Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
~ Titus 1:15, Hebrews 11:6
And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
~ Exodus 4:11-12, Jeremiah 1:9
And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
~ John 7:15-17
And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
~ Genesis 6:7-8
Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
~ Genesis 19:19
And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
~ Exodus 33:17
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.
~ 1 Samuel 2:26
But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
~ 1 Samuel 16:7
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
~ Isaiah 6:5
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
~ Jeremiah 1:5
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
~ Galatians 1:15
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
~ Romans 6:22
The Whole Treatise of the Cases of Conscience, Distinguished into Three Bookes: The first whereof is revised and corrected in sundrie places, and the other two annexed. Taught and delivered by William Perkins in his Holy-day Lectures, carefully examined by his owne briefes, and now published together for the common good, by T. Pickering Batchelour of Diuinitie. Whereunto is adioyned a twofold Table: one of the Heads and Number of the Questions propounded and resolved; another of the principall Texts of Scripture which are either explaned, or vindicated from corrupt interpretation. 1592.
The following contains Chapter Five and an excerpt from Chapter Six.
And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
~ Rom. 14. 23
The Lord God hath given me a tongue of the learned, that I should know, to minister a word in due time, to him that is wearie.
~ Isaiah, 50. 4
Of the first maine Question touching Man.
I. Question. What must a man doe, that he may come into God’s favour, and be saved?
For answer to this Question, some Groundes must be laid downe beforehand. The first is this; That we must consider and remember, how and by what meanes, God brings any man to salvation. For looke how God saveth others; so he that would know how to be saved, must use the meanes whereby God saveth them.
In the working and effecting of Mans salvation, ordinarily there are two special actions of God: the giving of the first grace, and after that, the giving of the second. The former of these two works, hath X. severall actions. I. God gives man the outward meanes of salvation, specially the Ministerie of the word: and with it, he sends some outward or inward crosse, to breake and sub due the stubbornnesse of our nature, that it may be made plyable to the will of God. This we may see in the example of the Iaylour, Act. 16. and of the Jewes that were converted at Peter’s sermon, Act. 2. II. This done, God brings the minde of man to a consideration of the Law, and therein generally to see what is good, and what is evill, what is sinne, and what is not sinne. III. upon a serious consideration of the Law, he makes a man particularly to see and know, his owne peculiar and proper sinnes, whereby he offends God. IV. upon the sight of sinne, he smites the heart with a Legall feare, whereby when man seeth his sinnes, he makes him to feare punishment and hell, and to despaire of salvation, in regard of any thing in himselfe.
Now these foure actions, are indeede no fruits of grace, for a Reprobate may goe thus farre; but they are onely workes of preparation going before grace; the other actions which follow, are effects of grace. V. The fifth action of grace therefore is, to stirre up the minde to a serious consideration, of the promise of salvation propounded and published in the Gospel. VI. After this, the sixt is, to kindle in the heart, some seedes or sparks of faith, that is, a will and desire to beleeve, and grace to strive against doubting & dispaire. Now at the same instant, when God beginnes to kindle in the heart, any sparkes of faith, then also he justifies the sinner, and withall begins the worke of sanctification. VII. Then, so soone as faith is put into the heart, there is presently a combat: for it fighteth with doubting, dispaire, and distrust. And in this combate, faith shews it selfe, by fervent, constant, & earnest invocation for pardon: and after invocation followes a strength and prevailing of this desire. VIII. Furthermore, God in mercie quiets and settles the Conscience, as touching the salvation of the soule, and the promise of life, where upon it resteth and staieth it selfe. IX. Next after this setled assurance, & perswasion of mercy, followes a stirring up of the heart to Euangelicall sorrow, according to God, that is, a griefe for sinne, because it is sinne, and because God is offended: and then the Lord workes repentance, wherby the sanctified heart turnes it selfe unto him. And though this repentance be one of the last in order, yet it shewes it selfe first: as when a candle is brought into a roome, we first see the light before wee see the candle, and yet the candle must needs be, before the light can be. X. Lastly, God gives a man grace to endeavour, to obey his commaundements by a new obedience. And by these degrees, doth the Lord give the first grace.
The second worke of God tending to salvation, is the giving of the second grace: which is nothing else, but the continuance of the first grace given. For looke as by creation, God gave a beeing to man & all other creatures, and then by his providence continued the same beeing, which was as it were a second creation; so in bringing a man to salvation, God gives the first grace, for example, to beleeve & repent, & then in mercie gives the second, to persevere & continue in faith and repentance to the end. And this, if we regard man himselfe, is very necessary; For as fire without supply of matter, wherby it is fedde & continued, would soone goe out; so unlesse God of his goodnesse, should followe his children, and by new and daily supplies, continue his first grace in thee, they would undoubtedly soone loose the same, & finally fall away.
