The Zealous Christian Taking Heaven By Holy ViolenceChristopher 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 Zealous Christian Taking Heaven By Holy Violence
The Zealous Christian taking heaven by holy violence in severall sermons, tending to direct men how to hear with zeal, [how] to pray with importunity
Love, Christopher, 1618-1651.
THE ZEALOVS CHRISTIAN, Taking Heaven BY HOLY VIOLENCE: In severall SERMONS Tending to direct men How
- To hear with Zeal,
- To pray with importunity.
Preached by that faithfull servant of JESUS CHRIST, Mr. CHRISTOPHER LOVE, Late Minister of Laurence Jury LONDON.
—The violent take it by force,
Mat. 11. 12.
London, Printed by R. and W. Leybourn, for John Rothwell, at the Sun and Fountain in Pauls-Church-yard. 1653.
TO THE CHRISTIAN READER.
THE good acceptance which this Au∣thors Treatises, (al∣ready published by us) have found, and the good successe they have had among the people of God, together with the importu∣nate desires of many godly per∣sons that were 〈◊〉 of 〈◊〉 SERMONS, have put us upon recommending them to the World. The subject of those Sermons is not only Pipus but Seasonable, Euery thing (saith Solomon) i• beautifull in its season, Eccles. 3. 11. The times wherein we live are famous for a Ferm of godlinesse, and, no lesse infamous for the want of the Power of it. No∣thing is more common then for men to hear and pray, and perform the outside-duties of Religion. Nothing more rare then for man to do these things as becomes the Gospel. Men have so inured themselves to disputes about the Circumstantials of Wor∣ship, that Substantials are lost in the scuffle. And therefore it is com∣mendable in a Minister to reduce the thoughts and hearts of people from needlesse controversies to the practi∣cals of Christianity. As Socrates was commended for bringing down Philosophie from high and sublime speculation, to use and practice.
It was the case of this Reverend Author, not so much to gratifie the fancies of men, as to work upon their affections, and to direct them in the ordering of their conversation: and that the father, because he obser∣ved most men had more heat in their Brains, then in their Hearts. That zeal that once appeared in the Pro∣fessours of this Nation, is evaporated. That violence that sometimes was in the people of this Nation after Ser∣mons and all Ordinances, is now abated, and grown remisse; nay, in some, the hatred wherewith they hate the Ordinances and people of God, is greater then ever was the love wherewith they loved them. That praying Spirit, that not long ago was shed abroad in the hearts of Gods people, is now as it were departed.
It is therefore high time to be speak this carelesse Nation, or rahter the Professors of this Nation, with that message which GOD sent to the Church of Ephesus, Remember from*whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works, or else I will come against thee quickly, and remove thy Candlestick out of his place.
And oh! may these ensuing Ser∣mons be usefull to revive those sparks of zeal and importunity, that lie as it were under the ashes. That was the end which the Author aimed at when he preached them to his Con∣gregation, and that is a main end that we look to and hope for in the publication of them. The times wherein we live are times of much hypocrisie. There are many among us that say they are Jews, and are not, that have a name to live, and are dead:* yea, there are many that seeme to be religious, and yet not only deceive others, but also deceive, their own selves. And therefore it is time for every man to search and trie if there be any way of wickednesse in him. All is not gold that glisters, nor are all Saints that so call themselves, or are so called by others.
Here then is a Touch-stone by which you may examine your selves: Here is a Balance of the Sanctuary, wherein you may weigh your graces, and see whether they be light or no. It is one of the vainest and most fool∣ish things in the world for men to cheat themselves of eternall happinesse. We count it folly for a man to suffer him∣self to be cheated in a bargain, and yet what is lost in one bargain may be regained in another. But here he that is cheated, is cheated irrecoverably. The losse of the soul is irreparable. Precious is the redemption of souls, and it ceaseth for ever. And yet there is a strange stupidity among the sons of men, whereby they are willing to be deceived, and jugled out of their soul-happinesse. They are willing to rest themselves upon any groundlesse presumption, though it be so weak that they dare not put it to triall in their own hearts, themselves being Judges. O all you poor deluded souls! How long will you love vanity, and fol∣low*after lies? When you may go a sure way, why will you run a hazard? Awake therefore O thou that sleep∣est, and seriously betake thy self to this weighty, necessary and profitable duty of examination; and in this work we hope this Treatise will be usefull and acceptable; which if it be done, and the other branch not left undone, the Authors desire in preaching is satisfied, and our expectation in publishing answered; and that both those ends may be obtained, is the earnest desire of
Those that seek not yours, but you.
- EDMUND CALAMY.
- SIMEON ASHE.
- JER. WHITAKER.
- WIL. TAYLOR.
- MATTHEW POOL.
MAT THEW 11. 12.
And from the dayes of John the Baptist untill now, the*Kingdom of heaven suffer∣eth violence, and the vio∣lent take it by force.
THis Text is part of the largecommendation that Christ gives of the per∣son * and Ministery of John the Baptist. John was a crier in the wilder∣nesse to publish the glo∣ry of Christ, and Christ an Herauld to pro∣claim the praise of John. And this he doth,
1 For his constancy in the doctrine of Religion, vers. 7. What went you out to see?*a read shaken with the winde? a light, fickle, and inconstant Preacher, that like a reed turnes with every winde of doctrine. John was no such man, not like a reed, to yield to the stream or blast of every winde, but like the oake or cedar that stands unmovea∣bly in the midst of the greatest stormes.
2 For his holinesse and high measure of mortification, vers. 8. What went you out to see? A man cloathed in soft raiment? John* was no such man. He was not at all addict∣ed to the garbe and pompe of the Court, but He had a raiment of camels hair, and a leathern girdle about his loines, Matth. 3. 4.
3 By comparing him with the former Prophets, with those Teachers that went before him, vers. 9. What went you out to see?*a Prophet? Yea, I say to you, and more then a Pro∣phet. & v. 11. Verily I say unto you. Amongst*them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater then John the Baptist. He gives him the precedency above all his predecessours; not in regard of the dignity of his office, but in respect of the perspicuity of his do∣ctrine. Yet lest he might be proud him∣selfe, or others too much admire him, it is added by way of qualification in the end of the 11 verse, He that is least in the King∣dome of heaven is greater then he. Those Dis∣ciples and Apostles that should live after the resurrection of Christ, (from whence the Gospel or Kingdom of heaven is dated) should be greater then John, in regard of that full knowledge and clear manifesta∣tion they should have of Christ.
4 He commends him for the successe∣fulnesse of his Ministery, and that is set forth in the Text: From the dayes of John the Bap∣tist the Kingdome of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. A little for the explication of the Text. *
By the kingdome of heaven] is not meant the glorious seat of the blessed An∣gels, but the Evangelicall state of the Chri∣stian Church. a It signifies the preaching of the Gospel, and propagation of the Church. b It notes that state and condition of the Church which is properly called Christian. The Kingdome of heaven is in Scripture interpreted a breaking off from the observation of the Ceremoniall law, and a publishing of the Gospel by John the Bap∣tist, and so it begun when John did first preach the Gospel. And whereas Matthew tels us, Matth. 3. 1. John preached, saying, Repent, for the Kingdome of heaven is at hand. Mark cals this, The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Mark 1. 1. And therefore it is that John is called an Evange∣licall Preacher.
Suffereth violence] Violence is not to be taken as it is in our dayes of opposition, and as in the dayes of persecution; as it is in our dayes in opposition to right and justice, and as it was at the first comming in of the Gospel, when the wicked men of the world did go about to oppose and obstruct the publishing of the Gospel, but it is an holy violence whereby men presse forward to ob∣tain the grace of this Kingdome. And so it is generally taken to be an holy violence of affection, or a gracious disposition that was implanted and wrought in the hearts of many men in John Baptists dayes.
Violence is here opposed to lukewarm∣nesse and moderation in Religion, to that coldnesse and frozennesse that is in the hearts of men under the preaching of the Word. It is called an holy violence, to di∣stinguish between them that were Christi∣ans indeed and other men; to distinguish them from the Scribes and Pharisees that were cold and frozen under the Ministery of the Cospel. They were so earnest after Christ in the Gospel, that no difficulties or discouragements could take them off from * their pursuits after Christ. ‘They were so greedy of Christ, that no force could pluck them away, but they would rather die then be drawn away from the Gospel. It is a metaphor taken from warriours, who force their passage into a City, and take it by storm, and divide the spoil. The parallel phrase is, Luk. 16. 16. Every man presseth into the Kingdome of God.
For the period of time wherein this vio∣lence was declared and expressed; it was in the 15th. year of Tiberius, as you read, Luke 3. 1. in the 29th. yeare of Christ.
Many doctrines may be raised from these words, but I shall not multiply observati∣ons. The first and main doctrine is taken from the time wherein this violence was, and the doctrine is this.
[Doct.] At the first promulgation of the Gos∣pel the preaching of the Word was more successefull, multitudes of men did express more holy violence and vehemency of af∣fection towards the service and worship of God then in any age beside. From the dayes of John the Baptist untill now the Kingdome of heaven suffereth violence. a The people were cold and frozen under the Ministery of the Scribes and Pharisees, they were heated under the Ministery of John.
In the handling of this point two Que∣stions must be answered.
1 Whence it came to passe that people were at that time so fervent and affectionate towards the Gospel, that the Gospel was so successefull then?
