The Penitent Pardoned – by Christopher Love (1618-1651)Christopher Love (1618-1651) - One of the best and most simple puritans that you'll ever read.
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“If the elect could perish then Jesus Christ should be very unfaithful to His Father because God the Father hath given this charge to Christ, that whomsoever He elected, Christ should preserve them safe, to bring them to heaven. John 6:39.”
The Penitent Pardoned – by Christopher Love (1618-1651)
The penitent pardoned a treatise wherein is handled the duty of confession of sin and the priviledge of the pardon of sin : together with a discourse of Christs ascension into heaven and of his coming again from heaven : wherein the opinion of the Chiliasts is considered and solidly confuted. Love, Christopher, 1618-1651.
THE Penitent Pardoned. A TREATISE. Wherein is handled the duty of confession of Sin, and the priviledge of the pardon of Sin. Together with a Discourse Of Christs Ascension into Heaven, and of his coming again from Heaven. Wherein The opinion of the Chiliasts is considered, and solidly confuted, Being the sum and substance of several Sermons preached by that faithful servant of Christ, Mr Christopher Love, late Minister of the Gospel at Lawrence Jury, LONDON.
1 John 1. 19.
If we confesse our sins, he is faithfull and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnesse.
Heb. 9. 28.
Unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Qui dat peccanti poenitentiam, dat poenitenti veniam. Veniet judicaturus, qui venit judicandus.
London, Printed for John Rothwell, at the Bear and Fountain in Cheapside, and for Nathanael Brooks, at the Angel in Cornhil, 1657.
To the Christian Reader.
THE extraordinary acceptance which Mr Love’s books have found with sober and solid Christians, as it hath occasioned the publishing of more treatises of his, then was at first intended, so it hath imboldned some without our knowledge and consent, to thrust forth some imperfect Copies under Mr Love’s name; concerning which we will only say, that the want of our attestation (to whose care the publishing of his sermons were intrusted) is ground enough to render them as suspected and suppositious to the serious and deliberate Reader.
Amongst some other Sermons of Mr Love’s, which have been printed by imperfect Copies, These two Treatises had the unhappinesse to be very hastily and unhandsomely published, being never perused by any of us, or compared with his own Notes.
Now that these two, very useful tracts, may be fit to be joined with the rest of Mr Love’s works, the Reader is desired to know, that they have been diligently compared, with the Notes written with Mr Love’s own hand, and have been corrected from very many faults, with which the former Edition abounded, and most of them materiall.
We will add no more but this; that in the Polemicall part of these discourses, as we approve the authors judgement to be sound and orthodox: so we beleeve, that had he lived to publish his own labours, this and other books had come forth more answerable to the learning, piety, and vigorous parts of the Author. We commend thee to God, and the word of his Grace, which is able to build thee up, and to give thee an inheritance amongst those that are sanctified.
London, April 27. 1657.
- Edmund Calamy.
- Simeon Ashe.
- William Tailor.
- William Whitaker.
Text, PSALM 32. latter part of Vers. 5.
I said, I will confesse my transgressions to the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
THis Psalme treats of the blessednesse of a justified, of a pardoned sinner; touching which, several particulars are handled. [ 1] First, the Psalmist handles, wherein the forgivenesse of sin consists, that he mentions under two expressions, Verse 1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered: the forgivenesse of sin consists, first in the covering of sin: the covering of sin not from God, but by God, so it is explained by God himselfe, Psal. 85. vers. 2. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people,*Thou hast covered all their sin.
It is sin in us to hide our sins: as it is sin to hide our talents, so it is sin to hide our sin; therefore when the Psalmist saith the forgivenesse of sin consists in the covering of sin, this covering is understood of Gods covering. Which is not to be understood of a totall abolition or Extirpation of sin, but of such a covering of it, as it shall never be imputed for condemnation and that is a second expression to set out Gods pardoning sin. viz.
- This forgivenesse is set out by not imputing of sin, vers. 2. Sin shall not be imputed unto a justified person, though still it shall be inherent in him.
Secondly, The Psalmist shews the Character of that man whose sin is pardoned, vers. 2. Blessed is the man in whose spirit there is no guile. If sin be pardoned to the soule, guile will never be harbored and indulged in the soule.
[ III] Thirdly, Here is laid down the happinesse of a pardoned man, vers. 3. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old, through my roaring all the day long: yet for all this David cals him blessed; though Gods hand was heavie upon him, yet his heart was still towards him; yet a blessed man, though an afflicted man:
[ IV] Fourthly, Here is laid down the course that the Psalmist took to procure pardon of sin, that is in my Text, I said, I will confesse my transgressions to the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Thus I have brought you by the hand to the Text. I shall give you a short paraphrase of the words: I said, this word implies in Scripture phrase three things.* First, it notes a deliberation or consideration of the minde, Psal 14. vers. 1. The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God: (that is) he hath thought so in his minde,* that there is no God. Psal. 30. vers. 6. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved: that is, I thought so. Saying, is not alwaies an act of the tongue, but sometimes of the minde: I said I will confesse my sin, that is, I have bethought my selfe, and considered in my minde, that it is meet for me to get pardon and to confesse my sin to God, I said.
[ 2] It notes secondly the purpose and the resolution of the wil; so you have it, Psal. 119. v. 57. Thou art my portion, O Lord,*I have said that I would keep thy words.* There saying, is explained to be purposing or resolving of the will.
[ 3] Thirdly, I said, it implies the execution, or practice of what the minde resolves upon, Psal. 39. vers. 1. I said I wil take heed to my waies,*&c. that is, I did look to my waies, and I am put upon the practice of taking care unto my steps and to my waies: the meaning of the phrase is this, I said I will confesse my transgression, I have bethought it so in my minde, and it is good and meet so to do, I have purposed and resolved in my will, and am actually put on the practice of it.
I said I will confesse my transgression.* The Septuagint interpret this place thus 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. I said I will confesse my transgression, I will confesse against my selfe: upon which one hath this note, Many confesse their sins, but they blame not themselves but God, the stars, and what not. It is worth your notice, that sin is exprest by three words in this Text; first, transgression, secondly, iniquity, and thirdly, sin; I will comfesse my transgression, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. There are but four places as I remember in the Scripture where in these three words are joyned together in one verse, Transgression, Iniquity, and Sin. Exod. 34. vers. 7. Keeping mercy for thousands,*forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.
Micha 7. v. 18. who is a God like unto thee,* that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
Levit. 16,*vers. 21. And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live Goat, and confesse over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, &c.
And it is likewise used in Job. 13. vers. 23.* How many are mine iniquities and sins, make me to know my transgression and my sin.
In these four places the words are used in Scripture, and in my Text, but not else as I remember throughout the word of God: and because these three words are here used, Interpreters take much pains to finde out some material distinction between them: her is Transgression, Sin, and Iniquity; I have consulted with many, and the truest account I can give you is this; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Transgression signifies in the Hebrew Rebellion; say interpreters, it notes sin with extensions and aggravations, sin increased to a great height. Secondly, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Sin signifies evils that are of the lesser degree; that are not so hainous, and so notes onely by sin evils of infirmity and common incursion. Thirdly, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Iniquity signifies sin of nature, that pravity of nature wherein a man was born. But Grammarians in the Latine distinguish these words otherwise. Iniquity they make to be that which is done against another man: Sin, that which is done against a mans selfe: and Transgression, that which is done immediately against God. But beloved, the Scripture in many places, makes them all one. Therefore we need not make further curious enquiry after the distinction of these words, And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. The iniquity of my sin; There is some disagreement about the sense of these words, what it is for God to forgive the iniquity of sin: By the iniquity of sin, some do understand the punishment that sin deserves: the Hebrew word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 that signifies Iniquity, signifies Punishment; the same word here is spoken of Cain,*My punishment is greater then I can bear; there is the same word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: therefore in some translations it is read thus, Thou for gavest the punishment of my sin. Secondly, others here do understand by the iniquity of sin, (with whom I do concure) sin with all its aggravations, with all its hainous circumstances, sin with all its malignity, Thou dost forgive the iniquity of my sin: most Interpreters go this way, and so make the phrase to be very emphatical, Thou hast forgiven me my sin; that is, all hainous circumstances that might greaten my sin, thou host forgiven them all. J shal onely make a short entrance at this time into the first part of my Text, I said I will confesse my transgression to the Lord: These words contain in them a holy purpose in the Psalmist to set up the practise of a necessary and Christian duty, to wit, secret confession of sin to God. In them five parts are observeable. First, the duty it selfe, Confession. Secondly, a deliberate purpose to set on the practise of this duty, I said. Thirdly, the subject matter of this duty, Transgression, and Transgression with a propriety, my Transgression, not of other mens sins but my sins, I said I will confese my transgressions. J remember Ainsworth, he saith it should be translated thus, more agreeable to the Hebrew,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉I will confesse adversum me against my selfe my transgression to the Lord. Many men confesse sin, but they do confesse sin as against God, that is, they do confesse sin as if. God were the author of sin, that charge him to be the patron of their impiety and wickednesse, I said I will confesse my transgression against myselfe. Fourthly, The object of this duty, I will confess my transgression to the Lord: and this beloved takes off Auricular confession, used and stood on much in the Church of Rome. Confession that God cals for, and the Scripture cals for, is in secret between God and your own souls; when conscience shall suggest guilt to you in reference to your former misdoings, when you can pour out your soul in complaint to God, I said, I will confesse my transgression unto the Lord. Fifthly and lastly, The issue and event of this duty; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin: observe the connexion; here is a connective particle, and thou forgavest: he doth not come with an Ergo or a Quare, not with a causal, but with an et, a copulative, and thou forgavest; not J confesse sin, therefore I am forgiven; but I confesse sin, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉and thou hast forgiven me. Forgivenesse of sin is not laid down as an effect flowing from a cause, but as a consequent flowing from an antecedent. Indeed the Papists plead much for merit, because sometimes causal particles are used, but this is beyond my Text: thus much for the explaining of the words. [Doct.] At this time J shall onely raise a Doctrine from the first part of this Text, J said, J will confesse my transgression unto the Lord. The point of Doctrine is this: That justified persons who have their sins forgiven, are yet bound to confesse sin to God.
And here the confession J am to speake of, is a private confession of our evils to God, between God and our own souls; and though it be but a familiar subject; yet as God shall enable me, J shall labour to make it useful and profitable for your edification in a Christian course, in a holy confession of sin before your God.
There are many Queres to be dispatcht in the handling of this point.
[Reas. 1] First, They are to confesse sin unto God, because holy confession gives a great deale of case and holy quiet unto the mind of a sinner; concealed and indulged guilt, contracts horror and dread on the conscience. As wind when it is disperst and diffused through the air doth little hurt; but when it is concealed in the bowels of the earth, it makes ruptures and earthquakes, overthrows things up and down: Sin when it is unconfest, concealed, and indulged, makes heart-quakes in the conscience, and contracts a great deal of horror and terror, Psal. 32. vers. 3.*When J kept silence, my bones waxed old, through my roaring all the day long.
Meaning, David when he kept close his sin; he roared by reason of horror; when he did not pour out his soul in confession to God; but when a man shall with an ingenuous clearnesse confesse his evils unto God, this doth alleviate his minde, and lighten his burden, and ease his conscience,* and quiet his spirit. Origen doth call confession of sin to God, the souls spiritual vomit. Now you know vomiting doth give ease to a burdened stomach, when the stomach is pained and burdened, and opprest. A man is sick at the heart when meat doth not digest; the vomiting of the load off of the stomach doth ease the stomach: when the conscience is burdened, when a mans spirit is troubled, pouring out of complaints and confession to God doth ease the mind: A sinner is like a vessel of new wine filled and stopt up close; till it hath vent it is ready to burst; so is a godly man filled with sin, till he can vent by confession to God, his heart is ready to burst.*Psal. 119. vers. 25. My soul cleaveth unto the dust, quicken thou me according to thy word.
Vers. 26. I have declared my waies, and thou heardest me, teach me thy Statutes.
As if he should have said, My soul cleaves to the dust, I am in a very low and sad condition, but I have declared my waies, I have confest my sins; then God heard me, then I had peace, then I had quiet, then I had comfort: that is the first Reason, secret confession to God, it doth give a great deal of ease and holy quiet to the minde.
[Reas. 2] A second Reason why justified persons must confess sin, is, because God loves to hear the complaints and confessions of his own people; lying on the face the best gesture, and the mourning weed the best garment that God is well pleased with,*Jer. 31. vers. 18. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himselfe, &c. (that is) confessing his sin unto God.
Cant. 2. vers. 14. O my Dove, that art in the clefts of the rock,*in the secret places of the staires; let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice: for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. God delights to see and hear the complaints and the confessions of his servants unto him: so David speaks,*I declared my waies, and thou heardest me with pity and complacency. God had rather see men come with ropes about their necks, and with sackcloth about their loins by a humble confession,* as the servants of Benhadad did, then to see ornaments about their necks by a self-justification; Christ loves to hear and see the mourning condition of a justified person.
[Reas. 3] A third Reason why justified persons must confesse sin to God, is, because confession of sin doth help to quicken the heart to strong and earnest supplication to God. Psal. 32. vers. 6. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found,*surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
Confession quickens supplication,*in Dan. 9. vers. 20. And whiles I was speaking and praying, and confession my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God, for the holy mountain of my God. &c. that Gabriel came and touched him. &c.
Confession is to the soul as the whet-stone is to the knife, that sharpens it and puts an edge upon it; so doth confession of sin; confessing thy evils to God doth sharpen and put an edge on thy supplications: that man will pray but faintly, that doth confesse sin but slightly.
[Reas. 4] A fourth Reason why justified persons must confesse sin unto God, is, because confession of sin will worke a holy contrition and a godly sorrow in the heart, Psal. 38. vers. 18.*For I will declare mine iniquities, I will be sorry for my sin.
Declaration doth work compunction; confession of sin, is but the causing of sin to recoyle on the conscience; which causeth blushing and shame of face, and grief of heart.
[Reas. 5] A fifth Reason why justified persons must confesse sin unto God, is, because their secret confession of sin doth give a great deal of glory to God, it gives glory to Gods Justice: I do confesse sin, and do confesse God in justice may damn me for my sin: it gives glory to Gods mercy; I confesse sin, yet mercy may save me: it gives glory to Gods omnisciency; in confessing sin, I do acknowledge that God knoweth my sin: confession of sin gives glory to God,*Josh. 7. vers. 19. And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him, and tell me now what thou hast done, hide it not from me: It is a giving glory unto God.
[Reas. 6] A sixt Reason why justified persons must confesse sin unto God, is, because holy confession of sin will imbitter sin, and indear Christ to them, when a man shall let sin recoyle on his conscience by a confession. These after reflexions, and these after recollections of sin, do greatly imbitter sin, and do indear Jesus Christ; the stronger desires that a sinner hath after Jesus Christ, the more he doth inhaunce the price of Jesus Christ. And thus much for the first Quere, to wit, the Reasons of the point.
The second Quere is, But when is a man in the best plight to have freedome of spirit to make secret confession of sin unto God? I will name but three Seasons: As,
[Seas. 1] First, When God doth bring a beleever under some grievous outward affliction, then is a fit time for him to confesse sin to God. It is a saying of Gregory, Sins do blinde the eyes of men when they sin,* yet those eyes come to be opened by the punishment, the punishment openeth those eyes which the fact hath shut. As you read of Josephs brethren, they did remain 20 yeares without having conscience recoyle on themselves to confesse their vils in selling their brother Joseph, but when Joseph laid them in a prison, then they confest their evill, Gen. 42 21.*And they said one to another, we are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soule, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distresse come upon us.
It may be now thou art in health, thou dost not now confesse thy uncleannesse, and thy drunkennesse, and thy pride, and thy prophanenesse; but what wilt thou do when God brings thee on a death-bed? when God hedges in thy waies with thornes, the conscience will reflect on thee, and suggest guilt to thee, and draw out confession from thee, it is a fit season; when God doth bring a man under any outward affliction, then he is in good plight to confesse sin.* It is worth your notice in the 38. Psalme, it was made when David lay on his sick-bed, as he thought his death-bed: you shall finde it is a complaint of a very strong disease David lay under, in the 3. vers. [Vers. 3] There is no soundnesse in my flesh, because of thine anger, neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. Vers. 5.*My wounds stink and are corrupt, because of my foolishnesse. Vers. 7. [ 7] For my loines are filled with a loathsome disease, and there is no soundness in my flesh. Here he was lying on a sick-bed; and Interpreters say that he made this Psalme when he was sick. It is worth your notice of the title that David gives this Psalme, A Psame of David to bring to remembrance. David when he was on his death-bed as he thought, he said it shall be a Psalm of remembrance, to bring sin to remembrance, to confess to God my uncleannesse with Bathsheba, to bring to remembrance the evils of my life; it was a good plight David was in when he lay on a sick-bed, he would make this title of the Psalme, A Psalme to call to remembrance: men are in a fit plight to make confession to God when they lye under any bodily sicknesse; call to remembrance thy pride, call to remembrance thy passion, call to remembrance thy vain dalliance, whatever thy fin be, it may be I may not hit of it, but when ever God brings thee under affliction, thou art then in a fit plight to confesse sin unto God, and call to remembrance thy sins. As it was with the Marriners in the storme with Jonah, when there was scarce any hope to be saved then they fell a calling each one on his God. Which occasioned the Proverbe, He that hath not yet learnt to pray, let him goe to sea. So Jer. 2 vers. 24. A wilde Asse used to the wildernesse, that snuffeth up the winde at her pleasure, in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves, in her moneth they shall finde her.
The men of Israel are there compared unto an Asse, an unruly creature that runs up & down the wilderness and kicks up the heel: but saith God, Though men weary themselves to take her, yet in her moneth they shall take her: that is, when she brings forth young, then they shall take her, referring it to the people of Israel; they in their prosperity would not be ruled, but when they were in their moneth, in their captivity, in their sufferings, then they should take them, and they would then come to be more pliant in confessing their guilt more to God then in former time.
A second Season wherein a man is in a good plight to confesse sin is, when the conscience of a man is set in office by God to persue him with clear and with strong accusations. When God puts the conscience of a man in office to persue him with strong accusations touching evils he hath omitted; then that man is in a fit plight, if he will take hold of it. Even Judas himselfe when conscience awakened him, went and confessed to the High Priest and the Scribes; and said, I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. If Judas took advantage so much upon the awakening of conscience to confesse sin, then a beleever hath much more helpe. Beloved, the main use of conscience in man, is to bring him upon his knees, to make him humble in the confession of his waies; conscience serves to excuse me when I do well, but the main use of conscience is to accuse me when I do ill, and so to put me on confession to God, therefore mark, saith David, I roared all the day; there was the noyse of Davids conscience for his Adultery, then I said I will confesse my transgressions: when conscience roars by accusation, then let the heart confesse to God: I do earnestly beg you to take these fit Seasons: you are in a good plight to confesse sin when God doth lay you under afflictions, when God doth make conscience accuse you, that you do deceive in your trades, that you are ingulphed under lust; O then pursue these accusations of conscience, then you are in a fit plight to confesse sin to God.
[Seas. 3] A third Season wherein a man is in a good plight to confesse sin to God is, when God sets home the reproofe of the Ministers of the Word upon the the soul with conviction:* thus you know David, in 2 Sam. 12. 13. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord; And this was after that Nathan had said to David, thou art the man.
The reproofe of Nathans Ministery did so prevail on Davids heart, that David said, I have sinned and have done very foolishly.* Could you goe home after every Sermon you hear, when ever you hear your sins reproved, and pursue that reproofe, and blesse God that the Word hath checkt you, that the Word hath met you, that the Word hath found you out as an enemy; could you goe home and pursue a Ministerial reproofe with confession, your hearts would then be in good plight to confesse sin unto God.
[Vse.] The Application:
First see hence, that not only wicked men must confesse sin; but regenerate men, pardoned men. It is no servile, no slavish, no legal work. Though the lowest Beleever be above the power of sin, yet the highest Beleever is not above the confession of sin; because not above the practice of sin. As long as men continue acting of sinne men must never leave confessing of sin: as long as sinne leaks into thy soule, thou must so long be pumping; confession is to the soule as a pump to the ship. O what leaks into thy heart by heedlesnesse and carelesness, pump out by confession. Till thou art above the actings of sinne, thou art not above the confessing of sinne: as long as the body natural doth gather corrupt humours, so long there must be Purges and Vomits: if the body should still be gathering corrupt humours, nature woulb bestfled by these humours; thou art gathering sin to sin, thou art adding iniquity to iniquity: confession is a spiritual Purge, it doth cleanse and purge the heart; see therefore the great need that even pardoned men have to confesse their faults.
[ 2] Secondly, when the Scripture saith that justified persons must confesse sin; take notice, that every confession of sin will not serve mens turns. Lorinus observes out of Bernard on these words, I confess my transgressions. That Saul made the same confession that David made when Nathan reproved David; sayes David, I have sinned, when Samuel reproved Saul, saith Saul, I have sinned: here is the same confession, but here was not the same event: David said, I have sinned, and Nathan said, The Lord hath taken away thy iniquity:* but Saul said, I have sinned too, but Samuel told him; the Lord hath taken away thy Kingdom from thee.*Saul confest sin, yet had his Kingdom taken away; but David confest sin, and had his sin taken away. Beloved, thou mayest confesse sin with Saul, yet not have thy sin taken away; thou mayest lose thy soul, as he lost his Kingdome though he confest his sinne.
The third Quere is this, What Theological rules may be given to guide you in your confession of sinne unto God. Answ. There are seven Rules which I shal lay down to you.
[Rule 1] First Rule in confession of sin unto God is this; single out some bosome and master lust that doth most frequently enslave thee, and make confession and complaints against that, to God; do not onely confesse sin in the lump and general, but single out the most beloved lust, those sins which for the present do most subject and enslave thy spirit, which do most overcome thee and prevail over thee in thy Christian course; against those thou shouldest bend most of thy complaints and confessions: this wisedome Gods people of old did expresse; they singled out the present corruptions that they were guilty of, Judg. 10. 10. And the Children of Israel cryed unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Balaam. We have sinned, there is a general complaint: but we have also served Balaam; they singled out their idolatry more especially,*1 Sam. 12. 19. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we dye not, for we have added unto all our sinnes this evil, to aske us a King.
They were not contented with their old government, but they would alter and change it: that sin being their particular sin they were guilty of, they would single out that sin.*Thus in 1 Chron. 21. 17. And David said unto God, is it not I, that commanded the people to be numbred? even I it is that have sinned, and done evil indeed, but as for these sheep, what have they done, &c.
He singles out a particular sin that he then lay under the guilt of. I may say to you as the King of Assyria said to the 32. Captains, fight neither against small nor great, but against the King of Israel; so bend your confession not against small or great onely, but against thy kingly lusts, against thy captain lusts that do spring from thy constitution; Thy Agag, thy Dalilah, single out them, and combat against them, and bend most of thy confessions and complaints against them: do as men in a garrison, though they watch all the Battailments, and guard every passage; yet to that place, where the breach is 〈◊〉 widest, and where the storm is most hot, they will bend most of their strength: doe thou thus, watch every sinne, and watch every failing of thy life, but bend most of thy confession to God against those lusts that do most enslave and subject thee.
[Rule 2] A second rule to guide thee in the matter of confession of sin to God is this: Make conscience to confesse your small and secret evils as well as your open and grosser sins. Our secret sins, saith the Prophet, are in the light of thy countenance, Psal. 90. 8. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee,*our secret sinnes in the light of thy countenance.
Psal. 19. 12.* Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
David did not onely confesse his murder of Vriah, his adultery with Bethsheba, but he confest smaller sins: Davids heart smote him for cutting off the lap of Sauls garment; it was onely the appearance of revenge, he had his knife neere his throte: that which had the appearance of a sin, Davids heart smote him for.
Conscientions men do not onely bewail and confesse open and grosser evils; but the secret and the smallest corruptions of the heart they bewaile to God: they confesse their secret pride, their secret worldlinesse, and secret murmurings against God, they confesse their secret and smaller evils.
Indeed wicked men fall short of this: wicked men confesse their Grosse and their open sins, but do dot take notice of their lesser and secret evils: there are two instances for this, one is in Cain, Cain confest his murder, his was greater then it could be forgiven, speaking of the murder of his brother Abel,*Gen. 4. 13. And Cain said unto unto the Lord, My punishment is greater then I can bear. He did not confesse his emnity that made him murder his brother: he confest his grosse sin, but did not confesse more slie and secret evils. Thus you read likewise of Judas, Judas confest his betraying of Christ (a grosse sin) but he never confest his covetousnesse, a secret sin that made him betrry Jesus Christ; saith he, I have sinned in betraying innocent blood: he that did bewaile and confesse his murder in betraying Christ, did not confesse and bewail his covetousnesse and hypocrisie, that were more lurking and secret evils. That is a second Rule, make conscience to confesse small and secret evils, as well as open and grosser sins.
[Rule 3] Third Rule touching confession of sin unto God is this, When you confesse and acknowledge secretly your sins unto God, labour to greaten your sins with all the heinous circumstances and heart-humbling aggravations you can imagin. Thus the servants of God used to do, when they confest sin unto God, they would confesse sin with all the heinous circumstances, 1 Kings 8. 47. Saying, We have sinned, and have done perversly, we have committed wickedness. Saith Lorinus, Mark what a heap of words a heart-humbled soul will lay together in confessing of sin; We have sinned, there is one word; We have done wickedly, there is a second; and we have done perversly, there is a third. A notable instance you have of Paul in Act. 26. 10, 11.*Which thing I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the Saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief Priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every Synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme, and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange Cities.
Here Paul comes to aggravate his sin: there are eight aggravations that here Paul doth lay down of his sinne, wherby he would greaten sin unto himself that he might be the more humble.
[ 1] First of all, they were not ordinary men that he cast into prison, but they were Saints, and to wrong them is a sacriledge, the Saints have I cast into prison.
[ 2] Secondly, To cast a man into prison for debt is no injustice if the man be able to pay: but many have I cast into prison, why? for professing the name of Jesus of Nazareth, meerly for professing Christ.
[ 3] Thirdly, If it had been but one or two Saints it were not much, but they were a greater number, Many of the Saints did I cast into prison.
[ 5] Fifthly, If he had rested there, it had not been much, but he gave his voyce against them to put them to death. Nay,
[ 6] Sixthly, He goeth higher, for he did wrong to their souls too, for he compelled them to blaspheme God.
[ 7] Seventhly, To aggravate it further, he was mad against them, and I was exceedingly mad against them; hee was mad with rage, and with passion, and with fury against the Saints of God.
[ 8] Eighthly, I did persecute them to strange Cities; them I did not kill, I made them leave their Wives and Children, and made them run and shift for their lives into strange corners. This is the nature of a true penitent, not to confesse sin slightly and carelesly, but in confession of sin to cloath his sins with all aggravations that can be; In confession of sin we should aggravate it that we have sinned against mercies, correction, warnings, resolutions, checks of conscience, motions of the Spirit, &c. and this is a good Rule if you will follow it: You have the like instance in the book of Daniel chap. 9. v. 5.*We have sinned and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts, and from thy judgements. Vers. 6. [vers 6] Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the Prophets, which spake in thy name to our Kings, our Princes and our Fathers, and to all the people of the Land. There are seven circumstances that Daniel useth in confessing of his sin, to aggravate his sin; how doth Daniel cloath his confession? First, We have sinned, there is one. Secondly, We have committed iniquity. Thirdly, We have done wickedly. Fourthly, We have re¦belled against thee. Fifthly, We have departed from thy precepts. Sixthly, We have not hearkned unto thy servants. Seventhly, Nor we nor our Princes, nor all the people of the Land: There are seven aggravations which Daniel reckoned up to his confession: Thus David when he would beg pardon prayed; for thy names sake pardon my iniquity for it is great: that is a third Rule about confession.
[Rule 4] A fourth Rule in confession of sin is this, In your confessions look not discouragingly on God as an angry Judge, but hopefully, as on a displeased Father; to confesse sin to God as an angry Judge, is to make you but condemned Malefactors in your confessions; therefore make confession to God only as a displeased Father: converted men do confesse sin to God as a Father: whilest you have an eye of sorrow upon sin, you are to have an eye of hope upon pardon, thus Gods people did in their confessions. To confesse sin to God as a Judge, is to howl like dogs because you shall be beaten: but to confesse sin to God as an angry Father, is child-like with a fiducial confidence of pardon.*Dan. 9. 9. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him. And thus Shechaniah confesseth sin unto God, Ezra 10. 2. And Shechaniah the Son of Jehiel,*one of the Sons of Ellam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, &c.
And thus the Prodigall in Luke 18. 18. I will arise and goe to my Father,* and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee.
Though he was a Prodigal, yet he would goe to God as to a father. In confession you are to go to God hopefully, as to a displeased father: confessions when they come to God as a Judge, create fear, horrour, and amazement on the conscience, but when confessions are mingled with hope, and come to God as a Father, they work a holy brokennesse of heart, a holy tendernesse and remorse on the conscience. We should confesse our sins to God as a Patient confesseth his disease and bodily distemper to his Physician in hope of Cure.
[Rule 5] A fift Rule in confession of sin unto God is this, Content not your selves with slight and superficial confessions of sin unto God, but leave not confession till you find sorrow for sin.* Psal. 38. 18. For I will declare mine iniquity, I will be sorry for my sin. Dan. 9. 8. O Lord to us belongeth confusion of face, to our Kings, to our Princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee: we blush and are ashamed to look up.
Leave not confessing of sin, until shame hath filled your face, and sorrow hath filled your heart: it is a great fault in many people, if they confesse their sin, in crying God mercy in a general way, they think they have made God a compensation for all the injuries they have done him, though they never have any godly sorrow for their sins: but beloved you are not to content your selves with such confession. We should in this part of prayer imitate that holy Martyr Bradford who never gave over praying till his heart was somewhat affected and warmed in the duty.
[Rule 6] A sixt Rule in confession of sin is this, If thou findest thy heart straitned in confessing present guilt and present sins upon thee, then labour to review & recollect ancient guilt and ancient sins: This is a very useful thing in a mans Christian course. It may be a man or woman professing Christianity, may not know the sins he, or she hath done this last week; for want of heedfulnesse and observation of their waies: in that case let them recollect what they have done many years agoe, recollect old sins, when new sins do not come to remembrance, and be humbled for them: thus David did, in Psal. 51. 3. For I acknowledge my transgressions,*and my sin is ever before me. It was meant his old sin of adultery, that was his sin that he would now call to remembrance: so when he found his heart dead, he saith, Lord, remember not the sins of my youth; he would go so far back as his youth. I prescribe this rule, not that a godly man, who is under trouble of minde should take this course to collect old sins, this may lead him to despair; but in case of barrennesse, if any man wants matter in respect of present sinnes, and findes his heart hard and very insensible in secret prayer unto God, in that case he is bound to let conscience recoyle upon himself, and recollect sins of past years; go back as far as his youth and see what conscience will bring in to provoke him to make humble confession unto God in his secret retirements.
[Rule 7] Lastly take this Rule, take more freedom in confession of sin in secret before God, then in publick before men; To provoke you to practise this Rule, consider two things.
[ 1] 1. First, it is not fit to confesse all the evils you have done before men, and if there were no argument to prove secret prayer this were enough, that it is not fit for a man to confesse all the sins of his life before men. Zach. 12. 12. And the Land shall mourn every family apart,*the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart, the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart, &c. They are to go to God and confesse their sins apart. Thou art a poor professor, that dost confesse what thou confessest in publick onely, and never in private, thou art but a barren professor.
[ 2] 2. Again consider this, that though we read of wicked men that have made great confession of sin unto God, yet we never read in the Scripture that wicked men ever made conscience to confesse sin to God in secret. Pharaoh (you know the story) confest his sin unto Moses and unto Aaron, but we never read that Pharaoh confest his sin unto God.*Exod. 9. 27. And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time, &c.
Saul confest his sin unto Samuel, but we never read of his confessing sin unto god. 1 Sam. 15. 24. And Saul said unto Samuel,* I have sinned, for I have transgressed the Commandement of the Lord, &c. Verse 30. Then he said, I have sinned, &c.
Judas confest his sin, but to whom was it? to the High Priest and to the Pharisees, but Judas never went into a corner and in secret to bewail bloodshed: wicked men have made publick confessions of sin, but in secret between God and their own souls they never made acknowledgment, and confession of their evils unto God: thus much for the third Quere.
The fourth Quere is this, Wherein appears the difference of a gody mans making confession of sin unto God, and between those confessions of sin in wicked men: and there are these eight differences.
[ 1] First, Holy confession in godly men, makes the soul to be more active and inquisitive after cure, remedy, and pardon for sin: holy confession makes the soul industrious. I confesse sin, but how shall I subdue sin? I acknowledge sin; but how shall I get pardon for sin? It makes it enquire how to get cure and remedy for the evils which before were confest. Job. 7. 20. I have sinned, What shall I do unto thee,*O thou preserver of men? &c. I have sinned, there is his confession: Lord what shall I do? there is his industry. Thus the Jewes they were convinced by Peter of their great sin, insomuch as they cryed out,*What shall we do to be saved? But false confession leaves men idle, and carelesse: confesse they do, but they are not inquisitive how to get pardon for those sins they do confesse.
[ 2] Secondly, Holy confession of sin unto God in godly men, is attended with remorse of conscience, and with grief of heart. Psal. 38. 18. For I will declare mine iniquity, I will be sorry for my sin: there is confession and sorrow joyned together.*Hos. 12. 4. Yea he had power over the Angel, and prevailed, he wept and made supplication unto him. Whilest confessions are in the mouth, there will be either tears in the eye, or sorrow in the heart, if confession be true.
The wicked confesse sin, but tey never grieve for the sins they have committed, they are not ashamed, neither can they blush, in the Prophets language.
[ 3] Thirdly, A godly man in confession of sin, hath more freedom of spirit to confesse his particular sins in secret, then he hath in publick: I have powred out my soul before God, saith the Psalmist: confession of sin is a pouring out of the soul before God; he that can pour forth complaints against sin in secret more then in publick, is a grecious man
The wicked are only for confession of sin before men, and not before God.
[ 4] 4. Fourthly, Godly men confesse sin freely, out of a willingnesse they have to be rid of sin: wicked men confesse sin, with confessions extorted and drawn from them as men on a rack whether they will or no. Godly men confesse sin freely, they are freely willing to part with their lusts,* therefore they confesse them to God, Job. 32. 18. For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. Verse 19. Behold my belly is as wine that hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new bottles. Verse 20. I will speak that I may be refreshed, I will open my lips, and answer. Thus a godly man in confessing sin his belly is as ready to burst with new wine, he must needs have vent, else he is broken, he must needs confesse sin, his sin drives him to God. But confession is extorted and wrested from wicked men. It was the plagues of Egypt upon Pharaoh,* that wrung confession from him: before these he would say, Who is the Lord?* It was pangs and horrour of conscience in Judas, that forced him to acknowledge he had sinned in betraying innocent blood. Mariners cast over their goods, not that they hate them, but as they are forc’t to do it to escape drowning; when there is a storm and a tempest in their consciences, then men are forc’t to confesse sin, it is by compulsion, it is not voluntary.
[ 5] Fifthly, A godly man is conscious to confesse secret and small sins, as well as grosse wickednesse. David confest his pride and carnal confidence in numbring the people, as well as his adultery with Bathsheba: David confest the cutting off the lap of Sauls garment, as well as spilling the blood of Vriah. But hypocrites confesse their grosse sins, but not their small sins. Cain confest his murder, but not his bad offering: they confesse their grosse sins but not their smaller. Pharaoh confest his oppression of the children of Israel, but he did not confesse the hardness of his heart. But godly men though they have not so many grosse and open evils, yet small and secret evils pinch their consciences, and trouble their spirit. Those evils which will not break a wicked mans sleep, will break their hearts: what though they have not uncleannesse in the flesh? what though they have escaped the pollutions of the world? yet they know they have secret and inward defilements on the spirit: and these they bewaile, and these they acknowledge to God.
[ 6] A sixth difference is this, that godly men are distinct and clear to confesse their particular special evils that have most predominancy over them. Beloved, observe this; Wicked men in their confessions are confused, and only run in general that they are sinners; Just like Ahimaaz when he would bring tydings to David, touching the issue of the battel with Joab and Absalom, saith he, I saw a tumult,*and I heard a noyse, but I know nothing. Wicked men will tell you that their sins do make a noyse within them, but they can tell you nothing distinctly, and nothing particularly, but only go at randome. Wicked men in confessing sin are like Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. 2.*He dreamt something but he could not tell what it was: Wicked men dream of sins and think of them as confusedly as a man in a dream; but when, how, and where, and with what aggravating circumstances they know not: they have not a distinct and clear view of their corruptions. The people of God do in their confessions single out their special lusts and say thus did the people of Israel.*Judg. 10. 10. Thus Belarmine did shew his wickednesse in saying he was not wicked; when he was on his death-bed, and his Confessor came to him to have him confesse his sin to him, saith Bellarmine, I do not know any sin in my self to confess. This was not the holinesse of the man, but the heedlesnesse, that he did not observe his waies. Donatus the great ringleader of the Donatists, saith, O Lord I have nothing that thou shouldst pardon me. Beloved, this doth arise from stupidity that men see not sin; it doth not arise from holiness, but from heedlesness and carelesseness. It is an observation that one hath on Iob, saith Iob, I have sinned, and cause me know wine iniquity, and my transgression, and my sin. Whilst Iob made this complaint that he had sinned, God saith, in all this Job sinned not: that is, not absolutely, but meaning comparatively. Beloved, to be free in complaints, and to be full in confession of sins, doth not argue that you have more sin then other men have; but it argues that you have more sight then other men have, and the less sin you have in you.
[ 7] Seventhly, Godly men confesse sin out of a sight and sense of sin, as it is dishonourable to God, rather then as it is a shame and reproach unto themselves. Confess thy sin rather for the foul nature of it, that it doth dishonour God, then for the evil consequence of it, that it deserves damnation to the sinner. In Psal. 51. saith David, Against thee, thee only have I sinned: it was not against Vriah that he had sinned; but against thee, thee onely have I sinned, for thou wast dishonoured by my sinne. When the Apostle speaks of repentance, he calls it repentance towards God, Acts 20. 21. Testifying both to the Jewes, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Iesus Christ. To note, That where sorrow and confession of sin is true, it is more out of a sense of sin, as it is against God, then as it is against self. But wicked men never confess sin as it is a dishonour to God, but as it contracts a guilt and a shame on themselves.
[ 8] Lastly, Holy confession of sin in godly men, leaves a holy awe, and a dread upon the heart, making them afraid to commit the sin after they have confest it; making them afraid to come into the occasion of that sin which they have confest; thus you read, Acts 19. 18. And many that believed came, and confessed and shewed their deeds. Verse 19. Many also of them which used curious Arts, brought their books together, and burned them before all men, &c. He speaks of their sorcery and witchcraft; they would burn their books, that there should not be an occasion of committing again that sin which they confest unto God. Beloved, this is holy confession; when thou shalt come to God on thy knees in secret, and there bewail a lust: and thy confession leaves a holy awe and dread on thy soul to take heed on that sin thou hast confest.
A godly man may commit a sin which he hath confest, but yet he retains a fear and awe upon his heart, that it shall not prevail over him in his practice.
Wicked men confess sin they have committed, yet they are bold and adventurous to commit the same sin again which they have confest.
And thus the Harlot did, Prov. 7. 14. I have peace-offerings with me, this day I have payed my vows. Paying the vow, is a confession that I am in debt to God for my sin; and I owe God homage and service▪ yet she made the confession of sin to be a means to provoke her to be more bold and adventurous in her wickednesse. To confesse drunkennesse, and afterwards to be drunk; to confesse profaneness, and afterwards to be profane; this is the bold adventurousness of wicked men: Thus Pharaoh in Exod. 9. confest his sin, and afterwards when the plagues were over, runs into the same sin he did confesse: and this is the badge and portraiture of a wicked man. And thus I have done with this fourth particular.
I now come to the use.
[Vse.] First by way of reproof, there are three sorts of persons in whose breasts the arrow and dart of reproof must justly stick. If so be justified persons are bound to make confession of sin unto God; then it reproves,
[Sort 1] First, The Antinomists, who account it a legal and a servile work, for believers to be bemoaning themselves unto God, and confessing sin unto God. And therefore in their prayers (when you may be cast to hear them in publick) all their expressions in prayer, are either extolling the Majesty of God, the excellency of Christ, the glory of Heaven, the riches of Grace, but not a word of laying low the creature in prayer; but raptures in prayer, and the extolling of divine Majesty: these are all the dials of expressions which they use in prayer.
Now to overthrow this vain conceit of the Antinomians, consider,
First, Confession of sin to God hath been practised by all the godly under the Old Testament; and therefore why should it not be used under the New?
Dan. 9. He made a praher to God, and it consisted of 16. verses, and 14. of them verses were spent in confessing of sin.
And thus the godly in Nehemiah’s daies made a prayer to God, and the whole prayer consisted of 32. verses, and 31. of them verses were spent in confession of sin. Nehem. 16. Let thine ear be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayst hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee day and night, for the Children of Israel thy servants, and confesse the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinued against thee, both I and my Fathers house have sinned.
Thus David, 2 Sam. 24. 10. And Davids heart smote him, after that he had numbred the people: and David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done very foolishly. That is one thing to confute this practise.
Secondly, Not onely Believers under the Old Testament, but also Converts under the New Testament, did make conscience of confessing of sins unto God, John 3▪ 6. And they were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins, Acts 19. 18. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Luke 15. 17. And when he said, How many hired servants of my Father have bread euough, and to spare, and I perish with hunger? Verse 18. I will arise, and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. It is an Embleme of a Convert, if so be it be a Parable: In the instance of the Publican, that Christ declares was uniustified rather then the Pharisee, And the Publican standing afar off,* would not lift up so much as his eyes to Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. Verse 14. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather then the other, &c.
Now (beloved) when you have instances in the Old Testament, and many examples in the New, why then should we blot out so useful a part of Gods worship as this, of confession to God in secret?
Thirdly, God doth command confession of sin unto him. Jer. 3. 12, 13. Goe and proclame these words towards the North, and say, Return thou back-sliding Israel, saith the Lord, and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you, for I am merciful saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. Onely acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, &c.
Fourthly, God both in the Old Testament and in the New, hath annexed many gracious promises to a sincere confession of sin unto him: in the Old Testament, Lev. 26. 40. If they shall confesse their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespasse which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me. Vers. 41. And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies: if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity, Then will I remember my Covenant with Jacob, &c. If they confesse their iniquity, I will remember them. And there are gracious promises made to such as confess their sins; and it is certain that a man cannot have a promise to any thing which is a duty. Prov. 22. 13. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Iob 33. 27. He looketh upon men, and if any say I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not, &c. And in the New Testament, in 1 Iohn 1. 9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all uurighteousness. Now beloved, put all these four together; the godly have practised this under the Old Testament, and converts under the New, God hath commanded it, and he hath recompenced it; therefore those that account confession of sin to be but a legal and servile work deserve reproof.
A second reproof, is to those of the Popish Religion, who in stead of secret confession of sin to God in prayer, doe presse vehemently Auricular confession in the ear of the Priest. Touching this Auricular confession, they spend many volumes to make good the divine right of it; the Councel of Trent do lay an Anathema on any that shall not count Auricular confession to be necessary to salvation. There are these several mistakes and errours in the Popish Doctrine of Auricular confession.
First, They urge the necessity of it, that you must not expect salvation without it.
Secondly, Confession against whom, and when you did it, all the circumstances of your sins you must acknowledge to the Priest.
Thirdly, That the Priest upon your confession, hath power from Christ to give you pardon, and to give you absolution; these goe currant with them about Auricular confession.
That you might see this is blame-worthy, and worthy of reproof; I shall confute it by these Confiderations.
First Consideration of the time when Auricular Confession came first in use in the Church: For 800. yeares after Christ there was no such practise in the Church of God: and that the Law of Auricular Confession was not enacted until Pope Innocent the Third,* which was about 1200. years after Christ: and the first Councel that did establish Auricular Confession, was the Laterane Councel, and after that the Councel of Trent. The Church of God in the Primitive times having no such practise, it may be exploded from being now in the Church of God.
Secondly, Why did the Popes invent Auricular confession? One doth demonstrate this;
Secondly, It is a means to get money for the Pope: for according as the sin confessed, is more capital and notorious, so the more money must be given for indulgence and pardon; thus a reverent Divine calls it, the pick lock of Sacramental confession: this being enacted meerly out of State policy to know mens secret thoughts and temper; and likewise to bring in profit and revenues to the See of Rome, which doth shew the practise to be unjustifiable.
Thirdly, Consider what the Scripture doth press concerning confession unto men, mark the Text, Jam. 5. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The Scripture doth not tie us to a Priest as the Popish Religion ties them: but it ties us, that in anguish of conscience and trouble of minde we confesse to any who are abce to give us wholsome counsel from the Lord. We are to confesse our sin to any Christian freind or member of the Church whom we judge fittest to advise us for their wisdome, faithfulness, compassion and experience.
A good note our Protestant Interpreters have against the Papists: the Apostle bids, if a man be sick, call for the Elders of the Church, and they were to pray for him; but he doth not bid them confesse sin to the Elders, but confesse sin one to another; which doth no way tie to confesse sin to a Priest. But this is a point of controversie, and blessed be God this Church is not tainted with this erour; therefore I shall leave it: this is the second sort that is to be reproved; to wit, those of the Popish, Religion, who instead of confession of sin unto God bring in auricular Confession to the Priest.
Thirdly, This Doctrine reproves those who to avoid the Popish Auricular Confession unto the Priest, deny all kind of confession of sin unto men: there are many faulty, many who keep the Devils counsel, who groan under strong corruptions, yet will never open their minds to have counsel and prayer from other men. There are some peculiar and select cases wherein we are not onely bound to confess sin unto God, but to confesse sin unto men: but before I handle this, take these two Cautions.
[Caut. 1] First Caution is this, That you are not to confesse sin needlesly to men, but when there is a great and an urgent necessity, when you are exceedingly troubled in conscience, and cannot be comforted; in such a case you may go to men to acknowledge what sins trouble your consciences: but to confesse sin needlesly to men, you are not called. God doth not love, saith Chrysostom, that we should not go to men to reveal our shame, but go to God; unless the case be very urgent, that by all the means ye can use, ye cannot ease your selves, then are ye to confesse sin in that case.
[Caut. 2] Secondly, That when ye are to confesse sin to men, you are not to confesse sin to every one; you are to confess sin to those that are compassionate, that are of ability to pray for you, to those who have wisedom and can counsel you, to those who have pitty that can compassionate you, to those who have experience that can advise you, to those that can give counsel and keep counsel: you are not to confesse your faults to any but to those you think are tender hearted, to be able to pray for you. Beloved, if a man should be in discredit and lavish in confession, and confesse his sin to every body, it may be some would jear and reproach him: Chrysostom in his Homilie on Dives and Lazarus, hath this expression, If thou confess thy sin in some mens ears, they will cast thy sins in thy face in a way of scorn: Some men would deal with you as the Pharisees did with Judas; Judas when he was smitten in conscience for sin, came to the Pharisees, and said unto them, Here is your money again, for I have sinned in betraying innocent blood: say they, What is that to us? look you to it, for what you have done: so men will express no pitty, and will give no counsel; therefore there must be wisedome in revealing of your sins to other men. Thus you have the Cautions prescribed unto you Now in what cases is it meet that men should confess their sins to men as wel as unto God? I shall resolve this to you in four Cases.