The second Ground for the answere of this Question, is taken from some speciall places of Scripture, where the same is mooved and resolved. The men that were at Peter’s sermon, being touched with the sense of their owne miserie, upon the doctrine which had beene delivered, as the Holy Ghost saies, were pricked in their hearts, and cried one to an other: Men & brethren, what shall we doe? Peter mooved by the spirit of God answers them, Repent, and be baptised for the remission of your sinnes. The like was the case of the Iaylor, who, after that the stubbornnesse of his heart was beaten downe, by feare of the departure of the prisoners, he came trembling, and fell downe before Paul and Silas, and mooved this question unto them; Sirs, what must I doeto be saved? to whome they gave answer, beleeve in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thine houshold. The young man in the Gospel sues to Christ, and askes him, What shall I doe to be saved? Christs answers him, Keepe the Commandements. When he replied that he had kept them from his youth, Christ tels him, that he must goe yet further, and sell all that he hath, and give to the poore. And John tells the Scribes and Pharises, who came unto his Baptisme, and confessed their sinnes, that if they would flie from the wrath to come, they must repent, and bring forth fruitsworthie amendment of life. From these places then, I frame this answer to the Question in hand. The man that would stand in the favour of God and be saved, must doe foure things: first, humble himselfe before God: secondly, beleeve in Christ: thirdly, repent of his sinnes: fourthly, performe new obedience unto God.
For the first. Humiliation is indeode a fruit of faith: yet I put it in place before faith, because in practise it is first. Faith lieth hid in the heart, and the first effect whereby it appeares, is the abasing and humbling of our selves. And here we are further to consider three points: first, wherein stands humiliation: secondly, the excellencie of it: thirdly, the Questions of conscience that concerne it.
Touching the first point, Humiliation stands in the practise of three things. The first is, a sorrow of heart, whereby the sinner is displeased with himself, & ashamed in respect of his sinnes. The second is, a confession to god, wherin also three things are to be done: first, to acknowledge all our maine sinnes originall and actuall: secondly, to acknowledge our guiltinesse before God: thirdly, to acknowledge our just damnation for sinne. The third thing in Humiliation, is supplication made to God for mercie, as earnestly as in a matter of life and death: and of these three things we have in Scripture the examples of Ezra, Daniel, and the prodigall sonne, Ezra 9. Dan. 9. Luk. 15. 18.
The second point is, the excellencie of Humiliation, which stands in this, that it hath the promises of life eternall annexed to it, Esa. 57. 15. I dwell in the high and holy place: with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to give life to them that are of a contrite heart. Psal. 51. 17. A contrite and a broken heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Prov. 28. 13. He that hideth his sinnes shall not prosper: but he that confesseth and forsaketh them, shall finde mercie, 1. Joh. 1. 9. If we acknowledge our sinnes, he is faithfull and just, to forgive us our sinnes, and to clense us from all unrighteousnes. By all these and many other places, it is manifest, that in the very instant, when a sinner beginnes truly in heart and conscience to humble himselfe, he is then entred into the state of salvation. So soone as David said, I have sinned, Nathan pronounceth in the name of the Lord, that his sinnes were put away. And David himselfe saith, alluding to the former place, I said I will confesse my sinne, and loc, thou forgavest the wickednes of my sinne. When the Prodigall sonne had but said, I will goe to my father, &c. even then, before he humbled himselfe, his father meetes him, and receives him.
The third point, is touching the Questions of conscience, concerning Humiliation, all which may be reduced to foure principall Cases.
I. Case. What if it fall out, that a man in humbling himselfe, cannot call to minde either all, or the most of his sinnes? I answer; A particular humiliation indeed is required, for maine and knowne sinnes: but yet there are two cases, wherein generall repentance, will be accepted of God for unknowne sinnes. One is, when a man hath searched himselfe diligently, and by a serious examination, passed through all the commaundements of God, and yet after such examination and search made, his particular offences are yet hidden and not revealed unto him, so as he cannot call them to remembrance; then the generall repentance is accepted. For this is answerable to the practise of David, who after long search, when he could not attaine to the knowledge of his particular slippes, then he addresseth himselfe to a generall humiliation, saying, Who knoweth the errours of this life? clense me, Lord, from my secret faults: and upon this, he was no doubt accepted. Againe, when a man humbleth himselfe, and yet is prevented by the time, so as he cannot search his heart and life, as he would: his generall repentance will be taken and accepted of God. The truth hereof appeares in the theefe upon the crosse, who having no time to search himselfe, made no speciall humiliation, yet upon his generall confession he was accepted. Now the ground of this doctrine is this; He that truly repents of one sinne, in this case when he is prevented: is, as if he repented of all.
