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Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life by John Brown (of Wamphray)

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* * * * *

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man
cometh unto the Father, but by me."--JOHN XIV. 6.

* * * * *


* * * * *


The Author to the Reader



Introduction, with some general observations from the cohesion.


Of the words themselves in general.


How Christ is the Way in general. "I am the Way."


How Christ is made use of for Justification as a Way.


How Christ is to be made use of, as the Way, for sanctification in


How Christ is to be made use of, in reference to the killing and
crucifying of the Old Man.


How Christ is to be made use of, in reference to growing in grace.


How to make use of Christ for taking the guilt of our daily
out-breakings away.


How to make use of Christ for cleansing of us from out daily spots.


Some generals proposed.


More particularly in what respect Christ is called the Truth.


Some general uses from this useful truth, that Christ is the Truth.


How to make use of Christ as the Truth, for growth in knowledge.


How to make use of Christ, as Truth, for comfort, when truth is
oppressed and borne down.


How to make use of Christ for steadfastness, in a time when truth is
oppressed and borne down.


How to make use of Christ as the Truth, when error prevaileth, and the
spirit of error carrieth many away.


How to make use of Christ as the Truth, that we may get our case and
condition cleared up to us.


How we shall make use of Christ as the Truth, that we may win to right
and suitable thoughts of God.


"And the Life." How Christ is the Life.


Some general uses.


How to make use of Christ as the Life, when the believer is so sitten-up
in the ways of God, that he can do nothing.


How Christ is to be made use of as our Life, in case of heartlessness
and fainting through discouragements.


How to make use of Christ as the Life, when the soul is dead as to duty.


How shall the soul make use of Christ, as the Life, which is under the
prevailing power of unbelief and infidelity.


How Christ is made use of as the Life, by one that is so dead and
senseless, as he cannot know what to judge of himself, or his own case,
except what is naught.


How is Christ, as the Life, to be applied by a soul that misseth God's
favour and countenance.


How shall one make use of Christ as the Life, when wrestling with an
angry God because of sin?


No man cometh to the Father but by me.


How should we make use of Christ, in going to the Father, in prayer, and
other acts of worship?