2 Whence it comes to passe that it is no more successefull now, or why that holy violence is now abated?
1 What are the reasons why it was so * successefull in the dayes of John the Bap∣tist? I answer, divers reasons may be ren∣dered.
[Reson 1] 1 Because of the novelty of the Gos∣pel. b New things are most affecting and pleasing to mans nature. This was the ground of the peoples admiration at Christ, Mark 1. 27. They were all amazed, saying, What new Doctrine is this? For with authority*commandeth he the unclean spirits, and they obey him We are like to the Athemans, of whom it is written, Act. 17. 21. They spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. While Johns Ministery was new and fresh, all rejoyced in it, John 5. 35. *Ye were willing for a season to rejoyce in hulight. And so the Ministery of Paul was most suc∣cessefull * among the Thessalonians in the beginning of it, 1 Thess. 2. 1. You know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain. It was Melanchthons observation, that men were favourers and followers of the Gospel when it first came into a place.
[Reson 2] Another ground of the successefulnesse of the Gospel at that time is this: Because the prophecies of the Old Testament were to be accomplished, both for the extensi∣on of the Church in regard of place and persons, and the intention of affection. 1 For the extension of the Church in regard of place and persons: That was fore-spo∣ken of in Holy Writ, Isa. 54. 1, 2. Sing, Oh*barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud thou that didst not travell with childe: for more are the children of the desolute then the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tents, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes, &c Which place is applied by Paul to the conversion of the Gentiles upon the first promulgation of the Gospel, Gal 4. 27. where he cites the very words of the first verse now mentioned.
Another prophecy of the same nature you have, Isa. 2. 2. It shall come to passe in the*lust dayes that the mountain of the Lords house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hils, and all Na∣tions shall flow unto it. Which promise in the same words is repeated, Micab 4. 1. Another promise of the same nature is Isa 60. 3, 4, 5. * and in many other places, which it is need∣lesse now to mention.
2 There were promises also for the in∣tention of the affections, Isa. 40. 31. They*that wait upon the Lord shal renue their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles. The eagle is a bird of the strongest and highest flight of any that flies in the air. So 12 Zach. 8. In that day he that is feeble shall be as David, and the house of David shall be as God.* So 110 Psal. 3. It is prophesied of the first bringing in of the Gospel, that Thy people shall be a willing people in the day of thy power. And this was to be when God should send forth the rod of his power out of Sion, as it is vers. 2 You know what Hushai said of David, 2 Samuel 17. 8. He and his men were *mighty men, and chased in their mindes as a Beare robbed of her whelps in the field. And yet he that is feeble shall be as David. Deodate referres this promise to the begin∣ning of the Gospel, and so Cartwright. That is the second reason.
[Reson 3] 3 The Lord did this to put a greater glory upon the Gospel, and to raise the estima∣tion of it in the hearts of men: for had the Gospel had but a few converts, and had it had but a little successe at the first pro∣mulgation of it, the people would not so much have taken notice of it, neither would they so much have admired it, nor so high∣ly esteemed of it, as they did.
[Reson 4] 4 This comes to passe because of the perspicuity of the doctrine of the Gospel above that of the law. The Gospel came now to be preached to the peoples capacity more then it was in the time of the law. Though it is true, that pure Gospel for the substance of it was preached in the time of the Law, yet not so plainly as in the time of the Gospel. For the law is nothing else but a dark Gospel, and the Gospel nothing else but a clear law. The law was hid and vail∣ed under dark shadowes and ceremonies: But the Gospel was clear and evident. This you have fully set forth, 2 Cor, 3. 15. When*Moses was read, there was a vail upon their hearts, v. 6. and when they turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. And vers. 18. But*we all with open face behold as in a glasse the glory of the Lord, &c. This is also foretold, *Isa. 30. 26. at the promulgation of the Gos∣pel, The light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun, and the ligho of the Sun shall be se∣venfold as the light of seven dayes, &c.
[Reson 5] 5 Because of that great and glorious li∣berty which the Gospel instated them in above the law, I do not mean sensuall, but a Christian and holy, a Gospel-liberty. Thus Baptisme was appointed in the room of Circumcision. Our Saviour made this * proffer, Come unto me, all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matth. 11. 28. Which place is not onely to be understood of labouring under the burden of sin, but also under the bondage and yoke of the Ceremoniall law, under all those costly, painfull and toilsome rites imposed upon them: which were a yoke that neither they nor their fathers were able to bear, as Peter speaks of Circumcision, Acts 15. 10. And so you have the reasons for the Gospels suc∣cesse * in the dayes of John. And thus much for the first question.
The second question is this. How comes * it to passe that the Ministery of the Word is not so successefull now as it was in the dayes of the first preaching of it? I an∣wer, many reasons may be given. Some from the Minister, some from the people.
1 In regard of the Minister, and they are five. *
[Reson 1] Because Ministers are not so powerfull in preaching, and exemplary in life as John was, Joh. 5. 35. He was a burning and a shi∣ning light. There was his zeal in preaching, there was the holinesse of his conversation. Luke 1. 16. And many of the children of Is∣rael*shall he turn to the Lord their God, and he shall go before them in the spirit and power of E lias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the chil∣dren, and the disobedient to the wisdome of the just, &c. Nazianzen said of Basil, that he thundred in his doctrine, and lightened in his life.
[Reson 2] Ministers preach not the Gospel so pure∣ly and perfectly as John did, Mark 1. 1. John preached the Gaspel of Jesus Christ. Verse 3. He preached repentance and remission of sins. Although John did bring in the Gos∣pel, yet withall he preached up duties, and not cried down duties; he pressed on duties, and did not cast them off; he did earnestly presse on the duties of the morall law, he preached repentance, whereas many Mini∣sters now a dayes account this but a legall and servile work not fit for Christians un∣der the Gospel to be employed about, not fit for Ministers to preach, or people to hear. And this is one great reason why men take up such sinfull liberty to follow their own wayes and lusts, and by which meanes the Gospel comes to be the lesse successefull. But this you see was far from Johns minde and temper; for, said he, Repent, for the Kingdome of heaven is at hand, Matth. 3. 2. Oh generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? was our Saviours lan∣guage, Matth 22. 33. Jerem. 23. 22. But if*they had stood in my counsell, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evill way, and from the evill of their doings: and 32. Behold, I am against them that prophesie false dreams, saith*the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to erre by their lies, and by their lightnesse; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them, therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord. 2 Cor. 4. But we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in*crastinesse, nor handling the Word of God de∣ceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth com∣mending our selves to every mans conscience in the sight of God. It doth enervate and e∣masculate the power of the Word to have it mixed with falshoods. Much truth is preached in the Church of Rome, yet con∣version is not ordinarily amongst them, be∣cause they adulterate the truth by many er∣rours.
The Scribes did little good by their preach∣ing, because they did mingle so many un∣grounded traditions which they taught without any authority, Matth. 7. 29. Christ taught as one having authority, and not as the*Scribes.
[Reson 3] 3 Because Ministers preach not so plain∣ly as John did, either in matter, method, or manner of expression. 1 Cor. 14. part of the 5 verse,—Greater is he that prophesieth then he that speaketh with tongues, except he in∣terpret, that the Church may receive edifying. Many Preachers are like Heraclitus, who was called the dark Doctour, they affect sublime notions, obscure expressions, un∣couth phrases, not making difficult truths plain, but plain truths difficult. They darken*counsell by words without knowledge, Job 38. 2.
[Reson 4] 4 Because Ministers preach not so me∣thodically as John did. Matth. 3. 2. John preached, saying, Repent, for the Kingdome*of heaven is at band; Mark saith, the Gos∣pel * begun with Johns Ministery, Mark. 1. 1. and his doctrine began with repentance Men take up other methods now adayes, and so prove unsuccessefull.
[Reson 5] 5 Because there is not that harmony a∣mong Ministers now that was formerly. John preached what the Prophets taught, and Christ trod in Johns steps, and the A∣postles exactly agreed with and continued in the doctrine of their predecessours. But now in our time Ministers are divided; one preacheth one thing, another preacheth an∣other thing; and this doth very much trouble the mindes of people, and makes many stumble at the word, and so the Gos∣pel proves unsuccessefull.
2 This comes to passe from the people, * and that for four reasons.
1 People do more question the office, and calling of the Ministery now then they did question Johns. Matth. 21. 26.—All men hold John as a Prophet. The reason why Pauls Ministery was ineffectuall to many Corinihians was this; because they questi∣oned his calling, and therefore he labours to vindicate his Apostolicall authority all along the Epistle. This doth take off that awe and majesty that should be in men to the Word. As on the contrary, the reason why the Ministery of Paul was so effectuall to the Thessalonians, was this: Because when they received the Word of God, they recei∣ved it not as the word of men, but (as it is in truth) as the Word of God, which effectually worketh in them that believe, 1 Thess. 2. 13. * I know that some question the lawfulnesse of our Ministery upon this ground, because miracles do not attend our preaching, as they did at the first promulgation of the Gospel. But this is no just reason, and (that I may remove this obstacle of the successe of the Gospel) I shall by the way briefly disprove it. *
1 John had his calling from heaven, Mat. 21. 25, 26. and yet John did no miracle, John 10. 41.
2 Miracles are not necessary now as they * were at the first planting of the Gospel. There was more need of miracles then that the people might give attendance to the Ministery in those days. The Jews require a signe, 1 Cor. 1. 22. 1 Cor. 14. 22. Tongues are for a signe not to them that believe, but to them that believe not, but prophesying serveth*not for them that believe not, but for them which believe,
3 Miracles were signes of the Apostleship but not of the Ministery, 2 (or. 12. 12. The signes of an Apostle were wrought among you,—in signes, and wonders, and mighty deeds.*Timothy and Titus could work no miracles, yet no man doubts of their authority. So that want of miracles doth not at all inva∣lidate the authority of the Ministery. So I have removed the first impediment of the successe of the Gospel in our dayes:
That is the first reason.