[Case 1] First, In case of publique scandal given to the Church, whereof thou art a member, by falling into some notorious and known sin, when thy sin becomes scandalous and known to all that live about thee, and the Congregation where thou dost communicate is blemished by thy fall; in that case thou art bound to make a confession, to confess thy sin to the Church. David fell into the sin of Adultery, and the sin was known among all the Gentiles, insomuch that the enemies of God spoke ill of Religion, and spoke ill of God: what doth David doe to recompence the wrong done to the Church? he makes the 51. Psalm, which was not for his private use onely but for publique use; mark the Title of it. To the chief Musitian, A Psalme of David, when Nathan the Prophet, came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. This Psalm was permitted to be sung in the Sanctuary, and in the Temple, that so the Church of God being scandalized by Davids sin, should be satisfied by Davids publick confession and repentance: Beloved, this is equitable, because the Communicants of a Congregation, of a Church, are offended by thy scandal, and whilest thy sin is notorious they are scrupled: therefore there must be a publick repentance. And besides, publick scandal given by any member of the Church may bring Gods wrath on the Congregation,* if the offender doth not confesse his sin. Josh. 22. 20. Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity. Achan sinned alone, but did not perish alone, the wrath of God fell upon all the Congregation. Therefore for the good of the Congregation and Church, whereof thou art a member; if thy sin becomes notorious and known, thou art bound to confesse it; not that every private sin must be confest to the Church, but in case of publick scandal, thou art then to compensate the congregation by manifesting thy confession.
A second Case wherein you are to confesse sin to men, is, in Case of private injury done to thy neighbour, in case of wrong, personal injury done to thy neighbour, thou art to confesse sin unto him. Mat. 5. 23, 24. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the Altar, and there remembrest that thy brother hath ought against thee: leave there thy gift before the Altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. If thy brother can say thou hast done him wrong, then go first to thy brother and be reconciled to him. Christ directs that in case of private and personal wrongs I am bound to make confession, and give all just satisfaction to the man whom I have wronged. And this Christ adviseth further, in Luke 17. 3, 4. Take heed to your selves: if thy brother trespasse against thee, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespasse against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. Christ doth here intimate, that we are to confesse sin to our brother whom we have wronged; to private men, against whom we have done private injuries; not only to God, but to them. That is a second Case wherein confession of sin is required to men as well as to God.
[Case 3] Thirdly, You are to confesse sin to men as well as to God, in case of extream trouble of conscience for some particular sin which you have done against God; when conscience flies in thy face, thou canst neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, nor be quiet; thy conscience doth so pursue thee with terrour; if thou canst not by any help of thine own get a quiet and a calme conscience, in such a case thou mayest go to a godly and experienced friend, (make thy own choice) to reveal thy case: this is the intent of the Apostles expression, Jam. 5. 16. Confesse your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. That is, when you are in extream anguish and perplexity of conscience, thou art troubled for sin, then confesse thy sin to other men and desire them to pray for thee. And in confessing to men, you are not to confesse all your sins, but only that particular sin that most troubles conscience: when you go to a Physician, you will discover no more to him then where the sore lies; you are to confesse no more to men then that particular evil that conscience troubles you most for.
The fourth and last case is this, to confesse sin to those that have been companions and co-partners with you in sin; in that case you are to go to men to confesse sin as well as to God. There are some Interpreters that do expound that place in Jam. 5. 16. Confesse your faults one to another, that is, that those that have been partners together in sin, they should go one to another to confesse their sins: if you have been a drunkard, go to thy companion, and tell him thy conscience smiteth thee for thy sin; you that have been unclean together, if God hath troubled thy conscience for thy uncleanness, why go to thy partner in sin, and tell her God hath troubled thy conscience for thy lust, and it may be this may awaken her conscience too.
Eusebius relates, that John the Evangelist in his journey, returning from Patmos to Ephesus after the death of Domitian was met by a company of theeves; amongst whom was a young man their Captain, whom John did convert, and the story saith, that this young man now converted by Johns wholsome counsel, went to all his fellow theeves, and advised them in the name of Jesus Christ, that they would not walk in that way of wickednesse; he was troubled in conscience, and therefore gave them earnest counsel, that as they loved their souls, they would not walk in that way of wickednesse; and by that means many of these great robbers became great Converts. In like manner do ye to those that know of your drunkennesse, of your adultery, &c. confesse your sins, as Demosthenes said to the Harlot, I am not the same man I was: and it may be, that so their consciences may be awakened, and they startled for it, and bethink themselves of their wicked courses, and God may work a change in them, as he hath done in you.
There is one Use more of this Point, and that is for lamentation and humiliation; to humble you in the presence of God, that seeing God calls you to confesse sin to him, you have so many palpable and manifest defects in secret confessing of your sins to God.
*Now beloved, there are ten usuall defects, to which not only the wicked but the godly are lyable in their confession of their sin unto God.
[Defect 1] The first Defect in confession of sin unso God is this, that when men come to confesse sin to God, they have such a barrennesse and confusion on their spirits, that they cannot call to remembrance their particular sins to confesse them.* Mr. Hildersham hath a good note descanting on them words in 1. John 1. 8. If we say we have no sin we deceive our selves, and the truth is not in us. Saith he, if we say that we have no sin, there is no man so grosse, to say that he hath no sin, for his own practise will give the lie to his tongue; but it is when we come to God, we doe as in effect say so, when we doe not know what sin to confesse to God; we are so confused and heedlesse in observing our own waies, that we doe not know what to confesse in prayer unto God, and that the Apostle condemns. It is storied of Donatus the father of those Heretiques that Augustine did write against, that he said to God, Non habeo Dominae quod ignoscas, I am guilty Lord of nothing for thee to pardon.
This was the fault of Bellarmine, when his Confessor came unto him on his deathbed, Bellarmine did protest unto him, that he did not know one sin that he was guilty of to confesse unto the Priest: this was heedlesnesse in him, for if he had observed his own waies, he would have found sins enough to have confest: many are heedlesse that they doe not take notice of their own evils, this is a common and an ordinary Defect; there are many when they come to prayer though they have manifold sins in them, yet they are so confused, so indistinct in the knowledge of their own waies, that they have only general confessions, Lord we have sinned, Lord we have done evil in thy sight, but cannot call to minde any particular sin they have done; Was it never thus with you, that ye did not know what to bewaile to God, and what to lament of in his presence? this is a Defect that godly men are often guilty of.
[Defect 2] A second Defect in the confession of sin to God is this, when men in prayer do confesse many sins to God, yet do leave out their master and predominant sins: many men are large in confession, yet do leave out their master sins. Moses, though a good man, yet was faulty in this regard; God commanded him to go to Egypt to deliver his people, but saith Moses, I am not eloquent, I am of a slow speech; he did complain of a natural defect, but he did not complain of a spiritual defect, but God did answer all his pleas in Exod. 4. 19. And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead that sought thy life. Vers. 20. And Moses took his wife, and his sons, and set them upon an asse, and he returned to the land of Egypt. So that God here put his finger upon the sore: Moses complained of the peoples incredulity, of his own natural infirmity, but Moses did not complain of his slavish fear, that if he should go to Egypt there were men that would kill him; till God did assure Moses that those men that sought to kill him were dead, Moses would not go: here a good man would not confesse his slavish fear, that he did fear death; therefore he would not go on Gods command. Beloved, this is a Defect that doth many times cleave to godly men to leave out their predominant sins, and to confesse only those sins which are sins of infirmity; and herein men do but dissemble with God, and like the lapwing crie lowdest when farthest from the nest.
[Defect 3] A third Defect in confession of sin to God is this, to have the heart to hanker after the committing of those sins you do confesse. Austin doth ingenuously acknowledg this of himself, saith he, I did often beg strength of God against the sin of incontinency, yet had often an unwillingnesse in my heart that God should hear my prayers, lest I should leave my sins. Indeed conviction of conscience doth force to a confession of sin, yet the strength of thy depraved affection doth make thee hanker after the sin, and cause a lothnesse to leave it.
[Defect 4] A fourth Defect in confession of sin to God is this, to confesse to God the sins of your life, but not the sins of your nature: many men will be large in confessing the sins of their life, but seldom or never bewail the sins of nature, that vicious inclination in the heart to sin; very few but David in the Old Testament, and Paul in the New, who did sufficiently confesse original sin, David in the Old Testament,*Psal. 51. there he begins to bewail the root of those sins which he was guilty of. So Paul in Rom. 7. bewails the body of sin:* many men bewail actual sin, but not habitual sin, but not original sin: many men bewail bad actions, but never confesse unto God their vicious inclination. This Defect good men many times are guilty of.
[Defect 5] A fifth defect is this, to confesse grosse and open sins, but not to confesse small and secret evils: we are commanded to keep the Law as the apple of our eye, Prov. 7. 2. Keep my commandements and live, and my Law as the apple of thine eye. Now you know, a man that keeps his eye will not only keep his eye from great blowes, but from small motes, which may put out the eye as well as a great blow; men should not only take heed of great blowes, great transgressions, but they should take heed of lesser motes, small sins. Now beloved, good men many times commit those sins that are infamous, that the natural light of conscience can control them for, why those evils are complained of, and confest; but secret evils, wandring thoughts in duties, vanity of minde, the deadnesse of the heart, emptinesse of spiritual meditations, inward distrust; these evils are seldome bewailed and confest: this is many times a Defect found in good men, good men are not so apt to confesse omission of good, as commission of evil:
[Defect 6] A sixt Defect in confession of sin to God, is this, to confesse sin more because of its guilt, then of its spot: my meaning is, more because sin hath a damning power, then a defiling nature; more because sin damns thy soul, then defiles thy conscience. A child would touch a coal though it be smutty and soily, but he forbears to touch it meerly because it is a burning coal: we forbeare sin because sin is a burning coale, but we doe not forbear to touch it because it is a defiling coal: that is a defect in many godly men to be found. But we should confesse sin and bewaile it, not because it wil damn us, but because it doth dishonour God.
[Defect 7] A seventh defect in confession of sins to God, is this, to confesse those sins to God, which if men should charge us with, we should deny and be angry. This holy Greenham doth take notice of in mens confession of sin; thou wilt confesse thy pride to God: but if a man should say that thou art proud, thou wouldst be angry with him; thou wilt confesse thy waies to God, but if men should tell thee of thy sins, thou wouldst be angry with them: this shews there is much defect in your confession.
[Defect 8] The eighth defect in confession of sin unto God is this, not to have the heart sensibly affected with those sins that are confessed to God; many confesse as if they were telling stories rather what other men did, then what themselves did: there are few that confesse sin as the Prodigall did, that he was ashamed to be called the son of his father. We should confesse sin as Daniel did, Dan. 9. and as David did, Psa. 51. But many confesse sin like Pharaoh, Exod. 9. 27. And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time, the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. Vers. 34. And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail, and the thunder were ceased, he s•nned yet more, and hardned his heart〈…〉.
[Defect 9] The ninth defect in confes•ion of sin to God is this, to content your selves with slight, ordinary, and generall confessions of sins, to come into Gods presence and say you are sinners just as 〈◊〉 the eleventh king of France, who when he had blasphemed would take his Crucifix and kisse, and cry, God forgive me, and then sweare again: this is the fault which Christians many times are guilty of, many men rest contented with a confused and a generall confession of sin when they doe not come to any distinct view of their particular sins, there is a tumult in the conscience some noyse they make in prayer, but they know nothing distinctly, but like Nebuchadnezzar in a dream, he knew he dreamt, but he forgot what his dream was: many men doe confesse sin, but they know not what they doe confesse. You are to be humbled for these defects that may be found in you• in your confessing sin to God.
[Defect 10] A tenth defect in confession of sin to God is this, that they are bold to commit the sin again which they have confest: they confesse passion, and afterward are bold and adventrous to run into a rage and fury. When a man shall confesse on his knees he hath done thus and thus, and hath been thus and thus; yet afterwards all the impressions of these confessions are defaced, and he is bold to adventure on the commission of the sin again; This is also a defect that may be found amongst good men in their confession of sin unto God.
Me thinks I hear you ask me, But seeing these defects are found amongst us, in confession of sin unto God, what should we doe to be healpt against these defects? For answer, that ye may not be guilty of these defects in confession of sin,
[Rule 1] First, Get a cleare insight into Gods Law, that it may discover sin to you, by the Law is the knowledge of sin, Rom. 3. 20. Therefore by the deeds of the Law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the Law is the knowledge of sin. Jam. 1. 23. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glasse. Vers. 24. For he beholdeth himse;lf, and goeth his way, and straight way forgetteth what manner of man he was. The looking-glasse will shew you the blemishes in the face, which the eye cannot else discern: beloved, get a knowledge of the spiritualnesse of Gods Law, of the extent of Gods Law, that the Law doth reach the inward man, that Gods law reacheth to those very first motions of the soul, those very inclinations to sin that are in thine heart, be acquainted with the Law, and by that thou wilt come to the knowledge of sin. Physicians have used this remedy to their Patients: In a Convulsion Fit, they would wish them at that time, to look their face in a glasse, that when the Patient doth see what an ugly countenance he hath, and what an ugly posture he is in at that time, he might strive the more against it: So doe you▪ look your face in a looking-glasse to see those deformities that are within you, this will make you confesse, and this will bring you on your knees.
[ 2] Secondly, If you would confesse sin aright, observe diligently your own waies and hearts.*Prov. 4. 25. Let thine eyes look right on,*and let thine eye-lid look straight before thee. Vers. 26. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy waies be stablished. Look right before you and ponder the waies of your feet, and that is the way to have the heart so affected with the evil of your waies as you will particularly confesse your sins.
[ 3] Thirdly, Keep fresh in your remembrance some particular sin or other, when you come to prayer it will help you in confession; it is barrennesse as I told you that you do not see what matter you have to confesse, that makes you so scanted in you confession; would you but present some particular sin when you come to God, you would be in better plight to confesse sin to God; this the Psalmist doth, 51. vers. 3. For I acknowledg my transgessions, and my sin is ever before me. He means the sin of Adultetery. When David came to prayer, he would put before his eyes the sin of adultery: now set thy sin before thee, Art thou a drunkard? set they drunkenesse before thee: art thou an adulterer? set thy uncleannesse before thee: art thou an extortioner? then set thy oppression before thee;* set sin before thine eyes when thou commest to prayer, and that is the way to feed thy spirits with confessions to God in a prayer.
Fourthly, Call to remembrance some old transgression of many yeares past before thy conversion, and muster up these sins together, that so thou mightest have matter of complaint and confession before God. Suppose present guilt doth not come up before thee; then recollect and review old transgressions, sins of an old date; this▪ David did when he found his heart dull and sluggish, he would call to minde the sins of his youth, Psal. 35. 9. When you see that your hearts grow barren of spiritual matter through heedlesnesse, go then and ransack your old waies what did you 20 years agoe, let conscience gawle you for that, that so you may have matter enough to confesse unto God. This rule doth not appertain to Christians under trouble of conscience, but only to those Christians that are sluggish and barren of any spiritual complaints and confessions in Gods presence.
A word of Use further for direction.
If it be so, that Justified persons are bound to make secret confessions unto God: then,
First, Christians keep a heedfulnesse over your hearts, that you may not let sin go unconfest; make conscience and be heedful that sin committed by you may not be unconfest: a sin unconfest as to the apprehension may be unpardoned; a sin unconfest cannot be mourned for, cannot be actually repented of. Observe, that a lesse sin unrepented of, may damn a man, when a greater sin that is confest to God may be pardoned: if you compare Saul and David together, 1 Sam. 15. 9. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the oxen, and of the fallings, and of the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile, and refuse, that they distroyed utterly. Saul did there commit a farre lesse sin then Davids was, to wit, adultery, Saul did only for his private use spare the fattest of his sheep and oxen▪ it was little or nothing in comparison of Davids sin, yet behold David was pardoned and Saul damned, David had his sin pardoned and Saul not: why? David did confesse sin, and Saul not: Saul did delude the reproof of Samuel, and told him the people did it, and not I; Sauls sin unconfest ruined him: therefore take heed of letting sin go unconfest, a lesse sin unconfest may damn a man, when a greater sin that is confest may not damn him.
A second Direction is this, Depend not upon the most inlarged and the most sensible confessions that ever you have made to God, suppose thou hast poured out thy soul to God, thou art never the better: thou O man when thou doest confesse sin, thou doest but like a begger shew God thy sores, thy botches, and scabs, do not depend upon your confessions; as you must not depend upon your righteousnesse, so not upon confession of your sinfulnesse. It is worth your observation, Saul pursuing David like a Partridge over the mountains, David cut off the lap of his garment; saith David, well, I have sinned; and Saul, thou art more righteous then I: when Nathan came to David, David said, I have sinned, and Nathan told him, the Lord hath taken away thy iniquity. Saul said, I have sinned, yet the Prophet Samuel told him, the Lord hath taken away thy Kingdom: here is not the same result, for David had his sin taken away, and Saul had his Kingdom taken away, therefore do not depend on your confessions.
Thirdly, Take this Direction, that when you confess sin to God and are the most vile in your own eyes, you are then most amiable in Gods eye: Cant. 1. 6. Look not upon me becaus I am black, becaus the sun hath looked upon me. The Church there confest to Christ I am black and not comely, she was sun-burnt as she thought. I, but in verse 8. My Love my Dove, thou art the fairest among women: Christ lookt on her as the fairest among women: so likewise in Cant. 2. 14. O my Dove, thou art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the staires: let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voyce; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. When the poore Dove, the Church, lay in a hole under the staires, bewailing and mourning like a Dove for her sinfulnesse, O saith Christ to her, let me see thy face, and let me hear thy voyce. Christ doth love to hear the moan-makings of his people, Jer. 31. 18. I have surely heard Ephraim, be moaning himself thus, Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a Bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; thou art the Lord my God. It is worth your notice, Job when he was afflicted by God in having botches and boyles all over his body, it is said, Job made his complaint to God, Chap. 7. vers. 20. I have sinned, what shall I doe unto thee, O thou preserver of men? I have sinned saith Job, but what doth God say of Job? in all this Job sinned not, Job. 1. 22. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. It was not spoken absolutely he sinned not, but the meaning is, he sinned not so as other men sinned. The more you bewaile, condole, & confesse sinne to God, & are by reason thereof vile in your own eyes, the more amiable you are in Gods eyes. And thus I have done with the first part of the Text, I said I will confesse my trangression unto the Lord.
I have been all this while in these Sermons on Davids Act, I said I will confesse my transgression unto the Lord. I am now come to Gods Act, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sinne. Thou forgavest, &c. that is, not only my sinne, but the malignity of it, with all its agravations, all its hainous circumstances: Now here touching Gods Act, two things are to be observed,
[ 1] First the manner of bringing in this Act of God, the Psalmist doth not bring it in thus with an Ergo, I said I wil confesse my transgression to the Lord, therefore he forgave the iniquity of my sinne, but it is with an et, a conjunctive particle, and not a causall, I confesse〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉and thou forgavest.
Secondly, Observe this further, the manner of the expression, the confession was in purpose and intention, but the forgivenesse is actuall: observe from hence this note, That God doth recompence the very gracious purposes as well as performances of his own servants; God forgave, but David did but purpose to confesse; I said I will confesse, and thou forgavest. O beloved what a God doe yee serve! your masters are not pleased with your purposes to work, if you doe no labour with your hands; you serve a God which takes will for work; God takes purposes if they be reall, for performances. The Lord doth recompense not onely gracious performances, but also gracious purposes in his owne servants.
The Vse or corollary from hence is this:
That wicked men looke to it, God will not onely punish their wicked practices, but their wicked purposes: Didst thou ever purpose to be uncleane, or to deceive, and it may be thou wast interrupted, that thou couldst not have secrecy & opportunity? Why, God will punish thee for thy purpose, though thou never dost act it. Beloved, it is not onely what evill thou hast done, but what evill thou wouldst have done: Wouldst not thou have been an oppressour, if the World would not have cry’d shame on thee? wouldst not thou have been a drunkard, if the world would not brand thee with infamy? God will punish wicked men for evill purposes.
Further to godly men, Thou canst not mourn, but wouldst thou mourn? thou canst not confesse sinne, but wouldst thou confesse sinne? thou canst not break thy heart, but wouldst thou break thy heart? God looks on your purposes with approbation, as well as your practises. As here David, I said I will confess my sin & thou forgavest.
Thirdly, God doth not onely look on wicked mens purposes, to punish them for them, and good mens purposes to reward them for them; but God doth looke on the purposes of devils to doe hurt, for to prevent them: A notable passage, Luk. 21. Peter, Peter, saith Christ, Satan hath desired to winnow thee like Wheat. I have (actually) prayed: the hurt was only the devils purpose, and the devils desire; but when the temptation was but in the desire, then saith Christ, I have actually prayed for thee. O fall down and admire the condescension of Christ, he doth crown your purposes and endeavours, and desires: I said I will confesse my transgression, and thou hast forgiven the iniquity of my sin.
From the connexion of confession and forgivenesse of sinne, And thou forgavest, which is by way of connextion not causation, with an et not an ergo. The Doctrine I hence observe is this, That there is a necessary connexion between a penitentiall confession of sinne, and forgivenesse of sinne. I confessed, and God forgave. You have frequent testimonies that inculcate this on your thoughts, Prov. 28. 13. He that covereth his sinnes, shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Job, 33. 27. He looketh upon men, and if any said, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, & it profited me not. Vers. 28. He will deliver his soule from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.
In the handling of this point, there are these particulars which I shall dispatch.
[Part. 1] First, What is meant by forgiving sin; To explicate this, there are three things which are needful to be spoken to.
First for the varieties of names and expressions of forgivenesse.
First pardon of sin is a casting of sinne behind the back, Isaiah. 38. 17. Behold for Peace I had great bitternesse, but thou hast in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption,*for thou hast cast all my sinnes behinde thy back. In Scripture to cast a thing behind the back,* signifies to forget and disregard it; so wicked men cast Gods Covenant behind their backs; that is, they doe not mind it, they will not obey it: so when God is said to cast sinne behinde his back, he will take no notice of it so as to punish it.
[ 2] A second expression that illustrates pardon of sinne, is this, it is called a casting of sinne into the bottom of the Sea, Micah. 7. 29. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us, he will subdue our iniquities, and will cast all our sins into the depths of the Sea. It is an allusion unto Gods great Judgement on Pharaoh and the Egyptian Host; when they pursued the Israelites, they came to the Red Sea, and thinking to goe through as the Israelites did, the Sea fell in upon them, and they were drowned in the bottom of the sea, so saith God, I wil deal with sinne as I dealt with Pharaoh, you shall never be troubled more with them, not unto condemnation, you need not fear the rising of sin again, against you; sin is not like unto light weeds in the Sea, that will swim of themselves, but Lead that is cast into the Sea, the allusion holds here,*Exod. 15. 10. Thou didst blow with the wind, the Sea covered them, they sank as lead in the mighty waters.* God when he pardons sins and casts them into the bottom of the Sea, sin lies like lead, it can never rise of it selfe in a way of condemnation to a justified man, to a pardoned sinner.
[ 3] Thirdly, pardon of sin is expressed in Scripture, by blotting out, Act. 3. 19. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, &c. Isa. 43. 25. I even I am he, that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake. This is a metaphor taken from men, when a man is not able to pay his debt, the Creditor doth cancel the Bond, blots out the writing and breaks the Seal, that nothing shall prevail in Law against this poor man. So the Lord doth cancell the bond, and blots out the writing, that neither sin, nor the Devill shall have any processe against him in a way of condemnation.
[ 4] Fourthly, Pardon of sin is expressed in Scripture by acquitting of a man from his iniquity, Job. 10. 14. If I sin, thou markest me, and thou wilt not, or, aquit me then (not set mee free) from mine iniquity. Acquitting is a term of Law, giving you a discharge and dismission of the Court; the Lord in pardoning of sin, gives a man a Legall discharge, that no proceedings of Heaven shall goe against him.
[ 5] Fifthly, Pardon of sin is called in Scripture a covering of sin, Psal. 32. 1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered. Beloved, if pardon of sin had consisted in the removing of sin, we had been undone, pardon of sin doth not consist in the removall of all sin out of a man, but in the covering of sin; God will hide sin, that the fiercenesse of his wrath, and the Eye of his indignation shal not look on it to condemnation, It is the same word that refers to garments〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.* If a man hath a Mole or Wenne on his body which his garment covers,* these infirmities are not seen by men. Beloved, God covers sin as with a garment, to wit, with the long robe of Christs Righteousnesse, sin is covered in thee by the Righteousnesse of Jesus Christ.
[ 6] Sixtly, Pardon of sin is expressed in Scripture, by washing and purging away of sin, Psalm. 51. 2. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin; he means there in reference to justification; That pardon of sin presents a man to God without spot or wrinkle, or blemish, or any such thing, that though you have many spots in regard of your sanctification, yet you have no spot in regard of your justification.
[ 7] Seventhly, pardon of sin is expressed in Scripture, by not remembring of sin; Jer. 31. 34. For I will forgive their iniquity; and I will remember their sin no more. It is an allusion to the Scape-goat, which was to bear the sins of the people on his head, to carry them into the land of forgetfulnesse; Thus the Lord that remembers all things, that God is said graciously not to remember the sins of his people, not to remember them so, as to damn them for them; he will forget your iniquities and remember them no more.
[ 8] Lastly, Pardon of sinne, is expressed in Scripture, by not imputing of sin, Rom. 4. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin? It is a word drawn from Merchants, when they have a friend that owes them money that they care not whether they receive or no, they do not put it down in their Book. God will not impute sin, he will not set sin on the score, he will not put sin to thine account, though sin be in thee, yet it is not imputed to thee. Thus these names or expressions do something Illustrate the nature of forgivenesse.
In the next place, to enquire how many wayes a sinne may be said to be forgiven.
First in regard of Gods decree, and so sin is forgiven before all Worlds, because God intended to deliver the Elect, that such a remnant and number of men should have sin pardoned. Thus Christ is the Lamb slaine from the beginning of the World.
Secondly, Sin is said to be forgiven when the Lord doth manifest forgivenesse of sin.
Thirdly and chiefly, Sin is said to be forgiven, when the eternall guilt and condemnation due for that sin is taken away, when God doth expiate or take off the guilt of sin, in that properly lies the nature of forgivenesse.
In the third place what is considered in sin, when God is said to forgive it; this is worth your understanding.
Three things are to be considered in sin.
First the blot and pollution of sin; and this cannot be taken away by pardon, the sin is a sin though it be pardoned, the pollution of sin is not taken away by pardon, the blot remaines.
Secondly, There is considered the desert of sin, it deserves damnation, and the wrath of God; though it be pardoned, this is not taken away.
A Third thing considered is this, the Ordination or appointment of a sinner to eternall punishment; and this is fully taken away by pardon, when God doth give remission of sin, he doth take away all obligation to wrath, death, hell, and damnation; and this is properly the nature of forgivenesse of sin, it is a gracious and a free act of God, whereby he acquits a sinner from eternall guilt and eternall punishment, that is due to all his sin in an eternall punishment, God doth not acquit a pardoned man from externall punishments, God may pardon thy sin, yet he may punish thee externally for thy sinnes, but not eternally; and thus much for the first particular.
[Part. 2] The second particular is, What kind of confession of sin is it that hath such a necessary connexion with forgivenesse of sin, I confest and thou forgavest.
For answer in the generall, it is not every kind of confession that carries a connexion of pardon, Saul confest his sin, but God did not take away his sin, but tooke away his Kingdom. It is not every kind of confession that hath a connexion with forgivenesse of sin, but that confession which hath connexion with pardon of sin, it hath six concomitants joyned with it.
[ 1] First it is a free and ingenuous confession, not extorted by force, not with sinfull reserves, but a free, a full and ingenuous confession, that is the meaning of that Phrase, Psal. 32. 21. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit is no guile; Guile is not there taken largely in opposition to Hypocrisie, but for a sinfull reserve of sin, when a man will not be free and open in confessing his sin unto God; David would freely and fully open himselfe and confesse his evils unto God; that confession that is a free and ingenuous confession, it hath pardon of sin annexed to it; the confessions of them that rowle sin under the tongue, as a sweet morsell that they would not part with, have not justification entailed on them; those confessions onely are connected with forgiveness that are ingenuous and free.
[ 2] Secondly, that confession which hath pardon annexed to it is a penitential confession, a confession that hath sorrow of heart mixt with it, Ps. 38. 18. For I will declare mine iniquity, I will be sorry for my sin. True confession of sin is rather a voice of mourning, then a voice of words, it hath ever a sorrow and grief of heart joined with it; That prescription, that God gave to the Leper in the Law, that he should be cleansed from his leprosi• and in Levit. 13. 45. And the Leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and hee shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry unclean, unclean, is worth your notice, he was to cry twice, I am unclean, Lam unclean; there was this confession, but what was joined with his confession before hee could be cleansed? Two things he must do, First, he must rent his clothes; to note, that there must be brokennesse of heart, and sorrow of heart joyned with confession of sin. Secondly, he must cover his lip, to note shame that must be mingled with his sorrow, to shew, that to us that have an unclean leprosie of sin in us, the crying I am unclean, unclean, is not enough; but there must be the renting of the heart, and shame of face; these must be mingled with those confessions that have a connexion with forgivenesse.
[ 3] Third Concomitant of confession that hath pardon annexed to it, is this, That there must be a voluntary and a free leaving of those sins which we doe confesse. To confess sin, yet to have a lothnesse in the spirit to part with it, is no reall confessing of sin. Prov. 28. 13. He that covereth. his sin shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Confession is there joyned to be with a forsaking of sin,* in case mercy be to be obtained. One •cals confession a spirituall vomit; you know a man that is burdened in the stomack, would be willingly rid of that load on his stomach that doth oppresse nature; a man that doth confess sin truly would as willing be rid of sin on his Conscience, as a man that is sick at his Stomach would be rid of that burden which doth oppresse it, such a confession hath pardon annexed with it.
[ 4] Fourthly that confession that hath pardon annexed to it, is joyned with a holy aw and fear of running into the commission of those sins that we do confesse to God, Psal. 38. 18. compared with Psal. 39. 1. For I will declare mine iniquity, I will be sorry for my sin, I said I will take heed to my wayes that I sin not with my tongue. Davids confessing sin did worke in him a holy awe, and a holy care to take heed of those sins he had confest, to confesse sin and to be bold and adventurous to run into sin, hath not such a connexion, with pardon.
[ 5] Fifthly, That confession that hath pardon annexed to it, doth quicken the soul to strong & earnest supplication, to prayer. David confest sin & his confession quickened Prayer, Daniel confest sin, and confession quickened supplication; Daniel 9. 20. And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, &c. (Beloved,) when confessions of sin are to prayer as the whet-stone to the knife; when you sharpen your affections and put a keen edge on your hearts in prayer: this is an evident token that such confession hath a connexion with forgivenesse of sin. So much for the second particular.
[Part. 3] The third particular is to shew you, how doth this connexion between confession of sin and forgivenesse of sin consist with the feernesse of Gods grace in pardoning of sin, in placing a connexion between pardon and confession? How doth this consist with the freenesse of of Gods grace in pardoning of sin? For answer;
[Ans. 1] First if we should place a causality or a merit in confession of sin to procure pardon, as the Papists doe, this would overthrow the free Grace of God in forgiving sin: though wee do place a connexion between confessing sin, and pardon of sin; yet wee do not place any merit in those confessions, we do not place any worth, any causality in those confessions: that is my first answer.
[Ans. 2] Secondly, The Scripture makes a fair consistency between mans confessing sin, and Gods free Grace in forgiving sin: the Scripture makes a double consistency. First in regard of the Precept that doth enjoyn and command confession. 2. In regard of the means that this is a way to procure pardon.
[ 1] First, In regard of the command, God doth command us to confesse sin; Now no command of God that he would have us doe, can derogate from his free grace, therefore surely this command can no way eclipse the freenesse of grace in what he will doe.
Secondly, In regard of means as a way to get pardon: God is the efficient cause, and Christ is the meritorious cause of pardon; but yet confession of sin is that cause which Logicians call (causa sine quâ non) without which pardon of sin shall never be obtained,* I confest and thou forgavest.
[Answ. 3] A third answer, Though no man can be pardoned for his confession, yet no man shall have pardon without confession: Repent that your sins may be blotted out, Act. 3. 19. No blotting out of sin without repentance; there must be a sorrow & bewailing of sin before it can be pardoned; and that Christ was broken for sin, it will no ways exempt you from being broken for sin; though Christ was a man of sorrow, & all in a way of satisfaction, yet you must shed teares for sin in a way of contrition and humiliation.
[Answ. 4] Lastly, This connexion between confessing sin and Gods forgiving sin, is not as if our confession did bear any proportion in a way of satisfaction to Gods forgiving of sin; though God doth forgive sin upon confession, yet it is not for confession; there is more evill in thy sin that is an offence to God, then there can be good in thy confession; And thus much for the third particular, that there is a connexion between Gods act of forgiving sin and our confessing sin.
I now come to answer the Objections.
[Object. 1] The first Objection is this, Why but you will say, what need all this pressing of confession of sin, urging, that there is a necessary connexion between mans confession of sin and Gods forgiving sin? what needs confession? doth not Gods eyes run to and fro the earth? doth not God behold the evill and the good, and fully knoweth all the evils under the Sun? what we tel God when hee knoweth all things? This Objection the Anabaptists make against confession of sin. For answer.
[Answ.] First, Negatively, we doe not confesse sin because only of Gods Soveraignty, because God will have us to confesse sin, Gods Soverainty may command us and say, You shal come with ropes about your Necks, and I will make you lie in the dust.
[ 2] Secondly, Wee doe not confesse sin, to inform God of our sins, for God knoweth all things.
[ 3] Thirdly wee do not confesse sin by way of satisfaction, as if your confession could satisfie Gods justice for the wrong we have done him.
But Positively, though God doth know our sins, yet we are bound to confesse our sins for many solid reasons; As;
[ 1] First, Though God doth see our sins, yet wee are bound to confesse our sins that wee may see them our selves, that we may put memory & conscience and heart a work, in the review, & in the remembrance of our evils, we do not confesse sin to inform God, but our selves, that wee might see sin more distinctly, and so set conscience a work.
[ 2] Secondly, We do confesse sin, to stir up more sorrow for sin, Psalm. 38. verse. 18.
[ 3] Thirdly, We confesse sin on this ground, that by confessing sin to God we might see sin to become exceeding sinfull. Confession of sin saith Bernard, is enjoined by God for this reason, that thou mightest magnifie the greatnesse of grace, and see the greatnesse of sin; if a man should never see his sin, he could never magnifie Gods grace and pardoning mercy.
[ 4] Fourthly, That you might more prize the merits of Christ. Should a man never confesse sin to God, he would never see of what value Christs bloud is of. A Chirurgions skill is not seen in healing a slight green wound; but in the healing a man of a deadly disease: Beloved, an ordinary plaister can cure a green wound: if you look on your sins as green wounds, you will never prize Christ, nor put an estimate on his merits and bloud, when a man can confesse his sin, withall its hainous circumstances, this doth greaten the merits of Christ.
[ 5] Fifthly, You are to confesse sin, because the confession of sin doth give glory to the attributes of God; it gives glory to his Omnisciency, you doe by your confessions acknowledge that God seeth your sins: it gives glory to his Patience that he would spare you in the act of sin, that he would not throw you to hell in the very act of sin: it gives glory to his Justice, Psalm 51. 4. Against thee, thee onely have I sinned, and done this evill in thy s•ght, that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, & be clear when thou judgest: it confesseth Gods Mercy, and this Paul doth, 1 Tim. 1. 13. Who was before a Blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy, &c. He confest his sin that so he might the abundance of Gods grace and Love.
[ 6] Again, Of confession of sin there is great use, because it doth ease the minde, it gives vent to a troubled minde, concealed guilt breeds horrour and hell in the conscience; it is an ingenuous clearnesse when a man can open himself to God in free confession, which doth allay the anguish and trouble of minde, Job. 32. 18. For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me, vers. 19. Behold, my Belly is as Wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new bottles: vers. 20. I will speake that I may be refreshed, I will open my lips and answer. A godly man is full of matter, of confession to God, and like a vessel ready to burst, til he can vent himself by confession in Gods presence; this is the answer to the first Objection.
[Object. 2] A second Objection is this, but you will say, what need such pressing of confessing of sin, as having a connection with pardon? for as God is never the better by my grace; so God is never the worse by my sin: as my grace addes nothing to Gods holiness, so my sin can detract nothing from Gods glory; for God is nevertheless Glorious though I be never so much sinfull: One might urge as Elihu did in Job. 5. 37. If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth hee of thine hand? vers. 8. Thy wickednesse may hurt a man as thou art, and thy righteousnesse may profit the son of man. Therefore if God receives no injury by my sin, what need I confesse sin to God? This is an objection that the Antinomians make. For answer,
[Ans. 1] First, It is true, God is not the worse, and hath not the lesse glory, though thou hast the more sin; yet this is no thanks to a sinner, for a sinner doth what in him lies to take all glory from God, to pull God out of Heaven, it is no thanks to thee that God is never the worse for thy sin.
[ 2] Secondly, In a sense God doth receive injury by a mans sin; as first, if you consider the eternall attributes of God in themselves, his Justice, his Goodnesse, his Wisedom, so God is unchangeably, and immutably blessed: and as our graces can give no additions to his Holinesse; so our sin can give no diminution to his glory; but secondly, sin is an injury to God, because God hath lesse externall glory. God by the sin of man is not wronged in his essentiall Glory, but he is injured in his manifestative Glory.
[ 3] Thirdly, Though our sins can doe no injury to God, to make God unholy, or to make God unhappy; yet sin doth great injury to your selves; if thou beest sinfull, what wilt thou doe against God? why, thou canst not bring God out of Heaven, though thou maist cast thy selfe into hell, God receives no diminution of his Holinesse, of his Wisedom, of his Glory, by thy sinfulnesse, yet thou shalt not have Glory, Holinesse, Happinesse, Heaven, nor eternall life, thou shalt receive miseries by thine own sins; And thus I have done with the Doctrinall part of this point; to wit, that there is a necessary connection, between mens confessing sin and Gods act in forgiving of sin.
I now come to the Use, which is for triall, to put you on a diligent enquiry, how you may know whether God hath brought you into a pardoned estate, and hath forgiven the iniquity of your sin; how may 〈◊〉 known whether God hath forgiven you your iniquities? There are ten wayes to discover this; I shall divide them into this order: there are six Concomitants, that doe attend a person in a pardoned estate, and four charactors laid downe in Scripture of a man whose sin is forgiven him. First the Concomitants or those things in the Scripture which doe attend or accompany a person whose sin is forgiven,
[ 1] First, In Scripture wee find that remission of sin is accompanied with renovation of the heart, if sin be remitted the heart is renewed; they are both joined together, Rev. 2. 17. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden Manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Interpreters doe give this sense of that promise: you read of two things, a white Stone, and a new name written in that stone; the white stone it is an expression borrowed from the practice of the Gentiles, who in their Judicature did use a white stone: If a malefactour was condemned, and had the sentence of death past upon him, there was given him a black stone in token of condemnation;* but if a man had a white stone given him it was a token of absolution or pardon. Hence the Heathens named these stones 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 acquitting or condemning stones. And so the Poet,
In antient times with stones they did,
In judgement seat proceed.
By black the guilty were condemn’d,
The just by white were freed.
In allusion to this,* Christ doth here promise pardon of sin, which is meant by the stone; but what must be written on this white stone? there must be written on this white stone, a new Name, that is a renovation, the renewing of the heart: so that if so be the nature of a man be not renewed, the sin of a man is not pardoned; therefore •oe not boast of having your white stone, if there be• blanck on that stone, if there be nothing written on that stone, if holinesse be not written on that stone, pardon of sin hath renewing of nature to attend it.
[ 2] A second Concomitant is this, Remission and forgivenesse of sin is accompanied with endearednesse of love to Jesus Christ: this is laid down in Luk. 7. 47. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many are forgiven, for she loved much. It is a Concomitant that did attend her pardon, much was forgiven her, therefore she loved much. For not a cause, but consequence of pardon.
[ 3] Thirdly, forgivenesse of sin is accompanied in Scripture, with a cordiall confession of sin unto God: I acknowledged my transgressions unto the Lord▪ and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. 1 Job. 1. 9. If we confesse our sins, he is faithfull and Just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnesse.
[ 4] Fourthly, forgivenesse of sin, is accompanied in Scripture, with a cordiall forgiving other men all the personall wrongs and injuries that they have done you. Mat. 18. 35. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye from your heart forgive not every one his brother their trespasses: It is in the Lords prayer annexed, forgive us our trespasses, Mat. 6. So that forgiving of other men is in Scripture as an Attendant or Concomitant of Gods forgiving us. Put on as the Elect of God, saith the Apostle, bowels of mercy, forbearing and forgiving one another.
[ 5] A fifth Concomitant that attends forgivenesse of sin, is repentance from dead works: repentance for sin is a Concomitant that is ever joyned with the forgivenesse of sin:*Act 5. 31. Him hath God exalted with his Right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour,*for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. There they are linckt together to give repentance & remission of sin. It is a Question among the Schoolemen, Whether God by his absolute power can forgive a man his sin, if a man doth not repent him of sin. There are few of them that do incline to the affirmative, because God hath expresly tied himself in the Word, that pardon must have repentance for sin. Wee are commanded to repent that wee may have pardon.*
Sixtly,* Forgivenesse of sin, is accompanied with holy endeavours for the mortification of sin: he that hath the guilt of sin pardoned, labours to have the power of sin destroyed; therefore in Scripture pardoning mercy and subduing grace, they are both joyned together, Mic. 7. 19. He wi• turn again, he will have compassion upon us, he will subdue our iniquities, and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the Sea: there is subduing grace, as well as pardoning mercy. Beloved if God pardon sin there are reall endeavours in a soul to have the power of sin taken away. Indeed many men in the world do lay claim to pardon, who never have endeavours, and holy pursuits after mortification: many have counterfeit mortification, who playwith their sins like Fencers; which it may be given them a touch, a slight blow, but do not fight like warriers, either to kill or to be kill’d: but godly men do not play with their sins, but doe with their lusts as a warrier, they doe conflict with lusts on these terms, that either wee must kill them, or they will kill us. Many counterfeit Christians who do lay claim to reall pardon, have but counterfeit mortifications; I may fitly resemble such men as these to the Persians, who had one Festival annually where in they used this custome, that they laboured to finde out all their venomous creatures, as Snakes, Serpents and the like: and one day in the year they would kill all which they found, but afterwards they let them encrease. Many men in some solemn performances to God, will make great adoe of killing their lusts, but afterwards they let them encrease and live again. And thus much for the six-Concomitants that do attend a person in a pardoned state.
The next is, the Characters to be given of a pardoned man, of a man whose sin is forgiven; I will name but four Characters of a pardoned sinner.
[Char. 1] First, this, He who is brought into a pardoned estate, doth greatly admire God, and abase himself: this is laid down in the 7. of Micah,* the Prophet brings in the Churches crying out in the extolling of God, Who is a God like unto thee, pardoning iniquity, transgression & sin! a pardoned man admires God, because his grace is free, & his bounty is great: and a pardoned man abaseth himself, because he seeth sin exceeding sinfull, see Ezra, 9. 6.
[Char. 2] Secondly, A pardoned man doth maintain a holy dread in his heart from committing that sin that he knoweth to be pardoned; a pardoned sinner knoweth this, that before a sin can be pardoned, it did cost Christ much, and will cost himself much; it did cost Christ much bloud to expiate the guilt of that sin; it will cost the sinner many teares to destroy the power of that sin; now that sin which he hath smarted for, and Christ hath suffered for, he will not easily commit. Psal. 38. when the Psalmist said, he would declare his iniquity:* then in Psal. 39. he saith, I will take heed to my wayes; as if he should have said,* I am sorry for my sin, and the Lord hath forgiven me mine iniquity: but here is the result of it, I will take heed to my ways, and of my sinning another time: there is no man that knoweth his sin to be pardoned, that can easily run into the commission of it again,* it is an exeellent expression in the book of Job. If I sin then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity. If I sin, it is not here spoken absolutely and simply; for what man is he that lives and sinneth not? but if I sin as I am charged, that I should sin murmuring and maliciously against God, and persist in my sin, saith Job, If I sin as yee charge me, what followes? then God will not take away mine iniquity, he will not pardon my sin; as Job said of himself, you may say of your selves: if I sin obstinately, and pertinaciously, God will not pardon; thou hast been wicked, & thou wilt be so; thou hast been prophane and, thou wilt be so; This is inconsistent with a pardoned state.
[Char. 3] A third Character of a person whose sin is forgiven is this, to have unfained sorrow and remorse of heart for the commission of sin; sins forgiven are steept in bloud, and soakt in teares: sorrow before pardon is servile and legal; none can sorrow in an Evangelical manner, but he who is brought into a pardoned estate. Indeed there may be a fore’t, and a constrained sorrow which may come from the eyes of unpardoned men: there is this difference between the one and the other. Teares in an unpardoned sinner come from him like water in a Still; but Tears in a pardoned sinner come from him like water from the clouds: water will drop from the Still, but it is forc’t by keeping close the Still, and by the heat of the fire? the fire of hell may make a wicked man agast: but sorrow for sin in a pardoned man, is like water from the clouds that is not forced but doth naturally drop down.
[Char. 4] A fourth Character, He in whom sin is pardoned, is a man in whom is no guile,*Psal. 32. some do take guile in a particular sense, others extend it more largely, as a comprehensive word opposed to sincerity; he is a man in whose spirit is no guile, that is an upright man. Thus much for the use of Triall.
I now come to answer the Objections.
[Obiect. 1] The first Objection, me thinks I hear a doubting Christian say, Woe and alas, what state am I in! I have misgiving thoughts that God hath not pardoned mine iniquities, because I cannot find that I have a heart to mourn for my iniquity. And is it imaginabl• that Christ should shed blood for those sins, which I never shed a tear for? I can mourn for outward small crosses, but I cannot mourn for great inward corruptions: this makes me doubt whether ever God hath pardoned my sin.
I shal resolve this Objection in these four particulars.
[Ans. 1] First of all consider, that all men have not a like naturall tendernesse and softnesse of disposition; many are of soft dispositions, are naturally inclined to tears; this is not grace, but the ingenuousnesse and softnesse of Nature; all cannot sorrow a like▪ there may be grace in a man, if his disposition be hard and rugged, yet he cannot shed tears as those that have a tender disposition.
[Ans. 2] Secondly, You that make this Objection know this, that there may be greater sorrow for sin in the heart, when there is no tears for sin flowing from the eye; tears from the eye doth ease and lighten the minde, there may be the greatest sorrow when it can have no vent from the eye.
Thirdly, You that make this Objection know, you must distinguish of a two-fold sorrow for sin. First, there is a judicious sorrow: and secondly, a sensitive sorrow.