* * * * *



Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the
building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord;
as it ought to be the principal concern of all who have not sitten down
on this side of Jordan to satisfy their souls (once created for, and in
their own nature requiring, in order to satisfaction, spiritual,
immortal, and incorruptible substance,) with husks prepared for beasts,
to be built in and upon this corner-stone, for an habitation of God,
through the Spirit; so it ought to be the main design and work of such
as would be approven of God as faithful labourers and co-workers with
God, to be following the example of him who determined not to know
anything among those he wrote unto, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.
O! this noble, heart-ravishing, soul-satisfying mysterious theme, Jesus
Christ crucified, the short compend of that uncontrovertibly great
mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, justified in the
spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the
world, received up into glory, wherein are things the angels desire to
look unto, or with vehement desire bend, as it were, their necks, and
bow down their heads to look and peep into, (as the word used, I Pet. i.
12, importeth) is a subject for angelical heads to pry into, for the
most indefatigable and industrious spirits to be occupied about. The
searching into, and studying of this one truth, in reference to a
closing with it as our life, is an infallible mark of a soul divinely
enlightened, and endued with spiritual and heavenly wisdom; for though
it be unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness,
yet unto them who are called, it is Christ the power of God, and the
wisdom of God, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the
weakness of God is stronger than men. O what depths of the manifold
wisdom of God are there in this mystery! The more it is preached, known,
and believed aright, the more it is understood to be beyond
understanding, and to be what it is--a mystery. Did ever any preacher or
believer get a broad look of this boundless ocean, wherein infinite
wisdom, love that passeth all understanding, grace without all
dimensions, justice that is admirable and tremendous, and God in his
glorious properties, condescensions, high and noble designs, and in all
his perfections and virtues, flow over all banks; or were they ever
admitted to a prospect hereof in the face of Jesus Christ, and were not
made to cry out, O the depth and height, the breadth and length! O the
inconceivable, and incomprehensible boundlessness of all infinitely
transcendent perfections! Did ever any with serious diligence, as
knowing their life lay in it, study this mysterious theme, and were not
in full conviction of soul, made to say, the more they promoved in this
study, and the more they descended in their divings into this depth, or
soared upward in their mounting speculations in this height, they found
it the more an unsearchable mystery! The study of other themes (which,
alas! many who think it below them to be happy, are too much occupied
in) when it hath wasted the spirits, wearied the mind, worn the body,
and rarified the brain to the next degree unto a distraction, what
satisfaction can it give as to what is attained, or encouragement as to
future attainments? And when, as to both these, something is had, and
the poor soul puffed up with an airy and fanciful apprehension of having
obtained some great thing, but in truth a great nothing, or a nothing
pregnant with vanity and vexation of spirit, foolish twins causing no
gladness to the father, "for he that increaseth knowledge increaseth
sorrow," Eccles. i. 18. What peace can all yield to a soul reflecting on
posting away time, now near the last point, and looking forward to
endless eternity? Oh the thoughts of time wasted with, and fair
opportunities of good lost by the vehement pursuings and huntings after
shadows and vanities, will torment the soul by assaulting it with
piercing convictions of madness and folly, in forsaking all to overtake
nothing; with dreadful and soul-terrifying discourses of the saddest of
disappointments, and with the horror of an everlasting and irrecoverable
loss. And what hath the laborious spirit then reaped of all the travail
of his soul, when he hath lost it? But, on the other hand, O what
calmness of mind, serenity of soul, and peace of conscience, because of
the peace of God which passeth all understanding, will that poor soul
look back, when standing on the border of eternity, on the bygone days
or hours it spent in seeking after, praying and using all appointed
means for some saving acquaintance with, and interest in this only soul
up-making, and soul-satisfying mystery; and upon its yielding up itself,
through the efficacious operations of the Spirit of grace, wholly,
without disputing, unto the powerful workings of this mystery within;
and in becoming crucified with Christ, and living through a crucified
Christ's living in it, by his Spirit and power. And with what rejoicing
of heart, and glorious singing of soul, will it look forward to
eternity, and its everlasting abode in the prepared mansions,
remembering that there its begun study will be everlastingly continued,
its capacity to understand that unsearchable mystery will be
inconceivably greater; and the spiritual, heavenly and glorious joy,
which it will have in that practical reading its divinity without book
of ordinances, will be its life and felicity for ever? And what peace
and joy in the Holy Ghost, what inward inexpressible quiet and
contentment of mind will the soul enjoy in dwelling on these thoughts,
when it shall have withal the inward and well-grounded persuasion of its
right through Christ, to the full possession of that all which now it
cannot conceive, let be comprehend; the foretastes whereof filleth it
with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and the hope of shortly landing
there, where it shall see and enjoy, and wonder and praise, and rest in
this endless and felicitating work, making it to sing while passing
through the valley and shadow of death? O if this were believed! O that
we were not drunk to a distraction and madness, with the adulterous-love
of vain and airy speculations, to the postponing, if not utter
neglecting, of this main and only up-making work, of getting real
acquaintance with, and a begun possession of this mystery in our souls,
Christ, the grand mystery, formed within us, living and working within
us by his Spirit, and working us up into a conformity unto, and an
heart-closing with God manifested in the flesh, that we may find in
experience, or at least in truth and reality, have a true transumpt of
that gospel mystery in our souls! Oh, when shall we take pleasure in
pursuing after this happiness that will not flee from us, but is rather
pursuing us! when shall we receive with joy and triumph, this King of
glory that is courting us daily, and is seeking access and entry into
our souls! Oh, why cry we not out in the height of the passion of
spiritual longing and desire, O come Lord Jesus, King of glory, with
thine own key, and open the door, and enlarge and dilate the chambers of
the soul, that thou may enter and be entertained as the King of glory,
with all thy glorious retinue, to the ennobling of my soul, and
satisfying of all the desires of that immortal spark? Why do we not
covet after this knowledge which hath a true and firm connexion with all
the best and truly divine gifts. O happy soul that is wasted and worn to
a shadow, if that could be, in this study and exercise, which at length
will enliven, and, as it were, bring in a new heavenly and spiritual
soul into the soul, so that it shall look no more like a dead
dis-spirited thing out of its native soil and element, but as a free,
elevated, and spiritualized spirit, expatiating itself and flying abroad
in the open air of its own element and country. O happy day, O happy
hour that is really and effectually spent in this employment! What would
souls, swimming in this ocean of pleasures and delights care for? Yea,
with what abhorrency would they look upon the bewitching allurements of
the purest kind of carnal delights, which flow from the mind's
satisfaction in feeding on the poor apprehensions, and groundlessly
expected comprehensions of objects, suited to its natural genius and
capacity? O what a more hyperbolical exceeding and glorious satisfaction
hath a soul in its very pursuings after (when it misseth and cannot
reach) that which is truly desirable! How doth the least glimpse through
the smallest cranie, of this glorious and glorifying knowledge of God in
Christ, apprehended by faith, raise up the soul to that pitch of joy and
satisfaction which the knowledge of natural things, in its purest
perfection, shall never be able to cause; and to what a surmounting
measure of this joy and contentation will the experiencing and feeling,
by spiritual sense, the sweet and relish of this captivating, and
transcendently excellent knowledge raise the soul unto? O must not this
be the very suburbs of heaven to the soul! When the soul thus seeth and
apprehendeth God in Christ, and that as its own God through Christ, (for
as all saving knowledge draweth out the soul unto an embracing and
closing with the object, so it bringeth in the object to the making up
of the reciprocal union and in-being) it cannot but admire with
exultation, and exult with admiration, at that condescendence of free
grace that hath made it, in any measure, capable of this begun glory,
and will further make it meet, by this begun glory, to be a partaker of
the inheritance of the saints in light. And what will a soul that hath
tasted of the pure delights of this river of gospel manifestations, and
hath seen, with soul-ravishing delights, in some measure, the manifold
wisdom of God wrapped up therein; and the complete and perfect symmetry
of all the parts of that noble contexture, and also the pure design of
that contrivance to abase man, and to extol the riches of the free grace
of God, that the sinner, when possessed of all designed for him and
effectuated in him thereby, may know who alone should wear the crown and
have all the glory; what, I say, will such a soul see in another gospel
(calculated to the meridian of the natural, crooked, and corrupt temper
of proud men, who is soon made vain of nothing, which, instead of
bringing a sinner, fallen from God through pride, back again to the
enjoyment of him, through a Mediator, doth but foster that innate plague
and rebellion, which and procured his first excommunication from the
favour, and banishment out of the paradise of God,) that shall attract
its heart to it, and move it to a compliance with it? When the poor
sinner that hath been made to pant after a Saviour, and hath been
pursued to the very ports of the city of refuge by the avenger of blood,
the justice of God, hath tasted and seen how good God is, and felt the
sweetness of free love in a crucified Christ, and seen the beauty and
glory of the mystery of his free grace, suitably answering and
overcoming the mystery of its sin and misery; O what a complacency hath
he therein, and in the way of gospel salvation, wherein free grace is
seen to overflow all banks, to the eternal praise of the God of all
grace. How saltless and unsavoury will the most cunningly-devised and
patched-together mode of salvation be, that men, studying the perversion
of the gospel, and seeking the ruin of souls with all their skill,
industry, and learning, are setting off with forced rhetoric, and the
artifice of words of man's wisdom, and with the plausible advantages of
a pretended sanctity, and of strong grounds and motives unto diligence
and painfulness, to a very denying and renouncing Christian liberty,
when once it is observed, how it entrencheth upon, and darkeneth lustre,
or diminisheth the glory of free grace, and hath the least tendency to
the setting of the crown on the creature's head, in whole or in part?
The least perception, that hereby the sinner's song, "ascribing
blessing, honour, glory, and power unto him that was slain, and hath
redeemed them to God by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and
people, and nation; and hath made them, unto their God, kings and
priests," shall be marred, will be enough to render that device
detestable, and convince the soul, that it is not the gospel of the
grace of God and of Christ, but rather the mystery of iniquity. What a
peculiar savouriness doth the humbled believer find in the doctrine of
the true gospel-grace, and the more that he be thereby made nothing, and
Christ made all; that he in his highest attainments be debased, and
Christ exalted; that his most lovely peacock feathers be laid, and the
crown flourish on Christ's head; that he be laid flat, without one foot
to stand upon, and Christ the only supporter and carrier of him to
glory; that he be as dead without life, and Christ live in him, the more
lovely, the more beautiful, the more desirable and acceptable is it unto
him. O what a complacency hath the graced soul in that contrivance of
infinite wisdom, wherein the mystery of the grace of God is so
displayed, that nothing appeareth from the lowest foundation-stone to
the uppermost cope-stone but grace, grace, free grace making up all the
materials, and free grace with infinite wisdom cementing all? The
gracious soul can be warm under no other covering but what is made of
that web, wherein grace, and only grace, is both wooft and warp; and the
reason is manifest, for such an one hath the clearest sight and
discovery of his own condition, and seeth that nothing suiteth him and
his case but free grace; nothing can make up his wants but free grace;
nothing can cover his deformities but free grace; nothing can help his
weaknesses, shortcomings, faintings, sins, and miscarriages but free
grace. Therefore is free grace all his salvation and all his desire. It
is his glory to be free grace's debtor for evermore; the crown of glory
will have a far more exceeding and eternal weight, and be of an
hyperbolically hyperbolic and eternal weight, and yet easily carried and
worn, when he seeth how free grace and love hath lined it, and free
grace and free love sets it on and keeps it on for ever; this makes the
glorified saint wear it with ease, by casting it down at the feet of the
gracious and loving purchaser and bestower. His exaltation is the
saint's glory, and by free grace, the saints receiving and holding all
of free grace, is he exalted. O what a glory is it to the saint, to set
the crown of glorious free grace with his own hands on the head of such
a Saviour, and to say, "Not unto me, not unto me, but unto thee, even
unto thee alone, be the glory for ever and ever." With what delight,
satisfaction, and complacency will the glorified saint, upon this
account, sing the redeemed and ransomed their song? And if the result
and effect of free grace will give such a sweet sound there, and make
the glorified's heaven, in some respects, another thing, or at least, in
some respect, a more excellent heaven than Adam's heaven would have
been; for Adam could not have sung the song of the redeemed; Adam's
heaven would not have been the purchase of the blood of God; nor would
Adam have sitten with Christ Redeemer on his throne; nor would there
have been in his heaven such rich hangings of free grace, nor such
mansions prepared by that gracious and loving husband, Christ, who will
come and bring his bought bride home with him. Seeing, I say, heaven,
even upon the account of free grace, will have such a special, lovely,
desirable, and glorious lustre, O bow should grace be prized by us now!
How should the gospel of the grace of God be prized by us! What an
antipathy to glory, as now prepared and dressed up for sinful man, must
they shew, whose whole wits and parts are busied to darken the glory of
that grace, which God would have shining in the gospel; and who are at
so much pains and labour to dress up another gospel, (though the apostle
hath told us, Gal. i. 7, that there is not another,) wherein
gospel-grace must stand by, and law-grace take the throne, that so man
may sacrifice to his own net, and burn incense to his own drag, and may,
at most, be grace's debtor in part; and yet no way may the saved man
account himself more grace's debtor, than the man was who wilfully
destroyed himself in not performing of the conditions; for grace, as the
new gospellers, or rather gospel-spillers mean and say, did equally to
both frame the conditions, make known to the contrivance, and tender the
conditional peace and salvation. But as to the difference betwixt Paul
and Judas, it was Paul that made himself to differ, and not the free
grace of God determining the heart of Paul by grace to a closing with
and accepting of the bargain. It was not grace that wrought in him both
to will and to do. It was he, and not the grace of God in him; what is
more contradictory to the gospel of the grace of God? And yet vain man
will not condescend to the free grace of God. Pelagianism and
Arminianism needeth not put a man to much study, and to the reading of
many books, to the end it may be learned, (though the patrons hereof
labour hot in the very fires, to make their notions hang together, and
to give them such a lustre of unsanctified and corrupt reason, as may be
taking with such as know no other conduct in the matters of God,) for
naturally we all are born Pelagians and Arminians. These tenets are
deeply engraven in the heart of every son of fallen Adam. What serious
servant of God findeth not this, in his dealing with souls, whom he is
labouring to bring into the way of the gospel? Yea, what Christian is
there, who hath acquaintance with his own heart, and is observing its
biasses, and corrupt inclinations, that is not made to cry out, O
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from these dregs of
Pelagianism, Arminianism, and Jesuitism, which I find yet within my
soul? Hence, it may seem no wonderful or strange thing (though, after so
much clear light, it may be astonishing to think, that now, in this age,
so many are so openly and avowedly appearing for this dangerous and
deadly error,) to us, to hear and see this infection spreading and
gaining ground so fast, there needeth few arguments or motives to work
up carnal hearts to an embracing thereof, and to a cheerful acquiescing
therein; little labour will make a spark of fire work upon gunpowder.
And, methinks, if nothing else will, this one thing should convince us
all of the error of this way, that nature so quickly and readily
complieth therewith. For who, that hath an eye upon, or regard of such
things, seeth not what a world of carnal reasonings, objections,
prejudices, and scruples, natural men have in readiness against the
gospel of Christ; and with what satisfaction, peace, and delight they
reason and plead themselves out of the very reach of free grace; and
what work there is to get a poor soul, in any measure wakened and
convinced of its lost condition, wrought up to a compliance with the
gospel-way of salvation? How many other designs, projects, and essays
doth it follow, with a piece of natural vehemency and seriousness,
without wearying, were it even to the wasting of its body and spirits,
let be its substance and riches, before it be brought to a closing with
a crucified Mediator, and to an accounting of all its former workings,
attainments, and painful labourings and gain, as loss for Christ, and
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and as dung that it may
win Christ, and be found in him, not having its own righteousness, which
is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the
righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 7-9. And may it not
seem strange, that now, after so many have found, through the grace of
God, the sweet experience of the gracious workings of the gospel-grace
of God upon their hearts, and so are in case, as having this witness
within them, to give verdict against those assertions, yea, more, and
many more than were in several ages before; yet Satan should become so
bold as to vent these desperate opinions, so diametrically opposite to
the grace of God declared in the gospel, and engraven in the hearts of
many hundreds by the finger of God, confirming, in the most undoubted
manner, the truth of the gospel doctrines. This would seem to say, that
there are such clear sunshine days of the gospel, and of the Son of Man
a-coming (and who can tell how soon this night shall be at an end?) that
all these doctrines of nature shall receive a more conspicuous and
shameful dash than they have received for these many ages. Hithertil
when Satan raised up and sent forth his qualified instruments for this
desperate work, God always prepared carpenters to fright these horns,
and thus gospel truth came forth, as gold out of a furnace, more clear
and shining: And who can tell but there may be a dispensation of the
pure grace of God, in opposition to these perverting ways of Satan, yet
to come, that, as to the measure of light and power, shall excel
whatever hath been since the apostles' days. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
However, Madam, the grace of God will be what it is, to all the chosen
and ransomed ones, they will find in it, which will make whatever cometh
in competition therewith or would darken it, contemptible in their eyes:
And happy they, of whom in this day wherein darkness covereth the earth,
and gross darkness the people, it may be said, the Lord hath arisen upon
them, and his glory hath been seen upon them: For whatever others,
whose understanding is yet darkened, and they alienated from the life of
God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of
their hearts, imagine of the gospel-grace, and however they discern
nothing of the heavenly and spiritual glory of the grace of God; yet
they, being delivered or cast into the form and mould of the doctrine of
the gospel which they have obeyed from the heart, through the powerful
and irresistible efficacy of the mighty grace of God, have seen such an
alluring excellency in that gracious contrivance of infinite wisdom, to
set forth the unparallelableness of the pure grace of God, and are daily
seeing more and more of the graciousness and wisdom of that heavenly
invention, in its adequate suitableness to all their necessities, that
as they cannot but admire and commend the riches of that grace that
interlineth every sentence of the gospel, and the greatness of that love
that hath made such a completely broad plaister to cover all their sores
and wounds; so the longer they live, and the more they drink of this
pure fountain of heavenly nectar; and the more their necessities press
them to a taking on of new obligations, because of new supplies from
this ocean of grace, the more they are made to admire the wisdom and
goodness of the Author; and the more they are made to fall in love with
to delight, and lose themselves in the thoughts of this incomprehensible
grace of God; yea, and to long to be there, where they shall be in
better case to contemplate, and have more wit to wonder at, and better
dexterity to prize, and a stronger head to muse upon, and a more
enlarged heart to praise for this boundless and endless treasure of the
grace of God, with which they are enriched, through Jesus Christ. Sure,
if we be not thus enamoured and ravished with it, it is because we are
yet standing without, or, at most, upon the threshold and border of this
grace; were we once got within the jurisdiction of grace, and had
yielded up ourselves unto the power thereof, and were living and
breathing in this air, O! how sweet a life might we have! What a kindly
element would grace be to us! As sin had reigned unto death, even so
grace should reign, through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus
Christ our Lord, Rom. v. 21. Grace reigning within us through
righteousness, would frame and fit our souls for that eternal life that
is insured to all who come once under the commanding, enlivening,
strengthening, confirming, corroborating, and perfecting power of grace.
And seeking grace for grace, and so living, and walking, and spending
upon grace's costs and charges; O how lively, and thriving proficients
might we be! The more we spend of grace (if it could be spent) the
richer should we be in grace. O what an enriching trade must it be to
trade with free grace, where there is no loss, and all is gain, the
stock, and gain, and all is insured; yea, more, labouring in grace's
field would bring us in Isaac's blessing an hundred-fold. But, alas! it
is one thing to talk of grace, but a far other thing to trade with
grace. When we are so great strangers unto the life of grace, through
not breathing in the air of grace, how can the name of the Lord Jesus be
glorified in us, and we in him, according to the grace of our God, and
the Lord Jesus Christ, Thess. i. 12. Consider we, what an affront and
indignity it is unto the Lord dispensator of grace, that we look so lean
and ill-favoured, as if there were not enough of the fattening bread of
the grace of God in our Father's house, or as if the great Steward, who
is full of grace and truth, were unwilling to bestow it upon us, or
grudged us of our allowance, when the fault is in ourselves; we will not
follow the course that wise grace and gracious wisdom hath prescribed;
we will not open our mouth wide, that he might fill us; nor go to him
with our narrowed or closed mouths, that grace might make way for grace,
and widen the mouth for receiving of more grace; but lie by in our
leanness and weakness. And, alas! we love too well to be so. O but grace
be ill wared on us who carry so unworthily with it as we do; yet it is
well with the gracious soul that he is under grace's tutory and care;
for grace will care for him when he careth not much for it, nor yet
seeth well to his own welfare; grace can and will prevent, yea, must
prevent, afterward, as well as at the first; that grace may be grace,
and appear to be grace, and continue unchangeably to be grace, and so
free grace. Well is it with the believer, whom grace has once taken by
the heart and brought within the bond of the covenant of grace; its
deadliest condition is not desperate. When corruption prevaileth to such
a height, that the man is given over for dead, there being no sense, no
motion, no warmth, no breath almost to be observed, yet grace, when
violently constrained by that strong distemper, to retire to a secret
corner of the soul, and there to lurk and lie quiet, will yet at length,
through the receiving influences of grace promised in the covenant, and
granted in the Lord's good time, come out of its prison, take the
fields, and recover the empire of the soul; and then the dry and
withered stocks, when the God of all grace will be as dew unto Israel,
shall blossom and grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon;
his branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree,
and his smell as Lebanon. It is a happy thing either for church or
particular soul to be planted in grace's sappy soil, they lie open to
the warm beams of the Sun of Righteousness; and the winter blasts may be
sharp and long; clouds may intercept the heat, and nipping frosts may
cause a sad decay, and all the sap may return and lie, as it were,
dormant in the root; yet the winter will pass, the rain will be over and
gone, and the flowers will appear on the earth; the time of singing of
birds will come, and the voice of the turtle will be heard in the land;
then shall even the wilderness and solitary place be glad, and the
desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose, it shall blossom
abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon
shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall
see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. We wonder that
'tis not always hot summer days, a flourishing and fruitful season, with
souls and with churches. But know we the thoughts of the Lord; see we to
the bottom of the deep contrivance of infinite wisdom? Know we the
usefulness, yea, necessity of long winter nights, stormy blasts, rain,
hail, snow, and frost? Consider we, that our state and condition, while
here, calleth for those vicissitudes, and requireth the blowing of the
north as well as of the south winds? If we considered, how grace had
ordered all things for our best, and most for the glory and exaltation
of grace, we would sit down and sing under the saddest of dispensations,
and living by faith and hope, we would rejoice in the confident
expectation of a gracious outgate; for as long as grace predomineth (and
that will be until glory take the empire) all will run in the channel of
grace; and though now sense (which is oft faith's unfaithful friend)
will be always suggesting false tales of God, and of his grace unto
unbelief, and raising thereby discontents, doubts, fears, jealousies,
and many distempers in the soul, to its prejudice and hurt, yet in end,
grace shall be seen to be grace; and the faithful shall get such a full
sight of this manifold grace, as ordering, tempering, timing,
shortening, or continuing, of all the sad and dismal days and seasons
that have passed over their own or their mother's head, that they shall
see, that grace did order all, yea, every circumstance of all the
various tossings, changes, ups and downs, that they did meet with. And O
what a satisfying sight will that be, when the general assembly and
church of the first-born, which are in-rolled in Heaven, and every
individual saint, shall come together, and take a view of all their
experience, the result of which shall be, grace began, grace carried on,
and grace hath perfected all, grace was at the bottom of all? What
shoutings, grace, grace unto it, will be there; when the head-stone
shall be brought forth? What soul-satisfying complacency in, and
admiration at all that is past, will a back-look thereat yield, when
every one shall be made to say, grace hath done all well, not a pin of
all the work of grace in and about me might have been wanted; now I see,
that the work of God is perfect, grace was glorious grace, and wise
grace, whatever I thought of it then. O what a fool have I been, in
quarrelling at, and in not being fully satisfied with all that grace was
doing with me? O how little is this believed now?

