith and hope, we would rejoice in the confident
expectation of a gracious outgate; for as long as grace predomineth (and
that will be until glory take the empire) all will run in the channel of
grace; and though now sense (which is oft faith's unfaithful friend)
will be always suggesting false tales of God, and of his grace unto
unbelief, and raising thereby discontents, doubts, fears, jealousies,
and many distempers in the soul, to its prejudice and hurt, yet in end,
grace shall be seen to be grace; and the faithful shall get such a full
sight of this manifold grace, as ordering, tempering, timing,
shortening, or continuing, of all the sad and dismal days and seasons
that have passed over their own or their mother's head, that they shall
see, that grace did order all, yea, every circumstance of all the
various tossings, changes, ups and downs, that they did meet with. And O
what a satisfying sight will that be, when the general assembly and
church of the first-born, which are in-rolled in Heaven, and every
individual saint, shall come together, and take a view of all their
experience, the result of which shall be, grace began, grace carried on,
and grace hath perfected all, grace was at the bottom of all? What
shoutings, grace, grace unto it, will be there; when the head-stone
shall be brought forth? What soul-satisfying complacency in, and
admiration at all that is past, will a back-look thereat yield, when
every one shall be made to say, grace hath done all well, not a pin of
all the work of grace in and about me might have been wanted; now I see,
that the work of God is perfect, grace was glorious grace, and wise
grace, whatever I thought of it then. O what a fool have I been, in
quarrelling at, and in not being fully satisfied with all that grace was
doing with me? O how little is this believed now?

In conscience, madam, that your ladyship (to me no ways known, but by a
savoury report) shall accept of this bold address, I recommend your
ladyship, my very noble lord your husband, and offspring, to the word of
his grace, and subscribe myself,

MADAM,

Your and their servant

in the gospel and the grace of God.

JOHN BROWN.



THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.


CHRISTIAN READER,--After the foregoing address, I need not put thee to
much more trouble: only I shall say, that he must needs be a great
stranger in our Israel, or sadly smitten with that epidemic plague of
indifferency, which hath infected many of this generation, to a
benumbing of them, and rendering them insensible and unconcerned in the
matters of God, and of their own souls, and sunk deep in the gulf of
dreadful inconsideration, who seeth not, or taketh no notice of, nor is
troubled at the manifest and terrible appearances of the inexpressibly
great hazard, our all, as Christians in this life, is this day exposed
into. I mean the mystery of the gospel of the grace of God, wherein the
exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us, through
Christ Jesus, hath been shown. We have enjoyed for a considerable time,
a clear and powerful dispensation hereof, in great purity and plenty;
but, alas! is it not manifest to all, that will not wilfully shut their
eyes, that this mercy and goodness of God hath been wickedly abused, and
the pure administration of his grace and love perfidiously sinned away,
by this apostate generation. Are our spots this day the spots of his
children? Are their fruits answerable to the Lord's pains and labour
about us, to be seen even amongst the greatest of professors? Is there
that gospel holiness, tenderness, watchfulness, growing in grace, and in
the knowledge of Jesus Christ, that growing up in Christ, in all things
that heavenly mindedness, that fellowship with the Father and with his
Son Christ Jesus, and that conversation in heaven, that the
dispensation of grace, we have been favoured with beyond many, and have
been long living under, did call for at our hands? Alas! our grapes are
but wild and stinking. Wherefore (and who can think it strange, if it be
so?) the Lord seemeth to be about to contend with us, by covering our
horizon with Egyptian darkness; many who would not receive the love of
the truth, that they might be saved, being already given up to strong
delusion, that they should believe a lie, and many more in hazard to be
drawn aside to crooked paths, by men of corrupt minds, who have been,
and are still busy to vent and spread abroad, with no little petulancy
and confidence, damnable doctrines, to the perverting of the doctrine of
the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the subverting and overturning of the
very foundations of our hope and assurance; and that in such a way, and
by such means and stratagems, as seem to have wrath written upon them in
legible letters; for the more plausible and taking a corrupt doctrine
be, it is the more dangerous and judgment-like, and more are thereby in
hazard to be deluded and drawn away.

Nay (which is yet more terrible and dreadful) it is to be feared, that
the jealous God, in his holy and righteous judgment, hath given a
providential commission (to speak to) unto the seducing spirit, to
persuade and prevail; for is not this the clear language of the present
holy and righteous dispensations of God, and of the stupendously
indifferent frame and disposition of the generality of men, called
Christians, not only provoking God to spue them out of his mouth, but a
disposing them also unto a receiving of whatsoever men, lying in wait to
deceive, shall propose and obtrude?

Alas! the clouds are not now a-gathering, but our horizon is covered
over with blackness, and great drops are a-falling, that presage a
terrible overflowing deluge of error, and apostacy from the truth and
profession of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be at hand, if the Lord
wonderfully prevent it not. And behold (O wonderful!) the generality of
professors are sleeping in security, apprehending no danger. Satan is
more cunning now, than to drive men to Popery by rage and cruelty, (and
yet what he may be permitted to do after this manner, who can tell?) or
by openly pleading in his emissaries, for this abomination, (and yet
even thus is he already prevailing with not a few) or to send forth his
agents for Arminianism and Socinianism (though even this way too, he is
too much prevailing.) But his main work now seemeth to be, to bring in
another gospel, (and yet there is not another) or rather an
antievangelic and antichristian delusory dream, overturning at once the
whole gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and for this end he
employeth the Quakers, on the one hand, men of desperate and
antievangelic principles, the very sink of all abominations, old and
late, (as I shall show, if the Lord will continue health and strength,
in an examination of their doctrine and principles, lately emitted by
one Robert Barcley) and, on the other hand, men, (or moralists, if you
will call them so) pleading for, and crying up an antievangelic
holiness, a mere shadow without substance or reality; and that in place
of Christ himself; and in order to the carrying on of this desperate
design, the old dragon is employing men of seeming different principles
and ways, whom, though their faces seem to look to contrary airths, yet
he holdeth notwithstanding fast tied by their tails (as Samson's foxes
were) that thereby, if the Lord permit it, he may, by the fire of enmity
to the pure gospel of the grace of God, burning in their tails, cause a
conflagration of that truth, wherein lyeth all our hope: For this new
model of religion, that many are so busied about, is such as Pelagians,
Arminians, Papists, Socinians, Quakers, yea Turks, and moral heathens;
yea, and all who are enemies to, and not reconcilable with the true
grace of God held forth in the gospel, will willingly admit of, and
harmoniously agree in: A way which complyeth so well with proud self,
and with the corrupt nature of man, that it is little wonder, if it have
many abettors and admirers. I shall say no more of this; but only infer,

That sure the consideration of this should move all, in whom is any
thing of the zeal of God, and love to souls, their own and others', to
appear in the defence of the gospel of our salvation, by all means
incumbent to them, and possible for them; for if this citadel and
stronghold, wherein our all, and the all of pure and true religion,
lyeth, be blown up, we are gone; and indeed no less is intended by this
antichristian and antievangelic enemy, than the utter subversion of true
Christian religion. Who would not then be hereby alarmed, and upon their
guard, when matters are at this pass? Should not all, who have any love
to their own souls, any zeal for the glory of Christ, anointed of the
Father to be our prophet, priest, and king; my desire to see the crown
flourishing upon his head, and to have the gospel preserved pure and
uncorrupted, be pleading with God by prayer, in the behalf of his Son's
kingdom, crown, and glory; and wrestling with him till he were pleased
to dispel these clouds, and prevent this black day: especially should
they not be labouring to be acquainted, in truth and reality, with the
gospel of Jesus Christ, that having the mysterious truths thereof
imprinted on their souls, and their hearts cast into its mould, they may
be preserved from the hurt of this deadly poison; for this, with a
constant dependence upon, and use-making of Christ in all his offices,
will prove the best preservative against this infection.

The persuasion whereof did induce me to publish the following heads of
some sermons, after they have been translated into Dutch, and published
here: Knowing that they might be of no less use to the people of God in
Britain and Ireland. I know not a more effectual mean to unstable souls
from siding with and embracing every new notion; and from being carried
about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning
craftiness, whereby they lye in wait to deceive; than to put them upon
the real exercise of gospel godliness, and to the daily practice of the
main and fundamental gospel work, of living by faith in Jesus Christ,
and of growing up into him, in all things, who is the head, from whom
the whole body fitly joined together and compacted, by that which every
joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of
every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in
love. Such, I am sure, as have thus learned the truth, as it is in
Jesus, and are practising the same accordingly, will have an antidote
within them against the strongest poison of these seducers, and a real
answer to, and confutation of, all their subtile sophisms. The soul
exercising itself into gospel godliness, will find work enough to take
it wholly up; and find such a solid ground to stand upon; and see such a
satisfying fulness, answering all its necessities and wants, and such a
sure heart-quieting ground of peace, hope, and consolation in Jesus
Christ, as that it will have no leisure, and small temptation to listen
to seducing perverters, and no inclination to seek after empty cisterns.

I know much may be desiderated in this following treatise, and many may
have exceptions not without ground against it. Some may think it
arrogancy, and too great confidence in me, to attempt the handling of
such a mysterious and necessary part of Christian practice, wherein few,
(if any, so far as I know,) have gone before, in direct handling of this
matter, at least in this method and order, I mean that part which is
about sanctification. Others may be displeased with the mean and low
style; with my multiplying particulars, which might have been better and
more handsomely couched under fewer heads, and with my unnecessary
contracting of the whole into such a narrow bound, and other things of
that kind; for which, and many other failings of the like nature and
import, which may without any diligent search, be found in it, even by
ordinary and unprejudiced readers; I shall not industriously labour to
apologize, knowing that my very apology in this case, will need an
apology; only I shall say this, that considering how the snare, which
the vigilant and active enemy of our salvation, the devil, was laying by
an unholy morality, did nearly concern all, and especially the meanest
(for parts and experience) and less fixed Christians, I thought a
discourse on such a subject as I judged most necessary at all times, and
especially in such a day of hazard, should be framed to the capacity of
one as well as another; the most understanding can receive benefit, by
that which is calculated to the capacity of children, when these can
reap little edification by what is suited to the palate of those; and
the less experienced, or such as are of lower understanding, will be
less able to draw a general to a particular; or to improve and so fully
to comprehend one particular touched, as to be able thereby to
understand and take in a like particular not mentioned; than such as
have their senses more exercised, and are thereby in case to make a
better improvement of what is but compendiously declared, when those
must have the bread broken to their hand, or they shall receive but
small edification thereby; and yet, I suppose, the judicious will
observe some variety, smaller or greater, even where particulars seem to
be, at the first view, most unnecessarily multiplied. I know, and
willingly grant, (for it is obvious enough) that a discourse of this
subject and matter, might have required a far larger volume; but then
how should such have profited thereby, whom poverty might possibly have
scared from buying; or the necessary affairs of their ordinary callings
would have keeped from a diligent perusal of it? And I thought that
neither of these should have been overlooked in this special or general
design which I had before my eyes.

One thing, as my answer to all, I shall but add; if hereby others whom
the Lord hath more enabled with all necessaries for such a work, shall
be hereby either instigated or encouraged to write upon this subject, (I
mean mainly the last part thereof, touching the use-making of Christ in
sanctification; for blessed be the Lord, many have been employed of the
Lord to speak soundly and edifyingly unto the use-making of Christ as to
righteousness and justification,) a full, plain, edifying and satisfying
discovery of this necessary and important truth, viz. Christ made of God
to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. And withal,
point out plainly and particularly the way how believers in all their
particular and various exigencies may and should so make use of and
apply that all fulness which is treasured up in the Head, for the
benefit and advantage of the members of the mystical body, as they may
not only theoretically see, but practically also experience this truth,
that in him they are complete; and so they may be helped to understand
how through the necessary and constant use-making of him, as all in
all, they may grow up in him in all things. If this be, I say, done by
any to better purpose, I shall think this my adventure not altogether
fruitless, and in part at least excusable.

As for thee, O Christian, whose instruction, edification, and
confirmation in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the faith which was
once delivered unto the saints, I mainly intended in this undertaking, I
have a few things to add:

Know then, that there are certain men (as the Apostle Jude speaketh)
crept in unawares, who were of old ordained to this condemnation,
ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and
denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ; for in these last
days we see that these perilous times are come, (of which Paul
advertised Timothy, 2 Tim. iii. 1, &c.) wherein men shall be lovers of
their ownselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to
parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers,
false accusers, (or make bates) incontinent, fierce, despisers of those
that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more
than lovers of God, having the form of godliness, but denying the power
thereof--for of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead
captive silly women, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever
learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. And
because it is so, he exhorteth to give diligence to make your calling
and election sure, by giving all diligence to add to faith virtue, to
virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance
patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly
kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity, for if ye do these things,
ye shall never fall. As the Apostle Peter assureth us, 2 Peter i. 5, 6,
7-10. For it is the elect who are secured from full and final defection
and apostacy, Matth. xxiv. 24. Mark xii. 22. Rom. xi. 5, 6; ix. 11;
viii. 33. Matth. xxiv. 31. Mark xiii. 27. And the promise of salvation
is made to such as shall endure to the end. The crown is for the
overcomers, and such as are faithful to the death, Matth. x. 22; xxiv.
13. Mark xiii. 13. Rev. ii. 10, 11, 17, 26, 27, 28; iii. 5, 12, 21. All
which, and the like, are set down, that hereby his people might be
rationally moved to a constant seriousness, in the working out of their
own salvation, in fear and trembling; and the forewarnings given of the
great difficulty of the reaching the end of our faith, the salvation of
our souls, because of the many active, vigilant, indefatigable, subtile,
and insinuating adversaries, who by good words and fair speeches, will
readily deceive the hearts of the simple, and to awaken the more his
people to be sober and vigilant, because their adversary the devil (who
acteth and moveth his under agents, in their several modes, methods and
motions, so as he may best, according to the various tempers, present
dispositions, advantages or disadvantages of such as he intendeth to
seduce, which he carefully studieth, and plyeth for this end, obtain his
designed end, their ruin and destruction) as a roaring lion, walking
about seeking whom he may devour. And this calleth them to haste out
their slumber and security, who will be loath to miss his opportunity,
surprise them to their great loss and disadvantage.

It is, beloved, high time now to awake, to look about us, to consider
where we are, upon what ground we stand, whether the enemy or we have
the advantage, how and in what posture we are to rencounter with
deceivers that seek to cheat us out of all our souls, and of the Lord
our Righteousness, and draw us off the paths of life, that when we come
to die (beside the unspeakably great loss we would thereby be at, even
here, in missing the comfortable accesses to God through Jesus Christ
the inflowings of grace and strength for spiritual duty through the Lord
our strength; the sweet communications of peace and joy in the Holy
Ghost, the shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts by the Holy
Ghost, which is given unto us, and the full assurance of hope through
the Lord Jesus our hope) we might be frustrated of all our expectations;
and find, that all that which men made us grip to, lay hold on, and lean
unto, instead of Christ, was but a mere shadow, and a lie in our right
hand, to the unexpressible grief, vexation, and sorrow of soul when all
should end in a dreadful and horrible disappointment.

But let us not think that our purposes, firm-like resolutions to adhere
to the truth, and our present abhorrence at, and detestation of errors
now broached, to the overturning the very foundations of true
Christianity, will sufficiently guard us from, and make us proof against
the shots and assaults of these crafty seducers. Nor think, that our
learning and knowledge in the theory of the truth; nor our abilities to
rencounter sophisters, will secure us from a fall; let us not think that
the enemies are contemptible, and therefore we need be the less anxious,
nor yet think that former experiences and through-bearings, in the like
cases, will be a pillow, whereby we may now lay ourselves down to sleep.
If we do, we shall certainly deceive ourselves, if all our strength and
standing be in ourselves, and through ourselves; and if this be the
ground of our hope, the righteous Lord in his holy justice, may give us
up to be a prey. Peter's instance should never be forgotten by us; and
such as tempt the Lord have no ground to expect his last issue.

Our strength must be in Christ: to the rock of ages must we fly: to our
chambers in him must we retire, and there must we hide ourselves: on
Christ's lee-side can we only ride safe, and be free of the hazard of
the storm. To him therefore must our recourse be daily, by new and fresh
acts of faith in and through him and his influences, communicated
according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, through faith eyeing
the promiser, the promise, with the price purchasing, and so drawing and
sucking light, direction, strength, stability, and what our present
exigent calleth for, must we think to stand. And happy they who,
conscious to themselves of their own weakness, and convinced of the
insufficiency of all things within them, in godly fear hide themselves
under the wings of the Almighty, and get in into this stronghold,
resolving there to abide, and there to be secured from all their
adversaries, within or without. These humble fearers may expect a safe
and noble outgate; when more strong-like and more confident adventurers
shall (being left to themselves, because trusting in themselves),
shamefully fall, and be triumphed over by the enemy, to the grief of the
godly, and for a snare to others.

The best way then, to keep the faith of Christ, which many are now
seeking to shake and to loose us from, is to be exercising the faith of
Christ. The serious and upright practising of the gospel is the only
best mean to keep thee firm in the profession of the gospel, when the
gospel with thee is not a few fine notions in the brain; but is heavenly
and necessary truth sunk into the heart, and living and acting there; it
will keep thee, and thou wilt own it more firmly and steadfastly in a
day of trial. Thy walking in Christ, and working and living, by him
living in thee, will so root thee in the gospel truth, that enemies will
pull in vain, when seeking to overthrow thee. The gospel of the grace of
God received and entertained in thy soul in love, and constant suitable
improvement, will fortify thee, and secure itself in thee, so that
vehement blasts shall but contribute to its more fixed abode, and more
fruitful actings in thee. Live up then to the gospel, and so be sure of
it, and be safe in it. I mean, let Christ live in thee as thy all, and
cast all thy care and cumber on him; lay all thy difficulties before
him; lean all thy weight upon him; draw all thy necessities out of him:
and undertake all thy duties in him; be strong in him, and in the power
of his might; let him be thy counsellor, conductor, leader, teacher,
captain, commander, light, life, strength, and all, so shall thou stand
and have cause to glory, even in thine infirmities, for thou shalt find
the power of Christ resting upon thee, and thou shalt have cause to say,
therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities,
in persecution, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak,
then am I strong. Remember that great word, Phil. iv. 13, "I can do all
things through Christ, which strengtheneth me."

It hath been the usual and ordinary question of believers, How shall we
make use of Christ for sanctification? To this great and important
question, I, (though the meanest and most unfit for such a work, of all
that God hath sent to feed his flock) have adventured or endeavoured at
least, to give such as truly desire to cleanse themselves from all
filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of
God, some satisfaction herein, laying before them some plain directions
framed to their capacities, and suited to some of their most ordinary
and usual causes; some whereof are more comprehensive, and others more
particular, may be looked upon as exemplary instances, serving for other
cases of the like nature; for hardly could every particular
circumstantiate case be particularly spoken to, and some might judge
that to be superfluous, if thou, in the light and strength of Christ,
shalt really practise what is here pointed forth, I may be confident to
say, thy labour shall not be in vain in the Lord, and thou shalt attain
unto another sort of holiness than that which proud pretenders boast of,
and shalt be far without the reach of that snare, which unstable souls
are too readily entangled with. I mean, the plausible pretension of more
than ordinary sanctity which yet is but forced, feigned, constrained,
mostly external, and framed to cause admiration in beholders, whom they
intend to make a prey of. This shall be no temptation to thee, who by
experience findeth a more safe, satisfying, full, free, easy, pleasant
and heartsome way of mortifying lusts, growing in grace, and in the
knowledge of Jesus Christ, and so perfecting holiness, by running
immediately to Christ, and by living in and upon him, who is made of God
to us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. That the
Lord may bless the same to thee, for this end, shall be, and is the
desire and prayer of him who is,

Thy servant in the work of the gospel,

JOHN BROWN.



RECOMMENDATION.


CHRISTIAN READER,

If thou answer this designation, and art really a partaker of the
unction, which is the high import of that blessed and glorious name
called upon thee, thine eye must affect thy heart, and a soul swelled
with godly sorrow must at last burst and bleed forth at a weeping eye,
while thou looks upon most of this licentious and loathsome generation,
arrived at that height of prodigious profanity as to glory in their
shame, and boast of bearing the badge and black mark of damnation. But,
besides this swarm who savage it to hell, and make such haste hither, as
they foam themselves into everlasting flames, carrying, under the shape
and visage of men, as devils in disguise; the face of the church is
covered with a scum of such, who are so immersed in the concerns of this
life, and are so intense in the pursuit of the pleasures, gain, and
honours thereof, as their way doth manifestly witness them to be sunk
into the deep oblivion of God, and desperate inconsideration of their
precious and immortal souls. But in the third place, besides these who
are hurried into such a distraction with the cares of this life, that
they, as natural brute beasts made to be destroyed, are never at leisure
to consider either the nature and necessity of their noble souls, or to
converse with the notion of a Deity. Thou may perceive a company of
self-deceiving speculatists, who make broad the phylacteries of their
garments, and boast of some high attainments in religion; yea, would
have others look upon them as arrived at the very porch of heaven, and
advanced to a high pitch of proficiency in the ways of God, because they
can discourse a little of the mysteries of salvation, and without ever
diving farther into the depth and true nature of religion, dream
themselves into a consideration of being saints, and conclude themselves
candidates for glory.

This is that heart-moving object which presents itself to thy eye and
observation this day. This is that deplorable posture, wherein thou
mayest perceive most men at the very point of perishing eternally, who
are within the pale of the visible church, some dancing themselves
headlong in all haste into the lake of fire and brimstone, some so much
concerned in things which have no connexion with their happiness, as to
drop unconcernedly into the pit, out of which there is no redemption;
and others dreaming themselves into endless perdition: and all of them
unite in a deriding at, or despising the means used, and essays made, in
order to their recovery.

But if his servants, in following their work closely, seem to have
gained a little ground upon men, and almost persuaded them to be
Christians, Satan, to the end he may make all miscarry, and counterwork
these workers together with God, and poison poor souls by a perversion
of the gospel, beyond the power of an antidote, hath raised up,
instigated and set on work a race of proud rationalists, for they are
wiser than to class themselves amongst those poor fools, those base
things, those nothings, to whom Christ is made all things, to whom
Christ is made wisdom that he may be righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption to them; nay, they must be wise men after the flesh, wise
above what is written. A crucified Christ is really unto them
foolishness and weakness, though the power of God and the wisdom of God:
they will needs go to work another way; they will needs glory in his
presence, and have a heaven of their own band-wind. O my soul, enter not
into their secrets! and, O sweet Jesus, let thy name be to me, The Lord
my righteousness; thou hast won it,--wear it; and gather not my soul
with such who make mention of any other righteousness but of thine only!
to bring in another gospel amongst us than the gospel of the grace of
God. As they determine to know some other thing than Christ and him
crucified; so with the enticing words of man's wisdom they bewitch men
into a disobedience to the truth, setting somewhat else before them than
a crucified Christ; and this they do, that they may remove men from
those who call them into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. A
Christ, it is true; they speak of; but it is not the Christ of God, for
all they drive at (O cursed and truly antichristian design!) is, that he
may profit them nothing, while they model all religion according to this
novel project of their magnified morality. This is that which gives both
life and lustre to that image which they adore, to the Dagon after whom
they would have the world wonder and worship.

That there is such a moralizing or muddizing, if I may be for once
admitted to coin a new word to give these men their due, of Christianity
now introduced and coming in fashion, many of the late pieces in request
do evince. Now that Christianity should moralize men above all things, I
both give and grant; for he who is partaker of the divine nature, and
hath obtained precious faith, must add virtue to his faith. But that it
should be only conceived and conceited as an elevation of nature to a
more clear light, in the matter of morality, wherein our Lord is only
respected as an heavenly teacher and perfect pattern proposed for
imitation, is but a proud, pleasing fancy of self-conceited, darkened,
and deluded dreamers, robbing God of the glory of his mercy and
goodness; our Lord Jesus Christ of the glory of his grace and merit. The
spirit of the efficacy of his glorious and mighty operations; and
themselves and their pilgrimages, who give them the hand as guides, of
the comfort and fruit of all.

It cannot escape thy observation, how busy Satan is this day, upon the
one hand, to keep men, under the call of the gospel to give all
diligence to make their calling and election sure, idle all the day, so
that no persuasion can induce them to engage seriously to fall about a
working out their own salvation in fear and trembling; and, on the
other, equally diligent and industrious to divert men from trusting in
the name of the Lord, and staying upon their God; setting them on work
to go and gather fuel, and kindle a fire, and compass themselves about
with sparks, that they may walk in the light of their own fire, and in
the sparks that they have kindled, knowing well that they shall this way
most certainly lose their toil and travel, and have no other reward at
his hand of all their labour, but to lie down in everlasting sorrow,
while the stout-hearted and far from righteousness and salvation, shall
get their soul for a prey, and be made to rejoice in his salvation, and
bless him who hath made them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of
the saints in light.

I am neither the fit person for so great an undertaking, nor do these
limits, within which I must bound myself, permit me to expatiate in many
notions about the nature of this excellent and precious thing, true
gospel holiness. Oh! if, in the entry, I could on my own behalf and
others, sob out my alas! from the bottom of my soul, because, be what it
will, it is some other thing than men take it to be. Few habituate
themselves to a thinking upon it, in its high nature, and soul enriching
advantages, till their hearts receive suitable impressions of it, and
their lives be the very transumpt of the law of God written in their
heart; the thing, alas! is lost in a noise of words, and heap of notions
about it; neither is it a wonder that men fall into mistakes about it,
since it is only the heart possessed of it that is capable to understand
and perceive its true excellency. But if it be asked what it is; we say,
it may be shortly taken up, as the elevation and raising up of a poor
mortal unto a conformity with God. As a participation of the divine
nature, or as the very image of God stamped on the soul, impressed on
the thoughts and affections, and expressed in the life and conversation;
so that the man in whom Christ is formed, and in whom he dwells, lives,
and walks, hath while upon the earth, a conversation in heaven; not only
in opposition to those many, whose end is destruction, whose god is
their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things; but
also to those pretenders unto and personaters of religion, who have
confidence in the flesh, and worship God with their own spirit, which
in the matters of God is flesh and not spirit, and have somewhat else to
rejoice in than in Christ Jesus, and a being found in him, not having
their own righteousness.

True gospel holiness, then, consists in some similitude and likeness to
God, and fellowship with him founded upon that likeness. There is such
an impression of God, his glorious attributes, his infinite power,
majesty, mercy, justice, wisdom, holiness, and grace, &c., as sets him
up all alone in the soul without any competition, and produceth those
real apprehensions of him, that he is alone excellent and matchless. O
how preferable doth be appear, when indeed seen, to all things! And how
doth this light of his infinite gloriousness, shining into the soul,
darken and obscure to an invisibleness all other excellencies, even as
the rising of the sun makes all the lesser lights to disappear. Alas!
how is God unknown in his glorious being and attributes! When once the
Lord enters the soul, and shines into the heart, it is like the rising
of the sun at midnight: all these things which formerly pretended to
some loveliness, and did dazzle with their lustre, are eternally
darkened. Now, all natural perfections, and moral virtues, in their
flower and perfections, are at best looked upon as _aliquid nihil_. What
things were formerly accounted gain and godliness, are now counted loss
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord, and the
soul cannot only suffer the loss of them all without a sob, but be
satisfied to throw them away as dung, that it may win him, and be found
in him. Now, the wonder of a Deity, in his greatness, power, and grace,
swallows up the soul in sweet admiration. O how doth it love to lose
itself in finding here what it cannot fathom? And then it begins truly
to see the greatness and evil of sin; then it is looked upon without the
covering of pleasure or profit, and loathed as the leprosy of hell. Now
the man is truly like God in the knowledge of good and evil, in the
knowledge of that one infinite good, God; and in the knowledge of that
one almost infinite evil, sin. This is the first point of likeness to
him, to be conformed to him in our understanding, that as he knows
himself to be the only self-being and fountain-good, and all created
things in their flower and perfection, with all their real or fancied
conveniences being compared with him, but as the drop of a bucket, or
nothing; yea, less than nothing, vanity (which is nothing blown up, by
the force or forgery of a vainly working imagination, to the consistence
of an appearance), so for a soul to know indeed and believe in the
heart, that there is nothing deserves the name of good besides God, to
have the same superlative and transcendent thoughts of that great and
glorious self-being God, and the same diminishing and debasing thoughts
of all things and beings besides him. And that as the Lord seeth no evil
in the creation but sin, and hates that with a perfect hatred, as
contrary to his holy will; so for a soul to aggravate sin in its own
sight to an infiniteness of evil, at least till it see it only short of
infiniteness in this respect, that it can be swallowed up of infinite
mercy. But whence hath the soul all this light? It owes all this, and
owns itself as debtor for it to him, who opens the eyes of the blind. It
is he who commands the light to shine out of darkness, who hath made
these blessed discoveries, and hath given the poor benighted soul, the
light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.
These irradiations are from the Spirit's illumination; 'tis the Spirit
of wisdom and revelation that hath made day-light in the darkened soul.
The man who had the heart of a beast, as to any saving or solid
knowledge of God or himself, hath now got an understanding to know him
that is true. Now is Christ become the poor man's wisdom, he is now
renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him; he might
well babble of spiritual things, but till now he understood nothing of
the beauty and excellency of God and his ways; nay, he knew not what he
knew, he was ignorant as a beast of the life and lustre of those things
which he knew in the letter; nothing seemed more despicable to him in
the world, than true godliness; but now he judgeth otherwise, because he
hath the mind of Christ. The things which in his darkness he did
undervalue as trifles to be mocked at, he now can only mind and admire,
since he became a child of light; now being delivered from that
blindness and brutishness of spirit, which possesseth the world, (and
possessed himself till he was transformed by the renewing of his mind)
who esteem basely of spiritual things, and set them at nought, he
prizeth as alone precious. The world wonders what pleasure or content
can be in the service of God, because they see not by tasting how good
he is; to be prying into and poring upon invisible things, is to them
visible madness, but to the enlightened mind, the things that are not
seen are only worth seeing, and while they appear not to be, they only
are; whereas the things that are seen appear but to be, and are not.
Though the surpassing sweetness of spiritual things should be spoke of
to them, who cannot favour the things of God, in such a manner as the
glorious light of them did surround men; yet they can perceive no such
thing; all is to them cunningly devised fables; let be spoke what will,
they see no form, no comeliness, no beauty in this glorious object--God
in Christ reconciling sinners to himself. Alas! the mind is blinded; the
dungeon is within; and till Christ open the eyes, as well as reveal his
light, the soul abides in its blindness, and is buried in midnight
darkness; but when the Spirit of God opens the man's eyes, and he is
translated by an act of omnipotency out of the kingdom of darkness into
the kingdom of his dear Son, which is a kingdom of marvellous light, O
what matchless beauty doth he now see in these things, which appeared
despicable and dark nothings to him, till he got the unction, the
eye-salve, which teacheth all things. Now he sees (what none without the
Spirit can see) the things which God hath prepared for them that love
him, and are freely given them of God; and these, though seen at a
distance, reflect such rays of beauty into his soul, that he beholds and
is ravished, he sees and is swallowed up in wonder.

But then, in the next place, this is not a spiritless inefficacious
speculation about these things, to know no evil but sin and separation
from God, and no blessedness but in the fruition of him; it is not such
a knowledge of them as doth not principle motion to pursue after them.
This I grant is part of the image of God, when the Sun of Righteousness,
by arising upon the man, hath made day-light in his soul, and by these
divine discoveries hath taught him to make the true parallel betwixt
things that differ, and to put a just value upon them according to their
intrinsic worth. But this divine illumination doth not consist in a mere
notion of such things in the head, nor doth it subsist in enlightening
the mind; but in such an impression of God upon the soul, as transforms
and changes the heart into his likeness by love.' Knowledge is but one
line, one draught or lineament of the soul's likeness to him; that alone
doth not make up the image, but knowledge rooted in the heart, and
engraven on the soul, hining and shewing itself forth in a
gospel-adorning conversation, that makes a comely proportion; when the
same hand that touched the eye, and turned the man from darkness to
light, and gave an heart to know him, that he is the Lord, that doth
also circumcise the man's heart to love the Lord his God, with all his
heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind; and this love
manifesting its liveliness, in its constraining power to live to him and
for him. Light without, heat is but wild fire; but light in the mind,
begetting heat in the heart, making it burn Godward, Christward, and
heavenward; light in the understanding, setting on fire and inflaming
the affections, and these shining out in a heavenly conversation, makes
up the lively image of God, both in feature and stature, both in
proportion and colour. Faith begins this image, and draws the
lineaments; and love bringing forth obedience finishes, and gives it the
lively lustre. The burnings of love in obedience to God is that which
illuminates the whole, and makes a man look indeed like him, to whose
image he is predestinate to be conform, and then makes him, who is
ravished with the charms of that beauty, say, as in a manner overcome
thereby, "how fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse? How much better is
thy love than wine, and the smell of thine ointments than all spices?"
But consider, that as these beams, which irradiate the soul, are from
the Spirit of Christ, so that spiritual heat and warmth come out of the
same airth, and proceed from the same author, for our fire burns as he
blows, our lamp shines as he snuffs and furnisheth oil. Men therefore
should not indulge themselves in this delusion, to think, that that
which will pass for pure religion and undefiled before God, consists
either in an outward blameless conversation, or in putting on and
wearing an external garb of profession. No, as the top of it reacheth
higher, so the root of it lies deeper; it is rooted in the heart, this
seed being sown in an honest heart (or making the heart honest in which
it is sown) takes root downward, and brings forth fruit upward, as trees
that grow as far under ground as above, so these trees of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified, grow as far and as
fast under ground as above; godliness grows as far downwards in
self-emptying, self-denial, and self-abasing, in hungering and thirsting
after more of righteousness, in the secret engagements of the heart to
God in Christ, in these burstings of heart and bleeding of soul, to
which God alone is witness, because of shortcoming in holiness, because
of a body of death within, and because of that law in the members
warring against the law of the mind, and bringing often into captivity
to the law of sin, as it grows upward in a profession. And this is that
pure religion and undefiled before God, which is both most pleasant to
him, and profitable to the soul.

But to make the difference betwixt dead morality, in its best dress, and
true godliness, more clear and obvious, that loveliness of the one may
engage men into a loathing of the other, this dead carion and stinking
carcase of rotten morality, which still stinks in the nostrils of God,
even when embalmed with the most costly ointments of its miserably
misled patrons, we say, that true godliness, which in quality and kind
differs from this much pleaded for and applauded morality, a black
heathen by a mongrel kind of Christians baptised of late with the name
of Christianity, and brought into the temple of the Lord, concerning
which he hath commanded that it should never in that shape, and for that
end it is introduced, enter into his congregation; and the bringers for
their pains are like to seclude themselves for ever from his presence.
It respects Jesus Christ, 1st, as its principle; 2d, as its pattern; 3d,
as its altar; and, 4th, as its end.

1. I say, true holiness, in its being and operation, respects Jesus
Christ as its principle; "I live," said that shining saint, "yet not I,
but Christ liveth in me." As that which gives religion its first being,
is the religation of the soul to God; so that which gives it motion, and
draws forth that life into action, is the same God's working all their
works in them and for them, so that in all they do, they are workers
together with God; every act of holiness is an act of the soul made
alive unto God through Jesus Christ, and quickened to each action by the
supervenience of new life and influence; therefore, says Christ, without
me ye can do nothing; it is not, being out of me ye can do nothing, for
he spoke it to those who were in him, but, if ye leave me out in doing,
all ye do will be nothing. 'Tis Jesus Christ who gives life and legs, so
that our runnings are according to his drawings. "My soul followeth
hard after thee," said that holy man; but whence is all this life and
vigour? "Thy right hand upholdeth me," Oh! it is the upholdings and
helpings of this right hand, enlarging the man's heart, that makes a
running in the ways of his commandments; it is he who, while the saints
work out the work of their own salvation, worketh in them both to will
and to do. It is he who giveth power to the faint, and who, to them that
have no might, encreaseth strength, so that the poor lifeless,
languishing lie-by is made to mount up with eagles' wings, and surmount
all these difficulties, with a holy facility, which were simply
insuperable, and pure impossibilities. Now the man runs and doth not
weary, because Christ draws; and he walks and doth not faint, because
Christ, in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily, dwells in him,
and walks in him, and dwells in him for that very end, that he may have
a completeness and competency of strength for duty. All grace is made to
abound unto him, that he always having all sufficiency in all things,
may abound unto every good work. He is able of himself to do nothing,
no, not to think any thing as he ought, but he hath a sufficiency of
God, whereby he is thoroughly furnished unto every good work; so that he
may say, I am able for all things: it is more than "I am able to do all
things," as we read it; its just import is, "I am able to do all things,
and to endure all things;" and that which keeps it from vain boasting,
is what is added, "through Christ which strengthened me," or putting
power in me, or rather impowering me, which is by a supervenient act
drawing forth life into a liveliness of exercise, according to the
present exigent. There is a power in a saint, because Christ is in him,
that overpowers all the powers of darkness without, and all the power of
indwelling corruption within, so that when the poor weak creature is
ready to despond; within sight of his duty, and say, because of
difficulty, what is my strength that I should hope? Christ saith,
despond not, my grace is sufficient for thee, and my power shall rest
upon thee, to a reviving thee, and raising thee up, and putting thee in
case to say, when I am weak, then I am strong; his strength, who
impowers me, is made perfect in my weakness, so that I will glory in my
infirmities, and be glad in being grace's debtor. But what power is
that, which raiseth the dead sinner, and carries the soul in its actings
so far without the line, and above the sphere of all natural activity,
when stretched to its utmost? O, it is an exceeding great power which is
to them-ward who believe, that must make all things, how difficult
soever, easy, when he works in them to will and to do, according to the
working of his mighty power, (or as it is upon the margin, and more
emphatic, of the might of his power,) which he wrought in Christ, when
he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, &c.; he
that raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead, raiseth up believers also
by Jesus; and being raised and revived by him, to walk in newness of
life, the life of Jesus, in its communications of strength, is manifest
in their mortal flesh, according to that of the same apostle; "the life
that I live in the flesh," saith he, "I live by the faith of the Son of
God." Faith brings in Christ in my soul, and Christ being my life,
carries out my soul in all the acts of obedience, wherein, though I be
the formal agent, yet the efficiency and the power, by which I operate,
is from him; so that I can give no better account of it than
this,--I--not I. But who then, if not you? The grace of God, saith he,
which was with me. But this mystery to our bold, because blind
moralists, of an indwelling Christ working mightily in the soul, is
plain madness and melancholy; however we understand his knowledge in the
mystery of Christ, who said, "The life I live in the flesh," &c.; and
from what we understand of his knowledge in that mystery, which he had
by revelation, we understand our moralists to be men of corrupt minds,
who concerning the faith hath made shipwreck; but what is that, "The
life I live in the flesh," &c. The import of it seems to be this, if not
more,--while I have in me a soul animating my body, as the principle of
all my vital and natural actions, I have Jesus Christ animating my soul,
and by the impulse and communicate virtue and strength of an indwelling
Christ, I am made to run the ways of his commandments, wherein I take so
great delight, that I am found of no duty as of my enemy.

2. The gospel holiness respects Jesus Christ as its pattern. It
proposeth no lower pattern for imitation than to be conform to his
image, (he that is begotten again into a lively hope, by the
resurrection of Christ from the dead, girds up the loins of his mind,
which are the affections of his soul, lest by falling flat upon the
earth, he be hindered in running the race set before him, as looking to
the forerunner his pattern,) in this girdle of hope, that he may be
"holy in all manner of conversation," keeping his eye upon the precept
and pattern, that his practice may be conform. It is written, saith he,
"be ye holy, for I am holy;" the hope of seeing God, and being ever with
him, imposeth a necessity upon him who hath it, to look no lower than at
him, who is glorious in holiness; and therefore he is said to purify
himself even as he is pure; and knowing that this is the end of their
being quickened together with Christ, that they may walk even as he
walked, they in their working and walking aim at no less than to be like
him; and therefore never sit down upon any attained measure, as if they
were already perfect. The spotless purity of God expressed in his laws,
is that whereto they study assimilation; therefore they are still in
motion towards this mark, and are changed from one of glorious grace
into another, into the same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,
who never gives over his putting them to cleanse from all filthiness of
the flesh and of the spirit, till that be true in the truest sense,
"Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." And knowing that
perfect fruition of him cannot be without the perfect conformity to him,
herein do they exercise themselves to grow in grace, and to be still
advancing towards some more likeness to his image, forgetting all their
attainments, as things that are behind, and by their Teachings forth
unto that which is before, make it evident that they make every begun
degree of grace and conformity to God, a prevenient capacity for a new
degree which yet they have not attained. I know our moralists look upon
themselves as matchless, in talking of following his steps as he hath
left us an example; in this they make a flourishing with flanting
effrontery, but for all their boasting of wisdom, such a poor simple man
as I, am made to wonder at their folly, who proposing, as they say, the
purity of Christ as their pattern, are not even thence convinced, that
in order to a conformity thereto, there is a simple and absolute
necessity of the mighty operations of that Spirit of God, whereby this
end can be reached; but while they flout at the Spirit's working as a
melancholy fancy, whereby the soul is garnished with the beauty of
holiness, and made an habitation for God, I doubt not to say of these
great sayers, that they understand neither what they say, nor whereof
they affirm; nay, doth not the talking of the one, not only without
seeing the necessity of the other, but speaking against it, say in the
heart of every one, who hath not the heart of a beast, that they have
never yet got a sight of the holiness of that pattern, nor of their own
pollutions and impotency; for if they had, they would give themselves up
to Jesus Christ to be washed by him, without which they can have no part
with him. O there will be a vast difference, at the latter day, betwixt
them who have given their black souls to Jesus to bleach, when he shall
present them without spot, not only clothed with wrought gold, but all
glorious within, and those who have never dipped, yea, who have despised
to dip their defiled souls in any other fountain, save in the impure
puddle of their own performances. This will make them loathsome in his
sight, and cause his soul abhor those who have done this despite unto
the Spirit of grace, as to slight that blessed fountain, opened for sin
and for uncleanness, let them pretend as high as they will, to look to
him as a pattern; while, because the plague-sore is gone up in their
eye, they look not to him as a price, nor to the grace of Jesus Christ,
as that which can only principle any acceptable performance of duty, he
will plunge them in the ditch, and it will cost them their souls, for
rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, in not making use of
him who came by water as well as by blood.

3. This gospel holiness respects Christ as the altar. It is in him, and
for him, that his soul is well pleased with our performance--this is the
altar upon which thou must lay thy gift, and leave it, without which thy
labour is lost, and whatsoever thou dost is loathed, as a corrupt thing.
As believers draw all their strength from him, so they expect acceptance
only through him, and for him. They do not look for it, but in the
Beloved; they dare not draw near to God in duty, but by him. This is
the new and living way which is consecrate for them; and if such, who
offer to come to God, do not enter in hereat, instead of being admitted
to a familiar converse with God, they shall find him a consuming fire.
When the saints have greatest liberty in prayer, and so of all other
performances, when their hearts are most lifted up in the ways of the
Lord, they abhor at thinking their prayer can any otherways be set forth
before him as incense, or the lifting up of their hands as the evening
sacrifice, but as presented by the great intercessor, and perfumed by
the merit of his oblation. If they could weep out the marrow of their
bones, and the moisture of their body, in mourning over sin; yet they
durst not think of having what comes from so impure a spring, and runs
through so polluted a channel, presented to God, but by Jesus Christ, in
order to acceptation; for, as they look to the exalted Saviour, to get
their repentance from him, so when by the pourings out upon them of the
spirit of grace and supplication, he hath made them pour out their
hearts before him, and hath melted them into true tenderness, so that
their mourning is a great mourning, they carry back these tears to be
washen and bathed in his blood, as knowing without this of how little
worth and value with God their salt water is; but when they are thus
washed he puts them in his bottle, and then pours them out again to them
in the wine of strong consolation. Thus are they made glad in his house
of prayer, and their sighs and groans come up with acceptance upon his
altar. O blessed altar, that sanctifies the gold! this is that altar,
whereto the mocking moralist hath no right. It is by him that the poor
believer offers up his sacrifice to God continually; whatever he doth in
word or deed, he desires to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. As he
knows, he lives to make intercession, and to appear in the presence of
God for his poor people, both to procure influences for duty, and plead
for acceptation: so he depends upon him for both, as knowing he can
never otherways hear nor have it said unto him, "well done thou good and
faithful servant." It may be he can do little, he hath but a mite to
offer; but he puts it in the Mediator's hand to be presented to God. He
hath not gold, nor silver, nor purple to bring; he can do no great
things; he hath but goats' hair or rams' skins, but he gives them the
right tincture, he makes them red in the blood of Christ, and so they
are a beautiful incarnation.

But let us, on the other hand, take a short view of what our moralists
substitute in its place, as in their account, both more beautiful in the
eye, and more beneficial to the souls of men, wherein I intend to be
brief. I might comprehend the account to be given shortly, and give it
most exactly, yet truly in these few words. As the most undoubted
deviation from, and perfect opposition unto the whole contrivance of
salvation, and the conveyance of it into the souls of men, as revealed
in this gospel which brings life and immortality to light, that
fighters against the grace of God in its value and virtue can forge,
stretching their blind reason to the overthrow of true religion, and
ruin of the souls of men. For to this height these masters of reason
have, in their blind rage, risen up against the Lord and against his
anointed; this is the dreadful period of that path, wherein we are
persuaded to walk, yea hectored, if we would not forfeit the repute of
men by these grand sophies, who arrogate to themselves the name and
thing of knowledge, as if wisdom were to die with them. The deep
mysteries of salvation, which angels desire to look into, and only
satisfy themselves with admiration at, must appear as respondents at
their bar; and if they decline the judge and court, as incompetent, they
flee out and flout at subjecting this blind mole, man's reason, to the
revelation of faith in a mystery. The manifold wisdom of God, and the
manifold grace of God, must either condescend to their unfoldings, and
be content to speak in their dialect, or else these wits, these Athenian
dictators, will give the deep things of God, because beyond their
divings, the same entertainment which that great gospel preacher, Paul,
met with from men of the same mould, kidney, and complexion, because he
preached unto them Jesus, What would the babbler say, said they. The
Spirit of wisdom and revelation they know not, they have not, they
acknowledge not; nay, they despise him in his saving and
soul-ascertaining illuminations; and the workings of that mighty power
to them-ward who believe, is to the men of this new mould (because they
have not found it) an insufferable fancy, to be exploded with a disdain
and indignation, which discovers what spirit actuates them in this
opposition.

But I would recommend to you, who can neither purchase nor peruse what
is more voluminous (how worthy soever) the serious perusal, as of the
whole of that savoury and grace-breathing peace, the fulfilling of the
Scriptures; so therein that short but sweet digression, against
black-mouthed Parker, wherein the gracious author takes out his own
soul, and sets before thine eye, the image of God impressed thereon; for
while he deals with that desperado by clear and convincing reason,
flowing natively from the pure fountain of divine revelation, he hath
the advantage of most men, and writers too, in silencing that proud
blasphemer of the good ways of God, with arguments taken from what he
hath found acted upon his own soul. And likewise I would recommend, as a
sovereign antidote against this poison, the diligent perusing and
pondering of what is shortly hinted against the hellish belchings of the
same unhallowed author (in the Preface to that piece of great Mr.
Durham, upon the Commands) by a disciple, who, besides his natural
acuteness and sub-actness of judgment in the depth of the gospel
mysteries, is known, by all who know him (and for myself, I know none
now alive his equal) to have most frequent access to lean his head on
his Master's bosom, and so in best case to tell his fellow-disciples
and brethren, what is breathed into his own soul, while he lives in
these embraces, and under the sheddings abroad of that love of God in
his soul, which drew and did dictate these lines, against that flouter
at all such fruitions. Nor can I here omit to observe, how, when the
devil raised up Parker, that monster, to bark and blaspheme, the Lord
raised up a Merveil to fight him at his own weapon, who did so cudgel
and quell that boasting bravo, as I know not if he be dead of his wound,
but for any thing I know, he hath laid his speech.

It was not the author's design in this piece, (levelled only at this
mark, to teach thee how to make use of the strength and grace that is in
Christ Jesus, and find the promised ease in performance of duties; in
handling of which argument, he hath been remarkably assisted, and thou
canst not read with attention, but thou must bear him witness, and bless
the Lord on his behalf, that he hath hit the mark at which he aimed) to
engage in a formal debate with these audacious moralists, who would
boast and bogle us out of the good old way, wherein, if men walk, they
must find rest to their souls. Yet if by the doctrine he hath here
explained and pressed, as the only way of life, they do not find what a
mortal wound he hath given their morality, all the lovers of the truth
will see it; and it may be, the Lord sparing life, and continuing the
same gracious and great assistance, he hath had in engaging with many
and great adversaries to the truth at home and abroad, they may see
somewhat from his pen, which may make the lovers of our Lord Jesus
Christ in sincerity, and of the operations of his Spirit, sing over
these successors to Sisera, who with their jumping chariots and rattling
wheels, assault the truth, at his feet they bowed, they fell, they lay
down at his feet, they bowed, they fell where they bowed, there they
fell down dead; so let all the enemies of thy truth perish, O Lord! How
to make the whole more useful for thee, for whose advantage 'tis mainly
intended, I leave to the author's own direction; only this I must say,
his method and mould, wherein he casts his sweet matter, and his way of
handling this so seasonable a subject, is so accommodate to each case,
and brought home to the conscience, and down to the capacity of the
meanest Christian, which was his aim, that the feeble, in this day,
might be as David; that howbeit many worthy men have not only hinted,
but enlarged upon the same matter, yet thou canst not but see some
heart-endearing singularity in his way of improving and handling this
great gospel truth. Next, I must tell thee, that as I myself read it
with much satisfaction (though, alas! I dare not say, I have by reading
reaped the designed advantage), so that thou mayest be blushed into a
perusal thereof, and profiting thereby, I must likewise tell thee, I
say, it hath been turned into Dutch, and that it hath not only met with
great acceptation amongst all the serious and godly in these parts, who
have seen it, but is much sought after; and they profess themselves
singularly thereby edified, and set a-going after God, by its
efficacious persuasiveness, with a singing alacrity; and if it have not
the same effect upon thee and me, they and it will arise up against us
in judgment.

Up, therefore, Christians, and be doing: Listen to such a teacher, who,
lest thou tire in thy race, or turn back, teacheth thee a certain and
sweet way of singular proficiency and progress in the ways of God. It
may be, it is not thy work, nor mine, to write both against these
soul-murdering, however magnified, methods of taking men off Jesus
Christ; but our penury of parts for that, should first put us to seek
plenty of tears, that we may weep, to see our master so wounded by the
piercing pens of those who, to patronise their mock religion, wrest the
Scriptures, and with wicked hands wring the word of the Lord, till it
weep blood: this, I say, should provoke thee and me to weep upon him,
till he appear, and beat the pens of such deceivers out of their hand by
a blow of his; 2d, It should provoke us to know the truth, that we may
contend earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints, and to have
these contradicted truths so impressed in their life upon our souls,
that the pen of the most subtle pleader for this perversion of the
gospel may neither delete these, nor be able to stagger us, but we may,
from the efficacious working of these, have the witness in ourselves,
and know the men who teach otherways not to be of God; 3d, It should be
our ambition, when the all of religion is cried down, and a painted
shadow, a putrid, however perfumed, nothing put in its place, to make it
appear, by our practice, that religion is an elevation of the soul above
the sphere and activity of dead morality; and that it is no less or
lower principle that acts us, than Christ dwelling in us, and walking in
us. How can the love of God, and of Christ, and of the Spirit be in us,
if these perverse praters against the power of godliness, provoke us not
to emit a practical declaration to the world, and extort a testimony to
his grace by our way, from the enemies thereof? Improve, therefore, this
his special help to that purpose, which in a most seasonable time is
brought to thy hand.

But to sum up all shortly, there are but three things which make
religion an heavy burden; 1st, The blindness of the mind; and here thou
art taught to make use of that eye-salve, whereby the eyes of the blind
see out of obscurity, and out of darkness; he who formerly erred in
spirit, by the light held forth in these lines, may see a surpassing
beauty in the ways of God; 2d, That aversion and unwillingness which is
in the mind, whereby the sweet and easy yoke of his commands is spurned
at as heavy; in order to the removing thereof, and that thou mayest be
among his willing people, here thou hast Christ held forth in his
conquering beauty, displaying his banner of love over souls, so that
thou canst not look upon him as held forth, but faith will bow thy neck
to take on his yoke, because it sees it is lined with the love of
Christ, and then this love that lines the yoke, shed abroad in the
heart, will constrain to a bearing of it; but, 3d, When the spirit is
willing, there remains yet much weakness; love kindled in the heart
conquers the mind into a compliance with his will, and a complacency in
his commands, but its greatest strength is often to weep over a withered
hand. Now that thy hands which fall down may be made strong for labour,
and thou mayest be girded with strength, and have grace for grace, yea,
all grace to make thee abound unto every good word and work, the author
leads thee up unto the full fountain of all gospel furniture, and
strength; and teacheth thee how to make use of Christ, as thy
sufficiency, for working all thy works in thee and for thee. I say,
therefore, again unto thee, take heart, let not thine hands fall down,
essay nothing thou would have well done or easily done, in thine own
strength; but yet how difficult soever the duty be, approach it as
having no confidence in the flesh, but with an eye to thy stock, that
rich store-house of all furniture, and it shall be with thee as it was
with the priests, before whom Jordan recoiled, so soon as their foot
entered within the brink; God shall make thy difficulties evanish; and
by the illapses of the Spirit of power and might from Jesus Christ
depended upon, shall so strengthen thee, that thy duty is made easy to
admiration, and becomes the delight of thy soul. Pray for the
continuance of the life of the author, who, by his assiduous working for
Christ, hath been often near unto death, not regarding his own life, to
supply the lack of other men's service, to the interest and Church of
God; and let him be comforted for this piece of travel undertaken for
thy soul's interest, by hearing thou dost improve it to thy advantage,
for which it is so exactly calculate: And with all I beg thy fervent and
earnest intercessions for grace, and more grace, to him who is thy poor,
yet soul's well-wisher and servant, for Christ's sake,

R. M. W.



CHRIST

THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.


JOHN XIV. 6--JESUS SAITH UNTO THEM, I AM THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH, AND THE
LIFE; NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.



CHAPTER I.

THE INTRODUCTION, WITH SOME GENERAL OBSERVATIONS FROM THE COHESION.


Doubtless it is always useful, yea, necessary, for the children of God
to know the right way of making use of Christ, who is made all things to
them which they need, even "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption," 1 Cor. i. 30. But it is never more necessary for believers
to be clear and distinct in this matter, than when Satan, by all means,
is seeking to pervert the right ways of the Lord, and, one way or other,
to lead souls away, and draw them off Christ; knowing that, if he
prevail here, he hath gained his point. And therefore he endeavoureth
not only to darken it by error, either more gross or more subtle, but
also to darken it by mistakes and prejudices: whence it cometh to pass,
that not only strangers are made to wander out of the way, but
oftentimes many of his own people are walking in darkness of ignorance
and mistakes, and remain lean through want of the real exercise of the
life of faith, which would make them fat and flourishing; because it
would make them "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and
to grow up in Christ in all things."

The clearing up then of this truth cannot but be most seasonable now,
when Satan is prevailing with many, whom he cannot get tempted to
looseness and profanity, to sit down upon something which is not Christ,
and to rest upon something with themselves, distinct from him, both in
the matter of justification and sanctification. This subtle adversary is
now setting some a-work, to cry up, by preaching, speaking, and
printing, a way to heaven which is not Christ; a kind of morality,
civility, and outward holiness, whereupon the soul is to rest. And this
holiness, not wrought and effectuated through the strength of Jesus, by
faith sucking life and furniture from him; but through our own art and
skill, which in effect is nothing but an extract of refined Popery,
Socinianism, and Arminianism, devised and broached of purpose to draw
the soul off Christ, that he may stand upon his own legs, and walk by
his own power, and thank himself, at least in part, for the crown at
length.

Further, through the great goodness of God, the true way of a soul's
justification is admirably cleared up; and many are, at least
theoretically, acquainted therewith; and many also practically, to the
quieting of their wakened consciences, and stopping the mouth of their
accusers, and obtaining of peace, joy, and the lively hope of the
everlasting crown; yet many gracious souls profess their
unacquaintedness with the solid and thriving way of use-making of Christ
for growth in grace and true sanctification. Therefore some discovery of
the truth here cannot but be useful, seasonable, yea, and acceptable
unto them. If he, who is the Truth, would give grace to understand, and
to unfold this so necessary and always advantageous a truth, and would
help to write of and explain this truth by faith in him who is here said
to be the Truth, then should we have cause to bless and magnify his
name. But if he, because of sin, shall hide himself, and not let out
these beams of light, whereby we might discover light, we shall but
darken counsel with words without our knowledge, and leave the matter as
unclear as ever. Therefore is it necessary, there be both in him that
writeth, and in such as read, a single dependence on him, who "is for a
leader," Isa. lv. 5, and hath promised to "bring the blind by a way
which they know not, and to lead them in paths they had not known, and
to make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight," Isa.
xlii. 16, that thus by acting faith on him we may find, in so far, the
truth of this verified, viz. that he is the Way, the Truth, and the
Life. Now, for clearing up of this matter, we would know, that our Lord
Jesus, from the beginning of this chapter, is laying down some grounds
of consolation, sufficient to comfort his disciples against the sad news
of his departure and death; and to encourage them against the fears they
had of much evil to befall them when their Lord and Master should be
taken from them; which is a sufficient proof of the tender heart of
Jesus, who alloweth all his followers strong consolation against all
fears, hazards, troubles, and perplexities which they can meet with in
their way. He will not leave them comfortless, and therefore he layeth
down strong grounds of consolation to support their drooping and
fainting hearts; as loving to see his followers always rejoicing in the
Lord, and singing in the ways of Zion: that the world may see and be
convinced of a reality in Christianity, and of the preferableness of
that life, notwithstanding of all the troubles that attend it, unto any
other, how sweet and desirable soever it may appear to flesh and blood.

In prosecution of which design, he told them, verse 4, that they "knew
whether he went," and the way also which he was to take, and by which he
was to bring them to the Father, to the mansion spoken of, and so to
life eternal. But Thomas rashly and incredulously (as too usually he
did, chap. xi. 16; xx. 25,) venteth himself, and little less than
contradicteth his Master, saying, verse 5, "We know not whither thou
goest, and how can we know the way?" wherein we have an emblem of many a
believer, who may have more grace and knowledge of God and of Christ
than they will be able to see, or acknowledge that they have; what
through temptations, inward distempers, sense of their many defects, and
great ignorance, strong desires of high measures, clearer discoveries of
the vastness of the object, mistakes about the true nature of grace,
despising the day of small things, and indistinctness as to the actings
of grace, or want of understanding and right uptaking of grace in its
various outgoings and actings under various notions, and the like.

Whereupon Christ, after his usual manner, taketh occasion to clear up
that ground of consolation further unto them; and to let them see the
true way of coming to the Father, that thereby they might be helped to
see that they were not such strangers unto the way as they supposed; and
withal, he amplifieth and layeth out the properties and excellencies of
this way, as being the only true and living way; and that in such a
manner, as they might both see the way to be perfect, full, safe,
saving, and satisfying; and also learn their duty of improving this way
always, and in all things, until they come home at length to the Father,
saying, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto
the Father but by me."

Christ then saying, that he not only is the way to the Father, even the
true way, but that he is so the true way, as that he is also truth
itself in the abstract, and so the living way, that he is life itself in
the abstract, giveth us ground to consider, after what manner it is that
he is the Truth and the Life, as well as the Way; and that for clearing
up and discovering of his being an absolutely perfect, transcendently
excellent, incomparably preferable and fully satisfying way, useful to
believers in all cases, all exigents, all distresses, all difficulties,
all trials, all temptations, all doubts, all perplexities, and in all
causes or occasions of distempers, fears, faintings, discouragements,
&c. which they may meet with in their way to heaven. And this will lead
us to clear up the duty of believers, on the other hand, and to show how
they should, in all their various cases and difficulties, make use of
Christ as the only all-sufficient way to the Father, and as truth and
life in the way, and so we will be led to speak of Christ's being to
his people all that is requisite for them here in the way, whether for
justification or sanctification; and how people are to make use of him
as being all, or, as being made of "God to us wisdom, righteousness,
sanctification, and redemption," 1 Cor. i. 30.

Ere we come to the words in particular, we would look upon them as
having relation to Thomas his words in the preceding verse, wherein he
did little less than contradict what Christ had said in the 4th verse,
and learn several very comfortable points of doctrine, as,

I. That Jesus Christ is very tender of his followers, and will not cast
them off, nor upbraid them for every escape whereby they may provoke him
to anger and grieve his Spirit; but gently passeth by many of their
failings, when he findeth they are not obstinate in their mistake, nor
perverse in their way. For how gently and meekly doth he here pass over
Thomas his unhandsome expression, finding that Thomas spake here, not
out of obstinacy and pertinaciousness, but out of ignorance and a
mistake. And the reason is, because, 1. Christ knoweth our infirmity and
weakness, and is of a tender heart, and therefore will not "break the
bruised reed," Isa. xlii. Well knoweth he that rough and untender
handling would crush us, and break us all in pieces. And, 2. He is full
of bowels of mercy, and can "have compassion on them that are out of the
way, and can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," Heb. iv.
15. v. 2.

Which truth, as upon the one hand, it should encourage all to choose him
for their leader, and give up themselves unto him, who is so tender of
his followers; so, upon the other hand, it should rebuke such as are
ready to entertain evil and hard thoughts of him, as if he were an hard
master, and ill to be followed, and put all from entertaining the least
thought of his untenderness and want of compassion. But, moreover,

II. We see, that weaknesses and corruptions breaking out in believers,
when they are honestly and ingenuously laid open before the Lord, will
not fear him away, but rather engage him the more to help and succour.
Much of Thomas his weakness and corruption appeared in what he said; yet
the same being honestly and ingenuously laid open to Christ, not out of
a spirit of contradiction, but out of a desire to learn, Christ is so
far from thrusting him away, that he rather condescendeth the more, out
of love and tenderness, to instruct him better, and clear the way more
fully. And that, because, 1. He knoweth our mould and fashion, how
feckless and frail we are, and that if he should deal with us according
to our folly, we should quickly be destroyed. 2. He is not as a man,
hasty, rash, proud; but gentle, loving, tender, and full of compassion.
3. It is his office and proper work to be an instructor to the ignorant,
and a helper of our infirmities and weaknesses, a physician to bind up
and cure our sores and wounds.

Who would not then willingly give up themselves to such a teacher that
will not thrust them to the door, nor give them up to themselves always,
when their corruptions would provoke him thereunto? And what a madness
is this in many, to stand a-back from Christ, because of their
infirmities; and to scar at him, because of their weakness, when the
more corruption we find the more we should run to him? and it is soon
enough to depart from Christ when he thrusts us away, and saith, he will
have no more to do with us; yea, he will allow us to stay after we are
thrice thrust away. Only, let us take heed that we approve not ourselves
in our evils, that we hide them not as unwilling to part with them, that
we obstinately maintain them not, nor ourselves in them; but that we lie
open before him, and deal with him, with honesty, ingenuousness, and
plainness.

III. We see, further, That ignorance ingenuously acknowledged and laid
open before Christ, puts the soul in a fair way to get more instruction.
Thomas having candidly, according as he thought, in the simplicity of
his heart, professed his ignorance, is in a fair way now to get
instruction. For this is Christ's work, to instruct the ignorant, to
open the eyes of the blind.

Why then are we so foolish as to conceal our ignorance from him, and to
hide our case and condition from him; and why doth not this commend
Christ's school to us so much the more? why do we not carry as ingenious
scholars, really desirous to learn? But,

IV. We may learn, That our ill condition and distempers put into
Christ's hand will have remarkable out-gates, and an advantageous issue;
seeing Christ taketh occasion here from Thomas his laying open his
condition, not without some mixture of corruption, to clear up the truth
more fully and plainly than it was before; for hereby, 1. Christ giveth
an open declaration of the glory of his power, mercy, goodness, wisdom,
&c. 2. He hath occasion to give a proof of his divine art and glorious
skill of healing diseased souls, and of making broken bones stronger
than ever they were. 3. Thus he effectually accomplished his noble
designs, and perfecteth his work, in a way tending to abase man, by
discovering his infirmities and failings; and to glorify himself in his
goodness and love. 4. Thus he triumpheth more over Satan, and in a more
remarkable and glorious manner destroyeth his works. 5. Thus he
declareth how wonderfully he can make all things work together for good
to his chosen ones that love him and follow him. 6. Yea, thus he
engageth souls to wonder more at his divine wisdom and power; to despair
less in time coming, when cases would seem hard; to acknowledge his
great and wonderful grace, and his infinite power and wisdom, that can
bring life out of death; and also to be more sensible of the mercy, and
thankful for it.

O believer, what manner of joy is here! how happy art thou that hath
given up thyself to him! Thy worst condition can turn to thy advantage.
He can make thy ignorance, vented with a mixture of corruption, turn to
the increase of thy knowledge. Bless him for this; and, with joy and
satisfaction, abide thou under his tutory and at his school. And withal,
be not discouraged, be thy case of ignorance and corruption what it
will, lay it before him with sincerity and singleness of heart, and then
"thou mayest glory in thine infirmities, that the power of Christ may
rest on thee," 2 Cor. xii. 9; for thou shalt see, in due time, what
advantage infinite love and wisdom can bring to thy soul thereby.