II. Case. What must a man doe, that findes himselfe hard hearted, and of a dead spirit, so as he cannot humble himselfe as he would? Answ. Such persons, if they humble themselves, they must be content with that grace which they have received. For if thou be truly and unfainedly grieved for this, that thou canst not be grieved, thy humiliation shall be accepted. For that which Paul saith of almes, may be truly said in this case, that if there be a readie minde, a man shall be accepted, according to that he hath, and not according to that he hath not.
III. Case. Whether the party that is more grieved for losse of his friend, then for offēce of God by his sinne, doeth or can truly humble himselfe? Answ. A man may have a greater griefe for an earthly losse, then for the other, and yet be truly grieved for his sinnes too. The reason is, because that is a bodily, naturall, and sensible losse, and accordingly sorrow for it is naturall. Now the sorrow for the offending of God, is no sensible thing, but supernaturall and spirituall; and sensible things doe more affect & urge the minde, then the other. David did notably humble himselfe for his sinnes, and he did exceedingly mourne for the losse of his sonne Absolom, yea and more too then for his sinnes, Would God I had died for thee Absolom, OAbsolom my sonne, my sonne, &c. Againe I answer, that the sorrow of the minde, must be measured by the intention of the affection, & by the estimation of the thing for which we sorrow. Now sorrow for sinne, though it be lesse in respect of the intention thereof; yet is it greater in respect of the estimation of the mind, because they which truly mourn for their sins, grieve for the offence of God, as the greatest evill of all; and for the losse of the favour of God, as for losse of the most excellent & pretious thing in the world.
IV. Case. Whether it be necessarie in Humiliation, that the heart should be smitten with a sensible sorrow? Answer. I. In sorrow for sinne, ther are two things: first, to be displeased for our sinns; secondly, to have a bodily moouing of the heart, which causeth crying and teares. The former of these is necessarie, namely, in heart to be deepely displeased with our selves: the latter is not simply necessary, though it be commendable in whomsoever it is, if it be in truth; for Lydia had the first, but not the second. II. It falleth out oftētimes, that the greatnes of the grief, taketh away the sensible paine, and causeth a mummednesse of the heart, so that the partie grieveth not. III. Sometimes the complexion will not affoard teares: and in such there may be true humiliation, though with drie cheekes.
The Secōd thing to be done for the attaining of God’s favour, and confequently of saluatiō, is to beleeve in Christ. In the practise of a Christian life, the duties of humiliation & faith cannot be severed, yet for doctrines sake, I distinguish them. In Faith ther are two things required, and to be performed on our behalfe. First, to know the points of religion, and namely the summe of the Gospel, especially the promise of righteousnes and life eternall by Christ. Secondly, to apprehend and applie the promise, and withall the thing promised, which is Christ, unto our selves; and this is done, when a man upon the commandmēnt of God, sets down this with himselfe, that Christ and his merits belong unto him in particular, and that Christ is his wisdome, justification, sanctification, and redemption. This doctrine is plaine out of the sixt of John: for Christ is there propounded unto us, as the bread and the water of life. Therefore faith must not be idle in the braine, but it must take Christ and applie him unto the soule and conscience, even as meate is eaten.
The Questions of Conscience touching Faith are these. First, how we may truly applie Christ, with all his benefits unto our selves? For wicked men applie Christ unto themselves falsely, in presumption, but fewe doe it truly, as they ought to doe. I answer, That this may be done, we must remember to doe two things. First, lay downe a foundation of this action, and then practise upon it. Our foundation must be laid in the word, or else we shall faile in our application, and it consists of two principles. The one is; As God gives a promise of life eternall by Christ, so he gives commandement, that every one in particular, should applie the promise to himselfe. The next is, that the Ministerie of the word, is an ordinarie meanes, wherein God doth offer, and applie Christ with all his benefits to the hearers, as if he called them by their names; Peter, John, Cornelius, beleeve in Christ, and thou shalt be saved. When we have rightly considered of our foundation: the Second thing is, to practise upon it, and that is, to give our selves to the exercises of faith and repentance; which stand in meditation of the Word, and prayer for mercie and pardon: and when this is done, then God gives the sense and increase of his grace. When Lydia was hearing the Sermon of Paul, then God opened her heart, Act. 16. v. 12.