In conscience, madam, that your ladyship (to me no ways known, but by a
savoury report) shall accept of this bold address, I recommend your
ladyship, my very noble lord your husband, and offspring, to the word of
his grace, and subscribe myself,


Your and their servant

in the gospel and the grace of God.



CHRISTIAN READER,--After the foregoing address, I need not put thee to
much more trouble: only I shall say, that he must needs be a great
stranger in our Israel, or sadly smitten with that epidemic plague of
indifferency, which hath infected many of this generation, to a
benumbing of them, and rendering them insensible and unconcerned in the
matters of God, and of their own souls, and sunk deep in the gulf of
dreadful inconsideration, who seeth not, or taketh no notice of, nor is
troubled at the manifest and terrible appearances of the inexpressibly
great hazard, our all, as Christians in this life, is this day exposed
into. I mean the mystery of the gospel of the grace of God, wherein the
exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us, through
Christ Jesus, hath been shown. We have enjoyed for a considerable time,
a clear and powerful dispensation hereof, in great purity and plenty;
but, alas! is it not manifest to all, that will not wilfully shut their
eyes, that this mercy and goodness of God hath been wickedly abused, and
the pure administration of his grace and love perfidiously sinned away,
by this apostate generation. Are our spots this day the spots of his
children? Are their fruits answerable to the Lord's pains and labour
about us, to be seen even amongst the greatest of professors? Is there
that gospel holiness, tenderness, watchfulness, growing in grace, and in
the knowledge of Jesus Christ, that growing up in Christ, in all things
that heavenly mindedness, that fellowship with the Father and with his
Son Christ Jesus, and that conversation in heaven, that the
dispensation of grace, we have been favoured with beyond many, and have
been long living under, did call for at our hands? Alas! our grapes are
but wild and stinking. Wherefore (and who can think it strange, if it be
so?) the Lord seemeth to be about to contend with us, by covering our
horizon with Egyptian darkness; many who would not receive the love of
the truth, that they might be saved, being already given up to strong
delusion, that they should believe a lie, and many more in hazard to be
drawn aside to crooked paths, by men of corrupt minds, who have been,
and are still busy to vent and spread abroad, with no little petulancy
and confidence, damnable doctrines, to the perverting of the doctrine of
the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the subverting and overturning of the
very foundations of our hope and assurance; and that in such a way, and
by such means and stratagems, as seem to have wrath written upon them in
legible letters; for the more plausible and taking a corrupt doctrine
be, it is the more dangerous and judgment-like, and more are thereby in
hazard to be deluded and drawn away.

Nay (which is yet more terrible and dreadful) it is to be feared, that
the jealous God, in his holy and righteous judgment, hath given a
providential commission (to speak to) unto the seducing spirit, to
persuade and prevail; for is not this the clear language of the present
holy and righteous dispensations of God, and of the stupendously
indifferent frame and disposition of the generality of men, called
Christians, not only provoking God to spue them out of his mouth, but a
disposing them also unto a receiving of whatsoever men, lying in wait to
deceive, shall propose and obtrude?

Alas! the clouds are not now a-gathering, but our horizon is covered
over with blackness, and great drops are a-falling, that presage a
terrible overflowing deluge of error, and apostacy from the truth and
profession of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be at hand, if the Lord
wonderfully prevent it not. And behold (O wonderful!) the generality of
professors are sleeping in security, apprehending no danger. Satan is
more cunning now, than to drive men to Popery by rage and cruelty, (and
yet what he may be permitted to do after this manner, who can tell?) or
by openly pleading in his emissaries, for this abomination, (and yet
even thus is he already prevailing with not a few) or to send forth his
agents for Arminianism and Socinianism (though even this way too, he is
too much prevailing.) But his main work now seemeth to be, to bring in
another gospel, (and yet there is not another) or rather an
antievangelic and antichristian delusory dream, overturning at once the
whole gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and for this end he
employeth the Quakers, on the one hand, men of desperate and
antievangelic principles, the very sink of all abominations, old and
late, (as I shall show, if the Lord will continue health and strength,
in an examination of their doctrine and principles, lately emitted by
one Robert Barcley) and, on the other hand, men, (or moralists, if you
will call them so) pleading for, and crying up an antievangelic
holiness, a mere shadow without substance or reality; and that in place
of Christ himself; and in order to the carrying on of this desperate
design, the old dragon is employing men of seeming different principles
and ways, whom, though their faces seem to look to contrary airths, yet
he holdeth notwithstanding fast tied by their tails (as Samson's foxes
were) that thereby, if the Lord permit it, he may, by the fire of enmity
to the pure gospel of the grace of God, burning in their tails, cause a
conflagration of that truth, wherein lyeth all our hope: For this new
model of religion, that many are so busied about, is such as Pelagians,
Arminians, Papists, Socinians, Quakers, yea Turks, and moral heathens;
yea, and all who are enemies to, and not reconcilable with the true
grace of God held forth in the gospel, will willingly admit of, and
harmoniously agree in: A way which complyeth so well with proud self,
and with the corrupt nature of man, that it is little wonder, if it have
many abettors and admirers. I shall say no more of this; but only infer,

That sure the consideration of this should move all, in whom is any
thing of the zeal of God, and love to souls, their own and others', to
appear in the defence of the gospel of our salvation, by all means
incumbent to them, and possible for them; for if this citadel and
stronghold, wherein our all, and the all of pure and true religion,
lyeth, be blown up, we are gone; and indeed no less is intended by this
antichristian and antievangelic enemy, than the utter subversion of true
Christian religion. Who would not then be hereby alarmed, and upon their
guard, when matters are at this pass? Should not all, who have any love
to their own souls, any zeal for the glory of Christ, anointed of the
Father to be our prophet, priest, and king; my desire to see the crown
flourishing upon his head, and to have the gospel preserved pure and
uncorrupted, be pleading with God by prayer, in the behalf of his Son's
kingdom, crown, and glory; and wrestling with him till he were pleased
to dispel these clouds, and prevent this black day: especially should
they not be labouring to be acquainted, in truth and reality, with the
gospel of Jesus Christ, that having the mysterious truths thereof
imprinted on their souls, and their hearts cast into its mould, they may
be preserved from the hurt of this deadly poison; for this, with a
constant dependence upon, and use-making of Christ in all his offices,
will prove the best preservative against this infection.

The persuasion whereof did induce me to publish the following heads of
some sermons, after they have been translated into Dutch, and published
here: Knowing that they might be of no less use to the people of God in
Britain and Ireland. I know not a more effectual mean to unstable souls
from siding with and embracing every new notion; and from being carried
about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning
craftiness, whereby they lye in wait to deceive; than to put them upon
the real exercise of gospel godliness, and to the daily practice of the
main and fundamental gospel work, of living by faith in Jesus Christ,
and of growing up into him, in all things, who is the head, from whom
the whole body fitly joined together and compacted, by that which every
joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of
every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in
love. Such, I am sure, as have thus learned the truth, as it is in
Jesus, and are practising the same accordingly, will have an antidote
within them against the strongest poison of these seducers, and a real
answer to, and confutation of, all their subtile sophisms. The soul
exercising itself into gospel godliness, will find work enough to take
it wholly up; and find such a solid ground to stand upon; and see such a
satisfying fulness, answering all its necessities and wants, and such a
sure heart-quieting ground of peace, hope, and consolation in Jesus
Christ, as that it will have no leisure, and small temptation to listen
to seducing perverters, and no inclination to seek after empty cisterns.

I know much may be desiderated in this following treatise, and many may
have exceptions not without ground against it. Some may think it
arrogancy, and too great confidence in me, to attempt the handling of
such a mysterious and necessary part of Christian practice, wherein few,
(if any, so far as I know,) have gone before, in direct handling of this
matter, at least in this method and order, I mean that part which is
about sanctification. Others may be displeased with the mean and low
style; with my multiplying particulars, which might have been better and
more handsomely couched under fewer heads, and with my unnecessary
contracting of the whole into such a narrow bound, and other things of
that kind; for which, and many other failings of the like nature and
import, which may without any diligent search, be found in it, even by
ordinary and unprejudiced readers; I shall not industriously labour to
apologize, knowing that my very apology in this case, will need an
apology; only I shall say this, that considering how the snare, which
the vigilant and active enemy of our salvation, the devil, was laying by
an unholy morality, did nearly concern all, and especially the meanest
(for parts and experience) and less fixed Christians, I thought a
discourse on such a subject as I judged most necessary at all times, and
especially in such a day of hazard, should be framed to the capacity of
one as well as another; the most understanding can receive benefit, by
that which is calculated to the capacity of children, when these can
reap little edification by what is suited to the palate of those; and
the less experienced, or such as are of lower understanding, will be
less able to draw a general to a particular; or to improve and so fully
to comprehend one particular touched, as to be able thereby to
understand and take in a like particular not mentioned; than such as
have their senses more exercised, and are thereby in case to make a
better improvement of what is but compendiously declared, when those
must have the bread broken to their hand, or they shall receive but
small edification thereby; and yet, I suppose, the judicious will
observe some variety, smaller or greater, even where particulars seem to
be, at the first view, most unnecessarily multiplied. I know, and
willingly grant, (for it is obvious enough) that a discourse of this
subject and matter, might have required a far larger volume; but then
how should such have profited thereby, whom poverty might possibly have
scared from buying; or the necessary affairs of their ordinary callings
would have keeped from a diligent perusal of it? And I thought that
neither of these should have been overlooked in this special or general
design which I had before my eyes.