First, There is a judicious sorrow, and this consists in an apprehension in the judgement, that sin is the greatest evil in the world, and most to be lamented, branded, opposed, and resisted: Divines doe place more strength and height of grace in having an indignation stirred up in the understanding against sin, touching the evil of sin; this is more then to shed a few teares for sin. Now if thou hast a judicious sorrow to apprehend sin to be a great evil, though it hath not vent at the eye, yet this is godly sorrow for sin. A man that hath the Tooth-ache, he will cry out and complain more, and shed more teares happily for the exquisite pain of the Tooth-ache, then he will doe in the burning Feaver; yet ask him which he had rather have, he will tell you the Tooth-ache: the reason is, because the pestilential Feaver is more hazardous to life: so bad you rather lose your children, then lose the sense of Gods favour. Which had you rather have, afflictions in the world, or willingly commit sin against God?
The judgement of a man, if he be a regenerate man, tells him he had rather a thousand times lose the dearest relation, then the manifestation of Gods love unto his soul, he had rather endure the greatest affliction, then to venture willingly on the least sin.
[Ans. 4] Fourthly, Consider, that Gods own people have oftentimes exprest more sorrow for outward afflictions, then they have done for inward corruptions; there is great reason for it, because things of sense doe more affect us, then things of faith doe; lay a man upon the Rack, and he shall more roar and cry then any man in the world shall doe in the sense of sin, because the pain is sensitive, and it will have more sense of sorrow: it was thus with good men in Scripture. We read much of Davids sorrow, he had no rest in his bones by reason of his sin, yet mark, when David lost Absolom, O what a fit of sorrow was he in, crying out, O my son Absolom, my son, my son Absolom, would God I had dyed for thee, O Absolom, my son, my son. Wee do not read of such cryes, O my soul, my soul, O what shall I doe for thee my soul! because the sorrow was sensitive, the losse was sensitive.
Now beloved, Gods people do expresse more sensitive sorrow for outward crosses then for inward corruptions. A late Author doth quote an instance out of Jerome, a godly woman lost her children, & she wept even to death, yet she could not weep so for her sin: the reason is, because things of sense do more affect a man then things of faith; though there be more evill in one sin then in a thousand afflictions.
And thus much for the relief of a troubled sinner in answer to the first Objection.
[Object. 2] The second Objection is this, Methinks I hear another man say, how can I be perswaded that God hath pardoned, and forgiven me my sin, when I see that I cannot mortifie my sin surely an unmortified sin must needs be an unpardoned sin, surely the guilt of sin must remain where the power of sin remains: I cannot finde that my sin is fully mortified, therefore I question whether my sin be pardoned. I shall answer this in four particulars; to take off the trouble of a perplexed mind.
[Answ. 1] First, Know and consider that mortifying grace is a consequent of pardon of sin, and therefore doth not go before it: Micah •. 18. He will turn again he will have compassion upon us, he will subdue our iniquities &c. the promises followes, I will subdue thine iniquitie, saith God, be not troubled, I have pardoned thee.
[Answ. 2] Secondly, Thou that makest this Objection against thy self, it may be thou mistakest the nature of mortification, and takest mortification to be that which it is not: as first, it may be a godly Christian doth extend mortification beyond its bounds, as thus, it may be thou doest extend mortification not to a gracious suppression of sin, but to a totall extirpation of sin, and thinkest that because sin is not removed, it is not subdued. Now this is a mistake: mortification doth not extend so farre, but it extends to an abolition of the dominion of sin; not of the being of sin: before we dye we shall never be absolutely rid of the being of sin; sin will be in the heart. As the tree in Dan. 4. 14. He cryed aloud, and said thus: Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit; let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches; neverthelesse leave the stump of his roots in the earth: So sin in the heart, the branches are cut off by mortification, the luxuriant buddings, and blossomings, and breakings forth of sin, they are cut off; but the stump, the root of originall sin, from which all sin flowes and growes that remaines Dan. 7. 12. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were prolonged for a season, and time; Though thou beest a mortified man, yet mortification doth only take away the dominion of sin, and not the life of it; for it is prolonged for a season.
[Answ. 2] Again, thou dost mistake the nature of mortification, when thou dost account, that because of the irritations of sin, therefore thou hast not the mortifications of sin. Beloved, lusts may be irritated and stirred up in a mortified heart. Nay sin may most strive while it is mortifying.
[Answ. 3] Thirdly, You that plead that sin is not pardoned because it is not mortified, consider for your comfort, that a sin may be fully pardoned, when it is not fully mortified: there is this reason to be given for this, because mortification is not so compleat and perfect as remission of sin is; remission of sin is a perfect act, and all men, though their graces be inequall, yet their forgivenesse and pardon is equall, and alike; because God doth not pardon one sin and not another: but in the work of mortification, it is partly done, partly not done; it is a work begun: therefore a sin may be fully pardoned, when it is not fully subdued, because sanctification and mortification cannot hold equipage and proportion with remission of sin.
[Answ. 4] Fourthly, You that plead that you are not pardoned, & the guilt of sin flies in your faces because it is not subdued.
I answer, That it is an evident token that Christ hath dispossest the soul of the power of sin, or taken away the power of sin, seeing the Devill doth labour to possesse you so often with the guilt of sin in a way of temptation. Observe if a man did lye under the power of sin, the Devill would not suggest to that man the guilt of sin; because then it would awaken a mans conscience, and make a poor sinner look after Jesus Christ, and after heaven, and pardon. Pharah doth not trouble Israel till he be gone forth of Egypt. Therefore a sinner under the power and dominion of sin, shall not be troubled under the Devill about the guilt of sin. The Devill had rather play at small game then not to game: if he cannot damn a man by keeping him under the power of sin, he will terrifie him by troubling him with the guilt of sin.
[Answ. 5] Lastly, Consider this, that the co•fessing & contesting with corruptions, is in the account of God lookt upon as the mortification, Deut. 22. 23. If a Damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto a husband, & a man finde her in the City & lye with her, Vers. 24. Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of the City: and yee shal stone them with stones that they dye: the Damsell because she cryed not being in the City; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbours wife: so shalt thou put a way evill from among you. Vers. 25. But if a man finde a betrothed damosel in the field, & a man force her, & lye with her: then the man only that lay with her shall dye. All the prevalency of sin over thee which is unwilling, God will charge that on the Devill, and account thee guiltlesse, when it hath not thy consent; when thou labourest to suppresse vicious corruptions of the heart, God doth hold thee guiltlesse, though the Devill may labour to commit a spiritual rape upon thee. It is a text that I have often made use of in the 11. chapter of Leviticus, Divines make great use of it for the comforting of troubled consciences, in the 33. vers.*And every earthen vessell, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean: and yee shall break it. Vers. 36. Neverthelesse, a fountain or pit wherein there is plenty of water, shal be clean: but that which toucheth their carkasse shall be unclean. The significancy of this Law was this, that if filth do fall upon a pit of water, into a standing pool, because it hath no motion, it cannot purge it self from the filth cast into it, that is unclean: but if an unclean thing be cast into a fountain of water, that cannot be unclean, for it hath a principle in it to purge and free it self from these unclean, things that are cast into it; to shew, if sin be in your heart as an unclean thing in a fountain of water, that by reason of your continuall motion unto God, your running unto God, you have a principle in you to empty your selves. and to purge your selves and clear your selves from those things which the Devill doth defile you with, now your are not unclean, & this should greatly comfort you.
[Object. 3] A third Objection is this, Surely I have misgiving thoughts that God hath not forgiven me my sin, because after I have committed sin, I do not discern that my conscience checks me for my sin, therefore I may fear, if there be no remorse after the commission of sin, I may fear that there is no remission. This is the strongest Objection to make a man ••ar his pardon; As I would say nothing to make a deluded wretch to presume, so I would keep back nothing that might any way establish a troubled minde: thou sayest thou dost fall into sin, yet thou 〈1 page duplicate〉 〈1 page duplicate〉 〈1 page duplicate〉 〈1 page duplicate〉 hast no check & remorse of conscience for sin, therefore thou fearest if sin hath no remorse on thy part, it hath no remission on Gods part.
For answer, First in the generall, know your case is dangerous, but yet it is not desperate.
[Answ. 1] First it is possible the conscience of a good man may be so disordered through the impetuousnesse of passion and lust, that he may think he doth well when he doth ill, therefore his conscience never smites him. As it was with Paul, Act. 26. 9. I verily thought with my self, that I ought to do many things contrary to the Name of Jesus of Nazareth. Paul sinned & he had his doubts before conversion, even as after conversion; yet this sin troubled him not, he thought he was bound to do many things, &c. so may thy conscience be so far disordered, as to think that thou doest well when thou doest ill, Jonah 4. 9. And God said to Jonah, doest thou well to be angry for the gourd, & he said I do well to be angry even unto the death. Could Jonahs conscience smite him for his anger when he said he did wel? Lord how far wil a godly man go, to the very suburbs of hell if God shall let him alone! I doe well, saith Jonah, to be angry, even unto death.
[Answ. 2] Secondly, Thou that makest this Objection, take this for thy comfort, consider that many pardoned sinners through heedlesnes and in-observancy have not their judgements inlightned to discern sin; and if the judgement hath not an eye to see sin, the conscience wil never have an hand to smite for sin: it is a Proverb, What the eye sees not, the heart rues not: nothing that is unknown, can be the object of desire, neither can any thing that is unknown be the object of sorrow; unknown miseries we weep not for, but miseries we know, those we mourn for: if a mans judgement be not inlightned to see sin, he can never mourn for it; he may live and dye in a sin that his judgement is not convinced of to be a sin: thus the godly in the Old Testament lived in the sin of Polygamie, marrying of many wives, they knew not it was a sin, but they took liberty to take as many wives as they would.
A godly man that holds an error, conscience may never smite him for it, because his judgment is mistaken his judgment thinks he holds the truth, and therefore conscience cannot smite him for holding an error
[Answ. 3] Thirdly, take this by way of answer, that the conscience of a pardoned sinner, may be so farre benummed, that a man may continue under the guilt of known sins, and conscience never check him for it for a long time; this is a further gradation, that when he knoweth he sins, against God, yet I say conscience may be so far benummed that, for a season not be tortured and smitten in conscience for his sin: David could not be so ignorant of Gods Law that lying with another mans wife was a sin, yet David did continue nine moneths at least without remorse for it; when Nathan came and reproved him, then said he, I have sinned, I have sinned. O beloved, if God doth but let a sinners conscience alone, though he be a good man, yet he may continue for a long time under a known sin, and conscience not work remorse or trouble in him. And the like instance we have in the sons of Jacob, who were not sensible of their sin in selling Joseph, untill 20. yeares after they fell into trouble for it in Egypt.
[Answ. 4] Fourthly, take this for comfort, that there is nogodly mans conscience in the world, that is alwayes alike in office; but sometimes it may be in office, sometimes out of office; sometimes a roaring, gawling, awakening conscience; and sometimes a stupified, a benummed, and a •eared conscience: no mans conscience is alwaies alike in office, it is sensible at one time, and •eared up another time. Pregnant instances: David, at one time his heart smote him for but the appearance of an evill, viz. Cutting off Sauls lap, yet at another time his conscience did not smite him for murdering Vriah. Again, at another time Davids conscience smote him but for vainglory, in numbring the people: it was onely vainglory that he would please himself in a mustered Army; yet at another time Davids conscience did not smite him for adultery. O beloved, how wil a mans conscience lye asleep, & not trouble him, for an evill if God lets him alone.
[Answ. 5] Fifthly, a step further, It is possible that the conscience of a pardoned sinner may be in so deep a sleep, and so much out of office for a while, that he may rather put his wits a work to hide his sin, then his conscience on work to check him for sin; to give you an instance for this, plain in the case of David, David committed adultery with Bathsheba, but he did not put his conscience on work to check him for his sin, but he did put his wits on work to hide the sin. Four projects David had to hide the sin:
[ 1] First, He sent for Vriah Bathsheba’s husband, that so Vriah might come and lye with his wife, that so he might hide Davids uncleannesse, 2. Sam. 11.
[ 2] Secondly, He made Vriah drunk, and so thought that surely when he was drunk, that drunkennesse would provoke him with a desire to go to his own house.
[ 3] Thirdly, He did plot Vriah’s death, that so there might be no clamour on his part for the defilement of his wife.
Lastly, David would have fathered his plot on providence, for David himself had plotted the death of Vriah; mark Davids project: a good man did put his wits on work and made shifts to hide his sin; yet all this while did not put conscience on work to check him for his sin. O how near the suburbs of hell may a godly man go, and yet go to heaven!
[ 6] Sixthly, This is the furthest step of all, take this for thy comfort, it is possible that the conscience of a pardoned sinner may not smite him for those very sins that a Heathen man by the light of a naturall conscience may be ashamed of, and this is clear in the case of Abraham, Gen. 20. 9. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us, and what have Loffended thee, that thou hast brought on me, & on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me, that ought not to be done. For this falshood Ahrahams conscience never smote him, yet a Heathen by the light of a naturall conscience rebuked Abraham for it. Abimelech, a Heathen, did tell Abraham, Thou hast done deeds that ought not to be done.
And thus I have gone very farre in answering this Objection. I have done it for to stay the troubles of a perplexed conscience; not to make any man presumptuous: these six steps neer going down to the Chambers of death, yet it is possible that a pardoned sinner may have his conscience thus deluded and out of office,
Me thinks I hear many a presumptuous heart alledge, if this be true, that you say a pardoned sinner may go thus near hell, and yet come to heaven: if good men may sin a sin, and yet conscience never trouble them, then I hope that I may have my sin pardoned as well as the best.
Now lest this Objection might lurk in the heart of any man that hears mee, I will turn the 〈◊〉 And that no man might be presumptuous and entertain false perswasions touching pardon; I shall shew you, that though a godly man may have his conscience out of office to smite him for sin; yet in that case there is great difference between a pardoned sinner and an unpardoned, there are these five particular differences.
First, Though a pardoned man may have sometimes conscience asleep, yet that pardoned man dares not be so bold and adventurous to sin against conscience as wicked men do: you have this fully laid down in Scripture, though but darkly. Lev. 13. 10. And the Priest shall see him, and behold, if the rising be white in the skin, and it have turned the hair white, and there be quick ••w flesh in the rising, &c. Here were two symptomes of the Plague of Leprosie, the growing of white hair in the so•e, then raw flesh in the rising: the Hebrew Rabbins do understand two things by this Law,
First, The turning of the hair white in the sore, they note to be continuance in sin, living from youth to old age in sin, till the hair be white and gray.
Secondly, There was to be quick and raw flesh in the rising, they understand it to be adventurousnesse in a sinner to commit sin against a raw, and a gawled, and a rebuked conscience. Another man might have scabs all over his flesh, yet he was not to be unclean. Vers. 13. Then the Priest shall consider: and behold, it the leprosie have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague, it is all turned white, he is clean. Yet if a man had rawnesse in the sore, he was to be unclean: to note, that a man may have many sins, yet not be unclean in Gods sight; but if he sin against the very dictates of conscience, and be bold and adventurous against the gawlings of a perplexed conscience, he shall be unclean.
[ 2] Secondly, Take this for a difference, though the conscience of a pardoned man may not for a time smite him for sin committed, yet he doth not take that course to stifle the chec•s, and to still the voice of conscience as reprobates doe: wicked men take sensuall delights to still the checks and voice of conscience, so Saul did, 1 Sam. 16. 14. But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evill spirit from the Lord troubled him, Vers. 17. And Saul said unto his servants, Provide now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. When an evill spirit troubled him, that was his conscience, Saul called for musick to still the voice of conscience.
[ 3] Thirdly, Good men care not for •ocond company, Mar. 16. 18. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawfull for thee to have thy •rothers wife. Vers. 21. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high Captains, & chiefest States of Galilee, &c. Good men dare not avoid a reproving, a searching ministry: as Felix did, Act. 24. 25. And as he reasoned of righteousnesse, temperance, and judgement to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Goe thy way for this time, when I have covenient season I will call for thee.
He could not endure to lye under a conscience gawling Ministry, godly men do not thus; if a man be pardoned, though he hath sin, yet he is glad when the Ministry doth rowse and awaken his conscience.
Fhurthly, A pardoned sinner dares not content himself under a dawbing and flattering Ministry, that will sew pillars under his elbowes, and say peace when there is none, Jer. 23. 13. And I have seen folly in the Prophets of Samaria, they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to erre, Vers. 14. I have seen also in the Prophets of Jerusalem, and horrible thing; they commit adultery, and walk in lies; they strengthen also the hands of evil doers, that none doth return from his wickednesse: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants of them as Gomorrah, Chap. 8. 11. For they have healed the hurt of the Daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace.
Fifthly, They dare not run into the croud of imployments, that so they might forget the gawlings, of conscience, as Cain did, Gen. 4. Cain to put off the troubles of his conscience, would fall to buying, building, and drowning himself in the world, that so he might hear no more. A pardoned sinner doth not thus, but if conscience suggests guilt, he prayes to God that conscience might speak throughly and to the heart.
Sixthly, A godly man doth not wallow and continue in a custome of sin, that so custome in his sin, might take away conscience of his sin. Ephes. 4. 19. Who being past feeling,*have given themselves over to laciviousnesse, to work all uncleannesse with greedinesse. Wicked men give themselves over to a custome in sin, that so they might not have conscience to smite them for sin. They are like a Smiths dog, a strange dog that comes to a Smiths forge cannot abide to have the sparkles of fire flie about him;* but that dog that hath alwayes been accustomed to the shop, can sleep still on, and it never troubles him: wicked men are like Smiths dogs used to the shop, though flashes of hell fire are cast about them, yet they sleep still and are not awakened; but godly men do not make use of custome in sin to lull them asleep in their sweet lusts.
A 7. difference, That though the conscience of apardoned sinner doth not smite him for sin, yet is it sooner and easier awakened and raised out of a dead sleep, then the conscience of a wicked man; a look from Jesus eye, and the Cock crowing made Peter weep, hee went out and wept bitterly; a rebuke to David from the Prophet, made him cry out, Lord I have sinned. A reprobate conscience is not so easily put into office, it doth not reprove him, there must be much adoe and great labour taken before his dead conscience will hear the rebukes of the Word, there is more adoe with a wicked man to have his conscience in office then with a godly man.
Eightly, There is this difference, though the conscience of a good man be asleep for a time, and doth not smite him for sin, yet some time before he dyes, his conscience shall smite him for sin; there is no godly man in the world but under known sins, if his conscience hath not smitten him, his conscience shall smite him before he dyes; but wicked men live & dye in sin & never have the controll or rebuke of conscience: Ahaz was troubled by affliction from God, yet conscience never troubled him, for he did yet more wickedly against God.
Ninthly, Though the conscience of a pardoned sinner may be asleep for a time, and may not reprove him for sin committed; yet a good mans conscience when it doth reprove him, it doth check him more out of a sense of sin and the dishonour done to God, then out of fear of hell or any outward judgements; but wicked men are asleep in their consciences, and if conscience doth ever awake, it is not because sin is sin, and because God is dishonoured; but because there is hell for sin, & because there are outward grievous judgements▪ when God breaks men by his judgements, then they will put conscience on work, but never doe it out of sense of sin; Take this comparison of Ducks in a pond of water, cast but a little peble stone into the water, and it will make them dive, but let it rattle and thunde••n the heavens, the Ducks fear not; a Divine makes this a fit embleme of a wicked mans conscience, cast but a little pebble stone, some present affliction neer a wicked man, and that will make him dive, that will trouble conscience and perplex the man; but let God thunder from heaven, let the Lord declare all the threatnings of his spirituall judgements against sin, how evill sin is, how God is dishonoured by sin, and how the soule is indangered, all these thundrings from heaven cannot make him startle.
And thus I have run hastily over the answering of this third Objection, I have done it meerly for the relief of a perplexed Conscience; thus I have done with this doctrine, I confest, & thou forgavest. Thou forgavest, to forgive; saith Musculus, is a word of favour, or grace, not merit. Thou forgavest; It notes, pardon of sin is not vouchsafed to men by way of debt, but of gift; I confessed, and thou forgavest; thou forgavest what? Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin, the sin of my sin. Interpreters have various apprehensions touching the meaning of these words, what it is for God to forgive the iniquity of my sin. I will bring it to a two fold channell: Some there are that by iniquity, understand the punishment of sin; I acknowledged my sin, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin; That is, thou forgavest the punishment of my sin; the reason of that interpretation is, because in the Hebrew language the same word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 that signifies iniquity, signifies punishment, and therefore they understand the iniquity of sin, the punishment of sin; but Interpreters generally go against this interpretation, for usually the word is taken for sin it self; Again the whole scope of the Psalm is not in seeking the outward punishment to be forgiven; but the forgivenesse of sin is referred to eternall guilt.
Thirdly, Here is in the Text a 〈◊〉, which is a note of admiration annexed to his expression; Thou hast forgiven, &c. surely that would be no wonder to God to passe by an externall punishment, for that he might do to men whose sins were never pardoned: What is it for God to forgive the iniquity of sin? I answer, the iniquity of sin is meant, that God out of his free grace doth not onely simply forgive a sin committed, but he forgives the iniquity of that sin, all the malignity of that sin, all the hainous aggravated circumstances that may any wayes make it great. A Learned Author having a whole Tract upon this Psalme, hath these words, the Psalmist useth this kind of speech, To forgive the iniquity of sinne, that he might touch us, that it was no light fault that was pardoned, it was sin, and it was the iniquity of sinne, sin upon sin, and sin greatned by many hainous circumstances. Yet, Behold! the great mercy of God, Thou forgavest the Iniquity of my sin; thus much for the explaining of the words.
[Doct.] The Observation is this; That such are the riches of Gods pardoning grace, that he forgives his people not onely sin in the general, but their great sins, such as are cloathed with many aggravated and hainous crying circumstances. Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
In the handling of this point I shall proceed in this method.
First, To prove the point to you by an Induction of particular instances; then the application of it by several uses. It is a pointfull of comfort, and indeed I know not such a Text in all the Bible that speaks of Gods grace in pardoning aggravated sinnes, more clearly then this Text doth.
First of all, I shall give you an induction of instances, that God doth not onely forgive his people a bare sin committed, but God doth out of the riches of his Grace forgive his people those sins that you may call the iniquity of sin, sins cloathed with many hainous aggravated circumstances, to prove this take the instance of David, that speaks the words; an instance of Peter, another of Paul, many men that have sinned against light & love, sinned against checks of conscience, and against mercies, are these sins forgiven? Yes, that is my work to prove, that Gods grace doth forgive sins that are cloathed with many hainous and aggravated circumstances, to make them great.
First, I begin with David, because it is the instance in hand; will you consider Davids sin, the sin of Adultery, and ransack the bowels of it? you shall finde Davids sin cloathed with great, hainous, and aggravated circumstances to make it great and grievous; and yet for all this that sin forgiven him.
First Circumstance to aggravate Davids sin, if you consider the quality of it, the kind of it. What sin was it? it was the sin of Adultery; now of all sins the sin of Adultery is an aggravated sin; there are five circumstances.
- He that commits adultery, he sins against his own body.
- He sins against the body of the woman he is unclean with.
- It is a wrong to his own Wife.
- It is a wrong to the Adulteresses Husband.
- It is a wrong to the child that is illegitimately begotten in adultery, that an ignominy should be on him when he is borne: and therefore that David should fall to that sin, it was one great sin to aggravate Davids sin.
[ 2] Secondly, If you consider the dignity and quality of Davids person that did commit this sin,* He was King; Now the greater the person is that sins, the sinne is the greater, 2 Sam. 12. 8, 9.
[ 3] A Third Circumstance to aggravate his sin, it was that he did commit the sin after God had given him manifold mercies, so Nathan telleth him, 2 Sam. 12. 8.
[ 4] Fourthly, Consider this, that David had a Wife of his own, nay many wives of his own, that did greaten Davids sin, and so Nathan told him; for (saith Nathan) There was a poor man who had but▪ one Lamb, and a rich man that had many Lambs, which killed the poor mans Lamb; his meaning was, that David should commit adultery with the wife of that man that had but one wife, when he had many of his own.
[ 5] Fifth Circumstance, if you consider the time when David committed this sin, it was when Davids Armies were lying in the fields, this was done then, which was enough to provoke God to make them turn their backs upon their enemies.
[ 6] Sixth Circumstance, It was a great injury to a faithful Commander in his Army as to Vriah.
[ 7] Seventhly, Which is the chiefest Circumstance of all, that David should commit many sinnes to hide that one sin, that was an aggraving Circumstance, David did commit six-sins to hide that one sin of Adultery.
- He sent for Vriah Bathsheba’s husband to leave the Army, when they were storming a place, this might have endangered the whole Army.
- The Text saith that David made Vriah drunk, thinking thereby to make him go in to his Wife.
- He used a meanes for Vriah to father his bastard that he had gotten in uncleanness.
- When that Plot would not take, David did conspire, and consult how to kill Vriah.
- David sent a letter by Vriah, wherein Vriah was a messenger of his own death, unknown to him.
- When Vriah was dead, the Text saith, that David said, The sword makes no difference, for the sword destroyeth one man as well as another; he laid Vriahs death on Gods providence onely, when it was he himself did plot how he should be slain: O where was Davids conscience all this while, where was Davids conscience, that should thus fall to commit those sins to hide one sin▪ you account that a hainous aggravation of sin, when servants have done an ill turn, if they shall doe many ill turns to hide one: this iniquity was found in David, to hide one sin, he fell to commit many.
[ 8] Eighth Aggravation, which greatens Davids sin, was this, that David should marry Vriahs wife, first killed the husband, then married the wife.
[ 9] Ninthly and lastly, To make his sin out of measure sinfull, David continued under this sin with all these aggravations for nine moneths together without repentance or remorse of conscience. I do not name this to boulster any man in sin; I onely mention this for a distressed conscience, that though thy sin be an aggravated and a great sin, cloathed with many hideous and hainous circumstances; yet God did forgive such a sin as that, and therefore well may David say, The Lord forgave the iniquity of my sin, not onely sin, but the iniquity of sin.
[Inst.] A second Instance is of Peter, you all know the story, but it may be you have not lookt narrowly into the circumstances that made Peters sinne to be great: In Peters sinne.
[ 1] First, Consider, that Peter should deny Christ, when he did make more confident professions that he would cleave to Christ, then all the other eleven Disciples: when Christ told them, You shall be offended because of me this night, saith Peter, Though all men should forsake thee, yet will not I, yet none forsaked Christ but Judas and he, in so shameful a manner as they; this was a great aggravation.
[ 2] Secondly, It is observable that Peter did deny himself to be Peter, Joh. 18. 25. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself, they said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his Disciples? He denied, and said, I am not.
[ 3] Thirdly, He said he did not know Jesus Christ; what a horrible fault was that, that he said he did not know Jesus Christ? Luke 22. 57. And he denied him, saying, Woman I know him not.
[ 4] Fourthly, He did not only deny Christ to a single Maid, but the Text saith, he denyed Christ to the Maid, and before all the people, there was an open denyal of Christ. Matth. 26. 69. Now Peter sate without in the Palace, and a Damosel came unto him, saying, thou also w•st with Jesus of Galilee, vers. 70. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
[ 6] Sixthly, He did not onely deny, but Matthew saith he denyed with an Oath, Matth. 26. 72. And again he denied with an oath, I doe not know the man; to swear to a lye is abominable.
[ 7] Seventhly, It is observable, It is said that a third time there came a man to Peter about an hour after, and saith, Of a truth thou art Peter, and to the man saith he, I do not know him.
[ 8] Eighthly, This is not all, that Peter did not onely speak a falshood, not onely swear a lye, but Peter did curse himselfe if so be he knew Jesus Christ, the Text saith he began to curse as well as to swear, Mark 14. 71. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak; he wisht some direful judgement to befall him if he knew Jesus Christ: Some Interpreters think that he did not onely curse himselfe, but he curst Jesus Christ, to make the people think that he did not care for Jesus Christ, therefore did use some execration to curse Jesus Christ. And O that pardoning grace should reach such a hainous sinner as this was!
A third Instance was in Paul; you shall see many circumstances to aggravate and greaten Pauls sin, Acts 9. 10, 11. I verily thought with my self, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the 〈◊〉 did I shut up in Prison, having received authority from the chief Priests, and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every Sy••gog•e, and compelled them to blaspheme, and being exceedingly and against them, I persecuted them even unto strange Cities. There are no lesse then ten aggravating circumstances to greaten Pauls sin.
[ 1] First, It was one circumstance to greaten his sin, if you consider the quality of the persons that he did injure, they were not ordinary men, but they were the Saints of Christ, he put the Saints of Christ into prison
[ 3] Thirdly, If you consider the kind of wrong he did them, he put them into prison.
[ 4] Fourthly, If you consider his severity towards them, he did shut them into prison.
[ 5] Fifthly, If you consider the place where this was, at Jerusalem, it was where Paul should have learnt to know better things, for there the Apostles were, and taught the Doctrine of Christ and of Christianity.
[ 6] Sixthly, If you consider the extent of Pauls malice, saith he, When they were put to death, I gave my voice against them, Pauls vote was against the Christians to put them to death.
[ 7] Seventhly, Pauls rage did goe against their soules as well as their bodies, for saith he, I did compell them to blaspheme Christ, he laboured to damn their souls, as well as destroy their bodies.
[ 8] Eighthly, saith he, I was exceeding mad against them, he was even mad with rage, and exceeding mad with rage.
[ 9] Ninthly, He drove them from house to house, I drove them into strange Cities.
[ 10] And then Tenthly, which was worst of all, he did through their sides strike at the honour of Jesus Christ; for why did Paul doe this to the Saints? saith he, I thought with myself to doe many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, there was the person he aymed at; yet Paul, a man forgiven for all this; for he saith, when he aggravates his sin, in 1 Tim. 1. 11, 12, 13. According to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithfull putting me into the Ministery, who was before a blasphemer, and a persecuter, and injurious. But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly its unbelief. Thus I have done with the Doctrinal part of my Text, laying down to you an induction of instances; I am the larger in this, because I know perplexed consciences in trouble of mind are apt but to greaten their own sins, but can you aggravate it worse then David, Paul, or Peter could do? yet behold those sinnes, and those aggravated sinnes were forgiven by Jesus Christ.
I have four words to say in this Sermon by way of Application; there may be in such an Assembly as this is, whom God might suffer either before conversion or after conversion, to be unclean with David, to deny Christ with Peter, it may be to swear to a lye, to swear to a falshood, nay, (it may be to engage to a lye, to a falshood, O take heed of false Oathes,) it may be to persecute the Saints of Christ with Paul.
[ 1] First, O know it for thy comfort O thou disconsolate heart, let thy sin be never so great, yet the mercies of God are greater. A learned Interpreter gives to my hand which is his instance, Lord my fault is great, but thy mercies are greater, Beloved, I may say to you, though thy sin be great, yet the mercy of God is greater then thy sin, and thou canst not have so many circumstances to greaten thy sin, as can be produced in God to greaten his own mercy: you shall read what he saith himselfe in Isa. 44. 22. I have blotted ou• as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud, thy sins, return unto me, for I have redeemed thee. Suppose thy sin be not onely a little cloud; but suppose it be a great cloud, a thick cloud, saith God, I doe not only blot sins out like a little cloud; but I will blot ou• transgressions that are like a thick cloud: great sins as well as small doth the mercies of God cover. The Sea can as well cover great rocks as little peble stones, high mountaines as well as mole-hills: Gods mercy is an Ocean that can cover great enormities as well as lesser infirmities. The glorious body of the Sun in the Heavens, can scatter the greatest mist as well as the thinnest vapours great sins as well as small are pardoned by infinite mercy. It is worthy your notice what Moses speaks of the Mercy-seat, It covered the whole Ark wherein the Law was kept. To note (saith a Divine) though thou art a man or a woman guilty of all the Lawes breach; not onely of one command, but of all the commands, yet the Mercy-Seat covered all the commands; to teach you this, that the mercy of God can pardon the greatest violation of the Law, therefore that wherein the Law was kept was all covered by the Mercy-Seat.
[ 2] 2. Take this for thy comfort, O thou perplexed Conscience; it may be when thou art in a corner, none but God and thine own soule together, thou dost aggravate thy sin, and thinkest no mans sin so grievous as thine; then take this for thy comfort, let thy sin be never so great, yet the satisfaction and sufferings of Christ are far greater, The blood of Christ (saith the Apostle) cleanseth us from all sin; the Red Sea did with as much ease drown Pharaoh and all his hoast, as it could doe a single man; the red Sea of Christs blood can drown a whole hoast and a huge multitude of sins, as well as a small lust: Though thou hast need to shed more teares for sin in a way of contri•ion; yet Christ need not shed more blood for sin in a way of redemption, for he hath saved them to the utmost that come unto God by him: the Apostle triumphing in the 5. of the Romans,* he meanes there, that there is not so much evil in sin to damn us, as there is good in the gift, in Christ, for to save, because thy sin is he guilt of a creature, and Christs satisfaction is the satisfaction of a God; thy sin, the sin of a finite creature, and his sufferings, the sufferings of an infinite Mediator.
[ 3] Third Consolation is this, to you that are perplexed in conscience, that you have committed hainous and aggravated sinfulnesse, yet that Jesus Christ doth wipe away the infamy and the ignominy of thy most horrid and scandalous sins, committed before conversion. Suppose thou hast been a notorious infamous creature; yet Christ takes off the ignominy and the infamy of thy sin, when he justifies thy person and doth sanctifie thy nature. It is observable of Mary Magdalen, as is conceived she was a notorious whore, every one that saw her knew she was a common harlot; there was a woman that was a sinner, the meaning was, she was an infamous notorious harlot; What is done when Christ converted this woman? Luk. 7. 47. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many are forg•ven, for she loved much. Christ did delight to wipe away the ignominy of her harlotry in her after-life. It is worthy observation, that four women are reckoned in the Genealogy of Christ; what women were they? they were women that were infamous, the best of them did fill into much scandal, and gave much offence: there you find mention of Thamar, Rachab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, no more in the Genealogy but these; what were all these women? Begin with Thamar, she committed uncleannesse with her Father in Law, an infamous woman, as you have the story in Gen. 38. 18. And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? and she said, thy Signet, and the Bracelets and thy Staffe that is in thine hand; and be gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. Then you read of Rachab, a common harlot, in Heb. 11. 31. By faith the Harlot Rachab perished not with them that beleeved not when she had received the spies with peace, Matth. 1. 5. And Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab, &c. A third woman mentioned in the Genealogy is Ruth, what was she? she was not so infamous as the rest were, yet she ran into a grievous scandal, Ruth came of Moab, whom Lot begat of his own daughter, you have the story in the Book of Genesis 19. 36. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their Father. vers. 37. And the first borne bare a Son, and called his name Moab: What was she? for her person she was a good woman; but as all Divines observe of her, she did an action that had appearance of evill, what did she? read the story in the third of Ruth, beginning at verse 5. &c. the story saith, that she came alone at midnight to Boaz, there was an action full of infamy, which was a shamefull thing that a woman should come to a man lying alone. Secondly, she came and lay by him in the night season, but it is true, the Scripture c•ears her for any thing following, vers. 14. And she lay at his feet untill morning, and she rose up before one could know another: there was no vanity, no folly and no evill, yet it was a grievous scandall for a woman to be with a man, and Boaz did fear the scandall of it too; yet this woman is reckoned in the Genealogy of Christ. The fourth woman is Bathsheba, she was unclean with David. What is the Mystery of this? truely all Interpreters give this; There are but four women named in the genealogy, al of them blame-worthy, some in a higher and some in a lower degree; and it is recorded that Christ came from these four, to take off the ignominy and infamy of your sins that you have fallen into before conversion: suppose God should suffer thee to fall into execrable villanies, reall and sound conversion to God takes off the reproach and ignominy; therefore Christ to take off the ignominy and reproach from these women would honour them so far, as to reckon them in his own Genealogy.
The point was this, That such are the riches of Gods pardoning grace, that hee forgives his people the great sins that are cloathed with many hainous and aggravated circumstances. Now lest any might abuse this Doctrine, and suck poyson from these flowers that are m•st sweetly scattered up and down the Scripture, I shall labour so to handle the matter, as to keep off presumptuous men that they be not emboldned in a wicked course of sin. Therefore my use shall be to two sorts of men,
[Use. 1] First of all, it shall bee directed to morall and civill honest men: if God doth forgive men great sinnes▪ cloathed with many haino•s and aggravated circumstances,* as Davids sinne was, as Peters sinne was, and Paul sinnes were, then I have great hopes of pardon; mine are but sinnes of an ordinarie incursion, therefore I have hopes my sinnes are pardoned, because they have not been crying great sins.
First of the neglect of Moses to circumcise his son; one would think that for forbearing the circumcising of a childe when a man was in a journey and had urgent businesse lying upon him, his businesse should have been a plea to excuse him: yet for the bare omission of that on the eight day, the Lord met him, and would have killed him, Exod 4. 24. And it came to passe by the way in the Ione, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. Another time th• Psalmist tels us of Moses sin in the wilderness, Moses spake unadvisedly with his lips, onely a rash word: and what was the issue of that sin? the Lord would never suffer Moses to enter into the land of Canaan.
Another instance of Uxzah, one would thinke it but •mail thing for Vzzah to put his hand to uphold the falling Arke, it was out of a good intention, that the Arke should not fall; yet, you know how the hand of God smote Uzzah for it.
So likewise of David, you would thinke it but a small matter for a King to number his people; yet you know how many thousands in Israel God did take away by the Plague for that very sin: so that beloved, suppose thou hast not fallen into hideous and hainous wickednesses, yet thou seest little sins displease God as well as great; because sin, though little, yet is against a great God, and little sins displease as well as great.
[ 2] Secondly,* That though grosse sins may carry a greater infamy, yet little secret sins may carry a greater guilt in them to God. Beloved, the sin of Angels, it was but a small sin, a spirituall sin, onely one sin, and a sin in thought too, not of act; yet you know that for that sin God did tumble the Angels out of heaven. Indeed gross sins carry a greater infamy, but little small sins may carry as great a guilt.
First, Adams sin, you would account it a small matter to eat an apple or some other fruit; but yet that small fact of eating the forbidden fruit, was so cloathed with many circumstances, which made it a great and grievous sin: for,
First, if you consider the state of Adam, he was not as we are; but Adam was a perfect and an innocent creature: and it is a greater evill for a perfect creature to sin, then for us that are imperfect.
Secondly, Consider the place where Adam was, it was in Paradise, and yet there to sin.
Thirdly, Consider the publicknesse of his person, hee did not sin for himself; but in his sin we all sinned: for a private man to sin is an evill, but for a publicke person representing other men, his sin is other mens sin.
Fourthly, How many aggravations were in the bowels of Adams sin: there are six:
First, There was unbliefe in his sin, God did not tell them with an if, or an and, but told them peremptorily they should dye.
Secondly, There was this aggravation, that Adam did believe the Devil, before God.
Thirdly, there was pride in this sin; for saith the Devill, Ye shall be as Gods, and that pleased them; it was not enough to be man and woman, but they must be gods.
Fourthly, There was curiosity in that sin. You shall be as gods knowing good and evil; now out of meer curiosity to know more then they did know, though they knew enough to make them happy and blessed, did they plunge themselves into this sin.
Fifthly, They were not contented with their condition.
[ 6] Sixthly and lastly, There was murder in this sin, for Adam kill’d himselfe and all his posterity; For by one man sin entred into the World and death by sin,*so that in him all have sinned, and so all dyed: therfore Adams sin was so cloathed with hainous aggravations, that made it very great.
Look on Davids sin in numbring the people, it was a very small sin, and indeed interpreters justifie the fact, in it selfe it was no sin for a King to number his Army; yet there were some circumstances with which this fact was cloathed, that made Davids fact very sinfull: there were six hainous aggravations in that fact of Davids numbring the people.
First of all, there was pride and vain glory; this Tostatus saith, that pride and vain glory was Davids sin.
Secondly, There was carnal dependance in his sin, he would number his people, that seeing how strong he was he might depend on the multitude, this saith Zanchius was Davids sin too.
Thirdly, There was covetousnesse in the sin too. Zanchius saith this was Davids sin. It is observable, that when in Israel the souldiers were mustered, and the subjects numbred, there was a tax by pole, that every one should pay, this was Davids sin that he would needlesly number the people for covetousnesse sake.
Fourthly, There was curiosity, for David did a needlesse act; for what need David know every particular man in his kingdome. Ioab said to David, 1 Chron. 21. 4. Why doth my Lord require this thing? why wilt thou muster up thy forces in a time of peace? we are all true and loyall to thee: yet vain curiosity made David do it.
Fifthly, there was the sin of sacriledge, this Zanchius notes: for when the people were numbred, there was to be given for the use of the Sanctuary, halfe a shekel, as you have the story, Exod. 30. 12. When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel, after their number, then shall they give every man a ransome for his soule unto the Lord, when thou numbrest them, that there be no plague amongst them, when thou numbrest them, Vers. 13. This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbred, halfe a shekel after the shekel of the Sanctuary: compare this with Exod. 38. 25. And the silver of the that were numbred of the Congregation, was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels after the shekel of the Sanctuary, &c. David, some suppose, did defraud the Sanctuary of that mony.
Sixthly, In this sin, there was an express breach of Gods Law: this Deodat saith: for his Law was, the people should not be numbred that were under 20 years, but only those above 20 years, now David did number those that were under 20 year. Exo. 30, 14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbred, from 20 years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord▪ Numb. 1. 3. From 20 years old and upward, all that are able to goe forth to war in Israel: Now David numbring those that were under those years, did transgresse the command of God. That is a third consideration to you that say you never run into scandalous sins: yet consider, that little sins may bee so aggravated by circumstances, as that they become grievous: suppose thy sin be secret lust, and passion, and secret pride: thy sins may have such circumstances, as to make them great: suppose thy sins be against checks of conscence they are great sins, because they are against Gods officer in man; Conscience is Gods officer in thee, and Gods Register, and Vicegerent in man; and for thee to controll thine own conscience against the accusations and against the convictions and checks of thy conscience, though the sin be but a smal trifie, yet it is very great; He that doubteth is damned, if he eats. The Apostle saith, it is no sin to eat meat, but if thou thinkest it is a sin to eat meat, and dost it, thou sinnest against conscience. If thy conscience telleth thee that it is unlawfull to do this or that, and yet thou wilt venture on it, the Apostle saith, He that doubteth is damned, if he eats. If thou doest any any thing against the rebukes of conscience, it is a great crime; because conscience is Gods Officer in thee: to eat meat, is but a trifle; the Question was, whether they might eat meat offered to an idoll, the Apostle saith they might do it, I, but suppose conscience in a man might say, I am perswaded that if I should eat this meat that was offered to an Idoll, I should approve of Idolatary, then saith the Apostle, thou art damned if thou eat: to shew that if in so small a thing as eating flesh, then in other matters also; if thy conscience telleth thee, that thou sinnest if doest it and yet doest it, thy little sin is become a great sin.
Secondly, the smallest sin may be aggravated, if there be a complacency in thy heart to a small sin. A small sin that is indulged, is a more aggravating sin then a greater sin thou doest fall into with resistance. It is very observable in Lev. 13. 12. And if a leprosie break out abroad in the skin and the leprosie cover all the skin of him that hath the plague, from his head even unto his foot, wheresoever the Priest looketh. Ainsworth admires and wonders what God intends by this Law: the meaning is, the leprosie betokens sinne. Now if the leprosie, or the plague, or the small pox; if it comes out into a scab, and comes into the flesh, and strikes outward, there is no disease within; but then there is danger when sores strike inward, and do not come out in the flesh: this Law hath this use in it, if the leprosie were onely on the skin, the man was not unclean, though there was sin in his life, yet sin was not in his heart: I, but saith God, if the scab be in sight deeper then the skin, then pronounce him unclean; to shew, if sin be in thy heart and in thy life too, though it be but a small sin, yet it is a sin that will damn thee: If I regard iniquity in my heart, Psal 66. 18. the Lord will not hear me. Therefore you that are morall men, that say, you thank God, that you have not broke out into grosse sins: consider, though sin be small, yet your small sins may have such circumstances, as may make them very great, sinning against your consciences, or else sin seising upon the heart.
[ 4] Fourthly, to morall men, that a great and grosse sinner may be pardoned, when morall men who never brake out into such grosse wickednesse, may live and dye in an unpardoned estate. I will give you tow instances, the one of the Pharisee, and the other of the young man in the the Gospell.
First of the Pharisee, in Luk. 18. I thanke God, saith he, I am no extortioner, no drunkard, no adulterer; I am not this nor that: the Pharisee▪ was a man that never broke out into scandalous sins; what was the conclusion? saith Christ, that he that justified himself was not justified; but the Publican was just•fied rather then the Pharisee: the Publican that had fallen into extortion, by his office he was tempted unto much extortion, he was a wicked liver, and yet went away justified. O! a civill honest Pharisee▪ a Pharisee that never brake out into scandall, yet was not justified: a Pulican that was a known and infamous sinner, went away justified.
2 The progidal sonne that ran away from his father, spent all his substance, and went to live among hogs and swine, in this world, that is wicked men, yet this man a pardoned man. The young man who told Christ that he kept al Gods commands from his youth was an unjustified man, yet the prodigal that was riotous from his, youth & confessed his sin, became a justified man, I am perswaded the very intent of these Scriptures, is for this end; that civil moral men should not presume on pardon, meerly on their civil morality.
[ 5] Fifthly consider, That what your sins do want in regard of others mens in bulk and magnitude, you may make up in number. Suppose thou hast not been a drunkard, an adulterer, an oppressor, yet thou hast many small sins, thou hast many secret and small failings: now remember, many small sins may sooner damn thee, then a few greater sins, I may make use of that pertinent Scripture, in Jer. 5. 6. Wherefore a Lion out of the forrest shall slay them, and a Wolfe of the evenings shall spoil them; a Leopard shall watch over their cities, every one that go•th out hence shal be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many, and their back-slidings are increased, Vers. 7. How shall I pardon thee for this? &c. Because their transgressions were many, therefore God comes with a question, How shall I pardon? Beloved, Suppose thy sins be not great, yet if they be many small sins, God may put this question to you, How shall I pardon you? Let me tell a paradox, that small sins are as hardly yea more hardly pardoned, then greater sins are. And the reason is, because a man is not so apt to repent for small sins, as he will be for great, because they are not so visible, and therefore conscience not so apt to do its office to put a man upon repentance; that is the reason of Christs speech, Verily I say unto you, that Publicans and harlots shall goe to heaven before them, why? because the Pharisees did depend upon their righteousnesse, and did not see their little small sins: a Publican, a harlot, that could not but by the light of nature see their extortion, their wickednesse, and harlotry, they should go to heaven before them, Christ told them of their sins and they repented of them. Therefore though your sins be but small, yet they may be many, and that will greaten your sins: a many small sins may run thee into deeper arrearages unto God, then a few grosser evils. As in Arithmetick many smal sigurs put together amount to agreater sum then a few great ones; So it is in respect of little sins. O then let me perswade you, that none of you would presume on pardon, because you have not fallen into greater and grosser evils. Thus much for first branch of the Use.
[Use. 2] The second follows, and that is this. To those that can say of their sins as David did, Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin,* sins cloathed with many hideous and hainous circumstances.
First, something by way of admonishment.
