Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
~ 2 Corinthians 7:1
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. ~ 2 Peter 3:14
Some General Directions for a Comfortable Walking with God, by Robert Bolton. 1626. The following text is in Old English.
Abandon resoluedly thy beloued sinne:
1. Looke that thou lyest not in any one knowne sinne a∣gainst thy conscience, hating to be reformed: do not cherish, allow, or goe on in any lust, corruption, or lewd way in thine heart, life, or calling: suffer not any worke of darknesse, or seruice of Satan to reigne, and domineere in thee. For if so, thou art so farre from abilitie, or possibilitie of walking with God, or delighting in him, that thou wearest the Diuels brand, and art yet most certainely one of his. See and search the true meaning of such places, as these; a 1. Ioh. 3. 3. 6, 8, 9. Iames 2. 10. Ezech. 18. 21. Psalm. 66. 18. and 119. 6, 101. Ezech. 18. 30. Matth. 18. 8, 9. 2. Cor. 7. 1.
Sutable hereunto is the concurrent iudgement, and do∣ctrine of our best Diuines, and worthiest Writers, graciously instructed vnto the Kingdome of Heauen. These are their se∣uerall assertions to the same sense, in their owne words:
1. A man can haue no peace in his conscience, that fauoureth and retaineth any one sinne in himselfe against his conscience.
2. A man is in a damnable state, whatsoeuer good deeds seeme to be in him, if he yeeld not to the worke of the holy Ghost, for the leauing but of any one knowne sinne, which fighteth against peace of conscience.
3. So long as the power of mortification destroyeth thy sinfull affections, and so long as thou art vnfainedly displeased with all sinne, and doest mortifie the deeds of the body by the Spirit, thy case is the case of saluation.
4. A good conscience stands not with a purpose of sinning; no, not with an irresolution against sinne.
5. The rich and precious boxe of a good conscience is pollu∣ted, and made impure, if but one dead Flie be suffered in it. (He meanes, any one knowne sinne, lyen and delighted in impenitently.)
6. Where there is but any one sinne nourished and fostered, all other our graces are not onely blemished, but abolished, they are no graces.
7. Most true is that saying of Aquinas; That all sinnes are coupled together, though not in regard of conuersion to tem∣porall good; for some looke to the good of gaine, some of glory, some of pleasure, &c. yet in regard of auersion from eternall Good, that is God; So that he that lookes but toward one sinne, is as much auerted, and turned backe from God, as if he looked to all. In which respect Saint Iames sayes, He that offendeth in one, is guiltie of all.
8. Euery Christian should carry in his heart, a constant and resolute purpose, not to sinne in anything: for faith, and the pur∣pose of sinning can neuer stand together.
Thou seest then, if Satan keep possession, but by one reig∣ning sinne, it will be thine euerlasting ruine. Thou shalt then bee so farre from euer enioying any humble holy ac∣quaintance with our God, that thou art gone body and soule for euer. One breach in the walles of a Citie, exposeth it to the surprize of the enemy: one leake in a ship neglected, will sinke it at length into the bottome of the Sea: the stab of a penknife to the heart, will as well speed a man, as all the daggers that kild Caesar in the Senate-house:
If thou hedge thy Close as high as the middle Region of the Aire in all other places, and leaue but one gap, all thy grasse will bee gone: If the Fowler catch the bird, either by the head, or the foote, or the wing, she is sure his owne. It is so in the pre∣sent case: If thou liue, and lye with allowance and delight, in any one knowne sinne, without particular remorse, or re∣solution to part with it; thou as yet carriest the Diuels brand, he hath thereby markt thee out for his owne. As obedience is vniuersall and Catholike, if sincere; so repentance, if true, is also generall. It s•…rips vs starke naked, as a worthy Diuine saies well, of all the garments of the old Adam, and leaues not so much as the shirt behind: in this rotten building, it leaues not a stone vpon a stone. As the flood drowned Noahs owne friends and seruants: so must the flood of repenting teares drowne our sweetest, and most profitable sinnes.
The premonition therefore I tender in the first place, is this: Thou canst neuer possibly be fitly qualified, either for the right vnderstanding, or sauing practise of this sacred and sweetest Art, of walking with God; except thou resolue, to stand for euer sincerely at the swords point against all sinne. Euen thy bosome sinne must be abandoned, if thou look for any blessing in this kinde: Thou must put off the shirt from thy sinfull soule; for as the shirt is to the body, so is the be∣loued sinne to the soule; it sticks closest and neerest, and is done off with most adoe.
And because this darling-pleasure, minion-delight, Pec∣catum in delicijs, as the Fathers call it, is Satans strongest Hold, his Tower of greatest confidence and securitie, when he is driuen out elsewhere, and so by consequent most pow∣erfull and peremptorie to keepe a mans heart estranged with largest distance, and incompatible auersion from all holy acquaintance with God; I will in short labour to illighten, and dis-intangle any one, who vnfainedly desires an vtter diuorce from this bosome-deuill; by telling him, first, what it is: secondly, what his is: thirdly, how he may be deceiued about it.
1. As in euery man, there is one element, one humour, and ordinarily one passion predominant; so also one h worke of darknesse, and way of death. And it is that which his corrupt, and originall crookednesse, vpon the first electiue suruay, and prospect ouer the fooles Paradise of worldly pleasures, fleshly lusts and vanities of this life, by a secret sensuall inclination, and bewitching infusion of Satan, singles out, and makes speciall choice of, to follow and feede vpon, with greatest delight, and predominant sweetnesse: afterward, by custome and continuance, growes so power∣full, and attractiue, that it extraordinarily endeares, and drawes vnto it the heate of all his desires, and strongest wor∣kings of his heart, with much affectionate impatiencie, and headlongnesse: and at the height, by an vnresistable tyran∣ny, it makes all occasions and occurrences, friends and fol∣lowers, the deepest reach of policie, and vtmost proiects of wit, Religion, conscience, credit with the world, the vniuer∣sall possibilitie of body, soule, outward state, seruiceable, and contributarie vnto it, as the Captaine, and commanding sin; as to the Deuils vice-roy, domineering in the wasted consci∣ence. In some, it is worldlinesse, wantonnesse, ambition, op∣posicion to godlinesse, vsurie, pride, reuenge, or the like: In others, it may bee drunkennesse, the swaggering vanitie of good fellowship, gluttony, pleasures of Play-house hanting, gaming, scurrill iesting, &c. obstinate insatiablenesse in al∣lowed recreations, idlenesse, or such like.
