REV. JOHN WESLEY, A.M.,
SOMETIME FELLOW OF LINCOLN COLLEGE, OXFORD.
WITH THE LAST CORRECTIONS OF THE AUTHOR.
WESLEYAN METHODIST BOOK ROOM,
2, CASTLE ST., CITY ROAD, E.C.;
AND 66, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.
[EHntertb at Stationtre' gafl.]
BAYNAr CHRISTY 'AND LILLY, LTD., HATTON WORKS, PARRINGDOIN ROLD, l.C.
FIRST SERIES CONCLUDED.
FIRST SERIES CONTINUED.
SERMON XL.-Christian Perfection.
Philippians iii. 12. Not as though I had already. attained,
either were already perfect. . . ..... 1
2 Corinthians x. 5. Bringing into captivity every thought to
the obedience of Christ . . .... 23
2 Corinthians ii. 11. We are not ignorant of his devices 32
XLIII.-The Scripture Way of Salvation.
Ephesians ii. 8. Ye are saved through faith. . ..43
Genesis vi. 5. And God saw that the wickedness of man was
great in the earth, c. . . . . 54
XLV.-The New Birth. [/
John iii. 7. Ye must be born again. . . .... .65
XLVI.-The Wilderness State.
John xvi. 22. Ye now have sorrow: But Iwill see you again,
and your heart shall rejoice, c.. . . ... 77
XLVII.-Heaviness through Manifold Temptations.
1 Peter i. 6. Now foli a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness
through manifold temptations . . .... 91
Luke ix. 23. And he said to them all, If any man oill come
after me, let him deny himself, c.. . ... 103
XLIX.-The Cure of Evil-speaking.
Matthew xviii. 15-17. If thy brother shall trespass against
thee, go and tell him his fault, c. . . 114
L.-The Use of Money.
LuKe xvi. 9. I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of
the mammon of unrighteousness; c . ... .124
SERMON LI.-The Good Steward.
Luke xvi. 2. Give an account of thy stewardship ; for thou
mayest be no longer steward. . . ... 136
LII.-The Reformation of Manners.
Psalm xciv. 16. Who will rise up with me against the
wicked ? .. ......................149
LIII.-On the Death of Mr. Whitefield.'
Numbers xxiii. 10. Let me die the death of the righteous,
and let my last end be like his! . ... .. 167
SERMON LIV.-On Eternity.
Psalm xc. 2. From everlasting to everlasting thou art God 189
LV.-On the Trinity.
1 John v. 7. There are three that bear record in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: 4~c. .199
LVI.-God's Approbation of his Works.
Genesis i. 31. And God saw everything that he had made,
and, behold, it was very good . . ... 206
LVII.-On the Fall of Man.
Genesis iii. 19. Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou
return ............... ......... 215
Romans viii. 29, 30. Whom he did foreknow, he also did pre-
destinate to be conformed to the image of his Son : c. 225
LIX.-God's Love to Fallen Man.
Romans v. 15. Not as the offence, so also is the free gift 231
LX.-The General Deliverance.
Romans viii. 19-22. The earnest expectation of the creature
waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God: 4-c. 241
LXI.-The Mystery of Iniquity.
2 Thessalonians ii. 7. The mystery of iniquity doth already
work ...................... 253
SERMON LXII.-The End of Christ's Coming.
1 John iii. 8. For this purpose was the Son of God mani-
fested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 267
LXIII.-The General Spread of the GoslpeL
Isaiah xi. 9. The earth shall be full of the knowledge oyf ne
Lord, as the waters cover the sea . ... 277
LXIV.-The New Creation.
Revelation xxi. 5. Behold, I make all things new 288
LXV.-The Duty of Reproving our Neighbour.
Leviticus xix. 17. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart:
Thou shalt in anywise rebuke thy neighbour, ccc. 296
LXVI.-The Signs of the Times.
Matthew xvi. 3. Ye can discern the face of the sky; but can
ye not discern the signs of the times? . ... 304
LXVII.-On Divine Providence.
Luke xii. 7. Even the very hairs of your head are all num-
bered .. ............................313
LXVIII.-The Wisdom of God's Counsels.
Romans xi. 33. 0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom
and knowledge of God !. . . 325
LXIX.-The Imperfection of Human Knowledge.
1 Corinthians xm. 9. We know in part . ... 337
LXX.-The Case of Reason impartially Considered.
1 Corinthians xiv. 20. Brethren, be not children in under-
standing: Howbeit in malice be ye children, 4-c. 3.50
LXXI.-Of Good Angels.
Hebrews i. 14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth
to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ? 361
LXXII.-Of Evil Angels.
Ephesians vi. 12. We wrestle not against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, . . .... 370
Mark ix. 48. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not
quenched ...... ........ ....... 381
SERMON LXXIV.-Of the Church.
Ephesians iv. 1-6. I beseech you that ye walk worthy of the
vocation wherewith ye are called, c. . . 39
1 Cor. xii. 25. That there might be no schism in the body 401
Hebrews vi. 1 Let usgo on unto perfection ..... 411
1 John v. 20. This is the true GOD, and eternal life. 424
1 John v. 21. Little children, keep yourselves from idols 435
1 Corinthians vii. 35. This I speak-that ye may attend upon
the Lord without distraction . ..... ... 444
LXXX.-On Friendship with the World.
James iv. 4. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that
the friendship of the world is enmity with God? &c. 452
LXXXI.-In what Sense we are to leave the World.
2 Corinthians vi. 17, 18. Come out from among them, and be
ye separate, saith the LORD, ScC. . . .. 464
1 Corinthians x. 13. There hath no temptation taken you but
such as is common to man: -c... . 475
James i. 4. Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may
be perfect and entire, wanting nothing .. .. 481
LXXXIV.-The Important Question.
Matthew xvi. 26. What is a man profited, if he shall gain
the whole world, and lose his own soul ? . 493
LXXXV.-On Working out our own Salvation.
Philippians ii. 12,13. Work out your own salvation with fear
and trembling: 4c. .. .......... .... 506
LXXXVI.-A Call to Backsliders.
Psalm Ixxvii. 7, 8. Will the Lord absent himself for ever?
And will he be no more entreated? *&c. 514
" Not as though I had already attained, either wer already
perfect." Philippians iii. 12.
1. THERE is scarce any expression in holy writ, which has
given more oflbnce than this. The word perfect is what many
cannot bear. The very sound of it is an abomination to them ;
and whosoever preaches perfection, (as the phrase is,) that
is, asserts that it is attainable in this life, runs great hazard
of being accounted by them worse than a heathen man or a
2. And hence some have advised, wholly to lay aside the
use of those expressions; because they have given so great
offence." But are they not found in the oracles of God ? If so,
by what authority can any Messenger of God lay them aside,
even though all men should be offended? We have not so
learned Christ; neither may we thus give place to the devil.
Whatsoever God hath spoken, that will we speak, whether men
will hear, or whether they will forbear; knowing that then
alone can any Minister of Christ be pure from the blood
of all men," when he hath not shunned to declare unto them
all the counsel of God."
3. We may not, therefore, lay these expressions aside, seeing
they are the words of God and not of man. But we may and
ought to explain the meaning of them; that those who are sin-
cere of heart may not err to the right hand or left, from the
mark of the prize of their high calling. And this is the more
needful to be done, because, in the verse already repeated,
" Not as though I had already attained, either wer already
perfect." Philippians iii. 12.
1. THERE is scarce any expression in holy writ, which has
given more oflbnce than this. The word perfect is what many
cannot bear. The very sound of it is an abomination to them ;
and whosoever preaches perfection, (as the phrase is,) that
is, asserts that it is attainable in this life, runs great hazard
of being accounted by them worse than a heathen man or a
2. And hence some have advised, wholly to lay aside the
use of those expressions; because they have given so great
offence." But are they not found in the oracles of God ? If so,
by what authority can any Messenger of God lay them aside,
even though all men should be offended? We have not so
learned Christ; neither may we thus give place to the devil.
Whatsoever God hath spoken, that will we speak, whether men
will hear, or whether they will forbear; knowing that then
alone can any Minister of Christ be pure from the blood
of all men," when he hath not shunned to declare unto them
all the counsel of God."
3. We may not, therefore, lay these expressions aside, seeing
they are the words of God and not of man. But we may and
ought to explain the meaning of them; that those who are sin-
cere of heart may not err to the right hand or left, from the
mark of the prize of their high calling. And this is the more
needful to be done, because, in the verse already repeated,
the Apostle speaks of himself as not perfect: Not," saith he,
" as though I were already perfect." And yet immediately
after, in the fifteenth verse, he speaks of himself, yea, and many
others, as perfect: Let us," saith he, "as many as be perfect,
be thus minded."
4. In order, therefore, to remove the difficulty arising from
this seeming contradiction, as well as to give light to them who
a;re pressing forward to the mark, and that those who are lame
be not turned out of the way, I shall endeavour to show,
First, In what sense Christians are not; and,
Secondly, In what sense they are, perfect.
I. 1. In the First place, I shall endeavour to show, in what
sense Christians are not perfect. And both from experience
and Scripture it appears, First, that they are not perfect in
knowledge: They are not so perfect in this life as t., be free
fiom ignorance. They know, it may be, in common with other
men, many things relating to the present world; and they know,
with regard to the world to come, the general truths which God
hath revealed. They know, likewise, (what the natural man
receiveth not; for these things are spiritually discerned,) what
manner of love" it is, wherewith the Father" hath loved
them, that they should be called the sons of God:" They
know the mighty working of his Spirit in their hearts; and the
wisdom of his providence, directing all th ir paths, and causing
all things to work together for their good. Yea, they know
in every circumstance of life what the Lord requireth of them,
and how to keep a conscience void of offence both toward
God and toward man.
2. But innumerable are the things which they know not.
Touching the Almighty himself, they cannot search him out to
perfection. Lo, these are but a part of his ways; but the
thunder of his power, who can understand ?" They cannot
understand, I will not say, how there are Three that bear
record in heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and
these Three are One ;" or how the eternal Son of God "took
upon himself the form of a servant ;"-but not any one attribute,
not any one circumstance, of the divine nature. Neither is it-
for them to know the times and seasons when God will work
his great works upon the earth; no, not even those which he
hath in part revealed by his servants and Prophets since the
world began. Much less do they know when God, having
'" accomplished the number of his elect, will hasten his king-
dom ;" when the heavens shall pass away with a great noise,
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat."
3. They know not the reasons even of many of His present
dispensations with the sons of men ; but are constrained to rest
here,-Though clouds and darkness are round about him,
righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his seat."
Yea, often with regard to his dealings with themselves, doth
their Lord say unto them, What I do, thou knowest not now ;
but thou shalt know hereafter." And how little do they know
of what is ever before them, of even the visible works of his
hands!-how "he spreadeth the north over the empty place,
and hangeth the earth upon nothing?" how he unites all the-
parts of this vast machine by a secret chain, which cannot be'
broken ? So great is the ignorance, so very little the knowledge,
of even the best of men!
4. No one, then, is so perfect in this life, as to be free from
ignorance. Nor, Secondly, from mistake; which indeed is
almost an unavoidable consequence of it; seeing those who
" know but in part" are ever liable to err touching the things
which they know not. It is true, the children of God do not
mistake as to the things essential to salvation: They dd not
" put darkness for light, or light for darkness;" neither seek
death in the error of their life." For they are taught .of
God;" and the way which he teaches them, the way of holiness,
is so plain, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not
err therein." But in things unessential to salvation they do err,
and that frequently. The best and wisest of men.are frequently
mistaken even with regard to facts; believing those things not
to have been which really were, or those to have been done
which were not. Or, suppose they are not mistaken as to the
fact itself, they may be, with regard to its circumstances;
believing them, or many of them, to have been quite different
from what, in truth, they were. And hence cannot but arise
many farther mistakes. Hence they may believe either past. or
present actions which were or are evil, to be good; and such as
were or are good, to be evil. Hence also they may judge not
according to truth with regard to the characters of men; and
that, not only by supposing good men to be better, or wicked
men to be worse, than they are, but by believing them to have
been or to be good men, who were or are very wicked;, or
perhaps those to have been or to be wicked men, who were or
are holy and unreprovab.e.
5. Nay, with regard to the Holy Scriptures themselves, as
careful as they are to avoid it, the best of men are liable to
mistake, and do mistake day by day; especially with respect to
those parts thereof which less immediately relate to practice.
Ience, even the children of God are not agreed as to the inter-
lretation of many places in holy writ: Nor is their difference
of opinion any proof that they are not the children of God on
either side; but it is a proof that we are no more to expect any
living man to be infallible, than to be omniscient.
6. If it he objected to what has been observed under this and
the preceding head, that St. John, speaking to his brethren in
the faith, says, Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye
know all things:" (1 John ii. 20:) The answer is plain: Ye
know all things that are needful for your souls' health." That
the Apostle never designed to extend this farther, that he could
not speak it in an absolute sense, is clear, First, from hence;
-that otherwise lie would describe the disciple as above his
Master:" seeing Christ himself, as man, knew not all things:
" Of that hour," saith he, knoweth no man ; no, not the Son,
but the Father only." It is clear, Secondly, from the Apostle's
own words that follow : These things have I written unto
you concerning them that deceive you;" as well as from his
frequently repeated caution, Let no man deceive you;"
which had been altogether needless, had not those very persons
who had that unction from the Holy One been liable, not to
ignorance only, but to mistake also.
7. Even Christians, therefore, are not so perfect as to be
free either from ignorance or error: We may, Thirdly, add,
nor from infirmities.-Only let us take care to understand this
word ariglht: Only let us not give that soft title to known sins,
as the manner of some is. So, one man tells us, "Every man
has his infirmity, and mine is drunkenness:" Another has the
infirmity of uncleanness; another that of taking God's holy
name in vain; and yet another has the infirmity of calling his
brother, Thou fool," or returning railing for railing." It is
plain that all you who thus speak, if ye repent not, shall, with
your infirmities, go quick into hell But I mean hereby, not
only those which are properly termed bodily infirmities, but all
those inward or outward imperfections which are not of a moral
-nature.' Such are the weakness or slowness of understanding,
dulness or confusedness of apprehension, incoherency of thought,
irregular quickness or heaviness of imagination. Such (to men-
tion no more of this kind) is the want of a ready or retentive
memory. Such, in another kind, are those which are commonly,
in some measure, consequent upon these; namely, slowness
of speech, impropriety of language, ungracefulness of pro-
nunciation ; to which one might add a thousand nameless
defects, either in conversation or behaviour. These are the
infirmities which are found in the best of men, in a larger or
smaller proportion. And from these none can hope to be per-
fectly freed, till the spirit returns to God that gave it.
8. Nor can we expect, till then, to be wholly free from tempt-
ation. Such perfection belongeth not to this life. It is true,
there are those who, being given up to work all uncleanness
with greediness, scarce perceive the temptations which they
resist not; and so seem to be without temptation. There are
also many whom the wise enemy of souls, seeing to be fast
asleep in the dead form of godliness, will not tempt to gross
sin, lest they should awake before they drop into everlasting
burnings. I know there are also children of God who, being
now justified freely, having found redemption in the blood of
Christ, for the present feel no temptation. God hath said to
their enemies, Touch not mine anointed, and do my children
no harm." And for this season, it may be for weeks or months,
he causeth them to ride on high places, he beareth them as on
eagles' wings, above all the fiery darts of the wicked one. But
this state will not last always ; as we may learn from that single
consideration,-that the Son of God himself, in the days of his
flesh, was tempted even to the end of his life. Therefore, so
let his servant expect to be; for it is enough that he he as his
9. Christian perfection, therefore, does not imply (as some
men seem to have imagined) an exemption either from igno-
rance, or mistake, or infirmities, or temptations. Indeed, it is
only another term for holiness. They are two names for the
same thing. Thus, every one that is holy is, in the Scripture
sense, perfect. Yet we mavy, Lastly, observe, that neither in
this respect is there any absolute perfection on earth. There is
no perfection of degrees, as it is termed; none which does not
admit of a continual increase. So that how much soever any
man has attained, or in how high a degree soever he is perfect,
he hath still need to grow in grace," and daily to advance in
the knowledge and love of God his Saviour.
II. 1. In what sense, then, are Christians perfect? This is
what I shall endeavour, in the Second place, to show. But it
should be premised, that there are several stages in Christian
life, as in natural;-some of the children of God being but
new-born babes ; others having attained to more maturity. Arid
accordingly St. John, in his First Epistle, (ii. 12. &c.,) applies
himself severally to those he terms little children, those he styles
young men, and those whom he entitles fathers. I write unto
you, little children," saith the Apostle, because your sins are
forgiven you:" Because thus far you have attamed,-being
"justified freely," you have peace with God through Jesus
Christ" I write unto you, young men, because ye have
overcome the wicked one;" or, (as he afterwards addeth,)
' because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you."
Ye have quenched the fiery darts of the wicked one, the doubts
and fears wherewith he disturbed your first peace; and the
witness of God, that your sins are forgiven, now abideth in
your heart. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have
known Him that is from the beginning." Ye have known
both the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit of Christ, in your
inmost soul. Ye are "perfect men," being grown up to "the
measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
2. It is of these chiefly I speak in the latter part of this dis-
course: For these only are perfect Christians. But even babes
in Christ are in such a sense perfect, or born of God, (an expres-
sion taken also in divers senses,) as, First, not to commit sin.
If any doubt of this privilege of the sons of God, the question
is not to be decided by abstract reasoning, which may be drawn
out into an endless length, and leave the point just as it was
before. Neither is it to be determined by the experience of this
or that particular person. Many may suppose they do not
commit sin, when they do ; but this proves nothing either way.
To the law and to the testimony we appeal. Let God be
true, and every man a liar." By His word will we abide, and
that alone. Hereby we ought to be judged.
3. Now the word of God plainly declares, that even those who
are justified, who are born again in the lowest sense, do not
continue in sin ;" that they cannot live any longer therein;"
CHRISTIAN PERFECTION. I
(Rom. vi. 1, 2;) that they are "planted together in the like-
ness of the death "of Christ; (verse 5;) that their "old man is
crucified with him," the body of sin being destroyed, so that
henceforth they do not serve sin; that, being dead with
Christ, they are free from sin; (verses 6, 7;) that they are
'dead unto sin, and alive unto God ;" (verse 11;) that "sin
hath no more dominion over them," who are not under the
law, but under grace ;" but that these, being free from sin,
are become the servants of righteousness." (Verses 14, 18.)
4. The very least which can be implied in these words, is,
that the persons spoken of therein, namely, all real Christians,
or believers in Christ, are made free from outward sin. And
the game freedom, which St. Paul here expresses in such variety
of phrases, St. Peter expresses in that one: (1 Peter iv. 1, 2:)
" He that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sin,-
that he no longer should live to the desires of men, but to the
will of God." For this ceasing from sin, if it be interpreted
in the lowest sense, as regarding only the outward behaviour,
must denote the ceasing from the outward act, from any
outward transgression of the law.
5. But most express are the well-known words of St. John,
in the third chapter of his First Epistle, verse 8, &c.: Ie
that committed sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from
the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,
that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born
of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him :
And he cannot sin because he is born of God." And those
in the fifth: (Verse 18 :) We know that whosoever is born
of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth
himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not."
6. Indeed it is said, this means only, He sinneth not wilfll!y ;
or he doth not commit sin habitually ; or, not as other men do;
or, not as he did before. But by whom is this said? by St.
John ? No: There is no such word in the text; nor in the
whole chapter; nor in all his Epistle; nor in any part of his
writings whatsoever. Why then, the best way to answer a bold
assertion, is, simply to deny it. And if any man can prove it
from the word of God, let him bring forth his strong reasons.
7. And a sort of reason there is, which has been frequently
brought to support these strange assertions, drawn from the
examples recorded in the word of God: What !" say they,
"did not Abraham himself commit sin,-prevaricating, and
denying his wife? Did not Moses commit sin, when he pro-
voked God at the waters of strife? Nay, to produce one for
all, did not even David, 'the man after God's own heart,'
commit sin, in the matter of Uriah the Hittite; even murder
and adultery?" It is most sure he did. All this is true. But
what is it you would infer from hence? It may be granted,
First, that David, in the general course of his life, was one
of the holiest men among the Jews; and, Secondly, that the
holiest men among the Jews did sometimes commit sin. But
if you would hence infer, that all Christians do and must
commit sin as long as they live; this consequence we utterly
deny : It will never follow from those premises.
8. Those who argue thus, seem never to have considered
that declaration of our Lord: (Matt. xi. 11 :) Verily I say
unto you, Among them'that are born of women there hath not
risen a greater than John the Baptist: Notwithstanding he
that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." I
fear, indeed, there are some who have imagined the kingdom
of heaven," here, to mean the kingdom of glory ; as if the
Son of God had just discovered to us, that the least glorified
saint in heaven is greater than any man upon earth To men-
tion this is sufficiently to refute it. There can, therefore, no
doubt be made, but "the kingdom of heaven," here, (as in the
following verse, where it is said to be taken by force.) or, the
kingdom of God," as St. Luke expresses it,-is that kingdom
of God on earth whercunto all true believers in Christ, all real
Christians, belong. In these words, then, our Lord declares
two things: First, that before his coming in the flesh, among-
all the children of men there had not been one greater than
John the Baptist; whence it evidently follows, that neither
Abraham, David, nor any Jew, was greater than John. Our
Lord, Secondly, declares, that he which is least in the kingdom
of God (in that kingdom n which he came to set up on earth,
and which the violent now began to take by force) is greater
than he:-Not a greater Prophet, as some have interpreted the
word; for this is palpably false in fact; but greater in the
grace of God, and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore we cannot measure the privileges of real Christians
by those formerly given to the Jews. Their ministration,"
(or dispensation,) we allow, was glorious ;" but ours exceeds
in glory." So that whosoever would bring down the Christian
dispensation to tile Jewish standard, whosoever gleans up the
examples of weakness, recorded in the Law and the Prophets.
and thence infers that they who have "put on Christ are
endued with no greater strength, doth greatly err, neither
" knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God."
9. But are there not assertions in Scripture which prove
the same thing, if it cannot be inferred from those examples?