One thing, as my answer to all, I shall but add; if hereby others whom
the Lord hath more enabled with all necessaries for such a work, shall
be hereby either instigated or encouraged to write upon this subject, (I
mean mainly the last part thereof, touching the use-making of Christ in
sanctification; for blessed be the Lord, many have been employed of the
Lord to speak soundly and edifyingly unto the use-making of Christ as to
righteousness and justification,) a full, plain, edifying and satisfying
discovery of this necessary and important truth, viz. Christ made of God
to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. And withal,
point out plainly and particularly the way how believers in all their
particular and various exigencies may and should so make use of and
apply that all fulness which is treasured up in the Head, for the
benefit and advantage of the members of the mystical body, as they may
not only theoretically see, but practically also experience this truth,
that in him they are complete; and so they may be helped to understand
how through the necessary and constant use-making of him, as all in
all, they may grow up in him in all things. If this be, I say, done by
any to better purpose, I shall think this my adventure not altogether
fruitless, and in part at least excusable.

As for thee, O Christian, whose instruction, edification, and
confirmation in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the faith which was
once delivered unto the saints, I mainly intended in this undertaking, I
have a few things to add:

Know then, that there are certain men (as the Apostle Jude speaketh)
crept in unawares, who were of old ordained to this condemnation,
ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and
denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ; for in these last
days we see that these perilous times are come, (of which Paul
advertised Timothy, 2 Tim. iii. 1, &c.) wherein men shall be lovers of
their ownselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to
parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers,
false accusers, (or make bates) incontinent, fierce, despisers of those
that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more
than lovers of God, having the form of godliness, but denying the power
thereof--for of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead
captive silly women, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever
learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. And
because it is so, he exhorteth to give diligence to make your calling
and election sure, by giving all diligence to add to faith virtue, to
virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance
patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly
kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity, for if ye do these things,
ye shall never fall. As the Apostle Peter assureth us, 2 Peter i. 5, 6,
7-10. For it is the elect who are secured from full and final defection
and apostacy, Matth. xxiv. 24. Mark xii. 22. Rom. xi. 5, 6; ix. 11;
viii. 33. Matth. xxiv. 31. Mark xiii. 27. And the promise of salvation
is made to such as shall endure to the end. The crown is for the
overcomers, and such as are faithful to the death, Matth. x. 22; xxiv.
13. Mark xiii. 13. Rev. ii. 10, 11, 17, 26, 27, 28; iii. 5, 12, 21. All
which, and the like, are set down, that hereby his people might be
rationally moved to a constant seriousness, in the working out of their
own salvation, in fear and trembling; and the forewarnings given of the
great difficulty of the reaching the end of our faith, the salvation of
our souls, because of the many active, vigilant, indefatigable, subtile,
and insinuating adversaries, who by good words and fair speeches, will
readily deceive the hearts of the simple, and to awaken the more his
people to be sober and vigilant, because their adversary the devil (who
acteth and moveth his under agents, in their several modes, methods and
motions, so as he may best, according to the various tempers, present
dispositions, advantages or disadvantages of such as he intendeth to
seduce, which he carefully studieth, and plyeth for this end, obtain his
designed end, their ruin and destruction) as a roaring lion, walking
about seeking whom he may devour. And this calleth them to haste out
their slumber and security, who will be loath to miss his opportunity,
surprise them to their great loss and disadvantage.

It is, beloved, high time now to awake, to look about us, to consider
where we are, upon what ground we stand, whether the enemy or we have
the advantage, how and in what posture we are to rencounter with
deceivers that seek to cheat us out of all our souls, and of the Lord
our Righteousness, and draw us off the paths of life, that when we come
to die (beside the unspeakably great loss we would thereby be at, even
here, in missing the comfortable accesses to God through Jesus Christ
the inflowings of grace and strength for spiritual duty through the Lord
our strength; the sweet communications of peace and joy in the Holy
Ghost, the shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts by the Holy
Ghost, which is given unto us, and the full assurance of hope through
the Lord Jesus our hope) we might be frustrated of all our expectations;
and find, that all that which men made us grip to, lay hold on, and lean
unto, instead of Christ, was but a mere shadow, and a lie in our right
hand, to the unexpressible grief, vexation, and sorrow of soul when all
should end in a dreadful and horrible disappointment.

But let us not think that our purposes, firm-like resolutions to adhere
to the truth, and our present abhorrence at, and detestation of errors
now broached, to the overturning the very foundations of true
Christianity, will sufficiently guard us from, and make us proof against
the shots and assaults of these crafty seducers. Nor think, that our
learning and knowledge in the theory of the truth; nor our abilities to
rencounter sophisters, will secure us from a fall; let us not think that
the enemies are contemptible, and therefore we need be the less anxious,
nor yet think that former experiences and through-bearings, in the like
cases, will be a pillow, whereby we may now lay ourselves down to sleep.
If we do, we shall certainly deceive ourselves, if all our strength and
standing be in ourselves, and through ourselves; and if this be the
ground of our hope, the righteous Lord in his holy justice, may give us
up to be a prey. Peter's instance should never be forgotten by us; and
such as tempt the Lord have no ground to expect his last issue.

Our strength must be in Christ: to the rock of ages must we fly: to our
chambers in him must we retire, and there must we hide ourselves: on
Christ's lee-side can we only ride safe, and be free of the hazard of
the storm. To him therefore must our recourse be daily, by new and fresh
acts of faith in and through him and his influences, communicated
according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, through faith eyeing
the promiser, the promise, with the price purchasing, and so drawing and
sucking light, direction, strength, stability, and what our present
exigent calleth for, must we think to stand. And happy they who,
conscious to themselves of their own weakness, and convinced of the
insufficiency of all things within them, in godly fear hide themselves
under the wings of the Almighty, and get in into this stronghold,
resolving there to abide, and there to be secured from all their
adversaries, within or without. These humble fearers may expect a safe
and noble outgate; when more strong-like and more confident adventurers
shall (being left to themselves, because trusting in themselves),
shamefully fall, and be triumphed over by the enemy, to the grief of the
godly, and for a snare to others.

The best way then, to keep the faith of Christ, which many are now
seeking to shake and to loose us from, is to be exercising the faith of
Christ. The serious and upright practising of the gospel is the only
best mean to keep thee firm in the profession of the gospel, when the
gospel with thee is not a few fine notions in the brain; but is heavenly
and necessary truth sunk into the heart, and living and acting there; it
will keep thee, and thou wilt own it more firmly and steadfastly in a
day of trial. Thy walking in Christ, and working and living, by him
living in thee, will so root thee in the gospel truth, that enemies will
pull in vain, when seeking to overthrow thee. The gospel of the grace of
God received and entertained in thy soul in love, and constant suitable
improvement, will fortify thee, and secure itself in thee, so that
vehement blasts shall but contribute to its more fixed abode, and more
fruitful actings in thee. Live up then to the gospel, and so be sure of
it, and be safe in it. I mean, let Christ live in thee as thy all, and
cast all thy care and cumber on him; lay all thy difficulties before
him; lean all thy weight upon him; draw all thy necessities out of him:
and undertake all thy duties in him; be strong in him, and in the power
of his might; let him be thy counsellor, conductor, leader, teacher,
captain, commander, light, life, strength, and all, so shall thou stand
and have cause to glory, even in thine infirmities, for thou shalt find
the power of Christ resting upon thee, and thou shalt have cause to say,
therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities,
in persecution, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak,
then am I strong. Remember that great word, Phil. iv. 13, "I can do all
things through Christ, which strengtheneth me."

It hath been the usual and ordinary question of believers, How shall we
make use of Christ for sanctification? To this great and important
question, I, (though the meanest and most unfit for such a work, of all
that God hath sent to feed his flock) have adventured or endeavoured at
least, to give such as truly desire to cleanse themselves from all
filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of
God, some satisfaction herein, laying before them some plain directions
framed to their capacities, and suited to some of their most ordinary
and usual causes; some whereof are more comprehensive, and others more
particular, may be looked upon as exemplary instances, serving for other
cases of the like nature; for hardly could every particular
circumstantiate case be particularly spoken to, and some might judge
that to be superfluous, if thou, in the light and strength of Christ,
shalt really practise what is here pointed forth, I may be confident to
say, thy labour shall not be in vain in the Lord, and thou shalt attain
unto another sort of holiness than that which proud pretenders boast of,
and shalt be far without the reach of that snare, which unstable souls
are too readily entangled with. I mean, the plausible pretension of more
than ordinary sanctity which yet is but forced, feigned, constrained,
mostly external, and framed to cause admiration in beholders, whom they
intend to make a prey of. This shall be no temptation to thee, who by
experience findeth a more safe, satisfying, full, free, easy, pleasant
and heartsome way of mortifying lusts, growing in grace, and in the
knowledge of Jesus Christ, and so perfecting holiness, by running
immediately to Christ, and by living in and upon him, who is made of God
to us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. That the
Lord may bless the same to thee, for this end, shall be, and is the
desire and prayer of him who is,

Thy servant in the work of the gospel,




If thou answer this designation, and art really a partaker of the
unction, which is the high import of that blessed and glorious name
called upon thee, thine eye must affect thy heart, and a soul swelled
with godly sorrow must at last burst and bleed forth at a weeping eye,
while thou looks upon most of this licentious and loathsome generation,
arrived at that height of prodigious profanity as to glory in their
shame, and boast of bearing the badge and black mark of damnation. But,
besides this swarm who savage it to hell, and make such haste hither, as
they foam themselves into everlasting flames, carrying, under the shape
and visage of men, as devils in disguise; the face of the church is
covered with a scum of such, who are so immersed in the concerns of this
life, and are so intense in the pursuit of the pleasures, gain, and
honours thereof, as their way doth manifestly witness them to be sunk
into the deep oblivion of God, and desperate inconsideration of their
precious and immortal souls. But in the third place, besides these who
are hurried into such a distraction with the cares of this life, that
they, as natural brute beasts made to be destroyed, are never at leisure
to consider either the nature and necessity of their noble souls, or to
converse with the notion of a Deity. Thou may perceive a company of
self-deceiving speculatists, who make broad the phylacteries of their
garments, and boast of some high attainments in religion; yea, would
have others look upon them as arrived at the very porch of heaven, and
advanced to a high pitch of proficiency in the ways of God, because they
can discourse a little of the mysteries of salvation, and without ever
diving farther into the depth and true nature of religion, dream
themselves into a consideration of being saints, and conclude themselves
candidates for glory.

This is that heart-moving object which presents itself to thy eye and
observation this day. This is that deplorable posture, wherein thou
mayest perceive most men at the very point of perishing eternally, who
are within the pale of the visible church, some dancing themselves
headlong in all haste into the lake of fire and brimstone, some so much
concerned in things which have no connexion with their happiness, as to
drop unconcernedly into the pit, out of which there is no redemption;
and others dreaming themselves into endless perdition: and all of them
unite in a deriding at, or despising the means used, and essays made, in
order to their recovery.

But if his servants, in following their work closely, seem to have
gained a little ground upon men, and almost persuaded them to be
Christians, Satan, to the end he may make all miscarry, and counterwork
these workers together with God, and poison poor souls by a perversion
of the gospel, beyond the power of an antidote, hath raised up,
instigated and set on work a race of proud rationalists, for they are
wiser than to class themselves amongst those poor fools, those base
things, those nothings, to whom Christ is made all things, to whom
Christ is made wisdom that he may be righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption to them; nay, they must be wise men after the flesh, wise
above what is written. A crucified Christ is really unto them
foolishness and weakness, though the power of God and the wisdom of God:
they will needs go to work another way; they will needs glory in his
presence, and have a heaven of their own band-wind. O my soul, enter not
into their secrets! and, O sweet Jesus, let thy name be to me, The Lord
my righteousness; thou hast won it,--wear it; and gather not my soul
with such who make mention of any other righteousness but of thine only!
to bring in another gospel amongst us than the gospel of the grace of
God. As they determine to know some other thing than Christ and him
crucified; so with the enticing words of man's wisdom they bewitch men
into a disobedience to the truth, setting somewhat else before them than
a crucified Christ; and this they do, that they may remove men from
those who call them into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. A
Christ, it is true; they speak of; but it is not the Christ of God, for
all they drive at (O cursed and truly antichristian design!) is, that he
may profit them nothing, while they model all religion according to this
novel project of their magnified morality. This is that which gives both
life and lustre to that image which they adore, to the Dagon after whom
they would have the world wonder and worship.