[ 1] First consider, though your grosse sins cannot bring your persons into a state of damnation, yet they will bring you into a state of sequestration; though they cannot keep thee from heaven, yet will they keep thee from comfort: God will suspend and withdraw the manifestations of his grace; he will turn his smiles into frownes upon thee. Beloved this is sad, a grosse sin will keep thee from the comforts and joyes of heaven, though it cannot keep thee from the possession of heaven.
A child of God that sins though hee bee not under ejection but of his heritage, yet he is under an interdiction thou mayest have a right to heaven, a right to salvation, yet God hath shut thee up that thou mayest not have the manifestations of a reconciled God towards thee; this is astonishment to thee.
[ 2] Secondly, to admonish thee, though thou beest pardoned; yet such wofull commotions, such dismall fears, will arise in thy conscience, that will make thee verily think thou art not pardoned. Beloved, if you fal into grosse sins, and repel the sanctifying work of the Spirit, God will withdraw the comforting Work of the Spirit. The spirit of God is compared to a Dove; the Dove loves to bee in clean places, but if the house be nasty, the Dove goeth away, and will not stay there: Gods Spirit is like a Dove, it loves to have the house of thy soule kept clean; but if thy soul be filled with noysome and nasty lusts, the Spirit of God will not descend on thee; the greater thy sins are, the greater thy sorrowes, anguish and tortures of thy conscience will bee. Philosophers say, the more vapours are drawn from the earth, the more the light and lustre of the Sun is eclipsed: the more sin doth arise from thy heart to thy life, the more thou darkenest the rising of the Sun of righteousnesse, that glorious beams shall not reflect on thee: thy falling into grosse sins, may cause wofull commotions, & dismal horrors in thy conscience; Consider, is not this grievous, thou pardoned sinner, to think though this grosse sin may not damn my soule, yet before I dye it will torture my conscience? If I do speak to a troubled conscience there is none in the world wil say, that the sweetnesse and pleasure of sin, can compensate the anguish and torture of conscience which smarteth for sin.
[ 3] Thirdly, Consider, thou that fallest into a grosse sin, though a justifyed person; yet it will be a harder work and a longer time for thee to attain assurance of pardon then for other men: the deeper a wound is, and the longer it is festering and rankling, the harder and longer it will be before it be healed again. David did pour out a river of tears before God did pour in a drop of the oyle of joy and gladnesse into his heart; David brake Gods Law, God broke his bones; therefore he prayed, Lord restore to me the joy of thy salvation, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoyce. It is worthy observation of what you read of Mary Magdalen a notorious sinner, there was a woman which was a sinner, that is, as some expound it, a knwn harlot, a known strumpet, saith Christ, her sinnes which are many are forgiven her: but did Christ tell these words to Mary? no, Christ spake these words to Simon, in whose house Christ was at supper: mark the method, Divines make much use of this. Mary fell into a grosse sin, but Mary must not first know her own pardon; Mary was weeping for her sin, and it was first revealed unto another that she was pardoned; to shew, that when men fall into grosse sins, God doth many times hide comforts from them, other men shall have good hope of their pardon, more then they have of themselves; let this be admonishment and a check to you to take heed of falling into grosse evils; for God may keep you long without manifestation of pardon.
[ 4] Fourthly, to admonish thee, consider, that thou doest run a very dangerous and desperate hazard to venture upon the commission of sin upon presumption of pardon: Wilt thou sin, that may be as painfull to thy conscience as the breaking of thy bones, because Christ can set thee in joynt again? Wilt thou sin and cut gashes in thine own flesh, because thou knowest the Bloud of Christ to be a soveraign balsam to cure thy wounds? for by his stripes we are healed.*
I now come to give you something by way of direction: Hast thou been a man that God hath left to thine own hearts lust? thou hast not onely sin, but the iniquity of sin, sin aggravated; then,
First take this rule, Labour in the residue of thy dayes to be as eminent in grace, as thou hast been formerly notorious in sin: have thy lusts been strong? labour now, that thy affections may be strong God-ward and Heaven-ward: has thy sin been cloathed with many hainous circumstances to make it great? let thy graces be cloathed with many holy circumstances to make them great: though this cannot make a compensation to the most High (for nothing thou hast or dost can recompense God for the wrong sin doth him) yet is this something by way of a Holy revenge on thy selfe; the more thou hast been notorious in evill, thou shouldest labour now to be more eminent in good.
[ 2] Secondly, Hast thou fallen into any grosse and aggravated guilt? follow this Rule, Labour that the greater thy sin and thy unkindnesse hath been to God, thou express now the greater love to Jesus Christ for pardoning mercy: O labour thou that hast great sins pardoned, that thou mayest have great love issued out to Jesus Christ; Christ did not simply aske Peter, Simon Peter lovest thou me? out goeth higher, Peter doest thou love me more then these? there was this reason why Christ shold aske him this Question, because Peter had sinned against Christ more then all the disciples had, therfore Peter must love Christ more.
Do I speak to any that have been taler by the head in sin, then any of their neighbours have been? O! if thou hast sinned much, love much; the greater the sin, the greater the pardon must be, and therefore on thy part the greater must thy love be to Jesus Christ; this is held out plain in that familiar parable that Christ useth, Luk. 7. 41. There was a certain creditor, Which had two debtors, the one ought five hundred pence, and the other fifty. Vers. 42. Aud when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both; Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most, Vers. 43. Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most: and he said unto him, thou hast rightly judged. The meaning of this is, the two debtors are two sorts of sinners, he that owed a little sum he could not pay his debt: though thou hast but few little sins, yet thou canst not satisfie for it. He that owned much was a great sinner, as Mary Magdalen: It may be God hath forgiven thee thy hundred of sins, & thy five hundred of sins: O make good this Parable that he that hath most forgiven him, love most, the greater thy sin hath been, the greater thy love most bee. It is thus with Mary Magdalen, Luk 7. 47. wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins which are many are forgiven her, for shee loved much. Her love doth hold proportion to her pardon; much pardon on Christs part, and much love on her part. O beloved let me here inculcate this on your thoughts: have any of you been great sinners? have you been guilty of aggravated and hainous circumstances? now finde that your love doth carry some proportion to your pardon.
[ 3] Thirdly hath God suffered thee to fall into the iniquity of sin? observe this direction, the greater thy sin hath been to God, labour that thy humiliation may be greater, that it may carry some proportion to the greatnesse of thy transgression. It is observable of what you read of three men in Scripture, of David, Manasses, and Peter, these all sinned greatly; and their sorrow and lamentation did carry proportion to their sin, in some measure; Manasses sinned greatly, and the Scripture saith of him, That he humbled himself greuly before the Lord. Peter did deny Christ shamfuly, and Peter went out and wept bitterly. You know David sinned notoriously▪ and he mourned exceedingly, rivers of tears ran from his eyes, he watered his couch with tears: all this teacheth you, that the greater thy sin hath been, the greater thy humiliation should bee. An observable Law you read of in Lev. 11. 24, 25. And for these you shall be unclean, whosoever toucheth the carkasse of them shall be unclean untill the Even. And whosoever beareth ought of the carkasse of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the Even, touching an unclean thing, a man was unclean; but if a man carried an unclean thing any length of time, then saith God he shall be unclean till Even, and he shall wash his clothes. This law shews, that touching an unclean sin, requires an humiliation; but if thou hast born a sin, and hugged a sin in thy armes, then there is greater worke required of thee, he was to wash his clothes, He that hath continued in sin must wash his heart by humiliation and must take more pains with his heart that hath fallen into a grosse evil, then those who have not fallen so foulely and frequently.
[ 4] Fourth Direction; In case thou expectest to have a high esteeme of pardoning grace, labour thou to find out all the aggravated and hainous circumstances in thy sin. Do not fear that the seeing of the sinfulnesse of sin will do you hurt: first look on pardon, and then look on the aggravation of thy sin; this is the way to heighten Christ merrits, and greaten Gods mercy, and extoll Gods pardoning grace. It is notably mentioned of two men that were famous this way. It is reported of Eusebius, when he came to confesse sin, he used these words, Lord there is none have sinned, as I have sinned, the Devil sinned, Judas sinned grievously, but none sinned as I: The Devil indeed sinned, but Christ never dyed for the Devill as he dyed for me, therefore my sin is a greater sin then the Devils: Judas sinned greatly, but Judas never had the pardon I had; Achan sinned too, but I sinned further then he▪ O labour to finde out what aggravations there are that thy evils are capable of, that so thou mightst come to magnifie and greaten the grace of God in thy esteem. A famous story of Austin, when God converted him, and smote his conscience for the vanity of his youth;* how doth he aggravate his sin when he was a boy for robbing of an Orchard, he doth aggravate that sin with many circumstances. First, I robbed an Orchard meerly out of vanity, not out of need, to steale for need is more tolerable, though not justifiable; but when he had enough, that was vanity; then it was not for the goodnesse of the fruit, but meerly for the lust of the eye: then I did not rob the Orchard alone, but I got others with me; then, it was an unseasonable time of night; then, he went to rob the Orchard after he had spent all the day in vain sport, then, what they could not eat they gave to the hogs; then, saith he, I wronged and injured an honest neighbour that never did me wrong; O see how hee clothed that sin with many hainous crimes and circumstances, canst not thou cloath thy uncleannesse, thy oppression, thy extortion, thy unjust dealing, with hainous circumstances? let me direct you a little in this rule.
First, To aggravate thy sin, consider all sins against the manifestation of Gods love are great, when God speaks peace to thee, if thou shouldst then return to foolishnesse, Psal. 85. 8. this greatnes sin: it was an aggravation of Solomons sin, that he sinned against the Lord after God had revealed himselfe twice to him, 1 King 11. 9. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared to him twice.
Secondly, It aggravates sin, when you commit a sin upon a slight temptation, for a man to sin when he hath little or no provocation, that greatens sin; What made the sin of the Devil so great? it was this, that those Angels had none to tempt them: for thee to follow the stews, for thee to follow thy lusts? when the Devil doth not tempt thee to doe it, when the provocation is meerly from thine own heart, this greatens a mans sin; and thus in the Prophet Micah, that men should sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a paire of shoes. O when thou shalt recollect and say, how have I dishonoured God, how have I run the hazard of an immortall soul? when the Devil hath laid no temptation to me, this greatens sins exceedingly.
A third thing to greaten sin by is, when a man doth sin against the checks and rebukes of his own conscience; Conscience saith, doe not sin, doe not wickedly, and the man saith, I must, I must, I shall lose all else. When Conscience shall arrest thee, and accuse thee of sin, and thou shalt stifle and put by all: this aggravates thy sin.
Fourthly, The frequency of the acts of sinne, to commit a sin once is not so much, but to fall often into the same sin, this greatens sin.
Fifthly, Complacency of heart in sin, when sin is not onely the sin of thy practise, and of thy life, but thou delightest in sin; if sin be rivetted and rooted in thy heart, thou art unclean: canst thou go to God, & say, Lord what grace is here land what mercy is here! that thou hast pardoned great transgressions, and those sins that I can aggravate by many hainous circumstances; I have read my pardon, and yet I have now blotted my pardon: canst thou say, I have sinned, and upon a very trivial occasion and on a smal temptation, I am a drudge to the Devil on an easie temptation; when the Devill can draw thee by a silken thread to a sin; O it is a great aggravation, when Conscience arrests thee for sin, and thou wilt still be stifling the cries of conscience: would you greaten sin, you are in a ready way to greaten mercy, & pardoning grace, that is a 4th direction.
[ 5] Fifthly, If God doth out of the riches of his grace pardon aggravated sins, take you heed, that when you have obtained great and gracious pardons for great and grievous sins, you do not extenuate your sins, do not say of your sins as Lot of Zoar, Is not this a little one? doe not say of wilfull enormities as Jacob did. Peradventure it was an oversight, do not mince the matter, and doe not lessen sin, but greaten sin. The reason why thou shouldst not doe it, consider first by extenuating sin and making it smal and little in your eye, you will lessen the greatnesse of Gods pardoning grace: who will value the skill and Physick of a kitchin woman? That Physitian is valued that can cure a deadly and dangerous disease: when a mans spirits are gone, and strength is consumed, the Physician is prized: thou by lessening thy sin dost lessen pardoning grace.
- By the extenuating thy sin, thou doest lessen the value of Christs bloud.
- Thou wilt lessen thine own repentance and humiliation: for what man will labour after great humiliation for small transgessions? therfore there is a world of wrong done to thy own soule, when God hath pardoned great transgressions, if thou shouldst extenuate and lessen the greatness of thy evils,
Sixthly, Content not your selves with slight and superciall repentance so falling into great and gross evils, be not like Lewis the eleventh King of France, when he did an evill against his conscience, he pulled off his hat and tooke his Crucifixe and cryed God mercy for what he had done; so many men, if they can but cry God mercy in ordinary and generall tearms, they think they have made a Compensation to Divine Justice. And thus have I done with the second branch of the use in these six particulars.
The third and the last branch shall be by way of Consolation,* to troubled and perplexed Consciences,* that by reason of their falling into aggravated and hainous sins, do entertain doubtfull thoughts of their own pardon: five Consolations I shall lay down to you from the scripture, who have repented of great and many sins.
[ 1] First, Consider for thy comfort, that conversion and repentance for sin before God, wipes off the ignominy and the infamy of thy former miscarriages; suppose thou hast been an ignominious notorious soul creature; yet repentance puts a vail over thy ignominious lusts.
[ 2] Secondly, Take this for thy comfort, that Jesus Christ, doth manifest more love to those men who have fallen into gross sin, after repentance and humiliation, then he did to any other sorts of men in the world; It is observable of Peter. Peter did sin more then all the Disciples unless Judas that was the cast-away; after Peter did humble himselfe and repent of his denyall, Christ did shew more love to Peter then to all the other Disciples.
First, Christ appeared to Peter after his Resurrection, before he appeared to any other, so Paul tels you in 1 Cor. 15. 5. And that he was scen of Cephas, and then of the twelve, there was love in Christ, Peter did deny but three daies before, and Peter must first see him.
Again, When Christ was risen from the dead, he sent a messenger to Peter particularly by name, Goe tell my Disciples in generall, and tell Peter that I am risen, Mark. 16. 7. But goe your waies, tell his Disciples and Peter. Peter was crying, weeping and be wailing that he should deny his Master, and saith Christ, Goe tell Peter that I am risen.
- Christ doth single out Peter after he rose from the dead, Christ hath more discourse with Peter then hee hath all with his Disciples else, Joh. 21. Thus you see that Jesus Christ manifests love to those sinners that sinned foully, after they have repented and are sufficiently humbled for their sin. Thus it is with Mary Magdalen after she repented, what expressions of love doth Christ to her? First, we read that hee cast out of her seven Devils, Luk. 8. 2. Then he appeared first to Mary, shee was the first that saw him when he was risen: Mark. 16. 9. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalen. Again, Christ commanded, that where ever the Gospell came to bee preacht, the fame of Mary should be made known, Matth. 26. 1, 3. Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this Gospell shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this that this woman hath done, be told for a memoriall of her; what a great honour was this to Mary Magdalen? Thus it appears that God doth manifest to those persons that have sinned the grossest sins, if afterward they shall have the more serious, and through humiliation, the clearest evidences, and the strongest comforts.
Thirdly, Take this for your comfort; It is not the greatnesse of that sin thou committest, but onely the hardnesse and impenitency of thy own heart that can exempt thee from pardon. Divines doe generally say, that the reason of that saying in Scripture, All sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come; It is not that there is not more merit in Christ to save then there is guilt in that sin; but it is because that man cannot, will not, repent of the sin; Therefore that sin cannot be forgiven, because he cannot repent. Suppose thy sin be blasphemy, this doth not exempt from pardon. It is not the greatnesse of thy sin, but the Judiciall hardnesse and finall impenitency of thy heart, that can exempt thee from pardon. when Peter preached to the Jewes that had a hand in crucifying the Son of God; yet saith he, repent and your sins shall be blotted out, O what sin could be greater then their embrewing their hands in the bloud of Christ? yet doe but repent and your sins shall bee blotted out. It is not for want of great mercy on Gods part, and great merits on Christs part that men are unpardoned; but it is want of repentance on thine owne part.
[ 4] Fourthly, That no grosse sin committed by a justified person can make void his former pardon; A rule among the Shoolemen: the worke of God cannot bee made void or frustrated by the worke of man, Election is a work of God, Redemption the work of God, Justification the worke of God, which cannot be made void by the work of man; therefore if God hath elected thee, redeemed thee, justifyed and pardoned thee, the incursion of grosse evills cannot restrain thee of former pardon; It is true, sinne may make void thy former comforts, thy for¦mer evidences; gross sins may lay wast thy conscience; but they cannot lay wast the grace, and the mercies of God; herein you may be greatly comforted and established.
[ 5] Fifthly, Take this for thy comfort, though thou dost fall into grosse and aggravated guilt, yet such is the goodness and mercy of God; that he orders thy very falling into sin to turn to thy good: I doe not mention this to any that they should be imboldened to fall into sin because it may turn to good; O it is God that orders a mans fall for his good: A threefold good that God doth to his people out of their very sins, God doth not onely doe good to his people by their afflictions, but he doth good to his people by their very sins.
First, Sometimes God doth so order that the falling of a godly man into sin, shall abate pride in his heart; men of great parts are apt to be proud, God many times will let strong lusts attend strong gifts, the more to abate and keep under the exaltation of spirit, therefore saith Paul, I have the messengers of Satan to buffet me, that I might not be exalted above measure; God doth many times to keep under pride, let a temptation loose on a man, & so God doth him good that way. Austin saith, I am not afraid to say, that it is profitable sometimes for good men to fall into sin.
Secondly, It will prevent many other sins; here is Gods great mercy, the putting of a man to pain takes away pain; God sometimes suffers a man to sin, that sin might keep out another sin; one sin may be so ordered by God to keep out another sin.
Thirdy, Falling into sin sometimes doth renew the work of repentance, the Lord sometimes lets them sleep that so he might awaken them by a greater humiliation, and to tast the more of the bitternesse and fruit of sin, here then is Gods goodnesse to a sinner, that by letting him fall into a sin he doth thee good, and makes thee to renew repentance, and greatens humiliation in thy heart.
Now for the finishing of this subject,* there are seven Cases of conscience that in this Doctrine are needfull to be resolved.
First, Whether God may forgive a man his sin, and yet the man himselfe not know it: here David had sin forgiven him, and David did know it, I acknowledge, and thou forgavest: but whether may a man have sin forgiven him, and yet not know he is pardoned? I answer, in the affirmative, that a man may have sin forgiven him, and yet not know that his sin is pardoned; though David did know his pardon at this time, yet he did not know his pardon at other times, Psal. 51. Restore unto me the joy of thy Salvation. God broke Davids bones for his Adultery, and David was driven to shed a River of tears before God did pour in one drop of joy, Job 33. 10. Behold hee findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy. Job thought that God was an enemy unto him: and you have not onely the confession of one man, but the doubts and fears of the Church in generall, Lament. 3. 42. We have transgressed and have rebelled, thou hast not pardoned, we have rebelled, &c. Yet God had pardoned, and God had forgiven them; yet here was their fear and their doubt, they lay under suspense of pardon; God may pardon a sinne unto the Elect, and yet they not know that they are pardoned, and in the manifold Wisdome of God there are divers reasons for it; first by keeping them under a suspense of pardon, they may sympathize with and carry more tenderness of compassion towards them that are troubled in minde; it was one end of Christs sufferings, his soule was in an agony and under a desertion, crying, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? what was the end of it? it was for this, that Christ might carry more compassion, and more bowels of tendernesse towards persons that are under deep desertions; Let a scholar that studies many things, read in a Booke, of the storms and distresses that sea-men are subject unto; yet by all he reads he cannot pity men in a storm, if he have never been in a storm himselfe; let one read what the scripture mentions of the pangs of a woman in travell, she cannot so compassionate a woman in travell, unlesse shee hath had the pangs her selfe; so in Divine things, it is experience that makes men have compassion.
Secondly, It is for this reason, to raise up in mens hearts a higher esteem of pardoning grace; things hardly come by, are highly set by; what is the reason that birds do chirp and sing more sweetly in the spring then in any other part of the year? it is for this, because after the vanishing away of a long and tedious winter the refreshing Spring comes in: Beloved, The Lord makes his people chirp and sing in the sense of pardoning grace, rejoycing in that the more, the longer the winter of desertion hath been: when God lets them have long desertion, then they doe the more rejoyce and sing when pardons are attained: Men do then prize the shore, when they have been tossed by a tempest on the sea. Those that have been tossed on the waves of spirituall trouble, that have had a storm and tempest in their conscience, they will prize pardoning grace most.
Thirdly, God doth sometimes pardon a mans sin, yet not tell him of it; and it is for rebuke to him, because he hath not lived in the exercise of grace: thou keepest back obedience from God, and God keeps back comfort from thee: this is a main reason why sometimes God pardons a sinner, and yet doth not tell him of it in his own conscience. It is done in heaven, the pardon is written there; but it is not done in the conscience, it is not written here: It is to give thee a rebuke, a check in thine own heart; surely I have not exercised grace, therefore surely God will not give me the comforting work of his Spirit: when thou art not much in grace, then thou shalt be but little in peace, it is just with God so to doe.
Fourthly, the Lord pardons a sin when he doth not tell that it is pardoned; it is to make the repentance of men more visible and satisfactory to the world that hath been offended by their sin. The Lord will make the world see that if men will sinne notoriously they shall smart bitterly; to make the world see that repentance is no slight worke, and to make peace with God, is not easie.
Fifthly, to make men to taste the evils and bitternesse of sin; should a man that is notoriously wicked, presently attain the sense of pardon, it may be he would not tast the bitternesse of sin.
- Another reason is this, to teach doubting Christians that assurance is not essentiall to pardon, it is separable from pardon, it is separable from faith, therefore from pardon. A man may beleeve, yet know not that he doth beleeve: The Lord doth it for that end, to teach doubting Christians that though they have not assurance, yet they may have faith; though they want the sense of pardon, they may be pardoned: there cannot be fruit, but there must be a tree; yet there may be a tree, when there is no fruit; there may be grace in the heart, when there is no peace in the conscience; to have peace is additionall to grace: now the Lord for these holy ends doth sometimes pardon a sin in heaven, when the pardon is not sealed to the conscience. Thus much for the first case.
[ 2] A second Case of conscience is this, if God pardons a sin, whether or no doth he afflict and punish men for it after it is forgiven? this is an usefull question: and the reason is, because there are errors and mistakes about it; mistakes on the right hand and on the left. The Antinomians say that a pardoned sinner is never afflicted for sin; and say they, to say that a man whose sin is forgiven is afflicted for sin, doth derogate from the satisfaction and sufferings of Christ. Then the Papists say, that men are afflicted and punished for sin, and that these punishments are for satisfaction to divine Justice, and they are meritorious: and on this ground they bottome Purgatory, that after a man is dead, he must for some years lye in Purgatory, to satisfie for some notorious grosse sin done in his life.
Now Beloved to keep you from swerving either way, I shall lay down the true genuine state of this Question, and resolve it to you.
First consider this, That God doth not afflict any man but where sin is, that is my first position. God doth not cruciate an innocent creature: indeed the Schoolemen have a question, whether God by his soveraignty may torment an innocent creature; but that is but a nicety; but this is most certain, that God in the dispensation of his Judgements doth punish no man, but where sin is, sin entred into the world, and death by sin.
Secondly, though God afflicts none sinlesse, yet sometimes it may be for triall and not for any particular sin; so was Jobs affliction, it was not for sin, but for triall, to try Iobs grace.
Thirdly and chiefly, it is apparant from the Scriptures, that pardoned sinners may be punished for their sins. Would not this be partiall for a father to beat the servant for a fault, yet not beat the child for a worse fault? Now the Lord will not leave such a plea as this in any wicked mans heart. In all the Kingdomes of the world, where sword, where pestilence, where famin, and where plagues have been, the good have fallen with the bad; the righteous have fallen by the sword, as well as the wicked: the reason is, that the world should not say that he is a partiall God. Now to satisfie and to establish your thoughts in this point, I shall give you two expresse testimonies in the Scripture, that God doth punish his people for sin, though their sins be pardoned. The one is of David, 2 Sam. 12. 14. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the childe also that is born unto thee, shall surely dye. I will punish thee in thy child, I will pardon thy sin, yet I will punish thy sin; so likewise in 2 Sam. 7. 14. 15. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: If hee commit iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men, but my mercy shal not depart away from him, &c. A promise to Solomon, I will be his father, and he shall be my son: but if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with rods. And the Psalmist, when he quotes this expression, referres it to all the godly, Psal. 89. 31, 32. If they break my Statutes, and keep not my commandements; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. It was not onely true of Solomon, but it is spoken of all the Church, If they commit iniquity, I will chastise them with rods. See, here a Solomon may be chastned with rods if he commits iniquity: nay, not only one man, but all the Church, 3. 2. You onely have I known of all the families of the earth, therfore I will punish you for all your iniquities. If God be severe, it is with his own people to make them smart for sin: he may spare wicked men, and not punish them here, because he hath his hell for them hereafter: but this shall be all the hell of a godly man, and all their punishment. I, but this is Old Testament, and thus the Antinomians take off, and evade this Scripture: but doth God so in the New Testament? Yes, in the New Testament, Rom. 8. 20, And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin. He speaks of the beleeving Romans that death on their bodies was because of sin. And then the Apostle speaks to the godly Corinthians, 1 Cor. 11. 29, 30. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation or judgement to himselfe, not discerning the Lords body. For this cause many are weak and sickly amongst you, and many sleep. Many godly men were sick and weak for their prophaning the Lords Supper: and this is under the New Testament, that the Apostle saith, as approving the righteous judgement of God, let not us commit fornication, as some of them commited, 1 Cor. 10. Let not us fall as they fell, and many of them it is probable among the 23 thousand were good men: The Apostle approves of Gods Judgement to bee righteous in that Act.
Only one objection against this.
Doth not the Scripture say, in Isa. 53. That the chastisement of our peace was laid on Christ? now if all those chastisments that were due to us for sin, were laid on Christ, doth not this derogate from Christs sufferings that hee must suffer too? doth not this intimate that Christs sufferings were not satisfactory?
The Answer is easie.
That when we say, we suffer for sin, and are punished for sin, understand it thus, there is a great deal of difference between our suffering for sin and Christs suffering for sin; we doe not suffer for sin as Christ did, because our punishments for sin are not by way of satisfaction to Divine Justice, but onely by way of castigation from Divine Justice: when God doth punish a pardoned man with some outward Judgement for sin, it is no satisfaction, no compensation: when the text saith, that our chastisements are laid upon Christ: the meaning is, Christ suffers for sin by way of satisfaction, he appealeth Gods wrath, he satisfies Gods Justice for the sins that we have done: should we lose our bloud for a sin, should we give the fruit of our body for the sins of our soule, yet this cannot make a compensation for sin: therefore it may well consist that God punished Christ for our sins by way of satisfaction to his Justice, and may punish us by way of castigation, as a father his children.
First, Because wicked men that are punished for sin, would accuse God of partiality and injustice, should he punish them and not his own people for the same sin: wicked men would account God partiall: but the wicked shall say, I see Gods own people are punished in this life, more severely then I am: the Lord doth it to vindicate the impartiality of his Justice, that he will not spare sin where ever finds it.
A second Reason is, Because God doth command Magistrates to execute punishments in this life for sin even upon good men; therefore if he commands a Magistrate to punish a good man for his sin, surely he doth approve of their punishment. Suppose a good man should commit adultery, he was to dye for it: suppose he should commit murder, he was to dye for it; if God did command that p••nall punishment should be inflicted on good men in this life, then surely he might doe it much more himself.
[Case. 3] The third Case of Conscience is this, Whether doth pardon of sin, go before faith and repentance, or else follow after? I doe not speak now of the priority of nature, but of the priority of time. This is a usefull question.
There are many Books in Print, made by severall Antinomians that plead for this, and they say that repentance is not a condition to qualifie the subject to obtain forgivenesse, but onely a signe to manifest that sin is forgiven, and that a man is pardoned from all eternity, that before a man beleeves and repents, he is pardoned: which is a falshood, for to a beleever the Apostle doth confine pardon. Rom. 3. 25. Whom God hath set forth to bee a propitiation, through faith in his bloud, to declare his righteousnesse, for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. For sins that are past, those sins you have committed and have repented of, he gives you pardon for all them. He that confesseth and forsaketh his sin, shall fiade mercy, and he that doth not so, shall not find mercy. He that hideth his sin shall not prosper.
I answer to this query, that God doth pardon sin after a man repents and beleeves, not before: and to give you a proofe for this: First, I shall give you the grounds from the Scripture: then absurdities that would follow if this were not so.
[ 1] First from the Scripture, Observe, that the Scripture doth limit and confine pardon to a repenting state. Act. 3. 19. Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sin may be blotted out. No blotting out of sin without repentance, Repent that your sin may be blotted out. Act. 26. 18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darknesse to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgivenesse of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me. So that till thou beest turned from darknesse to light, untill thou beest turned from Satan to God, thou hast not received forgivenesse of sins: mark the antecedent word, hee opens their eyes, &c. therefore God expresly doth tye forgivenesse of sin to repentance: and so in Joh. 1. 9. If we confess our sins, he is faithfull and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnesse. There is first a confession, this is a part of repentance, and then forgivenesse.
[ 2] Secondly, there is no promise in all Scripture, that God will pardon a sin before repentance for sin: but there are many promises that God will pardon when they doe repent, Jer. 23. 8. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity whereby they have sinned against me, and I will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. Many promises, that when men repent of sin they shall have •in pardoned: but there is never a promise that hath any shew, that before a man repents he shall have pardon.
Thirdly, the Scripture doth lay all men under a state of wrath and condemnation, till they beleeve and repent unlesse ye repent ye shall all likewise perish, Luk. 13. 5. I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Ephes. 2. 3. Among whom also we had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fullfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the minde, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others, Vers. 12. that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the Common-wealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. No hope of heaven, no hope of pardon in an unconverted state. Now by the sufferings of Christ, wee receive pardon; a man unrepenting, is a man without Christ, therefore surely without pardon. Therefore the Antinomians doctrine doth bolster men in profanenesse: saying (in a manner) to a drunkard, go on in drunkennesse, for God hath pardoned thee from all eternity: but I say, Repent therefore, that your sins may bee blotted out. There are not onely these expresse testimonies in Scripture, and reasons grounded thereupon; but manifold and grosse absurdities that would follow if you should deny this truth. This would follow then, that there is no difference between a converted man, and a man unconverted: and is not this grosse to say that there is as much comfort to a man before he is converted, as to one after he is converted?
[ 2] Secondly, if a man is pardoned before he beleeves and repents, then this destroyes Justification by faith, being justified by faith we have peace with God. Now justification is a pardoning of sin, is Gods gracious act, and not imputing sin unto you; when the Scripture saith, I am justified by faith, and the Antinomian saith, I am justified without faith, where lyes the error? Now then to say that a man is pardoned before he beleeves and repents, is in express terms to contradict the Scripture, when the Scripture saith, he is justified by faith.
The Antinomians have this evasion, say they, a man is pardoned before he beleeves, he is actually pardoned; but when he beleeves, then he hath manifestation of pardon. On this evasion, another grosse error will follow; for by this reason faith is no more instrumentall to justification, then as it is declarative to a man that he is justified: whereas the Scripture saith there is more use of faith, for faith is an instrument actually to lay hold on Christ for pardon; the grace of love to Christ, the grace of humility, the grace of selfe-deniall, and the grace of mortification; these do evidence and declare a pardoned state as well as faith: this is to destroy the main use of faith, and makes faith of little or no use in Justification.
[ 4] Again, another absurdity will follow, to say that a man before he repents is pardoned, it is as much as to say, before a man be in Christ, he is pardoned: this is false, for without Christ there is no pardon. I might run over many absurdities that would follow in denying this orthodox point.
[Object. 1] There is one strong Objection, which is this.
[Answ. 1] Doth not God love a man from all eternity? and doth not the Scripture say, that we were chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world were laid? Now God electing of us, or loving of us, is Gods pardoning of us; if God doth love a man before he was born, then sure God doth pardon a man from eternity. To argue from Gods love to actuall pardon, is as great an absurdity as to argue, that because God did purpose from all eternity to create the world, therefore the world was created from eternity. God decrees to pardon from all eternity, God executes this decree when thou art converted, God doth manifest this, that he hath pardoned thee, when he doth give thee the assurance of his love. Antinomians make onely the decree and the manifestation, and leave out the execution of it.
Secondly, observe this, That when we say that God doth love a man from all eternity, you must not understand it, that it is a love in purpose: and Divines do give this solid and usefull distinction in it, that there is a twofold love in God, there is a love of purpose▪ and a love of complacency or delight: the love of purpose is in God towards elect men from all eternity, that is, a love where God hath a purpose in time to doe a soule good: but a love of complacency and delight in God, is not in God till he be converted: before conversion, God hath not a love of delight, for there is nothing in thee that God should take delight in: At that time ye were children of wrath: God doth not love an elect man with the love of complacency, till hee be converted, untill he doth repent and beleeve.
[Object.] Another objection is this.
Doth not God pardon a man before hee beleeves, and repents, then what say ye of young Infants which cannot actually beleeve or repent, you will not be so cruell to say that all Infants go to hell.
[Answ. 1] I answer, I am farre from thinking that all Infants go to hell:* I beleeve that Heaven is as full of Infants as any other rank of years in the world; yet this plea will make nothing for those that plead for justification before repenting and beleeving, this is onely spoken of justificacation and salvation of Infants without actuall beleeving.
Thirdly consider, that there is a great difference between the state of an Infant, and of men grown to years: the scripture tels you,*that faith comes by hearing, that is in men grown in years they must get their faith in an ordinary way by hearing the Word preached: but this rule holds not for young Infants, because they are not capable of understanding, they wanting the use of reason, and God expects no more from them then he gives ability: faith comes by hearing, faith the scripture: but saith the Antinomian, what need I hear, what need I pray, for a man may have pardon without all? But consider, that though children cannot exercise faith, yet children may have habituall faith, as Divines say, children may have grace seminally, though they cannot have the exercise of grace. Thou canst not tell, saith Solomon, how the bones of a childe grow in the womb, therefore much more how God by a strange and a powerful manner can implant and impresse grace in the heart of a sucking babe; yet there is grace in elect children: in an elect child there is seminall grace, and habituall grace. As there is sin seminall in a childes nature, that before a childe can act sin, it hath sin; so by the same reason, they are capable of grace, you that will deny grace to children, will fall into the Pelagian error, that a childe hath no sin: but a childe hath a depraved nature, a nature enclining to sin; therefore when it comes to years, though it should never see a sin cōmited, yet would it sin: a child cannot act grace cannot act faith & repentance, that is true, but a child may have grace habituall;* therefore Christ took children in his arms and blest them, surely they must be gracious children; such children are pardoned: we know not how to express their faith, but they have an habituall faith. And thus much for the answering of that third case of conscience.
[ 4] The fourth Case to be handled, is this, Whether it be consistent with the state of pardon to commit often the same grosse sin over and over again? It is needfull to touch upon this case, because it perplexeth troubled mindes. I shall speak to this point two wayes.
First, by way of comfort.
[ 5] Secondly, by way of Caution,
First, by way of Comfort.
The first answer is this, That it is clear by an induction of particular instances in Scripture, that pardoned men have fallen often into the same sin, this is most clear.
First, if you referre it to spirituall sins, to evils that are of daily incursion, evils that are inward and spirituall, spirituall pride, distempered passion, omission in duties; a pardoned man may many times fall in such sins as these.
[ 2] Further, it is clear by induction of instances in Scripture that a pardoned man may fall into grosse sins, oftentimes into the same sin: some instances, one is of Ioseph, it was a grosse sin for Joseph to swear an heathenish Oath, by the life of Pharoah, Gen. 42. 15. Hereby ye shall bee proved, by the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence except your youngest brother come hither. Send one of you and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies. Yet the Jewes were so well instructed, and had such prohibitions against swearing, one should thinke that they should not be guilty of so grosse an evill; yet Joseph being in Pharoahs court among heathens, he swore twice by the life of Pharoah. And thus you read of Jehosaphat, he fell twice into the same sin, he made a league with Ahaziah King of Israel, he loved them that were enemies to God, 2. Chron. 20 35, 36, 37. And after this did Jehosaphat King of Judah joyn himselfe with Ahaziah King of Israel, who did very wickedly: And he joyned himself with him to makships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Ezion Geber. Then Eliezer the son of Dodanah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehosaphat, saying, because thou hast joyned thyselfe with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works: and the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish. Twice he ran into the same sin. If there were no more spoken of Sampson in the New Testament, then in the Old, it were questionable whether he was a good man or no: but what read you of Sampson? You read of him first of al, that he maryed a heathenish woman, which was against Gods command. Nay, he fell to the same sin when the Philistims killed her, then he maryed a whore, chap. 16, 1. then went Samson to Gaza,*and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her. Nay again, you shall finde him fall three times into the same sin. He did three times tell a lye, one after another; when Daliah came to inveagle him on the instigation of the Philistims that she should learn where Sampsons strength lay: first saith Sampson, If they bind me with seven green withs, that were never dryed; then shall I be weak, and be as another man. But when he was bound, he broke the withs as one would break the thred in two when it toucheth the fire: then saith she, why hast thou deceived me and told me a lye? then hee told her againe, If thou wilt binde me with new ropes that were never used, then I shall be weak like another man: but he broke the ropes. Nay, he tels her a third lye, he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web, then my strength will goe from me, and this she did also, and his strength remained. But the fourth time hee told her truth, saith he, If I bee shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like another man: and she caused the seven locks upon his head to be shaved off, and his strength went from him. I speake this to a perplexed conscience;* that good men may be so overborn, that they may frequently act over the same sin again and again.
Then Peter that did lye thrice as Sampson did, Peter did deny Christ three times with an oath and a cursing.
Therefore this should be something to stay the doubting and desponding heart, that not only sins of an unavoidable infirmity, secret spiritual sins, but also sins that are more obnoxious to infamy and scandal, good men have fallen into, and yet have been pardoned.
[ 3] Another answer, that Jesus Christ Christ bids us to forgive our brother that sins against us in one day seventy times seven;* if Jesus Christ cals for this at our hands, who have hardly a drop of bowels, surely God that hath a sea and a vast Ocean of mercies, can forgive a sin, and will forgive a sin, though it be often reiterated.
Thus much for the answer to that question, as to the comfort of troubled souls.
Now by way of Caution, that this comfort the scripture gives be not abused.
[ 1] The first Caution is this, That though it be possible a man may fall often into the same sin; yet it is not usuall so to doe; it is a note that Mr Hildersham hath on Ps. 51. touching Davids foul sin. I doe not read of any expresse example in all the Scriptures of a godly man falling oft into the same grosse sins after repentance, and after humiliation for that sin. Observe this further, that though it be possible, yet it is but very rare, and though there be instances that some men have done so, yet there are not more plentifull instances that good men have not done so, I will give you a few instances. Jehosaphat entred into a sinfull league with Ahaziah as he had done before with his father, but when the Prophet rebuked him; read the story, 1 King. 22. He had sinned a once with his father, but he would not sin a second time with his Son, so that, here you see a good man would not second time joyn with an Ahaziah; So likewise you have the instance in Judah, that was in father in law to Thamar, Gen. 28. 26. And Judah acknowlegded them and said; she hath been more righteous then I, because that I gave her not to Shelah may son: and he knew her again no more. It was not again done, he knew her again no more, so as Divines do usually urge it; Noah was drunke, but never but once, and that before he knew the strength of the grape. David was adulterous, but never but once: This therefore shall be one caution.
[ 2] Secondly, Take this caution, that you might not bee emboldned to run often into the same sin; if a man doth often commit the same grosse sin, it argues a greater strength and prevalency that sin hath over him then all other sins. Physitians say, that a disease that a man doth often relaspe into, argues the strength of these peccant humours that feed the disease; if thou often fallest into lusts, it argues the prevalency of a lustfull temper.
In the third place, Relapses into the same grosse sin, are very dangerous and deadly symptomes of a man in a lost condition, I do not say, they are such symptoms that infalibly conclude a man to be an unpardonable man; I may say as Physitians say of a relapse into the same disease; the second time is more dangerous then the first; the reason is, because the first sicknesse feeds on the ill humours, but relapse into the same sickness feeds on the vitall spirits: Beloved, the falling and relapsing into the same sin is a dangerous symptome, it is a clear symptome of the prevalency of that sin. It is worth your notice what symptomes, the Lord doth give of the plague of leprosie for the Priest to judge that disease by, Levit. 13. the first symptome was when the hair was turned white in the fore; Divines accommodate that to a continuance in sin to old age, that argues you are unclean Lepers. Another symptome was, when there was raw flesh in the scab; Divines accommodate that unto a man being adventurous to sin against a raw, a troubled and a wounded Conscience. A third sign of the plague of leprosie was, when after the sore was healed, there should a new scab arise in the place thereof: thus when after thou hast healeda sin, by vows, by fasting and prayer, by holy purposes in Christs strength, and after the healing the same sore breaks out, and the same lust breaks in upon thee, this is a dangerous symptome.
[ 4] Fourthly, that you might not be adventurous on sin, and so acuse this comfort: consider, that falling often into the same sin, doth more harden the heart then any thing in the world, habituating and indulging a mans selfe into the same road of wickednesse; there is nothing in the world doth more harden the heart, then when the same sin hath an usual inroad into thy conscience & life, then all tendernesse and remorse of conscience wil be taken away; I speak meerly on this ground, that seeing you have instances that men may often fall into the same grosse evils, yet let these four considerations keep you from abusing this comfortable point. I, but you will say, if I do fall often into the same sin, what may be to stay my heart up that I may be in a pardoned state for all this? I say this to you, though thou dost fall often into the same sin; yet if thy conscience bears thee witnesse thou dost exercise the same grace often in opposition to the same sin, thou mayest have a great deal of comfort that thou art in a state of pardon.
[Case. 5] The fifth case follows.
But whether may a godly man that is pardoned pray for pardon of sin? Antinomians account this to be needless; they account all prayer for pardon to be onely in this sense; to wit, of pardon, and a manifestation of pardon.
[Answ.] First, though it be true, that God doth not call a man to pray for those things that are perfectly done so as never to be done again, as election and creation; yet God doth command us to pray for those things that are still a doing, I am not to pray to God to create the world, it is perfectly done, I am not to pray for Election, it is so done as never to be done more. I am not to pray for the incarnation of Christ, Christ is come into the flesh, but though I am not to pray for these things that are so fully and perfectly done; yet I am to pray for those things that are still adoing, pardon of sin is an act of God that is still in doing, therefore the Apostle referrs pardon, Rom, 3. 24, 25. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his bloud, to declare his righteousnesse for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. And as sin is remitted and repented of, it is pardoned; therefore that reason is not valid to take off men from praying for pardon of sin, the Scripture doth express it, I acknowledged my transgression and thou forgavest. Math. 6. 12. and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debters. That Plat-form according to which we are to model our prayers, the Antinomians would evade the Text and pretend, that in that Text and such Scriptures we onely pray for a sense and manifestation of pardon in the conscience, and not for actuall exhibition of pardon in regard of God.
To take off this, first, the next words in the Petition, are to be taken for a reall forgivenesse, not a forgivenesse in sense and feeling; for consider the whole Petition, Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespasse against us; there can be no reason shewen why the first part of the Petition should be taken for sense and feeling of forgivenesse, and the other should not be taken so.
Secondly consider this, that in the same sense you must understand a sin to be forgiven, as in Scripture language it is spoken not to be forgiven; a sin is said not to be forgiven when there is an actuall guilt lies upon a man; a guilt abiding upon the person of a wicked man that is not taken away, Mat. 12. 32. And whosoever speaketh a word against the son of man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not bee forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. They that understand forgiving only in sense and feeling, must understand this clause, not forgiving onely in sense and feeling, and so no reall guilt to lye upon the man: so that,
It is against the nature of forgivenesse to be only forgiving sin in a mans own conscience.
[Case. 6] A sixt case is this, Whether when a man in suing for pardon, ought to make any difference between great sins and small sins. The Stoicks say all sins are alike, and there is no difference; It is true, in regard of the object, all sins are against God; yet when you come to beg pardon for sin, according as your sins are greatned, you are accordingly to behave your selves in seeking for pardon: God can pardon great sins as well as small, in regard of God there is no difference, nor in regard of the merits of Christ; but yet in your behaviour in seeking for pardon of sinne you are to make a great difference between the greatnesse and the smallnesse of your evils: For consider, the scripture makes a difference between sins; therefore we must doe so; The Scripture compares some sin to Camels, and some to Gnats; The Scripture compares some sin to beams, and some to motes, some sins as talents, and others but as pence, and in Amos there is mention made of mighty sins Amos 5. in John of greater sins, Joh. 19. 11. Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above; therefore he that delivered me unto thee, hath the greater sin. It is true, every sin deserves hell, yet there is more of the punishment of hell inflicted on some sinners then others, the reason why I speak of this case, is to let you know, that as God hath suffered any of you to fall into aggravated and hainous evils, so he requires more of you then of other men. Consider, That God requires of you more humiliation then he requires of other men: In the Law you read that if a man toucht the unclean thing, he was unclean till evening, but if a man bare an unclean thing he was to wash his cloths, to shew that the touch of sin requires humiliation; but the bearing of a sin in thy bosome, thy continuing in sin requires more work then meerly the touch of sin; Peter wept bitterly for his deniall, he did more for that sin then for an ordinary sin. So that you are to consider, that though in regard of Christ there is no difference between a great sinne and a small; as the red Sea could drown Pharaoh and his host as well as a single man; so Christs blood can drown a huge host of sins; but yet you must encrease your humiliation on the aggravation of your guilt; thus much for the sixth case of Conscience.
[Case. 7] The seventh is this;
What are those great and hainous circumstances that doe greaten sin; that so I may see whether I have aggravated my sin or not; here are these circumstances which do aggravate and greaten sin.
[Ans. 1] First, Sinning against the frequent manifestation of Gods love to thy soule, this greatly aggravates sin; this did aggravate Solomons sin,*1 King. 11. Solomon was the beloved of the Lord, yet he provoked him to anger, after he had appeared to him twice.
[ 2] Secondly, To sinne against the rebukes and checks of thine own Conscience, doth greaten sin, Jam. 4. 17. Therfore to him that knoweth to do good, and doth it not, to him it is sin. It is sin to another man that doth not know it; but to him that knoweth it, it is a greater sin; this Christ refers to and speaks of Judas that would betray him; and yet knew that he was the Son of God: What, my Disciples to betray me! his sin was the greater, Conscience is Gods Officer in man; it is a greater fault to strike a Constable then an ordinary man out of Office; for thee to sin against the rebukes and checks of Conscience, aggravates sinne.
[ 3] Thirdly, To sin against Gods judgements upon other men, is an aggravated evill; for thee to sin when God hath given thee warning of sin from other mens blood; this did aggravate Belshazzars sin, Dan. 5. 22. 23. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thy selfe against the Lord of heaven, &c. Thou that knowest how a man is plagued for his uncleannesse; thou that knowest how a man is plagued for riotous living, yet thou wilt live riotous, and thou wilt live adulterous, that thy sin is the greater, thou sinnest against the monument of the eie, as well as against the warning of the eare.