2. Thou mayest discouer it by such markes as these:
1. It is that, which thy truest friends, thine owne con∣science, and the finger of God in the Ministerie, many times finds out, meetes with, and chiefely checks thee for.
2. It is that, which if it breake out into act, and be vi∣sible to the eye of the world, thine enemies most eagerly ob∣serue, and obiect, as matter of their most insultation, and thy greatest disgrace.
3. That which thou art lothest to leaue, art oftenest tempted vnto, hast least power to resist, and which most hin∣ders the resignation and submission of soule and body, of all thy courses and carriage, heartily and vnreseruedly to the Word and will of God.
4. It is that which God oftnest corrects in thee, euen in the interpretation, and guiltie acknowledgement of thy selfe-accusing heart. It may be, at seuerall times thou hast bin afflicted with some heauy crosse in thine outward state, losse of a child, some fits and pangs of bodily paine, terrours and troubles of mind, or some such proportionable visitati∣ons: now in all these, and like afflictions, vpon the first smar∣ting apprehension, thy conscience, if any whit awaked, on its owne accord seized vpon that sinne we now seeke for, as the principall Achan and author of all thy misery.
5. If euer thou wast so sicke, as out of extremitie to re∣ceiue sentence of death against thy selfe, and despaire of re∣couerie; if thy conscience was stirring, this sinne afrighted thee most, and gaue the deadliest blow to driue thee to fi∣nall despaire. And if thou shouldest die in it without repen∣tance, which God forbid, it would infuse most hellish vigor, and venome, into the neuer-dying worme, which would thereby more mightily gnaw vpon thy conscience, thorow all eternitie. If euer the sword of the Spirit shall cleaue it from thy bosome, which is infinitely to bee desired, and strike thorow thy sensuall heart with true remorse, it will cost thee the bitterest teares, most sighes, and deepest groanes.
6. It is that, which thou art lothest, and wouldst least be acknowne of. If it were possible, thou couldest be well con∣tent, that no Iohn Baptist should euer heare of thy Herodias. And therefore thou bearest thy braines, and improouest thy wit, to deuise (if it be capable of dawbing) distinctions, eua∣sions, excuses, extenuations, whole cart-loades of fig-leaues, to colour and cloke this soule Fiend, though fauourite to thy bewitched soule.
7. That, which thou art in a bodily feare, the Minister will meddle and meete with, when thou art going towards a conscionable, and searching Sermon. For thou thinkest with thy selfe, If this day he disclose my bosome, I shall both be disgraced amongst my neighbours that know it, and cast al∣so into dumps, and melancholy by his denouncing of terrour against it.
8. Thoughts, plots, and proiects, about it, a thousand to one, ordinarily seize vpon thine heart, with first and most ac∣ceptable entertainement at thy very first waking; if they haue not broken off thy sleepe, and troubled thee in thy dreames.
9. The cares, pleasures, and appurtenances of it, are woont to thrust, and throng vpon thee on the Lords Day, with ex∣traordinary eagernesse, importunitie, and vnresistablenesse. For the Deuill that desires to haue thy mind most distracted vpon that Day, makes choyse of the fittest, and pleasingest baites, to draw away and detaine thy heart, and the most al∣luring obiects, for diuersion.
10. In the darkenesse, and discomforts of the night, if thou beest suddēly awakened with some dreadfull thunder, light∣ning, or terrible tempest, the guilt and accusations of thy be∣loued sinne is wont to come into thy minde in the first place, and with greatest terrour.
Thirdly, a man may be deceiued, in conceiuing, that hee is vtterly diuorced, and quite deliuered from his bosome sinne, and yet it bee but a meere exchange, or some other mistake. This grosse, affected selfe-imposture, may be seene in such cases as these:
1. He may change onely the outward and visible forme of it. For instance: Whereas the same sinne of couetousnesse doth vtter and expresse it selfe by vsury, simony, sacriledge, bribery, grinding poore mens faces, crushing, and vnmerci∣fully keeping vnder the poorer of the same trade, stealing, ouer- reaching by tricks of wit, all manner of wrong-doing, all kinds of oppression, detaining ill-gotten goods without restitution, &c. he may insensibly glide out of one gulph of griping crueltie, into another; he may fall from one of these, being a more notorious, & cursed trade of hoarding, to some other of them lesse obserued, and odious in the world, & yet still abide in the chambers of death, and vnder the tyranny of a reigning sinne. The soule sinne of vncleannesse doth actuate it selfe by fornication, adultery, selfe-pollution, brutish, and immoderate abuse of marriage, and such other abborred im∣purities. Now, hee may passe from one of these pollutions, more crying and abominable, to some other of them, not af∣frighting the conscience with such grislinesse & horror, and yet still lye in the impenitent and damnable shares of lust.
2. He may surcease, and refraine from the outward grosse acts of such hatefull villanies; and yet his inward parts bee still defiled with insatiable sensual hankerings after them, de∣lightfull reuoluing them in his mind, & contemplatiue com∣mission of them. For instance: He may hold his hand both from the crying violence of oppressions and wrong, and the closer conueiances of cunning and fraud; and yet couetous∣nesse may still reigne in him, by the earthly exercise of the heart. He may forbeare the externall acts of vncleannesse, and ye•… lie and languish abominably in speculatiue wanton∣nesse, and adulteries of the thought; the visible executions of reuenge, and yet nourish in his distempered affections, the hellish Vipers of heart-burning hatred, and spite; all indirect ambitious climing into high roomes, and yet be passingly proud, and ouer greedie of precedencie.