May not this be a strong motive to induce strangers to give up
themselves to him, who will sweetly take occasion, at their failings and
shortcomings, to help them forward in the way? And what excuse can they
have who sit the call of the gospel, and say, in effect, they will not
go to Christ because their case is not good. And O that believers were
not sometimes led away with this error of scaring at Christ, because of
infirmities seen and discovered!

V. It is remarkable, that, as the disciples did ofttimes vent much of
their carnal conceptions of the kingdom of Christ, as apprehending it to
be some carnal, outward, pompous, stately, and, upon that account,
desirable condition; so there might be much of this carnal apprehension
lurking under this acknowledgment and question of Thomas; and the Lord,
who knew their thoughts, doth here wisely draw them off those notions,
and sets them about another study, to tell us, that it is best and most
useful and profitable for us, to be much taken up in the study and
search of necessary fundamental truths, and, particularly, of the way to
the Father. For, 1. Here is the substantial food of the soul; other
notions are but vain, and oftentimes they make the case of the soul
worse; but the study of this is always edifying. 2. The right
understanding of this and other fundamental truths will not puff up, but
keep the soul humble, and will make the soul active and diligent in
duty. 3. The fruit of this study is profitable and lasting. 4. And the
right uptaking of these truths will discover the vanity of other
sciences, falsely so called, and the folly of spending our time about
other things. 5. The right understanding of this fundamental will help
us to understand other truths the better. 6. A mistake in this, and such
like fundamentals, or the ignorance of them, is more dangerous than the
ignorance of or mistake in other things.

Oh! if this were teaching us all, in humility, to be much in the study
of such fundamental necessary truths as this is; and to guard against a
piece of vanity in affecting knowledge, the effect of which is nothing
but a puffing of us up with pride and conceit!

VI. We may here take notice of what may serve to discover Thomas his
mistake, and what is the ground of Christ's assertion, verse 4, which
Thomas doth little less than contradict, verse 5, viz. that such as had
any acquaintance with Christ did, according to the measure of their
knowledge of him, both know heaven and the way to it; whence we see
these truths,

1. Persons may have some real acquaintance with Christ, and yet be, for
a time, very indistinct in their notions about him, and apprehensions of
him. They may know Christ in some measure, and yet look upon themselves
as great strangers to the knowledge of heaven, and be oft complaining of
their ignorance of the right way to heaven.

2. Where there is the least measure of true acquaintance with Christ,
with love to him, and a desire to know more of him, Christ will take
notice thereof, though it be covered over with a heap of mistakes, and
accompanied with much ignorance, weakness, and indistinctness. He seeth
not as man seeth, which is good news to some that are weak in knowledge,
and unable to give any good account of any knowledge they have; yet one
thing they can say, that he who knoweth all things, knoweth that they
love him.

3. Various are the dispensations of God's grace unto his own. To some he
giveth a greater, to others a lesser measure of knowledge of the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; and to one and the same person, more
at one time than at another. Various are his manifestations and
out-lettings of grace and love. Small beginnings may come to much at
length. Thomas, and the rest of the disciples, had but little clear and
distinct apprehensions of the way of salvation through Jesus Christ; and
yet, ere all was done, they attained to such a measure of understanding
in the mysteries of God, as that we are said to be "built upon the
foundation of the apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief
corner-stone," Eph. ii. 20. This should teach the best much sobriety,
and not to judge of all by themselves; or to think, that God's way with
them must be a standard or a rule whereby to judge of all the rest; as
if his way of dealing were one and the same with all.

4. The knowledge of Christ is all. Know him, and we know heaven and the
way to it; for upon this ground doth Christ make good what he said,
touching their knowing whither he went, and the way; and answereth the
objection that Thomas did propose, viz. because he was the way, &c., and
they being acquaint with him, (which here is presupposed,) were not
ignorant of the place whither he was going, nor of the way leading
thither. The knowledge then of Jesus Christ is a true and full compend
of all saving knowledge. Hence it "is life eternal to know him," John
xvii. 3. "They that know him, know the Father," John xiv. 9. and viii.
19. "They that see him, see the Father also," John xiv. 9. "He is in the
Father, and the Father in him," John xiv. 10, 11. and x. 38. and xvii.
21. And so knowing him they know heaven; for what is heaven else but the
presence and glorious manifestations of the Father; for when Christ
speaks of his going to heaven, he saith, "He was going to the Father."
So knowing him, they know the way, both how Christ was to go to heaven
as our cautioner, head, and attorney, and how we must follow.

Let then a man have never so much knowledge, and be acquainted with the
mysteries of all arts and sciences, and with the depths of nature, and
intrigues of states, and all the theory of religion; if he be
unacquainted with Jesus, he knoweth nothing as he ought to know.

And upon the other hand, let a poor soul that is honest, and hath some
knowledge of, and acquaintance with him, be satisfied, though it cannot
discourse nor dispute, nor speak to cases of conscience, as some others;
if we know him, it matters not though we be ignorant of many things, and
thereby become less esteemed of by others. Here is the true test, by
which we may take a right estimate of our own, or of others' knowledge.
The true rule to try knowledge by, is not fine notions, clear and
distinct expressions, but heart-acquaintance with him; "in whom are hid
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," Col. ii. 3.

O sad! that we are not more taken up in this study, which would be a
compendious way for us to know all? Why spend we our money for that
which is not bread, and our labour for that which will not profit us?
Why waste we our time and spirits in learning this science, and that
art; when, alas! after we, with much labour and toil, have attained to
the yondmost pitch there, we are never one whit the nearer heaven and
happiness? yea, it were well, if we were not further off! Oh! if we were
wise at length, and could think more of this one thing necessary; and
could be stirred up to learn more of him, and to make this the subject
of all our study and labour.



CHAPTER II.

OF THE WORDS THEMSELVES IN GENERAL.


We come now to the words themselves, wherein Christ asserts that he is,
1, "the way;" 2, "the truth;" 3, "the life;" and, 4, "that no man cometh
to the Father but by him."

In them we learn these two things in general.

_First,_ The misery of wretched man by nature. This cannot be in a few
words expressed.

These words will point out those particulars thereof, which we will but
mention.

1. That he is born an enemy to, and living at a distance from God, by
virtue of the curse of the broken covenant of life made with Adam.

2. That he neither can nor will return to God, of himself. His way is
not in himself; he hath need of another to be his way.

3. That he is a blind, wandering creature, ready to by-ways and to
wander; yea, he loveth to wander. He goeth astray as soon as he is born,
speaking lies.

4. He cannot discern the true way, but is blinded with prejudice
thereat, and full of mistakes. He is nothing but a lump of error.

5. He is dead legally and really: how can he then come home? How can he
walk in the way, though it were pointed out to him?

6. He, even when he entereth into the way, is subject to so many
faintings, swoonings, upsittings, &c. that except he get new quickening,
he must lie by the way and perish.

In a word, his misery is such as cannot be expressed; for as little as
it is believed, and laid to heart; or seen and mourned for, and
lamented.

Now, for a ground to our following discourse, I would press the solid,
thorough and sensible apprehension of this, without which there will be
no use-making or application of Christ; "for the whole need not the
physician, but the sick;" and Christ is "not come to call the righteous,
but sinners to repentance," Matt. ix. 12. Mark ii. 17. Yea, believers
themselves would live within the sight of this, and not forget their
frailty; for though there be a change wrought in them, yet they are not
perfect, but will have need of Christ as the way, the truth, and the
life, till he bring them in, and set them down upon the throne, and
crown them with the crown of life. And, O happy they, who must not walk
on foot without this guide leading them by the hand, or rather carrying
them in his arms. Let all them who would make use of Christ remember
what they were, and what they are, and keep the sense of their frailty
and misery fresh; that seeing their need of him, they may be in better
case to look out to him for help and supply, and be more distinct in
their application of him.

The _second_ general is, that Christ is a complete mediator, thoroughly
furnished for all our necessities. Are we at a distance from the Father?
He is a way to bring us together. Are we wandered out of the way? He is
the way to us. Are we blind and ignorant? He is the truth. Are we dead?
He is the life. Concerning this fulness and completeness of his, we
would mark these things:

1. That he is thoroughly furnished with all things we stand in need of;
the way, the truth, and the life. He hath eye-salve, clothing, gold
tried in the fire, &c. "For the Spirit of the Lord is upon him, and hath
anointed him," Isa. lxi. 1.

2. He is suitably qualified, not only having a fulness, and an
all-fulness, so that whatever we need is to be had in him, but also a
suitable fulness answering our case to the life. Are we out of the way?
He is the way. Are we dead? He is life, &c.

3. He is richly qualified with this suitable good. He hath not only
"wisdom and knowledge," but "treasures of it," yea, "all the treasures"
thereof, Col. ii. 3. There is fulness in him; yea, "it hath pleased the
Father that in him should all fulness dwell," Col. i. 19. Yea, "the
fulness of the Godhead dwelleth in him bodily," Col. ii. 9.

4. Hence this is an up-making completeness and fulness; for we are said
to be "complete in him," Col. ii. 10. And he is said to "be all in all,"
Col. iv. 11. "He filleth all in all," Eph. i. 23.

5. It is also a satisfying completeness. The eye is not satisfied with
seeing, nor the ear with hearing. The avaricious man is not satisfied
with gold, nor the ambitious man with honour; but still they are crying
with the loch leech, give, give! But the man who getteth Christ is full;
he sitteth down and cryeth, enough, enough! And no wonder, for he hath
all; he can desire no more; he can seek no more; for what can the man
want that is complete in him?

6. There is here that which will answer all the objections of a soul;
and these sometimes are not few. If they say they cannot know the way to
the Father, then he is the truth to instruct and teach them that, and so
to enter them into it. And if they say they cannot walk in that way, nor
advance in it one step, but will faint and sit up, succumb and fall by;
he answereth that he is the life, to put life and keep life in them, and
to cause them to walk, by putting a new principle of life in them, and
breathing of new on that principle.

O thrice happy they who have fled to him for refuge! It is easy for them
to answer all objections and cavils of Satan, and of a false heart. It
is easy for them to put Christ to answer all. And, on the other hand,
who can tell the misery of such as are strangers to Jesus? How shall
their wants be made up? How shall they answer challenges, accusations,
temptations, doubts, fears, objections, and discouragements, cast up in
their way?

Oh! should not this endear the way of the gospel to us, and make Christ
precious unto us! Is it not a wonder that such an all-sufficient
mediator, who is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God
through him, should be so little regarded and sought unto; and that
there should be so few that embrace him, and take him as he is offered
in the gospel.

How can this be answered in the day of accounts? What excuse can
unbelievers now have? Is not all to be found in Christ that their case
calleth for? Is he not a complete mediator, thoroughly furnished with
all necessaries? Is not the riches of his fulness written on all his
dispensations? The mouths, then, of unbelievers, must be for ever
stopped.



CHAPTER III.

HOW CHRIST IS THE WAY IN GENERAL, "I AM THE WAY."


We come now to speak more particularly to the words; and, _first,_ Of
his being a way. Our design being to point at the way of use-making of
Christ in all our necessities, straits, and difficulties which are in
our way to heaven; and particularly to point out the way how believers
should make use of Christ in all their particular exigencies; and so
live by faith in him, walk in him, grow up in him, advance and march
forward toward glory in him. It will not be amiss to speak of this
fulness of Christ in reference to unbelievers, as occasion offereth,
because this will help to clear the other.

Before we can clear up how any can make use of Christ, we must speak
something of their necessity of him, and of his being furnished fitly,
fully, richly, and satisfyingly for their case; and this will make the
way of use-making of Christ more plain.

While Christ then says, "I am the Way," he points out those things to
us:

1. That man is now estranged from the Lord, and in a wandering
condition: He hath departed from God, he is revolted and gone. "They are
all gone out of the way," Rom. iii. 12. "They go astray as soon as they
are born, speaking lies," Psal. lviii. 3.

2. Nay, not only so, but we love naturally to wander and to run away
from God, as Jeremiah complaineth of that wicked people, Jer. xiv. 10.
Naturally, with "the dromedary, we traverse our ways," Jer. ii. 23, and
run hither and thither, but never look towards him. Nay, we are like
those spoken of, Job xxi. 14. "We desire not the knowledge of his ways,
we will have none of him," Psalm lxxxi. 11; nor "of his reproofs," Prov.
i. 30.

Oh, how sad is this! And yet how is it more sad, that this is not
believed, nor once considered. And that it is not believed, is manifest;
for,

1. How rare is it to meet with persons that are not very well pleased
and satisfied with themselves and their condition? They thank the Lord
it was aye well with them. They have no complaints. They see no wants
nor necessities. They wonder what makes folk complain of their
condition, of their evil heart, or of their hazard and danger. They
understand not these matters.

2. Do we not find people very quiet and at rest, though they remain in
the congregation of the dead, Prov. xxi. 16. They sleep in a sound skin,
because they see no hazard. The thoughts of their condition never
bereave them of one night's rest: No challenges have they; all is at
peace with them, for the strong man keeps the house.

3. How rare is it to find people exercised about this matter, and busied
with it in their thoughts, either while alone, or while in company with
others; or once seriously thinking and considering of it, yea, or so
much as suspecting the matter?

4. How rare is it to see any soul broken in heart, and humbled because
of this; who is walking under this as under a load; whose soul is
bleeding under the consideration of this! Is there any mourning for
this?

5. Where is that to be heard, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be
saved?" How shall we enter into the right way? Where is that good old
way, that we may walk in it? Few such questions and cases troubling
consciences; and no wonder, for a deep sleep is upon them.

6. How cometh it then, that the pointing forth of the way is so little
hearkened unto? Sure were this natural condition perceived, a report of
the sure and safe way would be much more welcome than it is: Christ by
his messengers would not be put to cry so often in vain, "This is the
way, turn in hither."

Here is enough to convince of this ignorance and insensibleness; but it
is his Spirit, which "convinceth the world of sin," John xvi. that must
bear home this conviction.

_Secondly_, It pointeth out to us this, that "the way of man is not in
himself," Jer. x. 23, that is, that nothing, he can do can or will prove
a way to him to the Father: For Christ is the Way, as excluding all
other means and ways. And that man can do nothing to help himself into
the way, is clear; for,

1. "His way is darkness," Prov. iv. 14. He knoweth no better, he is
satisfied therewith; there he sleepeth and resteth.

2. He cannot nor doth not desire to return. He hateth to be reformed.

3. Yea, he thinketh himself safe; no man can convince him of the
contrary: The way he is in "seemeth right to him, though the end thereof
be death;" Prov. xiv. 12, and xvi. 25.

4. Every man hath his own particular way to which he turneth, Isaiah
liii, 6; some one thing or other that he is pleased with, and that he
thinks will abundantly carry him through, and there resteth he; and what
these ordinarily are, we shall hear presently.

5. In this his way, which yet is a false way, "he trusteth," Hosea x.
13, he leaneth upon it, little knowing that it will fail him at length,
and that he and his hope and confidence shall perish.

Is it not strange then to see men and women "gading about to seek their
way," as it is said, Jer. ii. 36. as if they could find it out; or as if
they could of themselves fall upon the way. What a lamentable sight is
it, to see people "wearying themselves with very lies," Ezek. xxiv. 12;
"and wearied in the multitude of their own counsels," Isaiah xlvii. 15.

But what are those false and lying ways which men weary themselves in,
and all in vain; and which they chuse and trust unto, and yet are not
the way which will prove safe and sure?

_Ans._ It will not be easy to reckon them all up, we shall name some
that are principal and most ordinary; such as,

1. Good purposes and resolutions, with which many deceive themselves,
supposing that to be all which is required: And, alas! all their
purposes are like to Ephraim's goodness,--like the early cloud and
morning dew that soon evanisheth; their purposes are soon broken off,
and soon disappointed, because made without counsel, Prov. xv. 22. Many
foolishly rest here, that they have a good mind to do better, and to
amend their ways, and they purpose after such a time or such time, they
shall begin a new manner of life; but their purposes never come to any
effect, and so at length they and their purposes both perish.

2. Some convictions and inward challenges. The word now and then
pierceth them so far, and sore and sharp dispensations from the Lord so
far affect their heart, that they see it is not well with them; and they
are made, with Saul, to cry out, "I have sinned," 1 Sam. xv. 24, and
they advance no further; those convictions either die out again, or work
no further change: And, poor souls, they think, because at such a
sermon, or such a communion, they had some such convictions and sharp
challenges, therefore they imagine all is well with them; when a Judas
may have convictions, sharper than ever they had, and a Felix, Acts
xxiv. 25.

3. Convictions followed with some sort of amendment. Some may
dreadfully deceive themselves with this, and conclude that all is right
with them, and that the way they are in is safe and sure; because they
have had convictions, which have been so effectual as to cause them to
amend many things, and become, as to many things, changed men and women,
when, alas, their way is but a way of darkness still; it is not Christ;
they have never come to him. Herod hearing John Baptist, had his own
convictions and amendments; for "he did many things," Mark vi. 20.

4. Many rest upon their outward civility and morality, or negative
holiness. They cannot be challenged for gross faults, and that is all
the way they have to rest in: Alas! could not a wicked Pharisee say as
much as they, viz. "That he was no extortioner, unjust person, or an
adulterer, nor such as the publican was," Luke xviii. 11. How many
heathens, as to this, shall outstrip such as profess themselves
Christians? and yet they lived and died strangers to the right way to
happiness. See what that poor young man said, Luke xviii. 21.

5. Some may win to more than civility, and attain unto a kind of outward
holiness, and outward performance of the duties of religion, such as
hearing, reading, prayer, communicating, and rest there, and yet perish:
For that is but their own way, it is not the right way. Had not the
foolish virgins lamps? and did they not wait with the rest, Matth. xxv.;
and will not many say, in that day, "We have eaten and drunken in thy
presence, and thou hast taught in our streets:" to whom Christ shall
answer, "I know not whence you are, depart from me, all ye workers of
iniquity?" Luke xiii. 26, 27. Were not the Jews much in duties and
outward ordinances? and yet see how the Lord rejected them all, Isaiah
i. 11-15, and lxvi. 3.

6. Much knowledge doth deceive many. They think because they can talk of
religion, speak to cases of conscience, handle places of Scripture, and
the like, that therefore all is right with them; when alas, that is but
a slippery ground to stand upon. The Pharisees sat in Moses' seat, and
taught sometimes sound doctrine; and yet were heart-enemies to Jesus,
Matth. xxiii. And will not many think to plead themselves into heaven,
by saying, that they "have prophesied in his name," Matth. vii. 22.
There is "a knowledge that puffeth up," 1 Cor. xiii. 2. Some there are
whose knowledge seemeth to be operative and practical, and not merely
speculative. Some may "escape the pollutions of the world through the
knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," and yet again become
entangled therein and overcome; so that "their latter end is worse than
the beginning;" see 2 Peter ii. 20, 21, 22. Knowledge, I grant, is good,
but it is not Christ, and so it is not the way to the Father; and many,
alas! lean to it, and are deceived at last.

7. A kind of seeming seriousness in the performance of duties, and in
seeking of God, deceiveth many. They think, because they are not
conscious to their own dissembling, but they look upon themselves as
earnest in what they do, that therefore all is well. Sayeth not Christ,
that not "every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom
of God?" Matth. vii. 21; that is, not every one that reneweth their
suits, and ingeminateth their desires, cry, and cry over again, and, as
it were, will not give it over; and yet they come short of their
expectation. Did not the foolish virgins seem earnest and serious, when
they continued waiting with the rest, and at length cried "Lord, Lord,
open unto us;" and yet they are kept at the door. Many consider not that
there is a secret and close hypocrisy, that some may be under and not
know it, as well as a gross hypocrisy and dissimulation, which may be
easily observed; "Will not many seek to enter in that shall not be
able?" Matth. vii. 13. Luke xiii. 24.

8. Many deceive themselves with this, that they are looked on by other
godly, discerning persons and ministers, as good serious Christians, and
that they carry so handsomely and so fair, that no man can judge
otherways of them, than that they are good serious seekers of God. But,
alas! the day is coming which will discover many things, and many one
will be deceived both of themselves and of others. "Not he who
commendeth himself is approved, but whom God approveth," 2 Cor. x. 18.
Therefore, Paul exhorts Timothy, "to study to show himself approved
unto God," 2 Tim. ii. 15. Men look only on the outside, and cannot see
into the heart; but God searcheth the heart; and it is an easy matter to
deceive men, but God will not be deceived.

9. Some may suppose themselves in a safe and sure way, if they outstrip
others in religious duties, and be much in extraordinary duties, when,
alas! for all that, the heart may be rotten. "The Pharisee fasted twice
a-week," Luke xviii. 12, and yet was but an enemy to Christ. O how
deceitful is the heart of man!

10. Inward peace and quietness of conscience may deceive some; and they
may suppose that all is right with them; because they do nothing over
the belly of their conscience. Their heart doth not accuse them of
falsehood and dissimulation in their way with God or man, but they do
all things according to their light. No doubt that young man (Luke
xviii. 21,) spoke according to his judgment and light, when he said,
"All these things have I kept from my youth." And Paul saith of himself
(Acts xxiii. 1,) "that he had lived in all good conscience before God
till that very day;" meaning, that even while he was a Pharisee
unconverted, he had not tortured his conscience, nor done anything
directly against it, but had always walked according to his light. See
Acts xxvi. 9.

11. A way of zeal may deceive many who may think their case
unquestionable, because they are zealous for their way, and, as they
think, their zeal is pure for God. Was not Paul, while a Pharisee, very
zealous, when, out of zeal to his way, he persecuted the church, Philip.
iii. 6. See my zeal for the Lord, could I thus say, 2 Kings x. 16; and
the Jews had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, Rom. x. 2;
and Christ tells us, that such as should persecute the Apostles unto
death, would think they did God good service, John xvi. 2.

12. Some also may put it beyond question, that they are in the right
way, because they are more strict in all their ways than others, and
will not so much as keep fellowship or company with them; saying, with
those, (Isaiah lxv. 5) "Stand by, I am holier than thou, come not near
to me," who yet are but a smoke in God's nose, and a fire that burneth
all the day.

13. Some may rest on, and deceive themselves with their great
attainments, and more than ordinary experiences, when, alas! we see to
what a height some may come, and yet prove nothing. Let such souls read
with trembling that word of Paul, Heb. vi 4, 5, where we see some may
come to be enlightened, to taste of the heavenly gift, to be made
partakers of the Holy Ghost, to taste the good word of God, and the
powers of the world to come, and yet prove cast-aways; taking these
expressions as pointing forth something distinct from real grace.

Many such false ways, wherein men please themselves, might be mentioned;
by these every one may see cause of searching and trying over and over
again. It is a dreadful thing to be deceived here, and it is best to put
it to a trial, when there is a possibility of getting the matter helped.
And many may fear and tremble when they see they are not yet come the
length of many such as sit down without Christ, and lose all their
labour. Oh, if this could put people to a serious examination and trial
of themselves, and of the nature of that way wherein they are, and rest
at present!

_Thirdly_, We might here observe, that this true and living way is but
one for all. There is but "one Mediator between God and man," 1 Tim. ii.
5. One Mediator for both Old and New Testament, the seed of the woman.
Howbeit the Lord's dispensations with his people, in that one way, may
be various, as his way with his people under the law is different from
his way with his people under the gospel; and his dispensations with
individual believers, whether under the law or under the gospel, is not
the same in all things.

And this should teach us to relinquish our own ways, and to enter into
this one only way; and it should move such as are in this way to study
unity and agreement among themselves; and yet not infer or suppose, that
God's way with them must be in all things alike. Yea, though the Lord's
way with them be different from his way with others, and more dark,
disconsolate, and bitter, yet let them be quiet and silent before the
Lord, and acknowledge his goodness that hath brought them into the one
only way, Jesus Christ, and keepeth them there.

But, _fourthly,_ The main thing here, and which is obvious, is this,
that Jesus Christ is the way to the Father, the one and only way, the
sovereign and excellent way, and he alone is the way. There is not
another. "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none
other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," Acts
iv. 12.

For clearing of this, we shall speak a little to those four things, and
shew,

1. What is our case, and what need we have of a way.

2. How Christ answereth this our case and necessity, and is a fit way
for us.

3. How he alone is the way, and answereth this our case.

4. What are the rare advantages and specialities of this way.

And this will make way for our clearing up, how Christ is made use of as
a way by poor sinners.

For the first of these, our present case and necessity, something was
spoken to it before; we shall reduce all those to two heads. The first
is, our state of guilt, and separation from God because of sin and
guilt; the next is, our state of wickedness and enmity against God.

As to the first, we may take notice of those things:

1. That sin, original and actual, hath separated us from God, and cast
us out of his favour, and out of that station of favour and friendship
which once we were advanced to in Adam.

2. That we are under God's curse and wrath, and excommunicated from the
presence of the Lord, by a sad, yet just, sentence according to law, and
so are under death.

As to the next thing, we may take notice of those particulars:

1. That we are impure and polluted with sin and daily iniquity.

2. That we are ignorant of the right way of returning into favour with
God, seeking out to ourselves many inventions.

3. That we are impotent for any good work or commanded duty.

That not only so, but we are unwilling to do any thing that is good, or
to enter into the way when pointed out unto us; yea, we are enemies to
God by wicked works, and have an innate hatred to all his ways.

5. We desire not to be out of the condition whereinto we are; there we
love to lie and sleep, and desire not to be roused up or awakened.

6. We are under the power and command of Satan, who leadeth us out of
the way, yea, and driveth us forward in the wrong way, to our perdition.

These things are plain and undeniable, and need no further confirmation;
though, alas! it is little believed or laid to heart by many.

For the second, how Christ answereth this our case and necessity. He is
a way to us to help us out of both these, both out of our state of guilt
and separation, and out of our state of wickedness and enmity.

And, first, he helpeth us out of our state of guilt and separation:

1. By taking away our guilt and sin; "being made sin for us, who knew no
sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Cor. v.
21. He hath filled the great gap betwixt God and us, with his body, and
hath made of it, as it were, a bridge, by which they may go over to the
Father: "We enter now into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new
and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that
is to say, his flesh," Heb. x. 19, 20; "we are now brought near by his
blood," Eph. ii. 13, so that through him we are restored again to
friendship with God, and made one with him; for Christ the Mediator hath
"made both one, reconciling Jews and Gentiles both unto God, in one
body, by the cross, having slain the enmity," Eph. ii. 16.

2. By taking away the curse and wrath that was due to us, being "made a
curse for us," Gal iii. 13. So that he is become our peace, and "through
him we have access by one spirit unto the Father, and are no more
strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of
the household of God," Eph. ii. 14, 18, 19. "He is set forth to be a
propitiation through faith in his blood," Rom. iii. 25. 1 John ii. 2,
and iv. 10. "By him have we now received atonement," Rom. v. 11.

Next, he helpeth us out of our state of wickedness and enmity,

1. By taking away our impurity and uncleanness, "by washing us and
cleansing us in his blood," Ezek. xvi. 6-9. Col. i. 22, "having
purchased grace for us," Eph. v. 1, 3, "we are blessed with all
spiritual blessings in him." He applieth his merits, and layeth the
foundation of grace and holiness in the soul, and carrieth on the work
of mortification and vivification; and so killing the old man by his
Spirit, both meritoriously and efficiently, he cleanseth and washeth.
Hence, we are said to be baptised with him in his death, and buried with
him by baptism into death, that we should walk in newness of life. And
so our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be
destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin, Rom. vi. 3, 4, 6.
And for our daily infirmities and escapes, whereby we pollute ourselves,
his blood "is a fountain opened to the house of David and to the
inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness," Zech. xiii. 1;
and to this fountain he bringeth by the spirit of repentance, which he,
as an exalted prince, bestoweth, Acts. v. 31, and by faith. So 1 John
ii. 1, "if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father," &c.

2. As for our ignorance and blindness, he taketh that away, being given
for a light to the Gentiles, Isa. xlii. 6, and xlix. 6. Luke ii. 32. He
is sent to open the blind eyes, Isa. xlii. 7; to bring out the prisoners
from their dark prisons, Isa. xlii. 7, and lxi. 1. Yea, he is anointed
for this end, so that such as walk in darkness see a great light, and
they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them the light
hath shined, Isa. ix. 2. Matth. iv. 15; and he hath eye-salve to give,
Rev. iii. 18.

3. He is qualified for taking away our impotency, so that through him we
can do all things, Philip, iv. 13; "when we are weak, we are strong in
him who is our strength, and liveth in us," 2 Cor. xii. 10. Gal. ii.
20. Hence, "he worketh in us both to will and to do of his own good
pleasure," Philip. ii. 13.

4. He also taketh away our natural averseness, unwillingness,
wickedness, and hatred of his ways, making his people "willing in the
day of his power," Psal. cx. So he taketh away "the enmity that is in
us," Col. ii. 20, and reconcileth us to God and to his ways, that our
hearts do sweetly comply with them, and we become most willing and glad
to walk in them, yea, and "to run the way of his commandments through
his enlarging of our hearts," Psal. cxix. 22.

5. He likewise taketh away that desire and willingness, which we have,
to lie still in our natural condition, by convincing us of the dreadful
hazard thereof, through the spirit of conviction, whereby he convinceth
the world of it, John xvi. 8, and circumciseth their ears to hear, and
maketh them willing to hearken to the counsel of God.

6. As for the power and dominion of Satan, he breaketh that, by "leading
captivity captive," Eph. iv. 8; Psal. lxviii. 18; "and spoiling the
strongman's house; for he is come to destroy the works of the devil," 1
John iii. 8; "and he spoileth principalities and powers," Col. ii. 15.
Thus, as a captain of salvation, he leadeth them out as a conqueror;
having paid the price, he delivereth also by power and authority from
the hand of this jailor.

And thus we see how he answereth our case and necessity, and is a fit
way for us; and though this be not questioned, yet little is it believed
and considered, and less put in practice.

And as for the third particular, that he alone is this way, and
answereth our case herein, it needeth not be much spoken to, since it is
clear and manifest, confirmed by the experience of all generations, and
the disappointments of fools who have been seeking other ways. Angels in
heaven cannot do our business, they cannot satisfy justice for us, nor
have they any power over our heart to turn it as they will; nay, they
are not acquainted with our secret thoughts, that cabinet is kept close
from them, and reserved as the peculiar privilege of God alone. The
blood of bulls and of goats cannot do it; for the apostle tells us, that
it is impossible for that to take away sin, Heb. x. 4. That blood shed
according to the law did cleanse ceremonially, but it is only the blood
of Jesus, typified by that, which cleanseth really; so that we are
sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for
all, Heb. x. 10. No pains or labour of ours can avail here. The Lord
will not be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of
rivers of oil. "He will not take our first-born for our transgression,
nor the son of our body for the sin of our soul," Micah vi. 7. Ordinance
and means will not do it, nor any invention of our own: "no man can by
any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him; for the
redemption of the soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever," Psal.
xlix. 7, 8. He alone hath laid down the price; all our sufferings,
prayers, tears, labours, penances, and the like, signify nothing here;
they cannot satisfy justice for one sin.

As to the fourth particular, viz., the singularity of this way, those
things make it manifest and apparent:

1. This is such a way as can discover itself, and make itself known unto
the erring traveller. Christ Jesus is such a way as can say to the
wandering soul, "this is the way, walk ye in it," Isa. xxx. 25. No way
can do this. This is comfortable.

2. This way can not only discover itself to the wandering traveller, but
also it can bring folk into it. Christ can bring souls unto himself,
when they are running on in their wandering condition. He can move their
hearts to turn into the right way, put grace in their soul for this end,
begin resolutions in them, and sow the seed of faith; and so stay their
course which they were violently pursuing, and make them look about and
consider what they are doing. As the former was good news to poor,
blind, and witless creatures that were wandering and knew not whither
they were going; so this is good news to poor souls that find their
heart inclining to wander, and loving to go astray.

3. This way can cause us walk in it. If we be rebellious and obstinate,
he can command with authority; for he is given for a leader and
commander, Isa. lv. 4. How sweet should this be to the soul that is
weighted with a stubborn, untractable, and unpersuadable heart, that he,
as a king, governor, and commander, can with authority draw or drive,
and cause us follow and run?

4. This way is truth, as well as the way; so that the soul that once
entereth in here is safe for ever; no wandering here. "The wayfaring
men, though fools, shall not err in this way," Isa. xxxv. 8. "He will
bring the blind by a way that they knew not, and lead them in paths that
they have not known; he will make darkness light before them, and
crooked things straight; those things will he do unto them, and not
forsake them," Isa. xlii. 16.

5. This way is also life, and so can revive the faint and weary
traveller. "He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might
he increaseth strength; yea, he renews their strength, and makes them
mount up with wings as eagles, and run and not be weary, and walk and
not be faint," Isa. xl. 29, 31; "and so he giveth legs to the traveller,
yea, he carrieth the lambs in his bosom," Isa. xl. 11. Oh! who would not
walk in this way? what can discourage the man that walketh here? what
can he fear? No way can quicken and refresh the weary man. This way can
do it; yea, it can quicken one that is as dead, and cause him march on
with fresh alacrity and vigour.

6. From all these it followeth, that this way is a most pleasant,
heartsome, desirable and comfortable way. The man is safe here, and he
may "sing in the ways of the Lord," Psalm cxxxviii. 5. "For wisdom's
ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace," Prov. iii.
17. He is a way that is food, physic, cordials, and all that the poor
traveller standeth in need of till he come hence.

From all which, ere we come to particulars, we shall in general point
out those duties, which natively result thence, by way of use.

1. O what cause is there here for all of us to fall a wondering, both
that God should ever have condescended to have appointed a way how
sinners and rebels, that had wickedly departed from him, and deserved to
be cast out of his presence and favour for ever, might come back again,
and enjoy happiness and felicity in the friendship and favour of that
God that could have got the glory of his justice in our destruction, and
stood in no need of us, or of any thing we could do: as also, that he
appointed such a way, that Jesus Christ his only Son, should, to speak
so, lie as a bridge betwixt God and sinful rebels, and as a highway,
that they might return to the great God upon him. Let all the creation
of God wonder at this wonderful condescending love of God, that
appointed such a way; and of Christ, that was content to lout so low as
to become this way to us, this new and living way; and that for this end
he should have taken on flesh, and become Emmanuel, God with us, and
tabernacled with us, that through this vail of his flesh, he might
consecrate a way to us. Let angels wonder at this condescendency.

2. Hence we may see ground of being convinced of those things: (1.) That
naturally we are out of the way to peace and favour with God, and in a
way that leadeth to death, and so that our misery and wretchedness, so
long as it is so, cannot be expressed. (2.) That we can do nothing for
ourselves; set all our wits a-work, we cannot fall upon a way that will
bring us home. (3.) That it is madness for us to seek out another way,
and to vex ourselves in vain, to run to this and to that mean or
invention of our own, and be found fools in the end. (4.) That our
madness is so much the greater in this, that we will turn to our own
ways that will fail us, when there is such a noble and excellent, and
every way satisfying way prepared to our hand. (5.) That our wickedness
is so desperate, that the way which is pointed out to us doth not please
us, and that we will not enter into it, nor walk in it. (6.) That this
way, which is also the truth and the life, is only worth the embracing,
and is only safe and sure; we should be convinced and persuaded of the
worth, sufficiency, and desirableness of this way. Reason, with ordinary
light from the word, may teach these things; but grace can only carry
them into the heart, and make them take rooting there.

3. We may read here our obligation to those particulars: (1.) To turn
our back upon all other false and deceitful ways, and not rest there.
(2.) To enter into this way, though "the gate be narrow and strait,"
Matt vii. 13. Luke xiii. 24, yet "to strive to enter in." (3.) To
resolve to abide in that way as acquiescing in it, resting satisfied
with it, and thus to be "rooted in him," Col. ii. 7, and "to dwell in
him," 1 John iii. 24, and "to live in him," or "through him," 1 John iv.
9. (4.) To "walk in this way," Col. ii. 6. that is, to make constant use
of him, and to make progress in the way in and through him; to go from
strength to strength in him, drawing all our furniture from him, by
faith, according to the covenant; and that the soul should guard
against, 1. stepping aside out of this good and pleasant way; 2.
backsliding; 3. sitting up, and fainting by the way.

In a word, this pointeth out our duty, to make use of Christ as our way
to the Father, and only of Christ; and this leads us to the particulars
we shall speak a little to.

There are two main things which stand in our way, and hinder us from
approaching to the Father. 1. Unrighteousness and guilt, whereby we are
legally banished, because of the broken covenant, and the righteous
sentence of God according to that covenant. And, 2. Wickedness,
impurity, and unholiness, which is, as a physical bar, lying in our way;
because nothing that is unclean can dwell and abide with him, who is of
purer eyes than he can behold iniquity; and nothing that is unclean can
enter in there where he is. So then there must be an use-making of
Christ, as a way through both these impediments; we need justification
and pardon for the one, and sanctification and cleansing for the other.
Now Christ being the way to the Father, both as to justification, in
taking away the enmity, in changing our state, and removing our
unrighteousness and guilt, whereby we were lying under the sentence of
the law, adjudging such sinners as we are to hell; and as to
sanctification, in cleansing us from all our pollutions, renewing our
souls, washing away our spots and defilements, &c. He must be made use
of in reference to both.

In speaking to the _first_, we shall be the shorter, because through
God's great mercy, the gospel's pure way of justification by faith in
Christ is richly and abundantly cleared up by many worthy authors, of
late, both as concerning the theoretical and practical part.



CHAPTER IV.

HOW CHRIST IS MADE USE OF FOR JUSTIFICATION AS A WAY.


What Christ hath done to purchase, procure, and bring about our
justification before God, is mentioned already, viz. That he stood in
the room of sinners, engaging for them as their cautioner, undertaking,
and at length paying down the ransom; becoming sin, or a sacrifice for
sin, and a curse for them, and so laying down his life a ransom to
satisfy divine justice; and this he hath made known in the gospel,
calling sinners to an accepting of him as their only Mediator, and to a
resting upon him for life and salvation; and withal, working up such, as
belong to the election of grace, to an actual closing with him upon the
conditions of the covenant, and to an accepting of him, believing in
him, and resting upon him, as satisfied with, and acquiescing in that
sovereign way of salvation and justification through a crucified
Mediator.

Now, for such as would make use of Christ as the way to the Father in
the point of justification, those things are requisite; to which we
shall only premise this word of caution, That we judge not the want of
these requisites a ground to exempt any, that heareth the gospel, from
the obligation to believe and rest upon Christ as he is offered in the
gospel.

1. There must be a conviction of sin and misery. A conviction of
original guilt, whereby we are banished out of God's presence and
favour, and are in a state of enmity and death, are come short of the
glory of God, Rom. iii. 23; becoming dead or under the sentence of
death, through the offence of one, Rom. v. 15; being made sinners by one
man's disobedience, verse 19, and therefore under the reigning power of
death, verse 17, and under that judgment that came upon all men to
condemnation, verse 18. And of original innate wickedness, whereby the
heart is filled with enmity against God, and is a hater of him and all
his ways, standing in full opposition to him and to his holy laws;
loving to contradict and resist him in all his actings; despising and
undervaluing all his condescensions of love; obstinately refusing his
goodness and offers of mercy; and peremptorily persisting in rebellion
and heart-opposition; not only not accepting his kindness and offers of
mercy, but contemning them, trampling them under foot as embittered
against him. As also, there must be a conviction of our actual
transgressions, whereby we have corrupted our ways yet more, run farther
away from God, brought on more wrath upon our souls, according to that
sentence of the law, "Cursed is everyone that abideth not in all things
that are written in the law to do them," Deut. xxvii. 26. Gal. iii. 10.
What way this conviction is begun and carried on in the soul, and to
what measure it must come, I cannot now stand to explain; only, in
short, know, That upon whatever occasion it be begun, whether by a word
carried home to the heart by the finger of God, or by some sharp and
crossing dispensation, fear of approaching death, some heinous
out-breaking, or the like, it is a real thing, a heart-reaching
conviction, not general and notional, but particular, plain, and
pinching, affecting the heart with fear and terror, making the soul
seriously and really to mind this matter, to be taken up with the
thoughts of it, and anxiously and earnestly to cry out, "What shall I do
to be saved?" and finally, will make the soul willing to hearken and
hear what hopes of mercy there is in the gospel, and to embrace the way
of salvation which is there laid down. And the reason of this is,
because Christ himself tells us, "The whole needeth not the physician,
but the sick," Matt. ix. 12. "He is not come to call the righteous,"
that is, such as are righteous in their own eyes, "but sinners," that
is, such as are now no more whole at the heart, as seeing no evil, no
hazard or danger, but pricked and pierced with the sense of their lost
condition, being under the heavy wrath and vengeance of the great God,
because of sin; and seeing their own vileness, cursedness, wickedness
and desperate madness. Because naturally we hate God and Christ, John
xv. 23-25, and have a strong and natural antipathy at the way of
salvation through Jesus, therefore nothing but strong and inevitable
necessity will drive us to a compliance with this gospel device of love.

2. There must be some measure of humiliation. Under this conviction the
man is bowed down, and made mute before God; no more boasting of his
goodness and of his happy condition; no high or great thoughts of his
righteousness; for all are looked on now as "filthy rags," Isa. lxv. 6.
"What things were as gain before to the soul, must now be counted loss,
yea, and as dung," Philip, iii. 7, 8. The man must be cast down in
himself, and far from high and conceity thoughts of himself, or of any
thing he ever did or can do. "For the Lord resisteth the proud, but
giveth grace to the humble," James iv. 6; 1 Pet. v. 5. "He reviveth the
spirit of the humble," Isa. lvii. 15. "He that humbleth himself shall be
exalted," Matt. xviii. 4, and xxiii. 12; Luke xiv. 11, and xviii. 14.

3. There must be a despairing of getting help or relief out of this
condition, by ourselves, or any thing we can do; a conviction of the
unprofitableness of all things under the sun for our relief. No
expectation of help from our supposed good heart, good purposes, good
deeds, works of charity, many prayers, commendations of others, sober
and harmless walking, or anything else within us or without us that is
not Christ. For, so long as we have the least hope or expectation of
doing our own business without Christ, we will not come to him. Our
heart hangeth so after the old way of salvation through works, that we
cannot endure to hear of any other, nor can we yield to any other. Could
we but have heaven by the way of works, we would spare no pains, no
cost, no labour, no expenses; nay, we would put ourselves to much pain
and torment by whippings, cuttings, fastings, watchings, and the like;
we would spare our first-born; nay, we would dig our graves in a rock
with our nails, and cut our own days, could we but get heaven by this
means; such is our antipathy at the way of salvation through a crucified
Christ, that we would choose any way but that, cost what it would;
therefore, before we can heartily close with Christ and accept of him,
we must be put from those refuges of lies, and see that there is nothing
but a disappointment written on them all, that all our prayers,
fastings, cries, duties, reformations, sufferings, good wishes, good
deeds, &c. are nothing in his eyes, but so many provocations to the eyes
of his jealousy, and so, further causes of our misery.

4. There must be a rational, deliberate, and resolute relinquishing of
all those things in ourselves, on which our heart is ready to dote. The
man being convinced of the vanity of all things by which he hath been
hoping for salvation, must now purpose to lose his grips of them, to
turn his back upon them, to quit them with purpose of heart, and to say
to them, get you hence, as Isa. xxx. 22. This is to deny ourselves,
which we must do ere we become his disciples, Matt. xvi. 24. This is to
forsake our father's house, Psalm xlv. 10, and to pluck out our right
eye, and to cut off our right arm, Matth. v. 29, 30. This abandoning of
all our false propes and subterfuges must be resolute, over the belly of
much opposition within, from the carnal and natural inclinations of the
heart; and of much opposition without, from Satan's ensnaring
suggestions and deceitful temptations: It must be a real, rational act
of the soul, upon solid and thorough conviction of their
unprofitableness, yea, of their dangerousness and destructiveness.

5. There must be some knowledge of the nature of the gospel covenant,
and of the way which now God hath chosen whereby to glorify his grace in
the salvation of poor sinners. That God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
thought good, for the glory of free grace and wisdom, in a way of
justice and mercy, to send Jesus Christ to assume man's nature, and so
become God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever;
and to become under the law, to undergo the curse thereof, and to die
the cursed death of the cross, to satisfy justice, and pay the ransom
for the redemption of the elect. In which undertaking our Lord was a
servant, Isa. xlii. 1, and xlix. 6, and lii. 13, and liii. 11. Zech.
iii. 8. Matt. xii. 18; and had furniture from God for all his
undertaking, Isa. xlii. 1, and lxi. 1, 2. Matt. xii. 18; and had a
promise of seeing his seed, and of prolonging his days, &c. Isa. xliii.
10, 11. Thus there was a covenant of redemption betwixt God and the
Mediator; and the Mediator undertaking, was obliged to perform all that
he undertook, and accordingly did so. For, as the Lord laid on him, or
caused to meet together on him, "the iniquity of us all," Isa. liii. 6,
so in due time "he bare our griefs, and carried our sorrows. He was
wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, the
chastisement of our peace was upon him. He was cut off out of the land
of the living, and stricken for the transgression of his people; he made
his soul an offering for sin, and bare the iniquities of his people.
Pouring out his soul unto death he bare the sin of many, and made
intercession for the transgressors," Isa. liii. 4, 5, 10, 11, 12. So
"that what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh,
God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, for sin (or by
a sacrifice for sin) condemned sin in the flesh," Rom. viii. 3, "that
the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us," verse 4. Thus
"he made him sin (or a sacrifice for sin) that we might become
righteous," 2 Cor. v. 20; and "he was once offered to bear the sins of
many," Heb. ix. 28; and "he, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself
without spot to God," verse 14, and "his own self bare our sins in his
own body on the tree," 1 Pet. ii. 24. There must, I say, be some
knowledge of, and acquaintance with this great mystery of the gospel,
wherein is declared "the manifold wisdom of God," Eph. iii. 10, and with
the noble design of God, in sending his Son, after this manner, to die
the death, that condemned sinners might live, and return to the bosom of
God; as redeemed "not with gold or silver, or corruptible things but
with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and
without spot," 1 Pet. i. 18. And being "so redeemed by blood, to become
kings and priests unto God," 1 Pet. ii. 2. Rev. v. 9, 10. The man must
not be ignorant of this, else all will be in vain. I do not determine
how distinct and full this knowledge must be; but sure there must be so
much knowledge of it, as will give the soul ground of hope, and, in
expectation of salvation by this way, cause it turn its back upon all
other ways, and account itself happy if it could once win here.

6. There must be a persuasion of the sufficiency, completeness and
satisfactoriness of the way of salvation through this crucified
Mediator, else the soul will not be induced to leave its other courses,
and betake itself to this alone. He must be sure that salvation is only
to be had this way, and that undoubtedly it will be had this way, that
so with confidence he may cast himself over on this way, and sweetly
sing of a noble outgate. And therefore he must believe, that Christ is
really God as well as man, and a true man as well as God; that he is
fully furnished for the work of redemption, having the Spirit given to
him without measure; and endued fully and richly with all qualifications
fitting for all our necessities, and enabling him to "save to the
uttermost all that come unto God by him," Heb. vii. 25; that "he is made
of God to us wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification," 1 Cor. i. 30;
that "all power in heaven and in earth is given unto him," Matt. xxviii.
18; that "all things are put under his feet;" and that "he is given to
be Head over all things to the church," Eph. i. 22; that "in him
dwelleth all fulness," Col. i. 19; that "in him are hid all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge," Col. ii. 3; yea, "that in him
dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;" so that we are
"complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power," verses
9, 10.

7. The soul must know that he is not only an able and all-sufficient
Mediator, but that also he is willing and ready to redeem and save all
that will come. For all the preceding particulars will but increase his
sorrow and torment him more, so long as he supposeth, through ignorance
and the suggestion of Satan, that he hath no part in that redemption, no
access to it, no ground of hope of salvation by it. Therefore it is
necessary that the soul conceive not only a possibility, but also a
probability of help this way, and that the dispensation of the gospel of
grace, and the promulgation and offer of these good news to him, speak
out so much, that the patience of God waiting long, and his goodness
renewing the offers, confirmeth this; that his serious pressing, his
strong motives, on the one hand, and his sharp threatenings on the
other; his reiterated commands, his ingeminated obtestations; his
expressed sorrow and grief over such as would not come to him; his
upbraiding and objurations of such as do obstinately refuse, and the
like, put his willingness to save such as will come to him out of all
question. Yea, his obviating of objections, and taking all excuses out
of their mouth, maketh the case plain and manifest, so that such as will
not come are left without excuse, and have no impediment lying in the
way but their own unwillingness.

8. The man must know upon what terms and conditions Christ offereth
himself in the gospel, viz. upon condition of accepting of him,
believing in him, and resting upon him; and that no other way we can be
made partakers of the good things purchased by Christ, but by accepting
of him as he is offered in the gospel, that is to say, freely, "without
price or money," Isa. lv. 1, absolutely without reservation, wholly, and
for all ends, &c. For, till this be known, there will be no closing with
Christ; and till there be a closing with Christ, there is no advantage
to be had by him. The soul must be married to him as an husband, fixed
to him as the branches to the tree, united to him as the members to the
head, become one with him, "one spirit," 1 Cor. vi. 17. See John xv. 5.
Eph. v. 30. The soul must close with him for all things, adhere to him
upon all hazards, take him and the sharpest cross that followeth him.
Now, I say, the soul must be acquainted with these conditions; for it
must act deliberately and rationally here. Covenanting with Christ is a
grave business, and requireth deliberation, posedness of soul, rational
resolution, full purpose of heart, and satisfaction of soul, and
therefore the man must be acquainted with the conditions of the new
covenant.

9. There must be a satisfaction with the terms of the gospel, and the
heart must actually close with Christ as he is offered in the gospel.
The heart must open to him, and take him in, Rev. iii. 20. The soul must
embrace and receive him, John i. 12. The man must take him as his Lord
and Master, King, Priest, and Prophet; must give up himself to him as
his leader and commander, and resolve to follow him in all things, and
thus close a bargain with him; for, till this be done, there is no union
with Christ, and, till there be an union with Christ, there is no
partaking of the fruits of his redemption as to justification, no
pardon, no acceptance, no access to the favour of God, nor peace nor joy
in the Holy Ghost, no getting of the conscience sprinkled, nor no
intimation of love or favour from God, &c.

10. There must be a leaning to and resting upon him and on his perfect
sacrifice. The soul must sit down here as satisfied, and acquiesce in
this complete mediation of his. This is to believe on him, to rest on
him, John iii. 18. 1 Pet. ii. 6, as an all-sufficient help. This is to
cast the burden of a broken covenant, of a guilty conscience, of
deserved wrath, of the curse of the law, &c. upon him, that he may bear
away those evils from us. This is to put on the Lord Jesus (in part),
Rom. xiii. 14; to cover ourselves with his righteousness from the face
of justice, to stand in this armour of proof against the accusations of
law, Satan, and an evil conscience. This is to flee to him as our city
of refuge, that we may be safe from the avenger of blood. This is to
make him our refuge from the storm of God's anger, and a shadow from the
heat of his wrath, Isa. xxv. 4, and "our hiding-place from the wind, and
a covert from the tempest," and as the "shadow of a great rock in a
weary land," Isa. xxxii. 2. When we hide ourselves in him as the
complete cautioner that hath fully satisfied justice, and "desire to be
found in him alone, not having our own righteousness, which is of the
law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness
which is of God by faith," Phil. iii. 9. This is to lay our hand on the
head of the sacrifice, when we rest on this sacrifice, and expect
salvation through it alone. This is to cast ourselves in Christ's arms,
as peremptorily resolving to go no other way to the Father, and to plead
no other righteousness before God's bar but Christ's; that is faith,
yea, the lively acting of justifying faith.

Thus then is Christ made use of as the way to the Father, in the point
of justification, when the poor awakened sinner, convinced of his sin
and misery, of his own inability to help himself, of the insufficiency
of all means beside Christ, of Christ's all-sufficiency, readiness, and
willingness to help, of the equity and reasonableness of the conditions
on which he is offered, and life through him, is now content and fully
satisfied with this way, actually renouncing all other ways whatsoever,
and doth with heart and hand embrace Jesus Christ, and take him as he is
offered in the gospel, to make use of him for all things, to Jean to
him, and rest upon him in all hazards, and particularly, to refuge
itself under his wings, and to rest there with complacency,
satisfaction, and delight, and hide itself from the wrath of God and all
accusations.

Yet it should be known, that this act of faith, whereby the soul goeth
out to Christ, and accepteth of and leaneth to him, is not alike in all.

1. In some it may be more lively, strong and active, like the
centurion's faith, that could argue syllogistically, Matt. viii. 8, &c,
which Christ looked upon as a great faith, a greater whereof he had not
found, no not in Israel, verse 10; and like the faith of the woman of
Canaan, Matt. xv. 21, &c, that would take no naysay, but of seeming
refusals did make arguments, which Christ commendeth as a great faith,
verse 28. But in others it may be more weak and fainting, not able to
reason aright for its own comfort and strength, as Matt, vi. 30, but is
mixed with much fear, as Matt. viii. 26, yea, and with much
faithfulness, so that the soul must cry, "Lord, help my unbelief!" Mark
ix. 24.

2. In some the acts and actings of this faith may be more clear and
discernible, both by themselves, and by spiritual onlookers; in others,
so covered over with a heap of doubts, unbelief, jealousy, and other
corruption, that the actings of it can hardly, or not at all, be
perceived by themselves or others; so that nothing shall be heard but
complaints, fears, doubtings, and objections.

3. In some, this faith may have strong and perceptible actings,
wrestling through much discouragement and opposition, and many
difficulties; as in the woman of Canaan, Matt. xv.; running through with
peremptory resoluteness, saying, with Job, chap. xiii. 15, "Though he
slay me, yet will I trust in him;" and thus taking the kingdom of heaven
with violence. In others it may be so weak, that the least opposition or
discouragement may be sufficient to make the soul give over hope, and
almost despair of overcoming and winning through, and be as a bruised
reed or a smoking flax.

4. In some, though it appear not strong and violent or wilful (in a
manner) in its actings, yet it may be firm, fixed, and resolute in
staying upon him, Isa. xxvi. 3, 4, and trusting in him, Psalm cxxv. 1,
resolving to hing there, and if it perish, it perisheth; in others weak
and bashful.

5. In some it may be yet weaker, going out in strong and vehement
hungerings, Matt. v. 6. The man dare not say, that he doth believe or
that he doth adhere to Christ and stay upon him; yet he dare say, he
longeth for him, and panteth after him, as ever "the hart doth after the
water-brooks," Psalm xlii. 1, 2; he hungereth and thirsteth for him, and
cannot be satisfied with any thing without him.

6. In some, it may be so weak, that the soul can only perceive the heart
looking out after him; upon little more ground than a maybe it shall be
helped, Isa. xlv. 22. They look to him for salvation, being convinced
that there is no other way; and resolved to follow no other way, they
resolve to lie at his door, waiting and looking for a sight of the
king's face, and to lie waiting till they die, if no better may be.

7. In some, it may be so weak, that nothing more can be perceived but a
satisfaction with the terms of the covenant, a willingness to accept of
the bargain, and an heart consenting thereunto, though they dare not
say that they actually close therewith, yea, nor dare say that they
shall be welcome, Rev. xxii. 17.

8. In some, it may be so weak and low, that they cannot say that they
have any right hunger or desire after him, nor that their heart doth
rightly and really consent to the covenant of grace; yet they would fain
be at it, and cry out, O for a willing heart! O for ardent desires! O
for a right hunger! and they are dissatisfied, and cannot be reconciled
with their hearts for not desiring more, hungering more, consenting
more; so that, if they had this, they would think themselves happy and
up-made. And thus we see their faith is so low, that it appeareth in
nothing more manifestly, than in their complainings of the want of it.

So then, the poor weak believer needeth not to be so far discouraged as
to despair and give over the matter as hopeless and lost; let him hang
on, depend and wait. A weak faith to-day may become stronger within a
short time. He that laid the foundation can and will finish the
building, for all his works are perfect. And a weak faith, when true,
will prove saving, and lay hold on a saving strong Mediator.

Moreover, as to the acting of faith on Christ's death and sacrifice for
the stopping the mouth of conscience, law, Satan, and for the opposing
to the pursuing justice of God because of sin, it may sometimes be
strong, distinct, clear, and resolute; at other times again be weak,
mixed, or accompanied with much fear, perplexity, doubting, and
distrust, because of their own seen unworthiness, many failings,
doubtings of the sincerity of their repentance, and the like.

This is a main business, and of great concernment, yet many are not much
troubled about it, nor exercised at the heart hereabout, as they ought,
deceiving themselves with foolish imaginations: For,

1. They think they were believers all their days, they never doubted of
God's grace and good-will, they had always a good heart for God, though
they never knew what awakened conscience, or sense of the wrath of God
meant.

2. Or they think, because God is merciful, he will not be so severe as
to stand upon all those things that ministers require; forgetting that
he is a just God, and a God of truth, that will do according to what he
hath said.

3. Or they suppose it is an easy matter to believe, and not such a
difficult thing as it is called; not considering or believing, that no
less power than that which raised Christ from the dead, will work up the
heart unto faith.

4. Or they resolve, that they will do it afterward, at some more
convenient season; not perceiving the cunning slight of Satan in this,
nor considering, that faith is not in their power, but the gift of God;
and that, if they lay not hold on the call of God, but harden their
heart in their day, God may judicially blind them, so that these things
shall be hid from their eyes; and so that occasion, they pretend to wait
for, never come.

Oh! if such whom this mainly concerneth, could be induced to enter into
this way; considering,

1. That except they enter into this way they cannot be safe, the wrath
of God will pursue them, the avenger of blood will overtake them; no
salvation but here.

2. That in this way is certain salvation; this way will infallibly lead
to the Father; for he keepeth in the way, and bringeth safe home, Exod.
xxiii. 20.

3. 'Tis the old path and the good way, Jer. vi. 16; all the saints have
the experience of this, who are already come to glory. And,

4. It is a highway, and a way of righteousness, wherein, if very fools
walk, they shall not wander, Isa. xxxv. 8, 9, and if the weak walk in
it, they shall not faint, Isa. xl. 31.

5. That except this be done, there is no advantage to be had by him; his
death and all his sufferings, as to those persons that will not believe
and enter into him as the way to the Father, are in vain.

6. Yea, such as will not believe in him say, in effect, either that
Christ hath not died nor consecrated a way through the vail of his
flesh; or, that all that he hath done and suffered is not sufficient to
bring a soul home to God; or that they can do their own business without
him, and that it was a foolish and vain thing for Christ to die the
death for that end; or, lastly, that they care not for salvation; they
are indifferent whether they perish or be saved.

7. That, as to them, the whole gospel is in vain, all the ordinances,
all the administration of ordinances, all the pains of ministers, are in
vain.

8. That, as to them, all Christ's intreaties, motives, allurements,
patience and long-suffering, his standing at the door and knocking till
his locks be wet with the dew, &c. are in vain; yea, they are
contemptuously rejected, despised, slighted, and undervalued.

9. That all the great promises are by such rejected as untrue, or as not
worthy the seeking or having; and that all the threatenings, on the
other hand, are not to be regarded or feared.

10. In a word, that heaven and the fellowship of God is not worth the
seeking, and that hell and the fellowship of devils is not worth the
fearing; or, that there is neither a heaven nor a hell, and that all are
but fictions; and that there is no such thing as the wrath of God
against sinners, or that it is not much to be feared.

If it be asked, what warrant have poor sinners to lay hold on Christ,
and grip to him, as made of God righteousness?

I answer, 1. our absolute necessity of him is a ground to press us to go
and seek help and relief: we see we are gone in ourselves, and therefore
are we allowed to seek out for help elsewhere.

2. Christ's all-sufficient furniture, whereby he is a qualified
Mediator, fitted with all necessaries for our case and condition, having
laid down a price to the satisfaction of justice, is a sufficient
invitation for us to look toward him for help, and to wait at that door.

3. His being appointed of the Father to be Mediator of the covenant, and
particularly, to lay down his life a ransom for sin; and Christ's
undertaking all his offices, and performing all the duties thereof,
conform to the covenant of redemption, is a strong encouragement to poor
sinners to come to him, because he cannot deny himself, and he will be
true to his trust.

4. The Father's offering of him to us in the gospel, and Christ's
inviting us who are weary and heavy laden; yea, calling and commanding
such to come to him in his own and in his Father's name, under the pain
of his and his Father's wrath and everlasting displeasure; exhorting
further, and requesting upon terms of love, pressing earnestly by many
motives, sending out his ambassadors to beseech in his stead poor
sinners to be reconciled, and to turn in to him for life and salvation;
yea, upbraiding such as will not come to him. All these are a sufficient
warrant for a poor necessitous sinner to lay hold on his offer.

And, further, to encourage poor souls to come unto him, all things are
so well ordered in the gospel, as that nothing occurreth that can in the
least prove a stumbling-block or a just ground of excuse for their
forbearing to believe and to accept of his offers. All objections
possible are obviated to such as are but willing; the way is cast up,
and all stones of stumbling cast out of it; so that such as will not
come can pretend no excuse. They cannot object the greatness of their
sins: for the greater their sins be they have the greater need of one
who is sent to take away sin, and whose blood purgeth from all sin, 1
John i. 7. What great sinner did he ever refuse that came to him, and
was willing to be saved by him? Is there any clause in all the gospel
excluding great sinners? Nor need they object their great unworthiness;
for he doth all freely for the glory of his free grace. None ever got
any good of him for their worth; for no man ever had any worth. Nor need
they object their long refusing and resisting many calls; for he will
make such as are willing welcome at the eleventh hour; him that cometh
he will in no case put away, John vi. 37. Nor can they object their
changeableness, that they will not stand to the bargain, but break and
return with the dog to the vomit; for Christ hath engaged to bring all
through that come unto him; he will raise them up at the last day, John
vi. 40; he will present them to himself holy and without spot or
wrinkle, or any such thing, Eph. v. The covenant is fully provided with
promises to stop the mouth of that objection. Nor can they object the
difficulty or impossibility of believing; for that is Christ's work
also, he "is the author and finisher of faith," Heb. xii. 1. Can they
not with confidence cast themselves upon him; yet if they can hunger and
thirst for him, and look to him, he will accept of that; "look to me,"
says he, "and be saved," Isa. xlv. 22. If they cannot look to him, nor
hunger and thirst for him, yet if they be willing, all is well. Are they
willing that Christ save them in his way, and therefore willingly give
themselves over to him, and are willing and content that Christ, by his
Spirit, work more hunger in them, and a more lively faith, and work both
to will and to do according to his own good pleasure, it is well.

But it will be said, that the terms and conditions on which he offereth
himself are hard. Answer--I grant the terms are hard to flesh and blood,
and to proud unmortified nature; but to such as are willing to be saved,
so as God may be most glorified, the terms are easy, most rational and
satisfying: for,

1. We are required to take him only for our Mediator, and to join none
with him, and to mix nothing with him. Corrupt nature is averse from
this, and would at least mix something of self with him, and not rest on
Christ only: corrupt nature would not have the man wholly denying
himself, and following Christ only. And hence many lose themselves, and
lose all; because, with the Galatians, they would mix the law and the
gospel together; do something themselves for satisfaction of justice,
and take Christ for the rest that remains. Now, the Lord will have all
the glory, as good reason is, and will have none to share with him; he
will give of his glory to none. And is not this rational and easy? What
can be objected against this?

2. We are required to take him wholly, that he may be a complete
Mediator to us; as a prophet to teach, as a king to subdue our lusts, to
cause us to walk in his ways, as well as a priest to satisfy justice for
us, to die and intercede for us. Is it not reason that we take him as
God hath made him for us? Is there any thing in him to be refused? And
is there any thing in him which we have no need of? Is there not all the
reason then in the world for this, that we take him wholly? And what
stumbling-block is here?

3. We are required to take him freely, "without money and without
price," Isa. lv. 1, for he will not be bought any manner of way; that
free grace may be free grace, therefore he will give all freely. True
enough it is, corruption would be at buying, though it have nothing to
lay out. Pride will not stoop to a free gift. But can any say the terms
are hard, when all is offered freely?

4. We are required to take them absolutely, without any reversion of
mental reservation. Some would willingly quit all but one or two lusts
they cannot think to twin with; and they would deny themselves in many
things, but they would still most willingly keep a back-door open to
some beloved lust or other. And who seeth not what double dealing is
here? And what reason can plead for this double dealing? Corruption, it
is true, will think this hard, but no man can rationally say that this
is a just ground of discouragement to any, or a sufficient ground to
warrand them to stay away from Christ, seeing they cannot be supposed
sincerely to desire redemption from any sin, who would not desire
redemption from every sin. He who loveth any known lust, and would not
willingly be delivered therefrom, hath no real hatred at any lust, as
such, nor desire to be saved; for one such lust would be his death.

5. It is required, that we accept of him really and cordially, with our
heart and soul, and not by a mere external verbal profession, And is
there not all the reason in the world for this? He offereth himself
really to us, and shall we not be real in accepting of him? What, I
pray, can be justly excepted against this? or, what real discouragement
can any gather from this?