Does not the Scripture say expressly,' Even a just man sinneth
seven times a day ?"' I answer, No: The Scripture says no
such thing. There is no such text in all the Bible. That which
seems to be intended is the sixteenth verse of the twenty-fourth
chapter of the Proverbs; the words of which are these: A
just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again But this
is quite another thing. For, First, the words a day," are not
in the text. So that if a just man fall seven times in his life,
it is as much as is affirmed here. Secondly, here is no mention
of falling into sin at all; what is here mentioned is, falling
into temporal affliction. This plainly appears from the verse
before, the words of which are these:." Lay not wait, O wicked
man, against the dwelling of the righteous ; spoil not his resting-
place." It follows, For a just man falleth seven times,
and riseth up again; but the wicked shall fall into mischief."
As if he had said, God will deliver him out of his trouble;
but when thou fallest, there shall be none to deliver thee."
10. But, however, in other places," continue the objectors,
Solomon does assert plainly, 'There is no man that hinneth
not;' (I Kings viii. 46; 2 Chron. vi. .6;) yea, There is not
a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.'
(Eccles. vii. 20.)" I answer, Without doubt, thus it was in the
days of Solomon. Yea, thus it was from Adam to Mioses,
from Moses to Solomon, and from Solomon to Christ. There
was then no man that sinned not. Even from the day that
sin entered into the world, there was not a just man upon
earth that did good and sinned not, until the Son of God was
manifested to take away our sins. It is unquestionably true,
that the heir, as long as he is a child, different nothing from
a servant." And that even so they (all the holy men of old,
who were under the Jewish dispensation) were, during that
infant state of the Church, ."in hIondage under the elements
of the world." But when the fulness of the time was come,
God sent forth his Son, made under the law, to redcem them
that were under the law, that they might receive the adoption
of sons;"-that they might receive that grace which is now
made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality t?
light through the Gospel." (2 Tim. i. 10.) Now, therefore,
they "are no more servants, but sons." So that, whatsoever
was the case of those under the law, we may safely affirm with
St. John, that, since the gospel was given, he that is born
of God sinneth not."
11. It is of great importance to observe, and that more care-
fully than is commonly done, the wide difference there is between
the Jewish and the Christian dispensation; and that ground
of it which the same Apostle assigns in the seventh chapter of
his Gospel. (Verses 38, &c.) After he had there related those
words of our blessed Lord, He that believeth on me, as the
Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living
water," he immediately subjoins, This spake lie of the Spirit,
ov s.p.EAov ha(veyv it T01 P uorTE tI aCurov,--which they wlho
should believe on him were afterwards to receive. For the
Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet
glorified." Now, the Apostle cannot mean here, (as some have
taught,) that the miracle-working power of the Holy Ghost was
not yet given. For this was given ; our Lord had given it to
all tie Apostles, when he first sent them forth to preach the
gospel. He then gave them power over unclean spirits to cast
them out; power to heal the sick ; yea, to raise the dead. But
the Holy Ghost was not yet given in his sanctifying graces,
as he was after Jesus was glorified. It was then when he
ascended up on high, and led captivity captive," that he
"received" those gifts for men, yea, even for the rebellious,
that the Lord God might dwell among them." And when the
day of Pentecost was fully come, then first it was, that they who
waited for the promise of the Father were made more than
conquerors over sin by the Holy Ghost given unto them.
12. That this great salvation from sin was not given till Jesus
was glorified, St. Peter also plainly testifies; where, speaking
of his brethren in the flesh, as now receiving the end of their
faith, the salvation of their souls," he adds, (1 Peter i. 9, 10,
&c.,) Of which salvation the Prophets have inquired and
searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace," that is, the
gracious dispensation, that should come unto you: Searching
what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in
them did signify,.wh'n it testified beforehand the sufferings
of Christ, and the glory," the glorious salvation, "that should
follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves,
hut unto us they did minister the things which are now reported
unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you
with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven ;" viz., at the
day of Pentecost, and so unto all generations, into the hearts
of all true believers. On this ground, even the grace which
was brought unto them by the revelation of Jesus Christ," the
Apostle might well build that strong exhortation, Wherefore
girding up the loins of your mind,-as he which hath called you
is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation."
13. Those who have duly considered these things must allow,
that the privileges of Christians are in no wise to be measured
by what the Old Testament records concerning those who were
under the Jewish dispensation; seeing the fulness of time is
now come; the Holy Ghost is now given ; the great salvation
of God is brought unto men, by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The kingdom of heaven is now set up on earth; concerning
which the Spirit of God declared of old, (so far is David from
being the pattern or standard of Christian perfection,) "He that
is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the
house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before
them." (Zech. xii. 8.)
14. If, therefore, you would prove that the Apostle's words,
" He that is born of God sinneth not," are not to be understood
according to their plain, natural, obvious meaning, it is from
the New Testament you are to bring your proofs, else you will
fight as one that beateth the air. And the first of these which
is usually brought is taken from the examples recorded in the
New Testament. The Apostles themselves," it is said, com-
mitted sin ; nay, the greatest of them, Peter and Paul: St.
Paul, by his sharp contention with Barnabas; and St. Peter,
by his dissimulation at Antioch." Well: Suppose both Peter
and Paul did then commit sin; what is it you would infer from
hence? that all the other Apostles committed sin sometimes?
There is no shadow of proo' in this. Or would you thence
infer, that all the other Christians of the apostolic age com-
mitted ein ? Worse and worse: This is such an inference as;
Sone would imagine, a man in his senses could never have thought
of. Or will you argue thus: If two of the Apostles did once
commit sin, then all other Christians, in all ages, do and will
commit sin as long as they live?" Alas, my brother! a child
of common understanding would be ashamed of such reasoning
as this. Least of all can you with any colour of argument infer,
that any man must commit sin at all. No: God forbid we
should thus speak No necessity of sinning was laid upon
them. The grace of God was surely sufficient for them. And
it is sufficient for us at this day. With the temptation which
fell on them, there was a way to escape; as there is to every
soul of man in every temptation. So that whosoever is tempted
to any sin, need not yield; for no man is tempted above that he
is able to hear.
15. "But St. Paul besought the Lord thrice, and yet he
could not escape from his temptation." Let us consider his
own words literally translated: There was given to me a thorn
to the flesh, an angel" (or messenger) "of Satan, to buffet me.
Touching this, I besought the Lord thrice, that it" (or he)
might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is
sufficient for thee: For my strength is made perfect in weak-
ness. Most gladly therefore will 1 rather glory in" these my
weaknesses, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses ;-for when I am
weak, then am I strong."
16. As this scripture is one of the strong-holds of the patrons
of sin, it may be proper to weigh it throughly. Let it be
observed, then, First, it does hy no means appear that this
thorn, whatsoever it was, occasioned St. Paul to commit sin;
much less laid him under any necessity of doing so. There-
fore, from hence it can never be proved that any Christian
must commit sin. Secondly, the ancient Fathers inform us,
it was bodily pain :-a violent headache, saith Tertullian; (De
Pudic.;) to which both Chrysostom and St. Jerome agree. St.
Cyprian* expresses it, a little more generally, in those terms:
Many and grievous torments of the flesh and of the body." t
Thirdly, to this exactly agree the Apostle's own words:-" A
thorn to the flesh, to smite, beat, or buffet me." ." My strength
is made perfect in weakness: "-Which same word occurs no less
D+ ('Carina et corporis 2Sulta ac grvia toarnenia.
* De Mortrlitat-.
than four times in these two verses only. But, Fourthly, what-
soever it was, it could not be either inward or outward sin. It
could no more be inward stirring, than outward expressions,
of pride, anger, or lust. This is manifest, beyond all possible
exception, from the words that immediately follow : Most
gladly will I glory in" these my weaknesses, that the strength
of Christ may rest upon me." What did he glory in pride, in
anger, in lust? Was it through these weaknesses, that the
strength of Christ rested upon him ? He goes on: Therefore
I take pleasure in weaknesses; for when I am weak, then am I
strong;" that is, when I am weak in body, then am I strong in
spirit. But will any man dare to say, "When I an weak by
pride or lust, then am I strong in spirit?" I call you all to
record this day, who find the strength of Christ resting upon
you, can you glory in anger, or pride, or lust? Can you take
pleasure in these infirmities? Do these weaknesses make you
strong? Would you not leap into hell, were it possible, to
escape them ? Even by yourselves, then, judge, whether the
Apostle could glory and take pleasure in them ? Let it be,
Lastly, observed, that this thorn was given to St. Paul above
fourteen years before he wrote this Epistle; which itself was
wrote several years before he finished his course. So that he
had, after this, a long course to run, many battles to fight,
many victories to gain, and great increase to receive in all the
gifts of God, and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Therefore,
from any spiritual weakness (if such had been) which he at that
time felt, we could by no means infer tnat he was never made
strong; that Paul the aged, the father in Christ, still laboured
under the same weaknesses; that he was in no higher state till
the day of his death. From all which it appears, that this
instance of St. Paul is quite foreign to the question, and does in
nowise clash with the assertion of St. John, He that is born
of God sinneth not."
17. But does not St. James directly contradict this? His
words are,,' In many things we offend all:' (iii. 2:) And is not
offending the same as committing sin ?" In this place, I allow
it is: I allow the persons here spoken of did commit sin ; yea,
that they all committed many sins. But who are the persons
here spoken of? Why, those many masters or teachers, whoml
God had not sent; (probably the same vain men who taught
that atuth without works, which is so sharply reproved in the
preceding chapter;) not the Apostle himself, nor any real Chris-
tian. That in the word we (used by a figure of speech common
in all other, as well as the inspired, writings) the Apostle could
not possibly include himself or any other true believer, appears
evidently, First, from the same word in the ninth verse:-
" Therewith," saith he, bless we God, and therewith curse we
men. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing."
'J'rue; but not out of the mouth of the Apostle, por of any one
who is in Christ a new creature. Secondly, from the verse imme-
diately preceding the text, and manifestly connected with it:
'" My brethren, be not many masters," (or teachers,) know-
.ig that we shall receive the greater condemnation." For
in many things we offend all." We! Who? Not the Apostles,
nor true believers; but they who knew they should receive the
greater condemnation, because of those many offences. But
this could not be spoke of the Apostle himself, or of any who
trod in his steps; seeing there is no condemnation to them
who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Nay, Thirdly,
the very verse itself proves, that we offend all," cannot be
spoken either of all men, or of all Christians : For in it there
immediately follows the mention of a man who offends not, as
the we first mentioned did; from whom, therefore, he is profess-
edly contradistinguished, and pronounced a perfect man.
18. So clearly does St. James explain himself, and fix the
meaning of his own words. Yet, lest any one should still remain
in doubt, St. John, writing many years after St. James, puts the
matter entirely out of dispute, by .the express declarations above
recited. But here a fresh difficulty may arise : How shall we
reconcile St. John with himself? In one place he declares,
" Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin ;" and again,
-" We know that he which is born of God sinneth not:" And
yet in another he saith, If we say that we have no sin, we
receive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;" and again,-
" If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and
his word is not in us."
19. As great a difficulty as this may at first appear, it vanishes
away, if we observe, First, that the tenth verse fixes the sense
of the eighth: If we say we have no sin," in the former,
being explained by, "If we say we have not sinned," in the latter
verse. Secondly, that the point under present consideration is
not whether we have or have not sinned heretofore; and
CHRISTIAN PERFECTION. 10
neither of these verses asserts that we do sin.or commit sin now.
Thirdly, that the ninth verse explains both the eighth and tenth .
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness:" As if he
had said, I have before affirmed, The blood of Jesus Christ
cleanseth us from all sin; but let no man say, I need it not; I
have no sin to be cleansed from. If we say that we have no
sin, that we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves and make
God a liar: But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just,'
not only to forgive our sins,' but also 'to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness:' that we may 'go and sin no more.'"
20. St. John, therefore is well consistent with himself, as well
as with the other holy writers ; as will yet more evidently appear,
if we place all his assertions touching this matter in one view:
He declares, First, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from
all sin. Secondly, no man can say, I have not sinned, I have
no sin to be cleansed from. Thirdly, but God is ready both to
forgive our past sins, and to save us from them for the time to
come. Fourthly, These things write I unto you," saith the
Apostle, "that you may not sin. But if any man" should
sin," or Lace sinned, (as the word might be rendered,) he need
n:t continue in sin ; seeing "we have an Advocate with the
Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Thus far all is clear.
But lest any doubt should remain in a point of so vast import-
ance, the Apostle resumes this subject in the third chapter, and
largely explains his own meaning: Little children," saith he,
"let no man deceive you:" (As though I had given any encou-
ragement to those that continue in sin :) He that doeth right-
eousness is righteous, even as lie is righteous. He that com-
mitteth sin ii of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the begin.
ning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that
lie might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of
God doth not commit sin : For his seed remaineth in him ; and
he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children
of God are manifest, and the children of the devil." (Verses 7-
10.) Here the point, which till then might possibly have admit-
ted of some doubt in weak minds, is purposely settled by the last
of the inspired writers, and decided in the clearest manner. In
conformity, therefore, both to the doctrine of St. John, and to
the whole tenor of the New Testament, we fix this conclusion,-
A Christian is so far perfect, as not to commit sin.
21. This is the glorious privilege of every Christian; yea,
though he be but a babe in Christ. But it is only of those who
are strong in the Lord, and have overcome the wicked one,"
or rather of those who have known him that i< from the begin-
ning," that it can be affirmed they are in such a sense perfect,
as, Secondly, to be freed from evil thoughts and evil tempers.
First, from evil or sinful thoughts. But here let it be observed,
that thoughts concerning evil are not always evil thoughts; that
a thought concerning sin, and a sinful thought, are widely differ-
ent. A man, for instance, may think of a murder which another
has committed; and yet this is no evil or sinful thought. So our
blessed Lord himself doubtless thought of, or understood, the
thing spoken by the devil, when he said, All these things will
I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Yet had
he no evil or sinful thought; nor indeed was capable of having
any. And even hence it follows, that neither have real Chris-
tians: For every one that is perfect is as his Master." (Luke
vi. 40.) Therefore, if He was free from evil or sinful thoughts,
so are they likewise.
22. And, indeed, whence should evil thoughts proceed, in
the servant who is as his Master? Out of the heart of man"
(if at all) "proceed evil thoughts." (Mark vii. 21.) If, there-
fore, his heart be no longer evil, then evil thoughts can no longer
proceed out of it. If the tree were corrupt, so would be the
fruit: But the tree is good; the fruit, therefore, is good also;
(Matt. xii. 33;) our Lord himself bearing witness, Every
good tree bringeth forth good fruit. A good tree cannot bring
forth evil fruit," as a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good
fruit." (Matt. vii. 17, 18.)
23. The same happy privilege of real Christians, St. Paul
asserts from his own experience. The weapons of our war-
fare," saith he, are not carnal, but mighty through God to
the pulling down of strong-holds; casting down imaginations,"
(or reasoning rather, for so the word Xoywl~e signifies; all
the reasoning of pride and unbelief against the declaration-,
promises, or gifts of God,) and every high thing that exalteth
itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. x. 4, &c.)
24. And as Christians indeed are freed from evil thoughts, so
are they, Secondly, from evil tempers. This is evident from
the above-mentioned declaration of our I ord himself;: The
disciple is not above his Master; but every one that is perfect
shall be as his Master." He had been delivering, just before,
some of the sublimest doctrines of Christianity, and some of the
most grievous to flesh and blood. I say unto you, Love your.
enemies, do good to them which hate you;-and unto him that
smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other." Now these
he well knew the world would not receive; and therefore imme-
diately adds, "Can the blind lead the blind ? Will they not
both fall into the ditch ?" As if he had said, "Do not confer
kith flesh and blood touching these things,-with men void of
spiritual discernment, the eyes of whose understanding God hath
not opened,-lest they and you perish together." In the next
verse he removes the two grand objections with which these
wise fools meet us at every turn : These things are too grievous
to be borne;" or, They are too high to be attained ; "'-saying,
"' The disciple is not above his Master;' therefore, if I have
suffered, be content to tread in my steps. And doubt ye not
then, but I will fulfil my word: For every one that is perfect,
shall be as his Master.' But his Master was free from all sinful
tempers. So, therefore, is his disciple, even every real Christian.
25. Every one of these can say, with St. Paul, I am crucified
with Christ: Nevertheless I live; vet not I, but Christ liveth
in me:"-Words that manifestly describe a deliverance from
inward as well as from outward sin. This is expressed both,
negatively, I live not; (my evil nature, the body of sin, is
destroyed;) and positively, Christ liveth in me; and, therefore,
all that is holy, and just, and good. Indeed, both these, Christ
liveth in me, and Ilive not, are inseparably connected; for what
communion hath light with darkness, or Christ with Belial ?"
26. He, therefore, who liveth in true believers, hath "puri-
fied their hearts by faith ;" insomuch that every one that hath
Christ in him the hope of glory, "purifieth himself, even as He
is pure." (1 John iii. 3.) He is purified from pride; for Christ
was lowly of heart. He is pure from self-will or desire; for
Christ desired only to do the will of his Father, and to finish
his work. And lie is pure from anger, in the common sense of
the word; for Christ was meek and gentle, patient and long,
suffering. I say, in the common sense of the word ; for all anger
is not evil. We read of our Lord himself, (Mark iii. 5,) that
he once "looked round with anger." But with what kind of
anger? The next word shows, uhusxvrrop.svo, being, at the
same time, "grieved for the hardness of their hearts." So then
he was angry at the sin, and in the same moment grieved for
the sinners; angry or displeased at the offence, but sorry for
the offenders. With anger, yea, hatred, he looked upon the
thing; with grief and love upon the persons. Go, thou that
art perfect, and do likewise. Be thus angry, and thou sinnest
not; feeling a displacency at every offence against God, but
only love and tender compassion to the offender.
27. Thus doth Jesus "save his people from their sins:"
And not only from outward sins, but also from the sins of their
hearts; from evil thoughts, and from evil tempers.-" True,"
say some, we shall thus be saved from our sins ; but not till
leath ; not in this world." But how are we to reconcile this
with the express words of St. John ?-" Herein is our love made
perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment.
Because as he is, so are we in this world." The Apostle here,
beyond all contradiction, speaks of himself and other living
Christians, of whom (as though he had foreseen this very
evasion, and set himself to overturn it from the foundation) ie
flatly affirms, that not only at or after death, but in this world,
they are as their Master. (1 John iv. 17.)
28. Exactly agreeable to this are his words in the first chapter
of this Epistle, (verse 5, &c.,) God is light, and in him is no
darkness at all. If we walk in the lighlt,-we have fellowship
one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth
us from all sin." And again: If we confess our sins, he is
thithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness." Now, it is evident, the Apostle here also
speaks of a deliverance wrought in this world. For he saith
not, the blood of Christ will cleanse at the hour of death, or in
the day of judgment, but, it cleanseth," at the time present,
"us," living Christians, "from all sin." And it is equally
evident, that if any sin remain, we are not cleansed from all
sin : If any unrighteousness remain in the soul, it is not
cleansed from all unrighteousness. Neither let any sinner
against his own soul say, that thi-i relates to justification only,
or the cleansing us from the guilt of sin ; First, because this is
confounding together what the Apostle clearly distinguishes,
who mentions first, to forgive 7us our sins, and then to cleanse
its from all unrighteouisness. Secondly, because this is assert-
ing justification by works, in the strongest sense possible ; it is
making all inward as well as outward holiness necessarily
previous to justification. For if the cleansing here spoken of is
no other than the cle-ansing us from the guilt of sin, then we
are not cleansed from guilt, that is, are not justified, unless on
condition of walking in the light, as he is in the light." It
remains, then, that Christians are saved in this world from all
sin, from all unrighteousness ; that they are now in such a sense
perfect, as not to commit sin, and to be freed from evil thoughts
and evil tempers.
29. Thus hath the Lord fulfilled the things he spake by his
holy Prophets, which have been since the world began;-by
Moses in particular, saying, (Deut. xxx. 6,) I will circum-
cise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul;"-by David,
crying out, Create in me a clean heart, and renew a' right
spirit within me;"-and most remarkably by Ezekiel, in those
words: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye
shall be clean : From all your filthiness, and from all your idols,
will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a
new spirit will I put within you ;-and cause you to walk in
my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.-
Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also
save you from all your uncleannesses.-Thus saith the Lord
God, In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your
iniquities,-the Heathen shall know that I the Lord build the
ruined places ;-I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it."
(Ezek. xxxvi. 25, &c.)
30. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved," both
in the Law and in the Prophets, and having the prophetic word
confirmed unto us in the Gospel, by our blessed Lord and his
Apostles ; "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh
and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Let us
fear, lest" so many "promises being made us of entering into
his rest," which he that hath entered into, has ceased from his
own works, "any of us should come short of it." This one
thing let us do, forgetting those things which are behind, and
reaching forth unto those things which are before, let us press
toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in
Christ Jesus;" crying unto him day and night, till we also are
"delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious
liberty of the sons of God !"
THE PROMISE OF SANCTIFICATION.
(Ezek. xxxvi. 25, &c.)
BY THE REV. CHARLES WESLEY.
1 Gon of all power, and truth, and grace,
Which shall from age to age endure;
Whose word, when heaven and earth shall pass,
Remains, and stands for ever sure:
2 Calmly to thee my soul looks up,
And waits thy promises to prove;
The object of my steadfast hope,
The seal of thine eternal love.
3 That I thy mercy may proclaim,
That all mankind thy truth may see,
Hallow thy great and glorious name,
And perfect holiness in me.
4 Chose from the world, if now I stand
Adorn'd in righteousness divine;
If, brought unto the promised land,
I justly call the Saviour mine ;
5 Perform the work thou hast begun,
My inmost soul to thee convert:
Love me, for ever love thine own,
And sprinkle with thy blood my heart.
9 Thy sanctifying Spirit ponr,
To quench my thirst and wash me clean
Now, Father, let the gracious shower
Descend and make me pure from sin.
7 Purge me from'every sinful blot;
l My idols all be cast aside:
Cleanse me from every evil thought,
From all the filth of self and pride.
8 Give me a new, a perfect heart,
From doubt, and fear, and sorrow free
The mind which was in Christ impart,
And let my spirit cleave to thee.
9 0 take this heart of stone away !
(Thy rule it doth not, cannot own;)
In me no longer let it stay:
O take away this heart of stone !
THE PROMISE OF SANCTIFICATION.
10 The hatred of my carnal mind
Out of my flesh at once remove;
Give me a tender heart, resigned,
And pure, and filled with faith and love.
I Within me thy good Spirit place,
Spirit of health, and love, and power;
Plant in me thy victorious grace,
And sin shall never enter more.