[Reson 2] The long continuance of the Word makes it unsuccessefull, (such is the corrup∣tion of mens hearts.) The nature of man is for new things, and in tract of time the love of men to the Word is eaten out, whereas at the first people flocked to the Gospel, as Doves to the windowes, yet af∣terward they grew carelesse and negligent in Gods Ordinances. Manna at first was loved, but afterwards it cloyed the Israe∣lites, and they loathed it. Many men are Christ and Gospel glutted.
[Reson 3] Another reason is, because Discipline is not joyned with Doctrine. The Church is the garden of God, the Doctrine is the flowers of this garden, Discipline is the hedge. Neither Christ nor John the Baptist by their comming would destroy the go∣vernment of the Church among the Jews, and when that was taken down Christ set up another in its stead. Now look, as it is in a State, the intervals of government breed many State-heresies, if I may so call them, mutinies, factions, and parties among the people, interrupting the peace of the land: So it is in the Church, when the reines of government are let loose, in-come errours and disorders; and the good seed is choak∣ed by that meanes.
[Reson 4] 4 This comes to passe from the dis-use of family-duties. The reason why the re∣formation succeeded so well in Germany was because the peoples catechizing went a∣long with Luthers preaching. It was laid as a charge upon masters of families, that they should catechize their children, Deut. 6. 6, 7. And these words which I command thee*this day shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, &c.
People do not back the Ministers preach∣ing of the Word with this duty of prayer, that God would sanctifie the word preach∣ed to their souls, and make it successefull. It is an observable passage which you finde, Mark 4. 24. Take heed what you hear; for with what measure you were it shall be measu∣red to you, and unto you that hear shall more be given. Sometimes this expression is referred to rash judgement, as Matth. 7. 2. sometimes to works of mercy, but here it is used as an argument to stir up people to prepare their hearts for the hearing of the Word with care and conscience. For if it be your care to fit your selves for the Word, and to set∣tle it in your hearts, and practise it in your lives, God will then measure the same back unto you by his blessing of the Word, to the salvation and edification of your souls: whereas the neglect of this duty is a great cause why the word is not so successfull now as it was formerly.
MATTHEW 11. 12.
And from the dayes of John the Baptist untill now, the Kingdom of heaven suffer∣eth violence, and the vio∣lent take it by force.
*THe doctrinall part being finish∣ed, I now come to application. And this doctrine may be usefull in five respects. 1 For reproof. 2 For comfort. 3 For instruction. 4 For caution. 5 To stirre up our lamentation.
[Use. 1] 1 This will reprove severall sorts of per∣sons. Out of this Quiver I may draw ten arrowes of reproof, that may pierce into the hearts of ten severall sorts of men.
[Reproof 1] 1 It reproves those who are violent in the wayes of sin, that put forth themselves to the utmost, and draw out their strength in wayes of wickednesse: that like those in Jerem. 8. 6. that turn to their course, as the herse rusheth into the battel; as an horse that * is so fierce in the war that he rusheth into it without fear of danger: So the Spirit of God setteth forth the wickednesse of mens hearts; by nature they rush into sin, not considering what they do, as the horse. See what Job saith concerning the horse, Job 39. 19. Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou cloathed his neck with thunder? 20. Caust thou make him afraid as a grasse-hopper, the glo∣ry of his nostrils is terrible. 21. He paweth in the valley, and rojoyceth in his strength, he go∣eth on to meet the armed men. 22. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted, neither turneth he back from the sword. Verse 25. He saith a∣mong the trumpets, Aha, Aha, and he smelleth the battel afar off, the thunder of the captains and shooting. Even in this manner do wicked men rush into wickednesse; no fear, nor wit can restrain them; no dangers, nor threat∣nings either from God or man can keep them in. Jerem. 2. 23. They are as a swift*Dromedarie, traversing her wayes. Their course is evill, and their force is not right. Jeremy 23. 10. Their hearts are fully set in them to do evill, Eccles. 8. 11. They weary themselves to commit iniquity, Jeremy 9. 5. The people la∣bour*in the fire, and weary themselves for very vanity, Habak. 2. 13. They sleep not except* they have done mischief, and their sleep is taken away, except they cause some to fall, Prov. 4. 16. *
2 This reproves those that instead of an holy violence are guilty of tumultuous violence, that by force and power disturbe humane societies, destroying laws and go∣vernment, that do as Antiochus did, Dan. 7. * 25. He spoke great words against the most high, and were out the Saints of the most high, and thought to change times and laws.
3 This reproves those that instead of an holy violence, are guilty of oppressing violence, which is the sin chiefly of rich men Mic. 6. 12. For the rich men thereof are full vio∣lence.*It is they that grinde the faces of the poor. Mic. 2. 2. They covet fields, and take them by vi∣olence,*& houses, & take them away, and so they oppresse a man and his house. Amos 3. 10. They*know not to do right, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces. Prov. 4. 17. They eat the*bread of wickednes, & drink the wine of violence.
4 This reproves those who are eager & vio∣lent in their pursuits after the things of this life, but not so after spiritual things; we are all upon the spur, all upon the wing after the world, here is violence upon violence, labour upon labour for these things which we may have, and yet be never the better, and want them, and yet be never the worse. Covetous men are said to pant after the dust of the earth, Amos 2. 7. So eager are they in * their pursuit after the world, as if they were almost out of breath. Psal. 59. 6, 14. They return at evening, they make a noise like a dog,*and go about the city. No creature is so sen∣sible of hunger as a dog. Covetous men are like dogs towards the world, as if they were made up all of desires, but towards the things of eternity we are as if we were all Stoicks, and had no passions in us. As hot * as fire for earth, and as cold as any ice for heaven. Oh how many pant after the earth who have no breathing after heaven!
5 This reproves those who are violent opposers of the Gospel. As the former may be called a worldly violence, so this may be called a persecuting violence. Such was the violence of Paul before his conversion, Act. 26. 11. I punished them oft in every Sy∣nagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme, and*being exceedingly mad against them, I persecu∣ted them even unto strange Cities. The Scribes and Pharisees are said to be filled with mad∣nesse, against Christ after the miracle was wrought in curing the man with the wither∣ed hand, Luke 6. 11. There are some that understand my Text of this persecuting vi∣olence. * This is called a rage reaching up to heaven, 2 Chron. 28. 9.
6 This reproves such, who account an * holy zeal and violence in the wayes of re∣ligion to be onely a furious frensie. Such were they, Act. 2. 13. that said, These men*are filled with new wine, vvhen the Apostles were zealous in the preaching of the Gos∣gel. Such were the friends of Christ, when he was zealous and servent in the doing of his Fathers will, and so intent upon it that he had no leasure to eat his meat, They went to lay hold of him, for they said, He is beside himself, Mark 3. 21. The like censure did Fest us passe on Paul, when he was zealous * to win men to the Gospel; he said, Thou art beside thy selfe, much learning doth make thee mad, Act. 26. 24. Basil, when he was passionately eager against the Arrian here∣sie, * it was interpreted a symptome of his dotage. If men will not be bafled out of their religion, reformation, &c. they are esteemed but furious zealots, men of violent spirits. Thus it fared with zealous Paul, 2 Cor. 5. 13. Whether we are beside our selves, it is to God, or whether we be sober, it is for your*cause.
7 This reproves those who were once violent and zealous in religion, but now their zeal is abated. We have a proverb: Nothing that is violent is durable; if the violent motion proceeds from some exter∣nall * artificiall cause, and not from a rooted stirring principle within Many that go in the wayes of God meerly from an exter∣nall principle, it may be credit or profit, though they may be seemingly violent for a time, yet their violence will not last, they will not be stedfast in the wayes of religion and in a Christian course. Some who have flourished in the Spring have had a wither∣ing time, their fruit decayed as the leaves fall off in Autumn. It may be said of ma∣ny in regard of their souls, as it was said of David in regard of his body: When he was old and stricken in years, they covered him with cloaths, and he gat no heat, 1 King. 1. 1. Many, * though they are plied with ordinances, can get no heat in them. Augustine observes it of many in his dayes, that would at their first conversion pray frequently & live ho∣lily, but after a while they would grow more remisse, and pray more coldly and slightly then they did before. There are few of whom after a long profession of re∣ligion it can be said, as was said of Moses, Deut. 34. 7. His eye was not dim, nor his natu∣rall force abated. Many are like Asa, their * end is worse then their beginning.