3. Nay, he may change the kinde of his bosome sinne, in respect of matter, forme, obiect, euery way; and yet vpon the matter, it is but the exchange of one foule fiend for ano∣ther. For instance: wantonnesse may bee his sweete sinne in youth, and worldlinesse in old age: reuelling in his yonger yeeres; downe-right drunkennesse in his declining time: prodigalitie may sway in some part of his life; pinching in some other: Hypocrisie may raigne at one time; Apostacie at another: furious zeale for one while; prophane irreligi∣ousnesse for another.
4. When the blasting frosts and feeblenesse of old age, haue with a sott•…sh deadnesse and listlesnesse emasculated and wasted the ambitious vigour of his minde, and the boi∣sterous heate of his affections, haue dried and drunke vp the milke in his brests, and marrow in his bones; his darling sin may then at length bid him adieu, without any penitent dis∣charge, and he may say vnto it, I haue no more pleasure in thee. Whereupon hee may falsly conclude a mortification, and finall conquest ouer it; a secure deliuerance from the guilt and curse of it.
5. He may vnsoundly please himselfe with an vnuolunta∣ry, and enforced cessation from it; when there is no want of good will, as they say; but onely, of matter, meanes, oppor∣tunitie, entisement, company, prouocation, or something for the full and free acting and enioyment of it. So want of money may restraine a man, but full sore against his will, from strange apparell, gaming, Ale-house haunting, buying of Benefices, Offices, high roomes, &c.
6. Hee may for a time pull his necke out of this strongest yoke of Satan, onely out of melancholicke pang of slauish terrour, serious fore-thought of death, and lying euerlast∣ingly in Hell, true apprehension of the impossibilitie of be∣ing saued without abandoning it; vpon some desperate hor∣rour of bringing againe his beloued sinne in his bosome to the Communion, after so many causefull prouocations of Diuine Iustice; obseruation of some remarkeable vengeance seized vpon his fellow-delinquents; or sensible smart of some terrible blow from Gods visiting hand in one kinde or other: I say, vpon some such occasion, he may for a time for∣beare his bloudy oathes, vsury, drunkennesse, gaming, Play∣house haunting, selfe-polluting, walking in the blacke and darke night after the strange Woman, or what other sinne soe∣uer doth reigne in him, and retaine him strongliest in the de∣uils slauerie. But because it is not the worke of the Word, humbling him soundly vnder Gods mighty hand, planting faith, and infusing mortifying power, he is not able to hold out long; but the vncleane spirit returnes, and rules in him againe farre more imperiously, and sensually, out of indig∣nation of its discontinuance, and proportionally to the par∣ties new- collected strength, and eagernesse, to recommit it, after his extraordinary, and impatient forbearance. I know, it is not impossible, but that a man, after his conuersion, by the sudden surprizall of some violent temptation, and cunning traine of Satan, may bee haled backe to commit his sweete sinne againe; especially if it bee of some nature, (though it be a very heauy case, and to bee lamented, if it were possible, with teares of blood:) yet hee neuer doth, nor can returne to wallow in it againe, or allow it. After such a dreadfull re∣lapse, his heart bleeds afresh with extraordinarie bitternesse of penitent remorse, hee abhors himselfe in dust and ashes, as exceedingly vile, cries more mightily vnto God in a day of humiliation, for the returne of his pleased countenance, re∣paires and fortifies the breach with stronger resolution, and more inuincible watchfulnesse, against future assaults, and all assayes of re-entry. But now the temporarie I talke of, after his formall enforced forbearance, engulphs himselfe againe, with more greedinesse, into the pleasures and sensualitie of his bosome sinne, lies, and delights in it againe, as the very life of his life, and hardens himselfe more obstinately in it, as a thing impossible to leaue, and liue with any comfort.
Vpon his returne, the vncleane spirit r•…ges more then be∣fore.*
Thus to lend thee some light, for a more full discouerie, and thorow disintanglement out of its pleasing snares; I haue intimated briefly what a beloued sinne is; what thine may bee; and how thou mayest bee deceiued about it. For if thou wouldest truely taste how gracious, and glorious the Lord is in a sweet communion with His blessed Maiestie; if thou wouldest be intimately acquainted with the mystery of Christ, wherein are hid infinite heauenly treasures, and such pleasures, as neither eye hath seene, nor eare heard, neither*hath entred into the heart of man; if thou wouldest euer bee fitly qualified to walke humbly with thy God in the way which is called Holy; as thou must fall out for euer with all finne, so must thou principally and impartially improoue all thy spirituall forces, and aide from heauen, vtterly to demolish and beate to the ground the deuils Castle; to dethrone and depose from its hellish tyrannie ouer thee, that grand impoi∣soner of thy soule, and strongest barre to keepe out grace, all acquaintance, and sweetest entercourse with God; thy bosome sinne.
Take notice by the way, that sith wee concurrently, and constantly teach, that iustifying Faith doth purifie the heart from the raigne & allowance of any lust, or lewd course, and plants by the power of the holy Ghost, a sincere vniuersall new obedience, and regular respect to all Gods commande∣ments, to all good workes of Iustice, Mercy, and Truth; and that wee neither doe nor dare giue any comfort to any man of his being iustified and assured of Gods loue, that goes on impenitently in any one knowne sinne against his consci∣ence, hating to be reformed; I say, sith it is thus, take notice how vnworthily, & wrongfully, the Antichristian Doctors, hauing receiued foreheads from the Whore of Babylon, deale with vs in this point. Heare them speake:
So that their iustification, (meaning ours) saith aFitzh•…r∣bert, may according to their opinion, stand with all wicked∣nesse.