12 Cause me to walk in Christ my Way,
And I thy statutes shall fulfil;
In every point thy law obey,
And perfectly perform thy will.
13 Last thou not said, who canst not lie,
That I thy law shall keep and do?
Lord, I believe, though men deny;
They all are false, but thou art true.
14 O that I now, from sin released,
Thy word might to the utmost prove!
Enter into the promised rest,
The Canaan of thy perfect love !
15 There let me ever, ever dwell;
Be thou my God, and I will be
Thy servant: O set to thy seal!
Give me eternal life in thee.
16 From all remaining filth within
Let me in thee salvation have:
From actual and from inbred sin
My ransom'd soul persist to save.
17 Wash out my old original stain:
Tell me no more it cannot be,
Demons or men The Lamb was slain,
lis blood was all pour'd out for me!
18 Sprinkle it, Jesu, on my heart:
One drop of thy all-cleansing blood
Shall make my sinfulness depart,
And fill me with the life of God.
19 Father, supply my every need:
Sustain the life thyself hast given;
Call for the corn, the living bread,
The manna that comes down from heaves.
20 The gracious fruits of righteousness,
Thy blessings' unexhausted store,
In me abundantly increase;
Nor let me ever hunger more.
22 rlE PROMISE OF SANCTIFICATION.
21 Let me no more, in deep complaint,
My leanness, 0 my leanness cry;
Alone consumed with pining want,
Of all my Father's children I !
22 The painful thirst, the fond desire,
Thy joyous presence shall remove;
While my full soul doth still require
The whole eternity of love.
23 Holy rnd true, and righteous Lord,
I wait to prove thy perfect will;
Be mindful of thy gracious word,
And stamp me with thy Spirit's seal !
24 Thy faithful mercies let me find,
In which thou causes me trust;
Give me thy meek and lowly mind,
And lay my spirit in the dust.
25 Show me how foul my heart hath been,
When all renew'd by grace I am:
When thou hast emptied me of sin,
Show me the fulness of my shame,
26 Open my faith's interior eye,
SDisplay thy glory from above;
And all I am shall sink and die,
Lost in astonishment and love.
27 Confound, o'erpower me with thy grace~
I would be by myself abhorr'd;
(All might, all majesty, all praise,
All glory be to Christ my Lord !)
28 Now let me gain perfection's height I
Now let me into nothing fall !
Be less than nothing in my sight,
And feel that Christ is all in all I
Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of
Christ." 2 Corinthians x. 5.
1. BuT will God so "bring every thought into captivity to
the obedience of Christ," that no wandering thought will find
a place in the mind, even while we remain in the body ? So
some have vehemently maintained; yea, have affirmed that
none are perfected in love unless they are so far perfected in
understanding, that all wandering thoughts are done away;
unless not only every affection and temper be holy and just
and good, but every individual thought which arises in the
mind be wise and regular.
2. This is a question of no small importance. For how
many of those who fear God, yea, and love him, perhaps -witih
all their heart, have been greatly distressed on this account!
How many. by not understanding it right, have not only been
distressed, but greatly hurt in their souls ;-cast into unprofit-
able, yea, mischievous reasoning, such as slackened their motion
towards God, and weakened them in running the race set before
them Nay, many, through misapprehensions of this very thing,
have cast away the precious gift of God. They have been
induced, first, to doubt of, and then to deny, the work God
had wrought in their souls; and hereby have grieved the Spirit
of God, till he withdrew and left them in utter darkness !
3. How is it then, that amidst the abundance of books which
have been lately published almost on all subjects, we should
have none upon wandering thoughts? at least none that will
at all satisfy a calm and serious mind ? In order to do this in
some degree, I purpose to inquire,
I. What are the several sorts of wandering thoughts ?
II. What are the general occasions of them ?
III. Which of them are sinful, and which not ?
IV. Which of them we may expect and pray to be delivered
I. 1. I purpose to inquire, First, What are the several sorts
of wandering thoughts ? The particular sorts are innumerable;
but, in general, they are of two sorts: Thoughts that wander
from God; and thoughts that wander from the particular point
we have in hand.
2. With regard to the former, all our thoughts are naturally
of this kind : For they are continually wandering from God:
We think nothing about him : God is not in all our thoughts:
We are, one ano all, as the Apostle observes, without God in
the world." We think of wnat we love; but we do not love
God ; therefore, we think not of him. Or, if we are now and
then constrained to think of him for a time, yet as we have no
pleasure therein, nay, rather, as these thoughts are not only
insipid, but distasteful and irksome to us, we drive them out as
soon as we can, and return to what we love to think of. So that
the world, and the things of the world,-what we shall eat, what
we shall drink, what we shall put on,-what we shall see, what
we shall hear, what we shall gain,-how we shall please our
senses or our imagination,-takes up all our time, and engrosses
all our thought. So long, therefore, as we love the world; that
is, so long as we are in our natural state; all our thoughts, from
morning to evening, and from evening to morning, are no other
than wandering thoughts.
3. But many times we are not only without God in the
world," but also fighting against him; as there is in every man
by nature a carnal mind which is enmity against God:" No
wonder, therefore, that men abound with unbelieving thoughts;
either saying in their hearts, There is no God," or questioning,
if not denying, his power or wisdom, his mercy, or justice, or
holiness. No wonder that they so often doubt of his provi-
dence, at least, of its extending to all events; or that, even
though they allow it, they still entertain murmuring or repining
thoughts. Nearly related to these, and frequently connected
with them, are proud and vain imaginations. Again: Some-
times they are taken up with angry, malicious, or revengeful
thoughts; at other times, with airy scenes of pleasure, whether
of sense or imagination; whereby the earthy, sensual mind
becomes more earthy and sensual still. Now by all these they
make flat war with God: These are wandering thoughts of the
S4. Widely different from these are the other sort of wander-
ing thoughts; in which the heart does not wander from God,
but the understanding wanders from the particular point it had
then in view. For instance: I sit down to consider those words
in the verse preceding the text: The weapons of our warfare
are not carnal, but mighty through God." I think, This
ought to be the case with all that are called Christians. But
how far is it otherwise! Look round into almost every part
of what is termed the Christian world. What manner of
weapons are these using? In what kind of warfare are they
While men, like fiends, each other tear,
In all the hellish rage of war ?
See how these Christians love one another! Wherein are they
preferable to Turks and Pagans? What abomination can be
found among Mahometans or Heathens which is not found
among Christians also ?" And thus my mind runs off, before
I am aware, from one circumstance to another. Now, all these
are, in some sense, wandering thoughts: For although they do
not wander from God, much less fight against him, yet they do
wander from the particular point I had in view.
II. Such is the nature, such are the sorts (to speak rather
usefully than philosophically) of wandering thoughts. But
what are the general occasions of them ? This we are, in the
Second place, to consider.
1. And it is easy to observe, that the occasion of the former
sort of thoughts, which oppose or wander from God, are, in
general, sinful tempers. For instance: Why is not God in all
the thoughts, in any of the thoughts of a natural man ? For a
plain reason: Be he rich or poor, learned or unlearned, he is an
Atheist; (though not vulgarly so called ;) he neither knows nor
loves God. Why are his thoughts continually wandering after
the world? Because he is an idolater. He does not indeed
worship an image, or bow down to the stock of a tree; yet is he
sunk into equally damnable idolatry: He loves, that is, worships,
the world. He seeks happiness in the things that are seen, in
the pleasures that perish in the using. Why is it that his
thoughts are perpetually wandering from the very end of his
being, the knowledge of God in Christ? Because he is an
unbeliever; because he has no faith; or, at least, no more than
a devil. So all these wandering thoughts easily and naturally
spring from that evil root of unbelief.
2. The case is the same in other instances: Pride, anger,
revenge, vanity, lust, covetousness, every one of them occasions
thoughts suitable to its own nature. And so does every sinful
temper of which the human mind is capable. The particulars
it is hardly possible, nor is it needful, to enumerate : It suffices
to observe, that as many evil tempers as find a place in any soul,
so many ways that soul will depart from God, by the worst kind
of wandering thoughts.
3. The occasions of the latter kind of wandering thoughts are
exceeding various. Multitudes of them are occasioned by the
natural union between the soul and body. How immediately
and how deeply is the understanding affected by a diseased
body Let but the blood move irregularly in the brain, and all
regular thinking is at an end. Raging madness ensues ; and then
farewell to all evenness of thought. Yea, let only the spirits
be hurried or agitated to a certain degree, and a temporary.
madness, a delirium, prevents all settled thought. And is not
the same irregularity of thought, in a measure, occasioned by,
every nervous disorder ? So does "the corruptible body press
down the soul, and cause it to muse about many things."
4. But does it only cause this in the time of sickness or pre-
ternatural' disorder ? Nay, but more or less, at all times, even
in a state of perfect health. Let a man be ever so healthy,
he will be more or less delirious every four.and. twenty hours.
For does he not sleep ? And while he sleeps, is he not liable
to dream ? And who then is master of his own thoughts, or
able to preserve the order and consistency of them ? W ho can
then keep them fixed to any one point, or prevent their wander-
ing from pole to pole ?
5. But suppose we are awake, are we always so awake that
we can steadily govern our thoughts ? Are we not unavoidably
exposed to contrary extremes, by the very nature of this machine,
tile body ? Sometimes we are too heavy, too dull and languid,
to pursue any chain of thought. Sometimes, on the other
hand, we are too lively. The imagination, without leave, starts
to and fro, and carries us away hither and thither, whether we
will or no; and all this from the merely natural motion of the
spirits, or vibration of the nerves.
6. Farther: How many wanderings of thought may arise
from those various associations of our ideas which are made
entirely without our knowledge, and independently on our
WANDEIRI 'G THOUGHTS.
cnoice? How these connexions are formed, we cannot tell ; but
they are formed in a thousand different manners. Nor is it in
the power of the wisest or holiest of men to break those associa-
tions, or prevent what is the necessary consequence of them, and
matter of daily observation. Let the fire hut touch one end
of the train, and it immediately runs on to the other.
7. Once more: Let us fix our attention as studiously as we
are able on any subject, yet let either pleasure or pain arise,
especially if it be intense, and it will demand our immediate
attention, and attach our thought to itself. It will interrupt
the steadiest contemplation, and divert the mind from its favour-
8. These occasions of wandering thoughts lie within, are
wrought into our very nature. But they will likewise naturally
and necessarily arise from the various impulse of outward objects.
Whatever strikes upon the organ of sense, the eye or ear, will
raise a perception in the mind. And, accordingly, whatever we
see or hear will break in upon our former train of thought.
Every man, therefore, that does anything in our sight, or speaks
anything in our hearing, occasions'our mind to wander, more or
less, from the point it was thinking of before.
9. And there is no question but those evil spirits who are
continually seeking whom they may devour make use of all the
foregoing occasions to hurry and distract our minds. Sometimes
)v one, sometimes by another, of these means, they will harass
and perplex us, and, so far as God permits, interrupt our
thoughts, particularly when they are engaged on the best sub-
jects. Nor is this, at all strange: They well understand the
very springs of thought; and know on which of the bodily organs
the imagination, the understanding, and every other faculty of
the mind more immediately depends. And hereby they know
how, by affecting those organs, to affect the operations dependent
on them. Add to this, that they can inject a thousand thoughts,
without any of the preceding means; it being as natural for spirit
to act upon spirit, as for matter to act upon matter. T''hese
things being considered, we cannot admire that our thought so
often wanders from any point which we have in view.
III. 1. What kind of wandering thoughts are sinful, and what
not, is the Third thing to he inquired into. And, First, all
those thoughts which wander from God, which leave him no
room in our r;'ds, are undoubtedly sin' ul. For all these imply
practical Atheism; and by these we are without God in the
world. And so much more are all those which are contrary to
God, which imply opposition or enmity to him. Such are all
murmuring, discontented thoughts, which say, in effect, We
vill not have thee to rule over us;"-all unbelieving thoughts,
whether with regard to his being, his attributes, or his provi-
dence. I mean, his particular providence over all things, as well
as all persons, in the universe; that without which "not a
sparrow falls to the ground," by which the hairs of our head
are all numbered;" for as to a general providence, (vulgarly
so called,) contradistinguished from a particular, it is only a
decent, well-sounding word, which means just nothing.
2. Again: All thoughts which spring from sinful tempers,
are undoubtedly sinful. Such, for instance, are those that spring
from a revengeful temper, from pride, or lust, or vanity. An
evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit :" Therefore if the tree
be evil, so must the fruit be also.
3. And so must those be which either produce or feed any
sinful temper; those which either give rise to pride or vanity,
to anger or love of the world, or confirm and increase these or
any other unholy temper, passion, or affection. For not only
whatever flows from evil is evil; but also whatever leads to it;
whatever tends to alienate the soul from God, and to make or
keep it earthly, sensual, and devilish.
4. Hence, even those thoughts which are occasioned by weak-
ness or disease, by the natural mechanism of the body, or by the
laws of vital union, however innocent they may be in themselves,
do nevertheless become sinful, when they either produce or
cherish and increase in us any sinful temper; suppose the desire
of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life. In like
manner, the wandering thoughts which are occasioned by the
words or actions of other men, if they cause or feed any wrong
disposition, then commence sinful. And the same we may
observe of those which are suggested or injected by the devil.
When they minister to any earthly or devilish temper, (which
they do, whenever we give place to them, and thereby make
them our own,) then they are equally sinful with the tempers to
which they minister.
5. But, abstracting from these cases, wandering thoughts, in
the latter sense of the word, that is, thoughts wherein our under-
standing wanders from the point it has in view, are no more sin-
WANDERING THOUGHTS. xJ
ful than the motion of the blood in our veins, or of the spirits
in our:brain. If they arise from an infirm constitution, or from
some accidental weakness or distemper, they are as innocent
as it is to have a weak constitution or a distempered body.
And surely no one doubts but a bad state of nerves, a fever
of any kind, and either a transient or a lasting delirium, may
consist with perfect innocence. And if they should arise in
a soul which is united to a healthful body, either from the
natural union between the body and soul, or from any of ten
thousand changes which may occur in those organs of'the body
that minister to thought;-in any of these cases they are as
perfectly innocent as the causes from which they spring. And
so they are when they spring from the casual, involuntary
associations of our ideas.
6. If our thoughts wander from the point we had in view,
by means of other men variously affecting our senses, they are
equally innocent still: For it is no more a sin to understand
what I see and hear, and in many cases cannot help seeing,
hearing, and understanding, than it is to have eyes and cars.
" But if the devil injects wandering thoughts, are not those
thoughts evil ?" They are troublesome, and in that sense evil;
but they are not sinful. I do not know that he spoke to our
Lord with an audible voice ; perhaps he spoke to his heart only.
when he said, ." All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt
fall down and worship me." But whether he spoke inwardly or
outwardly, our Lord doubtless understood what he said. He
had therefore a thought correspondent to those words. But was
it a sinful thought ? We know it was not. In him was no sin,
either inaction, or word, or thought. Nor is there any sin in
a thousand thoughts of the same kind, which Satan may inject
into any of our Lord's followers.
7. It follows that none of these wandering thoughts (what-
ever unwary persons have affirmed, thereby grieving whom the
Lord had not grieved) are inconsistent with perfect love.
Indeed, if they were, then not only sharp pain, but sleep itself,
would be inconsistent with it:-Sharp pain; for whenever this
supervenes, whatever we were before thinking of, it will inter-
rupt our thinking, and of course draw our thoughts into another
channel:-Yea, and sleep itself; as it is a state of insensibility
and stupidity; and such as is generally mixed with thoughts
wandering over the earth, loose, wild, and incoherent. Yet
certainly these are consistent with perfect love: So then are
all wandering thoughts of this kind.
IV. 1. From what has been observed, it is easy to give a clear
answer to the last question,-What kind of wandering thoughts
we may expect and pray to be delivered from.
From the former sort of wandering thoughts,-those wherein
'the heart wanders from God; from all that are contrary to his
will, or that leave us without God in the world; every one that
is perfected in love is unquestionably delivered. This deliver-
ance, therefore, we may expect; this we may, we ought to pray
for. Wandering thoughts of this kind imply unbelief, if not
enmity against God; but both of these he will destroy, will
bring utterly to an end. And indeed, from all sinful wandering
thoughts we shall be absolutely delivered. All that are perfected
in love are delivered from these ; else they were not saved from
sin. Men and devil-. will tempt them all manner of ways ; but
they cannot prevail over them.
2. With regard to the latter sort of wandering thoughts, the
case is widely different. Till the cause is removed, we cannot
in reason expect the effect should cease. But the causes or
occasions of these will remain as long as we remain in the body.
So long, therefore, we have all reason to believe the effects will
3. To be more particular: Suppose a soul, however holy, to
dwell in a distempered body ; suppose the brain be so tho-
roughly disordered, as that raging madness follows; will not all
the thoughts be wild and unconnected as long as that disorder
continues ? Suppose a fever occasions that temporary madness
which we term a delirium; can there be any just connexion
of thought till that delirium is removed ? Yea, suppose what is
called a nervous disorder to rise to so high a degree as to occa-
sion at least a partial madness; will there not be a thousand
wandering thoughts? And must not these irregular thoughts
continue as long as the disorder which occasions them ?
4. Will not the case be the same with regard to those thoughts
that necessarily arise from violent pain? Thev will more or
less continue, while that pain continues, by the inviolable
order of nature. This order, likewise, will obtain, where the
thoughts are disturbed, broken, or interrupted, by any defect
of the apprehension, judgment, or imagination, flowing from
the natural constitution of the body. And how many inter-
ruptidns may spring from the unaccountable and involuntary
association of our ideas! Now, all these are directly or
indirectly caused by the corruptible body pressing down the
mind. Nor, therefore, can we expect them to be removed tili
" this corruptible shall put on incorruption."
5. And then only, when we lie down in the dust, shall we be
delivered from those wandering thoughts which are occasioned
by what we see and hear, among those by whom we are now
surrounded. To avoid these, we must go outof the world : For
as long as we remain therein, as long as there are men and
women round about us, and we have eyes to see and ears to
hear, the things which we daily see and hear will certainly affect
our mind, and will more or less break in upon and interrupt our
(i. And as long as evil spirits roam to and fro in a miserable,
disordered world, so long they will assault (whether they can
prevail or no) every inhabitant of flesh and blood. They will
trouble even those whom they cannot destroy : They will attack,
if they cannot conquer. And from these attacks of our restless,
unwearied enemies, we must not look for an entire deliverance,
till we are lodged '- where the wicked cease from troubling, and
where the weary are at rest."
7. To sum up the whole : To expect deliverance from those
wandering thoughts which are occasioned by evil spirits is to
expect that the devil should die or fall asleep, or, at least, should
no more go about as a roaring lion. To expect deliverance
from those which are occasioned by other men is to expect
either that men should cease from the earth, or that we should
be absolutely secluded from them, and have no intercourse with
them ; or that having eyes we should not see, neither hear with
our ears, but be as senseless as stocks or stones. And to pray
for deliverance from those which are occasioned by the body is,
in effect, to pray that we may leave the body : Otherwise it is
praying for impossibilities and absurdities; praying that God
would reconcile contradictions, by continuing our union with a
corruptible body without the natural, necessary consequences
of that union. It is as if we should pray to be angels and men,
mortal and immortal, at the same time. Nay !-but when that
which is immortal is come, mortality is done away.
8. Rather let us pray, both with the spirit and with the under-
standing, that all these things may work together for our good;
that we may suffer all the infirmities of our nature, all the
interruptions of men, all the assaults and suggestions of evil
spirits, and in all be "more than conquerors." Let us pray,
that we may be delivered from all sin; that both root and branch
may be destroyed; that we may be "cleansed from all pollution
of flesh and spirit," from every evil temper, and word, and work ;
that we may "love the Lord our God with all our heart, with
all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength;"
that all the fruit of the Spirit may be found in us,-not only
love, joy, peace, but also long-suffering, gentleness, goodness,
fidelity, meekness, temperance." Pray that all these things may
flourish and abound, may increase in you more and more, till
an abundant entrance be ministered unto you, into the everlast-
ing kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!
We are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians ii. 11.
1. THE devices whereby the subtle god of this world labours
to destroy the children of God-or at least to torment whom
he cannot destroy, to perplex and hinder them in running the
race which is set before them-are numberless as the stars
of heaven, or the sand upon the sea-shore. But it is of one
of them only that I now propose to speak, (although exerted in
various ways,) whereby he endeavours to divide the gospel
against itself, and by one part of it to overthrow the other.
2. The inward kingdom of heaven, which is set up in the
hearts of all that repent and believe the gospel, is no other than
" righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Every
babe in Christ knows we are made partakers of these, the very
hour that we believe in Jesus. But these are only the first-
fruits of his Spirit; the harvest is not yet. Although these
blessings are inconceivably great, yet we trust to see greater
SATAN S DEVICES.
than these. We trust to love the Lord our God, not only as
we do now, with a weak, though sincere affection, hut with
all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with
all our strength." We look for power to rejoice evermore,
to pray without ceasing, and in every thing to give thanks;"
knowing, this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning
3. We expect to be "made perfect in love;" in that which
casts out all painful fear, and all desire but that of glorifying
him we love, and of loving and serving him more and more.
We look for such an increase in the experimental knowledge
and love of God our Saviour, as will enable us always to walk
in the light as he is in the light." We believe the whole mind
will be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus;" that we shall
love every man so as to be ready to lay down our life for his
sake; so as, by this love, to he freed from anger, and pride,
and from every unkind affection. We expect to be cleansed
from all our idols," from all filthiness," whether "of flesh or
spirit;" to be saved from all our uncleannesses," inward or
outward ; to be purified as lie is pure."
4. We trust in his promise, who cannot lie, that the time
will surely come, when, in every word and work, we shall do
his blessed will on earth, as it is done in heaven; when all our
conversation shall be seasoned with salt, all meet to minister
grace to the hearers; when, whether we eat or drink, or
whatever we do, it shall be done to the glory of God; when
all our words and deeds shall be "in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving thanks unto God, even the Father, through
5. Now this is the grand device of Satan, to destroy the
first work of God in the soul, or at least to hinder its increase,
by our expectation of that greater work. It is their fore my
present design, First, to point out the several ways whereby he
endeavours this: And, Secondly, to observe how we may retort
these fiery darts of the wicked one ; how we may rise the higher,
by what he intends for an occasion of our falling.