That there is such a moralizing or muddizing, if I may be for once
admitted to coin a new word to give these men their due, of Christianity
now introduced and coming in fashion, many of the late pieces in request
do evince. Now that Christianity should moralize men above all things, I
both give and grant; for he who is partaker of the divine nature, and
hath obtained precious faith, must add virtue to his faith. But that it
should be only conceived and conceited as an elevation of nature to a
more clear light, in the matter of morality, wherein our Lord is only
respected as an heavenly teacher and perfect pattern proposed for
imitation, is but a proud, pleasing fancy of self-conceited, darkened,
and deluded dreamers, robbing God of the glory of his mercy and
goodness; our Lord Jesus Christ of the glory of his grace and merit. The
spirit of the efficacy of his glorious and mighty operations; and
themselves and their pilgrimages, who give them the hand as guides, of
the comfort and fruit of all.

It cannot escape thy observation, how busy Satan is this day, upon the
one hand, to keep men, under the call of the gospel to give all
diligence to make their calling and election sure, idle all the day, so
that no persuasion can induce them to engage seriously to fall about a
working out their own salvation in fear and trembling; and, on the
other, equally diligent and industrious to divert men from trusting in
the name of the Lord, and staying upon their God; setting them on work
to go and gather fuel, and kindle a fire, and compass themselves about
with sparks, that they may walk in the light of their own fire, and in
the sparks that they have kindled, knowing well that they shall this way
most certainly lose their toil and travel, and have no other reward at
his hand of all their labour, but to lie down in everlasting sorrow,
while the stout-hearted and far from righteousness and salvation, shall
get their soul for a prey, and be made to rejoice in his salvation, and
bless him who hath made them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of
the saints in light.

I am neither the fit person for so great an undertaking, nor do these
limits, within which I must bound myself, permit me to expatiate in many
notions about the nature of this excellent and precious thing, true
gospel holiness. Oh! if, in the entry, I could on my own behalf and
others, sob out my alas! from the bottom of my soul, because, be what it
will, it is some other thing than men take it to be. Few habituate
themselves to a thinking upon it, in its high nature, and soul enriching
advantages, till their hearts receive suitable impressions of it, and
their lives be the very transumpt of the law of God written in their
heart; the thing, alas! is lost in a noise of words, and heap of notions
about it; neither is it a wonder that men fall into mistakes about it,
since it is only the heart possessed of it that is capable to understand
and perceive its true excellency. But if it be asked what it is; we say,
it may be shortly taken up, as the elevation and raising up of a poor
mortal unto a conformity with God. As a participation of the divine
nature, or as the very image of God stamped on the soul, impressed on
the thoughts and affections, and expressed in the life and conversation;
so that the man in whom Christ is formed, and in whom he dwells, lives,
and walks, hath while upon the earth, a conversation in heaven; not only
in opposition to those many, whose end is destruction, whose god is
their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things; but
also to those pretenders unto and personaters of religion, who have
confidence in the flesh, and worship God with their own spirit, which
in the matters of God is flesh and not spirit, and have somewhat else to
rejoice in than in Christ Jesus, and a being found in him, not having
their own righteousness.

True gospel holiness, then, consists in some similitude and likeness to
God, and fellowship with him founded upon that likeness. There is such
an impression of God, his glorious attributes, his infinite power,
majesty, mercy, justice, wisdom, holiness, and grace, &c., as sets him
up all alone in the soul without any competition, and produceth those
real apprehensions of him, that he is alone excellent and matchless. O
how preferable doth be appear, when indeed seen, to all things! And how
doth this light of his infinite gloriousness, shining into the soul,
darken and obscure to an invisibleness all other excellencies, even as
the rising of the sun makes all the lesser lights to disappear. Alas!
how is God unknown in his glorious being and attributes! When once the
Lord enters the soul, and shines into the heart, it is like the rising
of the sun at midnight: all these things which formerly pretended to
some loveliness, and did dazzle with their lustre, are eternally
darkened. Now, all natural perfections, and moral virtues, in their
flower and perfections, are at best looked upon as _aliquid nihil_. What
things were formerly accounted gain and godliness, are now counted loss
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord, and the
soul cannot only suffer the loss of them all without a sob, but be
satisfied to throw them away as dung, that it may win him, and be found
in him. Now, the wonder of a Deity, in his greatness, power, and grace,
swallows up the soul in sweet admiration. O how doth it love to lose
itself in finding here what it cannot fathom? And then it begins truly
to see the greatness and evil of sin; then it is looked upon without the
covering of pleasure or profit, and loathed as the leprosy of hell. Now
the man is truly like God in the knowledge of good and evil, in the
knowledge of that one infinite good, God; and in the knowledge of that
one almost infinite evil, sin. This is the first point of likeness to
him, to be conformed to him in our understanding, that as he knows
himself to be the only self-being and fountain-good, and all created
things in their flower and perfection, with all their real or fancied
conveniences being compared with him, but as the drop of a bucket, or
nothing; yea, less than nothing, vanity (which is nothing blown up, by
the force or forgery of a vainly working imagination, to the consistence
of an appearance), so for a soul to know indeed and believe in the
heart, that there is nothing deserves the name of good besides God, to
have the same superlative and transcendent thoughts of that great and
glorious self-being God, and the same diminishing and debasing thoughts
of all things and beings besides him. And that as the Lord seeth no evil
in the creation but sin, and hates that with a perfect hatred, as
contrary to his holy will; so for a soul to aggravate sin in its own
sight to an infiniteness of evil, at least till it see it only short of
infiniteness in this respect, that it can be swallowed up of infinite
mercy. But whence hath the soul all this light? It owes all this, and
owns itself as debtor for it to him, who opens the eyes of the blind. It
is he who commands the light to shine out of darkness, who hath made
these blessed discoveries, and hath given the poor benighted soul, the
light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.
These irradiations are from the Spirit's illumination; 'tis the Spirit
of wisdom and revelation that hath made day-light in the darkened soul.
The man who had the heart of a beast, as to any saving or solid
knowledge of God or himself, hath now got an understanding to know him
that is true. Now is Christ become the poor man's wisdom, he is now
renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him; he might
well babble of spiritual things, but till now he understood nothing of
the beauty and excellency of God and his ways; nay, he knew not what he
knew, he was ignorant as a beast of the life and lustre of those things
which he knew in the letter; nothing seemed more despicable to him in
the world, than true godliness; but now he judgeth otherwise, because he
hath the mind of Christ. The things which in his darkness he did
undervalue as trifles to be mocked at, he now can only mind and admire,
since he became a child of light; now being delivered from that
blindness and brutishness of spirit, which possesseth the world, (and
possessed himself till he was transformed by the renewing of his mind)
who esteem basely of spiritual things, and set them at nought, he
prizeth as alone precious. The world wonders what pleasure or content
can be in the service of God, because they see not by tasting how good
he is; to be prying into and poring upon invisible things, is to them
visible madness, but to the enlightened mind, the things that are not
seen are only worth seeing, and while they appear not to be, they only
are; whereas the things that are seen appear but to be, and are not.
Though the surpassing sweetness of spiritual things should be spoke of
to them, who cannot favour the things of God, in such a manner as the
glorious light of them did surround men; yet they can perceive no such
thing; all is to them cunningly devised fables; let be spoke what will,
they see no form, no comeliness, no beauty in this glorious object--God
in Christ reconciling sinners to himself. Alas! the mind is blinded; the
dungeon is within; and till Christ open the eyes, as well as reveal his
light, the soul abides in its blindness, and is buried in midnight
darkness; but when the Spirit of God opens the man's eyes, and he is
translated by an act of omnipotency out of the kingdom of darkness into
the kingdom of his dear Son, which is a kingdom of marvellous light, O
what matchless beauty doth he now see in these things, which appeared
despicable and dark nothings to him, till he got the unction, the
eye-salve, which teacheth all things. Now he sees (what none without the
Spirit can see) the things which God hath prepared for them that love
him, and are freely given them of God; and these, though seen at a
distance, reflect such rays of beauty into his soul, that he beholds and
is ravished, he sees and is swallowed up in wonder.

But then, in the next place, this is not a spiritless inefficacious
speculation about these things, to know no evil but sin and separation
from God, and no blessedness but in the fruition of him; it is not such
a knowledge of them as doth not principle motion to pursue after them.
This I grant is part of the image of God, when the Sun of Righteousness,
by arising upon the man, hath made day-light in his soul, and by these
divine discoveries hath taught him to make the true parallel betwixt
things that differ, and to put a just value upon them according to their
intrinsic worth. But this divine illumination doth not consist in a mere
notion of such things in the head, nor doth it subsist in enlightening
the mind; but in such an impression of God upon the soul, as transforms
and changes the heart into his likeness by love.' Knowledge is but one
line, one draught or lineament of the soul's likeness to him; that alone
doth not make up the image, but knowledge rooted in the heart, and
engraven on the soul, hining and shewing itself forth in a
gospel-adorning conversation, that makes a comely proportion; when the
same hand that touched the eye, and turned the man from darkness to
light, and gave an heart to know him, that he is the Lord, that doth
also circumcise the man's heart to love the Lord his God, with all his
heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind; and this love
manifesting its liveliness, in its constraining power to live to him and
for him. Light without, heat is but wild fire; but light in the mind,
begetting heat in the heart, making it burn Godward, Christward, and
heavenward; light in the understanding, setting on fire and inflaming
the affections, and these shining out in a heavenly conversation, makes
up the lively image of God, both in feature and stature, both in
proportion and colour. Faith begins this image, and draws the
lineaments; and love bringing forth obedience finishes, and gives it the
lively lustre. The burnings of love in obedience to God is that which
illuminates the whole, and makes a man look indeed like him, to whose
image he is predestinate to be conform, and then makes him, who is
ravished with the charms of that beauty, say, as in a manner overcome
thereby, "how fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse? How much better is
thy love than wine, and the smell of thine ointments than all spices?"
But consider, that as these beams, which irradiate the soul, are from
the Spirit of Christ, so that spiritual heat and warmth come out of the
same airth, and proceed from the same author, for our fire burns as he
blows, our lamp shines as he snuffs and furnisheth oil. Men therefore
should not indulge themselves in this delusion, to think, that that
which will pass for pure religion and undefiled before God, consists
either in an outward blameless conversation, or in putting on and
wearing an external garb of profession. No, as the top of it reacheth
higher, so the root of it lies deeper; it is rooted in the heart, this
seed being sown in an honest heart (or making the heart honest in which
it is sown) takes root downward, and brings forth fruit upward, as trees
that grow as far under ground as above, so these trees of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified, grow as far and as
fast under ground as above; godliness grows as far downwards in
self-emptying, self-denial, and self-abasing, in hungering and thirsting
after more of righteousness, in the secret engagements of the heart to
God in Christ, in these burstings of heart and bleeding of soul, to
which God alone is witness, because of shortcoming in holiness, because
of a body of death within, and because of that law in the members
warring against the law of the mind, and bringing often into captivity
to the law of sin, as it grows upward in a profession. And this is that
pure religion and undefiled before God, which is both most pleasant to
him, and profitable to the soul.

But to make the difference betwixt dead morality, in its best dress, and
true godliness, more clear and obvious, that loveliness of the one may
engage men into a loathing of the other, this dead carion and stinking
carcase of rotten morality, which still stinks in the nostrils of God,
even when embalmed with the most costly ointments of its miserably
misled patrons, we say, that true godliness, which in quality and kind
differs from this much pleaded for and applauded morality, a black
heathen by a mongrel kind of Christians baptised of late with the name
of Christianity, and brought into the temple of the Lord, concerning
which he hath commanded that it should never in that shape, and for that
end it is introduced, enter into his congregation; and the bringers for
their pains are like to seclude themselves for ever from his presence.
It respects Jesus Christ, 1st, as its principle; 2d, as its pattern; 3d,
as its altar; and, 4th, as its end.