6. We are to take him for all necessaries, that is, with a resolution to
make use of him as our all-sufficient Mediator. And is not this most
reasonable? Ought we not to take him for all the ends and purposes for
which God hath appointed him, and set him forth, and offered him to us?
What then can any suppose to lie here which should scar a soul from
laying hold upon him? Nay, should not this be looked upon as a very
great encouragement? And should we not bless the Lord, that hath
provided such a complete and all-sufficient Mediator?

7. We are to take him and all the crosses that may attend our taking or
following of him; we must take up our cross, be it what it will that he
thinketh good to appoint to us, and follow him, Matt. xvi. 24. Mark
viii. 34. "For he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth not after
him, is not worthy of him," Matt. x. 38. I know flesh and blood will
take this for a hard saying; but they that consider, that Christ will
bear the heaviest end of the cross, yea, all of it, and so support them
by his Spirit while they are under it, that they shall have no just
cause to complain; and how he will suffer none to go his errand upon
their own charges, but will be with them when they go through the fire
and water, Isa. xliii. 2, so that they shall suffer no loss, neither
shall the waters overflow them, nor the fire kindle upon them; and that
he who loseth his life for Christ's sake and the gospel's, shall save
it, Mark viii. 35; yea, that they shall receive an hundred-fold for all
their losses, Matt. xix. 29, and that even with persecution, Mark x. 30,
and, in the world to come, eternal life. They, I say, who consider this,
will see no discouragement here, nor ground of complaint; nay, they will
account it their glory to suffer any loss for Christ's sake.

8. Hence it followeth, that we are to take him, so as to avouch him and
his cause and interest on all hazards, stand to his truth, and not be
ashamed of him in a day of trial. Confession of him must be made with
the mouth, as with the heart we must believe, Rom. x. 9. Let corruption
speak against this what it will, because it is always desirous to keep
the skin whole. Yet reason cannot but say that it is equitable,
especially seeing he hath said, that "whosoever confesseth him before
men, he will confess them before his Father which is in heaven," Matt.
x. 32. And that, "If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him,"
2 Tim. ii. 12. Is he our Lord and master, and should we not own and
avouch him? Should we be ashamed of him for any thing, that can befall
us, upon that account? What master would not take that ill at his
servant's hands?

Hence, then, we see, that there is nothing in all the conditions on
which he offereth himself to us, that can give the least ground, in
reason, why a poor soul should draw back, and be unwilling to accept of
this noble offer, or think that the conditions are hard.

But there is one main objection, which may trouble some, and that is,
they cannot believe; faith being the gift of God, it must be wrought in
them; how then can they go to God for this, and make use of Christ for
this end, that their souls may be wrought up to a believing and
consenting to the bargain, and hearty accepting of the offer?

To this I would say these things:

1. It is true, that "faith is the gift of God," Eph. ii. 8, and that it
is "he alone who worketh in us, both to will and to do," Phil. i. 29,
"and none cometh to the Son, but whom the Father draweth," John vi. 44;
and it is a great matter, and no small advancement, to win to the real
faith, and through conviction of this our impotency. For thereby the
soul will be brought to a greater measure of humiliation, and of
despairing of salvation in itself, which is no small advantage unto a
poor soul that would be saved.

2. Though faith be not in our power, yet it is our duty. Our impotency
to perform our duty, doth not loose our obligation to the duty; so that
our not believing is our sin; and for this God may justly condemn us.
His wrath abideth on all who believe not in his Son Jesus, and will not
accept of the offer of salvation through the crucified Mediator. And
though faith, as all other acts of grace, be efficiently the work of the
Spirit, yet it is formally our work: we do believe; but it is the Spirit
that worketh faith in us.

3. The ordinary way of the Spirit's working faith in us, is by pressing
home the duty upon us, whereby we are brought to a despairing in
ourselves, and to a looking out to him, whose grace alone it is that can
work it in the soul, for that necessary help and breathing, without
which the soul will not come.

4. Christ Jesus hath purchased this grace of faith to all the elect, as
other graces necessary to their salvation; and it is promised and
covenanted to him, "That he shall see his seed, and shall see of the
travail of his soul," Isa. liii. 10; and that by the knowledge of him,
that is, the rational and understanding act of the soul gripping to and
laying hold upon him, as he is offered in the gospel, "many shall be
justified," Isa. liii. 10. Hence he saith, "That all whom the Father
hath given to him, shall come unto him," John vi. 37; and the apostle
tells us, "that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in him,"
Eph. i. 3.

5. Not only hath Christ purchased this grace of faith, and all other
graces necessary for the salvation of the elect, but God hath committed
to him the administration and actual dispensation, and out-giving of all
those graces, which the redeemed stand in need of. Hence "he is a prince
exalted to give repentance and forgiveness of sins," Acts v. 31. "All
power in heaven and earth is committed unto him," Matt, xxviii. 18, 19.
Hence he is called, "the author and finisher of faith," Heb. xii. 2; and
he tells his disciples, John xiv. 13, 14, that whatever they shall ask
in his name, he will do it. He is made a Prince and a Saviour, "having
all judgment committed unto him," John v. 22; and "he is Lord of all,"
Acts x. 36. Rom. xiv. 9.

6. Hereupon the sinner, being convinced of his lost condition through
sin and misery, of an utter impossibility of helping himself out of that
state of death, of Christ's all-sufficiency and willingness to save all
that will come to him, and of its own inability to believe or come to
him for life and salvation, or to lay hold on, and lean to his merits
and satisfaction, and so despairing in himself, is to look out to Jesus,
the author of eternal salvation, the foundation and chief corner-stone,
the author and finisher of faith; I say, the sinner, being thus
convinced, is thus to look out to Jesus; not that that conviction is any
proper qualification prerequisite as necessary, either to prepare,
dispose, and fit for faith, or far less to merit any manner of way, or
bring on faith; but because this is Christ's method to bring a soul to
faith by this conviction, to the glory of his grace. The soul naturally
being averse from Christ, and utterly unwilling to accept of that way of
salvation, must be redacted to that strait, that it shall see, that it
must either accept of this offer or die. As the whole needeth not a
physician, so Christ is come to save only that which is lost; and his
method is to convince the world of sin, in the first place; and then of
righteousness, John xvi. 8, 9.

7. This looking out to Jesus for faith, comprehendeth those things: (1.)
The soul's acknowledgment of the necessity of faith, to the end it may
partake of Christ, and of his merits. (2.) The soul's satisfaction with
that way of partaking of Christ, by a closing with him, and a resting
upon him by faith. (3.) A sense and conviction of the unbelief and
stubbornness of the heart, or a seeing of its own impotency, yea, and
unwillingness to believe. (4.) A persuasion that Christ can over-master
the infidelity and wickedness of the heart, and work up the soul unto a
willing consent unto the bargain. (5.) A hope, or a half-hope (to speak
so) that Christ, who is willing to save all poor sinners that come to
him for salvation; and hath said, that he will put none away in any case
that cometh--will have pity upon him at length. (6.) A resolution to lie
at his door, till he come with life, till he quicken, till he unite the
soul to himself. (7.) A lying open to the breathings of his Spirit, by
guarding against every thing (so far as they can) that may grieve or
provoke him, and waiting on him in all the ordinances, he hath
appointed, for begetting faith; such as reading the Scriptures, hearing
the word, conference with godly persons, and prayer, &c. (8.) A waiting
with patience on him who never said to the house of Jacob, "seek me in
vain," Isa. xlv. 19; still crying and looking to him who hath commanded
the ends of the earth to look to him; and waiting for him who waiteth to
be gracious, Isa. xxx. 18, remembering that they are all blessed that
wait for him; and that "there is much good prepared for them that wait
for him," Isa. lxiv. 4.

8. The sinner would essay this believing, and closing with Christ, and
set about it, as he can, seriously, heartily, and willingly, yea, and
resolutely over the belly of much opposition, and many discouragements,
looking to him who must help, yea, and work the whole work; for God
worketh in and with man as a rational creature. The soul then would set
the willingness it findeth, on work, and wait for more; and as the Lord
is pleased to commend, by his Spirit, the way of grace more unto the
soul, and to warm the heart with love to it, and a desire after it,
strike the iron while it is hot; and, looking to him for help, grip to
Christ in the covenant; and so set to its seal, though with a trembling
hand; and subscribe its name, though with much fear and doubting,
remembering "that he who worketh to will, must work the deed also,"
Phil. ii. 13, "and he that beginneth a good work will perfect it," Phil.
i. 6.

9. The soul essaying thus to believe in Christ's strength, and to creep
when it cannot walk or run, would hold fast what it hath attained, and
resolve never to recall any consent, or half-consent, it hath given to
the bargain, but still look forward, hold on, wrestle against unbelief
and unwillingness, entertain every good motion of the Spirit for this
end, and never admit of any thing that may quench its lodgings, desires,
or expectation.

10. Nay, if the sinner be come this length, that, with the bit
willingness he hath, he consenteth to the bargain, and is not satisfied
with any thing in himself, that draweth back, or consenteth not, and
with the little skill or strength he hath is writing down his name, and
saying, even so I take him; and is holding at this, peremptorily
resolving never to go back, or unsay what he hath said; but, on the
contrary, is firmly purposed to adhere, and as he groweth in strength,
to grip more firmly, and adhere to him, he may conclude that the bargain
is closed already, and that he hath faith already; for here there is an
accepting of Christ on his own terms, a real consenting unto the
covenant of grace, though weak, and not so discernible as the soul would
wish. The soul dare not say but it loveth the bargain, and is satisfied
with it, and longeth for it, and desireth nothing more than that it
might partake thereof, and enjoy him whom it loveth, hungereth for,
panteth after, or breatheth, as it is able, that it may live in him, and
be saved through him.

But some will say, If I had any evidence of God's approbation of this
act of my soul, any testimony of his Spirit, I could then with
confidence say, that I had believed and accepted of the covenant and of
Christ offered therein; but so long as I perceive nothing of this, how
can I suppose, that any motion of this kind in my soul is real faith?

For _Answer_--1. We would know, that our believing, and God's sealing to
our sense, are two distinct acts and separable, and oft separated. Our
believing is one thing, and God's sealing with the Holy Spirit of
promise to our sense, is another thing; and this followeth, though not
inseparably, the other, Eph. i. 13, "In whom also, after that ye
believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise."

And so, 2. We would know, that many a man may believe, and yet not know
that he doth believe. He may set to his seal, that God is true in his
offer of life through Jesus, and accept of that offer as a truth, and
close with it; and yet live under darkness and doubtings of his faith,
long and many a day; partly through not discerning the true nature of
faith; partly through the great sense and feeling of his own corruption
and unbelief; partly through a mistake of the Spirit's operations
within, or the want of a clear and distinct uptaking of the motions of
his own soul; partly because he findeth so much doubting and fear, as if
there could be no faith where there was doubting or fear, contrary to
Mark ix. 24. Matth. viii. 26, and xiv. 31.; partly, because he hath not
that persuasion that others have had, as if there were not various
degrees of faith, as there is of other graces, and the like.

Therefore, 3. We would know, that many may really believe, and yet miss
this sensible sealing of the Spirit which they would be at. God may
think it not yet seasonable to grant them that, lest they forget
themselves and become too proud; and to train them up more to the life
of faith, whereby he may be glorified; and for other holy ends, he may
suspend the giving of this for a time.

4. Yet we would know, that all that believe, have the seal within them,
1 John v. 10, "He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in
himself," that is, he hath that which really is a seal, though he see it
not, nor perceive it not; even the work of God's Spirit in his soul,
inclining and determining him unto the accepting of this bargain, and
to a liking of and endeavouring after holiness; and the whole gospel
clearing up what faith is, is a seal and confirmation of the business.
So that the matter is sealed, and confirmed by the word, though the soul
want those sensible breathings of the Spirit, shedding abroad his love
in the heart, and filling the soul with a full assurance, by hushing all
doubts and fears to the door; yea, though they should be a stranger unto
the Spirit's witnessing thus with their spirits, that they are the
children of God, and clearing up distinctly the real work of grace
within their soul, and so saying in effect, that they have in truth
believed.

But enough of this; seeing all this, and much more is abundantly held
forth and explained, in that excellent and useful treatise of Mr.
Guthrie's, entitled, "The Christian's Great Interest."



CHAPTER V.

HOW CHRIST IS TO BE MADE USE OF, AS THE WAY, FOR SANCTIFICATION IN
GENERAL.


Having shown how a poor soul, lying under the burden of sin and wrath,
is to make use of Jesus Christ for righteousness and justification, and
so to make use of him, go out to him, and apply him, as "he is made of
God to us righteousness," 1 Cor. i. 30, and that but briefly. This whole
great business being more fully and satisfactorily handled, in that
forementioned great, though small treatise, viz. "The Christian's Great
Interest," we shall now come and show, how a believer or a justified
soul shall further make use of Christ for sanctification, this being a
particular about which they are oftentimes much exercised and perplexed.

That we may therefore, in some weak measure, through the help of this
light and grace, propose some things to clear up this great and
necessary truth, we shall first speak a little to it in the general, and
then come to clear up the matter more particularly.

Before we speak of the matter in general, it would be remembered, 1.
That the person who only is in case to make use of Christ for
sanctification, is one that hath made use of him already for
righteousness and justification. For one who is a stranger to Christ,
and is living in nature, hath no access to Christ for sanctification. He
must be a believer, and within the covenant, ere he can make use of the
grounds of sanctification laid down in the covenant. One must first be
united to Christ, and justified by faith in him, before he can draw any
virtue from him for perfecting holiness. He must first be in him, before
he can grow up in him, or bring forth fruit in him. And therefore the
first thing that souls would go about, should be to get an union made up
with Christ, and be clothed with his righteousness by faith; and then
they have a right to all his benefits. _First_, they should labour to
get their state changed from enmity to peace and reconciliation with
God, through faith in Jesus.

Yet, _next_, it would be observed, that when it is said, that one must
be a believer before he can go to Christ, and make use of him for
holiness and sanctification, it is not so understood and said, that one
must know, that indeed he is justified by faith, before he can make any
use of Christ for sanctification. One may be justified, and a believer,
yea, and growing in grace through Jesus Christ, and so actually
improving the grounds of sanctification, and making use of Christ for
this end, and allowed thereunto, and yet win to no certainty of his
union with Christ, of his justification through faith in him, nor of his
faith.

But, _thirdly_, if it be said, How can a soul with confidence approach
to Christ, for use-making of him, in reference to sanctification, that
is, still doubting of his state and regeneration?

I answer, It is true, a clear sight of our interest in Christ by faith,
would be a great encouragement to our confident approaching to, and
use-making of him, in all things; and this consideration should move all
to a more earnest search and study of the marks and evidences of their
interest; a good help whereunto they will find in the forementioned
book. I shall only say this here, That if the soul have an earnest
desire to be sanctified wholly, and to have on the image of God, that he
may glorify him, and panteth after holiness as for life, that he may
look like him that is holy, and maketh this his work and study;
sorrowing at nothing more than at his shortcoming; crying out and
longing for the day when he shall be delivered from a body of death, and
have the old man wholly crucified; he needeth not question his interest
in Christ, and warrant to make use of him for every part of
sanctification; for this longing desire after conformity to God's law,
and panting after this spiritual life, to the end God may be exalted,
Christ glorified, and others edified, will not be readily found in one
that is yet in nature. It is true, I grant, some who design to establish
their own righteousness, and to be justified by their own works and
inherent holiness, may wish that they may be more holy and less guilty;
and for some other corrupt ends, they may desire to be free of the power
of some lust, which they find noxious and troublesome; and yet retain
with love and desire, some other beloved lusts, and so have a heart
still cleaving to the heart of some detestable thing or other. But
gracious souls, as they have respect to all the commands of God, so they
have not that design of being justified before God by their works; nor
do they study mortification, and sanctification for any such end; nay,
they no sooner discover any bias of their false deceitful hearts unto
any such end, but as soon they disown it, and abhor it. So that hence
believers may get some discovery of the reality of their faith and
interest in Christ, and of their warrant, yea, and duty to make use of
Christ for sanctification.

This premised, we come to speak something, in the general, of believer's
use-making of Christ, as made of God to us sanctification. And for this
end, we shall only speak a little to two things. _First_, We shall show
upon what account it is that Christ is called our sanctification, or,
"made of God to us sanctification," as the apostle's phrase is, 1 Cor.
i. 30; or, what Christ hath done as Mediator, to begin, and carry on to
perfection the work of sanctification in the soul. And, _secondly,_ How
the soul is to demean itself in this matter, or how the soul is to make
use of, and improve what Christ hath done, for this end, that it may
grow in grace, and perfect holiness in the fear of God.

As to the _first,_ we would know, that though the work of sanctification
be formally ours, yet it is wrought by another hand, as the principal
efficient cause, even by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Father is
said to purge the branches, that they may bring forth more fruit, John
xv. 1. Hence we are said to be sanctified by God the Father, Jude 1. The
Son is also called the Sanctifier, Heb. ii. 21. He sanctifieth and
cleanseth the Church with the washing of water by the word, Eph. v. 26.
The Spirit is also said to sanctify, 2 Thes. ii. 13. 1 Pet. i. 2. Rom.
xv. 16. Hence we are said to be washed and sanctified by the Spirit of
God, 1 Cor. vi. 11.

But more particularly, we are said to be sanctified in Christ, 1 Cor. i.
2; and "he is made of God to us sanctification," 1 Cor. i. 30. Let us
then see in what sense this may be true. And,

1. He hath by his death and blood procured that this work of
sanctification shall be wrought and carried on. For "he suffered without
the gate, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood," Heb.
xiii. 12. "We are saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of
the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our
Saviour," Titus iii. 5, 6. "He gave himself for us, that he might redeem
us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous
of good works," Tit. ii. 14. Thus our sanctification is the fruit of his
death, and purchased by his blood. "He gave himself for his church, that
he might sanctify it," Eph. v. 25, 26.

2. He dying as a cautioner and public person, believers are accounted in
law to be dead to sin in him. Hence the apostle tells us, Rom. vi. 3-6,
that as many of us as are baptised into Jesus Christ, were baptized into
his death; and that therefore we are buried with him by baptism into
death; and are planted together in the likeness of his death; yea, and
that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be
destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Whence believers are
warranted and commanded, verse 11, to reckon themselves "to be dead
indeed unto sin;" and therefore sin should "not reign in their mortal
bodies to fulfil the lusts thereof," verse 12. This is a sure ground of
hope and comfort for believers, that Christ died thus as a public
person; and that by virtue thereof, being now united to Christ by faith,
they are dead to sin by law; and sin cannot challenge a dominion over
them, as before their conversion it might have done, and did; for the
law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth, but no longer.
Wherefore believing brethren "becoming dead to the law by the body of
Christ, are married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead,
that they should bring forth fruit unto God," Rom. vii. 1-4.

3. Hence it followeth, that our "old man is crucified with Christ, that
the body of sin might be destroyed," Rom. vi. 6. So that this old tyrant
that oppresseth the people of God, hath got his death wounds, in the
crucifixion of Christ, and shall never recover his former vigour and
activity, to oppress and bear down the people of God, as he did. He is
now virtually, through the death of Jesus, killed and crucified, being
in Christ nailed to the cross.

4. His resurrection is a pawn and pledge of this sanctification. For as
he died as a public person, so he rose again as a public person. "We are
buried with him by baptism, that like as Christ was raised up from the
dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness
of life," Rom. vi. 4; and believers are said to be "planted together
with him, in the likeness of his resurrection," verse 5; "and they shall
live with him," verse 8; "and therefore they are to reckon themselves
alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord," verse 11. "We are raised
up together," Eph. ii. 6.

5. This sanctification is an article of the covenant of redemption
betwixt the Father and the Son, Isa. lii. 15, "So shall he sprinkle many
nations." Chap. liii. 10, "He shall see his seed, and the pleasure of
the Lord shall prosper in his hand." Christ, then, having this promised
to him, must see to the accomplishment thereof, and will have it granted
to him; seeing he hath fulfilled all that was engaged to by him--having
made his soul an offering for sin.

6. This sanctification is promised in the covenant of grace, Jer.
xxxiii. 8. "And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity." Ezek.
xxxvii. 23, "And I will cleanse them." So chap. xxxvi. 25, "Then will I
sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your
filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you." Now all the
promises of the covenant of grace are confirmed to us in the Mediator.
For, "in him all the promises of the covenant are yea and amen," 2 Cor.
i. 20.

7. He hath purchased and made sure to his own, the new nature, and the
heart of flesh, which is also promised, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, and xi. 19.
Jer. xxxii. 39. This is the new and lively principle of grace, the
spring of sanctification, which cannot be idle in the soul; but must be
emitting vital acts natively.

Yea, through him, are believers made partakers of the divine nature,
which is a growing thing,--young glory in the soul, 2 Pet. i. 3,4,
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that
pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath
called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given unto us exceeding great
and precious promises, that by these we might be made partakers of the
divine nature," &c.

8. The Spirit is promised, to cause us walk in his statutes, Ezek. xlvi.
27. Now all these promises are made good to us in Christ, who is the
cautioner of the covenant; yea, he hath gotten now the dispensing and
giving out of the rich promises of the covenant, committed unto him; so
as he is the great and glorious custodier of all purchased blessings.

9. There are new waterings, breathings, and gales of the Spirit, given
in Christ, Isa. xxvii. 3. He must water his garden or vineyard every
moment. This is the north wind and the south wind that bloweth upon the
garden, Cant. iv. 16. He must be as the dew unto Israel, Hos. xiv. 5.

10. Through Christ is the believer brought into such a covenant state,
as giveth great ground of hope of certain victory. He is not now under
the law, but under grace; and hence inferreth the apostle, Rom. vi. 14,
"That sin shall not have dominion over them." Being now under that
dispensation of grace, whereby all their stock is in the Mediator's
hand, and at his disposal; and not in their own hand and power, as under
the covenant of works, there is a sure ground laid down for constant
supply and furniture in all necessities.

11. Christ hath prayed for this, John xvii. 17, "Sanctify them through
thy truth;" where the Lord is praying, that his disciples might be more
and more sanctified, and so fitted and qualified for the work of the
ministry they were to be employed in. And what he prayed for them, was
not for them alone, but also for the elect, proportionably, who are
opposed to the world, for which he did not pray, verse 9.

12. He standeth to believers in relation of a vine, or a root, in which
they grow as branches, so that by abiding in him, living by faith in
him, and drawing sap from him, they bring forth fruit in him, John xv.
1, 2, 4, 5. Their stock of grace is in him, the root; and he
communicateth sap and life unto his branches, whereby they grow,
flourish, and bring forth fruit to the glory of God.

13. Christ hath taken on him the office of a prophet and teacher, to
instruct us in the way wherein we ought to go; for he is that great
prophet whom the Lord promised to raise up, and who was to be heard and
obeyed in all things, Deut. xviii. 15. Acts iii. 22, and vii. 37. "He is
given for a witness, and a leader," Isa. lv. 4; and we are commanded to
hear him, Matt, xvii. 5. Mark x. 7.

14. He hath also taken on him the office of a king, Psal. ii. 6. Matt,
xxviii. 5. Isa. ix. 7. Phil. ii. 8-11. and thereby standeth engaged to
subdue all their spiritual enemies, Satan and corruption, Psal. cx. He
is given for a leader and commander, Isa. lv. 5, and so can cause his
people walk in his ways.

15. When we defile ourselves with new transgressions and failings, he
hath provided a fountain for us to wash in; "a fountain opened to the
house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for
uncleanness," Zech. xiii. 1; and this fountain is his blood, which
cleanseth from all sin, Heb. ix. 14. 1 John i. 7. Rev. i. 5.

16. He is set before us as a copy and pattern, that we "should walk even
as he walked," 1 John ii. 6. "He left us an example that we should
follow his steps," 1 Pet. ii. 21. But we should beware to separate this
consideration from the preceding, as antichristian Socinians do, who
will have Christ only to be a copy.

17. He hath overcome Satan, our arch enemy, and hath destroyed his
works, 1 John iii. 8. He came to destroy the works of the devil; and in
particular, his works of wickedness in the soul. Thus he is a conqueror
and the captain of our salvation.

18. As he hath purchased, so hath he appointed ordinances, for the
laying of the foundation, and carrying on this work of sanctification;
both word and sacraments are appointed for that; the word to convert and
to confirm, John xvii. 17. "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is
truth," said Christ. The word is given as the rule; and also through the
means thereof is life and strength conveyed to the soul, "to perfect
holiness in the fear of God," 1 Pet. ii. 2. And the sacraments are given
to strengthen and confirm the soul in the ways of God.

19. As he hath laid down strong encouragements to his followers, to hold
on in the way of holiness, many great and precious promises, by which
they may be made partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4; and by
which they are encouraged to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of
the flesh and spirit, 2 Cor. vii. 1; and many motives to hold on and
continue; so hath he rolled difficulties out of the way, whether they be
within us, or without us, and thereby made the way easy and pleasant to
such as walk in it; so as they may now run the way of his commandments,
and walk and not weary, and run and not be faint.

Nay, 20. We would remember for our encouragement and confidence, that in
carrying on of this work lieth the satisfaction of the soul, and the
pleasure of the Lord that must prosper in his hand, and thus he seeth
his seed, and hath of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied.

These particulars, rightly considered, will discover unto us, what a
noble ground for sanctification is in Christ laid down for believers,
which they may, and must by faith grip to, that they may grow in grace,
and grow up in Christ, and perfect holiness; and what a wonderful
contrivance of grace this is, wherein all things are made so sure for
believers, Christ becoming all things to them, and paving a royal and
sure way for them; sure for them, and glorious to himself!

As to the second particular, that is, how believers are to carry in this
matter, or how they are to make use of Christ, and of those grounds of
sanctification in Christ, which we have mentioned:

_First,_ There are some things which they should beware of, and guard
against; as,

1. They should beware of an heartless despondency, and giving way to
discouragement, and hearkening to the language of unbelief, or to the
suggestion of Satan, whereby he will labour to persuade them of the
impossibility of getting the work of sanctification throughed, or any
progress made therein to purpose. Satan and a deceitful heart can soon
muster up many difficulties, and allege that there are many lions, many
insuperable difficulties in the way, to discourage them from venturing
forward; and if Satan prevail here, he hath gained a great point.
Therefore the believer should keep up his head in hope, and beware of
multiplying discouragements to himself, or of concluding the matter
impossible; for then shall he neither have heart nor hand for the work,
but sit down and wring his hands as overcome with discouragement and
despondency of spirit.

2. They should beware of wilfully rejecting their own mercies, and
forbearing to make use of the grounds of hope, of strength and progress
in the matter of sanctification, which Christ hath allowed them to make
use of. There is such an evil among God's children, that they scar at
that which Christ out of great love hath provided for them, and dare not
with confidence make use of, nor apply to themselves the great and
comfortable promises, to the end they might be encouraged; they will
not take their allowance, as thinking themselves unworthy; and that it
would be presumption in them to challenge a right to such great things;
and they think it commendable humility in them, to stand a-back, and so
wilfully refuse the advantages and helps, that make so much for their
growth in grace.

3. They should beware of a careless neglect of the means appointed for
advancing in holiness; for, though the means do not work the effect, yet
it is by the means that God hath chosen to work the work of
sanctification. Here that is to be seen, "that the hand of the diligent
maketh rich; and the field of the slothful is soon grown over with
thorns and nettles; so that poverty cometh as one that travaileth, and
want as an armed man," Prov. xxiv. 30. It is a sinful tempting of God,
to think to be sanctified another way than God hath in his deep wisdom
condescended upon.

4. Yet they should beware of laying too much weight on the means and
ordinances, as if they could effectuate the business. Though the Lord
hath thought fit to work in and by the means, yet he himself must do the
work. Means are but means, and not the principal cause; nor can they
work, but as the principal agent is pleased to make use of them, and to
work by them. When we lean to the means and to instruments, we prejudge
ourselves, by disobliging of God, and provoking him to leave us, that we
may wrestle with the ordinances alone, and find no advantage. Therefore
the soul should guard against this.

5. Albeit the means can do nothing unless he breathe, yet we should
beware not only of neglecting, as we said before, but also of a
slighting way of performing them, without that earnestness and diligence
that is required,--"cursed is he who doth the work of the Lord
negligently," Jer. xlviii. 10. Here then is the special art of
Christianity apparent, to be as diligent, earnest and serious in the use
of the means, as if they could effectuate the matter we were seeking;
and yet to be as much abstracted from them, in our hopes and
expectation, and to be as much leaning on the Lord alone, and depending
on him for the blessing, as if we were using no means at all.

6. They should beware of slighting and neglecting the motions of the
Spirit; for thereby they may lose the best opportunity. They should be
always on the wing, ready to embrace the least motion; and they should
stand always ready, waiting for the breathings of his Spirit, and open
at his call; lest afterward, they be put to call and seek, and not
attain what they would be at, as we see in the spouse, Cant. v. 2, 3, 4,
&c.

7. They should also guard against the quenching of the Spirit, 1 Thess.
v. 12; or grieving of the Spirit, Eph. iv. 30, by their unchristian and
unsuitable carriage; for this will much mar their sanctification. It is
by the Spirit that the work of sanctification is carried on in the soul;
and when this Spirit is disturbed, and put from his work, how can the
work go on? When the motions of this indwelling Spirit are extinguished,
his work is marred and retarded; and when he is grieved, he is hindered
in his work. Therefore souls must guard against unbelief, despondency,
unsuitable and unchristian carriage.

8. Especially they should beware of wasting sins, Psal. li. 10. Sins
against light and conscience, such as David called presumptuous sins,
Psal. xix. 13. They should beware also of savouring any unknown
corruption, or any thing of that kind, that may hinder the work of
sanctification.

_Secondly_, It were useful, and of great advantage for such as would
grow in grace, and advance in the way of holiness, to be living in the
constant conviction,

1. Of the necessity of holiness, "without which no man shall see God,"
Heb. xii. 14. "Nothing entering into the New Jerusalem that defileth,"
Rev. xxi. 7.

2. Of their own inability to do any one act right; how they are not
sufficient of themselves to think any thing as of themselves, 2 Cor.
iii. 5; and that without Christ they can do nothing, John xv. 5.

3. Of the insufficiency of any human help, or means, or way which they
might think good to choose, to mortify aright one corruption, or to give
strength for the discharge of any one duty; for our sufficiency is of
God, 2 Cor. iii. and it is "through the Spirit that we must mortify the
deeds of the body," Rom. viii. 13.

4. And of the treachery and deceitfulness of the heart, which is bent to
follow by-ways, being not only "deceitful above all things, but also
desperately wicked," Jer. xvii. 9.

That by this means, the soul may be jealous of itself, and despair of
doing any thing in its own strength, and so be fortified against that
main evil, which is an enemy to all true sanctification, viz. confidence
in the flesh.

_Thirdly_, The soul will keep its eye fixed on those things:

1. On Christ's all-sufficiency to help; in all cases that "he is able to
save to the uttermost," Heb. vii. 25.

2. On his compassionateness to such as are out of the way; and readiness
to help poor sinners with his grace and strength; and this will keep up
the soul from fainting and despairing.

3. On the commands of holiness; such as those, "cleanse your hand, and
purify your hearts," James iv. 8, and, "be ye holy, for I am holy," 1
Pet. i. 15, 16, and the like; that the authority of God and conscience
to command may set the soul a-work.

4. On the great recompense of reward that is appointed for such as
wrestle on, and endure to the end; and on the great promises of great
things to such as are sanctified, whereof the scriptures are full; that
the soul may be encouraged to run through difficulties, to ride out
storms, to endure hardness, as a good soldier, and to persevere in duty.

5. On the other hand, on the many sad threatenings and denunciations of
wrath, against such as transgress his laws, and on all the sad things
that such as shake off the fear of God and the study of holiness have to
look for, of which the scripture is full; that by this means the soul
may be kept in awe, and spurred forward unto duty, and made the more
willing to shake off laziness.

6. On the rule, the word of God, by which alone we must regulate all our
actions; and this ought to be our meditation day and night, and all our
study, as we see it was David's, and other holy men of God, their daily
work, see Psal. i. and cxix.

_Fourthly_, In all this study of holiness, and aiming at an higher
measure of grace, the believer would level at a right end, and so would
not design holiness for this end, that he might be justified thereby, or
that he might thereby procure and purchase to himself heaven and God's
favour; for the weight of all that must lie on Jesus Christ, who is our
righteousness; and our holiness must not dethrone him, nor rob him of
his glory, which he will not give to another; but would study holiness,
to the end he might glorify God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and
please him who calleth to holiness, and thereby be "meet to be partakers
of the inheritance of the saints in light," Col. i. 10, 12; and be made
a meet bride for such a holy bridegroom, and a member to such an holy
head; that hereby others might be edified, Matt. v. 16. 1 Pet. ii. 12,
and iii. 1, 2; that the soul may look like a temple of the Holy Ghost,
and like a servant of Christ's bought with a price, 1 Cor. vi. 17-20;
and have a clear evidence of his regeneration and justification, and
also that he may express his thankfulness to God for all his favours and
benefits.

_Fifthly_, The soul should by faith lay hold on, and grip fast to the
ground of sanctification; that is to say, (1.) To what Christ hath
purchased for his people. (2.) To what as a public person he hath done
for them; and so by faith,

1. Challenge a right to, and lay hold on the promises of grace,
strength, victory, and thorough bearing, in their combating with
corruption within, and Satan and a wicked world without.

2. "Reckon themselves dead unto sin, through the death of Christ; and
alive unto God through his resurrection," Rom. vi. 4, 11. "And that the
old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed,"
verse 6. "And that they are now not under the law, but under grace,"
verse 14.

That by this means they may be encouraged to continue fighting against a
vanquished enemy, and not give over, notwithstanding of disappointments,
discouragements, prevailings of corruption, &c. and the believer may
know upon what ground he standeth, and what is the ground of his hope
and expectation of victory in the end; and so he "may run, not as
uncertainly; and so fight, not as one that beateth the air," 1 Cor. ix.
26.

_Sixthly_, In this work of sanctification, the believer should be much
in the lively exercise of faith; fight by faith; advance by faith, grow
up, and bring forth fruit by faith; and so,

1. The believer would be oft renewing his grips of Christ, holding him
fast by faith; and so abiding in him, that he may bring forth fruit,
John xv. 4,5.

2. Not only would he be keeping his union fast with Christ, but he would
also be eyeing Christ by faith, as his store-house, and general Lord
dispensator of all the purchased blessings of the covenant, which he
standeth in need of, and looking on Christ, as standing engaged by
office to complete his work of salvation, and to present him with the
rest to himself holy, without blemish, yea, and without spot and
wrinkle, or any such thing, Eph. v. 27.

3. He would by faith grip to the promises, both of the general stock of
grace, the new heart, and heart of flesh, and the spirit to cause us
walk in his statutes, Ezek. xxxvi. 26,27; and of the several particular
acts of grace that be standeth in need of, such as that, Jer. xxx. 8, "I
will cleanse them from all their iniquities," &c. So Ezek. xxxvi. 25.
Jer. xxxi. 19. As the church doth, Micah vii. 9. "He will subdue our
iniquities," &c. And so having, or gripping these promises, we are to
cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, "and perfect
holiness in the fear of God," 2 Cor. vii. 1.

4. As the believer would by faith draw out of Christ, through the
conduit of the promises, which are all "yea and amen in him," 2 Cor. i.
20. grace, strength, knowledge, courage, or whatever his fight in this
warfare calleth for, to the end he may be strong in "the Lord, and in
the power of his might," Eph. vi. 10; so he would by faith roll the
weight of the whole work upon Christ; and thus cast himself, and his
care and burden on him who careth for him, 1 Pet. v. 7. Psal. xxxvii. 5,
and lv. 22; and so go on in duty, without anxiety, knowing who beareth
the weight of all, and who hath undertaken to work both to will and to
do, according to his good pleasure. Thus should the work be easy and
safe, when by faith we roll the burden on him, who is the chosen one
fitted for that work, and leave it on him, who is our strength,
patiently waiting for the outgate, in hope.

Thus the believer makes use of Christ, as made of God sanctification,
when in the use of means appointed, eyeing the covenant of grace, and
the promises thereof, and what Christ hath done to sanctify and cleanse
his people, he rolleth the matter on him, and expecteth help, salvation,
and victory through him.


CAUTIONS.

But lest some should be discouraged, and think all this in vain, because
they perceive no progress nor growth in grace for all this, but rather
corruption as strong and troublesome as ever, I would say a few things
to them.

1. Let them search and try, whether their shortcoming and disappointment
doth not much proceed from this, that the matter is not so cleanly cast
over on Christ as it should be; is it not too oft found, that they go
forth to the battle in their own strength, lippening to their own stock
of grace, to their own knowledge, or to their duties, or the like? How
then can they prosper?

2. Let them mourn as they get any discovery of this, and guard against
that corrupt bias of the heart, which is still inclining them to an
engagement without the Captain of their salvation, and a fighting
without the armour of God.

3. Let them try and see, if, in studying holiness, they be not led by
corrupt ends; and do not more labour after sanctification, that they may
be more worthy and the better accepted of God, and that they may have
quietness and peace as to their acceptance with God, as if this were any
cause, matter, or condition of their righteousness and justification
before God, than that they may shew their obedience to the command of
God, 1 Thes. iv. 3. Eph. ii. 10. John xv. 16; and express their
thankfulness to him, and glorify God, Mal. i. 6. Matt. iii. 16. John
xvii. 10. Eph. iv. 30; and if so, they ought to acknowledge God's
goodness in that disappointment, seeing thereby they see more and more a
necessity of laying aside their own righteousness, and of betaking
themselves to the righteousness of Christ, and of resting on that alone
for peace and acceptance with God.

4. They should try and see, if their negligence and carelessness in
watching, and in the discharge of duties, do not occasion their
disappointments and shortcoming. God sometimes thinks fit to suffer a
lion of corruption to set on them, that they may look about them, and
stand more vigilantly upon their watch-tower, knowing that they have to
do with a vigilant adversary, the devil, who, as a roaring lion, goeth
about seeking whom he may devour, I Pet. v. 8. and that "they fight not
against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world; against spiritual
wickedness in high places," Eph. vi. 12. It is not for nought that we
are so often commanded to watch, Matt. xxiv. 42, and xxv. 13, and xxvi.
41, and xiv. 38. Luke xxi. 36. Mark xiii. 33-37. 1 Cor. xvi. 13. 1 Thes.
v. 6. 1 Pet. iv. 7. Col. iv. 2. Through the want of this, we know what
befel David and Peter.

5. They should try and see, whether there be not too much
self-confidence, which occasioned Peter's foul fall. God may, in justice
and mercy, suffer corruption to break loose upon such, at a time, and
tread them under foot, to learn them afterward to carry more soberly;
and to "work their salvation with fear and trembling," Phil. ii. 12,
remembering what a jealous, holy God he is, with whom they have to do;
what an adversary they have against them; and how weak their own
strength is.

6. This should be remembered, that one may be growing in grace, and
advancing in holiness, when, to his apprehension, he is not going
forward from strength to strength, but rather going backward. It is one
thing to have grace, and another thing to see that we have grace; so it
is one thing to be growing in grace, and another thing to see that we
are growing in grace. Many may question their growth in grace, when
their very questioning of it may evince the contrary. For they may
conclude no growth, but rather a back-going, because they perceive more
and more violent, and strong corruptions, and hidden works of darkness
and wickedness, within their soul, than ever they did before; while as
that great discovery sheweth the increase of their spiritual knowledge,
and an increase in this is an increase in grace; so they may question
and doubt of their growth, upon mistakes, as thinking corruption always
strongest when it makes the greatest stir and noise; or their complaints
may flow from a vehement desire they have to have much more
sanctification, which may cause them overlook many degrees they have
advanced. Or some such thing may occasion their darkness and complaints;
yea, God may think it fittest for them, to the end they may be kept
humble and diligent, to be in the dark as to their progress; whereas if
they saw what advancement and progress they had made in Christianity,
they might grow wanton, secure, and careless, and so occasion some sad
dispensation to humble them again.

7. It should be remembered, that perfect victory is not to be had here.
It is true, in respect of justification through the imputation of the
perfect righteousness of Christ, and in respect of their sincerity and
gospel simplicity, and in respect also of the parts of the new man,
believers are said to be perfect; such an one was Noah, Gen. vi. 9, and
Job, chap. i. 1, 8. See also Psalm xxxvii. 37, and lxiv. 4. 1 Cor. ii.
6. Heb. v. 14. James iii. 2. And it is true, we are to aim at
perfection, and to pray for it, as Matt. v. 48. 2 Cor. xiii. 11. Col.
iv. 12. Heb. xiii. 21. James i. 4. 1 Pet. v. 10. Heb. vi. 1. Yet as to
the degrees of holiness and sanctification, and in respect of the
remnant of corruption within, there is no full perfection here, Jer. ix.
20, 21. Phil. iii. 12. For even he who is washed, and, as to
justification, is clean every whit, yet needeth to wash his feet,
because contracting filth in his conversation, Job xiii. 10. So that if
the Lord should mark iniquity, no man should stand, Psalm cxxx. 3, and
cxliii. 2. There will still be in the best something, more or less, of
that battle, that Paul speaketh of, Rom. vii. 15-23. So that they will
still have occasion to cry out with him, verse 24, "O wretched man that
I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!" And the flesh
will still lust against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, so
that they shall not be able to do what they would, Gal. v. 17. The place
of perfection is above, where all tears are wiped away, and the weary
wrestler is at rest.

8. Let them not mistake and think, that every stirring of corruption in
the soul, argueth its dominion and prevailing power. Corruption may stir
and make a great deal ado, where it cannot get leave to reign; and be as
a violent and cruel invader, seeking the throne, putting the whole
kingdom in a combustion, who is resisted with force of arms.

Corruption may be more quiet and still, when indeed it hath the throne
of the soul; as a conqueror may be more quiet and still, when he hath
overcome and is in peaceable possession of the kingdom, than when he was
but fighting for it. When the strong man keeps the house, and is master,
then all is quiet and at rest, till a stronger come and thrust him out,
and dispossess him.

9. Sanctification doth not always consist in a man's freedom from some
corruptions. For there may be some corruptions that one hath no natural
inclination to, but, on the contrary, a great aversion for; as some
world's wretches may have no inclination to prodigality and ranting, or
such like vices, which are contrary to their humour, or to their
constant education; and Satan may never tempt some man to such evils,
knowing he will get more advantage by plying his temper and genius, and
so carrying him away to the other contrary evil; and so, though this man
know not so much, as what it is once to be tempted to those vices, yet
that will not say, that he is a sanctified man; far less will it say,
that he hath more grace than another man, whose predominant that evil
is, and against which he is daily fighting and wrestling. Whence it
appeareth that wrestling and protesting against even an overcoming
corruption, may evidence more of grace, than freedom from some evils, to
which some are not so much tempted, and to which they are naturally less
inclined.

10. Nor should they think, that corruption is always master of the soul,
and possessing the throne as a full conqueror, when it prevaileth and
carrieth the soul headlong at a time, for corruption may sometimes come
in upon the soul as an inundation with irresistible violence, and, for a
time, carry all before it, so that the soul cannot make any sensible
resistance; as when a sudden, violent, and unexpected temptation setteth
on, so as the poor man is overwhelmed, and scarce knoweth where he is,
or what he is doing, till he be laid on his back. At that time it will
be a great matter, if the soul dare quietly enter a protest against and
dissent from what is done, and if there be an honest protestation
against the violent and tyrannical invasion of corruption, we cannot
say, that corruption is in peaceable possession of the throne. If the
spirit be lusting against the flesh, levying all the forces he can
against the invader, by prayer and supplication to God, and calling in
all the supply of divine help he can get, and, when he can do no more,
is fighting and groaning under that unjust invasion, resolving never to
pay homage to the usurper, nor to obey his laws, nor so much as parley
with him, or make peace, we cannot say, that the soul doth consent fully
unto this usurpation. Nay, if the soul shall do this much, at such a
time when Satan sets on with all his force, it will be a greater
evidence of the strength of grace in the soul, than if the soul should
do the same or a little more, at a time when the temptation is not so
strong.

11. It is not good for them to say, that grace is not growing in them,
because they advance not so far as some do; and because they come not to
the pitch of grace that they see some advanced to. That is not a sure
rule to measure their growth in grace by. Some may have a better natural
temper, whereby they are less inclined to several vices which these find
a strong propension to; they may have the advantage of a better
education, and the like; so that they should rather try themselves this
year by what they were the last year, and that in reference to the lusts
to which they have been most subject all their days.

12. We must not think that every believer will attain to the same
measure of grace. There is a measure appointed for every member or joint
of this body; and every joint supplieth, according to the effectual
working in the measure of every part, Eph. iv. 16. God hath more ado
with some than with others; there is more strength required in an arm or
leg than in a finger or toe; and every one should be content with his
measure, so far as not to fret or repine against God and his
dispensations, that makes them but a finger, and not an arm of the body;
and do their duty in their station, fighting against sin, according to
the measure or grace dispensed to them of the Lord, and that faithfully
and constantly; and not quarrel with God, that he maketh us not as free
of temptations and corruptions as some others. For the captain must not
he blamed for commanding some of his soldiers to this post where they
never once see the enemy, and others to that post where they must
continually fight. The soldier is here under command, and therefore must
be quiet, and take his lot; so must the Christian reverence the Lord's
dispensations, in ordering matters, so as they shall never have one
hour's quietness, while, as others have more rest and peace, and stand
at their post fighting, resolving never to yield, but rather to cover
the ground with their dead bodies, till the commander-in-chief think
good to relieve them. Sure I am, as the only wise God hath distributed
to every member of the body, as he hath thought good, so it is the duty
of every member to endeavour this holy submission to him, as to the
measure of grace, considered as his free gift bestowed on them; and to
be humbled for the grudgings of his heart, because God hath not given
him more talents. And sure I am, though this submission make no great
noise in the world; yet really this is one of the highest degrees of
grace attainable here, and such an ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,
as is in the sight of God of great price. So that whoever hath attained
to this, have the very grace they seem to want, and more. Yet, lest
this should be abused, let me add a word or two of caution, to qualify
this submission. (1.) There must be with it a high prizing even of that
degree of grace which they want. (2) There must be a panting after
grace, as it is God's image, and a conformity to him, and with so much
singleness, as they may be in case to say, without the reproachings of
their heart, they do not so much love holiness for heaven, as heaven for
holiness. (3.) There must be an unceasingness in using all means,
whereby the growth of grace may be promoved to this end, that they may
be conformed to his image, rather than that they may be comforted. (4.)
There must be also a deep humiliation for the want of that degree of
grace they would have, as it importeth the want of so much conformity to
him to whose image they are predestinated to be conformed, which will
very well consist with this submission we are speaking of.

13. It would be remembered, that there may be a great progress, even
when it is not observed; when, (1.) Hereby the man is made to lie in the
dust, to loath himself, and cry, behold I am vile! (2.) Hereby his
indignation against the body of death is the more increased. (3.) Hereby
his esteem of a Saviour and of the blessed contrivance of salvation is
the more heightened, that he seeth he is thereby brought to make mention
of his righteousness, even of his only. (4.) Hereby his longing after
immediate fruition is increased, where all these complaints shall cease.
(5.) And hereby he is put to essay that much slighted duty of holding
fast the rejoicing of his hope firm unto the end, looking and longing
for the grace that shall be brought unto him at the revelation of Jesus
Christ, when he shall be presented without spot, and be made meet to be
a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.



CHAPTER VI.

HOW CHRIST IS TO BE MADE USE OF, IN REFERENCE TO THE KILLING AND
CRUCIFYING OF THE OLD MAN.


Having thus shortly pointed out some things in general, serving to the
clearing and opening up the way of our use-making of Christ for
sanctification, we come now more particularly to the clearing up of this
business. In sanctification we must consider, _first,_ The renewing and
changing of our nature and frame; and, _next,_ The washing and purging
away of our daily contracted spots. The first of these is commonly
divided into two parts, viz. _1st,_ The mortification, killing, and
crucifying of the old man of sin and corruption which is within; and,
_2d,_ The vivification, renewing, quickening, and strengthening of the
new man of grace; and this is a growth in grace, and in fruitfulness and
holiness.

As to the first of these, viz. The mortification or crucifying of the
old man, we would know, that there is such a principle of wickedness and
enmity against God in man by nature, now since the fall, whereby the man
is inclined to evil, and only to evil. This is called the old man, as
being like the body, made of so many parts, joints, and members, that
is, so many lusts and corruptions and evil inclinations, which,
together, make up a-corpus, and they are fast joined and compacted
together, as the members of the body, each useful and serviceable to one
another, and all of them concurring and contributing their utmost to the
carrying on of the work of sin, and so it is the man of sin; and it is
also called the old man, as having first possession of the soul, before
it is by grace renewed, and it is a dying more and more daily. Thus it
is called the old man, and the body of sin, Rom. vi. 6. This old man
hath his members in our members and faculties, so that none of them are
free,--understanding, will, affections, and the members of our body are
all servants of unrighteousness to this body of sin, and old man. So we
read of the motions of sin, Rom. vii. 5, which work in our members to
bring forth fruit unto death; and of the lusts of the flesh, Rom. xiii.
14. Gal. v. 16, 24; and the lusts of sin, Rom. vi. 12. So we hear of the
desires of the flesh and of the mind, Eph. ii. 3; and of affections and
lusts, Gal. v. 24. And the old man is said to be corrupt, according to
the deceitful lusts, Eph. iv. 22; all which lusts and affections are as
so many members of this body of sin, and of this old man. And, further,
there is herein a considerable power, force, and efficacy, which this
old man hath in us, to carry us away, and, as it were, command or
constrain us, as by a forcible law. Hence we read of the law of sin and
death, Rom. viii. 2, which only the "law of the Spirit of life in Christ
doth make us free from." It is also called a "law in our members warring
against the law of our mind," Rom. vii. 23, "and bringing us into
captivity to the law of sin which is in our members." So it is said, "to
lust against the Spirit, and to war," Gal. v. 17. All which point out
the strength, activity, and dominion of sin in the soul, so that it is
as the husband over the wife, Rom. vii. 1; yea, it hath a domineering
and constraining power, where its horns are not held in by grace. And as
its power is great, so its nature is wicked and malicious; for it is
pure "enmity against God," Rom. viii. 7; so that it neither is nor can
be reconciled, and therefore must be put off and abolished, Eph. ii. 15;
killed and crucified, Rom. vi. 6. Now herein lieth the work of a
believer, to be killing, mortifying, and crucifying this enemy, or
rather enmity; and delivering himself from under this bondage and
slavery, that he may be Christ's free man, and that through the Spirit,
Rom. viii. 13.

Now, if it be asked, How shall a believer make use of Christ, to the end
this old man may be gotten crucified? or, how should a believer mortify
this old man, and the lusts thereof, through Christ, or by the Spirit of
Jesus? We shall propose those things, which may help to clear this:

1. The believer should have his eye on this old man as his arch-enemy,
as a deadly cut-throat lying within his bosom. It is an enemy lodging
within him, in his soul, mind, heart, and affections, so that there is
no part free; and therefore is acquaint with all the motions of the
soul, and is always opposing and hindering every thing that is good. It
is an enemy that will never be reconciled to God, and therefore will not
be reconciled with the believer as such; for it is called enmity itself,
and so it is always actively seeking to promove the ruin of the soul,
what by prompting, inclining, moving, and forcibly drawing or driving,
sometimes with violence and rage, to evil; what by with standing,
resisting, opposing, counter-working, and contradicting what is good; so
that the believer cannot get that done which he would do, and is made to
do that which he would not. Therefore this being such an enemy, and so
dangerous an enemy, so constant and implacable an enemy, so active and
close an enemy, so deadly and destructive, it is the believer's part to
guard against this enemy, to have a vigilant eye upon it, to carry as an
irreconcilable enemy thereunto; and therefore never to come in terms of
capitulation or agreement therewith, never once to parley, let be make
peace. And the believer would not have his vigilant eye upon this or
that member of this body of death, so much as upon the body itself, or
the principle of wickedness and rebellion against God; the head, life,
spirit, or law, of this body of death; for there lieth its greatest
wickedness and activity; and this is always opposing us, though not in
every joint and member; but sometimes in one, sometimes in another.

2. Though the believer should have a main eye upon the body, this
innate, strong, and forcible law of sin and death, yet should he have
friendship and familiarity with no part, member, or lust of all this
body. All the deeds of the body should be mortified, Rom. viii. 13; the
old man with his deeds should be mortified, Col. iii. 6; and we should
"mortify our members which are upon the earth," verse 5; for all of them
are against us, and the least of them countenanced, entertained, and
embraced, will work our ruin, and cut our soul's throat; therefore
should the believer look on each of them, and on all of them, as his
deadly enemies.

3. He should consider, that, as it is a very unseemly thing for him to
be a slave to that old tyrant, and to yield his members as so many
servants to iniquity, so it is dangerous and deadly. His life lieth at
the stake; either he must get it mortified, killed, and subdued, or it
will kill him; his life will go for its life; if this enemy escape, he
is a gone man. The consideration of this should cause the believer to
act here in earnestness and seriousness, with care and diligence, and
set about this work of mortification with labour and pains.

4. Much more must it be against all reason and Christianity, for the
believer to be making "provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts
thereof," Rom. xiii. 14. To be strengthening the hands of, and laying
provision to this enemy, which is set and sworn against us, can stand
with no reason. And here is much of the Christian's prudence and
spiritual wisdom required, to discern what may make for fostering of
this or that corruption, or member of the body of sin and death, and to
withdraw that, as we will labour to take away provision of any kind from
an enemy that is coming against us. Paul acted herein as a wise gamester
and combatant, when he kept under his body, and brought it into
subjection, 1 Cor. ix. 27. It were but to mock God, and to preach forth
our own folly, to be looking to Christ for help against such an enemy,
and, in the meantime, to be underhand strengthening the hands of the
enemy; this would be double dealing, and treachery against ourselves.

5. To the end, their opposition unto this enemy may be the stronger and
more resolute, they should consider, that this body of sin is wholly set
against God, and his interest in the soul, being very enmity itself
against God, Rom. viii. 7; and always lusting and fighting against the
work of God in the soul, Gal. v. 17; and against every thing that is
good, so that it will not suffer, so far as it can hinder the soul to do
anything that is good, at least in a right manner, and for a right end.
Nay, with its lustings, it driveth constantly to that which is evil,
raiseth evil motions and inclinations in the soul, ere the believer be
aware; sideth with any temptation that is offered, to the end that it
may destroy the soul, like a traitor within; as we see it did in David,
when he fell into adultery; and with Asaph, Psalm lxxiii. 2; yea, itself
opposeth and tempteth, James i. 14, by setting mind, will, and
affections on wrong courses; and thus it driveth the soul to a course of
rebellion against God, or diverts it, and draws it back, that it cannot
get God served aright; yea, sometimes it sets a fire in the soul,
entangling all the faculties, filling the mind with darkness or
prejudice, misleading or preventing the affections, and so miscarrying
the will, and leading it captive, Rom. vii. 23; so that the thing is
done which the unregenerate soul would not do, and the duty is left
undone which the soul would fain have done; yea, and that sometimes
notwithstanding of the soul's watching and striving against this; so
strong is its force.

6. The believer should remember, that this enemy is not for him to fight
against alone, and that his own strength and skill will make but a
slender opposition unto it. It will laugh at the shaking of his spear;
it can easily insinuate itself, on all occasions, because it lieth so
near and close to the soul, always residing there, and is at the
believer's right hand whatever he be doing, and is always openly or
closely opposing, and that with great facility; for it easily besetteth,
Heb. xii. 1, because it lieth within the soul, and in all the faculties
of it--in the heart, mind, will, conscience, and affections; so that
upon this account, the deceitfulness of the heart is great, and passeth
the search of man, Jer. xvii. 9. Man cannot know all the windings and
turnings, all the drifts and designs, all the lurking and retiring
places, all the falsehoods and double dealings, all the dissimulations,
lies, and subterfuges, all the plausible and deceitful pretexts and
insinuations of his heart acted and spirited by this law of sin and
death. And besides this slight and cunning, it hath strength and power
to draw by lusts into destruction and perdition, 1 Tim. iv. 9, and to
carry the soul headlong; so that it makes the man's case miserable, Rom.
vii. 24. All which would say, that the believer should call in other
help than his own, and remember, that "through the Spirit he must
mortify the deeds of the body," Rom. viii. 13.

7. And therefore the believer must lay aside all his carnal weapons, in
dealing with his adversary, and look out for divine help and assistance,
even for the promised Spirit, through which alone he can be instructed
and enabled for this great work; for of himself he can do nothing, not
so much as think a good thought as of himself, 2 Cor. iii. 5, far less
will he be able to oppose such a mighty adversary, that hath so great
and many advantages; and therefore all his carnal means, purposes, vows,
and fightings in himself, will but render himself weaker, and a readier
prey unto this adversary, which gaineth ground while he is so opposed.
It is Christ alone and his Spirit, that can destroy the works of the
devil, and kill or crucify this enmity.

8. So that the believer must have his recourse for help and succour
here, unto Jesus the Captain of salvation, and must follow him, and
fight under his banners, make use of his weapons, which are spiritual;
fight according to his counsel and conduct, taking him as a Leader and
Commander, and lying open for his orders and instructions, waiting for
the motions of his Spirit, and following them; and thus oppose and fight
against this deadly enemy, with an eye always on Christ by faith,
depending on him for light to the mind, resolution to the will, and
grace to the whole soul to stand in the battle, and to withstand all
assaults, and never engage in a dispute with this enemy, or any lust or
member of this body without Christ the principal, that is, the soul
would despair in itself, and be strong in him, and in the power
of his might, by faith griping to him, as Head, Captain, and
Commander-in-chief, resolving to fight in his strength, and to oppose
through the help of his Spirit.

9. And for this cause, the believer would eye the covenant of
redemption, the basis of all our hope and consolation, wherein final and
full victory is promised to Christ, as Head of the elect, viz. "that he
shall bruise the serpent's head;" and so that in him, all his followers
and members of his mystical body shall lift up the head, and get full
victory at length over both sin and death. Now it is "God that giveth us
the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Cor. xv. 57. The believer
would also eye by faith the covenant of grace, wherein particularly this
same victory is promised to the believer, in and through Jesus, Rom.
xvi. 20. "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet
shortly; and sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under
the law, but under grace," Rom. vi. 14. The believer, I say, would look
out by faith unto, and lay hold on these and the like promises, and
thereby get strength conveyed to himself, whereby he may strive
lawfully, and fight valiantly, and oppose with courage and resolution.

10. Further, the believer would eye Christ as a fountain of furniture,
as a full and complete magazine, standing open, and ready for every one
of his honest soldiers to run to for new supplies of what they want; so
that whatever they find wanting in their Christian armour, they must run
away to the open magazine, Christ's fulness, that standeth ready for
them, and by faith take and put on what they want and stand in need of
in their warfare. If their girdle of truth be slacked, loosed, or
weakened, and they be meeting with temptations anent their hypocrisy,
and Satan objecting to them their double dealing, of purpose to
discourage them, and to make them faint and give over the fight; they
must away to him who is the truth, that he may bind on that girdle
better, and make their hearts more upright before God in all they do.
And if their breastplate of righteousness be weakened, and Satan there
seem to get advantage, by casting up to them their unrighteous dealings
towards God or men, they must flee to him, who only can help here, and
beg pardon through his blood for their failings, and set to again afresh
to the battle. If their resolution, which is understood by the
preparation of the gospel of peace, grow weak, it must be renewed in
Christ's armoury, and the feet of new be shod therewith. If their shield
of faith begin to fail them, away must they get to him who "is the
Author and Finisher of faith," Heb. xii. 2. And if their helmet of hope
begin to fail them, in this armoury alone can that be supplied. And if
their sword be blunted in their hand, or they unable to wield it aright,
the Spirit of Jesus can only teach their hands to fight, and instruct
them how to manage that useful weapon with advantage. Thus must the
believer "be strong in him, and in the power of his might," Eph. vi. 10.
"He is their God that girdeth them with strength, and maketh their way
perfect. He maketh their feet like hind's feet, and setteth them upon
their high places. He teacheth their hands to war, so that a bow of
steel is broken by their arms. He giveth them the shield of salvation.
His right hand upholdeth them. He girdeth with strength unto the
battle," &c. Psalm xviii. 32, &c.

11. For the further strengthening of their hope, faith, and confidence,
believers would eye Christ, as hanging on the cross, and overcoming by
death, death, and him that hath the power of death, the devil; and so as
meritoriously purchasing this redemption from the slavery of sin and
Satan, and particularly from the slavery of that body of death, and of
the law of sin and death; for the apostle tells us, Rom. viii. 2, "That
the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus doth make us free from the
law of sin and death," and that because, as he saith further, ver. 3, 4,
"what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God
sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin
condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be
fulfilled in us." So that the believer may now look upon that enemy, how
fearful soever it may appear, as condemned and killed in the death, of
Christ; he having laid down the price of redemption, hath bought this
freedom from the chains and fetters with which he was held in captivity.
Faith, then, on the death of Jesus satisfying justice for the poor
captive, may, and should support and strengthen the hope and confidence
of the believer, that he shall obtain the victory at length.

12. And it will further confirm the hope and faith of the believer, to
look to Christ hanging on the cross, and there vanquishing and
overcoming this arch-enemy, as a public person, representing the elect
who died in him, and virtually and legally did in him overcome that
jailor, and break his fetters; and the soul now believing, may, yea,
should reckon itself in Christ dying, as it were, upon the cross, and
there overcoming all those spiritual enemies. "Likewise," saith the
apostle, Rom. vi. 11, "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto
sin." From hence, even while fighting, the believer may account himself
a conqueror, yea, "more than a conqueror, through him that loved him,"
Rom. viii. 37. Now faith acting thus on Christ, as a public person,
dying and overcoming death and sin, the believer may not only infer the
certainty of victory, knowing that our old man is crucified with Christ,
Rom. vi. 6; but also from the cross of Christ draw strength to stand and
fight against the strugglings of this vanquished and killed enemy. "They
that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and
lusts," Gal. v. 24. But how? Even by the cross of Christ. "For thereby
is the world crucified unto me," saith the apostle, Gal. vi. 14, "and I
unto the world." "Your old man is crucified with him, that the body of
sin might be destroyed," Rom. vi. 6.

13. The believer being dead indeed unto sin, through the cross of
Christ, is to look upon himself as legally freed from that yoke of
bondage under sin and death. "The law hath dominion over a man as long
as he liveth," Rom. vii. 1. "But by the body of Christ believers are
become dead to the law," ver. 4. That law of sin and death which hath
dominion over a man that liveth still in nature, and is not yet by faith
planted in the likeness of Christ's death, nor buried with him by
baptism into death, Rom. vi. 4, 5, hath not that dominion over believers
it had once--"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath
made them free from the law of sin and death," Rom. viii. 2; so that now
the believer, is free from that tyranny; and that tyrant can exercise no
lawful jurisdiction or authority over him; and therefore he may with the
greater courage repel the insolencies of that tyrant, that contrary to
all right and equity seeketh to lord it over him still. They are no
lawful subjects to that cruel and raging prince, or to that spiritual
wickedness.

14. So that the believer, renouncing that jurisdiction under which he
was formerly, and being under a new husband, and under a new law, even
the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, is to look upon all the
motions of sin as illegal, and as treasonable acts of a tyrant. "The old
man being crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be
destroyed, the believer is not any more to serve sin," Rom. vi. 6; "and
being now dead, they are freed from sin," ver. 7; "and are married to
another, even to him who is raised from the dead, and so they should not
serve sin, but bring forth fruit unto God," Rom. vii. 4; and therefore,
look upon all motions of the flesh, and all the inclinations and
stirrings of the old law of sin, as acts of treachery and rebellion
against the right and jurisdiction of the believer's new Lord and
husband; and are therefore obliged to lay hold on this old man, this
body of death, and all the members of it, as traitors to the rightful
king and husband, and to take them prisoners to the king, that he may
give out sentence, and execute the same against them, as enemies to his
kingdom and interest in the soul;--they being now no more "servants of
sin, but of righteousness, they ought no more to yield their members
servants to uncleanness, and iniquity unto iniquity," Rom. vi. 18, 19;
"and being debtors no more to the flesh, to live after the flesh," Rom.
vii. 12; "they are to mortify the deeds of the body through the spirit,"
ver. 13; "and to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts," Gal.
v. 24; that is, by bringing them to the cross of Christ, where first
they were condemned and crucified, in their full body and power; that a
new sentence, as it were, may go out against them, as parts of that
condemned tyrant, and as belonging to that crucified body.