8 This reproves those that content them∣selves with moderation in the matters of religion, that account a dram of zeal e∣nough for a talent of discretion, as Mr. Greenham said. Many men are of this opi∣nion, that religion is dangerous, and that an holy violence in religion is attended with troubles and dangers, and therefore it is best to be moderate in religion. There are many of these men in our dayes, other∣wise religion had never come to so low an ebbe as now it is. It was the saying of one, that men may be religious, but then they must not be too zealous: they must not be too violent for the wayes of God, for then they are called men of hot & furious spirits; Men (it seemes) must not love religion too much. Amama quotes Tarnovius, who mentions a sort of men that brought in an opinion, which he cals a new Gospel, that if a man perform the externall duties of re∣ligion, if he go to the Church, hear the word, pray, &c. it was sufficient for salva∣tion. Of this temper Gallio was, Act. 18. 17. Gallio cared for none of those things. A * little religion will serve the turn. Most of the Statists and Politicians of this world are of this temper, which God will one day account a Laodicean lukewarmnesse or timerous cowardize. Geographers, who write of the situation of England, say, that it is between the Torrid and the Frigid Zone, neither hot nor cold; I wish our hearts were not like our land.
9 This reproves those that expresse more violence outwardly then they have inward∣ly.
There are many men that wil hear Sermons on Lords dayes, & Lectures on week-dayes, speak well of religion, and of the wayes and people of God, but if you look to them in their families, and in their closets, you shall finde them of another temper. These men are like pepper, hot in the mouth, but cold in the stomack. I may resemble such to a pot boiling over the fire, hot at the top, cold at the bottome. So some men are boiling hot in the mouth, but their hearts are cold and frozen. As it is with men sick of a feaver, the face and hands and other externall parts of the body burn, when the heart shakes and quivers with cold.
10 This reproves those who all their life remain dull and sluggish in religion, that like Carriers horses keep their ordinary pace, they will not go beyond their bating place, they are like Dromedaries, swift in the wayes of sin, but like the dull Asse, slow in the vvayes of God. The firstling of other beasts was to be offered to God, but not the firstling of an asse, Exod. 13. 13. And every firstling of an asse thou shalt redeem*with a lamb, and if thou wilt not redeem it thou shalt break its neck; to note that of sluggish and dull hearts, the very best ser∣vices are not acceptable to God. The snail is reckoned among the unclean creatures, Levit. 11. 30. Those hearts that are of this * dull constitution are impure and odious in the sight of God. And thus much shall serve by way of reproof.
2 This doctrine is usefull for comfort, * and that 1. To Ministers. 2. To hearers.
1 To Ministers; and that for 3 reasons.
1 Though here is matter of trouble, * yet no fear of guilt, if thou discharge thy duty faithfully, though not succes∣fully. Ezek. 3. 19. If thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickednesse,*nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his ini∣quity, but thou hast delivered thy soul. Act.* 20. 26. when Paul had used his utmost en∣deavours at Ephesus, he vindicates himselfe thus; I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. Act. 18. 6. when *Paul preached to the Jews, and they would not obey the Gospel, He shook his raiment, & said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads, I am clean: from henceforth I will go to the Gentiles. Though a Minister doth all his dayes plow the rocks, and sowe the sands, and spend his strength in vain, yet this will bring no guilt upon a Ministers conscience: for though it be the Ministers duty to preach the Word, yet it is Gods work to convert the soul.
3 God rewards Ministers according to their labour, not successe, 2 Cor. 2. 15. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in*them that are saved, and in them that perish.
The father payes the nurse, though the childe die. The Apothecaries bill must be paid, though the patient die: So God will reward Ministers, though successe be not answerable to their endeavours, Isa. 49. 4. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, and*spent my strength for nought and in vain, yet surely my judgement is with the Lord, and my work with my God; or the reward of my work.
3 The word may live in the hearers hearts when the Minister is dead, John 4. 36, 37. He that reapeth, receiveth wages, and*gathereth fruit unto life eternall, that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoyce to∣gether. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. As a wicked man doth hurt after his death, so a good man doth good, 2 King. 23. 15. Jeroboams* wickednesse proved a snare to Israel in the dayes of Josiah, which was 360 years after his death. And Davids example did good on Josiah 400 years after, 2 King. 22. 2. Jo∣siah did that which was right in the sight of the*Lord, and walked in all the wayes of David his father.
2 As here is comfort for Ministers, so * also here is comfort to hearers, and that for 3 reasons:
1 God never expected all should attein the same measure of grace. Although, Luk.* 8. 8. the seed that fell in good ground is said to bear an hundred fold, yet, Matth 13. 23. the grounds differed, and some brought*forth but sixty, some but thirty. Christ hath lambs in his fold as well as sheep, Babes in his house as well as strong men.
2 It may be what is wanting in a sudden and short violence, is made up in solidity. Oakes grow not so fast as the Willow-trees, but they grow more solidly.
3 God will cherish the smallest begin∣nings of good in the hearts of his people, Cant. 7. 12. Let us go up early to the vineyards, let us see if the vine flourish, whether the ten∣der*grape appear, the pomegranates bud forth, there will I give thee my loves. The Lord Jesus took notice not onely of the strong and grown grapes, but also of the tender grapes, not onely of the fruit, but of the buddings. The very buddings of grace are accepted. And how should this comfort weak Christians, and incourage them to increase with the increase of God, and to get more of this holy violence in heavenly things, Matth. 12. 20. A bruised reed he will not break and a smoaking flax he will not quench, till he send forth judgement into vi∣ctory. He speaks there of new converts holy desires, and gracious resolutions in a poor soul, though they do but smoak, and not burn, yet Jesus Christ will not quench them till he have brought forth judgement to victory, by which he meanes, till they come to be perfect men and women in Christ Jesus.
MATTHEW 11. 12.
And from the dayes of John the Baptist untill now, the Kingdom of heaven suffer∣eth violence, and the vio∣lent take it by force.
*IN the third place, this doctrine may serve for instruction touch¦ing severall things. 1 The na∣ture * of this holy violence. 2 The necessity of it. 3 The dis∣covery of it. 4 The differences betwixt an heady and holy violence.
Quest. 1. If you ask, what is the nature of this holy violence? *
I answer, 1 It is a full and vehement bent of a mans desires, affections, and en∣deavours after Jesus Christ in the Gospel; so that no difficulties or discouragements whatsoever shall take him off from his pur∣suit after Christ in the way of his ordi∣nances.
2 For the necessity of it, that appears in * 5 regards. 1 In regard of God. 2 In re∣gard of ourselves. 3 In respect of the de∣vil. 4 In respect of other men. 5 In re∣spect of heaven it self.
1 In regard of God, Eccles. 9. 10. What∣soever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy*might. God requires this at your hands, Rom. 12. 11. Not slothfull in businesse, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. The word signi∣fies boiling in spirit.
2 In regard of our selves, and that for two reasons.
1 We have violent temptations against us, our affections must be equal to our tem∣ptations *; if our affections be not violent, how can we resist violent temptations? shall not we be as violent to save our souls as the Devil is to damne them? Satan in∣vades the soul with fierce and furious as∣saults.
2 We have been violent in the wayes of sin. Shew as much violence in the wayes of God, as you can, and when you have done all, it will come short of your former vio∣lence in the wayes of sin, Rom 6. 19. As*ye have yielded your members servants to un∣cleannesse, and to iniquity unto iniquity: even so now yield your members servants to righte∣ousnesse unto holinesse. There are three To’s in the expression of the service of sin, to uncleannesse, to iniquity, and unto iniqui∣ty, but in the service of God there are one∣ly two To’s, to righteousnesse, and unto holines. To note that we were more addict∣ed to sin formerly then now we are to grace; the reason is, then there was nothing but sin in the soul, now there is something else besides grace, a stream of corruption to op∣pose it. We ought to be as violent in good as in evil: the same word which signifies to persecute, Act. 26. 11. is used to set out his earnest pressing towards heaven, Phil.* 3. 14.
- In regard of the devill. He hath vio∣lent temptations and suggestions, 1 Pet. 5. 8. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil as a roaring lion walketh about, seek∣ing*whom he may devour. 1 He is said to be an adversary. Now an adversary will * watch all opportunities for your hurt, and wil be intently set upon it. 2 He is a lion, not a lamb; a lion, a savage, fierce, and furi∣ous creature. 3 He is not asleep, but a roaring lion. 4 Not a lion standing still, contented with the prey when he hath got∣ten it, but still going about for more: he is not contented with what he hath gotten, though he hath been going about ever since Adams fal, yet he goes about still for more, he labours to sill hell with souls. 5 He * seeks whom he may devour. The devill watcheth, and doest thou sleep?
4 In regard of other men, and those ei∣ther bad or good.
1 In regard of bad men.
1 Consider, they are violent against the truth, and wilt not thou be as eager and vi∣olent in the profession of the Gospel, as they are in their oppositions against it? As Zeno said to one of his acquaintance, who was enticed to bear false witnesse against another, and walked privately, because he would avoid the man that sought to sub∣orn him. Oh, said Zeno, Shall he not be ashamed of sin, and wilt thou be ashamed to set thy selfe against sin?
2 Bad men rage and are violent in wayes of wickednesse: Wicked men are as swift as dromedaries in the wayes of sin, and wilt thou be as a dull asse in the service of God? shall a man run fast in a way of sin to destroy his soul, and will you but creep in the wayes of God to save your soul? shall wicked men run post to hell, and wilt thou but creep slowly to heaven? Shall a man make speed to the place of execution, and wilt thou but move slowly towards a crown and throne? shall wicked men not be ashamed to shew their rage in a sinfull course, and shall godly men be ashamed to be zealous in the wayes of God? Jer. 8. 6. * They turn to their course as the horse rush∣eth * into the battel, Jer. 9. 5. They weary themselves to commit iniquity, will not you do as much for God as they do for Sa∣tan?