These words, saith bArnoux, (meaning of the French Confession) are set downe to assure the wickedst man that is, of the righteousnesse of the Sonne of God.
By the application of Christ’s satisfaction by faith, saith cLessius, he (meaning the Protestant) is reputed iust before God, though he finde no change of will at all within.
The skarlet Fathers in the Trentish Conuenticle, d say, that Luther from iustification by faith alone, collected, not onely that good workes are not necessarie, but also that a dissolute libertie in obseruing the Law of God, and of the Church, will serue the turne.
Bellar.e also comes in, with his videntur. They seeme, saith he, altogether to thinke, that a man may be saued, although hee doe no good workes, nor obserue Gods Commande∣ments. Which hee there onely seemes and assayes to proue, but indeed playes the calumniating Sophister.
The iustifying faith of the Aduersaries, saith f hee in ano∣ther place, takes clearely away Prayer, Sacraments, Good workes, and whatsoeuer God hath instituted for our salua∣tion.
The Protestants, saith gStapleton, will haue certainty of grace to be in a man, not onely without any respect, necessi∣tie, consequence, presence, or conueniencie of good workes, but also whatsoeuer sinnes being present.
The Rhemists also most slanderously affirme, that wee condemne Good workes, as vncleane, sinfull, hypocriti∣call.
iArnoldus also swels with malicious Popish poison, and the rancour of a slanderous spirit, when hee fathers vpon vs such falshoods as these: as though we should teach, that all men are bound to beleeue, that they are elected to eternall life: that we bid all wicked men be secure, as those who can fall from saluation by no villanies.
Now the Lord rebuke thee, Satan, who •…ittest with such extreme malice & falshood in the foule mouthes of the Po∣pish Proctours, and Rabshakehs of Rome, that they should with such prodigious lies and villanous slanders, reuile the Lords Champions, and traduce the glorious heauenly truth of our most holy and righteous Religion.
But to my purpose, and to conclude the point; Thou must either with a resolute and euerlasting diuorce abandon, and abominate thy bosome sinne, thy darling delight, to the pit of hell, whence it hath formerly receiued much enraged sen∣suall poison, to the wofull wasting of thy conscience, and the stronger, and longer barring thee from grace; or else thou must continue an euerlasting stranger from all communion and conuersing with God; thou shalt neuer be able to meet him in his Ordinances with true reuerence and delight, or looke him in the face with comfort at the last day.
II. Scorne with an infinite, and triumphant disdaine, to* serue the mighty Lord of heauen and earth, seruilely, slauish∣ly, or formally; for by-respects, priuate ends, or any thing, saue his owne sweet, gracious, glorious Selfe. Hate hypocri∣sie from the very heart-roote: Which foule fiend painting her selfe more vnobseruedly in the warme Sun, and shining prosperitie of the Gospels flourishing estate with an out∣ward gilt, and superficiall tincture, doth with greater varie∣tie, and stronger imposture, deceiue both mens owne soules, and others, in the glorious noone-tide thereof: Nay this great Agent for the Prince of darknesse, is so politicke and pragmatical, that he preuailes too much many times, euen in the declination of that glorious Sunne, in the disacceptation and dampe of profession and forwardnesse. For though at this day, Professours of the gracious Way bee in greatest disgrace with the most; and a drunkard, a swaggering Good-fellow, an Vsurer, a sonne or daughter of Belial, shall finde more fauour, applause, and approbation with the world, then a man which makes conscience of his wayes; so that it may seeme the greatest madnesse that may bee, to make profession of Religion hypocritically: yet euen in these times there are some causes, in which the deuill takes occasion to cause some to play the Hypocrites notoriously.
1. Some there may be, who being weake and worth∣lesse,* yet vaine- glorious, and ouer-greedy of reputation, fin∣ding, that they finde no such acceptation and applause with worldlings, by reason of their worthlesnesse, and that natu∣rall men entertaine them not with that estimation and ac∣count proportionable to their proud expectation; and con∣ceiuing also, that by their association, and siding with the Saints, (who in preciousnesse of regard, and dearenesse of loue, euer infinitely preferre the poorest Christian before the proudest Nimrod) (for one Larke is worth a thousand Kites) they shall be prized aboue vulgar esteeme, and ordinary va∣luation, purposely put on a vizour of outward conformity to the courses of Christianity, that thereby they may procure and purchase some speciall credit, and remarkable respect, and with some at least, bee accounted some body in the world.
2. Others there are, who seeing they cannot so easily and* excessiuely satisfie and glut their greedy humours, by their commerce, dealings, and mutuall negotiations with natu∣rall men; for such are well able with equall cunning, to coun∣ter-mine against their craftie and coozening vnderminings; their consciences will serue them to encouhter & retalliate their vnconscionablenesse, with like ouer-reaching retribu∣tions of circumuention and wrong; they can well enough sound and fathome with the crooked line of their owne de∣ceitfull hearts, the inuisible depths of their Machiuellian proiects and plots and knaue•…y; I say, others there are, who vpon such occasion, that they may thriue in the world, and grow in wealth more easily, and vnobseruedly, put on a cloke of outward profession, and in policie onely and hypo∣crisie draw towards the better side; mixe and ioyne them∣selues with Gods children, hang vpon, and adhere vnto true Christians; because they pitch vpon them, make speciall choice of, and single out such vpon purpose, as those, from whom, by reason of the singlenesse and simplicitie of their hearts, vnsuspiciousnesse of their charitie, the equitie, and conscionablenesse of their dealings, in these coozening, sup∣planting, and vndermining dayes, they may most fairely and easily sucke out the greatest aduantage, and prey vpon most plentifully, with the deuouring teeth of couetousnesse and craft, guilded ouer only with a vaile of seeming, and vernish of hypocrisie.