I. I am, First, to point out the several ways whereby
Satan endeavours to destroy the first work of God in the soul,
or at least to hinder its increase, by our expectation of that,
greater work. And, 1. He endeavours to damp our joy in
the Lord, by the consideration of our own vileness, sinfulness,
unworthiness; added to this, that there must he a far greater
change than is yet, or we cannot see the Lord. If we knew
we must remain as we are, even to the day of our death, we
might possibly draw a kind of comfort, poor as it was, from that
necessity. But as we know we need not remain in this state,
as we are assured there is a greater change to come, and that
unless sin be all done away in this life, we cannot see God in
glory,-that subtle adversary often damps the joy we should
otherwise feel in 'what we have already attained, by a perverse
representation of what we have not attained, and the absolute
necessity of attaining it. So that we cannot rejoice in what we
have, because there is more which we have not. We cannot
rightly taste the goodness of God, who hath done so great
things for us, because there are so much greater things which,
as yet, he hath not done. Likewise, the deeper conviction God
works in us of our present unholiness, and the more vehement
desire we feel in our heart of the entire holiness he hath pro-
mised, the more are we tempted to think lightly of the present
gifts of God, and to undervalue what we have already received
because of what we have not received.
2. If he can prevail thus far, if he can damp our joy, he will
soon attack our peace also. He will suggest, Are you fit to
see God? He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. How,
then, can you flatter yourself, so as to imagine he beholds you
with approbation? God is holy: You are unholy. What
communion hath light with darkness ? How is it possible that
you, unclean as you are, should be in a state of acceptance with
God ? You see indeed the mark, the prize of your high calling;
but do you not see it is afar off? How can you presume then
to think that all your sins are already blotted out? How can
this be, until you are brought nearer to God, until you bear
more resemblance to him ?" Thus will lie endeavour not only
to shake your peace, but even to overturn the very foundation
of it; to bring you back, by insensible degrees, to the point
from whence you set out first, even to seek for justification
by works, or by your own righteousness,-to make something
in you the ground of your acceptance, or, at least, necessarily
previous to it.
3. Or, if we hold fast, "Other foundation can no man lay
than that which is laid, even Jesus Christ ;" and, I am jus-
tified freely by God's grace, through the redemption which is
in Jesus ;" yet he will not cease to urge, "But the tree is
known by its fruits: And have you the fruits of justification '
Is that mind in you which was in Christ Jesus? Are you
(lead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness ? Are you made
conformable to the death of Christ, and do you know the power
of his resurrection ?" And then, comparing the small fruits we
feel in our souls with the fulness of the promises, we shall be
ready to conclude, Surely God hath not said that my sins are
forgiven me Surely I have not received the remission of my
sins; for what lot have I among them that are sanctified ?"
4. More especially in the time of sickness and pain, he will
press this with all his might: Is it not the word of Him that
cannot lie,' Without holiness no man shall see the Lord ?' But
you are not holy; you know it well; you know holiness is the
full image of God ; and how far is this above, out of your sight ?
You cannot attain unto it. Therefore, all your labour has
been in vain. All these things you have suffered in vain. You
have spent your strength for nought. You are yet in your sins,
and must therefore perish at the last." And thus, if your eye
be not steadily fixed on Him who hath borne all your sins, he
will bring you again under that "fear of death," whereby you
was so long subject unto bondage," and, by this means, impair,
if not wholly destroy, your peace, as well as joy in the Lord.
5. But his master-piece of subtilty is still behind. Not con-
tent to strike at your peace and joy, he will carry his attempts
farther yet: He will level his assault against your righteous-
ness also. He will endeavour to shake, yea, if it be possible,
to destroy, ite holiness you have already received, by your
very expectation of receiving more, of attaining all the image
6. The manner wherein he attempts this, may partly appear
from what has been already observed. For, First, by striking
at our joy in the Lord, he strikes likewise at our holiness:
Seeing joy in the Holy Ghost is a precious means of promoting
every holy temper; a choice instrument of God, whereby he
carries on much of his work in a believing soul. And it is a
considerable help, not only to inward, but also to outward,
holiness. It strengthens our hands to go on in the work of
faith, and in the labour of love ; manfully to fight the good
fight of faith, and to lay hold on eternal life." It is peculiarly
designed of God to be a balance both against inward and out-
ward sufferings: to "lift up the hands that hang down, and
confirm the feeble knees." Consequently, whatever damps our
joy in the Lord, proportionably obstructs our holiness. And
therefore, so far as Satan shakes our joy, he hinders our holiness
7. The same effect will ensue, if he can, by any means, either
destroy or shake our peace. For the peace of God is another
precious means of advancing the image of God in us. There
is scarce a greater help to holiness than this, a continual tran-
quillity of spirit, the evenness of a mind stayed upon God, a
calmn repose in the blood of Jesus. And without this, it is
scarce possible to "grow in grace," and in the vital "know-
ledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." For all fear (unless the ten-
der, filial fear) freezes and benumbs the soul. It binds up all
the springs of spiritual life, and stops all motion of the heart
toward God. And doubt, as it were, bemires the soul, so that
it sticks fast in the deep clay. Therefore, in the same propor-
tion as either of these prevail, our growth in holiness is hindered.
8. At the same time that our wise adversary endeavours to
make our conviction of the necessity of perfect love an occasion
of shaking our peace by doubts and fears, he endeavours to
weaken, if not destroy, our faith. Indeed these are inseparably
connected, so that they must stand or faHl together. So long
as faith subsists, we remain in peace; our heart stands fast,
while it believes in the Lord. But if we let go our faith, our
filial confidence in a loving, pardoning God, our peace is at an
end, the very foundation on which it stood being overthrown.
And this is the only foundation of holiness, as well as of peace;
consequently, whatever strikes at this, strikes at the very root
of all holiness: For without this faith, without an abiding
sense that Christ loved me, and gave himself for me, without
a continuing conviction that God for Christ's sake is merciful
to me a sinner, it is impossible that I should love God: We
love him, because lie first loved us ;" and in proportion to the
strength and clearness of our conviction that he hath loved
us, and accepted us in his Son. And unless we love God, it
is not possible that we should love our neighbour as ourselves;
nor, consequently, that we should have any right affections,
either toward God, or toward man. It evidently follows, that
whatever weakens our faith, must, in the same degree, obstruct
our holiness : And this is not only the most effectual, but also
the most compendious, way of destroying all holiness: seeing it
does not affect any one Christian temper, any single grace or
fruit of the Spirit, but, so far as it succeeds, tears up the very
root of the whole work of God.
9. No marvel, therefore, that the ruler of the darkness of
this world should here put forth all his strength. And so we
find by experience. For it is far easier to conceive, than it is
to express, the unspeakable violence wherewith this temptation
is frequently urged on them who hunger and thirst after righte-
ousness. When they see, in a strong and clear light, on the
one hand, the desperate wickedness of their own hearts,-on the
other hand, the unspotted holiness to which they are called in
Christ Jesus; on the one hand, the depth of their own corrup-
tion, of their total alienation from God,-on the other, the height
of the glory of God, that image of the Holy One, wherein they
are to be renewed ; there is, many times, no spirit left in them;
they could almost cry out. With God this is impossible!"
They are ready to give up both faith and hope; to cast away
that very confidence, whereby they are to overcome all things,
through Christ strengthening them ; whereby, "after they have
done the will of God," they are to receive the promise."
10. And if they hold fast the beginning of their confidence
steadfast unto the end," they shall undoubtedly receive the
promise of God, reaching through both time and eternity. But
here is another snare laid for our feet: While we earnestly pant
for that part of the promise which is to be accomplished here,
" for the glorious liberty of the children of God," we may be
led unawares from the consideration of the glory which shall
hereafter be revealed. Our eye may be insensibly turned aside
from that crown which the righteous Judge hath promised to
give at that day to all that love his appearing;" and we may
be drawn away from the view of that incorruptible inheritance
which is reserved in heaven for us. But this also would be a
loss to our souls, and an obstruction to our holiness. For to
walk in the continual sight of our goal, is a needful help in our
running the race that is set before us. This it was, the having
"respect unto the recompence of the reward," which, of old
time, encouraged Moses, rather to suffer affliction with the
people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the trea-
sures of Egypt," Nay, it is expressly said of a greater than he.
that, for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross,
and despised the shame," till he "sat down at the right hand
of the throne of God." Whence we may easily infer, how
much more needful for us is the view of that joy set before
us, that we may endure whatever cross the wisdom of God lays
upon us, and press on through holiness to glory.
11. But while we are reaching to this, as well as to that
glorious liberty which is preparatory to it, we may be in danger
of falling into another snare of the devil, wherein he labours to
entangle the children of God. We may take too much thought
for to-morrow, so as to neglect the improvement of to-day. We
may so expect perfect love, as not to use that which is already
shed abroad in our hearts. There have not been wanting
instances of those who have greatly suffered hereby. They
were so taken up with what they were to receive hereafter, as
utterly to neglect what they had already received. In expecta-
tion of having live talents more, they buried their one talent in
the earth. At least, they did not improve it as they might have
done, to the glory of God, and the good of their own souls.
12. Thus does the subtle adversary of God and man endea-
vour to make void the counsel of God, by dividing the gospel
against itself, and making one part of it overthrow the other;
while the first work of God in the soul is destroyed by the expect-
ation of his perfect work. We have seen several of the ways
wherein he attempts this, by cutting off, as it were, the springs
of holiness. But this he likewise does more directly, by making
that blessed hope an occasion of unholy tempers.
13. Thus, whenever our heart is eagerly athirst for all the
,great and precious promises; when we pant after the fulness of
God. as the hart after the water-brook; when our soul breaketh
out in fervent desire, Why are his chariot-wheels so long
a-coming ?"-he will not neglect the opportunity of tempting us
to murmur against God. He will use all his wisdom, and all his
strength, if haply, in an unguarded hour, we may be influenced
to repine at our Lord for thus delaying his coming. At least,
lie will labour to excite some degree of fretfulness or impatience;
and, perhaps, of envy at those whom we believe to have already
attained the prize of our high calling. He well knows, that, by
giving way to any of these tempers, we are pulling down the
very thing we would build up. Bly thus following after perfect
holiness, we become more unholy than before. Yea, there is
great danger that our last state should be worse than the
first; like them of whom the Apostle speaks in those dreadful
words, It had been better for them not to have known the
way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn
from the holy commandment delivered to them."
14. And from hence he hopes to reap another advantage,
even to bring up an evil report of the good way. He is sensi-
ble, how few are able to distinguish (and too many are not
willing so to do) between the accidental abuse, and the natural
tendency, of a doctrine. These, therefore, will he continually
blend together, with regard to the doctrine of Christian perfec-
tion ; in order to prejudice the minds of unwary men against the
glorious promises of God. And how frequently, how generally,
I had almost said how universally, has he prevailed herein!
For who is there that observes any of these accidental ill effects
of this doctrine, and does not immediately conclude, this is its
natural tendency; and does not readily cry out, See, these
are the fruits (meaning the natural, necessary fruits) of such
doctrine?" Not so: They are fruits which may accidentally
spring from the abuse of a great and precious truth: But
the abuse of this, or any other scriptural doctrine, does by no
means destroy its use. Neither can the unfaithfulness of man
perverting his right way, make the promise of God of no effect
No: Let God be true, and every man a liar. The word of the
Lord, it shall stand. Faithful is he that hath promised: He
also will do it." Let not us then be "removed from the hope
of the Gospel." Rather let us observe, which was the Second
thing proposed, How we may retort these fiery darts of the
wicked one: How we may rise the higher by what he intends
for an occasion of our falling.
II. 1. And, First, Does Satan endeavour to damp your joy
in the Lord, by the consideration of your sinfulness; added to
this, that without entire, universal holiness, no man can see the
Lord ? You may cast back this dart upon his own head, while,
through the grace of God, the more you feel of your own vile-
ness, the more you rejoice in confident hope, that all this shall
be done away. While you hold fast this hope, every evil tem-
per you feel, though you hate it with a perfect hatred, may
tie a means, not of lessening your humble joy, but rather of
increasing it. This and this," may you say, shall likewise
perish from the presence of the Lord. Like as the wax melteth
at the fire, so shall this melt away before his face." By this
means, the greater that change is which remains to be wrought
in your soul, the more may you triumph in the Lord, and rejoice
in the God of your salvation, who hath done so great things for
you already, and will do so much greater things than these.
2. Secondly: The more vehemently he assaults your peace
with that suggestion, God is holy; you are unholy; you are
immensely distant from that holiness, without which you cannot
see God: How then can you be in the favour of God ? How
can you fancy you are justified ?"-take the more earnest heed
to hold fast that, Not by works of righteousness which I have
done, I am found in him ; I am accepted in the Beloved; not
having my own righteousness, (as the cause, either in whole or
in part, of our justification before God,) but that which is by
faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." 0
bind this about your neck : Write it upon the table of thy heart.
Wear it as a bracelet upon thy arm, as frontlets between thine
eves: I am 'justified freely by his grace, through the redemp-
tion that is in Jesus Christ."' Value and esteem, more and
more, that precious truth, By grace we are saved through
faith."' Admire, more and more, the free grace of God, in so
- loving the world as to give his only begotten Son, that who-
soever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting
life." So shall the sense of tle sinfulness you feel, on the one
hand, and of the holiness you expect, on the other, both contri-
bute to establish your peace, and to make ig flow as a river. So
shall that peace flow on with an even stream, in spite of all those
mountains of ungodliness, which shall become a plain in the
day when the Lord cometh to take full possession of your heart.
Neither will sickness, or pain, or the approach of death occasion
any doubt or fear. You know a day, an hour, a moment, with
God, is as a thousand years. He cannot be straitened for time,
wherein to work whatever remains to be done in your soul.
And God's time is always the best time. Therefore be thou
careful for nothing: Only make thy requests known unto Him,
and that not with doubt or fear, but thanksgiving; as being
previously assured, He cannot withhold from thee any manner
of thing that is good.
3. Thirdly : The more you are tempted to give up your
shield, to cast away your faith, your confidence in his love, so
much the more take heed that you hold fast that whereunto you
SATAN S DEVICES.
have attained; so much the more labour to stir up the gift
of God which is in you. Never let that slip, I have 'an
Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ;' and,
' The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who
loved me, and gave himself for me."' Be this thy glory, and
crown of rejoicing; and see that no one take thy crown. Hold
that fast: I know that my Redeemer liveth, and shall stand at
the latter day upon the earth ;" and, I now have redemption
in his blood, even the forgiveness of sins."' Thus, being filled
with all peace and joy in believing, press on, in the peace
and joy of faith, to the renewal of thy whole soul in the image
of Him that created thee Meanwhile, cry continually to God,
that thou mayest see that prize of thy high calling, not as
Satan represents it, in a horrid dreadful shape, but in its
genuine native beauty ; not as something that must be, or
thou wilt go to hell, but as what may be, to lead thee to heaven.
Look upon it as the most desirable gift which is in all the stores
of the rich mercies of God. Beholding it in this true point
of light, thou wilt hunger after it more and more ; thy whole
soul will be athirst for God, and for this glorious conformity to
his likeness; and,, having received a good hope of this, and
strong consolation through grace, thou wilt no more be weary
or faint in thy mind, but wilt follow on till thou attainest.
4. In the same power of faith, press on to glory. Indeed, this
is the same prospect still. God hath joined, from the beginning,
pardon, holiness, heaven. And why should man put them
asunder? 0 beware of this! Let not one link of the golden
chain be broken. God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven me.
He is now renewing me in his own image. Shortly he will
make me meet for himself, and take me to stand before his face.
I, whom he hath justified through the blood of his Son, being
throughly sanctified by his Spirit, shall quickly ascend to the
' New Jerusalem, the city of the living God.' Yet a little
while, and I shall 'come to the general assembly and church
of the first-born, and to God the Judge of all, and to Jesus the
Mediator of the New Covenant.' How soon will these shadows
flee away, and the day of eternity dawn upon me! How soon
shall I drink of' the river of the water of life, going out of the
throne of God and of the Lamb There all his servants shall
praise him, and shall see his face, and his name shall be upon
their foreheads. And no night shall be there; and they have
no need of a candle, or the light of the sun. For the Lord God
enlighteneth them, and they shall reign for ever and ever.'"
5. And if you thus "taste of the good word, and of the
powers of the world to come," you will not murmur against
God, because you are not yet "meet for the inheritance of the
saints in light." Instead of repining at your not being wholly
delivered, you will praise God for thus far delivering you. You
will magnify God for what he'hath done, and take it as an ear-
nest of what he will do. You will not fret against him, because
you are not yet renewed, but bless him because you shall be;
and because now is your salvation" from all sin nearer than
when you" first "believed." Instead of uselessly tormenting
yourself because the time is not fully come, you will calmly and
quietly wait for it, knowing that it will come, and will not tarry."
You may, therefore, the more cheerfully endure, as yet, the
burden of sin that still remains in you, because it will not always
remain. Yet a little while, and it shall be clean gone. Only
"tarry thou the Lord's leisure:" Be strong; and "he shall
comfort thy heart;" and put thou thy trust in the Lord !
6. And if you see any who appear (so far as man can judge,
but God alone searcheth the hearts) to be. already partakers
of their hope, already made perfect in love; far from envying
the grace of God in them, let it rejoice and comfort your heart.
Glorify God for their sake If one member is honoured," shall
not "all the members rejoice with it ?" Intead of jealousy or
evil surmising concerning them, praise God for the consolation !
Rejoice in having a fresh proof of the faithfulness of God in
fulfilling all his promises; and stir yourself up the more, to
apprehend that for which you also are apprehended of Christ
7. In order to this, redeem the time. Improve the present
moment. Buy up every opportunity of growing in grace, or
of doing good. Let not the thought of receiving more grace
to-morrow, make you negligent of to-day. You have one talent
now: If you expect five more, so much the rather improve that
you have. And the more you expect to receive hereafter, the
more labour for God now. Sufficient for the day is the grace
thereof. God is now pouring his benefits upon you: Now
approve yourself a faithful steward of the present grace of God.
Whatever may be to-morrow, give all diligence to-day, to add
to your faith courage, temperance, patience, brotherly-kindness,"
THE SCRII'TURE WAY OF SALVATION.
and the fear of God, till you attain that pure and perfect love !
Let these things be now "in you and abound !" Be not now
slothful or unfruitful: So shall an entrance be ministered unto
you into tie everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
8. Lastly : If in time past you have abused this blessed hope
of being holy as he is holy, yet do not therefore cast it away.
Let the abuse cease, the use remain. Use it now to the more
abundant glory of God, and profit of your own soul. In stead-
fast faith, in calm tranquillity of spirit, in full assurance of hope,
rejoicing evermore for what God hath done, press ye on unto
perfection Daily growing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus
Christ, and going on from strength to strength, in resignation,
in patience, in humble thankfulness for what ye have attained,
and for what ye shall, run the race set before you, "looking
unto Jesus," till, through perfect love, ye enter into his glory!
THE SCRIPTURE WAY OF SALVATION.
Ye are saved through faith." Ephesians ii. 8.
1. NOTHING can be more intricate, complex, and hard to be
understood than religion, as it has been often described. And
this is not only true concerning the religion of the Heathens,
even many of the wisest of them, but concerning the religion
of those also who were, in some sense, Christians ; yea, and men
of great name in the Christian world; men who seemed to be
pillars thereof. Yet how easy to be understood, how plain and
simple a thing is the genuine religion of Jesus Christ; provided
only that we take it in its native form, just as it is described in
the oracles of God It is exactly suited, by the wise Creator
and Governor of the world, to the weak understanding and
narrow capacity of man in his present state. How observable is
this, both with regard to the end it proposes, and the means to
attain that end The end is, in one word, salvation ; the reans
to attain it, faith.
2. It is easily discerned, that these two little words, I mean
faith and salvation, include the substance of all the Bible
the marrow, as it were, of the whole Scripture. So much the
more should we take all possible care to avoid all mistake
concerning them, and to form a true and accurate judgment
concerning both the one and the other.
3. Let us then seriously inquire,
I. What is salvation?
II. What is that faith whereby we are saved? And,
III. How we are saved by it ?
1. 1. And, First, let us inquire, What is salvation ? The
salvation which is here spoken of is not what is frequently
understood by that word, the going to heaven, eternal happiness.
It is not the soul's going to paradise, termed by our Lord,
" Abraham's bosom." It is not a blessing which lies on the
other side death ; or, as we usually speak, in the other world.
The very words of the text itself put this beyond all question:
"Ye are saved." It is not something at a distance: It is a
present thing; a blessing which, through the free mercy of God,
ye are now in possession of. Nay, the words may be rendered,
and that with equal propriety, Ye have been saved :" So that
the salvation which is here spoken of might be extended to the
entire work of God, from the first dawning of grace in the soul,
till it is consummated in glory.
2. If we take this in its utmost extent, it will include all that
is wrought in the soul by what is frequently termed natural
conscience, but more properly, preventing grace ;-all the draw-
ings of the Father; the desires after God, which, if we yield to
them, increase more and more;-all that light wherewith the
Son of God "enlighteneth every one that cometh into the
world ;" showing every man to do justly, to love mercy, and
to walk humbly with his God ;"-all the convictions which his
Spirit, from time to time, works in every child of man; although,
it is true, the generality of men stifle them as soon as possible,
and after a while forget, or at least deny, that they ever had
them at all.
3. But we are at present concerned only with that salvation
which the Apostle is directly speaking of. And this consists
of two general parts, justification and sanctification.
Justification is another word for pardon. It is the forgiveness
of all our sins; and, what is necessarily implied therein, our
TIIE SCRIPTURE WAY OF SALVATION.
acceptance with God. The price whereby.this hath been pro.
cured for us, (commonly termed the meritorious cause of our
justification,) is the blood and righteousness of Christ; or, to
express it a little more clearly, all that Christ hath done and
suffered for us, till le poured out his soul for the transgressors."
The immediate effects of justification are, the peace of God,
a peace that passeth all understanding," and a rejoicing
in hope of the glory of God" with joy unspeakable and full
4. And at the same time that we are justified, yea, in that
very moment, sanctification begins. In that instant we are born
again, born from above, born of the Spirit: There is a real as
well as a relative change. We are inwardly renewed by the
power of God. We feel the love of God shed abroad in our
heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us;" producing
love to all mankind, and more especially to the children of God ;
expelling the love of the world, the love of pleasure, of ease,
of honour, of money, together with pride, anger, self-will, and
every other evil temper; in a word, changing the earthly, sen-
sual, devilish mind, into the mind which was in Christ Jesus."