2 In regard of good men. How eager * and earnest are they after God? Caleb and Joshua followed God fully, Numb. 14. 24. vvhen hypocrites follow God partially and by halves. Psal. 132. 4, 5. David vvas so vio∣lent for God, that he would give no sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eye-lids, untill he found out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. As on the contrary, those wicked men, Prov. 4. 16. were so vio∣lent in wickednesse, that they could not sleep, except they caused some to fall. Psal. 69. 9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, and the*reproaches of them that reproached thee fell upon*me.
5 In respect of heaven it self, Luke 13. 24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for ma∣ny*I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall*not be able. Strive to an agony, or as in an agony men strive for life: it is not enough to seek; many seekers shall never finde, but there must be striving: there must be a kinde of holy impatiency to get into heaven, 1 Cor. 9. 24, 25. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize: So run that ye may obtain. And every man that*striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. 2 Tim. 2. 5. *And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully. Heaven is compared to a hill, and hell to a pit. It * vvill cost a man sweat and labour to get up an hill, but it is an easie thing to go down into a pit. Heaven is as Canaan (the type of it) was, though a land of promise, yet of conquest too. There were many Gi∣ants there, the sons of Anak in the land. Heaven is not had vvithout eagernesse, Luk 16. 16. Every man presseth into it. It is an * allusion to souldiers that storm a City or strong Garrison, vvith all the speed and vi∣olence they can. Should souldiers go about that great vvork in a marching pace, they might all be cut off. And thus much shall suffice for the second thing, to shevv the necessity of this holy violence.
The 3 thing is the discovery of this holy * violence. Novv it is discovered by these follovving marks. A violent or zealous per∣son is one,
1 Who is patient in his ovvn cause, but impatient in Gods cause. This vvas the temper of David. What the enemies did to David vvas but as a pin in the flesh, but vvhat they did against God vvas as a svvord in his bones. Isal. 42. 1 As with a sword in my bones mine enemies reproached 〈◊〉, whilest they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? The reproaching of God vvas as death to him, as though he had been slain by it, as slaying*in my bones. Moses vvas a man very meek in his ovvn vvrongs, Numb. 12. 3. Moses was very meek above all the men that were upon the face of the earth; but in the cause of God, Exod 32. he carried himselfe as if he had * been a man made up all of passion, he broke the tables of stone. So Jesus Christ vvas famous for his gentlenesse, he vvas a lambe for meeknesse, and yet in the cause of his Father, he applied that to himselfe; The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, John 2. * 17.
- He never thinks that he began to serve God soon enough, or did him work enough, Psal. 63. 1. Early will I seek thee, and v. 8. *My soul followeth hard after God. Act. 13. 22. God gave David this testimony, and said, * I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine ovvn heart, vvhich shall fulfill all my vvill. Psal. 119. 6. Then shall I not be*ashamed, when I have respect to all thy com∣mandments.
- He is desirous to glorifie God by suf∣fering as vvell as by doing, to follow the lamb whitherscever he goes; to the vvildernesse, as vvell as to paradise; to a prison, as vvell as to a palace. Jer. 2. 2. I remember the kindeness*of thy youth,—when thou wentest after me in a land that was not sowne. Cant. 8. 5. Who is*this that cometh up from the wildernesse, leaning upon her beloved, from the wildernesse of afflictions. Matth. 8. 19. A certain Scribe*came to him, and said, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. He would follow Christ in doing, but not in suffering, as cloth doth last in wearing, but shrink in wetting; for when Christ told him, The foxes have holes, the birds of the air nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head, verse 20. his courage was abated.
4 He lookes more after duty then re∣ward, and complains more of his defects in it, then for want of expected returnes to it. Many men are content to follow God, so long as there is any advantage in so doing; they wil do their duty, but they do not care for duty, but upon expectation of rewards. Remiss spirits follow God as a dog doth his master, till he comes by a carrion, then he leaves his master, and turns aside to it: So wicked men follow God till they come at a carrion, till they meet with some stink∣ing lust, some occasion or object of sin, but then they depart from God, and close with it. But on the contrary David followed after God, and thirsted for God even then when he was in a drie and thirsty land, where no water was, Psal. 63. 1. Had we been in *Davids case, we should have said, O Lord, give me drink; had we been in a barren land, we should have said, O Lord, give me food: but David in a barren and thirsty land cries, O Lord, give me thy self. That is the spi∣rit of a man that is truly zealous after the Gospel.
5 Difficulties and opposition do rather quicken then abase his endevours; what ad∣ventures will he not make? what paines will he not take? what hazards will he not run for God? And as it is with the fire in the Smiths forge• that growes hotter and more violent when the water is sprinkled upon it, or as fire burnes the most vehe∣mently in a cold and frosty day: So that opposition that is made against a zealous man doth but make it the more eager and fervent by a holy Antiperistasis. Thus it was in the dayes of Christ, the harder it was to get to him, the more violent and restlesse were they till they came to him. They trod one upon another, being an innumerable multi∣tude of people, Luke 12 1. Some forced their * passage to Christ (as we say hunger doth to meat) through stone walls, Mark 2. 4. And*when they could not come nigh unto Christ for the preasse, they uncovered the roof where he was, and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed, &c. Such was the temper of that Sy∣rophenician, whose zeal vvas not quench∣ed but increased by opposition, though e∣ven Christ did set himselfe against her as an adversary; When Christ said, It is not meet to take the childrens bread and give it to dogs,*Mark 7. 27. Here is cold vvater (one vvould think) enough to quench the zeal of many a professour, but the fire of her zeal made fuel of this cooling expression; She answer∣ed, Yet the dogs under the table, eat of the chil∣drens crumbs, verse 28. One compares a vi∣olent Christian to a burre, the more paines * you take to get it off, it sticks the faster on: So a zealous Christian, the more you ende∣vour to pull him from God, he cleaves the closer to him. This vvas Davids disposi∣tion, vvhen he danced before the Lord, vvhen Michal despised him, and reproved him, and fell foul upon him for it; he an∣svvers, I will yet be more vile then thus, & will be base in mine own sight, for it was before the Lord, 2 Sam 6. 21, 22. And thus much for the third particular, the discovery of this * holy violence. I novv come to the fourth.
The fourth particular is the difference * betvvixt an heady and rash, and an holy and religious violence. Novv I shall shevv that in 10 particulars.
1 It is most seen in triviall and circum∣stantiall matters. Such vvas the violence of the Pharisees, about vvashing their vessels and their hands before meat, but they never lookt after the vvashing of the heart. So the Prelaticall party shevved much heat and violence about ceremonies, vvhereas they vvere lukevvarm, yea cold in more substan∣tiall matters, the observation of the Sab∣bath, and the strict exercise of holinesse, &c. They were very violent for the linnen Ephod, though it may be there was a le∣prous skin under it; they took great care to have railes about the Communion-table, but never took care to make a rail to keep prophane persons from the prophanation of the Sacrament; but now a godly man is most conversant about that which may be most advantagious to him, which will bring him neerest heaven, which will be of most use to him to glorifie God, and to save his soul.
2 It is kindled by passion and vain glo∣ry in the one, by a zeal and holy indigna∣tion in the other. Thus many men are zea∣lous in the broaching of errours; when they cannot get glory by holding the truth, then they will give up themselves to vent errours. Whereas true violence comes from a better principle, and aimes at an higher end. The fire of the Altar was to come from heaven, Levit. 9. 24. And when Nadab and Abihu* offered sacrifice with strange fire, it was not accepted, nay they were slain in their enter∣prize. Our zeal should be a fire from hea∣ven. God accounts that strange fire we fetch from our own hearts.
3 Violent rash zeal makes a man go be∣yond the bounds of his place and calling. Samuel reprov’d Saul for his heady violence, 1 Sam. 13. 13. When Saul had taken upon * him to offer sacrifice, Samuel said, Thou hast done foolishly. Yet Saul pleaded a fair excuse. verse 11, 12. Saul said, Because I saw*that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the dayes appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves toge∣ther to Michmash, therefore said I, The Phili∣stistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord. I forced my selfe therefore, and offered a burnt∣offering.
You see Saul had much to say, yet all would not serve to justifie his invasion into the Priests office. Such was the violence of Peter, Matth. 26. 51. He stretched out his hand, and drew his sword and strook a servant*of the High Priest, and smote off his ear. But an holy violence makes a man zealous in his place. A zealous Magistrate will severely punish sin, let other Justices indulge it. A zealous Minister will be faithfull and fer∣vent in the reproving of sin, though o∣thers prove dumb dogs, or flatterers that sowe pillowes under mens elbowes: So a zealous master of a family resolves with good Joshua, That he and his house will serve the Lord, Josh. 24. 15. whatever other ma∣sters and other families do. Fire in its place * is good and usefull, but out of its place how hurtfull and destructive?
MATTHEW 11. 12.
And from the dayes of John the Baptist untill now, the Kingdom of heaven suffer∣eth violence, and the vio∣lent take it by force.