Secondly, it is demaunded: When faith beginnes to breede in the heart, and when a man beginnes to beleeve in Christ? Answ. When he beginnes to be touched in conscience for his owne sinnes, and withall hungers and thirsts after Christ, and his righteousnes, then beginneth faith. The reason is plaine. As faith is renewed, so it is begunne; but it is renewed when a man is touched in conscience for his sinnes, and beginnes a new to hunger after Christ; therefore when these things first shew themselves, then faith first beginnes. For these were the things that were in David, when he renewed his repentance.
The third dutie necessarie to salvation, is Repentance. In which, two things are to be considered; the beginning, namely, a godly Sorrow, which is the beginning of Repentance, 2. Corinth. 7. and upon this sorrow a Change, which is indeede Repentance it selfe. In Sorrow we consider, first, the nature of it; secondly, the properties of it. Touching the nature of sorrow, it is either inward or outward. The inward sorrow, is when a man is displeased with himselfe for his sinnes. The outward, when the heart declares the griefe thereof by teares, or such like signes. And sorrow in this case, called a godly sorrow, is more to be esteemed by the first of these, then by the second. The propertie of this sorrow, is to make us to be displeased with our selves, for our sinnes directly, because they are sinnes, and doe displease God. If there were no judge, no hel, nor death, yet we must be grieved because we have offended, so mercifull a God and loving father. And as godly sorrow will make us thus to doe, so is it the next cause of repentance, and by this is repentance discerned.
The next thing in Repentance, is the Change of the minde and whole man in affection, life, and conversation. And this standeth in a constant purpose of the minde, and resolution of the heart, not to sinne, but in every thing to doe the will of God. Hereupon Paul exhorteth them, to whome he wrote, to continue in the Love of God, and in the obedience of his word. Barnabas when he came to Antioch, and had seene the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted all, that with purpose of heart they should cleave unto God, or continue with the Lord. So the Prophet Ezekiel saith, if the wicked will turne from all his sinnes,and keepe all my statutes, and doe that which is lawfull and right, he shall surely live and shall not die. In this purpose stands the very nature of repentance, and it must be joyned with humiliation and faith, as a third thing availeable to salvation, and not to be severed from them. For a man in shewe may have many good things: as for example, he may be humbled, and seeme to have some strength of faith; yet if there be in the saide man, a want of this purpose and resolution not to sinne, the other are but dead things, and unprofitable, and for all them, he may come to eternall destruction. Furthermore, we must distinguish this kinde of purpose, from the minde and purpose of carnall men, theeues, drunkards, harlots, usurers; for they will confesse their sinnes, and be sorie for them, yea and shed some teares, wishing they had never sinned as they have. In these men, indeed there is a wishing will for the time, but no setled purpose. And it is a propertie of nature to avoid evill, but to have a constant resolution of not sinning, is a gift of grace; and for this it is, that we must labour; otherwise our repentance, is no true and sound repentance.
The fourth and last dutie, is to performe New obedience unto God in our life and conversation. In this new obedience, three things are required. First, it must be a fruit of the spirit of Christ in us: for when we doe any good thing, it is Christ that doth it in us. To this purpose David praies unto God, Psal. 143. 10. Let thy good Spirit lead me forth into the land of righteousnes. And Paul exhorts the Galatians to walke in the Spirit; and then marke what followes; and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, Gal. 5. 16. Secondly, this new obedience must be the keeping of every commandement of God: for as S. James saith, He that breakes one commandement, is guiltie of all, that is, he that doth willingly and wittingly breake any commandement, and makes not conscience of some one, maketh not conscience of any, and before God he is as guiltie of all, as if he had broken all. Thirdly, in new obedience, the whole man must endeavour to keepe the whole law in his minde, will, affections, and all the faculties of soule and bodie. As it is said of Josiah, that he turned to God, according to all the lawes of Moses, with all his heart. This last point added to the rest is the very forme and life of new obedience, & from hence it followes; First, that the repentant person, must not live in the practise of any outward sinne. Secondly, that there must be in him, an inward resisting and restraining of the corruption of nature, and of the heart, that he may truly obey God, by the grace of the spirit of God. The heart of Joseph was readie prest, to resist the evill request of Potiphar’s wife. And David staid his affection from revenging himselfe upon Shemei, when he cursed him. Thirdly, that he ought to stirre up and exercise the inward man, by all spiritual motions of Faith, Joy, Love, Hope, and the praise of God.