15. So that the believer that would carry faithfully in this matter, and
fight lawfully in this warfare, and hope to obtain the victory through
Jesus Christ, must bring these traitors that appear in their sinful
motions and lusts in the soul, working rebellion against the just
authority and equitable laws of the lawful prince Jesus, before the
tribunal of him who hath now got "all power and authority in heaven and
in earth," Matt, xxviii. 18; "and hath all judgment committed to him,"
John v. 22; "and to this end, both died, and rose, and revived, that he
might be Lord both of the dead and living," Rom. xvi. 9; that he may
execute justice upon the traitor, head, and members; that he may trample
these devils under, and bruise the head of these serpents within us. The
believer then is by faith in prayer, to carry these open enemies to
Christ, and declare and witness against them as traitors, by what
mischief they have done in the soul, by their hindering the righteous
laws of the king to be obeyed; and constraining and forcing, what by
arguments and allurements, and what by forcible inclinations and
pousings, to a disobedience and a counteracting of Christ; and he should
urge and plead upon the fundamental laws of the land, viz. the articles
of agreement betwixt the Father and the Son, and the faithful promises
of the covenant of grace; and upon Christ's office as king and governor,
and his undertaking as Mediator; upon the merits of his death and
sufferings; upon his dying as a common person; upon the constitution of
the gospel, whereby they are in law repute as dying in him, and so free
from the law of sin and death; and upon their relation to him as their
new Lord, Head, Husband, King, Commander, &c. Upon these arguments, I
say, to plead for justice against the rebel that is now brought to the
bar, and so by faith leave the prisoner in his hand, that he may, in his
own time and way, give a second blow unto the neck of this implacable
and raging enemy, that he may not rise up to disturb the peace of the
soul as before; or to trouble, impede, and molest the soul in paying the
homage and obedience due to his lawful master and sovereign king, JESUS.


CAUTIONS AND DIRECTIONS.

For further clearing of the premises, I would propose a few particulars,
for caution and direction, as,--

1. This work of laying the burden of this business on Christ by faith,
would be gone about with much singleness of heart, aiming at the glory
of God, and the carrying on of his work in the soul; and not for
self-ends, and carnal by-respects, lest thereby we mar all.

2. It would be carried on, without partiality, against all and every
one of the lusts and motions of the old man. For if there be a
compliance with and a sparing of any one known lust, the whole work may
be marred; they may meet with a disappointment as to the particular lust
they are desiring victory over;--and the lust they are harbouring,
though it may seem little, may open a door to many stronger, and so
occasion sad days to the man, ere he be aware.

3. As they would bring the particular lust, or lusts, unto Christ, as
chief Lord Justice; so they would always lay the axe to the root of the
tree, and crave justice against the main body, that yet lieth within the
soul; and these particular corruptions and affections, that are as
members of that body of sin, should put them in mind of the old man, for
they should "crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof,"
Gal. v. 24; the body and the members. These lusts are the lusts of sin,
or of that head-sin, which hath a law, or the force and impulse of a law
in the soul; and therefore their main design would be against this root,
where lieth the strength and body of the enemy, and which acteth in
those members; this is the capital enmity, and should be mainly opposed.
And the following of this course would prove more successful than that
which many time we take: our nibbling at, or wrestling against this or
that member of the body of death, is but of little advantage, so long as
the main body of sin, the bitter root of wickedness, the carnal mind,
this innate enmity is miskent, and not opposed; but on the contrary,
strike at this, we strike at all.

4. This would be the believer's constant work, to be "crucifying the
flesh, with the lusts thereof; to be mortifying their members," wherein
the members of the old man quarter and lodge, Col. iii. 5; "to be
spiritually minded, and to mind the things of the Spirit," Rom. viii. 5,
6. "For the carnal mind is enmity, against God," Rom. viii. 7; "and so
is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." It is not only
an enemy which may be reconciled, but enmity in the abstract, which
never can be reconciled. And this enmity will never be idle; for it
cannot till it be fully and finally destroyed; "the flesh is always
lusting against the spirit,'" Gal. v. 17; "for they are contrary one to
the other." So that though, to our sense, it may sometimes appear as
sleeping, in regard that it doth not by some particular lust so molest
and perplex the soul as formerly it did: yet it is restless, and may be
more active in another lust, and so by changing weapons on us, deceive
us. Here then is much spiritual wisdom and vigilancy required. When they
think they have gotten one lust subdued, they must not think the war is
at an end; but after all their particular victories, watch and pray,
that they enter not into temptation.

5. This way of laying the weight of the matter on Christ, should and
will keep them humble, and teach them not to ascribe the glory of any
good that is done unto themselves, but to give him all the glory, who is
jealous of his glory, and will not give it to another, that the crown
may alone flourish on his head, who is the captain of their salvation,
and who by his Spirit worketh all their works in them.

6. Nor would this way of carrying the matter to Christ, and putting it
over on him, cause the believer become negligent in commanded duties,
reading, hearing prayer, &c; for it is there he must expect to meet with
Christ; there must he seek him, and there must he wait for him, and his
Spirit to do the work desired. For though he hath not limited himself to
these means, so, as he cannot, or will not any other way help, yet he
hath bound us to them; and it is our duty to wait there, where he hath
commanded us to wait, though he should sometime think good to come
another way, for the manifestation of the sovereignty of his grace.

7. Yet while we are about the means, we would guard against a leaning to
them, lest, instead of getting victory over corruption, we be brought
more in bondage thereunto another way. We must not think that our
prayers, or our hearing, or reading, &c. will bring down the body of
death, or subdue any one corruption; for that were but an yielding to
corruption, and opening a back door to the carnal mind, and to another
deadly lust, and a beating corruption with a sword of straw. This is not
to mortify the deeds of the body through the Spirit, but through the
flesh; and a fleshly weapon will never draw blood of this spiritual
wickedness or old man, or of any corrupt lust or affection thereof; and
yet how many times doth our deceitful heart bias us this way? Our work
would be, as is said, to use the ordinances as means, whereby we may get
the business laid on Christ, and help from Christ to do the business. We
must go to the means with our prisoner to find Christ there at his court
and assizes, that he may take course with the traitor.

8. In all this there would be a looking to, and dependence on Christ for
help and grace; because of ourselves, as of ourselves, we cannot do this
much; we cannot complain aright of corruptions, nor take them away to
Christ, nor ask for justice against them. As constables and other
officers must carry malefactors to the courts of justice, upon public
charges; so Christ will not have us doing or attempting this much on our
own charges, for he giveth noble allowance.

9. In following of this course, we would not think always to come speed
at the first. Sometimes the Lord, for the encouragement of his children,
may give them a speedy hearing, and deliver them from the tyranny of
some particular lust or other that hath troubled them; so that for some
time at least, it shall not so trouble them as it did. Yet he will not
do so always, but may think it good to keep them waiting on him, and
hanging on his courts for some considerable time, that he may thereby
exercise their faith, patience, desire, zeal, and diligence. So that it
should not seem strange to us, if we be not admitted at the first, and
get not our answer at the first cry.

10. When the Lord thinketh good to delay the answer to our desires, and
the execution of justice on the malefactor and traitor, or to deliver us
from his tyranny and trouble, we would beware of thinking to capitulate
with the enemy for our peace and quiet, or to enter into a cessation of
arms with him; that is, our enmity against him should never abate; nor
should our desire after the mortification and crucifixion of this lust
grow less; nor should we be at quiet and at peace, though it should
seem to grow a little more calm and still, or not to rage as formerly;
for this looks but like a covenant or confederacy with lust, which will
not stand.

11. We would also know, that what Christ said of devils, holdeth good of
these lusts, viz. "that some of them do not go out but by fasting and
prayer;" that is, by Christ sought unto and found in these means. There
are some lusts that will not be so easily killed and mortified as
others, but will cost us more pains and labour, as being corruptions
which possibly have some greater advantage of our natural temper and
constitution of body, or of long continuance and a cursed habit, or the
like. We must not then think it strange, if some such lust be not
subdued so easily as some others to which we have fewer and weaker, and
not so frequent temptations.

12. As we cannot expect a full conquest of the body of death, so long as
we are here, as was shown above, neither can we expect a full and final
victory over any one lust, which ever we have been troubled with. It is
true, believers may be kept from some gross out-breaking of a
corruption, which sometime prevailed, as Peter was from relapsing into
an open and downright denying his Master; yet that same corruption did
afterward stir, though not so violently as to carry him to such an
height of sin; yet so far as to cause him do that which was a partial
denying of his Master, when Paul withstood him to the face, because he
was to be blamed for withdrawing from the Gentiles, for fear of them of
the circumcision, &c. Gal. ii. 11, 12.: So, though a particular lust may
be so far subdued through grace, as that for some considerable time a
man may not find it so violent as it was; yet be cannot say that it is
totally killed, because it may stir thereafter in some weaker measure;
yea, he cannot tell, but ere he come to die, that same corruption may
rise to be as violent as ever, and that Satan may again think to enter
the soul at that same breach which once he entered at; yea, and who can
tell, whether God may not suffer that corruption, which lay long as
dead, to revive again for a time, and for a time drive the soul as
violently as ever, and prevail for a time? And this should teach all to
walk soberly, watchfully, and in fear, and to have a vigilant eye, even
upon such lusts and carnal affections, as they may suppose they have got
the victory of.

13. We would not think that we gain no ground upon corruption, because
we still perceive it stirring, less or more; for as corruption is not
always strongest, as was said above, nor hath the deepest footing in the
soul, when its motions and stirrings are most felt; so neither must we
think that there is no ground gained upon a lust, because we are still
troubled and molested with its stirrings; for it is a great advantage to
be more sensible of the motions of this enemy; and our more faithful and
active wrestling against it may make its least stirrings more sensible
to us; as the motions and trouble which a malefactor, while in grips and
in prison, maketh, may be thought more of than his greater ragings
before he was apprehended; yet he may be sure in fetters for all that. A
beast that hath gotten death's blow may get out of grips, and run more
mad than ever, and yet will die at length of the same blow.

14. Though we should find present ease and quiet by our following this
way, yet we should think it much, if the Lord help us to stand, when we
have done all we can, though we meet not with the hoped for success
presently; if he give us grace to continue without wearying or fainting,
and to be resolved never to give over, we have reason to bless him; if
we be kept still in the conflict with pursuit of the enemy, it is our
great advantage; the victory shall come in God's own time. If our
opposition so continue, that we are resolved never to take nor give
quarter, though our trouble and exercise should be the greater, and our
ease and quiet the less, we ought to bless him, yea, and rejoice in hope
of what he shall yet do for us; for he that will come, shall come, and
will not tarry. Let us wait for him, in doing our duty, and faithfully
keeping our post.

15. Yea, if we get quietness or ease from the violence of raging lusts
for any little time, and be not continually driven and carried headlong
therewith, we ought to be thankful for this, and to walk humbly before
him; lest he be provoked by our unthankfulness and pride, and let these
furious dogs loose upon us again.

16. When we are bending our strength and all our forces against some
one corruption or other, which possibly hath been most troublesome to
us, we would not be secure as to all others, or think that we are in
hazard only on this side; for Satan may make a feint here, and really
intend an assault at another place, by some other corrupt affection. O
what need have we of spiritual wisdom that we may be better acquainted
with his stratagems and wiles I Let us so then fight against one member
of this body of death, as to have our eye upon others, lest when we
think to keep out Satan at the fore-door, he enter in at the back-door.
He can make use of extremities, and play his game with both; yea, and
gain his point, if we be not aware.


OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.

It will not be amiss, for further explaining of the matter, to remove a
scruple or two. Some may say, that they cannot perceive that all their
pains in this matter come to any good issue; for they never found
corruption stir more, and act more lively and incessantly, than since
they began to fight against it in good earnest; so that this would seem
not to be the right way.

I answer, Though from what is said before, particularly cautions 9th and
13th, a resolution of this doubt maybe had; yet I shall propose those
things, for further clearing of the matter:

1. May not much of this flow from thy not laying the whole work so
wholly off thyself, and upon Christ, as thou oughtest to do? Try and
see.

2. May not the devil rage most, when he thinks ere long to be ejected?
May he not labour to create most trouble to the soul, when he seeth that
he is like to be put from some of his strengths?

3. May not the devil be doing this of purpose to drive thee to despair
of ever getting corruption subdued and mortified; or to a fainting and
sitting up in the pursuit, and to a despondency of spirit; that so
instead of fighting or standing, thou may cede and turn thee back? And
should we comply with him in his designs?

4. May not the Lord give way to this for a time, to try thy seriousness,
patience, submission and faith, and to sharpen thy diligence, and
kindle up thy zeal? And should we not submit to his wise dispensations?

5. How can thou say that thou gainest no advantage, as long as thou art
not made to lay aside the matter wholly, as hopeless of any good issue;
but, on the contrary, art helped to stand, and to resist sin, to cry out
against it, to fight as thou canst, and at least not to yield?

6. What if God see it for thy advantage, that thou be kept so in
exercise for a time, to the end thou may be kept humble, watchful, and
diligent? He may see more of thee, than thou canst see of thyself, and
so may know what is best for thee; and should thou not condescend to be
disposed of by him as he will, and to let him make of thee, and do with
thee what he will?

7. What if God be about to chasten thee thus for thy former negligence,
security, and unwatchfulness, and giving too much advantage to those
lusts, which now, after his awakening of thee, thou would be delivered
from? Should thou not bear the indignation of the Lord, because thou
hast sinned against him, as the Church resolved to do, Micah vii. 9?

8. Is it not thy duty the more that corruption stirs, to run with it the
oftener to Christ, that he may subdue it and put it to silence? May not
thou improve this to thy advantage, by making many errands to him?

9. May it not come in a day, that hath not come in a year? Art thou
sure, that all thy pains shall be in vain? Or thinkest thou that all his
children have got victory alike soon over their lusts? What cause is
there then to complain thus?

10. May not all this convince thee, that it is thy duty to wait on him,
in the use of his appointed means, and to be patient, standing fast to
thy post, resolving, when thou hast done all, yet to stand?

11. May not this satisfy thee, that God through grace accepteth thy
labour and wrestling, as thy duty, and accounteth it service to him, and
obedience?

But again, it may possibly be objected thus: so long as I am in this
condition, kept under with my lusts, I cannot get God glorified and
served as he ought to be.

I answer, though so long as it is so with thee, thou cannot glorify and
serve him, in such a particular manner as others, who have got more
victory over those evils under which thou art groaning, yet God can get
glory and service of thee another way; as,

1. By thy submission, with calmness of spirit, to his wise
dispensations, when thou dare not speak against him, and say, with
Rebecca, in another case, if it be so, why am I thus? But sweetly and
willingly cast thyself down at his feet, saying, good is the will of the
Lord; let him do what seemeth him good, &c.

2. By thy patient on-waiting, when thou art not wearying nor fainting,
but saying, why should I not wait upon the great King's leisure? Is he
not free to come when he will? Dare I set limits to the Holy One of
Israel?

3. By thy humility, when thou blessest him, for keeping thee so long out
of hell, and thinkest much of his giving thee grace to see and observe
the stirrings of corruption, which carnal wretches never perceive; and
helping thee to withstand and complain of corruption, which they sweetly
comply with.

4. By thy hatred of sin, when all that Satan can do cannot make thee
comply with those lusts, or sweetly embrace those vipers, or lie down in
peace with those rotten members of the old man, as others do.

5. By thy watchfulness, when all thy disappointments cause thee the more
earnestly watch against that enemy.

6. By thy acting faith, when still thou art carrying sin in its lusts to
Christ to kill and subdue, as believing the tenor of the gospel and new
covenant.

7. By thy hope, which appeareth by thy not despairing, and giving over
the matter as a hopeless business, and turning aside to wicked courses.

8. By thy praying, when thou criest to him continually for help, who
only can help.

9. By thy wrestling and standing against all opposition, for thereby is
his strength made perfect in thy weakness, 2 Cor. xii. 9.

10. By thine obedience; for it is his command that thou stand and fight
this good fight of faith.

So that if thou hast a desire to glorify him, thou wants not occasion to
do it, even in this condition wherein thou complainest that thou cannot
get him glorified. And if those grounds do not satisfy thee, it is to be
feared that it is not so much a desire to glorify him, that moveth thee
to cry so earnestly for actual delivery from the trouble of the flesh
and the lusts thereof, as something else, which thou may search after
and find out; such as love to ease, quietness, applause and commendation
of others, or the like.

But, in the _third_ place, it may be objected, is it not promised that
sin shall not have dominion over us, as "not being under the law, but
under grace," Rom. vi. 14. How can we then but be troubled, when we find
not this promise made good?

I answer, 1st, Sin is not always victorious and domineering, when it
seemeth to rage and stir most. Your opposition thereunto, fighting and
wrestling against it, sheweth that it hath not full dominion. So long as
an invading usurper is opposed, he hath not full dominion, not having
peaceable possession of what he is seeking; and thus the promise is in
part accomplished.

2. Victory and a full conquest over the flesh, and lusts thereof, is not
promised to any believer, at his first appearing in the fields to fight;
nor granted to all in any measure, at their first putting on their
armour.

3. Therefore it is thy part to fight on, and wait for that full victory,
viz. that sin shall not have dominion over thee, for it shall come in
due time.

4. God hath his own time and seasons wherein he accomplisheth his
promises; and we must leave him a latitude, both as to the time when,
and as to the manner how, and as to the degree in which he shall make
good his promises; and he is wise in his dispensations.

Therefore, though the promise as yet appeareth not to be accomplished,
there is no true cause of trouble of mind, because it shall be afterward
fully accomplished; and the wrestling against sin, saith that it is in
great measure accomplished already; because where it hath a full
dominion, it suppresseth all opposition or contradiction, except some
faint resistance, which a natural conscience, for carnal ends, on carnal
principles and grounds, may, now or then, make against this or that
particular corruption, which occasioneth shame, disgrace, loss,
challenges of a carnal conscience, and disquietness that way, when yet
it is not hated nor wrestled against as sin, or as a member of the old
man, and the body of death. The objector would consider, that having
subjected his consent to Christ, he is delivered really from that
natural state of bondage under sin as a lawful lord, howbeit the old
tyrant, now wanting a title, is making new invasions, to trouble the
peace and quiet of the soul.

_Fourthly,_ It may be said, but what can then, in the mean time, keep up
the heart of a poor soul from sinking?

_Ans._ Several things, if rightly considered, might help to support the
soul in this case, as,

1. That they are helped to wrestle against this body of death, in all
the members of it, so soon as they discover themselves, were it their
right eye and right hand.

2. That these lusts gain not ground upon them; or if they do seem to
gain ground, yet they attain not to a full dominion, not gaining their
consent.

3. That God is faithful, and therefore the promised victory shall be had
in due time, and Satan's head shall certainly be bruised.

4. That the wrestling soul is about his duty, carrying as a good soldier
of Jesus Christ, fighting the battles of the Lord, and waiting on him in
faith and hope.

But further, _fifthly,_ some may say, If I were kept from yielding, my
wrestling and standing would yield me some comfort; but when lust so
stirreth, as that it conceiveth and bringeth forth sin, (James i. 15,)
what can support or comfort me then?

_Ans._ 1. Corruption cannot stir in us, but therein we sin, for the very
first rise, the _motus primo-primi_, as they are called, are sinful,
being contrary to the holy law of God; and the very in-being of that old
man is our sin; for it is sinful, and rebellious against God, yea it is
very enmity and rebellion itself. When Satan cometh with a temptation
from without, he findeth always much in us to entertain the temptation.
So that the very stirring of corruption, which is occasioned by the
temptation from without, is our guilt.

2. It is true it is our duty, to set against the first risings and
motions of corruption, when it first enticeth, before it hath conceived
or brought forth sin; and it will argue grace in life and in action, to
be able to hinder the motions of lust so far, that it shall not conceive
and bring forth sin. Yet we may not say, that there is no grace in the
soul, or no measure of mortification attained, where lust sometimes not
only enticeth, but conceiveth and bringeth forth sin. The sad experience
of many of God's worthies, registrated in the word, cleareth this
abundantly. We must not say, such an one is fallen, therefore he is
dead. Paul reasoneth otherways, Rom. vii.

3. Yet even then, when lust conceiveth and bringeth forth sin, this may
comfort and bear up the heart of a poor believer. (1.) That though
corruption prevail so far, as to bear down all opposition, and run down
all that standeth in its way, yet it getteth not the full consent of the
soul: there is still a party for God in the soul, that opposeth so far
as to protest against it, or at least to dissent from it, and not to
will that which yet is done, and positively to will that which cannot be
gotten effectuated, (2.) And further, this may bear up the poor soul,
that there is a party within, which, though for a time, during the
violent overrunning of corruption, can do little more than sigh and
groan in a corner, yet is waiting and longing for an opportunity when it
may appear more for God, and against that wicked usurper. (3.)So also
this may comfort the poor soul, that as it perceiveth corruption
stirring, and the old man moving one member or other, it runneth away to
the king; and when it is not able to apprehend the traitor, and take him
captive to the court of justice, doth there discover the traitor, and
tell the king that there is such or such a traitor acting such and such
rebellion against him and his laws, and complain and seek help to take
the rebel prisoner, and bring him bound hand and foot to the king, that
he may give out sentence against him; that is, when he can do no more
against that raging enemy, maketh his complaint to the Lord, and lieth
before him, sighing and groaning for help and strength to withstand and
oppose more this enemy.

_Lastly,_ Some may yet object, and say, If it were not worse with me
than it is with others, I could then be satisfied; but I see some
mightily prevailing over corruption, and I am still at under, and can
get no victory; and can I choose but be sad at this?

I answer, 1. Dost thou know for a certainty, that those persons whose
condition thou judgest happy, are altogether free of the inward
stirrings of those lusts that thou art brought under by? Or dost thou
know for a certainty that they are not under the power of some other
corruption, as thou thinkest thyself under the power of that corruption
whereof thou complainest? What knowest thou, then, but they may be as
much complaining on other accounts as thou dost on that?

2. But be it so as thou supposeth, that there is a difference betwixt
thy condition and the condition of others, knowest thou not, that all
the members of the body are not alike great and strong, as not being
equally to be employed in work requiring strength. Are there not some
young strong men in Christ's family, and some that are but babes? May
not a captain send some of his soldiers to one post, where they shall
possibly not see the enemy all the day long, and some others to another
post, where they shall have no rest all the day? And why, I pray, may
not God dispose of his soldiers as he will? He knoweth what he is doing:
It is not safe that every one of the soldiers know what are the designs
of the commander or general; nor is it always fit for us to know or to
inquire what may be the designs of God with us, and what he may be about
to do. He may intend to employ one in greater works than another, and so
exercise them otherways for that warfare and work. It may suffice that
the prevailing of others may encourage thee to hope, that at last thy
strong corruptions shall also fall by the hand of the grace of God.

3. If thy sadness savour not of envy and fretting, thou should bless him
that hereby thou art put to the exercise of spiritual sorrow.

4. It is well if this bring thee to bless God for the success of
others, because hereby his grace is glorified, 1 Cor. xii. 26.

Therefore, 5. Let this satisfy us, That he is the Lord, who doeth what
he will in heaven and in earth, and may dispose of us as he will, and
make of us what he will, for his own glory. And that we are to mind our
duty, and be faithful at our post, standing and fighting in the strength
of the Lord, resolving never to comply with the enemy, and to rejoice in
this, that the enemy is already conquered by the captain, and that we
share in his victory, and that the very God of peace shall quickly
bruise Satan under our feet, Rom. xvi. 20.



CHAPTER VII.

HOW CHRIST IS TO BE MADE USE OF, IN REFERENCE TO GROWING IN GRACE.


I come now to speak a little to the other part of sanctification, which
concerneth the change of our nature and frame, and is called
vivification, or quickening of the new man of grace; which is called the
new man, as having all its several members and parts, as well as the old
man; and called new, because posterior to the other; and after
regeneration is upon the growing hand, this duty of growing in grace, as
it is called, 2 Pet. iii. &c. is variously expressed and held forth to
us in Scripture; for it is called "an abiding and bringing forth fruit
in Christ," John xv. 5; "adding to faith virtue, and to virtue
knowledge," 2 Pet. i. 5, 6, 7; "a going on to perfection," Heb. vii. 1;
"a growing up in Christ in all things," Eph. iv. 15; "a working out our
salvation," Phil. ii. 12; "a perfecting of holiness," 2 Cor. vii. 1; "a
walking in newness of life," Rom. vi. 4; "a yielding of ourselves unto
God, as alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of
righteousness unto God," Rom. vi. 13, 18; "a bringing forth fruit unto
God," Rom, vii. 4; "a serving in newness of spirit," Rom. vii. 6; "a
being renewed in the spirit of our minds, and a putting on the new man,
which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. iv.
23,24. Col. iii. 10, and the like: some whereof do more immediately
express the nature of this change, as to the root, and some as to the
fruit and effects thereof, and some the progress and advancement that is
made or to be made therein. And all of them point out a special piece of
work, which lieth on all that would see the face of God, viz. to be
holy, gracious, and growing in grace.

This, then, being a special piece of the exercise and daily work of a
Christian, and it being certain, as some of the places now cited do also
affirm, that without Christ they cannot get this work either begun or
carried on, the main difficulty and question is, How they are to make
use of Christ for this end?

For answer whereunto, though by what we have said in our former
discourse, it may be easy to gather what is to be said here; yet I shall
briefly put the reader in mind of those things, as useful here.

1. The believer would consider what an ornament this is to the soul, to
have on this new man, which is created after the image of God, Eph. iv.
23. What an excellency lieth here, to recover that lost glory, holiness
and the image of God? and what advantage the soul reapeth hereby, when
it "is made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in
light," Col. i. 12; "and walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,
being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of
God," Col. i. 10; "and strengthened with all might, according to his
glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering, with joyfulness,"
ver. 11; and when the abounding of the graces of the Spirit maketh them
"that they shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of
our Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. i. 8; "and to be a vessel unto honour,
sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every
work," 2 Tim. ii. 21. What glory and peace is here, to be found obedient
unto the many commands given to be holy: what hazard is in the want of
holiness, when without it we cannot see God, Heb. xii. 14: how
unanswerable it is unto our profession, who are members to such a holy
head, to be unholy: what profit, joy, and satisfaction there is, in
being temples of the Holy Ghost, in walking after the Spirit, in
bringing forth fruit unto the glory of the Father, &c. The consideration
of these and other motives unto this study of sanctification, would arm
the soul with resolution, and harden it against opposition.

2. It would be remembered, that this work, though it be laid upon us, as
our duty, and we be called thereunto of God, yet it is beyond our hand
and power. It is true, at conversion, the seed of grace is cast into the
soul, new habits are infused, a new principle of life is given, the
stony heart is changed into an heart of flesh; yet these principles and
habits cannot act in themselves, or be brought into act, by any thing
that a believer, considered in himself, and without divine help, can do.
But this work of sanctification and growth in grace must be carried on
by divine help, by the Spirit of Jesus dwelling and working within; and
therefore it is called the sanctification of the Spirit, 2 Thess. ii.
13. 1 Pet. i. 2. The God of peace must sanctify us, I Thess. v. 23. We
are said to be sanctified by God the Father, Jude 1.; and by the Holy
Ghost, Rom. xv. 16; see also 1 Cor. vi. 11. "We would remember that of
ourselves we can do nothing," 2 Cor. iii. 5, and "that he must work in
us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure," Phil. ii. 13.
Albeit no believer will question the truth of this; yet it may be, it
shall be found after trial, that one main cause of their not growing in
grace, and making progress in this work, is their not acting as
believing this, but setting about the work, as if it were a work which
they themselves could master and do without special divine help.
Therefore the believer would abide, live, and act, in the faith of this
truth.

3. Therefore believers would not, in going about this work, either trust
to their own strength, to the habits of grace, to their former
experiences, to their knowledge and parts, or the like; nor yet would
they trust to any external mean, which they are to go about; because the
wisdom, strength, and help, which their case calleth for, is not to be
found in them; yet they should not think of laying these means and
duties aside, for then should they sin against God; they should prejudge
themselves of the help, strength, and supply, which God useth to convey
to the soul, in and by the use of the means. And withal, they should
tempt the Lord, by prescribing another way to him than he hath thought
good to take. The believer, then, would use the means and duties
prescribed, and that diligently, seriously, and constantly; and yet
would lean as little to them, and expect help and relief as little from
them, as if he were not using them at all, as we said above. And indeed
this would be a right way; yea, the most advantageous and profitable
way, of going about duties, to be diligent in the use of them, because
of God's command, and yet to place our hope and expectation in God
alone, and to look above the ordinances for our help.

4. Albeit it be true that the power and grace of God alone, doth begin
and carry on this work of sanctification in the soul: yet though he
might, did he but see it for his glory, carry on and finish this work in
the soul, without the intervention of second causes or means, he hath
notwithstanding thought it fit, for the glory of his name, to work this
work by means, and particularly by believers setting about the work. He
worketh not in man as if he were a block or a stone, but useth him as a
rational creature, endued with a rational soul, having useful and
necessary faculties, and a body fired by organs to be subservient to the
soul in its actions. Therefore the believer must not think to lie by and
do nothing, for he is commanded to work out his own salvation, and that
because it is God that worketh in him both to will and to do. Because
God worketh all, therefore he should work; so reasoneth the apostle. So
that God's working is an argument and motive to the man to work, and not
an argument to him to lie by idle and do nothing. And here is the holy
art and divine skill requisite in this business, to wit, for the
believer to be as diligent and active as if he could bring forth fruit
in his own strength, and by his own working; and yet to be as abstracted
from himself, his own grace, ability, knowledge, experience, in his
working, as if he were lying by like a mere block, and only moving as
moved by external force.

5. The soul that would make progress in Christianity, and grow in grace,
would remember that Christ is proposed to us as a copy, which we are to
imitate, and that therefore we should set Christ continually before us
as our pattern, that we may follow his steps, 1 Pet. i. 15, and ii. 21.
But withal it would be remembered, that he is not like other ensamples
or copies, that can help the man that imitateth them in no other way
than by their objective prospect; for looking by faith on this copy,
will bring virtue to the man that studieth to imitate, whereby he shall
be enabled to follow his copy better. O! if we knew in experience what
this were, to take a look of Christ's love, patience, long-suffering,
meekness, hatred of sin, zeal, &c, and by faith to pore in, till, by
virtue proceeding from that copy, we found our hearts in some measure
framed into the same disposition, or at least more inclined to be cast
into the same mould!

6. The believer would act faith on Christ, as the head of the body, and
as the stock in which the branches are ingrafted, and thereby suck sap,
and life, and strength from him, that he may work, walk, and grow, as
becometh a Christian. The believer must grow up in him, being a branch
in him, and must bring forth fruit in him, as the forementioned places
clear. Now, Christ himself tells us, that the branches cannot bring
forth fruit, except they abide in the vine; and that no more can his
disciples bring forth, except they abide in him, John xv. Therefore, as
it is by faith that the soul, as a branch, is united to Christ, as the
vine; and as it is by faith that they abide in him; so it is by faith
that they must bring forth fruit; and this faith must grip Christ as the
vine, and the stock or root from which cometh sap, life, and strength.
Faith, then, must look to Christ as the fountain of furniture--as the
head from whence cometh all the influences of strength and motion.
Christ hath strength and life enough to give out, for "the fulness of
the Godhead dwelleth in him bodily;" and he is also willing enough to
communicate of his fulness, as the relations he hath taken on do
witness. The head will not grudge to give to the members of the body,
spirits for action and motion; nor will a vine grudge to give sap into
the branches. Nay, life, strength, and furniture will, as it were,
natively flow out of Christ unto believers, except they, through
unbelief, and other distempers, cause obstructions; as life and sap doth
natively and kindly flow from the root to the branches, or from the head
to the members, unless obstructions stop the passage. It is necessary,
therefore, that believers eye Christ under these and the like relations,
and look upon him as standing, (so to speak,) obliged by his place and
relation, to grant strength and influences of life, whereby they may
become fruitful in every good work; and so with holy, humble, and
allowed boldness, press in faith for new communications of grace,
virtue, strength, courage, activity, and what else they need; for, from
the head, all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment
ministered, increaseth with the increase of God. Col. ii. 19. Eph. iv.
16.

7. For this cause believers would lie open to the influences of Christ,
and guard against the putting of obstructions in the way, through
grieving of the Spirit, by which he conveyeth and communicateth those
influences unto the soul; and through questioning and misbelieving
Christ's faithfulness and unchangeable willingness, which as a violent
humour stoppeth the passage. So then believers would lie open by looking
and waiting, drawing, seeking from him what they need, and by guarding
against every thing that may provoke the Lord to anger, whether in
omission or commission. Here is requisite, an holy, humble, sober, and
watchful walk; an earnest, serious, and hungry looking out to him, and a
patient waiting for supply and furniture from him. This is to open the
mouth wide that he may fill it; to lie before the Sun of Righteousness,
that the beams thereof may beat upon them, and warm and revive them; and
to wait as a beggar at this King's gate, till he give the alms.

8. For the strengthening their hope and faith in this, they would lay
hold upon Christ dying, and by his death purchasing all those
influences of life and strength which are requisite for carrying on the
work of grace and sanctification in the soul. For we must be "blessed in
Christ with all spiritual blessings," Eph. i. 3. The believer, then,
would look upon these influences, as purchased at a dear rate, by the
blood of Jesus Christ; so that the divine power giveth unto us all
things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of
him that hath called us to glory and virtue, 2 Peter i. 3. And this will
encourage the soul to wait on, and expect the flowing down of
influences, and spiritual blessings and showers of grace, to cause the
soul to flourish and become fruitful, and to urge and press more
earnestly by faith the bestowing of the purchased benefits.

9. Moreover, the believer would look on Jesus as standing engaged and
obliged to carry on this work, both receiving them as for this end, from
the Father. Hence we are said "to be chosen in him before the foundation
of the world, that we should be holy," &c. Eph. i. 4; and as dying for
them. For he gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify and
cleanse it, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, that
it should be holy, Eph. v. 25-27. He hath reconciled them, in the body
of his flesh, through death, to present them holy, Col. i. 2, 22. So
that the noble covenant of redemption may found the certain hope and
expectation of the believer, upon a double account: (1.) Upon the
account of the Father's faithfulness, who promised a seed to Jesus, viz.
such as should be his children, and so be sanctified through him, and
that the pleasure of the Lord, which in part is the work of
sanctification, should prosper in his hand. And, (2.) Upon the account
of Christ's undertaking and engaging, as is said, to bring his sons and
daughters to glory, which must be thought sanctification; for without
holiness no man shall see God. And they must look like himself, who is a
holy head, a holy husband, a holy captain; and therefore they must be
holy members, a holy spouse, and holy soldiers. So that he standeth
engaged to sanctify them by his Spirit and word, and therefore is called
the sanctifier, Heb. ii. 11; "for both he that sanctifieth, and they
who are sanctified, are all one." Yea, their union with Christ layeth
the foundation of this; for "being joined to the Lord, they become one
Spirit," 1 Cor. vi. 17, and are animated and quickened by one and the
same Spirit of life and grace, and therefore must be sanctified by that
Spirit.

10. The believer likewise would act faith upon the promises of the new
covenant, of grace, strength, life, &c, whereby they shall walk in his
ways, have God's laws put into their minds, and wrote in their hearts,
Heb. viii. 10. Jer. xxxi. 33; and of the new heart, and new spirit, and
the heart of flesh, and the Spirit within them, to cause them walk in
his ways or statutes, and keep his judgments, and do them, Ezek. xxxvi.
26, 27, and the like, wherewith the Scripture aboundeth; because these
are all given over to the believer by way of testament and legacy,
Christ becoming the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of
death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the
first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of
eternal inheritance, Heb. ix. 15. Now, Christ, by his death, hath
confirmed this testament; "for where a testament is, there must also of
necessity be the death of the testator; for a testament is of force
after men are dead," vers. 16, 17. Christ, then, dying to make the
testament of force, hath made the legacy of the promises sure unto the
believer; so that now all the "promises are yea and amen in Christ," 2
Cor. i. 20. "He was made a minister of circumcision to confirm the
promises made to the fathers," Rom. xv. 8. That the eyeing of these
promises by faith is a noble mean to sanctification, is clear, by what
the apostle saith, 2 Cor. vii. 1, "Having therefore these promises, let
us cleanse ourselves; perfecting holiness in the fear of God." And it is
by faith that those promises must be received, Heb. xi. 33: So that the
believer that would grow in grace, would eye Christ, the fundamental
promise, the testator establishing the testament, and the executor or
dispensator of the covenant, and expect the good things through him, and
from him, through the conduit and channel of the promises.

11. Yet further, believers would eye Christ in his resurrection, as a
public person, and so look on themselves, and reckon themselves as
rising virtually in and with him, and take the resurrection of Christ as
a certain pawn and pledge of their sanctification; for so reasoneth the
apostle, Rom. vi. 4, 5, 11, 13. "We are buried," says he, "with him by
baptism unto death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life:
For--we shall be also planted in the likeness of his resurrection; and
if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with
him:--therefore reckon ye also yourselves to be--alive unto God, through
Jesus Christ our Lord, and yield yourselves unto God, as those that are
alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness
unto God." The right improving of this ground would be of noble
advantage to the student of holiness: for then he might with strong
confidence conclude, that the work of sanctification should prosper in
his hand; for he may now look upon himself as "quickened together with
Christ," Eph. ii. 5. Christ dying and rising, as a public person, and he
by faith being now joined with him, and united to him.

12. Moreover this resurrection of Christ may yield us another ground of
hope and confidence in this work; for there is mention made of the power
of his resurrection, Phil. iii. 10. So that by faith we may draw
strength and virtue from Christ, as an arisen and quickened head,
whereby we also may live unto God, and bring forth fruit unto him, and
serve no more in the oldness of the letter, "but in the newness of the
Spirit," Rom. vii. 4, 6. He was quickened as a head, and when the head
is quickened, the members cannot but look for some communication of life
therefrom, and to live in the strength of the life of the head: see Col.
iii. 1, 2.

13. Faith may and should also look to Christ, as an intercessor with the
Father. For this particular, John xvii. 17, "Sanctify them through thy
truth, thy Word is truth:" and this will add to their confidence, that
the work shall go on; for Christ was always heard of the Father, John
xi. 41, 42, and so will be in his prayer, which was not put up for the
few disciples alone.

The believer then would eye Christ as engaging to the Father to begin
and perfect this work; as dying to purchase the good things promised,
and to confirm the same; as quickened, and rising as head and public
person, to ensure this work, and to bestow and actually confer the
graces requisite; and as praying also for the Father's concurrence, and
cast the burden of the work on him by faith, knowing that he standeth
obliged, by his place and relation to his people, to bear all their
burthens, to work all their works in them, to perfect his own work that
he hath begun in them, to present them to himself at last a holy bride,
to give them the Spirit "to dwell in them," Rom. viii. 9, 11 "and to
quicken their mortal bodies," ver. 11, "and to lead them," ver. 14;
"till at length they be crowned, and brought forward to glory." This is
to live by faith, when Christ liveth, acteth, and worketh in us by his
Spirit, Gal. ii. 20. Thus Christ dwelleth in the heart by faith; and by
this his people become rooted and grounded in love, which is a cardinal
grace; and knowing the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, they
become filled with all the fulness of God, Eph. iii. 17, 19. So that the
believer is to commit by faith the work to Christ, and leave the stress
of all the business on him who is their life. Yet the believer must not
think he is to do nothing, or to lay aside the means of ordinances, but
using these diligently, would in them commit the matter to Christ, and
by faith roll the whole work on him, expecting, upon the ground of his
relations, engagements, promises, beginnings, &c., that he will
certainly perfect the work, (Phil. i. 6,) and take it well off their
hands, and be well pleased with them for putting the work in his hands,
and leaving it on him "who is made of God to us sanctification."


CAUTIONS.

As in the former part, so here it will not be amiss to give a few words
of caution, for preventing of mistakes.

1. We would beware of thinking that perfection can be attained here:
the perfect man and measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ is
but coming, and till then the body will be a perfecting and edifying,
through the work of the ministry, Eph. iv. 12, 13. Believers must not
think of sitting down on any measure of grace which they attain to here;
but they must be growing in grace, going from strength to strength, till
they appear in the upper Zion with the apostle, Phil. iii. 13.
"Forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those
things which are before, they must press toward the mark, for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." It must then be a dreadful
delusion for any to think that they can reach to such a degree of
perfection here, as not to stand in need of the ordinance any more. Let
all believers live in the constant conviction of their shortcoming, and
be humbled, and so work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

2. Nor should every believer expect one and the same measure of
holiness, nor can it be expected with reason that all shall advance here
to the same height of sanctity; for every part of the body hath its own
measure, and an effectual working in that measure: and so every joint of
the body supplieth less or more, according to its proportion, and
contributeth to the increase of the body, and to the edifying of itself
in love, as the apostle clearly sheweth, Eph. iv. 16. As in the natural
body the diversity of functions and uses of the members requireth
diversity of furniture and strength, so in the mystical body of Christ
the members have not all alike measure, but each hath his proper
distinct measure, according to his place and usefulness in the body.
Believers then would learn much sobriety here and submission, knowing
that God may dispense his graces as he will, and give them to each
member in what measure he thinketh good: only they would take heed, that
their poverty and leanness be not occasioned through their own
carelessness and negligence, in not plying the means of grace with that
faithfulness and single dependence on Christ that they ought.

3. It would be remembered, that there may be some progress made in the
way of holiness, when yet the believer may apprehend no such thing; not
only because the measure of the growth may be so small and
indiscernible, but also because even where the growth in itself is
discernible, the Lord may think it good, for wise ends, to hide it from
their eyes, that they may be kept humble and diligent; whereas, if they
saw how matters stood indeed with them, they might (without a new degree
of grace) swell and be puffed up, yea, even forget God, and misken
themselves and others too. Likewise this may proceed from such an
earnest desire after more, that they forget any measure they have
gotten, and so despise the day of small things.

4. There may be a great progress in holiness, though not in that
particular which the believer is most eyeing to his sense and
apprehension: for when he thinks he is not growing in love to and zeal
for God, &c, he may be growing in humility, which is also a member of
the new man of grace; and when he can perceive no growth in knowledge,
there may be a growth in affection and tenderness. And if the work be
carried on in any joint or member, it decayeth in none, though it may be
better apprehended in one than another.

5. There may be much holiness, where the believer is complaining of the
want of fruits, when under that dispensation of the Lord towards him, he
is made to stoop before the Most High, to put his mouth in the dust, if
so be there may be hope, and pleasantly to submit to God's wise
ordering, without grudging or quarrelling with God for what he doth, and
to accept sweetly the punishment of his iniquity, if he see guilt lying
at the root of this dispensation. Where there is a silent submission to
the sovereign and only wise disposing hand of God, and the man is
saying, if he will not have me to be a fruitful tree in his garden, nor
to grow and flourish as the palm-tree, let me be a shrub, only let me be
kept within the precincts of his garden, that his eye may be upon me for
good; let me abide within his courts, that I may behold his countenance,
there is grace, and no small measure of grace. To be an hired servant is
much, Luke xv. 19.

6. But withal, it would be observed, that this gracious frame of soul,
that is silent before God, under several disappointments, is accompanied
with much singleness of heart, in panting after more holiness, and with
seriousness and diligence in all commanded duties, waiting upon the
Lord, who is their hope and their salvation in each of them, and with
mourning for their own sinful accession to that shortcoming in their
expectations.

7. We would not think that there is no progress in Christianity, or
growth in grace, because it cometh not our way, or by the instruments
and means that we must expect it by. Possibly we are too fond on some
instruments and means that we prefer to others; and we think, if ever we
get good, it must be that way, and by that means, be it private or
public: and God may give a proof of his sovereignty, and check us for
our folly, by taking another way. He would not be found of the bride,
neither by her seeking of him secretly on her bed by night; nor more
publicly, by going about the city, in the streets and broad ways; nor by
the means of the watchmen, Cant. iii. 1, 2, 3.

8. Nor would we think that there is no growth in the work of grace,
because it cometh not at such or such prelimited or fore-set time; nor
would we think the matter desperate, because of our looking long, and
waiting, and asking, and labouring, and yet seeing no sensible
advantage. Such and such a believer, saith the soul, made great progress
in a short time, but I come no speed, for as long as I have been at this
school. O! we should beware of limiting the Holy One of Israel. Let us
be at duty, and commit the event to him.

9. It is not a fit time to take the measure of our graces, as to their
sensible growth and fruitfulness, when devils are broken loose upon us;
temptations are multiplied, corruptions make a great noise, and we are
meeting with a horrible tempest shaking us on all hands: for it will be
strong grace that will much appear then; it will be strong faith that
will say, Though he kill me, yet will I trust in him. At such a time it
will be much if the man keep the ground he hath gained, though he make
no progress. It will be much for a tree to stand, and not to be blown
out of the ground, in the time of a strong and vehement storm, of wind,
though it keep not its flourishes and yield not fruit The trees, which
in a cold winter day bear neither leaves nor fruit, must not be said to
go back, nor not to grow; because when the spring cometh again, they may
revive and be as fruitful as ever.

10. We would not always measure our graces by what appeareth outwardly;
for there may be some accidental occurrence that may hinder that, and
yet grace be at work within doors, which few or none can observe. The
believer may be in a sweet and gracious frame, blushing before the Lord,
yea, melting in love, or taken up with spiritual meditations and
wondering, when as to some external duties, it can find no present
disposition, through some accidental impediment or other, so that to
some, who judge most by outward appearance, no such things as the active
working of grace in life can appear.

11. We would think it no small measure or degree of holiness, to be with
singleness of heart pursuing it, even though it should seem to flee from
us; to be earnestly panting after it, and hungering and thirsting for
it. Nehemiah thought this no small thing, when he said, Neh. i. 11, "O
Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of
thy servants who desire to fear thy name."

12. Whatever measure of holiness the believer win to, he would take
special heed that he place no part of his confidence of his being
accepted and justified before God in it, as if that could come in any
part of the price to satisfy justice: but when he hath done all, let him
call and account himself an unprofitable servant. Though believers will
not be so gross as to speak thus, yet sure their justifying of their
holding a-back from God, because they find not such a measure of grace
and holiness as they would have, looketh too much this way, and saith,
that they lean too much hereunto in the matter of the acceptance of
their persons before God. Now this should be specially guarded against,
lest their labour be in vain.


OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.

An objection or two must here also be removed. And 1. Some may say, that
though they have been labouring, and striving, and working now for some
long time, yet they can perceive no advancement; they are as far short
as ever.

_Ans_. Hath it not been found, that some have complained without cause?
Have not some complained of their unfruitfulness and want of growth,
that other good Christians would have thought themselves very happy, if
they had but advanced half so far as they saw them to have done?

But be it so, as it is alleged, what if the fault be their own? What if
the cause of this be, that they attempt things in their own strength,
leaning to their own understanding, or habits of grace, or means, &c.,
and that they do not go about duties with that single dependence on
Christ that is requisite, nor do they suck life, strength, and sap from
him, by faith through the promises, nor give themselves up to him by
faith, that he may work in them both to will and to do. Should not this
be seen, mourned for, and helped?

3. If all this shortcoming and disappointment cause them lie in the
dust, and humble themselves more and more before the Lord, the grace of
humiliation is growing, and that is no small advantage, to be growing
downward.

4. Withal, they would do well to hold on in duty, looking to Christ for
help, and rolling all difficulties on him, give themselves away to him,
as their head and Lord, and so continue their life of faith, or their
consenting to let Christ live in them by faith, or work in them by his
Spirit what is well-pleasing in his sight, and wait for the blessing and
fruit in God's own time.

_Next_, It will be objected, Though we might wait thus, yet how
unedifying are we unto others, when there appeareth no fruit of the
spirit of grace in us.

_Ans_. A Christian behaviour and deportment under the sense of
fruitlessness, expressing an holy submission of soul unto God, as
sovereign, much humility of mind before him, justifying of God, and
taking guilt to themselves, with a firm resolution, to wait on patiently
in the use of means appointed, cannot but be edifying to Christian
souls; such exercises being really the works and fruit of the spirit of
grace working within.

But, _thirdly_, some may say, How then are the promises of the covenant
made good?

_Ans_. 1. The same measure of sanctification and holiness is not
promised to all.

2. No great measure is promised to any absolutely. So much indeed is
secured to all believers as shall carry them to heaven, as without which
they cannot see God. But much as to the degree depends on our performing
through faith the conditions requisite, to wit, on condition of our
abiding in the vine, of our acting faith on him, &c.; and when these and
the like conditions are not faithfully performed by us, what can we
expect? So the Lord hath appointed a way wherein he will be found, and
will have us to wait for strength and influence from him; and if we
neglect these means which he hath appointed, how can we expect the good
which he hath promised in the use of these means?

3. The Lord has his own time of making good all his promises, and we
must not limit him to a day.

4. Hereby the Lord may be trying and exercising thy faith, patience,
hope, dependence, submission, diligence, &c., and "if these be in thee,
and abound, they shall make that thou shalt neither be barren nor
unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. i. 11.

But _lastly_, It will be inquired, what can support the believing soul
in this case?

_Ans_. 1. The consideration and faith of the covenant of redemption,
wherein both the Father's engagement of the Son, and the Son's
engagement to the Father, secureth grace and holiness, and salvation to
the believer. And whatever we be, they will be true to each other,--our
unbelief will not make the faith of God of none effect.

2. The consideration of the noble and faithful promises contained in the
covenant of grace, which shall all be made good in due time.

3. If we be humbled under the sense of our failings and shortcomings,
and made to mourn before the Lord, stirred up to more diligence and
seriousness, that may yield comfort to our soul. If we be growing in
humility, godly sorrow, repentance, diligence, and be gripping faster by
faith to the root, we want not ground of joy and support; for if that
be, we cannot want fruit.

4. It should be matter of joy and thanksgiving, that the believer is
kept from turning his back on the way of God, and kept with his face
still Zion-ward. Though he make but little progress, yet he is still
looking forward, and creeping as he may, waiting at God's door, begging
and asking, studying, labouring, and endeavouring for strength to go
faster.

5. It is no small matter of peace and comfort, if we be kept from
fretting, grudging and repining at the Lord's dispensations with us, and
be taught to sit silent in the dust, adoring his sovereignty, and
ascribing no iniquity to our Maker.



CHAPTER VIII.

HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST FOR TAKING THE GUILT OF OUR DAILY
OUT-BREAKINGS AWAY.


The next part of our sanctification is in reference to our daily
failings and transgressions, committed partly through the violence of
temptations, as we see in David and Peter, and other eminent men of God;
partly through daily infirmities, because of our weakness and
imperfections; for, "in many things we offend all," James iii. 2; and,
"if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in
us," 1 John i. 8; "a righteous man falleth seven times," Prov. xxiv. 16;
"there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not,"
Eccl. vii. 20; and Solomon further saith, 1 Kings viii. 46, "That there
is no man that sinneth not." This being so, the question is, how Christ
is to be made use of, for taking these away.

For satisfaction to this, it would be considered, that in those daily
out breakings there are two things to be noticed. _First_, There is the
guilt which is commonly called _reatus paenae_, whereby the transgressor
is liable to the sentence of the law, or to the penalty annexed to the
breach thereof, which is no less than God's curse; for "cursed is every
one that abideth not in all things, which are in the law to do them,"
Gal. iii. 10. _Next_, There is the stain or blot, which is called
_reatus culpae_, whereby the soul is defiled, and made in so far
incapable of glory, (for nothing entereth in there which defileth,) and
of communion and fellowship with God, who is of purer eyes than he can
behold iniquity. So that it is manifest, how necessary it is that both
these be taken away, that they may not stand in our way to the Father.
And as to both, we must make use of Christ, who is the only way to the
Father.

And this we shall now clear. And, _first_, speak of the taking away of
the guilt that is contracted by every sin. And for this cause we shall
speak briefly to two things. (1.) Shew what Christ hath done as
Mediator, for this end, that the guilt contracted by our daily failings
and out-breakings, might be taken away. (2.) Shew what the believer
should do for the guilt taken away in Christ; or how he should make use
of Christ for reconciliation with God after transgressions; or, for the
taking away of the guilt that he lieth under, because of his violation
of the law.

As to the first, we say, Christ, for taking away of guilt contracted
daily, hath done these things:

1. Christ laid down his life a ransom for all the sins of the elect;
both such as were past before they believed, and such as were to be
committed after. His blood was shed for the remission of sins
indefinitely, and without distinction, Matt. xxvi. 28.

2. And this was done according to the tenor of the covenant of
redemption, wherein the Father "caused all our sins to meet together on
him," Isa. liii. 6; and made him sin, or a sacrifice for sin,
indefinitely, 2 Cor. v. 21; and so did not except the sins committed
after conversion.

3. Having satisfied justice, and being risen from the dead as a
conqueror, he is now exalted to "be a prince, to give repentance and
remission of sins," Acts v. 31. Now repentance and remission of sins his
people have need of, after conversion as well as before conversion.

4. There are promises of pardon and remission of sins in the new
covenant of grace, all which are sealed and confirmed in the blood of
Jesus, Jer. xxxi. 34, "For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will
remember their sin no more." And chap, xxxiii. 8, "And I will cleanse
them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I
will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have sinned, and whereby
they have transgressed against me." Isa. xliii. 25, "I, even I, am he
that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake; and will not
remember thy sins."

5. Though there be no actual pardon of sins, till they be committed, and
repented of, according to the tenor of the gospel, Matt. iii. 2, Luke
xiii. 3. Acts ii. 38; and viii. 22; yet while Christ bare all the sins
of his people upon the cross, they were all then virtually and
meritoriously taken away; of which Christ's resurrection was a certain
pledge and evidence; for then got he his acquitance from all that either
law or justice could charge him with, in behalf of them, for whom he
laid down his life a ransom. Rom. viii. 33, 34, "Who shall lay anything
to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that
condemneth? It is Christ that died, or rather that is risen again."

6. So that by virtue of Christ's death, there is a way laid down, in the
covenant of grace, how the sins of the elect shall be actually pardoned,
viz. that at their conversion and first laying hold on Christ by faith,
all the sins, whereof they then stand guilty, shall be actually pardoned
and forgiven, in their justification; and all their after-sins shall
also be actually pardoned, upon their griping to Christ of new by faith,
and turning to God by repentance. And this way is agreed to by Father
and Son, and revealed in the gospel, for the instruction and
encouragement of believers; and all to the glory of his free grace. "In
whom we have redemption, (saith the apostle, Eph. i. 7-9) through his
blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having
made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good
pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself."

7. Beside Christ's death and resurrection, which give ground of hope, of
pardon, of daily out-breakings, there is likewise his intercession
useful for this end. For, so saith the apostle, 1 John ii. 1, 2, "If any
man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins." This intercession
is a special part of his priesthood, who was the great high priest, Heb.
iv. 14, 1; and a completing part, Heb. viii. 4, and ix. 8; and upon this
account it is, that "He is able to save to the uttermost, all that come
to God through him, because he liveth for ever to make intercession for
them," Heb. vii. 25. For by his intercession is the work of redemption
carried on, the purchased benefits applied, and particularly, new grants
of remission are, through his intercession, issued forth: he pleading
and interceding, in a way suitable, to his glorified condition, upon his
death and propitiation made, while he was upon the cross, accepted of
the Father, and declared to be accepted by his resurrection, ascension,
and sitting at his Father's right hand. And thus, as believers are
reconciled to God by Christ's death, they are saved by his life, Rom. v.
10. So that Christ's living to be an intercessor, makes the salvation
sure; and so laying down a ground for taking away of daily
out-breakings, which, if not taken away, would hinder and obstruct the
believer's salvation.

8. And as for the condition requisite to renewed pardon, viz. faith and
repentance, Christ is the worker of both. For he is a prince exalted to
give repentance, first and last, Acts iv. 30; and as he is the author of
faith, so he is the finisher of it, Heb. xii. 2.

As to the _second_ particular, namely, what believers should do for
getting the guilt of their daily failings and out-breakings taken away
by Christ; or how they should make use of Christ for this end, I shall,
for clearing of it, propose those things to consideration:

1. We would beware to think, that all our after actual transgressions
are actually pardoned, either when Christ died, or when we first
believed in Christ, as some suppose; for sin cannot properly be said to
be pardoned before it be committed. David was put to sue out for pardon,
after his actual transgression was committed, and not for the mere sense
and feeling of the pardon, or the intimation of it to his spirit, when
he cried out, Psalm li. 2, "Blot out my transgressions, wash me," &c;
and verse 9, "Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my
iniquities;" and verse 14, "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness." Sure when
he spoke thus, he sought some other thing than intimation of pardon to
his sense and conscience; for that he desired also, but in far more
clear expressions, verse 8, "Make me to hear joy and gladness," &c.; and
verse 12, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation," &c. Scripture
phrases to express remission import this, viz. covering of sin,
pardoning of debts, blotting out of sins, hiding of God's face from sin,
not remembering of them, casting of them behind his back, casting of
them into the sea, removing of sin, Psalm xxxiii. 1, 2. These and the
like phrases, though many of them be metaphorical, yet do all of them
clearly evince, that sin must first have a being before it can be
pardoned. The same is clearly imported by the gospel conditions
requisite before pardon; such as acknowledgment of sin, (1 John i. 9)
which we see was practised by the worthies of old; David, Psalm xxxii.
51. Nehemiah, chap. ix. Ezra, chap. ix. and Daniel, chap. ix. Confessing
and forsaking of it, Prov. xxviii. 13. Sorrowing for it, and repenting
of it, and laying hold on Christ by faith, &c.

The reason why I propose this, is not only to guard against this
Antinomian error, but also to guard the soul from security, to which
this doctrine hath a natural tendency. For if a person once think, that
all his sins were pardoned, upon his first believing, so that many of
them were pardoned before they were committed; he shall never be
affected for his after transgressions, nor complain of a body of death,
nor account himself miserable upon that account, as Paul did, Rom. vii.
24; nor shall he ever pray for remission, though Christ has taught all
to do so, in that pattern of prayer; nor shall he act faith upon the
promise of pardon made in the covenant of grace for after
transgressions, or for transgressions actually committed, Jer. xxxi. 34,
and xxxiii. 8. Heb. viii. 12; and so there shall be no use made of
Christ for new pardons, or remissions of new sins.

2. The believer would remember, that among other things, antecedently
requisite to remission of posterior actual transgressions, gospel
repentance is especially required, (Luke xiii. 3. Matt. iii. 2. Ezek.
xviii. 28, 30. Luke xv. 17,18. Hos. ii. 6, 7. Ezek. xiv. 6,) whereby a
sinner, through the help of the Spirit, being convinced not only of his
hazard by reason of sin, but also of the hatefulness and filthiness of
sin; and having a sight of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus to sinners,
turning from their sin, doth turn from those sins unto God, with a full
purpose of heart, in his strength, to follow him, and obey his laws. And
hereby the soul is brought to loathe itself and sin, and is made willing
to desire, seek for, accept of, and prize remissions of sins. This makes
them more wary and careful in time coming; "For behold," says the
apostle, 2 Cor. vii. 11, "this self same thing that ye sorrowed after a
godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of
yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement
desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge," &c. Thus is God glorified in
his justice, Psalm li. 4; and his mercy is acknowledged, in not entering
with us into judgment, nor casting us into hell, as he might have done
in justice.

3. Yet it would be remembered, that though it hath seemed good in the
Lord's eyes to choose this method, and appoint this way of obtaining
pardon of sins daily committed, for the glory of his grace and mercy;
and likewise for our good, we must not ascribe too much unto repentance,
in the matter of pardon. We must not make it a cause of our remission,
either efficient or meritorious. We must not think that it hath any hand
in appeasing the wrath of God, or in satisfying justice. Pardon must
always be an act of God's free grace, unmerited at our hands, and
procured alone through the merits of Christ. We must not put repentance
in Christ's room and place, nor ascribe any imperfection unto his
merits, as if they needed any supply from any act of ours. We must
beware of leaning to our repentance and godly sorrow, even so far as to
think to commend ourselves to God, thereby that we may obtain pardon.

4. The believer would consider seriously the dreadfulness of their
condition who are lying under the lash of the law for sin. The law
saith, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in
the law;" and every sin is a transgression of the law. So that,
according to law and justice, they are in hazard. For every sin in
itself exposeth the sinner to eternal wrath, sin being an offence
against God, who is a righteous judge, and a breach of his law. A right
sight and apprehension of this, would serve to humble the sinner before
God, and make him more earnest in seeking out for pardon, that this
obligation to punishment might be removed.

5. The believer would not only consider the sin itself, but also take
notice of all its aggravations. There are peculiar aggravations of some
sins taken from the time, manner, and other circumstances, which,
rightly considered, will help forward the work of humiliation. And the
sins of believers have this aggravation above the sins of others, that
they are committed against more love, and special love, and against more
opposition and contradiction of the grace of God within the soul,
against more light and conviction, &c. And therefore their humiliation
upon this account ought to be singular and serious. So was it with
David, when he took notice of the special aggravation of his sin, Psalm
li. 4, 6, 14, and Ezra, chap ix. and Nehemiah, chap. ix. and Daniel
chap. ix. This considering of sin, with its due aggravations, would help
to prize mercies at a high rate, and cause the soul more willingly wait
for and more seriously seek after remission; knowing that God is more
angry for great sins, than for sins of infirmity, and may therefore
pursue the same with sorer judgments, as he broke David's bones,
withdrew his comforts, &c.

6. The believer would be convinced of an impossibility of doing anything
in himself which can procure pardon at the hands of God; should he
weep, cry, afflict himself, and pray never so, all will do nothing by
way of merit, for taking away of the least sin that ever he committed;
and the conviction of this would drive him to despair in himself, and be
a mean to bring him cleanly off himself, and to look out for mere mercy
in Christ Jesus. So long as, through the deceitfulness of Satan, the
false heart inclineth to the old bias, and hath its eye upon any thing
in itself, from whence it draweth its hopes and expectation of pardon
and acceptance, it will not purely act faith on Christ for this end, and
so he will lose all his labour, and in the end be disappointed.
Therefore the believer would guard against this, and that so much the
more, that the false deceitful heart is so much inclined thereto; and
that this deceit can sometime work so cunningly, that it can hardly be
discerned, being covered over with many false glosses and pretexts; and
that it is so dishonourable to Jesus, and hurtful and prejudicial to the
soul.

7. The believer would act faith on the promises of pardon in the new
covenant, as having a right to them through Jesus Christ, and challenge
with humble boldness, the fulfilling of the same, according to that, 1
John i. 9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins." So that the believer may not only take hold of mercy and
grace in God, as an encouragement and invitation to go to God for
pardon; but even of the justice and righteousness of God, because of his
faithful promises; and the believer would have here a special eye to
Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen; and look for the
accomplishment of them through him, and for his sake alone.

8. Faith would eye Christ, as hanging upon the cross, and offering up
himself, through the eternal Spirit, a sacrifice to satisfy divine
justice, for all the sins of his own chosen ones; we cannot think, that
Christ bare but some of their sins, or only their sins committed before
conversion; and if he bare all, as the Father laid all upon him, the
believer is to lay hold on him by faith, as hanging on the cross, as
well for taking away of the guilt of sins committed after conversion, as
before; his sacrifice was a sacrifice for all, "and he bare our sins
(without distinction or exception,) in his own body on the tree," 1 Pet.
ii. 24. David had his eye on this, when he cried out, Psalm li. 7,
"Purge me with hyssop;" hyssop being sometimes used in the legal
purifications, which typified that purification which Christ really
wrought when he gave himself a sacrifice for sin, Levit. xiv. 6. Num.
xix. 18.

9. The believer looking on Christ, dying as a Mediator, to pacify the
wrath of God, and to make satisfaction to the justice of God, for the
sins of his people, would renew his consent unto that gracious and wise
contrivance of Heaven, of pardoning sins, through a crucified Mediator,
that mercy and justice might kiss each other, and be glorified together;
and declare again his full satisfaction with Christ's satisfying of
justice for him, and taking away the guilt of his sins, by that blood
that was shed upon the cross, by taking those sins, whereof now he
standeth guilty, and for which he is desirous of pardon, and by faith
nailing them to the cross of Christ, and rolling them on his shoulders,
that the guilt of them, as well as of the rest, might be taken away,
through the merits of his death and satisfaction. Thus the believer
consenteth to the noble act of free grace, whereby the Lord made all our
sins to meet together on Christ, when he taketh those particular sins,
wherewith now he is troubled, and casteth them in into the heap, that
Christ, as the true scape-goat, may carry all away. This is to lay our
hands on the head of our sacrifice.

10. The believer hath another ground of comfort to grip to, in this
case, and that is, Christ's eternal priesthood, whereby he makes
intercession for the transgressions of his people, and as their advocate
and attorney with the Father, pleadeth their cause, whereby he is able
to save them to the last and uttermost step of their journey, and so to
save them from the guilt of all casual and emergent sins, that might
hinder their salvation. So that the believer is to put those sins, that
now he would have pardoned, into the hands of Christ, the everlasting
Intercessor, and all-sufficient Advocate, that he, by virtue of his
death, would obtain a new pardon of these their failings and
transgressions, and deliverance from the guilt thereof; and their
acceptance with the Father, notwithstanding of these transgressions.

11. Thus believers eyeing Christ as dying, rising again, ascending, and
as sitting at the Father's right hand, there to be a priest for ever,
after the order of Melchisedec, and to intercede for his own, and to see
to the application of what benefits, pardons, favours, and other things
they need, from all which they have strong ground of comfort and of
hope, yea, and assurance of pardon, would acquiesce in this way; and
having laid those particular sins, under the burden whereof they now
groan, on Christ the Mediator, dying on the cross to make satisfaction,
and arising to make application of what was purchased, and having put
them in his hand, who is a faithful high priest, and a noble
intercessor, would remember, that "Christ is a prince exalted, to give
repentance and remission of sins;" and so expect the sentence even from
him, as a prince now exalted, and as having obtained that of the Father,
even a power to forgive sins, justice being now sufficiently satisfied,
through his death; yea, and as having all power in heaven and in earth,
as being Lord both of the dead and of the living. Sure a right thought
of this would much quiet the soul, in hope of obtaining pardon through
him; seeing now the pardon is in his own hand, to give out, who loved
them so dearly, that he gave himself to the death for them, and shed his
heart blood to satisfy justice for their transgressions. Since he who
hath procured their pardon at so dear a rate, and is their attorney to
agent their business at the throne of grace, hath now obtained the
prayed-for and looked-for pardon, and hath it in his own hand, they will
not question but he will give it, and so absolve them from their guilt.