*4 AN heady violence is more eager at first then at the latter end. This difference the Philoso∣pher puts between naturall and violent motions, that naturall motions are slow at the beginning, but swifter when they come neerest their journeys end; as a falling stone moves very slow when it first begins to fall, but faster when it comes neer∣er its center. On the contrary, violent motions are swifter in the beginning, slow∣er in the conclusion. As an arrow shot out of a bow moves exceeding swiftly at the first, but afterwards flags and growes re∣misse, 〈◊〉 at last the motion of it cease. An heady violence is like the violent moti∣on, swift at first, slow afterward: But con∣trarily an holy violence is like a naturall motion, that acts vvith more vigour in the end then in the beginning. This vvas the commendation of the Church of Thyatir• That her last workes were more then her first Revel. 2. 19.
5 Heady violence vvill be discouraged in religion by small difficulties. Such vvas the violence of that man forementioned, that was earnest to come to Christ, but when Christ told him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head, Matth. 8. 20 his zeal was abated. But an holy violence * is quickened, not abated by opposition. Joh 32. 19. Behold, my belly is as wine which*hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new bot∣tles.
6 An heady violence is led more by ex∣ample then rule; like that violence of the people of Ephesus for Diana, Act.•9. * Some cried one thing, and some another, and the most part knew not wherefore they were come together. Such was the violence of the Scribes and I ha• sees, John 〈…〉 48, 49 Then answered him the 〈…〉 you also deceived? Have any of 〈…〉 the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who know not the law, are cursed. But an holy violence is led by Scripture-rule, not by popular example. The word was the rule that guided Joshua to that resolution, That he and his house would serve the Lord.
7 One that hath this heady violence is most busied with controversials and cir∣cumstantials in religion. Thus Saul was violent against the eating of the blood of the sacrifices, yet made no conscience of shedding the blood of fourscore and five of the Priests of the Lord: But an holy vi∣olence makes a man conversant in the pra∣cticals of Christianity, Tit. 2. 14. The peo∣ple*of God are a people zealous of good workes. There was lesse of the power of religion in those times wherein the Schoolmen most flourished, and the heat of mens spirits was spent in curious and frivolous speculations; while they that should have instructed the people turn’d disputants, the poor multitude became Atheists. It was an heady violence betwixt the Eastern and Western Church∣es touching the time of the observation of Easter, when many other truths of God that lay a bleeding were neglected, and they did not contend earnestly for many of the doctrines of faith that was once delivered to the Saints. So many men among us spend all their time about notions and dis∣putes, and this hath proved a very canker to eat out the power of godlinesse. In the City of Megara there was a great conten∣tion between two men which of them should stand in the shadow of an asse up∣on a Sun-shine day. Such was the violence of Paul before his conversion, Gal. 1. 14. He was exceedingly zealous for the traditions*of his fathers.
8 An heady violence is an uneven vio∣lence, there is no uniformity in it; it is a vi∣olence against some sins, not all; it is for some duties, not others; to act some graces, but not all. Such was the violence of Jehu. He was very hot and violent against the Priests and worship of Baal, 2 Kings 10. 28. Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel: But*Jehu departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin, verse 31. Such was the violence of Saul for sacrifice, but not for obedience. But now an holy violence is uniform, it carries a man out against every sin, for every duty, it makes a man to walk in all the commandements of God.
9 This heady violence will make a man disturbe humane societies and civil govern∣ment, anticipate authority: But an holy violence, though violent towards God yet is quiet and peaceable towards men; though he pursue heaven with violence, yet he lives in the earth with meeknesse and quietnesse. 2 Pet. 2. 10. Those ancient hereticks were * such as did despise government, presumptuous, self-willed, and were not afraid to speak evill of dignities. But the wisdome that is from a∣bove, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easie to be intreated, &c. I am. 3. 17. *
10 Heady violence is accompanied with stoutnesse of heart both towards God and men, it proceeds from a naturall rashnesse: But holy violence is accompanied with hu∣miliation, Revel. 3. 19. The Church of La∣odicea * is commanded to be zealous and repent. Their zeal for God must be joyn∣ed with the breaking of their own hearts. So the zeal of the Corinthians, 2 Cor. 7. 11. was accompanied with a godly sorrow, * with fear, with indignation against them∣selves, with revenge. And thus much shall suffice for the fourth particular, and last branch of the use of instruction; namely, the difference between heady and holy vi∣olence. And so much for the third use.
The fourth use is for caution, and that in four particulars. 1 Take heed of pleading * for, or being contented with a moderation in matters of religion. Moderation in reli∣gion is accounted a vertue in these times, whereas Jesus Christ would have spued us out of his mouth. If Jesus Christ commend an holy violence in the matters of religion, what becomes of this moderation? Indeed for men to be moderate in things that are lawfull is good. It is the advice of the A∣postle, Phil. 4. 5. Let your moderation be known* unto all men; the Lord is at hand: that is, let your moderation be in the love and desire of things lawfull and indifferent, of things in this world; be moderate in those things, that they may not hinder you in your course towards heaven, but not in any case to be moderate in religion; and that I shall make appear in these four particulars.
1 Moderate estates do not content you in the world. Men rise up early, and go to bed late, and eat the bread of carefulnesse, and are eager and indefatigable in their pur∣suits of the world? If you get not so much this year, you will indeavour to get more the next year; no man hath moderation af∣ter the things of this world, no man is con∣tented with that estate they are in, but la∣bours to improve it. Like the Chaldeans, of whom it is spoken, Habak. 2. 5. He in∣largeth*his desire as hest, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied But gathereth unto him, all nations, and heapeth unto him all people. And is it reason that you that are so immo¦derate in the pursuit and desire of the things of this world, should be moderate in the things of heaven?
2 You have been very immoderate in your desires after your lusts before your conversion, and therefore in all reason you should not now be moderate in your desires after God and the things of God. How ma∣ny times have you bin as it were sick till you have you accomplisht your ends in a sinful course, and will you not now be sick of love after Christ, and after heavenly things? Hast thou not burnt in lust, and will you now be key-cold in religion?
3 God doth expresse as great, yea more dislike of lukewarmnesse in religion, as if a man were of no religion. Famous is that instance of Laodicea, Revel. 3. 15, 16. I would thou were either cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, & neither cold nor hot, I will sp••e thee out of my mouth. Not that God would have men to continue in, or return to Paganisme or Judaisme, both of which his soul abhors; but onely because he doth exceedingly distaste lukewarmnesse in the prefession of Christianity.
4 In a false religion men have shewed much zeal and forwardnesse, Isa. 46. 6. I hey*lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, & hire a Goldsmith, and he maketh it a god, they fall down, yea they worship, &c. The people were so violent in an Idolatrous religion, that they did spare no cost nor pains to accomplish it. So those false Pro∣phets, those prophets and worshippers of *Baal, 1 King. 18. 28. They cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancers till the blood gushed out upon them. So Paul when he was a Jew and adversary to Christianity; beyond measure he persecuted the Church of God, and wasted it, Gal. 1. 13. * Jerem. 32. 35. Those superstitious Jews built*the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to passe through the fire unto Moloch, which I commanded them not. So zea∣lous and servent were they in their Idola∣trous worship and service, that they would cause their children to be burnt as a sacri∣fice to their false god. So likewise among us the Papists are zealous and eager for their worship, witnesse their whippings and scourgings and fastings and other penances. If men be thus zealous in false wayes, how servent should we be in a true? But so much for the first branch of the Caution.
[Caution 2] 2 Take heed you do not think you shall ever go to heaven without this holy zeal and violence. It was onely the violent in John Baptists dayes that took heaven. You can never go to heaven except you strive to enter in at the strait gate. You must strive till you sweat, you must strive with all your might, and all will be little enough. Take heed therefore you do not think it an easie thing to go to heaven. But withall take this, though you cannot go to heaven without this holy violence, you shall never go to heaven for it. James 1. 25. Whosoever*looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and con∣tinueth therein, he being not a forgetfull hearer of the Word, but a doer also, this man shall be blessed in his deed. So that you see a man shall not go to heaven for his doing, though he cannot go to heaven without it.
[Caut. 3] 3 When you see the servants of God zealous and violent in the wayes of God, take heed you do not judge of this as the world doth, that you do not judge it a vain and needlesse thing, or that you do not judge it folly and madnesse. When Paul was thus violent for the propagation of the Gospel, when he came before Festus, Festus told him, that much learning had made him mad: But Paul said, I am not mad, but speak forth the words of truth and sobernes.
[Caut. 4] 4 Take heed thou doest not abate thy ••al in the matters of religion, because it may be thou meetest with much reproach and many scandals from the men of the world for the sake of religion. David was more eager in his dancing before the Ark, notwithstanding the scoffings of his wife. 〈◊〉 scandals and reproaches and troubles will make thee abate thy zeal for God, hou wilt never be able to hold out to the end. I will never believe that man will in∣dure a rack for his religion, that cannot bear a reproach. He that cannot indure a frown for it will never indure fire and fag∣got; if thou canst not indure a taunt or jeer for thy profession of religion, much lesse wilt thou endure a Gibbet. And so much for the use of Caution.
[Use. 5] The next use is this: This Doctrine may stirre up in us an holy lamentation: If it * vvere so, that in the dayes of John the Bap∣tist men were so holily violent after Jesus Christ and his Ordinances; then how should we lament and bewail our times, when we consider hovv defective men are novv adayes, and hovv much vve fall short of those converts at the first plantation of the Gospel?
We fall short of them. 1 In regard of * their love and union. It was observed that the primitive Christians were so full of love and affection to one another, that they could be acquainted together as well in half an hour as in half a year. In those times they were so conversant in that duty of love, that St. Paul saith, They needed not that he should write to them concerning love, 1 Thess. 4. 9. In those dayes they were of one accord. The very Heathens took notice of * it, and said: Behold, how the Christians love one another. But we are fallen into those times wherein the love of men grows cold; we, upon whom the ends of the world are come, bite, and teare, and devour one another.