Now touching this point, there are 2. principal Questions propoūded. First, How may a man frame his life to live in New-bedience?
Ans. Though all the bookes of the old and new Testament, are direction sufficient for a good life; yet a more speciall answer may be made out of the same, plainly and briefly. That, there are three maine grounds or rules of New Obedience. The first is laid downe by our Saviour Christ, Luk. 9. 23. If any man will come after me, let him denie himselfe, and take up his crosse, and follow me. The meaning is this; every one that will become a scholer in the schoole of Christ, and learn obedience unto God, must deny himselfe, that is, he must in the first place, exalt and magnifie the grace of God, and become nothing in himselfe, renouncing his owne reason, will, & affections, and subjecting them to the wisdome & will of God in all things; yea esteeming al things in the earth, even those that are dearest unto him, as drosse and dung in regard of the kingdome of Christ. Againe, he must take up his Crosse, that is, he ought alwaies to make a forehand reckoning, even of private crosses and particular afflictions, and when they come, to beare them with chearefulnesse. This done, he must follow Christ, by practising the vertues of meekenes, patience, Love, and obedience, and by beeing conformable to his death, in crucifying the bodie of sinne in himselfe. The second rule is propounded by Paul, Act. 24. 14. To beleeve all things that are written in the Law and the Prophets; and that is, to hold and embrace the same faith, which was embraced by the Saints and servants of God in auncient times, and which was written by Moses and the Prophets. Againe, in all reverence to subject himselfe, to the true manner of worshipping and serving God, revealed in his word; and not to depart from the same doctrine and worship, either to the right hand, or to the left. The third and last rule, is to have and to keepe faith and a good conscience, 1. Tim. 1. 19. Now faith is preserved, by knowledge of the doctrine of the Law and the Gospel, by yeelding assent unto the same doctrine, beleeuing it to be true, and by a particular application of it unto a mans selfe, specially of the promise of righteousnesse and life everlasting, in and by Christ. Againe, that a man may keepe a good conscience, he must doe three things. First, in the course of his life, he must practise the duties of the generall Calling in the particular; so as though they be two distinct in nature, yet they may be both one in use and practise. Secondly, in all events that come to passe, evermore in patience and silence he must submit himselfe, to the good will and pleasure of God. Thus it is saide of Aaron, that when God had destroied his sonnes, for offering up strange fire before him, he held his peace, Levit. 10. 3. And David shewes that it was his practise, when beeing afflicted, he saith, I was as dumbe, and opened not my mouth, because thou, Lord, didst it, Psal. 39. 9. Thirdly, if at any time he falleth, either through infirmitie, the malice of Satan, or the violence of some temptation, he must humble himselfe before God, labour to breake off his sinne, and recover himselfe by repentance. And these three, be the principall and maine grounds of New-obedience.
The Second Question. Considering that all good works, are the fruits of a regenerate person, and are contained under New-obedience; How may a man doe a good worke, that may be accepted of God, and please him?
For resolution whereof, it is to be carefully remembred, that to the doing of a good worke, sundrie things are required: Whereof, some in nature doe goe before the worke to be done, some doe accompanie the doing thereof, and some againe doe follow the worke, beeing required to be done, when the worke is done.
Before the worke, there must goe Reconciliation; whereby the person is reconciled unto God in Christ, and made acceptable to him For it is a cleare case, that no worke of man cā be accepted of God, unles the person of the worker be approoved of him. And the workes of men of what dignitie soever, are not to be esteemed by the shewe, and outward appearance of them, but by the minde and condition of the doer. Againe, before we doe any good worke, we must by praier lift up our hearts unto God, and desire him to inable us by his spirit to doe it, and to guide us by the same, in the action, which we are about to doe. This did the Prophet David oftentimes, as we may read in the Psalmes, but especially in Psal. 143. 10. when he saith, Teach me to doe thy will, O God, for thou art my God, let thy good spirit led me unto the land of righteousnes. And oftentimes in the 119. Psalme. Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes, vers. 33. give me understanding. 34. Direct me in the path of thy commandments. 35. Againe, Teach me judgement and knowledge. 66. Let my heart be upright in thy statutes. 80. Stablish me, according to thy promise, 116. Direct my steppes in thy word, and let none iniquitie have dominion over me. 133.