3. Some there may be, whom onely the very terrours, and sting of slauish feare, and fore-thought of the wrath and tor∣ment to come, may driue, and restraine from the execution of grosser villanies, excite and enchaine to the outward exer∣cises of holy duties, and many actual religious conformities. For instance, some may repaire to the House of God vpon the Lords Day, not for any such great loue vnto Gods Truth or conscionable Ministerie; but for feare, that being then a∣lone, or walking idlely abroad, their guilty consciences should worke more fearefully and fiercely vpon them; and that thoughts of their sinnes, death, hell, damnation, and other such terrible considerations would come into their mindes, with affrighting griesly formes, and apparitions of horrour. Some, it may be, for feare they should bee iustly censured, and marked out by men acquainted and experien∣ced in the mysterie of grace, and wayes of God, with the odious deserued brand of Prayerlesse, and Atheisticall * wretches; or lest they should bee seized vpon with some remarkeable iudgement, in their owne persons, families, or goods, by fire, robbery, tempest, ill successe, death, horrour, despaire, or other fearefull accident, dare not for their liues, but continue a course and formall taske of Prayer Euening and Morning in their houses. Some also, in times of trouble and terrour especially, as of extraordinarie thunders, impe∣tuous tempests, dreadfull apparitions in the ayre, &c. flie in∣to the company and communion of Christians, driuen thi∣ther by the fearefulnesse of their spirits, and hope to re∣ceiue protection of their guiltinesse, and preseruation from wrath, by the prayers, presence, and acceptation of such ho∣ly Ones. Wee see in mens carriages to humane lawes, that euen feare of them restraines many from many lawlesse out∣rages, and constraines to many ciuill conformities, against which their sensuall hearts and humours doe infinitely rise and reclaime, with much distaste and auersion. Doe you not thinke, that many drunkards would as well liue in murther, and vpon the spoile, as in their present abominable swinish∣nesse; did they not hold it a more horrible thing to be han∣ged, than to pay fiue shillings, or sit in the stocks? Would not many at Sermon time, rather be in the Ale-house, than in the House of God, were not the constitutions of men a curbe vnto their corruptions? Would not some desperate wretches as well strike thorow at once, and quite dispatch those they hate, as kill them all the yeere long, with their cruell thoughts and bloody malice; were not thought free, and actuall murther death by the lawes of men? Would not many malicious Papists, thinke you, as well speake traite∣rously of the King, as teare Gods glorious name with their oathes, and blasphemous tongues; were they not terrified with feare of Tyburne? It may be so proportionably in mens behauiours towards diuine Lawes, the holy Statutes of Heauen, and that highest Tribunall. But as in the former we ought to be subiect, not onely for wrath, but also for conscience*sake: so in the latter much more, not onely for terrour of Gods Iudgements; but also for loue of His Truth.
A worthy Diuine summes vp all I would say in this point, thus: Sometimes, saith he, the feare of Gods Iudgements, as of the racke of an accusing conscience, of the torments of hell▪ fire, &c. holdeth men in a slauish obedience.
I feare me, there are too many abroad in the world, espe∣cially great Ones, who by forbearance of other grosse sinnes, to which their sensuall affections are not so endeared, out∣ward performance of some holy duties, formall presence at religious exercises, countenancing, and patronage of godly Ministers and good men, hope to make amends, as it were, and to purchase protection and dispensation, for the ven∣geance due vnto the sinfull pleasures of some bosome and beloued lust wherein they secretly lie. And therefore their outside conformitie in other things, is caused by feare of be∣ing horribly and remarkably plagued for that close darling∣delight.
4 Others there are, who by reason of awefulnesse, vnto* correspondence with, dependance vpon, gainfull expectati∣on from some gracious great One, Christian friend, reuerend Pastour, Patrone, Land-lord, or Gouernour, religious rich kinred, &c, or other such by-respects, conforme to the out∣ward formes of Religion, and liue •…seruedly vnder the Ca∣nopie of a counterfeite profession. The false and hollow hearts of men, harbour many times, many priuate ends in their outward seruices of God, and howsoeuer they openly pretend Religion, yet they secretly intend, and plot the sa∣tisfaction of their humour, and seruing of their owne turnes, by an artificiall, enforced, temporarie taking part with the better part. Such seruile Professours as these, ordinarily in the meane time stand at a stay in an externall conformitie to Christian courses; for no spirituall▪life warmes their affecti∣ons, no roote of grace growes in their hearts: Formalitie in this kinde, is euer voide of all vitall vigour, vegetation, and actiuitie; constant onely in an heartlesse plodding course and coldnesse; and many times, at length, when the motiue of their religious representations and shewes is remooued, and the end compassed, for which they counterfeited, they put off their vizours, and appeare againe plaine carnall men, and downe-right good- fellowes, as they were before. The Play being done, they are Rogues againe▪
5. Some there may be, who out of a greedy pursuite of a generall applause from all sorts of men▪ and ambitious hun∣ting after a promi•…uous reputation, and equall acceptance, both with Professours of Religion, and men of this world, put on a show of religious deportment, at least, in the com∣pany of such as are ready and forward to commend their cō∣formitie and forwardnesse that way, and by relation abroad, to enrole their names amongst the number of those who are noted to be on the best side. In a word, such fellowes as these, out of a base and vnblessed ambition to be well spo∣ken of by all, though a woe waites vpon such, Luke 6. 26. furnish themselues, both with a forme of profession to con∣tent Christians, and flourishes of good-fellowship to please the prophane.