2 We come short of them in the con∣tempt * of the world. You know hovv much those Christians, Hebr. 11. lived a∣bove the vvorld: They confessed that they were but strangers and pilgrims upon earth, verse 13. They vvere not satisfied vvith the vvorld, but sought after a better Coun∣trey. They came and laid their wealth at the Apostles feet to do with it whatsoever he plea∣sed. For cloathing they vvere contented with sheeps skins and goats skins; and in∣stead of our stately houses they vvere sa∣tisfied vvith dens and caves of the earth.
- We fall short of the primitive Chri∣stians herein also, that they vvere taken off from that form of religion vvherein they vvere born and bred up, and received a nevv form of religion. Whereas they might have objected, all our fathers vvere bred up in the law of Moses, and shall vve take upon us a nevv vvay, a nevv religion? But they did not contend about it, they forsook the rudiments of Moses, and imbraced this nevv vvay and doctrine, vvhich as they thought vvas never taught before. But vve are more addicted to customes then Scri∣ptures, vve chuse rather to follovv vvhat hath been, then to consider vvhat should be. Many have much reasoning and con∣tention for the old forme of religion. Ma∣ny are so setled in their old formes and wayes, wherein they were born and bred, that they will not indure or seek for a bet∣ter form and way. Heylin in his Geogra∣phy reports of the King of Morocco, that he told the English Embassadour in King Johns time, that he had lately read Pauls Epistles, which he liked so well, that were he to chuse his religion, he would imbrace Christianity; but every one ought to die in the faith wherein he was born: So it is with many among us, they are perswaded they ought, and resolved they will live and die in those customes and wayes wherein they were born; they will not deny them∣selves in these triviall things for the exalta∣tion of Christ; and herein also we fall short of the primitive Christians. And thus much for the last use. And so I have dis∣patched the first and main Doctrine, I hat in the times of the first promulgation of the Gospel greater successe did attend the Ministery, and multitudes did come in with more holy violence after the ordinances then ever did before.
MATTHEW 11. 12.
And from the dayes of John the Baptist untill now, the Kingdom of heaven suffer∣eth violence, and the vio∣lent take it by force.
*THere is but one Doctrine be∣hinde, and that is taken from the consideration of the qua∣lity of those persons who did expresse this holy violence; who they were our Saviour himselfe ac∣quaints us, Matth. 21. 31. Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that the publicans*and harlots go into the Kingdome of God before you. Verse 32. The publicans and har∣lots believed John. The Pharisees that led strict lives, had a kinde of legall righteous∣nesse, yet they were not the people that did receive Jesus Christ, but publicans and har∣lots. The Pharisees and lawyers rejected or frustrated the counsell of God against them∣selves, or within themselves, being not baptized of him. But the Publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptisme of John, Luke 7. 29, 30. They that used this violence were * men that lived by rapine, deceit, exaction, and oppression; so did the Publicans. Whence the observation is this.
[Doct. 2] That usually those that have been most sinful before conversion, do expresse the more holy violence and eagernesse of affe∣ction after Jesus Christ in the Gospel after they are converted. In the handling of this point I shall do three things.
1 I shall demonstrate the truth of it by Scripture-instances.
2 I shall shew the reasons why God did pitch upon such chiefly, who were most no∣torious ill-livers.
3 I shall shew why such men are more violent in religion then others.
1 I shall demonstrate the truth of the * doctrine by Scripture-instances. I shall give but two instances; the one in Mary Mag∣dalene, the other in Paul. 1 Mary Magda∣lene, she was an unclean person, a very har∣lot, a great sinner, but after her conversion she thought nothing too much for Christ. 1 She anointed his feet with a pound of Spikenard that was very costly, worth three hundred pence, that is, worth above nine pound in our money, John 12. 5. 2 She broke through many difficulties to come to * Christ. Christ was in another mans house, (and he Simon a Pharisee) Luke 7. 36, 37. * and set down to supper. She might have raised an objection, and said, I cannot come at him, and they in the house may think e∣vill of it; but all this could not keep her back. Further, there were more discou∣ragements. Not onely Judas but others were angry at her, Mark 14. 4. There were*some (not onely Judas, but others also) that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? Yea, the Disciples too had indignation at her: Mat.* 26. 8. The Disciples had indignation. Yet she came to Christ through al these difficulties, and she wept, Luke 7. 44. And that so plen∣tifully,*that she washed the fect of Christ with her tears. Her eyes that had been windows of lost, were now flood gates of tears.
2 Another instance is that of Saul. Be∣fore his conversion he was a notorious sin∣ner. He had an hand in the death of that holy man Stephen, Act 8. 1. He was a man * that breathed out threatenings and slaugh∣ters against the Disciples of the Lord, Act.* 9. 1. He was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious, 1 Tim. 1. 13. he cared not * what he did to the people of God. Yea, further he did compel others to blaspheme, Act. 26. 11. and being exceedingly mad a∣against * them, he persecuted them even to strange Cities. And yet behold, this man that was so eminent a sinner before his con∣version, afterward made recompense; he grew and abounded in grace; he grew as eminent in grace, as he was notorious in sin. As he had hailed men to prison formerly, so now he drawes them to Christ. He preached that faith that once he persecuted, Gal. 1. 23. So much for the first particular, the proof of the point by Scripture-instan∣ces. *
The second particular is this: Why did God pitch upon such chiefly, as were most * notorious ill-livers?
[Answ. 1] I answer; Two reasons may be given of it.
1 To beat off the Pharisees from resting in their own righteousnesse, that they might see that salvation was of grace, and not of works. Had this effect appeared in multi∣tudes of the Scribes and Pharisees, some would have attributed it to their learning, others to their strict and holy walking, and austere conversation, people would have thought they had merited this at Gods hands; And therefore God passed by them, and made choice of others far more un∣holy and profane, to knock them off from their own righteousnesse, and from depen∣dance upon it.
2 It was to magnifie the riches, freeness and greatnesse of Gods grace, that was brought in and manifested by the Gospel. God would hereby give to understand that the doctrine of the Gospel was a doctrine of grace (not that men might live as they list, for these vile people were not incou∣raged in, but redeemed from a vain conver∣sation, but) Johns work • as a tough and hard work to pull down those that were as high as mountains in pride, as hard as the rocks of those mountains, to make rough and crooked things smooth and straight. And yet all this John was to do, all this John did in the preparation of the people for Christ, Isa. 40. 4. The greater the wound is, the more is the skill and care of the Phy∣sician seen and commended. The more and greater the sins are that are pardoned, the more is the grace of God advanced.
So much for the second particular.
The third particular is this: Why are * such vile and sinfull persons most eager and violent after their conversion?
[Answ. 1] Answ. 1. This proceeds from an holy in∣dignation against themselves, which is a fruit of repentance or conversion, as you read, 2 Cor. 7. 11. For this self-same thing that*ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulnesse did it work in you? yea what clearing of your selves, yea what indignation, yea what fear, yea what desire, yea what zeal, yea what revenge? There ariseth in such a desire to be reven∣ged upon themselves, Isa. 30. 22. Ye shall de∣file*also the covering of the graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold, thou shalt cast them away as a menstru∣ous cloth, thou shalt say unto them, Get thee hence. Isa. 2. 20. In that day a man shall cast*his idols of silver, and his idols of gold which they have made, each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats. Cranmer burned his right hand first, because it had subscri∣bed his recantation, and oftentimes repeat∣ed in the flame, Oh this unworthy right hand! An holy indignation makes him to reason thus within himself. Could I sin worse then others, and shall I now be con∣tented with lesse grace then others? Could I be as swift as a Dromedary in the wayes of sin, and shall I creep like a snail in the wayes of God? Have I been zealous for the committing of sin, and shall I be cold in my motions after Christ? Such persons are ashamed of their former wayes, and there∣fore they now labour to take off that re∣proach by making some reparations.
2 This proceeds from that sense that is in such persons of an utter and absolute ne∣cessity of getting into Christ. You know a man that hath but cut his finger will not make much ado, but he that hath got a great and dangerous wound sees a necessity of the cure, and that he is a dead man if he do not get help. So a man that lives in a common way of sinning, he thinks his sins are inconsiderable, he sees no necessity of closing with Christ for cure. But a man that hath been much in sin, and notorious in wickednesse, when God comes and opens his eyes by effectuall calling, he sees a neces∣sity of getting help by Jesus Christ, and that if he have not Christ, he is un∣done for ever, he shall perish eternally. And thus I have finished the doctrinal part: I proceed now to make application. And this doctrine is eminently usefull to three sorts of men. 1 To those that have been formerly very vile and great sinners, but are now converted. 2 To meer civill and honest men. 3 To those that yet remain and go on in a sinfull course.