[ 4] Fourthly, Sin against Gods judgements upon our selves, doth weighten sin; this did aggravate Abaz sin, 2 Chron. 28. 22. And in the time of his distresse, he did trespasse yet more against the Lord.
[ 5] Fifthly, To sinne against mercies is an aggravation of sin, 2 Sam. 12. I delivered thee out of Sauls hand, I gave thee thy Masters house, I gave thee the house of Israel, and if all this had been too little for thee, I would have moreover given thee such and such things; Wherefore hast thou despised? &c. What thou sinne David, and hast been loaden with a heap of mercies? this greatens thy sin.
[ 6] Sixthly, It greatens sin, when the sinne is immediately against God, 1 Sam. 2. 25. If one man sin against another, the Judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? If a man sinnes against God, O who shall plead for him?
[ 7] Seventhly, To sin against the motions of Gods spirit, aggravates sin, when the spirit of God shall in thy Conscience perswade thee that thou wouldst not follow such wicked waies as thou art walking in; when the Spirit of God shall come and wooe thee to be reconciled, to alter thy course, and to walk in better paths; when not only the voice of conscience, but the motions of Gods Spirit shall be stifled, this aggravates sin: Hence it is that Scripture in setting out the wronging and withstanding the spirits motion, whether to good, or from evill, doth ascend by gradations: sometimes it is called quenching the spirit;*Quench not the Spirit; a higher degree, there is a grieving the Spirit,* when there are frequent acts to withstand divine motions, that is a grieving the Spirit. And then there is an higher aggravation then this, that is, resisting the Spirit, Act. 7. 51. Ye stiffe necked, and uncircumcised in heart and eares, yee doe alwaies resist the Holy Ghost, as your Fathers did, so do ye: This is caused by pertinaciousnesse in withstanding the spirits motion. And then the scripture speaks of vexing the spirit, Isa. 63. 10. But they rebelled and vexed his holy spirit, therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and fought against them: This is not only by one single act; but when continually throughout thy course, thou hast a wilfull and a gainsaying heart against all the motions of Gods spirit within thee: Must not this be a great evill in thee, when thou dost quench, grieve, resist, and vex the spirit? all these circumstances must needs aggravate and greaten thy sin.
[ 8] Eightly, Sin is aggravated when thou dost frequently fall into the same sin.
[ 9] Ninthly, Sin is aggravated when it is done in a way of complacencie, that it is not onely acted by thee, but loved by thee, the acting of a sin, is not so much as a loving of sinne.
[ 10] Tenthly, Sin is aggravated when it is done by eminent and publick persons, whose example draw other men to sin, and this did aggravate Jeroboams sin, 2 Kin. 17. 21. For he rent Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat King, and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin. Thou that hast sinned a sin, and art a publick person, thy sins are other mens sins, thine is a greater sin then another mans sin is; for every act that thou hast done, will be an imboldning and encouragement of others to do the like.
[ 11] It aggravates sin, when God doth punish other men for thy sin, this makes the sins of Rulers to be great sins, because for their sins God may punish the people, as for Davids sin in numbring the people, there did thousands of Israel die of the plague; when thou sinnest in thy family, God may punish all the house for that sin, this you shall find an aggravation of Abrahams sin, Gen. 20. 9. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us, and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my Kingdome a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.
[ 12] Sin is an aggravated sin when it is done by a man that lives under much means of grace; where the Gospell is preached, where sin is reproved, there to live in a way of wickednesse,* greatens thy sin: that made a woe to be pronounced by Christ, against Chorazin and Bethsaida, because they had the Gospell, it should be worse with them then with Sodom and Gomorrah.
[ 13] Sin is aggravated, when they are against many vows, purposes, and prayers, and many holy resolutions, thou addest perjurie to thine iniquitie, and that aggravates thy sinne.
Oh then admire the riches of Gods pardoning grace, that he forgives sins cloathed with many aggravated circumstances; O then what remains? there are two things to be done by you:
First, If at any time you find that you are under these aggravations, that you can call your sins the iniquity of sin; O then you should admire and magnifie the multitude of Gods mercy, that great sins cannot out-vie Gods mercy, but Gods mercy out-vies thy great sins, Magnifie pardoning grace the more; Paul saith, 1 Tim. 1. 13. I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, but I obtained mercy, &c. O do thou say so, I have been thus vile and thus wicked, I have thus abounded in sin, yet through the abundance of grace and love, I have obteined mercie. O let this inhance the value of Christs blood.
Secondly, Labour to greaten thine own graces; hast thou been notorious in sin? why shouldst not thou be great in humiliation, great in repentance.
And thus I have by the good hand of God in these Sermons, handled two Doctrines to you, the one touching Davids penitentiall act confessing sin, and the other of Gods gracious act, The Lord forgave him the iniquity of his sin.
JOHN 14. 3.
And if I goe and prepare a place for you. I will come againe and receive you unto my selfe, that where I am, there ye may be also.
THis Chapter out of which my Text is taken, is counted famous by most Interpreters, because in it begins the Legacy that Christ gives, and the last Will and Testament that Christ made when he was to leave the world, and this Wil and Testament of Christs, begins in this 14. Chapter, and continues to the 18. Chapter of this Book. The scope and drift of this Chapter, is to comfort his Disciples, both against their fears of persecution in the World, as also against their sorrowes, upon this consideration, that Christ was shortly to leave this world, and Christ doth here mention many comfortable considerations to fence them against their fears, for this much troubled them; It went ill with them when Christ was with them, and they thought it would have been worse with them when he was gone, and he doth encourage them therefore by these Arguments.
First, He saith, I am but going to my Fathers house, and the 28. verse of this Chapter, he saith, ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you, If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father, for my Father is greater then I.
Againe secondly, he would not have them troubled because of his departure; because saith he, I do not intend to go to my Father alone, but intend for to have all you with me, though you shall not go with me now. Though you shall not die with me now, though you shall not go to Heaven with me now, yet you shall be with me another day, In my Fathers house there are many mansions, I do not intend to go to heaven alone, for there is room for you as well as for me, and room for every beleever in the world. Heaven first is a Mansion, a place which notes a duration of Saints in Heaven, Heaven is not a moveable place, but a Mansion, an abiding place.
Againe, there are many Mansions in Heaven, there is room enough for Christ, for his eleven Apostles, and room enough for all the Beleevers in the world, it notes the largenesse and amplitude of heaven, Heb. 11. 12. therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead so many as the stars of the skie in multitude, and as the sand, which is by the sea shore innumerable: And besides these there is an innumerable company of Angels, Heb. 12. 22. To this add Rev. 7. 9. A great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds, people and tongues, You have here also the duration and continuance implied: The word is here, not our tent or tabernacle, but our Mansion.
Thirdly, form the certainty of it: It is no poeticall fiction; these are no hyperbolicall expressions, as it followes in the Text, If it were not so, I would have told you. Christ doth not speake more then there is; if there had been no such thing, Christ would not have said so much; as if he should say, I do not feed you with the false hopes of an Utopian happinesse, as the Devill deals by his, whom he brings into a fools paradise.
Fourthly, from the end: Say the Disciples, but Lord, thou art going to thy Fathers house, and what shall become of us? therefore Christ comforts them and saith, I go to prepare a place for you. As if he should have said, I go to Heaven, to make ready Heaven for you against you die, as Grossi•• observes, that the phrase is borrowed from a company of Travellers which send one man before as a harbinger to provide the Inne, and take up rooms, and make provision ready for them against they come, so Jesus Christ is gone to Heaven that he might be as a harbinger to take up Heaven for you, to take up room for you in Heaven.
Fifthly, He comforts them by a promise of his comming againe, verse 3. And if I goe and prepare a place for you, I will come againe.
Sixthly, By this, that he will receive us to himselfe, verse 3. And receive you unto my selfe, that where I am, there ye may be also, and we shall ever be with the Lord.
I shall explaine the Phrases when I come to handle them as they lie in order.
This Text contains in it, the most materiall and fundamentall points of all the Doctrine of Christianity, as,
[Doct. 1] First, the great doctrine of Christs bodily ascension into Heaven, If I go.
[Doct. 2] Secondly, the fruit and benefit of Christs going into Heaven, I go to prepare a place for you.
[Doct. 3] Thirdly, here is the great Doctrine of Christs second comming to judge the quick and the dead, but I come againe.
[Doct. 4] Fourthly, here is the great Doctrine of the Resurrection of the body, Christ shall come to receive them again from the dead, and all the Elect with them.
[Doct. 5] Fifthly, here is the great Doctrine of that everlasting Communion that the Saints shal have with Christ in Heaven, that where I am, there ye may be also.
The first clause, If I go, its a good note that Calvin hath on these words, this conditionall Particle ought to be resolved into an Adverb of time, If I go; It is not a note of dubitation, if Christ should go to heaven or no, or a supposition, peradventure he may go to Heaven, peradventure not, but it serves for limitation of time when Christ doth go to Heaven. A like phrase you have, John 12 32. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he spake of what death he should die, if he be lifted on the Crosse, he should save many by his death. The word if, doth not note a dubitation or a supposition, it may be, or it may not be, but it notes an Adverb of time, when I am lifted up, and so in my Text, And if I goe and prepare a place for you, I will come againe, and receive you unto my selfe, that where I am, there ye may be also. There is no difficulty in the first expression, If I go and prepare a place for you, from which words there are two observations, If I go.
First, that Christs Ascension or going up to Heaven, is a ground of great comfort and great advantage to all his people while they dwell here upon the earth.
The second observation, is, from the end and benefit of his going up to Heaven, If I go, I go to prepare a place for you; That the great end of Jesus Christs going bodily to Heaven, is to prepare Heaven for all the Elect.
[Doct. 1] The first Doctrine, That Christs Ascension or going up to Heaven, is a ground of comfort and great advantage to all Gods people whilst they dwell here upon the earth.
In the handling of this point there are three particulars.
First, I shall prove it to you by Scripture, that Christ is bodily gone into Heaven, I prove it by these five arguments in Scripture.
First, by the Types that were before the Law, Enoch was translated and taken up bodily into Heaven, where now he is. Gen. 5. 24. And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him, this is confirmed by the Apostle, Heb. 11. 5. By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him, for before his translation he had this testimony, That he pleased God. And under the Law, Elijah was taken up in a fiery Chariot, 2 King. 2. 11. And it came to passe, as they still went on and talked, that behold, there appeared a Chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlewind into Heaven. So Christ makes a third under the Gospell, taken up to Heaven also.
Second Argument to prove this Doctrine, is by Prophesies in the old Testament, that Jesus Christ was to be taken up into Heaven bodily, three prophesies, one in the 68 Psalm, there David prophesi’d of Christ in the 18. verse, Thou hast ascended on high, &c. Now we should not have known so full that this had reference to Jesus Christs Ascension, if Paul had not expounded this, in Heb. 4. and the 14. verse, Seeing then that we have a great high Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. The Prophesies that were long before Christ was born, did declare this, that Jesus Christ should ascend up into Heaven, and in the 110. Psa. 7. verse, He shall drink of the brook in the way, therefore shall he lift up the head; what is that? It is spoken of Christ, I will set him upon my right hand, first hee shall drink of the brook by the way, he shall crie, I thirst upon the Crosse, he shall die and be crucified, then afterwards he shall lift up his head, he shall rise againe and ascend up into Heaven, a full Prophecie in Daniel 7. 13, 14. I saw in the night Visions, and behold, One like the Son of man, came with the Clouds of Heaven, and came to the ancient of daies, and they brought him neer before him. And there was given him dominion and glory and a Kingdome, that all people, Nations and Languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not passe away, and his Kingdome, that which shall not be destroied. This cannot be spoken of Christs comming to judgement, but then the Text saith, he shall deliver them to his Father, 1 Cor. 15. But the comming of Christ in the clouds here, is Christs going up into Heaven, as it is in the 1. Acts verse. 9. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a Cloud received him out of their sight. And thus you have it by Prophesies confirmed.
Thirdly, the Doctrine of Christs going up to Heaven, is confirmed to you by Christs promises; Christ upon the earth did promise that he would go up to Heaven, John 6. 62. What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? In John 20. 17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father; and to your Father, and to my God, and your God. Christ did promise that he would ascend, John 16. 5, 7. But now I go my way to him that sent me, and none of you asked me, whither goest thou? Neverthelesse, I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send him unto you. John 16. 16. A little while, and ye shall not see me, and again a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. I could quote you many Scriptures, that Christ promised he would go away.
Fourthly, the Doctrine of Christs going up to heaven, is confirmed by the Testimony of the Apostles, who were eie-witnesses of Christs Ascension. Gerrard notes, saying, Jesus Christ did rise invisible, none saw him Rise, the Scripture telleth you that the Souldiers that watched were asleep, yet Christ gathereth all his eleven Apostles that they might be eie-witnesses of his ascension, that they saw him ascend to Heaven, Acts 1. 9, 10. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld he was taken up, and a Cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly towards heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparell; and so the Apostle Peter, in 1 Pet. 3. 22. Who is gone into Heaven, and is on the right hand of God, Angels and Authorities, and Powers, being subject unto him. So Paul tels you in Ephesians 4. 10. He that descended, is the same also that ascended up far above all Heavens, that he might fill all things. So in Hebrewes 9. the Author of that book tels you, that Jesus Christ is not gone into the holy place, but is gone into Heaven it selfe, In verse 24. For Christ is not entred into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into Heaven it selfe, now to appeare in the presence of God for us. 1 Tim. 3. 16. And without controversy great is the mystery of Godlinesse, God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of Angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. And in Mark 16. 19. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into Heaven, and sate on the right hand of God. I take the more pains to prove this, because of what ancient Heresies there have been to overthrow this great comfortable doctrin of Christs going bodily into heaven, having our flesh in heaven this very day.
Fifthly, it may be proved by the concurrent Testimonies of the Angels, who were witnesses of this truth, Acts 1. 10. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparell. These two men were Angels, the Angels did give in their concurrent Testimonies, that Jesus Christ did goe into Heaven, and the same Jesus Christ that did go shall come againe. Beloved, I know not any one point in all the Bible, that is so proved and strengthened, as Christs personall and bodily going up to Heaven: and thus much for the strengthning of you in the proof of the point. I lay that for the foundation, because if the proof of it be not well grounded, then the fruit of it will not be well regarded.
Secondly, what is the reason that Christ must have his body and soul go up to heaven.
First, Christ in his bodilie presence must goe to Heaven, lest his Disciples should be taken too much with his bodily presence, and never look after the Communication of his Spirit. Therefore they ask Christ, Lord, when wilt thou restore the Kingdome to Israel? They expected that Christ would take away the Roman Emperour which was a heathen, and expected that he would be King himselfe, Acts 1. 6. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore againe the Kingdome to Israel? It is for this reason say Interpreters, because the Disciples should not dote on Jesus Christ, as to look on him as a temporall King, and look on him for a temporall Kingdome, but that they might look after the Kingdome where he is, therefore Paul hath a passage in 2 Cor. 5. 16. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh, yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth, know we him no more. As if he should say, it may bee those that lived in Christs time, that knew him according to the flesh as a lovelie person; but saith Paul, we know him in a spirituall way, to look after heaven by Christ to look after salvation by Christ.
Secondly, Christ must be taken up into Heaven in his body to make a compensation and a recompence to himselfe, for his sufferings in his body, Phil. 2. 8, 9. And being found in fashion as a Man, he humbled himselfe, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Crosse. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a Name which is above every Name. Therefore God did exalt Christ and raise him from the dead, and bring him to Heaven, because he obeied to the death of the Crosse, and took on him the form of a servant, Psal. 110. last verse, He shall drink of the brook in the way, thersfore shall he lift up the Head. Because thou diedst and sufferedst, therefore thou shalt lift up thy head, therefore thou shalt ascend up to Heaven, Heb. 2. 9. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower then the Angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God should tast death for every man. For suffering of death hee was crowned with Glory and Honour, and translated bodily into Heaven, that is a second Argument.
Thirdly, Christ was taken up bodily to heaven, it was manifest to the world, that Christ was God as well as man, to manifest the God-head of Jesus Christ, therefore taken up bodily to heaven, Eph. 4. 9, 10. Now that he ascended, what is it, but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended, is the same also that ascended up far above all Heavens, that he might fill all things. There the Apostle proves that Christ going up to Heaven, it was an Argument that Christ came down from heaven; So in John 6. 62. What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? That shews that Christ was in Heaven before, therefore must he be God Coequall and Coeternall with God the Father, and thus you have the second point dispatched to you, shewing the reasons why Jesus Christ must go bodily into Heaven.
The third point is, I, but what benefit and comfort is that to us, that Jesus Christ is now bodily in Heaven? what comfort was this to the Disciples, that Jesus Christ should leave them, that he must go from them, unto his Fathers house? There are seven particulars that it is great ground of comfort to all the people of God that Jesus Christ is gone bodily to heaven.
The first ground of comfort is this, Christs going to heaven bodily, it assures you of Christs full Triumph and compleat conquest over all your spirituall Enemies; This the Apostle lays down as a ground of comfort upon Christ Ascension, Eph. 4. 8. Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. That is, the Devill and sin that carried you captive; Christ by his going up to heaven hath led them captive, that is, hath led your spirituall enemies that carried you captive: Christ alluded to the custome among the Romans, when the Roman Conquerour rode to the Capitol of Rome to rejoyce in his victory over his enemies, the Conquerour did use to tie his Captives to the Chariots wheels; So Christ did carry his captives by his wheeles as it were, he led captivity captive; Colos. 2. 15. And having spoyled Principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, Triumphing over them in it. So that beloved here is one great comfort, that Christ by going up to heaven doth manifest and declare to all the world that he hath overcome the Grave, Death, Devill, and Sinne.
[ 2] Secondly, Christs going bodily to heaven, It is a pledge to you that Christ will one day bring your bodys to heaven I go to heaven that I may receive you to my self, that you may be bodily in heaven where Christ is. In Joh. 14. 19. Yet a little while, & the world seeth me no more, but ye see me, because I live, ye shall live also. As if he should say, wel, I must leave you, and I must goe to Heaven before you, but because I live in heaven, and live there bodily you shal also live with me in heaven with your bodies, Tertullian doth make this use of it to comfort the Christians in his dayes, saith hee, Jesus Christ did carry our flesh into heaven with him, and he is of our flesh and of our bone; Now saith Tertullian, Jesus Christ hath carried flesh into heaven, and this is a good pledge unto us that our flesh shall be in heaven where Christ is also. Therefore O flesh and bloud doe thou rejoyce, that hast possest heaven in Christ already. And Christ would be imperfect in heaven, should not the bodies of beleevers come there also, because he lives in heaven, you shall live there also.
Thirdly, Christs going bodily to heaven, it is a ground of comfort to you in this, because Christ is gone bodily into heaven, to performe and accomplish his Sacerdotall Office, that is as a high Preist, hee is now in heaven to performe the Office of a high Priest to make intercession to God his Father in your behalfe, that your sinnes might be pardoned, that your soules might bee saved, that your bodies might he raised, and received into heaven with him in Glory, Heb. 9. 24. For Christ is not entred into the Holy places made with hands which are the Figures of the true, but into heaven it selfe now to appeare in the presence of God for us. Christ is entred into the very heavens, that he might appeare before God for us, so in Heb. 7. 26. For such an high Priest became us who is holy, harmelesse, undefiled separate from sinners, and made higher then the heavens. It became us to have a high Priest in Heaven. Therefore observe, though it was a great benefit to the Disciples to have Christs bodily presence▪ yet Jesus Christ could never have fulfiled the office of the Priest-hood to make intercession for all the Elect, if Christ had not gone bodily into heaven. Will you observe one Text in Heb. 8▪ 4. For if he were on earth hee should not be a priest, seeing there are Priests that offer gifts according to the Law. Christ must goe to heaven and there hee is a Priest; now if hee were upon the earth hee could not be a Priest for us, therefore we have great advantage by CHRISTS going into heaven. O beloved, then looke on this as a great comfort, that our Lord Jesus Christ is now in heaven in his body, flesh and bloud, appearing before God, making Intercession for all his people; this was typified out under the Law, Exod. 28. 9, 10, 11, and 12. verses. And thou shalt take two Onix stones, & grave them on the names of the children of Israel. Six of their Names on one stone, and the other six Names of the rest on the other stone, according to their Birth. With the work of an ingraver in stone, like the ingravings of a signet shalt thou ingrave the two stones, with the names of the children of Israel, thou shalt make them to be set in Ouches of Gold. And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the Ephod, for stones of memoriall unto the children of Israel: And Aaron shall beare their names before the Lord, upon his two shoulders for a memoriall. This is a type of Jesus Christ our high Priest, who is gone into that which is so in it selfe, the Holy of Holiest and there he hath not onely the names of al the elect of God throughout the world on his breast, but hath them in his heart, and there he makes intercession for them to his father. This is a third ground of comfort that they have of Christs going bodily into heaven.
A Fourth ground of comfort you have by Christs going into Heaven is this, That Jesus Christ is gone into heaven to convey to you a fuller communication of the gifts and graces of his spirit, which was bestowed on his people whilest he was upon the Earth, Ephes. 4 ver. 8. Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave giftes unto men. It is an allusion to the Roman custome, that when the conquerour rode in Triumph towards the Capitoll; he did not onely lead the Prisoners, by the Charet wheeles, but likewise scattered mony to the Spectators that saw him ride along in triumph: so the Lord Jesus Christ having by his Ascension spoiled death and the Devil; thus Jesus Christ doth cast his gifts unto men, dispenseth his graces in a greater measure into the hearts of his people; not that we are to run into the Soci•ian errour, because of this text they gather that before Christs Ascension into heaven there was no saving gift of the spirit, and they ground it on that text, Ioh. 7. ver. 38, 39. He that believeth on me as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the spirit, which they that beleeve on him should receive, For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified. The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus Christ was not yet glorified, but this Text is not to be taken simply, then it will follow that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had not the spirit, and then they could not bee in Heaven, but the meaning is, that the gifts of the Holy Ghost in that abundant measure was not given, because Christ was not yet ascended; Christ did reserve the full giving of the Holy Ghost to the time of his Ascension, and untill he was glorified; therefore the Apostles soon after his ascension received the Holy Ghost in a greater measure then was given to the people of old: and beloved, not onely gifts, to bring you to Heaven, but also Ministeriall gifts, to qualifie men fit for the Ministery, you are to looke on this also as the fruit of Ascension, Ephesians 4. 10, 11, 12. vers. He that descended, is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers; For the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministery, for the edifying of the body of Christ. So that you are to looke upon not onely your own Christian gifts, whereby God brings you to Heaven, but all Ministeriall gifts are the fruits of Christs going to heaven.
[ 5] Fifthly, Christ is gone to Heaven, It is to comfort us in this, that Christ being bodily in Heaven it might make thee holy and bold and fiducially confident when ever thou comest to God in prayer, when thou dost come to God in prayer, come to him as one that hath Jesus Christ at his Right hand in Heaven presenting thy prayers to God for thee, observeth it comfortable advice given, Heb. 4. 14, 16. Seeing then that we have a great high Priest, that is passed into the Heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession, Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtaine mercy and finde grace to help in time of need. Jesus Christ being in Heaven it should work a holy boldnesse in us to keep out fear and distrust when thou prayest; because we have an high Priest that is past into the highest Heavens, Jesus the Son of God. Who would not come boldly to the Court when he knows that the Kings Eldest Son is his friend, and is assured of his love, that he will intercede for him to his Father? Jesus Christ is the King of Heaven, the eldest Son, and he is bound by office to represent all our supplications and make Intercession for us.
[ 6] Sixthly, that Christ is gone bodily into Heaven, it may be of comfort, that yet he hath the same relation towards a Beleever, which he had to them whilest he was upon the Earth. When hee was on the Earth Christ did say, go tell my Brethren that I am to ascend, and after he was taken up into heaven, he cals them his brethren. Heb. 2. 11. For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren. Though Christ was crowned with glory and gone up to Heaven, yet he was not ashamed to call beleevers brethren; Now in Heaven Christ is thy God there, and Christ is thy Father there, Christ is thy Prince there, and Christ is thy friend there, and this may administer much comfort to thee that Jesus Christ retaines the same relation now hee is in Heaven, that he had with thee in the world; therefore Iob could speak in a vision, I know that my redeemer liveth, I know my Kinsman liveth, (for so the word signifieth) I know my kinsman liveth. Christ did call his Disciples Brothers when he was in the flesh, and so he calleth them brothers now he is in heaven. Suppose thou art a poor woman that dost marry a man that is mean and poor in the world, why suppose this man should come to the dignity of a King, it would be a great comfort to thee that thou who wast but a beggar art now become a Kings wife; so though thou art mean, in the world yet Jesus Christ doth preferre thee to be his brother.
[ 7] Seventhly and lastly, it may serve for comfort in this regard, that Christ is gone to Heaven for this very purpose, to prepare Heaven for thee; I goe to prepare a place for you Heb. 6, 20. Whither the foreruner is for us entred, even Jesus made an high Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Christ is our forerunner, gone to Heaven for us, Christ did not onely dye for us, but Christ did go to heaven for us, Heb. 10. 19, 20. Having therefore brethren, boldnesse to enter into the hol•est by the bloud of Iesus; By a new and living way which hee hath consecrated for us, through the vaile, that is to say, his flesh; That is, having hopes to come to enter into Heaven by the bloud of Christ, through Christs flesh as dying on the Crosse. And thus much be spoken for the Doctrinall part of this point, the point was this, That Christs Ascensionor going up bodily to Heaven is a ground of great comfort to Gods people whilest they live here upon the Earth.
I shall now draw out some instructions from some circumstances in Christs going to heaven. There are five circumstances from which you may gather some instruction.
First, from the time when Christ did leave the world and ascend up to goe to Heaven, if you read the Evangelists they will tell you it was abote the 33 year of his Age, he left this world and goeth up to Heaven. Learn thus much from thence, that if Christ would leave the world in the flower of his Age, a young man, then this should be fastened to the Meditation of you young men, that you should not have your hearts too much glued to the world, to hanker after a long life. Suppose God should take thee away now in the flower of thy age, bee willing and submissive, for God tooke Christ away so.
Secondly, you may learne some what from the place whence Christ did ascend, it is very observable: It was Mount Olivet, Acts 1. 12. Then returned they unto Ierusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Ierusalem a Sabbath days Iourney. Luke saith, it was from Bethany, Luke 2. 50, 51 And he led them out as far as to Bethany and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to passe while hee blessed them, hee was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. It was all one, but there is much of Gods minde in this, of all places in the world Christ did make choyce of Bethany by Mount Olivet to go up to heaven: Beloved, the reason was, because that was the place where Christ was taken when Judas came with the Scribes and Pharisees to apprehend him; from that place he was taken to be crucified, and seeing it was from that place, he would make choyce of that place from whence hee would take his rise to go up to Heaven 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉of〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Bethany in Hebrew, signifies a house of affliction; Christ made that which was the house of his affliction that Bethany to be the place of the translation of him into glory. I would give you thence to note, that God doth oftentimes make our sufferings to be Inlets to our glory. So it was with Christ, from Bethany hee was taken a Prisoner, and from that place hee would ascend up into Heaven, so if you suffer with him, you shall also bee glorified with him, you may be carried to Heaven sometime in ways of sharpe afflictions, therefore be not daunted at persecution, for the Lord makes Bethanics, the houses of our afflictions to have a trapdoore in them to let us into our Father Mansion.
Thirdly, from the circumstance in Christs ascension, that just as Christ did ascend, hee was speaking to his Disciples things that did appertaine to the Kingdome of God, and as he was blessing of them, he was taken up before their eyes. Acts 1. 9. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a Cloud received him out of their sight; Whilest he was blessing of his Disciples, and whilest he was speaking to them things appertaining to the Kingdome of God, hee was taken away. I would give you this note from thence, that when you come towards the time of your departure out of this world, make Christ your example; Christ as hee was going away, he spake of things appertaining to the Kingdome of God; so let your hearts be full fraught with Divine contemplation, do you leave good counsell behinde you when you come to dye, that so some body may say, these are the last words of a dying Friend. I might extend this example of Christ before his departure out of the world, unto Master of families, that when you; come towards your end, leave good counsel behind you; Let not your speech be filled about worldly affairs, but let them bee setled before, but leave good counsell with your children. Jacob when he was to die, he called all his children about him & gave good counsel unto them & blessed them. Likewise David 1 Chron. 28. 9. And thou Solomon my Son, know thou the God of thy Father, & serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing minde; for the Lord searcheth all Hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts, if thou seeke him, hee will be found of thee, but if thou forsake him, hee will cast thee off for ever. And thus wee see in the instances of Isaac, and many other Servants of God, Moses to Joshua when he was to dye, I, but especially take Christs example, that when you are to leave the world, you may have your minds possessed with nothing else but with things appertaining to the Kingdome of God, as Christ was.
[ 4] Fourthly, there is instruction to be gathered from the manner of Christs leaving the world, the manner was in Act. 1. 9. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, hee was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight, they saw him by degrees ascend into Heaven, this must not passe our Meditation, that a cloud should take Jesus Christ out of our sight, it is for a reliefe to your Meditations, that when you see the clouds, to thinke that these clouds that I see hover in the Heaven, they are Christs Chariot that did once carry him to Heaven, and they are the chariots that shall carry Jesus Christ to judg the world; O labour to have your Meditations on Divine things, he went up in a cloud, therfore the clouds are called Gods Chariots.
[ 5] Fifthly, note that circumstance in Christs ascension, that he would call all his Friends about him, it is expresly said all the eleven Apostles were with him, Acts 1. And an Interpreter doth think that there was an hundred and twenty with Jesus Christ, when he ascended up into Heaven, and he gathered it from Acts 1. 15. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the Disciples, and said, the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty. Now learned men doe thinke that there was an hundred and twenty that did see Jesus Christ ascend up to heaven, it is clear that there were the eleven Apostles there, and if this be so that Christ gathered about him, his friends, when hee was to leave the world, I gather thence, that when you are drawing towards your end and departing out of the world; Labour to have your friends about you that you might give them the advice of a dying friend, and it is a great blessing for to dye amongst your friends; Christ before that he would goe up to Heaven and leave the world, hee would have his friends about him, and then he was taken up from them.
I now come to draw out more practicall application of this point. If it be so that Christs going up bodily into Heaven bee a ground of such great comfort unto the people of God upon Earth, the use that I shall draw, it shall be to deduce four doctrinall and four practicall inferences from this point.
[ 1] First, this point confuteth the opinion of the Selucians and Hermiani that hold that Christs Body is not in heaven, but that it is in the beautifull and splendent body of the Sun, and they say, that is the reason the Sun doth cast such a glorious light, o’re that the Moon doth; and truly this old Heresie is again revived amongst us, and I have seen it in a booke called Divine Light, when indeed it is nothing but darknesse; but Christ is above the Sun, Christ is above all the visible Heavens: Christ sits in the third Heaven as Paul calls it; therefore if Christs Body bee gone into Heaven, they are in an errour.
[ 2] Secondly, this point will confute those who hold that Christs Body hath been on Earth, since his ascension into Heaven; some in Germany held, that they were the very Christ, and thus in King Henry the Eights days, there was one held that hee was the Christ, and his side was pierc’d and there was the print of Nayles seen in his hand, &c. I, but if men say, lo here is Christ, and there is Christ, believe them not, for Christ was never on the Earth since his ascension.
[ 3] Thirdly, that Christs Body is now in heaven, it overthrowes the Doctrine of the Popish Religion touching Transubstantiation, or the reall presence, that Jesus Christ is bodily present at the Sacrament, say the Papists, we bodily eat Christs flesh and drinke Christs bloud, that Christ is as bodily present at the Sacrament as hee was on the Crosse; If there were no other argument to overthrow this opinion but this, that the body of Christ is now in Heaven, it were enough, then that opinion of Transubstatiation is hereby confuted, Christs body cannot be in Heaven, and on the earth both at one time.
[ 4] Fourthly, the ascension of Christ, it overthrowes the opinion of the Carpacratiami that hold, that onely his soule did goe to heaven, and his body perished as others; and this cannot be, for the Disciples said that they saw Christ ascend, and this must bee his body, for they could not see his soule, for the soule is a spirit. Now you see the reason why I spent so much time in the morning in giving you many Texts of Scripture to prove this point: because there are so many Hereticks that doe oppugne this Doctrine of CHRISTS Ascension. I now come to give you three or four practical deductions.
[ 1] First, is Christs body now in heaven? then I infer; O thou that canst lay a well-grounded clayme for an interest in Jesus Christ: O be not thou afraid to dye, because thy Christ is in heaven, and when thou diest, death is but a Trap-doore to let thee into endlesse joy where Christ is, why should wee bee as children to looke on death as a Bugheare, but looke upon death as being a passage unto thy fathers house, as being a Trap-doore to let thee in where Jesus Christ is, Gen. 45. 25▪ 27. And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the Land of Canaan, unto Jacob their father, and they told him all the words of Joseph which hee had said unto them, and when hee saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. Did Jacob rejoyce to see a waggon or a chariot that would carry him into Aegypt to see his Son Ioseph, and wilt not thou rejoyce to think that death is a chariot to carry thee to Jesus Christ, to carry thee to heaven? O therefore let not thy heart bee troubled to dye, because death is but a chariot to carry thee to heaven? Is Christ gone into heaven?
Then secondly, labour thou whilest thou livest on the earth to ascend to Christ in divine and holy Ejaculations and Meditations. Is Christ in heaven? then why should not thy heart be where thy head is, why shouldest thou bee grovelling on the earth seeing thy Christ is now in heaven? It is a speech of Christ, Canticles 3. 6. Who is this that cometh out of the wildernesse like Pillars of smoke perfumed with Myrrhe and Frankincense, with all powders of the Merchant? Thou shouldest ascend up to Christ though thou beest in trouble in the Wildernesse of this world; O ascend up to Christ in Holy Meditations; this use the Apostle makes of it, Colos. 3. 1. If yee then bee risen with Christ, seeke those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right Hand of God. The argument is, where Christ sits at the right Hand of God, set your affections there: and so in Phil. 3. 20. For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also wee look for the Saviour, the Lord Iesus Christ. Christ is in heaven, there•ore our conversation must bee where our head is. It is a notable Text, Mat. 24. 28. For wheresoever the Carkase is, there will the Eagles be gathered together. That Christ is in heaven it should make you ascend in your hearts heavenward; It is true, there are some that wrest these words, and give this sense of them, that they make the carkase to be the Jewes, and the Eagles to be the Romans, because the Romans did use the Eagle in their Banner and Ensigne of War, therefore they say, where the Jewes were the Romans should come▪ though this was a truth, yet not the scope of the Text, it is generally overthrown by most Interpreters; but Gerrard doth chiefly referre these words to the day of judgement, where the carkase is thither will the Eagles resort, that is, where Jesus Christ is in heaven, as the Eagles doe follow after the carkase to feed upon that, so the people of God shall be gathered about Jesus Christ, and this I doe confesse is the chiefe scope of the place, and doe beleeve it is the chiefe intendment of the holy Ghost: but Gerrard hee makes another use of it too, and referres it to the power and efficacy of the Gospell in this life; Christ is now in heaven, saith Gerrard▪ and the Gospel shal be so powerful on men in the world, that it shal make men as eager to come after Christ into heaven as the Eagle is after the prey.
[ 3] Thirdly, I inferre hence, that before you presume to apply the benefits and the comforts of Christs ascension into heaven: labour to feele in your own hearts the efficacy of Christs Death and ascension, every man applies the benefit of Christs Death and Resurrection, and Christs ascension before they find the efficacy of his Death, & the efficacy of his resurrection. It is the Apostles word, saith he, I labor to find the power of his resurrction; so do you labor to find the power of his Death and the power of his ascension, before you find the comfort of it; It is to make thee lesse Earthly-minded, more passionately eager, and importunatly earnest after the Lord Iesus Christ: dost thou feele the power of the ascension to make thee more heavenly minded, and lesse earthly minded; O labour to feele the efficacy and power of it, else I might say to you as Iacob said to his mother in Genesis 28. 12. My father peradveuture will feele mee, and I shall seeme to him as a deceiver, and I shall bring a curse and not a blessing. Nay, without peradventure God will feele and try whether you are the men or no that have right to the blessing; that shall have any reall advantage and benefit by Christs Death, by Christs ascension. God will try whether you doe not seek to deceive your Souls and deceive God himselfe; if so, you will rather have a curse then a blessing, if you seeke to apply the comfort of Christs ascension, before you feele the efficacy of it on your own hearts.
[Answ. 1] First, Christ went to heaven visibly, in Act. 1. It was no transient glance of the Eye, but they stedfastly beheld Jesus Christ, they saw him when he went away. Again,
[ 2] Secondly, Christ went to heaven bodily: therefore those doe erre that hold that onely his soule did go to heaven, and his body perished as other do.
[ 3] Thirdly, hee went to heaven locally, hee ascended locally, there are some men that hold, that every place is heaven where God is, that is a truth; but heaven is a distinct place from the Earth and Hell, Christ had a mutation of place from the Earth to the third Heaven, therefore saith hee, the earth shall hold me no more.
[ 4] Fourthly, hee did ascend into heaven powerfully; Indeed other men went to heaven bodily, not by their own strength, but it was by a borrowed strength▪ Elias had a fiery chariot to carry him to heaven, but Christ had none, for he went to heaven by his own strength.
[ 5] Lastly, Christ went to heaven eminently and singly; There are three bodies in heaven, there is the bodie of Enoch, the body of Elias, and the body of Christ, all else in heaven are onely Saints and Angels; Enoch went to heaven bodily as a type of Christs ascension before the Law, and Elias unde the Law and Christ under the Gospell. Divines say, that this shewes there was salvation by Christ before the Law▪ and salvation by Christ under the Law, and salvation by Christ in the time of the Gospell, but there is difference between their going to heaven,
[ 1] First, Enoch and Elias went to heaven, but they did not die and rise from the dead, and then ascend into heaven, but first Christ dyed, and then Christ was raised out of the Grave, and then within forty daies hee did ascend into heaven, there was one difference. Again, they did not ascend to heaven by their own strength, but by the power of God, they did ascend into heaven, but we have got no good by their ascension, no benefit nor merit accrues unto us by their being in heaven, but there is great benefit redounding to us by Christs being in heaven, for saith Christ, I goe to Heaven to prepare a place for you.
Again, Enoch went to heaven, but he could not give the spirit, so Elias went to heaven but hee could not give the spirit; I, but our Lord Iesus Christ hee is gone bodily into heaven, hee hath ascended up on high, and hath given gifts unto men.
Again, they went to heaven, saith Polanus, onely as Citizens of heaven; but Christ went to heaven as the Lord of heaven, who is there in his body and in his person, and these are the short and transient hints that I have given you on the first part of my Text.
I come now to the second thing in the Text, to the benefit that believers have by Christs going bodily into heaven; I go to prepare a place for you.
[Doct. 2] The observation is this; the fruit and benefit that all the Elect of God have by Christs going into heaven, is to prepare a place for them there, I go to prepare a place for you. Now in the handling of this Doctrine there are three particulars.
[ 1] First, I shal shew you in what sense Christs going bodily into heaven prepares heaven for believers,
[ 2] Secondly, I shall shew you how can this scripture say, that by Christs Ascension heaven was prepared for us, when other Scriptures say, that heaven was prepared for us, from the beginning of the world.
[ 3] Thirdly, whether did the Patriarks and righteous holy men of God, that lived before Christs ascension goe into heaven, whither went they when they dyed; therefore the Church of Rome gather from this Text, that before Christ went to heaven, there was none went into heaven, but all went into a place called Limbus Patrum.
[ 1] First, in what sense may it bee said, that Christ by his going into heaven prepares a place for believers there? I answer in these three regards Christ by going into heaven prepares a place there.
First, By way of Representation, Christ is not gone to heaven as other men, as a single and a private person; but Christ is gone into heaven as a common and a publique person; Christ is gone up to heaven with flesh and blood, and with our natures hee is gone to heaven, and hee is gone there as a Representer of all the Elect; Jesus Christ is gone to heaven representing the persons of the Elect of God upon the earth. Hence it is that you have a passage, Eph. 2. 6. And hath raised us up together in heavenly places into Jesus Christ. Wee are not in heavenly places, wee are in earthly places, but we doe sit in heaven; because Christ is now in heaven, hee being gone to heaven as a common and a publique person, a Representer of all the elect, Heb. 6. 20. Whither the forerunner is for us entred, even Jesus, made an high Priest for ever after the order of Melchesodec. Hee did not goe there for himselfe, but for us. Christ did dye as a publique person representing all the elect of God, and Christ did goe to heaven as a publique person, and hath taken possession of heaven in our stead; Christ keepes our inheritance there, saith Grotius, Christ is said to prepare a place for us in heaven, just as a company of Travellers, when they are going a journey; they send one man before to be their harbinger to take up lodging in the Inne, and make provision for them against they come to the Inne, our Lord Jesus Christ is gone to heaven before to prepare a place for the elect there.
Secondly, Christ prepares a place for the elect by way of intercession, Heb. 9. 24. For Christ is not entred into the holy places made with hands, which are the Figures of the true, but into heaven it selfe, now to appeare in the presence of God for us. That as the Priest under the Law, when hee went to the holy places hee had the names of all the Tribes on his breast, so the Lord Jesus Christ our great high Priest, having the Names of all the elect not onely on his breast but in his heart, prayeth to his Father that we might come there, and this Intercession is another way that heaven is prepared for the elect.
Thirdly, Christ is said to prepare heaven for us by way of Operation in us, hee prepares heaven for us by preparing us for heaven, and this is the sence that Austin gives of these words. Jesus Christ prepares a Mansion for us in heaven, when hee prepares us the Inhababitants for heaven, here is the great evidence for heaven: are your hearts prepared? then you may bee assured that heaven is prepared for you, Col. 1. 12, 13, 14. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in Light; who hath delivered us from the power of darknesse and translated us into the Kingdome of his deare Son. In whom wee have Redemption, through his blood, even the forgivenesse of sins. An unconverted man is not a meet man for heaven, now when Christ makes you meet for heaven, hee then prepares a place for thee, 1 Peter 1. 3, 4, 5. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Iesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the Resurrection of Iesus from the Dead, to an Inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you▪ Who are kept by the power of God through Faith unto Salvation, ready to bee revealed in the last time. So that beloved if you be kept for heaven, and made meet for heaven, that is a demonstration that heaven is prepared for you.
I now come to the second Quere, which is this: how can this scripture say that by Christs ascension Heaven is prepared for us, when other Scriptures say that heaven was prepared for us from the beginning of the world? Mat. 25. 34. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand; Come ye blessed of my father, inherit the Kingdome prepared for you from the foundation of the world: Now if a Kingdome was prepared for them from the beginning of the world, how doth this Scripture appropriate a preparing of the Kingdome of Heaven onely from the ascension of Christ? Divines do answer, that you must distinguish between the decrees of God, and the clear manifestation and full execution of those decrees. Now if you respect the decrees of God, then the Scripture is true, that the Kingdome of heaven is prepared from the beginning of the world, for the decree and purpose of God was, before the world was, that the elect should have heaven as an Inheritance, but if you expect the clear manifestation of it, then it was not till Jesus Christ Ascended, and the distinction this Scripture allows of, especially in the point of Justification, in this point the Scripture doth clear this distinction, Heb. 9. 8. The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first Tabernacle was yet standing. The meaning is this, that the way to Heaven it was not manifest to the Jewes whilest their Tabernacle stood, that is, whilest their Leviticall Ceremonies were in use, the way to heaven was not manifest, the godly went to heaven before Christs time, but it was not manifested, for the common sort of the Jews did not understand that by Jesus Christs Passion and Ascension they must come to heaven; therefore the Apostle saith, the way to the holiest of all was not yet manifested whilest their first Tabernacle stood; So my Text is true that heaven was prepared for believers by the Lord Jesus Christ his ascension.
The third Quere is this, but you will say, if Christ by his ascension into heaven did prepare heaven for believers; then what became of all the people of God and holy men of God under the old Testament? whither went they?
The Jesuites raise the difficulty from the Text. They say that before Christ ascended none did goe to heaven, therfore they make Abraham, Isaac, and Iacob, with all the Patriarkes and all the holy men of God, to be in the place called Limbus Patrum, which was for the good men till Christs ascension; Then there is Limbus Infantum, a place of receipt of Infants. Then there is Purgatory for men guilty of grosse sins, heaven and hell they concurre in to be a truth; Limbus Patrum, say they, was the place to receive all the good men till Christs ascension, and then Christ tooke them all into heaven; Protestant Divines do take a deale of paines to vindicate this Text.
If you will aske me what is become of the Patriarkes and all good men of old before Christs going into heaven, how can they come to heaven if heaven be prepared by Christs ascension?
[ 1] First, I may say that of Christs ascension, as Gerrard doth of Christs Passion;* the Death of Christ it was availeable before it was in being, so I may say of Christs Ascension, that it was availeable before it was in being. Gerrard hee hath another passage, that the benefits wee have by Christ, they are not onely to bee restrained to ages that are to come after Christ, but to looke backward to all ages before Christ. Revel. 5. 9. And they sung a new Song, saying; Thou art worthy to take the Booke and to open the Seales thereof, for thou wast slaine, and hast redeemed us to God by thy Blood, out of every Kindred, and Tongue, and People, and Nation. Not onely the Lambe slain decretively in Gods decree, nor onely is the Lambe slaine Typically in the ceremoniall Sacrifices, but also vertually, that there was vertue in Jesus Christ, that all the Godly Jewes had vertue by CHRISTS death; there is my first Answer.
[ 2] Secondly, observe this; that the Scripture doth not say that Christ by going up to heaven did open heaven for us, he being our Mediator sitting at Gods right hand in heaven, heaven was opened before, but not so fully adorned as it was by Christs ascension, Heb. 9. 8. The holy Ghosts this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all, was not yet made manifest, whilest the Tabernacle was yet standing. The Grecians doe observe, that Christ doth not use a word that signifies to open a thing that is shut, but to open clear, and manifest a thing that is obscure, it was open before.
[ 3] Thirdly, against the Jesuits conceit of Limbus Patrum there are cleare passages in the Scripture and undenyable reasons drawn from the Scripture that doth prove beleevers under the old Testament went to heaven before CHRISTS ascension; As in Luke 16. 22. And it came to passe that the begger dyed, and was carried by the Angels into Abrahams Bosome: the Rich man also dyed, and was buried. Hee lived two thousand years and more before Christ was borne, heaven is called Abrahams Bosome, and the elect that dyed are said to goe into Abrahams Bosome, and Eliah and Enoch are in heaven Heb. 11. 5. By Faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death and was not found, because God had translated him. in the 16 verse. but now they desired a better Countrey, that is heavenly, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for hee hath prepared for them a City. Hee is ashamed to bee their God, therefore they have a City prepared for them by God, that likewise, Lazarus was said to be carried by Angels into Abrahams Bosome, this was before Christ dyed: then frequent Scriptures there are, touching Christs transfiguration, that when Christ was taken up, that hee saw Moses and Elias, from thence Divines gather that they must bee in Heaven. There are foure undeniable Reasons wil prove that the godly before Christs Ascension they went to Heaven.
First, it appears by this, because it is said, that those that were carried to heaven they were carried to Heaven by the Angels, the Angels carried Lazarus into Abrahams Bosome; now certainly Angels are not in Limbus Partum, Luk. 16. 22. Againe if the Beleevers of old should not goe into Heaven, the Death and Merits of Christ would bee extenuated Heb. 13. 8. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day and for ever. Hee was the same yesterday, that is, before he was borne hee was of use then, as well as to after time.