12. The believer, having taken this course with his daily provocations,
and laid them all on him, would aquiesce in this way, and not seek after
another, that he may obtain pardon. Here he would rest, committing the
matter by faith in prayer to Christ, and leaving his guilt and sins on
him, expect the pardon, yea, conclude, that they are already pardoned;
and that for these sins, he shall never be brought unto condemnation,
whatever Satan and a misbelieving heart may say or suggest afterward.

Thus should a believer make use of Christ, for the taking away of the
guilt of his daily transgressions; and for further clearing of it, I
shall add a few cautions.


CAUTIONS.

1. However the believer is to be much moved at, and affected with his
sins and provocations, which he committeth after God hath visited his
soul with salvation, and brought him into a covenant with himself, yet
he must not suppose, that his sins after justification do mar his state;
as if thereby he were brought into a non-justified state, or to a
non-reconciled state. It is true, such sins, especially if gross,
whether in themselves, or by reason of circumstances, will darken a
man's state, and put him to search and try his condition over again. But
yet we dare not say, that they make any alteration in the state of a
believer; for once in a justified state always in a justified state. It
is true likewise, that as to those sins, which now he hath committed, he
cannot be said to be acquitted or justified, till this pardon be got out
by faith and repentance, as is said; yet his state remaineth fixed and
unchanged; so that though God should seem to deal with such in his
dispensations, as with enemies, yet really his affections change not; he
never accounteth them real enemies; nay, love lieth at the bottom of all
his sharpest dispensations. If they forsake his law, and walk not in his
judgments; if they break his statutes and keep not his commandments, he
will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with
stripes, nevertheless his loving-kindness will he not utterly take from
them, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail; his covenant will he not
break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of his lips, Psalm lxxxix.
30-34. And again, though after transgressions may waken challenges for
former sins, which have been pardoned and blotted out, and give
occasions to Satan to raise a storm in the soul, and put all in
confusion, yet really sins once pardoned cannot become again unpardoned
sins. The Lord doth not revoke his sentence, nor alter the thing that
is gone out of his mouth. It is true likewise, that a believer, by
committing of gross sins, may come to miss the effects of God's favour
and good will, and the intimations of his love and kindness; and so be
made to cry with David, Psalm li. 8, "Make me to hear joy and gladness;"
and ver. 12, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation," &c. Yet that
really holdeth true, that whom he loveth he loveth to the end; and he is
a God that changeth not; and his gifts are without repentance. Yea,
though grieving of the Spirit may bring souls under sharp throes, and
pangs of the spirit of bondage, and the terrors of God, and his sharp
errors, the poison whereof may drink up their spirits, and so be far
from the actual witnessings of the Spirit of adoption; yet the Spirit
will never be again really a spirit of bondage unto fear, nor deny his
own work in the soul, or the soul's real right to, or possession of that
fundamental privilege of adoption,--I say, that the soul is no more a
son, nor within the covenant.

2. The course before mentioned is to be taken with all sins, though,
(1.) They be never so heinous and gross. (2.) Though they be accompanied
with never such aggravating and crying aggravations. (3.) Though they be
sins frequently fallen into; and, (4.) Though they be sins many and
heaped together. David's transgression was a heinous sin, and had
heinous aggravations, yea, there was an heap and a complication of sins
together in that one; yet he followed this course. We find none of these
kind of sins excepted in the new covenant; and where the law doth not
distinguish, we ought not to distinguish; where God's law doth not
expressly exclude us, we should not exclude ourselves. Christ's death is
able enough to take away all sin. If through it a believer be justified
from all his transgressions committed before conversion, why may not
also a believer be, through virtue of it, justified from his gross and
multiplied sins committed after conversion? The blood of Christ
cleanseth from all sin; Christ hath taught his followers to pray,
"Forgive us our sins, as we forgive them that sin against us;" and he
hath told us also, that we must forgive our brother seventy times
seven, Matth. xiii. _22._ We would not be discouraged then from taking
this course, because our sins are such and such; nay, rather, we would
look on this, as an argument to press us more unto this way, because the
greater our sins be, the greater need have we of pardon, and to say with
David, Psalm xxv. 11, "Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great."

3. We would not think, that upon our taking of this course, we shall be
instantly freed from challenges, because of those sins, for pardoning
whereof we take this course; nor should we think, that because
challenges remain, that therefore there is no pardon had, or that this
is not the way to pardon; for, as we shall show afterward, pardon is one
thing, and intimation of pardon is another thing. We may be pardoned,
and yet suppose that we are not pardoned; challenges will abide till the
conscience be sprinkled, and till the Prince of Peace command peace to
the conscience, and put the accuser to silence; who, when he can do no
more, will mar the peace of a believer, as long as he can, and stop the
current of his comforts, which made David pray, that "God would restore
to him the joy of his salvation," Psalm li.

4. Nor would we think, that upon our taking of this course for the
pardon of our sins, we shall never thereafter meet with a challenge upon
the account of these sins. It is true, when sins are pardoned, they are
fully pardoned in God's court, and that obligation to condemnation is
taken away, and the pardoned person is looked upon as no sinner, that
is, as no person liable to condemnation because of these sins; for being
pardoned he becometh just before God; yet we dare not say, but
conscience afterward, being alarmed with new transgressions, may
mistake, as people suddenly put into a fight are ready to do; nor dare
we say, that God will not permit Satan to upbraid us with those sins,
which have been blotted out long ago, as he suffered Shimei, who was but
an instrument of Satan, to cast up to David his blood-guiltiness, which
had been pardoned long before. The Lord may think good to suffer this,
that his people may be kept humble, and made more tender and watchful in
all their ways.

5. Believers would not misimprove or abuse this great condescendency of
free grace, and take the great liberty to sin, because there is such a
sure, safe, and pleasant way of getting those sins blotted out and
forgiven. "Shall we sin because we are not under grace, but under the
law? That be far from us," saith the Apostle, Rom. vi. 15. This were
indeed to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. And it may be a
question, if such as have really repented, and gotten their sins
pardoned, will be so ready to make this use of it; sure sense of pardon
will work some other effect, as we see, Ezek. xvi. 62, 63.

6. The believer, in going about this work of nailing his sins to the
cross of Christ, and of improving Christ's death, resurrection, and
constant intercession, for the obtaining of pardon, would not think of
going alone, or of doing this in his own strength; for of himself he can
do nothing. He must look to Christ for grace to help in this time of
need, and must go about this duty with dependence on him, waiting for
the influence of light, counsel, strength, and grace from him, to repent
and believe; for he is a prince exalted to give repentance, first and
last, and he is the author and finisher of faith; so that without him we
can do nothing.

7. Let the believer beware of concluding, that be hath got no pardon,
because he hath met with no sensible intimation thereof by the flowing
in of peace and joy in his soul. Pardon is one mercy, and intimation of
it to the soul is another distinct mercy, and separable from it: shall
we therefore say, we have not gotten the first, because we have not
gotten both? The Lord, for wise reasons, can pardon poor sinners, and
not give any intimation thereof; viz. that they may watch more against
sin afterward, and not be so bold as they have been; and that they may
find more in experience, what a bitter thing it is to sin against God,
and learn withal to depend on him for less and more; and to carry more
humbly; for it may be, God seeth, that if they saw their sins pardoned,
they would forget themselves, and rush into new sins again.

8. The believer must not think it strange, if he find more trouble after
greater sins, and a greater difficulty to lay hold on Christ for pardon
of those, than for pardon of others. For as God hath been more
dishonoured by these, so is his anger more kindled upon that account;
and it is suitable for the glory of God's justice, that our sorrow for
such sins be proportionally greater; and this will likewise increase the
difficulty; and ordinarily the effects of God's fatherly displeasure
make deeper wounds in the soul after such sins, and these are not so
easily healed; all which will call for suitable and proportionally
greater godly sorrow and repentance, and acts of faith, because faith
will meet with more opposition and discouragement there, and therefore
must be the more strong, to go through these impediments, and to lay
hold on his cross. Yet though this should make all watchful, and to
guard against gross and crying sins, it should not drive any to despair,
nor to say with that despairing wretch, their sin is greater than it can
be forgiven; the ocean of mercy can drown and swallow up greater as well
as lesser sins; Christ is an all-sufficient Mediator for the greatest
sins as well as the least. "O, for thy name's sake, pardon mine
iniquity, for it is great!" will come in season to a soul ready to sink
with the weight of this millstone tied about its neck.

9. As the greater sins should not make us despair of taking this course
for remission, so nor should the smallness of sin make us to neglect
this way; for the least sin cannot be pardoned but through Jesus Christ;
for the law of God is violated thereby, justice provoked, God's
authority vilified, &c. and therefore cannot be now pardoned, by reason
of the threatenings annexed to the law, without a ransom. Death is the
wages of sin, lesser and greater, and the curse is due to all sin,
greater and smaller. There, the believer would not suffer one sin, seen
and discovered, to lie unpardoned, but on the first discovery thereof,
take it away to Christ, and nail it to the cross.

10. The believer would not conclude, that his sins are not pardoned,
because possibly temporal strokes, inflicted because of them, are not
removed; for though David's sin was pardoned, yet because of that sin of
his, a temporal stroke attended him and his family, to his dying day;
for not only did God cut off the child, (2 Sam. xv. 14.), but told him,
that the sword should never depart from his house, and that he would
raise up evil against him out of his own house, and give his wives to
one that should lie with them in the sight of the sun, vers. 10, 11. So
we read, that the Lord took vengeance on their inventions whose sins he
had pardoned, Psalm xcix. 8. God may see this fit and expedient, for his
own glory, and for humbling of them, and causing them to fear the more
to sin against him. Yea, not only may temporal calamities be inflicted,
because of sin pardoned, or continued, after sin is pardoned, but even
sense of God's displeasure may continue after pardon, as appeareth by
that penitential Psalm (the fifty-first) penned by David, after Nathan
had spoken to him concerning his sin.


QUESTIONS OR OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.

1. What course shall we take with secret sins? I answer, this same
course must be followed with them. There is an implicit repentance of
sins that have not been distinctly seen and observed, as who can see and
observe all their failings? And so there may be an implicit faith
acting; that is, the believer being persuaded that he is guilty of more
sins than he hath got a clear sight of, as he would bewail his condition
before God because of these, and sorrow for them after a godly manner,
so he would take them together in a heap, or as a closed bagful, and by
faith nail them to the cross of Christ, as if they were all distinctly
seen and known. "Who can understand his errors," said David, Psalm xix.
12: yet says he moreover, "cleanse thou me from secret faults."

2. But what if, after all this, I find no intimation of pardon to my
soul? _Ans._ As this should serve to keep thee humble, so it should
excite to more diligence, in this duty of going with thy sins to Christ,
and to ply him and his cross more, in and through the promises, and keep
thy soul constant in this duty of the running to Christ, as an
all-sufficient Mediator, and as an intercessor with the Father; and thus
wait on him waiteth to be gracious, even in this particular, of
intimating pardon to thy soul,--he knoweth when it is fittest for thee
to know that thy sins are forgiven.

3. But what can yield me any ground of peace while it is so, that I see
no pardon or remission granted to me? _Ans._ This may yield thee peace,
that, following this course which hath been explained, thou art about
thy duty. Thou art not at peace with sin, nor harbouring that viper in
thy soul; thou art mourning and sorrowing over it, and running to Christ
the prince of pardons, through his blood and intercession, conform to
the covenant of redemption, and after the encouragement given in the
many and precious promises of the covenant of grace; and having these
promises, and rolling thy guilt on Christ as thy cautioner, conform to
the manner expressed in the gospel, thou art allowed to believe that thy
sins are pardoned, and that thou art accepted in the beloved, and so
quiet thy soul through faith, God abiding faithful and true, and his
promises being all yea and amen in Christ.

4. But so long as I find no intimation of pardon, I cannot think that I
have taken the right gospel way of bringing my sins to Christ. _Ans._
Though that will not follow, as we cleared above--for a soul may take
the right gospel way of getting the guilt of their sins taken away in
Christ, and God may pardon thereupon, and for all that not think it fit
to give intimation of that pardon as yet, for wise and holy ends--yet
the soul may humble itself for its shortcoming, and still go about the
duty, amending in Christ what it supposeth to be amiss, and renewing its
act of repentance and faith, and beg of Christ understanding in the
matter, and so continue carrying sin always to Christ's cross, and
eyeing his intercession, and wait for a full clearing of the matter in
his good time.

5. But what shall I do with the guilt of my weak repentance, and weak
faith? _Ans._ When with a weak and defective repentance and faith thou
art carrying away thy sins to Christ, and nailing them, to his cross,
let the imperfection of thy faith and repentance go with the rest, and
leave all there.

6. What shall I do with my conscience, that still accuseth me of guilt,
notwithstanding of my taking and following this course? _Ans._ Despise
not the accusation of conscience, but let these humble thee the more,
and keep thee closer at this duty. Yet know, that conscience is but an
under servant, and God's deputy, and must accuse according to law, (I
speak not here of the irregular, furious, and turbulent motions of
Satan, casting in grenades in the soul and conscience, to raise a
combustion and put all in a fire); its mouth, must be stopped by law,
and so the soul would stay and answer the accusations of conscience with
this, that he hath fled to Christ, the only Mediator and Cautioner, and
cast his burden on him; and leaneth to his merits alone; and hath put
those sins in his hand, as his advocate and intercessor with the Father;
and that the gospel requireth no more of him. And if conscience should
say, that both faith and repentance are imperfect and defective, and
that guilt is thereby rather increased than taken away,--he must answer
again, true; but I have done with the guilt of my faith and repentance,
as with the rest, taken all to Christ, and left all on him; and herein
only do I acquiesce,--I look not for pardon for my imperfect faith and
repentance, yea, nor would I look for pardon of my sins, for my faith
and repentance, were they never so perfect, but only in and through
Jesus Christ, the only Cautioner, Redeemer, and Advocate. But further,
this deputy would be brought to his master, who can only command him to
silence; that is to say, the believer would go to Christ with the
accusing conscience, and desire him to command its silence, that he may
have peace of conscience, and freedom from those accusations that are
bitter and troublesome. Remember withal, that if these accusations drive
thee to Christ, and endear him more to thy soul, they will do no harm,
because they drive thee to thy only resting place, and to the grand
peacemaker. But if otherwise they discourage or for-slow thee in thy
motion Christward, then be sure conscience speaketh without warrant, and
its accusations ought not, in so far, and as to that end, to be
regarded.



CHAPTER IX.

HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST FOR CLEANSING OF US FROM OUR DAILY SPOTS.


Having spoken of the way of making use of Christ for removing the guilt
of our daily transgressions, we come to speak of the way of making use
of Christ, for taking away the guilt that cleaveth to the soul, through
daily transgressions; "for every sin defileth the man," Matt. xv. 20;
and the best are said to have their spots, and to need washing, which
presupposeth filthiness and defilement, Eph. v. 27. John xiii. 8-10.
Hence we are so oft called to this duty of washing and making us clean.
Isa. i. 16. Jer. iv. 14. Acts xxii. 16. David prays for this washing,
Psal. li. 2-7. And it is Christ's work to wash. 1 Cor. vi. 11. Rev. i.
5. Eph. v. 26. See Tit. iii. 5. Now, in speaking to this, we shall
observe the same method; and first shew, what Christ has done to take
away this filth; and next, what way we are to make use of him, for this
end, to get our spots and filthiness taken away, that we may be holy.

As to the _first_, for the purging away of the filth of our daily
failings and transgressions, Christ has done these things:

1. He hath died that he may procure this benefit and advantage to us;
and thus he hath washed us meritoriously in his own blood which he shed
upon the cross. Thus he "loved us, and washed us from our sins, in his
own blood," Rev. i. 5; and this is from all sins, as well such as are
committed after, as such as are committed before conversion. Thus, "he
by himself purged our sins," Heb. i. 3, viz. by offering up of himself
as an expiatory sacrifice to make an atonement, and so procure this
liberty. So also it is said, Eph. v. 25-27, that Christ gave himself for
his church, "that he might sanctify and cleanse it--that he might
present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or
any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish." So,
Tit. ii. 14, "He gave himself for us, that he might purify to himself a
peculiar people, zealous of good works." Here then is the foundation and
ground of all cleansing and purification--Christ's death procuring it.

2. As he hath procured, so he sendeth the Spirit to effectuate this, and
to work this washing and sanctification in us. Hence, it is said, 1 Cor.
vi. 11, "that we are sanctified and washed, in the name of the Lord
Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." We are said to be saved "by the
washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he hath
shed upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour," Tit. iii. 5,
6. The sending then, or shedding of the holy and sanctifying Spirit upon
us, whereby we are sanctified, and consequently purified and purged from
our filth, is a fruit of Christ's death and mediation, being purchased
thereby, and is an effect of his resurrection, and glorification, and
intercession in glory.

3. He hath made a fountain of his blood for this end, that we may go to
it daily, and wash and be clean. Thus his "blood cleanseth from all
sin," 1 John i. 7-9. This is the "fountain opened to the house of David,
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness," Zech.
xiii. 1.

4. He hath purchased and provided the external means, whereby this
cleansing and sanctification is brought about, viz. the preaching of the
gospel, which he himself preached, and thereby sanctified, John xv. 3,
"Now are ye clean through the word that I have spoken unto you." Eph. v.
26, the church is "sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water, by
the word."

5. So hath he procured, and worketh in the soul those graces that
promove and carry on this work of sanctification and purifying; such as
faith, which purifieth the heart, Acts xv. 9; whereof he is the author
and finisher, Heb. xii.; and hope, which whosoever hath, "purifieth
himself, even as he is pure," 1 John iii. 3.

6. He hath confirmed and ratified all the promises of the covenant,
which are ample and large, touching this cleansing and washing, Jer.
xxxv. 8, "And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they
have sinned against me." Ezek. xxxvi. 25, "Then will I sprinkle clean
water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness." So
Ezek. xxxvii. 23, "and I will cleanse them." And all the other promises
of the covenant, apprehended by faith, have no small influence on our
cleansing; 2 Cor. vii. 1. "Having therefore these promises, let us
cleanse ourselves," &c.; all which promises are yea and amen in Christ,
2 Cor. i. 20.

Thus Christ made all sure, for the cleansing and washing of his people,
conform to that article of the covenant of redemption, "so shall he
sprinkle many nations," Isa. lii. 15.

_Secondly,_ As to the way of our use-making of Christ for the purging
away of our filth and daily pollutions, believers would take this
course:

1. They would remember and live in the conviction of the exceeding
abominableness and filthiness of sin, which is compared to the vomit of
a dog, and to the mire wherein the sow walloweth, 2 Pet. ii. 22; filthy
rags, Isa. lxiv. 6; to a menstruous cloth, Isa. xxx. 22, and the like,
that this may move them to seek with greater care and diligence, to have
that filth taken away.

2. They would remember also how abominable sin makes them in the eyes of
an holy God, "who cannot behold iniquity," being a God of purer eyes
than to behold it, Hab. i. 13; nor can he look on it; and how therefore
no thing can enter into the New Jerusalem, nor any thing that defileth.
And this will make them so much the more to abhor it, and to seek to be
washed from it.

3. They would look by faith on the blood of Christ that is shed for this
end, to wash filthy souls into; and run to it as a fountain opened for
this end, that they might come to it, and wash and be clean.

4. For their encouragement, they would grip by faith to the promises of
the new covenant, which are large and full.

5. And remember the end of Christ's death, viz., to purchase to himself
a holy people, zealous of good works, to present them to himself holy,
and without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; and this will be further
ground of encouragement.

6. They would put the work by faith in his hand, who hath best skill to
wash a foul soul, and to purge away all their spots; and by faith pray
for and expect the Spirit to sanctify and cleanse them from all their
filthiness; that is, they would make known and spread forth their
abominations before the Lord, and eyeing Christ as the only great High
Priest, whose blood is a fountain to wash in, would lay the work on him,
and by faith put him to wash away that filth, and to purify their souls
by his Spirit, pardoning their bygone iniquities and renewing them in
the Spirit of their minds by grace, that they may walk before him in
fear. Thus they would roll the work on him, and leave it there.


CAUTIONS AND DIRECTIONS.

_First,_ The believer would in all this work be kept in the exercise of
these graces following:

1. Of humility; seeing what a vile, filthy wretch he is, that stands in
need of washing and purging daily, because of his daily pollutions and
transgressions.

2. Of love; considering with what a loving God he hath to do, that hath
provided so liberally all things for him, and particularly hath provided
a fountain, and such a fountain, whereto he not only may, but is
commanded to resort daily.

3. Of thankfulness; remembering how great this mercy is, how unworthy he
is, on whom it is bestowed, and who he is that doth grant it.

4. Of fear; lest God's goodness be abused, and he provoked who is so
gracious to us.

5. Of sincerity, and godly ingenuity, avoiding all hypocrisy and
formality, knowing that we have to do with him, who will not be mocked.

6. Of holy hatred; loathing and abhorrence of sin, which makes us so
filthy and odious in the eyes of the Lord.

_Secondly,_ This course would be followed for the purging away of the
least sins; for till they be purged away, we remain in our filth, and
cannot expect God's favourable countenance, nor his warm embracements,
nor the hearty intimations of his love and kindness. And a small
inconsiderable like spot may grow greater, and provoke God to let the
accuser of the brethren, Satan, who always waits for his opportunity,
loose upon us, and a conscience wakened may make much of a little
defilement to keep the soul from approaching to God.

3. This course would be followed with every sin, quickly without delay;
for the longer those spots continue, it will be the more difficult to
get them taken away. The soul will after some time, become the less
troubled about them, and possibly forget them, and so they will remain;
and this may occasion at last a sad distance, and provoke God to hide
his face, which will cause more bitterness and sorrow. It were good,
then, to keep up a spirit of tenderness and fear.

4. Let this be our daily work and exercise; for we are daily contracting
new filth. Yesterday's cleansing will not save us from new filth to-day;
nor will our running to the fountain to-day, serve to take away new
spots to-morrow; new spots call for new washing, so that this must be
our very life and exercise, to be daily and continually running to the
fountain with our souls; and giving Christ, the great purger, much to
do.

5. We must not think to be perfectly washed, so long as we are here; for
we will be contracting new filth daily, our feet will still be to wash,
John xiii. 10. We will not be without spot or wrinkle, till we come home
to that place, wherein entereth nothing that defileth.

6. Let the believer's recourse in this matter be wholly to Jesus Christ
and his blood, and lay no weight on their sorrow, repentance, or tears,
or on any outward means which they are commanded to use; yet would they
not lay aside these means, but go through them to the fountain, to
Jesus, there, and there only to be cleansed.

7. They should not be discouraged or despair when their spots appear
great, and not like the spots of his children; for Christ's blood can
purge from all sin, and wash away all their filth, of how deep soever a
dye it be. Christ's blood is so deep an ocean, that a mountain will be
sunk out of sight in it, as well as a small pebble stone.

8. Though Christ's blood be strong enough to purge from all sin, even
the greatest, yet they should know, that scandalous spots, or a deep
stain, may cost them more frequent running to the fountain, through
humiliation, godly sorrow, prayer, and supplication. David's scandalous
blot cost him more trouble and pains, before he got it purged away, than
many others, as we see, Psalm li.

9. When all this is done, we must think of having on another
righteousness, as our clothing and covering, in the day of our
appearance before our Judge--even the righteousness of Jesus Christ,
which only is perfect, and able to save us from the wrath of God. Let us
be never so washed in the matter of sanctification, and cleansed from
our spots, we cannot for all that be accounted righteous before God; nor
will that satisfy justice, or take away the guilt so much as of one
transgression before God. Christ's righteousness will be our upper
garment for all eternity. This is the fine linen wherewith his bride is
busked in heaven.

10. At every time we run to the fountain with our daily contracted
filth, we would not forget to carry along with us the mother corruption,
which is the sink and puddle of all filthiness; I mean our natural
corrupted rottenness and pollution, from whence flow all our other
actual pollutions. We would do well to carry mother and daughter both
together to the fountain. David prayed to be washed and purged, as well
from his original filthiness, wherein he was conceived and born, as from
his blood-guiltiness. Psalm li. 5, 7.

11. Let not this occasion our carelessness in watching against sin; for
that would be, to turn his grace into wantonness; but rather let it
sharpen our diligence in watching against all occasions of sin, lest we
again defile our soul.

12. Not only must we have our bodies, or our outward conversation
washed, but our soul within, the frame of our heart, our understanding,
will, affections, and conscience, sprinkled with that blood. The blood
of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit "offered himself without spot
to God," must purge our Consciences from dead works, to serve the living
God, Heb. ix. 14. and we must "have our hearts, sprinkled from an evil
conscience," Heb. x. 22.

_Finally,_ If the believer fear that he shall not be able to remember
all these particular duties, let him remember this, viz. to put a foul
soul, defiled with original and actual pollutions, in Christ's hand
daily, and leave it to him to wash by his blood and Spirit; and yet
remember to lay the weight of his acceptance before God, upon the
imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, and not upon his own cleanness,
when thus sanctified and washen, which is but imperfect.


QUESTIONS OR OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.

But, alas! some may object, and say, that their very faith, which must
carry the rest of their filth to the fountain of Christ's blood, is
defiled. How, then, can they expect to be made clean? _Answer._ The
blood of Jesus Christ is sufficiently able to wash all our filth away;
and the filth of faith, as well as of other actions. Therefore, when
faith, as a hand, is carrying the filth of the soul away to Christ to be
washed in his blood, let the foul hand go with the foul handful; give
Christ faith and all to wash.

2. But what shall I do, when, notwithstanding of all this, my conscience
shall still accuse me of uncleanness, and cry out against me as filthy
and abominable? _Answer._ Take it away also to the blood of Jesus, that
there it may be purged, Heb. ix. 14; and here alone will we "get our
hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience," Heb. x. 22. The conscience
must be steeped, so to speak, in the blood of Jesus, and so it shall be
clean. And taking our filthy hearts to this cleansing fountain to be
washed, we will get them delivered and sprinkled from an evil
conscience, that it shall no more have ground of accusation against us.
When we have it to say, that we have put our filthy souls in the hand of
the great cleanser, Jesus Christ, and brought all our pollutions to his
blood, what can conscience say to us? The Lord, it is true, may suffer
our conscience still to bark upon us, and cast up our filthiness to us,
that we may be the more humbled, and be put to lie more constantly at
the fountain; yet when we have fled to Christ, and taken our filthiness
to the open and appointed fountain, we can answer the accusations of
conscience in law, and have peace.

3. But I am apt to think, will some say, that if I had once taken the
right way to get my sins and filthiness purged away, my conscience would
trouble me no more; but now, so long as it doggeth me thus, I cannot
think that the way which I have taken is the right way. _Answer._ Though
the Lord may think good to suffer conscience to trouble a man for a
time, though he hath taken the right way, as is said, for a further
exercise and trial to him; yet the believer will have no less
disadvantage by examining his way, and trying whether he hath laid the
matter cleanly over on Christ, or whether he hath laid too much weight
on his own humiliation, sorrow, and pains; and whether he be leaving the
matter on Jesus, and expecting to be washed alone in his blood, or
looking into himself, and expecting some help in the matter from self;
and after trial, would mourn for any failing he gets discovered, and
still be about that work of running with filth to the fountain. But
withal they would go to Christ for help, because without him they cannot
come to him; they cannot come or carry their soul to the fountain opened
for sin and for uncleanness; so that in all this work, there would be a
single dependence on Christ for understanding and strength to go about
this work aright.

Thus have we endeavoured to clear up Christ being the way to the Father,
first and last; and how all believers or unbelievers are to make use of
him as the way to the Father, whatever their condition be: from all
which we may see,

1. That such are in a wretched and forlorn condition who are still
strangers to Christ, and will not lay hold on him, nor come to him, and
walk in him, and make use of him. They are unrighteous and unholy, and
daily contracting more guilt and more filth; and they know no way either
for justification or sanctification, but a way of self, which will prove
like the brooks, which run dry in summer, and disappoint the weary
traveller when he hath most need. They are without Christ, and so
without the way, the only way, the safe and sure way to the Father. And,
oh! if all that is here spoken could induce them to think once of the
misery of their condition, and to seek out for relief, that they might
not only be saved from their state of sin and misery, but brought into a
state of salvation through Jesus Christ, so that they might be justified
before God, from all that justice, the devil, the law, or conscience
could lay against them, and thoroughly sanctified, and so at length
brought home to the Father, fair and spotless.

2. Upon the other hand, we see the noble advantage of believers, who,
through grace, are entered in this way; for it is a full and complete
way that shall carry them safe home. They shall find that he is able to
save to the uttermost all that come to God through him. And, oh! if they
were sensible of this, how would it excite them to thankfulness! How
would it encourage them to run through difficulties great and many!

3. We see what a special duty lieth upon believers to make special use
of Christ in all things, as the way to the Father, and so march to
heaven in him, as the only way; march in his hands, or rather be carried
in his arms and bosom. This were to go from strength to strength, till
at length they appeared in Zion, and landed in that pleasant place of
rest, where the weary are at rest, and yet rest not day nor night, but
sing praises to "him that hath redeemed them by his blood, out of every
kindred and tongue, and people and nation, saying, blessing, honour,
glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the
Lamb for ever and ever," Rev. v. 9, 13.

4. Hence we may see the cause of the leanness of believers, of their
wanderings, of their shortcomings, of their many defilements, &c. viz.
their not constant making use of Christ as the way in all things,
according to the tenor of the gospel. Oh I if this were laid to heart
and mourned for, and if grace were sought to help it!

This one point of truth, that Christ is the way, well understood and
rightly put into practice, would do all our business, both as to
justification and sanctification, and were poor sinners once entered
into this way, and had they grace from this way to walk in it, it would
prove their life and salvation: For it is the marrow and substance of
the whole gospel. So that there needeth little more to be said: Yet we
shall speak a little to the other particulars in the text.



CHAPTER X.

"THE TRUTH." SOME GENERALS PROPOSED.


That what we are to speak to for the clearing and improving this noble
piece of truth, that Christ is the Truth, may be the more clearly
understood and edifying, we shall first take notice of some generals,
and then show particularly how or in what respects Christ is called the
Truth; and finally speak to some cases wherein we are to make use of
Christ as the Truth.

As to the first. There are four general things here to be noticed.

1. This supposeth what our case by nature is, and what we are all
without Christ, who is the Truth: as,

_First._ It supposeth that without Christ we are in darkness, mistakes,
errors: yea, we are said to be darkness itself. Eph. v. 8, "Ye were
sometimes darkness," &c. John i. 5, and of darkness; 1 Thess. v. 5, yea,
under the "power of darkness;" Col. i. 13. John xii. 35. 1 John ii. 11,
"walking in darkness;" 1 John i. 6, and "abiding in darkness." 1 Pet.
ii. 9. 1 Thess. v. 4. John xii. 46, "We wander and go astray as soon as
we are born, speaking lies," Psal. lviii. 3. Yea, we "go astray in the
greatness of our folly," Prov. v. 22. We are "all gone astray," Isa.
liii. 6. Psal. cxix. 67-176; so far are we from any knowledge of, or
acquaintance with truth, or with the way of truth.

_Secondly._ It supposeth that we cannot turn into the right way. A
spirit of error and untruth leadeth us continually wrong; like the sheep
we wander still, and we weary ourselves in our wandering; and so spend
all our labour and pains in vain. Being under the power of untruth and
error, we cannot walk one step right.

_Thirdly._ Though all other ways, beside him who only is the way and the
truth, be false ways and by-ways, leading us away from the true
resting-place, and from that way which is the truth; yet we are prone
and ready to cleave to those false and erroneous ways, and grip to
shadows, and to lean to them, as if they were the ways of truth: Such
as,

1. A good heart, which many may imagine they have, when they have
nothing less.

2. Good intentions and purposes for time to come, which such, as were
not under the power of error and untruth, would never deceive themselves
withal.

3. An harmless life, without scandalous out-breakings to the reproach of
Christianity, a foundation on which no wise man, led by truth, would
build his salvation, or hopes of eternal happiness.

4. An outward, moral, civil and discreet carriage, which no man can
blame, and wherein a heathen can outstrip many called Christians; so
that it must be a poor ground to found our hopes upon; and yet many are
so blinded, that they lean all their weight upon such a rotten staff.

5. Outward exercise of religious duties, wherein a Pharisee may outstrip
many; and yet, O how many build all their hopes of heaven upon this
sandy foundation, which none but blinded persons would do!

6. The commendation and applause of ministers and Christians, is that
which many rest upon, which is a sad proof of the blindness of their
hearts.

7. The way of good works and alms-deeds blindfoldeth many, and sheweth
that they were never led by truth, or taught of Christ, who is the
truth.

8. Some pinching grief and sorrow for sin, is another way which people,
strangers to the truth, deceive themselves withal.

9. A common sort of repentance, backed with some kind of amendment and
outward reformation, is a way that many rest secure in, though it lead
to destruction.

10. Freedom from challenges of conscience deceiveth many.

Though these and such like ways be dangerous, yea, deadly, yet how many
are there to be found among Christians, that have no better ground of
their hope of salvation, and will cleave to them so fast, as no
preaching will make them so much as once question the matter, or suspect
that these ways will in the end deceive them; so strong is their
inclination to the way of error, though not as the way of error.

_Fourthly._ It presupposeth also an inclinableness in us by nature to
wander out of the way; for being nothing but a mass of error, made up of
darkness, ignorance, and mistakes, we have a strong bias to error, which
agreeth best with our natural, corrupted temper. Hence it is, that we
have such a strong propension to errors and mistakes: Whether,

1. Concerning God, and his way of dealing with his church, or with
ourselves. O how ready are our hearts by nature, to hatch and foment
wrong, unseemly, untrue, yea, unchristian, if not blasphemous thoughts
and conceptions of his nature, attributes, word, and works? And how
ready and prone are we to receive and entertain wrong apprehensions of
all his ways and dealings with his church and people? And as for his
works in and about ourselves, O! what unsuitable, erroneous, false,
ungodly, absurd, and abominable opinions do we with greediness drink in
and foster; yea, feed upon with delight? Who is able to recount all the
errors and mistakes which our heart by nature is ready to admit and
foster with complacency? Are we not by nature ready to say, that there
is not a God,--as the fool, Psal. xiv. 1. Or, that he is not such a God
as his word and works declare him to be--a holy, just, righteous,
omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, &c. Or that he is a changeable
God, and actually changed, not being the same now which sometime he was.
That he hath forgotten to be gracious, and remembereth not his people in
adversity; and so is not tender and merciful. That he hath forgotten his
promises, and so is not faithful and true. That he approveth of sin,
because he suffereth the way of the wicked to prosper, and so is not a
holy God, &c. Yea, do not ofttimes such thoughts as these lodge within
the heart of the truly godly? All which sheweth how prone we are to
receive and entertain erroneous and false thoughts of God.

2. Concerning ourselves. Supposing ourselves to be born again and
reconciled to God, when yet we are living in black nature: And who so
bold and confident that they are right, as they that are furthest out of
the way? Or, on the other hand, supposing ourselves to be in a bad
state, and in nature and darkness, when the day-star from on high hath
visited us, and brought our souls from death unto life. And who more
ready to complain than such as have least cause? Or supposing ourselves
in a good condition; lively, active, diligent, watchful, &c, when it is
just otherwise with us: Or, on the contrary, complaining of deadness,
formality, upsitting, fainting, heartlessness in the ways of God, when
it is not so. Or, in questioned matters, taking truth to be error, and
error to be truth.

3. Concerning others. How ready are we to run either to the one
extremity or the other in judging their persons and actions?

Oh! where is the faith of this natural condition? where is the real
conviction of it? Sure there is but little real believing of this when,

(1.) There are so many that never so much as suspect themselves or
question either their state or condition, at one time or other; never
once imagine that their blinded hearts may deceive them; never once
dream of a possibility of mistaking, and of dying with a lie in their
right hand.

(2.) And so many that are not lamenting and bewailing this their
condition, nor crying out and complaining of a false, deceitful, and
desperately wicked heart.

(3.) And so few that are indeed humbled under the sense of this, and
made therefore to walk more watchfully and soberly with an eye always
upon their treacherous and deceiving hearts.

(4.) And so few, crying for help from God against this deceitful
adversary, through daily experience of the atheism, hypocrisy,
ignorance, misconceptions of God and of his ways, and deceitfulness of
our hearts, might sufficiently put it out of doubt with us.

_Next,_ How miserable must their condition be, who are yet strangers to
Christ; for they are living in darkness, lying in darkness, walking in
darkness, yea, very darkness itself, a mass of error, mistakes,
ignorance, and misconceptions of all things that are good; and still
wandering out of the way.

_Finally,_ Should not this preach out to, and convince us all of a
necessity of having more acquaintance with truth, with Jesus Christ, who
is the truth, that we may be delivered from this woful and wretched
condition; for truth only can set us free therefrom.

II. The _second_ general thing to be noticed here is, that all other
ways and courses, which we can take or follow, that we may obtain life,
beside Christ, are but lies, false and deceitful ways,--there is no
truth in them: For he only is the truth; no other whatsoever can bear
this epithet: For,

1. He only can satisfy the soul in all points otherways; whatever we can
imagine and dream can yield no true satisfaction in this matter.

2. He only can secure the soul from destructive ruinous courses, which
will undo the soul. All other ways will fail here; none of them can give
the least security to the soul, that they shall not bring him, in end,
to destruction and everlasting perdition.

3. He only can bring the soul safe through all opposition and
difficulties in the way. No other way can do this; but will leave us in
the mire, ere ever we come to the end of our journey.

4. He will not deceive nor disappoint the soul. All other ways in end
will prove treacherous, and give the traveller a doleful and sad
disappointment.

O what a warning should this be to us all, to take heed that we embrace
not a lie, instead of him who is the truth; and sit not down with a
shadow instead of the substance. How ready are we to put other things in
his place? But whatever it be that gets his room in the soul, though
good and worthy in itself, will prove a lie. Even, (1.) All our outward
holiness and duties. Yea, (2.) All our experiences and great
attainments. Yea, (3.) All our gifts and endowments. Aye, (4.) Our very
graces. None of these are Christ's; and if we place that hope and
confidence in them, which we should place on him, they will not prove
the truth to us,--he alone is the truth.

How sure then should we labour to be, that we do not die with a lie in
our right hand. And how carefully should we guard against the trusting
in, or leaning to any thing that is not Christ, and whole Christ, and
only Christ, and Christ as offered in the gospel; seeing this way is
only the truth, and no other way will be found so in end, though at
present we may find in it,

(1.) Some inward peace and quietness of heart, as if all were right.

(2.) Some satisfaction of mind, things being right, as we apprehend, but
falsely, through the deceitfulness of the heart.

(3.) Something like assurance and confidence, that all will be right
with us.

(4.) And hope founded thereupon, which may help to ride through some
storms, and yet fail us at length.

III. The _third_ general is this, Christ Jesus is not only the truth in
himself, but also in reference to us. The scope of the place cleareth
this, as he is the way and the life for our use, so he is the truth. Not
only as God equal with the Father, but also as Mediator, and our
Immanuel.

As God, he is, 1. Essentially truth, being God equal with the Father in
power and glory.

2. In respect of veracity, he is the God of truth, Deut. xxxii. 4;
faithful in all his sayings, Ps. xxxi. 5; keeping truth for ever, Ps.
cxlvi. 6.

3. He is the fountain and spring-head of all created truth, for he is
the first truth.

As Mediator, and in reference to us, "he is full of grace and truth,"
John i. 14; "he received not the Spirit in measure," John iii. 34; and
this Spirit is a Spirit of truth. But of this more, when we come to
shew more particularly, how and in what respects he is called the truth,
as Mediator.

IV. The _fourth_ general, which is here observable, is, that he is not
only called "Truth," but "the Truth," as he is the way and the life; and
not only true, but truth in the abstract. Which saith,

1. That he is every way Truth, however we consider him, as God, or as
Mediator.

2. That all truth is in him; all truth of salvation for us is to be
found in him.

3. That all that is in him is truth, his natures, offices, performances,
words, works, &c, all are true.

4. That he is pure and unmixed truth; no lie in him, no error or mistake
there.

5. That truth in him is in its perfection and excellency. In the truest
of men it is very imperfect.

O what an excellent one must he be! How completely fitted and furnished
for us! Oh! if our souls could love him, and close with him, and rest
upon him as all-sufficient!



CHAPTER XI.

MORE PARTICULARLY, IN WHAT RESPECT CHRIST IS CALLED THE TRUTH.


But for further explaining of this matter, we would see more
particularly, in what respects it is, that he is called the truth; and
this will make way to our use-making of him. So,

_First,_ He is the Truth, in opposition to the shadows and types of him,
under the law. Hence, as "the law," the whole Levitical and typical
dispensation, "came by Moses, so grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,"
John i. 17. They were all shadows of him, and he is the substance and
body of them all, Col. ii. 17; and this is true in these respects:

1. All these shadows and types pointed at him, and directed, as with a
finger, the Israelites, who were under that dispensation, to look to
Christ, the promised Messiah, and to rest, and to lay all their weight
on him. So that the law was a shadow of good things to come, Heb. x. 1.
Col. ii. 17.

2. They all terminate in him, he putting an end, by his coming and
performing his work, to all those types which only related to him, and
to what he was to do; the body being come, there is no more need of the
shadow and the thing typified existing, there is no more need or use of
the type.

3. They are all fulfilled in him; he answereth them all fully, so that
whatever was shadowed forth by them is completely to be found in him.
This the apostle, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, abundantly evinceth.
And Paul to the Colossians, tells us, "we are complete in him," and
therefore need no more follow the shadows.

_Secondly,_ He is the Truth in reference to the prophecies of old; all
which did principally point at him and his concernments, his person,
nature, offices, work, kingdom, &c.; and whatever was foretold in these
prophecies is perfectly fulfilled in him, or done by him, or shall in
due time be effectuated by him. He is that great prophet spoken of, Deut
xviii. 15, 18, 19. So said the Jews themselves, John vi. 14. All the
prophets from Samuel spoke of him and of his days, Acts iii. 22-24. "And
to him gave all the prophets witness," Acts x. 43. And whatever they
prophesied or witnessed of him, was, or is in due time to be fulfilled
in him. Hence, we find the evangelists and apostles frequently applying
the sayings and prophecies of the Old Testament unto him. And Luke
(chap. iv. 18,) himself said the prophecy of Isaiah lxi. 1, &c., was
fulfilled in him. See 1 Pet. x. 11, 12. And himself expounded to the two
disciples going to Emmaus, in all the Scriptures, beginning at Moses and
all the prophets, all the things concerning himself, Luke xxiv. 27. And
thus is he the Truth of all the prophecies.

_Thirdly,_ He is the Truth, in reference to his undertaking with the
Father in that glorious covenant of redemption; for whatever the Father
laid on him to do, that he did fully and faithfully. "He was to bear
our griefs, to carry our sorrows;" and that he did. "He was to be
wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities; the
chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we were to be
healed," Isa. liii. 5; and so it was, Rom. iv. 25. 1 Cor. xv. 3. 1 Pet.
ii. 23. "His soul was to be made an offering for sin," Isa. liii. 10,
and so it was; for he offered up himself a sacrifice for sin. Yea, all
that he was to do, by virtue of that covenant, he did it perfectly, so
as he cried out, while hanging on the cross, "It is finished," John xix.
30; and, in his prayer, John xvii., he told his Father, verse 4, that he
had glorified him on earth, and had finished the work which he gave him
to do; so that the Father was well pleased with him, Matt. iii. 17; xii.
18; and xvii. 5. Mark i. 11. Luke iii. 22.

_Fourthly,_ He is the Truth, in respect of his offices which he took
upon him for our good; for all the duties of these offices which he was
to do, and what remaineth to be done, he will perfect in due time. Did
he take upon him the office of a prophet? He did fully execute the same,
in revealing mediately and immediately the whole counsel of God, John i.
18; and xv. 15. Eph. iv. 11, 12, 13. Acts xx. 32. 1 Pet. 10, 11, 12.
Heb. i. 2. Did he take upon him the office of a priest? So did he fulfil
the same, offering up himself an expiatory sacrifice to God, Heb. ix.
28; and ii. 17; and becoming a priest, and living for ever to make
intercession for us, Heb. vii. 25. And did he take on the office and
function of a King? So doth he execute the same, calling a people to
himself out of the world by his word and Spirit--Acts xv. 14, 15, 16.
Isa. lv. 4, 5. Psalm cx. 3--erecting a visible church, a company of
visible professors to profess and declare his name; which, as his
kingdom, he ruleth with his own officers, laws and penalties, or
censures; so that the government is on his shoulders, Isaiah ix. 6, 7,
who is the head of the body, the church, Eph. i. 22, 23. Col. i. 18; and
this his kingdom he ruleth, in a visible manner, by his own officers,
&c. Ephes. iv. 11, 12. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Isaiah xxxiii. 22. Matt. xviii.
17, 18. 1 Cor. v. 4, 5; and further, he executes this office by
effectually calling the elect, giving them grace, Acts v. 3; rewarding
the obedient, Rev. xxii. 12; ii. 10; chastising the disobedient, Rev.
iii. 19; bringing his own home at length, through all their temptations,
afflictions, and overcoming all their enemies, 1 Cor. xv. 25. Psalm cx.;
and at length he shall do the part of a king, when he shall judge quick
and dead at the last day, 2 Thess. i. 8, 9. Acts xvii. 31. 2 Tim. iv. 1.

_Fifthly,_ He is the Truth in this regard, that he fully answers all the
titles and names which he had got. As he was called Jesus, so did he
save his people from their sins, Matt. i. 21. As he was called Christ,
so was he anointed with the Spirit without measure, John iii. 34. Psalm
xlv. 7; and separated for his work, and endued with all power for that
effect, Job vi. 27. Matt. xxviii. 18, 19, 20; and established to be a
prophet, Acts iii. 21, 22. Luke iv. 18, 21; a priest, Heb. v. 5, 6, 7;
iv. 14, 15; and a king, Psalm ii. 6. Isaiah ix. 6, 7. Matt. xxi. 5.
Phil. ii. 8-11. Was he called "Immanuel," Isaiah vii. 14? So was he
indeed God with us, being God and man in one person for ever. Was he
called "Wonderful," Isaiah ix. 6? So was he indeed in his two distinct
natures in one person; at which the angels may wonder, Eph. iii. 10, 11.
1 Pet. i. 12. 1 Tim. iii. 16. Was he called "Counsellor?" So was he
indeed, coming out from the Father's bosom, with the whole counsel of
God concerning our salvation, John i. 14, 18; iii. 13; v. 20, and xv.
15. Was he called the "mighty God?" So was he indeed, Psalm cx. 1. Matt.
xxii. 44. Heb. i. 13. Psalm xlv. 6. Heb. i. 8. Jer. xxiii. 6, and
xxxiii. 16. Mal. iii. 1. Matt. xi. 10. Psalm lxxxiii. 18. Luke i. 76.
John i. 1; xiv. 1. John v. 20. Tit. ii. 13. Rom. ix. 5. Was he called
the "everlasting Father?" So is he the Father of eternity, being (as
some interpret the word) the author of eternal life, which he giveth to
all that believe in him, John vi. 39, 40, 47, 51; viii. 51; x. 28; xi.
25, 26. Heb. v. 9, and vii. 25. Was he called the "Prince of Peace?" So
is he the Prince of Peace indeed, being our peace, Mic. v. 5. Eph. ii.
14; making up peace between God and us, Isaiah liii. 5, and liii. 19.
Eph. ii. 17. Col. i. 20. Hence his gospel is the gospel of peace, and
his ministers ambassadors of peace, Isaiah lii. 7. Rom. x. 15. 2 Cor. v.
19, 20. Eph. vi. 15. And he giveth peace to all his, Zech. ix. 10. John
xiv. 27; xvii. 33. Rom. v. 1; viii. 16, and xiv. 17. 2 Thes. iii. 17.
Was he called the "Lord our Righteousness?" Jer. xxiii. 6; so is he the
same indeed, bringing in everlasting righteousness, Dan. ix. 24; and
"being made of God to us righteousness," 1 Cor. i. 30; and making us
righteous, 2 Cor. v. 21.

_Sixthly,_ He is the Truth in reference to the promises, which,

1. Centre all in him, and lead to him as the great promise.

2. Are founded all upon him, who is the only Mediator of the covenant of
promises.

3. Are confirmed all by him, and made yea and amen in him, 2 Cor. i. 20.
He confirmed the promises made to the fathers, Rev. xv. 8.

4. Are all dispensed and given out by him, who is the executor of his
own testament, and the great dispensator of all that we need; so that
what we ask of the Father he giveth it himself, John xiv. 13, 14.

_Seventhly,_ He is the Truth, in that he fully answereth all the hopes
and expectations of his people. He shall not be found a liar unto them,
whatever Satan may suggest unto them, or a misbelieving heart may prompt
them to conceive, and their jealousy may make them apprehend; and
whatever his dispensations may now seem to say. In end they shall all
find, that he is the truth, fully satisfying all their desires; and
granting all that ever they could hope for, or expect from him. They
shall at length be satisfied with his likeness, Psalm xvii. 15; yea,
abundantly satisfied with the fatness of his house, Psalm xxxvi. 8; and
with his goodness, Psalm lxv. 4; and that as with marrow and fatness,
Psalm lxiii. 5. One sight of his glory will fully satisfy, and cause
them to cry out, enough! Jeremiah is now saying, as once he did in the
bitterness of his soul, through the power of corruption and temptation,
(chap. xv. 18.) "wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as
waters that fail?"

_Eighthly,_ He is the Truth, in opposition to all other ways of
salvation: for,

1. There is no salvation now by the law of works, that covenant being
once broken cannot any more save; the law cannot now do it, in that it
is weak through the flesh, Rom. viii. 3.

2. There is no salvation now by the law of Moses without Christ: hence
Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, did not attain to
the law of righteousness, because they sought it not by faith, but as it
were by the works of the law, Rom. ix. 31, 32. They went about to
establish their own righteousness, and did not submit themselves unto
the righteousness of God, Rom. x. 3.

3. There is no salvation by any thing mixed in with Christ, as the
apostle fully cleareth in his epistle to the Galatians.

4. There is no salvation by any other way or medium, which mart can
invent or fall upon, whereof there are not a few, as we shewed above:
"for there is not another name given under heaven, by which we can be
saved," but the name of Jesus, Acts iv. 12. No religion Will save but
this.

So that he is the true salvation, and he only is the true salvation; and
he is the sure and safe salvation: such as make use of him shall not be
mistaken nor disappointed, Isaiah xxxv. 8.

_Ninthly,_ He is the Truth, in respect of his leading and guiding his
people in the truth: hence he is called "a teacher from God," John iii.
2; and one that "teacheth the way of God in truth," Matt. xxii. 16. "A
prophet mighty in deed and word," Luke xxiv. 19. And in this respect he
is the truth upon several accounts.

1. Of his personal teaching, God spoke by him, Heb. i. 2. He revealed
the Father's mind, Matt. xi. 27. John i. 18.

2. Of his messengers sent by him, as prophets of old, apostles and
ministers of late, whom he sendeth forth to make disciples, Matt,
xxviii. 18; and to open the eyes of the blind, Acts xxvi. 18.

3. Of his word, which he hath left as our rule, and which is a sure,
word of prophecy, more sure than a voice from heaven, 2 Pet. i. 19.

4. Of his ordinances, which he hath established as means to guide us in
the way of truth.

5. Of his Spirit, whereby he maketh the word clear, John xiv. 26. This
Spirit is sent to teach all truth, and to lead and guide us in all
truth, John xvii. 13. 1 John ii. 27; and sept by him, and by the Father
in his name, John xiv. 26; xv. 16; xvi. 14.

6. Of his dispensations of providence, within us and without us, by
which likewise he instructeth in the way of truth.

_Tenthly._ He, is the Truth, in, respect of his bearing witness to, the
truth; and this he doth,

1. By himself, who was given for a witness, Isaiah lv. 4; and came to
bear witness to the truth, John iii. 11; xviii. 37; and was a faithful
witness, Rev. i. 5; iii. 14,

2. By his ministers, who witness the truth of the gospel by publishing
and proclaiming the same.

3. By his martyrs, who seal the truth with their blood, and so bear
witness to it, Rev. ii. 13; xvii. 6. Acts xxii. 20.

4. By his Spirit, sealing the truth of grace in a believer, and his
interest in God through Christ, and his right to all the benefits of the
new covenant, "in whom also, after ye believed, ye were sealed with that
Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance," Eph.
i. 13, 14.

_Eleventhly._ He is the Truth, in respect that he carrieth towards poor
sinners in all things, according to the tenor of the gospel, and the
offers thereof; he offers himself to all freely, and promiseth to put
none away that come to him; and this he doth in truth: for no man can
say, that he had a sincere and true desire to come to Jesus, and that he
rejected him and would not look upon him. He giveth encouragement to all
sinners to come, that will be content to quit their sins; and promiseth
to upbraid none that cometh. And is there any that in their own
experience can witness the contrary? He offers all freely; and did he
ever reject any upon the want of a price in their hand? Nay, hath not
the cause of their getting no admittance been, that they thought to
commend themselves to Christ by their worth; and would not take all
freely, for the glory of his grace? Let believers and others speak here,
out of their own experience, in truth and in uprightness; and it shall
be found, that he was and is the truth.

_Twelfthly._ He is the Truth, in that, in all his dispensations in the
gospel, and in all his works and actions in and about his own people, he
is true and upright. All his offers, all his promises, all his
dispensations, are done in truth and uprightness; yea, all are done out
of truth and uprightness of love, true tenderness and affection to them,
whatever the corruption of jealousy and misbelief think and say to the
contrary. He is the truth; and so always the same, unchangeable in his
love, whatever his dispensations seem to say; and the believer may rest
assured hereof, that he being the truth, shall be to him whatever his
word holdeth him forth to be, and that constantly and unchangeably.



CHAPTER XII.

SOME GENERAL USES FROM THIS USEFUL TRUTH, THAT CHRIST IS THE TRUTH.


Having thus cleared up this truth, we should come to speak of the way of
believers making use of him as the truth, in several cases wherein they
will stand in need of him as the truth. But ere we come to the
particulars, we shall first propose some general uses of this useful
point.

_First._ This point of truth serveth to discover unto us, the woful
condition of such as are strangers to Christ the truth; and oh, if it
were believed! For,

1. They are not yet delivered from that dreadful plague of blindness,
error, ignorance, mistakes under which all are by nature; a condition,
that if rightly seen, would cause the soul lie low in the dust.

2. Whatever course they take, till they come to Christ, and while they
remain in that condition, is a lie, and a false, erroneous, and
deceitful way. For still they are turning aside to lies, Psalm xl. 4;
and seeking after them, Psalm iv. 2.

3. Whatever hopes and confidence they may have, that their way shall
carry them through, yet in end they will be found to inherit lies, Jer.
xvi. 19; and meet with the saddest disappointment that can be. For
instead of the fellowship of God, Christ, angels, and glorified spirits,
they shall take up their lodging with devils and damned souls; and that
because they have made no acquaintance with the way of truth; and the
way wherein they are, is but a lie and a falsehood; and so of necessity
must deceive them.

4. All their literal and speculative knowledge shall not avail them, so
long as they are strangers unto him who is the truth. Their knowledge is
but ignorance, because it is not a knowledge of him who is the truth.

5. They have none to go to for help and light in the day of their
darkness, confusion, and perplexity; for they are not reconciled unto
the truth, which alone can prove steadable and comfortable in that day.

6. They can do nothing to help themselves out of that state of darkness
and ignorance; and whatever they do to help themselves shall but
increase their darkness and misery; because there is no truth there, and
truth, even the truth alone, can dispel these clouds of error, mistakes,
ignorance, &c.

_Secondly._ Hence, we see the happy and blessed condition of believers,
who have embraced this truth, and gotten their souls opened to him who
is the truth; for,

1. They are in part delivered from that mass of lies, mistakes,
misapprehensions, errors, deceitfulness and ignorance under which they
lay formerly, and all the unregenerate do yet lie. And though they be
not fully delivered therefrom, yet the day is coming when that shall be,
and the begun work of grace and truth in them is a pledge thereof; and
at present they have ground to believe, that that evil shall not again
have dominion over them, they being now under grace, and under the
guidance of truth.

2. Howbeit they have many perplexing thoughts, doubts and fears of their
state and condition, and think many a time, that they shall one day or
other perish by the way; and all their hopes and confidence shall
evanish; yet having given up themselves to truth, and to the truth, they
shall not be disappointed in the end. The truth shall land them safe on
the other side. The truth shall prove no lie.

3. They have a fast and steadable friend to go to, in a day of darkness,
clouds, doubts, when falsehood and lies are like to prevail, even the
Truth, who alone can help them in that day.

4. Howbeit the knowledge they have of God, and of the mysteries of the
gospel, be but small; yet that small measure being taught by him, who is
the truth, and flowing from truth, shall prove sanctifying and saving.

9. They have ground to hope for more freedom from errors and deceitful
lies, than others; for they have chosen the way of truth, and given
themselves up to the leading of truth.

_Object._ But do not even such drink in and receive and plead for
errors, as well as others; and is it not sometime found, that they even
live and die in some mistakes and errors?

_Answ._ I grant the Lord may suffer even some of his own to fall into,
and to continue for some time in errors, yea, and it may be all their
days, as to some errors, that hereby, all may learn to tremble and fear,
and to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. (2.) Some may
be tried thereby, Dan. xi. 35. (3.) Others may break their neck
thereupon. (4.) To punish themselves, for not making that use of truth,
and of the truth, that they should have done; yet we would consider
these few things:

1. That there are many more unregenerate persons that fall into error.

2. If his people fall into error at any time, they do not always
continue therein to the end. God for his own glory maketh, sometime or
other, truth shine in upon their soul, which discovereth that mistake,
and presently, the grace of God in their soul maketh them to abhor the
same.

3. Or if some continue in it to their dying day, yet they repent of it,
by an implicit repentance, as they do of other unknown and unseen evils
that lie in their soul; so that that error doth not destroy their soul.

4. There are some gross errors, which a regenerate soul cannot readily
embrace, or if, through a mistake, or the power of a temptation, they do
embrace them, yet they cannot heartily close with them, whatever for a
time, through corruption and pride, they may seem outwardly to do; and
that because the very daily exercise of grace will discover them; and so
they will be found to be against their daily experience; as some
opinions of the Papists, Arminians, and Socinians, together with the
abominable Quakers, which a gracious soul, when not carried away with
the torrent of corruption, and with the tempest of a temptation, cannot
but observe to contradict the daily workings of grace in their soul, and
the motions of their sanctified soul, in prayer and other holy duties;
and so such as they cannot but find to be false by their own experience.

_Thirdly._ Here is ground of a sharp reproof of the wicked, who continue
in unbelief; and,

1. Will not believe, nor give any credit to his promises; wherewith he
seeketh to allure poor souls to come to him for life.

2. Nor will they believe his threatenings, wherewith he useth to alarm
souls, and to urge them forward to their duty.

3. Nor will they believe and receive his offers, as true.

5. Nor will they believe, that he is the true prophet, priest, and king,
that must save souls from hell and death, and therefore they will not
give him employment in his offices.

All which cannot but be a high provocation, for in effect it is to say
that he is not the truth, nor worthy to be believed. Let them consider
this, and see how they think he shall take this off their hands. No man
will take it well that another should either call or account him a
liar; and can they think that Christ shall take it well at their hands,
to be accounted by them a liar? What will they think to be challenged
for this in the great day? Now, the truth is, all unbelievers, as they
make God a liar, (O horrid and abominable crime! Whose hair would not
stand on end to hear this?) 1 John v. 10, 11. "He that believeth not God
hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave
of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal
life; and this life is in his Son." So do they make the Son of God a
liar, in all his sayings, in all his offices, and in all his works; and
they make the Holy Ghost a liar, in not believing that truth that he
hath sealed as firm truth. They make the covenant of suretiship betwixt
the Father and the Son, a mere lie and a forgery. O dreadful! They make
the word of truth a lie, and they make all the saints liars, and all the
officers of Jesus Christ, who declare this truth, and the saints who
believe it, and rest upon it, liars.

_Fourthly._ Hence is there ground of reproof to the godly, in that,

1. They do not firmly enough believe his sayings, neither his promises,
nor his threatenings, as appeareth too oft upon the one hand, by their
faintings and fears, and upon the other hand, by their carelessness and
loose walk.

2. They make not use of him, in all cases as they ought. His offices lie
by and are not improved; nor is he gone to as the truth, in cases
requiring his help, as the truth; that is, in cases of darkness,
doubtings, confusion, ignorance of their case and condition, and the
like.

3. They do not approach to him, nor to God through him, heartily and
cordially, as the very truth, and true way.

4. Nor do they rest with confidence upon him in all difficulties, as
being the truth that will not fail them, nor disappoint them.

5. Nor do they rejoice in him, as satisfied with him, who is the truth,
in the want of all other things.

_Fifthly._ The right consideration of this truth should keep us in mind
of several great duties; such as those,

1. Of pitying those places where this truth is not heard of, as among
Turks and heathens; or where it is darkened with superstition and men's
inventions, as among papists; or where it hath been clearly shining, but
now is darkened, as in some churches now under the prevailing power of
corruption; or, lastly, where it is not received in its power and
lustre, as, alas! it is too little received in the best and purest
churches.

2. Of being thankful to him for making this truth known in the world,
and particularly in the place where we were born, or had our abode; and
yet more for that he hath determined our hearts to a believing of this
truth, in some weak measure; to an embracing of it, and to a giving of
ourselves up to be led, ruled, and guided thereby.

3. Of esteeming highly of every piece of truth for his sake who is the
truth; studying it for his sake--loving it for his sake--holding it fast
for his sake--witnessing to it, as we are called, for his sake. We
should buy the truth, and not sell it, Prov. xxiii. 23; and we should
plead for it, and be valiant for it, Isa. lix. 4, 14. Jer. vii. 28; ix.
3.

4. Of taking part with him and his cause, in all hazards, for truth is
always on his side; and truth shall prevail at length.

5. Of giving him employment in our doubts and difficulties, whether,

(1.) They be about some controverted points of truth, which come to be
debated, or to trouble the church. Or,

(2.) About our own estate and condition, quarrelled at by Satan, or
questioned by the false heart. Or,

(3.) About our carriage in our daily walk. In all these, and the like,
we should be employing truth, that we may be led in truth, and taught by
truth, to walk in sure paths.

6. Of carrying in all things before him as true; for he is truth, and
the truth, and so cannot be deceived; and therefore we should walk
before him in sincerity and singleness of heart, without guile,
hypocrisy, or falsehood, that we may look like children of the truth;
and of the day, and of light, and children that will not lie or
dissemble, Isaiah lxiii. 8; not like these that lied unto him, Psalm
lxxviii. 38. Isaiah lix. 13.

7. Of taking him only for our guide to heaven, by denying our own wit,
skill, and understanding, and looking to and resting upon him, who alone
is the truth, and so acknowledging him in all our ways, depending on him
for light and counsel, for singleness of heart, humility, diligence, and
truth, in the inward parts.

8. Of giving up ourselves daily unto him and his guidance, and denying
our own wills, humours, parties, or opinions; for he alone is truth, and
can only guide us aright. And for this cause, we would acquaint
ourselves well with the word, which is our rule, and seek after the
Spirit, whom Christ hath promised to lead us into all truth.

_Sixthly._ Should not this be a strong inducement to all of us, to lay
hold on and grip to him, who is the truth, and only the truth? seeing,

1. All other ways which we can take, will prove a lie to us in the end.

2. He is substance, and no shadow, and all that love him shall inherit
substance; for he will fill all their treasures, Prov. viii. 21.

3. Such as embrace him shall not wander, nor be misled; for his "mouth
shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to his lips," Prov.
viii. 7. "All the words of his mouth are in righteousness, and there is
nothing froward or perverse in them," verse 8. "He is wisdom, and
dwelleth with prudence, and findeth out knowledge of witty inventions,"
verse 12. "Counsel is his, and sound wisdom; he hath understanding and
strength," ver. 14.

4. He will make good all his promises in due time, and give a
subsistence and a being to them all; for he is the Truth, and the Truth
must stand to his promises, and fulfil them all.

5. He will never, nay, "never leave his people, nor forsake them," Heb.
xiii. 5. He is truth, and cannot deceive; he cannot forsake nor
disappoint. He is a spring of water, whose waters fail not, Isaiah
lviii. 11. Therefore they cannot be disappointed in the end, and
perish, who trust to him.

6. The truth will make them free, John viii. 32, 36, and so deliver them
from their state of sin and misery, wherein they lay as captives; and
from that spiritual bondage and slavery under which they were held.

_Seventhly_. This, to believers, may be a spring of consolation in many
cases, as,

1. When error and wickedness seem to prosper and prevail; for though it
prevail for a time, yet truth will be victorious at length, and the
truth will overcome all. He is truth, and will plead for truth.