5. How naturally do those who experience such a change
imagine that all sin is gone; that it is utterly rooted out
of their heart, and has no more any place therein How easily
do they draw that inference, I feel no sin ; therefore, I have
none: It does not stir; therefore, it does not e.vist: It has no
motion; therefore, it has no being!"
6. But it is seldom long before they are undeceived, finding
sin was only suspended, not destroyed. Temptations return,
and sin revives; showing it was but stunned before, not dead.
They now feel two principles in themselves, plainly contrary
to each other; the flesh lusting against the Spirit;" nature
opposing the grace of God. They cannot deny, that, although
they still feel power to believe in Christ, and to love God; and
although his Spirit" still witnesses with their spirits, that
they are children of God ;" yet they feel in themselves some-
times pride or self-will, sometimes anger or unbelief. They find
one or more of these frequently stirring in their heart, though
not conquering; yea, perhaps, thrusting sore at them that
they may fall;" but the Lord is their help.
7- How exactly did Macarius, fourteen hundred years ago,
describe the present experience of the children of God The
unskilful," or unexperienced, "when grace operates, presently
imagine they have no more sin. Whereas they that have dis-
cretion cannot deny, that even we who have the grace of God
may be molested again.-For we have often had instances of
some among the brethren, who have experienced such grace as
to affirm that they had no sin in them; and yet, after all, when
they thought themselves entirely freed from it, the corruption
that lurked within was stirred up anew, and they were well-nigh
8. From the time of our being born again, the gradual work
of sanctification takes place. We are enabled "by the Spirit"
to mortify the deeds of the body," of our evil nature; and as
we are more and more dead to sin, we are more and more alive
to God. We go on from grace to grace, while we are careful to
." abstain from all appearance of evil," and are zealous of good
works," as we have opportunity, doing good to all men; while
we walk in all His ordinances blameless, therein worshipping
Him in spirit and in truth; while we take up our cross, and
deny ourselves every pleasure that does not lead us to God.
9. It is thus that we wait for entire sanctification ; for a full
salvation from all our sins,-from pride, self-will, anger, unbelief;
or, as the Apostle expresses it, "go on unto perfection." But
what is perfection ? The word has various senses: Here it
means perfect love. It is love excluding sin; love filling the
heart, taking up the whole capacity of the soul. It is love
rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, in every thing
II. But what is that faith through which we are saved?
This is the Second point to be considered.
1. Faith, in general, is defined by the Apostle, rpayti-arwi
sA-y7o; ov h roa-pvwv An evidence, a divine evidence and
conviction (the word means both) of things not seen; not
visible, not perceivable either by sight, or by any other of the
external senses. It implies both a supernatural evidence
of God, and of the things of God; a kind of spiritual light
exhibited to the soul, and a supernatural sight or perception
thereof. Accordingly, the Scripture speaks of God's giving
sometimes light, sometimes a power of discerning it. So St.
Paul: God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness,
hath shined in our hearts, to give is the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face ,of Jesus Christ." And else-
THE SCRIPTURE WAY OF SALVATION. 47
where the same Apostle speaks of the eyes of" our under
standing being opened." By this two-fold operation of the Holy
Spirit, having the eyes of our soul both opened and enlight-
ened, we see the things which the natural eye hath not seen,
neither the ear heard." We have a prospect of the invisible
things of God ; we see the spiritual world, which is all round
about us, and yet no more discerned by our natural faculties
than if it had no being: And we see the eternal world;
piercing through the veil which hangs between time and eternity.
Clouds and darkness then rest upon it no more, but we already
see the glory which shall be revealed.
2. Taking the word in a more particular sense, faith is a
divine evidence and conviction, not only that God was in
Christ, reconciling the world unto himself," but also that Christ
loved me, and gave himself for me. It is by this faith (whether
we term it the essence, or rather a property thereof) that we
receive Christ; that we receive him in all his offices, as our
Prophet, Priest, and King, It is by this that he is made
of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification,
3. But is this the faith of assurance, or faith of adher-
ence ?" The Scripture mentions no such distinction. The
Apostle says, There is one faith, and one hope of our call-
ing;" one Christian, saving faith; as there is one Lord," in
whom we believe, and "one God and Father of us all." And
it is certain, this faith necessarily implies an assurance (which
is here only another word for evidence, it being hard to tell the
difference between them) that Christ loved me, and gave him-
self for me. For he that believeth" with the true living faith,
" hath the witness in himself:" The Spirit witnesseth with his
spirit, that he is a child of God." Because he is a son, God
hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into his heart, crying. Abba,
Father;" giving him an assurance that he is so, and a childlike
confidence in him. But let it be observed, that, in the very
nature of the thing, the assurance goes before the confidence.
For a man cannot have a childlike confidence in God till he
knows he is a child of God. Therefore confidence, trust, reli-
ance, adherence, or whatever else it be called, is not the first, as
some have supposed, but the second branch or act of faith.
4. It is by this faith we are saved, justified and sanctified;
taking that word in its highest sense. But how are we justified
and sanctified by faith ? This is our Third head of inquiry.
And this being the main point in question, and a point of no
ordinary importance, it will not be improper to give it a more
distinct and particular consideration.
III. 1. And, First, how are we justified by faith ? In what
sense is this to be understood ? I answer, Faith is the condition,
and the only condition, of justification. It is the condition:
None is justified but he that believes: Without faith no man is
justified. And it is the only condition: This alone is sufficient
for justification. Every one that believes is justified, whatever
else he has or has not. In other words: No man is justified
till he believes ; every man, when he believes, is justified.
2. But does not God command us to repent also ? Yea,
and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance ?'-to cease,
for instance, from doing evil; and learn to do well ? And is
not both the one and the other of the utmost necessity, insomuch
that if we willingly neglect either, we cannot reasonably expect
to be justified at all ? But if this be so, how can it be said that
faith is the only condition of justification ?"
God does undoubtedly command us both to repent, and to
bring forth fruits meet for repentance; which if we willingly
neglect, we cannot reasonably expect to be justified at all:
Therefore both repentance, and fruits meet for repentance, are,
in some sense, necessary to justification. But they are not
necessary in the same sense with faith, nor in the same degree.
Not in the same degree; for those fruits are only necessary
conditionally; if there be time and opportunity for them.
Otherwise a man may be justified without them, as was the
thief upon the cross; (if we may call him so; for a late writer
has discovered that he was no thief, but a very honest and
respectable person !) but he cannot be justified without faith;
this is impossible. Likewise, let a man have ever so much
repentance, or ever so many of the fruits meet for repentance,
yet all this does not at all avail; he is not justified till he believes.
But the moment he believes, with or without those fruits, yea,
with more or less repentance, he is justified.-Not in the same
sense; for repentance and its fruits are only remotely neces-
sary; necessary in order to faith; whereas faith is immediately
and directly necessary to justification. It remains, that faith is
the only condition, which is immediately and proxvimately neces-
sary to justification.
TUE S(CRIPTJRE WAY OF SALVATJO
3. "But do you believe we are sanctified by faith? We
know you believe that we are justified by faith ; but do not you
believe, and accordingly teach, that we are sanctified by our
works?" So it has been roundly and vehemently affirmed for
these five-and-twenty years: But I have constantly declared
just the contrary; and 'that in all manner of ways. I have
continually testified in private and in public, that we are sancti-
fied as well as justified by faithr. And indeed the one of those
great truths does exceedingly illustrate the other. Exactly as
we are justified by faith, so are we sanctified by faith. Faith
is the condition, and the only condition, of sanctification, exactly
as it is of justification. It is the condition: None is sanctified
but he that believes; without faith no man is sanctified. And
it is the only condition: This alone is sufficient for sanctifica-
tion. Every one that believes is sanctified, whatever else he has
or has not. In other words, no man is sanctified till he believes
Every man when he believes is sanctified.
4. But is there not a repentance consequent upon,'as well
as a repentance previous to, justification ? And is it not incum-
bent on all that are justified to be zealous of good works?'
Yea, are not these so necessary, that if a man willingly neglect
them he cannot reasonably expect that he shall ever be sanctified
in the full sense ; that is, perfected in love ? Nay, can he grow
at all in grace, in the loving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ ?
Yea, can he retain the grace which God has already given
him ? Can he continue in the faith which he has received, or
in the favour of God ? Do not you yourself allow all this, and
continually assert it ? But, if this be so, how can it be said
that faith is the only condition of sanctification ?"
5. I do allow all this, and continually maintain it as the truth
of God. I allow there is a repentance consequent upon, as well
as a repentance previous to, justification. It is incumbent on
all that are justified to be zealous of good works. And these
are so necessary, that if a man willingly neglect them, he cannot
reasonably expect that lie shall ever be sanctified; he cannot
grow in grace, in the image of God, the mind which was in
Christ Jesus; nay, he cannot retain the grace he has received;
he cannot continue in faith, or in the favour of God.
What is the inference we must draw herefrom ? Why, that
both repentance, rightly understood, and the practice of all good
works,-works of piety, as well as works of mercy, (now properly
so called, since they spring from faith,) are, in some sense, neces-
sary to sanctification.
6. I say, repentance rightly understood; for this must not
he confounded with the former repentance. The repentance
consequent upon justification is widely different from that which
is antecedent to it. This implies no guilt, no sense of condemn-
ation, no consciousness of the wrath of God. It does not sup-
pose any doubt of the favour of God, or any fear that hath
torment." It is properly a conviction, wrought by the Holy
Ghost, of the sin which still remains in our heart; of the
povry. O-apxo, the carnal mind, which does still remain,"
(as our Church speaks,) "even in them that are regenerate;"
although it does no longer reign; it has not now dominion over
them. It is a conviction of our proneness to evil, of an heart
bent to backsliding, of the still continuing tendency of the flesh
to lust against the spirit. Sometimes, unless we continually watch
and pray, it lusteth to pride, sometimes to anger, sometimes to
love of the world, love of ease, love of honour, or love of plea-
sure more than of God. It is a conviction of the tendency
of our heart to self-will, to Atheism, or idolatry ; and, above all,
to unbelief, whereby, in a thousand ways, and under a thousand
pretences, we are ever departing, more or less, from the living
7. With'this conviction of the sin remaining in our hearts,
there is joined a.clear conviction of the sin remaining in our
lives; still cleaning to all our words and actions. In the best
of these we now discern a mixture of evil, either in the spirit,
the matter, or the manner of them ; something that could not
endure the righteous judgment of God, were he extreme to
mark what is done amiss. Where we least suspected it, we find
a taint of pride, or self-will, of unbelief, or idolatry ; so that we
are now more ashamed of our best duties than formerly of our
worst sins: And hence we cannot but feel that these are so far
from having any thing meritorious in them, yea, so far from
being able to stand in sight of the divine justice, that for those
also we should be guilty before God, were it not for the blood
of the covenant.
8. Experience shows that, together with this conviction
of sin remaining in our hearts, and cleaning to all our words
and actions; as well as the guilt which on account thereof we
sho .ld incur, were we not continually sprinkled with the atoning
THE SCRIPTURtE WAY OF SALVATION. 51
blood; one thing more is implied in this repentance; namely, a
conviction of our helplessness, of our utter inability to think
one good thought, or to form one good desire; and much more
to speak one word aright, or to perform one good action, but
through his free almighty grace, first preventing us, and then
accompanying us every moment.
9. But what good works are those, the practice of which
you affirm to be necessary to sanctification ?" First, all works
of piety; such as public prayer, family prayer, and praying in
our closet; receiving the supper of the Lord; searching the
Scriptures, by hearing, reading, meditating; and using such a
measure of fasting or abstinence as our bodily health allows.
10. Secondly, all works of mercy ; whether they relate to the
bodies or souls of men; such as feeding the hungry, clothing;
the naked, entertaining the stranger, visiting those that are in
prison, or sick, or variously afflicted; such as the endeavouring
to instruct the ignorant, to awaken the stupid sinner, to quicken
the lukewarm, to confirm the wavering, to comfort the feeble-'
minded, to succour the tempted, or contribute in any manner"
to the saving of souls from death. This is the repentance, and
these the "fruits meet for repentance," which are necessary to'
full sanctification. This is the way wherein God hath appointed:
his children to wait for complete salvation.
11. Hence may appear the extreme mischievousness of that,
seemingly innocent opinion, that there is no sin in a believer *
that all sin is destroyed, root and branch, the moment a man is,
justified. By totally preventing that repentance, it quite blocks
up the way to sanctification. There is no place for repentance'
in him who believes there is no sin either in his life or heart:
Consequently, there is no place for his being perfected in love,
to which that repentance is indispensably necessary.
12. Hence it may likewise appear, that there is no possible
danger in thus expecting full salvation. For suppose we were
mistaken, suppose no such blessing ever was or can be attained,
yet we lose nothing: Nay, that very expectation quickens us in
using all the talents which God has given us; yea, in improving
them all; so that when our Lord cometh, he will receive his
own with increase.
13. But to return.' Though it be allowed, that both this'
repentance and its fruits are necessary to full salvation; yet'
tiey are not necessary cither in the same sense with faith, or in
the same degree :-Not in the same degree ; for these fruits are
only necessary conditionally, if there be time and opportunity for
them; otherwise a man may be sanctified without them. But
he cannot be sanctified without faith. Likewise, let a man have
ever so much of this repentance, or ever so many good works,
yet all this does not at all avail: He is not sanctified till he
believes. But the moment he believes, with or without those
fruits, yea, with more or less of this repentance, he is sanctified.
-Not in the same sense; for this repentance and these fruits
are only remotely necessary,-necessary in order to the con-
tinuance of his faith, as well as the increase of it; whereas
faith is immediately and directly necessary to sanctification. It
remains, that faith is the only condition which is immediately
and proximately necessary to sanctification.
14. But what is that faith whereby we are sanctified;-
saved from sin, and perfected in love ?" It is a divine evidence
and conviction, First, that God hath promised it in the Holy
Scripture. Till we are thoroughly satisfied of this, there is no
moving one step further. And one would imagine there needed
not one word more to satisfy a reasonable man of this, than the
ancient promise, Then will I circumcise thy heart, and the
heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." How clearly
does this express the being perfected in love !-how strongly
imply the being saved from all sin! For as long as love takes
up the whole heart, what room is there for sin therein ?
15, It is a divine evidence and conviction, Secondly, that
what God hath promised he is able to perform. Admitting,
therefore, that with men it is impossible" to bring a clean
thing out of an unclean," to purify the heart from all sin, and
to fill it with all holiness; yet this creates no difficulty in the case,
seeing with God all things are possible." And surely no one
ever imagined it was possible to any power less than that of the
Almighty But if God speaks, it shall be done. God saith,
Let there be light; and there" is "light!"
16. It is, Thirdly, a divine evidence and conviction that he
is able and willing to do it now. And why not? Is not a
moment to him the same as a thousand years ? He cannot want
more time to accomplish whatever is his will. And he cannot
want or stay for, any more worthiness or fitness in the persons
he is pleased to honour. We may therefore boldly say, at any
THE SCRIFTURE WAY OF SALVATI0NV
point of time, Now is the day of salvation !" To-day, if ye
will hear his voice, harden not your hearts !" Behold, all
things are now ready; come unto the marriage!"
17. To this confidence, that God is both able and willing ti
sanctify us now, there needs to be added one thing more,-a
divine evidence and conviction that he doeth it. In that hour
it is done: God says to the inmost soul, According to thy
faith be it unto thee !" Then the soul is pure from every spot
of sin ; it is clean from all unrighteousness." The believer
then experiences the deep meaning of those solemn words, If
we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship
one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans-
eth us from all sin."
18. "But does God work this great work in the soul gradu-
ally or instantaneously ?" Perhaps it may be gradually wrought
in some; I mean in this sense, they do not advert to the par-
ticular moment wherein sin ceases to be. But it is infinitely
desirable, were it the will of God, that it should be done instan-
taneously ; that the Lord should destroy sin by the breath
of his mouth," in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. And so
he generally does ; a plain fact, of which there is evidence enough
to satisfy any unprejudiced person. Thou therefore look for
it every moment! Look for it in the way above described; in
all those good works whereunto thou art created anew in
Christ Jesus." There is then no danger: You can be no
worse, if you dre no better, for that expectation. For were you
to be disappointed of your hope, still you lose nothing. But
you shall not be disappointed of your hope: It will come, and
will not tarry. Look for it then every day, every hour, every
moment Why not this hour, this moment ? Certainly you
may look for it now, if you believe it is by faith. And by this
token you may surely know whether you seek it by faith or
by works. If by works, you want something to be done first,
before you are sanctified. You think, I must first be or do
thus or thus. Then you are seeking it by works unto this day.
If you seek it by faith, you may expect it as you are; and if as
you are, then expect it now. It is of importance to observe.,
that there is an inseparable connexion between these three
points,-expect it by faith, expect it as you are, and expect it
now To deny one of them, is to deny them all; to allow
one, is to allow them all. Do you believe we are sanctified
by faith ? Be true then to your principle; and look for this
.blessing just as you are, neither better nor worse; as a poor
sinner that has still nothing to pay, nothing to plead, but
" Christ died." And if you look for it as you are, then expect
it now. Stay for nothing : Why should you ? Christ is ready;
and He is all you want. He is waiting for you: He is at the
,door I Let your inmost soul cry out,
Come in, come in, thou heavenly Guest!
Nor hence again remove;
But sup with me, and let the feast
Be everlasting love.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the
earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his
heart was only evil continually." Genesis vi. 5.
1. How widely different is this from the fair pictures of
human nature which men have drawn in all ages! The
writings of many of the ancients abound with gay descriptions
of the dignity of man; whom some of them paint as having all
virtue and happiness in his composition, or, at least, entirely in
his power, without being beholden to any other being; yea, as
self-sufficient, able to live on his own stock, and little inferior
.'o God himself.
2. Nor have Heathens alone, men who are guided in their
researches by little more than the dim light of reason, hut many
likewise of them that hear the name of Christ, and to whom
,are entrusted the oracles of God, spoken as magnificently con.
cerning the nature of man, as if it were all innocence and perfec-
tion. Accounts of this kind have particularly abounded in the
present century; and perhaps in no part of the world more than
in our own country. Here not a few persons of strong undcr-
ORIGINAL. SIN. 55
standing, as well as extensive learning, have employed their
utmost abilities to show, what they termed, the fair side
of human nature." And it must he acknowledged, that, if their
accounts of him be just, man is still but a little lower than
the angels; or, as the words may be more literally rendered,
' a little less than God."
3. Is it any wonder, that these accounts are very readily
received by the generality of men? For who is not easily
persuaded to think favourably of himself? Accordingly, writers
cf this kind are most universally read, admired, applauded.
And innumerable are the converts they have made, not only
in the gay, but the learned world. So that it is now quite
unfashionable to talk otherwise, to say any thing to the dis-
paragement of human nature; which is generally allowed,
notwithstanding a few infirmities, to be very innocent, and wise,
and virtuous !
4. But, in the mean time, what must we do with our Bibles?
-for they will never agree with this. These accounts, however
pleasing to flesh and blood, are utterly irreconcilable with the
scriptural. The Scripture avers, that by one man's disobe-
dience all men were constituted sinners;" that "in Adam all
died," spiritually died, lost the life and the image of God;
that fallen, sinful Adam then begat a son in his own like-
ness ;"-nor was it possible he should beget him in any other;
for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ?"-that
consequently we, as well as other men, were by nature dead
in trespasses and sins," without hope, without God in the
world," and therefore children of wrath ;" that every man may
say, I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin did my mother
conceive me;" that there is no difference," in that "all have
sinned and come short of the glory of God," of that glorious
image of God wherein man was originally created. And hence,
when "the Lord looked down from heaven upon the children
of men, he saw they were all gone out of the way; they were
altogether become abominable, there was none righteous, no,
not one," none that truly sought after God : Just agreeable
this, to what is declared by the Holy Ghost in the words above
recited, God saw," when he looked down from heaven before,
"that the wickedness of man was great in the earth ;" so great,
that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only
This is God's account of man : From which I shall take
occasion, First, to show what men were before the flood:
Secondly, to inquire, whether they are not the same now: And,
Thirdly, to add some inferences.
1. 1. I am, First, by opening the words of the text, to show
what men were before the fl:od. And we may fully depend
on the account here given: For God saw it, and he cannot be
deceived. He saw that the wickedness of man was great :"
-Not of this or that man; not of a few men only; not barely
of the greater part, but of man in general; of men universally.
The word includes the whole human race, every partaker
of human nature. And it is not easy for us to compute their
numbers, to tell how many thousands and millions they were.
The earth then retained much of its primeval beauty and
original fruitfulness. The face of the globe was not rent' and
torn as it is now; and spring and summer went hand in hand.
It is therefore probable, it afforded sustenance for far more
inhabitants than it is now capable of sustaining; and these
must be immensely multiplied, while men begat sons and daugh-
ters for seven or eight hundred years together. Yet, among
all this inconceivable number, only Noah found favour with
God." He alone (perhaps including part of his household)
was an exception from the universal wickedness, which, by
the just judgment of God, in a short time after brought on
universal destruction. All the rest were partakers in the same
guilt, as they were in the same punishment.
2. God saw all the imaginations of the thoughts of his
heart;"-of his soul, his inward man, the spirit within him,
the principle of all his inward and outward motions. He saw
all the imaginations:"-It is not possible to find a word of a
more extensive signification. It includes whatever is formed,
made, fabricated within; all that is or passes in the soul; every
inclination, affection, passion, appetite; every temper, design,
thought. It must of consequence include every word and
action, as naturally flowing from these fountains, and being
either good or evil according to the fountain from which they
3. Now God saw that all this, the whole thereof, was evil;
-contrary to moral rectitude; contrary to the nature of God,
which necessarily includes all good contrary to the divine will,
the eternal standard of good and evil; contrary to the pure,
ORIGINAL SIX. 57
holy image of God, wherein man was originally created, and
wherein he stood when God, surveying the works of his hands,
saw them all to be very good ; contrary to justice, mercy, and
truth, and to the essential relations which each man bore to his
Creator and his fellow-creatures.
4. But was there not good mingled with the evil? Was
there not light intermixed with the darkness? No; none at
all: God saw that the whole imagination of the heart of man
was only evil." It cannot indeed he denit d, but many of them,
perhaps all, had good motions put into their hearts; for the
Spirit of God did then also "strive with man," if haply he
might repent, more especially during that gracious reprieve,
the hundred and twenty years, while the ark was preparing.