6. Others there are, who may gloriously pretend, and protest with great brauery and confidence, their assent and assistance to the best and holiest courses; put on a tempora∣ry counterfeite profession, and fashionable conformity to the communion of Saints; that thereby they may passe more fairely and plausibly, out of one calling into another: from a baser, lower, more neglected, and toilesome Trade, into some other of more liberty, acceptation and ease: or else breake out of all Callings; and so, by the vnhallowed my∣stery of a sacred coozening, if I may so call it, liue vpon their profession; and by amusing the tender consciences of weake Christians, with the controuling and countermanding ty∣rannies, as it were, of an affected furious zeale, sucke out of them no small aduantage, and prey too plentifully vpon the people of God. Such as these, are ready to pretend, and intimate, that such base, earthly, and worldly imployment, and spending of their time, is disgracefull, and derogatory to the prouidence of God, and their Christian liberty: that with vnworthy detainments, and auocations, it interrupts them in the pursuite of their generall Calling; disables and hinders them in the discharge of holy duties. But let them know, that Christianity, if sound and true, doth not nullifie, but sanctifie our particular Callings. Thou oughtest to con∣tinue with conscionablenesse and constancy in that personall Calling, wherein thy calling to grace did finde the•…, if it be warrantable and lawfull. See 1. Cor. 7. 20. * No comfor∣table change of a Calling, but in case of 1. priuate necessity, or 2. common Good: and that truly so, not hypocritically pretended, or for by-respects.
If any man then, vpon giuing his name to Religion, shall grow into neglect, distaste, or dereliction of his honest par∣ticular Calling; wee may euer strongly suspect him of hol∣lownesse and hypocrisie. It is the confident conclusion of a very learned and holy Diuine:
Though a man bee indued with excellent gifts, and bee able*to speake well, conceiue Prayer, and with some reuerence to heare the Word, and receiue the Sacraments, yet if hee practise not the duties of godlinesse within his owne Calling, all is but hy∣pocrisie.
1. What sonne or daughter of Adam can challenge and plead exemption from that common charge laid vpon them by the Lord of Heauen: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eate*bread, till thou returne vnto the ground; Either by trauaile of body, or toyle of minde, or both?
2. Diligence in a ciuill Calling, is necessary for a comfort∣able prouision of earthly necessaries.
3. Hee is a cursed Drone, a child of idlenesse and sloth, the very Tennis-ball of temptation, most vnworthy the blessings and benefits of humane societie; who doeth not one way or other cooperate, as it were, and contribute to the common Good, with his best endeauours in some ho∣nest particular Calling.
4. A seasonable imployment in a ciuill Calling, is a So∣ueraigne preseruatiue, and curbe for preuention of infinite swarmes of idle, melancholike, and exorbitant thoughts; and for restraint from many wicked and vnwarrantable medlings and miscarriages.
5. An honest Calling, is a Schoole of Christianitie. In which a man performing duties for the Lords sake, may dai∣ly profit in the practise and increase of many heauenly gra∣ces; Faith, Obedience, Patience, Meekenesse, Constancie, Truth, Fidelitie, Inuocation, Thanksgiuing, experience of Gods prouidence, &c.
A true Conuert therefore is so farre from casting off his personall Calling; that after his calling to Christianitie, he is woont to discharge the duties thereof with farre more care and conscience, though with a better minde, more moderate affections, and for a blesseder end.
7. Some there may bee, who seeing the iniquity of these last, and worst times, lying in weight for the surprize and suppression of forwardnesse and zeale; and that they may gaine, or grow into credit with the world by some speciall seruice against the forwarder sort, serue themselues,* in the meane time (plausiblenesse of profession taking away the sense of their intrusion) into the company and commu∣nion of the most noted religious people; that at length they may doe them the more mischiefe, and driue to the head the bitternesse of their lurking malice, with a more desperate and deadly sting. These are men of great imposture and cunning in their carriage. They informe themselues tho∣rowly, and exactly, in the wayes and zealous behauiour of Profession; and so with great satisfaction and contentment, apply and accommodate themselues for a time to their de∣sires and deuotions. But if once they pry into a point of see∣ming aduantage, which by their wresting & outfacing, may create matter of molestation, and spy their supposed season, to winne by betraying; they turne Turkes and traitors to those which are true of heart, to serue their owne turnes.
8. Many there are, who out of a fond and groundlesse* conceit, that onely an outward conformitie to the Word, Sa∣craments, and other religious exercises, will serue their turne for saluation, giue their names to profession, and so walke on plodding in the comfortlesse vnzealous formes of a frozen outside Christianity, many times euen vnto their dying day. These men marre, and vnsanctifie themselues, by making moderation in Religion a Saint: and vndoe their soules, by adoring discretion as an Idoll. Moderation and discretion truly so called, and rightly defined by the rules of God, are blessed and beautifying ornaments to the best and most zea∣lous Christians; but being tempered with their coldnesse, and edged with their eagernesse against forwardnesse, and ferue•…cy in spirit, which the Apostle enioynes, a Rom. 12.
11. become the very desperate cut-throates to the power of god∣linesse, and pestilent consumption of the spirits, heart, and life of true zeale. These fellowes are most insolent, and confident in their Pharisaicall brags, spirituall security, and hopes for Heauen. They admire, and applaude with much selfe-esti∣mation of ther singular skill, and rare felicitie, in pitching iust vpon the golden meane, as they conceiue, betweene pro∣phanenesse and precisenesse; infamous notoriousnesse, and persecuted strictnesse. But that Prouerbe, in the meane time falls pat vpon their pates: There is a generation that are pure in*their owne eyes: and yet is not washed from their filthinesse: And at length most certainely, the iust execution of that terrible commination, Reuel. 3. 16. will crush their hearts with euer∣lasting horrour, confusion and woe.
But I should be endlesse in the discouery of this hidden and hellish gulph of hypocrisie, wherein thousands are swal∣lowed vp, euen in this glorious Mid- day of the Gospell. For a man may assoone find out the way of an Eagle in the Ayre, the way of a Serpent vpon a Rocke, the way of a Ship in the midst of the Sea, and the way of a man with a maid, as to tracke the cunning and crooked footsteps of this foule fiend in the false hearts of Satans followers. Only take notice, that thou canst neuer possibly delight in God, or euer comfortably come neere him, if thou giue any entertainment vnto it, in what forme soeuer it represent it selfe, or whatsoeuer vizor it offers vnto thee, though neuer so fairely varnished, and guilded ouer with the Deuils angelicall glory.