1. I say, true holiness, in its being and operation, respects Jesus
Christ as its principle; "I live," said that shining saint, "yet not I,
but Christ liveth in me." As that which gives religion its first being,
is the religation of the soul to God; so that which gives it motion, and
draws forth that life into action, is the same God's working all their
works in them and for them, so that in all they do, they are workers
together with God; every act of holiness is an act of the soul made
alive unto God through Jesus Christ, and quickened to each action by the
supervenience of new life and influence; therefore, says Christ, without
me ye can do nothing; it is not, being out of me ye can do nothing, for
he spoke it to those who were in him, but, if ye leave me out in doing,
all ye do will be nothing. 'Tis Jesus Christ who gives life and legs, so
that our runnings are according to his drawings. "My soul followeth
hard after thee," said that holy man; but whence is all this life and
vigour? "Thy right hand upholdeth me," Oh! it is the upholdings and
helpings of this right hand, enlarging the man's heart, that makes a
running in the ways of his commandments; it is he who, while the saints
work out the work of their own salvation, worketh in them both to will
and to do. It is he who giveth power to the faint, and who, to them that
have no might, encreaseth strength, so that the poor lifeless,
languishing lie-by is made to mount up with eagles' wings, and surmount
all these difficulties, with a holy facility, which were simply
insuperable, and pure impossibilities. Now the man runs and doth not
weary, because Christ draws; and he walks and doth not faint, because
Christ, in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily, dwells in him,
and walks in him, and dwells in him for that very end, that he may have
a completeness and competency of strength for duty. All grace is made to
abound unto him, that he always having all sufficiency in all things,
may abound unto every good work. He is able of himself to do nothing,
no, not to think any thing as he ought, but he hath a sufficiency of
God, whereby he is thoroughly furnished unto every good work; so that he
may say, I am able for all things: it is more than "I am able to do all
things," as we read it; its just import is, "I am able to do all things,
and to endure all things;" and that which keeps it from vain boasting,
is what is added, "through Christ which strengthened me," or putting
power in me, or rather impowering me, which is by a supervenient act
drawing forth life into a liveliness of exercise, according to the
present exigent. There is a power in a saint, because Christ is in him,
that overpowers all the powers of darkness without, and all the power of
indwelling corruption within, so that when the poor weak creature is
ready to despond; within sight of his duty, and say, because of
difficulty, what is my strength that I should hope? Christ saith,
despond not, my grace is sufficient for thee, and my power shall rest
upon thee, to a reviving thee, and raising thee up, and putting thee in
case to say, when I am weak, then I am strong; his strength, who
impowers me, is made perfect in my weakness, so that I will glory in my
infirmities, and be glad in being grace's debtor. But what power is
that, which raiseth the dead sinner, and carries the soul in its actings
so far without the line, and above the sphere of all natural activity,
when stretched to its utmost? O, it is an exceeding great power which is
to them-ward who believe, that must make all things, how difficult
soever, easy, when he works in them to will and to do, according to the
working of his mighty power, (or as it is upon the margin, and more
emphatic, of the might of his power,) which he wrought in Christ, when
he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, &c.; he
that raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead, raiseth up believers also
by Jesus; and being raised and revived by him, to walk in newness of
life, the life of Jesus, in its communications of strength, is manifest
in their mortal flesh, according to that of the same apostle; "the life
that I live in the flesh," saith he, "I live by the faith of the Son of
God." Faith brings in Christ in my soul, and Christ being my life,
carries out my soul in all the acts of obedience, wherein, though I be
the formal agent, yet the efficiency and the power, by which I operate,
is from him; so that I can give no better account of it than
this,--I--not I. But who then, if not you? The grace of God, saith he,
which was with me. But this mystery to our bold, because blind
moralists, of an indwelling Christ working mightily in the soul, is
plain madness and melancholy; however we understand his knowledge in the
mystery of Christ, who said, "The life I live in the flesh," &c.; and
from what we understand of his knowledge in that mystery, which he had
by revelation, we understand our moralists to be men of corrupt minds,
who concerning the faith hath made shipwreck; but what is that, "The
life I live in the flesh," &c. The import of it seems to be this, if not
more,--while I have in me a soul animating my body, as the principle of
all my vital and natural actions, I have Jesus Christ animating my soul,
and by the impulse and communicate virtue and strength of an indwelling
Christ, I am made to run the ways of his commandments, wherein I take so
great delight, that I am found of no duty as of my enemy.

2. The gospel holiness respects Jesus Christ as its pattern. It
proposeth no lower pattern for imitation than to be conform to his
image, (he that is begotten again into a lively hope, by the
resurrection of Christ from the dead, girds up the loins of his mind,
which are the affections of his soul, lest by falling flat upon the
earth, he be hindered in running the race set before him, as looking to
the forerunner his pattern,) in this girdle of hope, that he may be
"holy in all manner of conversation," keeping his eye upon the precept
and pattern, that his practice may be conform. It is written, saith he,
"be ye holy, for I am holy;" the hope of seeing God, and being ever with
him, imposeth a necessity upon him who hath it, to look no lower than at
him, who is glorious in holiness; and therefore he is said to purify
himself even as he is pure; and knowing that this is the end of their
being quickened together with Christ, that they may walk even as he
walked, they in their working and walking aim at no less than to be like
him; and therefore never sit down upon any attained measure, as if they
were already perfect. The spotless purity of God expressed in his laws,
is that whereto they study assimilation; therefore they are still in
motion towards this mark, and are changed from one of glorious grace
into another, into the same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,
who never gives over his putting them to cleanse from all filthiness of
the flesh and of the spirit, till that be true in the truest sense,
"Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." And knowing that
perfect fruition of him cannot be without the perfect conformity to him,
herein do they exercise themselves to grow in grace, and to be still
advancing towards some more likeness to his image, forgetting all their
attainments, as things that are behind, and by their Teachings forth
unto that which is before, make it evident that they make every begun
degree of grace and conformity to God, a prevenient capacity for a new
degree which yet they have not attained. I know our moralists look upon
themselves as matchless, in talking of following his steps as he hath
left us an example; in this they make a flourishing with flanting
effrontery, but for all their boasting of wisdom, such a poor simple man
as I, am made to wonder at their folly, who proposing, as they say, the
purity of Christ as their pattern, are not even thence convinced, that
in order to a conformity thereto, there is a simple and absolute
necessity of the mighty operations of that Spirit of God, whereby this
end can be reached; but while they flout at the Spirit's working as a
melancholy fancy, whereby the soul is garnished with the beauty of
holiness, and made an habitation for God, I doubt not to say of these
great sayers, that they understand neither what they say, nor whereof
they affirm; nay, doth not the talking of the one, not only without
seeing the necessity of the other, but speaking against it, say in the
heart of every one, who hath not the heart of a beast, that they have
never yet got a sight of the holiness of that pattern, nor of their own
pollutions and impotency; for if they had, they would give themselves up
to Jesus Christ to be washed by him, without which they can have no part
with him. O there will be a vast difference, at the latter day, betwixt
them who have given their black souls to Jesus to bleach, when he shall
present them without spot, not only clothed with wrought gold, but all
glorious within, and those who have never dipped, yea, who have despised
to dip their defiled souls in any other fountain, save in the impure
puddle of their own performances. This will make them loathsome in his
sight, and cause his soul abhor those who have done this despite unto
the Spirit of grace, as to slight that blessed fountain, opened for sin
and for uncleanness, let them pretend as high as they will, to look to
him as a pattern; while, because the plague-sore is gone up in their
eye, they look not to him as a price, nor to the grace of Jesus Christ,
as that which can only principle any acceptable performance of duty, he
will plunge them in the ditch, and it will cost them their souls, for
rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, in not making use of
him who came by water as well as by blood.

3. This gospel holiness respects Christ as the altar. It is in him, and
for him, that his soul is well pleased with our performance--this is the
altar upon which thou must lay thy gift, and leave it, without which thy
labour is lost, and whatsoever thou dost is loathed, as a corrupt thing.
As believers draw all their strength from him, so they expect acceptance
only through him, and for him. They do not look for it, but in the
Beloved; they dare not draw near to God in duty, but by him. This is
the new and living way which is consecrate for them; and if such, who
offer to come to God, do not enter in hereat, instead of being admitted
to a familiar converse with God, they shall find him a consuming fire.
When the saints have greatest liberty in prayer, and so of all other
performances, when their hearts are most lifted up in the ways of the
Lord, they abhor at thinking their prayer can any otherways be set forth
before him as incense, or the lifting up of their hands as the evening
sacrifice, but as presented by the great intercessor, and perfumed by
the merit of his oblation. If they could weep out the marrow of their
bones, and the moisture of their body, in mourning over sin; yet they
durst not think of having what comes from so impure a spring, and runs
through so polluted a channel, presented to God, but by Jesus Christ, in
order to acceptation; for, as they look to the exalted Saviour, to get
their repentance from him, so when by the pourings out upon them of the
spirit of grace and supplication, he hath made them pour out their
hearts before him, and hath melted them into true tenderness, so that
their mourning is a great mourning, they carry back these tears to be
washen and bathed in his blood, as knowing without this of how little
worth and value with God their salt water is; but when they are thus
washed he puts them in his bottle, and then pours them out again to them
in the wine of strong consolation. Thus are they made glad in his house
of prayer, and their sighs and groans come up with acceptance upon his
altar. O blessed altar, that sanctifies the gold! this is that altar,
whereto the mocking moralist hath no right. It is by him that the poor
believer offers up his sacrifice to God continually; whatever he doth in
word or deed, he desires to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. As he
knows, he lives to make intercession, and to appear in the presence of
God for his poor people, both to procure influences for duty, and plead
for acceptation: so he depends upon him for both, as knowing he can
never otherways hear nor have it said unto him, "well done thou good and
faithful servant." It may be he can do little, he hath but a mite to
offer; but he puts it in the Mediator's hand to be presented to God. He
hath not gold, nor silver, nor purple to bring; he can do no great
things; he hath but goats' hair or rams' skins, but he gives them the
right tincture, he makes them red in the blood of Christ, and so they
are a beautiful incarnation.

But let us, on the other hand, take a short view of what our moralists
substitute in its place, as in their account, both more beautiful in the
eye, and more beneficial to the souls of men, wherein I intend to be
brief. I might comprehend the account to be given shortly, and give it
most exactly, yet truly in these few words. As the most undoubted
deviation from, and perfect opposition unto the whole contrivance of
salvation, and the conveyance of it into the souls of men, as revealed
in this gospel which brings life and immortality to light, that
fighters against the grace of God in its value and virtue can forge,
stretching their blind reason to the overthrow of true religion, and
ruin of the souls of men. For to this height these masters of reason
have, in their blind rage, risen up against the Lord and against his
anointed; this is the dreadful period of that path, wherein we are
persuaded to walk, yea hectored, if we would not forfeit the repute of
men by these grand sophies, who arrogate to themselves the name and
thing of knowledge, as if wisdom were to die with them. The deep
mysteries of salvation, which angels desire to look into, and only
satisfy themselves with admiration at, must appear as respondents at
their bar; and if they decline the judge and court, as incompetent, they
flee out and flout at subjecting this blind mole, man's reason, to the
revelation of faith in a mystery. The manifold wisdom of God, and the
manifold grace of God, must either condescend to their unfoldings, and
be content to speak in their dialect, or else these wits, these Athenian
dictators, will give the deep things of God, because beyond their
divings, the same entertainment which that great gospel preacher, Paul,
met with from men of the same mould, kidney, and complexion, because he
preached unto them Jesus, What would the babbler say, said they. The
Spirit of wisdom and revelation they know not, they have not, they
acknowledge not; nay, they despise him in his saving and
soul-ascertaining illuminations; and the workings of that mighty power
to them-ward who believe, is to the men of this new mould (because they
have not found it) an insufferable fancy, to be exploded with a disdain
and indignation, which discovers what spirit actuates them in this

But I would recommend to you, who can neither purchase nor peruse what
is more voluminous (how worthy soever) the serious perusal, as of the
whole of that savoury and grace-breathing peace, the fulfilling of the
Scriptures; so therein that short but sweet digression, against
black-mouthed Parker, wherein the gracious author takes out his own
soul, and sets before thine eye, the image of God impressed thereon; for
while he deals with that desperado by clear and convincing reason,
flowing natively from the pure fountain of divine revelation, he hath
the advantage of most men, and writers too, in silencing that proud
blasphemer of the good ways of God, with arguments taken from what he
hath found acted upon his own soul. And likewise I would recommend, as a
sovereign antidote against this poison, the diligent perusing and
pondering of what is shortly hinted against the hellish belchings of the
same unhallowed author (in the Preface to that piece of great Mr.
Durham, upon the Commands) by a disciple, who, besides his natural
acuteness and sub-actness of judgment in the depth of the gospel
mysteries, is known, by all who know him (and for myself, I know none
now alive his equal) to have most frequent access to lean his head on
his Master's bosom, and so in best case to tell his fellow-disciples
and brethren, what is breathed into his own soul, while he lives in
these embraces, and under the sheddings abroad of that love of God in
his soul, which drew and did dictate these lines, against that flouter
at all such fruitions. Nor can I here omit to observe, how, when the
devil raised up Parker, that monster, to bark and blaspheme, the Lord
raised up a Merveil to fight him at his own weapon, who did so cudgel
and quell that boasting bravo, as I know not if he be dead of his wound,
but for any thing I know, he hath laid his speech.