But still in his flesh dwelt no good thing ;" all his nature was
purely evil: It was wholly consistent with itself, and unmixed
with anything of an opposite nature.
5. However, it may still be matter of inquiry, Was there
no intermission of this evil ? Were there no lucid intervals,
wherein something good might be found in the heart of man ?'
We are not here to consider, what the grace of God might
occasionally work in his soul ; and, abstracted from this, we
have no reason to believe, there was any intermission of that
evil. For God, who saw the whole imagination of the thoughts
of his heart to be only evil," saw likewise, that it was always
the same, that it was only evil continually ;" every year,
every day, every hour, every moment. He never deviated into
II. Such is the authentic account of the whole race of man-
kind which He who knoweth what is in man, who searcheth
the heart and trieth the reins, hath left upon record for our
instruction. Such were all men before God brought the flood
upon the earth. We are, Secondly, to inquire, whether they
are the same now.
1. And this is certain, the Scripture gives us no reason to
think any otherwise of them. On the contrary, all the above-
cited passages of Scripture refer to those who lived after the
flood. It was above a thousand years after, that God declared
by D:vid concerning the children of men, "' They are all gone
out of the way of truth and holiness ; there is none righteous,
no, not one." And to this bear all the Prophets witness, in
their several generations. So Isaiah, concerning God's peculiar
people, (and certainly the Heathens were in no better condition,)
" The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From
the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness;
but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores." The same
account is given by all the Apostles, yea, by the whole tenor
of the oracles of God. From all these we learn, concerning man
in his natural state, unassisted by the graceof God, that every
imagination of the thoughts of his heart is" still "evil, only
evil," and that." continually."
2. And this account of the present state of man is confirmed
by daily experience. It is true, the natural man discerns it
not: And this is not to be wondered at. So long as a man
born blind continues so, he is scarce sensible of his want:
Much less, could we suppose a place where all were born
without sight, would they be sensible of the want of it. In
like manner, so long as men remain in their natural blindness
of understanding, they are not sensible of th ir spiritual wants,
and of this in particular. But as soon as God opens-the eyes
of their understanding, they see the state they were in before;
they are then deeply convinced, that every man living," them-
selves especially, arc, by nature, altogether vanity ;" that is,
folly and ignorance, sin and wickedness.
3. We see, when God opens our eyes, that we were before
aEoi Ev Tr xoo-P--without God, or, rather, Atheists, in the
world. We had, by nature, no knowledge of God, no acquaintance
with him. It is true, as soon as we came to the use of reason,
we learned the invisible things of God, even his eternal power
and Godhead, from the things that are made." From the things
that are seen we inferred the existence of an eternal, powerful
Being, that is not seen. Put still, although we acknowledged
his being, we had no acquaintance with him. As we know
there is an Emperor of China, whom yet we do not know; so
we knew there was a King of all the earth, yet we knew him
not. Indeed we could not by any of our natural faculties
By none of these could we attain the knowledge of God. We
could no more perceive him by our natural understanding, than
we could see him with our eyes. For no one knoweth the
Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son willeth to reveal
him. And no one knoweth the Son but the Father, and he to
whom the Father revealeth him."
4. We read of an ancient king, who, being desirous to know
what was the natural language of men, in order to bring the
matter to a certain issue, made the following experiment: He
ordered two infants, as soon as they were born, to be conveyed
to a place prepared for them, where they were brought 'up
without any instruction at all, and without ever hearing a human
voice. And what was the event? Why, that when they were
at length brought out of their confinement, they spake no
language at all; they uttered only inarticulate sounds, like
those of other animals. Were two infants in like manner to be
brought up from the womb without being instructed in any
religion, there is little room to doult but (unless the grace
of God interposed) the event would be just the same. They
would have no religion at all: They would have no more
knowledge of God than the beasts of the field, than the wild
ass's colt.. Such is natural religion, abstracted from traditional,
and from the influences of God's Spirit
5. And having no knowledge, we can have no love of God:
We cannot love him we know not. Most men talk indeed
of loving God, and perhaps imagine they do; at least, few will
acknowledge they do not love him : But the fact is too plain
to be denied. No man loves God by nature, any more than he
does a stone, or the earth he treads upon. What we love
we delight in: But no man has naturally any delight in God.
In our natural state we cannot conceive how any one should
delight in him. We take no pleasure in him at all ; he is utterly
tasteless to us. To love God! it is far above, out of our
sight. We cannot, naturally, attain unto it.
6. We have by nature, not only no love, but no fear of God.
It is allowed, indeed, that most men have, sooner or later, a
kind of senseless, irrational fear, properly called superstition;
though the blundering Epicureans give it the name of religion.
Yet even this is not natural, but acquired ; chiefly by conversa-
tion or from example. By nature "God is not in all our
thoughts:" We leave him to manage his own affairs, to sit
quietly, as we imagine, in heaven, and leave us on earth to
manage ours; so that we have no more of the fear of God
before our eyes, than of the love of God in our hearts.
7. Thus are all men Atheists in the world." But Atheism
itself does not screen us from idolatry. In his natural state,
every mar born into the world is a rank idolater. Perhaps,
indeed, we may not be such in the vulgar sense of the word.
We do not, like the idolatrous Heathens, worship molten or
graven images. We do not bow down to the stock of a' tree,
to the work of our own hands. We do not pray to the angels
or saints in heaven, any more than to the saints that are upon
the earth. But what then? We have set up our idols in our
hearts; and to these we bow down and worship them: We
worship ourselves, when we pay that honour to ourselves which
is due to God only. Therefore all pride is idolatry; it is
ascribing to ourselves what is due to God alone. And although
pride was not made for man, yet where is the man that is born
without it ? But hereby we rob God of his unalienable right,
and idolatrously usurp his glory.
8. But pride is not the only sort of idolatry which we are all
by nature guilty of. Satan has stamped his own image on our
heart in self-will also. I will," said he, before he was cast out
of heaven, I will sit upon the sides of the north;" I will do
my own will and pleasure, independently on that of my Creator.
The same does every man born into the world say, and that
in a thousand instances; nay, and avow it too, without ever
blushing upon the account, without either fear or shame. Ask
the man, Why did you do this?" He answers, Because I
had a mind to it." What is this but, "Because it was my
will;" that is, in effect, because the devil and I are agreed;
because Satan and I govern our actions by one and the same
principle. The will of God, mean time, is not in his thoughts,
is not considered in the least degree; although it be the
supreme rule of every intelligent creature, whether in heaven
or earth, resulting from the essential, unalterable relation which
all creatures bear to their Creator.
9. So far we bear the image of the devil, and tread in his
steps. But at the next step we leave Satan behind; we run
into an idolatry whereof he is not guilty : I mean love of the
world ; which is now as natural to every man, as to love his own
will. What is more natural to us than to seek happiness in
the creature, instead of the Creator ?-to seek that satisfaction
in the works of his hands, which can be found in God only?
What more natural than the desire of the flesh ?" that is,
of the pleasure of sense in every kind? Men indeed talk
magnificently of despising these low pleasures, particularly
men of learning and education. They affect to sit loose to the
gratification of those appetites wherein they stand on a level
with the beasts that perish. But it is mere affectation ; for
every man is conscious to himself, that in this respect he is, by
nature, a very beast. Sensual appetites, even those of the
lowest kind, have, more or less, the dominion over him. They
lead him captive; they drag him to and fro, in spite of his
boasted reason. The man, with all his good breeding, and
other accomplishments, has no pre-eminence over the goat:
Nay, it is much to be doubted, whether the beast has not the
pre-eminence over him. Certainly he has, if we may hearken
to one of their modern oracles, who very decently tells us,
Once in a season beasts too taste of love;
Only the beast of reason is its slave,
And in that folly drudges all the year.
A considerable difference indeed, it must be allowed, there is
between man and man, arising (beside that wrought by pre-
venting grace) from difference of constitution and of education.
But, notwithstanding this, who, that is not utterly ignorant
of himself, can here cast the first stone at another? Who can
abide the test of our blessed Lord's comment on the Seventh
Commandment: He that looketh on a woman to lust after her
hath committed adultery with her already in his heart?" So
that one knows not which to wonder at most, the ignorance or
the insolence of those men who speak with such disdain of them
that are overcome by desires which every man has felt in his
own breast; the desire of every pleasure of sense, innocent or
not, being natural to every child of man.
10. And so is "the desire of the eye;" the desire of the
pleasures of the imagination. These arise either from great,
or beautiful, or uncommon objects;-if the two former do not
coincide with the latter; for perhaps it would appear, upon a
diligent inquiry, that neither grand nor beautiful objects please
any longer than they are new ; that when the novelty of them
is over, the greatest part, at least, of the pleasure they give is
over; and in the same proportion as they become familiar, they
become flat and insipid. But let us experience this ever so often,
the same desire will remain still. The inbred thirst continues
fixed in the soul; nay, the more it is indulged, the more it
increases, and incites us to follow after another, and yet another
object; although we leave every one with an abortiv- hope,
and a deluded expectation. Yea,
The hoary fool, who many days
Has struggled with continued sorrow,
Renews his hope, and fondly lays
The desperate bet upon to-morrow !
To-morrow comes 'Tis noon 'Tis night!
This day, like all the former, flies:
Yet on he goes, to seek delight
To-morrow, till to-night he dies !
11. A third symptom of this fatal disease, the love of the
world. which is so deeply rooted in our nature, is the pride
of life;" the desire of praise, of the honour that cometh of men.
This the greatest admirers of human nature allow to be strictly
natural; as natural as the sight, or hearing, or any other of the
external senses. And are they ashamed of it, even men
of letters, men of refined and improved understanding? So
far from it that they glory therein They applaud themselves
for their love of applause Yea, eminent Christians, so called,
make no difficulty of adopting the saying of the old, vain
Heathen, Animi dissoluti est et nequam nrgligere quid de se
homines sentiant: Not to regard what men think of us is
the mark of a wicked and abandoned mind." So that to go
c;lm and unmoved through honour and dishonour, through
evil report and good report, is with them a sign of one that is,
indeed, not fit to live: Away with such a fellow from the
earth !" But would one imagine that these men had ever heard
of Jesus Christ or his Apostles; or that they knew who it
was that said, How can ye believe who receive honour one
of another, and seek not the honour which cometh of Go.l
only ?" But if this be really so, if it be impossible to believe,.
and consequently to please God, so long as we receive or seek
honour one of another, and seek not the honour which cometh
of God only; then in what a condition are all mankind the
Christians as well as Heathens since they all seek honour
one of another since it is as natural for them so to do, them-
selves being the judges, as it is to see the light which strikes
upon their eye, or to hear the sound which enters their car;
yea, since they account it a sign of a virtuous mind, to seek
the praise of men, and of a vicious one, to be content with
the honour that cometh of God only !
III. 1. I proceed to draw a few inferences from what has
been said. And, First, from hence we may learn one grand
'fitndam'ntal difference between Christianity, considered as a
system of doctrines, and the most refined Heathenism. Many
of the ancient Heathens have largely described the vices of par-
ticular men. They have spoken much against their covetousness,
or cruelty; their luxury, or prodigality. Some have dared to say
that "no man is born without vices of one kind or another."
But still as none of them were apprized of the fall of man, so
none of them knew of his total corruption. They knew not
that all men were e:npty of all good, and filled with all manner
of evil. They were wholly ignorant of the entire depravation
of' the whole human nature, of every man born into the world,
in every faculty of his soul, not so much by those particular
vices which reign in particular persons, as by the general flood
of Atheism and idolatry, of pride, self-will, and love of the
world. This, therefore, is the first grand distinguishing point
between Heathenism and Christianity. The one acknowledges
that many men are infected with many vices, and even born
with a proneness to them ; but supposes withal, that in some
the natural good much over-balances the evil: The other
declares that all men are conceived in sin," and shape in
wickedness;"-that hence there is in every man a "'carnal
mind, which is enmity against God, which is not, cannot be,
subject to" his law;" and which so infects the whole soul,
that there dwelleth in" him, in his flesh," in his natural
state, no good thing ;" but every imagination of the thoughts
of his heart is evil." only evil, and that continually."
2. Hence we may, Secondly, learn, that all who deny this,
call it original sin, or by any other title, are Iut Heathens still,
in the fundamental point which differences Heathenism from
Christianity. They may, indeed, allow, that men have many
vices ; that some are born with us ; and that, consequently, we
are not born altogether so wise or so virtuous as we should be;
there being few that will roundly affirm, We are born with as
much propensity to good as to evil, and that every man is, ly
nature, as virtuous and wise as Adam was at his creation." But
here is the shibboleth : Is man by nature filled with all manner
of evil? Is he void of all good ? Is lie wholly fallen ? Is his
soul totally corrupted ? Or, to come back to the text, is "every
imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually ?"
Allow this, and you are so far a Christian. Deny it, and you
arc but an Heathen still.
3. We may learn from hence, in the Third place, what is the
proper nature of religion, of the religion of Jesus Christ. It is
O-parvtn i'yjXi, God's method of healing a soul which is thus
diseased. Hereby the great Physician of souls applies medicines
to heal this sickness; to restore human nature, totally corrupted
in all its faculties. God heals all our Atheism by the knowledge
of Himself, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent; by giving
.us faith, a divine evidence and conviction of God, and of the
things of God,-in particular, of this important truth, Christ
loved me, and gave himself for me." By repentance and lowli-
ness of heart, the deadly disease of pride is healed; that of self-
will by resignation, a meek and thankful submission to the will
of God; and for the love of the world in all its branches, the
love of God is the sovereign remedy. Now, this is properly
religion, faith" thus working by love;" working the
genuine meek humility, entire deadness to the world, with a
loving, thankful acquiescence in, and conformity to, the whole
will and word of God.
4. Indeed, if man were not thus fallen, there would be no
need of all this. There would be no occasion for this work in
the heart, this renewal in the spirit of our mind. The super-
fluity of godliness would then be a more proper expression than
th., superfluity of naughtiness." For an outside religion, with-
out any godliness at all, would suffice to all rational intents and
purposes. It does, accordingly, suffice, in the judgment of those
who deny this corruption of our nature. They make very little
more of religion than the famous Mr Hobbes did of reason.
According to him, reason is only a well-ordered train of words :"
According to them, religion is only a well-ordered train of words
and actions. And they speak consistently with themselves; for
if the inside he not full of wickedness, if this be clean already,
what remains, but to cleanse the outside of the cup ?" Outward
reformation, if their supposition be just, is indeed the one thing
5. But ye have not so learned the oracles of God. Ye know,
that He who seeth what is in man gives a far different account
both of nature and grace, of our fall and our recovery. Ye
know that the great end of religion is, to renew our hearts in
the image of God, to repair that total loss of righteousness and
true holiness which we sustained by the sin of our first parent.
Yc know that all religion which does not answer this end, all
THE NEW BIRTH. (5
that stops short of this, the renewal of our soul in the image
ef God, after the likeness of Him that created it, is no other than
a poor farce, and a mere mockery of God, to the destruction
of our own soul. O beware of all those teachers of lies, who would
palm this upon you for Christianity Regard them not, although
they should come unto you with all the deceivableness of unrigh-
teousness; with all smoothness of language, all decency, yea,
beauty and elegance of expression, all professions of earnest good,
will to you, and reverence for the Holy Scriptures. Keep to the
plain, old faith, once delivered to the saints," and delivered by
the Spirit of God to our hearts. Know your disease Know
your cure Ye were born in sin: Therefore, "ye must be
born again," born of God. By nature ye are wholly corrupted.
By grace ye shall be wholly renewed. In Adam ye all died:
In the second Adam, in Christ, ye all are made alive. You
that were dead in sins hath he quickened:" He hath already
given you a principle of life, even faith in him who loved you
and gave himself for you Now, "g? on from faith to faith,"
until your whole sickness be healed; and all that mind be in
you which was also in Christ Jesus!"
THE NEW BIRTH.
Ye must be born again." John iii. 7.
1. IF any doctrines within the whole compass of Christianity
may be properly termed fundamental, they are doubtless these
two,-the doctrine of justification, and that of the new birth :
The former relating to that great work which God does for us,
in forgiving our sins; the latter, to the great work which God
does in us, in renewing our fallen nature. In order of time,
neither of these is before the other; in the moment we are jus-
tified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in
Jesu:s, we are also born of. the Spirit ;" but in order of 'hinkl
ing, as it is termed, justification precedes the new birth. Ve
first conceive his wrath to be turned away, and then his Spirit
to work in our hearts.
2. How great importance then must it be of, to every child
of man, throughly to understand these fundamental doctrines!
From a full conviction of this, many excellent men have wrote
very largely concerning justification, explaining every point
relating thereto, and opening the Scriptures which treat upon it.
Many likewise have wrote on the new birth: And some of them
largely enough; but yet not so clearly as might have been
desired, nor so deeply and accurately; having either given a
dark, abstruse account of it, or a slight and superficial one.
Therefore a full, and at the same time a clear, account of the
new birth, seems to be wanting still; such as may enable us
to give a satisfactory answer to these three questions: First,
Why must we be born again ? What is the foundation of this
doctrine of the new birth ? Secondly, How must we he born
again ? What is the nature of the new birth? And, Thirdly,
Wherefore must we be born again ? To what end is it
necessary ? These questions, by the assistance of God, I shall
briefly and plainly answer; and then subjoin a few inferences
which will naturally follow.
I. 1. And, First, Why must we be born again ? What is the
foundation of this doctrine ? The foundation of it lies near as
deep as the creation of the world; in the scriptural account
whereof we read, And God," the three-one God, "said, Let
us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created
man in his own image, in the image of God created he him:"
(Gen. i. 26, 27:)-Not barely in his natural image, a picture
of his own immortality ; a spiritual being, endued with under-
standing, freedom of will, and various affections;-nor merely
in his political image, the governor of this lower world, having
dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over all the earth ;"
--but chiefly in his moral image; which, according to the
Apostle, is righteousness and true holiness." (Eph. iv. 24.)
In this image of God was man made. God is love:" Accord-
ingly, man at his creation was full of love; which was the sole
principle of all his tempers, thoughts, words, and actions. God
is full of justice, mercy, and truth ; so was man as he came from
the hands of his Creator. God is spotless purity; and so man
was in the beginning pure from every sinful blot; otherwise God
THE NEW BIRTH.
could not have pronounced him, as well as all the other work
of his hands, very good" (Gen. i. 31.) This he could not
have been, had he not been pure from sin, and filled with
righteousness and true holiness. For there is no medium:
If we suppose an intelligent creature not to love God, not to
be righteous and holy, we necessarily suppose him not to be
good at all; much less to be very good."
2. But, although man was made in the image of God, yet he
was not made immutable. This would have been inconsistent
with that state of trial in which God was pleased to place him.
He was therefore created able to stand, and yet liable to fall.
And this God himself apprized him of, and gave him a solemn
warning against it. Nevertheless, man did not abide in honour:
He fell from his high estate. He ate of the tree whereof the
Lord had commanded him, Thou shalt not eat thereof'" By
this wilful act of disobedience to his Creator, this flat rebellion
against his Sovereign, he openly declared that he would no
longer have God to rule over him; that he would be governed
by his own will, and not the will of Him that created him; and
that he would not seek his happiness in God, but in the world,
in the works of his hands. Now, God had told him before, In
the day that thou eatest" of that fruit, thou shalt surely die."
And the word of the Lord cannot be broken. Accordingly, in
that day he did die: He died to God,-the most dreadful of all
deaths. He lost the life of God: He was separated from Him,
in union with whom his spiritual life consisted. The body dies
when it is separated from the soul ; the soul, when it is separated
from God. But this separation from God, Adam sustained in
the day, the hour, he ate of the forbidden fruit. And of this
he gave immediate proof; presently showing by his behaviour,
that the love of God was extinguished in his soul, which was
now alienated from the life of (od." Instead of this, he
was now under the power of servile fear, so that he fled from
the presence of the Lord. Yea, so little did he retain even
of the knowledge of Him who filleth heaven and earth, that he
endeavoured to hide himself from the Lord God among the
trees of the garden:" (Gen. iii. 8:) So had he lost both the
knowledge and the love of God, without which the image of God
could not subsist. Of this, therefore, he was deprived at the
same time, and became unholy as well as unhappy. In the
room of this, he had sunk into pride and self-will, the very image
of the devil; and into sensual appetites and desires, the image
of the beasts that perish.
3. If it he said, Nay, hut that threatening, In the day
that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,' refers to tempo-
ral death, and that alone, to the death of the body only ;" the
answer is plain: To affirm this is flatly and palpably to make
God a liar; to aver that the God of truth positively affirmed a
thing contrary to truth. For it is evident, Adam did not die
in this sense, in the day that he ate thereof." He lived, in
the sense opposite to this death, above nine hundred years after.
So that this cannot possibly be understood of the death of the
body, without impeaching the veracity of God. It must there-
fore be understood of spiritual death, the loss of the life and
image of God.
4. And in Adam all died, all human kind, all the children
of men who were then in Adam's loins. The natural consequence
of this is, that every one descended from him comes into the
world spiritually dead, dead to God, wholly dead in sin entirely
void of the life of God; void of the image of God, of all that
righteousness and holiness wherein Adam was created. Instead
of this, every man born into the world now bears the image of
the devil in pride and self-will; the image of the beast, in sen-
sual appetites and desires. This, then, is the foundation of the
new birth,-the entire corruption of our nature. Hence it is,
that, being born in sin, we must be born again." Hence every
one that is born of a woman must be born of the Spirit of God.
II. 1. But how must a man be born again ? What is the
nature of the new birth ? This is the Second question. And
a question it is of the highest moment that can be conceived.
We ought not, therefore, in so weighty a concern, to be content
with a slight inquiry; but to examine it with all possible care,
and to ponder it in our hearts, till we fully understand this
important point, and clearly see how we are to be born again.
2. Not that we are to expect any minute, philosophical
account of the manner how this is done. Our Lord sufficiently
guards us against any such expectation, by the words immedi.
ately following the text; wherein lie reminds Nicodemus of as
indisputable a fact as any in the whole compass of nature,
which, notwithstanding, the wisest man under the sun is not
able fully to explain. The wind blowcth where it listeth,"--
not by. thy power or wisdom ; and thou hearest the sound
THIE NEW BIRTH. OU
thereof; "-thou art absolutely assured, beyond all doubt, that
it doth blow; but thou canst not tell whence it cometh, nor
whither it goeth ; "-the precise manner how it begins and ends,
rises and falls, no man can tell. So is every one that is born
of the Spirit:"--Thou mayest be as absolutely assured of the
fact, as of the blowing of the winil; but the precise manner how
it is done, how the Holy Spirit works this in the soul, neither
thou nor the wisest of the children of men is able to explain.