2. When friends, acquaintances, relations, fail them, and father and
mother forsake them, truth will take them up. He who is the truth will
answer his name, and never deceive, never forsake.

3. When riches, honours, pleasures, or what else their heart hath being
going out after, prove like summer brooks; for the truth will be the
same to them in all generations; there is no shadow of turning with
him. The Truth is always truth, and true.

4. When we fear that either ourselves or others shall fall away, in a
day of trial, and turn from the truth. Though all men prove liars and
deceivers, truth will abide the same, and stand out all the blasts of
opposition.

5. When unbelief would make us question the truth of the promises, the
faith of his being truth itself, and the truth, even truth in the
abstract, would shame unbelief out of countenance. Shall truth fail?
Shall not the Truth be true? What a contradiction were that?

6. When we know not how to answer the objections of Satan, and of a
false treacherous heart; for truth can easily answer all cavils; and he
who is the truth can repel all objections against truth. Truth is
impregnable, and can stand against all.

7. When we cannot know, nor discover the wiles and subtilty of Satan.
Truth can discover the depths of Satan, and make the poor soul more
acquaint with them; so that they shall not any more be ignorant of his
devices, who look to him.

8. When the thoughts of the deceitfulness of our hearts trouble us, the
depth whereof we cannot search. This then may comfort us, that truth may
search the heart and the reins, Jer. xvii. 9, 10.

9. When we cannot tell what our disease and distemper is, and so cannot
seek suitable remedies, or help from God, O what a comfort is it, to
know and believe, that he is the truth, with whom we have to do, and so
knoweth our distemper perfectly, and all its causes and symptoms,--truth
cannot be at a stand in discerning our disease; so nor can he be
ignorant of the fittest and only safest cures.

10. When we know not what to ask in prayer, as not knowing what is best
for us, it is a comfort to remember that we have to do with the Truth,
who is perfectly acquainted with all that, and knoweth what is best.

11. When we know not how to answer the calumnies of adversaries, it is
comfortable to know that he is the truth, that will hear truth, when men
will not, and will own and stand for the truth, when enemies do what
they can to darken an honest man's good cause. It is comfortable to
know, we have the Truth to appeal to, as David had, Psalm vii. 17.

12. When we think on our own covenant-breaking, and dealing deceitfully
with God, it is comfortable to remember, that though we and all men be
liars, and deal deceitfully with him, yet he is the truth, and will keep
covenant for ever; he will not, he cannot deny himself, 2 Tim. ii. 13.

_Eighthly,_ Hence we may certainly conclude, that truth, which is
Christ's cause, shall at length prevail; for he is truth, yea, the
truth, and so abideth truth; therefore must he prevail, and all the
mouths of liars must be stopped. So then let us remain persuaded, that
truth at length shall be victorious, and that the cause of Christ shall
have the victory. Though,

1. The enemies of truth, and the cause of Christ, be multiplied, and
many there be that rise up against it.

2. These enemies should prosper, and that for along time, and carry on
their course of error and wickedness with a high hand.

3. There should be few found to befriend truth, and to own it in an evil
day.

4. Yea, many of those that did sometime own it, and plead for it, should
at length turn their backs upon it, as did Demas.

5. And such as continue constant and faithful, be loaded with
reproaches, and pressed under with sore persecution, for adhering to
truth, and owning constantly the good cause.

6. Yea, though all things in providence should seem to say, that truth
shall not rise again, but seem, on the contrary, to conspire against the
same.

_Ninthly,_ May we not hence read, what should be our way and course, in
a time when a spirit of error is gone abroad, and many are carried off
their feet therewith, or when we are doubtful what to do, and what side
of the dispute to take. O then is the fit time for us to employ truth,
to live near to him who is the truth, to wait on him, and hang upon him,
with singleness of heart.

_Objection._ But many even of his own people do err and step aside.
_Ans._ That is true: But yet, (1.) That will be no excuse to thee.
Nay,(2.) That should make thee fear and tremble more. (3.) And it should
press thee to lie near to Christ, and to wrestle more earnestly with
him, for the Spirit of light and of truth, and to depend more constantly
and faithfully upon him, with singleness of heart, and to give up all
thy soul and way to him, as the God of truth, and as the truth, that
thou mayest be led into all truth.

_Tenthly,_ This should stir us up to go to him, and make use of him as
the truth in all cases, wherein we may stand in need of truth's hand to
help us; and for this cause we should mind those particulars:

1. We should live in the constant conviction of our ignorance,
blindness, hypocrisy, readiness to mistake and err. This is clear and
manifest, and proved to be truth by daily experience; yet how little is
it believed, that it is so with us? Do we see and believe the atheism of
our hearts? Do we see and believe the hypocrisy of our hearts? Are we
jealous of them, as we ought to be? O that it were so! Let this then be
more minded by us.

2. Let us live in the persuasion of this, that he only, and nothing
below him, will be able to clear our doubts, dispel our clouds, clear up
our mistakes, send us light, and manifest truth unto us; not our own
study, pains, prayers, duties, learning, understanding; nor ministers,
nor professors, and experienced Christians, and the like.

3. We should be daily giving up ourselves to him, as the truth, in all
the forementioned respects, and receiving him into our souls as such,
that we may dwell and abide there: then shall the truth make us free;
and if the Son make us free, we shall be free indeed, John viii. 36.

4. There should be much single dependence on him for light, instruction,
direction, and guidance in all our exigencies.

5. Withal, there should be a waiting on him with patience, giving him
liberty to take his own way and time, and a leaving of him thereunto.

6. We should by all means guard against such things as are hinderances,
and will prove obstacles to us in this matter; such as,

(1.) Prejudices against the truth; for then we will undervalue light,
and reject all the directions and instructions of the Spirit, as not
agreeing with our prejudicate opinion.

(2.) A wilful turning away from truth, as these, 2 Tim. iv. 4. Titus i.
14.

(3.) Addictedness to our own judgments and opinions, which causeth
pertinaciousness, pride, and conceit, as thinking ourselves so wise, as
that we need no information; and this occasioneth a self-confidence.

(4.) Looking too much unto, and hanging too much upon men, who are but
instruments, crying them up as infallible, and receiving, without
further examination, all that they say, not like the Bereans, Acts xvii.
This is a great hinderance to the receiving of truth, and very
prejudicial.

(5.) A neglecting of the use of the means which God hath appointed for
this end.

(6.) Or an hanging too much on them, and so misplacing them, giving them
his room.

(7.) Leaning too much to our own understanding, wit and knowledge, &c.

(8.) A resisting of the truth, 2 Tim. iii. 8. These and the like
hinderances should be guarded against, lest they mar our attaining to
the knowledge of truth.

7. There should be much of the exercise of prayer, for this is the main
conduit and mean, through which light is conveyed into the soul. There
should also be a serious and Christian reading and hearing of the word,
which is truth, and the word of truth, and the Scripture of truth; and
those duties should be gone about with, (1.) much self-denial; (2.) with
much singleness of heart; (3.) with much humility; (4.) with much
willingness and readiness to be instructed; (5.) with much seriousness
and earnestness; and, (6.) with faith and dependence on God for his
blessing and breathing.

8. We should beware of trusting to our own understandings, or to the
judgments of other men; nor should we look to what suiteth most our own
humours, nor to what appeareth most specious and plausible, for that may
deceive us.

9. We should lie open to the influences and rays of light, by exercising
faith in earnest desires; as also patient waiting for and single looking
to him, minding his name and his relations, promises, and engagements,
and the strengthening of our faith and confidence.

10. We should labour to keep fast whatever he teacheth us by his word
and Spirit, and not prove leaking vessels. This the apostle exhorteth
to, Heb. ii. 1, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the
things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip;"
yea, and we should be established "in the truth," 2 Pet. i. 12.

11. We should beware of resting on a form of the truth, as those did, of
whom we read, Rom. ii. 20; and of holding the truth in unrighteousness,
as those, Rom. i. 18; and of disobeying it, as those mentioned in Rom.
ii. 8. See also Gal. iii. 1; v. 7.

12. But on the contrary, we should so receive truth, as that it might
rule and be master in us, captivate judgment, will, and affections, and
break out into the practice. And this recommendeth several duties, such
as,

(1.) To have the truth in us; while as, if we practise otherwise, "the
truth is not in us," 1 John i. 8; ii. 4.

(2.) To be of the truth, as belonging to its jurisdiction, power, and
command, 1 John iii. 19. John xviii. 37.

(3.) To do the truth, by having true fellowship with him, 1 John i. 6;
and "to walk in the truth," 2 John iv. 3. John iv. Psalm lxxxvi. 11.

(4.) To have the loins girt with truth, Eph. i. 14.

(5.) To receive the love of the truth, 2 Thess. ii. 10.

(6.) To be instructed of him, "as the truth is in Jesus," Eph. iv. 21.

(7.) To purify the soul in obeying the truth, 1 Pet. ii. 22.

This shall suffice for clearing up, and applying in the general this
excellent truth, that Christ is the truth. We shall now come and make
some more particular use of this precious point, by speaking to some
particular cases (which we shall instance in, by which the understanding
Christian may be helped to understand how to carry and how to make use
of Christ in other the like cases), wherein Christ is to be made use of
as the truth, and show how believers are to make use of him in these
cases as the truth.



CHAPTER XIII.

HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE TRUTH, FOR GROWTH IN KNOWLEDGE.


It is a commanded duty, that we grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, 2
Pet. iii. 18; and the knowledge of him being life eternal, John xvii. 3,
and our measure of knowledge of him here being but imperfect, for we
know but in part, it cannot but be an useful duty, and a desirable
thing, to be growing in this knowledge. This is to walk worthy of the
Lord unto all pleasing, to be increasing in the knowledge of God, Col.
i. 10. Knowledge must be added to virtue; and it layeth a ground for
other Christian virtues, 2 Pet. i. 5, 6. In this knowledge we must not
be barren, 2 Pet. i. 2. And this being so necessary, so desirable, so
useful, and so advantageous a grace, the believer cannot but desire to
have more and more of it, especially seeing it is a part of the image of
God, Col. iii. 10.

Now it is the truth that must teach them here, first and last. "The
light of the knowledge of the glory of God must be had in the face of
Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6. The question therefore is, how we should
make use of Jesus Christ for this end, that we may attain to more of
this excellent knowledge.

_First._ It is good to live in the constant conviction of a necessity of
his teaching us, and this taketh in those particulars:

1. That we should be conscious of our ignorance, even when we know most,
or think we know most, remembering that the best knoweth but in part, 1
Cor. xiii. 9. The more true knowledge we attain to, the more will we see
and be convinced of our ignorance; because the more we know, the more
will we discover of the vastness and incomprehensibility of that object,
which is proposed to our knowledge.

2. That we should remember, how deceitful our hearts are; and how ready
they are to sit down upon a shadow of knowledge, even where we know
nothing as we ought to know, 1 Cor. viii. 2; and this will keep us
jealous and watchful.

3. And to help forward our jealousy of our own hearts and watchfulness,
we should remember that our hearts naturally are averse from any true
and saving knowledge; whatever desire there be naturally after knowledge
of hidden things out of curiosity; and of things natural; or of things
spiritual, as natural, for the perfection of nature, as might be
pretended, whereby in effect those that increase knowledge, increase
sorrow, Eccl. i. 18. Yet there is no inclination after spiritual and
saving knowledge, in us naturally, but an aversion of heart therefrom.

4. That we should study and know the absolute necessity of this
knowledge. How necessary it is for our Christian communion with God, and
Christian walk with others; how necessary for our right improving of
dispensations, general and particular; what a noble ornament of a
Christian it is, and a necessary piece of the image of God, which we
have lost.

_Secondly._ Upon these grounds mentioned, we would also be convinced of
this:

1. That of ourselves, and by all our natural parts, endowments,
quickness and sagacity, we cannot attain to this saving knowledge, which
is a special and saving grace, and so must be wrought in the soul by a
divine hand, even the mighty power of God. By our private study and
reading, we may attain to a literal, heady, and speculative knowledge,
that will puff us up, 1 Cor. viii. 1; but thereby shall we never attain
to this knowledge, which is spiritual, hearty, and practical, and so
saving, we must have the anointing here, which teacheth us all things, 1
John ii. 27. And of this we should be persuaded, that we may look to a
higher hand for light and instruction.

_Thirdly._ There should be an eyeing of Christ's furniture and fitness
for this work of teaching of us, to wit,

1. An eyeing of him as the substantial wisdom of the Father, Prov. viii.

2. An eyeing of him, as one come out of the bosom of the Father, John i.
18; and so sufficiently enabled to acquaint us with the mysteries of God
for salvation.

3. An eyeing of him as Mediator, fully endued with all necessaries for
this piece of his work, and so having received the Spirit without
measure, for this end, John iii. 34; and as having hid in him all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Col. ii. 3; and as having all
fullness dwelling in him, Col. i. 19; and also Isa. xi. 2; lxi. 1,2.

4. An eyeing of him, as having power to send the Spirit, that anointing
that teacheth us all things, "and is truth and is no lie," 1 John ii.
20-27; not only by way of intercession and entreaty, begging it of the
Father, John xv. 16, 17; but also authoritatively, as conjunct with the
Father. The Father sendeth him in Christ's name, John xiv. 26; and
Christ sendeth him from the Father, John xv. 26; and this Spirit of
truth which guideth into all truth, shall receive of Christ's, and shew
it unto us, John xvi. 13-15.

_Fourthly,_ There should be an eyeing of Christ's readiness,
willingness, and engagement to help in this case; and this will
encourage the soul to go forward. And for this cause we would remember
those things:

1. That he standeth obliged to help us with instruction, by virtue of
his office, as a prophet, a witness, a leader, and a commander, Isa. l
v. 4.

2. That he is commissioned of the Father for this end, and so is the
Father's servant; and is given for "a light to the Gentiles," Isa. xlii.
6; xlix. 6; and the Father is said to speak by him, or in him, Heb. i.
1.

3. That he received his gifts and qualifications for this end and
purpose, that he might give out and dispense to his members according to
their necessity; as is clear from Psalm lxviii. 18, compared with Eph.
iv. 8; what he is said to have received in the one place, he is said to
have given in the other.

4. That he hath begun this work already by his Spirit in his followers;
and therefore standeth engaged to see it perfected; for all his works
are perfect works.

5. That he hath a love to his scholars, and a desire to have them all
thriving, and making progress in knowledge; this being his glory who is
their master and teacher.

6. That he laid down ways and means, and a constant course for
instructing of his people: for,

(1.) He hath given his word, and settled and established ordinances for
this end.

(2.) He hath established a ministry for instructing his people, Eph. iv.
8-13.

(3.) He hath gifted persons for this work of the ministry, 1 Cor. xii.
4-11.

(4.) He maketh these officers, in the faithful administration of their
function, and through his blessing and Spirit, maketh their work
prosperous and effectual in his own, as he seeth fit.

_Fifthly._ There should be an eyeing of the promises of the covenant of
grace made for this end, whether general or particular, or both; such as
those which we have, Isa. ii. 9. Hab. ii. 14, "The earth shall be filled
with the knowledge of the Lord," or of "the glory of the Lord, as the
waters cover the sea;" and that, Isa. xxxii. 4, "the heart of the rash
shall understand knowledge," &c.; and Jer. xxxi, 34, "They shall all
know me."

_Sixthly._ There should be a constant, diligent, serious, and single
using of the means of knowledge, with a faithful dependence on Christ by
faith, gripping to him in his relations, offices, engagements, and
promises, and waiting upon his breathing in hope and patience, Psal.
xxv. 5.

_Seventhly._ There should be a guarding against every thing that may
obstruct this work, and grieve him in it; and therefore we would beware,

1. To undervalue and have a little esteem of knowledge; for this will
grieve him; and (to speak so) put him from work.

2. To misimprove any measure of knowledge he giveth.

3. To weary of the means and ordinances whereby he useth to convey
knowledge into the soul.

4. To limit the holy One of Israel to this or that mean, to this or that
time, or to this or that measure, who should have a latitude as to all
these.

5. To despise the day of small things, because we get not more.

6. To be too curious in seeking after the knowledge of hidden mysteries,
the knowledge whereof is not so necessary.

7. To lean too much unto, and to depend too much upon the ordinances, or
instruments, as if all, or any thing, could come from them.

_Eighthly._ There should be a right improving of any measure of
knowledge we get to his glory, and to the edification of others, with
humility and thankfulness, and so a putting of that talent in use, to
gain more to his glory. Whatever measure of knowledge we get, we should
in all haste, put it into practice, and set it to work; so shall it
increase, and engage him to give more.

_Ninthly._ There should be a lying open to Christ's instructions, and to
the shinings of the Spirit of light and of truth, and a ready receiving
of what measure he is pleased to grant or infuse. Which includeth those
duties, 1. A serious and earnest hungering and thirsting after more
spiritual knowledge.

2. A diligent use of every approven mean for this end.

3. A going about the means with much self-denial, spirituality,
singleness of heart, and sincerity, looking to and depending upon him,
who must breathe upon the means, and make them useful.

4. A greedy receiving, drinking in, and treasuring up in the soul what
is gotten.

5. A guarding against selfish and bye-ends, with a single eyeing of his
glory.

6. A guarding against pride in the heart, and a studying of humility and
meekness; for the "meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he
teach his way," Psal. xxv. 9.

7. A putting of the heart or understanding in his hand, together with
the truth, that is heard and received, that he may write the truth, and
cause the heart receive the impression of the truth.

_Tenthly._ There should be a rolling of the whole matter by faith on
him, as the only teacher, a putting of the ignorant, blockish, averse,
and perverse heart, into his hand, that he may frame it to his own mind,
and a leaving of it there, till he by the Spirit, write in it what he
thinketh meet, to his own glory and our good.

And sure, were this way followed, growth in knowledge would not be so
rare a thing as it is.


CAUTIONS.

For further direction and caution in this matter, the believer would
take notice of these particulars:

1. That he should not sit down upon any measure of knowledge he hath
attained to, or can attain to here, as if he had enough, and should
labour for no more; but he should still be minding his duty of seeking,
and pressing for more.

2. Whenever he is about any mean of knowledge, such as preaching,
reading, conference, &c. his heart should be only upon Christ. He should
be hanging on his lips for a word of instruction; and with greediness
looking for a word from his mouth; he should be sending many posts to
heaven, many ejaculatory desires for light and understanding, and that
with singleness and sincerity, and not for base ends, or out of
hypocrisy.

3. Let him not think, that there is no growth in knowledge, because
possibly he perceiveth it not, or is not satisfied as to the measure
thereof; yea, though possibly he perceive more ignorance, than ever he
did before. If he grow in the knowledge of his own ignorance, it is a
growth of knowledge not to be despised; and in a manner, what can we
else know of God, but that he far transcendeth all our knowledge, and
that he is an incomprehensible one, in all his ways.

4. Let him not think, that there is no growth in knowledge, because he
perceiveth not a growth in the knowledge of such or such a particular,
which he desireth most; for if there be a truth in the knowledge of
other particulars, necessary to be known, there is no reason to
complain. If one grow not, as he supposeth, in the knowledge of God, and
of the mysteries of the gospel; yet if he grow in the discovery of the
treachery and wickedness of his own heart, he cannot say that he groweth
not in knowledge.

5. Let him not measure his growth in knowledge, by his growth in the
faculty of speaking and discoursing of such or such points of religion;
many measure their knowledge by their tongue, and think they know
little, because they can express little; and so they think they attain
to no increase or growth in knowledge, because they perceive no increase
or growth in this faculty of discoursing, and talking of such or such
points of truth. It is safer to measure their knowledge by the
impression that the truth hath on their spirits, and the effects of it
on all their carriage, than by their ability and skill to talk and
dispute of it.

6. Let them beware to imagine, that they shall be able to search out the
Almighty unto perfection, "Canst thou (said Zophar, Job. xi. 7, 8, 9.)
by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto
perfection? He is as high as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than
hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the
earth, and broader than, the sea." Or that they shall be able ever to
win to the bottom of their own false deceitful heart, which, as Jeremiah
saith, chap. xvii. 9, "Is deceitful above all things, and desperately
wicked; who can know it?" and which it is God's prerogative alone to
search and try, ver. 10. Neither let them think, so long as they are
here, to win to an exact and perfect knowledge of the mysteries of God,
wherein is the manifold wisdom of God, Eph. iii. 10, which very
principalities and powers in heavenly places are learning; and which the
angels are poring and looking into with desire, 1 Pet. i. 12. There is
no perfection in knowledge to be had here; for here the best but knoweth
in part, and prophesieth in part, 1 Cor. xiii. 4.

7. Let them not think that every one shall have the same measure of
knowledge; every one hath not the like use for it, or the like capacity
for it. There is a measure proportioned to every one; they should not
then complain, because they have not such a measure of knowledge as they
perceive in some others. It may be, the Lord hath some harder piece of
service, which calleth for more knowledge, to put others to. Let every
one then mind his duty faithfully and conscientiously, and let him not
quarrel with God, that he attaineth not to such a measure of knowledge
as he seeth others attain unto.

8. Neither let them think, that the same measure is required of all. For
more is required of some, by reason of their office and charge in the
house of God, being called to teach and instruct others; and so more is
required of such, as have larger capacities, and a better faculty of
understanding than others, who naturally are but of a narrow reach, and
of a shallow capacity. More also is required of such as live under
plain, powerful, and lively ordinances, and under a more powerful and
spiritual dispensation of the grace of God, than of others that want
such advantages. So likewise, more is required of old Christians than of
new beginners; old men, of much and long experience, should know more
than such as are but babes in Christ and but of yesterday.

9. Let their desires run out after that knowledge, not which puffeth
up,--for there is a knowledge which puffeth up, 1 Cor. viii. 1,--but
which humbleth, and driveth the soul farther from itself and nearer to
Christ.

10. They should carefully distinguish betwixt the gift of knowledge and
the grace of knowledge: That ordinarily puffeth up, this humbleth; that
bringeth not the soul to Jesus, this doth; that is but a form, Rom. ii.
20, and doth not retain God, Rom. i. 28, this is a real thing, laying
hold on God and holding him fast, having the fear of the Lord for its
principle, for this "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," Job.
xxviii. 28. Psalm cxi. 10. Prov. i. 7, and ix. 10.; that lieth most in
the head, and venteth most in discourses, words, yea, and sometimes
vanisheth into vain notions, but this goeth down to the heart, and
lodgeth there and appeareth in the man's walk and conversation; as these
two would be distinguished, so the one would not be measured by the
other.

11. When they do not profit indeed, let them beware of quarrelling with
Christ, or of blaming him in any manner of way; but let them lay the
blame of their shortcoming on themselves, for not making more use of him
by faith and single dependence upon him. It is true, none will be so
bold as in words to quarrel with or blame him; yet the heart is
deceitful and tacitly may raise and foment such thoughts of him and his
dispensations, as can pass under no other notion than a quarrelling with
him. Now these would be guarded against.

12. Beware of urging for, or expecting immediate revelation, or
extraordinary manifestations. For we should not tempt the Lord, nor set
limits to him, neither should we prescribe means and ways to him,--we
must be satisfied with the ordinary means which he hath appointed, and
wait at wisdom's doors, with our ears nailed to his posts.

13. Whatever point of truth they learn, or whatever measure of knowledge
they get, they would do well to give that back again to Christ, to keep
for them against a time of need; and wait on him for grace to improve it
for his glory.

14. Let them beware of minding things too high, Psalm cxxxi. 1. It is
better to fear, and to stand in awe, and to seek to lay the foundations
well, to get the saving knowledge of things necessary to salvation. This
will yield most peace and satisfaction.



CHAPTER XIV.

HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST, AS TRUTH, FOR COMFORT, WHEN TRUTH IS
OPPRESSED AND BORN DOWN.


There is another difficulty, wherein believing souls will stand in need
of Christ, as the truth, to help them; and that is, when his work is
overturned, his cause borne down, truth condemned, and enemies, in their
opposition to his work, prospering in all their wicked attempts. This is
a very trying dispensation, as we see it was to the holy penman of Psalm
lxxiii. for it made him to stagger, so that his feet were almost gone,
and his steps had well nigh slipt; yea he was almost repenting of his
being a godly person, saying, ver. 13, "Verily I have cleansed my heart
in vain, and washed my hands in innocency." It was something like this,
which made Jeremiah say, chap. viii. 18, "When I would comfort myself
against sorrow, my heart is faint in me." The harvest was past, and the
summer was ended, and yet they were not saved, ver. 20; and they looked
for peace, but no good came, and for a time of health, but behold
trouble, ver. 15--and this was fainting and vexatious. And what made
Baruch, Jeremiah's faithful companion in tribulation, say, "Woe is me
now! for the Lord hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my
sighing, and I find no rest," Jer. xlv. 3, but this, that all things
were turning upside down. God was breaking down that, which he had
built; and plucking up that which he had planted. Tribulation and
suffering for a good cause, is even fainting to some; as the Apostle
hinteth, Ephes. iii. 13, when he says, wherefore, "I desire that ye
faint not at my tribulation for you." And that which evinceth the danger
of this dispensation, is the fainting and backsliding of many, in such
a time of trial, as sad experience too often cleareth.

Now the believer's stay in this case, must be the Rock of Ages, Jesus
the Truth. It is he alone who can keep straight and honest in such a
reeling time. So that a sight of Christ as the Truth, in reference to
the carrying on of truth in the earth, and advancing his cause and work,
will be the only support of a soul shaken by such a piece of trial.

But the question is, how should believers make use of Christ, in such a
time, to the end they may be kept from fainting and succumbing in such a
storm? To which I answer, that the faith and consideration of those
particulars would help to establishment:

1. That Christ, in all this great work of redemption, and in every piece
of it, is the Father's servant. So is he frequently called, "his
servant," Isa. xlii. 1; xlix. 3, 5, 6; lii. 13; and liii. 11. Zech. iii.
8; and therefore this work is a work intrusted to him, and he standeth
engaged as a servant, to be faithful to his trust. Moreover add to this,
that he hath a commission to perfect that work; and we need not doubt,
but he who is the truth will be true to his trust. "Him hath God the
Father sealed," John vi. 27; and he often tells us himself, that he is
"sent of the Father," John iv. 34; v. 23, 24, 30, 36, 37; vi. 38, 39,
40, 44, 57; viii. 16, 18; xii. 44, 45, 49; vii. 16; ix. 4; x. 36; and
xi. 42.

2. That while he was upon the earth, he finished that work that was
committed to him to finish here, having purchased all that was to be
bought by his blood, paying all the price that justice did ask, John
xvii. 4; xix. 30. By which price he hath purchased a people to himself,
Rev. v. 9. Luke i. 68. So that his work, cause, and interest, is a
purchased work bought with his blood.

3. That his resurrection and glorification is an undoubted proof of
this, that justice is satisfied, and that the price is fully paid; and
also that his exaltation at the Father's right hand is a sure evidence
and ground of hope, that he shall at last triumph over all his enemies,
and that his work of truth shall prosper. The Father said to him, Psalm
cx. 1, "Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy
footstool." Being highly exalted, he hath got "a name above every name:
that at his name every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things
in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should
confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,"
Phil. ii. 9, 10, 11.

4. That the Father standeth engaged to make good to him all that was
promised, and to give him all that he purchased, Isa. liii. 10, 11, 12.
Christ, having now fulfilled his undertaking, by making his soul an
offering for sin, and so satisfying justice, which is openly declared by
his resurrection, and admission to glory, as the head of his elect, is
to expect the accomplishment of what was conditioned unto him. His work,
therefore, on the earth must prosper; and the Father hath undertaken to
see it prosper. Surely the faith of this would much support a poor soul,
staggering at the thoughts of the prosperity of the wicked, and of their
evil cause.

5. That Christ himself is now thoroughly furnished and enabled for the
carrying on of his work, over the belly of all adversaries, for all
power in "Heaven and earth is given to him," Matt. xxviii. 18; "and
every knee must bow to him," Phil. ii. 10; "all judgment is committed
unto him," John v. 22, 27; "angels, powers, and authority are made
subject unto him," 1 Pet. iii. 22; "yea, all things are under him," Eph.
i. 22. How then can his work miscarry; or who can hinder, that truth
should flourish on the earth?

6. That Christ is actually at work, employing this power for the
carrying forward of his design, for the glory of the Father, and for his
own glory, and for the good of his poor people. The Father worked by
him, and he by the Spirit, which is his great Vicegerent, sent from the
Father, and from him, and his work is to glorify the Son, and he shall
receive of his, and show it unto us, John xvi. 14.

7. That Christ, upon many accounts, standeth engaged to perfect this
work which he hath begun and is about. His honour is engaged to go
through, seeing now he is fully furnished for it, and hath all the
creation at his command. He must then perfect his work, as to the
application, as well as he did perfect it as to the purchase. His love
to his Father's and his own glory, and to his own people's good and
salvation, may assure us, that he will not leave the work unperfected;
and his power and furniture may give us full security, that no stop
which his work meeteth with shall be able to hinder it.

8. That hence it is clear and manifest, that his wheel is in the midst
of the wheels of men, and that therefore he is ordering all their
motions and reelings to the best. His wheel keepeth an even pace, and
moveth equally and equitably in the midst of men's contrary motions.

9. And that, therefore, all the eccentric and irregular motions of
devils and wicked men being in his hand, and ordered by him, cannot
hinder, but further his end; so that even enemies, while opposing and
seeking to destroy the cause and interest of Christ, that his name and
truth should no more be mentioned, are promoving his work. His wheel is
the great wheel that ordereth all the lesser and subordinate wheels,
whatever contrary motions they may have the one to the other, and all or
many of them may seem to have to this great wheel; so that, do they what
they will, the work of our Lord goeth on. Their opposition is setting
his work forward, though they intend the contrary; however their faces
look, they row to the port he would be at. This is an undoubted truth,
and confirmed in all ages, and yet is not firmly believed; and a truth
it is, which, if believed, would do much to settle our staggering souls
in a stormy day.

10. That at last he shall come "to be glorified in his saints," 2 Thess.
i. 10; "when he shall be revealed from heaven with all his mighty
angels," verse 7. Then shall it be seen whose counsel shall stand, his
or men's; and whose work shall prosper, his or Satan's.


CAUTIONS.

Yet, let me add a few words, for caution and direction here.

1. The consideration of these things mentioned should not make us
slacken our diligence in prayer and other duties; and when they are
aright considered, they will rather prove a spur and a goad in our side
to set us forward, than a bridle to hold us back.

2. We would not think that Christ's work and interest is going backward
always, when it seemeth so to us. Even when he is casting down what he
hath built up, and plucking up what he hath planted, his work is
prospering, for all that is in order to the laying of a better
foundation, and to the carrying on of a more glorious work, when he
shall lay all the stones with fair colours, and the foundations with
sapphires, and make the windows of crystal, &c. Isa. liv. 11,12.

3. Though his work be always going on, and his truth prospering, yet we
would not think that it will always prosper alike in our apprehensions;
many times we judge by rules of our own making, and not by the rule of
truth, and hence it is that we mistake oftentimes. We walk little by
faith, and too much by sense; and hence we judge too much by sense, and
so pass a wrong judgment, to his dishonour, and the saddening of our own
hearts.

4. Nor would we think that his truth and interest is ruined and gone,
because it is sore oppressed in this or that particular place of the
world; as if his work were not of an universal extent, and in all the
churches. If his truth thrive and prosper in some other place of the
world, shall we not say, that his kingdom is coming? Or shall we limit
all his work and interest to one small part of the world?

5. We would not think the worse of his work because it is carried on
with so many stops, and doth meet with so many impediments in its way.
We are not acquainted with the depths of his infinite wisdom and
counsel; and so we see not what noble ends he hath before him, in
suffering those impediments to lie in the way of his chariot. We think
he should ride so triumphantly all along, that none should once dare to
cast the least block in his way. But we judge carnally, as unacquainted
with the many noble and glorious designs which he hath in ordering
matters. As himself was for a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence,
so will he have the way of the carrying on of his work prove, in his
holy and spotless justice, a stumbling-stone to many that shall stumble
thereat, and fall, and never rise any more.

6. We should beware to think that Christ hath forgotten his work,
because he seemeth to take no notice of our prayers, which we are
putting up now and then for his work. He may be doing that which we are
desiring in the general, and yet not let us know that he is answering
our prayers; and that for wise and holy ends, to keep us humble and
diligent. He may seem to disregard our suits, and yet be carrying on his
work, and granting us our desires upon the matter.

7. Hence we should beware of desponding, and growing heartless and
faint, when we see few owning truth, or standing upon Christ's side; for
he needeth not man's help to carry on this work, though he sometimes
thinketh good to condescend so far as to honour some to be instrumental
in setting of it forward, who yet have nothing but as he giveth; let us
not then think, that his work cannot prosper because great ones and mean
ones oppose it, and such as should stand for it and own it, are few and
fainting, without strength, courage, or zeal.



CHAPTER XV.

HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST FOR STEADFASTNESS, IN A TIME WHEN TRUTH IS
OPPRESSED AND BORNE DOWN.


When enemies are prevailing, and the way of truth is evil spoken of,
many faint, and many turn aside, and do not plead for truth, nor stand
up for the interest of Christ, in their hour and power of darkness: many
are overcome with base fear, and either side with the workers of
iniquity, or are not valiant for the truth, but being faint-hearted,
turn back. Now the thoughts of this may put some who desire to stand
fast, and to own him and his cause in a day of trial, to enquire how
they shall make use of Christ, who is the truth, so as to be enabled to
stand in the day of temptation, and keep fast by truth when it is loaded
with reproaches, and buried under an heap of obloquy. For satisfaction
to this question, I shall shortly point out those directions which, if
followed, may prove helpful to keep the soul from fainting,
misbelieving, doubting, quarrelling at the Lord's dispensations, and
from yielding to the temptations in such a day.

1. The believer should live in the conviction of his hazard through the
sleight of Satan, the strength of temptation, the wickedness and
treachery of the heart, the evil example of others, and the want of
sanctified courage, zeal, and resolution; and this will keep the soul
humble, and far from boasting of its own strength, which was Peter's
fault.

2. They should live in the faith and persuasion of this, that it is
Christ alone who is the truth, who can help them to stand for truth in a
day of temptation; and that all their former purposes, vows,
resolutions, solemn professions, and the like, will prove but weak
cables to hold them fast in a day of a storm; and that only the rock of
ages must save them; and their being a leeward of him, and partaking of
his warm and safe protection, will do their business. That all their
stock of grace and knowledge, and that confirmed with resolutions and
sincere purposes, will help but little in that day; and that new
influences of grace and truth, from the fountain, that is full of grace
and truth, will only prove establishing to the soul, and confirm it in
the truth in that day.

3. Therefore they should eye Christ in his offices, particularly as the
great prophet who can teach as never man taught; so teach as to make the
soul receive the doctrine, and to hold it fast--to receive it in love,
and lay it up in the heart as a rich and enriching treasure.

4. They should eye him in his relations unto his people, as their head,
husband, brother, leader, commander, captain, &c.; for those give ground
of approaching unto him with confidence in the day of darkness and
mists, for light and direction, and for strength and courage in the day
of temptation; and give ground of hope of help in that day of trial and
difficulty.

5. They should eye and act faith upon the promises of assistance and
through-bearing, in the day of calamity; such as those--Isa. xliii. 2,
"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through
the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the
fire, thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon
thee." And Isaiah xli. 13, "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right
hand, saying unto thee, fear not, I will help thee." And particularly
they would eye the promises of light in the day of darkness, Isaiah
lviii. 8, 10; lx. 20. 2 Sam. xxii. 29.

6. They should look on Christ as an exalted conqueror, now risen and
glorified; as a victorious captain that hath fought and overcome, that
they, as his followers, may be made partakers of his victory and
conquest, and so reap the fruit of his resurrection and ascension, in
their establishment in the truth, when it is borne down and questioned,
yea, and condemned by men. He abode steadfast and immoveable in the
midst of all the storms that blew in his face; and as he came to bear
witness to the truth, so did he faithfully and zealously avow truth,
even to the death; and in death got the victory of the arch liar and
deceiver. Now the believer should eye this, for the strengthening of his
faith and hope of victory also, through him; and therefore would wait
patiently for his help, and not make haste; for they who believe make
not haste, Isaiah xxviii. 16, knowing that he is true and faithful, and
will not disappoint his followers that trust in him. And moreover it
would be of advantage to them in this case, to eye that gracious and
comfortable word, John xiv. 19, "because I live, ye shall live also;"
and so by faith conclude, that seeing Christ now liveth as a conqueror
over darkness, untruth, reproaches, calumnies, and opposition of liars,
yea, of the father of lies, they through him shall also live, and ride
out that storm; and this will give much courage to the soul to endure
temptation, and to wait in patience for an outgate.

7. They should study much, and suck at the grand promise of his coming
again, and of finally dispelling all clouds, and of fully clearing up
his glorious truths, that are now covered over with obloquy, and buried
under reproaches; and this will encourage the soul to stand to truth in
the midst of opposition, believing, that at length, truth, how much
soever opposed now, shall be victorious.

8. They should be single in their dependence on him, for strength and
through-bearing, in that day of trial--not leaning to their own
understanding, but acknowledging him in all their ways, Prov. iii. 8;
and when they see no hope of outgate in the world, nor appearance of the
clearing up of the day, they would comfort themselves, and encourage
themselves in the Lord, as David did in a great strait, 1 Sam. xx. 6.

9. Upon the forementioned grounds they would cast all the care of their
through-bearing on him, who careth for them, 1 Pet. v. 7--rolling all
their difficulties on him--consulting only with him and his word, and
not with flesh and blood; and so they would commit their ways to him,
who disposeth of all things as he seeth good; forbearing to limit the
Holy One of Israel, or to quarrel with him for any thing he doth; and
patiently wait for his outgate and delivery.

10. It were good, in this time of trial, to be remembering the worth of
truth, and entertaining high thoughts of the smallest piece of truth
that is questioned, for his sake, who is the truth; that a sight of the
glorious worth thereof, may make them account the less of all they can
lose in the defence and maintenance thereof.

11. So were it good at this time, when truths come to be questioned, to
be lying near to the truth, for light, and to be keeping fast, what he
by his Spirit cleareth up to be truth, though the light should not be so
full as to dispel all objections. This were to depend upon him for
light, with singleness of heart; and in godly simplicity and sincerity
to follow his direction and torch, though it should not shine so bright
as they could wish.


CAUTIONS.

A few words of caution will be useful here also; as,

1. The believer, though taking this course, would not think to be
altogether free of fear of stepping aside, in less or in more. God may
think good to let much of this abide, to the end he may be kept
watchful, tender, and diligent; for fear maketh the soul circumspect and
watchful; and this is a good preservative from defection.

2. Nor would the believer think, that hereby he shall be kept altogether
free of fainting. The heart, now and then, through fear and misbelief,
may fall into a fit of fainting, and think all is gone; and yet he may
carry poor souls through, and make his strength perfect in their
wickedness, 2 Cor. xii. 9; that when they are supported and carried
through the temptation, they may sing praise to him, and not ascribe any
thing to themselves--remembering how often they were fainting, and
almost giving over the cause as desperate and hopeless.

3. They would not think it strange, if, in the time of their wrestling
with difficulties, the Lord hide his face from them, and give not them
that joyful access unto him in prayer, that sometimes they have met
with; for the Lord may see it fit to put them to this point of trial
among the rest, to see if the love of his glory and truth will keep them
standing, when they want the encouragement that might be expected in
that way; and if pure conscience to the command and authority of God,
will keep from siding with an evil way, when the soul is destitute of
all sensible encouragement, both from within and from without.

4. In all this business believers should carry singly with an eye to
God's glory; and should not be acted with self-ends, or drawn by carnal
and selfish motives. They should not desire stability and
through-bearing to be seen of men, or to gain applause and praise of
men; lest God be provoked to leave them to themselves, and they at
length come off with discredit, as did Peter. Therefore they should
strive against these carnal motions of the heart, and labour for
spirituality, singleness of heart, and truth in the inward parts, which
the Lord desireth, Psalm li. 6.



CHAPTER XVI.

HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE TRUTH, WHEN ERROR PREVAILETH, AND THE
SPIRIT OF ERROR CARRIETH MANY AWAY.


There is a time when the spirit of error is going abroad, and truth is
questioned, and many are led away with delusions. For Satan can change
himself into an angel of light, and make many great and fairlike
pretensions to holiness, and under that pretext usher in untruths, and
gain the consent of many unto them; so that in such a time of temptation
many are stolen off their feet, and made to depart from the right ways
of God, and to embrace error and delusions instead of truth. Now the
question is, how a poor believer shall make use of Christ, who is the
truth, for keeping him steadfast in the truth, in such a day of trial,
and from embracing of error, how plausible soever it may appear. For
satisfaction to this we shall propose these few things:

1. In such a time, when a spirit of error is let loose and rageth, and
carrieth several away, it were good for all who would be kept straight
and honest, to be walking in fear. It is not good to despise such a sly
and subtle enemy, especially in the hour and power of darkness. Then all
are called to be on their guard, and to stand upon their watch-tower,
and to be jealous of their corrupt hearts, that are ready enough of
their own accord to drink in error, and to receive the temptation at any
time; and much more then.

2. They should not think that their knowledge and ability to dispute for
truth, will keep them steadfast, if there be not more; for if the
temptation grow, they may come to reason and dispute themselves out of
all their former knowledge and skill. The father of lies is a cunning
sophister, and knoweth, how to shake their grounds and cast all loose.

3. They should renew their covenant grips of Christ, and make sure that
main business, viz. their peace and union with God in Christ, and their
accepting of Christ for their head and husband. They would labour to
have the foundation sure, and to be united unto the chief corner-stone,
that so blow the storm as it will, they may ride safely; and that hereby
they may have access to Christ with boldness, in their difficulty, and
may with confidence seek light from him in the hour of darkness.

4. To the end they may be kept more watchful and circumspect, they
should remember, that it is a dishonourable thing to Christ, for them to
step aside, in the least matter of truth; the denying of the least point
of truth is a consequential denying of him who is the truth; and to
loose a foot in the matters of truth is very dangerous; for who can tell
when they who once slip a foot shall recover it again? And who can tell
how many, and how dreadful errors they may drink in, who have once
opened the door to a small error? Therefore they should beware of
tampering in this matter, and to admit any error, upon the account that
it is a small and inconsiderable one. There may be an unseen
concatenation betwixt one error and another, and betwixt a small one and
a greater one, so as if the little one be admitted and received, the
greater shall follow; and it may be feared that if they once dally with
error, and make a gap in their consciences, that God will give them up
to judicial blindness, that, ere all be done, they shall embrace that
opinion which sometime they seemed to hate as death.

5. They should eye the promises suiting that cause; viz. the promises of
God's guiding "the blind by a way which they know not: of making
darkness light before them, and crooked things straight," Isa. xlii. 16;
and of "guiding continually," Isa. lviii. 11; see also Isa. xlix. 10.;
lvii. 18.; and they would act faith on these and the like promises, as
now made sure by Jesus.

6. Particularly, they should fix their eye upon that principal promise,
of the Spirit of truth, to guide into all truth, John xvi. 13.

7. With singleness of heart they should depend on Christ, and wait for
light from him, and beware of prejudice at the truth; with singleness of
heart they should lie open to his instructions, and to the influences of
his light and direction, and receive in the beams of his divine light;
and thus go about duties, viz. prayer, conference, preaching, reading,
&c. with an eye fixed on him, and with a soul open to him, and free of
all sinful pre-engagement and love to error.

8. With singleness of heart, they should give up their souls to Christ,
as the truth, that he would write the truth in their souls, and frame
their souls unto the truth, and unto that truth which is most
questioned, and by which they are most in hazard to be drawn away; and
urge and press him by prayer and supplication to do the duty of a head,
a husband, guide and commander, &c. unto them; and that he would be a
light unto them in that day of darkness, and not suffer them to
dishonour him or prove scandalous to others; by departing from the truth
and embracing error. A serious single-hearted dealing with him upon the
grounds of the covenant promises and his relations and engagements,
might prove steadable in this case, if accompanied with a lying open to
the influences of truth and to the light of information which he is
pleased to send by the Spirit of truth.


CAUTIONS AND DIRECTIONS.

For further clearing of this matter, we shall hint at some cautions and
further directions useful here: such as,

1. They should beware of thinking that God should come to them with
light and instruction in an extraordinary manner, and reveal the truth
of the question controverted somewhat immediately: for this were a
manifest tempting and limiting of the Holy One of Israel. We must be
satisfied with the means of instruction which he hath provided, and run
to the law and to the testimony. We have the Scriptures, which are able
to make the man of God perfect and "thoroughly furnished unto all good
works," 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17; and to "make wise unto salvation," ver. 15.
There must we see light; and there must we wait for the breathings of
his Spirit with life, and coming with light to clear up truth to us: for
they are the scriptures of truth, Dan. x. 21; and the law of the Lord,
which is "perfect, converting the soul;" and the commandment of the
Lord, that is pure, "enlightening the eyes," Psalm xix. 7, 8. We have
the ministry which God hath also appointed for this end, to make known
unto us his mind; there must we wait for him and his light. Thus must we
wait at the posts of wisdom's doors; and wait for the king of light in
his own way wherein he hath appointed us to wait for him. And if he
think good to come another way more immediate, let him always be
welcome; but let not us limit him nor prescribe ways to him, but follow
his directions.

2. When any thing is borne in upon their spirit as a truth to be
received, or as an error to be rejected, more immediately, they should
beware of admitting of every such thing without trial and examination;
for we are expressly forbidden to believe every spirit, and commanded to
try them whether they are of God or not, 1 John iv. 1. The Lord will not
take it ill that even his own immediate motions and revelations be tried
and examined by the word; because the word is given us for this end, to
be our test and standard of truth. The way of immediate revelation is
not the ordinary way now of God's manifesting his mind to his people. He
hath now chosen another way, and given us a more sure word of prophesy
than was, "even a voice from heaven," as Peter saith, 2 Pet. i. 18, 19.
It is commended in the Bereans, Acts xvii. 11, who upon this account
were "more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the
word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily,
whether those things were so." Even Paul's words, though he was an
authorised and an infallible apostle of Christ's, are here put to the
touch-stone of the word. "Many false prophets may go out, and deceive
many, and speak great swelling words of vanity," 1 John iv. 1; 2 Pet.
ii. 18; and the devil can transchange himself into an angel of light, 2
Cor. xi. 14; and though an angel out of heaven should preach any other
thing than what is in the written word, we ought not to receive his
doctrine, but to reject it, and to account him accursed, Gal. i. 8. So
that the written word must be much studied by us; and by it must we try
all motions, all doctrines, all inspirations, all revelations, and all
manifestations.

3. Much more, they should beware of thinking that the dictates of their
conscience obligeth them, so as that always they must of necessity
follow the same. Conscience, being God's deputy in the soul, is to be
followed no further than it speaketh for God and according to truth. An
erring conscience, though it bind so far as that he who doth contrary to
the dictates thereof sinneth against God, in that, knowing no other than
that the dictates of conscience are right and consonant to the mind of
God, yet dare counteract the same, and thus formally rebel against God's
authority; yet it doth not oblige us to believe and to do what it
asserteth to be truth and duty. It will not then be enough for them to
say, my conscience and the light within me speaketh so, and instructeth
me so; for that light may be darkness, and error, and delusion, and so
no rule for them to walk by. "To the law and to the testimony," and if
their conscience, mind, and light within them "speak not according to
this word, it is because there is no light in them," Isa. viii. 20. I
grant, as I said, they cannot without sin counteract the dictates even
of an erring conscience, because they know no better but that these
dictates are according to truth; and thus an erring conscience is a most
dangerous thing, and bringeth people under a great dilemma, that whether
they follow it or not, they sin; and there is no other remedy here, but
to lay by the erring conscience, and get a conscience rightly informed
by the word; putting it in Christ's hand to be better formed and
informed, that so it may do its office better. This then should be
especially guarded against, for if once they lay down this for a
principle, that whatever their conscience and mind, or inward light (as
some call it) dictate, must be followed, there is no delusion, how
false, how abominable soever it be, but they may be at length in hazard
to be drawn away with; and so the rule that they will walk by be nothing
in effect but the spirit of lies and of delusion, and the motions and
dictates of him who is the father of lies, that is, the devil.

4. Such as pretend to walk so much by conscience, should take heed that
they take not that for the dictate of conscience, which really is but
the dictates of their own humours, inclinations, pre-occupied minds, and
biassed wills. When conscience speaketh, it groundeth on the authority
of God, whether truly or falsely, and proposeth such a thing to be done,
or to be refrained from, merely because God commandeth that, and
forbiddeth this, though sometimes it mistaketh. But though the dictates
of men's humours, inclinations, pre-occupied judgments, and wills, may
pretend God's authority for what they say, yet really some carnal
respect, selfish end, and the like, lieth at the bottom, and is the
chief spring of that motion. And also the dictates of humour and biassed
wills are usually more violent and fierce than the dictates of
conscience; for wanting the authority of God to back their assertions
and prescriptions, they must make up that with an addition of
preternatural force and strength. Hence, such as are purely led by
conscience, are pliable, humble, and ready to hear and receive
information; whereas, others are headstrong and pertinacious, unwilling
to receive instruction, or to hear any thing contrary to their minds,
lest their conscience, receiving more light, speak with a higher voice
against their inclinations and former ways, and so create more trouble
to them; while, as now they enjoy more quiet within, so long as the cry
of their self-will and biassed judgments is so loud, that they cannot
well hear the still and low voice of conscience.

5. They should labour for much self-denial and sincerity; and to be free
from the snares and power of selfish ends, as credit, a name, and
applause, or what of that kind, that may be like "the fear of man that
bringeth a snare," Prov. xxix. 25; for that will be like a gift that
blindeth the eyes of the wise, Exod. xxiii. 8. Love to carry on a party,
or a design to be seen or accounted somebody, to maintain their credit
and reputation, lest they be accounted changelings and the like, will
prove very dangerous in this case; for these may forcibly carry the soul
away, to embrace one error after another, and one error to strengthen
and confirm another, that it is hard to know where or when they shall
stand. And these, by respects, may so forcibly drive the soul forward,
that he shall neither hear the voice of conscience within, nor any
instruction from without.

6. They should study the word of truth without prejudice and any sinful
pre-engagement, lest they be made thereby to wire-draw and wrest the
word to their own destruction, as some of whom Peter speaketh, 2 Pet.
iii. 16. It is a dangerous thing to study the word with a prejudicate
opinion; and to bow or wire-draw the word and make it speak what we
would have it speak, for the confirmation of our opinions and
sentiments. For this is but to mock God and his law, and to say, let his
law speak what it will, I will maintain this opinion, and so make the
word speak as we would have it, or else lay it by. This is to walk by
some other rule than the word, and to make the word serve our lusts and
confirm our errors, than which a greater indignity cannot be done to the
Spirit of truth speaking in the word.

7. In reading and studying of the word there should be much single
dependence on the Spirit for light; waiting for clearness from him whom
Christ hath promised to lead us into all truth. An earnest wrestling
with him for his assistance, enlightening the mind with divine light to
understand the truth, and inclining the soul to a ready embracing and
receiving of the truth declared in the word.

8. Though one place of scripture be enough to confirm any point of
truth, and ground sufficient for us to believe what is there said, there
being nothing in scripture but what is truth; yet, in such a time of
abounding errors, and when many are going abroad speaking perverse
things to lead the simple away, it were spiritual wisdom to be comparing
scripture with scripture, and not be lightly embracing whatever may seem
probable, and fairly deducible from some one passage or other of
scripture, but to be comparing that with other passages and see what
concord there is; for this is certain, whatever point contradicteth
other clear and manifest testimonies of scripture cannot be true;
however a cunning sophister may make it seem very probably to flow out
of such or such a passage of scripture. The testimony of the Spirit is
uniform, and free from all contradictions; and therefore we must see, if
such an assertion, that some would draw from such a passage, agree with
other plain passages, and if not, be sure that is not the meaning of the
place. When the devil did wrest and abuse that passage of truth, Ps.
xci. 11. "He shall give his angels charge concerning thee," &c, and from
thence would infer, that Christ might cast himself down, Matt. iv. 6,
Christ shews that this inference was bad, because it did not agree with
other divine testimonies, particularly not with that, Deut. vi. 16,
"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." And thereby he teacheth us to
take this course in times of temptation, and so compare spiritual things
with spiritual, as Paul speaketh, 1 Cor. ii. 13. Especially they should
beware of expounding clear scriptures by such as are more dark and
mysterious; see 2 Pet. iii. 16. It is always safer to explain darker
passages by such as are more clear.

9. Let them guard against an humour of new-fangledness, nauseating old
and solid truths, and seeking after something new, having ears itching
after new doctrines, yea, or new modes and dresses of old truths. For
this is provoking to God, and proveth dangerous; for such turn away
their ears from the truth, and are turned into fables, as Paul telleth
us, 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4. "For the time will come," saith he, "when they will
not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to
themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their
ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." This savoureth of
a spirit of levity and inconstancy, which is dangerous.

10. They should labour to have no prejudice at the truth, but receive it
in the love of it; lest, for that cause, God give them up to strong
delusions, to believe lies, and to be led with the deceivableness of
unrighteousness, as we see, 2 Thess. ii. 10-12, "And. with all
deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they
received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; and for
this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe
a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had
pleasure in unrighteousness."

11. So should they beware of stifling the truth, of making it a
prisoner, and detaining it in unrighteousness, like those spoken of,
Rom. i. 18. "For which cause God them up to uncleanness and vile
affections, and they became vain in their imaginations, and their
foolish heart was darkened, yea, professing themselves to be wise, they
became fools," ver. 21, &c. They should let truth have free liberty and
power in the soul; and should yield up themselves to be ruled and guided
by it; and not torture with it, lay chains upon it, or fetter it, and
keep it as a prisoner that can do nothing.

12. For this cause, they should hold fast the truth which they have
learned, and have been taught by the Spirit out of the word. When Paul
would guard and fortify Timothy against seducers, that crept into
houses, leading captive silly women, &c., among other directions gave
him this, 2 Tim. iii. 14, 15, "But continue thou in the things which
thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast
learned; and that from a child thou hast known the Scriptures, which are
able to make thee wise unto salvation," &c. So he would have the
Colossians walking in Christ, rooted and built up in him, and stablished
in the faith as they had been taught, Col. ii. 6, 7.

13. Especially they would be holding the groundwork fast,--faith in
Christ. It were good in such a time of erring from the way of truth, to
be gripping Christ faster, and cleaving to him by faith, and living by
faith in him. This is to hold the foundation fast; and then let the
tempest of error blow as it will, they will ride at a sure anchor, and
be safe, because fixed upon the Rock of Ages; and further, living near
Christ in such a dangerous day, would be a noble preservative from the
infection of error. The soul that is dwelling in Christ and gripping to
him daily by faith, and acting love on him, dwelleth in light, will
discover error sooner than another, because living under the rays of the
Sun of Righteousness, which discovereth error.

14. They should labour to learn the truth, as it is in Jesus; and the
truths which they have heard of him, and have been taught by him, as the
truth is in him, will abide, when other truths that have been learned
but of men, and heard of men, and as it was in the preaching of men, and
in books, shall soon evanish in a day of trial. This is to learn Christ,
as the apostle speaketh, Eph. iv. 20, 21, "But ye have not so learned
Christ, if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as
the truth is in Jesus." When we learn the truth, as it is in Jesus, it
bringeth us always to him, and hath a tendency to fix our hearts on him,
and is a piece of the bond that bindeth us to him and his way: we
receive it then as a piece of his doctrine, which we must own, and stand
unto. O if we learned all our divinity thus, we would be more constant
and steadfast in it than we are!

15. When controversies arise, and they know not which side to
choose--both seemeth to them to be alike well founded on the word--they
should exercise their spiritual sagacity, and set their gift of
discerning a work, to see which of the two tendeth most to promote piety
and godliness, and the kingdom of Christ, and so see which of the two is
the truth, "which is after godliness," as the apostle speaketh, Tit. i.
1; they must look which of the two is the doctrine which is according to
godliness, I Tim. vi. 3. That is the truth which is Christ's, and which
should be owned and embraced, viz. which floweth from a spirit of
godliness, and tendeth to promove godliness, and suiteth with the true
principles of godliness, even gospel godliness, wrought according to the
tenor of the covenant of grace; that is, by the strength of the Spirit
of Jesus, dwelling and working in us, and not according to the tenor of
the covenant of works, that is, wrought by our own strength, &c.

16. Yet withal they should take heed that they mistake not here; for
they may look upon some ways and doctrines as having a greater tendency
to promove godliness than others; which indeed have not, but only seem
so. They should therefore consider well what is the way of godliness
laid down in the noble device of the gospel, which is the way that only
glorifieth God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and see what suiteth most
with that, according to the word, and not what seemeth most suitable to
godliness in their apprehension. The word is the best judge and test of
true godliness; and in the word we have the only safest mean of true
godliness held forth: therefore we should see what doctrine tendeth most
to promote godliness according to the way held forth in the word, and
choose that.

17. They should guard against pride and self-conceit, as thinking they
are wise enough, and understanding enough in those matters, and so need
not take a lesson of any. This may be of great prejudice; for "it is the
meek that God guideth in judgment; and to the meek will he teach his
way," Psalm xxv. 9. Therefore it were good for his people in such a day,
to be meek and humble, willing and ready to learn of any person, how
mean soever, that can teach the ways of God. The Lord may bless a word
spoken by a private person, when he will not bless the word spoken by a
minister; for his blessings are free. And it is not good to despise any
mean. Apollos, though instructed in the way of the Lord, mighty in the
Scriptures, fervent in spirit, and teaching diligently the things of the
Lord, Acts xviii. 24, 25, yet was content to learn of Aquila, and of his
wife Priscilla, when they expounded unto him the way of God more
perfectly, ver. 26.

18. In such a time, it is not unsafe to look to such as have been
eminent in the ways of God, and lie near to him; for it is probable they
may know much of the mind of God in those questioned matters. Hence we
find the apostle putting Timothy and others to this duty in a time when
false teachers were going abroad, saying, 2 Tim. iii. 10, "but thou hast
fully known my doctrine, manner of life;" and 1 Cor. iv. 16, "wherefore
I beseech you to be followers of me;" and 1 Cor. xi. 1; and again, Phil.
iii. 17, "brethren, be followers together of me." All which say, that
though we should call no man Rabbi, as hanging our faith absolutely on
him, yet in such a time of prevailing error and of false teachers going
abroad, some respect should be had to such as have found grace of the
Lord to be faithful in times of trial, and have maintained truth, and
stood for it, in times of persecution, and have with singleness of heart
followed the Lord; it not being ordinary with God to leave such as in
sincerity seek him, and desire to follow his way in truth and
uprightness, and to give the revelation of his mind and the
manifestation of his Spirit to others, who have not gone through such
trials.

19. They should also at such a time be much in the sincere practice of
uncontroverted duties, and in putting uncontroverted and unquestionable
and unquestioned truths into practice; and this may prove a notable mean
to keep them right: for then are they in God's way, and so the devil
hath not that advantage of them that he hath of others who are out of
the way of duty. David understood more than the ancients, because he
kept God's precepts, Psal. cxix. 100.

20. It were good and suitable at such a time, to be much in the fear of
God, remembering what an one he is, and how hazardous it is to sin
against him, by drinking in the least point of error. The promise is
made to such, Psalm xxv. 12, "What man is he that feareth the Lord, him
shall he teach in the way that he shall choose."

21. Finally, at such a time they should be much in communion with Jesus,
lying near him; much in prayer to him, studying his relations, offices,
furniture, readiness to help with light and counsel; and they should
draw near to him with humility, boldness, faith, confidence, love,
tenderness, and sincerity; and then they shall not find that he shall
fail them, or disappoint them.

Enough of this. I proceed therefore to another case, which is:



CHAPTER XVII.

HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE TRUTH, THAT WE MAY GET OUR CASE AND
CONDITION CLEARED UP TO US.


The believer is oft complaining of darkness concerning his case and
condition, so as he cannot tell what to say of himself, or what judgment
to pass on himself, and he knoweth not how to win to a distinct and
clear discovery of his state and condition. Now, it is truth alone, and
the Truth, that can satisfy them as to this. The question then is, how
they shall make use of, and apply themselves to this truth, to the end
they may get the truth of their condition discovered to them. But first
let us see what this case may be. Consider, then,

1. That grace may be in the soul, and yet not be seen nor observed. This
is manifest by daily experience.

2. Not only so, but a gracious soul that is reconciled With God in
Christ, and hath the spirit of grace dwelling in it, may suppose itself
a stranger yet unto this reconciliation, and void of the grace of God,
and so be still in the state of nature.

3. Yea, a soul may not only suppose and conclude itself in nature, while
it is in a state of grace, but further, may be filled with terror and
apprehensions of God's wrath and indignation; and that in such a
measure, as that thereby it may be as a distracted person, as we see it
was with Heman, Psalm lxxxviii. 15, who said, "while I suffer thy
terror, I am distracted." The wrath of God lay hard upon him, and he
said, that he was afflicted with all God's waves, ver. 7. Hence he cried
out, vers. 16. 17, "thy fierce wrath goeth over me, thy terrors have cut
me off, they came round about me daily," or all the day, "like water
they compassed me about together." And yet for all this, the first word
of his complaint was faith, ver. 1. Many such complaints hear we out of
Job's mouth, to whom God, notwithstanding, was that gracious, that he
never came to question his state before God, or to conclude his
hypocrisy, or his being still in the state of nature. But it is not so
with every one that is so exercised.

4. Yea, further, with those inward strokes upon the soul, they may have
sin and guilt charged upon their consciences; and this will make their
life yet more bitter, and put a sharper edge upon the rods. Thus was Job
made to possess the sins of his youth, Job. xiii. 26, and made to say,
"My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine
iniquity," Job. xiv. 17.

5. Moreover, they may be in such a condition a long time, and all the
while have no light of comfort, as we may see in Job and Heman. They may
even walk in darkness, and have no light of comfort, Isa. 1. 10.

6. Yea, and also be without the hope of a delivery or outgate. Hence
crieth Heman, Psalm lxxxviii. 4-5, "I am counted with them that go down
into the pit, free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave,
whom thou rememberest no more, and they are cut off from thine hand."
Yea, they may be driven to the very border of despair, and conclude that
there is no hope, as the church did, Ezek. xxxvii. 11, "Our bones are
dried, and our hope is lost, and we are cut off for our parts;" and as
Job, chap. vii. 6, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are
spent without hope;" and chap. xix. 10, "He hath destroyed me on every
side, and I am gone: mine hope hath been removed like a tree."

Now, though sometimes, as we see in Job, and in Heman too, a soul may be
under such a sad and sharp dispensation, and yet not brought to question
their state, or to conclude themselves children of wrath, lying still in
black nature, yet it is not so with all who are so exercised; but many
under such a dispensation, may at least be in the dark as to their state
before God; and if they do not positively assert their state to be bad,
yet they do much question if they be in the state of grace, and would be
comforted under all their pressures and afflictions, if they could win
to the least well-grounded apprehension of their interest in Christ.

In such a case as this is, there is ground for a poor soul to make use
of Christ for outgate; and an outgate may be had in God's time, and as
he seeth fit, by a right use-making of and going out to him, who is the
Truth. So, then, the soul that would have its state and condition
cleared up, and a discovery of its being reconciled to God through
Jesus, and in a state of grace, and would make use of Christ as the
Truth, for this end, would,

(1.) Look out to Christ, as a feeling High Priest, faithful and
merciful, who, being like us in all things, except sin, doth sympathise
with, and succour such as are tempted, Heb. ii. 17, 18. And as a Priest,
"that is touched with the feeling of our infirmities," Heb. iv. 15.
Albeit Christ, in the deepest of his darkness, was never made to
question his Sonship, but avouched God to be his God even when he was
forsaken, Psalm xxii. 1. Matt, xxvii. 46. Mark xv. 34. Yet he knew what
it was to be tempted, to question his Sonship, when the devil said unto
him, Matt. iv. 3, "If thou be the Son of God;" and he knows what such a
distress as he himself was into, wrestling with an angry God, hiding
himself and forsaking, will work in a poor sinner; and being a merciful
and sympathising High Priest, he cannot but pity such as are under such
a distemper, and, as a gracious Head, sympathise with them. Now, the
believer would look out to him as such an one, and upon this ground go
to him with confidence and boldness, and lay out their case before him,
that he may help and send relief:

(2.) They would also eye Christ as able to save out of that condition,
and to command light to shine out of darkness; and so, as one "able to
save to the uttermost all that come to God through him," Heb. vii. 25.

(3.) And not only so, but eye him also as given, sent, and commissioned
of the Father, to be a light to such as sit in darkness; even to the
Gentile. Isa. xlii. 6, and xlix. 6. Luke ii. 32. Acts xiii. 47; xxvi.
23. John viii. 12; and this will encourage the poor souls to go out to
him with their darkness, when they see that he is sent as a Light and as
the Truth, to clear up poor souls that walk in darkness and have no
light. When they see that it is his place and office to help them, and
consider that he is true to his trust, and true and faithful in all that
was committed to him, it not only will embolden them to come forward to
him, but it will strengthen their hope, and encourage them to wait on.

(4.) They would stay themselves on him as an all-sufficient helper,
renouncing all other, crying out, that they will have no light but his
light, and that they will seek no where else for light, but wait at his
door, till he, who is the Sun of Righteousness, shall arise in their
soul, and come with healing light in his wings.