Againe, if the Soules of wicked men bee in Hell before Christs time, then the Soules of Godly men must bee in Heaven before Christs time, that must clearly follow by the Rule of contraries; now that wicked men went to Hell is cleare, Jude 7. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to Fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an examples suffering the vengeance of eternall Fire. They went to Hell before Christs time, therefore it must follow clearly that the elect must go to Heaven before Christs time.
[ 4] Fourthly, there is the very same reason why Believers should goe to Heaven before Christs Ascension, as there is why they should goe to heaven after Christs Ascension, because Beleevers under the old Testament, they had the same Gospell preached to them as now wee have, and they had the same Spirit, the same Faith, and under the same Covenant, and therefore why must not they go to the same place? I shall clearly prove this unto you. First▪ they had the same Spirit and the same Faith that we have, and this is laid down by the Apostle, in 2 Cor. 4. 13. We having the same Spirit of Faith, according as it is written, I beleeved and therefore have I spoken, wee also beleeve and therefore speak; and they with us had the same justifying Faith. Their circumcision was a signe of righteousnesse by Faith. And then againe, they had the same Gospel that we have, Heb. 4. 2. For unto us was the same Gospell Preached, as well as unto them: but the word Preached did not profit them, not being mixt with Faith in them that heard it. The same Gospell, onely theirs is darke, for the ceremoniall Law was Gospell, meerely Types and Shadowes of Christ to come, Shadows of Salvation by Christs Bloud; Nay, they had the same Christ as wee have, 1 Cor. 104. And did all drinke the same spirituall drinke, for they dranke of that spirituall Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. And in the Wildernesse it is said, let not us tempt Christ as they also tempted him, they sinned against Christ in the Wildernesse, and they enjoyed Christ in the Wildernesse: so that they had the same Christ as wee have; Againe, they are under the same covenant that wee are, Jeremiah 31. It is the same covenant with ours in Hebrews 8. Is there not then the same reason why Beleevers under the old Testament should goe to the same place as Beleevers under the new? for they had the same Spirit, the same Faith, the same Gospell, the same Christ, and under the same covenant, therefore they must needs goe to the same place, though heaven be prepared by Christs Ascension, yet heaven was opened before, yet not so manifested before, as since Christ dyed, rose and went up to Heaven.
[Use.] I now come to the Application, the use is to draw out a few practicall inferences from this Doctrine, which are four. If it be so, that Jesus Christ by his going into Heaven hath prepared a place for the elect there, then learn by way of recompense, by way of compensation and gratification to Jesus Christ; O prepare thou a heart for Christ who hath prepared a heaven for thee. Shall Christ go to heaven to prepare a place for thee, and wilt thou afford Christ no corner in thy heart? thou lettest thy lusts sit on the Throne of thy heart, yet you doe not give Christ any roome there. We read in Revel. 19. 7. Let us be glad and rejoyce, and give honour to him, for the Marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herselfe ready. O bee thou as the Bride, make thy selfe ready for the Marriage day, the betrothing day was when Christ went up to heaven, thy Marriage day is thy dying day; O against the Marriage day of the Lambe, doe thou who art his Bride make thy selfe ready, doe thou prepare a heart for Christ, who hath prepared heaven for thee. Origen hath a good passage on Luke 22. 12. And hee shal shew you a large upper roome furnished, there make ready, though hee doth much abuse the scope of the Scripture. There were three properties of the Room wherein Christ are the possover, a large, upper, and a furnished Roome, hee makes this Allegory of it; I doe not give it to you as the sense of it, but take his glosse, that if thou wilt come to sup with Christ, thou must make thy heart as the upper Roome, a heart raised in Divine contemplation, and not onely an upper Roome, but a large Roome, a large Heart, a furnished Roome, a Heart adorned with grace; O do thou prepare a large Room, an upper Roome and a furnished Roome for Christ.
Secondly, if Christ be gone into heaven to prepare a place for the Elect, then we are rather gayners then losers by the want of Christs bodily presence, wee should bee lesse happy to have Christ upon the Earth, then now Christ is in heaven; for wee are greater gainers by Christs now being in heaven, then if hee were in person with us upon the Earth; Divines illustrate this: say they, the body of the Sun is fixt in the Firmament, and giveth light over all the world, now should the body of the Sun bee taken from the Firmament and bee upon the Earth amongst us, it would not bee of that availe to us as now it is, the Sun of Righteousnesse now hee is in the heavens, hee is of greater availe to us, then if he were upon the Earth; for if hee were on the Earth, all the World could not see him at once, so that we are greater gainers by Christs going up to Heaven, then if hee were in person here amongst us, as God saith in John 14. 28. Yee have heard how I said unto you, I goe away, and come againe unto you: If yee loved mee, ye would rejoyce, because I saed, I goe unto the Father, for my Father is greater then I. Truly▪ it was matter of joy and not of griefe that Christ left this world and went to heaven, because he went there to prepare a place for us. I would faine know whether Jacob would have been troubled for his Son Joseph, if Jacob had known this, that his Son was gone into Aegypt to prepare a place for him and all his brethren, against the famine: surely it would never have troubled him. Truely your Joseph, your Jesus, hee is gone to Heaven, to prepare a place for you there; therefore let it not trouble you, seeing you are more happy by Christs presence in heaven, then if you had his bodily presence upon the earth.
[ 3] Thirdly, if Christ be gone Bodily into Heaven, it is a ground of comfort to thee that though thou hast no place to put thy head here in this world, yet remember Christ is gone to prepare Heaven for thee. It may be many of you have poor cottages, smoaky houses; why for all that, lift up thy heart with joy, that Christ is gone to prepare a large place in heaven for thee. Valens the Arian Emperour, when hee did threaten Basill, and said, that neither by Sea nor Land he should be safe from his power, yet saith Basil for all the Emperours rage, I shall be either in Heaven or under Heaven. Why so, though thou mayest be driven to and fro, by Sea and Land, and having no abiding place of safety to put thy head in, yet maugre the malice of Men and Devils, thou shalt bee either in Heaven or under Heaven. A Cardinall threatned Luther with this, that there should not bee a place left for Luther in all the empire; O saith Luther smilingly. if Earth cannot keepe mee, yet Heaven shall. Beloved, beare up your hearts, that though thou mayest not have an abiding place on Earth, yet thou hast one prepared for thee in Heaven.
[ 4] Fourthly, is Christ gone into Heaven to prepare a place for Beleevers? then all Christlesse and gracelesse men have no benefit by the passion or Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ▪ Christ dyed, but not for thee; Christ rose again, but not for thee; Christ is gone up to Heaven but not for thee; he will prepare no place in Heaven for thee, therefore thy case is, as was spoken of Judas, Acts 1. 25. That hee may take part of this Ministery and Apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that hee might goe to his own place. It was to no place of Christs preparing, it was to a place prepared of old for condemnation; In the phrase of Jude, Tophet is prepared of old, it is a place prepared of an angry God, and not a place prepared by a Mediatour. This therefore should bee matter of astonishment to all Christlesse and Gracelesse men: what though Christ bee gone into Heaven? yet thou shalt never follow after him. What though Christ prepareth a place for all his Elect? yet hee prepareth none for thee, thy place is prepared by an angry God, thou goest to Hell, and not to a place prepared by Jesus Christ. And thus I have done with the second Doctrine, to wit, that the fruit and benefit that all the Elect of God hath by Christs going into Heaven, it is to prepare a place for them, I goe to prepare a place for you.
The third main Doctrine is the Doctrine of Christs coming againe, I goe and prepare a place for you, but I will come again. Christ may stay long, but hee will not stay ever, but Christ that said hee would goe away, also said, hee would come again. To explicate the phrase. I will come again, what is meant by Christs coming again? Beloved, there are foure sorts of Interpretations of these words, neither of which are true but the last.
[ 1] First by coming again some understand Christs first coming, so the Jewes understand it, (for some of them do study the Evangelists, though they study to confute it, they doe not beleeve that Christ is come) they make it of his coming in the flesh, John 4. it was the womans sence of the coming of Christ in the 25. verse. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ, when he is come, hee will tell us all things: why, he was come, but shee thought that hee had not been come; O saith Jesus Christ, I am hee, I am come already, so that the Jewes and the Samaritans did ever take the phrase of Christs coming not to Judge the world, but of the coming in the flesh.
[ 2] Secondly, it cannot be understood of the coming of Christ by his spirit, so some Interpreters doe understand the words, but I will come again, by my Spirit, and they make it agreeable to that phrase, loe I goe away, but I will bee with you to the end of the world? but Calvin rejects it, because the next words say, I will come againe, to receive you to my selfe.
[ 3] Thirdly, it cannot bee meant as the Millenaries understand it of Christs coming again to remaine a thousand yeares upon the Earth, and for that I shall give you severall demonstrations from Scripture when I come to handle it.
[ 4] Fourthly, by Christs coming againe it is to bee understood as Calvin and most Interpreters take it, of Christs coming to Judge the world, as if hee should say, I go to prepare Heaven for you, and I promise you to come again, that though your bodies die and rot in the Graves, yet I will come again and raise you up another day, and receive you unto my selfe; It is to bee understood of his last coming. And thus much for the explication of the phrase.
[Obser. 3] Christ doth here give them a promise of his coming to comfort their troubled hearts. From thence observe, that Christs coming again to judge the world is a Doctrine full of comfort to every Beleever whilest they are here upon the earth; for the proofe of this see 1 Thess. 4. 15. To the end, For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that wee which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleepe. For the Lord himselfe shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voyce of the Archangell, and with the Trumpe of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then wee which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the Ayre, and so shall wee ever bee with the Lord; Wherefore comfort one another with these words. In the handling of this there are four Queries to be answered.
[ 1] The first is by way of Objection, what comfort is this to us, that Christ should bid them they should not bee troubled, that hee might come againe, when between the making of this promise and this time promised it hath run above 1600 hundred years already.
Answer. First that Tract of time can neither interrupt the accomplishment of a promise, nor the comfort of a promise, it is comfortable that what is promised shall sooner or later come to passe, Daniel 10. 1. In the third year of Cyrus King of Persia, a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose Name was called Belteshazzar, and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long, and hee understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. It is a promise made by Christ to comfort you against all the troubles of the world, hee will come againe, and though the time bee long ere hee doth come, yet the time appointed will bee true, it is certaine, though it be long.
[ 2] Secondly, that the godly in ages before us could rejoyce in promises being made to them, though the accomplish•ment thereof was not fullfilled till many years after; and why should not the Disciples doe so then, and why should not wee doe soe now? I will give you two or three instances, John 8. 56. Your Father Abraham rejoyced to see my day, and hee saw it and was glad. The promise was made to Ahraham above a thousand years before he saw him, and yet he was glad, Heb. 11. 13. These all dyed in Faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afarre off, and were perswaded of them and embraced them. They did embrace the promises, though they were farre off in their accomplishment. An excellent Text you have in Isaiah 9. 6. For unto us a child is borne, unto us a Sonne is given, and the government shall bee upon his shoulders, &c. Behold, this is matter of joy, for to us a childe is borne, and unto us a Sonne is given, they might have said, Lord what is that to us? wee heare of garments rowled in blood, and of the confused noyse of Warriers, and dost thou tell us of that which shall not bee till many yeares after? and yet the Prophet doth thinke no fitter a promise to give them, then the the promise that a Virgin should conceive a Sonne. I mention it for this, that though promises were made long since, yet bear up your hearts, for that it will be sure and certain though it be long: and so much for the first particular.
The next particular is, I, but how doth it appeare that Christs coming to judge the world is a Doctrin so full of comfort to beleevers?
[ 1] First, it appears by the beleevers longing and looking for Christs coming to judge the world, it is the people of Gods property to long for the appearance of Christ, when it makes the heart of a Felix to tremble, it is a Doctrine of Great comfort to a Beleever, it is called the day of Redemption, and called by Peter the day of refreshing, and this made the Church say, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly, this shews that to the People of God there is no Doctrine so comfortable as the Doctrine of Christs coming to judge the world, Titus 1. 13. Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3. 12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire, shall bee dissolved, and the Elements shall melt with fervent heat, 2 Tim 4. 8. Henceforth there is laid up for mee a Crown of righteousnesse, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day, and not to mee onely, but unto them all that love his appearing. A crowne is laid up for mee, and not for mee onely, but for all them that love his appearing. This shews that surely it must bee a Doctrine of great comfort to the elect of God, because they so long and look for, and love the coming of Jesus Christ.
[ 2] Secondly, it is a Doctrine of great comfort, because Jesus Christ hath reserved the full glorification of the Elect for that time, though Christ brings soules to heaven before his coming, yet hee doth not compleatly glorifie any of his servants till his coming againe to Judge the world, 1 Iohn 3. 2. Beloved, now are wee the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what wee shall bee, but Wee know that when hee shall appeare, wee shall bee like him, for we shall see him as hee is: and in Colos. 3. 4. When Christ, who is our Life, shall appeare, then shall yee also appeare with him in glory. God hath reserved the full glorification of the Elect against the time of his coming, 1 Peter 5. 4. And when the chiefe Shepherd shall appear, yee shall receive a Crown of Glory that fades not away. Frequent Texts of Scripture there are, to prove, that the reserve that Christ hath of the full glorifying of the Elect, it is at the time of his coming to judge the world.
[ 3] The third particular is, but wherein is the Doctrine of Christs coming again, so comfortable to Beleevers? there are these foure particulars more especially wherein the Doctrine of Christs coming againe to judge the world is a Doctrine full of comfort to Beleevers.
[ 1] First, in case of any scandalous aspersion, or any unjust imputation which is laid upon them, it may serve for great comfort to thee in this case. The Apostle gives it you 1 Cor. 4. 3, 4, But with with mee it is a very small thing that I should bee judged of you, or of mans judgements, yea, I judge not my owne selfe. For I know nothing by my selfe, yet am I not hereby justified, but hee that judgeth mee, is the Lord. Censure me what you will, and judge of mee what you please, for hee that judgeth mee shall be the Lord, therefore it is a small matter that I am judged of you. Suppose thou art judged, thou art scandalized, and thou art aspersed in the world, appeale to Jesus Christ in Heaven, for hee that judgeth thee is the Lord, and this wee finde Christ did, 1 Peter 2. 23. who when hee was reviled, reviled not againe, when hee suffered, he threatned not, but committed himselfe to him that judgeth righteously. When thou art reviled, and aspersed, and censured, doe not revile again, doe not censure again, but doe as Christ did, commit thy cause to Christ that judgeth all things righteously. Christ will come to over-judge all things that have been judged amisse, Jude, 5. To execute Judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly amongst them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed; and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. Men have hard speeches against many, who are upright in the Land; it is a comfort then that of Christs coming again, one end is, to convince men of all their hard speeches and scandalous aspersions.
[ 2] Secondly, Christs coming again is a Doctrine of comfort, in case of all persecution thou undergoest from men, for Christ, for the Gospell, 1 Thess. 1. 6, 7. Seeing it is a righteous thing with God, to recompence tribulation to them that trouble you: And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Iesus shall bee revealed from Heaven, with his mighty Angels. As if hee should have said, you are troubled and persecuted about the Gospel, for Christs sake, why, bee not troubled, for Christ is coming from Heaven, 1 Peter 4. 13. But rejoyce, in asmuch as yee are partakers of Christs sufferings, that when his Glory shall bee revealed, yee may bee glad also with exceeding joy. when Christ comes to be revealed and to judge the world, you shall be glad also with exceeding joy, that is a second case wherein this Doctrine may bee of comfort.
Thirdly, this Doctrine may serve for comfort, in case of any inward accusation of conscience from the apprehension of thine own guiltinesse: it may bee thou judgest thy self that thou art a damned undone Creature▪ remember, that there is a Judgement to passe on thee besides thy own mistake and misapprehension, Christs coming to Judgement should bee a comfort to thee against thine own inward accusation, because hee that is thy Jesus, is thy Judge, hee is thy Advocate to plead thy cause, and thy Judge to judge thy cause; Suppose thy conscience doth accuse thee, and thou judgest thy selfe to Hell, yet comfort thy self with this, that thy Jesus will afterwards come to judge thee.
[ 4] Fourthly, Christs coming againe to judge the would it is a Doctrine of comfort in case of oppression in Courts of Judicature. What though Might overcometh Right? and the usurping hand useth waies of oppression and violence towards you? it matters not. For Christs coming to judgement shall bee of great comfort to you. Ierome saith, that Christ shall come to judge things that are not judged in the world, and Christ shall come to judge things that are judged amisse in the world; Christ shall judge all oppressions and violence which is done by an usurping hand; here is matter of comfort that Christ cometh to judge them all over againe; an excellent passage which Solomon hath, Eccle. 3. 16, 17. And moreover I saw under the Sun the place of judgement, that wickednesse was there, and the place of righteousnesse, that iniquity was there. I said in my heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there, for every purpose, & for every work. That is, I saw into Courts of Judicature, and I saw wickednesse was there, and I looked into the place of righteousnesse, and behold iniquity was there then I said in my heart, surely God shall judge both the righteous and the wicked; if there were no argument in all the Scripture to prove Christs coming again, this argument it will evince that Christ shall come to judge the world, there must bee a judging over againe; there shal bee a generall Judgement, because there is so much perverting of judgement here below: and thus you have wherein, or in what cases the Doctrine of Christs coming may serve for comfort.
[ 4] Fourthly, To whom will Christs coming bee a comfort?
First, To all tempted and troubled by Satan: this is the time of accomplishing that promise, Rom. 16. he shall tread Satan under your feet shortly.
Secondly, To all persecuted and opposed by men, 2 Thess. 1. 6▪ 7. Seeing it is a righteous thing with God, to recompense tribulation to them which trouble you, and to you, who are troubled, rest with us: When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty Angels.
Thirdly, to all mercifull ones, Mat. 25. 34, 35, 36. Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come yee blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdome prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungred, and yee gave mee meat; I was thirsty and yee gave mee drink; I was a stranger and yee tooke mee in, &c. 2 Tim. 1. 16, 18. The Lord give mercy unto the house Onesiphorus, for hee oft refreshed mee, and was not ashamed of my chain. The Lord grant unto him, that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day.
Fourthly, to all that can lay a grounded claime of interest in Jesus Christ: His coming againe will bee comfortable then, 1 Iohn 2. 28. And now little children abide in him, that when hee shall appeare, wee may have confidence, and not bee ashamed before him at his coming.
Fifthly, Christs coming againe will be comfortable to all that judge themselves, 1 Cor. 11. 31. For if wee would judge our selves, we should not be judged.
Sixthly, to all them that watch and pray, Luke 21▪ 36. Watch yee therefore and pray alwaies, that yee may bee counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Seventhly, to all beleevers it will bee very comfortable, 1 Pet. 1. 7. That the tryall of your Faith, being much more pretio•s, then of Gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and Honor and Glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
I now come to the Application of the point, by way of caution; there are four cautions that are to be noted.
[ 1] First, though the Doctrine of Christs coming againe bee full of comfort, yet take this caution, that you are to looke on the Doctrine of Christs coming to judgement as a Doctrine to teach you duty, as well as to give you comfort: it is a great abuse of your priviledges when you make any Gospell-point to bee an inlet of comfort, and do not make that very comfort to bee a spurre to duties, and the Scripture putteth you upon this, 1 Cor. 1. 7. So that ye come behinde in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Iesus Christ, 2 Thess. 2. 1. Now wee beseech you Brethren by the coming of our Lord Iesus Christ, that yee bee not soon shaken in your minds. Hee presseth them to duty on this Doctrine by the coming of Jesus Christ. Now to speak distinctly to the caution, there are duties that the Doctrine of Christs coming is serviceable unto.
[ 1] First, the Doctrine of Christs coming should teach you the duty of patience under all your sufferings in the world, Iam. 5. 8. Be ye all patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
[ 2] Secondly, it should serve to bee a spurre to the improving of your gifts under Ordinances, not onely patient under afflictions, but it should provoke you to improve your gifts under Ordinances, 1 Cor. 1. 7. So that yee come behinde in no gifts, waiting for the coming of our Lord Iesus Christ. The waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, it should provoke you to a holy improvement of growth under Ordinances, for Christ will call you to an account of your hearing, Revel. 22. 17. And the Spirit and the Bride say, come; and let him that heareth say come. Thou that art an unfaithfull hearer, an unprofitable hearer, thou darest not say as the spirit saith, Lord come, Lord come, but he that groweth better by hearing, hee will say, Lord come, Lord come, a notable Text, Mat. 25. 22. Hee also that had received two Talents, came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto mee two Talents, behold I have gained two other Talents besides them, his Lord said unto him, well done, good and faithfull servant, thou hast been faithfull over a few things, I will make thee Ruler over many things▪ enter thou into joy of thy Lord. This is Christs Language as Divines interpret, that when hee will come to judge the world, he will call thee, well done thou good and faithfull servant, thou hast improved thy gifts wel, thou hast improved thy Talents well.
[ 3] Thirdly, this Doctrine, it should provoke you to bee conscionable in your outwards calling whether Religious, or whether civill. I wish, saith Austine, that when Christ shall come he might find mee either Preaching or Praying.* Labour then to bee about your worke when Christ comes, for Christ to come and find thee in the stews, and to finde thee working of wickednesse; O how unmeet art thou for Christs coming!
[ 4] Fourthly, this Doctrine it should bee a spurre to you to moderate the the use of lawfull comforts, Phil. 4. 15. Let your moderation bee known unto all men. The Lord is at hand, Luk. 21. 34. And take heed to your selves, lest at any time your hearts bee over-charged with surfetting and drunkennesse, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. It was Christs counsell to his Apostles 1 Peter 4. 7. But the end of all things is at hand, bee yee therefore sober and watch unto Prayer.
[ 5] Fifthly, it should provoke you to repentance, Acts 17. 30, 31. And the times of this Ignorance God winked 〈◊〉, but now commandeth all Men every where to repent. Because he hath appointed a day in the which hee will judge the world in righteousnesse, by that man whom hee hath or- The Doctrine of Gods appointing the day for the Man Christ to judge the world, it should bee a spurre to the grace of Repentance, that now every man every where should repent, Christs coming should be a spur to repentance.
[ 6] Sixthly, Christs coming should bee a spurre to provoke you to keepe a good conscience towards God and Man in thy living here in this world, Acts 24. 15, 16. And hath hope towards God; which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the Death, both of the just and the unjust. And herein doe I exercise my selfe to have alwaies a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men. The thoughts of Christs coming to judge the Quicke and the Dead should make you have thoughts, to get a good conscience void of offence towards God and Man, 2 Pet. 3. 11. Seeing then that all these things shall bee dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godlinesse? And thus much for the first caution, that you are to looke on the coming of Christ as a Doctrine serviceable as well for duty as comfort.
[ 5] The second caution is this, take heed of peremptory conclusions about this dark and obscure Doctrin of Christs coming to judge the world. There are many loose and lavish frolick wits that have bold and adventurous attempts touching the coming of the Lord in determining that, which the Scripture determineth not: it is not my intent to trouble you with ni••ties, but onely to check the frollick and bold attempts of some, who goe about to determine that which the Scripture doth no way reveale, to which end take heed of these things.
[ 1] First, take heed of determining the place from whence Christ should come. The Papists they are bold thi• way: they hold you in hand that Christ shall come from the East. Therefore our Churches, all of them were built East and West, and upon that ground, that Christ would come from the East; the Scripture saith that Christ shall come as lightning from the East, but that doth not shew the place from whence hee comes; but as Christ shall come as Lightning, it notes the visibility of Christs coming, and the celerity of Christs coming; Lightning it is visible, and so shall Christs coming bee, all shall see him as yee see Lightning; Now this bold attempt hath been the foundation to many Superstitions Opinions; it is the reason of bowing and c•inging towards the East. All rose meerely from that ground of Christs coming from the East; the Scripture onely saith, that hee shall come downe from Heaven, and the Lord shall come from Heaven, but from what part of the heaven the scripture speaketh not.
Againe, passe not bold conjectures in determining the place where Christ shall come to judge the world: many men where the Scripture is silent doe run into many strong conceits to determine that which the Scripture doth not, many Books doe determine the place where Christ shall come to judge the world, and that is in the Valley of Iehoshaphat, and there is one Text which seemes to carry it that way; which is in Ioel 3. 12. Let the Heathen bee awaked, and come up to the Valley of Iehoshaphat, for there will I sit to judge all the Heathen round about. Here they doe conjecture that Christ shall come to the Valley of Iehoshaphat, and there hee shall judge all the world, and I shall, to shew the vanity and wickednesse of these, give these five demonstrations.
First, it is not spoken of God the Sonne, but of God the father, to bee thy judge, therefore it cannot have a reference to the last Judgement, for Christ judgeth then.
[ 2] Secondly, their Judgement here, onely referres to the Judging of the Heathen round about; Now the generall judgement is for the judging of the righteous and the unrighteous.
[ 3] Thirdly, that it is impossible that the Valley of Iehoshaphat should containe all the men that ever were, that are, and that shall bee in the world to bee judged, therefore it is not profitable that this hath reference to the last Judgement.
Fourthly, the time that this judgement, here is spoken of, it is limited by the prophet himselfe; for compare this verse with the second verse; I will also gather all Nations, and will bring them downe into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my People, and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the Nations, and parted my Land. The time is spoken of when God shall turne againe the captivity of Iudah and Ierusalem, then God should judge the Babylonians, and those heathen Nations that assisted them for to undo the people of God; therfore it refers to some time after the captivity▪ & not to the general and last coming of the Sonne of God: and thus much for taking off that Text from yeelding patronage to that fond conceit of Christs coming to judge the world in the Valley of Iehoshaphat, and the Scripture is farre from giving you the place where Christ shall come to judgement, either in the Valley of Iehoshaphat or Mount Olivet, out only in the ayre. 1 Thess. 4. 7. Then wee which are alive, and remaine, shall bee caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the Aire, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. The Scripture doth make no mention of Christs coming upon the Earth at all. Take heed of bold attempts and conjectures about the place of Christs judgement.
[ 3] Thirdly, take heed of bold attempts about the time of Christs judgement, there have been them which have shewne abundance of wickednesse in this. Gerrard doth confute the folly of such men that do guesse at the time when Christ shall come to judge the world. Austin doth make mention of some in his time, that held that Christ should come to judge the world a thousand years after his Death, but wee have seen their folly and shame, for there is more time expired then that. Another saith, that some held in his time that Christ should come to judge the world 365. yeares after his Death, that is a folly likewise, for there is more time past then that. Luther saith, that there were Anabapists which held that in the yeare 1530 Christ should come to judge the world but wee have seen their folly likewise, for there is more time past then then that. Napier, though a learned Nobleman in Scotland, hee was too frolick in this way, for he doth boldly say that Christ shall come to judge the world in the yeare 1688. But beloved, Christs coming to judge the world cannot be determined, for Christ would not gratifie his own Apostles to tell them the time when his coming should bee, Mat. 24. Hee would not tell them when the end of the word should bee; it shews then it is great pride of heart to passe peremptory conjectures upon the period of time, Christ did not thinke it meet for to tell his Apostles of the time of his coming, 1 Thess. 5. 1. But of the times and seasons, Brethren, yee have no need that I write unto you, nay, Angels in heaven, and Christ himselfe as hee was meere Man could not tell the time, Marke 13. 32. But of that day, and that houre, knoweth no man, no not the Angels which are in heaven, neither the Sonne but the Father. Mat. 24. 36. But of that day and houre knoweth no man, no not the Angels of Heaven, but my father onely. I onely mention it for this, to shew the vanity of our age, of those who will undertake to shew the very day when Christ should come; Likewise to condemne the former Ages, who run to things not revealed, I remember what a learned Man saith, one that commenteth upon my Text, saith hee, there is nothing that doth expose the Christian Religion to more contempt, then that the Preachers, and the hearers of it will run into nice questions, and bee peremptory in their resolves of that the Scripture speakes not of; And Jews and Gentiles may suspect the whole Gospell, because they see Men peremptory about things which are not revealed in the Gospell, and shall see their false-hood appearing to all; bee not peremptory in your determinations about the time of Christs coming, nor about the place where, for neither is revealed in Scripture Christ did deny his Disciples when they asked him where hee should come▪ Luk. 17. 37. And they answered and said, where Lord? And hee said unto them, where the body is, thither will the Eagles bee gathered together. Christ told them of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the end of the Wo•ld; then said the Disciples, but where Lord wilt thou come? Christ onely gives them this answer, that where the carcasse is, thither will the Eagles flee, that is where Christ is, all the Elect shall bee gathered, as Birds of prey flock together after a carcasset o feed upon; so that Christ would neither tell the place where, nor the time when, and this should bee a check and a controle to mens curious pryings about that which the Scripture is silent in.
Lastly, take heed of bold and adventurous conjectures, about the manner of Christs coming to judge the World by vaine and carnall corruptions of a temporall Kingdome of Christ. Many are very peremptory about it, and there bee strange Books, at least in their own expressions, that they can descry the very maner of his coming, that Christ shall come from heaven, and dwell a thousand yeares upon the Earth, and the Dead shall rise and live in the World, but these are such things which the Scripture doth never take notice of. I am to handle on this promise of Christ, but I will come again, A perplexed Quere, which is this, whether Christ Jesus in promising to his Disciples to come again, did meane to come to Reigne upon the Earth here a thousand years, or whether it bee to bee meant of Christs last coming to judge the world; this Scripture and others are made use of and brought to prove that Christ shall come from heaven in person and live upon the Earth, for a whole thousand years, they fancy that Jesus Christ when hee shall come to this personall Reigne, then hee shall raise all the Martyrs that have lost their Lives in his cause, and the Divell shall bee bound up, that hee shall tempt Men to sinne no more, and wicked Men shall be ty’d up that they shall not persecute the Church of God, this is an Antient Opinion, and almost since the Apostles dayes. Before I shall come to give you my thoughts from the words touching Christs coming, as they pretend, to Reigne a thousand years upon the Earth; I shall shew you the rise of this Opinion.
[ 1] First, from Eusebius and others, they give us the rise of this Opinion from Cerinthus which had it, who lived in the time of John. This Cerinthus who was a pesti•ent Heretick in those times, who held that Christ was borne by the conjunction of a man and a woman, Christum ex congressu maritali genitum esse, and not born by a Virgin, and was borne as others are, and so must be a sinner. Hee was the Man that was the first author from whom this Opinion had any life or being. Eusebius saith, Papias Bishop of Hieropolis did also hold this Opinion, but not in so grosse a way as Cerinthus did, but rather spiritually: and there was some spice of this in the Apostles, for they did dream of a temporal Kingdome; therfore they askt Christ when hee was going to Heaven, Lord, when wilt thou restore the Kingdome unto Israel? there was in the time of the Apostle a fancy that Christ must bee an Earthly Monarch, and destroy all the Kings of the Earth, and all the Enemies of the world, and must come here to Rule and Reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth; it was brought over into Germany, and there was taken hold on by John of Leydon, in westphalia, and handed over to us in England by men of late, Now for the confutation.
[ 1] First, I shall quote expresse Scriptures, that Christ shall not come in person out of heaven till his last coming to judge the world.
[ 2] Secondly, I shall give you some reasons from the Scripture, why Christ cannot come out of Heaven Bodily and in person to Reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth.
[ 3] Thirdly, I shall shew you some absurdities and incongruities that would follow if Christ should come to Reign a thousand yeares upon the Earth.
First, for expresse Scriptures which are four, the first scripture Act. 3. 21. Whom the Heavens must receive, untill the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy Prophets since the world began. There the Apostle telleth you directly, that the Heaven must receive and keep Jesus Christ; how long? till the restitution of all things. The Millenaries hold that the restitution of all things may be at the time of Christ Personall Reigne; but I shall shew you that this restitution of all things cannot be til Christs judging the world. First, there cannot be a totall abolition of sin in the world, at the thousand yeares end there shall bee a number of men, and wicked, during the thousand yeares, all things cannot bee restored, for sinne bringeth the creature under a curse, it is apparent that it cannot bee till Christs last coming to judge the world, because other Scriptures tell you that the time of restitution cannot bee till our bodies bee raised from the Dead, Rom. 8. 23. And not onely they, but our selves also which have the fruits of the spirit, even wee our selves groane within our selves, waiting for the Adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body; That is, the creatures doe as it were groane, being used by man as an instrument to Gods dishonour, so that till the bodies of all the Elect bee redeemed and glorified, till that time the creature lies under a curse by reason of mans sinnes and mans abuse. And they themselves that plead f•r Christs personal reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth, though they doe hold that the martyrs shall bee raised at at that time; yet doe not hold that all the Elect shall bee raised at that time, therefore the Apostle saith expresly, that the Heavens must keepe the person of Christ till the restitution of all things, 〈◊〉 the bodies of the Elect come to bee raised from the Dead. Again, it is apparant from the context in Acts 3. That the restitution of all things can intend no other time then the time of Christs coming to judgement.
[ 1] First, because it is said that the time here spoken of, is when the Jewes were to bee refreshed from the Lords presence, vers. 19, 20, 21. Repent yee therefore, and bee converted, that your sinnes may bee bloted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And hee shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you. Whom the Heaven must receive, untill the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy Prophets since the world began. And they cannot bee refreshed by the Lords presence till Christs coming to Judgement and their resurrection.
[ 2] Secondly, it was the time that God did solemnly declare pardon of sinne for all the elect, Repent yee therefore and be converted, that your Sinnes may bee blotted out.
[ 3] Thirdly, it is said, of which all the Prophets doe beare witnesse, those that doe plead for Christs personall Reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth, they cannot say that all the Prophets did speake this; for Moses, Daniel and others, nay, none of the Prophets speake of Christs Reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth, therefore▪ this cannot have a reference to Christs Reigne for a thousand yeares upon the Earth. A second Scripture is in Psal. 110. 1. The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right Hand, untill I make thine Enemies thy Foot-stoole. That Scripture tells you, that Jesus Christ who is ascended into Heaven and sits at Gods right Hand there, shall so sit, till hee hath made all his Enemies his Foote-stoole. That the Apostles tells you that all Christs Enemies are to be made his Foot-stoole, cannot bee till Christ coming at the last time. will you marke that Scripture, where the Apostle telleth you directly, 1 Cor. 15. 23, 24, 25, 26. But every man in his owne Order, Christ the first Fruits, afterwards they that are Christs at his coming. Then cometh the end, when hee shall have delivered up the Kingdome to God even the Father, when hee shall put down all rule, and all authority, and all power. For hee must reigne till he hath put all his enemies under his Feet. The last enemie that shall bee destroyed is Death. Here is the coming of Christ that hath reference to all the Just and Unjust. Marke now, Christ therefore must reigne in Heaven till all enemies bee under his Feet, now these thousand years all enemies are not under his Feet, why? because death will bee then, death is not to be destroyed then, when the end comes hee must give up his Kingdome to his Father: what is more clear then this, that the Heavens must keep Christ till all things be restored? and that cannot be till the day of Judgement.
Againe, Christ must reigne so long till the end of the world. The third Scripture is in the 1 Cor. 15. 23, 24. But every Man in his own Order, Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christs at his coming. Then cometh the end, when hee shall have delivered up the Kingdome to God even the Father, when hee shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and all power. This Scripture telleth you that when Christ cometh out of Heaven, upon Christs coming, three things must bee done.
[ 1] First, every man must rise, vers. 23. Now that cannot bee at the thousand yeares, because they themselves hold this, that there shall onely be a Resurrection of the Martyrs, and here the Scripture saith, that every man shall rise, which cannot bee till the day of Judgement.
[ 2] Secondly, when Christ comes, then comes the end; the Apostle tells us of his coming and the end of the world; to note, that Christs coming and the end of the world shall be together.
Thirdly, hee delivers his Kingdome up to his Father, whereas if Christ should reigne a thousand years here, it could not bee said to bee the giving up of a Kingdome, but the taking of a Kingdome into possession, hee must resigne all to God the Father. When the Scripture is so expresse, it is a wonder that men can receive such fantasticall thoughts that Christ must come as an Earthly Monarch to reign here a thousand yeares. A fourth Scripture is in Heb. 9. 28. So Christ was once offered to beare the s•nt of many, and unto them that looke for him shall be appeare the second time without sin unto Salvation. From that Scripture I will argue against Christs coming to reign upon the Earth for a thousand yeares.
First, it is expresly in the Scripture that Christs coming there spoken of, referres to the day of Judgement in v. 27. And as it is appointed unto all men once to dye, but after this the judgement. There Christs second coming, it doth refer•e unto the day of Judgement; Now if the Scripture doth 〈◊〉 that the second coming which is his coming to judgement? Then Christ cannot come before that time to reigne upon the Earth, for if hee should come to reigne upon the Earth, then the Apostle must call that his third coming; there hath been but one coming, which was from Heaven to the wombe of the Virgin, and there is no other coming to follow but a second coming, that is, to judgement.
[ 2] Secondly, it is said, Christ shall come the second time to our Salvation, it cannot bee said to our Salvation, if his coming were to reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth, that were onely some temporall good; but Christs coming must referre to the last and great coming, wherein the world shall bee judged and the soules of the Elect shall bee saved; Beloved, these Scriptures are very clear unto mee. The reasons are two; that Christ shall not come personally out of Heaven to reigne upon the Earth for a thousand yeares. First, because the Scripture doth manifest that when Christ comes personally out of Heaven, there are such Concomitants of his coming, that can bee referred to no other time then his last coming to judge the world.
First, when Christ is said to come out of Heaven, the Scripture telleth you this concomitant, that the Saints shall come along with him, Jude 14. And Enoch also the seventh from Adam, Prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his Saints: So that when Christ comes from Heaven he must come with his Saints with him, nay, he must come with his Angels, 2 Thess. 1. 7. And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall bee revealed from Heaven, with his mighty Angels▪ Put these two Scriptures together, Christ must come with his Saints and Angels. But those that fancy Christs coming a thousand yeares, they cannot prove that Christ shall come with his Saints and Angels, for the scripture that seemes to carry it that way; doth not speak of Angels & Saints coming.
[ 2] Secondly, it is said when Christs comes from Heaven that good and bad shall bee gathered together, and all shall bee judged by Jesus Christ; now this cannot bee of Christs personall reigne on the Earth; this you have in 2 Thess. 2. 9. Now wee beseech you Brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. So that the coming of our Lord, and our gathering together to bee judged by Christ, they are both coupled together; because when the Lords coming is, then is our gathering time, Mat. 25. 31. 32. When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy Angels with him, then shall hee sit upon the Throne of his glory. And before him shall bee gathered all Nations, and hee shall separate them one from another, as a Shepheard divideth his sheepe from the Goats. And in 2 Tim. 4. 1. I charge thee therfore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the Quick and the Dead at his appearing, and his Kingdome. The Scripture telleth you that when Christ appeares to judge the world, hee shall have this concomitant of his coming, he shal gather all together, to judge both the good and the bad. Those that pretend that Christ shall come to reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth, they cannot prove that then all shall bee gathered together, they onely plead for the Matryrs, and none else, therefore it cannot be referred to his coming to reigne a thousand yeares.
[ 3] Thirdly, when Christ comes, then the end of the world is, a period is put to this world, 1 Cor. 15. 24. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the Kingdome to God, even the Father, &c. When Christ comes, then comes the end; now those who hold for Christs personall reign, they hold that the end of the world shal not be till a thousand yeares after, because Christ must Reigne a thousand yeares.
[ 4] Fourthly, the resurrection both of the just and the unjust is a concomitant of Christs coming, 1 Cor. 15. 23. But every man in his owne Order, Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christs at his coming. So that at Christs coming the generall resurrection of the just and unjust is to be.
Lastly, there is to bee the Salvation of the Soules of all the Elect, that is a fifth concomitant of Christs coming, Heb. 9. 28. Christ was once offered to beare the sinnes of many, and unto them that looke for him, shall hee appeare the second time without sinne unto Salvation. This cannot be referred to Christs Personal coming upon the earth to reign a thousand years, because he doth not come then to save the soules of all the Elect; that is the first reason why Christ cannot come to reigne upon the Earth, because when the Scripture speaks of Christs coming out of heaven, it doth annex five concomitants with it, which belong not to any coming of Christ upon the Earth, but to come to judge the world. A second reason is this, that Christ cannot come to reigne upon the Earth, because if it should bee so, it would bee worse for Christ, and it would bee worse for us then now it is, it would be worse for Christ, for to leave Heaven and come to the Earth, for Christ to leave Saints and Angels and Heaven, for to live upon the Earth among the wicked and the good, for they themselves confesse that wicked men shall live upon the Earth then. Then besides, they fancy Earthly delights, that the fruit of the Vineyard shall not fade, as now it doth, yet they would lessen Christs Glory, because hee sits this day at his Fathers right Hand: againe, for to fancy this, that Christ must come to reigne upon the Earth, it would bee a great losse to all the Elect, for wee have the benefit of Christs everlasting Intercession; and were Christ upon the Earth, wee should lose that benefit, Heb. 8. 4. For if hee were on the Earth, hee should not bee a Priest, seeing that there are Priests that offer gifts according to the Law. So that if hee were upon the Earth, wee should lose the benefit of his Priest-hood; therefore it would it bee a great wrong to us, to have Christ here on the Earth, because the benefit of his Priestly Office would not bee so availeable to us as it is in Heaven. Thus I have laid down scripture and given you reasons, why Christ cannot come, before his last coming.
Now there be eight Incongruities, and Absurdities that would follow in case you should grant that Christ should come to Reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth.
[ 1] First, by those mens Principles, this inconvenience will follow, that people may exactly know the punctuall time of Christs last coming to judge the world; for those who hold Christs personall Reigne, they doe as well hold the time as the thing, they doe as well maintaine when this Reigne shall begin; Therefore some have maintained that Christ should come to Reigne on the Earth in the year 1650. One saith, if it shall not be in the yeare 1650, it shall bee in the yeare 1694. They that go furthest guess at that time, if so bee they hold the thing, and maintaine the time also when it shall begin, then of necessity, wee must know exactly when the day shal be that Christ shall come to judge the world, for they grant it shall be immediately after the thousand yeares. Now beloved, that Opinion that carries this absurdity, to know the day of Christs coming to judge the world, which Christ saith, none in the world can tell, of that houre and day knoweth no man, Mark. 13. 32. But of that day and houre knoweth no man, no not the Angells which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father, is a false Opinion.
[ 2] Secondly, this incongruity will also follow, that it will bee a great disadvantage to Christ, in coming to reigne a thousand yeares on the Earth, to leave his Father, and Heaven, and come, and onely possesse Earth. Now Christ hath more happinesse in the immediate enjoyment of his Father in Heaven, then hee can have here upon the Earth; Then it will bee a losse to us, that wee should lose the benefit of his Priestly Office, but Christ the Sonne of righteousnesse being in Heaven, is more available to Beleevers, then if he were upon the Earth.
[ 3] Thirdly, observe this, that if Christ should come on the Earth for a thousand yeares, then Christ would leave the Church after that thousand yeares for a while, in a worse condition, then hee found it▪ and I draw it from that Text which they pretend to bee the strength of their Argument, Revel. 20. 5, 7, 8. But the rest of the Dead lived not again untill the thousand years were finished This is the first resurrection, and when the thousand yeares are expired, Satan shall bee loosed out of his Prison; And shall go out to deceive the Nations which are in the four quarters of the Earth, G•g and Magog, to gather them together to Battell, the number of whom is as the Sand of the sea. So that after the thousand yeares, the Devill shall bee let loose again, and there shall bee an innumerable company of enemies, and they shall destroy multitudes of the godly; Therefore Christ would leave his Church in a worse condition then hee found them, if this were true that Christ should reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth.
[ 4] Fourthly, if Christ should come to reigne a thousand yeares upon the Earth, then this incongruity will follow, that there must bee three personall comings of Jesus Christ; for his first coming was his Incarnation. Second coming, to these thousand yeares. And his third coming must bee to judge the world, that is, the last coming, but the Scripture makes but two comings of Christ; First, his coming from heaven, when hee was borne; his second coming when he comes to judge the world again.
[ 5] Fifthly, if Christ comes personally out of Heaven, to reigne a thousand yeares, this incongruity will follow, that either the Saints and Angels must come, or not come with Christ; if they must come with Christ, then it is a losse to them, for them to leave the immediate presence of God, and come upon the Earth where wicked men shall bee amongst them: or if they must not come with Jesus Christ, yet it is a loss to them to remaine there, they shall lose for a thousand yeares the bodily presence of Christ; if Christ bee on the Earth, •ee cannot bee in Heaven the same time; Therefore it would be a losse to the Saints and Angels for them to bee a thousand yeares in Heaven without the company of Jesus Christ, not to have the person of Jesus Christ with them.
[ 6] A Sixth Incongruity will follow, that if Christ shall come to reigne upon the Earth, then Christs Kingdome must bee a worldly and terrene Kingdome, then it will bee against the word of God, hee must be a visible King to the Jewes, and a visible King to all the world; besides this would follow then that Christs Kingdom must not be aspirituall Kingdome, but a Terrene, a worldly pompous Kingdome, John 18. 36. Jesus answered, My Kingdome is not of this world, if my Kingdome were of this world, then would my Servants fight, that I should not bee delivered to the Jews, but now is my Kingdome not from hence, Luke 17. 20. And when hee was demanded of the Pharisees when the Kingdome of God should come, hee answered them and said, the Kingdome of God cometh not with Observation. Would not all the world observe this, for Christ to come bodily from Heaven, and in the Majesty of a Monarch? Now Christs Kingdome doth not come with Observation. When the Disciples looked after an Earthly Kingdome, No, saith Christ, my Kingdome is for to Rule and Reigne in your hearts, you shall never see me for to be an outward Pompous King in the world, for Christs Kingdome, it is a spiritual Kingdome.
[ 7] Seventhly, that if Jesus Christ shall come to take a Kingdome on the Earth for a thousand yeares, then this would intimate, as if Jesus Christ had not a Kingdome, and were not a King on Earth all this while hee is in Heaven; they deny that place in Daniel, and all those phrases in the new Testament, that the Kingdome of the world is become the Kingdome of the Lord, they deny that Christ is a King in Heaven. When hee was in the Cratch and borne in the Stable, he was a King at that very hour, Psalme 2. The Apostle referres it to Christs Birth and Christs Resurrection. Christ when hee arose from the Dead, hee was a King then, and the Gospell under Christs time is called a Kingdome. It is remarkable, in John 18. 37. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a King then? Jesus answered, thou sayest that I am a King. Christ was a King, though hee would not bee an Earthly King to destroy Earthly Governments, therefore when the people in a tumult would have made him a King, yet hee would not Zech. 9. 9. Rejoyce greatly, O Daughter of Zion, shout O Daughter of Jerusalem, behold thy King cometh unto thee, hee is just, and having Salvation, lowly, and riding upon an Asse, and upon a Colt, the fole of an Asse. Hee was King, when hee was on that slow contemptible creature, so that now to say Christ shall come to reigne as King, it is to intimate to the world, as if Christ were not a King at this day, and whereas he is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords in Heaven, therefore he cannot come a thousand years to reigne upon the Earth.