In the doing of the worke, we are to consider two things; the matter, and the manner or forme of doing it. For the matter, it must be a worke commanded in the word of God, either expressely or generally. For it is God’s revealed will that gives the goodnes to any worke. Christ saith of the Pharises, that they worshipped him in vaine, teaching for doctrines, the commandements of men. He therefore that will doe a worke, tending to the worship of God, must doe that which God commandeth. Now actions expressely commanded, are the duties of the morall Law; Actions generally commanded, are all such as serve to be helpes and meanes, to further the said morall duties. And here we must remember, that actions indifferent in the case of offence, or edification, cease to be indifferent, and come under some commandment of the morall Law. To which purpose Paul saith, If eating flesh will offend my brother, I will eate no flesh while the world standeth; his meaning is, that though his eating of flesh, was a thing indifferent in it selfe; yet in case of offence, his minde was to abstaine from it, as much as from the breach of the Law of God. Againe, if an action indifferent, comes within the case, of furthering the good of the Commonwealth, or Church, it ceaseth to be indifferent, and comes under commandement; and so all kind of callings and their works, though never so base, may be the matter of good workes. This point is to be remembred: for it serveth to incourage every man, of what condition soever he be, in the diligent performance of the duties of his calling; as also to confute the doctrine of the Popish church, which teacheth that onely almes deedes, and building or maintaining of Churches and religious houses, are the matter of good works.
Now to the manner or Forme of a good work, there is required Faith. For as without faith, it is impossible to please God, Hebr. 11. 6. so whatsoever worke is undertaken without faith, cannot in any sort be acceptable unto him. What faith then is required in this case? I answer. First a general faith, whereby we are perswaded that the thing to be done, may lawfully be done; and of this the Apostle speaketh when he saith, whatsoever is not of faith, is sinne. Secondly, a particular or justifying faith, which purifieth the heart, and maketh it fit to bring forth a good work: for it gives a beginning to the worke, and also covers the wants and defects thereof, by apprehending and applying unto us, Christ and his merits. Againe, a good worke for the māner thereof, must be done in obedience. For knowing that the thing to be done, is commanded of God, we must have a minde, and intention to obey God in the thing we doe, according to his cpmmandment. If it be here demanded, seeing workes must be done in obedience, how, and to what part of the word we must direct our obedience? I answer: to the Law. But howe? not considered in his rigour, but as it is qualified, mollified, and tempered by the gospell: for according to the rigour of the Lawe, which commandes perfect obedience, no man can possibly doe a good worke.
Furthermore, touching the maner, it must be done to good and lawfull ends. The Ends of a good worke are manifold: First, the honour and glory of God. Whether ye eate or drinke, or whatsoever ye doe, doe all to the glory of God. Secondly, the testification of our thankfulnes unto God, that hath redeemed us by Christ. The third is, to edifie our neighbour, and to further him in the way to life everlasting, Math. 5. 16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, & glorifie your father which is in heaven. The fourth is, to exercise and increase our faith & repentance, both which be much strengthned and confirmed, by the practise of good workes. Fiftly, that we may escape the punishment of sinne, the destruction of the wicked: and obtaine the reward of the righteoūs, life everlasting. This was the end that Paul aymed at in the course of his calling; to which purpose he saith, From henceforth there is laid up for me the crowne of righteousnesse, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day, 2. Tim. 4. 8. Sixtly, that we may be answerable to our calling, in doeing the duties thereof, and in walking as children of light, redeemed by Christ Jesus. When David kept his fathers sheepe, he behaved himselfe as a sheepheard; but when he was annointed King over Israell, God gave him an heart & resolution, to carry himselfe as a King & governour of his people. Looke then as David did, so ought we even by our workes to be answerable to our callings. Seventhly, that we may pay the debt, which we owe unto God. For we are debters to him in sundry regardes; as we are his creatures: as we are his servants: as we are his children: In a word, as we are redeemed by Christ, and our whole debt is, our dutie of praise and thanks giving.
After the worke is done, then comes the acceptation of it. God accepts of our works divers waies. First, in that he pardoneth the fault which comes from us. Secondly, in that he approoves his owne good worke in us. Thirdly, in that he doth give unto the doers of them a crowne of righteousnes and glorie, according to his promise, 2. Tim. 4. 8. Rev. 2. 10. We then, after we have done the work, must humble our selves, and intreat the Lord to pardon the wants of our workes, and say with David, Lord enter not into judgement with thy servant: & with Daniel, Lord unto us belongeth open shame & confusion, but to thee righteousnes, compassion, and forgivenes. And the reason is plaine, because in us there is no goodnesse, no holinesse, no righteousnes, nor any thing that may present us acceptable in his sight: & for this cause Paul saith, I know nothing by my selfe, yet am I not therby justified. Great reason then, that we should humble ourselves before God, for our wants, and pray unto him, that he will in mercie accept our endeavour, and confirme the good worke begunne in us, by his holy spirit.