III. Build, and erect all thy resolutions and conclusions for Heauen and Gods seruice, vpon that strong and purest pillar, that maine, and most precious b Principle of Christia∣nitie, Selfe-deniall. No walking with God, no sweete com∣munion, and sound peace at his Mercy-Seate, except for his sake, and keeping a good conscience, thou be content to de∣nie thy selfe, thy worldly wisdome, naturall wit, carnall rea∣son, acceptation with the world, excellencie of learning, fauour of great Ones, credit and applause with the most; thy passions, profit, pleasures, preferment, neerest friends, ease, libertie, life, euery thing, any thing. And feare no losse; for all things else are nothing, to the least comfortable glimpse of Gods pleased face.
From this Principle sprung all those noble resolutions, and replies of Gods worthiest Saints and Souldiers: That of He∣ster for the preseruation of the people of God: Well, saith she, I wil goe in vnto the King, which is not according to the law,*and if I perish, I perish. That of Micaiah, sollicited strongly by the messenger to temporize, in managing his Ministery with sutablenesse, and conformity to the Kings pleasure, and plau∣siblenesse of the false prophets: As the Lord liueth, what the*Lord saith vnto mee, that will I speake. That of Nehemiah; Should such a man as I flee? As if he should haue said; Tell* not mee of fleeing, my resolution was pitcht long agoe, if need require, to lay downe my life, and lose my blood in the Lords battels. That of Paul, when his friends were weeping, and wailing about him: What meane you to weepe, said hee,*and to breake mine heart? For I am ready, not to be bound onely, but also to die at Hierusalem, for the name of the Lord Iesus. That of Ierome: If my father stood weeping on his knees before mee, and my mother hanging on my necke behind me, and all my brethren, sisters, children, kinsfolke, howling on euery side, to retaine me in sinfull life with them; I would fling my mother to the ground, despise all my kinred, run ouer my father, and tread him vnder my feet, thereby to run to Christ when hee calleth me. That of Luther, dealt with, earnestly, and eagerly, not to ven∣ture himselfe amongst a number of perfidious, and blood∣thirstie Papists: As touching me (saith he) since I am sent for, I*am resolued, and certainely determined to enter Wormes in the Name of our Lord Iesus Christ; yea, although I knew there were so many Deuils to resist me, as there are tiles to couer the houses in Wormes. That of a most renowned Italian Marquesse, Ga∣leacius Carracciolus, tempted by a Iesuite with a great sum of money, to returne from Gods Blessing at Geneua, to the warme Sunne in Italy: Let their money perish with them, who*esteeme all the Gold in the world, worth one dayes societie with Iesus Christ, and his holy Spirit. That of George Carpenter, Martyr: My wife and my children are so dearely beloued vn∣to*me, that they cannot bee bought from mee, for all the riches and possessions of the Duke of Bauaria: but for the loue of my Lord God, I will willingly forsake them. That of Kilian, a Dutch Schoole-master, to such as asked him, if he loued not his wife and children; Yes, said he, If the world were Gold, and were mine to dispose of, I would giue it to liue with them, though it were but in prison; yet my soule and Christ are dearer to me then all.
IV. Exercise thy selfe continually, and bee excellent in that onely Heauen vpon Earth, and sweetest Sanctuarie to* an hunted soule, the Life of faith. Which to liue in some good measure, is the duty and property of euery liuing mem∣ber of Christ Iesus. Loue therefore, and labour to liue by the power of faith, the life of saluation, sanctification, preser∣uation. 1. Of saluation, thus: Let thy truely-humbled soule, grieued and groaning vnder the burden of sinne, throw it self into the meritorious, and merciful armes of Iesus Christ, wounded, broken, and bleeding vpon the Crosse; and there let it hold, and hide it selfe for euer in full assurance of eter∣nall life, by vertue of that promise, Ioh. 3. 36. Hee that belee∣ueth on the Son, hath euerlasting life. For hauing thus laid hold vpon him, He by his Spirit doth communicate first himselfe vnto thee; then both the merit of his death for remission of thy sinnes; and of his actiue obedience for thy right to sal∣uation and happinesse; and withall, the power of his Spirit, to quicken thee to the life of grace in this World, and to raise vp thy body to the life of glory at the last day. 2. Of sanctification: If thou keepe thy faith, the fountaine, roote and heart, as it were, from which all thine other graces spring, in life and vigour, thou shalt pray more comforta∣bly, bee more couragiously patient, heare the Word more fruitfully, receiue the Sacraments more ioyfully, passe the Sabbaths more delightfully, conferre more cheerefully, me∣ditate more heauenly, walke in all the wayes of new obedi∣ence with more strength, and conquest ouer corruptions. For ordinarily, euery Christian shall finde the exercise of other graces to bee comfortable, or cold, according to the liueli∣nesse, or languishing of his faith. 3. Of preseruation, both temporall and spirituall.
In crosses, afflictions, and all Gods outward angry visita∣tions, by the power of such promises, as those, Psal. 89. 33. and 50. 15. Heb. 12. 7, 8, 11. 1. Thes. 3. 3. Act. 14. 22. Luke 9. 23. Isai. 63. 9.
In the course and carriage of thy particular Calling: the duties and workes whereof, if thou discharge with consci∣ence, diligence, and prayer, thou mayest goe on with com∣fort, contentment, and freedome from that torturing and racking thoughtfulnesse; from those restlesse and cursed carkings of carnal worldlings, wherein they basely languish, and lose their soules; and leaue the successe, issue, and euent of all thy labours and vndertakings vnto the Lord, what∣soeuer it may bee, resting sweetly, and euer relying vpon that gracious promise, Heb. 13. 5. I will neuer faile thee, nor forsake thee.