(5.) They would by faith roll and cast their darkened souls, their
confused case, their overwhelmed hearts on him, and leave them there;
for he is the only physician; and the blind soul must be put in his
hand, who can take away the film, and cause the scales fall off, and
make light break into the soul and discover unto it its condition.

(6.) It would be useful and very steadable, in such a time of darkness,
for the believer to be frequent in acting direct acts of faith on
Christ; that is, be frequent in going to him as an all-sufficient
Mediator, as the only refuge and shadow for a poor, weary, scorched
soul, Isa. iv. 6. "And a man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind,
and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the
shadow of a great rock in a weary land," Isa. xxxii. 2; "as one who is a
strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow
from the heat," &c. Isa. xxv, 4. When the soul is thus overwhelmed with
clouds, and doubteth of its interest in Christ, it would then put it out
of doubt, by flying to him for refuge from the storm of God's
indignation, and lay hold on him as he is freely offered in the gospel,
and thus renew its grips of him as the offered all-sufficient Mediator,
and frequent direct acts of faith will help at length to a reflex act.
The soul that is daily running to Christ, according to the covenant,
with all its necessities, and laying hold on him as only able to help,
will at length come to see that it hath believed on him, and is made
welcome by him, and accepted through him. So that reiterated acts of
faith on an offered cautioner and salvation, will dispel at length those
clouds of darkness that trouble the soul.

7. Such souls would beware of making their bands stronger, and their
darkness greater, by their folly and unwise carriage; for this cause
they would beware,

(1.) To cry out in despondency of spirit as if there were no hope, and
to conclude peremptorily, that they are cut off, and it is vain to wait
any longer; for this course will but darken them the more, and multiply
the clouds over their head.

(2.) To run away from Christ through unbelief and despair, for that will
make their case yet worse.

(3.) To walk untenderly and not circumspectly; for the more sins appear,
the less light will be had. O but souls would be tender in all their
conversation at that time, and guard against the least sin or appearance
of evil!

(4.) To fret and repine against God, because of that dispensation; for
that will but entangle the soul more, and wreathe the yoke straiter
about its neck, and put itself further out of case to be relieved and to
receive light.

8. Such would do well not to limit the Holy One of Israel, but to wait
with patience till his time come to speak in light to the soul, knowing
that such as wait upon him shall never be ashamed, Isa. xlix. 23,
because he waiteth to be gracious; and therefore blessed are all they
that wait upon him, Isa. xxx. 18.

_Quest._ But what if for all this I get no outgate, but my distress and
darkness rather grow upon my hand? _Ans._ That such a thing may be, I
grant, the Lord thinking it fit. (1.) To exercise their faith,
dependence, patience, hope, and desire more. (2.) And to discover more
unto them their own weakness, faintings, faithfulness. (3.) To shew his
absolute power and sovereignty. (4.) To make his grace and mercy more
conspicuous and remarkable at length. And, (5.) to train them up in a
way of dependence on him in the dark, and of leaning to him when walking
in darkness, yea, and in a way of believing when they think they have no
faith at all, and for other holy ends. Yet the soul would not despond,
for there are several things that may serve to support and bear up the
heart even in that case, as,

1. This is not their case alone, others have been in the like before,
and many have had the like complaints in all ages, as is known to such
as have been acquainted with exercised souls.

2. It may yield peace and comfort to know that they are about duty when
looking to him, and depending upon him, and waiting for his light.

3. The promises made to such as wait for him may support the soul and
yield comfort.

4. The distinct knowledge and uptaking of their condition, though it be
comfortable and refreshing, yet it is not absolutely necessary. A soul
may be a saved soul, though those clouds should continue to its dying
day; and though, as long as they lived, they should never get a clear
discovery of their gracious state, but spend their days in mourning,
complaining, and crying out of darkness.

5. Such a soul should think that it is much that he is kept out of hell
so long; and sure, the thoughts of what he is, and of what he deserveth,
may make him sober, and not to think much, though he reach not so high
as to see his name written in the book of life.

6. They should know that full assurance of hope and of faith is but
rare: and even such as have it do not ordinarily keep it long; so that
it should not much trouble them, if, after all their pains, they cannot
win at it.

7. If they win to any real ground of hope, how small soever, they should
think much of that; for many dear to Christ live long, and never know
what so much is.

8. It is no small matter that they are not sinking in the gulf of
inconsideration, and plagued with an indifferency in these matters, but
are made to value Christ and an interest in him at such a rate.

9. Their going to Christ with all their wants, laying all on him, and
their making that their daily exercise, may keep up their hearts from
fainting, yea, and fill their souls with joy; for that is really the
exercise of faith. And the great and gracious promises are made to such
as believe, and not to such only as know they do believe. I grant such
as know not that they do believe, cannot draw comfort from these
promises; yet it is true that one may, by reflecting on the actings of
his own soul, see and know that really he is going out to Christ,
forsaking himself, casting his burden on him, waiting and depending upon
him; when yet he will not say that he doth believe. And when he seeth
this working of soul towards Christ, he is obliged to believe that he
believeth, and thereupon rejoice in hope of the great promises. And
however the very sight and knowledge of this acting and motion of soul
may give them some comfort, though they shall not take it for faith,
because it is the way of duty, and it is the thing the gospel calleth
for, and because they cannot show an instance of anyone soul that did
so, and perished. But the truth is, the right understanding of the
nature of faith would clear many doubts, and prevent many questions.

I come to speak a little to the last case which I shall handle, which
is,



CHAPTER XVIII.

HOW WE SHALL MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE TRUTH, THAT WE MAY WIN TO RIGHT
AND SUITABLE THOUGHTS OF GOD.


This is a case that much troubleth the people of God,--they cannot get
right and suitable thoughts of God, which they earnestly desire to have,
nor know not how to win at them; and certain it is, he only who is the
Truth, and came out of the bosom of the Father, can help here. Therefore
for our use-making of him for this end, it would be remembered,

1. That the mind of man, through the fall, is nothing but a mass of
ignorance and blindness; that "the understanding is darkened," Eph. iv.
17, 18; "and naturally we are in darkness," 1 John ii. 9, 11; "yea,
under the power of darkness," Col. i. 13; and, which is more, our minds
are naturally filled with prejudice against God, and enmity, through
wickedness naturally residing there, and which the prince of the power
of the air, the spirit which worketh in the children of disobedience,
increaseth and stirreth up.

2. That this evil is not totally taken away, even in the godly, but
helped only in part; for they see and know but in part, 1 Cor. xiii. 13.

3. That hence it cometh to pass, that through the working of corruption,
the soul of a believer can sometimes win to no right thought of God at
all; or at best to some very narrow and unsuitable conceptions of him
and his ways; yea, sometimes, all the thoughts they can get of God are
vain and idle, if not misshapen and blasphemous.

4. That as we are, we cannot see God; "for no man hath seen him," Matt.
xi. 27. John iv. 46; for he is an invisible God, 1 Tim. i. 17. Heb. xi.
27. "He dwelleth in light which no man can approach unto. Him no man
hath seen, nor can see," 1 Tim. vi. 16. 1 John iv. 12.

5. That all that knowledge of God which is saving, is to be found in
Christ, who is the "brightness of his glory, and the express image of
his person," Heb. i. 2; "and the image of the invisible God," Col. i.
15; and is for this end come out from the bosom of the Father, that he
might acquaint us with him, and with all his secrets, John i. 18. Matt.
xi. 27, so far as is needful for us to know. He is God incarnate, that
in him we may see the invisible. Thus "God is manifest in the flesh," 1
Tim. iii. 16; "and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," John i.
14.

6. That therefore if we would see and know God, we must go to Christ,
who is the temple in which God dwelleth and manifesteth his glory; and
in and through him, must we see and conceive of God. The light that we
get of the knowledge of the glory of God, must be in the face of Jesus
Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6; that is, in the manifestations that Christ hath
made of himself, in his natures, offices, ordinances, works,
dispensations of grace, mediate and immediate, &c. And thus doth God,
who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, "cause this light of
the knowledge of his glory shine into our hearts," viz. in the face of
Jesus Christ, that is, in the dispensations of grace in the gospel,
which is the glorious gospel of Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 4, and, as it were,
the face of Jesus Christ; for as by the face a man is best known and
distinguished from others, so Christ is visibly, and discernibly, and
manifestly, seen and known, in and by the gospel dispensations; there
are all the lineaments and draughts of the glory of God which we would
know, lively and clearly to be seen.

So then, if we would make use of Christ for this end, that we may win to
a right sight of God, and suitable conceptions of his glory, we would
consider those things:

1. We would live under the sense and thorough conviction of the
greatness and incomprehensibleness of God, as being every way past
finding out; and also under the conviction of our own darkness and
incapacity to conceive aright of him, even as to what he hath revealed
of himself.

2. We would know, that what the works of creation and providence declare
and preach forth of God, though it be sufficient to make heathens and
others that do not improve the same to a right acknowledging of him,
inexcusable, as Paul teacheth us, Rom. i. 20; yet all that is short of
giving to us that saving knowledge of him, which must be had, and which
is life eternal, John xvii. 2.

3. We would know, that what of God is to be found out by the works of
creation and providence, is more distinctly seen in Christ and in the
gospel. Here is a greater and more glorious discovery of God, and of his
glorious attributes, his justice, power, wisdom, goodness, holiness,
truth, &c. than can be found by the deepest diving naturalist, and most
wise moral observer of Providence, that is not taught out of the gospel.

4. Yea, there is something of God to be seen in Christ, in the gospel,
which can be observed in none of his works of, creation or common
providence; there is the grace of God that bringeth salvation, that is
made to appear only by the gospel, Titus ii. 11; and there is a peculiar
kindness and love of God towards man, which is only discovered by
Christ in the gospel, Titus iii. 4. There is that manifold wisdom of
God, that mystery which was hid from the beginning of the world in God;
that principalities and powers in heavenly places, the greatest and
wisest of naturalists must learn by the church, wherein that is preached
and proclaimed, by the dispensations of the gospel, Eph. iii. 9, 10. His
mercy pardoning poor sinners, justice being satisfied, cannot be cleared
by nature. Nature cannot unfold that mystery of justice and mercy,
concurring to the salvation of a sinner--only the gospel can clear that
riddle.

5. We would remember, that all the beams of that glory which are
necessary and useful for us to know, are, to speak so, contracted in
Christ, and there vailed, to the end that we may more steadily look upon
them. We may go to our Brother, who is flesh of our flesh, and there,
through the vail of his flesh, see and behold what otherwise was
invisible. As we can look to the sun better shining in a pail of water,
than by looking up immediately; so can we behold God and his glory
better in Christ, where there is a thin vail (to speak so) drawn over
that otherwise blinding, yea, killing glory, than by looking to God
without Christ; for, alas! we could not endure one glance of an
immediate ray of divine glory: it would kill us outright.

6. We must then go to Christ, and there see God; for he who seeth him
seeth the Father also, John xiv. 9. Particularly, we must go the face of
Jesus Christ, that is, that whereby he hath made himself known, the
noble contrivance of the glorious gospel, wherein all things are so
carried on, as that God is glorified in his Son, in the salvation of
poor sinners. The whole work of salvation is laid on Christ, and the
Father is glorified in him, who is his Servant and his Chosen, whom he
upholdeth and furnisheth for the work, Isa. xlii. 1,2. He is called the
covenant itself. He is the undertaker in the covenant of redemption and
in the covenant of grace; all is founded on him; all the good things of
it are given out by him; all the grace by which we close with it, and
accept of him according to it, is given by him. Now, in this gospel
contrivance are all the lines of the glorious face of Christ to be
seen; and in that face must we see and discern the glory of God, all the
rays of which are centered in Christ, and there will we get a noble
prospect of that glorious object. So that all such as would make use of
Christ for this end, that they might come to have right and suitable
thoughts and apprehensions of God, must be well acquainted with the
whole draught and frame of the gospel; and so acquainted therewith, as
to see Christ the substance, ground and all of it, and to see him in
every part of it.

7. Whatever we know or learn of God by his works of creation and
providence, in the world or about ourselves, we would bring it in here
that it may receive a new tincture and a deeper impression. That is
done, when we find and learn something of Christ there, and are brought
nearer Christ thereby, and made thereby to discover something more of
the glory of God in the face of Christ; or are made to understand better
something of the revelation that is made of God in the gospel, or moved
thereby to improve it better.

8. In all this matter, we must not go without our guide, lest we wander
in this wilderness, and it prove a labyrinth to us. We must take Christ
with us all along; he must teach us to understand his own face, and to
read the glorious characters of that excellent glory which is to be seen
in his face. He must be our interpreter, and teach us how to read this
book, and how to understand what is written therein; he must give the
discerning eye, and the understanding heart; even the spirit of wisdom
and understanding, to take up the mysteries of God.

9. And for this cause, we should by faith lay hold upon the promises of
the Spirit, whereby we may be made spiritual, and have our
understandings enlightened more and more, to understand the mysterious
characters of divine majesty and glory.

10. In all this exercise we should walk with fear, and carry with us
impressions of the dreadful majesty and glory of God, that we may
tremble and fear, and stand in awe, and read what we read of this glory
of God in the face of Jesus Christ, this glorious Bible, with reverence
and godly fear. And thus we may be helped to win to right and suitable
thoughts of God; yet withal we should, for


CAUTIONS,

Consider a few things further; as,

1. That we must not think to "search out the Almighty unto perfection,"
Job xi. 7.

2. Nor must we think to get any one point of God known and understood
perfectly; corruption will mix in itself, do our best; and our
shortcomings will not easily be reckoned up.

3. We must beware of carnal curiosity, and of unlawful diving into this
depth, lest we drown.

4. We should not dream of a state here, wherein we will not need Christ
for this end. Yea, I suppose, in glory, he will be of use to us, as to
the seeing of God; for even there, as he is to-day, so shall he for ever
abide, God and man in two distinct natures and one person, and that
cannot be for nought; and as God will be still God invisible and
unsearchable, so we, though glorified, will remain finite creatures, and
therefore will stand in need of Christ, that in his glorious face we may
see the invisible. He must be our _lumen gloriae_.

5. We should think it no small matter to have the impressions of this
sight upon our hearts, that we cannot see him; and that we, in this
state of sin, cannot get right and suitable apprehensions of him. I say,
the impression of this on our spirits, that is, such a sight of
impossibility to get him seen aright, as will keep the heart in awe, and
cause us walk before him in fear and reverence, and to humble ourselves
in the dust, and to tremble whenever we make mention of his name, or
begin to meditate on him, knowing how great an one he is, and how
dangerous it is to think amiss of him, and how difficult to get a right
thought of him.



CHAPTER XIX.

"AND THE LIFE." HOW CHRIST IS THE LIFE.


This, as the former, being spoken indefinitely, may be universally
taken, as relating both to such as are yet in the state of nature, and
to such as are in the state of grace, and so may be considered in
reference to both, and ground three points of truth, both in reference
to the one, and in reference to the other; to wit, 1. That our case is
such as we stand in need of his help, as being the Life. 2. That no
other way but by him, can we get that supply of life, which we stand in
need of, for he only is the Life, excluding all other. 3. That this help
is to be had in him fully and completely, for not only is he able to
quicken, but he is called the Life; so that the help which he giveth is
full, excellent, and complete.

Looking upon the words in reference to such as are in nature, they point
out those three truths to us:

I. That all of us by nature are dead, standing in need of quickening and
of life; for this is presupposed, while he is said to be the Life, and
that both legally and really: Legally, being under the sentence of
death, for Adam's transgression, Rom. v. 15, and for that original
corruption of heart we have; and really, the sentence of the law being
in part executed, and that both as to the body and as to the soul. As to
the body, it is now subject to death, and all the forerunners thereof,
such as weakness, pains, sickness, fears, torment, trouble, weariness,
yea, and in hazard of hell-fire, and the torments of the second death
for ever. As to the soul, it also is many ways dead; but first in a way
that is purely penal, and next in a way that is also sinful; and both
ways, as to what is present, and as to what is future. For as to that
which is penal and present, it is, (1.) separated from God and his
favour, Gen. iii. 8, 10, 24; (2.) is under his curse and wrath, whence
it cometh to pass, that by nature we are children of wrath, Eph. ii. 2,
5; servants of Satan, 2 Tim. ii. 26; the consequence of which is sad
and heavy, for hence it is that we cannot please God, do what we will.
Till we be brought out of that state, our ordinary and civil actions,
even ploughing the ground, is sin, Prov. xxi. 4; yea, our religious
actions, whether natural or instituted, are abomination; even our
sacrifices, Prov. xv. 8; xxi. 27; and prayers, Prov. xxviii. 9. Psalm x.
7; yea, and all our thoughts and purposes, Prov. xv. 26; and likewise
all our ways, Prov. xv. 9. As to what is penal and future, it is
obnoxious to that everlasting excommunication from the presence of the
Lord, and from the glory of his power, 2 Thess. i. 8, 9; and to the
torments of hell for ever, Mark ix. 44, 46, 48. Luke xvi. As to what is
not only penal but also sinful, the soul here is under the stroke of
darkness in the understanding, perverseness and rebelliousness in the
will, irregularity and disorder in the affections, whereby the soul is
unfit for any thing that is good, Rom. iii. 10-20. Eph. ii. 1, 2, 3.
Rom. v. 6; viii. 7, 8; whence proceedeth all our actual transgressions,
James i. 14, 15. And moreover sometimes the soul is given up to a
reprobate mind, Rom. i. 28; to strong delusion, 2 Thess. ii. 2; to
hardness of heart, Rom. ii. 5; horror of conscience, Isa. xxxiii. 14; to
vile affections, Rom. i. 26, and the like spiritual plagues, which,
though the Lord inflict on some only, yet all are obnoxious to the same
by nature, and can expect no less, if the Lord should enter with them
into judgment. And finally, as to what is future of this kind, they are,
being fuel for Tophet, obnoxious to that malignant, sinful, blasphemous,
and desperate rebellion against God, in hell for evermore!

O how lamentable, upon this consideration, must the condition of such
be, as are yet in the state of nature! Oh, if it were but seen and felt!
But, alas! there is this addition to all, that people know not this;
they consider it not, they believe it not, they feel it not, they see it
not; and hence it cometh to pass, that,

_First_. They cannot bewail and lament their condition, nor be humbled
therefor.

_Secondly_. They cannot, and will not seek after a remedy; for the whole
will not trouble themselves to seek after a physician.

And sure upon this account, their case calleth for pity and compassion
from all that know what a dreadful thing it is to be in such a
condition, and should stir up all to pray for them, and to do all they
can to help them out of that state of sin and misery, which is dreadful
to think upon.

Should not the thoughts and consideration of this put us all to try and
search, if we be yet translated from death to life, and delivered out of
that dreadful and terrible state, and made partakers of the first
resurrection. It not being my purpose to handle this point at large, I
shall not here insist in giving marks, whereby this may be known, and
which are obvious in Paul's Epistles, and to be found handled at large
in several practical pieces, chiefly in Mr. Guthrie's Great Interest. I
shall only desire every one to consider and examine,

1. Whether or not the voice of Christ, which quickeneth the dead, hath
been heard and welcomed in their soul. This is effectual calling.

2. Whether or not there be a thorough change wrought in their soul, a
change in the whole man, so as all things are become new. 2 Cor. v. 17.

3. Whether or not there be a principle of life within? and they be led
by the Spirit.

4. Whether or not there be a living to the glory of the Lord Redeemer.

And when by an impartial trial, a discovery is made of the badness of
our condition, should we not be alarmed to look about us, and to labour
by all means for an outgate? Considering, (1.) How doleful and
lamentable this condition is. (2.) How sad and dreadful the consequences
of it are. (3.) How happy a thing it is to be delivered from this
miserable and sinful condition. And, (4.) How there is a possibility of
outgate.

_Finally_. It may break a heart of stone to think, how people that are
in such a condition are so unwilling to come out of it: For,

1. How unwilling are they once to suspect their condition, or to suppose
that it may be bad, and that they may be yet unconverted?

2. How unwilling are they, to sit down seriously to try and examine the
matter, and to lay their case to the touch-stone of the word?

3. Yea, how unwilling are they to hear any thing that may tend to awaken
them, or to discover unto them the deadness of their condition?

4. How ready to stifle challenges of conscience, or any common motion of
the Spirit, which tendeth to alarm their soul?

5. How great enemies are they to such ordinances as serve to awaken
sleeping consciences?

6. And how do they hate such ministers as preach such doctrine as may
serve to rouse them up, and set them a-work about their own salvation?

II. We learn hence, that without Christ there is no imaginary way of
delivery out of this natural state of death. "No other name is given
under heaven whereby we can be saved," Acts iv. 12; and angels can make
no help here, nor can one of us deliver another; the redemption of the
soul is more precious than so, Psalm xlix. 7, 8. Nor is there any thing
we can do for ourselves that will avail here; all our prayers, tears,
whippings, fastings, vows, alms-deeds, purposes, promises, resolutions,
abstinence from some evils, outward amendments, good morality and
civility, outward religiousness, yea, and if it were possible, our
keeping of the whole law, will not help us out of this pit. And we may
weary ourselves in such exercises in vain; for they will prove but
bodily exercises that profit little. And when in this way we have spent
all our time, parts, spirits, and labour, we shall at length see and
say, that we have spent our money for that which is not bread.

This should put all of us to try what it is which we lean to for life;
and what it is, the consideration whereof giveth us peace and quietness
when the thoughts of death, judgment, hell, and the wrath of God come
upon us and trouble us: For if it be any thing beside Christ that our
soul leaneth to, and that we are comforted by, and found all our hopes
upon, we will meet with a lamentable (oh! for ever lamentable!)
disappointment. Be sure then, that our hearts renounce all other ways
and means of outgate out of this death, besides Jesus, the resurrection
and the life, else it will not be well with us.

III. We see here, that delivery out of this natural state of death is
only had by Christ: For he alone is the life, and the life that is in
him is suitable and excellent. Hence he is called "the bread of life,"
John vi. 35, 48. "The resurrection and the life," John xi. 25. "The
water of life," Rev. xxi. 6, and xxii. 17. "The tree of life," Rev.
xxii. 2, 14. "The prince of life," Acts iii. 15. "Our life," Col. iii.
4. "The word of life, and life itself," 1 John i. 1, 2.

And as he is a suitable and excellent life, so is he an all-sufficient
and perfect life, able every way to help us and to deliver us from all
the parts of our death. For,

1. He delivereth from the sentence of the law, Rom. v. 17, 18,
undergoing the curse of the law, and becoming a curse for us, 2 Cor. v.
21.

2. He taketh away the curse and sting of all temporal plagues, yea, and
of death itself, causing all to work together for good to such as love
him, Rom. viii. 28. He hath killed him that had the power of death, that
is, the devil, Heb. ii. 14; and through him the sting of death, which is
sin, is taken away, 1 Cor. xv. 56, 57.

3. He reconcileth to God, taking away that distance and enmity, 2 Cor.
v. 20; and so he is our peace and peacemaker, purchasing access to us to
the Father, Eph. ii. 14, 16; iii. 12.

4. He also delivereth from the power of sin and corruption, Rom. vii.
24.

5. And from all those spiritual strokes; such as blindness, hardness of
heart, &c. For he is our light; and hath procured a new heart for us,
even a heart of flesh.

6. So delivereth he from hell fire, having satisfied justice, and having
brought life and immortality to light; and he giveth life eternal, as we
see, Rev. ii. 3.

Oh! it is sad, that Christ is so little made use of, and that so many
will forsake the fountain of living waters, and dig to themselves broken
cisterns that can hold no water; and slight, despise, and undervalue the
gospel of Christ, which bringeth life and immortality to light.

Oh! if the consideration of this could move such as never found any
change in themselves, to run to, and make use of Jesus Christ for life;
and would for this end,

(1.) Cry to him, that he would make them sensible of their deadness, and
waken them out of their deep sleep.

(2.) Cry to him, to set them a-work to renounce all other help beside
his, as being utterly unable to quicken and put life in them.

(3.) Cry to him, that he would draw and determine their souls to a
closing with him by faith alone, to a hearing of his voice, to an
obeying of his call, to a following of his direction, to a giving up of
themselves to him, leaning to him, and waiting for all from him alone:
in a word, to take him for their life in all points, and to lean to him
for life, and to expect it from him, through faith in the promises of
the gospel.

_Next._ This being spoken to the disciples, whom we suppose to have been
believers, it will give us ground to speak of it, in reference to
believers, and so yield three points of truth, which we shall briefly
touch, and then come to speak of use-making of Christ as the Life, in
some particular cases.

_First._ It is here clearly presupposed, that even believers have need
of Christ to be life unto them; and so have their fits of deadness. If
it were not so, why would Christ have said to believers, that he was
life? And daily experience doth abundantly confirm it. For,

1. They are oft so weak and unable to resist temptation, or to go about
any commanded duty, as if they were quite dead.

2. They are oft so borne down with discouragement, because of the
strength of opposition which they meet with on all hands; and because of
the manifold disappointments which they meet with, that they have
neither heart nor hand; and they faint and set up in the ways of the
Lord; and cannot go through difficulties, but oftentimes lie by.

3. Through daily fighting, and seeing no victory, they become weary and
faint-hearted; so that they lie by as dead, Isa. xl. 29.

4. They oft fall sick and decay, and have need of restoration and
quickening.

5. The want of the sense of God's favour, and of the comforts of the
Holy Ghost, maketh them to dwine and droop, and look out as dead.

6. While under soul desertions upon one account or other, they look upon
themselves as free among the dead, that is, as dead men, of the society
of the dead, with Heman, Psalm lxxxviii.

7. Yea, many times they are as dead men, led captive in chains of
unbelief and corruptions, as we see David was, when his heart panted,
and his strength failed him, and the light of his eyes were gone from
him, Psalm xxxviii. 10.

8. Many times the frequent changes, and ups and downs they meet with,
take all courage and heart from them, that they become like men tossed
at sea, so as they have no more strength.

And many such things befall them, which make them look as dead, and to
stand in need of quickening, reviving and strengthening cordials from
him who is the life. And thus the Lord thinketh good to dispense with
his own people,

(1.) That they may be kept humble, and know themselves to be indigent
creatures, needing influences of life daily.

(2.) That they may have many errands to him who is the life, and have
much to do with him, and depend upon him continually.

(3.) That he may show himself wonderful, in and about them, giving proof
of his skill in quickening the dead, and in bringing such through unto
everlasting life, who were daily, as it were, giving up the ghost, and
at the point of death.

(4.) That heaven may be heaven; that is, a place "where the weary are at
rest," Job iii. 17; and the troubled rest, 2 Thes. i. 7; and where the
inhabitants shall not say they are sick, Isa. xxxiii. 24.

(5.) That they may be taught more the life of faith and of dependence on
him, and trained up in that way.

(6.) That he may be owned, acknowledged, and submitted unto as a
sovereign God, doing what he will in heaven and in earth.

For all this, there is no cause that any should take up any prejudice
at Christianity: for, for all this their life is sure, and the outgate
is sure and safe. Nor would they think it strange, to see believers oft
mourning and drooping, seeing their case will oft fall for new supplies
of life. Their fits are not known to every one; nor doth every one know
what lieth sometimes at their heart; nor would they think it such an
easy matter to win to heaven as they imagine; and so deceive themselves.
The righteous are saved through many deaths.

And as for believers, they would not think it strange to meet with such
fits of deadness; nor thence conclude, that all their former work was
but delusion, and that they are still in the state of nature. But rather
observe the wisdom, faithfulness, and power of God in bringing their
broken ship through so much broken water, yea, and shipwrecks; and his
goodness in ordering matters so as they shall be kept humble, watchful,
diligent and constant in dependence upon him who is and must be their
life, first and last. And hence learn a necessity of living always near
to Christ, and depending constantly upon him by faith; for he being
their life, they cannot be without him, but they must die and decay.

_Second._ We hence learn, that under all these fits of deadness to which
his people are subject, nothing without Christ will help: Not,

1. All their pains in and about ordinary means, prayer, reading,
hearing, meditation, conference, &c. They will all cry out, that help is
not in them: for he is the life.

2. Nor extraordinary duties, such as fasting and prayer, and
vows,--these will never revive and quicken a drooping or fainting sickly
soul: for they are not Christ, nor the life.

3. Nor will a stout courageous spirit and resolution of heart avail. If
he who is the Life, breathe not, all that will melt away and evanish.

4. Nor will the stock of habitual grace which remaineth in the soul, be
sufficient to quicken and revive the sick soul, if the Life breathe not
on these habits; and if new influences of life and strength flow not in
upon the soul, and new rays come not down from this Sun of
Righteousness to warm the frozen soul, the habits will lie by as dead.

5. Far less will their great gifts and endowments help them out of that
dead condition; all their light and knowledge, without the influences of
this Life, will prove weak and insufficient for this end and purpose.

6. Nor will sound, pure and lively-like ordinances work out this effect;
for till he look down, all these ordinances may prove dead and deadening
to them.

It were good if believers were living under the conviction of this
daily, and by their practice and carriage declaring if they believe,
that Christ only is the Life, and that they must live in him, and be
quickened and revived through him alone.

_Third_. We see hence, that Christ is the Life, that is, one that
sufficiently, yea, and abundantly can help the believer while under
those fits of deadness which have been mentioned, and the like. There is
in him a rich supply of things that tend to revive, encourage,
strengthen and enliven a soul under spiritual deadness and fainting.
Therefore is he called the Life; as having in him all that which is
necessary for and answerable to souls under spiritual sicknesses,
distempers, desertions, fainting and swooning fits, &c., for with him
"is the fountain of life," Psalm xxxvi. 9; "and he it is that upholdeth
the soul in life," Psalm lxvi. 9; "and can command the blessing, even
life for ever more," Psalm cxxxiii. 3.

For further clearing of this, we would consider those things,

1. That he is God, equal with the Father in power and glory, and thereby
"hath life in himself," John v. 26; and can "quicken whom he will," ver.
21. By this he proveth his own Godhead and equality with the Father; so,
John i. 4, it is said, "that in him was life," and that life was the
light of men, whereby also his Godhead is confirmed. This should be
firmly believed, and rooted in our hearts, as being the ground of all
our hope, comfort, and life: For, were it not so, that our Mediator were
the true God, all our hopes were gone, our comforts could not be long
lived, and our life were extinct.

2. As Mediator God-man, he is fully and thoroughly furnished to quicken
and enliven his members and followers, first and last; and all along
their life must be hid with Christ in God; "for in him dwelleth the
Fulness of the Godhead bodily," Col. ii. 9; as Mediator, he is called "a
tree of life," Prov. iii. 18; quickening and enlivening all that feed
upon him; and "the bread of life," John vi. 35, 48. Yea, because of
power and authority to command life to the dead soul, he is called "the
Prince of life," Acts iii. 15; and as a living, quickening stone, he
giveth life to all that are built upon him, 1 Pet. ii. 4. Yea, as being
fully fitted and furnished for this work, he calleth himself "the
resurrection and the life," John xi. 25. This should be riveted in our
hearts, as a comfortable and encouraging truth.

3. Of this stock of life and quickening and reviving grace which he hath
got, and is furnished withal as Mediator and Redeemer of his people, he
is communicative,--"of his fulness do we receive, and grace for grace,"
John i. 16. He got it that he might give it out, and that from him as a
head it might flow unto his members, and therefore he is the bread that
came down from heaven, and giveth life to the world, John vi. 35. Yea,
he giveth eternal life to all his sheep, John x. 28; and he is come for
this end, that his sheep might have life, John x. 10. Therefore hath he
taken on such relations, as may give ground of confirmation of this, as
of a head, of a stock or root, and the like. This consideration is
strengthening and reviving.

4. He communicateth of this stock of life, and of reviving strength,
which he hath most sweetly and on most easy terms. So that,

(1.) Such as seek him shall find life by him, Psalm lxix. 32.

(2.) Yea, such as know him shall not miss life, John xvii. 3. 1 John v.
20.

(3.) If we will believe on him and rest upon him, we have life first and
last, John iii. 15, 16, 36; vi. 40, 47. 1 Tim. i. 16.

(4.) If we will come to him, John v. 40, and cast our dead soul upon
him, we shall live.

(5.) If we will hear his voice, Isa. lv. 3, and receive his
instructions, we shall live; for they are the instructions of life.

(6.) Nay, if the soul be so dead, that it can neither walk nor hear, if
it can but look to him, he will give life, Isa. xlv. 22.

(7.) And if the soul be so weak, that it cannot look, nor lift up its
eyes; yet if it be willing, he will come with life. Rev. xxii. 17.

Oh, if this were believed!

5. As he is communicative of that life which he hath gotten as head, and
that upon easy terms; so he giveth out of that life liberally, largely,
abundantly, yea, more abundantly, John x. 10. The water of life which he
giveth, is "a well of water springing up to everlasting life," John iv.
14. Therefore he alloweth his friends to drink abundantly, Cant. v. 1.

6. Yet it would be remembered, that he is Lord and master thereof, and
Prince of this life, and so may dispense it and give it out, in what
measure he seeth fit; and he is wise to measure out best for his own
glory, and to their advantage.

7. All this life is sure in him,--none of his shall be disappointed
thereof. His offices, which he hath taken on; and his commission, which
he hath of the Father, abundantly clear this; and love to his, will not
suffer him to keep up any thing that is for their advantage. He is
faithful in his house as a son, and will do all that was committed unto
him to do. The whole transaction of the covenant of redemption, and
suretyship, and all the promises of the new covenant of grace, confirm
this to be a sure truth; so that they that have him have life, 1 John v.
12. Prov. viii. 35.

8. Yea, all that is in Christ contributeth to this life and quickening.
His words and doctrine are the words of eternal life, John vi. 63, 68.
Phil. ii. 16. His works and ways are the ways of life, Acts ii. 28. His
natures, offices, sufferings, actings, all he did as Mediator, concur to
the quickening and enlivening of a poor dead soul.

9. This fulness of life which he hath, is fully suited to the believer's
condition, in all points, as we shall hear.

10. This life is eminently and transcendently in him, and exclusively
of all others. It is in him, and in him alone; and it is in him in a
most excellent manner: So that he is the life, in the abstract; not only
a living head, and an enlivening head; but life itself, the life, the
"resurrection and the life."



CHAPTER XX.

SOME GENERAL USES.


Before we come to speak of some particular cases of deadness, wherein
believers are to make use of Christ as the Life, we shall first propose
some useful consequences and deductions from what hath been spoken of
this life; and,

I. The faith of those things, which have been mentioned, would be of
great use and advantage to believers; and therefore they should study to
have the faith of this truth fixed on their hearts, and a deep
impression thereof on their spirits, to the end, that,

1. Be their case and condition what it will, they might be kept from
despair, and despondency of spirit, from giving over their case as
hopeless; and from looking upon themselves as irremediably gone. The
faith of Christ being life, and the life, would keep up the soul in
hope, and cause it say,--how dead soever my case be, yet life can help
me, and he who is the resurrection and the life, can recover me.

2. Yea, be their case and condition what it will, they would have here
some ground of encouragement, to go to him with their dead soul, and to
look to him for help, seeing he is the Life, as Mediator, to the end he
might enliven and quicken his dead, fainting, swooning members, and to
recover them from their deadness.

3. They might be freed from many scruples and objections that scar and
discourage them. This one truth believed would clear up the way so, as
that such things, as would have been impediments and objections before,
shall evanish, and be rolled out of the way now: Such as, the objections
taken from their own worthlessness, their long continuance in that dead
condition, and the like.

4. They might hereby likewise be freed from that dreadful plague and
evil of jealousy, whereby the soul is oft kept back from coming to
Christ: For they fear he will not make them welcome; they doubt of his
love and tenderness, and question his pity and compassion; yea, their
jealousy maketh them to doubt of his faithfulness; so that the faith of
this truth would cure this jealousy, and deliver the soul therefrom, and
open a way for the soul to come forward with boldness and confidence.

5. They might also be hereby helped to wait with patience, and to be
still and quiet under the Lord's various dispensations; so as they would
not fret nor repine against him, knowing that he would prove himself to
be Life, even the Life, in his own good time; so that the soul would
patiently wait at his door, till he were pleased to look out, and with
his look convey life into their dead soul.

6. They might be preserved hereby from looking out to or expecting any
help from any other quarter: knowing that he alone is the Life; and so
that help can no where else be had. The faith of this truth would guard
from any sinistrous ways which the soul, in a time of strait, is ready
to run to for relief: for hereby would it see that neither instruments
nor means, nor outward administrations, nor any thing of that kind, can
quicken their dead soul; and that he, and he alone must breathe in life
into them, as at first, so now again.

II. May we not see and observe here great matter of admiration at the
goodness and rich bounty of God towards his people, who hath found out
and condescended upon such a sure, safe, and satisfying way, whereby he
becometh all things to his people which they stand in need of; and that
notwithstanding,

1. That we are most unworthy of any such dispensation of grace at his
hands.

2. That we too oft are too desirous of other guests in our hearts
beside him: O how much corruption, sin and death lodge within our souls!
and how more desirous are we ofttimes of death than of life!

3. That we little improve the noble advantages for life which we have
granted unto us; yea, many a time we abuse them; and this he did
foresee, and yet notwithstanding would condescend unto us.

4. That we do little express our thankfulness for such mercies.

But not for our sakes hath he done this, but for his own name's sake:
For noble and holy ends hath he resolved on this course; as,

(1.) That he might be "all in all," Col. iii. 11, and they nothing; that
he alone might fill all in all, Eph. i. ult., and they be empty and
nothing without him.

(2.) That he might wear the glory of all; "for of him, and through him,
and to him are all things," Rom. xi. 36, and that no man might share
therein.

(3.) That man might be his everlasting debtor, and cast down, in
testimony thereof, his crown at his feet, "who sitteth on the throne,"
as those did, Rev. iv. 10, and might cry out with these same elders,
ver. 11, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and
power," &c.; and with those, chap. v. 12, "Worthy is the Lamb that was
slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and
honour, and blessing."

(4.) That man's mouth might be stopped for ever, and all boasting
excluded; for man is a proud creature, and ready to boast of that which
is nothing and vanity. Now God hath chosen this noble way of the
covenant of grace, that no man might boast any more. Where is boasting
then? It is excluded. By what law? By the law of works? no, but by the
law of faith, saith the apostle, Rom. iii. 24.

(5.) That all might be sure to the poor chosen believer. The Lord will
not have the stock of life, any longer to be in a man's own hand: for
even Adam, in the state of innocency, could not use it well, but made
shipwreck thereof, and turned a bankrupt; much more would man now do so,
in this state of sin, in which he lieth at present, therefore hath God,
out of love and tenderness to his chosen ones, put all their stock in
the hand of Christ, who is better able to manage it, to God's glory and
man's advantage, being faithful in all things, and a trusty servant,
"having the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him bodily." "Therefore,"
saith the apostle, Rom. iv. 16. "it is of faith, that it might be by
grace; to the end, the promises might be sure to all the seed."

(6.) That believers might have strong consolation, notwithstanding of
all the opposition of enemies without and within, when they see that now
their "life is hid with Christ in God," Col. iii. 3, and that their life
is in their head, they will not fear so much devils and men without, nor
their own dead and corrupt hearts within.

III. How inexcusable must all such be,

1. Who will not lay hold on this life, on Jesus who is the Life, sure
life, yea, everlasting life.

2. Who seek life any other way, than by and through him who is the Life.

3. Who oppose this way of life, and not only reject the offers of it,
but prove enemies to it, and to all that carry it or preach it.

IV. Here is strong encouragement to all that would be at heaven, to
enter into this gospel, which is a way of life; such need not fear that
their salvation shall not be advanced; let Satan and all their
adversaries do what they can, all that enter into this way shall live.
For the way itself is life, and nothing but life. So that here all
objections are obviated; life can answer all. If the believer fear, that
he shall never win through difficulties, he shall die by the way; or by
fainting, succumbing and swooning, dishonour the profession, and at
length fall off and apostatize, or despair and give over all hope; here
is that which may answer and obviate all, "I am the life;" and who can
perish in the way which is the way of life, an enlivening way, yea, the
way which is life itself; yea, the life in a singular and eminent
manner?

V. Here is ground of reproof even of believers, who, though they have
come to Christ, yet do not live in him as they ought, do not walk in
him with that liveliness and activity which is called for; but,

1. Lean too much to their own understanding, gifts or graces; and think
thereby to ride out storms, and to wide through all difficulties, while
as, if he who is the Life do not breathe upon us, all that will fail us
in the day of trial. Our understanding and parts or gifts may dry up,
and our graces may wither and decay, and go backward.

2. Rest too much on duties; when they should in them go to him who is
the Life. For only in him is life to be had; and him should they seek to
in the ordinances, that they might have life from him in those outward
duties; and this appeareth in their way of going about duties, without
that dependence on him, and single eyeing of him, which is called for.
As also by their freting and repining, when duties do not their
business, as if life lay all in duties; and concluding all will be
right, because they get duties somewhat tolerably performed; and, on the
contrary, desponding, when duties fall heavy on them, and they find
themselves indisposed for duty. All which clearly evinceth, that they
lay too much weight on duties; while as it would be otherwise with them,
if they were purely depending on Christ, and looking for all from him.

3. Despond too soon, because they get not help and relief instantly; or
because they are not preserved from every degree of fainting.

4. Neglect to make use of him, and to come to him with all their wants,
failings and necessities, as they ought; or come not with that freedom
and boldness which the gospel grounds allow.

VI. This preacheth out the woful misery of such as are strangers to
Christ. For being strangers to the Life, they have no life, they are
dead, and death is engraven on all they do; even though,

1. They should be very diligent in external duties, yea, and outstrip
many true believers; as the Pharisees had their fasts twice a-week, Luke
xviii.

2. They should be eminently gifted, able to instruct others, and to
speak of the mysteries of the gospel, to purpose and to edification.
For such gifts of knowledge and utterance may be, where the lively
operations of the grace of Christ are not, and consequently where Christ
is not, as the Life.

3. They should seem eminent in all their outward carriage, and seem to
carry most christianly in all their walk, and appear most devout in the
matter of worship.

4. And they should have something more than ordinary; even taste of the
heavenly gift, and be made partakers of extraordinary gifts of the Holy
Ghost; yea, and taste the good word of God, and the powers of the world
to come, Heb. vi. 4, 5.

VII. This discovereth the noble advantage of such as have accepted of
Christ for their life. Their condition is happy, sure, desirable, and
thriving; for Christ is theirs, and life is theirs; because Christ, who
is the Life, is theirs.

_Obj._ 1. But some wicked persons may say, We see not that happy and
advantageous condition of such as go for believers; for we observe them
to be as little lively ofttimes as others, and as unfit for duties; yea,
and sometimes as much subject to sin and corruption as others.

_Ans._ 1. However it be with them, either in thine eyes, or possibly in
their own sometimes, yet thou mayest hold thy peace; for in their worst
condition, they would not exchange with thee for a world; in their
deadest-like condition, they are not void of all life, as thou art,
notwithstanding all thy motions, and seeming activeness in duty; because
all thy motion in and about duty is but like the moving of children's
puppets, caused by external motives, such as a name, applause, peace
from a natural conscience, or the like; and not from any inward
principle of grace and life.

2. Howbeit they sometimes seem to be dead, yet they are not always so;
life doth really work sometimes in them; whereas there was never any
true or kindly motion of life in thee.

3. There may be more life in them, yea, life in motion, when they seem
to be overcome with some lusts or corruption, yea, when really they are
overcome, than beholders that are strangers to the heart can observe.
For when temptation is violent, as having the advantage of the time and
place, of the constitution of the body, and the like, it argueth no
small degree of life, and of life in motion, to make some resistance and
opposition thereunto, though at length he should be overcome thereby.
And this opposition and resistance, flowing from a principle of grace,
speaketh out life, though corruption, having the advantage, should at
that time overpower the motion of life, and carry the man away.

4. If it be not otherwise with believers than is objected, they may
blame themselves, for not improving Christ better for life.

_Object._ But some who are true believers will object the same, and cry
out of themselves as dead; and say, They find not that liveliness and
activity in their souls, that will evidence Christ, the Life, dwelling
and working in them.

_Ans._ It may be they prejudge themselves of that lively frame they
might enjoy, and so wrong themselves:

1. In not exercising faith on Christ, and drawing life from him and
through him. The life which they live should be by faith, Gal. ii. 20.
How then can such as do not eat become fat? by faith we feed on Christ.

2. In not watching, but giving way to security, and thereby encouraging
and strengthening the adversary, as we see in David; when they stand not
on their watch-tower, they invite Satan to set on; and he is vigilant
enough, and knoweth how to take his advantage, and to improve his
opportunity.

3. In giving way to laziness and not stirring up themselves, as we see
in the bride, Cant. iii. 1; v. 3; when they stir not up the grace of God
which is in them, how can they be lively? If grace be laid by, it will
contract rust. The best way to keep grace lively, is to keep it in
exercise, how little soever it be.

4. By their rashness, walking without fear, as is to be observed in
Peter, when he slipped so foully. When through their want of
circumspection, they precipitate themselves into danger, and cast
themselves among their enemies' hands, is it any wonder, that it go not
with them as they would; and that they provoke God to leave them to
themselves; that they may know what they are, and learn afterwards not
to tempt the Lord, and to walk more circumspectly?

5. By leaning too much to their attainments, and not looking out for new
influences of grace and life. Hereby they provoke God to let them know
to their expense, that for as great a length as they are come, they must
live by faith, and be quickened by new influences from the Spirit of
life.

6. So they may wrong themselves through their ignorance of Christ, and
of the way of making use of him; and if they, through unacquaintedness
with Christ and the right way of improving the fulness that is in him,
miss the fruit and advantage which otherwise they might have, they can
only blame themselves.

7. They may also prejudge themselves by their self-love, self-esteem,
self-seeking, self-pleasing, &c., which piece and piece will draw them
off Christ, and cause them forget the way of sucking life from him, who
is the fountain of life.

8. When they give way to small sins, they open a door to greater; and
they lose thereby their tenderness, and so provoke the Lord to withdraw;
and this is another way, whereby they prejudge themselves of that
benefit of liveliness, which they might otherwise have.

9. So also by worldly-mindedness, which alienateth their mind from God;
and,

10. By their impatience, and fretting, and repining against God, and his
wise dispensations, they also prejudge and wrong themselves; for while
they are in that mood, they cannot with due composedness of Spirit, go
to Christ, and draw life from him through faith.

_Obj._ 3. But is there not even some of those who are most tender, that
complain of their deadness and shortcomings?

_Ans._ 1. It may be that they complain without cause; and that they have
more cause of rejoicing, and of blessing the Lord for what he hath done
to them, than of complaining.

2. Their complaining will not prove the want of life, but rather the
contrary. For when they complain most, they must be most sensible if
their complaints be real, and not merely for a fashion; and sense is a
manifest evidence of life.

3. It would be remembered, that the Lord can make their failings and
shortcomings contribute to the furthering of their life, as we see it
did in Peter.

4. It would also be remembered, that Christ doth not distribute and give
out of this life to all his members and followers, in a like measure;
but to some more, and to others less, according as he seeth it meet and
convenient, both for his own glory and their good, He hath more service
for some than for others; and some he will employ in greater and more
difficult work, which will call for more life; and others he will employ
in common work, which will not call for such an eminent degree of life.

5. And upon the same account, he may think it good to give to the same
person a larger measure of grace at one time than at another.

6. And that for wise reasons and noble ends; as,

(1.) That all may see how absolute he is in his dispensations; a
sovereign that doth with his own what he will, and will not give an
account of any of his ways or communications to us.

(2.) That we may learn submission, and quietly to stoop before him,
whatever measure he be pleased to dispense towards us.

(3.) That we may learn to depend upon him more closely all along; in all
our ways to acknowledge him.

(4.) That we may learn to exercise patience, which must have its perfect
work, in waiting upon him as a great king. This is his glory, and it is
the testifying of our homage to him.

(5.) He will train us up so as to be well contented and satisfied, if he
bring us home at length, though not with such a convoy of the graces of
his Spirit as we would wish.

(6.) That we may see and read our daily obligation to Christ our life,
and the daily need we have of his keeping our life in, by fresh gales of
his Spirit, and new heavenly influences.

(7.) And that getting new proofs of his kindness and faithfulness, we
may give him new songs of praise daily, and so express our thankfulness
to him, which will tend to set forth his glory.

VIII. This may point out unto believers, several duties to which they
are called. We shall name some few of many; as,

1. That they should rejoice, and be comforted in the thoughts of this,
that they have such a complete Mediator, one that is thoroughly
furnished, and made all things for them; not only the Way, and the
Truth, but the Life also.

2. The thoughts of this should also stir up the wondering at the wisdom,
graciousness, and goodness of God; and to thankfulness for providing
such an all-sufficient way for them.

3. This should also encourage them under all temptations, faintings,
backsets, and fits of deadness that they fall into, that there is one
who is the Life; and that he whom their soul hath chosen is the Life,
and so fully able to quicken and enliven them.

4. This should teach them humility, and not to be proud of any thing
they have or do; for it is he, who is the Life, who keepeth them in
life, and helpeth them to any duty; yea, it is life that worketh all in
them.

5. And likewise it should teach them to acknowledge him, to whom they
are obliged for any thing they do, for any life they have, or any acts
or fruits of life that appear in them; and to be thankful to him
therefor.

6. And mainly, they should here read their obligation and duty, to
improve this advantage, and to draw life out of this fountain, and so
live by this life; act and do all in and through this life; and so be
quickened by this life, in all their fits of deadness; and for this
cause would keep those things in mind:

(1.) That they should live in a constant conviction of their own
weakness, deadness, and inability to do any acts of life of themselves;
and far less to recover themselves out of any distemper and fit of
deadness which they fall into.

(2.) That they should live in the faith of this, that there is life
enough in him, who is the Life, to do their business. They should be
persuaded of his all-sufficiency.

(3.) That he is not only an all-sufficient deliverer, able to deliver a
soul that is, as it were, rotting in the grave, and to cause the dead to
hear his voice and live; but also most willing and ready to answer them
in all their necessities, according to wisdom, and as he seeth it for
his glory, and their soul's advantage. The faith of this is necessary,
and will be very encouraging.

(4.) That they should go to him, how dead-like soever their condition
be, and by faith roll their dead case upon him, who is the Life.

(5.) That they should pray upon the promises of grace and influence,
even out of the belly of hell, or of the grave, with Jonah, chap. ii. 2;
for he is faithful and true, and tender-hearted, and will hear and give
a good answer at length.

(6.) That in the exercise of faith and prayer, they should wait with
patience, till he be pleased to come, and breathe upon the dry bones,
and till the Sun of Righteousness arise on their souls with healing in
his wings.

But of this more particularly in the following cases, which now we come
to speak a little unto, of purpose to clear more fully how the believer
is to make use of Christ as the Life, when he is under some one
distemper or other, that calleth for life and quickening from Christ the
Life. We cannot handle distinctly all the particular cases which maybe
brought under this head; it will suffice, for clearing of this great
duty, to speak to some few.



CHAPTER XXI.

HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE LIFE, WHEN THE BELIEVER IS SO SITTEN-UP
IN THE WAYS OF GOD, THAT HE CAN DO NOTHING.


Sometimes the believer is under such a distemper of weakness and
deadness, that there is almost no commanded duty that he can go about;
his heart and all is so dead, that he cannot so much as groan under that
deadness. Yea, he may be under such a decay, that little or no
difference will be observed betwixt him and others that are yet in
nature; and be not only unable to go actively and lively about commanded
duties, yea, or to wrestle from under that deadness; but also be so
dead, that he shall scarce have any effectual desire or longing to be
out of that condition. Now, in speaking to the use-making of Christ for
quickening in this dead case, we shall do those things:

1. For clearing of the case, we shall show how probably it is brought
on. 2. How Christ is life to the soul in such a case as this. 3. How the
believer is to make use of Christ for the life, in this case; and, 4.
Further clear the matter, by answering a question or two.

As to the _first_, such a distemper as this may be brought upon the
soul,

1. Through some strong and violent temptation from without, meeting with
some evil disposition of the heart within, and so surprising and
overpowering the poor soul, as we see in David and Peter.

2. Through the cunning and sleight of Satan, stealing the believer, that
is not watchful enough, insensibly off his feet, and singing him asleep
by degrees.

3. Through carelessness, in not adverting at first to the beginnings and
first degrees of this deadness and upsitting, when the heart beginneth
to grow formal and superficial in duties, and to be satisfied with a
perfunctorious performance, without life and sense.

4. Through torturing of conscience, in light and smaller matters; for
this may provoke God to let conscience fall asleep, and so the soul
become more untender, and scruple little, at length, at great matters;
and thus deadness may come to a height, God ordering it so, for a
further punishment to them, for their untenderness and uncircumspectness.

5. Through their not stirring up themselves, and shaking off that spirit
of laziness and drowsiness, when it first seizeth upon them; but, with
the sluggard, yet another slumber, and another sleep, and a folding of
the hands to sleep.

6. Continuing in some known sin, and not repenting of it, may bring on
this distemper, as may be observed in David.

As to the _second_ particular, Christ is life to the soul in this case;
in that,

1. He keepeth possession of the soul; for the seed remaineth, the root
abideth fast in the ground; there is life still at the heart, though the
man make no motion, like one in a deep sleep, or in a swoon, yet life is
not away.

2. He in due time awakeneth, and rouseth up the soul, and so recovereth
it out of that condition, by some means or other, either by some alarm
of judgment and terror, as he did David; or dispensation of mercy and
tenderness, as he did Peter; and usually he recovereth the soul,

(1.) By discovering something of this condition, by giving so much sense
and knowledge, and sending so much light, as will let the soul see that
it is not well, and that it is under that distemper of lifelessness.

(2.) By the discovering the dreadfulness of such a condition, and how
hazardous it is to continue therein.

(3.) By putting the soul in mind, that he is the life and the
resurrection; and through the stirring up of grace, causing the soul to
look to him for quickening and outgate.

(4.) By raising up the soul at length out of that drowsiness, and
sluggish folding of the hands to sleep, and out of that deep security,
and putting it into a more lively, vigilant, and active frame.

As to the _third_, the believer that would make use of Christ, for a
recovery out of this condition, would mind those duties:

1. He would look to Christ, as the light of men, and the enlightener of
the blind; to the end, he may get a better and a more thorough discovery
of his condition; for it is half health here to be sensible of this
disease. The soul that is once brought to sense, is half recovered of
this fever and lethargy.

2. He would eye Christ as God, able to cause the dead and dry bones to
live, as Ezek. chap. xxvii.; and this will keep from despondency and
despair; yea, it will make the poor believer conceive hope, when he
seeth that his physician is God, to whom nothing is impossible.

3. He would look to him also, as head and husband, and life to the poor
soul that adhereth to him; and this will strengthen his hope and
expectation; for he will see that Christ is engaged (to speak so) in
point of honour, to quicken a poor dead and lifeless member; for the
life in the head is for the good of the whole body, and of every member
of the body, that is not quite cut off. And the good that is in the
husband is forthcoming for the relief of the poor wife, that hath not
yet got a bill of divorce. And Christ being life and the Life, he must
be appointed for the relief, the quickening and recovering from death of
such as are given to him, that they may be finally raised up at the last
day; he must present all his members lively in that day.

4. He would by faith wrap himself up in the promises, and lie before
this Sun of Righteousness, till the heat of his beams thaw his frozen
heart, and bring warmth into his cold and dead soul, and thus renew his
grips of him, accepting of him as the Life, and as his life. Christ
himself tells us, John xi. 40, that this is the Father's will, that hath
sent him, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, might
have everlasting life, and he will raise him up at the last day. Faith
closing with him, as it was the mean of life at first, so it will be the
mean of recovery out of a dead distemper afterwards.

5. He would mourn for such sins and provocations, as he discovereth in
himself to have caused and brought on this distemper. Repentance and
godly sorrow for such evils, as have sinned Christ and life away, is a
way to bring life back again.

6. He would be sure to harbour no known sin in his soul, but to set
himself against every known evil, as an enemy to the life and recovery
which he is seeking.

7. He must wait on Christ his life, in the appointed means; for that is
the will of the Lord, that he should be waited upon there, and sought
for there. There is little hopes of recovery for such as lay aside the
ordinances. Though the ordinances without him cannot revive or quicken a
poor soul, yet he hath condescended so far as to come with life to his
people in and through the ordinances, and hath appointed us to wait for
him there; we must be willing to accept of all his condescensions of
love, and seek and wait for him there, where he hath said he will be
found.

8. In going about those ordinances of life, he would beware of putting
them in Christ's room, _i.e._ he would beware of thinking that
ordinances will do his business; as some ignorantly do, who think that
by praying so often a-day, and reading so much, and hearing so much,
they shall recover their lost lively frame, when, alas! all the
ordinances, without him, signify nothing. They, without him, are cold
and lifeless, and can never bring heat and warmth to a cold soul. It is
he in the ordinances whom we are to seek, and from whom alone life is to
be expected, and none else.

9. Though life lieth not in the ordinances as separated from Christ, and
life is to be expected from him alone, yet he would beware of going
about the ordinances in a careless, superficial, and indifferent manner:
for this will argue little desire after life, and will bring on more
deadness. The ordinances then should be gone about seriously,
diligently, and with great carefulness, yea, with such earnestness as if
life were not about the ordinances at all. This is the right way of
going about the ordinances.

10. He must in all this wait with patience, without fretting or
quarrelling with him for his delaying to come. He must wait with much
humility. It becometh not him who hath, through his folly, sinned life
away, to quarrel now with God, because he restoreth him not again to
life at the first asking. He may be glad if at length, after long
seeking, waiting, and much diligence, he come and restore to him the joy
of salvation, and if he be not made to lie as bedrid all his days, for a
monument of folly in sinning away his life, strength, and legs as he
did.

11. He must beware of giving way to any thing that may increase or
continue this deadness; such as untenderness in his walk,
unwatchfulness, negligence, and carelessness; and especially he must
beware not to provoke God by sinning against light.

12. He would also beware of limiting the Lord to any set measure of life
and strength: for it becometh not beggars to be carvers, far less such
beggars as through folly have sinned away a good portion. It was not for
the prodigal to seek a new patrimony, after he had dilapidated the
former; it might suffice him to be made as a servant.

13. He would use well any small measure of life he getteth, for God and
his glory; getteth he but one talent, he should use it that he may gain
thereby: we say, use limbs and have limbs, use strength and have it.
This will be the way to get more.

14. He would be taking on the vows of the Lord, and that in the Lord, to
walk more watchful in time coming, charging all within and without not
to stir or provoke the Lord to depart further or to scare him from
coming to the soul.

As to the _last_ particular,

If it be inquired, 1. What can that soul do that is not sensible of this
deadness and weakness?

_Ans_. Though there be not any real sense and feeling of this condition,
yet there may be a suspicion that all is not right; and if this be, the
soul must look out to Christ for the life of sense and for a sight of
the provocations that have brought on that condition. He that is the
Life must recover the very beginnings of life; and when the soul winneth
to any real apprehension and sense of this deadness, it must follow the
course formerly prescribed for a recovery.

2. But it will be asked, how can a soul act faith in such a case? And if
it cannot act faith, how can it come to Christ and make use of him?

_Ans_. It is true, while the soul is in that case, it cannot act a
strong and lively faith; yet it can act a weak and a sickly faith; and a
weak faith and a sickly faith can lay hold on an enlivening Christ, and
so bring in more strength and life to the soul. If the soul be so weak
as that it cannot grip, yet it can look to him that can quicken the
dead and hath helped many a poor soul before out of a dead condition: or
if it cannot do so much as look, yet it may give an half-look, and lie
before him who waiteth to be gracious; and sustain itself if it can get
no more, with a maybe he shall come.

3. But further, it may be asked, what can the soul do, when, after all
this, it findeth no help or supply, but deadness remaining, yea, and it
may be, growing?

_Ans_. The soul in that case must lie at his door, waiting for his
salvation, and resolving, if no better may be, to die at his door, and
leave no approved means or commanded duty unessayed, that it may recover
its former vigour, activity and strength. And while the believer is
waiting thus, he is at his duty; and this may yield him peace, and he
may be sure that he shall never be ashamed, Psalm xxv. 3; lxix. 6. Isa.
1. 18.



CHAPTER XXII.

HOW CHRIST IS TO BE MADE USE OF AS OUR LIFE, IN CASE OF HEARTLESSNESS
AND FAINTING THROUGH DISCOURAGEMENTS.


There is another evil and distemper which believers are subject to, and
that is a case of fainting through manifold discouragements, which make
them so heartless that they can do nothing; yea, and to sit up, as if
they were dead. The question then is, how such a soul shall make use of
Christ as in the end it may be freed from that fit of fainting, and win
over those discouragements: for satisfaction to which we shall,

1. Name some of those discouragements which occasion this.

2. Show what Christ hath done to remove all those discouragements.

3. Show how the soul should make use of Christ for life in this case;
and,

4. Add a few words of caution.

As to the _first_, there are several things which may give occasion to
this distemper; we shall name those few:

1. The sense of a strong, active, lively, and continually stirring body
of death, and that notwithstanding of means used to bear it down and
kill it. This is very discouraging; for it made Paul cry out, "Woe is
me, miserable man, who shall deliver me from this body of death?" Rom.
vii. 24. It is a most discouraging thing to be still fighting, and yet
getting no ease, let be victory; to have to do with an enemy that abides
always alike strong, fight and oppose as we will, yea, not only is not
weakened, far less overcome, but that groweth in power, and prevaileth.
And this many times affecteth the hearts of God's children and causeth
them to faint.

2. It may be the case of some, that they are assaulted with strange
temptations and buffettings of Satan that are not usual. This made Paul
cry out thrice, 2 Cor. xii.; and if the Lord had not told him that his
grace was sufficient for him, what would he have done? Hence some of his
cry out in their complaint, was there ever any so tempted, so assaulted
with the devil, as I am? Sure this dispensation cannot but be much
afflicting, saddening and discouraging.

3. The sense of the real weakness of grace under lively means, and
notwithstanding of their serious and earnest desires and endeavours
after growth in grace, cannot but disquiet and discourage them: for they
may readily conclude, that all their pains and labour shall be in vain
for any thing they can observe.

4. The want of sensible incomes of joy and comfort is another fainting
and discouraging dispensation; as the feeling of these is a
heart-strengthening and most encouraging thing, which made David so
earnestly cry for it, Psal. li. 8, 12; when a poor soul that hath the
testimony of his own conscience, that it hath been in some measure of
singleness of heart and honestly seeking the face of God for a good many
years, and yet cannot say that ever it knew what those incomes of joy
and comfort meant which some have tasted largely of, it cannot choose
but be discouraged and much cast down, as not knowing what to say of
itself, or how to judge of its own case.

5. The want of access in their addresses to God, is another
heart-discouraging thing. They go about the duty of prayer with that
measure of earnestness and uprightness of heart that they can win at, at
least this is their aim and endeavour, and yet they meet with a fast
closed door, when they cry and shout; he shutteth out their prayer, as
the church complaineth, Lam. iii. 8. This sure will affect them deeply,
and cause their hearts sometimes to faint.

6. The want of freedom and liberty in their addresses to God is another
thing which causeth sorrow and fainting. They go to pray, but their
tongue cleaveth to the roof of their mouth: they are straitened and
cannot get their hearts vented.

7. Outward persecution that attendeth the way of godliness, and
afflictions that accompany such as live godly, is another discouraging
thing, both to themselves who are under afflictions, and to others who
hear it and see it; wherefore the apostle desireth earnestly that the
Ephesians should not faint at his tribulation, chap. iii. 13.

8. The Lord's sharp and sore dispensations for sin, as towards David,
Psal. li., or out of his sovereignty, for trial and other ends, as
towards Job, is likewise a discouraging, heart-breaking thing, and that
which will make strong giants to roar and faint, and look upon
themselves as dead men, as we see in these two eminent men of God.

As to the _second_ thing, Christ is life to the believer in this case,
in having done that which in reason may support under all these
discouragements, and having done so much for removing or weakening of
these; yea, and for carrying them over all, which may be in a word
cleared as to each.

1. As for the body of death, let it stir in the believer as fast as it
will or can, it is already killed, and all that struggling is but like
the struggling of a man in the pangs of death; for our "old man is
crucified with Christ," Rom. vi. 6; and the believer is dead to sin and
risen legally with him, Col. ii. 11, 12; iii. 3. But of this I spoke
abundantly above.

2. As to Satan's troubling the poor believer, through Christ also he is
a vanquished enemy: "He hath overcome him that had the power of death,
even the devil," Heb. ii. 14.

3. As for that felt weakness of grace, that is no ground of
discouragement, so long as he liveth who can make the lame to leap as an
hart, and can make waters break out in the wilderness, and streams in
the desert, Isa xxxv. 6, 7; "and giveth power to the faint, and to them
that have no might increaseth strength; so that such as wait upon the
Lord shall renew their strength, and they shall mount up with wings as
eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not
faint," Isa. xl. 29, 31. For "in him are all the promises yea and amen,"
2 Cor. i. 20. So that they need not faint upon this account, nor be
discouraged: for the work he hath begun he will finish it, and he will
quicken in the way, Psal. cxix. 37.