Now I will deale fairely to shew you the strongest Scripture that hath most shew of reason, for the maintaining of this Opinion; and shall labour to take them off and cleare it to you. There are multitudes of quotations that varieties of mens thoughts fasten upon to prove this poynt, yet those they most stand to, I shall fasten upon; their chiefe Pillar is in Revel. 20. 2, 3, 5, 6. And hee laid hold on the Dragon, that old Serpent, which is the Devill and Satan, and bound him a thousand yeares. And I saw thrones, and they sate upon them, and judgement was given uuto them, and I saw the Soules of them that were beheaded for the witnesse of Jesus, and for the word God, and which had not worshipped the Beast, neither his Image, neither had received his marke upon their foreheads, or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand yeares; But the rest of the Dead lived not again untill the thousand yeares were finished. This is the first Resurrection, blessed, and holy is hee that hath part in the first Resurrection, on such the second death hath no power, but they shall bee Priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand yeares. Now from this Text which is the chiefest in the Scripture they seeme to build these two things upon.
[ 1] First, That Jesus Christ shall live upon the Earth, and the Saints reigne with him for a thousand yeares.
[ 2] Secondly, Those that were Martyrs by Antichrist shall rise from the Dead, and come upon the Earth, these thousand yeares to continue with Jesus Christ. This they build much upon, That Christ shall come to reign a thousand yeares upon the Earth. But I shall shew you this cannot bee the sense of it, and I shall give you Six Answers.
[ 1] First, that though the Scripture doth say that the Saints that were beheaded, should live with Christ a thousand yeares, yet the Text doth not say that Christ shall come to reigne with them a thousand yeares.
[ 2] Secondly, though the Text saith, that they should live and reigne with Christ a thousand years, yet the Text doth not say▪ that they shall reigne with him here upon the Earth.
[ 3] Thirdly, that though it bee said that the Saints shall live, and reigne with Christ a thousand yeares, yet living and reigning with Christ doth not necessarily imply to bee in the same place where Jesus Christ is, for then you would pervert many Scriptures: For loe, saith Christ, I am with you to the end of the World; it doth not therfore follow, from that time hee will bee upon the Earth to the end of the world, but Christ being with us, or wee with him, it is by his spirit, Romans 8. 17. And if Children, then Heires of God, and joynt Heires with Christ: if so bee that wee suffer with him, that wee may bee also glorified together. The Text it doth not denote the sameness of place, and the oneness of scituation, I give this to take off that which is made of this Text.
[ 4] Fourthly, it is evident that this Scripture cannot bee a Foundation to build on, that Christ shall come to reign a thousand yeares upon the Earth; because then it will not onely follow that men shall live so long, but shall reigne with Christ so long on the Earth. Methuselah lived but nine hundred sixty and nine yeares, and David saith, the life of man is cut shorter, The Text saith, they shall live and reigne with Christ; in that sense taking living properly, and all the phrases properly, they must necessarily say that men shall live when that time comes, a thousand yeares together. Againe, it cannot bee the sense of this Scripture, because that cannot bee the sense of this Scripture which crosseth the sense of other Scriptures, to make this Scripture to affirme that Christ. shall reigne on the Earth a thousand yeares, and other Scriptures tell you that Christ shall stay in Heaven in person, till all men shall rise from the Dead, every man shall rise, then cometh the end, 1 Cor. 15. 23, 24. But every man in his owne order, Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christs, at his coming. Then cometh the end, &c. 2 Thess. 2. 1. Now wee beseech you Brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. Then besides it doth crosse the Scripture to say that at Christs coming, onely some men shal rise but not all, Job 14, 10, 11, 12. But man dieth and wasteth away, yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is hee? As the waters faile from the Sea, and the Flood decayeth and dryeth up; So man lieth down, and riseth not, till the Heavens bee no more, they shall not awake, nor bee raised out of their sleepe. Job telleth you expresly, That the Dead shall not bee raised till the Heavens bee no more, and that cannot bee the thousand yeares, for there will bee a Earth, and a Heaven then; and in Peters phrase, The Heavens shall melt away like a scrowle. &c. Now to make a Resurrection, before a Resurrection, it is that which the Scripture doth no where mention, John 5. 28, 29. Marvell not at this, for the houre is coming, in the which all that are in the Graves shall heare his Voyce, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the Resurrection of life, and they that have done evill unto the Resurrection of damnation. The judging of the just and unjust shall bee the same houre, and upon Christs coming all men shall bee judged, 2 Tim. 4, 1. I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Iesus Christ, who shall judge the quicke and the dead, at his appearing, and his Kingdome. So that Christs appearing, and Christs coming is a judging of the quick and the dead. Now beloved, then to make this Scripture to say that Christ shall come on the Earth before his last coming, this is to crosse other Scriptures, then of necessity therefore it cannot bee the scope of th•s, for there is no jarring between one phrase of the Scripture and another.
[ 5] Fifthly, when the scripture saith here, That they live and reigne with Christ a thousand yeares, it is not spoken whether it bee a reigning with Christ in Heaven or on Earth, so the phrase neither carrieth it one way or another.
[ 6] Sixthly, John doth not say, that hee saw the bodies of men that were beheaded, and they reigned with Christ, but he d•d in a vision see the Souls of them that were beheaded; now to say they must come to reigne on the Earth for a thousand yeares, it were a great inconveniency to them; it is said, I saw the soules of them; The thousand yeares cannot bee applied to Christs Personall Reigne. For so Jesus Christ hath an eternall Kingdome, he doth not reigne a thousand yeares on Earth or in Heaven, but everlastingly, Kingdomes and States of this world have lasted a thousand yeares, and to make Christs Kingdome to last no longer, it is to give Christs Kingdome too narrow a confine. I have consulted with many Authors, and I finde the current of Interpreters generally runne this way, though some doe fancy that Text speakes of the binding of the Devill for a thousand years, and during this time, the Saints should live and reigne with Christ a thousand yeares. The sense and scope of this place is this.
The period of time, when this time began that the Devill was bound; Interpreters doe unanimously give this Opinion, that it began in the reigne of Constantine the Great, hee being the first Christian Emperour in the World, hee coming after 300 yeares Persecution by the Roman Emperours, who made great massacre and havock in the Church of God; in so much that in the booke of Martyrs wee reade, that there may bee for every day in the yeare five thousand Christians slaine, this is a dreadfull Persecution, and the Devill raged and stirred much. Now upon▪ Constantines reigne the Devill was bound up, that is, the Roman Emperours, who were acted by the Devill to all this cruelty, when Constantine a Christian Emperour came to reigne, hee gvae out imperiall Edicts and Lawes for establishment of the Christian Religion, and that put an end to the Persecution of the Roman Emperours, and to this Opinion many Interpreters give in their consent, Brightman, Napier, Gerard, and these thousand yeares when the Devill was bound did end 300 yeares ago and more, and this is given to be the scope and sense of the Scripture.
[Object.] I, but then you will say, though the Devill was bound, how comes the Devill to be loose againe?
[Answ.] They answered this, that in the yeare 1300 the Turkish Emperour began to beare sway, Gog and Magog, called the Turke prevailed, and hath gotten the greatest part of the world within his power, and hee was the Gog and Magog that did persecute the Saints, and did spread almost over all the Earth, and truly comparing Scripture and story together, this seemes to be the neerest and the truest sense of this place, and this interpreters doe generally concurre in.
Two Objections by those, who plead for a thousand yeares.
[ 1] First, is this, we read in the Century of the Church, that the Church of God was pestered by Valens the Emperour after these 300 yeares, and of Julian the Apostate that did greatly persecute the Christians, and how can this be true, when we read of so much persecution, after the Devil was bound up?
Answer, that when it is said the Devil is bound up, it is not meant simply, that there should bee no temptation to sinne, for that there should bee; Valens the Emperour did establish Arrianisme and troubled the Church of God. One answereth, it was nothing like the persecution of the Roman Emperours, it was nothing so long nor so tedious as the persecution under the Roman Emperours, for, for every day in the year, 5000 Christians were put to death; In Dioclesians reigne there were 17000 Christians killed in one Moneth, there was some sprinkling persecution in the time of Valens and Iulian the Apostate, but it was nothing to that of the Roman Emperours.
[Object.] Another Objection is this, I, but the Scripture saith, that this is the first Resurrection, that the Saints living and reigning with Christ a thousand yeares, this is the first Resurrection; how can it bee said that after the time that the Roman persecution was curbed by Constantine, that was a Resurrection, and that they reigned with Christ at that time?
[Answ.] For Answer, first in Scripture phrase, the word rising doth not carry a reference to the body rising from the Grave onely, but of a man rising from a state of affliction and of sinne, they are expressed in Scripture by a Resurrection. Roman 10. 10, 11. Let their Eyes be darkned, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid, but rather through their fall, Salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousie, Isaiah 22. 19. And I will drive thee from thy Station, and from thy state shall hee pull thee down. The men that are as it were low men in captivity in Babylon, they shall rise, it doth not referre to the resurrection from the Dead at the last day: so a rising from sinne, Coloss. 2. 12. Buried with him in Baptisme, wherein also you are risen with him through the Faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the Dead. Wee are risen with Christ, not bodily, but out of our sinnes, Coloss. 3. 1. If yee th•n bee risen with Christ, seeke those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. So that here, this is the first Resurrection, the meaning is this, that those that did escape the rage and cruelty of the ten Persecutions, and did come to live in Constantines daies, and did all the while of the former Persecutions, keep themselves from the Idolatry of the Heathens, and Corruptions of Antichrist, they are said to have the first Resurrection: blessed are they that were raised up by Christ, from the sinnes, and from the Errours▪ Superstition and Idolatry both of Antichrist and the Heathens.
I, but then it is said, they live and reigne with Christ a thousand yeares.
Beloved, that Phrase, living and reigning with Christ, though some Interpreters re•erre it to Heaven, yet with Brightman and others, I concurre, and al•o Bernard, that it doth denote thus much, that those in Successive Ages, who enjoyed Liberty in the Christian Religion under Constantine the great, who lived to a thousand years, and were delivered from former afflictions, that kept by Christs Power from the Idolatry of the times, and from Antichrist, they were said to live with Christ a thousand yeares, for they lived to him, and depended on him, and were not plunged into the wickednesse of the times: and thus with consulting of many Authors I finde this to bee the truest account, in a few words in defending this Text from giving any foundation to Christs personall reigne for a thousand yeares upon the Earth.
[ 2] The second Scripture that they doe urge for Christs personall reign upon the earth for a thousand years, is the 2 Peter 3. 7, 10, 11, 12, 13. But the Heavens and the Earth which are now by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire untill the day of judgement, and •erdition of ungodly men. But the day of the Lord will come, as a Theefe in the Night, in the which the Heavens shall passe away with a great noyse, and the Elements shall melt with fervent heate, the Earth also and the workes that are therein shall bee burnt up. Seeing then that all these things shall bee dissolved, what manner of persons ought yee to bee in all holy conversation and godlinesse, Looking for, and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the Heavens being on fire shall bee dissolved, and the Elements shall melt with fervent heat? Neverthelesse, wee, according to his promise, looke for new Heavens and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousnesse. Here is mention of a coming of Christ, wee looke for and hasten to his coming, at Christs coming wee looke for a new Earth; Now say they, to what purpose were there to bee a new Earth, if Christ were not to come down on this Earth, and the Saints with him for a thousand yeares, as the Scripture doth seeme to give warrant for a thousand yeares reigne; this Scripture seemes to give warrant that hee shall be on the Earth, they say that the righteous shall onely have benefit of Christs personall reign upon the Earth.
To take off this. [ 1] First, marke the scope and the context how this Scripture is brought in, and it will something cleare the Text. it is brought in against some Epicurean Principles that some scoffers had taken up in those times, ver. 3, 4. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last daies scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of his coming? For since the Eathers •ell asleepe, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the Creation. Wee see no change in providence, therefore where is the promise of Christs coming? they scoffed at Christ, that Christ was a contemptible man in this world; this is the answer in the 7 vers. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store reserved unto fire against the day of judgement and Perdition of ungodly men. Peter speakes directly that the time of Christs coming (which they scoffed at) was not the time of the thousand yeares, but of the day of judgment; therefore this coming here that Peter speaks of cannot be meant of a thousand years before the day of judgement.
[ 2] Secondly, observe that the day of Perdition of ungodly men, they say themselves that Christ doth suffer the wicked of the world to live in the world the thousand yeares, though not to rule as they had done.
[ 3] Thirdly, observe, that it is said here that before this new Earth is, the world shall bee burnt with Fire, the Heavens shall passe away with a noyse, &c. Now before a thousand yeares there is no such thing, as it is before the day of Judgement. The burning of that world is reserved against the day of Judgement; therefore this coming cannot be referred to Christs personall coming on the earth to reign a thousand years.
[ 4] Fourthly, it is said here, that Christ should come as a Thiefe, But the day of the Lord will •ome as a Thiefe in the Night, in the which the Heavens shall passe away with a great noyse, &c. That Epithet is referred to his coming to judge the world, to his last coming, and not to any other coming, 1 Thess. 5. 2. For your selves know perfectly that the day of the Lord cometh as a Thiefe in the Night. But if Christ should come to reigne upon the Earth, then he cometh visible, and observable, Mat. 33. 44. But know this, that if the good man of the house had knowne in what watch the Thiefe would come, hee would have watched and would not have suffered his house to bee broken up. Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an houre, as you thinke not, the Sonne of man cometh, Rovel. 16. 15. Behold, I come as a Thiefe: Blessed is hee that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walke naked, and they see his shame.
[ 5] Fifthly, and this Divines stand much upon: it is said, wee according to his promise looke for new Heavens, and a new Earth, wherein dwels righteousnesse. That the dwelling of a righteousnesse here, doth not imply that such a thing shall bee on the new Earth, but the dwelling of righteousnesse referres to righteous men, not to heaven or earth, the Greeke word cleares it plainely, it is a word in the Plurall Number. Therefore it is referred to the Earth, which is in the Singular Number; Therefore Divines say, from the Originall, 2 Peter 3. 13.〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. •e in whom •wels righteousnesse, look for a new Heaven, and a new Earth. So that the dwelling of righteousnesse, it is not to be interpreted as referring to the Earth, but that righteousnesse should dwell in men; wee read of none being on the Earth, wherein dwells righteousnesse. Thus much for that other Scripture, Wee looke for new Heavens and a new Earth.
A third Scripture, and that they deeme to have some strength in too; In Daniel 2. 44. And in the daies of these Kings shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdome, which shall never bee destroyed, and the Kingdome shall not bee left to other People, but it shall breake in pieces, and consume all these Kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Now beloved, to give you the scope of the Text, take these answers.
[ 1] First, It is true that a Kingdome is given by God to Jesus Christ, and that Kingdome was given by God to Christ while hee was here upon the Earth in the forme of a servant, and this Luke tells you, Chap. 1. vers. 32, 33. Hee shall bee great, and shall bee called the Son of the highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the Throne of his Father David, and hee shall reigne over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his Kingdome there shall be no end. So that Jesus Christ had a Kingdom, and he is now King of Kings, and Lord of Lords in heaven.
[ 2] Secondly, it is said here, that this Kingdome it was begun in the daies of those Kings. Now whose daies doth this Text speake of? It speakes of those that divided Alexanders Kingdome, who overcame the Medes and Persians, it was divided betweene Ptolomy Lagides King of Egypt, Zeleuchus King of Assyria; In that time Jesus Christ did set up a Kingdome, for he was born King of the Jewes.
Thirdly, it is apparent that this cannot bee referred to Christs Kingdom in this world for a thousand yeares. Because it cannot bee said that it should bee a Kingdome for ever and ever, for a Kingdome for a thousand yeares cannot bee said to bee a Kingdome for ever and ever, but it is said in Daniel, It shall bee for ever and ever.
A fourth Scripture, is in Eph. 5. 5. For this yee know, that no Whoremonger, nor Uncleane person, nor Covetous Man, who is an Idolater, hath any inheritance in the Kingdome of Christ, and of God. And this Text Gerrard quotes and doth well resolve it, they say there is not only a Kingdome of God that is Heaven, but the Scripture doth make mention of a Kingdome of Christ, as a Kingdome of God; Therefore they build on this Christs reigne, and of having a Kingdome here upon earth.
[ 1] First, I answer, it is true, Christ hath a Kingdome, but hee saith expresly, that his Kingdome is not of this world, John 18. 36. Jesus answered, my Kingdom is not of this world. &c.
[ 2] Secondly, though it be said here that there is a Kingdome of Christ, yet it is not expressed to be upon the Earth, for a 1000 yeares.
[ 3] Thirdly, this Kingdome of Christ Interpreters refer it to the same with the Kingdome of God, and to bee meant exegetically.
[ 5] A fifth Text they have, is in Mat. 26. 29. But I say unto you, I will not drinke henceforth of this fruit of the Vine, untill that day when I drinke it new with you in my Fathers Kingdome. Alsted quotes, from thence they gather, it cannot bee meant of Heaven, why? because there is no eating and drinking there; here is a promise by Jesus Christ, to come to them no more, till he would drinke with them Wine in his Fathers Kingdome, and it cannot bee unlesse Christ doth come in person amongst his people; and have a Kingdome to eat and drinke with his people in this World. This they stand much upon.
Take these clear answers to these Quotations.
[ 1] First, this cannot be meant of a Kingdome in this world for a thousand yeares, my reason is this, because the Kingdome which is Christs personall reigne, should bee called Christs Kingdome, and not his Fathers Kingdom, it should have been called my Kingdome, and not my Fathers Kingdome, that is one Answer that Divines give.
[ 2] Secondly, observe this, that this may referre to that time between Christs Resurrection and Ascension, for after Christ did rise from the dead, you know hee did continue forty daies upon the Earth, and the Scripture telleth you, in Luke 24. 42. And they gave him a piece of broyled Fish, and of a hony-combe, and hee tooke it and did eat before them. So he may as well drinke and eate, but that to me is somewhat uncertaine.
[ 3] Thirdly, which is the true scope of this place; I will not drinke henceforth of this fruit of the Vine, untill that day when I drinke it with you in my Fathers K•ngdome: he was taking the Lords Supper, and was drinking the cup of Wine, saith hee, I am going away and will drinke no more till wee meet in Heaven, not that there should bee Eating and Drinking in Heaven, but when you and I meete, wee shall have sweet fellowship and communion together, as is in Eating and drinking together; As Feasting is a badge of communion, and of Love, so there shall be endeared love and endeared communion with Christ in Heaven: you shall drinke it new, not new Wine, nor eat new Bread, but after a new manner of Love and communion, they should expresse Love each to other, and have everlasting communion one with another.
They say likewise that there shall bee no sinne in the world, and that the Earth shall bee restored to its primitive fruitfulnesse as it were before the fall, but I shall not middle with these. And thus according unto my poore measure I have laboured to lay down the grounds from Scripture, why Christ cannot come to reigne personally upon the Earth a thousand yeares, and have vindicated those Scriptures that seeme to patronize that Opinion.
[Use.] Is it so, that the Scripture doth not determine of any coming of Christ out of Heaven till his last, and great coming to judge the world? O then labour to make it your worke to have Jesus Christ as King to reign in your hearts by mortification, to rule in thy Heart by his Spirit, to mortifie thy head-strong lusts that are in thee.
[ 2] Secondly, Seeing there is no coming of Christ as King in this world, then labour to have Christ to reign in his Church by a well-ordered Discipline, that the Government of Christ may be established in the places where you dwell.
[ 3] Thirdly, Seeing there is no coming of Christ as King in this world; then doe not trouble your selves with Niceties, and Obscurities about his coming upon the Earth, but labour to be fitted and prepared for his last and great coming.
[ 4] Fourthly, if Christ should come to reigne upon the Earth (which the Scripture no waies speakes of) then certainely the Saints of these times do make but a bad preparative for Christs reigne, that doe impale Saintship, and monopolize Saint-ship unto themselves, and say they are the people of God, the church of Christ, and the Saints of Christ, and they make but a bad preparation for Christs coming, to live in sensuality as they doe, and commit such wickednesses as they do upon the Earth.
This is but a bad preparation, and but poor encouragement to Jesus Christ to come and reigne amongst such Saints as these are, which indeed are a scandall to Saints, a scandall to Religion, and would bee a scandall to that thousand yeares of Christ, if he should come to reigne, but Christ will have better Saints then these are to reigne with him.
In treating of the Doctrine of Christs coming againe, the other Quere is this, how or after what manner shall this coming of Christ be? But I will come again.
Now in the resolving of this question, I shal confine my answers to these six particulars.
[ 2] Secondly, he shall come personally.
[ 3] Thirdly, he shall come visibly.
[ 4] Fourthly, he shall come gloriously.
[ 5] Fifthly, he shall come terribly.
[ 6] And sixthly, he shall come unexpectedly.
These wayes the Scripture doth furnish you with severall hints touching his coming.
[ 1] First, the Lord Jesus shall come certainly, Christs coming is to bee numbred among poeticall Fictions, or with the delusion of Mahomet, the certainty of Christs coming againe is built on these three foundations.
[ 1] First, it is built on the immutability of Gods decree Acts 17. 31. Because hee hath appointed a day, in the which hee will judge the World in righteousnesse, by that man whom he hath ordained, wherof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that hee hath raised him from the Dead. The immutability of Gods decree doth prove the certainty of Christs coming, God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world.
[ 2] Secondly, the certainty doth stand upon the infallibility of Christs promise, Mat. 26. 64. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said, neverthelesse I say unto you, Hereafter shall yee see the Sonne of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven, there is Christs promise, to which three of the Evangelists doe concurre.
[ 3] Thirdly, the certainty of his coming is grounded upon the impartiality of his Justice, here every man hath not right, and in Solomons, phrase, a just man perisheth in his uprightnesse, and a wicked man prolongeth his dayes in wickednesse; therefore to shew Gods impartiality; there must bee a coming of the Sonne of man to judge the world righteously. The Doctrine of Christs coming is impugned by Atheists, therefore you read what Peter tells you, 2 Peter 3. 3, 4. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts and saying, where is the promise of his coming? For since the Fathers fell asleepe, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the Creation. And wee read of the men of Athens, they questioned this, and would not beleeve this, For Christ coming to judge the world, Acts 17. 32. And when they heard of the Resurrection of the dead, some mocked, and others said, wee will heare thee againe of this matter. Of old time, in the times of Jesus Christ or soone after, men did mocke at this Doctrine, that the dead shall rise, and Christ should come to judge both the quick and the dead; Herein Gerrard, reckons up abundance of Sects, as the Floriani, the Dosithiani, the Symmachiani, and many others: Indeed there is one Scripture that these Atheists do abuse in making it to deny the coming of Christ to judgement, Joh. 8. 15. Ye judge after the flesh, I judge no man.
But Beloved, to this Text that they make use of, to to shake this great Pillar of our hopes, the coming of Christ againe, take these two Answers, when Christ saith, I judge no man, that is, I judge no man with a rash and heady judgement, as you judge men that are not of your Opinion, you judge things rashly and inconsideratly, but I judge no man as you doe, so Austine, in his 36. Tract on John, gives it to bee the sence of the place, it doth not exclude Christ from judging the world at the last day, but from judging of men as the Pharisees, to wit, rashly and inconsideratly.
[ 2] Secondly, Christ doth here speake, what was not the end of his first coming in the flesh, but the end of his second coming was to judge all men, but I judge no man, that is, it was not the intent or the end of my first coming in the flesh to judge men, John 3. When God sent his Sonne to bee borne of a Virgin, hee did not send him to judge the world, but to save the world, hee reserved his judging of the world till his last coming. John 12. 47, 48. And if any man heare my words, and beleeve not, I judge him not, for I come not to judge the world, but to save the world. Hee that rejecteth mee, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him, the words that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. The end of my first coming was not to judge, it was to bee judged; and to be condemned by Pontius Pilate, and to dye the cursed death. And that is the end of Christs first coming, that is the first particular, hee shall come certainly.
Secondly, Christ shal not only come certainly, but he shal come personally; It was the great mistake of Origen, though hee holds for the coming of Christ againe, that hee pleades for the coming of Christ in spirit, therefore that Text where it is said, you shall see the Sonne of Man coming in the Clouds of Heaven, Origen understands by the Cloudes, to bee the Saints, because it is mentioned in Scripture, that the Beleevers are called a cloud of witnesses. Now this is to pervert the whole letter of the Bible, and turne all the Scripture into an Allegory and Metaphoricall sense; Now in opposition of that, I lay downe a second property, that Christs coming shall bee a personall coming out of Heaven, but the Scripture doth not speake of Christs coming on the Earth, but no further then the Aire, Christ in his Body shall come personally out of Heaven. Now to prove this second property, or second manner or way of Christs coming, there are two Texts of Scripture to confirme it. 1 Thess. 4. 17. Then wee which are alive, and remaine, shall bee caught up together with them in the clouds, to meete the Lord in the Aire, and so shall wee ever bee with the Lord, vers. 16. For the Lord himselfe shall descend with a shout from Heaven, &c. If it had been Christ in his spirit, then it would have been said, the Lord by his spirit shall descend, But the Lord himselfe shall descend from Heaven with a shout, it notes his personall coming out of Heaven, that whereas Jesus Christ had a personall translation, and as Christ had a visible Elevation, he was in the eyes of his Disciples lifted up, so Christ shall bodily descend and come out from Heaven, the Lord himselfe, &c. Therefore it cannot bee the Lord by his spirit, Acts 1. 11. Which also said, yee men of Galilee, why stand yee gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner, as yee have seen him goe into Heaven. The same Jesus that you saw Ascend, shall descend, so that it cannot bee Christ in his spirit, but in his person. I onely mention this to confute those that follow the conceit of Origen, meerly to make Christs coming to be but a spiritual coming, a coming in the hearts of Saints.
[ 3] Thirdly, his coming it shall be visibly, Acts 1. 11. This same Jesus which is taken up from you into Heaven shall so come in like manner, as ye have seen him go into Heaven. That as Christs going up to Heaven bodily was visible, so Christs coming out of Heaven shall be visible Mat. 26. 64. Hereafter shall yee see the Sonne of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds. Indeed Christ did rise invisibly, for no man saw Christ rise from the dead, but Christ shall descend visibly, you shall see the Sonne of man, &c. Mat. 24. 30. And then shall appeare the signe of the Sonne of man in Heaven, and then shall all the Tribes of the Earth mourne, and they shall see the Sonne of man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory. All men shall see the glory of Jesus Christ, the wicked shall see him to their Amazement and consternation, and the godly shall see him to their joy and consolation,
[ 4] Fourthly, Christs coming shall bee gloriously, and there shall bee many things that shall make the coming of Christ to bee a glorious coming, hee shall come in the clouds, these glorious bodies shall bee the triumphant and swift Chariots of the sonne of God, wherein hee will come to judge the world; and his Atendance shall make him glorious, Daniel 7. 10. A fiery streame issued, and came forth from before him, thousand thousands ministred unto him; and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him, the judgement was set, and the bookes where opened, Jude 14. and Enoch also the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his Saints. And in 2 Thess. 1. 7. And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall bee revealed from Heaven, with his mighty Angels. O then behold the clouds to be the Triumphant Chariots of Christ, the Innumerable company of Saints and Angels to bee attendants on the person of Christ to come to judge the world, and that is the reason that hee is called so glorious, Mat. 24. 30. And they shall see the Sonne of man coming in the clouds of Heaven, with power and great glory. Mat. 16. 27. For the Sonne of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his Angels. Luk. 9. 26. For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Sonne of man bee ashamed, when hee shall come in his own glory, & in his Fathers, and of the Holy Angels. And that is the reason of that Epithet given to Christs coming Titus 2. 13. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Now beloved, Christs coming to have this property or this manner, the reason must bee to distinguish his second coming from his first coming; to take off the contempt and reproach that was on Jesus Christ in his first coming, and he shall come in glory in the second coming.
[ 1] First, wee read in Scripture, that Christs first coming it was in the forme of a servant, Phil. 2. 7. But made himselfe of no reputation, and tooke upon him the forme of a servant, and was made in the likenesse of men. Now in the second coming, hee comes with that glory and Majesty of a King. In the first coming, hee had no reasonable creature to attend him, at the second coming hee shall have all the Saints and Angels in Heaven to attend him. At his first coming hee was swadled with swadling bands, but at this second coming he shall be as it were cloathed with the Clouds of Heaven.
Againe, his first coming it was in dishonour and contempt, every Traveller had more honour then Jesus Christ, for the Inne was for every Traveller, but there was no roome for Christ there, hee was borne in an outhouse; but his second coming shall bee in great glory.
Againe, in his first coming, Christ representing the persons of the Elect came with sin imputed to him, and was the greatest Beggar in the world, as Luther saith and the greatest sinner in the world, not by way of inherence but by way of imputation; therefore Luther calleth him Peccator maximus, the greatest sinner: Christ incoming into the the world, had all the sinnes of the Elect of God imputed to him; so hee came as a sinner, as an evill person, though hee was not so, yet hee was looked upon as so; But the second time, hee shall come without sinne, hee shall not have our sinnes by imputation cast on him, because when hee comes againe hee shall make a totall Abolition of sinne; Therefore, there needs no impution of our sinnes upon Jesus Christ. Thus you have a fourth way of his coming, he shall come Gloriously.
[ 5] A fifth way of Christs coming againe, is this, he shall come terribly; In Isaiah 13. 9. Behold the day of the Lord cometh, cruell both with wrath and fierce Anger, to lay the Land desolate, and hee shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. Revel. 6. 17. For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall bee able to stand? the coming of Jesus Christ, it is a terrible coming, that is a fifth way of his coming.
[ 6] Sixthly and lastly, Christ shall come unexpectedly; though it is true, there shall be immediate warnings of his coming, as the powers of Heaven shall be shaken, the Sun, Moon, and Starrs shall bee darkned, but that shall bee but a little before his coming: but beloved, the coming of Christ shall bee when men are not aware of it, as in the dayes of Noah, men were eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage when the flood come and destoyed them, so shall the Sonne of man come. Christs coming shall then bee to burne all with fire, when men shall bee eating and drinking, possessing, and adding muck to muck, when men are secure and never thinke of Christs coming to burn all with fire; then the powers of Heaven shall be shaken, and the world be set on fire. Hence it is that you read in Scripture in five or six places, Christs coming it shall be as a Thiefe in the night; a Thiefe will come in the dead time of the Night, as Christ said to his Disciples, in Luke 21. 34. The coming of Christ it is an unexpected coming, thus you have six Particulars of Christs coming.
[Use.] Now a word of Application. Having shewed you how this Doctrine of Christs coming, it is a Doctrine of comfort, I shall finish this point in shewing you how this Doctrine of Christs coming, is a Doctrine of terrour and of dread, and to whom. It is observeable that the word is not compared onely to Milke and Honey, but the word is compared also to Salt, which also hath an efficacy to make smart. Beloved, you have heard the Hony of this Doctrine, what great comfort it will afford to Godly men, but remember the word is Salt also, and it is of a smart efficacy to terrifie and fret the conscience.
Now the Doctrine of Christs coming, it is a terrible Doctrine in these four things.
To all wicked men Christs coming again it is a terrible Doctrine, because first al the secretst sins that ever a wicked man hath committed in this world, they shal be made manifest to all. I confesse it is a contest among learned men, whether the sinnes of good men as well as bad shall not be known, and there are strong arguments that all shall be made known, but the Scripture is full in this, that at the day of Judgement, the sinnes that a wicked man hath done in this world, shall bee published to all the Saints and Angels in Heaven, and all the men that were on Earth. It may bee thou goest for an honest man amongst thy Neighbours, yet thou lovest thy Neighbours wife, and goest in unto her; if thou hast been so, or thou hast deceived in thy Trade, why for all thy secresie here, yet then all the world shall know thy deceit and uncleannes; it is built upon that Text, Luk. 8. 17. For nothing is secret, that shall not bee made manifest, neither any thing hid, that shall not be knowne, and come abroad. Here a thousand things are hid that men do not know, here thou carriest it fairly, and squarely in the world, that men cannot say, black is thine Eye; but then they may say shame to thy Face; this is dreadfull.
[ 2] Secondly, Christs coming it shall bee dreadfull in regard of thy Separation from all the Elect of God. In Mat. 25. 32. 33. And before him shal be gathered all Nations, and hee shall separate them one from another, as a Shepherd divideth his sheepe from the Goates. And hee shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the Goates on the left. Here thou art mingled, it may bee thou livest in the same house with a godly man, and lyest in the same bed with a godly man, but remember a parting time is coming, that as the Shepherd parteth the Sheepe from the Goats, so doth Christ part the wicked from the godly.
[ 3] Thirdly, Christs coming againe it is dreadfull to wicked men, in regard it shall be the time of the promulgation of thy Sentence. A Thiefe in Newgate is a miserable creature, a Thiefe at Bar is in a sad condition, but a Thiefe when the Sentence of death is past upon him, then hee is in a hopelesse condition. O thou wicked man, at thy dying day thou art a Malefactor, but at thy Sentence giving thou art an undone man, thou art in a hopelesse condition.
[ 4] Fourthly, Christs coming it is the time of the reuniting of thy body and soule together, and of thy taking possession of Hell: when thy body and soule that have been so many hundred yeares parted shall come to meet together, and your meeting to bee but a going into Infernall torments, this makes the coming of Christ to be a dreadfull coming.
I, but you will say, it is true indeed, A Felix may tremble when Paul shall Preach to him of Judgement to come, but have wee Christians cause of feare? Yes, you that are Christians, in case you bee found under these particulars, that I am now naming to you, the day of Judgement will be dreadfull to you.
[ 1] First, The Doctrine of Christs coming may make men tremble, who are guilty of Acts of Oppression and Violence in Courts of Judicature, Eccle. 3. 16, 17. And moreover, I saw under the Sun the place of Judgement, that wickednesse was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in my heart, God shall judge the righteous, and the wicked, for there is a time for every purpose, and every worke. That is, to judge every purpose and every worke. When God shall come to places of Judgement and places of Judicature, and shall say, wickednesse is there, and shall say bribery is there, and the deferring of the cause of the poor is there, woe bee to all Oppressions of the poore, and grinding their Faces in Courts of Judicature, many whereof are Seats of violence and not Courts of Judicature, Christ shall come to judge things that men will not judge; men will not judge Adulterers, but whoremongers and Adulterers God will judge. Men will not judge men for Heresie, but God will judge them, Christs coming is dreadfull to all men that live by Oppression and Violence in Courts of judicature.
[ 2] Secondly, Christs coming to judgement is dreadfull to all them, who to save their worldly advantage, are ashamed to professe the Gospell of Christ. O! Christs coming is a dreadfull time to these. In Mark 8. 38. Whosoever therefore shall bee ashamed of mee and of my words, in this Adulterous and sinfull Generation, of him also shall the Son of man bee ashamed, when hee cometh in the glory of his Father, with the Holy Angels. I pray you marke, here are two answers to an Objection in these words. First, men might say, why blessed Jesus, who would bee ashamed of thee? if Christ were on the Earth wee would never bee ashamed of Christ; Therefore Christ addes, whosoever is ashamed of mee and of my words: though you might not bee ashamed of Christs person, yet you might bee ashamed of his words. Then men may Object and say, why truly if it were a peaceable time, a safe time to professe Christ; but what, when wee live in a wicked place, and among a wicked people, will not Christ bear with us, to hold down our heads a little, and to sleep in a whole Skin? no, saith Christ, whosoever shall be ashamed of mee and of my words in this Adulterous and sinfull Generation, of him also shall the Sonne of man, &c. Let the place bee never so bad, thou must not bee ashamed of Jesus Christ, and his words: if thou beest, the Son of man shall bee ashamed of thee, when hee comes with the glory of his father. Christs coming is dreadfull to all you, who are ashamed to professe Iesus Christ in a sinfull and Adulterous age and place, wherein you live, I shall leave it to you to make Application.
[ 3] Thirdly, Christs coming to Judgement is dreadfull to all those who spend their dayes in sensuality and ryot, Christs coming is terrible to them, Luke 21. 34. And take heed to your selves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfetting and drunkennesse, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. Men that live in ryot and excesse, and sensuality, they doe but pamper their flesh and feed themselves, to make themselves a sweeter morsell both for wormes and Devill, Christs coming will be a dreadfull time for them.
[ 4] Fourthly, Christs coming will bee dreadfull to all those, who beare not a sincere love to Iesus Christ. Wilt thou marke one scripture, 1 Cor. 16. 22. If any man love not the Lord Iesus Christ, let him bee Anathema Maranatha. There is much of Gods mind in this darke expression, If any man love not the Lord Iesus Christ, let him bee an accursed man, that is the meaning of the word Anathema; but the other word Maranatha, it is a word compounded of two words, and it beares this sense, Maran signifies a Lord, and Atha signifies venit, hee comes; so then when the Scripture saith, hee that loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him bee an accursed man; Let him bee Maran Atha, when the Lord Jesus shall come to judge the word, let Christ then curse him that doth not love him. O then I beseech you thinke this with your selves, that all you who doe not beare a sincere love to Jesus Christ when hee comes, his coming shall be with a curse, a curse to Hell and damnation to all such.
[ 5] Fifthly, Christs coming will bee dreadfull to all them who doe obstinately refuse subjection and obedience to the Gospell of Jesus Christ, 2 Thess. 1▪ 7, 8. And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall bee revealed from Heaven with his mighty Angels, in flaming fire, taking vengence on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospell of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christs coming it wil be in flaming fire to take vengeance on all such.
[ 6] Sixthly, Christs coming it will be dreadfull to them that doe live and dye raylers against Religion; those who scoffe and jeare at godlinesse, Christs coming will bee a dreadfull coming to all wicked men, Jude 15. To execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly amongst them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. I doe wish it were engraven befere the Eyes of all wicked raylers. There is many a rayling Rabshakeh, and many a cursing Shimei which hath uttered many a hard speech against the people of God; they accuse one man to bee an hypocrite for carrying of a Bible under his Arme, another man to bee an hypocrite for shedding a teare in his Sermon: O you are the men that Christ will come to execute Judgement upon, to convince you of your hard speeches.
[ 7] Seventhly, to unmercifull men Christs coming is a dreadfull time, Iames 2. 13. For hee shall have Iudgement without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy, Christs coming to judgement shall bee a time of thy having of judgement without mercy, that shewest no mercy; In Mat. 25. 41, 42, 43. Then shall hee say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me yee cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Divill and his Angels. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meate, I was Thirsty, and yee gave mee no Drinke; I was a stranger, and yee tooke mee not in, naked and yee cloathed mee not, sick and in Prison, and yee visited mee not. Austin hath a good glosse upon this Text, saith hee, If that man shall goe to Hell, that will not give another man Bread when hee is an hungry! O then to what a hel shal that man go to which takes away Bread from the hungry man And if that man shall go to Hell that will not cloath the naked, O then to what a Hel shall that man go to that taketh cloathes off the necessitous mans back! And if that man shall goe to Hell that will not visit men that are in Prison, O then to what a Hell shall that man goe to, that casts godly men into Prison! Now beloved, I beseech you take heed that you bee not men wanting bowels of mercy towards your distressed Brethren, you are to expect judgement without mercy, that shew no mercy.
[ 8] Eightly, to those that live and die in their sinne of uncleannesse and lusts of the flesh, Christs coming it will be a dreadfull day to them; Therefore you read that God will judge Adulterers, hee will judge a Drunkard, hee will judge a swearer, hee will judge a Sabbath-breaker, yet particularly Whoremongers and Adulterers, he will judge. Heb. 13. 4. But whoremongers, and Adulterers God will judge. King Henry the 8. was a lascivious Prince, and old Latimer sent him a Token, a Bible, and about the Bible was written, whoremongers and Adulterers God will judge; it was to terrifie him. There is a strange Text, 2 Pet. 2. 9. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly, out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of Judgement to hee punished; But chiefly them that walke after the flesh in the lust of uncleannesse. Here is a chiefly for them, God will punish every unjust man, but God reserves them to the day of Judgement, chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleannesse, &c. Doe I speak to men that may have this chiefly applyed to them? O take heed that thou doest not fall under the righteous judgement of God, that thou beest not entangled in that sin, that will make the Lord judge thee chiefly.
[ 9] Ninthly and lastly, Christs coming againe is dreadfull to all men, who strengthen themselves by popular tumults and insurrections; In opposing and destroying of a lawfull Magistracy, that have destroyed Judges, Rulers, Governments, it will bee a woefull time to them, 2 Pet. 2. 9, 10. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of Temptations, and to reserve the unjust to the day of judgement to bee punished. But chiefly them that walke after the flesh in the lust of uncleannesse, and despise Government, Presumptuous are they, selfe-willed, they are not afraid to speake evill of Dignities. Men that under pretence of power and the like, shall trample down Rule, Government, Authority, and Dignity; the Lord hath another day to judge them that will not bee judged here, hee will judge them with a chiefly. And thus I have done with the third Doctrine.
I am now to make entrance into the fourth Fundamentall Doctrine in these words, And receive you to my selfe.
[ 1] These words containe in them that great Fundamentall point touching the Resurrection of mans Body, that not onely the Soule shall goe to Heaven, but also the bodies of the godly men shall goe to Heaven, Christ shal come out of heaven for this end, to receive the bodies as well as the Soules unto himselfe. I will come again and receive you unto my selfe.
There is some difference betweene a few Interpreters touching the sense of these words; one carrieth it this way; that here the promise of Christs coming made a little before hee was to die, referreth not to the last coming; but they referre it to that forty daies that hee was upon the Earth, after his resurrection to the Ascension; they say, that this promise was accomplished, when Christ after his resurrection did come to his Disciples, and did eate a broyled Fish with them, and stayed forty daies with them. Why? what comfort would this bee to the Disciples to thinke of Christs going away and coming againe, and stay but forty daies, and then bee seen no more? this would have made them the more sorrowfull, that they should never have seen him more. Here are two or three reasons from the Text, why that cannot bee the sense of the place, because here was a promise before that hee was going to his Fathers House to receive them there; Now that living upon the Earth forty daies after his Resurrection, cannot bee his Fathers House; this cannot therefore bee meant of Christs coming againe at that time to them. Againe, that it is said, where hee was to goe; hee was to prepare a place for them, now if his meaning had been that hee would come againe at forty daies, it should have been an Earthly place that hee had prepared for them: But the current of Interpreters, seeing the weaknesse of that, gives many consequent reasons why it must necessarily be referred to Christs last coming, and everlasting receiving of them, when the Body shall bee raised, and at that coming he hath promised the Elect, that hee will receive them unto himselfe; as if hee should have said, though I leave your bodies behind mee in the world for a season, though they may bee mangled and massacred by cruell persecutors, and though you may bee without my bodily presence for a while, yet I doe not goe to Heaven to stay there for ever, but I promise you, I will come againe, and then I will take you into Heaven with mee. They would faine have had Christ to have received them into Heaven, and that they might have gone with him. The Disciples when they heard Christ speake of going to his Fathers house, they were all on fire to go with Christ into Heaven: O no, saith Christ, I will come againe to judge the world, and then I will receive your very bodies into Heaven with mee, that as my body is in Heaven, so your bodies shall bee there also with me.
The Observation is this, that it is one great end of Christs coming again for to receive the bodies of all the Elect unto himselfe into Heaven with him, I come again and receive you unto my selfe. I shall not follow the common place in handling the Resurrection of the body, I shall onely handle this point practically, in shewing you what the happinesse of the Elect of God is in their bodies as well as their Soules; Now because this Text is made use of to pervert many Scriptures, I shall handle this practicall Question before I come to handle the Doctrine.
[Quest.] The Question is this, that seeing Jesus Christ doth only promise that hee will receive the Elect unto himselfe at his coming againe; Then what becomes of all the godly immediately after death, before Christs coming againe to judgement? Those that hold for the sleeping of the Soule, on this Text doe ground that there is no receiving, neither one or other, the one to life, the other to death, the wicked are not tormented till then, nor the godly glorified till then; Therefore it is needfull, that seeing Christ doth here speake of receiving them unto himselfe, not till his coming, to shew what becomes of the Souls of dead Men, before the coming of Christ.
[Answ.] Before I give you the Answer, take this distinction; There is a twofold receiving.
[ 1] First, There is a partiall and incompleat receiving, and this is done immediately after death, that when the soule doth depart from the body, the soule is received by Jesus Christ into Heaven, and that is the reason of those Speeches in Acts 7. There is a receiving them before Christs coming, and this is called a partiall and incompleat reception, it is only a receiving of the spirit and not of the body.
[ 2] Secondly, there is a totall and compleat reception both of the body and soule into glory, and it is this that the Text here speakes of: though it is true, there is not a totall reception of a beleever till Christs coming to judgement, yet there is a partiall reception; I doe not now speak to those that say the soul is mortall, and that it shall never live after the death of the body, but to those that say the soule shall sleep and the soul doth perish with the body untill the Resurrection. Now against these that plead for the sleeping of the soule till Christs coming againe, take these four waies how to strengthen you.
[ 1] First, there are pregnant instances in Scripture that after the godly die, their souls are received into heaven before Christ comes.
[ 2] Secondly, there are generall expressions in the Scripture, as well as particular instances to prove this.
[ 3] Thirdly, there are expresse passages in the Scripture to confirme this.
[ 4] Fourthly, there are absurd inconsequences that will arise in case it should be denied.
[ 1] First, there are Pregnant instances, or examples in the Scripture to prove that after death the soule is received into Heaven. Take three instances. First, that knowne, Text, Luke 23. 43. And Jesus said unto him, verily, I say unto thee. To day thou shall bee with mee in Paradise. That day Christ dyed, that day Christ went to Heaven, therefore that day the soul of that converted thiefe did go to Heaven.
Now beloved; there are two Evasions that those, who plead for the soules cessation, for the soules sleeping, make to avoide this Text, and take off this Instance.
[ 1] First, is, by altering the comma or stop in the Text, and read it thus, I say unto thee this day, thou shalt bee with mee in Paradise, that to day, they doe not refer it that the Thiefe should be in Paradise. Peter Martyr doth give two answers to this Evasion.
First, saith hee, it is not safe to alter a comma, or stop in Scripture, for so you may pervert the Scripture, and make it speake what it never meant, if men at their pleasure disagreeing from all Copies, alter comma’s in the translation.
Another Answer, that it appeares this cannot bee the sense of it, to referre to day to the time that Christ spake, and not the time that the thiefe should bee in Heaven; for saith Gerrard, marke the thiefs prayer in ver 42. And hee said unto Jesus, Lord, remember mee when thou comest into thy Kingdome. Marke, there is the thiefs when, that when Christ should come to Heaven. Christ should remember him. Christs Hodie must answer to his Quando, or else hee did not answer his prayer. Christs to day, must answer the thiefs when, that when Christ came to Heaven▪ then to remember the thiefe. And Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.
[ 3] Thirdly, it is needlesse for Christ to say to day, to tell him the time when hee spake, hee knew Christ spake to him then, but to speak of the time when the thiefe should bee in Heaven, it was needfull, I say to thee this day thou shalt be with me in Heaven.
[ 2] The second Evasion is this. It is true, Christ promised, thou shalt bee with mee in Paradise, but Christ doth not say, thou shalt be with me in Heaven.
There are three answers to confute this Evasion,
[ 1] First, that those that will not by Paradise understand Heaven by this Text, they then fall in with the Papists, either for Purgatory, or a Limbus Patrum.