Of the second maine Question touching assurance of salvation.
II. Question. How a man may be in conscience assured, of his owne salvation?
Before I come to the Question it selfe, this conclusion is to be laid downe as a mayne Ground;
That Election, vocation, faith, adoption, justification, sanctification, & eternal glorification, are never separated in the salvation of any man, but like inseparable companions, go hand in hand; so as he that can be assured of one of them, may infallibly conclude in his owne heart, that he hath and shall have interest in all the other in his due time. This is plaine by the words of S. Paul, Rom. 8. 30. Whome he predestinate, them also he called; whome he called, them also he justified; whome he justified, them also he glorified. In which place, the Apostle compares the causes of salvation, to a chaine of many linkes, whereof every one is so coupled to the other, that he which taketh hold of the highest, must needes carrie all the rest with him. Againe, amongst these linkes Faith is one, a principall grace of God, whereby man is ingrafted into Christ, and thereby becomes one with Christ, and Christ one with him, Eph. 3. 17. Now whosoever is by faith united unto Christ, the same is elected, called, justified, and sanctified. The reason is manifest. For in a chaine, the two extremes, are knit together, by the middle linkes; and in the order of causes of happinesse and salvation, faith hath a middle place, and by it hath the child of God assured hold of his election, and effectuall vocation, and consequently of his glorification in the kingdome of heaven. To this purpose saith S. John, c. 3. v. 36. He that beleeveth in the Sonne, hath everlasting life. And, c. 5. v. 24. He that beleeves in him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but hath passed from death to life. This is the Ground.
Now for answer to the Question, diverse places of Scripture are to be skanned; wherein this case of Conscience is fully answered and resolved.
The first place is Rom. 8. 16. And the spirit of God testifieth together with our spirits, that we are the sonnes of God. In these words are two testimonies of our adoption set downe. The first is the Spirit of God dwelling in us, and testifying unto us, that we are God’s children. But some will happily demand, How God’s spirit gives witnesse, seeing now there are no revelations? Answ. Extraordinarie revelations are ceased; and yet the holy Ghost in and by the word, revealeth some things unto men: for which cause he is called truly the Spirit of Revelation, Eph. 3. 5. Againe, the holy Ghost gives testimonie, by applying the promise of remission of sinnes, and life everlasting by Christ, particularly to the heart of man, when the same is generally propounded, in the Ministerie of the word. And because many are readie presumptuously to say, they are the children of God, when they are not, and that they have the witnesse of God’s Spirit; when in truth they want it: therefore we are to put a difference between this carnall conceit, and the true testimonie of the Spirit. Now there be two things whereby they may be discerned one from the other. The first is, by the meanes. For the true testimonie of the holy ghost, is wrought ordinarily by the preaching, reading, and meditation of the word of God; as also by praier, and the right use of the Sacraments. But the presumptuous testimonie, ariseth in the heart, and is framed in the braine, out of the use of these meanes; or though in the use, yet with want of the blessing of God concurring with the meanes. The second is, by the effects, and fruits of the Spirit. For it stirrs up the heart, to praier and invocation of the name of God, Zach. 12. 10. yea it causeth a man to crie and call earnestly unto God, in the time of distresse, with a sense and feeling of his owne miseries; and with deepe sighes and groanes, which cannot be uttered, to crave mercie and grace at his hands, as of a loving father, Rom. 8. 26. Thus did Moses crie unto heaven in his heart, when he was in distresse at the red sea, Exod. 14. 15. And this gift of praier, is an unfallible testimonie of God’s Spirit; which cannot stand with carnall presumption.
The second Testimonie of our Adoption, is our Spirit, that is, our conscience sanctified and renewed by the Holy Ghost. And this also is knowne and discerned; first, by the greefe of the heart for offending God, called Godly sorrow, 1. Cor. 7. 10. secondly, by a resolute purpose of the heart, and endeavour of the whole man, in all things to obey God: thirdly, by sauouring the things of the Spirit, Rom. 8. 5. that is, by doing the workes of the Spirit, with joy and chearefulnesse of heart, as in the presence of God, and as his children and servants.