It was not the author's design in this piece, (levelled only at this
mark, to teach thee how to make use of the strength and grace that is in
Christ Jesus, and find the promised ease in performance of duties; in
handling of which argument, he hath been remarkably assisted, and thou
canst not read with attention, but thou must bear him witness, and bless
the Lord on his behalf, that he hath hit the mark at which he aimed) to
engage in a formal debate with these audacious moralists, who would
boast and bogle us out of the good old way, wherein, if men walk, they
must find rest to their souls. Yet if by the doctrine he hath here
explained and pressed, as the only way of life, they do not find what a
mortal wound he hath given their morality, all the lovers of the truth
will see it; and it may be, the Lord sparing life, and continuing the
same gracious and great assistance, he hath had in engaging with many
and great adversaries to the truth at home and abroad, they may see
somewhat from his pen, which may make the lovers of our Lord Jesus
Christ in sincerity, and of the operations of his Spirit, sing over
these successors to Sisera, who with their jumping chariots and rattling
wheels, assault the truth, at his feet they bowed, they fell, they lay
down at his feet, they bowed, they fell where they bowed, there they
fell down dead; so let all the enemies of thy truth perish, O Lord! How
to make the whole more useful for thee, for whose advantage 'tis mainly
intended, I leave to the author's own direction; only this I must say,
his method and mould, wherein he casts his sweet matter, and his way of
handling this so seasonable a subject, is so accommodate to each case,
and brought home to the conscience, and down to the capacity of the
meanest Christian, which was his aim, that the feeble, in this day,
might be as David; that howbeit many worthy men have not only hinted,
but enlarged upon the same matter, yet thou canst not but see some
heart-endearing singularity in his way of improving and handling this
great gospel truth. Next, I must tell thee, that as I myself read it
with much satisfaction (though, alas! I dare not say, I have by reading
reaped the designed advantage), so that thou mayest be blushed into a
perusal thereof, and profiting thereby, I must likewise tell thee, I
say, it hath been turned into Dutch, and that it hath not only met with
great acceptation amongst all the serious and godly in these parts, who
have seen it, but is much sought after; and they profess themselves
singularly thereby edified, and set a-going after God, by its
efficacious persuasiveness, with a singing alacrity; and if it have not
the same effect upon thee and me, they and it will arise up against us
in judgment.

Up, therefore, Christians, and be doing: Listen to such a teacher, who,
lest thou tire in thy race, or turn back, teacheth thee a certain and
sweet way of singular proficiency and progress in the ways of God. It
may be, it is not thy work, nor mine, to write both against these
soul-murdering, however magnified, methods of taking men off Jesus
Christ; but our penury of parts for that, should first put us to seek
plenty of tears, that we may weep, to see our master so wounded by the
piercing pens of those who, to patronise their mock religion, wrest the
Scriptures, and with wicked hands wring the word of the Lord, till it
weep blood: this, I say, should provoke thee and me to weep upon him,
till he appear, and beat the pens of such deceivers out of their hand by
a blow of his; 2d, It should provoke us to know the truth, that we may
contend earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints, and to have
these contradicted truths so impressed in their life upon our souls,
that the pen of the most subtle pleader for this perversion of the
gospel may neither delete these, nor be able to stagger us, but we may,
from the efficacious working of these, have the witness in ourselves,
and know the men who teach otherways not to be of God; 3d, It should be
our ambition, when the all of religion is cried down, and a painted
shadow, a putrid, however perfumed, nothing put in its place, to make it
appear, by our practice, that religion is an elevation of the soul above
the sphere and activity of dead morality; and that it is no less or
lower principle that acts us, than Christ dwelling in us, and walking in
us. How can the love of God, and of Christ, and of the Spirit be in us,
if these perverse praters against the power of godliness, provoke us not
to emit a practical declaration to the world, and extort a testimony to
his grace by our way, from the enemies thereof? Improve, therefore, this
his special help to that purpose, which in a most seasonable time is
brought to thy hand.

But to sum up all shortly, there are but three things which make
religion an heavy burden; 1st, The blindness of the mind; and here thou
art taught to make use of that eye-salve, whereby the eyes of the blind
see out of obscurity, and out of darkness; he who formerly erred in
spirit, by the light held forth in these lines, may see a surpassing
beauty in the ways of God; 2d, That aversion and unwillingness which is
in the mind, whereby the sweet and easy yoke of his commands is spurned
at as heavy; in order to the removing thereof, and that thou mayest be
among his willing people, here thou hast Christ held forth in his
conquering beauty, displaying his banner of love over souls, so that
thou canst not look upon him as held forth, but faith will bow thy neck
to take on his yoke, because it sees it is lined with the love of
Christ, and then this love that lines the yoke, shed abroad in the
heart, will constrain to a bearing of it; but, 3d, When the spirit is
willing, there remains yet much weakness; love kindled in the heart
conquers the mind into a compliance with his will, and a complacency in
his commands, but its greatest strength is often to weep over a withered
hand. Now that thy hands which fall down may be made strong for labour,
and thou mayest be girded with strength, and have grace for grace, yea,
all grace to make thee abound unto every good word and work, the author
leads thee up unto the full fountain of all gospel furniture, and
strength; and teacheth thee how to make use of Christ, as thy
sufficiency, for working all thy works in thee and for thee. I say,
therefore, again unto thee, take heart, let not thine hands fall down,
essay nothing thou would have well done or easily done, in thine own
strength; but yet how difficult soever the duty be, approach it as
having no confidence in the flesh, but with an eye to thy stock, that
rich store-house of all furniture, and it shall be with thee as it was
with the priests, before whom Jordan recoiled, so soon as their foot
entered within the brink; God shall make thy difficulties evanish; and
by the illapses of the Spirit of power and might from Jesus Christ
depended upon, shall so strengthen thee, that thy duty is made easy to
admiration, and becomes the delight of thy soul. Pray for the
continuance of the life of the author, who, by his assiduous working for
Christ, hath been often near unto death, not regarding his own life, to
supply the lack of other men's service, to the interest and Church of
God; and let him be comforted for this piece of travel undertaken for
thy soul's interest, by hearing thou dost improve it to thy advantage,
for which it is so exactly calculate: And with all I beg thy fervent and
earnest intercessions for grace, and more grace, to him who is thy poor,
yet soul's well-wisher and servant, for Christ's sake,

R. M. W.






Doubtless it is always useful, yea, necessary, for the children of God
to know the right way of making use of Christ, who is made all things to
them which they need, even "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption," 1 Cor. i. 30. But it is never more necessary for believers
to be clear and distinct in this matter, than when Satan, by all means,
is seeking to pervert the right ways of the Lord, and, one way or other,
to lead souls away, and draw them off Christ; knowing that, if he
prevail here, he hath gained his point. And therefore he endeavoureth
not only to darken it by error, either more gross or more subtle, but
also to darken it by mistakes and prejudices: whence it cometh to pass,
that not only strangers are made to wander out of the way, but
oftentimes many of his own people are walking in darkness of ignorance
and mistakes, and remain lean through want of the real exercise of the
life of faith, which would make them fat and flourishing; because it
would make them "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and
to grow up in Christ in all things."

The clearing up then of this truth cannot but be most seasonable now,
when Satan is prevailing with many, whom he cannot get tempted to
looseness and profanity, to sit down upon something which is not Christ,
and to rest upon something with themselves, distinct from him, both in
the matter of justification and sanctification. This subtle adversary is
now setting some a-work, to cry up, by preaching, speaking, and
printing, a way to heaven which is not Christ; a kind of morality,
civility, and outward holiness, whereupon the soul is to rest. And this
holiness, not wrought and effectuated through the strength of Jesus, by
faith sucking life and furniture from him; but through our own art and
skill, which in effect is nothing but an extract of refined Popery,
Socinianism, and Arminianism, devised and broached of purpose to draw
the soul off Christ, that he may stand upon his own legs, and walk by
his own power, and thank himself, at least in part, for the crown at

Further, through the great goodness of God, the true way of a soul's
justification is admirably cleared up; and many are, at least
theoretically, acquainted therewith; and many also practically, to the
quieting of their wakened consciences, and stopping the mouth of their
accusers, and obtaining of peace, joy, and the lively hope of the
everlasting crown; yet many gracious souls profess their
unacquaintedness with the solid and thriving way of use-making of Christ
for growth in grace and true sanctification. Therefore some discovery of
the truth here cannot but be useful, seasonable, yea, and acceptable
unto them. If he, who is the Truth, would give grace to understand, and
to unfold this so necessary and always advantageous a truth, and would
help to write of and explain this truth by faith in him who is here said
to be the Truth, then should we have cause to bless and magnify his
name. But if he, because of sin, shall hide himself, and not let out
these beams of light, whereby we might discover light, we shall but
darken counsel with words without our knowledge, and leave the matter as
unclear as ever. Therefore is it necessary, there be both in him that
writeth, and in such as read, a single dependence on him, who "is for a
leader," Isa. lv. 5, and hath promised to "bring the blind by a way
which they know not, and to lead them in paths they had not known, and
to make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight," Isa.
xlii. 16, that thus by acting faith on him we may find, in so far, the
truth of this verified, viz. that he is the Way, the Truth, and the
Life. Now, for clearing up of this matter, we would know, that our Lord
Jesus, from the beginning of this chapter, is laying down some grounds
of consolation, sufficient to comfort his disciples against the sad news
of his departure and death; and to encourage them against the fears they
had of much evil to befall them when their Lord and Master should be
taken from them; which is a sufficient proof of the tender heart of
Jesus, who alloweth all his followers strong consolation against all
fears, hazards, troubles, and perplexities which they can meet with in
their way. He will not leave them comfortless, and therefore he layeth
down strong grounds of consolation to support their drooping and
fainting hearts; as loving to see his followers always rejoicing in the
Lord, and singing in the ways of Zion: that the world may see and be
convinced of a reality in Christianity, and of the preferableness of
that life, notwithstanding of all the troubles that attend it, unto any
other, how sweet and desirable soever it may appear to flesh and blood.

In prosecution of which design, he told them, verse 4, that they "knew
whether he went," and the way also which he was to take, and by which he
was to bring them to the Father, to the mansion spoken of, and so to
life eternal. But Thomas rashly and incredulously (as too usually he
did, chap. xi. 16; xx. 25,) venteth himself, and little less than
contradicteth his Master, saying, verse 5, "We know not whither thou
goest, and how can we know the way?" wherein we have an emblem of many a
believer, who may have more grace and knowledge of God and of Christ
than they will be able to see, or acknowledge that they have; what
through temptations, inward distempers, sense of their many defects, and
great ignorance, strong desires of high measures, clearer discoveries of
the vastness of the object, mistakes about the true nature of grace,
despising the day of small things, and indistinctness as to the actings
of grace, or want of understanding and right uptaking of grace in its
various outgoings and actings under various notions, and the like.