In ordering and guiding the affaires of thy family, de∣pend by faith vpon Gods blessing, the strength and sinew of all sound comfort, and true contentation that way. See Psal. 127.
In the losse of outward things for thy loue, and seruice vnto God; by beleeuing that Man of God, 2. Chron. 25. 9. The Lord is able to giue thee much more then this.
Nay, in the losse of all earthly things in euery kind: see Habac. 3. 17, 18.
Although the fig-tree shall not blossome, neither shall fruit be in the Vines: the labour of the Oliue shall faile, and the fields shall yeeld no meate, the flocke shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalles: yet I will reioyce in the Lord: I will ioy in the God of my saluation. Consider also for this purpose, Iobs patient blessing of God vpon the sur∣prize and concurrence of an vniuersall misery, Iob 1. 21.
In pangs of the New-birth, spirituall infancy, weakenesses of faith, prayer, godly sorrow, and other graces; by those cordiall refreshing promises, Reu. 21. 6. Math. 5. 6. Isa. 42. 3. and 40. 11. and 57. 15.
In oppositions against the raising or restauration of spiri∣tuall buildings by the Ministery of the Word: or in tempta∣tions against a mans personall progresse, and holding out against Gods waies vnto the end; by renouncing our owne strength, disclaiming the arme of flesh, and crying in euery encounter: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith*the Lord of Hoasts, What art thou, O great mountaine, &c?
In languishings and tremblings after relapse into some old, or fall into some new sinne; by such precious places as these: 1. Ioh. 2. 1. Luk. 17. 4. 1. Sam. 12. 20. 1. Iohn 1. 9. From this last place a reuerend Diuine collects this comfort: If we see our vnworthinesse, and with broken hearts acknowledge it, God is faithfull and iust to forgiue it, bee it neuer so great. But this is a iewell fit onely for the eare of a sincere Christi∣an, when out of the fearefulnesse of his distrustfull spirit, he puts off all comfort, though truely humbled, after ensnare∣ment in some more speciall affrighting sinne. Let no swine trample vpon it.
In all kindes of temptations, by the power of that pro∣mise, 1. Cor. 10. 13.
Nay, euen amidst varietie of them by obeying that precept, Iam. 1. 2. My brethren, count it all ioy when you fall into diuers temptations.
In spirituall desertion, by refreshing, and resting thy sink∣ing soule, in the meane time vntill the Lord returne, vpon that surest Rocke, Isa. 30. 18. Blessed are all they that waite for him. Most blessed, deare, and sweetest Sanctuary! If the Christian die in that waiting state, he shall be certainely sa∣ued: For the holy Ghost pronounceth him blessed.
In the deepe, and almost despairing apprehensions of thine extreme vilenesse, and, as it were, nothingnesse in grace, by apprehending that most mercifull promise from Gods owne mouth, Isa. 43. 25.
In thy perplexed and troubled thoughts about returneafter backsliding; by those comfortable encouragements, Ier. 3. 1, 12, 13, 14, 22. Hos. 14. 1, 2, 4.
In doubts of losing the loue of God, and life of Grace; by consideration of those passages in Gods Booke, where it ap∣peares, that the loue of God vnto his child, in respect of ten∣dernesse, and constancy, is infinitely dearer then that of a most louing mother to her little one, Isai. 49. 15. stronger then the stony Mountaines, and Rocks of flint, Isa. 54. 10. as constant as the courses of the Sunne, and of the Moone, and of the Starres, and of the day, and of the night, Ier. 31. 36. and 33. 20. nay, as sure, as God himselfe, Psal. 89. 33, 34, 35.
In the Haile▪ stormes of slanderous arrowes, and empoy∣soned darts of disgrace, by cleauing to most glorious promi∣ses, 1. Pet. 4. 14. Mat. 5. 11.
In the valley of the shadow of death; by an assurance of Gods mercifull omnipotent presence, Psal. 23. 4.
In the extremitie & depth of such desperate distresses, and perplexities; wherein in thy present feeling, thou canst see, and find no possibilitie of helpe from Heauen or Earth, God or Man; but art both helpelesse and hopelesse, as the Church complaines, Lam. 3. 18. by such like places as those, Isai. 33. 9, 10. 2. Chron. 20. 12. Gen. 22. 14. Exod. 14. 13. Psal. 78. 65.
In euery thing, or any thing that shall, or can possibly befall thee; prosperitie, or pouertie; crosse, or comfort; calmnesse of conscience, or tempests of terror; life or death, &c. by extracting abundance of vnconquerable patience, and peace of soule, from those three heauenly golden con∣duits of sweetest comfort, Rom. 8. ver. 18, 28, 32.
Thus in any trouble of soule, body, good name, outward state, present, or to come; thou mayest by the soueraigne power of faith working vpon the Word, not onely draw out the sting, and expell the poison of it; but also create a great deale of comfort to thy truly-humbled soule, and maintaine it in despite of all mortall or infernall opposition, in a con∣stant spirituall gladnesse. For all those promises, whereupon thy heauy heart in such cases may repose, and refresh it selfe, haue their being from the blessed name Iehoua: see, Exo. 6. 3. and therefore are as sure, as God himselfe: they are sealed with the bloody sufferings of his onely Sonne, and therefore as true, as truth it selfe: and, if thou be in Christ, are all as cer∣tainely thine, as the heart in thy body, or blood that runnes in thy veines. Nay, and a little more for thy comfort, the glory of Gods truth is mightily aduanced, and himselfe ex∣traordinarily pleased, by thy more resolute, stedfast, and tri∣umphant cleauing vnto them. What a blessed, sweete, and heauenly life then is the life of faith?
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. ~ 1 John 3:3, 6, 9