1 To those that have been formerly very great sinners, but are now converted: To * them I have two things to say.
1 Labour to follow this pattern that is here propounded in the Gospel, and in this doctrine. Labour to proportion your gra∣ces now that you are converted, to the num∣ber and greatnesse of your sins before con∣version. As you have been violent in sin formerly, so see that now you be as vio∣lent after the things of heaven. So did Manasses, he was a great sinner, he fil∣led Jerusasalem with blood, he was a grosse Idolater, a destroyer of Gods worship, 2 Chron. 33. 12. And therefore he humbled*himself greatly before the God of his fathers. So Paul, because he was a greater sinner then the rest of the Apostles; therefore he laboured more abundantly then they all. If therefore sin hath abounded, see that grace doth abound also. As you have for∣merly added iniquity unto iniquity, so now see that you adde grace to grace. As you have with much eagernesse given up the members of your bodies, as instruments of unrighteousnesse unto sin and uncleannesse; so see that you give them up as instruments of righteousnesse unto holinesse. Particu∣larly, see that you do abound, 1 In the grace of humiliation. 2 In the grace of love. 1 In the grace of humiliation; lit∣tle humiliation is not suitable to great sins. That garment that hath most spots in it, must have most rinsing; that which hath most dust in it, needs the most beating. There must be a sicut, not onely qualitatis, but aequalitatis also, if possibly it can be. There should be some equality between the strength that was put forth in the service of sin, and that we now put forth in the service of God. It is very observable, Levit. 11. 24, 25. He that toucheth an unclean thing, shall be*unclean till even; but he that beareth an unclean thing, shall wash his cloathes, and be unclean till even. Though a man be but defiled a little with sin, if he doth but touch a sin as it were, commit a little sin, he had need be humbled; but those that wallow in sinfull courses, and bear sin about them, they must look to be more humbled then otherswere.
2 See that you proportion your love to Christ to your sinfulnesse against Christ in times past. Hast thou been a great and a vile sinner before conversion, know that a little love to Christ is not answerable to thy great sins. Luke 7. 17. Her sins which are many are forgiven her, therefore she loved much. Jesus Christ expects and requires more love of such to whom he hath par∣doned much, then he doth of those to whom little is forgiven. We read in John 21. 15. Jesus said unto Peter, Simon, son of*Jona•, Lovest thou me more then these? Jesus Christ did not ask him, Lovest thou me at all? nor, Lovest thou me as these? but, Lovest thou me more then these? Thou hast sinned more then these, doest thou love me more then these? Christ expected more love from Peter then from the rest of the Disciples. And so Peter did return more love to Christ then the rest did. And though the book of the Acts be called the Acts of the Apostles, yet there is more spoken of Peter then of all the rest of the Apostles that had seen Christ in the flesh. Peter after his fall did shew more love then the rest. 1 Peter preached the first Sermon after * Christs resurrection and ascension, Act 1. 15. 2 Peter was the first that went into the Sepulchre after Christs death and re∣surrection. Although Peter and John did run to the Sepulchre, & John out-ran Peter, and came first thither, yet Peter first went down into the Sepulchre to see where Christ was laid, John 20. 6. 3 When Christ * after his resurrection was walking upon the waters, Peter cast himself into the Sea to go to meet Jesus, he had no patience to stay till he came at him, Joh. 21. 7. 4 Peter converted * more souls to Christ then all the rest of the Apostles did, 3000 souls at one Sermon. 5 Peter died for Christ, he was crucified for Christ; and he desired that he might be cru∣cified with his head downward, because he thought it was too much honour for him to die as his Master. So you see that as Pe∣ter had been more treacherous to his master then the rest; so Peter was more ardent in his love to Christ then the rest. And so you must all learn to see, that as your sins have been more and greater then the sins of o∣ther men; so your humiliation must be more, your love must be stronger. That is the first branch of the first Use.
2 This may teach you to magnifie the riches and freenesse of Gods grace, that God should cast an eye of grace and love upon such a wretch as thou wast; that God should passe by such men as the strict Pha∣risee, and pitch upon thee: that God should not make thee as exemplary in pu∣nishment as thou wast in sin; that thou shouldest be made a monument of his mer∣cy, who deserved to be a spectacle of wrath; that God should make his mercy to rest upon thee, that might cause his justice to take hold upon thee. So much for the first Use.
2 This Doctrine is usefull to men of a * civil carriage, of an honest and in-offensive behaviour in the world, that have been re∣ligiously educated, lived ingenuously, that never broke out into such grosse and exor∣bitant courses as other men have done:
To you I would say three things.
1 Whereas you say, that you are of a more civill life then others, and so you are apt to perswade your selves your case is bet∣ter then others: Consider, others are more easily and ordinarily converted then you are: Publicans go to heaven before you. You read in Luke 18. 14. the Publican went * away justified rather then the Pharisee. Luther hath a notable glosse upon these words: It is far more easie for harlots and notorious sinners to be saved, then for proud titular Saints; because the former are easily brought to a sense of their sins, but the latter are like to perish in the con∣ceit of their own righteousnesse, except they be converted in an extraordinary manner. This I speak, not that I would disswade you from a civill course of life, or draw you to in open profanenesse; but that you may not rest upon your moral accomplishments, upon your good meanings, and think that you are sermon-proof, that the Minister can hardly meet with your corruptions and consciences.
2 If God doth convert such men usual∣ly, they are not so eminent in grace then others. This is expressed, Luke 7. 43, &c.* He to whom most is forgiven, loves most, and doth most service. Usually such con∣tent themselves with smaller measures of grace, then they whose transgressions have exceeded.
3 What thy sins want in bulk and mag∣nitude, thou makest up in number; Your transgressions are many, your back-slidings are increased, Jerem. 5. 6. Thy continuance in sins makes thy sins equivalent to greater * sins; if your sins fall short of others in na∣ture, it may be they exceed in aggravati∣ons; it may be thou sinnest against more mercy, more knowledge: it may be thou maiest have more sin in thine heart, though anothers sins do more break out in his life.
So much for the second Use.
3 This Doctrine is usefull to profane men, to the looser sort.
1 Let this be an invitation and incourage∣ment * to you to come in to Christ, and to imbrace the Gospel. 1 Though your sins be great, yet they are not so great as the mercies of God. The mercy of God is compared to a sea; the sea, you know, is a very great deep. A great Leviathan may be covered in the sea, as well as a little fish; a great rock as well as a little pebble. A remarkable place you have, Isa. 44. 22. *I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgres∣sions, and as a cloud thy sins; return unto me, for I have redeemed thee. The Sun can scat∣ter both thick and thin clouds.
2 Though thou hast been very sinfull, yet thy conversion taketh away all infamy from thee. Paul was once a blasphemer, &c. but that reproach was rolled away, when through the grace of God he found mercy. It is very observable, that in the genealogy of Christ there are but four women menti∣oned, (it is not usuall to mention women in genealogies) and the Scripture sets a mark of infamy upon them all. The first is Thamar, Matth 1. 3. she was an incestuous * woman, for she lay with her father in law, * as it is recorded, Gen. 38. 38. The second is Rahab, verse 5. she was an harlot, Heb. 11. * 31. The third is Ruth, verse 5. she came of Moab, the son of Lot by incest, begotten of his own daughter, Gen. 19. 37. The fourth is Bathsheb. 1, vers. 6. she was guilty of adul∣tery. * This is done for the comfort and in∣couragement of the most infamous sinners to come in to Christ.
3 If God call you, you are likely to be greater instruments of his glory then o∣thers. A persecuting Saul became a preach∣ing Paul; a wanton Mary became a weep∣ing Mary; she, whose whoredomes had been spoken of in all the places where she dwelt, afterward her grace came to be spo∣ken of wheresoever the Gospel was preach∣ed. So much for the first branch of that use.
2 Because Doctrines of comfort many men suck poyson from, and so get their ru∣ine; therefore I shall lay down a Caution or two. Take heed you do not abuse this doctrine.
1 Do not make the conversion of any scandolous sinner to be any stumbling block in your way to heaven. It was the great stumbling block in the way of the Pharisees, when they saw that Christ would eat meat with Publicans and sinners, they said, He was a friend of Publicans and sin∣ners. Do not entertain hard thoughts of Christ, not of the wayes of Christ for that. Indeed, if religion were any cloak for sin, if it did countenance and incourage men in sin, it were something; but it is that which makes of a sinner a Saint. Con∣version, though it finde us vile and bad, it doth not leave us so.
2 Take heed you do not suck this poison from it, that when you hear, the worse men are before conversion, the better they will be after conversion. Some, it may be, will draw this inference from it: That it is the best to be as vile and wicked as one can, for so one shall be most zealous afterward. Take heed of that. For
1 It is a great question whether God will convert thee or not; and if thou, be not converted, all thy sins will be so ma∣ny cords to tie thee in hell, the aggravati∣ons of thy sin will be additions to thy tor∣ment and punishment.
2 The deeper thou art in sin, the great∣er must thy humiliation be. Will any wise man break his leg, because a broken bone well set and knit again will be stronger then ever it was before. Knotty timber shall have most blowes.
3 The longer thou continuest in sin, the longer will God keep thee under suspensi∣on, and it will be long before he vouchsa∣feth the comforts of his Spirit, he will fill thee with indignation and horrour. Though great sins cannot vast are gratiam, lay waste the grace of God, yet they may vast are con∣scientiam, lay waste the peace of consci∣ence; though it may be they will not put thee into a state of ejection, yet they will bring thee into a state of dejection; if thou art not cast off; yet thou shalt he cast down: and therefore take heed thou doest not abuse this precious doctrine.
And so much for this last use.
And so I have done with both Doctrines, and finished the Text; And from the dayes of John the Baptist untill now the Kingdom of heaven suffer∣eth violence, and the vio∣lent take it by force.