[ 2] Secondly, take this answer, that in other Scriptures when Paradise is mentioned, it is to be understood Heaven, and so the Apostle doth expound it, 2 Cor. 12. 2, 4, I knew a man in Christ, above fourteene yeares agoe, whether in the body I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth, such an one caught up to the third Heaven. How that hee was caught up into Paradise, and beard unspeakable words, which it is not lawfull for a man to utter. So that the Apostle by Paradise doth meane Heaven, Revel. 2. 7. Hee that hath an eare let him heare what the Spirit saith unto the Churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eate of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. That is, he shall enjoy Jesus Christ, Christ in Heaven is the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God, [ 3] Thirdly, it cannot be any Earthly Paradise, as the Paradise Adam was in before his fall, for the Earthly Paradise was destroyed by the Flood, therfore of necessity when Christ tells the thiefe, To day thou shalt bee with mee in Paradise, it must referre to the thiefes going to Heaven at that day with Jesus Christ.
[ 2] A second instance it is in Luke 16. 22. And it came to passe that the Begger dyed, and was carried by the Angels into Ahrahams bosom; the rich man also dyed and was buried. This is another instance, that the souls of the elect after death they goe to Heaven.
There are two Evasions made upon this Text.
[ 1] First, they say, that this Text it is a parable, and not an Historicall Narration.
To this I answer, though some men doe say it is a Parable, yet many say it is a History. Jerome and many following him doth give many arguments to prove, that it was a History, and not a parable. And Tertullian is confident that this is an exact History of what was really done; And Peter Martyr doth quote Tertullian; saith hee, Tertullian is so confident that this is a History, that hee undertakes to tell you who were the men, saith hee, the Rich man was Herod, and the Beggar was John the Baptist. But Suppose it be a parable and not a History, yet parables doe carry the resemblance of truth, parables take their Foundations from truth, that there are some men in Hell, & some men in Heaven, that in Hell there is torment and in heaven there is joy, that as the beggar went to Heaven after death, so shall the godly, and as the rich man went to Hell, so shall all the wicked.
The other Evasion is this, that this beggar is said to be carried into Abrahams bosome; I answer, First, it is more then probable that Abrahams bosome is Heaven; now Abraham being in heaven all his children are in Heaven, that are in his bosome: that is the answer that Gerrard gives.
Againe, it is said, that they are carried by Angels into Abrahams bosome; therefore Abrahams bosom must be in Heaven: certainly the good Angels carry a good soule into Heaven, and the wicked Angels carry a damned soule into Hell, and thus you have two instances, that immediately after death the soules of the Elect go to Heaven.
[ 3] A third instance is in Mat. 22. 31, 32. But as touching the Resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. I argue from that instance that therfore Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were living at that time, though not in their bodies; if you marke the reason of that Text, it was not to prove a Resurrection of the body only, which the Sadduces deny, but also to prove the immortality of the soule. The Sadduces deny Spirits and Angels too, Acts 23. 8. For the Sadduces say that there is no Resurrection, neither Angell nor Spirit, but the Pharisees confesse both. Christ doth prove that there shall bee a Resurrection of the body, and hee likewises proves that the soule doth not dye when the body dyeth. Indeed there is a quotation that I have read of a learned man that doth make use of this instance, Gen. 25. 8. Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and dyed in a good old age, an old man, and full of yeares, and was gathered to his people. Abraham was not gathered to his Fathers, nor to be gathered in the grave where his fore-fathers were, how then can this be true that the Scripture saith, Abraham was gathered unto his Fathers? Divines say, it must be in his soule, that Abraham went to heaven as his godly fore-fathers went, that is the meaning of that phrase, his soule was to be bound up in the bundle of Life, to go to Heaven as their fore-fathers did. And thus much for particular instances.
[ 2] The second way to prove that the soules of the Elect men goe to Heaven immediately after death; It is by generall expressions in Scripture. Two generall passages, one is in Heb. 12. 23. To the generall Assembly, and Church of the first borne, which are writen in Heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the Spirits of just men made perfect: thence I argue, that Apostle makes mention, and proves that there were the Spirits of just men made perfect; Now if their Soules did perish with their bodies, then the Apostle should say, that their Spirits are annihilated with the body, but it is the spirits of just men made perfect; The Scripture takes notice in generall expressions that just men have their Soules made perfect. And then in Eccle. 12. 7. Then shall the dust returne to the Earth, as it was, and the Spirit shall return to God who gave it. Marke, here are two things
Here is the end of Godly men, the body shall goe to the dust, and the soule to God. Then the time when it shal be is, when that man goeth to his long home, when the keepers of the house shall tremble, that is the hands, and armes; and the strong men shall bow themselves, that is, the feet and the thighs; and the grinders shall cease, that is, the teeth; and they that looke out at the windowes shall bee darkened, that is, the eyes; when nature decayes and the body perisheth by Diseases and dyes, then shall the body go to the dust, and the Spirit to God that gave it.
[ 3] Thirdly, I shall prove it to you from expresse passages in the Scripture that doe confirme this, that the soules of the Elect after death before Christs coming are received into heaven, for this I will give foure or five expresse Scriptures.
[ 1] The first is in Iohn 6. 40. And this is the will of him that sent mee, that every one that seeth the Sonne, and beleeveth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Here are two distinct promises.
[ 1] First, a promise of everlasting life.
[ 2] Secondly, a promise of raising up at the last day.
[ 1] First, a promise of everlasting life is made distinct from the other. Divines say, that before the raising up at the last day there is an everlasting life, that his soule shall live before the last day, and his body shall be raised up at the last day
Another Text is in Luke 16. 9. And I say unto you, make to your selves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousnesse, that when yee faile, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. Chemnitius makes great use of this Text to prove what I am now arguing for, that immediately after death, the soule of an Elect man is received into Heaven. Marke, make you friends of the Mammon of unrighteousnesse, that is, of your wealth, called so either because it is unrighteously gotten, or unrighteously kept; use your wealth well, that when you die you may bee received into everlasting habitations. It is questionable whether it bee referred to Angels, or to the poor which shall pray for us that wee bee received into Heaven; but saith Chemnitius, use your wealth well, that you may bee received into everlasting habitations, upon your failing, upon dying the Lord receives the Elect into everlasting habitations. This Chemnitius doth build on, that the soule doth goe to Heaven immediately after Death.
[ 3] A third Scripture is in Phil. 3. 23. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to bee with Christ, which is far better. The Apostle doth Conjoyne these two conclusions, a departing out of the world, out of this life, and a desire to be with Jesus Christ, he mentions no middle place for a good soul to goe to, he mentions no Purgatory, nor Limbus Patrum.
And so likewise a fourth Text you have in 2 Cor. 6. 8, 9. Therefore wee are alwaies confident, knowing that whilst wee are at home in the body, wee are absent from the Lord. Wee are confident I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to bee present with the Lord; wherefore wee labour, that whether present or absent, wee may be accepted of him. Marke, the Apostle desires, to be absent from the body, and to bee present with the Lord, so that the soule is present with the Lord, whilest absent from the body.
Then againe, that Prayer of Stephen proves it likewise, in Acts 7. 59. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit. It had been uncomfortable for him to have thought that he should have been stoned for Jesus Christ and it must have been above 1600 yeares before Christ should have received his soule, but hee prayed, Lord Jesus Christ receive my soule, which hee would not have done, if hee had not beleeved that his soul would have been received by Jesus Christ immediately after death.
And thus I leave those Scriptures to confirme you in this, that the soule doth not sleep in the body, but at the departure from the body it doth immediately go to Heaven.
[ 4] Fourthly, I prove it to you by shewing those grosse absurdities and inconveniencies that will arise, in case it should bee denyed that God doth not receive the soule of any Elect man, till he doth come to judge the world.
[ 1] First, it will follow that the godly will bee in a worse condition after they are dead, then they were in when they were alive, for when they were alive, to live is Christ, Christ dwelt in their hearts by Faith; Now if the soule doth sleep with the body, and perish with the body, then Christ doth not live in them, Christ doth not dwell there by Faith, so that this would be uncomfortable that a beleever after death should bee in a worse condition then during this life, for here hee lives in Christ by Faith.
[ 2] Secondly, then it wil follow, that God the Father would be more cruell to his people, then he would have other men be to their servants which have done their worke. Marke that Text, Levit. 19. 13. Thou shalt not defraud thy Neighbour, neither rob him, the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night untill the morning. That the Master was not to keep the hire of the Labourer long from him, that the Master should not keep the servants wages long from him; Now will the great God keep from you, who are his servants, that have served him here in this world, and have done him faithfull service, any reward till his last coming? No, but when you have ended your life, and done your worke; you receive your wages, when your worke is done, you have your reward.
[ 3] Thirdly, observe this, if this should bee true that the soules of the Elect men doe not goe to Heaven after death, then it will follow that the soules of wicked men doe not goe to Hell after death, and how repugnant this is to the Scripture you well know, when the Scripture saith in the Epistle of Jude, That the men of Sodome and Gomor•ha suffered the vengeance of eternall fire. And of Judas, Acts 25. That hee may take part of this ministery, and Apostle-ship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that hee might goe to his owne place. I could give you a multitude of instances where it is shewn the wicked are in Hell, 1 Pet. 3. 19, 20. By which also he went and preached unto the Spirits in Prison. Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waiting in the daies of Noah, while the Arke was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight soules were saved by water. To say that a godly man doth not goe to Heaven immediately after death, it will follow that a wicked man doth not goe to Hell immediately after death.
[ 4] Fourthly, it would follow, that there should be onely Angels in Heaven and no saints, whereas the scripture saith expresly, that Christ shall come from Heaven with his Saints; and wee read in Scripture, that there are the Spirits of just men made perfect, as well as the innumerable company of Angels.
[ 5] Fifthly, this would follow that it would bee a great discomfort to a godly man on his death-bed, to think he should bee so many hundred yeares soule and body in the grave before Christ would bring him to Heaven; it would bee a very uncomfortable Doctrine for a man to thinke on, that I shall die like a beast, that my soule after death shall not bee taken up into Heaven. And thus I have proved that immediately after the godly die, their soules are received into heaven: I have proved it by pregnant instances in the Scripture, by generall expressions in the Scripture, and by those expresse passages in Scripture, and have given you those absurdities, that will arise in case it should be denyed.
A word now from what hath been spoken. If it bee that Christ doth receive thee, O thou beleever, to himselfe, before the totall and compleat reception, I would then give you this use for to comfort you.
[Use.] First, fear not a dying time, let not death bee dreadfull and terrible to thee. Beloved, were this true indeed, that when thou diest thy soule should perish with thy body, then a Life is not worth the having, but when thou shalt thinke on thy death-bed, here now is a disease consuming thy body and sending of thee to thy grave, and now there is but a little time betweene thee and Heaven, that when I am a dying, I am in the very Suburbs of Heaven, a little breath between mee and Heaven, O how should this comfort a dying man, when that hee hath good evidences for Heaven! O this should greatly comfort thee against thou comest to die, to thinke that thy dead-bed is the very Suburbs of heaven. I have read what John said, that wrote the Revelarions, when hee was ready to die, I doe beleeve, saith hee, that in this very day my soule shall be presented before the Lord Jesus Christ. O thinke, now thou art leaving thy friends, it will not bee a day before Christ and I shall meet in heaven. As in the Booke of Martyrs wee read that in Queene Maries time, two friends were put to death together. One of them was fearfull to thinke that the flames should scorch his flesh. O saith the other, bee of good comfort, for halfe an houre hence thou shalt bee in Heaven! O thinke, though thou art weake and sick even unto death, yet that thou shalt shortly bee with Jesus Christ, doubt not of the truth of this, For I could even pawn my soul of the truth of it, that the soules of the Elect are taken up into heaven immediately after death. O then let not death trouble you.
[Doct. 4] The fourth Doctrine here mentioned is, the benefit of Christs coming, and that is to raise your bodies from the dead and receive them to himselfe. This is the particular that I am now to insist upon, and receive you to my selfe.
[Obser.] The Observation is this, that the maine end of Christs coming againe, is for to raise the bodies of the Elect, and to receive them to himselfe, not onely to save the Soule immediately after death, but to raise the body also. There are two Queries in the Doctrinall part of this point touching the end of Christs coming, which is to raise the bodies of the Elect, and to receive them to himselfe.
[ 1] First, Why Jesus Christ must raise the bodies of the Elect, and receive them to himselfe, as well as the soules.
[ 2] Secondly, when Christ doth receive the body to himself, then what endowments doth the body, receive as now it hath not?
[ 1] First, why must Christ receive the body to himselfe, as well as the soule?
There are four reasons.
[ 1] First, because of the Resurrection of his own body, Christs own body is raised from the dead, and received up into heaven, and therefore the bodies of the Elect must be there also; where Christ is, there must his members be; Christ the head is raised from the dead, and received up into glory. The Apostle doth give this reason, 1 Cor. 15. 12. Now if Christ bee preached, that hee rose from the dead, &c. As if he should have said, Christ being risen from the dead, doth argue that our bodies must rise from the Grave, though they be dead there. In 1 Cor. 6. 14. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power, 1 Thess. 4. 14. For if wee beleeve that Jesus dyed, and rose againe, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him. So that because Jesus Christs body is raised from the dead, and received up into Heaven, therfore our bodies must bee raised up and received into glory with him.
[ 2] Secondly, the bodies of the Elect must be raised, because of the inhabitation of the Spirit; the Spirit doth sanctifie the bodies of the Elect, as well as the soules, the very God of peace sanctifie you throughout, and I pray God that your soule, Spirit and Body, bee kept blamelesse unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 6. 18, 19, 20. Flee Fornication, every sinne that a man doth, is without the body, but he that committeth Fornication sinneth against his own body. What, know yee not that your body is the Temple of the holy Ghost which is in you, which yee have of God, and yee are not your owne? for yee are bought with a price; Therefore glorifie God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods. Now the spirit of God having a gracious worke in the body as well as the soule; Therefore the body must be raised up from the dead as well as the soule; and this the Scripture makes an Argument of the resurrection in Rom. 8. 11. But if the spirit of him that raised up Iesus from the dead, dwell in you, hee that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortall bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. So that spirit that raised up Christ from the dead, if that dwelleth in you, and the graces of the spirit, that spirit shall quicken your mortall bodies; therefore the bodies of the Elect shall be raised from the dead and received into glory with the soule.
[ 3] Thirdly, because the body hath a conjunction, and co-operation with the soule in all gracious working, the body shall bee partner with the Soule, being received unto Jesus Christ, because the body doth co-operate with the Soule, Rom. 8. 13. For if yee live after the flesh yee shall die, but if yee through the spirit doe mortifie the deeds of the flesh, yee shall live, Now being that the godly doe mortifie the deeds of the body, and do expose their bodies to tortures and torments for Jesus Christ; now because the bodies of the Elect, doe co-operate with the soule in good, therefore the body shall be co-partner with the soule in good also.
[ 4] Fourthly, it proceeds from that neer Union which is betweene a Beleever and Jesus Christ; Christ is the head, and Beleevers are the members; now the members must bee raised and received up to Jesus Christ to make his body a perfect body. Thus much for the Reasons why that Jesus Christ at the second coming shall raise and receive the bodies of the Elect to himself, as well as the soules.
[ 2] The second query is this, but what benefit is it to the body, what endowments shall the body receive by this, when Christ comes?
[ 1] First, in generall I shall say this to you, that the body shall receive more glorious endowments then ever it could bee capable to receive, and enjoy here in this world; it may bee thy body is endowed with a comely feature, yet when Christ comes to receive thy body, it shall bee endowed better then now it is. Chrysostome saith, take Wooll, and let this Wooll be dyed into a Scarlet, or purple colour, dyed in graine, yet the Wooll is the same Wooll as it was before, when it was white, but yet there is a more goodly lustre put upon it. Thy body shall bee the same body, but thy body shall have more illustrious endowments, then now it hath.
And thus much onely in the generall; now to come to particulars. I shall resolve this question in these six Particulars.
There are six glorious endowments that the body shall receive from Jesus Christ, at his second coming, when he receives the body to himselfe.
[ 1] First, from being a naturall body as it is now it shall bee made by Christ a spirituall body, that is the first endowment, thou shalt cast off thy old Apparell of corruptible flesh and blood, and shalt bee cloathed with robes of glory; it is no contradiction to say a spirituall body, because the Apostle useth the expression, 1 Cor. 15. 44. It is sowne a naturall body, it is raised a spirituall body. There is a naturall body, and there is a spirituall body. The meaning is, the body as it lives here, is a naturall body, needing naturall refreshments; but saith the Apostle, is shall be raised a spirituall body, it shall have no more need of naturall refreshments, which the naturall body requireth when it is a spirituall body it stands in no more need of meat, no more need of drinke nor sleep, and other naturall refreshments, it shall bee raised a spirituall body. Mat, 22. 30. For in the resurrection they neither Marry, nor are given in Marriage, but are as the Angels of God in Heaven. The Angels have no need of food, and stand in no need of outward helps, Rev. 7. 15, 16. Therefore are they before the Throne of God, and serve him day and night in his Temple, and hee that sitteth on the Throne shall dwell among them, They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the Sunne light on them, nor any heate. Therefore O beleeving soule, behold thy happiness of soule and body in glory; they shall bee no more standing in need of naturall refreshments then spirits doe; when the Scripture saith that your bodies should be received by Christ. The Platonick Philosophers understand, the body shall bee turned into a spirit, into a ghost, or into winde or aire, but that is not the reason of it, it shall bee of the same substance as it is upon the Earth, but it shall be refined.
[ 2] Secondly the bodies of the Elect when Christ receiveth them to himselfe, of vile bodies, they shall bee made beautifull, it may bee thou hast some deformity, but Christ shall refine that body, and new varnish and make it beautifull, Phil. 3. 21. Who shall change our vile body, that it may bee fashioned like his glorious body, according to the working whereby hee is able even to subdue all things unto himselfe. The body of Christ is a beautifull body, neither spot nor wrinckle, nor any such thing in it; thy body shall bee like Christs glorious Body, 1 Cor. 15. 43. It is sowne in dishonour, it is raised in glory, it is sown in weaknesse, it is raised in power. Here thy body it is a vile body, El•phaz cals the body a house of clay, and Job cals it a house of Earth; It is the Opinion of Gerrard, and he gives strong reasons for it, that if there bee any defects upon the body in this world, if any of the members of the body be wanting, it shall be restored to thee at the resurrection, and there are these reasons to be given for it.
[ 1] First, because our bodies are promised to bee like Christs Body; now Christs Body hath no redundant and defective member, defect is but the product of sinne and the result of sinne, therefore our bodies being said to to bee like Christs Body, there shall bee no defect in it.
[ 2] Secondly, some members are necessarily required to make up the happiness of the Elect in Heaven; suppose an Elect man should bee borne blind, or lost his eies by casualty, if this man should not have his eyes, he could never see Christ in Heaven, we shall see with these very eyes the Body of Christ.
[ 3] The third reason is this, because the bodies of the Elect shall bee as Adams body was in innocency; Adams body was created perfect by God, when Christ raiseth thy body, it shall never want a member, nor abound in a member, thy vile body shall bee beautifull: what though others bee 〈◊〉 then thee, and clearer skin’d then thee, what though others mens Earth bee painted better then thine▪ yet when Christ receives thy body, it shall be a beautifull, a glorious body, therefore you have that phrase, Mat. 13. 43. Th•• shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun, in the Kingdome of their Father.
[ 3] Thirdly, from being a mortall body, it shall bee by him an immortall body; the body as it is here, it is a mortall body dying and rotting in the grave, but it shall bee made by Christ immortall, 1 Cor. 15. 52, 53. In a Moment, in the Twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the Trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall bee raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed, For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortall must put on immortality. Those mortall bodies that must die, must bee made immortall, and those incorruptible bodies, made incorruptible and never die, this is the great happiness of the elect, that their bodies shall bee made immortall bodies.
[ 4] Fourthly, the bodies of the elect from being lyable to sorrows and sufferings in the world, shall bee made impassive bodies, the body here is exposed to Diseases, Aches, Consumptions and what not? the body it is an Hospitall of Diseases, a Magazine of all Infirmities, but the Lord shall make this body impassive; lyable to no sufferings, God shall then wipe a way all teares from our eies, no sorrows, no crying, nor no paine, there is the great happinesse of the body, it shall be made impassive, not lyable to hunger, thirst, paine, Diseases, and the like.
[ 5] Fifthly, thy body from being a heavy and lumpish body as now it is, shall bee made an agile and swift body, the Eagle shall not flee so strongly, as the bodies of the Elect shall flee from place to place and it is grounded from that Scripture, 1 Thess. 4. 14. for if wee beleeve that Jesus Christ dyed and rose againe, even them also which sleep in Iesus, will God bring with him. Which the body could not doe, if the body did not lose its lumpishnesse and heavinesse which it hath here Zanchy doth illustrate it by this comparison; • saith he the body is like the Chick in the agge, the Bird in the egge strives not, but when it is flusht, then it can flie; so, when thou ar• raised, thou canst goe from one part of the world to another in a moment; so was Christs body when it was raised, Christ was taken immediately up into heaven, which is as Astronomers say; (if wee may beleeve their gues•es) above 40 Millions of Miles: now the soule hath a lumpish body that it cannot follow the soule, therefore the body shall bee made conformable to the Soule; the body is now a tyred Jade to the Soule, but then it shall not be so.
[ 6] Sixthly, from being a weak body it shal be made a strong body, 1 Cor. 15. 44. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory, it is sown in weaknesse, it is raised in power. The body of man is a weake fleshly thing▪ Ansel•e is of this Opinion on this Text, 1 Cor. 15. saith hee▪ mans body shall bee so strong that hee shall bee able to tosse a mountaine, as a child would tosse a tennis ball: this is the great glory that God puts on the body, that being a natural Bodie, it shall bee made by Christ a spirituall Body; of being a vile Body, it shall made by Christ a beautifull Body, from being a mortall Body, it shall be made an immortall Body; from being lyable to sorrowes and sufferings in this world, it shall bee made impassive, being a heavy lumpish Body, it shall bee made an agile Body; and from being a weak Body, it shall be made a strong Body.
Now before I come to the Application, there are two Objections which lye in the way. As in the primitive times there were the Sadduces that held there was no resurrection, and after Christs time there was Hymeneus and Philetus, which said that the Resurrection was past already, and the Church of Corinth was tainted with this Error, if Christ be risen from the dead, how say some amongst you, that there is no Resurrection of the dead? Now in the Primitive and Christs time, there was this Opinion, that there was no Resurrection of the Body, and so made this meerely but a poeticall fiction, and to be no reall and undoubted truth.
The Scripture which they urge is this, you talke of the Body being raised by Christ, how can this bee when the Apostle saith expresly, the Body is made of flesh and blood, 1 Cor. 15. 50. Now this I say Brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdome of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Therefore if flesh and blood cannot come to Gods Kingdom, how then can the Body come there.
[ 1] First, I answer, it cannot bee the Apostles intent to impugne the bodies rising, for the drift of the whole Chapter is to prove that the Body shall be raised; therefore it is not imaginable that in one breath the Apostle should deny, and affirme the same thing.
[ 2] Secondly, the Apostle doth understand by flesh and blood, the bodies of men as they have sinfull infirmities, cleaving to them in this world, the body as it is now a sinfull body, an infirme body, a weak mortall body as it is now shal never come to Heaven; the generality of Interpreters run this way, by flesh and blood is understood the bodies of men as lyable to sinne, as in this world they shall not be raised up they shall not come to Heaven but we shall bee changed, we shall not all sleep but bee changed, the Apostle proves this, 1 Cor. 15. 50, 51. Now this I say Brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdome of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption, Behold, I shew you a mystery, wee shall not all sleep, but wee shall all bee changed. Our corruptible Bodies shall not come to Heaven as they are corruptible, but come to Heaven by being incorruptible, but we shall all be changed, that is, our Bodies shall be changed from being mortall, corruptible, and being weake and sinfull, to bee holy and Immortall, so that flesh and blood as now it is sinfull, corruptible, till changed and made glorious and pure, shall not come to Heaven.
[ 2] Second Text which they urge against the Body being glorified, and say it is but a fancy, Job 14. 7, 8. 9. For there is hope of a Tree, if it bee cut downe, that it shall sprou• againe, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the Earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground, yet through the sent of water it will bud, and bring forth Bought like a plant: But man dieth and wasteth away, yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is hee••. A Tree faith Iob, if that dies it may live again but if man dies, hee vanisheth away, and where is man? on this they build that man shall never live againe.
To this, take this cleare Answer, That when Iob speakes, Though a tree dies it lives againe, but if man dies hee lives not, Iob understands it by living againe in this World, so there is more hope of a Tree then of a Man.
But you will aske me, how do you prove this for to be Iobs intent.
I prove it to you from Iobs words in the 12. vers. So man lieth down, and riseth not till the heavens bee no more, they shall not awake nor bee raised out of their sleep. So that here Iob speakes of a rising when the Heavens shall bee no more, when the world shall be burnt with fire, then man shall bee awakned; and in the 14. vers. If a man die, shall bee live againe? All the daies of my appointed time will I waite till my change come. Iob speaks in this Chapter of the change of the Body and of the raising of the Body. Tertullian and Austine say well, that there is no Doctrine of Religion is more repugnant to sense and reason.
There is this reason that may seeme to be against the raising of the Body; How is it possible that the Bodies of men can be raised, when that they are so confounded together as they are in the Earth.
Suppose a Man bee killed and devoured by a Wolfe, a Lyon eates that Wolfe, suppose that the Lyon dyes, and the Fowles of the aire eate that Lyon, and men eate those Fowles; how can the bodies of Men be raised being thus confounded? Suppose a Man bee drowned in the Sea, and the Fishes in the Sea eat that man, how can his substance be gathered together at the last Day?
Answer, it is the answer of Perkins. First, much may bee done by Nature, by art. First, an Illustration from a Refiner, put before Refiner a masse of mettall, and there shall bee in that one Lumpe, a veyne of Silver, a veyne of Brasse, of Gold, of Tyn, of Iron, and the like, and these Mettals are all mingled together; Now a Refiner by his art, he can distinctly sever the Silver from the Gold, and the Iron from the Lead: Now can art do this, and shall not the God of Nature sever this man from that man? God shall sever them though they are heaped together.
Againe, a Gardner, soweth varietie of Seeds, yet doe you come to the Garden, and let one aske you what seed lieth in that Bed, or in this Bed, as ro•ting in the ground, you cannot tell; But come to the Gardner and aske him what Seed is in that Bed, and hee can tell you distinctly the Seed in every Bed; And cannot the the great God doe this? hee that made us knowes our shape; wee cannot tell what mans dust this is in the Grave, I, but God that laid it in the Grave, he knowes, hee knowes which shall bee my dust, and which shall be thy dust, and which every mans dust, hee knowes what body shall spring up thence; Therefore labour to exalt Faith in the great Mystery of raising, and glorifying your bodies.
I have now a practicall application to make of this.
[ 1] First this, is it so that Jesus Christ shall raise your bodies, and receive them to himselfe at his second coming? Then let this comfort you against, your sufferings in the body. Suppose thou art exposed to violent Sufferings, to Torments, Tortures, to Racks, Fire, and Faggots; Suppose thy body undergoeth this for the sake of Jesus Christ, yet remember, thy body shall be raised and glorified by Jesus Christ.
Let it not trouble thee then that thy body shall be a crucified body, because at Christs second coming it shall be a glorious body.
Again, it may bee comfort to thee, by reason of thy naturall infirmities. Suppose thy body be a s••kly body, suppose thy body bee full of A•hes, Agues, Consumptions, Diseases and the like, suppose thy body bee maimed, Blinde and Lame, yet remember thy body that is vile, deformed and sickly, it shall have fresh Robes of glory upon it, and be made like to the glorious Body of Jesus Christ.
We read in the book of Martyrs, of two Martyrs that were to be burnt at Stratford Bow neer Lordon, one Hugh Laborocke, and Iohn Price the one blind, & the other lame, this Price being full of feare when the fire was about him, saith Hugh unto him, bee not troubled, though thou blinde and I lame, yet remember death will heale thee of thy Blindenesse and mee of Lamenesse. Suppose thou art blinde, lame and maymed, Christs receiving of thy body will cure all, and truly there were comfort to a man under a bodily distemper▪ when a man should thinke that this body of mine should rot in the Grave, and never be raised from the dead.
But thy deformed body it should bee a beautifull body, that which is a sickly body shal be made a healthful body, and freed from all diseases.
[ 2] A second Inference is this, will Jesus Christ at his comign raise thy body, and receive thy whole man unto himselfe? Then learne to have a thirsting and longing soule after the second coming of Jesus Christ; doe not desire to continue here upon Barth, but to bee dissolved and to bee with Jesus Christ. will any man bee grieved for changing of an old sute for a new? Death doth this, thou hast here an old rotten ragge of flesh about thee, Christ will put a new sute on thee; therefore the Apostle calls it the desire of the body to bee cloathed upon, wee doe not desire to bee in Heaven without Bodies, but wee desire to bee cloathed upon, with those glorious endowments, where with the elect shall bee clad in glory▪ Therefore bee not unwilling to die, doe not be unwilling to leave an old rotten Carcasse, a sickly Body, a Diseased Body. Put a Bird into a Cage, though the Cage bee made of Silver, of Gold, yet the Bird had rather flie abroad, then be tied up in the Cage. Whilest in the Body thou art in a Cage, thou hadst better have thy Body in a glorified capacity then now it is.
[ 3] Thirdly, bee not afraid nor unwilling to die, because thy Body shall bee changed by Death, if thy Body should not die, it would never be a glorified Body; keep your Corne in your House, and you will never have a Crop▪ but cast your Corne into the ground and let it die there; saith the Apostle, that thou sowest is never quickened till it die, let your Body bee kept alive here in the world, and it shall never be raised to glory; O do not th•n be unwilling to die, because death to an Elect man is as a laying of Corne in the Earth. As Corne doth rot in the ground to spring againe, against the Harvest; So doth thy Body rot in the Grave, to spring againe at the Resurrection.
Fourthly, if this be true that Jesus Christ will raise thy Body unto glory, O then doe not abuse these Bodies of yours; they are the Temples of the Holy Ghost, these Bodies of yours shall one day bee raised, and received by Jesus Christ. It is an argument that the Apostle raiseth, 1 Cor. 6. 14, 15. vers. And God hath both raised up the Lord by his own Power; know ye not that your bodies are the Members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the Members of Harlots? God forbid. This is the Apostles Argument. The Apostle would reason against Adultery and Uncleannesse in the body, what argument doth hee use? Know yee this, Christ will raise up our bodies, and shall wee take these Members of our bodies, and make them the members of a Where? So then Beloved, let the Doctrine of your Resurrection, and of your bodies being raised and received to Jesus Christ, provoke you that you doe not abse your Bodies. He that keeps company with a Harlot, sinneth against his owne Body, 1 Cor. 6. 18. Flee Fornication, every sinne that a man doth, is without the Body, but hee that committeth Fornication, sinneth against his owne body. For a man to lie and sweare, it is against his Soule, but for a man to bee uncleane, it is to sinne against his Body; O doe not die with an uncleane Body, with an Adulterous Body, and doe not abuse thy Body, doe not abuse those Eyes of thine to bee windowes of lust, that shall one day behold Jesus Christ; do not abuse that body that must have a sweet communion with Christ in Heaven.
I am now come to handle the last point in the Text, the last Clause, that where I am, there you may bee also.
These words they note unto you the Event, or Consequent, what shall follow upon Christs coming againe, and receiving our bodies unto himselfe at the last day. The Event shall bee this, an everlasting enjoyment of Christ, that is the result and consequent of Christs coming, to bee ever with him, that where I am, there you may be also.
I shall open the words, for there is some difficulty in one Expression, where I am you see it is a word in the present sense, where I am, and though it bee a word of the present Tense, it doth not denote thus much that that they should bee at Jerusalem with Christ; for Christ was then at Jerusalem▪ but as Grotius saith, that here the word of the present Tense, is to be understood of the suture Tense, that is, where I shall be shortly after I leave this world where I shall be there you shall be, and so hee doth bring that Text to prove it. Joh. 7. 34. Ye shall seeke me and shall not finde mee, and where I am, thither yee cannot come. It cannot bee taken in the present Tense, for he was then 〈◊〉 Jerusalem, but it is to bee understood in the future Tense, where I shall bee, I goe, but I come againe, that where I shall bee when I come to my Fathers House in Heaven, I may have all your companies to be personally present with mee in Heaven; that is the scope of the word.
[Obser.] Observe, that when ever Christ speakes of being in Heaven, though hee was on the Earth, yet he speakes in the present Tense, as if hee were in Heaven already; John 3. 13, And no man hath ascended up to Heaven, but hee that came downe from Heaven, even the Sonne of man which is in Heaven. Christ was not in Heaven, hee was speaking on Earth to them in his Person, in his Humane Nature, so likewise in John 17. 24. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given Mee, be with mee where I am, that they may behold my Glory which then hast given mee, for thou lovedst mee before the Foundation of the World. Gerrard doth raise this Question here.
Why doth Christ say that he is in Heaven, when yet he was in his body on the Earth?
[ 1] First, that Christ saith I am, denotes the certainty of Christs going to Heaven, that hee should bee there as sure as if he were there. Babylon is fallen, why the the Popedome is not fallen, yet it shall be as sure as if it were fallen. It is to note [ 2] Secondly, the suddennesse of it, Christ was shortly to bee in Heaven; there was but one day betweene Christ and his being in Heaven, things suddenly to bee done, they are said to be done, things that are neer a doing are said to bee done.
[ 3] Thirdly, which is the reason the Gerrard gives; Christ doth expresse it in the present Tense, where I am, though hee were on Earth, to shew that Christ was truly God as well as man, and in regard of his Divine Nature hee was truly in Heaven, as in regard of his Human Nature hee was on Earth. Thus much for the manner of expression, that where I am, there you may bee also; the latter part is this, that they might be with Christ where hee is.
One thing observe, that in Scripture Language, there is a great difference between Christs being with us, and our being with Christ. That Christ is said to be with us, doth not denote a personall presence, but a presence by his Spirit, Mat. 28. last vers. Teaching them to obser•• all things whatsoever I shall command you, and loe, I am with you alwaies, even unto the end of the World. It was not in person, for hee left them, but I am with you in my blessings, in my Spirit, but when the Scripture speaketh of our being with Christ, it notes a personall presence, a being with Christ in person, Therefore Paul saith, I desire to bee dissolved and to bee with Christ. Christ was with Paul, because Christ converted him, but Paul was not with Christ, but desired to bee dissolved and to bee with Christ, our being with the Lord it notes a personall presence, an enjoying of the presence of the Lord.
[Obser.] The Observation is this; That Christ at his second coming receives the Elect unto himselfe in body and soule, that they might bee for ever present where Jesus Christ is in Heaven, that where I am there you may be also. This Doctrine it is out of the common place. Here in setting out to you that this shall bee the consequent of Christs great, and last coming to receive the Elect unto himselfe; that where Christ is, there ye may be also; I shall shew you the great blessednesse in this condition in these eight or nine particulars.
[ 1] First, that you will be more happy in being present with Jesus Christ in Heaven, then if you had been present with Adam in a state of Innocency; wee should have thought our selves happy, to be as Adam was, to have had the immediate presence of God, wee should have thought this a very happy and glorious Estate. Indeed so it was, but now, to bee present with Christ in Heaven, thou art more happy ten thousand times, then if thou hadst been made when Adam was made, to have lived with him in Innocency.
[ 1] First, Adam when hee was made by God in Innocency, hee was instated only into an earthly Paradise, but now, thou being with Christ art stated into an everlasting kingdome.
Againe, Adam was placed in Innocency; yet so as to bee lyable to lose that blessed and glorious condition hee was in, and did lose it, though he were a perfect Creature, yet hee lay under a capacity to lose all his excellency, but when God brings thee to bee present with Jesus Christ, thou art instated into a Kingdome that cannot bee shaken, into a happy condition that cannot bee lost.
[ 3] Againe, thirdly, when hee was made by God Innocency, hee enjoyed onely the society of Beasts on the Earth, and Birds of the Ayre; but when God brings thee where Christ is, hee doth instate thee into a condition where God the Father, God the Son, and all the Saints and Angels are thy companions.
[ 2] Secondly, here is another part of thy happinesse by being where Christ is, that thou shalt enjoy the society of Christ in his Humane Nature; where Christ is thou shalt bee, the meaning of that expression is, John 17. 24. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given Mee, bee with Mee, where I am, that they may behold my Glory. Beloved, this is the Beatificall vision, this referres to seeing the Glory of Christs person in his Humane Nature, not the glory of his God head, but the Glory of his Man hood, that they may behold my glorified body, the Glory of my Humane Nature, that was so contemned, and so despised when I was on the Earth; I beseech thee let all the Elect that long for mee, and for to bee with mee, I beseech thee that they may bee with mee where I am, to behold my glory; It was a solemn wish of Austine a little before his Death; he wisht that he might see three things, and then if he might die, he did not care: I wish saith hee, First, that I might see Rome in its beauty, and to see Paul in the Pulpit, and to see Christ in the flesh, every Beleever shall see the Lord Jesus in the flesh. Iob tells you of his confidence long before Christ was borne, I know my Redeemer liveth, and with these eyes I shall see my Redeemer, here is thy happinesse, that being where Jesus Christ is, thou hast a society with Christ in his humane Nature, 1 John 3. 2. Beloved, now wee are the Sonnes of God, and it doth not yet appeare what wee shall bee, but wee know that when hee shall appeare, wee shall bee like him, for wee shall see him as hee is. Wee do not know what Christ is, wee shall know him then we shall see him as he is glorified in Heaven.
[ 3] A third thing that makes much for the blessednesse of the Elect, that in thy being present with Jesus Christ, God gives thee more honour then ever thou couldest bee capable of in former time, God gives thee Glory by vertue of thy being with Jesus Christ, a notable Text, Joh. 1. 26 verse, If any man serve mee, let him follow mee, and where I am, there shall also my servant bee; If any man serve mee, him will my Father honour. That is, where I shall bee in Heaven. Beloved, the time is now of giving honour to God, and giving Glory to God, but thy being where Christ is, God then gives thee Glory and gives thee Honour.
[ 4] Fourthly, thy happinesse in being present with Christ where hee is, is that thou shalt stand in no need of Ordinances: beloved, here the highest growne Christian, and the strongest Beleever in the World doth stand in more need of Ordinances then a lame man doth of Crutches to goe by; but when thou comest to have this accomplishment, that thou shalt bee where Christ is, thou then standest in no need of Ordinances, then what needs the Candlestick of Sermons; what needs the Candlestick of Preaching, and the Candlestick of Praying, when thou art present with Christ the Sun of righteousnesse; there is no need of conduit pipes, when thou art by the Fountain head, thou needst no Ordinances, the conduit pipes are the Ordinances, there is no need of Ordinances any longer then thou art absent from the Fountaine, which is Jesus Christ, the ceremoniall Law is all Gospell, it is a darke Gospell, the Evangelists are the explained Gospel the ceremoniall Law is a darke Gospell, Exodus 25. Meaning the holy place; There was to be golden Candlesticks which Typified the Preaching of the Word; In the Holy place there was the Incense Dishes, to wit Christs Intercession, this was only in the holy place, but in the holy of holiest, there was no Candlestick, no Incense Dishes there, to shew, that whilest you are on this side Heaven in the Church of God, you need the Candlestick, you need Preaching and praying; but in the holy of holiest there was none of this, to shew that it was a Type of Heaven, and when Christ beings thee there, then thou art above Ordinances, and never till then; this is a Fourth particular.
A Fifth Priviledg, of thy being where Christ is, is this, that thou shalt have a full communion and fellowship with Jesus Christ in Person. Beloved, here wee have our communion with Christ, but it is a communion far different from that which we shall have in Heaven.
[ 1] First, it shall bee different in regard of the manner of its enjoyment; in this world, thou enjoyest Christ mediately by Ordinances, thou doest but see him (as in the Apostles phrase) in a glasse darkely, but in Heaven thou shalt enjoy Christ personally, and have communion immediately with Christ in Heaven.
[ 2] Secondly, in regard of the measure of your enjoyment; here you enjoy but a parcell of Christ, you here enjoy Christs spirit by drops, you shall then enjoy the fullness of the Ocean.
[ 3] Thirdly, it differs in regard of its time and duration; Here you doe enjoy Christ, it is true, but it is by fits and starts, you injoy him now in an Ordinance, but you have interrupted fellowship and communion with Christ; but when thou art with him in Heaven, there is no interruption in thy communion with Christ.
[ 4] Fourthly, it is different in regard of its expectation, herein Heaven thou enjoyest Christ by way of of possession.
[ 5] Fifthly, in regard of place, here there is a great distance of place betweene Christ and us, here wee enjoy Christ, hee in Heaven and wee on Earth; but then we shall enjoy Christ in one place, hee in Heaven and wee in Heaven; here thou mayest thinke much of Christ, but if thou wert nearer Christ, thou shouldest see and know more of his glory.
[ 6] Sixtly, there shall bee a difference in regard of thy companions, and those that are in fellowship with thee in Heaven, they are saints and Angels, but on Earth, though thou doest enjoy Christ, yet thou art inforc’d to discourse and commerce with wicked men.
A sixth particular is this, thy being present with Jesus Christ, there is this to attend thee, there shall bee gladnesse, and rejoycing among all the Angels in Heaven; If the Angels in Heaven shall rejoyce at a sinners conversion, they shall much rejoyce at a sinners inauguration in Heaven; they and we shall make but one fold to glorifie the great Shepherd of our soules the Lord Jesus, what great joy shall there bee among Angels, Archangels, Thrones, &c. Singing Hallelujah to God, making you partners of their glory.
[ 1] First, from sinne, here thy beautifull soule is bespoted with the spots of Leprosie; I mean with foule and deformed lusts, but when thou art with Jesus Christ, thou art exempted from sin, no more sin.
[ 2] Secondly, thou shalt be exempted from the causes of sin, the Divel shall deceive no more there, but here thou lyest exposed to all temptations.
[ 3] Thirdly, there shall bee no more punishments for sin; here thou art punished in thy body by Diseases, and the like, here punishments by trouble of Soul; but in Heaven thou art freed from internal punishments and externall punishments; this was prefigured under the Law, 1 Kings 33. The Palme-tree is an Embleme of victory; Therfore the victorious are said to wear Palmes in their hands triumphing, Revelation 7. to shew that you can never bee compleat Conquerours, to wear signals of triumph and signals of conquest in your hands, till you come to enter into the holy of holiest. Then you have conquered over sin, and over Temptation to sinne, and conquered over all punishments for sinne. The Morall Philosophers say, that Raine, Haile, Storme and Tempests are engendred in the middle Region, but above the middle Region, there is no Winde, no storme or Tempest; whilest thou art here below, there are stormes, Winde and blustring Temptations; but when God takes thee above this middle Region, there is no storm nor tempest to disturb thee, but thou shalt be quiet there.
[ 8] Eightly, in being present with Jesus Christ, those who have •uffered most and doe most for Jesus Christ, shall have most glory with Jesus Christ, all shall have glory enough, he that hath least in Heaven shall have enough, every vessell of glory shall bee full, yet some shall containe more then others, as thou hast had more grace in this world, thou shalt have more glory. There are degrees of glory in Heaven, and there are degrees of torments in Hell, there are degrees and orders among the Angels in Heaven, not onely Angels, but Archangels, not onely Cherubins and Seraphins, but distinct orders among Angels; there surely is an order and degree among glorified Saints, that those that have done most for Christ and suffered most for Christ, they shall have most glory from Jesus Christ. It is the saying of one, that as God doth communicate his Graces in an unequall manner in this Life, so hee shall crowne them in an unequall manner in the Life to come: as thou hast gone beyond some men in graces, so thou shalt be beyond some men in glory, in enjoying the bodily presence of Jesus Christ, thou shalt know all the bodies of all thy well-beloved friends that thou knowest here in the world, this most Divines doe concurre in. Bolton is very strong for it, all our Moderne Authors are for it, and some of the Ancients too, I onely give it as a probable advantage and comfort; then a man shall say, Here is the Child that I sought God for, and may the Minister say, Here is the People that I have Preached to, and the people say, Here is the Minister now in Heaven that I have heard, take these probable grounds for it.
[ 1] First, that the wicked knew the godly in Heaven, Dives in Hell knew Lazarus in Heaven. Then wee read likewise in Luke 13. 28. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Iacob, and all the Prophets in the Kingdome of God, and you your selves thrust out. Now if the damned in Hell see Abraham, Isaac, and Iacob, in the Kingdome of God, why shall not the Godly know one another there?
Then againe, Peter, James, and Iohn, knew Moses in the transfiguration, Mat. 13. Then againe the godly they knew the damned in Hell: Therefore certainly they may know one another in Heaven. It is said in Mat. 8. 11. And I say unto you▪ that many shall come from the East and West, and shall sit downe with Abraham and Isaac, and Iacob, in the Kingdome of Heaven. I doe not give you this for certaine, I am loath in things controversall, tossed to and fro by learned Men, rashly to determine; but there are strong Hints to build hopes on, that in thy knowing of Christ in Person, and when the bodies of the Elect shall be raised, thou shalt know the bodies of thy Elected Friends. Bolton here thinks it should detract much from the happinesse of every Saint in Heaven, if every Saint should not know one another, which knew one another here upon Earth, this addes much to this happinesse, in that they shall have a sociable Communion in being with Christ in Person where he is. And thus much for the Adjuncts of this Condition, that where Christ is, there ye may be also〈◊〉.
[Use.] The use then▪ If it be so that where Jesus Christ is, that place where he is gone to Heaven, there ye shall bee also: then I inferre; take it well at Christs hand whatsoever thou hast here below, suppose thou livest in a smoky Cottage; Suppose thou hast not a place to put thy head in; O thinke what a place Christ is gone to prepare for thee, he is gone to prepare no worse a place for thee then Heaven; Nay, bee content with a Prison, be content with a Dungeon, The place in Heaven shall make a recompence for all the obscure places in the World; Suppose thou beest as Christ was in the World, that the Foxes have holes, and the Birds of the Ayre have nests, but the Sonne of Man hath not whereon for to lay his Head, but he hath a house in Heaven, a House not made with hands, a building of God, he hath his Fathers House in Heaven, there you may goe, you must be patient though the places you dwell in are not so comfortable as you may desire, you shall be where Jesus Christ is.
[ 2] Secondly, if it be so that it is the great benefit of Christs coming againe to take us to himselfe, to be in the same place where he is; Then take heed that thou beest not foolish to lose a place in Heaven, for worldly profits and preferments; for Earth to lose Heaven, it is the great baite of these times, to have places, and preferments and Advantages, take heed they doe not make you to lose the place in heaven where Christ is. Historians that write of T•iberius, stigmatize him for a very foole that would for a drop of drink •ell his Kingdome, and so was called of Tiberius (Biberius) O there are many such Biberius’s in the world, •hat for a draught of drink will venture the danger of drinking down shovels full of fire to their own damnation; many in the world that will rather then lofe their places, and possessions here upon Earth, venture to lose that place where Jesus Christ is. Thus I have in ten Sermons finished Five maine Points of Religion. And if I goe and prepare a place for you, I will come againe, and receive you unto my selfe, that where I am, there ye may bee also.