3. However, it suffices 'or every rational and Christian pur-
pose, that, without descending into curious, critical inquiries, we
can give a plain scriptural account of the nature of the new
birth. This will satisfy every reasonable man, who desires only
the salvation of his soul. The expression, being born again,"
was not first used by our Lord in his conversation with Nicode-
mus: It was well known before that time, and was in common
use among the Jews when our Saviour appeared among them.
When an adult Heathen was convinced that the Jewish religion
was of God, and desired to join therein, it was the custom to
baptize him first, before he was admitted to circumcision. And
when he was baptized, he was said to be born again; by which
they meant, that he who was before a child of the devil was
now adopted into the family of God, and accounted one of his
children. This expression, therefore, which Nicodemus, being
"a Teacher in Israel," ought to have understood well, our Lord
uses in conversing with him ; only in a stronger sense than he
was accu-tomed to. And this might be the reason of his asking,
" How can these things be ?" They cannot be literally:-A man
cannot "enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be
born :"-But they may spiritually: A man may be born from
above, born of God, born of the Spirit, in a manner which bears
a very near analogy to the natural birth.
4. Before a child is born into the world he has eyes, but sees
not; he has ears, but does not hear. He has a very imperfect
use of any other sense. He has no knowledge of any of the
things of the world, or any natural understanding. To that
manner of existence which he then has, we do not even give the
name of life. It is then only when a man is born, that we say
he begins to live. For as soon as he is born, he begins to see
the light, and the various objects with which he is encompassed.
His ears are then opened, and he hears the sounds which sue.
cessively strike upon them. At the same time, all the other
organs of sense begin to be exercised upon their proper objects.
lie likewise breathes, and lives in a manner wholly different
from what he did before. How exactly doth the parallel hold
in all these instances While a man is in a mere natural state,
before he is born of God, he has, in a spiritual sense, eyes and
sees not; a thick impenetrable veil lies upon them; he has
ears, but hears not; he is utterly deaf to what he is most of all
concerned to hear. His other spiritual senses are all locked up:
He is in the same condition as if lie had them not. Hence he
has no knowledge of God ; no intercourse with him ; he is not
at all acquainted with him. lHe has no true knowledge of the
things of God, either of spiritual or eternal things; therefore,
though he is a living man, he is a dead Christian. But as soon
as he is born of God, there is a total change in all these particu-
lars. The "eyes of his understanding are opened;" (such is
the language of the great Apostle;) and, He who of old "com-
manded light to shine out of darkness shining on his heart, he
sees the light of the glory of God," his glorious love, "in the
face of Jesus Christ." His ears being opened, he is now capable
of hearing the inward voice of God, saying, Be of good cheer;
thy sins are forgiven thee ;" "go and sin no more." This is
the purport of what God speaks to his heart; although perhaps
not in these very words. He is now ready to hear whatsoever
" He that teacheth man knowledge" is pleased, from time to
time, to reveal to him. He "feels in his heart," to use the
language of our Church, the mighty working of the Spirit
of God;" not in a gross, carnal sense, as the men of the world
stupidly and wilfully misunderstand the expression; though
they have been told again and again, we mean thereby neither
more nor less than this: He feels, is inwardly sensible of, the
graces which the Spirit of God works in his heart. He feels,
he is conscious of, a "peace which passeth all understanding."
He many times feels such a joy in God as is "unspeakable,
and full of glory." He feels the love of God shed abroad in
his heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto him ;" and al.
his spiritual senses are then exercised to discern spiritual good
and evil. By the use of these, he is daily increasing in the
knowledge of God, of Jesus Christ whom lie hath sen and
of all the things pertaining to his inward kingdom. And now
he may be properly said to live: God having quickened him by
Iis Spirit, he is alive to God through Jesus Christ. He lives a
THE NEW IRTH. 71
life which the world knoweth not of, a life which is hid with
Christ in God." God is continually breathing, as it were, upon
the soul; and his soul is breathing unto God. Grace is
descending into his heart; and prayer and praise ascending to
heaven: And by this intercourse between God and man, this
fellowship with the Father and the Son, as by a kind of spiritual
respiration, the life of God in the soul is sustained ; and the
child of God grows up, till he comes to the "full measure
of the stature of Christ."
5. From hence it manifestly appears, what is the nature
of the new birth. It is that great change which God works in
the soul when he brings it into life; when he raises it from the
death of sin to the life of righteousness. It is the change
wrought in the whole soul by the almighty Spirit of God when
it is "created anew in Christ Jesus;" when it is "renewed after
the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness;" when
the love of the world is changed into the love of God; pride
into humility; passion into meekness; hatred, envy, malice,
into a sincere, tender, disinterested love for all mankind. In a
word, it is that change whereby the earthly, sensual, devilish
mind is turned into the mind which was in Christ Jesus."
This is the nature of the new birth: So is every one that is
born of the Spirit."
III. 1. It is not difficult for any who has considered these
things, to see the necessity of the new birth, and to answer the
Third question, Wherefore, to what end, is it necessary that we
should be born again ? It is very easily discerned, that this
is necessary, First, in order to holiness. For what is holiness
according to the oracles of God ? Not a bare external religion,
a round of' outward duties, how many soever they be, and how
exactly soever performed. No: Gospel holiness is no less than
the image of God stamped upon the heart; it is no other than
the whole mind which was in Christ Jesus; it consists of all
heavenly affections and tempers mingled together in one. It
implies such a continual, thankful love to Him who hath not
withheld from us his Son, his only Son, as makes it natural,
and in a manner necessary to us, to love every child of man;
as fills us with bowels of mercies, kindness, gentleness, long-
suffering:" It is such a love of ( od as teaches us to be blame-
less in all manner of conversation ; as enables us to present our
souls and bodies, all we are and all we have, all our thoughts,
72 SERBMON XLV.
words, and actions, a continual sacrifice to God, acceptable
through Christ Jesus. Now, this holiness can have no existence
till we are renewed in the image of our mind. It cannot
commence in the soul till that change be wrought; till, by
the power of the Highest overshadowing us, we are "brought
from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God;"
that is, till we are born again; which, therefore, is absolutely
necessary in order to heliness.
2. But without holiness no man shall see the Lord," shall
see the face of God in glory. Of consequence, the new birth is
absolutely necessary in order to eternal salvation. Men may
indeed flatter themselves (so desperately wicked and so deceit-
ful is the heart of man !) that they may live in their sins till they
come to the last gasp, and yet afterwards live with God ; and
thousands do really believe, that they have found a broad way
which leadeth not to destruction. What dang r," say they,
" can a woman be in that is so harmless and so virtuous ?
What fear is there that so honest a man, one of so strict
morality, should miss of heaven; especially if, over and above
all this, they constantly attend on church and sacrament?"
One of these will ask with all assurance, What! shall not I do
as well as my neighbours ?" Yes, as well as your unholy neigh-
hours; as well as your neighbours that die in their sins For
you will all drop into the pit together, into the nethermost hell!
You will all lie together in the lake of fire; the lake of fire
burning with brimstone." Then, at length, you will see (butl
God grant you may see it before!) the necessity of holiness in
order to glory; and, consequently, of the new birth, since none
car be holy, except he be born again.
3. For the same reason, except he be born again, none can
be happy even in this world. For it is not possible, in the
nature of things, that a man should be happy who is not holy.
Even the poor, ungodly poet could tell us, Nemo malus felix :
"No wicked man is happy." The reason is plain: All unholy
tempers are, uneasy tempers : Not only malice, hatred, envy,
jealousy, revenge, create a present hell in the breast; but even
the softer passions, if not kept within due bounds, give a thou-
sand times more pain than pleasure. Even. hope," when
"deferred," (and how often must this be the case !) "maketh
the heart sick ;" and every desire which is not according to the
will of God is liable to "pierce" us "through with many sor-
THE NEW BIRTH.
rows:" And all those general sources of sin-pride, self-will, and
idolatry-are, in the same proportion as they prevail, general
sources of misery. Therefore, as long as these reign in any
soul, happiness has no place there But they must reign till
the bent of our nature is changed, that is, till we are born
again; consequently, the new birth is absolutely necessary in
order to happiness in this world, as well as in the world to come.
IV. I proposed in the Last place to subjoin a few inferences,
which naturally follow from the preceding observations.
1. And, First, it follows, that baptism is not the new birth:
They are not one and the same thing. Many indeed seem to
imagine that they are just the same; at least, they speak as if
they thought so ; but I do not know that this opinion is publicly
avowed by any denomination of Christians whatever. Certainly
it is not by any within these kingdoms, whether of the estab-
lished Church, or dissenting from it. The judgment of the lat-
ter is clearly declared in their large Catechism :*-Q. What
are the parts of a sacrament ? A. The parts of a sacrament are
two: The one an outward and sensible sign; the other, an
inward and spiritual grace, thereby signified.-Q. What is bap-
tism ? A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein Christ hath ordained
the washing with water, to be a sign and seal of regeneration by
his Spirit." Here it is manifest, baptism, the sign, is spoken
of as distinct from regeneration, the thing signified.
In the Church Catechism likewise, the judgment of our
Church is declared with the utmost clearness : What meanest
thou by this word, sacrament? A. I mean an outward and
visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Q. What is the
outward part or form in baptism ? A. Water, wherein the
person is baptized, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost. Q. What is the inward part, or thing signified ? A.
A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness."
Nothing, therefore, is plainer, than that, according to the Church
of England, baptism is not the new birth.
But indeed the reason of the thing is so clear and evident,
as not to need any other authority. For what can be more
plain, than that the one is an external, the other an internal,
work; that the one is a visible, the other an invisible thing,
and therefore wholly different from each other ?-the one being
* Q. 163, 165.
71 SERMON XLV
an act of man, purifying the body; the other a change wrought
by God in the soul: So that the former is just as distinguishable
from the latter, as the soul from the body, or water from the
2. From the preceding reflections we may, Secondly, observe,
that as the new birth is not the same thing with baptism, so
it does not always accompany baptism: They do not constantly
go together. A man may possibly be "born of water," and yet
not be "born of the Spirit." There may sometimes be the
outward sign, where there is not the inward grace. I do not
now speak with regard to infants: It is certain our Church
supposes that all who are baptized in their infancy are at the
same time born again ; and it is allowed that the whole Office for
the Baptism of Infants proceeds upon this supposition. Nor is it
an objection of any weight against this, that we cannot compre-
hend how this work can be wrought in infants. For neither can
we comprehend how it is wrought in a person of riper years.
But whatever be the case with infants, it is sure all of riper
years who are baptized are not at the same time born again.
" The tree is known by its fruits :" And hereby it appears too
plain to be denied, that divers of those who were children
of the devil before they were baptized continue the same after
baptism; for the works of their father they do:" They
continue servants of sin, without any pretence either to inward
or outward holiness.
3. A Third inference which we may draw from what has been
observed, is, that the new birth is not the same with sanctifica-
tion. This is indeed taken for granted by many; particularly
by an eminent writer, in his late treatise on The Nature and
Grounds of Christian Regeneration." To wave several other
weighty objections which might be made to that tract, this is a
palpable one: It all along speaks of regeneration as a progres-
sive work, carried on in the soul by slow degrees, from the time
of our first turning to God. This is undeniably true of sancti-
fication; but of regeneration, the new birth, it is not true. This
is a part of sanctification, not the whole it is the gate to.it,
the entrance into it. When we are born again, then our
sanctification, our inward and outward holiness, begins; and
thenceforward we are gradually to "grow up in Him who is
our Head." This expression of the Apostle admirably illustrates
the difference between one and the other, and farther points
THE NEW BIRTH. 75
out the exact analogy there is between natural and spiritual
things. A child is born of a woman in a moment, or at least in
a very short time: Afterward he gradually and slowly grows,
till he attains to the stature of a man. In like manner, a child
is born of God in a short time, if not in a moment. But it is
by slow degrees that he afterward grows up to the measure of
the full stature of Christ. The same relation, therefore, which
there is between our natural birth and our growth, there is also
between our new birth and our sanctification.
4. One point more we may learn from the preceding observa-
tions. But it is a point of so great importance, as may excuse
the considering it the more carefully, and prosecuting it at
some length. What must one who loves the souls of men, and
is grieved that any of them should perish, say to one whom he
sees living in sabbath-breaking, drunkenness, or any other wilful
sin ? What can he say, if the foregoing observations are true,
but, You must be born again ?" No," says a zealous man,
" that cannot be. Hlow can you talk so uncharitably to the
man? Has he not been baptized already ? He cannot be born
again now." Can he not be born again ? Do you affirm this?
Then he cannot be saved. Though he be as old as Nicodemus
was, yet except he be born again, he cannot see the kingdom
of God." Therefore in saying, He cannot be born again,"
you in effect deliver him over to damnation. And where lies
the uncharitableness now ?-on my side, or on yours? I say,
he may be born again, and so become an heir of salvation. You
say, He cannot be born again:" And if so, he must inevitably
perish So you utterly block up his way to salvation, and send
him to hell, out of mere charity !
But perhaps the sinner himself, to whom in real charity we
say, You must be born again," has been taught to say, I
defy your new doctrine; I need not be born again: I was
born again when I was baptized. What! would you have
me deny my baptism ?" I answer, First, There is nothing
under heaven which can excuse a lie; otherwise I should say
to an open sinner, If you have been baptized, do not own it.
For how highly does this aggravate your guilt How will it
increase your damnation Was you devoted to God at eight
days old, and have you been all these years devoting yourself to
the devil ? Was you, even before you had the use of reason,
consecrated to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ?
7( SERMON XIV.
And have you, ever since you had the use of it, been flying in
the face of God, and consecrating yourself to Satan? Does the
abomination of desolation-the love of the world, pride, anger,
Just, foolish desire, and a whole train of vile affections-stand
where it ought not ? Have you set up all these accursed things
in that soul which was once a temple of the Holy Ghost; set
apart for an habitation of God, through the Spirit;" yea,
solemnly given up to him? And do you glory in this, that
you orrce belonged to God ? be ashamed blush hide your-
self in the earth Never boast more of what ought to fill you
with confusion, to make you ashamed before God and man !
I answer, Secondly, You have already denied your baptism;
and that in the most effectual manner. You have denied it a
thousand and a thousand times; and you do so still, day by
day. For in your baptism you renounced the devil and all his
works. Whenever, therefore, you give place to him again,
whenever you do any of the works of the devil, then you deny
your baptism. Therefore you deny it by every wilful sin; by
every act of uncleanness, drunkenness, or revenge; by every
obscene or profane word; by every oath that comes out of your
mouth. Every time you profane the day of the Lord, you
thereby deny your baptism; yea, every time you do any thing
to another which you would not he should do to you. I
answer, Thirdly, Be you baptized or unbaptized, "you must
be born again ;" otherwise it is not possible you should be
inwardly holy ; and without inward as well as outward holiness,
you cannot be happy, even in this world, much less in the
world to come. Do you say, Nay, but I do no harm to any
man ; I am honest and just in all my dealings ; I do not curse,
or take the Lord's name in vain ; I do not profane the Lord's
day ; I am no drunkard; I do not slander my neighbour, nor
live in any wilful sin ?" If this be so, it were much to be wished
that all men went as far as you do. But you must go farther
yet, or you cannot be saved: Still, you must be born again."
Do you add, I do go farther yet; for I not only do no harm,
but do all the good I can ?" I doubt that fact; I fear you have
had a thousand opportunities of doing good which you have
suffered to pass by unimproved, and for which therefore you
are accountable to God. But if you had improved them all,
if you really had done all the good you possibly could to all
men, yet this does not at all alter the case; still, "you must
THE WILDERNESS STATE. 77
he born again." Without this nothing will do any good to your
poor, sinful, polluted soul. Nay, but I constantly attend all
the ordinances'of God: I keep to my church and sacrament."
It is well you do: But all this will not keep you from hell,
except you be born again. Go to church twice a day ; go to
the Lord's table every week; say ever so many prayers in
private; hear ever so many good sermons; read ever so many
good books; still, "you must be born again :" None of these
things will stand in the place of the new birth ; no, nor any
thing under heaven. Let this therefore, if you have not already
experienced this inward work of God, be your continual prayer:
" Lord, add this to all thy blessings,-let me be born again !
Deny whatever thou pleasest, but deny not this; let me be
'born from above!' Take away whatsoever seemeth thee
good,-reputation, fortune, friends, health,-only give me this,
to be born of the Spirit, to be received among the children
of God! Let me be born, 'not of corruptible seed, but
incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth
for ever;' and then let me daily 'grow in grace, and in the
knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!'"
THE WILDERNESS STATE.
"IYe now have sorrow : But I will see you again, and your
heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from
you." John xvi. 22.
1. ArrFTE: God had wrought a great deliverance for Israel,
by bringing them out of the house of bondage, they did not
immediately enter into the land which he had promised to their
fathers; but "wandered out of the way in the wilderness," and
were variously tempted and distressed. 'In like manner, after
God has delivered them that fear him from the bondage of sin
and Satan ; after they are "justified freely by his grace, through
the redemption that is in Jesus," yet not many of them immedi-
78' SERMON XLVI.
ately enter into "the rest which remaineth for the people
of God." The greater part of them wander, more or less, out
of the good way into which he hath brought them. They come,
as it were, into a waste and howling desert," where they are
variously tempted and tormented: And this, some, in allusion
to the case of the Israelites, have termed, "a wilderness state."
2. Certain it is, that the condition wherein these are has a
right to the tenderest compassion. They labour under an evil
and sore disease; though one that is not commonly understood;
and for this very reason it is the more difficult for them to
find a remedy. Being in darkness themselves, they cannot be
supposed to understand the nature of their own disorder; and
few of their brethren, nay, perhaps, of their teachers, know
either what their sickness is, or how to heal it. So much the
more need there is to inquire, First, What is the nature of this
disease? Secondly, What is the cause? and, Thirdly, What
is the cure of it ?
1. 1. And, First, what is the nature of this disease, into which
so many full after they have believed? Wherein does it pro-
perly consist; and what are the genuine symptoms of it ? It
properly consists in the loss of that faith which God once
wrought in their heart. They that are in the wilderness, have
not now that divine "evidence," that satisfactory conviction,
" of things not seen," which they once enjoyed. They have
not now that inward demonstration of the Spirit which before
enabled each of them to say, The life I live, I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
The light of heaven does not now "shine in their hearts,"
neither do they "see him that is invisible;" but darkness is
again on the face of their souls, and blindness on the eyes
of their understanding. The Spirit no longer witnesses with
their spirits, that they are the children of God;" neither does
he continue as the Spirit of adoption, "crying" in their hearts,
"Abba, Father." They have hot now a sure trust in his
love, and a liberty of approaching him with holy boldness.
" Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him," is no more the
language of their heart; but they are shorn of their strength,
and become weak and feeble-minded, even as other men.
2. Hence, Secondly, proceeds the loss of love; which cannot
but rise or fall, at the same time, and in the same proportion,
with true, living faith. Accordingly, they that are depilved
THE WILDERNESS STATE.
of their faith, are deprived of the love of God also. They cannot
now say, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I
love thee." They are not now happy in God, as every one is
that truly loves him. They do not delight in him as in time
past, and smell the odour of his ointments." Once, all their
" desire was unto him, and to the remembrance of his name:"
but now even their desires are cold and dead, if not utterly
extinguished. And as their love of God is waxed cold, so is
also their love of their neighbour. They have not now that
zeal for the souls of men, that longing after their welfare, that
fervent, restless, active desire of their being reconciled to God.
They do not feel those bowels of mercies" for the sheep that
are lost,-that tender compassion for the ignorant, and them
that are out of the way." Once they were gentle toward
all men," meekly instructing such as opposed the truth; and,
"if any was overtaken in a fault, restoring such an one in the
spirit of meekness:" But, after a suspense, perhaps, of many
days, anger begins to regain its power; yea, peevishness and
impatience thrust sore at them that they may fall; and it is
well if they are not sometimes driven, even to "render evil for
evil, and railing for railing."
3. In consequence of the loss of faith and love, follows,
Thirdly, loss of joy in the Holy Ghost. For if the loving con-
sciousness of pardon be no more, the joy resulting therefrom
cannot remain. If the Spirit does not witness with our spirit
that we are the children of God, the joy that flowed from the
inward witness must also be at an end. And, in like manner,
they who once "rejoiced with joy unspeakable," "in hope of the
glory of God," now they are deprived of that hope full of
immortality," are deprived of the joy it occasioned; as also of
that which resulted from a consciousness of the love of God,"
then shed abroad in their hearts." For the cause being
removed, so is the effect: The fountain being dammed up,
those living waters spring no more to refresh the thirsty soul.
4. With loss of faith, and love, and joy, there is also joined,
Fourthly, the loss of that peace which once passed all under-
standing. That sweet tranquillity of mind, that composure of
spirit, is gone. Painful doubt returns; doubt, whether we ever
did, and perhaps whether we ever shall, believe. We begin to
doubt, whether we ever did find in our hearts the real testimony
of the Spirit; whether we did not rather deceive our own souls,
and mistake the voice of nature for the voice of God ; nay, and
perhaps, whether we shall ever hear his voice, and find favour
11 his sight. And these doubts are again joined with servile
tar, with that fear which hath torment. We fear the wrath
Pf God, even as before we believed : We fear, lest we should
be cast out of his presence; and thence sink again into that feat
of death, from which we were before wholly delivered.
:5. But even this is not all; for loss of peace is accompanied
with loss of power. We know every one who has peace with
God, through Jesus Christ, has power over all sin. But when-
ever he loses the peace of God, he loses also the power over sin.
While that peace remained, power also remained, even over the
besetting sin, whether it were the sin of his nature, of his con-
stitution, of his education, or his profession; yea, and over those
evil tempers and desires which, till then, he could not conquer
Sin had then no more dominion over him ; but he hath now no
more dominion over sin. He may struggle, indeed, but he can-
not overcome; the crown is fallen from his head. His enemies
again prevail over him, and, more or less, bring him into bond-
age. The glory is departed from him, even the kingdom of God
which was in his heart. He is dispossessed of righteousness, as
well as of peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
II. 1. Such is the nature of what many have termed, and not
improperly, The wilderness state." But the nature of it may
be more fully understood by inquiring, Secondly, What are the
causes of it? These indeed are various. But I dare not
rank among these the bare, arbitrary, sovereign will of God.