4. As for the want of sensible incomes of joy and comfort, he hath
promised to send the Comforter, in his own good time, John xiv. 26; xv.
26. "As one whom his Father comforteth, so will he comfort his," Isa.
lxvi. 13. Joy and gladness is promised in the covenant, Jer. xxxi. 13.
But further, though he keep up these influences of joy and comfort, he
supporteth another way. The lively hope of heaven may bear up the heart
under all this want: for there shall the soul have fulness of joy and
pleasures for evermore: no tears, no sorrow there, Psal. xvi. 11. Isa.
xxxv. 10.

5. As for the want of access in their prayers, they may possibly blame
themselves, for he has by his merits opened the door; and is become (to
speak so) master-usher to the poor soul, to lead him unto the Father, so
that "by him we have access," Eph. ii. 18, "yea, boldness and access
through faith in him," Eph. iii. 12; "and he is our advocate," 1 John
ii. 1; and, as our attorney, is gone to heaven before us; "and there
liveth for ever to make intercession," Heb. vi. 28; vii. 25. And what is
there more to be done to procure us access; or to move and encourage us
to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and
find grace to help in time of need?" Heb. iv. 14, 16.

6. As to that want of freedom and liberty in prayer; he helpeth that
also: For he maketh the dumb to sing, Isa. xxxv. 6, and maketh the
tongue of the stammerer to speak elegantly, Isa. xxxii. 4. He can
enlarge the heart, and help the soul to pour out his heart before God.

7. As to outward persecution, he can easily take that discouragement
away, by giving the hundred-fold with it; by supporting under it, and
bringing safe through it. When his presence is with them through fire
and water, Isa. xliii. 2, what can trouble them? And when he maketh
their consolations abound, 2 Cor. i. 5, what can discourage them? Have
not his sung in the very fires; and rejoiced in all their afflictions?
The resting of the Spirit of God and of glory, which Peter speaketh of,
1 Pet. iv. 14, is comfortable enough.

8. As for all those sharp dispensations mentioned in the last place, he
having taken the sting of all, even of death away, by taking away sin,
and purchased the blessing and love of the Father, having made
reconciliation through his blood, all those dispensations flow from
love, even such as seem sharpest, being inflicted for sin, as we see,
Heb. xii. 6; so that there is no cause here of fainting or of being so
discouraged as to give over the matter. But for help in this case, there
should be a use-making of Jesus, as the Life; and that is

The _third_ thing which we shall speak a little to, viz. How the soul
should make use of Christ as the Life, to the end it may be delivered
from this fainting occasioned through manifold discouragements.

1. The believer in this case would mind the covenant of redemption,
wherein Christ hath promised and so standeth obliged and engaged to
carry on his own through all discouragements to the end; so that if any
one believer miscarry, Christ loseth more than they lose: for the
believer can but lose his soul, but Christ shall lose his glory; and
this is more worth than all the souls that ever were created. And,
further, not only shall Christ lose his glory as Redeemer, but the
Father shall lose his glory in not making good his promise to Christ his
Son. For by the same covenant he standeth engaged to carry through the
seed that Christ had died for. And his appointing Christ to be his
servant for this end, and choosing him from among all the folk, and his
upholding of him, concurring with him, delighting in him, and promising
that he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles, and that to victory,
or to truth, speak out his engagement to see all true believers brought
home. See Isa. xlii. 1-4. Matt. xii. 17-21. Psalm lxxxix. 19-21, 28, 29,
35-37. Sure the faith of this would support the poor believer under all
those discouragements.

2. They would mind likewise the covenant of grace, wherein all things
are contrived and laid down, so far as that the believer may have
abundant consolation and comfort in all cases; and wherein there is
enough to take away all cause of fainting and discouragement; as might
fully be made to appear, if any did question it.

3. They would remember how richly Christ is furnished with all
qualifications; suiting even that case wherein they are like to be
overwhelmed with discouragements; and could the believer but think upon
and believe those three things, he might be kept up under all
discouragements: (1.) That Christ is a compassionate, tender-hearted
Mediator, having bowels more tender than the bowels of any mother; so
that "he will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax,"
Isa. xl. 2. He had compassion on the very bodies of the multitude that
followed him; and would not let them go away fasting, lest they should
faint in the way, Matt. xv. 32. Mark viii. 3; and will he not have
compassion on the souls of his followers, when like to faint through
spiritual discouragements? (2.) That he hath power and authority to
command all things that can serve to carry on a poor believer; for all
power in heaven and in earth is given unto him; all things are made
subject to him. (3.) That he hath a great readiness and willingness upon
many accounts to help his followers in their necessities. Sure, were
these three firmly believed, the believer could not faint, having
Christ, who is tender and loving, and willing to help, and withal able
to do what he will, to look to and to run to for supply.

4. They would take up Christ under all his heart-strengthening and
soul-comforting relations, as a tender brother, a careful shepherd, a
fellow-feeling high priest, a loving husband, a sympathizing head, a
life-communicating root, an all-sufficient king, &c., any of which is
enough to bear up the head, and comfort the heart of a drooping,
discouraged, and fainting soul. Much more may all of them yield strong
consolation to support and revive a soul staggering and fainting through
discouragement. Oh! if ye would but rightly improve and dwell upon the
thoughts of the comforting and heart-quickening relations! our hearts
would not fail us so much as they do.

5. They would eye him as now in glory, who as head and captain of
salvation hath wrestled through and overcome all difficulties and
discouragements that were in his way, and in name and behalf of all
believers that are his followers and members of his body, is now
possessed of glory, and thence draw an heart-comforting, and
soul-strengthening conclusion, thus, Is he entered into glory as head?
then such a poor, faint-hearted, discouraged worm as I am, may at length
come there as a little bit of his body, especially since he said, that
seeing he liveth, all his shall live also, John xiv. 19.

6. They would remember how Christ, who was always heard of his Father,
John xi. 41, did supplicate for this, as Mediator and Intercessor for
his people, John xvii. 24, saying, "Father, I will that they also whom
thou hast given me, be with me where I am," &c. May not the poor
faint-hearted believer that is looking to Jesus, draw an heart-reviving,
and soul-encouraging conclusion out of this, and say, though my prayers
be shut out, and when I cry for relief under my discouragements, I get
no hearing; but, on the contrary, my discouragements grow, and my heart
fainteth the more; yet Christ always was heard, and the Father will not
say him nay; why then may not I lift up my head in hope, and sing in the
hope of the glory of God, in the midst of all my discouragements?

7. By faith they would cast all their discouragements, entanglements,
and difficulties, as burdens too heavy for their back, on Christ, and
leave them there with him who only can remove them; and withal, resolve
never to give over, but to go forward in his strength, and thus become
daily stronger and stronger in resolutions, purposes, desires, and
endeavours, when they can do no more.

8. They would look to Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, and set
him before them as a copy of courage, "who for the joy that was set
before him, endured the cross, despising the shame," and endureth
contradiction of sinners against himself, Heb. xii. 2, 3. And this may
prove a mean to keep us from wearying and fainting in our minds, as the
apostle hinteth there.

9. They would remember, that Christ going before, as the Captain of
their salvation, hath broken the ice to them, and the force and strength
of all those discouragements, as we did lately show; so that now they
should be looked upon as broken and powerless discouragements.

10. They would fix their eye by faith on Jesus, as only able to do their
business, to bear up their head, to carry them through discouragements,
to apply cordials to their fainting hearts, and remain fixed in that
posture and resolution, looking for strengthening and encouraging life
from him, and from him alone; and thus declare, that, (1.) They are
unable of themselves to stand out such storms of discouragements, and to
wrestle through such difficulties. (2.) They believe he is only able to
bear them up, and carry them through, and make them despise all those
discouragements which the devil and their own evil hearts muster up
against them. (3.) That come what will come, they will not quit the
bargain--they will never recall or take back their subscription and
consent to the covenant of grace, and to Christ, as theirs, offered
therein, though they should die and die again by the way. (4.) That they
would fain be kept on in the way, and helped forward without failing and
fainting by the way. (5.) That they cannot run through hard walls--they
cannot do impossibilities--they cannot break through such mighty
discouragements. (6.) That yet through him they can do all things. (7.)
That he must help, or they are gone, and shall never win through all
these difficulties and discouragements, but shall one day or other die
by the hand of Saul. (8.) That they will wait, earnestly seeking help
from him, crying for it, and looking for it, and resolve never to give
over, and if they be disappointed they are disappointed.

Now for the _last_ particular, the word of caution, take these,

1. They would not think to be altogether free of fainting, for there is
no perfection here, and there is much flesh and corruption remaining,
and that will occasion fainting.

2. Nor would they think to be free of all the causes and occasions of
this fainting, viz. the discouragements formerly mentioned, or the like;
for, if the devil can do any thing, he will work discouragements, both
within and without. So that they would lay their resolution to meet with
discouragements; for few or none ever went to heaven but they had many a
storm in their face; and they must not think to have a way paved for
themselves alone.

3. They would not pore too much, or dwell too long and too much upon the
thoughts of those discouragements; for that is Satan's advantage, and
tendeth to weaken themselves. But it were better to be looking beyond
them, as Christ did, Heb. xii. 2, when he had the cross and the shame to
wrestle with, he looked to the joy that was set before him; and that
made him endure the cross and despise the shame; and as Moses did, Heb.
xi. 25-27, when he had afflictions and the wrath of the king to wrestle
against; he had respect unto the recompense of the reward, and so he
endured as seeing him who is invisible.

4. They would remember that as Christ hath tender bowels, and is full of
compassion, and is both ready and able to help them; so is he wise, and
knoweth how to let out his mercies best. He is not like a foolish,
affectionate mother, that would hazard the life of the child, before she
put the child to any pain. He seeth what is best for his own glory, and
for their good here and hereafter; and that he will do with much
tenderness and readiness.

5. They would look upon it as no mean mercy, if, notwithstanding of all
the discouragements and storms that blow in their face, they are helped
to keep their face up the hill, and are fixed in their resolution, never
willingly to turn their back upon the way of God, but to continue
creeping forward as they may, whatever storms they meet with; yea, upon
this account ought they heartily to bless his name, and to rejoice; for
"their hearts shall live that seek him," Psalm xxii. 26.

6. They would remember, for their encouragement, that as many have been
helped through all discouragements, and have been brought home at
length, so may they be brought through all those storms which now they
wrestle with. It is the glory of the Mediator to bring his broken, torn,
and sinking vessel, safe to shore.

Now, I come to a third case, and that is,



CHAPTER XXIII.

HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE LIFE WHEN THE SOUL IS DEAD AS TO DUTY.


Sometimes the believer will be under such a distemper, as that he will
be as unfit and unable for discharging of any commanded duty, as dead
men, or one in a swoon, is to work or go a journey. And it were good to
know how Christ should be made use of as the Life, to the end the
diseased soul may be delivered from this. For this cause we shall
consider those four things:

1. See what are the several steps and degrees of this distemper.

2. Consider whence it cometh, or what are the causes or occasions
thereof.

3. Consider how Christ is life to the soul in such a dead case; and,

4. Point out the way of the soul's use-making of Christ, that would be
delivered herefrom.

As to the _first_, this distemper cometh on by several steps and
degrees. It will be sufficient to mention some of the main and most
remarkable steps; such as,

1. There is a falling from our watchfulness and tenderness; and when we
leave our watch tower, we invite and encourage Satan to set upon us, as
was said before.

2. There is going about duty, but in a lazy way, when we love and seek
after carnal ease, and seek out ways of doing the duty, so as maybe
least troublesome to the flesh, as the spouse did, Cant. iii. 1, when
she sought her beloved upon her bed.

3. There is a lying by, and not stirring up ourselves to an active way
of going about duty, of which the prophet complaineth, Isa. liv. 7, when
he saith, there is none that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee.

4. There is a giving way to spiritual drowsiness, and upsitting in
duties, and in the way of God. "I sleep," said the spouse, Cant. v. 2,
3, and "I have put off my coat," &c. She knew she was not right, but was
drowsy, and yet she did not shake it off, but composed herself for it,
took off her coat, and washed her feet, and so lay down to sleep.

5. There is a satisfaction and contentment with his condition, as
thinking we are pretty well, at least for that time; and thus was the
spouse in that forementioned place led away; she was so far from being
dissatisfied with her condition, that she rather expressed contentment
therewith.

6. There may be such a love to such a condition, and such a satisfaction
in it, as that they may shift every thing that hath a tendency to rouse
them up out of that sluggish laziness, as not loving to be awakened out
of their sleep. So we see the bride shifts and putteth off Christ's call
and invitation to her, to arise and open to him.

7. Yea, there is a defending of that condition, as at least tolerable
and none of the worst; a justifying of it, or at least a pleading for
themselves and excusing the matter, and covering over their neglect of
duty with fair pretexts, as the spouse did when she answered Christ's
call with this, that she had washed her feet and might not defile them
again.

8. Yea, further, there is a pleading for this case, by alleging an
impossibility to get it helped as matters now stand; or, at least, they
will muster up insuperable-like difficulties in their own way of doing
duty, as the sluggard will say, that there is a lion in the way; and
the spouse alleged she could not put on her coat again.

9. Yea, it may come yet higher, even to a peremptory refusing to set
about the duty; for what else can be read out of the bride's carriage,
than that she would not rise and open to her beloved.

10. There is also a desperate laying the duty aside, as supposing it
impossible to be got done, and so a resolute laying of it by as
hopeless, and as a business they need not trouble themselves withal,
because they will not get through it.

11. And hence floweth an utter indisposition and unfitness for duty.

12. Yea, and in some it may come to this height, that the thoughts of
going about any commanded duty, especially of worship, either in public
or private; or their minting and attempting to set about it, shall fill
them with terror and affrightment, that they shall be constrained to
forbear; yea, to lay aside all thoughts of going about any such duty.

This is a very dead-like condition,--what can be the causes or occasions
thereof?

I answer, (and this is the _second_ particular,) some or all of these
things may be considered as having a hand in this:

1. No care to keep up a tender frame of heart, but growing slack, loose,
and careless, in going about Christian duties, may bring on such a
distemper.

2. Slighting of challenges for omission of duties, or leaving duties
over the belly of conscience, may make way for such an evil.

3. Giving way to carnality and formality in duties, is a ready mean to
usher in this evil. For when the soul turns carnal or formal in the
discharge of duties, duties have not that spiritual lustre which they
had, and the soul becometh the sooner wearied of them, as seeing no such
desirableness in them, nor advantage by them.

4. When people drown themselves in cares of the world, they occasion
this deadness to themselves; for then duties not only are not gone about
heartily, but they are looked on as a burden, and the man becometh
weary of them; and from that he cometh to neglect them; and by
continuing in the neglect of them, he contracteth an aversion of heart
for them; and then an utter unfitness and indisposition for discharging
of them followeth.

5. Satan hath an active hand here, driving on with his crafts and wiles
from one step to another.

6. The hand also of a sovereign God is to be observed here, giving way
to this, yea, and ordering matters in his justice and wisdom so, as such
persons shall come under such an indisposition, and that for wise and
holy ends; as, (1.) That by such a dispensation he may humble them, who
possibly were puffed up before, as thinking themselves fit enough to go
about any duty, how difficult or hazardous soever, as Peter, who boasted
so of his own strength, as he thought nothing to lay down his life for
Christ, and to die with him; and yet at length came to that, that he
could not, or durst not speak the truth to a damsel. (2.) That he may
punish one spiritual sin with another. (3.) To give warning to all to
watch and pray, and to work out their salvation with fear and trembling,
and not to be high-minded, but fear. (4.) That thereby, in his just and
righteous judgment, he may lay a stumbling-block before some, to the
breaking of their neck, when they shall, for this cause, reject and mock
at all religion. (5.) That he may give proof at length of his admirable
skill in recovering from such a distemper, that no flesh might have
ground to despair, in the most dead condition they can fall into. (6.)
And to shew, sometimes, what a sovereign dispensator of life he is, and
how free he is in all his favours.

As to the _third_ particular, how Christ is life in this case,

We answer, 1. By keeping possession of the believer, even when he
seemeth to be most dead; and keeping life at the root, when there is
neither fruit appearing nor flourishes, and hardly many green leaves to
evidence life.

2. By blowing at the coal of grace in the soul, in his own time and
way, and putting an end to the winter, and sending the time of the
singing of the birds, a spring time of life.

3. By loosing the bands with which he was held fast formerly, enlarging
the heart with desires to go about the duty; so that now he willingly
riseth up out of his bed of security, and cheerfully shaketh off his
drowsiness and sluggishness, and former unwillingness; and now with
willingness and cheerfulness he setteth about the duty.

4. By sending influences of life and strength into the soul, whereby the
wheels of the soul are made to run with ease, being oiled with those
divine influences.

5. And this he doth by touching the heart, and wakening it by his
Spirit; as he raised the spouse out of her bed of security and laziness,
by putting in his hand at the hole of the door,--then were her bowels
moved for him, Cant. v. 4; and thus he setteth faith on work again,
having the key of David to open the heart, Rev. iii. 7.

6. By giving a discovery of the evil of their former ways and courses,
he worketh up the heart to godly sorrow and remorse for what is done,
making their bowels move for grief and sorrow, that they should so have
dishonoured and grieved him.

7. By setting the soul thus on work to do what formerly it neither could
nor would do; and thus he maketh the soul strong in the Lord, and in the
power of his might, Eph. vi. 10, and able to run and not be weary, and
to walk and not be faint, Isa. xl.

8. By discovering the great recompense of reward that is coming, and the
great help they have at hand, in the covenant and promises thereof, and
in Christ their head and Lord. He maketh the burden light and the duty
easy.

As to the _last_ particular, viz. how a believer, in such a case, should
make use of Christ as the Life, that he may be delivered therefrom.

When the poor believer is any way sensible of this decay, and earnestly
desiring to be from under that power of death, and in case to go about
commanded duties, he should,

1. Look to Christ for enlightened eyes, that he may get a more thorough
discovery of the hazard and wretchedness of such a condition, that
hereby being awakened and alarmed, he may more willingly use the means
of recovery, and be more willing to be at some pains to be delivered.

2. He should run to the blood of Jesus, to get the guilt of his bygone
sinful ways washed away, and blotted out; to the end he may obtain the
favour of God, and get his reconciled face shining upon him again.

3. He should eye Christ as a prince exalted to give repentance, that so
his sorrow for his former sinful courses may be kindly, spiritual,
thorough, and affecting the heart. He would cry to Christ, that he would
put in his hand by the hole of the door, that his bowels may become
moved for him.

4. He should also look to him as that good shepherd, who will strengthen
that which is sick, Ezek. xxxiv. 16. And take notice also of his other
relations, and of his obligations thereby, and by the covenant of
redemption; and this will strengthen his hope.

5. He should lay hold on Christ as his strength, whereby his feet may be
made like hinds' feet, and he may be made to walk upon his high places,
Hab. iii. 19; and he would grip to that promise, Isa. xli. 10, "I will
strengthen thee;" and lay hold on Christ in it.

6. Having done thus, he should set about every commanded duty, in the
strength of Jesus, looking to him for help and supply, from whom cometh
all his strength, and though he should not find that help and assistance
which he expected, yet he should not be discouraged, but continue, and
when he can do no more, offer himself as ready and willing to go about
the duty, as if he had strength.

7. He should lie open to, and be ready to receive the influences of
strength, which he, who is the head, shall think good to give in his own
time, manner, and measure; and this taketh in these duties:

(1.) That they should carefully guard against the evils formerly
mentioned, which brought on this distemper; such as carelessness,
untenderness, unwatchfulness, laziness, carnal security, formality, and
want of seriousness, &c.

(2.) That they should beware of giving way to dispondency, or concluding
the matter hopeless and irremediable; for that is both discouraging to
the soul, and a tempting provocation of God.

(3.) That they should be exercising the grace of patient waiting.

(4.) That they should be waiting in the use of the appointed means, and
thereby, as it were, rubbing the dead and cold member before the fire,
till it gather warmth.

(5.) That they should be keeping all their sails up, waiting for the
gale of the Spirit, that should make their ship sail.

(6.) That they should be looking to him alone, who hath promised that
quickening Spirit; and patiently waiting his leisure, not limiting him
to any definite time.

(7.) That they should be cherishing and stirring up any small beginnings
that are.

(8.) That they should be welcoming most cheerfully every motion of the
Spirit, and improving every advantage of that kind, and striking the
iron when it is hot, and hold the wheels of the soul a-going, when they
are once put in motion, and so be loath to grieve the good and holy
Spirit of God, Eph. iv. 30, or to quench his motions, 1 Thess. v. 19.

If these duties were honestly minded and gone about, in him, and in his
strength, none can tell how soon there may be a change wrought in the
soul.

But if it be asked, what such can do, to whom the very thoughts of the
duty, and aiming at it, is matter of terror;

_Ans._ It may be, something, if not much, of that may flow from a bodily
distemper, as occasioneth the alteration of the body, upon the thorough
apprehension of any thing that is weighty and of moment, so as they
cannot endure to be much affected with any thing. But leaving this to
others, I would advise such a soul to those duties:

1. To be frequently setting to the duty, as, for example, of prayer,
though that should raise the distemper of their body, for through time
that may wear away, or at least grow less; whileas, their giving way
thereto, will still make the duty the more and more terrible, and so
render themselves the more unfit for it, and thus they shall gratify
Satan, who, it may be, may have a hand in that bodily distemper too.
When the poor soul is thus accustomed or habituated to the attempting of
the duty, it will at length appear not so terrible as it did; and so the
body may become not so soon altered thereby as it was.

2. When such an one can do no more, he should keep his love to the duty,
and his desires after it, fresh, and lively, and should not suffer these
quite to die out.

3. He should be much in the use of frequent ejaculations, and of short
supplications darted up to God; for these will not make such an
impression on the body, and so will not so occasion the raising and
wakening the bodily distemper, as more solemn addresses to God in prayer
would possibly do.

4. If he cannot go to Christ with confidence, to draw out of him life
and strength, according to his need, yet he may give a look to him,
though it were from afar; and he may think of him, and speak of him
frequently, and would narrowly observe every thing that pointeth him
out, or bringeth any thing of him to remembrance.

5. Such souls should not give way to despairing thoughts, as if their
case were wholly helpless and hopeless; for that is a reflecting on the
power and skill of Christ, and therefore is provoking and dishonourable
to him.

6. Let Christ, and all that is his, be precious always and lovely unto
them. And thus they should keep some room in their heart open for him,
till he should be pleased to come to them with salvation; and who can
tell how soon he may come?

But enough of this. There is a _fourth_ case of deadness to be spoken
to, and that is,



CHAPTER XXIV.

HOW SHALL THE SOUL MAKE USE OF CHRIST, AS THE LIFE, WHICH IS UNDER THE
PREVAILING POWER OF UNBELIEF AND INFIDELITY.


That we may help to give some clearing to a poor soul in this case, we
shall,

1. See what are the several steps and degrees of this distemper.

2. Consider what the causes hereof are.

3. Shew how Christ is life to a soul in such a case; and,

4. Give some directions how a soul in that case should make use of
Christ as the Life, to the end it may be delivered therefrom.

And, _first,_ There are many several steps to, and degrees of this
distemper. We shall mention a few; as,

1. When they cannot come with confidence, and draw out of him by faith,
what their soul's case calleth for; they cannot "with joy draw waters
out of the wells of salvation," Isa. xii. 3; but keep at a distance, and
entertain jealous thoughts of him. This is a degree of unbelief making
way for more.

2. When they cannot confidently assert and avow their interest in him,
as the church did, Isa. xii. 2, saying, "Behold, God is my salvation, I
will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my
song; he also is become my salvation."

3. When they much question, if ever they have indeed laid hold on
Christ, and so cannot go to him for the supplies of their wants and
necessities.

4. When, moreover, they question if they be allowed of God, and
warranted to come to him, and lay hold upon him; yea, and they think
they have many arguments whereby to maintain this their unbelief, and
justify their keeping a-back from Christ.

5. Or, when, if they look to him at all, it is with much mixture of
faithless fears that they shall not be the better, or at least doubting
whether it shall be to their advantage or not.

6. This unbelief will advance further, and they may come to that, not
only to conclude, that they have no part or portion in him, but also to
conclude that their case is desperate and irredeemable; and so say there
is no more hope, they are cut off for their part, as Ezek. xxxvii. 11,
and so lie by as dead and forlorn.

7. Yea, they may come higher, and vent some desperate thoughts and
expressions of God, to the great scandal of the godly, and the dishonour
of God.

8. And yet more, they may come that length, to question all the
promises, and to cry out with David, in his haste, Psalm c. 11, that
"all men are liars."

9. Yea, they may come to this, to scout the whole gospel to be nothing
but a heap of delusions, and a cunningly-devised fable, or but mere
notions and fancies.

10. And at length come to question, if there be a God that ruleth in the
earth.

These are dreadful degrees and steps of this horrible distemper, and
enough to make all flesh tremble.

Let us see next whence this cometh. The causes hereof we may reduce to
three heads:

_First._ The holy Lord hath a holy hand in this, and hath noble ends and
designs before him in this matter; as,

1. The Lord may think good to order matters thus, that he may magnify
his power and grace, in rescuing such as were returned to the very brink
of hell, and seemed to many to be lost and irrecoverably gone.

2. That in punishing them thus, for giving way to the first motions of
unbelief, he might warn all to guard against such an evil, and not to
foster and give way to groundless complaints, nor entertain objections,
moved against their condition by the devil.

3. To warn all to walk circumspectly, and to work out their salvation
with fear and trembling, not knowing what may befall them ere they die.

4. To teach all to walk humbly, not knowing what advantage Satan may get
of them eve all be done; and to see their daily need of Christ to
strengthen their faith, and to keep their grips of him fast.

5. So the Lord may think good to dispense so with some, that he may give
a full proof of his wonderfully great patience and long-suffering in
bearing with such, and that so long.

6. As also to demonstrate his sovereignty, in measuring out his
dispensations to his own, as he seeth will most glorify himself.

_Next,_ Satan hath an active hand in this; for,

1. He raiseth up clouds and mists in the believer, so that he cannot see
the work of God within himself, and so is made to cry out, that he hath
no grace, and that all was but delusions and imaginations, which he
looked upon as grace before.

2. He raiseth up in them jealousies of God, and of all his ways, and
puts a false gloss and construction on all which God doth, to the end he
may confirm them in their jealousies, which they have drunk in of God.

3. Having gained this ground, he worketh then upon their corruption with
very great advantage; and thus driveth them from evil to worse, and not
only to question their perfect interest in Christ, but also to quit all
hope for the time to come.

4. This being done, he driveth the soul yet farther, and filleth it with
prejudices against God and his glorious truths; and from this he can
easily bring them to call all in question.

5. Yea, he will represent God as an enemy to them; and when this is
done, how easy it is with him to put them on desperate courses, and
cause them to speak wickedly and desperately of God.

6. And when this is done, he can easily darken the understanding, that
the poor soul shall not see the glory of the gospel, and of the covenant
of grace, nor the lustre and beauty of holiness: yea, and raise
prejudices against the same, because there is no hope of partaking of
the benefit thereof; and so bring them on, to a plain questioning of
all, as mere delusions.

7. And when he hath gotten them brought this length, he hath fair
advantage to make them question if there be a God, and so drive them
forward to atheism. And thus deceitfully he can carry the soul from one
step to another.

But, _third,_ there are many sinful causes of this within the man's
self; as,

1. Pride and haughtiness of mind, as thinking their mountain standeth so
strong, that it cannot be moved. And this provoketh God to hide his
face, as Psalm xxx.

2. Self-confidence, a concomitant of pride, supposing themselves to be
so well rooted that they cannot be shaken, whereas it were better for
them to walk in fear.

3. Want of watchfulness over a deceitful heart, and an evil heart of
unbelief, that is still departing from the living God, Heb. iii. 12. It
is good to be jealous here.

4. Giving way to doubtings and questionings too readily at first. It is
not good to tempt the Lord by parlying too much and too readily with
Satan. Eve's practice might be a warning sufficient to us.

5. Not living in the sight of their wants, and of their daily necessity
of Christ, nor acting faith upon him daily, for the supplying of their
wants. And when faith is not used, it may contract rust and be weakened,
and come at length not to be discerned.

6. Entertaining of jealous thoughts of God, and hearkening too readily
to any thing that may foster and increase or confirm these.

7. Not delighting themselves in, and with pleasure dwelling on, the
thoughts of Christ, of his offices, of the gospel and promises; so that
these come at length to lose their beauty and glory in the soul, and
have not the lustre that once they had; and this doth open a door to
much mischief.

8. In a word, not walking with God according to the gospel, provoking
the Lord to give them up to themselves for a time.

We come now to the _third_ particular, which is, to shew how Christ is
Life to the poor soul in this case. And for the clearing of this,
consider,

1. That Christ is "the author and finisher of faith," Heb. xii. 2; and
so, as he did rebuke unbelief at the first, he can rebuke it again.

2. That he is the great prophet clearing up the gospel, and every thing
that is necessary for us to know, bringing life and immortality to
light by the gospel, 2 Tim. i. 10, and so manifesting the lustre and
beauty of the gospel.

3. He bringeth the promises home to the soul, in their reality,
excellency, and truth, being the faithful witness and the amen, Rev.
iii. 14, and the confirmer of the promises, so that they are all yea and
amen in him, 2 Cor. i. 20. And this serveth to establish the soul in the
faith, and to shoot out thoughts of unbelief.

4. So doth he, by his Spirit, dispel the mists and clouds which Satan,
through unbelief, had raised in the soul.

5. And thereby also rebuketh those mistakes of God, and prejudices at
him and his ways, which Satan hath wrought there, through corruption.

6. He discovereth himself to be a ready help in time of trouble, and the
hope and anchor of salvation, Heb. vi. 19; and a priest living for ever
to make intercession for poor sinners, Heb. vii. 25.

7. And hereby he cleareth up to the poor soul a possibility of help and
relief; and thus rebuketh despair or preventeth it.

8. He manifesteth himself to be the marrow and substance of the gospel:
and this maketh every line thereof pleasant and beautiful to the soul,
and so freeth them from the prejudices that they had at it.

9. So in manifesting himself in the gospel, he revealeth the Father,
that the soul cometh to "the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face
of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6. And this saveth the soul from atheism.

10. When the soul cannot grip him, nor look to him, yet he can look to
the soul, and by his love quicken and revive the soul, and warm the
heart with love to him, and at length move and incline it sweetly to
open to him; and thus grip and hold fast a lost sheep, yea, and bring it
home again.

But what should a soul do in such a case? To this, (which is the
_fourth_ particular to be spoken to), I answer,

1. That they should strive against those evils formerly mentioned, which
procured or occasioned this distemper. A stop should be put to those
malignant humours.

2. They should be careful to lay again the foundation of solid knowledge
of God, and of his glorious truths revealed in the gospel, and labour
for the faith of God's truth and veracity; for till this be, nothing can
be right in the soul.

3. They should be thoroughly convinced of the treachery, deceitfulness,
and wickedness of their hearts, that they may see it is not worthy to be
trusted, and that they may be jealous of it, and not hearken so readily
to it as they have done, especially seeing Satan can prompt it to speak
for his advantage.

4. They should remember also, that it is divine help that can recover
them, and cause them grip to the promises, and lay hold on them of new
again, as well as at first, and that of themselves they can do nothing.

5. In using of the means for the recovery of life, they should eye
Christ, and because this eyeing of Christ is faith, and their disease
lieth most there, they should do as the Israelites did who were stung in
the eye with the serpents,--they looked to the brazen serpent with the
wounded and stung eye: so should they do with a sickly and almost dead
faith, grip him, and with an eye almost put out and made blind, look to
him, knowing how ready he is to help, and what a tender heart he hath.

6. And to confirm them in this resolution, they should take a new view
of all the notable encouragements to believe, wherewith the whole gospel
aboundeth.

7. And withal fix on him, as the only "author and finisher of faith."

8. And, in a word, they should cast a wonderfully unbelieving and
atheistical soul on him, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in
working, and is wonderful in mercy and grace, and in all his ways. And
thus may he at length, in his own time, and in the way that will most
glorify himself, raise up that poor soul out of the grave of infidelity
wherein it was stinking; and so prove himself to be indeed "the
resurrection and the life, to the praise of the glory of his grace."

We come now to speak to another case, which is,



CHAPTER XXV.

HOW CHRIST IS MADE USE OF AS THE LIFE, BY ONE THAT IS SO DEAD AND
SENSELESS, AS HE CANNOT KNOW WHAT TO JUDGE OF HIMSELF, OR HIS OWN CASE,
EXCEPT WHAT IS NAUGHT.


We spake something to this very case upon the matter, when we spoke of
Christ as the Truth. Yet we shall speak a little to it here, but shall
not enlarge particulars formerly mentioned. And therefore we shall speak
a little to those five particulars; and so,

1. Shew what this distemper is. 2. Shew whence it proceedeth, and how
the soul cometh to fall into it. 3. Shew how Christ, as the Life,
bringeth about a recovery of it 4. Shew how the soul is to be exercised,
that it may obtain a recovery; and, 5. Answer some questions or
objections.

As to the _first_, Believers many times may be so dead, as not only not
to see and know that they have an interest in Christ, and to be
uncertain what to judge of themselves, but also be so carried away with
prejudices and mistakes, as that they will judge no otherwise of
themselves than that their case is naught; yea, and not only will deny
or miscall the good that God hath wrought in them by his Spirit, but
also reason themselves to be out of the state of grace, and a stranger
to faith, and to the workings of the Spirit: and hereupon will come to
call all delusions, which sometime they had felt and seen in themselves,
which is a sad distemper, and which grace in life would free the soul
from.

This proceedeth (which is the _second_ particular) partly from God's
hiding of his face, and changing his dispensations about them, and
compassing them with clouds, and partly from themselves and their own
mistakes: as,

1. Judging their state, not by the unchangeable rule of truth, but by
the outward dispensations of God, which change upon the best.

2. Judging their state by the observable measure of grace within them,
and so concluding their state bad, because they observe corruption
prevailing now and then, and grace decaying, and they perceive no
victory over temptations, nor growth in grace, &c.

3. Judging also their state by others; and so they suppose that they
cannot be believers, because they are so unlike to others, whom they
judge true believers. This is also to judge by a wrong rule.

4. Judging themselves by themselves, that is, because they look so
unlike to what sometimes they were themselves, they conclude that their
state cannot be good, which is also a wrong rule to judge their state
by.

5. Beginning to try and examine their case and state, and coming to no
close or issue, so that when they have done, they are as unclear and
uncertain what to judge of themselves, as when they began; or,

6. Taking little or no pains to try themselves seriously, as in the
sight of God, but resting satisfied with a superficial trial, which can
come to no good issue.

7. Trying and examining, but through the sleight of Satan, and because
pitching upon wrong marks, coming to no good issue, but condemning
themselves without ground.

8. There is another thing which occasioneth this misjudging, to wit, the
want of distinctness and clearness in covenanting with Christ, and the
ignorance of the nature of true saving faith.

As to the _third_ particular, how Christ is Life to the believer in this
case,

I answer, Christ manifesteth himself to be life to the soul in this
case:

1. By sending the Spirit of life, that enlighteneth, informeth,
persuadeth, and sealeth.

2. By actuating grace so in the soul, that it manifesteth itself, and
evidenceth itself to be there; as the heat and burning of a fire will
discover itself without other tokens.

The _fourth_ particular, to wit, how the soul should be exercised, or
how it should employ Christ, for an outgate from this, hath been
abundantly cleared above, where we shewed, that believers in this case
should,

1. Be frequent in gripping Christ and closing with him as their
all-sufficient Mediator; and faith thus frequently acting on him may
discover itself at length.

2. Look to Christ that hath eye-salve, and is given for a witness.

3. Keep grips fast of him, though they be in the dark; and walk on
gripping to him.

4. Keep love toward him and his working, and in exercise.

5. Beg of him to clear up their state, by his Spirit explaining the true
marks of grace, and discovering the working of grace in the soul.

But it will be said, and so I come to the _last_ particular, what, if
after all this, I remain as formerly, as unable to judge aright of my
state as ever?

_Answer._ Yet thou shouldst continue gripping Christ, loving him,
looking to him, casting a lost, dead soul with all thy wants upon him,
and mind this as thy constant work. Yea, thou shouldst labour to be
growing in these direct acts of faith; and learn to submit to God
herein, knowing that those reflect acts are not absolutely necessary;
and that thou shouldst think it much if he bring thee to heaven at
length, though covered with a cloud all thy days.

_Obj._ 2. But others get much more clearness.

_Ans._ I grant that; yet know, that every one getteth not clearness, and
such as have it, have it not in the same measure. And must God give thee
as much as he giveth to another? What if thou could not make that use of
it that others do, but wax proud thereby, and forget thyself? Therefore
it will be best to give God liberty to dispense his favours as he will,
and that thou be about thy commanded duty, the exercise of faith, love,
fear, patience, &c.

_Obj._ 3. But if at any time I got a sight of my case, it would be some
peace and satisfaction to me.

_Ans._ I grant that, and what knowest thou; but thou mayest also get
that favour ere thou die. Why then wilt thou not wait his leisure?

_Obj._ 4. But the want of it in the mean time maketh me go heartlessly
and discouragedly about commanded duties, and maketh that I cannot apply
things distinctly to myself.

_Ans._ Yet the word of command is the same, the offer is the same, and
the encouragement is the same. Why then should thou not be going on,
leaning to Christ in the wilderness, even though thou want that
comfortable sight?

_Obj._ 5. But it is one thing to want a clear sight of my state, it is
another thing to judge myself, to be yet in the state of nature; and
this is my case.

_Ans._ I grant, this is the worst of the two; yet, what if thou misjudge
thyself without ground; should thou not suffer for thy own folly; and
whom can thou blame but thyself? And if thou judge so, thou cannot but
know that it is thy duty to do the thing that thou supposeth is not yet
done, that is, run away to Christ for life and salvation, and rest on
him and abide there; and if this were frequently renewed, the grounds of
thy former mistake might be easily removed.

Yet further, I would add these few things:

1. Take no pleasure in debating against your own soul; for that is but
to serve Satan's design.

2. Be not too rash or ready to drink in prejudices against the work of
God in your own souls; for that is to conclude with Satan against
yourselves.

3. Make much of any little light he is pleased to give, were it but of
one mark, and be not ill to please; for one scriptural mark, as love to
the brethren, may sufficiently evidence the thing.

4. See how thy soul would like the condition of such as are carnal,
profane, careless in the matters of God; and if thy soul doth really
abhor that, and thou would not upon any account choose to be in such a
case, thou may gather something from that to thy comfort. But enough of
this case here.



CHAPTER XXVI.

HOW IS CHRIST, AS THE LIFE, TO BE APPLIED BY A SOUL THAT MISSETH GOD'S
FAVOUR AND COUNTENANCE.


The sixth case, that we shall speak a little to, is a deadness,
occasioned by the Lord's hiding of himself, who is their life, and "the
fountain of life," Ps. xxxvi. 9, and "whose loving-kindness is better
than life," Ps. lxiii. 3, and "in whose favour is their life," Ps. xxx.
5. A case, which the frequent complaints of the saints manifest to be
rife enough, concerning which we shall,

1. Shew some of the consequences of the Lord's hiding his face, whereby
the soul's case will appear. 2. Shew the reasons of this dispensation.
3. Shew how Christ is life to the soul in this case; and, 4. Point out
the soul's duty; or how he is to make use of Christ for a recovery.

As to the _first,_ we may take notice of those particulars:

1. They complain of God's hiding of himself, and forsaking them, Ps.
xxii. 1, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" and Ps. xiii. 3,
"How long wilt thou forsake me?" &c.

2. They cry out for a blink of his face, and get it not; for he hath
withdrawn himself, Ps. xiii. 1, "how long wilt thou hide thy face from
me?" Heman, Ps. lxxxviii., cried out night and day, but yet God's face
was hid, ver. 1, 9, 14. The spouse seeketh long, Cant. v.; see Ps. xxii.
1, 2.

3. They are looking for an outgate, but get none. And "hope deferred
maketh their heart sick," Prov. xiii. 12.

4. They are in the dark, and cannot tell' why the Lord dispenseth so
towards them; "Why," said Heman, Ps. xviii. 14, "castest thou off my
soul? why holdest thou thy face from me?" They cannot understand
wherefore it is. So Job cried out, "shew me wherefore thou contendest
with me," Job x. 2.

5. They may also be walking, in the mean while, without light or
counsel, so as they shall not know what to do. "How long shall I take
counsel in my soul," Ps. xiii. 2.

6. Moreover, they may have their heart filled with sorrow; as we see,
Ps. xiii. 2, "having sorrow in my heart," said David. He also saith, Ps.
xxxviii. that his sorrow was continually before him, ver. 17; and Ps.
cxvi. 3, "I found trouble and sorrow."

7. They may be so, as the sweet experience of others may yield them no
supply of comfort at present, Ps. xxii. 4-6, "Our fathers trusted in
thee," said David, "and thou didst deliver them; they cried to thee, and
were delivered; they trusted in thee, and were not confounded." But that
gave him no present ease or comfort; for immediately he addeth, ver. 6,
"but I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men," &c.

8. Yea, all their own former experiences may yield them little solace;
as we see in the same place, Ps. xxii. 9, 10, compared with ver. 14,15,
"Thou art he," says he, ver. 9, "that took me out of the womb," &c. And
yet he complains, ver. 14, "that he was poured out like water, and his
bones out of joint, that his heart was melted in the midst of his
bowels," &c.

9. They may be brought near to a giving over all in despondency, and be
brought, in their sense, to the very dust of death, Psal. xxii. 16.

If it be inquired, why the Lord dispenseth so with his own people?

We answer, and this is the _second_ particular, that he doeth it for
holy and wise reasons, whereof we may name a few; as,

1. To punish their carelessness and negligence; as we see he did with
the spouse, Cant. v.

2. To chastise them for their ill-improving of his favour and kindness
when they had it; as the same passage evidenceth.

3. To check them for their security and carnal confidence, as he did
David, Psal. xxx. 6, 7, when he said his mountain stood strong, and he
should never be moved. Then did the Lord hide his face, and he was
troubled.

4. To try if their obedience to his commands be pure and conscientious,
and not in a sort mercenary, because of his lifting up upon them the
light of his countenance; and to see if conscience to a command driveth
them to duty, when they are in the dark, and have no encouragement.

5. To put the graces of the Spirit to trial and to exercise; as their
faith, patience, hope, love, &c. Psal. xiii. 5, 6, 22, 24.

6. To awaken them from their security, and to set them to a more
diligent following of duty; as we see in the spouse, Cant. v.

7. To sharpen their desire and hunger after him, as this instance
cleareth.

Even in such a case as this, Christ is life to the soul, which is the
_third_ particular,

1. By taking away the sinful causes of such a distance, having laid down
his life and shed his blood for the remission of their sins, so that
such a dispensation is not flowing from pure wrath, but is rather an act
of mercy and love.

2. By advocating the poor man's cause in heaven, where he is making
intercession for his own, and thereby obtaining a delivery from that
condition, in God's own time, even the shining again of his countenance
upon them.

3. By keeping life in, as to habitual grace, and by breathing thereupon,
so that it becometh lively, and operative even in such a winter day.

4. By supporting the soul under that dispensation, and keeping it from
fainting, through the secret influences of grace, which he conveyeth
into the soul; as he did to the poor woman of Canaan, Matth. xv.

5. By setting the soul a-work, to use such means as God hath appointed
for a recovery; as, to cry, to plead, to long, to wait, &c. "Their heart
shall live that seek him."

6. By teaching the soul to submit to and acquiesce in what God doth,
acknowledging his righteousness, greatness, and sovereignty; and this
quietness of heart is its life.

7. By keeping the heart fast to the covenant of grace; so that whatever
come, they will never quit that bargain, but they will trust in him
though he should kill them; and they will adhere to the covenant of
grace, though they should be dragged through hell.

8. At length when he seeth it fit and convenient, he quickeneth by
drawing back the veil, and filling the soul with joy, in the light of
God's countenance; and causing it to sing, as having the heart lifted up
in the ways of the Lord.

As to the _last_ particular, concerning the duty of a soul in such a
case; we say,

1. He should humble himself under this dispensation, knowing that it is
the great God with whom he hath to do; and that there is no contending
with him; and that all flesh should stoop before him.

2. He should justify God in all that he doth, and say with David, Psal.
xxii. 3. "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of
Israel."

3. He should look upon himself as unworthy of the least of that kind: "I
am a worm," said David, Psal. xxii. 6, "and no man."

4. He should search out his provocations, and run away to the fountain,
the blood of Christ, that these may be purged away, and his conscience
sprinkled from dead works, and his soul washed in the fountain opened to
the house of David for sin and for uncleanness.

5. He must also employ Christ, to discover to him more and more of his
guiltiness, whereby he hath grieved the Spirit of God; and as sins are
discovered to him, he would repent of them, and run away with them to
the blood that cleanseth from all sin. This was Elihu's advice to Job,
chap. xxxiv. 31, 32. "Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have
borne chastisement, I will not offend. That which I see not, teach thou
me; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more."

6. He should grip to Christ in the covenant, and rest there with joy and
satisfaction; he should hold that fast that he may ride out the storm in
a dark night; "though he make not mine house to grow," said David, 2
Sam. xxiii. 5; yet this was all his salvation and all his desire, that
he "had made with him an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and
sure." The spouse took this course, when she could not get a sight of
him whom her soul loved, Cant. vi. 3, and asserted her interest in him;
"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."

7. He should be entertaining high and loving thoughts of God, commending
him highly, let his dispensations be what they will. So did the spouse,
Cant. v. 10, 16.

8. He should earnestly seek after him. The spouse did so, Cant. v. 6.
The discouragement she met with at the hands of the watchmen, did not
put her off her pursuit, ver. 7, but she continued, yea, was "sick of
love;" ver. 8; and her looks had a prevailing power with him, as we see,
Cant. vi. 5, where the bridegroom uttered that most astonishing word,
"Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me."

9. This new manifestation which he is seeking for, must be expected in
and through Christ, who is the true tabernacle, and he who was
represented by the mercy-seat. He is the only trusting-place; in him
alone will the Father be seen.

10. He should also look to him for strength and support, in the mean
time; and for grace, that he may be kept from fainting, and may be
helped to wait till he come, who knoweth the fittest season wherein to
appear.

But it will be said, what if, after all this, we get no outgate, but he
hideth his face still from us?

I answer, such should know, that life is one thing, and comfort is
another thing; grace is one thing, and warm blinks of God's face is
another. The one is necessary to the very being of a Christian, the
other not, but only necessary to his comfortable being; and therefore
they should be content, if God give them grace, though they miss comfort
for a time.

2. They should learn to commit that matter to Christ who knoweth how to
give that which is good and best for them.

3. They should be hanging on him for strength and for duty; and in his
strength setting about every commanded duty, and be exercising faith,
love, patience, hope, desire, &c.

4. Let the well-ordered covenant be all their salvation, and all their
desire; and though they should not get a comfortable blink of God's
face, so long as they were here, yet holding fast this covenant, they
should at length be saved souls, and what would they have more? and when
they get this, what will they miss?



CHAPTER XXVII.

HOW SHALL ONE MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE LIFE, WHEN WRESTLING WITH AN
ANGRY GOD BECAUSE OF SIN?


That we may give some satisfaction to this question, we shall,

1. Shew what are the ingredients in this case, or what useth to concur
in this distemper.

2. Shew some reasons why the Lord is pleased to dispense thus with his
people.

3. Shew how Christ is life to the soul in this case.

4. Shew the believer's duty for a recovery; and,

5. Add a word or two of caution.

As to the _first,_ There may be those parts of, or ingredients in this
distemper:

1. God presenting their sins unto their view, so as they shall cry out,
"Our sin is ever before us," Psal. li. 3, and say, as it is, Psal. xc.
8. "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the
light of thy countenance;" and so cause them see the Lord contending for
sin, as the church did, Isa. lix. "We roar all like bears, and mourn
sore like doves. We look for judgment but there is none, for salvation
but it is far off from us; for our transgressions are multiplied before
thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with
us; and as for our iniquities, we know them," &c.

2. Yea, God may bring upon them the iniquities of their youth, as Job
speaketh, chap. xiii. 26, and so bring upon them, or suffer conscience
to charge them, with their old sins formerly repented of and pardoned.
And this is more terrible: David is made to remember his original sin,
Psal. li.

3. And, as Job speaketh, chap. xv. 17, God may seem to be sealing up all
their sins in a bag, that none of them may be lost or fall by, without
being taken notice of; and, as it were, be gathering them together in a
heap.

4. He may pursue sore with signs of wrath and displeasure, because of
those sins, as we see in David, Psal. iv.; xxxviii. 51, and in several
others of his people, chastened of the Lord because of their
transgressions; whereof there are many instances in Scripture.

5. Yea, and that for a considerable time together, and cause them cry
out, with David, Psal. iv. 3, "But thou, O Lord, how long!"

6. And that not only with outward, but also with inward plagues and
strokes, as David's case cleareth, in the fore-cited Psalms.

7. Yea, and not even themselves, but even their posterity; as David's
child was smitten with death, and the posterity of Manasses, who found
mercy himself, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 13, was carried into captivity for his
sin, 2 Kings xxiii. 26, 27.

8. Further, the Lord may deprive them of all their former joy and
comfort, which made David cry out, Psalm li. 12, "Restore unto me the
joy of thy salvation, and grant me thy free Spirit."

9. And, which is yet more terrible, write their sin upon their judgment,
as when he caused the sword and whoredom follow David's house.

10. And, finally, he may cause them fear utter off-casting, as Psalm li.
12, "cast me not away," said he, "from thy presence."

And this the Lord thinketh good to do (that we may speak a word to the
_second_ particular) for those, and the like reasons:

1. To discover to them, and to all the world, how just, holy, and
righteous a God he is, that cannot approve of, or bear with sin, even in
his own children.

2. To make all fear and tremble before this great and holy God, who is
terrible in his judgments, even when they come from a Father's hand that
is not pursuing in pure anger and wrath, but chastening in love. Sure
all must think that his dispensations with the wicked will be much more
fearful and horrible, seeing they are not yet reconciled to him through
the blood of Jesus.

3. To press believers more earnestly into Christ, that they may get a
new extract of their pardon, and their souls washed in the blood of
Jesus.

4. To teach them to walk more circumspectly afterwards, and to guard
more watchfully against Satan's temptations, and to employ Christ more
as their strength, light, and guide.

5. To cause them see their great obligation to Jesus Christ, for
delivering them from that state of wrath, wherein they were by nature,
as well as others, and would have lain in to all eternity, had he not
redeemed them.

6. To exercise their faith, patience, and hope; to see if in hope they
will believe against hope, and lay hold on the strength of the Lord,
that they make peace with him, Isaiah xxvii. 5.

7. To give a fresh proof of his wonderful mercy, grace, love, and
compassion, upholding the soul in the mean time, and at length pardoning
them, and speaking peace to their souls through the blood of Jesus.

But as to the _third_ particular, we may look on Christ as the Life to
the soul in this case, upon those accounts,

1. He hath satisfied justice, and so hath borne the pure wrath of God
due for their sins. "He hath trodden the wine press alone," Isaiah
lxiii. 5. "He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our
sins," Isaiah liii. 5, 10; and therefore they drink not of this cup
which would make them drunk, and to stagger, and fall, and never rise
again.

2. Yea, he hath procured that mercy and love shall accompany all those
sharp dispensations, and that they shall flow from mercy; yea, and that
they shall be as a covenanted blessing promised in the covenant, Psalm
lxxxix. 30, &c.

3. And sometimes he is pleased to let them see this clear difference
betwixt the strokes they lie under, and the judgments of pure wrath
which attend the wicked; and this supporteth the soul; for then he seeth
that those dispensations, how sharp soever they be, shall work together
for good to him, and come from the hand of a gracious loving Father,
reconciled in the blood of Christ.

4. "He is a Prince, exalted to give repentance and remission of sins to
Israel," Acts v. 31. Yea, he hath procured such a clause in the
covenant, which is well ordered in all things and sure, that upon their
renewing of faith and repentance, their after sins shall be pardoned;
and besides the promises of faith and repentance in the covenant, his
being a Prince exalted to give both, giveth assurance of their receiving
of both.

5. He cleareth to them their interest in the covenant, and their right
to the promises of the covenant; and through their closing with Christ
by faith, he raiseth up their heart in hope, and causeth them to expect
an outgate, even remission of their sins, and turning away the
displeasure in due time through him. And this is a great part of their
life.

6. Being the author and finisher of faith, and a prince to give
repentance, he, by his Spirit, worketh up the soul to a renewing of its
grips of himself by faith, and to a running to the death and blood of
Christ for pardon and washing, and worketh godly sorrow in the heart,
whereupon followeth pardon, according to the gospel constitution, though
the believer as yet perceiveth it not; and sin being pardoned before
God, conform to the tenor of the covenant of grace, the man is a living
man, whatever fears of death he may be kept under for a time.

7. He helpeth also to a justifying of God, and to a holy, submissive
frame of spirit under that dispensation; so that they are willing to
bear the indignation of the Lord, because they have sinned against him,
Micah vii. 9; and to wait for an outgate in God's own time, and to kiss
the rod, and to accept of the punishment of their sin.

8. When he seeth it fit for his own glory, and their advantage, he
speaketh peace at length to the soul, and saith, "son (or daughter) be
of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee; and then is the soul restored
to life."

As to the _fourth_ particular. The soul that is wrestling with an angry
God for sin, and would make use of Christ as the Life, should do these
things:

1. He should look to Christ as standing under God's curse in our room,
and as satisfying justice for all the elect, and for all their sins.

2. He should eye the covenant wherein new pardon is promised, upon the
renewing of faith and repentance.

3. He should eye Christ as the great Lord dispensator of both faith and
repentance, and hang on him for both, and thus believe, that he may
believe and repent, or lay his soul open to him, that he may work in him
both repentance and faith.

4. He should flee to the blood of sprinkling, "that speaks better things
than the blood of Abel," that he may be washed, and sprinkled with
hyssop, as David did, Psalm li. 7.

5. He should eye Christ as a prince to give pardon and remission of
sins, and as exalted for this end, and should fix his eye upon him, as
now exalted in glory for this end.

6. He should close with Christ of new, as his only all-sufficient
Mediator; and having done this, and repented of his sins, whereby God
hath been provoked, he should conclude through faith, that a pardon is
passed in the court of heaven, conform to the tenor of the gospel, and
wait on Christ until the intimation come.

As for the cautions which I promised to speak to, in the _last_ place,
take those few:

1. Do not conclude there is no pardon, because there is no intimation
thereof made to thy soul as yet. According to the dispensation of grace
condescended upon in the gospel, pardon is had immediately upon a soul's
believing and repenting; but the intimation, sense, and feeling of
pardon, is a distinct thing, and may, for several ends, be long kept up
from the soul. Sure they go not always together.

2. Do not conclude there is no pardon, because the rod that was
inflicted for sin is not as yet taken off. God pardoned David's sin, and
did intimate the same to him by Nathan, and yet the sword did not depart
from his house till he died. God can forgive, and yet take vengeance on
their inventions, Psalm xcix. 8.

3. Do not upon this ground question God's faithfulness, or conclude
that God's covenant doth not stand fast. He is the same, and the
covenant abideth fast and firm; but the change is in thee.

4. Do not think that because thou hast once received Christ, that
therefore, without any new act of faith on him, or of repentance towards
God, thou should immediately be pardoned of thy sins, as soon as they
are committed; for the gospel method must be followed, and it should
satisfy us.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

NO MAN COMETH TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.


This being added for further confirmation of what was formerly said,
will point out unto us several necessary truths, as,

I. That it is most necessary to be sound and clear in this fundamental
point of coming to God only in and through Christ. For,

1. It is the whole marrow of the gospel.

2. It is the hinge of our salvation, Christ is "the chief corner stone,"
Isa. xxxviii. 16. 1 Pet. i. 5, 6; and,

3. The only ground of all our solid and true peace and comfort.

4 An error or a mistake here, is most dangerous, hazarding, if not
ruining all.

5. Satan endeavours mainly against this, raiseth up heresies, errors,
and false opinions, and prompteth some to vent perplexing doubts and
objections, and all to darken this cardinal point. So doth he muster up
all his temptations for this end, at length to keep poor souls from
acquaintance with this way, and from making use of it, or entering into
it.

6. Our corrupt hearts are most averse from it, and will close with any
way, how troublesome, how expensive and costly soever it may seem to be,
rather than with this.

7. There are a multitude of false ways, as we did shew above.

All which do clear up this necessity, and should teach us to be very
diligent to win to acquaintance with it, and to make sure that we are in
it, and to hold it fast, and to keep it pure in our practice, without
mixing any thing with it, or corrupting of it.

II. That it is no small difficulty to get this truth believed and
practised, that through Christ alone we come to the Father. Therefore is
the same thing asserted and inculcated again upon the same matter; for,

1. Nature will not teach this way; it is far above nature.

2. Yea, our natural inclinations are much against it, opposing it, and
fighting against it.

3. This way is altogether contrary to that high esteem which naturally
all of us have of ourselves.

4. And is opposite to that pride of heart which naturally we are subject
to.

5. Yea, there is nothing in us by nature that will willingly comply with
this way; but, on the contrary, all is opposite thereunto.

6. And therefore it is the Christian's first lesson to deny himself.

The consideration of which should humble us, and make us very jealous of
our own hearts and inclinations, and of all those courses which they are
inclinable to and bent upon. And it should put us to try if ever we have
overcome this difficulty; and have now all our hopes and comforts
founded on him, and on nothing else; and are up and down in our peace
and joy according as we win in to him, or are shut out from him; and in
all our approaches to God, upon whatsoever account, are leaning to him
and resting upon him alone, expecting access, acceptance, and a hearing,
only in him; and are quieted under all our fears and temptations, with
this,--that Christ is our way to the Father.

III. That even believers have need to have this truth inculcated often:
For,

1. Satan is busy pulling them off this ground by all the wiles and
temptations he can.

2. Their own corruption within, and the evil heart of unbelief, is
always opposing this way, and drawing them off it.

3. Through the sleight of Satan and the power of corruption, they are
oftentimes declining from this pure gospel way.

4. The experience of believers can tell, that when they are at their
best, it is a great work and exercise to them to keep their hearts right
in this matter.

5. Is it not too often seen, that they are the spiritual plague of
formality, which stealeth them off their feet here?

6. And is it not found oftentimes that they are too ready to lean to
something beside Christ?

How ought all to be convinced of this, and humbled under the sense of
it! And see also how necessary it is to be often preaching on this
subject, and to be often thinking upon and studying this fundamental
truth.

IV. It should be a strong motive and incitement to us to make use of
Christ as the way to the Father, that no man cometh to the Father but by
him; for this may be looked upon as an argument enforcing their
use-making of him as the way.

V. It discovereth the ground of that truth, that there are but few that
are saved, for none cometh to the Father but by him; few, in respect of
the whole world, once hear of him; and of such as hear of him, few have
the true way of employing and applying him, as the way to the Father
cleareth up unto them. And again, of such as have the truth, as it is in
Jesus, preached unto them, O how few go to him and make use of him
according to the truth, and believe and practise the truth!

VI. That in and through Christ alone we must come,

1. To the knowledge of the Father; "for no man knoweth the Father but
the Son;" and he alone, who came out of the bosom of the Father,
revealeth him.

2. To the favour and friendship of the Father; for he alone is our
peace, and in him alone is the Father well pleased.

3. To the kingdom of the Father here; for here only is the door, John
x.; and by his Spirit are we effectually called.

4. To the kingdom of the Father above; for he alone hath opened that
door, and is entered into the holiest of all, as our forerunner, and is
gone to prepare a place for us.

5. Through him alone must we address ourselves to the Father in our
supplications, John xvi. 23. Rev. viii. 3; in our thanksgiving, Rom. i.
8. Col. iii. 17; and praise, Heb. xiii. 15. Eph. iii. 21.

6. Through him alone have we access and an open door to the Father, Eph.
ii. 18; iii. 21. Heb. iv. 16.

I shall only speak to one case here, viz.



CHAPTER XXIX.

HOW SHOULD WE MAKE USE OF CHRIST, IN GOING TO THE FATHER, IN PRAYER, AND
OTHER ACTS OF WORSHIP?


In short, for answering of this question, I shall lay down those
particulars:

1. There should be a lively sense of the infinite distance that is
between the great God and us finite creatures, and yet more betwixt the
Holy Ghost and us sinful wretches.

2. There should be an eyeing of Christ as the great peacemaker, through
his death and merits having satisfied justice and reconciled sinners
unto God; that so we may look on God now no more as an enemy, but as
reconciled in Jesus.

3. There should be, sometimes at least, a more formal and explicit
actual closing with Christ as ours, when we are going about such duties,
and always an implicit and virtual embracing of him as our Mediator, or
an habitual hanging upon him and leaning to him as our Mediator and
peacemaker.

4. There should be an eyeing of him as our great High Priest now living
for ever to make intercession for us, and to keep the door of heaven
open to us: upon which account the apostle presseth the Hebrews to "come
boldly to the throne of grace," Heb. iv. 14,16. See also Heb. v. 24,25.

5. There should be a gripping to him even in reference to that
particular act of worship, and a laying hold upon him, to speak so, as
our master-usher to bring us by the hand in to the Father, conscious of
our own unworthiness.

6. There should be a confident leaning to him in our approaching, and so
we should approach him without fear and diffidence; and that
notwithstanding that we find not our souls in such a good frame as we
would Wish, yea, and guilt looking us in the face.

7. Thus should we roll all the difficulties that come in our way, and
all the discouragements which we meet with, on him, that he may take
away the one and the other, and help us over the one and the other.

8. As we should take an answer to all objections from him alone, and put
him to remove all scruples and difficulties, and strengthen ourselves
against all impediments and discouragements alone, in and through him,
so there should be the bringing of all our positive encouragements from
him alone, and all our hopes of coming speed with the Father should be
grounded upon him.

9. We should expect all our welcome and acceptance with the Father only
in and through Christ, and expect nothing for any thing in ourselves,
nor for our graces, good frame, preparation, or any thing of that kind.
So we should not found our acceptance nor our peace and satisfaction on
ourselves, nor on any thing we have or do; nor should we conclude our
exclusion or want of acceptance, because we do not apprehend our frame
so good as it ought to be; so we should not found our acceptance on our
right performance of duties, for that is not Christ.

10. We should quiet ourselves on him alone in all our approaches,
whatever liveliness we find or miss in duty. We are too much tickled and
fain when duties go well with us, and troubled on the other hand when it
is not so; and the ground of all this is, because we lean too much to
our own duties, and do not quiet ourselves on him alone. And hence it
is, that we are often quieted when we get the duty done and put by,
though we have not met with him there, nor gotten use made of him as was
necessary. All our comfort, peace, and quiet should be founded on him
alone.

11. We should look to him for the removal of all the discouragements
that Satan casts in our way while we are about this or that piece of
worship, to put us back, or cause us to advance slowly and faintingly;
and casting them all on him, go forward in our duty.

12. We should look for all our returns and answers only in and through
him, and lay all the weight of our hopes and expectations of a good
answer only on him, 1 John v. 13, 14, 15.

For caution I would add a word or two:

1. I do not think that the believer can explicitly and distinctly act
all these things whenever he is going to God, or can distinctly perceive
all these several acts; nor have I specified and particularly mentioned
them thus, for this end, but to shew at some length, how Christ is to be
employed in those acts of worship which we are called to perform; and
that because we oftentimes think the simple naming of him, and asking of
things for his sake, is sufficient, though our hearts lean more to some
other thing than to him; and the conscientious Christian will find his
soul, when he is rightly going about the duties of worship, looking
towards Christ thus, sometimes more distinctly and explicitly as to one
particular, and sometimes more as to another.

2. Though the believer cannot distinctly act faith on Christ all these
ways, when he is going about commanded duties of worship, yet he should
be sure to have his heart going out after Christ, as the only ground of
his approaching to and acceptance with and of being heard by the Father;
and to have his heart in such an habitual frame of resting on Christ,
that really there may be a relying upon him all these ways, though not
distinctly discerned.

3. Sometimes the believer will be called to be more distinct and
explicit in looking to and resting upon Christ, as to one particular,
and sometimes more as to another. When Satan is dissuading him to go to
God because he is an infinitely holy One, and he himself is but a
sinner, then he is called to act faith on Christ as the Mediator making
reconciliation between God and sinners; and when Satan is dissuading
from approaching to God, because of their want of an interest in God,
then should they act faith on Christ, and embrace him according to the
gospel, and rest there, and so approach. And when Satan casts up his
unworthiness and former sins, to keep him a-back or to discourage him,
then he is called to lay hold on Christ as the great High Priest and
Advocate, and casting that discouragement on him, to go forward. So
likewise, when Satan is discouraging him in his duty, by bringing before
him his sins, he should take this course; and when, because of his
sinful way of worshipping God, and calling upon him, and other things,
he is made to fear that all is in vain, and that neither God regardeth
him nor his services, and that he shall not come speed, then should he
cast all the burden of his acceptance, and of obtaining what he asketh
and desireth, on Christ, and quiet himself there; and so as _to_ the
rest. And hence appeareth the usefulness of our branching out of this
matter.

4. In all this, there must be an acting in the strength of Jesus; a
looking to Christ and resting upon Christ, according to the present case
and necessity, in Christ; that is, by his strength and grace
communicated to us by his Spirit; then do we worship God in the Spirit,
and in the newness of the Spirit, when all is done, in the matter of
worship, in and through Jesus.


THE END.





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