Now put the case, that the testimonie of the Spirit be wanting: then I answer? that the other testimonie; the sanctification of the heart, will suffice to assure us. We knowe it sufficiently to be true, and not painted fire, if there be heate, though there be no flame.
Put the case againe, that the testimonie of the spirit be wanting, and our sanctification be uncertaine unto us, how then may we be assured? The answer is, that we must thē have recourse to the first beginnings, and motions of sanctification, which are these. First, to feele our inward corruptions. Secondly, to be displeased with our selves for them. Thirdly, to beginne to hate sinne. Fourthly, to grieve so oft as we fal and offend God. Fiftly, to avoid the occasions of sinne. Sixtly, to endeavour to doe our dutie, and to use good meanes. Seventhly, to desire to sinne no more. And lastly, to pray to God for his grace. Where these and the like motions are, there is the spirit of God, whence they proceed: and sanctification is begun. One apple is sufficient to manifest the life of the tree, and one good and constant motion of grace, is sufficient to manifest sanctification. Againe, it may be demanded, what must be done, if both be wanting? Answ. Men must not dispaire, but use good meanes, and in time they shall be assured.
The Second place is, the 15. Psalme. In the first verse whereof, this question is propounded, namely, Who of all the members of the Church, shall have his habitation in heaven? The answer is made in the verses following: and in the second verse, he sets downe three generall notes of the said person. One is, to walke uprightly in sincerity, approuing his heart and life to God: the second is, to deale justly in al his doings: the third is, for speech, to speake the truth from the heart, without guile or flatterie. And because we are easily deceiued in generall sinnes, in the 3, 4, and 5. verses, there are set downe seauen more euident and sensible notes of sinceritie, justice and trueth. One is in speech, not to take up or carrie abroad false reports and slanders. The second is, in our dealings not to doe wrong to our neighbour, more then to our selves. The third is in our companie, to contemne wicked persons worthy to be contemned. The fourth is in our estimation we have of others, & that is, to honour them that feare God. The fift is in our words, to sweare and not to change: that is, to make conscience of our word and promise, especially if if it be confirmed by oath. The sixt is in taking of gaine, not to give money to usurie; that is, not to take increase for bare lending, but to lend freely to the poore. The last is, to give testimonie without briberie or partialitie. In the fift verse, is added a reason of the answer: he that in his endeavour doth al these things, shall never be mooved, that is, cut off from the Church as an hypocrite.
The third place of Scripture is the first Epistle of John: the principall scope wherof, is to give a full resolution to the conscience of man, touching the certainty of his salvation. And the principall grounds of assurance, which are there laid downe, may be reduced to three heads.
The first is this. He that hath communion or*fellowship with God in Christ, may be undoubtedly assured of his salvation. This conclusion is propounded, Chap. 1. v. 3, 4. Where the Apostle tels the Church, that the end of the preaching of the Gospell unto them was, that they might have fellowship, not onely mutually among themselves, but also with God the father, and with his sonne Jesus Christ. And further, that having both knowledge, & assurance of this heavenly communion, to be begun in this life, and perfected in the life to come, their joy might be full: that is, they might thence reape, matter of true joy and sound comfort, unto their soules and consciences. Now whereas it might be haply demanded by some beleevers, how they should come to this assurance? S. John answeres in this Epistle, that the certainty therof may be gathered by foure infallible notes. The first is Remission of sinnes. For though God be in himselfe, most holy and pure, and no mortall man, being uncleane and polluted by sinne, can have fellowship with him: yet God hath shewed his mercy, to those that beleeve in him, and hath accepted of the blood of Jesus Christ his sonne, whereby they are clensed from all their corruptions. v. 7. If here it be asked, how this pardon and forgivenes may be knowne? It is answered, by two signes. One is Humble and heartie Confession of our sins unto god; for so saith the Apostle, If we confesse our sins, he is faithfull and just to forgive us our sins, and to clense us from all iniquitie. v. 9. The other is the pacified Conscience; for being justified by faith we have peace with God: and If our heart condemne us not: that is if our conscience in respect of sinne doth not accuse us, then have we boldnesse towards God, Chap. 3. v. 21. The second note of fellowship with God, is the sanctifying Spirit, wherby we are renewed in holines & righteousnes: Hereby we know that he abideth in us, euen by the Spirit which he hath given us, Chap. 3. v. 24. The third is, holinesse and uprightnes of heart and life.