He rejoiceth in the prosperity of his servants: He delighteth
not to afflict or grieve the children of men." His invariable will
is our sanctification, attended with "peace and joy in the Holy
Ghost." These are his own free gifts; and we are assured
4' the gifts of God are," on his part, without repentance." He
never repenteth of what he hath given, or desires to withdraw
them from us. Therefore he never deserts us, as some speak;
it is we only that desert him.
(I.) 2. The most usual cause of inward darkness is sin,
of one kind or another. This it is which generally occasions
what is often a complication of sin and misery. And, First, sin
of commission. This may frequently be observed to darken the
soul in a moment; especially if it be a known, a wilful, or pre-
sumptuous sin., If, for instance, a person, who is now walking
TILE, VW[1.DEI N\ESS STATE.
ir, the clear light of God's countenance, should be any way pre-
vailed on to commit a single act of drunkenness, or uncleanness,
it would be no wonder, if, in that very hour, he fell into utter
darkness. It is true, there have been some very rare cases,
wherein God has prevented this, by an extraordinary display
of his pardoning mercy, almost in the very instant. But in
general, such an abuse of the goodness of God, so gross an
insult on his love, occasions an immediate estrangement from
God, and a darkness that may be felt."
3. But it may be hoped this case is not very frequent; that
there are not many who so despise the riches of his goodness as,
while they walk in his light, so grossly and presumptuously to
rebel against him. That light is much more frequently lost by
giving way to sins of omission. This, indeed, does not immedi-
ately quench the Spirit, but gradually and slowly. The former
may le compared to pouring water upon a fire; the latter to
withdrawing the fuel from it. And many times will that loving
Spirit reprove our neglect, before he departs from us. Many
are the inward checks, the secret notices, he gives, before his
influences are withdrawn. So that only a train of omissions,
wilfully persisted in, can bring us into utter darkness.
4. Perhaps no sin of omission more frequently occasions this
than the neglect of private prayer; the want whereof cannot
be supplied by any other ordinance whatever. Nothing can
be more plain, than that the life of God in the soul does not
continue, much less increase, unless we use all opportunities
of communion with God, and pouring out our hearts before him.
If, therefore, we are negligent of this, if we suffer business,
company, or any avocation whatever, to prevent these secret
exercises of the soul, (or, which comes to the same thing, to
make us hurry them over in a slight and careless manner,) that
life will surely decay. And if' we long or frequently intermit
them, it will gradually die away.
5. Another sin of omission, which frequently brings the
soul of a believer into darkness, is the neglect of what was so
strongly enjoined, even under the Jewish dispensation : Thou
shalt, in anywise, rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin
upon him: Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart."
Now, if we do hate our brother in our heart, if we do not
rebuke him when we see him in a fault, but suffer sin upon
him, this will soon bring leanness into our own soul ; seeing
hereby we are partakers of his sin. By neglecting to reprove
our neighbour, we make his sin our own : We become account-
able for it to God : We saw his danger, and gave him no warn-
ing: So, if he perish in his iniquity," God may justly require
" his blood at our hands." No wonder then, if by thus grieving
the Spirit, we lose the light of his countenance.
6. A Third cause of our losing this is, the giving way to some
kind of inward sin. For example: We know, every one that
is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord ;" and that,
although this pride of heart should not appear in the outward
conversation. Now, how easily may a soul filled with peace
and joy fall into this snare of the devil! How natural is it
for him to imagine that he has more grace, more wisdom or
strength, than he really has to think more highly of him-
self than he ought to think !" How natural to glory in some-
thing he has received, as if he had not received it But seeing
God continually resisteth the proud, and giveth grace" only
" to the humble," this must certainly obscure, if not wholly
destroy, the light which before shone on his heart.
7. The same effect may be produced by giving place to
anger, whatever the provocation or occ'ision be ; yea, though
it were coloured over with the name of zeal for the truth, or
fbr the glory of God. Indeed, all zeal, which is any other than
the flame of love, is "earthly, animal, and devilish." It is the
flame of wrath : It is flat, sinful anger, neither better.nor worse.
And nothing is a greater enemy to the mild, gentle love of God
than this: They never did, they never can, subsist together in
one breast. In the same proportion as this prevails, love and
joy in the Holy Ghost decrease. This is particularly observable
in the case of offnece ; I mean, anger at any of our brethren, at
any of those who are united with us either by civil or religious
ties. If we give way to the spirit of offence but one hour, we
lose the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit; so that, instead
of amending them, we destroy ourselves, and become an easy
prey to any enemy that assaults us.
8. But suppose we are aware of this snare of the devil, we
*may be attacked from another quarter. When fierceness and
ringer are asleep, and love alone is waking, we may be no less
endangered by desire, which equally tends to darken the soul.
This is the sure effect of any foolish desire, any vain or inordi-
nate affection. If we set our affection on things of the earth,
TiHE; WIT.DEILNESS STATE.
on any person or thing under the sun ; if we desire anything
hut God, and what tends to God; if we seek happiness in any
creature; the jealous God will surely contend with us, for he
can admit of no rival. And if we will not hear his warning
voice, and return unto him with our whole sou!, if we continue
to grieve him with our idols, and running after other gods, we
shall soon be cold, barren, and dry; and the god of this world
will blind and darken our hearts.
9. But this he frequently does, even when we do not give way
to any positive sin. It is enough, it gives him sufficient advan-
tage, if we do not "stir up the gift of God which is in us;"
if we do not agonize continually to enter in at th. strait gate;"
if we do not earnestly "strive for the mastery," and "take the
kingdom of heaven by violence." There needs no more than
not to fight, and we are sure to be conquered. Let us only be
careless or "faint in our mind," let us be easy and indolent, and
our natural darkness will soon return, and overspread our soul.
It is enough, therefore, if we give way to spiritual sloth; this
will effectually darken the soul: It will as surely destroy the
light of God, if not so swiftly, as murder or adultery.
10. But it is well to be observed, that the cause of our
darkness (whatsoever it be, whether omission or commission,
whether inward- or outward sin) is not always nigh at hand.
Sometimes the sin which occasioned the present distress may lie
at a considerable distance. It might be committed days, or
weeks, or.months before. And that God now withdraws his
light and peace on account of what was (lone so long ago is not
(as one might at first imagine) an instance of his severity, but
rather a proof of his longsuffering and tender mercy. He waited
all this time, if haply we would see. acknowledge, and correct
what was amiss ; and, in default of this, he at length shows his
displeasure, if thus, at last, he may bring us to repentance.
(II.) 1. Another general cause of ih s darkness is i'no-
rLe; which is likewise of various kinds. If men know not
the Scriptures, if they imagine there are passages either in the
Old or New Testament which assert, that all believers, without
exception must sometimes be in darkness; this ignorance will
naturally bring upon them the darkness which they expect.
And how common a case has this been among us! How few
are there that do not expect it And no wonder, seeing they
are taught to expect it; seeing their guides lead them into this
way. Not only the Mystic writers of the Romish Church, but
many of the most spiritual and experimental in our own, (very
few of the last century excepted,) lay it down with all assurance,
as a plain, unquestionable scripture doctrine, and cite many
texts to prove it.
2. Ignorance also of the work cf God in the soul frequently
occasions this darkness. Men imagine (because so they have
been taught, particularly by writers of the Romish communion,
whose plausible assertions too many Protestants have received
without due examination) that they are not always to walk in
luminous faith ; that this is only a lower dispensation ; that as
they rise higher, they are to leave those sensible conmforts, and
to live by naked faith ; (naked indeed, if it be stripped both
of love, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost !) that a state
of light and joy is good, but a state of darkness and dryness is
better; that it is by these alone we can be purified from pride,
love of the world, and inordinate self-love; and that, therefore,
we ought neither to expect nor desire to walk in the light always.
Hence it is, (though other reasons may concur.) that the main
body of pious men in the Romish Church generally walk in a
dark uncomfortable way, and if ever they receive soon lose the
light of God.
(III.) 1. A Third general cause of this darkness is tempta-
tion. When the candle of the Lord first shines on our head,
temptation frequently flees away, and totally disappears. All is
calm within ; perhaps without too, while God makes our enemies
to be at peace with us. It is then very natural to suppose that
we shall not see war any more. And there are instances wherein
this calm has continued, not only for weeks, but for months or
years. But commonly it is otherwise: In a short time the
winds blow, the rains descend, and the floods arise" anew.
They who know not either the Son or the Father, and conse-
quently hate his children, when God slackens the bridle which
is in their teeth, will show that hatred in various instances. As
of old, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that
was born after the Spirit, even so it is now ;" the same cause
still producing the same effect. The evil which yet remains in
the heart will then also move afresh ; anger, and many other
roots of bitterness, will endeavour to spring up. At the same
time, Satan will not be wanting to cast in his fiery darts ; and
the soul will have to wrestle, not only with the world, not only
THE WILDERNESS STATE.
" with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, with
the rulers of the darkness of this world, with wicked spirits in
high places." Now, when so various assaults are made at once,
and perhaps with the utmost violence, it is not strange if it
should occasion, not only heaviness, but even darkness, in a
weak believer,-more especially, if he was not watching;
if these assaults are made in an hour when he looked not
fbr them; if he expected nothing less, but had fondly told
himself,-the day of evil would return no more.
2. The force of those temptations which arise from within
will be exceedingly heightened if we before thought too highly
of ourselves, as if we had been cleansed from all sin. And how
naturally do we imagine this during the warmth of our first
love How ready are we to believe that God has "fulfilled
in us the" whole "work of faith with power!" that because
we feel no sin, we have none in us; but the soul is all love !
And well may a sharp attack from an enemy whom we sup-
posed to be not only conquered but slain, throw as into much
heaviness of soul; yea, sometimes, into utter darkness: Parti-
cularly when we reason with this enemy, instead of instantly
calling upon God, and casting ourselves upon Him, by simple
faith, who "alone knoweth to deliver" his "out of temptation."
III. These are the usual causes of this second darkness.
Inquire we, Thirdly, What is the cure of it ?
1. To suppose that this is one and the same in all cases is
a great and fatal mistake; and yet extremely common, even
among many who pass for experienced Christians, yea, perhaps
take upon them to be teachers in Israel, to be the guides of
other souls. Accordingly, they know and use but one medicine,
whatever be the cause of the distemper. They begin immedi-
ately to apply the promises; to preach the gospel, as they call
it. To give comfort, is the single point at which they aim ; in
order to which they say many soft and tender things, concerning
the love of God to poor, helpless sinners, and the efficacy of the
blood of Christ. Now this is quackery indeed, and that of the
worst sort, as it tends, if not to kill men's bodies, yet, without
the peculiar mercy of God, to destroy both their bodies and
souls in hell." It is hard to speak of these daubers with
untempered mortar," these promise-mongers, as they deserve.
They well deserve the title, which has been ignorantly given to
others: They are spiritual mountebanks. They do, in eflfct,
make the blood of the covenant an unholy thing." They vilely
prostitute the promises of God, by thus applying them to all
without distinction. Whereas, indeed, the cure of spiritual, as
of bodily diseases, must be as various as are the causes of them.
The first thing; therefore, is, to find out the cause; and this will
naturally point out the cure.
2. For instance: Is it sin which occasions darkness? What
sin? Is it outward sin of any kind? Does your conscience
accuse you of committing any sin, whereby you grieve the Holy
Spirit of God ? Is it on this account that he is departed from
you, and that joy and peace are departed with him ? And how
can you expect they should return, till you put away the accursed
thing? "Let the wicked forsake his way;" "cleanse your
hands, ye sinners;" "put away the evil of your doings ;" so
'shall your "light break out of obscurity;" the Lord will return
and abundantly pardon."
3. If, upon the closest search, you can find no sin of com-
mission which causes the cloud upon your soul, inquire next,
if there be not some sin of omis-ion which separates between
God and you. Do you "not suffer sin upon your brother?"
Do you reprove them that sin in your sight ?. Do you walk in
all the ordinances of God ? in public, family, private prayer?
If not, if you habitually neglect any one of these known duties,
how can you expect that the light of his countenance should
continue to shine upon you? Make haste to strengthen the
things that remain;" then your soul shall live. To-day,
if ye will hear his voice," by his grace supply what is lacking.
When you hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way,
walk thou in it," harden not your heart; be no more disobe-
dient to the heavenly calling." Till the sin, whether of omission
or commission, be removed, all comfort is false and deceitful.
It is only skinning the wound over, which still festers and rankles
beneath. Look for no peace within, till you are at peace with
God ; which cannot be without "fruits meet for repentance."
4. But perhaps you are not conscious of even any sin of
omission which impairs your peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Is there not, then, some inward sin, which, as a root of bitterness,
springs up in your heart to trouble you ? Is not your dryness,
and barrenness of soul, occasioned by your heart's "departing
from the living God ?" Has not the foot of pride come against"
you ? Have you not thought of yourself more highly than you
TH1E1 WILDERNESS STATE.
ought to think ?" Have you not, in any respect, "sacrificed to
your own net, and burned incense to your own drag ?" Have
you not ascribed your success in any undertaking to your own
courage, or strength, or wisdom ? Have you not boasted of
something "you have received, as though you had not received
it ?" Have you not gloried in anything, save in the cross of
our Lord .Jesus Christ ?" Have you not sought after or desired
the praise of men ? Have you not taken pleasure in it ? If so,
you see the way you are to take. If you have fallen by pride.
" humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and he will
exalt you in due time." Have not you forced him to depart
from you, by giving place to anger? Have not you fretted
yourself because of the ungodly," or been envious against the
evil-doers ?" Have you not been offended at any of your bre-
thren, looking at their (real or imagined) sin, so as to sin your-
self against the great law of love, by estranging your heart from
them ? Then look unto the Lord, that you may renew your
strength; that all this sharpness and coldness may be done
away; that love, and peace, and joy may return together, and
you may be invariably kind to eaca other, and tender-hearted,
forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath for-
given you." Have not you given way to any foolish desire?
to any kind or degree of inordinate affection ? How then can
the love of God have p'ace in your heart, till you put away
your idols? Be not deceived: God is not mocked :" He will
not dwell in a divided heart. As long, therefore, as you cherish
Delilah in your bosom, he has no place there. It is vain to
hope for a recovery of his light, till you pluck out the right eye,
and cast it from you. 0 let there le no longer delay Cry
to Him, that he may enable you so to do Bewail your own
impotence and helplessness ; and, the Lord being your helper,
enter in at the strait gate: take the kingdom of heaven by
violence! Cast out every idol from his sanctuary, and the
glory of the Lord shall soon appear.
5. Perhaps it is this very thing, the want of striving, spiritual
sloth, which keeps your soul in darkness. You dwell at ease in
the land; there is no war in your coasts ; and so you are quiet
and unconcerned. You go on in the same even track of cut-
ward duties, and are content there to abide. And do youi
wonder, meantime, that your soul is dead ? ( stir yourself up
before the Lord! Arise, and shake yourself from the dust;
wrestle with God for the mighty blessing; pour out your soul
unto God in prayer, and continue therein with all perseverance!
Watch Awake out of sleep; and keep awake !-oth.erwise
there is nothing to be expected, but that you will be alienated
more and more from the light and life of God.
6. If, upon the fullest and most impartial examination of
yourself, you cannot discern that you at present give way'
either to spiritual sloth, or any other inward or outward sin,
then call to mind the time that is past. Consider your former
tempers, words, and actions. Have these been right before the
Lord ? Commune with him in your chamber, and be still;"
and desire of him to try the ground of your heart, and bring to
your remembrance whatever has at any time offended the eyes
of his glory. If the guilt of any unrepented sin remain on
your soul, it cannot be but you will remain in darkness, till,
having been renewed by repentance, you are again washed by
faith in the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness."
7. Entirely different will be the manner of the cure, if the
cause of the disease be not sin, but ignorance. It may be,
ignorance of the meaning of Scripture; perhaps occasioned by
ignorant commentators; ignorant, at least, in this respect, how-
ever knowing and learned they may be in other particulars.
And, in this case, that ignorance must be removed before we
can remove the darkness arising from it. We must show the
true meaning of those texts which have been misunderstood.
My design does not permit me to consider all the passages of
Scripture which have been pressed into this service. I shall just
mention two or three, which are frequently brought to prove.
that all believers must, sooner or later, walk in darkness."
8. One of these is Isaiah 1. 10: Who is among you that
feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that
walketh in darkness, and hath no light ? Let him trust in the
name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." But how does
it appear, either from the text or context, that the person
here spoken of ever had light? One who is convinced of sin,
feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his servant."
And him we should advise, though he was still dark of soul,
and had never seen the light of God's countenance, yet to trust
in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." This text,
therefore, proves nothing less than that a believer in Christ
Must sometimes walk in darkness."
THE WILDEEItESh STATE. 01)
9. Another text which has been supposed to speak the same
doctrine, is Hosea ii. 14: I will allure her, and bring her
into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." Hence it
has been inferred, that God will bring every believer into the
wilderness, into a state of deadness and darkness. But it is
certain the text speaks no such thing ; for it does not appear
that it speaks of particular believers at all: It manifestly refers
to the Jewish nation; and, perhaps, to that only. But if it
be applicable to particular persons, the plain meaning of it
is this :-I will draw him by love; I will next convince him
of sin ; and then comfort him by my pardoning mercy.
10. A third scripture, from whence the same inference has
been drawn, is that above recited, Ye now have sorrow: But
I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy
no man taketh from you." This has been supposed to imply,
that God would, after a time, withdraw himself from all believers;
and that they could not, till after they had thus sorrowed, have
the joy which no man could take from them. But the whole
context shows, that our Lord is here speaking personally to
the Apostles, and no others; and that he is speaking concerning
those particular events, his own death and resurrection. A
little while," says he, and ye shall not see me," viz., whilst I
am in the grave: And again, a little while, and ye shall see
me;" when I am risen from the dead. Ye will weep and
lament, and the world will rejoice: But your sorrow shall be
turned into joy."-" Ye now have sorrow," because I am about
to be taken from your head; "but I will see you again," after
my resurrection, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy,"
which I will then give you, "no man taketh from you." All
this we know was literally fulfilled in the particular case of the
Apostles. But no inference can be drawn from hence with
regard to God's dealings with believers in general.
11. A fourth text, (to mention no more,) which has been
frequently cited in proof of the same doctrine, is 1 Peter iv. 12:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which
is to try you." But this is full as foreign to the point as the
preceding. The text, literally rendered, runs thus: Beloved,
wonder not at the burning which is among you, which is for
your trial." Now, however this may be accommodated to inward
.trials, in a secondary sense; yet, primarily, it doubtless refers
to martyrdom, and the sufferings connected with it. Neither,
SERMON XI, I.
therefore, is this text any thing at all to the purpose for which
it is cited. And we may challenge all men to bring one text,
either from the Old or New Testament, which is any more to
the purpose than this.
12. "But is not darkness much more profitable for the soul
than light ? Is not the work of God in the heart most swiftly
and effectually carried on during a state of inward suffering ?
Is not a believer more swiftly and throughly purified by sorrow,
than by joy ?-by anguish, and pain, and distress, and spiritual
martyrdoms, than by continual peace ?" So the Mystics teach;
so it is written in their books; but not in the oracles of God.
The Scripture nowhere says, that the absence of God best per-
fects his work in the heart Rather, his presence, and a clear
communion with the Father and the Son : A strong conscious-
ness of this will do more in an hour, than his absence in an age.
Joy in the Holy Ghost will far more effectually purify the soul,
than the want of that joy; and the peace of God is the best
means of refining the soul from the dross of earthly affections.
Away then with the idle conceit, that the kingdom of God is
divided against itself; that the peace of God, and joy in the
Holy Ghost, are obstructive of righteousness; and that we
are saved, not by faith, but by unbelief; not by hope, but by
13. So long as men dream thus, they may well "walk in
darkness :" Nor can the effect cease, till the cause is removed.
But yet we must not imagine it will immediately cease, even
when the cause is no more. When either ignorance or sin has
caused darkness, one or the other may be removed, and yet the
light which was obstructed thereby may not immediately return.
As it is the free gift of God, he may restore it, sooner or later,
as it pleases him. In the case of sin, we cannot reasonably
expect that it should immediately return. The sin began before
the punishment, which may, therefore, justly remain after the
sin is at an end. And even in the natural course of things,
though a wound cannot be healed while the dart is sticking in
the flesh ; yet neither is it healed as soon as that is drawn out,
but soreness and pain may remain long after.
14. Lastly. If darkness be occasioned by manifold and heavy
and unexpected temptations, the best way of removing and pre-
venting this is, to teach believers always to expect temptation,
seeing they dwell in an evil world, among wicked, subtle, mali-
, HEAV:NESS THROUGH TEMPTATIONS.
cious spirits, and have an heart capable of all evil. Convince
them that the whole work of sanctifichtion is not, as they
imagined, wrought at once; that when they first believe they
are but as new-born babes, who are gradually to grow up, and
may expect many storms before they come to the full stature
of Christ. Above all, let them be instructed, when the storm
is upon them, not to reason with the devil, but to pray ; to
pour out their souls before God, and show him of their trouble.
And these are the persons unto whom, chiefly, we are to apply
the great and precious promises; not to the ignorant, till the
ignorance is removed, much less to the impenitent sinner. To
these we may largely and affectionately declare the loving,
kindness of God our Saviour, and expatiate upon his tender
mercies which have been ever of old. Here we may dwell upon
the faithfulness of God, whose word is tried to the uttermost ;"
and upon the virtue of that blood which was shed for us, to
" cleanse us from all sin :" And God will then bear witness to
his word, and bring their souls out of trouble. He will say,
" Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord
is risen upon thee." Yea, and that light, if thou walk humbly
and closely with God, will shine more and more unto the
HEAVINESS THROUGH MANIFOLD TEMPTA-
SVow for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through
manifold temptations." 1 Peter i. 6.
'. Ix the preceding discourse I have particularly spoken-
of that darkness of mind into which those are often observed
to fall who once walked in the light of God's countenance.
Nearly related to this is the hea iness of soul which is still
more common, even among believers. Indeed, almost all the
children of God experience this, in an higher or lower degree.