Whereupon Christ, after his usual manner, taketh occasion to clear up
that ground of consolation further unto them; and to let them see the
true way of coming to the Father, that thereby they might be helped to
see that they were not such strangers unto the way as they supposed; and
withal, he amplifieth and layeth out the properties and excellencies of
this way, as being the only true and living way; and that in such a
manner, as they might both see the way to be perfect, full, safe,
saving, and satisfying; and also learn their duty of improving this way
always, and in all things, until they come home at length to the Father,
saying, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto
the Father but by me."

Christ then saying, that he not only is the way to the Father, even the
true way, but that he is so the true way, as that he is also truth
itself in the abstract, and so the living way, that he is life itself in
the abstract, giveth us ground to consider, after what manner it is that
he is the Truth and the Life, as well as the Way; and that for clearing
up and discovering of his being an absolutely perfect, transcendently
excellent, incomparably preferable and fully satisfying way, useful to
believers in all cases, all exigents, all distresses, all difficulties,
all trials, all temptations, all doubts, all perplexities, and in all
causes or occasions of distempers, fears, faintings, discouragements,
&c. which they may meet with in their way to heaven. And this will lead
us to clear up the duty of believers, on the other hand, and to show how
they should, in all their various cases and difficulties, make use of
Christ as the only all-sufficient way to the Father, and as truth and
life in the way, and so we will be led to speak of Christ's being to
his people all that is requisite for them here in the way, whether for
justification or sanctification; and how people are to make use of him
as being all, or, as being made of "God to us wisdom, righteousness,
sanctification, and redemption," 1 Cor. i. 30.

Ere we come to the words in particular, we would look upon them as
having relation to Thomas his words in the preceding verse, wherein he
did little less than contradict what Christ had said in the 4th verse,
and learn several very comfortable points of doctrine, as,

I. That Jesus Christ is very tender of his followers, and will not cast
them off, nor upbraid them for every escape whereby they may provoke him
to anger and grieve his Spirit; but gently passeth by many of their
failings, when he findeth they are not obstinate in their mistake, nor
perverse in their way. For how gently and meekly doth he here pass over
Thomas his unhandsome expression, finding that Thomas spake here, not
out of obstinacy and pertinaciousness, but out of ignorance and a
mistake. And the reason is, because, 1. Christ knoweth our infirmity and
weakness, and is of a tender heart, and therefore will not "break the
bruised reed," Isa. xlii. Well knoweth he that rough and untender
handling would crush us, and break us all in pieces. And, 2. He is full
of bowels of mercy, and can "have compassion on them that are out of the
way, and can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," Heb. iv.
15. v. 2.

Which truth, as upon the one hand, it should encourage all to choose him
for their leader, and give up themselves unto him, who is so tender of
his followers; so, upon the other hand, it should rebuke such as are
ready to entertain evil and hard thoughts of him, as if he were an hard
master, and ill to be followed, and put all from entertaining the least
thought of his untenderness and want of compassion. But, moreover,

II. We see, that weaknesses and corruptions breaking out in believers,
when they are honestly and ingenuously laid open before the Lord, will
not fear him away, but rather engage him the more to help and succour.
Much of Thomas his weakness and corruption appeared in what he said; yet
the same being honestly and ingenuously laid open to Christ, not out of
a spirit of contradiction, but out of a desire to learn, Christ is so
far from thrusting him away, that he rather condescendeth the more, out
of love and tenderness, to instruct him better, and clear the way more
fully. And that, because, 1. He knoweth our mould and fashion, how
feckless and frail we are, and that if he should deal with us according
to our folly, we should quickly be destroyed. 2. He is not as a man,
hasty, rash, proud; but gentle, loving, tender, and full of compassion.
3. It is his office and proper work to be an instructor to the ignorant,
and a helper of our infirmities and weaknesses, a physician to bind up
and cure our sores and wounds.

Who would not then willingly give up themselves to such a teacher that
will not thrust them to the door, nor give them up to themselves always,
when their corruptions would provoke him thereunto? And what a madness
is this in many, to stand a-back from Christ, because of their
infirmities; and to scar at him, because of their weakness, when the
more corruption we find the more we should run to him? and it is soon
enough to depart from Christ when he thrusts us away, and saith, he will
have no more to do with us; yea, he will allow us to stay after we are
thrice thrust away. Only, let us take heed that we approve not ourselves
in our evils, that we hide them not as unwilling to part with them, that
we obstinately maintain them not, nor ourselves in them; but that we lie
open before him, and deal with him, with honesty, ingenuousness, and

III. We see, further, That ignorance ingenuously acknowledged and laid
open before Christ, puts the soul in a fair way to get more instruction.
Thomas having candidly, according as he thought, in the simplicity of
his heart, professed his ignorance, is in a fair way now to get
instruction. For this is Christ's work, to instruct the ignorant, to
open the eyes of the blind.

Why then are we so foolish as to conceal our ignorance from him, and to
hide our case and condition from him; and why doth not this commend
Christ's school to us so much the more? why do we not carry as ingenious
scholars, really desirous to learn? But,

IV. We may learn, That our ill condition and distempers put into
Christ's hand will have remarkable out-gates, and an advantageous issue;
seeing Christ taketh occasion here from Thomas his laying open his
condition, not without some mixture of corruption, to clear up the truth
more fully and plainly than it was before; for hereby, 1. Christ giveth
an open declaration of the glory of his power, mercy, goodness, wisdom,
&c. 2. He hath occasion to give a proof of his divine art and glorious
skill of healing diseased souls, and of making broken bones stronger
than ever they were. 3. Thus he effectually accomplished his noble
designs, and perfecteth his work, in a way tending to abase man, by
discovering his infirmities and failings; and to glorify himself in his
goodness and love. 4. Thus he triumpheth more over Satan, and in a more
remarkable and glorious manner destroyeth his works. 5. Thus he
declareth how wonderfully he can make all things work together for good
to his chosen ones that love him and follow him. 6. Yea, thus he
engageth souls to wonder more at his divine wisdom and power; to despair
less in time coming, when cases would seem hard; to acknowledge his
great and wonderful grace, and his infinite power and wisdom, that can
bring life out of death; and also to be more sensible of the mercy, and
thankful for it.

O believer, what manner of joy is here! how happy art thou that hath
given up thyself to him! Thy worst condition can turn to thy advantage.
He can make thy ignorance, vented with a mixture of corruption, turn to
the increase of thy knowledge. Bless him for this; and, with joy and
satisfaction, abide thou under his tutory and at his school. And withal,
be not discouraged, be thy case of ignorance and corruption what it
will, lay it before him with sincerity and singleness of heart, and then
"thou mayest glory in thine infirmities, that the power of Christ may
rest on thee," 2 Cor. xii. 9; for thou shalt see, in due time, what
advantage infinite love and wisdom can bring to thy soul thereby.

May not this be a strong motive to induce strangers to give up
themselves to him, who will sweetly take occasion, at their failings and
shortcomings, to help them forward in the way? And what excuse can they
have who sit the call of the gospel, and say, in effect, they will not
go to Christ because their case is not good. And O that believers were
not sometimes led away with this error of scaring at Christ, because of
infirmities seen and discovered!

V. It is remarkable, that, as the disciples did ofttimes vent much of
their carnal conceptions of the kingdom of Christ, as apprehending it to
be some carnal, outward, pompous, stately, and, upon that account,
desirable condition; so there might be much of this carnal apprehension
lurking under this acknowledgment and question of Thomas; and the Lord,
who knew their thoughts, doth here wisely draw them off those notions,
and sets them about another study, to tell us, that it is best and most
useful and profitable for us, to be much taken up in the study and
search of necessary fundamental truths, and, particularly, of the way to
the Father. For, 1. Here is the substantial food of the soul; other
notions are but vain, and oftentimes they make the case of the soul
worse; but the study of this is always edifying. 2. The right
understanding of this and other fundamental truths will not puff up, but
keep the soul humble, and will make the soul active and diligent in
duty. 3. The fruit of this study is profitable and lasting. 4. And the
right uptaking of these truths will discover the vanity of other
sciences, falsely so called, and the folly of spending our time about
other things. 5. The right understanding of this fundamental will help
us to understand other truths the better. 6. A mistake in this, and such
like fundamentals, or the ignorance of them, is more dangerous than the
ignorance of or mistake in other things.

Oh! if this were teaching us all, in humility, to be much in the study
of such fundamental necessary truths as this is; and to guard against a
piece of vanity in affecting knowledge, the effect of which is nothing
but a puffing of us up with pride and conceit!

VI. We may here take notice of what may serve to discover Thomas his
mistake, and what is the ground of Christ's assertion, verse 4, which
Thomas doth little less than contradict, verse 5, viz. that such as had
any acquaintance with Christ did, according to the measure of their
knowledge of him, both know heaven and the way to it; whence we see
these truths,

1. Persons may have some real acquaintance with Christ, and yet be, for
a time, very indistinct in their notions about him, and apprehensions of
him. They may know Christ in some measure, and yet look upon themselves
as great strangers to the knowledge of heaven, and be oft complaining of
their ignorance of the right way to heaven.

2. Where there is the least measure of true acquaintance with Christ,
with love to him, and a desire to know more of him, Christ will take
notice thereof, though it be covered over with a heap of mistakes, and
accompanied with much ignorance, weakness, and indistinctness. He seeth
not as man seeth, which is good news to some that are weak in knowledge,
and unable to give any good account of any knowledge they have; yet one
thing they can say, that he who knoweth all things, knoweth that they
love him.

3. Various are the dispensations of God's grace unto his own. To some he
giveth a greater, to others a lesser measure of knowledge of the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; and to one and the same person, more
at one time than at another. Various are his manifestations and
out-lettings of grace and love. Small beginnings may come to much at
length. Thomas, and the rest of the disciples, had but little clear and
distinct apprehensions of the way of salvation through Jesus Christ; and
yet, ere all was done, they attained to such a measure of understanding
in the mysteries of God, as that we are said to be "built upon the
foundation of the apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief
corner-stone," Eph. ii. 20. This should teach the best much sobriety,
and not to judge of all by themselves; or to think, that God's way with
them must be a standard or a rule whereby to judge of all the rest; as
if his way of dealing were one and the same with all.

4. The knowledge of Christ is all. Know him, and we know heaven and the
way to it; for upon this ground doth Christ make good what he said,
touching their knowing whither he went, and the way; and answereth the
objection that Thomas did propose, viz. because he was the way, &c., and
they being acquaint with him, (which here is presupposed,) were not
ignorant of the place whither he was going, nor of the way leading
thither. The knowledge then of Jesus Christ is a true and full compend
of all saving knowledge. Hence it "is life eternal to know him," John
xvii. 3. "They that know him, know the Father," John xiv. 9. and viii.
19. "They that see him, see the Father also," John xiv. 9. "He is in the
Father, and the Father in him," John xiv. 10, 11. and x. 38. and xvii.
21. And so knowing him they know heaven; for what is heaven else but the
presence and glorious manifestations of the Father; for when Christ
speaks of his going to heaven, he saith, "He was going to the Father."
So knowing him, they know the way, both how Christ was to go to heaven
as our cautioner, head, and attorney, and how we must follow.

Let then a man have never so much knowledge, and be acquainted with the
mysteries of all arts and sciences, and with the depths of nature, and
intrigues of states, and all the theory of religion; if he be
unacquainted with Jesus, he knoweth nothing as he ought to know.

And upon the other hand, let a poor soul that is honest, and hath some
knowledge of, and acquaintance with him, be satisfied, though it cannot
discourse nor dispute, nor speak to cases of conscience, as some others;
if we know him, it matters not though we be ignorant of many things, and
thereby become less esteemed of by others. Here is the true test, by
which we may take a right estimate of our own, or of others' knowledge.
The true rule to try knowledge by, is not fine notions, clear and
distinct expressions, but heart-acquaintance with him; "in whom are hid

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